Martial law extended for 1 more year

By Charissa Luci Atienza and Hannah Torregoza

Congress, in a joint session, approved on Wednesday President Duterte’s request to extend the martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.

A total of 240 Congress members voted in favor of the martial law extension, while 27 rejected it. The Senate voted 14-4, while House of Representatives voted 226-23 to approve martial law extension.

Before Congress acted on the request, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea justified why President Duterte is seeking to extend martial law in Mindanao.

PROTESTING AN EXTENSION – Members of militant groups hold a protest rally outside the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City where the joint session of Congress was voting to extend martial law in Mindanao Wednesday. (Mark Balmores | Manila Bulletin)

PROTESTING AN EXTENSION – Members of militant groups hold a protest rally outside the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City where the joint session of Congress was voting to extend martial law in Mindanao Wednesday. (Mark Balmores | Manila Bulletin)

“Despite the liberation of Marawi City, and the eerie silence in the main battlefield, a state of actual rebellion subsists in Mindanao, perpetrated not only by remnants of the Daesh-inspired DIWM (Da’watulIslamiyahWaliyatulMasriq), but also by other local and foreign terrorist groups, including the New People’s Army, and ready to explode anew at any given time,” Medialdea told the joint session.

“Public safety requires a further extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, in order to quell this rebellion completely,” he pointed out.

The Malacañang official clarified that they are not seeking “unlimited” martial law, but “unlimited” peace and stability in the strife-torn region.

“We do not ask for unlimited martial law, what we are seeking is unlimited peace,” Medialdea said.

Before the nominal voting, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas made a motion to further extend President Duterte’s martial law proclamation.

President Dutertefirst placed the entire Mindanao under martial law for 60 days when he signed Proclamation No. 216 on May 23, 2017, after the Maute terrorist group lay siege on Marawi City.

Before the 60-day period lapsed, the President sought its extension until December 31, 2017 – a request granted by Congress after 261 members favored it.

“Martial law may be a severe means of achieving peace but desperate times like these call for desperate measures,”Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said after voting in favor of President Duterte’srequest.

“The perpetual state of war in Mindanao has stunted economic growth, perpetrated poverty, and visited terrible tragedies upon our countrymen who live there. This heartbreaking state of affairs has gone on for far too long, Mindanaoans deserve the chance to live in peace,”Gatchalian said.

Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said it is also evident that most law-abiding citizens in Mindanao favor martial law.

“War lords and private armies cannot move and lord it over the way they used to. Thousands of loose firearms problem need to be addressed to establish atmosphere conducive to business and tourism,” Ejercito said.

Nationwide martial law feared

But Liberal Party senators and congressmen and the seven-man Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives vehemently opposed the new extension of martial law, saying it is “unconstitutional.”

Senator Francis Pangilinan, who was among the 28 interpellators, said the approval of the extension of the martial law is “contrary to the Constitution” and is considered as the Congress members’ “abdication of their sacred duty to act as checks and balances of the government.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon insisted that the extension of martial law until next year “does not find basis under the Constitution.”

He emphasized that under the Constitution, the Congress can extend the proclamation of martial law only when there’s actual rebellion, which he said requires actual public uprising and taking arms to overthrow the government.

“There is no state of rebellion. These are only threats at this point. Actual armed conflict is basic foundation for the continued imposition of martial law,” he said.

