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Philippines open bidding for ₱18 billion 2 New Frigates; No to Refurbished Italy Maestrale-class frigates as expensive

The Department of National Defense (DND) has finally earmarked ₱18 billion for two brand-new frigates for the Philippine Navy and opened the bidding for the ships aimed to boost military modernization.. Readmore...

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Philippines ask US P3C Orion spy planes to monitor over the South China Sea

China said last week it had begun "combat-ready" patrols in waters it said were under its control in the South China Sea, after saying it "vehemently opposed" a Vietnamese law asserting sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands. Readmore..

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Philippines set to be new Tiger Economy - Book Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles

The book "Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles," written by Ruchir Sharma, assessed the Philippines as one of the strongest emerging economies in the future where enhanced economic activities are to take place. "Now at long last, the Philippines looks poised to resume a period of strong growth. Readmore...

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China Claimed Spratlys, Palawan, Province of the Philippines

China TV Claimed Philippine is a China Territory activities are violations of the UNLCOS and China is violating the International Law of Sea. Beijing said its position on the South China Sea is consistent and clear-cut and is in accordance with the international law Readmore...

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Moodys upgrade Philippines credit rating to Investment grade level with SP, Fitch, JICA Japan Investment rating Agency

Philippines is now in Full investment grade level from all credit ratings Moodys, Fitch, Standard and Poor, JICA of Japan Investment.. Readmore...

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Forgetting the tons of Gold, Queen Sofia of Spain ended her visit to the Philippines

For 333 years Spain controlled the Philippines and shipped tons of gold of the country to the Mainland Spain. Poor infrastructure, low education, corruption, killings, slavery and Readmore...

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CHINA Spying the Philippines using Apps of IOS and Android named WeChat BEWARE Pinoys

With the continues spar in the West Philippines Sea, CHINA Spying the Philippines using Apps of IOS and Android named We Chat BEWARE Pinoys Readmore...

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Do Not Buy Made in China - Code 690 to 695

Do you know that iPhone and iPads are made in China? Codes will give you a hint where the products are made. Buying made in China will not just help the communist to invade the world but also, you would lose a lot for their low quality and sub standard products.. learn the code here Readmore...

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USA, Europe, Canada, Russia, Australia, Japan, Indonesia -Supports Philippines for Spratly Disputes

In a historic bilateral meeting held in Moscow on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to further improve relations between the two countries, Readmore...

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UN Approved! 13 Million Hectares Benham Rise belongs to the Philippines!

The United Nations has approved the Philippines' territorial claim to Benham Rise, an undersea landmass in the Pacific Ocean potentially rich in mineral and natural gas deposits, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said Readmore...

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SP Raises Philippines Credit Rating to Stable and Positive Outlook to 9 Year High

Standard and Poor upgraded the Philippine Credit rating to Stable or Positve Outlook. The long term foreign currency denominated debt was raised one level SP said in a statement Readmore...

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USA Welcomes Philippine Banana after Ban from China over Scarborough Standoff

A Rotting of million dollars worth of world famous Philippines Banana in the Farms in Davao will end so soon after USA Government gives a go signal to import Philippines banana and export potatoes to the Philippines Readmore...

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Korean firms leading exodus from south China’s manufacturing hub- Moving to the Philippines

An executive from a Korean electronics company operating in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China said his firm recently built a plant in the Philippines. His and other companies working in China are apparently considering an exodus from China Readmore...

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AFP- Philippines 48 Fighter Jets, 6 Submarines, anti-ship cruise missile – Washington CNAS

The Philippines needs up to four squadrons (48) of upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, more well-armed frigates and corvette-size, fast to surface combatant vessels and minesweepers and four to six mini submarines, possibly obtained from Russia Readmore...

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Japan eases visa requirements for the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia

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Tourists at the Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Marc Veraart/CC BY

Japan eases visa requirements for Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines — In an effort to boost tourist arrivals from the Philippines, Japan on Tuesday started to simplify the Filipinos' procurement of visas.

In a statement, the Japanese Embassy in Manila announced that the "substantial relaxation of multiple visas" is coupled with the extension of visa validity for up to five years.

"Additionally, for those applicants residing outside of their countries of origin, it will now become possible to apply at the diplomatic mission which has jurisdiction over their place of residence," the embassy noted.

Besides the Philippines, Japan also eased visa requirements for nationals of Indonesia and Vietnam.

