Marawi crisis in final stages says WESTMINCOM

Legazpi City (July 10, 2017) – An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared today that the Marawi crisis may finally be over in a few days.

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In a radio interview, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commanding officer of the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) announced that, as a matter of fact, the AFP is now focusing on the start of the rehabilitation efforts of the city.

Galvez claims that security forces have cornered Maute-led fighters in a sector of the eastern portion of Marawi and added that their number may now be down to about 80.

The general said that it won’t be long before these terrorists either surrender or are killed in the firefight.

He however admitted that although there are reports that about two or three of the Maute brothers have been slain, the remnants of the armed militants are still being led by members of the Maute family and by Abu Sayyaf Group Isnilon Hapilon.

Galvez also confirmed the presence of at least 11 Indonesian fighters in the group and other foreigners like Malaysians, Saudis and a Singaporean.

The officer disclosed that this goes to show that the attack on Marawi was well planned and that the operations gave the terrorists time to stack-up on ammunition and supplies.

He added that this theory was corroborated by a captured Maute fighter a few days back.

Meanwhile, Galvez also stated that while they had tactical reasons for the airstrikes, it was the eastern part of the city that bore the brunt of the aerial bombardment.

The general said that even before the siege, this part of Marawi has long been a sanctuary for militants who may have engaged in criminal activities.

This is also the part of the city, according to him, where the rebels are still holed up thus the need to flush them out with the airstrikes. (J. Garalde)

Bus operators shun LTFRB Driving Academy project

Legazpi City (June 19, 2017) – What can a one-day seminar do to immediately resolve the issues?

This was the reaction of Alex Yague, executive director of the Provincial Bus Operators Association (PBOAP) about a government-sponsored seminar for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers.

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In its efforts to address several issues concerning PUVs, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is conducting a seminar for drivers.

Dubbed as a “Driving Academy” of sorts, it would school these professional drivers on franchise clarification, anger management and road rage among others.

Yague explained that there are already several practices in place which would warrant the dependability and professionalism of drivers they are hiring.

For their part, the executive director explained that almost all operators implement an orientation and apprenticeship program wherein rookie drivers are tutored by those more experienced on the routes or trips taken by the buses.

According to him, that is aside from government requirements like professional drivers’ licenses and national competency certifications from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Yague added that it would be too much of a burden for a provincial bus driver to be out of work for a couple of days just to attend this “refresher course.”

With regards to road rage, he exclaimed that most of those involved in these incidents are not PUV drivers but private vehicles who have the propensity to carry firearms inside their cars.

It would be recalled that Atty. Aileen Lourdes Lizada, board member of the LTFRB recently announced that this one-day seminar would hopefully tackle apprehensions about road and public safety.

The LTFRB spokesperson stated that their office have partnered with several academic and professional institutions for promoting responsible driving for the safety of the general public.

She detailed that among them are the Ateneo de Manila School of Government who will be providing a module on road safety.

For their part, the De La Salle University Psychology Department, according to her, would be supplying the module on road rage and anger management.

Also participating in the project, Lizada revealed, is the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) who will be giving inputs on safety and efficiency regarding technical and mechanical issues of vehicles.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Center for Transportation Studies would also be helping in developing other modules for the project.

Finally, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) would also be giving refreshers on traffic signs and pavement markings while the LTFRB would be reminding the drivers about the responsibilities and details of the franchises granted to PUV operators.

Lizada explained that this will be just the first phase of the project wherein the Memorandum Circular would come out on July of this year. (J. Garalde)

PH warned on Chinese debt trap

Legazpi City (April 17, 2017) – A former security official warned the Philippine government of Chinese intentions regarding its latest aid package to the country.

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Speaking in a television interview over ANC, former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez cautioned government policy-makers of what he called the “Chinese debt trap.”

Golez explained that the People’s Republic of China has now implemented a “charm offensive” to various neighbours not only in Southeast Asia but also in the Indian Ocean.

He reminds the administration that China remains a claimant of territories in the West Philippine Sea some of which are part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The former legislator remarked that China have already implemented such foreign policy to countries some of which have fallen to its set-up.

Golez cited some economic woes of Sri Lanka which he believes are results of their mishandling of Chinese loans granted to them.

He evaluates that the Sri Lankan government may now be beholden to Chinese influence because of the former’s failure to properly implement the payment of the loans.

The former naval officer offered a solution for the Philippines citing the advances of Vietnam.

Golez expounded that Vietnam despite its recovery from war, was able to thwart any influential attempts by China.

He said that Vietnam balanced its economic and defense programs making it a force in the region China should contend with.

With this, Golez, who is also a university professor, suggested that the Philippines may adopt the Vietnam strategy if it were to remain firm in protecting its territory and its interests. (J. Garalde)

More rogue cops to be arrested this week – DILG

Legazpi City (Jan. 30, 2017) – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is expecting that a number of police scalawags would be exposed if not arrested within the week.

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This was announced today by DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno after a comprehensive establishing of a counter-intelligence group within the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to Sueno, the primary task of this group is to investigate and file cases against police officers involved in illegal activities.

The secretary revealed that most of these personalities have already been identified and are expected to be indicted this week.

He said that they have handpicked PNP officers with a high degree of integrity.

Sueno said that consequently, similar units will be organized throughout the country for the same purpose.

This is the latest move of the DILG following the public’s outcry to rid the PNP of felons following the kidnap-slaying of a Korean national perpetrated by police officers.

The circumstances worsened by yet another report that a couple of other Korean nationals were “arrested” and released after paying a hefty sum of money.

Critics of the Duterte administration have blamed the government’s war on drugs as having emboldened several law enforcement agents to go into illegal activities.

Senator Risa Hontiveros during the recent legislative hearing appealed to the leadership of the PNP to re-think or suspend their strategy of the drug campaign.

The leadership however reiterated that there would be no let-up in the drive but instead promised to strengthen the internal fight against police offenders. (J. Garalde)

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Rogue cops part of groups that want drug war shamed – PNP

Legazpi City (Jan. 19, 2017) – The head of the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (PNP-AIDG) have launched an investigation into reports that certain groups are out to discredit the government’s war on drugs.

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Police Senior Superintendent Albert Ferro, officer-in-charge of the PNP-AIDG said that these groups appear to be well-funded.

The police official suspects that the groups’ network is so extensive that it may possibly include politicians, businessmen and police officers who are either retired or still in active service.

With this, Ferro assured the public that the PNP is serious in what they termed as ‘internal cleansing’ to rid the institution of undesirables.

He articulated that the latest incident where the killing of a Korean national involved several active policemen affirmed the continued existence of these so-called ‘ninja cops.’

The term was coined by the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when it went after several rogue police officers several months back.

Ferro used to be assigned at the CIDG under Police Director Benjamin Magalong.

Their investigation led to the arrest of several of their own CIDG officers in one of their provincial offices in Central Luzon.

The trail eventually led them to the discovery of the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Ferro believes that the latest police scoundrels involved in the slaying of the Korean national may be part of these groups.

The suspects committed the crime in the guise of a legitimate drug sting.

Meanwhile Ferro appealed to the media and the public not to confuse Oplans Tokhang and Double Barrel with these unlawful police operations.

Instead, he said, it must be called as it is: Agaw-Bato, Hulidap and the like.

Terms like ‘tokhang-for-ransom’, according to him, tend to demean the tireless efforts of the government in the anti-drug campaign.

To date, the two-million pesos reward from the president for the arrest of ‘ninja-cops’ still stand. (J. Garalde)