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Philippine News Digest 94

December 16, 2006 · 

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Contents:
-Fugitive Belgian pedophile nabbed in RP
-International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
-Peasant leader, 3 others survive attack by gunmen

Fugitive Belgian pedophile nabbed in RP
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/14/06
by: Agence France-Presse

A MAN convicted of raping children in Belgium has been arrested in the Philippines, police said Thursday.

Luc van Hecke, 61, was arrested inside the Belgian embassy, where he had gone to secure a government document, said Claro de Castro, head of the Interpol liaison office of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Belgian police had asked the NBI to track down and detain van Hecke, who fled to the Philippines and married a Filipina, de Castro told reporters.

The NBI said van Hecke was sentenced to three years’ jail in Belgium for the sexual abuse of children in 1993 and was given a further seven years for the sexual assault of other children in 2005. Van Hecke managed to flee prison and fled to the Philippines last year, the NBI said.

The fugitive introduced himself to unsuspecting parents as a hypnosis expert who treats girls aged between 10 and 15 who have intellectual limitations or impairments, said NBI senior investigator Sergio Espenesin.

The sexual assaults were committed during these sessions, he added.

Japan wants RP to address human rights violations
The Philippine STAR
12/10/06

Japan wants the Philippine government to address human rights violations to make the country “suitable” for more Japanese financial assistance and investments.

Hiroshige Seko, special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said that while reports of human rights violations and corruption in the disbursement of official development assistance had not directly influenced Japan’s aid program, it would still be best for the Philippines to address these issues.

An official said Abe himself told Mrs. Arroyo of the Japanese’ “strong interest” in the human rights situation in the Philippines. He added the Japanese parliament was now paying much attention to how the ODA was being utilized by recipient countries because of Japan’s “very severe budgetary situation.”

“We have no intention to (impose) conditions and (link) issues like human rights in the discussion of the ODA. (But) I believe the matter of ODA will be decided from the perspective of how effectively the ODA is utilized within the context of Philippine development,” Seko said.

Arroyo’s administration has come under fire for failing to stop political killings, and rights group Amnesty International said in August that her security forces were likely involved in the killings. Mrs. Arroyo denied her administration’s involvement in the killings.

Japan is the largest donor for the Philippines, with the cumulative amount of ODA totaling $17.54 billion. The Philippines is the fourth largest recipient of Japanese ODA following Indonesia, China and India.

Japan is also the second largest trade partner of the Philippines and one of the major investors in the country, with foreign direct investments totaling $551 million last year. – Aurea Calica

Peasant leader, 3 others survive attack by gunmen
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/16/06
by: Jeffrey M. Tupas

DAVAO CITY-A peasant leader based in Compostela Valley survived an ambush staged by unidentified gunmen early yesterday in Compostela town, a militant group reported.

The attack occurred four days after the Melo Commission, which was created to investigate extra-judicial killings targeting progressive individuals in the country, held a hearing here.

Human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao said the 42-year-old Vicente Barrios, chair of the United Workers of Suyafa Farms, was walking on his way to work, along with three others, when waylaid in Crossing Alegra around 5 a.m.

“The incident happened while the victims were on their way to work at the Fresh Banana Agricultural Corp. packing plant 90,” Kelly Delgado, secretary general of Karapatan in the region, said. FBAC is a company owned by the Andres Soriano group and is involved in a dispute with its workers.

Barrios, Aldrin Cortez, 35; Donie Glen Sondon, 24; and Jerson Lastimoso, 26, suffered varying degrees of injuries in the attack, she said.

Based on reports reaching the Compostela police, the suspects were riding a motorcycle and used an “unknown caliber” in shooting the victims.

Delgado said the attempt on Barrios’ life was only among the “series of harassment, grave threat, and intimidation of union leaders and members, particularly in banana plantations in Compostela.”

Delgado said prior to the ambush, Barrios has already been receiving threats particularly after his group filed a money claim last year against FBAC for non-payment of cost of living allowance (Cola), holiday pay, service incentive, and non-wage benefits. She said in June, an armed man barged into Barrios’ house in Barangay Alegra in Compostela. [End]

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