President Aquino admitted knowing about the police operation in Maguindanao that left 44 policemen dead last Sunday but would not identify who gave the go-signal for it. Last Sunday’s operation had been against a number of “high-value targets” that included fugitive Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan,who has a $5-million bounty on his head, and Basit Usman, but turned into a bloodbath when clashes erupted between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and separate forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Aquino also denied reports that suspended PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima had a hand in the operation.
The administration of De La Salle Santiago Zobel (DLSZ) school has raised the issue on the proposed color-coding scheme in a subdivision in Muntinlupa City to the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). Rex Daryanani, spokesman for the DLSZ Parents’ Association, said school administrators believe the traffic scheme to be implemented by the Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) is in violation of the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’ Associations. The traffic scheme aims to reduce the number of vehicles ferrying students to DLSZ.
The Supreme Court (SC) was asked yesterday to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from awarding a contract for the automated election system (AES) for next year’s polls to Smartmatic Corp. Poll watchdog Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) led other groups in seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the poll body from bidding out contracts for the 2016 polls involving Smartmatic. They accused the Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) consortium of misrepresenting certain information in its qualification statements when it submitted the single largest contract in the name of Smartmatic International Holdings, B.V. and/or a subsidiary of the latter, Smartmatic Deployment Corp., and in claiming that Jarltech International Corp. was its subsidiary. “Smartmatic-TIM failed to comply with the provisions of its automation contract with Comelec when it grossly misrepresented that it can provide the Comelec with a customized system, upgrades to and replacement of systems because it was not the owner of the PCOS technology,” read the petition.
The United States has been asked to verify whether or not police elite forces were able to neutralize Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, during the bloody encounter with Moro rebels in Maguindanao last Sunday. “Only the United States has the capability to verify the DNA through its vast database,” the source told The STAR. Although the police forces were unable to recover the suspect’s body, the team was able to take photographs of the person they believed to be Marwan, the high-value target being pursued by the Special Action Force (SAF).
The peace process must continue, but the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) must show its sincerity in wanting peace, President Aquino said last night. In a nationally televised address, the President said that at the minimum, the MILF must identify those who were involved in the slaughter of 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) who were trying to arrest two high-value terrorists last Sunday in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Calling the SAF men “heroes,” the President also said the guns and personal belongings of the dead must be returned. The MILF must also “step aside” as government forces continue to hunt down Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Filipino Abdul Basit Usman, Aquino said, even as he noted that Marwan might have been killed by the SAF team.
State auditors are questioning the more than P1.761 billion in unauthorized bonuses and allowances given in 2013 to officials and employees of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). In a report released yesterday, the Commission on Audit (COA) said the incentives were without legal basis. State auditors said PhilHealth’s decision to continue giving its officials and employees unauthorized allowances and bonuses despite the issuance of notices of disallowance (ND) for similar payments is questionable.
A Filipina was injured when the extremist Islamic State attacked a hotel in the Libyan capital Tripoli last Jan. 27 that killed at least 10 people, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. Citing a report of the embassy, Jose said the Filipina sustained gunshot wounds during the attack at Corinthia Hotel and was rushed to the Mitiga hospital where she immediately underwent surgery. Jose said the embassy has contacted major hospitals throughout Tripoli and coordinated with authorities in Libya to check if there are other Filipino casualties from the hotel attack. Gunmen stormed the luxury Corinthia Hotel on Tuesday in an attack claimed by the Tripoli branch of the Islamic State jihadist group, killing at least 10 people before blowing themselves up.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has created a national technical working group tasked to develop an assessment system for the K to 12 program. In a memorandum issued earlier this month, Education Secretary Armin Luistro designated Undersecretary for programs and projects Dina Ocampo as chairman of the national technical working group. Nelia Benito, director of the National Education Testing and Research Center, will be the vice chairman. “The group will formulate quality standards and protocols on assessment instruments development and administration, data processing, communication and utilization of assessment data,” the memorandum said.
Only by turning over to authorities those involved in the slaughter of 44 police commandos last Sunday by Muslim rebels can the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) prove its sincerity and commitment to peace in Mindanao, Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday. The same demand was made by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who stressed it was meant to calm “fired up emotions” and not to stoke passions. At the House of Representatives, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles urged the MILF to disarm and confine to quarters its men involved in the killing of the policemen. Drilon admitted that the deadly encounter in Mamasapano in Maguindanao, which left 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) dead, could lead to the scuttling of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is awaiting congressional approval.
The family of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude will seek the immediate resumption of trial proceedings in the murder case against US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton before the Olongapo City regional trial court (RTC). Lawyer Harry Roque Jr. said the Laude family would file today with the Olongapo RTC Branch 74 an urgent motion to arraign Pemberton following the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s affirmation of Pemberton’s indictment for murder.
The Senate has upheld the order issued by its Blue Ribbon committee to cite Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and five others in contempt and compel them to attend today’s hearing on the allegedly overpriced parking building constructed by the city government. The ruling was made after members of the Senate Committee on Rules met to discuss the issues raised by acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III about the validity of the meeting held by the Blue Ribbon committee on Monday and the order it subsequently issued against Binay and five others. Last Monday, Sotto questioned the procedure taken by the committee headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III in coming out with the contempt and detention orders against Binay and the five others. Yesterday, Binay avoided arrest again after the Senate sergeant-at-arms failed to serve the warrant on him and the city officials at the end of office hours.
The House of Representatives will stick to its timetable in passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) amid mounting calls to suspend deliberations on the proposal following last Sunday’s clashes in Maguindanao that left 44 policemen dead. “We might run out of time (to pass the BBL),” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said on calls to suspend deliberations of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL. Belmonte described as “abominable” the killing of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) operatives in Mamasapano town last Sunday. Almost 400 SAF members had been sent to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman.
The Israeli government has offered to provide the University of the Philippines with models of innovation start-ups and research assistance in water security and information and communication technology. The university said Israeli Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau discussed such a possibility with UP president Alfredo Pascual during their meeting last week. “Ambassador Matityau also briefed Pascual on Israel’s global initiative promoting an ‘ecosystem of innovation,’ including new agricultural technology,” the university said. The ambassador, along with other embassy officials, met with Pascual at the UP Diliman campus on Jan. 21 to discuss possible joint initiatives between Israel and UP.
Southeast Asian foreign ministers on Wednesday expressed concern at Chinese land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea, as the Philippines urged them to stand up to Beijing. The statement came after Manila warned fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a ministers' retreat in Malaysia that the 10-country grouping's credibility was at stake unless it dealt strongly with the "critical issue in our own backyard". "The retreat shared the concern raised by some foreign ministers on land reclamation in the South China Sea," said a statement by the gathering's host, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, following the two-day meeting.