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PH Navy Now Making Progress in Maritime Security

The Philippine Navy (PN) is now making a headway in the maritime security arena. This was disclosed by Navy flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, during the welcoming ceremonies for strategic sealift vessel BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and the 300-man contingent aboard at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor, Monday afternoon. “(Monday’s) arrival ceremony is but one of […].....»»

Category: newsSource: metrocebu metrocebuOct 23rd, 2018

ISIS militants, hostages escape Marawi mosque

MARAWI CITY – Dozens of local ISIS militants and their hostages managed to escape undetected from a mosque they used to attack security forces in the besieged city of Marawi.  The daring escape was only discovered after troops managed to advance and eventually recaptured the mosque from militants on Thursday hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Marawi. The military trumpeted the “liberation” of the mosque, but it did not say how ISIS fighters and their captives managed to escape from thousands of troops who surrounded Marawi, and spy planes and drones monitoring the siege since May 23.  The fate of the hostages, including a Catholic priest and church workers, remains unknown.  Duterte, wearing a Kevlar helmet and a bullet-proof vest, inspected troops in the battlefront and spoke to them. “The President also congratulated the troops for defending Marawi from terror elements and for successfully retaking the Islamic Center yesterday, a structure that was maintained as the Daesh-inspired terrorist group's command and control for the longest time before it was retaken,” said Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.  It was his 3rd visit to Marawi since the fighting began when militants occupied the city in an effort to put up an Islamic province in the restive region. Security officials also briefed Duterte on the progress of the military operations against the militants.  In his talk with the soldiers, Duterte assured his full support to the military and police forces fighting ISIS. “I would like to reiterate this, I will never abandon you as long as you are doing the right thing. This would include fighting against the terrorists groups, the drug lords or the common criminals as long as you are doing your sworn duty to enforce the law and protect the republic. Let me emphasize however that you must do your job in accordance with the law,” he said.  Duterte was accompanied by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Ano and Army Chief Lieutenant General Glorioso Miranda.  Oust Duterte  His visit to the battlefield came days after disgruntled soldiers and policemen who are members of a shadowy group called Patriotic and Democratic Movement or PADEM called for the ouster of Duterte. They accused Duterte of treating the military and police as his private armies and for betraying and violating public trust and cited 10 reasons to call for his ouster. The group also urged Filipinos to join PADEM in condemning and fighting Duterte and his administration and to stage mass actions and demand the President’s ouster. In a manifesto, Antonio Bonifacio, who claimed to be PADEM’s spokesman, called on members of the military and police to also join the people in demanding Duterte’s resignation and also his administration. It said the group is working for the withdrawal military and police support for Duterte.  “We urge all Filipinos as individuals and as groups in whatever social sector, field, institution or organization to exercise their right of assembly and expression to undertake mass actions demanding the ouster of Duterte and his administration. We call on our fellow officers and members of the AFP and the PNP to join the people in demanding the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration.” “We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration. Upon the change of administration, we pledge to follow the principle of civilian supremacy and support a new civilian administration, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the rule of law,” the manifesto, released by Bonifacio – believed to be a nom de guerre – said. PADEM also condemned and holds accountable for gross crimes in betrayal of public trust and in violation of national sovereignty and democratic rights of the Filipino people. It cited the following reasons as alleged crimes of Duterte:   Treating the AFP and the PNP as these were his private armies and practising favoritism and violating professional and service standards in the promotion and assignment of officers; Corrupting the PNP and the AFP with a system of monetary awards for the extrajudicial killing of alleged illegal drug users and of NPA suspects; Condoning and protecting top-level illegal drug lords; Emboldening/inciting police officers to engage in extrajudicial killings of poor suspected illegal drug users and pushers by publicly telling officers to plant evidence and by guaranteeing their pardon and promotion in case of conviction; Aggravating corruption in government and criminality through the collusion of Duterte trustees and crime syndicates; Allowing China to occupy maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and to violate Philippine sovereign rights upheld by decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; Bungling the operations in Marawi City and indiscriminately destroying lives and property through aerial bombings, artillery and mortar; Favoring certain Chinese businessmen and Duterte relatives and cronies in the award of projected infrastructure projects using loans from China; Betraying the sovereign rights of the Filipino people by making the Philippines a debt vassal of China and offering to China the oil and gas resources under the West Philippine Sea as collateral for Chinese loans; and Seeking to replace the partnership with the United States in matters [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 25th, 2017

