House panel invites Sereno to attend Nov 22 hearing of impeach raps vs her

Chief Justice Sereno. PHILSTAR file photograph
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno had been invited to attend the hearing of the House Committee on Justice on the impeachment complaint against her.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairperson of the committee, said the panel had sent Sereno an invitation for the November 22 hearing.

The hearing will discuss if there is probable cause to pursue the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno by lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon.

The committee members are also expected to discuss if Sereno would be allowed to be represented by legal counsels. Sereno’s lawyers have twice written the justice panel on the matter.

Umali earlier said that only Sereno would be allowed to speak during the proceedings.


DOH chief says ‘it is now all systems go’ for distribution of contraceptives

Philstar/Edd Gumban file photo of women clamoring for the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law
MANILA, Philippines — The Roman Catholic-majority Philippines will re-allow the use of contraceptive implants after certifying 51 drugs and devices safe and not the cause of abortions, the health department announced on Thursday.

Congress passed a law allowing contraceptive devices in 2012 but the Supreme Court imposed a restraining order in 2015 after bishops said some drugs and devices caused abortions.

Abortion, divorce and same-sex union are not allowed in the Philippines and some lawmakers oppose artificial methods of family planning. Pills and condoms are sold freely.

“With the Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of an advisory declaring all of the 51 contraceptive products … cannot cause abortion, it is now all systems go for the Department of Health to fully implement the law,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters.


Lawyers file sedition raps vs Trillanes over senator’s call to ‘kill’ Duterte

File photos of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (from Philstar) and President Rodrigo Duterte (from Reuters)
MANILA, Philippines — A group of lawyers led by former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras on Thursday file a criminal complaint before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s office against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for allegedly inciting rebellious acts against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In their 15-page complaint-affidavit filed by lawyer Manuelito Luna, who represented the group of Paras, who is also currently a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), cited the statements made by Trillanes against Duterte in his privilege speech at the Senate last October 3, that soldiers may shoot the President upon the latter’s wish if the allegations of hidden wealth would be proven.

The lawyers are formally accusing Trillanes of inciting to sedition (Article 142, Revised Penal Code or RPC), proposing to commit coup d’etat (Article 136, RPC), and graft (Section 3(e), Republic Act 3019).

During his privilege speech, the lawmaker made statements about the alleged millions of pesos of ill-gotten wealth of Duterte: “Kung makikita ‘to ng mga sundalo, M60 machine gun ang gagamitin sa ‘yo. Marami-rami ito, maubos magazine kung PHP40 million hinahanap mo, Mr. Duterte (If the soldiers could see this, they will use an M60 machine gun on you. These are many. The magazines will be emptied if you’re looking for PHP40 million, Mr. Duterte).”

“Trillanes not only repeatedly uttered seditious words or speeches (Art. 142, RPC) and unabatedly circulated scurrilous libels against the President (Art. 142, RPC), which tend to disturb the public peace, but also repeatedly incited others to inflict any hate or revenge upon his person (Art. 142, in relation to Art. 139 (3), RPC,” read the complaint.

In their complaint, the lawyers asked city prosecutors to launch a preliminary investigation and conduct proper proceedings and find probable cause to indict Trillanes and other unidentified personalities of such offenses.

“Trillanes not only repeatedly uttered seditious words or speeches and unabatedly circulated scurrilous libels against the President, which tend to disturb the public peace, but also repeatedly incited others to inflict any hate or revenge,” the complaint stated.

The lawyers insisted that Trillanes “committed conspiracy or proposal to commit coup d’etat” for encouraging the military to rise up in arms against the President.

Moreover, the complainants accused Trillanes of causing undue injury against the Duterte administration “through evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

“(This is) for irresponsibly and recklessly and continuously accusing sans evidence, that the President is keeping over PHP2 billion in bank accounts and or amassing illegally-acquired wealth,” they claimed.

Trillanes is insisting on the evidence consisting of bank transaction records alleged to have been sourced from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), despite the AMLC’s disclaimer that the documents did not come from them.

The purported bank transaction documents, which Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang also claimed he is in possession of, was disavowed by the AMLC.

