TESDA exec with alleged links to Abu Sayyaf Group nabbed

Marje Pelayo   •   June 25, 2019   •   1631

MANILA, Philippines – A high-ranking official of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was nabbed in a joint operation by soldiers and police for illegal possession of explosives in Isabela City, Basilan.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Regional Field Unit 9 Chief PCol. Tom Tuzon said the suspect was identified as Muida Hataman, TESDA’s provincial director based in Basilan, believed to have links with the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Police Colonel Bernard Banac said Hataman was arrested early morning on Tuesday (June 25) at Barangay San Rafael in Isabela City as a warrant for her arrest was being served.

Seized from the suspect several materials in making explosives such as blasting cap, chemical ingredients, four cellular phones, and two laptop devices.

“Ang suspek ay kasalukuyang nasa kustodiya ng CIDG Region 9 at sumasailalim na po sa imbestigasyon at patuloy na inaalam ang posible pang kasamahan at iba pang gamit sa pampasabog na maaari pang nakatago sa ibang lugar,” PNP Spokesperson PCol. Banac said.

(The suspect is currently under the custody of the CIDG Region 9 and is now being investigated. [Authorities] are looking into some of her possible cohorts and other explosive materials that are still being kept somewhere.)

While the CIDG already received information that Hataman is connected to an ASG sub-unit, authorities are still verifying information regarding her identity as the investigation goes on.

“Patuloy pang inaalam ng mga taga CIDG kung ano ang kanyang background, kung meron ba siyang kinalaman sa grupong ASG at (kung) mayroong kamag anak at bakit nasa possession niya ang mga naturang gamit pampasabog,” Banac said.

(CIDG personnel are still verifying her background – if she has links to the ASG, any relative and why she was in possession of bomb making paraphernalia.)

Hataman is believed to be the wife of ASG sub leader Radzmir Janatul. – (with details from Lea Ylagan)

DA, TESDA eye more training sessions for farming, urban agri-production

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday announced it has signed an agreement with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) to offer more training sessions in farming and urban agriculture to address the pressing demand to boost food production.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the partnership with TESDA is part of a broader food security effort as parts of the country prepare to shift to a less restrictive form of community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Several areas in the country that have moderate or low virus risk will be placed under general community quarantine beginning May 1, as recently announced by the government.

Dar said these training periods seek to further enhance the skills and know-how of farmers under the “new normal” era in agricultural production, and food value chain.

“Our farmers need a complete package of support and technical assistance to enable them to produce more. In this regard, we welcome the TESDA as a partner as together we confront the ‘new normal’ environment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement issued on Monday.

Dar said he and TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapeña recently reached the agreement to craft a training design that will specifically address the emerging needs of farmers in terms of skills development to cope with the current national state of emergency and Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

“While we are combating the COVID-19 pandemic, we should at the same time empower farmers to improve their productivity, and thus contribute to increasing the country’s food adequacy level. And we must assist them to succeed in this quest,” he said.

For his part, Lapeña said that agriculture has been their top priority and that training institutions have been directed to prioritize the agri-sector in allocating budget for their skills training.

“In this time of pandemic, we are now seeing the importance of food security. We can utilize both big and small spaces to plant vegetables,” he said.

The DA chief said the plan on capacity enhancement for agricultural production will initially focus on urban agriculture, rice production, livestock and poultry raising, among other modules — anchored on the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program or the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) kontra COVID-19.

“We will strongly coordinate with TESDA to hasten the conduct of these trainings in a manner that follows current quarantine protocols,” he added.

PNP mourns over AFP’s loss in Sulu encounter

Maris Federez   •   April 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines The Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed grief over the loss of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in an encounter between the military and elements of the Abu Sayyaf Group on Friday (April 17).

“The Officers, men and women of the Philippine National Police, under the command of PGen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, join the Filipino nation in mourning over the loss of 11 of our brothers in arms in the Armed Forces of the Philippines who offered the ultimate sacrifice in an encounter with terrorists in Sulu yesterday,” says a statement it released on Saturday through its spokesperson, PBGen. Bernard M Banac.

The country’s police force believes that the soldiers “did not die in vain -the cause they are fighting for is the lifelong commitment of all men and women in uniform who derive inspiration from the heroism of our fallen brothers to bring on the fight against the enemies of the state,” Banac said.

The official added that the PNP is extending every possible support and assistance that it can give to comfort the families of the fallen soldiers and to provide care for the wounded.

“Even as the entire government is preoccupied with response operations to address the health crisis, state security forces will continue to perform the duty to keep the country safe from terrorism and lawlessness,” Banac concluded. mbmf

Palace slams ASG attack on government troops in Sulu

Maris Federez   •   April 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines The Office of the President on Saturday slammed the Abu Sayyaf Group after around 40 of its members attacked the government troops in Patikul, Sulu on Friday (April 17) resulting in the death of 11 soldiers and wounding 14 others.

In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the administration condemns “in the strongest possible terms the latest incident in Patikul, Sulu, where members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) believed to be under ASG leader Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan attacked government troops resulting in a firefight, which left 11 soldiers killed and 14 wounded.”

Roque noted that what happened was already the second encounter that the government troops had with the same terrorist group; the first one, on April 16,  in which three soldiers were wounded.

“The Office of the President expresses its sincerest condolences to the bereaved families left behind by our brave soldiers who fought hard and paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our community. We honor and pray for the fallen,” Roque’s statement reads.

He further noted that the enemies of the State do not choose any date and occasion and just seem to strike even at this time that the country is battling a great pandemic.

Roque, however, reiterate that this must serve as a warning to all, stressing that, “our authorities remain ready and prepared to crush the enemies of the government and quell any armed attack amid the existing state of calamity and public health emergency.” mbmf

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