Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Duterte to turn over 500 houses for Marawi residents

President Rodrigo Duterte will turn over 500 permanent housing units for Marawi City residents today in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City.

Eduardo del Rosario, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said of the 500 housing units, 250 will be occupied by December 31. The remaining half will be occupied by January 7, 2018.

“These houses are equipped with power and water supply. These power and water lines still need to be connected to the main line, so the actual occupancy was somehow delayed [from the initial timeline of having it ready by Christmas day],” del Rosario said in a news conference.

He gave assurances that the construction of the initial 1,100 permanent shelters will be finished by February 2018.

“After January 7, other permanent shelters will be ready for occupancy every two weeks,” del Rosario said.

He added that the city, ravaged by Maute terrorists for five months, will not only be rebuilt but will be built better.

“Most of the buildings in ground zero. . .there is nothing to be rehabilitated anymore. So we will remove all buildings for land development, widening previous two-lane roads by making it four or six lanes,” del Rosario said.

“There will also be a grand central market, a central drainage system and a sewage treatment facility so that clean water will flow into Lanao lake. We see these being done not later than may [2018],” he added.


Ica’s disappearance not a prank, says family

Ica Policarpio
FILE PHOTO: Ica Policarpio (Manila Bulletin)


The disappearance of Ica Policarpio last week in Muntinlupa City was not triggered by a sick viral trend on Facebook called the “48-Hour Challenge” but was caused by ‘deep emotional distress,’ her family announced Tuesday night.

In an official statement of the Policarpio family posted by Ica’s sister, Bea, on her Facebook account, she said that the 17-year-old girl did not deserve the “blind judgement and hate” she has been receiving online for the past days after she was found.

Ica is the niece of Jimmy Policarpio who served as the chief of Presidential Legislative Liaison Office under the administration of Joseph Estrada who is now the mayor of Manila.

The young lass went missing on the night of December 21 in a cafe in Sucat, Muntinlupa and was found on December 24 in San Pablo, Laguna.

“Thank you to everyone who has respected our request for privacy for the past 48 hours. This was only so our family could have a little time to recover from sleepless nights, as well as have some semblance of a normal Christmas. These were our first attempts at healing, though we are a long way from this,” Bea wrote in her post.

“Firstly, I would like to clarify that I have learned firsthand from my sister Ica that she had no knowledge whatsoever of any ’48-hour challenge’ (supposedly trending) in other parts of the world. She DID NOT join any such challenge. Her disappearance was not a prank,” she clarified.

The 48-Hour Challenge

Various online challenges entailing tasteless tasks or, worse, sick dares mostly geared for the younger generation have been trending worldwide.

According to various online articles, a participant of the 48-Hour Challenge fakes his or her disappearance, leaving their family and friends in a panic, and earns “points” for any mention of their names, number of shares, likes and comments they get on Facebook.

After 48 hours, the participant then reappears. It was not clear what the reward would be for participating in the said viral challenge.

After Ica was found, netizens in the Philippines shared a Yahoo! article that was published in October regarding the “48-Hour Challenge.”

The article said the challenge was a spin-off the “Game of 72,” which went viral in 2015 and had kids feigning their disappearance for 72 hours.

“In a new twist on the so-called ‘game,’ participants get a higher score for each time they are mentioned on social media. That means that the ‘missing’ children are rewarded when worried parents ask Facebook friends for help to find them.”

Yet the reward was never defined or mentioned.

Many Filipino netizens expressed their dismay and hoped that Ica Policarpio did not participate in the said challenge since there were so many missing persons who are also worthy of receiving a certain amount of attention.

“When I said I felt something was off with the Ica Policarpio story, I meant it. And when I said that, when I looked at her pictures during the course of the past 2 days she was reported missing with her aura dark and blurry, I was serious. I do hope that for her sake, she didn’t just deliberately prank the public-at-large who got so worried and concerned for her safety, and actually helped locate her successfully. If her reason for disappearing for 48 hrs is THIS, then it’s not funny. Not funny at all,” one Facebook user wrote.

Bea defended her sister from internet bashers, saying Ica “does not deserve our blind judgement and hate.”

“My sister Ica disappeared from home last Thursday night, December 21, out of deep emotional distress. The reasons for her distress are numerous and honestly, private. She is still being evaluated medically, and it is our family’s sole responsibility to understand what has caused her to carry so much pain not just in the recent past, but apparently, for several months, and even years prior.

“If there’s any “reward” that the incident has brought into light, Bea said it was “to raise awareness about the stigma of mental health and the growing culture of hate which unfortunately exists in our country’s cyberspace, and collective mind space,” Bea said.

“If anything, this hate culture is a desperate call for help. Let us answer this call with nothing but love, as difficult as this may be,” she added.

To date, the Policarpio family still has not divulge to the public the exact reason why Ica disappeared on the night of December 21. However, they assured that Ica “receives the medical attention and emotional support that she needs.”

Bea also reiterated their family’s gratitude to the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the residents and barangay officials in San Pablo, Laguna who first saw Ica, and the netizens who helped in finding her.

“Lastly, to anyone out there who feels that they are lost, please, reach out. I promise that we will #FindYou,” Bea concluded. (Additional reporting by Dhel Nazario)


Mall worker brings to 38 the fatalities of Davao mall fire

DAVAO CITY – The city government has updated its list of fatalities in the NCCC Mall fire after 38 bodies were found – up from 37 as earlier reported.

In an advisory at 5 a.m., Wednesday, the City Information Office said the number went up when the remains of NCCC worker Melvin Gaa was recovered late Tuesday.

The rest of the fatalities were workers of data provider Survey Systems International or SSI.

“Gaa was included on the list after his body was recovered. As of 9:20 p.m., he was among the list of victims already identified and processed by authorities,” said city information chief Jefry Tupas through FB chat.

Out of the 38 fire victims, only two bodies had not been properly identified.

Forensic experts said they had to make sure which body belonged to Mikko Demafeliz or Alexandra Moreno.

But they said they might have to rely on DNA test results if they could not find other secondary identifiers such as pieces of jewelry.

A DNA result could be obtained after 30 days yet as samples had to be sent to Manila for matching.

The processed and identified victims were Gaa, Jeffrey Sismar, Mary Louielyn Bongcayao, Kurtchin Angela Bangoy, Joy Pabelonia, Christen Garzon and Jim Benedict Quimsing.

The other identified victims were: Jonas Basalan, Jessica Samontina, Venus Joy Quimpo, Jimboy Limosnero, Christine Joy Ferraren, Rosyl Montanez, Missy Rose Artiaga, Rhenzi Nova Muyco, Ivan Nebelle Roble, Elyn Joy Yorsua, Shiela Mae Bacaling, Roderick Antipuesto, Nancy Loy Abad, Jessica Solis, Charlyn Liwaya, Regine Generales, Gantioco Celestial, Apple Jane Celades, Ian Kiem Adlawan, Lister Jade Entera, and Analiza Piñajiro.

Christine Alviola, Roderick Constantinopla, Dresiree Gayle Zacarias, Johani Matundo, Iana Apalacio, Maryjoy Daloro, Randy Balcao and Janine Joy Obo. /cbb



VETO MESSAGE ON TRAIN | Duterte explains why 5 items in tax reform law were scuttled

President Rodrigo Duterte addresses a forum in this November 2017 file photo. MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU
MANILA, Philippines – While hailing its passage as “a major breakthrough in the legislative history,” President Rodrigo Duterte rejected several items in the newly-signed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.

In his veto message, a copy of which was sent to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the President said the TRAIN will not only ease the burden of the individual income tax payers by lowering the rates, it will also provide for additional resources “that we will use to fund the social and economic infrastructure that will benefit the poor.”

However, he identified five items that he said were the subject of his veto power as chief executive. These are:

• Earmarking of incremental tobacco taxes.

Veto in lines 20 to 29 of Section 82, which said that “The incremental revenues from the Tobacco taxes under this act shall be subject to Section 3 of Republic Act No. 1717 (An Act to Promote the Development of the Farmer in the Virginia Tobacco Producing Provinces) and Section 8 of the National Internal Revenue Code.

