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Top CA magistrate promoted to SC

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star)

Photo: Reyes

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has promoted the presiding justice of the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court (SC).

Andres Reyes Jr. will replace SC Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who retired from the judiciary on July 6, the SC public information office announced yesterday.

The 67-year-old Reyes, a graduate of Ateneo law school and a member of the Utopia fraternity like Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has been with the judiciary for 30 years.

He is the 177th associate justice of the high tribunal and has three years to serve before his retirement.

Reyes’ father Andres Sr. had served as CA presiding justice, while his grandfather Alex was SC justice.

He was picked from a shortlist of seven nominees submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council last month.

Reyes topped the list after earning the unanimous votes of all seven members of the council.

He is the third appointee of Duterte in the high court.

Earlier, the President promoted Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam of the Sandiganbayan and CA, respectively, to the high tribunal.

Duterte is set to appoint another SC justice for the post to be vacated by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza, who will retire in August.

The JBC, the seven-man council tasked to screen nominees for vacant posts in the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman, is chaired by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The JBC’s two ex-officio members are Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for the executive and Sen. Richard Gordon for the legislative.

The regular members of JBC are former SC Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez for retired magistrates, Jose Mejia for academe, Milagros Fernan-Cayosa for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and retired judge Toribio Ilao for the private sector.

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200 US tourists in Philippines amid advisories

By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)

Despite travel warnings, around 200 mostly balikbayan tourists from the United States arrived in the country this week to visit various attractions, including President Duterte’s bailiwick Davao City, and explore possible investments. File

MANILA, Philippines - Despite travel warnings, around 200 mostly balikbayan tourists from the United States arrived in the country this week to visit various attractions, including President Duterte’s bailiwick Davao City, and explore possible investments.

The tourists are hoping to get a glimpse of Duterte during their stay in his hometown, said Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Henry Bensurto.

Philippine Consul General in New York Ma. Theresa Dizon-de Vega said for the first time the Ambassador’s Tour – a joint promotion project of the Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Tourism Promotions Board – brought participants to the southern Philippines.

“I think the fact that despite the situation in Marawi, we were getting delegates, they were still registering a few days before the tour, is a show of confidence that everything is OK in the country… There’s a sense of confidence and assurance and support for the President and the country. They are all just proud to be Filipinos,” De Vega said.

De Vega said the arrival of tourists from the US is “very significant” in light of the negative image of the country as a result of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and the travel advisories issued by foreign governments, including the US and Canada.

The tour started with a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument of Jose Rizal in Rizal Park, Manila last Tuesday and will conclude on Saturday.

Some of the places visited by the group were the National Museum, Metropolitan Museum and Fort Santiago in Manila.

They were also expected to visit the Davao Crocodile Park, Malagos Garden Resort, a 12-hectare nature theme park in Davao; and the Hijo banana plantation in Tagum City.

Bensurto said most of the visitors supported Duterte during last year’s election and would like to express their continued support and confidence in his administration.

“Despite martial law there are more significant matters that should not be overlooked. This is the first time in Philippine history that the president comes from the south, and that’s very significant,” Bensurto said.

“President Duterte won overwhelmingly among Filipinos based in the US, and part of his mandate you can trace to Filipinos based in North America,” he said.

De Vega said the delegation is composed of people from the business, medical and IT sectors; couples and their young children; as well as retirees. They were also joined by mayors of Bellevue, Nebraska and National City in California.

“There are many first-timers. It’s a good mix,” De Vega said.

“This is a perfect place for people in the US to visit… the Philippines has so much to offer,” National City Mayor Ron Morrison said.

He said 40 percent of the population in National City are Filipinos.

Bensurto said the tour also aims to “instill” Filipino culture among the millennials who were born and raised in the US.

“The second, third and fourth generations have already overtaken the migration of the first generation. It’s important that we are able to instill the Filipino spirit in the new generation because there will be no urgency and imperative to give back from these generations if they don’t see any attachment. We have to create a bridge that links them to the origin of their ancestors,” he said.

“We want to immerse them, give them actual experience of the Philippines,” he added.

De Vega noted that tourist arrivals from the US increased from 14 to 19 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles Adelio Angelito Cruz said the visit of Filipino-Americans in the country this year also aims to “reinvigorate” US-Philippines bilateral relations.

“We are meeting with the Davao City Chamber of Commerce. We’re hoping to explore possible business ventures and investment and export opportunities in Davao City,” he said.

The Philippines and US relations turned sour after Duterte hit former US president Barack Obama for criticizing his brutal war against illegal drugs.

Now on its 11th year, the Ambassador’s Tour aims “to further boost the image of the Philippines abroad,” De Vega said.

“After this tour they become ambassadors of the country in their own communities,” she said.

