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Showing posts from March, 2013

British arms industry sets sights on AFP modernization

MANILA - The British arms industry wants to supply the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) with state-of-the-art weaponry.

UK Ambassador Stephen Lillie told reporters on Monday night that two British business delegations are in town to explore trade opportunities here.

An eight-person delegation active in the aid-funded business sector will meet with the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) to explore opportunities linked to the regional lender's projects not only in the Philippines but also across Asia.

Cheryl Boxall, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Aid-funded Business Service Project manager, said the group is interested in agriculture, education, health, mining, power, public transportation, among others.

Thirteen British companies in the defense sector are also in Manila following earlier discussions with the DND. The delegation will meet with officials of the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the two-day UK Defence and Technology Event…

Salvage team begins cutting of USS Guardian’s engine room

MANILA, Philippines – The USS Guardian dismantling operation continued during the weekend in preparation for the cutting of the US Navy minesweeper’s engine room, according to the spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, also chief of the PCG’s public affairs office, on Sunday said the US Navy-contracted salvage team was “in the process of clearing the USS Guardian’s engine room and the lower deck of equipment, loose materials and debris.”
In a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he also disclosed that “good weather in the Tubbataha Reef (in the Sulu Sea) has allowed the salvage operation to progress.” “Wind speeds of 10 to 15 knots and waves of 0.6 to 1 meter are prevailing in the reef area,” noted Balilo.
The salvage team “has dismantled over 50 percent of the USS Guardian,” said the Coast Guard’s Palawan district in a report to the PCG headquarters in Manila.
The Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessel BRP Romblon (SARV 3503) is closely mon…

AFP: 21 Filipino peacekeepers likely to finish their tours

MANILA, March 18 (PNA) - The 21 Filipino peacekeepers, earlier captured and released by Syrian rebels while conducting a logistics run at the Golan Heights this month, are likely to finish their tour of duty after successfully passing their debriefing, physical and medical examinations Sunday.

“All indications point to our peacekeepers returning to their posts and finishing their respective tour of duty,” AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos, Jr., said.

The 21 Filipino military men were subjected to tests to determine their psychological, physical, and mental dispositions after being held for four days by Syrian rebels.

The soldiers, part of a 300-strong Philippine peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights, were captured by rebels while on a logistics run on March 6.

They were later released on March 10.

The Philippines has been maintaining a peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights since the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) implemented the 1974 UN Security Council resol…

AFP to maintain military assets off Tawi-Tawi

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday announced that it will still continue to maintain its forces in Tawi-Tawi to ssist in the ongoing humanitarian efforts for Filipino families displaced in the fighting in Sabah. “We’re going to continue maintaining the function of these assets for humanitarian purposes,” AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo M. Burgos, Jr., said. Around 34 Philippine Navy (PN) ships, a Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo plane and two battalions of troops are currently deployed in Tawi-Tawi. These military assets are primarily used in the transporting of displaced individuals, relief goods and medical supplies. “With the enormity of the tasks, we can expect that additional manpower would be needed or deployed on the field,” Burgos said. On Wednesday, the AFP said it has increased its assets near Sabah, citing that it has deployed 34 Navy ships in the areas near Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Sulu. The PN initially maintained a naval blockade composed of ten…

Six nations to join in talks during US-Philippines drill

Manila, March 18 (IANS) Australia, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will take part in a maritime security discussion with the US and the Philippines during a military exercise to be held in April, a Philippine official said. The "Multinational Maritime Security Roundtable Discussion" is part of the upcoming Balikatan Exercise 2013, Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was quoted as saying by Xinhua. The exercises will take place April 5-17. However, the six other countries will not be taking part in the actual field training exercises which will be limited to Filipino and US forces alone, the official said. "The roundtable discussion seeks to determine specific humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in high- traffic international waters, and build response confidence among multi-national partners," said Burgos. "The event will be one of the highlights of this year's military exercise …

Balikatan 2013 kicks off April 5

MANILA, Philippines – About 8,000 soldiers from the United States and Philippines will participate in this year’s 29th Balikatan exercises in April, the military said Tuesday.
“High-ranking military officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, United States military, and other partner countries’ military will convene for the Multinational Maritime Table-Top Exercise (TTX) here in Camp Aguinaldo this April. This will be the highlight of the upcoming Balikatan Exercise 2013 which will kick off on April 5, 2013 here, and will run until April 17,” Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., military spokesman said in a statement.
The aim of the TTX is to determine specific Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations in high-traffic international waters, and build response confidence among multi-national partners.
Armed forces personnel from both countries will conduct combined staff exercises and field training at Camp O’Donnell, Crow Valley, Subic Bay and Fort Magsaysay “to…

