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gameface_one
05-19-2012, 03:28 PM
AFP chief to receive 2nd US patrol ship

by Rodney Jaleco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
Posted at 05/19/2012 8:39 AM | Updated as of 05/19/2012 12:32 PM


WASHINGTON D.C. - Philippine Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa will formally accept delivery of the US Coast Guard high-endurance cutter USCGC Dallas in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday (May 22).

Dellosa will stay overnight here on Monday before flying to Charleston the next day. He will be met there by Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano, Philippine Fleet commander, who is arriving there a day ahead.

The “Dallas” will be re-christened the BRP Ramon Alcaraz in honor of the Filipino naval officer who skippered the torpedo boat “Abra” that was among the first to engage Japanese forces at the opening days of World War II, shooting down 3 enemy planes in the sky above Manila Bay. He was later captured but survived the war, passing away in 2009 in Santa Ana, California.

She is the 2nd Hamilton-class all-weather patrol ship turned over to the Philippine Navy under a “hot transfer” arrangement with the US. The first ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar has been assigned to the Spratly Islands and recently figured in the stand-off with Chinese vessels in Scarborough Shoal.

The “Dallas” was launched in 1968 and initially served as an “ocean station”. She received her baptism of fire in Vietnam, providing fire support and interdiction of Vietcong smuggling boats.

The “Dallas” is equipped with an Oto Melara 76mm gun and two 25mm “Bushmaster” machineguns. However, officials tell ABS-CBN News that like the “Hamilton” the US is stripping down most of the modern gear aboard, especially the sophisticated radars and sensors, despite an appeal from top Philippine officials to keep the advanced equipment.

The BRP Alcaraz is not going home soon. It is scheduled to be refitted at the expense of the Philippine Navy. It is expected to arrive in the Philippines in the 3rd quarter of the year.

A Philippine Navy crew has been in the country for several weeks training aboard other Hamilton-class ships. This will be the same group that will take the BRP Alcaraz back to the Philippines.

This comes as the Pentagon today briefed the US Congress about China’s military modernization, especially growing indications that it was trying to extend its influence farther abroad.

Although China says it is spending $106 billion this year to upgrade its military – which is lower than US military spending – the report suggested they could be spending more than what they’re saying in public.

Philippine officials say they are setting aside $1.2 billion to buy new combat aircraft outside the US. The Philippines has expressed a desire to purchase a squadron of American-built F-16 Falcons but there have been questions about cost and the readiness of the Philippine Air Force for a quantum leap towards state-of-the-art planes.

gameface_one
06-24-2012, 08:45 PM
US holds back Philippine military aid

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star
Posted at 06/23/2012 1:39 AM | Updated as of 06/23/2012 11:22 PM


Philippines told to stamp out extrajudicial killings

MANILA, Philippines - The United States’ assistance to the Philippine military that the US Congress continues to withhold until the government meets certain conditions related to solving and prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings already amounts to $13 million for the past five years.

The US embassy in Manila yesterday said that the US Congress is withholding $3 million in Foreign Military Financing from the Philippine government in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.

“To obtain these funds, the Philippine government must demonstrate it is continuing to take effective steps to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings; strengthening government institutions working to eliminate extrajudicial killings; investigating, prosecuting, and punishing military personnel and others who have been credibly alleged to have violated internationally recognized human rights; and ensuring the Armed Forces of the Philippines is not engaging in acts of violence or intimidation against members of legal organizations who advocate for human rights,” the embassy said in a statement to The STAR.

Withholding by the US Congress began in 2008, and was carried out as follows: FY 2008 - $2 million, FY 2009 - $2 million, FY 2010 - $3 million, FY 2011 - $3 million and FY 2012 - $3 million.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine government has made significant strides in terms of protection and promotion of human rights.

“And yet the amount remains conditioned to date,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

In some countries where there are widespread concerns over human rights, Hernandez pointed out that the US government executed a national security waiver to release the conditioned funds but this is not applied to assistance for the Philippines.

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said during the first Kapihan sa Embahada on Thursday that there is still no indication that the US Congress would remove a congressional hold on a portion of its aid to the Philippine military until significant progress has been made in prosecuting those responsible in extrajudicial killings.

Washington also urged the Philippines during the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month to take additional measures to ensure that the military exercises full control over Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and the police over Civilian Volunteer Organizations, holding these units accountable for the Philippines’ obligations under international human rights law.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario denied allegations by the US embassy that the Philippines has not satisfied the criteria set by the US Senate Committee on Appropriations for the lifting of the withholding element on a portion of assistance to the Philippine military.

In his speech on May 2 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Del Rosario said the Philippines has “effectively taken such steps” and there has been a significant decline in extrajudicial killings and a strong policy environment in place that institutionalizes respect for and sensitivity to human rights.

He stressed that warrants of arrest have been issued against high profile suspects such as retired Army Gen. Jovito Palparan and former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and at least 198 suspects have been charged in the Maguindanao massacre.

A portion of the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) allocation for the Philippines has been conditioned since 2008 on the issuance of a report from the State Department on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

The Philippines appealed in January to remove the “withholding element” on a portion of its assistance to the Philippine military by the US Congress, saying the perception of worse human rights situation in the country is not factual.

Del Rosario met last Jan. 14 with members of the US House Appropriations Committee who were in Manila for a visit and discussed bilateral issues including defense, security development assistance and good governance.

Second Navy ship

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy said that the second warship to be acquired from the US would cost more than the BRP Gregorio del Pilar since the government had to buy weapons and accessories that were stripped from the vessel.

The Navy purchased weapons and communication systems for the second warship after the US had turned down a request by the Philippines to include these features in the vessel.

The government spent P400 million to acquire Gregorio del Pilar, the first warship provided by the US to the Philippines last year.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama could not tell how much had been spent for the accessories of the second warship, which will be renamed BRP Ramon Alcaraz, but admitted that the transfer costs, training and other expenses would definitely exceed P400 million.

A second warship was turned over by the US Coast Guard to Philippine officials last May.

The government has allotted P8.8-billion worth of Malampaya funds for the military’s capability upgrade effort.

More than P5 billion of these funds have been released while the rest will be handed down this year.

About 90 Navy officers and personnel are now in Charleston, South Carolina to undergo training on how to maneuver the ship.

He said the Navy would also tap the Malampaya funds to acquire three helicopters to be used to conduct aerial surveillance and to support the warships when conducting security patrol.

He said the acquisition of Ramon Alcaraz would improve the Navy’s capabilities while enhancing its maritime domain awareness.

The Ramon Alcaraz was named after a torpedo boat commanding officer during World War II. It is a high-endurance cutter and has features similar to that of Gregorio del Pilar and was largely used by the US Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness. The ship can accommodate up to 180 officers and sailors. – Alexis Romero

Sam Miguel
10-31-2012, 08:58 AM
Philippine Air Force to buy 6 fighter jets

By Kate Evangelista

INQUIRER.net

3:28 pm | Friday, July 1st, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The defense department is eyeing to purchase six fighter planes for the Philippine Air Force, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Friday.
In a press conference held during the 64th anniversary of the PAF, Gazmin said the procurement is part of the Department of National Defense’s medium term capability upgrade plan.
The fighter jets have the capability to conduct maritime patrol, said Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol.

The announcement came as the Philippines and China exchange diplomati protests and verbal jabs over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Philippines accuses Chinese forces of at least nine incursions in the Manila-claimed areas in the Spratly Islands since February.
Okol said a baseline fighter jet costs between $23 to $40 million.

Seven units of F-5 were the last fighter jets the Air Force had and they were decommissioned in 2005 after being in service for 40 years.

Sam Miguel
10-31-2012, 09:20 AM
Philippines to get 5 French patrol boats

Agence France-Presse

5:30 pm | Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will buy five patrol boats from France for about 90 million euros ($116 million), partly to guard disputed areas in the South China Sea, the coastguard said Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, the chief of the poorly equipped coastguard, said one 82-meter (271-foot) ship and four 24-meter (79-foot) patrol craft would be delivered by 2014.

Tuason cited the need for such ships to patrol the rough waters of the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

“When we patrol the West Philippine Sea, we encounter huge waves, turbulent waters so it will be better if we will use bigger ships,” Tuason said in a statement.

Coastguard spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo said the larger ship was a “heavy endurance vessel that can be deployed even in bad weather.”

This is the first such ship to be acquired by the coastguard, he added.

The Philippines and China began a stand-off in April over the Scarborough Shoal, a group of islets in the South China Sea.

China claims the shoal as well as nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Balilo denied that the new French ships were being acquired due to the territorial dispute and said the coastguard, which currently has only nine operating ships, needed new vessels to perform their duties.

He said the new vessels would be deployed throughout the archipelago and not concentrate just on the disputed areas.

Sam Miguel
11-23-2012, 11:29 AM
DND eyes 100 new APCs from Italy

By Alexis Romero

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 23, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) is planning to acquire 100 armored personnel carriers (APC)s and dozens of artillery equipment from Italy in support of the military’s capability upgrade program.

Documents obtained by The STAR showed that the Italian government might donate 100 units of operational M113 APCs and 25 units of operational FH70 155 mm howitzers.

The possible donations are in connection with the procurement of other equipment that may become part of what the DND called the “Italian package.”

The DND is currently negotiating with Italy for the procurement of Maestrale-class ships, medium-lift fixed wing aircraft (C27J-Spartan), special mission aircraft and three naval helicopters.

If the procurement pushes through, the 100 APCs and 25 long-range cannons may be included in the package.

“In connection with the acquisition of the aforementioned equipment (ships, aircraft, helicopters) the Italian government will donate 100 units operational M113 armored personnel carriers and 25 units operational FH70 155 mm howitzers,” the DND document read.

The APCs and artilleries are expected to enhance the military’s security operations.

The DND said the Italian defense ministry has designated a liaison officer to the Philippines to handle the acquisitions and represent the Italian government in the discussions with suppliers.

The department said it is also negotiating with the supplier regarding the specifications of the equipment.

“The imprimatur to contract with them is directly from the Italian government,” it said.

The Philippines is resorting to government-to-government transactions to fast-track the acquisition of key defense equipment.

Earlier, DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR the negotiation for the acquisition of the two Maestrale-class warships from Italy may be completed by yearend.

Last August, the DND announced plans to acquire the Maestrale-class ships from Italy to boost the country’s maritime security capability.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had said the two missile-firing warships would be acquired from the Italian Navy and cost about P11.7 billion.

The ships have anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities. They also have missile systems and modern radars.

Joescoundrel
11-26-2012, 02:23 PM
‘Right is might’

BABE’S EYE VIEW

By Babe Romualdez

(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 25, 2012 - 12:00am

Last Friday, I was invited to speak before faculty members and students of the International Studies Department of the De La Salle University and share my thoughts regarding foreign policy issues involving the Philippines. It’s been such a long time since I have been to the La Salle campus and I could not believe the changes, with so many buildings now dotting the place — perhaps indicative of the progress in an institution that has been in existence for 100 years.

We were originally invited by Professor Rene de Castro to participate in a discussion of China’s foreign policy in a post Hu Jintao era, along with former ABC News Beijing Bureau Chief Chito Sta. Romana with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing as guest speaker. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I was unable to make it. In any case, the symposium last Friday was arranged by associate professor Francis Domingo and Dr. Charmaine Misalucha, vice chair of the department.

We are told the symposium is part of La Salle’s efforts to broaden the awareness of students on global issues, and we get a good sense that the young people who attended the activity were very keen in knowing more about the Aquino administration’s position regarding the territorial dispute with China. Fortunately, in a trade delegation dinner the previous night, we were seated in the same table with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. He gave us a brief on our current stand on the whole issue. The quotable quote from the Secretary, as he put it, is that “On the South China Sea challenges, notwithstanding our limitations, the Philippines is taking the strongest position that ‘right is might’.”

This perspective was, perhaps, the impetus that drove President Aquino to speak up during the ASEAN meeting in Cambodia when he spontaneously stood up disputing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s statement that the ASEAN member countries have come to a consensus and not to “internationalize” the discussion regarding the territorial disputes involving China. As a result of President Aquino’s objection, other nations who also have claims on the disputed territories are now speaking out. The fact of the matter is — the only option we have is to bring international attention to the territorial dispute — making sure it becomes a global concern.

It’s clear that our foreign policy is very much indicative of the current administration’s resolve to “do what is right.” In retrospect, doing the right thing is indeed a solid principle that should govern the conduct not only of governments and their leaders, but even ordinary individuals. More often than not, people subscribe to the idea that “might is right” — where money, power, influence, military capability and even sheer physical strength alone automatically gives one moral suasion, supremacy or ascendancy over others.

Criticism, of course, is par for the course when you are the leader of a country like the Philippines where everyone wants to have his say. But one cannot also deny that over the past two years, this administration has been trying its level best to do what is right and correct some of the wrongs that have happened in the past. A core focus of this Aquino government is the dispensation of justice and reforming the Judiciary, obviously borne out of the fact that P-Noy fully knows what it was like to be a victim of injustice.

Perhaps that is the reason why P-Noy has been coming up with “out-of-the-box” appointments, like the selection of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice and just recently, with former UP Law dean Marvic Leonen who became the newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Leonen will serve for 21 years, longer than Sereno’s term. Who knows — he may even become the next Chief Justice since he will be one of the most senior appointees when Sereno retires in 2030.

As far as the perception of the international community is concerned, the Philippines has made a lot of inroads in the economy. Investment prospects are on the upswing, and even the IMF said we are the only country with an upgraded growth forecast this year. In fairness, however, we have to give credit to GMA’s administration since it was during her term in 2006 when we paid off all IMF outstanding loans.

Like his mother, P-Noy relies on Divine guidance when faced with tough decisions, seeking spiritual advice from Fr. Catalino Arevalo and Carmelite Sister Agnes Guillen. Clearly, the President’s Christian faith is what gives him the guiding light to pursue the right path.

At the end of the day, it’s not really how much money you have, how powerful you are or how influential you have become — but whether you kept the righteous path which, as the Bible said, keeps shining brighter and leads to eternal life. Many leaders who persisted in staying on the wrong side of history learned this painful lesson the hard way — when it was already too late to make a turnaround, staying on the wrong path which ultimately led to their destruction.

* * *

Contrary to previous reports, Ayala-led Bank of Philippine Islands has not reached a final agreement with the Lucio Tan group for the majority acquisition of Philippine National Bank. Apparently, there are still several details and conditions that are not acceptable to “Kapitan” before he gives his nod on the proposed merger deal. Everybody is well aware that the Tan family has many internal issues to resolve before any concrete agreement takes place. Currently, there seems to be some squabble on who among the family members would be entitled to Board representations or who would sit in committees should the merger with BPI take place.

* * *

Sam Miguel
11-27-2012, 10:42 AM
21 Huey choppers to boost PAF’s operations

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

2:58 pm | Monday, November 26th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The 21 refurbished Huey helicopters seen to be added to the Philippine Air Force’s list of assets, will not only boost the aviation wing’s capability and military operations but will also be of use to the upcoming 2013 elections, the Department of National Defense said Monday.

Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo said the Air Force requested additional helicopters as they are anticipating an increase in air mobility requirements due to election-related flights in various parts of the country.

He also said that the project was already in the pipeline as early as 2011, when then PAF Commanding General, Lt Gen Oscar Rabena, requested President Benigno S. Aquino III for additional Hueys. The said helicopters are also urgently required during calamity and disaster operations.

According to a recent report of the Defense Acquisition System (DAS) assessment team, there are only 16 fully/partial mission-capable Hueys in the PAF inventory. Currently, the PAF is 51 units short of reaching its ideal number of operational combat utility helicopters.

“The acquisition of CUHs aims to address the capability shortfall on the number of utility helicopters in order for the PAF to efficiently perform their missions. Utility helicopters are deployed all over the Philippines and have proven to be the most effective platform for the internal security operations (ISO) and the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) campaign,” Manalo said.

“With the present national security condition, the acquisition of additional combat utility helicopters to augment the existing UH-1H ‘Huey’ fleet is imperative. The PAF’s primary helicopter is the Huey, which falls under the light lift category. Having been the workhorse of AFP tactical operations for many years, the Huey fleet has succumbed to natural attrition due to structural stress and aircraft accidents,” he added.

An Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) was issued in March 2012 for the acquisition of 21 refurbished UH-1H helicopters under negotiated procurement pursuant to Section 53.2 (Emergency Cases) of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184, s-2003.

The Defense Department submitted the request to the Government Policy and Procurement Board (GPPB) for authority to implement through negotiated procurement the said acquisition project last June 2012. However, last September, the DND received the GPPB’s decision to conduct public bidding for the UH-1H project instead of negotiated procurement.

The bid opening is set on December 4, 2012, with six potential bidders having already bought the bid documents, signifying their intention to participate in the bidding process. To avoid the danger of not being able to fully-support the helicopter lift requirements of the 2013 elections, the PAF has recommended that the delivery time for the Hueys be not later than February 28, 2013, Manalo said.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 10:32 AM
Second batch of Sokol choppers delivered to PAF

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

5:03 pm | Friday, November 30th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The second batch of Sokol combat utility helicopters, aimed at boosting the military’s operations were delivered to the Philippine Air Force.

The two additional Sokol choppers were in addition to the first four choppers delivered in February, a statement from the supplier PZL Swidnik in Poland said early this week.

The contract, as part of the modernization program, involves the delivery of eight choppers and ground support equipment, spare parts, support services and training for aircrew and maintainers. The remaining two will be delivered in early 2013.

“This delivery marks an important program milestone for both PZL-Świdnik and the Philippine Air Force. The outstanding capabilities of the Sokol helicopter and its ability to perform a wide range of roles will further enhance the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force” said Nicola Bianco, Managing Director, PZL-Świdnik S.A.

The Sokol choppers were transported from Jasionka Airport near Russia to Clark Air Base in Manila.

The choppers arrived in the country on Monday morning via an Antonov cargo plane, the PAF said.

It added that the Sokol choppers would be turned over to the 505th Search and Rescue Group, where other four delivered earlier.

The helicopters, which have enough space for two pilots, two crewmen, three medical attendants and six rescued survivors, will be used for search and rescue missions.

Sam Miguel
12-11-2012, 10:35 AM
2 more US warships in PH

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

8:40 pm | Friday, October 26th, 2012

Bath Iron Works shows a rendering of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s next-generation destroyer, which has been funded to be built at Bath Iron Works in Maine and at Northrop Grumman’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The super-stealthy warship that could underpin the U.S. navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic “railguns” right out of a sci-fi movie. AP

MANILA, Philippines—Two more US warships are in the western part of the Philippines for a five-day goodwill visit amid military drills by China in disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Lieutenant Colonel Neil Estrella, spokesman of the Western Command, said the two guided missile destroyers — USS John McCain and USS Mustin– have been docked in Puerto Princesa in Palawan since Monday for a regular port call.

The ships are part of the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group, the largest US aircraft carrier docked in Manila Bay since Wednesday along with two escort ships, the USS McCampbell and USS Cowpens, also for a goodwill visit.

It was not earlier declared by officials that USS John McCain and USS Mustin will be part of the USS George Washington’s entourage.

“Pagka ganyan di naman sila magkakadikit ng location but part of a group,” Estrella said.

All the US warships are part of the US Seventh Fleet based in Yokusuka, Japan.

The Marine officer did not say how many US warships are currently in the Philippine waters.

Amid the port visits of US ships, two Chinese vessels recently conducted military drills in the hotly-contested waters of the West Philippine Sea.

The exercise involved deployment of marine corps, helicopters, landing ships, infantry combat vehicles and speedboats.

Joescoundrel
12-19-2012, 09:22 AM
Navy exec says size of PH warships shouldn’t matter

Philippine Daily Inquirer

7:12 pm | Sunday, May 27th, 2012

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—The American vessels that the government bought and turned into warships may not have impressed a public awed by modern Chinese ships now guarding the contested Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

But Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, Navy flag officer in command, on Saturday said the vessels’ size and age should not really matter. He said the Navy is upgrading its technology, not in response to the standoff at Scarborough, but as part of a scheduled upgrade that was started several years ago.

Yet improving the Navy’s technology also requires enough time for its personnel to familiarize themselves with modern equipment, he said, after addressing the cadets comprising the Philippine Military Academy’s “Gabay-Laya” Class of 2016.

“Even if I had all the money in the world, I myself will not be getting all the top-of-the-line equipment [immediately] … the reason being there has to be some form of transition. You are used to riding a bicycle or a tricycle and suddenly you buy a Mercedes Benz,” Pama told the Inquirer.

In his speech, Pama said: “The constant challenge we face, as with the rest of the other branches of service, is the urgent need for our capacity-enhancement and capability-building in the face of regional and transnational threats.”

Amid scarcity of resources, he said the government had found ways of securing the cutters BRP Del Pilar PF-15 and BRP Alcaraz PF-16, which would be commissioned in December.

He said the government is also buying frigates and has improved the country’s coast watch systems.

“There has to be a sort of transition for our people to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills and that’s even more important than acquiring anything else,” he said.

When asked, Pama said public impressions were correct about the Navy’s outdated equipment.

He said the shoal standoff had drawn policymakers to the demands of beefing up the country’s fleet.

“Admittedly, the military did not receive proper attention for a while, which is understandable because the government has other priorities,” he said.

The new warships were former US Coast Guard vessels, which were outfitted and sold to the Philippines without their weapon systems.

Pama said these vessels “serve our purpose, the purpose being the size of the ship [enables the Navy] to bring it to patrol areas when before, navigating these seas had been difficult for the older vessels.”

“Just because [these vessels are] X number of years, it does not mean they are useless. They are not,” he said.

“The size of the ships conforms with our operational demands. It’s not that new but then again, it’s an easier step to transition into the necessary skills [for operating modern vessels],” he said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Joescoundrel
12-28-2012, 09:12 AM
DND signs P1.3-billion contract for naval helicopters

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:47 am | Friday, December 28th, 2012

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday said it had signed a P1.3-billion ($32-million) contract for the acquisition of three Italian-made helicopters for the Philippine Navy, a move that, according to the defense chief, shows a “louder and clearer” intent to modernize the military.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin announced the modernization move as China sent its first patrol vessel to disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where Chinese patrols would board, search and expel foreign ships starting Jan. 1.

China’s southern Hainan province, from where China administers the West Philippine Sea, said in late November that maritime patrols would strictly enforce new border rules, but respect freedom of navigation in the sea.

Italian deal

Gazmin said the Philippines would purchase three multipurpose AW helicopters from AugustaWestland SPA of Italy “in a concrete step toward the fulfillment of our goal to modernize the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces in general.”

He also announced the signing of a P300.780-million ($7.33 million) contract with Korea’s Kia Motors Corp. for the acquisition of 60 1.5-ton field ambulances and 12 5-ton trucks for the Philippine Army.

Gazmin said the purchases show the Philippines’ “louder and clearer” intent to modernize its military.

The Philippines is also getting a second warship, the 45-year-old Hamilton-class BRP Ramon Alcaraz, which is expected to arrive from the United States early next year after undergoing repairs and refurbishing.

Gazmin said the military entered into a negotiated contract agreement with AugustaWestland SPA for the three naval choppers costing a total of P1.3 billion.

He said he approved the contract on Dec. 20, more than two weeks after the DND bids and awards committee recommended the signing of the notice of award.

Gazmin said the agreement was allowed under the government procurement law.

On Nov. 28, the Naval Helicopter Acquisition Project Negotiating Committee declared that the Italian supplier was the “single calculated and responsive proponent after going through the process of a negotiated procurement,” Gazmin said.

