Friday, August 11, 2023

13 BIFF sumuko, tumanggap ng ayuda sa gobyerno

From Abante (Aug 11, 2023): 13 BIFF sumuko, tumanggap ng ayuda sa gobyerno (3 BIFF surrender, receive government aid)

Inaasahan na umano ang paghina ng puwersa ng bandidong Bangsa­moro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) matapos magbalik-loob sa gobyerno ang 13 nitong miyembro.

Nagmula ang mga ito sa bayan ng Rajah Bua­yan, Datu Unsay, Datu Hoffer, Datu Abdullah Sangki at Shariff Aguak, Pagatin-Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano, at Shariff Saydona Mustapha.

Isinuko rin nila ang kanilang mga armas tulad ng sniper rifle, 50 caliber barret, mga bala, grenade launcher at iba pa.

Kahirapan, magulong pamumuhay at kawalang pag-asa na maging tahimik ang kanilang pamilya ang pangunahing dahilan ng pagtalikod nila sa bandidong grupo.

Samantala, tumanggap sila ng cash assistance mula sa iba’t ibang sangay ng pamahalaan para sa pagsisimula nila ng bagong buhay.

AFP eyes more vessels, aircraft for West PH Sea patrols

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): AFP eyes more vessels, aircraft for West PH Sea patrols (By Priam Nepomuceno)

INTENSIFIED PATROLS. Wescom commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos (left) and AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. answer questions during a press briefing in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 10, 2023). Brawner said the military is looking at the possibility of deploying more ships and aircraft to guard and secure the country's exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. (Photo by Izza Reynoso)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is looking at the possibility of deploying more ships and aircraft to guard and secure the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

"Yes, definitely we have plans to deploy more ships and more even yung mga aircraft natin para mabantayan natin yung ating exclusive economic zone. So hindi lang yung pagbantay dito but we really have to establish our presence in the area (Yes, definitely we have plans to deploy more ships and even our aircraft to secure our EEZ. That is not only for guarding our territories there but we really have to establish our presence in the area)," AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in a press briefing at the Western Command (Wescom) headquarters in Palawan on Thursday afternoon.

This came after Wescom reported that as of Aug. 9, about 400 foreign vessels were detected in the country's EEZ.

Brawner also said they are looking at tapping reservists for sea duty to help protect the country's vast waters and this is part of their plan to develop the Reserve Force.

He added that they are eyeing Filipino fisherfolk who could be trained to do their part in defending the country.

Brawner said this proposal is in the implementation stage and the AFP is waiting "for the platforms or the vessels that they are going to use."

Asked about the timeline for this measure, he said this would depend on the availability of funds.

Brawner said they would also request additional funding from Congress to improve facilities and beef up their presence in the WPS.

‘Do another run’

Wescom commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, meanwhile, said the report on the number of foreign vessels detected in the area was based on their latest monitoring on Aug. 9.

Carlos said only half of the intended supplies for the troops at the BRP Sierra Madre reached the destination due to one of the civilian vessels being drenched.

“We need to do another run before the supplies run out in LS 57. We’re going to do that again in two weeks’ time. Earliest next week, hopefully, but definitely before the supplies run out,” he said.

Carlos expressed hope for a smoother and safer journey during the upcoming rotation and resupply mission, wishing for no further incidents.

"It is our prayer that there will be no more water cannon incidents and less aggressive reception from the other side, especially because of the international attention that this incident generated,” he said.

Carlos estimated that 85 percent of the 400 vessels are "Chinese" and that 191 of them are in the vicinity of Mischief Reef, also known as Panganiban Reef.

Mischief Reef is about 134 nautical miles away from Palawan.

"Our suspicion is that they're militia vessels taking orders from the China Coast Guard (CCG). The incident last weekend suggests that our suspicion might be true. How to confirm that – we're still working on that one," Carlos said.

On Aug. 5, about 12 Chinese militia ships were spotted along with six CCG ships that blocked and fired water cannons at Filipino supply boats headed for the Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal.


A workers’ group, meanwhile, supported the idea of prioritizing the development and deployment of citizen soldiers as a proactive response to the current scenario in the West Philippine Sea.

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) national vice president Jun Ramirez said Friday the initiative steers away from the military alone and the common practice of merely increasing intelligence funds but rather seeks a more direct and participative method to support the national interest.

