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)

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)

Cabinet ‘triumvirate’ accused of blocking DAR plans

Legazpi City (Jan. 17, 2017) – A party-list representative accused three cabinet members of stalling plans of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in its efforts to attain a genuine program for the Filipino farmers.

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Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anak-Pawis particularly named Sec. Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Sec. Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Sec. Carlos Dominguez of the Department of Finance (DOF).

Casilao said that the proposal of DAR Sec. Rafael Mariano to impose a moratorium on land conversion, among others, had been allegedly opposed time and again by these three secretaries.

Based on the DAR secretary’s argument, the continuous conversion of agricultural lots into other uses have significantly decreased not only the opportunities of farmers to own land but also agricultural production as well.

Casilao explained it was a positive move on Pres. Duterte’s side to appoint a DAR secretary who understood the issues.

This however, would have little bearing if there are so-called economic managers who think otherwise.

The militant legislator pointed out that seven out of 10 Filipino farmers still do not own the land they are tilling.

At the moment, according to Casilao, genuine land reform advocates are scrambling to have new law passed since RA 6657 or The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 had already outlived its purpose.

The legislator lamented that it was a failure of a law.

So far, several solons have already seen the need to pass a new law to continue the reforms.

They are, pessimistic however if this move would even be considered by the cabinet or the so-called super majority in the House of Representatives. (J. Garalde)

Duterte erratic on Martial Law – Lagman

Legazpi City (Jan. 16, 2017) – “We cannot predict the authoritarian tendencies of the president.”

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This was the response of opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman of Albay when asked about the statements of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte about Martial Law.

The congressman said that the president is very inconsistent in his statements.

He pointed out that at first, Duterte announced that he does not need Martial Law.

Later, according to Lagman, the chief executive had a reversal when he said that nobody can stop him if he decided to declare Martial Law.

The Bicolano legislator described the Philippine president as a ‘menacing pendulum’ saying that the war on drugs cannot be a basis to declare military rule.

He emphasized that there is no provision in the Philippine Constitution justifying such declaration on the basis of the campaign against criminality.

With this, Lagman reminded the president that 74% of Filipinos are not in favour of the rebirth of Martial Law.

This is despite, according to him, the safeguards provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

On the other hand, Sec. Salvador Panelo was quick to defend the recent assertions of Pres. Duterte saying that it is the president’s constitutional duty to protect the welfare of the people and preserve the country.

The presidential legal counsel downplayed public apprehension saying that Martial Law was being considered only if the drug problem continues to worsen.

Otherwise, he said that there was nothing to worry about.

Panelo underlined that Duterte is not Marcos and if ever such a declaration is made, there are still conditions in the constitution that would protect the rights of the people.  (J. Garalde)

Tokhang, double-barrel set for illegal gambling

Legazpi City (Jan. 10, 2017) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has already detailed plans ready for the implementation of their campaign against illegal gambling in the country.

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According to Police Director General Reynaldo ‘Bato’ de la Rosa, the plans are patterned after the Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel of the PNP’s war on illegal drugs.

This means that police would also be roaming around to knock on doors and plead with people to stop their illegal gambling operations.

The head of the PNP said that they will be concentrating on flourishing unlicensed on-line gambling particularly ‘cyber-sabong’ or on-line gambling.

Included in the operations will be several number games not sanctioned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

De la Rosa explained that this was the marching orders of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte following the anticipated success of the government’s war on drugs.

The general said he would be presenting the detailed plans to the president for his review and approval at the soonest time possible.

Meanwhile, media reports tagged a certain Manny Co, a Filipino-Chinese as being behind the biggest ‘cyber-sabong’ in country.

This operator purportedly rakes in about 2 billion pesos a month in bets.

It would be recalled that the president ordered the closure of a gambling operation in Pampanga operated by a foreigner named Jack Lam.

The closure paved the way to a bribe-giving controversy involving to officials from the Bureau of Immigration.

One of the campaign promises of Duterte was the shutting down of illegal gambling operations, a promise which supporters say, the president is going to fulfill. (J. Garalde)