Buses, military trucks deployed for today’s transport strike

By Evan Orias

THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority yesterday urged commuters to take alternative modes of transport like the Pasig River Ferry System or the agency’s vehicles as a transport group holds a strike today.

The MMDA said it would provide stranded commuters with buses and military trucks at seven areas — Monumento (in front of the Manila Central University), SM Marikina, Luneta Parade Ground, HK Town Plaza in Pasay City, UP Technohub in Quezon City, MMDA parking lot in Makati City, and Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The MMDA said commuters can take the ferry boats at stations in Metro Manila — Pinagbuhatan station in Pasig; San Joaquin in Mandaluyong; Maybunga, Hulo, Valenzuela, and Guadalupe in Makati; and Lambingan, Sta. Ana, PUP, Lawton, Escolta, and Plaza Mexico in Manila.

The ferries operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Fare ranges from P20 to P95.

The Stop and Go Coalition said it is holding a strike in protest of government’s plan to phase out decrepit public utility vehicles (PUV).

The group also held transport strikes last July 17 and February 6, and February 27and inconvenienced passengers.

Stop and Go Coalition leader Jun Magno said the group is also against the proposed cost of e-jeepneys which is P1.6 million per unit. The Department of Transportation wants old jeepneys to be replaced with Euro 4 or electric jeeps to reduce pollution in Metro Manila.

The government plans to scrap public utility vehicles older than 15 years, including those with low-emission and vehicles with new engines and chassis but do not comply with the environmental standards by 2020.

The DOTr has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Development Bank of the Philippines for the provision of P1.5 billion for the initial implementation of the agency’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.

George San Mateo, president of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON), said his group will not participate in the strike because it was not included in the planning of the transport strike today.

San Mateo was charged last Friday by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for violating the public service law.

The complaint stemmed from the transport strike against the modernization program held on last February 27, of which San Mateo was one of the leaders.

The complaint-affidavit filed before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office said San Mateo violated the Public Service Act when he pushed through with the strike despite a prohibition stated in an LTFRB memorandum circular saying conducting a strike as a means of protest against a government action is prohibited.

The LTFRB said San Mateo and his group, by holding the transport strike, “capitalized on the public necessity, which they were supposed to serve.”

Reacting to the complaint, San Mateo yesterday accused the LTFRB of harassment, saying the complaint is intended to sow fear among jeepney drivers and operators.

He said President Duterte had given them the go-signal to stage a strike during a dialogue in Malacañang last July 18.


Duterte flies to Marawi anew

By Christina Mendez

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte went straight to Marawi City last night, leaving Manila amid protests against his administration over extrajudicial killings and police abuses in relation to his drug war.

Duterte spoke to troops stationed in Marawi where he expressed full support for the military’s efforts to liberate the city from the Islamic State-inspired Maute terror group.

Unfazed with the massive protests in Rizal Park, Manila yesterday, Duterte also reiterated that there will be no letup in the campaign against drugs despite the “unnecessary deaths” without directly referring to the killings of teenagers Kian delos Santos, Carlo Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman.

“The war on drugs will continue. There will be no letup. Just because there were one, two, three, four, five unnecessary deaths,” he said in his speech aired over radio dzBB last night.

In his fifth visit to Marawi, Duterte said the criminal should yield to the authorities to avoid any encounter.

“The duty of the criminal is to surrender. If not, the next law that mandates to the soldier or the police. Surrender, so that you are put under the law,” Duterte said.

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Duterte added that the law enforcers must assert their mandate to put the suspects under their authority, especially during resistance.

“(The) law says you must overcome the resistance, you can drag him – that process alone would mean that there would be some injury,” the President said.

The other day, Duterte called on the public to help him in rebuilding Marawi City from the rubble.

He noted that the government needs at least P50 billion just for the rehabilitation of the city that was destroyed by almost four months of fighting between security forces and the Maute group along with supporters of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.

Duterte said the conflict in Marawi is almost over but he sees no need to celebrate.


