Congress can revoke martial law any time sans anti-terror law amendments — Drilon

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2019   •   769

Filipino government troops check a villager at a military checkpoint in the town of Pingcawayan, North Cotabato province, southern Philippines, 21 June 2017. EPA-EFE/CERILO EBRANO

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said that the government should not use the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act as a pre-requisite to the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.

Drilon made the statement in response to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s earlier remark that another extension would not be necessary if Congress amends the anti-terror law.

“Do not dangle lifting martial law in Mindanao in exchange for the speedy passage of the Human Security Act,” he said in a statement.

“The passage or non-passage of the amendments to the Human Securities Act is not a ground for extending martial law in Mindanao,” he added.

Citing Section 18, Article VII of the Philippine Constitution, the senator said that it was clear that martial law may be declared if actual rebellion exists, and that Congress may extend the declaration if the rebellion persists and public safety requires it.

“That is the only ground for extension of martial law. But it is clear since day one that the martial law or its extension in Mindanao has no basis,” Drilon said.

“It is high time that we lift (martial law to) bring back normalcy in the region,” he added.

He further stated that Congress can revoke martial law any time sans amendments to the Human Security Act.

He also said that Lorenzana was correct in saying that martial law has been going on for too long but he hopes that the government will not use it “to put pressure on Congress to pass the amendments to the Human Security Act.”

“The non-passage of the amendments to the Human Security Act should not be used as a basis or justification to further extend martial law. The amendments need thorough debates,” Drilon said.

Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017 after the Maute Terror group attacked Marawi City.

The martial law was initially set for 60 days but it was extended until the end of 2017, then until the end of 2018 and to the end of 2019.

It is set to expire on December 31, 2019.

NTF to send more vaccine supply to Mindanao areas facing surge in COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   July 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More COVID-19 vaccine doses will be deployed to parts of Mindanao that are experiencing surge in infections, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. gave the assurance during a dialogue with local officials in Cagayan de Oro City held on Monday, July 19, to discuss the health situation there.

In particular, Galvez said additional vaccine supplies will be sent to Northern Mindanao and nearby areas that reported cases of Delta COVID-19 variant.

“’Yung Region 10 magiging priority natin sa July, August and even September kaya nga nag-usap kami ni (Gingoog City) Mayor Erick [Cañosa] na kung kaya ang 2,000 [jabs] a day susuportahan namin siya,” he said.

“Ganoon din kay (Cagayan de Oro City) Mayor [Oscar Moreno] at sa lahat ng ating mga LGU kung ano ‘yung capacity natin we will support so that we can have immediate protection as soon as possible time kasi this is a race against time and we wanted na while the Delta variant is mutating, we are now vaccinating the vulnerable,” he added.

According to Dr. Joselito Retuya, a Cagayan de Oro-based epidemiologist, six Delta variant cases have been reported in Region 10, five of which are in Cagayan de Oro City and one in Gingoog City.

A shipment of 26,660 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine were delivered at the Laguindingan Airport, Misamis Oriental on Monday.

Galvez said these doses should immediately be rolled out to offer protection to the public.

The vaccine czar also reiterated the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccines among the regions and provinces throughout the country.

“Ang pinaka-primary consideration natin sa pagdedeploy ng vaccines are one, ‘yung health risk, economic risk, social, at security risk. And second, geographical, if that area is potentially vulnerable considering that highly-urbanized area sya, geographically disadvantaged siya, walang hospital and then also talagang potentially siya ang tatamaan pag magkaroon ng surge, ayun ang binibigyan natin,” he said.

Aside from Region 10, the NTF also deployed a batch of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Bangsamoro region on Monday.

The Philippines has so far confirmed 35 cases of Delta variant, including three fatalities and 32 recoveries.

Eleazar orders BASULTA police units to beef up border control vs Delta variant

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar on Monday directed police units in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA) to help intensify the intelligence monitoring and regular coastal patrol operations to prevent the illegal entry of people from neighboring countries amid the threat of Delta COVID-19 variant.

In a statement, Eleazar said he recently visited the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi to check the security measures being implemented in the said provinces against the highly transmissible coronavirus variant.

The PNP chief said he has tasked local police forces and the Maritime Group to coordinate with local government units, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine Coast Guard, in order to come up with tighter measures and seal the Mindanao boundaries against illegal entrants.

The move comes after the Philippine government included Indonesia in the list of countries with strict travel restrictions due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, which health experts attributed to the Delta variant.

The travel ban on Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, and Oman is effective until July 31.

Eleazar said the Philippines shares border with Indonesia and Malaysia in Mindanao, and the porous border in the South is reportedly being taken advantage of for smuggling activities, including those who want to easily get in and go out of the Philippines.

“Bukod sa’ting mga local police forces, nagbigay na din ako ng kautusan sa ating mga commanders doon, lalo na sa Maritime Group, na palakasin ang border control sa lahat ng pumapasok na galing sa Indonesia at Malaysia upang matiyak na hindi tayo malulusutan doon,” he said.

Eleazar said he will also meet with the officials of the Police Regional Office- Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to discuss security and safety measures in the region.

DOH says surge in COVID-19 cases in Visayas, Mindanao due to ‘multitude of factors’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The rise in COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao areas could be attributed to a “multitude of factors,” the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have noted some factors that have contributed to the spike in infections in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, including the complacency in enforcing and observing health protocols.

The DOH also observed the clustering of infections in workplaces and prisons in the said areas.

“Lagi po nating sinasabi na pag may tumataas po na kaso sa bawat lugar, we need to look at a multitude of factors because we know that there are these different factors which causes the transmission of the virus,” Vergeire said.

“Meron tayong pang-indibidwal at pang-komunidad na pagpapatupad po natin ng minimum health protocols at ‘pag tiningnan natin there are reports already coming to us from our different regional epidemiological and surveillance units na talagang mukhang nagkaroon ng complacency sa pagpapatupad ng health protocols,” she added.

Vergeire said the presence of coronavirus variants in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao may also have contributed to the surge.

“Totoo po na meron na tayong na-detect na variants sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Visayas and Mindanao and these can also be drivers of the infection but let us not just rely or let us not just say that it’s just because of the variants, there are a multitude of factors,” she said.

“Kailangan po kapag tayo ay tumitingin sa response natin, it’s a continuum. So we will need to address, not just the variants, but also the other forms of response that we are having,” she added.

Data from the DOH showed that active COVID-19 cases in the Visayas stood at 13,313, and 14,426 in Mindanao as of June 20.

The DOH reiterated its call to the public to continue adhering to health protocols mandated by the government to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.


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