The process for acquiring single-entry tourism visas by registered travel agencies, meanwhile, will also be simplified by November.

According to the embassy, the measures benefiting three of its Asian neighbors aim to make Japan a "tourism-oriented" economy as well as promote people-to-people exchanges.

The new policies came after a June 17 announcement of the embassy vowing to relax multiple-entry visa processing "to a quasi-exemption-equivalent level when applied via specified travel agencies." - philSTAR
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Philippines Is Ripe for Convenience-Store Growth with 1: 41,000 ratio

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Philippines Is Ripe for Convenience-Store Growth

Chains Such as 7-Eleven and FamilyMart Spread in a Nation With Rising Incomes

 

MANILA—When a bakery shut down in a prime location in central Manila earlier this year, there was little doubt that a convenience store would open in its place.

Chains such as 7-Eleven, Mini Stop and FamilyMart are spreading over the capital and other cities in the Philippines—where people have typically shopped at basic neighborhood stores—as retailers bet on a largely untapped market with fast-rising disposable incomes.

"If we look at markets in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is the biggest opportunity," said Stuart Jamieson, managing director in the Philippines for market-research company Nielsen.

In terms of convenience stores per capita, the Philippines has a fraction of most other East Asian markets. As of 2012, the country had one for roughly every 41,000 people, Nielsen's latest figures show. South Korea has roughly one store for every 2,000 people. The figure is similar in Taiwan, where 7-Eleven's mascot even starred in his own musical.

The spike in interest in the Philippines is dramatic. Mini Stop and 7-Eleven were the only two convenience store chains in the country 18 months ago. Now there are seven, and most have aggressive expansion plans that will see the number of stores nationwide double from around 2,000 today to 4,000 within four years.

The boom—in retail generally, but in convenience stores in particular—is being driven by the increasing wealth of urban Filipinos. According to the World Bank, gross national income per capita totaled $3,270 in 2013, up from $2,480 in 2009, and almost treble the amount in 2003.

It is also being driven by changing working practices. The country's thriving outsourcing sector employs one million people, many of whom draw good salaries fielding calls from American and European clients at all hours of the day and night. This makes them ideal for the 24-hour convenience-store model.

The new chains also offer a clean, consistent and air-conditioned alternative to the traditional street-side shops that Filipino shoppers still rely on in many parts of the country.

As anticipated, the former bakery in Manila's central business district is now a FamilyMart, a Japanese-owned chain that began opening stores in the Philippines last year. Unlike India, the Philippines welcomes foreign investment in its retail sector.

Inside the new FamilyMart, many lunchtime customers appeared most excited about the self-service ice cream dispenser, paying 25 pesos ($0.55) to balance as much ice cream as possible on top of a small cone. Some stayed in the air-conditioned store to eat. Like many Asian convenience stores, there was a seating area. Otherwise, convenience stores here look similar to others around the world.

FamilyMart's general manager in the Philippines, Eduardo Paredes Jr. , said the company plans to have 500 stores in the country by 2018, up from 130 by the end of this year. "It's a numbers game—you need a few hundred stores to become profitable."

To accelerate growth, the company will begin franchising by the end of September, Mr. Paredes said. Like most operators in the Philippines, FamilyMart combines franchising with direct management. Mini Stop and 7-Eleven, the two entrenched players, are responding with plans for hundreds of new stores.

Indonesian chain Alfamart has a partnership with SM Group, one of the Philippines' biggest conglomerates. This will enable it to draw on SM's local savvy and gain exclusive access to its properties, including nationwide shopping malls, Mr. Jamieson said.

Eduardo Paredes Jr., general manager of FamilyMart in the Philippines, at the chain's newest Manila outlet, on Sept. 16. Trefor Moss/The Wall Street Journal

It isn't unique in this approach. Japanese chain Lawson's will open its first store later this year after a tie-up with retailer Puregold. FamilyMart owes its prime spots in central Manila to its partnership with Ayala Corp. , another powerful conglomerate and real-estate developer.

"Location is the primary factor, but smart operators will also have to differentiate," said Mr. Jamieson.

Alfamart would stand out by positioning itself as a "minimart," said Corazon Guidote, senior vice president at SM Investments Corp. SM.PH -0.06% , a unit of SM Group. She said it would sell staple food and ready-to-cook items.

Other newcomers, U.S. chain Circle K and the locally owned All Day—both of which began opening stores only recently—could be successful because of the sheer scale of the demand, Mr. Jamieson said. Given the number of new players piling into the Philippines, convenience chains could end up merging as the market consolidates, he added.

