Items filtered by date: Friday, 22 December 2017

Terror attack at San Francisco's Pier 39 thwarted, federal authorities say

Everitt Aaron Jameson

(CNN)A former US Marine talked with an undercover FBI employee about carrying out a terror attack over the holidays at Pier 39, a busy shopping and tourist area in San Francisco, according to an affidavit filed in US District Court in California on Friday.

Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, of Modesto, California, was arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Justice Department said in a news release.
Though there are no additional known threats to the city, San Francisco police will be increasing their presence in light of the alleged terror plot, acting Mayor London Breed said in a statement. The spokesperson for the local FBI office said there are no known credible threats in the Bay Area.
CNN has not been able to contact Jameson's lawyer for comment.
According to the Modesto Bee, his federal public defender, Eric Kersten, said his client denied the allegation in the affidavit.
The FBI started watching Jameson in September after becoming aware of social media activity in which he "liked" or "loved" posts about terror attacks and ISIS, the affidavit said. Undercover employees of the FBI posed as supporters of ISIS and contacted Jameson, the affidavit said.
Jameson met with an undercover employee on December 16 and told them he wanted to conduct a terror attack using weapons and explosives at Pier 39, the affidavit said.
Jameson, saying he was familiar with the layout of the site, wanted to use explosives to "funnel" people into a location where he could inflict casualties, the affidavit said. "Jameson also stated that Christmas was the perfect day to commit the attack," the affidavit said.
The attack would be styled after the October 31 attack in New York City in which a man drove a truck down a bike lane, killing eight people, the affidavit said.
Jameson said he'd just started working as a tow truck driver, which could help in the attack, the affidavit said. He expressed loyalty to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and offered to donate money and contribute his firearms skills, the affidavit said.
Jameson had served in the US Marines in 2009 and attained a sharpshooter rifle qualification. He was later discharged for fraudulent enlistment because he failed to disclose a latent asthma history, the affidavit said.
He asked the undercover agents to provide an assault rifle and explosives and sent them photos of what appeared to be Pier 39, the affidavit said. Jameson told the agent that he would be willing to write "a statement to the brothers," the affidavit by an FBI agent said.
After several communications on December 18, Jameson appeared to back out, telling an undercover agent, "I also don't think I can do this after all. I've reconsidered," the affidavit said.
On December 20, authorities searched his home in Modesto and found firearms, empty magazines, ammunition and fireworks, the complaint said.
They found a will and a handwritten letter that said "you've allowed Donald Trump to give Al Quds away to the Jews," apparently a reference to the President's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The letter writer, identified as Abdallah Abu Everitt Ibn Gordon Al-Amriki, goes on to say, "We have penetrated and infiltrated your disgusting country."
During the search, Jameson talked about supporting ISIS and terrorism and said he would be happy if the attack were carried out.
Jameson remains in custody. He appeared in court on Friday for a first appearance and is scheduled for a detention hearing December 28 and a preliminary hearing January 5.
If convicted, Jameson could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $250,000, the Justice Department said.
CNN's Tammy Kupperman contributed to this report.

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U.S. officials say lethal weapons headed to Ukraine

Image: Ukraine Crisis

WASHINGTON — Ukraine will soon have more lethal American-made weapons to help it fight Russian-backed separatists.

U.S. officials said Friday that the Trump administration approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Kiev, according to the Associated Press.

The State Department, responsible for overseeing foreign military sales, confirmed to NBC News that it would provide Ukraine with "enhanced defensive capabilities" but would not specify further.

Ukrainian marines prepare to train in urban warfare techniques on the second day of the 'Rapid Trident' bilateral military exercises between the United States and Ukraine that include troops from a variety of NATO and non-NATO countries on September 16, 2014 near Yavorov, Ukraine. Sean Gallup / Getty Images file
The move is long-awaited and deepens America’s involvement in the military conflict, potentially further straining U.S. relations with Russia.

According to AP sources the new arms include American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles that Ukraine has long sought to boost its defenses against Russian-backed separatists, who have rolled through eastern Ukraine in tanks since 2014. The violence is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people.

Previously, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with support equipment and training, and has let private companies sell some small arms like rifles.

