Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 06 June 2017

Kapatid for Marawi

NEGOSYO KAPATID: Angat Lahat By Joey Concepcion (The Philippine Star)

Saguiran Mayor Macmod Muti and Go Negosyo volunteer Joseph Castillo led the distribution of goods to all evacuees.
In this time of distress in our country caused by the recent acts of terror and violence in Marawi, we should all be one in praying that all these will be over. Marawi is the most populated city in ARMM region with more than 200,000 people including children and I do not think they deserve the danger they are experiencing for more than two weeks already.

To be able to share some hope and blessings, Go Negosyo decided to start a call for donations from our Kapatids who are all always ready to give and be part of a bigger solution.

After hearing the reports on Marawi and how our Maranao brothers needed assistance, we all sprung into action. Together with our Go Negosyo coordinator Ginggay Hontiveros, we called for the support of the big brothers. We launched the project: #KapatidForMarawi.

Numerous donations came from the following big brothers: RFM Corp., LBC led by Santi Araneta, Asia Brewery of Mike Tan, LandRover Club, SM Foundation led by Tessie Sy-Coson, Century Pacific of Chris Po, SL Agritech led by Henry Lim Bon Liong, and CDO Foodsphere of Corazon Dayro-Ong.

Medicines, pasta, milk and juices, water, canned goods, rice, and other essentials were donated by our Kapatids. Additionally, there are mats, blankets, and some clothes that are ready for distribution.

George Barcelon and Rex Daryanani led the participation of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Federation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry respectively to the project.

 

 

Members of the recently launched Alliance Towards Prosperity for All such as Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives of the Philippines, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, and others are all supportive of the Kapatid For Marawi initiative as well.

The distribution and transportation of products would have not been possible without the help of Joseph Castillo, Corporal Maglaum PA, Asec. Shalimar Candao, Operation Blessing, Angel Brigade, 4th ID Army Brigade Commander Major General Madrigal, COS Col. Andres Centino, CDO Mayor Oscar Moreno, Office of the CDO City Engineer and Paul Dominguez.

When our volunteer Joseph Castillo met some of our soldiers, he also handed some water and canned goods. I’m sure that this is just a temporary relief to our brave men but we hope this can give them additional strength.

These efforts of Go Negosyo Kapatids are part of our mission to bring prosperity alongside with our hopes of peace and harmony in Marawi City. Like our program Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu, we aim to help areas experiencing extreme poverty and conflict scale up through the development programs in each area.

We are one with the government in its mission to eradicate terrorism in the country. As one nation, we should unite in supporting our soldiers, policemen, and local government units in their fight against the Maute group. We cannot progress if we are facing such issues. Without peace, there is no prosperity. We cannot start any development if the area we wish to change is troubled with armed groups.

The President and his team will surely do their best to eradicate this threat in the country. We pray for comfort to the people of Marawi. May they find relief with the goods we have sent.

For interested donors to the #KapatidForMarawi, you may get in touch with Go Negosyo coordinator Ginggay Hontiveros at 0908 898 0428 / 0917 524 9957 or Gelle Jimena 0917 312 7984 or 0999 887 9276.

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| Hapilon, Maute occupy Marawi plan triggered AFP raid that led to clashes

By Kaye Imson, News5

Senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon planning with militants the attack on Marawi City. Photo from News5 video screenshot

 

MANILA, Philippines – The planned occupation of Marawi by Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute Group that was later found to have been captured on a cellphone camera triggered the May 23 military raid against the rebels in the Lanao del Sur capital, resulting in President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao and the ensuing clashes between government troops and the Islamist militants.

In a media interview late last month, Philippine Army 1st Infantry Division Commanding General Rolando Bautista said that two to three weeks before May 23, the military had received reports that “local terrorist groups will seize” the Lanao del Sur capital.

Thus on May 23, Bautista ordered the raid in Barangay Basak Malutlut, which began with conducting a zoning in the village, separating residents from outsiders and checking on who were bearing firearms.

