Tag Archive: interior and local government

15 provinces under election watchlist

Authorities have placed 15 provinces placed under a watchlist for possible violence in the upcoming midterm elections, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said.

In a press briefing, Roxas identified the provinces as Abra, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

The provinces, which are home to intense political rivalry, history of armed violence, loose firearms, and private armed groups, are like a “powder keg,” Roxas told reporters.

“Ang mga ito ang may pinaka-high risk na magkaroon ng karahasan,” he said.

More cops on duty, jails checked

Roxas said police task forces will be sent to each of the provinces to help policemen already assigned there in securing the elections.

Police officials that have relatives or classmates who will run for posts in those provinces will be transferred to other areas.

Roxas said jails in the 15 provinces will also undergo a “judicial audit” so authorities can keep tabs of prisoners during the election period.

“Ito’y dahil madalas sinasabi na ang mga preso pinapalabas para gumawa ng karahasan tapos ipapasok lang uli,” he said.

‘The heat is on’

Meanwhile, Roxas said police have already recorded 35 election-related incidents nationwide, including the 15 watchlisted provinces.

“Ngayon pa lang nagkakainitan na,” he said.

In Maguindanao alone, six government officials have already been killed and at four private armed groups were monitored, Deputy Dir. Gen. Alan Purisima, commander of the national police’s election Task Force SAFE, said.

Eighty-five barangays in the province are affected by “threat groups,” Purisima said.

Roxas said 60 active and 47 “potential” private armed groups are being monitored nationwide.

There are 25,065 “loose firearms,” or those in the hands of criminals and rebels, while there are 552,338 firearms whose licenses have not been renewed, he said.

“Kabilang ang mga ito sa mga baril na maaring magamit sa halalan,” he said.

MILF help welcome

Meanwhile, Roxas said he is “open” to suggestions that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which just signed a “framework” peace agreement with the government, be tapped to help secure the elections.

However, Roxas said he still has to consult Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Teresita Deles and chief peace negotiator Marvic Leonen on the matter.

“You have to understand that there’s also been years of mistrust, gaps, but this could be a good confidence-building measure,” he said. (John Roson)

– end –

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has ordered police in Western Mindanao to prepare for a possible increase in crimes in the wake of an investment scam that duped thousands of people of about P12 billion.

“Retaliation” is expected because people lost their money, Roxas said in a press briefing.

Police have so far monitored at least two burnings of houses and some incidents of threats and physical violence that may be linked to the scam by Aman Futures, he said.

“Since the houses were owned by people who are connected (to the company), it’s a reasonable linkage,” Roxas said.

“Petty crimes” are also expected, he said, adding that police have been told to “intensify” their presence.

Meanwhile, Roxas also ordered the regional interior and local government office to investigate reports that internal revenue allotment of some barangays were invested in the scam. (John Roson)

– end –

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas has approved a total of P642.98 million rewards for those can help authorities arrest wanted leaders of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and Abu Sayyaf.

Roxas signed an updated joint order by the DILG and Department of National Defense which details a total of P466.88 million rewards for 235 wanted NPA leaders, his office said in an emailed statement Monday.

Leading the list of wanted communist leaders are NPA “chief” Benito Tiamzon, finance commission head Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos, and Leoncio Pitao, an NPA commander in Eastern Mindanao.

Roxas also signed a DND-DILG joint order which pegs the total amount of bounty for 14 Abu Sayyaf members to P176.10 million.

Included in that list are Abu Sayyaf top leader Radulan Sahiron and bomb expert Usman Ahmad Akmad Batabol alias Basit Usman.

Meanwhile, the DILG chief also formalized the P2-million reward each for the capture of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes, his brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr., and Globe Asiatique developer Delfin Lee.

Palparan is facing a case for kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

The Reyes brothers are wanted for the murder of Palawan-based environmentalist and broadcaster Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega.

Ecleo has been in hiding since he was convicted of killing his wife Alona Bacolod-Ecleo. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Lee has a standing warrant of arrest for syndicated estafa in connection with Globe Asiatique’s Xevera housing projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat of Pampanga. (John Roson)

– end –

The government plans to integrate members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) into the Philippine National Police under the framework agreement reached by their peace panels, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

“A consultation will be held to map out the plan,” Gazmin told reporters at an award-giving ceremony for disaster response teams in Camp Aguinaldo, Wednesday.

