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Jeoffrey Maitem

Davao City, Philippines
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About Jeoffrey
Jeoffrey Maitem is a journalist based in Davao City, Philippines.
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Philippines to tighten visa control for Chinese nationals in move expected to spark retaliation from Beijing

10 May 2024  |  South China Morning Post
The Philippines is set to implement stricter visa controls for Chinese nationals, a move that is expected to draw retaliation from Beijing. The policy aims to address issues with fake documents and is in line with practices from other countries. Analysts suggest the measure is a protective step amidst concerns over Chinese activities in the Philippines, including Pogo operations. The Pogo industry has been linked to espionage and cyberattacks against the Philippine government. Opposition senators have called for a ban on Pogos due to national security threats, while others urge caution in attributing cyberattacks solely to the maritime conflict with China.

South China Sea: Philippines sounds alarm about coral reef damage related to Beijing’s reclamation activities

09 May 2024  |  South China Morning Post
The Philippines is raising concerns over coral reef damage in the South China Sea, attributing it to China's reclamation activities. Research and reports indicate that China's actions, including dredging and landfill operations, have caused significant harm to marine life and coral reefs, with the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative highlighting the extensive damage over the past decade. The environmental degradation has economic implications for the Philippines, affecting fish supply and national economy. Philippine senator Risa Hontiveros has called for China to be held financially accountable for the damage, with potential compensation aiding the country's economic crisis.

South China Sea: Philippine officials outraged, accuse Beijing of anti-wiretapping law violation over ‘new model’ phone call

09 May 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Philippine officials, including Defence Chief Gilberto Teodoro Jnr and Military Chief General Romeo Brawner Jnr, have accused Beijing of violating the country's Anti-Wire Tapping Law after the Chinese embassy in Manila released a transcript of a phone call allegedly confirming a maritime agreement. The deal, which was supposedly agreed upon by Western Command Chief Vice-Admiral Alberto Carlos, involved protocols for the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. The Philippines followed the agreement in February but faced aggressive actions from the Chinese coastguard in March. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año and others have denied the legitimacy of the agreement, calling it fabricated. Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros and retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio have also weighed in, with Carpio stating that any such deal is invalid and the embassy should be called out for improper communication.

South China Sea: ‘upsurge’ in Chinese militia vessels as Balikatan drills begin ‘out of the norm’, Philippines says

23 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
An increase in Chinese maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea coincides with the start of the Balikatan military exercises involving US, Philippine, Australian, and French troops. Major General Marvin Licudine of the Philippines stated that the drills are not aimed at any specific party and are focused on interoperability and freedom of navigation. Analysts Sherwin Ona and Ray Powell provided insights into the Chinese presence, suggesting it could be a tactic to reinforce a victim narrative or that the vessels may be intentionally making themselves more detectable. The Philippines' Army Colonel Michael Logico commented on the practical aspects of the exercise.

Philippines to probe ‘creeping invasion’ of Chinese students in province near Taiwan

17 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Filipino congressman Robert Ace Barbers has described the influx of Chinese workers, businessmen, tourists, and students in the Philippines as a 'creeping invasion,' raising alarms over national security. Concerns include foreigners obtaining Filipino identification documents and the presence of Chinese nationals in the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary. Military officials express unease about the proximity of Chinese nationals to strategic locations. Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba, however, sees no security threat from the foreign students, attributing their presence to educational agreements. A resolution by representatives Joseph Lara and Faustino Dy V highlights the risks to national security and the economy. Defence analyst Chester Cabalza notes the geopolitical significance of the influx, while military historian Jose Antonio Custodio links it to corruption and a porous immigration system. The issue coincides with escalating territorial disputes between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea.

Ex-Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s South China Sea ‘deal’ with Xi Jinping sparks calls for treason charges

15 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is facing calls for treason charges over a 'gentleman's agreement' with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the South China Sea. Critics, including Senator Risa Hontiveros and political analyst Sherwin Ona, argue that Duterte's deal, which involved not building new facilities in disputed waters, betrayed Philippine sovereignty and failed to act in the nation's interest. The agreement has been criticized for potentially weakening the Philippines' position in the South China Sea, particularly concerning the BRP Sierra Madre, a strategic outpost. While some defend Duterte's intentions to ease bilateral tensions, others demand accountability and legal action.

Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte claims China threatened war over South China Sea if status quo not kept

12 Apr 2024  |  South China Morning Post
Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that China threatened war if the Philippines insisted on its own way in the West Philippine Sea. Duterte denied any 'gentlemen’s deal' with Chinese President Xi Jinping, stating they only agreed on maintaining the status quo. The Philippines has a Mutual Defence Treaty with the United States, which President Joe Biden affirmed as 'ironclad.' Experts suggest that both the US and China would avoid conflict in the South China Sea due to economic interdependence, but also warn that Manila must prepare for potential conflict.

In isolated South China Sea territory, Filipino fisherman see ‘dwindling catch’

28 Mar 2024  |  Benar News
Filipino fishermen on Pag-asa Island in the South China Sea face dwindling fish catches due to illegal fishing by Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, including the use of dynamite and cyanide. The presence of Chinese coast guard and militia ships has forced locals to fish closer to shore, impacting their livelihoods. Despite improved infrastructure, such as a new runway and increased air force flights, the community continues to struggle with limited transportation and constant harassment from Chinese forces. Local officials and researchers emphasize the importance of understanding and protecting the region's marine resources, while the Philippine government encourages settlement to assert sovereignty.

