Wednesday, January 24, 2024

AFP: CSAFP dons higher ranks to five senior officers

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Facebook Page (Jan 22, 2024): CSAFP dons higher ranks to five senior officers

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City—General Romeo Brawner Jr, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, led the donning of ranks ceremony for five recently promoted senior military officers on January 22 here.

The honored officers were MGen Jesus Nelson Morales, Commander of the Presidential Security Command; BGen Romulo Quemado II, Deputy Commander for External Defense Operations, WESCOM; BGen Eliglen Villaflor, Commander of Joint Special Operations Group; BGen Ronaldo Juan, Deputy Commander of the Presidential Security Command; and BGen Daniel Tansip, Chief Chaplain Service AFP.

“This donning of ranks ceremony is a time-honored tradition of recognizing the well-earned promotions of our military leaders, highlighting the principle of meritocracy that the AFP upholds and instills across its ranks. These individuals have demonstrated exceptional dedication to their duties in their years of service to the nation and the Filipino people,” General Brawner Jr said.  Photos by SSg Ambay/PAOAFP

AFP: AFP joins commemoration of 125th Anniversary of the First Republic of the Philippines

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Facebook Page (Jan 23, 2024): AFP joins commemoration of 125th Anniversary of the First Republic of the Philippines

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Romeo S Brawner Jr, joined the Commander-in-Chief, President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr, as he led the commemoration of the 125th Anniversary of the First Republic of the Philippines in a ceremony conducted on January 23 at the Barasoain Church Historical Landmark, Malolos, Bulacan.

“We are gathered here today where the cornerstone of our Republic was first laid, where our journey to nationhood was catapulted forward by the unstoppable will of our people to be free. We draw strength from what has transpired on these hallowed grounds 125 years ago,” said the Commander-in-Chief.
He also highlighted the importance of the historical event as he encouraged Filipinos to be inspired by the vision of the country's founding fathers in overcoming challenges.
“Kagaya ng mga haligi ng Republika ng Malolos, paigtingin natin lalo ang pag-ibig sa bayan upang maisulong natin ang isang mapagpalaya, mas maunlad at tunay na maginhawang bagong Pilipinas,” the Commander-in-Chief urged./// (Photos by SSg Ambay/PAOAFP)

AFP: CSAFP visits the Philippine Marine Corps

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Facebook Page (Jan 23, 2024): CSAFP visits the Philippine Marine Corps

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), General Romeo S Brawner Jr. visited the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) on January 23 at the Headquarters, Philippine Marines, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
General Brawner was welcomed by the Officers, Enlisted Personnel, and Civilian Human Resources headed by the Commandant, PMC, Major General Arturo Rojas.
During his talk to the troops, the CSAFP commended the PMC for their hard work and efforts in ensuring maritime security and encouraged them to remain united, professional, and loyal to the country.
“I am very proud of all your accomplishments. Please continue the good work that you are doing. Let us always remain united as a unit and as the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Always remain professional, and make sure that we are competent in our respective jobs. Let us make our country proud,” expressed Gen. Brawner.///   (Photos by PFC Carmelotes/PAOAFP)

AFP: AFP meets with German Director for Security and Defence Policy

Posted to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Facebook Page (Jan 24, 2024): AFP meets with German Director for Security and Defence Policy

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Deputy Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, LtGen Charlton Sean Gaerlan PN(M), met with the Director for Security and Defence Policy of the German Federal Ministry of Defence, BGen Jürgen Schrödl during a Courtesy Call on January 24 at the General Headquarters.

BGen Schrödl is currently in the country for the 2nd Philippines-Germany Staff Talks and took the opportunity to engage in discussions with the AFP concerning the defense cooperation between the Philippines and Germany.
During the visit, the military leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to supporting, revitalizing, and maintaining a stable relationship between both countries.
“Hopefully, in your stay here, we can have more engagements and develop an understanding of the needs of the Armed Forces. Thank you very much for your visit,” said LtGen Gaerlan as he expressed his gratitude to BGen Schrödl./// (Photos by SSg Amagan/PAOAFP)

Brawner: Quality education counters extremism, fosters peace

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 24, 2024): Brawner: Quality education counters extremism, fosters peace (By Lade Jean Kabagani)

The Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Romeo S Brawner Jr talks to the troops during his official visit to the Philippine Marine Corps on 23 January 2024 in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.Armed Forces of the Philippines

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. emphasized that providing Filipinos easy access to quality education can be a tool to counter violent extremism and foster peace within communities.

Brawner made the remarks in time for the observation of the International Day of Education on Wednesday.

“Cognizant of its theme, “Learning for Lasting Peace,” we emphasize the importance of education as a tool to counter violence and extremism, discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and hate speech and its crucial role in fostering understanding, cooperation, justice, and peace,” he said in a statement.

According to Brawner, there’s a high chance that those who have been deprived of quality education can become vulnerable to falling under wrong ideologies.

“Today, let us all remember that without access to quality education—a human right, a public good, and a public responsibility—our youth will remain vulnerable to violent ideologies,” he said.

