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1
US secures deal on Philippines bases to complete arc around China
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Manila
1 February 2023
Updated 2 February 2023

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-64479712.amp

The US has secured access to four additional military bases in the Philippines - a key bit of real estate which would offer a front seat to monitor the Chinese in the South China Sea and around Taiwan.
With the deal, Washington has stitched the gap in the arc of US alliances stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

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The US hasn't said where the new bases are but three of them could be on Luzon, an island on the northern edge of the Philippines, the only large piece of land close to Taiwan - if you don't count China.

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2
U.S. Marines Are Relearning Island Hopping—For a War with China?
April 8, 2021
by Caleb Larson

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/us-marines-are-relearning-island-hopping%E2%80%94-war-china-182159

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As a part of Exercise Noble Fury, Sailors and Marines with the 3rd Marine Division practiced island assault techniques that could be used in a future fight in the Pacific. During the exercise, Marines flew on Marine V-22 Ospreys and onto Ie Shima, a small island just west of Okinawa.

With airborne help from AH-1Z attack helicopters, over one-hundred Marines simulated taking an enemy airfield and secured the island. After repelling a simulated enemy counterattack, the Marines conducted a rapid nighttime HIMARS infiltration.

“In the cover of darkness, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launcher with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment flew into the recently secured airfield on an Air Force MC-130J that night,” a Marine Corps courtesy story detailed.

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4
General Discussion / US defense chief visits Philippines anew
« on: February 02, 2023, 06:13:15 AM »
US defense chief visits Philippines anew
THIRD ANNE PERALTA-MALONZO
February 01, 2023

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1952313/manila/local-news/us-defense-chief-visits-philippines-anew

UNITED States (US) Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is back in the Philippines after nearly a year and a half.

Austin arrived in the country on Tuesday evening, January 31, 2023. He was welcomed by US Ambassador to the Philippines Marykay Carlson.

In a Twitter post, Austin said he will meet with Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and other senior government officials “to build on our strong bilateral relationship, discuss a range of security initiatives, and advance our shared vision of a #freeandopenpacific.”

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5
China’s Population Shrinks for First Time Since 1960s in Seismic Shift
ByBloomberg News
January 16, 2023

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-01-17/china-s-population-starts-shrinking-first-drop-since-1960s

Births decline despite efforts to encourage bigger families

Nation already facing increasingly serious demographic crisis

7
Infrastructure and Nautical Highways / Panay Railway Project
« on: January 28, 2023, 03:48:39 PM »
https://notices.philgeps.gov.ph/GEPSNONPILOT/Tender/SplashBidNoticeAbstractUI.aspx?menuIndex=3&refID=9428431&highlight=true

Description

1. The Department of Transportation (DOTr), through the CY 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) intends to apply the sum of Forty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred Ninety-Nine Thousand, Nine Hundred Ninety-Nine Pesos and Ninety-Nine Centavos (Php49,999,999.99) being the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) to payments under the contract. Bids received in excess of the ABC shall be automatically rejected at the opening of the financial proposals.

2. The Department of Transportation now calls for the submission of eligibility documents for the Consulting Services for the Conduct of the Feasibility Study for the Panay Railway Project. Eligibility documents of interested consultants must be duly received by the BAC Secretariat on or before at 10:00AM, 03 February 2023 at Unit 61 BAC Secretariat Division, The Columbia Towers, Ortigas Avenue, Brgy. Wack-wack, Mandaluyong City. Applications for eligibility will be evaluated based on a non-discretionary “pass/fail” criterion. Late submission of Eligibility Documents shall not be accepted.

3. Interested bidders may obtain further information from the BAC Secretariat and inspect the Bidding Documents at the address given below during Mondays to Fridays 7:00AM to 4:00PM. Bidders may also inspect the Bidding Documents uploaded in the websites of the DOTr at www.dotr.gov.ph, and Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) at www.philgeps.gov.ph.

4. A complete set of Eligibility Documents may be acquired by interested Bidders from 26 January 2023 until 10:00AM of 03 February 2023, from the address below provided that consultants shall pay a non-refundable fee for the Eligibility Documents in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (Php5,000.00). Bidder’s authorized representative shall present a government-issued ID and shall submit a duly signed authorization letter with a copy of a government-issued ID of the one who issued the authorization.

