Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On ruling class rivalries under Duterte and prospects of a patriotic tactical alliance

Propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Sep 24): On ruling class rivalries under Duterte and prospects of a patriotic tactical alliance

Communist Party of the Philippines

Reds seek to halt US military exercises

From the Philippine Star (Sep 27): Reds seek to halt US military exercises

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is urging the Duterte administration to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to stop the US military exercises set next week in Luzon.

At the same time, the CPP reiterated its call for the abrogation of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and other treaties such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

"These US military exercises are most untimely as the Duterte regime is trying to promote lay down its foundations for an independent foreign policy," the CPP said.

"The amphibious maneuver exercises to be conducted by the US military will simulate scenarios of a sea-to-land invasion," the CPP said, describing the planned Philippine Amphibious Landex Exercises to be conducted on October 4 to 12.

Four US naval ships—the USS Frank Cable, USNS Washington Chambers, USNS Millinocket and USNS Bowditch—are docked at Subic Bay since Monday. The USS BHR, USS Green Bay and USS Germantown will also join, where at least 1,400 US servicemen are expected to participate in the exercises.

Meanwhile, two C-130 Hercules aircraft with 100 Airmen from the 374th Air Wing (Japan) and 36th Contingency Response Group (Guam) are in Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-lapu City.

According to the CPP, the war exercises undermine the efforts of the Duterte administration to work out a peaceful settlement over the overlapping claims at the South China Sea.

"These counteract the desire of the people to demilitarize the international trade route and guarantee equal access to everyone," the group said.

The 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, according to CPP, would not benefit the Philippines since there are no assurances that the US will come to the aid of the country in times of war.

They added that the Philippines could even get dragged into US wars.

"There never was and there will never be mutual defense between the Filipino people and US imperialism because there are no common interests shared between the oppressed and their oppressors," the CPP said.


Police arrest bombing suspect in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Police arrest bombing suspect in North Cotabato

Police authorities in Kabacan, North Cotabato announced the arrest of the primary suspect in the Nov. 2014 bombing here that left a college student dead and 17 others injured.

Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Kabacan town police chief, identified the suspect as Gardo Usop, 49, also known as Gardo Sampulna, a resident of Sitio Lumayong, Barangay Kayaga, Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Cordero said Usop was arrested with the help of Barangay Kayaga chairperson Bong Bacana. He did not resist arrest.

Usop was facing murder and multiple frustrated murder charges before the sala of Judge Alandrex Betoyoa of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 16 who issued an arrest warrant against Usop on April 20 last year.

Speaking to reporters in North Cotabato District Jail where he was committed, Usop vehemently denied the charges.

A powerful improvised bomb was set off at the stairs of highway overpass in Poblacion Kabacan on Nov. 16, 2014 that killed Monique Mantawil, 19, Development Communication Course student of University of Southern Mindanao (USM).

Police said the suspect had been identified based on witnesses' accounts. Two of his alleged companions remained at large.


PAF to host 14th AACC in 2017

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): PAF to host 14th AACC in 2017

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be hosting the 14th ASEAN Air Chiefs Conference (AACC) next year.

With this development, Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Edgar R. Fallorina will have much to do to make the event a success, PAF spokesperson Col. Araus Robert Musico said Tuesday.

PAF's turn to host the AACC was announced by Indonesian Air Force (IDAF) commander Air Marshal Agus Supriatna during the closing ceremonies of the 13th AACC in Yogyakarta last September 8.

The IDAF head also turned over the AACC chairmanship to Fallorina.

Musico said it will be the PAF's second time to host the AACC with the first time in 2007.
The bloc’s chairmanship rotates annually among the 10 member states.

Fallorina expressed his pleasure as he anticipates hosting the 14th AACC in 2017.

He invited all ASEAN Air Chiefs and their delegation to attend the conference, which will be held sometime in April 2017.

During the AACC, the PAF also plans to hold the Air Force Symposium (AFS), an annual pre-anniversary activity that showcases the importance of air power and its contribution to national security and development.

The AFS routinely serves as venue for local and foreign defense contractors and suppliers to showcase their products and services.

The AACC is a good opportunity for enhanced cooperation, as well as, strengthens the bonds of friendship among their Air Forces.
In fact, the outputs of the conferences held previously have been the bases for cooperation in instituting many policies and agreements among the Air Force of ASEAN member countries, especially, in dealing with issues on counterinsurgency, maintaining peace and security in the region and curbing non-traditional security threats.

This year, the Air Chiefs conference aimed to further deepen the existing ASEAN Air Force diplomacy through more people to people engagements that lead towards “everlasting friendship.”


DND finalizing contract for Navy's 2 missile-firing frigates

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): DND finalizing contract for Navy's 2 missile-firing frigates

The contract for the Philippine Navy's two missile-armed frigates is now being finalized, Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said Monday.

Once the contract is finalized, it will be signed by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the duly authorized representative of the winning proponent, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), he added.

"Notice of Award (NOA) was formally served to HHI last Aug. 4. Once the formal contract is signed, it will be followed by a Notice to Proceed, which will be formally served to the proponent," Andolong said.

