Posts Tagged ‘President Rodrigo Duterte’

Philippine Government Prepared To Make Arrests For “Cyber Sedition” — Urging Help from Facebook

June 13, 2017
A leader of a 20-member band of Maute terrorists holding out in an abandoned building in Bangolo in Marawi City.

MANILA, Philippines —

The government would arrest some individuals for posting seditious materials online in relation to the Marawi crisis, a Cabinet official said on Tuesday.“May huhulihin na (People will be arrested). Cyber sedition … We’re not going to name the persons. We are able to track about more than one last night,” Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

“Remember, rebellion, sedition are crimes under the old penal code. You do sedition, you incite people via cyber or via Internet, there is cyber rebellion. There is cyber sedition. But for rebellion, there must be a taking up of arms. So if it’s online, it could amount to cyber sedition,” he added.

The information and communications technology chief made the remarks after he was asked about his agency’s involvement with regard to the military’s request to take down social network accounts spreading propaganda of extremist group Islamic State.

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Salalima declined to say whether the persons to be arrested are Maute group members or sympathizers.

Earlier, the military appealed to Facebook Philippines to take down the 63 social network accounts of Maute militants and their supporters.

Officials said the social network accounts disseminate extremist ideology and propaganda materials calling for violence against non-Muslims, whom the IS calls “infidels.” Among the propaganda materials being peddled by the terrorists is the video of Maute militants destroying Catholic statues and burning the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi.

Security officials have urged the public not to share the propaganda materials.

Government troops have been clashing with Maute terrorists in Marawi City since May 23, the same day President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/13/1709636/government-arrest-people-cyber-sedition-says-dict

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Gov’t to arrest people inciting rebellion through Internet

Published June 13, 2017, 3:46 PM

By Genalyn D. Kabiling — Manila Bulletin

The government is ready to arrest people allegedly inciting rebellion through the Internet in connection to the Islamic State-linked attack in Marawi City.

The suspects had been tracked down by the government and will soon be apprehended for “cyber sedition,” according to Secretary Rodolfo Salalima of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Sec. Rodolfo A. Salalima  (Manny Llanes / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“May huhulihin na – cyber sedition. We are not going to name the persons. We were able to track down more than one last (Monday) night” Salalima said in a Palace press briefing.

Salalima admitted that the DICT is “involved” in government efforts to run after groups using the Internet to spread terrorist propaganda and incite rebellion but kept a tight lid on “confidential” information.

“To the extent they commit cyber crimes, the DICT takes over,” he said.

“You do sedition, you incite people via cyber or via Internet, I call that cyber rebellion, there is cyber sedition. But in rebellion, there must be a taking up of arms so pag sa online, it would amount to cyber sedition,” he added.

The Armed Forces earlier asked Facebook Philippines to close down 63 accounts allegedly being used by Maute group and its sympathizers to spread terrorist propaganda amid the battle in Marawi City. These groups supposedly spread misinformation to undermine government operations in the fight against local terrorists.

The government has promised to bring the Marawi conflict to a swift conclusion following the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao. To date, 202 militants, 58 government troops, and 26 civilians had been killed in the fighting.

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http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/06/13/govt-to-arrest-people-inciting-rebellion-through-internet/

Philippines: Independence Day marred by continued fighting with Islamic militants; President Duterte skips ceremonies

June 12, 2017

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to reports, wants to declare Marawi a liberated city today, to coincide with the country’s 119th Independence Day anniversary.

Before celebrating, the nation must pay tribute to those who have paid with their lives, and those who continue to risk life and limb to liberate Marawi from the Islamic State-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists, and to keep the threat from spreading to other parts of the country.

Although seemingly outnumbered and outgunned by the AFP, the terrorists appear to be enjoying the support of moneyed individuals and certain sectors. Over the weekend the terrorists managed to kill 13 Marines during 16 hours of fierce firefights, in an area in Marawi where the AFP believes Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon, said to be the IS leader in the Philippines, is holed out.

Security officers are verifying reports that Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah, founding chieftains of the group, were among those killed over the weekend as government forces closed in on the core group that is trying to carve out an IS enclave in Mindanao.

