CHINA MAY FUND FILIPINO REBELS - Rafael Alunan III

A national security observeer had warned that China may not only increase its presence near the disputed territories such as Pagasa Island (picture) claimed by the Philippines but can also fund local armed groups. Former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III warned against China's feared retaliation through economic and environmental sanctions after Manila's memorial is submitted to the arbitral tribunal on March 30. Alunan said that China can sabotage communication lines and even the electrical grid, but it can also support armed groups in the country. "Something that wasn't discussed too much but still falls within the realm of the possible is that instead of walloping us in the West Philippine Sea and driving home their point, they could just fund our local rebels and make trouble," Alunan, a co-convenor of the West Philippine Sea Coalition, said in an interview with ANC on Tuesday. Alunan said that China has threatened to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines in opposition to the arbitration case pending before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in the Hague, Netherlands. He said the warning was made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Philippine envoys in Beijing. Further analysis of intelligence data and Chinese capabilities, meanwhile, also reveals likely scenarios Alunan had called "irregular warfare."

ALSO: Gov't urged to prepare for 'worst' in sea row with China

A national security observer urged the government to prepare for China's possible "punitive action" against the Philippines as it pursues a United Nations arbitration on the South China Sea dispute. Rafael Alunan III, former Interior Secretary under the Ramos administration, said in a statement shared with Philstar.com that the government should work on a strategy in case the Asian giant cuts off its economic ties from the country and sabotages key infrastructure. "China has threatened sanctions in case we file our memorial on March 31... The worst case scenario would be the escalation of crippling economic sanctions," Alunan said. The Aquino administration had said it has exhausted all peaceful means to settle the dispute, with the arbitration as a final resort. China has long opposed the case filed by the Philippines pending before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands. Beijing has also rejected and returned Manila's Notification and Statement of Claim on the case. Besides economic penalties, Manila may potentially have to deal with the Chinese's intensified access in the contested maritime region including reefs and shoals currently controlled by the Philippines, he said. Alunan also warned of a potential "irregular warfare" such as the sabotage of the Philippines' most vulnerable sides--command and control systems, information structures and critical infrastructures such as telecommunications and even water.

ALSO: China tries to block Phl supply ship

Two Chinese ships tried yesterday to stop a Philippine civilian vessel from delivering supplies and provisions to a small Filipino garrison stationed on a grounded ship on Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in Palawan. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) condemned the Chinese harassment, which came as Manila prepares to submit today to the United Nations arbitral tribunal its memorial or written argument on its position on the conflict with China over some islets and shoals in the West Philippine Sea. The crew of the Chinese vessels with bow numbers 1127 and 3402 demanded to know the identity of the Philippine vessel and asked that it leave the area. “The Chinese asked us to leave. They said ‘this is Chinese territory.’ They kept on repeating the message and even honked their horns,” STAR reporter Jaime Laude, who was on the Philippine ship, said in a phone interview. Laude said it was around noon when they spotted the Chinese ships in the area. More than a dozen other members of media were on the Philippine vessel. Laude said their ship was about 3.5 nautical miles from the grounded BRP Sierra Madre when the Chinese vessels made blocking maneuvers. The Sierra Madre is a former World War II landing ship deliberately grounded on the shoal to serve as garrison for a handful of Marines guarding Ayungin Shoal. Vessel 3402 positioned itself about 200 yards from the Philippine vessel and at one point even came as close as 70 yards. Laude said it took more than an hour before they were able to shake off the Chinese ships. Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the Philippine ship managed to deliver vital supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre at around 3 p.m. “Those on board the civilian vessel were able to re-supply and re-provision and rotate troops on board the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal,” Zagala said. “The media was invited to observe for transparency,” he added. Zagala said a civilian ship was sent to the area to prevent a more serious confrontation.

ALSO: Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely

A Malaysian domestic plane packed with local football players narrowly averted another air tragedy when one of its engines caught fire while airborne. The Star Online reported Wednesday that a Malindo Air flight had to turn back because the ATR 72-600 plane’s turboprop engine caught fire. Fortunately, other reports said, the pilot acted fast and switched off the burning engine. The plane was boarded mostly of members of the Terengganu football team who were returning home after winning a match. According to The Star Online, “Terengganu midfielder Faiz Subri posted a picture of the burning engine and said the plane turned back and landed in Subang Airport” in Selangor on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The report said all passengers on the 7.30 a.m. flight were safe.

