Thursday, June 8, 2023

Israel awaits cues from Philippines’ Horizon 3 in defense assistance

From the Philippine Star (Jun 8, 2023): Israel awaits cues from Philippines’ Horizon 3 in defense assistance (Kaycee Valmonte)

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss welcomes Israeli Foreign Minister Eliyahu Cohen upon the latter's arrival in Manila on June 5, 2023. Embassy of Israel in the Philippines, handout

MANILA, Philippines — Israel said they are ready to help the Philippines to modernize its military—from the armed forces, to the navy, and the airforce—but Tel Aviv is still waiting for Manila's priorities for the Horizon 3 part of its military modernization program.

Manila is in the process of modernizing the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The project is now into Horizon 3 until 2028, which focuses on procuring defense equipment such as missile systems, submarines, and multi-role fighters.

“Everybody is waiting for the Horizon 3, which I think would give a better indication on the direction for the future so it’s difficult to say,” Israeli Ambassador Ilan Fluss told reporters on Thursday as he reflected on the successful two-day visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Eliyahu Cohen earlier this week.

Tel Aviv hopes “to see a continuation of Israeli involvement” in the modernization program, he added.

“I know the Israeli companies are offering—and I cannot go into the details—offering a lot of different kinds of technologies, which are all proven, I would say proven in combat in Israel,” Fluss said, adding that there are some agreements that are still awaiting implementation.

The envoy added that the Philippines has expressed interest in procuring more of its equipment and systems.

READ: Enhancing defense relations, Israel shares anti-drone expertise with PHL

The Philippine Navy recently acquired two new missile-capable Shaldag Mk. V patrol boats and have recently unveiled a newly-upgraded shipbuilding center in Cavite, a project done to complement the navy’s Fast Attack Interdiction Craft-missiles acquisition project with Israel Shipyard, Inc.

“I saw a little pride in the Navy of having really modern, quality, top-notch technology, which are being dispatched and being in-service now in the navy,” Fluss said.

READ: Navy gets 2 new missile-capable patrol boats

The Israeli embassy in the Philippines has formally opened offices for its defense and economic attachés to build closer security and trade ties with Manila. Fluss said the defense attaché will be in charge of future government-to-government deals.

During Cohen’s visit, the Philippines and Israel agreed to collaborate more on areas such as water management, agriculture, and environmental protection.

Termination of UP-DND accord stays – Teodoro

From Malaysia Business Insight (Jun 9, 2023): Termination of UP-DND accord stays – Teodoro (By Jocelyn Montemayor)

DEFENSE Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. yesterday said he will neither reverse the decision of his predecessor to terminate the accord between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) requiring prior notification for military and police operations in the campus, nor support any law that would institutionalize such move.

“That has been a policy already done by my predecessor and I do not want to reverse the policy,” Teodoro said in a briefing in Malacañang, quickly adding: “But that does not mean to say that I am not mindful of the autonomy of the University of the Philippines.”

The newly installed defense chief, however, reminded law enforcement members to be respectful and mindful of the balance between the freedom of expression and protecting peace.

The 1989 UP-DND accord, which required prior notification before police and military personnel can enter and conduct operations inside the state university’s campuses nationwide, was unilaterally terminated by former DND chief Delfin Lorenzana in 2021, saying that UP cannot be given special consideration or be compared to a demilitarized zone.

Lorenzana also said that because of the agreement, UP campuses have become free recruitment hubs of communist groups.

A UP alumnus himself, Teodoro said he was not open to supporting legislative proposals to revive and institutionalize the cancelled agreement, saying that the state university should not be singled out by the government since insurgent groups have also been targeting other universities and schools to recruit new members.

UP students have been calling for the passage of House Bill No. 10171 and Senate Bill No. 249 seeking to institutionalize the UP-DND accord.

The measures both proposes that state security forces, such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), be prohibited from entering and carrying out their duties in any UP campus without first notifying “the President or the Chancellor of the constituent university or the dean of the regional unit concerned,” except in urgent situations such as “hot pursuit and similar occasions or emergencies.”


Teodoro also reiterated on Thursday that he is personally against the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

He said as far as he knows, this is also the position of the security cluster of the Marcos administration, but he has yet to consult with President Marcos Jr. on the administration’s official stand on the matter.

Teodoro said that as far as he is concerned, there is no need for peace talks since the government is always open to those who want to surrender and return to folds of law which is what the members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP should do.

He said they may also seek help from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) that oversees the welfare of those who had already surrendered and went back to the folds of the law.

He said rebels who would surrender and return to the folds of society may also form their own political party to be more involved in the “legitimate political process.”