Mr. Parades looked out from the new FamilyMart in Makati. "There is a 7-Eleven over there, and a Mini Stop on the other corner," he said. "In the future, Manila will be saturated. But there are so many cities elsewhere."

The Wall Street Journal: Write to Trefor Moss at Trefor.Moss@wsj.com

 
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Smart Communication Philippines offer FREE INTERNET to 60 Million Subscriber Starting today! How?

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#SmartFreeInternet: Free mobile Internet for Smart, Sun, TNT prepaid subscribers launched


(VIDEO TO BE UPLOADED IN A BIT) What if Philippine telcos say they will give you free mobile Internet? Sounds crazy, right? Wrong. Smart Communications, Sun Cellular, and Talk 'N Text prepaid subscribers—all 66 million of them—will get to enjoy two months of free Internet starting today, September 26, according to Manny V. Pangilinan, chairman of Smart and its parent company, PLDT.

This turned out to be the "very important announcement" he teased on Twitter two days ago.

"We aim to unlock the value of the Internet to the prepaid market, which is 90 percent of our users," Pangilinan said.

He added: "Out of all smartphones used today, only a third use the Internet. And 30 percent phones shipped are smartphones. We now want to democratize data and give users access to the Internet."

Prepaid users who have at least P1 balance in their account will have free access to mobile Internet. That means you—assuming you're eligible—can shop online, read news on Yahoo, search for information, send and receive emails, use navigation apps like Waze, stream music, and update your Flickr or Tumblr account at any time.

But won't this affect their network?

Pangilinan assured that they are ready to handle the traffic. "We are prepared," he said.

The service is not without its limits. Before you go crazy on your "online spree," better read this:
* The offer is not unlimited. You have free data volume package of up to 30MB per day, which Pangilinan said is more than enough for the average user. You don't have to worry, though. Once you've used up your free allowance, you'll hit a pay wall, giving you a choice of whether you want to buy Internet packages.

* It excludes the following:
- downloading, streaming, and watching of videos (so no to YouTube and the like, sorry)
- using of VOIP apps like FaceTime, Skype, and Viber, Tango
- accessing of messaging apps like Line, KakaoTalk, and WhatsApp
- taking advantage of peer-to-peer file-sharing sites and apps like Bittorrent
Regular data charges will apply if you ever do those, remember that.

* The special offer is good until November 30, 2014. But there's a ray of sunshine here: It may get extended depending on its success.

* It is not available for roaming.
How do you avail yourself of the free service?

Just register by sending FREE to 2999. Take note that you have to do that every day. You can post ads Free at www.PilipinasMall.com now

So who's now saying that the idea of telcos giving free Internet access is crazy?
Got questions? Violent reactions? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us at @aloraguerrero. - Yahoo Philippines
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Rest house, poultry linked to PNP chief Purisima found : Aquino on Defend- Where is President's Loyalty to Purisma or to the Philippines?

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Watch the Video in Youtube

 

'Rest house,' poultry linked to PNP chief found

 

MANILA -- A consumer rights groups has urged Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to make his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) public.

The Coalition of Filipino Consumers revealed that Purisima have several properties, including a rest house in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.

The staff of "Failon Ngayon" went to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to get a copy of Purisima's SALN, but were told that they should go to the Office of the President (OP) to get a copy. However, the OP also did not have a copy of the Purisima's SALN.

Upon visiting Nueva Ecija, the group were told by residents of San Leonardo of a rest house in the area that is allegedly owned by Purisima.

But when the group went to the Office of the Municipal Assessor of San Leonardo to ask about the controversial property, they were given a certificate showing that Purisima does not own any real property in town.

Aside from the house in San Leonardo, Purisima also allegedly owns a poultry farm in Barangay Macatbong in Cabanatuan City.

According to the Office of the City Assessor of Cabanatuan City, the property is "owned" by Rainier Van Albert Purisima, one of the four sons of the PNP chief.

Rainier is a registered nurse and is also the owner of a general merchandise store in Cavite.

After a few weeks, "Failon Ngayon" received a message from CSC chairman Francis Duque saying they now have a copy of Purisima's SALN. He said it was included in the bulk of SALNs submitted by the PNP Human Resources Office.

