Monday, May 29, 2017

IS dead bodies recovered in Marawi includes European, Saudi, Yemeni, Indian, Malaysian & Indonesian

Blood stains the roadside as civilians view unidentified bodies believed to have been executed and dumped in a ditch by militants
Blood stains the roadside as civilians view unidentified bodies believed to have been executed and dumped in a ditch by militants.  Photo: Getty Images

Islamic State fears grow as foreign fighters among bodies in Philippines

Foreign IS fighters were among the militants who besieged a southern Philippines city, intensifying fears that Islamic State is gaining a foothold in South-east Asia.

Bodies found in Islamic City of Marawi, 830 kilometers south of Manila, after almost a week of fighting include Malaysians, Indonesians, Saudis, an Indian, Yemeni and Chechen an eastern European citizen, according to Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

The Mindanao Island of the Philippines is now Islamic State's epicentre in the region, he said.

Zachary Abuza, another expert on terrorism in South-east Asia, said that while there is no evidence that Islamic State has sent significant support to a dozen militant Islamist groups operating in the southern Philippines, "increasingly South-east Asians are being drawn to Mindanao".

Australia and other nations in the region are so worried about the threat of homegrown IS militants returning from battlefields in Iraq and Syria that they have convened a summit in August to co-ordinate the threat.

Hundreds of battle-hardened fighters are expected to return to the region as IS loses ground in the Middle East.

Pray for Marawi
#PrayForMarawi hashtag trending at social media right after the Maute Islamist group Attack Marawi City, the only Islamic City in the Philippines

Attorney-General George Brandis told a Senate committee earlier in May that the return of the fighters is "the issue which is of greatest concern to heads of government and homeland security ministers in the region when it comes to counter-terrorism".

The Philippines, which has in the past downplayed the threat from IS, has confirmed that foreign fighters have played a key role in the siege of the Islamci City of Marawi that has so far left more than 100 people dead and dozens wounded.

"What's happening in Mindanao is no longer rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the Islamic State to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq and Syria," said Philippine Solicitor-General Jose Calida.

The militants flew black Islamic State flags during their rampage of the city.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte last week imposed martial law, giving security forces sweeping powers, while warning of the threat of "contamination" by IS in his island nation of 100 million people.

Dr. Gunaratna said IS has provided groups in the southern Philippines with propaganda, some foreign fighters and some financial transfers but not huge amounts of money.

"They are moving very slowly but very steadily," he said. "They are not in a hurry."

Professor Abuza, who has written a book about militant Islam in the region, said that while media attention has been on kidnappings and beheadings by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group, the bigger threat is to regional trade and commerce.

He pointed out that between March 2016 and April this year there were 19 separate sea attacks and hostage takings, resulting in the capture of 70 sailors and fishermen from six countries.

Professor Abuza said Abu Sayyaf is likely to continue to prioritize sea kidnappings, which involve low risk and high reward.

"Tug boats and fishing trawlers are very slow moving and undermanned. They are easy prey," he said.

The August summit is likely to decide on greater law enforcement cooperation and intelligence-sharing across the region.

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines signed an agreement nine months ago for joint patrols in the Sulu Sea, but they have not begun. Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Philippines Rejects EU $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant

Philippines rejected EUROPEAN UNION $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant
Philippines rejected EUROPEAN UNION $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant for 2017

Philippines Rejects European grants

The Philippines will no longer accept grants from the European Union, the EU delegation to Manila said Thursday, following repeated tirades from President Rodrigo Duterte over its criticism of his deadly drug war.

"The Philippine government has informed us that they (will) no longer accept new EU grants," the delegation said in a brief statement.

The decision will affect grants worth 250 million euros ($278 million), according to Franz Jessen, the EU's ambassador to Manila.

Philippine government officials did not immediately comment, with the finance department saying a statement would be issued later on Thursday.

Duterte, 72, has repeatedly criticised European lawmakers and the EU for condemning his drug war, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings from critics of a crime against humanity.

In comments last year, he used vulgar language and raised his middle finger in a response to a European parliament statement expressing concern over the killings.

