Philippines’ Typhoon Koppu Brings Severe Floods

typhoon-1Heavy rain and floods have affected dozens of villages in the Philippines after typhoon Koppu wrecked havoc and killed at least two people.

Officials said that the typhoon had also forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Troops had been deployed to help residents trapped on rooftops, but are struggling to access more remote areas.

Koppu has now been downgraded to a severe tropical storm by the Japanese meteorological agency, which is responsible for naming and tracking it.

However, the Philippines’ own weather agency, which called the weather System Lando, is still characterising it as a typhoon.

The typhoon triggered head-high floods in 5 villages near Cabanatuan City, prompting rescue operations in the early hours of Monday.

Red Cross Bravo team had rescued 64 people in Barangay Sumakab since 3 a.m. on Monday and volunteers using boats and bangkas continued to rescue residents as many families remained stranded in their homes.

Local police and military officials worked on Sunday to rescue those trapped in flooded villages throughout some of the nation’s hardest hit provinces. Both Aurora and rice-growing province Nueva Ecija were among those swamped by floodwater.

The Philippines government announced on Sunday evening that work in government offices in Regions 1, 2, 3 and Cordillera Administrative Region would be suspended on Monday as Typhoon Koppu continues to hover over northern Luzon.

Presidential spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, said that the suspension of work in government offices in those regions was implemented with the recommendation of the NDRRM.

Gunmen Kidnap Tourists And Local Woman In Philippines

Philippines Tourist KidnapThe military has said that two Canadians, a Norwegian and a local woman have been kidnapped from a tourist resort in the Southern Philippines.

An army spokesman who confirmed the incident, said that they were taken on Monday from the holiday ocean view resort on Samal Island, near Davao City on Mindanao.

He said it appeared that the four persons were targeted rather than taken at random.

The attackers, who had not been identified by police, reportedly fled by boat.

Philippine authorities had named the Canadian abductees as John Ridsel and Robert Hall while the Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, was said to be the manager of the resort.

Since the 1990s, the Southern Philippines had seen sporadic incidents of kidnapping by militant groups, who held hostages for ransom.

The Filipino woman has not been identified, but she is said to be the partner of one of the kidnapped Canadians.

Authorities also said that two Japanese tourists had tried to intervene to prevent the kidnapping, which took place shortly before midnight.

Philippine authorities signed a peace agreement with the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 2014, but continue to battle smaller groups in the south.

The region where Samal is located has been largely peaceful in recent years. The last related incident on Samal took place in 2001 when Islamist separatist group, Abu Sayyaf, attempted to kidnap tourists at another resort.

The group is holding a number of foreign hostages in various remote camps.

Execution Denies Individuals Second Chance If New Evidence Emerges

Charles Adeogun-Philips Indonesia executionAn international prosecutor with The Hague says the “execution denies a criminal a second chance if new forensic evidence shows the individual was innocent”.

Giving his opinion on Friday about the execution of eight persons in Indonesia for drug trafficking, Mr Charles Adeogun-Philips told Channels Television that the grouse of the international community over the execution was based on the expectations that the Indonesian leader should have employed the prerogative of pardon, which he did not explore.

A Philippine woman was granted a stay of execution in the last minute, after new evidence emerged, showing her involvement was framed.

Mr Adeogun-Philips pointed out that if she had been executed before the emergence of new evidence, she would not have had a second chance, stressing the need for the law on execution of criminals to be revisited.

The execution of the eight had drawn condemnations, and the international prosecutor said the international community was at liberty to condemn acts that they consider contrary to international law.

“The Principles behind sentencing an offender of a crime is to Punish the offender, serve as some deterrent to stop people from committing the similar crime, to protect the public and to rehabilitate the offender.

“A major part of the purpose of punishment is to be able to rehabilitate. And in this case, then that defeats the argument as to whether or not having been born again or having been radicalised or whatever they have done in the prison.

“There is the last window for the Indonesian leader to pardon.

“The argument is that once a person has been executed, there is no second chance should a forensic evidence indicate that there is something else,” he said.

However, the international prosecutor stressed that the decision was taken because Indonesia needed to send a message that drug trafficking would be discouraged at the highest level.

“Thirty-three Indonesians apparently die daily from the use of drugs.

“Executions are allowed under their laws.

“It is considered barbaric internationally to conduct executions, but once you step into Indonesia it is very clear that execution is the penalty for drugs trafficking,” he said.

About 58 countries still practice the death penalty and the international community is pushing for the countries to sign on to international laws. But the right lies with the country whether or not to sign on to international laws.

He said that the execution case was carried out based on the domestic laws of the country because Indonesia had not signed on to international law about drug trafficking.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Meets Indonesian Ambassador

persons Executed by the Indonesian govenrment for drug trafficking
Photographs of the eight persons executed by the Indonesian government for drug trafficking displayed at the mortuary.

Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have met with the Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, to express disappointment over the execution of four Nigerians in Indonesia, despite pleas for clemency from the President and other high-level government officials.

The Under-secretary Economy and Consular Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Ibukun Onemola, at the meeting conveyed the request of the Nigerian government for a prisoner exchange program with Indonesia.

Responding, the Indonesian Ambassador, Harry Purwanto, said that his government only carried out the executions after due process and legal procedures had been thoroughly followed.

He also added that Indonesia was not able to enter into any prisoner exchange agreement with Nigeria at the moment.

Indonesia on Tuesday executed eight persons for drug related offences. Four Nigerians were among those executed.

The government of Indonesia had defended the execution of the persons.

The country’s Attorney-General, Muhamad Prasetyo, said Indonesia was wagging war against horrible drug crimes that threatens the nation’s survival.

He added that while execution is not a pleasant thing, it must be done in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs.

An international prosecutor with The Hague said 33 Indonesians apparently die daily from the use of drugs.


Indonesia Execution: Nigeria Seeks Repatriation Of Bodies

Indonesia - ConvictsThe Nigerian government has asked the Indonesian Government for the repatriation of the remains of the executed Nigerians.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the request was made to ensure that the executed persons could be accorded decent burials in their various communities.

Four Nigerians Martin Anderson, Okwudili Oyatanze, Jaminu Abashin and Sylvester Obiekwe were executed on Tuesday by the Indonesian government for drug related offences.

“Despite Spirited Pleas”

The Ministry said the government of Nigeria received the news of the execution with deep disappointment.

“These executions have taken place despite spirited pleas for clemency made at the highest level by President Goodluck Jonathan and more recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali, on 21 April, during the 10th Anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership Summit which took place in Indonesia, Jakarta,” the statement read.

INDONESIA execution
Photographs of executed drug convicts displayed at the hospital morgue in Jakarta.

The Nigerian government further expressed its condolences to the families of the deceased, saying it had requested for their remains so they could be accorded decent burial.

Indonesia had defended the execution of the four Nigerians and four others.

The country’s Attorney-General, Muhamad Prasetyo, said Indonesia is waging war against horrible drug crimes that threatens the nation’s survival.

‘Desist From Drug Trafficking’

He added that while execution is not a pleasant thing, it must be done in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs.

“We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came,” Prasetyo said.

The convicts were shot by firing squad along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas for mercy from family members.

Also expressing its commitment to the fight against drugs, the Nigerian government warned all Nigerians to desist from drug trafficking and other offences that attract maximum punishment in several countries of the world.

The government promised that it would continue to promote the welfare and protect the lives of Nigerians abroad, no matter their circumstances.

It also expressed its commitment to engaging the Government of Indonesia and other friendly countries regarding the conclusion of Prisoner Transfer Agreements and other bilateral means of safeguarding the interest and welfare of Nigerians.

Indonesia Defends Execution Of Drug Convicts

The government of Indonesia has defended the execution of eight people, including four Nigerians, convicted for drug offenses.

The country’s Attorney-General, Muhamad Prasetyo, said Indonesia is wagging war against horrible drug crimes that threatens the nation’s survival.

He added that while execution is not a pleasant thing, it must be done in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs.

“We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came,” Prasetyo said.

The convicts were shot by firing squad along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas from family members.

All the condemned men reportedly refused blindfolds and sang hymns, among them “amazing grace”, as they went to face the firing squad in a jungle clearing.

As the clock ticked down to midnight, a group of tearful supporters also sang hymns, embraced and held candles aloft, during a vigil at the port in Cilacap, the gateway to the prison Island of Nusakambangan.

A Filipina originally set to be executed was however, given an 11th hour reprieve after a woman, who allegedly tricked her into ferrying drugs to Indonesia,  turned herself in to the police in the Philippines.

43 UNDOF Peacekeepers Detained, 81 Trapped By Syria Militants

A member of UNDOF rides atop an armoured vehicle on Golan HeightsMilitants fighting the Syrian army have detained 43 U.N. peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and trapped another 81 in the region, and the world body is working to secure their release, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The affected peacekeepers are from the Philippines and Fiji, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

“During a period of increased fighting beginning yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights, 43 peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained early this morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah,” the U.N. press office said in a statement.

It added that another 81 UNDOF peacekeepers were being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah. Dujarric said that the 81 trapped troops were from the Philippines and the 43 seized ones from Fiji.

“The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore the full freedom of movement of the force throughout its area of operation,” it said.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, President of the Security Council, this month, told reporters the trapped peacekeepers were surrounded by Islamist militants.

The 15-nation Security Council, which was meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria, was also discussing the issue of the kidnapped peacekeepers, Lyall Grant said.

The Philippine army said in a statement that militants had surrounded the Philippine contingent’s encampments with Fijian hostages in tow and demanded that the Filipino troops surrender their firearms.

“The Philippine peacekeepers held their ground and demonstrated their resolve to defend their positions,” it said. “They did not surrender their firearms as they may in turn be held hostage themselves.”

The Security Council issued a statement strongly condemning the seizure of the peacekeepers and calling for their immediate release. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed the council’s words in his own statement of condemnation.

Reporters asked Dujarric if the United Nations was in contact with the group holding the Fijians. He declined to specify who the world body was in contact with but said there was communication underway.

