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Image source Wikimedia

Typhoon Mangkhut hit the Philippines’ main island on September 15 killing at least 25 people.

Extensive crop damage is feared in the agricultural province of Cagayan.

Mangkhut, which packs a 550 mile rain band and strong winds, is heading towards southern China.

The storm poses a “severe threat” to Hong Kong, the territory’s observatory said, urging residents to stay on high alert.

In the Philippines, Mangkhut made landfall at Baggao, in the north-east of the main island of Luzon, at about 01:40 local time on September 15 and left some 20 hours later.

Originally a super typhoon billed as the strongest storm of 2018, Mangkhut lost some of its strength on landfall.

Five million people were in its path and more than 100,000 sheltered in temporary centers.

Typhoon Haiyan affected 11 million people in Philippines

A presidential spokesman and disaster response coordinator said almost all the deaths had been caused by landslides in the Cordillera and Nueva Vizcaya regions, adding that reports from other areas were still coming in.

One person was killed by a falling tree in the province of Ilocos Sur, he said.

Almost all buildings in the city of Tuguegarao, Cagayan’s provincial capital, sustained damage, a government official said.

The Philippines is routinely hit during the typhoon season but the strength of Manghukt evoked memories of the deadliest storm on national record – Super Typhoon Haiyan – which killed more than 7,000 five years ago.


However, preparation and evacuation procedures have been improved since then – warnings were issued, travel was restricted, schools shut and the army was put on standby in advance.

Mangkhut is still strong as it heads west toward southern China with current sustained wind speeds of 90mph but fears it will re-strengthen into a super typhoon have receded.

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Many amazing places remain undiscovered for centuries. And you can find many of them in is the southern part of the Philippines, an archipelago full of treasures unknown to the world.

 

  1. Monkayo, Compostela, Davao del Norte, South Philippines

Monkayo is a vast agricultural land full of banana and rice. Mt. Diwata known as “Diwalwal” is a barangay in Monkayo, rich in gold ore deposits. According to the Philippine Bureau of Mines, gold in this area cannot be consumed even for a hundred years. It is 75 miles away from the city of Davao. Scenic attractions here are the Kumbilan Cave called Casoon. Its features are tunnel-like full of stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is also the home of snakes and fruit bats. To get there, you can easily rent a four-wheel drive vehicles from car rentals. Or if you have friends who have four-wheel drive vehicles, you can schedule a trip together so it will be less of a hassle on your part.

 

  1. Liguasan Marsh, Maguindanao, ARMM, South Philippines

The Liguasan Marsh stores an enormous natural reservoir of gas worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The American Engineers who conducted a test survey of the place estimated the value of oil to amount to $580 billion in its initial pumping.

Liguasan Marsh spans 220,000 hectares, which house a large variety of aquatic wildlife like three species of reptiles, 20 fish species, and 20 species of herons, waterfowl, ducks, and egrets. It is the only place where you can find the Comb-crested Jacana or Lotusbird (lily trotter bird), a very rare bird species.

The bird’s name is lily trotter because it walks on the water surface, leaping on water lilies or Lotus leaves. The wetlands or marsh is the last stronghold of the endangered Estuarine crocodile and is also the home of the Philippine Eagle, another endangered species.

 

  1. The Philippine Trench (Philippine Deep), Surigao, Caraga, South Philippines

The Philippine Deep (Philippine Trench) has a span of 1,320 kilometers, a width of about 30 kilometers, and a depth of 10,540 meters – the deepest point called the Galathea Deep. If Mt. Everest, which is 8,846 meters high, is submerged in the Philippine Trench, it would smoothly vanish in the trench.

Three miles deep of the Philippine Trench lies the world’s  largest deposits of Deuterium (2H or Heavy Hydrogen). The Hydrogen Isotopes can work as a non-polluting energy source.

The Trench with Deuterium deposits lies within 200-miles Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of southern Philippines by the International Sea Law. Therefore, to explore deuterium renders exclusivity to the Philippines.

 

  1. Sulu Sea, ARMM, South Philippines

The Sulu Sea is where the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, a World Heritage Site, is located. It includes small islands like the Turtle Islands. Billions of dollars of trade pass through this route every year.

It has been an international trade route of the world since the time of the Moors. The Moors were the first traders who came to Sulu centuries ago, and it is where the name Moro people was derived.

Some Japanese explorers made an initial survey in the Sulu Sea in the 1970s, and they discovered the area has large deposits of oil. Accordingly, the oil found in the Sulu Sea are the highest grade and supply could last for more than a hundred years.

 

Takeaway

The Southern Philippines has a lot of treasures and resources to offer to its peoples; the island abounds with wealth and riches. Although peace has become an issue in this part of the Philippine archipelago, there is still optimism that the current peace initiatives will succeed. No other country in Asia has this kind of enormous wealth, only the Philippines.

 

Author Bio
Williams A. Young is an expert mechanical engineer by profession but a camping and car enthusiast by heart. Despite of his hectic schedule, he always finds time to go to the woods and light a campfire. During his leisure time, he writes in behalf of Darwin4wdhire about the latest car models and its features and also about his recent camping experiences.

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Typhoon Nock-Ten is threatening the Philippines, as it heads towards the area around the heavily-populated capital Manila.

