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Scam victims could no longer get money back

August 29, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur--- Thousands of residents of this province who were defrauded by billions of pesos can no longer expect the return of their money from the owner of the investment scam who is now in hiding. A leader of FRX Rice Trading based in Prosperidad town has revealed the operator, Dimber Celis, has already squandered the money intended for “payout” to thousands of investors that she no longer  has the financial capacity to return the investments. Mark Clinton Chavez, the FRX leader who is also one of the five board of directors of FRX Rice Trading registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has disclosed in an exclusive interview that Celis has been on a lavish spending spree buying cars and properties before the fallout of the investment scam on June 24. “She bought many properties in other places. But what I only knew were the two new Toyota Fortuner SUVs, a beach resort in Buenavista town and the house in tBahbah poblacion in Prosperidad town ,” Chavez said. The money scam which has lured thousands of victims in this province and other neighboring areas because of its 70 to 80 percent weekly return of investment abruptly stopped its operation after the crackdown by the police’s Criminal Investigations and  Detection Group (CIDG). Last June 24, CIDG operatives confiscated P23 million from Celis’ safe house in Nasipit town in Agusan del Sur after a car chase from Talacogon town of this province where the payouts were expected to be held. The money, log books and documents were recovered from the alleged safehouse of FRX Rice Trading at around 7:30 p.m. Prior to the raid on the safehouse, a pickup owned by the trading firm collided with a motorcycle driven by a barangay official along the highway in Buenavista town. “It turned out the pickup was heading toward the safehouse to pick up the money... We suspected the owner or owners of the money are planning to escape,” Lt. Col. Cholijun Caduyac, police (CIDG-Caraga chief, said.  Celis managed to escape in another vehicle. She is facing charges for syndicated estafa and violation of Republic Act 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code.  Hundreds of leaders of the investment scheme were waiting for Celis to distribute the payouts patiently waiting for hours outside the town hall but to no avail as they learned the Forex owner hurriedly left with the convoy of cars sensing the CIDG lawmen were already there to conduct the raid. The CIDG said the raid was in line with President Duterte’s order to close companies tagged in investment scams. Chavez has already sensed danger two days earlier during the gathering at the Almont Resort Hotel in Butuan City when she left unnoticed upon learning that only five leaders have brought in pay-ins which is not enough to supplement the boxful of cash she brought for the payouts. “I believed she was making a scenario to escape from her obligations to the leaders since she don’t have enough cash and was expecting millions of pesos from pay ins to defray the money shortage and continue operations,” Chavez confided. Celis has assured close to 500 investment leaders that the payout will resume on June 24 after two weeks break at the extravagant birthday and baptismal party she and her child celebrated at LMX Convention Center in Butuan City on June 19. Chavez who attended the party as a godfather of Celis’ daughter revealed she spent at least P2 million for the event aside from the cash rewards of P5000 for each game winner and the giveaways of expensive perfumes. At the peak of FRX operations in the middle of May up to June 10, pay-ins received by each leader from investors could reach as much as P50 million a day. Chavez admitted the accumulated cash he received from pay ins had reached more than a billion pesos since he joined in May 15.

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Ateneo de Zamboanga mourns death of alumna in Bukidnon

August 27, 2019

ZAMBOANGA CITY - (Mindanao News digital, August 26) - The management and studentry of Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) mourned the untimely demise of their alumna, who died in a far-flung municipality in Bukidnon Province, police authorities reported. The 24-year-old Genifer Buckly, a volunteer  community teacher for Jesuit Volunteer Philippines (JVP) died of multiple stab wounds while her companion, Anne Kathleen Gatdula was also wounded but her stab wounds were not fatal and she was rushed to the hospital and cheated death. Police investigation disclosed that on August 23, 2019, while on their quarters, both Gatdula and Buckly caught in the act an unidentified theft while stealing their belongings, so they shouted at the suspect. Overwhelmed by the sudden commotion, the suspect immediately grabbed his knife and stab them multiple times and fled to unknown directions. ADZU President Fr. Karel San Juan said in a statement, "Buckly's tragic death is painful. We pray for the JVP and ADZU communities who grieve her passing. We pray for justice.” Fr. San Juan also celebrated Buckly’s life of service: “Your life, your joyful love and service console and inspire us. You gave your life to your family, friends, students, and to many others. Your generous spirit will forever stay in our hearts.” Buckly graduated at Ateneo de Zamboanga University in 2015 with a degree in Bachelor of Science major in Filipino.

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Solon's new measure to abolish imprisonment for the crime of libel

August 24, 2019

Lawmaker bats for higher fines for libel A LAWMAKER from Cagayan de Oro City is proposing to abolish the penalty of imprisonment for libel cases. Instead, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), through House Bill 1835, proposed to impose a higher fine to discourage, if not totally deter the commission of the crime of libel. The measure seeks to amend for the purpose Articles 355, 357,and 360 of Act No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code. As defined under Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, libel is “a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is already dead.” Rodriguez said the present law provides the penalty of imprisonment ranging from arresto mayor or one month and one day to six months, and prision correctional or six months and one day to six years and fine ranging from P200 to P6,000. He said that while the penalty of fine must be sustained, for no crime should go unpunished, imposing a penalty of imprisonment will work more to discourage members of the media to perform their duties with zeal and vigilance. “Instead of looking deeply into issues that have a potential of affecting public interest and general welfare, the penalty of imprisonment has paved the way for members of media to approach their mandates with doubts and hesitation” Rodriguez said. “We cannot have that in a country where democracy is primarily infringed on the freedom of speech and expression, and where media is considered the Fourth Estate," said Rodriguez, Chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments. The proposed amendment to Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code provides for the imposition of a fine of P10,000 to P30,000, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party, on any person who commits libel by means of writing or similar means. It further states that “the provisions of Article 90 and 91 to the contrary notwithstanding, the crime of libel and the corresponding said penalty imposed shall be prescribed in six months counted from the date of the first publication, airing or exhibition of the libelous material”. Article 357 of the same law is amended to read as follows: “The penalty of a fine ranging from P5,000 to P15,000 shall be imposed upon any person who threatens another to publish a libel concerning him or the parents, spouse, child, or other members of the family of the latter, or upon anyone who shall offer to prevent the publication of such libel for a compensation or money consideration." Meanwhile, the proposed amendment to Article 357 of the Revised Penal Code states that “the penalty of a fine from P10,000 to P30,000 shall be imposed upon any reporter, editor, or manager of a newspaper, daily or magazine, who shall publish facts connected with the private life of another and offensive to the honor, virtue, and reputation of said person, even though said publication be made in said connection with or under the pretext that it is necessary in the narration of any judicial or administrative proceedings wherein such facts have been mentioned." Article 360 of the said law is likewise proposed amended to make the author of the printed article or any person who shall cause the exhibition of the theatrical or cinematographic exhibit containing defamatory words liable for the same. The amendment also declares that the author or the editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor or business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or serial publication shall be responsible for the defamation contained therein to the same extent as if he were the author thereof, provided said defamatory article passed through said publisher, editor or business manager for editing and required the latter’s approval for publication. /Ma. Victoria Palomar / News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau / House of Representatives of the Philippines

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Cebu's top comedian "Teban" dies of cardiac arrest

August 22, 2019

CEBU CITY (Visayas News digital, August 22) - A veteran comedian-turned politician in the Visayas, most popularly known as "Teban Escudero," died of cardiac arrest on August 21, 2019. Julian Daan in real life was 74. "Teban's name became a byword among the ordinary people in Visayas and Mindanao during a longer-staying radio drama aired over DYHP Cebu City and simulcast all over Mindanao, popularly known as 'Esteban Escudero' with his long time comic duo Goliat - Allan Nacorda in real life. The radio drama series became a hit early in the morning as it tells the daily grind of life among Filipinos coupled with the comic antic of both comedians. Teban and Goliath show became popular as both Julian and Allan regularly visited many barangay during fiestas and Christmas as per invitations of politicians all over Visayas and Mindanao. Prior to his death, Teban or Julian Daan was a three-term duly elected board member Cebu Province before he was also elected as City Councilor of Talisay City, Cebu Province in 2016. He ran for his second term in the last midterm elections and he also won the same position as City Councilor until his last breath. Teban is indeed an icon in the Visayan radio drama and his comic antic would remain in the hearts of the millions of fans in Visayas and Mindanao.

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Oro declares ‘war’ vs Dengue, Iligan in a 'state of calamity'

