31 January 2015

President Aquino vows continuing support to families of 44 slain SAF commandos
President Aquino spent more than 12 hours Friday talking with the families of the 44 slain Special Action Force commandos discussing how the government could assist them after the deaths of their loved ones, a Palace official said.

In a radio interview Saturday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President asked the families about their needs and the dreams of the dead policemen for their relatives.

Most of the SAF men wanted their families to have decent lives, send their children to college, and help their parents by giving them livelihood, Coloma told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

“Sa mga susunod na araw at linggo makikipag-ugnayan ang iba’t ibang kagawaran at ahensya ng pamahalaan upang maihatid sa kanila ang tulong at kalinga sa lahat ng aspetong nabanggit,” he said in the radio interview.

“Para sa hinahangad na tulong pang-hanapbuhay, permanenteng empleyo ang igagawad at tutulungan din sila sa aspeto ng ibayong pagsasanay at pagpapahusay ng skill set.”

To provide them a source of living, Coloma said the government will provide assistance to those engaged in farming, fisheries, and trade.

The government will also help the SAF men’s children go to school even until college by extending financial grants and counseling, he added.

“Sa kabuuan, nagkaroon ng unawaan ang mga pamilya at ang Pangulo hinggil sa pangangailangan na maging matatag sila para mabigyan ng buong kahulugan ang kabayanihan ng kanilang mga anak, asawa, o kapatid,” he said.

After meeting the families of the slain commandos, the President also talked with the members of the SAF around 12 midnight at their headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa.

The President thanked them for their bravery and sacrifices, gave awards to those who fiercely fought in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last week.

The January 25 raid targeted Zulkipli Bin Hir, alias Abu Marwan, a Malaysian bomb maker reported to be hiding in Maguindanao. US authorities had offered a $6-million bounty for his arrest.

Another local terrorist, Abdulbasit Usman, was also the target of Sunday’s assault. He is still at large and the President vowed Friday that his administration will exert all efforts to capture or neutralize him.

The attack also led to the killing of 44 SAF commandos after forces from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters joined the fighting.

President Aquino arrived at Camp Bagong Diwa Friday morning to lead the national day of mourning for the fallen SAF commandos. He also posthumously awarded the policemen with the Medal of Valor that were given to their families. PND (as)

Nation should not lose focus on attaining Mindanao peace, says official
The country should remain focused in achieving a long and lasting peace in Mindanao and should not allow emotions to rule in overcoming challenges confronting the country today especially after the deaths on more than 40 police commandos in Maguindanao last week, a Palace official said.

This is in the midsts of reports that 43 administration allies are mulling to withdraw their support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), seen as the hope to bringing stability to Mindanao.

In a radio interview over dzRB by Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said this issue was raised by President Aquino during his address to the nation Wednesday.

“Ipinaalala ng Pangulo ang kahagalahan na matanto natin ‘yung kung bakit kinakailangan nating patuloy na magtrabaho tungo sa pagkamit ng pangmatagalang kapayapaan,” Coloma said in the radio interview.

The country has witnessed decades of war in Mindanao, Coloma said, noting the conflict has not helped the region in attaining stability and instead had brought misery and despair to the people.

“Kaya dapat nating alalahanin ang mga mahahalagang leksyon na natutunan na noong nakaraan at tanungin ang ating mga sarili kung paano ba ang pinakamainam na landas tungo sa kinabukasang mas maaliwalas,” he said.

Although there are those voicing their doubts on the ongoing peace process, Coloma said there are other leaders who echoed their support to the peace talks.

Among them include Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, among others.

Asked if the Palace plans to talk to its congressional allies to rally support for the BBL, Coloma there is no such plan at this time adding however that the executive branch is ready to reach out to its supporters in Congress.

Asked to comment on the possible restiveness in the police force as a result of the Maguindanao incident, Coloma said police personnel are free to voice their sentiments in a constructive way.

But everyone must not be swayed by their emotions and should not forget the real picture of the roadblocks that the country is facing, he said.

The true concerns he said is effectively fighting terrorism and at the same time working to achieve enduring peace in Mindanao. PND (as)

Government says stronger institutions mean stricter adherence to human rights
The Philippine government continues to work to have stronger institutions by strengthening the Justice system, the police and the military for them to observe human rights, according to a Palace official.

In the Human Rights Watch 2015, it indicated that the Philippine government’s overall record in addressing serious human rights violations remains poor despite some major initiatives last year.

As the report acknowledges the human rights record in the country, it enticed President Aquino to take decisive actions against torture and extrajudicial killings.

“Patuloy na sinisikap ng ating pamahalaan na mapalakas ang ating mga pampublikong institusyon, kabilang na diyan ang ating criminal justice system, ang ating militar at kapulisan para sila ay maging balwarte ng pagtatanghal sa mga karapatang pantao,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a radio interview Saturday.

Coloma told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan that one good example was the creation of the Aquino-Diokno Shrine for Human Rights in Nueva Ecija.

The shrine in Fort Magsaysay used to be a solitary confinement facility for former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and Jose Diokno, major figures who fought the martial law.

“Kaya hindi naman po masasabi na sa daloy ng panahon ay hindi nagkaroon ng improvement sa ating human rights profile at pagpapalakas po ng mga institusyon na magtataguyod niyan ang pangunahing layunin ng ating bansa,” he said.

In the 656-page world report, its 25th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.

Human Rights Watch urges governments to recognize that human rights offer an effective moral guide in turbulent times, and that violating rights can spark or aggravate serious security challenges.

Human Rights Watch acknowledged the Aquino administration’s implementation of “Justice Zones” that accelerate court proceedings.

The arrest of Retired General Jovito Palparan, the suspect in several cases of extrajudicial killings in the country, was also cited as an achievement in the report. PND (as)