Friday, May 24, 2019


It is a something of an old and worn-out tale to say that when the Philippines was newly independent from the United States, it boasted one of the most-efficiently equipped armed forces in Southeast Asia, with plenty of leftover hand-down armaments and military vessels in use. Over the decades however, the rest of the nations in the region have caught up and improved their capacities while that of the Philippines has stagnated. Overseas acquisitions of new equipment for the armed forces tend to be fraught with controversy as well. That applies to the new warship being built for the Navy in South Korea, though its recent launch might prove inspiring. reports that the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), the first frigate of the Philippine Navy that has missiles as its primary armaments, was launched on Thursday, May 23, at the shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in Ulsan, South Korea. The occasion was witnessed by officials from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Navy. BRP Jose Rizal will also be the class ship of the Navy’s new Jose Rizal frigate line, with another vessel, to be called BRP Antonio Luna, having its keel newly-laid at the HHI yards.
Measuring 107 meters long, the Jose Rizal will be the first Philippine Navy warship with a contemporarily modern design. Its missiles can be launched at targets in the water, land, air, and even underwater. Its shape is of the current trend with stealth-conducive contour to less its radar visibility in the water, backed by an electronic warfare capability. It is a refit of the South Korean frigate design Incheon/FFX-I/HDF-3000. Both Jose Rizal and Antonio Luna were ordered by the Navy from HHI back in 2016, with a total budget of $16 billion for the two.
However, like almost all dealings to modernize the armed forces, the South Korean-made frigates had their own little controversy. Originally their combat management system (CMS) was to be provided from the Netherlands. But in 2017 Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had Navy Chief V-Adm. Joseph Mercado, a proponent of the Dutch CMS, removed from his post. At the same time, HHI contracted a fellow South Korean firm offering its own system for the Jose Rizal frigates. President Duterte said he signed off on Hanwha Naval Shield being installed on the ships following a formal complaint from Hyundai Heavy Industries about potential incompatibility with Netherland’s Thales Tacticos.
The new Navy frigates are to have an over-100-man crew, missile batteries, super-rapid gun and remote-controlled naval cannon. They will also each carry UK-made AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters, both already delivered. BRP Jose Rizal will be delivered to the Philippines in 2020, while BRP Antonio Luna will wait until 2021.
Image courtesy of GMA Network

First TRAILER Out for Paramount’s “TERMINATOR: DARK FATE,” Coming NOVEMBER

Before “Avatar,” before “Titanic,” the movie franchise that would have been an easy connection to the name of filmmaker James Cameron would be “Terminator.” The concept of a human-looking robot assassin from a dark future dominated by machines was a starkly iconic idea. From its relatively low-key sci-fi horror 1984 debut, it ballooned into a very expensive SFX and CGI-laden action epic with the 1991 sequel “Judgment Day,” although subsequent “Terminator” films would be lesser appreciated, from either an attempted direct sequel to spinoffs. Paramount looks to try the franchise again this year with “Terminator: Dark Fate,” the first trailer of which arrived this week according to CBS News.
Perhaps the main draw of this new “Terminator” film is the fact that it goes beyond just featuring key iconic characters of the franchise, such as Sarah and John Connor and the titular T-800 Model 101 Terminator. Rather, they would have another past cast-member join in the project alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is none other than Linda Hamilton, the original actress for Sarah Connor whose performance was much hailed in the 1991 sequel, where she transitioned from the hapless survivor of “The Terminator” to the hard-bitten action mom of “Judgment Day.”
The trailer for “Dark Fate” jumps into the action without much framing or world-building. Once again, the machine leader Skynet has sent an advanced Terminator model from the future to kill a young girl (Natalia Reyes) in the past. Said girl finds a guardian in a young woman (Mackenzie Davis) who, despite insisting that she is human, has a Terminator-like endoskeleton under her skin, with all the superhuman ability that implies. The new Terminator Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) however has a new combination of old tricks from past models, and the only one who might be able to help its targets are an aged Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and an apparently-surviving T-800 (Schwarzenegger) with aged living-tissue disguise.
James Cameron returns to the “Terminator” franchise with “Dark Fate,” though only as producer and co-writer. Directing duties are given over to Tim Miller, who can be credited as one of the reasons for the surprise success of 2016’s “Deadpool” from 20th Century Fox. Cameron gave a definitive word on the status of such “Terminator” entries as “Rise of the Machines” (2003), “Salvation” (2009), “Genesys” (2015) and the TV series “Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2008-09) where the title role was played by Lena “Cersei” Headey. These installments apparently happened in alternate histories while their storyline for “Dark Fate” will be a direct sequel to “Judgment Day.”
Diego Bonita, Jude Collie and Enrique Arce also star in the movie, co-produced by Paramount and now-Disney subsidiary 20th Century Fox. The former will distribute the film in North America while Disney handles distribution on the international scene. “Terminator: Dark Fate” premieres this November 1.
Image courtesy of Comic


In the modern Filipino working landscape, one portmanteau term fills many rank-and-file employees with dread: “Endo.” It means “End of Contract” and has been a thorn in the side of working people in the Philippines, particularly since the start of the 21st Century. By exploiting a loophole in the now-ironclad Labor Law regulation of regularizing employees after six months in the company, some businesses have avoided taking on greater responsibilities for their workforce. This was one of the secondary objectives that President Rodrigo Duterte swore to address during his term. Now, the first step toward that resolution has passed with the upper chamber of Congress.
CNN Philippines reports that the Senate has approved their version of a proposed bill that will remove the shadow of Endo over the working career of many employees in the Philippines. Senate Bill 1826 or the “Security of Tenure and End of Endo Act of 2018” should in practice do away with the strong-arm method of employee contractualization that sees many workers flit from job to job every half-year or so once their limited employment contracts end. Ending a work term after only five months is how some companies have prevented their workers from becoming regular employees with greater benefits (and costs to the company).
To drive home just how vital this issue is and how much President Duterte wants the legislation to answer it, Senate Bill 1826 actually passed unanimously on Wednesday, May 22, with all present Senators casting in favor of it. But for the moment, the contents of the does not yet address Endo but rather “labor-only contracting.” This involves a person or firm serving as a job contractor, recruiting workers that they then place with a contracting company. The contractor thus gets a cut and the employees answer to them instead of their company workplace. Bill 1826 would mandate all workers be directly hired by companies, cutting out the contractor middleman.
Another article on the SOTEEA states that except for the probationary workers (new hires up until 5 months of service), all employees in a company are considered regular, even if they only work for a project or for a season. This also includes legal safeguards that would prevent said businesses from dismissing workers out of hand without “just and authorized cause.” There is no mention of legislation that simply prohibits companies from putting 5-month limits to employee contracts, but that part might be covered by the other side of Congress.
The Senate half of this bill to end Endo and other related practices will be joined to the version already passed by the House of Representatives. They will be ironed out by a bicameral committee that will unite the documents into a single “End Endo” bill, awaiting the President’s signature.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star