The Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sought the help of the International Legal Cooperation Unit of the department regarding the possible extradition of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison.
“AFP sought the help of our international legal cooperation unit on this matter. Our international legal cooperation unit handles extradition and mutual legal assistance concerns,” said DoJ Undersecretary and spokesman Markk Perrete.
Perete said Sison kas obtained asylum in Utrecht, Netherland thus they are studying remedies to take.
“We understand though Mr. Sison has obtained asylum so they are studying what remedies to take given his status,” Perete said.
Last Friday the AFP said it would coordinate with other concerned agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), DoJ and the international police on the arrest of communist leader Sison.
AFP spokesman Marine Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo in a statement said: “We may not be able to serve the warrant right away as they are outside our jurisdiction. But we are not without recourse.”
Arevalo though said that they are sure that the long arm of the law will soon catch up on Sison and his cohorts.
He expressed elation over the issuance of a warrant of arrest against The Netherlands-based communist leader as well as his wife and 36 others.
Issued last 28 August in connection with the case for the 2006 discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte that purportedly contained the bones of victims of the alleged purging by the New People’s Army in the 1980s.
The AFP spokesman promised to continue to go after communist terrorists who perpetrated dastardly, cowardly and devilish acts.
Arevalo said they are as devoted as other agencies of government are in bringing them to the bar of justice and answer for the crime most painful against the bereaved families of the victims who continue to live in a day-to-day anguish.
He also underscored that the communist rebels were committing a “crime against humanity.”
Also ordered arrested aside from Sison, for 15 counts of murder were Rodolfo Salas alias “Ka” Bilog, Leo Velasco, Jose Luneta, Geronimo Pasetes, Prudencio Calubid and Luis Jalandoni, a senior adviser of the CPP’s political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Go hails extension of state of calamity
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has lauded the extension of the state of calamity in the country, saying it will ensure the continuity of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“As the COVID-19 virus continues to threaten the public’s health and safety, it is imperative that we continue to remain vigilant and focused on preventing a bigger outbreak as well as addressing the urgent needs facing our people,” said Go who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.
“With the end of the six months long state of calamity, I call on all government agencies to use this time to reexamine how we can improve efforts to combat this virus, reevaluate our capabilities, review the lessons we’ve learned, and consider new legislative solutions that may strengthen our response to future public health emergencies,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently issued Proclamation 1021 extending the state of calamity from 13 September to 12 September, 2021, “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”
On 16 March, Duterte signed Proclamation 929 that placed the country under a state of calamity for a period of six months and imposed a community quarantine throughout the island of Luzon.
Other areas in the country were eventually placed under varying quarantine measures through time.
The declaration also enabled the national government and local government units to access the necessary funds for its response efforts as well as to intensify government response and measures, such as easing procurement processes, mandatory reporting, and enforcing quarantine and disease control prevention measures.
With the extension, Go called on the Department of Health (DoH) to use the opportunity to plan, implement and strengthen its efforts against COVID-19 and other health threats, particularly in the area of disease surveillance and contact tracing.
“Contact tracing and targeted testing play a big part in our fight against COVID-19. We have to improve our disease surveillance and control capabilities so that the country is prepared for any health crisis,” he said.
The senator pushed for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1528 which he filed that aims to amend Republic Act 11332, also known as the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”
The proposed measure will strengthen disease surveillance and control capabilities by improving contact tracing capacities and testing effectiveness.
Specifically, the bill directs the DoH to develop clear guidelines on the systematic reporting and recording of diseases and other similar important developments in health that are of public concern.
Moreover, it mandates the establishment of sub-national laboratories in every DoH-run regional hospital in the country.
The laboratories shall have the capacity to undertake testing, diagnosis, control and prevention of infectious diseases. It also gives LGU the freedom to set up their own laboratories subject to the accreditation and approval of the health department.
The bill likewise directs LGU to establish their own epidemiology and surveillance units.
Finally, SB 1528 mandates the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to assist the DoH in its contact tracing efforts.
To complement these efforts, Go also called for the urgent passage of SB 1451 or the “Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020” which shall give the health secretary the authority to mobilize, with compensation, health-trained individuals during times of national emergencies to increase the existing health force.
If passed, all individuals with degrees in medicine, nursing, medical technology and other health-related fields who have yet to obtain their licenses may be deployed to support emergency response efforts.