Navy, Air Force hold joint drills in Western Mindanao

By Roel Pareño

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Navy and Air Force have been staging joint exercises of anti-terrorism and territorial defense operations in response to continued fighting in Marawi City.
R.Adm. Rene Medina, Naval Forces Western Mindanao commander, said his unit partnered with the Tactical Operations Wing of the Air Force 3rd Air Division in the ongoing exercise that started Monday.
Medina said the exercise — dubbed Interoperability Exercise ‘Ayudahan’ 2017 — is the first between the two units and is meant to enhance their ability to meet security threats in the southern Philippines.
“The interoperability exercise aims to develop interoperability and operational capabilities of NFWM-TOC units in Western Mindanao Area of Operations and enhance the overall coordination and responsiveness in the conduct of joint maritime operations in support to Internal Security Operations and Territorial Defense Operations,” Medina said.
Navy units participating in the exercise are Naval Task Force 61, Naval Special Operations Unit 6, Naval Air Unit-Western Mindanao, Naval Intelligence and Security Group-Western Mindanao and the Maritime Situational Awareness Center-Western Mindanao.
The Air Force is represented by the 15th Strike Wing, 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, 304th Air Intelligence and Security Squadron, 722nd Special Operations Squadron and the 505th Search and Rescue Group.
“The continuous collaboration of the two forces is evidence of a strong commitment to serve and perform their respective duties for the pursuit of lasting peace, order and development in Western Mindanao,” Medina added.

Palace: No nationwide martial law

By Christina Mendez

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang assured the people yesterday that President Duterte will not expand martial law nationwide as  protesters vowed to prevent the return of Ferdinand Marcos’ brand of military rule.

Responding to the rallyists’ calls for an end to tyranny, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte would not expand martial law to Luzon and the Visayas despite mounting protests against extrajudicial killings, abuses and corruption.

Duterte imposed martial law in the whole of Mindanao after members of the Maute terror group attacked Marawi City on May 23.

The imposition of martial law in Mindanao as well as the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus were eventually extended by Congress until the end of this year.

In a press briefing in Marawi, Duterte said he is ready to lift martial law in Mindanao once the government gets total control of the city.

Duterte visited the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Army at Camp Ranao where he also told the military that they will just quietly pack up their equipment and belongings once the battle is over.

He reiterated that there will be no celebration of victory, noting the many lives lost and the havoc caused by the long-drawn battle with Islamic terrorists.

Amid yesterday’s massive protests, Abella noted that Duterte has emphasized many times that the administration respects every Filipino’s right to peaceably assemble and seek redress against the government.

“Again and again, inulit niya hindi iyan ang patutunguan natin,” he said, shooting down any possibility of martial law declaration by the Chief Executive.

Abella reiterated that Duterte has time and again stressed that he will allow everybody to join protest rallies, and Malacañang had even declared yesterday as a National Day of Protest.

“He is allowing the protest, as long as the (rallyists) will not resort to violence and the destruction of property, in which case the response will be firm. But if you refer to martial law, he won’t (declare it),” Abella said.

“In fact, even at the start, the President has tried to reach out to just about everybody, left to right. And again he started out with having a rainbow Cabinet … including left, including right, top bottom,” he added.

Abella then reminded that the Chief Executive has been sincere in his intent to ensure that nobody will be left out in his administration.

“So, sa simula’t sapul po ang (even from the start) President has been very inclusive and one thing, in his line – a comfortable life for all. In other words, damang dama po ng Presidente ang hinaing ng tao and again and again, especially he is against corruption, crime and abuses,” he said.

Abella said the national day of protest is a healthy exercise in democracy.

“This is also an opportune time for those in the government to hear the voice of the governed as part of our efforts to uphold the highest standards of good governance,” the Palace spokesman said in a statement.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the declaration of national day of protest dispelled notions that Duterte is a tyrant.

“The President is showing the world that he is not tyrannical as the opposition claimed,” Andanar told state-run Radyo Pilipinas in an interview.

Thousands of demonstrators from multisectoral groups converged in Rizal Park, Manila to protest the extrajudicial killings and the possible declaration of martial law nationwide.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Bustamante, deputy chief of the Police Community Relations Group of the Philippine National Police, said 1,000 policemen were on standby and ready for deployment to secure the protest rally in Rizal Park.

Meanwhile, presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio lamented how the organizers of the protest rally reportedly used children.

The mayor reacted to a report she received on Facebook regarding the supposed participation of about 60 indigenous children in the protest rally in Davao City yesterday.

The mayor pointed out that the protesters do not even have a budget for medicines if the children get sick.

“Magkasakit mga bata adto dayon mo sa Lingap ug DSWD (When the children get sick you immediately run to the Lingap Para sa Mahirap local social welfare program and the Department of Social Welfare and Development), she said.

