DILG supports DND recommendation to lift martial law in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019   •   399

FILE PHOTO: Armed Forces of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday expressed support for the recommendation of the Department of National Defense (DND) not to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31 this year.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said his agency concurs with the DND’s view that “the purpose of Martial Law has been attained based on the assessment of military and police forces.”

The DILG chief also said that “normalcy has returned to the entire region and the peace and order situation in the area has remarkably improved since the Marawi Siege of 2017.”

“In the last two years and eight months that Martial Law is in effect in Mindanao, our military and police forces in the region have significantly degraded the forces and capabilities of the Maute and other threat groups that they no longer have any capacity to launch a Marawi-type attack,” he said in a statement.

“Moreover, three guerilla fronts have been cleared and three Pulang Bagani commands of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) have been dismantled,” he added.

The DILG chief also stated that the lifting of martial law will be beneficial to the country’s economy, bringing with it more local and foreign investments and increase tourist arrivals in the region.

“We also believe that the lifting of Martial Law will be advantageous to the economy as it will signal the full return to normalcy and the end to perceived security risks of investing and travelling to Mindanao,” he said.

Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017 after 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.

Año further noted that local government units, through their respective local peace and order councils from the regional down to the barangay level, are also now more engaged and are actively working with their counterparts in the security sector to carry out peace and security measures in Mindanao.

“In fact, there is a 30% drop in crime in the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) alone,” he said.

Año also assured the public that even without martial law, the police and military will continue to launch security operations to protect the public against possible threat from extremists and communist rebels.

Passengers without confirmed flights won’t be allowed at airports, DILG says

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday reiterated its call on passengers not to go to the airports as they will not be allowed to go in if their flights and tickets are not confirmed.

In a statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said strict health protocols are being implemented in airports amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and operations of airlines and other transportation companies are bound by these rules.

With the limited flights currently allowed to operate, Malaya stressed that “going to the airport without a confirmed flight or ticket is a waste of energy and time and will just lead to frustration.”

He advised passengers to contact the airlines to ensure that their flights are confirmed to avoid inconvenience.

He also reminded passengers that all tickets purchased prior to the pandemic have already been cancelled by the airlines and will need to be rebooked based on the new schedule of flights approved by airport authorities.

“Patuloy po ang paalala natin sa ating mga kababayan na huwag pong magpunta sa mga airport or seaports kung wala po tayong confirmed na flight,” he said.

“Mangyari lamang po na makipag-ugnayan kayo sa inyong airline kung confirmed ang inyong flight. Mapapagod lang po kayo sa biyahe at masasayang ang pera ninyo at mauuwi lang po ito sa wala,” he added.

Malaya also said that walk-in customers will not be able to purchase tickets at the airports as all flights are regulated in coordination with the airline companies.

“Even if you were issued a ticket by the airline, you will have to confirm that prior to going to the airport because there may have been some changes in flight schedules. Moreover, all tickets issued prior to the pandemic are canceled and will not be honored by airport authorities,” he said.

The Department of Transportation, through the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), earlier released an advisory requiring all airlines to secure accurate information, especially the contact details of all passengers, even those who purchased tickets from travel agencies, to ensure that they will be properly notified by the airlines if flights are canceled. Moreover, the said information may also be helpful in future contact tracing purposes.

The CAB also directed all airlines “to make appropriate public announcements advising individuals who have purchased tickets prior to the COVID-19 crisis that their flights are canceled and that they need to rebook accordingly.”

So far, only 29 airports nationwide are open for operation and even in airports allowed to operate, there are limited flight schedules upon the request of Local Government Units, the DILG said.

DILG tells LGUs to digitize transactions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to move towards digitized transactions to reduce contact and impede further transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the country continues to fight the pandemic.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año called on LGUs to fast-track the issuance of permits and clearances in setting up crucial infrastructure needed for digital connectivity across the country including the construction of cell sites to improve internet connectivity.

“The millions working from home, the students looking forward to on-line learning, and the workers who depend on the digital economy are all expecting government to address the gaps in our internet infrastructure,” Año said.

“We therefore encourage all LGUs to beef up their digital platforms in their communities as we move towards the new normal,” he added.

