Kathleen Mae B. Bulquerin

‘Nothing but peace’

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año yesterday said that contrary to the propaganda of the communist rebels, the government “wants nothing but peace.” “We support the peace talks. However, you cannot demand peace yet do violence and plot the downfall of the government,” he said. Peace negotiations require an enabling environment for both sides to genuinely hear each other and arrive at sincere agreements, added the DILG chief. Año reiterated his support for the President’s position that the peace talks be held in the country. Likewise, he said that no hostilities and regrouping during the cease fire, and no collection of revolutionary taxes and attacks on government projects should be undertaken by rebels during peace talks. Año urges the communists “to reciprocate the sincerity of the government. How can we build mutual trust if the Left has been using the ceasefires to strengthen their ranks in their continuing bid to topple the government?” He added that should the peace talks totally collapse, they can always pursue localized peace talks led by Local Government Units (LGU) so long as the local governments do not concede any aspect of governance and pursuant to guidance from the Cabinet Security Cluster. Nonetheless, he said that, with or without peace talks, the DILG welcomes rebels who will lay down their arms and return to mainstream society. A number of New People’s Army rebels surrendered to the government this week, including over a hundred in Bukidnon.

Batanes dengue patients airlifted

Dengue patients from Batanes received Air Medical Evacuation assistance from Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) recently. Itbayat, one of the most isolated islands in Batanes, was hardest hit with 23 cases, mostly children. Three were in critical condition due to low platelet count and were in need of immediate medical attention and evacuation. Batanes Governor Marilou H. Cayco asked NOLCOM’s help for the med-evac. Itbayat’s lone hospital does not have the capability to treat patients infected with the dengue virus. Two doctors from Basco have to be brought to Itbayat to help treat and prevent the outbreak in the island municipality. NOLCOM responded immediately with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in transporting patients for emergency treatment using a C295 plane.

Defense chief shares PH disaster ordeals

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana joined the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia one of the main speakers last July 3. The conference aims to accelerate efforts in the Asian region to reduce and prevent disaster losses through implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). “Today, we reiterate our collective commitment to the priorities of the Sendai Framework and its seven global targets,” Lorenzana said. Lorenzana said the Philippines faces natural and human-induced hazards and is exposed to evolving risks related to the changing climate patterns. Saving lives a priority “Our primary goal remains to be the protection of lives and prevention of losses in productive assets and protection of our economy. It is our aspiration to ensure safer, disaster-resilient, and climate change-adaptive Filipino communities.” said Lorenzana. “Our country commits to the use of science, technology, and innovations (STI) in understanding hazards and risks to societies, and in providing science-informed solutions to pervasive but predictable and manageable threats,” also Lorenzana said. Co-organized by the Mongolian government and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the 2018 AMCDRR is a three-day event attended by 2,500 participants, including representatives from over 50 countries and 1,500 organizations in the Mongolian capital.

3 NPA rebels slain in North Cotabato

The 19th Infantry Commando Battalion (19IB) clashed with 50 New People’s Army (NPA) fighters yesterday in North Cotabato, resulting to at least three fatalities on the side of the rebels. Lieutenant Colonel Ehrlich Paraso, 19IB commanding officer, said they were tipped off by civilians about rebel activities in the area. The bodies of the dead NPA members were retrieved along with an M16 rifle. The firefight lasted for one hour. Meanwhile, six NPA members surrendered to the 3rd Civil Military Operations (CMO) Company at Carranglan, Nueva Ecija Thursday. One caliber .30 M1 Garand rifle, one US carbine M1 rifle with one magazine, one US Springfield M1903 bolt action rifle, two 12 gauge shot gun with six live ammunition and one magazine, and one 16 Gauge shot gun with four live ammunition were turned over by the six returnees to the government authorities. The six returnees will be given livelihood assistance. In Impasugong, Bukidnon, 118 NPA members pledged loyalty to the government in a ceremony at Barangay Bulonay on Thursday.

P47-M drugs seized in Manila

Police authorities yesterday confiscated around seven kilograms of suspected crystal meth or “shabu” with an estimated value of P47.6 million from a drug pusher in a buy-bust operation in San Andres Bukid, Manila. Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde identified the suspect as Joshir Bernardo, 29, who was arrested at around 4 a.m. in Barangay 779, Zone 57 in San Andres Bukid. The buy-bust operation was launched by joint elements of the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit of the National Capital Region Police Office and Manila Police District-Police Station 6 in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-National Capital Region. The recovered shabu and evidence were brought to the Crime Laboratory for further examination. Albayalde said Bernardo is also associated with a drug group of a suspected drug lord identified as Loloy Hernandez who is currently detained at the Taguig City Jail.