Afghan force losses at record

WASHINGTON, United States — Kabul’s control of Afghanistan slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered record-level casualties while making minimal or no progress against the Taliban, a US government watchdog said Thursday. The latest glimpse into Afghanistan’s security crisis highlights persistent problems among police and army units who have faced years of devastating […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsNov 1st, 2018

PH Navy warship heads to Australia for war games

  A Philippine Navy warship is heading to Darwin, Australia to take part in the two-week maritime drills.   A sendoff ceremony for the 300-man contingent of BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) was held on Monday to participate in the 14th multilateral regional maritime exercise Kakadu 2018.   The Philippine Navy's participation of maritime drills overseas comes after taking part in the Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) exercise in Hawaii.   Kakadu is the third international defense and security engagement of the Philippine Navy this year, said public information officer Commander Jonathan Zata.   It is Australia's largest exercise, hosted bienniall...Keep on reading: PH Navy warship heads to Australia for war games.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 20th, 2018

This sub’s for you

It is the last missing component of the country’s naval defense infrastructure—submarines. Any self-respecting navy must have subs as a key frontline maritime protection and security vessel. The acquisition of subs by the Philippine Navy had been a long, elusive dream for the country, but it could soon become a….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

PH Navy, Ran Kick Off 4th MSA Today in Palawan

The 4th Maritime Security Activity between the Philippine Navy – Naval Forces West (Navforwest) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will open today. Navforwest is the water asset of the Armed Forces of the Philippines- Western Command (Wescom). Running until July 25 in Palawan, the MSA aims to strengthen the interoperability and coordination of Navforwest […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

‘Time to reset the thinking of Philippine military’

      Amid growing concerns over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, it's a fine time for the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to go back to the drawing board and rethink their mindset in dealing with the country's security problems.   "It's about time to reset the thinking of the leadership in the military and look at the Navy and give it more importance," said Marites Vitug, author of Rock Solid: How the Philippines Won Its Maritime Case Against China.   The author said she was able to interview Navy officers and former Navy chiefs for her upcoming book, which details the developments that led to the lan...Keep on reading: ‘Time to reset the thinking of Philippine military’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Philippines marks naval progress at RIMPAC

The Philippines dispatched two warships and about 570 personnel to Rim of the Pacific military exercises for the first time, sending the message that its navy is making a comeback and the island na.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsJul 9th, 2018

