Items filtered by date: Friday, 08 December 2017

‘Lodi’ vs ‘lies’: Art-media group to challenge Duterte info machine


The founding members of “Lodi” or Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity give their own version of the fist-pump—as though to counter President Duterte’s signature pose—during the group’s launch in Quezon City on Friday.—NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Citing threats to freedom of expression and the “disinformation campaigns” waged by forces funded by taxpayers money, a group of artists, writers, journalists and media workers has served notice to the Duterte administration of their plan to be a “Lodi.”

The term means “idol” in today’s youth lingo, but it also stands for “Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity” — an arts and media alliance that is expected to scrutinize or fact-check pronouncements from Mr. Duterte, his aides or his supporters who command an online following.

“Duterte himself has led the assault, aided by a well-oiled machinery of disinformation peddlers and digital storm troopers,” the group said in a statement marking their launch in Quezon City on Friday.

‘Well-funded army’

Among its founding members are award-winning film director Joel Lamangan, fellow filmmaker Sari Dalena, journalist Inday Espina Varona, blogger Tonyo Cruz, screenwriter Bonifacio Ilagan and theater actress Mae Paner, aka “Juana Change.”

Lodi noted that the President’s attacks on media companies whom he had accused of unfair reportage, for example, have been “amplified by a well-funded social media army, in part underwritten by taxpayers.”

“It is not enough to call for a halt to government-led disinformation campaigns,” the group said. “We will expose these deceptions.”

In a press conference, Lamangan said the “lies” being spread under the current administration were proving to be even worse than what the Marcos dictatorship used to keep itself in power, largely because of the internet and social media.

Brocka’s words

“Lies now are more widespread,” said Lamangan, an activist who was accused of subversion, jailed for four years, and sentenced to die by firing squad under martial law. “So we must begin to be a lodi, or an idol, of the youth in standing up for the truth.”

“Now is the time to fight all forms of suppression and bravely heed the words of the late director Lino Brocka that ‘the artist is also a public person,’” Lamangan said.

Paner said the times call for artists “to engage those who are silent” on the issues hounding the Duterte administration, particularly the human rights violations and the disregard for due process in the antidrug campaign.

“My art is my protection, my right, and my duty,” said Paner, who has mounted a play titled “Tao Po” based on the stories of drug war victims. “The more I am out there, the more I do what I feel is my right, the more protected I feel.”

Sona protest

Paner was earlier threatened with criminal charges from the Armed Forces of the Philippines after she staged a protest wearing a military uniform in July, in time for Mr. Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Cruz, who serves as the group’s spokesperson, added: “The people, artists and writers should consider if the President is in favor of our freedom to think, if he is in favor of (giving) freedom to film directors, writers and bloggers.”

Varona said the new alliance does not intend to silence those who hold views different from theirs, but “to combat the lies and any attempt to intimidate the people.”

The group is expected to join the rally marking International Human Rights Day at Bonifacio Shrine in Manila on Sunday.


Coffee and longevity

Twelve years ago, we wrote that drinking coffee reduced the risk for type II diabetes, based on a new study then (involving 42,000 healthy men and 84,000 health women from 1980 through 1998) by the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on January 6, 2004.

Compared to those who did not drink coffee, men who had more than 6 cups of caffeinated coffee a day lowered the risk of developing Type II diabetes by 50%. Among women, there was a 30% reduction in the risk.

Caffeinated coffee was found to be more beneficial than the decaffeinated or the hyped-up mocha, cappuccino, or latte, etc., variety.

Unclear rationale

The exact mechanism is still unclear. In another research (Nurses Health Study), it shows that the 2000 women coffee drinkers in its survey had significantly lower (13%-14%) levels of C-peptide hormone, a component of insulin in our body, compared to non-coffee drinkers. Higher level of C-peptide, which indicates the body is unable to use insulin (called insulin resistance) are linked to the increased risk of developing adult-onset diabetes. The good effect was more apparent among obese and overweight women, 22% and 18%, respectively. So, if coffee reduces C-peptide, then the risk is reduced.