FOR MARTIAL LAW EXTENSION — The main proponents for the extension of martial law in Mindanao for one year take their oath before answering the questions during a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives yesterday at the Batasang Pambansa. They are (from left): PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa, Retired AFP Chief and now DILG undersecretary Eduardo Año, DILG OIC Catalino Cuy, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, AFP Chief Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. The President’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018 was later granted with votes of 240 in the affirmative and 27 in the negative. (Alvin Kasiban | Manila Bulletin)

FOR MARTIAL LAW EXTENSION — The main proponents for the extension of martial law in Mindanao for one year take their oath before answering the questions during a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives yesterday at the Batasang Pambansa. They are (from left): PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa, Retired AFP Chief and now DILG undersecretary Eduardo Año, DILG OIC Catalino Cuy, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, AFP Chief Gen Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. The President’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018 was later granted with votes of 240 in the affirmative and 27 in the negative. (Alvin Kasiban | Manila Bulletin)

Responding to Drilon’s query, Deputy Executive Secretary MeynardoGuevarra explained that the President’s request is not based on assessment of existing threat, but on the basis of a continuing actual rebellion in Mindanao.

But Albay Rep. EdcelLagman said there is no factual basis for extending martial law.

“An extension of the period of martial law in Mindanao even for one day, much more for one full year, has no factual anchorage and constitutional basis,” he said in explaining his “No” vote for the martial law extension.

Buhayparty-list Rep. LitoAtienza also questioned the basis for granting the President’s request to extend the martial law.

“Where do you get the authority even to request for an extension? If the basis for proclamation is no longer Marawi, then it must start at 60 days again,” he said.

“Ang pananaw ko po at iniikutan nyo ang probisyon ng Konstitusyon, how can the extension be longer than the original? Do you request an extension or another proclamation?” he asked.

In his interpellation, Drilon raised concern over the inclusion of the National People’s Army (NPA) in the reasons for extending the martial law.

“The NPA conflict has been there for the last four decades nationwide but suddenly in the extension, the NPA is cited,” he noted.

“Is this now a prelude to declaring martial law nationwide?” he asked.

Bayan Munapartylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the extension of martial law would only further strengthen the Communist Party of the Philippine-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). “Martial law is the number one recruiter of the NPA,” he said.

While Drilon expressed apprehension over the martial law extension, Kusug-Tausug party-list Rep. Shernee Tan pushed anew for the nationwide declaration of martial law, citing the presence of NPAs in Luzon and Visayas.

“I reiterate my stand that martial law should be extended not just in Mindanao but also in Luzon and in Visayas if it serves to the best interest of our nation,” Tan said.

But National Security Adviser HermogenesEsperon Jr. and Defense  SecretaryDelfinLorenzana both said that they don’t see martial law being imposed in Luzon and Visayas in the foreseeable future.

“Depende lagi sa situation. Pupunta ba sa Visayas o sa Luzon? (As always it depends on the situation. Will martial law come to Visayas and Luzon?) As of now, no,”Esperon told reporters in a chance interview just minutes after lawmakers gave its nod to the Palace request.

“But I’d like to express confidence also that it will not go to Visayas and Luzon,”Esperon said.

Lorenzana said there is no need to extend the martial law in Luzon and Visayas, citing the activities of NPA in both regions were “mininimal.”

PALACE BOOGIE – President Duterte takes Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office for a spin on the dance floor during the Christmas party of the Malacañang Press Corps in Malacañang Wednesday. (Jansen Romero | Manila Bulletin)

PALACE BOOGIE – President Duterte takes Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office for a spin on the dance floor during the Christmas party of the Malacañang Press Corps in Malacañang Wednesday. (Jansen Romero | Manila Bulletin)

“I think the reason the NPA in Mindanao are included is because of the intensity…kasi po malakas ‘yung…45 percent of the NPA in the whole Philippines are in Mindanao. And they are creating havoc, especially in eastern Mindanao,” Lorenzana said.

“In Visayas and Luzon,maliit lang po ‘yung activities ng CPP-NPA diyan, kaya I don’t think that there is a need toinclude Visayas and Luzon in the martial law,” he said.

He justified the continued extension of martial law, explaining that “the rebellion has not stopped, but just moved to another place.”

He even reported to the plenary that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has spent P4 billion for the implementation of martial law since President Duterte imposed it last May 23. He even sought for the reimbursement of their “operation” expenses so that they could replenish their stocks.

