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Village chief shot dead in Negros Oriental city

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — A village chief was shot dead while two of his companions were wounded by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Thursday.

Police are considering the possible involvement of the New People’s Army in the killing of Leudigario Gargoles Binera, 40, barangay captain of Hinakpan.

Hinakpan is near barangay Magsaysay, where the NPA ambushed and killed Guihulngan police chief Superintendent Arnel Arpon and five of his men, wounding three other officers, as they responded to a rebel attack on Councilor Edison dela Rita in which the official was hurt and his driver wounded on July 21.

Witnesses told investigators that around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Binera and his companions were drinking coffee outside the home of Angelito Villarmente in Barangay Tinayunan when a gunman shot at them with a .45 caliber pistol before fleeing on a waiting motorcycle driven by an accomplice.

The victims were rushed to the Gov. William Billy Villegas Hospital where Binera died.

In an interview, acting provincial police director Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas hinted of a possible link between the July 21 ambush and Binera’s murder.

Noting that Magsaysay and Hinakpan are “infiltrated with the NPA,” Biñas, without going into detail, said it appeared some people are seeking justice for the slain and wounded policemen, adding that there was a seeming pattern of retribution in recent shooting incidents in Guihulngan.

He appealed to the families of the slain policemen to let justice take its course even as he said they had reported receiving threats recently, with at least one person appearing at his office seeking assistance.

Biñas said he has offered the provincial police office as a refuge for those under threat.

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18 more slain in Camanava as Kiko decries earlier killings

(Reuters file)
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 12:17 p.m.) At least 18 more persons were reported killed overnight in the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) of Metro Manila even as Senator Francis Pangilinan decried the 57 deaths in Bulacan and Manila, mostly in police operation, over the past two days.

In Manila at least five more killings happened while in Quezon City a man his partner acknowledged was a “runner” for drug peddlers was gunned down inside his home in Payatas.

Caloocan accounted for the most deaths, 11, from 5 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, according to a tally by News5:

CALOOCAN – 11

Brgy. 120 – 3
Brgy. 13 – 1
Bugallion -1
Bagong Silang -1
Brgy. 176 PH7 -1
Phase 6- 1
Brgy. Daangbakal -1
Brgy. Tala – 1
Pamasawata – 1
MALABON – 2

Tinajeros – 1
Longos – 1

NAVOTAS – 2

Brgy. NBBN R10 -1
Brgy. San Jose – 1
VALENZUELA – 3

Maysan – 1
Canumay East – 1
Arkong Bato – 1
The recent killings, which included that of 17-year old senior high school student Kian Loyd delos Santos in Manila, prompted Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, to ask: “Kahit sino na lang kakaladkarin ng pulis para umabot sa quota? Makuha ang reward money (Are the police trying to meet a quota? Trying to earn the reward money)?”

Delos Santos’ death, in particular, has stirred public outrage over the continuing bloodshed in the government’s war on drugs.

Manila police claim Delos Santos shot it out with operatives but witnesses and closed circuit television footage have since tended to belie that account, showing the young man being dragged away before he was found dead.

Pangilinan decried the “killing right and left of the poor and defenseless while tons of shabu slip through the BoC (Bureau of Customs),” referring to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of the illegal drug that Congress is now investigating.

He urged resistance to the “massacre of the poor” and for drugs to be treated not only as a police but also a health and economic problem.

In Manila, a CCTV camera captured the attack along A. Rivera Street in Tondo that left businessman Willie Liu dead. Although he too was fired on by the killer, Liu’s business partner, Nikko Go, managed to escape unscathed.

The footage showed the SUV parking and, as Liu and Go got down, the gunman drive up on motorcycle and open fire. After felling Liu, the killer got off his motorcycle and shot at Go, who managed to run to safety.

In Ermita, a suspected snatcher supposedly opened fire on police who were stopping the motorcycle he was riding on because the driver had no helmet.

Senior Inspector Randy Veran of the Lawton police precinct said a woman had reported that her mobile phone had been snatched as she waited for a ride. When precinct personnel flagged down the motorcycle, the driver ignored them, triggering a chase during which the alleged snatcher, identified only as John Rey, opened fire.

A gun and two sachets of shabu were recovered from him, police said.

In Sampaloc, alleged pusher Eric Kailaw died on Paltok Street in a supposed shootout around 11 p.m. with police who had gotten wind of a drug deal in the area.

Two more drug suspects were killed in a buy-bust operation on Hermosa Street, Tondo.

In Payatas, Dannyfel Balad, 41, was shot dead inside his home on Daisy Street.

