Items filtered by date: Sunday, 30 April 2017

UN hopes Trump will preach human rights to Duterte

US President Donald Trump must convey to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte the deep sense of alarm about his apparent shirking of his duty to prosecute human rights violations, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Monday.
"So one hopes the message will be very clear and undiluted from the President of United States to the President of the Philippines," Zeid told a news briefing.
This, after White House defended Trump's decision to invite Duterte to Washington, saying his cooperation was needed to counter North Korea, even as the administration faced human rights criticism for its overture to Manila.

Trump invited Duterte to Washington Sunday, in what the White House said was a “very friendly” phone conversation with Duterte, who is accused by international human rights groups of supporting a campaign of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.
“There is nothing right now facing this country and facing the region that is a bigger threat than what’s happening in North Korea,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told ABC’s “This Week” during a weekend in which Trump sought to firm up support in Southeast Asia to help rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
Priebus insisted the outreach to Duterte “doesn't mean that human rights don't matter, but what it does mean is that the issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure we have our ducks in a row.”
The invitation for Duterte to visit the White House at an unspecified date appeared to be the latest example of the affinity Trump has shown for some foreign leaders with shaky human rights or autocratic reputations.
For instance, he expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign, hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House and has had warm words for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who Trump is pressing to do more to rein in its ally and neighbor North Korea.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay)


Bb. Pilipinas Universe was held last night (April 30) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and one queen emerged at the Miss Universe Philippines 2017.

This year's crown went to Fil-Brit beauty queen Rachel Peters. Aside from winning the much-coveted Miss Universe Philippines title, she was also announced as Miss Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit.

In an interview with the press after her win, she took time to show her gratitude towards her supporters.

"Thank you guys so much for all your love and support. Everything that I am now is because of you. I love you, guys, thank you," said Rachel.

Aside from her beauty and body, Rachel also wowed the judges with her answer at the Q&A portion of the pageant. She was asked, "If you were invited to speak [in the ASEAN Summit,] what would have been your message to the leaders?"

"I believe that one of our biggest problems that our country faces today is divisiveness—in politics, in religion, and also in culture. And I believe that is something that is the same across the world. That is something that I want to address. I believe that when people could learn to tolerate each other’s differences and respect each other’s opinions then we will be a stronger nation and world," she answered.




Ampatuan brothers charged over allegedly anomalous infra projects

MANILA, Philippines – Brothers Sajid Islam Ampatuan and Andal Ampatuan Jr., the primary suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, are facing another criminal case, this time, over the allegedly anomalous multimillion-peso infrastructure projects in Maguindanao province, during Sajid's term as governor.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan was a 483-page separate case information sheet involving charges of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, falsification of public documents under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the RPC.

Sajid was the primary accused in all the 161 cases. The ombudsman set his bail at P4 million.

Andal Jr., meanwhile, was named as Sajid's co-accused in eight counts of graft. The ombudsman set his bail at P240,000.

Andal Jr. is in detention for multiple murder charges over the Maguindanao Massacre, thus, posting bail now, seems futile.

Ghost projects, fuel supply

The first set of cases stemmed from the alleged falsification of several accomplishment reports to make it appear that eight infrastructure projects worth P23.363 million were accomplished in accordance with the approved plans and specifications “when in truth and in fact, there was no implementation of said project(s).”

The purported projects included repairs of various farm-to-market roads and common roads in the municipalities of Shariff Aguak, Rajah Buayan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Piang as well as the repair of the municipal hall in Shariff Aguak.

In connection with the supposed implementation of the repair work, the ombudsman said a total of P22.367 million in supply contracts for fuel and lubricants were awarded by the provincial government to a Shariff Aguak Petron Station owned by Andal Jr., allegedly without holding the required public bidding.

The ombudsman said that aside from the lack of bidding, the transactions were also covered by undated purchase orders and unnumbered disbursement vouchers.

Fake suppliers

Meanwhile, the second set of cases stemmed from the alleged anomalous disbursements of P72.256-million provincial funds for the supposed payments of construction and lumber materials purchased from four suppliers.

Sajid and the other respondents allegedly declared that the materials were purchased for the repair of various school buildings in the province.

The ombudsman, however, said that “no such purchases were made” and the purported suppliers were “fictitious and/or non-existent”. The ombudsman said the respondents instead “misappropriated the funds into themselves”.

The ombudsman said Sajid and the other then provincial officials conspired in falsifying 137 disbursement vouchers and other supporting documents to make it appear that the materials were purchased and delivered to the provincial government.

Named as Sajid's co-accused in all the 161 cases was former officer-in-charge provincial engineer Landap Guinaid.