No elections?

Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin feared that the act of Congress would lead to no-elections scenario in Mindanao. During the interpellation, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also expressed such concern, explaining that under the Omnibus Election Code, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may suspend the elections if there is rebellion or terrorism.

But Deputy Executive Secretary Guevarra said the suspension of the barangay elections and the upcoming local elections in Mindanao “is under the purview of the Comelec as an independent constitutional body.”

Before Congress approved the extension, the Comelec said that if martial law is extended in Mindanao, it is likely to hold another public consultation to determine if there is a need to postpone the May 14, 2018 Barangay and SangguniangKabataan polls in the region.

“Independently, we will conduct another hearing as we had conducted in Davao the last time to see what the situation is on the ground, if we should suspend the holding of the election because of the state of lawlessness or rebellion,” Comelec Commissioner LuieGuia said in a press briefing Wednesday.

But Lorenzana assured that martial law will not be used to suspend the upcoming polls in Mindanao. (With reports from Vanne P. Terrazola, Mario B. Casayuran, Ellson A. Quismorio, and Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

Martial law extended for 1 more year

Congress votes overwhelmingly for one year of martial law

By Jess Diaz

 Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez react after the counting of House votes. Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — As expected, the administration-dominated Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved yesterday President Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao by one year.

As contained in Joint Resolution No. 13, martial rule is extended from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018. This is the second extension of the President’s martial law declaration in May, with the first ending at the end of this month.

The resolution also extended by one year the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which authorizes state forces to conduct warrantless arrests.
Lawmakers voted 240-27 to approve the joint resolution. Fourteen senators voted yes, while four opposed it. In the House, 226 members supported the measure, while 23 voted against. The two chambers voted jointly on martial law issues.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel lll presided over the joint session. Majority leaders Vicente Sotto lll of the Senate and Rodolfo Fariñas of the House presented the motion to lengthen the imposition of martial law.

At the start of session, administration officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea defended the President’s extension request.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Medialdea said the “Chief Executive and commander of all armed forces” was asking for an extension “despite great strides achieved by government forces in suppressing lawless violence and rebellion in Mindanao.”

He said that while the Mautes and other terrorist groups have been “substantially neutralized and the main battle area in Marawi City has been liberated, terrorist threats remain.”

“Remnants of these groups continue to rebuild through recruitment and training and fund-raising. They are consolidating their forces,” Medialdea said.

He added that the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters “continues to commit acts of violence, while the Abu Sayyaf remains a serious security concern.”

Medialdea pointed out that the New People’s Army (NPA) took advantage of the situation in Mindanao by stepping up its recruitment, training and offensive activities.

“In sum, the factual basis for martial law as affirmed by Congress and the Supreme Court continues to exist. There is still a state of rebellion ready to explode anew at any time,” he said.

“Public safety requires the extension of martial law. We do not ask for an unlimited martial law. What we are seeking is unlimited peace,” he stressed.

Medialdea, assisted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and other defense, security, intelligence and Cabinet officials, answered questions from senators and House members and addressed their concerns.

Their debates focused on the factual and constitutional bases for Duterte’s martial law extension request.

Questioning the President’s plea, Sen. Franklin Drilon called attention to the declaration made by Duterte in October that Marawi City “has been liberated from terrorist influence.”

Following the declaration, he said the military announced the termination of combat activities in the city.

The Senate minority leader asserted that there is “no actual rebellion or public uprising against the government,” conditions set by the Constitution for declaring or prolonging martial law.

He said the grounds cited by Duterte and Medialdea for extending martial law are “mere threats” that the administration and state forces could handle without martial law.

Drilon elicited an admission from Lorenzana that the situation in Marawi has not “substantially changed” since the President and the military declared the liberation of the city and the end of hostilities.

Lorenzana, however, was quick to clarify that since then, terrorist threats have spread to neighboring areas, an assertion that military officials supported.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra called attention to the Supreme Court decision affirming the President’s martial law declaration in May.

