Firm illegally sending OFWs to Poland padlocked

For reportedly illegally sending overseas Filipino workers to Poland, the Department of Migrant Workers shut down yesterday a consultancy firm in Makati......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarFeb 12th, 2024

DMW shuts down firm for illegal recruitment

Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople on Friday ordered the closure of a travel consultancy agency for allegedly illegally recruiting applicants for jobs in Malta and Poland......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 4th, 2023

China Coast Guard takes control measures against Philippine vessels

China on Sunday condemned the Philippines for violating China's territorial sovereignty by sending coast guard vessels and other ships into the waters adjacent to the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands to deliver supplies to an illegally "stranded" warship."China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including the Ren'ai Reef, and their adjacent waters," said Gan Yu, a spokesperson for China C.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsDec 13th, 2023

China says Philippines intruded into waters adjacent to Ren ai Reef and is responsible for vessels scratching

China on Sunday condemned the Philippines for violating China's territorial sovereignty by sending coast guard vessels and ships into the waters adjacent to the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands to deliver supplies to illegally "stranded" warship. "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including the Ren'ai Reef, and their adjacent waters," said Gan Yu, a spokesperson for China Coast Gua.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsDec 11th, 2023

China says Philippines intruded into waters adjacent to Ren ai Reef and is responsible for vessels scratching

China on Sunday condemned the Philippines for violating China's territorial sovereignty by sending coast guard vessels and ships into the waters adjacent to the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands to deliver supplies to illegally "stranded" warship. "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including the Ren'ai Reef, and their adjacent waters," said Gan Yu, a spokesperson for China Coast Gua.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 10th, 2023

Relatives of aspiring OFWs sue Italian firm over alleged fraud

Filipino executives of Italy-based consultancy firm Alpha Assistenza SRL are accused of defrauding fellow Filipinos after failing to deliver promised jobs in Italy for thousands of euros.....»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 4th, 2023

Crypto crackdown intensifies on Hamas finance

Cryptocurrency has become the latest front in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, analysts say. Israeli and US authorities have intensified their financial hunt into Hamas in recent days as they track illicit funds via digital currencies. Ari Redbord, global policy head at crypto tracking specialist TRM Labs, said there is now less crypto transfer activity on pro-Hamas support networks as a result. "We are seeing a lot less activity in some respects since the war began," Redbord told AFP. This is "primarily because Israel has been very aggressive and successful in taking down these fundraising efforts", he added. Israel has bombed Gaza in response to an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas militants who, while firing a massive rocket barrage, killed more than 1,400 people and took 222 hostages on 7 October, according to Israeli authorities. Israeli strikes have now killed more than 6,500 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Shadowy world Cryptocurrency is regarded as a speedy way to move cash that is unregulated by any central bank and is less traceable than a traditional bank transfer. The shadowy world of digital units, based on decentralized blockchain technology, has gained notoriety for illicit transactions due to its under-the-radar appeal. Two weeks ago, Israeli police revealed they had located and frozen accounts linked to Hamas that sought "to solicit donations on social networks" via Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange. A Binance spokeswoman said it "follows internationally recognized sanctions rules, blocking the small number of accounts linked to illicit funds". Redbord, formerly a senior US government adviser, said Hamas had adopted crypto from 2019 at the latest, to seek funding via the Telegram messaging network and even on its own website. Hamas decided in April that it would no longer accept cash via Bitcoin due to increased global surveillance of the world's biggest digital unit. Crypto fundraising is now operated via a network of Hamas-linked support groups. TRM Labs has closely monitored virtual crypto wallets linked to such support groups since the start of the war. And it has concluded that much smaller amounts of cash than usual are being moved. Two weeks after the attacks, support group Gaza Now received less than $6,000 in one of its crypto wallets, Redbord noted. That compared with $800,000 in total since the wallet's creation in August 2021. Meanwhile, authorities are well aware that digital assets are a minor part of a complex funding picture. The US State Department estimates that Iran funnels $100 million per year to Palestinian groups including Hamas. 'Small piece of puzzle' "Cryptocurrency is a very small piece of a larger financing puzzle for Hamas," said Redbord. "They are looking to Iran; they're... imposing taxes on the Palestinians; they have a network of charities and a diaspora of supporters who are sending donations not in cryptocurrencies." "But crypto does play a role," he said. Digital currencies still represent a significant revenue stream for Hamas and other allied groups. Crypto addresses identified by Israel as being linked to Hamas received about $41 million between August 2020 and July 2023, according to Israeli analytics and software firm BitOK. Other crypto addresses linked to Islamic Jihad received in excess of $154 million between October 2022 and September 2023, with some still active, it adds. Some players in the sector simply turn a blind eye. "Some cryptoasset businesses are intentionally or unwittingly allowing misuse of the crypto ecosystem," said Joby Carpenter, an expert on the industry. "This trend is magnified where exchanges are based in lightly or unregulated jurisdictions," he told AFP. The post Crypto crackdown intensifies on Hamas finance appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 26th, 2023

