Items filtered by date: Monday, 03 July 2017

Coin donations help feed Marawi kids

By: Carla P. Gomez - Correspondent / @carlagomezINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Photo: Marawi children enjoy their Mingo meals, courtesy of donations raised by ordinary citizens. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

BACOLOD CITY — Coins donated by children and ordinary people have helped a Negrense organization feed children displaced by the fighting in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.

The coins came from the piggy banks of children, the earnings of tricycle drivers, a housewife’s fund drive and children wanting to reach out to the victims of the conflict in Marawi.

Negrense Volunteers for Change (NVC) Foundation kicked off a campaign to send Mingo, an instant meal made of rice, monggo and malunggay, to thousands of children in Marawi, less than a week after the fighting erupted in May.

The group has sent 388,775 packs of instant meals to Marawi children staying in evacuation sites.

“As soon as we knew evacuees were converging in centers, our hearts bled and we were tempted to immediately shout out for people to help,” NVC president Millie Kilayko said. “But we carefully chose trustworthy ground partners in Iligan City, who could efficiently carry out the task.”

She said their first shipment arrived in Iligan on May 31, about a week after the fighting erupted.

As of end of June, NVC had listed 15 government and nongovernment groups as partners. They distributed the Mingo meals brought by volunteers to evacuation sites and to areas where evacuees were staying.

The group’s campaign to raise funds for the Mingo meals through social media snowballed.

Eight men from Hinigaran town in Negros Occidental province, who received tricycles from NVC’s livelihood project three years ago, turned over P5,800 of their earnings, enough to buy 1,000 Mingo meals.

Pia Golez Camus, a mother of four and a resident of Metro Manila, started a “begging” mission to collect funds for the children of Marawi.

She distributed tin cans to her fellow volunteer housewives with an appeal for people to drop their coins to feed the children of Marawi.

“People are just waiting to be asked for help,” she said.

Camus said she decided to appeal for coins because it makes it easier for people to want to donate.

“I have a very deep respect for coins now,” she said. “[It’s such a waste that] these are just left around, discarded.”

She said a donation of P5.80 could already feed a child.

“If more people put coins in tin cans more children of Marawi could be fed,” she said, adding that P40 could already feed seven children.

Isa Lovina, who produces children’s dresses, sent in a 5-kilogram piggy bank, which her 10-year-old grandson, Sebastian, a sixth grader at Xavier School in San Juan City, wanted to give to the children of Marawi.

From the donations of more than 50 people, most of them her former students, retired teacher Bugsy Lopez Bongco was able to send 58,924 Mingo meals to Marawi.

Colegio de San Agustin-Bacolod students led by Desiree Daniel and Marjorie Eslawa also raised funds for Mingo meals.

Aside from donating their school allowance, brothers Diego, 13, and Andreo, 12, Barrientos started a “Change for Change” drive at the law office of their Negrense mother, Reggie Jacinto-Barrientos, in Makati City to raise funds for Marawi evacuees.

For more information on the Mingo for Marawi drive, visit www.nvcfoundation-ph.
org/marawi or contact NVC Foundation’s office (034) 435-5568 or 0917-3000342.

 

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ID cards proposed to stop terrorists


By: Tonette Orejas - @ttorejasINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer


Photo: DISPLACED Maranaos displaced by fighting in Marawi City have sought temporary residences in communities away from their home city. Others, however, are staying and waiting to be housed in an 11-hectare “tent city” in the village of Sagonsong. —JEOFFREY MAITEM

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Central Luzon police on Tuesday encouraged 200 Muslim leaders in the region to adopt an identification (ID) system similar to the one being enforced in Tarlac province’s Muslim communities to prevent the spread of terrorism and lawlessness.

The Tarlac police and the local governments of Paniqui town and Tarlac City implemented the ID scheme after President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao when the Islamic State-backed Maute terror group and Abu Sayyaf bandits took over parts of Marawi City on May 23.

The Tarlac City ID system was started two weeks ago by Mayor Christy Angeles.

Some 2,000 Marawi City residents, who moved to the Tarlac provincial capital prior to the Marawi attack, were required to bring their ID cards and present these when asked by authorities, said Abdul Jabbar, a leader of the United Muslim Association of Tarlac (Umat).

“This best practice (Tarlac ID system) can be replicated in Central Luzon,” said Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, regional police director, on the sidelines of a Muslim Leaders’ Forum at Benigno Aquino Hall in this Pampanga capital.

Top police officials and military commanders discussed the Marawi City situation and the strides made in the campaign to defeat terrorists.

Most of the 26,000 Muslims in Central Luzon hail from Marawi City, many of them traders, Aquino said. He said 103 mosques have been put up in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales for local communities.

In the forum, no Muslim leader questioned the ID proposal’s potential impact on civil and political rights.

