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Abu Sayyaf member with P600,000 bounty nabbed in Basilan
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A report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited a report to officials including Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. indicating Filipinos are among the Southeast Asians being lured to conflict zones in the Middle East. Some Islamic militants are home-grown, just like the Abu Sayyaf (in photo), who have links with al-Qaeda terrorists. (Photo from http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Abu_Sayyaf_Group_(ASG))

A report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited a report to officials including Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. indicating Filipinos are among the Southeast Asians being lured to conflict zones in the Middle East. Some Islamic militants are home-grown, just like the Abu Sayyaf (in photo), who have links with al-Qaeda terrorists. (Photo from http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Abu_Sayyaf_Group_(ASG))

MANILA, Oct 20 (Mabuhay) — An Abu Sayyaf member with a P600,000 bounty on his head was arrested Wednesday by government security forces in a manhunt operation in Maluso, Basilan.

A news release from the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on Thursday said Ibrahim Akbar, also known as Ustadz Atti Lintogan, Ustadz Atti, or Ustadz Namir, was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant.

Akbar is facing charges of multiple murder with multiple frustrated murder.

CIDG Region 9 chief Senior Superintendent Anthony Aberin said Akbar was involved in a bombing attack in Kidapawan City in 2006, and the abduction of Spanish priest Bernardo Blanco in 1993. He was also allegedly involved in a firefight against military troops in 1982 in Basilan.

Elements of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police Special Action Force, and Maluso Municipal Police joined the CIDG in the manhunt operation.

The Abu Sayyaf is a loosely organized band of Islamic fundamentalists operating in Basilan and Sulu and is known to conduct bombing and kidnapping activities.

Meanwhile, the CIDG served four search warrants against against two members of a criminal group on Thursday morning in Maghayag, Zamboanga Del Sur.

Authorities identified the suspects as Julie Monsanto Lato and Rodrigo Monsanto Lato Jr., both alleged members of the Lato Gun-for-Hire Group.

The suspects will face charges in violation the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act and Illegal Possession of Explosives for possessing a hand grenade, shotgun, one caliber .45 pistol, magazines, and assorted ammunition. (MNS)

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De Lima tells House: Move on from ‘circus of sex, violence and videotape melodrama’
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  Senator Leila de Lima ,President Benigno Aquino III , New Bilid Prison, Justice Secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre II , Liberal Party

Senator Leila de Lima ,President Benigno Aquino III , New Bilid Prison,
Justice Secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre II , Liberal Party

MANILA, Oct 20 (Mabuhay) — Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday said the House of Representatives should now move on from the “circus of sex, violence and videotape melodrama” it has turned into after the justice committee released its findings on the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

In a statement, De Lima said the House justice panel investigation missed its opportunity to unearth the extent of the NBP drug trade because it focused its inquiry on her.

“I would say, though, that I hope that, somehow, something positive would come out of all of these after all the public shaming and maligning that I was put through – not to my embarrassment, but, in truth, to the embarrassment of the House of Representatives, which was turned into a circus of sex, violence and videotape melodrama,” De Lima said.

“The inquiry has missed the opportunity to unearth the true extent and reason for the drug problem by being so myopic in scope, as it was obsessively focused solely on my alleged involvement,” she added.

De Lima, former Justice secretary, said she hopes that the inquiry would result into true and lasting reforms in the country’s correction facilities, and the approval of the necessary legislation, such as the BuCor Modernization Act, and true and lasting reforms in our correctional facilities.

“Sana nga lang ay maka-move on na ang House Committee on Justice, at ang House of Representatives sa kabuuan.  I pray that they can now proceed with the conduct of business in a dignified manner worthy of the trust of the Filipino people,” De Lima said.

The House plenary on Wednesday approved the findings of the justice committee, which said that it “clearly established” the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP when De Lima was the DOJ secretary.

The report said “sufficient evidence point to her involvement and possible accountability in these illegal activities.”

The panel, however, left it to the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman to determine whether charges should be filed against De Lima.

DOJ has no business in conducting probe

But De Lima chided the DOJ, saying it has no business conducting any kind of investigation against her, whether fact-finding or preliminary.

The senator reiterated that only the Office of the Ombudsman has the constitutional mandate to recommend her prosecution, if warranted.

“The DOJ, in the person of the Secretary of Justice, cannot be complainant, preliminary investigator, and public prosecutor against me all at the same time since clearly, its own Secretary has already prejudged any case that might be filed against me with the DOJ,” De Lima added.

