Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar lead male-dominated Grammy nominations

Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar. (Photos by Reuters)
LOS ANGELES | Jay-Z’s soul-baring album on love, life and social fractures led the Grammy Award nominations on Tuesday with eight nods in a list that saw women sidelined in some major categories and Katy Perry excluded completely.

Jay-Z’s “4:44” album was nominated for album of the year, one of the top three Grammy accolades. The album’s title track and “The Story of O.J.” songs were nominated in song and record of the year.

“4:44” will compete for album of the year against R&B star Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” New Zealand pop singer Lorde’s “Melodrama,” hip hop artists Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn.”

Lamar landed seven nominations overall, Mars got six including the top three categories and Childish Gambino, the alter-ego of actor Donald Glover, scored five nominations.

“Despacito,” the hit from Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi featuring Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee landed three nominations including record and song of the year.

The 60th Grammy Awards, music’s biggest night honoring the year’s achievements across more than 80 categories, are scheduled for Jan. 28 at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Music released between October 2016 and September 2017 qualified for this year’s awards and will be voted for by members of the Recording Academy, made up of music industry professionals.

Newcomer R&B singer SZA was the most-nominated female artist with five nods including best new artist, in which she will face singers Julia Michaels, Alessia Cara, Khalid and rapper Lil Uzi Vert.

Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” album will not be eligible this year due to its November release, but she garnered two nominations including writing country group Little Big Town’s “Better Man.”

The most notable ommission from Tuesday’s Grammy nominations was Canadian hip hop artist Drake, whose “More Life” album dominated streaming, charts and radio play since its March release.

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, whose “Divide” album topped charts around the world, garnered two nominations in the pop categories. Lady Gaga and Kesha landed two nods each in the same categories as Sheeran.

Pop star Katy Perry, who is yet to win a Grammy award, did not score a single nomination for her “Witness” album.

The absence of some of the biggest female artists marked a stark contrast with the 2017 awards, when Beyonce led the nominations and Britain’s Adele swept the top awards. Neither released new music this year.

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Meghan Markle departs ‘Suits’ after engagement to Prince Harry

Prince Harry poses with U.S. actress Meghan Markle in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on Monday after the pair announced their engagement. (Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters)
LOS ANGELES | U.S. actress Meghan Markle has wrapped up her role on legal drama series “Suits” after seven seasons, USA Network and Universal Cable Productions said in a statement on Tuesday, a day after Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry announced their engagement.

Markle, 36, played Rachel Zane on the cable network drama, rising up the ranks from paralegal to lawyer. The character is engaged to be married to Mike Ross, played by Patrick J. Adams.

Markle has completed all her filming for the seventh season, which will return in early 2018, the network said.

“We want to send our most heartfelt congratulations to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on their engagement,” USA Network and Universal Cable Productions, both units of Comcast Corp, said in a joint statement.

“Meghan has been a member of our family for seven years and it has been a joy to work with her. We want to thank her for her undeniable passion and dedication to Suits, and we wish her the very best,” the statement added.

Markle and Harry, 33, announced on Monday they were getting married in May 2018.

The couple met on a blind date in July 2016 and said their relationship had blossomed “incredibly quickly.”

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IFC urges PH to pass measures to hike access to MSMEs

MANILA – The World Bank’s corporate arm, the International Finance Corp. (IFC), has urged the Philippines to give priority to the passage of legislation increasing access to finance micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and to make doing business easier for them.

Yuan Xu, IFC Country Manager for the Philippines, said that secured transactions reform could effectively promote greater financial inclusion.

“If the Philippines truly wants to increase access to finance to MSMEs and increase its competitiveness in doing business, this bill needs to be prioritized so that a sound institutional framework will be in place to give financial institutions more confidence to lend to MSMEs,” she said.

Xu was referring to the Secured Transactions bill which is now moving towards second reading in both Senate and Congress.

She cited the example of China, where the implementation of comprehensive secured transactions reform mobilized USD 3 trillion initially to MSMEs.

Secured transactions reform entails strengthening the legal framework to enable financing based on movable assets, establishment of a modern centralized registry for both movable assets held as collateral and credit information, and institutionalization of systems for dealing with insolvencies.

