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Court absolves Major Harry Baliaga from Jonas Burgos abduction case

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2017

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_101217_Baliaga Jr

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 found that the prosecution in the Jonas Burgos case failed to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

This prompted the court to decide a “not guilty” verdict in favor of Major Harry Baliaga in connection with the arbitrary detention case filed against him seven years ago.

The prosecution indicted Baliaga, an officer of the Bravo Company of Philippine Army 56th Infantry Battalion, who was alleged as having the custody of the vehicle used in the abduction of Burgos.

The incident was reported to have happened on April 28, 2007 at a mall in Commonwealth Avenue.

The defendant’s camp had three witnesses but they were not able to present them in court.

“Iyong bus, boy umalis siya sa (The bus boy has left the) witness protection program and is nowhere to be found since then. Iyong isa naman may balak mag-abroad tapos di namin talaga ma-trace (The other one has plans of going abroad and we could no longer trace him). Tapos yung isa nga nasa (Another one joined the) military reportedly,” said National Union of People’s Lawyers president Atty. Edre Olalia.

Baliaga maintains he has nothing to do with the crime.

“Nabigla lang din ako noong naisama ako rito sa case na ito (I was also surprised when I was dragged into this case),” said the acquitted.

Major Baliaga said he is ready for his new assignment even if it is in Marawi City as he has been assigned for seven years at the AFP headquarters.

“Full duty nako (I’m on full duty). Wala na akong kaso (I don’t have a case anymore) so I’m looking forward to helping my organization,” said Baliaga.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Edita Burgos, the mother of the abducted activist said, the court’s decision will not stop them to find Jonas.

“This is a bad day. I feel so bad but we will find Jonas,” said Edita Burgos.

Among the respondents in the arbitrary detention case filed in DOJ was AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año who was then the chief of the Army Intelligence Service Group as well as national security adviser Hermogene Esperon who was then the AFP chief of staff.

The two officers were not formally charged, though the Burgos camp filed a motion for reconsideration in 2013.

The AFP meanwhile said they respect the court’s decision and hope that the verdict will put to rest the issues that surround the case that hounded the parties since 2007.

“We respect the decision of the court acquitting Major Harry Baliaga. We submit to the wise discretion of the court in ascertaining the guilt or innocence of the accused charged before it in a deliberate and impartial proceedings,” said AFP Public Affairs Office chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo.

“We hope that this verdict of the court will put to rest the issues that surround case that hounded the parties since 2007,” he added. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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China donates more firearms and ammunition to the Philippines

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, October 5th, 2017


MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will share the USD 22-million worth of firearms and ammunition donated by the Chinese government.

This is China’s second donation of military equipment to the AFP.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año said, 90 sets of sniper scope will go the soldiers battling terrorists in Marawi City while the guns and ammunition will go to the police for their special forces.

“For now, the PNP needs additional firearms, so we have to help the PNP so that they can do their job. They lack long firearms,” said Año.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese donation is part of the friendship and cooperation between Beijing and Malacañang in terms of fighting terrorism.

“I want to thank China for its technical assistance in our anti-terrorism operations in Marawi City, this has been vital in winning the battle against extremist,” said Lorenzana.

Thirty-five sets of engineering equipment are also set to arrive before the end of the year. These sets of equipment, the Philippine authorities said, is for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said China is in full support of the Philippines’ fight against the ISIS-inspired group Maute and illegal drugs.

The Chinese ambassador noted that Beijing has already donated an estimated of 5.5 billion pesos worth of humanitarian assistance and disaster reduction and military equipment to the Philippines.

“Let me assure you that China will provide additional grants and assistance to the Philippines. We would like to be your partner in a rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city of Marawi,” said the Chinese ambassador.

Jianhua explained that the donations will not push through if not for the efforts of President Rodrigo Duterte to repair the relationship of Manila with Beijing. It can be noted the two countries were at odds over the South China Sea during the term of Mr. Duterte’s predecessor.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed, China would like to be a friend in need so we cherish the friendship that rekindled by President Duterte,” said Jianhua. — Lea Ylagan | UNTV News & Rescue

 

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NPA continues attack vs gov’t forces

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, August 7th, 2017

The New People’s Army  (NPA) rebels continue to attack the government forces in different areas of Mindanao according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

That is why they are also being man hunted by the AFP aside from resolving the fight in Mindanao against the Isis-inspired Maute terrorist group.

The AFP warned rebels to surrender and not add to the problems being faced by the government.

“This is the time to surrender.  There are so many programs waiting for you. Forget the armed fighting; it is all for naught, only death.  Time to surrender now,” Lieutenant General Eduardo Año said.

Año added, the NPA attacks are only helping the terrorists.

“What the CPP-NPA is doing is distracting us and preventing us from doing our job.  Those who benefit from this are the Maute-Isis or indirectly they are helping the Maute-Isis,” Año said.

The AFP assured that their operation against the NPA will not stop especially with the community helping them to defeat their forces.

“The people have spoken already.  They are supporting our effort to once and for all finish the CPP-NPA, with our Eastmincom. We will continue the offensive against the CPP-NPA and you will be surprised that there will be more victories to come. There will be more surrenderers from the NPA here in Eastern Mindanao,” Año said.   —  Janice Ingente | UNTV News & Rescue

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AFP confident of General Año’s capability as new DILG Secretary

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, May 12th, 2017

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is confident that Chief of Staff Eduardo Año can perform his new duty well.

AFP Spokesperson Brig. General Restituto Padilla said they are honored that the next Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary is from the armed forces.

Meanwhile, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao is worried over the appointment of the general.

“But ang nangyayari ngayon, ang occupation ng (But what is happening now, the occupation of ) former generals in Cabinet positions and national agencies is going towards an authoritarian militarist policy making, said Representative Casilao.

General Año will take over the position from DILG Officer-in-Charge Catalino Cuy who temporarily replaced Secretary Mike Sueno who was removed from service due to allegations of corruption.

In a short message, Cuy expressed that he welcomes President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of General Año.

President Duterte has clarified that the incumbent AFP chief of staff has to finish his term first before assuming his new post in the president’s Cabinet.

General Año retires in October this year. — Leslie Longboen | UNTV News & Rescue

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