“The Italian Ministerio Della Difesa conducted a review of AugustaWestland’s proposal for the procurement of AW 109 Power helicopter, including related logistics support, and found out that the price per helicopter ‘seems to have been progressively reduced,’ meaning they were sold cheaper,” he said.

Gazmin said he approved the contract for the ambulances and trucks with Kia Motors on Nov. 20.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa signed the contract for the military.

Kia deal

Gazmin said the deal with Kia Motors was made through a Memorandum of Understanding on Logistics and Defense Industry Cooperation between Korea and the Philippines.

“The purchase of these field ambulances will greatly help in saving the lives of our soldiers who are out there fighting for our nation and the Filipino people,” Gazmin said.

“In the same sense, we can use these to help in our disaster rescue and relief operations to aid our beleaguered countrymen and help save a lot of lives,” he added. — With a report from AP

Joescoundrel
12-28-2012, 09:13 AM
AFP to acquire helicopters, trucks

Associated Press

4:45 pm | Thursday, December 27th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine’s defense chief says the government has signed separate contracts worth 163 billion pesos (about $39 million) with Italian and South Korean companies to supply helicopters and trucks as part of efforts to modernize its poorly equipped military.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday the Philippines will purchase three multi-purpose AW 109 helicopters for its navy from AugustaWestland SPA of Italy amounting to 1.33 billion pesos ($32 million).

He says Kia Motors Corp. will supply 60 field ambulances and 12 trucks all worth 300.78 million ($7.33 million) pesos.

Gazmin says the purchases show the country’s “louder and clearer” intent to modernize its military.

The Philippine military is fighting a decades-long communist insurgency and battling Islamic militants while facing increasing tension over territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Joescoundrel
12-30-2012, 07:51 AM
Japan, SoKor, Australia to help PH improve defense capability – DFA

By Jerry E. Esplanada

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:54 pm | Sunday, May 20th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Aside from the United States, at least three other countries – Japan, South Korea and Australia – are helping the Philippines establish a minimum credible defense posture to complement its diplomatic capacity in dealing with its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed this out over the weekend as he also disclosed that the Tokyo government is likely to provide the country with 12 patrol boats.

“They’re considering 10 forty-meter patrol boats on ODA (Official Development Aid) and two larger ones as grants,” Del Rosario told the Philippine Daily Inquirer

In a text message, he also said: “Regarding South Korea, we have a logistics agreement and we have received equipment, such as vests and helmets (for the Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

“I understand our defense department is looking to possibly purchase aircraft from there,” according to Del Rosario.

In November, President Benigno Aquino III asked visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for aircraft, patrol boats and other hardware to help boost the country’s military amid then rising tensions with China over the Spratlys Islands.

Lee did not disclose any response to the specific request but said Seoul wanted to help Manila resolve its maritime problems.

From Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs head said the country could expect to get “a number of vessels for search-and-rescue, as well as significant training here and abroad for large numbers of our military (personnel).”

“We expect increased help (from the Australian government) when the Status of the Visiting Forces Agreement (or SOFVA between Manila and Canberra) is ratified, hopefully this week,” said Del Rosario.

The SOFVFA, which covers the “status of visiting forces from each state while in the territory of the other state,” was signed on May 31, 2007 in the Australian capital by then Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and his counterpart Defense Minister Brendan Nelson.

The signing of the bilateral pact was witnessed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Last week, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed reports that the Philippines would acquire at least 10 patrol boats from Japan. However, he declined to discuss with reporters details of the acquisition still in progress.

Coast Guard head Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said they have been negotiating a loan for the acquisition of the vessels.

Meanwhile, the AFP chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, said the process of building a credible defense for the country has been moving fast, with the Navy’s acquisition of a second Hamilton-class cutter from the US.

The first such acquisition, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, figured in the early part of the standoff between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, which Manila calls Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.

On the other hand, Beijing refers to the rock formation as Huangyan Island.

Del Rosario has repeatedly said “we have committed ourselves to improve our national defense by building a minimum credible defense posture” as he also stressed the need to protect national sovereignty.

“Given the country’s lack of resources, it behooves us to proactively seek the assistance and cooperation of our various international partners to achieve this minimum credible posture, which is a fundamental attribute of any sovereign country,” he also said.

According to Del Rosario, the “defense track” is part of the DFA’s comprehensive overall plan in promoting national security.

This year, the Philippines would be receiving about $144.66 million (about P6.25 billion) in defense assistance from the US, he said.

Aside from the delivery of a second Coast Guard cutter, “negotiations are likewise underway for more defense articles, including newer air assets for the Philippine Air Force. We also successfully secured funding in the amount of $53 million (about P2.3 billion) for radar systems to be used by the Coast Guard Watch Council for enhanced maritime domain awareness.”

He said Manila has been upgrading its defense partnership with Washington under the two allies’ Mutual Defense Treaty, citing changes in the regional and global security environment.

Del Rosario emphasized their focal point for cooperation has been to “increase our capacity for territorial defense and maritime security.”

Aside from the defense track, he also referred to the DFA’s diplomatic or political track, where the country would continue to push for the transformation of the West Philippine Sea into a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship, and Cooperation, or ZoPFFC.

Under the ZoPFFC, Manila would observe a rules-based approach to all disputes in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

For the legal track, the DFA plans to continue coordinating with other concerned government agencies as it resorts to dispute settlement mechanisms under UNCLOS.

According to Del Rosario, “there are five of them and we’re assessing which one is best for us, one that will serve our purpose well.”

Scarborough Shoal lies north of the Spratlys and 124 nautical miles west of Zambales province.

Both asserting their territorial claim to the shoal, Manila and Beijing have refused to recall their vessels from the area.

China has violated the Asean Declaration on the Conduct of Parties “for not allowing us to enforce our laws in the country’s 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone,” according to Del Rosario.

The Philippines earlier filed a protest with the UN, challenging China’s nine-dash claim that encompasses the whole West Philippine Sea.

Last month, Manila asked the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to take a stand on its dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal.

Del Rosario asserted that “all, not just the Philippines, will ultimately be negatively affected if we do not take a stand.”

He observed “if you take a good look, it appears to us that China wants to establish the rules. Obviously, there’s a negative implication for everyone, not just the Philippines.”

Asked if they would ask the US government’s help in resolving the conflict, he said they “would want all nations to make a judgment as to what’s happening there and what the implications are to their own countries.”

He claimed Washington has already taken a “very constructive role” in resolving the Spratlys dispute, when it pushed for the application of international law in solving the problem.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:27 AM
Pentagon: US to equip Philippines with powerful radar

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:20 am | Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Plans to provide a powerful radar to the Philippines came after President Benigno Aquino met with US President Barack Obama at the White House, where the Philippine leader was offered a robust show of military and economic support.

WASHINGTON—The US military on Tuesday said it planned to provide a powerful land-based radar to the Philippines as the country faced an escalating dispute with China over territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The radar system will form part of a “watch center” that will track ships off the Philippine archipelago’s coastline, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

“We are in the initial planning stages of assisting the Philippines with a National Coast Watch Center,” Major Catherine Wilkinson told Agence France Presse.

“This center will improve the Philippine maritime domain awareness of a breadth of security issues including countering the proliferation of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) to countering illegal smuggling,” Wilkinson said.

The cost and the timeline for the project were still being worked out, she said.

Robust show of support

Plans to provide a powerful radar to the Philippines came after President Benigno Aquino met with US President Barack Obama at the White House, where the Philippine leader was offered a robust show of military and economic support.

Manila has asked for the radar system and other military assistance to bolster its position in a row with Beijing over Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, which lies near the main Philippine island of Luzon.

The plan to provide Manila with a radar system reflects Washington’s strategic pivot to Asia amid escalating tensions in the strategic waterway which is believed to contain vast oil and gas deposits, analysts said.

“Land-based radar is one of the practical ways the United States can simultaneously boost Philippine defense capabilities and signal Washington’s long-term commitment to Asia,” said Patrick Cronin, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.

China may choose to defuse tensions just before a gathering of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations next month, Cronin said.

“But it is also possible that China is determined to humiliate the Philippines and, indirectly, the United States,” he added.

The Philippines has also expressed interest in patrol vessels and aircraft to help monitor the vast waters off its coast, where the Chinese have sent ships to assert their territorial claims.

It was unlikely the United States would provide military aircraft to the Philippines at a time when China may be preparing a conciliatory gesture, Cronin said.

“If China persists with embarrassing the Philippines, then I have no doubt aircraft sales will follow,” he said.

Admiral Cecil Haney, the commander of the Pacific Fleet, on Monday said the US Navy would be sending its most advanced warships, submarines and fighter jets to the Asia-Pacific region as China modernized its own naval forces at breakneck speed.

Haney mentioned the Littoral Combat Ship that could operate in shallower waters than other vessels, the EA-18G plane that could jam enemy air defenses and fly faster than the speed of sound, and the US Navy’s most advanced submarine—the Virginia-class.

To outgun rivals’ ships

Amid rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea, China’s state-controlled media and online military websites reported last week that the first of a new class of a stealthy littoral combat frigate, the type 056, had been launched at Shanghai’s Hudong shipyard with three others under construction.

According to analysts, the new 1,700-ton ship, armed with a 76mm main gun, missiles and antisubmarine torpedoes, would easily outgun the warships of rival claimants in the strategic waterway, according to the analysts. AFP

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:28 AM
A first: Philippines to buy 2 missile warships from Italy—DND

By Philip C. Tubeza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:23 am | Friday, August 3rd, 2012

At last, the Philippines will be getting real warships.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said the government was planning to buy next year its first two modern warships armed with surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles and capable of hunting down submarines in the West Philippine Sea.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said this would be the first time that the Philippines would have warships with missiles and other modern armaments.

Gazmin said the Department of National Defense was looking to acquire the missile frigates from the Italian Navy. The two Maestrale-class frigates cost P11.7 billion.

“These are warships,” Gazmin said in a press conference. “They have antisubmarine capabilities and surface-to-air missiles. This is really for battle. We could get the frigates by November next year.”

He said the frigates would be “more lethal” than the Hamilton-class cutters the US Coast Guard was selling to the Philippines.

The Maestrale class of frigates was initially commissioned for the Italian Navy in 1982. They were primarily designed for antisubmarine warfare but are also capable of fighting on the surface and shooting down aircraft.

Equipped with several electronic warfare systems, these ships also have torpedoes, long-range guns and automatic weapons.

The Italian Navy will retire these frigates next January, Manalo said.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:29 AM
Philippine Air Force to get new warplanes by 2014

Agence France-Presse

10:11 pm | Friday, July 6th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines, which is now embroiled in a territorial dispute with China, is set to acquire new warplanes in two years to upgrade its poorly-equipped air force, the defense minister said Friday.

Attack aircraft, lead-in fighter-trainers, attack helicopters and light and medium transport aircraft were all expected to be delivered within two years, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

Speaking at the 65th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force, Gazmin said “these aircraft shall once and for all, erase the ironic and naughty commentary that our present airforce is all air, devoid of force.”

The defense department also plans to sign contracts by July 31 to implement 138 military modernization projects over the next five years, he added, without saying how much the contracts would cost or who would supply such equipment.

The Philippines has one of the most poorly-equipped militaries in the region, having retired the last of its fighter jets in 2005.

The weakness of the military was highlighted when the Philippines got into a standoff with China in April over the Scarborough Shoal, an outcropping of rocks in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that both countries claim as their territory.

China claims nearly all of the West Philippine Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

The two countries also have wider territorial disputes over parts of the Spratly islands in the West Philippine Sea .

Gazmin did not mention the territorial dispute but stressed that air force personnel were all over the archipelago, including the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines has looked to its main defense ally, the United States, to help it upgrade its armed forces but President Benigno Aquino said in an interview in May, that it was looking for aircraft from outside the US as well.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:31 AM
Philippines to acquire 10 new attack helicopters

Agence France-Presse

5:18 pm | Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will acquire 10 attack helicopters starting next year in a bid to boost the capabilities of the poorly equipped military, an air force spokesman said Wednesday.

Italy, Britain, France, Russia and South Africa are all being eyed to supply the helicopters, Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Okol said, although he declined to specify which models were being considered.

The brand-new machines will upgrade the fleet of US-made MG-520 light attack helicopters that the air force has been using since the 1990s.

“What we are going to get are armed attack helicopters… that can carry more payload than the MG-520,” Okol told AFP.

He declined to specify the cost of the acquisition but said the government had already allocated the required funds.

The new aircraft will be used for “internal security operations, border security and support operations,” he said.

The Philippines is battling communist insurgents in rural areas throughout the archipelago, as well as Muslim extremists in the troubled southern regions.

In recent months tensions have also risen with China over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, but Okol said the acquisition of the attack helicopters was unrelated.

The tensions with China have highlighted the weakness of the Philippine military, which is one of the most poorly quipped in the region, relying largely on surplus US equipment.

The Philippines has been refurbishing its ageing MG-520 helicopters, other military sources said.

The country has recently been stepping up its modernization efforts and plans to acquire new fighter-trainer jets and attack and transport planes by 2014, the defense secretary said earlier.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:31 AM
Philippines plans to acquire 2 warfare choppers

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

6:46 pm | Monday, November 19th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of National Defense is looking into acquiring two new anti-submarine warfare helicopters for the Philippine Navy as part of the military’s upgrade efforts.

“This is part of the modernization program that we will implement in the next five years,” Department of National Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told reporters Monday by phone.

The undersecretary noted, however, that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has yet to issue the consent for the acquisition of the helicopters pending the approval of the AFP Modernization Law.

“Without the modernization law we will have no budget (for this acquisition),” he explained.

The helicopters are planned to be assigned to the Maestrale-class missile-firing frigates from Italy that is to be acquired next year.

Joescoundrel
01-05-2013, 07:53 AM
New Sokol choppers amaze Philippine troops

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

2:55 am | Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Philippine troops and civilians were awed by the latest military air asset acquisitions, which went on test flights Monday afternoon, a military spokesman said.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said the Sokol choppers, which flew from Clark Air Base in Pampanga, amazed the troops and civilians at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija where the aircraft passed by.

He said, “The troops were impressed with the capabilities of the Sokol choppers as they executed several air maneuvers.

Major Enrico Ileto of the 7th Infantry Division said the Philippine Army Aviation Battalion of the Light Armor Division stationed at Fort Magsaysay may have been the first Army unit to establish radio contact with the brand-new choppers.

“Pulse rates ran high with enthusiasm for soldiers assigned here when they noticed a unique chopping sound of the air in the background being accustomed to the thud of a Huey helicopter or any other rotary aircraft the Armed Forces Philippines has,” he said.

The helicopters, half of the originally eight scheduled for delivery were from Augusta PZL SWIDNIK of Italy and Poland, arrived last week at Clark Air Base.

The Sokol helicopter or “Falcon” in Polish, is a “more capable utility platform” and can be fitted with equipment depending on the mission that makes it an “ideal utility helicopter” for the air force, he said. It has night vision goggle-capabilities and is equipped with an SN 350 autopilot, which means it “can fly hands free especially in long transit flights.”

While the Huey can carry only seven passengers, the Sokol can accommodate 10 passengers with a maximum takeoff weight of 14, 110 lbs. and an endurance of three hours and 19 minutes. It can reach a maximum range of 402 nautical miles in a single flight with airspeed of 140.5 knots, Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol earlier said.

“The Sokol is fitted with gun mounts for the M60D machine gun on both sides and when utilized during search- and-rescue or over-water operations, it can be equipped with pilot-controlled emergency flotation gear attached to the lowest portion of the aircraft. It can also perform various missions other than combat to support the country’s peace and development efforts,” he added.

The acquisition cost is P2.8 billion and the procurement has undergone “rigid screening process.” The rest of the helicopters are expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2012 or first quarter of 2013.

Joescoundrel
01-16-2013, 08:54 AM
I guess this means he'll be seen even less at Ateneo games in UAAP Season 76...

Bautista new AFP chief

Son of a general killed by Moro rebels in 1977

By Michael Lim Ubac, Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:08 am | Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

The son of a general who was killed by Moro rebels 35 years ago is the next chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lt. Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista was a freshman cadet at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) when his father was killed.

On Tuesday, President Aquino named him AFP chief of staff.

Bautista, the bemedaled commanding general of the Philippine Army, will take over as the 44th AFP chief of staff at the turnover of command on Thursday, three days ahead of the mandatory retirement of Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

Bautista is the son of the late Brig. Gen. Teodulfo Bautista, who was killed along with 33 other military officers and men, by rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), on Oct. 10, 1977, in Patikul, Sulu province.

The elder Bautista was lured by Usman Sali, an MNLF commander, into a meeting in Patikul with a promise to talk about a ceasefire. To show his goodwill, Teodulfo Bautista came to the meeting unarmed. Only one soldier survived the massacre.

“I will only have closure on my father’s death if we forge a lasting peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” Bautista said over dinner with Philippine Daily Inquirer reporters and editors last November.

The Aquino administration had by then just signed a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF.

Bautista had said that he continues to visit the site where his father and his men were killed, more than 30 years after their deaths.

Class of 1981

Bautista is a graduate of the PMA. He belongs to the “Dimalupig” Class of 1981, just like Alan Purisima, the newly appointed director general of the Philippine National Police.

Previously, Bautista was commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, deputy chief of staff for operations, a brigade commander (702nd Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division), and assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and program.

Bautista, who completed his master’s degree in public administration at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, has 26 Military Merit Medals, five Military Commendation Medals, two Distinguished Service Star Awards, two Gold Cross Medals, one Bronze Cross Medal, two Combat Commander “K” Badges, among many other awards and commendations.

He was also a graduate of a war fighting course at the Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia, USA, and a tactics course in New Zealand.

Thanks to Dellosa

“We thank outgoing AFP Chief of Staff Dellosa for having served the country and our uniformed personnel with exemplary dedication and commitment,” Malacañang said in a statement.

“We look forward to the stint of the incoming AFP chief of staff in continuing the reforms set in motion by the President and implemented by his predecessors in advancing the interests of our soldiers and the enhancement of the defense capabilities of our country,” it said.

Commissioned on March 15, 1981, Bautista will retire on July 20, 2014. He was born in Quezon City on July 20, 1958. He is married to Bernardita P. Bautista.

Prior to his appointment as Army chief in November 2011, Bautista, who will turn 55 in July, had been assigned to various posts around the country, but never in Sulu.

After graduating from the PMA in 1981 he readily asked to be assigned in Sulu with the 1st Infantry Division, the unit his father commanded before his death. His request was denied and, as a compromise, he was assigned to Lanao del Norte, another province in Mindanao.

As a lieutenant, Bautista served in Mindanao as a platoon leader of the 26th Infantry Battalion from 1981 to 1983. He also saw action in the Visayas as the leader of the 7th Scout Ranger Company from 1987 to 1989.

He was also the commander of the 702nd Infantry Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division, which cleared areas in Central Luzon of communist influence from 2008 to 2009.

Appointment welcomed

The military on Tuesday welcomed the appointment of Bautista.

“We are confident that Lieutenant General Bautista would be able to continue the current programs, initiatives and reforms being undertaken by the AFP for the fulfillment of the goals of Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan and the accomplishment of its constitutional mandate,” said military spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos in a statement.

It was Bautista himself who crafted IPSP Bayanihan, the current anti-insurgency campaign of the government anchored on a multi-sectoral effort of “winning the peace” instead of carrying out a bloody campaign to end the decades-long insurgency problem of the country.

Bautista’s focus on “winning the peace” takes root in the violent death of his father.

Bautista is also focused on reforming the image of the Army, and now as military chief, expectedly the entire Armed Forces.

He was very supportive of the Army Transformation Road Map, which he said aims to change the “tarnished” image of the Army because of allegations of human rights violations, among others.

Burgos said Bautista’s appointment as AFP chief of staff was “timely as the implementation of the IPSP Bayanihan shifts to high gear on its third year of implementation.”

“Being the chief architect of IPSP Bayanihan and now at the helm of the AFP, we are highly optimistic that he will be able to lead and enable the organization to make vital progress and significant developments that will help the organization and its partner agencies and stakeholders to achieve the shared goals of a just and lasting peace for our country,” Burgos said.

Moreover, the AFP is hopeful that under Bautista’s leadership, the military’s modernization and capability upgrade program will “further take a momentous step forward in our intent to achieve a minimum credible defense posture,” Burgos said. With Frances Mangosing, INQUIRER.net

Joescoundrel
01-16-2013, 08:55 AM
^ As a former OJ5 officer, I can only hope he pursues the AFPMP to the fullest, starting with getting the PAF its much-needed fighters.

Sam Miguel
01-16-2013, 10:00 AM
AFP men hail Bautista appointment as new chief of staff

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

7:31 pm | Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The military on Tuesday welcomed the appointment of Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista as the next Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The incoming chief of the Armed Forces is one of the originators behind the military’s current anti-insurgency strategy, the Internal Peace Security Peace Plan Oplan Bayanihan.

The IPSP campaign seeks to be “people-centered” rather than the traditional military approach.

“Lt Gen. Bautista’s appointment comes very timely as the implementation of the IPSP shifts to high gear on its third year of implementation. He was then the AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in 2010 when he spearheaded the crafting of the IPSP Bayanihan in partnership with all the stakeholders,” military spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said in a statement.

“We are also optimistic that with his leadership, our modernization and capability upgrade program will further take a momentous step forward in our intent to achieve a minimum credible defense posture,” he added.

Bautista is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981.

He will replace incumbent AFP chief General Jessie Dellosa in turnover rites on Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo. Dellosa is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Rumors circulating at Camp Aguinaldo earlier said that Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz was his closest rival for the top military post.

Other contenders were Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes and Southern Luzon Command chief Maj. Gen. Alan Luga.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:17 AM
Biz Buzz: Lobbying for the Philippines

By the staff

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:33 pm | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Former US ambassador to the Philippines John Negroponte, who co-chairs the US-Philippine Society think tank with businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, is coming to town to discuss with key policymakers and the business community recent local developments affecting economic, political and security ties between the two countries.

This includes issues on foreign ownership in partly nationalized companies like utilities and real estate, an offshoot of a recent Supreme Court ruling on PLDT’s foreign ownership. At present, this has become less of a concern given pronouncements from the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would not impose the 60-40 percent local-foreign ownership cap on all classes of shares.

Another juicy topic that Negroponte’s visit will touch on is the West Philippine Sea conflict, which has been a hot issue in both the Philippines and China for several months now. He is also expected to discuss developments in the mining industry as well as the country’s major infrastructure programs.

Negroponte, who will lead an American delegation made up of top business and government officials, is set to meet with President Aquino Wednesday morning before the chief of state leaves for Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum (for the first time under his presidential term).—Doris C. Dumlao

Speaking of which…

After meeting with the President, the Negroponte-led delegation will also meet with Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno for the American businessmen to get a feel of how legal issues will play out in the Philippines over the next few years (something foreign businessmen have always complained about in the past).

The kickoff dinner will be hosted by US-Philippine Society board member Washington Sycip, while dinner for the following evening will be hosted by MVP.

On the final day, Friday, the business delegation will be given a tour of the Clark special economic zone in Pampanga to highlight its prospects as an investment site and as an attractive alternative to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Apart from Negroponte, other former US ambassadors to Manila will also be present, including Thomas Hubbard (the Philippines traditionally being a post given to rising stars in the US State Department).

