Senators condemn UST law student's death due to alleged hazing

HAZING. UST law student Horacio Castillo III allegedly died due to injuries from fraternity hazing. Photo from Castillo's Facebook profile 


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senators condemned the death of Horacio “Atyo” Castillo III, a freshman law student at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), due to alleged fraternity hazing initiation rites.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III expressed sadness over the "useless death" of Castillo by men he wanted to call brothers.


"Useless death. [He was] killed by people he wanted to be associated with, for life. What a very sad development," Pimentel said in a text message.

Senator Joel Villanueva, an alumnus of UST, expressed concern over the incident and called on the school to conduct an investigation.

“We certainly condemn this senseless act of violence and join Mr Castillo's family in mourning for his death that not only ended his life but also his dreams and aspirations,” Villanueva said in a statement.

“As a UST alumnus, I am deeply concerned at this recent event and urge the UST and the proper authorities to investigate and hold the people accountable for this unfortunate incident involving our fellow Thomasian,” he added.

On Sunday, September 17, the body of Castillo was found wrapped in a blanket on a pavement in Tondo, Manila. He was declared dead on arrival at the Chinese General Hospital.

Castillo died due to injuries his parents believed were from fraternity hazing. The father said his son was recruited to the Aegis Juris Fraternity – a recognized organization based at the UST law school. (READ: Aegis Juris fraternity members barred from entering UST)

“No type of brotherhood can ever equate to the sanctity of life. And words will never be able to define such violence that has transpired in an esteemed academic institution. Let it always be known that violence has no room in an institution that upholds Christian values and ideals,” Villanueva said.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said UST could not evade the issue because the fraternity implicated is a duly-recognized organization.

"The fact that the fraternity being implicated in this hazing death is recognized by the university itself as a legitimate student organization means that UST cannot pull the same tricks used by other schools in the past to evade responsibility for the criminal actions of their students,” Gatchalian said.

Senator Gregorio Honasan, for his part, recalled the death of his brother from fraternity hazing and called for vigilance from all groups.

"I remember 41 years ago when my youngest brother Mel died from fraternity hazing. My parents forgave those responsible; hoping and praying that it would help eradicate hazing. It was not to be," Honasan said.

"More teeth in our laws and strict enforcement, vigilance from all sectors: parents, school authorities and students, recognized fraternities, public information and education will help respond to hazing as a painful public menace," he added.

New Anti-hazing law

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Gatchalian have renewed their calls for the passage of the bill seeking to amend the 22-year-old Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995.

Sotto, Gatchalian, and Honasan have filed their respective bills in the 17th Congress, which all seek stiffer punishments for violators.

Sotto filed Senate Bill 223, which seeks to impose the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua or imprisonment from 20 years and 1 day to 40 years.

“That is why I have filed a bill last Congress and refilled now precisely because of the incidents like this. We need stiffer penalties for everyone involved including officers of the fraternities,” Sotto said in a text message.

Gatchalian's measure, Senate Bill 199, seeks to repeal the old law to create a “more comprehensive” anti-hazing measure by providing a more prohibitive definition of hazing.

"The Anti-Hazing Law must be overhauled to eliminate loop holes and ensure that all persons responsible for these cruel and senseless hazing deaths will be held accountable to the full extent of the law. It's time for the Senate to take up this proposed legislation," Gatchalian said in a statement.

His bill also seeks to expand the scope of liabilities and increase the penalties for hazing offenders, as well as to require schools to play a central role in hazing prevention and awareness.

All measures are still pending in the committee on public order and dangerous drugs led by Senator Panfilo Lacson. –


Fariñas to enforcers: Don't apprehend lawmakers for minor traffic violations

TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS. House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas cities parliamentary immunity from minor traffic violation apprehension in a House transport committee hearing on Monday, September 18. File photo 

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas asked traffic enforcement agencies on Monday, September 18, to excuse lawmakers when they commit minor traffic violations on their way to work.

