Friday, April 29, 2022

Lorenzana to endorse P30-B OPV project to next DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2022): Lorenzana to endorse P30-B OPV project to next DND chief (By Priam Nepomuceno)

PNA file photo

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said he is inclined to endorse to the next defense chief the contract for the offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) which is worth PHP30 billion to avoid midnight deal allegations.

"Six yan (OPVs), kung maayos natin yan yung mga papeles I might also endorse it to the next Secretary of Defense para makita naman nya kung ano ang mangyari, kasi kung pirmihan ko yan baka sabihin midnight (deal) [That project consists of six (OPVs) and if we are able to complete all the documents, I might endorse it to the next Secretary of Defense, so he could have a look at it. This is to avoid midnight deal allegations]," he said when asked by reporters if he has any projects that he will endorse to the next administration at the sidelines of this year's Asian Defense and Security (ADAS) exhibition held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Lorenzana said that former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin did the same to him regarding the two missile-frigates of the Philippine Navy (PN).

He said that Gazmin did all the initial works on the project but did not sign it as his term was about to end at the time to avoid midnight deal accusations.

The DND earlier said it is now looking for new proponents for the PN's procurement of six OPVs due to pricing issues with Australian shipbuilder Austal. "Pending our approval of the contract for the purchase, they (Austal) said the cost has increased -- materials, labor and everything. They asked for additional payment. I think our budget is PHP30 billion, so they want PHP12 billion more for the six OPVs or they said we can reduce the number from six to five," Lorenzana said.

He added that he can no longer ask the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for additional funding. However, he also said reducing the number of OPVs to be acquired is not an option for the PN.

"Ang gusto nila (Navy) anim talaga dahil talagang (yun) kailangan natin, so ang ginawa nila ay nakikipag-usap sila ngayon sa mga ibang proponent (na) kayang tugunan without any increase in price or reducing the number of ships (What they really want is six because that is the number they need, so they are now talking with other proponents capable of giving that number without increasing the price or reducing the number of ships)," the DND chief earlier said.

Lorenzana also said that shipbuilders from France, Sweden, South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries, Japan, and India have expressed interest in the PN's OPV project.

Initially, Australian shipbuilder Austal was believed to be the frontrunner in the OPV project.

Lorenzana, in earlier statement, said tapping Austal for the project will be greatly advantageous to the country as it will provide jobs to Filipinos as the company has an existing shipyard in Balamban, Cebu which it had acquired from Aboitiz.

This is aside from the transfer of technology which will also be beneficial to the Philippines in the long run, he added. The OPV project is expected to replace the World War II surface assets decommissioned by the Navy.

The DBM already released the funds for the project last year.

As this developed, AFP chief Gen. Andres Centino, who attended this year's ADAS' opening ceremonies, called the exhibition an opportunity for the military's project evaluation teams to assess and evaluate suitable requirements for the military’s defense and security platforms, systems, and equipment.

Some 146 local and foreign companies are participating in this year's event. As the premier platform for manufacturers and distributors, ADAS seeks to showcase capabilities or solutions that address the requirements of defense and security agencies.

National disaster reduction agencies have similarly benefitted from the event where they are able to avail of the latest updates on new techniques and technologies in disaster management. Following its successful launch in 2014, ADAS reaffirmed its position as the Philippines’ Flagship Defense and Security event as it continues to attract a significant number of international exhibitors from around the world to Manila.

“By bringing the latest technologies from around the world to Manila, the exhibition has opened wider avenues for the professional training, education, and enhancement of personnel competencies and skills,” Centino said.

South Korea-donated rocket system expected this June

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2022): South Korea-donated rocket system expected this June (By Priam Nepomuceno)

The South Korean-donated K-136 "Kooryong" multi-launch rocket system (MLRS), which is intended for the Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Marine Corps (PMC), is expected to be delivered as early as June this year.

This was divulged by Army spokesperson, Col. Xerxes Trinidad, when sought for an update on the project on Wednesday.

"The Philippines will be providing the logistics for its shipment to our country. It is expected to be shipped within this year and has no specific timetable yet, although, it was earlier posted that by June 2022 ang dating nito sa bansa (will be arriving in the country)," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Also, he said that bidding for the MLRS' shipment or transport to the Philippines is now ongoing at the Department of National Defense (DND).

"The MLRS for the Army is donated by the (South) Korean government and it is still ongoing bidding at the DND (Department of National Defense) level for the shipment. The budget released (Special Allotment Release Order [SARO]) is dedicated for the shipment," he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

Trinidad said the SARO he was referring to was issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last April 22. It is worth PHP20,933,680 and is intended to "cover the funding requirement for the transfer and acceptance of the donations to the PA and PMC of the 130mm MLRS under the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program."

The South Korean MLRS donation was announced sometime in 2019. Around 22 MLRS are earmarked for the Philippines.

The "Kooryong" has a range of 48 kilometers to 80 kilometers and can be used for internal and external defense.

PA chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. earlier said that MLRS will be delivered this June and the weapon will be the "showcase" of the Army.

"These assets will be the 'showcase of the Army and all of these will be under the stewardship of the Army Artillery Regiment," he said.

List of names for next PNP chief now with PRRD

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2022): List of names for next PNP chief now with PRRD (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

PNA file photo

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday he has already forwarded to President Rodrigo R. Duterte names of two officials who would succeed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos.

Carlos is stepping down from his post on May 8 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

“I have already submitted my recommendation on Tuesday to the President alongside with the National Police Commission (Napolcom) Resolution 2022-0236. I have submitted the names of two senior police officials who may be designated by the President as the replacement of Gen. Dionardo Carlos in an acting capacity upon his retirement on May 8, 2022,” Año said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

On whether he was going to recommend the extension of Carlos’ tenure, Año said he would have to assess and wait for the President's order.

“Possible pa din (for the) extension (but it is still the) discretion pa din ni (of) PRRD,” he said.

Carlos said the PNP, under his leadership, has made preparations to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

He said he has complied with the directive of higher authorities to “make the necessary contingency plans after the May 9, onwards (and) a good transition to the next leadership of this country.”

“We made sure that the PNP will perform professionally for a peaceful election which means people will be able to come out to vote, their votes not bought, without any fear and on their free will," Carlos said. “We’re just looking at what's happening on a day-to-day, tweaking the plans if needed."

Among the officials who can succeed Carlos are Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, PNP’s No. 2 man as the deputy chief for administration; and Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao, the PNP’s No. 4 man as chief of the PNP Directorial Staff.

The PNP’s No. 3 man, PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Divina, is due to retire on May 2 or six days before the scheduled retirement of Carlos.

PH Air Force gets first-ever missile simulator

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 27, 2022): PH Air Force gets first-ever missile simulator (By Priam Nepomuceno)

MISSILE SIMULATOR. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (left) checks out a model of the SPYDER missile simulator with Israeli Ambassador Ian Fluss (right) and Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas Sr. (center) at the acceptance and turnover ceremony held at the Basa Air Base on Tuesday (April 26, 2022). SPYDER is short for the surface-to-air PYthon and DERby mobile-air defense system developed by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with assistance from Israel Aerospace Industries. (Photo courtesy of PAF)

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) can now train on various surface-air missile engagement techniques after it formally accepted its first missile simulator, the SPYDER Philippines Air Defense Systems (SPAD) Simulator-Training Center.

Air Force spokesperson Col. Maynard Mariano, in a statement Tuesday night, said the acceptance, turnover, and blessing ceremony took place at the Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga on April 26.

"The SPADS Simulator-Training Center is the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) first missile training center, which will serve as a training ground for future missile operators to prepare them for real-world challenges, as well as to increase personnel knowledge, skills, and develop the right attitude for air and missile defense," he said.

The SPAD Simulator-Training Center is part of the Ground Base Air Defense System (GBADS) acquisition project of the PAF, which seeks to enhance the military's defense capabilities.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was the guest-of-honor of the event, along with PAF chief Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss, Rafael Advanced Defense System executive vice president retired Brig. Gen. Pinhas Yungman, and Air Defense Command chief Maj. Gen. Augustine Malinit.

"During the activity, Secretary Lorenzana, along with PAF senior leaders were able to witness the missile engagement simulation and the training capabilities of the center and its attendant facilities," Mariano said.

In a statement Wednesday, Lorenzana said acquiring capital assets to help defend the country has always been one of the priorities of defense department.

“As your defense chief for nearly six years, my happiest and proudest moments were the attainment of milestones in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program,” he said.

The simulator training center aims to develop three different capabilities -- detection through radar, command and control, and missile firing.

It is also custom-made for the men and women of the PAF to utilize in their training on advanced air defense techniques.

Lorenzana also urged the PAF to take advantage of the new facility and prepare for more assets to come.

“May this new simulator training center inspire you to look into the Command’s bright future, utilize its capabilities to ensure the success of your missions,” he said.

SPYDER is short for the surface-to-air PYthon and DERby mobile-air defense system developed by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with assistance from Israel Aerospace Industries.

The Notice of Award for the GBADS acquisition project was released in 2019.

The PAF did not give the specific number of SPYDER batteries it is set to acquire.

Ex-NPA leaders get new lease in life as gov’t soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 29, 2022): Ex-NPA leaders get new lease in life as gov’t soldiers (By Che Palicte)

SERVING THE PEOPLE. Daniel Castillo, a former political instructor of the Guerilla Front 55 of the New People's Army, is now a soldier after he graduated from the six-month training at the Army’s 10th Infantry Division (ID) Training School on Thursday (April 28, 2022). He was joined in the graduation by Gelejurain l Alce Nguho, the former supply officer of the same NPA guerilla front, who is also now a soldier under the 10ID. (Photo courtesy of 10ID)

As former enemies of the state, serving in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was the last thing Daniel Castillo and Gelejurain l Alce Nguho had in mind. But fate has other plans.

From being communist New People’s Army (NPA) officers,
these surrenderers are now full-pledged government soldiers as they forged another path to "serve the people."

Castillo, known as "Ka Steven" within the NPA, is a former political instructor of the Guerilla Front 55 who surrendered to the Army’s 10th Infantry Division in November 2020.

Nguho, meanwhile, is a former supply officer of the same guerilla front.
He was among the 286 candidate-soldiers who finished their six-month training at the 10ID Training School on Thursday (April 28, 2022).

“My passion and skills were exploited by the communist group. Now that I am a soldier, I can use my skills and knowledge to serve our people,” Castillo told reporters during the closing ceremony of the Candidate Soldier Course held in the Davao de Oro town of Mawab.

At first, Castillo said the transition from being an NPA guerilla an Army serviceman was "tough." For starters, mingling with others was also a challenge for him because of his background.

“Soldiering is a regimented life. We have to wake up very early, we have to do drills, exercise. We were taught different skills and techniques to survive a soldier’s life to prepare us for the future,” he said.

Nguho, on the other hand, is the twin brother of Gelejurain II who was killed in a clash in February 2020 in New Bataan, Davao de Oro.

Gelejurain I was captured along with his girlfriend during an encounter in Paquibato District here in November 2020.

Gelejurain I decided to join AFP shortly after he was caught by government troops under the Army's 27th Infantry Battalion.

For him, his affiliation with the communist rebel group was not out of his own volition as he was only forced by his parents and siblings, who themselves NPA regulars themselves.

Mother’s wish

Paulette Castillo, Daniel’s mother, who is also a former regional peasant secretariat of the NPA's Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), expressed her gratitude to the government for the chance given to his son.

“I am happy that he became a soldier as compared to the time when he was an NPA member,” Paulette, who served in the NPA for 30 years before surrendering in July last year, said.

Paulette cited the role of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for their peaceful surrender and transition.

“If not for the NTF-ELCAC, my son would have not been a soldier now. He would have continued in the armed struggle and will not surrender,” Paulette said.

Peace champions

The Task Force Tuganay, a group composed of former rebels who now work with the government in various peace initiatives, also expressed their gratitude for Daniel’s success.

“From NPA cadre to peace champion, and now a soldier for the Republic of the Philippines! Our most heartfelt congratulations to Pvt. Daniel "Ka Steven" Castillo for being part of the graduating Masinag class of 698-2021 under the 10th Infantry Division Training School,” the group said in a statement Thursday.

Task Force Tuganay described Daniel's story is one of struggle, hardship, and hope not just for former NPA rebels but also the Filipino youth.

“He was once a student activist from Quezon City. Daniel's desire to serve the people served as the gateway for the CPP to recruit him into the NPA and the armed struggle,” it said.

“Daniel serves as an inspiration for the youth to maximize all their time and talents for genuine service; he is also a reminder to former rebels, that the government is always willing to take in any NPA member willing to lay down their arms, and serve the country in more meaningful ways,” the task force added.

The Communist Party of the Philippines–NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973.