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NCRPO readies security for Duterte’s SONA

By Non Alquitran (The Philippine Star)

Photo: Members of the Manila Police District undergo civil disturbance management training at the Quirino Grandstand yesterday ahead of President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address on July 24. MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

MANILA, Philippines - The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will start this week its security preparations for President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, an official said yesterday.

NCRPO chief Director Oscar Albayalde said they would hold an anti-crowd disturbance management (CDM) competition in Manila’s Rizal Park on Saturday.

Albayalde said security measures during the SONA would be stricter because of some issues such as the martial law in Mindanao and the Marawi crisis.

The NCRPO will implement security adjustments for this year’s SONA upon orders from Malacañang, he said.

Last year, protesters were allowed to conduct rallies during Duterte’s first SONA.

Albayalde said officials of the Commission on Human Rights would meet with anti-riot policemen days before the SONA.

He said the NCRPO’s regional police safety battalion and public safety battalions of the five police districts would take part in the CDM competition.

Albayalde said the winners would receive cash gifts and “bragging rights.”

The NCRPO officials would discuss security deployment for the SONA with Quezon City Police District chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar, who is the overall commander of the police forces to be deployed to the Batasan Pambansa complex.


Taguig precinct chief nabbed for extortion

By Cecille Suerte Felipe and Non Alquitran (The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A precinct commander of the Taguig City police was arrested for allegedly extorting P30,000 from a truck driver whom he apprehended for supposed drug possession over the weekend.

Senior Inspector Cesar Espejo, head of the Police Community Precinct (PCP) 1, was collared along with six members of the security force of Barangay West Bicutan. They were Reggie Adrales, Bobby Tejero, Rolly Barcelo, Antonio Bontia, Antonio Bag-ao and Stephanie Villanueva.

The suspects were nabbed by operatives of the Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) in an entrapment operation on Saturday.

They were presented to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa after flag-raising rites at Camp Crame yesterday.

Espejo was charged with kidnapping and extortion before the Department of Justice, according to CITF director Chief Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo.

Malayo said they conducted an operation against Espejo and the other suspects in Bicutan after a truck driver complained that he and his helper were arrested on trumped-up drug charges.

The victims said the suspects demanded P30,000 in exchange for their release.

According to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde, Espejo admitted taking P5,000 from the P30,000 they demanded from the victims.

Espejo claimed that the remaining P25,000 was given to an alias Big Boy “as for the boys.”

The truck driver’s partner said he was released after paying Espejo P30,000 at the Sto. Nino Hospital in Taguig.

“The victim was rescued in the multi-purpose center of Barangay West Bicutan,” Dela Rosa said.

The PNP chief said the barangay tanods yielded 9mm pistols and .45-caliber revolvers.

They will be charged with kidnapping, usurpation of authority and illegal possession of firearms, Dela Rosa said.

Albayalde said Espejo would be temporarily assigned with the Regional Police Holding and Administrative Unit of the NCRPO prior to his reassignment to war-torn Marawi City.

Albayalde relieved all personnel of PCP 1 from their posts yesterday.

“I believe that they have been doing this illegal activities for a long time. They will undergo retraining in Bicutan,” he said.

He ordered Chief Superintendent Tomas Apolinario, director of the Southern Police District, to look for the replacement of Espejo and his men so as not to disrupt police operations in Barangay Western Bicutan.

Albayalde warned other precinct commanders in Metro Manila not to get involved in illegal drugs, kidnapping and extortion or they would suffer Espejo’s fate.


DND chief: Mindanao martial law legal, will get SC nod

By Maricel Halili, News5 | InterAksyon

Photo: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is seen in a Reuters interview at Camp Aquinaldo, February 9, 2017. The martial law administrator said he is confident the Supreme Court will uphold the legality of President Duterte's proclamation of ML in Mindanao. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the legality of the 60-day martial law declaration in Mindanao, which marked its halfway point last week, as government troops continue pitched battles with extremists led by the Maute Group.

According to Lorenzana, he was there when Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo M. Año discussed the security aspects of the threat posed by the terrorists, and he is confident the Supreme Court appreciated this well.

