VP Robredo reiterates call to expedite Marawi rehab

Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the Duterte administration to expedite the rehabilitation efforts of war-struck Marawi City three years after local terrorists commenced a five-month siege there.

“Today we remember the Marawi we lost, even as we renew the call for a more urgent approach to the rehabilitation process, and recommit to the rebuilding of a more peaceful and prosperous city,” Robredo said.

She pointed out that thousands of Marawi City residents remain displaced, and the city’s buildings are still yet to be repaired even if the Marawi rehab project of the government is properly funded.

The vice president added that what took place in Marawi City is a reminder that violent extremism remains a big threat to the Philippines, and in order to prevent this, “frustrations must be met with compassion.” She emphasized that “liberation entails much more than silencing the gunfire.”

Meanwhile, residents of Marawi said that even after three years since the government declared the city free from terrorists, the feeling of being liberated still feels foreign for them.

“There is nothing to commemorate, only our pain and suffering that continue to this day,” Drieza Lininding, Moro Consensus Group chair said.

“We don’t feel liberated at all, because after three years, we are still [prevented from going] back to our homes and communities for no apparent reason as the search and retrieval of unexploded bombs and ordnance have already been completed,” he added.

Lininding urged his fellow Maranaos not to take part in the activities lined up to mark the occasion.

Amid Mental Health Awareness Month, QC police sue woman over suicide attempt

After battling an episode of suicide and depression, a 22-year-old woman who attempted to take her own life on Saturday (October 10) has to face charges as the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) sued her for alarm and scandal, grave threat, and reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property.

In a statement released October 15, the QCPD said that the woman tried to commit suicide by shooting herself at a firing range in West Avenue, Barangay Nayong Kanluran, Quezon City. It added that “the range officer was shocked when he saw [the woman] bloodied while holding the rented handgun.”

The QCPD said that the woman is still at a hospital recovering from the incident.

Following this, negative reactions from Filipino netizens surface on social media. Some are criticizing why the QCPD filed charges against a woman who’s obviously mentally unstable.

“I wonder, do PNP schools have psychology subjects and actually study how humans behave and why? Or they were just taught to hold a gun and pull the trigger?” one Twitter user asked.

“This is disgusting. The PNP is an absolute disgrace. Instead of helping out someone with psychological distress, they want to cause further distress by pressing charges? The police are supposed to protect the people but clearly people need protection from them,” another Twitter user said.

Duterte happy as gov’t agencies follow his order to destroy seized drugs

President Rodrigo Duterte said that he’s happy that government agencies have started to carry out his order to destroy seized illegal drugs in order to avoid the possibility of recycling.

During a meeting in the Palace which was pre-recorded and aired last night (October 14), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that concerned government agencies had already destroyed P8.6 billion worth of crystal meth or commonly known as shabu. Another batch of 1,000 kilograms of the illegal substance is set to be eradicated today.

Duterte also ordered to distribute the process of destroying confiscated illegal drugs and to involve the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). The president instructed that within about 24 hours from the operations of law enforcement agents, the seized drugs should be destroyed.

PNP orders investigation on police captain’s alleged maltreatment of female Grab driver

After being condemned by Filipino netizens over alleged abuse of authority, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered an investigation into the reported assault on a female Grab driver by a police captain in Taguig City.

The Pateros police was already instructed to launch an impartial investigation on the incident involving one of its men named Police Captain Ronald Saquilayan, PNP Spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu said.

The incident went viral after Grab driver and victim Floreanne Rivera Norial recounted on a Facebook post the alleged harassment of Saquilayan.

As told by Norial, she was about to pick up a passenger at a popular coffee shop in Taguig City but a pickup truck was blocking the driveway.

Norial said that the vehicle, which the driver turned out to be Saquilayan, won’t move even if Norial had flashed the headlight and honked several times. She also went out of her car to knock on the windshield of the vehicle, but it still didn’t move, so she asked for the assistance of a security guard to ask the Saquilayan to leave the driveway.