“As your armed forces, we are committed to winning the hearts and minds of every Filipino. This has been the foundation of our whole-of-nation approach to end the root causes of conflict, chief of which are poverty and illiteracy,” he added.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed every 24th of January as the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education in peace and development.

“To every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine, let this occasion signal the need for us to learn and be much better at our jobs, and, more importantly, be acquainted with the struggles of the underprivileged so we can dispense our duties with compassion and humility,” Brawner said.

“Again, a transformative International Day of Education to all!”

China ‘militia rotation’ seen in SCS after talks with PH

 Posted to Panay News (Jan 24, 2024): China ‘militia rotation’ seen in SCS after talks with PH

Chinese militia vessels operate at Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea. PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO

MANILA – Beijing has sent at least 27 vessels on a “major maritime militia rotation” in the South China Sea (SCS), in areas that had seen recurring tensions between Philippine and Chinese vessels.

The movement was reported by an American maritime security expert on Saturday, days after Philippine and Chinese officials met and again agreed to maintain communication lines for friendly dialogue to deescalate tensions.

“China has a major maritime militia rotation under way across the South China Sea, with at least 27 Qiong Sansha Yu-class ships deploying south into the Spratly Islands and east to Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal,” Ray Powell posted on X.

“We’ll likely see others returning to Hainan Island after a short overlap period,” added Powell, who heads Project Myoushu at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation in Stanford University.

BCM meeting

Before Saturday’s reported movement, Manila and Beijing convened their eighth Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) meeting in Shanghai and agreed to deescalate tensions not only in the South China Sea but also in the diplomatic arena.

This was after President Marcos early this week congratulated Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te, triggering a harsh response from China.

Taiwan’s assertion of sovereignty is a sensitive matter to Beijing, which claims the breakaway island as part of its sovereignty and has enjoined the community of nations, including the Philippines, to observe a one-China policy.

The two sides also agreed, in their meeting in Shanghai, to “maintain … communication and dialogue [since this] is essential to maintaining maritime peace and stability,” China’s Foreign Ministry said.

Vital waterway

Hainan is China’s southernmost province and the nearest to the South China Sea, an international waterway where an estimated $5.3 trillion worth of goods transit each year.

The Philippines claims the northeastern part of the Spratlys, which it calls the Kalayaan Island Group, and the waters of the South China Sea within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which the country calls the West Philippine Sea.

Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Panatag Shoal, or Bajo de Masinloc, is a small ring of reefs also within the country’s EEZ.

Beijing seized control of Panatag Shoal following a standoff between the Philippine Navy and the Chinese Coast Guard in 2012. (Jane Bautista, Nelson Corrales © Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Ex-rebels vow to help widen support for peace negotiations

Posted to Panay News (Jan 25, 2024): Ex-rebels vow to help widen support for peace negotiations

Former Communist Party of the Philippines chair Rodolfo Salas (left) chats with former comrades, like former Alex Boncayao Brigade chief Nilo dela Cruz (foreground) during a gathering in Quezon City on Saturday. Photo by RYAN D. ROSAURO

MANILA — Around 250 former political activists and cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) from across the country vowed to “lend our voice” to help widen public support for the expected reopening of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The former rebels gathered in Quezon City over the weekend for the National Peace Advocates Summit organized by the Political Officers League of the Philippines (Polphil), a nationwide umbrella organization of political and governance advisers of mostly local government executives.

Among others, those in attendance were Iglesia Catolica Filipina Independiente Bishop Nilo Tayag, cofounder of Kabataang Makabayan; Nilo dela Cruz, former chief of urban guerrilla Alex Boncayao Brigade of the New People’s Army (NPA); Rodolfo Salas, former NPA chief and CPP chair; and former activist-priest Edicio dela Torre.

“We have spent our youth struggling for social justice and democracy hence we know the underpinnings of the conflict that has spawned over five decades of the communist rebellion. Today, we commit to lend our voice so that more people will join the push for a peaceful end of the rebellion, that is, through sincere political negotiations,” Polphil president Rodolfo Cañeda, a former underground activist in Central Visayas, told the Inquirer on the sidelines of the gathering.

Public expectations of an impending restart of peace talks between the government and the NDFP had risen following last year’s landmark joint communique firmed up in Oslo, capping a yearlong of back-channel discussions that started several months into the incumbency of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In the communique, the parties “agree to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict” and “acknowledge the deep-rooted socioeconomic and political grievances,” setting the upcoming negotiations toward the aim of “achieving the relevant socioeconomic and political reforms towards a just and lasting peace.”

Earlier, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said that after the Oslo communique, the parties started working on a framework and set of parameters that would guide the negotiations.

People’s support

“The intervention, the involvement of the people (in the peace process), is needed. After all, what will be agreed in the negotiations needs the people’s affirmation and support,” former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said in his keynote address on Saturday delivered via Zoom.

“Without a clear end to the negotiations, the (communist) rebellion has persisted. The resources used for war could have been used to foster economic development,” Puno added.

He urged the former activists to “bridge the voices of the people to the policymakers” and peace negotiators.

“We are taking up Chief Justice Puno’s advice. That is why we will be consolidating ourselves, not for any other goal but for peace,” said Cañeda, who later joined the administration of former President Joseph Estrada as executive director of the National Youth Commission and later as Cooperative Development Authority administrator.