The lawyers also took to task Trillanes’ record of major involvements in notable coups d’etat during the Arroyo administration.

For his involvements in these incidents, Trillanes’ assurance that yellow-oriented group TindigPilipinas’ nationwide signature drive calling on Duterte to sign a waiver for his bank records appear to lack credibility, the complaint stated.

Though Trillanes assured the petition-signing drive is not a destabilization attempt, the complainants said the lawmaker “lacks credibility given his record of major involvement in coups d’etat or destabilization attempts” particularly during the administration of former President and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The complainants cited the senator’s record of major involvements in coups d’etat during the Arroyo administration – Oakwood Mutiny in July 2003, the Marine standoff last February 2006 and the Manila Peninsula siege in November 2007.

Trillanes and other members of Magdalo soldiers were charged with coup d’etat over the said incidents, but they were cleared after being granted amnesty by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.

Aside from Paras, the complainants include lawyers Glenn Chong, Nasser Marohomsalic, Nestor Ifurung, Eligio Mallari, Eduardo Bringas, and Louise Biraogo.

Sought for a comment, Trillanes called the VACC “Duterte minions” who were only trying to divert his attention.

However, he said that he remained “focused” on exposing the President’s involvement in murders, corruption and secret bank accounts, and Davao City Vice Mayor and presidential son Paolo Duterte’s involvement in the PHP6.4 billion shabu shipment. — With reports from Azer Parrocha/ PNA



Going nowhere: MRT coach gets detached from train

Image from Ivan Caballero Villegas’ Twitter account shows MRT passengers watching the main train unit moving forward as the coach they were riding was decoupled midway between the Ayala and Gil Puyat stations yesterday.
MANILA, Philippines — Another day, another mishap for the Metro Rail Transit 3: train coaches detached from a northbound train in Makati City during yesterday morning’s rush hour, resulting in the unloading of over 100 commuters who were forced to walk to the next station.

MRT operations director Michael Capati said it will take some time to determine the root of the problem, but they are now conducting an investigation.

Capati said the detached train cars would remain at the MRT’s depot pending investigation.


Cesar Chavez, undersecretary for railways of the Department of Transportation, said that a “messma card” from the detached train cars was missing based on initial investigation conducted by MRT’s technical team, which gave weight to the human intervention angle.

The “messma card” is like a black box that records interventions in all trains of MRT-3.

Chavez said they are now determining the persons responsible for removing the messma card and also their motives.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Capati said they are not ruling out any possible angle that could have contributed to the detachment of the cars, including possible electrical and mechanical failures and human intervention.

Contrary to Capati’s statement, Rowel Jose, rolling stocks specialist of MRT-3, pointed out that the incident had nothing to do with mechanical or electrical problems.

“It only takes human intervention to detach the couplers,” he said.

He explained that one can easily crank the lever to detach the coupler and if the problem was technical, all the couplers will be probed to determine why such incident happened.

Ric Initorio, director for operations of MRT-3, said yesterday’s detachment of train’s coupler was not the first time it happened, as a similar incident occurred at GMA Kamuning station in Quezon City in 2011.

Inotorio said the 2011 incident was because of an electrical problem, when a grounded wire was loosened up, causing the coupler motor to melt.

Capati apologized for what happened and said the agency has prepared some measures to ensure the safety of commuters.

Train operator Renato Año said that he was not aware that several cars had detached until he monitored “communication error” from the diagnostic panel of the train.

He explained that a communication error appeared on the screen after a problem was not detected between the two cars, but he said he stopped immediately near the Buendia station after an operator of a southbound train radioed that some of his cars were detached.

“While approaching Buendia station, I monitored on the side mirror that I had only two cars and I saw on the diagnostic panel a communication error,” Año said.


Ivan Caballero Villegas, a call center employee in Makati City, said he and his workmate boarded a northbound train at the MRT Ayala station past 8 a.m. when they felt that the coach they were riding was detached from the rest of the train.

Villegas said he saw the other coaches in front of their coach heading towards the Buendia station, leaving some coaches behind near the Ayala station.

He said some commuters in the stalled coaches complained of the heat while others claimed they were suffocating as other passengers repeatedly pressed the lock button to open the doors.

