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PNP, AFP to probe misencounter in Samar between soldiers, police

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Soldiers recover remains of policemen killed in the misencounter. (Photo courtesy of HPG REGION 8)

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesperson PSSupt. Benigno Durana Jr. said Tuesday (June 26) that they have formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to conduct a fact-finding investigation into the bloody misencounter between the police and military in Samar, in response to the immediate order from PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.

Also, a Board of Inquiry (BOI) was formed to serve as a support group that will coordinate closely with its counterparts in the military. It will be led by Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) Eastern Visayas Director Rolando Felix.

“The Board of Inquiry will not only look into the incident itself but look into the operational strategic ramification of that incident so that this kind of unfortunate incident will not happen in the future,” said Durana.

The incident, which happened in Sitio Lunoy Barangay San Roque in Sta. Rita, Samar early Monday (June 25), accidentally killed six policemen and injured nine others when members of the 87th Infantry Battalion mistaken as rebel troops of the 805th Mobile Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 8 conducting minor combat operations in the area.

Among the issues that the investigating body will determine is MGen. Raul Farnacio’s claim that the cops were using outdated radio units that did not match their Harris communication equipment and so caused failure in coordination.

The investigation will also look into the matter on whether or not an official was accompanying the troops during the operation.

Durana said the PNP Chief already instructed SITG head PCSupt. Mariel Magaway to facilitate the processing and speedy release of all benefits due to the families of the victims.

Magaway, for his part, assured that the incident will not affect the working relationship between the Armed Forces of the Philippine and the PNP; emphasizing that no one on both sides expected for it to happen as it was an accident.

“It will not affect in any way. Aksidente ito (It was an accident). This is an unfortunate incident so wala naming may gusto nito (nobody wanted it). This is an accident, wala ng iba (nothing more),” Magaway firmly said in a press briefing in Samar.

Malacañang through Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, meanwhile, appealed to the public to give the investigation a chance to uncover what really transpired in the shooting ground. – Lea Ylagan / Marje Pelayo

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‘Samuel’ expected to make landfall in Dinagat-Samar-Leyte area

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Satellite imagery as of November 20 (9:10 a.m PHT) | PAGASA

MANILA, Philippines — Tropical Depression Samuel has maintained its strength as it moves closer toward the Dinagat-Samar-Leyte area.

At 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday (November 20), PAGASA has spotted the weather system at 350 kilometers east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte.

It packs maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 65 kilometers per hour (kph).

Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1 has been raised in the following areas:

Luzon:
Masbate including Ticao Island, Romblon, southern Oriental Mindoro, southern Occidental Mindoro, at Northern Palawan including Cuyo Island at Calamian Group of Islands

Visayas:
Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, at Antique

Mindanao:
Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental, at Camiguin

The said areas will experience moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds.

PAGASA said Samuel is expected to make a landfall in Dinagat-Samar-Leyte Area on Tuesday night.

Bicol Region, Marinduque, and Romblon may experience widespread rain showers and thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country may expect isolated rain showers and thunderstorms. — UNTV News & Rescue

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US Gov’t to return Balangiga bells to the Philippines

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2018

(L-R) Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez with United States Defense Secretary James Mattis. Courtesy: Philippine Embassy in Washington DC

 

During his speech at the Veterans Remembrance Ceremony at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis formally announced the turnover of the historic Balangiga Bells to the Philippines.

“The Secretary just simply said in not so many words, ‘Ambassador, these bells are now officially going to return to the Philippines,’ ” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez who was present at the event.

US Defense Secretary Mattis showed Romualdez the well-preserved state of the bells and the engravings on it.

The memorial marker states that the Balangiga bells are church bells taken as war trophies by the US Army from the town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar, Philippines. The ringing of the bells signaled the attack of the bolo tribesmen which led to the massacre of Company C of the 9th US Infantry Group.

After 117 years, the US government will finally return the historic bells to its original home in Samar.

President Rodrigo Duterte first made mention of the bells to Mattis last year during the Defense Ministers Meeting at Clark Air Base.

“They needed to change the 2017 National Defense Appropriation Act which will allow the return of the bells. That took some time. Shortly after, there was a 90-day period before Congress could actually change that. But that one went very quickly,” said Ambassador Romualdez.

Romualdez thanked the Legislative and Executive branches of the US government; several officials from the United Nations and a number of Filipinos and Americans who contributed in the effort to return the Balangiga bells to the Philippines.  — JL Asayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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Two NPA leaders in Samar surrender to authorities

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

 

Two high ranking officials of the New People’s Army

SAMAR, Philippines – Two high ranking officials of the New People’s Army (NPA) recently surrendered to authorities of the 2nd Eastern Samar Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Ka Nestor,” a rebel for 15 years, was the commander of the NPA unit operating in Samar and Eastern Samar.

“Ka Joel,” meanwhile was a rebel for almost 10 years and a political instructor under the NPA’s national command prior to his surrender.

The two confessed that they surrendered to be with their families aside from the ordeals they had to suffer while hiding in the mountains.

“Mayroong nagsurrender na aming kasama mula sa bundok, kaya nagplano na rin akong magsurender,” said Ka Nestor.

Ka Joel added, “Gusto na namin ng matahimik, maayos na hanapbuhay ng bawa’t pamilya namin at makasama na namin ang aming pamilya.”

Consequently, the two turned over their respective firearms to include a magazine-fed shotgun, a .45 caliber pistol, a 9mm automatic “llama”, magazines and bullets.

According to Region 8 Police Director Police Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, their surrender could be credited to the ongoing localized peace talks and the government’s intensified counter propaganda against the rebels without using force.

 “Kaya nga pinapa-localize ang usapan para hindi yung issue ng Amsterdam ang pinaguusapan, yung issue nung kababayan natin, yung issue ng mga taga Samar, taga Leyte yun ang dalhin natin yun ang pagusapan,” Carlos said.

Authorities are now processing the two returnees’ documents for them to be able to avail the benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

They will be able to receive an immediate financial assistance of P15,000, livelihood assistance of P50,000, PhilHealth assistance, skills development assistance, security assistance, and firearm remuneration. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Archyl Egano)

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