PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org



HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
CLICK HERE TO READ ONLINE
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

DUTERTE: TOKHANG MAY BE REVIVED, PNP TO DECIDE WHEN, MUST 'ASSIGN TRUSTWORTHY MEN' [ALSO COMMENTARY: The flop of yellows’ EDSA plan]


FEBRUARY 28 -President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday it would be up to the Philippine National Police to decide whether to resume Tokhang now or wait a few months amid reports indicating a rise in the sale of illegal drugs on the streets. The STAR/Edd Gumban, File photo
 Less than a month after banning the police from anti-drug operations and suspending Oplan Tokhang, President Duterte is open to the resumption of his brutal campaign against the drug menace. Duterte said yesterday it would be up to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to decide whether to resume Tokhang now or wait a few months amid reports indicating a rise in the sale of illegal drugs on the streets.If the organization decides to resume it sooner, Duterte stressed that the PNP should “assign trustworthy men.” The resurgence in the sale of illegal drugs on the streets made police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa think of asking the President to order the resumption of Tokhang – the PNP operation plan against illegal drugs – that has already claimed thousands of lives.
READ MORE...ALSO, The flop of yellows’ EDSA plan...

ALSO: De Lima lawyers ask high court to free her
[De Lima seeks SQA to shelve arrest order; Judge committed 'grave abuse of discretion' -Leila's lawyer]


FEBRUARY 28 -Sen. Leila de Lima Sen. Leila de Lima waves at her supporters outside the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (Photo by NINO JESUS ORBETA/Philippine Daily Inquirer)
If she’s into the illegal drug trade, what kind of narcotics did she peddle? How much did she actually sell? How did she make the transactions? These were among the questions raised by Sen. Leila de Lima’s lawyers as they asked the Supreme Court on Monday to release De Lima, President Duterte’s most vocal critic, who has been detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City since Friday on what they claimed were trumped-up drug charges. In an 82-page petition for certiorari, the senator urged the high tribunal to issue a status quo ante order and a temporary restraining order barring Executive Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 from hearing her case. READ MORE...RELATED,
De Lima seeks SQA to shelve arrest order; "Judge committed 'grace abuse of discretion" -Leila's lawyer...

ALSO: LTFRB FREE RIDES TODAY: Jeepneys on strike and more strikes mulled
[RELATED: Transport strike strand thousands in MM]


FEBRUARY 28 -FREE RIDE – Commuters ride a truck of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), one of the many alternative rides provided by the government yesterday to help absorb the impact of yesterday’s nationwide jeepney strike. The strike was in protest of a government plan to phase out old jeepneys and the P7-million minimum capital requirement for jeepney operators. (Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin)
Transport groups are planning to hold regular strikes if they are not satisfied with the terms of the government’s jeepney modernization program. Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Board Member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada revealed this yesterday, saying the government is not threatened by the planned strikes as suspension of operations is prohibited under the franchise granted on transport operators. As stated in their franchise or Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), Lizada said transport operators should know that they are prohibited from suspending operations as a sign of protest to any government policy or decision. “They shall face cancellation or suspension of franchise,” said Lizada, who led the Joint Quick Response Team in monitoring the transport strike at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) headquarters yesterday. READ MORE...RELATED, Transport strikes strand thousands in MM...

ALSO: Duterte’s peace adviser confirms, condemns German hostage’s beheading
[RELATED: Jurgen Kantner beheaded by Philippine militants, who release video of the German's horrifying murder]


Abu Sayyaf Group's beheaded German hostage Juergen Gustav Kantner. AFP still looking for his body
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday confirmed the beheading of the Abu Sayyaf Group's German hostage Juergen Gustav Kantner.  "We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim, German Juergen Gustav Kantner in Sulu," Dureza said in a statement. "Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best. But to no avail," he added. Kantner, 70, was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group in waters off Sabah in November 2016. READ MORE...RELATED, Jurgen Kantner beheaded by Philippine militants, who release video of the German's horrifying murder...

ALSO HB 4727: Death penalty to be imposed only on just one offense, illegal drugs
[RELATED: House further waters down death penalty bill, list of drug offenses]


FEBRUARY 28 -HRW said use of the death penalty was on the rise across the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Iran consistently having some of the world’s highest execution rates (AFP / YAHOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
From 21 heinous crimes, the death penalty is proposed to be imposed only on just one offense – illegal drugs. In a caucus on Monday afternoon, February 27, the House supermajority bloc headed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez reached a consensus to further water down House Bill 4727 from last week’s decision that reduced the proposed 21 offenses to just four — plunder, treason, rape, and drug-related crimes. Alvarez has also reiterated previous pronouncements that former president and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and leaders of the Malacanang-backed supermajority will be stripped of their posts if they will vote against HB 4727 which seeks to restore the death penalty in the country. READ MORE...RELATED, House further waters down death penalty bill, list of drug offenses...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE BELOW
OR CLICK HERE TO READ ONLINE

Tokhang may be revived, PNP to decide when and to 'assign trustworthy men' - Duterte


President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday it would be up to the Philippine National Police to decide whether to resume Tokhang now or wait a few months amid reports indicating a rise in the sale of illegal drugs on the streets. The STAR/Edd Gumban, File photo

MANILA, FEBRUARY 28, 2017 (PHILSTAR) By Alexis Romero Updated February 28, 2017 - Less than a month after banning the police from anti-drug operations and suspending Oplan Tokhang, President Duterte is open to the resumption of his brutal campaign against the drug menace.

