Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Philippines, allies kick off naval drills amid Asia-Pacific tension

From Rappler (Oct 2, 2023): Philippines, allies kick off naval drills amid Asia-Pacific tension (By REUTERS)

Five vessels – two from the United States, and one each from Britain, Canada, and Japan – join the Philippine-hosted drills that will run until October 13

MANILA, Philippines – Forces from Manila, Britain, Canada, Japan and the United States kicked off on Monday, October 2, two weeks of joint naval exercises in Philippine waters as a “show of force,” amid flaring regional tension.

With more than 1,800 participants, the drills follow last week’s move by Beijing to block Philippine fishermen from Asia’s most contested maritime feature, the Scarborough Shoal, held by China in the South China Sea.

This year’s “Sama Sama” drills are being held in the southern part of the island of Luzon, featuring naval exercises in areas such as anti-submarine warfare, air defense and search and rescue, the Philippine navy said.

“With this show of force and active engagement of our allies and partners, ‘Sama Sama’ transcends mere military exercises,” Philippine navy chief Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci said at the opening event.

“It is a symbol of our enduring partnerships and our shared commitment to security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

In his remarks, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, the commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said, “It is important that all nations have a right to sail and operate in the West Philippine Sea, free from…being coerced, free from being intimidated.”

The West Philippine Sea refers to the portion of the South China Sea claimed by Manila.

Five vessels, two from the United States, and one each from Britain, Canada and Japan, joined the Philippine-hosted drills that will run until October 13.

The navies of Australia, France, Indonesia and New Zealand also joined in by sending observers and experts.

“I am confident that no potential aggressor should be under any illusion other than this is a strong team of nations, a strong team of navies … one navy sailing and operating together,” Thomas added.


Military warns NGOs against aiding Reds

Posted to Panay News (Oct 3, 2023): Military warns NGOs against aiding Reds

“They cannot hide under the guise of cause-oriented and advocacy support groups forever. The law will not turn a blind eye to their deception, corruption, and terrorist acts,” says Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Visayas Command.

CEBU City – A network of church-based and human rights organizations has expressed alarm over the potential weaponization of laws against nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), while the military warned these groups against being used by communist rebels to fund their operations.

A statement last week by Action Network Human Rights Philippines (ANHRP) stemmed from charges filed in May by the Visayas Command (Viscom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines against 27 members of the Community Empowerment Resource Network (Cernet), for allegedly aiding the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

On Sept. 28, the Department of Justice began its preliminary hearing on the charges filed on May 23 at the Regional State Prosecutor’s Office in Cebu City. The 27 Cernet members are accused of violating Republic Act No. 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

The Inquirer opted not to identify the respondents since they had yet to issue individual statements regarding the matter.

ANHRP said the Philippine government is apparently under pressure to show that there had been an increase in the prosecution of money laundering and terrorism financing cases after being repeatedly gray-listed by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

“In a recent study, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism has highlighted the global trend of governments abusing international counterterrorism financing standards against civil society, citing the Philippines as an example,” ANHRP said.

But Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, Viscom commander, said authorities were determined to end the communist armed conflict in the country and will not hesitate to “enforce the full extent of the law to bring justice for people who have been the victims of these nefarious acts.”

“They cannot hide under the guise of cause-oriented and advocacy support groups forever. The law will not turn a blind eye to their deception, corruption, and terrorist acts,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“Justice will be served for all the menace they’ve caused to the Filipino people. They better have a good lawyer, or better yet, the lawyers of their allied organizations [should] be prepared to answer the call for justice of the people,” he added.

‘Unfounded accusations’

Lawyer Ian Vincent Cavada Manticajon, who serves as counsel for three of the 27 respondents, said his clients and the other members of Cernet were unjustly implicated solely because of their past association with the group either as staff members or trustee or council members.

“We therefore urgently call on the Philippine government to retract all unfounded accusations against Cernet. Furthermore, we urge the Philippine government to conduct thorough investigations and hold those responsible for Red-tagging accountable,” he said.

In its statement posted on its Facebook page, Cernet described the charges as a form of persecution to vilify the cause and mission of the organization.