Belarusian exiles lose hope

When police in Belarus began knocking on doors and interrogating citizens suspected to have taken part in pro-democracy rallies three years ago, Maxim Isayev knew he could never go back. Like thousands of others, the 32-year-old engineer and father of two peacefully protested against the disputed re-election of strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 and is currently wanted by the country’s authorities. “I know that they came to my address in Belarus and searched for me,” Maxim told AFP in Warsaw, where he now lives with his wife and children. More than 100,000 people are thought to have left Belarus since security forces began violently cracking down on dissidents, many of whom fled to neighboring Poland and the Baltic states. Lukashenko now wants to shut them out for good. In January, he signed a law allowing courts to strip “extremist” dissidents living abroad of their citizenship, and in September he blocked Belarusian embassies from issuing passports. The decision effectively deprives thousands of Belarusian dissidents of the ability to renew their passports unless they return, making it difficult for them to travel internationally, access public services, open bank accounts or obtain employment. “If people are forced to return to Belarus, many of them will be exposed to rights violations, like arbitrary arrest, and torture,” UN rights expert Anais Marin told AFP after the decision. Describing Lukashenko’s decree as “outrageous,” she called on all governments to refrain from sending Belarusians back to their country over invalidated or expired passports. For Maxim, who fears he faces multiple criminal charges including terrorism, returning is not an option. “I took part in the protests. Rallies, marches, calls for sanctions,” he said. “There are more than ten counts I could be charged with.” Since 1994, Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron fist, in what critics have called Europe’s last dictatorship. Elections held in August 2020 resulted in another landslide victory for the long-time leader, a result which the opposition decried as blatantly falsified. The fallout from the vote led to the biggest protests in Belarus’ modern history, which were soon followed by a record number of arrests. “There are situations where people were travelling to the funeral of their relatives. They were detained and put in jail,” said Helena Niedzwiecka, founder of the Belarusian Solidarity Center that supports exiles in Poland. “You can be imprisoned for liking a post in 2020.” Maxim, whose families’ passports expire in 2024, debated with his wife whether it was safe for her to go back, given she had made fewer political posts. “I said okay, if you want to go, you are an adult... Take one of the children.” “You will get a few years for your political views,” Maxim said. “And they will put the child into an orphanage.” They decided against the idea. Lukashenko has criticized those who have sought refuge abroad as disloyal, casting them as “criminals” who do not deserve citizenship. “Are these people worthy to remain citizens of Belarus if they have fled their native country and actually severed ties with it?” he asked at a government meeting last year. Most dissidents say it is the state that severed ties with them. “My contract with my country was terminated in 2020,” said Inga Okava, a 49-year-old former volunteer who was jailed for trying to independently monitor the 2020 elections. “They falsified everything that everybody wanted,” she sighed. WITH AFP   The post Belarusian exiles lose hope appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 24th, 2023

China stops Philippines from sending supplies to illegally grounded warship

China said on Sunday that it, in accordance with the law, had stopped Philippine vessels attempting to illegally send construction materials to the military vessel illegally "grounded" at Ren'ai Jiao in the South China Sea. The actions were taken after several rounds of dissuasion and warnings fell on deaf ears, the China Coast Guard (CCG) said in a statement.   At 6:14 a.m., a Philippine boat delibe.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2023

Biden says Xi meeting in November ‘a possibility’

US President Joe Biden said Friday he may meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November as Washington and Beijing push to reset ties, but added that nothing is scheduled yet. The leaders of the rival powers have not met in person or spoken for nearly a year, and tensions have mounted as an increasingly assertive China and the United States vie for global influence. "There has been no such meeting set up, but it is a possibility," Biden told journalists after reports that they were set to meet during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. Biden is set to host leaders from across the region on November 16 and 17 in the California city, and speculation has mounted that it could be the venue for a rapprochement. The White House had begun making plans for a meeting on the sidelines of the summit in a bid to stabilize relations, The Washington Post reported, quoting one official as saying it "it's pretty firm." Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to visit Washington at some point ahead of the APEC summit. Beijing however has not confirmed whether Xi will attend the summit or meet with his US counterpart. The White House has also declined to elaborate on a potential meeting with Xi. 'Disappointed'  The last time Biden and Xi met was in November 2022 on the sidelines of a summit in Bali. Their talks were surprisingly cordial but relations then froze over again, and there has not even been a phone call since. Biden had said last month he was "disappointed" that Xi was not attending a G20 summit in New Delhi. He added that he was "going to get to see him," although he did not elaborate. Tensions between the United States and an increasingly assertive China have mounted as the world's two largest economies push for diplomatic, military and economic influence. Bilateral ties face a long list of problems, from trade disputes to Taiwan's future to the expansive Chinese presence in the South China Sea. But the United States has been working to restore a more effective working relationship, sending a series of senior officials to China in recent months despite continuing friction. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and China's Wang met in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta in mid-September in the latest attempt to reach out. The APEC forum will be a key test of whether their efforts are working, as the Asia-Pacific region is one of the main theaters where Beijing and Washington are going head-to-head. Biden has also been pushing to show that international groupings like the G20 and APEC can still deliver on problems including the economy and climate -- even when China is not involved. The post Biden says Xi meeting in November ‘a possibility’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 6th, 2023