Palace: Phl not taking soft stance on China

The Palace denied it is going soft on China amid reports of a resumption of build-up over disputed portions of the South China Sea (SCS) that foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have criticized. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Philippines shares Asean leaders’ concern regarding China’s aggressive actions on what is said to be the world’s busiest waterways.The recently concluded Asean foreign and defense ministers in Singapore issued a statement that did not name China but said that “land reclamations and activities in the area . . . have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.” The Asean ministers resolved to expedite the code of conduct (CoC) on how to negotiate with China regarding overlapping maritime claims.“Asean’s concern on the Chinese build-up is right because Asean, as a regional bloc, wants to adhere to discussions pertaining to the code of conduct,” Roque said.“We cannot be not joining the call because the Philippines is one of those concerned in this campaign,” he added.Roque also disputed views that Manila is not among those insistent in pressing Beijing to speed up the CoC drafting. “We are not being too soft (on China) but we have an established policy on that. Number one, of course, is we are one with Asean in recognizing that this is a concern for all Asean countries. Particularly that of the freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea,” Roque said.“Our common concern is peace security and stability in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes,” he added.During Manila’s hosting of the Asean last year, President Duterte did not cite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling that nullified Beijing’s sweeping claim over nearly the entire South China Sea.It was the Philippine government that contested China’s nine-dash-line claim before the Hague court. China, however, refuses to recognize it.Apart from the Philippines, other Asean countries also have overlapping claims at the South China Sea including Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.Reclamation to continueChina in its known mouthpiece Global Times said Beijing is concentrating on civil and not military construction on islands in the South China Sea but insisted that the Chinese “will expand land reclamation.”“Most of the construction on islands in the South China Sea were completed in 2015 and the pace then slowed. Civilian facility construction is the major focus of the South China Sea islands building and the portion of defense deployment is relatively small,” Global Times quoted Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea.The size of some South China Sea islands will be further expanded in future through more dredging in the South China Sea region, Chen said.The relationship between China and other Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, has becalmed in recent years, providing a golden opportunity for China to upgrade these areas, he said.China and the Philippines are enjoying good terms as President Rodrigo Duterte maintains a friendly policy toward China, Chen said. “But there is still some domestic pressure that urges Duterte to take a tough stance on China and the South China Sea issue,” Chen said.Foreign media like to hype China’s construction in the South China Sea as they try to make excuses to prevent China’s activities in this region, Zhuang Guotu, head of Xiamen University’s Southeast Asian Studies Center, told the Global Times.“China has the right to build whatever it needs within its territory,” Zhuang said.China’s military deployment in the South China Sea region was “not for military expansion,” but to defend its security and interests, he said.Zhuang and Chen warned the US is the biggest threat to stability in the South China Sea.“The US, Australia, Japan and other allies will constantly provoke China over this issue and that will incite other neighboring South China Sea countries to do the same,” Zhuang said.China’s construction projects in the region covered about 290,000 square meters in 2017, including new facilities for underground storage, administrative buildings and large radar, according to a report released in December on the nanhai.haiwainet.cn website run by the National Marine Data and Information Service and People’s Daily Overseas edition. No foreign vessels at BenhamThe Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not monitored any foreign vessels at the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, during its latest patrol in the area. Lt. Col. Isagani Nato, AFP-Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) spokesman, said that based on the latest patrol conducted by Nolcom troops, there was no presence of foreign ships at Philippine Rise.“As of now, we don’t have a report that there is presence (of foreign vessels) in Benham Rise,” said Nato.Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced that President Duterte has banned foreign ships at the Philippine Rise and ordered the military to patrol the area.The announcement came following an uproar from government critics after the Duterte administration allowed the Chinese to conduct scientific research at the Philippine Rise.Nato, however, said that Nolcom is yet to receive official order regarding the matter.But Nato maintained that with or without the latest directive, Nolcom has regularly conducted air and maritime patrols along Philippine Rise.Apart from Nolcom, the Air Force and the Philippine Navy, Nato said that the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) also conduct their own patrol in the area.He said the Nolcom uses air and naval assets of the Navy and the Air Force units under its jurisdiction.“We conduct our patrols regularly. It is a mandate of Nolcom forces so that is continuous with or without the directive from higher ups,” said Nato.According to Nato, Nolcom conducts three to four maritime and air patrol at Philippine Rise per month as part of the government efforts to secure the country’s maritime domain.ML ruling lauded, hitThe Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to uphold Mr. Duterte’s year-long martial law extension in Mindanao also drew mixed reactions.The High Court on Tuesday voted 10-5 junking militant groups’ petition and finding “sufficient factual basis” to extend martial law and suspend the privilege of wirt of habeas corpus in Mindanao until December 31, 2018.Roque welcomed the ruling saying that it affirms the need to continue protecting citizens from the threat of terrorist groups, primarily Islamic State (IS)-inspired fanatics.But for Left-leaning groups who petitioned the SC to lift martial law, the court decision opens up more crackdowns and human rights violations.The Palace official has insisted that human rights will be respected amid security operations.“The SC ruling underscores the unity of the whole government in its bid to defeat terrorism and prevent the spread in other parts of the country of DIWW and other like-minded local and foreign terrorist groups,” Roque said.“The majority of votes is a manifestation of confidence on law enforcement agencies that they shall, like they had been doing before, continue to protect our people, secure Mindanao, and pursue the bigger task of rehabilitation while upholding the rule of law, Human Rights, and International Humanitarian Law,” he added.Human rights watchdog Karapatan sees the contrary in the government’s motives, saying that the year-long military rule will boost attacks on the people.The continuous implementation of martial law in Mindanao will allow the unhampered massive rehabilitation in war-torn Marawi City and boost the security forces campaign to finish off the rebellion, the Department of National Defense (DND) said. In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the constitutionality of the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao will definitely boost government efforts to rebuild Marawi City and address continuing rebellion.The defense chief welcomed the SC decision as a vote of confidence to the government security forces.“The DND – AFP is grateful for the trust and confidence of our public institutions and the support of the Filipino people,” said Lorenzana. Mario J. Mallari.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