De Lima maintained that she is innocent of the allegations thrown against her.

She said it was only her, as DOJ secretary, who was able to lead the raids that exposed illegal activities inside the NBP.

“Malinis at payapa ang konsensya ko. Any allegation to the contrary is a brazen falsehood motivated by nothing else but a grossly undemocratic desire to shame me into silence about other critical issues, such as the spate of extrajudicial killings,” she said.

She said the findings of the House committee actually vindicates her as it did not recommend charges against her.

“That the House fell short of making that recommendation…is a Pontius Pilate act, where the Congressmen washed their hands of the despicable act of casting the fate of an innocent person to the judgment of a rioting mob, demanding a blood sacrifice for their entertainment,” De Lima said.  (MNS)

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  Zsa Zsa Padilla and Conrad Onglao are back together.
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Zsa Zsa Padilla (MNS photo)

Zsa Zsa Padilla (MNS photo)

Five months after calling off their engagement, the two have reconciled, according to a newspaper report.

Padilla refused to reveal other details, explaining that she prefers to keep things “private.”

She added that she wants her and Onglao’s second chance at their relationship to last “forever.”

Padilla and Onglao were a couple for more than two years before splitting up.

Prior to Onglao, Padilla was the long-time partner of the late comedian Dolphy.

Onglao, on the other hand, was previously married to interior designer Ivy Almario, with whom he has two sons. They were divorced in the United States and obtained legal separation, and church annulment in the Philippines.

Karylle, the daughter of Padilla, told reporters in May that her mother and Onglao decided to call it quits.

In a statement released weeks after the news broke, Onglao said that he loves and respects Padilla, and expressed hopes for a reconciliation. He went on to say that Padilla is the “best thing” that has ever happened to him.

At the time, Padilla said that she was already in the process of “healing,” with the support of her family and friends.(MNS)

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Defense chief: Duterte didn’t consult Cabinet on stand to cut military exercises with US
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President Duterte looks at the perspective of the proposed Drug Addiction Treatment Center to be donated by the Friends of the Philippines Foundation: President Rodrigo R. Duterte looks at the architect’s perspective and blueprint of the proposed Drug Addiction Treatment Center to be donated by the Friends of the Philippines Foundation during a lunch meeting at Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing, China on Wednesday (Oct. 19, 2016). (Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD/PNA)

President Duterte looks at the perspective of the proposed Drug Addiction Treatment Center to be donated by the Friends of the Philippines Foundation: President Rodrigo R. Duterte looks at the architect’s perspective and blueprint of the proposed Drug Addiction Treatment Center to be donated by the Friends of the Philippines Foundation during a lunch meeting at Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing, China on Wednesday (Oct. 19, 2016). (Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD/PNA)

MANILA, Oct 19 (Mabuhay) – President Rodrigo Duterte did not consult officials of his Cabinet before he made statements in scrapping the Philippines’ joint military exercises with the United States, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

At the Commission on Appointments (CA) panel hearing on Lorenzana’s ad interim appointment, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon asked: “You cannot deny that we are also benefiting from this (PH-US joint exercises), so why should we terminate this?”

Lorenzana then replied: “Mr. chair, I really don’t know because the President has been issuing statements without consulting the Cabinet.”

Lorenzana said there is no final decision yet to suspend the military exercises next year. “It is still on,” he said.

He said Duterte has asked him to make a presentation to the Cabinet soon with regards to the status of military exercises, and other agreements and treaties.

The Defense secretary earlier said that the US “are still hoping” to conduct military exercise with the Philippines.

Duterte had said that the recently concluded exercises with the US military will be the last under his term.

The President had also expressed openness to war games with China and Russia. (MNS)

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Tobacco products to carry graphic health warnings starting Nov. 4
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Cigarette packs with graphic health warnings: Anna Kapunan (center), spokesperson of Katipunars PSLINK, an association of nurses, shows samples of cigarette packs with graphic health warnings during a press briefing on Saving Lives Through the Full Implementation of the Graphic Health Warnings Law held at Max's Restaurant, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City on Wednesday (Oct. 19, 2016). With her in photo are (from right): Jorge Banal, president, Federation of Senior Citizens Associations of the Philippines; and Engr. Emer Rojas, president, New Vois Association of the Philippines. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends graphic health warnings and higher taxes on tobacco products as two of the most effective ways to stop people from smoking. (PNA photo by Johnny D. Guevarra)