Purisima's SALN listed several properties, including a house and lot in Caloocan City, a condominium unit in Cubao, Quezon City, a vacant lot in Ilocos Sur, and the property in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija.

However, the SALN does not include the multimillion poultry farm in Cabanatuan City. -- Failon Ngayon, ABS-CBN, September 20, 2014

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Pres. Aquino receives freedom medal in Germany's Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

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(Contributed photo)

Aquino receives freedom medal in Germany

Recognition for President Aquino's Effort For: 

  • Reproductive health Law
  • Human rights
  • Foreign investments and economic growth
  • Education
  • Bangsamoro peace Agreement
  • International law in the dispute with China (UNCLOS at West Philippine Sea /South China Sea Disputes)
  • Fighting corruption

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III was presented the Friedrich-Naumann-Freedom-medal in Berlin, Germany last Saturday for his successful reforms in the areas of education, anti-corruption and rule of law.

Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), said that Filipinos serve as an inspiration worldwide.

"You are the embodiment and the instigator of this inspiration. Your straight path, the daang matuwid, is our motivation too," he told President Aquino.

Gerhardt listed Aquino's achievements, including in the area of reproductive health, human rights, foreign investments and economic growth, education, human rights, the Bangsamoro peace, sticking to international law in the dispute with China and, in particular, in fighting corruption.

The Foundation for Freedom has worked together with liberal partners in the Philippines since 1986.

“When I joined the Liberal Party and became aware of the assistance of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, I came to realize the importance of this work of solidarity,” said Aquino upon accepting the award. “We need solidarity in defense for freedom. We have to assist each other in pursuit of all freedoms.”

“We will forever be grateful for the recognition of our efforts in advancing the cause of humanity,” Aquino added.

FNF Philippines Country Director Jules Maaten said, “This prestigious medal is recognition from Germany and Europe of the tremendous progress that the Philippines made since 2010 in fighting corruption and promoting good governance. This also made the country more attractive for foreign investments and promoted economic growth.”

The ceremony took place on Saturday, September 20, in Berlin.

The Friedrich Naumann Freedom (FNF) Medal is awarded to outstanding personalities who engage themselves for more democracy, human rights and market economy in partnership with the foundation. In the past the medal was awarded, among others, to Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Western Cape Prime Minister Helen Zille, and Liberal International President Hans van Baalen.

FNF is a German foundation working for good governance, human rights and market economy, with more than 60 projects across the globe. (PR) / Sun Star

 
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

International bank proposes Philippine peso ₱ ‘globalization’ like US Dollars $

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Paris, FRANCE – President Benigno S. Aquino III passes through Honor Guards upon arrival at the Palais de L’Elysee for the Bilateral Meeting with French President Francois Hollande. RYAN LIM/ Malacañang Photo Bureau


Int’l bank proposes peso ‘globalization’

PARIS—Bouyed by his rockstar welcome, President Aquino announced he also received an equally “shocking” suggestion from an international bank proposing the “globalization” of the Philippine peso.

Breaking the news before a gathering of Filipinos on Wednesday night (1:30 a.m. Thursday in Manila), the President said he had asked Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to study the proposal, which Aquino found surprising by his own standards.

“I thought I was a bit difficult to surprise. But I was shocked when this big bank told me that we should ‘globalize’ the peso,” he said in a speech at the Chapelle Sainte Bernadette.

“Never had I thought that anyone would ever make such a suggestion, believing that the Philippines is in such a good shape that he would be willing to invest in our currency because he believes in the stability of our economy.”

“Internationalizing” the local currency will allow nonresidents to transact in peso and exports can be invoiced in the same currency, reducing foreign exchange costs. Government can also issue peso-denominated debt overseas more competitively.

New profit opportunities

An internationalized currency “offers new profit opportunities to private sector financial institutions, although this benefit may be offset in part by the entry of foreign financial institutions into the domestic financial market, to the extent that the government permits it,” according to the late international economist Peter Kenen.

But it could also “pose new risks to the domestic financial system due to the issuance of foreign debt to a country’s residents.”

Aquino received a rousing welcome from Filipinos when he came by for what was supposedly a relatively short meeting on the sidelines of his two-day trip in Paris. With his compatriots raring for a photo opportunity, the President accommodated them and ended up staying at the Chapelle Sainte Bernadette long after he delivered his speech.

The message, delivered in folksy Filipino, sought to inspire the Filipino community here with stories of what he called “transformation” now happening in their home country since he took office four years ago.

