MARAWI CITY, January 13, 2003 (STAR)  NEWSFLASH - A Philippine counterpart organization under the auspices of the International Police Commission (Interpol) has been established in this city recently to provide intelligence-gathering network

The new group has also been tasked to coordinate with the international police body in helping thwart terrorist activities in Northern Mindanao.

Lawyer Mustapha Solaiman was appointed Northern Mindanao Brigade commander by the Philippine Interpol head Gen. Luciano Prieto and Interpol Mindanao chief Lt. Gen. Jamal Sarip.

Sarip said this organization is duly recognized by the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine Drug-Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United Nations and other local and international law enforcement agencies.

Sarip added that although the members have just undergone a crash course on intelligence-gathering, they are now mobilized and are waiting for logistical support from the Interpol such as vehicles, communication equipment, and firearms.

***Ople brushes off US official's comments on RP effort with IPR laws 01/13 1:17:53 PM

Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople Sunday reiterated the Philippines already has a clear idea of the feelings of the United States on the issue of intellectual property rights (IPR).

Reacting to the statements made by US Assistant Commerce Secretary for Market Access and Compliance William Lash who questioned the sincerity of the RP government in enforcing IPR laws, Ople said, "There is no need to question our sincerity and determination to address IPR issues."

"We are exerting every effort to protect intellectual property rights. Many of our efforts have paid off and we have had some stunning victories in our war against these pirates. But we cannot turn things around overnight," Ople added.

Lash had criticized the Arroyo administration Friday for failing to enforce intellectual property laws, which he said cost US firms about US$116 million in lost revenue last year.

"The melodramatic actions of this U.S. official, and his statement questioning our efforts are regrettable and totally uncalled for. He made purchases in Manila that could easily be made in midtown Manhattan or downtown Los Angeles," Ople noted.

He added, "(Lash's) actions are highly questionable and are actions that we would not expect from a friendly country, particularly since there are proper diplomatic and official venues and fora where we can discuss these matters."

Responding to comment that there must be more convictions on IPR violations, the Foreign Affairs secretary said, "Regardless of what this official said or did, the Philippines will continue to uphold the rule of law and observe due process in enforcing its laws."

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