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Ex-PNP chief ordered arrested

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has ordered the issuance of arrest warrant against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and 10 other individuals for a graft case in connection the alleged anomalous courier service deal that the PNP entered into in 2011.
 
In a minute resolution promulgated on May 18, released to the media on Thursday, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division said that after evaluating of the information of the case, as well as the evidence submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman, it found probable cause to order the arrest of Purisima and his co-accused for the court to hold them on trial.
 
“After judicious scrutiny and evaluation of the [case] Information and resolution of the prosecutor, the evidence in support thereof and the records of the preliminary investigation attached thereto, the Court finds that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause and the for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against all the accused charged in the instant cases,” the court’s ruling read.
 
Aside from Purisima, ordered arrested were the following former police officials:
  • Former Civil Service Security Group chief Gil Meneses
  • Former Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) chief Napoleon Estilles
  • Former FEO assistant chief Allan Parreño
  • Former FEO Education and Enforcement Management Division chief Melchor Reyes
  • Servicing Legal Officer Ford Tuazon
Also ordered arrested were five private individuals who were incorporators of the courier service company Werfast Documentary Agency, Inc., namely; Mario Juan, Salud Bautista, Enrique Valerio, Lorna Perena and Juliana Pasia.
 
The Ombudsman earlier recommended P30,000 bail bond for each accused in exchange for their provisional liberty.
 
In its resolution, the 6th Division said the respective motions for judicial determination of probable cause with prayer for the dismissal of the case, recently filed by Purisima and the other respondents are now rendered “moot and academic” as the court has made its own determination of probable cause even before the respondents filed their motions.
 
“The Court, has, in fact, independently determined for itself the existence of probable as to merit the arrest of the accused, acquire jurisdiction over their persons, and to proceed to trial,” the ruling read.
 
In his 34-page motion filed with the Sixth Division last week, Purisima maintained that the case filed against him lacked evidence and was done in haste to prosecute him and the other police officers.
 
“This case best exemplifies the classic obsession or passion of the Ombudsman, riding on slanted news reports concocted by paid spin doctors, to indict with undue haste public officials who have been subjected to trial by publicity,” Purisima’s motion read.
 
The court, however, said that the arguments raised by Purisima and the other respondents in their motions were “matters of defense that are best raised and threshed out during trial”.
 
Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan on May 6, the graft case stemmed from the courier service contract that the PNP entered into with Werfast in 2011 for the delivery of firearms licenses of applicants.
 
Based on the information of the case, the contract was awarded to Werfast without holding a public bidding and despite the company’s supposed lack of track record and qualifications as a courier service firm.
 
The Ombudsman said Werfast was not yet registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when the contract was entered in May 2011. The Ombudsman said the company was also not authorized by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to offer courier delivery service. —NB/APG, GMA News
 
 
 
 
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Free De Lima campaign launched

MANILA -- Supporters of Senator Leila De Lima on Tuesday, May 23, launched a signature campaign to demand her immediate release from detention.
Led by the Free Leila Movement, the supporters aim to collect at least one million signatures in the campaign and submit it to the Supreme Court to show a strong call for De Lima's freedom.
 
"Kami po... ay nandito ngayon upang ilunsad ang Signature Campaign para sa kagyat na pagpapalaya kay Senator Leila De Lima," Ma. Regina Mabalatan of the Free Leila Movement said during a press conference in Quezon City.
 
"Nananawagan din po kami sa Supreme Court na mag-desisyon base sa substance ng kaso, at hindi sa mababaw na teknikalidad," she added.
 
 
De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, over allegations that she let the illegal drug trade to proliferate inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during her term as justice secretary, supposedly exchange for funds for her senatorial campaign last year.
 
The senator had turned to the Supreme Court to nullify the arrest warrant and the court proceedings for her cases.
 
Mabalatan believes that the evidence against De Lima, who is a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, were defective.
 
"Wala ni isang matibay na ebidensiya ang naipakita... tanging mga fake deposit slips lamang po," Mabalatan said.
 
She added that despite claims that De Lima got millions of pesos from the illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary, no bank accounts were shown to prove this.
 
Groups such as the Filipino Advocates for Integrity, Transparency and Honor, The Silent Majority, the Democratic Alliance Movement of the Philippines - International (DAMPI), the Coalition Against Darkness and Dictators, among others, have also thrown support for De Lima's release.
 
Aside from her drug-related cases, De Lima was also charged with disobedience to summons for allegedly advising her former driver Ronnie Dayan to skip the House of Representatives justice committee's hearing on the alleged proliferation of illegal drug trade at the NBP.
 
 
The Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 34 currently handles this case.
 
