Sunday, April 16, 2023

WESCOM: RP-US ships performed exercises as BALIKATAN continues off the coast of Palawan

Posted to the Western Command(WESCOM) Facebook Page (Apr 16, 2023): RP-US ships performed exercises as BALIKATAN continues off the coast of Palawan

Brooke’s Point, Palawan - After the amphibious raid in Samariñana, participating ships BRP Jose Rizal (FF150), BRP Tarlac (LD601), and USS Makin Island (LHD8) continued the exercises off the coast of Brooke’s Point on April 15, 2023.

FF150 and LHD8 performed the aerial gunnery exercise. While all three ships performed the replenishment at sea.
Aerial gunnery exercise is performed by simulating an aerial contact which the participating vessels will have to detect and engage. Replenishment at sea is the conduct of refueling and reprovisioning by other vessels while underway. Both exercises must be performed with precision and coordination.
After the performance of the said exercises, the three ships will group sail enroute back to Zambales for other activities and exercises scheduled thereat.
Western Command, through Joint Task Force West and Naval Forces West, bids fair winds, clear skies, and following seas to the participating units as they continue their partnership towards stability and progress. ###

WESTMINCOM: LOOK | Regiment Commander of PA premier Counter-Terrorist Unit of Light Reaction Regiment visits 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command(WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Apr 15, 2023): LOOK | Regiment Commander of PA premier Counter-Terrorist Unit of Light Reaction Regiment visits 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division

1st Infantry "Tabak" Division, Philippine Army

LOOK | The Regiment Commander of the Philippine Army’s premier Counter-Terrorist Unit of the Light Reaction Regiment visits the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division held at the Division Grandstand.

Brig. Gen. Monico Estoesta Abang, the Regiment Commander and his party were received by the Assistant Division Commander for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, Col. Antonio John B. Divinagracia, Staff officers and enlisted personnel of the command.

Brig. Gen. Abang is a proud member of Philippine Military “Sambisig” Class of 1991.
Brig. Gen. Abang underwent trainings on Special Operations and Counter-Terrorism, notably the Comprehensive Security Response to Terrorism Course in Hawaii and the Advance Special Operations Combatting Terrorism Course in Florida.

His leadership skills were also honed when he was assigned with the 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division.

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IG: @team.tabak
Photo by: PFC Jurix A. Tomo

WESTMINCOM: Civilians surrender loose firearms in Central Mindanao

Posted to the Western Mindanao Command(WESTMINCOM) Facebook Page (Apr 15, 2023): Civilians surrender loose firearms in Central Mindanao

Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City – April 16, 2023

Residents of Maguindanao del Norte and Sultan Kudarat surrendered their loose firearms to the military on Friday April 14, 2023.

Joint Task Force Central Commander, Maj. Gen. Alex Rillera, said that the residents from four barangays of Upi, Maguindanao del Norte and two barangays of Lebak, Sultan Kudarat turned over their loose firearms to Brig. Gen. Michael Santos, Commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade at the 57IB Charlie Company headquarters in Purikay, Lebak town Friday morning.
Maj. Gen. Rillera attributed this accomplishment to the joint efforts of the 57th Infantry Battalion (57IB) under Lt. Col. Guillermo Mabute, Jr., and the local government units of the two municipalities.
Surrendered loose firearms include one Carbine rifle with magazine and ammunition, two cal. 45 pistols with magazine and ammunition, one cal. 45 pistol with magazine and ammunition, one cal. 38 revolver with ammunition, one 9mm pistol with magazine and ammunition, one M203 Grenade Launcher, two M79 Grenade Launchers, and four 12-gauge Shotguns.
The turnover of firearms was witnessed by Lebak Vice-Mayor Melchor Alarcon; Sangguniang Bayan member, Mr. Randy Orgo; Lebak PNP; and the barangay chairpersons of Upi and Lebak respectively.
According to Brig. Gen. Santos, the surrender of loose firearms from the residents of barangays Renede, Bungcog, Blensong, and Kinitaan, all of Upi, Maguindanao Del Norte was facilitated by the Alpha Company of the 57IB based in Kinitaan, Upi town while those from the residents of barangays Tran and Datu Karon, both of Lebak, was facilitated by the Charlie Company of the said army battalion.
Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, Commander of Western Mindanao Command, said that the military remain steadfast in implementing the campaign against the proliferation of loose firearms. “While we continue to intensify our campaign against terrorism, we also work hard to address other security concerns and clear the communities from the root causes of criminalities in our area of operation.”

