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REUTERS: BALANCE OF POWER IN ASIA-PACIFIC IS SHIFTING - US AIR FORCE COMMANDER


JANUARY 20 -US Lieutenant General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, commander of the US 7th Air Force and Deputy Commander of the US Forces Korea, speaks in front of a US F-16 fighter jet during a press briefing on the flight by a US B-52 Stratofortress over South Korea at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on January 10, 2016. The US sent a heavy bomber over South Korea on January 10 in a show of force as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un insisted his country's latest nuclear test was carried out in self-defence. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE The balance of military power in the Asia-Pacific is shifting against the United States, as China and North Korea challenge the credibility of US security commitments and the Pentagon faces spending limits, according to a study released on Tuesday. Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which conducted the study for the US Department of Defense, were left “concerned” that President Barack Obama’s “rebalance” of US interests toward Asia might not be sufficient to secure US interests in the region. Congress required the Department of Defense to commission the report under the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. “Chinese and North Korean actions are routinely challenging the credibility of US security commitments, and at the current rate of US capability development, the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the United States,” the study said. Pentagon leaders, and supporters in Congress, say efforts to keep pace with China’s growing military might and other international security threats have been hampered by mandatory “sequestration” budget cuts imposed across the government in 2011 in an effort to address the massive US deficit. Congress passed a spending bill at the end of 2016 that addressed some of those concerns, but has not come up with a long-term solution. The report makes four recommendations. READ MORE...

ALSO: DND forges P2.68-B deal for air surveillance radars


JANUARY 25 -The Philippines is under pressure to strengthen its external defense capabilities amid China's muscle flexing and aggressive expansion in the region. AFP/Released, file
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) and an Israeli firm are close to forging a deal for the supply of three air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion to boost the Philippines’ territorial defense capabilities.
The Philippine government and Israeli company Elta System Ltd. could sign a contract for the radars anytime, DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR over the weekend. Manalo said a notice of award was issued to Elta early this month. The issuance of the notice of award is an important step in the procurement process as it leads to the actual implementation of the project. “The signing will be done anytime,” Manalo said when asked for the status of the air surveillance radars project. “The radars will enhance the capabilities of the Air Force in terms of maritime domain awareness,” he added. Manalo said the radars may be delivered next year. Last year, The STAR reported that the Philippines would buy three air search radars from Israel to enhance its monitoring in the South China Sea, where more than $5 trillion worth of trade passes through every year. READ MORE...

ALSO: US forces to continue flying, sailing in South China Sea


JANUARY 24 -Moscow – US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has stated that Beijing is taking steps which will lead to international isolation amid ongoing tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
The comment by the Pentagon top official was made on Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Carter offered that the US is not seeking an excuse for a clash with China, but noted that the American military will keep operating in the region. “I am not one of those people who believe that conflict between China and the US is inevitable. It is certainly not desirable and I don’t think it is likely,” he said, adding that American forces, “will fly, sail and operate whatever international law permits in the South China Sea.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Naval base on Palawan’s Oyster Bay being developed
[Close to Spratlys --Located on the edge of the primary forest reservation facing the South China Sea, the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) facility on Oyster Bay is close to the islands and reefs that the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, China and Taiwan are disputing.]


