HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS WEEK...

TERROR SCARE HITS ZAMBO ANEW; TELECOMS GRID TURNED OFF  

OCT 14 ---Zamboanga City was once again the center of a terror threat yesterday more than a year
after it was sieged by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for nearly a month in September last year. Telecommunications firms yesterday cut off all mobile communications in in the city to ensure terrorists would not be able to detonate bombs using cell phones during the annual Catholic procession in honor of the Virgin Mary, according to local newspaper Mindanao Examiner. Zamboanga is celebrating the month-long Hermosa Festival and the grand procession is the highlight of the event which is a long tradition in this former Spanish colony. Thousands of devotees have been participating in the procession where different statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are also paraded in downtown Zamboanga.

The newspaper said Smart Communications and Globe Telecommunication have not issued any statement about the shutdown of mobile communications network in the city which lasted for a few hours. The newspaper added that late Saturday, the police dismantled an improvised bomb using a thermos which was abandoned at a public square in Zamboanga City. Police Chief Angelito Casimiro said they have received reports about the abandoned thermos at Plaza Pershing near the City Hall building, and immediately deployed the bomb squad and eventually destroyed the suspicious item.
Mayor Maria Isabella Salazar said concerned citizens reported the presence of the abandoned thermos at the park. “Police and military just responded on a suspicious item and they disrupted it (using projected water disruptor). We thanked the citizens for being vigilant for reporting suspicious items,” she said. Disruptors utilize a water projectile shaped charge (an omni-directional format more commonly referred to as a “bottler”) to destroy improvised explosives by severing any detonation cord inside the device, rendering it futile, according to Mindanao Examiner.
* READ MORE...

ALSO: Ebola is world’s most severe health crisis – WHO 

OCT 14 --PHOTO: President Aquino attends the meeting of the World Health Organization
Regional Committee for the Western Pacific where important health issues were tackled at the PICC in Pasay yesterday. With him are Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Leao Talalelie Tuitama, WHO Western Pacific regional director Shin Young-soo and WHO Geneva executive director Ian Smith. MANILA, Philippines - The World Health Organization called the Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times” but also said yesterday that economic disruptions can be curbed if people are adequately informed to prevent irrational moves to dodge infection.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan, citing World Bank figures, said 90 percent of economic costs of any outbreak “come from irrational and disorganized efforts of the public to avoid infection.” Staffers of the global health organization “are very well aware that fear of infection has spread around the world much faster than the virus,” Chan said in a statement read out to a regional health conference in Manila yesterday. “We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said, but added that adequately educating the public was a “good defense strategy” and would allow governments to prevent economic disruptions. Chan did not specify those steps but praised the Philippines for holding an anti-Ebola summit last week which was joined by government health officials and private sector representatives, warning that the Southeast Asian country was vulnerable due to the large number of Filipinos working abroad. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Palace: DOH ready if Ebola reaches PHL 

As nations step up measures to stem the worsening Ebola outbreak, Malacañang assured the
public on Sunday that the Department of Health will be well-equipped to handle the dreaded disease if it reaches the Philippines. “Ang lahat ng mga dapat na paghandaan ay pinaghahandaan ng ating Kagawaran ng Kalusugan at pinapatatag ‘yung ating depensa diyan sa Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) at sa iba pang mga infectious diseases,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in an interview over state-run dzRB. He said the DOH will implement a multisectoral response plan to fight the virus, should a person in the Philippines become infected.

“[Tatlong steps yan]: Una, interim guidelines for disease surveillance, notification and reporting of suspected Ebola Virus Disease cases; pangawala, clinical management including laboratory testing of specimens from suspected EVD cases; at pangatlo, infection control,” Coloma said. DOH's Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will be the center of operations in fighting Ebola, he added. “Ang RITM sa Muntinlupa City ay itinakda bilang national referral center for emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Ito ay magsisilbing sentro sa pagsusuri o testing at gagamitin nito ang pinakabagong paraan na subok na mula sa US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Coloma said.

