Philippines deploys 180,000 personnel to secure Holy Week, Ramadan celebrations

Philippines deploys 180,000 personnel to secure Holy Week, Ramadan celebrations
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. addresses an audience in Quezon City on March 14, 2024. (Philippine National Police)
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Updated 27 March 2024
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Philippines deploys 180,000 personnel to secure Holy Week, Ramadan celebrations

Philippines deploys 180,000 personnel to secure Holy Week, Ramadan celebrations
  • About 52,000 police officers are stationed at key public places, like churches, terminals 
  • Security officials say there are no threats to safety across the Philippines  

MANILA: The Philippines has deployed 180,000 security personnel across the country for Holy Week celebrations, which this year coincide with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Around 80 percent of the Philippines’ more than 110 million people are Roman Catholics, whereas Muslims make up about 10 percent of the population.  

“Our commitment extends to ensuring the safety and security of our Catholic and Muslim brothers and sisters during this significant period of religious devotion,” Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., Philippine National Police chief, said.

Holy Week started on March 24 this year and will end on Easter Sunday. 

This year, the most sacred week of the Christian calendar coincides with the holy month of Ramadan that began on March 12, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and offer intense prayer and charity. 

Out of the 180,000 security personnel, about 52,000 police officers will patrol key public places, such as ports, terminals, airports, churches and tourist destinations, Acorda said. 

“While our deployment has been extensive, we are attentive to specific areas that could benefit from increased police visibility … As of now, we have not received any specific threats. However, we maintain a vigilant stance.” 

In December, Daesh militants targeted a Catholic Mass in the southern Philippine city of Marawi in a bombing that killed at least four people and injured 50 others. 

Though there has been no threat alarm, authorities in the Philippines are continuously patrolling to ensure safety nationwide, with the Christian and Muslim celebrations in mind. 

“The spirit of empathy is very important. Likewise, how we treat our fellow Catholics during Lent, it’s the same with our Muslim brother during Ramadan,” Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos told Arab News on Wednesday. 

“Definitely we have no threat, but still it is the attitude of the Philippine National Police even if there is no threat to be always prepared for anything.” 


Police ask Texas prosecutors to treat attempted drowning of 3-year-old child as a hate crime

Police said that as the mother helped her son, Wolf grabbed the woman’s 3-year-old daughter and forced her underwater. (REUTERS)
Police said that as the mother helped her son, Wolf grabbed the woman’s 3-year-old daughter and forced her underwater. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 sec ago
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Police ask Texas prosecutors to treat attempted drowning of 3-year-old child as a hate crime

Police said that as the mother helped her son, Wolf grabbed the woman’s 3-year-old daughter and forced her underwater. (REUTERS)
  • The mother of the children, who wears a hijab, said in a news release from the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that they are Palestinians who became American citizens

DALLAS: A Texas woman allegedly tried to drown a 3-year-old at an apartment complex pool in suburban Dallas after making racist remarks toward the child’s mother in a case investigators are asking to be treated as a hate crime, a police spokeswoman said Monday.
Elizabeth Wolf, 42, has been charged with attempted capital murder and injury to a child. The child’s mother told officers that Wolf told the mother she wasn’t American, along with other racial statements, police said.
The mother of the children, who wears a hijab, said in a news release from the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that they are Palestinians who became American citizens. Neither police nor CAIR have released the mother’s name.
Euless police Capt. Brenda Alvarado told The Associated Press that the department has requested that prosecutors in Tarrant County treat the case as a hate crime. A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said Monday that they have received the case and are currently reviewing it.
Police said in a statement that when officers arrived to a call about a disturbance between two women on May 19 in Euless, witnesses told officers that a “very intoxicated” Wolf had tried to drown a child and had argued with the child’s mother.
The child’s mother told officers that Wolf had been asking her where she was from and if the two children playing in the pool were hers, police said. The mother told officers that after she answered, Wolf tried to grab the woman’s 6-year-old son but he pulled away from her grasp, causing a scratch on his finger.
Police said that as the mother helped her son, Wolf grabbed the woman’s 3-year-old daughter and forced her underwater. The mother pulled her daughter, who was yelling for help and coughing up water, out of the pool, police said.
Medics evaluated both children, who were cleared.
Wolf has been released on bond. A call to her attorney was not immediately returned Monday.
On Saturday, community leaders came together to denounce the attack on the child and how the woman treated the family.
“The trauma and pain this has caused for the immigrant community broadly and Muslim community more specifically cannot be understated,” said state Rep. Salman Bhojani, whose district includes part of Euless.

 


Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs

Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs
Updated 31 min 40 sec ago
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Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs

Kenyan police are leaving for a controversial deployment in Haiti to take on powerful, violent gangs

NAIROBI, Kenya: Hundreds of Kenyan police officers were leaving Monday for Haiti, where they will lead a multinational force against the powerful gangs whose deadly violence spiked this year and helped bring about a change in government.

The deployment is controversial. The government of Kenyan President William Ruto is defying a court’s ruling calling it unconstitutional. And critics have expressed concern about the long history of alleged abuses by police officers.

The 400 police officers are the first of the 1,000 that Kenya expects to send for the United Nations-led force in Haiti. Ruto’s sendoff ceremony on Monday was closed to the media, but his office shared a speech in which he urged the officers to uphold integrity.

“We have mediated many conflicts and are currently engaged in resolving more,” he said. “Don’t let down the confidence the people of Kenya and the international community have in you.”

A court case seeking to block the deployment is pending, but an initial ruling had called the deployment unconstitutional, citing the lack of a reciprocal agreement between Kenya and Haiti.