Civil defense officials have been put on “red alert”, as Nock-Ten is due to hit Manila on December 26.

The typhoon has weakened since making landfall on the eastern coast on December 25, but it still packs winds up to 87mph, meteorologists say.

Three people were reported killed in Albay province, south-east of Manila.

Nock-Ten (known as Nina in the Philippines)  has cut power lines and uprooted trees.

Manila’s civil defense office warned that the capital could be hit by “heavy to intense rains, flash floods and severe winds”.

Image source CNN

The coastguard has ordered beaches south of Manila to be cleared.

The storm hit the coast near Catanduanes Island on Christmas Day, knocking out power.

Hours later, local media reported that in Albay province a couple were swept away in a flash flood and an elderly man was killed by a collapsing wall.

About 100,000 people had been earlier moved from areas at risk in the Bicol region amid fears of widespread flooding and possible landslides.

There were fears Filipinos would ignore evacuation warnings to stay at home with family at Christmas, the biggest holiday in the largely Catholic nation.

Dozens of ports remain closed, with warnings of high waves.

Nock-Ten is expected to pass across the main island of Luzon, before heading into the South China Sea.

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Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte has revealed he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao.

It is the first such admission Rodrigo Duterte has made since becoming president in June, but echoes comments he made in 2015.

Rodrigo Duterte ran Davao for two decades, earning a reputation for cutting crime, and criticism for allegedly supporting death squads.

He was speaking to business leaders at the presidential palace on December 12, before an overseas trip.

It is the latest in a series of controversial comments by Filipino president.Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

Rodrigo Duterte said during the meeting: “In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police] that if I can do it why can’t you.

“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”

In 2015, he admitted killing at least three men suspected of kidnapping and rape in Davao.

Rodrigo Duterte’s comments have been condemned by human rights group Amnesty International, which has called on him to put an immediate end to the killings.

Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International director for South East Asia and the Pacific said: “The climate of impunity in the Philippines has intensified even further since President Duterte began his brutal crackdown on suspected drug users and dealers in July, with a wave of unlawful killings claiming more than 5,000 lives across the country.

“By boasting about the blood on his own hands, President Duterte will further embolden police and vigilantes to blatantly violate laws and carry out more extrajudicial executions without fear of being held to account.”

Just hours before Rodrigo Duterte’s latest remarks, he insisted “I am not a killer”, in a speech for The Outstanding Filipino Awards 2016. He has also previously both acknowledged and denied being involved with death squads.

In September a Senate inquiry heard testimony from a self-confessed former death squad member that Rodrigo Duterte had, while serving as Davao mayor, shot dead a justice department agent with an Uzi submachine gun.

Nearly 6,000 people are said to have been killed by police, vigilantes and mercenaries since Rodrigo Duterte launched his drug war after being elected in May.

Rodrigo Duterte has expressed few regrets about the policy, once saying: “Hitler massacred three million Jews… There’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

Some human rights lawyers believe Rodrigo Duterte’s open support for a shoot-to-kill policy by the police could make him vulnerable to prosecution for crimes against humanity at the international court.

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Super Typhoon Haima hit the Philippines killing at least four people in the north of the country.

Haima, which brought sustained winds of up to 140mph, made landfall over the northern province of Cagayan on October 19.

Nearly 100,000 people were evacuated from threatened areas as Typhoon Haima approached.

Image source University of Colorado

Image source University of Colorado

There was widespread damage overnight, with homes destroyed and power lines brought down.

According to Filipino authorities, two of those killed were buried in a landslide, and two others buried in a shanty town in a mountainous region.

Experts had feared the storm could prove as destructive as the catastrophic super typhoon Haiyan, which claimed more than 7,350 lives in 2013.

The Philippines endures around 20 major storms every year, many of them deadly.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who was in Beijing on a state visit, had said he prayed the Philippines would be spared but that they were “ready”.

“We only pray we be spared the destruction such as previous times. Everything has been deployed.”

Haima was upgraded to a super typhoon just before it hit in Penablanca, a town in Cagayan province, around 23:00 local time on October 19.

On October 20, there were reports of damage across a wide area.

Haima, known as Lawin locally, had a weather band 500 miles wide, and authorities had warned the public to expect fierce winds and storm surges up to 16 feet or higher.

It is the second typhoon to hit the Philippines in a week, after Sarika struck on October 16. At least one person was killed in that storm, and three people are still missing.

Typhoon Haima is now moving out across the South China Sea towards Hong Kong and southern China.

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President Rodrigo Duterte has compared the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign to the Holocaust, saying he would kill as many addicts as Hitler did Jews.

The Filipino president said: “Hitler massacred three million Jews… there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

At least six million Jews as well as other minorities are known to have been killed by the Nazis.

Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a bloody crackdown on drug users and dealers since taking office in June.

According to official figures, more than 3,000 people have been killed in police operations or by vigilantes.

The bodies of those killed are often left out in public, with signs listing the crimes they were accused of.

Rodrigo Duterte has openly said he would “kill 100,000 criminals” to reduce crime in the Philippines.Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

He was speaking in Davao, the city where as mayor he implemented a tough anti-crime policy and was accused of sanctioning death squads to kill criminals.

