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News Briefs: September 21, 2018

/ 05:32 AM September 21, 2018

Police file charges vs 13 suspects in 2nd Sultan Kudarat blast

KORONADAL CITY—Police have filed criminal charges against 13 suspects and several “John Does” in connection with the Sept. 2 blast in an internet café in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, that left two persons dead and 14 others wounded. Chief Supt. Eliseo Tam Rasco, police regional director for South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos, said Senior Supt. Oliver Enmodias, head of the investigation team, filed the case on Tuesday before the Sultan Kudarat provincial prosecutor’s office. Charges of double murder and multiple frustrated murder were filed against the suspects who all belonged to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Rasco said. “[A]ll the suspects remained at large,” said police spokesperson Supt. Aldrin Gonzales. The explosion came five days after a bomb attack in Barangay Kalawag 3 that left three persons dead and 36 others wounded. —EDWIN FERNANDEZ

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Palace mum on US Embassy official’s meeting with Trillanes

Malacañang is keeping mum on the reported meeting between a US Embassy official and opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, just as President Duterte did after he met with US Ambassador Sung Kim last week. Josh Morris, chief of the US Embassy’s international political unit, went to the Senate on Wednesday to see Senate President Vicente Sotto III and reportedly also saw Trillanes, who had been staying in the chamber for two weeks now after Mr. Duterte revoked the former mutineer’s 2010 amnesty and ordered his arrest. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged off Morris’ meeting with Trillanes, explaining that Mr. Duterte had also refused to disclose details of his meeting with Kim. “[S]ince we were not in the meeting of this political counselor … we were not involved or we do not know about this meeting,” he said. —CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO

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16 mayors under probe for ill-timed Palace tour

Sixteen mayors, not 10, in northern Luzon are being investigated for their absence from their towns when Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut) tore through their provinces last week, Interior Undersecretary for Peace and Order Bernardo Florece said in a television interview on Thursday. Florece did not disclose the names of the mayors from the Cordillera Administrative Region and Cagayan Valley, but said he had given them five days to explain their absence to determine whether complaints could be filed against them in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or the Office of the Ombudsman. Sanctions against the local executives range from suspension to removal from office. The mayors were among a group of officials, led by former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, that went on a tour of Malacañang last Friday, just as Ompong, slammed northern Luzon.  —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE

P230M lost to fees over project delays in 2017—COA

About P230.17 million in taxpayers’ money were paid as fees to foreign lenders in 2017 after the Duterte administration failed to ensure the implementation of 17 projects on time, according to the Commission on Audit (COA). In its 2017 Consolidated Audit Report on Official Development Assistance Programs (ODA) and Projects, state auditors also said the government only availed itself of P299.75 million of the P74.85-billion net commitments it contracted in 2017 under 10 ODA loans. Seven of the delayed projects were those of the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Goddess Libiran, DOTr communications director, dismissed the COA report, which cited the agency as having the most number of delayed projects that incurred commitment fees. She said six of the ODA projects were either already inaugurated or slated for completion within the next four years. —VINCE F. NONATO AND KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING

Tagle heads PH delegation to Synod of Bishops on youth

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead an eight-member Philippine delegation to the Synod of Bishops on youth in October, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has reported. Aside from Tagle, Pope Francis also picked Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued, chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth; Bishop Patricio Buzon of Bacolod, vice chair; Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, Fr. Renato de Guzman of the Don Bosco Educational Center, Fr. Emmanuel Enrico Ayo of the Diocese of Parañaque and Nicole Anne Perez, a catechist from the Manila archdiocese. Another Filipino, Bishop Pedro Baquero of Kerema diocese, was chosen as official delegate for Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The group will join the synod at the Vatican from Oct. 3 to 28. —TINA G. SANTOS

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TAGS: Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Philippine news updates, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Sultan Kudarat blast, US Embassy
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