US President Joe Biden, however, thanked Ruto for Kenya’s leadership of the multinational force during Ruto’s recent state visit to Washington. The United States has agreed to contribute $300 million to the force, but Biden argued that an American troop presence in Haiti would raise “all kinds of questions that can easily be misrepresented.”

More than 2,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of the year in Haiti. The spike in violence began in late February and has displaced more than half a million people. Gangs now control at least 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince and key roads. Trapped outside the country as the international airport was closed, Prime Minister Ariel Henry was forced to resign.

The most recent allegations by watchdogs against Kenyan police for using excessive force came last week, when two people died during anti-government protests. One protester was shot dead by a suspected plainclothes officer. The other was killed by a tear gas canister thrown by police.

Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority is looking into police conduct during the protests in which more than 200 other people were injured.


China lunar probe to return to Earth with samples

China lunar probe to return to Earth with samples
Updated 44 min 22 sec ago
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China lunar probe to return to Earth with samples

China lunar probe to return to Earth with samples

BEIJING: A Chinese probe carrying samples from the far side of the Moon is expected to return to Earth on Tuesday, capping a technically complex 53-day mission heralded as a world first.

Beijing has not disclosed the spacecraft’s estimated arrival time, but experts say it will likely touch down in a barren expanse of desert in the northern Inner Mongolia region at around midday (0400 GMT).

It comes bearing soil and rocks from the side of the moon that faces away from Earth, a poorly understood region that scientists say holds great research promise because its rugged features are less smoothed over by ancient lava flows than the near side.

That means the materials harvested there may help us to better understand how the Moon formed and how it has evolved over time.

Chang’e-6 blasted off from a space center on the island province of Hainan on May 3 and descended into the Moon’s immense South Pole-Aitken Basin almost exactly a month later.

It used a drill and robotic arm to scoop up samples, snapped some shots of the pockmarked surface and planted a Chinese flag in the grey soil.

On June 4, the probe made the first ever successful launch from the far side in what Chinese state news agency Xinhua called “an unprecedented feat in human lunar exploration history.”

Authorities have been coy about disclosing updates on the probe’s progress since then.

But China’s space agency said in a social media post on Friday that it was “70 percent” of the way back to Earth.

Plans for China’s “space dream” have shifted into high gear under President Xi Jinping.

Beijing has poured huge resources into its space program over the past decade, targeting ambitious undertakings in an effort to catch up to traditional space powers the United States and Russia.

It has built a space station, landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon, and become only the third country to send astronauts into orbit.

But the United States has warned that China’s space program masks military objectives and an effort to establish dominance in space.

China aims to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 and plans to eventually build a base on the lunar surface.

The United States also plans to put astronauts back on the Moon by 2026 with its Artemis 3 mission.


Without naming names, UN chief accuses Israel of misinformation

Without naming names, UN chief accuses Israel of misinformation
Updated 24 June 2024
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Without naming names, UN chief accuses Israel of misinformation

Without naming names, UN chief accuses Israel of misinformation
  • “The truth, in the end, always wins," Guterres says

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused Israel on Monday of spreading misinformation about him during the more than eight-month-long war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“I’ve heard the same source many times saying that I never attacked Hamas, that I never condemned Hamas, that I am a supporters of Hamas,” Guterres told a news conference on information integrity, without naming Israel.
“I have condemned Hamas 102 times, 51 of them in formal speeches, the others in different social platforms,” he said. “The truth, in the end, always wins.”
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the condemnations by Guterres were “empty words when compared to his actions.”
“His sole aim has been to help Hamas survive this war. We find it despicable that the secretary-general refuses to abide by the UN’s standards and paints a distorted picture of events on the ground,” Erdan said. “Antonio Guterres is an accomplice to terror and should resign today.”
Relations between the UN and Israel have long been fraught and have only worsened during the Israel-Hamas war.
Israel accused the UN of being biased against it and has accused UN staff of working with Hamas and other militants. The UN is investigating some of the allegations, but has said in many cases it is yet to received evidence from Israel.


Biden ‘appalled’ by clashes outside LA synagogue

Biden ‘appalled’ by clashes outside LA synagogue
Updated 24 June 2024
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Biden ‘appalled’ by clashes outside LA synagogue

Biden ‘appalled’ by clashes outside LA synagogue
  • People carrying Israeli flags also arrived, with jostling and sometimes blows between members of the two groups leaving some bloody, with a sizable police contingent later arriving to push back the crowds, AFP photos showed

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden said Monday he was “appalled” after pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside a Los Angeles synagogue over the weekend, prompting a counterprotest and violent clashes.
Protesters wearing keffiyehs and holding Palestinian flags gathered on Sunday outside the Adas Torah synagogue, where several US media outlets report a promotional event was being held by a real estate company specializing in Israeli and West Bank settlements.
People carrying Israeli flags also arrived, with jostling and sometimes blows between members of the two groups leaving some bloody, with a sizable police contingent later arriving to push back the crowds, AFP photos showed.
“I’m appalled by the scenes outside of Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles. Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American,” the president posted early Monday on X.
The 81-year-old Democrat has repeatedly vowed to combat anti-Semitism, as the Israel-Hamas war flares tensions across the United States.
“Americans have a right to peaceful protest. But blocking access to a house of worship — and engaging in violence — is never acceptable,” Biden added.
California Governor Gavin Newsom also called the violent clashes “appalling,” while Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said the city “will not be a harbor for antisemitism and violence.”
She said she had called on the LAPD to provide additional patrols in the area around the synagogue and “outside houses of worship throughout the city.”