Rebels killed, residents displaced in southern Philippines ahead of Ramadan

11 Mar 2024  |  Benar News
A series of violent incidents involving the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other armed groups in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have resulted in deaths and displacement ahead of Ramadan. The Philippine Army clashed with BIFF in Maguindanao del Sur, killing two suspected militants. In a separate incident, armed men stormed a village in Maguindanao del Norte, displacing residents. Additionally, a university student was killed in Cotabato City. The violence underscores ongoing challenges in the region, including the presence of armed groups and slow economic development. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed solidarity with Muslim Filipinos as they prepare for Ramadan, emphasizing the importance of cultural and religious diversity in the Philippines.

Philippine Navy Sailors Start Training for Future Corvettes

01 Mar 2024  |  www.navalnews.com
The Philippine Navy has begun training its personnel to operate South Korean-made corvettes, set to arrive in the next two to three years. The training is taking place at the HD Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea. This development follows a 2021 deal between the Philippines' Department of National Defense and HHI for two corvettes. The training comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, highlighted by a recent incident where the China Coast Guard harassed Philippine vessels. Political analyst Sherwin Ona noted that the incident does not warrant invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. but warned of potential escalation by China.

Death toll in southern Philippine landslide rises, many still reported missing

12 Feb 2024  |  Benar News
The death toll from a landslide in the southern Philippine mining village of Masara, Maco town, Davao de Oro province, has reached at least 68, with 51 people still missing. The landslide, caused by days of heavy rains on February 5, buried part of the community under mud. Apex Mining Co. Inc., which employs many of the victims, has not been ordered to suspend operations by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, despite progressive groups calling for the company to be held liable. The U.S. has provided nearly $1.25 million in aid, and the Philippine military is assisting with relief efforts. The Philippines is highly susceptible to natural disasters, and the Davao region has been particularly affected by floods and landslides, with significant environmental and economic losses.

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Sails with Philippine Navy in South China Sea

03 Jan 2024  |  www.navalnews.com
The U.S. Navy's Carrier Strike Group 1, led by the USS Carl Vinson, is conducting joint maritime exercises with the Philippine Navy in the South China Sea, reinforcing the strong alliance between the two nations. The drills aim to enhance operational integration and demonstrate a commitment to a rules-based international order amid rising tensions with China. The exercises are part of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and come in response to recent aggressive actions by the Chinese Coast Guard. Key figures, including General Romeo Brawner, Jr. and Rear Adm. Carlos Sardiello, emphasize the importance of these activities in strengthening defense capabilities and regional security.

Austal USA showcases T-AGOS 25 model for the first time

01 Jan 2024  |  www.navalnews.com
Austal USA unveiled a detailed model of its T-AGOS 25 class ocean surveillance ships at SNA 2024, marking the first public display of the model. The company secured a contract for the design and construction of seven T-AGOS 25 ships, partnering with L3Harris Technologies, Noise Control Engineering, TAI Engineering, and Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors. The T-AGOS 25 class will replace the US Navy's Victorious-class vessels and the USNS Impeccable, featuring advanced surveillance systems and significant operational capabilities. Austal USA's expansion into steel ship construction, supported by a $50 million investment from the Defense Department, reflects its strategic diversification beyond aluminum ships.

Philippine regulators suspend TV programs on station linked to Duterte on-air threat

19 Dec 2023  |  Benar News
Philippine regulators have suspended two TV programs on Sonshine Media Network Inc., linked to ex-President Rodrigo Duterte, following a death threat he made against Congresswoman France Castro. The suspension, effective for 14 days, aims to ensure adherence to cultural values. The programs, 'Gikan Sa Masa, Para sa Masa' and 'Laban Kasama and Bayan,' were found to have violated guidelines. Castro, who filed a criminal complaint against Duterte, welcomed the suspension as a step towards accountability. The TV station, owned by Duterte's spiritual adviser Apollo Quiboloy, has been accused of disinformation and vilification campaigns.

Babcock, Bechtel Australia and HII sign MOU

14 Dec 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
Babcock, Bechtel Australia, and HII have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on supporting Australia's nuclear-powered submarine program. This collaboration aims to address challenges such as skilled workforce development, nuclear infrastructure design, submarine decommissioning, and nuclear waste management. The companies bring over 150 years of collective experience in submarine support and infrastructure projects. The partnership is seen as crucial for Australia's defense capabilities and emphasizes adherence to safety standards and public trust.

Philippine military chief says Chinese ship ‘rammed’ his boat in disputed waters

11 Dec 2023  |  rfa.org
Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., chief of the Philippine armed forces, reported that a Chinese ship rammed the boat he was on during a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine military outpost in the South China Sea. The incident, which included water cannon and sound blasts from Chinese vessels, was labeled a 'serious escalation' by Philippine officials. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed a Philippine boat rammed a Chinese ship, accusing the Philippines of violating China's sovereignty. The event led to diplomatic protests from both nations and drew condemnation from the United States, the European Union, and Japan.