Meanwhile, Carpio has ordered the cancellation of classes in all private schools in Davao City after President Duterte declared Sept. 21 as National Day of Protest.

“This is because of the security and safety concerns brought by the expected protest actions tomorrow and the inconvenience and delays it may cause to the travel of the students and the general public,” the mayor said. 


Año assures all dependents of soldiers KIA in Marawi to get scholarships

By Francis Wakefield

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Eduardo M. Año assured that all dependents of soldiers killed in action (KIA) in the ongoing war against Daesh-inspired Maute group terrorists would be provided with scholarships by the government.

Año made the remark as the AFP on Friday honored its partners and stakeholders for their immeasurable support to the education of military dependents and their notable achievements during the stakeholders recognition ceremony held at the Tejeros Hall of the AFP Commissioned Officers’ Club in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Año told reporters during an interview that aside from providing scholarship to the children of the soldiers slain in the ongoing conflict in Marawi, the widows will also be given an opportunity to work in a department of their choice.

“Iyun naman hindi magwo-work meron ding livelihood programs para sa kanila. May mga donor tayo na magsu-support doon sa program..Up to as much to P2 million ang support diyan (We also have livelihood programs for those who won’t work. We have donors who are supporting the program.  The program is supported by up to as much as P2 million),” Año said.

Among the attendees during the stakeholders recognition ceremony were the officials and staff of 18 partner institutions and the 16 grantees of the AFP Educational Benefit System (AFPEBS).

The AFP also proudly highlighted the feat of their magna cum laude graduate, five cum laude graduates, and 15 Student Achievement Recognition System (STARS) awardees.

“Stakeholders recognition ceremony is held annually to recognize the role of individuals and institutions that continuously support the education of our soldiers’ dependents through their partnership with the AFP Educational Benefit System (AFPEBS),” said Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs chief.

“The occasion also aims to further develop the relationship between the AFP and its partners, and to recognize their key contributions to the academic success of the military dependents. These achievements bring about pride and fulfillment for the AFP, its partners and stakeholders as they contribute to the welfare improvement of our soldiers’ families,” he added.

Arevalo said all these efforts are in line with the AFPEBSO’s commitment of  “Leaving No Soldiers’ Orphan Behind.”

Aside from Año who served as keynote speaker, also in attendance were AFP vice chief of staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr., the acting deputy chief of staff of the AFP Maj. Gen. Elvin Velasco and Brig. Gen. Arnel Duco, AFP J1.


RP-US military rebuild schools in Aurora


THE United States marines and sailors on Friday broke the ground for the renovation of several schools and a day-care center in Casiguran town in Aurora province.

In a press statement, the US Embassy public affairs office said the US service members with the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3d MEB) and their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have joined together in this engineering and construction projects at three different sites in Casiguran town.

The projects include renovations of C.J. Torre Elementary School, Esperanza Elementary School, and Esperanza Daycare Center.

GROUNDBREAKING US Marines, Philippine military and city officials break ground for renovations at C.J. Torre Elementary School as a part of Kamandag in Casiguran, Aurora. PHOTO COURTESY OF US EMBASSY

“[The projects] aim to provide the children with a more spacious, modern, and comfortable environment in which to learn and play. It includes building new classrooms and canteens and updating electrical wiring,” the US Embassy said.

The Embassy said the construction work is a joint civic assistance activity which forms part of the upcoming US-Republic of the Philippine bilateral military exercise called Kamandag highlighting RP-US military partnership.

Kamandag stands for Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat (Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea).

“The bilateral exercises like Kamandag strengthen working relationships and increase the ability for service members to respond rapidly during real world terrorist or humanitarian crises,” the embassy added.

Meanwhile, about 600 Girl Scouts in Casiguran town were taught by the US military medical teams basic lifesaving skills, disease prevention and dental hygiene.

RP-US military rebuild schools in Aurora

More benefits for men in uniform pushed

Written by Camille P. Balagtas

WITH the lives of uniformed and law enforcement personnel at risk in the performance of their duties especially in the Marawi conflict and anti-crime campaigns, Sen. Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV has sponsored Senate Bill No. 1462 or a bill granting special financial assistance and benefits to the beneficiaries of uniformed and law enforcement personnel.

Trillanes said that considering the risks they face, it is imperative that the government provides assistance to the family of the members of the PNP, AFP, BFP, BJMP, PCG, NBI, BuCor and PDEA, in case they get killed or are permanently incapacitated in line of duty.