Rodrigo Duterte told reporters he had been “portrayed to be some cousin of Hitler” as he lashed out critics who he said were accusing him of genocide.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews, now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said.

According to local news website Rappler, the most recent figures in the Philippines – released earlier in the week – suggests the number of drug users in the country is closer to 1.8 million, just 1.8% of the overall population.

Rodrigo Duterte’s rambling speech continued: “At least if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…” – at which point he is reported to have pointed to himself.

His comments were criticized as “outrageous” by Jewish groups, Reuters reports.

“Duterte owes the [Holocaust] victims an apology for his disgusting rhetoric,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The US-based Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League said the comments were “inappropriate and deeply offensive”.

“It is baffling why any leader would want to model himself after such a monster,” said communications director Todd Gutnick.

Rodrigo Duterte also used the speech to once again accuse the West of hypocrisy over their criticism of his brutal crackdown.

“You US, EU. You can call me anything. But I was never into… hypocrisy like you,” he said.

“There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you’re worried about the death of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?”

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Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte launched a fierce attack on the European Union after it condemned his brutal crackdown on crime.

Rodrigo Duterte said the EU parliament was acting out of guilt after it called on him to halt “the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings”.

The president said “hypocritical” former colonial powers like France and Britain were trying to atone for their own sins.

Since Rodrigo Duterte took office at the end of June about 3,000 people have been killed.

They have been killed either by police or vigilantes, after Rodrigo Duterte effectively sanctioned the murder of criminals and drugs dealers.

The killings have been widely condemned internationally.Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

The European Parliament said it was concerned about the “extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations… in the context of an intensified anti-crime and anti-drug campaign”, and asked Rodrigo Duterte to launch an “immediate” investigation.

Rodrigo Duterte, 71, hit back angrily, saying the European Parliament’s colonial-era ancestors killed “thousands” of Arabs and other peoples.

“They’re taking the high ground to assuage their feelings of guilt. But who did I kill?

“Assuming it to be true – 1,700, who are they? Criminals. You call that genocide,” he told officials in Davao.

“Now the EU has the gall to condemn me.”

The president also swore repeatedly during the outburst, and raised his middle finger in a gesture of defiance.

Rodrigo Duterte said on September 18 he needed to extend his crime war for another six months because the drug problem was worse than he expected, adding on September 20 that he would shield police and soldiers from prosecution.

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According to a former death squad member, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the murder of political opponents while mayor of Davao.

During a Senate hearing, Edgar Matobato revealed he and others killed about 1,000 people over a 25-year period.

Edgar Matobato, 57, gave gruesome details of gangland-style hits, including feeding one victim to a crocodile.

Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman rejected the allegations, saying investigations into his time as mayor had gone nowhere.Digong Duterte wins Philippines presidency

Edgar Matobato said he was a member of the Davao Death Squad, a notorious vigilante group allegedly responsible for hundreds of killings.

He said: “Our job was to kill criminals like drug pushers, rapists, snatchers.”

Edgar Matobato also claimed that Rodrigo Duterte’s opponents were targeted too, including four bodyguards of a local rival for mayor, Prospero Nograles.

Victims would be shot or strangled, he said, with some disemboweled and dumped into the sea so fish could eat them.

He told the Senate panel he went from a witness protection program into hiding when Rodrigo Duterte became president, fearing for his life.

Edgar Matobato also alleged Rodrigo Duterte ordered the bombing of a mosque in retaliation for an attack on Davao Cathedral in 1993.

On this claim Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Martin Andanar, said: “I don’t think he is capable of giving those orders.”

Martin Andanar said the country’s Commission on Human Rights had failed to even prove the existence of the Davao Death Squad.

Prospero Nograles’ son Karlo, a Davao city representative, denied Eduardo Matobato’s account relating to his father’s bodyguards.

“I don’t know what this guy is talking about.

“I can only suspect that this guy is being manipulated by some people to only serve their own selfish interests,” Karlo Nograles wrote on Facebook.

The woman leading the Senate inquiry into extra-judicial killings, Leila de Lima, is a strong critic of Rodrigo Duterte and has been accused by him of having links to the illegal drug trade, something she denies.

Rodrigo Duterte became mayor of Davao in 1988, and his tough stance saw crime rates plummet, an approach he has vowed to replicate at national level.

Since his election this year more than 3,000 drug users and dealers have been killed amid international alarm over human rights violations.

Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed concerns over his drugs policies, calling UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “a fool” and insulting President Barack Obama as, something he later said he regretted.

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President Barack Obama has called off a meeting with controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had insulted him earlier.

Rodrigo Duterte was responding to Barack Obama’s promise to raise the issue of drug-related extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at their meeting.

The Filipino leader is known for his colorful language, though this time it has had a diplomatic impact, correspondents say.

Rodrigo Duterte has now said he regrets the remark.

A statement by his office said: “While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president.”Rodrigo Duterte Barack Obama

Rodrigo Duterte and Barack Obama are among leaders gathering for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Laos.

Barack Obama, who flew to Laos after attending the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, China, had been set to raise concerns about human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Speaking in Manila on September 5 before he left for Laos, Rodrigo Duterte bristled at the suggestion, saying it was “rude” and cursing the US president: “Putang ina (son of a whore) I will swear at you in that forum.”

