29 December 2019
FREE DE LIMA INSTEAD OF THREATENING VISA RESTRICTIONS, US SENATOR SAYS
MANILA - The Philippine government should free detained Sen. Leila De Lima
"or provide her [a] fair, public trial" instead of threatening visa
restrictions on visiting US citizens, US Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is banned
from entering the country, said.
Although there have been procedural delays on her case, De Lima is already
being tried at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court and the Supreme Court has
ruled that media should be allowed to cover hearings.
"Rather than responding by irrationally threatening to deny visas to
American citizens, the Duterte government should either release Senator De
Lima immediately or provide her the fair, public trial she is entitled to,"
Leahy said in a statement on Sunday.
Although the US, among many other countries, require Filipinos to apply for
visas before visiting, Americans currently have visa-free access to the
Leahy's statement comes after a provision he and US Sen. Dick Durbin
proposed was included in the 2020 State and Foreign Operations
Appropriations bill that barred officials involved in De Lima's arrest from
entering the US.
DE LIMA BELIES BLOGGER'S FAKE NEWS CLAIM ON US ENTRY BAN
MANILA - Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday refuted a political blogger's claim
that the authority given to the top diplomat of the United States stopping
the entry into the US of those behind her detention was fake news.
In a dispatch from Camp Crame where she's detained, De Lima said the entry
ban "is in effect."
"In short, it's not fake news," she said.
This, after US President Donald Trump earlier signed a US budget bill, which
includes a provision on "Prohibition on Entry" allowing US Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo to "apply sub-section (c) to foreign government officials
about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the
wrongful imprisonment of.Senator Leila de Lima who was arrested in the
Philippines in 2017."
In a Manila Bulletin column, Nieto said the "Prohibition on Entry" was
"NOWHERE to be found in the final version" of the US 2020 State and Foreign
Operations Appropriations Bill signed by Trump.
De Lima, however, said the blogger might have read the final bill, but not
the US Congress' omnibus bill in which the "Prohibition on Entry" is stated.
An omnibus bill is a type of US legislation that combines many of the
smaller ordinary bills of appropriations into one larger single bill that
could be approved by each house.
The senator also said that in the US Senate's State and Foreign Operations
Appropriations (SFOP) bill report, the provision banning those behind De
Lima's detention is stated.
"Hence, it remains in force," she said.
Nieto was one of those who De Lima cited as responsible for her arrest and
DUTERTE'S MEN ON THE SPOT IN SENATE PROBES
MANILA - This year, senator-allies of President Duterte led probes on
corruption and drug scandals involving some of his trusted officials. Such
moves partly contributed to the steady rise in the chamber's public approval
At the opening of the 18th Congress last July 22, the Senate emerged with 20
members in the majority bloc, including four newbies - Christopher Go,
Ronald dela Rosa, Imee Marcos and Francis Tolentino - and three returning
senators, and only four lawmakers in the minority bloc or opposition.
The May 13 senatorial elections had 12 slots up for grabs, including those
vacated by former senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Gregorio
Honasan II, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes IV.
With the exception of Cayetano, who was appointed foreign affairs chief in
2017, the senators ended their terms in office last June 30.
Escudero won as Sorsogon governor while Legarda was elected representative
of the lone district of Antique and was also picked to be deputy speaker of
the House of Representatives. Trillanes went on to work in academe while
Honasan was appointed information and communications chief.
Reelectionist senators also waged a separate campaign as a group while still
joining their respective political slates.
VP: DRUG CZAR STINT NOT A WASTED OPPORTUNITY
MANILA - For Vice President Leni Robredo, her 18-day stint as the country's
drug czar was not a wasted opportunity as she was able to "discover" the
lapses in President Duterte's controversial war on drugs and draw up
recommendations to make the campaign "more humane and effective."
"My 18 days with ICAD gave me the platform to push for a better strategy and
to make the campaign more humane and effective," the 54-year-old Robredo
told The STAR in an e-mail interview.
The opposition leader said she did not regret taking Duterte's challenge to
lead the drug campaign, despite warnings from her allies and even if she
knew from the beginning she would not get the President's trust and support.
