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AYALA SPARKS WITH A MILLION CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

NOV 5 ---PHOTO COURTESY OF INTERAKSYON.COM --MANILA, NOVEMBER 10, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) Makati—the country’s leading city for business, lifestyle, entertainment and culture—ushers in the start of a long and festive Christmas celebration in the city: the ceremonial opening of the Christmas lights along Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue, Paseo de Roxas, and extending to South Avenue. t exactly 6 o’clock in the evening on Monday, the major thoroughfares of Makati Central Business District light up with a dazzling display of more than a million LED lights which instantly put Makati denizens and visitors into a festive mood.

“We wanted our Christmas installations this year to be elegant, as well as meaningful, the way Christmas should be celebrated,” says Mel Ignacio, Assistant Vice President of Ayala Land. esembling bursts of fireworks at first glance, and dotted with geometric elements with intricate patterns, flower-like lights adorn the streets’ center islands, symbolizing the need to go back to life’s simple joys, when we find wonder and pleasure in the quiet and unique beauty of the things around us. The sparkle of over a million lights is designed to evoke the true essence of the season: counting our blessings and sharing what we have with others. This year’s Christmas celebration in Makati goes beyond the thrill and awe that the streetlights bring. More than the spectacle of the streetlights display, the most competitive city shines brightest especially with Ayala Land’s announcement of future projects to further strengthen its position as the city that makes bright things happen which greatly benefit the people who live, work, and thrive in Makati.

But the lighting ceremony is only the beginning of a wondrous Christmas in the city. As with its yearly tradition, Makati has prepared many festivities that would make a simple but meaningful Christmas celebration possible. The Lights and Sound show will begin on November 12 at Ayala Triangle Gardens, followed by the biggest outdoor Christmas Bazaar in Circuit Makati, the city’s entertainment district, bringing together more than 200 merchants from November 28 to 30. Also, people will get to savor al fresco dining from Mercato and Family Mart and enjoy various activities such as outdoor movies, concerts of OPM artists, educational talks, and workshops. Makati is truly growing every year to bring the best Christmas experiences to the public. The grand Christmas celebration in Makati continues all the way to December with Makati high school students filling the air with holiday hymns in the 5th Makati Christmas Caroling Competition on December 16. Christmas is also a time for prayer and reflection and the Ayala Triangle Gardens will serve as a fitting venue for the Thanksgiving masses that will be held from December 15 to 23. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

(ALSO) Survivors to Dinky Soliman: Liar  

NOV 6--PHOTO: The real picture. Tacloban City residents mill around their community of tents at Barangay San Jose in Tacloban City in this photo taken on Monday. The tents were still there at press time Wednesday. MEL CASPE Yolanda victims belie her claim no more people in tents ALL the refugees displaced by super typhoon Yolanda have been moved out of tent cities and evacuation centers to temporary shelters, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman reported Wednesday, a claim that was immediately dismissed as a lie by a coalition of storm survivors. “Maybe she has not visited San Jose [in Tacloban] yet,” said Efleda Bautista, leader of the People Surge coalition of Yolanda survivors, in a phone interview. “There are still survivors living in tents there.”

“We are survivors. We do not manufacture hocus pocus data. We are the victims, and yet they insult us with their lies. You cannot blame us for being angry because it’s already been a year,” she said.
Efleda was reacting to a Palace statement issued after a special Cabinet meeting on the aftermath of Yolanda, almost a year after the storm devastated Eastern Visayas and killed more than 7,000 people. There are no more survivors living in tents or in evacuation centers,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, after the meeting. “In as much as humanly possible, Secretary Soliman said, all survivors have been assisted in their transfer to temporary shelters.” Coloma said based on the timeline for the implementation of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, 30 percent of all the projects will be completed this year, 50 percent next year, and 20 percent in 2016. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Yolanda survivors get early Christmas gift from GMA network 

