Friday, October 21, 2016

TRADOC deploys 3 platoons for HADR missions in Tarlac

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): TRADOC deploys 3 platoons for HADR missions in Tarlac

Tarlac-based Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) announced that it has deployed three platoons for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions to disaster-prone communities in the province ahead of Typhoon "Lawin's" arrival Wednesday night.

This was disclosed by TRADOC spokesperson Capt. Alberto Caber in a statement Thursday.

The platoons were deployed in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (RDRRMO) and were equipped with basic mission essential tools and equipment.

“In times like this, we collaborate with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, LGUs (local government units), NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and other civilian stakeholders in the conduct of search and rescue operations in the affected communities. We want them rescued safely," TRADOC commander Brig. Gen. Herminigildo Aquino said.

Tarlac has been placed under Signal Number 2 by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Former rebels in Davao Region receive cash assistance from government

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): Former rebels in Davao Region receive cash assistance from government

A total of 31 former members of the communists New People’s Army (NPA) from various areas in Davao region received cash assistance from the government in a turn over ceremony in Nabunturan town, Compostela Valley on Wednesday.

Captain Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of 10th Infantry (Agila) Division said each of the former rebels received PHP15,000 cash and compensation from the firearms they surrendered to the Philippine Army.

The distribution of cash assistance was led by Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy and supported by the Department of Interior and Local Government in the region (DILG-11) and the army’s 1001st brigade.

A total of PHP465,000 worth of checks were received by the 31 former rebels who came from the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur.

Among those who surrendered were minors profiled by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Compostela Valley, the army’s 1001st brigade. The minors will also receive educational assistance from the government, the army said.

The former rebels were also encouraged to come up with their business plan as attachment to the livelihood assistance worth PHP 50,000 that will be handed to them in the next round of distribution together with the firearms remuneration.

The amount will come from the DILG’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program or CLIP.
Col. Macairog S. Alberto, Commander of 1001st brigade lauded the local government unit of Compostela Valley and the government agencies for the support they provided to the former rebels.

Alberto also assured the former rebels of the government’s continued support with the hope that they would be able to rebuild their lives as they join the mainstream society.

“As a support to Peace Process, we encourage our lost brothers to return to the comfort of their families, enjoy the spirit of Christmas with their loved ones and take advantage of government programs significantly the CLIP for an opportunity to live a peaceful and prosperous life,” Alberto added.

Army deploys 2 squads to Aurora, Nueva Ecija for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 20): Army deploys 2 squads to Aurora, Nueva Ecija for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief missions

The 56th Infantry “Tatag” Battalion, Philippine Army based in Barangay Calabuanan here on Thursday deployed one to two squads for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions to disaster-prone communities in this province and three towns in Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Louie DS. Villanueva said the squads were deployed, in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (MDRRMOs) and also with the barangay officials.

Part of the army’s HADR missions are in the towns of Baler, San Luis, Maria Aurora, Dipaculao, Dingalan, Dinalungan, Casiguran, Dilasag in Aurora and the municipalities of Bongabon, Laur and Gabaldon in Nueva Ecija.

"We are in post operation right now, we assist in repacking and in the distribution of relief goods in the affected communities,” Villanueva said.

Meanwhile, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Amado Elson A. Egargue said some 54,928 persons or 12,754 families affected by typhoon Lawin in this province wherein 18,640 persons or 5,323 families remain inside evacuation centers while 674 persons or 281 families are outside evacuation centers.

"Our office is still gathering other data, assessment is on going,” Egargue added.

2 PAG members killed, 3 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): 2 PAG members killed, 3 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clash

Government forces killed two lawless elements belonging to a Private Armed Group (PAG) and arrested another in an operation conducted Thursday in Gen. Salipada Pendatun town in Maguindanao, the Army here said.

Assorted high powered guns, including a powerful cal. 50 barret sniper's rifle, were confiscated.
Lt. Colonel Ricky Bunayog, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, a brief firefight in Barangay Makaines, led to the arrest of Ryan Mayogantong Bansil, Jr, son of private armed group leader of Mayogantong Bansil Sr who managed to escape.

His group was linked to robbery, carnapping, cattle rustling and extortion.