ALSO: Time running out for Malaysian jet’s black boxes

Perth, Australia – Search crews using high-tech underwater equipment will likely have as little as five days to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s so-called black boxes before the task becomes immensely more difficult, as the operation’s focus shifted to an area of the southern Indian Ocean the size of Poland. With about 30 days of total battery life, the black box “pinger” – which emits sound pulses to reveal its location – will fall silent on April 7, or thereabouts. Once that happens, investigators will have to begin an exhaustive trawl of the remote and largely unmapped ocean floor, an operation that could take years. Australia’s maritime safety authority on Friday effectively put its money on new analysis of radar data concerning Flight 370’s journey between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. The new information, requested by Malaysia and supplied by international investigators, suggested the plane didn’t travel as far as previously thought. But even if the multinational squadron of military and civil aircraft find debris from Flight 370, which took off March 8 from Kuala Lumpur, bobbing on the ocean surface, finding the black box before it runs out of battery life is a tough ask. Australian authorities were waiting Friday for the arrival of an Australian defense vessel in Perth, Western Australia, which would ferry equipment capable of detecting the black box to the new search zone, some 700 miles northeast of the previous focus area. Once the Australian ship leaves port, the vessel would be several days’ steaming before it would be in position to deploy that equipment underwater. READ MORE

ALSO: KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean

SEARCH OVER? Journalists gather in front of a Japanese P-3 Orion at an Australian air base near Perth on Monday as ships and planes swarmed over the southern Indian Ocean looking for the missing Malaysian plane. AFP: The missing Malaysia Airlines plane crashed into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean, the nation’s prime minister said Monday night, citing a new analysis of satellite data. The statement was the first major step toward resolving a 2-week-old mystery that has consumed the world. But with the location of Flight 370 itself still unknown—most likely somewhere at the bottom of the sea—profound questions remain about what brought down the aircraft and why. Dressed in a black suit, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the news in a brief statement to reporters late Monday night, saying the information was based on an unprecedented analysis of satellite data. He said the data indicated that the Boeing 777, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew, flew “to a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.” “It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

ALSO: Ukraine and the Philippines

The Philippines and Ukraine are half a world away but the current trouble there is sure to spill over into us in the form of reduced shipments of wheat, which would impact on the cost of bread. A global breadbasket, Ukraine is the world’s third largest grain exporter and one of the ten most attractive agricultural lands in the region. Our bilateral trade amounts to $20 million, consisting of imports of wheat, rye, steel, and chemical fertilizers, while our exports consist of coloring materials, machinery for metal stamping, forging, bending, cutting, whey, and ammonia, among others. Crimea, Ukraine’s southernmost area, is now occupied by Russian troops because President Vladimir Putin wants to protect the Black Sea fleet from falling into the hands of Ukraine nationalists and to defend the 60 to 90 percent Russian-speaking residents there. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine, which led to tensions between Russia and Ukraine. There are less than 100 Pinoys in Ukraine, mostly domestic helpers. Putin, a top Russian spy before becoming President, gave the world what he had in his mind with his oft-repeated quotes: “The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.” From that vantage point, we can surmise that Putin would want to re-establish Russian hegemony within the space of the former Soviet Union and Ukraine is the biggest prize he’s after. The occupation of the Crimea is the logical first step in that direction.


'China may fund Filipino rebels'  - Rafael Alunan III

READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:


A national security observeer had warned that China may not only increase its presence near the disputed territories such as Pagasa Island (picture) claimed by the Philippines but can also fund local armed groups. AP/Bullit Marquez, Allen Qiao

MANILA, MARCH 31, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Camille Diola -  Former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III warned against China's feared retaliation through economic and environmental sanctions after Manila's memorial is submitted to the arbitral tribunal on March 30.

Alunan said that China can sabotage communication lines and even the electrical grid, but it can also support armed groups in the country.

"Something that wasn't discussed too much but still falls within the realm of the possible is that instead of walloping us in the West Philippine Sea and driving home their point, they could just fund our local rebels and make trouble," Alunan, a co-convenor of the West Philippine Sea Coalition, said in an interview with ANC on Tuesday.

Alunan said that China has threatened to impose economic sanctions on the Philippines in opposition to the arbitration case pending before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in the Hague, Netherlands.

He said the warning was made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Philippine envoys in Beijing.

Further analysis of intelligence data and Chinese capabilities, meanwhile, also reveals likely scenarios Alunan had called "irregular warfare."