NOV 5 --PHOTO: GMA Kapuso Foundation (GMAKF) once again enshrined its commitment to provide sustainable development projects for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda as it completed the first phase of the Kapuso Village in Tacloban City, Leyte. On July 24, 49 houses were turned over to former residents of Barangay 88 in Tacloban City as part of the 400-unit Kapuso Village Tacloban Project. The Kapuso Village Tacloban Project is in partnership with the City Government of Tacloban and the National Housing Authority (NHA). CEBU, Philippines – GMA Network premiered its Tacloban event plug last November 3 kicking off its 2014 “Share the Love” Christmas campaign. From a year of loss to a year of hope, GMA Network rekindles the Christmas spirit in the hearts of Yolanda survivors with an outpouring of love that gives them a wonderful new beginning. This year, Christmas came early to the Kapuso Village in Tacloban as the network held a gathering for beneficiaries who will soon celebrate the Yuletide season in newly-built homes they can call their own.

The Kapuso Village in Tacloban is the first permanent housing project in the area for survivors of typhoon Yolanda, with 49 houses ready for occupancy. By next week, an additional 123 houses will be ready, and in the coming months, 231 more houses will be turned over to their new owners. “It was likely the first time that these families got to celebrate Christmas since they lost their homes and loved ones to typhoon Yolanda in November of last year,” said GMA Kapuso Foundation EVP and COO Mel C. Tiangco, who stood witness to the tragedy that the victims suffered with her on-site news coverage of Yolanda’s devastation and GMA Kapuso Foundation’s relief efforts. “Seeing their favorite Kapuso stars make an effort to personally deliver their presents made the occasion all the more special to them.” In Tacloban, Mel Tiangco was joined by Kapuso stars in handing out food, toys, and Christmas trees to the families in the Kapuso Village. While in Manila, even more Kapuso personalities shared their love by sponsoring food, toys, treatments and medicines for Kapuso Foundation beneficiaries all over the Philippines, including other Yolanda-affected areas. Truly, the rebuilding of lives takes a collaborative effort among hearts sharing the same passion and love for others. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Army gives planeside honors to slain soldiers in Basilan 

NOV 4 --PHOTO: Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the 6th Infantry Division render a salute to soldiers killed on Sunday in Basilan, transported on Tuesday to their hometowns in Central Mindanao via the Maguindanao provincial airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town. John Unson MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The Army’s 6th Infantry Division on Tuesday gave planeside honors to the soldiers killed last Sunday in Basilan as their remains arrived at the Maguindanao Airport en route to their hometowns in Central Mindanao. Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of 6th ID, said the rank-and-file personnel of the division mourns the death of the six soldiers killed in an ambush by bandits in Basilan's Sumisip town, even as they all belong to the 1st Infantry Division.

“As soldiers we are all brothers. In the big Philippine Army family, losing members this way is painful for all. Death in line of duty is honorable. As soldiers we have to live by our sacred oath to serve the Filipino nation at all cost,” Pangilinan said. Pangilinan led the airport ceremony for four of the six slain soldiers, whose cadavers were brought Tuesday to the Maguindanao airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town from Zamboanga City by an Air Force C-130 plane. The four slain members of the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion, Sgt. Tranquilino Germo, Privates First Class Rolando Entera, Freddie Pandoy, and Mark Singson, got enlisted in the 64th IB through the 6th ID while the battalion was still in Maguindanao, under the division’s administrative control. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Army probing video of alleged torture of soldiers  

NOV 6 --The Army is investigating whether soldiers had taken part in a 10-minute video on YouTube showing men in camouflage uniform being punched and hit repeatedly with sticks. Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said no judgment would be made until after the Army investigation. “We are letting the Army handle the investigation because it looks like the perpetrators of the alleged torture are Army personnel,” he said. Cabunoc said the Army’s 9th Infantry Division in Bicol has been tasked to look into the matter. “ The 9th Infantry Division is doing something to solve the problem,” he said.