A senior Russian diplomat criticized the move Saturday saying it would fuel the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The decision "raises the danger of derailing the process of peaceful settlement in Ukraine,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told the state RIA Novosti news agency.

A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany has helped reduce the scale of fighting in eastern Ukraine, but clashes have continued and the agreement’s provisions for political settlement have stalled.

The move is likely to become another sore point between Washington and Moscow, as President Donald Trump contends with ongoing questions about whether he’s too hesitant to confront the Kremlin. Ukraine accuses Russia of sending the tanks, and the U.S. says Moscow is arming, training and fighting alongside the separatists.

Trump had been considering the plan for some time after the State Department and the Pentagon signed off on it earlier this year. President Barack Obama also considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but left office without doing so.

In a statement late Friday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the “enhanced defensive capabilities” would help Ukraine build its military long-term, defend its sovereignty and “deter further aggression.”

“U.S. assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself,” Nauert said.

Although the portable Javelin anti-tank missiles can kill, proponents for granting them to Ukraine have long argued they are considered “defensive” because the Ukrainians would use them to defend their territory and deter the Russians, not to attack a foreign country or seize new territory.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
ABIGAIL WILLIAMS
CONTRIBUTOR SAPHORA SMITH

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Ferry sinking off Quezon brings back memories of the Doña Paz disaster

RESCUED Rovelyn Combalicer (right) and her daughter Kyla, 11 (second from left), and other passengers of the MV Mercraft 3, which sank on Thursday between Barangay Dinahican in Infanta town and Polillo Island in Quezon, are brought to temporary shelters in Infanta. At right, ferry passengers are stranded in neighboring Real town. —LYN RILLON AND AFP

INFANTA, Quezon—Survivors and families of the passengers of the ferry that sank off the coast of Quezon province on Thursday scrambled to find some source of relief from the tragedy that struck four days before Christmas.

While most reeled from the loss of personal belongings and the trauma, others struggled with questions about what caused MV Mercraft 3 to sink and steal their loved ones from them.

The Mercraft sank nearly 30 years to the day after the ferry, Doña Paz, which was also packed with Christmas holiday passengers, collided with an oil tanker near Mindoro and burst into flames, claiming more than 4,000 lives in the world’s worst maritime peacetime disaster.

Juanito Diaz, acting chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said four people were confirmed dead, while 15 others were missing.

At least 249 people, including an Australian tourist and his Filipino wife, were rescued hours after the vessel sank, according to Councilor Janet Balili of Dinahican village in Infanta town.

Rough waters

The ferry capsized in rough waters off Dinahican village in Infanta town an hour after it left the port of Real for Polillo Island at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

Three of the four who died were identified as Francisco Azuela, Marieta Guinto Gusago and Ding Azores. The fourth fatality was a woman.

The bodies were brought to C.M. Recto Hospital, where the staff said one of the two women appeared to be pregnant.

Over 60 survivors were treated in hospitals. Some, with minor injuries, were discharged and 18 remained confined with fever and nausea.

Temporary shelters

Administrative officer Carmen Peñaverde said the hospital was told that the ferry operator would shoulder all the expenses.

In Dinahican, over 200 survivors were sheltered at the village hall near the port and at an adjacent basketball court where social workers hurried to identify them so they could be reunited with their relatives.

Balili said the Coast Guard, Army, Navy and local authorities launched early on Friday another search, but no survivor or body was found.

The mission was called off around 1 p.m. as strong winds hampered operations.

Many of the ferry passengers headed from the Ungos port in Real town to Polillo Island for the Christmas holiday.

Waiting for word

Families of those missing were in agony, hearing no word about their loved ones.

Confirmed missing were Sunday Tapar, John Mark Mendiola, Rufo Combalicer and Odelon Azul.

Tapar’s mother, Ester Jinayon, 58, rushed from her home in Taytay, Rizal province, after hearing news of the ferry sinking from a relative.

Her son and his wife, Judith, and their 11-month-old son were traveling to Polillo with his uncle Edie to spend Christmas there.

“We traveled together to the Ungos port where I even sent them off,” she said, weeping. “My only Christmas wish now is for my son to come home alive.”

Edie, 50, said the boat was filled with so many passengers that the life vests were not enough for everyone. He didn’t even have one, he said.

