Government working to secure civilians in the ongoing Sulu fight
The government is working to ensure that no civilian will be harmed in the ongoing fighting between the members of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu, Malacanang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda made an assurance during a press briefing in Malacanang Monday saying “the clash is occurring in a specific isolated area. Majority of occupants are either part of ASG or MNLF. What we have done as government is to secure the safety of the civilians in those areas.”
“So right now they’re being evacuated and Secretary Dinky Soliman is in fact in Mindanao right now and we have identified evacuation centers. The civilians in those areas are now in evacuation centers.”
The Sulu police said 13 people have been killed from the ASG side, while eight were recorded from the MNLF side after the fire fight in Kabbun Takas in Sulu.
Lacierda said they still don’t have information to verify whether the MNLF fighting the Abu Sayyaf are integrees to the military.
The Palace official also allayed fears that the MNLF, which forged a peace agreement with the government in the mid-1990s, will abide by the law and not target other armed groups in Mindanao.
“Well, there’s no concern right now on that point. A lot of MNLF members have returned to the fold of government. In fact, some of them are already occupying positions of public authority so we’re not concerned with that,” he said.
The Abu Sayyaf, which allegedly has links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, is one of the major threats to the country’s peace and security. The group carried out several kidnapping operations in the past particularly against foreign nationals. PND (as)
Palace vows safe, orderly midterm polls
Malacanang assured that it will go after politicians who maintain private armed groups as the country prepares for the midterm election this May.
The campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to dismantle private armed groups and account for all loose firearms continues to make the upcoming election safe and orderly, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.
It was reported that some members of Congress, particularly in the Zamboanga Peninsula, maintain private armies and the proliferation of unlicensed guns remains a concern.
“Yes. Loose firearms are certainly frowned upon. We are going to strengthen the security in that area,” Lacierda told reporters. “We are going to go after all those individuals who are holding loose or unlicensed firearms. Dismantling private armed groups is part of the directive of the President. He said the PNP should go after private armed groups regardless of who they are,” he added.
The President has ordered the PNP to make sure that firearms are accounted for and the gun ban should be strictly enforced particularly in Zamboanga.
“Walang sinasanto ang Pangulo. Pag sinabing private armed groups, di ba bawal yan? Yan ang instruction ni Pangulong Aquino. We had a meeting several months back on the private armed groups and the President made it clear that these groups must be dismantled” Lacierda said. PND (as)
Aquino welcomes new ambassadors of Malaysia, Cambodia and Italy
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed the new ambassadors of Malaysia, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Italy, who presented their respective credentials to the Chief Executive in Malacanang Palace on Monday.
The President first welcomed His Excellency Dato' Mohd Zamri Bin Mohd Kassim, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Malaysia at the Music Room of Malacanang Palace. He was accompanied by Deputy Chief of Mission/Minister Zakaria Nasir, Minister Counsellor Adnan Ababs, Defence Attache Colonel Hamzah Ali and Export Promotion Counsellor Har Man Ahmad.
The Philippines and Malaysia have a long standing and good diplomatic relations and the new ambassador to the Philippines has expressed his government's interest in further promoting the whole range of bilateral cooperation.
Her Excellency Tuot Panha, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipontentiary of the Kingdom of Cambodia, presented her credentials to the President. The presentation of credentials was witnessed by Charge d' Affaires Tan Chandaravuth, First Secretary Roth Phally and Accountant and Attache Vong Sopheap.
Panha reiterated her country's commitment to bolster relations with the Philippines.
His Excellency Massimo Roscigno, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Italy met the Chief Executive to present his credentials. He was accompanied by his wife Agnes Ventura-Roscigno, of Filipino descent, Deputy Head of Mission Dr. Alfonso Tagliaferri, Administrative Attache Dr. Anna Maria Salvini and Head of Consular Office Dr. Antonio Gallo.
He reiterated Italy’s commitment to further strengthen the friendship cultivated by both countries for the past years.
Also present during these events was Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. PND (js)
President Aquino to inaugurate Andres Bonifacio Graduate and Professional School Building in Dipolog City Tuesday
DIPOLOG CITY – President Benigno S. Aquino III will inaugurate the Andres Bonifacio Graduate and Professional School Building (ABGPSB) in ceremonies that will be held at the school’s campus in Barangay Miputak, here on Tuesday.
Joining the President will be Sancho S. Amatong, president of the Andres Bonifacio College; Isagani S. Amatong, member of the Board of Directors of the Andres Bonifacio College and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
Built at a cost of P70-million, the ABGPSB was constructed to meet the growing demand for an institution to host post graduate studies for students seeking even higher learning after college.
Construction started in 2007 and was eventually finished in 2011 with the first batch of faculty, staff and students occupying the five-storey school building that features a clock tower that is considered a Dipolog City landmark.
The building is the home of the Main Library, the School of Law, the Graduate School, the School of Education, the College Auditorium, the AB College Memorabilia and Art Gallery. PND (rck)
Palace welcomes release of two Filipino hostages in Sulu
MALACANANG on Monday welcomed the release of two Filipino crewmen of Jordanian television journalist Baker Abdulla Atyani who were kidnapped last year by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) hoping that the reporter and other foreigner captives will be released soon.
“We certainly welcome the release of the two Filipino cameramen and, of course, we hope that all the captives will be released but, again, that will take some time,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang.
Abu Sayyaf bandits released cameraman Ramel Vela and audio technician Roland Letriro last Saturday in Jolo, Sulu. The two, together with Atyani, have been held by the notorious bandit group since June last year.
Authorities believed that Atyani is still alive and is still in the hands of the ASG.
Vela and Letriro, meanwhile, were brought to Camp Crame in Quezon City to undergo further investigation.
The two earlier said that they were clueless why they were released by the bandit group and there was also no information whether ransom money was paid for their freedom.
The Abu Sayyaf reportedly had demanded P130 million ($3.1 million) for the release of Atyani and his team.
Meantime, Malacanang said the government will continue to impose a news blackout in efforts to save the remaining hostages of the ASG.
“Any sensitive operation would require government not to disclose to the public for operational reasons and I’m sure the public would sympathize with why we do not disclose sensitive operations,” said Lacierda. PND (jb)
Aquino to attend 2013 Philippines Development Forum in Davao City
President Benigno S. Aquino III will attend Tuesday the 2013 Philippines Development Forum (PDF) in Davao City as part of his administration’s thrust to move the country forward.
The President is expected to arrive at Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City Tuesday morning for the development forum. He will be joined by some of members of his Cabinet, officials from the World Bank and local Davao City officials.
The Philippines Development Forum is the primary mechanism of the government for facilitating substantive dialogue among stakeholders on the country’s development agenda.
The forum also serves as a process to develop consensus and generate commitment among different stakeholders toward critical actionable items of the government’s reform agenda.
The last forum was held February 26, 2011 in Manila. Around 300 participants from the government, international development partners and other stakeholders attended the event.
A special forum was also held in 2009 that focused on post-disaster assistance in response to the impact of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.
The PDF evolved from consultative group meeting, which were held every 18 months or so among government and members of the international development partners that comprised the Philippine Consultative Group.
This group is co-chaired by the Philippine government, the Department of Finance and the World Bank. In 2004, it was agreed to widen the participation in the Consultative Group to include those from the civil society, academe, private sector, and legislative branch of government.
The PDF process involves continuing dialogue on different areas through working groups.
Currently, there are 10 working groups focusing on the following themes: Millennium Development Goals and social progress, growth and investment climate, economic and fiscal reforms, government and anti-corruption, decentralization and local government, sustainable rural development, Mindanao, infrastructure, rule of law, and climate change. PND (as)