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Regional Updates (01/04/21)

9 Sulu cops to face murder charges over shooting of 4 soldiers

PROSECUTORS have been directed to immediately file the resolution finding probable cause to charge nine policemen for murder and planting of evidence over the killing of four soldiers in Jolo, Sulu in June last year. Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said he ordered Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento to immediately file the information with the court, and secure arrest warrants against the nine cops. “I understand that the accused police officers have been dismissed from the service, so the court should immediately obtain jurisdiction over their person, lest they be able to flee,” he told reporters via Viber message on Monday. The prosecutors, in a statement, said the victims were “unarmed, unsuspecting and were not in the position to defend themselves when they were shot.” They also said a firearm was planted near the left hand” of one of the victims who was right-handed. On the other hand, the prosecutors dismissed the charge of neglect of duty under Executive Order (EO) No. 226 against the three superiors of the policemen. It said that under the EO, violators “shall be held administratively accountable,” which means the case does not fall under the Department of Justice’s jurisdiction. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Makati aims for 100% coverage as it allocates P1B for COVID-19 vaccines

THE MAKATI City government has allocated P1 billion to buy coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, which will be given to residents for free. “This is our number one priority for 2021. I want each and every Makatizen to receive both doses of the coronavirus vaccine for free to protect them and their families against the virus,” Makati Mayor Abigail Binay-Campos said in a statement on Monday. Ms. Binay said she will ask the city council to pass a supplemental budget for the vaccination program after the national task force on COVID-19 gives its go signal. The local government is currently coordinating with Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., designated vaccine czar, for the vaccine purchase and distribution. “We’ve seen the damage it can do both to human lives and our economy… we will do whatever it takes to protect our residents, employees, and our business community,” the mayor said. “We will exhaust all means to get the much-needed vaccines early and have all Makatizens vaccinated. The city will also assist companies and businesses that would like to buy vaccines for their employees and workers. We are aiming for 100 percent vaccination in Makati,” she added. The city government is preparing an online registration system for the inoculation. Several other local government units (LGUs) have taken a similar initiative of planning for a localized vaccination program.

House probe sought on death of 9 indigenous group members

A RESOLUTION seeking to investigate the killings of nine members of indigenous peoples under the group Tumandok and the arrest of 17 others in synchronized police operations in the hinterlands of Panay Island on Dec. 30 has been filed in the House of Representatives. Members of the six-man Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 1149, which calls on the lower chamber to conduct a probe on the incident, which involved a simultaneous serving of search warrants against suspected communist rebels in several Panay provinces. Tumandok is an alliance of indigenous communities in Tapaz and Jamindan towns in Capiz, and Calinog in Iloilo. The organization has been known for resisting “destructive” development projects, the lawmakers said. Among those killed was Roy Giganto, a former village chief and an incumbent barangay councilor. The lawmakers said those killed in the operations were well-known indigenous leaders in their respective barangays and were consistent in opposing militarization and rights violations in their communities. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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