Gay Santos, Senior Financial Sector Specialist at IFC World Bank Group, said the passage of such legislation could help boost the Philippine ranking in ease of doing business.

“(This) aligns well with the 10-point socioeconomic agenda on focus on rural finance, MSMEs as well as increasing competitiveness in doing business. This is already a priority legislation under the PDP (Philippine Development Plan) but not at NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) level yet,” she said.

The country on Wednesday hosted the 5th Financial Infrastructure Development Network (FIDN) Conference which tackled how the region can move forward after setting up foundations for a financial environment supportive of MSME and agricultural development.

FIDN is composed of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries, IFC, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC); SME Finance Forum; and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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Senate-approved version of 2018 budget assigns P1.4-B in anti-drugs ops to AFP housing, police body cams

A child is silhouetted while playing with a toy gun as police officers conduct a "Oplan Tokhang" or a house-to-house campaign on illegal drugs at an informal settlers' community in Manila in this October 6, 2016 file photo. REUTERS
MANILA – The Senate re-assigned to housing for soldiers and body cameras for policemen the P900-million outlay of the National Police for its controversial Oplan Double Barrel against illegal drugs and P500 million of the DILG’s Masa Masid, as it passed on third and final reading Wednesday night the proposed 2018 national budget.

The Senate-approved proposal is a P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget, with the bulk allocated for the government’s various social services programs.

With 16 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention, the Senate approved House Bill No. 6215, which was sponsored by Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance.

According to Legarda, the Senate version of the 2018 national budget is a “pro-people” budget, which will address and the most basic needs of Filipinos.

Legarda thanked those who supported it. “This is a beautiful, great experience, even if I have to sacrifice my personal leisure time, 6 months in a year starting August to December. I would not change the experience.”

Minority Senator Risa Hontiveros explained that she voted in favor of the Senate version of the budget as it excludes the allocation for the war on drugs of the PNP.

“Nalagay natin ‘yan sa housing ng ating mga sundalo at pulis, body cams as well. Wala na ‘yung [We placed that money in housing for soldiers and policemen, and body cameras as well. There’s no more] Masa Masid, Double Barrel,” Hontiveros noted.

BICAMERAL PANEL

The two chambers of Congress will face each other at the bicameral conference committee Thursday to settle differences in their versions before sending the bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.

The Senate elected Legarda as the chairperson of the bicameral conference committee on the disagreeing provisions of the national budget with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Panfilo Lacson, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri as members.

In her sponsorship speech earlier, Legarda said: “The 2018 General Appropriations Bill is a national expenditure program touted by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to bring about inequality-reducing transformation, or pagbabago; a budget seeking to enhance the social fabric, or malasakit; one that will increase the country’s growth potential, or patuloy na pag-unlad; and an expenditure program that seeks to maintain the foundations for sustainable development.”

Legarda further described it as, “a budget that addresses the basics. A budget where we made room and space to keep those who are in the cold, warm; to feed those who are hungry and dispossessed; a budget that reduces enmity and restores the peace.”

EDUCATION, INFRA SPENDING

The Education sector received the highest budget allocation in the Senate version, with 684.33 billion. This includes the budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) and its attached agencies at P 561.58 billion, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) at P62.33 billion and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) at P60.42 billion.

The Senate-approved budget allocated P51 billion to pay for free college education in all of the country’s state universities and colleges (SUCs) and other state-run educational institutions, apart from a P10 million fund to “capital outlay and free Wi-Fi in all SUCs.”

DepEd increased the monthly chalk allowance for public school teachers from P2,500 to P5,000 and allocated around P1.820 billion for the program.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) received the second largest share with 598.57 billion, “to spur infrastructure spending and herald the so-called Golden Age of Infrastructure.”

The third highest allocation went to the Department of Health (DOH) and its attached corporations with 174.47.43 billion including a P3 billion fund for the universal health coverage and P6.5 billion for the health benefits for government employees.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) got a P170.24 billion budget followed by the Department of National Defense (DND) with P147.85 billion, the Department of Social Welfare and Development with 139.27 billion.

