4 alleged BIFF members surrender in Maguindanao — WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2021   •   451

Four alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have surrendered to authorities in Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said Wednesday.

In a statement, WestMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the relentless focused military operations in central Mindanao have led to the starvation of some terrorists and prompted them to surrender.

Vinluan said the four members of the BIFF-Bungos Faction submitted themselves to the troops of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (1Mech Bn) at about 11 a.m. on July 27.

“They handed over their firearm including one US cal. 50HB machine gun, one R4A3 Carbine with M203 grenade launcher, one cal. 30 Carbine, and one 7.62mm sniper rifle,” said 1Mech Bn Commander Lt. Col. Cresencio Sanchez, Jr.

Subject personalities were subsequently presented to Col. Pedro Balisi, Jr., Commander of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade (1Mech Bde), and Shariff Aguak Mayor Marop Ampatuan at the unit headquarters in Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

The four are currently undergoing custodial debriefing at the 1Mech Bde headquarters, the WestMinCom said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of Joint Task Force Central urged the remaining BIFF members to yield and avail of the government’s reintegration programs.

“Now is the best time for you to surrender,” Uy said.

Since January 2021, the AFP said that the JTF Central neutralized a total of 145 BIFF personalities; 69 of which were killed, 74 surrendered, and two were apprehended.

“The offensives of the Joint Task Force Central will continue despite the mounting number of BIFF members who are now deciding to return to the folds of the law,” Vinluan said.

“Rest assured that all our operations adhere to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws,” he added.

AFP, PNP: Mandatory military training makatutulong sa depensa ng bansa

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Pabor ang Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at ang Philippine National Police (PNP) sa pagpapatupad ng military training para sa mga Pilipinong may edad 18 taong gulang.

Ayon sa PNP, suportado nila ang panukala dahil malaki ang maitutulong nito upang mabawasan ang krimen at maging disiplinado ang mga kabataan. Makakatulong rin ang mga kabataan sa pamahalaan sa panahon ng kalamidad.

“It is ideal for our country to have its citizens ready to be mobilizes for contingencies and emergencies, they can act as military reserve corps na puwede nating i-tap para mapaigting ang ating depensa against lawlessness,” ang pahayag ni PNP spokeperson Police Colonel Rhoderick Augustus Alba.

“Matuturuan din po sila ng practical life-saving skills para maipagtanggol ang mga sarili especially sa mga panahon ng tragedy,” dagdag pa niya.

Sang-ayon rin ang AFP sa pagsasailalim sa mga 18-anyos na Pilipino sa mandatory military training upang makatulong sila sa pagpapatatag sa bansa.

“We welcome the proposal as this is attuned to the times while government is faced with adversities and challenges, aligned with our aspirations for the citizenry to contribute to nation building,” ang wika ni Col. Ramon Zagala, ang tagapagsalita ng AFP.

“Rendering mandatory military service will only help us to establish base for a strong armed forces, and therefore a strong nation,” dagdag pa niya.

Sa pananaw naman ni Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, maganda ang hangarin ng mandatory military training gaya ng pagkakaroon ng disiplina at pagmamahal sa bansa ng mga kabataan.

“We in the DND support the mandatory military service of 18-year-old Filipinos. There are several advantages: First, the military will have a ready and steady trained pool of reservists to defend the country and do HADR work; second, the training and discipline that they will acquire will make them better citizens; third, service to the country will be inculcated in them,” ani Lorenzana.

Gayunman, marami aniya siyang nakikitang balakid sa pagpapatupad ng programa gaya ng kakulangan sa pondo at resources, pati na ang kakulangan sa malalaking kampo sa bansa para sa milyong kabataang sasali sa training bawat taon.

Hindi rin aniya naghahanda ang bansa para sa isang giyera kayat hindi kailangan ng maraming military personnel.

“There are huge hurdles in  implementing this: First, are the funds and resources. Training camps would need to be established all over the land, and manpower and funds must be allocated to accommodate the millions who will reach the age of 18 every year,” ang wika ni Lorenzana.

