Philippines Bid To Extend SEA Games Basketball Reign

 

The Philippines men’s basketball team will shoot for their 13th consecutive title when they take on Thailand in the last full day of action at the Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday.

A home crowd at the MOA Arena will be expecting their team to add to the Philippines’ 140 gold medals — already their best ever — and improve on the team’s run of 17 wins in 19 basketball events since 1977.

Tuesday is the last major day of competition at the SEA Games which has seen thousands of athletes from 11 countries compete in a record 56 sports in venues across Clark, Manila and Subic.

After a rocky start with organisational gaffes, a presidential apology and deadly Typhoon Kammuri forcing cancellations, the biggest-ever SEA Games is close to the finish line, with just beach handball and the closing ceremony taking place on Wednesday.

Indonesia take on Vietnam at Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium for the men’s football title on Tuesday night, and the host nation also face Indonesia in the men’s volleyball final.

In the final night of athletics at the new, 20,000-seat stadium in New Clark City, golds will be decided in several events including women’s shot put, men’s triple jump, decathlon and 4x400m relays.

eSports, which is being contested for the first time at an Olympic-recognised multi-sport competition, will crown champions in Starcraft II and Tekken 7.

Earlier, it was a one-two for Vietnam in the men’s open water 10km swimming event in Subic, as Tran Tan Trieu beat Nguyen Huy Hoang by two minutes in a time of 1hr 53 mins 31 secs.

AFP

Typhoon Kammuri Death Toll Hits 13 In Philippines

Residents collect wood for home use on a flooded rice field caused by Typhoon Kammuri in Ilagan on December 5, 2019.  BILL VISAYA / AFP

 

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.

Mark Timbal, 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.

AFP

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.

Typhoon Kammuri Kills Two In Philippines

Residents help carry a wooden fishing boat into a secured area along the coast in Borongan town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines, on December 2, 2019, as they prepare for Typhoon Kammuri.  Alren BERONIO / AFP

 

Typhoon Kammuri killed at least two people in the Philippines on Tuesday as it tore roofs off houses and forced the international airport in Manila to shut down.

The storm roared ashore late Monday and passed south of Manila — home to 13 million people — and thousands of athletes at the regional Southeast Asian Games.

Just before it exited into the South China Sea, the typhoon killed two people in the central island of Mindoro, where one man was crushed by a falling tree and another killed by a flying piece of lumber, police said.

Ahead of the storm’s arrival a 33-year-old man was electrocuted on Monday while securing a roof against the winds, which by late Tuesday weakened to a maximum of 130 kilometres (81 miles) per hour.

Authorities were still assessing the storm’s impact, but a small local airport was seriously damaged, many power poles toppled and homes were battered.

“A lot of trees fell… There were a lot of roofs flying during the typhoon too,” said Junie Castillo, a disaster officer in one of the areas first hit.

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport was “closed for operations” due to high winds, leaving nearly 500 flights cancelled, general manager Ed Monreal told AFP.

Flights would resume at 11:00 pm (1500 GMT), Monreal later told a news conference.

One of the terminals AFP visited, which would normally be bustling with morning departures, was occupied by a handful of staff and stranded passengers.

One traveller, 23-year-old Canadian Constance Benoit, was hit with a nearly day-long delay to her flight back home.

She had arrived in Manila on a typhoon-buffeted flight Monday morning from the central island of Cebu.

“It was the most turbulent flight I ever took in my life,” she told AFP. “I just discovered what airsickness is.”

About 340,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in the central Bicol region, disaster officials said.

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.

The country’s deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

 Games rescheduled 

Kammuri had already snarled some plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday and are set to run through December 11 in and around Manila.

The typhoon forced organisers to reschedule about half of the events set for Tuesday, but they pledged the competition would finish on time.

Kammuri wrought particular havoc on water-based and outdoor competitions, causing more than a dozen events to be postponed.

The storm is another difficulty for the Games, which suffered from a string of logistical glitches and a rush of last-minute construction in the run-up to Saturday’s opening.

