Sunday, August 13, 2023

On Vacation

Have been on vacation for the last couple of days and will continue into next week. Have limited Internet capabilities. Will be back soon.

Best regards,

Retired Analyst

Only 102 of 11,033 aspiring cops from Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front pass screening

 From  MindaNews (Aug 11, 2023): Only 102 of 11,033 aspiring cops from Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front pass screening (By FERDINANDH B. CABRERA)

The 102 police trainees from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF during their acceptance ceremony on August 10, 2023 at Camp Salipada K. Pendatun in Parang, Maguindanao. Photo courtesy of Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 11 August) — Only 102 or fewer than 1 percent of 11,033 applicants for the Bangsamoro police force from the two Moro fronts passed the selection process.

The successful applicants, mostly sons and daughters of former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front took their oath during their acceptance ceremony on Thursday at Camp Salipada K. Pendatun, the Bnagsamoro regional police office in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte.

“They are considered best of the best and the cream of the crop from the young generation of Bangsamoro police,” according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr.

Abalos was the guest of honor during Thursday’s event.

“This is the fruit of the peace agreement, we are really sincere in the pursuit of peace in order in this region,” he said.

“It feels good the government gave us a chance to join the national police force. We are thankful to the President,” said Abdullah Lumambas, one of the trainees and son of a former MILF fighter.

“I wish I was still young as they are. I dreamed of becoming a police officer but I’m still thankful and happy for this opportunity that came despite the odds in the past,” Abdulradjak Anao, a decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatant who is now in his 60s, said.

Only one of his two sons who applied for the police force made it to the final selection.

The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has issued Resolution No. 2023-0380 approving the recommendation of the chief of the Philippine National Police to allocate 400 slots for this year for former Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF members who shall apply to the PNP.

Many of the applicants failed to pass the screening process, which included mental, physical, neurological, and drug tests.

Mohager Iqbal, chair of  Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace implementing panel who also sits in the Intergovernmental Relations Body, a mechanism created under the Bangsamoro Law, said they also want a “quality and competent” Bangsamoro police force.

He, however, said the agreed quota of 400 for this year should still be implemented.

“While it is part of the agreement under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, we accepted it. However, we have to consider the rest. If the government cannot fund the more than 200 left from the quota, the Bangsamoro government is willing to get it from our own budget,” he added.

The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has allotted P64.76 billion for BARMM’s Annual Block Grant.

Abalos promised they will work for the second batch of the same recruitment process as they are battling against time.

On April 7, 2022, BARMM and Napolcom signed an agreement for qualified Moro Islamic Liberation Front  and MNLF members to take the Special Qualifying Eligibility Examination (NSQEE), based on Napolcom Resolution No. 2022-0081 “prescribing NSQEE as Appropriate Eligibility for Temporary Appointment to the Rank of Patrolman/Patrolwoman in the PNP for members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF.”

On May 29, 2022, out of 11,033 examinees, a total of 7,145, or 64.76 percent, of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and MNLF members passed the NSQEE held in the cities of Cotabato and Lamitan. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)

Family hurt in Cotabato province store explosion

From Rappler (Aug 13, 2023): Family hurt in Cotabato province store explosion (By ROMMEL REBOLLIDO)

Police find the safety lever of an MK2 fragmentation grenade at the site of the explosion, and an unexploded grenade outside the store

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – An explosion tore through a store in Kabacan town, Cotabato province, hurting a six-year-old girl and her parents on Sunday, August 13.

Police said they found the safety lever of an MK2 fragmentation grenade at the site of the explosion where 48-year-old Wadzere Salasal, his wife Norma, 50, and their young daughter were wounded.

Later, an unexploded grenade with no safety pin was found outside the store.

The family suffered shrapnel wounds and were rushed to a hospital.

The explosion happened at Sitio Lumayong, Kayaga, a crossroad along the Davao-Cotabato-Bukidnon highway on the outskirts of Kabacan.

Kabacan police chief Major Maxim Peralta said the victims were sleeping inside the store when the grenade went off past 1 am.