"They could expand the sanctions by stopping the flow of raw materials needed by our local manufacturers and exporters," Alunan said.

He also warned that the Asian giant may disrupt human and ecological security by "remotely" shutting down the electrical grid, 40 percent of which is controlled by a Chinese state-owned company.

"I was taken aback by that. And then there is also a possibility that they can introduce viruses to our communication lines that can either capture data or corrupt data," Alunan said.

In a message shared with Philstar.com, Alunan urged government officials, including those in posts not related to defense, to answer 10 questions on national security in anticipation of China's possible actions.

ABOUT THE WRITER:


Background* Mr. Rafael Moreno Alunan, III serves as the President of the First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corp. Mr. Alunan also serves as the President of Kilosbayan. He served in the cabinets of President Fidel Ramos and President Corazon Aquino as Secretary of the Interior and Local Government and Secretary of Tourism, respectively. He serves as a Non-Executive Director of Manila North Tollways Corporation. He has been an Independent Director of Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. since 2007. He serves as a Director of Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc., Sun Life Financial Plans, Inc., Sun Life Balanced Fund, Inc. and the Management Association of the Philippines. He holds a double degree in Business Administration and History-Political Science from the De La Salle University and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and MBA from Ateneo De Manila University.

Posts Tagged ‘former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III’ Philippines: Former Interior Secretary Warns of Possible Reactions By China to The Philippines’ South China Sea Arbitration Effort March 25, 2014 . ABS-CBNnews.com


Some members of the West Philippine Sea Coalition at an event last year: (L to R) Rene Saguisag, Risa Hontiveros, Nick Sotelo, Rafael Alunan III, and Roilo Golez.

MANILA – Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan reveals China had warned the Philippines of consequences once it files its memorial with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or ITLOS on March 30.

Alunan, a co-convenor of the West Philippine Sea Coalition, said the warning was communicated by China’s foreign ministry to the Philippines’ envoy in China. He said he got the information from a top government official.

Alunan said based on intelligence analysis, the consequences could range from expanded sanctions to outright sabotage.

He said part of the sanctions imposed by China was a ban on the import of Philippine bananas to China due to a rise in tensions over Scarborough Shoal.

“In the realm of what is possible, there were two things that they concentrated on in their analysis. One is expanded sanctions…In this particular case, they could expand the sanctions by stopping the flow of raw materials needed by our local manufacturers and exporters. The second possible action that China might take against us could be in the form of sabotage. As you know, people are concerned by the fact that a Chinese state-owned company controls our grid. They have 40% in terms of investment but they have operational and maintenance control,” he said.

“I was told the grid could be shut down remotely. I was taken aback by that. And then there is also a possibility that they can introduce viruses to our communication lines that can either capture data or corrupt data. The third aspect…instead of walloping us in the West Philippine Sea, they can just fund our local rebels and make trouble.”

But Alunan and former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez both agree the arbitration case is the best approach to the territorial dispute.

They said an ITLOS ruling in favor of the Philippines would give the country the legal backing and the moral high ground and prove that China is the interloper.

“By being over-assertive, China is triggering an alliance against itself,” Golez said.

Alunan added: “If we play our cards right in the United Nations, the General Assembly itself could issue a statement detrimental to China.

“The best way to stand up to a bully is to stand united.”

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5-million-sq-km resource-rich waters situated in the south of China and surrounding several Southeast Asian nations. Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim parts of the sea.

Recently, China told the Philippines to abandon the disputed Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea after Manila said it planned to challenge a Chinese naval blockade of the area by sending supplies to its troops stationed there.

“The Chinese government’s attitude on maintaining the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. We will never tolerate the Philippines illegal occupation of Ren’ai reef,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

“China is on high alert for the Philippines possibly taking more provocative acts in the South China Sea. The Philippines must accept responsibility for the consequences of what will happen,” he claimed.

The Philippines has urged regional grouping the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to conclude a binding code of conduct (CoC) with China to avoid accidents and miscalculations in the disputed waters, but China has been insisting direct dialogues with each claimant instead of group discussion.

The Philippines has taken its dispute with China to arbitration under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea but China is refusing to participate. With Reuters

Gov't urged to prepare for 'worst' in sea row with China By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated February 19, 2014 - 12:55pm 29 6740 googleplus2 3


An aerial shot of Pag-Asa Island, part of the disputed Spratlys Group, in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines claims the islands as part of its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

MANILA, Philippines — A national security observer urged the government to prepare for China's possible "punitive action" against the Philippines as it pursues a United Nations arbitration on the South China Sea dispute.

