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Although thirty two in number, other government troopers suffered only wounds with no death reported, in the process killing one Abu Sayyaf bandit, and believed to have suffered heavy casualties as bloodstains were seen along their withdrawal path.  This comes amid continued focused military operations in a bid to rescue the hostages in Sulu on Monday, 3 April, Major General Carlito Galvez, Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief, said.

The clash broke out around 9:30 a.m., Sunday, April 2 in the village of Upper Laus, Talipao, Sulu. Galvez said the clash ensued as the troops from the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion stumbled on a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits while checking an intelligence report and to possibly rescue the Vietnamese kidnap victims in the village of Upper Laus, Talipao.

He said the troops have recovered the cadaver of a slain bandit and it is believed to an Abu Sayyaf Group leader.

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City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said if fresh moves to defer the barangay elections push through, she favors the extension of incumbent village officials’ in office on hold-over capacity until their successors are duly elected. Salazar said the incumbents have the mandate as they were duly elected by the people and should continue serving until the next election. Salazar said as far as the city is concerned, except for some, all the elected village executives are performing their functions as mandated by the Local Government Code and the Constitution.

Of the total 98 village chairs, only two are in the list involved in drugs, one is incarcerated while the other is facing charges for being a suspected drug coddler. Salazar added that only two councilmen are in the list.

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Investigating Prosecutor Eva Aireen N. Monteza, in a penned resolution said that under Section 2203 of the Tariff and Customs Code, the Police are not clothed with authority to effect seizure of used clothing or ukay ukay, without a written authority from the Bureau of Customs.

Central Police Station Commander Supt Ariel Huesca, on the other hand, defended his recent seizure of used clothing citing the implementation of Republic Act 4653 mandated of the police.

Huesca insisted the Police have the right to seize used clothings, an item considered as prohibited under RA 4653, an Act to Safeguard the Health of the People and Maintain the Dignity of the Nation by declaring as a National Policy to Prohibit the Commercial Importation of Textile Articles commonly known as “used clothing and rags.”

He said that the role of the Bureau of Customs is to act as witness during the disposal of prohibited items and impose taxes on imported items under Customs and Tariff laws.

“But in this case, for used clothes hindi pwede.  Bureau of Customs cannot impose taxes on these items,” said Huesca.

He said that the law does not provide any provision that police officers are not allowed to enforce the law, referring to RA 4653.

He said that the used clothing that he was able to seize should even be burned in the presence of the general audit office and other concerned agencies.

Huesca gave this reaction in relation to above-cited City Prosecutor’s Office decision.

Huesca said that he will send an official communication to the Department of Justice stating that the law (Republic Act 4653) does not provide for only the Customs office to enforce the law.

Bravo! Very well said.

On two points, SS full agrees with Chief Huesca.

First, even without verifying, it can be very well be deduced, the Huesca-cited RA is clearly a later edict, for ukay-ukay came into existence only in the mid-70’s; whereas the Monteza held law came much much earlier. In inconsistent mandates, the latter one prevails in that it would definitely repeal the aged one and render the latter  passé.

Second, Section 2203 of the Tariff and Customs Code - the one  Monteza cited - makes commercial importation of used clothes, commonly known as “ukay ukay a  crime. Ergo, under the dictum, of a “Citizen’s Arrest,” per simple and practical analysis, even a non-policeman may effect arrests and seizure of illegal under. Under same principle Safely stated, a citizen may effect an arrest - before, during and After the commission of a crime. The possession, shipment and transport of illegal items is a crime. Thus, if a plain citizen may effect an arrest, more so with the Police, more particularly with he existence of  RA 4653.

Just thinking aloud in support of a hardworking and efficient young police officer.

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Pres. Duterte sounds positive in expressing optimism that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Isnilon Hapilon has finally been neutralized during surgical military airstrikes in the south.

The President said they have not heard about any movement of Hapilon since his house was bombed two months ago, under his order.

He described Hapilon as the “anointed” leader of the Islamic State in the country. Haling originally from Jolo, Hapilon transferred to Central Mindanao on ISIS orders.

To prevent any spillover of ASG attacks, Duterte authorized the troops to use all resources and weapons to neutralize Hapilon and his men.

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Entering the Fourth Round of Peace Talks Monday, the ceasefire committees of the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) immediately plunged into negotiations for a bilateral ceasefire agreement (BCA), with the chairpersons of both peace panels expressing confidence that a more lasting truce could be at-hand.

The GRP, per Duterte’s directive, is proposing for a BCA that will be accompanied by assurances from the NDF that Communist rebels will stop collecting revolutionary tax, free prisoners, not to claim any part of the Philippines as their territory, and put a stop to all hostile actions like kidnappings, burning of private and public assets, and armed attacks.

Open discussions on the GRP proposal is seen to start tomorrow, said GRP peace panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III, who also stressed that the conditions set by the President were “not for the peace talks, but only for the BCA.”

Believing the four conditions set by Duterte may appear too onerous for the Communist side to agree to, Bello said these have actually been discussed before and that the NDF panel was  “open to the idea.”

On the NDF side, peace panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili said their proposal would consist of declarations of unilateral ceasefire by each party, with these orders being merged together to form a BCA.

Agcaoili contended that the NDF proposal had proven its viability since the unilateral ceasefires imposed by both sides in August 2016 had held with nary a report of any armed hostility.

“The rules of engagement were clear, there were no armed hostilities,” he maintained.

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Although acknowledged as one of the closest allies of Pres. Duterte, Ismael Sueno was dismissed as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), declaring loss of trust and confidence.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, confirmed that the President made the announcement at the end of the 14th Cabinet Meeting Monday (April 3) night.

Abella said that Sueno’s dismissal serves as a warning to the other members of the Cabinet that Duterte will not tolerate any “questionable or legally untenable decisions by any member of the Cabinet.”

The Palace official recognized Sueno’s role in convincing Duterte to run for President but added that this does not give him a free pass.

To the knowledge of SS, Sueno is one of two signatories on the Identification Card of the Davao-originated MRRD-NECC or the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee.

The MRRD-NECC spearheaded the recent mammoth Duterte-favored Prayer Vigil Night at the Quirino Grandstand that dwarfed  Feb. 25 Martial Law Anniversary, led by the yellows.

Cause for the dismissal must have been the accusation of corruption by three DILG undersecretaries - John Castriciones for operations, Jesus Hinlo for public safety, and Emilie Padilla, for legislative liaison and special concerns.

Among the corruption allegations against Sueno were his supposed abuse of power, questionable wealth, the alleged acquisition of a new hotel, his grandson’s alleged involvement in illegal gambling, and a supposedly anomalous fire truck deal with the Austrian government.

As of writing time, reports say, that the DILG undersecretaries were pushing for the appointment of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Guiling Mamondiong as Sueno’s replacement.

Guiling Mamondiong? He is the second of the two signatories in the MRRD-NECC ID cards. Must clearly be another close Duterte ally.

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Pres. Duterte threatened Monday to unleash new attack aircraft and the "full power of the state" against communist rebels if a new round of peace talks fails, and insisted they accept the conditions he set, including a halt to extortion and to territorial claims.

He accused the guerrillas of undermining the talks and said the 48-year conflict - one of Asia's longest-running rebellions - may continue if the rebels don't accept his conditions. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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