During a hearing of the House committee on transportation, Fariñas said getting apprehended on the streets prevent officials from performing their legislative functions. (READ: What laws help keep road users safe in the Philippines?)


Citing parliamentary immunity, he asked the officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTR) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to give leeway to representatives who commit minor traffic violations on their way to Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to attend a session. (READ: WHO urges motorists: #NoMoreExcuses on road safety

"'Pag nagpakilalang congressman siya at maipakitang talagang congressman, huwag 'nyong dalhin sa presinto. Kasi 'pag dinala sa presinto, hindi na siya makakapag-perform ng kanyang functions," he said.

(If he introduces himself as a congressman, and proves he is one, don't bring him to the precinct. Because if you bring him to the precinct, he won't be able to perform his functions.)

"Halimbawa eh nakasagasa. Nasugatan 'yung tao. 'Pag nagpakilalang congressman yan, eh 'di 'tsaka na huhulihin," explained Fariñas. (For example, his car hits a person, and the person is injured. If he introduces himself as a congressman, then arrest him later.)

He said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez may surrender the violator to authorities after the session.

"Ang aming rules po, 'pag natapos ang session, isu-surrender ni Speaker 'yung member sa inyo," he said. (Our rule here is, when the session ends, the Speaker of the House will surrender the member to you.) 

Under Article IV Section 11 of the Philippine Constitution, a senator or a member of the House of Representatives is entitled to immunity from arrest when session is ongoing: "A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than 6 years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in Congress or in any committee thereof."

"Kung sasabihin niya na importante 'yung hinahabol niya sa Kongreso, makikita 'nyo naman 'yun. Asikasuhin 'nyo na para matutugunan namin ang aming trabaho," Fariñas said.

(If the representative says he has to catch an important matter in Congress, you will see that anyway. Assist him so we can accomplish our tasks.)

According to an MMDA report, Quezon City, Manila, and Makati have the most number of traffic-related incidents recorded since 2013. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crash incidents in the Philippines)

In 2016, the MMDA also found there were 109,322 road crash incidents in the National Capital Region. – Aika Rey/


Aegis Juris, the UST frat allegedly behind latest hazing death

VICTIM. Horacio Castillo III died due to injuries allegedly sustained during hazing initiation rites by Aegis Juris fraternity. Photo of Castillo from his Facebook page 

MANILA, Philippines – The spotlight is once again on fraternities, as the practice of hazing in initiation rites led to another student's death. 

On Sunday, September 17, the body of Horacio Castillo III was found wrapped in a blanket on a pavement in Tondo, Manila. He was declared dead on arrival at the Chinese General Hospital.


Castillo, a first-year student at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law, died due to injures his parents believed he sustained in fraternity hazing.Thefather said his son was recruited to the Aegis Juris Fraternity – a recognized organization based in the UST law school (READ: Aegis Juris fraternity members barred from entering UST)

‘Dynamic and active’ law fraternity

According to its profile in the law school’s website, the fraternity was established in December 1979 by “25 young, idealistic, brave founders.”

Aegis Juris, which literally means “Shield of Justice,” was described as “the most dynamic and active law fraternity” in UST. It is grounded on 5 principles: academic excellence, equality, godliness, integrity, and service.

The fraternity is one of the 8 non-academic organizations within the UST Faculty of Civil Law, and one of the 3 fraternities. Its sister sorority is Regina Legis et Juris Sorority.

“The impressive narrative of this fraternity, born out of a vision almost 3 decades ago, continues to astound and defy all expectations,” the profile reads. “It has weathered its share of gust and storm yet the Aegean knight bearing the shield and the torch with a sword of gold continues on its journey inviting believers to its cause welcoming brothers to its halls.”

As one of the oldest law fraternities in the university, Aegis Juris is said to have produced the largest number of lawyers within the UST Faculty of Civil Law.

It even earned the name “the lawyer factory” for producing many legal professionals working in various government agencies, private companies, and other law firms.

