Friday, May 26, 2017

Pinoy killed in Sandakan hit-and-run incident

A Filipino plantation worker was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Sandakan, Malaysia, early Sunday morning, according to a report by New Straits Times.
The Filipino, whom the report did not identify, was killed when the motorcycle he was driving was hit by a four-wheel-drive vehicle while traversing Mile 21 of Jalan Labuk around 5:30 a.m.
District Police Chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Azhar Hamin was quoted in the report as saying that the driver of the 4WD lost control of the car, veered into the opposite lane, and rammed into the Filipino.
Police found the 4WD abandoned when they arrived at the scene. The Filipino, meanwhile, died of serious injuries.
Mohd Azhar urged witnesses to report information about the driver to Traffic Investigation officer Inspector Zabir Aripin or the district police operation center at 089 21 1222 or 089 24 2222.
The incident is being investigated under Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 or death by reckless or dangerous driving.  —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Mary Jane Veloso camp rues CA injunction vs. deposition

The camp of Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso on Thursday expressed disappointment at the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to prevent her from spilling the beans on her recruiters who allegedly tricked her into transporting illegal drugs in Indonesia.
"The bottom line is: how in heaven's name can we get to hear the side of a fellow compatriot who is behind bars and waiting in death row in a foreign land and who cannot come home for said purpose?" said National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia in a text message.
Veloso's testimony was supposed to be gathered on April 27 in Yogyakarta prison but the CA 11th Division came out last March with a temporary restraining order (TRO) whose validity was extended through a preliminary injunction issued on May 22.
The CA action stemmed from the petition filed by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), counsel for Veloso's recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, who said the deposition was against the constitutional right of the accused.
The PAO cited Section 14 paragraph 2 of the Bill of Rights, which gives, among others, an accused the right to a speedy, impartial, and public trial and meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence.
Olalia said Veloso's recruiters invoked "what may be deemed esoteric and archaic legal argumentation under the peculiarities of the case."
"The recruiters assert that they want to confront her in person yet they themselves oppose and put all roadblocks every step of the way to make this happen," he said.
Veloso's camp described her situation as unique "that calls for judicial equity, if not flexibility."
"Indeed, it warrants common sense or basic empathy," Olalia said.
Veloso was sentenced to die by firing squad in April 2015, but Indonesian authorities agreed to hold off the execution so she could testify in the case against her recruiters in the Philippines. —KG, GMA News

CA extends stay order vs. deposition of Mary Jane Veloso’s testimony indefinitely

Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso would still not be able to testify against the individuals who allegedly tricked her into transporting illegal drugs in Indonesia in 2010.
This developed after the Court of Appeals (CA) 11th Division issued on May 22 a preliminary injunction which effectively extended for an indefinite period of time the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) handed down last March on the deposition.
Veloso's testimony was supposed to be gathered on April 27 in Yogyakarta prison before the Filipino death row inmate's lawyers, prosecutors from the Department of Justice, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, lawyers of Veloso's recruiters, and the trial court judge handling the cases against her recruiters.
The appellate court also rejected the motion for reconsideration on the stay order
filed by Veloso's parents, Celia and Cesar Veloso.
Parties to the case were also directed to  submit their memorandum on the merits within 15 days from notice afterwhich the petition would be submitted for decision.
The Public Attorney's Office (PAO), which represents Veloso's recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, welcomed the CA action.
"Rule of law and truth prevail," PAO chief Persida Acosta said in a text message.
GMA News Online has already asked for comment from the camp of Veloso but they have yet to respond as of posting time.
Sergio and Lacanilao went to the CA after Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 allowed the deposition last February.
The PAO opposed the deposition, saying it is against the constitutional right of the accused.
The agency cited Section 14 paragraph 2 of the Bill of Rights, which gives, among others, an accused the right to a speedy, impartial, and public trial and meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence.
Veloso was sentenced to die by firing squad in April 2015, but Indonesian authorities agreed to hold off the execution so she could testify in the case against her recruiters in the Philippines.  — RSJ, GMA News

Pinoy resto in NYC temporarily closed after health inspection

A popular Filipino restaurant in New York City has been temporarily shut down by the health department due to alleged violations discovered after an inspection, according to a report on Sunnyside Post.
The report said Kabayan 2, located on Roosevelt Avenue, was ordered closed after racking up 117 violation points during a health inspection, topping the 109 violations its first branch accumulated in August last year.
The City Health Department temporarily shuttered the restaurant for violations including lack of washing facilities near the food preparation area and toilet, and storing food in sub-optimal temperatures.
Kabayan 2 was opened shortly after its first branch, located on Queens Boulevard, was closed also following a health inspection.
Inspectors found out that the owner of the restaurant failed to obtain licenses for walk-in freezers and refrigerators on top of finding mice and flies in food and non-food areas.
An illegally-constructed hut was also found at the back of the restaurant. It was demolished as it was constructed without a building permit.
Despite the previous ruling, the owner of Kabayan opened the Roosevelt Avenue location. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Another Pinay falls to death while cleaning window in HK

