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Umapad Mandaue-an amateur singing competition, Contestants will take the stage at sitio lemosito in barangay umapad to perform in front of their community and a panel of judges.
|Posted on June 23, 2016 at 9:10 PM||comments (0)|
By Reggie R. Vistal
Published June 24, 2016 4:45am
JAKARTA/MANILA - Southeast Asian militants who claim to be fighting for Islamic State in the Middle East have said they have chosen one of the most wanted men in the Philippines to head a regional faction of the ultra-radical group, security officials said on Thursday.
The claim was made in a video that was recently posted on social media, possibly last week, a military intelligence official in the Philippines told Reuters.
The video is significant, experts say, because it shows that Islamic State supporters are now being asked to stay home and unify under one umbrella group to launch attacks in Southeast Asia, instead of being drawn to the fight in the Middle East.
Authorities in the region have been on heightened alert since Islamic State claimed an attack in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January in which eight people were killed, including four of the attackers.
In the 20-minute video seen by Reuters, young men and some children in military fatigues are shown carrying and training with weapons, and holding Islamic State flags. A section of the video showed some of these men engaging in gunbattles in jungles but it was not clear where and with whom.
The video also showed three men apparently being executed, but it was not clear where and who they were.
The authenticity of the video and when it was taken could not be independently verified.
In the video, a man authorities in Malaysia have identified as Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, says in Malay: "If you cannot go to (Syria), join up and go to the Philippines."
In the video, Udin also urges Muslims to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah, a Philippine militant leader who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January.
Abu Abdullah, also known as Isnilon Hapilon, is a leader of the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf. He is on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in the kidnapping of 17 Filipinos and three Americans in 2001 and carries a bounty of $5 million.
The video was released to mark Islamic State's acceptance of allegiances from jihadists in the Philippines, the first formal recognition of a Southeast Asian group, said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, chief of Malaysia's police counter-terrorism unit.
"This video is not just propaganda, but is a serious threat. We are definitely expecting more attacks in this region," Pitchay told Reuters.
Hapilon is known to be based in the interior hills of the island of Basilan in the Mindanao region of the southern Philippines. In April, at least 18 Philippine soldiers were killed and 53 wounded in an attack on his followers on the island.
For decades, Abu Sayyaf has been known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, and is one of the most brutal Muslim rebel factions in the south of the largely Christian Philippines.
The group has posted videos on social media sites this year pledging allegiance to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
The latest video appears aimed at recognising Hapilon as the Southeast Asian leader of the group, anti-terrorism experts said.
"I think this is a very significant video," said Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based security expert. "This acknowledges support from Indonesia and Malaysia."
"It suggests there will be more efforts to get people to actually go to Mindanao to launch operations from there."
The Jakarta attacks in January were claimed by Islamic State. But the attack did not bear the hallmarks of other spectacular strikes by the radical group - the militants lacked sophisticated weaponry and were amateurish in the execution.
Some security officials fear a more organised and better trained militant group could launch far deadlier attacks in the region.
But Philippine military officials dismissed these concerns, saying the video was just propaganda and should be ignored.
"People should not be bothered by this," said Philippine military spokesman Restituto Padilla "Authorities are working on this. They can be identified, and they can be hunted down." — Reuters
|Posted on June 20, 2016 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
By ERIC TUCKER and MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press
Jun. 20, 2016 5:51 PM ET
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando gunman Omar Mateen identified himself as an Islamic soldier in calls with authorities during his rampage and demanded to a crisis negotiator that the U.S. "stop bombing Syria and Iraq," according to transcripts released by the FBI on Monday.
Ronald Hopper, FBI assistant special agent in charge, right, speaks during a news conference with updates about the recent mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, Monday, June 20, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. Orlando gunman Omar Mateen identified himself as an Islamic soldier in calls with authorities during his rampage and demanded to a crisis negotiator that the U.S. "stop bombing Syria and Iraq," according to transcripts released by the FBI on Monday. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
APImages.com More photos »
The partial transcripts were of a 911 call made by Mateen and three conversations he had with the police crisis negotiators during the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, in which 49 people died and dozens were wounded.