"The defense of the country against foreign aggression or protecting our territorial integrity is a duty of every citizen, not only of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)," he said in a statement.

On the other hand, FFW national treasurer Alfredo Maranan underscored the vital role of citizen participation in defense strategies.

"The collective responsibility to defend our nation transcends the military or our navy. It rests with every Filipino,” he said.

The labor group official believed that empowering citizen soldiers is pivotal in asserting national rights and interests.

"This grassroots approach not only enhances our maritime defenses but also deepens our collective commitment to preserving the integrity and sovereignty of the Philippine territories," Maranan added. (with reports from Izza Reynoso and Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)

DND thanks Australia for supporting AFP medical projects

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): DND thanks Australia for supporting AFP medical projects (By Priam Nepomuceno)

SUPPORT. Australia Ambassador to the Philippines, Hae Kyong Yu (left) and Department of National Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. (right) during their Aug. 8, 2023 meeting at DND headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. In their meeting, Teodoro expressed his thanks to the Australian Government for its continued support to medical programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of the DND)

MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) thanked the Australian government for its continued support to medical projects of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

This came following Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.'s meeting with Australian Ambassador to Manila Hae Kyong Yu on Aug. 8 at the DND main building in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, as relayed by spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in news release on Friday.

"Secretary Teodoro also took the opportunity to express appreciation to the Australian Government for its donation to the AFP in relation to the upcoming Project-based Community Medical Deployment/Medical Aid Provision under the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting - Plus Experts' Working Group on Military Medicine, which is currently co-chaired by Brunei Darussalam and Australia," Andolong said.

The ASEAN Center of Military Medicine “establishes practical, effective, and sustainable cooperation among military medical services of AMS (ASEAN Member States) and Plus Countries (eight dialogue partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States), both in normal and crisis situations.”

In the same meeting, Teodoro acknowledged the "mature" defense cooperation between the Philippines and Australia in various bilateral and multilateral platforms.

It is in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s guidance on transitioning the focus of the Philippine defense sector to external defense.

"Notably, Secretary Teodoro welcomed the conduct of the Philippine leg of the Indo-Pacific Endeavor, Australia's flagship regional engagement activity and the inaugural Defense Minister's Meeting," Andolong said.

He added the Philippines and Australia took stock of bilateral activities that reaffirm the deep friendship between the two nations aside from having "shared objectives in promoting regional peace and security."

"Ambassador Yu reiterated Australia's appreciation for the Philippines' assistance in locating the wreckage of SS Montevideo Maru, a World War II vessel that sank northwest of Luzon in 1942, which killed Australian prisoners of war, among others," Andolong said.

PH, Israel explore potential areas of defense cooperation

As this developed, Teodoro also reaffirmed the DND's interest in further strengthening defense and military relations with Israel, particularly on information sharing, and education and training exchanges.

This took place during his meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Manila Ilan Fluss, also on Aug. 8.

"Congratulating Secretary Teodoro on his appointment, Ambassador Fluss expressed confidence in the collaborative efforts of the Philippines and Israel in further increasing defense and military engagements. He indicated Israel's interest to explore potential areas of cooperation, particularly in space and technology, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), and cyber security, among others," Andolong said.

Teodoro welcomed the proposal, which supports the Philippines' capacity building efforts and capability to address defense and security issues.

In broadening Philippines-Israel logistics and defense procurement cooperation, the defense chief also raised the possibility of a joint venture between both countries' defense industries in support of the Philippines' Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP).

The meeting concluded with both sides looking forward to advancing defense and military relations, and working together in enhancing both countries' capabilities amid pressing security challenges, Andolong noted.

Zubiri eyes toppling of Chinese cell towers in PH military bases

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): Zubiri eyes toppling of Chinese cell towers in PH military bases (By Wilnard Bacelonia)

(File photo)

MANILA – Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri is planning to ask Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. to remove cell towers built by Chinese companies within Philippine military bases.

In an interview over Radyo 630 on Friday, Zubiri pointed out that the cell towers may have an impact on the national security.

"Alam mo meron pa mga telco towers na pagmamay-ari ng state-owned company ng China nasa loob ng military compound, sa military base, ito po [ay] nangyari (You know there are [telecommunication company] telco towers by state-owned company of China that is located inside our military compound, in a military abse, this happened) during the last administration," Zubiri said.

