PNP identifies 11 suspects in Negros cops slay

Robie de Guzman   •   July 23, 2019   •   1045

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it has identified at least 11 suspects in the brutal killing of four police officers in Ayungon town in Negros Oriental.

“Yes, we have identified, kung hindi ako nagkakamali ang report ng RD (regional director) doon at least 11 of them,” PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde told reporters in an interview.

Albayalde said murder charges will be filed against the suspects who are believed to members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The chief of Barangay Mabato in Ayungon where the crime took place will also face charges.

“Cases will be filed against this people… whether yung sa amin ay may reward or none, we are duty-bound to go after these people dahil pinatay nila no less than our men,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier offered a P1.3 million bounty for any information and the capture of those behind the crime, adding that he prefers to see them dead.

READ: Duterte offers P1.3-M reward for killers of 4 Negros cops

Albayalde said the reward would encourage witnesses to come forward and report to authorities what really transpired.

Reports said the four police officers were allegedly killed and tortured by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) last Thursday in Ayungon.

The victims were supposed to meet an informant who was believed to have set them up with the NPA for an ambush.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office 7 said the four cops were “dragged, hogtied,” and “ganged up” by about 30 to 40 men. One officer even suffered a broken rib before they were shot kneeling down, “resembling a summary execution, more than an ambush.”

The slain cops, Cpl. Relebert Beronio and Patrolmen Raffy Callo, Roel Cabellon and Marquino de Leon were intelligence personnel from the 704th Mobile Force Company Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the PNP Central Visayas.

Albayalde said they are delving deeper into the case following initial reports that the chief of Mabato village met with the victims several hours before they were killed on July 18.

The PNP chief also doubts the local chief’s claim that he knows nothing of the communist rebels’ activities in his area of jurisdiction.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier said that police and military troops are now working to capture the alleged NPA members who were behind the crime. (with details from Lea Ylagan & Victor Cosare)

Panelo: One-on-one interview with Duterte to push through on Tuesday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

After its postponement on January 22, the one-on-one interview with President Rodrigo Duterte will push through on Tuesday (January 28), said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday.

The January 22 schedule for the one-on-one interview was postponed due to “pressing family matters”.

“Due to pressing matters, the tête-à-tête Part 2 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo has been moved to January 28, 2020 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace at 5:00 p.m.,” a previous media advisory read.

This will be the President’s second têtê-a-têtê. The first televised interview was held last September 2018.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

Duterte turns down Trump invite to attend US-ASEAN meet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he has decided to reject the invitation of United States President Donald Trump to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to be held in Las Vegas this March.

Duterte announced his decision during an interview with Russian International Television Network RT.

“I just received an invitation to go to the United States together with the ASEAN leaders. I haven’t been to the States. I was invited by [former US President Barack] Obama a while back. But I did not go,” he said in a video posted on Thursday.

When asked if he will attend the upcoming summit between the US and ASEAN, Duterte replied with: “No, no.”

During the interview, the president recalled the time when Obama criticized him and his campaign against illegal drugs.

“One time when I was being criticized by Obama in a press conference, he should have realized that I’m also the head of a sovereign state. He should have criticized me in the proper venue,” he said, referring to a September 2016 press conference where Obama urged Duterte to conduct his campaign “the right way.”

The president said Obama’s move to castigate him in a press briefing got him “so mad” and prompted him to curse the former president.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the chief executive is “still pondering” on whether he would accept Trump’s invitation as he is mindful of the possibility of getting barred from entering the US since he doesn’t have a visa, and making some American senators “unhappy” seeing him there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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