Rodrigo Duterte added: “We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”

The Filipino leader then referred to the anti-drugs campaign that has led to the killing of 2,400 suspected drug dealers and users in the Philippines since he took office in June: “The campaign against drugs will continue. Many will die, plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets….until the [last] drug manufacturer is killed we will continue.”

Barack Obama initially appeared to play down the insult saying that he had asked his aides to work out if this is “a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations”.

His aides later canceled the talks.

Barack Obama’s last scheduled trip to Asia as president has not been without incident: he was also caught up in a protocol row with hosts China over his arrival in Hangzhou.

This is not the first time President Rodrigo Duterte has used such a language against prominent figures.

He has also insulted Pope Francis, the US ambassador to Philippines and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Correspondents say that such colorful talk plays well with the domestic audience, but it could cost Rodrigo Duterte on the international stage.

The UN has repeatedly condemned Rodrigo Duterte’s policies as a violation of human rights.

In August, two UN human rights experts said Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for police and the public to kill suspected drug traffickers amounted to “incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law”.

This round of ASEAN talks comes against the backdrop of tensions over China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea – the Philippines and the US are key players in that debate.

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According to the Filipino government, the Abu Sayyaf militant group was responsible for a bomb attack in Davao, the home city of newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte.

At least 14 people were killed and other 60 wounded in the bomb attack at a market in the southern city of Davao, the government has said.

Rodrigo Duterte – who was in Davao at the time of the attack but was not near the market – has declared a “state of lawlessness” following the explosion.

This allows troops to be based in cities to assist the police.

National Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that Abu Sayyaf wanted to retaliate after suffering heavy casualties on its stronghold of Jolo island about 550 miles from Davao.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

“We have predicted this – and warned our troops accordingly,” Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.

A presidential spokesman said investigators had found shrapnel from a mortar-based improvised explosive device (IED) at the scene.

The explosion took place in an area frequently visited by Rodrigo Duterte.

The president said the Philippines was going through “extraordinary times” which was why he had decided to allow the security forces to conduct searches previously done solely by the police.

In the aftermath of the explosion there were conflicting claims as to who may have carried it out.

Mindanao police director Manuel Gaerlan was reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as putting forward a theory that “disgruntled vendors” upset over the awarding of stalls in the market were responsible.

The government for their part initially said they were considering the possibility that drug syndicates were behind the blast before concluding that Abu Sayyaf were to blame.

A spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf was reported to have claimed responsibility soon after the attack.

However, the Inquirer quoted a senior Abu Sayyaf leader as saying it was in fact carried out by “an allied group”.

The region has been under a heightened security alert in recent weeks because of a military offensive against Abu Sayyaf.

Davao is the biggest city in the southern Philippines and has a population of about two million people. It is about 1,000 miles from the capital Manila.

A bomb attack in Davao, the home city of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, has killed at least 12 people.

At least 60 people more were wounded in the explosion at a packed market.

According to a presidential spokesman, investigators had found shrapnel from a mortar-based improvised explosive device (IED) at the scene.

Police in Manila are on high alert following the deadly blast.Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

The explosion took place outside the Marco Polo hotel in an area frequently visited by Rodrigo Duterte, who was in Davao at the time but was not hurt.

Footages released show broken glass and plastic chairs scattered at the scene, which has since been cordoned off by police bomb experts and investigators.

Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, the president’s eldest son, issued a statement on Facebook in which he said it was too soon to determine who was behind the attack, but insisted that “authorities are on top of this incident”.

Regional police Chief Manuel Guerlan said a ring of checkpoints had been placed around the city’s exit points.

The region has been under a heightened security alert in recent weeks because of a military offensive against Abu Sayyaf, a jihadist group.

On August 29, at least 12 soldiers from the Philippines were killed during heavy fighting with militants in what was the deadliest day for Philippine troops since President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May.

Rodrigo Duterte’s election has prompted a spike in drug-related killings, with more than 2,000 deaths since he took office on June 30, nearly half of them in police operations.

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Typhoon Koppu hit the northern Philippines killing at least two people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

Heavy rain and floods are affecting dozens of villages.

Troops have been deployed to help residents trapped on rooftops, but are struggling to access more remote areas.

Koppu has now been downgraded to a severe tropical storm by the Japanese Meteorological Agency, which is responsible for naming and tracking it.

However, the Philippines’ own weather agency, which calls the weather system Lando, is still characterizing Koppu as a typhoon.

Despite weakening, Koppu is expected to keep dumping rain on the country for a considerable time to come. Some forecasts suggest it may not be until October 21 that it moves past the Philippines and on to Taiwan.Typhoon Koppu Philippines floods

Typhoon Koppu made landfall near the town of Casiguran on the main island of Luzon on October 18, bringing winds of close to 124mph and cutting power to vast areas.

A teenager was killed by a fallen tree in Manila which also injured four others. A concrete wall also collapsed in the town of Subic, northwest of Manila, killing a 62-year-old woman, officials said.

On October 19, wind speeds were down to 93 mph in the northern town of Santiago, according to the state weather service.