“They are living proof of the quality of lawyers the fraternity contribute to the law profession,” it says.

Its roster of members include current UST law dean Nilo Divina and former Isabela Representative Edwin Uy, both from the Divina and Uy Law Offices, and Court of Appeals Justice Gabriel Robeniol, among others.

‘Do no injustice’

NO INJUSTICE. The frat's motto can be seen in its now down official website.

NO INJUSTICE. The frat's motto can be seen in its now down official website. 

Aegis Juris’ motto – “Do No Injustice, Suffer No Injustice” – is splashed across the top portion of its official website, which could no longer be accessed as of Monday afternoon, September 18.

This call to prevent injustice, however, doesn’t ring true with the death of the fraternity’s latest recruit, a law freshman who, according to his father, was assured that Aegis Juris does not subscribe to hazing.

Faculty of Civil Law dean Nilo Divina, in a memorandum released on Monday, placed all members and officers of Aegis Juris under preventive suspension “to ensure unobstructed investigation" into Castillo’s death.

Divina added that they "would not be allowed to enter the campus or the Faculty of Civil Law or attend classes under further orders.”

This is not the first time he had to suspend members of Aegis Juris.

In 2016, some members were suspended following an altercation with members of the Gamma Delta Epsilon fraternity during the bar exams. The fight was attributed to frat rivalry and 7 Aegis Juris brothers were arrested by the Manila Police.

UST, in a statement regarding the death of Castillo, vowed “that the perpetrators be meted the appropriate sanctions and brought to justice.”

“We condemn in no uncertain terms hazing in any form or manner. Violence has no place in an academic institution, particularly in the University of Santo Tomas that values and promotes charity and compassion,” it said.

“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the perpetrators be meted the appropriate sanctions and brought to justice," UST added.

Deaths despite anti-hazing law

The 22-year-old Castillo joins the long list of students killed in hazing, which has long been practiced in organizations across the Philippines despite the existence of the Anti-Hazing Law. (READ: What's happening to hazing cases in the Philippines?)

Passed in 1995, the law stemmed from the death of Ateneo law student Leonardo "Lenny" Villa in 1991.

But there is only one conviction after 22 years.

In 2015, the Supreme Court (SC) found two members of Alpha Phi Omega fraternity guilty of violating the law for the hazing and death of University of the Philippines-Los Baños student Marlon Villanueva in 2006.


De Lima on Estrada’s bail: We may as well decriminalize plunder

Sen. Leila de Lima. (File photo by MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Congress might as well do away with the crime of plunder and the antigraft law for being useless following the release from detention of former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who was allowed to post bail on plunder and graft charges, according to Sen. Leila de Lima.
Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), also assailed the release of Estrada, saying President Rodrigo Duterte’s anticorruption campaign is a farce.
Estrada was accused of conspiring with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in funneling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2004 to 2010 into alleged ghost projects in exchange for P183 million in kickbacks.
In a statement, De Lima said: “The exoneration of plunderers under this administration is almost complete.”
She cited the outcome of plunder cases of certain personalities that went in their favor under the Duterte administration.

She was referring to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and even the Marcoses, whose cases are reportedly under review in exchange for the return of their hidden wealth.
Plunder is supposed to be a nonbailable offense.
Voting 3-2, the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan accepted Estrada’s argument in his motion that the prosecution had failed to prove that he was the “main plunderer,” or mastermind in the pork barrel scam.
Arroyo used the same argument in winning an acquittal from the Supreme Court in 2016 on charges she plundered funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“ … (C)ongress might as well decriminalize the crime of plunder and repeal the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because they have become useless and worthless under (Mr.) Duterte and his virtual amnesty program for the country’s top plunderers,” De Lima said.
The senator is detained on drug charges at the same facility in Camp Crame, where Estrada and former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile used to be detained and where former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. is still being held.