ALSO: Ebola-ready PH doubted by Filipino physicians; we need to prepare more and train more

Medics cite serious lack of know-how, facilities. FEARS of an Ebola crisis in the
country heightened on Tuesday as the medical community and health workers doubted the government’s preparedness for the disease that the World Health Organization described as the “most severe acute health emergency in modern times.”  Physicians and health workers expressed their fears as the government said it will repatriate Filipinos who want to leave Ebola-stricken countries in November, ahead of the annual influx of thousands of Filipinos from overseas for the Christmas holidays.

The fears were aired after WHO warned that the country is “vulnerable” to the deadly virus due to its migrant population and President Benigno Aquino III also agreed that a local Ebola outbreak is a “paramount concern” for the government because there are 10 million Filipino workers overseas. But physicians are concerned that even the United States Centers for Disease Control are now re-thinking their safety protocols after US residents developed Ebola outside of West Africa where the latest outbreak started in December 2013. “We need clarity of ideas. We need a protocol and a checklist. We need to train people because we have not encountered Ebola in our lifetime,” physician Anthony Leachon, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said in a television interview.
Leachon noted that only a few local centers are equipped to handle Ebola cases and he feared that even the local medical community may not be ready to handle the disease in addition to the lack of reliable safety gear for hazardous materials.* READ MORE...

ALSO: US Marine tagged in Filipino transgender slay named 

OCT 14 --PHOTO: Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer. FACEBOOK PHOTO. MANILA, Philipp‎ines—
The US Marine tagged in the killing of a Filipino transgender has been identified by the authorities and will be charged with murder on Tuesday. Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine Corps 2nd Battalion 9th Marines assigned at West Pace Express, was positively identified by a witness in the killing of 26-year-old Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City on Saturday. Reading the Olongapo City Police director’s report, Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, said the witness identified Pemberton through a photo line-up process provided by the US Naval Crime Investigation Service (NCIS).

The report said the witness was 22-year-old Mark Clarence Gelviro‎, who on Saturday night accompanied Laude when they met the suspect at the Ambyanz Disco bar hours before Laude was found dead. City Police director Senior Superintendent Pedrito delos Reyes‎ said a case of murder is being readied against the US Marine. Laude was found lifeless on the bathroom floor of one of the rooms of Celzone Lodge after checking in allegedly with Pemberton. The victim’s head was slumped in the toilet. Police said Laude could have been strangled and killed. She died of asphyxiation. The custody of Pemberton remains a touchy subject. Asked where Pemberton would be detained while the trial is ongoing, Mayor said they will follow the provisions of the Visiting Forces of Agreement (VFA). THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: PH, US want thorough probe into transgender slay 

Malacañang on Tuesday said both the Philippines and the United States were calling for a thorough
investigation into the murder of a transgender in Olongapo. “(Undersecretary Eduardo) Oban said the Philippines and US governments agreed on a thorough investigation,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a Palace briefing. Manila has criminal jurisdiction over the case while custody of the suspect will remain with Washington, said Coloma, citing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). He explained that the Philippines could also send a manifestation on the issue of custody. Reports said a US Marine, later identified as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, has been implicated in the murder at a lodge in the northern port city of Olongapo of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude. Despite Laude’s relatives complaining of “slow government response,” Coloma assured them that it would soon be resolved. “Mahalagang masolusyunan ang krimen at gawaran ng katarungan ang pagpaslang sa ating mamamayan (It is important to solve the crime and ensure justice for the victim),” he said. * READ MORE...

US marine in Olongapo slay identified  

OCT 14 --PHOTO: The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu which took part in the joint military
exercise with their Philippine counterpart is docked at the Alava pier, off Subic Bay Freeport zone in Zambales province in northwestern Philippines Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. US Pacific Command Chief Adm. Samuel Locklear allegedly ordered the USS Peleliu and other US ships not to leave the pier until the investigation is done as to the involvement of a "foreigner" in the killing two days ago of a transgender at Olongapo city, in northwestern Philippines, which houses a former US naval base off Subic Bay. AP/Jun Dumaguing. --MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday identified the United States Marine tagged in the killing of a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City. In a memorandum, the PNP identified the American soldier as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marine Corps 2nd Battalion 9th Marines assigned at WestPac Express.

