AFP Conducts Counter-Terrorism Simulation Exercise in Samal Island

Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte – Joint forces of Eastern Mindanao Command and other law enforcement agencies conduct Simulation Exercise on Counter Terrorism at Brgy Peñaplata, Brgy San Remegio and Kaputian District, all of Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte around 9:00AM, Thursday, October 24, 2019. 


The different units involved were Joint Task Force (JTF) Haribon, Task Force (TF) Samal, TF Davao, Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), Joint Special Operations Unit 2 (JSOU2), Naval Special Operations Unit 7 (NAVSOU7), Tactical Operations Wing Eastern Mindanao (TOWEM), 5th Civil Relations Group (5CRG), Philippine National Police Maritime, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and PNP IGACOS. 


Three terrorism scenarios happened at three different barangays. The first scenario began when a terrorist group named Kidnap For Ransom Group (KFRG) checked-in at RMPC Resort, Peñaplata where the resort manager reported the presence of suspicious looking people in their resort to the police and TF Samal. Once verified, the joint forces raided the resort and apprehended two KFRG members. 


Second scenario started upon the interview of apprehended KFRG members that divulge the kidnapping plot to tourist and the presence of more or less 10 other KFRG members at Brgy San Remegio, Kaputian District which was raided by forces of JSOU2 and NAVSOU7. Further, there was a firefight that resulted to five KLG dead, four M16 rifles, three M14 rifles with bandoliers and one KFRG captured. 


And the last scenario was initiated after the revelation of the captured KFRG that their commander and his cohorts are proceeding to Talikud Island where two high-speed motorized boats are prepositioned for their getaway. On the other hand, TF Davao and PNP Maritime implemented lockdown along Davao City Coast. TF Samal, PCG and NAVSOU7 immediately chased the terrorists towards the sea along Talikud Island and Kaputian District. Four KFRG were found dead and three more were captured after the encounter. 


“Inter-agency Simulation exercise enhances our capabilities in responding an unexpected threat within our Joint Area of Operation. Scenarios like this can happen, so I call on everyone to continue to be vigilant and inform the nearest AFP or PNP unit in your area on the presence of any suspicious looking individual or anything left unattended for verification before it will be too late.” Brigadier Ernesto Torres Jr, Commander of Joint Task Force Haribon said. 


Eastern Mindanao Commander, Lieutenant General Felimon Santos Jr recognizes that the AFP needs help in securing the Eastern Mindanao area. 


“Security is a shared responsibility. We cannot do it alone, we cannot cover every inch of our area of responsibility to secure everyone, please work with us in looking after your community so that terrorism will not find a safe haven in Eastern Mindanao.” Santos said. 


The Simulation Exercise ended at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon.


Bong Go aids earthquake victims in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go distributed cash assistance and grocery packs on Monday, October 21, at the towns that were hit hardest by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit central and southern parts of Mindanao on October 16 at around 7:37 PM. 

Go first visited Tulunan, North Cotabato, the epicenter of the earthquake, and then proceeded to Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, where a 22-year-old mother and her 9-month-old child were killed in a landslide during the quake.

“Nagbigay ako ng konting tulong lang po, pagkain at konting financial assistance,” Go said in an interview in Tulunan.

“(Andito rin ako para) makapagbigay ng solusyon sa kanila kung meron silang mga hinaing na gustong iparating sa national government,” he added.

The senator was joined by representatives from concerned government agencies, such as the National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide additional help to the victims.

Go emphasized the role of NHA in helping the victims rebuild or repair their houses. “Pinakiusapan agad namin ang NHA na magbigay ng assistance sa lahat ng biktima ng lindol,” he said.

He also assured the affected residents of neighboring towns and provinces that necessary government assistance will also be delivered to them. “Sa Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, huwag kayong mabahala. Maglilibot ang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno upang magbigay ng tulong diyan sa inyo. Makakatanggap ng tulong lahat ng tinamaan ng lindol.”

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the earthquake affected a total of 5,101 families, involving 25,505 individuals, in 108 barangays in Regions 11 and 12, as of October 22, 6:00 am.

A total of 778 aftershocks, ranging from 1.5 to 5.5 magnitude, have also been recorded, as of October 22.

Meanwhile, Go advised the public to be cautious and rely only on legitimate sources of information in spreading news through social media. 

“Meron tayong legitimate na mga balita. Makinig kayo sa inyong mga radyo. Huwag kayong maniwala agad sa mga post sa Facebook,” he said adding “huwag maniwala at magkalat ng fake news.”

Go warned purveyors of fake news to stop adding to the burden by deceiving the public. “Tumulong na lang kayo sa ating kapwa Pilipino. Huwag na kayong magdagdag sa kalbaryo nila. Please lang po.”

In his speeches in the two towns, Go also encouraged the people to avail themselves of the services of the Malasakit Center, an office where patients and those in need of medical attention can avail of financial assistance from concerned government agencies, such as PhilHealth, DOH, DSWD and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

After the visits in the areas affected by the earthquake, Go went to the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, and attended the opening of the 47th Malasakit Center in the country. 

Duterte attends enthronement of Emperor Naruhito

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is accompanied by his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go as they prepare for the Ceremonies of the Accession to the Throne of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito while at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan on October 22, 2019. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

SBG mourns Nene’s passing


Re: Passing of former Senate President Nene Pimentel

I am deeply saddened by the passing of former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr. early this morning. I offer my deepest and sincerest condolences to the bereaved family, particularly to his son and my colleague in the Senate, Sen. Koko.

Tatay Nene, as he is fondly called, was a fellow Mindanaoan and a staunch ally in fighting for advocacies he shared with Tatay Digong even before President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration until now.

As one of the pillars of PDP-Laban, we are eternally grateful for his wisdom and support for this administration, especially during the 2016 and 2019 elections.

Sen. Nene was a visionary, democracy leader and a hard working legislator. Acknowledged as the father of local autonomy, he championed the cause of local governance and had enormously contributed in shaping what local government units possess now. The Local Government Code of 1991 is a testament to his remarkable contributions.

His death may leave us with a sad void and profound loss to his family and to our country he cared so much about. But his legacy shall forever be remembered and shall always guide us in shaping the destiny of our people.

I, together with a grateful nation, pray that he may rest in eternal peace.

Bong Go hears anti-hospital detention bills, says the practice “has to stop”

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go vowed to stop the illegal practice of detaining or refusing discharge of patients from confinement for their inability to settle their hospital expenses during a Senate health committee hearing on Monday, October 14.

The public hearing took up Senate Bill (SB) No.  166 filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros which increases the penalties against institutions continuing this practice, and SB No. 697 of Senator Koko Pimentel which seeks to prohibit the withholding of Muslim cadavers in the custody of any hospital, and mandates their release within 24 hours from death for burial in accordance with Islamic belief.

In his opening statement, Go lamented that despite a law in place, the practice of detaining patients remains pervasive. 

“Marami pa rin lumalapit sa akin na pamilya ng pasyente, humihingi ng tulong dahil ayaw palabasin sa ospital ang kanilang kamag-anak kahit may promissory note na,” Go said.

Republic Act 9439 was enacted in 2007 to address the issue of hospital detention. Under the measure, patients are allowed to leave the hospital or clinic so long as they execute a promissory note covering their unsettled obligation. The measure, however, does not include patients who are confined in private rooms. 

Go also noted that withholding of Muslim cadavers in the custody of hospitals goes against their religious faith which obliges for the deceased to be buried as soon as possible.

“This has to stop,” Go declared, adding that “detaining a patient makes the problem worse because the patient’s extended stay makes his or her hospital bills to grow even higher.”

While expressing his concern for patients who are illegally detained in hospitals, Go acknowledged that hospitals also need to be protected from abusive patients, saying that “we need to incorporate safeguards that would prevent patients from abusing the law at the expense of the hospitals’ own financial survival.”

Quizzing the Department of Health (DOH), Go asked why the practice remains pervasive.

Dr. Rosendo Sualog, medical specialist of the health department, responded, enumerating some of the reasons for the persistence of the illegal practice. 

“The law does not cover patients who stay in private rooms, and there are patients unable to pay bills for the private room. There are also those who do not cooperate, such as when they fail to execute a promissory note. Some misinterpret the law,” Sualog said. 

As for the case of deceased Muslims, Go recounted his experience in Davao City where a vehicle is assigned to transfer cadavers to their homes so they can be buried as soon as possible.

“Sa Davao, meron pong sasakyan dun naka-assign lang para sa mga Muslim. Within 24 hours, kailangan nailibing na po ‘yung katawan. Ihahatid sa probinsya kaagad. ‘Yun ang problema kapag made-detain ang cadaver. Against po iyon sa paniniwala ng ating mga kapatid na Muslim. Isipin natin kung papaano natin matutulungan ang mga pasyente,” said Go.

“Saan ba pwede silang magsumbong kung unlawfully detained?”, the senator asked.

A representative from the DOH said that families of unlawfully detained patients may go directly to the regional offices of the DOH where personnel are on duty from Mondays to Sundays.

“Pakisigurado na lang po,” Go responded. “‘Yung iba kasi walang access. Nasa malalayong lugar. Especially in Mindanao.”

Meanwhile, noting that patients also now seek nonmedical-related assistance from Malasakit Centers, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Gender and Development (PCSO-GAD) Chairperson Atty. Gay Nadine Alvor also sought the help of Go on the rationalization of PCSO’s taxes during the hearing.

“Malasakit Centers nag-evolve po, hindi na lang hospitalization assistance pero meron na rin tumatakbo for non-hospital related expenses. Pwede po bang hingin namin ang tulong ninyo. Gusto po sanang hingin ng PCSO ang tulong niyo para ma-rationalize ang aming taxes,” she said.

Go responded, saying “Walang problema. Kung ano maitutulong namin, sabihin niyo, basta ibalik natin ang pera ng mga Pilipino. Up to the last centavo. Sa kanila ‘yan.”

The senator added that the Malasakit Centers will be able to complement the proposed anti-hospital detention measures to assist indigent patients in settling their hospital balance and expenses. 

“Makaka-complement rin po ang Malasakit Centers sa mga realities na nangyayari. Unang una, pag na-hostage ‘yung pasyente or cadaver, wala silang pambayad. With Malasakit Center sa ospital, makakahingi sila ng tulong sa iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno. Ang DSWD nakakapagbigay pa ng burial assistance kung kailangan, even pamasahe po,” Go said. 

Ending the hearing, Go reiterated that the practice of detaining patients has to stop. 

“This practice ultimately prevents the sick from getting the medical treatment because they fear of being detained in the hospital with their hospital bills getting higher and higher each day. This should not be tolerated,” said Go.
He also called for the stricter implementation of existing laws to prevent the unscrupulous practice.

“I would also like to point out that, like in any other law, stricter implementation will be key to achieving the objectives of this measures,” he added.