JANUARY 18 -Oyster Bay Palawan- Philippine Navy Vessels are scattered around the Oyster Bay and Ulugan Bay fronting the West Philippine sea, and is being deveopled as a “mini Subic” where the country’s two former U.S. Coast Guard cutters would be based. Oyster Bay is only 160 km (100 miles) from the disputed Spratly islands, where China has been reclaiming a reef known as Johnson South Reef, and building what appears to be an airstrip on it. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ 
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—If there are efforts to develop a new military base in Palawan that can host US troops, no confirmation is coming from local military and civilian officials here. But the development of an existing naval facility located on Oyster Bay, acknowledged to be the most suitable to host US troops, is quietly going on, aimed at what Philippine Navy officials have described as creating a “mini Subic” in Palawan. Subic is a former US naval base in Zambales province. It was shuttered together with Clark Air Base in Pampanga province in 1992 after the Senate voted to terminate the US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement.
Close to Spratlys Located on the edge of the primary forest reservation facing the South China Sea, the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) facility on Oyster Bay is close to the islands and reefs that the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, China and Taiwan are disputing.Previously accessible only by sea from the pier of its local host community, Puerto Princesa’s northern village of Macarascas, Oyster Bay will soon be linked to the urban center by a highway now under construction.
Work on the 12-kilometer access road is being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for Navforwest. “The purpose of this road is for easy access of our troops from Oyster Bay to Puerto Princesa, transporting materials for construction of new barracks for our troops and accessibility of Navy ships,” Lt. Ariesh Climacosa, spokesperson for Navforwest, told the Inquirer. The road is expected to be completed in October. By then, the base would be less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Princesa.Some local officials, however, have complained of the “haste” by which the road project was started. Community Environment and Natural Resources (Cenro) officer Emer Garraez said the project proponent had been cited for bypassing the agency in seeking permits. He explained that the project required the clearing of primary forest vegetation to make way for the road.
“They started it without a tree-cutting permit,” Garraez said. The project, however, received endorsement and approval of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) when the matter was taken up late last year.
Waiting for Americans In the fishing village of Macarascas, the present jump-off point to Oyster Bay and host of the main headquarters of the Western Command’s naval arm, the residents are waiting for the arrival of the Americans. “There used to be opposition to the naval base here, but now the people are used to the presence of the military,” said Sebastian Labrador, barangay captain of Macarascas. The move to develop the Oyster Bay naval base into a modern naval facility started in 2014. The base was the Philippine Navy’s sole shipyard facing the South China Sea, but it was rundown and starting to surrender to the elements. Nestled among old-growth mangrove forests and limestone cliffs on the western flank of Palawan’s central region, Oyster Bay is the Philippine Navy’s staging point to the Kalayaan Islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago. READ MORE...

ALSO: US fast-attack nuke sub arrives in Subic


JANAURY 13 -INCREASED US PRESENCE USS Topeka (SSN-754), a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, is docked at the Alava Pier of Subic port for a three-day port stop. The Supreme Court declaration that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and the Philippines will allow US forces to use Philippine military facilities, including the former US Subic Naval Base in Zambales province and Clark Air Base in Pampanga province. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—An American submarine arrived at Subic Bay Tuesday, hours before the Supreme Court ruling upholding the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States.
Carrying a crew of 160 sailors, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) docked at the Alava Pier at 10 a.m. for the Philippine stage of its Indo-Asia-Pacific deployment routine, according to the US Embassy in Manila. The submarine was welcomed by a marching band composed of local students.The Topeka will conduct a multitude of missions and maintain proficiency of the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet,¯ according to the US Embassy. The US Navy continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Philippines,¯ said Cmdr. David P. Lammers, commanding officer of the submarine. “Through port visits such as this one, we strengthen our ties and foster valuable cultural exchange. The more we interact, the better we will understand one another and the stronger our alliance will become. I appreciate the efforts that make us feel so welcome when we visit Subic Bay,” Lammers added. He said Filipino-American sailors aboard the submarine would also have an opportunity to connect with their heritage.¯ Having moved from the Philippines and raised in California from the age of 3, I never really had a chance to experience true Filipino culture outside of my own family, Machinist Mate 1st Class Juan Paulo Reyes said in the statement. For many crew members, this is their first Philippine visit. Measuring more than 91 meters long and weighing more than 6,000 tons, Topeka is a marvel of modern engineering, capable of operating at depths greater than 243 meters at speeds up to 46 kilometers per hour, according to the US Embassy. READ MORE...

