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Opinion & Community

Lawmakers file criminal case vs De Lima

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Ronnie Dayan and Leila de Lima Photo file/composite

MANILA - A day after filing its third complaint before the Senate Ethics Committee against embattled Senator Leila De Lima, the House of Representatives (HOR), through its leaders, filed a similar complaint for violation of the Revised Penal Code against the lawmaker with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The complaint filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Justice Committee chairman Reynaldo Umali is in connection with De Lima's advise to former lover and driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan to snub the HOR probe into the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) illegal drug trade, where De Lima supposedly directed high-profile inmates to sell huge volumes of methamphetamine hydrochloride ("shabu") to fund her senatorial campaign.
The four-page complaint charged De Lima with violation of Article 50 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), which pertains to "disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly, its committees or subcommittees, by the Constitutional Commissions, its committees, subcommittees or divisions."


The same article also provides that "[t]he same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who shall restrain another from attending as a witness, or who shall induce disobedience to a summon or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official."
"As an incumbent Senator, former Secretary of Justice and a lawyer, advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend and/or appear in the House Inquiry for which he was duly summoned is tantamount to inducing disobedience to summons issued by Congress, of which she is a sitting member," the complaint read.
The complaint cited the following exchange of text messages between De Lima and Dayan's daughter, Hannah Mae, revealed during the HOR hearing on November 24, 2016, when the Justice Committee reopened its inquiry following Dayan's arrest in Brgy. San Felipe, San Juan, La Union:


"Hannah Mae: Hi Tita. Good pm po. Mi pinapatanong po si pah. Mo baket daw po mi dumating na supwena sa kanya at ano daw po ggawin nia?
Respondent: Pakisabi sa kanya magtago lang muna siya… Kagagawan yan nila Speaker Alvarez at dikta ni Digong. Pagpipyestahan lang siya at kaming dalawa kapag mag-appear siya sa hearing na yan


Hannah Mae: Hindi naman po ba siya huhulihin kapag hindi siya pumunta?
Respondent: Di ba nagtatago naman siya?"

In a news conference following the filing of the complaint, Umali also scored De Lima for calling the House inquiry a sham proceeding and "kangaroo court."


On the part of the DOJ, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre gave the assurance that the complaint will be handled "without fear or favor."
Other complaints are pending with the department against De Lima, Dayan, and several others for violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, still in connection with the NBP illegal drug trade.
De Lima accused the partymates and allies of President Duterte of persecuting her for hitting hard on the President's war on drugs.  

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Imelda Schweighart on being caught criticizing Miss Earth 2016 on video: "I feel violated."

Former Miss Philippines Earth Imelda Schweighart expressed her dismay over the viral video where she was heard calling newly-crowned Miss Earth Katherine Espin a retokada beauty.

Speaking about Katherine, Imelda exclaimed in the said video: “Yung nanalo peke ilong, peke baba, peke boobs! Miss Earth, dapat natural!”
Read: Miss PH Earth 2016 Imelda Schweighart takes a swipe at Miss Ecuador

Asked how she feels about it making rounds online, Imelda replied, “I feel bad for Katherine kasi she will watch it over and over again and people will bother her with that over and over again.

“It's online and you know...”

Imelda was interviewed by CNN Philippines' Pinky Webb this Thursday, November 3.

When the video in question was played in the studio, Imelda gushed, “Oh my gosh! There's the video again.”

Imelda further stated that she felt bad that fellow Filipinos were the ones who circulated it online.

“Yeah, I feel violated.

“Why would my fellow Filipinos put that video online? Like, why would you even do that?”

IMELDA'S RESIGNATION. It can be recalled that Imelda immediately resigned as Miss Philippines Earth after she drew flak from social media because of the said viral video.

Imelda also issued a public apology to Katherine in a separate interview.

Read: Imelda Schweighart resigns as Miss Philippines Earth

“If it's a crime to tell the truth, I'm sorry.

“I didn't mean to offend Miss Ecuador… I don't know her enough but she was my roommate.”

REGRETS. Meanwhile, Imelda claimed that she was surprised that she didn't make it to Miss Earth 2016's Top 16 finalists.

Based on her latest interview, the former Miss Philippines Earth representative said, “I was expecting I would get in kasi I'm on point on everything.

“For example, my walk, I studied it — my custom-made walk for Miss Earth pageant.

“I was sad I cannot perform it. It was so amazing...

“Sayang because a lot of people could learn from that technique.”

Imelda maintained that even Carousel Productions told her that she did well during the Q&A portion.

“Aside from all the controversies that happened to me, I feel like that happened [pageant loss] because people somehow didn't want a three-peat.

“Some people were praying sana walang three peat. Maybe that's were I got anxiety attacks with that energy. Because I'm a very, very sensitive person.

“Yeah, I was getting the vibe.”

Hosting comeback: Kris Aquino to interview Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The “Queen of All Media” Kris Aquino on Sunday revealed that she will return as a television host starting with an interview with President Rodrigo Duterte.

The actress-host has stopped hosting seven months ago due to health reasons.