PH Navy to acquire Pohang-class corvette from Korea within the year

The Philippine Navy is finally set to receive the decommissioned Pohang-class corvette from South Korea later this year.   Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said they are expecting the delivery of the ship within the third quarter of 2018.   "We will receive a Korean corvette within this year and we are just waiting for the fund requirements," he told reporters on the sidelines of a maritime security symposium in Manila.   Empedrad said they are expecting of the approval of the budget in June and the ship will be delivered in three months' time.   He said the transfer process is estimated at P250 million.   "O...Keep on reading: PH Navy to acquire Pohang-class corvette from Korea within the year.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 10th, 2018

3 local ships conducting scientific research at PH Rise

THREE Philippine Navy ships have been conducting maritime scientific research over the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham) since last week, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said. “We have three ships there now conducting maritime scientific research and then they will move to the other parts of the Philippines,” Esperon told reporters on late Wednesday at Camp Aguinaldo [...] The post 3 local ships conducting scientific research at PH Rise appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsApr 19th, 2018

Shadowy group calls for Duterte’s ouster

MANILA – A shadowy group called Patriotic and Democratic Movement or PADEM, composed of disgruntled military and police officers and members, has called for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte and cited 10 reasons for its action. It accused Duterte of treating the military and police as his private armies and for betraying and violating public trust. It also urged Filipinos to join PADEM in condemning and fighting Duterte and his administration and to stage mass actions and demand the President’s ouster. In a manifesto, Antonio Bonifacio, who claimed to be PADEM’s spokesman, called on members of the military and police to also join the people in demanding Duterte’s resignation and also his administration. It said the group is working for the withdrawal military and police support for Duterte.  “We urge all Filipinos as individuals and as groups in whatever social sector, field, institution or organization to exercise their right of assembly and expression to undertake mass actions demanding the ouster of Duterte and his administration. We call on our fellow officers and members of the AFP and the PNP to join the people in demanding the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration.” “We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration. Upon the change of administration, we pledge to follow the principle of civilian supremacy and support a new civilian administration, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the rule of law,” the manifesto, released by Bonifacio &'' believed to be a nom de guerre – said. PADEM also condemned and holds accountable for gross crimes in betrayal of public trust and in violation of national sovereignty and democratic rights of the Filipino people. It cited the following reasons as alleged crimes of Duterte:   Treating the AFP and the PNP as these were his private armies and practising favoritism and violating professional and service standards in the promotion and assignment of officers; Corrupting the PNP and the AFP with a system of monetary awards for the extrajudicial killing of alleged illegal drug users and of NPA suspects; Condoning and protecting top-level illegal drug lords; Emboldening/inciting police officers to engage in extrajudicial killings of poor suspected illegal drug users and pushers by publicly telling officers to plant evidence and by guaranteeing their pardon and promotion in case of conviction; Aggravating corruption in government and criminality through the collusion of Duterte trustees and crime syndicates; Allowing China to occupy maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and to violate Philippine sovereign rights upheld by decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; Bungling the operations in Marawi City and indiscriminately destroying lives and property through aerial bombings, artillery and mortar; Favoring certain Chinese businessmen and Duterte relatives and cronies in the award of projected infrastructure projects using loans from China; Betraying the sovereign rights of the Filipino people by making the Philippines a debt vassal of China and offering to China the oil and gas resources under the West Philippine Sea as collateral for Chinese loans; and Seeking to replace the partnership with the United States in matters of national security with an even more lopsided relationship with China and Russia.  