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Venezuelan Congress declares that Maduro has staged a coup

Venezuela’s Congress on Sunday, October 23 (Monday, Philippine time) declared that the government had staged a coup by blocking a drive to recall President Nicolas Maduro in a raucous legislative session that was interrupted when his supporters stormed the chamber. Opposition lawmakers vowed to put Maduro on trial after a court friendly to his socialist administration on Thursday suspended their campaign to collect signatures to hold a referendum on removing the deeply-unpopular president. Lawmaker Julio Borges said the opposition-led congress is now in open rebellion after a majority of its members voted that the decision constituted a coup with government participation. “We will bring a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro to get to the bottom of his role in the break with democracy and human rights here,” Borges said. A day of fiery …

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DSWD to launch internal probe on Yolanda aid irregularities

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will look into alleged irregularities on the disbursement of funds for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, in a press briefing at Malacañang Monday, October 24, said they found that there are around 200,000 claimants of post-Yolanda emergency shelter assistance, including farmers and fisherfolk, who did not receive any financial assistance. She said the aid should have been urgently released and “not two years or three years after.” Taguiwalo said the department will have an internal assessment of Yolanda donations given to DSWD, adding that they will make a report on or around November 8. The DSWD head said the findings would provide an idea of regulations within the department in past administrations. She stressed the need to deliver aid to those …

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Daniel Russel: U.S. ‘welcomes easing PH–China ties’

The United States welcomes the relaxation of the relations between Philippines and China, visting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel told the media Monday, October 24. Russel said the U.S. wants countries to have their own choices, adding that it is ready to honor its commitments. The U.S. official also expressed support for the government’s crackdown against illegal drugs but reiterated the importance of due process. Russel, who arrived Sunday, met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. in a closed-door meeting, apparently to discuss the state of the US–Philippine relations and seek explanation for President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of the Philippines’ “separation” from America. With reports from Roy Mabasa

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‘Bato’ inspects busted shabu lab in Isabela

CAUAYAN, Isabela -- Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and Cagayan Valley regional director Chief Supt Gilbert Sosa are now conducting an ocular inspection on suspected shabu laboratory located at Maharlika Hi-way, District I, Cauayan City, Isabela . The reported shabu lad was raided Sunday afternoon. Supt.Chevalier Iringan, Police Regional Office II spokesperson said PNP chief and the regional director were now in the area for the ocular inspection following discovery of shabu laboratory being operated by foreign national. Initial information showed operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Region II , Cauayan City Police, Isabela Provincial Police office, and other law enforcement units served a search warrant at 3:30 PM of October 23, 2016 at # 101, Prenza, Maharlika Hi-way, District I, Cauayan City, Isabela. The raid resulted in …

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Duterte: PH fisherfolk may soon return to Scarborough Shoal

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared that Filipino fisherfolk may soon return to the contested Scarborough Shoal. “Baka makabalik na tayo sa Scarborough Shoal, ang mangingisda nating kababayan,” the president said before residents in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, where he handed out aid after the province was battered by Super Typhoon Lawin amid his four-day state visit to China last week. Duterte said it was among his points of discussion with the Chinese side during his state visit but he did not elaborate further. Filipino fishermen have been largely off-limits to the shoal, locally known as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, after Chinese vessels began occupying it as part of China’s nine-dash line. An international arbitral tribunal, where the Philippines lodged a complaint, invalidated China’s claims over the South China Sea territories, a ruling that China refused …

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Filipinos among 26 hostages freed by Somali pirates after nearly five years

Somali pirates have freed 26 Asian hostages held for nearly five years after the hijacking of their fishing vessel, the last commercial ship seized at the height of the country’s piracy scourge, negotiators said Saturday. The crew of the Naham 3, the second longest held hostage by Somali pirates, were taken captive when their Omani-flagged vessel was seized in March 2012 south of the Seychelles. “We are very pleased to announce the release of the Naham 3 crew early this morning,” said John Steed, coordinator of the Hostage Support Partners (HSP) who helped negotiate their release. Steed, a retired British army colonel who has made it his mission to save “forgotten hostages” told AFP the mission to return the crew to their families still held one obstacle: extracting them from the city of …

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign HQ evacuated over white substance

The campaign headquarters for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was evacuated on Friday night after a white substance was discovered in an envelope, police said. The substance was first discovered by two interns at a campaign office in Manhattan and was taken to Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, triggering the evacuation of the 11th floor, a New York Police Department spokesman said. A total of four people were exposed to the substance, police said, though there have been no injuries or reported illnesses. Police are testing the substance and investigating the case. Further details were not immediately available.

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Bodies of Cessna plane crash victims retrieved

By Mar Supnad and Freddie Lazaro The two passengers of the Cessna trainer plane that crashed into the sea near the coast of Santiago, Ilocos Sur on Friday have been retrieved Saturday morning, October 22. Philippine Coast Guard personnel and local fishermen retrieved the bodies of John Kaizan Estabillo, 21, of Parañaque and Paula Bianca Robles, 25, of Quezon City, at the cove in Barangay Sabangan at 7:00 a.m. Mike Chan, the provincial disaster risk reduction management officer of Ilocos Sur, said the cadavers were positively identified by their relatives, who proceeded to the area upon learning the incident. The Cessna plane is yet to be salvaged. Mayor Josefino Miranda said the search operation was called off Friday night, October 21 due to zero visibility in the area. The Cessna C172 training plane, with tail number RP-C7838, is owned …

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Private plane crashes into Ilocos sea

A small private plane crashed Friday afternoon, October 21 into the cove in Barangay Sabangan in Santiago, Ilocos Sur. Mayor Josefino Miranda, who led the rescuing team of local fishermen in the area, feared all passengers found inside the plane were already lifeless as rescuers failed to retrieve the plane and the victims due to zero visibility. “The plane went down at 3:36 p.m. and the victims have been inside it for almost two hours, so it is impossible that there are survivors,” said Mayor Miranda. The plane was flying so low and it appeared that the occupants are taking videos of first-class hotels and resorts in the area when it hit the cable of a zip line, Miranda said.

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Friday markets: Peso-dollar rate at P48.33; stocks in the red

The peso and stock market capped the trading week in the red Friday, October 21. The Philippine peso–US dollar exchange rate at the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corporation (PDEX) closed at P48.33, weaker than Thursday’s (October 20) rate at P48.10. At the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reference exchange rate bulletin, the exchange rate was pegged at P48.04 to the greenback. Meanwhile, the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) shed 63.10 points (0.82%) to close at 7,650.22. The all-shares index also slid by 18.79 points (0.41%) at 4,518.11.

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