Chinese Vessels Use Water Canons Against Philippine Ships in Latest Series of Incidents

11 Dec 2023  |  Naval News
A Philippine civilian convoy set to deliver supplies to troops and fishermen in the West Philippine Sea aborted their mission after Chinese Coast Guard vessels used water cannons and sound blasts against them. The incident occurred near Scarborough Shoal, a contested area controlled by China since 2012. The Philippine government filed a diplomatic protest, and the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines may be declared persona non grata. President Ferdinand Marcos emphasized the Philippines' sovereignty and legal rights in the region. International support for the Philippines was expressed by ambassadors from the United States, European Union, and France, condemning China's actions and upholding the 2016 Arbitral Ruling that invalidated China's claims over the South China Sea.

Deadly Philippine bombing exposes weakness in intel gathering: Military spokesman

07 Dec 2023  |  benarnews.org
A bombing during a Catholic Mass in Marawi city, Philippines, which resulted in four deaths, has highlighted deficiencies in the Philippine military's intelligence capabilities. The attack, claimed by Islamic State extremists, was a response to military offensives against militants. Two Filipino suspects, Kadapi Mimbesa and Arsani Membisa, have been identified. Despite previous awareness of potential attacks, the military admitted to limitations in covering all activities in Mindanao. Officials, including Armed Forces spokesman Col. Medel Agular and former national police chief Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, acknowledged the need for enhanced intelligence and security preparations. The suspects are linked to the Daulah Islamiyah, a local IS affiliate, and are residents of Marawi.

Philippines arrests alleged cult leader on suspicion of sex crimes targeting children

07 Nov 2023  |  Benar News
Philippine authorities arrested Jey Rence Quilario, an alleged cult leader, and three associates on charges of sexually enslaving children. The arrests followed a Senate investigation led by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, revealing severe abuses within the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI). The suspects face multiple charges, including trafficking and child abuse. The case has drawn significant attention, highlighting ongoing issues with cults and child exploitation in the Philippines.

Deadly violence mars village polls in southern Philippines

30 Oct 2023  |  benarnews.org
Six people were killed during village elections in the southern Philippines, with most violence occurring in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The victims were voters or candidate supporters, and the violence was attributed to the proliferation of firearms and the hiring of former rebels as private armies. The elections, which had been postponed from the previous year by then-President Duterte, involved over 336,000 positions. Incidents included a shooting in Maguindanao del Norte and a fatal scuffle between brothers in Lanao del Sur. Over 67 million Filipinos were registered to vote, and around 300,000 security personnel were deployed. Prior to the elections, thousands were arrested for violating a gun ban.

Ahead of US summit, Philippine envoy’s inertia remarks on South China Sea viewed as ‘strategy’ to counter Beijing

25 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the Philippines' strategic stance against China's aggression in the South China Sea ahead of a US summit. President Marcos Jnr emphasizes the country's sovereignty and security rights, while geopolitical analysts highlight the mixed measures in the administration's foreign policy towards China. The article also touches on the internal political dynamics involving the Duterte administration's previous approach to China. The left-wing group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan plans to protest the trilateral summit, warning of potential militarization and recolonization.

Filipino workers sue US firm for labor abuses at Qatar World Cup

13 Oct 2023  |  benarnews.org
Dozens of Filipino workers who contributed to the construction of stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar have filed a lawsuit in a U.S. federal court against Jacobs Solutions and CH2M Hill, alleging inhumane and dangerous working conditions. The lawsuit accuses the firms of human trafficking, passport confiscation, and forcing workers to endure long hours in extreme heat without proper compensation. The workers are seeking damages under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Jacobs Solutions has not yet formally responded to the lawsuit. Human rights groups have previously criticized Qatar for its treatment of migrant workers, and The Guardian reported over 6,500 worker deaths since Qatar was awarded the World Cup hosting rights. The Confederation of Filipino Workers supports the lawsuit, emphasizing the need for justice and addressing the systemic flaws that endanger lives and human dignity.

2 Filipinos killed in Israel-Hamas fighting

11 Oct 2023  |  Benar News
Two Filipinos were killed in the conflict between Hamas militants and Israel, with the Philippines government condemning the violence. Protests erupted in the southern Philippines against Israeli strikes on Gaza. Former President Rodrigo Duterte faced criticism for his inflammatory remarks about Gaza. The conflict has resulted in significant casualties on both sides, with over 2,200 deaths reported. The Israeli military has launched retaliatory strikes on Gaza, while Filipino officials report that most Filipino workers in Israel are safe.

Philippines urged to tap South China Sea reserves to ease energy costs despite Beijing tensions

10 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The Philippines is being urged to explore energy reserves in the South China Sea to reduce energy costs, despite tensions with China. Experts highlight the need for joint maritime patrols with the US to prevent Chinese interference. Previous agreements with China have failed due to disputes over territorial claims. The Philippine government is advised to independently develop its energy resources to meet high domestic demand and sustain economic growth.