Television network GMA reported that the military has reiterated its support for the administration of Duterte and strongly denied PADEM’s allegations. Military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with all the men and women of the uniformed services and all their civilian personnel, stand by the government and support Duterte, their commander-in-chief. Padilla said the accusations and issues cited by the group are unfounded and uncalled for. “Such issues are clearly politically motivated and a matter that the AFP does not and will not subscribe to,” GMA quoted him as saying, adding, they are the constitutionally mandated protectors of the people and will stand by law-abiding citizens whenever and wherever they are needed. “Having affirmed this, the AFP, however, will not hesitate in acting against forces who shall undermine the stability and security of our country and those who wish to destabilize our nation thru unconstitutional means,” he said. Communist rebels had previously said that the Central Intelligence Agency is plotting to oust Duterte alongside the plan to assassinate Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Sison, in a statement he issued in May, said those who continue to support him assert that performance in a year is not enough basis for a final judgment and that there is more than enough time ahead for him to accomplish promises that have most impressed them, such as the eradication of the drug problem, criminality, and corruption. He said Duterte has, in fact, pleaded that he needs three or four more years to bring about the significant changes that he previously thought would be done in six months’ time. His promised campaign against the pork barrel and other forms of corruption of the Aquino regime has not yet materialized. “Where he has been most successful at, projecting himself as a strong leader by calling on the police and the public to kill drug addict-pushers, he has attracted the most severe and sustained condemnation by institutions, the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2017

WATCH: Speeches at the Navy-sponsored forum on maritime security

WATCH: Speeches at the Navy-sponsored forum on maritime security.....»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 11th, 2017

‘NKorea submarine missiles not ready until 2018’

SEOUL: North Korea is making progress on a submarine-launched ballistic missile system but any deployment of the technology is years away, a US think tank said, as the UN Security Council promised action over Pyongyang’s latest test. The US-Korea I.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsAug 27th, 2016

NKorea submarine missiles not ready until 2018 – experts

SEOUL: North Korea is making progress on a submarine-launched ballistic missile system but any deployment of the technology is years away, a US think tank said, as the UN Security Council promised action over Pyongyang's latest test. The US-Korea Institut.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsAug 27th, 2016

PH Ranks 1st in Transparency, 3rd in Public Participation

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced the Philippines has made significant progress with respect to transparency and public participation. 2017 Open Budget Survey showed the country first in Asia for transparency and third in the world for public participation. “The Philippines scored 67 out of 100 for budget transparency, making the country the best […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated News14 hr. 33 min. ago

Ukraine calls for international action against Russian aggression

MILAN, Italy – Ukraine's foreign minister on Thursday, December 6, called for a speedy international response to Russia's "aggression" after it seized 3 Ukrainian navy ships and 24 sailors in the Sea of Azov. At a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Milan, Pavlo Klimkin said this was the fifth ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 7th, 2018

‘Security cooperation would reduce confrontation in South China Sea’

