DND wants to acquire helicopters from South Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   October 2, 2020   •   501

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday expressed his department’s intention to acquire helicopters from South Korea.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the DND is looking to acquire South Korean UH-1H and MD500 helicopters.

He, however, said the acquisition project is still in the “exploratory stage.”

Its details, including the timeline and quantity of the assets to be acquired, have yet to be finalized, he added.

In a congratulatory letter to newly-appointed Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Suh Wook, Lorenzana also bared DND’s plan to conduct a Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The team will be composed of representatives from the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lorenzana assured that the JVI will be conducted following strict biosafety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

PCG aids 34 seafarers after fire incident in fishing vessel’s engine room

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 29, 2021

CEBU, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) assisted 34 seafarers who abandoned their fishing vessel after an engine fire.

A fire incident broke out inside the engine room of Korean fishing vessel, FV No. 96 Oyang on Tuesday (January 26). The vessel was at the vicinity waters off Panganiban, Catanduanes.

The crew, composed of 22 Indonesians, 10 Koreans, and two Filipinos ‘abandoned ship’ following the captain’s orders. Rescue operations were immediately conducted.

The PCG assisting the seafarers arrived at the Port of Cebu on Wednesday (January 27) and were transported into a quarantine facility after taking swab tests.

The survivors are being monitored by their ship company’s representative, in coordination with IATF – Region VII and South Korea Consulate based in Cebu City. AAC

Senate welcomes UP-DND dialogue on 1989 accord

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has adopted a resolution welcoming the decision of the Department of National Defense (DND) to seek a dialogue with the University of the Philippines (UP) on the termination of their 1989 accord, which bars the entry of state troops in UP campuses without prior coordination.

The Senate on Tuesday adopted Resolution No. 616 which urges both parties “to revisit the accord and to further urge the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.”

“Academic freedom which includes the freedom to think, speak, move and even dissent critically, is a freedom that everyone is entitled to; a freedom that UP allowed its students, activists or not, and a freedom that everyone must enjoy,” Senator Francis Pangilinan, author of the measure, said in a speech prior to the resolution’s adoption.

“We hope this resolution will inspire an open and transparent, as well as participatory and inclusive dialogue among all parties,” he added.

Senators physically and virtually present during the plenary session voted for the adoption of the measure except for Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa who abstained because he said he supports the abrogation of the 1989 agreement between UP and DND.

The DND earlier cited supposed information on the “clandestine recruitment” of students by communist organizations in its decision to unilaterally terminate the agreement with UP.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was open to a dialogue with UP administrations but its officials should explain the presence and deaths of some of its students in military encounters with rebels.

Lorenzana tells UP officials: Explain deaths of UP students in military ops vs NPA

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expresses the government’s willingness to negotiate over the termination of the 1989 pact with the University of the Philippines (UP) barring state forces from entering university premises.

However, the Defense chief said the University must first explain the number of students being killed in military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA).

“I am open to dialogue with them. Pero sagutin muna nila kung bakit namatay ang mga taong ito kasama ng NPA. This is a list of students of UP from all UP campuses na namatay during the encounters with the Armed Forces,” Lorenzana said referring to a list of UP students who were killed in encounters fighting by the side of the NPA.

“Explain to me bakit nangyari ito sa kanila. Why did they fail to protect this young kids enjoining this organization?” the official added.

Without an acceptable explanation from the UP officials, Lorenzana said there is no reason for dialogue.

“As a parent, I really feel sad na mamatay sila ng ganito. So explain nila iyan. If they can explain that we will talk. If not then forget it,” he added.

Lorenzana said their decision to end the UP-DND pact is not only to protect the students from being lured by the NPA but also to implement equal protection of the law.

The Defense Secretary also stressed that it was not to curtail the students’ right and freedom of expression. 

“We do not suppress legitimate dissent. This morning when you wake up nakakapag tweet kayo. You can form demonstration there. Nobody will touch you,” Lorenzana said.

“Ang ayaw namin ay itong mga nagtatago dyan at nagre-recruit ng mga bata, binibigyan ng baril at makikipaglaban against the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said he doesn’t see any violation of the law with the termination of the accord.

The Supreme Court defines academic freedom as the academic institution’s freedom to choose and accept instructors, design their own curriculum and manner of teaching, and who can enroll into the university.

“Academic freedom is enshrined in the Constitution not in this agreement,” Arevalo stressed.

The UP administration is yet to issue a statement on the issue. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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