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Rehab plan for quake-hit Leyte underway

By Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star)

President Duterte meets with Cabinet members, Leyte lawmakers and local government officials yesterday at the airport in Ormoc, one of the areas hit by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake last week.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte yesterday assured residents that the government has in place a rehabilitation plan for earthquake-hit Ormoc City and other areas in Leyte province after the magnitude 6.5 tremor last week.

“We are here to help you,” the President in Filipino said after arriving in Ormoc City.

The President said the government has a program to help residents as well as for the rehabilitation of damaged establishments and infrastructure.

He said there is a program on how to manage the aid and all the other help that would arrive.

Duterte said he discussed the plans with Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla.

The Ormoc City social welfare and development office has identified 536 totally damaged houses and 62 partially damaged houses in Barangays Cabaon-an, Tongonan, Milagro, Danao, Cabintan, Gaas, Liberty, Bagong, Nueva Vista, Quezon Jr., San Jose and Hugpa.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 8 said two persons were killed when a building collapsed in Kananga, Leyte and another was killed in Ormoc while 220 people were injured during the earthquake.

Most of the victims were hurt when they panicked and scampered in different directions at the height of the tremor.

OCD Region 8 director Edgar Posadas said those injured were brought to different hospitals in Ormoc and other district hospitals in Leyte. – With Lalaine Jimenea

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Trillanes pushes plunder probe after Duterte ‘admitted’ corruption


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

Photo: Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (left) and President Rodrigo Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said President Rodrigo Duterte had already admitted stealing government money so the investigation on his plunder case should be expedited.

The office of Trillanes sent to the media on Tuesday an excerpt of Duterte’s speech before the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association last June, where the President admitted in jest that he had committed corruption.

Duterte said: “I hate corruption. Hindi ako nagmamalinis. Marami rin akong nanakaw pero naubos na, so wala na (I don’t pretend to be clean. I have also stolen a lot but I’ve already spent it all, so it’s all gone).”

Trillanes said Duterte’s admission bolsters allegations of corruption against the Chief Executive.

“This admission confirms my corruption allegation against Duterte,” Trillanes said in a statement.

Palace twits Trillanes: He lacks sense of humorNews

Responding to Trillanes, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella chided the senator for lacking a sense of humor for taking seriously the jest of Duterte.

“I have filed a case against him before the Ombudsman, along with the necessary evidence to support the case. This admission should be a reason to expedite the investigation,” Trillanes said.

At the height of the presidential campaign in May last year, he filed a plunder case against Duterte before the Office of the Ombudsman due to the latter’s alleged unexplained wealth.

The senator, as well as the camp of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, accused Duterte and his family of maintaining secret bank accounts.

Trillanes showed documents of P2.4 billion that purportedly flowed into Duterte’s bank accounts, which is not declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Duterte has denied the claims of Trillanes.

When he was Davao mayor, Duterte was accused of hiring 11,000 ghost employees which Trillanes said could be one of his sources of unexplained wealth. CBB/rga

 

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‘Don’t blame Maranao for destruction of Marawi City’


By: Allan Nawal - Correspondent / @inqmindanaoPhilippine Daily Inquirer

MARAWI CITY — A Lanao del Sur official has rejected the assignment of blame to the Maranao for the destruction of Marawi City in the fighting between government forces and Islamic State-inspired local terrorists.

Now in its seventh week, the fighting has displaced most of Marawi’s more than 200,000 residents and reduced much of the beautiful, lakeside city into rubble.

People blame the Maranao for the devastation, saying they allowed the terrorists to come to the city.

 

Even President Rodrigo Duterte, in public speeches, has said he is angry because the people of the city allowed the Maute terror group to set up base in the city and stock up on weapons and munitions.

But Zia Alonto Adiong, speaking for the Lanao provincial government on Sunday, said it was “preposterous” to blame the people of Marawi and the Maranao in general for the crisis, which started on May 23.

“We are the victims here. We are the ones suffering and to say that we did not do anything about it is like saying we picked up a hammer and hit our heads with it,” Adiong said.

But even if the residents were armed, he said, they could not have engaged and thwarted the attack of the Maute group, as it was “well coordinated, well planned” and carried out by “terrorists who had the support of international terror networks.”

At least eight of the 379 terrorists killed in the fighting were foreigners, including fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia, Libya and Chechnya, according to the military.

The Maute terrorists and their allies from the Abu Sayyaf bandit group stormed Marawi on May 23 to establish an enclave of the Middle East-based Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Southeast Asia.

Adiong said the attack happened when the people of Marawi were not in fighting mood, as they were busy preparing for the start of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Adiong lamented that the Maranao were being blamed for the attack on Marawi while residents of other areas previously targeted by terrorists had not been faulted at all.

“We have witnessed the Zamboanga siege and the Ipil siege. Nobody blamed the civilians of Zamboanga, nobody blamed the residents of Ipil,” he said.