Some hormones

This is still not fully understood. Both regular and decaffeinated coffees have a lot of antioxidants in them, like chlorogenic acid (the ingredient that gives the “addicting” coffee flavor), phyto-estrogens, and magnesium. These chemicals improve sensitivity to insulin and may play a vital role in lowering adult onset diabetes. Caffeine itself is also known to affect insulin secretion.

How much coffee?

The Harvard study stated 6 or more cups per day. The research on the same subject in Finland (which has the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world), involving 15,000 healthy men and women (ages 35-64), as reported in The Journal of American medical Association, showed that women who consumed 10 or more cups a day had 79% lower risk, and men, about 55%.

Effect on longevity

Two recent major international studies (US and European) suggested that coffee lovers may also live a longer life compared to those who do not imbibe coffee.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College of London, which reviewed more than half a million people with variable habits and customs across 10 European countries, was the first study. This showed “those who drank about three cups a day tended to live longer than non-coffee drinkers; they also had a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases.”

The second one, done in the United States, involved 180,000 subjects of different ethnic, social, and career backgrounds. The findings revealed that drinking coffee “benefits longevity whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated…and coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory and kidney disease.” One cup a day drinkers “were 12 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn't drink coffee; those who drank two or three cups per day saw an even higher 18 percent reduced risk of death.”

"We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association," stated Veronica Setiawan, lead researcher and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California.

Drinking coffee is reported to impart anti-oxidant benefits and may improve liver function too, but it is not recommended for pregnant women and children. Also, drinking any very hot beverage in general is suspected to increase the risk for cancer of the esophagus (food pipe).

A professor at the University of Cambridge, David Spiegelhalter,described the research as "huge in size and carefully done," but nevertheless unable to prove cause and effect. "If these estimated reductions in all-cause mortality really are causal, then an extra cup of coffee every day would on average extend the life of a man by around three months, and a woman by around a month," he added.

While drinking coffee appears to help in reducing the risk for Type II diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, and now claimed to prolong life, more clinical studies are still needed to make this an evidence-based medical fact.

Coffee trivia

Second to water, coffee is one of the world’s most consumed beverages. Over 16 billion pounds of beans are produced in 70 countries annually. More than 2.25 billion cups are consumed each year globally.

The Netherlands (population: 17,035,938) is the highest consumer of coffee in the world at 260.4 liters per capita, compared to 115.2 per capita in the United States (population: 325,416,914), where about 400 million cups of coffee are consumed each day. Almost 85 percent of Americans drink coffee daily. Ninety-three percent of households in the Philippines (population: 105,589,888) drink coffee, the country consuming 100,000 metric tons year. Coffee, “first brought to the Philippines by a Franciscan friar in 1749, is the most consumed beverage next to water, and second most bought item next to sauces and seasonings,” according to one study.

In the United States, McDonald’s “is the leading coffee seller, with 14.32% of the market…second place goes to Dunkin' Donuts with 13.75% share and 185.3 million servings, followed by Starbucks with 11.80% share and 159.1 million servings.”

How many cups are safe?

Since the long term effects of coffee (especially caffeinated) on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, other illnesses, and longevity are not totally clear, the so called “safe level” becomes an individual issue. One cup of regular coffee may be too much for one person, who might develop heart beat irregularity, like palpitation, or insomnia, when taken before bedtime. Three cups a day may not be enough to satisfy another. This should be tailored to personal tolerance. The final word on this issue is not settled, but the preliminary results as presented above are most encouraging. More long term studies are definitely needed before this becomes a medical dogma.

In the meantime, let me finish my second cup of Columbian espresso.


The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities, and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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When kids don’t know they are victims of sexual abuse

ABUSE. Children as young as 12 years old fall victim to online sex trafficking. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippines – Kim’s* big smile and hearty laughter are sources of comfort at the center she shares with fellow victims of abuse. She is the resident jester in a place where young girls are striving to rebuild their lives one day at a time.

Her sunny disposition belies her dark past. When Kim was 13, her neighbor persuaded her to work for him. She was promised a salary and free education in exchange for minimal work where she would only look at the camera and say hi. Kim wanted to help her parents so she agreed. 


