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UK issues travel warnings for Mindanao; asks citizens to be vigilant

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British citizens against all travels to Mindanao following the bomb attack in Cotabato City on Monday (December 31).

The travel advisory covers all travels to western and central Mindanao as well as the Sulu archipelago citing ‘terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.’

“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao, excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands, and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism,” the advisory further read.

The FCO cited the December 26, 2018 public notice issued by the United States Transport Security Administration which highlighted poor aviation security at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry,” the FCO said.

The advisory stressed that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila” and these attacks can be carried out “at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.”

Thus, the UK government advises its citizens to “remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.” – Marje Pelayo

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No casualty in twin blasts in Cotabato City on eve of BOL plebiscite

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Twin blasts rocked the city of Cotabato Sunday night (January 20), hours before the conduct of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

According to Cotabato City Police, the explosions are believed to be from two hand grenades detonated near the house of Judge Angelito Rasalan of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Upi, Maguindanao.

Witnesses said they noticed suspicious individuals riding in tandem roving the area before the explosion.

The incident is believed to have links with Judge Rasalan’s work as a municipal judge, according to his brother Anecito,

However, authorities are not discounting the angle that the perpetrators want to sow terror and confusion in the community prior to the conduct of the plebiscite.

“Sa akin (ang) tinitingnan ko, maybe ang may kagagawan nito (ay) they may have hit two birds with one stone. One: they harassed my brother, ang kaniyang trabaho. Pangalawa (two): they successfully heightened the tension,” Anecito Rasalan, executive secretary of Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, noted.

No one was hurt in the incident.

The city of Cotabato has around 130,000 voters who will cast their votes on the ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Cotabato Mayor exposes alleged vote buying ahead of BOL plebiscite

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Cotabato City mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Days before the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), residents of Cotabato City were confused after they were asked to claim a certain identification card that entitled them to a certain amount of cash.

‘Mahid’, not his real name, was among those who received the ID which came from a citizens’ arm group campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in Cotabato City.

‘Mahid’ said he was surprised when his friend told him to claim an ID card which he never applied for. His friend told him that he would receive a certain amount if he claimed the ID and voted in favor of the BOL.

“Kung may ID ka may partial ng P200. Ibig sabihin lahat ng kumuha ng ID na ito, binigyan ng P200. Ang team leader is P1,000,” alias Mahid said.

“Ang sinabi sa akin is basta botohan mo ang ‘Yes,'” he added.

Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi immediately reported the incident and appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate the matter.

“This is vote buying,” she said.

The poll body, meanwhile, assured to act on the issue at the soonest possible time.

“I will look into this,” noted Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez.

The UNTV News and Rescue team tried to call the hotline number written on the ID card but the number does not seem exist. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Suspect in Cotabato mall bombing surrenders

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Site of the bombing incident that shook Cotabato City on New Year’s Eve

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – One of the suspects in the bomb attack on South Seas Mall in Cotabato City yielded to authorities on Sunday evening (January 6), according to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 12.

Police Regional Office 12 Director PCSupt. Eliseo Rasco said Salipudin Pasandalan was turned in by his relatives after they saw his image on television as one of the persons implicated in the blast on December 31 that killed two people and injured 34 others.

“Ongoing ang ating investigation and this morning ang directive ko doon sa SITG commander ay mai-file na ang kaso within today,” Rasco said.

Rasco noted, however, that Pasandalan still refuses to speak of the incident and he wants to be with his lawyers all the time.

“Wala pa tayong nakikitang grupo kase makikita natin kung sino ang personalities and group behind kapag meron na tayong nakuhang tao at meron na siyang binanggit na personalities and group,” the Director added.

But Rasco added that their evidence against Pasandalan are strong, based on the results of the investigation on the CCTV footage that was recovered in the blast site.

The CCTV footage showed a suspect placing the bomb at the counter at the second floor of the said mall.

“Kung makikita ninyo ang kuha ng CCTV sa Lotto outlet. Siya ang kumu-cover dito sa bata. Siya habang nilalagay noong naka-back pack ang second IED dito sa shelve ng Lotto card,” Rasco further explained.

Among the angles that the police are looking into are the retaliation of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) after Pasandalan’s young brother was killed in a military operation in December 27; intense political rivalry; and the participation of Dawlah Islamiya Group in the bombing. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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