‘Discriminatory’
Lawyer Jasmin Regino, regional director of the Commission on Human rights, said an ID system among Muslims is “discriminatory.”

“It is a form of branding, segregation,” she said when asked for comments on the proposal.

Jabbar said the Tarlac ID system had been helpful in sorting out new migrants from longtime residents. “We are able to control who do not belong to our group [Umat]. We don’t want the Marawi City problem to happen in Tarlac City,” Jabbar said.

The Tarlac ID cards were issued to persons aged 11 and above. Settlers are required to present themselves to Umat leaders to verify their identities and purpose of staying in Tarlac.

Muslims in the San Isidro resettlement in Magalang town in Pampanga province have not relied on any ID system, according to their leader, Masa Ampuan. “But we know the new faces. We have a way of knowing them,” he said.

Aquino assured the assembly that no Maute group member was operating in Central Luzon, amid what he described as “fake news” about supposed plots to bomb oil depots and shopping malls in the region.

“There is no direct threat to our region. We have been preventing terrorists from [setting up a base] in Central Luzon through our enhanced intelligence efforts,” he said.

In Cotabato City, police released four persons, all surnamed Maute, after investigators finished validating their identities and learned that they had no ties to the leaders of terrorists who seized a section of Marawi City in May.

Supt. James Allan Logan, regional director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM), said the local government of Marogong in Lanao del Sur province confirmed that Alimatar, Apok, Saida and Mohammad Ali, all surnamed Maute, had been cleared of any relationship, by blood or by affinity, with the Maute terrorist group.

Law-abiding citizens
The Mautes, Logan said, presented documents showing they were law-abiding citizens and went to Cotabato City to apply for clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation.

Alimatar is a former town councilor who served as chair of Barangay Puracan in Marogong and president of the town’s association of village chiefs. He is the treasurer of Barangay Puracan.

Apok, on the other hand, is a retired school principal, also in Marogong.

Logan said the Mautes, while in CIDG-ARMM custody, were treated well and were not detained. —With a report from Edwin O. Fernandez

 

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Bulacan massacre suspect found dead

By Ramon Efren Lazaro and Ric Sapnu (The Philippine Star)

Photo: President Duterte visits the wake of a family of five slain in Barangay Sto. Cristo, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan yesterday.

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Philippines – A suspect in the killing of five members of a family in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on June 27 was found dead yesterday morning.

The body of Rolando Pacinos, alias Inggo, was dumped along Palmera Drive, Phase 7 in Barangay Sto. Cristo.

Senior Superintendent Romeo Caramat, Bulacan police acting director, said Dapsy Daud, president of the homeowners association at Palmera, found the victim under a tree at around 6:30 a.m. A piece of cardboard that read, “addict at rapist ako huwag tularan (I’m an addict and rapist, don’t emulate),” was found near the body of the victim, whose neck was also tied with a pump belt. There were reports that the body of the victim bore signs of torture.

The body was discovered a few hours before President Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa visited the wake of the victims.

Carmelino Ibañes, who confessed to the killings, pointed to Pacinos as one of his two accomplices. An alias Tony, who was earlier considered a “person of interest,” was taken in for questioning last Friday, but later released to his family.

Superintendent Fitz Macariola, San Jose del Monte police chief, earlier said they could not arrest the two men unless the court issues a warrant.

The bodies of Auring Dizon, 58; her daughter Estrella Carlos, 28, and Carlos’ children Donnie, 11; Ella, 7, and Dexter Jr., 1, which bore 32, 45, 15, 19 and five stab wounds, respectively, were found by Carlos’ husband Dexter Sr. as he arrived from work.

Rody vows justice
The President vowed justice for the victims even as he warned criminals that they could not escape from the law.

“There will be justice. How? They said one has been killed. If that’s the case, there will be many more to come,” Duterte said. “You know that wherever you go, I will catch up with you.”

When asked if he gave the police a deadline to resolve the killings, Duterte said: “No, but it should be as soon as possible.”

Duterte said he offered a housing unit and gave P275,000 in cash and a cell phone to Dexter Sr. “I told him if there’s anything you would need and you think I can help, call me,” he said.

Duterte reiterated that he is ready to kill those who would destroy the country and the youth.

“I don’t give a s**t about human rights. I don’t care about them. I have a job to do and my job is to see to it, I will repeat, to preserve and defend the Filipino nation. That’s about it,” he said.

The President also mocked human rights advocates, saying he is willing to give them the responsibility of addressing the drug problem in the country.