He said the military was expecting to find Maute rebels during the zoning but was surprised when it was Hapilon who showed up, causing the operation to change its focus towards capturing the high-value target, reportedly the designated ISIS emir in Southeast Asia.

The military said the May 23 raid had nipped the planned occupation of Marawi in the bud.

“Nagawa nila ‘yong ibang part ng plano nila. Naposisyon nila ‘yong mga tao nila sa ilang lugar. Pero ‘yong grand plan nila, di nila na-execute dahil 10 percent lang ng Marawi ang kontrolado nila,” said Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesperson of the Armed Forces First Infantry Division.

[They were able to carry out parts of their plan. They were able to position their people in some areas. But they failed to execute their grand plan because they were only able to control 10 percent of Marawi.]

In the undated video, Hapilon and his group are seen discussing how they will seize the Lanao del Sur capital and Iligan City. The recording was discovered by government troops on a cellphone they had seized during the May 23 raid on a Marawi safe house where Hapilon and other rebels were allegedly hiding.

Also in the video with Hapilon and other militants are Maute Group’s top leader Abdullah Maute and his brother Omar Khayyam Maute.

Using a map and a sketch of the areas in Marawi, Hapilon and the group are seen in the video studying how they will attack the places in the city, encircling the areas they will occupy using blue pens.

The insurgents’ discussion becomes somewhat heated as they decide on whether they would let prisoners escape from the Marawi City Jail.

They are also seen in the video talking about where they will place their weapons when they start to occupy Marawi, how to attack military camps, and whether they would plant rocket-propelled grenades on the roads.

A second video, which appeared to have been documented in January 2016 and was also recovered from the May 23 raid of Hapilon’s suspected safe house, shows Abdullah Maute teaching his new recruits on how to use firearms.

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DOLE eases deployment ban on Qatar, bars only OFWs still processing OECs

By Ferdinand G. Patinio, PNA | With InterAksyon and News5

InterAksyon file photo of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday partially lifted the suspension on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Qatar after receiving reports stating that the situation in the Arab country has normalized.

In an emergency press conference at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) main office in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the changes in the suspension order were made upon the recommendation of the crisis committee based on updates from their Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Qatar.

Earlier on Wednesday, former labor undersecretary Susan “Toots” Ople, who runs a migrant advocacy center that tracks OFWs closely, had disagreed with the decision to halt deployment without first fully assessing the situation on the ground.

She counseled the Middle East OFWs – more than a million – to keep calm, but also hoped the Philippine government would plan and act in a more deliberative manner.

The knee-jerk reaction of full suspension has apparently eased, if Bello’s remarks late Wednesday were an indication: “Late last night I had a conversation with our labor attache based in Doha, Qatar and he informed that initially there were incidents of panic buying but after two or three hours the situation has normalized,” he said.

Bello added, “He informed me that as of 1 a.m. today (Wednesday), the situation in Qatar has normalized.”
But, he noted that the suspension will cover OFWs who are still processing their overseas employment certificates (OECs).

This will be in effect until the DOLE has completed its assessment of the situation in the Arab nation.
An OEC is a documentary requirement imposed by POEA to OFWs before they are allowed to work abroad.

Bello added that the committee, which he created to monitor the situation in the host country, also based its decision on the appeal from the recruitment industry, Qatari government and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for it to relax the deployment restriction.

“They decided to lift the temporary moratorium or suspension of OFWs in Qatar, particularly for balik-manggagawa and those with OEC (overseas employment certificate),” the Labor and Employment chief added.

With this, he reported that hourly monitoring is being conducted on the situation in the Middle East country to ensure the protection of the estimated 200,000 OFWs there.

Bello added that the Qatari government has already guaranteed the protection of Filipino workers under their jurisdiction.

On Tuesday, the DOLE suspended the deployment of OFWs to Qatar due to the impending food shortage brought about by the decision of several Arab countries to cut ties with the oil-rich state due to its activities that allegedly support terrorists.