The PNP memo said the suspect was positively identified by witness Mark Clarence Gelviro through a line-up process provided by a representative of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). A case of murder is being readied for filing against the suspect, the memo added. Pemberton was reportedly on furlough after participating in a naval drill between Filipino and US forces in Zambales, when he allegedly killed Jennifer Laude, 26, in Room 1 of Celzone Lodge on Magsaysay Boulevard. Earlier reports said the two met in a disco in Subic and checked into the motel. Before midnight, Pemberton was seen leaving while Laude was found naked in the bathroom, with the head resting on the rim of the toilet bowl. In a statement on Tuesday morning, the US Embassy in Manila said Pemberton is being held onboard the USS Peleliu while a joint Naval Criminal Investigative Service and PNP is conducted. "The United States will continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation," the embassy added. The embassy also expressed its condolences to the Laude's family and friends.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Laude planned to marry German BF  

OCT 15 --PHOTO: Jeffrey Laude, who went by the name Jennifer, was allegedly killed by a
Marine in the Philippines. PHOTO BY ALLAN MACATUNO / INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—Jeffrey/Jennifer Laude was planning to marry his German boyfriend of two years. Laude’s sister Marilou said Laude’s boyfriend heard the news on Sunday morning and told the victim’s relatives that he would arrange for a flight to the Philippines to see his body this week. Marilou said Laude and his boyfriend had been planning to get married in Thailand soon and were working on their documents to finalize their union. She said Laude and his boyfriend met online.

Aside from his marriage plans, Laude wanted nothing more but to help his family and other relatives whenever they were in need. “He never turned his back on a relative or a friend who would always run to him for help or for advice,” Marilou said, describing her 26-year-old brother who was found dead inside a hotel in this city on Saturday night.
His death shocked his relatives and friends, who said it was not typical of Laude to meet strangers, especially without his friends knowing it. A room attendant of Celzone Lodge found Laude inside a bathroom, slumped in the toilet seat at 11:45 p.m., minutes after he and a male foreigner, an American soldier, checked in at the hotel. Marilou described her brother as a “kindhearted, generous and selfless” person, saying there was not a single instance when her brother refused to help her or anyone in their family. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Custody of US marine in Subic slay ticklish issue  

OCT 15 --PHOTO: Pemberton. The Philippine government will file a manifestation seeking the custody of an American serviceman who has been positively identified as a suspect in the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey Laude in Olongapo City over the weekend. But for now, under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the United States military will have automatic custody over Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.

“In accordance with the VFA, we will submit position on the matter of custody. We are going to manifest our desire to have custody of the suspect,” VFA Commission head Eduardo Oban said in a phone interview. “That is part of our action. We are just waiting for the right timing, which is once a case has already been filed. But under the VFA, the US will still have the final say,” Oban said. Oban said Pemberton is now detained at the USS Peleliu, along with other US servicemen who are possible witnesses to the case. Under Article V, paragraph 6 of the VFA, “the custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings.” * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Terror scare hits Zambo; telecoms grid turned off

MANILA, OCTOBER 20, 2014 (TRIBUNE) Written by Tribune Wires - Zamboanga City was once again the center of a terror threat yesterday more than a year after it was sieged by members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for nearly a month in September last year.

Telecommunications firms yesterday cut off all mobile communications in in the city to ensure terrorists would not be able to detonate bombs using cell phones during the annual Catholic procession in honor of the Virgin Mary, according to local newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Zamboanga is celebrating the month-long Hermosa Festival and the grand procession is the highlight of the event which is a long tradition in this former Spanish colony.

Thousands of devotees have been participating in the procession where different statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary are also paraded in downtown Zamboanga.

The newspaper said Smart Communications and Globe Telecommunication have not issued any statement about the shutdown of mobile communications network in the city which lasted for a few hours.

The newspaper added that late Saturday, the police dismantled an improvised bomb using a thermos which was abandoned at a public square in Zamboanga City.

Police Chief Angelito Casimiro said they have received reports about the abandoned thermos at Plaza Pershing near the City Hall building, and immediately deployed the bomb squad and eventually destroyed the suspicious item.

Mayor Maria Isabella Salazar said concerned citizens reported the presence of the abandoned thermos at the park. “Police and military just responded on a suspicious item and they disrupted it (using projected water disruptor). We thanked the citizens for being vigilant for reporting suspicious items,” she said.

