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    Philippine National Police on full alert for typhoon Ompong

    September 13th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde

    PHILIPPINE chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has placed all Luzon-based police units on full alert to ensure their availability for possible disaster response operations in areas threatened by super typhoon Ompong.

    The alert, which went into effect Thursday, is among the many government responses in anticipation of Ompong, which was likened to super typhoon Yolanda. It will be recalled that Yolanda left a trail of death and destruction after it struck Eastern Visas in 2013.

    Albayalde said he has activated the National Headquarters 1st Level Battle Staff to ensure effective Command and Control of all PNP disaster response operations. Furthermore, the PNP-SAF, Maritime Group, Highway Patrol Group, Police Community Relations Group, Health Service; and all Regional and Provincial Mobile Forces are likewise placed on Full Alert to ensure their rapid availability for possible disaster response and rescue operations.

    These will also augment the police stations that will be affected by the typhoon, Albayalde said during a brief press conference at the PNP Headquarters in Camp Crame.

    Aside from raising the alert level, Albayalde also directed all uniformed personnel to first secure their families so they could fully dedicate themselves to the task at hand. He also said the PNP has readied the relief goods for those who will be affected by the typhoon.

    At the same time, the country’s top cop has directed all PNP provincial, city and municipal offices, including stations, to be ready in undertaking road clearing operations in coordination with the local government units and the Department of Public Works and Highways, especially along national highways and major thoroughfares to allow unhampered movement of emergency vehicles, troops, equipment, supplies and market commodities.

    As this developed, the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command, on Tuesday, has placed on red alert its troops and reservists for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

    According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1 may be raised over the Cagayan Valley Region as early as today or 36 hours prior to closest approach of the weather disturbance.

    This anticipates widespread moderate to heavy rains directly associated with the typhoon possibly by Friday, over Northern Luzon especially over the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, ILocos Norte and Batanes.

    Moreover, NDRRMC Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said that apart from these areas, the typhoon can cross the Philippine Area of Reponsibility line including areas in Visayas, MIMAROPA, region 9 and Northern Mindanao and CARAGA due to its wide scope. He also said, that during the pre-disaster risk assessment meeting on Wednesday, they have talked about the dam monitoring and pre-emptive evacuation to ensure zero casualty.

    Jalad added that that despite Typhoon Mangkhut’s (Ompong’s international name) strength likened to Yolanda, it is still far from being one.

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/09/12/dilg-pinaghahanda-ang-mga-lokal-na-pamahalaan-para-sa-papalapit-na-super-typhoon)

     

     

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    House Speaker Arroyo: No committee hearings on draft federal charter

    August 7th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Image © https://en.wikipedia.org

    THE Draft federal charter of the President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Consultative Committee will be fast tracked in the House of Representatives.

    This is after House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered Constitutional Amendments Committee chairman Representative Vicente Veloso to leave the deliberations on the substance of the draft federal constitution to the proposed Constituent Assembly that will be composed of Senate and House members.

    Arroyo said the debates on the substance will be the duty of the joint session and not by the committee. This move, she added, will also spare them time in carrying out one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s important legislative agenda.

    In this case, Veloso reiterated at the start of the committee briefing that they are meeting to just hear out resource persons particularly on the point how they can convince the Senate to join the House in convening as a Con-Ass.

    Prior the hearing, Arroyo was seen and heard talking with Concom Member and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. saying he was the father of federalism and that they have to focus in convincing the Senate to convene into a Con-Ass.

    Early Tuesday, Arroyo filed a resolution seeking to convene both chambers of Congress into a Constituent Assembly and will have a separate voting on Charter Change. She said this is also to address the longtime stalemate on the manner of voting.

    “Together, yes. Like for instance in the Bangsamoro Basic Law, there were three committees. That’s heard altogether but the three committees voted separately”, says Arroyo when asked how will the Congress do the joint discussion.

    The senators strongly oppose joint voting, a scenario previously floated by Former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as they argued that their power would be diminished in joint voting, noting that there are only 24 of them compared to the 292 representatives in the House.

    Amid Arroyo’s firm decision, her counterpart, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that as soon as the resolution was transmitted to them, he will refer to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Codes.