“Pwede naman nating pag-usapan iyong mga isyu na iyan sa tamang forum – iyan ay ang Kongreso – at sumanib sila sa legitimate political process. Hindi naman bawal ang CPP eh. Republic Act 1700 was repealed long ago. Pero iyong indirect at direct support sa armadong pakikibaka, iyan ang problema (We can talk of the issues at the right forum – Congress – so they should join the legitimate political process. CPP is not banned, Republic Act 1700 was repealed long ago. But indirect and direct support for armed movement is the problem),” he added.

The government, under then President Rodrigo Duterte, had initially held peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP until the talks collapsed due to alleged lack of sincerity on the side of communist rebels who continued to attack government forces despite the negotiations.

The Duterte government later on designated the groups as terrorists.

3 more Quezon towns cleared of communist rebels

From the Philippine Star (Jun 9, 2023): 3 more Quezon towns cleared of communist rebels (Ed Amoroso)

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna – Three more towns in Quezon province have been declared free of communist rebels.

Candelaria, Calauag and Tiaong were declared cleared of communist insurgents in the past two days.

Thirty-six towns and two cities in Quezon had earlier been declared insurgency-free.

Quezon police director Col. Ledon Monte and Col. Joel Jonson, 85th Infantry Division commander, said police, military and local government officials signed memoranda of understanding on stable internal peace and security in the areas.

Authorities said the areas had been freed of the presence of New People’s Army rebels after local government units and the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict managed internal security operations.

Teodoro rejects peace talks with CPP: ‘Subversion’ of democratic process

From Rappler (Jun 8, 2023): Teodoro rejects peace talks with CPP: ‘Subversion’ of democratic process (By BEA CUPIN)

While the defense chief says he has yet to speak to President Marcos on the matter, his personal stance is to convince local Communists to return to the mainstream and register as a legitimate political party

MANILA, Philippines – Newly sworn-in Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro rejected peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), a revolutionary organization that’s been fighting a guerrilla war for over half a century.

“My personal position is no. Matagal ko nang position yan, noong araw pa (That has long been my position, even before). And I think that’s the position of the security cluster at this time,” said Teodoro in a Palace press briefing on Thursday, June 8, two days after he took his oath as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first permanent defense secretary.

Teodoro was asked to react to the CPP’s National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)’s recent pronouncement that it was open to resuming peace talks under Marcos. The NDFP is the united front arm of the CPP which includes various revolutionary organizations.

Teodoro, who was defense secretary from 2007 to 2009 under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said peace talks with the CPP and the NDFP would be a “subversion” of the country’s democratic processes. He insisted that the government was open to welcome back into the mainstream members of the CPP, NDFP, and the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP.

The new defense chief said he would still consult Marcos on the country’s official stance, even as he announced his “personal position.” Nearly a year into office, Marcos himself has not spoken up on whether he’s keen on resuming peace talks with the communists.

Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr., however, has said that Marcos ordered them to “finish off” the CPP-NPA.

Teodoro said the government’s strategy is to convince the local Communist movement to return to the mainstream, with the option of registering as a “legitimate political party” so long as there’s proof they’ve rejected “subversive” means in pursuing their political objectives.

The first time he was defense chief, Teodoro oversaw an all-out counter-insurgency campaign against the armed left.

Hope for peaceful dialogue was renewed in 2016, during the early years of former president Rodrigo Duterte but talks ended in 2019.

Duterte, father of the current vice president, then created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), whose campaigns have included the harassment and red-tagging of Filipino activists, journalists, and human rights workers.

The fate of apprehended NPAs in Eastern Visayas

Letter to the editor posted to The Freeman (Jun 9, 2023): The fate of apprehended NPAs in Eastern Visayas

My warmest greetings to the editor and staff of this paper for the indulgence in publishing this article to share to the public my sentiments especially if these concerns on internal security that affects the national interest.

The recent arrest of the two wanted top communist NPA leaders in Eastern Visayas namely Rosalita Sulayao Taboy alias Laling/Ibay/Azun/Zuserre and her party partner, Antonio Legaspi alias Beto/Adonis last May 26, 2023 in their residence in Phase 3A, Sapanglamig St., Towerville, Brgy Gaya-gaya, San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan is a big blow to the CPP-NPA-NDF movement in the Visayas.

Taboy is reportedly holding the position as National Finance Commission of the CPP-NPA-NDF leadership with ?5.25 million bounty on her head but formerly the Secretary of the Regional Organizational Department (ROD) of the guerilla front, Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee (EVRPC) while Legaspi is a demolition expert of the National Operations Command of the terrorist group, New People’s Army then formerly operating in Eastern Visayas.