Much progress has been made since the AFP launched its offensive in Marawi, supported by commandos of the Philippine National Police. While the deaths of the Mautes are still being validated, the government definitely has in its custody the brothers’ parents, both of whom are believed to have played a critical role in providing financing, weapons and logistics to the terrorist group. Matriarch Ominta “Farhana” Romato in particular should be investigated for the source of her substantial assets, which should be frozen and seized if these were illegally amassed.

Honoring those who have given up their lives in liberating Marawi should include determined efforts to ensure that the Mautes can no longer recover and threaten any part of the country again. That certainty would provide a great cause for celebrating Independence Day.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/06/12/1709121/editorial-liberating-marawi

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Duterte skips Independence Day rites

Vice President Leni Robredo led the flag raising and the wreath laying ceremony with the absence of President Rodrigo Duterte who skipped the Independence Day rites as he was not feeling well. Alexis Romero
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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the Independence Day rites at Rizal Park on Monday because he was not feeling well, officials said.
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Minutes before the start of the flag-raising ceremony, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters that Duterte would not be able to attend the event.
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“He (Duterte) won’t be able to attend the event this morning… He did not give any reason why,” he said in Filipino.
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“Meron siyang hinaharap na ilang bagay upang maayos talaga ang ating hinaharap na challenge (He is dealing some matters to address the challenges we are facing).”
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Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, who represented Duterte during the event, said the president was not feeling well, noting that the President had engagements in Cagayan de Oro and Pasay last Sunday.
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“You know the President has been working 24/7, meeting the troops, meeting the commanders, and then late last night, visiting the wounded and the dead. So that’s why this morning, he didn’t feel that well.
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Nothing to worry about but it’s better for him to rest for now this morning because as you know the target was to liberate Marawi today, June 12,” Cayetano said in a separate interview.
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“He’s resting. Hindi siya nag-pilit na magising kasi napakahirap na dalawa, tatlong oras lang tulog mo (He did not force himself wake up early. It’s hard to do so if you only slept for two to three hours),” he added.
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Vice President Leni Robredo led the flag raising and the wreath laying ceremony in lieu of Duterte.
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Cayetano said he was informed about the president’s decision to skip the event round 5:30 a.m. He said the president is expected to stay in Metro Manila for the rest of the day.
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Duterte visited wounded soldiers in Cagayan de Oro City at 4:30 p.m. Sunday before proceeding to Villamor Airbase to honor the Marines who died in Marawi City. The president left the airbase at around 9 p.m.
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Last week, the president canceled the traditional vin d’honneur to attend to matters related to the Marawi crisis.
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The vin d’honneur is a reception hosted by the president in Malacañang on New Year’s Day and Independence Day and attended by members of the diplomatic community.
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Global Peace Index: Philippines Next to Last — Only North Korea “Less Peaceful” — Duterte Government Says “Political slant somewhere”

June 9, 2017
Police round up residents during a police “One Time Big Time” operation in the continuing “War on Drugs” campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte at slum community of Tondo in Manila, Philippines, late Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. Duterte has compared his anti-drug campaign it to Hitler and the Holocaust, saying he would be “happy to slaughter” 3 million addicts. He has since apologized to a Jewish community in the Philippines for the remark. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang casted doubt on independent international survey Global Peace Index (GPI) where the Philippines was on the penultimate spot just above North Korea in the Asia-Pacific region.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that there may be a “political slant somewhere” after the report credited the downfall of the country to the bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

The findings on the Philippines ran counter to apparent aims of the Duterte administration whose political victory last year was on the back of a peace and order platform.

Citing local nationwide surveys, Abella said most Filipinos are satisfied with government performance, which for him suggests that the peace index is not as accurate.

READ: Philippines among ‘least peaceful’ in Global Peace Index

“We are really not that sure where the GPI analyst, who apparently, supposedly a local, is coming from,” the spokesperson said at a televised press briefing on Friday.