Those communications, along with Facebook posts and searches Mateen made around the time of the shootings, add to the public understanding of the final hours of Mateen's life and to the possible motivations behind the rampage.
The first call came more than a half-hour after shots rang out, when Mateen told a 911 operator, "Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God," he told the dispatcher, referring to God in Arabic.
"I let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings."
During the 50-second call with a dispatcher, Mateen "made murderous statements in a "chilling, calm and deliberate manner," Ronald Hopper, FBI assistant special agent in charge in Orlando, said during a news conference.
However, there is no evidence Mateen was directed by a foreign terrorist group, and he was radicalized domestically and on his own, Hopper said.
Mateen's name and the groups and people to whom he pledged allegiance were initially omitted from the excerpt. But the Justice Department reversed course later Monday, providing a more complete transcript confirming Mateen pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. The extremist group encourages its followers who seek to commit violence in its name to make public pledges of support.
The Justice Department said in a statement it initially withheld the names so as not to give extremists "a publicity platform for hateful propaganda," but the omissions became an unnecessary distraction.
Shortly after the call with a 911 operator, Mateen had three conversations with crisis negotiators in which he identified himself as an Islamic soldier and told a negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. He said that was why he was "out here right now," according to the excerpt.
City officials have refused to provide hundreds of 911 calls to The Associated Press and a coalition of news organizations, citing confidentiality under Florida law, and arguing that an ongoing investigation kept the tapes secret. Hopper also said Monday that the tapes would not be released out of respect for the victims.
"Yes, the audio was compelling, but to expose that now would be excruciatingly painful to exploit them in this way," Hopper said.
Hopper also said: "Part of redacting is to not give credence to individuals who have done terrorist acts in the past. They are not going to propagate their violent rhetoric."
The AP and others requested the 911 tapes and related data, a common practice after such major events. The recordings could offer insight into how law enforcement responded.
Also at Monday's news conference, Orlando police Chief John Mina said that if any fire from responding officers hit victims at the club, gunman Mateen bears the responsibility. He wouldn't give further details but said: "Here's what I will tell you. Those killings are on the suspect, on the suspect alone in my mind." He stressed that the officers "acted heroically."
Mina acknowledged that questions have been raised by media outlets and the public about whether Orlando police waited too long after the start of the rampage at 2 a.m. to send in a SWAT team about 5 a.m.
He said an exchange of fire between police and Mateen shortly after 2 a.m. prompted the attacker to retreat into a bathroom and take hostages, shifting the incident from a shooting to a hostage-taking. Mina said there was no additional gunfire for about three hours until the SWAT team entered the building, although survivors have describing at least some firing taking place inside one of the bathrooms.
Surviving hostage Patience Carter, in a live televised interview two days after the attacks, described the attacker firing when he entered the bathroom and more firing when the SWAT team burst into the building.
"I think there's this misconception that we didn't do anything for three hours," Mina said. "I'm trying to clarify: That's absolutely not true. Our officers were within the club within minutes, exchanging gunfire with the suspect, forced him to stop shooting and retreat into the bathroom."
"From there, we let our negotiator take over and try to negotiate this to a peaceful resolution in an effort to save lives while our SWAT team set up," Mina said.
Meanwhile, hospital officials said four people remained in critical condition Monday morning, more than a week after they were wounded in the attack.
Orlando Regional Medical Center said 18 victims from the shooting were still at the hospital and three more surgeries were scheduled for Monday. The other 14 patients are listed in stable condition.
Armed with a semi-automatic weapon, Mateen went on a bloody rampage at the Pulse nightclub June 12. He died in a hail of gunfire after police stormed the venue.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch will travel to Orlando on Tuesday to meet with investigators. She said that a key goal of the investigation was to determine why Mateen targeted the gay community. The victims were predominantly gay and Hispanic since it was "Latin night" at Pulse.
