DND-AFP opens its heart on Valentines Day, makes Congresswoman Roman, Philippines’ First Transgender Military officer

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City – On Valentine’s Day, a historic event for gender equality is transpiring at the Department of National Defense (DND) and in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as it will be commissioning its first transgender military officer. Congresswoman Geraldine Roman of Bataan, the country’s first transgender national legislator, applied to join the AFP Reserve Force last 2017 and will be having her Donning of Ranks Ceremony today to be led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

She will be getting the reservist rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Philippine Army.

“War and disaster does not recognize gender, it affects everybody, and everyone must defend themselves, their families, their communities, and our country, that is why I am joining the AFP Reserve Force. We are very lucky to have a Strongman Leader and a snappy AFP Commander-in-Chief right now in the person of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and I was also inspired when I saw Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as a reservist Colonel in the AFP Reserve Force. Today, Valentine’s Day, I thank Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff- General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, for opening the hearts of the country’s military organization, to me. I am the country’s first transgender Congresswoman, and today, I am also fortunate to become the country’s first transgender military officer. I dedicate this military rank to my constituents in Bataan, to my fellow LGBTs across the archipelago, and to millions of our countrymen who aspire to transform themselves into something better and to become servant-leaders & defenders of their community and of our country.” Congresswoman Roman said.

She will be commissioned in the AFP Reserve Force together with Congressman Edwin Ong (Northern Samar) and Congresswoman Divina Yu (Zamboanga Del Sur). For inquiries, Congresswoman Roman can be reached directly at her number: 0939-995-3649.

Bodies of 2 NPA members found after encounter with troops in Agusan del Sur, says Army

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Two members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA) were found dead in Agusan del Sur after an encounter with the Philippine Army over the weekend.

According to reports of the Philippine Army, one of the two fatalities was identified as Levi Amando Bangogan or “King,” commander of the Samahang Yunit Pangproganda Platoon and Guerilla Front 3. The other one, a woman, has yet to be identified.

The bodies were found in Barangay Sta Emelia, Veruela, Agusan del Sur after an encounter with the troops of the 26th Infantry Battalion on Saturday afternoon.

“It is clear that NPA terrorists are not mindful of their comrades, leaving their dead bodies during clashes with our government troops,” Colonel Andres Centino, commander of the 401Bde, said, in an emailed statement.

“The 26th Infantry Battalion and 401st Infantry Brigade will ensure that the dead bodies will be delivered to their respective families, even though the government considers the NPAs as terrorists. This is a gesture to show that Philippine Army respects Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” he added.

4th Infantry Division Commander Major General Ronald Villanueva urged the militants to surrender or face the same fate as their comrades.

“Either they can choose to suffer the same fate as their comrades recently experienced, whose bodies were left during the clash with the government forces or they can choose to feel and experience a new life away from the evils of Terrorism and its futile efforts by surrendering with the benefits of Comprehensive Integration Program (CLIP) from the government,” he said. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News

NPA killed and firearms recovered in Abra encounter

Aquino, Tarlac City – NOLCOM Army forces spearheaded by the 24th Infantry Battalion (24IB) of the 7th Infantry Division (7ID), Philippine Army,  encountered more or less ten (10) members Communist New People’s Army Terrorists Group (CNTG), with unknown leader, in Sitio Mabungtot, Ud-Udiao, Sal-Lapadan, Abra at around 7:30 in the morning of February 11, 2018 (Sunday).

The firefight ensued, while the troops were conducting Focused Military Operations (FMO), as a response to the reports provided by the residents of NPA terrorists’ presence in their locality. The skirmish, which lasted for about twenty-eight (28) minutes, resulted to the killing of one (1) NPA criminal killed and the recovery of a total of four (4) high-powered firearms consisting of three (3) M16 rifles, one (1) carbine rifle and an ICOM Radio. On the other hand, no casualty or loss was incurred by the government forces. Moreover, additional troops were sent to pursue the remaining NPA terrorists.

The successful support to law enforcement operation was a result of the local community’s support to get rid lawless elements from their community. NOLCOM Commander, LTGEN EMMANUEL B SALAMAT AFP, lauded the troops for the successful conduct of this military operation. Further, NOLCOM encourages the remnants of the Communist NPA Terrorist Group to return to the folds of the law, do away with the armed struggle and be able to contribute to nation-building.


Marijuana plantation discovered by NolCom troops in Kalinga

Camp Aquino, Tarlac City – A Marijuana plantation was discovered and destroyed by the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) troops, in tandem with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Kalinga, Province, at around 11:30 in the morning of February 11, 2018 (Sunday).

PDEA has coordinated with the 50th Infantry Battalion (50IB) of the 5th Infantry Division (5ID), Philippine Army in seizing the target area, which was located in the mountainous and isolated area of Mount Chumanchil in Barangay Loccong, Tinglayan, Kalinga. A Joint Operation was conducted between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Unit Office 2, PDEA Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Kalinga Provincial Police Office and Tinglayan Municipal Police Office, 50IB of the Philippine Army (PA) and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Kalinga.

The Joint Operation of the AFP, PDEA and PNP resulted to the seizing of the marijuana plantation, which was estimated to be one hundred (100) square meter area. The marijuana plants, which stood more than six (6) feet in height and ready for harvest, were subsequently uprooted by the authorities. Moreover, marijuana seedlings were also discovered within the plantation area.