Before they were told to get off the detached car, Villegas said some angry commuters were cursing the MRT-3 while others called their offices to report their misfortune and delay in coming to work.

A few minutes later, some MRT security guards arrived and instructed them to get off the train and walk on the rail tracks back to Ayala station.

Some passengers complained that they should have waked towards Buendia station, which was closer to the detached coaches.

Villegas asked the guards what happened, but nobody cared to give them an answer.

A guard only told them that a “provisional operation” was implemented because of the incident.

Upon reaching the Ayala station, most of the commuters queued for the refund of their single journey tickets, while Villegas rode a bus to get home to Malabon City.

He also said that no emergency buses arrived at the Ayala station to assist the affected commuters.

DOTr’s Chavez said around 130 to 140 MRT-3 commuters were “evacuated” by the security guards from both Buendia and Ayala stations.

The MRT-3 is an attached agency of the DOTr.

Chavez said that the detachment of the coaches prompted the MRT to limit service only the North Avenue station in Quezon City to Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City.

He said they temporarily stopped train service from Shaw Boulevard station to Taft Avenue in Pasay City to fix the problem and restore normal operations that were resumed at around 9:30 a.m.

MRT-3 management recently terminated its maintenance contract with service provider Busan Universal Rails Inc. (BURI) due to the firm’s alleged poor performance.

But despite this, Chavez said the MRT-3 is now “improving” after the department took over the service maintenance from BURI.

Sen. Grace Poe urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to suspend the operations of the MRT-3 if necessary in order to ensure the safety of its passengers.

With the malfunctions still being reported regularly, Poe said that the DOTr should make a decision on the suspension of the operations of the MRT-3 if this is what it takes to address the problems plaguing the system.

“What they need to do is to ensure the safety of passengers. Now if they need to suspend the operations, and we know there are around 500,000 who ride the train, but if we consider the lives that could be lost because of neglect, then maybe we should swallow this bitter pill,” Poe said.

If the DOTr, which is now handling the maintenance of the MRT-3 temporarily, will push through with the suspension of the mass transit system’s operation, then Poe said that it should inform the public about how long this would last.

She said that the DOTr should also have contingency measures in place in the event that the MRT-3 is shut down, such as providing more point-to-point buses for the commuters and maybe even giving them free rides. –With Marvin Sy


Nurses slam new law on license renewal

A group of nurses has added its voice to Filipino professionals opposing the new requirements for renewing their licenses under the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Act.

“Given that the laws like RA (Republic Act No.) 9173 — or the Nursing Law of 2002 — and the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers, which uphold the best interests of nurses, are little implemented and generally disregarded and violated, now comes another law that will further burden the already weighed down nurses,” the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) said in a statement.

The CPD Act, authored by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, makes it mandatory for nurses and other professionals to earn 45 CPD units before they can renew their Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) licenses.


“This would mean a hefty expense for the already underpaid nurses while squeezing the CPD in her already tight schedule,” the FNU said.

The PRC has issued new guidelines on the law’s implementation, including a resolution that outlines the required number of units for each profession under its own regulatory board.

‘Unnecessary burden’

“This mandatory CPD is also an unnecessary burden for nurses who are unemployed or in nonnursing jobs or stationed in far-flung areas. [They] should not be barred from renewing his/her professional ID that has already been rightfully earned,” the FNU said.

While the aim of the CPD Act of 2016 was to ensure nurses’ competence in the performance of their professional practice, the group said it was more meant to comply with the requisites of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integration.

“[That is] to create a pool of highly skilled but cheap manpower that our country is noted to provide for the global market,” it said.

As part of Asean integration, citizens of other Asean member countries may practice their profession in the Philippines. But Filipinos cannot practice their profession when they go to other Asean countries, according to Junven Lavapie, a 23-year-old civil engineer.

“We’d have to take exams or study for another few years again in their country to do so. The CPD law allows us to ‘fix’ this issue,” Lavapie said.


Review implementation

Like the FNU, the Optometric Association of the Philippines (OAP) is calling for a review of the CPD Act’s implementation.