Government cares

He described a government that now “cares” for its people by using public funds properly and that agencies were working for their benefit.

Judging by the crowd reaction, the affair had the feel of a celebrity stopping by for a meet-and-greet, not a politician about to deliver an obligatory speech and was himself mired in controversies back home. People brought out their iPhones, iPads, and selfie sticks, competing for the best available view of Aquino, who was visiting Europe for the first time as President.

“There he is! There he is!” many of them shouted in Filipino, waving small Philippine flags with one hand, the other one pointing to the man forced to waddle along a corridor congested by well-wishers.

Thumbs-up

Outside, a French man driving a sedan got curious about the presence of so many Filipinos, many of them assembled across the chapel and beside the entrance.

“Why so many people?” he asked the Inquirer in broken English then gave a “thumbs-up” sign when told the President was here.

A Filipino woman said she had left work a hour early just to see Aquino. Those who managed to find seats inside the chapel considered themselves lucky, having been allowed to take pictures with their VIP guest.

Besides the serious stuff about how the Philippines had “improved” under his watch, Aquino entertained the crowd with jokes and sardonic remarks about the supposed excesses of his predecessor.

The President was supposed to get a breather Thursday night with a scheduled private tour of the Louvre museum.

Accustomed to criticisms

In his meeting with the Filipino community here, Aquino took the opportunity to unburden himself before his captive audience, saying he had grown accustomed to brickbats from critics.

At home, the President is under fire for flirting with the idea of a second term, a move that would require a constitutional amendment. Earlier this week, he said “nothing is impossible” and it could still be done with less than two years left before the next elections.

In the speech, he made it clear that he had only six years, saying “I will make the most out of every opportunity to deliver benefits to the greater number of Filipinos.”

“Some people are asking: Will the [reforms] still continue? Who will do that?” he said.

“Perhaps they’re asking the wrong question because it’s clear that we were able to do all this because we are all united, we persevered and we paddled toward the same direction.”

“Since that’s the case, all of us Filipinos would be the ones to continue what we have started. This is not dependent on one person or group alone.”

LRT agreements

The President left for a fellowship dinner about an hour later. Filipinos began filing out of the chapel, showing off their precious photos with the man who claims he brought back a government that cared for its people.

On Thursday, Aquino witnessed the ceremonial signing of agreements for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 at a business forum here.

One was a technical services agreement between the Light Rail Consortium and the French transport firm RATP Developpement for operation and maintenance of the Manila LRT 1 Cavite Extension Project.

Another was with French engineering firm Bouygues Publics Travoix, Alstom Transport for the “design and construction” of the LRT 1 Extension Project, which would provide eight more stations spanning 12 kilometers. - Inquirer 

 

 
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Friday, September 19, 2014

244 Philippine UN peacekeepers To arrive Manila, Withdrawn After defying order of Rebel Supporter UN Indian General

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A UN peacekeeper from the Philippines crosses back from Syria at the Quneitra Crossing between Syria and the Israeli Golan Heights,Thursday, March 7. (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)

Philippines begins withdrawing troops from Golan

 

Filipino ‘warrior peacekeepers’ an outsized global presence, but last month’s firefight with Syrian rebels led to decision to evacuate

 

The Philippine army has begun withdrawing its forces from the Golan Heights two weeks earlier than planned due to the escalating fighting on the Syrian side of the plateau

 

A military spokesman in Manila said 244 Filipino soldiers were evacuated in a UN aircraft, and are slated to arrive Friday in the country’s capital Manila, Israel Radio reports.

 

The remaining 100 soldiers will be evacuated in a week.

 

Last month, Philippine soldiers found themselves surrounded and battling Syrian rebels with ties to Al Qaeda after the rebel group had demanded their surrender.

 

The Philippine government had decided before the incident not to extend the forces’ stay in the Golan beyond next month.

 

The Philippine contingent served five years in the 1,200-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan, which has recently relocated to Mount Bental, behind the Israeli defensive line, to avoid further clashes with Syrian armed groups.

 

An outsized global presence


After nearly two decades on the frontlines against Muslim insurgents in the Philippines’ violence-plagued south, Army Captain Teodoro Nicor is looking forward to guarding a war zone abroad.

 

Nicor is training with hundreds of other battle-hardened troops to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission overseas, continuing a tradition that began more than 50 years ago when Filipino soldiers went to the Congo.

 

“We are very excited,” said Nicor, 39. “There is fear, but we have prepared really well for this.”

