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'POPS' for Zambo's security


So it’s true, the separatist rebels are utilizing children in their war atrocities as couriers and support staff. This was confirmed when the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) released Sunday about 50 children who worked for their fathers and relative- members of their Armed Forces. The children were turned over on Sunday to representatives of the government, United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and MILF in Maguindanao province. MILF Vice Chairman Gadzali Jaafar, who represented MILF Chairman Al Hadj Murad Ibrahim, said the turnover was done to show the MILF's sincerity in supporting the peace process

Presidential Peace Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza, on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, lauded the move, saying "the government is happy that the endeavor has finally

come to fruition.

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The City Peace and Order Council has approved the “Pops” or the Peace and Order and Public Safety plan for 2017-2019 of Zamboanga City on Sunday. Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the CPOC created a technical working group that worked on the plan which covers the review of the city’s strategic directions, peace and order public safety situation, critical policies, programs, projects, services and activities, funding requirement as well as implementation arrangements and actual plan implementation. Salazar, who chairs the CPOC, said Pops is the product of collaborative efforts of all sectors, specifically the police and military, and other law enforcement units and involves crime prevention programs consistent with the needs of the villages.

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Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian wants the Department of Justice to file perjury charges against SP03 Arthur Lascañas, a retired Davao City policeman for lying under oath before the Senate Justice Committee that investigated the alleged extra judicial killings in Davao City,

In his October 3, 2016 testimony, Lascañas wearing a police uniform denied the existence of the Davao Death Squad (DDS), which is accused of being behind the extrajudicial killings in Davao City.

Yesterday, Lascañas was again at the Senate and this time confessed to being part of the DDS which he now says exists and owned up to the killing of persons, including his two brothers – Cecilio and Fernando – allegedly because of his “blind loyalty” to then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who he claimed ordered the killings.

For each hit job, Lascañas said, he was paid from P20,000 to P100,000.

Lascañas was flanked by Duterte critic, Sen. Antonio F. Trillanes IV and lawyers Jose Manuel Diokno, Arno Sanidad, and Alexander Padilla, members of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) when he faced the media to reverse himself.

Other developments related to the matter propped soon after. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III downplayed Lascañas revelations about the President’s alleged links to the Davao Death Squad (DDS). The claims, he said, were still far from the truth.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar maintained the President has already been cleared from alleged involvement in the DDS, adding the latest character assassination was part of “vicious politics.”

And citing sources Andanar said he received reports that as much as $1,000 circulated at the Senate press conference which incurred the ire of the Senate media.

Trillanes, in a statement, denied Andanar’s allegations that the $1,000-offer to reporters came from him.

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Three counts of illegal drug trading filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Sen. Leila de Lima will be tried on three separate branches of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The judges have 10 days to determine probable cause to issue arrest warrants for the senator, who has been accused of protecting and profiting from the illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was justice secretary.

The cases were based on the complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), former NBI Deputy Directors Reynaldo O. Esmeralda and Ruel M. Lasala, inmate Jaybee Sebastian and the NBI.

The complaints were built upon testimonies gathered from the House of Representatives’ inquiry last year into alleged drug proliferation in the NBP.

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House leaders further watered down House Bill 4727, proposing revive the death penalty. From 20 heinous crimes, it is now down to only three that are subject to capital punishment. Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas announced the tri-crimes as treason, plunder, and some illegal drug-related crimes. The decision is the result of a majority members-only caucus before the start of the day’s session.

And Fariñas explained why the three crimes were chosen. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy is against the state and that it is a heinous crime. As for plunder, he appeared to follow the lead of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who said last week he is determined to make that crime death penalty-worthy. And on drug related cases, illegal drug manufacturing, trading and financing will qualify for capital punishment. Offenses for possession of the illegal substance was removed.

Two weeks ago, the Alvarez, who did not attend the caucus made his first concession on the contentious measure that the crimes in the bill will carry an optional punishment of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment), instead of outright death.

This move seemingly helped sway fence sitters and even anti-death penalty solons to consider voting “yes” to the bill.

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Vice Pres. Leni Robredo has joined the band calling the de Lima prosecution as alleged political vengeance.

Robredo said, “… this appears to be political persecution… anyone suspected to have committed a wrongdoing should be investigated through the “correct process If this (is how things are done), then it is like setting aside the rule of law,” She added, anyone suspected to have committed a wrongdoing should be investigated through the “correct process.”

“But if there has been a judgment already made even without a case yet, then where is our assurance that she (de Lima) will be afforded the due process of the law?” said Robredo, a human rights lawyer before joining politics.

My, my, my, does anyone see a perceived judgment already handed down? WS does not. You?

Dinagat Rep. Kaka Bag-ao also threw her support behind De Lima, who was the justice secretary under the Aquino administration, urging the public to look at the process applied by the Department of Justice (DOJ) when it alleged that De Lima was on top of drug trafficking at the national penitentiary.

Bag-ao said that it was clear that the motive against De Lima was “political,” noting that the government witnesses - convicted felons - were devoid of integrity and that the charges were filed before a regional trial court, and not the anti-graft court, Sandiganbayan.

“If they are sincere in pursuing justice, they should have gone to the right court, the Sandiganbayan.

And on that argument, Solicitor General Jose Calida has a ready answer, contending, the DOJ has the authority to “investigate and file drug charges” against De Lima.

Citing the Supreme Court’s ruling in the coup charges against Sen. Gringo Honasan in connection with the 2004 Oakwood mutiny, he said the Administrative Code authorized the DOJ “to investigate the commission of crimes, prosecute offenders and administer the probation and correction system.”

“The power of the Ombudsman to investigate the illegal activities of public officials, including Senator De Lima, is concurrent with the power of other government agencies, such as the DOJ,” Calida said in a statement. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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