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Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrested at NAIA

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities served the warrant of arrest to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa shorty after she arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday (March 29).

The arrest warrant issued by Judge Acerey Pacheco of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 265 was in connection with her alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and the Securities Regulations Code (SRC).

Prior to her arrival, Ressa posted on Twitter saying she will post bail for the case.

“Landing in a short while to face my latest arrest warrant and the 7th time I will post bail,” she said on Twitter.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed against the online news site, Rappler, over the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts to Indonesian company, Omidyar Network, which has investments in Rappler’s operations.

Such is a violation of the Constitution, according to the complaint, as media entities in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino-owned. This brought up the allegation that Rappler was being controlled by foreign entities.

Rappler maintained that the allegations are not true even after the Court of Appeals ruled that the news website was not fully-owned by Filipinos.

“The grant of control to a foreign entity over a mass media entity, regardless of the actual exercise of such foreign control, is already considered a violation,” the CA ruling said.

After the serving of the arrest warrant, Ressa was escorted to the Pasig RTC to post bail. – Marje Pelayo

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34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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Amal Clooney to represent Rappler’s Maria Ressa

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

(L-R) Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney

MANILA, Philippines – International human rights lawyers Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC will join Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s legal team.

In a statement, Clooney expressed confidence in Maria Ressa as a ‘courageous’ journalist “who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses.”

Ressa is currently facing several criminal cases including tax evasion and cyberlibel.

Together with her team, Clooney promised to protect the rights of journalists in the country with their handling of Ressa’s charges.

“We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ressa said she is ‘delighted’ by Clooney and her team’s willingness to help in her case.

“I have been targeted and attacked simply for being an independent journalist,” Ressa said in a statement.

“I am delighted that Amal Clooney and her team will be representing me at the international level to challenge the violations of my rights and those of the media organization I represent,” the embattled journalist added.

Clooney and Gallagher, both specializing in international law and human rights, are members of the Doughty Street Chambers law firm. – with details from Mai Bermudez

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Ground crew hurt after lightning strikes NAIA Terminal 1

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

Courtesy : Unsplash

MANILA, Philippines – A ground crew member at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was reportedly injured after a lightning struck near the ladder where he was standing on at Terminal 1 on Tuesday night.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal identified the injured ground handler as Joel Arejola, 30, a worker of Macro Asia Company.

Monreal said that based on the incident report, Arejola was assisting an aircraft set to depart for Vancouver, Canada when the lightning struck around 7 p.m. that threw him off the ladder.

“While the ground staff/handling was removing the cable of the ground power unit… noong tinatanggal, nagkaroon ng insidente at tumilapon,” he said.

Arejola sustained abrasions on the leg.

He was quickly assisted by the MIAA medical team before he was brought to a hospital.

Monreal said the incident stresses the importance of suspending ramp operations at NAIA when a red lightning alert is issued.

“That is basically the reason why we are implementing this warning, the red lightning alert, to ensure that the passengers, the workers specifically, are safe because they are pre-warned or forewarned because of these incidents that are coming,” he said.

A red alert warning is issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) when lightning strikes are prevalent in the area and may endanger personnel, passenger and flight operations.

A prolonged lightning red alert may cause delays in flight operations, according to Esperanza Cayanan, chief of Pagasa Weather Division.

“Kung mayroong lightning within 9 kilometers doon sa aerodrome, nag-iissue tayo ng red alert para this will lead to suspension yung ground operation sa Airport,” she explained.

Based on NAIA’s security protocol, ramp movement in the airport are temporarily suspended when a red lightning alert is issued.

Airport personnel and passengers are also advised to leave the ramp for safety reasons.

The MIAA, meanwhile, assured that the NAIA is safe from lightning strikes as it is equipped with 20 lightning arresters to protect electrical and telecommunication facilities from the damaging effect of lightning.

A lightning arrester is a device that captures a lightning surge and diverts it into the ground, which absorbs it. (with details from Joan Nano)

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