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Philippine News Digest 112

May 11, 2007 · 

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Contents:
-3,000 law students join anti-poll fraud network
-Troops in ‘child warrior’ case restricted; probe continues
-Canadian arrested, says its embassy in RP

3,000 law students join anti-poll fraud networkMalaya online
Gerard Anthony M. Naval
May 11, 2007

AROUND 3,000 Law and paralegal students from the Ateneo de Manila University, Lyceum of the Philippines and Manuel L. Quezon University have volunteered for active roles in preventing election fraud through the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente).

Lente is looking to deploy at least 10,000 volunteers, including 3,200 lawyers and 6,400 paralegals, in over 1,600 municipalities and cities as well as 81 provinces nationwide. The student-volunteers will assist Lente lawyers and paralegals in provincial, city and municipal canvassing areas. Other volunteers will work as regional coordinators and in the operations secretariat.

Lente co-convenor and former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod said, “This is the first time that the students are participating on this magnitude. I applaud them for their willingness to volunteer and participate.”

In the past, student volunteers had only served as poll watchers under the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections.

Atty. Carlos Medina, Lente co-convenor, said the group was formed to prevent “widespread and systematic fraud” in the forthcoming elections. He said they are looking to fill in the “missing link” in previous elections, which is to provide legal recourse for the poll watchers and members of the Board of Election Inspectors.

Lente members include the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, One Voice, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, Namfrel, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, Caucus for Development NGO Networks.

Troops in ‘child warrior’ case restricted; probe continues
By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:39pm (Mla time) 04/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — An Army platoon that figured in the death of a nine-year-old girl initially tagged a communist “child warrior” in Compostela Valley province has been restricted to battalion headquarters pending the results of an investigation into the incident, a military spokesman said.

Armed Forces public information officer Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro clarified that the investigation into the case was never suspended.

“The provision of the restriction is they cannot go out of the camp without permission. The purpose is to ensure that they will be available during the conduct of the investigation,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

On March 31, troops engaged suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Kahayag village, New Bataan province, leaving nine-year-old Grecil Gelacio and a soldier dead.

The military initially branded the girl a “child warrior,” claiming she was seen carrying an M16 rifle.

The platoon leader in the incident was identified as Second Lieutenant Francis John Gabawa. The girl’s family has filed murder charges against him.

Interviewed on Wednesday, Gabawa’s commander in the 1001st Infantry Battalion, Brigadier General Carloz Holganza, said the investigation had been suspended since the girl’s father, Gregorio Gelacio, refused to cooperate in the inquiry.

Explaining Holganza’s statement, Bacarro said: “I will just clarify that the suspended part of the investigation was on the father, but all others, the participants [in the incident], the investigation is ongoing.”

Canadian arrested, says its embassy in RP
By Veronica Uy
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:37pm (Mla time) 03/15/2007

MANILA, Philippines — A 56-year-old Canadian sex offender whose 17 victims included three Filipino minors has been arrested and charged with offenses he committed between 1998 and 2002, Canada’s embassy in the Philippines told reporters.

Steven Rheault-Kihara, counselor for political and economic relations and public affairs in the embassy, said Kenneth Robert Klassen was arrested on March 9 and jailed on March 12 after two and half years of international investigation which included the help of authorities from the Philippines, Colombia, and Cambodia.

Klassen has been charged with 35 counts of sex tourism, the embassy official added.

The suspect’s victims also included eight Colombians and six Cambodians, said Rheault-Kihara.

Rheault-Kihara said the case started on Aug. 27, 2004, when the Canada Border Service Agencies at the Vancouver International Airport noted a package being shipped in from the Philippines to Vancouver. Border officials examined the package and saw numerous DVDs (digital video discs) on child pornography.

As the package was addressed to a PO Box number, Canadian authorities monitored the pickup of the package in Burnaby and subsequently arrested Klassen on Sept. 2, 2004, said Rheault-Kihara.

They also obtained search warrants on properties associated with Klassen in both Burnaby and Vancouver, where they discovered a video camera and numerous DVDs containing video clips that depicted Klassen engaged in illegal sexual conduct involving many young girls whose ages range from 9 to 18 years old, said Rheault-Kihara.

Rheault-Kihara said the multi-year, multi-country investigation involved the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Canada’s embassies in Colombia, Canada, and the Philippines, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Colombian Administrative Department of Security, the Cambodian National Police, and the Philippines’ Department of Justice.

“The DoJ Secretary himself [Raul Gonzalez] was involved in the case,” he said of the Philippines’ participation in the investigation.

Rheault-Kihara said “compelling evidence” existed for offenses that included sexual touching of minors and manufacture of child pornography, which carry maximum sentences of 10 years.

“This case exemplifies that law enforcement and government agencies from around the world can work cooperatively towards a common goal of the detection, investigation and apprehension of individuals engaged in alleged criminal conduct outside the borders of Canada,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement released March 14 (Canadian time).

“It is of paramount importance that individuals from Canada, who allegedly engage in crimes outside our borders, are brought to justice and tried by a court of law in this country,” it said

-End-

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