Senate to probe on Chinese investments in three islands in Cagayan, Zambales provinces

Maris Federez   •   August 9, 2019   •   510

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 Senate seeks to investigate reports that Chinese investors are planning to develop the Fuga Island in the province of Cagayan and the islands of Grande and Chiquita in Zambales.

In a statement, Senator Risa Hontiveros said she is wondering why the government allowed these movements despite China’s alleged bullying practices in the West Philippine Sea.

She added that these islands are no ordinary islands as they have an important role in the military’s history.

“Amid China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea, it is baffling that the Duterte government allowed this to happen. These are no ordinary islands. These parcels of land are strategic maritime fronts that play a significant role in our military history, which only proves how invaluable they are to our national security,” the senator’s statement reads.

Senator Panfile Lacson also pointed, “security concerns dahil kung Chinese investors ang magde-develop at yung proximity dun sa mga facilities. Lalo’t may report na lumabas na yung western command in Palawan merong allegedly Chinese tourists na kumukuha ng pictures so anong intention [security concerns because if Chinese investors will the ones to develop (these islands) and their proximity is in (our military) facilities. Especially now that the Western Command in Palawan has reported that there is an alleged Chinese tourists taking pictures, on what intention]?”

Aside from the three islands, the Senate may possibly discuss the development of the 32-hectare lot of Island Cove Resort in Kawit, Cavite that is to be used by the Philippine Off Shore Gaming Operator (POGO) industry.

This is only several kilometers away from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) air and naval bases. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

No solid evidence yet to charge BuCor officials in GCTA controversy — Lacson

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines has not found any strong evidence yet linking officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to the alleged anomalous implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes they still need more proof aside from the testimonials of the witnesses that appeared at the Senate inquiry in order for the Senate to recommend the filing of charges against the involved BuCor officials.

“Not only Director General Faeldon pero ang ibang dapat mahagip, sinoman ang i-recommend for criminal liability (Not only Director General Faeldon but everyone else that should be recommended for criminal liability),” Lacson said.

“We need solid evidence to even consider recommending filing criminal charges against them,” he added.

Lacson said there was supposedly a group of alleged officials of the agency who expressed their intention to speak up of what they know about the controversial implementation of the GCTA Law.

After some time, however, the said officials changed their minds and withdrew.

“I hope they will have a change of mind, change of heart and finally decide to tell all during the next hearing,” Senator Lacson said.

During the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Thursday, the Senate invited to attend several personalities including former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong who formerly served as Chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Several senators already expressed agreement in giving chance to detained Senator Leila de Lima to defend herself at the Senate hearing after her name was again dragged into the controversy for allegedly receiving money from drug lords inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“Yes, she should be given an opportunity,” expressed Senator Franklin Drilon.

Meanwhile, three BuCor officials remained locked up inside the Senate after they were charged in contempt for ling before the Senate Committee. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

Palace: Lorenzana to probe AFP-third telco deal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2019

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will investigate the deal between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and third telco firm, Dito Telecommunity Corp.

This was after the third telco was allowed to build their facilities near the military bases of the country.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Lorenzana was not aware of the said deal.

“The DND Secretary texted me about it, and said he doesn’t know anything about it,” he said.

Panelo also said Lorenzana will investigate the matter and that the government can terminate the said deal if there is a proven security threat in the country.

“He’s going to investigate and ask the concern people involved in the deal so we’ll wait for his findings,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

AFP readies for Abu Sayyaf retaliation following death of key member

Robie de Guzman   •   September 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is preparing for possible acts of reprisal from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) following the death of one of its key members in a recent encounter with government troops in Sulu.

According to AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Spokesperson Maj. Arvin John Encinas, they are not discounting the possibility of retaliatory attacks by the ASG after the younger brother of an ASG leader was killed in a gun battle in Patikul, Sulu last Tuesday (Sept. 10).

Philippine Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion faced around 40 ASG members in a heavy firefight that broke out in Sitio Tubig Pansol in Barangay Langhub.

ASG fighters were said to have retreated after about 20 minutes of gunfight.

READ: AFP: Kin of Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Sulu

Government troops then overran the ASG camp and found a body, which military identified as Nanz Sawadjaan, brother of ASG sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Nanz Sawadjaan was one of ASG’s bomb experts who was allegedly involved in Jolo cathedral blast and other recent suicide bomb attacks in Sulu.

Encinas said the death of Sawadjaan is a great loss to the terrorist group.

“Yung pagka-neutralize natin dito sa kapatid ni sub-leader Sawadjaan ay isang malaking dagok sa hanay ng mga Abu Sayyaf Group considering na itong si Nanz Sawadjaan ay trained sa paggawa IED (improvised explosive device),” he said.

(The neutralization of the brother of sub-leader Sawadjaan is a great loss to the Abu Sayyaf group considering that this Nanz Sawadjaan was trained in making IEDs.)

The military said that before the demise of Sawadjaan, they received information about the ASG’s plans to launch a series of suicide bombings in Sulu, including in military detachments.

Last Sept. 8 a female suicide bomber was killed in Indanan town after she tried to attack a military checkpoint by blowing herself up. No one was injured in the blast because soldiers were able to take cover following shouts of alarm from other detachment members.

The AFP assured the readiness of their troops and urged the public to immediately report any suspicious individuals or things spotted in their areas. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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