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Two quakes rock Cebu 2 minutes apart

An image released by Phivolcs shows the epicenter of the earthquake that hit Cebu at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017. Another quake that hit two-minutes earlier hit the same general area. PHIVOLCS IMAGE Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/882468/two-quakes-rock-cebu-2-minutes-apart#ixzz4bux8XYdw Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


By: Michelle Padayhag - @inquirerdotnet

CEBU CITY — Two earthquakes were recorded in midwest Cebu on Tuesday before dawn, according to Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Based on the advisory posted on its website, Phivolcs said first tremor was recorded at 3:41 a.m. with a magnitude of 3.4 with the epicenter traced about two kilometers northwest of Asturias town, midwest Cebu
The earthquake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 15 kilometers.

The tremor was felt at Intensity three and two in Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City.
Two minutes later, a second earthquake occurred.
A stronger, magnitude 4.8 earthquake was recorded at 3:43 a.m with an epicenter at 4 kilometers northwest of Balamban town, which is next to Asturias.
The second quake was also tectonic in origin and had 25 kilometers in depth.
It was felt at Intensity 3 in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. CBB


PNP asks Leni Robredo for details of ‘palit-ulo’ scheme in war on drugs

The Philippine National Police on Wednesday asked Vice President Leni Robredo to provide details on the alleged ‘palit-ulo’ scheme so that the PNP could take action and investigate.
Robredo, in a video message, adverted to instances when loved ones of drug suspects were apprehended when police couldn't get to the suspect.
The police allegedly urge the suspect to surrender before the family member is released.
“Kung merong ganitong ulat, we ask them to be more specific and let us allow those allegedly who has done this to answer for it,” PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said in a press conference.
“Let us be more specific saan nangyari, sino itong mga ito,” he added.
Carlos said the ‘palit-ulo’ scheme, if true, was not condoned by the PNP.
“Hindi nga ito sanctioned, wala doon sa polisiya. Hindi iyan norm, hindi iyan practice
," Carlos said.
"Ina-attach natin ito sa Oplan Tokhang which is not part of the Oplan Tokhang. Sana ay maging more specific kung nangyayari hindi yung it will appear that it is the practice which is not,” he added.
He said police officers involved in such a scheme would be investigated either by Internal Affairs Service or the local police.
“Kung may pananagutan yung pulis, bawat isang insidente na may nangyari andyan na agad ang IAS. Kasabay nyan magsasagawa ng investigation ang police station kung saan nangyari yung krimen,” Carlos said.
Robredo, in a recorded speech posted on YouTube by anti-drug network DRCNet Foundation on March 13, said the spouse or relative of a person in a so-called drug list would be taken if the person himself could not be found.
She said that because of these instances, the people have allegedly lost trust in the police.
"Some of those have told us that when there's crime, they normally go to the police. Now they don't know where to turn to. Our people feel both hopeless and helpless—a state of mind that we must all take seriously," Robredo said.
But according to Carlos, Robredo should have coordinated with their office first regarding the alleged scheme before it was made public.
“Sana nga naiparating [muna] hindi ‘yung broadcast kaagad. The same way with sinasabi natin doon sa mga ulat na paglabag sa karapatang pantao, meron ho kaming opisina para doon," he said.
“May nabanggit na 500 na kaso na paglabag sa karapatang pantao at inihain sa tamang ahensya ng gobyerno. Ang tanong is how extensive these investigations are that would warrant a case against those who made a violation. Ganun ‘yung tanong hindi ‘yung we float the numbers and then make it appear as if it is the general situation,” Carlos added.
He cited the alleged 7,000 summary killing cases being mentioned. He said of the number, 4,435 were murder cases under death under investigation and of this, 1,409 have been resolved where charges have been filed before the court.
Carlos said they have arrested 800 suspects while 500 others have been identified.
“Hindi ho natin iniwanan itong mga kasong ito pagkatapos nung tayo ay pinatigil nung January 30, nagtuloy-tuloy ‘yung imbestigasyon, pag-monitor natin ng kaso,” he said.
He said the PNP figures “have been used to represent something which is not really the entire situation.”
“We hope they present more specific details on their data. Kasi if you look at the different reports they will always say over 7,000 cases, iba-iba nagsasabi niyan,” Carlos said. — GMA News

Was 'intimate' dinner with Duterte a loyalty check? Sotto, Ejercito say no

Senators Vicente Sotto III and JV Ejercito on Wednesday denied that the “intimate” dinner they had with President Rodrigo Duterte was part of a loyalty check, saying the two-hour conversation was mostly “light” and “nothing serious.”
Sotto and Ejercito were two of the 15 majority senators who attended the dinner held Tuesday night in Malacañang.
“Walang napag-usapan na priority bills,” Sotto said. “Siguro probably because most of them have not broken bread with the President not even once from July.”
Asked whether it was a loyalty check, Sotto replied: “I don’t think so.”

