Tag Archive: Samar

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)

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Soldier hurt in N. Samar clash

One soldier was injured when government troops clashed with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members in Palapag, Northern Samar, on Wednesday, the military said.

Capt. Gene Orense, spokesman of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, identified the injured as Pfc. Joseph Griego, of the 34th Infantry Battalion.

Members of the 34th IB encountered an undetermined number of rebels in Brgy. Jangtud around 8:25 a.m., Orense said.

The 20-minute firefight resulted to the wounding of Griego and an undetermined number on the rebel side, he said.

Meanwhile, soldiers and policemen arrested five men who were caught carrying guns and explosives in Gandara, Samar, also on Wednesday.

The five, who were carrying four loaded caliber-.45 pistols, a hand grenade, explosive devices, and military back packs, were arrested in the outskirts of Brgy. Canhumawid around 8 a.m., Orense said.

When asked if the armed men were NPA members, Orense declined to comment, saying there is still an ongoing investigation.

The suspects are presently under the custody of the Gandara Police, which is preparing appropriate charges, he said. (John Roson)

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1 killed, 7 hurt in Sorsogon bus crash

One person was killed while seven others were injured when the passenger bus they were riding crashed in Pilar, Sorsogon, on Monday, police said.

Fernando Mabignay, 42, a resident of Catbalogan, Samar, died on the spot, Sorsogon Provincial Police spokesman Chief Insp. Nonito Marquez said.

Injured were Jessel Pepito, 16, Mary Rose Pedrosa, 17, Jumar Bayote, 18, Richard Balosa, 33, all residents of Leyte; Jerry Albarico, 33, Oliver Cablino, 21, both of Ormoc City; and Celso Mabignay, 47, of Catbalogan.

The incident occurred around 1 a.m. while Alvin Valencia was driving the PP passenger bus (TVR-614) along the Maharlika Highway in Brgy. Del Rosario.

Valencia was driving the bus from Metro Manila to Ormoc City, when the right wheel ran off the road, Marquez said, citing investigation by the Pilar Police.

While maneuvering the bus back, Valencia lost control of the steering wheel causing the vehicle to slide and turn left side down at the road shoulder, he said.

The fatality’s remains were brought to a funeral parlor in Castilla for autopsy, while the injured were taken to the Vicente Memorial Hospital in the same town.

Valencia surrendered to police in Matnog and was brought to Pilar the same day, Marquez said. (John Roson)

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3 NPA camps seized in Samar

Government troops seized three New People’s Army (NPA) camps on Samar Island following clashes with the rebel group, a military spokesman said.

Two NPA camps were found in Matuguinao, Samar, and the third in Lope De Vega, Northern Samar, Capt. Gene Orense, spokesman of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said.

The first camp was seized after members of the 63rd Infantry Battalion figured in a 30-minute firefight with rebels in Brgy. Inubod, Matuguinao, on Friday.

Two abandoned camps were found in the hinterlands of Brgy. Del Rosario, also in Matuguinao, and in Lope De Vega on Monday.

All camps have bunkers that can accommodate up to 30 people, while the one in Inubod even had advance posts, a kitchen, a hall, and a toilet, Orense said.

Around 5 p.m. Monday, the 63rd IB clashed again with rebels in Brgy. Rizal, Matuguinao. A soldier, identified as Pfc. Elwin Bert Paller, was hurt in the fighting.

Orense said the rebels are abandoning camps not only because of military operations, but also because they are losing support from local communities that used to host them.

“‘Yang mga lugar na ‘yan, dati malakas sila (rebels) diyan, ngayon inaabandona nila ‘yung mga kampo nila, ibig sabihin nawawalan na sila ng suporta dun sa mga barangay,” he said. (John Roson)

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Four soldiers were killed while two others were injured in a clash with New People’s Army (NPA) members in Gandara, Samar, Sunday night, the military said.

The clash in Brgy. Ramon started around 10:30 p.m. and lasted for about 30 minutes, Capt. Gene Orense, public affairs chief of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said.

The military withheld the casualties’ names until their families are notified, but Orense said they were members of the 43rd Infantry Battalion’s “Bayanihan team,” which is performing “peace and development activities,” in the area.

“Despite the loss of lives of my men, we will pursue our efforts in conducting peace and development activities,” Lt. Col. Glen Jun Calambuhay, commander of the 43rd IB, said. (John Roson)

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Ten people, mostly school teachers, were rescued Friday night after large waves brought by tropical storm “Butchoy” (international name: Guchol) caused their boat to capsize in waters near Catbalogan City, Samar, police said.

Superintendent Avelino Doncillo, Catbalogan City Police chief, said all eight teachers and two crewmen onboard the pump boat were rescued by Coast Guard personnel and brought back to land around 10 p.m.

The pump boat left Brgy. Birawan, Daram, around 5 p.m. and capsized while en route to Catbalogan City, according to an earlier report reaching the National Police headquarters in Manila.

Around the same time, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration placed adjacent Eastern Samar under storm warning Signal No. 1 and reiterated a call for small seacraft not to venture out into the seaboards of Luzon, Visayas, and Eastern Mindanao due to big waves.

The police report said three passengers, identified as elementary school teachers Irene Luceriano, Grace Penida, and Maria Luz Teves, went missing when the boat capsized.

Reached by phone for confirmation, Doncillo said the boat’s passengers have all been “all accounted for” later in the evening and were taken by police to the Samar Provincial Hospital for medical checks.

“Ang sabi nung isang teacher, nung umalis sila hindi pa masyado maalon, parang inabutan sila ng malalaking alon diyan sa gitna ng laot dahil na rin dito sa bagyo,” he said.

The teachers, all residents of Catbalogan City, usually rent the boat as a group to go home after their classes in Daram every Friday afternoon, Doncillo said. (John Roson)

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