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LRMC also extends hours, adds trips on weekends, holidays

By InterAksyon

Photo: LRT-1 cars. (File photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon)

MANILA – Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT-1) operator Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) announced Friday that it is also extending the hours and adding more trips to its weekend and holiday operations.

This is following the new timetable being implemented during weekdays in the 20-kilometer train line running from Baclaran to Roosevelt.

According to LRMC President and Chief Executive Officer Rogelio L. Singson, “This new scheme will aid in enhancing LRT-1’s service by cutting passengers’ waiting time and lessening the crowds on the platforms even on weekends and holidays”.

Dry runs for the new holiday and weekend schedule will be done on June 24 to 25 and July 1 to 2. Full implementation will begin on July 8.

Under the new timetable, the first trip on weekends and holidays will be earlier at 4:30 am, compared to the previous 5:00 am.

The number of trips on Saturdays and holidays will increase from 423 to 472, while Sunday trips will increase from 323 to 353.

LRMC said the move to extend the hours and add trips on weekends and holidays was also driven by the positive feedback garnered from the current new timetable during weekdays. In the new weekday schedule, LRT-1 service is available as early as 4:30 am and as late as 10:15 pm. The number of daily trips increased from 512 to 554.


BLACK FRIDAY PROTEST | Rally at Mendiola greets Martial Law one month on

By Romel Lopez, News5

Photo: Black Friday protest outside Malacañan Palace against the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Garbed mostly in black, militants marched and brought their rally to the gates of Malacañan Palace, brandishing black placards articulating their sentiments against the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao.

They were stopped by barricades and barbed wires, and it was all they could do to respond by tying black ribbons of protest.

Going by the prescribed term of a martial law proclamation, they said it has to end after 31 days.

Under the 1987 Constitution, martial law is allowed for only 60 days, but for many, the damage incurred has already gone more than far enough.

For Diamond and Uztad, both from Marawi, the military air strikes should be stopped, because the conflict, instead of defeating the jihadist extremists, has ironically decimated substantial property, infrastructure, and, worse, taken a huge toll in non-combatant, innocent civilian lives caught in the crossfire.

What’s more, accusations have recently surfaced, though firmly denied by the military, of soldiers threatening women they would rape them if they don’t pack up and evacuate.

Gabriela partylist Representative Arlene Brosas thinks this may partly be fueled by pronouncements earlier made by President Rodrigo Duterte to soldiers when he apparently tried to humor them by saying he would take the heat for them if they happen to be accused of rape in the course of implementing martial law.

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained that it was the Commission on Human Rights itself that has indicated it has not encountered any report or complaint of military abuse.

Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said: “We’d like to assure the public that we shall continue to work for the safety and security of everyone, as mandated to us, with utmost respect to human rights and the rule of law.”


Japanese warship takes ASEAN guests on cruise of South China Sea but stops short of ‘9-dash line’

By Nobuhiro Kubo, Reuters

Photo: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60 Seahawk helicopters on the flight deck of the helicopter carrier Izumo during a military exercise in the South China Sea near Singapore. (photo by Nobuhiro Kubo, Reuters)

SOUTH CHINA SEA — Japan’s largest warship steamed into the South China Sea this week in defiance of Chinese assertiveness, with Asian military guests on board to witness helicopters looping over the tropical waters and gunners blasting target buoys.

China claims most of the energy-rich sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, much of it to and from Japanese ports. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Japan worries that China is cementing its control in the South China Sea with manmade island bases, arms sales and development aid.

“We are not just here to show our presence, but from the outside that is what it looks like,” Rear Admiral Yoshihiro Goga, the commander of the mission, said aboard the Izumo-class helicopter carrier.

Military officers from the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations boarded the 248-meter carrier in Singapore on Monday. It returned on Friday after demonstrating naval skills and kit Tokyo hopes will help it bolster alliances in the region.

The Izumo turned back to Singapore before crossing a boundary known as the nine-dash-line into what China claims are its waters.

The high-profile cruise was part of a hitherto unseen coordinated push by Japan’s Self Defense Forces and defense bureaucrats to bolster ties with countries ringing the contested waters. It also marked a concerted push into military diplomacy by hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan last week held a military technology seminar near Tokyo for representatives from Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore and this week invited ASEAN officers to a disaster relief drill in Tokyo.

