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Thread: Our Country's Needed Military Upgrade

  1. #51
    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.

  2. #52
    Why the Hamilton-class ships are worth it–military, defense experts

    By Frances Mangosing

    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, 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.

  3. #53
    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.

  4. #54
    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.

    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?

  5. #55
    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

  6. #56
    DND: No consensus yet on P18.9-B fighter jets' purchase

    By Alexis Romero

    ( | 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.

  7. #57
    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.


    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?

  8. #58
    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.

  9. #59
    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.

  10. #60
    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.

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