MILF returns weapons, Binay allies, Tubbataha damage | The wRap

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MILF RETURNS 16 SAF WEAPONS
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF on Wednesday returns 16 firearms seized from the police Special Action Force or SAF.
A police report says a total of 63 firearms were lost during the Mamasapano operation last January 25.
Government peace panel head Miriam Coronel Ferrer says the firearms returned by the MILF were verified as SAF firearms.
But Senator Ralph Recto says the arms are not enough.
He asks the MILF to return personal items such as cellphones and wedding rings saying it would be important to the loved ones of the fallen cops.
On Wednesday, families of the SAF 44 gather in Camp Crame to meet police and government officials to discuss compensation packages.
President Benigno Aquino makes a surprise visit a little before 6 in the evening and speaks with the families.
The MILF and the Philippine government signed a peace framework in 2014 that is now threatened by the Mamasapano clash.
The situation in the region is so volatile. 
Sporadic fire fights between the rebels and its breakaway group - the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF - has been ongoing for a week.
The BIFF also threatens to step up attacks in North Cotabato and target the provincial capitol. 
The BIFF also seized some of the SAF’s weapons, but says it has no plans of returning the firearms.

BINAY ALLY ‘MAKING EXCUSES,’ WON’T OPEN BOOKS
Allies of Vice President Jejomar Binay face the Senate Wednesday.
Senator Serge Osmeña rejects the explanation of officials from property development group Alphaland on its deal with the Boy Scouts of the Philippines or BSP from which Vice President Jejomar Binay allegedly got as much as P651 million for his 2010 campaign funds.
Binay’s ally-turned-rival former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado accuses Alphaland president Mario Oreta of using his company, Noble Care Management Corporation, to hide Binay’s 5% kickback.
Senators say Oreta can be held liable for money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud.

ALAN CAYETANO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Luging, luging, luging, lugi ang Boy Scout!

(The Boy Scouts were so shortchanged!)

Alphaland’s chief executive officer Roberto Ongpin tells the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee the 5% alleged to be Binay’s kickback was actually compensation for Oreta.

SERGIO OSMENA III, PHILIPPINE SENATOR:Mr. Ongpin, don’t give us this song and dance. If I want to raise money and I own Ayala, and I issue new stock, I will sell it at the market rate. I’m not gonna sell it at par value.

ROBERTO ONGPIN, CEO, ALPHALAND CORPORATION: We state without any hesitation, that the Makati place project is one of the best investments ever made by the Boy Scouts. Mr. Mercado should be congratulated for having a very skillfully negotiated a very good deal for the Boy Scouts.

Boy Scouts of the Philippines senior vice president Wendel Avisado also refutes Mercado’s accusations.

WENDEL AVISADO, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, BOY SCOUTS OF THE PHILIPPINES: We will not allow politics and personal vendetta to destroy the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. Vice President Binay is not the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines is not Vice President Binay. 

US PAYS PHILIPPINES P87M FOR TUBBATAHA DAMAGE
The United States pays the Philippines P87.03 million or $1.97 million for damages the USS Guardian inflicted on Tubbataha Reef.
The Philippines' Foreign Affairs Department or DFA says the US paid the amount January 20, which will be used for the rehabilitation of Tubbataha Reef Natural Park.
DFA adds, the US government is providing additional assistance to the Philippine Coast Guard to upgrade its substation in the area.
On January 17, 2013 the USS Guardian destroyed 2,345.67 square meters of coral reef when it ran aground on the world-famous marine park and protected area in Palawan province.

PABLO NERUDA'S REMAINS TO HEAD HOME AFTER 'POISON' PROBE
Chilean authorities ordered the return of the remains of poet Pablo Neruda, after being exhumed for investigation.
Officials said the leftist author died of prostate cancer in 1973... 12 days after the military coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power.
But Neruda's driver claimed he was poisoned on the orders of Pinochet. The investigation continues to this day.
Some 3,200 people died and 38,000 were tortured under Pinochet's dictatorship from 1973-1990.

CLOSE CALL: STAR WHIZZED SOLAR SYSTEM BY LESS THAN A LIGHT YEAR
Astronomers discover a star that zoomed past our solar system 70,000 years ago at a distance of 8 trillion kilometers, or 5 trillion miles.
By the standards of outer space, no other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close.
Astronomers say the dim star probably passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, known as the Oort Cloud.
The star is now 20 light years away.

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