The study, however, was conducted by global think tank Institute for Economics and Peace based in Sydney is based on 23 indicators of the violence or fear of violence chosen by a panel of international experts and assisted by other research groups. The level of the Global Peace index’s robustness is similar to the Human Development Index conducted by the United Nations to measure living conditions across the globe.

Without further explaining how the index was built, the Palace official said there a political motive behind it.

“Maybe there is a political slant somewhere, but based on results, based on survey, the Filipino satisfaction is quite high,” Abella said.

The Philippines was ranked at 18 in the region with an overall score of 2.555, while the militant hermit state North Korea recorded 2.967.

“The Philippines’ overall score has deteriorated since new President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016. A bloody war against drugs and crime has been extended nationwide, and is reflected in a deterioration of the country’s Societal Safety and Security indicators,” the report read.

“The extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals, drug mules and users has significantly increased security risks, even for ordinary citizens who could potentially get caught in the crossfire,” it added.

Among the 163 nations, Iceland is the most peaceful followed by New Zealand and Portugal, while the Philippines is at 138th place.

The Global Peace Index is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. The report presented the most comprehensive data-driven analysis to-date on trends in peace, its economic value, and how to develop peaceful societies.
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Philippines President Duterte: Fighting in Mawari with ISIS Inspired Group Will Be Over in About Three More Days

June 4, 2017
Government troops head to the frontline as fighting between government forces and Muslim militants who lay siege in Marawi city entered its second week on May 30, 2017. AP/Bullit Marquez, file
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MANILA, Philippines — The clashes in Marawi City would be over in “about three more days,” President Rodrigo Duterte said, as he admitted that ensuring the safety of civilians while running after the terrorists poses a challenge to security forces.

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Duterte said the government could have ended the clashes in 24 hours if it did not follow the “rules and values of civilization.”
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“This will be over in about three more days. At a gross…disparity. Many rebels have died. But the government did not fail to do what it was supposed to do,” the president told reporters in Cagayan de Oro on Saturday.
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“I could have bombed everything there. I have 10 jets. All I have to do is to bomb the whole place and level it to the ground. But since we are in a civilized society and we are a member of the United Nations and of the Geneva Convention Protocol, I am having difficulties and we had to do it to the least maximum damage of collaterals especially civilians,” he added.
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The Geneva Convention is a set of rules of war that are meant to protect non-combatants and those who are no longer capable of fighting, like wounded soldiers.
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Security officials originally sought to end the clashes with the Maute terrorists Friday last week. The military previously said the bandits were using civilians as human shields, making it difficult for ground forces to launch offensives.
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Fighting erupted after Maute group members, who are said to have links with the extremist Islamic State, attacked parts of Marawi City, burned several buildings and seized a number of civilians.
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The atrocities prompted Duterte to place the entire island of Mindanao under martial law.

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Duterte to take responsibility for military actions

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Duterte reiterated that he was ready to assume full responsibility for the actions of the military including the airstrikes against the Maute militants.
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“Those bombings were under my orders and I will account for it,” he said.
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Although the Philippine Air Force has FA-50 fighter trainers, these were only unleashed 10 days into the fighting. Airstrikes had been launched using OV-10 Broncos, SF260 trainers and helicopters before then.
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“The enemies have no compassion. They shoot here, they shoot there. They do not care if they kill civilians, soldiers or policemen. But we have to you know, align our shots against the enemy. We cannot just press the trigger of a machinegun and just say, ‘to whom it may concern, sorry.’”
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Duterte said he was saddened by the airstrike accident that left 10 soldiers dead and seven others hurt but admitted that such incidents happen during a conflict.
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“It is a very sad commentary. But this thing will happen again and again and again,” the president said.
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“The Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.”
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Duterte said he is leaving it to the military to probe the incident.
“I hope that this will not be repeated. But there is no guarantee. Any war, everything is stretched and it can break any moment,” he said.
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Philippines’ Duterte Says Islamic State Not Behind Casino Attack

June 3, 2017

MANILA — Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday that Islamic State militants were not behind the deadly attack at a casino in the capital Manila on Friday.

