PH strengthens border security with Indonesia, Malaysia

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019   •   1032

Participants are seen gathering near a Royal Malaysian Navy (RAM) patrol gunboat at the port of Zamboanga City, southern Philippines, 27 November 2018. The RMN is participating the Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (INDOMALPHI) 4th Trilateral Maritime training exercise to enhance joint patrol with the three navies aiming to combat the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and pirates operating in the common borders of the three nations in southern Philippines. EPA-EFE/LAURENZ CASTILLO

MANILA, Philippines – Backdoor entry through the Philippines southern border has made the country susceptible to threats from foreign terrorists.

Thus, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been working with its neighboring countries Indonesia and Malaysia to further strengthen its border security.

In 2017, the three countries entered into an agreement coined as ‘INDOMALPHI’ or Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines Trilateral Cooperative Agreement which commits the three nations to securing common borders.

“If ever there are reports from let’s say Indonesia or Malaysia that they going here, they have to share that information (to prevent entry of terrorists),” explained AFP Chief of Staff General Noel Clement.

“The same is true also if we have reports that we have fighters that are coming here and going to their respective countries,” he added.

The AFP admits, however, that the lack of floating assets of its naval arm – the Philippine Navy – gives foreign terrorists the chance to penetrate the country’s territories like the suicide bombers in the Sulu attack.

Worse, these terrorists teach their local counterparts how to create explosives and execute their plans, according to Clement.

“Ang kanilang intention bakit sila nandito is para makapag-conduct ng kanilang mga terroristic activities particular ang pagbobomba (Their intentions for entering our territory include conducting terrorist activities particularly bombings),” the official said.

“Hindi natin dapat payagan ito because kapag naisagawa nila yung kanilang mga hangarin na ito ay maraming mape-perwisyo at madadamay, (We won’t allow that because if they succeed in their plans, many people will suffer),” he added.

The ‘INDOMALPHI” is conducting joint maritime exercises aimed at strengthening capabilities against sea-jacking, piracy, smuggling and other illegal activities at sea.

Meanwhile, the AFP also tapped the support of the fishing industry in ZAMBASULTA area to augment as force multipliers in guarding and protecting the waters within the Philippine territorial jurisdiction. – MNP (with details from Dante Amento)

AFP, PNP form Board of Inquiry to revise operational procedures after Jolo shooting

Marje Pelayo   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) created a Board of Inquiry that will revise their respective operational procedures following the fatal shooting in Jolo, Sulu. 

According to PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa, one of their main focus will be the cooperation and expansion of their interoperability including the various tactical approaches depending on the security situation in the shooting area.

“To determine operational lapses and how we can improve our operational procedures both the AFP and the PNP,“ the PNP Chief.

Meanwhile, all nine cops involved in the incident were supposed to go to Camp Crame but the trip was deferred. 

One of them contracted coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is now undergoing quarantine in isolation but still has to take the swab test for confirmation. 

But Gamboa assured that they will be sent to the headquarters anytime this week by Police Regional Office – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) Director PBGen. Manuel Abu.

“Sinabi ko lang sa kanila na: ‘You will go to Crame para ma-diffuse iyong tension and then expect kung ano ang sasabihin ng NBI, hindi ako makikialam.’ So kung meron liable sa inyo, so be it,” Gamboa said. 

[I told them: ‘You will go to Crame to diffuse the tension and expect that whatever the NBI says, I will not intervene.’ If anyone is liable, then so be it.]

“So for the meantime, you will be under the custody ng Philippine National Police” he added.

Gamboa said the President emphatically ordered the PNP to make sure those responsible in the incident will be penalized while the Chief Executive toned down when it came with the Philippine Army. 

Alam nya na may mga sintimiyento lalo na [He knows that there are sentiments especially] on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Gamboa said. 

“Sabi pa nga nya, kayo kung ano ang gusto nyong gawin ay pwede nyong gawin but you still have to ponder whether it will do good to the public o to the community [He even said, you just do whatever you want but you still have to ponder whether it will do good to the public or to the community],” he concluded. —MNP (with inputs from Lea Ylagan)

Kin of Filipino WWII vets now banned from staying in US while waiting for green cards

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Filipino World War II veterans

The United States government will no longer allow families of Filipino World War II veterans to stay in the country while waiting for the approval of their family-based green cards.

In a news release posted on its website, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its intention to terminate the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program in accordance with President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

The USCIS said the order aims to better ensure that parole is used only on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the law.

“The decision to end these parole programs ends the expedited processing that was made available to these populations in a categorical fashion. It follows an extensive review to better ensure that parole authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act is exercised on a case-by-case basis when there is a significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reason,” the agency said.

Parole is a process that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter or remain in the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible.

Categorical parole refers to programs designed to consider parole for entire groups of individuals based on pre-set criteria.

Under these programs, the USCIS said individuals with approved family-based immigrant petitions have been authorized to enter and work in the United States while waiting for their green card to become available.

“Under these categorical parole programs, individuals have been able to skip the line and bypass the proper channels established by Congress,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said.

“With the termination of these programs, these individuals will no longer be permitted to wait in the United States for their family-based green card to become available, consistent with the rules that apply to the rest of the world,” he added.

“USCIS is committed to exercising this limited authority in a manner that preserves the integrity of our immigration system and does not encourage aliens to unlawfully enter the United States,” Cuccinelli further stated.

Aside from the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program, the USCIS will also be terminating Haitian Family Reunification Parole program.

While the process for the termination of these programs begins, the USCIS assured it will continue to review all remaining categorical parole programs.

“USCIS will not terminate any program until we complete required administrative changes to Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and the form is approved for public use,” the agency said.

“The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) process will provide notice to the affected individuals, explain the reasons USCIS is taking action, and provide public comment periods on the termination of these programs,” it added.

The USCIS said current parolees will maintain their current period of parole until its expiration, unless it is otherwise terminated. Pending cases will also be processed to completion.

“In addition, parolees who have not adjusted status or been admitted may request parole under the non-categorical process by filing Form I-131, in accordance with the form instructions. Additional information on applying for non-categorical parole is available on the Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States page,” the agency said.

AFP to prove CPP front orgs receive EU, Belgium funding

Maris Federez   •   March 13, 2019

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is set to prove that several groups that benefit from the financial assistance being doled-out by the European Union and Belgium are front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Brigadier, General Antonio Parlade, said they are now collating the evidence that will prove their allegations.

Parlade said this will help Belgium and the member countries of the EU in screening and selecting the organizations that are most deserving of their financial assistance.

“They wanted us to provide more evidence and then to file the formal complaint. That’s what we are doing now, we are consolidating all our evidence para submit sa [to submit to the] European Union,” Parlade added.

In Mindanao alone, around 30 groups have been receiving donations from the EU.

One of them is the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) which, reportedly, had already received 622,000 euros from the EU, and is set to further receive 1.3 million euros more from the said organization for their future projects.

This is aside from the funding they receive from the Belgian parliament.

The AFP official also mentioned Ibon and Karapatan as legal front liners of the CCP that are bent on discrediting the Duterte Administration to the international community.

Parlade hopes that once they release the names of these groups, the international funding communities would stop providing them with financial assistance.

This is why Parlade and his delegation also seized the opportunity to talk to the EU, the Belgian Foreign Ministry and the United Nations when they went to Europe recently.

“It’s all about money. I think this is really a big scam that we have to uncover. So bottom line, magaling po silang mag-fabricate [they are good at fabricating]. And these materials, these literatures are well-funded by these organizations—by these governments in Europe, including the EU at kinakailangan pong malaman nila ito [and they have to know about this],” Parlade said.

Ibon, Karapatan and RMP are yet to issue their reactions regarding this.

Karapatan and RMP, however, have already filed complaints before the Commission on Human Rights against the government for linking them with the CPP-NPA and for tagging them as rebels and part of terrorist groups. – Maris Federez (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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