A Filipina fell to her death while cleaning the window of her seventh-floor flat in Hong Kong, according to a report on EJ Insight.
Citing Chinese language sites and Headline Daily, the report stated that the Filipina, 30, was found on a second-floor balcony after falling from her flat in the Mong Kok district.
Her Pakistani partner called the police after learning of her accident. She was pronounced dead at the Kwong Wah Hospital after efforts to resuscitate her failed, according to a South China Morning Post report.
The reports said police found no signs of foul play in their initial investigation, and classified the incident as an accident.
No reason has been given on why the woman, said to posses a temporary ID or form of recognizance while living with her boyfriend, was cleaning the windows of her flat in a way that would've caused her to fall.
The Philippines and Hong Kong have agreed on a window cleaning ban after several Filipino domestic helpers fell while cleaning the exterior of their employer's flat in high-rise buildings.
While contracts signed on or before December 31, 2016 were not affected by the ban, the order mandates employers or a representative to supervise the helper at all times and have window grilles installed during the cleaning process.
The SCMP noted that at least 11 people, including a Filipina and Indonesian domestic helpers, have accidentally fallen while cleaning windows or carrying out renovation work from high-rise buildings since 2015. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Number of abandoned Filipino babies in Middle East on the rise

The reason? Women who get pregnant but can't produce a marriage certificate face detention.
Jojo Dass, The Filipino Times
Published 9:55 AM, May 19, 2017
Updated 10:01 AM, May 19, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Cases of infants abandoned by their Filipina mothers after birth in hospitals in the Middle East are on the rise, an official from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.
“Medyo dumarami (It’s slightly increasing),” Social Welfare Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin told The Filipino Times (TFT) in a phone interview from Abu Dhabi. “There’s an increasing trend of abandoned children or what is called ‘love cases.’” (It’s increasing. There’s an increasing trend of abandoned children or what is called love cases.)
“Base sa interview namin, sila siguro’y may asawa sa Pilipinas, peronagka-ayusan dito, nagka-anak, di pwedeng ikasal at pwedeng makulong,” said Gudmalin, DSWD Undersecretary for Exigent Concerns. (Based on our interview, they must have a husband in the Philippines but found somebody here and had a child. They cannot get married because they can go to jail.)
“Kung wala ka kasing marriage certificate, kulong ka. Kaya yung iba, di pumupunta na ospital. Sa bahay na lang nanganganak. Siyempre, may nagkakakumplikasyon. May namamatay.” (Because here, if you don’t have a marriage certificate, you’ll go to jail. So some do not go to hospital for labor, they do it at home. Of course, sometimes there are complications. Some die.)
But some manage to give birth in hospitals where they are led straight to the delivery room without being asked for proper identification. “‘Pag emergency na kasi, inaadmit agad, putok na panubigan, eh,” he said. (Because during emergencies, they admit you immediately.)
“Ang ginagawa para 'di makulong, after manganak sa ospital, aalis agad yung ina. Unang tumatakas ang tatay. 'Yun ang 'di maganda. Alam naman nila na ‘pag may asawa, ang ginagawa nila ay immoral; at kapag inabandon, lalo lang pinalalaki ang kasalanan,” Gudmalin added.
(What they do to avoid getting jailed is that the parents leave the hospital immediately after giving birth. The first to escape is the father. That’s not good because here, adultery is immoral, and when you abandon a child, you’re only making your sin worse.)
Gudmalin said that these parents usually leave the country while the baby stays and is cared for in the hospital. The embassy or consulate as well as the police are informed for documentation purposes.
Love cases
Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Constancio R. Vingno Jr said he was saddened by the abandonment cases. “Alam mo naman ang tama at mali. Magkasabay nga lang kayo sa daan, may immorality issue. What more kung nabuntis ka?” he said. (You know what’s right and wrong. Just walking on the streets together here can already be seen as immoral, what more if you got pregnant?)
“It’s not allowed. Why risk being jailed? These are the things we should be mindful of – know the rules of the host country and abide by them.”
He said the embassy has one active abandonment case so far this year. “Kukuha daw ng marriage certificate ‘yung ina kasi siyempre hinahanapan ng proof of marriage; hindi na bumalik (sa ospital),” he said. (The mother said that she was going to get her marriage certificate when she was asked for one but never came back to the hospital.)
More in Dubai
The figure is much higher in Dubai, where Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes said they have up to 10 such cases recorded from January this year alone – including children of jailed parents.
There were 14 abandoned Filipino children in the UAE two years ago; last year, there were 7, according to records at the DSWD obtained by TFT. But Gudmalin said he was still updating this data.
Officials said the actual number could be higher as it does not include babies born in the flats and villas who have been left by their mothers with friends.
Cortes echoed Gudmalin’s earlier statement, saying that because they do not have a marriage certificate to present to hospitals, many opt to give birth at home.
But he also said this is a dangerous option. “Siyempre, may nagkakakumplikasyon. May namamatay. Marami tayong cases na ganyan,” he said, without releasing actual figures. (Of course there are complications and some die. We have a lot of cases like that.)
Gudmalin, who was on the UAE leg of his Middle East trip early May for an assessment of the situation of overseas Filipinos in the region, said the embassy and the consulate usually arrange for the baby’s release from hospital care.
Gudmalin said that because there is no way to go after the parents, the abandoned child is given up for adoption at the DSWD office in Manila after repatriation, “unless the biological parents show up and claim the child.”
“Inaayos dito ng Philippine Consulate General (PCG) ang papeles ng bata in coordination with DSWD Manila,” Cortes said, adding that PCG shoulders the cost. (The PCG fixes the child’s documents in coordination with DSWD Manila.)
Gudmalin said that parents usually don’t show up.
“Sinusubaybayan naman nila. Kung nasa magandang kalagayan naman ang kanilang anak, pinababayaan na nila kasi mayroon silang iba pang pananagutan,” he said. (But they monitor them. If the kid’s in good condition, they usually just leave them already because they have other commitments,)
Report an abandoned child to the police
So, what should you do if you come across an abandoned child?
Report the matter (or convince the foster parent to report) to the police so that proper assistance can be arranged.
This is according to lawyer Barney Almazar of Gulf Law who said that it is "in the best interest of the child to have his stay in the country legalized.”
Almazar said the abandoned child should be turned over to authorities because he is not registered and has no birth certificate. “Even our government can’t do anything unless the parents accept the punishment for sex outside marriage, which rarely happens,” he said.
Moreover, those who have abandoned children under their care can be held liable for certain UAE penal and immigration laws.
“The child is being deprived,” said Almazar. “It’s the child’s right to have a nationality, to have a passport, to go to school,” he said.
Isabel Sy Nillas, social welfare attaché for UAE and Qatar, said she does not condone the practice nor does she pass judgment on the erring mother. “They have their own reasons for doing so and it has to be respected,” she said.
But she encouraged mothers who abandoned their children to surrender to the DSWD to declare the child legally free for adoption. –
This story was republished with permission from The Filipino Times, a Dubai-bases news outfit.

