122 NPA members surrender to authorities in Bicol region

Marje Pelayo   •   October 10, 2018   •   7134

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)

70 passengers rescued after motorbanca’s engine trouble at sea

Marje Pelayo   •   December 19, 2019

MASBATE, Philippines – Personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Station in Masbate rescued 70 passengers of a motorbanca that encountered engine trouble at sea.

The sea vessel was plying the vicinity waters off San Miguel Island, Barangay Guinhadap, in the municipality of Monreal, Masbate going to Pilar, Sorsogon on Monday (December 16).

The PCG rescue team confirmed that the passengers were all safe.

All passengers were unharmed and were brought to Pilar Port.

Lorenzana, US counterpart pledge to strengthen bilateral alliance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 19, 2019

United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) and Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (L) shake hands during a press conference at a military camp in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 19 November 2019. Esper is in the Philippines for a series of meetings to discuss terrorism and defense relations between the two countries. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

Department of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and United States counterpart Mark Esper pledged to strengthen the bilateral alliance of the Philippines and the United States during their meeting on Tuesday (November 19).

In a joint statement, the two officials both praised the Philippines-United States alliance and also pledged to improve information sharing to prevent terrorist attacks and the transit of foreign terrorist fighters in and through the Philippines.

“Both sides have committed to focus on developing capabilities and enhancing cooperation in both maritime and aerial domains through the conduct of the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board activities,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, both countries also reiterated their commitment to upholding freedom of navigation, overflight, other lawful uses of the sea in the South China Sea.

Esper said they stand for international rules, pertaining to the maritime dispute between China and other Southeast Asian countries.

“The clear signal that we’re trying to send is not that we oppose China per se, but that we all stand for international rules and international laws and we think China should abide by them as well and that acting collectively is the best way to send that message to get China on the right path,” he said.

Both parties are also open to reviewing the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States.

“In my opinion, it has been made in 1951 at the height of the Korean War. And the situation then compared to now is different. So, we are now in the low-level discussion first,” Lorenzana said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Lorenzana not keen on another extension of martial law in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

Philippines Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the fifth plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 18th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he is not keen on recommending another extension of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31, saying it has been going on for too long.

“Kung ako lang, I will not recommend anymore the extension. Matagal nang masyado eh. We can do our job naman,” Lorenzana told reporters in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

“Kaya nga, especially if the Senate or Congress can pass the, ‘yung Human Security Act na medyo mabigyan ng konting ngipin ‘yung ating law enforcement, then that’s a better arrangement than the martial law,” he added.

Proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 aim to broaden the definition of terrorism, ease restrictions on surveillance and extend the lawful detention of suspected terrorists to 30 days from the current three days.

Lorenzana earlier said these proposed changes would help the police and the military identify terror suspects and build tighter cases against them.

Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017 after Maute Terror group attacked Marawi City.

The martial law was initially set for 60 days but it was extended until the end of 2017, then until the end of 2018 and to the end of 2019.

However, Lorenzana said he will act accordingly if the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces decide to recommend another extension.

“We’ll see, we’ll evaluate the reasons of the military and the police and act accordingly,” he said.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said that President Rodrigo Duterte will take into consideration the recommendation of the defense and security officials before making a decision on whether or not to seek another extension of martial law.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Lorenzana’s pronouncement against prolonging martial rule would also be considered by the chief executive.

“That will be considered by the president. The president always says that he will defer to the advice or recommendation of those who are on the ground,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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