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121 migrants complete quarantine in island

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A total 87 of the migrants were ferried to Zamboanga City port to go home.

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The 121 returning Filipino migrants have completed the 21-day quarantine for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Sibakil Island, Lantawan, Basilan province, officials said Tuesday.

The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Monday facilitated the transport of 87 migrants from this city from Sibakil Island, said Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Westmincom spokesperson.

Encinas said the remaining 34 persons who are from Basilan province returned to their respective homes after completion of the quarantine period.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Westmincom, said 10 of the 87 migrants are Zamboangueños and were fetched by their respective barangay officials upon arrival at the local port.

“We are happy to bring them back to Zamboanga safely and Covid-free,” Sobejana said.

One of the migrants who asked not to be named expressed her gratitude to the soldiers and the residents who supported them during their stay in Sibakil Island.

“The soldiers were so kind, they didn’t leave us. No matter how hard, they didn’t leave us. Thank you very much. Despite our being a little stubborn, you didn’t leave us. We salute you. Thank you very much to all of you,” she said.

The other returning Filipino migrants are from the following areas: Zamboanga del Norte, 25; 16 from Zamboanga del Sur; nine from Zamboanga Sibugay; six from Misamis Occidental; one from Lanao del Norte; two from Cagayan de Oro; eight from Tawi-Tawi; four from Davao City; one from General Santos City; one from Leyte; one from Bulacan; one in Quezon City; one in Sultan Kudarat, and one from Bohol.

The migrants are temporarily housed at the center for displaced persons of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office in this city while waiting for the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine.

“They have stayed in the (Sibakil) island for three weeks and remained to be asymptomatic,” said Dr. Abdulhalik Kasim, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Health in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“All of them are fine and are safe to return back to their respective hometown,” Kasim said.

The Westmincom, in coordination with the Department of Health, built the facility to house the returning Filipino migrants as they were denied entry into the mainland Basilan since quarantine is already in effect when they arrived last March 16 from Malaysia on board two wooden-hulled vessels.

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France to test ‘flying taxis’ from next year

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ARTIST rendition of the VoloCity.

“Flying taxis” will start taking off from an aerodrome north of Paris as soon as next June, operators said, in a trial ahead of a vast tourist influx for the 2024 Olympics.

The experiment will take place at the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin aerodrome some 90 minutes northwest of the capital by car, according to a joint announcement by the Ile-de-France region, airports operator Groupe ADP and the RATP public transport agency.

A drone-like, fully-electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (VTOL) dubbed VoloCity, produced by German company Volocopter, was chosen for the innovative trial with flying taxis in a peri-urban area, they said.

The partners said in a statement they had “decided to bring together all the conditions to make the emergence of this new mode of transport possible to complement the existing modes, whether for the public or for goods.

“Furthermore, the prospect of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games provides an exceptional opportunity to involve an entire industry in order to make Paris Region a leader in the global market of urban air mobility.”

The experiment will depend on the approval of residents, security protocols and air traffic regulations, said the companies.

In the first half of 2021, arrangements will be made for parking areas, recharging stations and ground markings for the demonstration.

Working with aviation safety agencies, the partners said “parking, takeoff and landing operations as well as operations around the vehicle, whether maintenance or electrical recharging, will be tested in a real aeronautical environment in June 2021.”

VoloCity is equipped with 18 rotors and nine battery packs. Each can carry two passengers with hand luggage, for a maximum payload of 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds).

It flies at 110 kilometers  per hour, at an altitude of 400 to 500 meters (1,312-1,640 feet), with a range of 35 kilometers (22 miles).

Volocopter executive Fabien Nestmann said the craft’s makers hoped for full certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency within two to three years.

“We want a demo for the 2024 Olympic Games,” Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, added at the launch news conference.

But it could take a decade for the project to be rolled out at scale.

“The day that you can buy a ticket (for a flying taxi) on the internet and take one, is more towards 2030, RATP CEO Catherine Guillouard told journalists.

In the long term, “we will be able to integrate mini take-off and landing zones into the urban fabric, which will require (public) acceptance, and the issue of noise will be key,” she added.

In the quest to limit traffic pollution and ease congestion, the idea of flying taxis has taken route worldwide.

Volocopter has already tested its airborne taxi in different parts of the world, and last October chose Singapore for the first test in the heart of a city.

Several other companies are working on similar projects, including Boeing, Airbus, Toyota and Hyundai.

Earlier this month, Japanese firm SkyDrive showed its eight-propeller, manned compact vehicle flying around a test field.