Peralta said investigators were still gathering more information to determine the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Palace orders gov’t agencies to adopt ‘Whole of Nation’ approach to address security concerns

From Palawan News (Aug 13, 2023): Palace orders gov’t agencies to adopt ‘Whole of Nation’ approach to address security concerns

Photo from Presidential Communications Office

Malacanang has issued an order directing all national government agencies, government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and local government units (LGUs) to adopt security-related strategies and programs based on the government’s “Whole of Nation” approach.

Executive Order No. 37 issued Thursday, Aug. 10, orders the agencies involved to adopt NSP 2023-2028 in the formulation and implementation of their security-related strategies and programs.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said Marcos Jr. approved the adoption of the National Security Policy (NSP) 2023-2028 that would be consistent with his vision of a free, united, secure, peaceful, resilient and prosperous Philippines.

“For this purpose, the NSC, through the NSA, shall monitor the implementation of the NSP 2023-2028, and upon consultation with and concurrence of relevant government agencies, GOCCS, and LGUs, shall propose memoranda, circulars and other orders related to the implementation thereof, for the approval of the President,” it stated.

Under the reporting and monitoring section, the NSP 2023-2028 would be tasked to conduct a periodic assessment and submit reports to the President and the National Security Council (NSC) on the implementation of the NSP and to coordinate with various national government agencies and instrumentalities.

The EO 37 underscored the need to harmonize the national security efforts of the government and ensure that these are responsive and complementary to the development goals and objectives set in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023 to 2028.

Hotline between PH, China coast guards now defunct – PCG

From CNN Philippines (Aug 12, 2023): Hotline between PH, China coast guards now defunct – PCG (By CNN Philippines Staff)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 12) — The Philippine Coast Guard's (PCG) "hotline" to its Chinese counterpart is now defunct, and only the Department of Foreign Affairs' direct line of communication with Beijing exists.

"Hindi na natin ginagamit ang [We're no longer using the] PCG CCG (Chinese Coast Guard) hotline…Wala na po [It no longer exists]…It hasn't provided so much benefits for us. Wala naman tayong na-gain dito [We didn't gain anything from this]," said PCG West Philippine Sea spokesperson Jay Tarriela.

According to Tarriela, a memorandum of understanding was signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 in Beijing, creating the hotline. It was established a year later.

READ: PH, China establish hotline for coast guard diplomacy

"I would say that for all maritime incidents [with China] that happened in the past six years noong nakaraang adminstrasyon [even in the past administration], this hotline was attempted to be used. Unfortunately, it never really gave a positive result para magkaroon ng pag-uusap [to give us a chance to talk]," he said.

Beijing also ghosted Manila during the Aug. 5 incident, when a Chinese coast guard vessel used a water cannon on Philippine boats on a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

READ: China 'unreachable' during water cannon incident in West Philippine Sea - DFA

"[T]he memorandum of understanding between CCG and PCG was no longer renewed when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. went to Beijing last January. This is one of the MOUs proposed by the Chinese Embassy pero [but] this time hindi ito na-renew [it was not renewed]," Tarriela added.

Guv pushes ELCAC efforts as NPA steps up terror

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 12, 2023): Guv pushes ELCAC efforts as NPA steps up terror (By GILBERT P. BAYORAN)

Amid stepped up terror activities of local New People’s Army rebels, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday pushed for the implementation of more ELCAC (Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict) activities, to entice their followers to surrender and abandon the armed struggle.

While the “hardcore” leaders of the NPA will not heed to our appeal to surrender, Lacson said the focus should be on their followers.

The recent terror activities of the rebel remnants in northern Negros has claimed the life of a policeman who was among those responding to investigate the summary execution of two civilians on August 9 in Sitio Icogan, Brgy. Minapasuk, Calatrava, Negros Occidental.

“We cannot allow this to continue,” said Lacson, the guest of honor and speaker on the 122nd Police Service Anniversary held at Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod City.

This is a challenge to men and women in uniform, either PNP or Philippine Army, he added.

Through ELCAC, we have proven that those surrendered were given a new opportunity to start all over again, with some of them integrated into the PNP, CAFGU and Philippine Army, the governor said.

The Police Regional Office 6 and the 79th Infantry Battalion condemned the senseless killings of civilians by NPA remnants, as well as the murder of PCpl. Jaime Nuñez, who was shot in the head by the rebel ambushers to ensure his death, following a landmine attack and ambush.