“We strongly debunk the allegations mentioned in the complaint, especially when it is grounded on…lies and baseless accusations,” it said.

Cernet accused the government of persecuting civil society organizations by weaponizing laws.

“These only endanger the lives of development organizations and workers as they strive in contributing toward the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” said the group, which is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a nonprofit organization.

‘Fund generation scheme’

But according to Viscom, Cernet has been utilized since 2001 by the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to support their logistical and financial requirements.

“In order for [communist terrorists] to sustain their atrocities and operations, they do not just rely on the money collected from the extortion activities, but they have mastered their fund generation scheme legally through the creation of NGOs,” Viscom said, adding that it had documents and testimonies of former Cernet members against the organization, among other evidence.

Viscom said it cannot disclose its evidence, for now, so as not to compromise the case pending before the prosecutor’s office.

Brig. Gen. Joey Escanillas, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, said the charges stemmed from a case buildup wherein the NGO’s fundraising scheme was uncovered.

He said the rebels’ strategy has evolved, using “developmental workers” from NGOs as their cover.

According to him, NGOs submit project proposals to various international foundations for approval and funding ranging from P50,000 to millions of pesos.

“Through case buildup, it was disclosed that Cernet’s fund officers have been distributing funds wherein a portion is allocated to the people’s organization for their projects, while substantial amount had been given to the finance officer of the CTG (communist terrorist group) to acquire firearms and other war materials, which were then used by the CTG in assaults on innocent civilians and destruction of heavy machinery in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental in 2013,” Escanillas said.


Escanillas emphasized that the case was not against development workers.

“We are fighting terrorism particularly instigated by the CTG in this instance. We aim to put an end to their terror, falsehoods and deceptions which harm numerous innocent civilians, military personnel, police officers, politicians, business owners, and even companies subjected to extortion and arson,” he said.

“We urge the public to be aware of these misleading CTG tactics and to work together to fight CTG-led terrorism. This case serves as a stern warning to those who aid, collaborate with, or conspire with this terror group. The law will not provide excuses or exemptions from prosecution for such individuals,” he added.

Arevalo said of the charges: “This is not Red-tagging. This is truth-tagging. We wanted the people to know the truth about the CPP-NPA and its accomplices and allied organizations. They can sometimes pose as angels but behind the angelic smiles and alluring promises are the devils hiding their horns and tails.” (Nestle Semilla © Philippine Daily Inquirer)


Troops, communist rebels clash in Himamaylan City

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 2, 2023): Troops, communist rebels clash in Himamaylan City (By GLAZYL MASCULINO)

BACOLOD CITY – The Army 94th Infantry Battalion engaged remnants of Central Negros 2 of the New People’s Army twice in Sitio Bulasot, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on Sunday, October 1.

According to the Army, the first clash broke out at around 8:15 a.m. after soldiers received intelligence reports about the presence of unidentified armed persons reportedly conducting extortion and harassment in the area.

The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes and troops
recovered from the encounter site a M653 5.56mm rifle, a long magazine, a short magazine, a link 7.62mm ammunition, and subversive documents.

The second encounter which lasted five minutes occurred as the Army was conducting pursuit operations at 9:33 a.m.

Soldiers recovered from the encounter site an M653 5.56mm rifle, a long magazine, three short magazines, a bandolier, and two backpacks.

These clashes happened more than a week after six NPA rebels were killed in a gun battle with the 47th IB in Sitio Lubi, Barangay Tabugon, Kabankalan City on September 21.

Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte, 94th IB commander, lauded the dedication and courage of soldiers who have shown exceptional valor and professionalism during these encounters.

He thanked the community for their support and cooperation in the fight against insurgency in Barangay Buenavista.


Army neutralizes 30 NPA rebels in Western, Central Visayas

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 3, 2023): Army neutralizes 30 NPA rebels in Western, Central Visayas (By TARA YAP)

ILOILO CITY – The 3rd Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army neutralized 30 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Western and Central Visayas in September.

