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News Briefs: Feb. 3, 2019

/ 05:00 AM February 03, 2019

Group says 2 slain men tagged rebels were farmers

A Mindanao-based rights group on Thursday denounced the killing of two farmers tagged as communist rebels in San Agustin town, Surigao del Sur province, last week.

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Ryan Amper, spokesperson of Barug Katungod Mindanao, slammed the Philippine Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion for the killing of civilians Emel Tejero and Randell Gallego.

Amper, in a statement, said the two men were with four other farmers hauling abaca hemp in San Agustin when they were shot allegedly by soldiers “without any provocation.”

But Maj. Rodolfo Cordero Jr., civil military officer of the 401st Infantry Brigade, said Tejero and Gallego were killed in a brief clash between soldiers and 10 New People’s Army guerrillas.

Soldiers recovered an M-14 rifle, bombs and bullets after the clash, Cordero said. —Frinston Lim

Cutting of pine trees divides Pampanga townsfolk

At least 49 pine trees were felled last month at a public park in Magalang town, Pampanga province, prompting residents to take to social media to vent their anger or support the clearing.

On Facebook, Ma Ed “condoled with nature and with all the innocent trees.” Lyka Camille Lising Mendiola, a resident, said she grew up with the trees and wondered what happened.

But Rosario Pangilinan Castro, another resident, supported the cutting, saying this “eliminated the risk or danger that may be caused by uprooted trees or broken branches during unfavorable weather conditions.”

Mayor Ma. Lourdes Lacson confirmed she applied for a tree-cutting permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources after the town council approved the rehabilitation of the plaza as a tourism project. —Tonette Orejas

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JBC releases list of 20 candidates for SC seat

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has finalized the list of 20 candidates, mostly appeals justices, for one of two vacancies in the Supreme Court.

In an announcement released on Friday, Supreme Court clerk of court and JBC secretary Edgar Aricheta said the council scheduled the public interview of the candidates on Feb. 13.

The seat was the one vacated by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin when he was appointed chief justice in November last year.

Only four of the candidates will be interviewed on Feb. 13 as the others have already been interviewed for the other vacancy in the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Noel Tijam on Jan. 5.

Out of 20 candidates, a list of three nominees for the seat vacated by Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin would be submitted to the President by the JBC. —Jerome Aning

Ex-Palawan vice governor seeks reversal of conviction

Former Palawan Vice Gov. David Ponce de Leon sought a reversal of his conviction of estafa through falsification of public documents, saying he signed the documents “in good faith.”

Ponce de Leon filed a motion for reconsideration last Jan. 31. —Patricia Denies M. Chiu

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