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Seagram heiress jailed for bankrolling sex cult

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CLARE Bronfman (foreground)

NEW YORK (AFP) — The heiress of the Canadian drinks empire Seagram was sentenced to more than six years in prison by a New York court Wednesday after pleading guilty in a sex trafficking scandal linked to a cult.

The 81-month sentence handed down to Clare Bronfman, 41, was seen as particularly stiff, since prosecutors had themselves only called for five years of incarceration.

Bronfman pleaded guilty last year to credit card fraud and harboring illegal immigrants on behalf of “self-help” group Nxivm, whose founder Keith Raniere was found guilty in June 2019 of having kept between 15 and 20 sex slaves for years.

Prosecutors said that Bronfman spent tens of millions of dollars supporting the group, known as Nxivm — pronounced “Nexium.”

“There can be little doubt that Raniere would not have been able to commit the crimes with which he was convicted were it not for powerful allies like Bronfman,” the prosecution said.

Her defense had hoped she would be able to avoid jail time and had called for a three-year suspended sentence.

Her lawyers said that even though she had pleaded guilty to credit card fraud and harboring illegal immigrants for the group, she did not know about the sexual abuse committed by Raniere in a group parallel to Nxivm called DOS, which was made up of “masters” and “slaves.”

They said she only knew of the beneficial side of the Albany, New York-based organization, which purported to teach classes for women’s self-empowerment.

Of the six people charged in the scandal that broke in 2018, Bronfman was the first to learn her sentence.

Prosecutors have requested life in prison for Raniere, who will find out his sentence on October 27.

Four others have pleaded guilty, including actress Allison Mack from the series “Smallville,” who admitted to two counts of racketeering in April 2019.

The dramatic story has been the subject of two screen adaptions: HBO’s recently released “The Vow” docu-series and “Escaping the Nxivm Cult,” a 2019 Lisa Robinson film focused on the testimony of a mother working to save her daughter from the organization.

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Southwest monsoon affecting Palawan, Visayas

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The trough of a low pressure area and the southwest monsoon are expected to bring rains today while a cloud cluster east of the Philippine area of responsibility has the potential to develop into a weather disturbance, PAGASA said.

Batanes and Cagayan, including the Babuyan Group of Islands, are forecast to have cloudy skies with scattered rains and thunderstorms due to the trough of LPA.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country are forecast to have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers due to the Southwest Monsoon and localized thunderstorms.

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Lord slams Alan’s ‘theatrics,’ bogus resignation rejection

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REP. Alan Peter Cayetano as he signs the "gentleman's agreement" with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco looking on at right. Photograph from the FB of Rep. Velasci

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco on Wednesday evening urged his colleagues in the House of Representatives to be men and women of honor by respecting the term-sharing agreement forged by President Rodrigo Duterte between him and Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano for the speakership.

Velasco lamented what he described as the theatrics pulled off by Cayetano in offering his resignation and in its being rejected by a few members of the House in what many lawmakers called a sham proceeding.

He also called on House members to focus on passing the 2021 national budget even as he assured fairness in leadership that gives a premium on unity.

“I express my deepest gratitude to President Duterte for calling the 29 September 2020 meeting and bringing together his key allies in Congress despite his busy schedule,” Velasco said.

“As the Father of the Nation and a true Statesman, the President has once again proven his leadership and steadfast resolve to bridge differences and unite parties regardless of their political affiliations for the country to sail in one direction and to prioritize the welfare of our people,” he said.

“Thank you, Mr. President,” he added.

Velasco reminded Cayetano that it was only last night (Tuesday) that he promised to resign on 14 October when the President ordered him to honor the term-sharing agreement as an “usapang lalaki” or agreement between men.

“Moreover, the President entrusted you with the task of announcing the date of the turnover,” Velasco said, referring to Cayetano.

Velasco said the 14th of October was chosen as the date for the turnover because of their commitment to passing the budget before the said date while doing nothing to disrupt or derail the process.

He thanked Cayetano for confirming the timetable in his privilege speech on Wednesday, as well as the details of their meeting with the President – that he will resign on the 14th.

“It is most unfortunate, therefore, that today, deliberations on the budget were suspended. Instead of focusing on the work at hand, further political maneuverings and theatrics took the budget deliberations hostage,” Velasco said.

“We lost an entire day, and even tomorrow where you have declared that no session will be conducted, which are crucial in meeting our timeline. These attacks and distractions serve no purpose other than to perpetuate what is a purely personal agenda threatening to delay the passage of the budget. This is the truth,” he stressed.

