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News Briefs: April 12, 2019

05:00 AM April 12, 2019

US warns its citizens of kidnap risks in PH

The United States has included the Philippines among 35 countries where US citizens are considered at high risk of being kidnapped. The US Department of State updated its global travel advisory system on April 9 to include the risk of kidnapping and hostage-taking by criminal and terrorist groups as a new threat indicator. It also added a “K” label to its travel advisory for the Philippines to warn its citizens about the risk of being kidnapped in three provinces in central Mindanao, Sulu province and Marawi City. Under its four-tiered advisory, the state department placed the Philippines on Level 2 and urged its citizens to “exercise increased caution due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak and kidnapping.” But presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday said the government was always on alert against security threats and “isolated cases” of kidnapping. —REPORTS FROM DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN AND JULIE M. AURELIO

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Palace backs PSA poverty threshold estimate

Is it enough for a family of five to live on P349 a day? For Malacañang, it depends on the family’s lifestyle. The Palace supported the estimate of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that a family could survive on a monthly budget of P10,481. “I’m sure [the PSA] studied that. I’m sure they asked the respondents in the survey, then they arrived at that average,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing. Asked if the P10,481 was a realistic figure for a family to survive, Panelo said: “I will leave it to [the PSA]. They are the ones who conducted the survey and studied it … It might depend on the lifestyle of the family.” For 2018, the PSA pegged the poverty threshold for a family of five at P10,481, with P7,337 going to food expenses. —JULIE M. AURELIO

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Bam to Polong: Show your tattoo to public

LEGAZPI CITY—Reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino said that if he were the President’s son Paulo “Polong” Duterte, he would bare his back to the public to dispute allegations he had a dragon tattoo supposedly showing a code name that marked him as a member of a drug syndicate. “Show it to end the issue once and for all,” Aquino said during a campaign rally here on Wednesday. In a video, “The Real Narcolist (Ang Totoong Narcolist),” which has been making the rounds on social media since last week, the narrator claimed that the dragon tattoo on Polong’s back included his code name in the syndicate. Paolo has vehemently denied involvement in illegal drugs. Malacañang has dismissed the video as “black propaganda.”—MAR S. ARGUELLES

Guevarra orders dismissal of 8 BI contractuals in extort try

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to dismiss eight contractual agents who allegedly took part in extorting P9.2 million from a group of South Koreans in Angeles City, Pampanga, last month. Guevarra  “found that factual and legal bases exist for the immediate termination of their contracts,” Undersecretary Markk Perete said on Wednesday. The 10 immigration employees who were implicated in the alleged extortion have been placed on preventive suspension for 90 days, Perete said. The 15 Koreans had complained that immigration agents apprehended them at Korean Town in Angeles City on March 6 and forced them to pay P9.2 million to avoid detention despite having valid immigration papers. —DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN

Tolentino told: No proof of cheating in 2016 polls

The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) has allowed former presidential adviser Francis Tolentino to withdraw his protest against Sen. Leila de Lima, but said it had found no proof to support his allegations of cheating in the 2016 polls. Tolentino had sought to withdraw his protest to prepare for his candidacy in May’s midterm elections under the administration party. In its ruling released on April 4, the SET said it decided to make public some of its findings in its review of the balloting in the pilot precincts mentioned in Tolentino’s protest. The review covered 319,228 ballots in 654 precincts.  —LEILA B. SALAVERRIA

Sandigan denies Purisima bid to have perjury case junked

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The Sandiganbayan’s Second Division has denied the plea of former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima to have his perjury case dismissed. The court rejected Purisima’s motion for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence, indicating that there was enough basis to proceed with the trial. Purisima faces eight counts of perjury over his alleged omission of properties in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth from 2006 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2014. A demurrer to evidence is an act contesting the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence. A granted demurrer is tantamount to dismissal of the case. —PATRICIA DENISE M. CHIU

American wanted for 2001 Alaska rape case arrested

The Bureau of Immigration will soon deport an American wanted by authorities in Alaska for a rape case that happened almost two decades ago. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said 57-year-old Carmen Daniel Perzechino Jr. was arrested last week by members of the Fugitive Search Unit in Angeles City, Pampanga. Perzechino is detained at the immigration cell at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, pending the issuance of his deportation order. The US Superior Court in Kenai, Alaska, ordered Perzechino’s arrest after he was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of kidnapping-injury in 2001. —TINA G. SANTOS

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