Rafael Alunan III, former Interior Secretary under the Ramos administration, said in a statement shared with Philstar.com that the government should work on a strategy in case the Asian giant cuts off its economic ties from the country and sabotages key infrastructure.

"China has threatened sanctions in case we file our memorial on March 31... The worst case scenario would be the escalation of crippling economic sanctions," Alunan said.

The Aquino administration had said it has exhausted all peaceful means to settle the dispute, with the arbitration as a final resort.

China has long opposed the case filed by the Philippines pending before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands. Beijing has also rejected and returned Manila's Notification and Statement of Claim on the case.

Besides economic penalties, Manila may potentially have to deal with the Chinese's intensified access in the contested maritime region including reefs and shoals currently controlled by the Philippines, he said.

Alunan also warned of a potential "irregular warfare" such as the sabotage of the Philippines' most vulnerable sides--command and control systems, information structures and critical infrastructures such as telecommunications and even water.

"Are we ready as we can be in the diplomatic, critical infrastructure, trade, tourism, information, military and internal security sectors? Do we have fallback plans all set to go between the government and the private sector, and with allied nations?" Alunan asked.

"What countermeasures have been put in place to soften the impact and 'reciprocate'?" he continued.

Read past articles on the sea row: Disputed Seas - Philstar Special Site

Alunan said government agencies along with the police force and the military should consider drafting a national security plan in the face of China's "growing long-term threat to global security."

"Defending ourselves rests primarily on our own will and skill to stitch and viable national security plan and strategies," Alunan, a Harvard graduate, said.

Maritime scenarios

Chinese coast guard vessels have been spotted in Philippine-claimed areas in the disputed sea in the past years, forcing Manila to issue diplomatic protests to Beijing amid the impending arbitral proceedings.

Alunan, a member of Former Senior Government Officials political group, said that besides coast guard vessels, China has been using its "fishing fleets" in the disputed waters as the Philippines does not have counterpart vessels.

"If we don't have the appropriate defenses there, China would have won the war it is already waging without firing a shot," he said.

The former government official pictured how Chinese forces may position themselves in the West Philippine Sea as a confrontation bait for Manila if Beijing would step up its opposition to the international arbitration.

The Philippines may be framed by China through a "false flag operation" if it does not fall for the bait.

"We must anticipate intensifying harassment from China's maritime enforcement vessels ... We should have 14/7 surveillance of the West Philippine Sea like CCTV in the sky that can see at night to capture in film what [China] is doing and would have done to show to the world," Alunan said.

Modernization of the military similarly an urgent resolution to boost maritime defense, he said.

US' role

Alunan said that the country's Mutual Defense Treaty with the US does not cover security protocols to deal with Chinese's fishing vessels' presence within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines should then set up its resources in view of China's future moves. Alunan suggested that unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs can be rented from the US or Israel to monitor the coastal territory.

The country, moreover, should not fully depend on the US and assume that it will take its allies side.

"If our allies see that we are prepared to defend ourselves by all justifiable means necessary, then they will help us all the way," Alunan explained.

American President Barack Obama had condemned Chinese "bullying" in the region but maintained that the US is neutral on the sea row.

China tries to block Phl supply ship By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 30, 2014 - 12:00am 12 237 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Two Chinese ships tried yesterday to stop a Philippine civilian vessel from delivering supplies and provisions to a small Filipino garrison stationed on a grounded ship on Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in Palawan.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) condemned the Chinese harassment, which came as Manila prepares to submit today to the United Nations arbitral tribunal its memorial or written argument on its position on the conflict with China over some islets and shoals in the West Philippine Sea.

The crew of the Chinese vessels with bow numbers 1127 and 3402 demanded to know the identity of the Philippine vessel and asked that it leave the area.

“The Chinese asked us to leave. They said ‘this is Chinese territory.’ They kept on repeating the message and even honked their horns,” STAR reporter Jaime Laude, who was on the Philippine ship, said in a phone interview.

Laude said it was around noon when they spotted the Chinese ships in the area. More than a dozen other members of media were on the Philippine vessel.

