DILG holds Joma Sison ‘personally responsible’ for NPA attack in Eastern Samar

Robie de Guzman   •   December 17, 2019   •   1104

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison is personally responsible for the bloody attack and massacre in Borongan City, Eastern Samar last week.

Three people, including a police officer, were killed when an improvised explosive device went off in Barangay Libuton. The incident also left 24 others injured, including a one-year old baby.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año believes the incident was perpetrated by the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP, after Sison praised the carnage which supposedly proved the strength of the communist movement in the country.

Año added Sison should be held directly responsible for the incident as he exercises direct and absolute leadership over the NPA through the party branch inside every platoon.

The DILG chief cited the CPP founder’s statement from his base in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where he said that the Samar attack on civilians was their answer to the repeated claim of the Army and the police that they have finished off the NPA. 

“The praise coming from the Netherlands simply shows that this was a premeditated attack on both the PNP and the civilians of Samar meant to deliver a message that the NPA is willing and able to terrorize the people no matter the cost,” Año said.

“This is another brazen act of terror against the people. Unfortunately for Joma, the death and wounding of so many civilians only proves to the people what they really are – a ragtag band of terrorist whose thirst for blood knows no equal,” he added.

The DILG chief also noted that Joma even predicted that with the attack in Borongan, the membership of the NPA in the country would continue to rise with the alleged oppression, violence, and corruption of the Duterte administration.

He also claimed that Sison said that the “successful offensive in Eastern Samar would inspire the NPA to stage more bloody offensives against state security forces.”

“We hold all of them responsible for this treachery against the people – Joma and his CPP for ordering this attack, its armed wing the NPA for carrying out this attack, and its political arm, the National Democratic Front for the intelligence, political, and logistical support that enabled the NPA to carry out this treacherous attack against the very people that they said they are fighting for,” Año said.

He called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) “to be true to its word” and conduct a fair, thorough and independent investigation on the incident as previously promised by its spokesperson.

The CHR earlier condemned the attack as a direct violation of humanitarian law, and said it would probe the incident.

“We are hopeful that they will be true to their word and find the Communist Terrorists guilty of crimes against humanity,” Año said.

The DILG chief, meanwhile, hailed the police officer killed in the explosion, Patrolman Mark Jerome Rama.

“The DILG honors Patrolman Rama as a hero and will render full honors to him. We also promise immediate assistance to his bereaved family as befitting his act of ultimate sacrifice in the service of the people,” he said.

Health workers, not cops, will lead transfer of COVID cases to quarantine facilities, DILG clarifies

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday clarified that it will be local health workers who will lead in the search and transfer to government quarantine facilities of suspected or COVID-positive cases who cannot comply with the minimum requirements of home quarantine.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said police will only be there to assist local government officials and health workers in the search and transfer of virus-infected individuals under the program, called “Oplan Kalinga.”

“Again, I wish to emphasize that the PNP’s presence in the conduct of the said program is purely for support and assistance to the LGUs who are taking the lead in defeating COVID-19 in the communities,” Año said as he dismissed claims of militarization since the military will have no role in this effort.

The DILG Chief said that he doesn’t understand why some quarters are speculating about the program since Republic Act 11332 or “An Act Providing Policies and Prescribing Procedures on Surveillance and Response to Notifiable Diseases, Epidemics, and Health Events of Public Health Concern,” specifies that collaboration with law enforcement is encouraged “to protect the people from public health threats.”

He said that Section 4 of the said law states that one of its objectives is expanding collaboration beyond traditional public health partners such as law enforcement entities.

“Itong ginagawa natin ay nasa batas. Sa pangangalaga ng kaligtasan at kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan ay maaaring makipag-partner ang local health authorities sa ating mga law enforcement,” he said.

He said that the local government unit, through its Local Epidemiological Surveillance Unit will be the one to visit the households with COVID-19 patients.

“Ang mangunguna dito ‘yung ating LGU at ang public health authority, pangungunahan ito ng city or local epidemiological surveillance unit kasi sila talaga ang mga expert dito. Pati’ yung resulta ng contact tracing, pati kung sino ‘yung tetesting, ililipat o ire-refer sa ospital,” he stressed.

He added that prior to going to residences, local officials already have the necessary list and identification of households with COVID-19 patients.

These patients will then be assessed if they can comply with the minimum requirements to be permitted to practice home quarantine.

The Inter-Agency Task Force earlier said that patients showing mild flu-like symptoms or asymptomatic are allowed to do home quarantine if he/she has a separate room where the patient can be confined; if the patient has his own comfort room; and if he/she is not living with people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 such as senior citizen and immunocompromised individuals, among others.