As justice secretary of the Aquino administration, De Lima led the prosecution of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla in connection with the alleged misuse of their pork barrel funds and of Napoles.
She said Revilla and the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, Napoles, might also be released.
False promise
In a statement, Sison said Mr. Duterte’s promise of anticorruption drive was false.
“By undermining the corruption charges against the big shots, Mr. Duterte has been paying his political debts to the Arroyo, Marcos and Estrada dynasties for the Luzon bailiwick votes that added to his own Mindanao bailiwick vote,” he said.
Like De Lima, Sison also expected Napoles to be released.
“Napoles can be expected to get off the hook, too, because she contributed a huge amount to the campaign of Mr. Duterte,” he said.
The CPP founder said the Filipino people were “victims of one corrupt regime after another.”
De Lima also found “doubly alarming” the “trademark impunity” of the executive branch finding its way into the judiciary.
She said the release of Estrada, who got out after three years of detention as he awaited the outcome of his plunder trial, came after his bail was initially denied by the Sandiganbayan on the ground that the evidence against him was strong.
“ … (A) reconstituted Sandiganbayan division with Duterte appointees suddenly finds cause to set Estrada free not because they now find the evidence weak, but because the court thinks that Estrada is not a flight risk,” De Lima said.
“Is the judiciary now introducing new procedure and doctrines just to accommodate the whims of the President?” she said.
De Lima said if this was the new reason of the antigraft court, then she was qualified to be granted bail by the court since she had shown she was not a flight risk.
She noted that she had returned home from a trip abroad despite knowing she would
be arrested for the illegal drug trafficking case to be filed against her.
“When the time of my arrest came, I voluntarily surrendered to the arresting officers. If that is not being a flight risk, then I don’t know what is,” she said.
De Lima said the country was under an “absolute dictatorship” because Mr. Duterte was able to dictate on Congress and now the judiciary.
She expressed that fear the country was going back to a cowed judiciary similar to that during the martial law years.
With officials saying the President would declare martial law this week, she said there was no need for Mr. Duterte to do so.
“We are already under a dictatorship, with Congress and the judiciary under Duterte’s thumb. A martial law proclamation would just be a formality,” De Lima said. —Reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Delfin T. Mallari Jr.


CHR exec rebut Duterte: Gascon not a pedophile

CHR Chair Chito Gascon LYN RILLON

The head of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Jose Luis “Chito” Gascon, is “definitely not” a pedophile, and the term cannot be used, even as a metaphor, to describe his zeal in seeking independent investigations into recent cases of teenagers being killed by police, CHR officials said on Sunday.
CHR Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana and spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia defended Gascon after President Rodrigo Duterte, infuriated with the CHR for investigating alleged extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs, described the agency’s chief on Saturday as a “pedophile” for his focus on the killings of teenagers Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and possibly Reynaldo de Guzman by Caloocan police last month.
“This Gascon, he has been all about teenagers. You are like a pedophile, you son of bitch. Why do you like teenagers so much? Are you? I’m now having doubts. Are you gay or a pedophile?” said Mr. Duterte in a speech in Davao City.
“I know that Chito Gascon is not a pedophile, definitely not,” Gana said in a radio interview.
The term “pedophile,” she stressed, “cannot be used as a metaphor,” apparently in expectation of the usual Malacañang defense of Mr. Duterte’s controversial remarks: that he often cracks jokes, speaks in metaphors and employs sarcasm.

De Guia, in a text message to Reuters, said Mr. Duterte’s remarks deviated public attention from a critical human rights issue in the Philippines.
No respect for others’ dignity
“These are remarks that do not show respect for the dignity of others. The public must understand that the death of children concerns us all as they are especially vulnerable and need state protection,” she said.
Mr. Duterte also accused Gascon of being a spokesperson for the political opposition and criticized his scrutiny of police operations against illegal drugs.
“Why can’t you move on to other issues that are besetting this country?” Mr. Duterte said, citing the suffering of the people displaced by the fighting between government forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City.
Jose Manuel Diokno, national chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group, also defended Gascon against Mr. Duterte’s attack.

