Items filtered by date: Monday, 02 October 2017

Mabilog extends sick leave for 30 days

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who filed a sick leave from September 11 to September 30, did not attend the flag-raising ceremony at the city hall yesterday. Mabilog Facebook Page, File
ILOILO CITY, Philippines —Saying he still fears for his life, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has extended his leave of absence.

Mabilog, who filed a sick leave from Sept. 11 to Sept. 30, did not attend the flag-raising ceremony at the city hall yesterday.

Mabilog’s spokesman, lawyer Mark Piad, later told reporters that the mayor filed a sick leave for 30 more days.

Piad said Mabilog’s application for leave was forwarded to the human resource office on Friday.

“He’s not yet fit to go back to work…due to his medical condition,” Piad said.

Piad said persistent allegations that the mayor is involved in the illegal drug trade is aggravating his condition.

He admitted Mabilog decided to extend his sick leave also for security reasons.

“The threat is quite serious,” Piad said.

He said aside from President Duterte’s statements, some of Mabilog’s friends relayed information on threats to the mayor’s life.

Piad said he has no knowledge on the whereabouts of Mabilog. The mayor’s wife and children have also left the country.

“It is with regret that Mayor Mabilog still cannot return to work. Rest assured that when his condition improves, he will definitely go back,” Piad said.

He said Mabilog is expected to present his medical certificate to justify his extended sick leave.

Not resigning

Despite Mabilog’s predicament, Piad said the mayor is not thinking of resigning from his post.

“Mayor Mabilog has a mandate to the people of Iloilo City. He will stand by it,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag, Western Visayas police chief, assured Mabilog of his and his family’s safety upon their return home.

Piad said they have yet to discuss Mabilog’s security concerns with the police. ”For sure, we will seek an audience with General Binag,” Piad said.

Saying he is suffering from diabetes, Mabilog went on sick leave after attending a conference on disaster management in Japan from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4 and the Urban Environment Accords Summit in Malaysia from Sept. 7 to 9.

The President said Mabilog is scared of going home for fear of suffering the fate of Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog who was slain in a series of raids on the family’s homes in July.

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‘Termite Gang’ hits bank in Quezon City

Police officers check a hole in the floor of a Chinabank branch in Quezon City yesterday after robbers dug a tunnel from a manhole (right) meters away from the bank over the weekend. BOY SANTOS
MANILA, Philippines — Millions of pesos in cash and other valuables are feared lost after robbers hit a Chinabank branch in Quezon City over the weekend by digging a tunnel from the drainage canals.

A group of robbers, tagged by police as the “Termite Gang,” was able to enter the bank at the corner of Camaro street and Commonwealth Avenue in Barangay Greater Fairview through a tunnel that connects to drainage canals outside the building.

The bank management has yet to disclose how much cash it had but police said the robbers looted the main vault and about 40 safety deposit boxes.

 

Land titles were left in the deposit boxes but all cash and jewelry were stolen.

The robbery was committed between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 while there was a guard who stood at his post outside the bank, according to Senior Inspector Allan dela Cruz, head of the theft and robbery unit of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

The tunnel, which could fit only one man at a time, was excavated a few inches from the main door of the bank and about three to four meters away from the main drainage canal outside the building.

The excavation could have been finished in a night by experienced miners, Dela Cruz noted.

No alarm, no video

After the robbers were able to gain entry, they targeted the alarm box, which they pulled from the ceiling before disconnecting the DVRs, which record surveillance footage.

The two DVRs were found by police drenched in water in the drainage canals during their investigation.

Dela Cruz noted that he was told by security personnel of the bank that the main headquarters can view real-time surveillance footage but they do not record it.

The robbers then proceeded to open the main vault through the emergency hatch before setting their sights on the individual safety boxes they opened using crowbars, later recovered by police in the canals.

Inside job?

Dela Cruz said they are not ruling out an inside job as there are indications that the robbers knew the layout of the bank and how to disarm the alarm and DVRs.

The theft and robbery chief also noted that an “alarm” shutting down the system of the branch was already noted at exactly 2:21 a.m. on Saturday but police were not notified.

He added that bank officers also admitted that they could not get in touch with their security personnel despite the alarm.

Superintendent Tomas Nunez, Fairview station commander, said they were only notified of the robbery yesterday at about 7:30 a.m. when the tunnel was discovered by bank officers.

