PNP relieves Ermita police station commander as visitors flock to ‘white sand beach’

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan has relieved Ermita Police Station Commander PLtCol. Ariel Caramoan for his failure to control the crowd that flocked to see the “white sand” beach at the baywalk along Manila Bay.

In a statement on Sunday, Joint Task Force COVID Shield said it was thankful to Cascolan for making the move, saying that Caramoan should have planned and implemented “strict security and health safety measures” in the area.

The task force added that there should have been planning and regular monitoring of the area prior to the opening, so quarantine violations could have been prevented.

It also said Caramoan failed to comply with the order “to monitor and immediately take action on violations of the quarantine protocols that are going viral on social media.”

JTF COVID Shield Commander PLtGen. Guillermo Eleazar said they received word that large crowds were in the area at around 6:00 AM, prompting the Manila Police District director and other personnel to respond.

“Ibig sabihin ay dapat palang ma-prevent yan, dapat naisip na niya yan. At hindi ‘yung magre-react tayo kapag nangyari na itong sitwasyon na ito,” Eleazar said, adding that what happened to Caramoan should serve as a lesson to others.

Caramoan will be replaced by PLtCol. Alex Daniel as officer-in-charge.

China ‘ready for war’ after US carried out huge military exercises in Indo-Pacific

China said that it is “militarily and morally ready for war” after the United States sent a fleet of 11,000 soldiers to the Indo-Pacific region to perform a massive military operation.

The US Army recently began a 10-day operation in Guam dubbed as the Exercise Valiant Shield involving land, sea, and air drills. The activity aims to train American soldiers to defend the Pacific island, alongside the US’s largest warships and 100 planes.

The Exercise came almost at the same time when China-backed publication The Global Times urged citizens to prepare for war, adding that the Beijing government has “territorial disputes with several neighboring countries instigated by the US to confront China.”

The US has been increasing its military exercises in the Indo-Pacific region, an area where China is continually claiming territories for reef reclamation and militarization, including the West Philippine Sea, which was declared by an arbitral ruling by The Hague as part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

China’s activities in the disputed waters of the Indo-Pacific region has brought not just the United States but other countries like Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom airing their disagreement with what Beijing has been doing, urging China to comply with international laws.

Gov’t to yield P17.5 billion from POGOs under Bayanihan 2

The government targets to earn an additional P17.5 billion in revenues from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) as the newly enacted Bayanihan to Recover as One or Bayanihan 2 Act comes with a provision that mandates increased tax collection from the said industry.

The Bayanihan 2 empowers the government to collect a 5% franchise tax on whichever is higher from the total bets received by POGOs or the predetermined minimum monthly operating revenues.

Senator Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that revenues from POGOs “will be used to fund the various types of assistance laid out in the Bayanihan 2 for all sectors affected by the pandemic.”

Drilon added that POGOs will not also be allowed to under-declare or report their income inaccurately as the franchise tax will be computed based on the peso equivalent of the foreign currency used in transactions.

POGO companies who will not comply with the new tax measure will be liable for tax fraud and violation of the National Internal Revenue Code. The Bayanihan 2 also gives the Bureau of Internal Revenue the authority to shut down POGOs that do not pay the right taxes.

Lacson on Mancao’s DICT appointment: ‘The President can appoint an angel, a devil’

The appointment of former police Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II as the new head of the Department of Information and Communication Technology’s (DICT) cybercrime center is a proof that President Rodrigo Duterte can appoint an ‘angel’ or a ‘devil’ if he wants to, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Lacson’s statement came after he was asked to comment on Duterte’s appointment of Mancao, who previously testified against the senator in his alleged involvement in the abduction and murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in 2000.

Mancao then withdrew his testimony against Lacson and apologized for accusing the senator and former President Joseph Estrada in the double murder case. Mancao himself was considered a suspect of the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

The former police official was a member of the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) during the Estrada administration.

His new role in the DICT will require him to be in charge of the formulation of the national cybersecurity plan, the establishment of the National Computer Emergency Response Team, and the facilitation of international coordination on cybersecurity matters.

Mahigit 90,000 housing units para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda, hindi pa rin tapos

Apat na taon mula nang maluklok sa kanyang puwesto si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, nananatiling nakatengga at hindi pa rin tapos maitayo ang 90,363 na pabahay para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda na nanalasa noong 2013.

Noong 2016 elections, isa sa mga ipinukol na isyu ng kampo ni Duterte sa Liberal Party, ang partidong kinabibilangan ng kanyang katunggaling si Mar Roxas at ng dating Pangulong Benigno Aquino III, ay ang mabagal na pag-usad ng nasabing housing project.

Ang nabanggit na bilang na 90,363 ay ang eksaktong backlog na naitala nitong Hunyo 30, 2020 mula sa pinakabagong datos ng Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) at National Housing Authority (NHA) na ipinakita nila sa budget hearing nitong Setyembre 10.

Dapat ay nasa 220,680 na housing units na ang naipatayo sa kabuuan, ngunit nasa 130,317 o 59% lamang ang natapos.

Marami ring pabahay para sa mga naapektuhan ng bagyong Pablo at Zamboanga siege ang hindi pa rin tapos hanggang sa kasalukuyan. Nasa 703 na housing units pa ang kulang para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Pablo noong 2012, habang kulang pa ng 417 na bahay ang housing project para sa mga nawalan ng tirahan dahil sa gulo sa Zamboanga noong 2013.

Parehong sa Mindanao nanalasa ang bagyong Pablo at naganap ang Zamboanga siege, ang rehiyon kung saan nanggaling si Duterte at nangakong hindi niya pababayaan habang siya ay nasa puwesto. Nangako rin ang pangulo na magkakaroon ng mabilis na rehabilitation efforts para sa Tacloban kung saan tumama ang bagyong Yolanda.

Duterte’s pardon on Pemberton sign of improving US-PH relations

President Rodrigo Duterte’s granting of full pardon to US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton is among the signs of the improving relationship between the Philippines and the United States, according to an international studies professor.

De La Salle University International Studies Professor Renato De Castro said that granting the pardon is a way of “clearing the air” between the US and the Philippines after Duterte pushed for an “independent” foreign policy due to the strengthening ties with China and Russia.

De Castro also mentioned the case when Duterte warned to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after the US cancelled the visa of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, a known friend and ally of the president.

The DLSU professor noted that other signs of the improving ties between Manila and Washington include the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.’s call for the use of Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in case ships of the Philippine Navy will be harassed by Chinese forces in the West Philippine Sea.

The MDT is an agreement between the US and the Philippines signed in 1951 that dictates that both countries would support each other if either of them is attacked by a foreign force.


Laude family received P4.6M in damages from Pemberton

After withdrawing his appeal of conviction in the Supreme Court, former US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton paid a sum of P4,655,250 in civil damages to the family of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

Lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores, Pemberton’s counsel, handed a check to Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in Olongapo City.

Pemberton was also fined P30,000 for exemplary damages and P50,000 each for civil indemnity and moral damages.

Pemberton can now walk free — Roque

President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent granting of full pardon on former US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton earned many reactions from different personalities on social media, including Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque who had a special connection to the case.

Roque was once part of Laude family’s defense and a former human rights lawyer before joining the current administration’s cabinet members.

He said that the absolute pardon means Laude’s killer can now walk free.

In his earlier social media post, Roque said on Twitter, “As former Private Prosecutor for the Laude family, I deplore the short period of imprisonment meted on Pemberton who killed a Filipino under the most gruesome manner. Laude’s death personifies the death of Philippine sovereignty.”

Recto urges gov’t to blacklist foreign companies involved in illegal island-building in West Philippine Sea

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed a resolution seeking to blacklist foreign firms affiliated with activities in the West Philippine Sea that violate Philippine sovereignty, including China’s island-building and reclamation of reefs.

The Senate Resolution No. 507 “expresses the sense of the Senate to prohibit from receiving awards for government contracts or conducting businesses in the Philippines foreign entities that have engaged in or abetted activities that infringe the sovereignty of the country over the West Philippine Sea and other areas within its territorial jurisdiction.”

Recto also emphasized that the Duterte administration hasn’t imposed sanctions against any Chinese entity over its illegal activities and “aggressive reclamation” of territories in the West Philippine Sea that’s within the exclusive economic zone of the country.

He cited a study by the University of the Philippines Maritime Science Institute which related that according to “conservative estimates,” the ecological damage in Spratly Island, one of the territories China has been claiming, is costing the Philippines PHP 33.1 billion annually.

The senator said that while such projects play a role in liberalizing the Philippine economy, foreign companies doing business in the country should respect Philippine laws, especially concerning “national territory and patrimony.”

The senate resolution joins other calls from government officials for the Duterte administration to drop the contract with Chinese firm China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) in the Sangley Point International Airport in Cavite City following its issue on corruption and its involvement in China’s reclamation, construction, and militarization activities in WPS.

The CCCC is among the Chinese companies the United States had blacklisted. President Rodrigo Duterte, on the other hand, refused to follow suit, saying that the Philippines acts independently of the US.

Senators slam Duterte’s full pardon on Pemberton

President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent granting of full pardon on former US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton ignited objections from different sectors, from the general public to showbiz personalities.

Politicians, too, have their own say on the matter, starting off with none other than Duterte himself. “You have not treated Pemberton fairly. So, i-release ko. Pardon. Eh ang pardon, walang mga question ‘yan (there are no questions there),” the president said in his public address.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, slammed the move, boldly saying that it was “an unbelievable affront” not only to the LGBTQI+ community but also to the Filipino people.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also criticized Duterte’s move, saying: “This questionable and highly controversial pardon helps to redirect and divert the public’s attention away from the incompetent, corrupt and failing [COVID-19] campaign.”