Positive signals

According to Salas, one of the big issues that must be given due attention is reforms in the political system. “There is no sustained peace if society is controlled only by a few,” Salas pointed out.

Salas added that good signals on the peace front were highly welcome as he had thought “the last opportunity for political negotiations was during the time of [President Rodrigo] Duterte.”

Summoning some bit of nostalgia, Salas recalled that it was during the time of the late President Fidel Ramos that the government “was really serious about the talks,” only that the CPP “was in shambles” due to internal dissensions and split.

Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza noted that there were enough positive signals from the Marcos administration that peacemaking was among its priorities.

These include the grant of amnesty for rebels, the order to fast-track land distribution, and the condonation of debts of agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The last two issues are included in the discussions on socioeconomic reforms while amnesty in the confidence-building measures, said Braganza, who had been part of government’s negotiating panel under four presidents — Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, and Rodrigo Duterte. (Ryan D. Rosauro © Philippine Daily Inquirer)

2 rebels surrender to police

From Panay News (Jan 25, 2024): 2 rebels surrender to police (By Ruby P. Silubrico)

A 71-year-old female New People’s Army member surrenders to the local government and municipal police of La Castellana, Negros Occidental on Tuesday, Jan. 23. NOCPPO PHOTO

ILOILO City – Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels voluntarily surrendered to authorities on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The 69-year-old “Ner”, a resident of Barangay Botbot, Pandan, Antique, surrendered to the Pandan Municipal Police Station around 3:30 p.m. He also yielded a 12-gauge shotgun.

Police said the surrenderer joined the terrorist group sometime in December 1979 under the command of “Ka Ramon.

He was an active member of the District Guerilla Unit (DGU), Panay Regional Party Committee (PRPC) until 1983.

In Negros Occidental, a 71-year-old female NPA member turned herself in to the local government and municipal police of La Castellana.

A resident of Barangay Linantuyan, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, she was among those who encountered troops of the Philippine Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion in the town’s Barangay Sag-ang on Jan. 17.

Major Rhojn Darell Nigos, public information officer of Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office, in an interview said the woman, who is a political instructor of CN1, decided to surrender because of the continued presence of government troops in La Castellana.

The Pandan police station and the Negros police are currently conducting custodial profiling of the former rebels.

The information gathered will be evaluated for eligibility in availing themselves of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

Police Brigadier General Sidney Villaflor, director of Police Regional Office (PRO-6), congratulated his men for the surrender of the former rebels.

“The regional office remained committed to fostering a climate of understanding and support for those seeking a new path. As we witness this voluntary surrender, let us reaffirm our commitment to peace and reconciliation. We are ready to assist in your reintegration into society. Let us work together for lasting peace,” Villaflor said. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency)

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis: Nakatakdang porum ng US Air Force sa UP Diliman, ipinaaatras

CPP/Ang Bayan Daily News & Analysis propaganda article (Jan 24, 2024): Nakatakdang porum ng US Air Force sa UP Diliman, ipinaaatras (Scheduled US Air Force forum in UP Diliman, postponed)

January 24, 2024

Nangangalap ng pirma para sa isang petisyon ang University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) College of Science Student Council (CSSC) sa mga estudyante at organisasyon sa kampus nito para pigilan ang nakatakdang porum ng US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) sa UP Diliman sa darating na Enero 1. Ayon ito sa ulat ng Philippine Collegian, pahayagang pangmag-aaral ng UP Diliman.

Binatikos ng UPD CSSC ang nakatakdang porum ng US Air Force sa College of Science Administration Building na mabibigay ng impormason kaugnay ng “US Air Force Office of Scientific Research Grant Opportunities.” Tatalakayin dito kung papaanong makakukuha ng pondo mula sa AFOSR para sa mga pananaliksik na mapakikinabangan ng US Air Force.

Layunin ng AFOSR na pondohan ang siyentipikong pananaliksik na maaari nitong isanib sa pagpapaunlad ng mga armas at teknolohiya na kapaki-pakinabang sa mga gera at opensiba ng imperyalistang US.

“[Ang porum] ay tahasang kabaligtaran ng paninindigan ng kolehiyo na “Ipaglinkgod sa sambayanan ang Siyensya,” ayon sa petisyon ng konseho. Naniniwala ang konseho na dapat gamitin ang teknolohiya sa higit na nakabubuti, para sa isang makatarungan at mapayapang lipunan.

Anila, malinaw na ginagamit ang mga pananaliksik na ito para sa mga krimen sa digma tulad ng ginagawang pagsuporta at pagpopondo ng imperyalistang US sa henosidyo ng Zionistang Israel laban sa mamamayang Palestino. Sa ulat noong huling kwarto ng 2023, nakatakdang bigyan ng US ang Israel ng dagdag na $14.3 bilyon para itaguyod ang gera nito laban sa mamamayang Palestino.

Sa kabuuan, simula 1946 hanggang 2023, tinatayang $263 bilyon na ang ibinigay nito sa Israel para sa pag-atake sa mga Palestino. Higit 80% ng mga armas ng Israel mula 1950 hanggang 2020 ay mula sa US.