It may also be downloaded free of charge from the website of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) and the website of the Procuring Entity, providedthat Bidders shall pay the applicable fee for the Bidding Documents not later than the submission of their bids.

5. The CBAC shall draw up the short list of consultants from those who have submitted Expression of Interest, including the eligibility documents, and have been determined as eligible in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9184 (RA 9184), otherwise known as the “Government Procurement Reform Act”, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). Should only one (1) or less than the required number apply for the eligibility and shortlisting pass the eligibility check, and/or pass the minimum score required in the shortlisting, the BAC shall consider the same. The criteria and rating system for short listing:

CRITERIA POINTS

Qualification of Key Personnel who may be
assigned to the Job vis-à-vis extent and 70
complexity of the undertaking

Applicable Experience of the Firm; and 15

Current Workload Relative to Capacity 15

TOTAL : 100

The applicants shall then be ranked according to their “Total Points” and the top three (3) shall be considered as the shortlist and qualify them to bid for the contemplated contract. Should less than the required number apply for eligibility and shortlisting, pass the eligibility check, and/or pass the minimum score required in the shortlisting, the BAC shall consider the same. Further, applicants must obtain a minimum score of 70 points to qualify for shortlisting.

6. Bidding will be conducted through open competitive bidding procedures using non-discretionary “pass/fail” criterion as specified in the IRR of RA 9184.

Bidding is restricted to Filipino citizens/sole proprietorships, cooperatives, and partnerships or organizations with at least sixty percent (60%) interest or outstanding capital stock belonging to citizens of the Philippines.

7. The Procuring Entity shall evaluate bids using the Quality-Cost Based Evaluation/Selection (QCBE/QCBS) procedure. The Technical and Financial Proposals shall be given weights of seventy percent (70%) and thirty percent (30%), respectively, for a total of one hundred percent (100%) with a minimum score of 70 points. The criteria and rating system for the evaluation of bids shall be provided in the Instructions to Bidders.

8. The contract shall be completed within Three Hundred Sixty-Five (365) calendar days or twelve (12) months from the Notice to Proceed.

9. The Department of Transportation reserves the right to reject any and all bids, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract at any time prior to contract award in accordance with Section 41ofRA9184 and its IRR, without there by incurring any liability to the affected bidder or bidders.

8
U.S. will send Abrams tanks to Ukraine ahead of expected Russian offensive
PUBLISHED WED, JAN 25 202312:00 PM ESTUPDATED WED, JAN 25 20232:40 PM EST
Amanda Macias
@AMANDA_M_MACIAS

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/25/ukraine-war-news-us-will-send-abrams-tanks.html

KEY POINTS

The Biden administration will send 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as the country prepares for a fresh Russian offensive in the coming months.

The move is a reversal after the U.S. hesitated for weeks to arm Kyiv with tanks.

The development came as Germany also moved to send tanks to help Ukraine in its fight.

< Edited >

The Pentagon has been tasked with providing the training, maintenance and logistics support for the M1A1 tanks, according to the official. Another U.S. official said that the training on how to use the tanks, which will take several months, will occur outside of Ukraine.

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9
Army takes custody of ex-PSG chief over murder of Davao businesswoman
THIRD ANNE PERALTA-MALONZO
January 26, 2023

https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1951818/manila/local-news/army-takes-custody-of-ex-psg-chief-over-murder-of-davao-businesswoman

THE Philippine Army (PA) has taken into custody former Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief Jesus Durante Jr. after he was identified as the alleged mastermind in the killing of Davao-based businesswoman-model Yvonette Chua Plaza.

In a radio interview, PA chief Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner said Durante was relieved from his post as brigade commander of 1001st Brigade under the 10th Infantry Division (10ID) to ensure impartial investigation on the matter.

“Hindi po natin tino-tolerate ‘yung mga ganitong wrongdoings o itong criminal acts, kahit na ano pong ranggo ng ating mga sundalo, maging opisyal or enlisted personnel ay parepareho po ‘yung treatment natin sa kanila,” he said.

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(So when we found out that there was a report like this and that General Durante was a person of interest, we immediately had a conference and then we decided to first remove him from his position as commander of the 1001st Brigade so that the investigation would be impartial and thorough. That is standard operating procedure.)

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10
Turkey’s president says no support for Sweden’s NATO bid
By ZEYNEP BILGINSOY
January 23, 2023

https://apnews.com/article/nato-politics-turkey-government-recep-tayyip-erdogan-f9a568da05914a4143a033e74067b6f4

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president cast serious doubt on NATO’s expansion Monday after warning Sweden not to expect support for its bid for membership into the military alliance following weekend protests in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Rasmus Paludan’s Quran-burning protest on Saturday, saying it was an insult to everyone, especially to Muslims. He was particularly incensed at Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration to take place outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm under “the protection” of security forces.

“It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said in his first comments regarding the weekend protests, saying Sweden must have calculated the consequences of permitting Paludan’s demonstration.

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11
Germany to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and let other European nations do the same
BY HALEY OTT

UPDATED ON: JANUARY 25, 2023 / 7:07 PM / CBS NEWS

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-news-germany-tanks-russia-war-europe-leopard-2-us-abrams/

Germany will send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine and approve re-export of the same kind of tanks from partner countries, according to a statement issued Wednesday.

"This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated and concerted manner internationally," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Berlin.

Germany said it would initially provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks from its military stocks, with the goal of establishing two battalions, and provide ammunition and logistics. It said training for Ukrainian troops would begin soon in Germany, and that other European partners would be permitted to deliver tanks from their stocks to Ukraine, for which they had been awaiting approval from Germany as the manufacturing nation.

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12
PH, US to start preparation for civil nuclear deal negotiations
By Kris Crismundo
 January 24, 2023, 6:58 pm

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1193468

13
Information Technology & Cyber Security / Zero-knowledge proofs
« on: January 25, 2023, 01:05:14 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOGdb1CTu5c

Computer scientist Amit Sahai, PhD, is asked to explain the concept of zero-knowledge proofs to 5 different people; a child, a teen, a college student, a grad student, and an expert. Using a variety of techniques, Amit breaks down what zero-knowledge proofs are and why it's so exciting in the world of cryptography.

Amit Sahai, PhD, is a professor of computer science at UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

14
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPts4-j_HLk

Jan 22, 2023

Avril Haines, the US Director of National Intelligence, discusses Ukraine's current state and the challenges the Russians and Ukrainians are facing

15
PBBM on WEF trip: ‘When is the next chance we get to speak with CEOs of Fortune 100 firms?’
January 20, 2023

https://pco.gov.ph/news_releases/pbbm-on-wef-trip-when-is-the-next-chance-we-get-to-speak-with-ceos-of-fortune-100-firms/

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday said the Philippines’ participation in the World Economic Forum (WEF) is vital to seal important deals and enhance strategic investments and partnerships with key economic leaders. Including the chief executive officers (CEOs) of Fortune 100 companies.

The President made this remark in a media briefing in Davos, Switzerland, when asked about criticisms that branded his trip as “lavish.”

“When is the next chance we will get to speak to CEOs of top Fortune 100 companies in the period of two days? So whoever we get to talk to, kailangan nandoon ‘yung [Cabinet] secretary na pwede niyang sagutin, pwede niyang kausapin,” Marcos told members of the Philippine press.

When asked for comment about the inclusion of lawmakers that included House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Senator Mark Villar, the chief executive stressed that legislation is “an important part of what we are doing.”

“Let’s say you talk to a.potential investor, sasabihin niya ‘yung batas ninyo hindi maganda eh. Kami naiipit. And it’s not a good law, et cetera, et cetera. So at least we have the legislators here who can say: ‘Well, we can do something about it;’ or ‘No, that is important to us that we maintain it, et cetera, et cetera,'” the President explained.

“Because legislation is an important part of what we are doing. So there’s always a legislator. And in the case of former president GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), we’re lucky to have her onboard,” Marcos pointed out.

President Marcos has accomplished a lot in his participation in the WEF in Switzerland, particularly by telling the Philippines’ success story and encouraging investors to come to the country, the government’s economic team has said.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the President’s WEF attendance aroused investors’ interest in areas such as digital economy, minerals processing, logistics and transport, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) operations.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, meanwhile, said from the perspective of key decision-makers abroad, they would want to hear where the Philippines stands at the moment.

WEF President Børge Brende earlier lauded the Philippines for its high gross domestic product (GDP) growth, surpassing other countries in Southeast Asia.

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