Items filtered by date: Monday, 22 May 2017

Fans beg Justin Bieber to cancel dates as fear grips pop's youth

LOS ANGELES - Fans of Justin Bieber pleaded on Tuesday for his upcoming British tour dates to be canceled, underscoring the potential repercussions to music acts with a young fan base from the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Canadian heartthrob Bieber, 23, is due to play an open air concert at London's Hyde Park in July. But fans flooded social media saying his appearance should be axed for the safety both of fans and the singer himself.

"Cancel Justin's concert in the UK, please! We want him to be safe, please," a person using the handle marhrukhh wrote on the Instagram account of Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun.

Braun also manages Grande, also 23, a former Nickelodeon star whose huge female fan base, many of them tweens, were out in force for her concert in Manchester on Monday night when a suicide bombing killed 22 people and injured dozens.

The "Problem" singer flew to Florida on Tuesday to spend time with her family, People magazine reported. Braun and her record company did not return calls on whether the remainder of her world tour, with stops in London and Europe, would go ahead.

Leanne Murray, 20, who lives in Ireland, has tickets to see Bieber play in Dublin next month. But she said that after Monday's bombing she is contemplating selling them.

"I just don't want what I would hope to be a great night to end in something like last night," Murray, who paid 180 Euros ($200) each for two tickets told Reuters.

"It's frightening to think that it could have been any of us and it really shows that you never know what's around the corner," Murray added.

Touring has been one of the top sources of income for musicians in recent years. The top 10 worldwide tour acts grossed a combined $1.67 billion in 2016, according to music industry publication Pollstar, with Bruce Springsteen bringing in $268.3 million alone.

Pop acts like Taylor Swift, Bieber, One Direction and Grande are also among the top earners. Grande grossed more than $25 million from touring between April 2016-April 2017, according to Pollstar figures, while Bieber grossed $163 million in 2016.

"I can see with parents of young children who might be on the fence anyway about letting their 12-year-old go to concerts, that this going to put them over the edge, and they may say 'you can wait until you're older'," said Ed McPherson, an entertainment litigator and crisis manager in Los Angeles.

"It could impact some of the artists who play to younger people," McPherson added.

Joe Reinartz, news editor at Pollstar, said that although he believes security is already strong at music venues and will no doubt be stepped up, parents would likely be more cautious.

"In the short term, there are going to be concerns for any large gathering where there will be young people, and that doesn't necessarily mean a Justin Bieber show. It means a high school football game, or an event at a fair ground," Reinartz said.

Jim Donio, president of the Music Business Association, said he would be surprised to see musicians cancelling tours because of the attack at the Grande concert.

But he said fans will be more aware and prepared. "Will parents make more informed decisions? Yes, that's possible, so there can be some impact there."  Reuters

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Deadliest terror attack in UK since ’05 solidifies Manchester residents

LONDON – A sombre mood pervades the United Kingdom, if not the world at large.

Still reeling from the chaotic turmoil of a yet-to-be-clarified Brexit, Britain has now been devastated by the taking of innocent lives after a terror attack in Manchester.

At 10:33 p.m. on May 22, immediately following’s performance at the Manchester Arena, a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device in the stadium foyer.

Confirmed dead at the arena were 22 people – including children –with over 59 people, half of whom are children, injured by the blast.

This is the deadliest terror attack to hit Britain since the London bombings in July 2005, in which 52 people were killed.

It has also been four years to the day since British Army soldier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists in South London.


Devastating events

The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility on Tuesday afternoon, citing the act as revenge for attacks on “Muslim lands.”

The bomber’s identity has been revealed as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who was born in Manchester in 1994 after his Libyan parents sought refuge during the Gaddafi regime.

Greater Manchester police have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the bombing.

At least 13 people are still missing, including an eight-year-old girl.

In the wake of the attack, the General Election campaign has been suspended.