The ombudsman, however, has yet to clarify, why Guinaid was still charge despite his death in July 2016 in an ambush at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak.

Meanwhile, former provincial administrator Norie Unas was named as Sajid's co-accused in 145 of the cases.

Unas was the star witness in the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the 2007 presidential elections. Arroyo is now representative for the 2nd District of Pampanga.

Other former provincial officials named as Sajid's co-accused in some of the cases were:

accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr.
treasurer Osmena Bandila
Bids and Awards Committee chairman Kasan Macapendeg
BAC member and provincial engineer Ali K. Abpi Al Haj
project engineers Yahiya Kandong
Pendi Abpet
Omar Camsa
Anthony Kasan
Akmad Salim
Jaypee Piang

'Mere allegations'

The anomalies were allegedly committed from February to September 2009, or a few months before the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

The massacre was allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan led by its patriarch, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr.

Ampatuan Sr. died in July 2015 while under hospital arrest due to liver cancer.

Sajid was granted bail by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in March 2015 due to supposed insufficiency of evidence of the prosecution.

Andal Jr. and his bothers Zaldy and Anwar remain detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

In a text message to reporters, Ampatuans' lawyer Gregorio Marquez said they have yet to read the voluminous charge sheets but maintained that “all those contracts or procurements passed through the regular process of procurement, bidding and audit”.

“The complaints are mere allegations and proving the same would be otherwise and must be proved beyond reasonable doubt,” Marquez said.


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Workers seek salary increase, end of 'endo' in Labor Day protests

MANILA - Thousands of Filipino workers on Monday marched to the streets as they marked Labor Day with protests in different parts of the country.
Labor groups in the metro gathered early morning in Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City, while some marched to España, Mendiola and Quiapo in Manila.

The groups are calling on the government to end contractualization and implement a P750 national minimum wage.
Urban poor group Kadamay whose members are among those who occupied unused government housing in Pandi, Bulacan also joined the protests.
Kadamay members brought an effigy of a vulture to symbolize foreign interventions in the Philippines.
orkers from the business process outsourcing also joined Labor Day protests in Makati.
Michael dela Concepcion of the BPO Employees Industry Network said they are calling on the government to help them in their problems with their employers.
The group said a lot of BPO companies are cutting costs, affecting employees' benefits.
Project-based and seasonal employment are also rampant in the BPO industry, said Dela Concepcion.

Meanwhile, the Associated Labor Union and Kilusang Mayo Uno in Cagayan de Oro also mounted their protest in Plaza Divisoria.
Labor groups have called on the government to implement a P168 increase in minimum national wage for Region 10.


De Lima hopes to join Senate discussions

Even while in detention, Senator Leila de Lima wants to actively participate in the deliberations on important measures and attend other official functions in the Senate even through remote or electronic means.
De Lima made the call a day before Congress resumes sessions on Tuesday after the Lenten recess.
“For more than two months since I was illegally jailed on sham charges, I have refused to allow political persecution and harassment I suffer under the hands of the present administration to prevent me from fulfilling my electoral mandate,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“I have work to do as a senator and I will continue to do so because I owe it to the more than 14 million Filipino people who voted me in office and represent them in the Senate. I hope I can participate in important debates in the Senate,” said the senator.
De Lima, who has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City over drug charges, said her legal team was studying legal options for her to be allowed to attend the Senate sessions.
She said she hoped to join her colleagues in deliberating on important measures, such as the proposed revival of the death penalty, lowering the criminal age responsibility, and the postponement of barangay elections, among others.
Even after her arrest and detention in February this year, the senator continued to file bills and resolutions. She also remains the chair of the Senate electoral reforms and people’s participation committee.
“I have authored and sponsored important measures I promised the Filipino electorate to shepherd in the Senate. I have an electoral mandate to fulfill and it is my right to attend and participate in the proceedings in the Senate,” De Lima said.
“Apart from my rights as a duly-elected senator, I have to invoke my rights as a political prisoner as provided and protected under Philippine laws and jurisprudence as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights,” she said.
She is facing charges for criminal offenses.
The former Justice Secretary cited some cases when detained senators here and abroad were permitted to attend to their legislative duties, including participation in Senate proceedings, pending the resolution of the charges levelled against them.

In the 1950s, she said, former Sen. Justiniano Montano was charged with the non-bailable offense of multiple murders but was allowed to post bail to perform his senatorial duties.
De Lima also pointed out that in 2008, the Senate under the leadership of then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel allowed then detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to participate in Senate proceedings through teleconferencing. CBB/rga

By: Maila Ager - Reporter /

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