The German government also expressed concern after Duterte last year drew parallels between his drug war and Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler's Holocaust.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said, underestimating the number of people killed in the Holocaust.

Duterte later apologised for the Hitler reference but said he was "emphatic" about wanting to kill addicts.

Duterte easily won presidential elections last year after promising to end crime by killing tens of thousands of drug traffickers and addicts.

Police have reported killing about 2,700 people since Duterte took office at the end of June and immediately launched his war on drugs.

Unknown assailants have killed more than 1,800 others, while about 5,700 other violent deaths are under investigation, according to police data.

Partly in response to American criticism of the drug war, Duterte has also loosened the Philippines' ties with traditional ally the United States.

He has instead embraced China, which has supported his drug war and sought to deepen economic ties by providing billions of dollars worth of investments and aid to the Philippines.

Duterte, a self-described socialist, has also forged warmer relations with Russia, and will travel to Moscow next week to meet President Vladimir Putin.

Read more at Sources: AP & SBS  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Philippines remain unbeaten on Day 3 of SEABA Championship 2017

12 Phuoc Thang Le (VIE) - Myanmar v Vietnam, 2017 SEABA Men Championship (PHI), Manila - Smart Araneta Coliseum
12 Phuoc Thang Le (VIE) - Myanmar v Vietnam, 2017 SEABA Men Championship (PHI), Manila - Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila(Philippines), 14 May 2017

SEABA CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 RESULTS:

  • Indonesia beat Thailand, 60-59
  • Vietnam beat Myanmar, 77-44
  • Philippines beat Malaysia, 106-51

MANILA (SEABA Championship 2017) - Indonesia had to scrape by Thailand even as Vietnam and the Philippines routed their respective foes during Day 3 at the SEABA Championship 2017 in Manila.

The day's opening game proved to be a down-the-wire thriller, but it eventually went Indonesia's way as they outlasted Thailand, 60-59. In a game that featured multiple ties and lead changes, it was Mario Wuysang who came up huge in the endgame to hit the marginal basket. This happened after Sorot Sunthonsiri gave Thailand their last taste of the lead, 59-58. Moments after, Wuysang brought the ball to the left corner and drilled the game-winning bucket. In the game's final sequence, Indonesia forced Thai playmaker Nattakarn Muangboon into a crucial turnover that all but sealed their fate.

The loss wasted a big game from Chitchai Ananti, who scored 24 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Indonesia, meanwhile, were led by Sandy Kurniawan, who hit 5 three-pointers on his way to 17 points. He got ample support from Dodo Sitepu, who registered 9 points, 6 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. The Indons moved up to 3-0, while the Thais absorbed their first defeat of the tournament.

In the second game, Vietnam notched their first win of the competition at Myanmar's expense, 77-44. Nguyen Van Hung dazzled for the victors with 22 points on 11-of-18 field goal shooting, while Tran Vu Linh added 18 points. Vietnam dominated the interior in this contest, winning the rebound battle, 53-35, and outscoring Myanmar around the basket, 60-24.

Myanmar led very briefly at the start of the game, but once Vietnam got into a groove, they never let go of the advantage. Aung Wana paced Myanmar with 21 points on the back of 2 three-pointers.

To close out the evening, the Philippines recorded another lopsided result, routing Malaysia, 106-51. Malaysia actually scored the first two points of the game, but it was all Gilas Pilipinas after that. The home team built a 19-point lead after the first quarter and never looked back.

VIDEO: Philippines vs Malaysia

Malaysia just had no answer for the Filipinos' superior size and skill. The winners were +21 in rebounding and +13 in assists. Gilas Pilipinas also forced 18 Malaysia turnovers, which they turned into 19 points. Andray Blatche and Troy Rosario each scored 13 points for the Philippines, while Terrence Romeo and Matthew Wright added a dozen points apiece as their team moves into a tie for first place with Indonesia at 3-0.

Most of coach Goh Cheng Huat's wards had a very challenging time trying to score against the bigger Filipinos. Heng Yee Tong and Ting Chun Hong led the losing side with 12 and 10 points respectively. Malaysia drop to the bottom of the team standings with zero wins in three games.