This is a wakeup call not only to those NPA rebels who are still hiding in the countryside but also to the general public because after these couple victimized, recruited innocent people in the Visayas to take up arms against the government, the former left them and did not live by their idealism and principles as revolutionaries with the so called “serve the masses” but they lived back to their democratic living luxuriously in a subdivision in Bulacan Province.

The couple’s arrest was also an additional reminder to everyone to face the consequences of their actions once they take up arms against the government, you will either get arrested or killed or better surrender in long run of your struggle. Every action has a corresponding reaction and the people who espouse violence will be dealt with by the law.

Many lives were lost and wasted when these couple conducted terroristic activities in the Visayas. Majority of the masses were glad that the long arm of the law had reached these people. The victims of these communist terrorist atrocities and attacks could have lived their life to the fullest and the properties that were damaged could have been utilized for the development of the community.

Their being senior in ages do not exempt Taboy and Legaspi from their criminal liabilities for the law excuses no one. Let us take into account that these people have committed crimes against humanity. These people were responsible for terrorizing the communities in Eastern Visayas and deceived our countrymen to take up arms and live by their idealism when they are living ironically as bourgeois.

Gone are the common propaganda mileage of the communist terrorist that these persons arrested are consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) with the served warrants. Their apprehension added to the dwindling top leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF and this debacle demoralized the remaining cadre and members of the EVRPC.

Taboy’s arrest was based on warrants for the alleged commission of the crimes such as three counts of murder issued by the Municipal Trial Courts in Basey and Paranas, Samar; frustrated murder issued by RTC Branch 21 Lao-ang, Samar; and arson for burning the Smart Communications tower in San Jose Catbalogan, Samar for failure to pay extortion demands.

Aside from those, Taboy’s committed crimes also include the liquidation of CAA Danilo Naguit on September 27, 2008; killing of eight PNP personnel in Barangay Imelda, Catarman, Northern Samar on August 21, 2018; ambush of military vehicle that killed nine-year-old Joven Cabe; harassment of patrol base, 19IB in Campagal, Jaro, Leyte; and the destruction of a mini dump truck in Barangay Sangi, Palapag, Northern Samar owned by Palapag Mayor Manuel Aoyang.

Maj Joe Patrick A Martinez

Group Commander, 3CRG

NPA in Negros executes govt spies

The Manila Times (Jun 9, 2023): NPA in Negros executes govt spies (By Eugene Y. Adiong)

BACOLOD CITY: The New People's Army (NPA) in Negros is taking action against civilians suspected of being military informants.

This move came after the communist armed group suffered defeats in recent gunbattles with Philippine Army soldiers in the hinterlands of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, that claimed the lives of its key leaders.

In a statement, Dionesio Magbuelas, spokesman for Mt. Cansermon Command of the NPA's South Central Negros Guerilla Front, known as Central Negros 2, admitted that it has implemented the death penalty against Michael "Kulot" Soledad on June 2, 2023, in Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City.

Magbuelas said Soledad played a big role in a raid conducted by Army soldiers against their unit on March 1 in Sitio Canagban, Barangay Carabalan that claimed the lives of four of their comrades he identified through their aliases as Ka Jemon, Ka Sardo, Ka Andre and Ka Jeloy.

He reported that Soledad, who used to be a resident of Sitio Canagban, transferred to Barangay Carabalan proper, after the raid.

Initial investigation conducted by the Himamaylan police showed that the victim was on a drinking spree with his friends when an unidentified person arrived and talked to his wife.

The suspect later approached the victim and shot him in the head without any provocation.

He was declared dead at the Valeriano Gatuslao Memorial District Hospital in Himamaylan City, according to the police.

Magbuelas said they also executed Regie Soledad, a first cousin of Michael Soledad, on April 19, 2023, who also allegedly participated in the conduct of the raid against their unit on March 1.

He added that Regie also served as an informant of the 94th Infantry Battalion (94IB) of the Philippine Army.

Magbuelas said they were responsible for the summary execution of Raul Enmacino on May 25, 2023 in Sitio Colihao, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City.

He alleged that Enmacino were among the suspects in the killing of two NPA members on April 1 last year, when Elbert Nicholas Quillano, alias Carding, and Jessa "Ka Clea" Quillano, were both staying at his residence when the incident took place.

Military records showed that Quillano, a platoon leader of the Central Negros 2, and his wife, Jessa, a medical officer of the same unit, died in an encounter with the 94IB.

The Army's 303rd Infantry Brigade condemned the NPA for killing innocent civilians on mere suspicions of being military informants.

It strongly denied the claims that the three slain civilians were military spies.

DND chief sees funding as ‘challenge’ to PH defense buildup

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): DND chief sees funding as ‘challenge’ to PH defense buildup (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – As he formally assumed the helm of the Department of National Defense (DND), newly appointed defense chief Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. said one of the challenges is finding ways to fund the buildup of a credible deterrent force.

