APRIL 7, 2018

Magazine Names De Lima among Southeast Asia's Women to Watch

MANILA, Philippines — Detained Sen. Leila De Lima is among Southeast Asia's women to watch, an Asia-Pacific magazine says.

According to The Diplomat magazine, De Lima's refusal to stay quiet despite being incarcerated is an important message that there was a "robust resistance" determined to make the Philippines safe despite the massive popularity of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"She has continued her fight against the Duterte administration from behind bars and inspired progressive Filipinos and international human rights activists alike, including Pope Francis," Erin Cook of the Tokyo-based The Diplomat wrote.

The Palace has been quick to counter criticism of De Lima's detention, stressing she is in detention on drug charges and not her principles.

"Her refusal to stay quiet is an important message often obscured that while Duterte continues to enjoy high polling and support in the country, there is a robust resistance determined to make the Philippines safe," Cook said.

 De Lima is currently detained in Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police on drug-related charges.

 She is accused of abetting the trade of illegal drugs in the National Bilibid Prison during her time as Justice secretary in the previous Aquino administration and using narcotics money to fund her successful senatorial candidacy.

 The senator and her supporters claim that the cases filed against her are trumped up and are meant to intimidate and silence her as she has been a thorn in the side of Duterte and his illegal drugs crackdown.

 De Lima has led probes into alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte during his time as Davao City mayor and now that he is the Philippine leader. Prior to her arrest, she was ousted as chair of a Senate panel holding hearings on the killings.

 "In a particularly vicious and misogynistic series of attacks, de Lima was accused by Duterte and his supporters of being engaged in sexual affairs and importing drugs and arms into the country," Cook said in her article.

Phelime Kine, deputy director of the Asian Division of Human Rights Watch, described the recognition as well deserved. (www.philstar.com)


6,400 Displaced Residents to Go Home as Mayon Activity Declines

MANILA, Philippines — Around 6,400 evacuees are expected to return to their homes after the alert level for Mayon Volcano was lowered to Level 2, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Thursday.

Mina Marasigan, NDRMMC spokesperson, said in a message to reporters that the council is expecting "a good majority (of evacuees) to decamp today."

She said that according to NDRMMC protocol, Alert Level 2 means those who had to evacuate their homes can go back.

"We are expecting more than 6,400 individuals to go back to their homes now,” Marasigan added.

This comes following the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology report lowering the alert level and signifying the cessation of eruptive activity and a decline of unrest to moderate level.

The country's volcanology agency said that after monitoring regular episodes of volcanic activities, Mayon has calmed down for the past two weeks. No new lava has been detected on Mayon’s summit center.

The Phivolcs, however, stressed that while the alert level was downgraded from Level 3 to 2, this does not mean that Mayon’s unrest has ceased.

“The public is still reminded to avoid entry into the 6-km Permanent Danger Zone due to perennial hazards of rockfalls, avalanche, ash puffs and sudden steam-driven or phreatic eruptions at the summit area,” volcanologists said.

According to the data of the NDRMMC, there are around 1,630 families currently seeking shelter in evacuation centers.

Mayon's 52nd eruption in about 400 years displaced thousands of people after it started spewing lava, ash and pyroclastic material last January. (www.philstar.com)


Lorenzana: Leader's Surrender Could Lead to Abu Sayyaf Collapse

MANILA, Philippines — The surrender of an Abu Sayyaf subleader and his followers notorious for bombings and other atrocities could lead to the eventual collapses of the bandit group, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday.

Lorenzana said that the surrender of Abu Sayyaf subleader Nhurhassan Jamiri, who was the overall commander of the group operating in Tuburan, Albarka, Tipo-Tipo, Akbar, Mohamad Adjul and Lamitan City, could hopefully lead to the restoration of peace and order in Basilan and bring justice to their victims.

"The surrender of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and his entire group after successful negotiations and military operations, will hopefully bring the eventual collapse of the ASG in Basilan," the Defense chief said.

The news of Jamiri and his group’s surrender was relayed to Lorenzana by Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, the commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, on Wednesday.

Jamiri and 13 of his followers surrendered to the soldiers of Joint Task Force Basilan composed of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 8th and 9th Scout Ranger Companies, 104th Infantry Brigade, 74th Infantry Battalion and 14th LAC.

Jamiri’s group also yielded seven M16 rifles, an M4 carbine, an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, 40 assorted ammunition magazines, 651 pieces of live ammunition, an MK52 fragmentation grenade and eight bandoliers.

The Abu Sayyaf militants were then escorted by soldiers to the headquarters of the 9th Scout Ranger Company and the 104th Brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City, according to Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy, the commander of Joint Task Force Basilan.

 Uy said that the bandits were already undergoing custodial debriefing and that the military was already coordinating with police for the necessary legal procedure.

"This surrender only proves that with the president’s strategic guidance, our relentless offensives on the ground and our diplomatic approach are effective in defeating the Abu Sayyaf bandits and in addressing the internal aggression in ZamBaSulTa area," Galvez said, adding that this surrender would lead other commanders of the group to also yield in the coming days.

Jamiri gained notoriety for carrying out the 2002 bombing of Fort Pilar in Zamboanga City, the 2007 ambush of the personnel of the Marines in Albarka and the 2001 Lamitan siege.

They also launched IED attacks in Isabela, Lamitan and Zamboanga as well as kidnapping and extortion activities in Basilan.

His group also hosted Abu Sayyaf members from Sulu who conducted seajacking and kidnapping of Vietnamese vessels and sailors.

The surrender of Jamiri and his followers brought to 216 the total number of bandits who had surrendered since the start of this year.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Sulu on Monday and stressed that militants who would surrender would be given another chance.

“All those who want to surrender are welcome but those who want to fight, know that the government is ready,” said Duterte, who previously said that he could eat the organs of Abu Sayyaf members raw.

After Duterte’s visit, several Abu Sayyaf bandits surrendered and yielded several firearms.

“We hope this will continue to gain momentum in order to achieve peace without any bloodshed,” Lorenzana said. (www.philstar.com)

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