Philippines set to file case over reef damages against Beijing within weeks

10 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The Philippines is preparing to file a legal case against China over damages to coral reefs in the South China Sea, specifically at Sabina Shoal and Rozul Reef. This move follows reports of massive coral harvesting by Chinese fishermen, which has severely impacted marine ecosystems within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone. The case could escalate tensions between the two nations, with potential diplomatic and economic repercussions. Experts suggest that the Philippines might pursue the case through the Permanent Court of Arbitration, focusing on environmental damage rather than territorial disputes, to increase enforceability. The situation highlights ongoing conflicts over maritime sovereignty and environmental stewardship in the region.

US-Philippine military drills along South China Sea risk Beijing’s ire: ‘that’s their problem’

10 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The US and the Philippines are conducting military drills in the South China Sea, aiming to enhance defense capabilities and cooperation under the Mutual Defence Treaty. The exercises, which include a sinking exercise and anti-submarine drills, have drawn criticism from China and local groups like Bayan Muna, who argue that these activities escalate regional tensions. Philippine officials assert the drills are necessary for national defense, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken supports the Philippines' stance against Chinese aggression in the region.

South China Sea: Beijing risks conflict with Philippines over ‘Monster’ ship to enforce anti-trespassing policy

07 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Tensions between China and the Philippines are escalating over China's deployment of a large ship to enforce anti-trespassing policies in the South China Sea. Experts and officials, including Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr and Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jnr, criticize China's actions as provocative and illegal under international law. The situation risks leading to a regional conflict, with potential involvement from the United States under the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement. The Philippines urges its allies to support its stance against China's aggressive policies.

Philippine drag queen arrested for ‘immoral’ performance as Jesus Christ

06 Oct 2023  |  Benar News
A drag queen, Amadeus Fernando Pagente, known as Pura Luka Vega, was arrested in the Philippines for a controversial performance dressed as Jesus Christ, which human rights advocates argue is protected under international law. The performance, which offended some religious groups, led to charges under the Philippine Criminal Code. Human Rights Watch and other advocates call for Pagente's release and amendments to the law to protect freedom of expression. The case highlights tensions between religious beliefs and artistic freedom in the country.

‘Silent pandemic’: emotional call by Philippines’ Marcos Jnr against child pornography sparks nationwide soul-searching

05 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The article highlights the urgent call by Philippines' President Marcos Jnr to combat child pornography, describing it as a 'silent pandemic.' Various stakeholders, including NGOs and human rights organizations, emphasize the severity of the issue, citing alarming statistics and the role of internet service providers. The article underscores the need for stringent law enforcement and societal change to address the root causes, such as poverty, that contribute to the exploitation of children.

Philippines-China relations: will 3-way summit with US, Japan further erode Manila-Beijing ties?

02 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Topics to be discussed at the upcoming summit include defense and security cooperation, economic and technological cooperation, and clean energy. China has competing claims in the South China Sea with several countries, including the Philippines. Despite ongoing tensions, Philippine officials continue to engage in dialogue with China to prevent conflicts. Recent joint military exercises between the Philippines and the US aim to enhance maritime security and cooperation. The Pentagon has reiterated its commitment to assist Manila in the face of external threats.

South China Sea: Philippines warns against arrest of its fishermen under Beijing’s ‘trespassing’ law

02 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The Philippines has called on China to allow international investigators to examine Scarborough Shoal, accusing Beijing of damaging coral reefs. The Philippines may file a diplomatic protest against China's coastguard policy, which it claims violates international law. Tensions have risen due to aggressive actions by the Chinese coastguard, including firing water cannons at Philippine vessels. Philippine officials emphasize the need for diplomatic solutions, despite China's uncooperative stance. Former Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri warned that China's actions could escalate regional tensions.

South China Sea: Philippines’ Batanes province in spotlight again as Taiwan war spectre looms amid drills

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The Philippines' Batanes province is under scrutiny as tensions rise over potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait. Local authorities are preparing for possible population influxes from Taiwan, while experts discuss the strategic importance of Batanes in the geopolitical struggle between China and the US. The article highlights the Philippines' contingency plans, the role of the Mutual Defence Treaty with the US, and the current stability of maritime security and trade. Analysts emphasize the need for preparedness and the strategic positioning of military forces to guard against potential hostilities.

Philippines faces risk of Beijing’s economic coercion amid South China Sea row: analysts

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
Analysts warn that the Philippines faces significant risks of economic coercion from China amid ongoing disputes in the South China Sea. Experts emphasize the need for the Philippines to diversify its imports and develop its manufacturing capabilities to reduce dependency on Chinese goods. Despite geopolitical tensions, some business organizations advocate for continued trade with China to foster better relations. The Philippines has also strengthened military cooperation with the US, reversing previous pro-China policies. Historical instances of China's use of trade as a weapon highlight the importance of diversification to mitigate potential economic threats.

Thailand Shelves Attack Submarine Purchase Plans

01 Oct 2023  |  Naval News
Thailand's defense minister Sutin Klungsang announced the suspension of the purchase of a Chinese-built S26T diesel-electric attack submarine, opting instead to procure a frigate from China with the allocated funds. The decision was influenced by strategic cooperation and trade ties with China, and the Thai government's rejection of a proposal to use a Chinese-made CHD620 engine as an alternative to the German MTU 396 engine, which cannot be exported due to an EU arms embargo. The Royal Thai Navy's submarine program, which began with the intent to procure three attack submarines in 2015, has faced delays and funding issues, with the first submarine's completion date pushed to April 2024.