Atty. Lorelee Margaret Granado, De Lima's counsel, said during the press conference that they have already filed a motion for reconsideration urging the trial court to dismiss her case resolution on this motion before June 9, the scheduled start of the trial proper for the disobedience to summons case. — GMA News
 
 
 
 
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More direct China to PH flights expected

MANILA  — Direct flights from China’s Guangxi Province to the country's top tourist destinations Davao, Cebu and Clark can soon be expected to bring in additional tourists from China.
This after the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently closed a deal with Chinese state-owned Guangxi Tourism Development Group Co., Ltd. to mount these additional flights during the recent “Belt and Road Forum” in Beijing.
“This undertaking will open up secondary gateways in the Philippines to the Chinese market and bring in additional tourists from mainland China,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in a statement.
Teo, who was with the entourage of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, said the chartered flights add to the list of air carriers that directly service 13 Chinese cities for trips to Manila, Kalibo, Cebu and Laoag.
It was not mentioned which airline will be providing the services or when the services will start.-- PNA
She, however, described the deal as a “win-win” situation for both parties and expressed excitement for the launch of the said flights.
“We are excited about Guangxi’s commitment, as we tap its 55 million population of what is considered the Asian center of economy and finance,” she added.
Meanwhile, tour operator Sun Fair International, which has offices in Xiamen and Hong Kong, has already committed additional ten thousand Chinese tourists coming from the cities of Shanghai, Xiamen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Beijing, starting this month.
The additional Chinese tourists will make up a diverse group of leisure travelers, divers and adventure seekers to rollers, businessmen, culinary travelers to shoppers, and even employees on company paid tours, Sun Fair International said in a statement.
Proposed local destinations include Manila, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Surigao, Subic, and Negros Occidental. (Azer N. Parrocha/PNA)
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DSWD-7 sends 10,000 food packs for Marawi evacuees

By: /cebudailynews.inquirer.net

 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas (DSWD-7) is sending 10,000 packs of food items for the Marawi siege victims.
Lea Quintana, the information officer of DSWD-7, said that they had sent the first batch of 6,600 packs last night.

“It is expected to arrive in Iligan City tomorrow (Friday) afternoon. Our DSWD counterpart in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will receive and do the distribution.” Quintana told Cebu Daily News in an interview.

The 10,000 food packs were based on the request of the DSWD-ARMM last Wednesday for the Marawi siege evacuees.

Each food pack consists of six kilos of rice, four cans of canned meat, four cans of sardines and six sachets of coffee. Each food pack costs P360.
Quintana said that the remaining 3,400 packs of the 10,000 food packs for the Marawi siege victims will be sent today (Friday).

She also said the repacking of more food packs would continue at the Visayas Disaster Response Center in Barangay Casuntingan, Mandaue City in case more food packs would be requested.

The Visayas Disaster Response Center can produce 50,000 food packs within 24 hours of operation.

She also advised those who would want to donate food items for the Marawi siege victims to coordinate with their local government units for proper coordination and communication.

The DSWD-7 has also readied 30,000 standby packs of nonfood items in case a request will arrive in their office.

Each non-food item pack consists of blanket, mosquito net, kit with toothbrush, soap, shampoo and underwear.

DSWD-7 is also ready to send social workers to help manage evacuation sites and help the Department of Health personnel in conducting stress debriefing to the evacuees.

 

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PH role in FB revenge porn, ‘sextortion’ possible – expert

BY MA. LISBET K. ESMAEL/The Manila Times

Facebook’s leaked documents revealing cases of revenge porn and “sextortion” could have also infested the Philippines as it has 40 million active users, an Information Technology (IT) specialist said on Thursday.

Revenge porn diplays “sexually explicit photos/videos” of the victims on the Internet without her/his permission, and sextortion uses sexual images to blackmail the victim in exchange for sex or money.

“The possibility that some accounts from the Philippines were involved with these acts is high, since Filipinos are very active in social media, and that our country is sadly known in the porn industry,” IT specialist Darrel Jed Costales said in an interview with The Manila Times.

In 2016 alone, the Philippine National Police-Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) conducted 40 police operations, arresting 150 people involved in extortion, cybersex operations and violations of anti-photo and video voyeurism law.

Facebook documents leaked to the London-based The Guardian exposed that the site had to assess 54, 000 potential cases of revenge porn and sextortion–and 33, 000 of those involved child abuses. This led the social networking site to dismiss 14, 000 accounts worldwide in January, The Guardian posted online.

The newspaper revealed moderators were told to allow videos of abortions “to remain on Facebook as long as they do not contain nudity,” while video records of violent deaths do not have “to be deleted because they can help create awareness of issues such as mental illness.”

It said ‘handmade’ art that shows nudity and sexual activity can remain in the site,” but digital art showing sexual activity, however, cannot.

The Guardian also exposed non-sexual physical abuse and bullying of children need not be deleted “unless there is a sadistic or celebratory element.”