Duterte said yesterday it would be up to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to decide whether to resume Tokhang now or wait a few months amid reports indicating a rise in the sale of illegal drugs on the streets.

If the organization decides to resume it sooner, Duterte stressed that the PNP should “assign trustworthy men.”

The resurgence in the sale of illegal drugs on the streets made police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa think of asking the President to order the resumption of Tokhang – the PNP operation plan against illegal drugs – that has already claimed thousands of lives.

READ MORE...

CLAMORE FROM LOCAL GOVTS

Dela Rosa reported a growing clamor from local government units to resume the war on drugs after the illicit trade was said to again be on the rise after the government suspended it due to the involvement of high ranking police officers in the kidnap-for-ransom and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo last year.

“The resumption of that war would depend on President Duterte. If he sees that we (PNP) are done with our internal cleansing, that we have cleansed our ranks and we are ready to take on the war against drugs, then maybe and hopefully (he will revive Tokhang),” Dela Rosa said during a speech in Zamboanga City’s 80th Charter Day celebration Sunday.

But Duterte would rather leave the decision to the PNP, adding that if it decides to resume the campaign sooner, then it should be assigned to “trustworthy men.”

“I don’t know. I would leave it to the PNP to decide. What do they need? What do they have to do to succeed? I do not meddle in the mechanisms there. What is important for me is finish it, do it, I do not inquire into how, where, what,” the President told reporters in Malacañang yesterday.

“I said give me the men that I can trust to handle the campaign,” he added as he claimed that drug-related activities have risen by 20 percent since Tokhang was suspended. “I told you it’s a virulent thing. Hindi matapos-tapos ‘yan (It is never ending).”

Duterte said Dela Rosa should “look for young men in the PNP who are imbued with patriotic fervor to serve their country.”

RODY'S COPS STANDARDS

“The standard is you must be honest and efficient, you must not be corrupt so that everything will be in order,” he stressed.

Earlier, he had Tokhang suspended after some PNP scalawags were found to have used it as a weapon to extort money from people. The campaign was criticized by the United Nations and several human rights groups because of the high number of people killed.

More than half of about 8,000 lives lost due to Tokhang were done by unidentified assailants, sometimes referred to as vigilantes. Government authorities though attributed these killings to drug syndicates, saying the warlords were purging their own ranks.

In jest, Duterte issued a threat to drug offenders who refuse to stop their activities.

“Kung ayaw nilang huminto mag-suicide ako. Takutin ko na lang sila. Mag-bomber na lang ako, suicide bomber (If they don’t stop, I’ll commit suicide. I’ll just scare them. I’ll just be a bomber, a suicide bomber),” he said, confirming that the drug war was in the agenda of yesterday’s joint military and police command conference in Malacañang.

Dela Rosa recounted his talks with and clamors of governors, mayors and barangay leaders to resume the war on drugs.

“They want to resume the war on drugs because now the pushers and users are resurging and even bragging that police authorities could not touch them. They are back in business,” he said.

The PNP chief said he has not set any date yet pending Duterte’s decision.

“However, we are ready (to resume it) anytime,” he added.

The current anti-illegal drugs campaign is spearheaded by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which only has about 1,800 people on its roll. The PNP has 160,000 in its force. – With Roel Pareño

-------------------------

ALSO FROM PHILSTAR (COMMENTARY

The flop of yellows’ EDSA plan HOTSPOT By Mocha Uson (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 28, 2017 - 12:00am 0 2687 googleplus0 0


By Mocha Uson

The first People Power showed how the Filipino people, when united, could send a strong message and take back the country for themselves. It presented that the Filipinos were the real boss and that their voices should be heard by those they chose to run the country.

Three decades have passed and I believe that if they have been consistent in putting the needs of the Filipino people first and if they have not associated it with just one political color, maybe the spirit of EDSA would still be as strong as it was before.

The yellow politicians, together with their supporters, gathered last week at the People Power Monument to honor the 31st anniversary of the EDSA Revolution. However, they did more than just commemorate the anniversary of People Power, they tried to use the event to present President Duterte as the next Marcos.

They were there to send a message that there is a threat to our democracy without any consideration to the fact that the President has protected and still protects their right to protest even if the rallies they organized are against Duterte.

It seems that the EDSA commemoration turned into an anti-Duterte protest.

They can deny all they want, but with all the recent attacks against the President, the call for the presence of the people at the EDSA “commemoration” and the use of the Catholic church just like before, it also appears that they intended it to be more than just recalling the revolution 31 years ago. I, for one, believe that their intention was also to celebrate their return to power if they had succeeded. Their plan, of course, failed because they didn’t have the most important ingredient. They lacked something that was vital to the first EDSA revolution: The support of the Filipino people.