“We can’t preempt the results of the probe. But we can see that the men in the video committed wrongdoing.” Cabunoc said the military does not tolerate torture and other abusive practices. “We were taught to respect the rights of ordinary persons,” he said. “We should also respect our fellow soldiers from the time they undergo training until they become part of the service.” As shown in the video, some of those conducting what appeared to be a military training were wearing fatigues and the others athletic uniforms. Cries of pain can be heard as the stick-wielding men hit the trainees. They were also ordered to do some exercises. The video was uploaded last Nov. 1 and has been viewed almost 4,000 times. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Laude slay DNA swabs to be taken from US Marine  

NOV 6 ---PHOTO: Officers stand guard outside the hotel where transgender Jeffrey ‘Jennifer’ Laude was killed as prosecutors conducted an ocular inspection of the crime scene in Olongapo City yesterday. EDD GUMBAN MANILA, Philippines - US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton will give today a sample of his DNA and fingerprints to forensic investigators of the Philippine National Police, sources revealed. “Buccal swabs and prints will be taken from Pemberton at Camp Aguinaldo by the Philippine National Police-Scene of the Crime Operatives (PNP-SOCO) after the US government gave a note verbale agreeing to it,” a source told The STAR yesterday.

Another source from the diplomatic community said only two public prosecutors are allowed to witness the procedures on Pemberton that would be performed inside the 20-foot refurbished shipping container where he is currently detained. “Complainants and their lawyers are barred from witnessing the procedures,” the source said, adding the procedure would take take several minutes. The PNP previously tried but failed to acquire a buccal swab and fingerprint samples of Pemberton to complete its investigation. Pemberton is the primary suspect in the killing of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in a motel in Olongapo City on Oct. 11. The PNP tried to place Pemberton under investigation but this was denied by US authorities, prompting lawyer Harry Roque, counsel of the Laude family, to file a motion to subject the American serviceman to buccal swabs and fingerprint sampling. However, Pemberton’s lawyer again opposed this, until yesterday when the US government finally issued a note verbale allowing the conduct of procedures on the American serviceman. * READ MORE...

ALSO: AFP chief on Abu ransom payments: Cash is fake 

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang yesterday disputed claims of the Abu Sayyaf regarding ransom money paid to the bandit group, saying this was likely counterfeit. “I have ordered an investigation into this matter because the Abu Sayyaf could just be trying to create confusion to mislead the general public to believe that ransom was indeed paid,” Catapang said. Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali released a video clip on Facebook showing what they claimed to be the P250-million ransom paid to them in exchange for the freedom of German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen last Oct. 17. The video showed the Abu Sayyaf piling bundles of P1,000 bills in five stacks, neatly wrapped with transparent plastic, each stack estimated to be P1 million. The money was placed on top of a large black plastic bag. “From what we saw on the video is not true. It might be the Abu Sayyaf is showing off the supposed ransom money that are a bunch of bogus bills,” Catapang said.

Catapang, currently in Brunei on an official trip, also stressed the need for a “whole of nation approach” in addressing the Abu Sayyaf menace in the areas of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta). “There should be social pressure to ask the people of Western Mindanao to put a stop to the kidnapping and change the image of Western Mindanao from a kidnapping area into an area of peace and prosperity,” he said. For the AFP, Catapang said the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, as well as the Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police (PNP), are now jointly pursuing a combined Abu Sayyaf force of an estimated 400 gunmen in the Zambasulta area. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, also doubted Askali’s claims of ransom money. If it were true, Cabanoc admitted this would be a big concern for the military. “We are also concerned with this, if ever ransom was really paid. They could use that in acquiring firearms,” he said. Cabunoc, however, stressed the possibility the mound of cash shown by Askali could be fake, or someone outside of the military could have devised ways to deceive the kidnappers by delivering counterfeit bills to secure the release of the German hostages.– With Roel Pareño THIS IS THE FULL REPORT


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Ayala sparkles with a million Christmas lights


PHOTO COURTESY OF INTERAKSYON.COM

MANILA, NOVEMBER 10, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) Makati—the country’s leading city for business, lifestyle, entertainment and culture—ushers in the start of a long and festive Christmas celebration in the city: the ceremonial opening of the Christmas lights along Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue, Paseo de Roxas, and extending to South Avenue.

At exactly 6 o’clock in the evening on Monday, the major thoroughfares of Makati Central Business District light up with a dazzling display of more than a million LED lights which instantly put Makati denizens and visitors into a festive mood.