Velasco then called on members of the House to continue their work and pass the budget on 14 October as a commitment they’ve made to the President and as their responsibility to their constituents to deliver to them a “fair and equitable budget.”

“I assure my peers that we will be a gracious leader who would listen and be responsive to your concerns. But I make an earnest plea: Let us uphold the dignity of the House of Representatives by being men and women who believe in “Palabra de Honor” in keeping our word and upholding the term-sharing agreement Speaker Cayetano and I swore to honor and respect,” Velasco said.

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Bayern win German Super Cup

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Bayern Munich's German midfielder Joshua Kimmich scores 3:2 during the German Supercup football match FC Bayern Munich v BVB Borussia Dortmund in Munich, Southern Germany, on 30 September 2020. (AFP photo)

MUNICH, Germany — Bayern Munich claimed their fifth title of the year on Wednesday as a late Joshua Kimmich goal sealed their 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund to land the German Super Cup.

Hosts Bayern built a 2-0 lead with first-half goals by Corentin Tolisso and Thomas Mueller, only for Erling Braut Haaland to equalise early in the second half after Julian Brandt pulled a Dortmund goal back just before the break.

However, Kimmich settled the matter through sheer determination behind closed doors at the Allianz Arena.

His initial shot was saved by Dortmund goalkeeper Marwin Hitz but the rebound clipped Kimmich’s boot and looped in for the winning goal eight minutes from time.

“Joshua is a classy player. The way he chipped that ball in,” said Bayern captain Manuel Neuer in admiration.

Having had their record 23-match winning streak ended by a shock defeat at Hoffenheim on Sunday, Bayern bounced back with Kimmich leading the charge.

“As long as I have known him (Kimmich), his mentality is very special. He is well on his way to being one of those players who shape this club,” Bayern head coach Hansi Flick told broadcaster ZDF.

Bayern have already won an eighth-straight Bundesliga title, the German Cup, Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup this year.

This is the fourth time in five years they have won the showcase match.

Sancho missing

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki and England winger Jadon Sancho missed the flight to Munich with “a respiratory infection”, the club said, but both tested negative on Monday for Covid-19.

Flick made five changes from the side which lost 4-1 at Hoffenheim.

Leroy Sane was sidelined by a knee injury, Leon Goretzka rested and Segre Gnabry started on the bench.

Canadian left-back Alphonso Davies moved up to the wing and Tolisso started in central midfield.

The Frenchman gave Bayern the lead when Robert Lewandowski put in a short cross from the right wing and Tolisso side-footed home on 18 minutes.

Mueller grabbed Bayern’s second when he headed home after Davies floated in a cross on 32 minutes.

Brandt put Dortmund back in the game five minutes before the break when Benjamin Pavard’s loose pass was snapped up by Marco Reus and Brandt finished the move.

It was 2-1 at the break, but Dortmund defender Thomas Meunier fired a golden chance over the bar early in the second half with just Manuel Neuer to beat.

Dortmund drew level when central midfielder Thomas Delaney slid a great pass into Haaland, who showed ice cool finishing to fire past Neuer on 55 minutes.

It was the 20-year-old’s 19th goal in 22 games for Dortmund.

With time running out, Kimmich robbed Delaney of possession near the halfway line and sprinted clear with Lewandowski in support.

The pair exchanged passes and although Hitz saved the inital shot, the rebound looped over his head into the Dortmund goal after clipping Kimmich’s boot.

The Super Cup was the final game for Bundesliga referee Bibiana Steinhaus, 41, the first female to officiate in one of Europe’s top leagues, before retirement.

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Layoffs loom for beleaguered US airlines

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US airlines have been grounding planes and delaying jet deliveries to limit their cash-burn as air travel remains at about only one-third of its level a year ago.

NEW YORKUnited States — Workers from the beleaguered US airline industry are making a last-ditch public appeal this week to coax more money from Capitol Hill power brokers to save their jobs.

The first day of October concludes the period when US carriers that received billions in aid from Congress promised to refrain from laying off workers.

A package of loans totaling up to $25 billion to seven US carriers announced Tuesday night by the Treasury Department provides funds for airlines to ride out a prolonged downturn amid the coronavirus, but won’t affect plans for furloughs, airline sources said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday on CNBC he was hopeful airlines would postpone layoffs if congressional leaders can reach a framework for a deal, saying it was “critical” for Congress to act.

Meanwhile, flight attendants have taken to social media with tearful photos of what could be their last flight on the job and anxious appeals for lawmakers to act.

