Tag Archive: Peter Paul Galvez

Japan Self-Defense Forces chief Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano is interested in holding more drills with the Philippines, the Department of National Defense said Friday.

The DND made the announcement while warning that China has reached the point of “militarizing” the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Kawano paid a courtesy call to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Wednesday, after meeting Armed Forces chief General Hernando Iriberri, according to the DND.

Kawano expressed interest in conducting more exercises, “particularly amphibious landing exercises and amphibious operations,” according to a statement issued by Gazmin’s office.

Gazmin welcomed Kawano’s interest but noted that a “visiting forces agreement” is needed before such activities can be conducted.

Kawano, for his part, assured that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for national security legislation that could expand the JSDF’s activities with the Philippines.

Kawano told Gazmin of the need to share information to address “common security issues” and noted the importance of capacity-building in humanitarian assitance and disaster relief.

During the meeting, Kawano also mentioned that China is trying to change the status quo in the region with its reclamation activities, according to the DND.

In a separate statement, DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez warned that China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea are now in “militarization stage.”

“This is the worst stage of all, this is the militarization stage, and it must be stopped,” DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.

Galvez made the remark when asked to comment on Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua’s announcement that China will build various facilities on reefs which it had reclaimed.

Zhao announced earlier this week that Beijing is set to build facilities that would support freedom of navigation, search and rescue, and scientific research.

“Maybe we should ask: ‘For whom are those search and rescue facilities for? Is it for our ships and installations that they are threatening to destroy?'” Galvez said.

“They’ve said one thing and have done another,” the DND spokesman said, apparently referring to China’s project in Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.

It can be recalled that China once declared a construction on Panganiban (Mischief) Reef as a “shelter for fishermen,” though the facility turned into a garrison after a few years.

Aside from Panganiban, China has also done reclamation and construction works in six other reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

Last May, China announced that it will build lighthouses on Calderon (Cuarteron) and Mabini (Johnson South) Reefs — which are both inside the Philippines’ claim line — to “improve navigation safety.”

“Regardless of what supposedly ‘good’details the Chinese leadership informs the peace-focused and rules-based international community, they illegally and blatantly continue with their aggression. These are mere elements of their island building militarization which needs to stop and be dismantled,” Galvez said. (John Roson)

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The Philippines is interested in acquiring P3 Orion surveillance planes from Japan, the Department of National Defense said Thursday.

Peter Paul Galvez, DND spokesman, confirmed the department’s intent after reports indicated that the country may acquire at least four P3s from Japan by yearend.

“Tinitingnan if it will become an excess defense article. When it becomes an excess defense article, then we can get it at a very low price,” Galvez told reporters.

Galvez, however, could not say how many P3s are being considered for acquisition.

Japan’s navy is currently using P3 Orions in a joint training with Philippine Navy sailors in waters off Palawan, near the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Fernando Manalo, defense undersecretary for modernization, said the plan to acquire P3s is “separate” from the DND project to buy two long-range patrol aircraft (LRPA).

Manalo made the remark when asked on reports that the acquisition of P3s has been substituted for the LRPA project, which is currently suspended because President Aquino has yet to approve parts of the AFP Modernization Program.

The DND plans to buy two long-range patrol aircraft for the Air Force for P5.97 billion. (John Roson)

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Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Japan Defense Minister Gen Nakatani signing a memorandum on defense cooperation. (Japan MoD photo)

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Japan Defense Minister Gen Nakatani signing a memorandum on defense cooperation. (Japan MoD photo)

The Philippines submitted to Japan a list of defense equipment that it plans to acquire from the latter, amid the two countries’ common maritime dispute with China.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed the list’s submission Monday, after returning from Japan where he met with his counterpart Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.

“Lahat ng magagamit to address our maritime security (Everything we can use to address our maritime security),” Gazmin said in a text message, when asked what items were on the list.

The list covers equipment for capabilities in ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), HADR (humanitarian and disaster response), and lift, defense department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said for his part.

Last January 31, the Department of National Defense and Japan’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement, saying Gazmin and Nakatani signed a “Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges.”

