PNP imposes gun ban from November 1 to 15

GUNS PROHIBITED. The PNP imposes a gun ban for the first half of November, which covers Undas and the ASEAN Summit. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has started enforcing its gun ban in Metro Manila and Central Luzon on All Saints’ Day, November 1.

In a phone interview with Rappler on November 1, PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa passed a suspension of all permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFORs) in late October.

With this directive, firearms owners cannot bring their guns outside their homes.

The ban will last till November 15, or until the conclusion of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila. 

Aside from the National Capital Region, the ban also covers Region 3 or Central Luzon, which includes the following provinces: Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales.

This comes as the country recoils from a 5-month war against homegrown terrorists. For this, Dela Rosa himself urged the public to remain vigilant against terrorist threats during the holidays, when people flock to public places such as cemeteries, transport terminals, and malls.

In October alone, the PNP nabbed two individuals with suspected ties with the Maute Group for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. – Rappler.com

 
 
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De Lima gets highest human rights award from Liberal International

AWARD. The Liberal International has awarded detained Senator Leila de Lima its highest human rights prize. File Photo by Joseph Vidal/PRIB 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima has received the highest human rights prize from Liberal International, a global federation of liberal political parties.

De Lima, member of the Liberal Party (LP), is the second Filipino recipient of the Prize for Freedom award, after former president Corazon Aquino in 1987.

 

According to a statement from the organization, global politicians voted this week to grant the award to De Lima during the 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. At least 100 liberals from 32 countries were registered to participate in the meeting, the statement added.

Liberal International was one of the first international organizations to campaign for De Lima’s release and has taken the case to the United Nations Human Rights Council and has also rallied parliamentarians across Europe.

Markus Löning, chairman of Liberal International’s Human Rights Committee, said that the senator has been a “flag-bearer” for human rights in the Philippines and beyond.

“Even from inside the prison she keeps fighting for the rule of law and the dignity of individuals. She should immediately be released from pre-trial detention,” Loning, who earlier met with De Lima in detention, said in a statement.

De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody drug war, has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February over drug charges she claimed were fabricated. The Supreme Court earlier ruled against De Lima's petition to nullify her arrest warrant on questions of case jurisdiction, thereby keeping her in jail.

According to LI, the Prize for Freedom is awarded to “a well-known personality of liberal conviction who has made outstanding efforts for the defense of freedom and human rights.”

Previous recipients include the imprisoned Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi (2016), Helen Suzman (2002), and Martin Lee (1996). The award was first made in 1986.

While in detention, De Lima has also received other awards including the 2016 Global Thinker Award by Foreign Policy, one of the Top Most Influential People for 2017 by Time Magazine, and one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders for 2017 by Amnesty International. – Rappler.com

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Undas 2017: Traffic and security situation at cemeteries

RELATIVELY PEACEFUL. Thousands trooped the Carreta cemetery, one of the two most crowded cemeteries in Cebu City, on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Photo by Mars Mosqueda Jr/Rappler 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – While Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa reminded the public to be vigilant against terrorist threats at crowded areas like cemeteries during All Saints' Day, no major incidents have been reported as of Wednesday afternoon, November 1. 

The PNP earlier released a list of items prohibited inside cemeteries, while the The Land Transportation Office came out with road safety tips for those home to the provinces.

Minor incidents in Central Visayas 

In Central Visayas, Undas was relatively peaceful and orderly as of noontime, according to the regional police.

“We are happy that the public is cooperating with the police even with the strict security measures we are implementing in cemeteries,” said Police Regional Office (PRO) VII Director Jose Mario Espino.

So far, no major incidents related to the observance of All Saints’ Day were reported in the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor.

In Cebu City, thousands of people trooped to the major cemeteries – the Carreta and Calamba cemeteries – to visit their departed loved ones. Espino said the relatively good weather prompted more people to visit the cemeteries early.

As of noon time, the police have seized bladed weapons, mostly those used in clearing tombs of weeds and plants, and bottles of alcoholic drinks.

Wanted man arrested in Cebu City

At the Carreta Cemetery, the police arrested a 27-year-old wanted man for carrying an unlicensed .38 caliber revolver inside the cemetery undetected by security personnel manning the entrance.