When the vessel began to tilt to the side, he recalled thinking, “I need to at least save myself.”

He saw Sunday struggling to save his wife and baby, before his nephew disappeared.

Judith and her baby survived and were brought to a hospital.

Losing a father

Rovelyn Combalicer said she had already accepted the loss of her father, Rufo.

The Dubai-based worker, who had returned to the country to celebrate the holidays in her Polillo hometown, decried the overloaded vessel.

“Right now, I just hope they would find my father’s body, and we can bid him a proper goodbye,” she said.

One survivor, Rene Ebuenga, said passengers panicked when the ferry started to take in water and rushed to one side, causing the vessel to tilt and capsize.

Diaz said Quezon Gov. David Suarez had called on the Coast Guard to strictly implement rules on sea travel and “not give in to the emotional plea of travelers wanting to return home.” —WITH REPORTS FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., THE WIRES

 

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Reds declare own holiday ceasefire

 

Jorge Madlos, alias Ka Oris

New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson Jorge Madlos, using the alias Ka Oris, announced on Friday that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had ordered a ceasefire “in observance of the Filipino people’s traditional holidays and the CPP’s 49th anniversary” on Dec. 26.

In a statement, Madlos said “all NPA units and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations” against government forces from 6 p.m. on Dec. 23 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 26 and from 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 2.

The NPA’s two-part ceasefire matched the same time frame of the truce ordered on Thursday by President Duterte, but shorter by about 12 hours.

“We wish the whole nation a peaceful Christmas and New Year,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said following the NPA announcement.

Peaceful celebration

“We expect that the CPP-NPA would honor their word and comply with the unilateral ceasefire, so that our people could truly experience a peaceful Christmas celebration,” he said.

Both Roque and Madlos said both sides would remain vigilant.

Madlos said the rebels were wary of the military’s alleged “treachery, attacks and deception” during previous government-declared unilateral ceasefires.

The NPA leader also said soldiers and policemen “who have no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units” would be allowed to enter rebel-controlled areas “to make personal visits to relatives and friends” during the holidays.

Peace negotiations

Mr. Duterte went ahead with the ceasefire over the “adamant” opposition of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

 

The President ordered the truce despite his decision last month to scrap the peace negotiations to end nearly half a century of communist insurgency in the Philippines, one of the most protracted in Asia, and to designate the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.

Mr. Duterte said he terminated the talks with the rebels and declared them terrorists because of continued guerrilla attacks, even while talks brokered by Norway were underway.

The ceasefire declarations were welcomed as a way to revive the talks.

“That is welcome news,” Cagayan de Oro Bishop Antonio Ledesma said. “Hopefully it can lead to a resumption of the peace talks.”

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Bataan, praised the truce, saying “the best Christmas gift to one another is peace.”

“We appreciate the good intentions of the government in exerting all efforts to forge peace,” Santos said.

Appeal to both sides

The activist priest, Fr. Robert Reyes, appealed to both sides to “ensure sincerity and commitment to their promised ceasefire.”

“We call on both parties to give true peace a chance not only through a temporary ceasefire but a more vigorous return to the table of dialogue,” Reyes said. “The violence of war attains more violence. The peace of dialogue attains peace.”

Mayor Joselito Ojeda of Mulanay town in Quezon province said the fate of the talks depended on the Christmas ceasefire.

He said that in the “total war” between the rebels and the government, “the ultimate loser is the people and their hope for better future for their families and their communities.”

CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, the chief political consultant for rebel peace negotiators, earlier said it would be “unwise and illogical” for the CPP to order the NPA to declare a truce following the termination of the talks and the terrorist tagging.

But Sison, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands since 1987, said the decision to declare a holiday ceasefire still rested with the CPP leadership.

Government forces and NPA rebels have previously declared separate unilateral ceasefires during the Christmas season. The ceasefires, however, have ended with both sides swapping accusations of violations. —WITH REPORTS FROM DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., ALLAN NAWAL, LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, JULIE M. AURELIO, AFP

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21 kids sue Aquino, et al. over Dengvaxia mess

 

DENGVAXIA HOTLINE The militant women’s group Gabriela launches the “Dengvaxia Hotline” that will receive calls from concerned parents of more than 800,000 children who had been injected with the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. The hotline will be open to callers daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Twenty-one schoolchildren, who were inoculated with the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, filed graft charges on Friday against former President Benigno Aquino III, three of his Cabinet members, including then Health Secretary Janette Garin, and executives of Sanofi Pasteur, the drug manufacturer.

Reacting to the charges, Abigail Valte, spokesperson for Aquino, said the “former President’s attendance at the Senate committee hearing [on the vaccine] has proven one thing: he takes accountability seriously and will continue to answer any and all allegations thrown at him.”

Also on Friday, the women’s group Gabriela and 70 children represented by their mothers and guardians asked the Supreme Court to order the government to address the health risks posed by Dengvaxia.

The petition asked the high court to order free medical services to the 70 children, all of whom were inoculated with Dengvaxia, after Sanofi admitted recently that persons who had not had dengue fever before their vaccination might suffer severe dengue later.

Represented by their parents, the group of 21 children—all residents of Valenzuela City—as well as Gabriela officials led by Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, charged Aquino and Garin with violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the procurement law in the Office of the Ombudsman.

Also named respondents were Aquino’s budget secretary, Florencio Abad, and executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa, as well as Sanofi’s Guillaume Leroy, Olivier Brandicourt, Ruby Dizon, Thomas Triomphe and Carlito Realuyo.

Second complaint

The complaint was the second to be filed against Aquino and Garin. Last week, former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. accused the two former officials of plunder, graft and corruption, and mass murder for using 733,000 schoolchildren as “human guinea pigs.”

In the second complaint, the schoolchildren accused Aquino, Garin, Abad, Ochoa and Sanofi officials of “knowingly and in bad faith compromising the health and safety of the children targeted for vaccination.”

“For the respondents, the P3.5 billion in taxpayer money paid to Sanofi Pasteur appeared to have been weightier than the lives of more than 700,000 children they have sworn to protect,” the complaint said.

It said the respondents caused and continued to cause undue injury to the government for vaccines that “turned out to be harmful or not subjected to complete study.”

Uproar, Senate hearings

On Nov. 29, Sanofi Pasteur issued a global advisory warning of the risks of administering Dengvaxia to “seronegative” persons, or those with no history of dengue, saying a small proportion of them might contract severe symptoms of the disease instead.

Sanofi’s announcement sparked public uproar and congressional investigations of the role of officials of the Aquino administration, which began administering the Dengvaxia shots to thousands of schoolchildren in 2016 just before the elections.

Garin and Aquino separately appeared in Senate hearings, in which both officials defended their decision to immediately launch the program in order not to expose more Filipinos to dengue.

The group of 70 children filed in the Supreme Court the mandamus petition for free medical services through their lawyers.

Free medical services

“These free medical services shall continue until it would have been determined and declared by competent and medical and/or scientific experts that the threat/s brought about by the Dengvaxia vaccine have been minimized or eliminated,” the petitioners said.

Named respondents were Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Local Government Secretary Catalino Cuy, together with Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy (program director of the Department of Health National Center for Disease Prevention and Control) and Nela Charade Puno, director general of the Food and Drug Administration.

Public dissemination

The petitioners wanted the court to order the regular public dissemination of reports of the Department of Health (DOH) task force created to monitor and review the immunization program.

The reports must also be submitted to the Senate and House committees on health, which are conducting inquiries into the controversy.

The respondents should also create a registry of all children and other persons who were inoculated, including those who had not had dengue prior to vaccination, the petitioners said.

They said the DOH should be tasked with conducting further study and review of the safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia, with results to be made public and subject to review by “independent and competent medical experts.” —WITH A REPORT FROM NIKKO DIZON

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25 still missing after Davao City mall fire

 

Aerial shots of the fire that hit NCCC Mall in Davao. Twenty-five people remained missing as of 5 p.m. PHOTO/BONG GO

DAVAO CITY — At least 25 people remained missing following the massive fire that hit a mall here on Saturday morning, authorities said.

The fire, which swept through the upper level of the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall in Ma-a road shortly around 9:30 a.m., was still continuing, Senior Inspector Ma. Teresita Gaspan, the spokesperson of Davao City Police Office said.

