Sotto, Ejercito offer Trillanes an ‘honorable way out’


By: Julliane Love De Jesus - Reporter / @JLDejesusINQINQUIRER.net

Ejercito, Sotto fire back at Trillanes' 'offensive' remarksNews

Apologizing would be “an honorable way out,” Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III told his colleague Senator Antonio Trillanes IV after he made a controversial statement calling the Senate a “puppet” of President Duterte and his administration.

Sotto initially refused to comment if he would demand an apology from Trillanes but he later said, “Instead of saying it’s the easy way out, it’s the honorable way out.”

Sotto said agreeing with the policies of the Duterte administration does not make them lapdogs of the President.

He maintained that the President never dictated any of the senators nor compelled them to support his policies and programs.

“Medyo mali siguro ‘yung mga terms na ginagamit kaya nagiging offensive kasi pag sinabi mong ‘puppet,’ ang ibig sabihin nun ang Malacañang ang nagdidikta kung ano ‘yung mangyayari (The terms he’s using is wrong, which is why it’s offensive, because if you say ‘puppet,’ it means the Malacañang dictates what happens)… For example the declaration of martial law, and you agree with the declaration of martial law, puppet ka na no’n (that immediately makes you a puppet)? Hindi naman siguro (Not really),” he said.

Senator JV Ejercito, for his part, said Trillanes has to apologize not to the senators, but to the Senate as an institution.

“An apology would be good for the institution. Not for me, it’s for the institution. We have to maintain decency. We have to maintain parliamentary ethics in the Senate,” Ejercito said in the forum.

But he said, once a person apologizes, “end of story. Hindi po tayo ‘yung nag-sorry na sige pa rin, hindi ka pa rin titigil (We don’t say sorry yet still continue doing it).”

Although he is not keen on filing an ethics complaint against Trillanes, Ejercito cited the rules an unruly member of the Senate is violating.

Ejercito cited a portion of the Rules of the Senate, particularly Section 97 which says, “Upon the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Senate may punish any Member for disorderly behavior and, with the concurrence of two-thirds (2/3) of the entire membership, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of suspension shall not exceed sixty (60) calendar days.”

 

“Kaya nga meron mga rules ang Senado, there are rules of the senate to maintain proper decorum, maintain proper behavior,” he said.

Trillanes criticized some of his colleagues for being “cowards” as they refuse to investigate issues that would hurt the Duterte administration.

“‘Yung senado na dating last bastion of demoracy, ngayon wala na. Para na rin kaming mga tuta ng administrasyon na ‘to (The Senate used to be the last bastion of demoracy, but now it’s not. It’s as if we’re lapdogs of the administration),” Trillanes said during the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel forum on Monday.

“Ni ayaw magimbestiga eh. Dito ka makakakita ng mga Senador na takot. Kaalyado ka na lang kasi ayaw mong aminin na takot ka eh (They don’t want to investigate. You can see senators who are afraid. You’re just an ally because you don’t want to admit you’re afraid),” he said. JE/ac

 

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Martial law an urgent measure for nation’s survival — SC

By: Tetch Torres-Tupas - Reporter / @T2TupasINQINQUIRER.net

Photo: DUTERTE UPHELDThe Supreme Court justices, shown in this June 13 photo taken on the first day of oral arguments on President Duterte’s martial law declaration, have voted to affirm it. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ


The Constitution gives the President the authority to place any part or the entire Philippines under martial law, the Supreme Court said in its decision declaring as valid Proclamation 216 or President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao.

“There is no constitutional edict that martial law should be confined only in the particular place where the armed public uprising actually transpired. This is not only practical but also logical,” the Supreme Court said in its 82-page decision written by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo.

“Martial law is an urgent measure since at stake is the nation’s territorial sovereignty and survival,” the high court added.

Ten other justices concurred in the decision including Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo – De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam – and all submitted their concurring opinions.

The high court pointed out that the President need not wait for the armed conflict in Marawi to spread to other areas in Mindanao.

“The President has to respond quickly… The President’s duty to maintain peace and public safety is not limited only to the place where there is actual rebellion; it extends to other areas where the present hostilities are in danger of spilling over,” the high court added.

“Clearly, the power to determine the scope of territorial application belongs to the President,” the high court said.

The high court said while its duty was to determine the sufficiency of factual basis in the declaration of martial law, it only has to rely on the same information given to the President.