Two other personnel of the Calatrava Police Station were injured in the ambush.

The NPA Roselyn Jean
Pelle Command has claimed responsibility for the ambush of Calatrava policemen.

While the staging of rebel ambush was not the first time in Negros Occidental, Lacson said it is not yet rampant, as he called on authorities to be vigilant against NPA terror attacks.*

Soldier killed, 7 others wounded in Basilan

From the Mindanao Examiner (Aug 13, 2023): Soldier killed, 7 others wounded in Basilan (Sensitive Content Warning)

Convoy of military, civilian vehicles carrying town vice mayor ambushed!

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Gunmen killed an army soldier and wounded seven more, including a policeman, in ambush in the town of Ungkaya Pukan in the Muslim province of Basilan in southern Philippines, a security spokesman said Sunday.

The group was in a convoy with the town’s vice mayor Ahmadin Baharim when at least 10 gunmen ambushed them in the village called Ulitan, according to Army Major Andrew Linao, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“Our troops fought back, resulting to a firefight which lasted for five minutes. The firefight killed one of our soldiers and wounded six others and one police personnel,” he said, adding the vice mayor was unscathed from the daring ambush on Saturday afternoon.

“The Western Mindanao Command condemns the inhumane acts of terrorism perpetrated by still unidentified lawless elements against Vice Mayor Ahmadin Baharim of Ungkaya Pukan, and the troops of the 64th Infantry Battalion and police who are members of the Joint Peace and Security Team on Saturday afternoon,” Linao said.

He said the group was in two military and two civilian vehicles when the attack occurred. “The team conducted ocular inspection in the village in connection with the upcoming outreach program on August 18 when the incident happened. This act is a clear manifestation of the perpetrators' disrespect to their local government officials, the military, and their fellow Basileños, hence, we will not stop until these heartless individuals are identified and neutralized,” Linao said, adding, security forces were tracking down the ambushers.

He said ambush occurred at about 3:45 p.m. while a platoon of soldiers and policemen were escorting the politician. “Rest assured that this incident will not be tolerated and we will work doubly to disallow the malefactors to perpetrate such incident,” said.

There was no report of enemy casualties and no group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the area is a known stronghold of pro-ISIS terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose leader Ahod Ebrahim, signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.

PCO, partner agencies to ink MOU to fight fake news

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12, 2023): PCO, partner agencies to ink MOU to fight fake news (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

MANILA – The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) is set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its partner agencies for a Media and Information Literacy (MIL) campaign to address concerns over disinformation and misinformation.

The ceremonial signing of the MOU will be held at Hilton Manila in Pasay City on Aug. 14, Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement on Saturday.

Garafil said joining PCO in the campaign are the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“The MIL is the administration's response to the disinformation and misinformation plaguing the country’s digital landscape, focusing on capacitating the youth to become more discerning consumers of media,” she said.

“These agencies will collaborate with the PCO on a comprehensive execution plan crafted to target the identified root causes of the issue.”

Garafil said the MIL would be integrated into the higher education curriculum, community-based training programs, and family-oriented programs.

Social media companies and their platforms are also expected to collaborate with the government by lending the tools and holding training to fight disinformation and misinformation, she added.

“Among these are Google (YouTube), Meta (Facebook, Instagram, and Threads), TikTok and X (formerly Twitter),” she said.

Senator Francis Escudero expressed support for the MIL campaign and suggested that the PCO include the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“Ang siguro kung pwede kong imungkahi ang dapat nilang isama ay ang DICT dahil lumalaganap ang mis at disinformation sa iba’t ibang social media platforms at hindi naman doon sa traditional media na kinagisnan natin na print, radio at TV (I suggest that they include DICT since the spread of mis and disinformation in different platforms does not come from traditional media such as print, radio and television),” Escudero said in a DWIZ radio interview Saturday.

Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher and Technical and Vocational Education, added that there should be maturity and liability in using different media platforms, with the cyber libel law as one of the effective tools in fighting fake news, misinformation and disinformation.

In March, Garafil said fighting fake news would be one of the PCO’s priorities, noting that the agency itself and even the Office of the President have been victims of fake news.

