Philippine military chief Gregorio Pio Catapang likens his task to a boxing match. Dwarfed by neighbors like China, with whom ties are strained, he’d like his forces to last at least a few rounds in the ring.
“Even if we are a bantam-weight fighting against a heavy weight, we are going to defend our sovereignty and national interest,” General Catapang, 55, said in an interview in his office in Manila yesterday. “We renounce war as a national foreign policy, but we will have to stand and show the world we are a principled country.”
Sitting in his office surrounded by history, philosophy and psychology books Catapang, who has been in the job since July, sets out his priorities for an army that for years was occupied by an insurgency in the south. With China building artificial islands in the resource-rich South China Sea and boosting its naval presence to support its territorial claims, the focus for the Philippine military is turning outward.
Catapang is looking to boost defenses in Ulugan Bay on the island of Palawan, the Philippine military post about 160 kilometers (99 miles) from the disputed Spratly archipelago. He’s also seeking lawmakers’ approval for about $10 billion to buy fighter jets and warships to achieve a “world-class armed forces” by 2028. China’s defense budget this year is about 47 times that of the Philippines’ 123 billion pesos ($2.8 billion) -- 1 percent of gross domestic product.
Four of the 12 projects will go to the Air Force: six units of close air support aircraft (P4.968 billion), two units of long-range patrol aircraft (P5.976 million) and basing support systems in three provinces (P187.43 million).
Also in the list is the purchase of munitions for the 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets acquired from South Korea for about P4.52 billion.
The Navy will have three projects: two units of helicopters capable of anti-submarine warfare (P5.402 billion), three units of multi-purpose attack craft (P1.18 billion) and support and logistics for naval bases (P313.62 million).
Four of the projects seek to improve the Army’s capabilities: 4,464 units of night fighting systems (P1.116 billion), 744 units of rocket launchers (P407.41 million), 1,446 units of 2-5W handheld radios (P430.8 million) and 60 units of high frequency 50W radios (P144 million).
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The DND also needs P133.4 million to buy 46 units of light utility vehicles for the Armed Forces of the Philippines general headquarters.
Philippines' Aquino to seek Europe's help in China sea dispute
President Benigno Aquino will seek European support for Philippine efforts to resolve maritime territorial disputes with China during a week-long visit to EU nations including France and Germany, a foreign ministry official said Monday.
Aquino will also raise his proposal to stop China from further escalating tensions in the strategically-vital South China Sea, assistant foreign secretary Zeneida Collinson said.
"In all the meetings starting with Spain, we will seek their continued support on the Philippine position in the West Philippine Sea," she told reporters, using the local term for the South China Sea.
"It's important for our president to have the opportunity to apprise these world leaders directly on what is happening in... the South China Sea," when he visits Spain, Belgium, France and Germany from September 13 to 20, she said.
Such support can be "tacit" and did not need to be contained in a formal document, she added.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, a vital shipping lane and fishing ground that is believed to hold vast mineral resources.
This conflicts with the territorial claims of the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
In recent years, tensions between the Philippines and China have risen as Beijing has aggressively pressed its claim, citing "historical facts" and occupying and fortifying outcrops and islets.
Last month, the Philippines protested at China's increasing patrols in the Reed Bank, the site of a confrontation between vessels from the two countries in 2012.
While the poorly-equipped Philippine military cannot match China, Aquino has resorted to diplomatic and legal means including an arbitration case before a UN tribunal. However China has refused to participate in the proceedings.
Collinson said the Europeans have previously supported the Philippines in seeking a "peaceful resolution of conflict".
During his meetings with European leaders, Aquino will also bring up his "triple action plan" calling on China and other claimants to halt all provocative actions, she added.
While in France, Aquino will meet with French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls and discuss improving defence relations, Collinson said.
Two Russian strategic bombers conducted practice cruise missile attacks on the United States during a training mission last week that defense officials say appeared timed to the NATO summit in Wales.
The Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers were tracked flying a route across the northern Atlantic near Iceland, Greenland, and Canada’s northeast.
Analysis of the flight indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined “launch box”—an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets, said defense officials familiar with intelligence reports.
Disclosure of the nuclear bombing practice comes as a Russian general last week called for Moscow to change its doctrine to include preemptive nuclear strikes on the United States and NATO.
Gen. Yuri Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, was quoted by the state-run Interfax news agency as saying that Russia’s 2010 military doctrine should be revised to identify the United States and the NATO alliance as enemies, and clearly outline the conditions for a preemptive nuclear strike against them.