Isko hails DENR for Manila Bay project
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Saturday hailed the efforts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to clean up and beautify Manila Bay.
Domagoso made the remark in celebration of the International Day of Coastal Clean-up.
Domagoso said previous administrations have neglected to rehabilitate the bay area except on occasions when garbage had to be collected from the bay.
Turning his guns on government critics, Moreno said they are free to express their opinions, but as far as Manilans are concerned, the beautification of the Manila Bay is appreciated and recognized.
“Don’t drag Manila in politics. We need this, we need a clean sea, a clean river, a clean creek so the next generation can enjoy a vibrant and clean Manila,” Domagoso said.
Moreno reminded critics that the government is not the enemy.
“The DENR is not the enemy. The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and DA (Department of Agriculture) are not the enemies. The enemy is perhaps near you, COVID-19. That’s the true enemy,” Moreno said.
“While we respect our different views, we must maintain in our heart and mind that we are all Filipino that has responsibility to the country, community and environment,” he added.
In jest, Moreno thanked those who opposed the white sands on Manila Bay for putting the city in the limelight.
For his part, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the Manila bay rehabilitation project was started two years ago and the dolomite sand at the bay is part of the second stage.
Water treatment plants have been installed in river ways not only in Manila but in other waterways to see to it that water from canals, creeks and the will be filtered and rid of organic dirt before it enters Manila Bay, according to Cimatu.
Meanwhile, various government agencies and private organizations on Saturday spearheaded the Manila Bay clean up and collected trash in the area in observance of International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Personnel from the the Bureau of Fire Department, Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Health joined other government employees for the cleanup activity on Roxas Boulevard.
The local Lions Club, on the other hand, was among the private organizations that joined the activity.
Earlier, the DENR said it is fast-tracking the dumping of synthetic white sand along the shores of Manila Bay for the clean-up day.
Stranded seafarers repatriation vowed
Speaking in behalf of the maritime cluster of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has vowed to do its best to repatriate Filipino seafarers stuck in vessels in different ports abroad, and send out those who are waiting here to be deployed to perform their long-been halted jobs.
This is following the recent consensus outcry of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and United Nations attached agencies and bodies, on member States to establish and implement measurable, time-bound plans to increase the rate regarding crew changes.
In a virtual presser Friday, Marina Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said the country’s maritime regulators has been dilligently doing efforts for the Philippines to be International Hub for Crew Change in Asia.
He said one of the efforts that the whole maritime sector has been spearheading is the establishment of One-Stop Shop (OSS) to crew change concentrated and designated ports, namely Manila, Subic and Bataan.
Empedrad emphasized that these OSS guide arriving seafarers in performing and obeying safety health protocols, since its full-swing operation last August.
“My heart goes to all the seafarers out there. Marina will do everything it can to repatriate stranded seafarers and help seafarers at home to be deployed in their respective ships,” said Empedrad.
Meanwhile, DoTr for Maritime Assistant Secretary Narciso Vingson admitted that it will be hard for them to heed the call of ILO and UN attached agencies, as their hands are basically tied because of the strict health protocols being imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“As early as April we already moved and opened our ports and airports in order for our seafarers to go home with their families and in their hometown. But the problem is, we cannot compromise our local population here. We still need to abide to health and safety protocols being imposed by the IATF,” said Vingson in an interview.
He said the DoTr, so far, has opened ports of Capinpin in Bataan, Subic, and Manila to be crew change hubs, and will soon open more ports, such as Davao, Cebu and Batangas.
“With regards to increasing of flights in airports, we are not the authority to decide, since the maritime cluster only governs seaports. But when we opened up our seaports for crew change, we have catered about 54,000 seafarers, including foreign nationals. While in our airports, 80,000 Filipino seafarers have been catered to and have reunited with their families,” Vingson told the Daily Tribune.
Documents link communists, legal fronts
The death of a female New People’s Army (NPA) rebel led to the discovery of documents that could cement the ties between the communist movement and its alleged legal fronts.
Combined forces from the military and police figured in a clash with insurgents in Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro earlier this week that resulted in the death of the rebel whose identity is still being verified by authorities.
Recovered from the encounter in Barangay Gapasan were one 9mm pistol, three improvised explosive devices (IED), one rifle grenade, and subversive documents Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Bayan and Anakbayan.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Arbolado, 4th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, disclosed that the materiel recovered by troopers showed proof that “supported the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF ELCAC’s claims on the controversial issue against the Makabayan Bloc’s underground connection to the terrorist organizations.”