So where is the support of the Filipinos? Let’s look at crowd estimates provided by the Philippine National Police (PNP). As of 7:30 p.m. last Feb. 25, the number of people at the EDSA People Power Monument was at 1,300.

Even if we were to use the estimate provided by the organizers, which was 9,000, there’s still a large difference to the number of people who showed support for President Duterte and his fight against illegal drugs, crime and corruption.

As of 7 p.m. last Feb. 25, PNP estimated that the number of people at Quirino Grandstand was at 200,000. There were also thousands of Filipinos from all around the world and all over Philippines who showed their support.

This clearly shows that the majority of Filipinos support the President and the battle to bring change to our country. These yellow politicians who claim to value the will and the voice of the people must respect what the people want and not prioritize what they want for themselves.

They must understand that they are responsible for pushing people away because of years of failed promises, years of watching their fellow countrymen get corrupted by illegal drugs, years of seeing Filipinos fall prey to criminals, and years of corrupt politicians running our country. Those yellow politicians who were in power before seemed to have sat idly by while the Filipino people suffered from these problems.

To make it more simple, the message of the Filipino people to these yellow politicians is this: We don’t trust you, we don’t support you, and we will no longer be puppets that you can use for your own agenda and selfish ambitions; it is now the time for the Filipino people.

The Filipino people do not have amnesia and are not blind. They can see clearly; they see what you’re really fighting for, and that is not the Filipinos nor our beloved country.

If you just performed your duties when you were still in power, then maybe you would still have our support. But because you have shown what the color yellow really stands for, we now side with President Duterte who represents all colors and will really fight for a better future for the entire nation unlike you who just fought for a better future for yourselves.

Again, let me say that your time is done. It is now the time for the Filipino people and the time for a better Philippines.


PHILSTAR

De Lima lawyers ask high court to free her By: Marlon Ramos - Reporter / @MRamosINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 01:22 AM February 28, 2017


Sen. Leila de Lima Sen. Leila de Lima waves at her supporters outside the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (Photo by NINO JESUS ORBETA/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

If she’s into the illegal drug trade, what kind of narcotics did she peddle? How much did she actually sell? How did she make the transactions?

These were among the questions raised by Sen. Leila de Lima’s lawyers as they asked the Supreme Court on Monday to release De Lima, President Duterte’s most vocal critic, who has been detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City since Friday on what they claimed were trumped-up drug charges.

In an 82-page petition for certiorari, the senator urged the high tribunal to issue a status quo ante order and a temporary restraining order barring Executive Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 from hearing her case.

READ MORE...

She also moved for Guerrero’s inhibition for allegedly prejudging the case and for committing grave abuse of discretion in issuing the arrest warrant with “undue haste and inordinate interest.”

“If they can do this to a senator, how much more to (ordinary) citizens like us?” Alex Padilla, one of De Lima’s lawyers, told a news briefing before the petition was filed.

“The issuance of a warrant of arrest by a court that has no jurisdiction over the case makes such warrant obviously and patently null and without basis, thus making Senator De Lima’s detention … illegal,” Padilla said.

No jurisdiction

De Lima sought the high court’s intervention three days after Guerrero ordered her arrest for her alleged involvement in the narcotics trade in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was justice secretary.

The defense petition essentially avers that the RTC has no jurisdiction over De Lima, a public official; that the accusations against her should be investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman; and that the case is tried, if evidence merits it, in the Sandiganbayan, the antigraft court, not in a criminal court.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), in its 52-page resolution indicting De Lima, claims that the senator is being charged with the proliferation of drugs in NBP.

The resolution mentions testimony in congressional hearings by high-profile convicts about how the national penitentiary had been turned into a “Little Las Vegas” and how they had raised money operating a multibillion-peso drug trade inside and outside the national penitentiary to fund De Lima’s senatorial campaign.

Payoffs—ranging from P50,000 to P5 million—were allegedly coursed through De Lima’s driver and lover Ronnie Dayan and Bureau of Corrections officer in charge Rafael Ragos, her coaccused in the case for selling and trading in illegal drugs.

Also mentioned in the resolution is the testimony of Director Benjamin Magalong of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

PRISON RAID

The highly respected Magalong had called for a multiagency operation in NBP to stop the proliferation of drugs and the lavish lifestyle of convicts, only to see De Lima lead the raid, to the exclusion of other agencies, in December 2014 and transfer 19 top convicts to the National Bureau of Investigation detention center, except for inmate Jaybee Sebastian, who allegedly went on to consolidate his hold on the narcotics business.

The DOJ says criminal courts have primary jurisdiction over drug cases. In cases where there is concurrent jurisdiction with other tribunals, it points out that the Supreme Court in Liwag v. DOJ decided in February 2005 that the “agency that first takes cognizance of the complaint shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of others.”

For example, the DOJ says that a Pasay RTC had previously taken cognizance of the election sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, and acted swiftly within hours on voluminous documents submitted by the DOJ under De Lima to declare that there was probable cause to prosecute Arroyo.

Then suffering a severe neck problem, Arroyo was placed under hospital arrest for nearly five years, until the Supreme Court decided there was lack of evidence against her and ordered her release.

Defective complaint

The De Lima camp, in going to the Supreme Court, insists that the complaint against the senator “was defective and invalid.”

