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Scientists complete drilling task in South China Sea

ABOARD JOIDES RESOLUTION –Scientists on Tuesday completed the first drilling task of an expedition to the South China Sea.
The hole, identified as U1499A, has reached 3,770 meters below sea level, for collection of sediment samples.
According to Sun Zhen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, a preliminary lithologic study was conducted on sediment believed to have been formed eight million years ago.
A second hole, U1499B, will be close to the first.
A total of 33 scientists from China, the United States, France and other countries boarded the U.S. drilling ship JOIDES Resolution on February 8, and arrived at the drilling site last Tuesday.
As part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), they will explore the lithosphere extension during the continental breakup, by drilling at four sites in the northern area of the South China Sea to a depth of up to 4,000 meters.
The study will contribute to understanding of how marginal basins grow.
Since joining the IODP, China has played a major role in expeditions to the South China Sea in 1999 and 2014, collecting samples for studying climate change and basin formation. (PNA/Xinhua)

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Filipino with fake Malaysian ID charged with recruiting IS terrorists

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia – A Filipino man was charged at the magistrate’s court here with recruiting Islamic State (IS) terrorists and possessing a fake Malaysian MyKad (identity card).
No plea was recorded from Nurhan Sahi Hakim, 32, who hails from Zamboanga in the Philippines, for the charge of knowingly recruiting another person into an IS terrorists group at the arrival hall of the Kota Kinabalu International airport (KKIA) on Jan 13, this year.
The offence, under Section 130E of the Penal Code, is punishable by imprisonment of up to 30 years and a fine upon conviction.

Magistrate Jessica Ombou Kakayun fixed March 8, for the case to be mention pending forensic report. No bail was offered.
However, Nurhan was sentenced to 30 months jail and fined RM1,000 in default three months jail for possessing a fake Malaysian MyKad.
Magistrate Kakayun also ordered him to be referred to the Immigration Department after serving his sentence.

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Duterte should retract 'threat' vs suspects' lawyers, HRW says

By Kristian Javier (philstar.com) | 

A human rights activist holds a candle for the victims of extrajudicial killings around the country in the wake of the "War on Drugs" campaign by President Rodrigo Duterte Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 in suburban Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Philippines. The "war on drugs" campaign, which saw hundreds of mostly poor victims, has been condemned by human rights groups including the United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon. AP/Bullit Marquez


MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte should renounce a statement that has been perceived as a threat against lawyers of alleged drug dealers, a human rights group said.

In a statement early Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said that the president should reaffirm the rights of the suspects to due process and to access to legal counsel after President Duterte, in a speech on December 7, said that when he was a prosecutor, suspects were able to post bail because they had "good, high-profile lawyers."

He said that the suspects went back to crime when they were released on bail.

"Even their lawyers, I will include them," Duterte then said.

"Duterte’s threats against lawyers and human rights defenders constitute a dangerous extension of his abusive ‘war on drugs’ that has already resulted in more than 5,000 killings," HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said.

The rights to due process and to legal counsel are in the 1987 Constitution.
Threats against rights advocates

In the past, Duterte has also threatened human rights advocates, saying they are a hindrance to the war on drugs.

"Sabi ng human rights, pinapatay ko raw, sabi ko ‘sige na maghinto tayo, paramihin natin.’ Para pag panahon ng harvest time mas marami na tuloy mamatay, isali ko na kayo kasi kayo ang nagpalaki eh," Duterte said in his statement.

Kine said that the threats made by Duterte show that he will extend his "abusive war on drugs" from targeting criminals to targeting those who object to it.

He added that unless Duterte takes those threats back, "his government will bury the rule of law along with the thousands of suspected criminals killed since he took office on June 30,"

Meanwhile, Presidential Secretary Martin Andanar said that the president's "threats" should not be taken seriously as they are just figures of speech.

READ: Palace: Duterte 'threat' vs rights advocates a figure of speech

"It was just out of frustration. The president did not really mean na gagawin niya talaga yun," Andanar said in an interview with radio dzMM.

He said that that is just how Duterte speaks. 

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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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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.

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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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Filipino mayor on Duterte's narco-list killed in prison shootout

espinosa110516The mayor was one of some 160 officials Duterte put on a so-called "narco-list" as a war on drugs that has claimed more than 3,000 lives accelerates. Another mayor was killed in an alleged shootout with police.
Filipino police shot dead a mayor and another man in jail in an apparent gun battle as they were searching for weapons and drugs,. It was the second narcotics-linked death of a local politician in a week.
Rolando Espinosa, mayor of Albuera town in Leyte, turned himself into authorities in August after President Rodrigo Duterte publically named him and his son Kerwin drug traffickers and gave "shoot on sight" orders to police if the two resisted arrest. The mayor was later released, only to be indicted and imprisoned last month.

Espinosa was one of some 160 officials Duterte put on a so-called "narco-list" as he accelerates a war on drugs that has claimed more than 3,000 lives.
Police said they recovered two pistols, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia from the prison raid. It remains unclear how the mayor and other man acquired the weapons and drugs in prison.
The president's office called Espinosa's death "unfortunate" and pledged to investigate.
Espinosa denied any links to drugs, but his son Kerwin is an alleged drug kingpin in the Eastern Visayas region. He was arrested by Abu Dhabi police last month and is expected to be extradited.
Last week, Samsudin Dimaukom, the mayor of another town, was killed in an alleged firefight with police that also left nine of his men dead in the southern Philippines. Duterte also named him on the "narco list."

During more than a quarter of a century as mayor of Davao, the country's second-largest city, Duterte built a reputation for being hard on crime, a policy that earned him criticism for rights abuses but also praise for turning Davao into a safe city with better services.
Duterte took over the presidency in June promising to go after the drug trade, which he says is a pandemic that has corrupted politics, the military and ruined lives.
The extent of the crackdown involving both police and vigilantes has led to warnings from the West and human rights organizations over the rule of law and extrajudicial killings.
Undeterred, Duterte has vowed to press on with the drug war and verbally assaulted his critics, including US President Barack Obama.
While a controversial figure abroad over the drug war and caustic rhetoric, Duterte remains popular at home. According to a poll last month, after three months in office his approval rating stood at 86 percent.

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