DILG supports DND recommendation to lift martial law in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019   •   495

FILE PHOTO: Armed Forces of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday expressed support for the recommendation of the Department of National Defense (DND) not to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31 this year.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said his agency concurs with the DND’s view that “the purpose of Martial Law has been attained based on the assessment of military and police forces.”

The DILG chief also said that “normalcy has returned to the entire region and the peace and order situation in the area has remarkably improved since the Marawi Siege of 2017.”

“In the last two years and eight months that Martial Law is in effect in Mindanao, our military and police forces in the region have significantly degraded the forces and capabilities of the Maute and other threat groups that they no longer have any capacity to launch a Marawi-type attack,” he said in a statement.

“Moreover, three guerilla fronts have been cleared and three Pulang Bagani commands of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) have been dismantled,” he added.

The DILG chief also stated that the lifting of martial law will be beneficial to the country’s economy, bringing with it more local and foreign investments and increase tourist arrivals in the region.

“We also believe that the lifting of Martial Law will be advantageous to the economy as it will signal the full return to normalcy and the end to perceived security risks of investing and travelling to Mindanao,” he said.

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.

Año further noted that local government units, through their respective local peace and order councils from the regional down to the barangay level, are also now more engaged and are actively working with their counterparts in the security sector to carry out peace and security measures in Mindanao.

“In fact, there is a 30% drop in crime in the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) alone,” he said.

Año also assured the public that even without martial law, the police and military will continue to launch security operations to protect the public against possible threat from extremists and communist rebels.

Nationwide road-clearing ops to resume on Nov. 16 – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday directed local government units (LGU) to resume their road-clearing operations after more than seven months of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the resumption of road clearing operations will officially start on November 16, depending on the quarantine classification of LGUs.

LGUs will have about two months or until January 15, 2021 to comply with the directive, he added.

“We hope that the LGUs, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, will show the same enthusiasm and positive results that they were able to achieve last year as we aim for safer and accessible roads free from illegal and potentially hazardous encroachments,” Año said in a statement.

“Despite the January 15 deadline, we wish to remind the LGUs that road-clearing operation is year-long endeavor, kaya kailangan natin ang kanilang commitment at pakikiisa,” he added.

Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-145, Año said that the resumption of road-clearing operations will vary, in different degrees, depending on the quarantine classification of a certain area.

Areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) levels should render full implementation of road clearing operations.

Those under general community quarantine (GCQ) will execute the partial implementation of the program while the road-clearing efforts in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and ECQ will remain suspended.

Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire National Capital Region and other areas of the country under GCQ for the whole month of November with no region in the country placed under the strictest community quarantine classification.

Under the DILG memorandum, road obstructions such as vehicular terminals except in areas designated by the LGUs; vending sites; house encroachments that obstruct the right-of-way; debris, waste materials, and other junked items, among others must be cleared off roadways.

Structures or obstructions erected for locally stranded individuals must also be removed upon return to their intended destination.

Parked ambulance and public emergency vehicles; checkpoints established by IATF, LGUs, PNP, and AFP; and temporary obstructions caused by the establishment of bike lanes, however, are exempted from removal, the DILG said.

Año said that results of road clearing efforts conducted by the LGU will be subjected to validation from January 18 to 22, 2021.

The DILG chief reiterated that LGUs that will fail to comply with the presidential directive will face administrative charges.

In his State of the Nation Address last year, Duterte ordered the DILG and LGUs to reclaim all public roads being used for private ends.

The road clearing operations were suspended in March in line with efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

LGUs, public warned vs extortionists pretending to be DILG execs

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday warned the public and local government units of individuals allegedly posing as DILG senior officials and offering to provide emergency relief aid in exchange for money.

DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya issued the warning following reports from the department’s regional and field offices and LGUs on receiving calls or messages from people pretending to be DILG officials supposedly arranging for COVID-19 or emergency assistance.

“Pinapayuhan po natin ang ating mga LGUs at ang publiko na mag-ingat sa mga walang hiyang mandurugas na sindikato na nagpapakilalang taga DILG at nangingikil ng pera kapalit ng umano’y ayuda,” Malaya said in a statement.

“Kahit po ang inyong lingkod ay ilang beses ng ginamit ang pangalan para makapanloko. Kailanman ay hindi tayo nanghihingi ng pera sa kahit sinong Mayor, Vice Mayor, o kapitan kapalit ng serbisyo publiko na binibigay ng DILG,” he added.

Malaya cited the report of Tuburan, Cebu Mayor Danilo Diamante who received repeated calls from someone who introduced himself as a DILG undersecretary.

Malaya said the caller asked Diamante for money supposedly to cover for the shipping of 1,500 cavans of rice to be given as assistance to his town. The caller also allegedly instructed the mayor to pin a certain SB member for alleged involvement in illegal drugs, which the latter vehemently denied.

The DILG official said the Philippine National Police-Crime Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has been alerted about the matter.

He also urged LGUs and the public to be wary and to verify first with the DILG if they happen to be contacted by a person claiming to be connected to the department.

“Kung sinuman sa inyo ang makatanggap ng tawag o texts sa mga taong nagpakilalang ako o sinuman sa mga DILG top officials, magsumbong o makipag-ugnayan po kayo kaagad sa pinakamalapit na police station para mahuli at maparusahan ang mga impostor na ito,” he said.

Malaya clarified that the DILG routes official communications to its regional and field offices and all LGUs via official channels and not through mere texts or calls.

DILG tells LGUs: Ensure all cemeteries are closed during Undas

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday directed all local government units (LGU) and police commanders to make sure that all private and public cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums are closed during the Undas period.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año reminded local authorities to close cemeteries from October 29 to November 4 to prevent any form of mass gathering amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, as previously ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“September pa lang po nagbigay na ng kautusan ang Pangulo. We expect all LGUs to cooperate by ensuring that cemeteries within their localities are closed. Ito’y para walang mass gathering ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” Año said.

He also mandated all police chiefs across the country to make sure that health and safety protocols are strictly enforced as people begin to flock to cemeteries for the observation of Undas ahead of the closure period.

“The local police commanders and the mayors by now should have discussed the rules that would be implemented per locality but all these local rules that would be crafted should conform to the guidelines set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force),” he said.

The number of visitors in cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums shall also be limited to only 30 percent of the venue’s capacity, with all those entering required to wear face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing.

Año also said that PNP assistance desks must be set up with regular foot patrol to ensure that IATF regulations on the number of people are followed.

The DILG chief said Undas this year will be different from the usual observance as he urged the public for their consideration and patience since the health crisis is not yet over.

“During the pandemic, we are asking for the people’s cooperation by not going to the cemeteries, staying at home from October 29 to November 4, 2020, and visiting their departed relatives days before or weeks after the closure,” he said.

“Maaari naman pong makadalaw sa mga sementeryo ang ating mga kababayan kahit anong edad bago o matapos ang itinakda at ipinagbabawal na mga araw. Ito naman po ay para rin sa kabutihan ng nakararami,” he added.

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