“If you scrutinize it, you will also see that there was no evidence against (De Lima),” said Phillip Sawali, De Lima’s chief of staff.

According to Sawali, the DOJ panel has no authority to conduct preliminary investigation of the cases since these are under the “exclusive and original jurisdiction” of the antigraft court Sandiganbayan.

Aside from its failure to summon the NBP inmates who had testified against De Lima in the House inquiry, the DOJ did not mention what kind of illegal drugs the senator allegedly sold in violation of the expressed provision of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Sawali said.

In its petition, De Lima’s defense team argued that the legal remedy she was seeking was “not just for the vindication of her rights as an individual and as an accused, but also to prevent an even more far-reaching offense against our nation from being committed.”

“By showing that even a senator … cannot save herself from the vindictiveness of a tyrant, that she cannot hope to voice her dissent … we are allowing a culture of impunity, corruption and depravity to once again descend upon our nation,” De Lima’s defense team said.

------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

De Lima seeks SQA to shelve arrest order; "Judge committed 'grace abuse of discretion'" -Leila's lawyer Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 28 February 2017 00:00 By Julius Leonen

Lawyers of Sen. Leila de Lima filed a petition yesterday for the Supreme Court (SC) to intervene in her case through a status quo ante order while seeking to defer the validity of the arrest warrant issued against her.

If SC grants the petition, de Lima can get temporary liberty until the SC has decided on de Lima’s plea disputing the legality of her arrest for drug trafficking charges.

The embattled senator was ordered arrested together with her ex-lover and former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero.

The arrest orders were issued after the trial court found probable cause in the criminal case filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) against de Lima, Dayan and Ragos in connection with their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Senator de Lima is currently detained at Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Dayan at the Muntinlupa City Police Station, and Ragos at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Headquarters.

The senator was indicted by the DoJ for alleged violation of Section 5 (sale), in relation to Section 3 (jj trading) and Section 26 (b), and Section 28 of the Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

In her 82-page petition, de Lima’s legal team insisted that Judge Guerrero had committed “grave abuse of discretion” amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when she issued the order and the arrest warrant.

The senator’s camp, in turn, sought an SQA order from the SC to restore the situation of the parties to the case prior to the Muntinlupa RTC Judge’s issuance of the arrest order against her.

Her camp added that Judge Guerrero “violated her constitutional, legal and procedural rights” when she issued the arrest warrant.

De Lima’s Liberal Party (LP) ally Sen. Franklin Drilon in a television interview said if de Lima’s lawyers succeed in obtaining a favorable SC action, “the RTC cannot proceed with the trial until the SC has decided on the case.”

Drilon added that the “arrest warrant cannot be implemented in the meantime until the SC has decided on the case” if an SQA is granted.

De Lima insists on haste

“Haste, when unduly applied in the context of the criminal justice system, such that it constitutes a blatant failure to respect and uphold a person’s fundamental rights, and to observe the guarantees enshrined in the Constitution to protect the rights of the accused, it results in something far more destructive, more pestilent and graver than mere imperfection,” de Lima said in her petition.

Lawyers Fhillip Sawali and Alex Padilla, Senator de Lima’s legal counsels, argued Judge Guerrero should have resolved first the issue of lack of jurisdiction before issuing an arrest warrant “because such act is itself an exercise of jurisdiction, which we precisely object.”

The senator’s counsels added that the issuance of an arrest warrant by a court which they claim has no jurisdiction over the case makes such warrant “obviously and patently null and without basis, thus making Senator de Lima’s detention on the basis thereof illegal.”

De Lima last February 20 filed a motion to quash on the charge sheets filed by the DoJ before the Muntinlupa RTC in an attempt to hold off the imminent issuance of arrest warrants.

The Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204, nonetheless, issued arrest warrants against de Lima, Dayan and Ragos last February 23.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has expressed confidence that the High Court will not void the arrest order.

“It’s up to the Supreme Court, but for me, it’s unlikely,” Aguirre told reporters yesterday.

Aguirre had explained that not only did the DoJ’s five-member panel construct a strong case against the senator, but also for the reason that the senator never filed any counter affidavit during the preliminary investigation at the DoJ.

Since de Lima had snubbed every hearing and every preliminary investigation into her alleged involvement in the NBP narcotics trade and the inquiry held at the House of Representatives and the DoJ, Aguirre said that an arrest warrant was imminent.

De Lima maintained that the Office of the Ombudsman, not the DoJ, should be handling the illegal drug cases.

Aguirre insisted that the DoJ has jurisdiction because the criminal cases were not cognizable by the Sandiganbayan.

He said offenses under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 “belong to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over these.”

“She only relied on her legal points that the Ombudsman has jurisdiction and not the Department of Justice. That was a huge blunder on her part and her lawyers,” Aguirre said.

De Lima noted that 12 of the so-called state-witnesses presented by the prosecution team have been convicted of heinous crimes, six of whom have pending criminal cases before the Muntinlupa RTC.

“The panel of prosecutors who should serve as bastions of the rule of law, completely ignored the glaring character of the testimonies against the accused as hearsay evidence that have no probative value,” she said.