“That is not the work of ISIS,” Duterte told reporters, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for the attack that killed at least 36 people, after Philippines officials said there was no evidence of militant involvement.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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ISIS claims attack that left 37 dead in Manila casino

Story highlights

  • ISIS claims attack was carried out by its “fighters”
  • Gunman committed suicide in hotel room by setting himself on fire

(CNN)Thirty-seven people have been killed in a Manila casino, following an attack in the early hours of Friday morning by a lone gunman who fired shots from an assault rifle and set fire to gambling tables.

The victims, who did not appear to have been shot, are thought to have died of suffocation, Southern Police District Director Superintendent Tomas Apolinario said Friday. “Most of the victims were women who were found dead inside the bathroom,” he added.
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Despite ongoing ISIS-affiliated militant activity in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, authorities ruled out terrorism as the motive for the attack. However, late Friday, ISIS claimed responsibility in a statement from its Amaq media wing, which said “Islamic State fighters” carried out the attack.
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Earlier, authorities said 35 bodies were found in the casino area in Resorts World Manila after a lone gunman fired shots and set fire to gambling tables in the early hours of Friday morning.
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Police told CNN Philippines that another two bodies were found in the hotel, although it was not mentioned whether these were hotel guests or employees.
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Philippines police released images of the heavily armed suspect.

Thick smoke from fires set by the suspect delayed a search of the building, but officers later discovered them during clearing operations, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde said.
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All of the bodies were found in Resort World Manila’s casino area, he said. Of those killed, more than 20 were resort guests and 13 were staff. More than 70 people were injured. The gunman later killed himself.
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Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters that police think it’s likely the suspect was a foreigner. “He looks Caucasian, he talks English, he’s big and he’s white, so he’s probably a foreigner,” he said.
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Top Philippine Lawmaker Labels Casino Attack a ‘Terrorist’ Act — Will Martial Law Be Expanded?

June 3, 2017

MANILA — A gunman who stormed and torched a Manila casino, killing 36 people, was a “lone wolf” terrorist, a top Philippines lawmaker said on Saturday, contradicting the police’s assertion that the man had merely wanted to steal gambling chips.

The gunman, whose identity was still unknown, killed himself in a hotel room after being shot by security officers at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex, police said.

A second “person of interest” who was in the casino at the time is cooperating with the investigation, police said.

Pantaleon Alvarez, speaker of the lower house of Congress and a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, said he was not convinced the incident was a criminal case of armed robbery and arson.

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Philippines: Presidential Spokesman says ISIS can claim anything they want

No automatic alt text available.

Published June 3, 2017, 4:18 PM

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos 

Malacañang allayed fears that the rampage in Resorts World Manila, Pasay City on Friday was an act of terrorism caused by the Islamic State (ISIS).

This, after ISIS claimed in their website responsibility over the incident caused by a lone gunman but resulting in the deaths of 38 people reportedly due to suffocation.

“They can always claim what they want to claim in their website, which they are in full control of,” Abella said during the fourth Mindanao Hour press briefing over Radyo ng Bayan Saturday morning.

(MANILA BULLETIN)

(MANILA BULLETIN)

“They have this reputation of claiming all atrocities all over the world to perpetuate themselves to gain global popularity and to show that their influence is all over,” he added.

“However, there is no truth that the incident was a terror act. According to our evidence, the incident is a local peace and order concern,” Abella continued.

The Palace official also discouraged the police, media, and netizens from making speculations about the incident.

“We’d like to first and foremost clarify that we are joined by the chief of experts, with Senator and former National Police Chief Ping Lacson, in urging the police, the media, and the public to please avoid speculations,” he said.

“It may grab the headlines in Facebook likes, to spin the Resort World tragedy as terrorism but it only feeds the purpose of these groups,” he added.

Abella also urged the public to let the authorities finish their investigation on the alleged security lapses of Resorts World Manila.

“Let us allow authorities to finish the investigation, and look into the security breach of Resorts World Manila,” he said.

