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. –


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. –


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. –


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


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.”


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.



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:
Hong Kong
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


LTFRB says new charges to be filed against PISTON's San Mateo

A Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) official said on Tuesday that they would file new charges against Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) convener George San Mateo over reports that transport group members had physically coerced jeepney drivers into joining a two-day strike
"They have a constitutional right to assembly, the same manner that the drivers have a constitutional right to earn a living," said LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada. "I personally saw it, may bakal pang kasama. Dito naman, we are receiving reports in Tondo, hinaharang rin sila."
The LTFRB claimed that some Pampanga jeepney drivers who had refused to join the transport strike had their windows smashed in, while PISTON members blocked fellow drivers along Quezon City's Commonwealth Avenue.
PISTON had also supposedly violated traffic rules by blocking roads during their protest.
"We have received reports that they are already occupying the road and they're causing traffic," Lizada said. "You are not allowed to stay here. If you're already on the road, you're violating already laws, traffic code. Nobody's above the law, we have to be in order as well."
"We will have to gather our data and file the necessary case," she later added.
The LTFRB, in September, had filed a complaint against San Mateo with the Quezon City prosecutor's office over a violation of the Commonwealth Act 146 or the Public Service Law.
The transport board denied that the complaint was due to the strike.

Claims, counter-claims
Lizada was met with jeers from protesters when she arrived near the LRT-2 station in Cubao, close to a group of striking jeepney drivers.
She claimed the protest did not affect commuters as badly as the strikers claimed, contrary to PISTON's pronouncement that they had paralyzed 90 percent of Metro Manila's public transportation.
"I think the roads will speak for itself, the presence of the jeepneys on the road. We only dispatched 10 vehicles out of our 74 vehicles; that was 10 a.m. Nationwide kami, we are still monitoring, 0 percent," Lizada said.
She added that PISTON's failure to attract other transport groups to their cause was a victory for the LTFRB and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
"Why? Bakit hindi kayo nakakumbinsi ng isang transport group na sumama sa inyo? That is already victory on the part of LTFRB and DOTr," Lizada said.
However, San Mateo disputed Lizada's claim that the strike had failed given that the government had called off classes and work for two consecutive days.
"Ang katotohanan, kung saan mismo siya nagpapahayag kanina, sinasabi niya palpak ang welga. Eh 95 percent paralisado yung jeep papunta dun sa Maynila," San Mateo countered.
"Ang problema kay board member Lizada sinusukat niya ang lakas ng welga doon sa mapeperwisyong pasahero. Kami, hindi po. Sinusukat namin ang tagumpay dun sa dami ng mga driver at operator na lumalahok sa protesta," he continued.
He then challenged the LTFRB to release their estimates on how many people would have been inconvenienced by the strike if the government had not been proactive in cancelling work and classes.

Duterte dialogue
Kilusang Mayo Uno Secretary General Jerome Adonis said they paid Lizada no attention as they were focused on having a dialogue with President Rodrigo Duterte over the jeepney modernization program and the supposed corporate interests the program promoted.
"Ang prinsipal na kasalanan, si Duterte mismo dahil tinutulak niya talaga yung modernization na aariin ng mga korporasyon at tsaka ng mga dayuhan. Kaya dito po sa nangyayaring ito, ayaw naming kausap si Lizada, deodorizer ni Duterte yan eh," Adonis said.
"Dito po ang accountable mismo yung programa ni Duterte na pagbibigay sa mga dayuhang korporasyon at ng usapin ng patuloy niyang pagtutulak ng jeepney phaseout na ito," he continued.
Duterte had earlier told jeepney drivers that they needed to upgrade their jeepneys by the end of the year as old engines emitted too much carbon dioxide, affecting the public's health.
The president then accused PISTON, the KMU, Karapatan, and other militant groups of being fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“It is one big conspiracy. Right now… All of them are committing rebellion,” Duterte had said. — GMA News


DENR officer, doctor caught in Davao City pot session

DAVAO CITY – A government official and a physician were arrested late Tuesday afternoon, October 17, after authorities found they were holding a pot session at a subdivision here.
Some 8 grams of suspected shabu and ecstasy capsules were taken from Benjamin Jaraplasan Medel and Stephen So Tay during a buy-bust operation at 5:30 pm Tuesday at San Pedro Village, Buhangin, Davao City, said Iav Naravy Duquiatan, officer in charge of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region XI.
Duquiatan, who reaveled the information at a press conference on Wednesday, October 18, said Tay is a Davao-based physician considered by PDEA as a high-profile target in the region.
The buy-bust operation also yielded a unit of fragmentation grenade and an Isuzu Dmax allegedly used by Tay in illegal drug activities, said Duquiatan.

