Philippine Army opens own COVID-19 molecular laboratory
Robie de Guzman • October 15, 2020 • 137
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army on Thursday started the operations of its own molecular laboratory which aims to provide to its personnel health care services related to emerging infectious illnesses such as coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The molecular laboratory started its operations after receiving accreditation from the Department of Health (DOH).
On its Facebook post, the Philippine Army said its personnel and their dependents, civilian human resource, and other authorized civilians can avail of the laboratory’s services by sending their swab samples collected and delivered by the requesting individual or institution.
It added that the facility will use the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) COVID-19 testing process. It can accommodate about 90 samples a day.
Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana thanked the DOH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, as well as the Army offices and units that made new health care capability possible.
“The Philippine Army rises to the challenges to be resilient even in the face of this pandemic. And, today’s launching of the PA Molecular Laboratory illustrates this resolve to battle the coronavirus disease and build the Army’s health care service,” Sobejana said.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has urged Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay to temper his emotions over the killing of four soldiers by police officers in Jolo, Sulu.
“While I can easily relate to Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay and understand how he feels about the Army officers slain in Sulu, emotions running high at this point is the last thing they need,” Lacson said in a statement on Wednesday.
Gapay earlier denounced the slay of his men, describing the incident as “rubout” and “murder.” He also called for the sacking of Sulu’s police chief following the incident.
Lacson, a former chief of Philippine National Police (PNP), said that “decisiveness, not divisiveness” is needed as he warned that terrorists and armed insurgents may “exploit” the situation.
“For all they know, their common enemies such as the terrorists and armed insurgents are already celebrating the Sulu incident — and even making plans to exploit it,” he said.
The senator said the “enemies of the state” are “very capable of fanning the flames of animosity” between the police and military by “creating intrigues to further divide the country’s two major security forces.”
Lacson also said that enemies of the State, through their legal fronts, have been “sowing disinformation” about the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the National ID System.
“Ultimately, decisiveness, not divisiveness, is needed in dealing with the enemies of the State and the Filipino people,” he said.
On June 29, four soldiers were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.
Police said the military officers attempted to escape and opened fire at them while on their way to a nearby police station for identity verification. However, the Philippine Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to flee and never fired a single shot towards police officers.
The nine police officers involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have been relieved from their posts.
The National Bureau of Investigation is already conducting a probe into the incident.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is calling for an inquiry into the killing of four soldiers by local policemen in Jolo, Sulu.
“Nakakabahala ang balitang ito. Ngayon pa lang na hindi pa batas ang anti-terror bill, may nangyayari nang ganito. Ano na lang ang laban ng ordinaryong tao?” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Monday afternoon, June 29, four members of the Philippine Army were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.
The Army said the four soldiers were on an official mission and were tracking suspected suicide bombers when they were accosted by the local police.
The soldiers, who had been wearing plain clothes, were said to have introduced themselves to the policemen. The cops allegedly told them to go with them to a nearby police station for identity verification.
Initial police report said that as their team and Army officers approached the police station, the soldiers’ vehicle allegedly sped off, prompting a car chase.
Police said they only defended themselves when the soldiers opened fire.
The Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers based on eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the soldiers’ vehicle.
Pangilinan said the police and military have different versions of what happened, and an “independent and impartial” Senate probe will “help bring out the truth.”
“This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?” the senator said.
Nevertheless, Pangilinan called on military and police ground commanders to “rein in their men to preserve peace and avert escalation of tension between the armed personnel.”
“We should be going after the common enemy — terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID — not against each other,” Pangilinan said.
The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said they have requested the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an impartial probe into the incident.
The nine policemen involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have also been ordered relieved from their posts pending investigation.
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — An alleged “misencounter” with police resulted in the death of four members of a Philippine Army intelligence unit in Jolo, Sulu, on Monday afternoon (June 29).
In a statement, the Philippine Army confirmed that the fatalities were two intelligence officers and two enlisted personnel under the 11th Infantry Division who were on a mission to identify the location of known terrorists in the area.
The PA said the team was flagged by members of the Jolo Municipal Police Station manning a checkpoint in front of Jolo Central Fire Station in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu.
But even after properly identifying themselves, the police allegedly approached the soldiers and fired at them though the exact reasons behind the incident remain unknown.
“We are yet to establish the motive of the police,” said Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
The Philippine Army has already requested a full-blown investigation on the incident.
“We also requested the NBI to investigate to ensure impartiality. We don’t want any escalation of hostilities out of the incident. Our interest is to know the facts and give justice,” he added.
While investigation is still ongoing, the Philippine Army has appealed to the public not to sensationalize the incident through social media or any other means.
“We will wait for the investigation to be completed,” Sobejena said.
Meanwhile, Army Commanding General Lt.Gen. Gilbert Gapay said there were no altercations that transpired between the police and soldiers based on witnesses’ accounts.
Gapay assured, however, that there was no provocation on the part of the Army personnel that might have triggered the gunfight.
He clarified that it was not anti-drug operations thus no member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency was involved.
“The Army grieves and condoles with the families of our fallen men. There will be no let up in our quest for truth and justice,” Gapay concluded.
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