His partner, Rowena Pilar, said they were sleeping when the gunmen kicked in their door. In fear, Rowena said they hid in the toilet with their 10-year old child.

The suspects asked who Balad was and then shot him six times.

A team of Reuters journalists went to five communities in Manila on Thursday night, where four men died in shootouts with undercover police in drug ‘buy-bust’ or sting operations.

Police prevented the journalists from getting near the scene in the northwestern neighborhood of Caloocan but they saw three body bags being taken from a maze of narrow alleys. Elsewhere in Caloocan, they saw the corpse of a man slumped on an iron fence at the back of a mini-bus terminal.

Another man was killed near the Manila post office building, four died in hospitals in the northern area of Malabon and another died on the spot near a former garbage dump in the sprawling Quezon City district.

Three others were killed elsewhere on Thursday night, according to a radio report, including a man who was shot by masked men on a motorcycle in the eastern area of Marikina City.

Call for protest

“The killing spree must stop even as we also demand a stop to the proliferation of illegal drugs,” Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the left-wing Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said.

“A long-term and thorough solution is necessary. A fascist solution is doomed to fail.”

Reyes urged Filipinos to join a protest organized by a group of artists in Quezon City, saying in a flyer on social media: “Let us condemn the recent spike in the killings under the Duterte regime”.

Police say there has been no instruction from higher authorities to step up their anti-drug operations and they are only doing their job.

“The president did not instruct me to kill and kill,” national police chief Ronald dela Rosa said on Thursday. “I also don’t have any instructions to my men to kill and kill. But the instruction coming from the president is very clear that our war on drugs is unrelenting. Those who were killed fought back.”

Critics maintain that members of the Philippine National Police PNP are executing suspects and say it is likely they have a hand in thousands of unsolved murders of drug users by mysterious vigilantes. The PNP and government reject that.

Although the violence has been criticized by much of the international community, Filipinos largely support the campaign and domestic opposition to it has been muted. (with reports from Reuters | Jennylyn Calimon and Ivy Gale Bernardo, News5)

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Maranaoin Australia helps bring MSU students back to school

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA – Elin Anisha Guro may be more than 5,500 kilometers away, but she is doing her part to bring back normalcy to the besieged city of Marawi.


A PhD student at the University of Melbourne, Anisha started Balik MSU to encourage students displaced by conflict to go back to school and finish their education.
"Balik MSU (Mindanao State University) was initiated by MSU-ans all over the world toencourage MSU students to go back to Marawi City. Together with alumni fromAustralia, Marawi, Manila, and Singapore, we all came together and tried tohelp MSU in encouraging our students not to transfer but to return,"Anisha told Rappler.
Thecampaign started when Anisha posted in an online group about ways to help MSU students. People expressed their interest to pitch in, and the funds from alumni and friends slowly started coming.

With the funds they have raised so far, Balik MSU plans to ferry 300 students back to Marawi City from nearby Iligan City, and give T-shirts to the students once classes resume.
"When we posted a callout, the answer was overwhelming. Initially, we were just planning 100 students, but when we sent out the survey, in just a few hours, registration reached 600. So you can see, students are really determined to goback to Marawi City no matter what," Anisha said.
MSU is the 2nd largest state university in the Philippines. MSU Marawi alone has a population of around 18,000 students. Despite the ongoing armed conflict between the military and ISIS-inspired terrorists, MSU Marawi president Habib Macaayongearlier expressed the school administration's determination to resume classes this month.
The crisis in Marawi City entered its 3rd month in August. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the conflict has displaced around 359,680 individuals or 78,466 families as of Friday, August 4.
Ground reports
Anative of Marawi, Anisha said she is very much affected by the conflict, especially because her family is still in the city.
"I learned about the clash directly from my daughter. When it happened, my sister just finished visiting the jail in Marawi City as part of her job. That's where the fighting took place. So she was right there when the first fire erupted," Anisha said.
She added: "My daughter was telling me that my sister and my niece were trapped. I was really so concerned and shocked because I couldn't believe that it's really happening."
Anisha,the former vice chancellor for research and extension of MSU Marawi, noted that there have been reports of abuses but it is difficult to get evidence because of martial law in Mindanao.
She also lamented the destruction of the city, which is known for its history.
"The city survived periods of colonization from the Spanish to the Japanese. The city withstood. There was a time people evacuated but it never got so destroyed as it is now," she said.
"As Marawi residents, we also think that the air strikes are unnecessary or could have been avoided, especially to preserve our buildings. These are houses containing cultural heritage that could never be recovered," she added.
How to help
As of now, Balik MSU is waiting for the go-signal of the university administration and the military before they start ferrying students. But Anisha is hopeful that the second semester classes will resume as scheduled.
There is much work to be done. A lot of students have expressed interest to go back to MSU Marawi but don't have resources for the travel back to the city. This is where the public can help.
Citing the case of Paramisuli Aming, the 2017 Social Workers Licensure Exam top notcher, Anisha said:"We believe that even though there's war, education cannot stop. Even inwar, MSU-ans excel."
She added: "This isn't the first time that the university has experienced martial law. This is actually the second time. It happened before and MSU-ans survived. I [know] we will survive this again." – Rappler.com
Those interested to help the Balik MSU project can donate through the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN),a partner non-governmental organization.
David Lozada is an Australia Awards scholar taking up a Master of Development Studies degree at the University of Melbourne. Prior to his scholarship, he was a reporter covering development and a community manager for Rappler's MovePH for4 years.