Pot session with ‘frat mate’
Meanwhile, Ben Joseph Tesiorna, PDEA XI’s legal counsel, said authorities were not expecting they would arrest Medel, a provincial officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Bicol Region.
Medel, allegedly Tay’s fraternity mate based on PDEA’s investigation, was in Davao to attend a convention, said Tesiorna.
“Unfortunately, he was with Dr Tay during the conduct of the buy-bust operation,” said Tesiorna.
“He was just invited by Dr Tay to have a pot session. Unfortunately, he was doing in the hometown of the President,” he added.
Tesiorna said Medel could not deny his involvement in the illegal activity as he turned out positive for illegal drugs.
Both Tay and Medel are now in PDEA XI’s detention facility. The agency said it is preparing to file charges against the two for violating Section 5, Section, 11, Section 12, and Section 15, Article II of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and Republic Act 9516, which amends the anti-illegal firearms law.
Medel could also face absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office if he is found guilty of the said violations, according to PDEA. –


Second petition vs TokHang filed at SC

MANILA – A second petition against the police-led Oplan TokHang was filed before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 18.
The Center for International Law (CenterLaw) filed the petition seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to protect certain individuals and the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila, against the anti-illegal drug campaign.
In a 57-page petition, CenterLaw sought the issuance of a temporary protection order (TPO) prohibiting police authorities from getting near the residences and workplaces of the families of 35 residents of San Andres Bukid who were killed in the drug raids in the area for the past 13 months.
Among the respondents in the petition are the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, Manila Police District (MPD) Director Senior Superintendent Joel Coronel, Manila Police Station 6 Commander Superintendent Olivia Ancheta Sagaysay, and Superintendents Jerry Corpuz and Robert Domingo.
The others are MPD Station 6's Police Officer 2 Rhafael Rodriguez, Police Officer 2 Princeton Felia, Police Officer 1 Harry Allan Cruz, Police Officer 1 Kennith Gaa, Police Officer 1 Efren Guitering, Police Officer 2 Jocelyn Samson, Police Officer 3 Allan Escramosa, Police Officer 2 Francisco Mendoza, Police Officer 2 Roestrell Ocampo, Police Officer 3 Rodolfo Ocampo Jr, Senior Inspector Concorcio Pangilinan, and 3 others identified only through their aliases Harry, Junior, and Ivan.
The petition specifically sought to enjoin the respondents from entering within a radius of one kilometer from the residence and work addresses of the families of TokHang victims.
It also sought to bar the respondents from directly or indirectly harassing, contacting, or communicating with the affected parties.
A writ of amparo is a remedy that serves to protect constitutional rights perceived to be in danger. It covers extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.
The petitioners also asked the Court to enjoin the police from conducting anti-drug operations in San Andres Bukid without the required coordination and presence of representatives from the barangay, PDEA, and the media.
The petitioners are led by Sister Ma Juanita Daño of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and include 47 others who are suing individually and collectively. The petition was filed as a class suit on behalf of all the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres.
San Andres, which is part of the 5th District of Manila, has a total of 65 barangays.

Systematic violence
The petition recounted the systematic violence allegedly committed by members of MPD Station 6 against residents of San Andres Bukid and its adjacent areas.
The petition pointed to "police cordoning off the perimeters of slum communities and disabling closed circuit cameras; of armed men entering these areas in the dead of night, barging into houses no better than oversized boxes, shooting their victims and leaving."
It also talked about "police standing guard, training their flashlights on houses and windows and shouting harsh warnings at the neighbors not to look while armed men break down doors and gun down the victims inside their own homes; of police appearing in the scene shortly after, carting off the bodies of the victims and directing that the bodies be brought to the police’s authorized funeral parlors."
The petitioners asked the Court to prohibit police from coercing barangay officials into producing or submitting a list of alleged drug users, pushers, or trouble-makers in community until the respondents have shown full compliance with the constitutional requirements of due process, the requirements of the Data Privacy Act, and regulatory assurance against arbitrariness and criminal machination.
According to the petition, many victims of drug-related killings in their community had surrendered to barangay authorities after their names were included in the local drug watch list.
“Sometime thereafter, violence were visited upon them and their families resulting in their death or those of their relatives and even those who were merely at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the petition read.
“It appears that the Respondents have generated a list that they have apparently pressured barangay officials to make and to submit to them. Such list has become what has been referred to as the kill list,” it added.
The first petition against Oplan TokHang was filed before the SC on January 26, on behalf of the families of 4 drug suspects killed in Payatas, Quezon City in August 2016, as well as the lone survivor in the incident.
The High Court issued a writ of amparo based on the first petition in late January, and another in February.
On October 10, President Rodrigo Duterte removed the Philippine National Police from the helm of the drug war, and tasked PDEA as the sole agency on top of the campaign.
Even with this order, policemen led a drug raid in Tondo, Manila, on October 11, leading to the deaths of 3 drug suspects.
The PNP had announced the suspension of its flagship anti-drug campaign Oplan Double Barrel, including TokHang, on October 12. –

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