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Thousands protest in London for Black Lives Matter

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Manila, June 4 — Thousands of people took to the streets of London Wednesday to march in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and protest the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after being pinned down by a white police officer in the US state of Minnesota.

The protests were focused in Hyde Park, central London and started at 1 p.m. Demonstrators initially practiced social distancing. But as their numbers swelled, the space between protestors shrank. A considerable number of demonstrators wore face masks and gloves, however.

They chanted “Black lives matter,” “We will not be silent” and “No justice, no peace.”

One of the protest organizers told the Evening Standard, a London newspaper: “The injustice in the United States has refocused the similar problems we have here in the United Kingdom.”

“Since 1990, almost one person a week has died at the hands of the police or prison system in Britain, and we need accountability and reform here as well,” he said.

“This crisis has to stop if we don’t want to go in the same direction as the United States.”

At 5:25 p.m., Guardian journalist Mattha Busby uploaded a video of scuffles between protestors and police, and tweeted: “It’s kicking off now. Unclear exactly what started things. Police appeared to attempt to take a man from the crowd and pandemonium ensued.”

Shortly after, he tweeted: “I should add, things have calmed down significantly now after the video was taken. A couple of people were led away by officers. Tensions are growing and protesters here show no signs of heading to Trafalgar Square.”

“The crowd has been thinning out,” he later tweeted. “It would be a shame if earlier’s flash point at all overshadowed what has overwhelmingly been a peaceful and positive demo. Sky News are reporting a police officer was punched, triggering the incident and arrests.”

Commander Alex Murray from London’s Metropolitan Police uploaded a video to Twitter in the evening, where he said: “So we can see feelings are running really high today. It’s been a peaceful protest. We’re really grateful for everybody who has been peaceful, and we are committed to working with the people of London to make London a lot safer and to build trust with all communities.”

John Boyega

London-born British actor John Boyega, who rose to fame for his role in the most recent Star Wars films, attended the protest at Hyde Park and made an impassioned speech. The video of the speech and photos of him went viral on social media.

“We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence,” he said.

The first three names are of killed African Americans; Stephen Lawrence was a black British teenager murdered in an unprovoked racist attack on April 22, 1993. Five suspects were arrested but none charged at the time. Police and prosecutors were criticized for institutional racism and the case has become a cause celebre, highlighting structural racism in the UK. In 2012, two of Lawrence’s killers were finally convicted of murder.

“Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting,” Boyega said.

“I’m speaking to you from my heart.”

“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process. We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved. We don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved. But today, we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones,” he added.

Take the knee

Stand Up To Racism, an anti-racism campaign group, called on Brits to “take the knee” on their doorsteps at 6 p.m. as a show of solidarity.

The idea was inspired by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took the knee in protest in 2016. It has since become linked with the Black Lives Matter group.

The Daily Mail quoted one of Stand Up To Racism’s members as saying: “Racism is the underlying condition that continues to kill black and BAME communities,” referring to Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.

“Take the knee at 6 p.m. because there is a boot on the neck of millions of people in the BAME community.

“Part of the cure for the virus of racism is to embrace anti-racism and anti-fascism.”

Police and politicians

UK police leaders published a joint letter Wednesday, saying: “We stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life. Justice and accountability should follow.”

The police added they were “appalled” by the damage and violence in US cities and hoped that “peace and order will soon be restored.”

Turning to policing in the UK, the letter said: “In the UK, we have a long established tradition of policing by consent.”

“Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary,” the letter said. “We will tackle bias, racism, or discrimination wherever we find it.”

With regards to the protests in London and around the UK, the police said: “We know people want to make their voices heard. The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate.”

The letter added that the novel coronavirus remained “a deadly disease” and urged people to work with police officers and respect restrictions on gatherings.

Tobias Ellwood, a British MP and chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee uploaded a video of protestors from his office window and tweeted: “Moving to see this powerful and peaceful demonstration of solidarity supporting #BlackLivesMatter outside Westminster right now. Scenes like this are happening across the world. Politicians must listen.”

Global movement

On Sunday, thousands of protestors took to Trafalgar Square in central London and outside the US embassy, while hundreds of others marched through the south London districts of Peckham and Brixton on Monday.

The protests in Trafalgar Square led to 23 arrests, according to Sky News, at least three of which were for breaching Covid-19 measures.

BLM protestors have called for further demonstrations in London at Parliament Square on June 6 and the US Embassy on June 7.

The US has seen protests since last week when a video went viral showing Floyd being pinned down by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as he was being arrested.

Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Shortly after, Floyd appeared to lose consciousness, but Chauvin maintained his position on the victim.

He died shortly after being taken to a hospital.

His last words were “I can’t breathe,” which became the slogan of the nationwide protests.

Floyd was killed by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure,” an independent autopsy found Monday.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Iloilo town traces 200 contacts of Covid-positive councilor

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Manila, June 3 — The Contact Tracing Task Force of Igbaras town, Iloilo has identified and located all the 200 contacts of the 55-year-old male municipal councilor who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Monday.

Of these contacts, 50 were already swabbed on Tuesday and the other 50 were swabbed Wednesday, Igbaras Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

Another batch of 100 contacts will also undergo Covid-19 swab testing on Thursday, he said.

“I confirm that our positive case is an SB (Sanggunian Bayan) member and almost all our local government unit personnel are identified as high-risk contacts,” said Esmeralda, who is also a medical doctor.