“I cannot afford to be jobless (for) over a year,” wrote one flight attendant on Twitter, saying she was a single mother who spent 14 years as a flight attendant. “American families need relief too!”

While the stalemate in Washington over stimulus has pinched unemployed workers and put public sector employees on notice, vulnerable airline workers have in some ways been the poster children for the impasse.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mnuchin held talks again Tuesday and agreed to keep negotiating. But a deal is still far from assured.

Voluntary exit

Since the coronavirus intensified in March, US airlines have been grounding planes and delaying jet deliveries to limit their cash-burn as air travel remains at about only one-third of its level a year ago.

Carriers have struck agreements with unions to spread out work among employees. Tens of thousands of employees have also accepted unpaid leave or early retirement packages to avert the need for involuntary terminations.

Still, the decisions will not be enough to avert all job cuts. Airlines have said they do not expect a full recovery until a vaccine is widely available, which company executives have said may not be until late 2021.

Unions have said 100,000 people or more could be laid off without additional federal aid, but analysts expect a smaller number than that as airlines and unions seek ways to avoid layoffs.

In the latest such deal, United Airlines on Monday reached an agreement with its pilots union to avert furloughs of 2,850 employees.

However, United is still on track to furlough as many as 13,000 other workers as soon as October 1. These include flight attendants and staff in other airport operations.

American Airlines has also said it expects to cut as many as 19,000 jobs.

Southwest Airlines has said it does not plan involuntary job cuts.

The Delta Air Lines pilot union last week said it reached an agreement with the company to avoid furloughs until at least November 1 to give congressional talks more time.

Delta has said earlier voluntary staff departures and union agreements averted the need for involuntary job cuts for flight attendants and other frontline employees.

Peter McNally, an analyst at research firm Third Bridge, predicted there would be significant downsizing throughout the industry.

“The businesses can not support the cost structure as it is,” McNally said in an interview. “They worked around it through furloughs and early retirement and voluntary departures, but there are still going to be a lot of layoffs.

“The recovery has just not come as quickly as people had hoped,” he said.

Public sector faces crunch

Airline workers are hardly the only losers from Washington’s inability to enact fiscal stimulus.

Laid-off workers had been receiving $600 in weekly supplemental unemployment benefits under a provision of the CARES Act that expired at the end of July.

President Donald Trump authorized an additional $300 in weekly spending by tapping federal emergency funds, but those funds are also running out and expected to be gone in October, said Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics.

“Households got quite a boost from these benefits, so we’re going to see a pretty big drop-off,” she said in an interview.

Another vulnerable group is public sector workers, who face an uncertain future as governments struggle with lower tax revenues and, in many cases, balanced budget rules.

The most recent version of House Democrats’ “Heroes Act” includes more than $400 billion in funding for state and local governments, a provision Republicans oppose.

The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that failure to provide support to local government could cost 5.3 million jobs through 2021.

Without the funding, “they’ll have no choice but to do layoffs and cut social services,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the institute, a think tank that advocates for low- and middle-income workers.

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Two Antipolo public markets closed

Neil Alcober

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The markets were closed for not complying with the minimum health standards. (Facebook image)
Two public markets in Antipolo City have been shut down by the local government over violations of health and safety protocols against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Antipolo City Mayor Andrea Yñares on Wednesday announced she ordered the temporary closure of MLQ Market located at F. Manalo Street, Barangay Dalig for allegedly disregarding minimum health standards put in place amid the threat of COVID-19.
“Sa atin pong mga tindero at tindera sa MLQ Market alam po namin na mahirap at hindi natin nakasanayan ang pagsusuot ng mask pero kailangan po natin sumunod sa mga health and safety protocols ng IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] at DoH (Department of Health) para sa ating kaligtasan, ng ating mga pamilya at mamimili,” Yñares said in a social media post.
Yñares also ordered the temporary closure of Tri-Star Agora Market at CMMK in Barangay San Roque for allegedly not complying with the minimum health standards.
“Kasabay ng COVID-19 testing na isinagawa natin sa Tri Star Agora Market, nag-ikot din po ang Joint Inspection Teams kung nasusunod ang mga minimum health and safety protocols. Madaming vendors ang nakitang lumabag sa mga patakarang pangkaligtasan para sa ating mga kababayan kaya sila ay ipinasara ng BPLO (Business Permits and Licensing Office) at City Health Office,” Yñares said.
The mayor said the city legal office is also currently studying the responsibilities of the management of Tri-Star Agora for not complying with the health and safety protocols of the IATF.
“Bukod dito, natuklasan din na ilang buwan nang sira ang kanilang STP [Sewerage Treatment Plant] kaya mabaho at maduming tubig o sewer ang kanilang tinatapon araw-araw at diretsong dumadaloy sa ating mga ilog . . . na isang paglabag sa Republic Act 4850 pati na din sa Clean Water Act . . . mga legal na dahilan sa pagpapasara sa kanila,” Yñares said.
As of 7 p.m. of 29 September, Antipolo has 2,403 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 77 fatalities and 2,056 recoveries.
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Unlikely reunion

I’m here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to compete for a championship.

