‘Strictly off-limits’: DILG tells PNP to stop residents attempting to return to Taal Volcano Island

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020   •   356

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP)to bar anyone from setting foot on the Taal Volcano island as it continues to spew ash.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued the directive following reports about residents attempting to return to the volcano island to check on their homes, retrieve their belongings or rescue their livestock.

According to DILG Spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, Año also appealed to the evacuees to refrain from returning to the island as it is a permanent danger zone and “strictly off limits.”

Since Taal Volcano is still under Alert Level 4, which means that a hazardous explosive eruption is hours or days away, the DILG said that returning to the island is too risky.

“It is simply too dangerous for anyone to go back to the island. Human lives must be our first priority,” he said.

Personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard have been patrolling the lake waters around the Taal Volcano to ensure that no evacuees are attempting to return to the island.

In terms of rescuing animals trapped on the island, the DILG said this may be allowed on a case-to-case basis upon proper coordination with local disaster authorities.

“Secretary Año will allow the rescue of animals in the evacuated areas so long as it’s in the mainland and not in the volcano island and with proper coordination with local disaster authorities,” Malaya said.

“We will treat this on a case-to-case basis and subject to the approval of local authorities depending on the prevailing situation,” he added.

The DILG made the statement in response to the appeal of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization to rescue animals within the 14-kilometer high-risk area from the Taal main crater in the mainland.

PETA said rescue teams have obtained a telescope to look for surviving animals and will attempt to gain access to areas where animals have been trapped.

Rescuers were also deployed to evacuation areas to provide food, water, and veterinary care to dogs, cats and other animals taken to centers.

DILG says cops on ‘narco-list’ who opted to retire early not spared from probe, charges

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that cops included in the narco-list who opted to file for optional retirement will not be exonerated from criminal charges if they are found to be involved in the illegal drug trade.

Año made the statement Wednesday after some members of the opposition group slammed reports on the move of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to give the 357 cops included in the narco-list the option to retire early to reduce the cases for adjudication.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa earlier said he is open to optional retirement of police officers accused of having drug links to lessen the government resources that will be used when the adjudication begins.

He, however, asserted that the early retirement won’t clear the cops from allegations and that this is not an easy way out.

He added that any officer who initially availed of the early retirement option will be pursued if proven to be involved in the narcotics trade.

Gamboa recently met with most of the 357 cops and explained to them the process of the two-way adjudication to be initiated based on his request to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The process involves adjudication at the regional and directorial level for one week before the cases go to the national level which will handle the cases for three weeks.

Once all the cases are submitted to the Office of the PNP Chief, it will take three days for him to submit the results of the adjudication for approval.

Año said the 357 cops accused of having drug links should present proof to remove their names from the narco-list.

“Patunayan nilang wala silang kaugnayan sa iligal na droga. Nasa kanila ang burden of proof, iprisinta nila ang mga ebidensya na magpapatunay na wala silang kinalaman at kaugnayan sa iligal na droga,” he said.

The DILG chief said the evidence should be presented to four agencies handling illegal drug reports – the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Hanggang hindi nagkakaroon ng pagkakasundo ang apat na ahensyang ito, hangga’t hindi nila sinasabi ng ‘Okay na yan’, magpapatuloy ang imbestigasyon,” he said.

The narco-list is a consolidation of intelligence and other reports from law-enforcement agencies and still needs to be verified and validated. Aside from uniformed personnel, the list also includes local officials and judges as well as other personalities.

Once a complaint is filed, it can be validated within a month, Año said.

He also said that the final clearance will come from the President. 

“Gusto nating maparusahan ang mga may kaugnayan sa iligal na droga” Año said. “I commend PNP Chief Gamboa for having the courage in resolving this issue na matagal ng burden ng PNP. We need to deal with this para makapagtrabaho na nang matino ang ating mga pulis,” he added.

DILG tells LGUs to strictly ban tricycles from national highways

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered local chief executives to strictly enforce the ban on tricycles, pedicabs and motorized pedicabs on national highways.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said this is part of the road clearing operations being implemented by the government.

The DILG chief stressed that tricycles and pedicabs have long been banned from plying major roads. These tricycles are also not allowed to even cross or make a U-turn on national highways.

“Local governments must review and modify tricycle routes according to the ban and are encouraged to include in their plans the construction of local roads or overpasses where the tricycles can operate,” he said.

The Philippine National Police will help local leaders enforce the ban, the DILG chief said.

Aside from enforcing the ban, Año also directed local government units (LGU) to create a tricycle task force that will draw up a tricycle route plan in their respective areas.

Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-036, Año said that each city and municipality tricycle task force should be separate from the tricycle regulatory boards to formulate or review its tricycle route plan.

The task force will be composed of the mayor as chairman, the chief of police as vice-chairman, while the Sanggunian’s committee chair on transportation or public safety, the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, the head of the tricycle regulatory board, the head of the Department of Public Order and Safety, the planning and development officer, the head of the traffic management office, and the local government operations officer will be its members.

Representatives of the transportation department and its attached agencies will function as resource persons of the task force, while the head of the city or municipal legal office shall provide secretariat support.

The DILG Chief added that the task force should meet with stakeholders and rationalize all tricycle routes to enforce the ban, identify national roads within the jurisdiction of the LGU, and determine the present and proposed routes in view of drafting a tricycle route plan (TRP) within 30 days from the issuance of the memorandum.

He added that the TRP should include a schematic map of the location of tricycle terminals, the national highways and the portions thereof to be used by tricycles if there is no alternative route.

The installation of appropriate signages, marks for lanes and other safety features to guide all vehicles must also be detailed in the plan as well as create awareness among residents and motorists of new tricycle routes or portions of highways allowed to tricycles because of lack of alternative route; a color scheme or emblem for tricycles that ply a route traversing a national highway; and penalties for violators.

Non-compliance to the latest directive will warrant the issuance of a show-cause order, Año said. “Failure to provide a sufficient response shall be a ground for the filing of appropriate administrative cases pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code and other laws and policies,” he warned.

He also said that compliance with the trike ban order will form part of the assessment LGUs’ compliance to the implementation of the presidential directive on road clearing.

PNP to begin crackdown after receiving list of illegal gambling operators

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 19, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is set to begin crackdown operations after receiving the list of illegal gambling operators.

PGen. Archie Gamboa said the list is now in the hands of the regional directors and the PNP is already in the process of launching police operations.

Gamboa also said that police commanders will be relieved from office if they fail to accomplish their responsibilities.

“In the next few months, heads will roll if you don’t follow my instruction no-take and you’re not doing anything to stop illegal gambling,” he said.

Last week, the PNP Chief already relieved several local police officials for not curbing illegal gambling in their assigned areas.

They include 10 precinct and station commanders as well as chiefs of police in Metro Manila. —AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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