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Youth groups condemn hate crimes, vow to pass anti-hate crime law

Youth groups vocally condemned hate crimes against the LGBT community and other marginalized sectors in response to the Orlando gay nightclub shooting

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Youth groups vocally condemned hate crimes against the LGBT community and other marginalized sectors in response to the Orlando gay nightclub shooting on June 12 which claimed the lives of 50 people, including the shooter, and injured 53 others, earning the label as the deadliest massacre in the US to date.

Kabataan Partylist led a short candle-lighting ceremony on Tuesday, in front of the University gates, followed by speeches from representatives of other youth groups namely College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), League of Filipino Students, and National Union of Students of the Philippines.

“Ang mga kabataang Pilipino ay nagpapakita ng buong suporta at pakikiisa sa ating panawagan na itigil ang ganitong klase ng mga krimen at inhustisya, […] sa mga marginalized sectors, […] lalong-lalo na ang mga miyembro ng ating LGBT community,” Kabataan representative Sarah Elago said.

Elago added that the youth party will push for the passing of the anti-hate crime bill, one of their main priorities in the coming 17th Congress, as a deterrent for prejudiced crimes and as a way to safeguard to rights of all Filipinos in marginalized sectors.

“Sa pagkamit ng mga demokratikong karapatan, doon lamang magkakaroon ng ganap na kalayaan hindi lamang magmahal sa sinong gusto nating mahalin, kundi pantay na karapatan at kalayaan na magmahal at magsilbi sa ating bayan,” she added.

Speakers from other youth groups echoed Elago’s speech and recalled Filipino LGBT hate-crime victims Ashley Reilley and Jennifer Laude, noting proximity of Ashley’s murder to the Orlando Shootings, further expressing the need for a systemic change.

CEGP National Deputy Secretary General Jon Jon Timunes Callueng said in his speech that what happened in Orlando may also occur in the Philippines, regardless of one’s religion, age or gender.

Meanwhile, Kapederasyon representative Pete Sengson said that the Orlando Shooting has shifted to a religious and politically-driven discourse, moving away from the issue of how hate crimes continue to spread caused by negative outlook on the LGBT community and poor gun-control laws in the US.

“Dalangin natin na magkaroon ng entitlement [ang mga marginalized sectors] at tanggalin ang [negatibong] perspektibo ng mga tao sa isang grupo dahil lamang sa isang itentidad kagaya ng lahi, kasarian, ethnicidad, o kung saan pa man nilang kinabibilangan,” he said.

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PDP-Laban backs UST alumnus for House speaker

Thomasian lawyer Lord Allan Velasco was chosen by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, as their bet for the next House speaker.

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Photo taken from Philippine Daily Inquirer

Thomasian lawyer Lord Allan Velasco was chosen by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, as their bet for the next House speaker. 

In a statement Wednesday, June 26, Senator Manny Pacquiao, a party stalwart, announced the endorsement of Marinduque representative Velasco as their choice for the House speakership.

Earlier, majority of the PDP-Laban members signed a manifesto stating their support for Velasco. But later in an interview, Duterte said that he will not be endorsing anyone for the post.

The manifesto read: “We are firmly convinced that Representative Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco is imbued with the leadership qualities to steer and unite the entire House of Representatives in the passage of crucial legislative reforms in support of the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in order to safeguard the country’s economic gains and social progress.”

Further, the manifesto added that Velasco is “the best choice” in leading the 18th Congress “given his experience, competence and strong camaraderie with his colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Duterte, through Malacañang spokesperson Salvador Panelo, reiterated his statement saying that he leaves the position to the capable hands of the members of the Congress. 

He added: “[Duterte] is comfortable with any of the candidates securing the seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives because they are all his political allies.”

Velasco finished his Bachelor of Laws in the University of Santo Tomas in 2005. Last 2018 in their homecoming, UST Alumni conferred on him Gawad Thomasian Alumni in Government Service Award along with Mocha Uson.

He served as the provincial administrator of Marinduque as well as the chairman of the Marinduque chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Among his priorities during his term as the provincial tourism council chairman was the improvement in agriculture and eco-tourism. 

Furthermore, as the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, he passed an act institutionalizing energy efficiency and conservation programs, while advocating for affordable energy and sufficient power supply.

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Aegis Juris fratman guilty of obstruction of justice in Atio’s death

(UPDATED) One of the principal suspects in the killing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, John Paul Solano, has been convicted of obstruction of justice and acquitted of perjury by a Manila court.

