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Philippine News Digest 13

January 17, 2002 · 

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Contents:

  • Bishop demands probe of Surigao Sur killings
  • Suspected drug lord shot dead
  • Court of Appeals acquits fraternity members
  • Probe of e-mail order brides urged
  • Mutated poliovirus resurfaces in polio-free RP

Bishop demands probe of Surigao Sur killings

Bishop Nerio Ochimar of the Archdiocese of Tandag asked the police to investigate those who were behind the summary executions of suspected drug pushers and users in Suriagao del Sur, south of Manila. These suspected members of an anti-drug vigilante group have shot and killed at least ten people since August last year, the latest of whom was a suspected pusher gunned down in Tandag on January 8, 2002. Police provincial director Edgar Deramas said there was no vigilante group operating in the province but he admitted that the police had no idea as to the identities of the killers. He said that the executions could be part of a “cleansing process” by a local drug syndicate while a local government official said he suspected that top local officials were behind the killings. Source Franklin Caliguid and Anthony Allada, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 January 2002.

Suspected drug lord shot dead

A motorcycle-riding gunman shot and killed businessman Bienvenido de Guzman while his companion was wounded while they are on their way to jog at the athletic bowl in Tuguegarao City, north of Manila. The death of de Guzman came on the heels of an aggressive “No to Jueteng Campaign” of Cagayan Representative Manuel Mamba in the third district. Myor Randolph Ting condemned the killing and ordered the city police to get the killer. Despite the campaign against the numbers game, it continues to proliferate in many towns of the province. Source Estanislao Caldez, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 January 2002.

Court of Appeals acquits fraternity members

The Court of Appeals acquitted 19 of the 26 Aquila Legis fraternity members accused of killing Leonardo Villa, a student of the Ateneo de Manila University, in 1991. Leonardo’s mother, who is also founder and chairperson of Crusade Against Violence, said she is very devastated by the CA’s decision convicting only two of the accused. She said Justice Eulogo Versola had condoned hazing when he considered the neophyte’s consent to undergo physical initiation as a “valid defense”. Mrs. Villa maintained that her son consented only to humane initiation rites. Fidelito Dizon and Artemio Villareal were convicted after the CA found proof that they have been against Villa and had apparently used the fraternity hazing to get even. Source Agnes Donato et.al., Philippine Daily Inquirer, 15 January 2002.

Probe of e-mail order brides urged

Senator Loren Legarda identified two Florida-based on-line firms, Davis Place International Internet Services and World Class Service, who are engaged in illicit e-mail order bride service victimizing Filipinas. The senator called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to make a strong representation on the US government invoking moral grounds. She also called on the Philippine embassy in Washington to identify the owners and operators of the two agencies so that they could be blacklisted in the country. The Philippine Anti-Mail Order Bride Law was enacted in 1990 banning and penalizing the matching of Filipinas to foreigners as mail-order brides and other similar practices, but no specific agency was formed to monitor and ensure the enforcement of the law. Despite its existence, some 2,000 Filipinas continue to enlist with mail order bride agencies because of poverty and lack of education. Source Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 January 2002.

Mutated poliovirus resurfaces in polio-free RP

The Philippines was the only country in the Western Pacific region certified as a polio-free country in 2000, but the Department of Health recently reported three cases of “mutated” poliovirus affecting children aged between eight and 14 months. The health secretary explained that the new strain of poliovirus may have come from the antipolio vaccine that has mutated. Its recurrence may also be attributed to a low immunization rate of children similar to that of Egypt, Haiti and Dominican Republic who experienced the same phenomenon previously. Source Cher Jimenez, Today, 8 January 2002.

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