Manila: A fire that raged for seven hours through a crowded Manila slum community killed two people and left close to 1,500 families homeless, fire authorities said on Monday.
More than 5,000 people were temporary housed in four public schools in Mandaluyong City, to the east of downtown Manila, as fire protection officials investigated the cause of the fire, which destroyed more than 500 houses on Sunday.
Damage was estimated at 10 million pesos ($203,800). A blaze destroyed 800 houses in the same community last year. "The fire spread rapidly because the houses were made of light materials and the roads were so narrow," a fire official said, adding the two casualties had been trapped in their homes.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Dela Rosa said that the Philippines police will push ahead with the purchase of 26,000 assault rifles from a US supplier, following an about-face by President Rodrigo Duterte, who previously said the deal would be scrapped.
Duterte had a week ago expressed anger and said he would cancel it himself. But he revoked that decision, apparently after Republican Donald Trump's surprise win in the US presidential election.
"(The president) told me to continue the deal," Dela Rosa told a news conference. "The processing of documents are going on smoothly... we have the blessing of the president to continue the transaction."
Dela Rosa did not say why Duterte had changed his mind, but he said there would be a new president in Washington and "he and Donald Trump are friends".
Dela Rosa said it was possible the president would scrap the guns deal if there were an intervention in Washington.
"If they will block it, I'm sure the president will again tell me to stop it. We're paying for it, we're not begging for it," he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte warned that IS militants driven out of Syria and Iraq could set up in his country, and if that happened he would forego human rights obligations to keep his people safe.
Duterte said the southern Philippine province of Mindanao was already a hotbed of rebellion and banditry and he was worried about "looming terrorism" and an influx of extremists who could exploit the insecurity.
"Once the terrorists of the Middle East are deprived of the land area, the real estate area where they can sleep... they will wander to other places and they will come here and we have to prepare for that," he said during a speech at a law enforcement agency.
Duterte said the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia were working closely to keep foreign extremists at bay.
On Friday, he warned that he may use his executive power to tackle lawlessness in the Philippines by suspending habeas corpus, a legal safeguard against arbitrary arrest and detention.
The constitution allows 60-day suspensions "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it" and would permit arrests without warrant and detention without charge for three days.
Duterte mentioned habeas corpus on Friday in the context of both the southern unrest and his war on drugs and said building cases for arresting suspects took too much time and resources.
The president's office on Monday issued a statement saying Duterte was giving a stern warning to those behind violent acts that he could take "more drastic action" to stop them.