Bunayog said his unit has provided back-up force to elements of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Three soldiers were injured in the firefight that left two followers of Bansil killed.

Bunayog said Sgt, Aurelio Ferrer, Cpl. Marcial Duri and PFC Denemar Albani, all of 33rd IB, were slightly injured when Bansil's men fired a rifle grenade.

Government forces seized cal. 50 barret rifle, a Garand rifle, an M-16 Armalite rifle, two grenade launchers, three rifle grenades, about 100 ammunition for various caliber.

Armed with search warrants issued by Judge Melenio Guerrero of RTC-12 in Tacurong City against Bansil, police and military forces swooped on the village of Makaines at about 8 a.m. but they were met with bullets from the gang members, triggering a firefight.

Mayogantong is now undergoing interrogation at CIDG office in Cotabato City.

Following the escape of Bansil Sr, the military is seeking the help of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in neutralizing the gang leader.

Abu Sayyaf bandit dies in shootout with Basilan policemen

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): Abu Sayyaf bandit dies in shootout with Basilan policemen

The police have killed a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a clash Friday in Lantawan, Basilan province.

Insp. Alfadda Osalli, Lantawan police chief, identified the slain suspected ASG member as Said Ummal alias Said Usman, a resident of Barangay Bulan-Bulan, Lantawan.

Osalli said Ummal was killed in a shootout Friday in Barangay Bulan-Bulan, Lantawan, which ensued during a law enforcement operation through the service of warrant of arrest.

Osalli disclosed that the slain ASG member has standing warrants of arrest for two counts of murder issued by a court in Isabela City, Basilan.

He said Ummal was also involved in the ambush of a police vehicle on October 2 in Barangay Bulan-Bulan, Lantawan that injured PO1 Anwar Batah.

The policemen were returning to the headquarters after they conducted house visit on drug surrenderers when they were waylaid.

OPAPP: Shift to federal form of gov't to correct historical wrongs

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): OPAPP: Shift to federal form of gov't to correct historical wrongs

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said the shift from the current unitary system to a federal form of government will greatly contribute to the correction of the past wrongdoings committed against the Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and several indigenous communities in the country.

This was stressed in OPAPP Secretary Jesus G. Dureza's speech, delivered Wednesday by senior consultant Jose Lorena, at the the Global Autonomy, Governance, and Federalism Forum 2016.

The speech underscored the role of a federal republic as "just and lasting redress for the powerless, dispossessed, and disenfranchised brought by forceful submission of foreign powers and majority culture."

The said forum was initiated by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Konrad Adenauer Stieftung (KAS) Philippines, two pioneer organizations that have always shown full support for the peace process.

“Federalism destroys the seeds of injustices that cultivated hostilities and violence by directly addressing people’s needs at a grassroots level,” said Lorena, who also served as undersecretary of the OPAPP in the last administration.

The latter also emphasized that having a centralized government would push different regional groups to compete with each other for dominance, leaving certain sectors marginalized.

He cited the struggles of the Bangsamoro and Cordillera people for self-determination which were deeply rooted in forceful submission to a dominant group imposing to them the majority’s cultural, economic and political policies.

“Federalism liberates us from these woes we currently experience and the tyranny of a particular class, group, or sector,” Lorena continued. “In the long-term, federalism can institutionalize permanent peace and sustainable development in our country.”

For his part, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Jah Murad Ebrahim said the creation of the Bangsamoro government under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seeks to correct the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro.

Aside from correcting previous wrongdoings, Murad also shared OPAPP’s current vision that the proposed Bangsamoro entity could be a pilot case study in the current efforts leading to nationwide shift towards a federal system of government.

“If one reads carefully through the pages of the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), then, one cannot but reach the conclusion that powers between Central and the Bangsamoro Governments are meaningfully shared and delegated properly -- a future which is very prominent, it already established federal governments,” Murad said.

The creation of the Bangsamoro government is in step with the proposed constitutional reforms towards federalism.

These formed part of the Bangsamoro roadmap under the six-point peace and development agenda of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“The implementation of the CAB, particularly its political track which means the passage of the restored Bangsamoro Basic Law, must precede the shift from unitary to federal form of government,” Murad stressed.