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DOJ finds Comelec, Smartmatic execs criminally liable for script change in May 2016 computer system

By InterAksyon | With JV Arcena, News5

InterAksyon-News5 file photos of Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The latter's camp is overjoyed by the DOJ's reversal of a Manila prosecutor's finding that cleared Comelec and Smartmatic of criminal liability in the controversial computer script change that Marcos says had affected the count in the VP race.

MANILA – The Department of Justice, acting on a petition for review, has reversed the findings of the Manila Prosecutor’s Office and directed the MPO to charge officials of the Commission on Elections and the poll body’s supplier Smartmatic for the unauthorized script change done on the computer systems on the night of the May 9, 2016 elections.

These Smartmatic and Comelec personnel are criminally liable for changing the script in the transparency server, an act that violates the confidentiality and integrity of computer data and the system, DOJ said.

In a 41-page Resolution, Justice Undersecretary Deo L. Marco, signing for Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, found probable cause to charge Smartmatic personnel Marlon Garcia, Head of the Technical Support Team and his subordinates Neil Baniqued and Mauricio Herrera. Also to be charged with violation of Sections 4(a)(1), (3) and (4) of R.A. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act are Comelec Information Technology experts Rouie Peñalba, Nelson Herrera and Frances Mae Gonzales

Section 4 (a)(1) of R.A. 10175 penalizes the access of a computer system without any authority while Section 3 penalizes the intentional and reckless altering of computer data.

Section 4, on the other hand, penalizes the act of hindering or interfering with the functions of a computer and computer network by inputting, deleting and altering computer data and programs, without any right or authority.

The complaint filed against Smartmatic Project Director Elie Moreno was dismissed for lack of evidence.

“Wherefore, premises considered, the Petition for Review is hereby partially granted and the Resolution dated September 28, 2016 of the City Prosecutor of Manila is Modified. The Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila is directed to file the necessary Information for violations of Sec. 4(a)(1), (3) and (4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act against respondents before the appropriate court/s and to report the action taken within ten (10) days from receipt, hereof…,” the DOJ Resolution stated.

The complaint was filed in June last year by former Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, who accused the respondents of “intentionally altering the election data without any right or authority.”

‘VP vote affected by script change’

According to Dela Cruz, shortly after the unauthorized alteration of the script of the transparency server, the lead of Vice Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. over his closest rival started to taper at a uniform rate, something he quoted experts as saying was statistically impossible. This went on until the wee hours of the morning, until Marcos’ huge lead of over 1 million votes was eventually overtaken, added dela Cruz.

The Manila Prosecutors Office (MPO), however, dismissed Dela Cruz’s complaint, prompting him to elevate his case to the DOJ through a Petition for Review.

In reversing the MPO’s findings, the Justice department ruled that the respondents failed to secure the required authorization from the Comelec en banc before changing the script in the transparency server. This was not only against protocol but was patently illegal.

The resolution said there was enough evidence to indict them for the unauthorized change in the system of the transparency server since Marlon Garcia himself admitted that he made the change in the script as advised by Herrera.

“Marlon Garcia, himself, admitted that he made the change in the script of the transparency server as advised by Mauricio Herrera. Notably, it was (Comelec Information Technology expert) Rouie Peñalba who notified the Smartmatic personnel,” the DOJ resolution stated.

The DOJ resolution said Peñalba could not absolve himself of the crime charged because of his inconsistent statements: admitting at first that he instructed Garcia to change the system; and then claiming that Smartmatic was authorized to access the system.

“x x x this Office cannot absolve him (Peñalba) for his inconsistent statements of having instructed Marlon Garcia to change the script because he (Peñalba) had no authority to do so, but belatedly acknowledged that Smartmatic personnel had authority to access the system. Rouie Peñalba, along with Frances Mae Gonzales and Nelson Herrera, as COMELEC representatives assigned to the PPCRV Center and holding ½ of the password to access the system, acquiesced to the access or interference effected by the Smartmatic personnel, beyond their authority,” the Resolution stated.