“We wanted our Christmas installations this year to be elegant, as well as meaningful, the way Christmas should be celebrated,” says Mel Ignacio, Assistant Vice President of Ayala Land.

Resembling bursts of fireworks at first glance, and dotted with geometric elements with intricate patterns, flower-like lights adorn the streets’ center islands, symbolizing the need to go back to life’s simple joys, when we find wonder and pleasure in the quiet and unique beauty of the things around us.

The sparkle of over a million lights is designed to evoke the true essence of the season: counting our blessings and sharing what we have with others.


The Christmas light-up was witnessed by Meean B. Dy, Vice President of Ayala Land Inc.; Dave Balangue; President of Makati Commercial Estate Association, Ayala Corp. Chairman Emeritus; Monique Q. Lagdameo, Congresswoman of Makati City; and Bobby O. Dy, President and CEO of Ayala Land (Jim Guiao Punzalan)

This year’s Christmas celebration in Makati goes beyond the thrill and awe that the streetlights bring. More than the spectacle of the streetlights display, the most competitive city shines brightest especially with Ayala Land’s announcement of future projects to further strengthen its position as the city that makes bright things happen which greatly benefit the people who live, work, and thrive in Makati.

But the lighting ceremony is only the beginning of a wondrous Christmas in the city. As with its yearly tradition, Makati has prepared many festivities that would make a simple but meaningful Christmas celebration possible. The Lights and Sound show will begin on November 12 at Ayala Triangle Gardens, followed by the biggest outdoor Christmas Bazaar in Circuit Makati, the city’s entertainment district, bringing together more than 200 merchants from November 28 to 30.

Also, people will get to savor al fresco dining from Mercato and Family Mart and enjoy various activities such as outdoor movies, concerts of OPM artists, educational talks, and workshops. Makati is truly growing every year to bring the best Christmas experiences to the public.

The grand Christmas celebration in Makati continues all the way to December with Makati high school students filling the air with holiday hymns in the 5th Makati Christmas Caroling Competition on December 16. Christmas is also a time for prayer and reflection and the Ayala Triangle Gardens will serve as a fitting venue for the Thanksgiving masses that will be held from December 15 to 23.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Survivors to Dinky Soliman: Liar By Joyce Pangco Panares | Nov. 06, 2014 at 12:01am


The real picture. Tacloban City residents mill around their community of tents at Barangay San Jose in Tacloban City in this photo taken on Monday. The tents were still there at press time Wednesday. MEL CASPE

Yolanda victims belie her claim no more people in tents

ALL the refugees displaced by super typhoon Yolanda have been moved out of tent cities and evacuation centers to temporary shelters, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman reported Wednesday, a claim that was immediately dismissed as a lie by a coalition of storm survivors.

“Maybe she has not visited San Jose [in Tacloban] yet,” said Efleda Bautista, leader of the People Surge coalition of Yolanda survivors, in a phone interview. “There are still survivors living in tents there.”

“We are survivors. We do not manufacture hocus pocus data. We are the victims, and yet they insult us with their lies. You cannot blame us for being angry because it’s already been a year,” she said.

Efleda was reacting to a Palace statement issued after a special Cabinet meeting on the aftermath of Yolanda, almost a year after the storm devastated Eastern Visayas and killed more than 7,000 people.

“There are no more survivors living in tents or in evacuation centers,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, after the meeting. “In as much as humanly possible, Secretary Soliman said, all survivors have been assisted in their transfer to temporary shelters.”

Coloma said based on the timeline for the implementation of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, 30 percent of all the projects will be completed this year, 50 percent next year, and 20 percent in 2016.

* The rehabilitation master plan, covers 171 cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions, collectively known as the Yolanda corridor.

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the creation of a one-stop shop for the resettlement of victims who lost their homes to the super typhoon.

Administrative Order No. 44 streamlined the issuance of permits, certifications, clearances and licenses for housing and resettlement projects in Yolanda-affected areas.

“The provision of safe shelter is a basic human need, thus it is imperative for the government to expedite the identification, construction and development of housing and resettlement sites for families who houses were damaged by typhoon Yolanda,” the President said in the order.

