Typhoon Kammuri Death Toll Hits 13 In Philippines

 

 

The number of people killed by Typhoon Kammuri’s pounding of the Philippines this week has hit 13, officials said Thursday, as authorities confirmed reports of storm-related deaths.

Kammuri’s fierce winds toppled trees and flattened flimsy homes across a swathe of the nation’s north on Tuesday, and forced a rare 12-hour shutdown of Manila’s international airport.

Authorities said on Wednesday one person had drowned while three died after being hit by trees and flying objects.

Disaster officials did not offer details on how the other victims died, but local police reports indicated some may have drowned or been crushed by trees.

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Mark Timbal, a spokesman for the national disaster agency, said no new bodies have been found but the death toll could rise as reports on the ground are verified.

“There is the possibility of an increase in the number, but we are hoping against it,” Timbal told AFP.

Hundreds of thousands of people living in exposed or low-lying areas were evacuated from their homes before Kammuri made landfall late Monday, which authorities said had saved lives.

Still the storm-damaged 135 schools and destroyed nearly 1,200 homes, with crop damage in the hardest-hit areas estimated to reach nearly $16 million.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.

President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit on Thursday the Bicol region, a peninsula south of Manila which was hit hard by the typhoon.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport was closed half of Tuesday as a precaution, affecting over 500 flights, while roughly half the day’s programme at the Southeast Asian Games, hosted by Manila and nearby cities, had to be postponed.

Huge Saltwater Croc Kills Fisherman In Latest Attack On Philippine Island

This undated handout photo received on October 10, 2019 from the Mimaropa regional police shows Philippine police inspecting a 4.9-metre (16-foot) saltwater crocodile after it was killed.

 

A huge saltwater crocodile killed a Philippines fisherman after snatching him from his boat, local authorities said Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks terrorising a remote southern island.

The 20-year-old was taken by a 4.9-metre (16-foot) croc late Tuesday as he and a colleague sailed back to the island of Balabac after a day of fishing, regional police spokesman Socrates Faltado told AFP.

The next day residents found his body, still in the croc’s jaws, Faltado said.

They then used dynamite to kill it.

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A crocodile also killed a 10-year-old boy in the same area less than two months ago, according to Jovic Fabello, spokesman for a government council that oversees conservation efforts in Palawan, where Balabac is located.

And earlier this year a croc killed a 15-year old boy and a fisherman off the island of about 35,000 people.

Last year crocodiles killed two people around Balabac.

“We have to address the root cause of the incident, which is partly due to habitat destruction. The crocodiles have almost nowhere left to hide, and there is not enough food in their habitat,” Fabello said.

“It’s a competition for space because people don’t want to give in,” he added.

The local crocodile population might also have increased, he said.

The Palawan island group is known for its diversity of flora and fauna, but authorities are increasingly wary of its unchecked development.

Philippines Arrests 270 Chinese Citizens In Fraud Raid

 

 

Philippine police have arrested more than 270 Chinese nationals in a raid on a gang wanted over a vast investment fraud that cost victims in China millions of dollars, authorities said Friday.

Agents swooped on an office building in the capital Manila on Wednesday to take four suspects into custody in connection with the 100 million yuan ($14 million) scam, but stumbled upon many more.

“The operation then yielded the incidental arrest of 273 other Chinese nationals who were caught in the act of conducting illegal online operations,” immigration authorities said, without elaborating.

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Further checking revealed those suspects, who did not have proper papers to be in the Philippines, were also wanted by Chinese authorities over a large-scale investment scam.

A total of 277 people were taken into custody in the operation that Philippine officials carried out in conjunction with Chinese authorities.

The Philippines has seen a spike in the arrival of Chinese tourists and workers since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in mid-2016 and immediately set about warming relations with Beijing.

The influx has had a mixed impact in the Philippines, with authorities suspecting many of the arrivals are working illegally in the online gambling industry.

Amnesty Urges UN Probe Of ‘Systematic’ Philippine Drug War Killings

Butch Olano (L), Amnesty International section representative speaks during a press conference in Manila on July 8, 2019. Ted ALJIBE / AFP

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s narcotics crackdown has become a “systematic” campaign of abuses, Amnesty International alleged on Monday, urging the United Nations to launch a probe into thousands of killings.

The drug war is Duterte’s signature initiative and is heavily supported by many Filipinos, however the nightly killings by police have provoked international condemnation.