“(I spent) seven months of not hosting on TV. I promised myself, babalik ako for a once in a lifetime, one-on-one interview,” Kris said in an Instagram post.

Kris posted the photo of a teaser her anticipated interview comeback titled “Kris at Duterte.” It will be aired over TV5 and state-owned People’s Television-4 networks following her seven months of absence.

Duterte is the successor of Kris’s brother, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and the rival of Mar Roxas, the presidential candidate she campaigned for the May 9 elections.

The Kris-Duterte sit-down was also shared by host organization Go Negosyo on Twitter

Last September, Kris confirmed that she formally left ABS-CBN, her network for 20 years.

She later on announced that she will do a project with APT, a subsidiary Tape Inc. The latter is also the producer of noontime show “Eat Bulaga.” — Rosette Adel

 

Miss Universe 2017 Winner: Duterte Opposes Harvey’s Presence; Filipino To Co-Host Coronation Night; More Details Revealed!

Miss Universe 2017 winner — Everything is set for the upcoming Miss Universe pageant. The Philippines will be the 2017 host for this prestigious event. Read on to know what Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte feels about Steve Harvey as Miss Universe’s host.

STEVE HARVEY REMAINS HOST FOR MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT
Everyone is excited to find out who among the Miss Universe candidates will take home the crown in 2017. However, the Manila Standard reports that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte does not approve of Steve Harvey hosting the upcoming pageant. The publication reports that Philippine’s Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Teo said that Harvey will remain as Miss Universe host. This is because Harvey has a five-year contract with the organizers of the beauty pageant.

Filipino militants ‘abduct German, kill wife on yacht'

A German yachtsman is believed to have been abducted by Filipino Islamist militants, the Philippines' army says.
The naked body of a woman found on an abandoned yacht is thought to be his wife, army spokesman Filemon Tan said.
In an audio message, the leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, which often kidnaps for ransom, said it was behind the raid, the military spokesman added.
The couple, Jurgen Kantner and Sabine Merz, were held captive for more than a month by Somali pirates in 2008.
Their passports were found on board the yacht, Mr Tan said.
The German authorities have yet to confirm the incident.
Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest and most violent jihadist groups in the southern Philippines, known for its brutality, including beheadings.
In recent months it has been behind a series of attacks at sea between the Philippines and Malaysia, with tug boats and fishing vessels intercepted and their crews kidnapped and held for ransom.

Read more...

Australia denies offering visa-free privilege to Filipinos

MANILA - The Australian Embassy in Manila has denied reports claiming that Filipinos can enter Australia visa-free beginning 2017.
In a statement on their official website, the Embassy emphasized that Filipino visitors still need to apply for an Australian visa before being allowed entry.
"The Embassy is aware of a hoax/scam suggesting that visa-free options for Filipino nationals will be available from January 2017. This is a scam and potential travelers to Australia must have a valid Australian visa," it said.
The article being disproved by the Embassy cited an alleged bilateral visa agreement between the Australian and Philippine governments to simplify travel barriers between the two countries.
Correct instructions for Filipinos intending to travel to Australia are available on the embassy's website.

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US terror warning for Philippines region popular with Australian tourists

Bangkok: Terrorist groups are planning kidnappings on central Philippines islands popular with Australian tourists, including parts of the business and tourism hub of Cebu, the United States has warned.

The warning - repeated by the Australia government on its smartraveller.gov.au website - comes only days after a report that South-east Asia is facing a growing risk of extremist violence, especially from the southern Philippines, where a handful of militant Islamist groups have sworn allegiance to Islamic State.

The US warned foreigners to avoid the southern regions of Cebu, one of the nation's most popular tourist sites because of its idyllic beaches, spectacular diving and whale watching.

"The US embassy alerts US citizens that terrorist groups are planning to conduct kidnappings in areas frequented by foreigners on the southern portion of Cebu island," the advisory said.

The embassy identified Dalaguete and Santander on Cebu and nearby Sumilon island, a short boat ride from the tourist hot-spots of Bohol and Dumaguete.

The warning indicates that the notorious kidnapping-for-ransom group Abu Sayyaf is roaming more widely from its bases in the islands of Jolo and Basilan.

It comes after a surge of kidnappings in the southern Philippines which included the first attack on a cargo ship, despite Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's stepped-up military offensive against the militants.

Formed with the backing of al-Qaeda in the 1990s, Abu Sayyaf has reaped millions of dollars from kidnappings for ransom, targeting Westerners, Filipinos and Malaysians.

The group beheaded two Canadian hostages earlier this year.

The Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict think tank warned in a report last week that regional law enforcement agencies, which retain a strong national orientation, are unprepared for the new threat from Islamic State which it said has "deepened cooperation among extremist groups in south-east Asia".

Philippine groups have links to other parts of the region, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, and IS has endorsed a Philippine-based militant as "amir" or commander for south-east Asia, the report said.

"The Philippines is important because as far as the IS leadership is concerned, it is the extension of the caliphate in the region," it said.