He said the tribunal noted pockets of terrorist activities in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao, not just in Marawi City.

“All these suggest that rebellion has spilled over to other areas. The termination of conflict in Marawi is not conclusive evidence that the rebellion has ended,” he said.

Before the joint session ended, and after the votes were counted, Sotto asked for a second round of voting so that Sens. Francis Escudero and Cynthia Villar could manifest their yes votes for martial law extension.

But Drilon opposed Sotto’s motion and inquired: “If we allow that, when would the voting end?”

Sotto said he would not insist, since he has already mentioned anyway that his two colleagues were for extending martial rule.

CAR backs extension

Lawmakers in the highland Cordillera region allied with the administration have expressed support for the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“It is the clamor of (the people) of Mindanao and I have to stand by them,” Abra Rep. Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos said, adding that Mindanaoans perfectly know “what is best for them.”

Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang, concurrently the caretaker congressman for Mountain Province, vowed to vote in favor of the extension after getting apprised through the House hearing on Tuesday about the real score in the south.

Mangaoang explained that his vote was prompted by how all Mindanaoan congressmen endorsed the extension 100 percent.

Visayan bloc majority favor ‘will of Mindanaoans’

A majority of Visayan bloc members are in favor of extending martial law in Mindanao, its convenor Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Benitez has said.

Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Stephen Paduano of Negros Occidental also disclosed that almost all Mindanaoan lawmakers support the extension for one year and they have to support their position.

“We in the Visayas don’t have the moral authority to question the will of Mindanaoans,” said Paduano, who used to be the national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, a breakaway faction of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which entered into peace talks with the government.

Negros Occidental 2nd District Rep. Rafael Leo Cueva said the government, through the military, needs more time to reduce the threat of the IS group to make a comeback, which can also fast-track the development of Marawi.

ComVal, PCL welcome move

Compostela Valley Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy yesterday welcomed the move to extend martial law in his region for another year in an effort to further strengthen the fight against terrorists.

“We welcome the extension… We feel safer and better. We think it is for the best interest of our people, especially long-term,” Uy, whose jurisdiction is largely a mining area and considered a hotbed of NPA rebels, told The STAR.

Uy, however, was quick to point out that they based their support for martial law extension mainly on the lower crime rate in his area.

“Besides, there was no report of any military abuses in my area of responsibility since martial law was declared last May,” he said, adding that with martial law in place, the military and the police have also been more visible.

The Philippine Councilors League of the Philippines also expressed strong support for extension.

The PCL endorsed to the President its all-out support for the recommendation of the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the martial law extension regardless of its duration.

House approves pay hike for uniformed personnel

By Cet Dematera

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading Malacañang’s proposed Joint Resolution 18, which seeks to increase the basic pay of military and other uniformed personnel (MUP).

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, appropriations committee chairman, said yesterday the lowest-paid MUP, like a private in the armed forces or an Officer 1 in the police, would receive an increase of more than 100 percent.

Those with higher ranks would get an average adjustment of 58.7 percent.

The term “military and other uniformed personnel” refers to officers and men of the armed forces, the national police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Public Safety College, Philippine Coast Guard, and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

When implemented starting Jan. 1 next year, Nograles said, their basic monthly salary would go up from P14,834 to P29,668.

These adjustments would cost taxpayers P64.24 billion a year, he added.

P3.767-trillion budget ratified

By Ellson Quismorio and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The P3.767-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2018 was ratified by lawmakers on the penultimate session day of the year, paving the way for its signing by President Duterte before Christmas.

Davao City 1st Rep. Karlo Nograles, House Appropriations Committee chairman, said the GAB, which has a House and a Senate version, was approved by the Bicameral Conference Committee at past 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles gives his sponsorship speech at the first Plenary Session for the 2017 General Appropriations Act. MB PHOTO/FEDERICO CRUZ / MANILA BULLETIN

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles (Federico Cruz / File | Manila Bulletin)

Hours later, the Senate and the House ratified the Bicam-approved measure.