According to Duterte, the provision “effectively amends Republic Act 10351 or the Sin Tax Law, which provides for guaranteed funds for universal health care.”

“The provision will effectively diminish the share of the health sector in the proposed allocation,” the veto message said.

• Exemption of various petroleum products from excise tax when used as input, feedstock, or as raw material in the manufacturing of petrochemical products, or in the refining of petroleum products, or as replacement fuel for natural gas fired combined cycle power plants.

Veto in line 25 of Section 43 of the law.

“The provision runs the risk of being too general covering all types of petroleum products, which may be subject to abuse by taxpayers, and thus lead to massive revenue erosion. At any rate, the tax code already identifies which petroleum products can be exempted,” the President said.

• Exemption from percentage tax of gross sales/receipts not exceeding P500,000.

Veto in line 2 of Section 38 of the law, which said that “Beginning January 1, 2019, self-employed and professionals with total annual gross sales and/or gross receipts not exceeding P500,000.”

Duterte said that proposed exemption from percentage tax will result in “unnecessary erosion of revenues and would lead to abuse and leakages.”

“The subject taxpayers under this provision are already exempted from VAT (value added tax), thus, the lower three percent percentage tax on gross sales or gross receipts is considered as their fair share in contributing to the revenue base of the country.

• Zero-rating of sales of goods and services to separate customs territory and tourism enterprise zones.
Veto in Sections 31 and 33 of the law.

The President said the provisions go against the principle of limiting the VAT zero-rating to direct exporters. The proliferation of separate customs territories, which include buildings, creates significant leakages in the tax system, making it “highly inequitable and significantly reduces the revenues that could be better used for the poor.”

• Reduced income tax rate of employees of Regional Headquarters, Regional Operating Headquarters, Offshore Banking Units and Petroleum Service Contractors and Subcontractors.

Veto in Section 6 of the law that effectively maintains the special tax rate of 15 percent of gross income for the said employees.

“The provision is violative of the Equal Protection Clause under Section 1, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, as well as the rule of equity and uniformity in the application of the burden of taxation,” Duterte said.

“Given the significant reduction in the personal income tax, the employees of these firms should follow the regular tax rates applicable to other individual taxpayers,” he added.

The TRAIN bill is the first tax reform package approved under the Duterte administration. It reduces the rate of individual income taxpayers, but at the same time, increases the excise tax on fuel products, sweetened beverages and brand-new vehicles.


Clashes erupt in Davao Oriental despite holiday ceasefire

COMMUNIST INSURGENCY. File photo of NPA guerillas inside their camp in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur. Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Clashes between the military and communist rebels disturbed Christmas day celebrations in two towns in Davao Oriental despite the holiday ceasefire.

The Philippine Army 10th Infantry Division (ID) accused the communist New People's Army (NPA) of harassing two separate military patrol bases which triggered the Christmas Day firefights. One rebel group supposedly tried to capture the government troops.

The 10th ID commander, Major General Noel Clement, slammed the rebels for violating ceasefire declarations. The Communist Party of the Philippines declared a Christmas ceasefire from December 23 to December 26.

“It was absolutely a clear violation of ceasefire made by the terrorist NPA to disrupt our efforts in making sure Christmas will be celebrated peacefully. Their celebration is usually accompanied by armed attacks against the people that reflect their true color as a criminal organization void of any ideology," Clement said.

The military said the communist rebels on Monday, December 25, first harassed troops of the 72nd Infantry Battalion under Staff Sergeant Bienvenido Paquita Jr at around 9:30 a.m. at Sitio Madian in the town's barangay Tubaon. About 30 fully armed rebels supposedly chased and attempted to capture the soldiers.

Later in the evening, at around 7:30 p.m., another group of communist rebels reportedly harassed troops at barangay Melale in nearby town Laak. The military said the troops faced members of Guerilla Front 34.

"Upon sensing that the detachment was being harassed, the troops immediately established defensive position and returned fire. The firefight lasted for about two minutes and the enemy withdrew towards Northwest direction," the military said.

There were no casualties on the side of the military. –


PNP directs men to beef up security amid possible NPA attacks

Police units nationwide have been ordered to beef up law enforcement, security and safety activities amid possible attacks by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and other threat groups during the holiday season.