Laude said their ship was about 3.5 nautical miles from the grounded BRP Sierra Madre when the Chinese vessels made blocking maneuvers. The Sierra Madre is a former World War II landing ship deliberately grounded on the shoal to serve as garrison for a handful of Marines guarding Ayungin Shoal.

Vessel 3402 positioned itself about 200 yards from the Philippine vessel and at one point even came as close as 70 yards.

Laude said it took more than an hour before they were able to shake off the Chinese ships.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the Philippine ship managed to deliver vital supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre at around 3 p.m.

“Those on board the civilian vessel were able to re-supply and re-provision and rotate troops on board the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal,” Zagala said.

“The media was invited to observe for transparency,” he added.

Zagala said a civilian ship was sent to the area to prevent a more serious confrontation.

This was the second time Chinese ships had prevented Philippine vessels from bringing supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre.

The first case, which took place early this month, prompted the Philippines to airdrop supplies on the Ayungin garrison.

The Philippines protested China’s blockade and maintained that it has jurisdiction over the area.

China, however, insisted that it has sovereignty over the shoal even if it is located within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Laude said they observed some helicopters hovering over their ship Friday night. He said the helicopters were believed to have come from nearby Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, which is now occupied by China.

Harassment

The DFA called yesterday’s incident another case of harassment by China.

“We demand that China cease taking actions that are a threat to our security,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said on his Twitter account.

Jose maintained that Ayungin Shoal is part of “the Philippines’ continental shelf and therefore has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it.”

The Philippines sought UN arbitration in January 2013 to settle the territorial dispute with China, but Beijing – in a note verbale to Manila the following month – rejected Manila’s initiative.

The right thing to do

Malacañang said the filing of memorial today is the right thing to do despite lack of cooperation from Beijing.

“In all of this, the Philippines will always do what is right. The government will always do what is right for our country and for our countrymen,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over radio dzRB.

She said the country draws inspiration from messages of support from the international community.

Other claimant-countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were allegedly being cowed by China from following the actions taken by the Philippines.

She also said the Philippines is prepared for any possible sanction from China.

“I think in all of this, the Philippines, really, will do what is right. China can do what it prefers to do on this matter.”

The Philippines is required to submit the written pleading through e-mails and courier services, which should come with soft copies in storage devices. – With Helen Flores, Aurea Calica

FROM THE INQUIRER

Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely INQUIRER.et 1:43 pm | Wednesday, March 26th, 2014


Photo by The Star-ANN-Terengganu midfielder Faiz Subri posted a picture of the burning engine

MANILA, Philippines – A Malaysian domestic plane packed with local football players narrowly averted another air tragedy when one of its engines caught fire while airborne.

The Star Online reported Wednesday that a Malindo Air flight had to turn back because the ATR 72-600 plane’s turboprop engine caught fire.

Fortunately, other reports said, the pilot acted fast and switched off the burning engine.

The plane was boarded mostly of members of the Terengganu football team who were returning home after winning a match.

According to The Star Online, “Terengganu midfielder Faiz Subri posted a picture of the burning engine and said the plane turned back and landed in Subang Airport” in Selangor on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

The report said all passengers on the 7.30 a.m. flight were safe.

Malaysia is still mourning over the crash of Malaysia Airlines 370 and the news about the pilot’s heroic effort to avoid another aviation accident was seen to provide a relief to its citizens.

The members of the football team were due to return to Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday after beating ATM FA 3-0 at the Selayang Stadium on Tuesday, The Star Online reported.

According to Terengganu FA staff, the players posted pictures of the incident on their social media pages.

According to a statement on the Terengganu FA’s website, the team took a replacement flight back to Kuala Terengganu at 10 a.m. The Star Online

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Time running out for Malaysian jet’s black boxes March 29, 2014 (updated)

Perth, Australia – Search crews using high-tech underwater equipment will likely have as little as five days to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s so-called black boxes before the task becomes immensely more difficult, as the operation’s focus shifted to an area of the southern Indian Ocean the size of Poland.

With about 30 days of total battery life, the black box “pinger” – which emits sound pulses to reveal its location – will fall silent on April 7, or thereabouts. Once that happens, investigators will have to begin an exhaustive trawl of the remote and largely unmapped ocean floor, an operation that could take years.

Australia’s maritime safety authority on Friday effectively put its money on new analysis of radar data concerning Flight 370’s journey between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. The new information, requested by Malaysia and supplied by international investigators, suggested the plane didn’t travel as far as previously thought.

