Aguirre orders NBI to ‘share’ all anti-drugs info with PDEA

The NBI headquarters in Manila. (Philstar file)
MANILA – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Friday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to share with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) all the information pertaining to their anti-illegal drugs operations.

“The National Bureau of Investigation is hereby directed to leave to the PDEA all operations against illegal drugs. All information/data shall forthwith be relayed, delivered or brought to the attention pf the PDEA for its appropriate action,” read Department Order (DO) no. 670 dated October 13 signed by Aguirre.

According to Aguirre, the DO was issued after President Rodrigo Duterte named the PDEA as the lead agency in the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

President Duterte also directed the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and other agencies, as well as ad hoc anti-drug task forces to stop conducting anti-illegal drug operations.

In a memorandum, the President said these agencies shall “leave to the PDEA, as sole agency, the conduct of all campaigns and operations against all those who directly or indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity, are involved or connected with illegal drugs”.

Duterte issued the directive “to bring order to the operation/campaign against illegal drugs, thus pinpointing precise accountability.”

“The PNP shall at all times maintain police visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities, leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated,” the memo said.

Duterte’s directive was issued following allegations of human rights abuses committed by the PNP in the war against prohibited drugs.

Aguirre, however, admitted that the PDEA remains undermanned in taking on the anti-illegal drugs war.

He said PDEA still needs to increase the number of its personnel but he is optimistic that the Chief Executive would be able to find a solution to the problem.

“I’m sure the President will look or (has) looked into the problem and will come out with a palliative (remedy),” the Justice Secretary added.

Aguirre intends to carefully study the memorandum to determine how the NBI could better assist the PDEA.

“I will check up to what extent, if allowed, could we participate in this war against illegal drugs,” he also said.

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Storm Odette lashes Pangasinan, Mindoro, Palawan on its way out of PAR

Gate of state weather agency PAGASA flags observance of Typhoon and Flood Awareness Week. PNA FILE PHOTO
MANILA – Moderate to heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Odette continued to batter Dagupan city and Pangasinan province, where the weather bureau retained tropical cyclone warning signal No. 1 on Saturday as Odette remained almost stationary despite being forecast to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility later on Saturday (Oct. 14).

Dagupan Mayor Belen T. Fernandez ordered the CDRRMC to strictly monitor the situation and be prepared to evacuate residents whose lives might be put at risk because of the storm.

A number of villages, especially those located near rivers, were placed briefly under water when tidal waters rose by 1.4 meter at 4:21 a.m. Saturday.

According to the Office of Civil Defense director for Region IV-B Eugene Cabrera, the Mindoro provinces and Palawan, especially its Cagayancillo town, experinced strong rains.

Cabrera said in a radio interview some flooding was reported in Occ. Mindoro, especially in Sta. Cruz and Sablayan towns; as well as in Calapan in Oriental Mindoro.

Cabrera confirmed that the level at a spillway in Occ. Mindoro had overtopped, prompting warnings for small vehicles not to use nearby roads, which remained passable to trucks, though. He said the local disaster and risk reduction and management offices (DRRMOs) are closely monitoring the situation, with instructions to order the evacuation of people as needed.

He said the provincial RRMO was also watching flood-prone areas in Mindoro provinces but no landslides were reported so far.

Meanwhile, port operations continued, though small seacraft have been issued gale warnings.

According to Cabrera, the main concern is prepositioning of emergency crew and relief, since the region has many island barangays, so that response agencies need to be able to quickly come in and help once SOS is sent.

In Dagupan City, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) has been on standby since 10 a.m. Saturday, reading a rescue boat, dump trucks and equipment in case evacuation of affected residents is necessary.

Despite the rains, market vendors continued to peddle their wares at the Malimgas Public Market and other public and private markets in the city.

Meanwhile, the CDRRMC advised owners of fishing boats and small crafts not to venture yet into the Lingayen Gulf as strong to gale force winds prevail due to “Odette”.

The advisory, issued at 10 a.m. Saturday, stated that the sea is still rough to very rough with waves as high as 3.4 meters to 4.5 meters, which would be very dangerous for fishing boats and small crafts.