The 3rd ID said 16 NPA rebels were killed while others surrendered from September 1 to September 30.

Among the communist fighters killed was Rebecca Alfaro, alias “Jing,” who was among three casualties in a September 29 encounter with the 61st Infantry Battalion (IB) in Leon town, Iloilo province. Alfaro was the secretary of the NPA Southern Front Committee in Panay Island.

A BODY bag containing the cadaver of a slain New People’s Army (NPA) rebel is offloaded from a Philippine Air Force helicopter. Three NPA rebels were killed in a September 29 clash with the 61st Infantry Battalion in Iloilo. (3rd ID photo)

Others were killed in clashes in Negros Island which is under the area of coverage of 3rd ID units.

Among the 12 NPA rebels who surrendered last month through the efforts of the 79th IB was a former secretary of the NPA Northern Negros Front.

The 3rd ID also seized 33 firearms – 15 high-powered and 18 low-powered – and five explosives

The 3rd ID attributed the neutralization of the NPA rebels to the strong support of locals who provided ground information.

“Our persistent victory in crushing the NPA is a result of the unwavering support and cooperation from the local populace. They have become increasingly vigilant, providing us with timely and accurate information about the movement and activities of the NPA,” said Major Gen. Marion Sison, 3rd ID commander.


Seeking revival of Border Scouts

From the Daily Express (Oct 3, 2023): Seeking revival of Border Scouts (By: Hayati Dzulkifli, James Sarda)

This fifth of a series is in conjunction with Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor’s third year as Sabah Chief Minister. 

KOTA KINABALU: The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah-led State Government is looking into reviving the Sabah Border Scouts as part of additional security measures that will benefit the people and investors.

Although the State’s security situation has greatly improved especially at sea, following the setting up of Esscom during the tenure of predecessor Tan Sri Musa Aman, many other activities still continue overland such as cross-border smuggling of subsidised essential goods, among others.

They would also provide a security boost.

Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor said under such proposal the Border Scouts would have to be treated as State officers and paid by the State Government.

“We are thinking about having Border Scouts in Sabah by placing them at the borders to ward off security threats, among others. I brought this matter to the Sarawak Premier (Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg) in 2021 whereby he commended it as very good (proposal).

“But of course, we must engage the Federal Government because this is a matter of security,” he said in a special interview with Daily Express in conjunction with his third year as Chief Minister.

Hajiji recalled that Sabah used to have Border Scouts in the past and they were placed under the State’s payroll.

He believed such proposal is in Sabah’s best interests. If approved, they would be treated as State officers but must have background and working experience in the security field and would be trained by the Federal Government.

He said several of these trained scouts would be placed to guard various State’s borders, parts of which are often used as rat trails by smugglers and human traffickers.

“These scouts are our people, i.e. Sabahans and they will look after our borders,” Hajiji said, adding that a discussion on the salaries and remuneration would be looked into.

For the record, the Sabah Border Scouts were a paramilitary unit formed in 1963 and trained by the British.

The unit consisted of about 1,500 men under the command of Richard Noone and officers from the Semoi Praaq, the Orang Asli tracker unit of the Royal Malaysia Police.

They played an important role in warding off incursions by the Indonesian army in the south of Sabah during the Konfrontasi period of 1963 to 1966 conflict when Indonesian President Sukarno opposed the formation of Malaysia.

The Border Scouts then consisted of largely Muruts and proved a huge success due to their knowledge of the land and forests. They gathered intelligence for enforcement units to enable strikes against enemy incursions and the prevention cross-border crime and smuggling.

However, the Border Scout unit was disbanded in 1986 on grounds that there was no longer any external threat to Sabah.

However, there have been consistent calls for the unit to be revived following the influx of immigrants that are now believed to number a third of the State’s population, with many of them undocumented.

Some are believed to be sympathysers of the southern Philippines Abu Sayyaf terrorists who carried out nearly 20 cross border kidnappings since 2000.

Police revealed that some Abu Sayyaf elements managed to infiltrate in parts of Sabah after several high on the Philippines wanted list were killed in a shootout in a mangrove hideout in Beaufort three years ago.