“Once the investigation is completed, they will submit their findings and recommendations,” he added.

http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/06/03/palace-isis-can-claim-anything-they-want/

At least 37 dead in attack on Philippines casino — “All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual.”

June 2, 2017

Reuters

Fri Jun 2, 2017 | 2:17am EDT

By Manolo Serapio Jr and Neil Jerome Morales | MANILA
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At least 36 people died after a gunman burst into a Manila casino, firing shots and setting gaming tables alight, a spokesman for the Philippine president said on Friday, in what officials believe was a botched robbery attempt.

There was no evidence linking the attack at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex to fighting between government troops and Islamist militants in the country’s south, said Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte.

Police patrol outside a hotel at the Resorts World Manila complex, early Friday, June 2, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. Gunshots and explosions rang out early Friday at a mall, casino and hotel complex near Manila’s international airport in the Philippine capital, sparking a security alarm amid an ongoing Muslim militant siege in the country’s south. AP Photo/Aaron Favila
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“All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual,” Abella told a media conference. “Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to do harm or shoot anyone.”

Most of the dead suffocated in the chaos as guests and staff tried to flee choking smoke at the complex after the drama that began shortly after midnight (1600 GMT).

Oscar Albayalde, chief of the capital’s police office, said those that died were in the casino’s main gaming area.

Pictures from the scene show wounded people being led out of the hotel

Pictures from the scene show wounded people being led out of the hotel CREDIT:TWITTER/JAMES AGUSTIN

“What caused their deaths is the thick smoke,” he told reporters. “The room was carpeted and of course the tables, highly combustible.”

A Resorts World Manila official said the dead included 13 employees and 22 guests.

DEATH IN ROOM 510

Around dawn, the body of the suspected gunman was found in a hotel room in the still-smoking complex, which is close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport and an air force base, police said.

“He burned himself inside the hotel room 510,” national police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a media conference. “He lay down on the bed, covered himself in a thick blanket and apparently doused himself in gasoline.”

The bodies of two of the victims had been taken to the Veronica funeral parlor, staff member Leni Domingo told Reuters.

Resort owner Travellers International Hotel Group Inc, a joint venture of the Philippines’ Alliance Global Group Inc and Genting Hong Kong Ltd, said authorities were still seeking details.

A injured policeman is seen at the entrance of a hotel after a shooting incident inside Resorts World Manila in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

“We have been informed of several casualties, the number and identities of whom have yet to be determined,” it said in a statement. Its shares were down 7 percent.

Officials said at least 54 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape what at first had been feared as a militant attack.

“Don’t panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” national police chief dela Rosa told DZMM radio.

“We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room. He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table setting it on fire,” he said.

Police said the gunman was tall with a pale complexion and spoke English.

Kimberly Molitas, a spokeswoman for the capital’s police office, said 113 million Philippine pesos ($2.27 million) worth of casino chips stolen during the raid had been recovered.

GUNSHOTS, PANIC

Videos posted earlier on social media showed people fleeing as several loud bangs were heard.

“Even the security personnel panicked. Maybe because of the heavy firearm, they can’t put up a fight so they prioritized life and safety,” Jeff Santos, a high roller at Resorts World Manila, told a Philippine radio station. “Definitely us patrons we did not expect that, everyone ran away.”

Jeri Ann Santiago, who works in the emergency room at the San Juan de Dios hospital, said patients were suffering the effects of smoke inhalation and some had injuries such as fractures. None had gunshot wounds, she said.

The Philippines has been on heightened alert amid a crisis in the south of the country, where troops have been battling Islamist rebels since May 23.

Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao last week and has warned it could become a haven for supporters fleeing Iraq and Syria.

Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington was closely monitoring what he described as a “terrorist” attack unfolding in Manila.

Dozens of police trucks and several huge Special Action Force vans and armored personnel carriers lined side streets near the hotel, casino and shopping mall complex as the drama unfolded.

Gil Yonco, 54, stood weeping in the street at around 5 a.m. His daughter had been on the second floor inside Resorts World and called her father for help because she was being suffocated by smoke.

He tried calling back but there was no answer. “I am very worried as a parent, I need to find her,” he said.

