Items filtered by date: Sunday, 17 December 2017

BI goes biometrics

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced the launching of a state-of-the-art, biometrics-based system for its computers in all international airports to modernize its operations and upgrade its capability to thwart the entry of undesirable aliens into the country.


​ BI Commissioner Jaime Morente disclosed that for two weeks now, BI personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been using the new software, called the border control information system (BCIS), in processing all international passengers entering and exiting the premiere ports.

​ “A major feature of this new system is that aside from speeding up the processing time for passengers, it is also capable of detecting attempts by undesirable aliens, such as wanted fugitives and terrorists, to enter the country even if they come in as impostors or in disguise,” Morente said.

​ He explained that the BCIS software requires computers to be equipped with cameras and finger scan device that all passengers lining up for immigration inspection must go through every time they travel in or out of the country.

​ “Each time a passenger’s face is captured by camera and his fingers scanned, the results are automatically cross-matched with the passport image and images in the BI database where personal details of persons with derogatory records are stored,” the BI chief added.

According to BI port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas, the BCIS is also interconnected with the database of the Interpol and the Australian immigration department, thus individuals who are in these agencies’ wanted list will be caught if any of them attempts to enter the country.

​ “With this system, the use of fraudulent travel documents and disguising one’s physical appearance will soon become inutile,” Mariñas said.

Mariñas also revealed that the BCIS was previously pilot-tested in several airports in the provinces.

​ In fact, he said the new system first became operational in the airports of Mactan-Cebu, Clark, Kalibo, Davao, and Laoag before it was introduced at the NAIA.

Mariñas stated that the new system is now being used in all international ports nationwide.


Lobregat: 3 major bills for Zamboanga approved

Rep. Celso L. Lobregat


The House of Representatives has approved three major House Bill (HB) proposed by Zamboanga City 1st District Rep Celso Lobregat that seeks to convert the Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College into a state university and the Labuan Public Hospital (LPH), in Zamboanga City into a Level II General Hospital; and to increase the bed capacity of Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) from 500 to 800.

Lobregat said the three HBs which Congress approved on Monday were immediately transmitted to Senate and were received by the Senate on Tuesday, December 12.

Lobregat said that HB 6741 that seeks the conversion of the Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College to a University is the response of Zamboanga City as a center of education, trade and industry in Zamboanga Peninsula and the entirety of Southern Philippines to the ever-growing demand for quality technology education and strong technological researches.

It would provide more opportunities for the people of the region to avail of higher technology education.

On the other hand, the other two HBs approved by Congress seeks to provide for additional bed capacity to the ZCMC and LPH aimed to respond to the increasing number of patients seeking medical attention.

Lobregat added that during the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives for the extension of martial law in Mindanao on December 13, he was able to talk personally to Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on higher education concerning the ZCSPC Bill and Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate committee on health concerning the ZCMC and Labuan Public Hospital Bills.

Both senators gave a positive response to Lobregat. With the passage of these bills in the House and the transmittal to the Senate, we see a very, very good chance that these bills would be enacted into law in 2018, Lobregat said.

Lobregat expressed his gratitude to Speaker Pantaleon Bebot Alvarez and to the committee on rules chaired by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Senior Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc for prioritizing and expediting the passage of these bills on December 11.


Duterte sets flying visits to Urduja-damaged areas


President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a message during the Christmas Party of the members of the media during at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City City on December 15, 2017. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


President Duterte is set to visit on Monday areas damaged by typhoon “Urduja” to aid survivors and assess the damage caused by the tropical storm.

Duterte said on Sunday he would visit Biliran Island and other areas in the Visayas damaged by the typhoon to find out how to improve government response efforts.

He noted reports of bridges being destroyed due to the strong rampage of floodwater.

“I have to fly to the places where dumaan ‘yung typhoon ( where the typhoon crossed). There’s so much destruction there. There are places na-cut ‘yung bridge (where the bridge was split in half),” Duterte said.

“I would like to see for myself what government can do better than what they are — these guys there are doing now,” he added. His visit is scheduled at 2:45 p.m., according to official Malacañang schedule.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, said he will accompany Duterte, along with the secretaries of the departments of Labor, Health, Defense, Public Works and Highways, and Social Welfare and Development.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the government will continue monitoring the situation and that vital services will continue to be undertaken even during the Yuletide season.

“Vital services, such as preparedness and response to disasters or calamities shall continue with their operations even during holidays,” Roque said in a statement.

“The Department of National Defense, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and the Office of Civil Defense, in coordination with concerned agencies of the government,, is closely monitoring any possible weather disturbance and is working round the clock to render the necessary services,” he added.

According to Roque, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has mobilized relief operations in the affected parts of the country.

“DSWD-OIC Secretary Emmanuel Leyco assured that his agency has a stockpile of 368,000 family packs containing food and non-food items worth P393 million and available standby funds amounting to P245 million.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar earlier assured the public, especially those in affected areas, that the government is on top of the situation.

“What we really want to impress among the people is for them not to worry because government relief services are continuing,” he said in an interview over DzMM.

“This is very unfortunate, but be assured that the government is on top of the situation,” he added.

Typhoon “Urduja” struck Eastern Visayas over the weekend, prompting the city governments of Tacloban and Ormoc to declare a state of calamity due to flooding.

In Biliran Island, landslides triggered by the typhoon were reported to have killed 26 people, with at least 21 people still missing according to their local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The typhoon forced almost 88,000 residents in the Visayas region to evacuate due to the heavy rains.


Observe smoke-free holiday, Pinoys urged

Smokers should allow their families and friends to enjoy the holidays without exposing themselves to risks posed by tobacco smoking, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president Emer Rojas said. File
MANILA, Philippines — A group of cancer survivors yesterday urged the public, particularly cigarette smokers, to observe a smoke-free holiday.

Smokers should allow their families and friends to enjoy the holidays without exposing themselves to risks posed by tobacco smoking, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president Emer Rojas said.
“Let us stop smoking, especially during Christmas parties,” Rojas said in a statement.

He said the best gift one can give to friends and loved ones this Christmas is to protect them from the harm caused by second hand smoke.

Rojas said it would be healthy if smokers would quit not only during the holidays but for good.

“The traditional New Year’s resolution will be a good chance for those who have been wanting to quit smoking,” he said.

The group urged local government units and law enforcement agencies to strictly enforce the nationwide smoking ban and help smokers quit.


Teen inmate bolts QC jail

Seven jail guards were relieved from their posts following the escape of JR Mananquil, who was detained on charges of car theft and illegal possession of firearms on Dec. 7, city jail warden Superintendent Ermelito Moral said. Michael Varcas
7 jail guards suspended

MANILA, Philippines — An 18-year-old inmate escaped from the Quezon City jail by climbing a spiral staircase in the detention facility before dawn yesterday.

Seven jail guards were relieved from their posts following the escape of JR Mananquil, who was detained on charges of car theft and illegal possession of firearms on Dec. 7, city jail warden Superintendent Ermelito Moral said.

The jail officers are Senior Inspector David Jambalos, SJO4 Remegino Mina, SJO1 Dominador Zacarias, JO2 Antonio Ravago and JO1s Verdion Sayson, Ronnie Abugadie and Jhomer Balilawas.

Moral said Mananquil was able to escape by jumping from the jail’s perimeter fence, a spot where Balilawas was supposed to be posted between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Probers said they found blood on the barbed wires with a 10-foot drop from where the inmate escaped.

Chief Superintendent Dennis Rocamora, director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) National Capital Region office, ordered the relief of the jail guards to give way to an investigation into Mananquil’s escape.

“We will wait for the results of the probe. But definitely charges will be filed against those responsible for the escape,” Rocamora said.

He urged Mananquil’s relatives to cooperate in the probe.

BJMP chief Director Deogracias Tapayan ordered a manhunt for Mananquil.

Tapayan also placed the BJMP on full alert to ensure that no jailbreak will occur during the holidays.

Mananquil was committed to the city jail last week after he was arrested last August for allegedly stealing a motorcycle along with two other suspects.


AFP: 2 militants eyed as Hapilon’s successors

Ground troops are pursuing the group headed by the two terrorists, according to Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. Roel Pareño/File
ZAMBOANGA CITY , Philippines — Two militants are reportedly being eyed to replace slain Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the military said over the weekend.

Ground troops are pursuing the group headed by the two terrorists, according to Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr.

Hapilon was said to be the “emir” in Southeast Asia of the Islamic State.

Galvez declined to identify the two to avoid giving publicity to the group and its followers.

“Yes, there are two possible listed replacements, but we refuse to identify them because... it will create hype,” he said.

Galvez gave the assurance that whoever would be picked between the two would suffer the same fate as Hapilon, who was killed along with Omarkhayam Maute during the Marawi battle.

Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Earlier, sources said that Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama and Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco were being eyed to succeed Hapilon.

Baco was reported killed during the Marawi battle, but the military is still verifying the information.

Indama’s group, which is based in Basilan, is known for kidnapping activities.


Legarda open to DSWD post after term ends in 2019

DSWD? Senator Loren Legarda says she is open to a post at the Department of Social Welfare and Development after her term ends in 2019. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Loren Legarda is open to a post at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) after her term ends in 2019.

Asked about it, Legarda said she would want to have "very strong oversight functions" over an agency taking care of the people.

"Can I say, I am thinking about it?" Legarda said in an interview on ANC on Monday, December 18.

"I am not certain whether I am allowed to comment on that on national television but my being mum about it would probably spill the beans. Let me just say that I would want to exercise very strong oversight functions over a department that is very important that takes care of the needs of the people," Legarda added.

Directly asked if she is open to it, the senator said the DSWD is a "very important" department that takes care of the "most vulnerable" sector.

