Attackers in organized columns, a woman shouting instructions on a megaphone, and suspicious tours the day before: investigators are probing the possibility that the January 6 attack on the US Capitol was planned, with help from insiders.

Anyare? Questions abound if US Capitol attack was planned

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by Paul HANDLEY

Attackers in organized columns, a woman shouting instructions on a megaphone, and suspicious tours the day before: investigators are probing the possibility that the January 6 attack on the US Capitol was planned, with help from insiders.

Disturbing videos, photos and online communications point to potential conspiracy.

In one video, more than a dozen men wearing assault force-type garb push up the Capitol steps in a line, cutting through the dense crowd toward the building’s doors.

In another, a woman in a pink hat gives directions via megaphone to others inside the building, telling them where to go.

And several men, including two who made it inside the Senate chamber, carried zip ties that could be used to restrain hostages.

Some officials said many of the pro-Trump protestors who broke into the offices of top legislators like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to know how to navigate the maze-like Capitol.

“They knew where to go,” senior Democrat James Clyburn told CBS News. “Yes, somebody on the inside of those buildings were complicit in this.”

– ‘Breadcrumbs’ of organization –
Prosecutors have arrested dozens so far and say more than 200 could be charged. But they have not used the words “conspiracy” or “plot” to describe the unprecedented assault on the US legislature.

Michael Sherwin, the Washington federal prosecutor overseeing the investigation, said Friday they see “breadcrumbs of organization” including communications between those inside the building and outside.

He said it was a “Tier 1 top priority” for law enforcement to determine if there was an “overarching command and control” and “organized teams” in the breach of the Capitol.

“This is going to take weeks if not months to find out the actual motivations of some of these groups,” he said.

But, he added, “There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassinations,” he said.

– ‘Reconnaissance’ the day before –
Analysts say much of the activity on January 6 was chaotic, disorganized and more typical of a spontaneous riot.

But Representative Mikie Sherrill said Wednesday that groups of Trump supporters had toured the Capitol for “reconnaissance” a day before the attack, calling the visits “suspicious.

The visitors “could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff,” the former Navy helicopter pilot and other lawmakers said in a letter to Capitol security.

“The ties between these groups inside the Capitol Complex and the attacks on the Capitol need to be investigated.”

– Taking the building –
Much focus is on one video. In it, several protestors inside a Capitol room are regrouping to figure out where to go after their initial success entering the building.

The woman with the bullhorn shouts from just outside through a broken window.

“Hey guys, I’ve been in the other room,” she says.

“In the other room on the other side of this door right here where you are standing, there is a glass that somebody, if it’s broken, you can drop down into a room underneath it.”

“There’s also two doors in the other room. One in the rear, and one to the right as you go in.”

“So people should probably coordinate together if you’re going to take this building.”

Yet, that doesn’t add up to a sweeping conspiracy or cogent plan.

Matthew Feldman of the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right in Britain said that’s typical of political violence.

At the moment, with limited evidence on communications and other links, he said, “It is impossible to establish causality.”

“Those people who made up the herd did not appear organized, but within them clearly there were people who were organized.”

At the same time, he noted that the crowd included members of the violent Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, some who traveled to Washington from as far as Hawaii.

Their presence, the discovery of pipe bombs planted nearby, and the apparent threats to capture members of Congress or the vice president, were signs of “terror” plotting, he said.

“You had a riotous mob… and within that you had domestic terrorists” who were “clearly planning something.”

Pelosi on Friday added fuel to the idea that there was planning and coordination, without saying how far it could go.

“If, in fact, it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that,” she said.

Agence France-Presse

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Walang pilitan! DOLE to issue advisory on ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

MANILA – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday announced that they will issue an advisory on the issue of vaccination in workplaces early next week.

“We will issue an advisory, not an order on Monday. We will advise everyone that nobody can be forced to undergo vaccination without his or her consent and any policy that is requiring vaccination for work will be declared illegal,” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello said this is to make employers aware of this rule.