Waterfront Police Station chief Senior Inspector Jovito Labra said a concerned citizen informed the police about the suspect, Rolito Fernandez, who was seen carrying a .38 revolver inside the cemetery.

Labra said Fernandez, whom they found out has an arrest warrant for robbery, was immediately arrested by authorities.

Aside from deploying hundreds of policemen and security personnel at the different cemeteries in Central Visayas, Espino said policemen have also been deployed in various tourist destinations in the region. 

Security measures at Duterte parents' grave

In Davao City, the police have deployed forces to secure the Davao Roman Catholic Cemetery, also known as the Wireless Cemetery, for President Rodrigo Duterte's possible visit to his parents' grave on Wednesday. 

"The President is probably visiting so we've tightened our security there," Senior Police Inspector Maria Theresita Gaspan said in a radio interview on Monday, October 30.

"We've also mounted a security plan from road security down to perimeter security," added Gaspan.

In 2016, his first Undas as president, Duterte nearly failed to pay respects to his parents' grave due to bad weather. 

The President visits the grave of his parents – Davao Governor Vicente Gonzales Duterte and educator Soledad Roa – during All Saints' Day and on their death anniversaries and birthdays.

The President just returned from an official trip to Japan on Tuesday night.

Bookmark this page for updates from various parts of the country. – with reports from Mick Basa and Mars W. Mosqueda Jr/Rappler.com

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Cayetano backtracks, says Philippines open to EU aid

MANILA – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday, October 25, backtracked on his earlier statement that the Philippines is rejecting all forms of grants from the European Union (EU).
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Cayetano said that the Philippines will reject foreign donations that come with "conditionalities that will affect our sovereignty." He said that this is "not an EU-specific policy."
When asked if the Philippines will accept EU aid for war-ravaged Marawi City, Cayetano answered: "I already stated the policy. If there are no conditionalities and it will not affect our sovereignty, then everyone is free to help."
He said that if it will affect Philippine sovereignty, however, then the Philippines will not accept the donation. "But it will not hurt Marawi or the community because they are free to give it to international organizations or to the community directly."
"So the question should now be addressed to EU. Are they willing to give without conditionalities, or if the conditionalities are there, are they willing to do it through international organizations?" Cayetano said.
Cayetano made these remarks after meeting with EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen. President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lambasted the EU for supposedly meddling in his anti-drug campaign.
Cayetano's statements on Wednesday contradicted his announcement on October 19 that the Philippines is rejecting all kinds of grants from the EU.
On that day, a reporter even asked Cayetano if this involves all kinds of aid. Cayetano responded, "That's my impression – so aid meaning grants."
He confirmed that this move was the product of months-long discussions. He even said he will formally relay this decision to the EU ambassador.
The EU is the second top destination of Philippine exports, a major donor of the Philippines, and the fourth biggest source of overseas Filipino workers' remittances. – Rappler.com

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Duterte to Iloilo Mayor Mabilog: 'You're next'

MANILA– "You're next."
This was President Rodrigo Duterte's brief but chilling warning to Iloilo City Mayor Jed Mabilog on Wednesday, October 25.
Speaking at an ASEAN Law Association event in Malacañang, Duterte said: "The mayor of Iloilo City, I identified him. This was broadcasted. I said you are next, you're next."
Duterte has accused Mabilog of being in cahoots with drug lords, after claiming that the mayor's city is a prime hub for the trafficking of shabu.
The President's warning was preceded by a reminder to Mabilog of the fate of another local politician accused of working with drug lords – Reynaldo Parojinog Sr of Ozamiz City.
Duterte claimed he ordered the deadly raid that killed Parojinog and 14 others, the first time he clearly admitted direct involvement in the operation.
He said this proves he is going after the "big fish," not just the poor drug peddlers and addicts.
"They say this Duterte is only going after the small fry. Really? When I ordered an operation against Parojinog, the mayor of Ozamiz City, I didn't have second thoughts about what would happen because I knew they were going to fight it out," said Duterte.
He likened Parojinog to Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, who was killed in his jail cell in Leyte, supposedly after a shootout with police. The National Bureau of Investigation, however, concluded that police murdered Espinosa.
Instead of condemning the cops, Duterte reinstated the police officer who supervised the operation and assured the public they have nothing to fear.
Local chief executives like Mabilog, Parojinog, and Espinosa do not deserve to be treated well because of how they have abused their power, declared the President.
"Your rights will end where the interest of my country begins…Do not ever, ever mess up with my country. We will never understand each other," said Duterte.
The 3 mayors are included in Duterte's list of suspected drug personalities.
The President earlier ordered a lifestyle check on Mabilog and also admitted wiretapping narcopoliticians, without saying he had the court orders to do so.
Mabilog maintains his innocence. – Rappler.com