Saquilayan then ‘suddenly and forcefully’ opened the car door, resulting in Norial being hit and thrown on the driveway. Norial allegedly slapped Saquilayan after what happened, which led Saquilayan to arrest Norial for assaulting a police officer. Norial was then taken to a police station where she was detained and slapped with charges.

In response, NCRPO Chief Major General Debold Sinas came to the defense of Saquilayan, adding that it was Norial who “threatened” and “bullied” the policeman.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is also launching an investigation over the incident saying that it is “deeply concerned” about how Norial was arrested and Saquilayan’s alleged assault on the woman.

Cops to run after videoke, noisy tambays as classes start in public schools

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield has ordered all police commanders to increase police visibility in public areas where people hangout that produce unnecessary disturbances like videoke so that online learners would not be distracted as classes in public schools commence.

JTF COVID Shield Commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar said that the police should go after those who are doing videoke and drinking sessions amid the quarantine.

Eleazar explained that this is how the police are ensuring that students can have a conducive learning environment by minimizing noise from quarantine violators.

“The police presence on the streets and in the community is also in time for the start of the classes for public schools nationwide,” he added.

Mispriority amid pandemic? PNP unveils P154M parking lot inside Camp Crame

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has opened the multi-level carpark building inside Camp Crame in Quezon City which costs P154 million, built to address the parking problems of PNP personnel and civilians acquiring documents and clearances from the said agency.

PNP Spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu said that the new multi-level car park located near the Santolan-Annapolis station of the Metro Rail Transit at the east part of Camp Crame can house up to 462 vehicles.

Yu added that the money used for the construction of the multi-level car park was sourced through the PNP Trust Receipts Fund.

A minimal fee for those who will use the car park will be required to partly cover the maintenance cost.

Another five-storey multi-purpose carpark project spearheaded by the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH) is also set to be constructed inside Camp Crame.

China-backed DITO in military camps ‘a clear and present danger’ — advocacy group

Community organization Bantay Konsumer, Bantay Kalsada, Bantay Kuryente (BK3) echoed the calls made by various concerned groups and government officials, saying that giving China-backed DITO Telecommunity the permission to build cell towers in military camps poses serious threats to the Philippines.

The group cited that Beijing’s continued aggression and illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is an enough reason “to be suspicious of China’s interest in the Philippines,” adding that consumers are the most at risk.

“As consumers, accessing online telecommunications services have become indispensable in our everyday lives. Prioritizing our digital infrastructure to meet the exponential rise in demand for cloud services is critical for economic recovery and works well with the new reality of social distancing. The facts are clear, alarming, and concerns every Filipino citizen,” BK3 said in a Facebook post.

It also highlighted an existing rule among Chinese state-run firms like China Telecom, which is the part owner of DITO together with Dennis Uy, that obliges companies to be cooperative with the State Intelligence Services of China to submit information if asked by Chinese intelligence agencies.

The looming effects of this are not only the threats related to sensitive information of the country, but also the possible economic damage that may happen in case of a sudden telecommunications disruption in the Philippines, the group stressed.

“We therefore call on our government and legislators to stop this policy blunder. We call on all Filipinos to become aware and express your indignation against this policy blunder that can result in disastrous consequences to our whole country,” it added.

Reveal groups, budget spent on social media ‘weaponization,’ Karapatan tells AFP, PNP

Human rights group Karapatan urged the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to disclose to the public the advocacy groups and accounts they are supporting and handling.

This comes after social media giant Facebook recently revealed that among the accounts removed from the platform due to coordinated inauthentic behavior and malicious activities online were operated by the police and the military.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that the involvement of state forces in the said matter is “clearly a coordinated machinery of mass deception to vilify, discredit, and incite state violence against government critics, activists, and human rights defenders.”

Palabay emphasized that the public has the right to know about these so-called advocacy groups supported by the PNP, AFP, and the NTF-ELCAC because it’s the people’s taxes “being spent on and pocketed” by those behind the pages which “spout lies against activists and human rights defenders especially in the middle of this public health crisis.”

Among the accounts shut down by Facebook was that of Philippine Army Captain Alexandre Cabales who’s in charge of the Army’s social media center and was revealed to be the page administrator of the Hands Off Our Children page which was also removed from the platform.

AFP and PNP have earlier denied their connection to the removed Facebook pages. President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, threatened to ban the use of Facebook in the Philippines after accusing the firm of meddling with the issues of the country.

Babala: Mag-ingat sa identity theft

Kahit may pandemya ay marami pa rin talagang gagawa at gagawa ng paraan para makapangloko at makapanglamang sa kapwa. Kamakailan lamang ay mag nagkuwento sa amin tungkol sa karanasan niya bilang biktima ng identity theft.

Kuwento ng biktima na si Atty. Francis Brillantes, sinamantala ng suspek na pinangalanan niyang si Jesselito Alegre na wala siyang sariling Facebook account. Ayon kay Brillantes, gumawa si Alegre ng Facebook account gamit ang kanyang pangalan at nagpanggap na isang abogado. Matapos nito’y nagsimula nang mang-solicit at mang-extort si Alegre sa mga free legal advice groups sa Facebook.

Nalaman lang ni Attorney ang mga ilegal na gawain ni Alegre nang may nakapagkwento sa kanya ng mga nangyari na nabiktima rin ng kanyang impostor. Kwento niya, nahuli na ng mga awtoridad si Alegre noong July 20 at nakumpiska na rin ang mga fake IDs na may pangalan ni Attorney gaya ng replika ng ID ng Integrated Bar of the Philippines at ng Professional Regulation Commission. Ngunit pinalaya rin si Alegre makalipas ang kulang-kulang na 30 oras.

Matapos makaalis ng kulungan ay bumalik si Alegre sa dating gawi, at nambiktima ulit ng ibang tao. Ayon kay Atty. Brillantes, nais nilang magbigay babala sa publiko kung sakaling maka-transaksyon man nila si Alegre.

Sa kasalukuyan ay patuloy na nagfafile ng reklamo at kaso laban kay Alegre ang kampo nila Atty. Brillantes kasama ang iba pang nabiktima.

Sana ay maging paalala ang karanasan na ito ni Atty. Brillantes na ang identity theft ay isang uri ng ilegal na gawain na totoong nangyayari at maging paalala rin sa publiko na maging vigilant at maging alerto laban sa mga mangloloko.

Duterte admin wants Facebook to change its user policies

After hundreds of fake accounts supporting the Duterte administration were removed by Facebook due to malicious activities and coordinated inauthentic behavior, the government is now calling for the social media giant to change its policies for regulation and to “level the playing field.”

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the Philippines is “not alone” in calling for reforms in Facebook, adding that it should be fitting for the firm to implement new rules as the way it’s being utilized is constantly changing.

He added that the president’s statement during the recent nation address in which he threatened Facebook to be banned from the Philippines and where he also sought to have a dialogue with Facebook is just a showcase of Duterte’s belief in freedom of speech. Roque said that the government does not tolerate “censorship.”

However, the Duterte administration has also been marred with issues about oppression of freedom of speech due to incidents where private individuals who posted dissent on Facebook were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation over cybercrime grounds.

The Palace official noted that “in freedom of speech jurisprudence, content-based restriction is presumed to be unconstitutional.” He also encouraged the owners of the accounts and pages removed by Facebook, which were traced to be operated from the Fujian province of China, to raise the matter to the court.

Facebook is yet to react to the statements of the Duterte government. But in its report, the social media firm noted that they “focus on behavior rather than content, no matter who’s behind them, what they post, or whether they’re foreign or domestic.”

“In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing, and that was the basis for our action,” it said.