Items filtered by date: Friday, 17 November 2017

Back to academics for triumphant Lions

Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez gets a victory lift after the Lions completed a sweep of the Lyceum Pirates to keep the NCAA cage crown Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Joey Mendoza
MANILA, Philippines — The morning after San Beda pulled off a sweep in reverse over Lyceum to keep the NCAA men’s basketball crown, coach Boyet Fernandez exhorted his players to shift their focus to the other “championship” – academics.

With the exam week set in the first week of December in Mendiola, Fernandez stressed the need for his wards to double their effort and try to catch up in their respective classes.

“My next order of battle is checking on the players on how they are doing on their studies because we’ve been focusing on basketball the last three weeks,” said Fernandez a day after steering the Lions to their ninth crown in the last 11 seasons and a league-best 21st overall with a 2-0 sweep of their best-of-three series with the Pirates.

A registered nurse, Fernandez said academics, like basketball, would be the other “championship” his players should be striving for.

“We all know that you can’t play basketball forever and I want my players to have a life in case they stop playing,” said Fernandez.

In fact, the Lions, according to Fernandez, might skip the PBA D-League in January to give his players more time to focus on their studies, also a requirement for a player to be included in the team pool.

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

“It’s a possibility because in the NCAA, you have to pass the second semester to get to play next season and if they couldn’t pass it, they couldn’t play,” said Fernandez. “But it will depend on boss MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) if he wants us to play.”

In case they get to participate in the D-League, Fernandez wants to field in a school-based team so he could synchronize it with the Lions’ training and academic schedules.

He also expressed his concerns over fellow NCAA schools like LPU, Jose Rizal, St. Benilde and Perpetual Help that are going to field in teams in the D-League.

“I just don’t want to be left behind. Also, Bolick and (Javee) Mocon improved a lot by playing in the D-League,” he said.

San Beda is also scheduled to see action in the Champions’ League, a tournament among the country’s collegiate champions, which will be revived next year.

“It will be a good tournament for us,” he said.

But after besting the elims in the just- concluded NCAA Finals, Fernandez said it would be better for his wards to concentrate first on their upcoming exam before going back to the drawing board.

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NU lords over UAAP taekwondo, wins first men’s title, defends women’s crown

DOUBLE CHAMPIONSHIP. The National University taekwondo team takes the top spot of the podium in both the men's and women's divisions. Photo by Delfin Dioquino/Rappler 

MANILA, Philippines – The tides have turned in UAAP taekwondo as the National University reigned supreme in both men’s and women’s divisions this Season 80 at the Blue Eagle Gym in the Ateneo de Manila University from November 15-17. 

Both teams went undefeated in the tournament as the men’s squad nabbed its first UAAP title while the women’s team defended the crown it won last year. 

 

“History, hindi ako makapaniwala until now dahil napakalakas ng mga teams na natalo namin, especially UST,” said NU coach Jeffrey Figueroa. 

(History, I still cannot believe because we defeated strong teams, especially UST.) 

UP had its best finish in recent years in the men’s division by bagging silver while 4-peat-seeking UST slipped to third place. 

Ateneo landed second place in women’s play while UP clinched 3rd, leaving perennial podium-winners UST at 4th place. 

NU’s Arven Alcantara and Rheza Aragon were named Most Valuable Players in their respective divisions. – Rappler.com

 
 
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Probe into 'nanlaban' cases just a fishing expedition – SolGen

SHOT. John Paul Martinez, 21 years old, dies from several gunshot wounds after an encounter with Manila police. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said that there is no basis to compel the police to submit for investigation firearms used in "nanlaban" cases, where drug suspects were killed after they supposedly fought back.

“The submission of firearms, including serial numbers and description, of monthly reports in ‘nanlaban’ cases amounts to a fishing expedition,” the OSG said in its 63-page comment submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday, November 17.

 

The OSG is representing local policemen and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa in two petitions against the government's anti-drug operations that are set to undergo oral arguments on Tuesday, November 21.

The OSG also said that the police should not be asked to submit to the court monthly reports on the status of their investigations into nanlaban cases.

Instead, the OSG advised petitioners “to file the proper administrative and criminal cases against erring police officers.”

“To give due course to the petitioner’s patently baseless petitions would only serve to countenance harassment suits and “fishing expeditions” that distract law enforcement agencies from their principal duties or, worse, dampen their zeal in the pursuit of criminal elements,” the OSG said.

Difficulties

Lawyer Christina Antonio, one of the lawyers from Center from International Law (CenterLaw) handling the case, told Rappler it is not easy for relatives to file separate cases.