Persistent claims that militants with links to the so-called Royal Sulu Army that intruded Lahad Datu in 2012, which led to a bloody confrontation with up to a dozen Malaysian security personnel being killed, also prompted calls for the Border Scouts to be revived as an additional measure.


Philippine Army deactivates JTFs Basilan and Sulu, forms Task Force Orion

From MindaNews (Oct 3, 2023): Philippine Army deactivates JTFs Basilan and Sulu, forms Task Force Orion (By FRENCIE CARREON)

JTFs Basilan and Sulu were deactivated on Monday, 2 October 2023, and unified into Task Force Orion. Photo courtesy of the Basilan Provincial Information Office

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 3 October) – The Philippine Army deactivated joint task forces (JTFs) Basilan and Sulu on Monday and unified them into the much bigger Task Force Orion.

A press release from the Basilan Provincial Information Office said that JTFs Basilan and Sulu were disbanded after seven years and replaced with Task Force Orion, under the command of Major Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, 11th Infantry (Alakdan) Division chief.

Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade based in Basilan, announced the deactivation of JTFs Basilan and Sulu at the brigade’s headquarters.

He led the furling of JTF Basilan’s flag and the unfurling of the flag of Task Force Orion, which symbolizes “strength.”

Luzon said the defunct JTF Basilan will remain as a brigade in the island-province under TF Orion.

The adjustment is part of the strategic campaign in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi against threat groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, he added.

“This is a very, very sound operational adjustment,” Luzon said, stressing that their priority remains focused on the province’s security in collaboration with the 10 local governments and the Basilan provincial government, especially in pushing forward their respective development programs and activities.

Luzon said that Basilan has become progressive due to the relatively peaceful condition in the province, even as he admitted that there are still armed groups in the area.

Basilan Governor Jim Salliman commended JTF Basilan for its contribution to the province’s peace and order campaign in the past years. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)

TESDA preps 80 conflict-affected areas in Negros for skills training

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 2, 2023): TESDA preps 80 conflict-affected areas in Negros for skills training (By Mary Judaline Partlow)

TRAINING. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Negros Oriental has identified at least 80 conflict-affected barangays for skills and livelihood training. TESDA-Negros Oriental provincial head Fletcher Gumahad (photo) said the barangays were identified through the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PNA photo by Mary Judaline F. Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has identified 80 conflict-stricken barangays in Negros Oriental to be provided with skills and livelihood training to aid their income.

Of the 80 barangays, 33 were recent additions to the list identified by the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) in 2019, TESDA-Negros Oriental provincial director Fletcher Gumahad told the Philippine News Agency.

The conflict-affected barangays that TESDA identified are 4 each in Canlaon City, Bindoy, Siaton and Manjuyod; 16 in Guihulngan City; 7 in Sta. Catalina; 15 in Valencia; 2 in Zamboanguita; 12 in Mabinay; 3 in Ayungon; 6 in Tayasan; and 1 each in Bayawan, Dauin and this capital city.

Some of the previously identified barangays have been recipients of various skills and livelihood training while the 33 new ones for this year are still awaiting go-signal from the region, Gumahad said.

Meanwhile, Barangay Dobdob in Valencia will receive 25 tool kits this month, which will be used to produce organic concoctions.

The Barangay Dobdob Farmers Association had already trained on organic concoction last year.

“But we are continuing our efforts on how to reach out to these 80 barangays through various interventions as our commitment being a part of the TF-ELCAC’s Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster,” Gumahad said.


3 NPA fighters yield, turn in firearms in Davao Norte town

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3, 2023): 3 NPA fighters yield, turn in firearms in Davao Norte town (By Che Palicte)

SURRENDER. Three fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) surrendered to the 56th Infantry Battalion and handed over two high-powered firearms in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte, on Sept. 30, 2023. The surrenderers consisted of a vice-squad leader and two followers of the NPA Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabibad, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. (Photo courtesy of 10ID)

DAVAO CITY – Saying they are exhausted and hungry, three New People’s Army (NPA) rebels surrendered to the military’s 56th Infantry Battalion (56IB) and handed over two high-powered firearms in the Davao Del Norte town of Talaingod, an official said Tuesday.

Major Mark Anthony Tito, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the surrenderers only as “Sander”, vice-squad leader of the NPA Sub-Regional Sentro De Grabibad (SRSDG) Peddler, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC), and the two others as “Alvin” and “Toks”.

Tito said the trio, who yielded on Sept. 30 to the 56IB in Barangay Palma Gil, once operated along the border areas of Talaingod and Bukidnon province.

“They confessed that they are very tired, and they are pressured of the military operations conducted by our troops. Also, they said they are starving,” Tito said in an interview.

The three also surrendered two M16 rifles and one rifle grenade ammunition
as a testament to their commitment to peace and reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Allan Hambala, the 10ID acting commander, underscored the importance of NPA fighters voluntarily laying down arms, describing it as an "essential milestone in the region's ongoing efforts to sustain an Insurgency-free Davao Region."

Since January this year, the 10ID has recorded the surrender of 109 regular NPA rebels, 134 Milisyang Bayan members, and 67 Underground Mass Organization supporters of the communist rebel group.

Moreover, a total of 141 firearms were turned over by the NPA fighters, of which 111 were gained through surrender.


PH Army gets 6 new vehicles from AFP mutual benefit association

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3, 2023): PH Army gets 6 new vehicles from AFP mutual benefit association (By Priam Nepomuceno)

DONATION. The donated vehicles from AFPMBAI presented during the handover and blessing ceremonies on Monday (Oct. 2, 2023) at Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The donated vehicles consisted of one boom truck, a manlift truck, two commuter vans, a light weight truck, and an ambulance. (Photo courtesy of the PA)

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) and three of its field units have received six new vehicles from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Police Mutual Benefit Association Inc. (AFPMBAI) on Monday.

Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad, in a statement Tuesday, said PA chief Lt. Gen. Roy Galido received the vehicles from AFPMBAI executives led by retired Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Regondola during turnover and blessing ceremonies at their headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The donated vehicles consist of a boom truck, a manlift truck, two commuter vans, a light weight truck, and an ambulance.

The two trucks and the commuter van are for the use of PA headquarters while the three other vehicles are for the 10th, 2nd and 1st Divisions.

"During the activity, Lt. Gen. Galido expressed his gratitude to AFPMBAI for their generous contribution to the organization and for always looking after the well-being of its personnel," Trinidad said.


AFP chief: PH continues to leverage alliances, boost capabilities

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3, 2023): AFP chief: PH continues to leverage alliances, boost capabilities (By Priam Nepomuceno)

AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – The ongoing "Exercise Samasama" between Filipino and American naval units highlights the country's efforts to leverage its alliances to improve its territorial defense capabilities, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said Monday night.

"Basically, when it comes to territorial defense we cannot do it alone. So we have to leverage our alliances and our partnerships with like-minded nations. So that's what we are doing. And ‘Exercise Samasama’ is one of the venues by which we can do that, leveraging our alliances and partnerships," the AFP chief said in an interview with reporters.

Brawner said this is aside from the usual benefits the AFP gets like interoperability and capability development from these military exercises which is aimed at building up the Philippines' defense posture.

"It's basically building that relationship (that) is very important," Brawner said.

"Exercise Samasama" runs from Oct. 2 to 13 in the waters of Manila and Naval Forces Southern Luzon.

Philippine Navy chief Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. earlier said the activity as a vital capacity-building platform for the PN that “empowers us to refine our naval warfare capabilities, addressing various dimensions of modern naval operations from antisubmarine warfare to electronic warfare.”


Cops to assist TESDA skills training programs in far-flung areas

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3, 2023): Cops to assist TESDA skills training programs in far-flung areas (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

PARTNERSHIP. PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (2dn from right) and TESDA Director General Suharto Mangudadatu (2nd from left) sign a memorandum of agreement at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Monday (Oct. 2, 2023). Under the MOA, PNP personnel would also benefit from TESDA's skills training programs and would also be tapped to assist in the implementation of the same in far-flung communities. (Photo courtesy of PNP PIO)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) joined forces to boost the skills training programs in far-flung areas.