However, floodwaters are preventing even military vehicles reaching many of the worst-hit villages, and rescuers report a shortage of boats.

“We haven’t reached many areas. About 60% to 70% of our town is flooded, some as deep as three meters,” said Henry Velarde, vice mayor of Jaen, a town in Nueva Ecija province.

“There are about 20,000 residents in isolated areas that need food and water.”

While the Philippines is no stranger to typhoons and tropical storms, the slow-moving nature of Koppu means heavy rain will fall for longer than usual, bringing greater risk of flooding and landslides.

Typhoon Koppu is the second strongest storm to hit the Philippines in 2015.

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The Philippines is preparing for Typhoon Koppu that is forecast to dump heavy rain and cause severe flooding when it arrives at the weekend.

On October 16, President Benigno Aquino warned people living in the path of Typhoon Koppu to be ready to evacuate.

In a TV address, Benigno Aquino said the storm could bring up to 12 hours’ torrential rain and cause severe flooding.

It was Benigno Aquino’s first such appeal since Typhoon Haiyan struck in 2013, leaving more than 6,000 people dead.

Typhoon Koppu is due to hit the northern island of Luzon early on October 17.Typhoon Koppy Philippines

Forecasters say it is packing winds of up to 115mph and is slow moving, meaning it could bring intense rain over a long period of time.

In his address, Benigno Aquino urged the estimated six million people in the typhoon’s direct path to listen to government warnings and be ready to evacuate their homes if necessary.

He said aid agencies had already distributed emergency supplies to evacuation centers.

The state weather service warned residents on the east coast of Luzon to be ready for possible storm surges of more than 6ft.

Meanwhile, the Philippine military in northern Luzon has been placed on alert for disaster operations.

Typhoon Koppu, also known as Lando, is not due to leave the Philippines until October 20, when it will be heading towards Taiwan.

In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan – the strongest storm ever recorded on land – swept into the Philippines, destroying entire towns and leaving more than 6,300 people dead and more than 1,000 missing.

Two Canadian tourists, a Norwegian hotel manager and a Filipino woman have been kidnapped from a resort in the southern Philippines, the military has said.

An army spokesman said the abductees were taken by gunmen late on September 21 from the Holiday Oceanview resort on Samal Island, near Davao City on Mindanao.

The attackers, who have not been identified by police, left by boat, Capt. Alberto Caber told reporters.

He said it appeared the four were targeted rather than taken at random.

Since the 1990s the southern Philippines has seen sporadic incidents of kidnapping by Muslim militant groups, who hold hostages for ransom.

Philippine authorities have named the Canadians as John Ridsel and Robert Hall.Tourists kidnapped in Philippines

The Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, was said to be the manager of the resort.

The Filipino woman has not been identified, but she is said to be the partner of one of the kidnapped Canadians.

Authorities also said two Japanese tourists had tried to intervene to prevent the kidnapping, which took place shortly before midnight.

The Associated Press quoted Capt. Alberto Caber as saying a naval blockade was being set up around the island to stop kidnappers from reaching another island in the southwest known to house militant strongholds.

Philippine authorities signed a peace agreement with the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 2014, but continue to battle smaller groups in the south.

The region where Samal is located has been largely peaceful in recent years. The last related incident on Samal took place in 2001 when Islamist separatist group Abu Sayyaf attempted to kidnap tourists at another resort.

The group is holding a number of foreign hostages in various remote camps.

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Chris Brown’s promoter John Michael Pio Roda has denied claims he defrauded an influential religious sect in the Philippines.

John Michael Pio Roda denied receiving over $1 million from the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) for a December 31 concert hosted by the sect for which Chris Brown failed to show up.

The promoter has been held at the capital’s Bureau of Immigration detention facility for nearly two weeks.

His legal counsel described his arrest as “Gestapo-like”.

Photo Instagram

Photo Instagram

Chris Brown failed to attend the show in question due to a lost passport.

Iglesia-linked local concert producers Maligaya Development Corp. have asked the justice department to file criminal fraud charges against Chris Brown and John Michael Pio Roda, saying they had been advanced their million-dollar fee.

John Michael Pio Roda’s lawyers said in a statement: “To hold Mr. Pio Roda accountable for the entire one million dollars… is not only without legal or factual basis but is a travesty of justice and a continued violation of human rights.”

They said John Michael Pio Roda, in fact, received $45,000 and that he and Chris Brown received another $578,750 in advance from another company.

Chris Brown was stopped from leaving the Philippines by the immigration bureau for three days in July over the row, having returned to play another show.

Although Chris Brown was later allowed to the leave the country, the fraud complaint hearings against the singer will proceed.

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One Direction’s Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson have to post a cash bond to prevent using, or promoting, illegal drugs in Manila.

Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson have been asked to post bonds of 200,000 ($4,450) pesos each for a special work permit, ahead of two concerts in the Philippine capital this weekend.

Local immigration said the bond was intended “to protect public interest”.

It follows a video leaked last May in which Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson were shown allegedly smoking cannabis in Peru.

Elaine Tan, of the Philippine Bureau of Immigration, said the band would be prevented from performing if producers fail to post the cash bond before the concert.

The amount includes an additional processing fee of 20,000 pesos.One Direction’s Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson forced to pay Philippines drug bond

“The condition is intended to protect the public interest should the band members commit any violation during their stay in the Philippines,” said Elaine Tan.