"You are constantly afraid. More desperate when you are arrested and languishing in jail in the aftermath of the killing. You do not know any lawyer. You don't even have fare to go to any lawyer. The law is a nebulous, distant cloud," Antonio said.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that the government is investigating “every single one” of the deaths. But as of September 27, the PNP has only managed to submit 10 inquest reports out of the 3,800 deaths at the time.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has prosecuted only 71 drug-related deaths, and of those, only 19 have reached the courts, based on DOJ data as of August 22.

Petitions

The petitions to be heard by the SC are those filed by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) on behalf of alleged victims of Oplan TokHang in Baguio, Tondo, and Quezon City; and by the CenterLaw representing the families of 35 individuals in San Andres Bukid, Manila, who were killed in police raids.

CenterLaw accused the policemen of the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 6 of being masterminds of the killings.

FLAG had petitioned the SC to make an intervention into cases of nanlaban, a narrative often used by policemen when somebody is killed during their operations.

FLAG wants the policemen to turn over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) their firearms for forensic examination, and for the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and/or the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) to submit a monthly report to the Court full documentation of police operations which result to death.

The OSG does not believe that the petitioners are entitled to their request. FLAG also asked for a writ of amparo for the families. A writ of amparo is a remedy that serves to protect constitutional rights perceived to be in danger. (READ: Lawyers do dirty groundwork to fight Duterte’s drug war)

“While judicial intervention is equally available to these petitioners, it could not be done through the blanket issuance of a writ of amparo,” the OSG said.

Antonio said there are basis for their requests for a writ of amparo such as "numerous jurisprudence and executive pronouncements of pardon for cops in narco killings."

Writ of amparo

Just the same, the OSG also does not believe that the petitioners deserve a writ of amaro.

“The petitioners failed to establish by substantial evidence that the respondents violated their right to life, liberty or security; hence, they are not entitled to the issuance of a writ of amparo,” the OSG said.

In San Andres Bukid for example, the petitioners are asking for restraining orders against the policemen, and a prohibition against anti-drug operations in their community. Their petitions said this is due to threats to their safety and lives.

The OSG said the families are not entitled to such protection because their stories are hearsay. OSG cited affidavits of petitioners which source their testimonies from stories they heard from neighbors and other witnesses.

San Andres Bukid petitioners claimed that while the killings by masked vigilantes were ongoing, they spotted policemen from MPD 6 in the area, as if on standby. This is among their bases for saying there was coordination with police.

In response, the OSG said: “The petitions are hinged mainly on hearsay and on the assumption that the men in plainclothes lurking near the crime scenes were police officers. Considering that the petitioners’ allegations are not adequately supported by substantial evidence, their claim that the anti-drug operations conducted by the respondents are illegal has no leg to stand on.”

The OSG also enumerated a slew of technical reasons, such as some of the petitioners not being qualified to file a case. Some of the petitioners are “concerned citizens” and members of religious groups immersed in the community.

The OSG cited the rules which state that a non-relative may be allowed to file a case only if there is no known relative.

The OSG also added: "The alleged extralegal killings transpired sometime in 2016 and early 2017. If indeed petitioners’ lives were on the line, they would have filed the present actions at the earliest possible time to prevent accountable police officers from committing any further human rights violation."

Moot?

The OSG also said the cases are now moot since President Rodrigo Duterte has taken out the PNP from the anti-drugs campaign.

The OSG also said Dela Rosa’s circular back in July 2016 was constitutional.

“It is unfortunate that loss of lives resulted from the operations of the police officers. But these incidents do not automatically render the anti-drug operation conducted by the respondents “unlawful” as would entitle the petitioners to the protection of a writ of amparo,” the OSG said.

The OSG claims that to render the police’s war on drugs illegal would only benefit those engaged in the illegal drug trade.

The oral arguments will begin at 2 pm on November 21. 

The police's nanlaban defense in their drug war killings has generated controversy and criticism, amid allegations that weapons and drugs had been planted on the victims only after they were killed. State forensic experts had cited "staged" crime scenes in the case of teenager Carl Arnaiz. (READ: 'Nakaluhod, tapos nasubsob': How Kian was killed, according to PAO

The results of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey held in June, or nearly a year after the Duterte administration launched it's drug war, showed that half of Filipinos don't buy the police's nanlaban line. – Rappler.com

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Bicolana OFW dies after serving 'two masters' in Saudi Arabia

HARDWORKING MOTHER. The husband and 3 sons of Ana Fe Velasco-Bania watch over her casket. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler 

 
 
 
 
 
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CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – When she left Barangay Binobong in Pili town in 2015 to work in the Middle East, Ana Fe Velasco-Bania was full of life.

"Ana Fe is my eldest daughter," said Maria Francia Velasco. "She decided to work abroad with desires of providing good life to her children, send them to school until college, rebuild her home, and to recover the less than a hectare riceland leased to our relative for almost P200,000."

 

The mother of 3 sons left the country as a documented migrant worker. Her expenses to work abroad were shouldered by her employer under the Integrated Programme for Fair Recruitment (FAIR), a global project that seeks to promote fair recruitment practices. The Philippines is among the target countries for the pilot project.

Ana Fe headed to Saudi Arabia for work as a domestic helper in April 2015. In Riyadh, she worked for Yahya Muhamad Ali Alyami for a monthly salary of $400. This was for a 24-month contract.

Velasco said her daughter served two households, in violation of her contract.

“She served two masters in Riyadh. She was sent by her original employer to their family friend as on-call worker to do the household services which we considered as violation of her work contract,” Velasco said.

Velasco said based on her previous communication with her daughter, Yahya Muhamad Ali Alyami was a kind employer but the other employer was reportedly cruel and maltreated her daughter. 

Bad news

A few months before Ana Fe's work contract was to end in December, Velasco received a report that her daughter had died of a heart attack on September 29. She was 38.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) worked on the immediate repatriation of Ana Fe’s remains to the Philippines, which arrived at the Legazpi City Domestic Airport on November 2, where her grieving family received her. Her remains were immediately transported to Nabua town in Camarines Sur.

Before her corpse was embalmed, the family checked it and found bruises on her body. “My daughter’s cadaver has bruises all over her body. That could be the consequence of maltreatment she went through to her second employer," Velasco said.

While the family members checked the corpse, Ana Fe's youngest son, 5-year-old James Bryan, asked them to wake up his mother so they could hug each other. 

“We don’t know what to do and how to explain to a 5-year-old boy that his mother would no longer wake up and could no longer kiss and hug him. That he is motherless forever,” Velasco said between sobs.

Ana Fe’s remains were brought to their home in the remote village of Binobong in Pili town, which has an unpaved and muddy road. Her family lives in an unfinished, partially concrete home with a dirt floor and one shared room.

Ana Fe’s eldest son, 18-year-old Leejan Mark, is in Grade 12 while Steven, 16, is in Grade 9. Both studied at Binobong High School. James Bryan is a kindergarten student at Pili Central School.

Justice

Construction worker Ferdinand Bania, Ana Fe’s husband, said that he would like his wife's remains to undergo an autopsy to verify the cause of her death, but they couldn't afford it.

A medical report from the King Khalid Hospital in Saudi Arabi said that Ana Fe died of an acute cerebrovascular accident or a stroke. Ana Fe's family, however, doubted this finding.

“If government officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs will help me out, I will pursue the case against the employers of my wife. But, if there’s nobody willing to help us, I could not do anything about because I don’t have the capacity to pursue the case,” Ferdinand said.

Ana Fe reportedly died after working for her second employer. It was found out that on September 23, she started working for her second employer for 3 days.

After the end of her 3-day duty at the second employer, her first employer awaited her return. But she was later found already dead in the hospital.

Ferdinand said that on October 4, he received a video from his wife's friend which showed Ana Fe crying and asking for help – she was sick but her second employer was still forcing her to work. Unfortunately, the video was sent to him a week after Ana Fe died.

The OFW's family hopes that OWWA and the DFA will help them pursue a thorough investigation into Ana Fe's case so that justice will be served.

Fatima Dazal, an officer of the OWWA regional office here, said they have yet to track down the name of Ana Fe's second employer.

Based on the records of OWWA and the POEA regional office in Bicol, there are 53,808 active members and 120,021 inactive members, or a total of 173,829 OFWs from the region as of June 2017.

Among the 6 provinces of Bicol, Camarines Sur has the highest number of OFWs with 71,770, followed by Albay with 45,082, Sorsogon with 20,694, Camarines Norte with 18,093, Masbate with 10,746, and Catanduanes with 7,444. – Rappler.com

 
 
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'Don't let Duterte's minions use you,' De Lima tells new state witness Ragos

DRUG CASES. Senator Leila De Lima wave to supporters as she arrives for her hearing on the case filed against her on the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison at the Muntinlupa RTC on October 13, 2017. Rappler file photo

 
 
 
 
 
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MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima called on her former subordinate, Rafael Ragos and another co-accused, former boyfriend Ronnie Dayan, to “listen to their conscience” and “not allow themselves to be used by Duterte’s minions.”

De Lima made the statement on Saturday, November 18, days after the Department of Justice dropped the charges against Ragos, former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Ragos will now turn witness against De Lima and Dayan.

Ragos and Dayan allegedly collected grease money from convicts inside the New Bilibid Prison to fund De Lima’s senatorial campaign. The BuCor and Bilibid are both under the DOJ, which De Lima headed for over 5 years under the previous administration.

In a statement, De Lima said Ragos turning witness is “suspicious and fishy,” as if there was a “done deal…for more lies.”