Dahil dito, umapela ang konseho sa dekano ng kolehiyo na si Dean Giovanni Tapang na huwag pahintulutang maisagawa ang aktibidad sa nasasakupan nitong mga gusali at iginiit nilang tuluyan nang ipaatras ang porum. Ayon sa Philippine Collegian, sinimulang ipaikot at mangalap ng pirma ng konseho noong Enero 22.


Scheduled US Air Force forum in UP Diliman, postponed

The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) College of Science Student Council (CSSC) is gathering signatures for a petition among students and organizations on its campus to stop the scheduled US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) forum at UP Diliman this coming January 1. This is according to a report by the Philippine Collegian, UP Diliman's student newspaper.

The UPD CSSC criticized the US Air Force's scheduled forum at the College of Science Administration Building that will provide information related to the "US Air Force Office of Scientific Research Grant Opportunities." It will discuss how to get funding from AFOSR for research that will benefit the US Air Force.

The purpose of AFOSR is to fund scientific research that can be integrated into the development of weapons and technologies useful in US imperialist wars and offensives.

“[The forum] is in stark contrast to the college's commitment to “Engage Science to the People,” according to the council's petition. The council believes that technology should be used for the greater good, for a just and peaceful society.

According to them, these researches are clearly being used for war crimes such as the US imperialist's support and financing of Zionist Israel's genocide against the Palestinian people. In a report in the last quarter of 2023, the US is set to give Israel an additional $14.3 billion to support its war against the Palestinian people.

In total, from 1946 to 2023, it has given Israel an estimated $263 billion to attack the Palestinians. Over 80% of Israel's weapons from 1950 to 2020 came from the US.

Because of this, the council appealed to the dean of the college, Dean Giovanni Tapang, not to allow the activity to be carried out in its buildings and they insisted on withdrawing the forum altogether. According to the Philippine Collegian, the council began circulating and collecting signatures on January 22.

CPP/NPA-South Central Negros: Tatlo ka mangunguma, gindakop sa nabukid nga bahin sang Himamaylan City

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (Jan 21, 2024): Tatlo ka mangunguma, gindakop sa nabukid nga bahin sang Himamaylan City (Three farmers were arrested in the rural part of Himamaylan City)

Dionesio Magbuelas
NPA-South Central Negros (Mt. Cansermon Command)
Negros Island Regional Operational Command (Apolinario Gatmaitan Command)
New People's Army

January 21, 2024

Gindakop sang mga katapo sang 94th IB bisan wala sang kaso ang mag-amay nga sanday Deloy kag Vences de Leon, kag Remy Villacanao, mga mangunguma, sa Sityo Cantupa-Pisok, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City pasado alas 2:00 sang hapon subong nga adlaw, Enero 21.

Ginsakay ang tatlo sa salakyan sang 94th IB nga nakaparking sa Sityo Alolong sa amo nga baryo.

Mga katapo sang Kauswagan sang mga Mangunguma sa Buenvista (KMB) ang iligal nga gindakop. Isa man ka lider simbahan si Deloy de Leon.

CPP/CIO: Inconsistencies in Marcos and AFP pronouncements about NPA strength

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Philippine Revolution Web Central (PRWC) Website (Jan 24, 2024): Inconsistencies in Marcos and AFP pronouncements about NPA strength

Marco Valbuena
Chief Information Officer
Communist Party of the Philippines

January 24, 2024

1)It was quite amusing to observe a few days ago how Col. Francel Margareth Padilla started her work as new spokesperson of the AFP by repeating the annual AFP announcement that the fascist military “will eliminate the New People’s Army by the end of the year.” Despite being new to the job, she already sounded like a broken record.

What was interesting, however, is the fact that she issued her statement just days after Marcos, their commander-in-chief, declared that “there are no more NPA fronts,” a claim rebuffed a few days after by Gen. Romeo Brawner who said the NPA still has “eleven weakened fronts.” To say the least, these disconnected statements reveal inconsistencies in the Marcos government’s public assessment of the state of the revolutionary armed movement, arising from contradictions in its self-serving objectives.

On the one hand, it wants to project the Philippines as “insurgency-free” in its desperate drive to entice foreign capitalists at a time of global crisis, with promises of full access to land and resources. On the other hand, it wants to justify the gargantuan and historic high budget allotted to the AFP, which mostly go to bombs, artillery shells, jet fighters, drones, jet fuel, bullets, assault weapons and other military equipment used for counterguerrilla operations.

However, it does not want to look inept and stupid for its yearly failure to attain its declaration of “crushing the NPA,” thus, they have resorted to drilling the line of “weakened NPA” and achieving “strategic victory.”

Neither declaration of “no more NPA fronts” or “eliminating the NPA by the end of the year”, however, can obscure the fact that the AFP continues to carry out an all-out strategic offensive and large-scale military operations across the country, squandering billions upon billions of pesos in a war that is bound to fail in its objectives of ending the Filipino people’s democratic resistance.

