Items filtered by date: Thursday, 26 October 2017

U.S. embassy closed on Undas

InterAksyon file photo of the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
MANILA, Philippines — The United States embassy and its affiliated offices will be closed on Tuesday, October 31, and Wednesday, November 1, for the All Saints Day holidays.

It will be open on Monday, October 20, and resume normal operation on November 2, Thursday.


New Army battalion to go after Northern Mindanao Reds

Show of force by NPA guerrillas in Bukidnon. Photographed by Erwin M. Mascariñas, News5-InterAksyon
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — With prospects of resumed peace talks between communist rebels and the government still up in the air the military in Northern Mindanao beefed up its forces, organizing a new battalion to counter the threat posed by the New People’s Army, especially in Bukidnon province.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division said the 88th Infantry Battalion based in South Poblacion, Maramag, Bukidnon is a mix of 450 new recruits and battle-hardened soldiers from other divisions, as well as fresh graduates of the 4ID.

Bukidnon is considered one of the hotbeds of the NPA in Northern Mindanao. Recently, a number of companies based there were attacked by the rebels who burned equipment and facilities and seized firearms from security guards.

4ID commander Major General Ronald Villanueva said the newly-activated battalion’s tasks and mission are aligned with the military’s counterinsurgency campaign, Oplan “Kapayapaan.”


Suspected Maute group ‘financier’ nabbed in Novaliches – reports

(Reuters file)
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2 – 1:24 p.m.) A suspected financier of the Maute group that was involved in the recently ended occupation of Marawi City was arrested in Novaliches, Quezon City on Friday, October 27, radio reports said.

Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar, director of the Quezon City Police District, said the suspect, Rasdy Malawani, also known as Rasdi Macabangkit, 42, managed the Salam Bazaar at the Novaliches Plaza Mall, collecting rent from stall holders.

The store is believed owned by Ominta Romato “Farhana” Maute, the mother of brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam, who led the extremist group that battled government forces for control of Marawi for five months from May 23.

The police and military personnel who arrested Malawani also recovered a .45 caliber pistol, a rocket-propelled grenade, and bank transaction receipts supposedly linking him to the Maute matriarch.

He will be charged with illegal possession of these weapons.

But National Capital Region Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde said Malawani could face rebellion charges as well fo aiding the Maute group.

At a press briefing, Eleazar said that, following Ominta’s arrest soon after fighting broke out in Marawi, it was Malawani who remitted the rent he collected — an average of P300,000 a month — to Azesha Makabangkit-Maute, also known as “Lily,” in Marawi City.

Azesha is the wife of Madie Maute, who was killed during the fighting in Marawi in August.

Eleazar said a financial investigation is underway into how Malawani and Farhana’s legitimate businesses provided funds to the Maute group.

“We have reason to believe, based on the information (and) the case build-up conducted that funds that were obtained from these businesses are being used to support activities in Marawi,” he said.

Albayalde said police are monitoring individual supporters or sympathizers of the Maute group, including “lone wolves” like Malawani.

“Dito kasi (Here), they can do legitimate business and puwede sila magpunta kung saan-saan kasi marami silang kamag-anak at enclave (they can go wherever they want because they have many relatives and enclaves),” he added.

At the same time, he stressed, “we would like to make clear that there is no clear and present danger of any terror attack in Metro Manila. Metro Manila remains peaceful.”


Disclosing contents of Ventura affidavit illegal – Aguirre

Aegis Juris Fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura at the Department of Justice in Manila on Wednesday, October 25. (photo courtesy of J.V. Arcena, News5)

MANILA, Philippines — Are news reports drawn from the contents of the sworn statement Aegis Juris fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura submitted to apply for witness protection illegal?

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II indicated as much in a statement released by his office on Friday, October 27, in which he said: “Any copy of the Sinumpaang Salaysayobtained by anyone and released publicly is a clear violation of the law and will be dealt with accordingly.”

In the statement, Aguirre cited Section 7 of Republic Act No. 6981, or “An Act Providing for a Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program and for Other Purposes,” saying, “no information or documents given or submitted in support of an application for admission to the WPP shall be released except upon written order of the Department or the proper court.”

“As of this statement, the Office of the Secretary of the DOJ has not issued any written order authorizing the release of any copy of the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Marc Anthony B. Ventura which he submitted to the Witness Protection Program,” the statement added.

Copies of Ventura’s statement were obtained and widely reported on by media on Thursday. 

But on Wednesday, October 25, the day Ventura went to Aguirre’s office to apply for witness protection, the Justice secretary himself, at a press conference he called to announce the “very welcome development,” basically narrated almost everything that would later be detailed in the Sinumpaang Salaysay.

This was before Ventura’s formal admission into the WPP.


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