Monday, May 8, 2023

Bongbong Marcos open to purchase of PH’s first submarine — Zubiri

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 8, 2023): Bongbong Marcos open to purchase of PH’s first submarine — Zubiri (By: John Eric Mendoza)

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

CAVITE CITY, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is “warm to the idea” of purchasing submarines for the country, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Monday.

Zubiri, however, noted that the President “has a lot on his hands” as he tries to balance his “meager” budget.

“The President is warm to the idea, but of course the President has a lot on his hands,” Zubiri said in a chance interview at the Naval Station Pascual Ledesma.

Zubiri graced the christening ceremony of the Philippine Navy’s two fast attack interdiction craft platforms BRP Gener Tinangag and BRP Domingo Deluana.

The senator also said the President is also considering how he could utilize the country’s coffers wisely.

“He is also the concurrent secretary of agriculture, he knows there’s a lot of difficulties in the agriculture sector, and he’s trying to balance his meager budget of five trillion pesos on how to use it wisely.

“But he’s warm to the idea, because when we mentioned it to him, he said, ’Yes, let’s continue further discussion’,” he added.

Zubiri, who said that the country could allot P70 to P100 billion for the purchase of submarines, also noted that some countries are offering a long-term loan of twenty years.

“Actually the budget is between 70 to 100 billion [pesos] but the government offering us submarines is giving us a long-term loan of 20 years.

“Maliit lang po ang downpayment, at ang taon-taon I think ay manageable. [The downpayment is small and the yearly payment I think is manageable]. I think about less than four billion pesos a year,” he said.

Zubiri did not mention which country offered the said payment scheme.

France’s Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz earlier confirmed that Paris is in an “ongoing discussion” with the Marcos administration about the potential purchase of its first-ever submarine.

The Philippine Navy had also started to send personnel in France for training ahead of the procurement of the submarines.

The Philippines is an archipelago with one of the world’s longest coastlines and territorial disputes with its neighbors. But it has been left behind in the submarine race with its neighbors in Southeast Asia.

Currently, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore already have submarines.

PH Navy joins ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise; code for unplanned sea encounters among highlights

 From the Manila Bulletin (May 3, 2023): PH Navy joins ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise; code for unplanned sea encounters among highlights (By MARTIN SADONGDONG)

  • The Philippine Navy (PN) has deployed a 140-strong contingent to Singapore for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Maritime Exercise (AIME) 2023 from May 2 to 8 which will incorporate drills among participating countries to practice a code for unplanned encounters at sea.
  • Among the highlights of the exercise is the practice by the participating navies of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
  • The Singapore Ministry of Defence said that CUES is a “confidence-building measure to promote trust and reduce the likelihood of accidents or miscalculations in the maritime domain.”
The Philippine Navy (PN) has deployed a 140-strong contingent to Singapore for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Maritime Exercise (AIME) 2023 from May 2 to 8 which will incorporate drills among participating countries to practice a code for unplanned encounters at sea.

(Photo by Philippine Navy)

Capt. Sherwin Respeto, the Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché in Singapore, welcomed the PN contingent who arrived at the Changi Naval Base, Singapore on May 1 for the inauguration of the AIME 2023. Singapore's liaison officers were also present to welcome the Philippine contingent.

“As the Philippine Navy enjoys the influx of modern assets, its participation in this international exercise will sharpen the skills of its personnel,” said Capt. Benjo Negranza, PN spokesperson.

Among the highlights of the exercise is the practice by the participating navies of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

The Singapore Ministry of Defence said that CUES is a “confidence-building measure to promote trust and reduce the likelihood of accidents or miscalculations in the maritime domain.”

“This exercise (AIME 2023) allows navies of ASEAN Member States and India to strengthen collaboration, enhance understanding, and build confidence to address common maritime security challenges at sea,” the Singapore Ministry of Defence said in a press release on May 2.

The exercise was held as China continues to flex its might in the waters surrounding ASEAN countries as well as in Indian Ocean.

Last April 23, China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel 5201 carried out dangerous maneuvers near Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel BRP Malapascua by maintaining a perilous distance of only 50 yards in the Ayungin Shoal, West Philippine Sea.

China was criticized for the near-collision although Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning blamed the PCG for the incident, saying it was a “premeditated and provocative action for the Philippine vessel to barge into the waters of Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal).”

By participating in AIME 2023, Negranza said that the PN is showing “steadfast commitment to promoting regional peace and stability” among its counterparts from ASEAN and Indian navies, as well as neighboring countries.

The AIME 2023 involves nine ships, six aircraft, and over 1,800 personnel from 10 participating countries namely co-hosts Singapore and India, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Singaporean Minister of Defence said that the AIME 2023 comprises of a shore phase at RSS Singapura – CNB which will be followed by a sea phase in international waters along the transit route to the Philippines, where participants will subsequently take part in the ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise to be hosted by the PN.

“During the shore phase, personnel will participate in professional exchanges in Visit, Board, Search and Seizure, and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations,” the Singaporean Ministry of Defence said.

“During the sea phase, RSS Supreme and other participating ships will conduct various serials, including helicopter cross-deck landings, as well as maritime security, communication, and maneuvering exercises,” it added.

The exercise will conclude with a sail past of all participating ships at sea, or an inspection of the fleet of ships.

Aside from AIME 2023, the PN contingent will also attend the International Maritime Defense Exhibition Asia (IMDEX Asia) 2023 from May 3 to 5, which provides an avenue to foster engagements and showcase the latest innovations in naval technology.

U.S. Looks To Transfer 4 Patrol Boats To The Philippines

Posted to Naval News (May 3, 2023): U.S. Looks To Transfer 4 Patrol Boats To The Philippines (By Aaron-Matthew Lariosa

This will be the latest transfer of patrol boats to the Philippines following March's Cyclone transfer.


The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Washington (WPB 1331) patrols off Palau during Operation Kurukuru, Oct. 7, 2019. The cutter had embarked a Palauan ship rider and was assisting in law enforcement boardings during the operation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

On Monday, the U.S. announced its intention to transfer four patrol boats to the Philippine Navy. The transfer intends to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization plan, specifically the Philippine Navy’s maritime capabilities.

The intended patrol boat transfer consists of two Island and two Protector-class patrol boats from the U.S. Coast Guard. As of this writing, the vessels from these classes that the U.S. is looking to transfer have not been specified.

The Protector-class cutter Brant was decommissioned in St. Petersburg, Florida, in March of 2022. Protectors are being phased out in Coast Guard service by the more capable Sentinel-class cutters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Hudson.

Coming in at 168 and 91 tons respectively, the boats are less capable than the three larger 3250-ton Hamilton-class cutters the Philippines received in a similar transfer 12 years ago. These patrol boats will be the latest to join the Philippine Navy’s Littoral Combat Force, the command within the service that is responsible for missions close to the Philippines’ shores and internal waterways. The command also recently received four Israeli-origin Acero-class gunboats.

This follows another recent transfer of U.S. patrol vessels to the Philippine Navy, with USS Monsoon (PC 4) and USS Chinook (PC 9) being handed over to the service in March. Monday’s release did confirm that the two Patrol Coastals are currently en route to Manila.


BRP Kalanggaman being shadowed by a China Coast Guard cutter in the West Philippine Sea. This French class of Philippine Coast Guard patrol boat is similar to the four vessels the U.S. is looking to transfer to the Philippines. PCG Photo

Given the littoral nature of the Philippine archipelago, the vessels will likely find themselves performing similar duties akin to their service in the U.S. Coast Guard such as maritime interdiction and search and rescue. In the early 2000s, the Philippines received two former U.S. Coast Guard Point-class cutters, precursors of the two Protector-class boats planned for transfer. The Philippine Coast Guard also operates the Boracay-class, a similar type of patrol boat of French origin.

Included in Monday’s announcement alongside the four patrol boats were three C-130H Hercules transport aircraft. While this transfer is meant for improving the Philippine Air Force’s “tactical airlift capabilities,” it should be noted that the Philippines occasionally utilizes its C-130s in a rudimentary Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) role.

Original Transfer in 2018. U.S Embassy Philippines Photo.

SABIR has been used on Chinese bases in the SCS. U.S. Embassy Photo

In 2018, through the U.S. Maritime Security Initiative, the Philippines received a Special Airborne Mission Installation and Response (SABIR) system. SABIR can be bolted onto utility aircraft, in the Philippines’ case the C-130, and turn it into a more capable platform. SABIR’s utilization for MDA was seen in a ceremony in March, where the Philippine Air Force showed the system in action monitoring Chinese military installations in the South China Sea.

U.S. congressional notification requirements are required before the four patrol boats and three utility aircraft can be transferred to the Philippines.

The U.S. and the Philippines are seeking closer naval ties amid tensions in the region. Amid increased Chinese activity in the South China Sea, the Philippines’ naval forces are seeking more vessels.