DMW, DoJ get Alpha ‘scam’ probe going

The Department of Migrant Workers or DMW yesterday vowed to endorse to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution the complaints of about 400 Filipinos allegedly duped of about 3,000 euros each (roughly P181,000) by Italy-based “immigration consultancy” firm Alpha Assistenza SRL. Accompanied by DAILY TRIBUNE’s Usapang OFW, 18 of the complainants narrated to DMW for hours their and their sponsors’ harrowing experiences in losing their hard-earned money to Alpha Assistenza co-CEOs Krizelle Respicio and Frederick Dutaro. Usapang OFW broke the “massive scam” in an episode that aired on 21 September that was, thereafter, followed by a series of articles that exposed the alleged modus operandi of the owners of the firm who boasted of close ties with a Philippine official in Italy. The paper has reached out to the official and is awaiting his response to the complainants’ claim that his office has been sitting on the complaints filed by their sponsors in Italy. As this developed, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told DAILY TRIBUNE and Usapang OFW that he would personally look into the complaints upon receipt of the DMW’s endorsement to the DoJ. The DoJ oversees the National Bureau of Investigation, as well as the government’s prosecutorial service. At the DMW, Directors Geraldine Mendez and Eric Dorig Dollete of the agency’s Migrant Workers Protection Bureau said that, aside from endorsing the complaints to the DoJ-NBI, they would also organize a fact-finding mission to Italy. Mendez and Dollete added that they would mobilize DMW’s Migrant Workers Office and Assistance-to-Nationals unit in Italy even as they assured the complainants of legal assistance. Several senators have expressed dismay over what may turn out to be one of the biggest illegal recruitment cases in the country, with a couple of lawmakers planning to call an investigation into the matter. DivinaLaw had pledged to look into the complainants’ plight. With an average fee of 3,000 euros paid by each of the complainants to Alpha Assistenza, the total amount the 400 “victims” could recover may amount to 1,200,000 euro or P72,367,182.40 at the exchange rate prevailing as of 25 September. Lawyers interviewed by TRIBUNE said the complaints may amount to a syndicated crime, the exact nature of which, they said, would be borne by the facts that must be established by investigating agencies like the NBI. The complainants said they had brought to the attention of various government agencies as early as July the purported use by Alpha Assistenza of fake work permit documents that resulted in their visa applications being denied. They also noted “irregularities” in the handling of their visa applications by the Philippine Interactive Audiotext Services Inc., or PIASI, including at least one instance of fees being paid in a coffee shop on the ground floor of the building where the PIASI office is located. [caption id="attachment_188905" align="aligncenter" width="525"] Bogus, too? A purported letter from the Italian Embassy explains why the visa application was denied on account of fake supporting documents. The letter, however, looks dubious as the name of the applicant was handwritten and not typed.[/caption] PIASI is the third-party service provider accredited by the Italian Embassy in Manila. The complainants had told Daily Tribune that they were afraid for their relatives and  friends currently working in Italy who had sponsored them in good faith. The sponsors face the possibility of being thrown out of the country, they said, just because they (job seekers) were provided fake documents by Alpha Assistenza. Eight of the 18 complainants told DMW that their passports were still with an Alpha Assistenza agent despite their visas already having been denied. “(The agent) took our passports, telling us that she would be the one to represent us in the processing of our papers. We have been asking her to return our passports but it has been more than a month, and we still don’t have them,” one victim recounted. They also questioned the authenticity of the visa denial documents that they had received from PIASI as their names were merely handwritten in what appeared to be “fill-in-the-blanks” letters. Meanwhile, two OFWs in Italy interviewed by DAILY TRIBUNE said one of two Italian lawyers featured by Alpha Assistenza on its Facebook page as officials of the company is suing Respicio for making the false claim. They said that the Italian supplier of the video wall used during the Philippine Independence Day celebration in Italy had also complained of being paid only about half of the 26,000 euros owed him. The post DMW, DoJ get Alpha ‘scam’ probe going appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 25th, 2023