"Despite the unfriendly environment, I still grabbed the chance because I
believe it was a big opportunity to us to assess what was being done and to
influence a change of policy to finally put an end to the brutal killings
that was happening in our midst," Robredo said.
In October, Duterte challenged Robredo to lead the anti-illegal drug
campaign for six months, following the Vice President's interview with
Reuters in the same month where she said the administration's drug war was
"obviously not working" and must be "tweaked."
In early November, Duterte appointed Robredo as co-chairperson of the
Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), chaired by Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency director-general Aaron Aquino.
"I knew that I would not be given much time, so even with the limitations
and the unrelenting condescension and mansplaining, I got down to business
as soon as I got appointed: reaching out to the agencies involved in the
campaign, to the organizations and sectors that have a stake in this fight
and to the communities, both deeply affected by and thriving against the
drug problem," she said.
"Walang tapon sa 18 days na iyon (There was nothing wasted in those 18
days)," Robredo, a human rights lawyer and one of the staunch critics of
Duterte's war on drugs, said.
"At the very least, I am glad that we were able to start putting things in
order, to synchronize the many uncoordinated parts that are supposed to be
under ICAD's supervision," she added.
Duterte fired Robredo, who chairs the formerly ruling Liberal Party, after
she sought the help of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the
US embassy in efforts to end the drug menace in the country.
The Vice President said she would rather focus on her job than pay attention
to the President's insults.
"I have been at the receiving end of the President's insults often enough.
While these remarks are totally undeserved, I prefer not to respond to them,
because I would rather focus on the work before me. I draw the line,
however, whenever the President makes false claims in public, alleging that
I did or did not do certain things, which could be easily checked on
record," Robredo said.
The Vice President is expected to release her 40-page report on Duterte's
drug war after the Yuletide season.
URSULA KILLS 41, LEAVES P1 BILLION INFRA, AGRI DAMAGE
MANILA -- (UPDATE) At least 41 were killed in the onslaught of Christmas
storm Ursula, disaster officials said Sunday.
Twelve remain missing, while 28 were wounded, as Ursula lashed the Visayas
with fierce winds and heavy rains over the holidays, according to the
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The number of fatalities was highest in Western Visayas, where 20 died,
followed by Eastern Visayas with 13, Mimaropa with 7, and 1 in Central
Most victims drowned, while others were hit by felled trees, electrocuted,
figured in a vehicular accident, or suffered from cardiac arrest, according
to NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal.
Timbal said there was a need for tighter evacuation protocols such as
ordinances banning liquor and urging residents to stay indoors during a
"Walang magpapagala-gala muna o mag-hold ng land travel. Kung indoors lang
po ang lahat ng tao at nakasilong wala po siguro mababagsakan ng puno," he
told radio DZMM.
The storm, which left Philippine territory on Saturday morning, damaged some
P1 billion worth of crops and infrastructure in Mimaropa, Bicol, and the
Visayas, the NDRRMC said.
Several areas in Leyte, Aklan, Eastern Samar and Oriental Mindoro were
placed under a state of calamity for local governments to access emergency
funds to aid thousands who scrambled to evacuation centers over the
LORENZANA ORDERS PROBE VS 'UNACCEPTABLE' EDITING IN ARMY PHOTO RELEASE ON
MANILA (UPDATE) - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Saturday ordered an
investigation on those involved in the editing of a handout photo from the
Philippine Army that showed former rebels surrendering to the government.
Lorenzana said sanctions will be imposed against uniformed personnel who
took part in editing images of former rebels and old firearms to make it
appear that these were the individuals who recently surrendered to
"I have directed the CG (Commanding General) Army to make an inquiry.
Sanctions will be meted to those who perpetrated it," the defense chief said
in a statement.
"This is very serious because it undermines the efforts of the whole
Organization," he said, noting that the Armed Forces recently received an
"unprecedented high trust rating" from the public.
The Army's 9th Infantry Division earlier apologized for the incident, saying
they only wanted to keep safe the identities of those who surrendered.
The unit was "not able to double check the pictures attached to the press
release" because of their "ardent desire to release timely information,"
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said in a separate statement.
