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4 Makati cops nabbed after threatening to kill entire family

Four Makati City policemen were arrested on Tuesday night for allegedly threatening to kill an entire family and extorting money from them.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) identified the four policemen as Police Officers 2 Harley Garcera and Clarence Maynes and Police Officers 1 Tim Santos and Jeffrey Caniete.
The PNP's Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF), which was recently formed to go after police scalawags, said the four policemen were arrested in an entrapment operation in Pasay City around 11 p.m. Tuesday.
It said that the four policemen forcibly took the complainants, whose identities were not disclosed by the CITF, from a bike shop in Pasay City "without any reason at all."
"Complainants were released after paying the initial of P100,000 with the agreement to give another P100,000 today else their family will all be killed," the CITF report said.
The four policemen are detained at the CITF's headquarters in Camp Crame. Criminal and administrative charges are being prepared against them.
The PNP has relieved the Makati City Police Station's chief and its intelligence division head due to "command responsibility."
In another operation, CITF personnel also arrested Police Officer 1 Efren Guitering of the Manila Police District's Station 6 for attempting to extort money from a drug suspect.
Guitering was arrested in an entrapment operation in San Andres Bukid in Manila around 5:15 p.m.
The suspect allegedly asked P50,000 from a person arrested for alleged possession of illegal drugs on the same day.
In a press conference, CITF commander Senior Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo said follow-up operations are ongoing for the arrest of the four Makati policemen's cohorts.
Malayo said the Makati cops' cohorts include an active policeman, a retired cop and two civilians.
He declined to provide more details on the four suspects. —ALG, GMA News

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More countries issue travel advisories on PH provinces

The British government warns against all travel to Western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, citing terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.
It also advises against travel to the rest of Mindanao and to the south of Cebu province, including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian due to the threat of terrorism.
The Canadian government, for its part, warns against all travel to Mindanao, excluding Davao City, due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.
It also advises against all travel to the waters off southern Palawan due to the threat of piracy and kidnappings. 

ABS-CBN News
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Mocha Uson to defend Duterte against misinformation in media

 
 
 
Mocha Uson. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/ JOAN BONDOC

In what could be further proof that change has indeed come under the Duterte administration, former bold starlet and entertainer Mocha Uson was appointed assistant communications secretary on Tuesday, and was put in charge of fighting fake news, something she had been accused of propagating on her blog.

In a post on her Facebook page, Uson said she would focus on using social media to bring the Duterte administration closer to the Filipino people, and to fight bogus news.

“It’s time for us to stop relying on the wrong reports from some mainstream media, and to strengthen social media with the help of true members of the DDS (Die-hard Duterte Supporters). Because we are the media of Tatay Digong,” she said in her Mocha Uson Blog.

Uson’s appointment— with a salary grade level of between SG 27 and 29 and a base pay of between P87,000 and P106,000—was met with disgust, outrage and mockery from several sectors, with the alternative account of the Armed Forces of the Philippines tweeting the strongest and most critical reaction.

@AltTeamAFP described Uson as the “Queen of Fake News in the Philippines,” and said “(t)he misinformation of the people is a threat to national security.”

The alternative military Twitter account, which has almost 2,000 followers since it was created in March, also took a swipe at Uson’s huge compensation: “Someone who risks his life to defend his country should be paid more than someone who destroys her country by proliferating fake news.”

‘Bright, articulate’

In a press briefing on Wednesday shortly before he left for Cambodia, President Duterte defended the starlet known for her risque interaction with her mostly male audience in bar performances.

“She’s bright, she’s articulate,” and should not be deprived of the “honors that she deserves,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that it was his turn to believe in the likes of Uson after she and her group Mocha Girls campaigned for him for free.

The President also said Uson’s past as a sexy performer did not render her unfit to work in the government. “There’s no law which says if you expose half your body with a shorts and bra, you are disqualified from being the President of the Philippines,” Mr. Duterte added.

As a Palace official, Uson will be in charge of social media and will be producing social media content, said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

Netizens also questioned the qualification of Uson, a 1998 medical technology graduate of the University of Santo Tomas who dropped out of her medical studies.