2) Over the years, declarations of “crushing the NPA” have invariably been accompanied by worsening forms of violations of human rights and attacks against civilians in violation of international humanitarian law. The pattern remains the same under Marcos as the fascist troops of the AFP act like wild dogs on a rampage, firing guns and dropping bombs in an act of bravado.

The peasant masses, who serve as the source of strength of the NPA, are at the main targets of the AFP. When it says it is staging focused military operations, the AFP, in fact, are carrying out a campaign of brutal suppression in hundreds of rural villages. These are marked by extrajudicial killings, rounding up people and parading them as “surrenderees,” looting people’s homes, encampment of soldiers amid civilian communities, imposing curfew and other arbitrary restrictions on people’s movements and economic activity, food blockades, checkpoints, aerial bombing, artillery shelling and other bloody and dirty tactics. The vain objective is to break the people’s spirit and make them cower to submission. The result is the opposite.

Let me point out the recent killings of two peasant activists in Negros Occidental by elements of the 62nd IB. The two, Boy Baloy and Ernesto Torres, were both active in resistance to land grabbing and defending their communities. Like before, the AFP claims the victims to be NPA fighters killed in an armed encounter, in the same way that the PNP justifies the thousands killed in its “drug war,” in its perverted attempt to cover-up their crimes.

3) I am happy to report to the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces that we have received reports from various NPA commands across the country welcoming the Party’s call to carry out a rectification movement. Fighters and commanders of the NPA have expressed enlightenment provided by the Party’s self-critical analysis of past internal weaknesses and errors of the NPA.

Majority of the units of the NPA have adjusted to the AFP’s tactics of large-scale military mobilization and are expanding their areas of operation and strengthening their mass base. They have adapted guerrilla tactics of concentration, shifting and dispersal to comprehensively and painstakingly carry out military work and mass work. The peasant masses, even those who were subjected to military suppression and forced to “surrender,” are elated by the return and presence of NPA units in their areas.

All in all, we anticipate steady growth during the rest of the year and succeeding period. Amid Marcos’ corruption, policies that favor foreign capitalist interests and a few big bourgeois compradors and big landlords, the Filipino people have no other recourse but to intensify their revolutionary mass movement and armed resistance.

4) There is now a stark contrast between the NPA and the AFP.

On the one hand, there is creeping demoralization within the AFP, especially among their rank-and-file, who are well too aware of their failure to defeat the NPA and the continuing deep and wide support that the NPA enjoys among the peasant masses and people. They are further dispirited by the corruption of their higher officers who mulct and pocket millions of pesos of public funds, and by the in-fighting among the generals who are deeply loyal to rival politicians and bureaucrat capitalists. They are utterly dejected by the fact that they are used as cannon fodder to defend a rotten system while their commander-in-chief enjoy a high-style living using public money to have helicopters ferry him from concerts and late-night parties.

On the one hand, the unity of NPA Red fighters and commanders of the NPA continues to grow strong and their revolutionary moral heightens. Without expecting any material thing in return, they give all out to serve and defend the peasant masses and people.

Editorial: A critical take on the airdrop to BRP Sierra Madre

From Palawan News (Jan 23, 2024): Editorial: A critical take on the airdrop to BRP Sierra Madre

This editorial banner image was created by AI.

The regular resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal that was scheduled last week, dubbed RORE (rotation and resupply), the first for this year 2024, had to be scuttled. This was the announcement made Monday by the AFP spokesperson, who explained that they encountered “technical difficulties” with the civilian vessels they had been using for these RORE missions.

The AFP did not state this, but there were unverified reports on social media, including pictures, of an airdrop that was done instead. When asked during the briefing, the AFP spokesperson, Col. Francel Margareth Padilla, merely commented that an airdrop is part of their “operational mix” in undertaking the RORE missions.

Two civilian vessels, the Unaiza Mae 1 and 2, had figured in several cat-and-mouse encounters with the Chinese Coast Guard in the past. It turned out that the vessels had to undergo repairs for damages they incurred during their past missions. The poor vessels had experienced being water cannoned and rammed.

China continues to harass these supply missions to BRP Sierra Madre; the last one was in December, when it shadowed a convoy organized by the volunteer group Atin Ito as it approached Ayungin Shoal, forcing the captain of its lead ship to turn back.

There is no sign that the Chinese are backpedaling from their belligerent posture of asserting sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea. Beijing even harshly reacted to Manila’s congratulatory note on the recent Taiwanese elections, even going below the belt to insult President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., which the palace simply opted to brush aside.

The problem with the airdrop is that it is inadequate as a means to transport the supplies needed for BRP Sierra Madre, including those needed to maintain the rusting ship. Using it as a means to undertake RORE also leaves a bad taste in the mouth as a tacit admission that China has control over the area and the Philippines does not even have a suitable seagoing vessel to stand in for Unaiza Mae.

The airdrop sends a political message to Beijing, saying that the Philippines has a weak capacity to support BRP Sierra Madre. It speaks volumes about the planning capacity of the AFP, with its total reliance on Unaiza Mae to do the all-important RORE missions. It bares open the logistical gaps of the Western Command tasked with undertaking the support operations for BRP Sierra Madre. For an important national security concern, RORE missions should not and must not be saddled with “technical issues.”