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LEBRON James finds himself facing a familiar foe — the Miami Heat — in his return to the NBA Finals. / Brian Babineau/Agence france-presse

MIAMI — LeBron James wants to beat the Miami Heat.

The Heat want to beat LeBron James.

These shouldn’t be surprising notions to anyone — not with a title at stake.

Those looking for more acrimony than that, well, they may be disappointed.

The NBA Finals start Wednesday night (Thursday in Manila) and the James against Miami story line is shaping up as little more than a meeting of the mutual admiration society, albeit with a championship at stake.

James is looking to bring the Los Angeles Lakers back to basketball’s mountaintop for the first time since 2010 and the Heat are looking to cap a surprising season with their fourth crown.

“I’m here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to compete for a championship,” James said on the eve of Game 1 of his 10th finals, where he will be seeking ring No. 4.

James was asked any number of different ways about his time in Miami, his thoughts on coach Erik Spoelstra, his opinion of Heat president Pat Riley.

He never took the bait as he spoke only with fondness for the four years he spent in Miami and the two titles the Heat won during that stay.

“Being a part of that culture allowed me to grow, allowed me to see what it takes to not only compete for a championship but also to win a championship,” James said.

“So, it definitely put me in a position where I knew what it took. I saw what it took. But also, I fit that culture as well because of how hard I worked. It was a perfect match for those four years.”

James left Miami and the Finals have been an almost-annual stop since; this is his fifth appearance in the title round in the six seasons that followed his Heat tenure.

It’s the first time Miami has been back since he left. During that time, the Heat did some rebuilding a couple of times and used 60 different players in those six seasons.

Miami also endured the departure, return and then retirement of Dwyane Wade and the premature end of Chris Bosh’s career for health reasons.

Spoelstra is designing a game plan with hopes of keeping James in some sort of check, of course. That doesn’t mean he didn’t speak with reverence when asked about the Lakers’ best player.

“I just think it is a true testament to his greatness to be able to sustain this type of success year in, year out,” Spoelstra said.

“Different uniforms, new players and new teams going after him. It’s a real testament to that commitment. He’s seen everything. At this point in his career, it’s just about winning. And his ability to do what he does at his age is incredibly uncommon. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to be able to maintain that.”

The feeling is mutual.

James, on Spoelstra: “I’m not going to sit up here and act like I don’t know what Spo is all about, because he’s damned good, if not great.”

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Kush consignee arrested in Cebu City

Anthony Ching

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The suspect is handcuffed by an undercover cop. (Contributed photo)

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) announced the arrest Tuesday of the claimant to the P1.5 million worth of kush or marijuana intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The BoC said the claimant was apprehended in Cebu City by the operatives during a controlled delivery operation Tuesday afternoon.

The entrapment operation was conducted by the BoC Port of NAIA in coordination with the PDEA Region 7, CIIS-Cebu, ESS-Cebu, BoC Intelligence Group and NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG).

The illegal cargo was declared as “Shisha” when it was shipped from Spain by Richard Mrozek. It was consigned to Mateo Abato, a resident of Cebu City. The said cargo arrived last 18 September at FedEx Warehouse in NAIA Complex, Pasay City.

Thru the vigilance and intensified profiling of the Port of NAIA, they found out that the subjected cargo was containing kush or marijuana and the duty examiner immediately coordinated and reported it to the PDEA and NAIA-IADITG for appropriate chemical laboratory analysis. Thereafter, the subject cargo was confirmed to be kush marijuana.

Consequently, PDEA Regional Office 7 and NAIA-IADITG with the CCPO-CIU, CIIS-Cebu, ESS-Cebu and BoC Intelligence Group, proceeded with the controlled delivery operations, which resulted the apprehension of Jan Robert Pareles at Asmara Urban Resort, 1 Paseo Saturnino St., Brgy. Banilad, Cebu City.

The BoC-NAIA formally turned the seized marijuana to the PDEA last 29 September 2020, a day before the claimant was arrested, for further profiling and case buildup against the importers and other personality responsible for possible prosecution for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in relation to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

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