French charity urges Sri Lanka to act over killings

Updated 04 August 2016
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French charity urges Sri Lanka to act over killings

Colombo: A French charity urged Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday to hold a credible investigation into the killing a decade ago of 17 of its staff.
The head of Action Against Hunger (ACF) said it was time for Sri Lanka to act on its promises as she visited the island to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre.
No one has ever been prosecuted over the execution style killings of ACF staff, among them four women, the worst attack against humanitarian workers during the island’s 37-year-long ethnic war.
Human Rights Watch has said mishandling of the case by successive Sri Lankan governments showed the need for credible international involvement to determine who carried out the killings.
ACF Chief Executive Veronique Andrieux said the charity was closely monitoring Colombo’s pledge at the UN Human Rights Council in September to establish an internationally acceptable mechanism to prosecute war criminals.
“What we hope is that this accountability mechanism will be able to deliver a credible legal and just solution,” Andrieux told AFP.
“We are awaiting concrete steps in the right direction. It is now time for action.”
The killings took place during the decades-long separatist war that came to an abrupt end in May 2009 after government forces crushed the Tamil rebel leadership in a major offensive.
The workers, all Sri Lankan, were massacred near Trincomalee, 260 kilometers (160 miles) north-east of Colombo, at a time when government forces were locked in combat with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the area.
Andrieux said the ACF had held a private remembrance event in the capital on Wednesday and a similar ceremony would be held Friday in Trincomalee.
Previous Sri Lankan investigations into the ACF attack have been inconclusive, and the UN has said security forces intimidated the victims’ relatives whenever international attention was paid to the case.
A UN report published last year pointed fingers at the Sri Lankan military, which has strongly denied it had any hand in the killings.


Philippines outlines $5.6bn plan to modernize forces by 2028

Soldiers take part in a parade during the 79th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon city, Manila December 18, 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Philippines outlines $5.6bn plan to modernize forces by 2028

  • Out of the roughly $5.6 billion approved by Duterte, $2.6 billion will be for the air force, $1.4 billion for the navy, $890 million for the army, and some for the government’s arsenal and for the AFP general headquarters
  • The 15-year RADPMP began during the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, but implementation of the program was delayed. It was only toward the end of the Aquino administration that the first phase of the program was approved

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte recently approved the second phase of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (RAFPMP) with funding of about 300 billion pesos ($5.6 billion).
In an interview with Arab News, Defense Department (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said this will enable the government to get back on track establishing “a credible defense posture.”
Under horizon two of RAFPMP, which is expected to run from 2018 to 2022, new equipment will be acquired to modernize the country’s outdated military. This will include submarines, frigates, fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), howitzers, crew-served weapons and radar.
Some of the items, including the submarines, were originally slated for acquisition under horizon three of the RAFPMP set for 2023 to 2028. The Duterte administration, however, decided to bring the acquisition forward to the second horizon.
Andolong cited two reasons why the government has decided to track the military’s modernization. “One is our desire, and the president recognizes this, to bring our modernization back on track. And, two, is that the ever-evolving security situation calls for it already.” He also pointed out the geopolitical climate in the region, with rising tensions between the US and China, and other countries that have interest in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.
“Unfortunately, we are in the middle of all of that. The government has realized that we cannot afford to just sit back and wait for these things (AFP modernization) to happen on their own. We really need to have political will,” Andolong said.
The 15-year RADPMP began during the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, but implementation of the program was delayed. It was only toward the end of the Aquino administration that the first phase of the program was approved.
Out of the roughly $5.6 billion approved by Duterte, $2.6 billion will be for the air force, $1.4 billion for the navy, $890 million for the army, and some for the government’s arsenal and for the AFP general headquarters.
Equipment to be acquired for the air force includes multi-role fighters, radar systems, light utility and medium-lift aircraft, heavy-lift helicopters, UAVs, attack and combat utility helicopters, special mission and long-range patrol aircraft and trainer aircraft.
The navy will get frigates, corvettes, submarines, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-submarine helicopters, attack crafts, medium-lift helicopters and multi-role vessels. Purchases for the army will include towed and self-propelled howitzers, multiple-launch rocket systems, light tanks, armored recovery vehicles, tactical radios, ground mobility equipment, individual weapons, crew-served weapons and night-fighting equipment.
Also on the shopping list are combat engineers, force protection, explosives ordnance disposal, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and medical equipment.
“If we do get all of this, it will enable to us to put us back on track our objective of attaining credible defense posture,” Andolong said.
“We are talking about our capability to fulfill our mandate to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is our capability to patrol our territory and repel any invaders.”
At present, the AFP lacks the capability to even verify reports such as missiles being positioned by another country in the Spratly Islands, or airborne intruders in Philippine airspace. “Information is provided to us by our allies and from the news,” Andolong said.
The Philippines’ plan is that by 2028 AFP should be a fully capable and modernized military.