Speaking of which, word on the street is that current US Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas will be heading back to Washington, D.C., soon (slightly ahead of schedule) to make his presence felt in Foggy Bottom. No word yet on who will replace the capable, affable and Tagalog-speaking diplomat.—Daxim L. Lucas

Bias in defense contracts?

The drive to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has now been delayed by a year, no thanks to a Department of National Defense official and his vested interests, according to our source.

To recall, no less than Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in January of last year committed to “ensure the approval and signature of the contracts for all the 138 projects for the AFP modernization and capability upgrade program not later than July 31, 2012.”

Well, the last thing we heard is that in early December, the negotiation for the acquisition of 21 UH-1 helicopters failed. A separate deal for the purchase of 10 helicopters also failed to advance.

The military is supposed to acquire fighter jets, helicopters, support aircraft, radar and communications systems and modern equipment to monitor the country’s vast territorial waters and effectively coordinate defensive forces such as the navy and air force.

Our source says the delay is caused by a DND official who behaves more like a “commissioner.” The official’s preference for certain suppliers have caused delays and complications in the equipment procurement process, we’re told. Supposedly, this official is the brains behind the move to source defense equipment from non-traditional sources, despite the assistance for materiel readily being offered by the US. Tsk tsk.—Daxim L. Lucas

Positive mining news

When mining hits the news, it’s usually something negative. But Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. is trying to change all that.

On top of the TV ad campaign of its sister firm Taganito Mining Corp. that highlights the good that miners have done for the community, the subsidiary of Nickel Asia Corp. will launch a coffee table book on Thursday at the Ayala Museum in Greenbelt Park, Makati City.

The private event will be led by Rio Tuba’s chair, Manuel Zamora, and its president, Gerry Brimo.

The book is expected to showcase the good that mining can do, in contrast to the way the industry’s critics love to portray it.—Daxim L. Lucas

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 09:29 AM
Gen Bautista, the new AFP Chief, should know a little something about this, being a "modernization specialist" over the last 10 years of his career...

PH at 'very high risk' of defense corruption

By Kim Arveen Patria | Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom – 13 hours ago..

The Philippine government may be deemed less corrupt when taken as a whole, but the country's national defense sector remains among those most prone to corruption globally.

The Philippines is at "very high risk" of defense corruption, the "Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index 2013" released by the UK arm of anti-corruption coalition Transparency International showed.

This, even as the group's earlier global Corruption Perception Index noted significant improvements for the Philippines--placing it 105th out of 176 countries in 2012 from 129th out of 183 countries previously.

The Philippines landed in the second worst category along with 17 other countries in the report, which noted that nearly 70 percent of the 82 countries assessed have poor transparency mechanisms in the defense sector.

"This disappointing result shows that defense risk in most countries is poorly controlled, with correspondingly high vulnerability to corruption," the report said.

For the Philippines, risks were found highest in terms of political defense corruption, pegged at 45 percent.

"[I]t has been asserted that some members of the government use their powers to influence defence policy as leverage to
secure personal benefits," the report said.

Also high risk areas for corruption are procurement (30 percent) and personnel integrity (27 percent).

"[E]vidence from recent cases indicates that corruption in the defense procurement process has not been adequately addressed," the report said.

In terms of finance corruption, the Philippines was given a 16 percent vulnerability score, and in the area of operations, 5 percent.

"The assessment finds that military personnel are commonly seconded from their official duties to provide private security services to politicians," the report said further.

The Philippines was in the same group in the report as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cote d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Tagged as "critical" countries, meanwhile, were Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

On the other hand, among the 82 countries assessed, only two--Australia and Germany--were considered to have "very low" defense corruption risk.

These two countries have both been found to have strong accountability and transparency levels, solid private sector standards, as well as military budget secrecy, the report said.

Sam Miguel
01-31-2013, 08:00 AM
4th star for new Armed Forces chief of staff

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:30 am | Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista on Wednesday received his fourth star, two weeks after he formally assumed the post from his predecessor, retired Gen. Jessie Dellosa.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin presided over Bautista’s donning of ranks held at the Department of National Defense.

“I am very honored and challenged to do my best in the performance of my duties and responsibilities as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This is my commitment to the Armed Forces and the Filipino people,” Bautista said.

Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’81, assumed his post last Jan. 17 in turnover ceremonies led by President Aquino as the Commander in Chief.

Bautista is largely credited for crafting the military’s counterinsurgency strategy called Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, which has become a de facto National Security Strategy of the Aquino administration.

Bautista defended the IPSP Bayanihan from claims of militant groups that it was no different from Oplan Bantay Laya, the counterinsurgency campaign of the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Open to public

“This is the only military campaign plan that is open to the public… It is the people that will judge us, not them (militants). Let us ask our countrymen if they have not seen any changes in the military,” Bautista said.

Also on Wednesday, Gazmin appointed Col. Hermenegildo Aquino as his new senior military assistant, replacing Brig. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, who has been appointed commander of the Army’s 503rd Brigade in Abra province.

Gazmin also said that retired Maj. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario is currently an “understudy” of outgoing Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos.

“He (Del Rosario) is one of the candidates to take over Usec Ramos. The approval of his designation has not been put into place. Even if it goes beyond Feb. 1, if the President has not signed (the appointment papers), then (Ramos) will not leave yet. As soldiers would say, ‘I will quit my post only when properly relieved.’ (Ramos) will be properly relieved when the orders are signed,” Gazmin said.

‘Media darling’

Ramos, regarded as one of the most hardworking defense officials and a “media darling,” has resigned from the OCD and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) effective Feb. 1 to take care of his ailing wife. Reports from Nikko Dizon, PDI and Frances Mangosing, INQUIRER.net

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:31 AM
One can only hope the new Chief of Staff puts real closure to this and not merely say that this is now going through the legal process. He got his job through a Hail Mary from the Sec Def, hopefully he earns it.

Whatever happened to…?: Exposé on AFP’s ‘rampant irregularities’

1:09 am | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

The recommendation to file plunder charges against several former military officers for the misuse of P2.3 billion in public funds is still pending in the Office of the Ombudsman, which has jurisdiction over the prosecution of graft and plunder cases in the Sandiganbayan.

A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel made the recommendation in January 2012, based on the complaint filed by Lt. Col. George Rabusa, a former military budget officer who hogged the headlines in 2011 for his revelations on the military practice of giving retiring senior officers with multimillion-peso “pabaon” (sendoff gift).

In a resolution, the panel recommended plunder charges against retired Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff Generals Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu, and former AFP comptrollers Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot for allegedly pilfering military funds.

Included in the charges were retired Maj. Gen. Hilario Atendido, retired Colonels Cirilo Donato and Roy Devesa, retired Lt. Col. Ernesto Paranis, J-6 accounting division chief Generoso del Castillo and former state auditor Divina Cabrera.

‘Semblance of truth’

Rabusa’s “grandiose illustration of the ‘rampant irregularities in the AFP relative to the malversation, misuse and misappropriation of its funds appears to have a semblance of truth,” the DOJ panel said.

In his complaint filed in the DOJ in April 2011, Rabusa cited personal knowledge of irregularities by members of the so-called “comptrollership mafia.”

He served as budget officer of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff (ODCS) for Intelligence or J2 from 1994 to 1998, and of the ODCS for Comptrollership or J6 from 2000 to 2002.

Conversion

Rabusa said key AFP officials colluded to carry out a scheme of converting commercial vouchers into cash for unofficial expenditures; incorporating discretionary funds into the military budget; and converting military funds through procurement offices.

Rabusa’s disclosure stemmed from his testimony in a January 2011 Senate blue ribbon inquiry into the controversial plea bargain deal between special prosecutors and ex-comptroller Garcia for the latter’s plunder case.

In the inquiry, Rabusa said that he had pocketed money and that he had helped his former boss, Garcia, “convert” almost P1 billion from 2001 to 2002 for distribution to ranking officers and other recipients outside the AFP.

Rabusa also claimed that when Gen. Angelo Reyes retired as AFP chief of staff in 2001, he received a total of P150 million in military funds.

Rabusa also claimed that by the time Villanueva and Cimatu retired the two took home a total of P227.4 million and P110 million, respectively. Former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Efren Abu also benefited from spurious transactions, according to Rabusa.

Reyes denied the allegations against him and filed graft charges against Rabusa in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Denial

Appearing before the Senate inquiry, Cimatu denied Rabusa’s claims, saying his only pabaon were the 40 medals and citations he received in his 37-year military career.

In a statement, Villanueva described Rabusa’s allegations as “mind-boggling,” adding that he only got a “modest retirement pay” when he stepped down from office.

At the height of the controversy, Reyes committed suicide on Feb. 8, 2011.

Ligots’ unexplained assets

In a succeeding hearing, Rabusa said senior officers had a slush fund of P20 million for their personal and operational use. The fund was replenished by allocations skimmed off the salaries and operational expenses of military units.

Also brought up in the inquiry were the unexplained assets of Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, in the country and in the United States.

The Senate hearings prompted the Bureau of Internal Revenue to file multimillion-peso tax evasion complaints against Garcia and Ligot, and their wives, in March 2011.

For his complaint, Rabusa named 22 respondents and presented to the DOJ over 20 folders containing pieces of evidence, such as receipts, checks and various documents to prove how military funds were misused. He described his case as “airtight.”

Cleared

But for lack of sufficient evidence, the DOJ cleared 11 of the respondents: Abu, retired Lt. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, retired Major Generals Epineto Logico and Ernesto Boac, Navy Capt. Kenneth Paglinawan, Col. Gilbert Gapay and Maj. Emerson Angulo.

Also absolved were Col. Robert Arevalo and former state auditors Arturo Besana, Crisanto Gabriel and Manuel Warren.

Challenging the panel’s recommendations, Cimatu’s camp said that Rabusa’s complaint was based mainly on spurious documents and that it was his cohorts and him who misused military funds.

Following his exoneration, Besana filed a plunder complaint against Rabusa in the Office of the Ombudsman, citing Rabusa’s own admission that he committed various offenses involving “billions of pesos.”—Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives; Department of Justice

Sam Miguel
02-11-2013, 10:11 AM
DND getting 2 new warships

By Alexis Romero

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 11, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two warships will be purchased for the Navy to boost maritime security.

In a phone interview yesterday, Peter Galvez, Department of National Defense spokesman, said the acquisition is being fast-tracked.

“We’re giving ourselves until the end of the first quarter to finalize bidding for the frigates,” he said. “We are confident that we can follow the timeline and we can do it within the first quarter.”

Earlier, defense officials said about P11.7 billion would be allotted for the warships.

Originally, the government had intended to acquire the vessels through government-to-government transactions. However, offers from different countries had prompted senior security officials to opt for public bidding.

A government-to-government transaction is usually faster than public bidding.

However, the DND is optimistic that the acquisition of the vessels would not be delayed.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said public bidding would ensure transparency and allow the comparison of the ships being offered.

DefenseUndersecretary Fernando Manalo earlier said about six countries have offered to provide frigates to the Navy. Among them are the US, South Korea, Spain, Israel, Croatia and Australia.

These countries are cognizant of the government’s determination to upgrade the military’s capabilities, Manalo said.

Previously, Italy offered two Maestrale-class missile-firing warships with anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities.

The Philippines has acquired two warships from the US.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar arrived last year and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz is expected by April.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 10:51 AM
PAF gets last batch of Polish helicopters

By Jaime Laude

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force (PAF) took delivery of two brand new helicopters yesterday morning at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

Col. Ernesto Okol, PAF spokesman, said the arrival of the two W-3A Sokol (Falcon series) helicopters at the Clark Air Base, which is adjacent to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, completed the multi-billion contract between the PAF and the Polish firm PZL-Swidnik that involved the purchase of eight helicopters.

“The delivery completes the contract for the government to purchase eight Sokol helicopters from PZL-Swidnik in the amount of P2,857,864,625.18,” Okol said.

PZL-Swidnik delivered to the PAF the first batch of four Sokol helicopters on Feb. 2, 2012. The next two aircraft were delivered in November last year.

The procurement deal is part of the military’s modernization program currently being pushed by the Aquino government.

Prior to the final delivery of the helicopters, a PAF team conducted a pre-delivery inspection of the two new aircraft at the PZL-Swidnik facility in Poland early this month to ensure that all the parts and the equipment to be delivered are in proper order.

“The two main fuselages and other equipment and parts of the two Sokols were transported into the country aboard an AN-124 transport plane yesterday.

After the inspection and inventory, maintenance personnel from PZL-Swidnik would assemble the two helicopters and PAF pilots would conduct test flights, Okol said.

Sam Miguel
02-22-2013, 09:19 AM
Philippines to get 5 French patrol boats

Agence France-Presse

5:30 pm | Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will buy five patrol boats from France for about 90 million euros ($116 million), partly to guard disputed areas in the South China Sea, the coastguard said Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, the chief of the poorly equipped coastguard, said one 82-meter (271-foot) ship and four 24-meter (79-foot) patrol craft would be delivered by 2014.

Tuason cited the need for such ships to patrol the rough waters of the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

“When we patrol the West Philippine Sea, we encounter huge waves, turbulent waters so it will be better if we will use bigger ships,” Tuason said in a statement.

Coastguard spokesman Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo said the larger ship was a “heavy endurance vessel that can be deployed even in bad weather.”

This is the first such ship to be acquired by the coastguard, he added.

The Philippines and China began a stand-off in April over the Scarborough Shoal, a group of islets in the South China Sea.

China claims the shoal as well as nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Balilo denied that the new French ships were being acquired due to the territorial dispute and said the coastguard, which currently has only nine operating ships, needed new vessels to perform their duties.

He said the new vessels would be deployed throughout the archipelago and not concentrate just on the disputed areas.

Sam Miguel
03-12-2013, 08:10 AM
Davao del Sur lad tops PMA class of 2013

By Vincent Cabreza

Inquirer Northern Luzon

12:01 am | Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—Long before Jestony Lanaja decided that life meant a career in the military, he earned his keep as a teenager by gathering sugarcane in a plantation in his hometown of Hagonoy in Davao del Sur that earned him P1.25 for each bundle he collected.

That early taste of the hard life—compounded by the possibility that soldiers like him could soon be facing challenges arising from controversies such as the conflicts over Sabah and disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea—will shape the insights Lanaja plans to bring when he graduates from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on March 17.

Cadet First Class Lanaja topped this year’s PMA graduating class of 124 cadets, which was named “Pudang Kalis,” an acronym for “Puso’t dangal ng mga kawal ng lahing nagkakaisa (The heart and soul of soldiers of a united race).”

Pudang Kalis also means “sacred sword.”

Members of the graduating class will receive their commission as officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from President Aquino on March 17 at Borromeo Field here.

Four female cadets are among the top 10 graduates, the first in many years since the PMA allowed women to join the academy in 1997.

Cadet First Class Maryam Balais, a Kankanaey from La Trinidad, Benguet, ranked second in the class.

A Muslim, Balais belongs to a family of law enforcers. Her brother Benjamin graduated valedictorian of the Philippine National Police Academy in 2006, while another brother, Dimas, belonged to the PMA Mandala Class of 2006.

Female cadets

Other female cadets among the topnotchers are Cadets First Class Joselyn Advincula of Tagaytay City, who ranked fifth; Vanessa Factor of Antipolo City, eighth; and Maila Maniscan of South Cotabato, 10th.

Three more female cadets will receive special citations: Cadet First Class Mariz Jane Ibarde is receiving the Chief of Staff Saber and the Tactics Group Award; Cadet First Class Jomelyn Bagsang will be cited for achievement in sports; and Cadet First Class Arianne Mae Gonzales is getting this year’s Journalism Award for serving as editor-in-chief of The Corps magazine.

Rounding up the top 10 list are Cadets First Class Prolen Bonacua of Valenzuela City, third; Jesse Nestor Saludo of Cavite, fourth; Leode John Tulang of Agusan del Sur, sixth; Mark Ferdinand Villamin of Batangas, seventh; and Jhed Dumocloy of Cagayan, ninth.

Lanaja is joining the Philippine Army, along with 66 other cadets (11 of them female), said Lt. Gen. Irineo Espino, PMA superintendent.

He said 24 other cadets are joining the Philippine Air Force, including three female cadets, while 33 others are joining the Philippine Navy, including Balais and four other female cadets.

Asked why she preferred the Navy, Balais said the world’s attention has shifted to the seas, where marine boundary feuds could require the service of the soldier.

Wounded cadet

One Pugad Kalis member won’t be joining the graduation. Cadet First Class Alfonso Aviles, who was shot and wounded when he tried to prevent an August 2012 jeepney robbery, had not completed the requirements needed to graduate, Espino said.

Aviles may not even be allowed to join the ceremonies by his doctors while he undergoes therapy for his wounds, Espino said.

He said the graduating cadets were aware of the political conflicts that had made the headlines—from the maritime dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea that began last year to the ongoing clashes in Sabah between Malaysian troops and armed men serving the sultanate of Sulu.

Last year, Espino said the PMA invited Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing to speak to the cadets.

“[The cadets raised] very interesting questions,” he said.

Pudang Kalis is also the first class to join a PMA stakeholders engagement program, which required them to live with communities in 16 villages of La Trinidad, Benguet, to understand their lives and the problems that they face each day, said Lt. Col. Jose Demar Pauly, PMA assistant chief of academy staff for civil military operations.

Espino said PMA training provided cadets the foundation for managing a crisis and they must learn to confront these problems at their own pace.

Balais said it was a task for which she was prepared. “My motivation comes from my mom. I would imagine myself wearing the uniform,” she said.

Flat broke

Cadets also learn to deal with problems they have confronted as children, Lanaja said.

“I stopped for one year [in high school]. Walang wala (We were broke). I would not force my family to keep me in school. I worked odd jobs instead,” he said.

“One of my first jobs was to harvest sugarcane [in a plantation owned by a company]… Working on the plantation meant we earned according to how many we were able to bundle. Each bundle, at least during my younger years, was P1.25. Older workers could collect up to a hundred bundles but since I was new in the game, all I could manage in a day was 50 bundles,” he said.

Lanaja said his parents, Antonio and Erlinda, were unemployed. But the hard life he experienced gave him the perspective he could use as a military officer, he said.

Because of scholarships, Lanaja finished high school and completed a full year enrolled in an electrical technology course when he took the PMA entrance examinations in 2008.

Aside from receiving the Presidential Saber, the PMA’s top academic award, he will also receive the Philippine Army Saber, the academic group award, plaques and citations for excellence in computing and information sciences and for the Army professional course, the Jusmag (Joint United States Military Assistance Group) Award, the General Antonio Luna Award and the Spanish Armed Forces Award.

Sam Miguel
03-20-2013, 08:53 AM
Military joins court battle vs SM over Fort Bonifacio land

By Doris C. Dumlao

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:36 pm | Friday, February 22nd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The military and defense establishment has joined the state-controlled Bases Conversion Development Authority in a legal battle against tycoon Henry Sy’s property unit SM Land over the privatization of a 33-hectare piece of prime property at the southern edge of the former Fort Bonifacio army camp.

The Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines filed at the Supreme Court on Thursday a petition to be allowed to intervene in an ongoing court case involving SM Land, which earlier managed to obtain from the Supreme Court a restraining order against the BCDA’s auction of the property.

The “intervenors” argued the need to prioritize the enhancement of the capability of the AFP as an institution to provide national security instead of SM Land’s commercial interests, noting that the AFP Modernization Program relied on the disposition of Metro Manila military camps for funds to modernize the Armed Forces.

The DND and AFP said they had a legal interest in this case and that their intervention was necessary. The petition noted that the AFP would stand to receive at least 50 percent from the proceeds of bidding for joint partnership in the development of a 33.1-hectare prime property in Fort Bonifacio known as the Bonifacio South Pointe. As such, they asked the Supreme Court to lift a restraining order on the BCDA’s bidding out of this disputed property.

SM Land, which had earlier submitted an unsolicited proposal to develop this property, obtained last January 9 a temporary restraining order against BCDA’s auction of the development right over this property. SM Land sought recognition as an original project proponent, which meant that instead of a public bidding, the privatization of development rights must be subjected to a Swiss challenge, where other parties can submit an improved offer but SM Land can match the best alternative offer.

The petition from the DND and AFP, however, argued that “the exigency of the AFP modernization program cannot be overemphasized.” For the next five years alone, the petition noted that the AFP would need at least P15 billion per year to upgrade its capabilities and “provide the country with a minimum credible defense posture.”

“BCDA is offering the public-private partnership (PPP) for the development of the property subject of this controversy to open public bidding in order to realize the optimum value for the property, and correspondingly, maximize proceeds from the activity,” the petition said.

The petition argued that the BCDA was not bound to declare SM Land as original proponent, citing the BCDA’s findings that the SM group’s revised proposal was “prejudicial” to government interest “for it will not yield the best value for the government and that it will be better to allow fair, transparent and open market competition to dictate the best value considering the prime value of the property.”

As such, the DND and AFP asked the Supreme Court to admit its comment-in-intervention and direct SM Land to reply, if necessary. It also asked the high court to consider its comments in resolving the petition.

“The AFP Modernization Program entails the development and employment of certain capabilities that can address assessed threats. The objectives of the program include the development and transformation of the AFP into a multi-mission oriented force capable of effectively addressing internal and external security threats,” the petition said.

The Inquirer asked for the SM group’s side on this matter but no comments were issued as of late Friday afternoon.

Sam Miguel
05-14-2013, 10:59 AM
Military to acquire P40-M grenades

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 2, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will acquire close to P40 million worth of hand grenades to be used for security operations.

A bid bulletin published in The STAR yesterday showed that the AFP will acquire 11,364 smoke grenades and 11,460 fragmentation grenades.

The government has allotted P19.944 million for the smoke grenades and P19.998 million for the fragmentation grenades.

The opening of bids will be on May 20 at the AFP Bids and Awards Committee Conference Room in Camp Aguinaldo.

The AFP assures the public that the process would comply with the provisions of the procurement law.

The acquisitions of smoke and fragmentation hand grenades are separate projects. Interested parties can submit bids for one project or for both.

To be qualified, prospective bidders should have undertaken similar projects within the last five years.

Bidders should have inked a single contract equivalent to at least 25 percent of the approved budget for each project.

They should also have completed at least two similar contracts, the total amount of which should be equivalent to at least 25 percent of the approved budget for the project.

The larger of the two contracts must be equivalent to at least 12.5 percent of the approved budget for the project.

Prospective suppliers may buy a set of bid documents worth P6,000 for each project from May 2 to 29 in Camp Aguinaldo. — Alexis Romero

Sam Miguel
05-24-2013, 07:46 AM
Out of the doldrums

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:01 pm | Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

At the rites marking the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Navy, President Aquino announced a P75-billion upgrade for the service. It is a necessary investment, but hardly sufficient. In terms both absolute (number of ships in service) and relative (in proportion to the size of the archipelago), the Navy is the weakest in the region. But at least the country’s naval force seems to have finally sailed out of the doldrums of fiscal and strategic neglect.

The plan calls for acquiring five ships by 2017: two new frigates and three fast patrol boats. In addition, the upgrade calls for two antisubmarine helicopters and eight amphibious assault vehicles. The P75-billion budget is on top of the P28 billion already spent on the Navy in the last two years, much of it to acquire and refurbish two US Coast Guard cutters (the first is already in service).

Not exactly a blue-water navy, but then our objectives are limited to defending Philippine territory. Is the upgrade enough, to deter regional piracy or Taiwanese obstreperousness or Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea? That remains to be seen, but there is no debate about the need to quickly make the Navy shipshape. The P100-billion-plus outlay over the next few years may seem big, especially when compared to the budget allotted for the controversial conditional cash transfer program, but it is part of the price we have to pay for defending our sovereignty.