Duterte said human rights advocates should begin their campaign by talking to criminals. “Tell the criminals to stop the godd**n s**t so there will be no more killings,” he said. – With Alexis Romero

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Maute gun suppliers busted in Batangas

(The Philippine Star)

Photo:Arrested were Romel Litan, the alleged leader of the gang, and members Angelo Magcamit, Ramil Quinones and Christian Rey Quinones.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Litan admitted that some of the firearms recovered from the Maute group came from them. 
 File

MANILA, Philippines - Police are believed to have busted a gunrunning syndicate allegedly supplying firearms to Maute terrorists who attacked Marawi City after law enforcers arrested four gang members in Lipa City, Batangas over the weekend.

Arrested were Romel Litan, the alleged leader of the gang, and members Angelo Magcamit, Ramil Quinones and Christian Rey Quinones.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Litan admitted that some of the firearms recovered from the Maute group came from them.

Dela Rosa said some of the guns recovered in Marawi by government troops are similar to the design and color of some of the firearms recovered.

“The suspect himself painted the guns,” Dela Rosa said in Filipino when the 30 pieces of firearms and gun parts recovered from the suspects in Lipa City were presented to the media at the lobby of PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Dela Rosa showed a silencer for high-powered firearms, similar to the equipment being used by the Maute bandits.
Since May 23, Maute terrorists have been fighting government troops that resulted in the death of soldiers, policemen, civilians and bandits, causing enormous damage in Marawi City.

House-to-house fighting in the urban area had resulted in the death of more than 300 suspected terrorists, some 40 civilians and over 80 government troops since the clashes started.

Aside from the Maute group, Dela Rosa said Litan also admitted supplying unregistered firearms to other criminal gangs operating in Metro Manila, Luzon and Mindanao.

Dela Rosa said the raid in Purok 2, Barangay Sampaguita in Lipa City was conducted after a search warrant was issued by a local judge.

The PNP chief said Litan claimed they have connections with the police and military that are facilitating the transport of firearms, thus Dela Rosa said he would order an investigation to identify their protectors.

Investigators also gathered that the group has sold a total of 671 firearms to different crime groups since December 2015.
Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the suspects were charged with illegal manufacturing of firearms.

“Litan’s group has no license to manufacture, license to repair, license to make guns or license to operate,” said Obusan.

Looting
The military said the Maute terror group and their Abu Sayyaf allies together with ordinary criminals have reportedly robbed private houses and commercial establishments in war-torn Marawi City and the terrorists have allegedly amassed an estimated P500 million in cash, jewelry and other valuables.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for Joint Task Force Marawi, said at least 10 hostages who escaped from the custody of the Maute group confirmed the burglary and organized looting in the conflict areas since the terrorists attacked the city last May 23.

Herrera said the 10 hostages subsequently rescued by government troops told the military that the terrorists forced the Christian captives to convert to Islam or be killed.

The hostages claimed that the Maute group also forced them to ransack houses and establishments while they were guarded by armed men.

Herrera said the hostages took ammunition, firearms, cash, gold and jewelry from abandoned houses and buildings on orders of the gunmen.

The military said the former hostages disclosed that their group alone was able to take an estimated P500 million in cash and other valuables.

Some residents and owners of commercial establishments in the battle zone earlier complained that buildings were ransacked and they lost cash and other valuables.

Herrera said the military is now validating the reports of the hostages.

Citing military officials, Herrera said intense fighting continued between troopers and the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists at the center of Marawi City. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Roel Pareño, John Unso

 

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P5k assistance earmarked for displaced residents returning to Marawi

By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star)

Photo: According to Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, the government decided to give P5,000, apart from the P1,000 given at the end of Ramadan, to each displaced family so they can start their lives anew. File

MANILA, Philippines - At least 19,000 families in evacuation centers in Northern Mindanao and those seeking shelter elsewhere will each receive P5,000 once they return to Marawi City when the armed conflict ends.

According to Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, the government decided to give P5,000, apart from the P1,000 given at the end of Ramadan, to each displaced family so they can start their lives anew.

Unregistered evacuees staying in the houses of their relatives or hotels are given until today to register in their respective barangays so they can avail themselves of relief goods and other services from government agencies.

Volunteers from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will help encode and revalidate the basic information of all evacuees to prevent duplication of entries, which will be the basis for the Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DAFAC).

The DAFAC will be used to keep track of services provided to evacuees by different government agencies.

Based on latest figures, more than 350,000 people are still displaced because of the clashes between the military and members of the Maute terrorist group.

Some 17,300 people are staying in evacuation centers, while more than 333,000 are with their relatives and friends.

Taguiwalo said relief distribution is ongoing both for those who are home-based and those in evacuation centers.

“The concerned field offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are continuously validating and updating the inside and outside evacuation centers data. Further changes are expected with the continuous validation and movement of the affected population,” she said.

More than P123 million worth of assistance has already been provided by the DSWD to the evacuees.

Officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) also flew to Iligan City on Monday to distribute relief packs for thousands of evacuees.

Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo spearheaded the relief operations for 5,000 evacuees temporarily sheltered at the gymnasiums of Barangays Maria Cristina and Sta. Elena.

The state gaming firm initially allocated P3.7 million in relief packs containing assorted food items, toiletries and a malong, a native Muslim blanket.

‘Don’t hoard food packs’
The DSWD warned all stakeholders not to hoard the food packs that were supposed to be given to evacuees.

It cited Republic Act 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management law, which prohibits hoarding and removal or replacement of content of food packs from the DSWD.

“We ask the help of local government units to ensure that all DSWD assistance during calamities reach people in need as soon as possible,” the agency said.

Taguiwalo earlier called on the public to report problems in the distribution of the relief for the evacuees.

Sen. Sonny Angara called on concerned government agencies to also focus on the evacuees’ mental health and wellbeing following a news report that 2,500 of them have demonstrated early symptoms of schizophrenia.

Angara said the displaced residents of Marawi require sufficient medical aid, including mental health services, to help them cope with their present situation.

“The shattered dignity of the Maranaos is more difficult to relieve. It takes more than food or water or even shelter. It needs much more than that to be restored,” Angara said.

Forced to leave their homes because of the armed conflict between the Maute group and state forces, Marawi residents have to cope with living in temporary evacuation centers and limited resources.

Being in this type of situation could lead to mental health problems and according to Marawi Crisis Management Committee spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong, there are not enough psychiatrists in evacuation centers.

The DSWD said it will also implement a “cash for work” program for evacuees displaced by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City. – With Helen Flores, Paolo Romero, Lino de la Cruz, Marvin Sy, Ben Serrano

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SAF commandos want out of Bilibid

By Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star)

Photo:Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he would not deny the existence of illegal drugs in the NBP despite the deployment of the elite police force. EDD GUMBAN, File

MANILA, Philippines - Even before the exposé of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on the resurgence of illegal drug operations at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, the leadership of the Special Action Force wanted the SAF commandos pulled out from the NBP.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he would not deny the existence of illegal drugs in the NBP despite the deployment of the elite police force.

Dela Rosa said SAF commandos at the NBP do not have full control of the prison premises, spread over a 104-hectare land area.

He said the SAF only guards the maximum security area at Building 14. If the drug lords in Building 14 are transferred to the minimum security area, the SAF no longer has control.

He said the problem is when contraband like gadgets, cellphones and laptop computers are smuggled in through other areas of the prison, the SAF cannot prevent it.

“How I wish the drug lords would be returned to Building 14 so the SAF can guard them,” he added.

With this setup, Dela Rosa admitted he could not deny the existence of illegal drug operations at the NBP.

Since they do not have complete control of the NBP, the SAF requested the pullout to avoid the possibility of their being mistakenly implicated in the illegal drug trade inside the prison.

Aguirre said the resurgence of the illegal activity at the NBP involves at least five to 10 percent of the original operation, which was successfully dismantled under the Duterte administration.

Dela Rosa said some drug lords have found legal intervention and managed to be transferred from the maximum to the medium or minimum security compounds.

He said he would talk to SAF director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Lusad to assess the best possible setup to prevent proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP and to isolate the SAF from the controversies on illegal drugs.

Dela Rosa added the elite police unit is “overstretched,” since they are also involved in the Marawi City operations as well as problems in the Zamboanga peninsula and Central Mindanao.

Transfer Bilibid
As this developed, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon – under whose district the NBP is located – yesterday told the Department of Justice (DOJ) to consider a new site for the state penitentiary.

“The DOJ should seriously consider pursuing a previous plan to transfer the NBP if it wishes to stop the drug trade proliferating within the national penitentiary,” Biazon suggested.

Plans for the NBP’s transfer started during the term of former president and current Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and were carried over to her successor Benigno Aquino III.

“Under the new administration, it seemed to have been lost completely,” Biazon lamented.

“The basis and justification for the transfer is right there in front of us. Simply assigning soldiers to guard prison facilities will not solve the problem in the long term. It’s time for the DOJ to pursue the transfer to new facilities in a new location,” he insisted, citing subhuman living conditions of the facilities and its location in an urban center as causing the problems at the NBP today.

“There is a lot of motivation for inmates to pay for comfort and drugs is a high-paying business for them. And with money, they can easily tempt the underpaid prison guards. As proven now, even the assignment of SAF troops is not a guarantee of immunity to corruption.”

Illegal drugs, contraband surrendered
Meanwhile, inmates have started surrendering illegal drugs and other contraband inside the NBP following the renewed crackdown on illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary.

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes yesterday revealed that members of the Sigue-Sigue Sputnik gang surrendered at least 35 small plastic sachets of shabu, six big plastic sachets of shabu, two icepicks and a cellular phone last Monday.