Among the convicts who were used as state witnesses are Nonilo Arile, Jojo Baligad, Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Durano, Rodolfo Magleo, Noel Martinez, Jaime Patio, Jaybee Sebastian, Vicente Sy, Hans Anton Tan, Froilan Trestiza and Peter Co.

Leila better in detained than dead

De Lima is better off behind bars than dead, President Duterte said yesterday.

Speaking at length for the first time after de Lima’s arrest, Mr. Duterte also denied any conspiracy in having her arrested.

“I think people are interested not to see her dead but to see her in prison for what she did,” Mr. Duterte said.

De Lima is currently jailed at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center in Camp Crame.

Mr. Duterte also guaranteed de Lima secrity, saying she is well secured while in PNP custody, dispelling her fears of suffering the fate of the late former Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa who was killed at the hands of Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) units while in detention in a municipal jail.

“I am sure that she is 100 percent safe there,” he told reporters in an ambush interview at the Palace, warning his critics who are supportive of de Lima to make sure that they are not involved in the illegal drugs trade.

“Unless you are involved in drugs, you should be afraid. You’re a critic of what? Of the drug campaign and you are — yourself into drugs? Then you should be afraid,” Mr. Duterte stressed.

In his message to the detained senator, the President told her to do her best in knocking in heaven’s door for some divine intervention to change the evidence that tagged her involvement with detained drug syndicates inside the NBP in Muntinlupa City during her stint as justice secretary during the previous administration.

“De Lima? Well, she can always pray that the truth will come out eventually if there is another truth,” he said, adding further that he will be relentless in carrying out death sentences on drugs offenders.

“For me, I would have ordered the killing of criminals who deserve to die. How can we move in this country if everybody is high on drugs?” he added.

The President denied any conspiracy in the filing of cases against de Lima or other anti-administration critics including opposition attack dog Sen. Antonio Trillanes.

Aguirre over the weekend, called out to pro-Duterte demonstrators in a rally, asking them who should go next after De Lima. The crowd roared “Trillanes”.

“Truth to tell, honestly, I have not called Aguirre once. That is the truth. I do not interfere with their jobs,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that he does not give a damn about Trillanes and his “revelations”.

“Trillanes is too insignificant to bother with,” he quickly described the dishonorably discharged navy officer.

Bato visits Leila

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa was among the first to visit de Lima, hours after she was locked up inside the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame last Friday.

Noting the concerns of de Lima’s camp over her safety while detained, dela Rosa said he assured de Lima of her safety while inside the jail facility.

“I went there the first night…I asked for her permission…I just wanted to check on her situation, if she is safe…she welcomed me and I told her that she will be very well secured there,” dela Rosa said.

The chief PNP said that de Lima will have the same treatment as former Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, who are also detained at Camp Crame.

“Suffice to say that she is very safe inside the facility. Whatever the treatment of other high profile inmates like the two other senators will be similar to hers,” said dela Rosa.

“There is equal treatment for all of them,” he added.

THE IRONY

Ironically, de Lima was at the forefront in the filing of plunder charges against Revilla and Estrada as well as Juan Enrile, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court.
The chief PNP said that he even asked de Lima if the area assigned to her was okay since the wallds were newly-painted.

Dela Rosa refused to exactly say what area de Lima was detained but earlier reports said the PNP prepared two cells for her, the one that was used to be occupied by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the other occupied by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

The chief PNP reminded those who want to visit de Lima in Camp Crame to just make the necessary coordination to the Headquarters Support Service (HSS) to avoid inconveniences.

Meanwhile, dela Rosa admitted that it is part of his daily prayers for the President to finish his term –contrary to the wishes of Trillanes.

“That is part of my everyday prayer. Before I go to sleep, I really pray for President Duterte to finish his term because the entire Philippines is hoping for real change in our country,” said dela Rosa.

Last Sunday, Trillanes expressed hopes that Duterte will not complete his six-year term citing that more than 7,000 people have been killed in the government’s war against illegal drugs in seven months of his term.

“We cannot foretell the future. Good for him if he can guess the future,” said dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa is a known protégé of Duterte who served as Davao City police director when the latter was still mayor. Ted Tuvera, Mario J. Mallari


MANILA BULLETIN

LTFRB FREE RIDES TODAY: More jeepney strikes mulled 0 SHARES Share it! Published February 28, 2017, 12:10 AM by Anna Liza Villas-Alavaren


FREE RIDE – Commuters ride a truck of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), one of the many alternative rides provided by the government yesterday to help absorb the impact of yesterday’s nationwide jeepney strike. The strike was in protest of a government plan to phase out old jeepneys and the P7-million minimum capital requirement for jeepney operators. (Ali Vicoy | Manila Bulletin)

Transport groups are planning to hold regular strikes if they are not satisfied with the terms of the government’s jeepney modernization program.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Board Member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada revealed this yesterday, saying the government is not threatened by the planned strikes as suspension of operations is prohibited under the franchise granted on transport operators.

As stated in their franchise or Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC), Lizada said transport operators should know that they are prohibited from suspending operations as a sign of protest to any government policy or decision.