French Apple workers call strike on iPhone 15 debut

Workers at Apple stores in France are set to strike and disrupt the launch of the iPhone 15 in a battle over pay, trade unions told AFP on Wednesday. The unions called for two days of action on social media beginning on Friday, when the new handset is due to launch, saying Apple management had ignored their "perfectly legitimate" demands. Apple has faced a rough time in France lately, with the government blocking sales of the iPhone 12 last Tuesday after it returned illegally high readings for radiation emissions. The global launch of the iPhone 15 was also overshadowed by the firm's capitulation to European Union demands for smartphones to be kitted out with universal charging ports rather than Apple's proprietary "lightning" ports. Apple workers in France have been campaigning for a seven percent pay rise but management have offered 4.5 percent -- which the unions say is too low given vast increases in the cost of living. "The launch of a new iPhone would normally be a cause for celebration but this time we're not in the mood," Albin Voulfow, the CFDT union delegate for Apple Retail France, told AFP. Organizers said most of Apple's 20 stores across the country would be affected, with staff walkouts expected at some branches and demonstrations planned at others. "The aim is not to blockade the stores but to make management and the public aware of the problem," said Voulfow. The company has not yet responded to an AFP request for comment. The post French Apple workers call strike on iPhone 15 debut appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2023

World pledges help to quake-hit Morocco

Morocco said late Sunday it was accepting offers from just four countries: Britain, Spain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, after the earthquake that has killed more than 2,100 people. But countries around the world have lined up to offer to help Morocco. International aid agencies The International Federation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has released over $1 million from its emergency disaster fund to support the Moroccan Red Crescent's work on the ground. "The next 24 to 48 hours will be critical in terms of saving lives," the global humanitarian network warned on Saturday, adding that help could be needed for months or even years. Spain Spain on Sunday sent 86 military rescuers and eight search dogs to Morocco after receiving a formal request for help from Rabat. A first team, from the armed forces Emergencies Unit, took off in an A400 military plane bound for Marrakesh to "help in the search and rescue of survivors", the defense ministry said. Another military plane took off from a base in Torrejon de Ardoz near Madrid, an interior ministry spokesman said. Qatar  Qatar said it was also sending a rescue team. France A team of French volunteer firefighters has arrived in Morocco and President Emmanuel Macron said more, substantial assistance was available, should Morocco request it. "We have mobilized all technical and security teams to be able to intervene when the Moroccan authorities deem it useful." United States The United States has told Morocco it is "ready to provide significant assistance" including search and rescue teams. "We are also ready to release funds at the right time that can help the Moroccans recover and deal with this horrific tragedy," Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer said. "The United States will be with them at every step of the way when they are ready to avail themselves of what we have to offer," he added. Switzerland Switzerland has offered to provide temporary shelters, water treatment and distribution equipment, sanitation facilities, and hygiene kits. Belgium Belgium has offered help including medical teams and field hospitals. The Flanders region, home to a large Moroccan community, said it would provide 200,000 euros ($214,270) in emergency aid through the Red Cross, while the Wallonia region has pledged to provide 500,000 euros. Italy Italy has offered the help of its civil protection agency and fire service, while the Italian Catholic Church has sent 300,000 euros ($321,400) in aid through NGO Caritas Italy. Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Saturday stressed Italy's "willingness to contribute to the complex rescue work". Turkey Turkey has offered to send 265 rescue workers and 1,000 tents. Poland and Israel Poland and Israel said they were ready to provide assistance including search and rescue teams. Iraq and Jordan Iraq and Jordan have offered to provide all possible forms of assistance to Morocco. Organizations The heads of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Union, and the European Commission, together with the presidents of France and India, pledged in a joint statement to "mobilize our technical and financial tools and assistance" to help Morocco. Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca "pledged over $1 million to support immediate humanitarian relief efforts with leading global non-profit humanitarian partners and through matching of employee donations". The post World pledges help to quake-hit Morocco appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 10th, 2023

China can’t make arrests in disputed sea

China does not have the “authority or power” to conduct law enforcement operations on waters under the Philippine exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, an official of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said. National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya, insisted that only the Philippine government has the sovereign right to hold law enforcement operations in the WPS because it is within the country’s EEZ “The National Task Force-West Philippine Sea wishes to emphasize that China has no authority or power to conduct law enforcement operations in our exclusive economic zone,” he said in a media forum on Saturday. The Armed Forces of the Philippines reported that Chinese vessels made dangerous maneuvers and harassed two Philippine Navy boats and two Philippine Coast Guard escort ships while on a rotation and resupply mission en route to the BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned navy vessel grounded in the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Malaya rebuffed the claims of the Chinese Coast Guard that it was just conducting law enforcement operations against Philippine vessels “illegally entering” their territory.   Within Phl EEZ “Law enforcement operations in the exclusive economic zone are within the purview of elements of the Philippine government — and that is why the statement of the Chinese Coast Guard is wrong,” he said. Malaya slammed the dangerous maneuvers and aggressive conduct by vessels of the CCG and the Chinese maritime militia against the Filipino troops aboard the Philippine supply boats delivering fresh food and other replenishment supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre. “Again, we strongly deplore and condemn the continued illegal, aggressive, and destabilizing conduct of the CCG and CMM within the nation’s exclusive economic zone,” he said. China’s use of a water cannon to disperse Philippine vessels conducting a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre last month has gained the attention of many lawmakers, maritime experts, and international leaders. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. made clear during the 18th East Asia Summit in Indonesia “that the Philippines condemned the harassment in the South China Sea and stood firm in the government’s commitment to assert its sovereign rights over the Philippine waters.” The post China can’t make arrests in disputed sea appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 9th, 2023