Gilas Pilipinas will take a breather on Day 4 before they return to action on Day 5 opposite Thailand, who take on Myanmar tomorrow. Neighbors Singapore and Malaysia play each other in the second game of Day 4 right before Indonesia are tested by Vietnam in the nightcap. read more at FIBA

Philippines Making Great Progresses in Health Care for 92% Insurance- WHO

Philippine Health Insurance

Philippine Health Insurance coverage through PhilHealth riseup  to 92% to all Filipinos in 2017

PHILIPPINE HEALTH INSURANCE

The Philippines is chalking up improvements in the health-care sector, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, while pointing out that challenges remain for the country.

Dr Shin Young-soo, Regional Director for the Western Pacific of WHO, said statistics indicate that Filipinos now are living longer lives than before and this is largely due to collaborative efforts of the government, development partners and stakeholders.

“The Philippines has so many health achievements to celebrate: people born today can expect to live for more than 70 years. Innovative taxation schemes have pushed back unhealthy behaviors and tripled the health budget. More than 92 per cent of all Filipinos now benefit from national health insurance,” Dr Shin said.

Health care in the country has grown by leaps and bounds with more people getting access to medical maintenance services. In 1995, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was established. Its mandate is to provide health insurance coverage to all Filipinos.

As of 2014, 14.7 million families have been enrolled into the system through a full National Government subsidy.

But while the Philippines is making improvements in providing health-care coverage to more Filipinos, challenges remain for the country.

“The Philippines is a fast-growing economy undergoing profound societal transformation. However, with growth and changing lifestyles come challenges of non-communicable diseases,” Dr Shin said,

Health conditions linked to poverty remain. Some 30 per cent of Filipino children are malnourished and around 30 per cent of the population lack regular access to essential medicines.

“While health insurance coverage is high, out-of-pocket payments remain high, accounting for more than half of the country’s total health expenditure,” she said.

Dr Shin said the challenge for the country is how to sustain current achievements in health care will be the “heart of WHO’s work in the country in the next five years.”

WHO and the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) launched the Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS), a mechanism which defines WHO’s strategic framework and aligns it with national health policies and programs.

The focus of the WHO CCS 2017—2022 are five unique strategic priorities that include saving lives by ensuring full access to life-saving interventions, promoting the well-being of people by empowering them to lead healthy lives, protection from disasters and mitigating its effects on peoples’ health, optimization of health architecture and maintaining its integrity and use of platforms for health and support health in all settings, policies and sectors.

“In the coming six years, we look forward to continuing to work together as partners in health [care] for the more than 100 million people of the Philippines and the 1.9 billion people of the Western Pacific Region,” Shin concluded.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Philippines Newly Acquired First High-Tech Ambulance Hospital Ship for the Red Cross- Commissioned

MV Amazing Grace
The Philippine Red Cross’ first and only humanitarian ship, formerly a ferry owned by the Mat-Su Borough, will be used as a marine ambulance and disaster response vessel. (Philippine Red Cross via Facebook)

Troubled Mat-Su ferry gets a new name in the Philippines, leaving its checkered past behind

The former Mat-Su ferry known as Susitna has a new name: M/V Amazing Grace and recently commissioned in the Philippines.

That's the name bestowed upon the ferry after a naming contest conducted by the ferry's new owner, the Philippine Red Cross.

The organization revealed the name at a press conference Monday in Manila attended by Red Cross dignitaries from several countries including Japan, Germany and the United States. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday christened what Red Cross calls the country's first and only humanitarian ship to be used as a marine ambulance and disaster response vessel.

The 198-foot vessel started its life as a U.S. Navy prototype acquired in 2011 by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough after the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens wedged an earmark into a Department of Defense spending bill.

Commissioning of MV amazing Grace Ship hospital
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, on Tuesday christened what Red Cross calls the country’s first and only humanitarian ship to be used as a marine ambulance and disaster response vessel. (Philippine Red Cross via Facebook)

The Susitna was transformed from a beach-landing barge with some ice-breaking abilities to a ferry at a Ward Cove shipyard. A $12.3 million federal grant paid for design, engineering and a $4 million ferry terminal at the borough port on Point MacKenzie.

