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Regional Updates (01/12/21)

Sulu lockdown sets back arrest warrant issuance vs cops in Sulu shooting

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra cited the coronavirus-related lockdown in Sulu for the delayed issuance of arrest warrants against the nine police officers charged for the killing of four soldiers in the province’s capital Jolo on June 29 last year. “The court was supposed to issue the warrants of arrest thereafter, but apparently failed to do so because of the current lockdown in Sulu,” he told reporters Tuesday via Viber. Mr. Guevarra said he instructed the prosecutors to file an urgent motion to the court for the issuance of a hold-departure order against the accused. “We hope that the nine accused will voluntarily turn themselves in when such warrants are eventually released by the court,” he said. “Otherwise, law enforcement agents will look for them and take them into custody,” he added. The Philippine National Police (PNP) released the nine cops last week after their dismissal from the service based on administrative charges. The military has expressed disappointment over the PNP’s move. The four soldiers were on an intelligence operation against suspected suicide bombers when they were shot and killed by the cops. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

New MMDA chair to prioritize road, mass transport improvements

THE newly-appointed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair is prioritizing the improvement of roads and mass transport to ease traffic congestion in the capital. MMDA Chairperson Benhur S. Abalos, Jr., who was sworn into office Monday, said he will build up on existing programs as well as propose new solutions such as the construction of elevated bus ramps at the U-turn slot segments along the main thoroughfare EDSA. “There will be continuity here. I promise you that,” he said at a televised press briefing Tuesday. Mr. Abalos said the agency is now focused on improving the vehicular flow along bus lanes. The new MMDA head is also planning to move the lane for motorcycles to the right side of the road and designate bike lanes once the traffic flow improves. Mr. Abalos, a former mayor of one of the Metro Manila cities, said he also wants to see a greener metro by having more plants in public spaces. The latest report by global database Numbeo showed the Philippines among the countries with the worst traffic in the world. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

New laboratory in Tuguegarao to help protect crops from diseases

A zoonotic disease diagnostic laboratory in Tuguegarao City has been completed, seen as a boost to crop protection in the Cagayan Valley Region. The project is a joint United States-Philippine project through the US Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). “Through the enhancement of testing capability and biosafety and biosecurity training, this laboratory will be on the frontline in efforts to protect farmers and their crops from the harmful effects of naturally occurring pathogens in the Cagayan Valley,” the US Embassy said in a statement on Tuesday. The facility, located at the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, will help in detecting and diagnosing pathogens and zoonotic diseases that may potentially be dangerous to the agriculture industry. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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