In a news release on Tuesday, the PNP Public Information Office said PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. and TESDA Director General Suharto Mangudadatu signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the measure at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame on Monday.

“TESDA has tapped the service of the uniformed personnel to bring community-based training to far-flung areas, implementing skilled training for indigenous peoples, former rebels, other community members, and their families,” Mangudadatu said.

The MOA also includes the grant of skills training and other capability development programs to police personnel.

Mangundadatu, meanwhile, thanked the PNP for sharing its resources and other logistical facilities for the community-based skills training.

"In return, our agency has supported the comprehensive social benefit program of DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and the DND (Department of National Defense) in providing training for the beneficiaries of those uniformed personnel who have been killed in actions or killed in police operations,” Mangudadatu added.

Acorda also lauded the TESDA's support to the PNP and recognized the dedication of police personnel and their contributions to maintaining law and order.


25 cops deployed to South Sudan for peacekeeping mission

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3, 2023): 25 cops deployed to South Sudan for peacekeeping mission (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

PEACEKEEPERS. PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (2nd from right) and Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., (2nd from left) lead the send-off rites for the 25-member PNP contingent to South Sudan on Monday (Oct. 2, 2023). The contingent would be deployed to the African country to assist peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations. (Photo courtesy of PNP PIO)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it has deployed 25 police officers to the United Nations (UN) Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for a peacekeeping mission.

PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. led the send-off ceremony for the troops on Monday, where he emphasized the significance of the Philippines’ commitment to international peacekeeping efforts.

“To the 25 members of the PNP contingent who are embarking on this mission, you are about to represent the PNP, our nation, and our people on an international stage. Your journey will be arduous, filled with both triumphs and trials, but I have absolute confidence that you will carry our flag with unwavering pride and unwavering integrity,” Acorda added.

The PNP chief also encouraged them to serve with honor, courage, and unwavering dedication.

He also commended their willingness to venture into an environment filled with uncertainty and danger and for their selflessness and profound sense of duty to uphold the ideals of the UN.

Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., who also graced the event, reminded the troops of the significance of their mission and the trust that the nation places in their hands.

The Philippines has a long-standing tradition of contributing to UN peacekeeping missions.

Over the years, Filipino police officers have consistently served with honor and distinction in various UN operations worldwide, often in challenging conflict zones, where they risk their lives to protect vulnerable communities and uphold the principles of the organization.


AFP eyes expansion of defense ties with Thai counterparts

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 3, 2023): AFP eyes expansion of defense ties with Thai counterparts (By Priam Nepomuceno)

BOOSTING PARTNERSHIP. The incoming and outgoing Thai defense attachés to the Philippines pose for a photo with Maj. Gen. Ferdinand Barandon (left), AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence and AFP Inspector General Lt. Gen. William Gonzales (right) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Tuesday (Oct. 3, 2023). Group Capt. Nirut Rattanajanya replaced Group Capt. Soonthorn Pongampai as Bangkok's defense attaché to Manila. (Photo courtesy of the AFP)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday said it looks to further expand its strong defense relationship with Thailand.

This came as Lt. Gen. William Gonzales, AFP Inspector General and acting deputy chief of staff, welcomed the incoming and outgoing Thai defense attachés in a joint introductory and exit call at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“We would like to thank you for your services here for the last three years, and I hope you gained a lot of experience. We are very thankful for your time and assistance to the AFP," Gonzales told outgoing Thai defense attaché, Group Capt. Soonthorn Pongampai, who served from October 2020 to September this year.

Pongampai was replaced by Group Capt. Nirut Rattanajanya as Bangkok's new defense attaché to Manila.

In recognition of his services to the AFP, Pongampai was awarded with the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines Commendation Medal and Ribbon.

These ceremonies highlight the strong defense relationship and engagements of both countries, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Enrico Gil Ileto said.

Ileto added the AFP looks forward to continuing diplomatic cooperation with the Royal Thai Armed Forces.