"Well the balance is really important in terms of sustainability, it’s a question of resource and fiscal management and finding innovative ways of financing the much-needed and unavoidable expense of building a credible deterrent force," he said in a press briefing at the DND main office in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Wednesday.

And while a lack of funding could postpone investment in national defense, these upgrades will eventually be done once the necessary funds are found and allocated.

"You know the experience is if you postpone an investment in national defense today, it took five times in a few years, but you are going to have to spend it anyway, so what is necessary is to find the funding mechanism together also with the welfare and one of the jobs of the Secretary of (National) Defense to attend to the welfare of our veterans and our retirees and our current plantilla whether in the Armed Forces, the non-uniformed personnel and our employees to balance all those requirements and to make hard choices as to what goes, where and how much," Teodoro said.

Asked for a rough estimate on how much the budget of the DND and Armed Forces of the Philippines need for external defense, the defense chief estimates it to be around 2 to 3 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).

"Based on rough percentages, actually defense spending should be about 2 to 3 percent for a growing country. However, we realized that maybe, 2 to 3 percent of GDP, but that is an ideal number and we’ll try to get as much as we can ano, right now the how much is something I have to learn yet after due consultation with everyone here," Teodoro pointed out.

Also, the newly appointed DND chief declined to comment on how he will handle or manage the defense portfolio saying he needs to listen and learn for the next few weeks.

"The first thing I would do in the first few weeks is to listen and to learn, I can't come in here with preconceived notions of what to do because national security is at stake, so I'm here to listen and to learn and then consult with the national security cluster and then we shall evolve the security policies," he added.

Teodoro also said he will take into account President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.s' defense pronouncements.

"Number one is that national defense shall transition of course without sacrificing the gains in internal security to external defense and number two our territory is our territory and, UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), the basis of that cannot be changed by the passage of time nor changes in the administration," he added.

Teodoro previously served as DND chief from August 2007 to November 2009 in the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He was also the former congressman of Tarlac (1st District). Teodoro also served as the chairperson of the National Disaster Coordinating Council during his tenure as DND chief.

He has a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce, majoring in Financial Institutions from the De La Salle University-Manila.

Teodoro completed his law degree, graduated at the top of his class at the University of the Philippines, and was the topnotcher in the 1989 Philippine Bar Examinations.

Teodoro also has a Master of Laws degree from Harvard University and is a licensed commercial pilot.

DND to seek PBBM’s ‘advice’ on stalled peace talks with CPP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): DND to seek PBBM’s ‘advice’ on stalled peace talks with CPP (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

PEACE TALKS. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. tackles the stalled peace talks between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) during the Palace briefing on Thursday (June 8, 2023). Teodoro said he will have to ask President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s stance on the stalled peace negotiations. (Photo courtesy of PCO FB page)

MANILA – Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. on Thursday said he will ask President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s stance on the stalled peace negotiations between the national government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"I have to consult regarding that," Teodoro said in a Palace briefing, as he noted that his "personal" position is there is no reason to resume the talks with the CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).

For Teodoro, the CPP may take up its concerns with Congress, instead of seeking a dialogue with the national government.

"Puwede naman nating pag-usapan 'yung mga isyu na iyan sa tamang forum. Iyan ay ang Kongreso. At sumanib sila sa legitimate political process (The issues may be discussed in the proper forum. And that is the Congress. They can seek a legitimate political process)," he said.

The CPP earlier expressed openness for the possible revival of peace talks with the Marcos administration after the death of its founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison in December 2022.

Teodoro said the CPP may apply to become a "legitimate" political party, so long as there is evidence that there is a "total disavowal of resort to subversive means in order to gain political power."

"So to me, there’s no such thing as… It’s an oxymoron, 'yung legal front. Walang ligal na front. Ang front ay iligal (A legal front is an oxymoron. There is no legal front. A legal front is illegal)," he said.

"Hindi naman bawal ang CPP eh (The CPP's existence is not illegal). Republic Act (RA) 1700 has been repealed long ago. Pero 'yung indirect at direct support sa armadong pakikibaka, iyan ang problema (However, the indirect and direct support for armed violence is the problem)," Teodoro added.

RA 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Act, signed into law in June 1957, declares the CPP illegal as an organized conspiracy to overthrow the government for the purpose of establishing in the Philippines a totalitarian regime.

During the martial law period, RA 1700 was expanded through Presidential Decree (PD) 885 in 1976 and PD 1835 in 1981. These decrees made it a subversive criminal act to be affiliated with a group and attend a meeting or take part in any activity meant to overthrow the government with the open or covert assistance and support of a foreign power.