When President Aquino spoke at the Navy rites of having “the capability to resist bullies entering our backyard,” many Filipinos must have thought he was referring to either the Taiwanese or the Chinese. Taipei may be in the news now, but in fact it is Beijing that is the long-term problem. Precisely because the problem is for the long haul, the military build-up must be seen as only part of the solution. Much still depends on the continuing work on both the diplomatic and legal fronts. But an improved military posture can only be an advantage in diplomacy, and demonstrates a commitment to defend what is legally ours.

In other words, we understand the expensive Navy upgrade as a necessary component of a larger defensive strategy: We can demand better terms if we negotiate or argue from a position of relative strength.

To be sure, there is no comparison with China’s own military build-up, the annual budget of which is about a hundred times more than the cost of our naval upgrade. But it is the unprecedented aggressiveness of the Chinese government itself, in claiming almost all of the South China Sea and in occupying island groups under Philippine control or within the Philippine exclusive economic zone, which has raised tensions in the region.

(It must also be pointed out that the Armed Forces’ renewed emphasis on external defense was made possible in part by the progress made in the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the continuing decline in the number of New People’s Army regulars. There is a slow pivot away from the AFP’s counterinsurgency orientation.)

We must note, however, that this is not the first time that AFP modernization has received generous fiscal support. Unfortunately, much of the money was frittered away, with the corruption scandals involving generous retirement packages for generals and free-spending comptrollers the only visible trace of some of that cash. Will the billions of pesos spent on the upgrade of the Navy, the acquisition of new planes for the Air Force, the purchase of new weapons for the Army, come down a few years from now to familiar tales of corruption?

Considering the threats looming on the horizon, the usual “pabaon” for retiring generals should be considered an act of treason.

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 08:09 AM
Warship from US here next month

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:45 am | Sunday, May 26th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—Amid aggressive external threats to its sovereignty, the Philippines’ defense capabilities will get a boost with the arrival next month of its latest naval asset acquired from the United States.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a decommissioned US Coast Guard cutter which the Philippines acquired a year ago, has completed sea trials in preparation for its trip to its new home port in the Philippines, the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Alcaraz would form part of the country’s naval forces buildup amid tense maritime disputes, particularly with China, in the West Philippine Sea.

“The acquisition of the Alcaraz is part of the Philippines’ effort at building a minimum credible defense posture, especially in upholding our maritime security, search and rescue activities, and disaster response,” said DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez.

The 115-meter ship, a Hamilton-class cutter that served as the US Coast Guard’s USCGC Dallas for more than 40 years, underwent sea trials from May 20 to 23, the Philippine Embassy said.

The ship was refurbished and refitted at a cost of $15.5 million (P620 million) after the Philippines acquired it in May last year while its 14 officers and 74 crew underwent training.

The ship was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a navy officer who commanded a patrol boat that shot down three Japanese aircraft during World War II. Tarra Quismundo

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 08:13 AM
NPA landmine kills 8 cops in Cagayan

Red attack comes after Sayyaf clash

By Melvin Gascon, Villamor Visaya Jr., Marlon Ramos

Inquirer Northern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:03 am | Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Two days after Abu Sayyaf gunfire mowed down seven Marines on southern Jolo Island, a landmine planted by communist rebels killed eight policemen on their way to a medical examination in the north of the country.

The police officers of Cagayan’s Special Action Force were riding in an Isuzu Elf truck en route to a hospital in Allacapan town in Cagayan when they were ambushed at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

Seven other policemen who fought back were wounded.

Officials said the surviving policemen had described encountering almost unending gunfire before the communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas withdrew.

“An improvised bomb was first exploded as the vehicle reached a bend on the dirt road, then the gunmen opened fire from an elevated portion of the roadside,” Senior Supt. Gregorio Lim, Cagayan provincial police director, said in a phone interview.

The attackers set off the bomb using a 25-meter-long detonation cord as the police truck came, Lim said. “Our men managed to fight back but they were just heavily outnumbered,” he said.

The blast was so powerful it completely destroyed the truck and mangled the victims’ bodies, a picture of the scene showed.

It was the second major attack by insurgents on government forces in the past two days.

On Saturday, seven Marines were killed when they ran into a gang of Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu province, setting off an exchange of fire. Seven of the bandits were killed while nine other Marines were wounded in the clash.

The 15-member team of the 24th Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police were on their way to Allapacan to undergo an electrocardiogram procedure, according to Inspector Cesar Orlanes, spokesman of the Cagayan provincial police office.

He said the policemen were on a marked PNP vehicle when the rebels set off the landmine placed in the middle of the road at the boundary of Barangay (village) Cataran and Barangay Centro West.

“After the rebels detonated the landmine, they opened fire,” Orlanes told the Inquirer by phone. “The initial report stated that the rebels placed the landmine in the middle of the road.”

Police casualties

Police identified the fatalities as Police Officers 2 Dexter Cubilla, Angelbert Mateo, Elmark Rodney Pinated, Jonnel Bowat and Ronald Castulo, Police Officers 1 Erick Brioso and Jerome Sanchez and PO3 Vladimir Tabarejo.

Wounded were Police Officers 2 Ronald Gomez, Geopano Adangui, Ricky Monay, Jeofrey Liagao Amiligan and Jeofrey Elasco, and Police Officers 1 Ephraim Dolete and Ryan Asunio.

Orlanes said communist insurgents were known to operate in the area where the attack occurred. He said government forces also engaged NPA rebels in a firefight in Allapacan three months ago.

The rebels made off with four special operations assault rifles, one M-16 assault rifle and seven short firearms of the policemen before fleeing to a mountainous village, he said.

“Our troops are still in the area to pursue the rebels,” Orlanes said.

Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesman, said about 30 members of the NPA’s Danilo Ben Command took part in the ambush. Elements of the Army’s 21st Infantry Brigade were deployed to help pursue the rebels.

Cerbo said the PNP had ordered the police nationwide, particularly in areas where NPA rebels operate, to be extra-cautious about their movements in the wake of the attack.

“We remind our police units to ensure their operational readiness, be security-conscious and observe extra precaution when moving in remote areas,” Cerbo said in a news briefing at Camp Crame.

Orlanes said the policemen were not on patrol operations when they were ambushed. “They were wearing police athletic uniforms and were supposed to see a PNP medical team to undergo an ECG,” he said.

Hot pursuit

Asked if the PNP would look into possible operational lapses, Cerbo said: “Right now, that is not our priority. Our focus is to secure our men on the field and conduct hot-pursuit operations to arrest those responsible for the ambush.”

The ambush site was littered with propaganda flyers extolling the Danilo Ben Command.

“I have yet to read the contents of those flyers to find out what could be the issues that they were raising which prompted them to launch this attack,’’ Lim said.

The area where the policemen were attacked is 2 kilometers from the Allacapan police station, according to Lt. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, who heads the Northern Luzon Command.

The ambush was the second violent incident in Allacapan in three weeks. On April 27, before the May 13 elections, six armed men burned a gasoline tanker along the national highway. The tanker was loaded with gasoline worth P1.3 million. The tanker’s driver was unhurt.

Hit-and-run attacks

Allacapan is a third-class town with an average annual income of between P35 million and P45 million, and a population of 29,821 people, based on the 2010 census.

Hit-and-run attacks are common in the 44-year Marxist insurgency, which has claimed more than 120,000 lives at least in the past four decades.

Security forces have been stretched thin fighting communist rebels while also battling the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines.

The government recently suspended peace talks with the communists brokered by Norway after the rebels rejected an immediate ceasefire.

The NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.—With a report from AP

Sam Miguel
05-28-2013, 08:16 AM
AFP: Marines can fire back

By Marlon Ramos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:52 am | Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Tell it to the Marines.

That was basically the angry reply on Monday of Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to a comment by retired Marine Col. Ariel Querubin that Marines on a test mission were not supposed to engage the enemy in battle.

Bautista brushed aside Querubin’s statement to the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Sunday suggesting that the killings of seven Marines on Saturday in Patikul, Sulu province, by Abu Sayyaf bandits might have been caused by a breach in military protocol.

Like any other soldier, the Marines are trained to engage and fire back at the enemy when the situation calls for it, Bautista said during a visit at the wake of the fallen soldiers at Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

“You cannot discount the possibility of an encounter whether you are in training or not. That is a possibility and that is what we prepare for,” he said. He ruled out an AFP review of the training doctrine of the Marine reconnaissance team despite Saturday’s incident, in which seven Abu Sayyaf men were also killed.

“That is part of the curriculum of the training of the Marines, of the Force Recon,” Bautista stressed.

‘Unfounded’

Bautista said most of Querubin’s statements were “unfounded.”

“I don’t think that is the real situation. Colonel Querubin has long been retired,” Bautista told reporters.

In the interview with the Inquirer, Querubin said the members of the First Reconnaissance Battalion led by 2nd Lt. Alfredo Lorin VI, who were sent on a test mission as part of their training, should not have fought it out with the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Lorin, a 26-year-old graduate of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 2011, was killed in the encounter.

“We still haven’t learned our lessons,” Querubin said, pointing out that Marines belonging to recon teams were deployed only to “gather data and pass the data to the operating troops.”

Querubin is a former superintendent of the Philippine Marine Corps Training Center. The member of the PMA Class 1979 was awarded the Medal of Valor—the highest military honor for bravery in combat—for leading the liberation of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March 2000.

He also led a military operation that killed Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya in a sea encounter off Zamboanga del Norte in 2002.

Bautista said an investigation into Saturday’s incident had begun as part of the AFP’s standard operating procedure after a military operation “whether the outcome is positive or negative.”

“We conduct inquiries for the lessons we may learn out of these incidents. In fact, we document these and publish the lessons we learned,” he said.

Probe team

Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano, the Philippine Navy chief, said the investigative team would “look into the exact reasons behind the event” and “correct and improve our doctrines as far as conducting our operations is concerned.”

The team left Zamboanga City Monday for Sulu, said Lt. Vladimir Cabrera, Marine spokesman.

The Navy chief said that while the slain Marines were on a test mission, they were all experienced soldiers. He said their deployment was part of their training to improve their skills as members of the elite team of the Marines.

“It is part of the training and skills requirement that we are trying to develop for all sailors and marines. They must have the necessary skills in order to do what they are supposed to be doing,” Alano said.

The Navy chief said the two teams of the Marine recon unit were actually sent on Saturday to perform route security operations in Barangay Tugas in Patikul, Sulu, when a firefight broke out in a “meeting-encounter” with the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“They were actually doing a route security preparing for the deployment of other follow-on forces. The incident happened actually within or near the vicinity of their main maneuvering base,” Alano said.

“Part of the standard procedures before you have a main body moving out to any destination maneuver make sure that the area is cleared. Now this forms part of the doctrines that we do as far as the conduct of operations is concerned.”—[I]With reports from Julie S. Alipala and Jeofrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:17 AM
Sitting ducks?

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:24 pm | Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

It’s something every military family dreads, and for the Lorin family of Zamboanga City, the devastating news came last weekend: 2nd Lt. Alfredo Lorin VI, “Limboy” to kith and kin and the sixth of eight children, was dead. Along with six other young Marines, he was killed in a clash with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu, on May 25.

But was it really an encounter, or an ambush? While the military has described the incident as a “chance meeting-encounter” between the soldiers and an armed group of 50 men in Tugas, a hilly jungle in Patikul, a report by the town police said it was more an ambush, thus the high number of casualties among the soldiers—five Marines killed on the spot and nine others wounded.

Lorin, 26, led the group of soldiers whose purported mission was to track down the kidnappers of Casilda Villarasa, a Marine’s wife who worked as a medical technologist at the Sulu Provincial Hospital. She was kidnapped a week ago and released on May 24.

Senior Insp. Conrad William Gutierrez, chief of the Patikul police, said the soldiers were heading to their detachment when “they were ambushed.” But Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade and head of Joint Task Force Sulu, had a different scenario: “Our troops were not able to reposition and retaliate because the engagement was within the civilian area, which is adjacent to a mosque. The attackers took advantage of the civilians, thus making it more difficult for our troops to fire back.”

Such conflicting reports can only raise questions and speculations. Already, an old hand in incidents like this has taken issue with the military’s version of and explanation for the bloodbath. If retired colonel Ariel Querubin, a former superintendent of the Philippine Marine Corps Training Center, is to be believed, the soldiers indeed could have had difficulty firing back—but perhaps not because of poor location, as Cenabre has asserted, but because they weren’t allowed to do so.

“They were on a test mission,” said Querubin, a decorated officer in his prime. “These were students—they may be the best considering they were with the Recon (reconnaissance team), they belonged to the Marines’ elite team, but the doctrine of the Recon is basically just to go out there to gather data. They are not there to engage their enemies.”

A test mission is usually given to any specialized elite unit of the military, according to Querubin. The “class” runs for at least six months, and the students apply on the ground whatever they learn for that period, he said. Upon completion of the test mission, “they automatically graduate and become part of the regular forces of the Recon Battalion.” Querubin said recon units are “the chosen ones,” the best of each battalion. But unlike the Special Forces and Scout Rangers, these units are not allowed to engage their enemies and “are there to gather data and pass the data to the operating troops.”

So what happened? Why did these soldiers on a supposed test mission become apparent sitting ducks for the Abu Sayyaf?

Querubin conceded it was too early to claim lapses in the operation, but he hinted at problematic decision-making in the military hierarchy: “The problem with the senior officers, they always look up to the elite forces as supermen. Definitely, these units will never say no because they belong to elite forces.” He recalled a similar test mission in August 2007 that also ended in the killing of five junior officers in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan. “After that, when the doctrine on Recon was strictly followed, there were no more casualties when there were test missions,” he said.

Were short cuts made in the planning, preparation and eventual deployment of the soldiers into the territory of an enemy, which incidentally the military has constantly described as a spent force? Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the Armed Forces chief of staff, has angrily dismissed Querubin’s remarks. But the military owes it to the bereaved families, and to the public at large, to get at the truth and to ensure that these young soldiers are not recklessly being put in harm’s way.

Any loss of life is tragic, and doubly so in the case of bright young men like Lorin who, born to a poor family, graduated valedictorian from grade school, was both a working student and a scholar in high school, and then made it to the elite Philippine Military Academy—only to be cut down so soon, and in a manner that demands frank, no-spin answers.

Sam Miguel
05-29-2013, 08:21 AM
^^^ Not to put too fine a point on it, or even to stick it to those already mourning, but whenever someone puts on a solider's uniform and carries a weapon, regardless of circumstance, one foot is already in the grave. Test mission, regular mission, or even just minding the unit office, a soldier on duty is always flirting with death. Yes, we grieve, we sympathize, we hate and advocate the total eradication of all enemies of the state. But please, the only real doctrine to be followed while in the line of duty is what they do in boxing: defend yourself at all times.

Sam Miguel
05-30-2013, 09:14 AM
First missile-firing warship for Phl Navy due to arrive

By Jaime Laude

(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 30, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy will have its first missile-firing capable warship with the scheduled arrival of BRP Ramon Alcaraz, a decommissioned United States Coast Guard cutter the government has bought.

Defense and military sources said yesterday the Alcaraz (PF-16) is due to arrive in the country either by July or August. It has been fitted with anti-ship harpoon missiles.

“Her weapon system is heavier and more sophisticated compared to her sister ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar,” sources said.

Aside from harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, Alcaraz is armed with 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, two 25-bushmaster guns and heavy machineguns.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is only armed with 76mm Oto Melara gun when it was acquired in 2011, with the defense and military leadership spending more to enhance its capabilities.

Alcaraz has already completed its three-day sea trial off South Carolina where it underwent major engine repairs and refurbishment for several months before it was turned over to the Philippines last year.

“With the arrival of our second Hamilton-class cutter, converted into a frigate, the Navy will have its first missile-firing warship,” a military official said.

Alcaraz weighs 3,250 tons, has a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet.

Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

When deployed, Alcaraz, with a total of 167 officers and men complement, will have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and can stay in the high seas for 45 days.

Joescoundrel
06-04-2013, 01:10 PM
Two guys I worked with before at HPAF in Villamor, congratulations Sir Roy and Sir John.

22 generals, flag officers promoted

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

3:33 pm | Monday, June 3rd, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III approved the promotion of 22 generals and flag officers holding key positions in the military including heads of unified area commands.

Promoted to Lieutenant General were Major General Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo, the Chief of the Southern Luzon Command; Maj. Gen. Roy O. Deveraturda, Chief of Central Command; and Maj. Gen. Rustico O. Guerrero, Chief of Western Command. They all received their new ranks Monday morning in a donning ceremony at the General Headquarters canopy area, headed by AFP Chief General Emmanuel Bautista.

The newly promoted generals include Brigadier General Marian C. Aleido, the current and first female Judge Advocate General.

She is the seventh female general from the Technical Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Promoted to the rank of Major General were Brigadier General Crisologo M. Nayve, Brig. Gen. Romeo L. Gapuz, Brig. Gen. Richard C. Siga-an and Brig. Gen. John S. Bonafos while Commodore Jesus C. Millan and Commodore Leopoldo M. Alano were promoted to Rear Admiral.

Promoted to the rank of Brigadier General were Col. Wilfredo S. Bonilla, Col. Francisco M. Patrimonio, Col. Romeo G. Gan, Col. Mayoralgo M. Dela Cruz, Col. John G. Estoesta, Col. Reynaldo R. Castillo, Colonel Oscar T. Lactao, Col. Marian C. Aleido, Col. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

The new Commodores were Navy Captain Joel T. Dela Cruz, Capt. Roland Joseph S. Mercado, Capt. Antonio A. Habulan, and Capt. Franco Sebastian T. Pan.

AFP Public Affairs chief Major Ramon Zagala welcomed the newly promoted generals and flag officers.

“Promotion in the AFP is a constant, dynamic, and vital process which the organization has to undertake. This is done to ensure that the right key-players are placed in the forefront to maintain the organization’s momentum towards growth and development. It is also part of the military’s campaign of fostering professionalism as a primary trait to enforce adherence to the chain of command which will help the soldiers perform their duties efficiently and effectively,” he said in a statement.

Joescoundrel
06-11-2013, 10:00 AM
Country’s 2nd warship starts voyage from US to PH

BRP Ramon Alcaraz set to arrive in August

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

7:36 am | Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines’ second warship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16), has started its voyage to its new home from Charleston in South Carolina, USA.

“BRP Ramon Alcaraz gets ready for voyage to the #Philippines. Fair winds, blue skies and following seas!” the Philippine Embassy in Washington posted in its Twitter account (@philippineusa) at 9:40 p.m. Monday (Philippine time).

The Philippine embassy also quoted Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz as saying, “We have finally embarked on our maiden voyage to our motherland.” It said the warship left South Carolina 10 a.m. Monday (US time).

“Expectations are high but I am sure the men and women of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will live up to those expectations,” he added.

Before departure, the Filipino crew of the warship had “emotional farewells” from the members of the Filipino community in Charleston.

“Filipinos in Charleston served as foster families of officers and crew of Alcaraz during (their) 13-month stay in South Carolina,” the embassy tweeted.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz is a 378-foot decommissioned US Coast Guard ship that the Philippines acquired last year. It underwent $15.5 million (P620 million) worth of retrofitting and refurbishment. It finished a month of sea trials before making its voyage to the Philippines. It is expected to arrive in the first week of August.

The Hamilton-class weather high endurance cutter had served the US Coast Guard for four decades. It was acquired by the Philippine Navy under the Excess Defense Article Military Assistance Program of the US.

The warship is named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a World War II hero who shot down three enemy aircraft while he was aboard an offshore patrol boat.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz will join BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country’s first warship, which was acquired in 2011. It is a 48-year-old Hamilton-class cutter that underwent P450-million refurbishment.

Joescoundrel
06-16-2013, 09:48 AM
Gov’t mulls purchase of missiles for defense

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:25 am | Sunday, June 16th, 2013

The Department of National Defense (DND) plans to acquire anti-aircraft guided missiles, which will be positioned in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as part of the country’s first-ever missile defense system.

Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang disclosed late Saturday that this proposal had reached Malacañang and had been the subject of many discussions among Cabinet members.

“It’s (the missile acquisition) been talked about but I don’t know if we’ve made a decision (yet),” said Carandang, who regularly attends meetings of the Cabinet cluster on national security.

Amid fresh Chinese incursions into Philippine waters, Carandang said that what the Navy needed was “sea vessels.” He did not elaborate.

A Palace spokesperson, Undersecretary Abigail Valte, neither confirmed nor denied when asked in a radio interview on Saturday if the defense establishment was about to purchase missiles to bolster its firepower amid tensions in the Scarborough Shoal.

“I will defer comment on the particular system that is being mentioned and I will coordinate with the DND,” said Valte, who also declined to confirm if Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was set to fly to Israel next week to look for missile suppliers.

Valte, however, mentioned the DND’s plan to upgrade the military’s hardware as part of the long-delayed modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“But as far as procuring equipment is concerned, we all know that we are in the process of getting—of upgrading—or at least leveling up on the hardware that we currently have in order to meet the needs of our soldiers,” said Valte.

She promised to look into the military’s “wish list for procurement before commenting” on the reported missile defense plan of the AFP.

Since last month, Palace spokespersons have been talking about the military achieving a “minimum credible defense” to defend the country’s territory, especially in the West Philippine Sea where China has staked a claim on disputed islands and waters.

In his speech on Independence Day, President Aquino vowed to defend the country’s sovereignty in a veiled message to China whose military firepower—whether conventional or nonconventional weapons—could easily smash the antiquated hardware of the AFP.

During the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in May, the President announced that the P75-billion modernization budget for the AFP—approved last year—was being pursued by his administration.

He said the military upgrade would help defend the country’s maritime territory against “bullies.”

Joescoundrel
06-16-2013, 10:33 AM
And once again the highly controversial Abadias are in the news...

Retired general ordered to pay gov’t P11.2M

By Cynthia D. Balana

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:15 am | Friday, June 14th, 2013

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Lisandro Abadia and his wife have been ordered by the Sandiganbayan to pay the government P11.26 million, which the court declared as ill-gotten wealth, or face forfeiture of their assets equivalent to the amount.

The antigraft court’s 3rd Division, in a decision issued on June 13, ruled in favor of the Ombudsman which had filed the forfeiture petition and accused the Abadias of amassing unexplained wealth during the retired general’s term as head of the AFP.

The court said Abadia failed to explain convincingly to the court how his declared net worth in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) rose from P3.77 million in 1991 to P6.476 million in 1992, and to P13.61 million in 1993.

Abadia, a four-star general, served in the AFP for 36 years. He started his military service in 1958, retiring in 1994. He served as chief of staff from 1991 under President Corazon Aquino, until 1994 under President Fidel Ramos.

In 2005, then Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio filed a forfeiture petition against Abadia, noting the discrepancies in his SALN.

According to the evidence submitted to the court, Abadia’s total disposable income from 1987 to 1993 was only P2.63 million while family expenditures over the same period amounted to P2.77 million.

The court took into account the sum of P280,000 raised from the sale of Abadia’s property in Bicutan, Parañaque, saying this should have brought his net worth in 1993 to P2.35 million, not P13.61 million as declared in his 1993 SALN, or a difference of P11.26 million.

In his defense, Abadia claimed his 1992 income went up because he sold a piece of property for P2.55 million.

The prosecution, however, presented a deed of sale showing the selling price was only P200,000 although both documents—the prosecution’s and Abadia’s—pertained to the same lot with “the same area, metes and bounds.”