Hackers attack London police, Poland train service

Hackers accessed the IT system of the London police’s ID supplier and attacked the communication system of Poland’s railway network partially disrupting train services in one city. London’s Metropolitan Police force said Sunday it was taking security measures as it determines if names, ranks, photos, vetting levels and pay numbers for officers and staff have been stolen from the firm which reportedly prints identity cards and staff passes for the Met, the United Kingdom’s biggest police force. The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said the breach would “cause colleagues incredible concern and anger.” “We share that sense of fury, this is a staggering security breach that should never have happened,” MPF vice chair Rick Prior said. In Poland, the hacking caused the issuance of several stop signals that delayed some 20 trains in the northwestern city of Szczecin overnight on Saturday, deputy coordinator of special services Stanislaw Zaryn told the PAP news agency. PKP said normal traffic resumed within hours and Zaryn said the attack “did not pose risks to passengers’ health or lives...and does not present a danger to rail traffic in Poland.” Authorities are investigating the involvement of Belarusian and Russian hackers. Media reports said the signals were interspersed with renditions of the Russian national anthem and a recording of a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We know that for some months there have been attempts to destabilize the Polish state. Such attempts have been undertaken by the Russian Federation in conjunction with Belarus,” Zaryn said. Poland is a close ally of Ukraine and is a key transit for Western arms destined to aid its neighbor, invaded by Russia in February last year. WITH AFP The post Hackers attack London police, Poland train service appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 27th, 2023

Greece forest fires death toll hits 20

Eighteen suspected migrants were found dead Tuesday in a Greece forest fire near the Turkish border as scores of firefighters battled to contain the second deadly wave of blazes to hit the country in a month. Fire department spokesman Yiannis Artopios said the victims were found north of the city of Alexandroupoli. As no local residents had been reported missing "the possibility that they are people who entered our country illegally is under investigation," Artopios said in a televised address. The area is a frequent entry point for irregular migrants. The latest deaths pushed the overall toll from this week's fires to 20, after another suspected migrant was found dead in the area Monday. An elderly shepherd had also been found dead north of Athens on Monday. Flames continued to spread unchecked in northeastern Greece as well as the islands of Evia and Kythnos and the region of Boeotia north of Athens, amid a dangerous mix of gale-force winds and temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius (106 Fahrenheit). "It's a similar situation to July," a fire department spokeswoman told AFP, referring to a wave in several parts of the country that left five people dead. Over 60 fires had erupted in the last 24 hours, and six countries were sending help via the European Union's civil protection mechanism, the fire department said. Some 120 firefighters from Cyprus, Romania, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, and Serbia will pitch in, fire department spokesman Vassilis Vathrakogiannis told state TV ERT. A new fire broke out Tuesday at a landfill in the industrial zone of Aspropyrgos near Athens, covering the area in a noxious black cloud. Officials shut down the nearest section of the Athens ring road and advised residents to stay indoors. Another fire broke out in the foothills of Mount Parnitha near the capitals, prompting evacuations. Late Monday, an evacuation was ordered at the hospital of Alexandroupolis, a northeastern Greek port city located in an area where fires were raging for a fourth day. The coastguard said it had moved 65 patients to a waiting ferry at the city harbor. On the island of Evia, near the capital, officials late Monday evacuated the industrial town of Nea Artaki, where the fire has damaged poultry and pork farms. The fire near Alexandroupolis is also threatening the national park of Dadia, one of the most important protected areas in Europe that is home to rare birds. The very hot and dry conditions which increase the fire risk will persist until Friday, according to meteorologists. Amid a heatwave, a fire that started on 18 July and was fanned by strong winds ravaged almost 17,770 hectares (more than 43,000 acres) in 10 days in the south of Rhodes, a popular tourist island in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Around 20,000 people, mostly tourists, had to be evacuated. The post Greece forest fires death toll hits 20 appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2023

China urges the Philippines to remove its illegally grounded vessel from Ren ai Jiao

