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  • Representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources inspect the dead turtles found aboard a Malaysian vessel near Pangutaran Island, Sulu on April 22, 2012. Photo by BFAR Tawi-Tawi provincial chief Faisal Nahul/VERA Files

    By Joseph Arnel Deliverio, VERA Files

    Jolo, Sulu—Twelve Vietnamese fishermen detained here for stealing endangered marine animals two years ago have yet to be formally charged in court simply because no interpreter has showed up to help get the case moving.

    The 12, who are detained at the Sulu provincial jail, are being held for illegally entering Philippine territory and for violating Republic Act 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

    “For lack of an interpreter, they still have to be arraigned in the two major cases,” said Jail Officer Mohammad Sangkula.

    “Actually, a representative from the Vietnamese embassy came to Zamboanga City to look into their case,” said Marciano Damih, chief of the provincial office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The Embassy has made no follow-ups since then, he added.

    The Philippine Coast Guard caught the 12 Vietnamese fishermen aboard a Malaysian vessel carrying black corals and 87 dead hawksbill turtles

    Read More »from Lack of interpreter stalls case of 12 Vietnamese poachers in Sulu
  • Sign language interpreters in Baguio. (Photo by Ofelia Empian)

    By VERA Files

    In various offices of the Commission on Elections nationwide, the same story played out as the country marked Sunday the National Registration Day for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs): Only a handful showed up to register as voters, and in some places none at all.

    The low turnout was blamed on poor information dissemination by the poll body, the destruction wrought by typhoon “Glenda” in many parts of Luzon earlier in the week and heavy rains spawned by typhoon “Henry” that came on the tail of Glenda.

    But election officials said they were optimistic that more PWDs will register in the weeks ahead as the continuing voter registration will end on Oct. 31, 2015. Others said a number of PWDs had registered before Sunday.

    The National Council on Disability Affairs earlier asked the Comelec to conduct special registration for PWDs on July 20 to coincide with the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.

    Registration for new voters and those reapplying for

    Read More »from Lack of info, bad weather blamed for low turnout in PWD voter registration
  • Aquino’s DAP: lethal mix of ignorance and arrogance


    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Aquino takes on the High Court on DAP.President Aquino’s belligerent stand against the Supreme Court’s decision declaring his pet initiative, the Disbursement Acceleration Program, unconstitutional was not at all surprising considering his defense of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Jr. last Friday.

    Reading and listening to his speech was not only appalling. It was disturbing.

    It showed  the  lethal combination of  ignorance and arrogance.

    The issue is his usurpation of Congress' power of the purse which is  a violation of the Constitution and he talked  about parking zones.

    The President cited  provisions the 1987 Administrative Code as legal basis of DAP. He said, “..we were surprised to find that the Supreme Court decision did not take into account our legal basis for DAP. How can they say that our spending methods are unconstitutional when they did not look into our basis? Even until now, Section 39 of the Administrative Code is in effect, along with its other sections.”

    What he was

    Read More »from Aquino’s DAP: lethal mix of ignorance and arrogance
  • Aquino’s doctrine: good intentions superior to Constitution


    President Aquino defends DAP and Budget Secretary Butch Abad. By Ellen. T. Tordesillas

    Finally, President Aquino will speak to the people of the Philippines on the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP today, Malacañang announced.

    Today is exactly two weeks after the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision declared as unconstitutional Aquino and his Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad pet project.

    Malacañang sources said Aquino was stunned by the voting (13-0. Not even his appointees especially Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno sided with him!) he threw tantrums. He wants to wage war against the Supreme Court justices.

    Wonder no more why House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. wants an investigation on the Judiciary Development Fund being administered by the Supreme Court.

    Last Friday Aquino gave the public a preview of what he is going to say today. During the cabinet meeting on the 2015 budget, Aquino announced that he was rejecting the resignation of Abad. “I have decided not to accept his resignation. To accept his

    Read More »from Aquino’s doctrine: good intentions superior to Constitution
  • By Vince Nonato, VERA Files

    Despite the Philippine government’s efforts to combat human trafficking, the United States’latest global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report said it its overall number of convictions remained low.

    “The Government of the Philippines does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking;however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the United States’ Department of State said in the TIP Report 2014.

    As of April this year, 2,359 cases in violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act law have been filed since the law was enacted in 2003, according to data from the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

    Only 127 of these—or 5 percent—resulted in convictions as of April 2014. There would be two more convictions made since then. A total of 549 are undergoing trial, while 372 have been dismissed.

    Meanwhile, data from the Philippine National Police also show that child trafficking is on the rise.

    A total of 130 child

    Read More »from Philippines poor in prosecuting trafficking cases—US gov’t
  • Singaporean conductor Darrell Ang, who headlines the Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival, meets the press.

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    “Compelling podium authority (with) authoritative readings of the core symphonic repertoire, especially the great masterpieces by French and Russian composers” –this is how fast-rising conductor Darrel Ang is described in a bionote.

    He leads the Manila Symphony Orchestra in the “Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival” that also headlines tenor Arthur Espiritu and pianist Cristine Coyiuto on July 11 at 8 p.m. at the Philippine Stock Exchange Auditorium, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

    In a press conference organized by the Manila Chamber Orchestra (MCO) Foundation to which Ang is donating his talent fee for its young artists’ development program, he said he approaches Mozart the way he does with any other score. “My viewpoint is making the most out of the music, letting the music speak for itself. You can’t overdo Mozart. Otherwise, you degrade it. You must let its simplicity speak.”

    He said, “One must be aware of certain details that

    Read More »from Darrell Ang prepared to astonish Manila
  • What’s wrong with the picture?


    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    The photoshopped Mar kargador photo.The picture we are referring to is that of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas hoisting a sack of NFA rice during an inspection of a rice warehouse in Muntinlupa.

    Some say that picture, which has gone viral, is photoshopped. We had the photo analyzed by professional photographers and they said it’s genuine, not digitally tampered with.

    They explained that the reason Roxas hoisting of the sack looked effortless was because the content as  indicated in the sack was not regular rice  but “broken rice residue” or darak used for animal feed.

    A Philstar report said, “in a surprise move, Roxas before leaving Purefeeds warehouse in Malolos pulled a bag of rice from a pile and carried it on his shoulder for a photo opportunity.”

    It was a desperate act, presumably aimed to boost his 2016 presidential bid which cannot seem to take off. He looked ridiculous.

    The warehouse inspection pictures are by themselves politically loaded.

    Security expert Ace Esmeralda posted this

    Read More »from What’s wrong with the picture?
  • Rosabella Sulani (left) and members of the Tawi-Tawi Provincial Police Office's Women and Children Protection Desk escort potential victims of trafficking to the ferry going to Zamboanga City. (Photo by Jake Soriano/VERA Files)

    By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    Bongao, Tawi-Tawi – Inside a small room at the Tawi-Tawi Provincial Police Station, leaders of the local anti-trafficking task force had been trying to pry information out of five women who had just been intercepted by the police getting off a boat from Zamboanga City.

    The five, all of them new faces in Bongao, stirred the suspicion of authorities at the port when they huddled together and made phone calls, uncomfortably waiting for someone to fetch them.

    The women were a tough group to crack. Their ages ranged from mid-twenties to early thirties, and they were not at all related to each other, yet they insisted they were in Bongao for a vacation.

    But Rosabella Sulani, focal person of the Bongao Inter-agency Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (BIATFAT), has seen and heard it all before. Every year, the BIATFAT intercepts hundreds of potential victims of human trafficking, sometimes up to 40 persons a week, mostly undocumented ferry passengers bound

    Read More »from Rosabella Sulani: A tough woman for a dangerous job
  • Acts of kindness to the fallen


    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Lawyer Edward Serapio, former presidential counsel during the Estrada administration, once told me when he was under detention in Camp Crame in connection with Estrada’s plunder case way back in 2001, that he was so grateful for the wife of then Philippine National Police head Leandro Mendoza serving him coffee when he surrendered early in the morning at the White House, the PNP chief’s residence.

    Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile surrenders 2. From Yahoo.phOne can imagine Serapio’s level of stress at that moment and he said Mrs. Mendoza’s act of kindness did a lot to calm him down. He said he’ll never forget it.

    Yesterday, Sen. Juan Ponce- Enrile thanked the PNP for treating him kindly, allowing him to stay at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame upon his surrender last Friday and allowing him to have his check up at the Asian Eye Institute in Makati the next day.

    At this time when the popular sentiment is to throw stones at all those accused in the plunder of people’s money (Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong

    Read More »from Acts of kindness to the fallen
  • By Elizabeth Lolarga,VERA Files

    Conductor Darrell AngThe Mostly Mozart 2014 Festival comes while the music world mourns the recent death of Maestro Oscar Yatco who did much to raise the country’s musical standards.

    Pianist Cristine Coyiuto, who will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 K. 488 and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony with the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) which Yatco honed in its early years, said of the late violin prodigy-conductor, “It’s sad that we have lost a very fine musician. I met him in the ’80s when he wanted to do a Beethoven concerto with me. It didn’t materialize. We both got so busy. I had to return to Canada. Helen Quach died last year. I did the Grieg concerto with the MSO and the Schumann concerto with her and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. We miss her terribly.”

    The groundwork for the July 11 concert at the Philippine Stock Exchange auditorium, Textite Tower, Ortigas Center in Pasig was prepared more than three years ago. Joseph Uy, one of the concert organizers,

    Read More »from The journey to realize the star-studded Mostly Mozart Festival


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