Christian Church Coalition prays over President Aquino
The Coalition of Christian Churches, composed of major religious and worship groups in the country, prayed over President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Malacañang grounds on Monday afternoon.
“We, the members of the Coalition of Christian Leaders, are joined by our pastors and brethren, in praying for our nation and our leaders. For as it is written in Scripture: 'Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God',” the Coalition said in a joint statement, quoting a verse from Romans: 13 of the Bible.
The group also prayed for the police commandos who died in the law enforcement operation to capture terrorist suspects, Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman.
“We join in prayer and sympathy the families of our Philippine National Police Special Action Force who died in the line of duty in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last 25 January 2015. We call on the authorities to ensure that the ends of justice are served and that those accountable are prosecuted without fear or favor. We believe that the work of peace-building must be pursued and that our nation must continue to move forward toward inclusive economic growth and social justice for all,” the Coalition said in the statement.
The prayer for the President was led by National Chairman of the Philippines for Jesus Movement and Spiritual Director of the Jesus Is Lord Church, Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
Other religious leaders present were Bishop Leo Alconga, East Asia Director of the Biblica Ministry and National Vice Chairman of the Philippines for Jesus Movement; Dr. Andrew Luison, President of Cityland Development Corporation; Bishop Dan Balais, Chairman of the Intercessors for the Philippines; and Bro. Daniel Razon, President of Members Church of God International.
They have shown support for the President and promised to continue to pray for him.
For his part, President Aquino expressed his gratitude for the support he received from the different Christian groups.
"Nagpapasalamat tayo sa ating mga kasama ngayon, ang mga pinuno ng iba’t ibang Christian groups sa pagbubuhos ninyo ng suporta sa ating agenda ng mabuting pamamahala. Talaga naman pong nakakapagpalakas ng loob ang pagkakataong ito na nagbubuklod-buklod tayo upang mag-alay ng panalangin para sa ating bayan," he said during his speech.
"Sa ganito pong mga pagkakataon, kompiyansa ako na kahit mahirap ang ating trabaho, basta naroon kayo na nakikiisa at nagbibigay-lakas, madadaig natin ang puwersang naghahangad na ibalik ang dating sistema. Alam ko pong magiging makabuluhan ang ating pagsisikap upang mangibabaw ang ating kolektibong hangarin na higit na kaunlaran at kasaganahan," he added.
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the event was proposed after the President’s meeting with members of the Coalition in Malacañang three weeks ago.
Secretary Coloma said that during that meeting, the President discussed with the church leaders the background of the January 25 law enforcement operation. PND (ag)
Soldiers killed in battle against BIFF rebels to get benefits based on law, says Palace
The Palace on Tuesday said soldiers killed in a recent battle against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) will receive benefits based on the law.
"Lahat ng benepisyo ay batay sa batas. Mayroong mga benepisyo ang wounded in action, mayroon din namang benepisyo ang killed in action, kaya’t ipatutupad naman ang mga benepisyong ito nang naaayon sa batas," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.
According to news reports, four soldiers, including a Scout Ranger captain, were killed as military operations against rebels continued at the borders of Mamasapano, Datu Piang and Shariff Saydona.
At least 10 BIFF members were killed in Barangay Pusao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, one of whom was wearing a uniform of the Special Action Force (SAF).
Last January 25, 44 PNP-SAF members were killed in Mamasapano during a law enforcement operation to capture terrorist suspects Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman. This sparked the military operation against BIFF rebels who were reportedly among those responsible for the death of the police commandos. PND (ag)
Palace: PNP Board of Inquiry did not mention the need to get the President’s statement
Malacañang on Tuesday said the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry (PNP-BOI) chief did not mention the need to get President Benigno S. Aquino’s statement regarding the Mamasapano incident.
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. noted that according to PNP Spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, Jr., PNP-BOI head Director Benjamin Magalong only spoke about the board’s request for postponement of the submission of their report, during Monday’s press conference and never mentioned the need to get President Aquino’s statement on the January 25 mission that resulted in the death of 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force.
“Ayon kay PNP Spokesperson Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo, Jr., who was present during the press conference, wala po siyang (Magalong) sinabi na kailangan pa talagang kausapin ng BOI si Pangulong Aquino,” Secretary Coloma told reporters during a press briefing.
Coloma also said that he has no specific knowledge if there was a letter or a verbal request from the PNP-BOI to get President Aquino’s statement.
President Aquino, he said, has already mentioned everything he knew about the Mamasapano incident in previous speeches, the latest of which was delivered before members of the Coalition of Christian Churches during a prayer gathering at the Malacañang grounds on Monday.