Balmes said the inmates did so following dialogue and negotiations over the weekend.

Aguirre earlier confirmed the resurgence of the illegal drug trade at the NBP and bared plans to replace the contingent of PNP-SAF guarding the national penitentiary, citing the possibility that some SAF members have been tempted by the huge amount of money involved.

P134-M drugs destroyed
In Malabon, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) yesterday destroyed P134 million worth of dangerous drugs at Clean International Corp. in Barangay Maysilo.

Destroyed through thermal decomposition were 44,669.95 grams of shabu, 10.58 grams of marijuana and 28,410 grams of activated carbon with a total value of P134,009,108.70.

Key PDEA officials and other law enforcement agencies, representatives from the DOJ, Dangerous Drugs Board, Public Attorney’s Office and non-governmental organizations were present.

PDEA director general Isidro Lapeña said the destruction is in compliance with the requirements of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and DDB regulations.

Yakap Bayan
The government will soon roll out a rehabilitation program that aims to transform thousands of drug surrenderers into community leaders capable of responding to disasters and emergency situations.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Yakap Bayan would provide drug dependents an opportunity to become productive members of society by equipping them with skills useful to their communities.

The program involves six months of rehabilitation and 18 months of reintegration programs that include capacity building activities on disaster response.

“We embrace drug surrenderers with the goal of transforming them into volunteers, then advocates and eventually leaders in the community able to implement disaster resiliency and response programs,” DSWD assistant secretary Jose Antonio Hernandez said.

“As we equip them with different disaster-response skills, the surrenderers will be the primary responders during calamities. If before, they are the ‘headaches’ of society, now they will become active and useful members of the community.”

Successful drug war
Hundreds of former drug dependents from 27 towns and five cities in Nueva Ecija yesterday proclaimed the success of President Duterte’s drug war, as 480 surrenderers joined a friendly basketball conference held simultaneously by district in the province.

“Mark,” a surrenderer from Bongabon town, said he regained his self-esteem and “correct frame of mind” when he entered Bahay Pagbabago in his town a couple of months ago.

Bahay Pagbabago is the localized rehabilitation center established in every municipality and city through the initiative of police offices. The center is equipped with sports facilities and offers livelihood training supported by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Provincial Manpower Training Center. – With Delon Porcalla, Edu Punay, Emmanuel Tupas, Janvic Mateo, Ric Sapnu

 

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Women’s group raises funds for Leni counter-protest

By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)L

Photo:Lawyer Purificacion Bernabe, one of the proponents of “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” initiative, said this would serve as an avenue for ordinary Filipinos “to stand together and protect their votes” for the vice presidency in last year’s elections. File

MANILA, Philippines - A group of Filipino women launched yesterday an online fundraising campaign to help Vice President Leni Robredo finance her counter-protest against former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Lawyer Purificacion Bernabe, one of the proponents of “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” initiative, said this would serve as an avenue for ordinary Filipinos “to stand together and protect their votes” for the vice presidency in last year’s elections.

“Our objective is not just to give Vice President Leni our money, but also to protect our votes,” Bernabe said in a press conference at the Museo Pambata in Manila.

Bernabe, along with former awardees of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), filed last week a petition before the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to allow them to contribute to Robredo’s counter-protest.

The petitioners included Museo Pambata founder Nina Lim-Yuson, former Commission on Human Rights commissioner Paulynn Paredes-Sicam, singer Celeste Legaspi-Gallardo, former Bases Conversion and Development Authority board director Zorayda Alonzo, former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman and Ateneo de Manila University press director Karina Bolasco.

Bolasco noted that this was the first time such petition was filed before the PET.

Under Republic Act 6713 or the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees, “public officials and employees are barred from soliciting or accepting, directly or indirectly, any gift from non-relatives even during Christmas or family celebrations, or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by, the functions of their office, if the value of the gift is neither nominal nor insignificant.”

RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, also prohibits public officials and employees from accepting gifts.

Bernabe, however, said their petition is consistent with their constitutional right of suffrage.

“The petitioners exercised their right of suffrage in the 2016 national and local elections. This exercise of sovereign authority deserves affirmation, even protection, if not from the state, then by the voters themselves. This includes protection of the outcome of the election,” the petition, which was filed on June 27, stated.

As of yesterday, the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” campaign has raised P408,878.50, which Bernabe said would be paid directly to PET, should it rule in favor of the petition.

Sicam said instead of questioning the capacity of Marcos to pay his deposit, the group decided to focus on helping the Vice President.

Robredo is trying to raise around P7 million for the second tranche of payment required by the PET for her counter-protest, which is due on July 14.

The high court has ordered Robredo and Marcos to shell out a total of P81.46 million for their separate election protests.