 

The Philippines participation in the UN’s blue helmet brigades came under the spotlight last month when 75 soldiers fended off an attack by Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.

 

While the incident made world headlines and prompted the UN to withdraw its peacekeeping force from the Syrian side of the territory, training for Nicor and his colleagues is very much focused on charm offensives.

 

At a military base dedicated solely to UN peacekeeping training, Nicor last week led a seven-vehicle convoy through a mock war zone to deliver supplies when they were stopped by “civilians” desperate for food.

 

With the rifle slung on his back pointed to the ground, he sought out the group’s leader and offered a handshake while his men in blue helmets and bulletproof vests stood on guard behind him.

 

“My friend, good morning,” a smiling Nicor said.

 

Angry, repeated demands for food ensued, with Nicor slowly defusing the situation through calm negotiations while maintaining a friendly demeanor.

 

Warrior peacekeepers


Colonel Roberto Ancan, commander of the training camp, said Filipinos brought a unique mix to the UN’s peacekeeping missions with their internationally renowned friendliness and battlefield experience.

 

“We wave, we smile, we shake hands, we greet good morning, good afternoon and good evening and in the local language as well,” said Ancan, himself a former peacekeeper in Timor Leste.

 

He said the Filipinos had a term for themselves that reflected their unique qualities: “warrior peacekeepers.”

 

The warrior element was on full display in the Golan Heights stand-off, after the rebels surrounded the Filipinos at their outposts and demanded their weapons.

 

The rebels had just launched a similar assault against 45 Fijian peacekeepers, who surrendered and were taken hostage.

 

In what proved to be a highly controversial move, the Filipinos defied an order from their UN commander, an Indian, to also surrender, and eventually escaped after four days. The Fijians were released after two weeks.

 

The Philippines lodged a formal complaint against the UN commander for issuing the surrender order, as President Benigno Aquino heaped praise on his troops.

 

“Every Filipino soldier there, from the privates to the colonel, showed cleverness and expertise,” Aquino said.

 

The trainees at the base, in the farming community of Capas about three hours’ drive from Manila, said they were not surprised that their compatriots did not surrender.

 

“Our guns are like our wives, we don’t give them up,” Nicor said.

 

Battle hardened


Nicor speaks with the experience of having spent most of his career in the southern Philippines, where Muslim rebels and communist guerrillas have been waging two of Asia’s longest insurgencies.

 

He is the leader of a battalion whose members were selected to join the UN efforts because of their success battling the Muslim rebels, who have been fighting since the 1970s for an independent homeland.

 

Nicor and the other 330 soldiers in training were due to replace the Golan Heights crew next month.

 

However Aquino decided to end the Philippine presence in the Golan, contested by Syria and Israel, due to the rising security threats.

 

The troops were part of the UN force monitoring a 1974 ceasefire in the Golan Heights, where Israel captured 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) in 1967.

 

More than 100 troops serving with a peacekeeping force in Liberia were also recently pulled out because of fears they may contract Ebola.

 

This will leave only about 150 Filipino troops wearing the UN’s blue helmets in Haiti, plus a handful of observers in the Ivory Coast, India and Pakistan.

 

Before Aquino decided to withdraw from the Golan Heights and Liberia, the Philippines had more than 600 troops abroad with the UN, making it one of Asia’s biggest contributors to the global peacekeeping missions.

 

However the government and military chiefs insist the commitment to the UN is as strong as ever, and Filipinos will continue to be deployed overseas for many years to come.

 

“The Philippines remains committed to peacekeeping engagements because we are determined to promote international security and stability,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala said.

 

While Nicor and the other training troops will not go to the Golan, they will remain on standby for the next UN appeal to guard a global hotspot, according to Ancan, their commander.

 

Lucrative missions


The soldiers themselves are keen to head overseas, as joining a UN peacekeeping mission can be lucrative and often lead to promotions on return.

 

The Philippines has one of Asia’s poorest and most ill-equipped militaries, with a soldier’s salary ranging from just 16,000 pesos ($364) to 60,000 pesos ($1,365) a month.

 

Peacekeepers get a $900 (39,500-peso) monthly allowance from the UN, on top of their regular salary.

 

One of the trainees at Capas, Corporal Mynald Cartaciano, 33, said he wanted to build a house for his wife and two babies.

 

“I want to save up for my family, for my children,” he said. - The Times of Israel

 

 
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