But even if the multinational squadron of military and civil aircraft find debris from Flight 370, which took off March 8 from Kuala Lumpur, bobbing on the ocean surface, finding the black box before it runs out of battery life is a tough ask.

Australian authorities were waiting Friday for the arrival of an Australian defense vessel in Perth, Western Australia, which would ferry equipment capable of detecting the black box to the new search zone, some 700 miles northeast of the previous focus area. Once the Australian ship leaves port, the vessel would be several days’ steaming before it would be in position to deploy that equipment underwater.

The Towed Pinger Locator-25, or TPL-25, supplied by the US Navy is a sensitive hydrophone designed to detect sounds exactly like the pings emitted by an airplane’s black boxes, said Christopher Johnson, media relations manager at the US Naval Sea Systems Command.

According to Mr. Johnson, two US Navy staff and eight civilian contractors had been tasked with operating the system at sea. He cautioned, however, that the device had a limited range that could restrict its usefulness.

2 Years To Search

The TPL-25 is able to detect sounds only within a 1-mile radius, and since it has to be towed at only 3 nautical miles an hour – or knots – to work effectively, the locator is restricted to searching about 150 square miles of ocean a day, according to the US Navy.

The new search area cited by the maritime authority is around 123,000 square miles – a vast region that would likely take more than two years to search comprehensively using the TPL-25.

The ship that is supposed to ferry the system to the search zone, the ADV Ocean Shield, is an offshore support vessel. On Friday, it was en route to Perth from Sydney.

The new search zone is roughly 1,000 miles off the Australian coast. But it will still take ADV Ocean Shield nearly three days to reach the new site, meaning if the ship arrives in Perth on Saturday and left for the search zone early on Sunday, it would have only about five days in the search zone before the black box’s batteries are estimated to give out.

The Black Box

Meanwhile, US National Transportation Safety Board experts bared some key points about how the information from black boxes are retrieved, and what it can tell us:

— The black box, which is actually orange to aid visibility, consists a rectangular housing for electronics and a crash-hardened memory module that holds the data that investigators are looking for. Attached to the module is a pinger that sends out a signal to help locate the black box.

— While the battery that powers the pinger will run down after about one month, there’s no definitive shelf-life for the data itself. The black boxes of an Air France flight that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 were found two years later from a depth of more than 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), and technicians were able to recover most of the information.

— If the box has been submerged in the sea, technicians will keep it submerged in fresh water to wash away the corrosive salt. As water may seep into the recorder, it must be carefully dried for hours or even days using a vacuum oven to prevent memory chips from cracking. The electronics and memory are checked, and any necessary repairs made. Chips are scrutinized under a microscope; even if one is cracked, often the data on it will have jumped onto another chip.

— Data is downloaded onto computer. The flight data recorder carries 25 hours of information, including prior flights within that time-span, which can sometimes provide hints about the cause of a mechanical failure on a later flight. The voice recorder has two hours of audio, of the captain, first officer and a microphone in the cockpit area.

— The data from the flight recorder, which comes as vast streams of binary code, is converted into a useable, time-linked form about hundreds of parameters, like altitude, air speed, pitch and engine thrust, to plot what happened on the airplane. An initial assessment of the data is provided to investigators within 24 hours, but analysis will continue for weeks more.

— An initial briefing on the voice recording is given to investigators by phone. A panel of six to eight experts then makes a meticulous transcript of the recording, which can take up a week. For privacy and legal reasons, the recording never leaves the laboratory, but parts of the transcript text may be made public if the investigation is advanced enough to put it into context.

— Technicians use a sound library to help them interpret ambient sounds from the recording: Perhaps a doors opening, seats moving, an explosion or gunshot. The sound of the engine or gears can also help in analysis of the mechanics of the plane. (The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press)

KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean Agence France-Presse, Asia News Network, Associated Press 3:37 am | Tuesday, March 25th, 2014


Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks during the press conference for the missing Malaysia Airline, MH370 at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, March 24, 2014. Razak says new data show missing plane plunged into southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR—The missing Malaysia Airlines plane crashed into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean, the nation’s prime minister said Monday night, citing a new analysis of satellite data. The statement was the first major step toward resolving a 2-week-old mystery that has consumed the world.

But with the location of Flight 370 itself still unknown—most likely somewhere at the bottom of the sea—profound questions remain about what brought down the aircraft and why.