The OAP earlier raised objections to the operational guidelines drafted by the Board of Optometry that required practitioners to earn educational units to renew their licenses.

The association said the board was allowing the retroactive application of points earned before the law’s full implementation.

The group also wondered why CPD units had been issued to practitioners in the last three years when renewal of licenses had been allowed without such conditions before the enactment of the CPD Act last year.

Apart from the nurses and optometrists’ groups, close to 62,000 Filipino professionals have signed an online petition that aims to reevaluate the requirements for renewing their licenses under the CPD Act.

Among the concerns raised by those who signed the petition on include the inaccessibility and affordability of PRC-accredited CPD providers especially among contractual professionals and those in remote areas, and those who are unemployed, underemployed or receiving low wages.

Exorbitant fees

Other professionals have also complained about the lack of accredited CPD providers, which has limited their options to current providers that are mostly private institutions supposedly offering training and seminars with exorbitant fees.

Michael Formoso, an engineer who signed the petition, said “there are a lot channels for learning where 70 percent come from experience and on-the-job training and 20 percent from direct coaching and technical and management websites and media.”

Formoso said only 10 percent came from training.

“Leadership and management training should also be considered valid for CPD for engineers like me. I see this as means of money milking for accredited professional organization. There should be more accredited training institutions that we can choose from,” he added.

Genesis Tampus, another supporter of the online petition, said that while CPD would help upgrade skills as part of Asean integration, its implementation should be made reasonable.

Self-paced manner

“Perhaps making it available online on a self-paced manner, thus allowing us to accumulate points through seminars and making it affordable also so everybody can avail of it,” Tampus said.

Lavapie, who created the petition on, told the Inquirer in a previous interview that he found the operational guidelines of the CPD Act “seemingly unfair” for professionals.

He said these professionals would be burdened by costly and time-consuming seminars and training.

He said the law would have been acceptable had there been government-subsidized programs for CPD units.

In an article he wrote on on Aug. 10, a day after the Senate inquiry into the complaints against the CPD Act, Lavapie said the intention of the CPD Act was good, “but we need to refine its implementation.”


Corona family appeals subpoena on bank records

Former Chief Justice Renato Corona. FILE PHOTO/SENATE POOL

The family of late Chief Justice Renato Corona has appealed the Sandiganbayan’s ruling allowing the Office of the Ombudsman to scrutinize their bank accounts in connection with their P130.59-million forfeiture case.

In a 17-page motion for reconsideration, Corona’s widow Cristina and their three children, Ma. Carla Beatrice Castillo, Francis Corona and Charina Salgado, said the Second Division erred in reinstating the Ombudsman’s subpoena on their bank records.

They said the court should not allow the Ombudsman to bolster a case based on alleged illegally-obtained evidence.


The court on Oct. 23 granted the Ombudsman’s appeal to reverse the April 28, 2016 resolution, which initially approved the Coronas’ motion to quash the subpoenas on their peso and dollar bank accounts.

The Coronas maintained that the confidentiality of bank records were guaranteed by the Bank Secrecy Law (Republic Act No. 1405) and the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (Republic Act No. 6426).

They said the Ombudsman only wanted to subpoena the bank records in an attempt to provide a legal cloak to the forfeiture case despite being supposedly based on illegally obtained bank records.

The appeal charged that the Ombudsman’s request followed a “prior illegal inquiry into respondents’ alleged bank records” in violation of the Coronas’ constitutional right to unreasonable searches and seizures.

For one, the Coronas said the Ombudsman’s bank documents were obtained by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and signed by Associate Prosecution Attorney Jayvee Laurence Bandong of the Department of Justice.

They pointed out, however, that the DoJ could not be a valid source or custodian of the supposed originals, casting doubt on whether the agency followed the law on bank inquiries.

The motion argued that under R.A. 6426, the only exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits is when the depositor has issued a written permission, which the spouses had not given to either the Ombudsman or the Sandiganbayan.

“The alleged dollar deposits subject of the Request for Subpoenae remain absolutely confidential, without exception, under R.A. No. 6426 and may not be inquired into in any proceeding,” read the appeal.


“Neither the [Ombudsman] nor this Honorable Court has the authority to inquire into said deposits, or to compel any witness to produce documents relating thereto,” it added.