August 20, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--Cagayan de Oro has declared war against Dengue as “Oplan Kontra Dengue,” a massive cleanup drive, kick off in a motorcade here Tuesday. Just as Cagayan De Oro City raises armed against Dengue, the city of Iligan was declared under “the state of calamity” as Dengue cases climbed in that neighboring city, 88 kilometers west of here. Fe Bongcas, the City Health Officer of Cagayan De Oro City, said that the city health office has adopted various dengue awareness campaign where all barangay units are mobilized to join in the massive cleanup drive. “We have the ‘Toklim’ (knock and clean) approach where health officials knocked the doors of city residents to encourage them to clean their surroundings,” Bongcas said The Department of Health (DOH) reported that from January 1, 2019, to Aug. 3, 2019 the province of Bukidnon tallied the highest number of cases totaling 6,406 followed by Misamis Oriental with 2,384 cases and Lanao Del Norte with 2,066 cases. The province of Lanao Del Norte recorded the highest number of deaths with 15 deaths, followed by Misamis Oriental, 13, and Bukidnon 10. As far as the cities are concerned, Iligan City with 867 dengue cases recorded the highestnumber of deaths with 11 deaths followed by Cagayan De Oro City with 1,557 cases and eight deaths during the same period. Adriano Suba-an, the acting regional director of the DOH in Northern Mindanao, said that based on the ratio between dengue cases and deaths, Iligan City has the number of deaths followed by the city of Cagayan De Oro. As Cagayan De Oro City declared a massive anti-dengue campaign here, the local officials in Iligan City declared the city under the “State of Calamity” as Dengue cases climbed to about 233 cases in the past week since August 3, 2019. On August 6, 2019, the DOH reported that the dengue cases in Iligan City totaled 867 from January 1, 2019 to August, 3, 2019 – an additional 233 cases was recorded from Aug. 3, 2019 t0 August 20, 2019 with three death reported. "There is already a dengue outbreak in the city because of the rising dengue cases since August 3, 2019,” Jo Pantoja, the city’s spokesperson said. According to Pantoja, City Mayor Celso Regencia asked the City Council to pass a resolution declaring the city under the state of calamity Tuesday to enable the city to mobilize its 20 percent emergency fund.

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NCMF to probe deaths of pilgrims in Saudi

August 15, 2019

ILIGAN City--The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) ordered on Wednesday (August 14) an investigation on the reports that some pilgrims were not accommodated in their tents in Mina, Meccah during the last days of the Hajj from August 9-11 due to overcrowding. Dr. Dimapuno Alonto Datu-Ramos, Jr., public relations and information head of the NCMF, said that initial reports reached the attention of NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan about some regular pilgrims who were not being accommodated in their tents because hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the kingdom were “illegally smuggled inside” to occupy beds supposedly for the regular pilgrims. “Last night (August 13), I was performing my Tawaful Ifda (SA-I) in Masjid Haram, some 30 OFWs approached me for a picture-taking. They confirmed to me that they joined the Hajj in Arafa-Muzdalifah-Mina with the regular pilgrims in their buses and tents,” Pangarungan said in a statement released by Datu-Ramos. These OFWs admitted that about 300 to 400 of them managed to sneak in for a fee of 2,000 to 2,500 Saudi Riyal and this practice has been going on since the previous Hajj allegedly in connivance with some Sheiks and some employees and officials of the NCMF who issued the OFWs “fake identification cards (IDs)” in exchange of the said amount. “We in the NCMF will get to the bottom of this illegal practice which is stiffly punished under Saudi laws. For this infractions, many OFWs were caught in the past and are languishing in Saudi jails,” Pangarungan said. “While we commiserate with our OFWs in their desire to join the Hajj, we cannot tolerate this unlawful practice at the inconvenience and expense of our regular pilgrims,” he added. Pangarungan said the NCMF is working hard to reform and improve the Hajj operations and paid the full food and tent accommodation for this year’s 7,234 pilgrims in Mina. The NCMF arranged for a five-star hotel accommodation in Madinah and Meccah and worked hard for the reduction of the Hajj fees and airfare ranging 10 thousand to 30 thousand pesos per pilgrim. For the next Hajj, Pangarungan said, the NCMF will consider a good quality hotel in Misfallah nearer Haram in response to the clamour of sheiks and some pilgrims. Datu-Ramos and other two NCMF directors were directed to submit an investigation report of this within 30 days from August 14. Five deaths Meanwhile, the NCMF announced on Monday (August 12) that there were five mortality in this year’s Hajj. The fifth pilgrim, who died two days before the Hajj would end on Wednesday, August 14, is identified as Macapalao Rasuman, 62, from Lumba Bayabao town in Lanao del Sur. He died inside his tent in Mina and the only mortality during the Mashair or the last three days of the Hajj. Like the other four mortalities, Rasuman died due to cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to massive myocardial infarction or heart attack. The pilgrims who died while performing the annual Hajj in Meccah were buried in a cemetery in Saudi Arabia. Datu-Ramos said many Muslims preferred to die while performing Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. In 2018 Hajj, eight mortalities were recorded and most of those who died were in their senior years. Medical services Datu-Ramos said that the NCMF is trying all the best to serve the pilgrim but mortalities cannot be avoided as many pilgrims are already in their senior years. Even before pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia, the medical team of the NCMF was already in place since July 10 working continuously. The NCMF reported that more than 200 pilgrims were served daily by eight to nine health workers per shift that composed of medical doctors, nurses and clerical staff. The Filipino pilgrim will start returning to the Philippines on August 17 to 31.

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