‘Not just cosmetic change’

The DOJ also rejected the claim of Smartmatic that what was carried out was merely a “cosmetic change” that did not affect the elections. It explained that RA 10175 is a special law and as such, it did not require criminal intent. “x x x criminal intent is not necessary where the acts are prohibited by reason of public policy, the mere perpetration thereof, constitute an offense against the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer data and systems. When the doing of the act is prohibited by law, it is considered injurious to public welfare, and the doing of the prohibited act is the crime itself,” it said.

The DOJ also disputed Smartmatic’s defense that the Protocol of Escalation, which involved contingency matters for escalation in particular levels of severity, gave them the authority to decide by themselves the course of action to be taken in case of any glitches in the system.

The DOJ said the Protocol of Escalation “require(d) Smartmatic personnel to report on any issue regardless of level (severity or intensity) to a Comelec personnel or official.” It said “it is only the designated Comelec personnel or official which may undertake any decision thereon.”

“Moreover, it was established that respondents [were] able to access the transparency server to change the same without notifying the Comelec en banc. It must be noted that the Comelec IT personnel assigned at the PPCRV center had no authority to allow any Smartmatic personnel to tweak the script of the transparency server. As a result thereof, the hash codes failed to match.”

The Justice department also took notice of the failure of Smartmatic and Comelec to report the script change immediately after it was carried. “However, despite the alteration, said fact was not announced until after the lapse of 24 hours when the parties were alerted of said fact,” it said.

Atty. Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. lauded the DOJ resolution.

“This is a most welcome development because the unauthorized change they introduced in the script of the transparency server indeed undermined the credibility of the elections. It was only after the script was changed that the results for the Vice Presidential race began to change at a uniform rate of 40 to 1, which was statistically impossible. Everyone who was glued to their TV that fateful night could see this.”

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BPI assures no depositor will lose money, says system glitch already fixed

By News5 | InterAksyon

BPI updated advisory

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The Bank of the Philippine Islands released advisories Wednesday morning with regard to complaints by netizens on social media about “unauthorized withdrawals”.

BPI said a system glitch was being fixed and most likely be resolved “within the day,” stressing that all errors would be reversed so that no client would lose any money credited to them.

The initial advisory from the bank states that:

“Due to an internal data processing error, some clients may have seen their accounts debited twice or credited twice for a past transaction. We are currently correcting the mispostings.”

We apologize for the inconvenience that this may have caused.

In a subsequent statement, BPI said:

“Further to our announcement this morning, we have identified an internal system error that caused some transactions occurring between April 27 and May 2 to be double-posted as of June 6.

We have identified the root cause of this error, and are temporarily suspending access to electronic channels to speed up rectification. All BPI branches will open on time this morning, and will continue to service your needs.

We anticipate full resolution of this error within today. We wish to reassure our clients that this matter will be resolved expediently, and that none of them will lose money from this incident.”

At 10 p.m., Wednesday, BPI said it had already fixed the glitch and that the bank’s automated teller machines are now fully operational.

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Families of casino attack victims eye class suit

By Persues Echeminada (The Philippine Star)

A man holds back tears as he lights candles for victims in an attack at the Resorts World Manila complex, Friday, June 2, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. Police say a gunman stormed a crowded Manila casino and used gasoline to set gambling tables on fire, creating clouds of smoke that swept through the crowds and killed dozens of people. AP/Aaron Favila, file

 

 

MANILA, Philippines - The families of the victims of the Resorts World Manila (RWM) tragedy are planning to file a class suit against the management of the casino hotel for possible negligence resulting in the death of their relatives.

Actress Azenith Briones told ABS-CBN at the wake of her husband Eleuterio Reyes II in San Pablo City, Laguna that the victims’ relatives were consulting each other for possible legal action after they have buried their dead.

Briones’ husband was among 37 hotel guests and employees who perished in the incident. Jessie Javier Carlos, the gunman who went on a shooting rampage at the RWM, committed suicide after burning the casino at the hotel’s second floor last Friday.

Briones, however, did not give details on the possible legal action, saying that the relatives would still discuss the matter after the burial of her husband’s remains.

Among the issues raised by the relatives are the alleged theft of the personal belongings of the victims and the delay in the release of the corpses that resulted in bloated bodies being turned over to the families.

