Category Archives: Nation

5.4-magnitude quake hits Aurora; felt in Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – A magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit Aurora on Thursday morning, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Phivolcs said the earthquake occurred at 10:27 a.m. Its epicenter was located 17 kilometers northeast of Baler.

The quake, which was tectonic in origin, had a depth of 5 kms. The United States Geological Survey, meanwhile, measured the quake’s magnitude at 5.3.

Phivolcs said the following quake intensities were felt in these areas:

  • Intensity V – Baler, Aurora
  • Intensity IV -Palayan City, Cabiao, Bongabon and San Jose, Nueva Ecija; Santiago City, Isabela
  • Intensity III – Tarlac City; Cabanatuan City; Dagupan City; Cauayan City, Isabela; Infanta, Quezon; Mandaluyong City; Quezon City; Taguig
  • City; Pasay City; Antipolo City
  • Intensity II – Clemente, Tarlac; Aglipay and Maddela, Quirino; Manila City; Malolos City, Bulacan
  • Intensity I – Clark, Pampanga; Makati City

Aftershocks are expected from the quake, according to Phivolcs executive director Renato Solidum.

“Pwedeng magdulot ito ng aftershocks na most likely ang makakaramdam ay yung mga nasa epicenter na Aurora,” Solidum told dzMM.

Solidum also advised the public not to panic, as the quake only had a moderate strength. He added that a tsunami being generated by the quake is unlikely.

He said significant structural damage is not expected from the quake. However, he said weak buildings near the epicenter may still sustain minor cracks.

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Abu Sayyaf terrorists linked to Australian Warren Rodwell who was held hostage in the Philippines

FILIPINO police are preparing to swoop on key Abu Sayyaf terrorists after they were identified as being involved in the kidnapping of Warren Rodwell.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo told News Limited that they were already chasing solid leads on the case.

“We will find them. We will arrest,” Chief Supt Cerbo said.

The net is believed to be closing in on Puruji Indama the man who leads the group that negotiated the $94,000 ransom paid by Mr Rodwell’s family for his release.

“Mr Rodwell made mention of involvement of some Abu Sayaff personalities including him (Puruji Indama),” he said.

“At this point we are collecting evidence and establishing a basis to support our case to bring criminal charges against these people involved.”

Chief Supt Cerbo said Mr Rodwell would undergo further debriefing by Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) detectives next week as his health improved.
Mr Rodwell was ambushed by terrorists posing as policemen in late 2011 from his seaside house on the Zamboanga peninsula.

After 15-months at gunpoint and under constant threat of beheading, Mr Rodwell a former soldier was released last weekend.

After local criticism surrounding ransom payment to terrorists, PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima yesterday flagged a new law that could potentially prohibit financial transactions to free hostages.

Mr Purisima said people involved in Mr Rodwell’s ransom payment, including Basilan Vice Governor Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul, could not be held liable.

“The policy of the government is no ransom policy. But there’s no law yet that provides if you help a kidnap victim pay ransom, you will be liable, maybe there is a need for some revision in the law,” Mr Purisima said.

Mr Sakalahul yesterday denied accusations that he had skimmed some of Mr Rodwell’s ransom money.

“My conscience is clear and I can’t stomach to feed my family out from bad earnings. I think is about time for the families of the kidnap victims which I also helped previously come out in the open and speak for the truth,” he told reporters.

He said the negotiations were initiated by Mr Rodwell’s wife Miraflor Gutang and he only helped to ensure she was not duped by the kidnappers.

“I have not even touched the money,” he said.

In a separate operation earlier in the week, PNP and military officers yesterday swooped on an Abu Sayyaf member known as “Muner” in Zamboanga City.

Local police said “Muner” was a member of the Abu Sayyaf group responsible for conducting bombings and assassination missions.

A gaunt and emaciated Mr Rodwell is recovering at an undisclosed location in Manila with support of embassy officials and his siblings Denise and Wayne.

The 54-year-old is expected to fly back to Australia within weeks.

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Cayetano joins suit vs limit on airtime

The Supreme Court proving to be unresponsive to a plea from worried television stations, reelectionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has jumped into the breach in aid of relaxing the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) rule on how much air time candidates would be allowed to buy.

Cayetano on Friday asked to join a litigation case brought before the Supreme Court by television networks contesting the Comelec’s power to set limits on air time for political advertisements.

In a petition-in-intervention, Cayetano accused the Comelec of exceeding its rule-making powers and usurping the powers of Congress in setting a 120-minute limit on TV ads and a 180-minute limit on radio ads for national candidates.

“Putting a limit on the advertising time of a candidate is unconstitutional. It limits the people’s right to information,” Cayetano told reporters at the Supreme Court docket section when he went to file his petition early on Friday.

“Comelec cannot issue a rule that is outside the wisdom of the intent of the law. The Fair Election Act (Republic Act No. 9006) in this case, intends for the restriction to be on a per station basis. Comelec now goes outside that by resolving to restrict airtime aggregately,” he said.

The Cayetano petition seeks to to annul or modify Section 9 of the Comelec Resolution No. 9615, which contains the contested rules, for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It seeks the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Comelec from implementing and enforcing the provision.

GMA Network and TV5 filed the original suit against Resolution 9615 last month. The Supreme Court, however, did not issue a TRO against the poll body.

Cayetano said that if the high court fails to stop the Comelec, there would be “far-reaching consequences to the conduct and fate of the 2013 national and local elections.”

He said Resolution 9615 “smacks of prior restraint,” which he said violates freedom of speech, of the press and of expression, and stifles the people’s right to be informed on matters of public concern.

He said placing limits on advertising airtime, particularly for radio, would deprive the people of much-needed information about the candidates.

“With 180 minutes for all radio stations nationwide, that means candidates only have four 30-second spots for 80 provinces. Considering that we would also need to allot a great percentage of the 180 minutes to national issues, how will we get our message to our voters in the provinces and our stand on local issues with that limited amount of time?” he asked.

Media being the most effective and most cost-efficient way to inform voters about their candidates, the aim of lessening the spending of candidates by limiting or regulating air time is at the expense of lessening voters’ opportunities to know their candidates more in order to vote wisely, he said.

In a Jan. 29 report, the Deutsche Bank Hong Kong projected P2 billion in political ad spending in this year’s midterm elections.

Cayetano said that while he recognized the rationale behind the Comelec resolution, the problem lies with its application.

“The goal was to equalize advertising opportunities among candidates and also to control their spending. But limiting advertising airtime actually has the opposite effect,” he said.

Instead of focusing on limiting advertising time, Cayetano the Comelec should focus its efforts in monitoring candidates’ campaign spending and the source of the funds used to advertise, claiming that some candidates are using money obtained from illegal sources, like gambling and smuggling, for their advertisements.

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