Odette stationary, but seen exiting PAR

As of 1 pm, PAGASA weather forecaster Jun Galang said Odette remained almost stationary west of Sinait, Ilocos Sur, but was slowly moving northwest. Nonetheless, it was expected to leave PAR within the day, Galang said in a radio interview, but conceded they cannot give an exact estimate of the exit time because sometimes it becomes almost stationary and sometimes it suddenly picks up speed.

Galang also warned that even after Odette has exited, or when it does, “its outer spiral can still affect huge parts” of Luzon – Metro Manila, Central and Southern Luzon – as well as Palawan.

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Visitor spending up, Chinese tourists now 2nd biggest market — DOT

International visitor arrivals for July grew only 1.28%, but tourists' spending for the month went up by 58.22%, the Department of Tourism said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DOT said that 568,035 visitors arrived in the Philippines in July 2017, up from 560,872 in July 2016.

It's not a large jump in number, but P33.52 in billion visitor receipts were generated in July 2017, compared to P21.18 billion in July 2016.

The DOT pegs the average daily expenditure this year at P5,989, while the average length of stay is 9 nights.

“These figures are significant in terms of measuring our tourism industry’s sustainability. We hope to see this upward trend as an indication that our industry is working hard at attracting more of the high-spending segments or that product diversification has yielded more options to do and spend for,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo was quoted in a statement sent to the press.

Chinese tourists dethrone US visitors

The data also shows that China is now the second most fruitful market, overtaking the US. China registered 90,763 arrivals, while the US registered 86,017.

“Beijing apparently is making good its promise to send more tourists to the Philippines to help boost the country’s visitor arrival figures,” Teo said.

South Korea is still the most fruitful visitor market at 132,135 arrivals. The country is also the top-spending market, with an expenditure of an estimated P9.83 billion in July. China clocked in at second with P8.89 billion.

The number of visitor arrivals from January to July is at 3,925,626, making the DOT confident that they will reach their 7-million visitor target this year. — Aya Tantiangco/BM, GMA News

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30 Filipinos get HIV every day —DOH

An average of 30 Filipinos are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) every day, mostly due to a lack of information about the virus that over time causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.

According to a report on Balitanghali on Monday, the alarming rate has lead to 45,000 persons to be infected with HIV as of October.

HIV awareness campaign Pedal for HIV said myths about HIV, made prevalent by a lack of available information, is partly to blame for the ongoing stigma against persons living with HIV.

The same stigma has also lead many persons living with HIV to forego testing until their condition develops to AIDS.

"Dun sa mga tao naman nagdidiscriminate sa mga taong tulad namin, living with the virus at natatakot magpa-test, 'wag niyo na po sanang hintayin na maging apektado kayo directly ng virus," Pedal for HIV founder Faustine Angeles advised.

"Let's be responsible to get tested regularly," he added.

Pedal for HIV conducted a fun run, Zumba classes, and free HIV tests on Sunday as part of its advocacy of erasing stigma from HIV and AIDS.

"Hindi na dapat tayo magsi-walang kibo sa HIV. Kailangan ng all of government, all of society approach," Health Asec. Eric Tayag said.

DOH Public Health Surveillance chief Dr. Genesis Samonte earlier this year said that the Philippines had the fastest growing HIV epidemic in Asia despite having low numbers overall.

Young adults and teens aged 15 to 24 are the most vulnerable age group due to a lack of access to sex education and services.

"Sundown" clinics are promoted as options for youths in need of HIV tests, check-ups, counseling, HIV counseling, prophylactics, and recommendations to access treatment at hospitals and other health facilities.

Minors can obtain permission for HIV testing from their parents, Department of Social Welfare and Development social workers, teachers, and of-age peers. —Rie Takumi/NB, GMA News

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Duterte fires two PNP 'narco-generals'

FIRED. In this file photo, Quezon City Police District director PCSupt. Edgardo Tinio (left) accepts the command flag from NCRPO and outgoing QCPD director PCSupt. Joel Pagdilao on July 30, 2015. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler 

MANILA, Philippines – Two top officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) named as 'narco-generals' by President Rodrigo Duterte have been sacked, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced Monday, October 9.