He also said that going digital is the “call of the time,” but more than technological advancement, digitized government and consumer transactions are precautionary measures that can contribute immensely to impeding virus transmission.

In the same statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that digital platforms can be an important partner of LGUs in ensuring the health and safety of the public while promoting economic growth. 

“You have to strike a balance. We must begin the economic recovery even as we fight COVID,” he said.

Malaya also noted that LGUs have a key role in bolstering the digital platform, not just in government services but also in building business and consumer confidence during these trying times.

He likewise said that LGUs must encourage businesses to veer towards online money transfer instead of physical payment as part of the new normal.

“Many businesses have now been engaging the financial services provided by major payment gateways such as Smart Padala, Gcash, PayMaya, Google, and Click2Pay that have drastically changed our experience in making online payments – from the conventional “pasaload” to a more sophisticated process of online payment,” he said.

Malaya also said that cashless payments have also helped in the fast distribution of the second batch of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) subsidy.

The government likewise advocates the use of online payment for taxes and mandatory social contributions, such as GSIS, BIR, SSS, PagIBIG, and PhilHealth, he added.

“Despite some security issues that the government assures can be countered, online payment is also seen to reduce red tape and cost of doing business as all government agencies, through the Ease of Doing Business Act, are mandated to automate their processes including payment of taxes, fees, and charges,” he said.

Over 15,000 PDLs released from jail amid COVID-19 pandemic – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 15,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released from jail facilities as part of the government’s decongestion program in light of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the DILG said that from March 17 to June 22, a total of 15,322 PDLs were released from jail facilities supervised by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Of this number, 5,910 were from the National Capital Region; 1,557 from CALABARZON; 1,487 from Central Visayas; 1,041 from Central Luzon; 897 from Zamboanga Peninsula; 762 from Northern Mindanao; and the rest are from other regions.

Around 1,312 of these PDLs were released because of the new Supreme Court guidelines issued to decongest the jails.

Majority of these released inmates are elderly and those who committed light or bailable offenses, the DILG said.

“All of these PDLs were released by authority of the courts with some released in accordance with new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court because of the pandemic,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.

“Ang paglaya ng libo-libong PDLs ay patunay na hindi sila nakakaligtaan at hindi pinapabayaan. Patunay rin itong gumagana ang justice system sa bansa kahit pa man may pandemya,” he added.

Año issued the statement in response to the claim of leftist groups that the government is not doing enough to decongest the jails.

The DILG chief also said that the BJMP established COVID-19 isolation centers with medical staff in the regions despite budgetary and personnel limitations. These isolation facilities were put up with the support from the Department of Health, local government units.

Six Ligtas COVID Centers with 918-bed capacity are established in strategic areas, particularly in Quezon City, San Fernando City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Pagbilao in Quezon province, and Zamboanga City, Año said.

He added that the bureau also intensified its triaging process, provision of more focused medical care to patients, conduct of daily disinfection of jails, targeted and expanded testing, and massive health education campaigns inside jails.

“These are on top of the usual precautionary measures such as wearing of face mask, thermal scanning, use of foot baths, hand washing, and maintaining good hygiene,” he said.

“Kahit pa maraming responsibilidad ang ipinagkakatiwala sa DILG ngayong COVID-19 crisis ay hindi isinasantabi ng Kagawaran at ng BJMP ang PDLs. Tinitiyak namin ang kapakanan at kaligtasan nila,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the country’s jails, with a total of 783 confirmed infections among PDLs and 135 among BJMP personnel.

As of Thursday, July 2, 549 PDLs and 90 bureau personnel have recovered from the viral respiratory disease, Año said.

“Tinututukan po namin ang sitwasyon sa mga BJMP jail sa buong bansa at hindi namin pinapabayaan ang mga COVID-19 positive cases. Sa katunayan, marami na ang gumaling at hindi kami bibitaw hanggang bawat isa sa kanila ay maka-recover na,” he said.

The BJMP also expanded the electronic dalaw (e-Dalaw) program in relation to the temporary suspension of visitation in all jail facilities amid the public health crisis.


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