This was achieved after two weeks of painstaking deliberations by congressmen and senators who sought to harmonize the differing provisions of their respective versions of the proposed national budget for next year.

Nograles estimates that the proposed national budget will be signed into law on or before December 19.

Bells and whistles

Among the bells and whistles of the measure are the billions worth of benefits lined up for the education sector.

These are the provision of an additional P1,000 cash allowance for public school teachers from the current P2,500 to P3,500 (budget allocation: P770 million); the increase of at least P10 million each for all state universities and colleges (SUCs) across-the-board for capital outlays to be used in the repair, rehabilitation, constructions of academic buildings and the purchase of equipment, among others (P3.7 billion); and the rollout of the free college education program under Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (P40 billion) to cover the free tuition and miscellaneous fees for college students in all state colleges and universities nationwide.

“Now there is no stopping free college education in the country. This is truly a legacy-defining measure for the Duterte administration, and its implementation was made possible through the 2018 national budget,” Nograles said.

The 2018 budget will also ensure the implementation of free wifi for all SUCs amounting to P327 million.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers exercised foresight in setting aside an additional P62 billion for the increase of military and uniformed personnel’s (MUP) base pay beginning January 1, 2018. House Joint Resolution (HJR) 18, which bears this effect, was approved on 3rd and final reading on Monday, December 11.

“This will double the basic pay of both the Police Officer 1 and Private from P14,834 per month to P29,668 per month. The funding requirement for this is already included in the 2018 General Appropriations Bill,” noted the Davao congressman.

For the other ranks, the raise in base pay will be calibrated resulting to an average increase of 58.70 percent.

More worthy allocations

Also provided for in the Bicam-approved GAB is the purchase of body cameras for Philippine National Police (PNP) members amounting to P334 million (up from the initial allocation of P100 million); acquisition of two single-engine helicopters with a funding of P451 million; housing for PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) members worth P952 million (up from the realigned P900 million Oplan Double Barrel fund); and the increase of police stations’ funds by adding P850 million to their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

Despite opposition from House members, lawmakers agreed to remove in the ratified GAA the P900-million allocation Oplan Double Barrel despite President Duterte’s order for its return in the war on drugs.

Congress also removed the P500-million proposed allocation for “Masa-Masid” which was realigned to the expenses of anti-drug abuse council, among other programs related to the government’s anti-drug campaign.

There was also a P1.2-billion increase in the budget of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), from P1.37 billion to about P2.59 billion. The PDEA is now tasked to lead the Duterte administration’s flagship campaign against illegal drugs.

Nograles had earlier said that the planned acquisition of body cameras, which had been personally sought by the President, is part of the government’s effort to ensure the observance of standard operating procedures and the rules of engagement during anti-crime operations.

Also noteworthy, according to Nograles, is the P3.5-billion subsidization under the PhilHealth budget for the cost of healthcare benefits of government employees in the executive branch.

“This will cover health care for preventive and curative, in-patient and out-patient services for employees in the executive branch. The health benefits shall be provided to our government employees through PhilHealth-registered healthcare providers,” Nograles noted.

Right of way

One of the most controversial allocations was that of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which received the biggest chunk of the proposed 2018 budget at P637.86 billion.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson manifested his opposition to the approved DPWH budget as he said that the agency has not addressed the supposed right-of-way (ROW) issues.

The Bicam granted the DPWH an P11-billion raise, in addition to retaining P50.7 billion of its budget which was earlier in hot water due to unsettled ROW issues.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said the P11-billion increase was for the implementation of local road infrastructure in the country.

Lacson said the DPWH failed to provide the details of the allocations and said “there are many John Does” in the list of claimants.