In an earlier interview, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson said the CRRP covers the sectors of infrastructure at P35.1 billion, resettlement at P75.6 billion, livelihood at P33.6 billion, and social services at P26.4 billion.

Lacson said the public can expect a faster pace of implementation of all Yolanda rehabilitation activities now that the CRRP has been signed.

Lacson said the CRRP featured twin innovations of cluster framework and bottom-up approaches to facilitate and speed up rehabilitation and make it consultative, participatory, and all-inclusive.

The master plan incorporated the Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda framework of the National Economic and Development Authority; the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment that was vetted by the Office of the Civil Defense; local rehabilitation plans submitted by affected local government units; and the cluster action plans approved by the Cabinet.

Red Cross and Red Crescent officials said one year after the storm, the lives of those affected by the destruction were slowly returning to normal.

“Recovery is well under way but there are still humanitarian needs on the ground and we are working across 400 communities (barangays) to ensure people get the support they need to rebuild their lives,” said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary of the Philippine Red Cross.

Since the super typhoon pummeled Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, the PRC together with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been on the ground supporting hundreds of communities.

Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies from around the world are also working across the country as part of the typhoon recovery effort.

More than 1.3 million people were provided with emergency relief in the aftermath and one year on, the Red Cross’s long term recovery plan is targeting some of the most vulnerable typhoon survivors.

Six million workers saw their livelihoods either wiped out or damaged by the disaster – of which 2.6 million were living on or below the poverty line before the typhoon.

Almost 6,100 houses have been rebuilt and in the next 15 months, 40,000 families will have received safer homes. More than 23,000 households have also received roofing sheets t repair their homes. A total of 192 classrooms have been repaired or rebuilt so far and rural health facilities are also being restored.

At least 30,000 households have so far received cash grants of up to $220 as part of the Philippine Red Cross’s three-year $360 million recovery plan which will support 500,000 people across Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Panay and Palawan islands.

A study by the IBON research group said eight of 10 Yolanda survivors were living on less than P34 a day.

With an estimated 6 million workers deprived of work, agricultural income in the affected areas have dropped 50 percent to 70 percent after Yolanda, IBON said.

In a survey of 1,094 respondens in six Eastern Visayas provinces, IBON found that eight of 10 families earn less than P5,000 a month, with most respondents belonging to families of five or more members.

Data from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery shows that rebuilding infrastructure has also been very slow, IBON said, noting that only 213 classrooms had been repaired out of a target 19,648, and only 27 out of a targeted 132 public markets have been rebuilt. Only 64 kilometers out of a target of 431 kilometers of farm-to-market roads have been repaired, and only three out of 34 bridges have been restored.

The same slow pace was evident in the repair or construction of municipal halls, civic centers, flood control structures and ports, the research outfit said.

“The government’s response to the urgent needs of the Yolanda survivors is not only slow but glaringly inadequate,” IBON said.

But foreign relief workers have remarked on the determination of the survivors to quickly rebuild their lives, and not become reliant on aid.

“The resilience of the Filipino people is amazing, they are like phoenix birds,” said Camelia Marinescu, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies chief in Tacloban.

Many foreign aid workers also praise the national and local governments’ efforts, as well as their capabilities.

“If this had happened in some other countries in the region, the recovery would certainly not be like this,” Peter Agnew, a senior official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Tacloban, said.

But the national government’s plans have already fallen behind schedule, amid problems in finding new land that is safe and suitable for 205,000 new homes, and frustration is building at the speed of the reconstruction program.

“The pace is not very fast. It’s snail paced unfortunately,” Vangie Esperas, a councillor with the Tacloban government, said.

“Many of our brothers and sisters are still living in tents and some of them are in temporary shelters.” – With Ma. Jerrylyn B. Damas, AFP

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Yolanda survivors get early Christmas gift from GMA network (The Freeman) | Updated November 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0



GMA Kapuso Foundation (GMAKF) once again enshrined its commitment to provide sustainable development projects for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda as it completed the first phase of the Kapuso Village in Tacloban City, Leyte. On July 24, 49 houses were turned over to former residents of Barangay 88 in Tacloban City as part of the 400-unit Kapuso Village Tacloban Project. The Kapuso Village Tacloban Project is in partnership with the City Government of Tacloban and the National Housing Authority (NHA).