DSWD assists wounded, detained rallyists; supports call for investigation

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): DSWD assists wounded, detained rallyists; supports call for investigation

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Thursday it is assisting the wounded and injured victims of the violent dispersal of rallyists near the United States Embassy in Manila on Wednesday.

The demonstrators, including students and members of indigenous groups, were then protesting the presence of American troops in the country.

In a dialogue held at the University of the Philippines- Diliman Campus in Quezon City on Thursday, attended by indigenous peoples (IPs) as well as supporters from other groups, DSWD Assistant Secretary Maria Lourdes Turalde-Jarabe told them that DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo personally visited the wounded victims in the hospitals.

“Secretary Taguiwalo also went to the Manila Police District (MPD)… And I want to share to you that those detained yesterday were already released,” Turalde-Jarabe said.

She added that the conditions of policemen allegedly hurt in the dispersal were also checked by the DSWD Chief herself.

“At gusto kong ipaabot na kailangan talaga na imbestigahan ang nangyaring ito… At makikita, sa unang pagtingin pa lang, na hindi patas ang nangyari… Mas marami ang nasugatan po at nasaktan mula sa hanay ng Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya at mga taga-suporta nila (There is really a need for investigation on this matter… And we can see at first glance that unfairness occurred),” she said.

She also told the Lakbayani and supporters that since the Mamamasapano incident, Secretary Taguiwalo and other officials of the department had led in providing assistance to the Lumads.

“Dahil ayaw na ho naming mangyari na bala ang ibinibigay samantalang ang hinihingi ay bigas,” she added, citing that such help was given to the Lumads in Regions 10, 11 and 12 to prove that assistance can be given without resorting to violence to those affected by El Nino.

She repeated the commitment of the agency to continuously bring the needed assistance to the vulnerable IPs and other minorities for the purpose of survival.

“Ang serbisyo na kaya naming ibigay ay hindi po namin ipagkakait…Kami po ay tutulong sa mga kapatid na nangangailangan ng serbisyo at suporta at pangangatawanan po namin na sa pangungunana nito ay walang korupsyon, sisikapin po namin na ang serbisyo ay talagang mapunta sa ating mga kababayan at ito po ang aming gagawin sa mga susunod na araw hanggang sa matapos ang anim na taon namin sa departamento,” she said.

In a related statement, Secretary Taguiwalo said that in her desire to hear the version also of the policemen claiming that they have sustained injuries, she cited her observation that none of them were hurt enough to need to be taken to the hospital.

“They said that the videos of the skirmish that are now circulating speak for themselves and show what really happened, I agreed,” she said.

In speeches during the dialogue and in placards, representatives of Sandugo, a national alliance of Moro and IPs, said they also condemned Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo, deputy director for Operations of the Manila Police District (MPD) who allegedly ordered the dispersal.

They unanimously cited that Pedrozo ordered the police to fight as they feared of how they would be looked upon by the US Embassy if they had done nothing.

According to the testimonies of the rally participants, the violent act was done before other speakers finished airing their grievances in condemning the US, asking for ending of militarization of their rural communities.

In the midst of it all also, DSWD said they will support the declaration of the Philippine National Police that it will conduct an internal investigation to get to the bottom of the violence that transpired.

“It is most unfortunate that such incidents of violence continue to take place despite the existence of the rules of engagement that police officers should follow and implement. These rules are meant to protect civilians during mass actions and democratic protests as well as police officers as well,” the DSWD Chief said.

Secretary Taguiwalo further said respect must come from both sides of the divide — protestors and police forces, but it cannot be denied that the balance of power during protests and dispersal is definitely tipped in favor of the police because they are trained for physical confrontations and armed.

”Because of this, our police and other armed forces must always exercise restraint and circumspection during protests. They must not forget that their role is to serve and protect the citizenry first and foremost,” she added.

Meanwhile, in the press briefing that followed the dialogue, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said that she has filed a resolution urging the House of Representatives to condemn the violent dispersal of the groups led by minorities.

In House Resolution No. 486, Elago also called on the House Committee on Human Rights to conduct a probe and summon to Congress those involved in the violent dispersal of the rallyists.