Hundreds of smuggled animals seized in the Philippines

Filipino authorities seized some 300 exotic animals illegally smuggled into the Philippines on Tuesday, one of the largest seizures ever made in the country, which has become a regional hub for this trade.

Flying phalangers – small marsupials originating of Australia and New Guinea -, wallabies and an endangered species of cockatoo were among the wild animals seized from Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and intended to become pets. [19659002] "In the matter of live animals, it is probably one of our largest" seizures, the government official for the environment Rogelio Demelletes told AFP.

The Philippine authorities have estimated the market value of the animals seized at $ 192,000, which is higher than that of all the wildlife seizures made by Manila last year.

 Cockatoos seized on March 13, 2018 in the Philippines, in the context of one of the main seizures ever made in this country (AFP - NOEL CELIS) ​​

Cockatoos seized on March 13, 2018 in the Philippines, as part of the one of the main seizures ever made in this country (AFP – NOEL CELIS) ​​

Four suspects were arrested.

Among the animals seized were also seven red paradise birds and 26 Moluccan cockatoos that the International Union for nature conservation (IUCN) considers endangered.

The Maluku cockatoo is considered a species threatened with extinction by the international convention on trade in animals, suspects face up to 12 years in prison Under Philippine Wildlife Legislation

 Cockatoo seized on March 13, 2018 in the Philippines as part of one of the largest seizures ever made in this country (AFP - NOEL CELIS) ​​

Cockatoos seized on March 13, 2018 in the Philippines in the context of one of the largest seizures ever made in this country (AFP – NOEL CELIS) ​​

Despite this legislation, the illegal trade in Wildlife is flourishing in the Philippines where it is growing more and more via social networks.

ISIS Continues to Enter Philippines, MILF Leader Reminds 'Second Marawi'

The leader of the largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), warned of a potential 'second Marawi'. This refers to the influx of radical Islamist militants Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into the Philippines.

As reported by AFP and Reuters Tuesday (20/2/2018), Murad Ebrahim who is the leader of the MILF says pro-ISIS militants in the Philippines continue to be purged of booty rifles and money cash. This situation, according to him, could trigger the latest attacks such as the attack on Marawi last year. The MILF has signed a peace deal with the Philippine government some time ago.

The pro-ISIS five-month militant raid on Marawi, Mindanao in 2017 reportedly killed more than 1,100 people. Murad insisted that the situation on the ground is currently quite 'ripe' for similar attacks in other Philippine cities, or the second Marawi attack.

"The ISIS group continues to pervade as they are expelled in the Middle East and they want to have another place," Murad said. "The other Marawi's opportunities can not be ruled out," he added.

Mentioned Murad, ISIS militants pushed in Iraq and Syria continue to flow into the southern Philippines. Murad did not mention the exact number of ISIS militants entering the Philippines. He simply stated the militants were moving to the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group, which often kidnaps foreigners and hijacks the ship. There, they recruited new fighters from remote Muslim communities.

This recruitment is suspected to be carried out to launch a new offensive in the Philippines. Murad mentions that there are two cities that may be the target of pro-ISIS group attacks in the Philippines.

"Based on our own intelligence information, foreign fighters expelled from the Middle East continue to enter our border gap and may plan to take two cities to the south – Iligan and Cotabato," he said without elaborating. The two cities are known to be within 38 kilometers and 265 kilometers from Marawi.

Murad also said that the MILF continues to fight against pro-ISIS militant efforts infiltrated the madrassas and secular universities to influence their ideology. "These extremists enter the madrassa, teach young Muslims about their own version of the Qur'an and some enter local universities to influence students, plant seeds of hatred and violence," Murad said.

According to Murad, pro-ISIS militants also exploited delays the discussion of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) legislation allowing local Muslim communities to run their own autonomy. He also encouraged the government of President Rodrigo Duterte to speed up the discussion of BBL. "If that (BBL) is not passed now, I think it will trigger a situation where extremist groups can recruit more followers, as this will prove their theory that there is no hope in the peace process," Murad said. "Given they have the ability to supply money and then they also have the ability to assemble explosives, bombs, they can use young followers to run their plans," he added.