A joint patrol in the South China Sea is being planned for later this year.

“We’re family’: PH, US boost intel sharing

Posted to Asia News Network from the Inquirer (May 5, 2023): “We’re family’: PH, US boost intel sharing (By Frances Mangosing, Marlon Ramos,Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Both sides will consult each other on policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of defence and military classified information.

Philippines President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. (L), is escorted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (R) during an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon May 3, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. AFP

WASHINGTON – The Philippines and the United States took a step closer toward a broader intelligence-sharing pact to deepen their defense alliance in the face of China’s aggression in the South China Sea.

Both sides have agreed to bolster intelligence security by consulting with each other on policies, practices and procedures related to the protection of defense and military classified information and in pursuit of a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), according to new bilateral defense guidelines released on Wednesday.

The treaty allies announced the adoption of the US-Philippines Bilateral Defense Guidelines after President Marcos visited the Pentagon as part of his five-day working visit to the US capital.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III, who welcomed the Philippine leader, assured Marcos of Washington’s readiness to come to Manila’s defense should any of its assets in the South China Sea come under attack, as mandated under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The guidelines were a first since the treaty was signed in 1951 and follow scores of Philippine diplomatic protests in the past year over China’s “aggressive” actions and threats against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

‘Gray zone tactics’

The guidelines said the bilateral treaty commitments would be invoked if either was attacked in the South China Sea and also if coast guard vessels were targeted.

They included references to modern forms of warfare, including “gray zone tactics,” which China is accused of using to assert its claims to sovereignty. The guidelines did not specifically mention China.

“We’re more than allies. We’re family,” Austin told the President at the start of their meeting.

“So make no mistake, Mr. President. We will always have your back in the South China Sea or elsewhere in the region,” he said.

In April, the two allies agreed during a high-level meeting of top diplomats and defense officials to conclude the GSOMIA by the end of 2023.

Deliberate, wide-ranging

According to a fact sheet on the new defense guidelines, both parties will broaden information sharing on early indicators of threats confronting the alliance to be able to respond to challenges.

The United States has been providing intelligence to the Philippines during the latter’s resupply missions to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, Philippine security officials confirmed to the Inquirer.

At present, a handful of Filipino sailors and Marines are stationed on the rusty BRP Sierra Madre, a warship deliberately grounded near the shoal to serve as an outpost. But Chinese ships often make it difficult for Philippine vessels to bring supplies to the troops there, the officials said.

While the two allies are already sharing information, the GSOMIA will formalize the intelligence-sharing activities and form protocols, said a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Our intel sharing efforts will be more deliberate. We can focus on pressing issues. We can formally establish intel sharing processes … We can perhaps avail [ourselves] of their assets or intel platforms and of various training and conferences/seminars. This is more wide-ranging compared to an informal arrangement,” the official said.

The agreement could also cover certain limitations of intelligence sharing with other countries and entities, he added.

Safeguarding documents

A Filipino diplomat, in a message to the Inquirer, described the GSOMIA as a “legal framework/agreement for the proper handling and safeguarding of classified documents or information.”

“Its conclusion allows stable and protected intel and info sharing,” the diplomat added.

The bilateral defense guidelines were approved two weeks after a PCG patrol vessel nearly collided with a China Coast Guard ship that blocked its path while conducting routine patrol operations at Ayungin.

‘Provocative, unsafe’

The April 23 incident prompted the US Department of State to call on China to refrain from “provocative and unsafe conduct” in the disputed waterway.

Marcos and Austin also talked about a plan to “swiftly operationalize” the four additional areas in the Philippines that American forces may access under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).

“In addition to the five existing Edca locations, these new sites will enable combined training, exercises and other cooperative activities,” according to a Pentagon readout.

Responding to Austin’s remarks, the President said he looked forward to working with the United States in meeting “new challenges that perhaps we have not faced before.”

US-Philippines Deepen Defense Guidelines On China

Posted to MENAFN-Asia Times (May 8, 2023): US-Philippines Deepen Defense Guidelines On China (By Richard Javad Heydarian)

(MENAFN- Asia Times) “We will always have your back in the South China Sea or elsewhere in the region,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told his special guest, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, during a special visit by the Filipino president to the Pentagon last week.

“Let me tell you once again that our Mutual Defense Treaty applies to armed attacks on our armed forces, coast guard vessels, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific including anywhere in the South China Sea,” the US defense chief reiterated to dispel any doubts about the relevance of the alliance to Manila's ongoing tensions with Beijing in the disputed waters.

For the first time under the Joe Biden administration, a foreign leader was accorded full military honors , even if Marcos Jr was not on a working visit to Washington, DC, underscoring the growing significance of the Philippine-US alliance in an era where regional states are being pressed to take sides in the escalating US-China rivalry.

Although the Biden-Marcos Jr confab at the White House dominated headlines, the visit to the Pentagon was arguably the most consequential leg of the Filipino leader's latest visit to the US.

Underscoring the comprehensive nature of the Pentagon discussions, Marcos Jr was accompanied by Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, Environment Secretary Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, and Information and Communications Secretary Ivan John Uy.

Following the high-level meeting, the two allies released on May 3 a six-page“bilateral defense guidelines” document, which aims broadly to strengthen military cooperation amid shared concerns over China.

Crucially, the new guidelines underscore the urgency of jointly addressing so-called“gray zone” threat s posed by China's maritime and militia forces in Philippine-claimed waters.

Over the past few weeks, Manila has been sending mixed signals in light of the expansion of the parameters of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which grants the Pentagon extensive access to more than half a dozen bases facing the South China Sea as well as Taiwan.

“The foreign minister of China [Qin Gang] just visited [me recently in Manila] and I told him and I assured him that no, these are not ... intended to be military bases to attack, to move against anyone...not China, not any country,” Marcos Jr said during his trip to the US, referring to the new EDCA sites in the northern provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, both of which are close to Taiwan's shores.

The Filipino leader repeatedly denied that the EDCA sites will serve as “staging areas” for America's potential offensive operations against China, especially in the event of an all-out conflict over neighboring Taiwan.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr meets US President Joe Biden in a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on September 22, 2022. Photo: Office of the Press Secretary / Handout / File

The Biden administration, according Marcos Jr, has“never brought up the possibility that
[EDCA sites will] be used” against China. If anything, the Filipino president has insisted that expanded bilateral security cooperation and American military footprint in the Philippines will primarily serve non-traditional security threats, given the Southeast Asian nation's vulnerability to climate change.

The problem, however, is that the Philippine military seems to be singing a different tune. Recently, Colonel Medel Aguilar, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), indicated that the US could enjoy even more expanded access under EDCA.

“If we are to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the protection of maritime resources that should be enjoyed by our people, we need a 360-degree protection capability for the [AFP],” declared the military spokesman, underscoring the importance Manila places on the EDCA for the modernization of Philippine defense capabilities.

“Aside from equipment, modernization also means getting facilities – such as runways, barracks for our soldiers and where to store equipment during times of emergency,” he added, in a mixture of Filipino and English, emphasizing the big picture importance of the defense pact.

Weeks earlier, the AFP also made it clear that EDCA sites will be crucial to joint operations during“emergency situations”, without overtly mentioning Taiwan or the South China Sea.

Marcos himself has acknowledged how the EDCA sites could“prove to be useful” amid“[rising] tensions across the Taiwan Straits.” During his trip to Tokyo earlier this year, the Filipino president also admitted that it's“hard to imagine” for the Philippines to remain neutral over any contingency in neighboring Taiwan. Not only is the Philippines a US treaty ally, but it also has naval facilities in Fuga and Mavulis islands, which are located just over 100 nautical miles from Taiwan's southern shores,

By all indications, the Filipino president is hedging his bets, desperately seeking a“goldilocks” level of military cooperation with the Pentagon, which enhances his country's defense capabilities without fully provoking China.

One area where both the US and Philippines were unequivocal, however, was the need to address China“gray zone” threats. The issue became a central theme in the bilateral alliance following the sinking of a Philippine fishing vessel in the Reed Bank in 2019 by a suspected Chinese militia.

The ensuing diplomatic crisis marked the denouement of a years-long build up in China's expansive deployment of an armada of militia vessels to contested areas across the South China Sea.

Just months earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly stated, “As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations.”

Following the collision at the Reed Bank, an energy-rich area near the contested Spratly group of islands, the then-US ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim went so far as to say that the MDT could be applicable in cases involving “any armed attack” against Philippine aircrafts, vessels and military personnel by “government-sanctioned militias.”

Gray zone threats were naturally a major part of the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue between the Pentagon and the AFP that year, as the two allies tried to address the then-Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana's call for a comprehensive review of the alliance to meet new emerging threats.

But with Beijing-friendly then-president Rodrigo Duterte opposing the full implementation of EDCA and threatening to nix the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) over disagreements on rights issues, any upgrade in the bilateral alliance had to wait for a more US-friendly administration in Manila.

Enter Marcos Jr, who contrary to earlier expectations has welcomed a robust military alliance with the US in order to check China's maritime ambitions. Under the newly-released “bilateral defense guidelines”, the two allies zeroed in on not just “grey zone tactics” but also other new emerging threats including space and cyber warfare.

This handout satellite imagery taken on March 23, 2021 and received on March 25 from Maxar Technologies shows Chinese vessels anchored at the Whitsun Reef, around 320 kilometres (175 nautical miles) west of Bataraza in Palawan in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP / Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

“Recognizing that threats may arise in several domains – including land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace – and take the form of asymmetric, hybrid, and irregular warfare and grey-zone tactics, the guidelines chart a way forward to build interoperability in both conventional and non-conventional domains,” the pentagon recognized in its new guideline with the Philippines.

Accordingly, the two allies vowed to “coordinate closely on the Philippines' defense modernization ”to enhance“ combined deterrence and capacity to resist coercion”; prioritize the procurement of “interoperable defense platforms” through various bilateral initiatives, and expand investments in “non-materiel defense capacity building”, including in developmental and humanitarian dimensions.

The two sides are also expanding cooperation in cyberwarfare and against potential usage of weapons of mass destruction in future regional conflicts.

Although the Philippine-US alliance is rapidly evolving in light of new emerging security threats in the Indo-Pacific, it remains to be seen how far both allies are willing to go to actually confront the armada of Chinese paramilitary forces, especially in the hotly-contested South China Sea. Not to mention, gray zone threats to neighboring Taiwan.

Follow Richard Javad Heydarian on Twitter at @richeydarian

Galvez: Preparations for EDCA sites also for disaster risk reduction

 From GMA News Online (May 8, 2023): Galvez: Preparations for EDCA sites also for disaster risk reduction (By GMA Integrated News)

It will be good if the Philippine military facilities which have been designated as sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will soon be operational, Department of National Defense officer in charge Carlito Galvez has said.

Under the EDCA, US forces may access Philippine military camps to build facilities, and preposition equipment, aircraft, and vessels.

According to Cedric Castillo's report on "24 Oras", Galvez indicated that the Philippines may benefit from the EDCA sites in ways other than building its security and defense.

“The preparations of the EDCA are also for disaster risk reduction and also for climate change. If we look at strategic areas that we have, these are isolated areas,” Galvez said.

The five existing EDCA locations are in Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu, and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro City.

Three of the four new EDCA sites are in the northern portion of Luzon, closer to Taiwan. These are the Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Isabela, the Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan, and the Camilo Osias Naval Base, also in Cagayan.

The fourth EDCA site has been designated on Balabac island in Palawan, near the disputed South China Sea.

Galvez said the Philippines gained an advantage from the presence of the US military.

“Right now, I think we have three instances of sinking vessels. And most of the EDCA sites were able to respond,” Galvez said.

The DND is currently preparing for the country’s hosting of the 2024 Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Galvez said the strengthening of the military is part of the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of the Philippines’ disaster response.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will lead the preparations for the international conference which is set to be attended by at least 3,000 foreign delegations from the Asia-Pacific Region.

“The Philippines will continue to be exposed but we need not be vulnerable... Without agreements and events such as these, it would be very difficult for us to take advantage of the best science and the best technologies as well as the best practices in the world,” Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga said.

Provide missile systems for PH, Israel urged

From the Manila Times (May 9, 2023): Provide missile systems for PH, Israel urged (By Bernadette E. Tamayo)

SENATE President Juan Miguel Zubiri said he asked Israel to help the Philippines acquire armaments and missile systems for the Philippine Navy's (PN) new patrol boats.

He vowed to pass the proposed Philippine Defense Industry Development Act to build the country's capacity to locally produce armaments and vessels for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The senator on Monday led the christening of two new PN gunboats and blessing of the upgraded naval shipbuilding center in Cavite City. Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci, Rear Admiral Renato David and Rear Admiral Mac Raul Racacho, Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss, and Israel Shipyards Chief Executive Officer Eitan Zucker also graced the event.

The two new patrol gunboats, BRP Gener Tinangag (PG903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG905), are Fast Attack Interdiction Craft-Missiles originally developed for the Israeli navy.

They are part of a fleet of nine Shaldag MK V vessels commissioned from Israel Shipyards Ltd.

Named after late corporal Gener Tinangag and late sergeant Domingo Deluana, who both died in the line of duty in Marawi and Maguindanao, respectively, the two vessels will join the Navy's Acero-class patrol gunboats.

Along with the christening of the vessels was the blessing of the newly upgraded Naval Shipbuilding Yard, a project also undertaken in partnership with Israel Shipyards Ltd.

Zubiri has called for the development of a credible defense posture for the country amid tension in the West Philippine Sea.

"We're also asking the Israeli government to help us with armaments and missile systems because what good is a brand new boat without armaments?" he said.

The Senate chief also assured the Navy that they have the whole Senate's support. "We still lack state-of-the-art maritime equipment and technology."

"Today the Navy makes up for that in heart, in smarts and in courage, but that is not enough if we will not give you proper equipment," he said.

"Despite the much more advanced technologies of some of the foreign actors — or sometimes I say, the bullies — aggressively circling our territory, the men and women of the Navy never back down from your sworn duty to protect the country and the Filipino people," he said. "I have no doubt that with these two new patrol gunboats, the Navy will be able to beef up our border patrol and maritime defense toward the ultimate goal of protecting our sovereignty."

"This is a giant step forward, as this will empower the Navy to be more self-sufficient in building and repairing its vessels, which will bring us closer to being on equal footing with the maritime technology of our neighboring countries," Zubiri added.

He gave assurances that senators are "committed to providing additional help and equipment to the Navy."

"We're also looking at anti-submarine planes, larger base ships for the West Philippine Sea," he said.

Militant bloc wants House probe on death of communist leaders

From Malaya Business Insight (May 9, 2023): Militant bloc wants House probe on death of communist leaders (By Wendell Vigilia)

THE militant Makabayan bloc yesterday filed a resolution urging the House committee on human rights to investigate what it called “grave violations of International Humanitarian Law” allegedly committed by the Armed Forces against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife, CPP secretary general Wilma Austria Tiamzon, and their eight companions who died last year.

Party-list Reps. France Castro (ACT), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela) and Raoul Manuel (Kabataan) filed House Resolution No. 939 following the communist group’s claim that its two leaders were captured, tortured, and killed by soldiers before their bodies were loaded into a boat that the military blew up off Catbalogan City in Samar in August last year.

“We hope that the House leadership would let the committee on human rights hear this resolution so that such incidents would not happen again,” Castro said in a statement.

In the resolution, the Makabayan bloc said “the government’s resort to brutality to suppress revolutionaries like the Tiamzons is not a solution to the underlying issues that give rise to armed conflict.”

“These issues include poverty, injustice, lack of sovereignty and independence, and a lack of genuine democracy. Resorting to terrorist tagging, fascistic acts, and military means will not resolve these socio-economic and political causes, which can only be addressed through genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, securing true independence, and the existence of real democracy,” it said.

The left-leaning lawmakers said the state’s “reliance on force cannot secure a lasting peace,” stressing that “alternative avenues must be pursued, such as the resumption of the peace process.”

The resolution said the Tiamzon couple and their companions were protected persons under international humanitarian law, which Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity defines “as prisoners of war or persons deprived of liberty for reasons related to an armed conflict, or civilians or hors de combat or persons not taking a direct part or no longer taking part in the hostilities in the power of the adverse party — all of whom must never be made objects of whatever military action, including military attacks, torture, and intentional killing.”

“The alleged brutal treatment they suffered at the hands of their captors and the massacre of their group, which was comprised of unarmed persons, are clear violations of the Geneva Conventions and the domestic laws on IHL,” the Makabayan bloc said.

According to reports, the Tiamzons travelled to Catbalogan City unarmed with their companions Ka Divino, Ka Yen, Ka Jaja, Ka Matt, Ka Ash, Ka Delfin, Ka Lupe, and Ka Butig when the state forces in Samar province captured them on Aug. 21, 2022. They reportedly suffered severe beating and torture.

Then 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon said they believed the 10 died after their boat exploded during a firefight off Catbalogan City on the early morning of August 22.

Special Forces soldiers equipped with night vision goggles, aboard boats, located the rebels off Catbalogan City, De Leon said, adding the soldiers asked the occupants to stop but they allegedly did not heed the call and instead opened fire.

De Leon said soldiers retaliated and, during the exchange of fire, the boat which was loaded with explosives exploded.

[Retired Analyst Note: The resolution was authored by known Communist Party of the Philippines party-list political parties who are all members of the so-call MAKABAYAN Bloc. Party-list Reps. France Castro (ACT), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela) and Raoul Manuel (Kabataan) are all long-time communist cadre active in various CPP front organizations. The political parties were formed as off-shoots of several CPP-linked sectoral fronts. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action (GABRIELA) and the Ang Nagkakaisang Kabataan Para sa Sambayanan (ANAK ng BAYAN or  'The United Youth for the People') later renamed Kabataan (Youth) were the sectoral fronts that formed basis for the founding of the party-list political parties bearing the same names/acronyms. The overriding mission of these front organizations is to discredit and undermine the Philippine government and military. For example, in this instance, these groups are seeking to discredit an apparently successful military operation that resulted in the deaths of key CPP leaders by falsely claiming that they were captured and executed and not killed during a legitimate encounter with Philippine security forces.]

PAF, US counterpart train on AIM-9 missile launchers

From the Manila Bulletin (May 8, 2023): PAF, US counterpart train on AIM-9 missile launchers (By MARTIN SADONGDONG)

  • The Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF) recently trained together on maintaining AIM-9 missile launchers as part of Cope Thunder 23-1 Exercise.
  • The AIM-9, also known as Sidewinder, is an American short-range air-to-air missile that is fitted with the PAF’s FA-50 supersonic jets.
  • American experts discussed with technical experts from PAF their best practices in maintaining AIM-9 missile launchers during a series of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) at the Clark Air Base and Basa Air Base in Pampanga on May 4 to 5.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF) recently trained together on maintaining AIM-9 missile launchers as part of the ongoing Cope Thunder 23-1 Exercise.

(Maintenance officers, technicians, and specialists from the Philippine Air Force and United States Pacific Air Forces discuss during a subject matter expert exchange on AIM-9 missile launcher maintenance. Photo courtesy of PAF)

The AIM-9, also known as Sidewinder, is an American short-range air-to-air missile that is fitted with the PAF’s FA-50 supersonic jets.

Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, PAF spokesperson, said American experts discussed with technical experts from PAF their best practices in maintaining AIM-9 missile launchers during a series of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) at the Clark Air Base and Basa Air Base in Pampanga on May 4 to 5.

“The objective of the SMEEs is to enhance the knowledge of our mission planners, communications operators, and maintenance officers and personnel in the performance of their roles in various operations necessary for mission accomplishment,” Castillo said on Monday, May 8.

The participants included the PAF’s 5th Fighter Wing and USAF’s Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).

Aside from AIM-9 maintenance, the participants also talked about a wide array of topics such as “mission planning cell (MPC) operations, communication security (COMSEC) organization, and dedicated crew chief (DCC) program.”

The 5th Fighter Wing also engaged in defensive counter air training with their American counterparts “to enhance interoperability between forces and safeguard critical and protected assets in the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, the PAF and US PACAF will also conduct a series of joint operations and training exercises at Clark Air Base and Basa Air Base on Tuesday, May 9.

“At Clark Air Base, there will be a joint pre-flight briefing and actual flight operations exercise which will involve both the FA-50 (PAF) and F-16 aircraft (US PACAF),” Castillo said.

“At Basa Air Base, a Basic Instructor Course and Security Forces Subject Matter Expert Exchanges will also take place,” she added.

The Cope Thunder marks the revival of the bilateral exercise between the two Air Forces after 33 years.

The original Cope Thunder exercises were first held in 1976 and continued annually in the Philippines until 1990 to provide regular flight training for US pilots and allied nations.

Philippines' Marcos muscles up ASEAN's South China Sea posture

Posted to Nikkei Asia (May 8, 2023): Philippines' Marcos muscles up ASEAN's South China Sea posture (By CLIFF VENZON and NORMAN GOH, Nikkei staff writers)

China tensions loom over bloc summit as Malaysia asserts gas rights, Vietnam hones defense

SAN ANTONIO, Philippines/KUALA LUMPUR -- Clad in a bomber jacket, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. climbed into the cabin of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) for a briefing on the American launcher's lethal capabilities.

Later, from an observation tower, he peered into binoculars as another HIMARS fired six rockets at a decommissioned corvette in waters facing the South China Sea, where the Philippines and China are embroiled in a long-standing maritime dispute. The rockets missed, but U.S. and Philippine airstrikes sunk the ship.

The simulation Marcos attended on April 26 capped two weeks of joint drills named Balikatan -- meaning "shoulder to shoulder." This year's edition was the largest the U.S. and Philippines had ever conducted together, with 17,600 participants.

Marcos' presence highlighted a dramatic shift in Manila's approach to the South China Sea dispute since he took office last June -- a move one analyst said could embolden other claimants, some of which have also changed governments in the past year.

This week, the South China Sea dispute is expected to be high on the agenda when leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hold their summit in Indonesia. ASEAN states Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also lay claims to parts of the waterway, through which around $3 trillion worth of trade passes annually.

Marcos' predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, had threatened to end the Philippine-U.S. troop deployment agreement that facilitated Balikatan. Duterte also wanted to scale down such maritime security drills, wary of upsetting China, which he eagerly courted for investment. While Marcos himself in January won $22.8 billion in investment pledges from China, which officials say are slowly being realized, the new Philippine leader has risked Beijing's ire with his decision to expand the U.S. military presence in his country and to publicize China's aggressive actions in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

That body of ocean -- the section of the South China Sea covered by the Philippines' EEZ -- includes the Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands.

"The Philippines' strengthened posture in the South China Sea, with its increased cooperation with the U.S. and its willingness to 'name and shame' China's illegal activities in the region, will encourage other Southeast Asian claimants to be more confident in protecting their rights in the South China Sea," predicted Alexander Vuving, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.

The other claimants are less likely to "feel alone," he explained.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has taken a stronger stand on South China Sea disputes in his first year in office, gets a briefing on the U.S. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System during a live fire exercise on April 26. © AP

Beijing has bolstered its own expansive claims over the critical swath of ocean, building artificial islands with military installations in contested waters. It continues to reject a 2016 ruling by an international arbitration court that invalidated its assertion of sweeping sovereignty based on historical maps, after a long-running case originally filed by Manila.

In recent years, Chinese vessels have obstructed Filipino fishermen in traditional fishing grounds; rammed and sunk a Filipino fishing boat; swarmed Manila's EEZ; and in February used a military grade laser light against a Philippine Coast Guard ship, temporarily blinding its crew.

Amid the simmering tensions, Marcos has ordered the Philippine military -- which has been fighting domestic communist and Islamist rebels for decades -- to focus on external defense.

Marcos in February also approved four additional military bases that the U.S. can access to help safeguard Manila's interests. "We do not want to be provocative but ... we feel that it will help in making sure that there is safe passage in the South China Sea," Marcos told Nikkei Asia in an interview in February when asked about his base access decision.

Last week, Marcos visited the U.S. to meet with President Joe Biden. In Washington, he won security guarantees as well as donations of patrol vessels and aircraft. The partners also set up new bilateral defense guidelines that aim to modernize their alliance under their 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The guidelines call for expanded maritime cooperation, including joint patrols.

"As President Biden has made clear, our commitment to the defense of the Philippines is ironclad. And let me say once again that our [treaty] applies to armed attacks on our armed forces, Coast Guard vessels, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including anywhere in the South China Sea," U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Marcos.

Washington has no claim of its own over the South China Sea, but the area has become a flashpoint in the U.S.-China power rivalry. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning on Thursday said Beijing opposes "any country's move to meddle in the South China Sea issue to harm China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests."

She added, "I would like to stress that the South China Sea is the shared home for countries in the region, not a hunting ground for forces outside the region."

Philippine President Marcos and U.S. President Joe Biden walk to the Oval Office in Washington on May 1. © Reuters

Days before Marcos' visit, the U.S. accused China of "harassment and intimidation" in the South China Sea, after the Philippine Coast Guard reported "aggressive tactics" and "dangerous maneuvers" by Chinese vessels during a round of weeklong patrols within the Philippines' EEZ.

The coast guard said its patrols were "in accordance with President Marcos' directive." It even brought in journalists to document confrontations with Chinese ships -- part of Manila's move to increase public awareness of Beijing's aggressiveness.

Elsewhere, there are some signs of other claimants insisting on their rights in the resource-rich sea.

A Chinese H-6K bomber: Beijing says the South China Sea is a "shared home for countries in the region, not a hunting ground for forces outside the region." © Xinhua via AP

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was sworn in last November, told the parliament in April that he had raised the issue of Chinese encroachment into Malaysian waters and airspace during his visit to China earlier in the month, vowing to press ahead with resource exploration.

"I said this personally to Premier Li Qiang and President Xi Jinping that the gas project is located within the Malaysian [sovereign] area, therefore, Petronas will continue to operate there," Anwar said, noting that he left the door open for negotiations.

State-owned Petronas is exploring the Kasawari Gas Field, off the coast of the state of Sarawak in Borneo. The field is estimated to contain 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and is considered vital to Malaysia's economic future. A China Coast Guard vessel had been spotted operating near the project.

Long before Marcos took office, Vietnam was also speaking up about China's South China Sea maneuvering. This is likely to continue after this year's leadership changes in Hanoi, analysts said.

Significantly, Vietnam has been quietly modernizing its navy, air force and cyberwarfare capabilities. It has also moved to develop defense cooperation with foreign partners on weapons procurement, joint military drills and intelligence sharing, noted Ha Hoang Hop, an associate senior fellow at ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. These are "all necessary steps" to enhance Vietnam's defense and security, to help "hedge" external risks, he said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, pictured during a visit to Manila on March 1, says he has raised the issue of maritime encroachments with Beijing and vowed to press ahead with resource exploration. © Reuters

Heading into the ASEAN summit, meanwhile, a question is to what degree bloc members -- some with competing South China Sea interests among themselves -- can get on the same page.

For years, ASEAN and China have been in talks for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to manage tensions. Indonesia, this year's ASEAN chair, plans to intensify negotiations that have been hampered by divisions among claimant states as well as non-claimant members -- such as Laos and Cambodia -- that are economically dependent on China.

Zokhri Idris, a managing partner of Global Asia Consulting, pointed out that not everyone shares Marcos' enthusiasm for U.S. involvement. "Other claimants like Malaysia and Brunei do not share alliances with the U.S. and especially Malaysia rejects foreign military presence" in Southeast Asia, he said, though he added that Malaysia would not interfere with the Philippines' internal decisions.

In Idris' view, "Vietnam possibly would follow Philippines' moves" in adopting a more muscular posture, though he stressed Hanoi would tread carefully to avoid undermining its rise as a trading nation. Officially, Vietnam also opposes stationing foreign troops on its soil and entering military alliances with outside powers under its "four no's" policy.

Over the past week or so, Vietnam joined the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand in maritime drills with India in the South China Sea, under Beijing's watchful gaze.

Whatever ASEAN does, Bich Tran, an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, is skeptical of the Code of Conduct.

"The Code of Conduct process is unproductive regardless of recent developments because China does not want to tie its own hands," Tran said. "Beijing will either drag the negotiation or push for an agreement on its own terms, which ASEAN claimants would not want."

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius conducts routine operations in South China Sea on March 24. © U.S. Navy/AP

As for China's actions, Tran does not expect much of a change. "It is unlikely that Beijing will abandon its gray zone tactics in pursuit of a more confrontational strategy," she said, referring to China's usage of nonmilitary vessels to assert its claims.

Like Tran, Vuving at the Daniel K. Inouye Center is doubtful that a code will be hammered out anytime soon. But he suggested the Philippines' emergence as a leader in standing up to China could make it the "main target" of retaliation.

"China will be more aggressive against the Philippines to test how the U.S. would support them," he said. "But China will remain assertive against Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia to dissuade these countries from following the Philippines' lead."

[Additional reporting by Kim Dung Tong in Ho Chi Minh City and Erwida Maulia in Jakarta.]

Philippine frigates progressively advance operational capability

Posted to Shephard Media (May 9, 2023): Philippine frigates progressively advance operational capability (By Gordon Arthur in Singapore)

An AW159 helicopter performed a first at-sea landing on BRP Antonio Luna during its passage to Singapore. (Photo: PN)

A couple of years into their service, the Philippine Navy continues to improve and test its two South Korean-built frigates.

The Philippine Navy (PN) continues to progress the capability of its two Jose Rizal-class frigates, the incoming commander of BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) told Shephard at the recent IMDEX 2023 exhibition in Singapore.

Cpt Clyde Domingo, who will take command of this vessel on 30 May, said that Mistral missiles would be fired from its Simbad-RC launchers for the first time in mid-May.

Furthermore, an AW159 helicopter landed on BRP Antonio Luna at sea for the first time on 29 April, after the frigate departed its home port of Subic Bay en route to Singapore. This was part of AW159 qualifications on this class and, once completed, these helicopters will greatly enhance the frigates’ anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Because these certifications are ongoing, the frigate instead embarked an AW109E Power for the Singapore visit.

FF-151 was making its maiden visit to Singapore to both attend IMDEX and to participate in the first ever ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise.

A week earlier, sister ship BRP Jose Rizal fired its OTO Melara 76mm Super Rapid naval gun as part of a sinking exercise during Exercise Balikatan.

Domingo added that, when Antonio Luna attended RIMPAC 2022 in Hawaii, it achieved third place out of 19 vessels in a naval gunnery contest.

The two 2,600t frigates are fitted for but not with SAMs for the eight-cell vertical launch system. Nor is a CIWS yet installed, though it is unlikely the American Phalanx will be selected due to cost.

The two Jose Rizal-class vessels built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) are currently at the apex of the PN’s naval capability. However, two new 3,100t corvettes being constructed by HHI will be larger than these frigates and delivered by 2025.

The MH-60R will likely be competing against the AW159 for a future requirement for up to six ASW helicopters to embark aboard modern PN warships.

In video footage recently taken near the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, a China Coast Guard vessel manoeuvred dangerously near a smaller Philippine Coast Guard vessel. When asked about this poor seamanship. Domingo confirmed that such aggressive actions by China were unfortunately a regular occurrence in the area.

[Gordon Arthur is the Asia Pacific editor for Shephard Media. Born in Scotland and educated in New Zealand, Gordon had a stint of nearly 20 years in the territory of Hong Kong before returning to NZ.
His work has appeared in nearly 40 international defence journals and magazines to date. His focus is primarily on Asia-Pacific countries, and he travels extensively in the region to attend defence shows and observe military exercises.]

2 Navy gunboats named after fallen Medal of Valor awardees

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 8, 2023): 2 Navy gunboats named after fallen Medal of Valor awardees (By: John Eric Mendoza)

Jasmin Joy Escobido shows the portrait of her partner Corporal General Tinangag through her smartphone. (John Eric Mendoza/

Marilyn Juatno holds a portrait of his brother Sergeant Domingo Deluana. (John Eric Mendoza/

CAVITE CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Navy named its two gunboats in honor of the Medal of Valor awardees who were killed in Battle of Marawi and campaign in Maguindanao, providing a bittersweet moment to their loved ones.

With the late soldiers’ relatives in attendance, the two Israeli-made fast attack interdiction craft platforms are now christened as BRP Gener Tinangag and BRP Domingo Deluana during a ceremony here in Naval Station Pascual Ledesma.

Corporal Tinangag

During the Battle of Marawi, Corporal Tinangag, 23, was the assistant rifleman who rescued four wounded Marines before hen was killed by an enemy sniper with a shot to the stomach

Jasmin Joy Escobido, Tinangag’s spouse, said she will never forget the last words of her partner during the battle: “Don’t worry, I am coming home soon.”

Escobido, who said she was elated when she learned that a gunboat will be named after Tinangag, described her partner as “good, loving and thoughtful.”

“I was very happy when someone called to inform me that one of the ships will be named after Corporal Gener Tinangag,” Escobido said.

Escobido and Tinangag have a son, who the widow said may follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I think he feels happy,” she said. “Even if his father was already gone when he was very young.”
Sgt. Deluana

Marilyn Juatno, Deluana’s younger sister, was surprised when her brother was given the distinction 23 years after his death.

“We are very happy and proud that, 23 years after he passed, he was given this recognition by the Navy,” Juatno said.

“We did not expect that, after his death, the officials would still remember him.”

Sergeant Deluana provided suppressive fire to cover the medical evacuation of his wounded Marines until an RPG blast caught them during the campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Maguindanao in 2000.

Describing him as “kind and helpful”, Juatno said her brother has helped his poor relatives a lot.

“We have so many good memories of him,” she said.

“We are happy, but we also feel sad because had he been alive, he would have appreciated this award,” Juatno said, on the verge of tears.

“Even if he had this award, he’s still gone.”

PH Navy christens 2 newly-acquired fast attack vessels from Israel

From ABS-CBN (May 8, 2023): PH Navy christens 2 newly-acquired fast attack vessels from Israel (By Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News)

PH Navy welcomes two brand new missile-capable Shaldag MK V fast attack interdiction craft-missile (FAIC-M) in a christening ceremony at Navy Sea Systems Command in Cavite City on Monday. Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

CAVITE — The arrival of two brand new missile-capable vessels is expected to boost the Philippine Navy’s capability to protect the country’s littoral zones.

The fast attack interdiction craft missiles (FAIC-M) are among the nine acquired by the Department of National Defense from Israel.

“In a rapidly changing world, the Philippine Navy is at a critical juncture. Security dynamics are constantly evolving and the need for capability upgrades has been more apparent in our maritime defense,” Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci, flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy, said in his speech during the christening ceremony at Fort San Felipe in Cavite City on Monday.

He went on: “Our archipelagic nature demands that we secure our territorial waters and protect our maritime interests with unwavering determination. Thus, as we continue to fulfill our mandate towards mission accomplishment, we are also embarking on a transformative journey to upgrade our defense capabilities and forge a path to self-reliance.”

The new vessels were christened BRP Gener Tinangag (PG-903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG-905). Both are members of the Philippine Marine Corps and recipients of the Medal of Valor.

Corporal Tinangag was killed while trying to save his comrades during the Battle of Marawi in 2017.

Sergeant Deluana, meanwhile, was hit and killed by an RPG blast during the campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Maguindanao in 2000.

The families of the deceased officers were in attendance.

“Isa siyang mabuting kasama, mapagmahal at maalalahanin,” Jasmin Joy Escobido, widow of Tinangag, told reporters.

“Nawala ‘yung papa niya, talagang bata pa siya (son), hindi niya masyadong nakasama… Nakakaproud si papa mo... Tingnan mo, ang papa mo, kahit wala siya, maging proud ka kasi kahit wala siya, nakikilala pa rin siya na parang andito lang siya,” she added.

“Natutuwa kaming family. Proud ako na kahit 23 years na siyang namatay ay nabigyan siya ng ganitong magandang tulong dito sa Hukbong Dagat,” Marilyn Juatno, sister of Deluana, said.

“Nalulungkot din. Kung buhay sana siya, natatamasa niya ang ganitong awards. Pero kahit naawardan man siya, wala na ho.”

Currently, the country has four Shaldag Mark V vessels. Two were formally commissioned in November last year and are deployed to the West Philippine Sea and Southern Philippines. Two more are expected to arrive within the year.

The remaining three are slated to be built and installed at the upgraded shipbuilding center of the Philippine Navy in Cavite.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who led the christening ceremony, gave his commitment to supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines' modernization program.

“Sana madoblehan natin ito at ang Senado, itutulak—kinausap ko na silang lahat—na huwag pumayag na ang ating mga sundalo at Navy personnel, nakasakay lamang sa rubber boat at pinaglalaban ang sovereignty ng ating bansa,” Zubiri said in an interview with the media.

“Kung hindi mapasok sa NEP, national expenditure program, we are willing to make adjustments in the budget 'pag dumating na sa Kongreso at Senado… to push for a more modern Navy,” he added.

Zubiri stressed, it is important to develop a credible defense posture for the country amid tensions on Philippine waters and security challenges in the region.

Marcos Meets Biden Amid Tightening Security Ties

 Posted to the US Institute of Peace (May 1, 2023): Marcos Meets Biden Amid Tightening Security Ties (By Brian Harding)

With growing concerns over China’s actions in the South China Sea, the Filipino president has reoriented Manila’s relations with the U.S.

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is in Washington this week, capping off a period in which Washington-Manila ties have seen a sharp turnaround. During former President Rodrigo Duterte’s six-year tenure, he sought to align Manila closer with Beijing, but with ultimately little to show for it. Since taking office last June, Marcos has moved to reverse course, dramatically deepening the 70-year-old U.S.-Philippines security alliance amid China’s increasingly coercive actions in the South China Sea. It is expected that Marcos and President Joe Biden will announce this week plans for stepped up military coordination. But, as the security relationship has seen swift advancements in the last year, this week will likely focus on a broader suite of issues, including economic and people-people ties.

Philippine Navy officers watch a Patriot surface-to-air missile fired during joint exercises with U.S. forces in San Antonio, Philippines, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. (Ezra Acayan/The New York Times)

USIP’s Brian Harding explains what’s behind the deepening U.S.-Philippines security alliance, how the Philippines has sought to balance ties with Washington and Beijing, and how the economic relationship will be addressed during Marcos’ visit.

What’s behind the recent expansion of the U.S.-Philippines security alliance?

Since Marcos took office last June, the U.S.-Philippines alliance has undergone a dramatic turnaround following six extremely difficult years under former President Duterte, who sought to create distance between the Philippines and the United States and to recast relations with China. While Duterte made political targets out of the very foundations of the alliance — the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Visiting Forces Agreement — Marcos has made clear that the alliance is on firm ground under his administration and has quickly pushed forward implementation of the long-stalled Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and expanded its scope. The 2014 ECDA intended to facilitate a rotational U.S. military presence in the Philippines, the construction of facilities for the use of U.S. and Philippine forces and the prepositioning of U.S. military equipment in the Philippines. While bilateral military-military cooperation continued under the radar under Duterte, the change in tone was on full display last month when Marcos personally observed the largest and most complex U.S.-Philippines military exercise ever.

For the United States, the Philippines is an indispensable ally due its strategic location, just south of Taiwan and abutting the South China Sea. Whether the United States has access to military facilities in the Philippines could potentially be the key variable in a military contingency in the western Pacific.

The Biden administration has seized the opening for a deepening of the alliance under Marcos with Biden quickly calling to congratulate Marcos upon his election — despite concerns about the Marcos family’s corruption — and early visits by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The administration’s efforts have been rewarded to date, most notably by Manila recently expanding the scope of EDCA to include four new locations, with two with clear implications for a potential crisis involving Taiwan.

For the Philippines, its military alliance with the United States is its most important leverage to deter Chinese efforts to seize features claimed and occupied by the Philippines in the South China Sea or from being collateral damage in a conflict over Taiwan. While the Philippines would prefer to be able to deter China unilaterally and is seeking to develop a more credible indigenous defense posture, the reality is its greatest asset is the security guarantee under the MDT with the United States and U.S. commitment to abide by the treaty.

How has Manila sought to balance ties with Beijing and Washington?

Duterte made a strategic bet that minimizing differences with China, notably on the South China Sea, would result in meaningful economic gains for Manila. However, despite putting aside the Philippines’ victory in the Hague over China’s unlawful claims in the South China Sea, the promises of billions of dollars of investment when Duterte visited Beijing early in his tenure, and the downgrading of ties with Washington, Chinese investment in the Philippines barely budged under Duterte. Moreover, China’s maritime forces only became more aggressive in harassing Philippines vessels within its lawful Exclusive Economic Zone. Marcos appears to have learned that acquiescence will not lead to better Chinese behavior and has instead chosen to deepen ties with Washington and be vocal about Chinese harassment in the South China Sea.

Nevertheless, China is the Philippines largest trading partner and there is considerable scope for closer economic relations between the two countries, and the Philippines must at least seek to keep ties with Beijing stable. Marcos visited Beijing in January 2023, with a large business delegation at his side, in an effort to encourage closer economic ties and more stable relations.

Aside from security and defense issues, what else is on the agenda for Marcos’ Washington visit?

Aside from celebrating and advancing the increasingly close and institutionalized security ties, the economic relationship, the nexus between economics and security, and people-people ties will be center stage for the visit. Marcos, who will bring a large business delegation and several cabinet members, will have extensive meetings with U.S. business leaders in an effort to expand U.S. investment in the country and Biden will announce a high-profile U.S. trade and investment mission to Manila. Attracting U.S. investment would be an important political outcome for Marcos and a demonstration to voters that bold efforts to deepen security ties will have broad-based benefits to the Philippines. In meetings with industry and government, Marcos will focus on three of his top priorities: climate, energy and food security. While Manila would like to work toward a bilateral free trade agreement, trade policy discussions will likely focus on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations and a new labor dialogue.

Another agenda items will be human rights in the Philippines, where extrajudicial killings are frequent and a culture of impunity often reigns. Marcos will make the case that things are changing under his administration, highlighting the Philippines Justice Department’s pledge to full investigate the murder last week of a labor organizer Alex Delorosa. However, with charges still facing two high-profile victims of Duterte’s assault on civil society, Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa and former Senator Leila de Lima, Marcos will be sure to hear directly from Biden on the importance of the rule of law to sustaining momentum in the overall bilateral relationship.

Finally, Marcos will engage with the Philippine diaspora community, which numbers over four million, and discuss ways to leverage the unusually deep people-to-people ties between the United States and the Philippines, a former U.S. colony.

Wife of alleged Dawlah Islamiya sub-leader arrested in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 8, 2023): Wife of alleged Dawlah Islamiya sub-leader arrested in Sultan Kudarat (By: Edwin O. Fernandez)

ISULAN, SULTAN KUDARAT–Police authorities in Maguindanao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat arrested in the hospital on Sunday a woman suspected to be the finance officer of Dawlah Islamiya terror group.

Racma Dinggo Hassan, who also goes by the name Halimba Ebrahim and wife of the slain DI subleader Norodin Hassan, had a standing warrant of arrest for multiple frustrated murder with recommended bail bond of P120,000, according to Capt. Joel Lebrillo, police chief of Rajah Buayan municipal police station in Maguindanao del Sur.

Hassan was arrested at the Sultan Kudarat provincial hospital here on the basis of an arrest warrant against her, Lebrillo said.

Three days before her arrest, Hassan was confined at the provincial hospital in Isulan town because of head injuries.

The operation to arrest Hassan was conducted by the Isulan town police, the Special Action Force and police mobile groups from Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao del Sur.

Lebrillo said Hassan’s husband Norodin, also known as “Andot” was a sub-leader of Dawlah Islamiyah killed by government forces with three of his followers on January 15 last year during law enforcement operation in Barangay Tunganon, Carmen, Cotabato province.

Seized from them were two rifles and improvised explosive devices.

According to Lebrillo, his wife has been serving as logistic, financial facilitator and liaison officer of the terrorist operation in the towns of Rajah Buayan, Sultan sa Barongis and Shariff Sayfdona Mustapah.

RELATED STORY: 3 Dawlah Islamiya members killed, cop hurt in Lanao del Sur clash

Manila’s Focus on External Defense Needs Peace in Mindanao

Posted to The Diplomat (May 8, 2023): Manila’s Focus on External Defense Needs Peace in Mindanao (By Georgi Engelbrecht)

Despite its increasing focus on external threats, the Philippine government can’t afford to take the Bangsamoro peace process for granted.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, claps as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, left, shakes hands with Senate President Franklin Drilon, right, as he hands over the Draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014.Credit: AP Photo/Aaron FavilaA

As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with Joe Biden in Washington last week to boost economic ties and bilateral defense cooperation, the Philippine military launched airstrikes and mortar attacks on marshy militant hideouts in the autonomous Bangsamoro region, on the country’s southernmost island of Mindanao. At a time when Manila, increasingly caught up in the geopolitical realities of the U.S.-China rivalry, is shifting its attention to external defense, continued military operations provide a stark reminder that the peace process in Bangsamoro should not be taken for granted.

The militants targeted by recent security operations were not part of the 2014 Peace Agreement between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Moro rebel movement in Mindanao. However, they are part of a mosaic of actors, among them political strongmen, militants, private militias, and frustrated MILF ex-combatants, that are contributing to violence in the region, threatening the success of the peace process. Although the Philippines faces several internal challenges, including Asia’s oldest communist insurgency and political violence, Mindanao remains at the forefront of the country’s security concerns.

Spread across six provinces, two cities and one special administrative area, Bangsamoro is home to more than 4.5 million people of different ethnolinguistic and religious communities, political clans, and insurgent groups, as well as many ex-rebels. Its road to peace has been a challenging one. The landmark 2014 peace accord, which drew inspiration from the peace processes in Northern Ireland and Aceh, put an end to the decades-long war between the Philippine government and Moro armed rebels that had claimed around 120,000 lives. The agreement led to the creation of an autonomous region in 2019, where the ex-rebels currently run the regional administration. But while the transition is largely on track, there are still significant pitfalls on the path to durable peace. And with only two years to go until the 2025 parliamentary elections that will mark the end of the region’s transition to full autonomy, time is starting to run short.

With fighting regularly displacing entire communities, particularly in central Mindanao, some Bangsamoro people say they are reminded more and more of the violence that characterized the region in past decades. In addition, there is a general perception of lawlessness, which is rooted in almost daily shootings and violence as MILF commanders, local politicians, and other armed men feud over status, land and power. Politics remain at best complicated and at worst deadly as tensions between the MILF and their political rivals grow in the run-up to local elections. Thankfully, other areas of the Bangsamoro are relatively peaceful, particularly with the slow decline of the once notorious criminal-militant Abu Sayyaf network contributing to more regional stability in the Sulu and Sulawesi seas. But the promise of peace has not reached the entire region and the national armed forces remain prominently deployed in Mindanao.

Overall, the formal peace process has made undeniable progress, particularly after the inauguration of the interim Bangsamoro government, led by the MILF, in 2019. In its first years, the transition authority also built hospitals, village halls, and passed four of the seven legislative codes required as part of the transition period. The COVID-19 pandemic created unexpected hurdles, as the ex-rebels were forced to quickly shift gear to emergency response, delaying their work in setting up the new region’s institutions.

Local elections in May 2022 then threw the MILF’s attention off-course, with the movement’s selection of candidates resulting in competition and clashes with local dynasts who control the region’s villages and towns; not surprisingly, the ex-rebels did not do very well. As a result of these delays, key laws related to local governance, revenue generation, and the indigenous people, remain incomplete.

On the Philippine government’s side, commitments made as part of the “normalization process,” as the broader war-to-peace transition in the region is called, have proven difficult to implement. The rehabilitation of rebel camps, efforts to disarm militias in the region, the granting of amnesty for ex-combatants, and the redeployment of the military out of the region, are all behind schedule. More than half of the MILF fighters have been decommissioned, but the delay in delivering economic benefits for MILF ex-combatants is also a major concern as it could increase the risk that the MILF guerrillas stick to their guns and drag out the demobilization process.

All these challenges might be echoes of the past, attesting to the perennial truth that things often get worse before getting better. But there are clear and present risks for the stability of the Bangsamoro. For the peace process to succeed, both Manila and the regional authorities need to work together more closely. The MILF-led interim government needs to do more to ensure local peace and inclusion. Concretely, this requires disciplining MILF commanders who engage in violence, reaching out to the region’s powerful political clans, and boosting conflict resolution efforts.

The national government also needs to do its part and deliver on vital promises stipulated in the agreement, in particular the disarmament of private militias and the delivery of socioeconomic packages to ex-combatants. International supporters of the peace process, including donors, should also continue to pay close attention to Mindanao. To make a lasting contribution, they should identify key gaps in funding of development and peace-building projects meant to deliver peace dividends to the Bangsamoro people and fill them. More coordination and alignment of donor priorities, based on clear-cut needs analysis, would help speed up the process.

Meeting the promises of the Bangsamoro peace process is vital not just for the Philippines, but also for the wider region. In Southeast Asia, as well as in other parts of the world where resurgent conflict is on the rise, the Bangsamoro agreement set a positive example of a negotiated settlement to a decades-old conflict, with prospects for lasting stability. As much as shoring up Philippine defense is a priority, President Marcos should also ensure that the widely heralded peace process does not slip through his grip – both for those that will benefit from it, and those who stand to emulate it.

[This article is adapted from the International Crisis Group’s recent report, “Making Peace Stick in the Bangsamoro.”   Georgi Engelbrecht is Philippines Senior Analyst at the International Crisis Group.]

The Philippines’s once-proud Maoist insurgents are out of ammo

Posted to The Economist (May 4, 2023): The Philippines’s once-proud Maoist insurgents are out of ammo

The New People’s Army is a relic of all sorts of political stupidity

Last month the guerrilla leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA) ordered its units all over the Philippines to give a 21-gun salute to two fallen heroes. Yet this martial display was diminished by an instruction to give the salute silently, either because the army is out of bullets or for fear a fusillade would alert the police. The few hundred fighters who duly lined up (and presumably whispered “bang”) are all that remains of a once-formidable Maoist insurgency. The NPA was launched 54 years ago to overthrow an American-backed president, Ferdinand Marcos. It is now on the brink of yielding to his son and successor, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.

The guerrillas are a relic of all manner of idiotic politics. At its strongest, the NPA, the armed wing of the shadowy Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), had an estimated 25,000 fighters. It threatened American troops stationed in the Philippines during the cold war. It was cited by Marcos to justify his long and increasingly tyrannical rule. Yet after he was toppled by a popular uprising in 1986, in which the guerrillas played no part, the restoration of democracy and faster economic growth made armed revolution less appealing to young Filipinos. As the NPA‘s ranks dwindled, its leaders became increasingly lost in arcane ideological debate (leading to important revisions, such as the purgative “Second Great Rectification Movement” of the 1990s). Their fighters meanwhile turned to extorting “revolutionary taxes” from local firms.

Despite the group’s manifest unseriousness, America paid it another compliment in 2002. In search of adversaries for its global war on terror, it branded as terrorists the Communist Party, their extortionist guerrillas, and groups of Filipino jihadists and Islamist separatists. The NPA gravely threatened reprisals against American targets. But this last gasp of notoriety did not arrest the Maoists’ decline.

Following a rout of the jihadists and a negotiated end to the Islamist separatist movement, the NPA  is now considered the Philippines’s last internal security threat. But Bongbong Marcos need not worry overly. The group is estimated to have about 2,000 fighters and no surviving national leader. The CPP’s aged founder, Joma Sison, died in exile last December. The party’s other foremost leaders, Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria, were the subject of last month’s silent salute. The government says they were killed at sea when their boat blew up during a chase with the armed forces. The guerrillas claim the government murdered them and blew up their corpses. Either way, the revolution didn’t work out.

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: 4 armadong aksyon sa 6 na araw, inilunsad ng BHB-Southern Panay PEOPLE'S WAR

Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis online propaganda posted to the PRWC Newsroom, the blog site of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Information Bureau (May 8, 2022): 4 armadong aksyon sa 6 na araw, inilunsad ng BHB-Southern Panay (4 armed actions in 6 days, launched by NPA-Southern Panay)

May 08, 2023

Magkakasunod na armadong aksyon ang inilunsad ng mga yunit ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan (BHB)-Southern Panay (Napoleon Tumagtang Command) sa timog na bahagi ng isla ng Panay mula Mayo 2.

Una sa serye ang operasyong harasment laban sa mga sundalong nakahimpil sa CAA Detatsment sa Barangay Luyang, Sibalom, Antique sa ganap na alas-10 ng gabi noong Mayo 2.

Sinundan ito ng aksyong pamamarusa ng BHB noong Mayo 5 sa Atrila Builders Inc sa Barangay Cabungaan, Leon, Iloilo. Ang kumpanya ay halos 2 kilometro lamang ang layo sa isang CAA Detatsment sa Barangay Maliao sa naturang bayan.

Sa ulat ng yunit, apat na kagamitan sa konstruksyon ang naparalisa, kabilang na ang backhoe, grader, elf truck, at pison. Tinatayang umabot sa ₱900,000 ang kabuuang halaga ng mga kagamitan.Pinatawan ng kaparusahan ang naturang kumpanya dahil sa maraming reklamo ng mga manggagawa nito tulad ng hindi pagpapasahod ng tama at hindi maayos na kundisyon sa paggawa.

Noon namang Mayo 6, pinasabugan ng mga Pulang mandirigma ang tropa ng Philippine Army na reresponde sana sa kumpanya at maglulunsad ng operasyon laban sa BHB. Pinatamaan ng BHB ang isa sa tatlong van na naglululan ng mga sundalo gamit ang command-detonated explosive (CDEx).

Natumba at sumandal sa bangin ang sinasakyan ng mga sundalo. Dulot ng operasyong demolisyon, napaatras ang tropa ng militar at hindi nagpatuloy sa kanilang nakatakdang operasyon sa lugar.

Kinaumagahan naman ng Mayo 8, pinaputukan ng isang yunit ng NPA ang CAA Detatsment sa Barangay Igcococ, Sibalom, Antique.

“Ang mga aksyong ito’y nagpapakita ng pagsisikap ng mga yunit ng NPA na labanan at biguin ang tumitinding atake ng kaaway sa ilalim ng pasistang rehimeng US-Marcos II,” pahayag ng BHB-Southern Panay.

Giit nila, “sinasalamin din nito ang patuloy at walang humpay na suporta ng mamamayan sa kanilang hukbo at sa rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka.”

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Ehersisyong militar panghimpapawid, inilulunsad ng PAF at tropa ng US sa bansa

Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis online propaganda posted to the PRWC Newsroom, the blog site of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Information Bureau (May 7, 2022): Ehersisyong militar panghimpapawid, inilulunsad ng PAF at tropa ng US sa bansa (Military air exercise, launched by PAF and US troops in the country)

May 07, 2023

Tatagal nang hanggang Mayo 12 ang inilulunsad na ehersisyong militar panghimpapawid na Cope Thunder ng Philippine Air Force (PAF) at US Air Force sa bansa. Nagsimula ito noong Mayo 1, ilang araw lamang matapos ang pinakamalaking ehersisyong Balikatan sa bansa. Inilulunsad ang pagsasanay sa Clark Air Base sa Pampanga. Huling inilunsad ang gayong pagsasanay noong dekada 1990 bago ibinasura ng Senado ang kasunduan para sa pananatili ng mga base militar ng US sa bansa.

Lumalahok sa naturang pagsasanay ang 160 myembro ng US Air Force at 400 tauhan ng PAF.

Ayon mismo sa tagapagsalita ng Philippine Airforce, ang pagsasanay ay may dalawang yugto. Ang una ay para sa mga depensibong aksyon, habang ang pangalawa ay nakatuon sa mga operasyong opensibo. Ang mga opensibong atake ay nakatuon para sa mga mga “kaaway na target” sa ere at sa lupa.

Dalawang beses na idadaos ang Cope Thunder ngayong taon. Ang pangalawang serye ay idadaos mula Hulyo 2 hanggang Hulyo 21.

Tulad ng Balikatan at karagdagang mga “pinagkasunduang lokasyon” ng mga base militar ng US sa bansa sa ilalim ng Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, ang Cope Thunder ay kabilang sa estratehiyang pang-uupat ng US laban sa katunggaling imperyalistang bansang China.

CPP/NPA-Sorsogon: Pinakamataas na pagpupugay at mapulang pagsaludo ng mga Sorsoganon para kina kasamang Benito at Wilma Tiamzon

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (May 8, 2023): Pinakamataas na pagpupugay at mapulang pagsaludo ng mga Sorsoganon para kina kasamang Benito at Wilma Tiamzon (Highest respect and red salute of the people of Sorsoganon for comrades Benito and Wilma Tiamzon)


Samuel Guerrero
NPA-Sorsogon (Celso Minguez Command)
Bicol Regional Operational Command (Romulo Jallores Command)
New People's Army

May 08, 2023

Sa ika-50 taong anibersaryo ng pagkakatatag ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines, ipinabot ng NPA-Sorsogon kasama ng buong rebolusyonaryong pwersa ng prubinsya ang maalab at mapulang pagbati at pagpupugay sa lahat ng mga alyadong rebolusyonaryong organisasyon nito at sa mga rebolusyonaryo na nag-ambag at nag-aambag ng kanilang lakas at talino para sa pagsusulong ng pambansa-demokratikong adhikain.

Binabati at pinagpupugayan natin ang mamamayang Sorsoganon na walang kapagurang tumutulong at nagkakalinga sa mga rebolusyonaryo ¿ armado man o di-armado, sa lihim man o sa hayag, at mahigpit na nagsusulong ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan. Gayundin, binibigyan natin ng pinakamataas na pagkilala sina Kasamang Wilma at Benito Tiamzon at lahat ng mga martir ng sambayanang Pilipino. Nag-alay sila ng kanilang panahon at buhay sa pakikibaka upang ipagtanggol at isulong ang interes ng masang inaapi at pinagsasamantalahan. Inspirasyon natin ang kanilang mahuhusay na katangian at di-matatawarang naiambag sa pagsusulong at pagtataas ng antas ng demokratikong rebolusyong bayan.

Sa kabila ng matinding militarisasyon sa kanayunan ng Sorsogon, buong tapang at ubos-kayang naglunsad ng mga pagtitipon ang iba’t-ibang yunit ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa prubinsya kasama ang iba¿t-ibang lihim na organisasyon sa ilalim ng NDF para ipagdiwang ang ginintuang anibersaryo nito. Nakapaglunsad sila ng mga talakayan at simpleng selebrasyon. Alinsunod sa atas ng Komite Sentral ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, naglunsad din ang mga Pulang mandirigma ng 21-gun salute sa prubinsya bilang pagbibigay parangal para kina Kasamang Wilma at Benito Tiamzon at sa lahat ng rebolusyonaryong martir ng sambayanan.

Ani nga ng isang aktibistang masa na dumalo sa pagtitipon “Bulag ang pasistang kaaway sa mga aktibidad na ito dahil sa malakas at mahigpit na suporta at pakikipagkoordina ng masa sa mga eryang pinaglunsaran ng mga pagdiriwang!”.

Napakapaborable ng sitwasyon para sa pagrerebolusyon. Desidido ang mamamayan sa rebolusyonaryong pagbabago. Kaya inaasahang higit na lalawak, uunlad at maitataas ang antas ng rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka sa mga susunod na taon. Panghawakan ang mga tagumpay na nakamit natin sa mga nakaraang taon at patuloy na sumulong sa lahatang panig na gawain. Ang buong rebolusyonaryong kilusan ay nasa wastong landas at direksyon ng pagkilos.

Umuunlad at sumusulong ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa prubinsya at sa buong rehiyon ng Bikol sa kabila ng walang humpay at tuluy-tuloy na kontrarebolusyonaryong kampanyang inilunsad ng AFP-PNP ng pasistang rehimeng Marcos-Duterte sa utos ng kanilang among imperyalistang Amerika.

Iisa ang panawagan ng mga kasama at masa sa pagdiriwang, “Makipagkaisa tayo sa mga pwersang progresibo at rebolusyonaryo sa mga pakikibakang antipasista, antipyudal at anti-imperyalista!”.

Mabuhay ang Pambansa-Demokrationg Prente ng Pilipinas!

Mabuhay ang Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas!

Mabuhay ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan!

Mabuhay ang Rebolusyong Pilipino!

Talingkas sa pagkaoripon!