In its second report on the crackdown since 2016, Amnesty said targets, mostly poor people, are largely drawn from “drug watch lists”.

Those names are supplied by local officials who are “under immense pressure” from police to provide a steady stream of suspects, the London-based monitor said.

“Worse still, individuals on watch lists appear to be placed on them indefinitely, with no means of getting delisted, even after they have gone through drug treatment or stopped using drugs,” said the report.

Amnesty said it was impossible to determine how many people have been killed in the campaign, accusing Manila of “deliberate obfuscation and misinformation” that has left victims’ kin feeling helpless.

The government’s official toll is just over 5,300 suspects killed by police, but watchdogs say the true number is quadruple that.

“What we believe is most important, in assessing the current situation, is the systematic nature of the violations,” Amnesty’s East Asia director Nicholas Bequelin told AFP.

Amnesty said the press has lost interest in the killings while the government fails to investigate or provide adequate treatment programmes for drug users.

“It has had the effect of creating a climate of total impunity in the country, in which police and others are free to kill without consequence,” it said.

“There is sufficient evidence to conclude that crimes committed may constitute crimes against humanity,” the group added.

‘Failure of international community’

Amnesty said it investigated the deaths of 27 people over the past year in Bulacan, a province near Manila that has become “the country’s bloodiest killing field”.

Police broke down doors before shooting drug suspects inside and abducted others to be killed elsewhere, it alleged.

Police also tampered with crime scenes and fabricated their reports, planted evidence and stole from victims, it added.

“The failure of the international community to meaningfully address the serious human rights violations committed… has emboldened the government to carry out a wider crackdown on independent media, human rights defenders, and political activists,” the report said.

Amnesty called on the UN Human Rights Council to open an independent inquiry to “put an end to these crimes, and to provide justice and reparations for countless families and victims”.

The group’s appeal echoed a draft resolution proposed by Iceland at the UN rights council and backed mainly by Western nations.

With the council expected to vote on the document before ending its sessions on July 12, the Philippine government on Friday reiterated Duterte’s warning to back off.

“Any attempt… by any foreign country to interfere with how this government maintains its peace and order, not only is an affront to their intellect but an interference with the country’s sovereignty as well,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

AFP

Gunmen Attack Manila Hotel

Gun shots and explosions rang out from an entertainment resort in the Philippine capital Manila early on Friday and local media reported armed men were inside the complex.

Resorts World Manila said on social media it was in lockdown and the local fire department said a blaze was burning on the second floor of the building.

Military spokesman Restituto Padilla said the police were in control of the situation and the army was monitoring closely.

Witnesses who spoke to radio stations said several gunmen were seen in the complex. News channel ANC said there were two gunmen, wearing masks and black clothes.

The information could not be immediately verified.

A source at one of the resorts told Reuters that employees were being evacuated and declined to give more details.
No group has claimed responsibility.

Anti-APEC Protests Take Place In Manila

anti-apec-protest

A huge crowd of protesters have taken to the streets of the Manila, the Philippine capital, where leaders are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) regional trade summit.

Hundreds of people from indigenous, student and labour groups clashed with Police, who deployed water cannon.

The anti-globalisation protesters are calling for APEC to be dismantled, accusing the trade bloc of taking advantage of poorer countries.

The summit has been overshadowed by territorial disputes over China’s activities in the South China Sea.

Leaders have also called for greater global anti-terror cooperation, following the Paris attacks.

South Korea Declares ‘De Facto End’ To MERS

MERSThe South Korean Government has declared a “de facto end” to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Prime Minister, Hwang Kyo-Ahn, on Tuesday, said that “there has been no new infections for 23 days”. Therefore, the public “can now be free from worry”.

The Prime Minister also apologised for the government’s much-criticised response to the virus, which had killed 36 people in the country.

“I ask the public to shake off all concerns over MERS and to resume normal daily activities, including economic, cultural, leisure and school activities”.

But the World Health Organization (WHO), said it is not yet declaring MERS officially over.

A spokeswoman in Manila, said the WHO requires 28 days without a new infection to make the announcement; twice the incubation period of the virus.

The outbreak also had a disastrous effect on the economy, with a 40 per cent drop in the number of foreign visitors to South Korea. At least 130,000 foreign tourists cancelled their travel plan to South Korea in June over MERS fear, according to government officials.

MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The disease is part of the corona virus family, which includes the common cold and SARS. It could cause such symptoms as fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.