Disruptors utilize a water projectile shaped charge (an omni-directional format more commonly referred to as a “bottler”) to destroy improvised explosives by severing any detonation cord inside the device, rendering it futile, according to Mindanao Examiner.

* Both Casimiro and Salazar did not say whether or not the thermos contained an explosive but the regional police said it had wirings and contained white granules believed to be ammonium nitrate.

“After the disruption, it was noted that the content of said canister were wiring and white granule materials. A SOCO (Scenes of Crime Officer) team was dispatched to the area to conduct scene processing and collection of debris for examinations. No one was hurt during the disruption,” Insp. Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, was quoted as saying.

He said witnesses told police investigators that they saw a woman, accompanied by a man, carrying the thermos at the plaza and left it on a concrete bench. “Initial investigation disclosed that prior to the discovery of the thermos, some of the bystanders saw a woman wearing a veil with a male companion carrying said thermos and entered inside the premises of Plaza Pershing and sat at the bench. Moment later, the woman left the area leaving behind the thermos,” Samuddin said.

The plaza - named after U.S. military commander Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing who defeated Muslim insurrection in southern Philippines almost a century ago - was also bombed by the Abu Sayyaf in August 2007 that left more than a dozen people.

Police and military authorities earlier said they have adopted strict security measures to ensure the peaceful celebration of the festival that started last Wednesday.

Task Force Zamboanga (TFZ) chief Col. Andrelino Colina said part of the security measures is the prohibition on the carrying of backpacks in all of the venues of the festival activities.

Colina said that motorcycles are also off limit to some of the venues.

Hundreds of soldiers and policemen were deployed in Zamboanga virtually turning the city in a garrison in an effort to protect the public from terror attacks. Additional troops were also sent to nearby provinces to fight the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless groups supporting jihadist members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

“The objective of the redeployment of forces is to have a right force mix based on situation assessment. Through these additional forces, tracking down and containment of the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless elements in Western Mindanao will be easily achieved,” Samuddin added.

“The Western Mindanao Command ensures the security of the conflict and threatened areas with all available units and assets being deployed. However, to attain a fully secured community, cooperation from the different sectors of the populace is being encouraged so that the security forces will be able to assess and make necessary counter actions on the given situations,” Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said.

The Abu Sayyaf and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and civilians in the Muslim autonomous region have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Muyuela, however, said the military and police authorities are verifying reports of alleged recruitment of ISIS.

“These groups who claim to be part of the ISIS are believed to be riding on the prominence of the ISIS threat just to get the sympathy of their target recruits. The Western Mindanao Command, together with the police and the local governments, are jointly exerting all efforts to further validate the alleged recruitment of Muslim-Filipinos within Western Mindanao. Continuous monitoring on said report is being undertaken by security forces,” she said

“Thus, we are urging local communities to get involved with the security efforts of the government and the Armed Forces as they are the most reliable and potential group to provide durable information and initial security of their community from threat groups,” Muyuela added.

FROM PHILSTAR

Ebola is world’s most severe health crisis – WHO By AP (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 14, 2014 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


President Aquino attends the meeting of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific where important health issues were tackled at the PICC in Pasay yesterday. With him are Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Leao Talalelie Tuitama, WHO Western Pacific regional director Shin Young-soo and WHO Geneva executive director Ian Smith.

MANILA, Philippines - The World Health Organization called the Ebola outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times” but also said yesterday that economic disruptions can be curbed if people are adequately informed to prevent irrational moves to dodge infection.

WHO director-general Margaret Chan, citing World Bank figures, said 90 percent of economic costs of any outbreak “come from irrational and disorganized efforts of the public to avoid infection.”

Staffers of the global health organization “are very well aware that fear of infection has spread around the world much faster than the virus,” Chan said in a statement read out to a regional health conference in Manila yesterday.

“We are seeing, right now, how this virus can disrupt economies and societies around the world,” she said, but added that adequately educating the public was a “good defense strategy” and would allow governments to prevent economic disruptions.

Chan did not specify those steps but praised the Philippines for holding an anti-Ebola summit last week which was joined by government health officials and private sector representatives, warning that the Southeast Asian country was vulnerable due to the large number of Filipinos working abroad.

* While bracing for Ebola, health officials should continue to focus on major health threats, including non-communicable diseases, she said.

Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged leaders in the most affected countries to establish special centers that aim to isolate infected people from non-infected relatives in an effort to stem the spread of Ebola.

Ban has also appealed for international airlines and shipping companies not to suspend services to countries affected by Ebola. Doing so, he said, hinders delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance.

The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to WHO figures published last week.

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Palace: DOH ready if Ebola reaches PHL October 12, 2014 1:50pm 590 19 0 625

As nations step up measures to stem the worsening Ebola outbreak, Malacañang assured the public on Sunday that the Department of Health will be well-equipped to handle the dreaded disease if it reaches the Philippines.

“Ang lahat ng mga dapat na paghandaan ay pinaghahandaan ng ating Kagawaran ng Kalusugan at pinapatatag ‘yung ating depensa diyan sa Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) at sa iba pang mga infectious diseases,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in an interview over state-run dzRB.

He said the DOH will implement a multisectoral response plan to fight the virus, should a person in the Philippines become infected.

“[Tatlong steps yan]: Una, interim guidelines for disease surveillance, notification and reporting of suspected Ebola Virus Disease cases; pangawala, clinical management including laboratory testing of specimens from suspected EVD cases; at pangatlo, infection control,” Coloma said.

DOH's Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will be the center of operations in fighting Ebola, he added.

“Ang RITM sa Muntinlupa City ay itinakda bilang national referral center for emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Ito ay magsisilbing sentro sa pagsusuri o testing at gagamitin nito ang pinakabagong paraan na subok na mula sa US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Coloma said.

* Moreover, he said that while at least 18 cases of suspected Ebola patients have been treated by the RITM, none of them have tested positive for the deadly communicable disease.

“Mayroon nang 18 kaso ng suspected EVD na sinuri ang RITM at lahat ng ito ay negatibo ang resulta, kaya po sinasabi natin na Ebola-free ang Pilipinas,” Coloma said.

The WHO said 4,033 people have died from Ebola as of October 8 out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries. The sharp rise in deaths came as the UN said aid pledges to fight the outbreak have fallen well short of the $1 billion (800 million euros) needed. — Patricia Denise Chiu /LBG, GMA News

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Ebola-ready PH doubted, says Filipino physicians By Joyce Pangco Panares, Macon Ramos Araneta | Oct. 15, 2014 at 12:01am

Medics cite serious lack of know-how, facilities


Vigil. Quarantine officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport monitor passengers for the possible entry of people infected with the deadly Ebola virus. Eric Apolonio. The influx will start this year with the arrival of about 150 Filipino peacekeepers, consisting of 112 soldiers and 28 policemen, from Ebola-hit Liberia on Nov. 10.

FEARS of an Ebola crisis in the country heightened on Tuesday as the medical community and health workers doubted the government’s preparedness for the disease that the World Health Organization described as the “most severe acute health emergency in modern times.”

Physicians and health workers expressed their fears as the government said it will repatriate Filipinos who want to leave Ebola-stricken countries in November, ahead of the annual influx of thousands of Filipinos from overseas for the Christmas holidays.

The fears were aired after WHO warned that the country is “vulnerable” to the deadly virus due to its migrant population and President Benigno Aquino III also agreed that a local Ebola outbreak is a

“paramount concern” for the government because there are 10 million Filipino workers overseas.

But physicians are concerned that even the United States Centers for Disease Control are now re-thinking their safety protocols after US residents developed Ebola outside of West Africa where the latest outbreak started in December 2013.

“We need clarity of ideas. We need a protocol and a checklist. We need to train people because we have not encountered Ebola in our lifetime,” physician Anthony Leachon, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said in a television interview.

Leachon noted that only a few local centers are equipped to handle Ebola cases and he feared that even the local medical community may not be ready to handle the disease in addition to the lack of reliable safety gear for hazardous materials.

* Nurse Jossel Ebesate, president of the Alliance of Health Workers and chief nurse of the Philippine General Hospital, echoed Leachon’s fears.

“We are still worried that we really lack preparation at the hospital level. Primarily, we lack knowledge. Secondly, we lack equipment,” Ebesate said.

“We need to prepare more and train more,” Leachon said, noting that even established protocols are being reviewed after nurses in Spain and Texas contracted the virus from patients.