ALSO: Many Filipinos relieved by U.S. high court’s move on immigration


JANUARY 21 -Community leaders and Filipino consular officials preparing for the roll out of the Deferred Action for Chilidhood Arrivals polic. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO
NEW YORK CITY — Tens of thousands of Filipinos across the United States were among immigrants reinvigorated by recent move of the U.S. Supreme Court to review President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The highest court agreed last Tuesday, January 19, to hear whether it is within Obama’s presidential powers and constitutional authority to change immigration policy without going through the Congress. “I’m happy that there’s still hope,” said V. Sarmiento, a Filipino father of two American-born children from Long Island, New York. “Maybe our long wait to get legal status would soon be over.”
Obama executive orders In November 2014, Obama announced a handful of executive orders that could shield as many as 5 million immigrants from deportation and allow them to get a work permit. The orders were put on hold when a federal judge in Texas, and 25 other states, stopped them from taking effect. But if the Supreme Court gives a favorable decision for the president, his immigration program would immediately take effect, changing the lives of eligible Filipino families and other immigrants. “My wife and I pray every day for a positive outcome,” Sarmiento, 51, said on the telephone. “We’re optimistic, of course.” The decision will come down in June — right in the middle of the presidential election campaigns where immigration will be one of the key issues for both Democratic and Republican candidates. There are two significant policies under the Obama’s executive order: First, it would halt deportations and offer work permits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).
DACA expansion Second, it would expand his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative in 2012, which would provide the same protections and work benefits to some undocumented immigrants brought to the country before the age of 16. The expansion of the program would result in a greater number of eligible individuals. And while both DAPA and DACA would provide undocumented immigrants a temporary protection against removal from the country and allow them to work, neither serves as a path to a permanent resident (green card holder) status and U.S. citizenship. The policy on permanent residency and citizenship requires congressional approval. How many Filipinos are eligible According to a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, there are 45,000 potentially eligible Filipinos for the DACA and DAPA programs nationwide. While reports show that a significant number of these eligible Filipinos have been hesitant to apply for DACA since it started four years ago, fearing potential risks and stigma in the community, advocates for immigrants reiterate the benefits of the DACA and DAPA programs. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Balance of power in Asia-Pacific shifting


US Lieutenant General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, commander of the US 7th Air Force and Deputy Commander of the US Forces Korea, speaks in front of a US F-16 fighter jet during a press briefing on the flight by a US B-52 Stratofortress over South Korea at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on January 10, 2016. The US sent a heavy bomber over South Korea on January 10 in a show of force as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un insisted his country's latest nuclear test was carried out in self-defence. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE

WASHINGTON, JANUARY 25, 2016 (MANILA BULLETIN)  by Reuters January 20, 2016 – The balance of military power in the Asia-Pacific is shifting against the United States, as China and North Korea challenge the credibility of US security commitments and the Pentagon faces spending limits, according to a study released on Tuesday.

Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which conducted the study for the US Department of Defense, were left “concerned” that President Barack Obama’s “rebalance” of US interests toward Asia might not be sufficient to secure US interests in the region.

Congress required the Department of Defense to commission the report under the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

“Chinese and North Korean actions are routinely challenging the credibility of US security commitments, and at the current rate of US capability development, the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the United States,” the study said.

Pentagon leaders, and supporters in Congress, say efforts to keep pace with China’s growing military might and other international security threats have been hampered by mandatory “sequestration” budget cuts imposed across the government in 2011 in an effort to address the massive US deficit.

Congress passed a spending bill at the end of 2016 that addressed some of those concerns, but has not come up with a long-term solution.

The report makes four recommendations.

READ MORE...

The first is that the White House should develop a single rebalance strategy, after finding confusion throughout the government. Among other things, the report said the administration should increase its outreach to Congress and coordinate better with allies.

The second recommendation is that Washington should accelerate efforts to strengthen its allies and partners, including in the area of maritime security. “Many states are struggling to mitigate regional security risks that range from major humanitarian crises to maritime disputes to missile threats,” the study said.