For 1993, Abadia said he received P3.275 million representing full payment for 10,000 shares of Antipolo Properties Inc. which he sold that year to a certain “V. Takai.”

Sam Miguel
06-18-2013, 09:24 AM
Gov’t mulls purchase of missiles for defense

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:25 am | Sunday, June 16th, 2013

The Department of National Defense (DND) plans to acquire anti-aircraft guided missiles, which will be positioned in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as part of the country’s first-ever missile defense system.

Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang disclosed late Saturday that this proposal had reached Malacañang and had been the subject of many discussions among Cabinet members.

“It’s (the missile acquisition) been talked about but I don’t know if we’ve made a decision (yet),” said Carandang, who regularly attends meetings of the Cabinet cluster on national security.

Amid fresh Chinese incursions into Philippine waters, Carandang said that what the Navy needed was “sea vessels.” He did not elaborate.

A Palace spokesperson, Undersecretary Abigail Valte, neither confirmed nor denied when asked in a radio interview on Saturday if the defense establishment was about to purchase missiles to bolster its firepower amid tensions in the Scarborough Shoal.

“I will defer comment on the particular system that is being mentioned and I will coordinate with the DND,” said Valte, who also declined to confirm if Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was set to fly to Israel next week to look for missile suppliers.

Valte, however, mentioned the DND’s plan to upgrade the military’s hardware as part of the long-delayed modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“But as far as procuring equipment is concerned, we all know that we are in the process of getting—of upgrading—or at least leveling up on the hardware that we currently have in order to meet the needs of our soldiers,” said Valte.

She promised to look into the military’s “wish list for procurement before commenting” on the reported missile defense plan of the AFP.

Since last month, Palace spokespersons have been talking about the military achieving a “minimum credible defense” to defend the country’s territory, especially in the West Philippine Sea where China has staked a claim on disputed islands and waters.

In his speech on Independence Day, President Aquino vowed to defend the country’s sovereignty in a veiled message to China whose military firepower—whether conventional or nonconventional weapons—could easily smash the antiquated hardware of the AFP.

During the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in May, the President announced that the P75-billion modernization budget for the AFP—approved last year—was being pursued by his administration.

He said the military upgrade would help defend the country’s maritime territory against “bullies.”

Sam Miguel
07-02-2013, 08:13 AM
Aquino vows to beef up Philippines’ air power

By Nikko Dizon, Tonette Orejas

Inquirer Central Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:02 am | Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

CLARK FREEPORT—A brand-new Sokol helicopter and an SF-260TP jet flew together with newly repaired aircraft on Monday, displaying flight precision to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

It was the first time the event was held in this former US air base and it had nothing to do with the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China—but more because of congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

The decline in air power did not escape President Aquino, who vowed in his speech at the gathering to spend P75 billion to modernize the defense capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in five years.

“While we look back at the rich history of the Philippine Air Force, there is one thing that is noticeable: While we, in 1963, had the capability to help and send squadrons to other nations, why is it that in the last decades, it seemed that the wing of our Air Force had been clipped, and we rely only on old, rickety planes and equipment?” Aquino said.

Repeating a familiar theme of past neglect, the President slammed previous administrations that “ignored the well-being and interest of Filipino soldiers” while “intoxicated with power.”

Despite its problems, the PAF remained true to its basic principles of defending the rights and freedom of the nation and for coming to the aid of those affected by accidents, disasters, disease and poverty, according to the President.

New face

“This morning, in celebrating the 66th anniversary of the PAF, the government shows a new face and our soldiers display a new face to the world,” Aquino said, adding that in just three years, the PAF is “flying with a new strength toward a stable future.”

He said the P28-billion modernization expenditures for the AFP in the first 19 months of his term almost equaled the P33 billion that three previous administrations spent on the same program.

Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol, PAF spokesman, said P43 billion of the P75 billion set aside for the AFP modernization would go to the PAF and Philippine Navy upgrades.

Okol said Clark hosted the event for the first time because it offered air space that could accommodate aerobatic shows without disturbing the flight plans of commercial airlines, unlike Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

The ceremonial flyby consisted of aircraft such as the F-27, the Sokol, MG-520, UH-1H, Huey II, C-130, F-28, Nomad-22 and D-211. The SF-260 Marchettis and T41-D trainer airplanes made the “66” formation.

Aquino thanked Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for having the dedication and initiative to raise the capability and quality of the AFP, and Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino de la Cruz, PAF commander, for his leadership.

Maintenance wing

Aside from supporting the peace process in Mindanao and responding to disasters, the PAF reported making 28,300 sorties, 1,500 ground operations and 4,700 civil-military operations in 2012.

Aquino praised the PAF for attaining 99.6 percent in financial obligation efficiency, per the rating by the Department of Budget and Management.

The President also congratulated the 410th Maintenance Wing based in Clark for making a first: the repair of a C-130 transport plane.

He thanked the PAF for surpassing limitations by succeeding in the rehabilitation of 17 M-35 trucks, one N-22 Nomad transport aircraft, one UH-1H utility helicopter, one LC-210 aircraft and an MG-520 helicopter.

Aquino expressed despair over the crashes that had claimed the lives of PAF pilots and said that the search and retrieval operations for two pilots, whose plane crashed in Palawan province a week ago, were continuing.

“Expect that before I finish my term, guarding our air space are new and modern aircraft like lead-in fighters, long-range patrol aircraft, close air support aircraft, light-lift fixed-wing aircraft, medium-lift aircraft, attack helicopters, combat utility helicopters, air defense radars and flight simulators,” the President said.

This is possible, he added, if the government acts to meet the requirements of a modern AFP and if the people renew their respect and confidence in Filipino soldiers.

He urged PAF troops to wholeheartedly fulfill their tasks and make citizens “feel unafraid and safe.”

In his speech, De la Cruz described the PAF’s task of securing the archipelago as “a huge challenge.”

But he said the PAF “cannot be shaken from this task to protect the natural resources and property of the country.”

Sam Miguel
07-03-2013, 08:15 AM
Aquino defends use of bases by US, Japan

‘Our strategic partners need knowledge of PH terrain’

By Michael Lim Ubac

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:05 am | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

President Aquino said for the first time on Tuesday that the United States and Japan would have access to the former US bases in the Philippines to be able to forge a “credible alliance” but dismissed Chinese claims that Manila was provoking Beijing.

In an ambush interview in Camp Crame, Aquino stressed that giving the two countries access to the installations was “not permanent.”

The United States had maintained Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base—America’s largest overseas military facilities—until Mt. Pinatubo erupted in June 1991 and forced the shutdown of the installations. Three months later, the Senate voted 12-11 against renewing the Philippines-US Military Bases Agreement.

In 1999, the Philippines ratified the Visiting Forces Agreement allowing the United States to conduct joint exercises with Philippine forces in the country.

“Let’s clarify the access. They will not be a permanent fixture in the bases—but they are our allies. There are only two strategic partners that we have—it is America and Japan,” he said, explaining that “interoperability” was key to prepare forces allied with each other for any conflict.

This explains why the country has regular Balikatan exercises, which calls for “joint or shoulder-to-shoulder” military exercises, he said.

He stressed that failure to “coordinate” or “synchronize” the military deployment systems between forces of allied countries in case of a conflict “in my view is a wrong way to prepare, or no preparation at all.”

“So (foreign troops) need knowledge of our terrain, while we also need interoperability with them,” the President said.

Filipino troops can’t have military “practice outside of our territory,” he added.

“So it is but the natural circumstance of—if you want a credible alliance—then you will have to have mutual training and that will normally occur within our territory or the allies’ territory,” he stressed.

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin dismissed a foreign news report that the Philippines planned to build new air and naval bases that US forces could use to counter China’s creeping presence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Gazmin clarified that the Philippines would instead give the United States, Japan and other allies access to its military bases.

‘Seven sins’

In a front-page commentary, People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, warned last week that a “counterstrike” against the Philippines was inevitable if it continued to provoke China in the West Philippine Sea.

The commentary accused Manila of “seven sins,” citing its alleged “illegal occupation” of the Spratly Islands. It also blasted the Philippines for advocating the “internationalization” of the waters, a critical international maritime lane that has been under the close watch of Philippine allies, the United States in particular.

China issued its scathing criticism amid war games between the Philippines and the US Navy off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal where a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships occurred last year. At least three Chinese patrol vessels are known to still be in the area.

The Department of Foreign Affairs slammed China for issuing the “provocative statement.”

Peaceful option

On Tuesday, the President shrugged off Beijing’s claim that the Philippines was trying to provoke the Chinese government.

“It is in the Constitution, we renounce war as policy—(it is) prohibited,” he said when asked what circumstances would prompt the country to go beyond rhetoric in convincing China to abandon its aggressive stance in asserting ownership of Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Aquino made it clear that his administration would always advocate peaceful means of ending its territorial dispute with Beijing.

“Now, as we’ve been saying, we need a calm and honest-to-goodness talk, so that we could reach a solution that would be acceptable to all sides. So we opted for arbitration,” he said.

The President described his decision to seek mediation from the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea as the proper avenue so that “any state can pursue its own rights.”

The President stressed that, under his watch, the country would not risk a war with China, which is bigger and better armed both in conventional and nonconventional terms.

“We will try not to end up in any conflict since it seems contrary to our aim of peace and stability, and for all those involved in these territorial disputes to progress,” he said.

Proposals?

The President’s pronouncement belied what Malacañang deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte told the media on Friday.

Asked at a briefing if the planned access had been “green-lighted” by the President, she said that this was merely part of “proposals at the DND (Department of National Defense) level.”

Valte said that the DND was tasked to come up with proposals after “everybody has agreed on an increased rotational presence here, not just in the country, but the US also has announced that there will be a rebalancing of sorts in the region.”

“So knowing that there has already been an agreement on increased rotational presence, the DND is tasked with looking at how to operationalize this particular aspect and what was mentioned by Secretary Gazmin is but one of the modalities that they are looking into in order to operationalize that,” she said.

Valte said that “any proposal that will come out of it will certainly be done in accordance with the Constitution and the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

She stressed that the DND was “still studying” or “still in the process of looking at these things.”

Sam Miguel
07-09-2013, 08:18 AM
Gov’t forces capture 2 Moro rebel camps

By Jeoffrey Maitem, Charlie Señase Edwin O. Fernandez Karlos Manlupig

Inquirer Mindanao

1:16 am | Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

COTABATO CITY—The military on Monday called off an offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after capturing two camps of the breakaway insurgent group as peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) resumed in Malaysia.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said at least 30 BIFF fighters were killed in clashes over the weekend in villages of a vast marshland bordering the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Hermoso told the Inquirer that government forces captured the BIFF strongholds in the villages of Damalabas in Datu Piang town and Ganta in Shariff Saydona town, both in Maguindanao.

Hermoso’s body count and his report on the capture of the two BIFF camps could not be independently verified.

Village officials and witnesses have reported between 36 and 80 fighters of the BIFF, a splinter of the MILF, were killed in the fighting, according to other military officials.

BIFF: No casualties

But Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesman, denied his group suffered casualties.

“We learned in advance that they were coming,” Mama told the Inquirer by phone.

The BIFF fighters had set up defensive positions before the government forces arrived, Mama said.

“The threat to the peace process has been contained,” Hermoso declared.

“Their strongholds, where they met and planned how to launch attacks, have been captured by our soldiers,” he said.

“The offensive [has been halted], but troops in the region [have been] ordered to be vigilant,” he added.

Civilians hurt

An Army officer and four soldiers were killed in the clashes. Seven civilians were wounded by shrapnel during an alleged artillery shelling of Ganta.

Hermoso said the military was investigating reports of civilians hurt in the fighting.

“We conducted dialogues with local humanitarian groups regarding the matter. But we will help those conflict victims,” he said.

The fighting displaced about 5,000 residents of the two villages.

MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar on Monday appealed for an immediate end to the hostilities as the Muslim world began to commemorate the holy month of Ramadan.

Peace talks resume

“We have had enough of this (armed conflict) in the past and we are at it again at a time when we are about to observe Ramadan. Let’s put an end to this,” Jaafar said.

The fasting month of Ramadan starts Tuesday.

Despite the fighting in Mindanao, government and MILF negotiators resumed peace talks in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, six months after their last meeting in the Malaysian capital.

On the table was the controversial annex to the preliminary peace agreement proposing wealth-sharing between the government and the MILF in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region in Mindanao.

The government panel presented its proposal on the annex and the MILF panel submitted its counterproposal, officials said.

“The government’s proposal had more than 10 major points and we answered them point by point,” Jaafar said by phone from Mindanao.

Sensitive provisions included the shares of the government and the MILF in revenue from “energy sources” such as water, wind and, possibly, oil in the Bangsamoro territory, Jaafar said, but declined to go into specifics.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told a television interview that the MILF’s proposal was for a 75-25 percent “across the board sharing” in the group’s favor.

“We’re looking at the totality of the whole annex,” Ferrer told the Inquirer by phone on Monday night. “Included are the different ways of generating revenue for the Bangsamoro, and among these is the share in government income from different natural resources.”

Asked about the sharing proposed by the MILF, Ferrer said: “It’s not as simple as 75 to 25 percent. We’re talking about mineral resources, energy resources, and their share in collected taxes.”

Ferrer described the mood at the resumption of the talks as “very congenial.”

“Both parties share the intention to move forward to reach our goal faster and sooner,” she said.

“There’s a very positive outcome. We’ll see how we can be able to find closure to most of the issues,” she said.

The clashes between government forces and the BIFF over the weekend were not discussed.

The talks will continue on Tuesday.

Signing this week

Jaafar said the goal was to sign an agreement this week.

“We received information that the [government wants] an agreement signing after the meeting. That’s likely, but it all depends on the discussions,” Jaafar said.

“If the government embraces the MILF position with an open heart and mind, why not? If anybody wants to sign an agreement, that’s us,” he added.

The Inquirer tried to reach Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for comment, but she was attending a Cabinet meeting on the proposed budget for 2014.

The government and the MILF negotiators are on the last stage of peace talks, after signing a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in October last year.

The final peace agreement will be the pillar of Bangsamoro, a larger and more powerful Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Until the Army called off the offensive on Monday, there had been fears that the clashes would disrupt the observance of Ramadan, which could derail the Kuala Lumpur talks.

Malacañang promised, however, that the military “would keep the peace” during Ramadan.

Offensive halted

Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz, regional Army commander, ordered a halt to the offensive after the fall of the two BIFF camps.

“We don’t want the peace process derailed,” Gapuz said.

Jaafar said the military coordinated the offensive against the BIFF with the MILF.

But if the offensive continued, it would “bring so much hardship to Muslim believers who are fasting,” Jaafar said.

“Some will be forced to leave their homes. They will be displaced and be evacuated,” he said.

“[And] there’s the possibility that the clashes would unnecessarily involve our forces, and escalate into wider areas. That’s why the operations should be stopped,” he said.

“[The offensive] will not derail the talks provided [the fighting] does not escalate into bigger or wider areas,” he added.

Government troops and police, backed by artillery fire, attempted to capture several leaders of the BIFF in two hilly strongholds in Maguindanao on Saturday, but were fired upon, Hermoso said.

MILF fighters encamped near the scene of the clashes moved safely away to avoid being drawn into the fighting, said MILF spokesman Von al Haq, adding the violence would not likely hamper the peace talks in Kuala Lumpur.

Led by Ameril Umra Kato, the BIFF broke away from the MILF in 2008 after a botched peace agreement forged during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The BIFF rejected the MILF’s negotiating peace with the government, preferring to fight for an Islamic state in Mindanao.—With reports from TJ Burgonio in Manila and AP

Sam Miguel
07-09-2013, 08:18 AM
^^^ Make like Optimus Prime: "We will kill them all."

Sam Miguel
07-09-2013, 08:21 AM
‘PNPA is fried chicken; PMA is crispy pata’

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:12 am | Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

It’s one greasy proposition.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday defended its decision to consider once again letting graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) join the police force, saying the training provided by the police academy “may not be enough.”

Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP spokesman, compared graduates of the PNP Academy (PNPA) and the PMA to “fried chicken” and “crispy pata.”

“We should define the PMA as a leadership school (that) develops leaders. The PNP would like to avail itself of the leaders being produced by the PMA,” said Sindac at a news briefing in Camp Crame.

“The PNPA is also a leadership school but maybe it might not be enough. We want to have a variety of (sources for officers)… so it will not be all just fried chicken. We will also have crispy pata,” he said, referring to the popular Filipino deep-fried pork leg dish.

Parrying insinuations the proposal was really intended to let PMA graduates continue their hold on the leadership of the PNP, Sindac said the move would benefit the 148,000-strong police force.

He said the proposal made by the PMA Alumni Association Inc. (PMAAAI) had prompted the PNP Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development to create a technical working group to study the reentry of PMA graduates into the PNP.

Sindac, however, said the contents of the letter of PMA Cebu Squad Inc. legal counsel Rameses Victorious Villagonzalo to PNP Director General Alan Purisima and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista “do not necessarily reflect” the position of the PMAAAI.

In the letter dated Feb. 7, Villagonzalo sought the help of Purisima and Bautista, both members of PMA Class of 1981, in endorsing the PMAAAI’s proposal to President Aquino.

He also submitted a draft executive order “that allows [a] graduate exchange [between the] PMA and PNPA.”

“Its intention is to keep the PMA breed in control—both of the AFP and especially the PNP which has a fading number of cavaliers,” Villagonzalo had said.

Sindac, who belongs to PMA Class of 1984, said that allowing PMA graduates to join the PNP could be tricky, noting that the Local Government Code of 1990 barred alumni of the military school from entering law enforcement.

“As a graduate of the PMA, I must admit that the education, formation and training at the PMA are different. It’s the same thing with graduates of UP (University of the Philippines),” he said.—Marlon Ramos

Sam Miguel
07-09-2013, 08:23 AM
^^^ If I were the PNPA I would not take this sitting down. Military training and law enforcement training intersect only at a small, specific portion. On rules of engagement and primary mission they differ fundamentally.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2013, 08:20 AM
Gutsy officer in bungled raid found guilty, demoted

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:46 am | Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

“I fell here, I’ll rise here.”

A bemedaled Army officer kept up a brave front on Tuesday as he was found guilty by a general court-martial of bungling an operation against renegade guerrillas in Al-Barka town, Basilan province, two years ago, causing a clash that left 19 Special Forces soldiers dead.

The military tribunal demoted Lt. Col. Leonardo Peña, former commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, and banned him from handling a command for two years.

Peña’s punishment effectively derailed his stellar military career, as he cannot be promoted along with his classmates from Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1991.

The class has, in fact, been grooming Peña to become Army commanding general.

Peña told reporters he accepted the decision of the court-martial.

He vowed to redeem himself.

“I just did my job. If that was their decision, I accept that. I leave everything to God. I will continue with the (military) service. As I said, I fell here, I’ll rise here,” he said.

A graduate of the US Special Forces school in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Peña is likely to be stuck doing administrative work for the Armed Forces of the Philippines while he serves his sentence.

Peña, one of the military’s known warriors in the field, said he would accept any job that would be given to him.

“I will just do my best to serve the people because I am a public servant, and since I have always dreamed of [becoming a soldier] from childhood, I will continue [serving in the military],” Peña replied when asked what the military could still expect from him.

Unanimous decision

The military tribunal, led by Brig. Gen. Teodoro Cirilo Torralba III, convicted Peña for violating Article of War 97 (Disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline).

“By unanimous decision [the court] finds the accused guilty of the charge in all three specifications through proof beyond reasonable doubt. Furthermore, the court sentences the accused and imposes the following: to be reduced in rank 200 files below in the seniority and lineal list of officers… to be suspended from rank for two years, to be suspended from command for two years, and to be reprimanded,” Torralba read the tribunal’s decision.

Peña’s demotion means members of PMA Class ’92 and ’93 would overtake him in promotion.

Peña was motionless and did not show any expression as Torralba read the guilty verdict.

He was acquitted of the charge of violating Article of War 84 (Willful or negligent loss, damage or wrongful disposition).

The decisions were made through secret balloting among the seven members of the military court following 14 months of trial.

For chief’s approval

Peña’s lawyers, Elmer Triad and Col. Julius Agdeppa, tried to convince the tribunal to make the punishment retroactive, noting that Peña has already been on floating status for two years.

But Torralba said that the rules of the general court-martial specifically stated that “the sentence will start upon the approval of the convening authority,” referring to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Col. Feliciano Loy, the lawyer of the court-martial, said Peña’s two-year suspension was “preventive in nature and was not yet the decision of the court.”

The court-martial’s decision will be forwarded to Bautista for automatic review. The AFP chief of staff has the option of reducing the sentence but not increasing the officer’s punishment.

Asked what soldiers, especially officers, can learn from Peña’s experience, Torralba said: “We should be more conscious of the decisions we make because they can lead to mishaps and lives of people are at stake.”

Col. Rafael Sera Jose, a member of the court-martial, said Peña had been recognized for his achievements in the field and developed a good reputation in the field such that his PMA classmates were grooming him to become commanding general of the Philippine Army.

Impact on career

The debacle in Al-Barka and the decision of the court-martial will greatly impact on Peña’s career, Sera Jose said.

“But we had to make a decision based on the evidence presented to us,” he said.

Asked what he had to say to the relatives of his men who perished, Peña said: “Deep in my heart, I am not bothered by my conscience because I had been with those boys for quite a long time in Basilan. I believe they themselves knew that we were only doing our jobs.”

Different versions of what happened in Al-Barka that led to the deaths of the 19 soldiers, including a young lieutenant, have made the rounds within the military, particularly in the Special Forces.

Ultimately, it was Peña who took the fall as the direct commander of the slain soldiers who were taking a scuba diving course when they were tasked to take part in the operation for the arrest of MILF subcommander Dan Asnawi and Abu Sayyaf leaders Furuji Indama and Long Malat on Oct. 18, 2011.

Three others charged

Aside from Peña, three other ranking officials were charged for the debacle.

The court-martial found Col. Amikandra Undug, then the commander of the elite Special Forces Regiment Airborne, guilty of violating Article of War 97. His rank was downgraded 50 files down.

Undug was the most senior among the four officers who faced trial for the Al-Barka incident. He is best known for arresting Abu Sayyaf leader Galib Andang or Commander Robot in 2003.

The court-martial cleared the two other officers, former Commandant of Special Forces School Lt. Col. Orlando Edralin and former Commander of Special Operations Task Force Basilan Col. Alexander Macario, for “insufficiency of evidence” in their involvement in the bungled mission.

Sam Miguel
08-06-2013, 09:36 AM
Why the Hamilton-class ships are worth it–military, defense experts

By Frances Mangosing

INQUIRER.net

8:54 am | Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

SUBIC BAY, Philippines — The Philippines’ two biggest warships expected to boost maritime patrol amid a territorial dispute with China may be four-decade-old Hamilton-class cutters, but defense and military experts believe that acquiring these types of secondhand vessels was still worth it.

“The positive outweighs the negative concerns” in getting Hamilton-class frigates for the Navy fleet, said Max Montero, an Australian-based security consultant and a former naval reservist officer of the Philippine Navy, in his blog post which he updates regularly on defense issues.

In a separate interview with INQUIRER.net, Commander Joe Anthony Orbe, commanding officer of the BRP del Pilar, the country’s first Hammer-class weather high endurance cutter (WHEC) acquired from the United States, in 2011, said that Hamilton-class cutters were a good choice for used warships.