The Coronas said the presentation of their bank transaction records would be “unreasonable and oppressive” because the supposedly unlawful disclosure of their confidential information would “expose them to criminal liability and administrative sanctions.”

“Petitioner’s resort to the subject request for subpoenae is therefore an obvious subterfuge to cure the fatality of its evidence – and its case – against respondents. This should not be countenanced by this Honorable Court,” read the Coronas’ motion.

The Sandiganbayan on Jan. 18, 2016 first issued the subpoenas for the production of the Coronas’ bank transaction records including those of an account with Deutsche Bank AG.

Also subpoenaed were several bank representatives including Enrico Cruz and Celia Orbeta of Deutsche Bank AG Manila, Anthony Chua of Allied Banking Corporation, Francisco Burgos and Maybelen Villareal of Land Bank of the Philippines, and Pascual Garcia of the Philippine Savings Bank.

The Ombudsman’s forfeiture case filed in the Sandiganbayan in March 2014 was an offshoot of the previous administration’s efforts against Corona, whom President Benigno Aquino III shunned for being a midnight appointee of his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Corona allegedly emptied several of his bank accounts before the impeachment proceedings got underway in the House of Representatives in late 2011.

The Senate on May 29, 2012 ousted Corona and convicted him for failing to properly disclose his wealth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

After Corona’s impeachment, criminal charges for tax evasion and perjury were brought against him before the Court of Tax Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, respectively. His death on April 29, 2016 extinguished any possible criminal liability, but not the civil forfeiture case.



Only Trudeau bold enough to raise EJK issue with Duterte

Trudeau to Duterte: Canada ‘concerned’ over EJK issueNews

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said he raised concerns over human rights and extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte, becoming the only world leader to tackle the sensitive issues skirted by almost all the others during a regional summit in Manila.

“As I mentioned to President Duterte, we are concerned with human rights, with the extrajudicial killings, impressed upon him the need for respect for the rule of law and as always offered Canada’s support and help as a friend to help move forward on what is the real challenge,” Trudeau told reporters.

“This is the way we engage with the world. This is the way we always will,” he said.

“We know that talking about human rights is an essential part for a path forward. It has to be done in an honest and frank way. But it has to be done. We have to talk about the high expectations we must have to protect life, to uphold the rule of law, and human rights,” he said.

Trudeau’s comments came a day after US President Donald Trump hailed the “great relationship” he enjoyed with Mr. Duterte in a meeting that Malacañang said did not touch on human rights.

Gross abuses
Ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila, rights groups had urged world leaders to challenge Mr. Duterte over what they said were gross abuses.

Mr. Duterte won the presidential election last year, vowing to eradicate drugs through a campaign that would see up to 100,000 people killed.

Since he took office, police have reported killing 3,967 people in his war on drugs.

Another 2,290 people have been killed in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

Rights groups say Mr. Duterte may be presiding over a crime against humanity.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada had earned a reputation for discussing human rights and the rule of law with other nations.

Asked how Mr. Duterte responded, Trudeau said: “The President was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange.”

He added: “This is something that is important to Canadians, and it’s important to the world and I will always bring that up.”

There was no immediate comment from Malacañang on Tuesday.

Mr. Duterte bristles at criticism of his war on drugs, calling then US President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” for expressing concerns over human rights violations last year when the crackdown on narcotics in the Philippines turned into a killing spree.

Mr. Duterte also has not spared critics like European Union parliamentarians, local and international human rights campaigners, the United Nations, including former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and even former President Benigno Aquino III.

Last week, talking to reporters before leaving to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam, he said he would tell any world leader who would bring up human rights concerns with him to “lay off.”

Mr. Duterte is hosting world leaders as the Philippines holds the rotating chair of the 10-nation Asean bloc.

Rare sour note
Trudeau’s comments were a rare sour note for Mr. Duterte during the Asean Summit that had been largely silent on alleged extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.

There was no pressure from Trump over the war on drugs during his meeting with Mr. Duterte on Monday.

A joint statement after the meeting said the two sides “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs to promote the welfare of all sectors, including the most vulnerable groups.”

It said Trump and Mr. Duterte also talked about the Philippines’ campaign against illegal drugs and crime, and agreed to work together to fight the illegal drugs scourge.

“Both sides acknowledged that illegal drug use is a problem afflicting both countries and committed to share best practices in the areas of prevention; enforcement, including capacity-building and transparency in investigations; and rehabilitation,” it said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday that the issue of human rights was not brought up during the meeting.

But the White House later released a statement saying that human rights briefly came up when the drug war was discussed.

Sought for comment, Roque replied that “that’s fair insofar as [President Duterte] described war [against] drugs as promoting [human rights].” —With reports from the wires

Check out our Asean 2017 special site for important information and latest news on the 31st Asean Summit to be held in Manila on Nov. 13-15, 2017. Visit


Asean draft statement makes no mention of Rohingya crisis

A Rohingya refugee girl sits next to her mother who rests after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
MANILA — A draft of the statement to be issued after a Southeast Asian summit makes no mention of the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine state following a military crackdown that has been described by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing.

One paragraph of the communique, seen by Reuters on Monday, mentions the importance of humanitarian relief provided for victims of natural disasters in Vietnam and a recent urban battle with Islamist militants in the Philippines, as well as “affected communities” in northern Rakhine state.

The statement was drawn up by the Philippines, current chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – which includes Myanmar – whose leaders met for a plenary session in Manila on Monday.

The draft did not give any details of the situation in northern Rakhine or use the term Rohingya for the persecuted Muslim minority, which Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has asked foreign leaders to avoid.

The government in mostly-Buddhist Myanmar regards the Rohingya as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and does not recognize the term.

Well over 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to find shelter in refugee camps after military clearance operations were launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts on Aug. 25.

The plight of the Rohingya has brought outrage from around the world and there have been calls for democracy champion Suu Kyi to be stripped of the Nobel peace prize she won in 1991 because she has not condemned the Myanmar military’s actions.

In September, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation in Rakhine was best described as ethnic cleansing.

Some members of ASEAN, particularly Muslim-majority Malaysia, have voiced concern. However, in keeping with ASEAN’s principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, the issue appears to have been put aside at the summit.

In September, Malaysia disavowed a statement issued by the Philippines on behalf of ASEAN’s foreign ministers as misrepresenting “the reality” because it did not identify the Rohingya as an affected community in Rakhine state.

Suu Kyi, who did not mention the crisis in a speech after arriving in Manila on Sunday, criticized ASEAN’s principle of non-interference herself in 1999 when she was fighting for democracy in a country then ruled by a military junta.

“This policy of non-interference is just an excuse for not helping,” she wrote in an opinion column in the Thai daily the Nation at the time. “In this day and age, you cannot avoid interference in the matters of other countries.”

Roberto Romulo, a former Philippine foreign minister, told the Philippine news channel ANC that there appeared to be no discussion about the Rohingya at the ASEAN summit.

“They’re treating with a great deal of respect a discredited Nobel Peace Prize winner like Aung San Suu Kyi,” he said.

Amnesty International Philippines representative Wilnor Papa told ANC that the ASEAN leaders would talk about “terrorism and peace and order … but there are a whole lot of elephants in the room they won’t be talking about, that people are trying to ignore.”


‘A VERY MINOR BLOGGER’ | Watch: Du30 supporter Sass Sasot confronts journo over BBC feature on PAB’s Jover Laurio

Avid Duterte supporter and blogger Sass Rogando Sasot (right) confronts BBC's Richard Head (left) Monday afternoon, November 13, 2017, at the International Media Center in Pasay City during the ASEAN Summit. Photo by Camille Aguinalod, InterAksyon
(UPDATED – 3:09 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Staunch Duterte supporter and blogger Sass Rogando Sasot confronted British Broadcasting Corp. Southeast Asia correspondent Richard Head Monday afternoon at the International Media Center in Pasay City, where local and foreign reporters were covering the ASEAN Summit, raising questions about BBC supposedly giving a “minor blogger” and Duterte critic Jover Laurio a platform on the international media network.

Sasot and Head came across each other when the latter approached Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to greet her, who was with Sasot.

