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Philippine News Digest 106

March 30, 2007 · 


-Pool champ faces child abuse charge
-UN expert calls for ratification of treaty on migrants
-Govt told to step up AIDS fight

Pool champ faces child abuse charge
Philippine Daily Inquirer
by: Margaux Ortiz

The 14-year-old daughter of world pool champion Ronato “Volcano” Alcano yesterday formally charged him with child abuse in the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office.

The girl, accompanied by her mother, said in her complaint that her father sexually assaulted her on three occasions in his home on Oxford Street, Cubao, Quezon City late last year.

She identified herself as the only legitimate child of Ronato and her mother. The couple had separated when she was just a child, she said. The girl attached her birth certificate and her parents’ marriage certificate to her complaint.

According to the teenager, the first two incidents of sexual assault happened on Nov. 25, 2006, while she was staying at her father’s house with his live-in partner. She said that she was in the couple’s room when Alcano allegedly touched her private parts.

The third incident, according to the girl, occurred last December while they were lying in bed with her father’s live-in partner.

“I told my mother, who was then working in Dubai, about the incident. She came home last Jan. 4,” she said in Filipino.

She added that she and her mother immediately went to the Philippine National Police Women’s Crisis and Child Protection Center where the 14-year-old underwent a medico-legal examination. Chief Insp. Jaime Rodrigo Letrero Leal, medico-legal officer, indicated in the certificate that the victim showed signs of “sexual abuse.”

The girl disclosed in her complaint that she had stopped going to school because of her traumatic experience. “My life was destroyed because of what my father has done to me. I am so depressed and afraid,” she said.

Alcano, a double world pool champion (9-ball and 8-ball), earlier denied his daughter’s accusations in an interview with the Inquirer.

Perry Mariano, his manager and benefactor, backed up Alcano, saying the girl was probably being used by people interested in his money. Mariano added that the teenager even tried to borrow P100,000 from him, unknown to Alcano who, he said, earlier gave the girl money of the same amount.

In November 2006, Alcano won the World 9-ball crown in Manila. In February this year, he signed a P1-million contract to endorse Guinness Beer, the new title sponsor of the Asian 9-ball tour which will kick off on April 20 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

At the same time, he signed a one-year contract with San Miguel Corp.

Alston report to UN slams AFP, Palace for killings
Philippine Daily Inquirer
by: Christian V. Esguerra Norman Bordadora

MANILA, Philippines – UN special rapporteur Philip Alston has formally presented to the United Nations his initial findings on the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, warning of “dire consequences” if the matter remained unresolved.

In a six-page preliminary report dated March 22, he criticized key government institutions, particularly the executive branch and the military, for their apparent failure to address the killings. Alston presented a report on Tuesday at the fourth session of the UN Human Rights Council being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from March 12 until tomorrow.

In his interim report at the United Nations, he criticized the Malacañang policy requiring government officials, including military officers, to get approval from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before they can show up in congressional inquiries. On a number of occasions, officials snubbed congressional hearings.

“The executive branch has stymied the legislature’s efforts to oversee the execution of laws,” he said. “This restrictive approach tends to make congressional oversight meaningless in practice.”

Alston was not buying the argument that Congress couldn’t look into the killings because “no new legislation was required, given that murder was already a punishable offense.”

He noted that the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, whom he met in Manila, had said that “Congress should not play any proactive oversight role regarding the executive’s execution of the law.”

More than 830 activists have been summarily executed since Ms Arroyo took power in 2001, according to the human rights group Karapatan. The Philippine military has attributed the killings to a purge in the communist movement in the country.

But Alston said the military, not the purges in the Communist Party of the Philippines, was responsible for a “significant” number of the summary executions.

In a statement dated March 27 and delivered before the council, he said the Philippine government’s reaction to his inquiry had been “deeply schizophrenic” with Ms Arroyo promising “positive initiatives” while military leaders announcing “that business will continue as usual.”

In the preliminary report, Alston said the final report would elaborate on “the extent to which aspects of the government’s counterinsurgency strategy encourage or facilitate the extrajudicial killings of activists and other ‘enemies’ in certain circumstances.”

“One of the key impediments to the effectiveness of many of the measures announced by the government in recent weeks is the fact that many of the accountability mechanisms, which are invoked as checks on government abuses, have been rendered ineffectual in dealing with such cases,” he told the UN Human Rights Council.

“On paper, they remain strong. In practice, they are of too little use, and often, this is the result of official design,” he said.

Responding to a government request, he visited the country from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21 to investigate the killings.

Govt told to step up AIDS fight
The Manila Times
By Maricel V. Cruz, Reporter

The Department of Health report indicating an alar­ming increase in HIV/AIDS cases among overseas Filipino workers should prod the government to step up its efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay said on Thursday.

Pichay, who is running for the Senate under the administration Team Unity, underscored the need for the public to do their share in addressing the problem.

“Every segment of society should play a role in HIV prevention. Everyone should be involved. The government should commit funds for research and backed by private organizations to spread the word about how to stop HIV,” Pichay said.

The department said 35 percent of all documented cases of HIV carriers are OFWs, including 42 percent of the newly reported cases in 2006.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque has admitted there were limited services to educate and support families of the migrant workers who return home suffering from the virus that causes AIDS.

Pichay said leadership by government in combating HIV is essential and its efforts should be complemented by the full and active participation of civil society, the business community and the private sector.

He underscored the need for Congress to come up with legislation that would effectively address issues concerning HIV/ AIDS.

Party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis blamed the Arroyo administration for contributing to the rise in HIV/AIDS cases in the country.

Beltran, who is under detention on rebellion charges, said the government’s skewed priorities, with sectors like education and health being neglected, add to the people’s suffering.

The Genuine Opposition called for a quick action and not just lip service in fighting HIV/AIDS.

“It is ironic that despite having an economy heavily dependent on overseas workers the Arroyo administration has not been giving adequate protection to them in terms of medical, legal and social support,” Adel Tamano, GO spokesman, said.

“The figures cited by the government underscore the urgency for action by the government,” Tamano said.

He said that in GO’s platform of governance, its senatorial bets would support legislation for more support programs for OFWs, including providing them with legal assistance in their countries of work, retraining services, entrepreneurial mentoring and welfare and counseling services to the families they leave behind. –With Francis Earl A. Cueto



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