President Benigno Aquino III will lead aceremony today, Tuesday, here welcoming the arrival of the second Hammer-class cutter acquired by the Philippines — the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) — which arrived in the Philippines last Friday after a nearly two-month voyage from the US.

Orbe, said, however that the Navy would still need to acquire other ships that would give complete capability.

“It is a better platform than the ageing naval assets of the PN that negatively affects their capability considering the limitations of their current assets. As an interim platform, the ships will be able to provide the (PN) with capable ships at sea to immediately do its mandate of protecting its interests and territories even with limited capability,” said Montero.

“Anyway it is not expected that a shooting war will happen anytime soon if political arrangements are properly utilized in the absence of armed capability,” he added.

Orbe, who has been the skipper of BRP del Pilar for six months now, cited that one of the advantages of the ship among other Navy assets was its ability to stay at sea for long periods of time, or about 30 days, without going back to port.

The Philippines is locked in a dispute with China over claims on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). This prompted the government to take the dispute to the United Nations for abitration.

The BRP Alcaraz will be re-painted gray and will be commissioned to the Navy in October before it will be deployed for patrols.

Both the decommissioned US Coast Guard ships were acquired under the US Excess Defense Article and a military assistance program.

Critics have played down the arrival of BRP Alcaraz, saying that it won’t measure up to China’s military might. One analyst even compared the ship as a “balisong” (fan knife) to China’s “machine gun.”

Before BRP del Pilar and Alcaraz, Montero noted that the Navy’s three largest warships were World War II veterans, the BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11), the BRP Quezon (PS-70) and BRP Rizal (PS-74), which are even older than the Hamilton-class cutters.

“Due to old age, these ships should have already been withdrawn from service by now. They do not have the weapons and systems currently being used in other navies, limiting the increase of technological skills and knowledge of ship crews and of the PN organization as a whole,” he said.

While BRP del Pilar is old compared to naval assets used by neighboring countries, the analyst noted that it was 30 years younger than the Navy’s previously largest warships.

“It is also larger and can operate on higher sea states than most if not all PN warships, has one of the best endurance at sea than most comparable frigate and patrol vessels (both new and old), and has superior seakeeping. Despite its age, it also has the capability to accept modern ship systems,” he said.

However, among the disadvantages of getting Hamilton-class cutters that Montero cited were:

* the ships’ old age wherein degradation of hulls and system were expected to happen;

* not having necessary sensors and weapons system a normal frigate has; and

* the vast choices of secondhand frigates in the market.

For a “cash-strapped” Philippine Navy, the Hamilton-class cutters are already a good bargain, he said.

Training, refurbishment and minor repairs for BRP del Pilar cost the government P450 million; while refurbishment, retrofitting and crew training for BRP Alcaraz cost about P600 million.

The analyst also said that the Navy would need to acquire “as many large-hull warships it can possibly get with its limited budget,” to show its presence and patrol the vast areas within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“If there are more used warships available in the market and the PN has the budget to purchase more, it must use the chance and do so,” he said.

Montero also mentioned that the cycle from purchase to commissioning Hamilton-class cutters was faster than other frigates.

“Due to the complexity of other used frigates, the PN may not be able to bring these more capable ships to sea immediately as it needs more time to train,” he said.

He also noted that the Hamilton-class ships have the basic modern technology the Philippine Navy needs to train its personnel, and has the size to install current and future weapons and sensors to keep it up-to-date for another decade.

“Despite the removal by the US of its original radar systems, the PF-15 has new navigation and surface search radar and a new C&C/Common Operational Picture system. It also has a helicopter hangar and helideck for shipborne helicopter operations, and provisions for new radar and communications systems if the PN decides to install,” he said, adding that provisions are also available to upgrade and up-arm the Hamilton-class ships.

Reports said that BRP Alcaraz has been fitted with anti-ship harpoon missile, with weapons system “heavier and sophisticated” than those of BRP del Pilar, but defense and military officials have been mum about it due to national security purposes.

The BRP Alcaraz is equipped with 76-millimeter Oto Melara gun, which is the same as del Pilar’s, and two 25-mm Bushmaster guns and assorted machine guns.

The Hamilton-class frigates are expected to serve the Navy for another decade, but it “must not be complacent and rely too much on these ships,” Montero said, adding that the Navy “must be able to plan its course of actions to move ahead further and not getting stuck with the WHECs.”

“There’s something that we call as “design force mix,” so not all frigates should be of Hamilton-class. But if it’s already planned then it’s okay, but if not, we need to acquire other ships with complete capability such as anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine,” said Orbe.

If anything should be improved with the ship, Orbe noted that the sensors and electronic equipment could get some upgrade, “to strengthen the ability to detect what’s within the environment.”

He added that he has so far not encountered glitches with the ship, except for breakdown in machinery which he considered “normal.”

“It’s normal for the machineries to break down but the crew is able to address it. We do a maintenance program regularly whether it has a problem or not,” he said.

He added that he also saw the need to train more people to manage the equipment and machineries.

Although the acquisition of frigates is aimed at achieving “minimum credible deterrence” to be able to patrol territorial seas and EEZ and not directed towards any other country, Orbe believes that the warships could be used for defense together with other assets in the inventory should there be any untoward threat.

Last April, the Department of National Defense said that some of the items in the pipeline that would help the military to achieve a “minimum deterrence capability” include the acquisition of two brand-new frigates under an P18-billion budget.

Sam Miguel
09-26-2013, 09:19 AM
US gives PH 6 patrol boats to fight Moro militants in Mindanao

Agence France-Presse

7:30 am | Thursday, September 26th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The United States gave the Philippine military six patrol boats Wednesday to be used in Mindanao where armed Muslim militants are active, the military said.

The small-unit riverine craft (SURCs) are part of a US program to train and equip foreign military forces for “counter-terrorism,” Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Jose Alano said in a statement.

“The SURCs will be deployed to augment our sea-based forces to address terrorism and lawlessness such as the current crisis in Mindanao,” Alano added.

For the past three weeks, thousands of elite troops have been battling Muslim guerrillas of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who occupied several coastal villages in the key southern port of Zamboanga on Mindanao island.

Mindanao and nearby island groups are also a hotbed of other armed groups including communist guerrillas, bandits and Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic extremist group blamed for the country’s worst terror attacks.

Funded by the late Al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, Abu Sayyaf has targeted foreigners with kidnappings for ransom.

The group killed two Americans in a 2001 hostage crisis that lasted more than a year.

US troops have been based in the southern Philippines since 2002 to help train local troops in hunting down members of the Abu Sayyaf, which is on the US government’s list of so-called foreign terrorist organizations.

Designed to patrol rivers and coastal areas, the high-speed, small-unit riverine craft can carry 14 fully-armed marines and six crew members, Philippine marine spokesman Captain Rowan Rimas told AFP.

The boats are worth a combined $12 million, he added.

Sam Miguel
10-02-2013, 09:26 AM
The first thing upgraded by the our military is the retirement fund of its senior officers - - -

Just token purge?

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:51 pm | Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Even as fresh revelations about the pork barrel scam tumble out every day and implicate more and more of the country’s ruling political class, the unfinished business of corruption cases uncovered earlier continues to fester in the country’s court system—unresolved, tangled up in legalistic maneuvers, and, too often, eventually forgotten. And since nothing is resolved with dispatch and transparency, the public’s cynicism is only buttressed at what seems like the occasional token purging by the country’s elite of its ranks, the more grasping but less slippery of them thrown to the docket while the rest continue on their merry way.

Last week’s inside news, for instance, that the Sandiganbayan has issued a notice of garnishment against some P55.59-million worth of bank accounts and assets believed to have been unlawfully acquired by Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot and his family barely caused a ripple. Remember Ligot? He was the comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from July 1999 to March 2001, a virtually unknown bureaucrat in the chain of command until his name exploded in the headlines over news that his family had a slew of properties in the Philippines and in the United States that could not have been bought with his monthly salary of P35,000 when he retired in 2004.

The immense wealth the Ligots were subsequently said to have owned—they had at least P740 million deposited in various dollar and peso bank accounts from 2001 to 2005, with one Citibank account alone holding $1.6 million at one point; eight houses in the United States were also traced to Ligot’s wife Erlinda—boggled the public imagination. If the military’s cashier, in effect, could amass this much unexplained wealth, how much more his higher-ups?

The rank corruption in the military was bared for all when retired Col. George Rabusa, who served as budget chief of the AFP deputy chief of staff from November 1999 to 2002, testified before the Senate that rampant misappropriations amounting to billions of pesos was routine among the military brass. Retired and incoming chiefs of staff were given multi-million peso “pabaon” and “pasalubong” (sendoff and welcome gifts), with at least P10 million more set aside as monthly “support” to the Office of the AFP chief.
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Rabusa’s revelations bolstered the allegations already leveled at this time against two former military comptrollers: Ligot, in hot water for some P135.28 million in unexplained wealth; and Gen. Carlos Garcia, who replaced Ligot as AFP comptroller and was himself found to have hoarded some P303.2-million bank deposits plus properties overseas. Garcia’s secret wealth only became known when his sons were caught at a US airport trying to sneak in an undeclared $10,000 in cash in December 2003; it wasn’t even the first time they had brought in huge amounts of dollars to the United States. Among the many properties of Ligot’s wife Erlinda, meanwhile, were a P22-million condominium unit in Essensa East Forbes at Global City, Taguig, and and 8-hectare poultry farm with a rest house in Bukidnon.

Rabusa eventually filed charges of plunder against three former Armed Forces chiefs, 14 other top-ranking military officials and five civilians in connection with the fund misuse in the AFP. Those cases, however, went nowhere. Last April, the Ombudsman dismissed all the charges, citing the lack of “competent evidence” from Rabusa, whose allegations were “unproven” and the result of “faulty and unreasonable computation.” Left unanswered by the ruling, though, was the basic question: If the paper trail that Rabusa presented failed to show their guilt, how did Ligot, Garcia et al. still end up with their lavish, by now well-documented wealth?

Not only did Ligot beat the plunder rap; he scored another victory when the Supreme Court nullified the freeze on P54 million of his unexplained money, citing the impairment of his constitutional rights. The next best tack has been to charge him with perjury for his vastly underreported statements of assets, liabilities and net worth while in office. He’s out on bail on that charge.

The Sandiganbayan’s recent ruling to secure P55.59 million of Ligot’s accounts and assets go a modest way toward extracting restitution from a man who, from all indications, milked his public office for all that it was worth. But it’s crucial not to forget that he wasn’t even the top banana in his organization; if he was able to pilfer this much in a mere three years as AFP comptroller, think how much more his superiors and enablers must have earned—and are still. When will they get their reckoning?

Sam Miguel
10-23-2013, 08:13 AM
Phl eyes frigates from India

(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 23, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines, which is beefing up its defense capability, is considering the procurement of naval frigates from India.

Philippine officials discussed this the other day with a visiting delegation from India led by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

India has intensified its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of its “Look East” policy in the past decade.

Khurshid, who met yesterday with Vice President Jejomar Binay, said the relationship between the two countries is “extremely important.”

“Now is the time to begin a new chapter,” Khurshid said yesterday over lunch with Filipino officials as he emphasized the two countries’ “shared aspirations and shared attitudes.”

The Philippines is eyeing the procurement of two frigates from India, a nuclear power with its own military shipbuilding capability.

India has built its own stealth-capable warship, which visited Manila several months ago. The Indians are developing their first aircraft carrier and will acquire one soon from Russia.

Like the Philippines, India has a territorial dispute with its neighbor China. Khurshid told The STAR yesterday that his government was pursuing engagement with the Chinese.

The other day, Khurshid and his delegation met separately with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippine security officials.

Khurshid, who proceeded to Manila from meetings in Brazil, leaves for Singapore today.

The Philippines is currently finalizing the procurement of fighter jets from South Korea.

Not connected with territorial row

The defense department maintained yesterday that the acquisition of fighter jets from South Korea has nothing to do with the territorial row in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has been planned even before the developments in the West Philippine Sea,” defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said in a phone interview.

Galvez was asked for a reaction after a Japanese paper reported on Monday that China had asked South Korea not to sell FA-50 jets to the country.

Galvez declined to comment on the report itself but said the military’s upgrade efforts are not related to the territorial row with China.

The defense department previously said that the lead-in fighter jets acquisition project would boost the territorial defense capabilities of the country.

Officials, however, stressed that the modernization program is not directed toward any country. – With Alexis Romero

Sam Miguel
12-12-2013, 10:53 AM
DND: No consensus yet on P18.9-B fighter jets' purchase

By Alexis Romero

(philstar.com) | Updated December 2, 2013 - 5:31pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and South Korean firm Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) are still hurdling issues related to the military’s plan to buy 12 lead in fighter trainer jets worth P18.9-billion.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo admitted on Monday that they have yet to reach consensus on some issues including the down payment to be given to the supplier and the period of delivery of spare parts.

“The lead in fighter (project) is within the process of negotiation with the government of South Korea and there are major issues, there are several issues that we still have to hurdle,” Manalo said in a press conference.

Among the issues to be threshed out is the advance payment to be given to KAI.

Manalo said the law allows state agencies to pay a 15 percent down payment while the rest of the amount would be paid upon the delivery of goods.

KAI wants the Philippines to pay a 52 percent down payment but Manalo said this would require the approval of President Aquino.

“The approval of a down payment that is more than 15 percent does not rest on the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee). It will be up to the president,” Manalo said.

“Even if we consider their request on the terms of payment and more progressive billing, we cannot do it. We can only recommend to the president,” he added.

Another issue being threshed out is the turnaround time, the period required for the delivery of the jets’ spare parts under a two-year warranty.

Manalo said the turnaround time usually lasts for 30 to 45 days but KAI wants it prolonged to 180 days.

When asked whether he is still optimistic that the issues surrounding the project will be resolved, Manalo said: “This project should push through but we cannot continue without looking at it and ensuring that aircraft we will buy won’t be left unused without the spare parts.”

Manalo said they would decide whether to push through with a deal with KAI within the year.

“We are already preparing our firm position and then we are going to submit it to KAI for them to determine whether that is acceptable. We cannot just let it hang for a long time. We will immediately resolve the issue,” he said.

The government plans to acquire 12 FA-50 jets from South Korea to boost the territorial defense capabilities of the Air Force. The negotiations with KAI started last July.

Earlier, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz said two FA-50 jets could be delivered by the end of 2014 if all the contracts and other necessary documents are signed this year.

The acquisition of FA-50 jets is one of the big ticket items in the military’s multi-billion upgrade program.
A total of P85.29-billion is needed to bankroll the program for the next four years, Defense department data showed.

Other items to be acquired were Navy frigates, ammunitions, rocket launchers, handheld radios, long range patrol aircraft, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopter, aerial radars, engineering equipment and base support facilities

Manalo said the government is also planning to spend P6.5-billion to buy a shore-based missile system but declined to say where it will be located.

Sam Miguel
01-06-2014, 08:43 AM
Another New Year, another AFP chief

By Ramon Farolan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:39 pm | Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Let me commend the Philippine Navy’s Civil Military Operations Group headed by Col. Edgar Arevalo for remembering the families of their men stationed on Ayungin Shoal aboard a World War II relic, the BRP Sierra Madre. For our soldiers who serve the nation in the loneliest outpost of the Armed Forces, nothing does more for morale than knowing that their families are cared for and looked after especially during the holiday season when family reunions are an important part of any Christmas celebration. More than medals or commendations, these gestures of concern and affection contribute significantly to building up loyalty and a greater sense of belonging in the military organization.

Disconcerting news.

Last June, Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz, the commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, hosted a dinner in honor of former chiefs of the PAF and their ladies. It was one of several pre-anniversary activities of the command in preparation for Air Force Day in July.

In one of our private moments before sitting down for dinner, I asked him what was the latest on fighter jet acquisitions for the Air Force in light of presidential pronouncements on the same. His reply was that the PAF was preparing to acquire the Saab Gripen, a multi-role fighter plane manufactured by a Swedish company. My initial reaction was a combination of delight and skepticism considering that for so many years we had been tied down to what Uncle Sam offered in terms of jet fighters. F-5 Freedom Fighters and the F-8 Crusaders readily come to mind. Still I thought that if we were going to expand our horizons and see what others had to offer, the nation and our Air Force would benefit from the experience of new arrangements and technologies.

The FA-50 that is now the subject of negotiations with South Korea is a lead-in fighter plane manufactured by South Korea’s Korean Aerospace Industries. It is part of a family of advanced jet trainers with limited capabilities and weaponry. The term “lead-in” indicates its primary role: it prepares you for eventual multi-role fighters like the Lockheed F-16. Incidentally, Lockheed is a partner of Korea Aerospace Industries. Do you get the drift?

The Swedish training program does not include lead-in fighters. They rely on simulators along with basic jet trainers that prepare you for the multi-role fighter.

The latest news on the fighter jets indicates that the defense department has recommended to the President a 52-percent down payment of almost P10 billion for a package of 12 FA lead-in fighters. By the way, the department has omitted the full terminology of these jets. They are LIFT aircraft: lead-in fighter trainers.

Let us set aside for a moment aircraft capabilities and training doctrines.

The question that must be answered is: Why are we asking the President to allow a down payment of 52 percent of the entire cost when the law allows only 15 percent, with the balance after delivery of goods? Actually the answer to this query should have been part of the press release. Whenever we operate outside the law, Juan dela Cruz is entitled to know the circumstances that may justify any exception.

Desperation.

In his remarks during the 78th AFP Foundation Anniversary last month, President Aquino vowed to acquire more planes and ships to sustain the modernization program of the military organization. No other president has done more than Mr. Aquino to upgrade the capabilities and equipment of the Armed Forces. But while he has done much in this direction, he has also contributed to the stagnation of the Armed Forces as a professional military organization.

At the start of his presidency, there was a glimmer of hope that he would put an end to the pernicious “revolving door” policy of his predecessor in the appointment of AFP chiefs. However, in January 2012, he vetoed a bill ratified by Congress providing for a fixed term of office for the AFP chief of staff and major service commanders. His action has resulted in maintaining essentially the same record as his predecessor President Gloria Arroyo who had eleven chiefs in her 10 years in office.

* General Bautista retires in July this year; he would have served for 18 months.

I have always believed that the “revolving door” policy on the leadership of key AFP commands has been extremely detrimental to the organization, not only in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, but more so in terms of promoting and enhancing the professionalism of the officer corps. It served the purpose of Mrs. Arroyo to hold the entire officer corps hostage as the scramble for position and favor made it almost impossible to create a sense of loyalty to the institution rather than to an individual.

One of the most respected figures in Philippine management circles is Washington Sycip, founder of Sycip Gorres Velayo and Co. (SGV &Co.) and the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Three years ago, Mr. Sycip was the guest speaker at the annual general membership meeting of the PMAAA Inc. He started his speech with a brief statement about his short military career, after which he cautioned: “You may regret having me with you today.” He then proceeded to provide his impressions on one of the issues affecting the AFP: “We who are in the private sector wonder about the rapid changes in the military leadership. In the private sector, we will not have CEOs with one- or two-year terms if we want reforms or proper planning for the future. Is it possible to carry out reforms in an organization as large as the Armed Forces when there is such a rapid change in the leadership?”

My own question: Is the AFP condemned to short-term leadership for the rest of its natural existence?

http://opinion.inquirer.net/68913/another-new-year-another-afp-chief

Joescoundrel
01-08-2014, 08:25 AM
DND may spend P4.5 B for fighter jet munitions

By Alexis Romero

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 2, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense is planning to spend about P4.5 billion to arm the 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets it is seeking to acquire from South Korea.

Defense department data show that the munitions for the fighter jets are not included in the aircraft acquisition program under the revised Armed Forces modernization law.

The acquisition of munitions for the fighter jets will be divided into four phases – P4.33 billion for the first two and P139 million for the other two.

Details of the items to be installed in the jets were not immediately available. Previous reports, however, said the aircraft being eyed can be armed with precision guided bombs and air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.

The defense department said the munitions may be acquired either through negotiated or public bidding.

The mode of procurement depends on the availability of the items in the market. Military equipment being offered by several suppliers are normally acquired through public bidding, while specialized ones are usually acquired through negotiations.

The government aims to shell out P18.9 billion to acquire 12 FA-50 jets from South Korea to improve the country’s territorial defense capabilities.

Security officials are now negotiating with South Korean firm Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the project.

The government also aims to spend P135.99 million for the basing support systems for the fighter jets.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the delivery of the jets may start in June 2015.

The defense department had asked Malacañang to allow the release of a 52-percent down payment to KAI.

The law permits state agencies to pay 15- percent down payment to suppliers while the rest of the amount would be paid upon delivery of the goods.

KAI wants the Philippines to pay 52- percent down payment to cover the aircraft manufacturing costs. Such payment scheme would require the approval of President Aquino.

The acquisition of FA-50 jets is one of the big ticket items in the military’s multibillion-peso upgrade program.

Joescoundrel
01-08-2014, 08:26 AM
3 firms interested in P216-M Navy project

By Alexis Romero

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 3, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Three companies have expressed interest to undertake the P216-million upgrade project of the Navy’s patrol vessel BRP Artemio Ricarte.

The STAR learned yesterday that the three companies are Colorado Shipyard, Keppel Marine Philippines Inc. and FF Cruz & Co. Inc.

It remains uncertain as to whether these companies would submit bids for the project.

One of the Navy’s three Jacinto-class ships, the Ricarte is currently deployed within the Manila-Cavite area.

The other two are BRP Apolinario Mabini and BRP Emilio Jacinto, both of which can be used for maritime patrols and interdiction.

The P216-million project constitutes the second phase of the Jacinto-class patrol vessels’ marine engineering upgrade project.

It will include hull repairs and the improvement of the ship’s electrical plant and control and monitoring systems.

The first phase was completed in 2005 and involved the upgrading of command and control systems and installation of cannons, compass and radars, among other equipment.

To be qualified, prospective bidders must have completed a similar contract within five years from the submission of bids.

A complete set of bid documents may be purchased from the defense department’s Bids and Awards Committee for P50,000.

They may also be downloaded from the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website provided that the bidder will pay for them before the submission of bids.

Late bids as well as those that are higher than the approved budget will be rejected.

Sam Miguel
02-17-2014, 08:10 AM
Honor in the PMA

Philippine Daily Inquirer

8:28 pm | Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Three not unconnected moments from the annual homecoming rites of the Philippine Military Academy last Saturday: Former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson called on his fellow PMA alumni to live by the academy’s honor code, Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II joined the parade of alumni as an “honorary member” of the Class of 1984—and members of the Class of 1976 denied reports that controversial businessman Cedric Lee had ever been adopted as an honorary classmate.

“Mr. Lee is not connected, is not associated and is not a member [of our class, which is] being dragged into this controversy,” Edgardo Acuña, a retired police general and president of the class, told the Inquirer.

Lee is the alleged mastermind behind the beating of TV personality Vhong Navarro. The reports stemmed from Lee’s business partnership with police officials, including at least one from the Class of 1976. “Most of us do not know him,” Acuña said.

Roxas did not break new ground when he marched at the PMA rites; the academy’s tradition of allowing each class and the alumni association as a whole to bestow honorary membership on civilians, especially businessmen, celebrities and politicians, is a longstanding one.

It is also unfortunate. The idea is to link members of a class or of the alumni association as a whole with influential civilians; the consequence has been to cheapen the worth of a PMA education and to reinforce the continuing politicization of the military. Consider, for instance, the situation at the homecoming last year, an election year: Vice President Jojo Binay, leader of the United Nationalist Alliance, and businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., founder of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, took their oath as honorary members of the PMA Alumni Association. Four of the senatorial candidates who went on to win in May 2013 (Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, JV Ejercito and Cynthia Villar) were either honorary class members or the spouse of one.

The problem is widespread, and respects no political boundaries. In 2010, another election year, the four sisters of presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III were inducted as honorary members of the Class of 1980.

This tradition adds layers of complication to Lacson’s speech as homecoming guest speaker. He drew a more or less accurate portrait of the moral test that PMA graduates face when entering active service. “Every single day of our lives after graduation becomes a test of endurance, not of physical [trials] but of our moral strengths,” Lacson said.

“The idealist—still very much armed with academy virtues—suddenly comes face to face with practically everything that is opposite of what was taught on the hallowed grounds of Fort Del Pilar—corruption, treachery and cowardice.”

“So when young graduates encounter in their fields of assignment some upperclassmen who had already succumbed to the temptations of misplaced values or had countenanced [such acts], the effects [on the young graduates] could be very frustrating if not disastrous,” he said.

The description is not unproblematic—because of who is doing the describing. Lacson, in 2001, very soon after the start of his first term in the Senate, had a famous encounter with another PMA alumnus, Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes. An editorial on the incident summarized the matter thus: “Which, as a matter of public concern, is more important to the nation? The honor code of the PMA [as invoked by Lacson], or the rule of law as symbolized in the oath that Reyes took?”

There’s more. Lacson during his second term went into hiding rather than face an investigation into his alleged role in the double murder case of Estrada publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito. In this same space, we wrote: “We … add our voice to the practically universal call for Lacson to submit himself to the legal process—if only to show that the constitutional injunction that ‘all men are equal before the law’ is for real; and one’s position in government, no matter how lofty, does not put anyone above the law.”

In other words: It is good that Lacson has put the spotlight on the PMA’s honor code again. As we can see from the misuse of the honorary-member system, however, we regret that Lacson did not go far enough, and acknowledge that the PMA’s highest values—courage, integrity, loyalty—must serve even higher ends.

Sam Miguel
02-17-2014, 08:36 AM
Gazmin: Critics driving wedge with Aquino

By Nikko Dizon

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:29 am | Sunday, February 16th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Smarting from the incessant criticism of his work style and uncommon closeness to President Benigno Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said there were some in government who would love to take over the defense portfolio from him and they were behind the smear campaign against him.

“I guess there are sectors that would want to put a wedge between myself and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and myself and the President … The reasons are obvious. They can see that my relationship with the AFP and the President are strong. In government, the strongest force comes from the AFP,” Gazmin said in an interview.

Of all the criticisms leveled against him, the one that irks him the most is the suggestion that he dictates on the President in the appointment of key military positions.

Some of the secretary’s critics refer to the Board of Generals, the recommendatory body chaired by the AFP chief of staff, the “Board of Gazmin.”

Gazmin said this was unfair to the appointees and most especially to President Aquino who is being pictured as a “weakling.” He said Mr. Aquino was in fact a “decisive leader” who knows how to choose his appointees well.

The talk in the defense community is that Gazmin tends to overrule most of the senior military officers and key defense officials who were either his former junior officers or who served under his staff command when he was in the active service.

Gazmin described himself as a “strict” commander. “My military bearing is sometimes overbearing. I am really very strict,” he said.

He admitted that there were times during planning sessions or even during operations when he had “stepped on the shoes” of the AFP chiefs, like Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, who was once his platoon commander.

“But when I do that, I apologize to him and then I just (follow up) and consult, and ask what the course of action is,” Gazmin said.

According to Gazmin, even if today’s military commanders were once his junior officers, he expected them to debate with him and push their own plans for their service commands because they are the end users.

“I am just a policymaker,” he said.

He said he also believed everyone was “equal when it comes to discussions.”

“Everyone is given the privilege to argue their case. At the end of the day, it is our decision, it is the decision of the group. If we fail, it is everyone’s failure,” Gazmin said.

He said that when he gave an official a dressing down, it meant that he valued the person’s work and it was not because he wanted to embarrass the person. “When I ignore you, that’s when you should start thinking of your performance,” he said.

Gazmin was also criticized for staying in the background during last year’s security crisis in Zamboanga City and in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

But he argued that he did not need to be in the limelight or be his own spokesperson because his job is to preside over discussions on the table and ensure that decisions are executed well.

Last year, it was also rumored that Gazmin was planning to give up the defense portfolio.

Not so. He is not about to desert the President, the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino whom he had served for much of his military career.

“I will step down only when the President tells me to step down. And when I feel that I cannot perform anymore then I will tell the President that I cannot do the work anymore. But for as long as I can do it, I will stick it out with him. And I will serve him until the very end,” Gazmin said.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2014, 12:08 PM
Palace OKs payment scheme for S. Korean fighter jets

By Alexis Romero

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 21, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has approved the payment scheme for the purchase of 12 lead-in fighter trainer jets from South Korea, taking the deal to acquire the air assets a step closer to completion.

The defense department has been allowed to make an advance payment of 15 percent of the total contract price to South Korean firm Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI).

The project has an approved budget of P18.9 billion and is one of the big-ticket items in the military’s upgrade program.

Malacañang has also granted the defense department’s request to tap a progress payment scheme, wherein the government will pay the supplier on a mutually-agreed upon schedule.

The approval of the payment scheme was contained in a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on Feb. 13.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo confirmed the approval of the payment scheme for the multibillion-peso project.

Sources told The STAR the defense department is seeking to complete the negotiations with KAI within the week. Officials are now preparing a contract on the payment scheme.

The government is planning to spend P18.9 billion for the jets to boost the country’s territorial defense capabilities.

It will also spend P135.99 million for the basing support systems of the jets.

KAI initially wanted 52 percent down payment to cover manufacturing costs, but it dropped the payment scheme and agreed to a progressive payment.

Under the new scheme, the government would deliver payments upon completion of certain “milestones” or progress related to the construction of the jets.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the delivery of the jets could start in June 2015.

Another issue that was settled was the turnaround time, the period required for the delivery of the jets’ spare parts under a two-year warranty.

It usually lasts 30 to 45 days but KAI initially wanted it prolonged it to 180 days. Both parties have agreed to 60 days.

Joescoundrel
03-10-2014, 09:25 AM
Of FA-50s and Gripens

By Ramon Farolan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:08 am | Monday, March 10th, 2014

First, an announcement on the first Ilocano cardinal in the 2,000-year history of the Roman Catholic Church.

Tomorrow, March 11, the Archdiocese of Cotabato will be holding a thanksgiving celebration to honor His Eminence, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, DD on the occasion of four milestones in his life:

• receiving the title of cardinal (Feb. 22, 2014)

• 75th birthday (March 11, 2014)

• 50th priestly ordination anniversary (June 5, 2014)

• 34th episcopal ordination anniversary (Oct. 28, 2014)

A Eucharistic Concelebration at 4 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cotabato City will be followed by a testimonial dinner in the evening at the South Seas Mall on Magallanes Street.

* * *

On Thursday, March 13, the Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay in partnership with the XVD Association and the Lay Society of St. Arnold Janssen is sponsoring a “Dinner for the Missions,” featuring a conversation between Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and John L. Allen Jr., senior Vatican analyst of CNN, and author of “The Future Church.” The dinner is at 7 p.m. at the Elements, Eton Sentris, Edsa corner Quezon Avenue, Quezon City.

* * *

Last month, the Department of Defense announced the return of the Philippine Air Force to the supersonic age.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, speaking to reporters, said that negotiations between the Philippines and Korea Aerospace Industries have resulted in an agreement to provide the Philippine Air Force with 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers. The FA-50 is part of a family of advanced jet trainers with limited capabilities and weaponry. The term “lead-in” indicates its primary function: It prepares pilots for eventual multi-role fighters, like the Lockheed F-16 that apparently is the ultimate objective of the Air Force. As Col. Miguel Okol, PAF spokesperson indicated, the FA-50 is a step lower than a multi-role aircraft.

The other candidate of the Philippine Air Force was the Saab Gripen, a multi-role fighter plane manufactured by a Swedish company. In fact, the initial information I received was that the Gripen was the choice of the Air Force. The Swedish flight program does not utilize lead-in trainers. It relies more on simulators complemented by basic jet trainers. It also provides for immediate leasing arrangements to facilitate a faster transition period.

But setting aside issues relating to training doctrines and programs, the question I pose is: Why are we asking President Aquino to allow a down payment of 52 percent of the entire cost when the law allows only 15 percent? Whenever we operate outside the law, Juan de la Cruz is entitled to know the circumstances that may justify any exception.

This matter was never fully addressed by Undersecretary Manalo. But as sure as night follows day, it will be raised when the proper time comes, and a new administration may decide to take a closer look at the lesser-known details of this acquisition. By the way, the delivery schedule under the agreement calls for two aircraft to be turned over 18 months after the signing of the contract and another two a year later. This probably means that if arrangements push through, we may have four by the time President Aquino steps down from office in 2016.

Incidentally, may we also inquire as to the status of the 20 helicopters that the Air Force was supposed to have received more than a year ago? These choppers are a vital component of disaster relief efforts that the nation must be prepared to carry out in the face of continuing climate change situations.

* * *

Relative to the issue of fighter planes that were just mentioned, I received an interesting e-mail from my sister, a long-time resident of Geneva, Switzerland. She related the following incident concerning Flight ET 702 of Ethiopian Airlines.

“On Monday 17 February at about 4 am, Skyguide controllers at Geneva Airport were alerted to the unusual path taken by Flight ET 702 of Ethiopian Airlines that was

supposed to land in Rome at 4:40 am. The 202 passengers were mostly Italians. The co-pilot, waiting for the pilot to use the toilet, then locked himself in the cockpit and requested landing in Geneva for refueling. Later via a radio exchange with the control tower, the co-pilot made it clear that he was hijacking the plane in order to request political asylum in Switzerland. Ethiopian Airlines assured the Swiss that the man was not mentally unstable. In fact he had been working for them for the past five years and had no reason to seek asylum.”

Two Italian planes of the EuroFighter-type escorted the Boeing 767 and after a while, two Mirage 2000 fighter planes of the French Air Force took over from the Italians. No Swiss fighter planes appeared to take control of the incident. When the plane landed at Geneva International Airport, the hijacker pilot opened a window of the cockpit, threw down a ladder, and gave himself up to the police, informing them that he was the lone hijacker on board. The passengers were allowed to leave the plane one by one, hands behind their heads, and frisked summarily before being allowed into the terminal.

The question being asked was why no Swiss fighter planes flew up to escort the hijacked plane from the French border to Geneva.

The answer of Swiss Air Force’s PR person Laurent Savary: “Because of financial reasons, we do not have the capacity to intervene 24/7.” Swiss air bases are open from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., except for Monday evening when the jet fighters do night exercises.

On May 14, the Swiss vote for the possible acquisition of 22 Gripen fighter planes costing 3.1 billion Swiss francs, including ground installations and pilot training. The Swiss Federal Defense Department defends this purchase by saying that Switzerland could no longer guarantee surveillance of airspace 24/7 without the new fighter planes.

The Swiss are chuckling over this situation. Many people believe they can do with less of the new Gripen fighter planes, suggesting instead that perhaps more funds should be utilized for the upgrade of existing capabilities and arrangements.

We do not know the exact state of Swiss air defenses but it does seem strange that no Swiss fighter planes were alerted and sent into action by the incident.

The hijacker now in police custody faces up to 20 years in prison.

Joescoundrel
03-26-2014, 11:20 AM
Magsaysay and the AFP: A Historical Case Study of Military Reform and Transformation

Published Monday, March 17th, 2014 at 12:01 am.

In the early 1950s, then Secretary of National Defense and later President Ramon Magsaysay initiated a highly successful reform program for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Magsaysay, who managed to bolster the people’s trust in the military, went on to become one of the most beloved presidents of the Philippines.

In 2013, Rino A. Francisco, editor in chief of the AFP’s Office of Strategic and Special Studies (OSS) Digest, wrote and published “Magsaysay and the AFP: A Historical Case Study of Military Reform and Transformation,” which puts Magsaysay’s reform program in the context of the modern military, and posits possible trajectories for the new millennium’s AFP.

On the 57th death anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay, we are sharing Rino A. Francisco’s study, published here with the author’s permission.

by Rino A. Francisco.

INTRODUCTION

For more than a decade, the issue of reform has been much touted in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The 2003 RP-US Joint Defense Assessment made a comprehensive evaluation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and came out with the finding that the AFP’s capability to execute its missions was rated as generally Minus (-) Partial Mission Capable, largely attributed to systemic deficiencies found within the defense and military establishment.[1] The Philippine Defense Reform Program that was formulated in 2004 endeavors to create “a strong, capable and responsive Philippine defense establishment,” believing as it does that a transformed defense and military establishment that is capable of responding to current and emerging threats will usher in a secure, stable and peaceful environment conducive to economic growth and national development.[2]

Much of the succeeding discussion about military reform and transformation however became focused on the issue of corruption beginning with the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, followed by the Garcia Controversy and the “pabaon.” As such, reform efforts became concentrated on good governance, transparency, resource efficiency. While the above initiatives were definite steps in the right directions, the defense establishment has not said much beyond generalities on what improvements could be effected on combat performance.[3]This article takes the position that the foundation or at least the starting point of military reform and transformation should be ensuring combat effectiveness. It believes the age-old wisdom that the true test of how good an armed force is could be found on how it performs on the battlefield. Only slightly less important is how openly and proudly a military organization embraced warfighting as its raison d’ etre even as armed forces have to perform a variety of tasks apart from its core function.

In support of the above argument, the author uses as a case study, a very important but long forgotten episode in Philippine military history that could provide lessons for today’s reform and transformation efforts. This was the reform program initiated by Secretary of National Defense and later President Ramon Magsaysay in the early 1950s that transformed almost overnight an AFP saddled with issues of corruption, poor leadership, low morale and indifferent performance into arguably the best armed force we ever had. His reforms not only improved the performance and conduct of the military but have triggered a transformation and may even have created a revolution in military affairs in the field of counterinsurgency. Indeed, Magsaysay’s and the AFP’s achievements in these areas may find resonance in today’s situation since the problems they overcame more than 60 years ago were still the issues that current DND-AFP reform efforts are trying to address.

The article uses as a contextual paradigm the relationship between military reform and the core or warfighting function of the Armed Forces. By doing so, it touches on the concept of military professionalism as there is a direct correlation between the two; success in the reform effort leads to improvement in the level of professionalism.

The concept of military professionalism would be forever etched with Samuel Huntington. He argues that it has three main characteristics: expertise in what is termed as the “management of violence”; responsibility to the state and society as the expert adviser in his competency and as its practitioner at their service; and, a unique corporate character where membership depends on the requisite education and training, where the professional world tends to encompass a high proportion of the life of members, and where they normally live and work apart from the rest of society.[4] Those who subscribe to Huntington’s definition would agree that the essence of military professionalism is related to its warfighting function.

There is a need therefore to make a clearer statement on how our military establishment views military professionalism as its conception will anchor and direct reform efforts. This is also where the value of the lessons from the past can help educate and broaden perspectives as in the case of how Ramon Magsaysay reformed the AFP in the 1950s.

HISTORICAL CASE STUDY: THE MAGSAYSAY REFORMS

The Strategic Context

The driver for the systemic improvements Magsaysay did can be found in the security challenge the Philippines faced in 1950 and how the government handled that. In 1946, the newly independent Republic of the Philippines found itself facing a full-blown rebellion from the Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon or Hukbalahap, a Communist-led but peasant-based guerilla movement that first emerged in Central Luzon during the Second World War but later spread to other parts of Luzon and even the Visayas. The Hukbalahap or Huks got their support from the peasantry who were victimized by landlords often employing private armies. The Huks also adopted powerful propaganda lines that contributed to their popularity such as “land for the landless,” “equal justice for all,” and “inefficiency and corruption in government.”[5]

Government efforts to end the rebellion from 1946 to 1950 were largely unsuccessful. One of its main instruments in the task, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was described as suffering from poor leadership and morale leading to a lack of discipline and manifested in the abuse of civilians. A patronage system was in place where positions in the military were given to relatives, friends and supporters of politicians. As a result, “frustrated, underpaid soldiers garrisoned in local barrios for extended periods with little supervision, preyed on the local population while those above seemed equally unconcerned, more interested in graft, corruption and a comfortable life than fighting.” The other partner in the counter-insurgency effort, the Philippine Constabulary was also charged with alienating the population.[6] By the latter part of 1950, Huk attacks have become more widespread and daring. In August 1950, they launched a series of attacks at Tarlac, Laguna and Pampanga.[7]This led to the appointment of Ramon Magsaysay as Secretary of Defense.

The new Secretary was a Congressman from Zambales prior to the time of his appointment. Born in 1907, he was raised in a family that valued integrity and hard work, which would shape his character.[8] After graduating from college, he first worked as a mechanic for a bus company and subsequently became its president. In the Second World War, he first served in the Philippine Army 31st Division and later became a guerilla leader in Zambales where he gained fame for a brilliant operational record and was appointed as the province’s military governor by General Douglas MacArthur during the liberation. Magsaysay’s character and record immediately translated to political success after the war as he was elected as Congressman of Zambales in 1946 and 1949. In this capacity and up to his appointment as SND, he worked for veterans’ rights and improvements in the armed forces as a member and later Chairman of the House Committee on National Defense.[9]

It should not be forgotten also that Magsaysay was well-served by his partner, the US Air Force officer, Edward G. Lansdale. Landsdale, with his innovative ideas on counterinsurgency acted as an adviser, sounding board, friend and confidant to the former.[10]

Joescoundrel
03-26-2014, 11:21 AM
^ (Continued)

Magsaysay’s Reforms as a Catalyst for Transformation

An American who served as a guerilla leader during World War Two described the Defense Secretary and future President in these words: “A unique man with unique methods, Magsaysay devoted his energy, the power of his office and his personal magnetism to offering the people a way of life that was patently better than the communist example and promise.”[11]

Magsaysay’s first actions as SND was a like a whirlwind that made a clean sweep at the defense and military establishment. He made a command shakeup by firing the AFP Chief of Staff, the Chief of Constabulary and other senior officers. Officers who do not want to go to the field or were implicated in graft and corruption were likewise removed. He then went on unannounced visits in the field to ascertain conditions by talking to troops and the people as well as to punish and reward officers if circumstances warrant. Meritocracy became his principle in selecting commanders while improving the living conditions of the soldiery. As a result, there was an immediate improvement in leadership, conduct and performance of the armed forces.[12]

Magsaysay also totally revamped the way the AFP should fight the insurgents. His military approach was encapsulated in what he told the AFP General Staff: “Gentlemen, I know you all have graduated from military establishments here and in the United States. Now I am telling you to forget everything you were taught at Ft. Leavenworth, Ft. Benning and the Academy. The Huks are fighting an unorthodox war. We are going to combat them in unorthodox ways. Whatever it was that hurt me most as a guerrilla is what we are going to do now to the Huk.”[13] (Italics added)

From the perspective of doctrinal innovation, he introduced a warfighting TRIAD integrating intelligence, combat operations and psychological warfare, better known as “Find Em, Fight Em, Fool Em.”[14] While the foundation of the concept is intelligence and the driver is combat, psychological warfare became the prime catalyst for its success.

One of the greatest gains of the Magsaysay reforms as far as the intelligence picture was concerned was the windfall of information. People who were before reluctant now enthusiastically came forward to provide information on the Huks. As a result, combat and psychological operations became effective due to timely and accurate intelligence. Combat operations on their part became based on small unit actions by Battalion Combat Teams, 1,100-man units that conducted sustained operations against insurgent sanctuaries. Their operations in some cases lasting for months took away the initiative from the Huks and prevented the latter from returning to their bases of support.

The emphasis on psychological warfare showed that success in the war could not be gained by body counts or other quantifiable metrics but through the undermining and ultimate destruction of the Huk moral cohesion and will to fight by fomenting deception and discord among the hardliners and subversion of the rank and file. The last particularly became attractive when government forces greatly improved their conduct.

The reformed and reinvigorated AFP became so successful that the Huks’ back were broken within six months from the time Magsaysay assumed the post as SND and by 1955, the rebellion was finished as a national security threat.

Transforming the Role of the Military in a Counterinsurgency

The tactical innovations pioneered by Magsaysay were paralleled by his transformation of the military’s role in a counterinsurgency. It should be noted that prior to his assumption as SND, the AFP fought the insurgents in the same manner militaries fought them in other parts of the world, with ruthlessness and indiscriminate application of force. Little or no distinction was made between guerillas and civilians while body counts became the accepted measure of success.

Magsaysay took a different path that shows his keen understanding of the war he was fighting. He never saw the conflict purely as a management or public administration issue yet at the same time, he realized that military force should be properly calibrated and employed. Therefore, he made the Armed Forces an instrument for securing the support of the people for their government while making them also an effective instrument for pursuing, capturing, killing, or permanently discouraging the guerrilla. Magsaysay said that every member of the Armed Forces had two missions: He must be an ambassador seeking to build good will for his outfit and his government; he must also be a fighter seeking to kill or capture at least one enemy.[15]

Magsaysay instinctively knew that the conflict against the Huks could not be won by one Branch of Service and the military alone so he stressed a close working relation among the services and between civil and military authorities. In this regard, the Philippine Air Force came into its own as a force that is not merely the handmaid of the Army but one that is effective at all levels of war.[16] In another example, field staffs had a civil affairs officer who was considered a most valuable person for not only acting as liaison with the civilian authorities but also providing a civilian viewpoint during the planning of military operations.[17]

Two of the Magsaysay’s reforms that highlighted the AFP’s transformational role and whose impact worked for the benefit of the larger society were the Army’s legal assistance program and the Economic Development Corps (EDCOR). Recognizing that injustice in the form of lack of access to legal services for the peasants was fuelling the insurgency, Magsaysay assigned PA lawyers to represent the latter in court cases. By doing so, the SND not only directly provided legal assistance to those who needed but it also sent a signal to landlords that the military and the government are behind the peasants. This also has the added advantage of taking the wind out of the Huk propaganda sails of “equal justice for all.”[18]

EDCOR for its part was a response to the Huk propaganda of “land for the landless” which had a powerful attraction with the peasantry. Under the program, a surrendered Huk was taken to a resettlement area and given a small house and six hectares of partly cleared land, which he could hope to own in one or two years. One of the most amazing elements of this program was the government daring Huk Commanders to visit the EDCOR sites under a safe conduct pass with the stipulation that they tell their comrades what they saw. Most impressive of all was that before the end of the rebellion, when many Huks surrendered to the government, the first thing they asked was how they could get their own farm.[19]

Magsaysay’s reforms and impact transcended the defense establishment and he became a living embodiment of integrity and good governance. Edward Lansdale told a story of a postal clerk who was afraid of stealing money out of fear the Secretary of Defense might show up behind him despite the fact that Magsaysay had nothing to do with the Post Office.[20]

For his accomplishments, Magsaysay was touted by no less than the eminent military theorist John Boyd as a practitioner of what the latter termed as moral warfare. According to Boyd, this counter to guerilla warfare waged by the Huks is characterized by the following themes: having no fixed principles for organization, tactics, leadership, etc; wide freedom for subordinates to exercise imagination and initiative, yet harmonized within the intent of superior commanders; heavy reliance upon moral (human values) rather than material superiority as basis for cohesion and ultimate success; and, commanders must create a bond and breadth of experience based upon trust for cohesion. To achieve this atmosphere, leaders (at all levels) must demonstrate requisite physical energy, mental agility and moral authority to inspire subordinates to enthusiastically cooperate and take initiatives within superiors’ intent.[21]

But perhaps the best tribute of its success of Magsaysay’s reforms came from his adversaries himself. Communist Party leader Jesus Lava admitted that when Magsaysay started making reforms in the Philippine Army and in the government generally, it had an impact not only on the movement’s mass support but on the armed (Huk) soldiers as well. Many left because repression was ending…[22]

Joescoundrel
03-26-2014, 11:22 AM
^ (Continued)

Magsaysay’s Reforms as the Foundation of Military Revolution in COIN

In the post Cold War Era the term Revolution in Military Affairs or RMA had become fashionable in the literature of military and defense affairs. Heavily influenced by the overwhelming Coalition victory over Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, experts have touted that a RMA occurred. The influential US defense official Andrew Marshall defined RMA as “major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies, which combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations.”[23]

Some of the most intriguing questions regarding Magsaysay and his military reform concerns its nature. Was it merely a response to the strategic, operational and tactical requirements of a counterinsurgency war or did it transcend the bounds of transformation to actually create a new paradigm in this warfare area? Did its characteristics meet the criteria of RMA considering their lack of a technological element? In other words, was Magsaysay’s reform a military revolution or at least a revolution in military affairs?

According to counterinsurgency experts Colonel Napoleon Valeriano and US Colonel Charles Bohannan, Magsaysay’s greatest success was in leading the counterinsurgency effort to achieve the following: 1) Understand the primary mission—the provision of effective government that represents the wishes of the governed and respects their rights; 2) Ensure that all actions of the government, and its personnel, clearly further the primary mission; 3) Convince the governed that the government is earnestly and effectively seeking to accomplish the functions stated.[24]

The above found strategic expression in the Right Hand-Left Hand Policy the SND enunciated. Also known as “All-Out Friendship or All-Out Force, the policy worked as such: The Hukbalahap who would work for, rather than against the people, (i.e., who would surrender) would receive a friendly welcome and the help he might need to rehabilitate himself. The Hukbalahap who continued to fight against the people and their government would be repaid in his own currency—force.[25]

Right Hand-Left Hand arguably brought dramatic changes in the doctrine of COIN through the “Find Em, Fight Em, Fool Em” warfighting TRIAD, unified action between military and non-military approaches and what could now be termed as security sector reform. Likewise, it highlighted the importance of civilian supremacy over the military in directing the COIN effort as exemplified by Magsaysay himself, thus avoiding militarizing the solution. The organizational changes through the Battalion Combat Teams were also transformational in the sense of being the optimal organization for that type of war combining maneuverability and enough mass. As to the question of Magsaysay’s reforms fundamentally altering the character and conduct of military operations, the answer is definitely yes as it provided a template for successful COIN operations ever since. Regarding the lack of a technology element, perhaps the problem lies more with who conceptualizes RMA and not what. Technology never provided an answer to the challenges of ideology or politically-based insurgencies as evidenced in China in 1949, the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan. For this reason alone, Magsaysay deserves credit at least for developing a revolutionary method for defeating insurgencies.

SOME LESSONS AND CONCLUSION

The reforms instituted by Ramon Magsaysay constituted the AFP’s most successful transformation efforts that should be studied by defense and military officials today as they craft their own transformational efforts. This is not to say that what applied then has direct and specific application to the present; they should be seen as broad references on approaches to address the challenges of military reform and transformation.

Several lessons can be derived from the AFP’s reform experience in the 1950s. First, military reforms should never lose sight of its primary focus: improvement in combat effectiveness. In the final analysis, the performance of armed forces as well as their conception and level of professionalism would be judged in the unforgiving arena of war. This does not mean that reforms in management of resources and administrative process are not important. They should be seen however not as ends in themselves but as enablers that ensure capable, adequately trained and equipped forces that are ready to fight.

Second, military reforms should also amplify the concepts of self-identity of the organization making it clear to its each and every member the answer to the question “who are we” and “what is our purpose?” The issue has now assumed a critical dimension considering the expanding role of the military in non-core functions.[26] In this connection one of the targets of reform effort should be doctrines. As one study noted, doctrine is significant because it captures not only the strategic concepts and operational-tactical proclivities of armies. It also expresses their soul-forces, or self-concepts of warriordom… The self-concept of a fighting force is what gets it to the finish line against long odds… This important aspect of military doctrine also links forces to the society that supports them by defining a relationship between citizen and armed force.[27](Italics added)

Third, military reforms are not just improvements of individual components but are systemic and run the whole gamut of armed forces activities. These usually involve changes in doctrine, organization, training, capability development and professional military education. Done right, these can become the very drivers of transformation and even catalysts for military revolution.

Fourth, military reform whose objective is combat effectiveness is a concern not only of the armed forces but of the civilian policy makers. The latter cannot limit their attention on policy-making and leave operational and tactical improvements solely to the military. They actually have a responsibility to support and oversee these improvements. To paraphrase France World War One leader, Georges Clemenceau, military reform is much too important to be left to the military. What is needed is a partnership between civilian policy makers and the military leadership in what is termed as an “unequal dialogue” – a dialogue in which both sides express their views bluntly and not once but repeatedly, and unequal, in that the final authority of the civilian leader is unambiguous and unquestioned. In this, Magsaysay should be held as a model of successful civilian leadership of military reform effort.

Fifth, systemic improvements to military organizations could be part of wider efforts to improve not only the armed forces but also the whole defense/national security apparatus or even as part of social transformation. Magsaysay’s EDCOR Program, civic action and employment of Army lawyers to assist peasants in legal cases against landowners stand out as examples of how the left hand component of his counterinsurgency strategy led to improvements in the socio-economic conditions of the masses while at the same time greatly improved the standing of the government as it was now seen as putting its weight behind providing social justice. The case of the postal clerk also highlighted the transcendent character of Magsaysay’s emphasis on integrity and good governance.

Last but not the least, is the importance of “ownership” of the reform effort among military leaders at all levels. Implementing military reform is and should not be limited to the senior officer corps but should permeate the mid- and junior-levels. As “owners,” senior leaders can become the sponsors or drivers; mid-level officers can become catalysts; both can be the sustainers; and junior leaders can become end-users of what their superiors produced. Joint “ownership” also reflects a unity of purpose and outlook among the members of the organization that adds to the credibility of the reform effort. In this connection, one common characteristic of successful military reforms is that their architects enjoy the trust and confidence of the armed forces and the people.

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines undertakes its reform and transformation efforts, it is hoped that military leaders and civilian policy makers would not lose sight that the success of their efforts will be ultimately tested in the battlefields the AFP may find itself fighting. On how well our soldiers, sailors and airmen can or be ready to fight will hinge history’s verdict on these reforms.

Joescoundrel
03-26-2014, 11:23 AM
^ (Continued)

You can find the end notes here: http://malacanang.gov.ph/7759-magsaysay-and-the-afp-a-historical-case-study-of-military-reform-and-transformation/

Joescoundrel
02-06-2017, 09:41 AM
Duterte orders arrest of all NDF consultants

By: Cris Diaz, Philippines News Agency

February 5, 2017 9:20 PM

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City - A visibly irked President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has ordered the arrest of all consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) now in Oslo, Norway - his third stunning declaration in three days, after declaring Friday the immediate lifting of the government's unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels; and on Saturday, the cancellation of the peace talks that had just finished the third round in Rome.

He announced his order to arrest the NDF consultants after visiting the wake of slain Army soldiers Sunday afternoon.

Duterte issued the order during a brief interview with the local media here as he emerged from a closed-door “executive session” with top military officials in Northern Mindanao.

He said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest all NDF consultants, who were earlier released from prison, once they return home from Oslo, Norway.

About 22 known ranking leaders of the NDF in the country were released from prison to join the peace negotiations with the government panel and the NDF in Norway mid-August last year.

Calls them 'terrorist'

Calling them "terrorist," the visibly angry Duterte pointed out that the NDF consultants are facing various criminal charges in various courts in the country.

He said he would order the Bureau of Immigration to cancel the passports of the released NDF consultants, if they do not come home.

"Well, if they want an asylum, they could apply an asylum to where they are now because we would definitely arrest and put them behind bars to answer charges against them once they arrive in the country," Duterte said.

The President also instructed the Philippine delegation to the peace negotiations to go home after telling the government panel to pull out from the talks with the NDF.

He said that he had seriously considered ending the 50-year insurgency war, and this prompted him to release the NDF prisoners to serve as consultants to the peace panel.

"Considering the criminal cases filed against the released NDF consultants, the courts lamented that we asked for consideration in the name of peace," Duterte said.

While expressing anger and resentment, Duterte, however, offered an olive branch to the communist rebels in the mountains who want to surrender.

"I asked them (NPA) to come down from the hills and surrender. I will provide them protection and find money and provide them land under the government’s agrarian reform program," Duterte said.

Vow to help kin of slain soldiers

The President visited this largest army camp in the Northern Mindanao Sunday afternoon to pay respects to the three army soldiers who were killed by NPA rebels in Bukidnon last Wednesday.

Arriving about 2:20 p.m. Sunday at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental, Duterte took the presidential chopper -- escorted by two helicopter gunships -- and flew to this camp where the three soldiers lay in state in the military chapel.

Duterte offered a silent prayer as he paused before each of the caskets of Sgt. Owen B. Yee, Corporal Ni?o Christopher L. Talabor, and Cpl. Pat O. Non.

All of the army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, they were killed in a rebel checkpoint in an outskirt village in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon last Wednesday.

After the silent prayer, the President individually placed the military medals on top of each casket and executed a snappy salute.

Duterte then conferred with the widows and family members of the slain soldiers: he extended cash assistance to each widow, promised scholarships to the children and employment of family members in the local government.

He vowed to give justice to the slain army troopers.

The President held an executive session with top military officials in Northern Mindanao before flying back to Laguindingan Airport about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Joescoundrel
12-13-2017, 01:45 PM
From Business World Online ...

Shopping for tanks

December 13, 2017

By Jose Antonio Custodio

During the Battle of Marawi, many observers pointed to the lack of anything in the arsenal of the Philippine military that had the necessary heavy firepower to engage and eliminate strongly defended targets and adequate armor to protect against incoming enemy fire.

The military even lacked a decent tank. Almost nothing in the Philippine military's inventory of armored vehicles matches the basic definition of a tank. There is, of course, the British FV101 Scorpion light tank, of which very few units remain in the army, but it is considered a reconnaissance vehicle more than a true tank. Turrets of decommissioned Scorpions have been married to M113 armored personnel carriers to create a fire support vehicle. However, the design is inadequate given the vulnerability of the M113's vertical aluminum armor that can be penetrated by heavy machine gun fire or set ablaze by rocket propelled grenades. That explains all the add-on armor of wood and galvanized sheets or anything Filipino soldiers could mount on their armored vehicles to defeat RPG attacks. From among Filipino troops came remarks that perhaps there would be a need to acquire a real tank to increase firepower and survivability in future combat situations.

Acquiring a tank has been an elusive goal for the Philippine Army. Three reasons usually are made against proposals to acquire one. First, that tanks are not needed in counter insurgency. Second, that the Philippines is not tank country or not suitable for tanks. Third, that such vehicles are expensive.

However, these reasons fly against historical evidence.

During the Second World War, both the Japanese and American forces deployed hundreds of tanks during the 1941-1942 invasion campaign and the 1944-1945 liberation campaign. In fact, at least two tank battles were fought in the Philippines between these opposing armies, one at Bulacan and the other at Pangasinan. During the Battle for the Liberation of Manila in 1945, the Americans used Sherman medium tanks to eliminate Japanese defenses in built-up areas. These disprove the claim that the Philippines is ill-suited for tanks.

The postwar Philippine Army was an extensive user of left-over Sherman tanks against Huk rebels and in the 1960s the United States supplied a company of modern M41 Walker Bulldog light tanks to the Philippines. The M41, despite its light tank designation, was more of a medium tank and, with its high velocity dual 76-mm gun, was capable of destroying Russian and Chinese-made T-54 main battle tanks during the Vietnam War. The PA used that tank until the early 1980s.

The last tank ever purchased by the Philippines was the FV101 Scorpion in the mid-1970s, a response to the MNLF rebellion. This contradicts the argument that they are not needed in counter insurgency operations. Yet by some inexplicable phenomenon, despite voluminous texts and photographic evidences on the use of tanks in the Philippines, some entity deep within the bowels of the Philippine defense sector decreed that tanks are not useful in the country, and it has been that way in the past 30 years.

Once again there is a revival in interest within the Philippine military in acquiring tanks for the modernization program. The problem though is that, left to the devices of the Sisyphean momentum of the modernization program, an acquisition may only be realized many years from now, if at all. That being said, the threat exists, and there are rumors of Maute reorganizing, secessionist rebels posturing, and even possible future targets being cited, such as Cotabato City. In other words, the situation is very fluid.

An alternative solution is to acquire a stop gap tank and identify an affordable one that is available in surplus and easy to use. A possible candidate is again the M41 Walker Bulldog. It is still in the inventory of Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan, and in large numbers with many modernized or in storage to be used in emergencies. As these are considered as originally property of the US perhaps Washington can mediate for the quick transfer of a dozen units with logistical and maintenance lifelines following consultations and meetings. Thailand once turned over excess American supplied OV10 Broncos to the Philippines. These would not be expensive for the PA to operationalize within a short period to face any contingency in the near future.

There is a military axiom that goes like so: "Do not plan your next battle by fighting your last battle." This means that your opponent would have adapted and would have come up with a means to defeat the methods you used to win. Hence, Philippine rebels and terrorists of whatever stripe and color would have taken down notes during the recently concluded Battle of Marawi and may just conduct their next assault in a different manner. It is then the defense sector's responsibility to plan accordingly for any eventuality and not dismiss something on the basis of flawed assumptions.

Jose Antonio Custodio is a Non-Resident Security Fellow, Stratbase ADR Institute.

Joescoundrel
12-28-2017, 07:32 AM
That sinking feeling: The story behind Navy chief's sudden fall

By: Nikko Dizon - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:10 AM December 28, 2017

The commander of the Philippine Navy was sacked on Dec. 18 in a move so abrupt that even the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, was surprised.

When word of it came, Guerrero assured the Navy chief, Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado, that there was "no directive" to fire him.

But less than an hour later, Guerrero texted Mercado to tell him that indeed he had been fired.

P15.5-B warship deal

Before that, word had been going around that Mercado would be sacked because of a dispute with officials at the Department of National Defense (DND) over the Navy's P15.5-billion contract for warships.

Still, the transfer of command to Rear Adm. Robert Empedrad, who was sworn in on Dec. 19, came so abruptly it sent shock waves through the entire military.

A ranking Navy official, requesting anonymity, said the incident sent a "chilling message" to the military that anyone, even a flag officer in command (FOIC), can be relieved unceremoniously.

Mercado had supported the Navy project management team's stand on various issues that came up against Hyundai Heavy Industries, the South Korean company that was awarded the warships contract.

A number of officers and other service members believed Mercado, in holding the line on the warship contract, was just protecting the Navy's interest.

The DND, however, believed otherwise.

Canned by phone

Mercado learned about his dismissal while presiding over the year-end command conference of the Navy and the Marines at the Philippine Navy Officers Club in Taguig City on Dec. 18.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Guerrero were with President Duterte at the time touring storm damage in Biliran province.

Sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., word that Mercado had been sacked came by phone, with an aide relaying it to the Navy chief at the conference.

Verbal directives are not uncommon in the military, especially if the decision had been previously discussed, but the written orders follow.

Mercado texted Guerrero about the phoned-in directive. The military chief replied in the negative, only to text an hour later to confirm to Mercado that he had been sacked.

What happened between the denials and the confirmation is hazy.

Benighted 'guidance'

On Dec. 24, Lorenzana confirmed to the Inquirer that Mercado?s relief was decided on the night of Dec. 18 - a puzzle, because Mercado learned that he had been sacked between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. that day.

"So while we were in Biliran, I directed General Guerrero to implement his relief the following day," Lorenzana said.

The defense chief did not deny that Guerrero had earlier told Mercado that talk of his relief was not true, that there was no directive.

"Because that was the only time we received the guidance," Lorenzana said.

He did not reply when the Inquirer asked if the "guidance" came from President Duterte.

In a news conference on Dec. 20, Lorenzana, his voice certain, said the decision to fire Mercado was his.

Unsigned letter

It was known, however, that he did not sign a four-page letter to the President recommending Mercado's dismissal.

The unsigned letter was leaked to the press in early December.

In that letter, Lorenzana accused Mercado of delaying the warship program with insistence on tapping Tacticos Thales to install the combat management system on two frigates that the Navy was acquiring from Hyundai.

But the Navy's contract with Hyundai stipulates options between Hanwha Thales of South Korea, a subcontractor of Hyundai, and Tacticos Thales of the Netherlands to provide the combat management system for the warships.

Lorenzana's words at the news conference were exactly the contents of his unsigned letter to Mr. Duterte.

He did not deny the leaked letter, which pictured Mercado as an insubordinate and uncooperative official whose whims had delayed one of the biggest, if not the biggest, projects in the military's modernization program.

Hanwha dissolved

An Inquirer source said one reason why Mercado wanted to go with Tacticos Thales was the dissolution of the Hanwha Thales consortium in July 2016, way before the contract was signed with Hyundai.

Hyundai, however, wanted to use Hanwha Systems, the subcontractor that had replaced Hanwha Thales, for the job.

The source said that Lorenzana and Mercado met on Dec. 3 and the Navy chief assured the defense secretary that he was not delaying the warship program.

Lorenzana, the source said, told Mercado that he did not sign the letter to Mr. Duterte.

In that letter, Lorenzana said he formed a steering committee headed by Defense Undersecretary for Finance and Materiel Raymundo Elefante to resolve the issue with the Navy's project management team.

As head of the steering committee, Elefante had the "authority to resolve the technical issues" between the Navy and Hyundai, according to the leaked letter.

It also said the committee's resolution "affirmed" Hyundai?s selection of the combat management system provider.

And it stated that the committee's findings and recommendation would be part of the contract between the Navy and Hyundai.

Curiously, the letter also said that Mercado had told the DND through a letter "to proceed without haste on the execution of the project as per contract agreement," which meant the former Navy chief had already agreed to what the DND wanted.

Breach of procurement law

At least two sources, however, said the formation of the steering committee violated the Government Procurement Act, which does not provide for a steering committee but for a technical working group to serve as the technical arm of the bids and awards committee.

Lorenzana dissolved the steering committee in the first week of December.

According to the leaked letter, the DND staff and Empedrad, as the warship program technical adviser, urged Lorenzana in August to direct then AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano to instruct the Navy to follow Hyundai's technical advice to avoid further delay in the acquisition of the frigates.

On the sidelines of the celebration of Armed Forces of the Philippines Day on Dec. 19, Empedrad told reporters that the warship program was on schedule.

Joescoundrel
12-28-2017, 09:52 AM
AFP modernization 2017: Marawi siege 'game changers' in spotlight

By: Frances Mangosing - Reporter / @FMangosingINQ INQUIRER.net / 01:18 PM December 27, 2017

Modernization efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines continued to roll this year despite occasional delays and controversies.

The year 2017 was a shining moment for the FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers during the five-month battle in Marawi between government forces and ISIS-inspired terrorists, the biggest security crisis under the current administration and the bloodiest local urban war in recent memory.

Here's a recap of some of the acquired assets and signed deals for the military this year:

Completion of the delivery of FA-50 fighter jets

The delivery of eight brand new FA-50 lead-in fighter trainers from Korea Aerospace Industries this year completed the Air Force's squadron or 12 units it procured. Bought for P18.9 billion, the biggest modernization project sometimes criticized by President Rodrigo Duterte proved useful in destroying ISIS strongholds and clearing the path of ground troops during the Marawi crisis. At the heroes' welcome last November for the airmen who participated in the liberation of Marawi, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Kintanar described the FA-50s as the "game changers" during the siege and "the sharpest tip of our airpower spear," alongside the AW-109 attack helicopters. Then AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Ano also said the war could have lasted longer without these air assets.

Air-to-air missiles for FA-50s

As an addition to its weapons inventory, the Department of National Defense (DND) ordered about P1-B worth of AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for the Philippine Air Force's FA-50 fighter jets from Diehl Raytheon of Germany last September. Details on the delivery were not provided for security reasons.

Flight Simulator System for FA-50s

The Air Force is further developing its flight skills through the latest technology by acquiring a flight simulator system for its FA-50s. The DND signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries in February for the flight simulators worth about $7.8 million or P376 million. South Korean media reported that the purchase includes a cockpit system, navigation system, video system, manuals, repair parts and support equipment. The delivery is expected in 2019.

6 Embraer Super Tucano close air support aircraft

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer Defense and Security was awarded a P4.968-billion contract by the DND for the supply of six new light attack aircraft in November. The planes can be used for surveillance, interception, and counterinsurgency missions, a great addition to the Air Force's airpower capabilities. The planes are expected starting 2019.

Spike ER missile system

The Rafael Advanced Defense System Ltd.'s Spike ER (extended range) missile systems from Israel were expected to be mounted on the Navy's multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC) by Christmas time. An Air Force C-130 was supposed to pick up the missiles from Israel but the plane was diverted to disaster relief after two consecutive typhoons hit Mindanao. Instead, the missiles and launchers will be delivered by January next year as originally stated in the contract. The missiles can engage surface targets as far out as eight kilometers.

Commissioning of BRP Davao del Sur

The BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602), commissioned into service early this year, is the Philippine Navy's second amphibious landing dock vessel after BRP Tarlac (LD-601). The two brand new ships from Indonesia cost P4 billion. These assets were deployed to transport personnel and equipment during the Marawi crisis. It also conducted relief operations to typhoon-stricken areas this month.

Aerostat radar for the Navy

The United States donated a tethered aerostat radar system (TARS) to the Navy last August in a bid to enhance the latter's maritime surveillance and disaster response capabilities. The radar system was pledged during the time of President Barack Obama under the US government?s Maritime Security Initiative.

The 28M Class TARS can soar to an altitude of 5,000 feet while tethered by a single cable. It is stationed at the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales.

5 TC-90 Beechcraft surveillance aircraft from Japan

The five refurbished TC-90 Beechcraft surveillance planes that the Japanese government earlier leased to the Philippines have been donated instead after the bilateral talks of the two governments at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit last November.

Two of the TC-90s were delivered in March, while the rest are scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2018. One of the two planes delivered was already commissioned into service in late November. It will be used by the Naval Air Group.

Activation of three Mk.3 MPACs

The Navy activated three Mark III models of MPAC into its inventory last May. These assets can be used for surface warfare, ship building, search and rescue. The P270-million project was constructed by Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation and Taiwanese shipbuilder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Corporation. It will be armed with the Spike ER missiles from Israel early next year.

Howitzers and KM450 trucks

A dozen of Elbit-Soltam M-71 155mm/39CAL towed howitzers from Israel with an estimated worth of P410 million were delivered to the Philippines this year, two years after the contract was signed. The Marines and Army received six each of the artillery piece.

The DND also signed a government-to-government contract last October for Korean military trucks to be used by the Army and the Marines. The 227 units of KM 250 1/2 ton trucks and 10 KM250 2 1/2 ton wreckers have a value of about P1.4 billion, while the 108 KM450 1 1/4 trucks for Marines are worth about P313 million. The deal was signed with Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.