In the memorandum, the defense chiefs “concurred” on, among others, “to explore a possibility of cooperation in the area of defense equipment and technology.”

The two countries “will start working-level discussions” on the matter, according to the statement.

‘Rare agreement’

“This is a very rare occassion, if not the first, [for] the Japanese to sign such a memorandum,” Galvez said.

The memorandum came months after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration re-interpreted Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution in July 2014.

The Constitution, enacted in 1947 after Japan’s involvement in World War II, was re-interpreted to allow the country to protect itself thru a “collective” defense with allies.

Japan also adopted what it calls the “Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology” in April 2014.

Navy list

The Philippine Navy submitted to the DND a list of assets that it plans to acquire from Japan on December 26, spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said Monday.

The force is looking at a possible acquisition of patrol vessels from Japan, Navy vice commander Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad said on December 17.

Humanitarian and disaster response equipment like transport ships and sea planes are also in the list, Arevalo said on December 22.

Common sea problems

Japan’s re-interpretation of its Constitution followed China’s deployment of Coast Guard ships and establishment of an “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) in an area encompassing the Japan-occupied Senkaku Islands.

China lays claim to those islands and calls them “Diaoyu Islands.”

China has also been deploying Coast Guard ships around Philippine-occupied parts of the Kalayaan (Spratly) Islands Group off Palawan and the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales, areas which they are now preventing Filipino fishermen from entering.

China claims all of the Spratly Islands, which it calls “Nansha Islands,” and Scarborough Shoal, which it calls “Huangyan Island.”

Capability building

During their meeting, Gazmin and Nakatani also agreed on having the Japan Self -Defense Forces (JSDF) help the Armed Forces of the Philippines build capabilities in humanitarian and disaster response (HADR).

“As a part of this project, they (JSDF) will conduct capacity building assistance in the area of air transportation to the members of PAF (Philippine Air Force) in 2015,” according to the defense chiefs’ statement.

The PAF, on the other hand, will try to participate in future versions of “Cope North,” the multilateral combat-readiness and HADR exercise annually conducted by Japan, the U.S., Australia, and other allies off Guam.

The Philippine Navy, meanwhile, will conduct bilateral naval training with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force this year “to promote cooperation in maritime security,” according to the statement. (John Roson)

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The Philippines may spend more than P90 billion (US$1.995 billion) for the second phase of modernizing its military in the six years after 2017, defense officials said Wednesday.

“Mayroon nang estimate… It’s much higher than P90 billion,” defense undersecretary for finance, munitions, and materiel Fernando Manalo said.

Manalo made the remark in a press briefing to present the status of modernization projects under what the defense department calls the “first horizon.”

The first horizon effectively started 2014 and will end on 2017.

Under this phase, the government is spending P90.858 billion to buy warships, fighter jets, helicopters, an air defense radar system, other various equipment, and will upgrade existing bases.

Many of these projects are already being implemented and the government shows capacity to pay, so the “second horizon” can already be implemented by 2017, Manalo said.

The second horizon is slated to be implemented until 2023 while the third horizon will run from 2024 to 2028.

Manalo declined to specify what types of equipment will be acquired under the second horizon, but said these will mostly be for disaster response and protecting territories in the disputed West Philippine (South China) Sea.

“It is sufficient [to say] we are heavy on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and protecting our interest in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Defense department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said incidents in the West Philippine Sea were “much considered” for the Armed Forces’ modernization.

Manalo hinted that more fighter jets may be bought under the second horizon, saying that the current 12 being bought from South Korea is “way way below than what is needed by the Air Force.”

Defense assistant secretary for acquisitions, installations, and logistics Patrick Velez, for his part, said the Navy may already have five to six frigates at end of the third horizon.

“Where we are right now, we are in the first stages but enough to address some concerns of the Armed Forces… We are moving on from this capability towards the full capability of the AFP to provide for credible deterrence,” Velez said. (John Roson)

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US military ships may still visit the Philippines without dumping waste, the Department of National Defense said Friday.