China urges the Philippine side to honor its commitment and remove its illegally grounded vessel from Ren'ai Jiao, a spokesperson from China Coast Guard said on Monday. The Philippines persisted in sending two ships into the waters of Ren'ai Jiao without authorization last Saturday, despite China's repeated dissuasion and warnings. In accordance with the law, Chinese coast guard vessels took measures to avoid a.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsAug 9th, 2023

Cagayan province officials cited in contempt

Members of the House of Representatives public accounts and the suffrage and electoral reforms panel has cited in contempt five officials of the Cagayan province during the probe on the provincial government’s alleged illegal use of government funds during the 2022 election campaign period. This comes as provincial accountant Jeanna Garma, treasurer Mila Mallonga, budget officer Reynald Raul Ramirez, agriculturist Dr. Pearlita Mabasa and social welfare officer Helen Donato did not show up in the probe amid the subpoena issued to them during the 21 May hearing. On Monday’s joint hearing on House Resolutions 145 and 146, lawmakers blasted the officials not only on their non-appearance but also over their “flimsy excuses.” The resolutions, filed by Cagayan Representative Jojo Lara, seek to delve deeper into the alleged anomalies during the May 2022 polls in Cagayan, in which the provincial was accused of illegally spending its expenditures and distributing cash and other forms of assistance to registered voters and barangays. Public accounts chairperson Joseph Stephen Paduano, in his opening speech, revealed that a P320 million was distributed to voters of Cagayan in the guise of P1,000 Covid-19 assistance during the campaign period. During the hearing, public accounts chairperson Joseph Stephen Paduano told the panel that the provincial administrator sent a letter to the committee on 4 August requesting that the 17 officials from Cagayan, including Governor Manuel Mamba, and the five subpoenaed be excused citing the lack of funds for transportation as one of the reasons. According to the unnamed provincial administrator, the Cagayan province, which had been placed under a state of calamity due to the devastation of typhoon “Egay,” continues to operate under a “reenacted budget.” However, that did not sit well with several lawmakers, with Antipolo Representative Romeo Acop, who categorically thumbed down the claim of a limited fund that could not cover the travel expenses of the 17 officials who will spend at least four days in Metro Manila. “The first reason — which was the state of calamity — is correct. I don’t know if the second reason — the reenacted budget — is true. Only the vice governor can answer that. And for the third reason that their funds are said to be insufficient, I wouldn’t believe this, Mr. Chair. Because if they were able to disburse P320 million one week before the election, I do not see any reason why they cannot fund for this purpose, Mr. Chair,” Acop said. Cagayan Vice Governor Melvin Vargas, for his part, brushed off the notion that the reenacted budget was the reason from sending the officials. “It’s true. We are operating on a reenacted budget. But that doesn’t mean that it is stopped and we are limited. That’s why it’s called reenacted because the service is continuing. It’s not a reason to cite that we are limited to with travel because they have been doing that in a few years,” Vargas told the panel. Surigao del Norte Representative Ace Barbers, meanwhile, claimed that the officials of the provincial government were just making “flimsy excuses.” The post Cagayan province officials cited in contempt appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