The high court, he said, is focused on ascertaining if there is factual basis for President Duterte’s Proclamation 216. Duterte issued this on the evening of May 23, or hours after the Maute-led group, allied with Abu Sayyaf’s Isnilon Hapilon, laid siege to Marawi City.

Hapilon has been tagged the Islamic State’s emir in Southeast Asia, as it seeks to establish new footholds after being driven out of its sanctuaries in Iraq and Syria.

Lorenzana said at a briefing Monday he thinks the government has clearly laid out such basis in the hearings conducted by the SC.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue Tuesday (July 4) its promulgation on the martial law declaration, which was the subject of five petitions.

“And I believe we have sufficiently or competently answered all the questions on the basis of martial law. And, yes, tomorrow is the day that they are going to promulgate the ruling. I look forward to seeing that they will say that this is legal for the President to declare martial law in the first place,” Lorenzana said.


Someone left this newborn in a NAIA trash can

By InterAksyon | Pat Mangune, News5


MANILA- Somebody left a full-term baby boy in a trash can at the arrival area of the NAIA Terminal 1 late Monday, airport authorities reported.

The boy was gasping and distressed when brought for examination to the Ramp Clinic of the Manila International Airport Authority, according to the incident report.

The boy was found by a janitress inside a cubicle at the restroom in the west side arrival area, from where a woman had just emerged. The janitress said she became curious when she tried to lift the trash can to clear it, and noticed it was heavy. That’s when she discovered the infant.

An airport nurse was called, and she brought the infant to the clinic for examination and first aid.

Oxygen inhalation and ambubagging were provided by the attending doctor, who also suctioned secretions from the infant’s nasal and oral area, said the report.

“After 20-30 minutes of continuous resuscitation, patient began to cry continously, heart rate increased from 100-140, color from neck to head turned pink,” said the incident report.

Airport authorities turned over the infant, described as a “full-term baby boy,” to the Pasay City General Hospital.

Janitress Maricel Guliman, who found the baby boy, had a message to the woman who left him in the trash can: “Sana makonsyensya ka, dalawin mo anak mo. Buhay siya. Pero kung ayaw mo, sigurado hindi ka patatahimikin ng budhi mo [I hope your conscience bothers you, and you’ll visit your son. He’s alive. But if you don’t want to do that, you’ll never find peace].”


Maynilad engineers win innovation contest

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Engineers of Maynilad Water Services Inc. won in the recently concluded 2017 IdeaSpace Startup Competition of IdeaSpace Foundation — a nonprofit organization which aims to help budding technology entrepreneurs develop innovations and transform these into businesses.

Maynilad engineers Edison Bao, Edwin Ryan Tsai, Alvin Borral and Cristopher Ganal won with their entry “Quick Construct Chamber,” an underground steel chamber that can be assembled and installed quickly to enclose pipe accessories during construction.

It bested 377 other ideas from all over the Philippines, earning for the Maynilad engineers P1 million worth of funding, training and services.




High school teacher killed in Vizcaya drug bust

By: Villamor Visaya Jr. - @inquirerdotnetInquirer Northern Luzon

CITY OF ILAGAN— A high school teacher was shot dead in a drug bust in Solano town, Nueva Vizcaya province on Friday.

Rogelio Andres was killed by policemen after he allegedly opened fire at an undercover agent to whom he sold a sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in Barangay (village) Curifang, according to Laurefel Gabales, Cagayan Valley regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Andres had been on the PDEA drug watch list since 2016, Gabales added.


Seized from Andres were two sachets of suspected shabu worth P1,000, a motorcycle, a Cal. 38 revolver, four bullets and two spent bullet cartridges. GAL



Raid of online firm in Philippines yields sex-trade data

(The Philippine Star)


MANILA, Philippines - An American real-estate company’s court-ordered raid of an online outsourcing company’s headquarters in the Philippines has yielded data linking the latter to an embattled classified advertising website accused of engaging in human trafficking and prostitution, an exclusive story by NBC News has reported.

CoStar, a multibillion-dollar enterprise behind, carried out the daring raid in the offices of Avion in an undisclosed location, emerging with 262 hard drives containing 35 terabytes of data that indicated it was used by Backpage to drum up business in the sex trade overseas, the report authored by Anna Schecter and Kenzi Abou-Sabe said.