The third recommendation is that the United States should sustain and expand its military presence in the Asia-Pacific, and the fourth was that the United States should accelerate development of new capabilities for US forces, such as the ability to resist the growing ballistic missile threat to US ships and forward bases.


PHILSTAR

DND forges P2.68-B deal for air surveillance radars By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 25, 2016 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


The Philippines is under pressure to strengthen its external defense capabilities amid China's muscle flexing and aggressive expansion in the region. AFP/Released, file

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) and an Israeli firm are close to forging a deal for the supply of three air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion to boost the Philippines’ territorial defense capabilities.

The Philippine government and Israeli company Elta System Ltd. could sign a contract for the radars anytime, DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo told The STAR over the weekend.

Manalo said a notice of award was issued to Elta early this month. The issuance of the notice of award is an important step in the procurement process as it leads to the actual implementation of the project.

“The signing will be done anytime,” Manalo said when asked for the status of the air surveillance radars project.

“The radars will enhance the capabilities of the Air Force in terms of maritime domain awareness,” he added.

Manalo said the radars may be delivered next year.

Last year, The STAR reported that the Philippines would buy three air search radars from Israel to enhance its monitoring in the South China Sea, where more than $5 trillion worth of trade passes through every year.

READ MORE...

The Philippines, one of the weakest in the region in terms of military might, is under pressure to strengthen its external defense capabilities amid China’s muscle flexing and aggressive expansion in the region. Officials have repeatedly claimed that the modernization program is not directed against any country.

Defense officials signed an implementation arrangement that would pave way to the purchase of the radars in February 2014.

The procurement, however, was stalled for some time as President Aquino only approved the revised military modernization program last July, six days before his final State of the Nation Address.

Under the revised military modernization law enacted in 2012, the President, upon the recommendation of the defense and budget secretaries, shall forward the list of items to be purchased to Congress within 60 days since the law took effect.


MANILA BULLETIN

US forces to continue flying, sailing in South China Sea January 24, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share3 By PNA/Sputnik

Moscow – US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has stated that Beijing is taking steps which will lead to international isolation amid ongoing tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The comment by the Pentagon top official was made on Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Carter offered that the US is not seeking an excuse for a clash with China, but noted that the American military will keep operating in the region.

“I am not one of those people who believe that conflict between China and the US is inevitable. It is certainly not desirable and I don’t think it is likely,” he said, adding that American forces, “will fly, sail and operate whatever international law permits in the South China Sea.”

READ MORE...

Carter blamed Beijing for mounting tensions in the region and reiterated that Washington is not fueling the conflict, while urging no one to “take sides.”

“China is taking some steps that I fear are self-isolating, driving towards a result that none of us wants,” Carter said, referring to China’s activities in the region.

China has recently constructed airstrips on artificial islands built in territories it has arbitrarily claimed in the South China Sea. The islands are being tested for new military and civil aviation facilities. Beijing has repeatedly claimed it doesn’t intend to militarize the region, but suggested that it is ready to defend its South China Sea facilities, if necessary.

The disputed South China Sea territories include the Spratly and the Paracel Islands, as well as certain maritime areas crossed by important international trade routes. Powers including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have launched overlapping territorial claims on areas across the region.


INQUIRER

Naval base on Palawan’s Oyster Bay being developed SHARES: 2815 VIEW COMMENTS By: Redempto D. Anda @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Southern Luzon 12:37 AM January 18th, 2016


Oyster Bay Palawan- Philippine Navy Vessels are scattered around the Oyster Bay and Ulugan Bay fronting the West Philippine sea, and is being deveopled as a “mini Subic” where the country’s two former U.S. Coast Guard cutters would be based. Oyster Bay is only 160 km (100 miles) from the disputed Spratly islands, where China has been reclaiming a reef known as Johnson South Reef, and building what appears to be an airstrip on it.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—If there are efforts to develop a new military base in Palawan that can host US troops, no confirmation is coming from local military and civilian officials here.