The competition, which is spread across three main sites that are hours’ drive apart, includes a Games-record 56 sports and dozens of venues.

Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year’s 30th edition — the biggest ever — along with another 12,000 volunteers.

AFP

Thousands Flee As Typhoon Kammuri Disrupts Southeast Asian Games In Philippines

Residents help carry a wooden fishing boat into a secured area along the coast in Borongan town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines, on December 2, 2019, as they prepare for Typhoon Kammuri. Alren BERONIO / AFP

 

 

Tens of thousands of people sheltered in evacuation centres as powerful Typhoon Kammuri barreled towards the Philippines on Monday, disrupting plans for the Southeast Asian Games events near the capital Manila.

Kammuri is forecast to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday in the nation’s east with intense rains and potent wind gusts of up to 185 kilometres (115 miles) per hour, forecasters said.

The storm is on track to then pass close to Manila, which is home to some 13 million people and the site for many of the SEA Games events.

Nearly 70,000 people have already fled their homes in the Bicol region, which is where the typhoon is expected to strike first.

“We hope there won’t be any damage, but given its (Kammuri’s) strength, we can’t avoid it,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency, told AFP.

“We have preemptively evacuated people in areas that are in the storm’s direct path.”

The weather bureau also warned of rain-induced landslides and possible storm surges of up to three meters (10 feet) which could hit coastal areas in the nation’s east.

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.

The country’s deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

– Games plagued by build-up woes –

Kammuri is already snarling plans for the SEA Games, which opened Saturday for thousands of athletes from the region and is set to run through to December 11 in and around Manila.

Windsurfing was halted as a precaution and triathlon events were held earlier than scheduled.

Organisers told reporters Monday that each sport is overseen by delegates and ultimately they would make the call on any possible cancellations or rescheduling.

Ramon Suzara, the chief operating officer of the organising committee, said contingency plans were in place for bad weather, but the duration of the Games would not be extended.

“For example, basketball or volleyball, normally if there are typhoons, which has been done, the competition continues if necessary but without spectators,” he said.

The storm is the latest trouble for the Games, which saw a series of transport snafus and a rush of last-minute construction ahead of the opening.

This year’s Games in Clark, Manila and Subic are already particularly complex, with a record 56 sports across dozens of venues that are in some cases hours apart by car.

Around 8,750 athletes and team officials are expected at this year’s 30th edition — the biggest ever — along with another 12,000 volunteers. Organisers hope more than 500 million viewers will tune in on TV by the end of the competition on December 11.

The Philippines have made a strong start to the Games, rising to the top of the medal table with over 50 in total, ahead of Vietnam in second and Thailand in third.

The host nation added to their haul of gold medals on Monday with wins in downhill mountain biking and stick-wielding martial art arnis, while claiming a silver in the rescheduled men’s duathlon event in Subic.

A glitzy dancesport competition in Clark on Sunday saw the Philippines pick up 10 golds.

Philippines Marks Massacre Anniversary With Calls For Justice

 

Relatives of 58 people slain in the Philippines’ worst political massacre held a tearful vigil Saturday to mark a decade since the killings, voicing anger at the slow pace of justice.

Tearful family members lit candles and released white balloons as children sang a chorus calling for justice at a southern Philippine town where 58 people, including 32 media workers, were slaughtered and dumped in roadside pits in November 2009.

“We have known for a long time who the guilty parties are. They must come out with the rightful decision now,” Jergin Malabanan, whose mother was among the journalists killed in one of the world’s deadliest ever attacks on media workers, told AFP.

Malabanan, who was 15 at the time, became the sole breadwinner for herself and four younger siblings with the death of her mother Gina de la Cruz, who was separated from her husband.

Ampatuan family dynasty leaders, who ruled the impoverished southern province of Maguindanao, are charged with organising the killing in a bid to quash an election challenge from local rival Esmael Mangudadatu.

The case has dragged on for years, with allegations of bribery and delay tactics against the defence, which once included Salvador Panelo, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman.

