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DILG top man tests positive for coronavirus disease

April 1, 2020

DILG SECRETARY AÑO TESTS POSITIVE TOO! * The DILG top man vows to continue working despite a 14-day mandatory quarantine MANILA, Philippines – The coronavirus scare continues to haunt the cabinet members and legislators of the Duterte Government. This time, it was the Interior Secretary Eduardo Año who tested positive of the deadly coronavirus disease.     Secretary Año, being the highest man of the Department of Interior and Local Government, is the lead implementor in the campaign preventing the spread of the deadly strain in the communities.  He said he received his test result from RITM and the result was positive. "Today, March 31, I received the result from RITM informing me that I am positive for COVID-19," Año said. The government official said he has not shown any symptoms of the virus, like coughing, fever, or difficulty in breathing. The National Task Force which is the lead implementor in containing the virus, such as lockdowns, checkpoints, and curfews was headed by Sec Año. "I make this announcement to call the attention of all persons I had close contact with to go on self-quarantine and observe any symptoms, in accordance with Department of Health (DOH) guidelines."  He revealed that there were four persons he came in contact with who later became coronavirus positive. However, Año is firmed that he would continue to do work at home while he'll be put into the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone positive of the deadly virus. DILG Secretary Año said "the result of my test will not in any way dampen my spirit and energy to do my job."  Menwhile, former senator Bongbong Marcos also revealed he was positive of covid-19. Marcos also received his test today from the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM). Three other top government officials who were on quarantine periods after they tested positive of the virus were Senators, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Koko Pimentel, and Sonny Angara.  

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Three years after the Marawi siege, army, cops now becoming businessmen

April 1, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- After defeating the terrorists three years ago in Marawi City, soldiers and cops went around the province bringing essentials for the people to survive while fighting another enemy they cannot see. On Monday (March 30) soldiers of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade and cops of Lanao del Sur started going around every town with somebody from the local government unit (LGU) making announcement using megaphone. In groups, they were on board army and police vehicle, loaded not with guns and bullets but grocery items, not to be given for free but for sale. "We became 'secutindero' (coined for security and 'tindero' or salesman)," said Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the 103rd Brigade. "This is our way of helping the people in our areas of operation. We have not yet stood up from the siege and here we are, fighting again (againts the virus)," Cuerpo added. The frontliners during Marawi siege in 2017 are now selling goods to residents through rolling stores. Cuerpo said this is the army and the police way of helping residents around Lake Lanao to have easy access to buy their necessities because they are having hard time to go to Marawi City where their main market is. The whole province is on an enhanced community quarantine since March 19 that would make residents difficult to travel especially if they don't have own vehicle. The provincial government of Lanao del Sur, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Lanao Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of rolling stores to avoid the tendency of over pricing in temporary markets (talipapa). The three agencies joint together in pooling the grocery items to be sold based on the DTI prices. These items include rice, sardines, noodles and coffee. Using the army and police vehicles, the men in uniform provide manpower and security. Three groups from the police and another three from army will bring the rolling store to three to four municipalities from 7am to 6pm. Col. Madzgani Mukaram, chief of Lanao del Sur police, said it is satisfying to help the people in times like this fighting the unseen enemies. "Sa ganitong klaseng giyera, kung hindi mag-cooperate ang publiko, kung hindi natin sila tutulungan, hindi lang ang mga sibilyan ang talo sa giyera laban sa COVID-19 kundi pati rin kaming mga pulis at mga sundalo na nasa frontline," Mukaram said. (In this kind of war, if the public will not cooperate, if we will not help them, it is not only the civilians who may loss in the battle against COVID-19 but also us, police and army who are in the frontline.) Mukaram said cops who went around with the rolling stores will also comply their duty at the checkpoints. "It is tiring but we are happy to serve. It's fulfilling serving the people," Mukaram said.

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Army delivers donated PPE to Northern Mindanao and Caraga hospitals

April 1, 2020

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – Amidst the depletion of medical supplies due to the Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 19 pandemic, the 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division through its 4th Civil-Military Operations “Kasaligan” Battalion and Infantry Brigades delivered boxes of donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the different hospitals in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions this March 27-28, 2020.      The said PPE were donated by The Outstanding Women in Nation's Service (TOWNS) Foundations, Inc. Each box contains 100pcs surgical masks, 100pcs N95 masks, 200pcs disposable gloves, 100pcs goggles, 100pcs face shields, 100pcs raincoats, and 2pcs alcogel. Two boxes of PPE were delivered to Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center (BPMC) in Bukidnon Province, two boxes to Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), one box to Capitol University Medical Center (CUMC), one box to CDO Medical Center (CDOMC), one box to Xavier University Maria Reyna Hospital, one box to Polymedic Medical Plaza all in Cagayan de Oro City, while two boxes of PPE to D.O. Plaza Memorial Hospital in Agusan del Sur, and two boxes to Caraga Regional Hospital and another two boxes to San Isidro Rural Health Unit all in Surigao del Norte. Dr. Stephanie Hacutin, Chief Hospital of CDOMC expressed her gratitude to TOWNS Foundation and 4ID. Dr. Renato Alagadan, Head, CUMC Task Force COVID happily said, “We really appreciate the donations of TOWNS Foundation because the front liners really need these items. These supplies are valuable in keeping my troops healthy to fight another day.” Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, the Commander of 4th ID said, “In this time of crisis we are glad that our “Bayanihan” spirit is alive and burning. 4ID is always ready and eager to give assistance in delivering the much needed PPE for the medical front liners against COVID-19.” “We also urge our community to follow the health advisories of our medical experts and the Department of Health. Be a hero, stay at home,” Gacal ended.

