DOJ orders NBI to probe Calbayog mayor’s slay

Robie de Guzman   •   March 9, 2021   •   499

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice on Tuesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe into the shooting incident that killed Calbayog City, Samar Mayor Ronaldo Aquino.

In the Department Order No. 057 dated March 9, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra directed the NBI to look into the incident that claimed the lives of Aquino and his three aides.

Guevarra cited the provisions of Republic Act 10867 or the National Bureau of Investigation Reorganization and Modernization Act in authorizing the agency to undertake the investigation.

“…[T]he NBI, through officer-in-charge Eric Distor, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct an investigation on the shooting incident in Calbayog City, Samar on March 8 which claimed the lives of Mayor Ronaldo Aquino of Calbayog City and other persons,” the order stated.

The investigating body was also directed to file appropriate charges against all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act in connection with the case, if evidence warrants.

The NBI has been given ten days to submit reports on the progress of the investigation to the Office of the Secretary of Justice.

Initial police report showed that Mayor Aquino and his aides were killed after a gunfight with armed men riding another vehicle on Monday afternoon in Barangay Lonoy, Tinambacan District in Calbayog.

The mayor and his aides were aboard their vehicle going to the northern part of Calbayog City when they thought they were being tailed by another vehicle.

One of Aquino’s security details allegedly fired at the other vehicle and its passengers retaliated.

The passengers of the other vehicle turned out to be members of the Philippine National Police Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Group.

Aquino, his driver and a security escort were killed in the incident while another aide was rushed to a hospital.

A police officer was also killed while another was injured.

Guevarra earlier told reporters that the investigation has been referred to the NBI “for the simple reason” that the other party involved is the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The PNP, for its part, said it has formed a special task group to look into the incident as well as the involvement of police officers.

DOJ reiterates law enforcers should not interfere with community pantries

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reiterated that law enforcement agents should not interfere with anyone doing good deeds which include setting up community pantries.

In a statement, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a law enforcer should also not question individuals involved in community pantries unless they are violating laws.

“Suffice it to say that a person voluntarily doing an act of kindness and compassion toward his neighbor should be left alone,” he said.

“It is not proper for law enforcement agents to interrogate him unless there is reason to believe that he is violating any law, ordinance, rule, or regulation for the good or welfare of the community,” he added.

However, Guevarra refused to comment if police authorities violated the privacy act in gathering information about the organizers of community pantries. He also clarified that organizers are not required to fill out forms.

“Organizers of community pantries have no legal duty or are under any compulsion to fill out any forms, as these are not considered business, much less illegal activities,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

PNP should not interfere with community pantry, DILG’s Año says

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

 

Community pantry

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said that police and local government executives should not interfere with community pantries and other similar initiatives organized by private groups.

Año issued the statement following reports that some of the community pantry organizers were being red-tagged and profiled by alleged government authorities.

The DILG chief said police and local government interference should only be limited to ensuring that health protocols are being implemented.

“Since this is a purely voluntary and private initiative, we should not interfere except to ensure that minimum health standards are complied with,” Año said.

“Hence, organizers must adhere to existing laws and local ordinances especially those issued to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he added.

Año also clarified that he did not order the Philippine National Police (PNP) to look into the community pantries around the country.

“The community pantry has been a traditional practice in our country as part of Bayanihan culture and spirit specially in the times of calamities and disasters,” he said.

“In the spirit of Bayanihan, many Filipinos have been doing selfless acts of kindness since last year.

As long as the intention is good and without political color, it should be encouraged and supported,” he added.

As to the issue of whether organizers are required to secure barangay permits, the DILG chief said that organizers should “consult with the concerned barangays if such is required.”

“The PNP and/or local officials may just come in if there is any violation of law, if there are complaints from the community, or if the organizers seek their help,” he said.

“The LGUs, barangays and the PNP are ready to provide utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the public,” he added.

Sinas: No profiling, red tagging of community pantry organizers

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday denied claims that it is profiling the organizers of community pantries that have popped up in various areas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no order from the National Headquarters to conduct any form of profiling of organizers of community pantries,” PNP chief Debold Sinas said in a statement.

“It is beyond the interest of the PNP to delve into purely voluntary personal activities of private citizens” he added.

Sinas issued the statement following reports that some of the organizers were being red-tagged and profiled by alleged government authorities.

Anna Patricia Non, the person behind the Maginhawa community pantry, earlier announced they would temporarily suspend their operation due to alleged red-tagging.

“We are aware of the activities of these community pantries as an expression of Bayanihan spirit, but we have no intention to interfere but to serve the best interest of law and order and public safety in such public activities,” Sinas said.

“Of particular consideration is the observance of public health standards when there is gathering of ten or more persons that builds-up a crowd,” he added.

The PNP chief noted that this is not the first time that similar activities were initiated amid the pandemic, saying that some farmers’ organizations and local government units have also hauled their produce of fruits and vegetables to help depressed communities in Metro Manila last year.

“Similarly, police did not interfere with these activities rather extended utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the needy,” Sinas said.

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