Sidney Jones, the institute's director, said that

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Philippines says China still guarding key shoal but Filipino fisherman back

MANILA – Philippine aerial surveillance showed Chinese coast guard ships were still guarding a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, but they allowed Filipinos to fish “unmolested” for the first time in years, the defense secretary said Sunday.

The return of Filipino fishermen to Scarborough Shoal, which China effectively seized in 2012, was “a most welcome development” because it brings back their key source of livelihood, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

China granted access to the tiny, uninhabited shoal 123 nautical miles (228 kilometers) from the northern Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte reached out to Beijing and met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders this month. After his China trip, Duterte announced without elaborating that Filipinos may be able to return to the shoal soon.

A Philippine Navy plane spotted at least four Chinese coast guard ships around the shoal during a surveillance flight over the weekend, Lorenzana said, adding that an earlier report by the Philippine coast guard that the Chinese had left the area was incorrect.

“Flybys of our planes reported Chinese coast guard ships are still there but our fishermen were fishing unmolested,” Lorenzana said.

It’s unclear how long China would keep the shoal open to Filipinos or if there were any conditions attached.

Duterte made clear that the dispute over the shoal, which the Philippines calls Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag and the Chinese refer to as Huangyan Island, was far from over. He said he insisted in his talks with Chinese leaders that the shoal belonged to the Philippines, but that the Chinese also asserted their claim of ownership.

Since 2012, Chinese coast guard ships had driven Filipino fishermen away from the area, sometimes with the use of water cannons. Farther south in the Spratly Islands, China went on to construct seven man-made islands in recent years despite protests from other claimants and the U.S., which insists on freedom of navigation in what it considers international waters.

The new development brought joy to the first Filipinos who ventured back to Scarborough in flotillas of small fishing boats.

“We’re happy that we were able to sail back there,” said Gil Bauya, who returned Saturday with a huge catch of red snappers and other fish to Cato village in the northwestern province of Pangasinan.

“They just let us fish,” Bauya said, referring to three Chinese coast guard ships fishermen saw at the shoal from a distance. “We were waiting what they would do, but they didn’t do anything like deploying small rubber boats to chase us like they used to do.”

After three days of fishing, Bauya said they ran out of ice to preserve their catch and had to sail back home for the All Souls’ Day holiday. Amid the festive air in Cato, where villagers helped them unload their bumper catch, Bauya said he and his crewmen plan to travel back to Scarborough in the coming week.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Beijing on Saturday that China’s withdrawal from Scarborough Shoal would be welcomed by Washington.

He said it would be consistent with an international arbitration ruling in July that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea. The ruling said that both Filipinos and Chinese can fish at the shoal, but China ignored it.

Read more...

Chinese coast guards share food with Filipino fishers

filipinofishermanchinese110216SUBIC, ZAMBALES—This was unthinkable months back: Chinese coast guards, who used to drive away Filipino fishermen, shared their food and cigarettes with Filipinos fishing at Panatag Shoal last week.

“Chinese Coast Guard vessels approached the boats of our fellow fishermen but only to share their food, liquor and cigarettes,” said Wilson Almadin, 41, crew member of a fishing boat that returned to this town from Panatag on Monday.
Shared catch with Chinese
Almadin also said other Filipino fishermen shared some of their catch with the Chinese coast guards.

Eight groups of fishermen from Zambales province sailed to Panatag Shoal, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, on Oct. 26 and found they
could enter the area without interference from the Chinese Coast Guard, which had been blockading the rich fishing ground since 2012.
Tensions ease up
Almadin belonged to the group of boat captain Ronald Giobalane, 46, which left Subic on Oct. 27 after learning that Filipinos were able to fish near the shoal.
According to Almadin, the Chinese appeared to prove that tensions at the shoal had eased up.
“We’re now free to fish around the shoal. There’s no tension there …. As long as we will be allowed to stay and fish around the shoal, I think we can coexist with the Chinese Coast Guard,” he said.

“There are four Chinese Coast Guard vessels still patrolling around the shoal. But they did not seem to mind our presence,” Giobalane told the Inquirer shortly after docking his fishing boat “MB” at the fish port here on Monday.
Fishermen who used to frequent the shoal said the area teemed with different kinds of fish such as talakitok, yellow fin tuna, skipjack, blue marlin and red grouper, which are usually not found elsewhere.
Panatag Shoal is a triangular chain of reefs and rocks surrounding a lagoon. It has a perimeter of 46 kilometers and an area of 150 square kilometers.
Arbitral court ruling
The shoal is located 240 km from the coastline of Zambales but China seized it after a two-month standoff with the Philippines in 2012.
The Chinese Coast Guard cordoned off the shoal, driving away Filipino fishermen in spite of a July 12 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China had no legal basis for its claim to almost all of the South China Sea.
China state visit
President Duterte discussed the return of Filipino fishermen to the shoal with the Chinese officials during his state visit to China last month.
“Our President has been true to his promise to help us return to the shoal and we’re thankful for that. We’re hoping that Filipinos will no longer fear being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard,” said Ronald Polo, another fisherman.

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