Manchester spirit

In its darkest hour, Manchester has seen an astonishing outpouring of help, from locals, companies and hotels throwing their doors open, to taxi drivers working through the night, to locals queuing to give blood.

Steve, a homeless man who witnessed the attack and helped survivors until ambulances arrived, gravely described having to pull nails out of the arms of people, as well as “a couple out of [a] little girl’s face.”

AJ Singh, a taxi driver in Manchester who offered free rides to survivors, said, “Some had blood all over them. One person described it as a warzone.”

“[But] we should come out and show whoever’s done this that it doesn’t matter because Manchester, we’re glue, and we stick together when it counts.”

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, paid tribute to the police and emergency services who worked “valiantly” to save lives on the night of the “horrific” and “criminal” attack, adding: “May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said, “The idea that people just throw their doors open or make their car available to people, it tells you everything about the people of Greater Manchester. It is the best response because it is what the extremists don’t want.”

Social media networks Twitter and Facebook have been invaluable in helping the frantic relatives of missing persons further their search for their loved ones, with netizens expressing solidarity and grief for the victims.

Nearly £500,000 of donations have been raised overnight for the families and loved ones of those affected in the tragic attack on Justgiving.com, organized by the Manchester Evening News.

Processing the senseless evil

That the attacker chose to target a venue filled with children, teenagers and families having fun has been deemed cowardly, repugnant and vile.

Prime Minister May said, “This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”

“We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage.”

Gershon Silins, rabbi for the Manchester Liberal Jewish Community, said:

“It doesn’t make sense to many of us that such an atrocity could be carried out at a concert attended by children and young teenagers. A place usually filled with joy and excitement. And as we wake up today to the news that dozens upon dozens of young lives have been prematurely lost and many more changed significantly, the horror of the situation is incomprehensible.”

Silins added, “For so many families, today is just the beginning of mourning for lives lost, or a new reality of family members irrevocably damaged.”

Mayor Andy Burnham said, “We all feel a sense of abhorrence at the nature of this attack… For individuals to go there and seek to terrorise those children and those young people and their families in that way is the most appalling evil act that I can imagine.”

Finding strength in unity

Manchester and the UK are moving forward with their heads held high.

Prime Minister May said in her statement, “While we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best.”

“The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and people of Manchester. The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together. And in the days ahead those must be the things we remember.”

The Queen further expressed her support in a statement followed by a minute’s silence in memory of the victims and said: “I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured.”

Mayor Burnham says the city is ready to return to “business as usual” and will hold a vigil for the victims on 23 May in Albert Square.

He said, “Though we are grieving, we are strong and we are together.”

“The most important message we must all send together is that we are united and we will not let them win.”By:  -inquirerdotnet

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Duterte says his martial law to be similar to Marcos time

MOSCOW, Russia – The martial law in Mindanao which President Rodrigo Duterte just declared will be no different from martial law during the time of Ferdinand Marcos, the President himself said before flying back to the Philippines.

"Martial law is martial law ha. It will not be any different from what the President, Marcos did. I'd be harsh," said Duterte early morning Wednesday, May 24, according to the Facebook Live video of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

He was speaking on board the presidential plane right before it took off for Manila.

"I was asked how I would deal with terrorism. I said I'd be harsh. I told everyone, 'do not force my hand into it,'" he added.

He did not elaborate on this in the short video but did mention the likely timeframe of his martial law declaration.

"How long? Well, if it would take a year to do it then we'll do it. If it's over in a month I'd be happy," he said. 

The Constitution says it should not initially exceed 60 days; any extension has to be approved by Congress.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella himself earlier said it would last 60 days. (READ: Martial law 101)

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution says that the President, as commander-in-chief, may “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it” suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the country under martial law. The writ safeguards individual freedom against arbitrary state action.

Constitutional limits

Crafted after the EDSA People Power revolution that ousted Marcos in 1986, the 1987 Constitution highlights the role of other branches of government in the martial law declaration. The provisions are meant precisely to prevent grave abuse and stop another Marcos from tinkering with civil rights.