Abe’s government believes Japan may be better placed to steer Southeast Asian nations away from Chinese influence than its U.S. allies with a gentler approach that emphasizes a common Asian heritage, two sources with knowledge of the diplomatic strategy told Reuters earlier.

While the U.S. has confronted China directly by sending warships close to China’s island bases in the South China Sea, Japan so far has shied away from similar provocations.

As the Izumo neared the nine-dash line, the crew were on lookout for Chinese aircraft or ships sent to shadow the flag ship. Apart from brief radar contact with an unidentified aircraft announced by the ship’s public address system the carrier, however, sailed on unmolested.


2 kilos of shabu found in ex-Marawi mayor’s house – police

By Jeff Caparas, News5 | Pat Ortiz, InterAksyon

Photo:The drugs police said was found in the house of former Marawi mayor Omar Solitario Ali. (image from News5 video)

MARAWI CITY, Philippines — Police claimed to have found two kilos of crystal meth or shabu in the house of a former mayor of Marawi City who they claimed is also a supporter of the Maute group, proof, they said, that the extremist group is linked to the illegal drug trade.

Officials also said they have good reason to believe one of the brothers who founded the extremist group, Omar Khayyam Maute, has been killed in combat.

Meanwhile, in Cagayan de Oro, the 4th Infantry Division has formed “Task Force Oro” to guard against attempts by the extremists to infiltrate the northern Mindanao city.

Chief Inspector William Santos of the police’s Drug Enforcement Group said they also found drug paraphernalia inside the home of former mayor Omar Solitario Ali, indication the extremist gunmen use drugs as they continue to battle government forces in Marawi.

Ali’s brother Fahad, also a former mayor of the city, was arrested earlier and charged with rebellion for alleged ties to the extremists. The brothers are among more than 100 persons ordered arrested under an order issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the martial law administrator in Mindanao.

For his part, Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman of Joint Task Force Marawi, said “there is a strong indication” Omar Maute was “killed in a firefight two weeks ago,” around the same time word first circulated he was dead.

However, the other Maute brother, Abdullah, and Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon, who authorities claim has been named “emir” by the Islamic State, are likely still alive.

Still, with the death toll nearing 400, more than half of these extremists, including at least eight foreign fighters, the military says it is making progress, pointing to 85 buildings that had been cleared in the last 48 hours by soldiers who also recovered firearms and communications equipment.

In Cagayan de Oro, Captain Rey Escalera said Colonel Royland Orquia, deputy commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, will head the battalion-size Task Force Oro. .

“If the Martial Law-Special Action Group gathers intelligence, if they have information about something, our job is to be there in the area and respond to the call,” Escalera, the task force’s operations officer, explained their mission.

Aside from combat troops, the task force also includes personnel from the Explosive and Ordinance Division and the Army’s K9 company, among others.

The task force will also assist police man checkpoints and monitor those traveling in and out of the city.


NIA sees development of all irrigable land by 2022

Photo:The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has so far developed 1.85 million hectares, or some 59% of the country’s total irrigable area of 3.12 million hectares. AFP

NIA collections drop sharply to P1.3 billion

In a Wednesday briefing in the agency’s headquarters in Quezon City, NIA Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya said the agency is hoping to irrigate 100% of the irrigable land.

“By 2022, we hope to solve the equipment and personnel problems, and given an adequate budget. We hope we can do it by 2022, fully 100%. Another problem is natural calamities, which every year does damage to the irrigation system,” Mr. Visaya said.

“If there’s a 20% yearly increase in budget we can do it,” the official added.

The agency, throughout its 50-year existence, has so far developed 1.85 million hectares, or some 59% of the country’s total irrigable area of 3.12 million hectares.

This means the agency has to develop some 1.27 million hectares in five more years to achieve its target.

For this year, the agency is looking at irrigating 23,115 hectares and restoring some 13,507 hectares.

Asked if Mr. Visaya sees the target as attainable, he said: “It’s better to have a target... We will try. There’s no harm in trying.”

For this year, the agency has an approved budget totaling P38.37 billion.

The NIA is proposing a record budget of P45.86 billion for 2018, which, if approved, would represent an increase of 19% from 2017.