    Senator Franklin Drilon
    INQUIRER PHOTO/ JOAN BONDOC

    Meantime, Minority Floor leader Senate Franklin Drilon said the House should give up on convening Congress into a ConAss to do Cha-Cha. He noted that there is simply no time in the 17th Congress, adding that the possibility of making the senate irrelevant thru joint voting and a no-el scenario, generate mistrust on the process.

    However, ConCom spokesperson Ding Generoso said the committee appeals to the Senator to give chance to the proposal to shift to federal form of government.

    “We’re just appealing to the sense of patriotism and love for the country of our senators. This is the only chance that we’ve had since 120 years ago when we established the first Republic in Asia. Our country has gone through so many administrations, but if we look back in our history, the problems that Rizal and Bonifacio faced during their time are still the same problems that we have. Hopefully with this change, we can address most of these problems that have been left hanging for over a century,” Generoso noted.

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    Mayor on Duterte’s narc list assassinated during flag raising ceremony

    July 2nd, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    Antonio Halili, the mayor of Tanauan City in the Philippines, in 2016. He was the fourth Philippine mayor killed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugsCreditBullit Marquez/Associated Press

    IT was not a usual flag raising ceremony in Tanauan City Hall on Monday morning.

    Mayor Antonio Halili was standing in attention singing the Lupang Hinirang when a single gunshot suddenly rang out from nowhere causing him to slump bloodied on the ground. He was rushed with a wound in the chest by his aides to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

    The assassin, who is believed to be a sharpshooter using an M-14 rifle, is still at large and now the subject of a hunt.

    The mayor’s co-workers at the City Hall were shocked. They could not believe that their tough but popular chief executive is gone.

    Video courtesy of PNP PRO4A

    Halili is known for his “Walk of Shame” policy wherein he paraded drug dealers and other criminals in the city to shame them, that is long before President Rodrigo Duterte came into office and his “Oplan Tokhang” put into action. His tough policy against drugs and crime placed him in the crosshairs of human rights organizations.

    Ironically, Halili’s name is included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco-list.” Because of this he was deprived of official Philippine National Police protection and stripped of control over the local police unit. He denied any involvement with illegal drugs saying that the allegations against him are all politically motivated but to no avail, his name stays in that list.

    Halili is the fourth mayor to be killed under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. However, the three other slain local executives, whose names were also in the narco-list, were killed during alleged shootouts, one was even shot dead in jail while allegedly resisting the authorities. This is the first time that an alleged narco-personality was killed in this fashion.

    Meanwhile, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said the PNP has created a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) regional level to investigate Halili’s killing. He said SITG members, under PNP Police Region Office-4A Regional Director Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, will reenact the incident once the needed reports are obtained.

    As this developed, the police said they are looking into all angles.

    “Right now we do not have definite motive yet but we are looking at all the possibilities like politics, Mayor’s “shame campaign” and his alleged involvement in illegal drug activities,” said Carranza.

    As this developed, Carranza appealed to the public to report to authorities any information that may help in the resolution of Mayor Halili’s slay.

    The public may contact 0945-764-4414; 0908-777-9992 or contact Tanauan City Police Station at 09393227848.

    (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/07/02/malacanang-assured-no-repeat-of-samar-misencounter/)

     

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    PNP: Confessed gunman and mastermind behind Fr. Nilo’s slaying caught

    July 2nd, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    The confessed gunman in Fr. Nilo’s slaying. Image © PNP

    THE Philippine National Police on Monday announced the arrest of the alleged mastermind and confessed gunman in the recent slaying of Father Richmond Nilo in Cabanatuan City.

    According to the PNP, businessman Manuel Torres, through Ronaldo Garcia, hired the alleged gunman Omar Mallari for PhP100,000 to kill Nilo. Torres blames Nilo for the dismissal of his nephew from the seminary due to a sexual molestation case.

    The seminarian, it was learned, allegedly sexually abused three minor servers of Fr. Nilo.

    “It was Fr. Nilo who helped the victims pressed criminal charges against the seminarian,” said PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde.

    Alleged mastermind Nilo Torres in the killing of Fr. Nilo © PNP

    “As a result, Manuel Torres got mad because his nephew was not able to become a priest and he then contacted Rolando Garcia to find a gunman,” Albayalde said adding that Torres and Garcia are close friends.

    Based on Garcia’s affidavit, it was learned that together with Marius Albis, he was able to contact Mallari who then executed the assassination plan against Father Nilo on June 10 while the priest was preparing to celebrate mass, Albayalde said.

