Albayalde: Cocaine bricks hauled off PH waters may have been bound for Australia

UNTV News   •   February 27, 2019   •   2263

Cocaine bricks intercepted by police along the shores of Camarines Norte, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Quezon from February 10 to 18, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde said on Wednesday that the cocaine bricks recovered off the waters of Mindanao and Luzon in the past two weeks may have been part of a drug shipment bound for Australia.

Albayalde said they are now coordinating with their Australian counterparts to determine the signature of the cocaine slabs in order to confirm if these were among those being used by drug dependents in Australia.

“I talked with my Australian counterpart earlier. Parang nanggaling ito sa Pacific Ocean, pero hindi ito delivery sa Pilipinas (It looks like it came somewhere from the Pacific Ocean and these are not for delivery in the Philippines),” Albayalde told media after his meeting with Australian Federal Police officials.

Both the Philippine and Australian authorities believe that the contraband which floated to the eastern seaboard are connected to the cocaine bricks that were recovered in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea in September last year because of its similar markings.

“Sometime in 2018, ‘yung Australian Federal Police assisted a police [operation in] Solomon Islands, meron silang nakuha na the same nature, the same package na cocaine,” Albayalde said.

The PNP Chief said Australian authorities had reported about the operations they conducted in three drug trafficking incidents in the Pacific Ocean in 2018.

First was in June where two suspects were arrested in Melbourne for conspiring to import and ship 300 kilograms of cocaine from Peru through the Pacific.

The second incident occurred in September in Siassi Island in Papua New Guinea, which yielded the arrest of six Hong Kong nationals and one Montenegro national following a high speed chase. The group allegedly dumped some of the cocaine slabs they were carrying in their boat during the chase but authorities were unable to find it after the operation.

Authorities also seized in September around 500 kilograms of cocaine from a yacht from Solomon Islands bound for Australia.

“Ito ‘yung nakuhang ship noon. Maliit lang kaya there’s a possibility na ito ay mga nag-capsized. Itong nakuha kasi ay yate, saka ang mga ganitong klase, way back in September, may nakuha sa Solomon island na around 500kg of cocaine,” Albayalde said.

“Meron din silang narecover with the help of Australian Police na the same package,” he added.

Since February 10, more than 100 kilograms of cocaine have been recovered on the shorelines or waters off Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Dinagat Island, Quezon, Aurora, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

The PNP is awaiting results of the laboratory examinations of the seized cocaine samples they sent to Australian authorities. – Robie de Guzman (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Australia to force Facebook, Google to pay media companies for content

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

Australia will force U.S. tech giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay Australian media outlets for news content in a landmark move on Friday (July 31) to protect independent journalism that will be watched around the world.

Australia will become the first country to require Facebook and Google to pay for news content provided by media companies under a royalty-style system that will become law this year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

The move comes as the tech giants fend off calls around the world for greater regulation, and a day after Google and Facebook took a battering for alleged abuse of market power from U.S. lawmakers in a congressional hearing.

Following an inquiry into the state of the media market and the power of the U.S. platforms, the Australian government late last year told Facebook and Google to negotiate a voluntary deal with media companies to use their content. (Reuters)

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Australian police say Chinese students being targeted in ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

New South Wales (NSW) Police on Monday (July 27) warned students of Chinese backgrounds studying in Sydney to be aware of a ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam that has obtained millions in payments from unsuspecting victims.

Victims are called by the criminals purporting to be from a Chinese authority like the police or tax department, “the caller then convinces the victim that they have been implicated in a crime in China, or that their identity has been stolen, and that they must pay a fee to avoid legal action, arrest or deportation” said NSW Police in a statement.

“Essentially threatening harm against people, family members in China unless they contrive a photograph that makes them look like they have been kidnapped. Then they encourage the person to lock themselves away in a hotel room, turn their phones off, cease all contact,” Director of NSW Police State Crime Command, Darren Bennett told media.

Bennett added that the phone calls are becoming very common and encourage anyone receiving one to not pay any money. (Reuters)

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Virus cases surge, Australia state bans dancing, singing, mingling

UNTV News   •   July 17, 2020

Australia’s New South Wales state on Friday (July 17) said it was banning dancing, singing and mingling at large-scale gatherings as neighbouring Victoria reported a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases.

Victoria, which has forced nearly 5 million people in the country’s second most populous state into a partial lockdown for more than a week, said it has found 428 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the largest rise so far.

The surge in COVID-19 cases in Victoria has stirred concerns of a national second wave, prompting internal border closures and renewed social distancing restrictions in neighbouring states.

New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, said it has found eight cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, mostly from community transmissions believed to have emanated from Victoria.

In a bid to curtail the spread, NSW state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said new restrictions will be imposed from next week on indoor venues, weddings and funerals. (Reuters)

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