Malacañang said on Saturday, March 24, that all the necessary security measures are in place to ensure a peaceful and solemn observance of Holy Week. “There is no specific threat monitored for the Holy Week but the AFP will not put its guard down. We will continue to conduct appropriate security measures where needed to safeguard vulnerable communities,” the AFP said in a statement on the eve of Palm Sunday, which ushers in Holy Week. The military urged the public to be on full alert during the holidays to be able to “detect, deter, and frustrate any more by criminals and terrorists.” As of noontime Saturday, March 24, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) monitored a total of 82,161 outbound passengers the country’s ports, harbors and piers and it activated its Passengers Assistance Centers (PAC) on Friday in preparation for the nationwide in observance of Holy Week. In a press briefing on Thursday, March 22, PCG chief Rear Admiral Elson Hermogino said pre-departure inspections to ensure safety and security of commuters traveling during the Holy Week will be done while Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) personnel will board ships for the inspection of passengers.
Barely a week before the Holy Week break, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa made a surprise inspection and ordered a random drug test Friday on personnel of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) headquarters in Camp Karingal. Dela Rosa said the suprise inspection was to ensure that all QCPD personnel are accounted for. The Chief PNP also called the attention of those policemen who had no firearm, citing the importance of the use of firearms especially when confronted by criminals. “Whether you like it or not, you are a policeman 24/7. You are policemen every minute of the day and every hour of the day. So you should not be lazy in carrying a firearm. You must be ready to respond to any emergency,” he added. A total of 668 underwent the random drug test facilitated by the QCPD Crime Laboratory. The District Personnel and Human Resource Development Division (DPHRDD) said that out of the 5,157 uniformed and non-uniformed personnel, 4, 829 personnel attended the accounting; and 285 are on leave, undergoing schooling, suspended/sick, AWOL, detained and detailed to other PNP units.
President Rodrigo Duterte told a news conference late on Friday that the Philippines will continue talks with China over disputed South China Sea territories. He also stressed the Philippines’ sovereign rights over Benham Rise, a vast offshore frontier off his country’s northeast. Duterte said he has no intention of going into war over territorial feuds but will order the navy to fire if other countries extract resources from waters within his country’s exclusive economic zone.
Two children died in a fire in Bacoor, Cavite yesterday. The bodies of a girl identified only as Anna Mae and her brother Armando were found in the bedroom of their house in Barangay San Nicolas 2.Police said the fire started at around 1 a.m. and was declared out after more than an hour. Arson investigators said an unattended candle caused the fire. It was not immediately known if the parents of the children were at their home during the incident.
The Government reminded protesting students of the University of the Philippines (UP), who demonstrated against Duterte’s cha-cha, his martial law in Mindanao and his attacks to press freedom during the National Day of Walkout Against Tyranny and Dictatorship on Thursday, to waste taxpayers’ money by walking out of their classes. Youth Movement aims to resist the continuing attempts to undermine, pressure or otherwise render ineffective the courts, Congress, Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Human Rights, working press, political opposition and ordinary citizens critical of government policies and programs. Duterte on Thursday threatened to replace protesting UP students with those from the Lumad communities in Mindanao. “If you don’t want to go to school, get out of there because I will bring [indigenous] students who are bright and put them there. A lot of Filipinos want to have an excellent education”, Duterte said.
“The Government of Malaysia reiterates its position that Malaysia does not recognise and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah”, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia YB Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman on Wednesday said in a press statement. This is the answer to the Philipino Senate President Aquilino Pimentel claim to inclusing of Sabah in the Philippine territory as part of the country’s shift to a federal system of government. Under Pimentel’s proposal for a new federal government, as reported by ANC, the Philippines will be divided into 12 federal states: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Minparom, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro. Sabah could be the 13th federal state while Metro Manila would be the “federal capital”. The Sulu sultanate used to rule over parts of southern Philippines and Sabah. In 1963, the British government transferred Sabah to the Federation of Malaysia, but the Philippines claims that Sabah was only leased, not ceded, to the British North Borneo Co. Malaysia, however, maintains that the international community has been recognizing Sabah as part of its territory since the formation of the federation in 1963. “Sabah is recognised by the United Nations and the international community as part of Malaysia since the formation of the Federation on 16 September 1963”, Anifah said. “Therefore, statements such as these will only expose the ignorance of history and international law of those who make them, as well as potentially harming the excellent bilateral relations which Malaysia and the Philippines currently enjoy”, he added.