    He added that Torres allegedly gave PhP40,000 as initial payment and paid another PhP40,000 after the killing. He has yet to pay the balance of PhP20,000.

    Garcia and Albis surrendered to the police and executed an affidavit incriminating Torres and Mallari.

    The police said Mallari, who is from Arayat, Pampanga initially denied and involvement in the slaying of Fr. Nilo when he was arrested but later relented after being confronted with irrefutable evidence of his deed.

    The other suspects in this case, Rolly Sigua, Bernie Lumpio, Allan Maniacop and Michael Ocampo remain at large and subject to a police manhunt.

    Meanwhile, Albayalde defended the earlier arrest of Adel Roll Milan, who was then identified by an altar boy as the man who shot dead Nilo. (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/06/17/police-have-arrested-the-alleged-gunman-of-fr-nilo/)

    “It’s not us who gave the mistaken identity, it’s the altar boy. Kasi hindi kami ang may kasalanan dito. Kasi wala kaming control over the altar boy”, Albayalde said.

    The court ordered the release of and the dropping of charges against Milan after his family presented evidence proving that he could not have killed Fr. Nilo at the time of the incident as he was drinking with friends at the time.

    Albayalde said the misidentification should not be taken against the police as the PNP did not stop with the investigation despite the testimony of the altar boy and the arrest of Milan.

    PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde as he explains the similarities in the facial composite of Adel Roll Milan and Omar Mallari © PNP

    Furthermore, the country’s top cop noted the similarities in the PNP’s sketch of Milan, as based on the description provided by the altar-boy, and the facial features of Mallari.

     

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    Police have arrested the alleged gunman of Fr. Nilo

    June 17th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    The PNP provided pictures and sketches of the alleged suspects behind Fr. Nilo’s slaying. Except for Milan (extreme left) the rest of the suspects are still unidentified.

    THE Philippine National Police on Thursday has arrested the principal suspect in the slaying of Fr. Richmond Nilo after being tagged and identified by a witness from a police rogue gallery and a computerterized facial illustration.

    Adell Roll Milan, an alleged drug dependent, was apprehended by members of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office in a still undisclosed place. He is reportedly a member of a gun-for-hire group responsible for a number of slayings in Central Luzon.

    According to Police Regional Office 3 Regional Director Chief Superintendent Amador Corpuz, Milan’s arrest will bring the authorities closer to the real motive behind Nilo’s killing. He added that Milan’s three accomplices, whose computerized and composite sketches have been released to the public, are still being sought.

    Corpuz also said a thorough probe of the incident is also being conducted to determine whether there are other personalities involved.

    Police sources said either n old land dispute or Fr. Nilo’s anti-rape advocacy could be the reasons why he was murdered.

    Fr. Richmond Nilo (1974-2018) Image © https://plaridel.wordpress.com

    The 43-year old Fr. Nilo was gunned down by at least two gunmen inside the Nuestra Senora de la Nieve chapel in Barangay Mayamot, Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, while preparing for Mass Sunday afternoon (June 10). He was laid to rest Friday. His funeral procession from the College of the Immaculate Conception Chapel to New St. Nicholas of Tolentine Cathedral was attended by thousands of black-clad mourners who paid their last respects to the priest.

    Dozens of Bishops and priests led by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia attended the mass presided over by Bishop Sofronio Bancud of Cabanatuan.

    Bishop Bancud, during his Homily, said the murder of Fr. Nilo only mirrors the many violence happening in the world. He, however, said that Christians are called to respond to attacks with the works of God which are forgiveness, love and respect for other people even if they are indifferent.

    Meantime, the police appealed to the public to help them with any information relative to the incident that will lead to the quick resolution of the cases and arrest of other suspects.

    Corpuz provided numbers 0922-8336675 and 09171643235 for the public to report any inforrmation on the remaining suspects.

    According to the Catholic News Agency, Fr. Nilo is the third priest to be killed in the country in the past six months while another survived a slaying attempt.

    First to be killed was Fr. Marcelito Paez who was also gunned down in Jaen, a Nueva Ecija town less than 10 miles from where Fr. Nilo was murdered.

    Four months later, Fr. Mark Ventura was gunned down while saying Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan in Northern Luzon.

    On June 6, a former police chaplain, Father Rey Urmeneneta, was shot and wounded by two gunmen in Calamba City.

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    Promoted or demoted?

    June 13th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    (File Photo) NCRPO Director Camilo Pancratius Cascolan. Image © Scoopnest com

    GRUDGINGLY but like a good follower, the former National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Camilo Cascolan, has accepted his designation as the new director of the Philippine National Police-Civil Security Group, a unit that is seen as mostly for policemen in “floating status.”

    PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde issued the transfer order just five weeks after Cascolan was promoted to the top post of the NCRPO.

    Cascolan was replaced by former CALABARZON Regional Director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar.

    What could have happened?

    “Am I not fit for the job?” asked Cascolan after learning of his transfer to a post he was already assigned to before. With a hint of demoralization, he proudly noted that it was during his stint at the NCRPO that Metro Manila recorded the lowest weekly crime rate since the start of the Duterte Administration.

    Furthermore, Cascolan expressed disappointment and frustration with the sudden movement as he was just implementing his plans in NCRPO. He also insists that what happened to him is a demotion since he could have been the next chief of directorial staff, the PNP’s number 4 man, once Deputy Director General Ramon Apolinario, retires in September, had he not been relegated to the CSG post.

    To follow order

    “Well, that’s the discretion of the Chief PNP. Sa akin anuman ang order, we have to follow because he is the Chief PNP”, Cascolan bitterly said.

    Cascolan and Albayalde are mistahs (classmates) of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986.

    Not a personal decision

    But Albayalde remains adamant and defended the revamp insisting that “it’s not actually a demotion, lalong-lalo na kay NCRPO, na ilinagay natin sa CSG. Actually it’s a national support unit, national in scope, parang CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) yan. Ang cue dyan, we’re putting the right persons on the right job,” Albayalde said, adding that the revamp was not his personal decision.

    Hindi lamang tayo nakatutok sa NCRPO, makita n’yo, napakarami. What we did is a major revamp, it is a command decision, a collective effort, a collective decision. It is not my decision, it is a collective decision, it is a command decision yung nangyaring revamp na yan.”, Albayalde noted.

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    Philippine National Police ready for school opening

    May 28th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    Image © manilachannel.com

    THE Philippine National Police is ready for the estimated 29 million students who will go back to school this year.

    PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, in a press conference Monday, said he has already issued the operational guidelines for “Ligtas Balik Eskwela 2018,” the mobilization plan to all police regional offices and national support units for the opening of school year 2018-2019. The guidelines includes specific tasks and coordinating instructions to implement the nationwide security and public safety plan.

    Albayalde, at the same time, said the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education are assured of the availability and operational readiness of PNP units, personnel and resources for security and public safety operations.

    An estimated 29 million students in different levels are expected to troop to schools for the simultaneous opening of classes in both public and private institutions come June 4.

    (File Photo) PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde Photo © http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

    The country’s top cop said incident of crimes such as pickpocket, snatching, swindling, robbery and street level drug trafficking are of priority concern of the PNP.

    Furthermore, Albayalde said the police in the vicinity of schools were also instructed to watch out muggers and violent street gangs that may infiltrate ranks of students. He added that police assistance desk will also be setup in schools all over the country to assist victims of bullying.

    Meanwhile, 47 schools in Marawi City will also open for students who will go back this school year following the devastation the five month siege by the Maute terrorist group.

    Albayalde said there is nothing to fear as the police chief of Marawi is in control of the situation. He added that aside from the PNP, the Armed forces of the Philippines are in full force providing security in the area.

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    Balikatan Exercises now underway

    May 8th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    (From left to right) Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, Amb. Sung Y. Kim, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, and Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson as they announced the launching of the Balikatan Exercises. Photo © US Embassy

    THE 34th Balikatan Military Exercises between the United States and Philippine armed forces officially opened Monday in a simple ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo.

    About 5,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and approximately 3,000 soldiers from the US marines, army, navy, air force and special operations forces are joining the Exercises.

    Balikatan is the cornerstone of the Philippine-US military relations and the product of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allows the US troops in the country.

    The VFA was entered into by the Philippine and United States governments after the latter’s military bases in Clark and Subic were kicked out of the country.