Thus within 48 hours after its declaration, the President shall submit a report “in person or in writing” to Congress. The declaration can also be revoked by via a vote by Congress, now controlled by Duterte allies.

The Supreme Court may review the basis of its declaration.

Dark period

Duterte is the 3rd Philippine president to declare martial law since 1972, when Marcos declared one – a dark chapter in Philippine history that was marked by abuse, violence and corruption.

On December 5, 2009, then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared martial law in Maguindanao, also in the southern Philippines, through Proclamation 1959, following the massacre of 58 people – mostly members of the media – in the town of Ampatuan.

But it was short. Arroyo lifted it 7 days later on December 12, 2009 upon the recommendation of the Cabinet. 

Duterte declared martial law Tuesday night after the Maute terrorist group seized the Islamic city of Marawi.

But he's been warning about it. On May 19, he said in a speech, "If I declare martial law in Mindanao, I will solve all the ills of Mindanao."

The military has been running a two-front anti terror campaign in Mindanao – the one against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) based in Western Mindanao in the islands of Sulu and Basilan, and another against the Maute and its Abu Sayyaf allies in the Lanao provinces in Northern Mindanao.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday that the military operation in Marawi targeted ASG leader Isinilon Hapilon, who was believed to have been spotted in the area.

In an earlier press conference in Moscow, Lorenzana said that all the usual trappings of martial law would come with Duterte's recent declaration.

"All that should be done under martial law, we will implement – control of movement, searches and arrest of detained people, suspension of writ of habeas corpus," he said.

The President departed from Moscow at around 1:30 am Moscow time. He is scheduled to arrive in Manila at 4:30 pm, Manila time.

As of writing, Malacañang has not yet issued the document bearing Duterte's martial law declaration. – Rappler.com

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Senate OKs work-from-home bill on final reading

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a measure to allow companies to offer a telecommuting program to its employees in efforts to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila and other urban cities.

With 22 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and zero abstention, Senate Bill No. 1363 or the Telecommuting Act of 2017 was passed on Monday, May 22. Senators Joel Villanueva and Cynthia Villar are authors of the measure. 

Telecommuting is defined by the bill as the partial or total substitution of computers or telecommunication technologies or both for the commute to work by employees.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and sponsor of SBN 1363, said the measure is also meant to ensure that home-based workers would have equal pay, leave benefits, and promotion as their counterparts in the office.

It also seeks to lessen the feelings of isolation of home-based workers from their office mates.

The neophyte senator pointed out that while telecommuting had started in the 1980s, especially in the fields of communication and architecture, only a few companies in the Philippines had adopted telecommuting.

He said his committee had looked into the “best practices” in telecommuting to ensure that more employers would adopt the program in their workplace.

Moreover, the proposed law would not be mandatory and instead give the employers the discretion on whether to offer telecommuting to their workers or not.

He, however, clarified that the bill would guarantee that any telecommuting program should not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law. He said that under the bill, employers would ensure that its home-based workers be given the same treatment as their peers in the office. 

Meanwhile, the Senate also passed on third and final reading a bill meant to bring 92 new areas, including six internationally-recognized natural sites, under the protection and management of the country’s landmark National Integrated and Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.

Also with 22 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and zero abstention, Senate Bill No. 1444, or the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2017 was passed. The measure was authored by senators Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Nancy Binay, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Joel Villanueva,

According to Villar, sponsor of SBN 1444 and chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, the bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7586 or the NIPAS Act of 1992, in order “to include more areas and to ensure greater protection for all protected areas.”

She pointed out that the NIPAS Act, first enacted in 1992, provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the country.

The senator noted that among the 92 new protected areas, six sites were internationally recognized and classified as ASEAN Heritage Sites: Mount Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok and Mount Iglit-Baco; Malaysia-Philippines Heritage Parks, Turtles Islands Heritage Protected Area; and Ramsar Sites Agusan Marsh, Olango Island and the Las Pinas Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).

