DND wants exemption from ban on loans, grants from countries supporting probe on PH killings

Marje Pelayo   •   September 30, 2019   •   356

Philippines Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the fifth plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 18th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) will appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to exempt the agency from the Chief Executive’s suspension of any financial assistance from 18 countries that support the call for a probe into drug-related killings under the administration’s war on drugs.

During the Senate deliberation on the DND’s proposed budget for 2020, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon opened up the said request by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Lorenzana discussed the matter with several senators, specifically the ongoing negotiation with the government of Australia regarding the procurement of patrol vessels for the Philippine Navy amounting to P30-B.

“We are currently in talks with the Australian government for them to build our six offshore patrol vessels and they are willing to finance it first,” he said.

The Defense Secretary said they are planning to send a formal appeal to the President about the matter citing such suspension of loans, aids and grants will hugely affect the ongoing modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the President is keen on reviewing the said request of the DND.

Panelo hinted that President Duterte might hear out and approve the request especially as it concerns the country’s national security. – MNP (with details from April Cenedoza)

DND: Parañaque raid that killed alleged ASG members highlights need for tougher anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday said that the recent joint police and military operation in Parañaque City, which led to the killing of suspected Abu Sayyaf members, highlights the need for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “the presence of these terrorists in the NCR highlights the need for us to enhance our measures against those who intend to bring harm to our people.”

“A law such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 will give our law enforcers greater capacity to stop these terrorists and prevent them from wreaking havoc in our communities,” he added.

Lorenzana also commended the police and the military for the “successful” law enforcement.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said the incident calls for an urgent decision of the President.

“This development all the more highlights the need for the President and Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the signing and immediate implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” AFP chief-of-staff General Felimon Santos, Jr. said in a statement.

He said terrorism really poses great threat to public security and places general welfare at stake.

“We should protect and defend from terrorists— without further delay than it had already been —fellow Filipinos from wanton death or destruction of their property,” he said.

Santos also said that the recent operation against the alleged members of Abu Sayyaf group only shows that a pandemic could not deter terror groups from committing lawless acts.

“The unwanted presence of terrorist ASG members in Metro Manila and their timely neutralization in Parañaque proves that terrorist groups know no pandemic or people’s suffering in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“Not even COVID-19 could deter or prevent the terrorists ASG and their cohorts from planning and looking for the opportune time to strike and kill or maim innocent civilians and to destroy massively government infrastructure and private property,” he added.

The Philippine National Police earlier reported that four suspected ASG members were killed in an operation jointly conducted by police and military forces in Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City on past Friday midnight.

The government security forces were about to serve a search warrant issued by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 258 when they were engaged by the suspects in a firefight.

The clash eventually resulted in the killing of the suspects, identified as Bensaudi Sali alias “Boy,” his wife Merhama Abdul Sawari alias “Mheng,” Rasin Hussin alias “Boscon,” and Jamal Kalliming alias “Pando.”

The police and military said the operation stemmed from an information they received about the presence of the group tagged as members of Daulah Islamiyah and acting as a financial conduit of Daesh-East Asia, in Parañaque City.

Authorities recovered from the encounter site various handguns, wires, suspected explosive devices, and ISIS flags.

Navy confirms BRP Ramon Alcaraz fire

Maris Federez   •   May 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine Navy has confirmed the fire incident that took place onboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16) on Thursday night (May 7) just a few hours after it departed Port of Cochin, India bound for Manila.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Navy said the vessel was in convoy with BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).

Naval Public Affairs Office Acting Director, LCdr. Maria Christina Roxas, said initial investigation showed that the fire that broke at the main engine room was put out in 10 minutes but injured two personnel with second degree burns and caused minor damage in some equipment.

“This unfortunate incident could have been worse if not for the promptness of our PN personnel in responding to the fire incident. We recognize the gallant efforts of our personnel in responding to the emergency situation in spite of the dangers involved. Rest assured that the safety and welfare of our personnel is of paramount importance,” Roxas added.

One of the two sailors who were injured in the fire is now receiving treatment in an Indian medical facility, while the other is in sickbay aboard the vessel.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, in a statement released on Saturday, said the vessel has returned to Cochin, India, reaching the port under its own power and unassisted as it only sustained minor damage.

He added that the US Navy’s Naval Systems Command (NAVSEA) will assist in the repair of the BRP Alcaraz since the vessel was acquired from the US.

“We will also use existing diplomatic mechanisms and our defense cooperation agreement with India to facilitate and expedite work on the ship so that it can return to the country in the shortest time possible,” Lorenzana concluded. —/mbmf

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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