Manchester suicide bomber likely did not act alone, Britain says

Michael Holden and Andy Bruce, Reuters
Posted at May 24 2017 09:43 PM
MANCHESTER - The suicide bomber who killed 22 people including children in Manchester likely did not act alone, Britain's interior minister said on Wednesday as soldiers were being deployed to key sites to help prevent further attacks.
The official threat level was raised late on Tuesday to its highest level, "critical", meaning an attack is expected imminently.
Police have named British-born Salman Abedi, 22, as the perpetrator of the bombing at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of a concert by US pop singer Ariana Grande on Monday, attended by thousands of children and teenagers.
"It seems likely, possible, that he wasn't doing this on his own," interior minister Amber Rudd told BBC radio.
Rudd also said Abedi had been known to security services before the bombing.
She said up to 3,800 soldiers would be deployed on Britain's streets, freeing up police officers to carry out patrols and investigatory work.
The identities of the victims were becoming known little by little. They included an eight-year-old girl, two teenage girls and a 28-year-old man. A Polish couple who had come to collect their daughters after the concert also died, Poland's foreign minister said. The daughters were safe.
The bombing also left more than 60 people wounded, some with life-threatening injuries.
"We are now treating 64 individuals ... of those, approximately 20 are receiving critical care, that means very urgent care," Jon Rouse, chief officer for health and social care services in the Greater Manchester area, told Sky News.
"There is damage to major organs, major injuries in terms of limbs and some of these individuals are going to need very long-term care and support. These are highly traumatic injuries."
The Manchester attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London's transport network.
US security sources, citing British intelligence officials, said Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994 to parents of Libyan origin.
Rudd told the BBC she believed Abedi had recently returned from Libya, and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said British investigators had told French authorities Abedi had probably travelled to Syria as well.
As Collomb was speaking in France, Rudd was asked by the BBC about the fact that lots of information about Abedi, including his name, had come out from the United States and whether she would look again at information-sharing with other countries.
"Yes, quite frankly. I mean the British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that should not happen again."
Asked whether the US leaks had compromised the investigation, she said: "I wouldn't go that far but I can say that they are perfectly clear about the situation and that it shouldn't happen again."
Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday it was possible a wider group was linked to the bombing, prompting the deployment of troops a little more than two weeks before a June 8 national election.
An independent body which sets the threat level recommended it be raised to "critical" from "severe" for the first time since June 2007.
"This means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent," May said in a televised statement from her Downing Street Office.
"Armed police officers responsible for duties such as guarding key sites will be replaced by members of the armed forces ... You might also see military personnel deployed at certain events, such as concerts and sports matches."
Attacks in cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St. Petersburg, Berlin and London have shocked Europeans already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration and pockets of domestic Islamic radicalism.
Islamic State, now being driven from territories in Syria and Iraq by Western-backed armed forces, claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack, but there appeared to be contradictions in its account of the operation.
The militant group has repeatedly called for attacks on Western countries as retaliation for their involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
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