CEBU, Philippines – GMA Network premiered its Tacloban event plug last November 3 kicking off its 2014 “Share the Love” Christmas campaign.

From a year of loss to a year of hope, GMA Network rekindles the Christmas spirit in the hearts of Yolanda survivors with an outpouring of love that gives them a wonderful new beginning.

This year, Christmas came early to the Kapuso Village in Tacloban as the network held a gathering for beneficiaries who will soon celebrate the Yuletide season in newly-built homes they can call their own. The Kapuso Village in Tacloban is the first permanent housing project in the area for survivors of typhoon Yolanda, with 49 houses ready for occupancy. By next week, an additional 123 houses will be ready, and in the coming months, 231 more houses will be turned over to their new owners.

“It was likely the first time that these families got to celebrate Christmas since they lost their homes and loved ones to typhoon Yolanda in November of last year,” said GMA Kapuso Foundation EVP and COO Mel C. Tiangco, who stood witness to the tragedy that the victims suffered with her on-site news coverage of Yolanda’s devastation and GMA Kapuso Foundation’s relief efforts. “Seeing their favorite Kapuso stars make an effort to personally deliver their presents made the occasion all the more special to them.”

In Tacloban, Mel Tiangco was joined by Kapuso stars in handing out food, toys, and Christmas trees to the families in the Kapuso Village. While in Manila, even more Kapuso personalities shared their love by sponsoring food, toys, treatments and medicines for Kapuso Foundation beneficiaries all over the Philippines, including other Yolanda-affected areas.

Truly, the rebuilding of lives takes a collaborative effort among hearts sharing the same passion and love for others.

FROM PHILSTAR

Army gives planeside honors to slain soldiers in Basilan By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated November 4, 2014 - 5:14pm 0 73 googleplus0 0


Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the 6th Infantry Division render a salute to soldiers killed on Sunday in Basilan, transported on Tuesday to their hometowns in Central Mindanao via the Maguindanao provincial airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town. John Unson

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The Army’s 6th Infantry Division on Tuesday gave planeside honors to the soldiers killed last Sunday in Basilan as their remains arrived at the Maguindanao Airport en route to their hometowns in Central Mindanao.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of 6th ID, said the rank-and-file personnel of the division mourns the death of the six soldiers killed in an ambush by bandits in Basilan's Sumisip town, even as they all belong to the 1st Infantry Division.

“As soldiers we are all brothers. In the big Philippine Army family, losing members this way is painful for all. Death in line of duty is honorable. As soldiers we have to live by our sacred oath to serve the Filipino nation at all cost,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan led the airport ceremony for four of the six slain soldiers, whose cadavers were brought Tuesday to the Maguindanao airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town from Zamboanga City by an Air Force C-130 plane.

The four slain members of the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion, Sgt. Tranquilino Germo, Privates First Class Rolando Entera, Freddie Pandoy, and Mark Singson, got enlisted in the 64th IB through the 6th ID while the battalion was still in Maguindanao, under the division’s administrative control.

* Another ambush fatality, Pfc. Raffy Canuto, is from Barangay Pansod in Lebak, a coastal town in Sultan Kudarat, about 90 kilometers west of the 6th ID's command center, Camp Siongco, near the Maguindanao airport.

Canuto’s father, Rudy, 60, said his son last talked to him via mobile phone more than a month ago, asking to be excused from a family gathering on Christmas Day next month.

“He told me he could not make it because of his assignments and asked for an apology. He promised to make up when he comes home next year,” the older Canuto said in Hiligaynon dialect.

The 64th IB, which originally belonged to the 6th ID, was first reassigned to Lanao del Sur from the second district of Maguindanao in early 2010 and eventually became a component unit of the 1st ID.

The battalion was deployed a year later in Basilan, which is under the jurisdiction of the 1st ID.

Germo, Entera and Pandoy are all from North Cotabato’s Aleosan town while Singson hailed from Barangay Manuangan in Pigcawayan municipality in the province.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said her office will extend cash assistance to the families of her four constituent-soldiers.

“It is but fitting and proper to help their bereaved families and honor these men who had served the country to the point of an ultimate, supreme sacrifice – that of dying loyal to the nation,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said each of the families of the four soldiers will receive a P5,000 financial package from the provincial government.

The local government units in the hometowns of the victims will also give them burial honors, according to the governor.

The team leader of the soldiers killed last Sunday while patrolling in Barangay Libug in Sumisip town in northeast of Basilan, 2nd Lieutenant Cresencio Corpuz, Jr., was born in Bacnotan, La Union.

Army probing video of alleged torture of soldiers By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Army is investigating whether soldiers had taken part in a 10-minute video on YouTube showing men in camouflage uniform being punched and hit repeatedly with sticks.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said no judgment would be made until after the Army investigation.

“We are letting the Army handle the investigation because it looks like the perpetrators of the alleged torture are Army personnel,” he said.

Cabunoc said the Army’s 9th Infantry Division in Bicol has been tasked to look into the matter.

“ The 9th Infantry Division is doing something to solve the problem,” he said. “We can’t preempt the results of the probe. But we can see that the men in the video committed wrongdoing.”

Cabunoc said the military does not tolerate torture and other abusive practices.

“We were taught to respect the rights of ordinary persons,” he said. “We should also respect our fellow soldiers from the time they undergo training until they become part of the service.”

As shown in the video, some of those conducting what appeared to be a military training were wearing fatigues and the others athletic uniforms.

Cries of pain can be heard as the stick-wielding men hit the trainees.

They were also ordered to do some exercises.

The video was uploaded last Nov. 1 and has been viewed almost 4,000 times.

DNA swabs to be taken from US Marine By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2014 - 1:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Officers stand guard outside the hotel where transgender Jeffrey ‘Jennifer’ Laude was killed as prosecutors conducted an ocular inspection of the crime scene in Olongapo City yesterday. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines - US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton will give today a sample of his DNA and fingerprints to forensic investigators of the Philippine National Police, sources revealed.

“Buccal swabs and prints will be taken from Pemberton at Camp Aguinaldo by the Philippine National Police-Scene of the Crime Operatives (PNP-SOCO) after the US government gave a note verbale agreeing to it,” a source told The STAR yesterday.

Another source from the diplomatic community said only two public prosecutors are allowed to witness the procedures on Pemberton that would be performed inside the 20-foot refurbished shipping container where he is currently detained.

“Complainants and their lawyers are barred from witnessing the procedures,” the source said, adding the procedure would take take several minutes.

The PNP previously tried but failed to acquire a buccal swab and fingerprint samples of Pemberton to complete its investigation.

Pemberton is the primary suspect in the killing of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in a motel in Olongapo City on Oct. 11.

The PNP tried to place Pemberton under investigation but this was denied by US authorities, prompting lawyer Harry Roque, counsel of the Laude family, to file a motion to subject the American serviceman to buccal swabs and fingerprint sampling.

However, Pemberton’s lawyer again opposed this, until yesterday when the US government finally issued a note verbale allowing the conduct of procedures on the American serviceman.

* On the other hand, prosecutors investigating the murder of Laude yesterday conducted an ocular inspection of the places where the victim and Pemberton were seen together, and reenacted the events that transpired on Oct. 11 to determine if there is probable cause to file murder or homicide charges against the US serviceman.

Olongapo City Prosecutor Emelie Fe delos Santos, head of the prosecution team, denied a motion filed by Pemberton’s counsel, Rowena Flores, opposing the ocular inspection at the Celzone Lodge where Laude was found dead.

Pemberton was among a group of US Marines on board USS Peleliu who took part in the recently concluded US-Philippine joint military exercises in Zambales.

Pemberton and Laude met at the Ambyanz Night Life Bar along Magsaysay Avenue on the night of Oct. 11 and were later seen together checking in at the nearby Celzone Lodge.

Among those who attended the ocular inspection were the Laude family, the lawyers of both camps and members of the US Naval Forces.

Another transgender and key witness known as “Barbie” also attended the inspection, a move opposed by the defense.

Delos Santos earlier said the ocular inspection is necessary to corroborate the testimonies of witnesses.

Pemberton is currently detained at the Joint US Military Advisory Group compound at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Delos Santos said they would rule on probable cause after the inspection and reenactment. All motions from both camps, with or without Pemberton’s counter-affidavit, would be submitted for resolution.

The Laude family has filed a motion requiring Pemberton to submit himself to a DNA test, which was opposed by his lawyer.

The prosecution believes the US authorities will be the one to provide DNA samples of Pemberton.

“The presence of US authorities during the preliminary hearing is a sign that they will cooperate,” Delos Santos said, referring to Col. Timothy Stone of the US Navy regional legal service, who attended the legal proceedings last Oct. 27 at the Olongapo City Justice Hall.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced on Monday that they would file next week a disbarment case against Harry Roque, Laude’s lawyer.

AFP public affairs Chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the case stemmed from Roque’s alleged inappropriate action when the Laude family forced themselves into a restricted area of the AFP headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.

Laude’s German fiancé Marc Suselbeck was also charged by the AFP for climbing over the fence and for pushing a soldier during the incident.

Suselbeck had been subjected to deportation proceedings but has since apologized and offered voluntary deportation.

Olongapo economy stalled

Metro Olongapo Chamber of Commerce Inc. (MOCCI) president and Christmas Mardi Gras chairman Ruben de Guzman said Laude’s case has affected the livelihood of Olongapo residents, who want the court proceedings moved to Manila.

De Guzman said they had to hold the Mardi Gras event early to pre-empt the effect of the Laude issue, which he said has caused a negative impact on the city’s economy.

“They should stop holding rallies here because Olongapo is a small city and businesses and livelihood here are affected,” De Guzman said.

Eden Anam, manager of Sam’s Pizza Family Restaurant located across Celzone Lodge, said business was good when the US Naval Base was in the area.

Tropical Bay Restaurant owner Lani Strickland, whose place is across Ambyanz Night Life Bar, said her shop does good business whenever troops participating in military exercises are on liberty.

“We earn as much as P4,000 from a table occupied by a US serviceman. Five tables occupied by locals don’t make half of the amount,” she said.

“Today, business is not good because they closed part of Magsaysay Drive for the ocular inspection,” she added. – Bebot Sison Jr.

AFP chief on Abu ransom payments: Cash is fake By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang yesterday disputed claims of the Abu Sayyaf regarding ransom money paid to the bandit group, saying this was likely counterfeit.

“I have ordered an investigation into this matter because the Abu Sayyaf could just be trying to create confusion to mislead the general public to believe that ransom was indeed paid,” Catapang said.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali released a video clip on Facebook showing what they claimed to be the P250-million ransom paid to them in exchange for the freedom of German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen last Oct. 17.

The video showed the Abu Sayyaf piling bundles of P1,000 bills in five stacks, neatly wrapped with transparent plastic, each stack estimated to be P1 million. The money was placed on top of a large black plastic bag.

“From what we saw on the video is not true. It might be the Abu Sayyaf is showing off the supposed ransom money that are a bunch of bogus bills,” Catapang said.

Catapang, currently in Brunei on an official trip, also stressed the need for a “whole of nation approach” in addressing the Abu Sayyaf menace in the areas of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta).

“There should be social pressure to ask the people of Western Mindanao to put a stop to the kidnapping and change the image of Western Mindanao from a kidnapping area into an area of peace and prosperity,” he said.

For the AFP, Catapang said the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, as well as the Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police (PNP), are now jointly pursuing a combined Abu Sayyaf force of an estimated 400 gunmen in the Zambasulta area.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, also doubted Askali’s claims of ransom money.

If it were true, Cabanoc admitted this would be a big concern for the military.

“We are also concerned with this, if ever ransom was really paid. They could use that in acquiring firearms,” he said.

Cabunoc, however, stressed the possibility the mound of cash shown by Askali could be fake, or someone outside of the military could have devised ways to deceive the kidnappers by delivering counterfeit bills to secure the release of the German hostages.– With Roel Pareño


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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