The order was contained in a memorandum issued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on December 26.

“All PNP units are again reminded and directed to sustain and beef up law enforcement, security and safety activities. Expect possible ambushes and attacks to be launched by the NPA/threat groups,” it said.

The PNP personnel are instructed to launch preventive and prophylactic combat patrols in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in addition to target hardening of all camps and vital installations.

"Offense is always better than defense,” the memorandum stated.

Secure terminals

It said the PNP personnel should ensure safety of all transport terminals especially airports, seaports, and bus terminals to prevent any terrorist/ threat group atrocities. The police should also establish liaison desks in the terminals with increased police visibility and educate the public on signs of terrorism by distribution of materials and reporting of any unattended baggage.

It said a border control check/choke points should be established and see to it that the riding public is safe and secured from any threat. Road and bus marshals and assistance desks should also be installed.

“Emphasize alertness especially during administrative transport of personnel and others,” the memorandum said.

It said deployment of troops should be evaluated and PNP personnel should coordinate with the AFP for reinforcements and actions to be taken in case of attacks, harassments, and ambush.

Contingency plans

Police units are ordered to have contingency plans to ensure that potential response systems are put in place in order to prevent, or better respond to, an emergency or critical situation such as active shooting, road side bombing, terrorism, bomb threat and even motorcycle riding suspects.

The memorandum stated that simulation exercises should be conducted immediately to ensure that all PNP members will know what to do in case of any violent enemy activities and to know their strength and weaknesses.

“All reports of activities shall be consolidated for the preparation of regional and area SIMEX in your area of responsibility in coordination with all stakeholders taking into consideration all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Ensure further that all available resources are within reach in any eventuality,” it said.

It further said that PNP personnel should identify priority areas and go on tactical and legal offensive stance by conducting all-out operations in coordination and cooperation with the AFP with the use of modern technology like the drone and e-SMS.

“For this matter, you are directed to closely coordinate with all AFP units in your area of responsibility immediately,” it said.

A crisis management team and critical incident management teams should also be developed.

NPA attacks

The memorandum was issued a day after NPA members allegedly attacked two military patrol bases in Compostela Valley.

A report from Capt. Jerry Lamosao of 10th Infantry Division said on December 25, 2017, 9:30 a.m., CAFGU active auxilliary Arbilito Catampao, assigned at Tuboan Patrol Base, 5th DOR, CAAC, BCoy, 72IB, 10ID was chased and attempted to be captured by around 30 fully armed communist members under alias Jekol and alias Ramie at Sitio Madian. Catampao managed to run away and escaped.

On December 25, 2017, 7:30 p.m., Melale Patrol Base of 1st Platoon, 4th CVP CAAC under 72nd Infantry Batallion located at Brgy Melale, Laak, Compostela Valley was allegedly harassed by undetermined numbers of NPAs.

The communist rebels allegedly positioned themselves more or less 250 meters northwest from the said patrol base. Upon sensing that the detachment was being harassed, the troops immediately established defensive position and returned fire.

The firefight lasted for about two minutes and the enemy withdrew towards northwest direction.

None from the government side were hurt in the attacks.

The attack did not prosper since 10ID is on full alert and vigilant for possible CPP-NPA attacks on our people and vulnerable communities.

Major General Noel Clement, 10th ID commander, said the attack “was absolutely a clear violation of ceasefire made by the terrorist NPA to disrupt our efforts in making sure Christmas will be celebrated peacefully.”

“10ID will abide by the government's SOMO and will maintain active defense posture in our AOR to thwart any atrocity, deception and sabotage that the CPP-NPA is planning to stage,” he added.

The government's declared holiday ceasefire from 6 p.m. of December 23 to 11:59 p.m. of December 26 to 6 p.m. of December 30 to 11:59 p.m. of Jan. 2, 2018.

The CPP has also declared a holiday ceasefire, from 6 p.m. of December 23 to 6 p.m. of December 26 and from 6 p.m. December 30 to 6 p.m. of Jan. 2, 2018. —KBK, GMA News

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