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122 NPA members surrender to authorities in Bicol region

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Rebel returnees surrender their arms for a new chance at a better life.

BICOL, Philippines (UPDATED) — A total of 122 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have surrendered to authorities in Masbate.

They belonged to the rebel units operating in the areas of Sorsogon and Masbate.

They were presented to Secretary of National Defensse Delfin Lorenzana during the ceremonial granting of livelihood assistance to former rebels on Tuesday (October 9) under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the Duterte administration.

“Target namin kasi dito i-improve ang peace and order. Iyan talaga all over. Actually iyon naman ang kanyang utos not only in one province kundi all over the country,” Lorenzana said citing the directive from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Female returnees were given sewing machines while male returnees received welding machines for their start up business.

They will get training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on welding machine skills, small engine operations for males and rug-making for females.

The local government, meanwhile, announced that rebel returnees who are members of the E-CLIP will have their respective housing units by next year.

“If these things will materialize we can achieve peace not only in the province but in the entire country,” said Governor Antonio Kho Jr. of Masbate.

Among the rebel returnees was “Lyn” who had been a member of the NPA for two years.

She recalled how miserable her life was when she started serving the communist group at the young age of 14.

Because she is a natural achiever, she had once been entrusted with the group’s budget.

“Kalimitan po pinagbabawalan at saka pinagduduhan po ang bawa’t isa sa amin,”she said.

“Lyn” said she is now enjoying her new-found freedom though she regrets losing a part of her youth to communist service.

“Dito po nagagawa ko yung nagagawa ko pero po doon hindi po kasi… nagsisi rin ako don kasi hindi ako nakapag-aral,” she lamented.

Temporarily, all 122 rebel returnees are staying in halfway houses located within the compound of the Masbate Provincial Police Office.

Based on national statistics, the Bicol region holds the second largest number of rebel returnees in the country next to Davao province in Mindanao. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Allan Manansala)

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REPASO 2018: Dengvaxia scare, communist terrorism and the Martial Law

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

 

The trauma of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine has caused the government the public’s trust to its other vaccination programs.

Measles cases in the country soared by more than 300% last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This was because of the public’s fear of having the same fate as the alleged Dengvaxia vaccinees whose death remain uncertain to this day, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33%. Ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” Duque said.

It was a “lesson learned the hard way”, the DOH said, referring to the impact of the Dengvaxia controversy.

That’s why the agency wants to change how the public views of the agency.

 

A hearing on the controversial dengue vaccine

“Kung mag-i-introduce ka ng new health program, mag-i-introduce ka ng bagong bakuna,  bagong intervenyion kailangan talaga pag- aralan mo. Kailangan kompleto talaga ang iyong ebidensya. Kailangan alam mo ang magiging resulta. You have to communicate it properly doon sa mga recipients, kailangan naitindinhan din ng recipients kung ano iyong tinatanggap nila,” explained Health Spokesperson Undersecretary Eric Domingo.

But aside from the health concerns, the government also faced challenges in security this year.

President Rodrigo Duterte once again requested Congress to extend the declaration of Martial Law in the province of Mindanao for another year or until December 31, 2019.

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_110117_Marawi City

FILE PHOTO: Marawi City ruins (UNTV News)

According to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the extension is needed as terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), Daulah Islamiya and other terrorist groups sowing fear in the region.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that Mindanao is still in the midst of rebellion,” Medialdea said.

Several lawmakers opposed the proposal but later on, martial law was extended for the third time in Mindanao since it was declared on May 2017 when the Maute terror group conquered Marawi City.

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) also remains a challenge to the Philippine government.

 

FILE PHOTO: New People’s Army in formation

The military revealed an alleged ‘Red October’ plot, an oust-Duterte movement allegedly formed by the communist rebels backed by opposition groups.The two groups denied the allegations but according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), they have recovered documents in some encounters with NPA proving that they were plotting a destabilization against the government.

Meanwhile, the government did not declare a ceasefire this year even after the communist group announced their declaration of a unilateral ceasefire.

According to the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) they did not recommend to reciprocate the communists’ ceasefire declaration because leftists were not sincere of their intention and they would just use the ceasefire to strengthen their arms.

Meanwhile, a resolution was submitted to Congress calling the President to revive the peace negotiations with the Reds.

But the President remained cold towards the proposed resumption of peace talks.

Instead, he said he preferred to create a hit squad to match the NPA’s sparrow unit.

“So mag-create ako ng sparrow (unit), Duterte death squad against the sparrow,” the President said.

In December, the President issued Executive Order 70 which created a National Task Force tasked to eliminate the rebel group.

This, despite the continuous surrender of NPA members in different parts of the country through the efforts of military on localized peace talks. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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Hot pursuit operation launched vs. abductors of gov’t troopers in Agusan Del Sur

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday (December 20) confirmed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) already launched a hot pursuit operation against the abductors of government troopers in Agusan Del Sur.

“Mayroong pursuit operations nang ginagawa ang ating tropa. I think OPPAP, si Gen. Galvez is on top of this also,” he said.

Two soldiers and 12 members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were held hostages by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan De Sur on Wednesday (December 19).

Lorenzana believes the NPA terrorists are planning to use their captives as shields against the ongoing military offensives in their area.

But the Defense secretary said the military will not stop until the rebels are neutralized and the captives are safely rescued.

“Gagamitin nilang leverage iyan to stop the operation from military sa area nila. But we will not stop. The soldiers and the CAFGU know that they are at war with these people,” Lorenzana said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Army 4ID Commander MGen. Ronald Villanueva earlier confirmed that a board of inquiry has been created and investigation is underway on the recent attack by the NPA rebels at the Army Detachment in Sibagat.

Aside from the 14 hostages, the rebels have taken 24 high-powered firearms from the military during the incident. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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Historic Balangiga bells to return home on December 11

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

 

One of the historic Balangiga Bells | Photo courtesy: Philippine Embassy in Washington DC

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on Monday (December 3) that the historic Balangiga bells are finally coming home to the Philippines after 117 years.

“Ang bells of Balangiga are coming back home. It will arrive on December 11 in the morning. We are looking at December 15 to return in Balangiga,” Lorenzana said.

The bells were taken by the United States Army from the Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar as war booties during the Philippine-American War. It was used by Filipino fighters to signal the attack against American soldiers at a detachment in Balangiga in September 1901 where 54 U.S. soldiers were killed.

Mayor Randy Graza of the town of Balangiga said preparations are underway prior to the arrival of the bells on December 15, in time for the start of the Catholic’s misa de gallo or simbang gabi.

“Definitely a formal turnover is doon sa simbahan, sa pastoral church. Iyong diocese ang nakakaalam ng program. Sa amin naman na part ang security. Ikino-coordinate namin sa PNP at sa military. Iyon lang naman ang part ng LGU,” he said.

Graza said the organizing committee is contemplating on a possible reenactment of the 1901 Balangiga massacre in association with the bells’ return.

Two of the bells have already been flown from the F. E. Warren Air Force in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to an air base in Guam while the third one has already been placed in a crate in South Korea, ready for transport.

All three bells will be returned to the country.

With the bells’ arrival, the municipal tourism office is expecting an influx of tourists which would help boost the town’s revenue. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Jennelyn Valles)

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