“President Duterte should remember that when he points his finger at someone, he’s actually pointing four fingers at himself. His remarks are absurd, ridiculous and totally uncalled for. [CHR Chair] Chito is a good man,” Diokno said.
Police have reported killing more than 3,800 people since Mr. Duterte took office 15 months ago, while thousands of others have been murdered in unexplained circumstances.
The deaths of the three teenagers have fueled rising opposition to the campaign, with the influential Catholic Church and human rights campaigners, including the CHR, among the most prominent critics.
House defunds CHR
Last week, Mr. Duterte’s majority allies in the House of Representatives hit back at the CHR, slashing its P678-million proposed budget for 2018 to just P1,000, an attempt to abolish the constitutional institution tasked with protecting human rights in the country.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a member of the opposition Liberal Party who has locked horns with Mr. Duterte numerous times, said the House move effectively abolished the CHR.
The Senate, however, has vowed to restore the CHR’s budget, with some members vowing to stand their ground even if it meant failure to pass the budget.
“They should look at our mandate, what we are supposed to do and what we are actually doing, and please understand it. And if sometimes they think we’re bearing down hard on [the] government, it’s part of our mandate to also watch what [the] government is doing,” Gana said.
“We have no agenda to bring down the government,” she added.
Actually, she said, the CHR appreciates quick action by the Philippine National Police leadership on wrongdoing in the police ranks, as what happened with the sacking of the entire 1,000-strong Caloocan police force after the killings of the three teenagers.
Gana praised Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), who sacked and ordered the retraining of the entire Caloocan police force after the furor over the killings of the teenagers, which was compounded by a raid—without search warrant—of the house of an old woman on a tip she was involved in the drug trade.
Security camera captured images of dozens of officers involved in a raid that ended with the robbery of the old woman’s belongings.
“We saw how quickly they moved on the Caloocan case, and I am pleased with . . . NCRPO chief Albayalde,” Gana said. —With reports from Nikko Dizon and the wires


Drug war: 1 dead, 16 arrested in Metro Manila

Computer technician Mark Angelo Aribe, 24, was watching children playing in a computer shop along Quirino street in Tondo, Manila when an unidentified assailant approached him from behind and shot him at around 11:45 p.m. Friday, Police Officer 3 Dennis Turla said. AP/Bullit Marquez, File
MANILA, Philippines — At least one person was killed and 16 others were arrested since Friday as the government continued its war against illegal drugs.

Computer technician Mark Angelo Aribe, 24, was watching children playing in a computer shop along Quirino street in Tondo, Manila when an unidentified assailant approached him from behind and shot him at around 11:45 p.m. Friday, Police Officer 3 Dennis Turla said.

A sister of Aribe, who died at the scene, told police he was released from a drug rehabilitation center in Pasig City last April and had been trying to fix his life.

Turla said they are still trying to determine the motive for the killing and the identity of the assailant.

In Quezon City, 13 persons were arrested in anti-drug operations since Friday.

Jomar dela Cruz; Jose Retulan, 18; Renen Alas, 38; Raymund Cruz, 26; and Rizalino Gaspi, 18, were caught in a sting in Barangay Kaligayahan at around 3:30 a.m. Friday.

Police seized four sachets of shabu, a digital weighing scale and assorted drug paraphernalia from the suspects.

Michael Cagadas, 32, and Rocky Sodonio, 22, were caught using shabu in Barangay Apolonio Samson at around 4 a.m. Friday by police officers on routine patrol.

Four sachets of shabu, drug paraphernalia and an improvised shotgun with ammunition were confiscated from them.

Rene Zapanta, 35, and Sherilyn Napay, 40, were arrested in a sting in Barangay Balong Bato at around 6:30 p.m. Friday. Two sachets of shabu were seized from them.

Ma. Cristina Sy, 38; Mark Isagani Soliman, 34, and a 16-year-old boy were arrested in a sting in Barangay Payatas A at around 1 a.m. yesterday.

Sy is in the barangay’s drug watchlist as an alleged pusher while Soliman and the boy were reportedly her customers. Three sachets of shabu and marked money were seized from the suspects.

Mark Soriano, 30, was arrested in another sting in Barangay Batasan Hills at around 4:05 a.m. yesterday. Two sachets of shabu and a .38 caliber revolver were seized from him.

Meanwhile, 34 minors were rounded up in Quezon City for violating a curfew ordinance on Friday.

“They were turned over to their barangay officials for processing before returning to their homes,” Quezon City Police District director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said.

In Pasig City, Kurt Simon Concepcion was nabbed in a sting in Barangay Canio-gan at around 11:10 p.m. Friday.

Eight sachets of shabu and P200 in marked money were confiscated from the suspect.

In the same barangay, police arrested Alfred Valencia in another drug sting at around 11:45 p.m. Friday. Seven sachets of shabu and P200 in marked money were found in his possession.

In Marikina City, Hakey Muldong was arrested in a drug bust in Barangay Sto. Niño at around 3:30 p.m. Friday. An undetermined quantity of shabu was found in his possession.


Marawi bishop ‘happy’ over rescue of abducted priest

Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña on Sunday expressed delight after learning about the rescue of rescue Catholic priest Teresito “Chito” Suganob. The STAR/John Unson, File

MANILA, Philippines — Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña on Sunday expressed delight after learning about the rescue of Catholic priest Teresito “Chito” Suganob.


Dela Peña praised the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its efforts to rescue Suganob and other hostages held by the ISIS-inspired terror group, Maute, who besieged Marawi City for four months now.

“I am happy receiving messages about Fr. Chito’s rescue no matter how hazy they are,” a report from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines quoted Dela Peña.

Suganob escaped on Saturday evening after government forces reclaimed the mosque where the priest was being held captive since May 23.

It was Dela Peña who reported that the Maute torched the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians in the city on the same day the diocese was supposed to be celebrating the feast of its patron saint.

He also said Suganob, a vicar general of the prelature of Marawi was taken hostage in an undisclosed location.

Dela Peña is reportedly on his way back to Manila from a congregation in Rome. He said his first agenda upon arrival is to visit Mindanao and meet Suganob. — Rosette Adel


House committee tackles Sereno impeach complaints

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (File photo by RAFFY LERMA/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The House of Representatives justice committee on Wednesday started the ball rolling on the two impeachment complaints lodged against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The justice committee convened to tackle whether or not there is form and substance on the two complaints against Sereno endorsed by 41 lawmakers.

Determination of the form and substance is the first stage before an impeachment complaint may be approved by the House for transmittal to the Senate, which will act as an impeachment court.

Sereno faces two impeachment complaints for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption for purportedly bypassing the Supreme Court en banc in creating new offices, her “whimsical” and “excessive” purchase of the P5.1 million Toyota Land Cruiser, and her alleged failure to declare “exorbitant lawyer’s fees” allegedly amounting to $745,000, or P37 million.

Sereno in various instances called for the rule of law and warned against possible abuses of martial law.

She earned the ire of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, when she supposedly cautioned the Court of Appeals justices not to attend a House probe on the Ilocos Norte provincial government’s allegedly anomalous use of tobacco funds that implicated Governor Imee Marcos.

The justices were called to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for granting a writ of habeas corpus to the six provincial government officials detained at the House.

The justice committee chairperson, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, earlier hinted at a “creeping” impeachment proceeding, once the impeachment complaints get the support of one third of all the House members.

But Speaker Alvarez denied such a move, adding that the complaints need to be scrutinized first in the House.


Under the 1987 Constitution, an impeachment complaint may hurdle the House justice committee and proceed to trial in the Senate impeachment court if it gets one third support of all the members of the House.