“They shall face cancellation or suspension of franchise,” said Lizada, who led the Joint Quick Response Team in monitoring the transport strike at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) headquarters yesterday.

READ MORE...

The nationwide jeepney strike yesterday appeared to have failed to paralyze the transport system for lack of support from operators and drivers.

Based on monitoring at the Metrobase Command Center, Lizada said the transport strike only had “very nil” effect in the metropolis.

“We have transported around 5,840 passengers, equivalent to 292 jeepney trips. Only half of the deployed vehicles to ferry commuters were used,” said Lizada.

Traffic flow was also smooth along Edsa, compared to the usual Monday morning traffic because some schools and universities suspended classes.

Jeepney drivers and operators in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Cotabato City; and Cavite did not join the nationwide protest against the plan to phase out passenger jeepneys that are at least 15 years old.

MODERNIZATION PROGRAM

As part of the modernization program, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is planning to impose a 15-year age limit on public utility jeepneys (PUJs), in an effort to regulate carbon emission.

Once the proposal is approved, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) expressed willingness to provide loan assistance to PUJ operators and drivers for the purchase of brand new PUJ units.

To do so, the DOTr would put up a guarantee fund to secure the loans of PUJ operators and drivers. The guarantee fund will come from Special Vehicle Pollution Control Funds (SVPCF), created under Republic Act No. 8794, “An Act Imposing a Motor Vehicle User’s Charge on Owners of All Types of Motor Vehicles and for Other Purposes.”

“If the proposal is meant for public safety, we simply have to abide by what our authorities have to say. It is for our own good,” said Elorde Gaspar Sr., a jeepney driver plying the Laoag-San Nicolas route.

While they opposed the looming phase out of jeepneys, George Mangansakan, president of Awang-Cotabato City Transport Operators and Drivers Association (ACCTODA), said his group agreed not to join the nationwide transport stoppage “because we do not want to inconvenience our commuters.”

“We sympathize with them, we are with them but for two reasons, our members agreed to go on with our daily routines for two main reasons,” Mangansakan said.

“One, our drivers need to earn, and second, we do not want to inconvenience the students and other passengers,” he added.

A few jeepney drivers held a simple protest, so simple that it only lasted five minutes. “We just paused to silently join our colleagues in their protest,” Absalom Sandig, a public utility jeepney driver in Cotabato City, said in an interview.

“This is voluntary, nobody forces us to join the strike no matter how short it was,” he added.

Sandig stressed they have “moral obligations” to bring students to schools and office workers to their work places. “We just did that this morning, so no suspension of classes here,” Sandig added.

COTABATO CITY

Another driver, Ismael Salem, 40, PUJ driver, said transport strike in Cotabato City will have no impact because the city is small.

He said there are passenger motorcycles, more popularly known as “habal-habal” that will take the streets. Habal-habal drivers collect higher fare to the disadvantage of our passengers.

“Besides, we need to earn so that we have food on our table at the end of the day,” Salem said.

But he stressed the jeepney drivers here are one with the struggle of their colleagues nationwide.

Senior Superintendent Arthur Velasco Bisnar, Cavite Police Provincial Office (PPO) director, said the jeepney strike in the province fizzled as most drivers and operators did not join the call for a nationwide protest.

“No one participated (referring to jeepney drivers), Bisnar told this reporter, as he cited that the transport business from lowland Bacoor District to upland Tagaytay City was normal from 8 to 4 p.m.

SORSOGON

In Sorsogon, passengers barely felt the transport strike initiated by transport group CONDOR-Piston nationwide as transportation went on normally.

Sorsogon Governor Robert Lee-Rodrigueza said transport services to and from this city, and from the various towns in the province were unaffected by the strike.

Rodrigueza, citing reports from various municipalities, said transport services – jeepneys, vans, buses, and even tricycles – was normal.

“It seems that no transport group in the province joined the move,” the governor said. But he added that they have standby vehicles which are ready for deployment should there be a need to do so.

The governor did not also see the need to cancel classes, leaving the matter to the discretion of mayors or principals.

METRO MANILA

But it Metro Manila, classes in some schools as well as work in local government units (LGUs) were suspended yesterday due to the strike.

As early as Sunday evening, schools and LGUs have already announced the suspension of classes and work in offices to avoid inconvenience to both students and office workers. Among the areas where classes were suspended, include schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) – from elementary to high school in public and private schools; Makati City, all levels in public schools; Navotas City, all levels; Parañaque City, all levels; Colegio de San Juan de Letran; De La Salle University (Taft, Makati, BGC), De La Salle College of St. Benilde, University of Sto. Tomas, Lyceum of the Philippines University, and University of the Philippines-Manila, all levels.

Classes in all levels were also suspended in other parts of Luzon, particularly Cainta, Rizal.

In Bicol University, classes were all also cancelled for all levels.

In Legazpi City and in Daraga, both in Albay, classes were suspended from elementary to high school for public and private schools. Classes were also suspended in Aquinas University of Legazpi, including office work; as well as in De La Salle University STC.

