News Briefs: March 16, 2019

Credit to Author: clopez| Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2019 21:00:53 +0000

Another Maute member jailed for rebellion, rape

A Taguig regional trial court (RTC) on Friday sentenced another member of the terrorist group Maute to up to 40 years in prison for rebellion and rape of a 16-year-old minor during the siege of Marawi City. Junaid Macauyag Awal, who was charged with rebellion and violation of the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, was the first conviction under the international statute as well as the second in relation to the yearlong siege.  The charges were hinged on the testimonies of a mother and daughter whom Awal supposedly held hostage at the height of the siege. The  16-year-old daughter testified that Awal raped her more than 17 times during their five-month captivity.  Awal was sentenced to reclusion perpetua and ordered to pay P500,000 in fines. For rebellion, he was sentenced to an additional eight to 14 years, eight months and one day in jail.  —KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING

Philcomsat franchise extended by 25 years

President Duterte has signed a law extending the franchise of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. (Philcomsat) for another 25 years. The President signed Republic Act No. 11226 on Feb. 22, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Friday. The franchise will allow Philcomsat to operate “telecommunications satellite systems, satellite terminal stations, lines, cables or systems, and associated equipment and facilities for international and domestic communications.” Philcomsat is presently owned by the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp. Duterte on March 13 signed RA No. 11238, which extends the franchise of the University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network (UMBN) for another 25 years. The UMBN was founded in 1949 and runs AM and FM stations in Mindanao. Its affiliate, Ditan Communications, operates FM stations in the Visayas. —JULIE M. AURELIO


PH, Vietnam defense chiefs tackle WPS in meet

The West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute was on the agenda during an official visit by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to his counterpart in Vietnam the past week. Lorenzana confirmed that he and Vietnam Minister of National Defense General Ngo Xuan Lich briefly discussed in a talk on March 11 the disputes over the sea which both countries lay claim to. In particular, the discussion tackled “how to navigate the issue in the face of Chinese increased activity” in the disputed sea. “We both agreed that the Code of Conduct should be pursued and concluded in the fastest time possible,” Lorenzana said. In a press statement, Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense said both parties agreed to “further promote bilateral defense ties,” following an agreement signed in 2010 and the elevation of the ties “to the level of strategic partnership” in 2015. —JAYMEE T. GAMIL

Duterte vetoes bill expanding powers of OSG

President Duterte has vetoed a bill expanding the powers and capabilities of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), since granting more benefits may be “too onerous” for the government. The President said he was rejecting the enrolled bill on strengthening the OSG by increasing its powers and functions, and augmenting its employee benefits. “I am apprehensive that the provisions thereof granting benefits beyond the current compensation framework for other government offices may prove to be too onerous to the government,” Duterte said. He pointed out that the new benefits granted on top of the benefits enjoyed by other government offices would “erode the national government’s thrust to standardize and rational the current compensation framework in the bureaucracy.” —JULIE M. AURELIO

JV lauds child safety in vehicles law

Sen. JV Ejercito on Friday lauded President Duterte’s signing of a new law requiring car owners to have car child seats for passengers under 12 years old to protect them during vehicular accidents. In a statement, Ejercito said the passage of Republic Act No. 11229, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, which he principally sponsored in the Senate, would help prevent the likelihood of fatality among infants in road crashes. “This is good news … I pushed for this measure having in mind the safety of my children and the children of all parents,” the reelectionist senator said. He said the law mandated drivers of vehicles to “properly secure at all times a child in a child restraint system while the engine is running” or while the vehicle is in transit. —MARLON RAMOS