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Esperon favors extension of martial law in Mindanao

MANILA – National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said he personally favored the extension of martial law in Mindanao and would recommend it to President Rodrigo Duterte, if needed.
In an interview with reporters at the Manila port on Wednesday, October 25, Esperon said martial law in Mindanao was still needed to address other terror threats in the region. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had declared that the end of military operations in Marawi on Monday, October 23.
"Well, we have it (martial law in Mindanao) up to December the 31st but personally I would like it to stay in place," said Esperon, responding to reporters' questions.
When asked in another Malacañang event if he meant he personally prefered an extension and would recommend it to President Rodrigo Duterte, he said, "Yes...Why not? If the obtaining conditions so necessitate."
In Esperon's interview at the Manila port, he said martial law may still be needed beyond December 31 to help the military quell other terror groups which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
"Because while the combat operations are over, let us remember that there are probable and possible elements that can still carry on the affiliation to ISIS," he said.
Esperon mentioned groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The President said as much on Tuesday, October 24, when he called on the Philippine Air Force to prepare for more operations against terror threats in Mindanao.
Keeping martial law in Mindanao would also "benefit" the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in devastated Marawi, said Esperon.
Duterte is expected to consult with the military, police, and defense officials on when to lift martial law.
Duterte declared a 60-day martial law period when the Marawi conflict erupted on May 23. Congress later granted his request to extend martial rule in the region until December 31. (TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)
In the final weeks of the Marawi crisis, Duterte said he would lift martial law when clearing operations in the Mindanao city were over. – Rappler.com

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Media task force says murdered radioman had been threatened by Bislig mayor

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Wednesday said that it had warned Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro to stop threatening radioman Christopher Ivan Lozada, who was murdered on Tuesday.
According to PTFoMS in a statement, it issued a red-flag letter warning to Navarro on October 24, ordering him to "desist from threatening Christopher Lozada" and saying, "in case any untoward incident happens to him, we will include you [the mayor] as possible perpetrator of the same."
"Sadly, Lozada was killed even before the letter-warning could reach the mayor," the task force said.
PTFoMS said Lozada had informed them that the mayor texted him "to leave Bislig if you do not want to die" and that "he would step down with Lozada who will go to the cemetery since his days are numbered."
Lozada was offered security but he refused, saying that he wanted to document the threats against him so that in case he is harmed, PTFoMS could run after Navarro.
The Office of the Ombudsman last month ordered the mayor's removal from office, which PTFoMs said had been based on a complaint filed by the radio anchor.
PTFoMS said after this incident, Lozada asked it to make representations with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to execute the Ombudsman's order to remove Navarro from office.
Lozada was advised to submit the necessary documents in relation to his complaint.
PTFoMS also advised Lozada to be extra cautious on his travels and actions as he had declined offers of security.
PTFoMS said Lozada went to DILG a day before he was killed to press the office to immediately serve the dismissal order against Navarro.
Lozada was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday night. His girlfriend Honey Faith Indog was wounded in the attack and is still being treated in the hospital.
PTFoMS vowed to investigate Lozada's killing.
"As a matter of policy, PTFoMS presumes Lozada's death as a media killing and falls under its mandate in relation to Administrative Order No. 1 (AOI) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to protect life, liberty and security of media workers," it said.
"We seek justice no less for Mr. Lozada. The PTFoMS will keep a close watch and strictly monitor the progress of this investigation and even provide legal assistance, if necessary," it added. —GMA News

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Suspected Maute group ‘financier’ nabbed in Novaliches – reports

(Reuters file)
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2 – 1:24 p.m.) A suspected financier of the Maute group that was involved in the recently ended occupation of Marawi City was arrested in Novaliches, Quezon City on Friday, October 27, radio reports said.

Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar, director of the Quezon City Police District, said the suspect, Rasdy Malawani, also known as Rasdi Macabangkit, 42, managed the Salam Bazaar at the Novaliches Plaza Mall, collecting rent from stall holders.

