News Briefs: Jan. 23, 2019 | Inquirer News
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News Briefs: Jan. 23, 2019

04:38 AM January 23, 2019

Duque: Social media reports about flu outbreak false

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III appealed to the public to be cautious about information they share on social media as he belied on Tuesday that there was a growing number of influenza cases in the country.

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Duque told reporters he had not received any report from the Department of Health’s (DOH) epidemiology bureau confirming an unusual spike in the number of influenza A or B cases.

Duque said that what the department had seen was instead a 17-percent drop in the number of influenza cases in 2018 — 127,000 compared to 153,000 in 2017.

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In the past few days, social media posts claimed that some hospitals are now in full capacity with patients down with the flu. —Jovic Yee

Bishops to discuss plan to invite Pope Francis again

Filipino bishops would discuss suggestions to invite Pope Francis to the Philippines again in time for the 500th anniversary in 2021 of the introduction of Christianity to the country.

Fr. Marvin Mejia, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) secretary general, said the matter would be taken up at the plenary assembly of CBCP this weekend.

But Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes expressed doubt the Pope would accept the invitation because of two things — President Rodrigo  Duterte’s attacks on the Church and Francis had been in the Philippines already. —Tina G. Santos

Chinese, Colombian detained by BI

Two foreigners — a Chinese and a Colombian — were detained by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for attempting to leave the country with fraudulent passports at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 last week.

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Chinese national Han Yujia, 36, was caught with a counterfeit Guatemalan passport while about to leave via an Air Asia flight to Bangkok, according to BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina.

Colombian national Juan Arturo Carbajo, 48, was apprehended for presenting a fake Argentinean passport before he could board a Cebu Pacific flight to Macau, Medina said. —Tina G. Santos

Eastmincom welcomes new commander

The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) welcomed Maj. Gen. Filemon Santos Jr. as its new commander, the post left vacant by the appointment of Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines last Dec. 8.

Santos took over as Eastmincom commander at change of command ceremonies on Tuesday.

Santos, former chief of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, is the 11th commander of the Eastmincom.

Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom spokesperson, said Santos, a 1986 graduate of Philippine Military Academy, had extensive background in intelligence and was expected to boost the counterinsurgency campaign of Eastmincom. —Mart Sambalud

Cops to probe reports of ecstasy death

The Central Visayas police is looking into social media reports about a 19-year-old woman who died during a pre-Sinulog party on Saturday in Cebu City.

Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, Central Visayas police director, said investigators would check reports the woman, a first year college student, died because of ecstasy overdose.

The woman’s parents agreed to cooperate in the investigation, Sinas said. Sinas admitted, though, that a report could not be submitted until a formal complaint has been filed.

The woman’s death has not been reported to police which learned about it only through social media. —Nestle Semilla

Gov’t troops find guns, bombs after clash with NPA

Government soldiers found guns and bombs after a dawn clash with communist rebels in the town of Cateel, Davao Oriental province on Sunday, according to the military on Monday.

Soldiers from the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion were on patrol when they encountered at least 20 guerrillas in the village of Aliwagwag.

This led to a 40-minute gunfight that forced the guerrillas to flee, according to 1st Lt. Je-Em Tagufa, 67th Infantry Battalion spokesperson.

After the clash, soldiers found three AK-47s, two M-16s, two land mines, two mobile phones, medical kits and backpacks with rebel documents. —Frinston Lim

New law allows home economics graduates to teach

Home economics graduates may now teach home economics technical-vocational subjects full-time in public and private elementary and secondary schools.

But they should take the licensure examination for teachers within five years of their hiring by a school, according to Republic Act No. 11168, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last Jan. 3. —Julie M. Aurelio

Sombero asks SC to stop his plunder trial

Former police official Wenceslao Sombero Jr. has pressed the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with his plunder trial in connection with the Bureau of Immigration’s P50-million extortion scandal in 2016.

In a motion dated Jan. 7 and made public on Tuesday, Sombero said the Supreme Court should suspend the Sandiganbayan’s proceedings “until his petition for certiorari is resolved with finality.” —Vince F. Nonato

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