Ejercito, for his part, said: “Wala eh. Baka. Pero wala talagang pinag-usapan na medyo mabigat na issue.”
Ejercito added that topics discussed during the dinner were tax reform proposals of the administration, the war on drugs, and, very briefly, the charges filed against Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center over drug-related charges.
“In fairness to the President, wala siyang hiniling, inindorso, wala siyang tinanong tungkol sa investigation. So very light lang,” Ejercito said.
Aside from Ejercito and Sotto, the other senators present were Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and Senators Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Grace Poe, Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, and Sonny Angara.
Absent from the dinner are Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Gringo Honasan.
Also noticeably absent were members of the minority bloc composed of De Lima and Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV. —KBK, GMA News


Donald Trump Has Call Centers in the Philippines Worried

Outsourcing companies in the Philippines, whose clients are mainly U.S. companies, are worried that Donald Trump’s plan to bring jobs back to America won’t end at just manufacturing but extend into services.

The industry is considering hiring a U.S.-based consultant to monitor the threat of rising American protectionism, Ike Amigo, the head of the Philippine association representing outsourcing companies, said in an interview on Wednesday.

“We are looking at hiring a consultant on the ground pretty soon, as early as March,” he said in his office in Manila. “We keep an eye on developments in the Trump administration. Certainly, it is a concern,” adding the consultant may be a lobbyist or a research group.

Trump is shaking up the global stage as he persuades companies such as Ford Motor Co. to put up factories and investment in the U.S to create jobs. While outsourcing companies have largely escaped his notice, his policies could hurt the industry in the Philippines, among the largest foreign-exchange earners, just as the peso is weakening.

Click here to read how the peso’s decline is forecast to worsen this year

“Trump is one of the biggest risks facing outsourcing revenue,” said Michael Wan, an economist at Credit Suisse Group AG in Singapore. “That comes on top of a more protectionist mood globally, not just in the U.S. The outsourcing sector will have to contend with that challenge.”

Philippine outsourcing revenue surged 160 percent in the past six years to an estimated $23 billion in 2016 and is forecast to rise to $39 billion by 2022. It is projected to provide 1.8 million jobs by then, about 4 percent of total employment.

To achieve their goal, the industry is moving to offering higher-skilled jobs in areas such as animation, medical, legal and game development, Amigo said. That will add to the Philippines’ natural advantages which include cheaper wages, accent-neutral English language skills, affinity with customer service and familiarity with American culture.

Philippine providers also seek to diversify their markets to boost clients from Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, India, U.K., and Southeast Asia, he said.

The average cost of a full-time business process outsourcing employee in the Philippines is about $19,300 a year, compared with $72,300 in the U.K. and $91,100 in the U.S., according to consulting firm Everest Group. The cost calculation includes salaries and expenses related to benefits, administration, facilities, technology and others.


DFA puts on hold renewal of Yasay’s Philippine passport

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs has put on hold the application of former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. for renewal of his Philippine passport pending resolution of questions surrounding his citizenship by “competent authorities.”

Yasay filed the application on March 9, a day after the 15-member Commission on Appointments rejected his appointment as head of the country’s foreign service for lying about his American citizenship.

“At this writing, we have received instructions from Acting Secretary (Enrique) Manalo to suspend or hold in abeyance the issuance of the passport to former Sec. Yasay pending resolution of the legal question by competent authorities,” Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs Frank R. Cimafranca said.

Asked about the DFA’s move, Yasay said, “I don’t know about that. They did not inform me.” He declined further comment.

Sources close to Yasay said the former secretary’s Philippine passport issued in 2013 is valid up to mid-2018. He applied for Express Processing (seven working days) and paid P1,200.

The DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs said the only requirement for renewal of an e-passport is the current passport.


