New AFP chief to push for ‘community dialogues’ to address security threats
NEWLY-APPOINTED Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff Lieutenant Benjamin R. Madrigal said incidents like the Marawi Siege and the continued communist insurgency can be only addressed through community dialogues.
“Kailangan ng (We need) community dialogues. Ang nangyari kasi sa Marawi, ‘yung kakulangan siguro ng koordinasyon, pag-uusap para lalo magkaroon ng situation awareness sa area (What happened in Marawi was a lack of coordination and dialogue to have more situation awareness in the area,” said Mr. Madrigal in a chance interview with reporters on Tuesday night, Dec. 11.
During the change of command ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo, Mr. Madrigal said the AFP under his leadership will keep on “diminishing armed peace spoilers.”
“We will also keep up the pace to diminish the existence of terrorist cells and other armed peace spoilers so we can protect our people and insulate our communities from their clout of fear through our preventing and countering violent extremism initiatives with the support of other concerned agencies and the Muslim community. We cannot let another Marawi-like threat to happen again,” he said in his remarks.
Also on Tuesday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said the government is now shifting to a civilian-led approach in addressing communism in the country.
Mr. Duterte has just signed Executive Order No. 70, which seeks to strengthen localized peace processes with a “whole-of-nation” strategy.
Mr. Madrigal, who was a former chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, considered as one of the remaining strongholds of the communists movement, attested to the effectiveness of local peace talks in his former area.
“Kahit na-install ‘yung peace talk sa national level, dito sa baba, tuloy pa rin ang pagkausap natin sa mga kapatid natin na gusto bumaba (Even if the peace talks at the national level was stalled, the dialogues continued with those on the battleground who wanted to surrender),” Mr. Madrigal told reporters.
On the other hand, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Maria C. Sison said the executive order will only “weaponize the civil bureaucracy” against the communist rebels.
“EO 70 does not make the armed counter-revolution civillian-centric. But it seeks to weaponize the civil bureaucracy for the armed counterrevolution or military suppression of the revolutionary government and movement of the people,” said the exiled Mr. Sison in a statement on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Mr. Sison added, “It limits the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to the framework of military suppression and psywar use of fake surrenders and fake encounters, misrepresented as ‘localized peace talks’. The OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) is now emphatically militarized with the appointment of a rabid anti-communist general as secretary.”
Former AFP chief Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., whom Mr. Madrigal replaced, has been appointed to lead the OPAPP starting next week. The announcement was made by the President at the turnover ceremony. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras
2 doctors added in Dengvaxia cases ordered to submit counter affidavits
THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) panel of prosecutors have ordered Dr. Raymundo W. Lo, deputy executive director for Professional Services at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and another doctor who are allegedly linked into the purchase of Dengvaxia vaccines.
The two were summoned to appear before the panel on Dec. 14, where they will be furnished copies of the complaints, supporting documents and evidence, and were given a Dec. 28 deadline for their respective counter-affidavits, witness affidavits, and other supporting documents.
Last Dec. 3, the families of eight children who allegedly died due to Dengvaxia inoculation, through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), asked the (DoJ) panel led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan F. Dacanay to include Mr. Lo and Dr. Sonia B. Gonzales in the complaints for purchasing the anti-dengue vaccine even before the Food and Drug Administration issued a Certificate of Product Registration.
The cases against the doctors would involve reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violation of the Anti-Torture Act over the alleged deaths linked to Dengvaxia.
Former Health secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin and 36 others are facing 29 charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violations of the Anti-Torture Act as well as the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
Included in the 29 complaints are officials of Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., distributor Zuellig Pharma Corporation and other government officials involved in the implementation of the Dengvaxia vaccination.
Ms. Garin previously asked the prosecution to admit the affidavit of Mr. Lo, which questions the credibility of the findings of PAO’s forensic team and the team’s head, Dr. Erwin P. Erfe.
The prosecution denied the motion of Ms. Garin due to late submission.
The PAO has claimed that 102 children vaccinated with Dengvaxia have already died. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas