Skip to main content

Palace defers to AFP questions on MILF's areas of temporary stay

Malacañang will defer to the Armed Forces of the Philippines the task of threshing out the claim of Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's so-called Areas of Temporary Stay (ATS) no longer exist.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Palace is leaving it to the AFP and Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) on how to observe the ceasefire with the MILF.

“(From a) broader perspective, with respect to ATS and dealings with the MILF and lawless elements, we leave it with the AFP and the CCCH to operationalize those details. We will defer to the AFP," Lacierda said on government-run dzRB radio.

Besides, he said these issues will be discussed between the government and MILF peace panels in Malaysia.

Lacierda also said it is important that the government speak with only one voice on the matter to avoid any confusion.

“Since it’s an operation that requires the expertise of the AFP in conjunction with the CCCH in recognition of ceasefire agreement... mas maayos kung sila ang mag-uusap diyan," he added.

Earlier, Ortiz was quoted as saying the ATS no longer exists, even as he instructed troops in Basilan to continue pursuit operations especially against the lawless elements behind the murder of 19 soldiers in Basilan's Al-Barka town last October.

Ortiz said the ATS was established in 2007 as a result of the encounter in Basilan that resulted in the death of 14 Marines, 10 of whom were beheaded.

Because the 2007 operations had ended, he said the ATS should also have been terminated as well.

MILF should be frank

Lacierda also said the Palace expects the MILF to be “frank and forthright" with the government panel on the issue.

“We expect them to be at arm’s length with us in the peace panel negotiations. We’ve been very forthright and frank with them just as we expect them to be frank and forthright. We are hoping to move to more substantive issues of peace talks and that’s something we are looking forward to," he said.

Meanwhile, Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III has yet to issue instructions to convene the National Security Council (NSC) to address the peace-and-order situation in Mindanao, as suggested by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“We have no word yet on the NSC meeting. that’s being worked on. But the security cluster is already meeting on it. And the president has called for a meeting of some military and Cabinet officials. We look at this as a law enforcement measure," he said.

“I’m not sure if the president is set to convene the NSC. The security cluster is doing its job and the president is giving instructions to the appropriate security agencies," he added.

When asked if the Palace sees no need for the NSC meet at this time, he said, “right now the president has not made mention of any instruction to that effect." — LBG, GMA News


More Philippine Defense News

DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the p…

No reduction in AFP manpower size

THERE will be no reduction in the number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it implements the streamlining of commands by 2013, a senior officer told the Manila Standard in an exclusive interview.
“Under the Force Structure Review, there will be streamlining of units but this does not mean reduction in terms of the number of soldiers. In fact, the FSR calls for more recruits in the future,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
At present, the military has a total of 125,000 soldiers, of which almost 85,000 are in the Army and the rest in the Navy-Marines and Air Force.
The FSR calls for an in-depth study of the AFP history in reference to pertinent laws of the land in conjunction with the challenges of internal and external defense.
The study also calls for the establishment of a strategic command that will focus on external defense where the main force would be the Air Force and Navy.
On instructions of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former military ch…

Duterte visits Pakistan navy ship docked in Manila - CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte toured a Pakistani naval ship Thursday and extended an open invitation to its crew to visit the country any time.

The Navy Ship SAIF, one of the four F-22P or Zulfiguar-class frigates of Pakistan, is on a three-day goodwill visit. It will stay in the country until December 17.

For more about the CNN Philippines article.

According to the Naval Technology website:
The F-22P or Zulfiquar (English: Sword) class frigate is a 2,500t multi-mission, conventionally powered frigate built for the Pakistan Navy. Design and construction of the F-22P started after a $750m deal was signed in 2005 between Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) and China Shipbuilding Trading Co (CSTC). It is equipped with a 76.2mm main gun, an 8 round FM-90 Surface-to-Air Missile, C-802/CSS N-8 Surface-to-Surface Missile in 2 containers each containing 4 missiles, 2 Type-730B 30mm Close-in Weapon System, and 2 Triple ET-52C Torp…