Archive for Philippines
Two Germans kidnapped by Islamic militants in the Philippines are safely back at their Manila embassy, officials said Saturday after a harrowing six-month ordeal in which they endured threats of beheading and seemingly routine cruelty. Officials said a private plane flew Stefan Okonek, in his 70s, and his partner Henrike Dielen, in her 50s, to Manila from the southern port of Zamboanga at dawn after the Abu Sayyaf gunmen released them late Friday. “With the release from captivity of the two German nationals, our security forces will continue efforts to stem the tide of criminality perpetrated by bandit elements,” President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said in a statement. Germany’s foreign ministry and the Philippine military also confirmed the hostages had arrived at the embassy in Manila. The Abu Sayyaf had given the German government until Friday to pay a $5.6 million ransom and withdraw its support for US offensives against jihadists in Syria and Iraq. The group also threatened to behead one of the hostages unless the demands were met. Philippine authorities said the two hostages were snatched at sea in April as they sailed near the western Philippine island of Palawan.
Traffic near the United States Embassy in Manila was slowed down before noon Tuesday after some 30 militants picketed the facility to protest the killing of a transgender woman in Subic last weekend.
Members of militant groups including the League of Filipino Students waved red flags and placards with anti-US slogans, radio dzBB’s Manny Vargas reported. While police prevented the militants from getting near the embassy premises, the confrontation took up two lanes of the boulevard’s southbound lane. A video posted by Vargas showed anti-riot police blocking the path of the militants. Following the incident, US Pacific commander Admiral Samuel Locklear III ordered US ships in the country to stay in the Philippines until the investigation is done.
The US Embassy in Manila is working closely with Philippine authorities in identifying the suspect in the killing of a transgender woman in Olongapo City over the weekend amid allegations the foreign companion the victim was last seen with may be a US national. In a statement aired on Monday, the US Embassy sent its condolences to the family and friends of the victim, who was found dead inside the Celzone Lodge in Barangay East Tapinac Saturday night. “We are aware of the situation and express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We are also aware that there are allegations that a foreigner, including possibly a US national, was involved in the incident. We are currently looking into these allegations and working closely with the PNP (Philippine National Police) to take all necessary steps to help identify the suspects,” it said. A team from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) joined the police Sunday in inspecting the crime scene and was also present during the victim’s autopsy. NCIS is a US federal law enforcement agency tasked with investigating actual or suspected major criminal offenses involving the Navy and Marine Corps. Meanwhile, a Marine Corps Times report posted Sunday night said a US Marine has been placed in custody on board the amphibious assault ship Peleliu in connection with the incident.
Newsline: South Korean Embassy in Manila alarmed by rising number of Korean fatal victims of crime in Philippines
The Korean Embassy in Manila has expressed alarm over the rising number of deaths of its nationals who had become victims of crimes here and said that if this trend continued, Korean would be discouraged from coming to the Philippines. In a statement, the Korean embassy said that so far, nine Koreans have died in violent crimes since January. The latest case involved a Korean businessman who was killed last July 27 in a car-jacking, the embassy said. The man’s wife was also abducted but was later released unharmed and police have arrested the family driver “for possible involvement in the crime,” it said. The embassy also mentioned the abduction and murder last March of 21-year-old student named Lee Ji Won, noting that one of the suspects in his murder included a taxi driver. It also said the “brutal and senseless crime (against Lee) rattled the Korean community in the Philippines.” “The rising incidence of crimes committed against Koreans while in the Philippines either on vacation or on business is a trend that has alarmed the Embassy of the Republic of Korea,” the embassy said.
Filipinos transacting with the Canadian Embassy in Manila may have to use alternative means of communication as the embassy’s telephone system is temporarily down. In a post on its Twitter account on Thursday, the embassy said it is experiencing “technical difficulties” with its phone system and is unable to receive calls. The embassy advised the public to contact it in the meantime via email at MANILGeneral@international.gc.ca. On the other hand, Canadian citizens needing consular assistance may call +1 613 996 8885 long distance (collect calls accepted) or 1 800 1 110 0226 toll free from a landline. They may also send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsline: Philippine Embassy says militants beheaded construction worker in Libya, starts mass evacuation
A Filipino construction worker in Libya was beheaded by militants in Benghazi, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday. He is the first Filipino casualty in Libya since the civil strife in the North African state erupted anew and since the first civil war that toppled the regime of Libyan strongman Moammar Ghadafi in 2011, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose told a press briefing. Citing the report of the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli and Filipino community members, Jose said the Filipino, whose identity he refused to disclose, was kidnapped by armed men on July 15 and was subsequently beheaded in Benghazi. His remains were found at a hospital on July 20. Libya is currently in a state of civil war. The Philippine government is currently enforcing the mass evacuation of around 13,000 Filipinos there. The Philippine government has identified Egypt or Tunisia as exit routes for the Filipinos. As of Monday, 207 Filipinos have registered for evacuation and will be flown to Manila as soon as the Philippine embassy there has completed their travel requirements, Jose said.
A Chinese envoy forcefully refuted accusations made by Vietnam and the Philippines against China over the South China Sea situation, holding the two countries responsible for any disputes. At the meeting of state parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) held here, Wang Min, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, slammed Vietname and the Philippines for infringing upon Chinese territory. He reiterated that Xisha Islands are an inherent part of China’s territory, and are under effective jurisdiction of the Chinese government. “There’s no dispute about them,” he said, pointing to the fact that all the successive Vietnamese governments prior to 1974 had formally acknowledged Xisha islands as part of China’s territory since ancient times. “Now the Vietnamese government is going back on its word and making territorial claims over China’s Xisha Islands,” Wang said, noting that Vietnam is reneging on its own promises, saying one thing today and denying it tomorrow. With regard to all the false accusations made by the Philippines against China, Wang pointed out the root cause of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea is the Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands and reefs belonging to China’s Nansha islands. The ambassador noted that pursuant to the provisions of UNCLOS, the Chinese government made a declaration in 2006, excluding disputes over maritime delimitation and territorial sovereignty from compulsory dispute settlement procedures.