Backpage is a US-based online site that has listings for a wide variety of products and services, including automotive, jobs and real estate. It has been under fire since 2011 for allegedly using its adult services subsection for prostitution that particularly involved minors.

The company is facing legal battles, including criminal charges refiled last year by the state of California against its chief executive officer (CEO) and two founders and a civil lawsuit now headed for trial in Washington state after the courts declined to dismiss it, according to the report.

Backpage was also subjected to a 20-month US Senate investigation that found it complicit in trafficking.

For its part, Avion has claimed it does nothing more than “host and moderate ads.”

The report said, however, that there were hackers at Avion “believed to be stealing proprietary real-estate photos and information on behalf of an industry rival.”

CoStar claimed that its raiding team’s yield contained proof that its intellectual property was being ripped off, but has been denied by its competitor.

CoStar senior vice president told NBC News that they got 1.7 million photographs in the December 2016 raid.

“It was building picture, building picture, porn, porn, prostitute ad, building picture and then – bang! – a picture that couldn’t be anything other than, you know, child pornography,” the report quoted Ricketts. “We just immediately shut the computer off, picked the phone up, called the attorneys. They called the FBI.”

Thousands of documents linking Avion to Backpage were found with the photographs, the report said.

Based on the yield of CoStar, Avion “worked to promote adult ad business on behalf of Backpage” overseas, including the United Kingdom and Australian markets.

Audio recordings of Avion workers contacting people who posted sexually explicit ads on rival escort sites and offering them a free ad on Backpage were also discovered during the raid, according to the report.

Citing a non-disclosure agreement he signed with Backpage, Avion CEO Von Nagasangan did not give any comment to NBC. Backpage legal counsel Liz McDougall also declined to say anything regarding the Philippine raid.


Duterte threatens to put martial law critics in jail

(The Philippine Star) 

Photo: President Rodrigo Duterte said he would only lift military rule in Mindanao if the security forces tell him that people on the island are safe from threats. PPD/File

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has threatened to put behind bars those who insist on lifting martial law in Mindanao even if the Marawi City crisis remains unresolved.

Duterte said he would only lift military rule in Mindanao if the security forces tell him that people on the island are safe from threats.

“When is the time to lift the martial law? And then I will ask the military and the police, ‘is this safe now?’ And when the chief of staff and the PNP (Philippine National Police) would say ‘everybody would be safe and it’s OK now,’ I will lift it,” the President said in a speech in Digos City, Davao del Sur on Saturday.

“Otherwise, it’s not dependent on the whim na punta kang Supreme Court, maniwala kaya ako? Tingin ko magulo pa, ipa-lift mo? Huhulihin kita, ipasok na tuloy kita sa kulungan (that if you go to the Supreme Court, will I believe you? I think it is still unstable, you will ask the court to lift it? I will have you arrested and place you in jail),” he said.

Duterte did not say what cases would be filed against critics who would insist on lifting martial law.

While Duterte claimed that he imposed military rule to save the people of Mindanao from terrorists, his critics believe he has no sufficient basis to do so and questioned his move before the Supreme Court.

The President declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23 after Islamic State-aligned Maute terrorists raided Marawi City to protect Abu Sayyaf leader and wanted terrorist Isnilon Hapilon from government troops. A total of 317 Maute group members, 82 government troopers and 39 civilians have died since clashes erupted.

The military has been claiming that the Maute group is losing strength since the early days of the Marawi siege but has yet to fully reclaim the predominantly Muslim city.

Security officials no longer set deadlines for the operations against the terrorists after repeatedly failing to meet self-imposed targets. They also could not say when the martial law in Mindanao would be lifted but stressed that the decision hinged on the assessment of ground commanders.

Security officials have repeatedly claimed that there was enough basis to impose martial law in Mindanao, saying they got reports that the terrorists had tried to establish an Islamic State province in Marawi City. They also revealed that money from illicit drugs trade is funding the terrorists’ activities.

Duterte, who has apologized to Marawi residents for declaring martial law, stressed that he does not enjoy imposing military rule in Mindanao.

“You don’t like martial law? S***. So be it. You don’t like it? Fine… Why should I enjoy declaring martial law? For what? I won by six million (votes). So what’s the problem? And you know, you do these things in Marawi, terrorists killing, beheading Christians and Moro alike, those fools, I will not forgive them,” the President said.

“Huwag mong ipapasubo ng… lalo na ang bayan ko (Do not place my country in danger). We can talk of anything else and make compromises maybe, but not when the interest of my country is at stake... That is not negotiable,” he added.

Duterte admitted that he reads daily updates about the Marawi crisis “with a heavy heart.”

“I am with a heavy heart because by the time I reach home, the briefers for the day are there and the narratives are there,” the President said.

“I get to read the so many soldiers and police who are dying... I’m telling you the truth: every time I read it, it’s too unsettling. Sometimes I cry, my tears will just flow if the numbers are great,” he added.

Duterte said his only consolation was the fact that he had to do his duty to preserve and defend the Filipino people from security threats.

SC to resolve ML legal issues tomorrow

Meanwhile, the SC is set resolve tomorrow the legal issues involving Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao.

An insider bared that the three consolidated petitions seeking to strike down Proclamation No. 216, which were heard in three-day oral arguments last month, have been included in the agenda of the high court’s regular session.

Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution gives the high court a 30-day deadline in resolving petitions against martial law proclamation.

The provision allows the SC to “review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within 30 days from its filing.”

The first of the three petitions was filed last June 5 by a group of opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. Two similar petitions filed by local Mindanao leaders led by lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat and a group of women from Marawi led by Norkaya Mohamad followed suit.

This means the SC has until July 5, Wednesday, to rule on the case.

The source said several justices have already submitted their opinions for deliberations and voting. The draft opinions, the insider hinted, showed differing positions on Duterte’s martial law and indicated a divided Court.

During oral arguments last June 13 to 15, petitioners asked the SC to void the martial law declaration and argued that there was no sufficient factual basis to justify martial law implementation as several information cited in the proclamation were “false, inaccurate and contrived.”

They further alleged that a key element in the act of rebellion – culpable purpose of removing allegiance from the Philippines and preventing the President and legislature from exercising their functions – was not present in the attack of local terror group Maute in Marawi City last May 23 that triggered martial law proclamation.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, on the other hand, defended the martial law declaration before the SC.

Not just terrorism

He said the attack of Maute was not just an act of terror, but clear rebellion and actually part of a plot to establish Islamic state in Mindanao.

Calida argued that elements of rebellion – raising arms against the government and culpable purpose of removing allegiance from the government – were present in the crisis that required the President to use his power of declaring martial law under the Constitution.

He cited linkages between Maute and other rebel groups in Mindanao like Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Abu Sayyaf.

Top martial law officials also appeared before the SC in a closed-door session to present the factual bases for Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año, martial law implementor, presented confidential information to the justices to justify the need to declare martial law.

In its memorandum, the Office of the Solicitor General has listed 20 other terrorist groups in Mindanao with similar ties to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that have launched attacks in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga and Davao. And their main objective is to remove the whole Mindanao from its allegiance to the Philippine government.

Calida also said that there were already 43 violent attacks by the terror cells consisting mostly of improvised explosive devices, harassment and kidnappings.

“As the survival of the State hangs in the balance, I implore the Honorable Supreme Court to sustain the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216, and allow the President to perform his constitutional mandate of protecting the people,” he appealed.

The SC is also set to resolve two other consolidated petitions seeking to compel the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene jointly to review Duterte’s martial law declaration.

Calida has also asked the SC to junk the petitions filed by separate groups led by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada for lack of merit.

Calida argued that Congress is not required to convene in joint session to support a martial law declaration under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.

The provision states: “The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

In the existing jurisprudence on post-Marcos martial law, the SC considered martial law as a political decision when it ruled on former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of martial law after the Maguindanao massacre in 2009 was questioned before the tribunal.

In April 2012, the SC dismissed the seven petitions challenging the martial declaration only on the basis of being moot and academic because martial law was only effective for eight days following the massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao, mostly journalists, on Nov. 23, 2009 by the Ampatuan clan and their private army.

The high tribunal did not settle the constitutional issues raised in the petitions against Arroyo’s Proclamation No. 1959, the first case of a president declaring martial law since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. – With Edu Punay, AFP

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