Kathleen Mae B. Bulquerin

More loose firearms surrendered

Four municipalities from North Cotabato province formally handed over a total of 254 loose firearms to the 6th Infantry Division last July 19 at the provincial gymnasium in Amas, Kidapawan. The loose firearms were from the municipalities of Aleosan, Kabacan, Pigcawan and Libungan. “I would like to thank the local chief executives of the province of North Cotabato for their support and cooperation in the campaign against loose firearms of the national leadership,” said Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, Commander of 6th Infantry Division. The army commander also commended the leadership of Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza under whose efforts a total of 772 loose firearms have been surrendered in her province to date. “The number of firearms surrendered can be translated into the reduction of crimes in the community that will greatly contribute to achieve long and lasting peace,” Sobejana added. Mendoza said she will not stop until loose firearms are totally eradicated in her province. Also present at the turnover ceremony were Pigcawayan Mayor Eliseo Garcesa, Libungan Mayor Cristopher Cuan, Aleosan Mayor Vicente Sorupia and Kabacan Mayor Herlo Guzman Jr. as well as 602nd Brigade Commander Col. Alfredo V. Rosario, 34th Infantry Battalion Commander Angelo Lutera and Lt. Col. Ciriaco Lomas-e. Among the firearms surrendered were 3 cal 7.62mm sniper rifle, 5 cal 7.62mm M14, 2 caliber 5.56mm Ultimax, 2 caliber 5.56mm M16, 9 cal .50 sniper rifle, 1 cal .30 sniper rifle, 42 cal .30 Garrand, 44 cal .30 Mussel, 4 cal .30 Carbine, 1 cal .30 light machine gun, 3 cal .30 Browning Automatic rifle, 51 12-Gauge Shotgun, 43 cal 40mm M79 grenade launcher, 1 cal 40mm M203, 1 rocket propelled grenade, 4 60mm mortar, 1 single-shot pistol, 1 single-shot M16, 2 Thompson, 17 Springfield rifles, 2 Carbines, 2 cal 9mm UZI, 2 KG9, 2 12-gauge shot pistol, 1 cal .45 pistol, and 8 cal .38 revolver.

PNP commando course on

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar David Albayalde led the opening ceremonies of the Special Action Force (SAF) Commando Course last July 18 at Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna. The additional forces will be used to help curb criminality and terrorism in line with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s orders, Albayalde said. The police chief added that the PNP elite unit practices its virtues to serve God, country and people with utmost excellence, living up to the SAF motto, “By Skill and Virtue, We Triumph.” The new breed of commandos will be trained for almost 20 months on Public Safety Basic Recruit Course, Public Safety Field Training Program and SAF Commando Course. The PNP elite unit revealed that the first two battalions will be activated in September 2019, followed by two more battalions to be launched in November 2019 and February 2020.

PH, Aussie navies in joint drill

The Philippine Navy (PN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) started holding yesterday a joint maritime security activity in Palawan, an exercise to climax on July 25. The bilateral activity between the two Navy forces is aiming to enhance training, interoperability and cooperation in addressing terrorism and kidnapping activities. According to Capt. Cherryl Tindog, Western Command spokesman, the security drill will run “across North Palawan, Coron and down south near Balabak.” Naval Communication System, planning, individual shipboard training, maritime surveillance, and search and rescue will be included in the bilateral activity. The PN-RAN MSA 2018 is the 4th iteration of the said bilateral activity.

Lipa councilor killed

A councilor in Brgy. Antipolo del Sur in Lipa City, Batangas was shot dead by an unidentified gunman Saturday. Romel Cuento was talking with a former village official along Purok 6A road at 6:35 p.m. when two men riding a tricycle shot him several times. He was rushed to the NL Villa Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. The police are pursuing the suspects who fled to Padre Faura town. Meanwhile, former Santo Tomas vice mayor Ferdinand Ramos was shot by unidentified men at around 7:25 p.m. in Barangay Poblacion also over the weekend.

Teacher shot dead in ARMM

Police visibility has been increased yesterday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) after a teacher of the Department of Education (DepEd) was shot dead last Friday. The victim, Dr. Nasser Gayak, 40, a teacher of DepEd-ARMM, was walking at the corner of Japal Guiani and Jose Lim Sr. streets when shot three times from behind by a lone gunman. Gayak sustained bullet wounds in the head and body from a .45 caliber pistol and was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital. The gunman, who wore a baseball cap to hide his face, disappeared among the panicked crowd. Senior Supt. Rolly Octavio said their investigation is still ongoing but hinted that the case could be work-related.