But former health secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral said there is still time to prepare.

“If we can’t deal with it yet, we should start preparing to deal with it. Let’s put it that way,” said Cabral, who also once served as social welfare secretary.

“There have been several emerging infections that we have dealt with, like SARS and avian flu. With each one of those, we have prepared, we had prepared and fortunately these did not reach us,” Cabral said.

But even incumbent health officials have their doubts on local capability in containing the virus with Health Undersecretary Dr. Eric Tayag, who heads the National Epidemiology Center, saying it was “just a matter of time” before the Philippines reports its first Ebola case.

“Outbreak countermeasures that exist today are not enough to contain Ebola,” Tayag said over the weekend.

DOH spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said that is why the government is urging private hospitals to do their part in preparing for Ebola.

The government, for its part, is already preparing for Ebola, according to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

“We are now improving the facilities of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicines in Muntinlupa City. We are preparing the quarantine facilities that will be used,” Coloma said.

“The government is undertaking all necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of our nationals or citizens in keeping with the established protocols on managing the Ebola virus disease,” he said.

Because of this, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government may raise Alert Level 3 in Ebola-affected countries in West Africa ny the middle of November and the government will shoulder the cost of bringing back the Filipinos who wish to leave countries hit by Ebola.

Coloma said at least 1,755 Filipinos will be affected by the change in the alert level: 1,044 in Sierra Leone, 200 in Liberia, and 511 in Guinea.

But about 150 Filipino peacekeepers are also expected to return from Ebola-hit Liberia on Nov. 10.

“Unfortunately, we would not be able to give them a heroes’ welcome,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. because the peacekeepers will have to be quarantined for 21 days. “After that, we will give them a welcome party for passing the quarantine.”

Meanwhile, Health Sec. Enrique Ona proposed that overseas Filipino workers returning from Ebola-hit countries be required to first secure medical clearances that will show any exposure to Ebola-infected people.

He also asked OFWs to quarantine themselves for 21 days, the incubation period for Ebola, from the time they plan to board their flight.

“There are almost 3,000 OFWs in West African countries affected by the virus,” Ona said during a WHO regional meeting that is being held in Manila.

On Monday, WHO executive director Ian Smith said the Philippines is “vulnerable” to the threat of the deadly virus due to its migrant population.

According to the WHO, the current Ebola virus outbreak is the largest since 1976, with at least 4,033 fatalities out of a total of 8,399 registered cases in seven countries as of October 8.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted the number of cases could reach 1.4 million by January unless strong measures are taken to contain the disease.

Across the globe, the sharp rise in deaths came as aid pledges to fight the outbreak have fallen well short of the $1 billion target of the United Nations.

During the meeting, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Shin Young-soo said results from a recent survey of the region’s members showed good preparedness to detect and respond to Ebola in addition to a regional emergency operations center that is already on high alert.

Shin reminded member-states that the Western Pacific Region has long been a hotspot for many emerging diseases, and how managing SARS, the first major disease outbreak of the 21st century, has made them stronger.

“So that they are better prepared than ever for Ebola virus disease,” pointed out Shin.

However, Shin also noted that while the risk transmission here is low, the the consequences are high so we must still be prepared.

“The Ebola crisis drives home a simple truth — investing in health security during so-called normal times is absolutely vital,” further stated Shin as he expressed gratitude to the Philippines, which has served as the home of the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific since 1951.

“We doubly appreciate your hospitality in hosting this year’s session of the Regional Committee,” said Shin. He underscored the importance of adapting to better serve Member States.

“At the start of my second term, I looked at ways to work harder and smarter. We must be willing to constantly reinvent ourselves to fulfill our mission of service to Member States as their health needs change,” he said.

“We must find new and innovative ways to improve on our performance. We must focus not only on what Member States need now — but also anticipate their future public health needs,” he added.

The Regional Committee Meeting that the Country will chair is expected to appraise WHO’s accomplishments for the previous year and come up with measures to further promote the health and well-being of the Western Pacific Region’s 1.8 billion population.

The Regional Committee is composed of representatives from the Region’s 37 countries and areas.