In June, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said in his speech during the International Conference of Information Commissioners held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City that “fake news should have no place in modern society” and that his administration would “undertake a Media and Information Literacy Campaign, which shall be digital, multimedia and youth-oriented.” (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)

PBBM okays National Security Policy 2023-2028

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12, 2023): PBBM okays National Security Policy 2023-2028 (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved the National Security Policy (NSP) 2023-2028 to harmonize government efforts and make the Philippines a “free, united, secure, peaceful, resilient and prosperous” nation.

Under Executive Order (EO) 37 inked by Marcos on Aug. 10, all national government agencies (NGAs) and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), are directed to adopt the NSP 2023-2028 in the formulation and implementation of their security-related strategies and programs.

Local government units (LGUs) are encouraged to adopt the national security policy.

“To ensure the successful implementation of the NSP 2023-2028, there is a need to align all national security-related strategies, as well as the plans and programs of all national government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, and local government units, with the NSP 2023-2028,” the EO read.

“All NGAs and instrumentalities, including GOCCs, and LGUs shall encourage all sectors of society to participate in the implementation of the NSP 2023-2028 towards achieving a holistic approach to addressing national security issues and priorities, consistent with their mandates, in their respective areas of expertise or jurisdiction.”

EO 37 designates the National Security Council (NSC) Secretariat, whenever necessary, to provide technical assistance and support to government agencies and other entities in the formulation of policies and strategies affecting national security.

In coordination with various NGAs, GOCCs and LGUs, the National Security Adviser (NSA) is mandated to conduct a periodic assessment and submit reports to the President and the NSC on the implementation of the NSP 2023-2028.

“For this purpose, the NSC, through the NSA, shall monitor the implementation of the NSP 2023-2028, and upon consultation with and concurrence of relevant government agencies, GOCCs, and LGUs, shall propose memoranda, circulars and other orders related to the implementation thereof, for the approval of the President,” the order said.

The NSP 2023-2028 was formulated to provide guidance and a comprehensive approach to improve security sector governance and address national security challenges in coordination and consultation with key government agencies and instrumentalities, with the participation of various stakeholders.

The approval is aimed at ensuring that national security efforts are responsive and complementary to the development goals and objectives set in the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028.

The funding requirements for the implementation of EO 37 will be charged against current and available appropriations of concerned agencies, subject to pertinent budgeting, accounting, and auditing laws, rules and regulations.

In the succeeding years, the budget will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act, subject to the usual budget preparation process.

EO 37, which was made public on Saturday, takes effect immediately upon publication In the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.

China’s claim on Ayungin Shoal deal ‘lie, gaslighting’: analyst

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12, 2023): China’s claim on Ayungin Shoal deal ‘lie, gaslighting’: analyst (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – China’s claim that the Philippines has made a promise to remove the grounded BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal is a “lie and gaslighting,” a maritime law expert said Saturday.

At a news forum in Quezon City, University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Jay Batongbacal said China’s latest move is an attempt to manipulate the Philippines through strategies that would be advantageous to Beijing.

On Wednesday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said he is repealing any commitment, should there be an existing agreement between the Philippines and China, on the supposed removal of the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

“Hindi po kami naniniwala. Matagal na rin naming naririnig iyan pero wala naman kaming matunton na posibleng nagsabi noon na mayroon talagang authority (We don't believe that. We've been hearing that for a long time, but we haven't been able to find anyone with authority who might have said that),” Batongbacal said, when asked if he believed that the government made a promise to remove its grounded ship from Ayungin Shoal.

“Definitely, it’s a lie, it’s gaslighting na tinatawag. Mapapansin niyo, madalas nangyayari iyan. Pinapaduda ka sa sarili mong posisyon by saying things. Nagbibigay sila o inject sila ng mga sinasabi nilang nangyari pero hindi mo alam kung totoo o hindi kaya nagdududa ka tuloy sa sarili mong posisyon (that we call. You will notice, that happens often. They make you doubt your own position. They give or inject what they say happened but you don't know if it's true or not so you keep doubting your own position),” he added.

Stressing the need for the Philippines to be “determined and skilled,” political analyst and De La Salle University professor Renato de Castro lauded Marcos for standing firm that the BRP Sierra Madre would not be removed from Ayungin Shoal.