If these protocols cannot be observed at home, then the patient must be brought to a local quarantine facility.

Año assured the public that no rights will be violated as police officers’ presence will be limited to assisting in transporting patients and ensuring that lockdowns are imposed.

“We are very systematic naman in our approach. Bago pa pumunta sa lugar ay kumpleto na sila ng listahan at ng pangalan. Ito naman ay mga naka-PPEs (personal protective equipment) ‘yung ating health officials and health workers dito. Trained din naman ‘yung pulis para pumasok,” he said.

The DILG Chief urged the public’s cooperation by reporting households with confirmed COVID-19 cases and are currently practicing home quarantine despite not having the appropriate facilities. 

“Kailangan po nating ipaalam sa ating mga autoridad ang mga ganitong kaso para sila po ay mailagay sa tamang pasilidad at doon magpagaling. Ito naman po ay para rin sa kapakanan ng buong komunidad at nang hindi na dumami pa ang COVID-19 cases,” he said.

Gov’t to allow motorcycle back-riding for married, cohabiting couples starting July 10

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has allowed motorcycle back-riding for married and cohabiting couples beginning Friday (July 10) under certain conditions.

According to DILG Spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, a motorcycle rider must provide a protective shield in between him and his back ride and both must wear respective helmets and facemask.

“Kailangan po ito for safety purposes at for convenience na rin po. So instead na nakayakap tayo doon sa driver, dito na po tayo hahawak [This (shield) is for safety purposes and for convenience as well. Instead of directly embracing the driver, we will hold on to this],” Malaya explained as he demonstrated how to use the protective shield.

“So kailangan din solid din ito at naka-bolt o welded doon sa motor para maging safe for both individuals utilizing the motorcycle. [This (shield) must also be solid and bolted or welded on the motorcycle to be safe for both individuals utilizing the motorcycle],” he added.

Malaya said the DILG will release an official design of protective shield which shall be used as pattern for motorcycle riders.

“Ang importante lang po ay more or less ay sumunod tayo doon sa design na inaprubahan at ito po ay made of solid materials [What’s important is that we adhere to the approved design and it should be made of solid materials],” Malaya said.

Both riders must have a valid ID and a legal document that proves their relationship as a couple which may be presented at checkpoints.

“Pwede pong dalhin nila yung kanilang marriage certificate o kaya any government-issued ID na nakalagay doon sa likod na relationship at name ng mister o misis at address [They may bring their marriage certificate or any government-issued ID that bears at the back their relationship, the name of spouse and their address],” Malaya said.

However, Malaya clarifies that non-related back riders are still not allowed and violators will be apprehended and issued with citation tickets. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Passengers without confirmed flights won’t be allowed at airports, DILG says

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday reiterated its call on passengers not to go to the airports as they will not be allowed to go in if their flights and tickets are not confirmed.

In a statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said strict health protocols are being implemented in airports amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and operations of airlines and other transportation companies are bound by these rules.

With the limited flights currently allowed to operate, Malaya stressed that “going to the airport without a confirmed flight or ticket is a waste of energy and time and will just lead to frustration.”

He advised passengers to contact the airlines to ensure that their flights are confirmed to avoid inconvenience.

He also reminded passengers that all tickets purchased prior to the pandemic have already been cancelled by the airlines and will need to be rebooked based on the new schedule of flights approved by airport authorities.

“Patuloy po ang paalala natin sa ating mga kababayan na huwag pong magpunta sa mga airport or seaports kung wala po tayong confirmed na flight,” he said.

“Mangyari lamang po na makipag-ugnayan kayo sa inyong airline kung confirmed ang inyong flight. Mapapagod lang po kayo sa biyahe at masasayang ang pera ninyo at mauuwi lang po ito sa wala,” he added.

Malaya also said that walk-in customers will not be able to purchase tickets at the airports as all flights are regulated in coordination with the airline companies.

“Even if you were issued a ticket by the airline, you will have to confirm that prior to going to the airport because there may have been some changes in flight schedules. Moreover, all tickets issued prior to the pandemic are canceled and will not be honored by airport authorities,” he said.

The Department of Transportation, through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), earlier released an advisory requiring all airlines to secure accurate information, especially the contact details of all passengers, even those who purchased tickets from travel agencies, to ensure that they will be properly notified by the airlines if flights are canceled. Moreover, the said information may also be helpful in future contact tracing purposes.

The CAB also directed all airlines “to make appropriate public announcements advising individuals who have purchased tickets prior to the COVID-19 crisis that their flights are canceled and that they need to rebook accordingly.”

So far, only 29 airports nationwide are open for operation and even in airports allowed to operate, there are limited flight schedules upon the request of Local Government Units, the DILG said.

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