ASG kills 1, kidnaps 6 off Tawi-Tawi

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) rebels hijacked a cargo ship off the province of Tawi-Tawi, killing one Vietnamese crew and abducted six sailors before escaping to the open sea. An interpreter interviewed the Vietnamese sailors, but details of this were not immediately available, although security forces in the area have been alerted on the abductions. It was not immediately known whether Abdullah or any of the gunmen participated in the hijacking of the Vietnamese ship. Last January, a group of Abu Sayyaf rebels attempted to hijack a Filipino cargo ship while sailing off Basilan province. Manila also allowed Indonesia to do the same following the spate of Abu Sayyaf attacks on its tugboats in Sabah and Tawi-Tawi.

February 20, 2017 14:20 UTC

‘Mass media is missing link to effect change’

TOKYO: A group based here, advocating productivity in Asia, has tapped mass media to disseminate information on technologies and best practices in private business and government services. The main purpose of the study tour is to engage mass media practitioners in productivity promotion in their respective countries. Thus, many SMEs fail to scale up and sustain their operations in an increasingly competitive business environment dominated by big businesses,” he noted. Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn, APO secretary-general, said even big businesses could fold up if they fail to adapt to rapid changes, particularly on advances in technologies. According to him, many of the emerging big businesses are Internet-based like Uber, Amazon, Airbnb and Panasonic Robotic.

February 20, 2017 14:20 UTC

Sugar farmers urged to be competitive

BACOLOD CITY: Faced with threats from cheaper imported sugar substitutes like the high fructose corn syrup, local sugar producers were challenged by Sen. Cynthia Villar to be more competitive. Speaking during Farmers’ Day in Bago City, Negros Occidental, Villar said local producers “should strive to get ahead” to overcome the challenges to the sugar industry. “I will support anything that will help the sugar industry,” she added. Sugar industry leaders claimed the massive importation of HFCS threatens the financial viability of the local sugar industry. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Sugar Order shall subject the importer or consignee to the penalties provided under Sugar Order No.

February 20, 2017 14:15 UTC

Dengue claims 4 in Negros

BACOLOD CITY: The dreaded dengue hemorrhagic fever claimed two lives in this capital city and two more in the cities of Escalante and San Carlos in Negros Occidental. Some of the patients were unable to get medical attention because of financial constraints. “When the patients get admitted to the hospital, they were already having complications,” Tan said. She advised parents and guardians to give children adequate rest, enough food and fluids, and vitamins. Those with cough and cold with fever must be brought to the nearest clinic for a checkup, Tan advised.

February 20, 2017 14:06 UTC

Excavations around power lines in Cagayan stopped

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was issued in favor of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) against Deltra Multi Corporation (DMC) to stop an ongoing excavation detrimental to the power transmission line structure supplying Cagayan and Apayao provinces. The TRO also allowed the NGCP to enter the property to inspect and conduct corrective works on the structures. The NGCP said the DMC has excavated the land to develop its property which puts the transmission facilities in a very vulnerable position. Meanwhile, the grid operator said it will request for 20 days TRO extension to conduct clearing of the growing bamboo grove that might obstruct the transmission line within the DMC property. The NGCP said DMC should course the issue through appropriate legal avenues instead of disrupting the operations.

February 20, 2017 14:06 UTC

Teen rebel slain in Zamboanga clash

ZAMBOANGA CITY: A young communist fighter – Jaboy Pruto, 16, – was killed in a clash with government troops in the town of Lakewood, in Zamboanga del Sur on Sunday. Senior Supt. Avelmar Renan Garambas, the town’s police chief, said soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Battalion tracked down a band of New People’s Army (NPA) in the village of Gasa that triggered a clash. He said the body of Pruto was recovered after the firefight. There was no immediate statement from the NPA, but police said it has ordered a tight security in the town to protect civilians from possible retaliation of the rebels.

February 20, 2017 14:06 UTC

Ex-Antique mayor faces graft case

The Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Mayor Mary Joyce Roquero of Valderrama, Antique over the alleged anomalous lease of sound system for a festival. In three separate charge sheets, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Gian Carla Hernal alleged that the respondent gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Jubilee Super Sounds. It accused Roquero of “leasing or causing the lease of sound system from Jubilee Super Sounds” — which was supposedly owned by her son — for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Panubason Festival “without the benefit of public bidding in violation of the public policy and statutory mandate that all government procurement shall be done through competitive public bidding.”The Ombudsman recommended a total of P90,000 bail for Roquero.