Yakubov said among other needed doctrinal changes, “it is necessary to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a preemptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces”—Moscow’s nuclear forces.
The practice bombing runs are the latest in a series of incidents involving threatening Russian bomber flights near the United States. Analysts say the bomber flights are nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow as a result of heightened tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.
PH displays ancient maps to debunk China's sea claims
By Manuel Mogato, Reuters
Posted at 09/11/2014 7:37 PM | Updated as of 09/11/2014 7:56 PM
MANILA - The Philippines on Thursday put on display dozens of ancient maps which officials said showed that China's territorial claims over the South China Sea did not include a disputed shoal at the center of an acrimonious standoff.
China's Island Factory
<<click here for link>
But a recent study by the US government suggests the main oil and gas reserves under the South China Sea do not lie anywhere near the Spratly Islands.
For China the struggle over the South China Sea is less about resources, though, than it is about sovereignty and strategic space. Nor is this just a quarrel with the Philippines and other countries bordering the sea.
Instead it is about China’s real strategic rival - the United States. The US government does not acknowledge China’s claim, and the US Pacific fleet continues to sail regularly through the South China Sea. But the Chinese navy is beginning to grow more assertive.
Top government officials attended the exhibit to see the maps firsthand including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The maps are part of Carpio’s personal collection and will be on exhibit until September 26, after which the exhibit will be brought to the University of the Philippines and Ateneo.
All the exhibited maps have been uploaded on the website of the Institute for Maritime and Ocean Affairs at www.imoa.ph.
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anyone knows the link ng "ancient map" na yan?
China pushes interns working at American news agencies to serve as spies
PH ‘quasi-rogue’ state—Chinese state-run paper
MANILA, Philippines—A Chinese state-run publication has called the Philippines a “quasi-rogue” state and demanded a public apology from President Benigno Aquino III for what it called “serial attacks on Chinese citizens.”
“Poor social governance, an anti-China sentiment, and a Western-style democratic system where nationalism can foment wantonly make the Philippines a quasi-rogue state,” the Global Times said in its editorial published on September 16.
“We demand that Philippine President Benigno Aquino III make a public apology for the serial attacks on Chinese citizens and severely reprimand the criminals, which may add to our confidence in the Philippine government ensuring the safety of Chinese citizens,” it said.
Global Times is owned and published by People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.
The editorial cited the recent incident where a Chinese citizen was injured after being shot in Bulacan province and the kidnapping of two Chinese nationals on Sept. 8 and 11.
Philippine police have not yet determined the motives for the crimes but the Global Times assumed in its editorial that the ongoing maritime dispute between China and Philippines was the reason behind them.
“Although the Philippines is suffering from a deteriorating security situation, the spate of incidents targeting the Chinese over the past week inevitably prompts the public to connect them to the escalation in tension between Beijing and Manila,” it said.
Philippines and China are locked in an arbitration case before an international court over China’s claim of “indisputable sovereignty” in nearly the entire South China Sea including portions of the Philippines 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
Since the Scarborough Shoal Standoff in April 2012, China has maintained control of the Philippines entire western seaboard including the waters of the Spratly Group of Islands.
Filipino fishermen have been repeatedly forced to leave the area by Chinese Coast Guard vessels patrolling the waters.
The Philippines has previously called for a freeze on actions in the South China Sea after China was found to have been conducting reclamation projects on several reefs believed to be a precursor to the construction on military bases.
Global Times blamed Philippine government officials for promoting “anti-China sentiments” which it says criminals may take advantage of.
“To begin with, the Philippine authorities are a major agitator of a nationalist and anti-China sentiment among its population, which can easily turn into extremism,” Global Times said.
“Consequently, certain criminals may take advantage of this anti-China mood as a cover to increase the likelihood of escaping punishment for their crimes,” it said.
Global Times cited the 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis that left eight tourists from Hong Kong dead and the 2013 shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman as incidents where the Philippine government “failed to adopt immediate measures each time.”
The newspaper said that the recent travel advisory of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking Chinese nationals to refrain from going to the Philippines should serve as a warning.
“We will not sever our engagement with the Philippines as it is our near neighbor. Nevertheless, given what it has done recently, we are highly suspicious of whether it is capable of abiding by international laws,” Global Times said.
“We advise Chinese citizens not to travel there in the near future, which, while being an act of caution to ensure one’s safety, is also a warning signal to the Philippines,” it said.
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"Nevertheless, given what it has done recently, we are highly suspicious of whether it is capable of abiding by international laws,”