    Lt. Generals Emmanuel Salamat and Lawrence Nicholson discussing details about Balikatan. Photo © Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    American US exercise director Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson said the purpose of Balikatan is to equip the forces against any threat that may come while his Filipino counterpart, Lieutenant General Emmanuel Salamat, disclosed that this year’s exercise will focus on enhancing capacity for humanitarian assistance and disaster response and counter terrorism.

    Some of the AFP’s naval assets that will participate in the exercises are BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Davao del Sur, as well as attack and utility aircraft such as SF 260, MG250, FA50, Sokol Choppers and C130.

    Armored Personnel Carriers such as the Army’s M113 and ARV will also be used in the exercises.

    Salamat said military exercises are open to the media contrary to what was earlier reported.

    Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the training will also incorporate training identified in the post-Marawi action reports such as military operation in urban terrain.

    As this developed, Philippine and American authorities denied speculations that the installation of missiles in the Spratly islands by the Chinese military will affect the 11-day exercise, which is scheduled to end on May 11.

    Earlier, Beijing confirmed that it has installed missiles in the Spratly islands, an area also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam, but maintained that the move “targets no one.” The installation came as both China and the US are militarizing the South China Sea.

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    PNP chief relieves three policemen in viral video for conduct unbecoming

    May 2nd, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz and Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK

    Video © YouTUBE / Jessie Malaya

    NEWLY appointed Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has ordered the immediate relief of three policemen, all brothers, who were caught in video that went viral confronting a man in Caloocan City following a traffic altercation.

    The policemen were identified through the video as Police Officer 3 Ralph Soriano of Northern Police District, PO1 Reniel Soriano of the Drug Enforcement Group in Camp Crame, and PO1 Rendel Soriano of the Caloocan City Police Station.

    Albayalde, in relieving the policemen, said police officers must always showcase discipline and should conduct themselves properly all the time.

    According to police investigators, prior to the incident, a traffic altercation reportedly happened along A. Mabini Street in Caloocan City between Reniel and a certain Ricardo Malaya. It was after the altercation that the Soriano brothers, who were in civilian clothes and apparently armed with sidearms as shown by the bulges in their waistlines, showed up in the house where Malaya went.

    It was at this point when the video shows several individuals either recording a video of the incident or blocking the entrance of the house, apparently to protect Malaya, while trying to pacify the brothers.

    PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said the brothers could face grave threat, grave oral defamation and alarm and scandal charges following a complaint filed by Malaya and his family members.

    He added that they could also face violation of the Omnibus Election Code charges for bearing arms while not in uniform.

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    New police chief to discipline the Philippine National Police

    April 21st, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    Incoming Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde makes his acceptance speech during change of command ceremonies on Thursday, April 19./RTVM/

    THE newly-installed Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde on Thursday vowed to maintain low-key but stern discipline to the 196,000 strong police force he will lead in the next 19 months.

    The former National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, made the vow while delivering his inaugural address during the Change of Command Ceremony in Camp Crame.

    Albayalde replaced Ronald Dela Rosa, who retired upon reaching the age of retirement and who will now be the chief jail guard as he was appointed director of the Bureau of Corrections, the government institution that has jurisdiction over the New Bilibid Prisons, the national penitentiary.

    Aside from disciplining the ranks, Albayalde said his leadership will also focus on reform and internal cleansing, intensified campaign against Criminality and illegal drugs, practical program for crime prevention and suppression and strengthen public engagement.

    Albayalde, who is known for the discipline he imposed on his men at the NCRPO where he was chief for 20 months, said the PNP should earn the trust of the people who pays its expenses.

    “If we want to win the trust of the Filipino people who pays our salary– which the President doubled recently– we will serve with all honesty, honor and integrity,” says Albayalde adding that he will set high expectations for performance, but he will be fair and just.

    Meanwhile, on Friday, a day after taking an oath, Albayalde disclosed that under his leadership, promotions will be solely based on seniority, merit and competence.

    He said the Senior Officers Placement and Promotion Board, complemented by an oversight committee will ensure keen observance to his policy of placing the right person for the job, according to the institutional standards set by the organization.

    At the same time, Albayalde said the practice of surprise inspection of police units will continue under his leadership.

    “As much as I enjoy conducting surprise inspections, I may not be able to reach all of our 2,766 police stations nationwide,” he said adding that this is why aside from their regular duties, he ordered all provincial and city directors to conduct these surprise inspections to regularly assess the readiness of ground forces.

    Moreover, he also stressed that the oversight committee will also regularly evaluate the performance of all commanders on the ground including Regional Director.

    Furthermore, Albayalde said all of the new police recruits and new officers shall be required to undergo standard Special Action Force training before they get deployed in the different regions.

    While the new PNP chief display toughness, he noted that disciplined and performing cops will be awarded while “legal assistance will be provided to officers who have been charged in connection with the performance of their duties.”

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    Pasig River Ferry Service to be revived

    April 11th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    (File photo) The old Pasig Ferry 4 approaching Santa Ana, Manila Station along the Pasig River. Photo © https://en.wikipedia.org

    IN A bid to entice the public to use the Pasig River Ferry Service, a member of House of Representatives said more air-conditioned boats should be deployed and boat stations constructed along its 28 kilometer or 17.4 mile river route.

    At the same time, Makati City 2nd District Rep. Luis Campos Jr. lauded as a bold move Malacañang’s decision to revive the ferry service. He noted that the renewal of the service will help fight the worsening road congestion in Metro Manila.

    Malacañang found a huge potential in the Pasig River Ferry Service as an alternative mode of transportation for commuters, particularly those coming from the East side of the Metro to reach specific destinations within the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Taguig, Marikina and Quezon City.

    Campos added that the old ferry service flopped simply because the private operator digressed from the original plan to deploy 18 boats with a seating capacity of 50 each.

    In the Pasig River Ferry Convergence Program approved by President Rodrigo Duterte during the April 4 cabinet meeting, it was agreed that 17 additional stations for the Ferry Service will be constructed to make it a more reliable mode of public transportation.

    At present, the ferry service, which runs at 17 knots or 31 kilometers per hour, has 12 stations namely: Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin, Maybunga in Pasig City; Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City; Hulo in Mandaluyong City; Lambingan, Sta. Ana, PUP Sta. Mesa Campus, Lawton, Escolta, and Plaza Mexico in Manila. However, the PUP and Sta. Ana Stations are undergoing repair.

    Apart from the additional stations, the government is also planning to have 24 boats that will service an estimated 76,000 commuters per day or 19,836,000 a year.

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    State of Emergency to be declared in Boracay

    April 6th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    Boracay on a typical day. Image © ABS-CBN News

    PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will declare a State of Calamity in Boracay island to assist the thousands of workers who would be displaced by the planned six-month closure of the world famous tourists spot.

    The assurance was made by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday during a press briefing in Malacañang. He said the State of Calamity would pave the way for the release of the PhP2 billion calamity fund.

    At the same time, Roque said the displacement of workers in Boracay, which is located in Aklan province, won’t be that much that not everybody need to leave the island.

    Harry Roque. Image © Presidential Communications Operations Office

    Pero hindi naman lahat ng workers ma-didisplace. Bakit? Eh ang daming trabahong kailangan gawin sa Boracay, so hindi naman sila kinakailangang umalis lahat. So siguro maiiba trabaho nila pero magkakaroon pa rin sila ng trabaho…,” Roque insists.

    Earlier, the Boracay Foundation Incorporated, a non-profit and non-stock association of entrepreneurs in the island, said over 36,000 jobs and over 17,000 employees would be directly affected by the total closure of businesses.

    Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government has finalized livelihood programs to assist the displaced workers.

    Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre, on the other hand, said the tourism department is still computing how much revenue will it lose due to the island’s closure. Taking an optimistic view, he noted that tourism has not been affected by the earlier pronouncement of the closure plan, citing that for January to March 2018, tourist arrival even increased.

    Meantime, the Department of Interior and local Government is expecting huge income losses with the closure of Boracay.

    Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing bared that the estimated gross losses in revenue due to Borcay’s closure could reach PhP18 to PhP20 billion for the period of six months.

    “That’s why it is not to the interest of everybody to go the full six months. We have to fast track everything.” Densing said.

    He noted that in order to make this possible, all stakeholders should be part of the rehabilitation process.

    Earlier, The National Economic and Development Authority said that while the shutdown will have a minimal impact on the country’s economic growth, it can have an adverse short term impact on the local economy.

    The NEDA said the closure is estimated to only have a point one percent impact on the gross domestic product growth.

    The Inter-agency task force will conduct a working conference on Tuesday in the island to get a clearer picture of the costs and other details for the rehabilitation of Boracay.