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2 NPA Fighters in AgNor Surrender During their Anniversary

April 1, 2020

CABADBARAN CITY, Agusan del Norte- Two regular fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) finally decided to surrender to Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste, the Commanding officer of the 29th Infantry “Matatag” Battalion on March 29, 2020, at Barangay del Pilar, Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte. Their surrender coincided with the date of the NPA's Anniversary. The said NPA fighters were identified as alias Rocky, 35 years old and a resident of Kicharao, Agusan del Norte. Alias Rocky is a former member of Platoon “BANAKON”, Sentro de Grabedad (SDG) 16, of the Guerilla Front Committee (GFC) 16 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC). The other was alias Bibong, 40 years old and a resident of Santiago, Agusan del Norte. Alias Bibong is a former member of Sandatahang Yunit Pampropaganda (SYP) 16A, Guerilla Front (GF) 16A of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Command (NEMRC). The surrenderees brought with them one KG-9 pistol, one magazine with 15 rounds ammunition, one homemade shotgun and subversive documents with high intelligence value. Alias Rocky emotionally said in his message, “Life with the NPA was never easy but still I was enticed to join them. I was deceived in joining them, having been told that they would provide for my family in exchange for my allegiance. After three years of being with them, I realized that what they told me were lies. They never cared for my family nor did they care for their troops. Many times I’ve experienced a high fever and became severely ill, but they never gave me any medicine nor allowed me to take a rest. One time, I found out that my mother who was already in her senior  By 2028, a world-class Army that is a source of national pride “Honor. Patriotism. Duty” years got sick too, but I could not do anything to help her nor could my siblings. I feel like I failed as a son and as a brother in supporting my family since our father has died already. These experiences and misgivings pierced my heart, and so I decided to surrender already so I can still take care of my old ill mother and help my siblings before it was too late.” According to alias Bibong, "As a father to my children, all I want is to be able to protect and provide for my family. And that’s how they enticed me. They told me that if I join them, I would have a firearm to use to protect myself and my family. They also said that they would provide help for us. After three years of being with and trusting them, I realized that I wasn’t protecting my family but I was putting them in danger. As a father, I should guide my children to what is right especially now that they are very young. I should also have taken care of my wife more so now that she is pregnant. I should have been there to assist her. But it seems that I've given much of my time to the NPA and slowly neglected my priority which is my family. And so I decided to surrender so I could still guide my children to light and be able to take care of their mother. They are all very young to lose a father if I continued with the NPA. I still want to spend time with them and make up for having failed them when I was with the NPA” Lt. Col. Isagani O. Criste said in his statement, “As a man just like the two who surrendered, I feel your deep distress and regret for the wasted years which you spent serving the NPA in exchange for the moments you could have spent with your family. I know your intentions were good and that you only desire that which is best for your family. I’m happy now that you have found your way back before it was too late.” “And to all the NPAs who are still in the mountains, I know most of your plans have already been frustrated, even your anniversary celebration. And I know also that most of you are tired already, fighting for an ideology which may be vague and unclear to you. Please listen to us. The promises made to you were pure lies and will do no good to you or your family. Abandon it. Your fellow fighters have surrendered already, evidence that there is truly a way out of there. So, leave that evil organization, and surrender now. The government is waiting for you to come back and is extending its arms to support you in your desire for a better life with your family,” Criste added.