In the Visayas, classes were suspended in Bacolod City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, Cebu, Iloilo City, University of San Agustin-Iloilo, and West Visayas State University. (With reports from Mars Mosqueda, Leslie Ann G. Aquino, PNA, Anthony Giron, and Jel Santos)

------------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Transport holiday strands thousands in MM By Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 28, 2017 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Commuters wait for buses on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City after most jeepneys joined the nationwide transport strike yesterday. MICHAEL VARCAS

MANILA, Philippines - The second transport strike in a month left at least 7,000 commuters stranded in various parts of Metro Manila after drivers of passenger jeepneys yesterday protested the planned phaseout of old commuter vehicles.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) member Aileen Lizada said they assisted over 7,000 passengers as of 5:10 p.m. during the strike by members of the No Jeepney Phaseout Coalition, led by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston).

Lizada said they also received reports of harassment and threats of strikers to drivers who refused to join the mass action in several areas in Manila, Quezon City and Makati.

There were also reports of some people throwing metal spikes on the road in Guadalupe, Makati.

Despite the claims of success made by the transport groups, Lizada said the strike only affected less than one percent of the total five million daily commuters in Metro Manila.

Piston president George San Mateo earlier said they had paralyzed about 80 percent of passenger jeepneys in the National Capital Region.

However, Lizada said that the number of assisted passengers is only equivalent to 355 jeepney trips and there are 85,554 jeepneys in Metro Manila.

The LTFRB official again defended the government’s plan to modernize the transport system, including jeepneys, despite the criticisms from some groups.

“You don’t like modernization, what do you want? How many more deaths do you want to see on the road? How many more injuries do you want to see on the road for you to be convinced that the only way for us to go is to modernize,” Lizada said.

She added that they have just finished the third meeting with a technical working group to craft a package for jeepneys in the administration’s three-year modernization program.

The LTFRB is adamant that they will penalize jeepney operators and drivers who took part in the latest strike but those concerned could face suspension or revocation of their franchises.

The regulatory board has set a hearing for March 8 and 9 over the transport strike yesterday and another strike held last Feb 6.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Duterte’s peace adviser confirms, condemns German hostage’s beheading Published February 27, 2017 7:11pm Updated February 27, 2017 7:22pm By TRISHA MACAS, GMA News


Abu Sayyaf Group's beheaded German hostage Juergen Gustav Kantner. AFP still looking for his body

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday confirmed the beheading of the Abu Sayyaf Group's German hostage Juergen Gustav Kantner.

"We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim, German Juergen Gustav Kantner in Sulu," Dureza said in a statement.

"Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best. But to no avail," he added.

Kantner, 70, was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group in waters off Sabah in November 2016.

READ MORE...

"Terrorism has no place in a country like ours and we as a people must confront violent extremism every time it rears its ugly head," Dureza said.

"Another precious life had been needlessly lost. There must be a stop to this killing of the innocent and the helpless," he added.

"I was always in close contact with German authorities in our efforts. We condole with his family, friends and loved ones," Dureza said.

Meanwhile, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, Col. Edgardo Arevalo, condemned the execution "in the strongest possible terms."

"Our operations in the past several days and nights using all our resources were unrelenting," said Arevalo in a statement. "We lost some of our best men in the process, because we value the life of Mr. Kantner and that of the others who have fallen prey to this terrorist group."

He added that the Philippine military was determined to hunt down Kantner's killers and bring them to the bar of justice.

P30-million ransom

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, had previously demanded a ransom of 30 million pesos ($600,000) by Sunday to spare the 70-year-old.

Government envoy Jesus Dureza, who was negotiating for Kantner's life, told AFP he had heard of the video, adding that it confirmed earlier reports that Kantner had been killed.

However, he and military officials said Kantner's body had not yet been sighted.

Kantner was abducted from his yacht, the Rockall, in waters off the southern Philippines last year.

The vessel was found drifting on November 7, with the body of Kantner's female companion, Sabine Merz bearing a gunshot wound inside.

The couple had previously been kidnapped and held for 52 days in Somalia in 2008 before they were freed, reportedly after a huge ransom was paid, press reports said.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement in the Middle East, have been kidnapping foreigners and Christians for decades, holding them for ransom in the jungles of the strife-torn southern Philippines.

Aside from Kantner, they are now holding at least 19 foreigners and seven Filipinos hostages, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

The group, formed from seed money provided by a relative of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, also carried out the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2014 that claimed 116 lives in the country's deadliest terror attack. —with a report from Agence France-Presse/NB, GMA News

----------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE TORONTO SUN

Jurgen Kantner beheaded by Philippine militants, who release video of the German's horrifying murder THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  FIRST POSTED: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 06:46 AM EST | UPDATED: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 10:45 AM EST


In this undated image made from militant video and released by SITE Intel Group on Feb. 24, 2017, shows German hostage Jurgen Gustav Kantner at an undisclosed location. Abu Sayyaf extremists in the Philippines have released a video of the beheading of Kantner. The brief video circulated Monday, Feb. 27, by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites, is the first sign that the brutal militants proceeded with their threat to kill Kantner in the southern Philippines after a Sunday ransom deadline lapsed. (SITE Intel Group via AP)


MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Blood-thirsty extremists belonging to the Abu Sayyaf group shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as they murdered their German prisoner in a grisly video that surfaced Monday.

