World Newsletter

12 Nov 2020


MANILA - The Embassy of the United States in Manila welcomed Thursday the
Philippine government's decision to postpone anew the termination of the
Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for another six months.
"The U.S.-Philippines alliance remains vital to our robust, deep-rooted
bilateral relationship. The United States will continue to partner closely
with the Philippines to strengthen our mutual security ties," the embassy
said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. earlier said in a message to
White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien that President Duterte
is extending the suspension of the abrogation of the VFA by yet another 6
The termination of the pact was initially made on Feb. 11 this year after
the US visa of Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, Duterte's first national police
chief and the first to implement the government's controversial war on
drugs, was cancelled. The abrogation was supposed to take effect 180 days
after Washington received Manila's notice.
But the termination was suspended in June because, according to Locsin then,
Duterte "saw that the tensions in the South China Sea were getting in the
way of a united response to the COVID-19 crisis."
"The past four years have changed the South China Sea from one of
uncertainty about great powers’ intentions, to one of predictability and
resulting stability with regard to what can and cannot be done, what will
and will not be acceptable with regard to the conduct of any protagonist in
the South China Sea," he said.
"Clarity and strength have never posed a risk. It is confusion and
indecision that aggravate risk."
Duterte's decision to extend the suspension of the VFA abrogation also came
days after Democrat candidate Biden won the US presidency over Donald Trump.


MANILA – Scores of families in Quezon province have been displaced by heavy
flooding brought by Typhoon Ulysses, its governor said Thursday.
Heavy rains caused rivers to overflow and inundate villages in the towns of
General Nakar, Infanta and Real, affecting over 13,000 families or 70,000
individuals, Quezon Governor Danilo Suarez told ANC.
At least 30 towns in the province were currently without power including 12
towns from Quezon’s 1st district.
Ulysses, the 21st tropical cyclone to enter the country this year, made
landfall in Quezon thrice.
It first hit land near Patnanungan at 10:30 p.m. followed by a second
landfall near Burdeos at 11:20 p.m. It made its third landfall near General
Nakar at 1:30 a.m.
As of 5 a.m., state weather bureau PAGASA said the typhoon was located in
the vicinity of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija.
Residents climbed rooftops or sought higher ground as Typhoon Ulysses'
fierce winds and torrential rains inundated large swaths of Luzon Thursday.
Marikina seeks air rescue as Ulysses floods submerge houses
The water level of Marikina River has reached 21.8 meters as of 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, officials said, as heavy rainfall brought by Typhoon Ulysses
(Vamco) continued to batter Luzon.
The current level of the Marikina River is now higher than the peak 21.5
meters set during Typhoon Ondoy's onslaught in 2009.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro earlier said rainfall measurement was at
150 to 170 millimeters in 6 hours until about 4 a.m. Thursday.
Residents climbed rooftops while others sought higher ground as Typhoon
Ulysses brought heavy rains and floods in Luzon Thursday, the fifth
consecutive storm to hit the Philippines.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro on Thursday morning called on national
government for assistance in rescuing his constituents as Typhoon Ulysses'
floodwaters submerged some 30,000 houses.
Teodoro said he has spoken with the Philippine Coast Guard and the national
disaster council as the city's 50 rubber boats are not enough as residents
climbed on rooftops due to rising floodwaters.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has deployed rescue teams, said
spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo.
"Ang ating hamon sa ngayon ay sa dami ng humingi ng tulong, di natin kayang
respondehan on our own," he said, adding that the military coordinates with
local disaster officials in prioritizing rescues.
Twenty out of 41 local governments in the province have no electricity,
Avenilla said. Electricity in most of the towns was cut off for
precautionary measures, he added.
Authorities in Rizal have launched rescue operations in the towns of
Rodriguez and San Mateo, said disaster official Dong Malonzo.
Local officials have coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard, Malonzo
said as the province experienced moderate to strong winds and moderate to
heavy rainfall. Two rubber boats were sent to Barangay San Jose in
Rodriguez, according to ABS-CBN reporter Adrian Ayalin.


MANILA — Typhoon Ulysses' destructive winds whirled through the main island
of Luzon overnight as the cyclone made its way to the capital region and
Calabarzon on Thursday morning, dumping heavy rainfall and triggering flash
floods across Metro Manila.
In Marikina, the river rose to 21.8 meters by 9:04 a.m., the highest water
level seen since 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy hammered the city. Back then, rains
carried by the cyclone inundated villages, destroying homes and properties
and affecting nearly 900,000 people in the worst known flood disaster in
The scene this morning had a similar ring. Filipinos retweeted and reposted
calls for rescue for relatives, friends and strangers trapped on rooftops as
floodwaters rushed inside their already elevated homes.
The 155-kph maximum sustained winds toppled electric posts, knocking down
power in many places. Power distributor Meralco's advisory indicates that
3.8 million customers were affected by the outage, representing 56% of its
subscriber base.
Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco's spokesprson, said it would take an indefinite
number of days before electricity is restored.
The outages also broke up broadband services and mobile data in affected
areas, shutting down even weather forecasting hotlines of PAGASA.


MANILA - More than half of Meralco customers have been experiencing power
interruptions due to typhoon Ulysses as of 5 a.m. Thursday, the power
distributor said.
Meralco said 3,803,810 or 56 percent of its customer base have been affected
by Ulysses.
"We are exerting all efforts to restore power soonest despite the
constraints we are currently facing. Rest assured that Meralco will continue
to conduct restoration efforts round the clock in order to address each and
every customer who still have no power supply," Joe Zaldarriaga, Head of
Corporate Communications at Meralco said.
Meralco advised customers to report power issues through its official
Facebook Messenger and Twitter accounts or via SMS.


The country's 21st storm this year was last estimated in the vicinity of
Cabangan, Zambales as of 7 a.m., moving west northwest at 30 km per hour
while packing maximum winds of 130 kph near the center and gusts of up to
215 kph, PAGASA said.
It is forecast to exit Luzon landmass on Thursday afternoon or evening.
It is expected to emerge over the western seaboard of Zambales within the
next hour and may intensify as it traverses the West Philippine Sea. It is
forecast to leave the Philippine area of responsibility on Friday.
The storm left at least one dead and forced 170,000 to flee their homes as
the COVID-19 pandemic persisted. It comes just a week after Super Typhoon
Rolly devastated southern Luzon and left at least 19 dead.


MANILA — Newly installed National Capital Region Police Office director Maj.
Gen. Vicente Danao yesterday vowed that Metro Manila would be “flooded” with
NCRPO officers to fight crimes.
“More police visibility on the streets – this is part of our marching
orders. Let us flood the streets of Metro Manila with policemen to ensure
the safety of the people,” Danao said during the change of command ceremony
at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
“We will do our best to maintain peace and order in the metropolis,” Danao
He replaced Gen. Debold Sinas, who was appointed by President Duterte as
chief of the Philippine National Police.
Danao said he would bank on the strategic deployment of policemen as part of
preventive measures against crimes.
Danao, who headed the Calabarzon police and Manila Police District, said he
would be enforcing “Oplan Litis” to go after police personnel involved in
drugs and other illegal activities.
“We have to rid the NCRPO of scalawags. I will be strict on the
administration of justice for everyone,” he said.
He said he expects members of the NCRPO to toe the line.
He ordered police station commanders in Metro Manila to step up the
government’s war on drugs, crimes and corruption.



Health authorities confirmed Wednesday that the number of coronavirus cases
in the Philippines has reached more than 400,000 nine months into the
Data from the Department of Health showed there were 1,672 new COVID-19
infections, bringing the overall tally to 401,416.


MANILA — A Manila trial court judge was shot dead inside her court room on
Wednesday afternoon.
The victim was identified as Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 45 Judge Ma.
Theresa Abadilla (44). The incident report named her chief of court clerk,
lawyer Amador Rebato (42), as the suspect.
A follow up report from Special Mayor’s Reaction Team (SMaRT) chief Police
Major Jhun Ibay said that Abadilla arrived at the emergency department of
the hospital at 2:45 p.m.
She was declared dead at 3:15 in the afternoon.
In a separate report from Police Lt. Col. Arsenio Riparip (Ret.) for Manila
Mayor Isko Moreno, the city security force said initial investigation showed
that Abadilla was talking to Rebato about the latter’s performance “which
seems unfavourable.”
The incident happened at around 2:45 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Manila
City Hall.
Citing a witness’ account, Riparip, chief of the city security force, said
Rebato recently got infected with COVID-19, which “affected his performance
wherein he was planning to file his resignation.”
Riparip added that prior to the shooting, Rebato was seen “feeling uneasy
and shuddering” while she was being questioned by Judge Abadilla.
He then shot the judge in the head and then took his own life with his own
firearm of unknown caliber, the report read.
SMaRT operatives have since turned over the investigation to the homicide
division. All gates of the city hall were also closed.


MANILA — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines said it will work on helping
lawyers to deal with stress and improve their personal security in the wake
of deaths of a Manila court judge and clerk of court.
IBP National President Domingo Egon Cayosa said being a lawyer is one of the
most stressful professions. This is compounded by the killings of judges,
prosecutors and lawyers, the COVID-19 pandemic, and “the creeping culture of
violence and impunity in our society.”
“IBP will continue to help lawyers handle stress and improve their personal
security,” he added.
Cayosa issued the statement after the death of Manila Regional Trial Court
Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla and clerk of court, lawyer Amador Rebato Jr. on
Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators, citing a witness testimony, said Abadilla and Rebato were in
discussion over the latter’s performance that was affected when he
contracted the coronavirus. Rebato shot Abadilla while they were inside the
courtroom, and he later shot himself.
Abadilla was rushed to the Manila Medical Center but was declared dead on
Cayosa noted it is “ironic” that they learned of the shooting incident while
the IBP, the Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine Psychiatric
Association were holding a webinar on how to manage stress and mental health
in the legal profession amid the pandemic.
“We hope the government and all sectors will cooperate to ensure that
differences may be resolved responsibly, quickly and peacefully,” he added.


The provincial police formed a special task force to probe the killing of a
journalist in Pangasinan following calls for justice by progressive groups
In a statement issued on Wednesday, November 11, the Police Regional Police
Office 1 (PRO-1) director Brig. Gen. Rodolfo Azurin announced that he
activated a special investigation task group that will look into the killing
of Pangasinan-based journalist and columnist Virgilio “Vir” Maganes.
Azurin said that the group is currently probing into leads and persons of
interest who were identified through footages in surveillance cameras near
the crime scene.
The investigation is still ongoing.
Through social media posts on November 10, the National Union of Journalist
of the Philippines reported the killing of Maganes and noted that the
incident happened just a week after the International Day to End Impunity
for Crime against Journalists on November 2.
In the organization’s count, the veteran broadcaster would be the 18th
journalist killed under the Duterte administration and the 190th since 1986.
“His death is an indictment on this government’s empty boast that press
freedom is alive and well in the country,” the group said.
While motives for the killing remain uncertain, the NUJP demanded
authorities to resolve Maganes’ killing and bring justice to his family.


MANILA — Amid allegations of human rights violations, Philippine National
Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas yesterday challenged his critics to
file charges against him in connection with the abuses in Central Visayas
that he supposedly abetted when he was the region’s police director.
Sinas said there were no charges filed against him in connection with these
“I don’t have any cases in Central Visayas. If there were any, or if there
are clamors, they can file them in court,” Sinas said. “I encourage them to
file cases so I can answer them in the proper venue.”
In a television interview, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Sinas’
appointment as PNP chief was a cause for concern due to alleged abuses,
including the string of unsolved drug-related killings in Central Visayas.
Sinas served as director of the Central Visayas police from July 2018 to
October 2019.
The PNP chief also asked his critics to end talks about the mañanita
controversy, saying prosecutors have investigated the incident.
Sinas received flak when he held a birthday feast at the Metro Manila police
headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig last May, which reportedly
violated the ban on mass gatherings and quarantine protocols.
The controversy prompted the PNP to file criminal charges against Sinas and
18 other police officials before the Taguig prosecutor’s office.
Sinas is also facing an administrative complaint over the mañanita mess.



MANILA — Actress Liza Soberano explained on Tuesday her month-long absence
from social media, saying she has been taking time to reflect on her
“mission in life.”
On Twitter, the Kapamilya star addressed her fans, writing: “Hi everyone!
Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Just savoring the time I have with the
people most special to me.
“But I do constantly have all of you at the back of my mind and I just want
to say thank you so much for all the love and support everyone has been
showing me this past month.”
Soberano is currently in the United States, where she is helping care for
her ailing grandmother.
“It’s honestly been a very trying time for me and I wanted to express how I
was feeling with all of you but it was just too soon for me,” she said.
“I needed to take a break and think about life, my goals and what I think my
mission is in life.”
Soberano, 22, was recently the subject of controversy when a military
official issued her a public warning for participating in a women’s welfare
program of the rights group Gabriela.
Soberano’s part in the virtual talk, where she urged influential
personalities to speak up for those who are marginalized including women and
children, snowballed into the national discussion on “red-tagging,” with the
likes of Catriona Gray and Angel Locsin being targeted, too, for their own
The past year had also been tumultuous for Soberano, whose primetime series
“Make It With You” was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic and the
forced broadcast shutdown of her home network ABS-CBN.
Those are aside from her personal situation. While Soberano has mentioned
attending to her grandmother in the States, she has opted to keep details of
her condition private.



WED, NOV 11, 2020    Q1    Q2    Q3    Q4    T
Phoenix Fuel Masters    21    25    13    31    90
Rain or Shine    24    18    24    22    88
Magnolia Hotshots    32    16    25    22    95
Blackwater Elite    14    22    20    24    80
Batang Pier    14    16    20    23    73
Meralco Bolts    23    16    28    13    80
NLEX Road Warriors    23    32    42    30    127
Terrafirma Dyip    26    18    27    30    101


MANILA — The matchups for the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs are finalized as
the eliminations concluded Wednesday at the PBA bubble in Clark City,
The eight remaining squads will have more time to rest their bodies as the
league expects a less busy schedule after daily elimination games.
Top-ranked Barangay Ginebra will take on Rain or Shine, which slid down to
the eighth spot yesterday after a loss to Phoenix.
The win propelled the Fuel Masters to second place behind the Gin Kings,
where they will face the streaking Magnolia Hotshots who are riding a six
game-win streak.
In the other matchups, the TNT Tropang Giga, who began their bubble journey
with five straight wins, will clash with the Alaska Aces.
The six-peat seeking San Miguel Beermen, meanwhile, will face the Meralco
The top four teams Ginebra, Phoenix Super LPG, TNT Tropang Giga and the SMB
Beermen have a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the
The playoffs will begin on Friday, November 13, with SMB and Meralco facing
off in the first game, and Ginebra playing Rain or Shine.

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