Provisions of the bill include the creation of ‘Protected Area Management Office’ for each of the protected areas, and the rationalization of the existing Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB), which will now include local government officials, indigenous peoples, non-government organizations, academic institutions and women.

The bill also seeks to uphold the recognition of Indigenous Community Conserved Areas. It would also allow the development of renewable energy resources of protected areas, as long as these are “subject to adoption of reduced impact technologies, Environmental Impact Assessment and such development is not detrimental to ecosystem functions and biodiversity.”

She said that the bill was meant to address the worsening cases of habitat loss, destruction and deterioration of many protected areas in the country.

The Philippines has been known as one of the 35 world’s biodiversity hotspots or “regions containing exceptional concentrations of plant endemism, but experiencing high rates of habitat loss”, Villar said.

By 

Azer N. Parrocha, Philippine News Agency

 

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6 inmates escape San Pedro City police lockup

MANILA, Philippines — Six inmates — five facing drug charges, one for illegal possession of firearms — escaped from the police detention cell of San Pedro City, Laguna early Tuesday morning.

Benjo Gayod Lopena, Mark Joseph Varias Alviar, Jordan Mahusap Ibanez, Ed Nino Edwardo Lozada Hernandez, Arvin Lizarda Basilan — the drug suspects — and Rey Erenia Rodrigo fled by sawing off the steel bars of the jail.

At the time of the jailbreak, the detention facility held 59 persons but none joined the escapees.

City police chief Senior Superintendent Harold Depositar has relieved Police Officer 2 Jovencio Piodo Jr., who was on duty at the time of the jailbreak, and ordered his investigation.

 

By 

Dick Garay, News5

 
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Lawmakers give up bid to lower age of criminal responsibility to 9

MANILA, Philippines — Bowing to stiff opposition, the authors of a bill that would lower the age of criminal liability to nine years old have backed down, opting to strengthen the Juvenile Welfare Act of 2006 instead and retain the current age of 15.

The substitute bill was approved on Tuesday by a sub-committee of the House of Representatives’ justice committee.

Kabayan party-list representative Ron Salo called the substitute bill a more acceptable version, saying it took into consideration all views, including the opposition of various groups to lowering the age of criminal responsibility.

“What we have tried to do is to remove the stigma of being criminal, but all the interventions are there and being strengthened further,” Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano said.

The bill will give the state the right to “take responsibility” of a child in conflict with the law if the parents cannot do so.

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate and Antipolo Representative Romeo Acop raised the same concern about funding and capacitating the agencies tasked to implement the measure.

“The weakness of the (Senator Francis) Pangilinan law (author of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act), is the funding. The current bill proposes a number of measures to be undertaken by national agencies, but how much appropriation will be given,” Zarate said.

Kung walang pondosiguradong walang mangyayari diyan (Without funding, nothing will happen),” added Zarate, who abstained during the voting.

Acop said there was nothing in the bill that says how the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would be strengthened given that it bears the burden of rehabilitating children in conflict with the law.

Below are among the pertinent provisions of the proposed “Act expanding the scope of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare System and strengthening the social reintegration programs for children in conflict with the law, amending for the purpose Republic Act. No. 9344, as amended, otherwise known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006”:

