Items filtered by date: Friday, 02 June 2017

Missing Japanese tourists found dead in Palawan

By: Redempto Anda - Inquirer Southern Luzon

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The two Japanese nationals who were reported missing since Tuesday were found dead off Northern Palawan’s Galoc Island, police said Saturday.

The bodies of victims Itani Masaru, 59, and Arai Yoshihiro, 24, were recovered by a police search and rescue team Friday afternoon in a remote island located west of Galoc Island in Culion. This after three of the crime suspects who confessed to authorities pointed out the location.

A police report filed by Senior Inspector Thirz Starky Timbangcaya said the suspects Michael Suangco, Aladin Mohameran and Reynante Labampa told investigators that the victims were shot and their bodies dismembered before being dumped into the water.

The suspects also sank the boat the victims boarded upon leaving Coron town last Tuesday.

Police investigators are also looking for another Japanese national Hiroyuki Nagaham, a businessman with work address in Barangay San Manuel, Puerto Princesa City, who allegedly ordered the killing.
Police are also looking for Sonny Anicete, a resident of Puerto Princesa City, who was identified by the three suspects as their leader, and two other companions, Joebez Vizcara and an unnamed minor.

The victims left their hotel in Coron town on Tuesday purportedly to go off on an island hopping tour. The staff of the GMG Hotel where the victims were staying reported to the police the missing guests after failing to return the next day. JPV


Duterte’s crude response to Chelsea Clinton shows his inner Marcos

Rodrigo Duterte is an eye-for-an eye guy, if you haven’t noticed.

But if the eyes belong to the American scion of an ex-president like Bill Clinton and the daughter of the much-maligned Hillary Clinton, Duterte doesn’t feel inclined to stop at a pair of eyes.

The guy just declared “Partial Martial” in the Philippines. Marawi and Mindanao for now. The guy wants to be the new Marcos. And now he’s doing what someone who wants to be the New Marcos does. He bad mouths everything in his way. 

So when Chelsea Clinton criticized him for a recent comment about taking up the cudgels for soldiers who would commit rape during martial law. Clinton said rape was “Not funny. Ever.”

She’s right.

You don’t joke about rape. Just like you don’t joke about beheading U.S. presidents, as comedienne Kathy Griffin found out.

Clinton also called Duterte a “murderous thug with no regard for human rights.”


Well, she does have a point.

As an elder and a statesman, Duterte should have let it go. It’s Chelsea Clinton. She’s not in his way. Duterte should have simply ignored it all.

But he couldn’t.  In that way, he’s like Trump. And he let Chelsea have it—directly.

“When your father, the President of the United States, was screwing Lewinsky and the girls there in the White House, how did you feel? Did you slam your father?” said Duterte at the 119th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Davao City.

And then he got even saltier.

“I repeat, when President Clinton was fucking Lewinsky, what was your statement or your reaction?” Duterte added as he further dredged up the 1995-6 case with White House Intern Monica Lewinsky that led to Clinton’s impeachment.

Duterte claimed that he wasn’t technically making a rape joke, but was being sarcastic, indicating that he was actually saying that he would be the one answering for the soldiers’ actions.

Duterte also has a sense of history and mentioned that American soldiers come to the Philippines and rape Filipinos, and even kill transgenders. Complainants, he said, usually get paid off and are given visas to live in the U.S.

The harsh truth, perhaps. And worth discussing in some forum. It still would have been better to let Chelsea’s statement go.

Chelsea Clinton criticized President Duterte’s recent rape joke. ASSOCIATED PRESS

This is Duterte paving his way for being the international “bad guy.” Picking on Chelsea just adds to all the Duterte buzz.

There’s been a lot lately. Starting with the praise from Trump about his drug war and extrajudicial killings. And that was just a teaser for the secret nuclear sub information shared by Trump with him.

Add that to consorting with Putin on the day before he declared martial law in Marawi, and you can see why Duterte can’t stop.

The Philippines was made in the U.S.’s image and now we have the man who is happy to emerge as the Brown Trump, the second coming of Marcos. And things are coming together nicely for him.

Already the Philippine Congress has successfully blocked a joint session vote on Duterte’s declaration of martial law, settling for a voice vote in the House as the official OK.

Doesn’t sound good enough for me.

Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin seemed to sum up Duterte’s declaration, saying there was “no coherent and holistic assessment of what necessitated” martial law.

Indeed, is martial law going to solve the problems in Marawi? Unlikely, but who’s in control here?

“Everything seems to be at the sole discretion of the President,” Vilarin told INQUIRER reporters.