The trial ended in July, but the Supreme Court gave the lower court judge until December 20 to go over the evidence on which her verdict on some 100 defendants will be based.

A low-flying military helicopter dropped a shower of flowers Saturday as about a thousand relatives, journalists, friends and local officials gathered around a hilltop concrete marker where the 58 victims’ names were inscribed.

“Let us keep our guard up,” Mangudadatu, now a member of the House of Representatives, told the relatives, warning them the killers would likely use the appeals courts against any unfavourable verdict.

“We expect that my brother and the rest of the victims will finally get justice soon,” Freddie Ridao, a member of the executive council of the nearby city of Cotabato told AFP.

Though the Ampatuans no longer hold top elected posts in Maguindanao, official results show at least 25 of them, including one of the principal defendants who is out on bail, won local seats in May’s elections.

Toll Rises To 21 In Philippines Quakes

An undated handout photo released on November 3, 2019 by the Philippine Information Agency-Region 12 (PIA-XII) shows rescuers and soldiers evacuating villagers to a helicopter after they were trapped in their mountaintop homes due to landslides triggered by earthquakes in the last two weeks, in Makilala town in North Cotabato province on the southern island of Mindanao. DANNY DOGUILLES / Philippine Information Agency / AFP

 

 

The death toll in two powerful quakes that struck the southern Philippines in the past week has risen to 21, authorities said Sunday, as survivors struggled to access food and water.

The 6.6-magnitude and 6.5-magnitude quakes hit the island of Mindanao two days apart, destroying buildings and displacing tens of thousands of residents.

Some villagers staying under tents near a highway were begging for help from passing motorists, carrying placards asking for food and water, TV footage showed.

Rescuers had found more bodies, many crushed by falling debris and landslides caused by the violent shaking, the national disaster council said.

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The quakes also left 432 residents injured with two people still missing, it added.

Thursday’s big quake was the third since mid-October in the Mindanao region, which makes up a third of the Philippines.

Temporary shelters have been set up to house more than 20,000 displaced individuals — many already there since the first quake struck on October 16, leaving seven people dead.

On Sunday, rescuers continued their evacuation of families whose houses were endangered by landslides, while several residents trapped in mountainous villages had been airlifted to safety.

The government said aid has reached affected communities and instructed people sleeping near the road to go to evacuation centres for help.

The Philippines suffers regular tremors as part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

AFP

One Dead As Strong 6.4-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Philippines

 

A child was killed in a strong 6.4-magnitude quake that hit the southern Philippines on Wednesday, a local mayor said, as houses collapsed, power was knocked out and a shopping mall burst into flames.

Residents evacuated homes and buildings across the Mindanao region including a mall that caught fire in the city of General Santos shortly after the quake struck in the evening, officials said.

The child died in a house collapse in the town of Datu Paglas, while four residents of nearby Tulunan town were injured when at least two other houses fell down, Tulunan Mayor Reuel Limbungan told AFP.

“The child was crushed by a collapsed house wall” and pronounced dead in hospital, Limbungan said, adding that he had visited the medical facility and spoken to its director.

Rescue and local officials said there were no immediate reports of deaths elsewhere in Mindanao, and rescue official Anthony Allada told local television that 20 people were treated for injuries in the town of Magsaysay, near the epicentre.

The quake was 14 kilometres (8.6 miles) deep and was followed by at least two aftershocks, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

“It was the most powerful earthquake I have ever experienced,” Sara Duterte, mayor of the largest Mindanao city of Davao and daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, told local television.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

 Falling debris 

An elderly man was treated for injuries after being struck by a falling object as a Davao mall was evacuated, local TV reported.

Jerome Barranco, civil defence officer for the region, said several people were also injured in the city of Kidapawan “as a result of falling debris”.

In General Santos, television footage showed firemen battling a raging blaze that engulfed the three-storey Gaisano shopping mall.

It was not known if there were still people inside the building, which was evacuated as the quake struck.

Coastal residents of Davao fled their homes in fear of a tsunami, but rescue workers were trying to convince them to return as no warning was issued, city civil defence chief Rodrigo Bustillo told local television.

“Our volunteers are out to calm the people and tell them there is no tsunami,” Bustillo added.

Chief Philippine government seismologist Renato Solidum said there was no risk of a tsunami because it occurred inland, but he advised residents to check their homes for possible damage.

“We ran out of the police station, and we also let the inmates at the municipal jail out,” patrolwoman Celina Sarte told AFP by telephone from the town of Bansalan.

She said the 10 prisoners were put in handcuffs outside moments later.

AFP

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.

Philippines ‘Open’ To Dengue Vaccine As Outbreak Kills Hundreds

 

As hundreds die in a severe dengue outbreak in the Philippines, many of them children, President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he was open to lifting his government’s blanket ban on the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Manila prohibited the import, sale and distribution of the drug — manufactured by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi — after parents blamed it for the deaths of several dozen children who were among more than 700,000 people immunised in a state-run trial programme.

After the Dengvaxia scare caused Filipinos to shy away from vaccines, the country was hit with measles and dengue outbreaks that have so far killed nearly a thousand people this year. The government declared a dengue epidemic on Tuesday.

While he was “in a quandary” regarding the use of Dengvaxia, Duterte said the perceived risk had to be weighed against the 662 deaths from out of the 146,000-plus dengue cases monitored by the government so far this year.

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“Yes, I am open to the use of Dengvaxia again. So many people are dead. It’s an epidemic. Now compare it vis-a-vis, with those who died (allegedly due to the vaccine),” Duterte told reporters.

Dengue, or haemorrhagic fever, is the world’s most common mosquito-borne virus and infects an estimated 390 million people in more than 120 countries each year — killing more than 25,000 of them, according to the World Health Organization.

It said Dengvaxia is now licensed for use in 20 other countries.

The dengue-prone Philippines in 2016 became the first nation to use Dengvaxia in a mass immunisation programme.

But controversy arose after Sanofi disclosed a year later that it could worsen symptoms for people not previously infected by the virus.

The disclosure sparked a nationwide panic, with some parents alleging the vaccine killed their children, though a government-commissioned investigation found no conclusive proof that it did.

Nonetheless, Manila banned Dengvaxia, and had Sanofi reimburse it for the vaccines used in the immunisation programme.

The controversy also triggered a vaccine scare that the government said was a factor behind measles outbreaks that the United Nations Children’s Fund said have killed more than 200 people this year.

“Me, I’d rather go on the side of science,” said Duterte, whose 15-year-old daughter was among those given Dengvaxia shots.

“If there’s anything there, in the Western medicine, and even these herbal or Oriental, if it will mean saving people’s lives, I’ll go for it.”

Before the government makes a decision, Duterte said he would like to “hear the word of the experts”.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque had said Tuesday that Dengvaxia was not recommended by the WHO for combating outbreaks, and in any case was not for children aged below nine who were the most affected in the current epidemic.

Death Toll In Philippines Boat Accidents Rise To 25

This photo taken on August 3, 2019, shows fishermen carrying a dead body of a victim after a boat accident that happened in Iloilo-Guimaras Strait. /AFP

 

The death toll from three boats sinking surged to 25 as rescuers retrieved more bodies from the sea off the central Philippines, officials said Sunday.

Squalls tipped over the three wooden-hulled outriggers in the Guimaras Strait on Saturday as the rest of the country was battered by rains induced by seasonal southwest monsoon winds, the coastguard said.

The bodies of 14 passengers and crew were recovered, civil defence official Franco Agudo told AFP, taking the toll to 25.

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Regional police chief Rene Pamuspusan also confirmed Sunday that 25 people had died, with six others still missing. He said 55 individuals were rescued.

On Sunday the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) released a dramatic photo of rescue divers placing two corpses, one still wearing a red life vest, on top of the only parts of one boat left above water.

The Southeast Asian archipelago nation has a poor shipping safety record, with scores dying in maritime mishaps every year, usually aboard boats that move people from one small island to another.

Sea accidents historically spike during the middle of the year, when the country is frequently hit by storms and typhoons.