PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

ISIS STUDY WEBSITE: FILIPINO PART OF THE BEHEADING TEAM 

NOV 20 ---PHOTO: A video grab from ‘The ISIS Study Group’ website shows this unidentified ISIS fighter believed to be a Filipino. A Filipino may have been one of the executioners of Syrian Air Force pilots and an American whose respective beheadings were recorded on video. Retired US military men supposedly maintaining the website “The ISIS Study Group” reported they have intelligence analysts ascertaining that the “Asian-looking” Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighter is “possibly Filipino Tausug.” A video of the latest beheadings was uploaded online last Sunday. “The recent IS execution video showing the beheadings of the Syrian pilots and Peter Kassig is extremely important due to the fact that a Filipino foreign fighter was involved in the execution of the pilots, and quite possibly was also involved in Kassig’s execution as well,” the website said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Singapore leader commends Noy, Xi meeting  

NOV 19 --PHOTO: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. US defense dept./Cherie Thurlby MANILA, Philippines - Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commended President Aquino on his recent meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, saying that China’s willingness to communicate with the Philippines on the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) would be a good start for the two countries to settle their differences. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters the topic was among those raised by Lee following “The World in 2015” gala dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore Tuesday evening. Asked if there was any change in the Chinese approach in dealing with the West Philippine Sea issue, Aquino said he hoped there would be. “The mere fact that we’re talking again is already a substantial change. Previously, there was a lot of rhetoric that stated one position to the exclusion of the other,” he said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: No tickets for pontiff’s Mass at Rizal Park – CBCP 

NOV 20 --PHOTO: A worker takes a breather from work at the Quirino Grandstand which is undergoing a facelift in preparation for the visit of Pope Francis in January. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ The Catholic Church in the country will not be selling tickets for the Mass of Pope Francis at Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila on January 18 next year, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said at a news conference on Thursday. Millions of devotees are expected to attend the Rizal Park Mass, one of several the Pope will celebrate during his five-day visit to the country beginning January 15. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Kill-pope threat real – PNP official  

INTELLIGENCE reports about a possible attack on Pope Francis should not be taken lightly and authorities should not be complacent because if something happened, the Philippines could be the world’s “center of attraction” in January, according to a top Philippine National Police (PNP) official. Speaking on condition that he should not be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, the police official, who was instrumental in the identification and eventual capture of al-Qaeda terrorist Ramzi Yousef in the 1990s, said his long experience as a police investigator handling such sensitive cases requires him to “respect” intelligence reports about a possible plot to harm the pope by those who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS.
The pontiff will be in the Philippines from January 15 to 19 next year.

ALSO: Pope Francis at Int'L Conference on Nutrition warned that man’s greed will destroy world 

ROME: Pope Francis warned Thursday that planet earth would not forgive the abuse of its resources for profit, urging the world’s leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry—or risk a doomsday scenario in which nature would exact revenge.
“God always forgives, but the earth does not,” the Argentine pope told the Second International Conference on Nutrition (CIN2) in Rome, a three-day meeting aimed at tackling malnutrition, a global scourge which afflicts poor and rich alike. “Take care of the earth so it does not respond with destruction,” he warned representatives from 190 countries gathered for the conference organized by the UN food agency (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) in the Italian capital. The 77-year old, a staunch defender of the poor and downtrodden, said the world had “paid too little heed to those who are hungry.”

ALSO: P23-B addt’l budget sought for Yolanda rehab, LRT 

NOV 20 --Malacañang is asking Congress for a P23-billion supplemental budget for the reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other projects including the rehabilitation of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the supplemental budget will cover liabilities arising from obligated infrastructure projects worth P1.85 billion under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). “The National Treasury has already certified the availability of funds to support these projects, but these appropriations must likewise be supported by proper legislation,” he said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Aquino working to improve economy so OFWs would stay home

NOV 20 --Singapore – President Aquino has taken the dream of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – to live and work in the Philippines – to heart, which drives him to better the economy by inviting businesses to invest in the Philippines during his foreign trips. SINGAPORE VISIT – PHOTO: President Aquino shakes hands with The Economist Executive Editor and The World in 2015 Editor Daniel Franklin during the keynote interview and gala dinner at the Four Season Hotel of his working visit to Singapore Tuesday. SINGAPORE VISIT – President Aquino shakes hands with The Economist Executive Editor and The World in 2015 Editor Daniel Franklin during the keynote interview and gala dinner at the Four Season Hotel of his working visit to Singapore Tuesday.” READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

ISIS study website: Pinoy part of beheading team


A video grab from ‘The ISIS Study Group’ website shows this unidentified ISIS fighter believed to be a Filipino.

