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The Armed Forces of the Philippines is firmly resolved to defeat the New People’s Army (NPA), vowing to cripple its military capability and infrastructure as well as its will to fight.
Marine Colonel Edgardo Arevalo, chief of the AFP-Public Affairs Office (AFP-PAO), admitted defeating the enemy won’t be an easy task, particularly if they hold on to communities to survive, explaining, it’s not easy to fight one’s own people. His statement came following the order of President Duterte of an all-out war against the NPAs.
“But for all intents and purposes, if we are to attain a lasting peace, if we are to end this particular war that we have been fighting for more than four decades now then we have to defeat them and their capabilities and all other aspects of,” Arevalo went on, adding “By all-out,… we do not mean we are going to be indiscriminate in our conduct of operations,” Arevalo said. “We will be deliberate, focused, and surgical with our operations, he added, echoing the words yesterday of APP Chief of Staff, Gen. Eduardo Año  
And he offered, the military has set no timeline in defeating the enemy, nor was there any given by the President.
As this developed, National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili displayed defiance, brushing aside President Duterte’s order for an all-out war against communist rebels, insolently saying “we are used to these threats.”
In a statement obtained by The Manila Bulletin yesterday, Agcaoili said it was not the first time that a president had ordered such an offensive against the insurgency group, which has been in conflict with the government for 78 years.
“(Former) President Cory Aquino did it in 1987 after the Mendiola massacre. (Former President Joseph) Estrada did it, too, after signing the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement). We are used to these threats,” he said.
Agcaoili, who is in Utrecht, The Netherlands, also acknowledged receiving through e-mail the formal letter of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, informing the NDF about the termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
“We intend to acknowledge it today (Wednesday) to enable the 30-day grace period to run,” he said.
Agcaoili pointed out that he found it “odd” that Dureza’s letter only informed the NDF peace panel about the “termination of the JASIG and not the peace negotiations,” but added, the Dureza notice, however, will suffice in effectively terminating the peace negotiations,” he said.
The acknowledgment effectively closes both the doors of the Philippine government (GRP) and the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA (CPP-NPA), on what was the most successful round of talks spanning six presidents since the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
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Meant to prove they have the moral authority to lead the campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted a surprise drug test on 548 of its personnel.  PDEA Director General Isidro S. Lapeña was the first to undergo the test which was administered by the PDEA Laboratory Service.
The result: all tested negative of illegal drugs.
A congratulatory message, if the tests were not rigged - conducted at it was by its own facility and personnel – is in order.
The result of the drug test brought a ray of hope to the campaign against illegal drugs after President Duterte has dissolved the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) of the Philippine National Police, as well as of all others throughout the country after some of its operatives used the campaign to extortion indulge in extortion activities on the guise of carrying out a legitimate operation against illegal drugs.
In lieu thereof, the President designated the PDEA to lead the war on illegal drugs with a limited support from the Armed Forces. 
Per arrests effected earlier, the agency revealed that more unscrupulous elected officials, government employees and law enforcers are involved in the illegal drug trade
PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said the agency’s figures from January 1 to December 31, 2016 revealed that 219 government officials - 88 elected officials, 95 government employees and 36 law enforcers were arrested for drug-related offenses nationwide.
Of the arrested 88 elected officials, Carreon said two were municipal councilors, while majority were either barangay chairmen or barangay councilmen.
Among the law enforcers, a Lieutenant Colonel was the highest official to be arrested.
Six months into the government’s war on drugs, PDEA and other law enforcement agencies saw the arrests 135 public officials - 55 of them elected officials, 64 government employees and 16 law enforcers, compared to the 84 arrested during the first semester of 2016, a 60.7 percent increase.
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President Duterte will keep three left-leaning cabinet members despite the stalemate in the peace process with the local Communist group.
The President remained “civil” with Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) head Liza Maza during the Cabinet meeting last Tuesday, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“The President chose them as his alter egos because he believes in their capacity to serve and deliver sustainable basic social services to the Filipino people. They all enjoy the President’s trust and confidence,” Spokesma Abella said.
He added the Palace is “pleased” to hear that three secretaries will also stay in the Cabinet despite scrapping of peace talks with the local communist rebels.
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WS almost always agrees with positions taken by Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. But, sorry not on the hereunder point, we are at odds.
Lacson said he supports President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive to send erring cops to areas in Mindanao where they would stay for two years, reasoning, the main objective there is to uproot them from their areas of so-called influence.
Uprooted “from their areas of so-called influence” and planted in Basilan?
Silly. Pigs accustomed to “snorkel” in mud, will always return their ways.
But that cops tarnishing the image of the PNP deserve to be publicly shamed, as he added, is okay. But uprooting and re-planting them elsewhere is a simple vicious cycle.
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Moves in congress come in differing ways among ruling party members and allies.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III says he is ready to toe the line as head of the ruling administration party to push for the reimposition of the death penalty in the Senate once the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) comes up with a clear position on death penalty.
On the other hand, Rep. Pantaeon Alvarez, as House Speaker, says otherwise and has even started wielding his powers as its head, kicking out Wednesday deputy speakers who are opposed to the death penalty bill, including former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The other one against the death penalty is Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur.
Alvarez shrugged the warning of Rep. Jose Atienza of Buhay party-list that the House leader will eventually lose the support of his allies if he continues to kick out deputy speakers who are against the death penalty, an said his decision was final..
Amid all these, rumors in Congress are rife that Arroyo is set to replace Alvarez as House speaker. Although not under the ruling PDP-Laban party, Arroyo and other administration-allied lawmakers are part of the so-called super majority coalition. And the super majority accounts for nearly the entire 294-member House of Representatives.
This is getting to be complicated between Alvarez and Pimentel. Alvarez speaks as house leader, Pimentel as the president of the country’s ruling political party PDP-Laban. As  to which side will prevail remains a enigmatic.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) rule death penalty reimpoisition has no hindrance, saying a constitutional provision allowing it supersedes the government’s international commitments, an issue raised by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon that halted a while discussions of the matter on the committee level.
And the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines strengthened its ground against the move, this time urging the faithful to go to the streets on Feb. 18, Saturday - specifically at Rizal Park - to demonstrate rejection of government’s attempt to restore the death penalty in the country.




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