PH strengthens border security with Indonesia, Malaysia

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019   •   1914

Participants are seen gathering near a Royal Malaysian Navy (RAM) patrol gunboat at the port of Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, 27 November 2018. The RMN is participating the Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (INDOMALPHI) 4th Trilateral Maritime training exercise to enhance joint patrol with the three navies aiming to combat the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and pirates operating in the common borders of the three nations in southern Philippines. EPA-EFE/LAURENZ CASTILLO

MANILA, Philippines – Backdoor entry through the Philippines southern border has made the country susceptible to threats from foreign terrorists.

Thus, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been working with its neighboring countries Indonesia and Malaysia to further strengthen its border security.

In 2017, the three countries entered into an agreement coined as ‘INDOMALPHI’ or Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines Trilateral Cooperative Agreement which commits the three nations to securing common borders.

“If ever there are reports from let’s say Indonesia or Malaysia that they going here, they have to share that information (to prevent entry of terrorists),” explained AFP Chief of Staff General Noel Clement.

“The same is true also if we have reports that we have fighters that are coming here and going to their respective countries,” he added.

The AFP admits, however, that the lack of floating assets of its naval arm – the Philippine Navy – gives foreign terrorists the chance to penetrate the country’s territories like the suicide bombers in the Sulu attack.

Worse, these terrorists teach their local counterparts how to create explosives and execute their plans, according to Clement.

“Ang kanilang intention bakit sila nandito is para makapag-conduct ng kanilang mga terroristic activities particular ang pagbobomba (Their intentions for entering our territory include conducting terrorist activities particularly bombings),” the official said.

“Hindi natin dapat payagan ito because kapag naisagawa nila yung kanilang mga hangarin na ito ay maraming mape-perwisyo at madadamay, (We won’t allow that because if they succeed in their plans, many people will suffer),” he added.

The ‘INDOMALPHI” is conducting joint maritime exercises aimed at strengthening capabilities against sea-jacking, piracy, smuggling and other illegal activities at sea.

Meanwhile, the AFP also tapped the support of the fishing industry in ZAMBASULTA area to augment as force multipliers in guarding and protecting the waters within the Philippine territorial jurisdiction. – MNP (with details from Dante Amento)

PCG boosts recruitment to strengthen PH maritime security

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is continuously recruiting to achieve the ideal number of 72,000 personnel in order to fully execute its mandate of protecting the country’s 36,000 kilometer long coastline.

The PCG said there have been sightings of Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG Commandant VADM Leopoldo Laroya said tensions between PCG personnel and Chinese mariners do occur at times.

“Mayroon pakonti-konti na nilalapitan ng [Philippine] Coast Guard. We also maintain a constant patrol in the area and when challenged, they sometimes challenge our challenge but in the end they leave,” he said.

The PCG was able to increase its force from 7,000 personnel in 2016 to 20,600 coast guards this year.

In 2021 alone, the PCG was able to hire around 4,000 new recruits.

In the next five years, the agency is confident of having around 36,000 personnel.

Aside from border security, the PCG is also focused on assisting all returning overseas Filipinos.

“Marami kaming tao na nagkaka-COVID pero meron din namang kapalit. And all our people are being taken care of,” Laroya assured.

As for seafarers, the Maritime Industry Authority (MIA) through the Commission on Higher Eduction (CHED) is requesting the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow face-to-face classes for maritime students.

The agency said the pandemic has prevented the industry from producing new seafarer-graduates for two years in a row.

“Hanggang ngayon hindi allowed yung ODT aboardship. So habang wala pang guidance to allow it, then we will continue not to graduate our Filipino seafarers,” explained MIA Administrator VADM Robert Empedrad.

The official said it is still to the advantage of the Philippines to have sufficient number of seafarers for its local maritime operations. MNP (with Rey Pelayo)

COVID-19 inoculation mandatory but soldiers can choose brand – AFP spox

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The vaccination of military personnel against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be mandatory although the soldiers can choose which brand to receive, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.

In a virtual press briefing, AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said all soldiers will be obliged to get inoculated as ordered by AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.

The directive came even as the military has yet to ascertain where its vaccine supply will be coming from, or if they are among those who will receive the first 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

“Ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas po is not like any ordinary organizations. Tayo po ay nasa service-orientated organization. Tayo po ang inaasahan sa napakaraming mabibigat na tungkulin kagaya nga po ng pagharap sa pandemya as early as 2020. Kaya sinabi natin na hindi opsyon ang pag-ayaw. Subalit kinikilala natin yung kanilang kagustuhan ng brand na gusto nila” he said.

Military personnel who will be choosing other brands of the vaccine will need to pay for their own jabs, Arevalo said.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face sanctions under military rules, he added.

“We are an organization under military regulations. So, ang pagtupad sa mga regulasyon o sa mga tinatadhana ng existing legal orders buhat sa ating mga superiors just like this one from the AFP Chief of Staff, no less, will be dealt with disciplinary actions kung hindi nila susundin,” he said.

“But we are confident na hindi na tayo darating sa punto na iyon,” he added.

The AFP said all its employees and troops assigned in the medical and healthcare units will be the first to get inoculated against COVID-19.

The donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from China are expected to arrive in the country this weekend. RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

AFP Chief assures: military mandated to secure country; not threaten people

Marje Pelayo   •   February 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana underscored that the military is instituted to secure the country and serve its people, and not to threaten anyone.

“The reason of our existence is serving the people and securing the land, no threatening among our constituents,” Sobejena said.

“Paano kami magiging effective public servant if we threaten them, unless they are identified as enemies of the state,” he added.

Sobejana made the statement in connection to the possible lawsuit that National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Spokesperson Lt. General Antonio Parlade plans to file against a reporter of Inquirer.Net.

Sobejena, however, said that whatever Parlade says as spokesperson of NTF-ELCAC also reflects the stand of the AFP as he is an officer of the military.

“We will discuss this matter together. He is part of the armed forces pero for now, nadesignate siya as spokesperson, reflective pa rin sa organization. That’s why we need to discuss all these things para ma thresh out natin lahat,” the AFP Chief of Staff said.

The issue stemmed from a Facebook post of Gen. Parlade accusing Inquirer.net journalist Tech Torres-Tupas of being a propagandist when the latter featured a story involving a petition in the Supreme Court that was filed by an Aeta tribe against the military for allegedly torturing them.

In the said post, Parlade denied the incident and threatened to charge the journalist in court for supporting the terrorists by spreading false information. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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