Monday’s AFP briefing did not go into details about the current operational challenges they are facing in these resupply missions. But the AFP and the Philippine government need to address this issue decisively and have to show the muscle and wherewithal to, at the very least, sustain unimpeded RORE missions.

In this time of relative peace, the airdrops to BRP Sierra Madre are pitiful signs of incapacity.

Manila signs defense cooperation agreement with Canada

From Palawan News (Jan 23, 2024): Manila signs defense cooperation agreement with Canada (By Andrew Atienza)

Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr., expressed his satisfaction at the robust commitment demonstrated by the Philippines and Canada to deepen and fortify defense relations, during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Defense Cooperation between the two countries on Friday. (Photo courtesy: Defense Department)

Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. has signed the memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation between the Philippines and Canada to maintain the strong foundation of bilateral cooperation.

“The strongest assets (the Philippines and Canada) have are the mutual trust and confidence that we have in one another on a people-to-people basis,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro pledged the commitment of the Department of National Defense to the full implementation of the MOU, in line with the Department’s thrust to strengthen its defense partnerships with like-minded states, given the evolving regional security landscape.

“And because we are dealing with each other in a straightforward, open, and rules-based manner, such trust is reinforced and will surpass political changes and the tests of time,” Teodoro said.

Palace reorganizes intel body

From Palawan News (Jan 24, 2024): Palace reorganizes intel body (By Andrew Atienza)

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. reorganizes NICA to ensure national security and promote national interest amid evolving threats. (Malacañang Photo)

In a bid to strengthen intelligence gathering and analysis to ensure national security and promote national interest, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has reorganized the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) by signing Executive Order No. 54 on January 19.

“There is a need to reorganize the NICA to adapt to the evolving threats to national security and ensure a more vigorous intelligence collection, intensify internal and external coordination with foreign and domestic counterparts, and prepare intelligence and security assessments and estimates using data analytics to ensure national security and promote the national interest,” the EO stated.

Marcos saw the need to reorganize NICA to adapt to the changing threats to national security.

Former President Corazon C. Aquino created the NICA through EO No. 246 in 1987.

As the main component of its reorganization, EO 54 established the Office of the Deputy Director General (ODDG) for Cyber and Emerging Threats, tasked with providing direction to the overall planning, supervision, and coordination of the NICA on counter-intelligence and counter-measures against cybersecurity threats, weapons of mass destruction, and other emerging threats.

The ODDG for Cyber and Emerging Threats would be headed by a Deputy Director General with the rank of Assistant Secretary to be appointed by the President and would be composed of the Directorate for Counterintelligence and Security (DCS) and the Directorate for Cyberintelligence and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (DCCWMD).

Marcos said EO 54 would have to take effect immediately.

Philippines, Vietnam eye ‘strategic partnership’ agreement between coast guards

From Rappler (Jan 23, 2024): Philippines, Vietnam eye ‘strategic partnership’ agreement between coast guards (By BEA CUPIN)

A memorandum of understanding between the coast guards of the Philippines and Vietnam on protecting their mutual interest in South East Asia is almost done, says the PCG

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s expected visit to Vietnam in late January, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday, January 23, met with and briefed Vietnamese officials on “its current engagement and maritime security operations in the West Philippine Sea.”

In a release, the PCG said Vietnam’s Standing Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu visited its headquarters, alongside Vietnamese Ambassador to Manila Dr. Lai Thai Binh, and other other top officials from the Vietnamese embassy here.

During the meeting, the two countries talked about a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between its two coast guards. Talks for that memorandum began in 2018.

“The MOU aims to enhance the strategic partnership and cooperation between the PCG and VCG [Vietnam Coast Guard] toward the promotion, preservation, and protection of their mutual interest in the Southeast Asian region,” said the PCG, which was represented in the meeting by its Deputy Commandant for Administration Vice Admiral Allan Victor dela Vega.

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The final version of the MOU is “almost done,” according to PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilio, with the signing expected to take place when Marcos visits Vietnam.

Vietnam is among the Southeast Asian claimant states in the South China Sea. Like the Philippines, Vietnam has had to deal with China’s claim of practically the entire South China Sea – a claim that a 2016 Arbitral Award deemed invalid.

Vietnam has several outposts in the Spratlys, an island group in the South China Sea which has features within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

While Vietnamese vessels are regular voyagers in the South China Sea, there have been no recent reports of confrontations between their ships and Philippine vessels.

Hanoi, however, had rebuked the Philippines’ decision to place navigational buoys in five areas of its EEZ to claim its sovereign rights in areas of the Spratlys which Vietnam also claims.

Altered Image: Image of 'confrontation in South China Sea' was created from two separate photos

Posted to AFP Fact Check (Jan 23, 2024): Altered Image: Image of 'confrontation in South China Sea' was created from two separate photos

As Beijing and Washington staged rival military exercises in the disputed South China Sea, a digitally manipulated image was shared in a YouTube video viewed thousands of times that falsely claimed Philippine and US coast guard vessels "joined forces" against a Chinese ship. The video, presented like a news report, claimed this occurred during a maritime patrol of a disputed atoll to the west of the Philippines in January 2024. But the image in fact combines a photo taken of US and Philippine coast guard vessels during a joint military exercise in June 2023 with a separate photo of a Chinese ship taken in April 2017.

