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A two-hour fire razed more than 100 houses in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay last Saturday night.

The combined firefighters from the Ipil Fire Station and from nearby municipalities such as Ipil, Titay, RT Lim, Tungawan, Naga, Kabasalan, Siay, and Imelda responded and helped put out the fire.

Police and fire officers said that fire victims were temporarily evacuated to a center designated by the local government while others stayed with their respective families.

This kind of a situation calls again for the entry of good Samaritans from the private sector to help augment government provisions for the evacuees.

The different Zamboanga City Eagles club chapters, will for sure move again to pour in whatever help - big or small - they may amass. Target date for delivery/distribution is Saturday, the 12th, where all other chapters in the area of the Eagles Western Mindanao 3 Region are set to gather with their respective contributions.

It will be recalled, one the local eagle chapters - The ZC Western Eagles Club under the tutelage of this corner - also helped in donating boxes upon boxes of goodies, first to the Marawi victim families and then to the Malamawi fire victims.

We are in the process now to gather whatever help we may bring over to Ipil.

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The Regional Fire Marshal’s Office-9 is now preparing to bid out the construction of its new jail facility in Patalon, this city amounting to P194-million in Patalon,. This comes after a long period of indecision in accepting the city’s gracious offer of a site.

J/Sr Insp Zacarias Dagupan said that its construction is expected to start before the year ends. The new facility, projected to accommodate 10,000 detainees, is aimed towards solving congestion at the present Zamboanga City Reformatory Center.

The existing facility is said to house a total of 2,597 prisoners nearly 2,000 more than its estimated capacity of 800. With this kind of a situation, jail authorities should not have hesitated accepting the offered site. They should have readily did so. Read on.

Dagupan said that inmates have spilled out from the cells and are now sleeping along the detention center’s corridors.

Around 15 detainees are reportedly coming in and being committed on a daily basis.

Aside from its congested status, the ZCRC has been facing security threats due to the presence of more than 100 high risk detainees.

And the ZCRC managed to foil a rescue attempt of Abu Sayyaf inmates in January 2015.

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Si quiere, ta puede man gale (If so desired, it is possible.) That is what Pres. Duterte, having been observed to be sporadically undiplomatic, manifested as he reaffirmed the Philippines’s allegiance with the United States when he told visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that he was his “humble friend” in Malacañang on Monday afternoon.

Whew! How ambassadorial that was!

According to Duterte, he is happy to meet Tillerson especially now with issues concerning the two allied countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“I am happy to see you again and you have come at a time when the world is not so good, especially in the Korean Peninsula, and of course, the ever nagging problem of the South China Sea,” Duterte told Tillerson.

Duterte assured Tillerson that the Philippines remains a good friend of the US and thanked the US top diplomat for coming to Manila even if the US is having problems of its own.

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Even if perceived to be at this late a time when massive destruction to lives and properties have already occurred, this is a much welcome move. The Ulama Council in Marawi will declare “fatwa” condemning the barbaric actions of the Maute group that occupied Marawi City. It also urged Pres. Duterte to convene a National Ulama Council Convention at the soonest possible time for this purpose.

The Ulamas said they need to express their disagreement and condemnation of the terrorists who are attacking and destroying their city.

In a two-hour dialogue with traditional leaders, local government officials led by Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong and Assemblyman Zia AlontoAdiong, and military officials here led by Lieutenant General Carlito G Galvez, Jr., Commander of the Western Mindanao Command, some 30 Ulama members aired their concerns pertaining the role of the Ulama and the Sultanate in countering violent extremism and their participation in the plight of the internally displaced persons.

Despite the continuous threat to their lives, the Ulama and traditional leaders confessed their spiritual obligation to tell the truth and abhor the Un-Islamic virtues of the Maute ISIS.

“Joining an organization in exchange for money is taboo in Islam, more so, supporting a terror group that does not respect life is unacceptable to Islam,” said the Ulama leaders. “Islam is peace, and those who not want peace, is not Islam.”

The Ulamas believe that terrorism is not only a problem in Mindanao but a national and global threat that needs to be addressed.

“We support the Ulamas’ intent in pushing for the conduct of a National Ulama Council because we believe that it will save our communities from the devastation that violent extremism may bring,” Galvez said, for his part.

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Granted immunity from suit and security protection, customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba on Monday named eight persons, five of them incumbent Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials, as recipients of grease money known as ‘tara” for every container to facilitate swift and easy release of shipments of goods into the country.

The witness confessed facilitating the entry of the P6.4-billion shabu shipment into the country for the Hongfei Logistics in Valenzuela City.

Taguba, complying to the order of Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro to pinpoint the BOC men whose names were reflected on a list he submitted, stood up and walked toward Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Teddy Raval, lawyer Vincent Philip Maronilla, Manila International Container Port collector; Director Neil Estrella of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Services (CIIS); CIIS officer Teddy Sagaral, and Director Milo Maestrocampo of the Imports and Assessment Service.

Taguba also named a certain Major Gutierrez, now deceased; Maita Acevedo, and a certain “Jason” as among those included in the list of bribed Customs personnel.

A certain “Tita Nani” was also named but was not included in the list.

All BOC officials quickly belied Taguba’s claim after being given by lawmakers the chance to respond to the accusation.

But of course, Charlie. What else would we expect.

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United States (US) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday ruled out a quick return to dialogue with North Korea, as he said new UN sanctions showed the world has run out of patience with Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

Tillerson said Washington would only consider talks if Pyongyang halted its ballistic missile program – something the North has insisted it has no intention of doing, as we had predicted here earlier. The belligerent Korea even vowed Monday to bolster its nuclear arsenal and gain revenge of a “thousand-fold” against the United States in response to tough U.N. sanctions imposed following its recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

In a statement carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s government said the sanctions were a “violent infringement of its sovereignty” that was caused by a “heinous U.S. plot to isolate and stifle” the country.

“We will make the U.S. pay by a thousand-fold for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country,” the statement said.

The North said it would take an unspecified “resolute action of justice” and would never place its nuclear program on the negotiating table or “flinch an inch” from its push to strengthen its nuclear deterrence as long as U.S. hostility against North Korea persists.

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Election chief Andres Bautista received commissions for referring companies, such as Smartmatic, Baseco and United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), to Divina Law, one of the country’s fastest-growing law firms, his wife alleged in a sworn statement.

Patricia Paz “Tish” Bautista said she discovered several checks and commission sheets that purportedly came from lawyer Nilo T. Divina, managing partner of DivinaLaw.

Meanwhile, Bautista on Monday said he was ready to face any inquiry, including an impeachment complaint, into his wife’s allegation that he amassed around P1 billion in unexplained wealth.

He is open to stepping down if he thinks the Comelec is being dragged into the controversies he is facing, he said.

He related, “I told him (referring to President Rodrigo Duterte in Pilipino) ‘If I sense that I’m weighing down an institution, there’s no problem. I will resign,’” he said.

Bautista and his wife, Patricia, met with Mr. Duterte in Malacañang five days after Patricia met with the President to inform him about the alleged unexplained wealth of the Comelec chief. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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