The 2018 budget expanded funding for government programs to help break the cycle of inter-generational poverty and promote inclusive economic growth for all Filipinos, Legarda pointed out.

She said government would continue to support DSWD’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program by upholding its P89.41 billion allocation, “of which P31.68 billion is for rice subsidy.”

An additional P3 billion was allocated to establish or repair the DSWD centers nationwide to provide “respectable shelter to poor families and individuals, especially minors.”

The Senate had set aside P270 million to fund the “Early Childhood Care and Development/Nutrition Package for the First 1000 Days” under the National Nutrition Council, which is expected to benefit children and adults in 16,419 barangays worst-hit by malnutrition.

The proposed 2018 budget also retained the P2.6 billion in irrigation fees subsidy under the National Irrigation Administration to help the livelihood of farmers and lessen fees collected from farmers’ associations.

The Senate had made available a P10 billion fund under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi City.

BIGGER FUNDS FOR AFP, PNP

Like social services and infrastructure spending, the country’s defense and law enforcement sectors are also getting substantial increases in their budgetary allocations next year.

The Senate allocated P131.628 billion to the Philippine National Police (PNP) next year.

“We cut the double barrel and Masa Masid of the PNP and DILG while PDEA’s budget increased by P1.213 billion,” Legarda said during the plenary.

She noted that the same budget included P50 million for the acquisition of body cameras “to be used by police officers in highly-urbanized areas.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, in turn, was allocated P141.860 billion, to complement the AFP Modernization Program.

To prevent any event like the Marawi crisis from happening again, the Senate also allocated an additional P100 million intelligence fund for the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and increased AFP intelligence fund to P137.312 million.

RISK PREPAREDNESS, ADAPTIVE CAPACITIES

Legarda said that a key aspect of the Senate’s proposed 2018 national budget was that it “integrated and mainstreamed disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in government programs.”

“We firmly believe that building an inclusive and prosperous economy requires us to continually strengthen our resilience to impacts of natural hazards and climate change,” she said.

She said the Senate version of the 2018 budget also required every local government unit under the responsibility of the DILG to conduct regular evacuation drills in coastal communities that were at risk of storm surges and landslides.

“These drills should simulate real emergencies and should teach our people basic survival skills; how to avoid panic; as well as help them ascertain proper responses during actual natural hazards,” she said. – With a report from Faith del Mundo, News5

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WATCH: NUJP to Bato dela Rosa: Apologize to Reuters for hinting at softness for drug rings

The wake of Rolando Campo and Sherwin Bitas was held only a few paces from where police shot them, in this photo that accompanied the Reuters story that Dela Rosa took issue with.
MANILA – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday demanded Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to retract his statement suggesting that drug syndicates conspired with international news agency Reuters in coming up with a report involving Manila police officers who allegedly killed three men in Tondo, Manila.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the media organization also asked Dela Rosa to issue an apology to the Reuters team, especially the writers of the special report, Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall.

The PNP chief on Tuesday raised his suspicion on the timing of the release of the Reuters report on a Manila police anti-drug operation which presented a CCTV footage of cops who appeared to be deliberately killing drug suspects, then taking 25 minutes to bring them to hospital, but claiming they “rushed” them.

“Tina-timing, saka ilalabas ‘yong mga ganong damaging reports about PNP kung kelan tayo ibabalik. Ibig sabihin yung mga kalaban natin, ayaw talaga pabalikin sa war on drugs. Ano ang kinakatakutan nila? Hindi naman sila addict siguro,” Dela Rosa told reporters on the sidelines during the Supreme Court oral arguments on PNP’s Oplan Tokhang.

[They are timing it. They released damaging reports against the PNP at the time the war on drugs will be returned to PNP. This means our enemies do not want the war on drugs to be given back to us. What are they afraid of? I hope they are not addicts].”

Dela Rosa also said he has yet to read Reuters’ news report.

NUJP slammed Dela Rosa’s tendency to speculate or “shoot from the lip” on issues regarding illegal drugs, pointing out that the PNP chief came from an institution governed by strict rules of evidence.

The group also urged Dela Rosa to respect the independence of the media and to read news reports before reacting to them.

