Haze triggers health issues for Indonesian orangutans, rehab center swings into treatment mode

UNTV News   •   September 18, 2019   •   133

More than thirty orangutans in Kalimantan on Tuesday (September 17) were being treated at a rehabilitation center suffering from respiratory issues triggered by smokey forest fires in Indonesia.

Officials from the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) reported that 31 orangutans were suffering from various breathing-related ailments and were being treated with nebulizers and antibiotics.

They said the fires were barely 300 meters from one of the rehabilitation centers in Nyaru Menteng.

The air pollution index in Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Kalimantan province on Borneo, has been at a “dangerous” level for days. Schools in Palangka Raya and another city in Central Kalimantan, Sampit, have been closed this week.

Fires have ripped through more than 328,000 hectares of forests and peatlands in Indonesia since January, causing a choking haze to envelop some cities in Borneo and the island of Sumatra, according to the country’s disaster mitigation agency. (REUTERS)

(Production: Heru Asprihanto, Yuddy Cahya)

Indonesian Navy warships arrive in PH for goodwill visit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2019

Two Indonesian vessels arrived at Alava Pier in Olongapo City on Tuesday (October 15) for a goodwill visit to the Philippines.

The ships, Bung Tomo-class corvette KRI John Lie (358) and SIGMA-class corvette KRI Frans Kaisiepo (368) will remain in the country until October 18.

The visit aims to establish diplomatic relations and promote Indonesian culture and tourism.

“The visiting navy personnel will engage their Filipino counterparts during confidence-building activities such as shipboard tour, reciprocal receptions, and friendly games,” according to the Philippine Navy.

It is the second goodwill visit of Indonesian Navy to the country this year following the arrival of their training ship KRI Bima Suci last August.—AAC

Supreme Court allows deposition of Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia

Robie de Guzman   •   October 11, 2019

Celia Veloso, mother of Filipino death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso reacts during a prayer vigil in Manila, Philippines, 13 September 2016. EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday said it has allowed the taking of the testimony of Filipina death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso against her alleged recruiters through deposition in Indonesia.

The SC’s Third Division granted the petition for review on certiorari that assailed the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) that reversed the August 2016 resolution of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC), allowing Veloso to testify through deposition by written interrogatories.

“Thus, the Court reinstated and affirmed with modification the ruling of the RTC and ordered that the deposition of Mary Jane be taken before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction,” the SC Public Information Office said in a statement.

“To disallow the written interrogatories will curtail Mary Jane’s right to due process,” the SC PIO quoted the SC in its ruling.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Ramon Hernando, was reached last October 9, a week after Veloso’s parents urged the SC to allow their daughter to testify by way of deposition to save her life.

The case was elevated to the high court after Veloso’s parents, represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers, urged the SC to overturn the CA’s order.

The CA reversed the Nueva Ecija court’s ruling and barred Veloso from testifying by way of deposition, saying this will violate the rights of alleged recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao to confront the witness against them.

The SC said that such was not the case of Mary Jane, noting that “she cannot even take a single step out of the prison facility of her own volition without facing severe consequence.”

“Her imprisonment in Indonesia and the conditions attached to her reprieve denied her of any opportunity to decide for herself to voluntarily appear and testify before the trial court in Nueva Ecija where the cases of the respondents of illegal recruitment were pending,” the SC added.

Veloso was arrested in 2010 after she was caught by Indonesian authorities with 2.5 kilograms of heroin in her luggage when she arrived at a Yogyakarta international airport.

Mary Jane denied knowledge of the contraband and accused her recruiters of tricking her and placing the illegal drugs in her bag.

She was charged with drug trafficking before the District Court of Sleman, Yogyakarta, which later sentenced her to death by firing squad.

In 2015, she was given reprieve from execution after Philippine authorities informed their counterparts that Sergio surrendered to police.

Sergio and Lacanilao are on trial for qualified human trafficking, estafa and simple illegal recruitment before the Nueva Ecija RTC.

BOC arrests Indonesian after bag yields P54M worth of shabu

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A female Indonesian was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday after her bag was found with P54 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

The BOC said the Indonesian national, identified as Agnes Alexandra, was apprehended when she arrived from Siem Reap, Cambodia early Monday morning as an X-ray scanning of her luggage showed suspected dangerous drugs.

Upon closer inspection, Customs personnel found eight kilograms of crystalline substances wrapped in aluminum foil and concealed under the lining of the baggage.

The substance turned positive for shabu when subjected to a test.

Alexandra and the confiscated drugs have been turned over to the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The foreigner will face charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

On September 28, the BOC said it also seized a similar shipment from another passenger from Cambodia.

This prompted the bureau to place all flights from the so-called “Golden Triangle” (Laos, Thailand and Myanmar) and neighboring countries under red alert for suspicion that a syndicate with the same name may be behind the illegal shipment.

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