US Marine tagged in Filipino transgender slay named By Julliane Love de Jesus |INQUIRER.net12:31 pm | Tuesday, October 14th, 2014


Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer. FACEBOOK PHOTO


MANILA, Philipp‎ines—The US Marine tagged in the killing of a Filipino transgender has been identified by the authorities and will be charged with murder on Tuesday.

Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine Corps 2nd Battalion 9th Marines assigned at West Pace Express, was positively identified by a witness in the killing of 26-year-old Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City on Saturday.

Reading the Olongapo City Police director’s report, Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, said the witness identified Pemberton through a photo line-up process provided by the US Naval Crime Investigation Service (NCIS).

The report said the witness was 22-year-old Mark Clarence Gelviro‎, who on Saturday night accompanied Laude when they met the suspect at the Ambyanz Disco bar hours before Laude was found dead.

City Police director Senior Superintendent Pedrito delos Reyes‎ said a case of murder is being readied against the US Marine.

Laude was found lifeless on the bathroom floor of one of the rooms of Celzone Lodge after checking in allegedly with Pemberton. The victim’s head was slumped in the toilet.

Police said Laude could have been strangled and killed. She died of asphyxiation.

The custody of Pemberton remains a touchy subject. Asked where Pemberton would be detained while the trial is ongoing, Mayor said they will follow the provisions of the Visiting Forces of Agreement (VFA).

PH, US want thorough probe into transgender slay Kristine Angeli Sabillo
@KSabilloINQ INQUIRER.net 1:27 PM | Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang on Tuesday said both the Philippines and the United States were calling for a thorough investigation into the murder of a transgender in Olongapo.

“(Undersecretary Eduardo) Oban said the Philippines and US governments agreed on a thorough investigation,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a Palace briefing.

Manila has criminal jurisdiction over the case while custody of the suspect will remain with Washington, said Coloma, citing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

He explained that the Philippines could also send a manifestation on the issue of custody.

Reports said a US Marine, later identified as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, has been implicated in the murder at a lodge in the northern port city of Olongapo of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

Despite Laude’s relatives complaining of “slow government response,” Coloma assured them that it would soon be resolved.

“Mahalagang masolusyunan ang krimen at gawaran ng katarungan ang pagpaslang sa ating mamamayan (It is important to solve the crime and ensure justice for the victim),” he said.

* Laude’s sister, Michelle Laude, said they have yet to receive the full report from the police.

Coloma gave assurances the investigation would be transparent.

The incident prompted members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and militant groups to call for abrogation of the VFA.

Pemberton was part of the 3,500-member US contingent to amphibious drills with Filipino counterparts that ended Friday.

The exercises were held in several areas of the Philippines, including training sites near Olongapo from September 29-October 10.

In 2006, a Philippine court sentenced US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to 40 years in jail for raping a Filipina a year earlier.

Smith walked free in 2009 after his accuser recanted her statement, prompting the court to acquit him.

In March, the Philippines and the US signed a new accord that would allow American troops greater access to Philippine facilities in support of US President Barack Obama’s so-called pivot to Asia. With Agence France-Presse

FROM PHILSTAR

US marine in Olongapo slay identified By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated October 14, 2014 - 1:38pm 9 489 googleplus0 0


The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu which took part in the joint military exercise with their Philippine counterpart is docked at the Alava pier, off Subic Bay Freeport zone in Zambales province in northwestern Philippines Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. US Pacific Command Chief Adm. Samuel Locklear allegedly ordered the USS Peleliu and other US ships not to leave the pier until the investigation is done as to the involvement of a "foreigner" in the killing two days ago of a transgender at Olongapo city, in northwestern Philippines, which houses a former US naval base off Subic Bay. AP/Jun Dumaguing

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday identified the United States Marine tagged in the killing of a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City.

In a memorandum, the PNP identified the American soldier as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marine Corps 2nd Battalion 9th Marines assigned at WestPac Express.

The PNP memo said the suspect was positively identified by witness Mark Clarence Gelviro through a line-up process provided by a representative of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

A case of murder is being readied for filing against the suspect, the memo added.

Pemberton was reportedly on furlough after participating in a naval drill between Filipino and US forces in Zambales, when he allegedly killed Jennifer Laude, 26, in Room 1 of Celzone Lodge on Magsaysay Boulevard.