The brief video circulated Monday by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites, is the first sign that the brutal militants proceeded with their threat to kill Jurgen Gustav Kantner in the southern Philippines after a Sunday ransom deadline lapsed.

The video shows Kantner sitting in a grassy clearing and saying “Now he kill me” shortly before a masked militant beheads him with a curved knife. A few gunmen mutter “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said German experts were evaluating the video to determine whether it is authentic, but that if it is, it’s “deeply shocking.”

“It makes you question what can lead people to commit such a barbaric crime, but at the moment I’m not in a position to say whether the video’s authentic.”

The militants had demanded a ransom of 30 million pesos ($605,000), officials said.

The Philippine military said in November that the Abu Sayyaf claimed its gunmen had kidnapped Kantner and killed a woman sailing with him off neighbouring Malaysia’s Sabah state.

Villagers reported finding a dead woman lying beside a shotgun on board a light blue yacht with the German flag and marked “Rockall” off Laparan Island in Sulu, the military said. The predominantly Muslim province is where ransom-seeking militants have held many hostages in jungle encampments.

Kantner was also kidnapped by Somali pirates years ago.


MANILA BULLETIN

HB 4727: Death penalty to be imposed only on just one offense, illegal drugs  1117 SHARES Share it! Published February 27, 2017, 6:11 PM By Ben Rosario


HRW said use of the death penalty was on the rise across the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Iran consistently having some of the world’s highest execution rates (AFP / YAHOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

From 21 heinous crimes, the death penalty is proposed to be imposed only on just one offense – illegal drugs.

In a caucus on Monday afternoon, February 27, the House supermajority bloc headed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez reached a consensus to further water down House Bill 4727 from last week’s decision that reduced the proposed 21 offenses to just four — plunder, treason, rape, and drug-related crimes.

Alvarez has also reiterated previous pronouncements that former president and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and leaders of the Malacanang-backed supermajority will be stripped of their posts if they will vote against HB 4727 which seeks to restore the death penalty in the country.

READ MORE...

Majority bloc solons reached an agreement to scrap plunder, treason and rape from the list of death penalty crimes two days prior to the voting for the bill that will restore the death penalty in the country.

The Lower House is expected to vote on HB 4727 in tomorrow’s session as congressmen will devote this afternoons plenary event for individual and committee amendments to the measure.

“Today, we agreed that that the bill will be limited to drug-related crimes, there are only four, where death penalty will be imposed,” stated Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali as he emerged from the caucus.

Umali, chairman of the sponsoring House Committee on Justice, explained that the majority bloc, mostly members of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, have cited numerous reasons why they are against the imposition of the death penalty on certain crimes.

------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MALAYA

House further waters down death penalty bill, list of drug offenses By WENDELL VIGILIA February 28, 2017


PHOTO COURTESY OF ABS-CBN

ONLY drug-related offenses will be punishable by death now that congressmen have decided to further water down the controversial Palace-backed measure just to win more support.

The decision was reached in a caucus by members of the supermajority bloc who were preparing to put the measure to a vote today.

“It’s more on getting the consensus of the group. It became easier (for many to support the bill) when we limited it to just one crime,” said Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House committee on justice and a sponsor of House Bill No. 4727 on the floor.

Lawmakers also decided to remove plunder from the list once again after initially removing it and including it again in a caucus last week.

There are at least 240 former and incumbent lawmakers who are being investigated by the Ombudsman in connection with the “pork barrel” scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles. A number may qualify under plunder.

The two other offenses that were removed from the final list are treason and rape, which is a heinous crime.

Under the proposed measure, seven drug-related heinous crimes are punishable by death, excluding the act of carrying illegal drugs which was removed because of the incidents of evidence-planting by the police.

7 DRUG OFFENSES

The seven drug offenses are the following: importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; maintenance of a drug den, dive, or resort; manufacture of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals; cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs or are sources thereof; unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs; and criminal liability of a public officer or employee for misappropriation, misapplication, or failure to account for the confiscated, seized and/or surrendered dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment including the proceeds or properties obtained from the unlawful act committed.

There were originally 22 crimes punishable by death under the substitute bill approved by the justice committee but the list was trimmed in the previous weeks due to the opposition of many lawmakers and anti-capital punishment groups, especially the Catholic Church.

Umali said it would be easier to back up arguments with facts and figures on the floor now that the measure is only for drug-related heinous crimes.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez reminded colleagues of his earlier warning that leaders who will not toe the party line will be removed from their posts, including Deputy Speaker Arroyo.

“We have no choice. We have laid down the policy, we have to implement it,” he told a television interview.


GO TO > > HEADLINE NEWS PAGE ONE

GO TO > > NEXT HEADLINE NEWS (coming next week)

GO TO >> PRESIDENT DU30 NEWS THIS PAST WEEK

GO TO > > BUSINESS PAGE

GO TO > > PHNO TRAVEL/LFESTYLE/FOOD

GO TO >> SHOWBIZ CHATTER


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

 EMAIL:  PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE 
© Copyright, 2017 All rights reserved


BACK TO PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE