Makabayan bloc believes boat captain was pressured to change statements

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 21, 2019   •   1610

Courtesy :Secretary Manny Piñol’s FB page

Makabayan bloc believes that the boat captain of the sunken fishing vessel was pressured to change statements after their meeting with Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said the fishermen might have been intimidated or bribed in order to change their statements about the incident.

“There was really a pressure. They are bombarded by so much misinformation. Itinu-twist ang kanilang statement siguro may mga pagbabanta pa and offer of parang bina-bribe bigyan ng mga ganitong bangka etc. but it will not erase the fact, (They twist [the fishermen’s] statement maybe there are even threats and bribes. They may have bribed them with these kinds of boats etc.),” he said.

Outgoing Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano said the Reed Bank fishermen are facing a lot of pressure.

The group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) called for transparency on the closed-door meeting with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

“We demand an explanation and transparency from Piñol on what actually happened inside that house that led to the complete turnaround on the position of the boat captain on the incident that happened on the night of June 9,” their statement reads.

In a radio interview, Secretary Piñol denied there was any intimidation during the meeting. He said his actions are only brought by good intentions.

Meanwhile, Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Sato said there should be a ‘marine inquiry’ on the incident.

“Kami po ay humihiling, sa lalong madaling panahon, na magkaroon ng marine inquiry, (We wish to have a marine inquiry as soon as possible)” she said.

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan warns citizens of pneumonia deadlier than COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan has warned its citizens on Thursday (July 9) to take precautions against an outbreak of pneumonia in the country that it says is more lethal than COVID-19.

It said in a statement on its official website late on Thursday that there had been a “significant increase” in cases in the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

On Friday (July 10), however, Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry branded Chinese media reports based on the embassy statement as “fake news”.

The ministry said its tallies of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia infections, which also included cases of unclear causes, were in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declined to comment on the issue directly during a Friday (July 10) briefing in Beijing, instead referring media to “the relevant authorities in Kazakhstan”.

“China also hopes to obtain information on this,” Zhao said.

Kazakhstan, which imposed a second lockdown this week to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, has a tally of almost 55,000 COVID-19 infections, including 264 deaths. The number of new cases rose on Thursday to a daily record of 1,962.

On Tuesday (July 7), state news agency Kazinform said the number of pneumonia cases “increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019”.

In its statement, the Chinese embassy had said pneumonia in Kazakhstan killed 1,772 people in the year’s first half, with 628 deaths in June, including Chinese citizens.

It is unclear whether the said pneumonia it referred to was caused by a virus related to coronavirus or a different strain. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Fang Nanlin)

China says willing to join arms treaty if U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Wang Shubing)

Heavy security as China opens national security office in Hong Kong

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

A special office to oversee national security in Hong Kong officially commenced operations on Wednesday (July 8) amidst heavy security.

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, charged with overseeing implementation of the controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, held a ceremony in the early hours of the morning.

The new law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

There was a heavy police presence outside the Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong, which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the new office. Police had erected water barriers and put in place crowd control measures overnight, restricting residents and foreign media from observing the ceremony.

Residents in the area expressed surprise about the rapid speed of opening in the new office, and the apparent lack of advance notice to the community.

“Everything that they have organized is quite secret”, said one resident, a 62-year-old interior designer giving his name as John Lee. “They have to let the citizens be informed earlier.”

The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay is located opposite Victoria Park, home of the annual candlelight rallies in memory of China’s bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown. (Reuters)

(Production: Aleksander Solum)

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