Items filtered by date: Sunday, 31 December 2017

Agnes Callamard backs two Filipino UN experts hit by Malacañang

UN EXPERT. In this photo dated October 20, 2016, UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard addresses an event on the death penalty and terrorism-related offenses. File photo by Kim Haughton/UN Photo

MANILA, Philippines – “We will not be silenced by lies nor intimidated by anyone’s bully pulpit."

United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard released this statement following Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s remarks against her two fellow UN experts who are Filipinos.

Roque earlier warned UN special rapporteurs Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Cecilia Jimenez-Damary not to “use their positions to embarrass the Philippine government.”

He was reacting to the women's joint statement urging the government to observe international obligations and protect the rights of indigenous people amid the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“Thousands of Lumads have already been forcibly displaced by the conflict and have seen their houses and livelihoods destroyed. We fear the situation could deteriorate further if the extension of martial law until the end of 2018 results in even greater militarization,” said a portion of their statement dated December 27.

Roque said that Tauli-Corpuz and Jimenez-Damary should be more careful of their statements because they are “elected to the post upon the behest the former administration” that their opinions will be viewed as tainted.

Callamard corrected Roque, however, explaining that UN special rapporteurs are not elected but rather appointed.

“We are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as independent experts on the basis of our proven expertise and experience. We are NOT United Nations staff. We are volunteers who serve in our personal capacity and receive no remuneration. We do NOT take on our roles at the ‘behest’ of any government,” she said.

Callamard continued, “When public officials choose fiction over fact, you can be sure they have much to hide. I commend my fellow Special Rapporteurs, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, for implementing their mandates independently, impartially, accurately, and courageously.”

Callamard’s recent statement is just the latest in her tirade with the Duterte administration.

She has since drawn the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for criticizing the deaths caused by his anti-drugs campaign. Duterte has recently threatened to slap Callamard should she investigate the drug war deaths. –


Fire razes homes in Caniogan, Pasig

PASIG FIRE. The fire hits a street in Caniogan, Pasig. Photo with permission from Melvin Manalang's Twitter account

MANILA, Philippines – A fire razed several homes in Katarungan Street in Caniogan, Pasig, moving into the new year.

Fire reporting service TXTFire reported the fire was at its second alarm at around 11:14 pm of Sunday, December 31.

According to the Pasig Command Center, the fire escalated to a 4th alarm but was declared fire out by 12:08 am of January 1, 2018.

Damage and casualty assessments have yet to be released as of posting. –


LIST: PAGASA's names for tropical cyclones in 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Basyang, Inday, and Venus are some of the names that state weather bureau PAGASA will be giving tropical cyclones in 2018.

Aside from the international name given to a tropical cyclone, PAGASA also assigns a local name which will be used when a tropical cyclone is already inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)


The local names were already previously listed and revised as of January 2017. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)PAGASA has 4 sets of tropical cyclone names that are used every 4 years. This means the names for 2018 – listed below – will also be used in 2022, 2026, and so on.


The Philippines is visited by an average of 20 typhoons a year, so the names above should be more than enough. But PAGASA also prepared an auxiliary list containing 10 names, in case all the names on the original list are used.


Dropping certain names

PAGASA also decommissions or drops the usage of a tropical cyclone name when it has met at least one of these two requirements:

  • at least 300 deaths
  • P1 billion worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure

Examples of decommissioned names include Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, Typhoon Lando (Koppu) in 2015, and most recently, Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak) in 2017.

A tropical cyclone name can also be dropped if it is closely associated with a prominent personality, to avoid public ridicule. For instance, PAGASA changed Nonoy to Nona in December 2015 because it sounded like Noynoy, the nickname of then president Benigno Aquino III. –


8 fire incidents in Metro Manila as PH welcomed 2018 – BFP

NEW YEAR. Eight areas in Metro Manila suffer from a fire incident as they welcome the year 2018.

MANILA, Philippines – A man was killed in one of 8 fire incidents the struck Metro Manila as the country welcomed the new year, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) reported on Monday, January 1.