Around Orlando, people left balloons, flowers, pictures and posters at a makeshift memorial in front of the city's new performing arts center and at Orlando Regional Medical Center where 49 white crosses were emblazoned with red hearts and the names of the victims.
The crosses were built by a Chicago carpenter with a history of constructing crosses for victims of mass shootings. Greg Zanis drove from Illinois to Orlando last week and installed the crosses at the medical center, where many of the 53 shooting victims who survived were taken for treatment.
Dr. Khurshid Ahmed was part of a group of Muslim-Americans at a Sunday vigil attended by tens of thousands who held signs reading, "Muslims Condemn Extremism." A letter from the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, said Mateen wrote on Facebook that "real Muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the West."
|Posted on June 20, 2016 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
Former Senate President Ernesto Maceda has passed on, GMA News' Saleema Refran reported on Monday night.
According to the late lawmaker's family, Maceda succumbed to multiple organ failure at 8:58 p.m.
He was 81.
His remains will lie in state at the Mount Carmel church in New Manila, starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
Interment will be on Saturday at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina after a 9 a.m. mass at Mount Carmel.
Maceda was in critical condition due to post-surgery complication, his son said Monday afternoon.
Lawyer Ernesto Maceda Jr. said the former senator underwent surgery and was still conscious after the procedure but his condition went downhill since then.
"In fact, he was wearing a t-shirt this morning rooting for Golden State Warriors but sadly because of post surgery complication, his condition became quite difficult," he said in a television interview.
Ernesto Madarang Maceda, 81, was considered one of the heavyweights in the Senate during the 1990's because of brilliance and eloquence in speeches and debates.
He also earned the monicker Mr. Expose after he bared in the Senate scams in government and other irregularities.
Maceda was among then-President Corazon Aquino's senatorial candidates who dominated the 1987 elections, the first congressional and local polls after the Edsa Revolution.
He was one of the "Magnificent 12" senators who voted against the RP-US Bases Treaty in 1991. The agreement would have extended American control such as the Clark Air Base and the Subic Naval Base.
Maceda was reelected in 1992. He became Senate President in 1996.
Due to the constitutional term limit barring a third consecutive term, Maceda ran for mayor of Manila in 1998 but lost.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said in a Monday night statement that he was saddened by Maceda's death.
"Manong Ernie served the nation in various capacities and lived through historic moments in our nation's history, mostly as an active participant but never as a spectator," added Binay. "Manong Ernie will be sorely missed by his family, his friends in government and politics, and those who valued and appreciated his work for the nation."
Senate President Franklin Drilon, in his own statement, expressed his sorrow and recalled the time when he shared the Senate floor with Maceda.
"I have known him as a tireless worker and a very 'hands-on' Senate President, whose unique zeal and work ethic had led to many important laws that benefited our people," said Drilon. "I am proud to have worked alongside such a distinguished public servant. He will remain an inspiration to all of us."
Maceda first stepped into the halls of Senate as a young politician in 1971.
He started in the politics at a young age of 23 when he was elected as the Number One councilor of Manila in 1959.
Ferdinand Marcos appointed him as Secretary of Community Development when he was 29 years old.
Three years later, he was appointed as executive secretary in concurrent capacity as chairman of the commission on reorganization.
He also handled the commerce and industry portfolio where he launched consumer protection programs and established trade relations with various Eastern European Social countries.
Maceda distanced self from Marcos when the latter declared Martial law.
The senator went on exile in the United States and became the aide and adviser of the opposition leader Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
He accompanied Mrs. Corazon Aquino on the flight from Boston to Manila when Aquino was assassinated in 1983.
He was one of the leaders of the opposition during the 1984 Batasan Pambansa campaign and the 1986 snap elections.
When the Marcos regime was finally over, Corazon Aquino appointed him as minister of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Maceda graduated magna cum laude, Associate in Arts in 1952, and cum laude and valedictorian, Bachelor of Laws in 1956, both at the Ateneo de Manila University.
He received his Master of Laws with distinction in 1957 at Harvard Law School.