 

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Marawi City Hall reopens for business

By: Jeoffrey Maitem - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer

MARAWI CITY— The City Hall here reopened for business on Monday even as government forces pressed an operation to dislodge Islamic State-linked terrorists holed up in the city’s commercial district.

The ground and some structures shook from the impact of airstrikes and artillery bombardment as Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra led his staff and employees in a flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall premises.

Gandamra said City Hall would be open for business only on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Despite the threat, we have to operate even on a limited basis. It’s not every day but as much as possible, we will be holding office Mondays and Wednesdays so that we can make resolutions in support to our humanitarian efforts,” he said.

Gandamra said members of the city council would also report for work.

He said the military had been provided with a list of government employees who would report for work twice a week.

“The bulk of our operation to address the needs of our constituents is in our command center in Iligan City because most of our displaced people are staying there,” he said.

Lt. Col. Christopher Tampus, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion assigned to secure the City Hall, told reporters that the building was within range of sniper fire. —With a report from Christine O. Avendaño in Manila

 

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Marijuana in candies: 2 arrested in school


By: Maricar Cinco - Correspondent / @maricarcincoINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Photo:Some of the ingredients being used for marijuana candies. —PHOTO COURTESY OF LAGUNA PNP

SAN PEDRO CITY — Police arrested two persons for allegedly producing candies laced with marijuana, which authorities feared could end up in schools and taken by children.

Supt. Vicente Cabatingan, chief of the Laguna police intelligence unit, on Monday said mixing marijuana in candies seemed to be a new way for dealers to conceal the drugs.

The suspects said they had learned how to spike candies with marijuana in YouTube.

 

On Saturday, police arrested Bobby Albert Bobcock, a 32-year-old Filipino-American, from his apartment at Park Spring Subdivision in the village of San Antonio here.

Police were armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Agripino Morga of the regional trial court in San Pablo City, Laguna.

Cabatingan said police had discovered a small room equipped with an oven, baking molds, glass and wooden pipes and marijuana seeds, that served as Bobcock’s “growing room.”

“They would mix the drugs into chocolates or gelatin and make small candies out of it,” Cabatingan said in a phone interview.

Each piece of candy costed P100 to P500 depending on how much marijuana it contained.

The raid on Bobcock’s apartment also led to the arrest of his accomplice, Jan Allen Ledesma, 23, a computer engineering student at Malayan Colleges Laguna.

Police set up a buy-bust operation inside the school compound in Cabuyao City, Laguna on Saturday.

Cabatingan said Ledesma had acted as the “chemist” and sold the tainted candies to college students.

“Say, you bring them home and put them in the fridge to keep them from melting, you put other people, like children, in danger as they could easily pass off as normal chocolate candies,” Cabatingan added.

 

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Attack drug supply, Pampanga governor tells cops

By: Tonette Orejas - @ttorejasINQInquirer Central Luzon 

WHAT WE HAVE CAUGHT IN OUR ANTI-DRUG CAMPAIGN ARE SMALL PUSHERS

Photo:Lilia Pineda
Pampanga governor

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda on Monday asked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police to prioritize the arrest of illegal drug suppliers to stop street-level pushing and to address the overcrowding of jails.

“What we have caught in our antidrug campaign are small pushers,” Pineda said during a meeting at the capitol building with Ismael Fajardo Jr., PDEA Central Luzon director, and Senior Supt. Josel Consulta, Pampanga chief of police.

President Rodrigo Duterte had spoken about cracking down on drug syndicates in the course of his administration’s war on drugs, which had been attacked due to the vigilante-style killings of drug suspects, many of them from poor communities.

Duterte EO

In March, Mr. Duterte issued Executive Order No. 15, creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), to oversee and synchronize government efforts to combat the proliferation of drugs in the country.

One of its tasks was to oversee anti-illegal drug operations and arrest high-value drug personalities and street-level peddlers and users. ICAD includes the military.

Consulta said police had needed “the cooperation of the community to give us information about the identities of drug personalities.”

So Pineda committed to use more of her office’s intelligence funds, as well as money from her own pockets, to help PDEA and the police refocus the local campaign on suppliers.

Swelling jails

While the drive to arrest street-level pushers has made headway, their arrests have more than tripled the number of detainees who were expected to clog the prisons as the justice system rolls so slowly, Pineda argued.

“The problem is that these suspects are all thrown at the provincial jail. They stay longer in jail because hearings are reset when witnesses or complainants among the police do not appear in court,” the governor said.

The provincial government spends around P2 million a month to feed about 2,300 inmates at the provincial jail. At least 70 percent of them have been locked up due to drug cases.

“The money should have been spent instead on education and health. We spend also on conferences but the illegal drug problem is not completely solved,” Pineda complained.

 

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