It pointed out that it has no capacity to verify every intelligence data which has become the basis for the proclamation.

”The Court found that there was sufficient factual basis for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over the whole of Mindanao,” read the decision which was released in line with the 30-day deadline for the SC to resolve the petitions filed last June 5.

 

”The entirety of Proclamation No. 216 and the Report submitted to Congress suffice to show that there was an armed public uprising, the culpable purpose of which was to remove from the allegiance of the Philippine Government a portion of its territory and to deprive the Chief Executive of any of his powers and prerogatives. This led the President to believe that there was probable cause for the crime of rebellion and that public safety required the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” it added.

Petitioners said that there were information used as basis in the proclamation which, upon verification did not actually happen.

But the high court pointed out that they should also not expect absolute correctness of the facts stated in the proclamation and in the President’s Written Report as the President cannot be expected to verify the accuracy and veracity of all facts reported to him due to the urgency of the situation. To require precision in the President’s appreciation of facts would unduly burden him and therefore impede the process of decision making.

The Court noted that the sufficiency of the factual basis should not be affected if subsequent events show that the situation had not been accurately reported to the President since the Court’s review is limited to sufficiency, not accuracy, of the factual basis.

Three justices voted to partially grant the petitions: Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. They believed that while there was factual basis for declaration of martial law, it should be limited in scope and should have not covered entire Mindanao.

In her 51-page dissenting opinion, Sereno said martial law should only cover the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu.

She disagreed with the majority opinion that the discretion on the coverage of the martial law should be left to the President as it is an executive duty.

“Martial law is an extraordinary measure necessitating the exercise of extraordinary power. Nevertheless, the President, in the exercise of his commander-in-chief powers, does not have unbridled discretion as to when, where and how martial law is to be declared,” Sereno explained.

Only Associate Justice Marvic Leonen voted to grant the petitions and declare the proclamation as invalid for lack of factual basis.

Leonen believed that the government failed to justify the necessity for declaration of martial law and why other powers of the President – including the power to call out the military – would not suffice to address the problem in Mindanao.

He said the respondents represented by Calida “failed to show what additional legal powers will be added by martial law except perhaps to potentially put on the shoulders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines the responsibilities and burdens of the entire civilian government over the entire Mindanao region.”

Leonen said the situation in Mindanao involves only “acts of terrorism which should be addresses in a decisive but more precise manner.”

“Never again should this Court allow itself to step aside when the powerful invoke vogue powers that feed on fear but could potentially undermine our most cherished rights. Never again should we fall victim to a false narrative that a vague declaration of martial law is good for us no matter the circumstances. We have the courage to never again clothe authoritarianism in any disguise with the mantle of constitutionality,” read his 92-page dissenting opinion. CBB

 

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Petititoners see ‘de facto military junta’

By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer 

Photo: 

DUTERTE UPHELDThe Supreme Court justices, shown in this June 13 photo taken on the first day of oral arguments on President Duterte’s martial law declaration, have voted to affirm it. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

 

Opposition lawmakers said the Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao had placed the country under a “de facto military junta.”

“This can be a springboard to expanding [martial law] to the entire country considering how easy Congress bends to Malacañang’s will and now that they know the Supreme Court isn’t allergic to use their constitutional powers to affirm martial law,” said Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.

Baguilat, one of the petitioners who demanded the rejection of Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, said an extension of martial law would be a “draconian step to institutionalizing a dictatorship and must be opposed by democracy defenders in Congress.”

“I am vigorously opposed to a perpetual state of martial law in Mindanao. That seems to be the modus operandi now of the administration and their congressional allies now that the Supreme Court has rejected the petitions nullifying martial law,” he said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the court’s ruling effectively placed the Philippines in the hands of a de facto military junta.

“This is an ominous development that may place the country in an even more dangerous position. We could expect an emboldened military and police to commit more human rights violations and further endanger the lives of our people not just in Marawi but the whole of Mindanao,” he said.

‘Authoritarian rule’
Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin warned of a “creeping authoritarian rule” in the guise of public safety and security.

“Now that he is cloaked with such authority, President Duterte might push it to the limit and declare a drug-induced nationwide rebellion by terror groups. Martial law becomes a hard habit to break,” he said.

Villarin noted that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines had just stated that they wished to extend martial law by two more months.

“The war on drugs took a back seat when the Marawi incident happened but is now back in full swing. Duterte earlier tagged the Mautes to be in cahoots with the drug lords,” he said.

“The Supreme Court has reneged on its role as the last institutional rampart against abuse of the executive’s martial law power,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio.

Only in Lanao del Sur
“I’m afraid that this Supreme Court will go down in history as having paved the way for state repression against citizens in the name of a prolonged and expanded martial law based on nebulous and shifting grounds,” he said.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said: “Placing the entire Mindanao under martial law is difficult to comprehend and justify when the crisis is taking place only in the province of Lanao del Sur.”

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the military now would be “emboldened to carry out aerial strikes, indiscriminate firing and the use of rape as a tool of war against civilians.”

“The decision sets the ground for the arbitrary declaration of a nationwide martial law, as it upheld the presence of rebellion based merely on inaccurate and fake reports by the military,” Brosas said.

 

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Panelo: Duterte may declare another martial law in Mindanao if needed


By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter / @NCorralesINQINQUIRER.net 

Photo: Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo. NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte could declare another martial law should he seek to extend his current declaration in Mindanao and Congress won’t approve it, his chief legal counsel said on Wednesday.

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo was asked what the President would do once his martial law declaration in Mindanao had reached the 60-day limit.

“If Congress does not extend on the 60th day upon initiative of the President then there can be no extension. Another proclamation is necessary,” he said in a text message to reporters.

 

Under the 1987 Constitution, the Congress, upon the initiative of the President, “may extend such proclamation [of martial law] or the suspension [of the writ of habeas corpus] for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

In a Palace briefing, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Resituto Padilla said the military may seek extension of martial law in Mindanao if necessary, citing that they have not assessed yet if they have already met the “conditions” determining the need for the persistence of military rule in the area.

“We have set conditions that would specifically act as the standards whether martial law [in Mindanao] should be extended or not. [But] the assessment regarding whether those conditions have been met has not yet been made,” Padilla said.

He reiterated that the military won’t set a deadline on the liberation of Mindanao from the Maute terrorists, saying it would be “unfair to the troops,” as they were already focused in monitoring the presence of the terrorists all over the archipelago through manhunt operations.

“We are doing our best to finish this once and for all. With the way our progress is going on, we are confident with a positive indication of the movement of our troops in the area that we are occupying,” he said.

Padilla said that the AFP would have been able to carry out military operations in Mindanao even without the aid of martial law, but not as expeditious as allowed by the presence of the military rule.

“Since martial law was there, and the writ of habeas corpus was suspended alongside the declaration, it expedited the process,” he added.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit at the wake of the Bulacan massacre victims on Tuesday, he said that the extension of martial law is upon the decision of the military.


“Our number one duty is to defend and protect the Filipino people,” he told reporters.

Duterte imposed martial law on May 23 after the AFP and the Philippine National Police told him during his visit in Russia that Marawi was in a “critical situation” following the attacks carried by Islamic State-allied gunmen.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday validated Duterte’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, deeming it legal and constitutional.

The martial law, which the Constitution limits to 60 days, is supposed to ‪end on July 22. With a report from Winona Sadia, INQUIRER.net trainee/JE

 

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Duterte slams NPA over conflicting statements

By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter / @NCorralesINQINQUIRER.net

Photo: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Marawi
PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte slammed on Wednesday the New People’s Army (NPA) for its conflicting orders against its fighters.

“Ang hindi ko talaga maintindihan, kung meron dito nakikinig na NPA, talagang sumasabog yung ulo ninyo,” Duterte told soldiers of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade in Sarangani.

“First you directed your soldiers to fight, to engage us…government. Mayamaya nagsabi kayo tutulong kayo to fight alongside with government. Mayamaya nandito na naman fight na naman kayo despite of just really doing what you want to say or say what you want to do, ito ini-engkwentro na naman ninyo,” he added.

The President said he doubted the sincerity of the communist rebels with their conflicting statements.

“Kaya ako di ako kumukumpyansa,” he said,

Malacañang had earlier said it was disturbed by the recent attacks of communist rebels even after the National Democratic Front (NDF) ordered its armed wing to refrain from launching offensive against state forces.

In a separate speech in Hagonoy, Davao de Sur, Duterte said the government must continue to talk peace with the communists.

“I have to talk to the communists but this time I hope you do it in a modality that is really sincere,” he said.

The President appealed to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison saying, “You are sick, you are not dying but you are seriously sick. Wouldn’t you be happy to see and to die that there is peace in this country before you finally close your eyes?”

 

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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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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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