Maceda is married to Marichu Vera-Perez and they have four children. —Trisha Macas/NB, GMA News
|Posted on June 20, 2016 at 1:15 AM||comments (0)|
Published June 20, 2016 10:40am
Updated June 20, 2016 11:30am
OAKLAND, Calif. - LeBron James powered the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday in an electrifying Game Seven to complete an improbable comeback unlike any seen before and capture their first NBA championship.
With the victory over the top-seeded Warriors, who beat Cleveland in last year's championship, the Cavaliers became the first team to rally from a 3-1 series deficit in the best-of-seven NBA Finals and win the title.
"I've had goal for two years since I came back to bring a championship to the city," said an emotional James, who returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 after a four-year stint with Miami that included a pair of NBA championships.
"I gave it everything that I had. I poured my heart, my blood, my sweat and my tears into this game."
James led Cleveland in the championship-clinching with a triple-double as he scored 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 assists en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals.
The win ends decades of heartbreak for the city of Cleveland, which had not won a professional sports championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.
For James, the win not only marks his third NBA title, but it will go down as the single greatest achievement of his storied career as it fulfills his promise to deliver a title to his home state of Ohio.
"I understand what everyone in northeastern Ohio have been through the last 50-plus years and I am happy to be a part of history," said James, who was in tears as he wrapped his arms around the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. "I can't wait to get back home. I am ready to get to you guys."
The back-and-forth game lived up to its billing as it was tight throughout and included 20 lead changes while no team was able to pull ahead by more than eight points.
Facing elimination in each of their previous two games, James carried the Cavs back from the brink as they became only the third team to force a Game Seven after falling behind 3-1 in the championship round.
For the Warriors, who had a record 73 wins during the 82-game regular season, Sunday's defeat marked the first time since November 2013 that they have lost three consecutive games.
The Warriors were in complete control of the series but were ultimately undone by the disappearance of their high-octane offense, a suspension to defensive stalwart Draymond Green, a season-ending injury to rim-protecting center Andrew Bogut and defensive specialist Andre Iguodala dealing with a balky back.
"I knew what we were capable of, even being down 3-1 versus the greatest regular season team ever," said James.
"Everybody counted us out and that's when we strived the most and that's definitely when I strived the most when everybody counted me out."
After a record smashing regular season the Warriors could not cap off the campaign with a second successive title, unable to deliver the knockout punch after going up 3-1 in the best-of-season series.
"Just an incredible run that obviously didn't end the way we wanted it to," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "It's been an incredible two-year run. We're disappointed that it didn't go our way at the end, but that's life." — Reuters
|Posted on June 17, 2016 at 8:40 PM||comments (0)|
Chino Gaston/Jessica Bartolome
Published June 17, 2016 10:19pm
Updated June 18, 2016 7:34am
AFTER MAY 9 POLLS
PNP: Number of suspected drug dealers killed up by 200%
Police on Friday said the number of suspected drug dealers who ended up dead increased by about 200 percent after the May 9 elections.
The Philippine National Police said that a total of 39 suspected drug pushers were killed from January to May 9.
From May 9 until the end of the same month, 29 suspected pushers were killed.
The fatalities were killed in anti-illegal drugs missions launched by the police.
The number of arrested suspects also increased by 8 percent after the elections.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor clarified that the data cited was still not conclusive and that the numbers were just an estimate between four months before the elections and one month after.
"Hindi 'yan conclusive kasi kumbaga in-estimate lang namin iyong January to May 9. Iyong coverage niya in-average mo as compared to during the time after elections... Ang mapapakita natin doon, there is an increase after, as compared to the averaging per month," he explained.
Killed in shootouts
Mayor said the deaths recorded were due to shootouts that occurred during the operation.
"The reason why the suspects were killed is because they engaged in a shootout between the law enforcers and the suspects," he said.
"And based also on reports of circumstances surrounding the incident, it will appear that there is imminent danger on the part of law enforcers," he added.