US firms to dip fingers into MIF

An in-depth study by the Asian Central Journal or ACJ dated 20 July 2023 reveals that the Department of Finance forged a $1-million contract with a US PR firm, Weber Shandwick Philippines or WSP, that was signed in early January 2023, according to WSP sources. The ACJ study asks why the Maharlika Investment Fund or MIF bill was signed at the precise time Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri was in the US. “On 21 June, Senate President Zubiri reportedly signed an ‘enrolled’ copy of the MIF. Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to the US, was present for the signing. Ambassador Romualdez has long held the positions of chairman and CEO at WSP.” The ACJ study reports that, “The US was designated as the top campaign market in the PR strategy to draw US investment” and that “the MIF might be used by the US as a means of financial pressure on the (Philippines).” In other words, US funds for the MIF may be used as bait for the US to get major MIF projects in the future. The study says the WSP PR strategy aims (1) “to decrease misconceptions about the MIF, particularly those pertaining to abuse and corruption” (downplaying corruption helps fuel it); (2) “to raise awareness of it as an instrument for economic development” (sanctifying corruption as ‘economic development’); and (3) “MIF management and investment may be subject to US intervention. DBM Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman stated on 19 April that several US corporate organizations and investors are eager to assist us in structuring the MIF.” This dangerous move towards achieving US corporate funds for the MIF will easily increase corruption tenfold, with the participation of US corporations. This was the strategy of US oil firms in Nigeria in partnership with a corrupt government to siphon the oil for the West. The US corporations turned a blind eye to the corruption. The strategy triggered the growth of terrorists in the    Muslim-dominated deep north which did benefit from the “development” received by the Christian-dominated south. The ACJ report, citing the MIF, warns, “There looms a grave concern: the specter of corruption.” It cites two cases. “Norway’s sovereign wealth fund lost $174 billion (about P8.7 trillion) in the first half of 2022, while (the Singapore-based) Temasek Holdings, which is primarily regarded as a sovereign wealth fund, has seen a net loss of S$7.3 billion throughout the nearly 50 years since its founding.” If less corrupt-prone affluent nations like Norway and Singapore are unable to contain corruption in sovereign wealth funds, what more a Third World nation like the Philippines, which is noted for rampant unstoppable corruption? In its 2020-2022 survey, the Philippines ranked no. 116 out of 180 nations (the higher the ranking, the more corrupt) in the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International. Norway ranked No. 4 and Singapore No. 5 as least corrupt. (Source: Wikipedia). The MIF Act provides that a Maharlika Investment Corporation or MIC will be established to manage the MIF fund. The ACJ study is concerned that the MIC board of directors will consist of presidential appointees “based on favor rather than talent… in a nation where nepotism is rife.” (Ambassador Romualdez is the second cousin of Marcos Jr. It’s all in the family.) This will induce a “lack of transparency in regulation and a high risk of financial embezzlement.” The ACJ study argues that “the MIF could be a weapon for politicians to steal from the public coffers,” citing the case of Angola. In 2018, Jose Filomeno dos Santos,  ex-sovereign fund chairman and son of ex-President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was charged with the theft of $1.5 billion. In 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak transferred about $700 million from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund to his personal account. The ACJ study reports that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised $6.5 billion in five years. In an investigation after the 1MDB scandal broke out, Goldman Sachs admitted stealing $1 billion from 1MDB “to bribe officials in Malaysia and other nations, including (payments) for the extravagant lifestyles of Malaysian officials and purchasing luxury yachts and hotels for them.” Goldman Sachs pocketed $4.6 billion in bribes and kickbacks. Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the massive 1MDB heist. It will be easy for creative Filipino politicians to improve on this type of ‘Financial Terrorism’ with the help of equally corrupt Western corporations. They must be drooling in excitement. This evil partnership of government and multinationals is the biggest hindrance to the true development of Third World countries. Even as the MIF heist is yet to happen, the solons are cooking up a more sinister storm, the Overseas Filipino Workers Sovereign Wealth Fund, tapping the biggest dollar earner of the country. This is “stealing” the hard-earned money of our workers. The OFWs may rise in protest. *** The post US firms to dip fingers into MIF appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 4th, 2023

Kim oversees N. Korea military parade showcasing new drones, ICBMs

Flanked by visiting Russian and Chinese officials, Kim Jong Un oversaw a North Korean military parade featuring new drones and Pyongyang's nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, state media reported Friday. At least four new North Korean military drones were towed on trailers through Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung square at the parade late Thursday, state media images showed, while another drone appeared to conduct a flyover overhead. Standing between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chinese politburo member Li Hongzhong in the VIP viewing stands, Kim smiled and saluted as thousands of soldiers marched past, trailed by the country's most powerful ICBMs, which are banned under UN sanctions. The event, featuring Kim's first-known foreign guests since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, was to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, which ended open hostilities and is celebrated as Victory Day. Kim "extended warm militant greetings" to the parade, the official Korean Central News Agency said, and North Korea's defense minister Kang Sun Nam made a speech. The United States has no chance "of survival in case they use nuclear weapons against the DPRK", Kang said, referring to the North by its official name. He warned that any attempts by the United States to use armed force against the North would cause an "unimaginable and unforeseen crisis". The parade featured an array of new weaponry, including some first unveiled at a defense expo on Wednesday in Pyongyang, visited by Kim and Shoigu. North Korea's new underwater nuclear attack drone, called the "Haeil", appeared at the parade for the first time, Seoul-based specialist site NK News reported. "The strategic reconnaissance drone and the multi-purpose attack drone which was newly developed and produced... made circular flights in the sky above the (Kim Il Sung square," KCNA said. The "excitement and great joy of the spectators reached its height" when the nuclear-armed country's newest ICBM -- the solid-fuel Hwasong-18, tested in April and July this year -- was paraded through the square, KCNA said. The tests were roundly condemned by Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, and violate UN sanctions banning the North from any tests using ballistic missile technology. 'Send the US a signal' The parade is a key part of "promoting Kim Jong Un's ruling legitimacy and internal unity in this economically challenging time", Yangmo Ku, a political science professor at Norwich University, told AFP. But this year, with the inclusion of high-level guests from Moscow and Beijing, Pyongyang is also sending America "a signal that under strengthened ties with Russia and China, North Korea is militarily ready to cope with strategic threats from its enemies", he said. "All these acts mean the emergence of the new Cold War surrounding the Korean Peninsula," Ku added. Beijing is North Korea's most important ally and economic benefactor, their relationship forged in the bloodshed of the Korean War in the 1950s. "China's representation at North Korea's parading of nuclear-capable missiles raises serious questions about Beijing enabling Pyongyang's threats to global security," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. Russia, another historic ally, is one of a handful of nations with which Pyongyang maintains friendly relations, and experts said it was noteworthy that Moscow had sent Shoigu to the anniversary celebrations -- a rare visit by a Russian defense chief in the post-Soviet era. Kim has been steadfast in his support for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, including, Washington says, supplying rockets and missiles -- a charge Pyongyang has denied. Russia's President Vladimir Putin sent a speech, read out by Shoigu at an anniversary event, according to KCNA, in which Moscow's leader hailed North Korea for its "firm support for special military operations against Ukraine". Easley said that "given Russia's need for ammunition for its illegal war in Ukraine and (Kim's) willingness to personally give the Russian defense minister a tour of North Korea's arms exhibition, UN member states should increase vigilance for observing and penalizing sanctions violations". The inclusion of foreign guests at this year's celebrations is a post-pandemic first, and hints at new flexibility toward enforcing border controls. North Korea has imposed a rigid Covid-19 blockade since early 2020, preventing even its own nationals from entering the country. It only resumed some trade with China last year and allowed new Beijing envoy Wang Yajun to take up his position this year. He is the first known senior diplomat to cross into North Korea since the border closure in January 2020. The post Kim oversees N. Korea military parade showcasing new drones, ICBMs appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 28th, 2023