The plan is part of reintegrating MILF fighters into the society after they disarm and de-mobilize, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, whose office supervises the police, said at the same event.

“‘Yung mga talagang mahuhusay at nagpapakita na marunong silang sumumod sa disciplines ng armed services ay maaring ma-integrate sa armed services din, whether that is in the AFP or in the PNP,” Roxas said.

Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, PNP spokesman, said the force will respect any agreement between the government and MILF if it is deemed to pave the way for peace in Mindanao.

“Kung ito ang magiging susi, kung magkakaroon po tayo ng sinasabi nating genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao, ay supportive po kami sa ganitong klase ng idea,” Cerbo said in a phone interview.

Reminded that some MILF members are facing criminal charges and included in the PNP’s most wanted list, Cerbo said: “‘Yan naman ay mapapag-usapan, kaya depende na rin kung ano ang mapagkakayarian ng both parties… kami naman ay open, sa ganitong usapin.”

Once the plan materializes, it will be the second time for the government to integrate members of a rebel group into its security forces.

In October 1996, then President Fidel Ramos ordered the integration of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas into the Armed Forces of the Philippines after the government and MNLF reached a final peace agreement the previous month.

The agreement provided for the integration of 5,750 MNLF members into the AFP and auxiliary services.

Meanwhile, Gazmin assured that the government will address the MNLF’s concerns over the accord with the MILF.

“Magkakaroon din ng consultation sa kanila (MNLF), hindi naman basta isusubo sa kanila ‘yun, magkakaroon ng mga interactions,” the defense chief said.

Television and newspaper reports earlier quoted MNLF officials, including chairman Nur Misuari, as saying that the deal with the MILF violates the one with the MNLF.

“That is a remote possibility,” Gazmin said, when asked whether he thinks there will be hostilities with the MNLF. (John Roson)

– end –

Photo courtesy of Army 10th Infantry Division

At least 25 people were killed while about 150 were left missing when a landslide hit a small-scale mining area in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, early Thursday, authorities said.

Colonel Leopoldo Galon, Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said 25 bodies were retrieved and 15 injured persons were pulled from the mud and rocks that collapsed at Sitios Diat 1 and 2 in Brgy. Napnapan.

The landslide, which occurred around 3 am, destroyed at least 50 houses in the gold panning areas, he said.

“Heavy rains caused by a low-pressure area two days ago and an Intensity-3 earthquake in neighboring Davao Oriental may have caused the landslide,” Benito Ramos, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, citing a report from a municipal officer of Pantukan, said more or less 150 persons, mostly small-scale miners, were missing.

‘No man’s land’

The landslide-hit area of Sitio Diat 1 is near another mining area in Brgy. Kingking where a similar incident left several people dead in April, Lt. Colonel Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said.

“No man’s land na ‘yun… nabigyan na sila (residents) ng babala tapos nag-forced evacuation pa ‘yung lokal na pamahalaan ng Pantukan, kaso bumalik na naman sila,” Ramos said when asked why there were still people in the area.

“Ang attraction kasi ng gold malakas, kaya maski hindi puwede, puwede sa kanila. They were forced to leave the area noong April 11, tatlong secretary pa ang nagpunta diyan, sa DENR si (Ramon) Paje, (Jesse) Robredo ng DILG, at saka si (Voltaire) Gazmin ng National Defense, nabigyan na sila ng babala,” Ramos added.

Officials probed

Robredo, meanwhile, ordered an investigation on the possible liability of local government officials for their alleged failure to implement government-imposed measures to stop illegal mining activities in Pantukan.

“The Compostela Valley governor, the Pantukan town mayor, and the barangay chairman of Panganason were all aware of the hazards in the area as declared by the DENR last October. Yes, they ordered a forced evacuation against the illegal miners in the high-risk mining site but they apparently were not able to stop them from coming back in the area,” Robredo said in a statement.

Senior Inspector Gretchin Cinco, Southern Mindanao regional police deputy spokesperson, said rescue and retrieval operations were still ongoing as of Thursday afternoon.

Soldiers, policemen, a military helicopter, and dump trucks from the local government have been sent to help in the rescue and retrieval operations, she said. (John Roson)

– end –