"China, US and Philippine Coast Guard clashed at the South China Sea / Joined forces to stop the CCG..." reads the Tagalog-language title of a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 33,000 times since it was shared here on January 15, 2024.

It shows three ships: those that belonged to the US and Philippine coast guards in the foreground, with their country flags above them, and what appears to be a Chinese coast guard vessel in the background with its flag above it.

The video's Tagalog-language narration cites an unnamed source as saying "large ships from the US Coast Guard and Philippine Coast Guard went to Ayungin Shoal the other day while they were patrolling the West Philippine Sea."

Manila refers to the waters immediately to its west as the West Philippine Sea. Ayungin Shoal is the Philippine name for Second Thomas Shoal, an atoll about 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from China's nearest major landmass of Hainan island.

Screenshot of the false YouTube video, captured on January 17, 2024

The video was also shared on Facebook and generated a separate reaction video.

The YouTube video begins with a disclaimer that its content is "purely for entertainment purposes" and some information is "not fully verified", but comments on the video suggest users believed there had been a naval confrontation.

"The US can't take on China. That's just posturing; they're afraid of the Chinese," read one comment.

Another said: "Once the joint maritime exercises between PH and US ends, for sure, the [China Coast Guard's] harassment will resume."

The video was shared after US and Philippine forces conducted a two-day joint military exercise in early January.

The drills followed tense standoffs between Beijing and Manila in disputed reefs that saw vessels from the two countries collide and Chinese ships blast water cannon at Philippine boats.

China, which claims almost the entire South China Sea, condemned the exercise as "provocative military activities", and held its own "live fire drills" over the contested waters.

But the image shared on YouTube was created by combining two unrelated photos, and there have been no official reports of such a standoff occurring at the atoll.
Composite image

A reverse image search coupled with keyword searches on Google led to separate photos published in April 2017 and June 2023.

The Philippine and US coast guard vessels were pictured together by Reuters on June 6, 2023, during trilateral maritime exercises involving the United States, the Philippines and Japan (archived links here, here, here and here).

Similar photos were also captured by The Associated Press and AFP (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the altered image (left) and the Reuters photo (right):

Screenshot comparison of the altered image (left) and the Reuters photo (right)

Its caption reads: "Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702) and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) participate in drills during the first trilateral coast guard exercise between the Philippines, Japan, and the U.S., at the coast of Bataan, Philippines, in the South China Sea."

According to the US Navy, neither the Stratton nor the Melchora Aquino participated in the January 2024 military exercise (archived link).

The Chinese coast guard vessel inserted between these two ships in the altered image was lifted from a separate Reuters photo taken on April 6, 2017 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the altered image (left) and the Reuters photo (right):

Screenshot comparison of the altered image (left) and the Reuters photo (right)

Its caption says it was shot at the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

As of January 23, there have been no official reports about Philippine and US vessels jointly confronting a Chinese coast guard ship near the disputed atoll.

AFP has previously debunked posts that used manipulated images to portray disputes in the South China Sea here, here and here.

AFP airdrops supplies to BRP Sierra Madre – source

From ABS-CBN News (Jan 23, 2024): AFP airdrops supplies to BRP Sierra Madre – source (Bianca Dava)

The BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, part of the disputed Spratly Islands. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has successfully conducted an airdrop mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal over the weekend, a senior military official confirmed on Tuesday.
The source, who spoke to defense reporters on condition of anonymity, said a Philippine Navy Islander maritime patrol aircraft airdropped the supplies to personnel of the grounded ship on Sunday at 8:49 a.m.

The supplies will last for one to two weeks, the source added.

The AFP on Monday said its recent rotation and resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal was aborted after supply boat Unaizah Mae 1 suffered technical problems.  
Beijing has claimed that Manila had agreed to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, but has yet to provide evidence to back its claims.

Marcos orders NICA revamp to boost cybersecurity

 From Business World (Jan 23, 2024): Marcos orders NICA revamp to boost cybersecurity


PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has ordered the reorganization of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to boost cybersecurity efforts.

Under Executive Order (EO) 54 signed by Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin on Jan. 19, the President also ordered the creation of an Office of the Deputy Director General for Cyber- and Emerging Threats who will work on counter-intelligence measures.

“There is a need to reorganize the NICA to adapt to the evolving threats to national security and ensure a more vigorous intelligence collection, intensify internal and external coordination with foreign and domestic counterparts,” according to a copy of the order uploaded on the Official Gazette website.

The President cited the need to assess intelligence and security.

The NICA assistant secretary will head the office and will plan and supervise measures against cyber-security threats and weapons of mass destruction, according to the order.

The Philippines ranked second among countries with the most cyber-attacks worldwide in 2022, Kaspersky said in March.

Last year, the country faced 2.4 million brute force or trial-and-error attacks among remote workers, 52,914 financial phishing cases among businesses, 24,737 crypto-phishing cases, 15,732 mobile malware cases and 50 Trojan virus cases, according to data from Kaspersky.