Security forces said the communist terrorists belonged to Platoon Serna of the NPA Sub Regional Military Area 4D’s MAV that terrorizes the hinterland communities of the province.
“We acted upon a concerned citizen’s tip about the presence of an armed group which were coercing the people to support and provide shelter to the insurgents whom we previously engaged with,” Arbolado said.
He added that there were no reported casualties from the government forces’ side.
Col. Augusto Villareal, commander of the 203rd Brigade that has operational jurisdiction over Mindoro, blasted the Makabayan bloc’s “unnacceptable act” of being in cahoots with the communist movement.
“We will ensure the dead NPA rebel’s remains will only be handed over to those legally authorized to claim their bodies so that they will be given the last respects that every human being deserves instead of being desecrated,” stated Villareal.
The official was referring to past instances where remains of slain insurgents were taken by those who claimed to be their family members only to be paraded and used as propaganda tool to advance the Reds’ “ideology”under the guise of being “martyrs of the revolution.”
All available military assets as well as checkpoints set up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police are now on high alert in support of the ongoing pursuit operations against the fleeing NPA terrorists.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, the parent organization of the NPA, is considered by the US State Department, European Union, and other countries as a foreign terrorist organization along with the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group.
No need to be grateful
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday said that there is no need to thank the western countries in supporting the Philippines in its arbitral award on the ownership of the South China Sea.
“Europe joined other Western Johnnies Come Lately in upholding the Arbitral Award. Should we be grateful? No,” he wrote on Twitter.
Lcosin said that the award is warranted as part of the International law and was a victory achieved solely by the Philippines.
“The Award needs nothing more from anyone; it is International Law. If we had depended on anyone but ourselves alone we’d have been sold out. The Award was a solo victory,” he added.
This came after retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that Filipinos should be thankful for their support, especially in rejecting China’s historical claims.
“The FIlipino people should be deeply thankful to these countries for supporting the arbitral award and ensuring that the rule of law will prevail in the oceans and seas of our planet,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Earlier, United Kingdom, France, and Germany expressed their rejection to China’s expansive claim over the disputed sea stating that it does not adhere to the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In a note verbale, they emphasized that there will be no changes to the mandated international law even with various land building activities or artificial transformation done within the vicinity of the area.
‘Smart campuses’ get P3B
Congress has earmarked P3 billion in fresh funding to enable “smart campuses” in 112 state universities and colleges (SUC), according to Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr., House Appropriations Committee vice chairperson.
“We’ve provided P3 billion in new appropriations to help SUC quickly develop digitally connected campuses where devices and applications create new experiences that benefit students, faculty and their surrounding communities,” Campos said.
“Students may soon be able to attend classroom lectures remotely from the comfort of their dormitory rooms and use their smartphones to access their grades, pay for meals in campus and borrow books from the library,” Campos added.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act that President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on 11 September, Campos said SUC can use the P3 billion to fast-track the integration of digital technologies into their learning and administrative systems.
Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store and process data.
1,200 medical workers allowed to depart
More nurses and medical workers will be allowed to depart the country for employment abroad once President Rodrigo Duterte approves the recommendation of expanding the deployment ban exemption, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Friday.
During the Laging Handa public briefing, Bello said they expect more than 1,200 healthcare workers to be deployed abroad if the exemption is extended to 31 August.
“[We] are still waiting for IATF approval for their recommendation to extend extension,” he said.
Bello stressed however that only healthcare workers with perfected documents including visa as of 31 August will be allowed to leave.
“Our nurses should have acquired clarified contract of employment, visa and also OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate) coming from the (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) POEA. Once they completed the documents, then they can be deployed,” Bello said.
According to the labor chief, the government has initially allowed the deployment of at least 900 nurses and medical workers with employment papers secured as of 8 March.
Last April, the POEA issued Resolution 9, temporarily suspending the deployment of all healthcare workers “until the national state of emergency is lifted.”
LGU chiefs laud DU30 declaration
The circumstances that led to the declaration of a State of Calamity on 16 March remain present, and it’s clear that we need to extend it as it expired last Tuesday, 15 September.
A group of local chief executives welcomed yesterday the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend the validity of a declaration placing the entire country under a state of calamity, saying the move would enable local government units (LGU) to sustain their efforts against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) national president and Quirino Governor Dax Cua said the extension provides for LGU to utilize their Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Quick Reaction Fund (QRF) uninterruptedly meant for aiding their constituents while also mitigating the impact of the contagion.
“The circumstances that led to the declaration of a State of Calamity on 16 March remain present, and it’s clear that we need to extend it as it expired last Tuesday, 15 September,” Cua said in a statement Friday.
“Our efforts and cooperation in slowing the spread of COVID-19 is non-stop. Extending the state of calamity gives us the resources we need to overcome this pandemic and properly care for all our constituents,” he added.
The President last 16 March issued Proclamation 929 putting the entire nation under a State of Calamity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This authorizes local governments to spend the QRF and other available, appropriate funds for their disaster preparedness and response efforts to arrest the spread of the viral respiratory disease, especially in providing basic services to those hardest hit by the crisis.
Proclamation 929 also enjoins concerned government agencies and LGUs “to render full assistance to and cooperation with each other and mobilize the necessary resources to undertake critical, urgent, and appropriate disaster response aid and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the threat of Covid-19.”
It likewise allows the fast-tracking of buying essential goods and payment of needed services vital in the LGUs’ respective anti-coronavirus initiatives.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque last Thursday, 17 September 2020, said the extension order is “probably signed by now” and is just awaiting transmission to the Office of the Executive Secretary for implementation.
Sinas promotion a PNP prerogative — Eleazar
Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Chief for Administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Friday clarified that the reported promotion of National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Major General Debold Sinas is the prerogative of the PNP’s top cop.
In a television interview, Eleazar stressed that the promotion of Sinas — who was previously involved in a controversial mañanita that allegedly violated health protocols — is up to PNP chief Police General Camilo Cascolan.
Cascolan announced that Sinas “deserves” a promotion despite holding a birthday party that went viral on social media for violating quarantine rules.
“That is the prerogative of the Chief PNP. He is the head of our organization and he knows who should occupy PNP positions,” Eleazar said.
Sinas previously drew the ire of the public over a pre-dawn birthday serenade at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City that reportedly breached the 10-people limit on gatherings meant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte refused to sack Sinas, even while Luzon was, at the time, still under strict lockdown.
The NCRPO chief also made headlines in July over his viral confrontation with the family of a retired officer that he and his men asked to leave from a government compound in Taguig City.
Cascolan said he earlier reshuffled 11 or 12 PNP officials due to the retirement of some of their colleagues. He said he also transferred 2 or 3 officers so he could put “the right person for the right job.”
“We need people that are snappy, good and has that moral ascendancy, and at the same time, service reputation to lead,” said Cascolan in an earlier statement.
Cascolan disclosed that he cancelled a “midnight appointment” by Gamboa concerning the PNP’s health service. He declined to name the officials involved, saying they were “also a victim.”
“I don’t have people that I choose. They’re all my people. I am a father and brother to all of them,” he said.
“All officers come and go. They know for a fact that when we have already served and we are being assigned for promotion, that will be good for us and we always follow orders.”
Eleazar, for his part, stressed that there will be really a movement of personnel in the PNP.
“When somebody retires, there will be a movement of personnel, especially if the position is occupied by a two-star general. A 1-star general will take his place and that could lead to a reshuffle,”he said.
In a related development, the PNP on Friday launched the “Bayaning Pulis Foundation, Inc.” – an initiative aimed in making sure children and dependents of police personnel who perished or permanently disabled while in the line of duty will stay in school.
The foundation will provide educational assistance to the beneficiaries from elementary to college. In partnership with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI),
“This is a high impact project as part of the realization of PNP P.A.T.R.O.L 2030, and this time, it aims to secure the welfare and benefit of dependents of PNP personnel who died or permanently incapacitated in line of duty,” Cascolan said during the PNP and PCCI’s signing of the Articles and Incorporation and By-Laws of the foundation held at 8 Meridian in Pasay City.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation ordered the PNP to implement physical distancing in public transportation to ensure compliance.
The order came after the reduction of the minimum social distance from 1 meter to 0.75 meters that started last Monday. From 0.75 meters it will also be reduced to 0.5 meters starting 25 September and from 0.5 meters it will be reduced to 0.3 meters starting 12 October.
With Paula Antolin, Kristina Maralit