Of this amount, P66.02 million would be used for the retrieval of poll materials for the protest of Marcos while P15.44 million would be used to retrieve election materials for Robredo’s petition.

In case the PET junks their appeal, Bolasco said the money would be donated to Robredo’s Angat Buhay program.

“There’s a chance that the high tribunal will not accept this petition. This is a test case. If that happens, the money will go to her projects under the Angat Buhay program,” she said.

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Trillanes’ ‘unparliamentary’ behavior may lead to ethics probe

By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

Photo:Senators from the majority bloc, perceived to be allies of Duterte, bristled at Trillanes’ jab on Monday, with some dismissing him as a desperate attention-seeker. Senate PRIB, File

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is facing a possible investigation by the Senate ethics committee after calling his colleagues “lapdogs” and the Senate a rubber stamp of President Duterte.

Senators from the majority bloc, perceived to be allies of Duterte, bristled at Trillanes’ jab on Monday, with some dismissing him as a desperate attention-seeker.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito suggested that the ethics panel investigate Trillanes “since he is becoming damaging to the institution and becoming destructive to the country.”

He described the comments of his colleague from the minority bloc as disrespectful and unparliamentary.

“He should be reminded that as a democratic institution, we in the Senate debate issues instead of hurling insults; we vote instead of calling each other names when we disagree,” Ejercito said.

He said all 23 senators were independent, and when they disagree on a number of issues, they maintain their respect for one another.

“I hope Senator Trillanes would do the same. I hope he will stop destroying this institution simply because he is rabidly against this administration,” Ejercito said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who chairs the committee, said the panel may investigate Trillanes motu propio but he prefers that a formal complaint be filed.

“I do not know his reasons for saying that. He should be careful in calling us names. I won’t dignify his statements but I’m reminding him that when you point a finger at others, three fingers point at you,” Sotto said.

Sen. Richard Gordon dismissed Trillanes as someone who craves attention.

Trillanes said he would welcome any ethics complaint filed against him.

“But here’s the thing, if Senator Ejercito believes that my statement that the Senate is becoming a lapdog of the Duterte administration is highly offensive yet sees nothing wrong with Duterte’s rape comments to the soldiers, then we really have a problem,” he said.

Trillanes earlier hit his colleagues from the majority, who he said have refused to investigate issues hounding Duterte, which shows the Senate has failed to fulfill its role as the “last bastion of democracy.”

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Rody, Leni briefly meet at PAF’s 70th anniversary

By Helen Flores and Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star)

Photo: President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo attend the 70th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force at Clark Air Base in Pampanga yesterday. The two exchanged handshakes. KRIZJOHN ROSALES

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo briefly met yesterday, days after they marked their first year in office.

The country’s top two officials were guests at the 70th founding anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) at Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

Duterte and Robredo were seated beside each other in their first encounter in over three months.

Before he began his speech, Duterte acknowledged Robredo.

“The Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, Ma’am, may I look at you for the third time?” the President told Robredo, who simply smiled.

According to Robredo’s close aide, the two officials did not talk and just shook hands.

Last March, Duterte invited Robredo and her children to dinner but has not yet followed up on his invitation.

The Vice President has said she looks forward to their dinner, saying she would like to take the opportunity to discuss her position on various issues affecting the country.

Robredo resigned from the Duterte Cabinet last December after she was barred from attending Cabinet meetings.

Air Force modernization
Duterte vowed to continue supporting the Air Force’s capability upgrade program as he cited the military’s role in fighting terrorism and defending the country’s territory.

The Chief Executive said the government would acquire more air assets as the country faces challenges posed by terrorism and external threats.

“I assure you that we will build on our past gains to further strengthen the Philippine Air Force. We will continue the ongoing modernization program by procuring additional attack and combat utility vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs to complement our already existing air assets,” he said.

“I call upon the men and women of the Philippine Air Force to live up to your oath with the highest degree of professionalism and competence. Together let us create an environment where our people can live in peace and prosperity.”

Duterte said the PAF plays a “crucial” role in the military’s efforts to retake Marawi City from Islamic State-inspired terrorists. He reported that more than 40 air assets and more than 400 Air Force officers and personnel have been deployed to the strife-torn city.

“As we wrap up our campaign to liberate Marawi, I am confident that the Philippine Air Force will once again take an active role in the rebuilding of the city and uplifting the spirit of those affected by the conflict,” the President said.

“We will rely on your valuable experience in humanitarian assistance and disaster response, especially in surveying war-torn areas and air lifting relief goods and rescuing victims and people stranded,” he added.

Duterte said the PAF plays a key role in preserving the Philippines’ national integrity through its reconnaissance missions and maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.

He said the PAF also augments internal security operations by providing air support to ground forces and assisting law enforcement agencies in surveillance and intelligence gathering operations.