Peter Paul Galvez, the department’s spokesman, made the remark after it was reported that a shipping company catering to US military ships had dumped “toxic waste” into waters off Subic Bay.

“Hiwalay ‘yan sa port visits. Puwede ituloy ang visits without doing any kind of waste disposal,” Galvez told reporters.

Galvez said authorities, especially the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, are still investigating the allegations against Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Glenn Defense Marine is a company catering to US military ships that visit different ports in Asia.

Its services include transporting crew to and from land, as well fetching and disposing waste from the ships.

It was reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that Glenn Defense Marine dumped into the West Philippine Sea more than 180,000 liters of domestic waste and more than 700 liters of “bilge water.”

The bilge water, a mixture of water, oil, and grease, reportedly came from US ships that participated in a recent naval exercise with Philippine forces and allegedly had high levels of “toxicity.”

“Pending investigation, those (visits and waste disposal) are two separate issues. Hindi kailangan ipagkabit,” Galvez said. (John Roson)

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(Update) The Chinese warship stuck at Hasa-Hasa Shoal (international name: Half Moon Shoal) pulled free and left along with six other vessels Sunday, normalizing the situation in the area, officials said.

A Coast Guard vessel in the area confirmed that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate No. 560 and the other ships spotted near it left before noon, Peter Paul Galvez, defense department spokesman, said.

“We will be continuously investigating the matter regarding the incident,” he said.

Commodore Rustom Pena, commander of the Naval Forces West (Navforwest), said the situation in Hasa-Hasa is now “normal” after the Chinese vessels’ departure.

Pena, however, said he still does not know how the warship ended up at Hasa-Hasa, which is just 65 nautical miles away from the island-town of Balabac, Palawan.

“Dumadaan lang siguro. Marami naman dumadaan diyan,” he said.

Vessels of the Navforwest will be continuing patrols in the area, Pena said, adding their ships were not there when the incident occurred. (John Roson)

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see update here

Six Chinese ships have been spotted near the grounded warship at Hasa-Hasa Shoal (international name: Half Moon Shoal) off Palawan Saturday, prompting Philippine authorities to ask China to explain the vessels’ presence.

A military aircraft spotted the six ships near the grounded People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy frigate No. 560 when it conducted a reconnaissance flight over Hasa-Hasa before noon, Peter Paul Galvez, defense department spokesman, said.

Galvez declined to say what color the ships have, saying it was up to the Chinese to explain. Militaries usually color their ships gray while civilian law enforcement ships are colored white.

The six, whose sizes were not confirmed by the reconnaissance plane, are “definitely” Chinese, Galvez said.

“We are seeking clarification from the Chinese side [what is] the purpose of those ships. Hindi tayo ang magsasabi na nagre-rescue sila… hayaan natin na manggaling sa kanila ‘yung salitang ‘yun,” he said.

Frigate still stuck

In an earlier phone interview, Galvez said the PLA Navy ship No. 560 remained stuck at Hasa-Hasa after reportedly running aground Thursday night.

“(The ship ran) aground, it’s stuck,,” he said, adding the military vessel was the same ship that the Chinese Embassy in Manila had earlier told the government of.

Galvez, however, said the DND has yet to receive reports on how the ship happened to be in Hasa-Hasa, which lies just 65 nautical miles west of the island-municipality of Balabac, on the southwestern tip of Palawan.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ordered the Armed Forces’ Western Command to send ships to Hasa-Hasa and conduct an investigation to determine why the Chinese vessel was there.

Commodore Rustom Pena, commander of the Naval Forces West, said their naval assets will provide the marooned Chinese assistance, if needed. (John Roson)

see update here

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President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the country’s two ships near Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal) to return home because of bad weather.

Aquino ordered the Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels to “return to port” Friday night due to “increasing bad weather,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement.

The President’s order came as typhoon “Butchoy” (international name: Guchol) came closer to the country via the Pacific Ocean.

The storm was seen continuously moving towards the country’s northwest Saturday, packing maximum 120 kph winds near the center and a gustiness of up to 150 kph.