The Philippine province caught in the cross hairs of US-China rivalry

01 Oct 2023  |  South China Morning Post
The article explores the geopolitical tensions in the Philippine province of Cagayan, caught between US and Chinese interests. It highlights the historical and strategic significance of the region, the economic contributions of Chinese traders, and the local concerns about safety amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The US-Philippines Mutual Defence Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) are discussed, along with the potential impacts of increased American military presence and Chinese economic influence. Local perspectives vary, with some expressing concern over potential conflicts and others emphasizing economic growth.

Philippine president: Not pursuing trouble, defending territory by removing Chinese sea barrier

29 Sep 2023  |  Benar News
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated that the Philippines was not seeking conflict but was defending its territory when it removed a barrier installed by the China Coast Guard at Scarborough Shoal. The removal allowed Filipino fishermen to access the area, which is within Philippine territory. The UN has dismissed China's claims over the shoal, but China refuses to recognize the ruling. The Philippine Justice Secretary is considering legal action against China, while a U.S. congressional committee investigates China's aggression in the South China Sea. Marcos has been shifting towards democratic allies since taking office, moving away from his predecessor's pivot to China.

Naval Group starts operations in India to support Kalvari

13 Sep 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
Naval Group India inaugurated a technical workshop in Karwar to support the Indian Navy's Kalvari class submarines, marking a significant investment and commitment to local maintenance and repair capabilities. The workshop, strategically located near the Naval Ship Repair Yard, aims to enhance the efficiency of maintenance activities and promote indigenous sourcing, aligning with India's 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' policy. Key figures such as Rear Admiral KM Ramakrishnan and Vincent Martinot-Lagarde attended the inauguration, underscoring the strategic bilateral cooperation between India and France in underwater defense.

Philippine Navy New Frigates Now Fitted with Anti-Torpedo System

06 Sep 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
The Philippine Navy has successfully upgraded its two Jose Rizal-class frigates with an anti-torpedo system, enhancing their defensive capabilities. The installation, confirmed by Naval Group, includes the Contralto anti-torpedo reaction module integrated into the C-Guard decoy launching system. This upgrade is part of the broader modernization of the Philippine fleet, which also saw improvements to the Combat Management System by Hanwha Systems and the C-Guard decoy launcher by Terma. The upgrade comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, highlighted by recent confrontations between the Philippine and China Coast Guards. General Romeo Brawner Jr. emphasized the need for more defense resources to strengthen the country's presence in the region.

Greece's First FDI HN Frigate Technically Launched by Naval Group

01 Sep 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
The Hellenic Navy's first Kimon-class (FDI HN) frigate was technically launched at the Naval Group Shipyard in Lorient, France, marking a significant milestone in Greece's naval capabilities. The launch follows a 2022 agreement between Greek officials and French manufacturers Naval Group, MBDA, and Thales for three frigates, with an option for a fourth. The lead ship, Kimon (F601), will join the Greek Fleet in early 2025, introducing advanced systems like the ASTER 30 SAM and SEAFIRE radar. The second and third frigates are also ahead of schedule, with the first two entering service in French configuration before being upgraded to the Hellenic Navy's specifications by 2027.

Philippine Coast Guard Enhances Ties with Indian Coast Guard, Navy Amid SCS Tensions

27 Aug 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
The Philippine Coast Guard has strengthened its maritime cooperation with the Indian Coast Guard and Navy amid South China Sea tensions. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to enhance professional linkages in maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and pollution response. High-ranking PCG personnel visited Indian facilities, and further defense cooperation, including joint exercises and military equipment supply, was discussed. The Philippines' procurement of Indian-made BrahMos missiles underscores the deepening security partnership between the two nations.

French Navy Submarine 'Perle' is Operational Again

30 Jul 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
The French Navy's Rubis-class SSN Perle is operational again after completing its maintenance and repair period on June 30, 2023, following a fire in June 2020. The submarine underwent unprecedented repair work, including a unique 'transplanting' operation where the forward section of a decommissioned Rubis-class SSN, Saphir, was welded to Perle's aft section. Perle has been upgraded to implement the F21 heavyweight torpedo and has operational potential until 2028. The fire had left a capability gap in the French submarine force, but with Perle's return, the Navy now has 5 operational SSNs, with the Suffren class soon to be fully operational.

Naval Group Delivers First BRF Supply Ship to French Navy

19 Jul 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
Naval Group delivered the first BRF supply ship, Jacques Chevallier, to the French Navy during a ceremony at Toulon naval base. The ship is part of a Franco-Italian cooperation under the FLOTLOG program, led by OCCAR on behalf of the French DGA and Italian NAVARM. The construction began in May 2020, with the keel-laying in December 2021 and the launch in April 2022. The ship will undergo operational evaluation before entering active service in 2024. The program includes four ships, with the second to be delivered in 2025. The BRF vessels feature advanced systems from various companies, including Safran, Vestdavit, Thales, Nexter, MBDA, and GE.