Nunez said the entry point could have been about a hundred meters away from the bank after they found a manhole with its cover opened along the busy highway of Commonwealth Avenue.

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Lanao del Sur residents turn over 140 guns to Army

The 140 firearms are now in the custody of the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion based in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. John Unson
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines — Residents in five Lanao del Sur towns surrendered 140 assorted firearms Monday in support of a disarmament program of the Philippine Army.

The firearms were comprised of M-16 assault rifles, launchers for B-40 anti-tank rockets, shotguns, replica .50 caliber Barret rifles, M1 Garand and Carbine rifles and 40-millimeter grenade launchers.

Local executives in Lanao del Sur’s adjoining Kapatagan, Malabang, Picong and Marogong towns turned over the firearms they collected from their constituents to officials of the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion and the 603rd Infantry Brigade in a simple rite Tuesday.

Major Gen. Arnel Dela Vega of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said he is thankful to the local government units in the four towns for supporting the joint disarmament campaign of the 6th IB, which is under the 603rd Infantry Brigade.

The program was planned by officials of both units on recommendation of Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

Galvez has jurisdiction over military units in central Mindanao, in Marawi City and in Lanao del Sur.

Dela Vega said they are expecting more surrenders soon of firearms by residents in towns being secured by personnel of the 6th IB.

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Sereno, Bautista accusers file raps vs deputy ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City. File photo
MANILA, Philippines —The accusers of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Commission on Elections Chairman Andy Bautista on Tuesday filed administrative raps against Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang amid the Ombudsman’s probe into President Rodrigo Duterte’s wealth.

In a 13-page complaint filed before the Office of the President, lawyers Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari accused Carandang of graft and corruption or betrayal of public trust.

According to the complainants, Carandang is guilty of corruption for causing “undue injury to any party, including the government,” as well as for giving “unwarranted benefits” through “manifest partiality” and for “divulging valuable information of a confidential character.”

The complainants also said Carandang must be held liable for betrayal of public trust for “falsely and maliciously” claiming that the Anti-Money Laundering Council had issued a “report” regarding Duterte’s alleged account deposits.

Mallari of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. and Dante Jimenez of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

Meanwhile, former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto "Jing" Paras, accompanied by Luna, filed an impeachment complaint against Bautista for his alleged P1-billion ill-gotten wealth.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

The House justice committee, however, dismissed both complaints.

Filers want deputy ombudsman for Mindanao out

The complainants also said Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman “deserves to be removed from office” for allegedly violating the Bank Secrecy Law by providing Carandang with information regarding Duterte’s account deposits and transactions.

“As for the Members, Fact-Finding Investigation Team/Field Investigation Unit, Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, assigned to conduct fact-finding on the subject accounts and transactions related thereto, their mere possession of documents or records thereof is sufficient enough to warrant their dismissal for gross misconduct,” the document read in part.

A separate complaint was also filed by former Rep. Paras and lawyer Glenn Chong.

They accused Carandang of committing grave misconduct, grave dishonesty and gross negligence, which they said constitute betrayal of public trust. They also accused him of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law.

In a chance interview, Paras said the raps were filed before the Office of the President because it has authority over the matter.

“The Ombudsman Law itself under Section 8 of the law specifically gives the authority to the Office of the President to undertake investigation of the Deputy Ombudsman and the special prosecutor of the Ombudsman,” Paras said.

The law holds that "a Deputy, or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the president for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process."

Paras: OP can investigate Ombudsman

“Kaya po doon po nanggagaling yung sinasabi ng ating pangulo na puwede niyang magtayo ng commission to investigate. After all, if it’s the Office of the President, then with the powers of the president, he can create a commission, he can create a body, he can create a team that will investigate,” he added.

Duterte earlier said he would form a commission that would look into allegations of anomalies and “partiality” in the anti-graft agency. He also threatened the officials at the Ombudsman with arrest if they ignore court summons.

This was after the Ombudsman, acting on a case filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, announced that it was launching a fact-finding probe into the alleged billions that Duterte’s family supposedly owned.

Last week, Carandang was quoted as saying that his office had already received the bank transaction record of the president’s family from 2006 to 2016 from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

But AMLC later denied that it had provided Ombudsman with a report detailing the transaction history of the first family’s bank accounts.

In his statement Monday, Carandang seemed to have taken back his words and pointed to the media.

