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Police and Army personnel, together with some residents, thwarted some 750 members of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), who tried to occupy vacant housing units in Bulacan Heights, a National Housing Authority project in Barangay Bonga Mayor in Bustos, Bulacan Friday night.
Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr. said yesterday the Kadamay members arrived on board 39 passenger jeepneys at around 8:30 p.m. Friday and tried to enter the Bulacan Heights housing project but were blocked by a phalanx of policemen, soldiers and residents who barricaded the gates with two firetrucks and some heavy equipment.
He said local policemen, backed up by maneuver platoons from the Public Safety Company of the Bulacan Police, were supported by Army troopers of the 48th Infantry Battalion under the command of Col. Ramil Anoyo.
Most of the residents of Bulacan Heights are policemen and military personnel, Caramat said.
Chief Insp. Victor Bernabe, Bustos police chief, said a peaceful dialog ensued, resulting in the dispersal of the Kadamay members, some of whom even asked for transportation to ferry them back to the occupied housing sites in Pandi town.
The municipal government provided trucks that brought them to Pandi.
Bernabe said some Kadamay members warned that they will be back in full force and will occupy idle housing units, claiming that they have rights to government housing projects.
A village official who declined to be identified meanwhile said the government should investigate the series of “invasion” of government housing units because it is becoming a vicious trend.
“Somebody is manipulating this group. They just can’t go around invading government housing units,” the village official said.        PNA

Troops rescue kidnapped boat captain in Basilan

Sunday, 26 March 2017 00:00 Published in Nation

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Pursuing government troops yesterday rescued the skipper of the tugboat towing a cargo vessel hijacked by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits two days ago off Basilan province.
Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, confirmed that Aurelio Agacac is now in the custody of the troops after he was rescued at about 5:30 a.m. yesterday in Barangay Basakan in the coastal town of Hadji Mohammad Ajul.
Agacac is the skipper of M/T Tug R9 towing the cargo vessel, Super Shuttle RoRo 9.
“He (Agacac) was rescued. Of course, we are still looking for the other kidnapped victims. Operation continues relentlessly,” Uy said.
On Thursday, the Abu Sayyaf bandits hijacked M/T Tug R9 and forcibly took Agacac, along with his chief engineer, Laurencio Tiro, in the vicinity of Sibago Island, Hadji Mohammad Ajul town.
Uy did not provide further details on the circumstances that led to the rescue of Agacac, but said they beefed up their operation following the brazen attack of the Abu Sayyaf on Thursday.
Earlier, operating troops from the 19th Special Forces Company of the 4th Special Forces Battalion killed an Abu Sayyaf member, Jaudi Salupuddin, during a hot pursuit operation in Tuburan town following the hijack incident in the neighboring municipality of Hadji Mohammad Ajul.
“He was fatally wounded when he was turned over, prompting the military to evacuate him to the nearest medical station. However, he expired along the way,” Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said.
Petinglay said Salupuddin was among those involved in the hijack of M/T Tug R9.
The troops also recovered an M-16 rifle with two short magazines of ammunition and a motorized banca used by the Abu Sayyaf in the kidnapping.
On Friday, the military also recovered one colored light blue motorboat locally known as “bote-bote” with a 10-person capacity, and one yellow outrigger-type motorboat with a four-person capacity at Sitio Kapago, Barangay Candiis, Tuburan.
Both boats were positively identified as the ones used in the hijacking of M/T Tug R9 and their engines were already removed.
Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom commander, said a pursuit operation is still ongoing in coordination with the police forces in Basilan province.
“WestMinCom is doing its best to rescue all the kidnap victims within our area of operations. However, this is one challenge that your Armed Forces cannot address alone. We need the help and the support of every peace-loving Filipinos in this fight,” Galvez said.
“As of this report, Westmincom troops are working doubly hard to track and rescue the remaining sailor (Tiro) and the other kidnap victims. We will use all means to rescue the remaining hostages.”
Prior to the hijack on Thursday, troops from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion under the Joint Task Force Basilan and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) launched an assault against the Abu Sayyaf in Tuburan town.
At least one Abu Sayyaf member identified as Bistahan Nisalun, alias Upang-Upang, was killed during the assault in Barangay Lahi-Lahi, Tuburan. He was a known follower of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abdullah Indanan alias Abdullah Jhovel or Guru, Petinglay said.
The Philippine military is operating on a six-month deadline imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out a string of maritime kidnappings over the past year.
The deadline will lapse on June 30.  

Search on for 3 fishermen missing off Benham Rise

Sunday, 26 March 2017 00:00 Published in Nation

Authorities from Caramoran town in Catanduanes have begun to organize a search and rescue team to find the three missing fishermen who left their village Thursday morning to go fishing at Benham Rise off Pacific Ocean, said a police report that reached Camp Simeon Ola, headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) yesterday.
Senior Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesman, has identified the missing fishermen as Edwin Briones Sr.,49, his son Edwin Jr., 24 and Dindo Lucero, 31, all residents of Barangay Tubli in Caramoran town.
Nelly Briones, wife of Edwin Briones Sr., told the Caramoran Municipal Police Office that her husband and son had left their home around 10 a.m. Thursday and was with Lucero when they set off to fish at Kalipungan fishing sanctuary in Benham Rise off the Pacific Ocean.
“They were on board a white motorized banca with markings ‘Helvin’ but had failed to return home,” she told the Caramoran police.
Calubaquib said the families of the three fishermen are afraid of what could have happened to the three because of the big waves at the said fish sanctuary area for the past few days.
Chief Supt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe, PRO5 director, has alerted the nearby police stations in the east coast of the Bicol Region fronting the Pacific Ocean about the missing fishermen.         

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