USMC Adds Loitering Munitions to its LRUSV Naval Drones

18 Jul 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) is enhancing its Long-Range Unmanned Surface Vessels (LRUSVs) with Hero-120 loitering munitions developed by UVision in Israel. Metal Shark has delivered five LRUSVs and a manned contact vessel to the USMC, which will be used for various roles including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and precision strikes. The Hero-120 offers a significant range advantage over existing munitions, providing the Marines with new over-the-horizon capabilities. Testing and initial deliveries have been completed, with further fielding and operational capability timelines still under consideration.

Google bans channels of Philippine pastor, a Duterte ally, from YouTube

07 Jul 2023  |  benarnews.org
Google has banned YouTube channels associated with Apollo Quiboloy, a Philippine megachurch pastor sanctioned by the U.S. for alleged sex abuse and an ally of former President Rodrigo Duterte. The channels for Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ and Sonshine Media Network International, which he owns, were terminated for violating YouTube's Terms of Service. The U.S. Treasury Department has accused Quiboloy of systemic and pervasive rape and other physical abuse. Quiboloy, who claims to be the 'appointed son of God,' is on the FBI's Most Wanted list for multiple charges, though he faces no charges in the Philippines. Duterte has previously expressed support for Quiboloy. Following the takedown of his personal channel, Quiboloy challenged the U.S. government on his SMNI program, claiming he is 'bulletproof' against the allegations.

Philippine and US Marines to Sink Former Navy Tanker

06 Jul 2023  |  navalnews.com
Philippine and US Marine Corps troops will collaborate to sink a decommissioned Philippine Navy replenishment tanker as part of the Marine Aviation Support Activity (MASA) from July 6 to 21. The exercise, known as a maritime strike, will occur off San Antonio, Zambales on July 13, focusing on coastal defense. The ex-BRP Lake Caliraya, donated to the Navy in 2014 and decommissioned in 2020, will be the target. This is the second sinking exercise in 2023, with the first involving the BRP Pangasinan during the Balikatan exercises. The MASA aims to enhance interoperability and territorial defense capabilities, with 1,257 AFP personnel and 1,444 US personnel participating, along with seven PN ships.

Philippines accuses China Coast Guard of harassment in South China Sea

05 Jul 2023  |  benarnews.org
The Philippine Coast Guard accused the China Coast Guard of harassing its vessels during a mission to deliver supplies to troops at Ayungin Shoal in the South China Sea. The incident, involving aggressive actions by Chinese vessels, is the second in four months and contravenes international maritime regulations. Despite the presence of People's Liberation Army Navy boats, the Philippine mission was successful. China's actions in the disputed sea, which is claimed by multiple countries, have been increasingly aggressive, including militarization and obstruction of resupply missions. Philippine senators have called for international support to address China's behavior, and the issue has affected the distribution of films like 'Barbie' due to the depiction of China's contested nine-dash line.

French Navy Trains Repelling USV and UAV Attacks from Ships

01 Jul 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
The French Navy conducted its first training exercise to repel attacks from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned surface vessels (USVs), involving surface combatants, Rafale M pilots, and a Navy Riflemen battalion. The exercise tested the effectiveness of various weapons against UAVs and USVs, including the use of jamming equipment and specialized ammunition. The training aimed to prepare for the evolving threat of drones in naval warfare, as evidenced by their use in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Expert commentary by former Turkish Navy officer Tayfun Ozberk highlighted the importance of developing countermeasures against UAV/USV assaults, including the potential future use of laser weapons.

Elbit to Supply Two Patrol Aircraft to Asia Pacific Country

01 Jul 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
Elbit Systems has secured a $114 million contract to supply two long-range patrol aircraft to an unspecified Asia-Pacific country, likely the Philippines. The aircraft, based on the ATR 72-600, will be equipped with advanced mission suites. This contract, to be executed over five years, marks the first procurement under the new Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro as the Philippines advances its military modernization. The aircraft will enhance the Philippine Air Force's ISR and MDA capabilities, although it remains unclear if they will include anti-submarine warfare equipment.

Philippines police rescue 3,000 Asians, Africans from illegal gaming operations

28 Jun 2023  |  Radio Free Asia
Philippine security forces rescued nearly 3,000 individuals from various Asian and African nations during a raid on illegal gambling operations in Metro Manila. The workers, primarily Filipinos along with many from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries, were lured into fraudulent offshore operations. The raid targeted seven buildings, with suspects identified as Chinese nationals. The Philippine National Police highlighted that only two of the raided buildings had licenses to operate as offshore gaming establishments. The operations, known as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), have flourished since 2016, catering mainly to customers in mainland China.

New Philippine defense chief sees ‘no problem’ with joint US patrols in South China Sea

07 Jun 2023  |  benarnews.org
Gilberto Teodoro, the newly appointed Philippine defense minister, expressed support for joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea and emphasized that Manila's defense arrangements are its own concern. His appointment comes amid heightened tensions in the region, which is claimed by several countries. Teodoro, who has familial ties to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and previously served under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, stated that building the Philippines' credible deterrence is a priority. The Philippines has recently allowed the U.S. increased access to its bases, a move criticized by Beijing. Teodoro affirmed the Philippines' sovereignty and referenced the UNCLOS, which underpinned a 2016 ruling against China's claims in the South China Sea.