HERE’S NUJP’S FULL STATEMENT:

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines demands that PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa take back his utterly asinine – and potentially dangerous – insinuation that respected news agency Reuters may be in cahoot with drug syndicates in the release this week of a special report on the suspicious police killing of three men in Tondo, Manila in October.

At the very least, he owes the men and women of Reuters, particularly writers Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall, an apology and a pledge to ensure their safety from the possible consequences of his irrational and irresponsible utterances.

Dela Rosa claimed Reuters “were timing this kind of damaging reports about the PNP when (the drug war) may be reverted back to us [sic],” and then concluded, “That means our enemies really don’t want us to participate in the drug war. What are they afraid of? I don’t think they’re drug addicts.”

For a man at the helm of an organization that has acknowledged killing thousands of suspected drug pushers and addicts in the course of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, Dela Rosa, of all people, should know that even speculating out loud about people’s possible addiction to narcotics may have fatal consequences, as the corpses with placards proclaiming the “sins” for which they were punished without due process amply illustrate.

What is even more appalling is deigning to tell media – in this case, Reuters – how they should report the news.

“What I can tell Reuters is that if you want the PNP to look bad, you can do it. You can really do it,” he said. “If you want to present a very objective presentation, you can also do it. If you want to be biased in our favor, you can also do it. So they have a choice.”

All this, as news reports noted, while admitting he had yet to see the Reuters report.

It is truly alarming that a man whose job is supposed to be governed by strict rules of evidence has many times shown a propensity for shooting from the lip, this time pillorying a news organization for a report he has not even read yet while glossing over the reason for the report – the existence of possible murderers and sundry lawbreakers – within the service he leads.

Alas for you, Mr. Dela Rosa, the media have faced worse dangers than loose-lipped cops who choose to blame their shortcomings on others.

So if it is your intention to intimidate Reuters and other independent journalists into going soft on their reportage for fear of being tarred and feathered by your baseless accusations, you should know you will fail.

Really, Sir, the only honorable way out for you is to apologize to Reuters and promise to ensure their safety. Oh, yes, and pledge to respect the independence of the media and, please, oh please, do read reports before reacting to them.

WATCH A RELATED VIDEO REPORT BY NEWS5: https://www.facebook.com/News5Everywhere/videos/1079201428903277/

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International Alert warns of 2 post-Marawi sources of violence, calls for BBL’s passage

Marawi in ruins. Photo from October 2017 by KJ Rosales, Philippine Star.
MANILA, Philippines — Peace-building organization International Alert Philippines has warned of two possible sources of violence that may erupt in Marawi City shortly after the war between terrorist groups and government forces in the Lanao del Sur capital: first are people who are seeking revenge for the loss of their families and/or property, and second are issues that have to do with overlapping land claims in the South.

At the same time, International Alert Philippines stresses that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) needs to happen soon, to prevent more violence.

“It’s classic rido, clan-feuding that may happen,” said International Alert Philippines country manager Francisco Lara, Jr. on Wednesday in Taguig City, during the lauch of Conflict Alert’s 2017 report titled Guns, Drugs, and Extremism: Bangsamoro’s New Wars. Conflict Alert is International Alert Philippines’ conflict monitoring system for Mindanao.

For example, Lara learned that the arrest of the widow of Omarkhayam Maute, Indonesian Minhati Madrais, was possibly due to some affected families ratting her out.

Land issues, meanwhile, are due to the “very unstable nature of property rights in the area,” according to Lara.

Meanwhile, International Alert Philippines deputy country manager Nikki de la Rosa explained that there were overlapping claims on landholdings with “no secure property rights”.

Dela Rosa said that the organization’s data on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from 2011 to 2016 showed that identity-based conflicts, political issues, and land-based conflicts had the highest propensity to produce more episodes of violence.

“The manner by which the reconstruction process and the rebuilding process will be undertaken should also consider identity-based conflicts and the looming land issues. Otherwise, that will unleash other sources and episodes of violence,” she said.

Lara noted that despite the defeat of the Maute Group, their ideology remains.