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Photo by Julius Villavieja

(UPDATED June 18, 5:52 p.m.) One of the principal suspects in the killing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III, John Paul Solano, has been convicted of obstruction of justice and acquitted of perjury by a Manila court.

In a decision promulgated by Judge Carolina Esguerra of Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 14, Solano was sentenced to an indefinite penalty of a minimum of two years, four months and one day in prison and a maximum of four years, two months and one day.

Solano, a member of Aegis Juris Fraternity brought Castillo to Chinese General Hospital after the initiation rites of the fraternity in 2017 after he was called to revive Castillo.

He initially said in his report to the police that he found Castillo’s body in Tondo, and later admitted to having given an incorrect lead to the police.

The ruling of the court states that Solano “gave false and fabricated information to mislead the police or prevent them from apprehending those responsible for the death of Castillo.”

In addition, Solano failed to convince the court that he lied because of fear of being involved in the crime, as the ruling stated that his claim was “imminent” and “speculative.”

His perjury charges were cleared due to police missteps, and he cannot be sent to prison unless a final decision has been made since both obstruction of justice and perjury are bailable charges.

Hopeful at conviction, resentful for UST’s ‘silence’

In an interview, Castillo’s parents said that they are looking at filing more complaints of obstruction of justice against several Aegis Juris members included in the Facebook group chat which discussed his death. This includes Cavite’s 5th District Board Member-elect, lawyer Kevin Anarna.

Horacio Jr. and Carmina Castillo said that the conversations in the chat group prove the obstruction of justice and the attempt to cover up the death of their son.

“We are very happy [about] the conviction of the obstruction. This is the first step to a perfect conviction,” said Carmina Castillo.

“So clearly, it can be shown ‘yong cover-up na nangyari. Hopefully, we will file cases again doon sa mga kasama, ‘yong mga lawyers, ‘yong mga involved doon sa cover-up,” Horacio Castillo Jr. added.

Castillo’s father also slammed the University’s inaction. “Wala silang cooperation, nothing,” Horacio Jr said.

The couple further added that the University has been very “silent” in the case.

Meanwhile, the ten other fraternity brothers who are currently in jail are still on trial for violating the anti-hazing law.

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61-year-old columnist nabbed at Misamis Airport

(UPDATED) She was then set for release hours later on the night of the same day after the witness asserted that she was not the actual subject of the arrest warrants.

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(UPDATED June 9, 9:50 p.m.) Sixty-one-year-old columnist Margarita Valle was arrested today, June 9, 2019 at Laguindingan Airport, Misamis Oriental by virtue of warrants of arrest dated years ago.

The former SunStar Davao columnist and currently a Davao Today columnist was arrested by joint operatives by virtue of two warrants of arrest. She was then set for release hours later on the night of the same day after the witness asserted that she was not the actual subject of the arrest warrant.

Judge Bernadette S. Paredes-Encinareal of Regional Trial Court (RTC) 10th Judicial Region, Branch 36, Calamba, Misamis Occidental issued the arrest warrant for multiple murder with quadruple frustrated murder and Damage to Property with no bail recommended dated December 29, 2011.

The other arrest warrant for arson was issued by Judge Aniceto Galon Jr. of RTC 9th Judicial Region, Branch 20, Pagadian City with bail recommended fixed at P24,000.00 dated September 4, 2006.

Valle was in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) after she conducted a writing workshop for the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and was about to board the plane for Davao City when she was arrested.

Valle’s son Rius Valle, who is one of the organizers of Lakbayan and Lumad Bakwit School in UST said that her mother was illegally arrested for “unknown reason.”

“She was set to go home after attending a training-workshop in CDO and about to board a plane to Davao when the arrest happened,” said Rius Valle in his tweet on Twitter.

In his Facebook post, Rius Valle said that those warrants of arrest are obviously “trumped up charges.”

Rius Valle added that her mother already made a phone call to Sister Mila Gimeno of the Missionaries of Assumption and confirmed that she was brought to Camp Avilon, Pagadian City.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in their Facebook post that the reason for Valle’s arrest remains unclear, adding that Maj. Napoleon Carpio of CIDG-10 confirmed her arrest but is not under their custody since she was arrested by CIDG-9 operatives.

Moreover, College Editors Guild of the Philippines condemned Valle’s “illegal arrest” in their statement, saying that it proves the “regime’s continuous efforts to silence individuals who are bravely fighting for human rights and democracy amidst the worsening political climate in the country.”

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