P3.767-trillion budget ratified

Pimentel sees approval of one year martial law extension

While Congress has yet to convene in a joint session on Wednesday, Senate President Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III has already predicted the approval of the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao being sought by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“In the House alone, pasado na po. Just looking on the votes in the House although hindi pa natin nakikita yung voting sa House,” Pimentel told reporters on Tuesday.

(It has already passed the House, although the House voting is not yet seen.)

“But given Speaker’s backing of this initiative and si Speaker nga I don’t know if he’s joking, he wants it five years. So with that kind of the positioning of the Speaker and the support in the House…The Senate will also prevail but even if you deduct or subtract the senators, majority na rin yung mag sasang-ayon. Yan ang aking prediction (majority will agree. That is my prediction),” he said.

The Senate leader was referring to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, staunch ally of the Duterte administration.

READ: House, Senate to hold joint session to tackle martial law extension

Asked if he thinks the one-year extension was already enough to address the problems in Mindanao, Pimentel said: “Better one year, than five years. Because of the mechanism na extendible…”

Pimentel reiterated his support for the martial law extension in Mindanao, convinced that there were enough grounds to extend martial law for another year.

“Yes, there’s rebellion on the ground and then public safety requires it and in their assessment, kasi ito medyo subjective dyan (because it’s subjective), they need a year to address the root causes of rebellion pero walang sure dun (but it’s not yet sure). Walang makakasabi na ekasakto yung one year o kulang yung one year. But yang period kasi is trial and error (No one can say exactly if one year or one year is not enough. But that period is trial and error),” he said.

The siege in Marawi City by the terrorist Maute group, he said, was proof that there was rebellion in Mindanao but the threats continued with the presence of other rebel groups in the region.

“Hindi kailangan ng siege. The Revised Penal Code does not require that the rebellion is only through siege of a city,” Pimentel said when asked about the opposition’s argument that martial law declaration requires the presence of actual uprising.

But he said whatever Congress decides on the request for the martial law extension could be raised before the Supreme Court.

Pimentel sees approval of one year martial law extension

Giving of Certificates of Appreciation

In behalf of your Armed Forces of the Philippines and MGEN RONNIE S EVANGELISTA AFP, Commander of Civil Relations Service AFP, COLONEL JOSE VICTOR L VARGAS JR PAF (GSC), Group Commander of 7CRG, CRSAFP presented the certificate of appreciation to HON OSCAR G MALAPITAN, Mayor of Caloocan City Government, POLICE SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT ELISEO CRUZ Deputy for Admin of Northern Police District and POLICE CHIEF INSPECTOR ELUSTRE MENDOZA Deputy for Admin of Caloocan Police Station. The certificate of appreciation was awarded in grateful appreciation of your AFP for the generous gesture of the above mentioned units in donating for Marawi Casualties and IDP’s this morning during the Caloocan City Flag ceremony at Caloocan City Hall, Caloocan City.

Army’s 9th ID in Bicol gets new chief

LEGAZPI CITY — Brig. Gen Danilo Chad Isleta is the newly installed commanding general of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (ID) in Camp Elias Angeles, Barangay San Jose in Pili town in Camarines Sur.

Isleta took over the command on Friday in a turn-over ceremony at the Army headquarters in Pili town, said Army Capt. Joash Pramis, 9th ID spokesperson.

Pramis said Isleta replaced Army Maj. Gen Monolito Orense who has reached the mandatory retirement age.

The 9th Infantry Division oversees three Army brigades operating in the six provinces of Bicol.

Before his new designation, he was assistant division commander of the 9ID.

A 1985 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Isleta is also the former commander of the 10th Field Artillery Battalion, assistant chief of staff for Civil-Military Operations, chief of Army’s Strategic and Special Studies Office and senior military aid to the Secretary of National Defense. (PNA)

Army fetes 51promoted generals

By Francis Wakefield

The Philippine Army recently welcomed 51 newly-promoted generals during a ceremony held at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Three Lieutenant Generals, seven Major Generals, and 41 Brigadier Generals were given full military honors followed by a courtesy call to the Army Chief, Lieutenant General Rolando Joselito D. Bautista.