Facebook earlier disclosed that it had only 4, 500 content moderators for its 1.94 billion users, the reason why moderators only have seconds to decide what to delete because the website has become ‘too big, too quickly,” its report said.

Because of this, Facebook promised to hire more than 3, 000 people to review content. But some organizations still see this as a disturbing fact.

As reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News, British charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) expressed its frustration about how Facebook works, describing it “alarming to say the least.”

“It needs to do more than hire an extra 3, 000 moderators. Facebook, and other social media companies, need to be independently regulated and fined when they fail to keep children safe,” the organization said.

“Any suspicious sites that promote child pornography should be banned,” Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International representative Geraldine Maleon Gutierrez also told The Manila Times.

She said Facebook should implement stricter plans and responsible actions for the controversy, adding that Facebook administrators “should be responsible enough in any posts that will endanger children from all forms and abuse, and have a mechanism that will help the authorities to track down and punish abusers.”

Gutierrez added that users have to be responsible and vigilant as well “in reporting any forms of abuse on child pornography, revenge forms and other acts that will perpetuate abuses on children.”

“Users of social media sites should not share revenge porn, instead they should alert the authorities and concern agencies to help the victims. Users should be aware also of the laws regarding child’s right such as Republic Act 7610 [An Act providing for stronger deterrence and special protection against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination, and for other purposes] for them to appropriately respond in a manner that will protect the victim’s identity,” Gutierrez explained.

The Guardian said Facebook refused to comment on the figures in the documents but insisted that it “constantly reviews and improves its policies.”

“We get things wrong, and we’re constantly working to make sure that happens less often. We put a lot of detailed thought into trying to find right answers, even when there aren’t any,” wrote Monica Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, in her column in response to the issue.

She said, “I hope that readers will understand that we take our role extremely seriously. For many of us on the team within Facebook, safety is a passion that predates our work at the company.”

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The Russians are coming, says tourism chief

By: Jerome Aning - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo on Thursday said she and her Russian counterparts have signed a cooperation agreement that would pave the way for more Russian tourists visiting Philippine travel destinations.

The Joint Action Program of Tourism Cooperation (JAPTC), signed by Teo and officials of the Federal Agency of Tourism of Russia, was one of nine bilateral agreements sealed by the two countries during President Duterte’s shortened visit.

“The Russians are coming though they are very particular about safety and security in any prospective destination. The agreement signifies Moscow’s confidence in the Philippine government’s capability to resolve peace and order issues,” Teo said in a statement.

She noted that Russia was listed among the “high growth markets” posting 9,152 arrivals in January-February period this year, a 29.24-percent increase from last year.

With the rising number of Russian tourists, Teo said Russian government was exploring the possibilities of organizing a Russian language training program for Filipino tourism industry workers.

The JAPTC is also expected to expand tourist flow between the Philippines and Russia as both parties agree to assist each other in establishing contacts between Philippine and Russian national tourism organizations, Teo said.

The JAPTC states that both parties would exchange information related to ensure tourists’ safety in the territory of the country.

While in Moscow, the tourism secretary met with private tourism businessmen, including the Russian travel and tour agency Vand International, Svetlana Muromskaya, who had already visited the Philippines 11 times.

“Our clients have very good opinion of the Philippines. The people, especially, are very nice. Fifty percent of Russians who go to the Philippines become repeat clients. They come back after a year or two,” the Department of Tourism quoted Muromskaya as saying.

Muromskaya said that aside from education and training, the exchange of information and expertise among tourist organizations of both countries was crucial in spurring tourism activity.

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160 without IDs held in Davao City

By: Philip C. Tubeza - @inquirerdotnetInquirer Mindanao

Photo: CHECKPOINT Soldiers frisk aMuslim man at a checkpoint near Marawi City. Authorities have been verifying the identities of people in key cities in Mindanao after President Duterte proclaimed martial law on the island in thewake of clashes between government security forces and terrorists linked to the Islamic State group. —BULLITMARQUEZ/AP

CHECKPOINT Soldiers frisk a Muslim man at a checkpoint near Marawi City. Authorities have been verifying the identities of people in key cities in Mindanao after President Duterte proclaimed martial law on the island in thewake of clashes between government security forces and terrorists linked to the Islamic State group. —BULLIT MARQUEZ/AP

Some 160 people were arrested on Thursday morning in two communities in Davao City for failing to present “valid” identification cards, as checkpoints mushroomed in President Duterte’s hometown. They were later released after proper documentation.

In Cotabato City, the government has started implementing a “no ID, no entry” policy “to ensure that no intruders will be able to penetrate and disturb the residents (at the barangay level),” Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said in a statement.

Rule of law

Amid the stepped-up security measures, the Department of National Defense and the Philippine National Police assured the public that authorities would respect basic human rights and follow the rule of law after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao.