A BFP report cited 8 incidents that occurred between 3 pm on Sunday, December 31, up to 3:18 AM on Monday, January 1.

The BFP recorded one fatality in the blaze in Katarungan Street in Caniogan, Pasig City, that reached the 4th alarm. Elmer Lañora, 58, was killed due to suffocation.

The Pasig Command Center declared fire out by 12:08 am.

Caniogan is one of the 5 residential areas that suffered from fires as the country welcomed the new year.

Other residential areas affected are the following:

Barangay Bagbag, Novaliches, Quezon City
Barangay 80 Delpan, Zaragosa, Tondo, Manila
Coronado corner San Bernandino, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati
Barangay Maybunga, Pasig City
A fire reaching the second alarm also affected the HS Commercial Building in Alvarrado, Binondo, Manila.

The two other incidents, happened in Bagbagin, Valenzuela City, and in Sangandaan, Barangay 74, Caloocan City. –


77% drop in firecracker-related injuries vs 5-year average

FIRECRACKER INJURY. One of 12 patients treated at the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila, due tofirecracker-related injuries on January 1, 2018. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) recorded 191 firecracker-related injuries nationwide as the country welcomed 2018, 77% lower than the 5-year average.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a news briefing on Monday, January 1, that the cases were recorded between December 21, 2017, to January 1. (READ: DOH targets zero firecracker injuries for New Year 2018)

The figure is 45% lower than the 350 cases recorded on January 1, 2017.

"I would say we are relatively pleased – relative because there are still injuries but pleased because of the substantial reduction or decrease in fireworks-related injured from December 21, 2017, to January 1, 2018, compared to the same period of the previous year," Duque said in a press conference held at the East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City.

He said there were no reported deaths due to firecrackers, fireworks ingestion, or stray bullets, based on reports from the police.

The health chief said the 191 cases recorded so far is 77% lower than the 5-year average.

Duque said the DOH had been expecting a “downward trend” of injuries this year because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 28, which restricts the use of firecrackers and the staging fireworks displays. (READ: Locations of firecracker zones in Metro Manila for New Year's Eve)

Duque had inspected the emergency rooms of East Avenue Medical Center and Jose R Reyes Memorial Medical Center and the Philippine Orthopedic Center in Manila to check their readiness to accept patients who will be injured due to the New Year’s Eve festivities.

In June, President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO No. 28, banning private citizens from using firecrackers or staging their own firecracker displays at their homes.

The EO also mandates "community fireworks displays" instead as designated places for the use of firecrackers under supervision of the PNP. (READ: Locations of firecracker zones in Metro Manila for New Year's Eve)

Three people, including a village councilor, were arrested in Iloilo City for violating EO 28.

According to the Department of Health, a total of 630 fireworks-related injuries were recorded from December 21, 2016, to January 5, 2017.

The 630 cases were a decrease of 292 from the total cases during the same period 2015-2016. It was also 319 cases less than the average number from 2011 to 2015. –


Magnitude 5.2 quake joins farewell to 2017 in Mindanao


A red dot marks the epicenter of the magnitude 5.2 earthquake that struck off Sarangay province about an hour before the end of 2017 on Sunday, Dec. 31. PHIVOLCS MAP

DAVAO CITY – A magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck at sea 48 kilometers southwest of Maasim in Sarangani province about an hour before the end of 2017 on Sunday, the state seismological monitoring office reported.

The tectonic quake with a depth of two kilometers made itself felt at 10:53 p.m. in varying intensities all over Mindanao, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

– Intensity 4 in General Santos; Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; Alabel, Sarangani

– Intensity 3 in Davao City and Lebak, Sultan Kudarat

– Intensity 2 in Zamboanga City; Tupi and Sto. Niño, South Cotabato; Koronadal City

Phivolcs said no damage was expected but warned of aftershocks.