The Supreme Court is the next stop. But at this rate, who knows if the high court can stop a raging strongman?

The signs are there. Just look at Chelsea Clinton as rhetorical roadkill. And Duterte doesn’t care. His bad-ass star is ascending.

Expect to see more of Duterte’s flexing in the media as we count down the “60 Days of Partial Martial.”

I’d say with Congress in Duterte’s back pocket, expansion of the declaration is likelier than you think.

At this stage, no one appears able to check Duterte on his test drive to absolute power.

Who can put the strongman back in the bottle?

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes for the Inquirer’s U.S. bureau. Contact



Ilocos Norte town mayor Arsenio Agustin shot dead

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos condemns the 'heinous' killing of her ally, Marcos town mayor Arsenio Agustin 


CAGAYAN, Philippines – The mayor of Marcos town in Ilocos Norte was shot dead Saturday morning, June 3.

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos condemned the "heinous" killing of her ally, Marcos town mayor Arsenio Agustin.

"We condemn this heinous act, we will spare no effort to find and punish killers. I extend my prayers and sympathy to his family and friends who have over his time as mayor became close to us," Marcos said.

Agustin was accompanied by his driver Mark Valencia when they were gunned down by unidentified assailants around 11:40 am Saturday, reports said.

Agustin and Valencia were brought to the Dona Josefa Edralin Memorial District Hospital but were declared dead on arrival.

Agustin was inspecting a water impounding project in the village when the assailants fired at them.

Policemen are currently investigating the killing.

Last April, the town's vice mayor, Jessie Ermitanio, was also ambushed.

Ermitanio and his two companions survived the attack while driver his driver Lucky Rumbaua was killed. (READ: Ilocos Norte new poll area of concern)

Marcos town was classified by the Commission on Elections as a hotspot in 2013, after mayoral candidate Alfredo Arce was killed in a shooting incident. –



Using mango seeds, Japanese creates forest in La Union

By:  - 



SAN FERNANDO CITY—One summer in the early 1970s, Osamu Nakagaki began to eat as many ripe mangoes as he could so he could retrieve good seeds he would plant at a denuded mountain in Barangay Cataclan here.

Only 25 at the time, Nakagaki was a volunteer of Japan Overseas Volunteer Cooperation (JOVC), an affiliate of Ja-pan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

“In April and May, I would eat ripe mangoes, then planted the seeds which were ready for replanting in December,” Nakagaki said.

Nakagaki and volunteers who came after him and their Filipino friends had to eat 2,000 mangoes to generate the seeds that soon grew into a mango orchard where the city’s botanical garden, established in 1995, is now located. The garden was opened to the public in 1998.

Former San Fernando City Mayor Mary Jane Ortega said the botanical garden was selected by botanist Ronaldo del Rosario of the National Museum precisely because of the full-grown mango trees there.

Nakagaki, now 71, was a horticulturist, who later served as Jica’s country director. He was initially involved in a project to raise tomatoes and other crops during rainy months. But during his travels, he noticed the balding mountains and decided to shift from planting crops to reforestation.

“I learned that people were practicing ‘kaingin’ (slash-and-burn). They burned the trees to plant crops, but they were destroying the forests in the process. I came up with the idea of a forest conservation project and told (then) Governor (Juvenal) Guerrero about it, and he was receptive,” Nakagaki said.

He chose Cataclan, which was accessible only by a trail, even though it was only 8 kilometers from the city center. “From the foot of the mountain to the site, we had to walk for two hours,” he said.

Nakagaki decided to plant mango trees, after observing that “residents seemed not to care about forest trees and tended to cut them down. But they didn’t destroy fruit trees.”

“They waited until the trees grew and bore fruits which they could eat or sell. But before we could plant, we had to eat mangoes to have seeds,” he said, chuckling.

Nakagaki arrived in La Union province in November 1970 and stayed until January 1974. It was in 1972 when he started the mango planting project.

When he left the country, three more JOVC volunteers continued the project until about 20 hectares were covered with the sweet fruit-bearing mango trees.

In 2002, Nakagaki returned to La Union as Jica country director and was surprised to find a forest where he planted seeds.

His bond with La Union has not ended. Three years ago, when JOVC celebrated its 50th year, Nakagaki and other former volunteers returned to the botanical garden, this time to plant guyabano (soursop) seedlings.

The place, where the garden is located, was named Sitio Hapon in honor of the Japanese who reforested the mountain: Nakagaki, Yoshiro Kodera, Hitoshi Naguchi and Akio Yamamoto.

Last week, Nakagaki visited the city with his son, Naruhito, bringing along Japanese friends who invested in information technology (IT) enterprises. They were interested in hiring IT course graduates.



‘Give me my daughter’s body’


When Gil Yongco heard that gunshots were being reported at Resorts World Manila’s  hotel – casino where his daughter, Hazel, worked, he immediately rushed to the scene — only to find chaos and the hotel in flames.

There was no one to approach for assistance, and Yongco had to fight off first responders with a desperate father’s determination to see his daughter alive.

“What should I do? No one could tell me anything. But my daughter is still there,” he said, pointing to the hotel, where black smoke continued to billow out from its broken front windows.

“Where is Hazel?” he desperately called out to police officers who, while sympathetic, also did not know how to respond.

Yongco stayed with the press pack with his wife Cathy.

A hotel employee later said she had grabbed Hazel’s phone as they ran out because she dropped it. When she turned back, Hazel was gone.

Hazel, 29, was a table supervisor at Resorts World. She was among those missing since early Friday, when a gunman the police said appeared to be crazy walked into the hotel with an assault rifle and started shooting and setting the place ablaze.


Full combat regalia

Hundreds of policemen and soldiers in full combat regalia trooped to the hotel, one of the premier destinations in Manila fronting its main airport and just a stone’s throw away from the military’s Villamor Air Base.

At least two armored personnel carriers were dispatched to scour the place for any sign of other fighters, but no one has yet been arrested.

Around 5.30 a.m., four people walked out of the hotel, one of them fainting to the ground and rushed to an ambulance. They were shell shocked, caught by surprise by the attack, which came on the 11th day that the military has been battling to retake Marawi City in Mindanao from the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf and Maute gunmen believed backed by a contingent of foreign fighters.


Yongco later conceded that his daughter may be among the 38 casualties in the attack.

“Just give me the body please,” he called on the authorities.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of my sister, Hazel,” her brother Mark told the Inquirer. “There is complete chaos in lawlessness,” in what transpired, he added.

Like Yongco, casino high roller Arianne Johnson, 39, was also searching for some of the eight people she used to hang out with at the casino. She said she only knew her friends by their first names, but that she had grown fond of them on the slot machine floor.

Lone shooter

When the alarm sounded, she said people started running from the second floor, as bursts of gunfire rang out. “We were running, people were shouting. It was chaos everywhere,” she said.

“We rushed out when we heard at least four gunshots fired,” Johnson said, adding that she was with a friend who worked at the security department of the casino. They watched the scene unfold on the closed circuit television camera.

The Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa, earlier said casino patrons ran screaming after a lone shooter fired an M4 carbine, a shorter version of the M-16 assault rifle, inside the Resorts World Manila complex across the road from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

He said the crisis was over, hours before the smoke had cleared and the rest of the bodies were found.

“Up to this time, we can’t say this is an act of terror. Why? Because [the gunman] had done no other violent act inside, aside from stealing chips and shooting at a TV. He did not hurt anyone. If you were a terrorist, you want to sow terror. You would have gunned down people,” Dela Rosa insisted.


The man was wearing a backpack and carrying a liter of gasoline which he poured on a gambling table before setting it alight.

“We reviewed [the video] recording, we did not see that he took any hostages. In fact, he passed by some people. He ignored some people,” Dela Rosa said.

The incident sparked a manhunt and hours later, police announced that the gunman had killed himself after firing at security forces.

“He killed himself. At room 510. It looks like he was alone. He fired at our men, ” said Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde. “Our assessment is he burnt himself. He committed suicide,” he said.

Dozens of soldiers and police officers in body armor and carrying rifles deployed around the hotel after reports of a shooting spread quickly through social media.

Two armored personnel carriers could be seen outside the hotel hours after the shooting, which took place as government security forces were locked in a 10-day firefight with militants from the Maute group who were waving the black flag of the Islamic State (IS) in Marawi.

“Right now, we cannot say that he is a member of the Maute,” Dela Rosa said of the casino gunman.

‘Terror attack’

In Washington, US President Donald Trump opened a news conference at the White House by commenting on what he described as “the terror attack in Manila.”

“We are closely monitoring the situation,” Trump said. “It is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world, with terror. Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected.”

The US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the online communications of extremist groups, reported that “an Islamic State  Filipino operative who provides daily updates on the ongoing clashes in Marawi stated that the group (was) responsible for the attack at Resorts World Manila.”

But the police said the claim could be propaganda.

“As far as the Philippine National Police is concerned, we can’t attribute (the attack) to terrorism without concrete evidence. IS can claim anything as part of its propaganda, but until we know the man’s motives, we can’t tell at this early stage,” Dela Rosa said, using another acronym for IS.


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