But the development of an existing naval facility located on Oyster Bay, acknowledged to be the most suitable to host US troops, is quietly going on, aimed at what Philippine Navy officials have described as creating a “mini Subic” in Palawan.

Subic is a former US naval base in Zambales province. It was shuttered together with Clark Air Base in Pampanga province in 1992 after the Senate voted to terminate the US-Philippine Military Bases Agreement.

Close to Spratlys

Located on the edge of the primary forest reservation facing the South China Sea, the Naval Forces West (Navforwest) facility on Oyster Bay is close to the islands and reefs that the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, China and Taiwan are disputing.

Previously accessible only by sea from the pier of its local host community, Puerto Princesa’s northern village of Macarascas, Oyster Bay will soon be linked to the urban center by a highway now under construction.

Work on the 12-kilometer access road is being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for Navforwest.

“The purpose of this road is for easy access of our troops from Oyster Bay to Puerto Princesa, transporting materials for construction of new barracks for our troops and accessibility of Navy ships,” Lt. Ariesh Climacosa, spokesperson for Navforwest, told the Inquirer.

The road is expected to be completed in October. By then, the base would be less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Princesa.
Some local officials, however, have complained of the “haste” by which the road project was started.

Community Environment and Natural Resources (Cenro) officer Emer Garraez said the project proponent had been cited for bypassing the agency in seeking permits.

He explained that the project required the clearing of primary forest vegetation to make way for the road.

“They started it without a tree-cutting permit,” Garraez said.

The project, however, received endorsement and approval of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) when the matter was taken up late last year.

Waiting for Americans

In the fishing village of Macarascas, the present jump-off point to Oyster Bay and host of the main headquarters of the Western Command’s naval arm, the residents are waiting for the arrival of the Americans.

“There used to be opposition to the naval base here, but now the people are used to the presence of the military,” said Sebastian Labrador, barangay captain of Macarascas.

The move to develop the Oyster Bay naval base into a modern naval facility started in 2014. The base was the Philippine Navy’s sole shipyard facing the South China Sea, but it was rundown and starting to surrender to the elements.

Nestled among old-growth mangrove forests and limestone cliffs on the western flank of Palawan’s central region, Oyster Bay is the Philippine Navy’s staging point to the Kalayaan Islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago.

READ MORE...

The Oyster Bay development plans came as tensions were increasing between the Philippines and China over China’s aggressive assertion of ownership of almost the entire South China Sea, including waters within the Philippines’ 370-km exclusive economic zone known as West Philippine Sea.

‘Capability upgrade’

The new infrastructure components, including the 12-km access road from the mainland, were described by Commodore Joseph Rostum Peńa, the then Navforwest commander, as “capability upgrade.”

Once completed, the facility will have a new wharf that could accommodate as many as four large naval vessels, according to Navy officials.

But even then, Peńa and other Navforwest officials avoided discussion of the South China Sea dispute.

Peńa said at the time that part of Navforwest’s capability upgrade would come from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program. The upgrade would include installation of high-powered radar systems in strategic areas from north to south of Palawan facing the South China Sea, he said.

The radar systems would allow Navforwest to closely monitor developments in the disputed areas of the Spratlys, he said.
“The coastal watch program should allow us eventually to monitor our seas in real time,” Peńa had said.

‘Mini Subic’

Once completed, Oyster Bay would be “a mini Subic,” he said.

Like the former US naval base in Zambales, Oyster Bay has physical characteristics ideal for hosting large warships. “It is also ideal as a base for our Marines. It has vast jungles suitable for training,” Peńa had said.
He was mum, however, on the suitability of Oyster Bay for use by US naval ships, saying only that the facility would be “suitable for large warships.”