Earlier reports said the two met in a disco in Subic and checked into the motel. Before midnight, Pemberton was seen leaving while Laude was found naked in the bathroom, with the head resting on the rim of the toilet bowl.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the US Embassy in Manila said Pemberton is being held onboard the USS Peleliu while a joint Naval Criminal Investigative Service and PNP is conducted.

"The United States will continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation," the embassy added.

The embassy also expressed its condolences to the Laude's family and friends.

Laude planned to marry German BF By Allan Macatuno |Inquirer Central Luzon5:42 am | Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


Jeffrey Laude, who went by the name Jennifer, was allegedly killed by a Marine in the Philippines. PHOTO BY ALLAN MACATUNO / INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines—Jeffrey/Jennifer Laude was planning to marry his German boyfriend of two years.

Laude’s sister Marilou said Laude’s boyfriend heard the news on Sunday morning and told the victim’s relatives that he would arrange for a flight to the Philippines to see his body this week.

Marilou said Laude and his boyfriend had been planning to get married in Thailand soon and were working on their documents to finalize their union. She said Laude and his boyfriend met online.

Aside from his marriage plans, Laude wanted nothing more but to help his family and other relatives whenever they were in need.

“He never turned his back on a relative or a friend who would always run to him for help or for advice,” Marilou said, describing her 26-year-old brother who was found dead inside a hotel in this city on Saturday night.

His death shocked his relatives and friends, who said it was not typical of Laude to meet strangers, especially without his friends knowing it.

A room attendant of Celzone Lodge found Laude inside a bathroom, slumped in the toilet seat at 11:45 p.m., minutes after he and a male foreigner, an American soldier, checked in at the hotel.

Marilou described her brother as a “kindhearted, generous and selfless” person, saying there was not a single instance when her brother refused to help her or anyone in their family.

* Another sister, Michelle, said she was with her brother at Ambyanz Disco Bar on Saturday night and did not notice him leave their group.

Hate crime?

Michelle said what the killer did to her brother was “unbearable.”

“He was strangled and … we saw bruises on his face and feet. Those were signs he suffered too much,” she said.
Marilou said what happened to her brother could be a form of hate crime.

“The motive behind this could be that the killer found out that he wasn’t a woman. That’s all what we can think of right now,” she said.

Laude used to work in a local beauty salon but stopped when his boyfriend began to support him financially, Marilou said.

She said her brother would even share his money with the family and relatives, keeping only a small amount for himself.

“He used to tell us that no one else would be there to help us except ourselves so he would always make sure that he could help us anyway he could,” Michelle said.

Bobby Snyder, one of the victim’s friends, said Laude once let him stay in his house after he ran away from his parents.

“He made us feel that he was a true friend to all of us and it saddens me that he’s gone,” Snyder said.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Custody of US marine in Subic slay ticklish issue By Joyce Pangco Panares | Oct. 15, 2014 at 12:01am


Pemberton

The Philippine government will file a manifestation seeking the custody of an American serviceman who has been positively identified as a suspect in the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey Laude in Olongapo City over the weekend.

But for now, under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the United States military will have automatic custody over Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.

“In accordance with the VFA, we will submit position on the matter of custody. We are going to manifest our desire to have custody of the suspect,” VFA Commission head Eduardo Oban said in a phone interview.

“That is part of our action. We are just waiting for the right timing, which is once a case has already been filed. But under the VFA, the US will still have the final say,” Oban said.

Oban said Pemberton is now detained at the USS Peleliu, along with other US servicemen who are possible witnesses to the case.

Under Article V, paragraph 6 of the VFA, “the custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings.”

* “We have to distinguish criminal jurisdiction from custody. The Philippines has criminal jurisdiction on instances where Philippine laws have been violated. But on the aspect of custody, according to the VFA, the United States government has custody rights,” Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said.

“The Philippine and US governments have agreed on the importance of a thorough investigation so that the ends of justice will be served,” Coloma added.

Coloma said President Benigno Aquino III views the case “seriously.”

“As the Chief Executive, he looks at this case seriously and he wants our government to do what is right,” he said.

The VFA provides that the government can seek custody of any American serviceman on trial under “extraordinary circumstances.”

The term extraordinary, however, was not defined in the treaty if it includes crimes such as murder.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE