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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

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.

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.

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.

NHA builds blast wall in Marawi’s most affected area

August 14, 2019

ILIGAN City--The National Housing Authority (NHA) has built a blast wall in the most affected area (MAA) of Marawi City as additional precautionary and safety net for the residents who will be coming back anytime now while continue looking for the remaining unexploded ordnances (UXOs). NHA’s Engr. Roderick Ybaṅez, head of Marawi Project Management Office, the blast wall is deployed in portions of sector 7, particularly along Mapandi area; sector 5, along Quezon Avenue in sector 4 and in between sector 4 and 6 that composed of Barangays Wawalayan Marinaut, Marinaut West and Tuca Marinaut. Built in three meters high and one meter thick, the blast wall is made of thick fiber with a steel mesh compressed by a debris filling that can withstand shock wave. “It will be an additional precautionary and safety net for the residents who will be coming back in sectors 1 to 3 while we are still looking for the remaining UXOs in sectors 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9,” Ybaṅez said. In a press briefing Wednesday morning, August 14, Housing Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, Task Force Bangon Marawi Chairman, announced that sectors 1, 2 and 3 areas are now ready to be reoccupied and residents can start rebuilding or repairing their structures provided they will comply requirements such as building permit from the local government unit. TFBM Field Office Manager and Housing Assistant Secretary Felix Castro, Jr., said that residents must also apply for electrical connection clearance from Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (LASURECO) and water connection clearance from Marawi Water District. As of August 14, no resident has started yet constructing their house as they are still complying their application from the city’s Office of the Building Official (OBO). Bomb clearing to continue While residents are complying and preparing for their return, a group of soldiers who are expert in explosive ordnance called Joint Task Group Builder (JTGB) continue to scour the area to look for the remaining UXOs that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) planes has dropped against enemies during the five-month war in Marawi City in 2017. Col. Ireneo Sebastian, commander of JTGB, said they are still looking for 46 UXOs based on the coordinates given by the PAF. On August 3 was the last detonation and disposal of UXOs, retrieved from the 250-hectare land area that composed of a 260 and 110 pound general purpose bombs and other surface bombs. These bombs were retrieved in the ongoing demolition and clearing operations of the EDDMARI Construction and Trading, a private company that won the contract of managing the debris inside the MAA. It was detonated inside a nine-meter deep hole in Barangay Moncado Colony where the 260-lbs was recovered. Sebastian said they have learned from the June 26 blasting of UXOs that drew criticisms from Marawi residents because it sent a loud sound and shockwaves around the detonation area. “We can control the loud sound by putting together the UXOs in a hole and covered it with soil. The sound was very minimal that residents nearby could hardly hear it,” Sebastian said. The detection, using the bomb sniffing dogs and the ground penetrating radar (GPR), is ongoing in sectors 5, 8 and 9.

Residents in Marawi's most-affected area can now go home

August 14, 2019

MARAWI City--Marawi residents are now allowed to go back to their areas inside the most affected area provided they will comply all the requirements set by the Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) and the local government unit (LGU). In a press briefing on Wednesday, August 14, Housing Secretary and TFBM Chairman Eduardo Del Rosario said that residents in sectors 1, 2 and 3 inside the most affected area can start constructing and or repairing their structures as soon as their building permit applications will be approved. Del Rosario said residents of sector 1 were allowed to go back since July while those who are of sectors 2 and 3 can now start processing their requirements at the city hall. There are 6,435 structures affected during the five-month war against the Dawlah Islamiya in 2017 and out of it are 4,000 housing and commercial establishments advised to be removed because those are no longer safe to be rehabilitated and or repaired. Eighty percent of the owners of these structures have given consent to the government, through the National Housing Authority (NHA), for their structures to be demolished and at the end of October, this year, the demolition and debris clearing will be finished. “Yung 20%, sila na ang magpapatanggal sa kanilang mga nasirang mga bahay. They will secure a permit from the local government and if given, then they will be allowed to demolish. They will not be given building permit unless proven na yung kanilang structures ay hindi na compromise. Kung yun ay compromised at hindi na safe, they will not be given a permit to repair,” Del Rosario said. The owners will spend the demolition and debris management cost, not the government according to Del Rosario and that they will construct their structures in accordance with the building code. Challenges The TFBM said that what made the demolition and clearing slow is the refusal of some owners to allow the government demolish their house because of sentimental value. Some also have their ancestors buried at the back or inside the premises of their compound or house. Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra also said approving applications for building permit is not easy because there are “overlapping claims” of one structure or area. To resolve their problem, these claimants are being referred to proper court for resolution. Vertical projects to start this year In the last quarter of this year, the vertical management works will start as the concerned agencies are now on its procurement process. Vertical works include installation of power, water and telecommunication lines, construction of schools, market, convention center, hospital and other government facilities. Del Rosario said there are about 20 vertical projects to be implemented by respective implementing agencies. “One they are ready and the budget is available, they can start the construction on the last quarter of the year, just in time for the completion of the debris management. Maybe 75% of the total will start their construction within the year and the remaining 25% will start the construction on the first quarter of 2020,” Del Rosario said. The local government of Marawi is the first agency to submit their pre-procurement documents that will implement five projects like construction of barangay hall, the grand central and Padian market, promenade, museum and the peace memorial.


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