"NOA was given to HHI as GRSE (Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd) was post-disqualified after it was determined that their Net Financial Capacity was insufficient and therefore not in compliance with Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Policy Board)," he added.

GRSE along with HHI was one of the six proponents in the DND's frigate program.

In the NOA, HHI offered PHP15,744,571,884 for the two frigates.

The DND has allocated the sum of PHP18 billion for the acquisition of two missile-capable frigates, with PHP16 billion going to the construction of the ships and PHP2 billion for its munitions.

The ships will be armed with a variety of sensors and weapons capable of detecting and neutralizing air, surface, and submarine threats.

It will be also capable of electronic warfare.

Aside from this, the frigates, according to their technical specifications, must be capable of performing extended maritime patrol with an embarked naval helicopter and maritime surveillance through air-and-surface-search radar, sound navigation and ranging (sonar) for sub-surface search.

It will be armed and fitted a variety of air-to-air, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons.


Decision to acquire Russian weaponry dependent on AFP requirements

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Decision to acquire Russian weaponry dependent on AFP requirements

The decision to acquire weaponry from Russia weaponry will depend on whether the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has a specific need for the weapons and whether it is capable of using its existing logistics system to maintain the said arms.

This was stressed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo in press briefing Tuesday.

Prior to any moves to acquire Russian weapons, a technical-working group (TWG) must be first deployed to determine whether these armaments are suitable for the AFP's requirements, he added.

Deployment of TWG is standard procedure as the AFP is the end-user of these armaments, Arevalo stressed.

Earlier, Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said the decision to look into Russia and China as possible source of equipment for the AFP is mandated under the law.

Specifically, he was referring to Republic Act 9184 also known as Government Procurement Reform Act.

"(Looking for new countries to acquire new military equipment) is provided for in Republic Act 9184. The law dictates that we must not limit possible sources of our materiel to only a few countries as this will rob us of the opportunity to acquire what could be the best equipment," Andolong added.

In line with this, technical working groups of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have been continuously been conducting market research on new hardware and technologies from many countries including Russia and China, he added.

"For the record, we also looked at the offerings from Sweden, Germany and France," he added.

This is in wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement that Russia and China have agreed to provide armaments and other weaponry to the AFP for its counter-insurgency campaign.

"Of course, there are other considerations such as cost, inter-operability with our existing equipment and personnel capacity," Andolong pointed out.

The Philippines has traditionally sourced its military equipment from the US, Israel, South Korea, and Japan, to name a few.


DFA: PHL is not veering away from traditional friendship with US

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): DFA: PHL is not veering away from traditional friendship with US

The Philippines is not turning away from its traditional friendship with the United States despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement that he is about to cross the Rubicon with the US, a top foreign affairs official said on Tuesday.

”I don’t think, personally, that he meant with the context of veering away from our commitments with US particularly with our agreements and treaties that we had with the US,” Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay, in a press briefing in Malacanang, said.

Last Monday, President Duterte said he is about to cross the Rubicon between him and the US while seeking open alliances with China and Russia for the next six years.

”Maybe again, he was saying in a matter to dramatize what he feels, are the areas that would need further strengthening in so far as the relationship with the US is concern,” Yasay explained.

Recently, the US has expressed deep concerns about reports of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations amid the Duterte administration’s intensified war against illegal drugs.

”I would like to emphasize reading and listening to what the President has been saying in this regard is simply, he wants to undertake foreign policy where we would not overlook the part of the international community, that the constitution mandates, that we should carry on amity among all nations, including China, in this regard that it is our neighbor,” Yasay said.

Yasay said the relationship between the Philippines and China had cooled off under the previous administration due to the Philippines’ arbitration case it filed and won against China’s nine-dash line claim of the South China Sea.

”This is something that we would like to further strengthen. We have dispute with China in so far with South China Sea is concern but this is not going to prevent us from pursuing other aspects of our relationship,” Yasay said.

”I understand it is within the context of the fact that the President is just simply emphasizing that in his administration, he wants to make sure the relationship mandated by the Constitution in so far as carrying out the independent foreign policy and at the same pursuing amity with other nations are complied with,” he explained.

The DFA official clarified that it was not him who brought out the West Philippine Sea issue.
”I did not go there to discuss South China Sea. It was them that asked clarification on how we go forward in so far as the South China Sea issue concern,” Yasay said.

Yasay told the US officials “it is not our national interest to pursue multilateral negotiations with other countries which are not involved in as far as the dispute with China is concern.”

”It will complicate issue. This dispute must be settled amicably in the context of arbitral tribunal decision that is, it should involve only Philippines and China in so far as the bilateral relationship is concern,” he added.

Yasay has just arrived from US where he attended the United Nation General Assembly in New York and met with some US officials, including the national security adviser of President Barack Obama, in Washington DC.

”I gave the explanation and talked about their concerns with respect to certain issues raised about the Philippines particularly violations on human rights,” Yasay said.