Reports indicated the blaze may have started from the mall’s third level shortly after the establishment opened and shoppers were allowed inside.

“The fire started at the third floor particularly at the furniture section going to the fourth floor going to the SSC call center office,” Gaspan told the Inquirer.

Firefighters and personnel from the 911 Emergency Service are now conducting search and rescue operations inside the mall, the city police spokesperson said. /je

 

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2,000 evacuate as Vinta hits town of Zamboanga Sibugay

RELIEF EFFORTS. Evacuees at Poblacion, Kabasalan Gymnasium line up as they receive their relief food packs from the local municipal government. All photos by Bong Santisteban/Rappler 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines – Waist-level flashfloods forced more than 2,000 residents to leave their homes in 13 barangays of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay, Friday evening, December 22.

Caused by heavy rain and wind due to Tropical Storm Vinta, an uprooted tree-trunk hit and damaged a flood-mitigating dam in Barangay Goodyear, according to the Local Disaster Reduction Management Office of Kabasalan. (READ: Death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta rises to 30

 

This caused the sudden rise of flood waters in at least 10 barangays, including the Poblacion, Bangkal, Sanghayan, F.L. Peña, Salipyasin, Cainglet, Sta Cruz, Dipala, Conception, Sininan, Canasan, and T. Dand. 

Based on initial reports, Vinta caused heavy flooding, "wiped out" houses, and displaced thousands of residents across different provinces in Mindanao. (READ: Marawi City, Lanao del Sur under state of calamity due to Vinta)

Heavy flooding

Residents were quick to react and called for immediate rescue.

“Wa jud mi nagdahom nga ing-ato ka paspas ang mutaas ang tubig. Taman hawakan na gud, dali-dali jud mig bakwit,” Rida Semillo told Rappler. (We really did not expect the flood will rise quickly. The flood is above waist-level that’’s why we evacuated immediately.)

The 72-year-old from Barangay Sanghanan also said that they were already advised by local authorities to prepare for possible flooding but she did not expect it to happen too soon.

“Karun ra jud me kasinati ug ing-aning pagbaha, sauna kay kung muulan ug kusog dili raman jud taas ang baha,” she added. (This was our first time to experience this flood. Back then, when it rains hard, the flood is not this high.)

Earlier on Saturday morning, December 23, Cheryl Velasco, a teacher from Kabasalan Special Education (SPED) Center, checked her classroom only to find cabinets containing important school documents destroyed by the flood.

WASHED OUT. Teachers from Kabasalan SPED Center did not expect the flood waters to reach as high as the prepositioned electronic devices. School amplifiers, printers, photocopiers are all washed out.
     

WASHED OUT. Teachers from Kabasalan SPED Center did not expect the flood waters to reach as high as the prepositioned electronic devices. School amplifiers, printers, photocopiers are all washed out. 

Velasco said that days before the expected onslaught of Vinta, she prepositioned the cabinets above what she thought would be beyond the flood's reach.

“Usually, flood only reached up to knee-level only, that’s why we placed the cabinets just above the tables,” Velasco related. “This is the 3rd time this year, and it is the worst,” she added.

Velasco also found out that the school's projector, computers, photocopier machine, and other electronic devices were also washed out.

Relief operations 

Majority of the 2,000 evacuees were housed at Kabasalan Gymnasium in Barangay Poblacion. The local municipal government also started to distribute relief goods in the evacuation center. 

Municipal council member Elma Bragado said they are prepared and ready to assist affected families.

“We are preparing for about 2,000 relief packs to be distributed to the families,” Bragado confirmed.

Each relief pack contains 5 kilograms of rice, cans of sardines, milk, coffee, and noodles. She also said that additional support will be given to families whose houses were totally damaged.

Some evacuees started to return to their homes early Saturday morning.

At around 11 am, two cadavers that could not be identified, both grown up men, were also recovered in Barangay Bangker during the search and rescue conducted by joint operations of LDRRMO-Kabasalan and PDRRMO of Zamboanga Sibugay. A child, estimated be 8 years old, is also still missing. 