“As per our Corporate Planning office, the agency is still working for the breakdown of the said total amount. The proposed budget is also awaiting the Budget department’s Final Recommendation,” he added. -- Janina C. Lim


Senators want to reopen probe of Espinosa slay, quiz DOJ’s downgrading of raps vs Marvin Marcos

By Mae Ann Los Banos and J.V. Arcena, News5 | InterAksyon

Photo: File photos of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa (From PNP/PIO) and Police Supt. Marvin Wynn Marcos (From Philstar)

MANILA, Philippines – Why did the Department of Justice recommend the downgrading of charges against Police Supt. Marvin Marcos and his co-accused? What was the basis of the downgrading of charges from murder to homicide?

Why were the charges downgraded despite the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation that the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa was premeditated murder? Could there be somebody so powerful who wants Marcos and his men to get off the hook?

These are but some of the numerous queries that senators want answered as they crossed party lines on Wednesday in initiating moves to find out why Marcos and his men were able to post bail and walk out of prison nearly three months since they were arrested and detained for the November 5, 2016 killing of Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap while the two were imprisoned at the Baybay Provincial Jail in Leyte.

Koko wants probe of Espinosa slay reopened

Senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III wants to re-open the Upper Chamber’s inquiry into Espinosa’s slay. He told reporters that the Senate should see and review the counter-affidavits submitted by Marcos’ camp that convinced the DOJ to downgrade the charges against the police officers.

Pimentel said he also wanted to know if there was something irregular in what the DOJ did and whether there was corruption involved in its action favoring the accused. He said DOJ officials must be asked on what had convinced them to issue a resolution to reduce the charges.

On Wednesday, DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II washed his hands of the action of his own agency.

“Hindi ako ang nag-issue ng resolution na ‘yan [I did not issue that resolution]. I have not even read the resolution. I did not sign anything. It’s just one of the process sa amin sa [here at the] DOJ,” the DOJ chief told reporters.

“Sinasabi nila na may flip-flopping d’yan [They claim that there’s flip-flopping], there’s no such thing as flip-flopping here (DOJ),” he added.

Orceo resolution

The DOJ resolution was issued last May 29 by Undersecretary Reynante Orceo. It stated that “evidence on record” against Marcos and his men “do not support the allegation of evident premeditation” of the killing of Espinosa and Yap.

“The record is bereft of any showing as to when the respondents conceived the plan and as to what they would commit the crime. Not even a single affidavit or statements will corroborate said allegations,” Orceo’s resolution further stated.

But Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV isn’t convinced of Aguirre’s explanation and the arguments raised in Orceo’s resolution.

On Wednesday, Aquino told reporters that he had filed a resolution calling for an inquiry into the DOJ’s action, which “really puts into question the credibility of the institution and the Secretary.”

The senator said his colleagues would also file their own resolutions in relation to the surprising release of Marcos and 17 other police officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s detention facility in Leyte.

“Merong resolution na ipa-file ang mga iba’t ibang miyembro ng Senado. I think we’re asking some members of the majority na pumirma rin expressing grave concern do’n po sa pag-downgrade ng charges kina Superintendent Marcos ng DOJ,” Aquino said.

“Aside from that, meron din po tayong finile na separate resolution…an inquiry kung bakit po ito ginawa ng DOJ.”

“So dalawa ho ‘yan. May isa na magbubukas ng hearing para malaman po ng taumbayan ano po ‘yong rason kung bakit nag-iba ang pananaw ng DOJ…And ang isa pang resolution expressing serious concern mula po sa Senado.”

Aquino said that through a Senate inquiry, lawmakers would be able to quiz resource persons to find out whether Marcos and his men have a powerful protector.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, former DOJ chief, on Wednesday said a petition could be filed at the Court of Appeals to question DOJ’s move.

“Considering the overwhelming evidence against the accused, the families of the offended parties can question before the Court of Appeals the decision of the DOJ and the Regional Trial Court to charge the accused with the lesser offense of homicide on the ground of grave abuse of discretion,” Drilon said.

“The Senate has a stake in this case. The Senate unanimously took the position that Mayor Espinosa was murdered as he was killed with evident premeditation and abuse of authority,” Drilon said.

“What the DOJ did was really deplorable — when they acted contrary to evidence gathered, not only by its department, but also by the Senate and the National Bureau of Investigation,” he added.

On Tuesday, detained Sen. Leila de Lima asked how could the DOJ, thru Orceo, “not see and appreciate the presence of the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation, and even abuse of superior strength, in the execution of such criminal act which bears the hallmarks of summary execution?”

“What does it make of the Senators and the NBI probers (who were convinced of the culpability of Marcos, et al. for murder), if people simply accept DOJ’s conclusion that ‘nothing in the records’ could prove evident premeditation?” De Lima, former DOJ chief, said.

“Something tells me that the DOJ’s initial adoption of NBI’s recommendation was just for show, a charade, so as to please or satisfy the Senate and the public. The actual game plan though was to downgrade the charges, as done now, and ultimately weaken the case vs. those rogue police officers and men,” said the lawmaker.

Order to kill Espinosa came from ‘very top’

De Lima said the downgrading of the charges had bolstered her “suspicion that Marcos, et al. were actually carrying out an order to liquidate Mayor Espinosa, and that such order came from the top, the very top.”

“Call it a speculation, or even paranoia, but I’m almost certain that there must be something Mayor Espinosa knew or about to do relative to his son Kerwin’s so-called “pink book” or “blue book” that underlied the mastermind’s decision to kill the Mayor,” she said.

De Lima said “such pink or blue book, whichever, insofar as it includes my name is certainly spurious-as spurious and fabricated as all the other so-called evidence the DOJ purports to have as to my alleged involvement in the drug trade, either within or outside Bilibid.”

“Could it be that Mayor Espinosa was about to tell the truth or showed signs of revealing which names genuinely belong to Kerwin Espinosa’s list of drug protectors/beneficiaries and those that do not?,” she said.

“Was the father killed as a warning to the son so the latter could fully “cooperate”, as he did, in concocting all those lies about me and my alleged dealings with him (who I absolutely do not know from Adam)?,” added De Lima.

Duterte ordered Marcos’ reinstatement the same day he was sacked

Last December 5, PNP chief Gen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, during a Senate hearing, testified that in mid-October of the same year, he had sacked Marcos as chief of the PNP-CIDG in Region 8 after Kerwin Espinosa told authorities that Marcos was allegedly a recipient of drug money.

But on the same day that he was terminated, Marcos was ordered reinstated by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The chief executive, also last December, admitted ordering Dela Rosa to reinstate Marcos. He said he had told the PNP chief via a phone call to “not remove the guy (Marcos)” because the latter was part of an “investigative job” that Duterte was doing.

Weeks later, on November 5, Mayor Espinosa was killed inside his detention cell allegedly by Marcos and his men.

Later in the same month, Kerwin, a suspected drug lord, testified in the Senate that he had given P8 million to De Lima for her 2016 senatorial campaign through the lawmaker’s former driver and partner Ronnie Dayan.

De Lima was arrested on February 24 this year and detained at the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City after drug-related charges were filed against her before a Muntinlupa court by the DOJ.


Resorts World invests P51 B in new hotel-casino

By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) 

Photo: “We have invested $1.3 billion in Resorts World Manila alone, and another $1.1 billion was earmarked for the Resorts World Westside City,” TIHG board chairman David Chua Ming Huat told lawmakers during yesterday’s hearing on the RWM attack. File

MANILA, Philippines - Publicly listed Travellers International Hotel Group (TIHG), which owns Resorts World Manila (RWM), is spending an additional $1.1 billion (almost P51 billion) in a new hotel-casino project.

“We have invested $1.3 billion in Resorts World Manila alone, and another $1.1 billion was earmarked for the Resorts World Westside City,” TIHG board chairman David Chua Ming Huat told lawmakers during yesterday’s hearing on the RWM attack.

Westside City is the group’s new hotel-casino project at the Entertainment City gaming complex of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. in Parañaque City.

According to RWM officers, 70 percent of TIHG is owned by Filipino investors led by billionaire property developer Andrew Tan of Alliance Global. The rest is owned by foreigners.

Chua is the president of Genting Hong Kong, a major foreign investor in RWM.

“We have built 1,934 hotel rooms, with another 1,620 hotel rooms in the pipeline under international hotel brands in support of the Philippine government’s thrust to promote tourism,” Chua said.

“We built the largest ballroom in the Philippines, the Marriott Hotel grand ballroom, to help boost the country’s position as a global destination for meetings, conferences and events,” he said.

Chua said RWM paid a total of P40 billion in license fees and other taxes to the government.

“Since 2008, we created 25,000 direct and indirect jobs. Currently, we have 6,000 personnel,” he said.

Chua reminded lawmakers that in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, when foreign investors stayed away from the Philippines, Genting Hong Kong was perhaps the first major investor that partnered with Alliance Global to build the country’s first integrated resort.

