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Memorial hall for ‘Tokhang’ victims to rise in Caloocan

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has vowed to conduct a deeper investigation into a recent plane crash in Isabela.

CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said probers would collect pieces of evidence at the crash site to determine the cause of the mishap that killed the pilot and his passenger.

Investigators will retrieve the plane’s emergency locator transmitter, engine and propeller, which are vital in determining the cause of the crash.

On Sunday, a K9 tracker team spotted the remains of passenger Emma Escalante some 200 meters away from the crash site.

The remains of the pilot, Capt. Levy Abul II, were found near the crash site on Dec. 7.

The plane took off from the Cauayan Airport in Isabela at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 30.

It did not reach the Palanan Airport, where it was exp ected to land after an hour.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development has released more than P57.3 million in assistance to earthquake victims in Mindanao, according to DSWD Assistant Secretary for legislative affairs Irene Dumlao.

The assistance included food and non-food items that were distributed to families and persons displaced by the quake.

“Our DSWD field offices continue to haul and deliver family food packs to affected municipalities,” Dumlao said.

She gave assurance that the DSWD’s Disaster Response Management Bureau is coordinating with its regional counterparts regarding updates and requests for relief augmentation.

Data showed a total of 949,499 f amily food packs are available at the DSWD disaster response centers as well as in its field offices nationwide including Caraga and Davao regions.

Dumlao said the agency is maintaining more than P2.7 billion in standby funds, and has prepositioned relief items that could be tapped any time for disaster response operations.

MANILA, Philippines — A week after a bomb attack killed four persons and wounded dozens of others during a Catholi c mass at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi, students returned to classes yesterday amid tight security and heightened police and military presence.

In a memorandum released on Dec. 7, MSU president Basari Mapupuno said the decision to resume classes “ensures the continuity and stability of the academic and professional pursuit of the student body.”

Mapupuno said the resumption of onsite classes at the MSU was made possible in coordination with the military, the police and the city and provincial governments of Marawi and Lanao del Sur, respectively.

University officials, faculty union heads and student leaders were also consulted on the matter, Mapupuno said.

The memorandum authorized the increased presence of military, police and peacekeeping forces on campus, the university said.

State forces and K9 teams will regularly inspect university offices, classrooms and buildings to ensure the safety of everyone.

“We urge everyone to cooperate with our security personnel and report any suspicious activity immediately. Your vigilance and cooperation are vital in ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone on campus,” Mapupuno said.

The university and the provincial government provided transportation to students who returned to campus from the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Pagadian as well as Malabang town.

Up to 1,948 students, who are officially enrolled this semester, returned to their home provinces after the bomb attack.

MANILA, Philippines — Former vice president Leni Robredo and former senator Leila de Lima yesterday attended groundbreaking rites for a memorial dedicated to victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, at the La Loma Cemetery in Caloocan.

Also in attendance were forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun and the families of the so-called “Tokhang” victims.

The Dambana ng Paghilom memorial will be built on a 36-square-meter lot donated by the Diocese of Caloocan, featuring 600 vaults.

Robredo expressed hope that the families of the drug war victims would not lose hope despite the slow pace of justice.

She said the memorial is a symbol that “we will never again allow this culture of killing.”

De Lima, who is out on bail on her third and last drug case before a Muntinlupa court, declared that “without justice, there will be no genuine and complete healing.”

“We will continue to fight for justice and push the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the war on drugs of the Duterte administration, as well as hold his cohorts and enablers accountable,” she said.

De Lima declined to comment when asked what her role would be in the potential ICC probe.

The event was also attended by representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, officials of the embassies of the Netherlands and Germany as well as representatives of the church.

Meanwhile, Randy de los Santos, uncle of Kian de los Santos, expressed gratitude for the establishment of the memorial.

Kian’s case is one of the few in Duterte’s bloody campaign wherein the police officers responsible for the killing were convicted and sent to prison.

“We, the families of the victims of EJK, are grateful for the existence of this hall so that our loved ones can be laid to rest,” Randy said in Filipino.

Kian was 17 when he was killed by police.

Merlita de la Cruz, 62, told The STAR she was grateful that the memorial would be built so she could keep the urn containing the ashes of her son, Jinbilly.

Jinbilly was killed during an anti-narcotics operation in Tondo, Manila in April 2017.

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