It is understood a concert producer went to the Immigration Bureau on March 18 to post the bonds, said Christine Ching, a spokeswoman of Anti-Drugs Advocate.

One Direction has also called on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to send officers to monitor the band.

“We want to see their pure, raw, untainted talent,” said Christine Ching, adding that there was concern about the popular band’s influence on Filipino youth.

She said the group had met with concert producers, and they had agreed to allow government drug agencies and advocate groups to monitor band members.

One Direction is due to play at the seaside Mall of Asia Concert Grounds on March 21 and 22.

After the leak emerged last year, One Direction’s Liam Payne – who was not seen in the video – tweeted an apology: “I love my boys and maybe things have gone a little sideways. I apologize for that.”

“We are only in our 20s and we all do stupid things at this age,” Liam Payne wrote.

[youtube zCdai6LUeY4 650]

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The Philippine government is facing calls for an inquiry after it admitted relocating homeless people temporarily during Pope Francis’ visit.

Social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman said that nearly 500 people were taken from the streets of Manila to an upscale resort in the outskirts.

House of Representatives member Terry Ridon called for an inquiry, saying the move was a “clearing operation”.

Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines last week and left on January 19.

Terry Ridon said the government relocation scheme was “truly horrendous, given the fact that Pope Francis visited our country to – first and foremost – see and talk to the poor.”

According to the Philippine Star, he plans to summon Corazon Soliman to explain her agency’s actions before lawmakers.

Corazon Soliman said in interviews this week that the homeless families were removed shortly before the pontiff arrived on January 15.

Photo EPA

Photo EPA

Many of them lived along the Manila Bay seafront, the venue for January 18 mass which drew a record crowd of six million.

On January 14, they were taken to the Chateau Royale resort, which charges hundreds of dollars for a room per night, and returned to the capital on Monday after Pope Francis had left.

The families are now temporarily residing at government facilities in Manila, Corazon Soliman said.

She defended the move as an effort to protect them from large crowds and crime syndicates during the Pope’s visit, adding that it was part of a scheme to eventually move them to rent-free temporary accommodation.

“Part of the orientation is to familiarize themselves with a room with a door and toilets,” Corazon Soliman told the AFP news agency.

She insisted it was “not for keeping them out of sight”, and said the Pope saw shanties and homeless people during his trip.

The controversy comes after reports that street children had been rounded up and put into cages in detention centers, which the government has denied.

Pope Francis had made poverty one of the central themes to his visit, calling for mercy and compassion for the poor and meeting and hugging street children.

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Millions of people are expected to attend an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the Philippine capital Manila.

An estimated three million people had already gathered at Rizal Park two hours before the Mass began.

Twenty years ago, more than five million people attended a Mass celebrated here by Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican said Pope Francis would dedicate the service in part to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the country in 2013.

The Mass will be Pope Francis’ final full day in the Philippines, where there are 80 million Catholics, concluding his six-day tour of Asia.

Pope Francis arrived in a “popemobile” based on the design of the local minibuses, known as jeepneys.

Crowds sang and cheered as the pontiff stopped at various points to greet worshippers.

Some people had camped outside the park overnight to be the first ones admitted when the gates opened early on Sunday morning.Pope Francis Manila Mass

Before the final mass, Pope Francis held morning meetings with religious leaders and young people at the University of Santo Tomas which is the biggest Catholic university in Asia.

Pope Francis opened his meeting with over 20,000 students by remembering the 27-year-old woman who had died during his visit to Tacloban on January 17.

Earlier, police had reported that she had been killed when scaffolding collapsed after Saturday’s Mass.

The Pope then listened to several children speak about their experiences of growing up on the streets.

One of the children, 12-year-old Glyzelle Palomar, wept as she told her story and asked why God had allowed it to happen.

A visibly moved Pope Francis replied: “Only when we are able to cry are we able to come close to responding to your question.”

He added that the world needed to learn how to cry with those in need.

“Those on the margins cry. Those who have fallen by the wayside cry. Those who are discarded cry. But those who are living a life that is more or less without need, we don’t know how to cry,” he said.

Pope Francis, who comes from Argentina, was applauded when he told students that sometimes men were too macho, and that women had much to tell today’s society, seeing the world through different eyes, and asking different questions.

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Pope Francis has arrived in typhoon-hit city of Tacloban in the Philippines to hold an open-air Mass.

Tacloban was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan just over a year ago.

Tens of thousands braved pouring rain and strong winds brought by Tropical Storm Mekkhala to attend the Mass.

Pope Francis was due to meet survivors of the typhoon after the mass but the storm forced the pontiff to cut short his visit.

The Pope said as soon as he saw the catastrophe caused by the typhoon, he had decided to go to the Philippines.

Pope Francis is visiting the Philippines, where there are 80 million Catholics, as part of a six-day tour of Asia.

Typhoon Haiyan, which remains the strongest storm ever recorded on land, created a 23ft high storm surge, destroying practically everything in its path when it swept ashore on November 8, 2013.

Around 90% of the city of Tacloban in Leyte province was destroyed and more than 14.5 million people were affected in six regions and 44 provinces. About one million people remain homeless.