In 1987, former president Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order 167, repealing PDs 1835 and 1975 and reviving RA 1700.

Then President Fidel Ramos in 1992 signed RA 7636 repealing RA 1700 and making subversion no longer a criminal offense. However, sedition remains a crime under RA 7636.

Teodoro said the government is willing to help the members of the CPP's armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), who want to return to the fold of the law.

He said the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is doing its job to dismantle the guerrilla fronts, while the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity is ready to rehabilitate the former rebels.

"So, what we intend to do is to convince those that are still continuing whatever business they’re continuing which is against the law to come back and join the fold of law and join hands for national development," Teodoro said.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte on Nov. 23, 2017 signed Proclamation 360, terminating the national government's peace negotiations with the CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front, following a series of attacks waged by the NPA against state forces and civilians.

However, Duterte on Dec. 4, 2018 signed Executive Order (EO) 70, insitutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach that will be implemented by the NTF-ELCAC to achieve "inclusive and sustainable peace."

Under EO 70, local peace bodies are directed to negotiate with communist rebels in their respective areas.

Affiliation with communists

Meantime, Teodoro also responded to the issues of supposed red-tagging of some personalities, including journalists.

Teodoro said there should be enough evidence to prove that an individual is linked to the CPP.

"Red-tagging is a nomenclature given by current events. Pero kung talagang miyembro naman ng armed group at mayroon namang ebidensiya (But if the person is really a member of the armed group and there is an evidence), we call a spade a spade," he said.

Teodoro also thumbed down the proposal to institutionalize the 1989 University of the Philippines (UP)-Department of National Defense (DND) accord into the UP Charter.

"Ngayon kung isabatas iyan ng ating legislators at pinirmahan ng Presidente, ‘di susunod tayo pero hindi ko susuportahan (Now, if the legislators will pass the measure and the President will sign it into law, we will follow. But I will not support it)," Teodoro, the 3rd vice president of the Up Alumni Association, added.

While he was not open to reviewing the terminated UP-DND deal, he urged all law enforcement officers to be mindful of the "balance between freedom of expression and protecting the peace."

The DND-UP Agreement, signed on June 30, 1989, prohibits the military and the police from entering all UP campuses without prior notice to its administration.

The DND decided to terminate the agreement effective Jan. 15, 2021.

PH ‘not a puppet of anyone,’ says DND chief Teodoro

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): PH ‘not a puppet of anyone,’ says DND chief Teodoro (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Defense Secretary Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – The Philippines is a responsible and mature nation and is not a puppet of anyone.

Newly appointed Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. made this remark when asked whether the "balance of scales" in dealing with the United States and China has changed and where the country stands regarding this issue.

"My role is to articulate our policy clearly and also to avoid any misinterpretation of our international engagements with our treaty partners. And that role I reiterate is to help create as a value proposition the Philippines has a strong parity partner in defending itself, because I mean the Philippines is important not only to the United States but also to China, it is important to other countries too," he said in a television interview Wednesday.

In line with his goal of presenting the Philippines as a value proposition, Teodoro said we should articulate that "we are responsible, we are mature, we are not puppets of anyone."

Teodoro also emphasized that he will not fall into the trap of siding with "one camp or the other."

"For example there is always is tale spun that it is because of a potential Taiwan conflict, naturally we don't want the Taiwan conflict because our supply chain will be affected, a lot of semiconductors come from Taiwan and we don't want any conflict whatsoever and that tale is a false tale, being spun because we do not take any position regarding internal questions of other countries," Teodoro said.

Also, he added that if other countries want to have good relations with the Philippines, the DND chief said these nations have to give us a "modicum of trust".

"If other countries are sincere about having good relations with the Philippines they have to give us a modicum of trust, that we are responsible that we are not puppets of anyone and that we want the Philippines for the Filipinos," Teodoro stressed.

Regarding the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US, the DND chief said the Philippines is well aware that it should serve its national interest.

"There are a lot of admonitions regarding for example EDCA and we are cognizant of those admonitions, we are very cognizant and these are good reminders that EDCA insofar as the Philippines is concerned should serve our interest and not anybody else and a strong Philippines which adheres to clearly lay down norms of international law is a good for the whole world," he added.

Teodoro said also said building up a credible deterrent posture should not be aimed at one specific country but at potential threats to the Philippines' national security.

"We have to be able to build up our own mechanisms to protect our country, whether this be, bec of a dispute in the West Philippine Sea or whatnot. That is a non-negotiable posture," he added.

