PH Military to probe alleged China harassment of TV crew in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2021   •   726

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been ordered to conduct an investigation into the alleged harassment of Chinese vessels on a Filipino television crew in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Friday.

In a statement, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the AFP will gather and validate all information relating to the incident.

“The Defense Department has directed the AFP through its Western Command to investigate, gather, and validate all the relevant facts on the incident,” he said.

Andolong said the outcome of the investigation will be used to coordinate any appropriate action through the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea, as well as engagement among the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Transportation, and other concerned agencies.

“We are concerned for the safety of anyone — unarmed civilians — at sea. As such, we view the report with concern,” he said.

In a separate statement, the AFP has expressed concern over the reported harassment of Chinese PLA Navy Vessels and a Chinese Coast Guard on another vessel carrying a television crew.

The media team was reportedly chased by Chinese boats while on its way to Ayungin Shoal, about 105 nautical miles from Palawan. The area is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

AFP Spokesperson Marine Major General Edgard Arevalo said the Western Mindanao Command is looking into the incident to establish what really transpired.

“We have made representations with the news reporter to provide us raw footage or photographs they have of the incident to help us establish the circumstances and document the incident,” Arevalo said.

He, likewise, appealed to journalists to “exercise prudence in the course of their job.”

“We have accommodated members of media in our ships and aircraft to do their coverage so they can be protected while in the practice of their profession,” Arevalo said.

He added, “The AFP is concerned with the safety and well-being of our Kababayans that we have been forthright and transparent in our reporting about the situation in our EEZ.”

“Amidst the situation, the AFP reiterates its commitment to follow the dictates of the Constitution to protect the people and secure our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he said.

AFP, PNP, PCG ink deal to boost operations vs terrorism, insurgency

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday signed a tripartite accord that seeks to further enhance interoperability during internal and external security operations.

In a statement, the PNP said the tripartite mechanism was officially adopted by the three agencies through Resolution Nr. 11-2021 which included the PCG in the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC).

The move is in line with the government’s ‘whole-of-nation’ approach towards peace and security; engaging the PNP, AFP, and PCG to work together in keeping the country safe and secure.

AFP Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana, PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar, and PCG commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr. will serve as co-chairs of the National JPSCC.

As a new JPSCC member agency, the PCG will play a vital role in forming various concepts of operations that will address the country’s complex and evolving maritime threats.

“We look forward to future collaborative efforts among agency members in terms of maritime safety and security, maritime law enforcement, and the protection of the country’s marine environment,” Sobejana said in the same statement.

“The present challenges offer a great opportunity for us to enhance our coordination and interoperability. This has been a journey built from the ground by men in uniform service who selflessly serve for years and further stimulated and sustained at the policy side. For the PCG Team, we are so fortunate today that we are here to solidify the PCG as the third arm service in our lifetime,” Ursabia said.

Aside from the joint accord, the three agency heads also signed the JPSCC Letter Directive Nr. 03-2021, which called for the reorganization of the JPSCC.

In the revised structure, the National JPSCC will now be headed by the PNP Chief, AFP Chief, and PCG Commandant while PNP Directors for Integrated Police Operation, AFP Unified Commanders, and PCG Area Commanders will exercise supervision over the Regional and Provincial JPSCCs.

The accord also stipulates that cooperation and coordination among the AFP, PNP, and PCG complemented by collaboration and consultation with all stakeholders shall be the guiding principle in addressing peace and security concerns.

“Despite differences in our respective uniforms and in the scopes of our respective work and mandates, we are all bound together by our common oath to serve and protect the Filipino people and our country as well as safeguard the national interest,” Eleazar said.

“But most importantly, we all have the same faith and hope for humanity. That is, perhaps the most fundamental reason why we need to foster and strengthen our cooperation and collaboration – to promote the common good” he added.

The joint accord was signed in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Clusters of Delta variant cases seen in Northern Mindanao, Antique – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reported that clusters of Delta COVID-19 variant cases have been observed in Northern Mindanao and the province of Antique in Western Visayas.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the cluster of infections in the Northern Mindanao was seen in a family while different clusters of infections were observed in Antique.

She said one family cluster may have stemmed from an individual who came home from work and infected the household.

“Ito pong ating cluster of infection na isa, dito sa may Delta variant, nakitaan natin na mayroon isang kapamilya na nagtratrabaho sa isang lugar at umuwi sa kanilang pwesto, at doon sila po ay nagkaroon ng pagkakahawa-hawa. There is a link,” Vergeire said in a press forum.

The DOH earlier confirmed the local transmission of the highly contagious variant following the phylogenetic analysis conducted by the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center, and case investigation by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau and the regional and local epidemiology and surveillance units.

The number of Delta variant cases in the Philippines rose to 47 after 12 more local cases were detected. Of these cases, three died while eight remain active.

The DOH reminded the public to continue adhering to COVID-19 health protocols, such as the wearing of face masks and face shields, social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travels and gatherings.

They must also get vaccinated against COVID-19 when it is their turn.

The DOH likewise urged local government units to shorten the duration of case detection to isolation and immediately isolate symptomatic patients, and ramp up their vaccination and prioritize the senior citizens and people with underlying conditions.

Philippines lists 6,845 new COVID-19 infections; active cases up to 55,069

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reported that the Philippines has logged 6,845 new cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), pushing the cumulative tally to 1,537,097.

The DOH said that the country’s number of active cases rose to 55,069.

Of this, 93.4 percent are mild, 1.3 percent are asymptomatic, 1.6 percent are moderate, 2.3 percent are severe, and 1.4 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH noted in its report that two accredited testing laboratories failed to submit their data on time.

The DOH also reported 2,330 more patients who have recovered from the disease, bringing the total recoveries to 1,455,137.

The death toll remained at 26,891 as there were no reported new fatalities.

Data from the DOH also showed that 52 percent of the country’s ICU beds are occupied and 36 percent of ventilators are being used.

In the National Capital Region, 42 percent of the ICU beds are occupied while 32 percent of the ventilators are in use.

The DOH also noted a positivity rate of 12.3 percent out of 43,668 tests reported last July 21.

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