They are former Quezon City police director Chief Superintenent Edgardo Tinio, and former Metro Manila police chief Director Joel Pagdilao.

 

"The decision, signed by the Executive Secretary last Thursday, has found [them] administratively liable for serious neglect of duty and serious irregularity in the performance [of their] duty and have been dismissed," Abella told reporters in a briefing. 

 

Tinio and Pagdilao are perhaps the highest ranking policemen sacked for their supposed links to the drug trade. (READ: Generals to Duterte: We're not involved in illegal drugs)

Abella said they had a hand in the proliferation of drugs in their areas of responsibility because of "neglect" in performing their duties well. – Rappler.com

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'Honeymoon' over, opposition says after drop in Duterte ratings

DECLINE. President Rodrigo Duterte's net satisfaction rating drops by 18 points in the September 2017 survey of the Social Weather Stations. His net trust rating also declines by 15 points. Malacañang file photo 

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition group Tindig Pilipinas said the steep drop in President Rodrigo Duterte's satisfaction and trust ratings is an expected development that means his "honeymoon" with Filipinos is over.

Duterte's net satisfaction rating declined by 18 points in the September 2017 survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released on Sunday, October 8. He registered a +48 net satisfaction rating, still classified as "good" by the SWS.

The President's net trust rating also dipped by 15 points in the same survey, to a "very good" +60. 

 

"While his government was focused on killing the poor and balkanizing our democratic institutions, his administration has miserably failed to deliver on his promises – peace in Mindanao, housing, solutions to traffic, end to endo, employment, among others," Tindig Pilipinas said in a statement on Sunday.

"Finally, the huge drop in the President's rating must serve notice to him: the people expect nothing but the truth on the allegations of corruption, ill-gotten wealth, and drug smuggling facilitation leveled against him and members of his family," the coalition added.

The Office of the Ombudsman is looking into the wealth of the Duterte family. Duterte, meanwhile, said he will set up an independent body to investigate the corruption inside the Office of the Ombudsman.

Coalition member Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano said the latest SWS survey results prove the waning support for the bloody war against drugs.

"The survey results may be indicative of the decline of support [for] the war on drugs and the strong opposition [to] the prevalent human rights violations under the Duterte administration. The results would also bear the continuous decline of Duterte's net satisfaction among Class D or the masa (poor) which are the main victims of the selective war on drugs," said Alejano, who filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte which was junked by the President's allies at the House of Representatives.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, a member of the House opposition, urged Duterte to use his political capital "to do what is right."

"More people are starting to see through the propaganda. That no matter what it claims, the killings, the lack of action on the economic front are taking their toll on his numbers," Baguilat said.

Duterte not 'untouchable'

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, a member of the left-leaning Makabayan bloc, also said the "myth" of Duterte's popularity is already over.

"Hindi siya untouchable. Nalantad na ang kahungkagan ng kanyang pangakong pagbabago; ang brutalidad ng kanyang mga giyera kontra droga at kontra sa mga rebelde, na bumibiktima sa maralita sa kalunsuran at kanayunan; at ang hagupit ng kanyang mga economic policies, na pumapabor sa ilang mayaman at dayuhan habang hindi nagbibigay ng trabaho at serbisyo sa maralita," said Tinio.

(He's not untouchable. The emptiness of his promise of change has already been exposed; the brutality of his war against drugs and war against rebels that victimize the urban and rural poor; the effects of his economic policies that favor the rich and the foreigners without giving jobs and services to the poor.)

Another Makabayan lawmaker, Gabriela Representative Emmi de Jesus, said Filipinos are now "seeing through" the President's "hype and fake news."

"[They] are realizing that change is not coming under President Duterte's watch, given the soaring prices of practically all commodities, nonstop extrajudicial killings, failure to end contractualization, failure to solve the Marawi crisis despite the imposition of Mindanao-wide martial law, and the unresolved Customs shabu smuggling issue," she said.