Pope Francis was due to have lunch with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan later on Saturday but he left Tacloban four hours early because of the approaching storm and returned to Manila.

Earlier, he apologized to the crowds gathered at the main cathedral in Leyte province and said: “I am sad about this, truly saddened, because I had something prepared especially for you.”Pope Francis in Tacloban

The Pope said his pilots had told him that the weather was going to get worse.

“We barely have time to get to the aeroplane,” he said.

Tropical Storm Mekkhala, with winds of up to 80 mph, forced the suspension of ferry services to Leyte and stranded thousands of travelers, according to the Associated Press news agency.

One woman was killed after the mass, when scaffolding near the stage collapsed, local media report.

The storm is forecast to hit the shore of nearby Samar Island later on Saturday.

During the Mass in Spanish, with a translation into English, Pope Francis spoke of the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan on people in Tacloban.

He told the faithful that “so many of you in Tacloban have lost everything. I don’t know what to say – but the Lord does… He underwent so many of the trials that you do”.

A national holiday has been declared in Manila for the duration of Pope Francis’ visit.

Security is very tight, with tens of thousands of soldiers and police deployed, after failed attempts to kill two previous popes in the Philippines.

The centerpiece of Pope Francis’ visit will be an open-air Mass in Manila on January 18, which is expected to attract millions.

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Pope Francis has defended freedom of speech but also stressed its limits following last week’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The pontiff said religions had to be treated with respect, so that people’s faith was not insulted or ridiculed.

To illustrate his point, Pope Francis told journalists that his assistant could expect a punch if he cursed his mother.

The remarks came as funerals were held for four people killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack by militant Islamists.

Friends and family paid last respects to cartoonists Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, and Georges Wolinski, as well as columnist Elsa Cayat and policeman Franck Brinsolaro.Pope Francis on freedom of speech

Eight magazine staff, a visitor to the magazine, a caretaker and two policemen died in the last week’s attack. A policewoman and four people at a kosher supermarket died in separate attacks.

Al-Qaeda said it had directed the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Charlie Hebdo was targeted for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. It printed another cartoon of the Prophet on its front page after the attacks, angering some Muslims who say all depictions of the Prophet should be forbidden.

France has deployed thousands of troops and police to boost security in the wake of last week’s attacks. There have been retaliatory attacks against Muslim sites around France.

Speaking to journalists flying with him to the Philippines, Pope Francis said last week’s attacks were an “aberration”, and such horrific violence in God’s name could not be justified.

He staunchly defended freedom of expression, but then he said there were limits, especially when people mocked religion.

“If my good friend Doctor Gasparri [who organizes the Pope’s trips] speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched,” he said, throwing a pretend punch at the doctor, who was standing beside him.

“You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit.”

In a separate development, the government announced that a Malian employee of the Jewish supermarket that was attacked would be given French citizenship.

Some 300,000 people signed an online petition calling for the move after the Muslim employee, Lassana Bathily, hid several customers from gunman Amedy Coulibaly in a cold store.

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Pope Francis has lost his papal hat as he arrived in windy Manila, the Philippines, on January 15.

The Pope was beginning his five-day visit to the nation’s 80 million Roman Catholics.Pope Francis loses papal hat in Manila

Huge crowds were gathered for the pontiff’s arrival, and are expected at each stage of the tour which will include a Mass in the capital and a visit to typhoon-hit Tacloban.

Pope Francis is the fourth pontiff to visit the Philippines.

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Hundreds of thousands of cheering people who waited several hours in steaming heat have greeted Pope Francis at his arrival in the Philippines.

People lined the streets of the capital Manila to glimpse his motorcade.

Millions more are expected to come out to see him over his five-day visit to the nation’s 80 million Catholics.

Pope Francis said that a priority of his visit would be to send a message to the poor who face “social, spiritual and existential” injustices.

“The central nut of the message will be the poor, the poor who want to go forward, the poor who suffered from Typhoon Haiyan and are continuing to suffer the consequences,” the pontiff said while travelling to the Philippines from Sri Lanka.

Typhoon Haiyan killed or left missing more than 7,300 people, razing villages to the ground in the centre of the Philippines in 2013.

Leyte province was especially badly affected, and it is there where Pope Francis will seek to console survivors on January 17.

The Pope said that also prominent in his mind were some Filipino workers at the Vatican who had left their families for jobs overseas.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of labor – it is estimated that about a tenth of the population has left the country in search of work – and reports of their abuse and exploitation are commonplace.

President Benigno Aquino has also spoken of his determination to eradicate poverty, although he has been at loggerheads with the local Roman Catholic Church over a 2012 reproductive health law that promotes artificial birth control.

After leaving the airport, Pope Francis boarded an open-sided Popemobile to travel the 7 mile route to the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila, where he is staying.

The highlight of Pope Francis’ visit will be a huge open-air Mass in Manila on January 18 and a visit to Tacloban to meet survivors of a devastating typhoon in November 2013.

Security will be tight after failed attempts to kill two previous popes.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and police have been deployed.

Pope Francis is the fourth pontiff to visit the Philippines – 80% of its 100 million people are Catholic.