Philippine, US, Japanese coast guards carry out anti-terror drill in disputed waters

06 Jun 2023  |  Radio Free Asia
A Philippine Coast Guard unit conducted an anti-terror training drill with American and Japanese counterparts in the South China Sea, focusing on intercepting a ship carrying 'weapons of mass destruction.' The exercise, part of the first trilateral drills in the disputed waters, aimed to enhance cooperation and ensure regional stability. The drill follows recent tensions with China, which claims nearly all of the South China Sea, despite a 2016 international tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines.

French Destroyer presence in South China Sea shows France' Support for Liberty of Navigation

01 Jun 2023  |  www.navalnews.com
Rear Admiral Geoffroy d’Andigné emphasized France's commitment to liberty of navigation in the South China Sea during a press briefing aboard the French Destroyer Lorraine. France, the only EU country conducting navigation in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, aims to support stability without engaging in territorial disputes. The French Indo-Pacific strategy promotes multilateralism, rule of law, and economic development. The Lorraine, set to be commissioned after its current voyage, participated in maritime drills with Japanese, Canadian, and US navies. French and Filipino defense leaders are enhancing cooperation, reflecting France's broader strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

Dozens of Islamic State-Linked Fighters Killed in Southern Philippines

03 Apr 2023  |  Benar News
The article reports on recent clashes between the Philippine military and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), an Islamic State-linked group, in Maguindanao province, southern Philippines. The military confirmed the death of 44 militants following tips from residents and intelligence efforts. The BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), engaged in intense firefights with the troops, resulting in numerous casualties and the seizure of weapons and bombs. Despite the BIFF's pledge of allegiance to IS, their recruitment efforts are reportedly failing due to increased awareness and prevention of violent extremism by local governments and the military. The article also touches on the broader context of militant activity in the region, including the Marawi siege and ongoing concerns about security in southern cities.

Tanker carrying 800,000 liters of oil sinks in central Philippines

28 Feb 2023  |  benarnews.org
A tanker with 800,000 liters of industrial fuel sank near Oriental Mindoro province in the central Philippines due to engine trouble and rough seas. All 20 crew members were rescued by a Panama-flagged ship. The Philippine Coast Guard is investigating for an oil spill and has deployed BRP Melchora Aquino to assess the situation. A previous spill occurred last month in Batangas, and the country's worst spill happened in 2006 with over 2.1 million liters of fuel spilled.

Philippine Army: Communist rebels kill 2 soldiers helping search for crashed plane

21 Feb 2023  |  Benar News
Two Filipino soldiers were killed by suspected communist rebels while on a supply run during a search-and-rescue operation for a crashed Cessna 340A near Mayon Volcano. The soldiers were part of a team searching for four missing individuals, including two Australians. The New People’s Army, the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, was blamed for the attack. The Energy Development Corp. confirmed the four missing individuals were connected to the firm. The Australian Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are providing consular assistance. The NPA has a long history of insurgency in the Philippines.

Three Philippine police officers accused of killing Spanish surfer surrender

15 Feb 2023  |  Benar News
Three Philippine police officers implicated in the 2020 killing of Spanish surfer Diego Bello Lafuente during Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war have surrendered. The officers claimed Lafuente pulled a gun on them, but a reinvestigation cast doubt on their version. The Department of Justice announced the surrender and emphasized a fair trial. Lafuente's family and friends challenged the official account, and prosecutors found grounds to charge the officers with murder and planting evidence. Duterte's drug war resulted in thousands of deaths, and he faces potential investigation by the International Criminal Court. His successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has promised a different approach to the drug war.

Philippines: ASEAN must ensure South China Sea stability, economic growth

11 Jan 2023  |  Benar News
Southeast Asian nations, emerging as 'middle powers,' play a crucial role in ensuring stability in the South China Sea amid U.S.-China rivalry, according to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo. ASEAN's centrality is vital for regional peace and economic growth. This statement follows the Philippine Supreme Court's ruling that a 2005 oil exploration deal with China and Vietnam was unconstitutional. Despite geopolitical tensions, the Philippines seeks to benefit economically from both China and the U.S. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently secured agreements with China on various sectors, including agriculture and renewable energy, and discussed setting up a direct hotline with Chinese President Xi Jinping to prevent miscommunication in the South China Sea.

Philippine communist party chief Jose Maria Sison dies in exile at 83

17 Dec 2022  |  Benar News
Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and leader of the long-running communist insurgency, died in the Netherlands at 83. Sison's death marks a significant moment in the decades-long conflict that has claimed thousands of lives. The CPP, which has been engaged in a Maoist rebellion since 1969, has seen its numbers dwindle over the years. The Philippine Defense Department views Sison's death as a potential turning point for peace. The article also touches on the history of the insurgency, failed peace talks, and recent budget allocations for anti-communist efforts.