  • Establishment of Bahay Pag-asa, a 24-hour child-caring institution to be established, funded and managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which will provide short-tern residential care for children in conflict with the law, who are nine years of age to 17 years old who are committed for rehabilitation or awaiting court disposition.
  • If the child taken into custody is 15 years old or below, the child will be turned over to the local social welfare development officer and shall immediately inform the child’s parents or guardian, or the child’s nearest relative that the child has been taken into custody.
  • The local social welfare officer will assess if the child needs to be placed under foster care or in a youth care facility or Bahay Pag-asa.
  • Any person who induces or coerces a child to commit a crime shall be punished by reclusion temporal if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of six years or less, and by reclusion perpetua if the crime committed is punishable by imprisonment of more than six years.
  • Parents of children who commit serious crimes or who are repeat offenders shall undergo mandatory intervention programs such as parenting seminars and counseling. Failure to undergo this process shall be a ground for imprisonment for at least 30 days but not more than six months.
  • The court shall impose a penalty two degrees lower than that provided for in law for crimes committed by children in conflict with the law. In cases where the law provides for a fixed period of imprisonment, the period shall be reduced in half. For crimes punishable by life imprisonment, the penalty to be imposed shall be imprisonment of up to 12 years.
  • If the child in conflict with the law reaches 18 years of age while under suspended sentence, the court shall determine whether to discharge the child, to order execution of sentence, or to extend the suspended sentence until the child reaches 25 years.
  • The DSWD shall be responsible for building, funding and operating Bahay Pag-asa in provinces and cities to be identified by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council.
  • All Bahay Pag-asa that are currently operated and maintained by local government units shall continue to be operated, maintained and funded by the respective LGUs.
  • The Bureau of Corrections shall establish at least two agricultural camps each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.  The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority shall also establish at least two training centers each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
By 

Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon

 
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Distracted drivers or implementors? ‘OA’ Agencies hit for over-stretching ADDA law, IRR review sought

MANILA – What are deemed ‘manifestly prejudicial to safe driving’? An ambiguous provision worded thus, in a joint order by three transport agencies several years ahgo has worked havoc on the enforcement of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (ADDA), a law originally designed mainly to prevent road accidents as a result of motorists calling or texting while driving.

Lawmakers have thus called for a review of the implementing rules and regulations of the ADDA as commuter safety advocates warned against “over-stretching” the law with the numerous controversial bans imposed on motorists by transport agencies.

The advocates for commuter safety warned that, even as the transport agencies have already over-interpreted the law and its intent, traffic enforcers on the ground are bound to compound the situation by adding their own interpretations to what the ADDA bans. This, analysts had said earlier, could open up avenues for extortion or corruption, while hardly denting the real enemy: risks to road safety.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III even urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to hold implementation of the ADDA while the Senate Committee on Public Services reviews the IRR, which he said exceeded the intent of the law.

In effect, the Land Transportation Regulatory and Franchising Board and the Land Transportation Office are legislating on their own, warned Sotto, who said he was familiar with the deliberations and the intent of the authors of the law passed many years ago. Sotto recalled the deliberations then centered mainly on the flagrant use of mobile phones for calling and texting by motorists, a bad practice blamed for many road accidents.

Sotto was supported in his call for a suspension of the implementation and IRR review by Sen. JV Ejercito, who issued a separate statement.

“Looks like their officials (DOTr) did not understand the essence of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. They have made matters complicated, when it is basically just about banning the use of cellphones while driving,” Ejercito said as Public Services Committee Vice Chairman.

Ejercito said that cellphones when used for navigational purposes should be permitted to aid motorists from steering clear of heavy traffic. 

“It is counter-intuitive when using Waze or other navigation apps since the use of cellphone is less dangerous if it is within the line of sight. Every second that the driver’s eyes are on the road counts. Mas delikado pa yumuko!” he explained.

Ejercito said that the DOTr should reconsider the strict provisions regarding the placement of cellphones within the line of sight of drivers.

“We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly placed, it is okay,” he said. 

Joint order also over-interpreted – Inton

Meanwhile, Atty. Ariel Inton, president of the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP), said
“It is clear that the coverage of the law is only for gadgets” that distract drivers. 

In a statement, speaking mostly in Filipino, Inton noted that valid questions have been raised as to the propriety of the implementors’ coverage of what “distractions” are meant by the law, when even rosaries that usually hang from or wrapped around rear view mirrors have been banned, “even though they are not cellphones or headphones and are not covered by law.”