Her first few sessions turned out to be that way. But 3 months into the job, things got worse.

“‘Pag tagal, siguro 3 months, umabot po sa punto [na] ginamit niya po ako sa harap ng kamera….Umiyak po ako kasi since first time ko po iyon,” she recalled.

(Later on, after 3 months, it came to a point when he abused me sexually in front of the camera. I cried because it was my first time.)

“Parang itinuturing ko rin siyang tatay ko, tapos iniisip ko tatay ko siya ginawa niya sa akin ang ganoong bagay. Pero ‘di ko alam na masama pala iyon (I treated him as a father and I was realizing then that it was like my father abused me. But I didn’t know then that it was a bad thing)," she said.

Even then, she didn't know that she was being sexually abused. Kim was groomed to think that what she was doing was something normal. Her handler later pimped her to foreign customers who would fly to Manila to meet with her personally. Clients would even take her to different parts of the Philippines for a "vacation."

The promise of a good salary and education never came since she was only given P500 or P1,000 from time to time. But Kim continued working until she was rescued by watchdog International Justice Mission (IJM).She was already 15 then.

Kim, now 18, is in a home hosted by non-governmental organization (NGO) Visayan Forum.

Young victims

Karen Navera, a social worker at the Visayan Forum, says that the most challenging part of rehabilitating victims of child trafficking is making them understand that they were abused.

“When it comes to children, the first point is that they are not aware of human trafficking. The second point is they are being groomed….The usual entry point of a trafficker is offering help so most of its recruits are from poor families that really have nothing to eat,” she explains in Filipino.

In Kim’s case, for example, the recruiter allowed her to live in his house and eat for free. That’s why she could not realize that the person was already abusing her. Navera said that traffickers, in most cases, are people victims trust.

Sometimes, they are even the child’s parents, siblings, or relatives. These are the most difficult cases to assist because the victims find it hard to trust other people.

Children are the most vulnerable in the sex trade. The Council for the Welfare of Children’s State of the Filipino Children Report in 2015 showed that 35% of children below 18 years old are living in poverty.

A Unicef study in 2016, meanwhile, said that 8 in 10 Filipino youth are in danger of online sexual abuse. The study entitled “Perils and Possibilities: Growing up online” estimated that there are 75,000 “child predators” online who are trying to get in touch with children in the Philippines.

The study also noted that the Department of Justice’s Cybercrime Office received 12,374 tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children based in the United States.

Victims of child sex trafficking, based on IJM’s rescue records, range from two months to 12 years old.  


Kim is now piecing her life together as she studies through the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS).

DREAM. Kim dreams to become a photographer someday. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

DREAM. Kim dreams to become a photographer someday. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler 

Besides being a student, Kim is also an ambassador for the campaign “iFight to End End Human Trafficking and Slavery.” Through this, she is able to share her experiences in public engagement to inform girls like her of this underground trade.

“Kinukwento ko po iyong mga kuwento ko para mainspire iyong ibang tao saka para rin po magbigay ng awareness sa kanila tungkol sa human trafficking kasi maraming kabataan ang naabuso tapos ‘di nila alam iyong human trafficking,” she says.

(I tell them my story so that I could inspire other people and also to give awareness about human trafficking because many young people are being abused but they don’t know what human trafficking is.)

The rehabilitation of victims is a key component of the fight against human trafficking.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) handles the rehabilitation of victims rescued by the Inter-Agency Council against Child Pornography (IACACP), which is composed of several national government agencies and NGOs.

The DSWD has a center for sex trafficking victims and has also partnered with NGOs such as the Visayan Forum for the provision of home, counselling therapy, and programs to reintegrate those rescued back to society. (READ: PH meets US standards vs trafficking for 2nd straight year

“If they aren’t able to cope from the trauma, it will lead to sexual behavior. It could be a part of their system that abuse is normal. They can be second generation trafficker, which we see in some cases that we rehabilitate,” explains IACAP lead secretariat Christian Bioc.–

*Not her real name


PNP announces new drug enforcement chief

NO STRANGER TO DRUG WAR. Senior Superintendent Albert Ferro is set to be the new DEG chief. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler 

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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police on Saturday, December 9, announced the designation of Superintendent Albert Ferro as the PNP's new Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) chief.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos made the announcement on Saturday, or 3 days after President Rodrigo Duterte formally announced the PNP's return to his war on drugs. 