MANILA, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero - A Filipino may have been one of the executioners of Syrian Air Force pilots and an American whose respective beheadings were recorded on video.

Retired US military men supposedly maintaining the website “The ISIS Study Group” reported they have intelligence analysts ascertaining that the “Asian-looking” Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighter is “possibly Filipino Tausug.”

A video of the latest beheadings was uploaded online last Sunday.

“The recent IS execution video showing the beheadings of the Syrian pilots and Peter Kassig is extremely important due to the fact that a Filipino foreign fighter was involved in the execution of the pilots, and quite possibly was also involved in Kassig’s execution as well,” the website said.

“In the recent Islamic State video showing the beheadings of 18 Syrian Air Force pilots and American citizen Peter Kassig, we saw what appears to be a Filipino foreign fighter participating in the executions.”

The British news website Mail Online also reported similar information.

It cited unnamed Kurdish sources as saying that the killer from the latest ISIS video is a Filipino.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the military could not verify whether the “Asian-looking” executioner is indeed a Filipino.

“I cannot confirm this report because the video is not verified by our intelligence agencies,” he said.

“We cannot independently verify this because we cannot make a conclusion on his nationality based on his appearance.”

Cabunoc said Southeast Asians have a lot in common in terms of physical features.

“So far there are no verified reports about Filipinos joining ISIS,” he said.

The ISIS Study Group said Philippine terror groups are actively working to achieve their goal of securing overseas funding associated with IS, although they are not quite at the level of their counterparts in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Furthermore, we assess that approximately 10-20 Filipinos have actually traveled to Syria or Iraq with the purpose of networking with ‘the right people’ connected to foreign financiers,” the website said.

In their quest to control Muslim regions, ISIS has killed non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam.

Last October, former President Fidel Ramos revealed that about 100 young Filipino Muslims had entered Iraq to train with the ISIS.

An online video showing members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters pledging allegiance to ISIS has surfaced.

It led to speculations that ISIS had entered the country.

However, security officials dismissed the video as a mere propaganda tool. The supposed alliance between ISIS and local terrorists remains unverified, they said.

On Sunday, social media accounts of ISIS affiliates released a video showing the brutal execution of Kassig and 18 Syrian pilots in Dabiq, northern Syria.

Kassig was a 26-year-old aid worker who was kidnapped while delivering relief goods in Syria last year.

ISIS said Kassig, a former US Army Ranger, was beheaded for fighting against Muslims in Iraq.

Kassig was the fifth Westerner to be executed after American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

The video also showed the beheading of Syrian pilots wearing blue jumpsuits.


Singapore leader commends Noy, Xi meeting By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. US defense dept./Cherie Thurlby

MANILA, Philippines - Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong commended President Aquino on his recent meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, saying that China’s willingness to communicate with the Philippines on the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) would be a good start for the two countries to settle their differences.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters the topic was among those raised by Lee following “The World in 2015” gala dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore Tuesday evening.

Asked if there was any change in the Chinese approach in dealing with the West Philippine Sea issue, Aquino said he hoped there would be.

“The mere fact that we’re talking again is already a substantial change. Previously, there was a lot of rhetoric that stated one position to the exclusion of the other,” he said.

“Now that we are talking, that hopefully signifies that we could really arrive at a compromise and a just solution to the issue,” the President said,

He also told the event participants that the Philippines had been pursuing two tracks – crafting a binding code of conduct and arbitration.

“All of the parties have reiterated their desire to come up with this code of conduct at the soonest possible time. But soonest in their diplomatic sphere is not exactly soonest in a corporate world,” he said.

The Philippines has filed a memorial at the international tribunal to boost its claim in the West Philippine Sea. China, which has until December to respond, has rejected the move to elevate the issue to the international tribunal.

Aside from China and the Philippines, other countries laying claim to the territory, in whole or in part, include Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Aquino and Lee, meanwhile, met during a courtesy call made by the President at the Istana main building shortly after arriving in Singapore for a two-day working visit.

Lacierda said Aquino showed Lee a note bearing Xi’s statement written in Chinese language, which the Singaporean leader read and took positively.