However, Teodoro also said that "deconfliction" is also important even as he maintained that the DND is committed to protecting the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

"I don't see any deviation from that rule and our territorial integrity is based not only on our Constitution but International Law, the UN Convention on the Law of The Sea and customary international law. We fought so hard for the Archipelagic Doctrine under UNCLOS and we are gonna stick by that," Teodoro said.

Teodoro bats for 'stable, sustainable' retirement plan for MUPs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): Teodoro bats for 'stable, sustainable' retirement plan for MUPs (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

File photo

MANILA – The Marcos administration will ensure that the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) will enjoy a "stable and sustainable" retirement plan, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said on Thursday.

"We can also build a stable and sustainable retirement plan for our men and women in uniform," Teodoro told Palace reporters in a press conference.

This, as Teodoro revealed that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s "marching order" for him is to coordinate with the economic team to fast-track the passage of a measure introducing reforms to the MUP's current pension scheme.

Teodoro said the government will have to find a "healthy balance" and "look at the big picture" to make sure that the financial sustainability of any state-funded enterprise would not result to the detriment of the government's financial position.

"The only consultation I had with the President, first and foremost, is to speed up the MUP [reform initiatives]," the newly installed Defense chief said.

"I will receive total briefings in the coming days as to what progress has already been done. And I understand, significant progress has already been done towards getting a consensus," he added.

The departments of finance, budget, defense and the interior and local government have started discussions and consultations with concerned agencies and stakeholders to come up with a "reasonable" proposal to reform the MUP pension system.

Under the current pension scheme, MUP are granted one rank higher upon retirement with their monthly pension automatically indexed to the salary of personnel in active service.

Non-monetary benefits

Former Defense officer-in-charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier noted that around 70 to 80 percent of the military's enlisted personnel might retire early because of the proposed changes in their pension scheme.

Teodoro said there are existing non-monetary benefits that may entice military personnel to stay longer and wait for their mandatory retirement.

"And I believe that our men, women in uniform are not averse to the fact that they have to contribute to national government, just as long as they see that at the end of their tours of duty, number one, they will be taken care of; number two, that the fund or whatever they have to participate in is transparently, professionally and competently managed and not mismanaged," he said.

"There are non-monetary benefits that you can get like free medical care, continuous skills training, educational opportunities and the like. As a matter of fact, what we want to make sure also is that, they are re-employable because of their specific skill sets in the private sector after," Teodoro added.

In March, the Marcos administration announced its plan to implement reforms in the MUP retirement and pension system to avoid a "fiscal collapse" caused by the pandemic.

Marcos said his administration would come up with "self-regenerating" pension plans for both the military and the police.

The proposals for the pension reform include application of the reform to all active personnel and new entrants; removal of automatic indexation of pension to the salary of active personnel of single ranks; and mandatory contributions for active personnel and new entrants similar to the Government Service Insurance System pensioners.

Under the proposed scheme, the MUP will receive their pension starting at 57 years old, not automatically after 20 years of service.

Adhere to UNCLOS to earn PH's trust: Teodoro to China

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): Adhere to UNCLOS to earn PH's trust: Teodoro to China (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

PALACE BRIEFING. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. joins Malacañang Press Briefer Daphne Oseña-Paez in a press conference at the Palace on Thursday (June 8, 2023). Teodoro said China should adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to earn the Philippines' trust amid the territorial dispute in the South China Sea. (Photo courtesy of PCO FB page)

MANILA – China should adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to earn the Philippines' trust, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said on Thursday.

Teodoro made the statement in a Palace briefing when sought for reaction to the supposed contradiction in China's words and actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

"As a stronger country, it (China) has the bigger obligation to be magnanimous and show trust and to earn the trust of the Filipino people by conforming its activities to recognize norms of international law, which in our case is UNCLOS," he said.

"We are talking about the arbitral award. It has already been stated by our two past presidents that our rights and our territory are defined by UNCLOS and it has been stated too that this cannot be frittered away or bargained away by passages of administration or passage of time."

His remarks came after Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela, in a recent Asia's defense and security forum in Singapore, said there is a "big difference" in China's words and actions amid the ongoing territorial disputes in the contested waters.

The Philippines on July 12, 2016, won its petition filed before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) after the arbitral tribunal invalidated China's claim of supposed historic rights over almost the entire SCS.

China, however, has ignored the PCA ruling.

Teodoro said the SCS ruling was issued by the "independent" PCA after conducting "fair and impartial" proceedings.

Had China participated in the proceedings, it could have defended its stance on the SCS disputes, Teodoro said.

"It is not only important to take into consideration what the specifics of the Arbitral Tribunal said, but the process by which it was done," he said. "So in that same vein, we have to follow transparent procedures and that is the best way to build trust."