BIFF bandits routed in Maguindanao

Combined police and military forces repelled an attempt by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to seize control of the town of Datu Paglas in Maguindanao Tuesday. The BIFF bandits were forced to flee after nine hours of fighting starting at around 5 a.m., according to a report reaching Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry Batallion, said the BIFF was led by one Sulaiman Tudon. Musa Kalim, a suspected BIFF leader, was critically-wounded. Three soldiers were also wounded in the operation which saw the military use attack helicopters and armored vehicles. “We confronted enemy snipers and (defused) improvised bombs as we seized the areas previously occupied by the terrorists,” said Cabunoc. “We also wanted to contain the fighting outside of the highly populated area some 500 meters away,” he added. Seeing action against the BIFF were elements of the local police, the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade composed of the 33rd Infantry (Makabayan) Battalion and the 4th Special Action Battalion of the AFP. The BIFF bandits were flushed out from previously occupied positions in Sitio Mopac of Barangay Poblacion, just 500 meters away from the town hall. Some 500 people who escaped the fighting were sheltered at the municipal building. According to intelligence reports, the group of Tudon wanted to impose Islamic law on the residents of Datu Paglas.

AFP blasts Sison’s duplicity

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Colonel Edgard Arevalo on Tuesday urged President Duterte to terminate the ongoing dialogue with Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NDFP) led by Jose Maria Sison. The AFP official is fed up with Sison and his alleged duplicity when the communist organization talks of peace but secretly continues to undermine the peace negotiations. According to Arevalo, the AFP is willing to support ‘a peace talk that embodies the desire of the people to put an end to this fighting’ and not the version of ‘peace talks’ proposed by the CPP-NDFP. “Regroup, refurbish, recruit and recover lost grounds – these are the CPP-NDFP’s plan while negotiating for peace that is only favorable to them,” Arevalo said. He also said the AFP supports ‘localized peace talks’ where local government units negotiate with the local terrorists and their members even as army forces will ensure peace and security. An indigenous peoples group numbering 646 signed a resolution calling the government and President Duterte to put an end to the NDFP peace talks and the ceasefire with the NPA. “We are the indigenous people (IP) of Mindanao composed of 18 major ethnographic tribes, and located in 25 provinces of Mindanao occupying an ancestral domain with a land area of 5.7 million hectares. Our total population is roughly 10 million or 50 percent of the total Mindanao population has come up with this resolution. As the representatives, we have been exposed, seen and heard more than a century of historical injustice and almost 50 years of social injustice and the violation of our human rights by the CPP-NDF,” Arevalo quoted the indigenous people group in an abstract of the resolution. The AFP also welcomed the move by the Department of Justice revoking the bail granted to CPP-NDF personalities now on temporary liberty.

P139B worth of PAF projects in the works

The second horizon of the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization program will be implemented in 2022, announced President Rodrigo Duterte at the 71st founding anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at Villamor Airbase, Pasay City. The AFP modernization included 16 projects amounting to P139 billion for the PAF, which President Duterte said is already in the pipeline. Together with PAF Commanding General Lieutenant General Galileo Gerard Kintanar, Jr., the President bestowed awards to commendable PAF groups and personnel who performed exemplary military service. The commander in chief urged the Air Force to be vigilant against terrorism in the country. Present in the PAF founding anniversary were PAF officials, former PAF Commanding Generals, uniformed and non-uniformed personnel, Cabinet secretaries and members of the diplomatic corps. This year’s founding anniversary theme was “PAF@71: Blue Team at Top Speed Integrating Efforts in Regaining Air Defense Capabilities for Peace and Resilient Development.”

4 suspects in Fr. Nilo’s slay nabbed

Four new suspects in the killing of Catholic priest Richmond Nilo -- including alleged mastermind Manuel Torres and gunman Omar Mallari -- are now in police custody. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde identified the other suspects as Homer Garcia and Allan Maniacop during a press conference at Camp Crame in Quezon City. Central Luzon police director Chief Supt. Amador Corpus said Torres promised to pay Mallari P100,000 to kill the priest for accusing a nephew of rape and molesting altar boys. Of the amount, P80,000 had been paid Mallari by Torres, said police officials including Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Roel Obusan. Corpus said Torres ordered the killing because the parish priest of San Vicente Ferrer in Zaragosa town supported a rape case against his nephew Christopher Torres. Fr. Nilo was killed last June 10 inside the Nueva Señora Delas Nieve Chapel where he was supposed to celebrate mass. The rape case derailed the entry of the younger Torres, a seminarian, into priesthood, according to investigation. Last week, one Adell Roll Milan was cleared by a court of any involvement in the Nilo slaying, in what prosecutors and the police admitted to be a case of mistaken identity. According to Albayalde, they did not stop looking for other suspects even if a witness had already pointed at Milan as the alleged gunman. The prosecutor and the police said Milan’s family was able to prove he was in a drinking session with friends during the killing. “We didn’t stop our investigation to give justice (to the victim) whoever the suspects are,” said Albayalde. “Even though the sacristan (altar boy) pointed at Milan as the alleged suspect, we didn’t stop there because we know that there are more,” Albayalde added. The police had looked into several other motives for the killing, including a land dispute involving Nilo’s relatives.
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