The PNP spokesman further explained that they could not say if the increase in numbers is due to the pronouncements made by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, and Chief Superintendent Roland "Bato" dela Rosa that they prefer to eliminate drug lords and suspects in drug-related crimes.
Dela Rosa has been chosen by Duterte to head the PNP when he takes his seat in Malacañang on June 30.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), meanwhile, expressed alarm over the rising numbers of criminals killed.
The agency has formed a task force for extrajudicial killings, the report said.
Chito Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, warned law enforcers against engaging in summary executions.
"Kung ang mga napapatay ay sang-ayon lang sa sabihin natin sa lawful police operation at lumaban...ibang usapin yun kung ang nangyayari ay in the nature of summary of execution," Gascon said. —Chino Gaston/Jessica Bartolome/APG, GMA News
|Posted on June 16, 2016 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Jun 16 2016 10:10 PM
A U.S. Navy Boeing EA-18G Growler belonging to the VX-9 Vampires carrying a payload of external fuel tanks and missiles. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Ian C. Anderson/File
The United States Navy 7th Fleet has announced that four EA-18G Growler aircraft and 120 personnel arrived Wednesday at Clark Air Base, to fulfill a two-fold mission of joint training with Philippine Air Force pilots of the FA-50 fighter jets, and to help in maritime domain awareness operations in region.
The EA-18G Growler is a fighter-attack jet capable of conducting air-to-air or air-to-ground combat. It is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, but the Growler is far more than just that. Growlers are specifically designed for electronic warfare.
"The EA-18G combines the capability of the combat-proven Super Hornet with the latest AEA (airborne electronic attack) avionics suite," the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command website said.
It also lists the Growler's capabilities:
- suppression of enemy air defenses, using both reactive and preemptive jamming techniques;
- stand-off and escort jamming, or jamming either within a specific area or while moving as an escort of another aircraft or vessel;
- non-traditional electronic attack, described as "dramatically enhanced situational awareness and uninterrupted communications," enabling "a higher degree of integration with ground operations";
- self-protect and time-critical strike support, or having available self-protection measures ranging from air-to-air missiles, digital data links, and an advanced electronically scanner array (AESA).
The Philippines is hosting the temporary detachment at the former U.S. airbase of Clark, a two-hour drive north of Manila.
Aircraft assigned to the United States Navy 7th Fleet's Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 fly in formation during an air power demonstration over the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) somewhere over the West Philippine Sea in this April 25, 2016 file photo. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang/handout
The Growlers are expected to support maritime patrols that the United States has begun conducting as a countermeasure to China's aggressive moves in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
In the past few months, the American forces have increased their visibility in the Philippines and in the disputed waters, sailing in the high seas despite China's claim that almost the entire South China Sea is its sovereign domain, with entire aircraft carrier groups and submarines making port of calls in the Philippines.
Military affairs analysts have said that these ports of call -- while on the surface are just temporary rest and recreation periods for the troops and a chance for the assets to refuel -- are actually meant to showcase a visiting nation's available military power in a particular area.
That entire aircraft carrier battle groups and submarines have been making ports of call to the Philippines have been interpreted as the U.S. letting its allies and adversaries know that these symbols of American military muscle are in need here.
China has reclaimed seven reefs in the disputed sea, with the massive island reclamation projects fitted with airstrips, helipads, and ports. The reclaimed areas also have radars, a feature that could be affected should the EA-18G Growlers operate in the disputed area and make use of their jamming systems.
READ: China to hold more military drills in disputed sea
The U.S. Embassy in Manila, in a press statement, said the contingent will train the Philippine Air Force's FA-50 pilots and support units for territorial defense operations (TDO), "specifically on maritime security operations."
It added that the training will expose Filipino pilots to "command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance."
According to the U.S. 7th Fleet, the Growlers are assigned to the VAQ-138 electronic attack squadron based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. The deployment is part of a contingent established by the U.S. Pacific command in April, with the approval of Washington and Manila.
Prior to the Growlers, five A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft, HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, and around 200 personnel were also deployed, but pulled out on April 28, 2016.