Cigarette packs with graphic health warnings: Anna Kapunan (center), spokesperson of Katipunars PSLINK, an association of nurses, shows samples of cigarette packs with graphic health warnings during a press briefing on Saving Lives Through the Full Implementation of the Graphic Health Warnings Law held at Max’s Restaurant, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City on Wednesday (Oct. 19, 2016). With her in photo are (from right): Jorge Banal, president, Federation of Senior Citizens Associations of the Philippines; and Engr. Emer Rojas, president, New Vois Association of the Philippines. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends graphic health warnings and higher taxes on tobacco products as two of the most effective ways to stop people from smoking. (PNA photo by Johnny D. Guevarra)

MANILA, Oct. 19 (PNA) – Beginning Nov. 4, all tobacco products being manufactured and imported for sale in the Philippines must contain graphic health warnings in compliance with Republic Act No. 10643.

“This means that cigarette packs must carry graphic health warnings and products with text only warnings are no longer allowed to be sold anywhere in the country,” Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) and a throat cancer survivor, said during a press briefing held in Quezon City Wednesday.

Ratified in July 2014, RA 10643 mandates that all tobacco products being sold in the country carry graphic health warnings in the lower portion of the cigarette packs, covering at least 50 percent of both sides of the packages.

A total of 12 templates or images of the actual health effects of smoking, including a photo of Rojas who had stage 4 laryngeal cancer from smoking, have been approved by the Department of Health (DOH) to be used in the packages.

The Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law imposes a maximum penalty of PHP2 million or a five-year imprisonment and revocation of business permit against erring manufacturers, exporters and distributors.

“We are hoping that all manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are aware of the deadline for compliance to the law and that none of them will be sending out packs without picture warnings,” Rojas said.

Likewise, Rojas warned ‘sari-sari’ or convenience stores that they too must comply with the GHW law.

He said such stores should stop accepting cigarette packs with no graphic warnings from their suppliers.

Proceeds from fines collected from violators may be used to partially fund health promotion campaigns of the departments of health and education. The law requires the education department to use the graphic health warning templates to teach students about the harmful effects of smoking by incorporating them in relevant subjects under the K-12 curriculum.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Inter-Agency Committee on Tobacco (IAC-T) are mandated to monitor the compliance of the tobacco industry.

Data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue showed that as of May 25 this year, all six local manufacturers have already complied with the DOH-prescribed templates.

The World Health Organization recommends graphic health warnings on tobacco products as one of the most effective ways to stop people from smoking.

Ellirie Aviles, president of the youth group Sigaw ng Kabataan Coalition, warned tobacco companies not to target them as replacement customers and vowed to support the law through monitoring on the ground.

“The youth should not be the replacement smokers for the sick and dying customers of the cigarette companies. All government agencies must protect us from tobacco addiction, too. Let us support the implementation of the GHW law. We, the youth, shall monitor its full implementation,” said Aviles.

Anna Marie Kapunan, spokesperson of an association of nurses, likewise aired her concern over the lives lost in exchange for tobacco profits.

“We should prioritize human health over profits and we should not sacrifice human lives over capital and income. It is our fervent hope that all stakeholders respect and obey the provisions of RA 10643,” said Kapunan.

The country reportedly has 17.3 million adult smokers puffing an average of 11 sticks a day.

The GHW law complements the smoke-free Philippines initiatives of President Rodrigo Duterte and of the DOH.

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Pimentel asked to explain why JV Ejercito has not been suspended
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PIMENTEL ADMINISTERS OATH TO NEW S.E.N.A.D.O. OFFICERS: Senate President Koko Pimentel (8th from right) administers the oath of office to the newly elected officers of the Samahan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa Sa Adhikain Ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (S.E.N.A.D.O.), Tuesday, October 18, 2016. In photo are (from left), Pedro Tolentino, Jun Nicolas, Jr., Joseph Maico, Ollie Sulit, Ditas Ampa, Jocelyn Tomarong Celda, Atty. Joseph Babia (President), Joyce Dela Cruz, Maryjane Uskaner, Caloy Begino, Daks Millamena (Vice-President), Pedro Samaniego, and Roger Pacete. (MNS photo)

PIMENTEL ADMINISTERS OATH TO NEW S.E.N.A.D.O. OFFICERS: Senate President Koko Pimentel (8th from right) administers the oath of office to the newly elected officers of the Samahan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa Sa Adhikain Ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (S.E.N.A.D.O.), Tuesday, October 18, 2016. In photo are (from left), Pedro Tolentino, Jun Nicolas, Jr., Joseph Maico, Ollie Sulit, Ditas Ampa, Jocelyn Tomarong Celda, Atty. Joseph Babia (President), Joyce Dela Cruz, Maryjane Uskaner, Caloy Begino, Daks Millamena (Vice-President), Pedro Samaniego, and Roger Pacete. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 19 (Mabuhay) – State prosecutors have asked Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to explain the delay in implementing the suspension order against Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito in connection with his pending graft trial.

In a motion submitted to the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division, state prosecutors also asked the office of San Juan City mayor Guia Gomez to explain why it has yet to suspend city administrator Ranulfo Barte Dacalos and City Legal Officer Romualdo Corpuz Delos Santos, who are among Ejercito’s co-accused in the case.

State prosecutors argued that the August 22 resolution of the Sandiganbayan on Ejercito and his co-accused’s suspension has become final and executory since the Supreme Court has also not issued a writ of preliminary injunction in response to the writ of certiorari filed by the senator and his co-accused.

They also noted that none of the accused have filed a motion for reconsideration to appeal the court’s decision.

The Sandiganbayan ordered the suspension of Ejercito and his two co-accused for 90 days in connection with the graft case they are facing over the the allegedly anomalous purchase of firearms in 2008.

Despite the finality of the Sandiganbayan’s suspension order, state prosecutors said they have yet to receive notices from the offices of Pimentel and Gomez that the three officials have already been suspended.

Pimentel informed the Sandiganbayan in a letter sent late August that the suspension order was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday after the hearing for his travel motion, Ejercito said Pimentel is still awaiting developments regarding the demurrer of evidence he has filed before the Sandiganbayan.

“The Senate President is waiting for the result on the demurrer. It (the decision) will depend on that,” he said.

A demurrer to evidence seeks the dismissal of the case halfway through the trial based solely on the evidence presented by the prosecution.

Ejercito said the suspension order against him will become moot and academic if the anti-graft court grants his demurrer to evidence. (MNS)

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Baler under state of calamity
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By Jason de Asis

PAGASA Weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio points to the eye of Typhoon "Lawin" during a press conference on Tuesday. Lawin (International name Haima), which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility Monday afternoon, is predicted to make landfall in Cagayan province on Thursday morning. (MNS photo)

PAGASA Weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio points to the eye of Typhoon “Lawin” during a press conference on Tuesday. Lawin (International name Haima), which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility Monday afternoon, is predicted to make landfall in Cagayan province on Thursday morning. (MNS photo)

BALER, Aurora, Oct. 19 (PNA) – This capital town of Aurora was placed under a state of calamity late Tuesday afternoon due to the effects of typhoon Karen.

In a special session, the SB unanimously approved the recommendation of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) to declare Baler under a state of calamity to be able to release calamity funds needed to assist the victims of typhoon Karen.

On motion of councilor Francisco B. Zubia III which was affirmed by the rest of the SB members in session, they declared this town under a state of calamity until such time that the effects of the disaster have been mitigated and situation in the area has stabilized.

Resolution no. 069-2016 was likewise approved by Mayor Nelianto C. Bihasa.

This town was heavily hit by Karen which brought extensive damages to properties and livelihood in which a great number of population were affected and in need of emergency assistance, including those individuals and families whose houses were destroyed.

Based on the report from the MDRRMO, damage to agriculture brought by typhoon Karen when it made a landfall Sunday in this capital town of Aurora has initially reached to more than PHP53.48 million.

Gabriel Llave, MDRRMO chief, said some PHP52.47 million worth of palay crops were devastated by the typhoon in some 1,076.25 hectares of land, affecting some 672 farmers here.

Llave also said the onslaught of typhoon Karen caused damage to 14.35 hectares of corn farm lands with an estimated PHP874,415 loss.

He said the livestock sector has an initial damage worth some PHP135,250.

The strong winds and heavy rains brought by the typhoon destroyed some vital infrastractures in this town with an initial estimate of some PHP1.6 million.

Karen also totally destroyed 350 houses and partially damaged 2,353 houses here.

Lifelifelines such as electricity, communications and other related systems were also disrupted.

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