Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Marcos says 3 deals to be inked during Australia visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 28, 2024): Marcos says 3 deals to be inked during Australia visit (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos)

OFF TO CANBERRA. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday (Feb. 28, 2024) delivers a pre-departure speech at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City before flying to Canberra, Australia. In his speech, Marcos said at least three agreements aimed at enhancing the Philippines and Australia's relations will be signed during his trip to Canberra. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said three agreements aimed at enhancing the Philippines and Australia’s relations will be signed during his visit to the Australian capital Canberra.

“I anticipate an enhancement of the mutual understanding between the Philippines and Australia as we share a common vision not just for our bilateral relations, but for the peace and security of the region as well,” Marcos said in his pre-departure speech delivered at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

“I will also have the opportunity to expand our wide-ranging cooperation with Australia through the formalization and signing of three agreements,” he added. Marcos, however, did not elaborate on the agreements to be signed.

The President will be in Canberra as a “guest of government” upon the invitation of Australian Governor-General David Hurley.

He is also set to address the Australian Parliament to discuss the strategic partnership between the two nations.

Marcos stressed that the strategic partnership between the Philippines and Australia “provides greater energy and optimism for closer cooperation that is mutually beneficial to both Filipinos and Australians”.

“Our engagement in the Parliament will also feature conversations with Australia’s legislative leadership who are vital partners in ensuring a favorable and enabling policy to our relations to continue its upward trajectory,” he said.

Marcos said he would also highlight the two countries’ improved defense and security tie, citing the success of Exercise Alon and the Maritime Cooperative Activity last year.

He also emphasized the need to discuss the expansion of collaboration with Australia in trade and investment in the coming years.

“After all, economic security is a vital component of national security,” Marcos said. “I hope to bring home with me a more robust, warmer, and closer Philippine-Australian relations.”

The President is also expected to hold separate meetings with Australian senior officials to have “constructive discussions on defense and security, trade, investments, people-to-people exchanges, multilateral cooperation, and regional issues,” MalacaƱang earlier said.

The Philippines and Australia will celebrate the 78th anniversary of diplomatic relations in November this year.

Australia is the Philippines’ second largest partner in defense and security and one of only two bilateral partners with a status of Visiting Forces Agreement, aside from the United States.

As of 2022, around 408,000 Filipinos and Australians of Filipino descent call Australia their home, making them the fifth-largest migrant community in the country.


PH Navy: Maritime Zones Act to give AFP 'better defense approach'

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 28, 2024): PH Navy: Maritime Zones Act to give AFP 'better defense approach' (By Priam Nepomuceno)

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad (PNA file photo by Priam F. Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The proposed Philippine Maritime Zones Act will allow the military to have a "better approach" to protect the country's maritime territories.

"This will afford the PN (Philippine Navy) and the Armed Forces (of the Philippines) (AFP) a better approach in governing our maritime zone, the Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept mentioned by the Secretary of Defense (Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.) would allow the Navy and the AFP, or rather would mean that the Navy and the AFP would have more forces that would be able to protect and to preserve our maritime entitlements," PN spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Roy Vincent Trininad said in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

Once enacted into law, Trinidad said the measure would allow the Philippines and its military a "clearer perspective of the maritime domain."

"Thus, our governance and preserving the maritime entitlements will be much better," Trinidad pointed out.

Teodoro earlier said this concept would also allow the Philippines to project its military power into areas, including the country's exclusive economic zone, that must be protected and preserved, under the Constitution.

"So other than a forward-looking concept, we are evolving into a defense concept which projects our power into our areas where we must by Constitutional fiat and duty, protect and preserve our resources," he said.

Senate Bill No. 2492, which was unanimously passed by the Senate on Monday, aims to serve as a cornerstone of the country's maritime policy, protect sovereignty, promote sustainable development, and secure future prosperity.

The bill, principally authored and sponsored by Senator Francis Tolentino, aims to declare the rights and entitlements of the Philippines over its maritime zones, including the underwater features for the enjoyment and cultivation by Filipinos in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The clear delineation of the maritime boundaries of the Philippines would help relevant government institutions in harnessing ocean resources and maritime spaces that are crucial in developing the country's blue economy potential, according to Tolentino.


PNP denies massacre claims, maintains 5 NPAs killed in encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27, 2024): PNP denies massacre claims, maintains 5 NPAs killed in encounter (By John Rey Saavedra)

CEBU CITY – The Philippine National Police in Bohol on Monday denied claims made by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that the five members of the New People's Army (NPA) who died in an encounter in Bilar town were victims of a massacre.

Lt. Col. Norman Nuez, spokesperson of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, said the NPA rebels fired at the members of the local police when they served the arrest warrant against the leader of the Bohol Party Committee remnants, Domingo Jaspe Compoc.

Because of that, one of their operatives died, Nuez pointed out.

"One of our policemen who served the warrant of arrest against Compoc died when the rebels fired upon them, " Nuez said.

The gunbattle lasted for two hours and 45 minutes, he said, and as a result, Compoc, who had a PHP2 million bounty on his head, was killed along with four other fighters.

The other fighters were identified as Parlito Segovia alias Aldrin, Marlon Omosura alias Darwin, a certain Juaning, and a 2022 Philippine Bar passer, Hannah Joy Cesista.

According to him, the policemen and soldiers who jointly conducted the operations strictly followed the rules of engagement during the operation.

Meanwhile, the Visayas Command confirmed that Eutropio Alegre Cesista claimed Sunday the body of his daughter in a funeral parlor in Tagbilaran City and was brought to their hometown in Catubig, Northern Samar.