In a July 2023 study, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said there were 182,729 suspicious transactions linked to online sexual abuse and exploitation of children worth P1.56 billion from 2020 to 2022.

Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John E. Uy earlier said the Philippines only had 200 certified cyber-security experts in 2022.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines in October said it was considering creating a cyber-command to improve the country’s defenses against cyber-attacks. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

Teodoro orders DND to stop outsourcing staff due to espionage risk

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 24, 2024): Teodoro orders DND to stop outsourcing staff due to espionage risk (By: John Eric Mendoza)

DND.GOV.PH / Reuters

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has ordered the Department of National Defense (DND) to stop outsourcing its staff to minimize the risk of espionage.

“There is a full security review ongoing,” Teodoro said in a speech he gave on Tuesday during the forum by Manila Overseas Press Club in a Makati hotel.

“We have to tailor even the most basic services to conform to operational security,” he said.

“Even our janitorial services, I have given my instruction to stop outsourcing these things already because you are getting them from manpower agencies: they are not properly motivated, they are part of your secure environment, and yet they are a possible target for espionage and other things.”

Aside from this, the department had made several moves to protect itself and the military against security threats even in the cyber realm.

In October last year, Teodoro ordered DND employees to avoid using artificial intelligence-powered apps that create enhanced portraits, saying this might lead to identity theft.

This month, Teodoro also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to reactivate its counterintelligence group to protect the military against espionage, sabotage, and other intelligence activities of foreign agents.

PRO-7: Rules on anti-terror law to boost efforts against terrorism in CV

From the Cebu Daily News (Jan 24, 2024): PRO-7: Rules on anti-terror law to boost efforts against terrorism in CV (By: Emmariel Ares)

Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7). | Emmariel Ares

CEBU CITY, Philippines — An official of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) said that they were preparing to make the necessary adjustments in line with the newly-implemented rules on anti-terrorism cases.

On January 15, 2024, the “Rules on the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 and Related Laws” officially took effect.

This applies to “petitions and applications regarding detentions without judicial warrants of arrest, surveillance orders, freeze orders, restrictions on travel, designations, proscriptions, and other court issuances promulgated to implement the ATA and other related laws.”

READ: Ample safeguards in place to prevent abuse of anti-terror law – Lacson

PRO-7 making adjustments

In light of this, PRO-7 spokesperson, Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, said that they were examining on how the adjustments would be applied in their operations.

“We are already studying and preparing, together with our Armed Forces of the Philippines counterpart, on how to do the necessary adjustments with the recent passage of effectivity of the law that was passed by Congress,” he stated.

Pelare added that these set of procedural rules would be utilized to advance their relentless efforts to solve the problem of terrorism in Central Visayas.

“Gamiton nato ni para ultimately, mawagtang na gyud ang atong problema sa communist terrorist group ug sa laing mga terrorist groups diri sa Central Visayas,” he said. (We will use this so that ultimately, the problem on the communist terrorist group and other terrorist groups here in Central Visayas will be solved.)

READ: Anti-Terrorism Law: Rules set by SC will take effect on Jan. 15

Law enforcement winning war vs terrorists — PRO-7 exec

In recent times, guerrilla fronts that were reported to have been present in Negros and Bohol were dismantled by authorities.

This goes to show that law-enforcement is winning the war against terrorist groups in the region, according to Pelare.

“But ang atong efforts gyud sa (our efforts are really on) anti-terrorism has been continuing and we are winning the war here in Central Visayas,” he stated.

Because of a series of armed operations by personnel of the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP), the leaders of these groups have been neutralized and most of its members have already surrendered.

Despite this, Pelare said that they would be monitoring individuals after gathering information that they had been making efforts to bring some group back to its previous state.

“Ang ato na lang gibantayan karon is dili sila makabalik sa karaang estado,” he said. (What we are monitoring now is that they could not return to their past state.)

READ: Anti-Terror Law constitutional except for two parts, says SC

PRO-7 Exec to visit barangays also

As part of their efforts to terminate the activities of terrorists, Pelare stated that they would also be visiting barangays and providing projects with the help of the government.

This is to make sure that residents will be well-informed and safe from manipulative tactics enticing them to join the terrorist groups.

“But now, the government were able to show that their idealism is fake and that the government is doing its job to provide for the needs of the people,” added Pelare.

Pelare also highlighted that they were in an advantageous spot due to the public’s one hundred percent cooperation.

“We have proven that our strategy is very effective…Indispensable dito (here) or significantly contributing is the support of the community,” he stated.

READ: Barcenas: Petitions vs Anti-Terror Law have ‘high’ chances in SC

RA 11479 signed into law

RA 11479 was signed into law by then President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2020.

Despite the 37 petitions that were brought before the Supreme Court to nullify the measure, it was declared constitutional, except for two of its provisions, on December 2021.

The rules state that a person suspected of being a member of a terrorist group can be arrested without a judicial warrant of arrest and detained for up to 14 days.

It also states that law enforcers must secure an order from the Court of Appeals to secretly conduct surveillance, such as wiretapping of conversations, on suspected terrorists.

These are only some of the primary points of the rules on RA 11479, which is known to be one of the most contested law in the country to date.