Senate to probe on Chinese investments in three islands in Cagayan, Zambales provinces

Maris Federez   •   August 9, 2019   •   1003

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The Senate seeks to investigate reports that Chinese investors are planning to develop the Fuga Island in the province of Cagayan and the islands of Grande and Chiquita in Zambales.

In a statement, Senator Risa Hontiveros said she is wondering why the government allowed these movements despite China’s alleged bullying practices in the West Philippine Sea.

She added that these islands are no ordinary islands as they have an important role in the military’s history.

“Amid China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea, it is baffling that the Duterte government allowed this to happen. These are no ordinary islands. These parcels of land are strategic maritime fronts that play a significant role in our military history, which only proves how invaluable they are to our national security,” the senator’s statement reads.

Senator Panfile Lacson also pointed, “security concerns dahil kung Chinese investors ang magde-develop at yung proximity dun sa mga facilities. Lalo’t may report na lumabas na yung western command in Palawan merong allegedly Chinese tourists na kumukuha ng pictures so anong intention [security concerns because if Chinese investors will the ones to develop (these islands) and their proximity is in (our military) facilities. Especially now that the Western Command in Palawan has reported that there is an alleged Chinese tourists taking pictures, on what intention]?”

Aside from the three islands, the Senate may possibly discuss the development of the 32-hectare lot of Island Cove Resort in Kawit, Cavite that is to be used by the Philippine Off Shore Gaming Operator (POGO) industry.

This is only several kilometers away from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) air and naval bases. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

AFP condemns accusation against army member over fake Facebook accounts

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 25, 2020

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has condemned the accusation against one of their members over several fake accounts recently shut down by Facebook.

United States-based Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research (DFR), identified Philippine Army Captain Alexandre Cabales as operator of the social media pages that Facebook took down for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” targeting domestic audiences in the Philippines.

AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgar Arevalo said Facebook and the said digital forensic group should review their policies on privacy carefully since identifying Cabales violated his privacy. Arevalo said this has placed the reputation and safety of Cabales at risk.

“This is a breach of his personal identity and personal security, dahil po sa paglabas na ito ng kanyang pangalan at hindi naman sya nabibigyan ng pagkakataon na ipaliwanag ang kanyang panig, (because they released his name and [Cabales] was not able to explain his side)” he said.

The AFP also defended Cabales by explaining that the information posted in official accounts linked to the Philippine Army is legitimate and authentic.

Cabales heads the social media center of the AFP and is reportedly connected to ‘Hands Off Our Children’ page which has been taken down by Facebook.

“Sa pagtake-down nito ang naapektuhan ng malaki at parang napaboran pa ay itong pagre-recruit ng communist terrorist group, (By taking down these pages it will greatly favor the recruitment of the communist terrorist group),” Arevalo said.

Facebook took down over 100 accounts and pages in their social media due to violation in their policy. These include 31 pages and 77 Facebook and Instagram accounts allegedly linked to individuals affiliated with the Philippine military.

“They posted in Filipino and English about local news and events including domestic politics, military activities against terrorism, the pending anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines […] our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police,” Facebook said in a statement. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Facebook removes fake accounts allegedly linked to PH military, police

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 23, 2020

Facebook has removed over hundreds of fake accounts for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

In a statement, the social media giant said it removed 155 accounts; 11 Pages; 9 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts. These networks reportedly originated in China. It also removed 57 Facebook accounts; 31 Pages and 20 Instagram accounts where its networks originated in the Philippines and focused on domestic audiences.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said these accounts and pages posted about local news and events including domestic politics, military activities against terrorism, pending anti-terrorism bill, criticism of communism, youth activists and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)and its military wing the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). 

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday (September 23) clarified that none of their maintained accounts were shutdown but is still looking into Facebook’s report.

“There are no accounts that the AFP maintain that were shutdown or removed by Facebook. All of them are up and running. The AFP upholds truth and accountability of network and SocMed account managers as to the contents of postings in our websites, pages, and accounts,” their statement reads. AAC

3 soldiers injured in fresh Sulu clash with ASG

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

Three soldiers were hurt in another clash with members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu, a military official said.

Lieutenant Colonel Alaric Delos Santos, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said elements of the 45th Infantry Battalion encountered around 20 ASG members in Sitio Bud Kaha, Barangay Bungkaung in Patikul town of Sulu on Sunday afternoon.

The firefight lasted for about 45 minutes and left three soldiers injured while casualties from the side of the enemy has yet to be determined, Delos Santos said.

Military troops are now pursuing the group of bandits who retreated after the gunfight.

“We sustain our focused military operations to destroy enemy strongholds and to thwart the terror plots of the local terrorist group,” AFP Westmincom commander Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said.

“We call on our prayer warriors to continuously pray for the safety of protection of our soldiers,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

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