"Kaya ako po ay makikipag-meeting din po kay Gen. Brawner, ang ating AFP Chief-of-Staff na tanggalin na iyon dahil baka may CCTV doon, nakikita nila kapag lumalabas ang tropa ng kampo, patay na tayo ‘di ba (That's why I will meet Gen. Brawner, our AFP Chief of Staff to ask him to remove that because it might have CCTV where they can see if troops are coming out of the camp, we're doomed, right)?" he added.

The AFP and the Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company (Mislatel) signed on September 2019 a memorandum of agreement allowing the new telco player to build its communications facilities in military camps and installations.

In the agreement, Mislatel “guarantees that the devices, equipment, and/or structures installed at the site provided by the AFP shall not be used to obtain classified information” as a measure to prevent electronic espionage.

The AFP will determine specific locations with its rental value for use of Mislatel in the installation and management of its communications sites without undermining the operations of affected military units.

Mislatel is also required to “furnish all equipment, labor, and materials necessary to effect the co-location of its facilities and shoulders all expenses in connection with or incidental to the co-location” and payment of all taxes, permits, licenses, and other charges.

The Mislatel consortium, which adopted the name Dito Telecommunity, is composed of Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Udenna Corp, and China Telecom.

Military training in China

Zubiri also plans to ask Brawner to recall all Philippine military officers training in China and send them instead to "friendly" countries.

"It can be Australia. It can be the United States. West Point. Pwedeng ipadala sa mga (They can be sent to) like-minded democracies. So, I think that’s the most important at this point in time," the Senate President said, also citing other options like military academies in London or the European Union.

In a separate interview on Wednesday, Brawner confirmed that there are a number of AFP officers being sent to China since a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed in 2004.

In September 2004, former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Beijing upon the invitation of then Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The two countries issued a joint press statement saying that expanded exchanges and dialogue in the military and security fields will strengthen the level of mutual political trust between Philippines and China.

They also agreed to study the possible establishment of the annual defense security consultation mechanism between the two countries' defense departments.

BI starts deportation proceedings vs. US military deserter

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): BI starts deportation proceedings vs. US military deserter (By Stephanie Sevillano)

PNA file photo

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has started deportation proceedings against an arrested American fugitive who has been wanted for military desertion.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the United States government shared information with the immigration against 32-year-old Johnmark Katipunan Tandoc.

"The success of this operation is a testament to the strong partnership between our two nations in ensuring that fugitives are caught and made to face their crimes,” he said.

Tandoc was arrested along Roxas Boulevard in Manila last Aug. 7.

Tansingco said Tandoc posed a "potential risk to public safety” as a fugitive under desertion, according to the US Armed Forces.

He served as a specialist in the US military prior to his desertion.

However, Tandoc remained undocumented in the country due to his expired passport.

The arrested fugitive is now under the custody of BI at Bicutan, Taguig while awaiting summary deportation.

Ex-AFP comptroller Garcia completes sentence, ordered freed

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): Ex-AFP comptroller Garcia completes sentence, ordered freed (By Benjamin Pulta)

New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – Retired military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia has been ordered released from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City after completing his sentence, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said Friday.

Garcia was convicted to a definite prison term of 18 years and four months but has exceeded his sentence due to 3,288 good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits

He entered the NBP on Sept. 16, 2011 but his actual detention started in June 2005.

BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang gave the order after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla approved the release.

The GCTA law states that persons charged with and/or convicted of heinous crimes are not entitled to such benefits.

Garcia was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan Second Division to four to eight years for direct bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code; and another four to six years for facilitating money laundering under Section 4 (b) of Republic Act 9160 (Anti-Money Laundering Law).

He was also sentenced to a minimum of one year and eight months to a maximum of two years and four months for perjury and a maximum of two years for violation of 96th and 97th Article of War by the General Court Martial of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In January, the Sandiganbayan granted the withdrawal of his forfeiture cases following the completion of his plea-bargaining agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman said "substantially all" of Garcia's properties that the government was going after had already been recovered under the plea deal and it did not have enough evidence to support the forfeiture of the remaining properties covered by previous petitions.

AFP generals were accused of accepting "pabaon" (farewell gifts) before retiring, with Garcia allegedly amassing at least PHP300 million from 1993 until he left the service in 2004.

The Sandiganbayan’s sentence was finalized just last year when he had nearly served out his sentence.

He was also fined PHP407.8 million -- PHP406.3 million for the direct bribery offense and PHP1.5 million for facilitating money laundering.

P188-M hangar to house PAF assets in Cebu air base

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): P188-M hangar to house PAF assets in Cebu air base (By John Rey Saavedra)

HANGAR PROJECT. Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Cynthia King-Chan (fifth from left) leads military and public officials in the capsule-laying and groundbreaking ceremony for the fixed wing and rotary air assets of the Philippine Air Force at the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base Thursday (Aug. 10, 2023). The hangar will serve as a maintenance bay for PAF aircraft to ensure their engines' great condition and in the improvement of the air force operations. (Photo courtesy of Cong. Cynthia King-Chan's FB page)

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu – A new facility will stand at the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in this island city to house the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) fixed wing and rotary air mobility assets.

During the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Maj. Gen. Joannis Leonardi Dimaano, chief of the Air Mobility Command, said the hangar, which is worth PHP188 million, would serve as a “hub for maintenance and shelter of our air assets.”

He cited Lapu-Lapu City Lone District Congresswoman Cynthia King-Chan for helping the funding allocation to be included in the 2023 national budget.

“This hangar will serve as a maintenance bay for aircraft to ensure their engines' great condition and in the improvement of the air force operations,” Mayor Junard Chan said in his speech.

The mayor said the hangar would be built under the 2023 General Appropriations Act and would be implemented under the Tikas ng Imprastraktura para sa Kapayapaan at Seguridad (TIKAS) program between the Department of National Defense and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The construction of phase 1 will cover a 4,565 square meter PAF rotary hangar consisting of a main park area for helicopters, a pilot lounge, three office rooms, a warehouse, four comfort rooms, and an electric room complete with electrical and plumbing fixtures.

The project is expected to finish in July 2024.

“More importantly, such will ultimately contribute to our nation’s social and economic development as we are reassured of national peace and security,” King-Chan said.

Antique ex-rebels, calamity-hit MSMEs to receive livelihood kits

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11, 2023): Antique ex-rebels, calamity-hit MSMEs to receive livelihood kits (By Annabel Consuelo Petinglay)

LIVELIHOOD PACKAGE. The Department of Trade and Industry Negosyo Center personnel orients beneficiaries of the Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa livelihood packages in the town of Sibalom on July 31, 2023. Mutya Eusores, DTI Antique OIC-Provincial Director, said in an interview Friday ( Aug.11, 2023) 129 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs and former rebels will be recipients of livelihood packages to be distributed on Sept. 2023. (PNA photo courtesy of DTI-Antique)

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Antique is preparing livelihood packages for 129 former rebels and micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) affected by Typhoon Paeng in the province.

DTI Antique OIC-Provincial Director Mutya Eusores, in an interview Friday, said their Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (PPG) packages that will be released next month will benefit 109 MSMEs and 20 ex-rebels.

The MSMEs need the kits to restart their livelihood, while the assistance will give former rebels their means of livelihood as they return to mainstream society.

“Each PPG package is worth PHP15,000,” Eusores said.

The beneficiaries chose their livelihood package, including goods for sari-sari stores, rice and fish trading and restaurant.

The MSMEs are from Patnongon with 59; Belison, two; Bugasong, 16; Hamtic, 12; and Sibalom with 20.

“The MSMEs were affected by Typhoon Paeng as per the Post Disaster Needs Assessment,” Eusores said.

The 20 FRs from Antique, meanwhile, are those who have availed of the End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) program.

“The beneficiaries, aside from the livelihood packages, will also have orientation on financial literacy and business continuity plan as part of capacity building,” Eusores added.

The orientation conducted before the distribution will ensure the sustainability of their chosen livelihood package.

DTI Consumer Protection Unit head Arnel Oliveros said they released 212 livelihood packages worth PHP8,000 each to MSMEs affected by the pandemic in 2022.

“So far, the previous year beneficiaries had expressed that the livelihood packages they received had fueled their livelihood,” he said.