“Carandang states that he was reading through the documents shown to him by the media during the ambush interview, in response to media’s inquiry on the status of the complaint after more than a year since its filing and in stating that a request was made to AMLC as part of the investigative process,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, Duterte recently declared he would not recognize the investigation to be conducted by the ombudsman on his alleged ill-gotten wealth as he accused the anti-graft body of corruption and “selective justice.”

He also warned Carandang that he would blame him if the situation in the country deteriorates.

“Imagine this, Carandang, magdasal ka lang, Carandang. I’m not threatening you. Pagka nagkal**** - l**** ang Pilipinas, uunahin kita,” the president said without elaborating.

‘Because I’m intelligent’

In the same media interview, Paras accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales of being behind the “maneuvers” to supposedly “destabilize the government.”

“Parang pinag-usapan na ito eh. Parang they’re synchronized to destabilize this government. Maybe they want power grab or whatsoever,” Paras told reporters.

“Kaya obvious na obvious na itong si Carandang, appointed ito ng mga yellow, ang behind talaga nito ay si Carpio Morales. Kasi hindi naman gagalaw itong si Carandang kung walang go signal ni Carpio Morales,” he added.

Carandang, who left the ombudsman's office in 2007, returned in 2011 as a legal consultant and was appointed overall deputy ombudsman in 2013.

Asked about the source of his statements, Paras said: “Because I’m intelligent. I know to detect.”

Carpio Morales has inhibited herself from acting on any case filed against the first family. Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, is married to Morales’ nephew, lawyer Manases Carpio.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier said it would not yield to intimidation as it vowed to continue its probe into the chief executive’s alleged clandestine wealth.

“If the president has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear,” it said.

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10 armed men arrested for trying to enter Camp Aguinaldo without permits

A THREAT? Armed men try entering the national base of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Rappler file photo 

MANILA, Philippines – Ten men were nabbed on Monday, October 2, for illegally carrying firearms while entering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"The very reason why we put them on hold is because they had brought guns, which they did not have the authority to hold. So we turned them over to the Philippine National Police (PNP)," AFP Public Affairs Office chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

 

According to Arevalo, the men claimed membership to the "Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty."

They entered at around 5:45 am, and were interrogated immediately. They claimed they were on their way to present a "letter requesting accreditation" to National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

They had no appointment with the defense chief, according to records.

They were turned over to the Quezon City Police Station 8.

The team was led by their supposed "chief intelligence" Daniel Pagalan. The members were:

  1. Pascula Dizon, also known as Kumander Haslim
  2. Rolando Mahusay, also known as Kumander Melody
  3. Dioscoro Danis 
  4. James Iwayan
  5. Butch B Galimba 
  6. Rico Giducos 
  7. Ramil B Peralta 
  8. Rundy Paderes 
  9. Alvin Simbahon

Seized from the suspects were 5 pistols, and 7 magazines with 47-caliber 9mm and 26-caliber .45 live ammunition – with a report from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com

 

 
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VLOG: U.S. agents check for most wanted terrorists among Marawi bodies

The Philippine National Police (PNP) conducts an autopsy on the bodies recovered from the battle area in Marawi City. 

The results could confirm if leaders of the Maute Group were among those killed in earlier firefights with the military.

 

United States agents are also in Iligan City, supposedly to help identify the cadavers of foreign fighters who joined the local terrorists. – Rappler.com

Video link: https://youtu.be/yg51R_NEk-M

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Uphold the Constitution, stand with the ‘impartial’ Ombudsman – Robredo

DEFEND DEMOCRACY. Vice President Leni Robredo rallies support for the Office of the Ombudsman amid recent attacks against the agency. Photo from the OVP 

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo called on Filipinos to defend their constitutional offices as the Ombudsman once again comes under fire from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Robredo made the statement after Duterte said he would snub the Office of the Ombudsman’s probe into his wealth, with bank records showing that some P1 billion flowed into the President’s accounts

Sa ating kasaysayan, ilang beses nang hinamon ang kasarinlan ng mga opisinang ito. Sa bawa't pagkakataon, hinahamon din ang tibay ng loob ng sambayanang ipagtanggol ang ating mga institusyon,” said Robredo. 

(Our history shows that the independence of these offices has been repeatedly challenged. Every time, the nation is also challenged to defend these institutions.)

"Amid the issues being faced by these constitutional offices, Filipinos must again strengthen their resolve. Together, let us uphold the Constitution and our democratic institutions, including the impartial Ombudsman," she said in Filipino.