"Just like I do oversight functions with all other government departments... but this is a very important department that should take care of the poorest and the most vulnerable populations like what is happening now with [Tropical Depression] Urduja," Legarda said.

She did not answer, however, when asked if President Rodrigo Duterte has asked her to become his next DSWD secretary. Instead, Legarda talked about her job as Senate finance committee chairperson.

"All I can say is that I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to serve as a [chairperson] of finance and I think the President hopefully appreciates the work we do, not just myself but the whole Senate, and I hope to continue and finish the 2019 budget which is a year from now. Let's take it from there," Legarda said.

Duterte earlier told reporters that he made an informal offer to a lady senator he refused to name. The offer came "long before" the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected then DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo in August.

In October, when rumors of the President's offer reached her, Legarda said she intends to finish her term as senator and serve as chairperson of the committees on finance, foreign relations, and climate change.

Duterte has yet to appoint a new DSWD chief 4 months after Taguiwalo was rejected. The President has so far only appointed an officer-in-charge, Undersecretary Emmanuel Leyco.

A high-ranking source in Malacañang said the President has indeed made the offer and is just waiting for Legarda to end her term. –


Urduja weakens; tail-end of a cold front brings rain

Satellite image as of December 18, 11 am. Image courtesy of NOAA

MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak) further weakened late Monday morning, December 18, after crossing the province of Palawan.

In a bulletin issued past 11 am on Monday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Urduja is already 90 kilometers north northwest of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, moving west toward the West Philippine Sea at 18 kilometers per hour (km/h).

The tropical depression now has maximum winds of 45 km/h from the previous 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 60 km/h from the previous 90 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Only Palawan remains under signal number 1. PAGASA said scattered rains will persist in the province, so residents "must undertake appropriate measures against flooding and landslides and coordinate with their local disaster risk reduction and management offices."

Sea travel is also not advised in Palawan. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Urduja made landfall in the country 6 times:

San Policarpo, Eastern Samar – 1:30 pm, Saturday, December 16
Mobo, Masbate – 10 am, Sunday, December 17
Sibuyan Island – 12 noon, Sunday, December 17
Malay, Aklan – 6 pm, Sunday, December 17
Cuyo Island, Palawan – 11 pm, Sunday, December 17
Taytay, Palawan – 6 am, Monday, December 18
Urduja, which was earlier a tropical storm before weakening into a tropical depression, left at least 26 people dead and 46 others missing, confirmed the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Monday.

Urduja dumped heavy rain that triggered floods and landslides as well as disrupted travel, with its effects first felt in Eastern Visayas. (LOOK: Houses in Eastern Samar flooded due to Urduja)

Below are the top 5 areas which received the most rainfall in terms of millimeters (mm) last Friday, December 15.

Catarman, Northern Samar – 347.4 mm (normal monthly rainfall: 628.2 mm)
Catbalogan, Samar – 331.2 mm (normal monthly rainfall: 322.7 mm)
Juban, Sorsogon – 162 mm (no amount given for normal monthly rainfall)
Borongan, Eastern Samar – 155 mm (normal monthly rainfall: 674.8 mm)
Guiuan, Eastern Samar – 109.6 mm (normal monthly rainfall: 440.1 mm)
In a 24-hour period that began last Thursday, December 14, Guiuan had received nearly two months' worth of rainfall in just one day, making it the hardest-hit overall, so far.

In a statement on Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave an assurance that "vital services, such as preparedness and response to disasters or calamities shall continue with their operations even during holidays."

Roque said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has a stockpile of 368,000 family food packs worth P223 million, food and non-food items worth P393 million, and available standby funds amounting to P245 million.

The DSWD earlier said around 221,386 persons or 50,653 families across 4 regions are affected. (READ: #ReliefPH: Help victims of Urduja)

Based on its latest forecast track, Urduja will leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Tuesday, December 19.


Low pressure area

Meanwhile, the low pressure area (LPA) outside PAR – which used to be a tropical depression – is now located 1,500 kilometers east of Mindanao.

PAGASA advised the public and local officials to continue monitoring updates on the LPA, since it could still redevelop into a tropical cyclone and enter PAR before Christmas.

"Kapag malayo pa 'yung system, very unstable, very uncertain, kaya hindi pa tayo makapagbigay ng direktang sagot kung ano ang mangyayari," said PAGASA forecaster Obet Badrina in a news briefing late Monday morning.

(When the system is still far, it's very unstable, very uncertain, that's why we can't give a definite answer yet on what will happen.)

In the meantime, the tail-end of a cold front is also bringing light to heavy rain to Calabarzon, Bicol, Aurora, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, and Romblon on Monday. Residents of these areas should watch out for possible flash floods.

The northeast monsoon is also affecting the rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, which is experiencing scattered rainshowers. Due to the surge of the northeast monsoon, temperatures are also lower.

The Visayas and Mindanao will only have isolated thunderstorms. –

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