DND takes exception to claims PH interfering in Chinese affairs

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 16, 2023): DND takes exception to claims PH interfering in Chinese affairs (By Priam Nepomuceno and Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

Department of National Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Saturday said it takes exceptions to claims that it is meddling in the internal affairs of China concerning Taiwan.

The statement comes following the remarks of Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on Friday, saying that the US intends to take advantage of the new sites under Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) to interfere in the Taiwan Strait situation.

Huang added that Beijing “reserves the option of taking all necessary measures” over the Taiwan Strait as it advised Manila to oppose “Taiwan independence” if it genuinely cares about the 150,000 Filipinos working there.

"The DND takes exception to the statement of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian that the Philippines is meddling in the internal affairs of China concerning Taiwan," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

He also corrected claims that the situation in Taiwan is similar to that of Mindanao.

"We wish to emphasize that the issues are different from each other. The whole context and rich experience of our peace process in Mindanao, which allowed the participation of the international community (Malaysia, European Union, Turkey, Japan, Brunei, Australia, Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany, United Nations organizations, Japan International Cooperation Agency and other international organizations), is aligned with the Philippines' position of resolving disputes peacefully," he said.

He stressed that Manila continues to observe the One China Policy and maintains the non-interference in regional issues principle by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"We reiterate that our primordial concern in Taiwan is the safety and well-being of the Filipinos living and working on the island," he said.

Amid the tensions in the Cross-Strait, however, Andolong said the DND deemed it prudent to prepare for any contingencies to ensure the safety of Filipinos overseas, especially those based in Taiwan.

"In the midst of the complex regional security landscape, the DND seeks to improve the Philippines' defense capabilities through all the means available to us," he added.

‘EDCA not targeting a country’

Andolong similarly reiterated that EDCA is not directed against any country and is in line with ongoing efforts to modernize the country's alliance and enable collective defense and peace, promote the national interest, and protect its national sovereignty.

He said this is also being done to ensure the livelihood and welfare of Filipino fisherfolk and communities and enhance the capability to respond to emergencies and disasters, as well as provide humanitarian assistance.

"[W]e reiterate our appeal to all concerned parties and states to adhere to the rule of law and diplomacy in managing differences. The Philippines shall continue to advocate for peace, mutual respect and endeavor to protect and uphold our national and global interests," he said.

Experts on Saturday highlighted the importance of EDCA amid a rapidly changing security environment in the region.

At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, De La Salle University International Studies Professor Renato Cruz De Castro said EDCA addresses some of the limitations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) modernization program driven primarily by cost.

“EDCA sites are not only for building up the AFP, not only for deterrence. It has of course humanitarian assistance and risk reduction function,” he said.

“Of course, in the first place, he (Ambassador Huang) has no business telling us what to do with EDCA because we are a sovereign nation. All the EDCA sites, and this is something that all Filipinos should know, are within Philippine territory,” he added.

Gen. Edilberto Adan (ret.), in the same forum, said he supports the Marcos administration’s approach to increasing the country’s deterrent capability through the agreement.

“Alliance is not simply about fighting, alliance is about preventing wars. Alliance is for peace. But in case conflict erupts, the allies/the partners are assured that there is somebody alongside them to fight with them,” he said.

“So, it has several aspects – it prevents others from preying on the weak because they know the weak is allied with the strong. That’s one aspect of an alliance,” he added.

Status quo

Meanwhile, De Castro said the Philippines’ position over the issue should be for the status quo to remain over the Taiwan Strait.

“Let’s keep it that way, this is our interest. We are not concerned about Taiwanese independence, what is important is the status quo that has been there since 1949 should remain as it is,” he added.

AFP operations neutralize 3 Reds; 8 surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 16, 2023): AFP operations neutralize 3 Reds; 8 surrender (By Priam Nepomuceno)

File photo

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday said focused operations of field units in the past two weeks have resulted in the neutralization of three New People's Army (NPA) insurgents.

Military success started when troops from the 103rd Brigade encountered around 15 NPA rebels on April 12 in Bubong, Lanao del Sur, resulting in the death of one insurgent and the seizure of firearms and ammunition from the communist terrorist side, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Jorry Baclor said in a statement.

"On the same day, troops of the 46th Infantry Brigade encountered a group of terrorists at Barangay Mabini, Basey, Samar, which resulted in the death of two NPA members under Bugsok Platoon of Sub-Regional Committee Sesame and the recovery of three high-powered firearms, magazines and other war materiel," he added.

Meanwhile, one member of the NPA Sub-Regional Military Area 4A in San Jose, Antipolo City, Rizal surrendered to troops of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, 300th Air Intelligence and Security Wing and Philippine National Police on April 8.

"The surrenderer also gave up one caliber .45 pistol," Baclor said.

On April 10, intelligence operations from the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion and the 73rd Infantry Battalion facilitated the surrender of another NPA in Davao del Sur, bringing along one rifle and ammunition.

"On the same day, troops from 20th Infantry Battalion and 3rd Infantry Battalion also facilitated the surrender of two NPA members in Las Navas, Northern Samar. Both former rebels surrendered a rifle and war materiel," the military said.

From April 11 to 14, Baclor said four rebels surrendered to the elements of 38th Infantry Battalion of the 6th Infantry Division in Sarangani Province; 52nd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division in Samar; and 10th Infantry Division in Davao de Oro.

The rebels turned over two rifles, a caliber .45 pistol and improvised explosive device (IED).

"An encounter against rebels by the 4th Infantry Division troops led to the capture of a firearm and ammo in Surigao del Sur last April 13. Meanwhile, troops from 22nd Infantry Battalion in Sorsogon unearthed an enemy arms cache on April 13 consisting of one cal .38 revolver, one A1-9, various ammunition, IEDs, and other war materiel," Baclor said.

He added that the neutralization and the upward trend in the surrender of NPA members is a testament to the effectiveness of the AFP's focused military operations combined with other government peace initiatives.

PH, US forces hold amphibious raid exercise in Palawan

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 16, 2023): PH, US forces hold amphibious raid exercise in Palawan (By Priam Nepomuceno)

AMPHIBIOUS RAID EXERCISE. The Philippines and US forces hold amphibious raid exercises at the at the beachhead of Barangay Samariñana in Brooke’s Point, Palawan on April 14, 2023. This year's "Balikatan" started April 11 and is scheduled to end on April 28. (Photo courtesy of Naval Forces West)

MANILA – Naval Forces West (NFW) has announced that joint Philippines and US forces on April 14 have successfully conducted the amphibious raid exercise of this year's "Balikatan" in Palawan.

In a statement Saturday, NFW chief Commodore Alan M. Javier said the exercise was done at the beachhead of Barangay Samariñana in Brooke’s Point, Palawan.

"Following the arrival of the surface assets in Palawan (on April 14) an amphibious raid exercise was performed at the beachhead of Barangay Samariñana, Brooke’s Point, Palawan," he added.

This Fleet-Marine capability was showcased by different units, namely: BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), BRP Tarlac (LD-601), amphibious assault vehicles, marine amphibious ready unit and marine Reservists.

The US forces, meanwhile, employed their force reconnaissance platoon.

"Amphibious raids are usually performed against the enemy. It is accomplished by employing a special force into an area that is controlled by enemy forces. Amphibious raids are commonly quick and swift leaving minimal footprints on the ground," Javier said.

The successful conduct of the amphibious raid in the "Balikatan" 38-23 reinforces the Philippine Navy’s commitment in ensuring national sovereignty, security and stability.

This year's "Balikatan" started April 11 and is set to end on April 28.

Anti-tank live-fire with US forces

Meanwhile, the Philippine Army (PA) said it successfully executed the Javelin anti-tank weapon system live-fire exercise with the US Army and US Marines forces as part of the introductory activities of the Balikatan 38-23 at Range 2, Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija last April 13.

"The US Army, US Marines, and PA troops fired five missiles which are facilitated by the anti-tank trainers during the simulation of the combat scenario, a part of the 38th iteration of 'Balikatan',” Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement Saturday.

“The PA soldiers applied the skills they learned through lectures and simulation exercises, especially during the Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEE) of the recently-concluded 'Salaknib' 2023 Phase 1. The Army troops showed their tactical skills, accuracy, and confidence in using the Javelin weapon which could be one of the integral armaments of the PA’s future arsenal," he added.

Meanwhile, PA chief Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., who witnessed the exercise with United States Army Pacific commander Gen. Charles A. Flynn, applauded the smooth execution of the exercise.

“By sustaining the build-up and expansion of our areas of collaboration, we can achieve our shared goal of maintaining peace and security in the region,” he added.

Brawner also stressed that the exercise allowed the PA troops to deal with the real-time experience and to observe how the weapon works and reacts in the environment, particularly in an actual warfare setting.

”What you see here with 'Balikatan' and 'Salaknib' is an expression of us trying to commit to enabling and assisting the Philippine military (in) being able to protect their national sovereignty and protect the territorial integrity of the Philippines,” Flynn noted.