"Their admission to the mistake is proof of their commitment to the high
standards of public affairs principles," he said, noting that responsible
officials will still be held accountable.
Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces, said AFP
chief Gen. Noel Clement "has ordered the conduct of a thorough investigation
surrounding the incident."
"It is a well-settled policy in the AFP that press releases be appropriately
reviewed and validated," Arevalo said in a statement.
"And if photos on file are to be used, it must be labelled accordingly as
Those found culpable will be punished, the statement added.
The processed photo drew flak online, with some calling it a fake surrender.
Government has been working to bring back to its fold communist rebels in
the countryside while its talks with communist leaders remain stalled.
EVEN LEGAL FIRECRACKERS CAUSING INJURIES - DOH
MANILA - The firecrackers that caused injuries to 34 victims in the past
week include 12 legal fireworks, the Department of Health (DOH) reported
Based on the surveillance conducted by the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau, 12 more
people have sustained injuries from firecracker blasts that brought to 34
the total number of cases since the start of monitoring last Dec. 21.
The DOH said of the 34 cases, 12 were due to legal fireworks, like small
whistle bombs, kwitis, luces and 5-Star.
Boga and piccolo were among the top illegal fireworks that caused injuries.
The agency added that the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera Autonomous Region,
Calabarzon and Bicol accounted for 16 of the 34 cases, with four from each
'DASTARDLY ACTS': DOTR SEEKS PUBLIC VIGILANCE FOLLOWING STONE-THROWING AT
MANILA - The country's transportation department on Saturday appealed to the
public to help prevent stone-throwing incidents at Philippine National
Railway's (PNR) trains.
This, as the PNR revealed there were 14 incidents of "stone-throwing"
recorded from December 2 until December 21. PNR's new trains from Indonesia
have been spared by far.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) in a statement also called on the
public to report similar incidents and help maintain the quality of the
"The trains are owned by the Filipino people, and we all should do our part
in helping their maintenance and upkeep, and help ensure that we protect
these infrastructure investments so that majority of our fellow citizens may
enjoy their long term use," it said on a statement posted on their Facebook
The agency said it was "closely coordinating" with authorities to
investigate those involved in the stone-throwing incidents.
PNR management previously told DZMM that around 3 to 4 incidents of
"sabotage" incidents are recorded every week.
Among these are incidents where people hurl rocks and use slingshots to hit
the trains. Some also allegedly place springs inside rail tracks.
"There is no place in society for doing these dastardly acts, especially at
a time when when your government is doing everything it can to provide the
riding public with modern transport infrastructure," DoTR said.
The agency is currently working on massive transport infrastructure programs
such as the Metro Rail Transit-7 project, which extends the services of the
MRT to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. Also part of the project is the
revamping of PNR trains.
3.1 MILLION KIDS IN MINDANAO VACCINATED VS POLIO
MANILA - Around 3.1 million children in Mindanao have been vaccinated
against polio, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
DOH spokesman Eric Domingo said the figure represents vaccination coverage
of 94.7 percent.
The DOH is targeting the vaccination of 3,102,974 children.
"It's 95 percent and we are happy about it. But we need to sustain this to
make sure that all children in Mindanao are protected against polio,"
DOH records show that as of Dec. 18, vaccination coverage in the Zamboanga
peninsula was at 94.2 percent; Northern Mindanao, 94.9 percent, and Davao,
In Soccsksargen, vaccination coverage reached 92.1 percent; Caraga, 94.2
percent, and Bangsamoro Autononous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 96.7 percent.
Domingo said the anti-polio immunization drive in Mindanao is challenging
due to peace and order concerns in certain areas.
"The dedication of our health workers is unwavering. They... work day in and
they out because they understand the importance of covering 95 percent of
the population to wipe out polio again," he said.
Domingo said parents seemed to have overcome the vaccination scare, with "a
great majority" of them allowing their kids to be immunized.
MAGNITUDE-4 QUAKE HITS DAVAO OCCIDENTAL; NO DAMAGE EXPECTED
MANILA-A magnitude-4 earthquake shook Davao Occidental Saturday afternoon,
according to the Phivolcs.