In a memorandum on Wednesday, Defense Undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario said martial law did not suspend the Constitution and the rule of law “should prevail” in Mindanao.

“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and all bureaus and agencies of this department are hereby enjoined that the rule of law and human rights should prevail in the place or part of the Philippines where martial law was declared,” Del Rosario said.

He said martial law did not supplement “the functioning of the Philippine judicial and legislative assemblies,” and that it also did not give military courts jurisdiction over civilians.

“Any arrest, search and seizure executed or implemented in the area or place where martial law is effective, including the filing of charges, should comply with the Revised Rules of Court and applicable jurisdiction,” Del Rosario said.

Do’s and don’ts

In a press conference in Camp Crame, Chief Insp. Jose Najera of the PNP Legal Service said rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution would be strictly followed when policemen made arrests or searches.

Najera presented a draft list of “do’s and don’ts under martial law” to be sent to all police commanders across the country.

“The rights accorded citizens or the rights enshrined in the Constitution are still operative. There are no changes when making warrantless searches and (arrests),” he said.

Quoting the PNP list of do’s and don’ts, Najera said the police and the military could not make warrantless arrests outside the circumstances listed under the Rules of Court.

“All PNP personnel shall at all times respect the human rights and dignity of the suspect,” Najera said.

He said the PNP should continue to follow Republic Act No. 7438, or the law on the rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation, and the Antitorture Law of 2009.

3 days of detention

“No arrested person should be charged beyond the period of three days. After (three days), the detained person shall be released,” Najera said.

He said civilians could not be tried in military courts while civil courts and legislative assemblies continue to function.

Najera said martial law also “does not impair the right to bail.”

Nothing to fear

“There is nothing to fear for the issuance of martial law in Mindanao. The objective and goal is for the benefit of people in Mindanao, particularly Marawi,” said the PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos.

“As you can see, our guidelines to our forces is not to abuse the rights of the citizenry,” he said.

Sen. Franklin Drilon said the Bill of Rights could not be set aside under martial law.

Even with the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the rule on warrantless arrests still apply, Drilon said in a statement

In Cotabato City, every motorist is required to log in at checkpoints and to present valid IDs after reports that some inmates of Marawi City jail were rescued by the Maute group. Some of the inmates were Maute members who were from the city.

In Cagayan de Oro City, it was business as usual, although more policemen could be seen outside shopping malls and business establishments.

In Tagum City, Davao del Norte province, policemen manning checkpoints have become more strict in inspecting vehicles and pieces of baggage.

Entering Davao City has become more difficult, as policemen manning checkpoints closely examine passengers and vehicles.

Just another ordinary day. Locals pause for selfie shots at an armored personnel carrier manned by the Task Force Davao and positioned right outside the City Hall. Photo by Joselle R. Badilla
Just another ordinary day. Locals pause for selfie shots at an armored personnel carrier manned by the Task Force Davao and positioned right outside the City Hall. Photo by Joselle R. Badilla

Tank at Davao City Hall

A tank was stationed at City Hall, becoming an instant favorite background for people who took photos with soldiers.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said checkpoints were expected to mushroom in the city.

“Ensure that you have updated vehicle registration papers and drivers’ licenses. Ensure that you have valid and existing licenses for your personal guns. You cooperate with the AFP and the PNP in the conduct of checkpoints,” she said.

She also advised individuals to “always bring valid IDs.” —WITH REPORTS FROM ALLAN NAWAL, EDWIN O. FERNANDEZ, FRINSTON LIM AND JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE

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BIR files P152-M tax evasion raps vs 3 firms

Tax evasion charges were filed on Thursday by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) before the Department of Justice (DoJ) against three trading firms amounting to P151.78 million.

In separate complaints lodged before the DoJ, charged were Condi Commercial Corporation, PSTI Food and Quicksellers and their respective corporate officers.

 

In the first complaint, the BIR charged Quicksellers of evading payment of P127,435,201.66 in taxes for 2010. The Mandaluyong City-based firm is said to be a distributor of products manufactured by consumer goods giant Unilever.

It accused Condi of failing to pay P12,890,267.37 in taxes for 2007.
Condi, which is based in Quezon City, is involved in the trading of goods such as condiments, foodstuff and beverages on wholesale or retail basis.

PSTI Food, a processed-food seller, was assessed with a tax liability of P11,456,309.44, also for 2007.

The bureau said the respondents were served notices of their tax liabilities but failed to either protest or to submit additional documents to refute the tax assessments, thus making such assessments “final, executory and demandable.”

The BIR is asking the Justice department to conduct necessary preliminary investigation and charged the three business firms in court as evidence warrants. JOMAR CANLAS/The Manila Times

 

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