February 20, 2017 14:03 UTC

Malaysia summons envoy as Kim killing row deepens

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia summoned the North Korean ambassador on Monday for a dressing-down over Pyongyang’s attack on its investigation into the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Nam’s brother, deepening a diplomatic row. Malaysia recalled its envoy to Pyongyang and summoned the North Korean ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, who was told his accusation was “baseless,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Officers have already arrested one North Korean living in Kuala Lumpur, an Indonesian woman and her Malaysian boyfriend, as well as a Vietnamese woman. At least three of four North Korean men at large took a flight from Jakarta to Dubai on the evening of the murder, an Indonesian immigration official said. He was once thought to be the natural successor to his father, the then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

February 20, 2017 13:35 UTC

South Sudan declares famine; 5M hungry

JUBA: South Sudan’s government said Monday that the country’s over three-year war has led to famine in parts of the nation, while nearly five million people—half the population—is going hungry. The famine classification is according to an internationally recognized sliding scale of hunger in which an extreme lack of food has lead to starvation and death. “The main tragedy of the report that has been launched today… is that the problem is man made,” said Eugene Owusu, the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan. War broke out in oil-rich South Sudan in 2013, just two years following its independence, after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. An August 2015 peace deal, which led to the formation of a unity government, was left in tatters when fighting broke out in Juba in July last year.

February 20, 2017 13:35 UTC

Iraq forces converge on Mosul airport

OREIJ, Iraq: Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State group’s stronghold in the city’s west bank. Elite units trained for urban warfare are expected to move into west Mosul at a later stage. According to a top army commander coordinating the operation, Abdulamir Yarallah, Iraqi forces retook 15 villages on three different fronts converging towards the airport. More than half a million residents stayed home when Iraqi forces entered east Mosul to battle IS there, leading to smaller displacement than initially feared. But the aid community said the assault on west Mosul could cause a bigger exodus.

February 20, 2017 13:35 UTC

Leftover IS bomb kills three child shepherds in Iraq

HABBANIYAH, Iraq: Three child shepherds were killed in western Iraq on Sunday when one of them stepped on a roadside bomb planted by the Islamic State group, local officials said. The victims, aged between nine and 13, were believed herding sheep when the bomb exploded under them, just north of Al-Baghdadi. “They died on the spot. A police unit went to the site of the explosion and brought their bodies to the morgue,” a local police major said. Unexploded ordnance in retaken areas kills civilians and security forces on a regular basis and is a major obstacle to reconstruction.

February 20, 2017 12:56 UTC

Philippines: Vietnamese ship attacked; 1 dead, 6 abducted

MANILA, Philippines — Gunmen attacked a Vietnamese cargo ship off the Philippines' southern tip, killing a Vietnamese crewman and abducting six others including the vessel's captain, the Philippine coast guard and the ship's owner said Monday. Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the Vietnamese coast guard reported that the MV Giang Hai, with 17 crewmen on board, was attacked by pirates Sunday night about 20 miles (31 kilometers) north of Pearl Bank in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines' southernmost province. Personnel of the Philippine coast guard, police and marines found the ship had drifted near the province's Baguan Island. Abu Sayyaf militants and allied gunmen are suspected of being behind previous sea assaults in the area, including an attack last November on another Vietnamese cargo ship whose captain and five crewmen were also kidnapped. Ransom kidnappings of Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese crewmen have continued despite heightened coastal and border security.

February 20, 2017 12:41 UTC

Post-Valentine thoughts

He warned me not to be so preoccupied with thoughts and “feelings” of love because, in his very own words, “Love is just a concept. Nevertheless, I gained a new perspective on Valentine’s Day. How my Father loves me is integral to my view of love and God’s love. (Parents, do know that your children’s view of God is influenced by how they view the Father in the family. Let me know your thoughts please.

February 20, 2017 12:16 UTC

Police bares new suspects in Jee killing

THE anti-kidnapping group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will include two more persons in the list of principal suspects in the kidnap-slaying of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, a ranking police official said on Monday. Glenn Dumlao, commander of the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) however refused to identify the new suspects. He also did not say if they were members of the PNP or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The suspects will be identified in the preliminary investigation to be conducted next week, he said. Jee was abducted from his home in Angeles City, Pampanga on October 18, 2016 under the guise of a legitimate Oplan Tokhang.

February 20, 2017 11:39 UTC

Pirates kill Vietnamese sailor, kidnap six others

MANILA: Pirates have attacked a Vietnamese-flagged cargo ship off the southern Philippines, killing one seaman and abducting at least six others in a region notorious for such attacks, officials said on Monday. The MV Giang Hai was attacked by pirates on Sunday near the southernmost Philippine island of Baguan near the Malaysian coast, said coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo. Philippine coast guard speedboats reached the scene but found one Vietnamese dead and at least six others abducted, said military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo. Maritime officials have warned of an emerging “Somalia-type” situation in the waters if the attacks are not addressed. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said earlier this month that his country plans to ask longstanding defense ally the United States to hold joint exercises in the southern waters.

February 20, 2017 11:37 UTC

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