"In fact, [Duterte's] reign in the Palace for more than a year made the lives of the majority of Filipinos worse than before."

The Makabayan bloc, composed of 7 party-list representatives, broke away from the House majority last September, citing Duterte's "fascist, pro-imperialist, and anti-people policies.

For Bagong Henerasyon Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy, a Duterte ally, the ratings "can turn around in weeks."

"Public opinion is quite malleable... easily shaped by twists and turns in current events," she said.

"Recent weeks' developments have not been generally favorable to President Duterte, but his base of support remains solid, in my view. The 16 million who voted for him in May 2016, I believe are still there," she added. – Rappler.com

 

 
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No extrajudicial killings in PH? World 'not fooled,' says HRW

EVADING RESPONSIBILITY. Human Rights Watch Geneva director John Fisher says the Philippine government's claim that there is no extrajudicial killing is absurd. 

MANILA, Philippines – The government's refusal to acknowledge the existence of extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs is "absurd," said Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Saturday, October 7.

In an interview with Rappler, HRW Geneva director John Fisher emphasized that the Duterte administration cannot just say that extrajudicial killings do not exist by limiting the definition.

"The fact is that there have been thousands of reported deaths in the Philippines under the war on drugs. The government cannot just define these bodies out of existence through the application of some legal term," HRW Geneva director John Fisher told Rappler.

The latest official data show at least 3,850 people have been killed in police operations while at least 2,290 others were killed mostly by vigilantes. (READ: CHR: Death toll in drug war higher than what gov't suggests)

Despite these huge numbers, the Philippine National Police (PNP), on Friday, October 6, said there has been "officially no case" of extrajudicial killing since July 2016.

Definition 'not complicated'

In identifying extrajudicial killings, the PNP said it used the definition stated under Administrative Order 35 issued by the Aquino administration.

Extrajudicial killings are defined in the order as committed by "state and non-state forces" to silence, "through violence and intimidation, legitimate dissent and opposition raised by members of the civil society, cause-oriented groups, political movements, people's and non-governmental organizations, and by ordinary citizens."

Fisher, however, said the Philippines should follow the international definition as it is a signatory to various human rights treaties. (READ: Human rights in the Philippines)

An extrajudicial killing, he added, refers to the "killing of a person by government authorities without sanction of judicial proceeding or legal process."

"It is very, very clear that when somebody is killed and in the context of police operations, there is no judicial process, no legal process, there aren't arrests or charges. It is just a killing that's taking place outside of the legal process," Fisher explained, adding that the concept is not complicated.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) previously stated that it has always adhered to international guidelines and that the definition used during the Aquino administration was based on what was happening at that time.

In a recent statement, meanwhile, the CHR said limiting the definition would "discount killings that are also perpetrated by state agents and non-state actors that remain uninvestigated." (READ: CHR hits PNP's limited definition of extrajudicial killings)

ZERO EJK? Protesters call for an end to drug war killings in front of the PNP headquarters. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
     

ZERO EJK? Protesters call for an end to drug war killings in front of the PNP headquarters. File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler 

Evading responsibilities

This is not the first time that the government has said there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on September 22, the Philippine delegation insisted that the deaths from police operations "are not extrajudicial killings," and rejected calls by United Nations (UN) member-states to conduct a thorough and impartial probe into the drug war deaths.

For HRW, the recent statements of the Philippine government show it is "seeking to evade its international responsibilities to uphold human rights."

"[Their] responses to the UPR process made it very clear that they simply won't accept the extent or scope of the problem or the problem even exists, let alone putting processes to try and identify those responsible or bring these human rights violations to an end," Fisher said.

"So it's inevitable, I think, that they will use national definition or legal tricks or semantic techniques to avoid responsibility for the deaths that are taking place."

No fooling international community

The Philippines' move to reject the calls during the UPR led to criticism. Iceland and nearly 40 states at the UN slammed the "climate of impunity" in the country.