Alam ko na alam nila [Ragos and Dayan] na inosente ako, at gawa-gawa lang ang mga kaso laban sa akin. Pakinggan sana nila ang kanilang konsensiya. Magpakatotoo sila. Magpakalalaki sila. Huwag na silang magsinungaling. Huwag silang magpagamit sa mga kampon ni Duterte,” said the senator.

(I know that Ragos and Dayan know I am innocent, that these cases against me are all made up. I hope they listen to their conscience. They should be true to themselves. They should man up. They should not lie. They shouldn't let themselves be used by Duterte’s minions.)

De Lima is in jail for illegal drug charges filed before a Muntinlupa court.

Ragos and other witnesses for the prosecution, some of them Bilibid convicts, had earlier claimed that they gave and collected money for De Lima in 2012, allegedly to fund her senatorial bid. De Lima’s camp had rejected this claim. 

De Lima was – and continues to be – among Duterte’s loudest critics. She and her allies have repeatedly said that the the allegations against her are all false, and intended to silence her. (READ: The public trial of Leila de Lima)

A neophyte senator, De Lima led a Senate probe into allegations of extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s bloody drug war. She was kicked out as chairman of the Senate justice committee. Senator Richard Gordon later took on the post and released a report saying that neither Duterte not the state had a hand in apparent summary killings in the drug war. – Rappler.com

 
 
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A year after Marcos burial, minority senators honor protesters as 'true heroes'

TRUE HEROES'. Protesters against the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani converge to voice their collective outrage. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler 

 
 
 
 
 
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MANILA, Philippine – A year after former president Ferdinand Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, minority senators honored the "true heroes" who expressed outrage against the hero’s burial of the late dictator.

“On this day, let us choose to remember not the burial but the people who rose to the call: protesters who showed a strong sense of hope, pride, and solidarity,” the senators said in a statement on Saturday, November 18. (READ: TIMELINE: The Marcos burial controversy)

 

They are Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 18, 2016, a week after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of his hero's burial. The private burial rites were done in secret, as requested by the family, sparking condemnation from groups and personalities opposed to the hero's burial. (READ: Marcos a thief till the end, say senators

The secret burial triggered nationwide protests where "true heroes" converged, the minority senators said on Saturday. (IN PHOTOS, VIDEOS: A night of rage, camaraderie, purpose)

"While a false hero was being buried at the Heroes' Cemetery, true heroes were rising to the challenge and making their voices heard. All across the country, we saw the power of a people who never forgot the truth about this dictator. Crowds numbering in the thousands gathered to condemn the disrespect and utter shamelessness of the secret funeral," they said. – Rappler.com

 
 
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Negros Occidental town suspends classes as Mount Kanlaon emits sulfur fumes

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Classes were suspended in La Castellana town here on Friday, November 17, after Mount Kanlaon emitted sulfur fumes. 

Mount Kanlaon remained on Alert Level 2, or in “moderate level of unrest.”

 

On November 15, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status of Mount Kanlaon from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 after it recorded 279 volcanic earthquakes in the last 24 hours. 

The following day, on Thursday, Phivolcs recorded 210 volcanic earthquakes for 24 hours. 

Phivolcs, in its Friday advisory, said it only monitored 10 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours. 

However, residents in La Castellana town complained about the odor coming from the active volcano.

This prompted La Castellana Mayor Rhumyla Mangilimutan to order the suspension of classes in the 6 barangays, which were in the danger zones. These are Barangays Sag-ang, Mansalanao, Cabagnaan, Biaknabato, Masulog, and Puso. 

The mayor said classes suspension in other barangays were up to the discretion of the principal. 

She added the odor was gone Friday afternoon. 

Mangilimutan said the residents, especially in the danger zones, were already informed about the situation. 

The barangay leaders and the community-based disaster councils were also told to prepare and be on alert, she added.

She said school officials were also advised to be ready as their institutions will be utilized as evacuation centers. 

The mayor also said that food packs were being readied. 

For his part, Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, head of Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Division, said Phivolcs has checked the area, but has yet to release its findings. 

Caelian said even if the volcano's activities have dropped, it remained under Alert Level 2.

He explained only Phivolcs can lower its alert status, "until such time the volcano is stabilized based on their own parameters." 

Moreover, he said they coordinated with the Mount Kanlaon National Park superintendent for monitoring of the volcano’s activities. 

"We strengthen our communication. Whatever problems they encounter on the ground, we ask them to relay the information right away because they are within the proximity of the volcano," he said. 

He also appealed to the public to be careful when sharing information especially online about Mount Kanlaon as not to cause panic. 

He reminded the public to always verify with the right agencies or authorities whatever information they receive. 

Local government units in the province had already prepared a comprehensive contingency plan in case there will be major eruption. 

Mount Kanlaon is the highest point in the Visayas at 2,465 meters (8,087 feet) above sea level. It straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. – Rappler.com

 
 
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