Inton took issue the implementors’ explanation that these items are covered by an Aquino-era Joint Administrative Order (JAO) of LTO, LTFRB and the DOTr’s predecessor, the DOTC. “However, there is nothing in the JAO that says items like the rosary are banned,” he pointed out.

This was just lifted, Inton said, from a provision in the JAO that broadly prohibits any item “manifestly prejudicial to safe driving.” This, Inton said, should not be allowed to be the basis of over-interpretation by over-zealous agencies and, subsequently, by traffic enforcers on the ground who may have their own ideas about what constitutes something “manifestly prejudicial to road safety.” 

In truth, Inton pointed out, “there are so many things that distract a driver but have become ordinary or routine.” This, he said, has thus opened wide the debates on whether these, too shouldn’t be banned: for instance, a jeepney driver stretching his hand backward to receive money and give change to passengers. Already, some people are saying drinking coffee or water are distractions, but public transport drivers complain they need to have coffee for early morning duty, and water to rehydrate or prevent hypertension at midday when the heat in traffic could be unbearable.

“Meanwhile, I believe the first priority is to ensure traffic law enforcers have a clear idea of what the law is about in order to prevent confusion and arguments on the streets,” said Inton, speaking in Filipino.

The LCSP is calling for an all-out dry-run of the ADDA before full-scale implementation, and a review of the ground rules. Any interpretation on the ground by the enforcers should be rooted firmly in the provisions of the law, and not just born out of individual opinions or interpretations, which could vary, said Inton’s group.

‘IRR authors legislated own law’

In seeking a review of the IRR by the Senate committee on public services, Sotto said that panel, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, can use its oversight functions.

One provision that Sotto wants clarified is the description of line of sight, which became the implementors’ basis for saying the rosary is distracting to the driver.

Sotto, who drives his own car, said even he is now confused by the “line of sight” description and prohibitions. For instance, he said, some cars like his has what is called a “heads up display” that reflects on the windshield the RPM and speed.

Does this mean he should have this feature taken out even though it was part of the vehicle when he bought it?

Sotto said the DOTr can motu propio suspend implementation of the ADDA temporarily pending the IRR review, stressing, “we did not intend the law to be that way.” 

The senator said he will push his proposal in plenary. 

The problem, Sotto said, is rooted in the fact that the original authors of the law had a different, specific goal in mind, but the authors of the IRR have tended to legislate their own law.

Sotto said if DOTr refuses to heed the Senate’s suggestion, senators could also play hardball with the DOTr’s budget.

By 

InterAksyon | Mae Ann Los Baños, News5

 

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Ban on religious items from dashboard, rear-view mirror OK with CBCP —LTFRB spokesperson

RELIGIOUS ITEMS STILL ALLOWED 'INSIDE VEHICLE'

 

A board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday night said the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines is not against the prohibition of religious items from the dashboard and rear-view mirror.

"I consulted CBCP Secr Gen Msgr Marvin Mejia [about] the implementation of JAO (Joint Administrative Order) 2014-01, particularly sacred symbols as accessories," LTFRB spokesperson Aileen Lizada said.

"As a Catholic, i believe it is my moral duty to know what the stand of the Conference is. I serve my Lord 1st," she added.

She said that according Mejia, the CBCP supports the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act "as the same is for the safety of the motorists."

Lizada added that the CBCP also finds the prohibition of rosaries and other religious items from the dashboard and rear-view mirror as a "non-issue" because such items can still be placed "inside the vehicle."

The LTFRB had clarified that attaching rosaries to the rear-view mirror and religious images and trinkets on the dashboard have long been prohibited under JAO No. 2014-01.

It said that the Anti-Distracted Driving Act particularly prohibits electronic gadgets, including cellular phones, from the dashboard.

