AFP sees extortion as primary motive behind blast in Lamitan, Basilan

Marje Pelayo   •   August 1, 2018   •   3154

AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr and WestMinCom commander Lieutenant General Arnel dela Vega

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is running out of resources, that’s why they resort to extorting money from the communities.

This is the main reason that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sees behind the bombing incident at Sitio Colonia in Lamitan, Basilan on Tuesday (July 31).

According to AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr., the bandit group is in dire need of money to fund their operation.

“Base doon sa information at saka sa report, humihingi sila ng P50,000 sa lahat ng mga LGUs and that single action iyon na ang ginagamit nilang panakot para lahat ng mga LGUs, kung 11 mayors iyon ay times P50,000, malaking amount ng pera iyon,” said Galvez.

But the local government of Basilan maintains not giving in to the demands of the terror group even if they say that the money is in exchange for the release of their captives.

“Secondly is to gain some support kasi nakita natin na ang Abu Sayyaf sa Basilan more than 150 na iyong nagsu-surrender and they wanted to make some very strong statement and that statement is through the bombing na ito,” Galvez further said.

Meanwhile, the government is not discounting the possibility of the ASG sowing terror elsewhere.

This prompted PNP Chief Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to tighten the security in checkpoints and the implementation of Oplan Sita across the country.

“We have to be on our toes especially so here in Metro Manila, dito sa NCR, dahil malaking impact iyan pag dito. Kaya todo ang pagbabantay  natin dito,” the PNP Chief said.

“Anything can happen anything is possible. But based on our intelligence, on our data, the probability is not that high,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel De Vega, AFP Western Mindanao Commander, when asked about the probability of the terrorist attacks.

The military, meanwhile, appealed to the public not speculate but to stay calm instead and let the authorities do their respective jobs. – Dante Amento / Marje Pelayo

COVID-19 inoculation mandatory but soldiers can choose brand – AFP spox

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The vaccination of military personnel against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be mandatory although the soldiers can choose which brand to receive, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.

In a virtual press briefing, AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said all soldiers will be obliged to get inoculated as ordered by AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.

The directive came even as the military has yet to ascertain where its vaccine supply will be coming from, or if they are among those who will receive the first 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

“Ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas po is not like any ordinary organizations. Tayo po ay nasa service-orientated organization. Tayo po ang inaasahan sa napakaraming mabibigat na tungkulin kagaya nga po ng pagharap sa pandemya as early as 2020. Kaya sinabi natin na hindi opsyon ang pag-ayaw. Subalit kinikilala natin yung kanilang kagustuhan ng brand na gusto nila” he said.

Military personnel who will be choosing other brands of the vaccine will need to pay for their own jabs, Arevalo said.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face sanctions under military rules, he added.

“We are an organization under military regulations. So, ang pagtupad sa mga regulasyon o sa mga tinatadhana ng existing legal orders buhat sa ating mga superiors just like this one from the AFP Chief of Staff, no less, will be dealt with disciplinary actions kung hindi nila susundin,” he said.

“But we are confident na hindi na tayo darating sa punto na iyon,” he added.

The AFP said all its employees and troops assigned in the medical and healthcare units will be the first to get inoculated against COVID-19.

The donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from China are expected to arrive in the country this weekend. RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

BI warns OFWs vs extortionists, fixers posing as immigration officers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday warned overseas Filipinos workers against a modus involving fixers pretending to be immigration officers to extort money from their unsuspecting victims.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning citing a complaint that they received from an aspiring OFW last December 2020.

“We have received a complaint sometime in December regarding a Filipino worker who wanted to depart to Dubai under a tourist visa, but was intercepted at the airport,” Morente said in a statement.

“An immigration officer who introduced himself as James approached her and offered to escort her for a fee,” he added.

According to the complainant, “James” claimed that he was assigned as an immigration officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and had the capacity to allow the victim’s departure.

The victim said she initially transferred P7,000, followed by P28,500 through bank transfer to the suspect. She again later transferred P39,500 upping her total transfer to P75,000 and attempted to depart but was intercepted again.

“The victim tried to ask for her money back from the suspect but he made excuses about it. Upon verification with our records, we had no such employee,” Morente said.

Morente said they had sought the help of government intelligence agencies, as well as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in pursuing the case against the fixer.

“I am unable to disclose the details of the said fixer, but we received intelligence information yesterday about him. We already have his identity,” he said.

“I have instructed our Travel Control and Enforcement Unit and Intelligence Division to coordinate with the NBI and ensure that this person faces the harshest penalties of the law,” he added.

Morente urged OFWs not to entertain offers of fixers and extortionists so as not to fall prey to their schemes.

“They are sweet-talkers that will entice you to attempt to work illegally, but we have already measures in place to prevent that from happening,” he said.

“Report any fixing and extortion attempts to the police to make sure that they are arrested and they are prevented from victimizing other people again,” he added.

AFP Chief assures: military mandated to secure country; not threaten people

Marje Pelayo   •   February 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Cirilito Sobejana underscored that the military is instituted to secure the country and serve its people, and not to threaten anyone.

“The reason of our existence is serving the people and securing the land, no threatening among our constituents,” Sobejena said.

“Paano kami magiging effective public servant if we threaten them, unless they are identified as enemies of the state,” he added.

Sobejana made the statement in connection to the possible lawsuit that National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Spokesperson Lt. General Antonio Parlade plans to file against a reporter of Inquirer.Net.

Sobejena, however, said that whatever Parlade says as spokesperson of NTF-ELCAC also reflects the stand of the AFP as he is an officer of the military.

“We will discuss this matter together. He is part of the armed forces pero for now, nadesignate siya as spokesperson, reflective pa rin sa organization. That’s why we need to discuss all these things para ma thresh out natin lahat,” the AFP Chief of Staff said.

The issue stemmed from a Facebook post of Gen. Parlade accusing Inquirer.net journalist Tech Torres-Tupas of being a propagandist when the latter featured a story involving a petition in the Supreme Court that was filed by an Aeta tribe against the military for allegedly torturing them.

In the said post, Parlade denied the incident and threatened to charge the journalist in court for supporting the terrorists by spreading false information. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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