“The first remark (of Prime Minister Lee) after reading the statement was: ‘This is quite a generous discussion,’” Lacierda told reporters in a press briefing.

He added the Singaporean leader hoped for a “just and amicable outcome” in the dispute between China and the Philippines.

Lee, who was also present in the APEC summits, welcomed the development, echoing Aquino’s belief that the Philippines’ overall relationship with China should not revolve entirely around their territorial conflict.

“Our relationship with China is multifaceted. It’s not focused on the dispute in the South China Sea. We have other relations with China. For instance, trade, people-to-people, tourism... So, in that respect, we’re in agreement that (our) relationship with China is not focused on the dispute,” Lacierda said.

Aquino discussed with Lee the Philippines’ arbitration case filed before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea and the Singaporean leader was supportive of the general idea behind such move, he added.

“In Lee’s view, China does not want to go to war. China would like to have peace with its southern neighbors. And the President’s answer is that ‘we also don’t have any intention. My interest here is how to improve the lot of the Filipinos,’” Lacierda said.

“If there are no tensions in the South China Sea, we can concentrate on making our country more prosperous, more economically viable with respect to trade relations with China and other members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), of APEC, and other regional trade groups.”

Lacierda said Lee welcomed the fact that talks with regard to the code of conduct were now moving and that China was currently reviewing it.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

No tickets for pontiff’s Mass at Rizal Park – CBCP November 20, 2014 10:20 pm by ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ REPORTER


A worker takes a breather from work at the Quirino Grandstand which is undergoing a facelift in preparation for the visit of Pope Francis in January. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

The Catholic Church in the country will not be selling tickets for the Mass of Pope Francis at Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila on January 18 next year, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said at a news conference on Thursday.

Millions of devotees are expected to attend the Rizal Park Mass, one of several the Pope will celebrate during his five-day visit to the country beginning January 15.

“No tickets will be sold but again to emphasize the theme of ‘Mercy and Compassion,’ only PWDs [Persons with Disability] and the handicapped will be given special IDs for the Luneta Mass,” CBCP Secretary General Fr. Marvin Mejia said.

Mejia added that the Church will ask its 86 archdioceses and dioceses to each send five PWDs or representatives from the poor sector.

He said the dioceses will be responsible for accommodation and transportation of the PWDs.

Mejia added that they will invite 20 priests for the Mass in Luneta and five representatives from the religious groups.

At the same news conference, Fr. Anton Pascual, Caritas Manila executive director and Radyo Veritas president, said the Church is now accepting donations to help defray expenses during the papal visit.

Pascual added that interested donors in Manila can get in touch with the Finance Committee for the papal visit. The committee is headed by Palo Archbishop John Du and Msgr. Clem Ignacio.

He said the Vatican wanted the visit of Francis to be a simple, not a lavish, occasion.

A Church insider said the Catholic Church wants to limit the expenses of the pontiff’s visit to P70 million.

Among the expected expenses are the LED screens and portable toilets that will be placed in areas where crowds will converge to see the pope.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Kill-pope threat real – PNP official November 20, 2014 10:34 pm by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER

INTELLIGENCE reports about a possible attack on Pope Francis should not be taken lightly and authorities should not be complacent because if something happened, the Philippines could be the world’s “center of attraction” in January, according to a top Philippine National Police (PNP) official.

Speaking on condition that he should not be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, the police official, who was instrumental in the identification and eventual capture of al-Qaeda terrorist Ramzi Yousef in the 1990s, said his long experience as a police investigator handling such sensitive cases requires him to “respect” intelligence reports about a possible plot to harm the pope by those who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The pontiff will be in the Philippines from January 15 to 19 next year.

“My gut feel, and I have always trusted my instincts in matters such as this, is that they [terrorists] might try it again. Therefore, nobody should take this [threat] lightly and be complacent. We don’t want to be blamed if anything wrong happens,” said the source, who traced Yousef’s footsteps from the Josefa Apartments that was gutted by fire in Manila to the Philippine Airlines flight to Japan that was rocked by an explosion, around the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1995.

“They tried it before. They might give it another shot,” he added.

The source said he was among those who had warned US authorities about a supposed plot by terrorists to blow up a passenger aircraft but was ignored.

“So there was the September 11 [2001] attacks on the World Trade Center,” he noted.