“It boils down to the national determination. And I think the President has already implicated we will not abandon the BRP Sierra Madre. That’s the most important thing, the political decision to ensure that we maintain our presence over Ayungin Shoal,” he said.

University of Santo Tomas Political Science Department professor Dr. Froilan Calilung said the problem with China is it has “many collective hallucinations.”

Batongbacal said China’s behavior, even during the past administrations, “has always been the same.”

He said Beijing is attempting to make other “dangerous maneuvers” to test the current administration.

“This one, in a way, it’s probably tine-test nila ang (it is testing the) current administration,” he said.

“Ang China sa bawat bagong administration, nag-i-instigate iyan ng potential crisis. Tine-testing nila kung ano bang klaseng lider ‘to, ano bang klaseng mga tao ang nakapaligid sa kaniya (Every time there is a new administration, China is institgating a potential crisis. It is testing what kind of leader we have and what kind of people are surrounding him).”

‘Part of tactic’ to pressure PH

On Monday, China reiterated its call for the Philippines to fulfill its promise to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

Prior to China’s demand, the Chinese Coast Guard on Aug. 5 blocked and used water cannon against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said China could not be reached “for several hours” when the Philippines made an attempt to communicate with Beijing through the government-to-government hotline following the water cannon incident.

De Castro said the incident is “part of (China’s) tactic” to pressure the Philippines and create a “crisis situation to put the other side on the defensive.”

“The Chinese do not do it on a basis of good faith,” he said. “They always deal with crisis from the position of that faith. The crisis is not meant to resolve. The crisis is meant to put the other side on the defensive, to put pressure on you.”

China’s ‘worst nightmare’

The Philippines being in consonance with other sea claimants such as Vietnam is “China’s worst nightmare,” De Castro said.

“Ang pinakakinatatakutan ng China ay ‘yung other claimant states, ‘yung Southeast Asian states, mag-unite. Ito ‘yung in fact nangyayari na (What China fears most is that other claimant states, the Southeast Asian states, are uniting. This is what is in fact happening),” he said.

Batongbacal said there was a “deliberate” attempt to “sabotage” the Philippines’ good relations with Vietnam despite the maritime dispute.

‘Not wise’ to go to war

PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Jay Tarriela said the government has monitored around 400 foreign ships in the WPS, noting that more than 85 percent of the sighted vessels come from China.

Calilung said China tends to disregard the ongoing negotiations with the Philippines to resolve maritime disputes.

He said any potential agreements, including the proposed Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, will not succeed if China continues to act that way.

“Ang problema kasi sa (The problem with) China is it says one thing, but then again, it actually defeats the very statement that it gives afterward. And I think it’s really hard to be with that kind of a country,” Calilung said.

“Kahit anong agreement or kahit anong arbitration o kahit ano sigurong areglo ang gawin natin, kung mahirap ang ating ka-transaksyon (No matter what agreement or any arbitration or any settlement we may make, if our transaction partner is problematic), it’s going to always fail,” he added.

Despite the recent developments, Calilung acknowledged that it is “not wise” to go to war with China, while Batongbacal said the Philippines’ response to China’s “hostile” acts “depends on the rules of engagement.”

“It’s not automatic, high-level na. Meron ding mga standard ‘yung responses, ‘yung tinatawag nating (There are standard responses which we call) proportionality and reasonability. So ‘yung mga factor na ‘yun (These are the factors that) will come into play pero hindi natin masasabi ngayon theoretically kung ano ang magiging situation ngayon (but we could not tell theoretically what would be the situation now),” Batongbacal said.

Strengthening capabilities

Calilung said it is “high time” for the Philippines to strengthen its capabilities, noting that the country needs to execute ways and means to build or revitalize its own shipyard so it could match China’s capabilities.

“We need to actually empower ourselves domestically to be able to generate power that is very, very important,” he said, adding that the government has to be steadfast in asserting control over the Ayungin Shoal.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said the deployment of Philippine militia vessels in the WPS is one of the options being considered to enhance the country's maritime capabilities.

"That could be one... But all of these options will be properly evaluated to test its feasibility, to test its chances of success," he said.