The three officers promoted to Lt. Gen. were Carlito G. Galvez, Rafael C. Valencia, and Benjamin C. Madrigal. The seven officers promoted to Maj. Gen. were Ronnie S. Evangelista, Felimon T. Santos Jr, Arnel B. Dela Vega, Casiano C. Monilla,  Isidro L. Purisima,  Macairog S. Alberto, and Rizaldo B. Limoso.

Morover, the 41 officers promoted to Brig. Gen. were Perfecto M. Rimando, Cirilito E. Sobejana, Pedro A. Sumayo Jr, Glorivine R. Dida, Fernando T. Trinidad, Francisco F. Mendoza, Felicisimo C. Buddiongan, Ramiro Manuel A. Rey,  Arnulfo C. Matanguihan, Lope C Dagoy, Nixon M. Fortes, Milfredo M. Melegrito, Jose C. Faustino Jr, Manolo M. Samarita, Raniel T. Tamiro,  Ernesto T. Lopena, Lenard T. Agustin, Antonio G. Parlade Jr,  Cristobal N. Zaragoza, Rene Glen O. Paje, Edwin Leo Torrelavega, Abraham Claro C. Casis, Eric C. Vinoya,  Ernie S. Langub, Tyne T. Bañas, Franco Nemesio M. Gacal,  Bartolome Vicente O. Bacarro, Corleto S. Vinluan Jr,  Jose Ely D. Alberto, Bismarck D. Soliba,  Jesus B. Sarsagat,  Cornelio H. Valencia Jr,  Pio Q. Diñoso III,  Jacinto R. Bareng, Divino Rey C. Pabayo Jr, Reuben S. Basiao,  Diosdado C. Carreon,  Arnulfo Marcelo B. Burgos Jr, John Dominic P. Pulido, Juvymay R. Uy,  and Dionisio C. Baudin Jr.

Army fetes 51promoted generals

House OKs 100% pay hike for cops, soldiers

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives last night approved on third and final reading House Joint Resolution No. 18 granting soldiers and policemen a 100-percent increase in their current base pay.

With a vote of 167 for approval and four against, the chamber played its part in granting President Duterte’s campaign pledge for increased salaries for 381,381 uniformed personnel in government service.

Four members of the Makabayan bloc, namely Reps. Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis Partylist); Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan Partylist); Arlene Brosas (ACT Teachers Partylist) and Emmi de Jesus (GabriealPartylist) thumbed down the proposed resolution.

On the other hand, Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, a former Marine officer, entered a positive vote but aired caution on the implementation of the salary bump.

“I commend this measure to increase base pay of our uniformed personnel. However, I hope that this is not meant to buy AFP’s loyalty, rather it is a genuine effort to boost their morale for more efficient service to the Filipino people,” said Alejano.

To benefit from HJR No. 18 are all military personnel under the Department of National Defense, uniformed personnel under the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

The modified base pay schedule for lower-ranked military and uniformed personnel – from candidate soldier to chief master sergeant and their equivalent ranks in the civilian agencies – would be fully implemented beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Under the measure, the new monthly rates would now range from R18,587 for candidate soldier to R34,761 for chief master sergeant.

On the other hand, the pay schedule for higher-ranked personnel – from first chief master sergeant to general and their civilian counterparts – would be implemented in staggered adjustments on Jan. 1, 2018 and Jan. 1, 2019.

The rates range from R35,456 for first chief master sergeant to R121,143 for the general beginning Jan. 1, 2018, and R38,366 to R149,785 beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

HJR No. 18 also provides for the suspension of the pension indexation – the adjustment of pension rates in proportion to the new base pay rates – pending the review of the current pension system.