The source was also privy to the report on Oplan Bojinka, a large-scale, three-phase Islamist attack by Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed involving a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II, an air bombing of 11 airliners flying from Asia to the United States with 4,000 passengers and a proposal to crash a plane into the headquarters of the CIA in Fairfax county, Virginia.

The Bojinka plot was disrupted after a chemical fire drew the PNP’s attention on January 6 to 7, 1995 at the Josefa Apartments along the pope’s parade route.

Before the plot was disrupted, Yousef had detonated test bombs in a mall and theater, injuring scores of people, as well as on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, killing one person and nearly causing enough damage to result in destruction of the aircraft.

When asked why intelligence sources have been leaking information about the ISIS’ movements when the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have denied the existence of such plot, the source, who holds one of the most sensitive positions in the PNP at present, explained this is necessary “to keep everyone on their toes without causing undue panic.”

“The matter should be taken seriously. The threat is real,” he said.

The official’s statements came amid reports on involvement of at least one Filipino jihadist in the beheading of several Syrian soldiers by ISIS militants recently.

On Thursday in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there was no confirmation from the AFP about the supposed ISIS recruitment in the Philippines.

“According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, there is no confirmed report of ISIS recruitment here in the Philippines.

The AFP said it is coordinating with local leaders to prevent ISIS recruitment efforts and enjoined their support to our counter-radicalization campaign in the communities,” Coloma told reporters.

“The AFP and other law enforcement authorities are still ascertaining the authenticity of the video,” he said.

Coloma maintained that law enforcement agencies continue to be vigilant against threats posed by ISIS."

President Benigno Aquino 3rd recently belied reports that ISIS had recruited Filipino fighters into its ranks although he admitted that the country is vulnerable to “lone wolf” attacks.

Earlier, a source of The Manila Times from the PNP intelligence service claimed that a team of jihadists led by Jemaah Islamiyah-trained Abdul Basit Usman and the Al Hansar Khilafa group, which had sworn allegiance to ISIS, was sent to Luzon to plan attacks.

The source, who is familiar with movements of local militants, said the deployment of the team may have something to do with the papal visit.

But according to Malacanang, the claims still have to be verified but the AFP and the PNP are ready “at all times” to ensure the security of anyone, especially Pope Francis, “in terms of surveillance, monitoring and exchange of intelligence information with their foreign counterparts.”

“The Armed Forces and the [PNP] are dedicated to act on security threats in the country,” Coloma said.

The Times reported on Tuesday that the group now in Luzon is identified with Al Hansar Khilafa and was formed in July and has reportedly recruited more than 60 fighters who came from different militant groups in the country such as the Rajah Solaiman Movement-Abu Sayyaf Group of Isnilon Hapilon and Usman’s former men in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Recruits from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and three members of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) complete the group, it was said.

The source said Usman’s men, who could now be in Metro Manila and in the Southern Tagalog region, are all trained in making explosives.

Another police intelligence source earlier said a group of foreign jihadists has set up a cell in Luzon and may also be plotting to kill the pontiff when he visits the Philippines early next year.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Pope Francis at Int'L Conference on Nutrition warned that man’s greed will destroy world November 20, 2014 8:16 pm

ROME: Pope Francis warned Thursday that planet earth would not forgive the abuse of its resources for profit, urging the world’s leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry—or risk a doomsday scenario in which nature would exact revenge.

“God always forgives, but the earth does not,” the Argentine pope told the Second International Conference on Nutrition (CIN2) in Rome, a three-day meeting aimed at tackling malnutrition, a global scourge which afflicts poor and rich alike.

“Take care of the earth so it does not respond with destruction,” he warned representatives from 190 countries gathered for the conference organized by the UN food agency (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) in the Italian capital.

The 77-year old, a staunch defender of the poor and downtrodden, said the world had “paid too little heed to those who are hungry.”

While the number of undernourished people dropped by over half in the past two decades, some 805 million people were still affected in 2014.

“It is also painful to see the struggle against hunger and malnutrition hindered by ‘market priorities’, the ‘primacy of profit’, which reduce foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation and financial speculation in particular,” Francis said.

“The hungry remain at the street corner… and ask for a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity,” he said.

The pope has in the past launched several scathing attacks on those who get rich through market speculation, particularly the practice of betting on the price of food commodities which can inflate prices and see poor families go hungry.

He urged the world’s population to have “mutual respect, instead of fighting between themselves, damaging and impoverishing the planet.”