(nvc / ita)

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Philippines Captures ISIS Unit Commander With His Beloved

An Egyptian man alleged to be the commander of a radical group unit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was arrested in the Philippines. He was arrested with a Filipino lady who was his lover.

As reported by local media, CNN Philippines and the Singapore media, Straits Times Monday (19/2/2018), a foreign man named Fehmi Lassqued was arrested by Philippine security forces over the weekend yesterday.

CNN Philippines calls Lassqued a Tunisian citizen. However Straits Times mentions Lassqued as an Egyptian citizen using a fake passport originating from Tunisia.

Philippine Police Chief, Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa, told a press conference that Lassqued was arrested along with his girlfriend, Anabel Salipada, a Filipino citizen. Both were arrested in the Emita district of Manila, Philippines.

The 32-year-old Salipada is said to have originated from the town of Tupi in Maguindanao Province, known to be a local militant base.

A number of firearms and materials for making pipe bombs were seized from Lassqued. Both Lassqued and Salipada were charged with possession of firearms, ammunition and assembled bomb components.

In a press conference, Dela Rosa referred to Lassqued as 'commander' and 'government negotiator' at ISIS in Syria.

"In the Philippines he is a recruiter, but he is a former negotiator between ISIS and local government officials in Syria and Turkey He is a former ISIS commander in Syria and Turkey We have confiscated an ISIS flag from him, "said Dela Rosa.

According to Dela Rosa, Lassqued entered the Philippines since July 2016 with a fake passport. While in the Philippines, he is known to travel 'out and into Manila' frequently. To the local journalist, Lassqued admits he was a 'former ISIS member'. He became a second foreign citizen associated with ISIS who was arrested in the Philippines this year.

(nvc / ita)

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Victims of Hurricanes in Southern Philippines So 9 Killed

The death toll from tropical storms that struck the Philippines has risen to nine, officials said Wednesday, while a crowd of thousands who fled back to their homes after the floods receded.

The civil defense office of Mindano said , flash floods and landslides caused by Tropical Storm Sanba struck the main island in the southern Philippines on Tuesday and killed eight people – twice the number previously reported.

"The floods have generally subsided and now all the streets are passable but still there two people who were declared missing by the flood, "civil defense official Mark Yap told AFP by telephone from Butuan city.

A baby also died on the central island of Leyte after a house was buried in an avalanche, according to the local civil defense office Sanba forced more than 21,000 people, mostly from the east coast of Mindanao, to flee, the office said nan civil in Manila. But Yap says many have returned to their homes.

The archipelago is on average hit by 20 hurricanes or typhoons each year, and some of them have killed people.

The deadliest hurricane record in the country's history is Super Typhoon Haiyan which resulted in more than 7,350 people dead or missing in central Philippines in November 2013. [mg/ab]

Philippines Releases More Than 2,200 Filipinos in Kuwait

More than 2,200 Filipinos in Kuwait are ready to accept a repatriation offer from President Rodrigo Duterte following reports of persecution, the Philippine Labor Secretary said on Sunday.

President Duterte has asked Philippine Airlines airlines and Cebu Airlines, Friday (9/2), to fly Filipinos who want to leave Kuwait, after the remains of a Filipino worker were found stored in a refrigerator, in an empty apartment.

"We have received information that until Friday, there were 2,200 more Filipino citizens who are willing to go home, "Labor Minister Silvestre Bello III told Reuters. He said some people have stayed beyond the time limit stated on the visa and have applied for an amnesty.

Both airlines have provided free charter flights. Bello says nearly 500 Filipino workers will be arriving in the near future.

The Philippine government stopped sending workers to Kuwait in January, after reports of several suicide workers for not enduring the persecution by employers. Duterte said on Friday that the cessation of labor shipments was valid for an undetermined time.

Kuwaiti's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah expressed "surprise and regret" over Duterte's statement, saying it had taken legal action in four killings the self called by President Duterte.

Over 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, according to Philippine Foreign Ministry estimates, mostly working as domestic servants. A large number of Filipinos also work in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The government will help returning workers to find work, Bello said. Government plans include seeking labor markets in other countries, including China and Russia. [fw/au]