 “Second, are the anticipated objections of those who are not inclined to serve in the military. Third, we are not on war footing and there will be little need of a general mobilization,” dagdag pa niya.

Mas mainam aniya kung ibabalik ang Mandatory Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) para sa mga pampubliko at pribadong eswelahan dahil sapat na ang training na ito para makatulong ang mga kabataan sa panahon ng kalamidad.

“The implementation of mandatory ROTC in private and public schools is the better alternative. We are already starting to implement this in the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). This program, which targets the K11-K12 levels, will produce a  huge number of youths who will form part of our reservists,” ani Lorenzana.

Taong 2002 nang i-abolish ang mandatory ROTC kasunod ng pagkamatay ng UST student na si Mark Chua nang ilantad ang umano’y ilang anomalya sa training corps.

Sa ngayon voluntary na lamang ito kasama ng dalawa pang component ng National Service Training Program (NSTP) na Civic Welfare Training Service at Literacy Training Service.

Una nang sinabi ni Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte sa isang virtual caravan na isusulong nya ang pagkakaroon ng mandatory military training sa lahat ng 18 taong gulang na pilipino babae man o lalaki. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

 

 

Dahan-dahang phase out ng COVID-19 quarantine protocols, isinusulong

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Isinusulong ng isang opisyal ng pamahalaan ang graduwal na pag-aalis ng quarantine protocols sa bansa sa oras na bumaba na ang mga kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, partikular na ang pagkalat ng Omicron variant.

Ayon kay Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, layon nitong mapabilis ang pagbangon ng ekonomiya at matulungan ang mga negosyanteng makabawi sa pagkalugi lalo na ngayong limitado na naman ang galaw ng publiko at mahigpit mula ang restrictions.

“As we see Omicron start to subside then maybe we can move towards a gradual phase-out of our quarantine in the country,” ani Concepcion.

Naniniwala ang opisyal na malaking dagok para sa ekonomiya ng bansa ang ipaiiiral na restrictions gaya ng mandatory quarantine period dahil apektado rin nito ang lokal na turismo.

Karamihan aniya sa mga negosyong malaki ang lugi ay ang airline companies, hotel at restaurants na dalawang taon na ring limitado ang operasyon dahil sa pandemya.

Ang iba namang maliliit na negosyo ay tuluyan nang nagsara.

Ang mga pasahero namang pumapasok sa bansa gaya ng returning Filipinos ay apektado rin ng mandatory quarantine protocols.

Kaya ang mungkahi ni Concepcion, sa halip na facility-based quarantine na kasalukuyang requirement ng pamahalaan ay gawin na lamang itong home quarantine.

“We are not suggesting to remove quarantine immediately. What I’m proposing to IATF members is that a gradual move towards the removal of quarantine in the Philippines and moving towards home quarantine, rather than facility based quarantine. In my own view is that it does not actually help us from preventing Delta of Omicron from entering the country,” ang pahayag ng opisyal.

Ang panukala ay batay aniya sa ginagawa sa ibang bansa gaya ng Thailand, Switzerland, at Estados Unidos na hindi na nagpapatupad ng mandatory quarantine lalo na sa mga fully vaccinated individuals.

“We should think about it, I believe that eventually as you have seen in the news Thailand, Switzerland started to open up… And some of them are removing their quarantine,” ani Concepcion.

“Seeing how people are coping with COVID-19 in America specifically in Dubai area, I’ve noticed that basically everybody is wearing mask, they are  definitely conscious about you know the need to prevent themselves from getting sick but they live a normal life, there’s a lot of movement and people have accepted that,” dagdag pa nito.

Para kay Concepcion, hindi na kakayanin ng bansa kung patuloy pang hihigpitan ang galaw ng publiko kaya’t kailangang pag-aralan ng mga kinauukulan ang pagluluwag sa restrictions para makabawi ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.

“We will really try to engage with the IATF on starting to study this whole gradual move towards the removal of quarantine,” pahayag ng opisyal.

“We can’t continue to lock ourselves out, we can’t continue to restrict movement we definitely have to open up the economy,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, ayon naman kay acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, kailangang pag-aralan ng mabuti ang pag-phase out ng quarantine protocols dahil hindi naman lahat ng polisiya sa ibang bansa ay aplikable rin sa Pilipinas.