SEARCH OVER? Journalists gather in front of a Japanese P-3 Orion at an Australian air base near Perth on Monday as ships and planes swarmed over the southern Indian Ocean looking for the missing Malaysian plane. AFP

Dressed in a black suit, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the news in a brief statement to reporters late Monday night, saying the information was based on an unprecedented analysis of satellite data.

He said the data indicated that the Boeing 777, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew, flew “to a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.”

“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

He said that Inmarsat, the company that indicated the plane flew along northern and southern corridors, had managed to trace its flight path, using sophisticated technology.

“Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370’s flight path,” Najib said.

Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) had concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, he said.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” he said. “It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

Najib added that the families of those on board had been informed of the developments.

He said a news conference would be held on Tuesday with further details about the latest findings.

“In the meantime, we wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation,” Najib said.

‘No words to ease pain’

The airline, in a statement sent to families, said “we have to assume” the plane was lost.

“Our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time,” it said.

“We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain.”

The airline said the multinational search, which is scouring a stretch of the forbidding Indian Ocean to find any debris, would continue “as we seek answers to the questions which remain.”

Malaysia believes the plane was deliberately diverted by someone on board. But the absence of firm evidence has fueled intense speculation and conspiracy theories, and tormented the families of the missing.

Leading theories include a hijacking, pilot sabotage, or a sudden mid-air crisis that incapacitated the flight crew and left the plane to fly on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.

MH370 last made contact over the South China Sea halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam. For reasons unknown, it backtracked over the Malaysian peninsula and then flew on for hours.

The search swung deep into the Indian Ocean last week after initial satellite images depicted large floating objects there.

Hopes of a resolution to the mystery rose after a weekend in which an Australian aircraft spotted a wooden pallet, strapping and other debris, and French and Chinese satellite information indicated more floating objects.

Wooden pallets are most commonly used by ships but are also used in airplane cargo holds, and an official with Malaysia Airlines said on Sunday night that the flight was, in fact, carrying wooden pallets. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with company policy.

An Australian-led multinational air and sea search has been scouring the vast ocean and there were two separate sightings Wednesday of possible debris from the plane.

Crew members of an Australian P-3 Orion plane reported seeing two objects, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament.

Australian officials said they were different to pieces seen by a Chinese plane earlier in the day.

The Australian naval ship HMAS Success, equipped with a crane, was in the area, about 2,500 kilometers (1,562 miles) southwest of Perth, and will attempt to recover the objects.

Abbott cautioned that it was not known whether the objects came from the missing Boeing 777.

“Nevertheless we are hopeful that we can recover these objects soon and they will take us a step closer to resolving this tragic mystery,” he said..

Australia said a US Navy plane searching the area on Monday had been unable to locate the objects.

China has diverted its icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, toward the location where the debris was spotted. A flotilla of other Chinese ships is also steadily making its way south.

The ships will start to arrive in the area on Tuesday.

The Chinese aircraft that spotted the objects was one of two IL-76s searching early on Monday. Another eight aircraft, from New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Japan, were scheduled to make flights throughout the day to the search site off Perth.

Difficult conditions

Aircraft flying on Monday were focused on searching by sight, rather than radar, which can be tricky to use because of the high seas and wind in the area.

“It’s a lot of water to look for just perhaps a tiny object,” Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio before the Chinese report.

“Today we expect the weather to deteriorate and the forecast ahead is not that good, so it’s going to be a challenge, but we will stick at it,” he said.

On Tuesday, a cold front was expected to move through the search area from the west, bringing showers, more low cloud and less visibility.

Tropical Cyclone “Gillian,” which is farther to the north, will not impact the area.

Australia was also analyzing French radar images showing potential floating debris that were taken some 850 km north of the current search area.

Australia has used a US satellite image of two floating objects to frame its search area. A Chinese satellite has also spotted an object floating in the ocean there, estimated at 22 m long and 13 m wide.

It could not be determined easily from the blurred images whether the objects were the same as those detected by the Australian and Chinese search planes, but the Chinese photograph could depict a cluster of smaller objects, said a senior military officer from one of the 26 nations involved in the search.


Malaysia PM Najib Razak announced Monday night that Malaysia Airlines flight #MH370 ended in Indian Ocean INFOGRAPHICS BY STRAITS TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The wing of a Boeing 777-200ER is approximately 27 m long and 14 m wide at its base, according to estimates derived from publicly available scale drawings. Its fuselage is 63.7 m long by 6.2 m wide.