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    PH Food Authority creating “artificial crisis” – Secretary Leoncio Evasco

    April 5th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

    NATIONAL Food Authority Council Chairman Leoncio Evasco slammed the National Food Authority for statements that reportedly caused panic among rice traders and the consumers.

    Evasco issues the critique after the NFA earlier said there is no more available state-subsidized rice for market distribution.

    “There are so many voices, thereby, madly confusing the issue on rice. And creating panic on the part of the traders and consuming public of rice”, says Evasco in a palace press briefing. He further accuses the agency of creating “artificial shortage’ saying that this would eventually make the traders withdraw their rice resulting to market price hikes.

    Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr. Image © Ace Morandante/PPD

    But the former priest and communist rebel turned government bureaucrat, in an apparent admission of the rice problem, also said that given the need for the rice importation, the government will use the ‘government to private’ or G2P type of rice procurement that was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last year.

    Earlier, President Duterte met with rice traders to appeal for consideration and fairness on the pricing of rice which is considered the staple food of the country.

    North District Office Provincial District Manager Arnel Alfonso on Tuesday confirmed that the remaining rice bags in the NFA warehouses are not for market distribution. He said the remaining rice stocks are intended only for Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) beneficiaries and the agency’s employees’ as it is their rice allowance.

    Alfonso’s confirmation prompted the NFAC to call the NFA, its executive arm, to procure more rice supplies from local farmers to address the depletion in the buffer stock.

    The NFA previously decided to temporarily discontinue issuing state-subsidized rice to accredited retailers as it wanted to prioritize distributing rice to calamity victims.

    Despite the depletion of the buffer stock, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said this should not be a cause of alarm for the public.

    “During the last NFA council meeting, it was agreed that NFA could bring in the new stocks already,” said Piñol.

    “No, walang rice shortage. There has never been rice shortage”, he stressed.

    According to the agriculture chief, the stocks which were earlier projected to arrive as late as June may come earlier.

    “I think the president will use his persuasive power to appeal to our rice traders that while he understands business and he knows the traders will have to make money, I think he will appeal that the margin of profit should be at the level that will not hurt the consumers and at the same time, that the farmers should benefit from their labor.” Piñol said

    *Video © YouTube/Rose Anne Dela Cruz

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    Loss of discipline at the PH police academy?

    March 26th, 2018

    By Rose Anne Dela Cruz / Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK

    Image © SlideShare

    THE culture of violence and revenge among the cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy must end.

    This according to PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa after learning of the mauling inside the academy grounds of the six newly graduate police inspectors by their underclassmen. He said the culture that led to the incident must stop to prevent similar occurrences from happening.

    “Dapat matigil na ang karahasan at gantihan,” Dela Rosa said.

    Dela Rosa was referring to an incident last Wednesday inside the PNPA campus when 41 underclass cadets mauled six of their seniors after graduation rites in an apparent revenge for the alleged previous manhandling they suffered.

    PNPA Director Chief Superintendent Joseph Adnol said the upperclassmen were beaten near the academy billets inside the PNPA campus at Camp Mariano Castañeda in Silang, Cavite.

    Adnol, in a belated report, said the incident happened between 4 and 5 pm. while the new officers, who belonged to the Maragtas Class, were coming back to the academy lodgings after attending the graduation rites. He said the mauling victims, who he refused to identify, suffered lacerations and contusions, and are now in an undisclosed hospital.

    Kasi ‘di ba graduation, they were having procession with their parents ‘di ba. Tinaymingan na ma-separate sila, hinintay sila doon malapit sa barracks,” Adnol narrated.

    Adnol said the academy has to consider this isolated case a mauling incident because arnis and stones were used by the perpetrators of the incident. Except for admitting that the officers’ attackers are underclassmen, the academy director also refused to name them.

    Adnol said the incident apparently was brought about by old grudges arising from the “corrections” made by the members of the upper class over the protocol violations by the underclassmen.

    Meanwhile, National Police Commission Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao said due process will be strictly observed in the investigation of those involved in the melee. He stressed that an impartial probe of the incident will be conducted before any action will be taken.

    Nevertheless, Casurao said those proven guilty will be expelled from the academy.

    As this developed, Adnol said two of the six mauling victims have decided to file criminal charges against nine underclassmen allegedly involved in the incident.

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