HANOI --- Maritime law enforcementagencies should help uphold order, not become the tools of governments to "project power and change the order" in the East Sea, said Dr Pham Lan Dung, vice president of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. The ill-advised practice of unilateral moves has "resulted in a number of confrontations" in the region -- one of the busiest sea lanes in the world -- she said and called for deepened cooperation between the agencies of littoral countries. Her remarks were made as the legal expert was addressing the 'Fostering maritime security cooperation in the South China Sea' workshop held yesterday in Hanoi, which in its third reiteration, drew the partic...Keep on reading: ‘Security cooperation would reduce confrontation in South China Sea’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 6th, 2018

101 suspects nabbed on charges of illegal pornography in Korea

  SEOUL --- Over a hundred suspects have been arrested in Korea for making and distributing illegal film and child pornography, using overseas-based social media channels such as Tumblr and Twitter. Over a hundred suspects have been arrested for making and distributing illegal film and child pornography, using overseas-based social media channels such as Tumblr and Twitter, police said Tuesday. According to the Cyber Security Team of Northern Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, 101 people were arrested on charges of violating the Act on the Protection of Children and Juveniles From Sexual Abuse. Of those, nine suspects were indicted via a special crackdown on cyber sexual as...Keep on reading: 101 suspects nabbed on charges of illegal pornography in Korea.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 5th, 2018

How Empress got her groove back

  Empress Schuck entered show biz when she was only 7 years old. Acting is her passion, she said. But when she reached 20, her drive started to wane. Though she had opportunities to portray different kinds of roles, she didn't feel she was making enough progress in her career. "There was a point when I felt like quitting," she admitted at a recent press conference for the upcoming movie, "Kahit Ayaw Mo Na." "I started working when I was a kid, and after many years, I was still doing the same thing. I was tired and wasn't happy anymore. I just did what I was asked to do." "Sometimes, I would find myself wondering whether or not this is still the right thing for me," Empr...Keep on reading: How Empress got her groove back.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 4th, 2018