According to Fisher, who was present during the review held in Geneva, Switzerland, the growing outrage against Duterte's drug war shows that the international community cannot be forced into believing the claim that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

"The international community is not fooled by the government's assertion that the killings perpetrated in the name of the so-called war on drugs don't constitute extrajudicial killings," Fisher said.

"They need to be accountable [for] these deaths." – Rappler.com

 

 
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Interagency council to review national broadband project

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar (photo by Richard V. Viñas)

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the “Information Technology Review Committee” is expected to present its recommendation on how to hasten the national broadband plan to President Duterte in 15 days.

“We have created an information technology council or committee within the Cabinet to review the national broadband project,” Andanar said in Filipino during a radio interview. “We will come up with a recommendation to the President on the best way to fast track the internet connection, establish connection in areas still without internet,” he added.

The five-man review committee would be headed by National Security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Aside from Andanar, the heads of the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the Department of Science and Technology, and Presidential adviser for economic affairs Ramon Jacinto would be part of the group.

“We were instructed to move ASAP,” Andanar said in a text message.

“DICT is part of the council. No duplication because it’s just a review committee which will advise the President,” he added.

Under the NBP, the government aims to implement various interventions to ensure fast, reliable and affordable internet service to Filipinos amid a digital economy. It seeks to interconnect government offices, increase internet penetration especially in far-flung areas, and stimulate economic growth through the digital empowerment of the people.

The creation of the broadband review committee comes on the heels of the dismissal of DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima over his alleged bias toward a former telco employer.

President Duterte earlier admitted he fired Salalima amid complaints he sat on proposals from foreign telcos while favoring Globe Telecom. Salalima used to be a chief legal counsel of Globe.

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Crisologo charged for P8-M ‘pork’ scam

Crisologo
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the indictment of Quezon City First District Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo for graft over the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) amounting to P8 million in 2009.

Crisologo was ordered charged by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales before the Sandiganbayan with two counts of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, two counts of malversation of public funds and another two counts of falsification of public documents under the Revised Penal Code.

The other respondents are former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Esperanza Cabral; DSWD undersecretaries Mateo Montaño and Lualhati Pablo; assistant secretary Vilma Cabrera; chief accountant Leonila Hayahay, and assistant director Pacita Sarino.

Private individual Cenon Mayor of Kaloocan Assistance Council Inc. (KACI) was also ordered charged.

The ombudsman said Task Force PDAF’s probe showed that Crisologo endorsed KACI to implement his PDAF-funded social services project for his constituents, which included medical and hospitalization expenses, transportation, calamity, death, burial and educational expenses, small-scale livelihood training, socio-cultural expenses, small-scale infrastructure assistance and values training.

Crisologo’s pork barrel fund worth P8 million was released by the Department of Budget and Management to DSWD in 2009.

Nation ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

However, the ombudsman found that none of the supposed social services reached the intended beneficiaries.

Ombudsman probers said KACI submitted falsified receipts and other supporting documents for the bogus project.

The ombudsman added that most of the listed beneficiaries were “coordinators and political supporters of Crisologo.”

The listed beneficiaries of the death and burial assistance denied receiving cash from Crisologo’s office and that the signatures on the vouchers were forged, the ombudsman said.

Representatives from the National Children’s Hospital also attested that no free medical or dental mission was conducted in October 2009, contrary to the claim of the respondents.

The ombudsman said KACI’s main supplier for the project, Silver A Enterprises, is not a registered business entity.

Morales said Crisologo’s failure to ensure that his PDAF allocation was properly liquidated “could only mean that he benefitted from the transaction or that he was grossly negligent.”

According to the ombudsman, the former DSWD officials must be held accountable as they “did not even bother to conduct an audit on KACI and its suppliers” before releasing the payment.

Crisologosaid he could not be charged with graft as he did not get hold of the questioned funds, GMA News reported.

“We did not hold any money, we did not implement any project, we just pinpointed it and there was an implementing agency,” he said.

“The reason why there is an implementing agency is because we as congressmen do not have the facilities to implement. We did not hold any money so where’s graft and corruption there?” he added.

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