Hunt for ‘black box’

The US Navy has added to the sense of an approaching denouement, ordering a specialized device sent to the region to help find the “black box” flight and cockpit voice data—crucial in determining what happened to the plane.

The high-tech device can locate black boxes as deep as 20,000 feet (6,060 meters), the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement. The search area ranges from 3,000-4,000 meters deep.

The 30-day signal from the black box is due to fail in less than two weeks.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the search grew to 10 aircraft on Monday with the inclusion of two Chinese military aircraft joining Australian, US, and Japanese planes.

China has also dispatched seven ships, adding to British and Australian naval vessels involved.

If a crash is confirmed, recovering the black box will be even more difficult than the case of the Air France jet that went down in the Atlantic in 2009, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia.

“We have to remember that Air France 447 took two years to find and this is a more challenging region where the environment is much, much harsher. There are bigger waves and it’s windier,” he said.

As part of an investigation into the crash, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said police have interviewed more than 100 people, including families of both the pilot and co-pilot.

Malaysia Airlines said Monday that 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid was flying the Boeing 777 for the first time without a so-called “check co-pilot” looking over his shoulder.

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Ukraine and the Philippines by Floro M. Mercene March 13, 2014

MANILA -The Philippines and Ukraine are half a world away but the current trouble there is sure to spill over into us in the form of reduced shipments of wheat, which would impact on the cost of bread.

A global breadbasket, Ukraine is the world’s third largest grain exporter and one of the ten most attractive agricultural lands in the region.

Our bilateral trade amounts to $20 million, consisting of imports of wheat, rye, steel, and chemical fertilizers, while our exports consist of coloring materials, machinery for metal stamping, forging, bending, cutting, whey, and ammonia, among others.

Crimea, Ukraine’s southernmost area, is now occupied by Russian troops because President Vladimir Putin wants to protect the Black Sea fleet from falling into the hands of Ukraine nationalists and to defend the 60 to 90 percent Russian-speaking residents there.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine, which led to tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

There are less than 100 Pinoys in Ukraine, mostly domestic helpers.

During World War II, Crimea was the scene of several bloody battles. The Axis forces under the command of Nazi Germany suffered heavy casualties in the summer of 1941 as they tried to advance through the narrow Perekop linking Crimea to the Soviet mainland.

Once the Axis forces broke through, they occupied most of Crimea, with the exception of the city of Sevastopol, which held out from October, 1941, until July 4, 1942 when the Germans finally captured the city.

Now Russian agents are reportedly creating problems in other east and Ukraine cities such as Odessa, Kharkov, and Donetsk, which are buffer to Crimea.

Odessa, one of the third largest cities of Ukraine, sounds familiar to some of us because of a 1972 thriller by Frederick Forsyth, The Odessa File, an adventure story of a young German reporter attempting to discover the location of a former SS concentration-camp commander.

Analysts say Russia is unlikely to pull back its military forces in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, since the residents themselves prefer to be with their fellow Russians than their pro-Western neighbors to the North.

Ukraine is in the midst of a months-long political crisis sparked by ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, leaving behind a sprawling Palace, complete with zoo and formal gardens, while the population is starving and the economy is dying.

Obama and the 28-bloc European Union are set to decide on initial sanctions at an emergency meeting in Brussels.

But even with tough economic penalties, some regional analysts say it may already be too late to reverse course in Crimea, which is in Russian hands now and had always been on the verge of being in Russian hands anyway.

Crimea became part of Ukraine in 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula to the republic where he began his political career, a transfer that hardly mattered until the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 and Crimea ended up in an independent Ukraine.

Crimea’s port city of Sevastopol is also home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president, extended the fleet’s lease until 2042, but Russia fears that Ukraine’s temporary pro-Western government could evict it.

The situation in Crimea has drawn comparisons to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway territories of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Russia has continued to maintain a military presence in both, violating a cease-fire that ended its 2008 military conflict with Georgia and ignoring repeated condemnations from the US and Europe.

But Putin can’t be faulted for being adamant of letting go of the last barriers that separate his homeland to the encroaching Western forces.

Putin, a top Russian spy before becoming President, gave the world what he had in his mind with his oft-repeated quotes: “The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”

From that vantage point, we can surmise that Putin would want to re-establish Russian hegemony within the space of the former Soviet Union and Ukraine is the biggest prize he’s after.

The occupation of the Crimea is the logical first step in that direction.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE