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October 19, 2015

Typhoon Koppu makes landfall in the Philippines, displacing at least 16,000

Typhoon Koppu makes landfall in the Philippines, displacing at least 16,000

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Monday, October 19, 2015

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Typhoon Koppu, known additionally as Lando, made landfall in the northern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least two and displacing at least 16,000 people.

A satellite image of Typhoon Koppu, as of October 17.
Image: United States Naval Research Laboratory.

The deadly storm caused a concrete wall in a home in Subic, Zambales to topple over, killing a 62-year-old woman and injuring her husband. A 14-year-old teenager was killed after being fatally pinned down in Manila by a tree which got knocked over. The same fallen tree injured four others, including a three-year-old. The tree additionally damaged three nearby houses.

The injured people were sent to the East Avenue Medical Centre for treatment.

A map showing the typhoon’s path.
Image: User:Meow, data from NOAA.

The typhoon made landfall in the town of Casiguran, a town with a population of 25,000 in the province of Aurora. Subsequently it ripped roofs off of houses, uprooted trees, and knocked down power lines. Nine provinces were left without electricity. Flash floods and landslides heavily damaged roads, and as a result 25 roads were made impassable.

The army attempted to clear routes leading to Casiguran, according to the state-owned Philippines News Agency. Nigel Lontoc, an employee of the Office of Civil Defense said that some residents were trapped on rooftops in the province of Nueva Ecija. Troops were sent to that location as a part of a rescue operation.

The typhoon weakened as it moved over land, and weather improved in some regions. Officials urged residents to be cautious since Koppu may still cause landslides and flash floods.

Alexander Pama, Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said that they were asking their countrymen “not to become complacent.”

The typhoon is expected to move slowly over the Philippines, causing large amounts of rainfall.

This year, Koppu is the twelfth typhoon to hit the Philippines, where around 20 typhoons make landfall per year.

Bob Henson, weather blogger from Weather Underground, said that the Philippines is considered to be “the most vulnerable large nation on earth for tropical cyclones.”



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January 23, 2013

Philippines seeks United Nations arbitration on South China Sea claims

Philippines seeks United Nations arbitration on South China Sea claims

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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To write, edit, start or view other articles on the Philippines, see the Philippines Portal
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The Philippines said yesterday it will take China to an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on a series of territorial disputes involving the South China Sea.

According to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Manila chose this move after exhausting “almost all political and diplomatic avenues.” He also says he has already informed the Chinese ambassador in Manila.

Disputes such as those involving the Scarborough Shoal and China’s Nine-dotted line map are likely to be tackled. The Philippines has stated the map issued by China is unlawful under UNCLOS, which includes both countries as signatories.

The Philippines and China are involved in a variety of disputes in the South China Sea along with Taiwan and ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The current chair of ASEAN, Brunei, has stated it seeks a legally-binding “code of conduct” for the disputes.



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January 19, 2013

US Navy ship damages Tubbataha Reef National Park

US Navy ship damages Tubbataha Reef National Park

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

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USS Guardian.
Image: U.S. Navy.

The USS Guardian, a United States Navy vessel used for destroying mines, ran aground in the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef National Park in the Sulu Sea on Thursday, according to the US Navy.

The US Navy said the incident occurred at 2:25 a.m. local time about 130 km east-southeast of the province of Palawan in the Philippines and about 98 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa, the capital of the province. There were no reports of injuries nor signs of fuel leakage. The ship has a crew of 80 and had previously completed a port call at Subic Bay earlier in the week.

The US Navy also said they were investigating the incident. They also said in a statement, “The crew is currently working to determine the best method of safely extracting the ship”. An Avenger class mine countermeasures ship, the ship was on its way to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It is assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet and based in Sasebo, Nagasaki in Japan.

The US Embassy in Manila stated, “The Government of the Philippines was promptly informed of the incident and offered to assist the U.S. Navy, and we greatly appreciate their offers of assistance […] The safety of the Guardian’s crew and preventing harm to the environment are the U.S. Navy’s top priorities”. An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in Palawan told reporters they have deployed a force offering to assist the Guardian.

Under sections 19 and 26 of the Tubbataha Reefs National Park Act of 2009, Republic Act 10067, the US Navy can be charged with unauthorized entry and could pay 12,000PHP for each square meter of reef destroyed.

A similar incident occurred in 2005 when the Rainbow Warrior ran aground in the same vicinity. Greenpeace, an environmental advocacy group and owners of the Rainbow Warrior, were fined 384,000PHP (US$6,857) for damaging a reef area of 32 by 3 meters (105 by 10 feet).

Tubbataha Reef has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and covers 97,030 hectares. A diverse variety of coral reef and marine life currently take refuge within the park including sharks and turtles. The reef is also known as a popular recreational diving site.



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January 4, 2013

Philippines spree shooting kills ten including gunman

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Friday, January 4, 2013

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A gunman armed with a 45-caliber pistol killed at least nine people in Cavite, Philippines, and injured eight more, as he ran amok in a slum area outside Manila, according to Cavite governor Juanito Victor C. Remulla.

At least some of the victims were children, among them a four-year-old godchild of gunman Ronald Bae. Bae once unsuccessfully contested for a position as a local village chief.

The motive for the killings remains uncertain, although Bae was known to have been under the influence of alcohol and drugs before and during the said incident.

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November 21, 2012

Philippines to host four-country meeting about South China Sea disputes

Philippines to host four-country meeting about South China Sea disputes

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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South China Sea maritime claims, June 2011.
Image: Voice of America.

The Philippines announced today it will host a meeting on December 12 in Manila regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The meeting of deputy foreign ministers is to be attended by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the host country.

The meeting is a new step in attempts to solve disputes between these countries and China. China has previously stated it wishes to solve the disputes bilaterally instead of multilaterally. It comes after the failure of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to produce a consensus on how to solve the disputes during a summit this month. Cambodia, an ally of China, is the current chair of ASEAN.

Current disputes in the South China Sea include areas such as the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. China and Taiwan each claim nearly the whole sea while the countries attending the meeting claim parts of it.

The area contains abundant fishing grounds and important shipping lanes. Large fossil fuel deposits are believed located in the area.



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November 18, 2011

Philippine court issues arrest warrant for former President Arroyo

Philippine court issues arrest warrant for former President Arroyo

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Friday, November 18, 2011

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Arroyo in 2009
Image: World Economic Forum.

A Philippine regional court has issued an arrest warrant for former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on charges of election fraud. This came hours after the Philippine Supreme Court found — for the second time this week — that the government could not prohibit her from leaving the country, because no charges had been filed against her.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court temporarily suspended a government ban on Arroyo’s leaving the country. Arroyo claims to suffer from a rare bone disease, and arrived by ambulance at the Manila airport, with neck brace and wheelchair, to go abroad for treatment. She was denied exit by officials at the airport.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday gave Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ten days to explain why she is not in contempt of court for ordering airport officials to deny Arroyo’s exit on Tuesday. If found in contempt of court, she could be subject to a jail term of six to ten months. De Lima maintains the government’s actions were legal.

Current President Benigno Aquino was elected last year promising to prosecute his predecessor, Arroyo. When Arroyo became president in 2001, she prosecuted her predecessor for corruption; after six years of luxurious house arrest, Joseph Estrada was convicted and given a life prison sentence, from which Arroyo promptly pardoned him. Aquino has said he would not pardon Arroyo.

Arroyo’s father was once President, as was Aquino’s mother. Arroyo is now a member of Congress, along with her two sons and a brother-in-law. The Supreme Court is dominated by members appointed by Arroyo.

Last year, Aquino set up a commission to investigate Arroyo, but the commission was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The current charges against Arroyo are for fraud in the Senate elections of 2007.



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January 29, 2011

Four killed, fourteen others injured at bus blast in Philippines

Four killed, fourteen others injured at bus blast in Philippines

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

An explosion occurred in a bus in the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, in Makati City, Philippines on Tuesday. The blast occurred in shortly before 2 p.m. Four are dead with fourteen more wounded.

After the explosion, the National Capital Region Police Office’s Director, Nicanor Bartolome, said that he formed a special investigation team and the city has formed a crisis management committee.

President Benigno Aquino III condoled the grieving families of the dead. The Metro Manila police are now on full alert following the blast. The bus was an air-conditioned model, plate number TXJ-710.

After news reached the Malacañang Palace spokesman Eduardo Lacierda said that the cause of the blast was “some sort of explosive device placed in the vicinity of the middle of the bus.” Many passengers had already got off before the explosion; almost half disembarked at Ayala.

A survivor said that they did not notice the explosion because they were all busy watching television. The bus driver noticed an abnormal smell, namely gunpowder. He stated that mechanical failure could not possibly be the cause. The police are yet to establish what type of explosive was used.


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October 20, 2010

Ten dead, nine injured as Super Typhoon Megi clears Philippines

Ten dead, nine injured as Super Typhoon Megi clears Philippines

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Satellite image of Megi
Image: NASA.

Ten people are confirmed dead and nine injured as Super Typhoon Megi, also known as Juan, cleared the Philippines Tuesday. Megi is the strongest typhoon to strike the country this year.

Megi is currently a “super typhoon” with winds in excess of 185 km/h (115 mph). It brought strong winds and heavy rains to northern provinces Monday, knocking out power and forcing the cancellation of flights.

Experts indicated that Megi might damage up to 60% of the rice crop in the Cagayan valley on the main island of Luzon, producer of about one-third of the rice for the Philippines.

Reports state that landslides have blocked roads in the Apayao province, Luzon. Four casualties were caused by drowning, three by a building collapse, two by collapsed trees and one by a lightning strike. It has been reported that nine people were injured in Cagayan, Kalinga, and Baguio City.

As the typhoon leaves the western shores of Luzon, US forecasters predict that it will reach mainland China on Thursday or Friday
Image: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, US Dept. of Defense.

Thousands of soldiers were on standby as the storm hit, ready to deliver aid to those affected.

Megi began to clear the Philippines and is heading towards mainland China. The typhoon soaked the capital, Manila, with rain until 8 pm local time Tuesday.



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October 18, 2010

One dead as Super Typhoon Megi makes landfall in Philippines

One dead as Super Typhoon Megi makes landfall in Philippines

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Satellite image of Megi
Image: NASA.

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One man is confirmed drowned in a river as Super Typhoon Megi, also known as Juan, makes landfall in the Philippines. Megi is the strongest typhoon to strike the country this year.

A change in direction sees warnings for the capital, Manila, decrease to level one – an alert indicating winds around 60 km/h (35 mph) are probable.

Megi is currently a super typhoon with winds in excess of 190 km/h (120 mph). It is estimated that Megi could damage up to 60% of the rice crop in the Cagayan valley on the main island of Luzon, producer of about one-third of the rice for the country.

The typhoon has brought strong winds and heavy rains to two coastal northern provinces, knocking out power and forcing the cancellation of flights. The head of the national disaster agency, Benito Ramos, states 3,000 people have been evacuated from Cagayan. Officials have also warned that extensive damage is likely.

Reports state that landslides have blocked roads in the Apayao province, Luzon. The confirmed casualty was a farmer, washed away by a river.

Officials are warning residents of the possibility of rough seas, flash floods and landslides. The president of the Philippines has called an emergency cabinet meeting in a military base in Manila to review disaster preparations; thousands of soldiers are on standby, ready to deliver aid to those affected.



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October 2, 2010

Filipino activist arrested for disrupting Manila Cathedral mass in Reproductive Health Bill protest

Filipino activist arrested for disrupting Manila Cathedral mass in Reproductive Health Bill protest

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

A photograph of a broadcast journalist holding a microphone to Carlos Celdran as he speaks in an interview. A crowd of demonstrators stand behind him, one holding a sign which reads

Carlos Celdran being interviewed on-camera at a pro-Reproductive Health Bill rally at the Philippine Congress in November 2009

Popular Filipino social commentator and tour guide Carlos Celdran staged a protest action in Manila, Philippines against church opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill. Dressed as Jose Rizal, Celdran, 37, entered Manila Cathedral during a mass with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Edward Adams, and other Catholic bishops present, standing before the altar with a sign bearing the word “Damaso” — a reference to the villainous, power-wielding Spanish friar from Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere, who represents the abuses of the Catholic Church during the 19th century Spanish occupation of the Philippines. He shouted “Stop getting involved in politics!” before he was taken away by the police at around 4:30 p.m. Once outside, Celdran said the Church officials “need to hear what the Filipinos are saying: that 90 percent of the people want the RH [Reproductive Health Bill].”

At around 8:15 p.m. the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines filed charges against Celdran for violation of Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits “offending religious feelings.” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, who previously headed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (CBCP-ECBA), said, “What is approved by people does not mean it is approved by God.”

Celdran reported in a media interview following his arrest that “I kinda showed the [priests] what [civil disobedience] was like. The Millennium Development Goals of the Philippines hinge on controlling the population and maternal health, but they have done nothing but lie and blackmail…the Presidents and deprive the poorest of the poor of reproductive health services.” He had announced the action via tweet the previous day, saying: “Carlos Celdran is going to go to Manila Cathedral at 3pm to COUNTER the CBCP/Bible anti-RH group. Anyone want to join me?”

Celdran has been tweeting and giving media interviews from his jail cell. Through Twitter he expressed surprise that the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines filed charges. He faces up to five years in prison. At approximately 5:25am Manila time, he tweeted “its just hitting me now. I can’t believe the CBCP [Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines] has the capacity and the desire to see me jailed. Who is next?”

It appears that this action was part of a larger program of protest, as the previous day he had invited his Facebook friends to a flash mob photo opportunity in front of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines taking place October 1, where he reported he would be wearing a bishop’s costume.

Celdran was freed almost a day later on 6,000-peso (US$138) bail. Friends of the artist had set up a Facebook fan page calling for his release, drawing more than 12,000 supporters by the time he posted bail.

“I apologize for being rude, but it was necessary for me to be rude,” he told reporters while in custody on Thursday. “I am sorry for the method that I used but I have no apologies for the message that I made.”

In a statement Friday, Manila’s 238 priests expressed “disapproval and condemnation” of the protest.

“These actions cannot by any means be considered within the purview of freedom of expression,” the statement said. “Instead they were malicious acts directed towards a faith, a religion that was represented by its leaders and the faithful gathered.”

President Benigno Aquino’s support of the people’s right to contraception has angered the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines and galvanized church opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill, that calls for contraceptives to be provided in government hospitals and sex education to be taught in public schools.

“We are approaching these issues from the moral aspect like the unborn. Abortion is a grave crime, excommunication is attached to those (acts). That is an issue of gravity. That is a violation of God’s commandment,” said Odchimar over the Church-run Radio Veritas.

Malacañang Palace shrugged off Odchimar’s declaration. “We are guided by our conscience. My position has not changed. The state’s duty is to educate our families as to their responsibilities and to respect their decisions if they are in conformity to our laws,” President Aquino said.

Proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill have argued that rapid population growth and high fertility rates have exacerbated crushing poverty, and birth control could be a powerful way to raise living standards.



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