Driven away from Scarborough Shoal, Filipino fishermen now train in China

MANILA – Leonardo Cuaresma, leader of a fisherfolk organization in Masinloc, Zambales, spent the beginning of 2017 surveying the fishing sites in the province of Guangdong in China, at one point even riding a Chinese coastguard ship along with 15 other Filipino fishermen.
This is the very same ship which at mere sight, had raised fear among members of Cuaresma’s organization, some of whom were attacked with water cannons by the Chinese coastguard in January 2014.
This incident, among others, signaled the growing tension between China and the Philippines over the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, where Panatag Shoal, (also called Bajo de Masinloc and Scarborough Shoal) lies. The two have claimed ownership over the resource-rich area.
But in January 2017, Cuaresma and other Filipino fishermen who ventured in the disputed waters of Panatag Shoal and Spratly Islands in Palawan (5 participants hailed from Region III or Central Luzon and 11 others came from Region IV-B where Palawan is) – were not sent away by this ship; it instead took them to fishing havens in China to expose them to Beijing’s fisheries technology.
“We rode in the ship of [the] maritime coastguard. From the shoreline up to 200 nautical miles, [you can see] fish cages,” Cuaresma, the leader of Nilalamo A Asosyanon Nin Maninilay Ha Babalin Masinloc (NAMBM Inc) or Federated Association of Fisherfolk in Masinloc, said.
It was a gesture of goodwill, one that could not be expected from China 4 years ago, when the Philippines lodged a case against the military and economic behemoth before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The Philippines said China’s nine-dash line is an invalid basis for its maritime claim over the West Philippine Sea.
In July 2016, the Philippines won; China did not recognize the ruling.
In spite of this, President Rodrigo Duterte moved to develop warmer ties with Beijing partly because Manila could not match China’s military might. It was also a consequence of his decision to veer away from the United States, the Philippines’ longstanding ally.
The Philippines, along with the 9 other member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 3 of which are also claimants of parts of the South China Sea (Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei) now aim to finalize a framework for the Code of Conduct over the area by June. This was announced on February 21 as ASEAN foreign ministers held a meeting in Boracay.
But outside the diplomatic arena, China’s decision to


Incredible testimony from a credible witness

Recently retired Philippine National Police SPO3 Arthur Lascanas landed a haymaker against President Rodrigo Duterte this week when he rescinded his previous Senate testimony about the existence of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Originally, Lascanas denied that the dreaded DDS even existed. This, after DDS member Edgar Matobato had pointed to the police officer as one of the leaders of the squad that operated with impunity in Davao City during the term of then Mayor Duterte.
At the start of the week, the cop confirmed everything that Matobato had told the Senate, adding a lot more details that left everyone hearing them shocked. He gave details of how much was budgeted for each hit, and just how far the brutality of the DDS went.
Two things stood out in Lascanas’s revelations: One, he went so far as to have two of his own brothers killed as part of then Mayor Duterte’s drive against criminality. And two, the assassination of broadcaster Jun Pala was among the biggest of the killings ordered by the current president.
Pala was the head of the anti-communist Alsa Masa, credited with kicking the NPA and its operatives out of the city in the 1980s.
I recall a friend from Davao who said that the situation had become so bad that random killings were taking place in the city. She witnessed one daylight shooting, which she later learned was an NPA team’s work against an anti-communist businessman.
My friend told me many tales of how the NPA had all but controlled the city, until Pala and his organization took them on, and won.
This is not to say that Jun Pala was some kind of hero. He was supposedly engaged in his own criminal activities within the city according to his critics, but at least he played a major role in ridding Davao of the underground left.
Pala was formerly a supporter of Rodrigo Duterte, but the two had a falling out over God-knows-what. But one of the most cruel things that President Duterte did was to curse Pala to hell a couple of months ago.
This was most unFilipino. We as a people always respect the dead, and avoid speaking ill of them. What Mr. Duterte had against the late Jun Pala will sooner or later come to light, especially now that Lascanas has admitted that his DDS was behind the killing of the broadcaster.
It was understandable for the PNP official to originally deny the existence of a shadowy vigilante organization that executed hundreds of suspected criminals, much less be a part of it. It only meant that law and order in Davao City was nothing more than an illusion, since the very men tasked with enforcing the law were breaking it.
There could be a hundred reasons for Lascanas to take back what he said, including his conscience bothering him. In doing so, he has made some very, very powerful enemies. He has everything to lose and nothing to gain. This makes him a most credible witness, one whose testimony can jolt the Duterte administration to the core.


Palace to UK envoy: 'True' sentiments of Filipinos outside gated villages

MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday, February 22, slammed British ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad for not undertanding the "true" sentiments of the "common Filipino" when he criticized the Duterte administration's war on drugs and support for the reimposition of the death penalty.
"With all due respect to the British Ambassador, Mr Asif Ahmad's remark that 'change has come in the Philippines but not in a good way' does not reflect the true sentiment of the common Filipino," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Wednesday.
Abella urged Ahmad to look beyond "gated villages" to understand the perspective of the majority of Filipinos who, he claimed, support the President's drug war.
"Confidence – both business and consumers – is high in the Duterte administration. One wishes diplomats were more familiar with life beyond the rarefied atmosphere of gated villages," said Abella.
On Monday, Ahmad, in an event with reporters in his home, described Duterte's drug war as "not successful" and the proposed revival of death penalty a "tragic reversal," according to a Philippine Star report.
Surveys have found that most Filipinos are satisfied with the drug war but want suspects to live. A December Social Weather Stations survey said 8 out of 10 Filipinos fear they will be victims of extrajudicial killings.
A Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated survey released in January showed a majority of Filipinos trust Duterte. – Rappler.com

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