Ferro replaces Chief Superintendent Joseph Adnol, who earlier said that cops do not need body cameras for transparency in their operations, since God sees everything anyway.


Carlos said Adnol will head the Philippine National Police Acadamy (PNPA), to replace Chief Superintendent Randolf Delfin who had just retired.

Ferro is no stranger to the unit. He used to head the DEG's previous incarnation, the now dissolved Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG).

The AIDG was the elite group of cops mandated to target high-value targets in the PNP's bid to eradicate drugs. It was dissolved following the Jee Ick Joo scandal, with Ferro's own menin the eye of the storm. 

Ferro was moved to the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office after the dissolution of the AIDG.

The DEG is much like the AIDG, but it has more personnel and has its own intelligence group to weed out erring cops. (READ: What's the new PNP Drug Enforcement Group like?)

New assignments

Carlos also announcement the new assignments of the following senior police officers:

  • Chief Superintendent Cedrick Train to the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations - Western Mindanao (DIPO-WM)
  • Chief Superintendent Marcelo Morales to the Soccsksargen (Region 12) police
  • Chief Superintendent Rodelio Jocson to the PNP Maritime Group
  • Chief Superintendent Renato Angara to the PNP Information Technology Management Service
  • Senior Superintendent Petronelli Baldebrin to the PNP Cagayan Valley (Region 2) police

The movements were apparently triggered by the retirement of veteran cops Director Manuel Felix of the PNP DIPO-WM.

The changes also come at a time when top PNP officials are preparing new guidelines in their drug war, as Duterte reiterated that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency should lead all anti-narcotics operations.

Ferro and Adnol, along with the other cops, will formally assume their new posts on Monday, December 11, after a ceremony led by PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

On Monday, the PNP's command group, now with Ferro included, are set to talk about the new drug war guidelines.–


Diocese of Legazpi forms coalition to stop killings, promote human rights

ANDUROG SA DERECHOS. A coalition to stop killings and promote human rights in the Bicol region. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler


LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Because of increasing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the country, the Diocese of Legazpi led the formation of a multisectoral coalition to promote human rights, stop the killings, and start the healing in the countryside.

Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said that the “Andurog sa Derechos (Support to Rights)" is a multi-stakeholder coalition of government agencies, civil society groups, and faith-based organizations in the Bicol region for the promotion of human rights.

Formed ahead of International Human Rights Day celebrated on December 10, the coalition seeks to create a collaborative mechanism among its members to address cases of killings and human rights violations, respond to the needs of victims and their families, and educate the public on the need to uphold and defend human rights.

The Social Action Center of the Diocese of Legazpi led by Fr Rex Paul Arjona, and the Commission on Human Rights regional office led by Arlene Alangco are the lead convenors of the coalition.

Arjona said the coalition seeks to do the following:

Provide assistance to families of victims of killings
Provide a venue for the public to report cases of killings and rights violations
Facilitate immediate action by institutions and concerned government agencies on cases of killings and rights violations
Document and monitor cases involving drug-related killings either by state or non-state actors
Build the capacity of human rights defenders and coalition members to raise public awareness on human rights, illegal drugs, and killings
Arjona said that there was a similar initiative in 2009, at the height of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of leftist activists during the Arroyo administration.

The new coalition formed on Thursday, December 7, includes the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations here.

“We bring together the legal group, the PNP, NBI, CHR and our own church ministry organization including the civil society groups so that we can work together towards addressing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings,” Baylon said.

He also expressed hope that the multisectoral effort would help victims as well as policemen charged with "unfair accusations."

Superintendent Frande Echaloce, PNP Bicol community relations officer assistant chief, said that from July 1, 2016, to January 31, 2017, 117 drug personalities were killed in anti-illegal drug operations across the Bicol region.