“There are a lot of people… young people who actually were inspired by what happened in Marawi,” he said.

De la Rosa added, “There are youth that are still influenced or find the ideology of the Maute to be legitimate, in terms of the everyday issues that they face: discrimination; some of them are graduates of universities, but up to now they cannot find a job; feelings of unfairness…”

“The entire rehabilitation, rebuilding of Marawi will certainly shape the process or the growth of extremism. If it is handled well, of course, then it will serve as a counterpoint to further radicalization among young people,” Lara said.

“But there are other issues related to that; it’s not only the rebuilding,” Lara said, adding that among these “vital issues is the passage of the BBL.”

“We’ve seen in our own work how that (non-passage of the BBL) has become a vector for the rise in violent extremism,” Lara said.

MILF’s role

Asked about the part the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would play in the coming months, Lara said the MILF would have a more “strategic role” now than they ever did before.

During the Marawi crisis, there was “clear evidence” that they stood their ground against the Maute Group and fully supported the position of the government, according to Lara.

But they are not doing so without something in exchange, Lara said. “They’re waiting for the BBL. The big question is, the more you dribble the BBL, how long will that patience last? That’s what worries us.”

Nevertheless, he added, “They’ve demonstrated their commitment to the peace process consistently.”

International Alert Philippines also tackled the rise of shadow or underground economies, which financed and enabled the Maute Group.

Conflict Alert team leader Judy Gulane noted that the members of the Maute Group were also involved in cases of kidnapping, carnapping, and extortion of businesses.

“Very clearly there was a very strong connection between the illicit drug industry and violent extremism in the case of Marawi,” Lara said. The scale of the Maute Group’s operation would not have been possible without the resources from the trade.

He cited a Mindanao State University professor as writing in International Alert Philippines’ 2013 book “Out of the Shadows: Violent conflict and the real economy of Mindanao” about the link between local government officials in Lanao del Sur and the drug trade.

It is likely that the presence of shadow economies in a particular area indicates a rise in extremism.

Cotabato to be attacked next?

Asked about the military and President Rodrigo Duterte’s concerns about Cotabato City being the next Marawi, Lara acknowledged that there were sightings of “the black flag” in some barangays there.

But he did not believe that the terrorists would be able to mobilize quickly after the “setback” in Marawi as it would take some time for them to build their resources, as well as to broker new alliances with other groups.

“That is what is disconcerting. Because there are other groups that are disappointed also with the lack of a BBL,” Lara said.

“What will most likely happen is what they’ve done in the early stages up to 2016… there will be some IED (improvised explosive device) explosions. There will probably be some KFR (kidnapping for ransom) operations… There might be some skirmishes, but they will not approach, we think, the level that was approached in Marawi,” he said.

He noted that the military was more alarmed over “the nature of a marauding, moving group rather than a Marawi-type of operation.”

“So what we should be looking at is the type of operation that they mounted for example in Mumbai,” Lara said. “Attacking hotels, small units, two squads at the most, heavily armed, and creating havoc over a period of time. That will most likely be, rather than another Marawi-type.”

Lara was referring to the terror attacks that occurred from November 26 to 29, 2008 in Mumbai, India wherein ten Pakistani men associated with the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba group targeted a number of hotels, a cinema, a café, a hospital, a train station, and a Jewish establishment. They stormed these buildings and killed 164 people.

“But given some time in the future, given that they are able to broker a broader alliance to support them, then they may attempt another Marawi-type operation,” Lara said.

Include other voices

Lara and de la Rosa emphasized the need to include the voices of the youth, the women, and local and clan leaders in the rehabilitation of Marawi.

At the moment, the government has “taken on a rehabilitation, rebuilding, physical type of response,” Lara observed.

“What does it say when the head of the committee is HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council)?” he asked.

He lamented that anti-poverty and social welfare agencies “do not figure prominently into the plan.”

“It’s almost a remake of Yolanda… Is the government treating this as a natural calamity? I hope not. Are they treating this simply as a matter of building, constructing infrastructure? I hope not,” Lara said.

“Communities must be built to become resilient to the threat of extremism. To do this, people must not only look at the areas affected by it, but also places that the Maute Group tried to penetrate, but were not able to do so,” he added.