Other critics described Uson as a purveyor of fake news in at least four instances. In one, she posted a news report praising the DSWD’s system for packing 50,000 relief goods. “That’s how much the Duterte Administration values the ordinary Filipino,” she commented. As angry netizens immediately pointed out, the news report was published on Oct. 1, 2015.

In another blog post, Uson shared the photo of a girl who was supposedly raped and murdered, and asked rhetorically how come there was no outrage from the rights commission. It turned out the incident happened in Brazil. The post was later taken down.

In a post about the tax evasion case of Mighty Corp., Uson cited Article 263 of the Constitution. The 1987 Constitution has only 18 articles.

On Nov. 18 last year, when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was given a hero’s burial, and St. Scholastica’s College students rallied in protest, Uson claimed to have received a message from a distraught parent accusing the school of “child abuse,” for forcing her daughter to join the rally. Several parents denied the claim. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

 

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Duterte names Año as next DILG chief

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he will appoint Armed Forces chief of staff, General Eduardo Año as the next Interior and Local Government Chief.

“You are now facing the next DILG Secretary,” Duterte told reporters as he presented Ano during his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The DILG is currently headed by officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy following the sacking of Ismael Sueno.

Ano will be added to the growing list of military men tapped by the president to hold key positions in government.

The president recently appointed retired General Roy Cimatu to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“He’s (Año) retiring.. So puro military halos. Si Roy pati siya,” Duterte said.

“May isang bakante pa, dagdagan ko pa ng military, kumpleto na ang junta natin,” Duterte quipped.

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News
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Malacañang on UN rights review: PH following due process

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — The government is observing due process in its war on drugs, Malacañang said Tuesday in response to several UN member states' call for the country to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings.  

An overwhelming 45 out of 47 states participating in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had expressed concern over the spate of killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-illegal drug campaign.

When asked for comment on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government has been doing its part.

"Everything is subjected to due process… We are investigating everything that needs to be investigated," Abella told reporters.

It was Malacañang's first official statement after the Philippine delegation's bid to defend the country's drug war at the UN review in Geneva, Switzerland.

Abella said the government is not after changing the world's perception of the drug war, contrary to an earlier statement made by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

President Duterte continues to pursue an "independent foreign policy," Abella explained. Although other countries are free to express their views and recommendations, the government will continue to pursue its "own line of action," he added. 

The government is expected to decide whether to accept, reject, or put under the study the recommendations of the UNHRC after it releases its report on Wednesday. All 193 UN member states are subject to a regular review of their human rights records. 

Aside from ensuring accountability in the anti-drug campaign, most countries also want the Philippines to refrain from reinstating death penalty. 

'Stop the cover-up'

Abella echoed Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's statement that critics of the administration have spread alternative facts on the drug war which have been widely quoted by some local and foreign media outlets.

"Our situation has been overtaken by the media hype and the media noise… Apparently [there's a] concerted effort to create a noise that is beyond what is really there," Abella said.

Cayetano led the Philippine delegation to the UNHRC, together with Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra. They denied the existence of state-sponsored or extrajudicial killings of drug traffickers and criminals.

But the Philippine UPR Watch, an organization of human rights groups who monitored the session in Geneva urged the government to "stop the cover-up."

"We are enraged of the Philippine government's whitewashing of the most serious violations of human rights in the country," Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez said in a statement on Monday.

Former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Etta Rosales also called the government's claims as "hogwash."

More than 2,600 drug suspects were killed in police operations in the country's anti-drug campaign, official police data show. Almost 65,000 drug suspects have been arrested.

The government earlier dispelled as "false news" claims there are around 9,000 drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.

 

 Ina Andolong and Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.

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Robredo: Launch of book about Jesse 'big gift' for her birthday

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) — On the eve of her 52nd birthday, Vice President Leni Robredo led on April 22 the launch of a new children's book on her late husband's life.

Robredo considers the book, 'Nay Ano ang Bayani? Ang Kwento ni Jesse Robredo, a big gift not only for her birthday, but also for her three daughters.