The highest cases of fatalities were reported in Albay province with 32 cases, followed by Camarines Norte with 21, Camarines Sur with 19, Naga City with 9, Sorsogon with 5, Masbate with 2, and Catanduanes with one case. –


Ex-junkie slain, 8 held for drugs

Construction worker Edmon Penano, 43, died at the scene after he was shot by a lone assailant in Sugartown Subdivision in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City at around 4:15 p.m., Batasan police station commander Superintendent Rossel Cejas said. File
MANILA, Philippines — A man said to be a former drug user was killed and eight others were arrested for drugs in Metro Manila on Friday.

Construction worker Edmon Penano, 43, died at the scene after he was shot by a lone assailant in Sugartown Subdivision in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City at around 4:15 p.m., Batasan police station commander Superintendent Rossel Cejas said.
A woman who went out of her house after she heard several gunshots saw Penano dead on the ground.

The assailant was gone when the witness went to check.

Meanwhile, probers retrieved six bullet casings and a deformed fired bullet at the scene.

Based on their investigation, Cejas said Penano was previously hooked on illegal drugs.

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“According to the family of the victim, he was a former drug dependent,” he said.

Police investigators are looking for other witnesses who could provide clues on the assailant’s identity.

Also on Friday, seven people were arrested in separate drug busts, Quezon City Police District director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said.

Wilmer Vingco, 31; Renz Ardaniel, 30; and Joselito Bonaobra, 36, were arrested in Barangay Sto. Domingo at around 12:30 p.m. Four sachets of shabu were seized from them.

Bryan Ponce, 34; Frankie Narvaja, 41; and Fernando Cruz, 44 were arrested in another sting in the same barangay at around 6 a.m. Three sachets of shabu and a sachet of dried marijuana leaves were found in their possession.

In Barangay Project 4, Michael Soriano, 37, was arrested after he sold shabu to an undercover operative at around 4:25 p.m. Three sachets of shabu were seized from Soriano.

In Mandaluyong City, suspected robber Richie Reyes, 26, yielded a sachet of shabu when he was arrested in Barangay Highway Hills at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday.

Police officers on patrol apprehended Reyes after he allegedly robbed a man who was waiting for a ride home along EDSA’s northbound lane.

They searched Reyes and found the victim’s cell phone in his backpack as well as a sachet of shabu and a knife.


Vietnamese captive’s remains recovered

The remains of Pham Minh Tuan, captain of the cargo ship MV Royal 16, were found in Sitio Kasulutan, Barangay Bus-Bus, Jolo, Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director, said yesterday. File
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — The corpse of the remaining Vietnamese hostage of the Abu Sayyaf was recovered in Sulu on Friday.
The remains of Pham Minh Tuan, captain of the cargo ship MV Royal 16, were found in Sitio Kasulutan, Barangay Bus-Bus, Jolo, Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director, said yesterday.

“The operation that resulted in the recovery of Tuan’s remains was an initiative of the Sulu police, Joint Task Force Sulu and police Anti-Kidnapping Group in Mindanao,” Mijares said.

Tuan was reportedly executed by Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Indang Susukan in an encounter with soldiers of the 41st Infantry Battalion in Barangay Upper Binuang, Talipao last Sept. 7.

“He was buried somewhere in Jolo…to mislead authorities,” Mijares said.

Local officials in Basilan said Tuan’s captors brought him to the province, but transferred him to Sulu due to pressure from Yakan villagers who helped the police and military fight the Abu Sayyaf.

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“Maybe the bandits thought they would get a big ransom in exchange for the release of the boat captain,” a source told The STAR.

Mijares said Tuan’s remains would be turned over to the Vietnamese embassy.

Tuan and five crewmembers of the cargo vessel were taken near Sibago island in Basilan on Nov. 11, 2016.

Hoang Vo, 22, escaped from his captors and was rescued last June 16 following an airstrike that targeted the hideout of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Furuji Indama.

The bandits beheaded Hoang Trung Thong and Hoang Van Hai. Their remains were recovered in Barangay Tumahubong, Sumisip town on July 5.

On July 8, the military found a bullet-riddled body believed to be that of Tran Khac Dung, alias Tran Viet Van, in Barangay Buhanginan in Patikul.

Do Trung Huie was rescued on Mataja island in Basilan last August.

3 Sayyaf men killed in clash

Meanwhile, three Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in an encounter with soldiers in Panamao town also on Friday.

Members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 clashed with around 20 bandits under the group of Radulan Sahiron in Sitio Buling-Buling, Barangay Suh at about 2:30 p.m.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, identified the fatalities as Peping Jamalul, brother-in-law of Sahiron; Aldi Abtahi, son of sub-leader Amlon, and Nelson Rajak.

Sobejana said soldiers recovered an M16 rifle and a .45-caliber pistol from the slain bandits.

Sobejana said they launched the operation after local government officials and villagers alerted them on the location of the bandits.

“We are grateful… to all peace-loving Tausugs who are positively responding to our call to end terrorism in Sulu,” he said.

Sobejana expressed optimism that the remaining bandits would be neutralized with the support of local government and community leaders.

Three foreigners and seven Filipinos remain in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.

Additional battalions were recently deployed in Sulu to finish off the bandits and rescue their remaining hostages. – With Roel Pareño


Boy dies in fall from 39th-floor condo unit

Maintenance personnel prepare to recover the body of Kim Do Young from the canopy of Two Serendra’s second-floor terrace yesterday. Images taken from the Facebook posts of Reinna Athena Obligar and Niwre Llauderes.
MANILA, Philippines — A four-year-old Korean died after he allegedly fell from a 39th-floor condominium unit at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig yesterday morning.

Kim Do Young allegedly fell from the balcony of their condominium unit at Two Serendra when he crawled onto a table and climbed the railing of the balcony.

His parents were reportedly in the unit at the time.
He landed on the canopy of the building’s terrace on the second floor, Southern Police District director Chief Superintendent Tomas Apolinario said.

The boy was rushed to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City, but was declared dead on arrival at around 12:05 p.m., he said.

“The condo management did not have any lapses, but the parents could be held liable for negligence,” Apolinario told The STAR.


Cop, 7 Marines hurt in Maguindanao explosions

Upi town in Maguindanao (Image from Google Maps)

UPI, Maguindanao – A police officer and seven Marines were injured in two explosions that rocked this upland town before dawn on Saturday.

PO2 Esmael Alabat of the Upi Municipal Police Station was seriously injured when a grenade fired from an M203 launcher landed on a roadside police outpost in Upi at about 12:15 a.m., according to Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, chief of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Officer.

Alabat, one of the police officers of the First Maneuver Platoon of the Provincial Public Safety Company, had shrapnel wounds in the head and body and was taken to a private hospital here.

Some Marines, who had secured the police officers and bomb experts after the blast, were heading toward Barangay Mirab, also in Upi, when another roadside explosion occurred at about 1 a.m.

Seven Marines were hurt by the second explosion – Maj. Romulo Ducay, Cpl. Ryan Cabual, Cpl. Arnel Jiun, Cpl. Oliver Albo, Cpl. Alvin Sangadan, Pfc. Johnny Panday, and Pfc. Gerwin Perez.

All of them are from the 5th Marine Battalion Landing Team.

They were taken to the Army’s Camp Siongco Hospital in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao for treatment.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and military officials are still trying to determine the perpetrators’ identities and their affiliation.


No basis to extend Rody’s martial law – lawmakers

“The projected extension of martial law in Mindanao is constitutionally infirm, both as to grounds and duration. Martial law can only be declared and its extension authorized in ‘case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it’,” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said. File
MANILA, Philippines — There is no basis for President Duterte to ask Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao, opposition congressmen said yesterday.

“The projected extension of martial law in Mindanao is constitutionally infirm, both as to grounds and duration. Martial law can only be declared and its extension authorized in ‘case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it’,” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said.
He said there is no more “actual invasion or rebellion” in Mindanao because the President himself had declared that Marawi had been liberated from local and foreign terrorists two months ago.