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Duterte appoints 3 provincial board members

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed 3 new provincial board members to fill in recent vacancies in local legislatures of Kalinga, Bukidnon, and Surigao de Norte.

Through appointment papers signed by Duterte on Friday, November 24, and released to the media on Wednesday, November 29, the following were appointed members of their respective Sangguniang Panlalawigan:

  • Jaedicke Rhoss Dagadag - Kalinga (2nd district)
  • Cromwell Kiril Dinlayan - Bukidnon (2nd district)
  • Elizabeth Matugas - Surigao del Norte (1st district)
 

Jaedicke Rhoss was appointed in place of his father, Rhustom Dagadag, who died two months ago.

Dinlayan replaced his father, Manuel Dinlayan, who had died. The younger Dinlayan was the chief of Barangay 1 in Malaybalay City prior to his appointment.

Matugas – sister of former Surigao del Norte 1st District Representative Francisco Matugas – replaced Leonila Gorgolon, who assumed a new role as judge of the province's Regional Trial Court Branch 30. Elizabeth Matugas lost in the mayoralty race in Dapa town in the May 2016 elections.

Section 45 (1) of the Local Government Code allows the President, through the Executive Secretary, to appoint a member of the sangguniang panlalawigan (provincial board) in case of a permanent vacancy. – Rappler.com

 
 
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NBI finds 'no mechanical, electrical defect' in MRT3 train detachment

INSPECTION. DOTr-MRT3 technicians dismantle the coupling device of train cars involved during the November 16, 2017 detachment. Photo from DOTr-MRT3 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said there was no mechanical or electrical defect in the coupling device of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) train coaches involved in the detachment incident earlier this month.

On Wednesday, November 29, MRT3 technicians led the dismantling of the coupling device as the NBI observed with a group of forensic experts.

"We saw in our initial findings that there is no defect insofar as the electrical and mechanical aspect of the coupler assembly is concerned," NBI Special Action Unit chief Joel Tovera said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Tovera added that they will probe deeper into the possibility of human intervention. (READ: #AnimatED: Tragic rides, drastic steps for the MRT)

"But as I have said this is just the initial findings, we will also connect this to other aspects of our investigation like the statements of the persons of interest we've been investigating in the past week and more to come," said Tovera.

On November 16, commuters walked along the MRT3 tracks from the Ayala Station to the Buendia Station after a train coach got detached from the main train. Operations of the railway system were disrupted. (READ: Commuters share most horrible MRT experiences)

In a briefing, MRT3 technicians said train detachment due to mechanical or electrical fault is "impossible," pointing to human intervention as a possible cause.

Senator Grace Poe earlier called for the suspension of MRT3 operations but railway officials gave assurances that it is safe and that operating hours would be reduced to add more time for maintenance checks.

The MRT3 experienced 475 glitches from January 1 to November 17. (READ: MRT woes: How often do they happen?– Rappler.com

 
 
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Group warns of revenge killings, rise in clan feuding in Marawi

AFTER MARAWI This screenshot shows the battle area in Marawi City. Screenshot from Rappler

 
 
 
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MANILA, Philippines – Peacebuilding organization International Alert Philippines on Wednesday, November 29, warned about two looming problems related to identity that may erupt in Marawi City in the next few months.

"One, there will be those who will seek revenge. They lost their property, they lost their loved ones, and they want revenge – that's one potential source, and it's classic rido, clan feuding, that may happen," International Alert Philippines country manager Francisco Lara Jr said during the launch of the Conflict Alert 2017.

 

The second possible problem, according to Lara, is related to land.

"So there are two major potential spikes in violence that are rido in nature or clan feuding, and they will be tied up to land because of the very unstable nature of property rights in the area, and then secondly, revenge killings," he reiterated.

International Alert Philippines deputy country manager Nikki de la Rosa said there is a need to consider identity-based conflicts and land-based conflicts that happened before Marawi, and how those will "interplay" into existing conflicts that will be unleashed post-Marawi.

