AFP chief Sobejana calls for vigilance in Maguindanao after BIFF threat in Datu Paglas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021   •   503

 

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana called on local officials and residents in Maguindanao to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“I enjoin the populace of and local leaders in Maguindanao to remain vigilant as we continue our watch until peace is stabilized,” Sobejana said in a statement.

On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market.

But state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.

No civilian or military casualties were reported.

Elements from the Joint Task Central and the 601st Infantry Brigade dealt with the group, which has been the subject of intense military operations for the past days, the AFP said.

Karialan and his group were said to be the ones behind the reported explosions in Datu Saudi Ampatuan in March 2021 and caused the death of two civilians and wounding of two others.

“The extremist groups were forced to withdraw in the same morning after security forces were able to isolate the area. The national highway was again open for public commuters at around 10:30 in the morning of the same day after the clearing of the area was confirmed by security forces,” JTF Central spokesperson Lt. Col. John Baldomar said.

The military recovered four improvised explosive devices left by the BIFF members.

Sobjana said the situation has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”

“Let us continue to engage local government authorities, stakeholders, and civilians to ensure that peace and security in Datu Paglas and its neighboring towns are preserved,” Sobejana said.

PH Air Force receives last batch of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters – AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   December 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Air Force has completed its fleet of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

In a statement, the AFP said the third and final batch of choppers have been delivered and turned over to the Philippine Air Force.

The formal acceptance and turnover of five additional helicopters was held at the Clark Air Base on Friday, December 3.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Andres Centino led the ceremony, which was also witnessed by other military and government officials.

The AFP said the five helicopters were part of the total 16 units ordered by the military.

The first batch of six was delivered in November 2020 while the other five received in October this year, it added.

The S-70i Black Hawk helicopters are being used in transporting COVID-19 vaccine supplies to far-flung and hard to reach areas in the country.

These units are also being used to support various military missions, including quick response for humanitarian aid.

Duterte names Army chief Centino as next AFP chief

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Andres Centino as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Malacañang said Friday.

“We confirm that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved and signed the designation of LGEN Andres Centino as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) effective November 12, 2021,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Centino will replace General Jose Faustino Jr. who is retiring from service as he reaches the mandatory age of 56.

“We are confident that Gen. Centino will continue the initiatives of his predecessors to bring lasting peace and development in the country while securing the State and upgrading our defense capability,” Roque said.

“We wish the success of Gen. Centino in his new role as AFP Chief,” he added.

Centino is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Maringal Class of 1988.

Meanwhile, the AFP said Centino’s designation “will prompt an upward movement in the AFP leadership that will further inspire our soldiers to surpass challenges with excellence and continue our campaign towards genuine transformation.”

“He has immense knowledge and experience in leading our troops on the ground and in supporting peaceful efforts to protect our people against various threats,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala said in a separate statement.

“His integrity, management acumen and genuine desire for peace and development make him a competent leader who shall guide the AFP in fulfilling its mission while supporting national efforts to battle the current pandemic,” he added.

Prior to his appointment, Centino served as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations and infantry division commander in Northern Mindanao.

Military Black Hawk choppers deployed to aid missions in Western Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2021

Two Black Hawk helicopters acquired by the Philippine military have been deployed to the Western Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday.

In a statement, the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said its major Air Force Unit, Tactical Operations Wing-Western Mindanao (TOW-WM), has received the S70i Black Hawk Utility helicopters on November 4 at the Edwin Andrews Air Base.

These units will be used to aid in various missions, including support in combat operations and quick response for humanitarian aid, it added.

“We are very grateful that the top brass considered the deployment of these air assets which will greatly contribute to the accomplishment of our missions here in Western Mindanao,” said WestMinCom Commander, Maj. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, Jr.

Colonel Dennis Estrella, wing commander of the TOW-WM, said that the deployment of the Blackhawk helicopters will boost the capability of the armed forces in both lethal and non-lethal operations.

“Expect that with the deployment of the Black Hawk helicopters in our unit, our operations will greatly improve as these helicopters have larger capacity and more impressive horsepower allowing a faster and longer-range transport. In addition, the said helicopters have the ability to absorb high-impact velocities enabling it to withstand strong turbulent winds,” Estrella said.

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