“Even the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admit only the existence of threats from remnants of terrorist groups who are reportedly recruiting fighters and regrouping to exact ‘vengeance’ against government forces,” he added.

He reminded the President, the military and the police that the writers of the present Constitution removed “threat or imminent danger of invasion or rebellion” as a ground for declaring or extending martial law because it was “contingent, nebulous and self-serving.”

“The Constitution envisions a short duration of martial law. The initial declaration must not exceed 60 days, and its extension is subject to the same constraints. An extension of one year as proposed by the police and military establishments constitutes perpetuity, which defies the Constitution,” Lagman stressed.

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“Safeguards against martial law and its extension are enshrined in the Constitution to protect civil liberties and preserve the rule of law,” he said.

Another opposition congressman, Tom Villarin of Akbayan, said the proposed grounds for martial law extension – potential terrorist threats and expediency in the rehabilitation of Marawi – “do not fall under the constitutional basis of actual rebellion or insurrection and when public safety so requires.”

“It is stretching our imagination and devoid of any constitutional basis. It puts primacy on fear rather than facts. Rehabilitation under martial law inhibits people participation, a critical and indispensable element for such to succeed,” he said.

He said an extended martial law “will also put in limbo the May 2018 barangay elections, which will now be put on hold due to such security concerns.”

“It will be a dangerous precedent and can justify expanding martial law all over the country, especially when other terror groups have been identified that operate outside Mindanao,” he added.

“It smacks of creeping authoritarian rule that the Duterte administration has planned when it attacked our democratic institutions and the rule of law, and promoting a culture of impunity,” Villarin stressed.

The military and the police have recommended that martial law in Mindanao be extended by one year due to continuing terrorist threats.

Marawi rehabilitation task force head Eduardo del Rosario, a retired military general, has supported the recommendation.

He said it would be difficult to undertake the reconstruction of the city if there were no martial rule, since the safety of contractors and others involved in the effort could not be assured.

Duterte declared martial law last May 23, when Muslim and foreign terrorists occupied parts of central Marawi. The declaration was good for 60 days, but before it expired, he asked Congress to extend it for six months until the end of this year.

On July 22, when the 60-day period was to end, members of the House of Representatives and Senate, voting 261-18 in a joint session, approved the President’s request.

The two chambers will have only a few days to act on a request to lengthen martial law. They are adjourning for their month-long Christmas vacation next weekend.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said security officials should brief senators about the situation in Mindanao and present “concrete evidence” to justify another extension of martial law.

Impact on image

Gatchalian said a declaration of martial law always has a negative impact on the country’s image before the international community. He said foreign investors might see it as an indication of instability.

“Our image internationally is we are unstable that is why we need martial law. We must show that we are stable, including in Mindanao,” Gatchalian said over radio dwIZ.

He also said he would like to hear from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) concerning reports of possible abuses by security forces in the enforcement of martial law in Mindanao.

“To move forward, the security cluster must present to Congress concrete evidence of a grave continuing security threat in Mindanao which clearly illustrates the need for an extension of martial law. I also expect the presentation of a detailed plan with a clear timetable and specific action points to neutralize this threat for good,” the senator said.

“Our countrymen in the southern Philippines have suffered under the long shadow of perpetual conflict for far too long. I am counting on this administration to come up with a viable strategy to finally bring the forever war in Mindanao to an end,” he added.

Gatchalian clarified he would support efforts to provide security forces with whatever they need to deal with threats, including the declaration of martial law in certain areas.

“If we need to act now to stop terrorism then let’s give them the ammunition to fight terrorism. But they really have to justify why they need another year (of martial law),” he said.

Sen. Richard Gordon, meanwhile, said that he fully supports the extension of martial law even though the siege of Marawi City by militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) was over.

Gordon said he believes the security threats or the possibility of another rebellion still exist.

He said it would be good if the military remains on high alert in Marawi City to ensure rehabilitation efforts are not disrupted by terror attacks.

Gordon noted that Paris remains under martial law even though the last terrorist attack in the city took place a long time ago. – With Marvin Sy

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