”I emphasized the good chair (of foreign relations committee) that they have to trust the institutions that we have in the Philippines. As a result of this discussion, we have agreed that we will move forward to strengthen this relationship in the future,” he added. 


AFP looking into ammunition, weapons pilferage report

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): AFP looking into ammunition, weapons pilferage report

 While admitting that some misfits might be behind the syndicate behind the pilferage of arms and weapons in military stores, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced it is now investigating the matter and will crack down hard on the perpetrators.

"There are possibility that there are some misfits. We have reports claiming that some soldiers are involved in that illegal activity," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

He made this statement after the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested over the weekend gunrunner Unding Kenneth Isa, allegedly one of the weapons suppliers of the Abu Sayyaf, and warlords operating at the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Seized from the suspect and his three companions were five M-4 carbines with M-203 grenade launchers, M-14 automatic rifles, an AR-15 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol with two magazines and thousands of assorted ammunition rounds.

PNP Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa earlier said that it is possible that these weapons and ammunitions could have come from the government stocks as some of the boxes were stamped with "Government Arsenal" markings.

Arevalo said they are now investigating this matter as Government Arsenal director Jonathan Martir disclosed it is very likely these arms and weapons could have come from the AFP.

Once they identify the culpits, appropriate charges will be filed against the suspects and stiff sanctions meted once they are convicted by a military court.

"We are coordinating with our counterpart in the PNP to ferret out the truth and other information (relevant to the case) as this is a major offense," he added.

Arevalo also cited the case of Technical Sgt. Santiago Caasi and Sgt. Jeffrey Ordoño who were both arrested for illegally selling arms and ammunition last week.

Caasi is member of the Mechanized Infantry Division's 1st Cavalry Squadron based in Labangan, Zamboanga Del Sur while Ordoño is assigned to the Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division.

Both men are now undergoing General Court Martial proceedings after being charged with Articles of War 85 also known as “waste and unlawful disposition of military property”.

If convicted, both troopers will be discharged dishonorably, stripped of all benefits, and jailed at a military detention facility.


Chinese harassment of Filipino fishermen off Scarborough Shoal contrary to sea row ruling

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Chinese harassment of Filipino fishermen off Scarborough Shoal contrary to sea row ruling

Continued Chinese Coast Guard harassment of Filipino fishermen lawfully going about their business off Scarborough Shoal (Bajo De Masinloc) is contrary to the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling declaring the area as a traditional fishing ground and open to all.

"Their action runs counter to the ruling of the PCA and denies our fisher folk access to what has always been their traditional fishing ground. We advise our countrymen to always keep their personal safety in mind when venturing into the area. As of late, our government has instructed our Philippine Coast Guard to maintain a constant presence in Bajo De Masinloc. The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) meanwhile, will continue to monitor all activities in the area," Department of National Defense (DND) public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said.

He issued this statement in wake of the National Security Council- Task Force West Philippine Sea report claiming that Chinese Coast Guard vessels harrassed Filipino fisherfolks fishing in the area last September 6.

"The issue is now in the hands of our diplomats especially in light of the PCA's ruling. The DND and AFP will carry out any orders handed to us by the Commander-in-Chief, however, the President has expressed on many occasions that military action is currently not an option," Andolong said when asked on whether there is a need for the AFP or Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to increase its role in securing Filipino fishermen.

Andolong also stopped short of advising Filipino fishermen from venturing off Scarborough Shoal as it is their right.

"It is their right to go to Bajo De Masinloc because it is supposed to be open (as it is considered a traditional fishing ground and open to all), however we would advise them to always put their personal safety first and foremost because we not know how the other party will react to their presence, however the PCG is constantly on patrol in the area," he added.

Gov't. troops kill 2 ASG men involved in high seas kidnapping

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 27): Gov't. troops kill 2 ASG men involved in high seas kidnapping

Government forces have killed in a raid two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands involved in the high seas’ kidnapping of foreign sailors, a military official announced Tuesday.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson, identified the slain two ASG brigands as Nixon Muktadil and his brother, Brown. They are commonly known as the Muktadil brothers.

Tan said the Muktadil brothers were killed when troops raided their lair around 5 a.m. Tuesday in Tambulan Island, Barangay Daungdung, Pata, Sulu.

Tan said the Muktadil brothers were involved in the series of kidnappings of 26 Indonesians and Malaysians sailors in the high seas in the boundaries of this country and that of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Tan said those kidnapped by the Muktadil brothers were crewmen of five tugboats who were seized in different occasions within a period of six months.

He said theses boats traverse within the tri-boundary of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to deliver coal and other commercial items.

He said the death of the Muktadil brothers is a major blow to the group of ASG sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya since they serve as the guides and navigators in the conduct of kidnapping at the high seas.

He said the remains of the Muktadil brothers were transported to Sulu Provincial Police Office for proper disposition.

Government forces continue the conduct of the focus military operations aimed to rescue the remaining hostages from the hands of the ASG brigands in Sulu.

The ASG brigands are still holding 15 hostages consisting of five Indonesians, five Malaysians, four Filipinos, and one Dutch bird watcher.