Relatives of victims gathered later in a parking area could be heard crying.

A South Korean foreign ministry official said one South Korean died at the casino after the unidentified person was evacuated. The official said the person likely suffered a heart attack but an autopsy would be carried out to determine the cause of death.

Three South Koreans suffered minor injuries from smoke inhalation or during the evacuation, the official said.

A casino worker named Julio from the third floor of the complex told DZMM radio he heard many gunshots and saw people running up the stairs from the second floor.

One man, who declined to give his name, told reporters how he and others used curtains to clamber down from the second floor.

Maintenance worker Ronald Romualdo told DZMM he saw a woman fall from an upper floor while trying to escape. “Several people were injured,” he said.

(Reporting by Manole Serapio Jnr and Neil Jerome Morales; Additional reporting by Peter Blaza, Clare Baldwin, Karen Lema, Manuel Mogato, Enrico Dela Cruz and Martin Petty in MANILA and Ju-min Park in SEOUL; Writing by Alex Richardson and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt, Andrew Heavens and Paul Tait)

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MANILA, Philippines — (1st update 12:25 p.m.) The number of fatalities in the attack of a Pasay City hotel and casino on Friday morning rose to 37, including the lone gunman, as authorities continue to clear the establishment.

National Capital Region Police Chief Oscar Albayalde confirmed the number of deaths after the still unidentified gunman set fire inside Resorts World Manila.

The bodies were found at the second and third floor of the gaming area of the casino where the floor is carpeted and tables and chairs are highly combustible.

Albayalde said that none of the dead bodies had gunshot wounds and their death was due to suffocation because of thick smoke.

Meanwhile, around 54 people were wounded and have been brought to nearby hospitals, including the security guard who accidentally shot himself.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa earlier said that the gunman acted alone, contrary to witnesses’ claims that there were a group of armed men.

Casino officials, meanwhile, expressed regret over the incident which they described as a “cowardly act of a deranged mind.”

The charred body of the gunman was found on the fifth floor of Maxim’s Hotel.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/02/1706011/least-37-killed-due-suffocation-resorts-world-attack

Philippines: Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights Lost; Dictatorship Found?

May 31, 2017

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte has been talking about military junta and martial law for years — Now he has it — COMMENTARY

OPINION

B (The Philippine Star) |

As early as a year ago, then front-running presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was foreboding about the brewing prospects of Mindanao. Mayor Duterte in fact, succinctly described Mindanao as a powder keg on the brink of violent explosion. At that time, the Mayor already expressed his fears and apprehension on the danger signs in the horizon as far as he sees Mindanao up close and personal from where they live in Davao City.

The last to join the presidential race, Mayor Duterte noted with concern that none of the four candidates have taken up the cause of Mindanao folks who have to bear the festering Muslim secessionists and other peace and order problems in Southern Philippines. This was one of the reasons why then 71-year-old Davao City mayor repeatedly says he decided to join the presidential contest despite the constraints of his age and state of health.

At that time last year, the outgoing administration of former President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III failed to deliver its promise to push his allies in Congress to pass the enabling law to create the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The creation of the BBL was one of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the Aquino administration forged with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Rodrigo Duterte speaks to Filipino community in Singapore - 16 Dec 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo by WONG MAYE-E/AP)

Although the Aquino administration succeeded to make the MILF enter into this peace agreement with the government, they failed, however, to bring in the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by its erstwhile chairman Nur Misuari. Misuari has a standing peace agreement with the government entered into in 1996 with former President Fidel Ramos.

It was September 2013 when the infamous Zamboanga siege flared up. Misuari was charged for inciting to his MNLF loyalists into armed rebellion. It took two weeks and six days for the government authorities led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to put a peaceful end to the Zamboanga siege. From then on, Misuari became a fugitive from justice.

“Please watch out for Mindanao, it might explode if people here in Manila will not properly handle the situation there,” presidential candidate Duterte warned.

 

Mayor Duterte echoed these concerns when he was the last guest in the presidential forum organized by The Philippine STAR among the five candidates during the May 9 elections. And the rest, as we say, is history.

As if the presence of troublemakers in Mindanao were not enough, here comes the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) announcing their rebel insurgents have been ordered to fight government forces implementing martial law. The announcement was issued a few days before the resumption of the 5th round of peace negotiations of the government with their Netherlands-based leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

An irked President Duterte derided the CPP-NPA for its latest pronouncement. Through the 50 years of insurgency history in the Philippines, the President twitted CPP-NPA for not being able to occupy one barangay unlike the Maute that overran Marawi City last May 22. This is not to mention, the self-confessed socialist President Duterte has accommodated the left-wing groups into his administration, including appointment of at least four known communist-leaning members in his Cabinet.

A little Palace birdie told me President Duterte excluded his left-leaning Cabinet members during the emergency meeting in Davao City to discuss his martial law declaration last week a day after his arrival from Moscow.

This, however, did not stop Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and his panel of government peace negotiators led by Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III to proceed to The Netherlands. And why?

Dureza posted this on his Facebook account on May 26 while seemingly exasperated for the long wait of their aircraft to take off: “SORRY, SO DELAYED ( 3 hours late) AND WE ARE STILL SITTING HERE AT NAIA TARMAC ON BOARD EMIRATES FLIGHT MLA TO DUBAI ENROUTE TO AMSTERDAM FOR 5th ROUND PEACE TALKS. We may not be able to connect.”

But that’s another long-running story on the problems at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) still besieged by air traffic and its other operational woes. Only yesterday, NAIA did emergency repair of potholed runways that caused massive air traffic, flight diversion to Clark airport, if not cancelled flights.

Although fretting over their delayed flight to The Netherlands, Dureza was obviously gung-ho to resume the next round of peace talks with their NDFP counterparts. The 5th round of peace talks, as sponsored by the Norwegian government, were being held at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel Noordwijk Aan Zee at The Netherlands.

Aside from Dureza and Bello, the other government panel include former Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento, ex-Pangasinan Rep. Hernani Braganza, CHED commissioner Popoy de Vera, to name a few of them now cooling their heels at Armsterdam at Filipino taxpayers’ expense.

Dureza was already aware that President Duterte had made up his mind to put on hold the government’s peace talks with the NDFP. Then, why did Dureza and company had to embark on this face-to-face meeting just to relay this message to their NDFP counterparts?

Can long-distance telephone calls not suffice if Dureza wishes only to personally relay the demand to their NDFP counterparts to rescind the call to arms of the CPP against the government’s martial law in Mindanao?

It was only until President Duterte came into office at Malacanang Palace in July last year that he was able to convince Misuari to come out from his hiding and help negotiate a comprehensive peace agreement in Mindanao.

If President Duterte can find a way to reach out and talk with Misuari, then how come his peace negotiators can not do the same thing?

All these memories flooded back while listening to President Duterte “Talk to the Troops” last Saturday in Tawi-tawi. In his pep talk with government troopers, the President retraced the entire Philippine history until why his hands were forced into declaring last week a Mindanao-wide martial law for at least 60 days.

It was less than a year after ex-Davao City Mayor Duterte predicted it will happen.

Prophetic? The Mindanao powder keg was lit up after the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom bandits joined forces with Maute crime group now laying siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Or is it a self-fulfilling prophecy of former Davao City Mayor now President Duterte?

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/05/31/1705219/rodys-self-fulfilling-prophecy

Related: Junta, Martial Law

 (with links to related reports)

Related: South China Sea

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Related: War on Drugs and Human Rights

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In this Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 photo, people and a policeman looking at the body of a woman, later identified by her husband as that of Nora Acielo, still clutching the school bag of her child, are reflected in a pool of water after she was shot by still unidentified men while walking with her two children to school at a poor neighborhood in Manila, Philippines, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Police said the killing of Acielo was the 13th recorded drug-related case in the past 24 hours in President Rodrigo Duterte’s unrelenting war on drugs. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
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Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

Philippines: Minority senators say Defense chief said martial law not needed to contain Maute

May 30, 2017
By: – Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 02:16 PM May 30, 2017
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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (File photo by LYN RILLON/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

(Updated, 3:22 p.m.) No less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has admitted that even without martial law, the government can contain the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, opposition senators disclosed on Tuesday.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Lorenzana made this admission during the briefing of security officials to senators on Monday.