“There are contacts being held at different levels, on the mission and on the ground,” he said. “They are talking to representatives of various armed groups that they have … operational contact with. They are talking to countries in the region.”

Dujarric was also asked about the rules for peacekeepers in such situations.

“In extreme circumstances, these troops are trained and prepared and equipped to defend themselves, but, obviously, each situation has to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

U.N. officials say that the peacekeepers, whose job is to monitor the cessation of hostilities, carry small arms that are only to be used in extreme circumstances. In previous situations where UNDOF peacekeepers were held hostage, the troops did not use their weapons.

The Quneitra crossing on the Golan is a strategic plateau captured by Israel in a 1967 Middle East war. Syria and Israel technically remain at war. Syrian troops are not allowed in an area of separation under a 1973 ceasefire formalized in 1974.

UNDOF monitors the area of separation, a narrow strip of land running about 45 miles (70 km) from Mount Hermon on the Lebanese border to the Yarmouk River frontier with Jordan. There are 1,223 UNDOF peacekeepers from six countries.



SUNRISE: Securing The Nigerian Child

Nigeria Lead PoisoningOne in five children in Nigeria reportedly dies before the age of five due to minor preventable ailments that have long been eradicated in other countries; while yet others have been orphaned due to AIDS-related diseases or inter-tribal wars, or as a result of activities of insurgents.

It is estimated that over two million girls are subjected to genital mutilation every year, a practice still rampant in some parts of Nigeria and all religious groups.

Intervention in the practice is considered as a violation of privacy, yet many girls face several health risks through this, including severe bleeding and contraction of HIV infection through the use of unhygienic methods in carrying out the procedure. Statistical data shows that adolescent girls have HIV rate up to five percent higher than their male counterparts.

According to a recent United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, one out of every five Nigerian children is out of school, topping the table of 12 other countries with which it accounts for 47 % of the global out-of-school population.

The other countries are: Pakistan, Ethiopia, India, Philippines, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Others include Niger, Kenya, Yemen, Mali and South Africa.

Speaking on this segment of Sunrise, the Assistant Director, Children Services, Salford City Council, England, Gani Martins and Kendi Aig-Imoru share their thoughts.

BOXING: Pacquiao-Rios Fight Build Up Marred By Trainers’ Altercation

The build up to Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Brandon Rios at the weekend was marred on Wednesday by a spat between the two camps.

Pacquiao’s coach Freddie Roach and his counterpart Robert Garcia were involved in a slanging match at a gym in Macau.

Rios was booked in to train from 9am until 11am with Pacquiao due after him, and when Roach and others from the Filipino’s team arrived, he became involved in a furious exchange with Garcia and members of Rios’ entourage.

The dispute added an extra edge to the pre-fight press conference, with promoter Bob Arum joking that he would get an American television celebrity to adjudicate.

“There is a controversy and it has to be decided,” said Arum. “So I’ve asked my wife, Lovee, who’s sitting out there, to call our friend Judge Judy. And we’re going to do something on Skype and each of them will present the case and Judy will decide. I don’t know if you Chinese people, know who Judge Judy is?”

The incident didn’t seem to impress Pacquiao, who is dedicating the fight to those in the Philippines who lost their lives to Typhoon Haiyan.

“No trash talking before the fight,” he said. “It’s not a good example to all the people who are admiring boxing. For me, all I can say is that if anyone has a grievance against anyone, forgive as the Lord forgives. All I can say is this is a sport, nothing personal. We are doing our job in the ring and after that, you know, nothing personal… this is our job to perform and entertain people.

After cutting a swathe through the lighter weights between 2005 and 2011 when he won world titles from super-featherweight through to welterweight, Pacquiao has lost his last two fights, a split decision to Timothy Bradley and a sixth round knockout to fierce rival Juan Manuel Marquez.

At 34 and with 18 years and 61 fights as a professional behind him, Pacquiao is past his peak, but is keen to raise his game for what could, potentially, be the final time given what has happened in his native country.

Roach, who has long guided Pacquiao’s career, said the former eight-weight world champion was in the shape of his life having trained in the Philippines for the fight in his native General Santos City.

“We had a great training,” he said. “Manny’s been training really hard for this fight. General Santos was a great training camp. Manny was at home nd he was very comfortable. Every day was a good day. We did a lot of hard work. I came about six weeks ago but Willy McMillan ran the camp for the first two weeks and did a great job. Manny’s in the best shape of his life and I expect him to have the performance of a lifetime and I’ve never seen him look better.”

Speaking briefly about the earlier bust up, Roach sought to lay the blame on Garcia. Garcia, for his part, said that Roach was at fault.

It shouldn’t detract from what should be a fascinating encounter, especially as Rios says he has improved his discipline ahead of the fight.

Twice recently Rios came in overweight for lightweight title fights, and he lost last time out to Mike Alvarado when challenging for the interim WBO light-welterweight title.

He should be more comfortable at welterweight, and said Pacquaio would be in for a shock if he had underestimated him.

The fight is slated to hold on Saturday, November 23, at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China.