The attack was perpetrated by Carlos, a casino gambling addict and dismissed employee of the Department of Finance. He stormed the establishment, fired his gun and set fire to the casino before killing himself.

The fire resulted in thick smoke that suffocated the victims in different parts of the hotel.

As early as Friday morning relatives began trooping to the Veronica Memorial Chapel and Rizal Funeral Homes along Libertad Street in Pasay City, where most of the casualties were brought.

At least 18 bodies were brought to Veronica Memorial Chapel and 16 cadavers sent to Rizal Funeral Homes.

Relatives of the victims complained that the funeral homes allegedly mishandled the remains and delayed the release of the bodies to the concerned relatives.

Jojie Uy, whose daughter-in-law Rojie died in the attack, said Veronica Memorial Chapel has no freezer and other facilities to preserve the remains.

Uy complained that the Veronica Memorial Chapel mishandled the body of Rojie that was burned beyond recognition.

She said the funeral home refused to release the body of her daughter-in-law even though the management of RWM agreed to give the body to the family.

Relatives of other victims expressed the same sentiments, but they refused to give their names for fear that the funeral home would delay the release of the bodies of their kin.

Mandy Restriviral, general manager of Veronica Memorial, denied that their employees mishandled the remains or the establishment lacks the facilities to preserve the corpses.

He said the Philippine National Police would not recommend the services of Veronica Memorial Chapel if it does not have the proper facilities.

Restriviral said the funeral home could not just release the bodies since they still have to undergo the “legal process” such as examination by a doctor to determine the cause of death.

Veronica Memorial Chapel on Friday released three cadavers, including the wife of Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. – With Robertzon Ramirez, Emmanuel Tupas

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NBI to run after fake news purveyors

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The government is acting on the spread of fake news in social networking sites that have misled the public, especially in connection with recent incidents of national significance.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tasked to run after the sources of fake news that have been circulating on Facebook and Twitter.

Aguirre specifically directed the NBI to start with the fake news that circulated in social media following the attack on Resorts World Manila (RWM) last week and the attack in Marawi City by Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group on May 23.

When the attack in RWM took place last June 2, several social media posts claimed the IS took responsibility for the attack even after a lone gunman, a former government employee addicted to gambling, was named.

The posts caused panic and fear among netizens.

Several media outfits also reported a statement of IS owning up to the attack at RWM from the terror group’s supposed website.

In the siege of Marawi City by local terror group Maute, several fake photos also circulated online and were even reported in mainstream media.

Also recently, several fake news items circulated on Facebook, including the supposed sympathy extended by former Commission on Human Right chair Etta Rosales to Maute militants and actress-singer Sharon Cuneta allegedly contracting HIV.

A video released by the IS’s Amaq news agency, taken in Marawi City as the siege entered its second week, showed some militants yelling “Allahu Akbar” while smashing religious icons and burning the church.

Clerics slammed the video as demonic and blasphemous, as it showed the militants ripping a picture of Pope Francis, toppling a crucifix and stomping on and torching statues.

The regional Darul Iftah in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) also branded the video as “un-Islamic.”

The Darul Iftah, also known as the House of Opinions, is a group of moderate clerics in the ARMM.

The group released a statement condemning the desecration of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi City, which they said is against the teachings of the Koran.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said vandalism of non-Islamic worship sites is a serious offense in Islam.

“The destruction of the church in Marawi City was done by people introducing themselves as Muslims but are not adhering to the teachings of Islam. They are not Muslims therefore,” Hataman said.

“They are so reckless in quoting verses in the Qu’ran in perverse manners to suit their perverse interests. They are unworthy of promises of divine graces from Allah,” he said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the Maute group is trying to spark a religious war in desecrating the church in Marawi.

He said the video, which was traced to the Middle East, was a carefully plotted but failed propaganda attempt aimed at further inflaming hatred among Muslims and Christians in the Philippines.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military has asked Facebook and other social media outfits to remove posts of the video. He also appealed to netizens not to share the video.

“There are videos circulating around regarding the armed elements destroying a church. We have requested that these be pulled out, because it may fan hate and it is intended by these militants to induce other Christian elements to fight against these armed elements or to sow hatred among Christians and Muslims,” Padilla said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

“Please do not spread this. Let us not buy into the plan of these terror groups to inflame the feelings of our other religions. This is not a religious war, this is a terror attack on the city of Marawi and we must be clear about it,” he added.

Padilla called on users of social networking sites to be responsible in sharing content, noting that many now get their news from the internet.

“The spreading of inaccurate news and disinformation can affect the minds of people. If they think it is true, the disinformation will grow and make it worse,” he said.

The Maute gunmen are still holding captive Fr. Teresito Suganob, the parish priest of Marawi City. 
Suganob and several volunteer church workers and worshippers were taken by the terrorists as they fled when soldiers arrived to drive them away.

A video also circulated online showing Suganob appealing to the President to stop the military offensives in Marawi City. – John Unson, Alexis Romero, AP

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Aguirre reverses De Lima’s opinion, wants casinos under BFP

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star)

In a four-page legal opinion issued last Tuesday, Aguirre put casinos back to the jurisdiction of the BFP, following the deaths of 37 casino guests and employees of Resorts World Manila in a fire set by gunman Jessie Carlos. File
MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has reversed a legal opinion issued by his predecessor, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, transferring the authority to regulate fire security in casinos from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

In a four-page legal opinion issued last Tuesday, Aguirre put casinos back to the jurisdiction of the BFP, following the deaths of 37 casino guests and employees of Resorts World Manila in a fire set by gunman Jessie Carlos.

He explained the PEZA has no authority to enforce Republic Act 9514 or the Revised Fire Code of the Philippines.

“It is clear that while the PEZA may adopt the Fire Code of the Philippines and its implementing Rules and Regulations, it cannot by itself enforce the same within the boundaries of the ecozones as earlier explained,” read the opinion.

“Thus, it cannot conduct fire safety inspection on enterprises duly registered with it as well as those within the zones nor can it issue Fire Safety Inspection Certificates,” it stressed.

Aguirre further explained that while RA 7916 or the PEZA law allows the agency to establish internal security and firefighting forces, it cannot supersede the authority of the BFP under RA 9514.

“Furthermore, note should be taken that RA 7916 or the PEZA law took effect and was approved on Feb. 24, 1995 while RA 9514 took effect and was approved on Dec. 19, 2008... Thus in case of conflict between the provisions of RA 7916, a prior law, and the provisions of RA 9514, a later enactment, the latter should prevail,” he added.

Earlier, Aguirre said that De Lima’s opinion led to the transfer of jurisdiction on fire safety regulation in casinos from the BFP to PEZA, “a government agency without competence and experience in fire protection.”

Aguirre claims this could be one of the reasons for the lapses seen in the fire safety measures in Resorts World Manila.

Do your job

De Lima yesterday rebutted Aguirre’s claims, saying he should just concentrate on doing his job.

She explained that the legal opinion she issued then was merely an affirmation of RA 7916. While the law and the legal opinion state that PEZA has jurisdiction, it did not specifically mention casinos as being exempt from the jurisdiction of the BFP.

“A casino still has to be PEZA-registered in a Special Economic Zone before it can claim to be under PEZA jurisdiction instead of the BFP, insofar as the implementation of the Fire Code is concerned,” she said. – With Marvin Sy

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Suspected Maute financier shot dead

By John Unson (The Philippine Star) |

Nago Balindong’s wife Noraya is placed under the custody of PDEA-ARMM. JOHN UNSON

LANAO DEL SUR , Philippines – Lawmen shot dead a suspected drug lord and financier of the Maute group during a firefight in Malabang town before dawn yesterday.

Nago Balindong reportedly tried to shoot it out with lawmen serving an arrest warrant when he was killed at his hideout in Barangay Jose Abad Santos in Malabang.

His wife Noraya Santican Balindong, a barangay official, was arrested after the shootout.

Lawmen recovered several sachets of shabu, a pistol and two grenades.

Officials said Balindong is among the most wanted drug dealers in this province.

Army and police intelligence sources also said Balindong had links with the Maute group.

Captain Arvin Encinas, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the anti-narcotics operation also resulted in the arrest of three of Balindong’s henchmen identified as Bocari and Camaloden, both surnamed Balindong, and Tingaraan Boro-Boro.

Encinas said the police acted on information pointing to the hideout of Balindong.

He added military intelligence agents also received information that Balindong is among the financiers of the Maute gunmen now the target of massive military operations in Marawi City.

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Ex-Marawi Mayor nabbed for rebellion

By Edith Regalado and John Unson (The Philippine Star)

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. told The STAR on Tuesday that based on police and military intelligence information, deceased couple Rolly and Marriam Dimaucor originally owned the house where the money was found by men of the 7th Marine Battalion fighting Maute terrorists. Checks worth P27 million were also found in the house located in the Mapandi area. John Unson, file
P52 M traced to contractor

DAVAO CITY , Philippines ­– Former Marawi City mayor Fahad Salic was arrested last night in Cagayan de Oro City reportedly due to rebellion in connection with the Maute siege of Marawi.

Sources said Salic, former husband of actress Alma Moreno, could have been arrested because of his relation by affinity to the Maute clan.

Reports said one of Salic’s wives is a sister of Ominta “Farhana” Romato, the first wife of Cayamora Maute, patriarch of the Maute clan.

Cayamora Maute was arrested here in Davao City last Tuesday morning with four other members of his family.

Romato, on the other hand, is still at large, although she has been included in the gallery of those wanted in the Maute group.

Details of Salic’s arrest remained sketchy as of last night.

Meanwhile, a Maranao clan engaged in the construction business owns the house in Marawi where troopers recovered P52 million in cash on Monday, according to a ranking military official.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. told The STAR on Tuesday that based on police and military intelligence information, deceased couple Rolly and Marriam Dimaucor originally owned the house where the money was found by men of the 7th Marine Battalion fighting Maute terrorists. Checks worth P27 million were also found in the house located in the Mapandi area.

The couple’s children have taken over the construction business, which has reportedly undertaken several big-ticket government projects.

In Davao City, meanwhile, charges of rebellion and illegal possession of firearms and explosives are being readied against Cayamora Maute, the 67-year-old patriarch of the notorious Maute clan, and four others arrested with him at a checkpoint in Barangay Sirawan Tuesday morning.

Galvez said reports indicated the children of the Dimaucors took over the family construction business, Rol-Mar Construction and Development, after the demise of the couple about a decade ago.

“A follow-up verification is still being initiated,” Galvez said.

Sources from the regional offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Regions 10, 12 and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) confirmed on Wednesday the involvement of the Dimaucor’s construction firm in big-ticket government projects.

A central Mindanao lawyer said one of the checks found along with the bundles of cash was intended for a contractor operating outside Marawi City.

Certain local government units were issuers of some of the checks, authorities said.

ARMM police are still tracing the ownership of the money.

Initial military and police reports said combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists – now calling themselves Dawlah Islamiya – occupied the house of the Dimaucors and mounted machine guns on windows.

The terrorists had abandoned the house when the Marines arrived.

Galvez said they were also looking into reports that terrorists had ransacked two banks in Marawi City.

Inquest proceedings

The elder Maute was in a black Toyota Grandia van driven by a certain Aljon Salazar Ismael when accosted at a checkpoint put up by the Army-led Task Force Davao.

Also held were Kongan Alfonso Balawag, believed to be his third wife; their daughter Norjannah Balawag and son-in-law Benzarali Tingao.

The city prosecutor’s office conducted inquest proceedings at the Davao City Police Office where the group was being held.

Southern Police Regional Office head Chief Supt. Manny Gaerlan said the elder Maute is already facing five charges of kidnapping in Marawi City.

Kongan, a midwife, is an employee of a social welfare office of an unspecified local government unit in Central Mindanao, her relatives said. She was said to have filed a five-day leave from work that started on Monday.

Gaerlan said Maute was arrested even without a warrant as a .45 caliber pistol and a hand grenade were found inside the vehicle that ferried them from Cotabato City to Davao City.

He said the police also had to take in Ismael as the firearm and the hand grenade were found in his vehicle. Ismael denied having prior knowledge that he was ferrying the Mautes.

The police official told The STAR that several soldiers reported seeing Maute in Marawi City giving instructions to his men in the terror group organized by his sons. “They saw him even holding crutches while giving out orders,” Gaerlan said.

After slipping out of Marawi City, Maute proceeded to Cotabato City before arriving in Davao City Tuesday morning.

Relatives said Maute and Balawag do not live under one roof and that he would only occasionally visit her and their three children in central Mindanao.

Balawag’s daughter also reportedly had a miscarriage more than a week ago, possibly due to stress from the raging hostilities in Marawi City instigated by her older half-brothers.

Authorities, meanwhile, are looking for Maute’s first wife and family matriarch Ominta “Farhana” Romato, who was reported to have escaped from Marawi City through Iligan City.

Maute and Farhana are both in the gallery of wanted persons involved in the family’s illegal activities.

Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman and deputy commander Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay said they are checking on Maute’s and his companions’ other possible terror or criminal links as well their real purpose for coming to Davao.

“It cannot be that they just came to Davao City for nothing,” he said.

Gapay added that several individuals with suspected links to Maute had been rounded up. He did not provide details.

He also said they are bracing for the possibility the Maute brothers would rally other terrorists to try to rescue their father.

“It is very possible he would be rescued. We are on a maximum security alert status. It would remain the same alert status until we have neutralized the Maute group,” Gapay said.

“We have to keep him in a place where security is tightened and access to him would be hard,” he stressed. He said a battalion would be tapped to help secure Maute in Davao City.

“Cayamora is the brains of the Maute group. He does the networking and established everything so that their group would grow bigger and could be found in many more areas. And he is the financier. He has lots of money,” the police official pointed out.

“We are squeezing Cayamora for more information, that is why we are talking to him some more,” he added.

Doctors are reportedly monitoring Cayamora’s medical condition while in detention and as evidence against him and the others are being culled.

Task force Davao commended

The arrest of Maute and his companions earned praises from presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. She commended Lt. Col. Nestor Mondia and his team for the arrest of the Maute patriarch.

“We commend the entire Task Force Davao team for always being alert, for their hard work and for their unquestionable dedication to keep Davao City and the Dabawenyos safe from terrorists like the Maute brothers,” Duterte-Carpio said.

“This is an important development in our collective fight to reclaim peace and defeat lawlessness and terrorism and all that threatens our freedom and future,” she said.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Cayamora’s arrest “is a significant step to prevent and suppress future terroristic acts and we thank Task Force Davao for its quick response.”

With Cayamora’s arrest, the end of lawlessness in many parts of Mindanao may be just around the corner.

“The arrest of Cayamora Maute, the father of the Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah, at a military checkpoint is a welcome development to break the cycle of lawlessness in some areas in Mindanao,” Abella said.

Task Force Davao commander Col. Erwin Bernard Neri said no one had tipped off the military about the trip and that the arrest of the elder Maute was accidental.

“Let us therefore continue our vigilance and never lose sight of our common objective of bringing peace and development in the entire country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ana Margarita Malvar, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, announced yesterday that private individuals and firms have committed to launch relief operations in Marawi, under the “Kapatid for Marawi” program.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Malvar said private groups have vowed to help and provide some measure of aid and comfort to the affected families and residents.

“So this is really a united response to help support and provide some measure of aid and comfort to our brothers and sisters who are displaced by the fighting that’s been ongoing,” she said.

“We’ve actually been undertaking relief operations over the past few days in the areas of Iligan and some of the border towns to Marawi City, specifically Pantar and Saguiaran,” Malvar said.

“I’d also like to mention that we are also actively engaged in partnerships with local stakeholders,” she said.

Kapatid for Marawi is coordinating with LGUs and getting logistical assistance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. – Christina Mendez

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