High-powered firearms seized in Camsur clash with NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27, 2024): High-powered firearms seized in Camsur clash with NPA (By Connie Calipay)

RECOVERED. The high-powered firearms and ammunition recovered after an encounter between government soldiers and communist rebels in Barangay Lubgan, Bula town in Camarines Sur on Monday (Feb. 26, 2024). More troops were sent to secure the area. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division)

LEGAZPI CITY – Two high-powered firearms of the New People's Army (NPA) were recovered after an encounter on Monday with government troops in Camarines Sur province.

In a report on Tuesday, Maj. Frank Roldan, 9th Infantry Division (9ID) spokesperson, said the encounter happened in Barangay Lubgan, Bula town.

"The troops acted on civilian information that armed men were monitored in the area. The 81st Infantry Battalion conducted an operation and encountered at least 10 rebels," Roldan said.

The gun battle resulted in the recovery of some high-caliber firearms, including two M16 rifles, four magazines and a bandolier.

Roldan said no government troops were injured or harmed during the 10-minute firefight

"Troops are still scouring the encounter site, and additional troops were also sent to conduct security in the area," he said.


400 villages benefit from KALAHI-CIDSS in 2023: DSWD-11

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27, 2024): 400 villages benefit from KALAHI-CIDSS in 2023: DSWD-11 (By Che Palicte)

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Davao Region (DSWD-11), through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), has poured PHP496 million worth of assistance in the region last year.

In a statement Tuesday, the agency said the money funded the completion of 446 barangay subprojects, comprising 83 payouts for Kapangyarihan at Kaunlaran sa Barangay - Cash-for-Work (KKB-CFW); 252 projects for the National Community-Driven Development Program - Additional Financing (NCDDP-AF); and 111 subprojects for the Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project.

“This ambitious target marks a historic high for the number of subprojects and funds allocated since the program's inception in 2002,” DSWD-11 added.

The agency also downloaded 151 requests for fund release (RFRs), awarded 592 packages to the lowest and most responsive contractors, and an impressive 70 percent completion of subprojects under AF and KKB in November last year.

The package also successfully implemented the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program, serving 255 beneficiaries with various assistance packages totaling PHP44.4 million.

Meanwhile, KALAHI-CIDSS recently introduced the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan's Indigenous People Community-Driven Development to 10 barangays in Sta: Cruz town, Davao del Sur, with a PHP12 million budget allocation.

Simultaneously, the cash-for-work program for college graduates, with PHP3.2 million, also surpassed its 500-beneficiary target, reaching 850 participants, primarily college students.

“The program's success underscores the transformative impact of empowering communities, reflecting the core values of the DSWD in fostering inclusive and sustainable development across the region,” the agency added.


Female NPA leader with multiple cases killed in Zambo clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27, 2024): Female NPA leader with multiple cases killed in Zambo clash (By Priam Nepomuceno and Leah Agonoy)

FALLEN REBEL. The Philippine Army's 1st Infantry Division releases a photo of slain New People’s Army officer Aprecia Rosete on Tuesday (Feb. 27, 2024). For years, Rosete was pursued by government forces for extortion and murder cases. (Photo courtesy of 1ID)

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur – A high-ranking female communist leader wanted for several crimes was killed in an encounter with the Philippine Army in Zamboanga del Sur on Tuesday.

Aprecia Rosete (alias “Bambam”)
, a New People’s Army (NPA) regional commander, died in a combat operation by the Army's 102nd Infantry Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division in Barangay Malagad, Dumingag town.

Rosete, who hails from the Davao Region and served the
NPA Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee, had 30 warrants of arrest for murder, extortion, and destruction of infrastructure in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Lt. Col. Terrence Ylanan, the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion commander and concurrent head of Task Unit Terminator, assured assistance for the burial of Rosete and in locating her family in Agusan del Sur.

“Our troops have displayed exceptional courage and professionalism in this operation. This successful neutralization underscores our unwavering commitment to safeguarding the safety and security of our communities,” he said in a statement.


Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., meanwhile, commended the “remarkable efforts” of the 102nd Infantry Brigade and the 1st Infantry Division, led by Maj. Gen. Gabriel Viray, for their successful operation that led to Rosete’s neutralization.

“The AFP stands firm in our resolve to confront threat groups as we remain steadfast in our duty to safeguard peace and security throughout the country. We urge their remaining members to surrender or suffer the same fate as your dead comrades,” Brawner said in a statement Tuesday night.

Government troops, meanwhile, recovered an AK-47 assault rifle, magazines with serviceable ammunition, a .45 pistol and personal belongings from the encounter site in Barangay Malagalad, Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur.

Aid for orphaned families

Meanwhile, Senator Robin Padilla's office delivered financial assistance to the families of the six fallen soldiers from an encounter against the Dawlah Islamiya-Maute Group in Munai, Lanao del Norte on Feb. 18.

Padilla's team handed the assistance on Sunday to the families of Corporals Rey Anthony Salvador and Rodel Mobida.

Salvador is from Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay but was transferred by his unit to Sta Barbara, Zamboanga City; while Mobida is from San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur.

The families of PFC Arnel Tornito of Curvada Tukuran town and Priv. Michel John Lumingkit of Midsalip, both in Zamboanga del Sur; PFC Redland Tapinit of Lala, Lanao del Norte; and Priv. James Porras of Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur will likewise receive aid from the senator's office.