Robredo, a human rights lawyer, said constitutional offices were created to stop abuses under the Marcos regime from happening again. 

The Vice President said the Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) all play “critical roles” in protecting the country from abuse by government.

Kailangang galangin ang kasarinlang iginagawad ng Konstitusyon sa mga opisinang ito upang kanilang magampanan ang tungkuling panatilihing malinis at tapat ang gobyerno (We need to respect the independence that the Constitution granted to these offices so they could perform their task to keep the government clean and honest),” she said. 

Duterte earlier said he would create a commission to investigate the Ombudsmanfor alleged corruption.

The President had also challenged Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign with him, saying that if none of them get the authority to investigate each other for corruption, then it will be the military who will do so. 

Duterte and his allies have also slammed the CHR for criticizing the administration’s bloody war on drugs, even if this is part of the Commission's mandate. (READ: Gascon urges Duterte to view CHR as part of 'check and balance system’)

The House of Representatives initially approved a measly P1,000 budget in 2018for CHR, but later restored its originally proposed P649.48 million. – Rappler.com

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After Las Vegas massacre, Trump silent on gun control

MOMENT OF SILENCE. US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump take part in a moment of silence with White House staff for the victims of the Las Vegas shootings, on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mandel Ngan/AFP

WASHINGTON DC, USA – US President Donald Trump condemned the massacre of 58 Las Vegas concert goers as an "act of pure evil" Monday, October 2, but refrained from addressing calls for gun control or the motives for the worst mass shooting in recent US history.

Delivering televised remarks from the White House, Trump tried to offer consolation and called for unity – an act that has become a grim rite of passage for modern US presidents.

Barack Obama wept as he tried to soothe the nation after the 2012 Sandy Hook primary school shooting, George W. Bush told Americans that the "nation grieves" after a similar outrage at Virginia Tech university.

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Such shootings are a fact of life in America and a political fact of life for US leaders.

There have already been over 270 mass shootings in the United States this year alone, according to www.massshootingtracker.org, although the exact definition is contested.

Trump, in a series of public displays of grief, ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday, October 6, offered prayers for the victims and announced he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 4.

Later, with bowed head, he led White House staff on the South Lawn for a moment of silence in respect for the dead.

"In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one – and it always has," Trump said.

Police have identified the gunman behind the Sunday night (October 1) massacre – which left more than 500 injured – as a 64-year-old former accountant named Stephen Craig Paddock, who killed himself before a SWAT team breached his hotel room where they found at least 8 rifles.

Officials have reacted cautiously to an Islamic State (ISIS) group claim that Paddock was a "soldier of the caliphate" but while his motive remained unclear, the shooting instantly rekindled the divisive national debate on gun control.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that now was not the time for politics, a tactic frequently used by gun advocates to diffuse public outrage.

"There's a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country," said Sanders.

'Right to bear arms'

Trump insisted, "our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence."

But in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, that unity and those bonds were difficult to find.

Trump's vanquished election rival Hillary Clinton hit out at the gun manufacturers lobby – the National Rifle Association – which has backed a congressional push to make it easier to obtain a gun silencer.

"The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer," tweeted Clinton, whose Democratic Party has tried in vain to introduce lasting gun control measures despite the national scourge of mass shootings.

"Our grief isn't enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again."

According to the latest Gallup poll, 55% of American voters would like to see stricter rules for buying guns.

But the issue of gun control is highly sensitive in the United States and Trump's own views on the issue have changed markedly over his years in public life.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 6- and 7-year old children and 6 adults were mowed down by a disturbed 20-year-old, Trump appeared to favor stricter rules.

Back then, his predecessor Obama – who often called Sandy Hook the worst moment of his 8-year presidency and recalls even his Secret Service detail being in tears – called for the deadlock to be broken and for Congress to act.

At that time Trump tweeted: "President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut."

But since then Trump – whose White House bid was eagerly endorsed by the NRA – has positioned himself as a staunch defender of the constitutional "right to keep and bear arms."

The NRA donated an estimated $30 million to Trump's campaign in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

US Senator Chris Murphy, who was the congressman for Sandy Hook, renewed a call for action in the wake of the Las Vegas attack.

"Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity," he said.

"This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren't public policy responses to this epidemic." – Rappler.com

  • Published in U.S.
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