DND welcomes Senate assurance to pass stiffer anti-terrorism law

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019   •   222

Filipino soldiers on top of a military truck celebrate in the ruined city of Marawi, southern Philippines, 17 October 2017.  EPA-EFE/JOEFREY MAITEM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday welcomed the Senate’s assurance to pass tougher anti-terrorism law.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed gratitude to the Senate for heeding their call to amend the provisions of the Human Security Act in an aim to better capacitate and empower government troops to counter-terrorism.

“We at the DND are happy with the reassuring pronouncement of Senate President Vicente Sotto III that they will pass the bill into a law expanding the definition of terrorism among other amendments,” Lorenzana said.

The Defense chief has been pushing for the amendment of the Human Security Act of 2007 to ease restrictions on surveillance and extend the lawful detention period of suspected terrorists to 30 days from the current three days.

Under the proposed measure, the Senate wants to prolong the detention period to 14 days for terror suspects.

“While we are batting for a 30-day period of detention for suspected terrorists to allow the government to build its case, the period of 14 days in the Senate’s proposed amendment is far better than the maximum 3 days under the present Human Security Act,” Lorenzana said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also lauded Senate’s commitment to passing stiffer anti-terrorism law.

“We thank the Senate for taking concrete steps toward amending the Human Security Act to better capacitate and empower government security forces to combat terrorism,” AFP Spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.

“The Filipino people stand to benefit from the passage of this new law that shall address the myriad, complex, and global threat of terrorism— not only in Mindanao where Martial Law terminates on 31 Dec 2019 – but the rest of the country,” he added.

Sotto on Tuesday assured the passage of the bill seeking to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law to prevent future attacks.

Senate Bill 1083, sponsored by Senate committee defense chairman Senator Panfilo Lacson, is currently being discussed in plenary at the period of interpellation.

DND welcomes appointment of Gapay as new PH Army chief

Robie de Guzman   •   December 4, 2019

Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) has welcomed the appointment of Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay as the new commanding general of the Philippine Army.

In a statement, the DND noted that Gapay brings with him years of dedicated military service and leadership.

Gapay’s appointment by President Rodrigo Duterte was confirmed Wednesday by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Noel Clement.

Gapay, a member of the Philippine Military Class of 1986, will replace Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto who is set to retire on Friday, Dec. 6.

Prior to his appointment as Army chief, he headed the Southern Luzon Command which is primarily tasked with anti-insurgency operations.

He also led the military’s Mechanized Infantry Division and also served as deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

He also headed the Joint Task Force Haribon in charge of securing Davao City areas after the 2016 Roxas night market bombing.

Help pours in as death toll in Mindanao quake reaches 21

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 2019

The number of confirmed deaths in the wake of the magnitude 6.6 and 6.5 quakes that struck Mindanao in the past weeks has reached 21.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), most number of fatalities was recorded in Cotabato with nine deaths caused by the magnitude 6.6 tremor and another nine in the magnitude 6.5 quake.

Davao del Sur, on the other hand, registered three deaths caused by the 6.6 quake.

The NDRRMC data also showed 432 individuals sustaining injuries due to the tremor; 301 of which are in Region XII, 117 in Region XI, 14 in Region X, and 1 in BARMM.

The council also confirmed that the temblor that hit the southern part of Mindanao had affected around 35,000 families or around 178,000 individuals in 200 barangays.

Several groups from the public and private sectors, including the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Task Force Tabang Mindanao and the Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao, had extended assistance to the affected families.

Meanwhile, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Saturday (November 2) directed the Department of National Defense (DND) to lead all relief efforts and to ensure safety and security of the public in the earthquake stricken areas of Mindanao.

Medialdea also advised the public “to coordinate directly with the DND and/or the NDRRMC to ensure the efficient conduct of relief efforts, including the distribution of relief goods and rescue operations.” (with details from Rosalie Coz and Davao Correspondent Janice Ingente) /mbmf

DND: ‘Green Aura’ issue must not be blown out of proportion

Maris Federez   •   November 3, 2019

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

The Department of National Defense (DND) on Sunday (November 3) downplayed reports in certain news outlets that a commercial vessel with Filipino crew aboard, the “Green Aura”, was repeatedly challenged by Chinese Coast Guard vessels near Bajo de Masinloc on September 30, 2019.

In a statement, the DND said, “Since the Green Aura, a Liberian ship, was able to safely reach its intended port of destination unimpeded, we believe that what happened should not be blown out of proportion or sensationalized.”

The defense department further said that an official report of the incident has been forwarded to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) for its appropriate action.

The DND has also reiterated its call “for all countries to exercise prudence and respect freedom of navigation and passage in the WPS.”

It stressed that Bajo de Masinloc is well within the Philippine EEZ and that the 2016 arbitral ruling declared it as a common fishing area.

The DND also called on the Chinese government to “respect international maritime laws if it wants to earn the respect of the international community.” (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

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