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Fugitive behind illegal Japanese Manga site nabbed

THE ALLEGED manager of “Manga-Mura,” an illegal viewing Web site of Japanese cartoons or Manga, a fugitive wanted in Japan for copyright law infringement, was arrested last July 7 by the Bureau of Immigration. In a press release, BI Intelligence Office Bobby R. Raquepo identified the Japanese-German-Israeli suspect as 28-year old Romi Hoshino, also known as Zakay Romi. The Association of Copyright of Japan said the cost of damages inflicted by Manga-Mura, which operated from January 2016 to April 2018, is approximately 320 billion yen ($2.9 billion) and was said to be the “worst violation of the Copyright Law of Japan.” Mr. Raquepo said the Embassy of Japan in Manila requested the NBI’s help in locating and arresting the suspect. “The Japanese embassy informed us that they will conduct the necessary coordination with the Israeli and German Embassy regarding the fugitive’s deportation to Japan,” Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

New PhilHealth president to prioritize reorganization, better IT system

THE NEWLY-appointed president and chief executive officer of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Ricardo C. Morales, said he will prioritize the agency’s reorganization and improvement of its information technology (IT) systems. “We are conducting a study on this, on changes that have to be made, positions that will be created, positions that will be merged. Ang purpose diyan (The purpose for that) is to be efficient and economical,” Mr. Morales said on Tuesday as he made his first appearance as PhilHealth head during the agency’s Kapihan with Media. The retired general stressed that the reorganization is particularly crucial with the impending implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law. Under the UHC, all Filipinos will automatically become PhilHealth members.

IT SYSTEMS
Mr. Morales also said that he will look at improving the IT systems to make PhilHealth less prone to fraud. “(We want to) reduce the face-to-face transaction and rely on an information system that will be more efficient and less prone to corruption,” he said, adding that they are currently studying the health systems of other countries. PhilHealth Senior Vice President Rodolfo B. Del Rosario Jr., meanwhile, said they are currently reviewing the available budget for better IT systems, with most of the related services being outsourced. “Isa yung problema namin ay (One of our problems is the) procurement because most of these are outsourced. We are reviewing now the budget because sometimes, either no one bids or the bidding fails,” he said in an interview with reporters on Monday. — Gillian M. Cortez

Police launches ‘revitalized’ cleansing program amid series of reported abuses by cops

THE PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) launched on Tuesday a “revitalized” internal cleansing program amid recent reports of abuses by cops as well as continued criticism over alleged human rights violations in the government’s war against illegal drugs. “[This is] to revitalize their knowledge and appreciation of Human Rights Principles and Standards, and most importantly to keep on reminding them not to repeat the same mistakes especially on operation of our anti-illegal drugs campaign,” said PNP chief Gen. Oscar D. Albayalde during a press briefing at Camp Crame, July 9. The cleansing program will put emphasis on values formation and spiritual development and strengthening of families of PNP personnel. Further, Mr. Albayalde pointed out that 2,400 policemen have been dismissed from service for various administrative cases and 422 for involvement in drug-related cases. In response to the latest report by rights group Amnesty International, Mr. Albayalde said he respects their findings but pointed out that the number of alleged killings have never been proven. “Allegations of killings were never proven. All our anti-illegal drugs operations continue to be conducted within the bounds of the law with utmost respect for human rights,” said the PNP chief. PNP data from July 2016 to date show the police arrested a total of 240,565 drug personalities and cleared over 12,000 barangays of illegal drug trafficking and abuse. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

President’s spokesman excited to ‘educate’ Amal Clooney on Ressa case

PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo. — PHILSTAR/JOVENCIO CAGANDE

HUMAN RIGHTS lawyer Amal Clooney will lead a team of international lawyers that will represent online news site Rappler Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor Maria A. Ressa, who is facing various charges, including tax evasion and cyber-libel. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo, in a briefing in Malacañang Tuesday, said he is excited to debate with Ms Clooney and “educate” her regarding Ms. Ressa’s cases. In a press release, law firm Doughty Street Chambers said Ms. Clooney and lawyer MS. Gallagher will work closely with the US counsel at law firm Covington & Burling LLP, and will coordinate with Ms. Ressa’s domestic counsel in Manila. “Maria Ressa is a courageous journalist who is being persecuted for reporting the news and standing up to human rights abuses. We will pursue all available legal remedies to vindicate her rights and defend press freedom and the rule of law in the Philippines,” Ms. Clooney was quoted as saying. In the release, Ms. Ressa said: “I have been targeted and attacked simply for being an independent journalist. I am delighted that Amal Clooney and her team will be representing me at the international level to challenge the violations of my rights and those of the media organization I represent.” Aside from tax evasion charges, Ms. Ressa and Rappler are also charged for alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law in connection with Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) it issued to Omidyar Network Fund, LLC in 2015. Mr. Panelo said Ms. Clooney cannot appear in Philippine courts representing Ms. Ressa as she is not a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. “Kumbaga baka (Maybe just as as) consultant (or) spokesperson,” he said. He added that he is “excited to debate” with Ms. Clooney, who once filed a case against the Philippine government before the United Nations over the detention of former president Goria M. Arroyo. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Arjay L. Balinbin