In 1990, Republic Act No. 6963 was enacted to grant special financial assistance and benefits to the family or beneficiary of any police, military personnel, or fireman killed or permanently incapacitated while in the performance of duty.   However, the benefits under this law were limited to the members of Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Bureau of Fire Protection.

The Senate Civil Service Committee, chaired by Trillanes, seeks to replace and expand coverage of this law. Under SBN 1462, the family or beneficiaries of the deceased or disabled members of the PNP, AFP, BFP, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine Coast Guard, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Corrections and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will receive, on top of the other benefits they are entitled to, a special financial assistance, which is equivalent to six months of their monthly average salary, including allowances, bonuses. In the event that they suffer any injury in the performance of his or her duties, the hospitalization expenses, including the costs of necessary medicines and medical equipment, should be shouldered by the office or agency to which they belong.

The financial assistance should be delivered by their respective office within three days from the receipt of their death certificate, or permanent disability notice. The funding for this will be sourced from the expected salaries, allowances and bonuses of the deceased or permanently incapacitated personnel.

“Through this measure, we hope to assure our uniformed and law enforcement personnel that the government will continue to look after the welfare of their families, even after their selfless service to this country,” the former navy officer turned senator said.


3 nominated to AFP top post

By Francis Wakefield

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said he will submit to Malacañang the names of three possible successors upon his retirement from the military service next month.

Ano said all three officials have a rank of lieutenant general and are all fit and qualified to lead the 125,000-strong military.

Ano is set to retire from the military at the age of 56 on October 26, 2017.

“Well I will recommend at the minimum three names and then isusubmit ko yan kay Presidente.  So nasa discretion ng ating Presidente kung sino pipiliin niya doon sa tatlong names na isusubmit ko (I will recommend a minimum three and submit their names to the President, who has the discretion to pick any of the nominees),” Ano said.

3 nominated to AFP top post

AFP to acquire P853.5M worth of ammo

 (The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is spending P853.5 million for ammunition of 105 mm howitzer.

The Philippine Army bids and awards committee set the pre-bid conference for 28,450 artillery rounds today.

Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson, chief of the Army’s public affairs office, said the procurement of ammunition is not because of the conflict in Marawi. He said the military is not running low on ammunition due to the ongoing fighting with Maute militants.

Tiongson said the procurement of ammunition is a regular operational requirement of troops in the field.

”We are advancing our procurement based on projected requirements,” Tiongson said. “We have to maintain the basic loads of our artillery units as well as our reserve ammunition.”



AFP to turn over cash donations for IDPs


By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it will soon turn over the cash donation it was able to collect for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in war-torn Marawi City to the local government units (LGUs), according to AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

In yesterday’s Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang, Padilla disclosed that cash donations have already reached P943,945.21 as of Thursday afternoon.

Padilla said AFP Chief Gen. Eduardo Año has already instructed them to facilitate the speedy turnover of the cash donation to the LGUs so it can be used on whatever the IDPs need.

“Ang kanyang kabilin-bilinan po sa atin ay i-turnover na po ito sa ating mga local government units. Ina-ascertain lang at gagawin natin ito through Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) (He told us to turn it over already to the LGUs. We are just ascertaining and we will turn it over through the WestMinCom),” Padilla said.

According to Padilla, the AFP chose to turn the cash donation over to the LGUs instead of distributing this directly to the families so the needs of the IDPs can be addressed more effectively.

“Sila na po ang bahala kung paano nila gagamitin ito para makatulong sa nakararami nating mga kababayan na nasa evacuation center (It’s up to the LGUs how they will use the money to help those in the evacuation centers),” Padilla said.

“Ibabahagi natin ito sa mga namamahala ng evacuation centers at kung ano man ang priority nila na kailangan maaari nilang gastusin doon (The amount will be distributed to those managing the evacuation centers and they can use the money on what they need the most),” he added.

“Kasi kung ibabahagi natin ito o idi-distribute natin ito sa bawat pamilya, baka P10 na lang bawat tao. So magiging useless (If we distribute it to each families, we might just end up with P10 per person. It would be useless then),” he continued.

Last June, the AFP announced that it opened two special bank accounts to those who would want to extend assistance to the families of the soldiers who died in Marawi City and for the Marawi citizens displaced by the ongoing armed conflict.

Source: http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/08/25/afp-to-turn-over-cash-donations-for-idps/