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Comelec chief: Wife 'motivated by greed'

MANILA – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista on Monday, August 7, denied his wife's accusation that he has"unexplained wealth," saying she is "motivated by greed."
In a statement, Bautista expressed "extreme disappointment" over the claims made by his"estranged" wife, Patricia Paz "Tish" Bautista.
"Her allegations are all lies, and I categorically deny all of them," the Comelec chief said.
"Sa totoo lang po, ako po ay biktima rito, biktima ng pagtataksil... Ang aking pagkatao, para po akong nagahasa sa aking sariling pamamahay," he added in a press conference shortly before noon. (I am the victim here, a victim of betrayal. It feels like I've been "raped" in my own household.)
"Ipapakita po namin sa mga susunod na araw na ito po ay isang kaso ng pangingikil at panggigipit."(We will show in the following days that this is a case of extortion and harassment.)
In his statement, Bautista said he had hoped to fix their marital problem "in a civil and decent manner," but his wife's recent statements and actions "clearly manifest that she has no desire to save the marriage."
"It is now clear she is motivated by greed and that she will stop at nothing to besmirch my reputation and that of my family for the purpose of financial gain," he continued.
He also said he was disappointed that his wife "[allowed] herself to be used by certain people and groups to promote a political agenda designed to cast aspersions on me and the Comelec's work in the 2016 elections."
In a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mrs Bautista accused the poll chief of amassing nearly P1billion in unexplained wealth.
These supposedly came in the form of money in 4 bank accounts, two condominium units, real properties, and"interests in corporations and loan agreements" in 3 overseas or offshore companies.
Mrs Bautista added that these were not declared in her husband's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and NetWorth (SALN). In his 2016 SALN, the Comelec chief declared a net worth ofP176.3 million.
The Department of Justice (DOJ)on Monday directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the claims of Bautista's wife.
Asked if he is ready to face an impeachment complaint, Bautista said, "We are ready to face anything and everything."

'Fabrications'
"It is unfortunate that my ex-wife's greed has resulted in irreparable damage to me, my family, her own family, and most importantly to our children," Bautista said.
He explained that it has been"10 months since she stole cash, [gift certificates], ATM cards, and other financial documents belonging to myself and my family."
Bautista then claimed that his wife's lawyers "embellished, doctored, or fabricated" many of these documents.
He added: "Throughout this time, she has repeatedly attempted to extort and blackmail me using her lawyers and media contacts. And when she realized that no windfall was forthcoming, she decided to file her affidavit based on fabrications and lies."
He then countered in his statement that Mrs Bautista has a "long-time lover," and both of them"concocted this extortion plan with guidance from ill-intentioned lawyers who thought they could threaten me into simply turning over hard-earned and legitimately-acquired assets belonging to me and my family."
Bautista did not name his wife's supposed lover.
"I will not give in to blackmail," he said.
In Monday's press conference,Bautista claimed that while he was in the United States to observe the elections, he got a call from his bank, saying his wife was "withdrawing$117,000 and P250,000" from their joint account and "transferring it to her personal account."
Bautista also explained that he has one offshore account, "but this one is shared with my family."
"Over the years, my family, including my parents who are heirs, and my brothers and sisters who live in theUS, have been regularly co-investing with me since the 1990s," he said."All of these are documented and we can show it."

Duterte as mediator
Bautista also said PresidentRodrigo Duterte "mediated" in their marital problem during a meeting in Malacañang on August 1. He was accompanied by his eldest sister, mother-in-law, and stepfather-in-law.
"The President was very kind. He was not only a mediator but a marriage counselor," the Comelec chief said. "He recounted his own experiences with his family. He was providing us good advice."
Bautista then recounted that his wife was in another room during his meeting with the President. The 3 of them met afterwards to discuss the issue.
Bautista also said Duterte didnot ask him to resign. "Ako naman, ang sabi ko sa kanya, 'Hindi po ako kapit-tuko sa kahit anong posisyon o panunungkulan. Kung ang palagay ko, ako ay nagiging pabigat na sa isang institusyon, wala namang problema sa aking magbitiw.' Pero ang sabi niya sa akin, 'I am not asking you to resign. That is really your call.'"
(I told the President, "I am not clinging to any position. If I think I am becoming a liability to an institution, resigning is not a problem for me." But he told me, "I am not asking you to resign. That is really your call.")
Bautista added in Monday's press conference that he is supported by his family as well as his wife's Cruz-Vasquez family. – Rappler.com

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'Unified decision' needed on Payatas landfill – DENR exec

MANILA– An official of the Department of Environment andNatural Resources (DENR) said the move to permanently close the Payatas sanitary landfill will depend on the "unified decision" of the DENR, the Quezon City government, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority(MMDA).
"I can't say absolutely that we can close it down because it depends on the considerations,"Environment Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International AffairsJonas Leones said in a mix of English and Filipino during a press conference onTuesday, August 8.
Leones was asked where the DENR stands on the total closure of the sanitary landfill. The environment department's Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region office recently ordered the landfill's temporary closure as it reviews the operator's environmental clearance certificate.
"If you consider the environmental aspects, we can say na puwedeng i-close, pero iba naman 'yung consideration ng MMDA, iba rin naman 'yung consideration ng Quezon City, so I think there has to be a unified decision on what to do with Payatas,"Leones explained.
(If you consider the environmental aspects, we can say it can be closed down, but the MMDA has different considerations, and Quezon City has different considerations, so I think there has to be a unified decision on what to do with Payatas.)
Leones noted that it is theQuezon City government that operates the landfill together with IPMEnvironmental Services Incorporated, while the MMDA is the agency mandated to determine disposal sites for Metro Manila waste.
"Because if we want to close down Payatas, our only concern is the ECC, [the] environmental concern...But we can also issue the cease and desist order. But the DENR can only issue the CDO for a specific time only. But the decision to order or to decidewhether they will close down or open that dumpsite is lodged with theMMDA," he added.
The DENR's main concern, Leones said, is the landfill's impact on the environment and on public health.
"So kung may violation sila, tingin natin may mga environmental effects, damage, marami, and then there will be health implications, I'm very sure that the Secretary will support the closure of the open dumpsite. Sa akin lang 'yun, because I think they're still consulting MMDA and the local government units," he said, referring to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
(So if they have violations, in our view the landfill has environmental effects, damage, there's a lot, and then there will be health implications, I'm very sure that the Secretary will support the closure of the open dumpsite. But that's just me, because I think they're still consulting theMMDA and the local government units.)
In January, the DENR under former environment secretary Gina Lopez already expressed its intention to shutdown the Payatas sanitary landfill at the soonest possible time.
The Quezon City government appealed to Lopez to reconsider the plan. – Rappler.com

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Lawyer of Reyes brothers dies after gun attack in Palawan

Puerto Princesa, Palawan map from en.wikipedia.org


MANILA, Philippines – A lawyer based in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan died after he was attacked by a motorcycle-riding gunman on Tuesday, August 15.

The victim, Hermie S. Aban, used to be the lawyer of former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes and former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, principal suspects in the January 24, 2011 murder of broadcaster-environmental activist Gerry Ortega.

Aban was on a motorcycle and went out to buy food when he was gunned down by the still unidentified perpetrator at 8:30 a.m. on Abueg Road, Barangay Bancao-Bancao, dzBB radio said, quoting a report from Senior Police Officer 2 Eustaquio Ferrer of the city’s Mendoza Police Station.

The assailant chased Aban and shot him four times until the lawyer fell unconscious on a grassy portion of the road.

The report said Aban was rushed to the MMG-PPC Cooperative Hospital corner Burgos and Mabini Streets, but was later on pronounced dead.

Authorities recovered two empty shells of a .45-caliber pistol from the crime scene.

In September 2012, Ortega’s family filed a disbarment case against Aban for allegedly aiding in the escape of the Reyes brothers.

The brothers, along with Aban, left for left for Vietnam via a Cebu Pacific flight on March 18 of the same year, according to government records.

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Kenneth Dong, godson of senators and alleged middleman in shabu shipment, arrested in Senate over rape allegation

File photo of Kenneth Dong from Facebook account of FB account of A-Linx Events International Inc


MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Kenneth Dong, the alleged middleman in the shipment of P6.4-billion worth of shabu, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he was accused of committing rape in Cebu.

Dong, a known patron of politicians and godson of senators, was taken into custody by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents after he participated in the Senate’s inquiry into the big-time smuggling of shabu that was able to enter the country via the Bureau of Customs’ express lane.

The arrest warrant, dated July 21, 2016, was issued by Judge Aida Estrella Macapagal of the Parañaque Regional Trial Court-Branch 915.

Authorities did not handcuff Dong while he was at the Senate building in Pasay City. He was escorted out of the establishment and was read his Miranda rights before he was brought to the NBI headquarters in Manila for booking procedures.

Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, and Ralph Recto became Dong’s godparents in his November 9, 2013 wedding with Lovell Tee at the Shrine of Jesus followed by a reception at Hotel Sofitel, both located in Pasay.

Hontiveros, Pangilinan, Zubiri, and Villanueva admitted knowing Dong but not as someone allegedly linked to narcotics. They confirmed that he is their godson, whom they knew as a businessman, a benefactor, or a poll campaign donor.

Recto was also among Dong’s ninongs but said that he had failed to attend the nuptial.

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Palace says bird flu strain not harmful

BIRD FLU WATCH In response to the bird flu outbreak in San Luis town in Pampanga, animal quarantine checkpoints like this one have been set up by government agencies. —ALEXIS CORPUZ


The avian flu strain that hit poultry in Pampanga province is not harmful to humans, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said it was up to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to decide on the request of Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda to lift the quarantine in San Luis town, where the virus struck, because it was affecting duck raisers.
“Our first concern is the safety of our consumers and citizens,” Abella said in a press briefing.

“So far, there is no indication that this strain of avian flu is harmful to humans, but we will continue to validate this and take all precautions needed,” he added.
Abella said the government’s long-term concern was to sustain and support “our local poultry industry as it weathers this first-time crisis.”

“We will work closely with them to eliminate this problem soonest and to restore our country’s chicken exports to their premium position in international markets,” he said.
Malacañang earlier said it was monitoring the quality and price of poultry products following a Department of Agriculture (DA) report of an outbreak of avian flu.
“We believe the DA has acted fast on the issue and has managed to isolate and contain the virus,” Abella said.
Prices fall
“Concerned government agencies are now looking at businesses that might take advantage of the situation and are monitoring the price of raw and processed chicken meat in the markets,” he said.
“While we assure the public that there will be no price increase in chicken meat as there is only one area affected by the avian flu, we must see to it that uncontaminated meat is sold in the markets,” he added.

Market prices for chicken have decreased by P30-P40 to P90 per kilo from P125-P150 per kilo.
Piñol on Friday said around 200,000 fowl in San Luis had been affected by the outbreak. He said the chickens were not necessarily infected, only culled because they were within the 1-kilometer quarantine radius.
The virus was believed to have originated in San Luis’ layer farms in April but was discovered only in August after government experts conducted tests, he said.
On Monday, the DA issued a new memorandum circular allowing the shipment of live domestic birds and products from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon.
In a news conference, Piñol said the movement of all live domestic wild birds, including poultry meat, eggs, chicks and manure from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao remained banned as a precaution.
“Inverse supply will be allowed. Visayas and Mindanao can supply Luzon provided this is outside the danger zone,” he said.
As of Wednesday, 16,865 chickens had been culled, according to Arlene Vytiaco of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).
More than 180,000 chickens are left to be culled, which will be paid for by the DA at P80 a piece. A total of P16 million will be allotted to compensate for the chickens.
Loan assistance
The DA will also allocate P50 million for a loan assistance program for the poultry operators and owners while they are not allowed to continue production.
It told the public to eat poultry and poultry products “at your own risk,” as the agency was still awaiting the result of the laboratory test of the flu virus sent to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory.
Although four laboratory tests done locally confirmed the H5 strain of the flu virus in San Luis, it would take two weeks to know whether the virus has an N7 component, which will make it transmissible to humans, Vytiaco said.
BAI disclosed that parallel testings were done by the regional animal diagnostic laboratory in Central Luzon, the animal diagnostic laboratory in BAI, the University of the Philippines Los Baños and San Miguel Corp.
Nonetheless, DA said there had been no report of any incident of animal-to-human transmissions since the outbreak.

 

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