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Red Cross, Army delivers food packs for COVID-19 frontliners in Agusan Sur

April 1, 2020

Bayugan City , Agusan del Sur – The Philippine Red Cross Agusan del Sur Chapter and the 3rd Special Forces “Arrowhead” Battalion (3SFBn) team up in providing additional food packs for COVID-19 frontliners in selected barangays of the municipality of Prosperidad and Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur from March 31 until today, April 01. The frontliners include uniformed personnel, barangay health workers, city and municipal health staffs, and volunteer barangay personnel from the respective LGUs who work 24/7 to implement appropriate quarantine control measures and protocols to maintain a COVID-19- free Agusan Del Sur. “As of March 25, CARAGA is the lone region in Mindanao that has zero COVID-19 case based on earlier reports. Our frontliners are the respective LGUs’ workforce that greatly contributes to this and we want to keep their morale high by sharing what we can offer no matter how small it is, “Lieutenant Colonel Joey B Baybayan INF (GSC) PA, Commanding Officer, said. “Being frontliners is not something new to us in the military and law enforcement service that is why we know what it feels. This is one of our ways of thanking our fellow frontliners and other fellow implementers of the IATF-MEID taskforce in our area of responsibility, “LTC Baybayan, added. The Army extends its gratitude to the Philippine Red Cross and encourages other private institutions promote and ignite the spirit of Bayanihan by providing any available outreach services such as the donation of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and providing basic needs especially for the needy. Meanwhile, despite declaration of ceasefire or the suspension of military operations against the communist NPA Terrorists (CNTs), there will never be a ceasefire in delivering basic and social services and in enforcing the law along with the PNP to keep the peace and order especially now that the nation is in a crucial time because of the pandemic. “This is our “Solusyong Militar para sa proteksyon at seguridad ng mga frontliners at mga kababayan”. After all this is an “inter-agency” Task Force and we have to do our part, “LTC Baybayan, ended.

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Army says CPP-NPA Disintegrates in NorMin, Caraga

April 1, 2020

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City — The terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) is disintegrating and nearing collapse in Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions. This was announced by Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, the Commander of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division following its 1st quarter campaign review and assessment held at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City. Gacal said the CPP-NPA which is listed internationally as a terrorist organization, is on a continuous decline and on the brink of collapse after suffering massive debacles in 2019 and during the 1st quarter of 2020. Gacal who also serves as Chairperson of the Regional Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict- Technical Working Group (RTFTWG) in Region 10, and Vice-Chairperson of RTF-TWG in Region 13 said the decline is largely due to the national government’s implementation of the Whole-of-Nation Approach (WNA) to end the local communist armed conflict. He claimed that the peace and development campaigns being pursued in the two regions significantly contributed to the reduction of manpower, firearms and affected barangays of the CPP- NPA. Dwindling members Gacal said the focused and sustained military operations, and law enforcement support operations launched by combined government forces resulted in the killing of 51 armed NPA terrorists and the capture of 54 others. He said the capability of the terror group to conduct violent  activities was also reduced with the capture of 732 firearms and assorted war paraphernalia including IHL- banned anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices. Army and police units also overran 225 mountain hideouts which were reportedly used for manufacturing IEDs, and as training grounds for new NPA recruits. Massive surrender The local government unit-backed Community Support Programs (CSP) implemented by various units of the 4ID in poor, marginalized, conflictaffected and conflict vulnerable communities resulted in the surrender 6,787 regular members and supporters of the NPA including Milisya ng Bayan (local militias), Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad (Local Party Branch) and Underground Mass Organization members in the two regions. The said program serves as a link of the local populace with the local government units and agencies, and aims to enhance the delivery of basic services to the people. Community Support Teams of 4ID have teamed up with their counterparts from local PNP offices in identifying and facilitating the resolution of primary issues affecting communities through community participation and enhanced stakeholder convergence. Gacal said concerned government agencies including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) are actively facilitating the enrollment of the surrenderees in the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) of the national government. E-CLIP offers livelihood and financial assistance to former rebels to facilitate their re-integration to the mainstream society. NPA’s 51 years of violence Meanwhile, the NPA has marked its 51 years of existence with a new wave of terror after killing two elderly and innocent tribespeople at Sitio Inadan, Brgy Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur last March 19, 2020. Several armed NPAs hacked to death Manobo Tribal Chieftain Hawudon Bernardino Astudillo, 73, and Zaldy Iba┼łez, 52. The killings were since denounced by various sectors, tribal group leaders and local chief executives. Curiously, the self-proclaimed human rights group Karapatan and other progressive groups have remained mum about the killings. Gacal also slammed the terrorist group for the gruesome murder which was perpetrated while the entire nation is scrambling to fight against  COVID-19. “This incident is yet another proof of the true color and character of the CPP-NPA-NDF over the last five decades. They have nothing to show for but a trail of violence and blood on their hands. That is their 51-year legacy: violence and human rights abuses against our very own people”, he said. However, Gacal said he is optimistic that peace and development is already within reach in the two regions especially with the implementation of Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev) Program, and Peace and Development Zones (PDZ) in Northern Mindanao and Caraga respectively. These initiatives aim to address the root causes of insurgency through focused, coordinated and enhanced delivery of socioeconomic development programs and projects in conflict- affected and conflict vulnerable areas. “We are on the right track in winning the peace and promoting development in the two regions. Let us press on the fight and end the local communist armed conflict now”, he added.  

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