While he praised the work of the FAO and WHO in getting the delegates to adopt a “Rome Declaration on Nutrition” and “Framework for Action”, he called on those drawing up “rules and technical measures” not to lose sight of the hungry man “fighting for survival”.

“Feed the hungry, save life on the planet,” Francis said at the end of his speech which was met with a standing ovation.

The declaration focuses on improving access to healthy food but also the growing problem of inactive over-eaters.

Two billion people suffer from deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc—a condition known as “hidden hunger” by experts—while 42 million children and 500 million adults are overweight or obese. AFP


FROM PHILSTAR

P23-B addt’l budget sought for Yolanda rehab, LRT By Zinnia dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


AFTER YOLANDA

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is asking Congress for a P23-billion supplemental budget for the reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other projects including the rehabilitation of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the supplemental budget will cover liabilities arising from obligated infrastructure projects worth P1.85 billion under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“The National Treasury has already certified the availability of funds to support these projects, but these appropriations must likewise be supported by proper legislation,” he said.

“With the proposed 2015 national budget already subject to Senate deliberations, we need the support of the House of Representatives to pass a supplemental appropriations bill to fund these projects.”

About P16.4 billion has been allocated for new priority initiatives, including the LRT rehabilitation.

Of this amount, P9.5 billion will go to the government’s rehabilitation program for key cities that Yolanda had devastated, particularly the construction of permanent housing for its victims.

The additional budget would also support preparations for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit for which the government has earmarked around P1.44 billion.

Another P5.08 billion will be channeled to several priority projects under various government agencies.

The funds will account for the budgetary requirements of priority projects that were partially implemented or previously approved for implementation this year.

These projects were originally funded by the now-defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), as well as those supported by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), respectively.

Abad said most of these projects have already been completed, or are urgently needed to sustain socio-economic development.

“The passage of the proposed supplemental budget will allow us to allocate funds accordingly so we can complete these projects right away,” he said.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Aquino working to improve economy so OFWs would stay home by Jayvee Fernandez November 20, 2014 Share this:


President Aquino shakes hands with The Economist Executive Editor and The World in 2015 Editor Daniel Franklin during the keynote interview and gala dinner at the Four Season Hotel of his working visit to Singapore Tuesday. Singapore – President Aquino has taken the dream of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – to live and work in the Philippines – to heart, which drives him to better the economy by inviting businesses to invest in the Philippines during his foreign trips.

SINGAPORE VISIT – President Aquino shakes hands with The Economist Executive Editor and The World in 2015 Editor Daniel Franklin during the keynote interview and gala dinner at the Four Season Hotel of his working visit to Singapore Tuesday.

In an interview with Daniel Franklin, the executive editor of The Economist, Aquino narrated a chance meeting with OFWs during a stopover at the Dubai airport from Davos, Switzerland.

Aquino said he was told, “Sir, hasten the opportunities back home so that we can go back home.” “Instead of trying to convince them (OFWs) to come back home,” Aquino said, “they are actually trying to egg me out to speed up all of the changes that will enable them to do so.”

The President stressed how important it was for the people to get used to the idea that the government can work.

He narrated an instance when improvement in educational infrastructure was done without having to raise taxes.

“We inherited, for instance, a backlog of 66,800 classrooms. We have a budget that can support the construction of 8,000 classrooms a year. We finished the 66,800 in our third year in office. We are now constructing the necessary classrooms for the increase of two years in our basic education program.”

BUILDING CONSENSUS

With 2016 in the horizon, the President wished that his successor should already have a track record of having done these things. He said that the Liberal Party (LP) has already started building a consensus for deciding who is to succeed him.

Overall, the President noted a big difference in the mindset of Filipinos.

Although Filipinos are not yet migrating back to the Philippines, there is a change in attitude “that there is pride now that we can do so many things, that there’s so many opportunities that are opening up…”

In his remaining days, the President hopes to speed up all of the infrastructure targeting 5 percent of GDP in terms of measures for 2016, with almost 4 percent this year.

The reformation of the bureaucracy is also a major thrust.

When asked about how he will be spending his days after stepping down, the president said since he is forbidden by law to participate in an industry he regulated, he is still not sure but said his mother, former President Corazon Aquino did work with micro-financing after her term ended. He ended by saying that, “I guess, to a large degree, I was really helping the party to become that party of ideology that has a platform that is constant and we will continue.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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