Futility in Phoenix wears on Devin Booker

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com He is already a star at age 22 but on this particular play, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker had role player instincts Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at Staples Center. The basketball bounced toward the baseline, beyond his reach, and he hustled anyway. And so the predictable happened: The ball beat him off the court and into the first row. Then the unthinkable happened: He grabbed his left leg and bent over in pain. The first player who rushed over to him yelled: “Book! Book! Hamstring?” ]It was thoughtful of LeBron James to check on Booker, even better if LeBron did this last summer as a free agent when Booker really could’ve use a hand. Instead, Booker is not only limping right now -- hopefully just temporarily for the team’s sake -- but also losing, something he has done more prolifically in Phoenix than get buckets. One of the shames of the NBA is how one of its breakout stars and franchise players is stuck on a habitually bad team, with no playoff shine in sight, and mostly invisible. Yes, only LeBron and Kevin Durant have reached 4,000 career points faster than Booker, but neither ever took Ls like this. Booker is now up to 136 in slightly over three seasons and once again the Suns, now 4-19, are on pace to be forgotten by Christmas. You could hardly blame their fans for getting their basketball fix these days by watching Duke games. All roads lead to the lottery, as it has since 2015 when Booker became one of the few draft decisions that actually worked out. But for Booker and the Suns, that’s some tough medicine, playing another 55 games, swallow many depressing nights along the way, and then pray the odds work in their favor come June. It’s fair to wonder how much of a toll this culture takes on Booker, who’s once again a player who demands a double team, averaging nearly 25 points a game and doing decently as a stand-in at point guard. Some perspective is needed, though. Booker signed a five-year, $158 million contract extension in July, giving plenty of living and den space for all the losing he takes home at night. Still, he said, "It sucks." Booker lost 58 games as a rookie, then 58 again, then 61 last year and may reach 65 or more this season. He’s lost 13 straight games twice, and the Suns once lost 28 of 30 with Booker on the floor. In an 82-game season, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to put together, say, a four-game win streak. Booker is still waiting on that. For years the situation just wasn’t pretty in Phoenix and it’s only slightly less ugly now. Too many poor Draft picks have delayed progress and ruined the team. Former lottery picks Dragan Bender, Marquese Criss and Alex Len couldn’t earn rookie extensions and there was Phoenix's infamous point guard fetish of recent years when they went through Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for little or nothing in return when they left. Sprinkle in some weird free-agent decisions -- like signing Tyson Chandler only to buy him out three years later -- and hilariously chasing LaMarcus Aldridge and it smacked of a team lacking both direction and a plan. Most of these moves were made by former GM Ryan McDonough and while James Jones represents a refreshing front-office change, he comes with little experience in that role. When you examine the fast-track of Booker, you get the best young scorer the league has seen since Durant and LeBron. You also get these numbers: Two, four and 47. That’s how many general managers, coaches and teammates Booker has had in less than four NBA seasons, heavy turnover storming all around him. “My whole career except for the NBA, I’ve been a winner,” Booker said. “I want to get back to that. I’m done with not making the playoffs.” Well, the circumstances say otherwise. The Suns are essentially holding tryouts for the future now, though. Chandler was the first one thrown overboard and if Phoenix could get anything for Ryan Anderson and his contract, he’d be next. For some reason Phoenix gave a head-scratching $15 million this season last summer to aging swingman Trevor Ariza. He's shooting 37.2 percent and scoring 9.9 ppg, taking minutes from young players. Among rotation players, the lone holdovers from 2017-18 are Booker, TJ Warren and Josh Jackson. Taking some advice he received from Chandler, who became a mentor, Booker believes it’s necessary for him to adopt a more forceful role on the court and in the locker room even if, from an age perspective, he needs more seasoning for that. But what are the alternatives, given the ever-changing lineup? “I’m doing more leading by example and being more vocal about it, holding people accountable and hold myself accountable too,” he said. It’s a chore trying to pick up others when, after taking yearly poundings, you need a hand yourself. This is the mountain Booker is up against. Again. “I know losing is tough on him because last year as a rookie I struggled with it,” said Jackson. “I’m just keeping my head on straight now. We show flashes but we need consistency.” Or you could say they need LeBron. And if Booker misses any extended time with a hamstring that has given him trouble before Sunday, well, as Jackson said: “Everybody knows we need him desperately. The sooner we get him back, the better.” With the possible exception of the Knicks, no franchise has splattered the concrete with the speed and consistency as the Suns. Before Booker was born, the Suns were a destination franchise, a place most players wanted to sign with, get drafted by and be traded to. The balmy winter weather was an obvious attraction but in the mid-1990s with Charles Barkley, and then 10 years later with Steve Nash, the Suns were also entertaining and won everything except a championship. Sellouts were common, the arena was a tough place for visitors and fans frolicked along with the Gorilla mascot. All this happened on Jerry Colangelo’s watch and prosperity under owner Robert Sarver is on hourglass time. At least Booker is locked up for four more years and there’s no danger of losing him, at least to another team, in the immediate future. They could lose him to frustration, though, fairly soon, especially when he sees other teams playing meaningful games and listens to other players during USA Basketball gatherings talk about what he’s missing. “I’ll do whatever I have to do,” Booker said, when asked about recruiting help in the near future. “I think Phoenix is a place where people can see the potential, see our young nucleus.” Unless there’s a reversal of fortune in the near future, Phoenix could remain a basketball wasteland and no player, not even Booker, wants to wallow in that. Problem is, until there’s a positive roster shakeup, the Suns lack enough to convince another superstar to sign up next summer or maybe even by 2020. At least when their lone star falls to the floor, as he did Sunday against the Lakers, Booker carries enough clout and respect to get a hand of a different sort from LeBron James. For now, that must do. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 3rd, 2018