PRRD justifies extension of martial law

By Roy Mabasa

Malacañang on Monday released a copy of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s letter to Congress requesting to extend the validity of martial law in Mindanao for another year, citing threats from ISIS-inspired groups and the communist rebels.

In a letter addressed to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the President justified that further extension of the implementation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao will help military and the police and all other law enforcement agencies to “quell completely and put an end to the ongoing rebellion on Mindanao and prevent the same from escalating from other parts of the country.”

“Public safety indubitably requires such further extension, not only for the sake of security and public order, but more importantly to enable the government and the people of Mindanao to pursue the bigger task of rehabilitation and the promotion of a stable socio-economic growth and development,” Duterte said in his letter dated December 8, 2017.

Regrouping forces

Duterte said martial law administrator Defense Secretary DelfinLorenzana recommended a one-year extension of martial law to “ensure total eradication of the DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq, other like-minded local and foreign terror groups and armed lawless groups, the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.”

In his letter, the President said the recommendation was based on the security assessment made by the AFP, and a separate evaluation from the PNP.

Duterte said he is seeking an extension of the validity of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018, “or for such other period of time as the Congress may determine, in accordance with Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.”

Despite the death of the Maute brothers and Isnilon Hapilon, Duterte said there are remnants of the terror group who have continued to rebuild their organization through the recruitment and training of new members and fighters to carry on the rebellion, noting that 185 of those who were listed in the martial law arrest warrants have remained at-large, “in all probability, are presently regrouping and consolidating their forces.”

NPA, Turaifie group

Another concern is the Turaifie group, which he said, has been “monitored to be planning to conduct bombings, notably targeting the Cotabato area. The group’s leader is said to be Hapilon’s potential successor as emir of DAESH Wilayat in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, Duterte said the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) continues to defy the government by perpetrating at least 15 violent incidents during the martial law period in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. This year alone, the President said the BIFF has initiated at least 89 violent incidents, mostly harassments and roadside bombings against government troops.

Duterte also cited the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group remain a security concern in Mindanao, especially in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Peninsula. The ASG, on the other hand  has conducted at least 43 acts of terrorism, including attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), harassments and kidnappings this year which resulted in the killing of eight civilians, three of whom were mercilessly beheaded.

The President also included in the list of security threats in Mindanao the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The NPA has perpetuated a total of at least 385 atrocities in Mindanao this year resulting in 41 deaths and 62 wounded on the part of government forces.

Apart from other killings and atrocities involving the NPA, the Chief Executive said 59 arson incidents were carried out this year by communist rebels in Mindanao, targeting businesses and private establishments, and destroying an estimated P2.2 billion of properties.

Go after looters

The Metro Marawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MMCCI) vice president Solaiman L. Matonding is supporting the extension of martial law in Mindanao for “security reasons” but says government must ensure victims of looting and human rights abuses are “given justice.”

Matonding, president of the Marawi Association of Internally Displaced Business Persons Association urged government to look into the looting allegedly perpetrated by members of the Armed Forces (AFP) in Marawi.

He said they likewise seek justice for victims of looting and human rights abuses and that culprits must be prosecuted, otherwise “it won’t be wise to extend” martial law in Mindanao.

Stolen items included, among others, money, pieces of jewelry, sala sets, appliances, jars, decorations and even wooden doors made of “narra.”

“Terrorists don’t have cargo trucks to transport these things, only the military is capable of that,” Matondingsaid.

He recommended to Task Force BangonMarawi the creation of a special body that will investigate possible abuses of the police and military and avoid “extortion by men in uniform” and establish a Marawi Inventory on Properties Damaged Board (MIPRODAB) to conduct an official assessment of actual damage to private properties and business establishments.

Matonding added they seek indemnification to all victims in the business sector.

TheMarawi Chamber estimated losses in the business sector could reach P8.8 billion.

PRRD justifies extension of martial law