A three-day public holiday has been declared in Manila to clear the traffic.

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Hagupit has been downgraded from a typhoon to a tropical storm after crossing the Philippines heading to capital Manila.

At least 21 people were killed by the storm, the Red Cross said, with the eastern island of Samar worst hit, but it caused far less damage than feared.

Thousands of people are heading home after about a million people were evacuated from vulnerable areas.

The city of Tacloban, which bore the brunt of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, has emerged relatively unscathed.

In Manila, residents are preparing for heavy rain and strong winds.

Typhoon Hagupit is still travelling westwards across the Philippines, and has weakened into a tropical storm, according to the Philippine meteorological authorities.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

A government alert on Monday morning stated that residents of the capital and surrounding regions should expect winds of up to 62mph in the next 24 hours, and to prepare for possible flash floods, landslides, and storm surges of up to 6 ft.

Thousands who live along the coast and riverbanks were evacuated on December 8, reports said. A total of 11.8 million people live in the national capital region.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said the city was “prepared and trained for this”, but added: “It’s the flooding that we are worried about.”

Financial markets in the Philippines would be closed on Monday, December 8, statements from the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Bankers Association of the Philippines said. Schools were closed, commercial flights were cancelled and civil servants told to stay at home.

Correspondents say Hagupit has been nowhere near as powerful as Typhoon Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – which tore through the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,000 dead or missing.

In Tacloban, Hagupit blew away roofs and flooded streets, but the area has escaped the wider devastation of last year.

Known locally as Typhoon Ruby, Hagupit has nonetheless caused major damage in several towns on the east coast of the Philippines.

The Philippine Red Cross said at least 21 people had died over the weekend, with 18 of those on the eastern island of Samar, where Hagupit made landfall on December 6 with winds up to 130 mph.

The mayor of Dolores, a town on Samar, said that 80% of homes there had been destroyed. One resident reportedly died after a tree fell on him.

Two more people – a one-year-old girl and a 65-year-old man – died from hypothermia in the central province of Iloilo, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

A total of 183 flights had been cancelled and five airports closed, the agency said, and there were power outages in 16 provinces.

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Typhoon Hagupit has hit the eastern Philippines, toppling trees and power lines and threatening coastal areas with a powerful sea-surge.

More than half a million people have fled coastal villages in the area, which was still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan last year.

In Tacloban, where thousands were killed by Haiyan, roofs have been blown away and streets are flooded.

However, thyphoon Hagupit does not appear to have been as severe as many had feared.

So far there have been no reports of casualties.

Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, was packing maximum sustained winds of 109mph and gusts of 130 mph when it made landfall in Dolores in Eastern Samar province on Saturday evening local time.Typhoon Hagupit Philippines

Dolores police spokesman Alex Robin told AP news agency late on Saturday that many trees had already come down.

“We are totally in the dark here. The only light comes from flashlights.”

Maulid Warfa, the head of UNICEF’s field office in Tacloban, said their five-storey concrete building was shaking under the force of the storm.

Speaking early on Sunday he said: “We’re in this dark building and it’s raining heavily and there’s no electricity and we are using candles.

“We have a generator… but because of the rain and the flood and power problems we have switched it off. It’s too dangerous.”

Maulid Warfa added: “Our concern now is not us sitting in this building. Our concern is for the little children who have had to go through this experience for the second time in 13 months.”

About 19,000 people from coastal villages are in 26 evacuation centers, Tacloban’s disaster office spokesman Ilderando Bernadas told Reuters.

Typhoon Hagupit’s huge diameter of 370 miles meant that about 50 million people, or half the nation’s population, were living in vulnerable areas, officials have said.

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More than 500,000 people have evacuated their homes as typhoon Hagupit approaches the Philippines.

Typhoon Hagupit, which weakened slightly on Friday night, is due to make landfall on Saturday evening.

It is on course for the Eastern and Northern Samar provinces and the city of Tacloban, where thousands were killed by Typhoon Haiyan a year ago.

It has weakened slightly but gusts are still peaking at 120mph.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded after Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled more than 150 flights to the central and southern Philippines on December 5 and December 6, and sea travel services were suspended.

President Benigno Aquino, who met disaster agency chiefs on Friday afternoon, has ordered food supplies to be sent to affected areas as well as troops and police to be deployed to prevent looting in the aftermath.Typhoon Hagupit Philippines evacuations

Local media reported Benigno Aquino as saying there was “no indication” for now that Hagupit, would be as strong as Haiyan.

Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – was the most powerful typhoon ever recorded over land. It tore through the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,000 dead or missing.

Typhoon Hagupit’s huge diameter of 370 miles meant that about 50 million people, or half the nation’s population, were living in vulnerable areas, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told AFP news agency.

The latest update from Philippine weather authorities said that Hagupit, which means “smash” in Filipino, had weakened slightly, though it still had powerful gusts.

On Saturday it was churning towards eastern coasts with its eye 145 miles north-east of Borongan, in Eastern Samar province.

Residents of Eastern Samar reported rain was falling and power was fluctuating.

It could bring storm surges up to one storey high, as well as heavy rain and the risk of landslides, officials have warned.

Schools and government offices are closed in some areas and there were long queues at shops and petrol stations as people stocked up on supplies.

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