“Tell me, Mr. Jonathan, how is it possible that Jover Laurio, a very minor blogger in the Philippines, was featured by the BBC in order to defend herself against the people who outed her identity, but not someone like me whose social media following is way, way higher than her, whose Facebook engagement is way, way higher than her, and who you have even interacted on Facebook?” Sasot asked.

Laurio is behind Pinoy Ako Blog, which is often critical about the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I know that in order for you to be interviewed by a big platform like BBC, you should have been given access. It’s either that you were really, really famous, that you are a decision-maker of a country, you are a celebrity, and you’re gonna be given this platform. But Jover Laurio is none of that. The only link to that is that she is being protected, sponsored, financed probably by the Liberal Party of the Philippines,” Sasot added.

Head repeatedly said that he would rather continue the conversation with Sasot elsewhere.

“We can have this conversation for a very long time. Can we find time over where we actually can engage and talk together?” he asked.

They then asked for each other’s schedules and found that Sasot is going to Davao on Tuesday, while Head will be in Manila until Wednesday.

The conversation returned to the topic of Laurio, and Sasot said that Pinoy Ako Blog “was slandering and libeling people along the way, especially those who are critical of the Vice President of the Philippines.”

She added, “And the BBC and the international media do not care about this anger. All you care about is whether is the president has a paid troll network or not. And you have insulted not just me but millions of followers and supporters of the president.”

“Do you know that a lot of overseas Filipino workers are doing everything in order to combat the lies being peddled by mainstream media, including Rappler, Inquirer, ABS-CBN?” she continued. “And I know that international media is only getting its feed from these people because they have power, resources, and connections to do this. You know, a lot of people are insulted that you are only covering one side of the story.”

“That’s not true,” Head replied. “We have covered many sides.”

Sasot also said the media (it is unclear if she was referring to the BBC) also compromised her safety by publishing her address.

Despite the tension, with Sasot even bursting into tears at one point, the two ended on a polite note.

“It’s nice to talk to you,” Head said.

“Yeah, nice to talk to you,” Sasot replied.

Watch the video: Sass Sasot in a confrontation with BBC's Richard Head


Protesters vs Trump, 6 cops hurt in dispersal; ralliers to return Tuesday

Water cannons are used by Manila police to disperse the protesters on Monday. (contributed photo)
MANILA – (UPDATE, 3:30 P.M) Dozens of protesters and six policemen were injured Monday when security forces forcibly dispersed, with truncheons and water cannons, a phalanx of anti-Trump activists who were trying to advance nearer the US Embassy as the 31st ASEAN Summit and related meetings opened a few kilometers away.

Militant groups and police authorities quickly traded accusations about who started the violence, with Manila police – backed by NCRPO chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde – saying video and drone footage clearly showed protesters rushing a police unit at the corner of Taft Avenue and Padre Faura to breach through a cordon leading to Roxas Boulevard, which was in total lockdown for the Summit events.

The event drew quick condemnation from the organizers of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum, which had been under way in Quezon City since the weekend, as a gathering of Southeast Asian peoples in parallel with their governments.

“We condemn the violent dispersal of a peaceful demonstration by people’s organizations and social movements against the ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit as represented by Heads of States and governments that have imposed on the peoples of Southeast Asia a development model that has increased social inequalities and violated the human rights of the people,” said a statement sent to media by Dr. Ed Tadem, co-convenor of the ACSC/APF Philippine National Organizing Committee.

One of the protest leaders in Manila, former party-list representative Teddy Casiño, said in a radio interview that despite the dispersal, the mass actions will continue, and in fact, “we have a concluding activity tomorrow (Tuesday),” when most of the 31st ASEAN Summit, the East Asia Summit and related meetings are scheduled to end.

“Hindi na magpipilit na lumapit sa US embassy or PICC. Apat na araw na natin sinubukan [Protesters will no longer attempt to get near the US Embassy or the PICC],” Casiño said, referring to the attempts of various rally groups since Friday to mount protests near the two sites: the embassy, because of the visit of US President Donald Trump, and the Philippine International Convention Center, venue of most summit meetings.