The new law also prohibits drivers from texting or making calls while driving. —ALG, GMA News

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Senate body junks hit men’s testimonies

Confessed assassin Arturo Lascañas, a retired Davao City police officer, is not the person who can prove the existence of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) because his testimony is inconsistent and lacks evidence.

So declared the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a report that summed up its findings and recommendations on Lascañas’ confession that he and other Davao policemen were hired to kill on orders of former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

The committee came up with the report after holding just one hearing on March 6.

It invited Lascañas to testify on his allegation that Mayor Duterte was behind the DDS and that the latter had paid policemen and rebel returnees to kill not only criminals and drug suspects but also his political enemies.

Lascañas previously testified in a Senate inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration in which he dismissed as lies the testimony of Edgar Matobato, who claimed to be a hit man for Mr. Duterte who he said had formed the DDS.

Lack of credibility

“The lack of credibility of both witnesses results in the lack of evidentiary value of their testimonies. Aside from the extrajudicial confession, no other piece of evidence was presented to prove the conspiracy. Therefore, their confession has no probative value,” the committee report said.

“One thing is for sure, Arturo Lascañas is not the person to prove [the DDS’s] actual existence and finally bring to justice the perpetrators of numerous unresolved crimes in Davao City or elsewhere if proven so,” it said.

Signed by eight members

Lacson said on Monday that he would report out on the floor on Tuesday Committee Report No. 97, which was signed by eight members.

Asked why he did not recommend perjury charges against Lascañas, the senator said he was leaving it up to the Department of Justice “to pick it up once the Senate adopts the report.”

Of the eight who signed the report, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said he did not concur with the report and would interpellate Lacson on the floor.

Testimony abruptly ended

In a statement, Trillanes said Lacson had “no basis to say that Lascañas’ testimony was not credible because he abruptly terminated the investigation after only one hearing.”

“In fact, during the solitary hearing Lacson conducted, the Philippine National Police representative even corroborated some of Lascañas’ statements,” said Trillanes, who had helped in bringing out the alleged DDS hit man to the public.

Sen. Grace Poe said she agreed with the report’s recommendations, but had reservations about the committee findings.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he agreed with the report “in so far as the recommendations are concerned.”

Grand conspiracy

In the 20-page report, the committee said Lascañas’ testimony was that of “a grand conspiracy involving the DDS” and that he had implicated fellow police officers, who included Sonny Buenaventura, a trusted Duterte aide, as well as Fulgencio Pavo, Jim Tan and Dick Cloribel.

But the report noted that under the rules of evidence, the “evidence other than the declaration of the coconspirator must be out forward.”

“Following said rules, Lascañas’ testimony could not be possibly considered evidence against the persons he was implicating, without first putting forward other evidence that could establish grand conspiracy he was claiming,” the report said.

It said Lascañas’ testimony could not be considered evidence against the President and other police officers without him offering evidence other than his testimony. Thus, he has the burden to prove his allegations before the committee.

The committee also said it found Lascañas’ affidavit and testimony to be self-serving, not worthy of belief and bereft of credibility.

For instance, it said Lascañas did not offer any corroborating evidence that for the price of P3 million, radio broadcaster Jun Pala was ordered killed by Mayor Duterte for criticizing him on his program.

“To impute a crime on another individual on the basis of motive alone will be a dangerous precedent,” the report said.

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President Duterte arrives in Moscow

MOSCOW — President Rodrigo Duterte has arrived in Moscow, Russia past 11 p.m. Monday (past 4 a.m. May 23, Manila time).

Nineteen officials are joining the President’s official visit to Russia which include Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affiars Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and National Security Council Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

The country’s economic development chiefs are also in Moscow including Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo, and Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato De La Peña.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go, and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian are also part of the official delegation here.

On Wednesday, President Duterte is set to have bilateral meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

A wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is scheduled on Wednesday afternoon before the President will be conferred for an honorary doctorate degree at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University).

The meeting between President Duterte and President Vladimir Putin is set for Thursday in Kremlin.

-PNA

 

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