On the other hand, he urged workers to report to the department employers or companies that are requiring employees to get the vaccine before they will be allowed to enter the workplace.

“They can report it to our DOLE offices, we have city, municipal, provincial and regional offices and they can also call our hotlines: 1439 and 1438,” the Labor chief said.

Bello, however, said they have yet to receive any complaints from employees regarding the issue.

“We have not received any complaint yet. In fairness, the president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines had said they will not implement such because they know that it has no legal basis and you cannot force the workers to get vaccinated, we don’t have the vaccines yet,” he said.

He, however, urged Filipinos to get vaccinated.

“I’m asking our fellow Filipinos to get vaccinated once the vaccines are available. The best way for us to ensure our return to normalcy,” he added. (PNA)

Para wala nang TNT! Bello: Russia eyes bilateral labor agreement with PH

MANILA – Russia has expressed interest to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Philippines on the deployment of migrant workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Saturday.

“We received a communication from the Russian government that they are willing to enter into a bilateral agreement with the government of the Republic of the Philippines,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello said this is a welcome development for Filipinos, particularly those who are illegally staying in the European nation.

“With this development, we can now legitimize the stay of our overseas workers in Russia,” he said.

Bello added that under the plan, Filipinos who go to Russia as tourists can have their tourist visa converted into working visas.

“It’s under the same mechanics, (as to those who go to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They went there as tourists and then they convert their tourist visa into a working visa,” he said.

On Monday, the Philippine government and the UAE signed an agreement creating a unified employment contract that provides stringent measures to protect Filipino household service workers (HSWs) pursuant to the directives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

During the joint committee meeting from March 1 to 2, Manila has reiterated its position to deploy the workers through the legal channel, and the conversion of tourist visa to working visa is therefore not recommended since this may lead to illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons.

Bello said under the new contract, the conversion of a Filipino worker’s tourist visa to a working visa would have to be approved by Philippine Overseas Labor Office in the host country.

“The UAE will no longer allow the conversion of a tourist visa into a working visa without the approval of Labor Attaché in the place of deployment. It’s a protection for our OFWs,” he said. (PNA)

Dagdag supply! Galvez: 38K doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in PH March 7

MANILA – The government is expecting the arrival of an additional 38,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility on March 7, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Saturday.

“‘Yung darating po bukas ay more or less 38,400. Ito po yung kabuuan ng 525,600 ng AstraZeneca (Arriving tomorrow are more or less 38,400 doses, part of 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccines),” Galvez said in an interview shortly after the symbolic vaccination rollout of AstraZeneca jabs at the Ospital ng Parañaque.

On Thursday night, the initial 487,200 shots of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the Philippines through the COVAX facility.

By the third week of March, 400,000 more doses of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered.

“So ngayon ang gagawin sa AstraZeneca, kung sino ‘yung mga hindi nabigyan ng Sinovac at saka willing magkaroon ng bakuna ay ‘yun po yung priority natin (We will prioritize the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines to those who did not receive the Sinovac vaccines and are willing to get vaccinated),” Galvez said.

The government will also prioritize the local deployment of AstraZeneca vaccines to areas with a surge in new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections, including Calabarzon and Central Visayas, as well as the cities of Baguio and Davao.

“‘Yun ang priority natin na mabigyan ng mga bakuna, lalo na yung mga nakita natin na maraming new cases (Our priority is to give the vaccines to areas with a high number of new Covid-19 cases), ” he said.

Amid the limited global supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Galvez said the arrival of AstraZeneca and Sinovac jabs is a huge relief.

“Kasi nangako po ang Chinese embassy at saka Chinese government na mayroon pong parating na 400,000 na another donation para bubuuhin na lang nila na one million donation (As promised by the Chinese embassy and the Chinese government to complete one million doses, another 400,000 doses are set to arrive),” he said.

On top of the Chinese government’s donations, Galvez said the country’s procured Sinovac jabs would arrive by the end of March onwards. (PNA)

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