READ: 15 senators: ‘No compelling reason’ to revoke martial law declaration in Mindanao

Drilon said it was Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former navy officer, who asked the Defense Secretary if the government troops could contain the terrorist group without martial law.

“The answer of Secretary Lorenzana was: Yes we can,” he said at a press conference in the Senate attended by fellow opposition senators —Trillanes, Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Risa Hontiveros.

Trillanes, in an interview after the press conference, said Lorenzana’s answers were categorical when asked about the necessity of the martial law declaration.

“Maliwanag ‘yung tanong sa kanila. ‘Kaya nyo bang i-contain itong Maute without martial law?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Was there ever a time or a point during the crisis that they lost control of the situation?’ ‘Wala.’ And finally, isang tanong: ‘Was there ever a threat that Marawi would be dismembered from the Republic?’ ‘Wala,’” he said.

(The question to them was clear: “Can you contain Maute without martial law?” He said, “yes.” “Was there ever a time or a point during the crisis that they lost control of the situation?” “None.” And finally, one question, “Was there ever a threat that Marawi would be dismembered from the Republic?” He said none.)

But because President Rodrigo Duterte had already declared martial law, Trillanes said the military had no other choice but to follow the order.

He said the Defense Secretary also told the senators during the briefing that they were not the ones who recommended to President to declare martial law.

“Wala silang ni-recommend. Dumating lang ‘yung information na nag declare na ng martial law kaya ini-implement na nila,” said the senator.

(They did not make recommendations. They just received information that the President already declared martial law, that’s why they implemented it.)

Trillanes believes the martial law declaration was Duterte’s own decision, noting how the latter had repeatedly threatened to impose it if needed.

“Kasi gusto n’ya, kasi nga kating- kati s’ya na mag declare ng martial law (Just because he wants to do it, he has long been itching to declare martial law). Trigger happy s’ya. He has been waiting for that opportunity to declare it. He found that opening so in just a matter of hours — from the eruption of the firefighting (in Marawi City) to the declaration and despite the advice of the defense officials that everything was under control…”

READ: Aguirre says Duterte’s declaration of martial law ‘necessary’

Asked if the security officials were able to justify the imposition of martial law over the whole Mindanao, Trillanes said: “Actually, maliwanag ‘yung statement ni Secretary Lorenzana: Si President nag-declare, they are just implementing it (Actually, the statement of Sec. Lorenzana is clear: It was the president who declared it and they are just implementing it).” IDL/rga

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Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City

Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.

Inquiries may be addressed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through Connie Kalagayan at 897-4426, ckalagayan@inquirer.com.ph and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig at 897-8808 local 352, bkasilag@inquirer.com.ph.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/900951/minority-senators-defense-chief-said-martial-law-not-needed-to-contain-maute#ixzz4iYFIvyr0
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Philippine Authorities Seize 605 Kilos of Meth From China — China Sends the Drugs, Duterte Government Kills the Addicted, China Gets The South China Sea

May 29, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine authorities say they’ve seized 605 kilograms (1,334 pounds) of methamphetamine shipped from China following a tip from the Chinese government.

National Bureau of Investigation officials said Monday that the drugs, with a street value of 6.05 billion pesos ($121.4 billion), were seized over the weekend from a brokerage warehouse in metropolitan Manila, while a portion was intercepted from a shipment consignee.

The operation was jointly conducted with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, police and the Bureau of Customs, which alerted the NBI on information from China’s Office of National Narcotics Control Commission about a large shipment of illegal drugs.

Since taking office last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has launched a war on illegal drugs that has last left thousands of suspected drug dealers and addicts dead.

Related:

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. Ng Han Guan, Reuters (FILE)

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for the first time during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru, on November 19. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./ Presidential Photo

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