The tectonic tremor struck at 4:38 p.m. approximately 175 kilometers
southeast of Jose Abad Santos town with a depth of 9 km.
The Phivolcs said damage to structure and aftershocks are not expected.
FIRE AT RESIDENTIAL AREA IN TONDO REACHES FOURTH ALARM
MANILA - A fourth alarm fire was confirmed to be razing a residential area
at Gate 10 in Parola, Tondo, Manila, as confirmed by the Manila Public
No injuries or casualties are reported as of this writing. Authorities are
also reportedly on site to combat the blaze.
The Bureau of Fire Protection has fire alarm levels to determine how many
fire trucks should be dispatched. Fires that are raised to the fourth alarm
level are under the jurisdiction of the local fire district concerned rather
than the local substation.
VALERIE CONCEPCION TIES THE KNOT WITH NON-SHOWBIZ BOYFRIEND
Congratulations are in order for newlyweds Valerie Concepcion and her
non-showbiz partner Francis Sunga.
The couple tied the knot on Saturday in an intimate garden wedding held in
Silang, Cavite, photos online showed.
Some of her celebrity guests included Lara Quigaman and Rodjun Cruz.
Concepcion first revealed her engagement to Sunga back in August 2018.
They met in 2017 through common friends, and the actress loves to joke in
her interviews that it was Sunga who first fell in love.
She eventually fell for Sunga as well because of how he cared for her
daughter, Heather, she explained. Heather is Concepcion's daughter from a
WARM WELCOME FOR PACQUIAO, AS MPBL MAKES HISTORIC CANADA VISIT
Manny Pacquiao displayed his basketball skill, dishing out a triple-double
in a game in Calgary as his Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL)
The boxer-senator led Team Pacquiao with 31 points, 11 assists, and 10
rebounds as his squad ran down Casem Calgary 116-99 in the MPBL exhibition
match held at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex.
Pacquiao was given a warm welcome by the Filipino community in Calgary,
getting mobbed by fans at the city's international airport and the local
hotel where he was staying.
On the other hand, the Mark Yee-led MPBL All-Stars settled for a draw with
Calgary Storm 95-95 in the other exhibition match.
In the MPBL's official game, Zamboanga Family's Brand Sardines downed Imus
Bandera Luxxe Slim for an 88-72 win in the Lakan Cup.
Zamboanga, led by Alvin Pasaol's 21 points, extended its winning streak to 4
games and climbed to 16-4 in the South division of the 31-team league. Imus,
meanwhile, fell to 6-20.
The MPBL will be heading to Edmonton, where Imus will take on a select team
from the host.
Earlier in the season, the league also held games in Dubai.
NBA SCORES DEC 27
1 2 3 4 T
team logo Cavaliers 9-22 22 25 34 36 117
team logo Celtics 22-7 33 29 30 37 129
SCORING LEADERSK. Love CLE
30 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST
J. Brown BOS
34 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST
1 2 3 4 OT T
team logo Thunder 16-15 26 27 19 22 10 104
team logo Hornets 13-21 18 25 22 29 8 102
S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC
27 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST
T. Rozier CHA
26 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST
1 2 3 4 T
team logo 76ers 23-11 21 26 21 29 97
team logo Magic 14-17 19 27 25 27 98
SCORING LEADERST. Harris PHI
24 PTS, 11 REB, 3 AST
E. Fournier ORL
20 PTS, 2 REB, 6 AST
1 2 3 4 T
team logo Bucks 28-5 32 31 21 28 112
team logo Hawks 6-26 19 21 23 23 86
SCORING LEADERSK. Middleton MIL
23 PTS, 8 REB, 7 AST
A. Crabbe ATL
20 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST
1 2 3 4 T
team logo Pacers 21-11 27 28 27 30 112
team logo Heat 23-8 25 33 26 29 113
SCORING LEADERSA. Holiday IND
17 PTS, 3 REB, 9 AST
J. Butler MIA
20 PTS, 9 REB, 6 AST
1 2 3 4 T
team logo Suns 11-20 29 22 27 18 96
team logo Warriors 9-24 25 18 23 39 105
D. Booker PHO
34 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST
D. Russell GS
31 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST