Police say Gatwick drones probe ongoing

Police officers stand near equipment on the rooftop of a building at London Gatwick Airport, south of London, on Dec. 21, 2018, as flights resumed following the closing of the airfield due to a drones flying. (AFP)
Updated 24 December 2018

Police say Gatwick drones probe ongoing

  • The drone crisis led to a series of shutdowns at the country's second-busiest airport

LONDON: Sussex Police insist investigations into drone sightings around London's Gatwick Airport are ongoing despite a comment from a senior detective that there may not have been any drones flying over the airport after all. 
The drone crisis led to a series of shutdowns at the country's second-busiest airport over a three-day period last week at, which left tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded at the height of the Christmas travel season.
The airport was operating normally Monday, but military equipment remains in place to deter and track any fresh incursions.
In a statement on Twitter late Sunday, police said 67 drone sightings had been made by the public, passengers, police officers as well as staff at the airport, which is about 30 miles (45 kilometers) south of London.
Police said: "We have recovered a damaged drone, we're conducting house to house enquiries & taking statements from all who reported sightings."
The clarification was deemed necessary after Sussex Chief Detective Jason Tingley raised eyebrows — and drew wide criticism in the British press — when he said it's a "possibility" that there had not been drones in the area at all.
He was referring to the fact that the reported drone sightings came from human beings, not from electronic tracking equipment that could provide independent verification.
Nonetheless, the prospect that a travel breakdown that stranded or delayed more than 100,000 passengers might have been based on mistaken reports of drone activity caused widespread consternation.
Police were also criticized for arresting a man and a woman in connection to the drone flights and then releasing them without any charge after their names and photos had been published in many newspapers.
It is not clear whether the damaged drone discovered near Gatwick Airport will provide forensic clues that could lead police to locate the perpetrators of the worst reported drone activity to hit a major international airport.
Police say it was found in the area near where the last drone sighting occurred on Friday evening. The drone is being tested for DNA, fingerprints, and other evidence.


Philippine, Kuwaiti officials meet amid labor ban

Updated 21 January 2020

Philippine, Kuwaiti officials meet amid labor ban

  • The meeting took place days after the Philippines announced a complete ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait

MANILA: Philippine and Kuwaiti officials on Sunday held talks in the wake of a ban imposed by Manila on Filipinos working in the Gulf state.

Abdullah D. Mama-o, President Rodrigo Duterte’s adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) concerns, met with Kuwait Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah to discuss bilateral ties and how to overcome the crisis.

The meeting took place days after the Philippines announced a complete ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait following the killing of Jeanelyn Villavende.

A forensic examination conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on Villavende’s body showed “clear indications of sexual abuse,” and signs of physical abuse dating back weeks before her death.

Villavende’s employer and his wife, allegedly the perpetrators in the Filipino maid’s killing, are now behind bars in Kuwait.

During the meeting between Mama-o and Al-Jarallah, “the Filipino official praised Kuwait for the legal procedures the country has taken to address the issue,” Kuwait’s official news agency KUNA reported.

Officials from both countries are scheduled to hold further meetings next month to resolve the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait rescued another Filipino maid, Delia Solomon, who accused her employers of mistreatment.

“While a distressed OFW’s plea was going viral (on) social media yesterday, our Kuwait PE (Philippine Embassy) worked quietly on extracting her,” Foreign Undersecretary Brigido Dulay tweeted on Sunday.

“We are happy to report that she is now sheltered in our embassy and we’re working on reuniting her with her loved ones next week.”

Prior to his talks with Al-Jarallah, Mama-o on Saturday met with more than 100 members of the Filipino community in Kuwait.

Issues discussed included the Philippine government’s contingency plan amid tensions in the Middle East, and the decision of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s governing board to impose a ban on the deployment of newly hired OFWs bound for Kuwait.

Mama-o, who was accompanied by other Philippine officials, said the Duterte administration will exert all efforts to safeguard the welfare of all Filipinos in the Middle East.

During the Filipino community meeting, Chargé d’Affaires Noordin Pendosina Lomondot assured Filipinos in Kuwait that the embassy is preparing for any scenario in case the situation in the region does not improve.

The official gave Filipino community leaders details of the embassy’s contingency plan, such as possible evacuation routes and the names of area coordinators.