Salvage ops for USS Guardian half-way done - Task Force Tubbataha

Salvage crew for USS Guardian
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – Salvage operations for the grounded USS Guardian at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) has now accomplished around 50-percent of its target, Task Force Tubbataha (TFT) said Monday.
Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, head of the TFT and commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Palawan District, said, "We are expecting calm weather in the next three to four days so work will continue on the USS Guardian by the Task Force."
As of Monday, the salvors had cleared pipes and vents at the funnel base of the USS Guardian; lifted remaining portions of the funnel base section at the port side; and cleared all types of interference at the auxiliary machinery room and main machinery room.
They also worked and prepared all machineries at the AMR and MMR for removal; transferred additional hydraulic power unit to the USS Guardian; and opened the top containers for loading of debris.
The 50-percent accomplishment, he added, includes…

Four killed in fresh Sabah shooutout

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian soldier and three militants were killed in a fresh gunfight at Sungai Nyamuk near Kampung Tanjung Batu, Lahad Datu.
Armed Forces chief Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin was quoted by The Star confirming the deaths.
The gunmen killed in the shootout had been moving in a group of five when they were spotted by security forces conducting mopping up operations at 7:45am, the daily said.
Jen Zulkifeli said the soldiers engaged them in a gun fight and forced the men to retreat. The soldiers then tracked the armed group down and engaged them in another shootout three hours later.
It was in this shootout that the soldier, as well as the gunmen, were killed.
The soldier is said to be a Private with the Royal Malay Regiment. Another soldier is also believed to have been injured in the shootout earlier today.
The standoff in sabah shows no signs of abating since the armed intruders - supporters of Jamalul Kiram II, the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu - sneaked into Lahad Datu with a …

PNoy signs law boosting gov't arsenal with P75B

CITY OF BALANGA, Bataan, March 8 (PIA) -- Top officials in Bataan have expressed high hopes on getting beefier national security and economic development after President Aquino signed a law that will provide P75 billion to upgrade the armed forces, benefiting the government arsenal located in the province. 

Republic Act No. 10349 or the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program seeks to develop the army into a multi-mission-oriented force capable of effectively addressing internal and external security threats. 

It has a budget of P75 billion for the first five years of implementation that includes the procurement of major weapon and non-weapon equipment and technology, and the construction of needed major infrastructures. 

Bataan 2nd District Representative Albert Garcia said the law was a “landmark legislation” that was consolidated from his original House Bill No. 76 which sought to modernize the Government Arsenal, the country’s maker of basic weaponry and a…

Strengthening Philippines-Japan Maritime Cooperation

Manila, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan have been promoting bilateral cooperation in the maritime field for several decades, through exchange of views and dialogues between the two countries. For the second time, the two countries held bilateral talks on maritime cooperation in Manila on February 22, 2013. The First Dialogue on Maritime Cooperation between the two countries was held in Tokyo, Japan, on September 9, 2011.
The holding of the Second Philippines-Japan Dialogue on Maritime and Oceanic Affairs followed Japan’s approval of a request by the Philippines for 10 multi-role response vessels under Japan’s soft-loan program. The vessels will be turned over to the country in 18 months.
The two countries discussed various areas of cooperation particularly in maritime safety, maritime security, fisheries and marine scientific research. They exchanged views on programs and actions to promote cooperation in freedom of navigation and safety at sea, and shared best practices on the …

Filipino UN peacekeepers seized in Syria arrive safe in Amman

The United Nations welcomed the release on Saturday of 21 Filipino peacekeepers, who had been seized by Syrian rebels on the Golan Heights, as they crossed to freedom in Jordan after a three-day ordeal. Philippine authorities also expressed relief at the release of the members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). A Jordanian military official said the peacekeepers were greeted by border guards as they crossed from Syria in the afternoon and "underwent medical examinations." They then boarded an army bus and were given a military escort to the east Amman headquarters of the armed forces where they were "handed over to the UN representative in Jordan, Costanza Farina, in the presence of the Philippines ambassador," the official added in a statement. An AFP correspondent said the peacekeepers were also greeted by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, government spokesman Samih Maaytah and Chief of Staff Mashaal al-Zebn. The peacekeepers are members of the UND…

Kidnapped peacekeepers to be freed in coming hours

Rebel commander tells BBC abduction of 21 Filipino soldiers near border with Golan was a mistake
The 21 UN peacekeepers from the Philippines who were kidnapped by Syrian rebels Wednesday will be released on Thursday, a high-ranking rebel commander said. The commander told BBC Arabic that the abduction of the peacekeepers was a mistake and that they would be freed in the coming hours. Video emerged Thursday afternoon showing the peacekeepers saying that they were being treated well. One video shows three men are dressed in camouflage and blue bullet-proof vests emblazoned with the UN and “Philippines.” One of the men says in English says they “are safe and the Free Syrian Army are treating us good.” The other video shows six peacekeepers sitting in a room, and one of them says they are safe. The Philippine government said earlier Thursday that talks were under way for the release of the 21 unarmed peacekeepers, who were kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights in the increasingly volat…

Malaysia incursion toll rises to 60 after new clashes

Malaysia said clashes between intruding Filipino militants and its security forces had left 60 people dead as of late Thursday, as it rejected a ceasefire offer from the fighters' leader. Police chief Ismail Omar said 32 followers of a self-proclaimed Philippine sultan had been killed in two confrontations since Wednesday near the scene of a three-week standoff in Sabah state, after a military assault to dislodge them. That brought the total dead to 60, including 52 militants. Eight Malaysian policemen were killed in skirmishes last weekend. Troops and police are currently hunting the Islamic militants in a remote region of Borneo island, where they landed last month to assert a long-dormant territorial claim in what has become Malaysia's worst security crisis in years. A spokesman for their Manila-based leader, who called for a midday ceasefire, said 235 people including eight women took part in the original incursion. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who flew to the region Thursday to…

BRP Pampanga Joins Salvage Operations of Distressed Chinese Bulker

The Philippine Coast Guard announced yesterday that a Chinese-owned bulk carrier is currently dead on waters after it encountered engine trouble just southwest of Tubbataha Reef along the vicinity off Sulu Sea in Palawan Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Palawan district commander said that his office received an urgent call from officials of the New Filipino Agencies Marine Inc. saying that M/V Tan An Ha, a Panamanian-registered cargo vessel and owned by Tan Ai Shipping based in Fujian, China is currently in a distress situation after its main engine conked out while sailing southwest of the Sulu Sea (Latitude 07° – 4.7°N/ Longitude 119 ° – 40°E). Evangelista said that the cargo-vessel, which came from Singapore, was supposedly on its way to Tagbilaran Port in Bohol to deliver 5,900 tons of limestone shipment when the incident happened. Initial reports from the area disclosed that rough sea conditions continue hammering the vessel and the ship’s captain is…

Philippines, Vietnam agree to boost defense cooperation

MANILA, Philippines - Defense officials of the Philippines and Vietnam have agreed to explore ways to boost the defense cooperation between their countries. The Defense department said Wednesday that the matter was discussed during the meeting of the Joint Defense Cooperation Working Group of the two countries last week in Manila. “The meeting served as a mechanism for reviewing bilateral defense cooperation leading to a discussion of specific proposals on how to enhance defense cooperation between the two countries,” the department said in a statement. “With a Memorandum of Agreement on Defense Cooperation signed in 2010, both sides identified mechanisms to substantiate the agreement,” it added. The mechanisms include “practical cooperative activities” in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and the east that seek to enhance confidence among their respective personnel. The West Philippine Sea has been the subject of a long-standing territorial dispute in the region. China claims virt…

Blue Ridge makes goodwill visit to Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge arrived in Manila for a goodwill port visit March 7. This port visit gives embarked Marines, 7th Fleet staff and Blue Ridge Sailors an opportunity to experience Manila's unique culture and provide Sailors with several community service events. For more than 30 years, Blue Ridge has maintained a presence in Southeast Asia region strengthening allied ties through community service projects and conducting joint military exercises, including the Republic of the Philippines. Blue Ridge Commanding Officer, Capt. Will Pennington said, "Port calls in Manila are a demonstration of the continuing friendship between our two nations, and are a tremendous opportunity for the crew to experience the warm and friendly Filipino culture. Our partnership and alliance is long standing and mutually beneficial. We are looking forward to community service events, sporting games, and subject matter expert exchanges with our Philippine Navy co…

Terms Of Reference for F/A-50 'Golden Eagle' now being crafted

MANILA — The Philippines is now on track to operate again supersonic jet aircraft as the "term of reference" (TOR) for the F/A-50 "Golden Eagle" is now in the works. "Procurement for the F/A-50 will be on a government-to-government basis," the Department of National Defense (DND) observer stressed. He also said the go-ahead signal for the TOR only came last week. The order came from the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), an attached agency of the Department of Budget and Management. The DND observer declined to comment on when the TOR will be completed but stressed that it will be done within the year. But he expressed confidence that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) will be flying the F/A-50 within two years time. The last supersonic planes operated by the country was the Northrop F-5 "Freedom Fighter" which was decommissioned due to lack of parts and air frame aging sometime in 2005. The TOR describes the purpose and structure of a project, co…