Top priority

In May last year, then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang was quoted by Reuters as saying that it was the AFP’s top priority to build a naval base on the country’s western coastline, opposite the disputed Spratly archipelago.

According to Reuters, Catapang said American, Japanese and Vietnamese naval vessels would be allowed to make port calls once the facility at Oyster Bay was completed.

Catapang said P800 million was needed for the initial development of Oyster Bay and P5 billion to turn it into a major operating base.


INQUIRER

US fast-attack nuke sub arrives in Subic SHARES: 1071 VIEW COMMENTS By: Allan Macatuno
@inquirerdotnet Inquirer Central Luzon 01:12 AM January 13th, 2016


INCREASED US PRESENCE USS Topeka (SSN-754), a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, is docked at the Alava Pier of Subic port for a three-day port stop. The Supreme Court declaration that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and the Philippines will allow US forces to use Philippine military facilities, including the former US Subic Naval Base in Zambales province and Clark Air Base in Pampanga province. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—An American submarine arrived at Subic Bay Tuesday, hours before the Supreme Court ruling upholding the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States.

Carrying a crew of 160 sailors, the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Topeka (SSN 754) docked at the Alava Pier at 10 a.m. for the Philippine stage of its Indo-Asia-Pacific deployment routine, according to the US Embassy in Manila.

The submarine was welcomed by a marching band composed of local students.

The Topeka will conduct a multitude of missions and maintain proficiency of the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet,¯ according to the US Embassy.

The US Navy continues to enjoy a close relationship with the Philippines,¯ said Cmdr. David P. Lammers, commanding officer of the submarine.

“Through port visits such as this one, we strengthen our ties and foster valuable cultural exchange. The more we interact, the better we will understand one another and the stronger our alliance will become. I appreciate the efforts that make us feel so welcome when we visit Subic Bay,” Lammers added.

He said Filipino-American sailors aboard the submarine would also have an opportunity to connect with their heritage.¯

Having moved from the Philippines and raised in California from the age of 3, I never really had a chance to experience true Filipino culture outside of my own family, Machinist Mate 1st Class Juan Paulo Reyes said in the statement.

For many crew members, this is their first Philippine visit.

Measuring more than 91 meters long and weighing more than 6,000 tons, Topeka is a marvel of modern engineering, capable of operating at depths greater than 243 meters at speeds up to 46 kilometers per hour, according to the US Embassy.

READ MORE...

On Jan. 5, Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Texas arrived here as part of the Indo-Asia-Pacific deployment.

Texas measures 114 meters long and weighs more than 7,800 tons when submerged. It is capable of executing missions including antisubmarine warfare, antisurface ship warfare, strike, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare, mine warfare and shallow water operations, according to a US military fact sheet.

Topeka was commissioned on Oct. 21, 1989, with Cmdr. Timothy M. Richert as her first commanding officer.

It is the fourth ship of the “improved” Los Angeles Class, the Navy’s newest and world’s best nuclear powered attack submarines. These ships are the most advanced undersea vessels of their type in the world.

Faster than her predecessors and equipped with a highly accurate sonar and weapon control system, the ship can be armed with sophisticated Mark 48 and ADCAP torpedoes, as well as Harpoon land/antiship missiles.

It can also launch multipurpose Tomahawk cruise missiles from vertical tubes located in the bow or from her torpedo tubes. Other significant improvements include: full under-ice operational capability, improved ship quieting, onboard over-the-horizon targeting capability, two towed sonar arrays, and retractable bow planes.

The Edca, signed between the US and Philippine militaries last year, allows the United States to expand its presence in the country by building its own facilities. The document also allows the US military to store military assets in selected Philippine military bases.


INQUIRER

Many Filipinos relieved by U.S. high court’s move on immigration SHARES: 224 VIEW COMMENTS By: Anthony Advincula @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau 09:43 PM January 21st, 2016


Community leaders and Filipino consular officials preparing for the roll out of the Deferred Action for Chilidhood Arrivals polic. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

NEW YORK CITY — Tens of thousands of Filipinos across the United States were among immigrants reinvigorated by recent move of the U.S. Supreme Court to review President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

The highest court agreed last Tuesday, January 19, to hear whether it is within Obama’s presidential powers and constitutional authority to change immigration policy without going through the Congress.

“I’m happy that there’s still hope,” said V. Sarmiento, a Filipino father of two American-born children from Long Island, New York. “Maybe our long wait to get legal status would soon be over.”

Obama executive orders

In November 2014, Obama announced a handful of executive orders that could shield as many as 5 million immigrants from deportation and allow them to get a work permit. The orders were put on hold when a federal judge in Texas, and 25 other states, stopped them from taking effect.

But if the Supreme Court gives a favorable decision for the president, his immigration program would immediately take effect, changing the lives of eligible Filipino families and other immigrants.

“My wife and I pray every day for a positive outcome,” Sarmiento, 51, said on the telephone. “We’re optimistic, of course.”

The decision will come down in June — right in the middle of the presidential election campaigns where immigration will be one of the key issues for both Democratic and Republican candidates.

There are two significant policies under the Obama’s executive order: First, it would halt deportations and offer work permits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).

DACA expansion

Second, it would expand his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative in 2012, which would provide the same protections and work benefits to some undocumented immigrants brought to the country before the age of 16. The expansion of the program would result in a greater number of eligible individuals.

And while both DAPA and DACA would provide undocumented immigrants a temporary protection against removal from the country and allow them to work, neither serves as a path to a permanent resident (green card holder) status and U.S. citizenship.

The policy on permanent residency and citizenship requires congressional approval.

How many Filipinos are eligible

According to a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute, there are 45,000 potentially eligible Filipinos for the DACA and DAPA programs nationwide.

While reports show that a significant number of these eligible Filipinos have been hesitant to apply for DACA since it started four years ago, fearing potential risks and stigma in the community, advocates for immigrants reiterate the benefits of the DACA and DAPA programs.

READ MORE...

“The DACA and DAPA programs will provide safety from deportation and employment authorization, enabling Filipinos to live without fear in the United State,” said Joyce Noche, a Filipino American directing attorney at the Public Law Center based in Santa Ana, CA.

Even those undocumented immigrants who have a pending deportation order can still apply for the programs.

Better lives

A past study revealed that 45 percent of DACA recipients who obtained a work permit and government-issued identifications have increased their earnings, 57 percent received a driver’s license and 64 percent said they feel a greater sense of belonging in the country.

“These programs would improve the lives of millions of people by allowing them to continue building their lives and contributing to their communities,” added Sally Kinoshita, deputy director of the Immigrant Legal Source Center. “[The Supreme Court] decision brings us one step closer to providing protections that keep families together.”

Executive actions on immigration by a U.S. president are not a new issue. Both Pres. Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush gave a reprieve from deportation to spouses and children of those eligible for legalization.

What happens after Obama’s term

But critics say that even if the Supreme Court will deem Obama’s executive action on immigration legal, he would only have six months to implement it before he leaves the White House.

As millions of immigrants are expected to rush, it may not be enough time to process their applications in a short period of time. Also, with most Republican candidates opposed to Obama’s immigration policy, his program could also be vetoed or discontinued if one of them wins.

But Noche refuted those claims, saying that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “will be given time to develop and implement the application process.”

“Much of the process has already been developed,” she adds, “but there will be some time for [the] USCIS to prepare for the application process”.

There is always the possibility that the next U.S. president could discontinue the program, she said, but “if enough people apply, it may be difficult for a new president to cancel the program.”

Asked what eligible Filipinos should do to prepare their applications, Noche says that they should start gathering documentation to prove that they qualify for the program and saving money for the application fees.

“[But] beware of immigrations scams,” she noted. “Unfortunately, there are many immigration scams that promise quicker results or other assistance.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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