 NOLCOM will continue to provide support to Law Enforcement Operations with other agencies, in curtailing criminality and illegal drugs, to further contribute to national peace and development efforts of the Philippine Government.

Navy holds Basic Military Training to new SCAA members

NFWM, Zamboanga City – The Naval Forces Western Mindanao through the 1st Western Mindanao SCAA Squadron (1st WMSS) convened a Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) Basic Military Training (BMT) CY 2018 to newly recruited SCAA members at NY Compound, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.

The Opening Ceremony was attended by the Commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, Rear Admiral Rene V Medina AFP as the Guest Speaker with the Deputy Commander for Marine Operations, Col. Hernanie S Songano PN (M)(GSC) and Commander of 1st Western Mindanao SCAA Squadron, Lt. Col. Noel R Precioso PN(M).

Composed of 196 individuals from different fishing companies of SOPHIL, BMT Class 2018 will undergo 10 days training to learn the basic military doctrine and policies. It is to equip them with knowledge and skills essential in the performance of their role as the Navy’s partner in maintaining  peace and stability in waters surrounding Western Mindanao.

Prior the said training of new members of SCAA, NAVFORWEM conducted refresher training for other SCAA members last 23-27 January. This training was initiated to continuously improve their capabilities and individual abilities to counteract attempt of piracy and seajacking.

Under the direct control of NAVFORWEM, SCAA plays a significant role in accomplishing the command’s mission. By putting eyes and ears on different ships and through cooperation of fishing companies in the SCAA program, NAVFORWEM captured Omar Amping, the fourth most wanted person in Zamboanga City, together with five others believed to be ASG members last 20 November 2017 off the vicinity of Bolod Island, Tonquil, Sulu.

Knowing that this program helps the Navy perform its mandate in Western Mindanao not only in operational but also in administrative, NAVFORWEM convened this BMT Class 2018. “Initial military training is an intensive resident programme normally lasting several weeks or months, which aims to teach the new recruits or applicants the social norms and essential tasks of the armed forces. The main purpose of this training is not to impose fear nor is it there for you to be battered into purple mesh. But it is to break your old self and mold you into a better person, a person with values and principles, a person with hope and vision.” Rear Admiral Medina said.

Through this effort, NAVFORWEM aims to completely eradicate or at least lessen the number of seajacking and other lawless acts in the region. It is in order to provide a safe sea for commerce, trade and peaceful living.

DND inks P12-B deal for 16 Bell helicopters

SINGAPORE: The Department of National Defense (DND) has signed a purchase agreement with aerospace company Bell Helicopter for the purchase of 16 aircraft that will be used by the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The deal for 16 Bell 412EPI helicopters is part of an ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization effort and follows the Philippines’ acquisition of eight 412EP units that were fully delivered in 2015.

Patrick Moulay, executive vice-president for global sales at Bell, said that initial deliveries would be made later this year. Most of the aircraft will arrive in 2019 and the order is expected to be completed in 2020.

Previous reports put the value of the purchase, which was concluded via government-to-government contract with state-owned Canadian Commercial Corporation, at P12.07 billion. The previous purchase — also done via CCC as the units were made in Canada— cost the government P4.8 billion.

The twin-engine helicopters will be used for disaster relief, search and rescue, and passenger and utility transport.

The 412EPI, described as an improvement on the basic 412 platform, comes with the BasiX Pro avionics system and technical improvements that Bell touts as increasing the aircraft’s safety, handling and lifting capabilities.

Powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, the 412EPI has a top speed of 259 kilometers per hour, a maximum range of 674 kilometers and can carry up to 15 people including the pilot.

“We are honored that the Bell 412 will continue to serve the Philippines through the Philippine Air Force for many more years to come,” Bell Helicopter Asia Pacific managing director Sameer Rehman said in a statement.

“Bell’s helicopters have been a key component for the Philippine Air Force in the past and we look forward to bringing these aircraft into service quickly to serve the citizens of the Philippines.”

Bell said that its H-13 Sioux was the first helicopter to enter into service with the PAF in 1955. Variants of the Bell UH-1H, meanwhile, have been put in service since the late 1960s and first 412s – two units – were delivered in 1994.

Five of the eight helicopters delivered under the previous purchase deal were assigned to the PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing while the rest were deployed to the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing.

Bell was also tapped by the Philippine National Police (PNP) last year for a brand-new aircraft costing P435.8 million that is expected to be delivered in March.

Moulay confirmed statements by PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa that police authorities were looking to buy more helicopters, but declined to provide more details other than that the deal would involve the 429 platform.

The Asia-Pacific region is driving Bell’s sales — orders were up 75 percent in 2017, according to Moulay — with China alone having contracted for more than 200 helicopters in 2017.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand were also noted as significant markets. Thailand has a fleet of old Bells that are up for replacement and the Thai police in 2016 ordered 8 aircraft for emergency medical service use.

An announcement will shortly be made regarding Indonesia, Moulay said.

Bell Helicopter is a wholly owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., a producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft. Textron’s aircraft brands include Cessna and Beechcraft.