The store is believed owned by Ominta Romato “Farhana” Maute, the mother of brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam, who led the extremist group that battled government forces for control of Marawi for five months from May 23.

The police and military personnel who arrested Malawani also recovered a .45 caliber pistol, a rocket-propelled grenade, and bank transaction receipts supposedly linking him to the Maute matriarch.

He will be charged with illegal possession of these weapons.

But National Capital Region Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde said Malawani could face rebellion charges as well fo aiding the Maute group.

At a press briefing, Eleazar said that, following Ominta’s arrest soon after fighting broke out in Marawi, it was Malawani who remitted the rent he collected — an average of P300,000 a month — to Azesha Makabangkit-Maute, also known as “Lily,” in Marawi City.

Azesha is the wife of Madie Maute, who was killed during the fighting in Marawi in August.

Eleazar said a financial investigation is underway into how Malawani and Farhana’s legitimate businesses provided funds to the Maute group.

“We have reason to believe, based on the information (and) the case build-up conducted that funds that were obtained from these businesses are being used to support activities in Marawi,” he said.

Albayalde said police are monitoring individual supporters or sympathizers of the Maute group, including “lone wolves” like Malawani.

“Dito kasi (Here), they can do legitimate business and puwede sila magpunta kung saan-saan kasi marami silang kamag-anak at enclave (they can go wherever they want because they have many relatives and enclaves),” he added.

At the same time, he stressed, “we would like to make clear that there is no clear and present danger of any terror attack in Metro Manila. Metro Manila remains peaceful.”

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Disclosing contents of Ventura affidavit illegal – Aguirre

Aegis Juris Fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura at the Department of Justice in Manila on Wednesday, October 25. (photo courtesy of J.V. Arcena, News5)

MANILA, Philippines — Are news reports drawn from the contents of the sworn statement Aegis Juris fraternity member Marc Anthony Ventura submitted to apply for witness protection illegal?

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II indicated as much in a statement released by his office on Friday, October 27, in which he said: “Any copy of the Sinumpaang Salaysayobtained by anyone and released publicly is a clear violation of the law and will be dealt with accordingly.”

In the statement, Aguirre cited Section 7 of Republic Act No. 6981, or “An Act Providing for a Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program and for Other Purposes,” saying, “no information or documents given or submitted in support of an application for admission to the WPP shall be released except upon written order of the Department or the proper court.”

“As of this statement, the Office of the Secretary of the DOJ has not issued any written order authorizing the release of any copy of the Sinumpaang Salaysay of Marc Anthony B. Ventura which he submitted to the Witness Protection Program,” the statement added.

Copies of Ventura’s statement were obtained and widely reported on by media on Thursday. 

But on Wednesday, October 25, the day Ventura went to Aguirre’s office to apply for witness protection, the Justice secretary himself, at a press conference he called to announce the “very welcome development,” basically narrated almost everything that would later be detailed in the Sinumpaang Salaysay.

This was before Ventura’s formal admission into the WPP.

 

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Manila lands in bottom 10 of safest cities list

Out of 60 cities, Manila ranked 55th on the Safest Cities Index 2017, Balitanghali reported on Tuesday, citing research company Economist Intelligence Unit.
Joining Manila at the bottom 10 are Cairo, Tehran, Quiro, Caracas, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Dhaka, Yangon and Karachi.
Meanwhile, the following are ranked as the safest cities in the world:
Tokyo
Singapore
Osaka
Toronto
Melbourne
Amsterdam
Sydney
Stockholm
Hong Kong
Zurich
Economist Intelligence Unit based the ranking on digital, health, infrastructure and personal safety.
Mayor Joseph Estrada, meanwhile, defended his city, saying that Manila has the lowest crime rate around the metro.
Meanwhile, it was a different story for the survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation which was released on October 10.
Its result showed that Metro Manila is one of the safer megacities for women around the world.
The survey actually referred to "Manila," though as a megacity is defined as having a population of 10 million or more, it is clear it means Metro Manila.
Cities are scored on a scale of 1 to 19 for each area, with 1 being the worst score and 19 being the best.
Manila got 13 in sexual violence, 10 in access to healthcare, 13 in cultural practices and 17 in economic opportunities. — GMA News

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