Kailangan rin aniyang may rekomendasyon ng health experts at siyentipikong batayan ang pagpapatupad ng protocols.

“Lahat naman ng mga suggestions naman po ay pinagaaralan natin sa IATF, then of course tinitignan din natin yung ginagawang practices ng other countries, we benchmark also with the practices ng other countries,” ani Nograles.

“But we are also mindful that it’s not a one size fits-all for all countries, kailangang mong tingnan ang konteksto ng bawat bansa… Siyempre base rin po sa suggestions recommendations sa mga health experts natin so lahat is based on science and data,” dagdag pa niya. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Janice Ingente)

 

Concepcion wants Philippines’ COVID-19 quarantine rules revisited

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion on Friday suggested for the government’s task force on COVID-19 response to revisit its quarantine protocols for international travel in light of recent developments in the COVID-19 situation in the country.

In a statement, Concepcion said quarantine restrictions for international travel should be re-examined, noting that other countries, particularly Switzerland and Thailand, have started easing restrictions to allow entry of international visitors.

 “It is quite understandable that public health should be the primary concern of governments. But as COVID itself changes, policy should be also open to re-examination,” he said.

Specifically, Concepcion believes that facility-based quarantines and the use of RT-PCR tests need to be revisited.

“The entry requirements are so extensive and complicated that they put the country out of the reach of international visitors, and even our returning kababayans,” said Concepcion.

He added that when it comes to air travel, the focus should be on testing, and testing fast and accurately.

“The goal is to find out if a passenger is infected, and if not, to send him on his way as fast as possible and not create bottlenecks,” he said.

Thailand recently announced that it will resume its quarantine-free visa program for vaccinated visitors. Switzerland, meanwhile, will not require pre-arrival COVID-19 tests for vaccinated or recovered visitors.

Concepcion also noted that the United States does not require specifically the use of RT-PCR tests or facility quarantines for arriving passengers.

“Inbound passengers to the US only need a negative result from an antiviral test, not necessarily an RT-PCR, taken no more than 24 hours before departure. Rapid tests are acceptable as long as they meet the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” he said.

“This remains true even following the emergence of the Omicron variant. The US does not require facility-based quarantines for international passengers arriving in the US,” he added.

Currently, the Philippines is implementing travel conditions depending on the passenger’s point of origin and vaccination status. All arriving passengers must test negative from an RT-PCR taken 48 hours before departure. Except for fully vaccinated travelers coming from the 32 countries in its Green list, all passengers get swabbed again after having spent at least five days in facility-based quarantine.

Concepcion believes that the Philippines “can do the job with only an antigen test taken 24 hours prior to departure,” saying that “testing closer to the time of departure using an antigen test is more practical than waiting for RT-PCR test results.”

He said RT-PCR test results take longer to deliver results and are more expensive.

As an additional safeguard, he suggested conducting second antigen tests upon arrival, and home-based quarantines instead of facility-based quarantines to allow returning Filipinos to spend more time with their family.

“Our OFWs can’t afford to spend their hard-earned money and precious time to spend days in facility quarantine,” he said.

“Other countries seem to have already accepted the fact that COVID is here to stay. Maybe it’s time we practice living with COVID or else the Philippine economy will suffer and along with it, its MSMEs,” he added.

Concepcion said that the survival of businesses and industries in the Philippines depends largely on government policy.

“This is also quite true of other industries that are downstream from air travel, not the least of which are the tourism and hotel and restaurant sectors. Many MSMEs depend on the trickle-down business generated by air travel,” he said.

“Our economy can’t shut itself from taking any more lockdowns as our country’s debts continue to mount. Time is not on our side,” he added.

Concepcion said the country should move on after taking the necessary steps by vaccinating and boosting the population.

“But these are baby steps. We need to take that leap of faith. While vaccines are the solution to keeping a healthy nation, learning to live with COVID will revive our economy and bring life back to our MSMEs,” he said.

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