Road project improves security, commerce in Basilan terrorists' lair –- PGMA
TIPO-TIPO, Basilan, March 25 - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo found a considerably improved security condition in this former lair of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), during her first visit last Wednesday (March 24) to this town to inspect the progress of a road project.
Some 2,000 town residents, most of them overwhelmed by the first-time visit, welcomed the President as she personally inspected the rehabilitation of 29.3-kilometer portion of the Basilan Circumferential Road that stretches between Barangay Cabangalan in Tipo-Tipo and Barangay Canas in Maluso.
“We are so happy because, for the first time in the history of the province, the President is here to visit us,” said Tipo-Tipo Mayor Ingatun Istarul. He said the Tipo-Tiponians are grateful for the road project because their trip to capital
In her message, the President said this road project has improved the peace and order condition in Tipo-Tipo, where some of the recent major clashes between the Abu Sayyaf and government forces have taken place.
“Kuta ito dati ng ASG, dahil walang kalsada, pero ngayon takot na sila,” (Because there are no roads, this town used to be the base of the ASG. But now they are gone),” the President said.
The President also said the road project has reduced the transport costs for products, resulting in the lower prices of commodities.
Basilan Governor Jum Akbar hailed the project as the national government’s manifestation of concern for Basilan and support to the local leadership.
The road rehabilitation here is part of the Basilan Circumferential Road Project, which President Arroyo initiated to spur economic growth in Basilan and its neighboring island provinces.
The Road Project is seen as a major infrastructure initiative to bringing prosperity in Basilan even as government continues its campaign against local terrorism and lawlessness.
The rehabilitation of Tipo-Tipo-Maluso Road Section started last January, with a P2 million starting fund from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The implementing unit is the Joint Engineer Task Force “Kaunlaran Basilan” of the National Development Support Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The task force is composed of the Engineer Maintenance Support Battalion, 55th Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army, and the 1st Naval Mobile Construction Battalion of the Naval Construction Brigade of the Philippine Navy.
Tipo-Tipo, a fourth-class municipality of some 48,500 residents, was the site of gruesome killings in 2007 that included the beheading by ASG members of 14 Philippine Marines soldiers.
In August 2009, government troops suffered 23 dead and 26 wounded as they captured the main ASG camp in the town which was also the nerve center of ASG terrorist operations. Tipo-Tipo also used to be the training ground of ASG female members and children, who were recruited easily into the ASG due to local poverty and illiteracy.
As part of government’s two-pronged peace and development approach in
The Basilan Circumferential Road Project is part of the P2.2-billion road program for
The Basilan Circumferential Road Project is 135 kilometers long, divided into six sections: Umayam in Maluso; Lagayas and Camalig in Tipo-Tipo; Tumahubong; Canas-Cabcaban-Libug-Benembengan; and Abong-Abong-Pali-Dikit in Sumisip.
FG hospitalized; PGMA cancels appointments
Press Secretary Crispulo J. Icban Jr. confirmed this development and said the President left a word for event organizers concerned to proceed with holding the activities she is supposed to grace.
He also said the First Gentleman is under continuous monitoring at St. Luke's coronary care unit.
Citing the latest available report from St. Luke's cardiac surgeon Dr. Rommel Cariño, Icban said the First Gentleman developed "dissection of the thoracic aorta and experienced back pains."
"This needs intense medical care to control his blood pressure and heart rate to prevent further re-dissection," he said, citing the doctor's report.
Icban said St. Luke's placed the First Gentleman under close monitoring as Cariño explained a rupture can cause compression of the blood supply to various vital organs.
St. Luke's medical personnel are now controlling the First Gentleman's vital signs and back pains, Icban noted, citing the hospital's report.
The First Gentleman's attending physician, Dr. Juliet Cervantes, is with President Arroyo at St. Lukes, Icban said.
Mrs. Arroyo also accompanied her husband when he was previously hospitalized for heart-related problems.
It was still unclear what triggered the First Gentleman's ailment at present.
"We don't know what brought on this ailment," Presidential Spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said during a Palace briefing today.
He said Malacanang will await word from the President on her future activities, including her electoral campaign for a congressional seat in Pampanga province.
"The First Gentleman's condition will be a major consideration in the President's activities," Saludo said.
Court issues arrest warrants vs. 189 Maguindanao massacre suspects
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Thursday ordered the arrest of 189 suspects in the Maguindanao massacre that claimed the lives of 57 civilians, including 15 women and 30 media practitioners in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
Quezon City RTC Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes directed the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to implement the arrest warrants immediately.
Among those ordered arrested are former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan; former Acting Maguindanao Governor Sajid Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan, Tactan Dilo, Ismael Canabia and Maguindanao PNP chief Chief Insp. Sukarno Dikay.
They are now detained at the
Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., the prime suspect in the multiple murder charges, is still detained at the NBI Detention Cell in
He vehemently denied the charges.
The Quezon City RTC Branch 221 is now hearing the petition for bail filed by Ampatuan, Jr.
Reyes also approved the amended information filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which implicated 196 individuals in the case.
Among the victims were Manila Bulletin correspondent Bong Reblando and the wife and two sisters of Buluan, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, who is seeking the governorship of the province in the May 10, 2010 elections.
Mangudadatu and his lead counsel Nena Santos welcomed the issuance of the arrest warrants.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals dismissed the writs of amparo and habeas data filed by Ampatuan Jr. for lack of form and substance.
In his petition, Ampatuan accused police authorities of destroying his property and harassing his family while serving a search warrant.
Magnitude 6.2 quake rocks Metro
Initial reports by Renato Solidum, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief, said the quake was measured at magnitude 6.2.
The epicenter of the tremor was traced some 124 kms west of Batangas and has a depth of 1 km.
Intensity 5 was felt in
The quake was tectonic in origin and was caused by movement of a fault line in seabed along the
Solidum urged the public to stay calm as they are gathering further reports about the tremor.