In my dreams

Couple Benedict and Marjorie have been living in the vicinity of Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate for 13 years now. With their four young children, the entire park is their living room, dining area and playground. An old pedicab covered with a hand-me-down tarpaulin serves as their bedroom cum storage area. At night, they all retire to their “bed,” a collapsed carton box in a tiny space inside the pedicab — like sardines in a can. Rain or shine, their precious pedicab is their security blanket against the external elements. For more than a decade, Benedict and Marjorie have been making ends meet with their measly earnings as a parking striker and attendant, respectively. Their combined daily minimum income of less than P400 is not enough to feed six and sustain the needs of two children who are already in kindergarten and two toddlers. Undaunted, the couple still looks forward to receiving government assistance despite having been denied Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps membership four times. In the thick of their hopes came the recent pronouncement by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. that the 4Ps — a poverty alleviation initiative that provides cash assistance for the immediate needs of the poor — may be terminated if there is no need for it. Imagine how broken-hearted the 4.3-million households who were helped in 2022 by the 4Ps must be. It could be even more depressing for Benedict and Marjorie who continue to hold on to their hope of having their own house and small business so their children will not have to grow up in the streets, and ultimately may be snatched away from poverty. Launched in 2008, 4Ps provides conditional cash transfers  designed to meet the health, nutrition, and educational needs of vulnerable families. On 17 April 2019, 4Ps was institutionalized under Republic Act 11310. Patterned after the conditional cash transfer schemes implemented in other developing countries, 4Ps provides cash grants to low-income households on the condition that they meet certain requirements, such as sending their children to school and going for healthcare check-ups. Among the countries that have implemented successful conditional cash transfer programs as part of their poverty reduction strategies are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Indonesia. Undeniably, CCTs have shown promising results in reducing poverty and improving living conditions for the target population. By providing cash transfers, households have increased their income to meet basic needs, such as food, education and healthcare. I know many whose children are now college graduates and evidently broke the intergenerational cycle of poverty and improved the long-term prospects for individuals and communities. Innumerable women and children were provided financial resources and opportunities for empowerment. The program, however, did not target all the poorest of the poor. It is a known fact that cash transfers reached those that did not need them the most — like families of OFWs. Relatives, friends, neighbors and allies of local officials have been surprisingly part of the 4.2 million beneficiary list. Here lie the challenges, however. One, implementing and managing conditional cash transfer programs can be complex and resource-intensive to accurately identify eligible beneficiaries, track compliance with conditions, and distribute payments promptly. Two, imposing conditions on beneficiaries may not always be feasible or effective. Like Benedict and Marjorie, who were denied a 4th time because they have no marriage certificate to show. Another one this writer knows is someone with a disability who faced difficulties in complying with the requirements, thus missing out on the benefits. Three, sustaining these programs in the long term can be challenging, especially if funding sources are uncertain or subject to political changes. It’s important to note that the effectiveness of conditional cash transfers can vary depending on the specific design, implementation, and local context. Evaluating the impact and monitoring the outcomes of 4Ps is crucial to ensuring its success, before finally calling it off. There will never be a time to say that we no longer need it. Not until there is a slim divide between the rich and the poor. In my dreams. The post In my dreams appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 21st, 2023