Lawmakers subpoenaed Chua to an inquiry into the RWM attack on June 2.

Thirty-seven hotel guests and employees were killed when former government employee Jessie Carlos went on a rampage and set the casino on fire.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wanted Tan summoned but settled for Chua when he learned that the Hong Kong national chairs the board of the company that owns RWM.

RWM chief operating officer Stephen Reilly and president Kingson Sian led officers of the hotel-casino-mall complex in the June 7 and 14 hearings.

Some lawmakers question their leaders’ decision to have Tan or Chua in the hearings when Reilly and Sian could better answer their questions, as they are the ones running RWM’s daily operation.

Alvarez did not attend yesterday’s hearing.

Chua said he had been here until June 11, condoling with the families of the victims, including those who were wounded in the incident.


During the hearing, lawmakers indicated that the victims of the RWM attack could have been looted during the incident.

Relatives complained that the personal belongings like pieces of jewelry worn by the fatalities were missing.

“This is very important – that looting had happened. Who entered the premises first?” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel asked.

Pimentel cited the story of Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, whose wife Elizabeth was among the 38 dead.

Gonzales told his fellow lawmakers that his wife’s Rolex watch, credit cards and automated teller machine (ATM) cards were missing.

“You wouldn’t believe this. Her ATM card had a P25,000 withdrawal transaction on June 5,” Pimentel, chairman of the committee on good government, said.

A police officer, who was not identified and among those who first responded to the scene, said they saw one body on the second floor with a wristwatch on. He said the watch disappeared when the body was brought to the ground floor.

“I think many of the victims may have been looted. This should be investigated,” Pimentel said.

Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario, chief of the Southern Police District, said they would look into the issue and hopefully identify individuals who might have taken advantage of the situation. – With Delon Porcalla

- See more at:


Speaker Alvarez advises judiciary to discipline 3 CA magistrates

By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer 

Photo: Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/LYN RILLON

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday advised Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. to “discipline” the three CA magistrates embroiled in the inter-branch tug-of-war over the release of six detained Ilocos Norte officials.

The House leader said the chamber would not budge on the issuance of a show-cause order demanding that the three CA justices explain why they should not be cited in contempt for granting the habeas corpus petition of the so-called “Ilocos Six.”

Alvarez, in a statement, said he appreciated the opinion expressed by Sereno and Reyes that the House committee on good government and public accountability withdraw the show-cause order, but that it was necessary for the chamber to assert its own authority.

“Such is a consequence of the court’s order that overstepped its authority and transgressed the committee’s contempt powers, which is a necessary extension of its legislative power affirmed by no less than the Supreme Court in numerous cases,” the Speaker said.

The House has been locked in a standoff with CA Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela after they ordered the release of the Ilocos Norte officials detained by the House committee for refusing to answer questions about an alleged anomaly involving the purchase of P66.45 million worth of vehicles.

READ: House, judiciary showdown looms over ‘Ilocos Six’

The six have been detained at the House of Representatives since May 29.

The CA attempted three times to serve the release order for the six officials, but the Speaker blocked it, threatening at one point to “dissolve” the appellate tribunal for interfering with the contempt powers of Congress.

READ: Speaker Alvarez threatens to dissolve Court of Appeals

In a rare joint statement on Wednesday, Sereno and Reyes urged the House leadership to “reconsider” its threat to hold the justices in contempt.

“Cognizant of its implications on (the) separation of powers and judicial independence, (we) express deep concern over the show cause order issued by the House committee on good government and public accountability,” Sereno and Reyes said.

They said the House had other legal remedies available to them in questioning the June 9 resolution of the appellate court’s Special Fourth Division.

But Alvarez said the House was not the one at fault.

“Let it be clear that the House of Representatives is simply doing its job based on jurisprudence and existing law. For the record, it is the Special Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals that violated the existing law and established jurisprudence,” he said.

He said he appreciated the need to keep the peace between Congress and the judiciary.

“True, harmony must be preserved among the co-equal branches of our government under the time-honored principle of separation of powers. However, it has become necessary for the House committee to issue the show cause order against the justices of the CA Special Fourth Division,” he said.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chair of the House committee on good government and accountability panel, said his committee would still issue the show-cause order against the three magistrates.

“If they want reconsideration, they must put it into writing so that it will be official,” he said. JPV/rga


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