Casiño said, “Ang isang pinag-iisipan na venue ay [One venue being considered is] Mendiola,” the historic street leading to Malacañang. He said they didn’t expect to be shooed away from Mendiola, since neither President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Trump are expected to be there on Tuesday.

The more important thing to accomplish, he explained, is to send the message that people condemn the “pagkatuta ni Duterte kay Trump [Duterte’s being a lapdog of Trump].”

Is this a peaceful rally? Albayalde asks protesters

At least six policemen were injured when ralliers rushed a civil distubance management unit of the Philippine National Police at the corner of Taft Avenue and Padre Faura Street, drone video provided by authorities showed.

Security forces were then prompted to train water cannons to stop the advancing protesters.

According to Chief Supt. Joel Coronel, Manila Police District director, “May anim [na pulis] na nasugatan dahil sa skirmish. Usually bruises at contusions. Naka-deploy pa rin sila; walang uwian dito kahit nasugatan. Binigyan ng first aid. Kahapon mayroon na po nahuli, na nagpilit [six cops got hurt, usually bruises and contusions. They remain deployed, no one goes home despite the injuries. Yesterday we already arrested some people who insisted on breaking through the security cordon].”.

Police director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the NCRPO, questioned the militant’s claims that they were only holding a peaceful mass action. “Pinupukpok [They were hitting the cops], video will show. What do you call that, a peaceful rally?”

Nonetheless, Albayalde said the security teams “are prepared for this. We prepared for the worst case.”

Albayalde said he was satisfied with the cops’ performance. “As you could see, none from our ranks retaliated. despite their injuries. This one has wounds, it’s swollen, see? And yet he doesn’t complain. You call this peaceful?”

The NCRPO chief also warned foreigneers joining the street protests “they can be deported” as “undesireable aliens” and they cannot return to the country.

He said those arrested had been trying to get to the PICC and the US embassy, “which we cannot allow. Naka-lock down Roxas Boulevard; nagpipilitan pa rin. Sinasaktan mga pulis para sila makalusot.They can conduct rally in a peaceful manner. Pero manakit ng tao, di na tama.”

Holding the rallies per se will not be stopped by the PNP, even if they do them overnight, said Albayalde. “They can stay forever if they want to. Pakiusapa natin, maging mahinahon at huwag maging bayolente. Di na makakalampas mga yan.”

The PNP-CIDG will file charges against the protesters they arrested.

Protests elsewhere

While the militants have been focused on the US embassy and Trump, protest materials sent out for ASEAN week by other left-leaning groups have uniformly slammed “the US, China, and other imperialist states,” accusing them of being “in collusion to break down tariff and trade barriers and to push for all-out liberalization, and for unlimited plunder of our resources and further exploitation of labor.”

This framing, by Kabataan Representative Sarah I. Elago, predicted dire repercussions on young Filipinos. “For the youth, this also spells the seamless transfer and sellout of intellectual capital for the students and youth, as our education system is shaped to further meet the demands of their market through reforms such as K-to-12 and the academic calendar shift,” Elago said.

“Despite Duterte’s fake patriotic gestures and advances towards China and Russia, the US and the Philippines are warming up. Duterte’s meeting with Trump will rubber stamp his aspirations of a fascist dictatorship, in exchange for the opening up of US military bases for Balikatan exercises and other operations,” she added.

Earlier, similar protests were held in Clark Field, where about half of the world leaders and top officials attending the ASEAN events flew in at the weekend via the Clark International Airport.

Clark used to hold a major American air base – one of the US’ most important outside the mainland – which became its bulwark in the Asia-Pacific alongside the Subic naval base in Olongapo City. The US bases were ousted by a US Senate vote in 1991, ending nine decades of American military presence.

According to the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN) which led a protest rally at the Clark Gate in Angeles City, Pampanga, “Trump’s visit to Asia is to toughen the US’ Asia Pivot and further with its wars of aggression. A continuation of the US imperialist’s survival and its rivalry with China.

“While this year’s ASEAN will only reinforce the interests of every state to continue with the neoliberal policies and strengthen the competition between the US, China and other capitalist countries. It will not tackle the real people’s issues.”

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