DILG tells PNP to secure COVID-19 vaccines, immunization teams

Robie de Guzman   •   February 10, 2021   •   522

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to secure all COVID-19 vaccines and protect the teams that will be administering them to avoid possible delays and disruption.

In a statement, the DILG directed the PNP to work closely with local government units in making sure that the vaccines will reach the intended recipients, especially in the far-flung areas in the country.

“Ang mga bakuna na ‘yan ay parang ginto lalo na ngayong kulang pa ang supply kaya pinaghahanda natin ang PNP sa anumang insidente,” DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece, Jr. said.

“Pagdating sa airport hanggang sa maiturok ang mga ito, kasama na ang ating kapulisan,” he added.

The DILG said the move is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for police and soldiers to help maintain order and security, as well as augment forces particularly in remote sitios and barrios, during the vaccination campaign.

According to the government’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan, barangay officials and safety officers will also be tapped to aid in the vaccination campaign.

“Tulad nang lagi nating paalala, we need all the help that we can get sa pandemyang ito lalo na sa nalalapit na pagbabakuna sa ating bansa kaya ang ating PNP, kasama ang mga pinuno ng barangay at mga tanod, ay inaasahan nating makikipagtulungan at makikiisa,” Florece said.

Duterte earlier asked the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to allow the free and safe passage of the COVID-19 vaccines particularly in areas where they have a degree of influence.

The CPP agreed to the president’s request but urged the government not to use military vehicles in transporting the vaccines.

The communist group earlier said that vehicles transporting the vaccines must be clearly marked with a red cross over a white back ground to avoid being mistaken as a military vehicle.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya slammed the CPP for laying conditions for them not to hamper the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to all parts of the country.

Malaya said that during this time of pandemic, the communist rebels must place the country first before their selfish ideological interests and should not impose any conditions for the benefit of the people.

“Can’t the CPP/NPA/NDF declare a cessation of hostilities for a change if only to allow the delivery of the vaccines? In all countries of the world, the military are mobilized to assist in the vaccination program. In the US, the National Guard has been mobilized to ensure the fast delivery of their vaccines,” he said.

Malaya said that by setting conditions, the CPP is actually threatening the delivery of the vaccines in conflict-affected areas.

“What happens when we utilize a military vehicle to transport the vaccine in mountainous areas, are they going to shoot our soldiers on a humanitarian mission?” he said, adding that “6 x 6 military trucks are the only vehicles that can reach these areas.”

“What happens when civilian vehicles do not have a red cross over a white background?” he said.

Malaya said that the PNP will be on high alert considering the conditions imposed by the communist rebels.

The national government is eyeing to start its COVID-19 vaccination program on February 15 when the initial batch of 117,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech under the COVAX facility arrive in the country.

DOH’s Duque gets vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III received his first dose of a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday.

Duque was inoculated around 10 a.m. with CoronaVac dose made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. Health Undersecretary Geraldo Bayugo administered the vaccine.

Duque, 64, is a senior citizen that belongs to A2 category of the government’s COVID-19 priority list.

“As I receive my dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, I invite everyone to do the same, and choose to be protected,” Duque was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the DOH.

“Let us all take part in protecting public health, and let us be in unison in spreading one message: that vaccines are safe, and vaccines are effective,” he added.

Duque also stressed that the government is doing everything it can to secure sufficient vaccine supply to cover 70 million Filipinos.

The DOH chief’s vaccination follows the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to use CoronaVac on senior citizens amid a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine supply, which is used to inoculate the elderly.

 

Suspected MILF lost command member nabbed in Zamboanga del Norte – PNP

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A suspected member of the notorious lost command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was arrested in Zamboanga del Norte, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Friday.

In a statement, PNP chief General Debold Sinas identified the suspect as 37-year old Kayser Martinez alias Alihamra Martinez, who was said to be a former member of the MILF lost command group operating in Siocon and Sirawai towns in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Martinez was arrested on Wednesday during an operation jointly conducted by elements of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 9 and Siocon Municipal Police Station by virtue of warrant of arrest under criminal case number 232 for the crime of multiple murder issued by the RTC 9, Branch 6, of Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte.

Citing court records, Sinas said Martinez was involved in the massacre of four civilians last August 3, 1999, in Sitio Guisakan, Barangay D. Reconalla, Siocon, Zamboanga Del Norte with his former MILF Lost Command Leaders Hairulla Hassan alias Hayron Hassan and Eddie Namenso alias Commander Liwayway.

They were also among the perpetrators of the daring attack on Siocon municipality last May 4, 2003, that resulted in casualties and damages in the municipality.

Currently, Martinez is a member of Hassan Group criminal gang allegedly led by Anderson Hassan alias Commander Sabaya, cousin of former notorious leader Hairulla Hassan who are at the same time eminently monitored tying up with the Local Terrorist Groups (LTGs) based in Panabutan, Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte.

“Manhunt operations against the leader and other members of the criminal gang are underway to prevent them from further victimizing innocent people,” Sinas said.

Martinez is presently detained for further interrogation.

Appropriate charges will be filed against him in court, the PNP said.

Suspected BIFF bomber nabbed in Maguindanao police ops

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The man allegedly behind the series of bombing incidents in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat has been arrested in a counter-terrorism operation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday.

PNP chief General Debold Sinas identified the suspect as Norton Saptula, 23, an alleged member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter-Karialan Faction under chief staff Sukarno Sapal alias Diok.

He was said to be involved in the bombing incidents that transpired on August 28, 2018 in Brgy. Kalawag 3, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that resulted in 36 wounded civilians and three deaths.

He was also accused of involvement in another incident on September 2, 2018 in Brgy. Kalawag 2, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that resulted in 14 wounded civilians and two deaths.

Sinas said Saptula was also the 5th most wanted person in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region.

He was arrested on Wednesday in Poblacion, Ampatuan, Maguindanao when operating troops served a warrant of arrest against him for three counts of complex crime of murder with multiple frustrated murder.

The PNP said Saptula was booked at Ampatuan Municipal Police Station and was turned over to Isulan Municipal Police Station for documentation and proper disposition.

“The arrest of Saptula is a setback in the atrocities of the BIFF operating in Maguindanao area and nearby provinces. Moreover, this successful operation would likely affect the planned attacks of local and foreign terrorist organizations,” Sinas said.

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