The PAF has joined almost 2,000 counterinsurgency and law enforcement operations, five of which were related to Duterte’s war against illegal drugs and loose firearms.

Short prepared speech
Duterte usually delivers lengthy, freewheeling and extemporaneous speeches but decided to stick to his prepared lines yesterday because of the rain.

His speech lasted only about seven minutes, way shorter than the nearly hour-long speeches he is known to deliver.

“I will just read this so our ceremony will be short. It’s raining. I find it very unsettling sitting there and looking at you all wet,” the President said.

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Martial Law proclamation upheld

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) 

Photo: A majority or 11 of the 15 justices of the high court voted in regular session to dismiss the three consolidated petitions against Duterte’s decision to place the entire Mindanao under martial law through Proclamation 216. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte’s martial law declaration that set into motion a bloody campaign to retake a city besieged by terrorists is definitely legal, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled yesterday.

A majority or 11 of the 15 justices of the high court voted in regular session to dismiss the three consolidated petitions against Duterte’s decision to place the entire Mindanao under martial law through Proclamation 216.

The proclamation set the stage for the battle to recapture Marawi City from Maute terrorists who are believed to have links to the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS). Aiding the Maute militants are Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Isnilon Hapilon.

More than 400 have been killed since the start of the siege of the predominantly Muslim city on May 23.

“The Court dismissed the petitions by a vote of 11 of its members; three members voted to partially grant the petitions and one member voted to grant the petitions,” SC spokesman Theodore Te said in a press conference. “That’s all I am authorized to announce.”

Petitioners wanted Proclamation 216 revoked for lack of necessary factual basis.

Te said only after all of the 15 magistrates have submitted their respective opinions on the case today would their opinions be made public.

SC sources said three of the justices believed martial law was justified only in Marawi: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Alfredo Caguioa.

Only Justice Marvic Leonen believed there was no basis for martial law, the sources said.

The rest upheld Proclamation 216: Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Jose Mendoza, Diosdado Peralta, Bienvenido Reyes, Noel Tijam and Presbitero Velasco Jr.

While Te announced the outcome of the voting, he did not reveal details such as how each of the justices had voted.

President Duterte slammed those who did not uphold Proclamation 216.

“When you declare martial law, you have to use your coconut, the grey matter between your ears,” the President said in a chance interview in Bulacan, as he explained that the Mindanao-wide coverage was meant to prevent a spillover of the Maute threat.

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the development has made Duterte more determined to end the “evil of terrorism” in Mindanao.

“He will not waver in this commitment to end rebellion, the evil of terrorism and to liberate Marawi. With the Supreme Court decision, the whole government now stands together as one against a common enemy,” Abella said.

In dismissing the petitions against martial law, Abella said the SC has acknowledged that ending the Marawi siege was a “shared responsibility” of everyone.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had earlier voiced support for martial law in Mindanao.

“The High Court has spoken: Proclamation 216 is constitutional. The President is sworn to protect the Filipino people,” Abella said.

“We ask the public to give their full support and cooperation to local authorities. After all, securing communities is a responsibility that must be shared by everyone,” he said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said the SC, in its ruling, has affirmed the existence of a “real and present rebellion that threatens the lives of our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao, and their much-cherish liberties.”

Calida led the defense of Duterte’s proclamation before the high tribunal.

“I am grateful to the magistrates of the Honorable Supreme Court for allowing President Duterte to perform his prime duty of protecting the Filipino people,” Calida said in a statement.

“As the conscience of our nation, the Supreme Court did not sit idly to watch our country get dismembered. In fact, this decision shows that the Honorable Supreme Court is one with the President in protecting and defending our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

“Finally, I implore the whole country to unite and pray that the bloody war in Mindanao will end the soonest. It is my fervent hope that stability and lasting peace be attained in the whole Mindanao,” Calida stressed.

During oral arguments last June 13 to 15, Calida argued that the attack of the Maute group was not just an act of terror, but a clear rebellion and a plot to establish an Islamic State in Mindanao.

Checks and balance
Vice President Leni Robredo said the SC’s decision was “an affirmation of the democratic set in our Constitution.”

“This is an important component of the mandated checks and balances to martial law,” Robredo said in a statement, referring to the SC ruling.

“We expect that Congress will likewise fulfill its constitutional duty to review, on behalf of the people, the declaration of martial law in Mindanao,” she said.

As expected, senators from the majority bloc welcomed the SC ruling.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he had no doubt that Duterte “validly, with factual basis, declared martial law.”

“Nothing surprising with the SC decision. I actually expected that. The SC was just doing its job,” Pimentel said.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the SC ruling has put to rest all questions on the legality of the martial law declaration. “It is time to show a united front against terrorism and lawless violence and, more importantly, begin the urgent work of rebuilding the communities in Marawi City,” he said.

“The intention is to contain the area of conflict and to put an end to the rebellion by the terrorist Maute group. No threat to basic freedom and Constitution is functioning. The real intent is to crush terrorism and rebellion, and nothing else,” Ejercito said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order, said the factual basis for the proclamation is clear enough “that there could not have been any other ruling as overwhelmingly decisive as the one rendered by the SC.”

“I knew we did right in supporting the martial law proclamation in Mindanao when we debated on it in caucus and in plenary,” Lacson said.

“I can only hope that none of our Senate colleagues will call the magistrates lapdogs and cowards of the administration,” he said, referring to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s comment on fellow senators.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said he felt relieved on learning of the decision as it could help government troops battle “these Maute terrorists and their affiliates, without a cloud of doubt on their mandate to do so.”

“The government must now focus and concentrate on getting rid of this menace in the whole of Mindanao and start the rehabilitation plan of all the affected areas so that we may achieve normalcy and ultimately economic development and inclusive growth in the region,” Zubiri said.

He cited the magistrates “who showed judicial probity, independence and progressive thinking in their exercise of judicial review powers.”

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said with the ruling, Duterte now has a free hand “to use all necessary means to crush the Maute terrorists, once and for all.”

“Now that the SC has spoken, it is time to set aside politics and work together in reclaiming Marawi and bringing the city back to its glory,” Gatchalian said.

Sen. Joel Villanueva also welcomed the ruling but stressed the need to consider the other issues raised in the decision, particularly the scope of the martial law declaration.

Sen. Richard Gordon said the benefits of the SC ruling would be truly felt after the elimination of the Maute group. “The winner must always be the people,” Gordon said.

He said it is time for the government to focus on “fixing the situation” in Marawi City and the rest of Mindanao.

“Now that the President has the support of the court and Congress, he should use that support, not to be overconfident, but certainly because we believe that there is a situation occurring in the country that must be solved,” Gordon said.

Sen. Sonny Angara said he went around Mindanao last week and talked with some evacuees, who told him they felt safe under martial law.

“I think the 1987 Constitution has enough safeguards to protect the people from possible abuses,” Angara said.

“We call on our government to fast-track all efforts to bring Marawi back to its feet. This crisis has resulted in human cost that cannot be calculated in pesos and we must ensure that normalcy in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao will be restored,” he said.

Extension
Senators also believe the favorable SC ruling would make it less difficult for Duterte to convince Congress to extend martial law beyond July 22.

Pimentel stressed the ruling only justified the declaration but not any extension of martial law, which he said was “possible.”

Gordon warned any unnecessary deadline to end martial law may do more harm than good, even as he believes that lawmakers will support an extension.

“Congress saw it, they called it, they approved it and because there’s a lot of people suffering there right now, it is in the interest of the country that we keep it there, we keep the fighting there and we must finish it there so it won’t spread,” he said. “I’m not confident that it will end soon.”

Villanueva stressed there are several issues that need to be clarified before martial law is expanded or extended.

“We have to ask what it has accomplished relative to the problem of terrorism in Mindanao,” he said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, said that while he respects the ruling of the Supreme Court, he wanted Malacañang to consider the opinions of the three justices about limiting the scope of martial law to Marawi City.

House allies of President Duterte commended the Supreme Court for upholding the 60-day martial law.

House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Reps. Karlo Alexei Nograles (Davao), Gus Tambunting (Parañaque), Alfred Vargas (Quezon City), Harry Roque (Kabayan), Joel Mayo Almario (Davao Oriental) and Aniceto Bertiz III (ACTS-OFW) all welcomed the ruling.

“It’s a very convincing and definitive ruling, not to mention an overwhelming one. We thank our esteemed magistrates for acknowledging the President’s powers, and that of Congress as well, being an independent and co-equal branch,” Abu said.

“This leaves no doubt that the decision of the President was correct and he should be commended for his swift and decisive action,” Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said.

“The ruling is good for the country. It avoids a constitutional crisis. And it recognizes that the problem in Mindanao is complex, the solution to which is something that the judiciary must not impede the executive from achieving,” Tambuting maintained.

“I support the SC’s exercise of judicial restraint in its validation of Proclamation 216. I’m happy that it respected and acknowledged the information that is readily available to the executive, which the high tribunal does not have access to,” Roque stressed.

For his part, Almario said the SC verdict was “an expected decision.”

“The peace and order situation when martial law was declared called for it, and it squarely satisfied the conditions set forth by the 1987 Constitution,” he said.

“The timely declaration of martial law has once again showed the wisdom and determination of the President to curb extremism and lawlessness which will not only affect Maranaos but all Filipinos,” Bertiz emphasized. – With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy, Helen Flores, Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez

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