“When weather improves, a reevaluation will be made,” Del Rosario said.

Sought for comment on the ships’ pullout, the Department of National Defense said it sees the move as only “normal.”

“It’s a common practice for ships to seek safer areas during inclement weather. Siyempre ang iniisip ni Presidente diyan ay ‘yung safety ng ating mga personnel,” DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.

The military, on the other hand, said it will just continue to monitor developments in Panatag through the Coast Guard.

“That’s the mandate, order ng President ‘yan eh, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is just following,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said.

“We will be closely in touch with the Philippine Coast Guard… we will maintain coordination with the Coast Guard and other agencies as far as the security of the area is concerned,” he said.

The Coast Guard and BFAR ships had been in a “standoff” with several Chinese law enforcement vessels in Panatag since April, after the Navy tried to arrest Chinese fishermen who were seen carrying live sharks, corals, and giant clams poached from Philippine waters on their boats.

The Navy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar was the first to engage the Chinese in the standoff, but was eventually pulled out in what government officials said was a move to let civilian agencies deal with Chinese civilian agencies. (John Roson)

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More Chinese law enforcement vessels have been spotted in Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal) as the standoff between the Philippines and China neared its second month, a security official said.

As of Thursday morning, authorities monitored four Chinese Maritime Surveillance (CMS) vessels and three Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) vessels, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The number of vessels increased from only two CMS ships and three FLEC vessels reported by the Department of Foreign Affairs last week.

The security official said there are now only eight Chinese fishing vessels at the shoal and no “utility boats” were spotted.

Last May 23, the DFA reported that there were 16 Chinese fishing vessels and 56 “utility boats” at the shoal.

The standoff started on April 10, when a Philippine Navy ship tried to arrest Chinese fishermen on vessels carrying corals, endangered giant clams, and live sharks poached from Philippine waters.

Asean-China ties ‘unaffected’ – DND

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense spokesman Dr. Peter Paul Galvez said yesterday that military ties between the Association and Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China remain unaffected by issues in the West Philippine Sea, including the standoff in Panatag.

He said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other Asean defense chiefs discussed the issue during their meeting in Cambodia.

“When the issue of the West Philippine Sea was touched, the ASEAN Defense Ministers have concurred that the defense and military cooperation between ASEAN and China remained unaffected,” Galvez said in a statement.

Galvez, however, pointed out that Asean member-states stand put in their commitment to implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“Likewise, together with the rest of the ASEAN, we underscore the importance of freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea as provided for by universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said. (John Roson)

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(Update) The Department of National Defense on Friday said China’s deployment of a patrol gunboat to the West Philippine Sea was okay, if the vessel does not stray into Philippine waters.

“It’s okay if it (gunboat) goes around in international waters. When it goes within the EEZ (exclusive economic zone), that’s a different story,” DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.

Galvez made the remark when sought for comment on China’s reported deployment of the Yuzheng 310.

Chinese state media reported on Thursday that the Yuzheng 310, China’s most advanced fishery administration vessel, was deployed from Guangzhou to protect Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea, which Manila calls West Philippine Sea.

“Ang claim nila (China), that ship is a fisheries ship, so civilian ‘yan in nature, wala rin tayong problema dun,” Galvez said.

The deployment came amid a “standoff” between two China Marine Surveillance vessels and a Philippine Coast Guard ship at the Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal).

Panatag Shoal is located some 120 nautical miles from the shore of Masinloc town in Zambales province, well within the 200-nautical mile EEZ provided for coastal states under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It was not immediately known where the Yuzheng 310 already was on Friday.

The standoff started last April 10, when the Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar tried to arrest Chinese fishermen on 12 boats that were found carrying corals, giant clams, and live sharks poached in Philippine waters.

The warship withdrew from the shoal the next day and was replaced by a Coast Guard ship, in what Philippine officials said was a move to let a civilian agency deal with another civilian agency.

The Coast Guard, despite being armed, is considered a civilian agency since it is supervised by the Department of Transporation and Communications. The China Marine Surveillance falls under the State Oceanic Administration. (John Roson)

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