But the high-tech vessel never left the dock, thanks to a combination of funding and political shortcomings.

The borough finally sold the ferry to the Philippine Red Cross last year at a loss: $1.75 million instead of the $6 million borough officials had originally sought.

Officials here liked to call the Susitna the borough's "free" ferry. It wasn't. A combination of grant matching fees, maintenance and repair costs tallied more than $10 million. The Federal Transit Administration in 2013 demanded Mat-Su repay the $12 million grant, but that has yet to be resolved.

The borough is still negotiating with the Federal Transit Administration to lower the grant repayment, borough manager John Moosey said this week. Read more at ADN


Friday, May 5, 2017

UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Speeh Makes her Incompetent for Concluding Philippines War on Drug based on hearsay

UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Acting as Big Bully in the Philippines

Callamard acting as local Opposition Political Party leader in the Philippines

United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s early Friday Wikipedia information described her as highly paid consultant of the Philippines' opposition “Liberal Party” as she concluded her speeches without proper investigation but just taken the reports that were provided most from the liberal party groups who opposes the war on drugs in the Philippines.

Invited by the government to investigate the issue on EJK last September 2016 but refused to come and instead make a surprise visit to the Philippines to utter her conclusion against the Philippines War on Drugs without conducting a ground investigation to confirm the allegations.

Callarmard surprise visit to the Philippines is acting like a leader of the local political party to destroy the image of Duterte based on hearsays.

Malacanang on Calamard Surprise Visit

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard is now in no position to launch an independent study on the spate of drug-related killings in the country after she talked against the war on drugs at a forum in Quezon City, a Malaca├▒ang official said on Friday.

Chief presidential legal counsel Sec. Salvador Panelo told reporters Friday that Callamard already made a conclusion based on news reports, some videos, opinions of critics, and hearsays.

“First, how did she know that that’s the way the drug operations are being conducted? What’s the basis?” Panelo said.

“She just cannot come here and read newspaper reports and hear the talks of some critics and watch some videos and make a conclusion that there is something wrong the way this government is doing its job,” he added.

Panelo said that how Callamard arrived at her conclusion was more important than the circumstances of her visit in the Philippines—whether it was on her own or through an invitation.

“What I’m questioning is the basis of her conclusion, which is based on hearsay and some reports coming from whoever and from wherever. It’s not an independent study. It’s not an objective study. It’s just a conclusion on the basis of things that she heard,” Panelo said.

But Panelo indicated that the Philippine government’s invitation to Callamard was already pointless when she already made her mind on the war on drugs.

“Alangan naman pilitin siya kung ayaw niya eh. Not only that, you know, the fact alone that she already made conclusions, I don’t think she would be competent enough or objective enough to undertake any study. She already made a conclusion, on the basis of hearsay and reports and whatever,” Panelo said.

“She was saying she read reports, she saw some videos, and on the basis of that, she made a conclusion that the operation against the drug menace in this country is wrong. How can she make that kind of conclusion when she only read the reports of some people and saw some videos?" he added.

"She has to make an independent probe or investigation on what’s happening in this country. This is precisely why the President invited her to come over. But she never responded to that," Panelo said.

While Callamard earlier said that the terms the Philippine government presented for her visit were against their Code of Conduct, Panelo said it was only fair that President Rodrigo Duterte would be able to question her conclusion.

"What the President just wanted to say after the investigation is, ‘Tell us, what’s the basis of your investigation?’ What’s wrong with asking someone making an investigation, ‘This is our conclusion.’ Then the President, ‘How did you make that conclusion? Who are the people you asked? How did you come about?’" Panelo said.

"I don’t think that’s unfair. That’s a very fair response from someone who has been investigated," he added.

International Court of Justice (ICC) whom claimed to have the authority for extrajudicial killings cases around the world has been labeled as International Caucasian Justice by the African nations for its failure to file cases on Western and European countries that committed thousands extrajudicial killings while acting as superior in issuing verdicts to the African countries as mass murderer in a form of bullying  the small and poor countries.

Several African nations have left and vacated their seats at the United Nations for distrust and integrity issues of the UN for its unfair and selective justice in issuing verdicts.

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