During the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit Retreat Session in Indonesia on May 11, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. urged all parties to abide by the UNCLOS to prevent the SCS from becoming the focal point of armed conflict.

Apart from the Philippines, fellow ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims with China in the SCS, a strategic waterway believed to be rich in resources, including natural gas.

Amid the maritime row, numerous sightings of Chinese vessels within Pagasa Island in the WPS have been reported.

Quizzed if the government would position more gray ships in the WPS, Teodoro said he has to consult National Security Adviser Eduardo Año and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

"Whole-of-government approach iyan (That's a whole-of-government approach). I’ll have to consult with the National Security Adviser, with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and we have to come out with (a) concerted plan of action with this. Hindi ko masasagot sa sarali kong opinyon ito kasi napakaimportanteng bagay ang national security (I could not make a personal opinion because national security is a very important issue)," he said.

Assistance to families affected by NPA mine attack assured

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): Assistance to families affected by NPA mine attack assured (By Filane Mikee Cervantes)

EXPLOSION. The victims of a roadside blast in Las Navas town, Northern Samar province in this June 3, 2023 photo. Northern Samar Second District Representative Harris Christopher Ongchuan on Thursday (June 8) condemned the New People’s Army for detonating anti-personnel mines that killed two civilians. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

MANILA – A Visayan lawmaker on Thursday assured to provide appropriate assistance to the families affected by the New People's Army's (NPA) anti-personnel mine (APM) attack that killed two civilians in Northern Samar province on June 3.

In a statement, Northern Samar Second District Representative Harris Christopher Ongchuan also condemned the attack in Barangay Magsaysay, Las Navas town, Northern Samar, saying that “violence has no place in our community.”

“The first priority is ensuring the aid and safety of the Nortehanons. We are assessing the situation and appropriate assistance will be provided to the affected families. This is done simultaneously in coordination with the national government to ensure peace and safety in our district,” Ongchuan said.

Ongchuan said he is closely working with the local officials to ensure that those who carried out these attacks will be brought to justice.

“In the first status update I received, Secretary Isidro Purisima, Acting Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity is already on top of the situation. His office released a statement on June 6, and we are ready to extend whatever assistance is needed,” he said.

He called on those responsible for the attack to stop the violence, surrender and face accountability.

“Those who were innocently killed were just trying to make a living to support their family. But now, the families face the burden of having to live the rest of their lives without their loved ones beside them,” he said.

Two civilians were killed in the incident – Roel Lebico and Jerson Cabe, construction workers who had just finished working at a farm-to-market road undergoing construction.

Ongchuan cited the result of the investigation by the local officials showing that the communist armed rebels used APM in the attack, which violates International Humanitarian Law and the International Ban on the Use of APM.

“Our office would not stop until safety and aid is provided to those affected, and justice is served for those who have lost family,” he said.

Purisima also assured the family of the victims that the perpetrators of the gruesome incident would be held accountable and shall be brought to justice.

He said the NPA must indemnify the families of the victims.

"The OPAPRU, in collaboration with its peace partners, is committed to promoting the culture of peace, mutual understanding, and solidarity among our people so that such reprehensible acts against humanity can be prevented or avoided. Once again, we express our sincere condolences to the victims' families. We assure you that justice will be served," Purisima said.

3 NPA rebels wounded in clash with soldiers in Camarines Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): 3 NPA rebels wounded in clash with soldiers in Camarines Sur (By Connie Calipay)

ENCOUNTER. At least three New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were wounded in a clash with military troops in the boundary of Barangay Cotmo and Barangay Aldezar, Sipocot town in Camarines Sur on Wednesday (June 7, 2023). Government troops recovered from the clash site several weapons and propaganda materials. (Photo courtesy of 9ID)

LEGAZPI CITY – At least three New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were wounded in a clash with military troops at the boundary of Barangays Cotmo and Aldezar in Sipocot town, Camarines Sur on Wednesday, the Philippine Army (PA) said.

Maj. Frank Roldan, 9th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, identified the wounded rebels as Nickson Calinog alias Tom, squad leader of Platoon1, Komite Larangan Guirilla2 (KLG2) Sub-Regional Committee1 (SRC1), Nelson Marinay alias Nongnong and Arlene Marinay, all members of the same platoon.

He said all three wounded rebels are now in the custody of the military and will undergo custodial debriefing.

"They were left by their comrades after they fled in different directions. The three wounded rebels received medical treatment. They will undergo custodial debriefing for information that will help to encourage their other members to surrender," Roldan said.

The firefight that lasted 15 minutes ensued when the troops responded to the information from concerned citizens regarding the presence of several armed men.

Government troops recovered from the clash site two M16 rifles, two .45 caliber pistols and several propaganda materials.

"The encounter site is currently being searched by troops and subsequent operations are still going on," he said.

Roldan also said the wounded rebels may receive financial assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Cases may still be filed with the three rebels depending on their willingness to cooperate with authorities.

Meanwhile, the 9ID welcomed through a reception rite 132 aspiring soldiers who passed all the requirements.

"The new breed of warriors will undergo a 7-month rigorous Basic Military Training (BMT) cross-trained with Infantry Orientation Course (INFOC)," Roldan said.

The 132 are from Camarines Sur-41; Albay, 30; Camarines Norte, five; Sorsogon, 18; Masbate, eight; Catanduanes, one; and 29 from other regions of the country.

Maguindanao del Sur teacher hurt in ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): Maguindanao del Sur teacher hurt in ambush (By Edwin Fernandez)

BULLET RIDDLED. A police officer points to the bullet holes in the windshield of the teacher’s car after the 7 a.m. ambush on Thursday (June 8, 2023) in Datu Anggal Midtimbang town in Maguindanao del Sur. The teacher, identified as Israel Paquital of the Datu Anggal Midtimbang Elementary School, was seriously wounded in the incident. (Photo courtesy of Datu Anggal Midtimbang MPS)

TALAYAN, Maguindanao Sur – Unidentified gunmen ambushed and seriously injured a public school teacher in Maguindanao del Sur while he was heading for school Thursday morning.

Major Zukarnain Kunakon, Datu Anggal Midtimbang municipal police chief, identified the victim as Israel Paquital, a teacher at the Datu Anggal Midtimbang Elementary School.

Kunakon said Paquital was driving his car on his way to the school when gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on him at about 7 a.m. in Sitio Matalam, Barangay Midtimbang, Datu Anggal Midtimbang town.

“Paquital who was driving alone in his car was critically wounded,” Kunakon said, adding that a manhunt has been launched against the perpetrators.

“We have no idea yet on the suspects’ identities and the motive as of this time,” Kunakon added.

Police units from Datu Anggal Midtimbang town and the nearby municipalities have been alerted for the possible sighting of the attackers.

The ambush came 13 days after public school teacher Joel Reformado was gunned down, and his companion injured on May 26 in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Gov’t aids 122 ex-NPA rebels in Agusan Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 8, 2023): Gov’t aids 122 ex-NPA rebels in Agusan Norte (By Alexander Lopez)

AID FOR EX-REBELS. At least 122 former New People’s Army combatants receive their benefits under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program during a distribution activity at the Provincial Capitol in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte on Thursday (June 8, 2023). The distribution was facilitated by the provincial government and the Department of the Interior and Local Government 13 (Caraga). (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – Agusan del Norte’s provincial government and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 13 (Caraga) facilitated the release of the assistance for 122 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels here Thursday.

Governor Maria Angelica Rosedell Amante, together with DILG-13 Assistant Director Donald Seronay and Director Elsa Evangelista-Lapiña of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, led the distribution of assistance under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) of the government.

Of the 122 ECLIP beneficiaries, 72 were regular members of the NPA while 50 were members of the Milisya ng Bayan who surrendered on different occasions from 2021 until 2022.

The former rebels also handed over 39 high-powered firearms, all of which were remunerated during the assistance distribution.

A total of PHP12 million in cash aid were released to the former rebels in the form of livelihood assistance, immediate assistance, and firearms remuneration.

“I am glad that you decided to abandon the communist movement and return to the fold of the law. We are all Filipinos, and we do not need to fight,” Amante said in her message.

She added that there is no reason to fight and offer one’s life for a useless cause being carried out by the communist rebels.

“I pity those who died in battles where their comrades and leaders just abandoned their dead bodies. There is no justice in what they are doing,” Amante said.

Among the former rebels who received the assistance was alias Patrick, the former secretary of the dismantled Guerrilla Front 4-A under the NPA's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Patrick, a resident of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, said he joined the NPA movement in 2011 until his surrender to the 23rd Infantry Battalion (23IB) in September 2021.


“I got married when I was inside the movement. My wife was part of a team that educates the masses about the communist movement,” he said.

As his family grew with the addition of a child, he realized the hardships they endured as the 23IB intensified its focused military operations in Agusan del Norte and parts of Misamis Oriental.

“I was thinking of the future of my family, especially my child. As we ran away from the pursuing government troops, coupled with exhaustion and hunger, I realized it is time for me and my wife to quit,” Patrick said in the vernacular.

During the distribution activity, the former rebel received PHP65,000 for livelihood assistance and a separate amount for the firearms he surrendered to the government.

Patrick said he would use the money he received to further develop his banana farm in their community.

“I already had a training given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture on land preparation and banana production,” he added.