Duterte spiritual adviser Quiboloy calls US sanctions ‘outrageous’

12 Dec 2022  |  Benar News
The U.S. Department of Treasury has sanctioned Apollo Quiboloy, a close adviser to former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, for alleged serious human rights abuses, including systemic rape and sex trafficking. Quiboloy's legal team has denounced the sanctions as baseless and a violation of the presumption of innocence. The Philippine Department of Justice has not yet received an extradition request from the U.S. Meanwhile, local politicians see the sanctions as a prompt for domestic investigations into Quiboloy's activities. The sanctions freeze Quiboloy's assets in the U.S. and prohibit American companies from conducting business with him.

Philippine lawmakers’ budget funds controversial anti-communist task force

05 Dec 2022  |  Benar News
The Philippine Congress allocated 10 billion pesos to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for fiscal 2023, despite the agency's minimal use of its previous budget. The task force, established by former President Rodrigo Duterte, aims to combat the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, the New People’s Army. Critics, including human rights groups like Karapatan, argue that the funds should be redirected to social services and accuse the task force of red-tagging activists and journalists. The budget decision aligns with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s priorities, but has drawn criticism for perpetuating Duterte-era policies.

Rights Group Casts Doubt on Official Account of Deadly Southern Philippine Raid

04 Jan 2022  |  Benar News
A human rights group has challenged the official narrative of a police and military raid in Pikit, Cotabato province, Philippines, which resulted in six deaths, including five suspects and a female bystander. The Moro Consensus Group alleges the incident was an extrajudicial killing rather than a legitimate operation. The raid, which occurred on December 29, 2021, was part of an effort to serve an arrest warrant to Joel Manampan, a wanted individual. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which governs the autonomous Muslim region, stated that the operation did not comply with ceasefire protocols established by the peace process. The MILF has taken control of the situation to ease tensions in the village. The incident has raised concerns about the conduct of military and police operations in areas controlled by the MILF, recalling a 2015 event where 44 police commandos were killed during a raid.

Philippines’ Duterte claims he ordered ambush, but palace said he ‘misspeaks’ Tagalog

18 Sep 2019  |  South China Morning Post
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte claimed he ordered an ambush on General Loot, but his spokesman Salvador Panelo clarified it was a misstatement. Duterte's controversial remarks and policies, including bounties on freed convicts and his history of admitting to killings, have sparked criticism and legal challenges. The release of serious offenders under a good conduct law has been a significant embarrassment for Duterte's administration. Despite the backlash, Duterte continues to defend his appointees and policies, maintaining his tough-on-crime stance.

‘Preposterous’: Philippine defence secretary hits out at Chinese diplomat’s claim that Filipino workers in China are spies

18 Aug 2019  |  South China Morning Post
Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana criticized a statement by Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who suggested that Filipino workers in China could be spies, calling it 'preposterous.' Lorenzana expressed concerns about the potential for Chinese nationals working in Philippine gaming centers to engage in espionage, advocating for their relocation away from military camps. Political scientist Ramon Beleno III warned that such statements could negatively impact Filipino workers in China. The issue of Chinese warships passing through Philippine waters was also highlighted as a point of contention between the two nations, with President Rodrigo Duterte expected to address it in an upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Philippines vows justice for handcuffed Chinese man who fell to death

14 Aug 2019  |  South China Morning Post
Philippine authorities, responding to the Chinese embassy's call, have committed to seeking justice for the death of 27-year-old Chinese man Yang Kang, who died after falling from a building in Manila while handcuffed. The incident, which occurred as Yang tried to escape from alleged captivity over unpaid debts, has led to the Philippine National Police closing in on his Chinese employer, who faces illegal detention charges. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr stated that the Philippines would allow Chinese investigators to assist if needed, emphasizing the importance of protecting Chinese nationals to avoid repercussions for Filipino workers in China. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered an investigation into the matter, amidst concerns over the treatment of Chinese workers in the Philippines, particularly in illegal gambling operations.








Residents facing risk of disease as 300,000 remain homeless after Typhoon Bopha

09 Aug 2018  |  Al Jazeera
The article reports on the aftermath of Typhoon Bopha in the southern Philippines, particularly focusing on the town of New Bataan. It highlights the plight of the residents, with over 300,000 people left homeless and many still searching for missing relatives. The risk of disease is escalating due to decomposing bodies and inadequate shelter, with children and pregnant women being particularly vulnerable. The International Federation of the Red Cross and other organizations are mentioned as sources of aid and information. The challenges of rehabilitation and reconstruction are emphasized, with the United Nations having requested $65 million in aid, but only a fraction of that amount has been received. The article conveys a sense of despair among the survivors and a lack of hope for a quick recovery.


Duterte recalls Obama criticizing PH drug war: Insulted but no hurt feelings

03 Aug 2018  |  globalnation.inquirer.net
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his past grievances with the United States, particularly with former President Barack Obama, during the inauguration of the Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Duterte recalled being offended by Obama's criticism of his human rights record at a press conference in Laos during the ASEAN Summit in 2016. Despite this, Duterte claimed he harbors no ill feelings towards America. The article also mentions the Philippine National Police's count of over 4,000 deaths in the drug war, excluding vigilante killings, which is lower than the 12,000 estimated by rights groups. The International Criminal Court is investigating Duterte for drug-related killings during his tenure as mayor of Davao City.

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