As of posting, there is still no electricity in Kabasalan and nearby towns Ipil and Titay. – Rappler.com

 
 
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Duterte to turn over 600 temporary shelters on December 27

NHA photo

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to turn over 600 temporary shelters in barangay Sagonsongan next Wednesday, December 27.
"The first 600 families will receive the temporary shelters and after which, another batch will transfer," National Housing Authority general manager Marcelino Escalada Jr said.

Barangay Sagonsongan is in the boundaries of Marawi City and the municipality of Saguiaran where most internally displaced persons (IDPs) are housed in a temporary shelter.

The Task Force (TF) Bangon Marawi is preparing all the necessary provisions from light to water.

"The President wants every temporary shelter equipped with light and water for the families to live comfortably even if it is just a temporary shelter," Escalada added.

The TF Bangon Marawi is composed of national government agencies which take care of the needs of the IDPs from economic to psycho-social intervention. The beneficiaries of the first batch will be identified by the Social Services department.

Duterte earlier ordered the NHA to fast-track the construction of temporary shelters but ensure the houses are liveable and residents will be comfortable.

"We have 6 sites in Sagonsongan, one site is developed by the city government of Marawi, one is donated by the South Koreans – the NHA takes care of the other sites as we supervise the construction of other housing units," Escalada said.

The temporary housing units are equipped with toilets and kitchens, and are divided by concrete pavements. – Editha Z. Caduaya/Rappler

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Missing teen ran away or was kidnapped – police

STILL MISSING. According to police, reports have surfaced saying she has been spotted. Photo courtesy of the Policarpio family 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – After more than 24 hours of searching and a talk with the family of missing 17-year-old Ica Policarpio, policemen are looking at the possibility that she might have just run away after being scolded by her parents.

"Kagabi nando'n kami sa bahay nila na-confirm namin itong bata pinagalitan ng parents bago nangyari...Mukhang naglayas ang bata na ito kaya lang hindi pa rin umuuwi," Muntinlupa Police chief Senior Superintendent Dante Novicio told Rappler in a phone interview on Saturday, December 23. 

 

(We were at their place last night, and we confirmed that she had been scolded by her parents before this happened...It seems like the kid ran away, but just hasn't come home.)

Novicio, however, said they are not completely ruling out kidnapping in their investigation. Criminals also abduct people out of anger or political reasons, he said. 

Initially, he said, "Hindi ito kidnapping, hindi kidnap-for-ransom, kasi hanggang ngayon, lampas 24 hours na nakalipas, walang humihingi ng demanda."

(This is not kidnapping, not kidnap-for-ransom, because until now, more than 24 hours have passed, there's still no one calling to make demands.)

Ica's father, Rufino Policarpio III, refused to comment on the police update, saying, "It's very speculative."

CCTV footage

Novicio said they had reviewed CCTV footage from the coffee shop and Lakefront Sucat mall where Ica was last sighted.

"Tumawag 'yung father na, 'wag kang aalis diyan. Pagkatapos ng usapan tumayo ang bata," Novicio said. (The father called and told her not to leave. After the call, the kid stood up.)

That was when, police surmised, she left the place after learning her parents would be fetching her, leaving her gadgets at the coffee shop.

Ica was seen asking the coffee shop cashier to break her P1,000 bill, but the cashier did not have change, so she went to a convenience store.

"Hindi siya makapagpalit kaya ang ginawa niya bumili siya ng isang maliit na bote ng tubig, P1,000. Kaya ang obvious, kailangan niya ng barya," Novicio said, citing the CCTV footage they got.

(She wasn't able to get change, so she bought a small bottle of water with her, P1,000. It's obvious that she needed change.)

From there, Novicio said, she walked away. 

Novicio said that Policarpio was reportedly spotted late Friday night in Novaliches. A few hours later at dawn on Saturday, they were informed that she was seen in Lucban, Quezon. They have tapped teams to check out the locations.

'Come home, Ica' 

Ica's sister, Bea Policarpio, posted on Facebook that she wished Ica was safe wherever she was, and assured her the family loves her "more than [she] can imagine."

"Everyone is storming the heavens to find you. Come home and I promise we'll have the best Christmas ever," the older Policarpio said.

She reached out to the public for their support in sharing her post, in the hopes of Ica seeing the post to "find [her] way home."

The family has also begun printing missing posters of the teen, and starting a searching hashtag, #FindIca. Filipino celebrities have also jumped in to help.

 Rappler.com

*If you have information on Ica Policarpio, you may reach her family at 0917-894-6893.

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Death toll from tropical storm Vinta breaches 100

VINTA'S WRATH. Residents wade through a flooded street in Cagayan City on December 22, 2017, after the Cagayan River swelled caused by heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin). Photo by Joseph Deveza/AFP 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) that struck the southern Philippines has breached 100 as massive mudslides wiped out homes, including an entire mountain village, officials said Saturday, December 23.

According to police, the number of casualties have reached 133.

 

Local officials said the number is likely to rise as responders try to reach areas ravaged by the storm in Mindanao, the archipelago nation's second-largest island. 

Up to 50 were reported killed in Zamboanga del Norte, 36 in Lanao del Norte, 18 in Lanao del Sur, and 5 in Bukidnon.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) spokesperson Romina Marasigan confirmed 18 deaths in Sibuco in Zamboanga del Norte. 

Chief Inspector Helen Galvez, spokesperson of Police Regional Office 9 in Zamboanga City, confirmed 19 deaths in Gutalac, 7 in Salug, one in Leon Postigo, and another one in Siocon.

ABS-CBN News, citing local reporters, also reported 2 deaths in Labason and another 2 in Liloy. 

Marasigan also confirmed 5 deaths in Bukidnon.

Vinta ravaged Mindanao on Friday but the bulk of reports only came in Saturday. The death toll was about 30 late Saturday morning but immediately increased to nearly 100 as of 4 p.m. 

MASSIVE FLOODING. Rivers overflow in Zamboanga Peninsula. Photo courtesy of PNP in Zamboanga City
     

MASSIVE FLOODING. Rivers overflow in Zamboanga Peninsula. Photo courtesy of PNP in Zamboanga City 

36 killed in Lanao del Norte

At least 36 were killed in Lanao del Norte in Central Mindanao, including 16 people in the town of Tubod where flash floods wiped out an entire mountain village.

Tubod’s disaster response office chief Vicmar Paloma said 103 houses made of concrete and light materials were totally destroyed. They are still verifying reported deaths of 7 others in the town. 

"Umapaw 'yung Cabuyao river. With the flood ay malalaking bato and uprooted trees. 'Yung mga communities na malapit sa river na-wipe out lahat 'yung 103 houses," Paloma said in a phone interview.

(The rains caused the Cabuyao river to overflow. The flood came with big rocks and uprooted trees. It wiped out a community composed of 103 houses.)

Police, soldiers, and volunteers were digging through the rubble of Dalama, a farming village of about 2,000 people, using shovels in search of more bodies, he added.

Provincial disaster response chief Ramelito Tubongbanua said 18 also died in Salvador and another two in Munai.

18 killed in Lanao del Sur

SUBMERGED. Several houses in Bubong, Lanao del Sur are under floodwaters due to Vinta. Photo provided by ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong
     

SUBMERGED. Several houses in Bubong, Lanao del Sur are under floodwaters due to Vinta. Photo provided by ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong 

In neighboring Lanao del Sur province, at least 18 were killed, including a two-year-old boy. Ten were killed in Piagapo, a town adjacent to Marawi City. Four were killed in Madalum, two in Wato, a boy in Tamparan.

Provincial disaster response chief Saripada Pacasum Jr said they also expect the death toll to increase. Several areas hit by the storm have not been reached by responders. 

Four others are reported missing in the province. 

The provincial government, the military, and the Department of Public Works and Highways have joined efforts to begin clearing the roads in Madalum.

The Philippines is pummelled by 20 major storms each year on average, many of them deadly. But Mindanao, home to 20 million people, is rarely hit by these cyclones.

After slicing across Mindanao on Friday, December 22, Tembin sped west over the Sulu Sea with gusts of 95 kilometers an hour.

It was forecast to smash into the tip of the western island of Palawan late Saturday, the state weather service said.

Tembin struck less than a week after Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-Tak)devastated the central Philippines, leaving 54 dead and 24 missing. –with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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