The PNP-BOI report was supposed to be submitted last month but the schedule has been reset twice. PND (jm)
Defense Department monitoring China's latest activity in West Philippine Sea, says Palace
The Palace on Tuesday said that the Department of Defense is monitoring China's latest activity in the West Philippine Sea.
"Mino-monitor po ng ating Department of National Defense ang mga pangyayaring ‘yan at patuloy pa rin naman tayo sa ating advocacy na dapat ay walang mga kilos na ganyan," Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing in Malacañang.
"Dapat panatilihin ang status quo habang tinatalakay pa sa ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ang Code of Conduct of parties involved in the maritime entitlement claims sa South China Sea o West Philippine Sea," he added.
Secretary Coloma maintained that China's reclamation activities in the disputed territories is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea.
"Mayroon pong mataas na kamalayan ang daigdig hinggil dito. Pati ang ibang mga stakeholder countries sa Southeast Asia at East Asia ay nagpahayag na rin ng kanilang pagkabahala sa mga ginagawang aksyon na ‘yan at hindi naman po tayo nag-iisa doon sa panawagan na dapat itigil ang mga gawaing ito," he said.
According to news reports, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China was undertaking "necessary" construction at the South China Sea that was not aimed at any third party.
"We are not like some countries which have carried out 'illegal building' in other people's home, and we won't accept unwarranted remarks about work on our own home," he said.
On March 30 last year, the Philippines filed a memorial at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) against China regarding its reclamation activities.
The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are laying claim to parts of the potentially resource-rich West Philippine Sea. PND (ag)
President Aquino leads Presidential Security Group's 29th anniversary celebration
President Benigno S. Aquino III led the 29th founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Tuesday, recognizing the organization's contribution to nation building.
Since the PSG's creation in 1986, the group has evolved into a formidable and well-organized security organization for the President and his family, President Aquino said.
"Ang layo na nga po ng narating ng Presidential Security Group sa loob ng halos tatlong dekada," he said, noting that when his mother, the former president Corazon Aquino, assumed power, the PSG had to begin from scratch.
"Noong nag-umpisa ang PSG, noong panahon ng nanay ko po, pagdating dito, wala na pong itinira sa atin: ultimong mga jalousie, doorknob, pati nga po mismong punong nakatayo, binunot dahil sila daw ang nagtanim kaya dadalhin na nila pag-alis nila—lahat ng matatangay ay kinuha nila," the President said, recalling the excesses of the Marcos administration.
In the past several decades, the PSG has become a reliable and more organized professional organization, he said.
The President also praised PSG's successes and sacrifices, from an ambush during one of the attempted coups d’etat in the 1980s at the Malacañang complex, where he nearly died, to the provision of security now that he is serving as President.
The PSG successfully secured him when he stayed in Zamboanga City during the Zamboanga siege in 2013, he said.
He also recognized the successful work of the PSG during the visit of Pope Francis in the country last January.
"Maski nga ho sa pagdating ng Santo Papa nitong Enero, sa kabila ng kagustuhan niyang makalapit sa napakaraming tao, nanatili siyang ligtas at naging matagumpay ang kanyang pagbisita," he said.
"Malamang ang sinasabi ninyo ngayon: Di-hamak na mas madali akong bantayan kaysa sa Santo Papa."
With the presence of groups sowing negativity and trying to destroy the unity between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), the PSG could serve as an example and model, according to the President.
The public, he said, must see the dedication of military and police personnel working together in a single command under the PSG to achieve national unity.
In the remaining days of his administration, the President said he, together with the Filipino people, could accomplish a lot with the PSG's contributions.
"Nasa huling yugto na tayo ng ating administrasyon, kompiyansa ako na dahil kasama ko ang PSG, mas marami pa tayong magagawa tungo sa katuparan ng ating nagkakaisang adhikain: Isang Pilipinas na huwaran ng kaunlaran, isang bansang mapayapa, at nagsisilbing bukal ng pagkakataon para sa ating mamamayan," he said.
Former president Corazon Aquino disbanded the Presidential Security Command under the Marcos administration in 1986 and replaced it with a leaner PSG with then Army Col. Voltaire T. Gazmin as its chief.
The PSG, which provides security to the President and his immediate family as well as visiting leaders, had to start from scratch because its headquarters was looted at the height of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
"Kalasag Ng Pangulo: Kaagapay Tungo sa Pag-unlad at Malawakang Pagbabago" was the theme of the PSG's 29th anniversary celebration. PND (as)