THE Department of Justice (DoJ) is conducting its own investigation on the cop caught on video in Valencia City planting a gun as evidence against a suspect killed in a drug operation. Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Thursday the review panel led by the department “will certainly give special attention to this particular incident in Valencia City.” He said regardless of the outcome of the Philippine National Police’s own probe, “the DoJ-led review panel will continue looking into incidents of death during illegal drug operations in other parts of the country, including Region X (Northern Mindanao).” He added that if the video footage of the incident is authenticated, “it will be a very useful and relevant piece of evidence in determining where liability lies.” The policeman on the video, which has gone viral on social media, has been identified as Police Corporal Benzon Gonzales. The cop was recorded firing a gun three times then putting the gun beside the body of a slain drug suspect identified as Pol L. Estanol. The suspect was later reported to have fired at policemen during the drug buy-bust operation. The incident reportedly took place on Feb. 20 in the city in Bukidnon province. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago
Red tide warning lifted in several Eastern Visayas areas
SEVERAL areas in the Eastern Visayas Region are now free from red tide contamination, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) announced. Based on its latest shellfish bulletin, BFAR said the red tide warning has been lifted in Daram Island, Zumarraga, San Pedro Bay, and Cambatutay Bay, all in Western Samar; Carigara Bay and Ormoc Bay in Leyte; Biliran Islands; and Guiuan and Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar.
On the other hand, BFAR said areas that are still positive for red tide include Inner Malampaya Sound, Palawan; Sorsogon Bay, Sorsogon; Dauis and Tagbilaran in Bohol; Tambobo Bay, Negros Oriental; and Calubuian and Cancabato Bay, Leyte. In Mindanao, affected areas are: Dumanquillas Bay, Zamboanga del Sur; Murcielagos Bay (Sapang Dalaga and Baliangao) and Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental; Taguines Lagoon, Camiguin; Balite Bay in Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang harvested from affected areas are not safe for human consumption. However, other marine species can be eaten with proper handling. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave
Negros Oriental lifts RT-PCR test requirement; upgraded sea, air ports formally launched
TRAVELERS to Negros Oriental province are no longer required to present a negative RT-PCR test result for coronavirus starting Mar. 10. Governor Roel R. Degamo issued an order Wednesday in line with the national government’s policy on lessening documentary requirements for domestic travel. Barangay-level monitoring and tracing will be observed until the province fully adopts the national contact tracing system, Mr. Degamo said. “This set of guidelines shall be binding in all component cities and municipalities within the Province,” the order states. The more relaxed rules come as the renovated air and sea ports in the capital Dumaguete City are formally launched on Mar. 11. The Dumaguete-Sibulan airport was upgraded at a cost of P259 million under the Build, Build, Build program. Improvements include expansion of the terminal building and the runway to accommodate bigger aircraft. “We are excited to formally inaugurate the newly-developed facilities of the Dumaguete Airport this week. These improvements are what the Philippine aviation industry badly needs right now, given the adverse impact of the pandemic. We are excited to finally witness, once again, a vibrant atmosphere in the country’s airports,” Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Jim C. Sydiongco said in a statement on Wednesday. The P114-million seaport improvement, on the other hand, covers a new two-storey building for operations and passenger terminal. The building is “designed to address the need for the proper monitoring of vessel arrival and departure, as well as provide state-of-the-art passenger terminal building for passengers bound for nearby islands like Siquijor, Cebu, Bohol, among others,” the Department of Transportation said in a separate release. — MSJ