The book, which was published by the Jesse Robredo Foundation, is meant to share to the younger generation the leadership journey of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash in August 2012.

The Foundation believes the youth should know the "matino at mahusay" [decent and competent] kind of leadership by which Jesse Robredo lived.

"Tayo pong lahat na nakakakilala kay Jesse, alam natin na yung kanyang buhay at yung mga aral na makukuha sa buhay niya ay talaga namang napakalaking inspirasyon para sa ating lahat," the Vice President said. "Kaya gusto natin itong ibahagi, lalong-lalo na sa mga kabataan na naghahanap ng bayani na gustong maging inspirasyon din."

[Translation:All of us who know Jesse, we know that his life and the lessons we learned from it are really big inspirations for us all. This is why we want to share these, especially for the youth who are looking for a hero as an inspiration.]

Robredo's second eldest daughter, Tricia, wished for her mom's strength to continue her work as Vice President.

"Sana patuloy siyang maging malakas at matatag," she said. "Patuloy lang sa trabaho. Alam ko naman pino-possess niya naman yung strength, yung grace para ipagpatuloy yung kailangan niyang gawin."

[Translation: I hope that she continues to be strong. I hope that she keeps doing her job. I know that she possesses the strength, the grace to continue her work.]

The Vice President, who has been a vocal critic of the Duterte administration since resigning as Housing Secretary in December 2016, has been besieged with challenges to her post.

Robredo faces impeachment complaints from House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, two loyalists of the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, and lawyers and academics allied with the President.

This is despite Duterte saying in March 2017 that he does not support moves to impeach her.

Robredo likewise faces an electoral protest by former Senator Bongbong Marcos – who lost to her by around 260,000 votes in the 2016 vice presidential elections – on the grounds of alleged poll fraud.

Robredo said on April 22 that she ran for Vice President to prevent the Marcoses from taking power again.

The latest Pulse Asia, conducted in March 2017, found that three in five Filipinos approve of Robredo, down four points from December 2016.

 By Anjo Alimario, CNN Philippines

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.

 

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Panagbenga Grand Street Dancing Parade

Baguio City (CNN Philippines) — Living up to the 2016 Panagbenga Festival’s theme, “Bless the children with flowers,” the Grand Street Dancing Parade showcased young students’ dancing prowess — in colorful, flowery costumes.

Elementary and secondary students mesmerized spectators along the major thoroughfares of Baguio City on Saturday morning (February 27).

A total of 22 performers paraded along Session Road going down to Harrison Road before the final stop at the Baguio Athletic Bowl, where they gave their final performances.

Representatives from Baguio’s sister cities as far as Bukidnon and South Korea also joined the parade.

Of the 22 performing groups, eight competed in the elementary division, eight in the open division, while the rest were special guest performers.

According to the unofficial tally of the tourism office, an estimated half a million touristsvisited Baguio City on Saturday morning to take part in the Panagbenga festivities.

More are expected to arrive on Sunday (February 28) for the Grand Float Parade which will feature 24 floats.

Panagbenga means "season of blooming" in the local dialect since February is the time when most highland flowers bloom especially the sunflower.

 
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Cassini probe find vast void between Saturn’s rings

The unmanned Cassini spacecraft, after completing two passes in the vast, unexplored area between Saturn's rings has discovered not much else there, researchers at NASA said.
Scientists have been surprised to find that not all that much -- not even space dust -- lies between Saturn's iconic rings.
"The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after the probe's first pass.
The rings themselves are made of fast-moving particles of ice and space debris.
The 22-foot-tall (6.7 meter) Cassini spacecraft launched in 1997 and began orbiting Saturn in 2004.
Cassini made a first pass to explore what lies between the rings in late April and a second one on May 2, at a speed of about 77,000 miles per hour relative to the planet.
The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn's atmosphere is about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers).
Cassini is expected to make a total of 22 dives between the rings and the planet before making a death plunge into the gas giant in September.
Cassini is a 20-year-old joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. —Agence France-Presse

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