In an impeachment proceeding, the House will act as the prosecuting panel while the Senate acts as an impeachment court. /idl



DRAMATIC RESCUE | Army, PNP, civilian rescue units pluck 25 people from roof of bus swamped by floods in Quezon

Map showing Pitogo, Quezon. EN.WIKIPILIPINAS.ORG

MANILA – A bus driver and his passengers’ presence of mind, and prompt action by police, military and local civilian authorities made possible a dramatic rescue of 25 people stranded on the roof of a bus swamped by floodwaters in Pitogo, Quezon early Tuesday morning.

At about 3am Tuesday, a Bicol-bound bus from Pasay driven by Joseph Serrano took a detour from the Atimonan-Plaridel-Gumaca road in a bid to avoid floods, but got into worse straits: it took a road that turned out to be beside a swollen river. This, according to an account pieced together by Senior Supt. Roderick Armamento, provincial PNP chief of Quezon, in a radio interview.

The river water, combined with rampaging flashfloods from nearby mountains quickly submerged the DLTB Bus in neck-deep water, forcing all 24 passengers including three minors to climb out and seek safety atop the roof of the bus.

Timely SOS alert by driver Serrano prompted Police Insp. Ginalyn de Leon to send out alerts, but rescue teams could not reach the place at once owing to bad weather and flood-submerged roads, Armamento told radio DZBB.

The Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion based in Gumaca was called, and sent several trucks.

Local governments in Quezon also deployed rescue teams. Catanauan town sent a couple of bancas.

By 7 am, the rescue was well under way, and all 25 people, including driver Serrano, were finally safely plucked out of harm’s way at past 9am.

Senior Supt. Armamento cited Serrano for his presence of mind and timely alert to authorities. He also praisedthe civilian, police and military outfits that helped in the dramatic rescue.


Cotabato City mayor finalist for Lingkod Bayan award

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi (right) received on Monday from Grace Belgado-Sequeton, director of the Civil Service Commission-12, a plaque stating she is a candidate for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award.    

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — 

Local sectors were elated with the city mayor’s having been voted regional finalist for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award.

Grace Belgado-Sequeton, director of the Civil Service Commission for Region 12, turned over to Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi on Monday a plaque stating that she is a finalist candidate for the award, from among 58,000 nominees from across the country.

The symbolic event, held at the Cotabato City People’s Palace here, was witnessed by employees of the city mayor’s office and local sectoral leaders.

The search for Presidential Lingkod Bayan awardees is an annual activity of CSC, meant to honor government workers with accomplishments worthy of recognition by the national government.

Traders welcomed positively the CSC’s announcement here Monday that Guiani-Sayadi is a regional finalist for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award.

Merchant Pete Marquez, a senior member of various business organizations in the city, said the city mayor deserves the award.

Marquez said there have been dramatic improvements in trading activities in Cotabato City in the past three years.

“Malls and other commercial establishments have been emerging around the city, a clear indication that capitalists are certain their investments being poured around are safe,” Marquez said.

Barangay officials and peace activists wrote on Facebook their optimism Guiani-Sayadi would get a Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award.

“For me, our mayor's being named a regional finalist is enough. That is already a recognition that in Region 12, our mayor is an icon of good governance,” said an official of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, who resides in the city.

Cotabato City landed last August 16 on the second top spot for the government efficiency category of the 2017 search for most competitive cities in the Philippines.

The yearly grant of awards to competitive cities in the country is an activity of the National Competitiveness Council.

No fewer than a hundred cities in the country vied for this year’s NNC efficient governance awards, according to a report from the council.

Belgado-Sequeton, in a message, said the mayor here was nominated to the national search for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award for her being “an architect of development” and for her active involvement in law-enforcement activities intended to improve the local business climate.

Members of the local business community said the mayor’s having been included among the finalists for the award will certainly improve the confidence of foreign investors on the city’s investment atmosphere.

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