"The issue of revenge killings and clan feuding has been there previous to Marawi, so the manner by which the reconstruction process and the rebuilding process will be undertaken should also consider identity-based conflicts and the looming land issues. Otherwise, that will unleash other sources and episodes of violence in the time that people will go back to Marawi," she explained.

De la Rosa said that, based on their database, incidents of violence – specifically identity-based conflicts, political issues, and land-based conflicts – have the "highest propensity" to produce more episodes of violence.

"So this has to be addressed not just in a linear manner by cutting one string of violence, but also other corollary violence that will erupt out of those original incidents of violence. There are multiple causes of violence in the area, and there's also multiplicity of actor identities, so that has to be considered," she noted.

According to International Alert Philippines' latest Conflict Alert, identity issues, particularly gender-related violence and clan feuds, are the 3rd biggest cause of conflict in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The biggest causes of violent conflict are shadow economy issues. Shadow economies pertain to the informal or underground sectors of the economy that tend to fuel violent conflict.

On Wednesday, Lara said "there is no doubt already" of the "very strong connection" between the illicit drug industry and violent extremism in the case of Marawi.

"We've also seen particularly that [the drug trade in Lanao del Sur] enabled access to huge amounts of resources by the Maute Group. There are signs for example that the scale of their operations would not have occurred had those resources not been available," he explained.

Conflict Alert team leader Judy Gulane said they found out from their data that Maute members were also tied to cases of kidnapping, carnapping, and extortion of businesses – all shadow economies.

The presence of shadow economies, Lara emphasized, is an important factor to look into in other places that may be potential areas for the rise of extremism "because those will provide the resources that extremist groups can tap into in terms of waging their war."

President Rodrigo Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City in October or nearly 5 months after the war erupted on May 23. – Rappler.com

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'Sorry' Duterte sends off Vietnamese fishermen shot at by PH Navy

BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP. President Rodrigo Duterte leads the send-off ceremony for 5 Vietnamese fishermen accused of poaching in Philippine waters. Malacañang photo 

 
 
 
 
 
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MANILA, Philippines – As he led the send-off of 5 Vietnamese fishermen caught poaching in Philippine waters, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was "sorry" about the shooting incident that led to the deaths of two of their companions.

"I'd like to address our Vietnamese friends that we are one, we are Asians. I'm sorry for the incident. I hope it would never happen again," he said on Wednesday, November 29, during his speech at the send-off at Sual Port in Pangasinan.

 

With Vietnamese Ambassador Ly Quoc Tuan and the 5 fishermen in the audience, Duterte expressed confidence that such incidents "will not destroy our bond of relationship."

On September 22, 7 Vietnamese fishermen were spotted by the Philippine Navy fishing in waters around Sual, Pangasinan. During the chase that ensued, the Navy shot at the fishermen's vessels, supposedly leading to the deaths of two of the fishermen.

A month after, the Philippines apologized for the incident and promised to provide compensation for the deaths of the two Vietnamese nationals.

Still, the 5 surviving Vietnamese were charged for violating the Philippine Fisheries Code which prohibits foreigners from fishing within the country's exclusive economic zone. They were initially ordered to pay an administrative fine.

But the Philippine government decided to waive the fine after the fishermen appealed for leniency and presented a certificate from the Vietnamese government that stated they are indigents.

HEADING HOME. The 5 Vietnamese fishermen wave goodbye to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Malacañang photo
     

HEADING HOME. The 5 Vietnamese fishermen wave goodbye to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Malacañang photo 

Duterte, in his Wednesday speech, said he had no problem exempting the fishermen from punishment given their lowly condition and the greater interest of solidarity within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"I had to do it because I made a commitment during the ASEAN. And it was also their promise to do the same, that we treat our poor citizens who happened just to intrude somewhere with understanding, with love," the President said.

Duterte recalled that he was in the exact same place a year ago when he sent off 17 Vietnamese fishermen who had also been accused of poaching.

Before his speech, Duterte personally handed to the 5 Vietnamese a bag of provisions for their journey home.

The Vietnamese ambassador expressed "heartfelt gratitude" for the Philippine government's decision on the fishermen's poaching case and for arranging their trip back to their country. – Rappler.com

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