Village chief shot dead

Alfredo Zapanta, the barangay chairman of Danao, Jasaan, Misamis Oriental was gunned down yesterday, according to a report reaching the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City. Zapanta was shot at around 5:40 am at Purok 7, Brgy. Danao. He was brought to the Jasaan Hospital but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

Bicam’s work done, final BBL ready

The Bicameral Conference Committee reconciling the Senate and House versions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) completed its deliberations yesterday and expects to submit a report to President Duterte on July 17, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said. “Yes, we finished everything in principle at 12:15 a.m.,” he said in a message to reporters. “The Bicam Conference Committee authorized Senator (Juan Miguel) Zubiri and (me) to finalize our report and we will meet on Tuesday, July 17, for its approval and, forthwith, forward it to the President for his consideration,” said Fariñas, who chairs the panel. He added if Mr. Duterte approves the final version of the BBL, it will be ratified in plenary by both chambers of Congress during the opening of the third regular session at 10 a.m. on July 23 and it would be signed into law by the President on or before his third State of the Nation Address at 4 p.m. Zubiri said among the provisions adopted in the bicameral version of the BBL are the creation of a Shari’ah High Court and the joint powers of the Bangsamoro government and national government over the exploration, development and use of fossil fuels and uranium in the new region. He added the bicameral committee approved the 75-25 Bangsamoro and central government wealth sharing but deleted the proposed anti-political dynasty provision. Mr. Duterte convinced congressional leaders to adopt the House version of the BBL which provides “the six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and the 39 barangays of North Cotabato could vote to join the BBL territory in a referendum to be conducted in the mother territory of the areas involved.” BTC, AFP heads meet Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military is committed to achieve lasting peace and development in the proposed Bangsamoro region at a meeting with Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) chair Commissioner Ghazali Jaafar at Camp Aguinaldo last Thursday. “The cooperation and solidarity among us are necessary now more than ever as we are only a few steps closer to achieving the objectives of the transition process. I trust that we shall see better days ahead for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” Galvez said. During the meeting, Col. Cesar de Mesa, the chief of the AFP Peace and Development Office, presented updates on the military’s efforts in support of the BBL. Efforts are currently focused on ensuring the successful implementation of the various peace mechanisms. Initially, the AFP was able to train 14 teams which were deployed in Central and Western Mindanao in June 2018 as peace monitors. AGFO gives backing A group composed of retired generals at the AFP has declared its full support to the passage of the proposed BBL being pushed by the Duterte administration to finally attain a genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao. “The Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) fully supports the program of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, especially in the issue of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. We are confident the President has developed a meaningful program to bring about peace in Mindanao,” Raul Urgello, AGFO president, said in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) at the sidelines of the AGFO regular meeting held at General Ricarte’s Hall in Fort Bonifacio on Thursday. The BBL is being thoroughly examined and debated by members of both the Senate and House of Congress. “I’m sure they (lawmakers) will come out with a law acceptable to our government and the Bangsamoro,” said Urgello, a retired three-star general and former commanding general of the Philippine Army with almost two decades assignment in Mindanao during the war in the 1970s and 1980s.

E-CLIP benefits to rebel returnees

Task Force “Balik Loob” awarded the Enhance Comprehensive Localized Integration Program (E-CLIP) to 241 Former Rebels (FR) as first batch of beneficiaries on Wednesday at the Provincial Happy Home of Davao Oriental in Mati City, Davao Oriental. The E-CLIP is being implemented under the Task Force “Balik Loob,” headed by Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu of the Department of National Defense. It is an offshoot to the Administrative Order 10 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 10 converging the Comprehensive Localized Integration Program of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and programs of interventions of different government agencies to former rebels to prepare them for integration to mainstream society. The E-CLIP was piloted by the 701st Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General Reuben Basiao through an existing program of the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental and the other government interventions to former rebels who surrendered to his units. As of July 11, 45 of the 241 FR received National Certification II from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority after finishing the Skill Development Training (carpentry, welding and massage therapy). All of them were enrolled in the Department of Labor and Employment Livelihood Program. Other benefits include PhilHealth enrolment, housing and legal assistance. The ceremony was graced by Mapagu as head of Task Force Balik Loob, Assistant Secretary Manuel Felix of DILG, USec. Ronald Flores of Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, USec. Luz Ilagan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., Maj. Gen. Glenn Paje representing the AFP Chief of Staff and Maj. Gen. Noel Clement of 10ID. Yesterday, 12 former rebels from Sarangani Province were also awarded the E-CLIP at the Provincial Capitol of Sarangani Province in Alabel. Meanwhile, two suspected ranking members of the CPP-NPA in Mindanao were turned over to the Bukidnon Regional Trial Court following their arrest in an Inter-Agency Law Enforcement Operations in Barangay Lagao, General Santos City on July 4. They were identified as Maria Limbaga Unabia of Koronadal, South Cotabato and Francis Madria of Malaybalay, Bukidnon. They were arrested through warrants CC 29243-16 and CC 29241-16 and 29242-16 for murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder.

No De Lima hearings at Crame

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde yesterday rejected the request of Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III to let Senator Leila De Lima conduct Senate hearings inside the PNP Custodial Center. In response to Sotto’s request, he said that “considering Senator De Lima’s status as detention prisoner” the PNP cannot appropriately act on Sotto’s request. Albayalde also cited the cases of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos who were both exiled and were also public officials. “The PNP has relied on the controlling precedent on the matter of prohibition/limitation on the exercise of legislative functions while in detention laid down by the two similar cases decided by the Supreme Court,” excerpt from the response letter of Albayalde to Sotto said. Last July 2, Sotto wrote to PNP Chief Albayalde requesting to let De Lima practice her position as chairman of the Senate committee on justice, welfare and rural development inside the PNP Custodial Center. Sotto wrote Albayalde after he visited De Lima at the Custodial Center. De Lima is detained for illegal drugs charges.
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