No tsunami warning was issued. /cbb



Flights between Legazpi, Manila canceled

Two flights to Legazpi and Manila have been canceled due to inclement weather, the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) announced Monday.
In a Facebook post, Miaa said Philippine Express flights 2P 2921 from Manila to Legazpi and 2P 2922 from Legazpi to Manila were canceled.
The trough of a low pressure area is causing bad weather in the region, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) weather advisory. /cbb


Quakes jolt Agusan del Sur town

Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur (Wikipedia maps)
Two consecutive earthquakes hit the town of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur early Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
The first 3.2-magnitude quake was recorded at 4:59 a.m. 2 kilometers south of Prosperidad.
According to Phivolcs, the tremor had a one-kilometer depth of focus and was tectonic in origin.

The second quake hit the same town at 5:53 a.m. It also had a one-kilometer depth and was also tectonic in origin.
No damage has been reported. /jpv



BFP sacks 5 fire execs due to NCCC mall tragedy

Grief-stricken relatives of employees trapped in the fire that broke out at NCCC Mall in Davao City wait for word on their loved ones. INQUIRER file photo / BARRY OHAYLAN

Published: 2:16 p.m., Dec. 31, 2017 | Updated: 9:52 p.m., Dec. 31, 2017

DAVAO CITY — Five city fire officials were relieved of duty in the wake of the city’s worst fire in years that killed 38 people, 37 of them call center agents.

The Southern Mindanao office of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) issued the relief order effective on Sunday for City Fire Marshal Honey Fritz Alagano, Insp. Renero Jimenez, Senior FO1 Leo Lauzon, FO2 Joel Quizmundo and Senior FO1 Roger Dumag.

Alagano had overall supervision of the city fire department while Jimenez was chief of the fire station that had jurisdiction over the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall on Don Julian Rodriguez Avenue in the village of Ma-a.

Lauzon was fire inspector for Survey Sampling International (SSI), which lost 37 workers in the 32-hour fire, while Quizmundo had signed and recommended the approval of NCCC Mall’s fire safety compliance certificate.

Dumag was the city fire department’s safety enforcement chief.

“I personally signed the relief order and it was issued to make way for the investigation,” said Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil Kwan Tiu, BFP regional director.

Probers’ recommendation
The relief order came after a task force formed to investigate the deadly fire recommended the sacking of key BFP officials in the city.

It also came amid reports that NCCC Mall’s sprinkler and alarm system failed although it passed inspection made by the city fire department.

Some survivors also claimed the mall lacked exits, one of the reasons for the SSI employees’ deaths, but a mall spokesperson, Thea Padua, denied this.

Mayor Sara Duterte had vouched for the NCCC Mall, saying its compliance with safety requirements was the main reason it had been issued a business permit.


Fire conscious

Kwan Tiu said there was little reason to doubt that NCCC was safety compliant because the mall owner, Lim Tian Siu Trading Inc., was among the founders of the Davao City Volunteer Fire Brigade.

A fire engine owned by the NCCC was stationed in the mall, he said.

Alagano had said the city fire department regularly conducted fire drills with NCCC Mall employees. Padua said the last was held in July.

Assistant Interior Secretary Nestor Quinsay Jr. said investigators were collecting every piece of evidence that could shed light on the fire. /jpv /pdi



Rain dampens first day of 2018 in Visayas, Mindanao

Cloud clusters can be seen over much of the Visayas and Mindanao in this satellite photo released by the Pagasa on Jan. 1, 2018. PAGASA IMAGE

The Visayas and some parts of Mindanao should brace for heavy rain and thunderstorms brought by a low pressure area (LPA), the weather bureau said Monday.

In its daily weather forecast, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the whole of the Visayas, as well as Caraga and Northern Mindanao, would experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms caused by the trough of the LPA.

The Bicol Region and the rest of Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms, Pagasa said.

The bureau warned that flash floods or landslides may occur in these areas.

As of 3 a.m., the LPA was spotted 545 kilometers east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte.

The northeast monsoon (amihan), on the other hand, will bring cloudy skies with scattered rain in the provinces of Cagayan Valley, Aurora, and Quezon, and the Cordillera region, Pagasa said.

Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will experience party cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain brought by the northeast monsoon. /cbb


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