The Covid-19 positive councilor has also undergone re-swabbing on Tuesday as the mayor wants to confirm his test result.

Esmeralda said the councilor stayed in Igbaras for two and a half months but went once to Iloilo City last May 1.

He is considering the possibility that the councilor might have caught the infection from an asymptomatic carrier in Igbaras.

“I have a little doubt (in the positive result). If we say it’s a false positive, it is a very little chance. We will see the result again in his re-test to confirm,” he said.

The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test of the councilor, along with other LGU personnel and contacts, will be processed at the Western Visayas Medical Center sub-national laboratory.

Due to the town’s Covid-19 case, transactions in the local government has been paralyzed since Tuesday.

Esmeralda said “almost all” of the LGU personnel, including him, will have to observe quarantine and would be monitored for signs and symptoms.

“All the transactions in the municipal hall are suspended because almost all our personnel are under monitoring. We will resume work after a week or until such time that we can assure safety and the absence of local transmission,” he said.

The municipal hall is also being subjected to disinfection, he said.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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Resort owners told to observe safety standards

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Manila, June 3 — Resort owners and other tourism stakeholders in Antique on Wednesday were reminded to strictly observe health and safety standards as the industry reopens in the province.

“Safe physical distancing, continuous sanitation, and disinfecting should be observed by owners of the tourism facilities in the province,” Antique Provincial Tourism Office (APTO) head, Juan Carlos Perlas, said in an interview.

To ensure safe physical distancing, they are also instructed to only accommodate 50 percent of their guest capacity, he said.

“We would have to start from the bottom with new rules, but we are optimistic for Antique has always been different from usual places, laid back and without the large crowd,” he said.

He said protocols amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis really affected the tourism industry in the province.

Based on the data provided by the APTO, some 210 tourism facilities temporarily closed since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Antique last March 16.

But Perlas is optimistic the beautiful beaches and other tourist spots of Antique will bounce back as these are not yet that crowded, which could be one of the preferences of visitors.

Meanwhile, Flord Nickson Calawag, who owns the Calawag Mountain Resort in Barangay Tono, Tibiao, in a separate interview, said that they were forced to let go half of their staff because of the lockdown.

“We used to have 50 staff but we had to downsize our workforce due to Covid-19,” Calawag said.

He said their resort reopened only last June 1 when the province entered the modified general community quarantine following the issuance of Executive Order 65 of Governor Rhodora Cadiao.

“With the reopening of the resort, we are practicing safe physical distancing even no physical contact with our guests,” he said.

He said that guests are required to wash their hands upon arrival and those who are coughing or with fever will not be allowed inside the resort.

Calawag added that they adhere to Memorandum Circular Number 2020-002 of the Department of Tourism (DOT) that details health and safety guidelines on the operations of accommodation establishments under the new normal.

The reopening of the Calawag Mountain Resort’s fish spa, rubber tubing, and other adventure activities have started luring tourists.

“We hope our domestic tourists would be more encouraged to visit and promote the local destinations,” he said.

Since Antique is now part of the One Panay Community Quarantine starting June 1, residents of Panay Island would be enticed to visit the Calawag Mountain Resort and other destinations in the province, Calawag added.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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SAP beneficiaries in Pangasinan to get second tranche

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MALASIQUI, June 3 — Only the household beneficiaries in Pangasinan will receive the second tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP) among the provinces in the entire Ilocos Region, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) confirmed on Wednesday.

In a forum, DSWD regional director Marcelo Nicomedes Castillo said based on the guidelines, only Pangasinan qualified for the second tranche since the province was among those areas that remained under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 15, while the other provinces of La Union, Ilocos Norte, and Ilocos Sur were removed from ECQ and placed under general community quarantine since May 1.

Castillo, however, clarified that the total 433,429 household beneficiaries in the province might be lessened depending on the result of the extensive validation the DSWD is currently conducting.

“If upon validation, the beneficiaries will be proven not qualified, then they will be removed from the list who will receive the second tranche,” he said.

Each qualified household beneficiary in Pangasinan will again receive PHP5,500.

The schedule of the release of the second tranche is still to be announced.

In the entire Ilocos Region, a total of 777,375 SAP household beneficiaries received the first tranche of the emergency cash subsidy amounting to a total of PHP4.275 billion, but only 110 local government units (LGUs) have fully completed distribution.

“The other 15 LGUs have not fully completed distribution because the allocation for them exceeded the number of qualified beneficiaries in their area,” Castillo said.

He added that LGUs are now in the liquidation process of the SAP funds.

“We thank the LGUs including the barangay officials, the staff, among others because amidst the hardships they were able to finish the distribution,” he said.

Meanwhile, some 57,841 households will also receive emergency cash subsidies as additional SAP beneficiaries, or formerly called the ‘waitlisted’.

“These are qualified beneficiaries who were not included in the list of SAP beneficiaries. The lists of names were submitted by their respective LGUs, but these are still for validation,” Castillo said.

He said the LGUs have submitted a total of 59,963 names, more than the allocated number of additional beneficiaries in the region, hence the validation will filter and possibly reduce the number.

LGUs in Ilocos Norte submitted 1,693 additional beneficiaries, Ilocos Sur with 5,031, La Union with 3,663, and Pangasinan with 49,576.

Castillo said they are still waiting for the criteria and specific guidelines for the release of the subsidy to the additional beneficiaries.For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at contentservices@htlive.com
Copyright 2012. Philippines News Agency

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