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BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

GOVERNMENT HALTS OPERATIONS OF SMALL-SCALE MINERS
[RELATED: DENR chief vows to find alternative jobs for those laid off by mining firms]
[RELATED(2): Semirara next on Gina’s hit list]


AUGUST 9 -In a briefing yesterday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said all small-scale mining activities operating outside the Minahang Bayan were illegal in nature and that they should be stopped immediately. ABS-CBN PR/File/Released
 The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered a stop to small-scale mining operations, halting about 60 percent of total gold production in the country. In a briefing on Monday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said all small-scale mining activities operating outside the Minahang Bayan were illegal in nature and that they should be stopped immediately. “We don’t need gold. Gold is not an essential thing for survival. What we need is clean air and clean water,” Lopez said. Lopez issued this statement in response to complaints by major mining firms she was focusing more on large-scale mining and neglecting illegal small-scale operations. “We are not selective in auditing,” she said. A Minahang Bayan centralizes processing of minerals within a zone where the government will be able to monitor gold production by small-scale miners better. It helps the government curb illegal mining and mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of indiscriminate mining operations in the country. In April 2015, the DENR issued the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 in line with the mining policy of the previous administration. Under Department Administrative Order 03-2015, the revised IRR institutionalized and implemented reforms in the Philippine mining sector, laying down policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the utilization of mineral resources. With the IRR, the DENR looks forward to the small-scale mining operations in the country transforming into a formal and responsible sector of the industry. At present, there are only three existing Minahang Bayan in the country located in Masbate, Davao Oriental and Samar. There are about 300,000 to 400,000 small-scale miners operating in 40 mineral-rich provinces nationwide, majority of which operates outside the Minahang Bayan. The DENR, together with seven other agencies, have created a task force that would target environmental offenders and ensure strict implementation of laws and regulations on environmental protection. READ MORE...RELATED, DENR chief vows to find alternative jobs for those laid off by mining firms... RELATED(2) Semirara next on Gina’s hit list...

ALSO: No license renewal, extension for Ongpin's PhilWeb Corp
[Without license, PhilWeb shutting down today, Ongpin selling stakes]


AUGUST 9 -ROBERTO ONGPIN, ANDREA DOMINGO OF PAGCOR.PH
The Philippine government is set to deal embattled online gaming firm PhilWeb Corp. what could be a lethal blow, with the head of the state casino regulator saying the company should not expect a fresh government mandate when its operating license expires tomorrow. In a text message, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chair Andrea Domingo said the contract of the firm controlled by businessman Roberto Ongpin was set to end on Aug. 10, 2016, after having been provisionally renewed for a month. “It will not be extended or renewed,” she said, adding that PhilWeb should cease operations in its 286 e-Games outlets nationwide starting on the following day, Aug. 11. President Duterte has directed the government to clamp down on online gambling and has also singled out Ongpin as an “oligarch” whom he wanted to “destroy.” PhilWeb’s share price on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has dropped from P24.40 on the day Duterte took office to only P5.13 Monday, representing a decline of 79 percent over a six-week period. The company’s shareholders have since then lost P26.7 billion worth of market capitalization and the firm was worth only P8.3 billion at the end of Monday’s trading session. In response to the government’s clampdown, PhilWeb Monday said it has written Pagcor’s Domingo requesting for a meeting to clarify the situation. READ MORE...RELATED, Without license, PhilWeb shutting down today...  RELATED(2), Lightning-struck Ongpin selling PhilWeb stake, Ongpin seling stakes...

ALSO: Common railway station row from Aquino govt now resolved
[LOCATION BETWEEN SM NORTH EDSA AND AYALA’S TRINOMA]
[RELATED: Govt mulling over LRT-2 dismantling, to convert into bus rapid transit]


AUGUST 13 -A protracted common railway station row that erupted between a big mall developer and the transportation department under President Aquino has finally been resolved, a senior government official said Friday.
“I think by the end of this month, we will sign a memorandum of agreement,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said during a business forum organized by Colliers International. The issue, which grew complex because of the number of private sector interests involved, centered on where a train station that will link the busy Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and the Light Rail Transit Line 1 in Quezon City would be located. LRT-1 and MRT-3 serve close to a million passengers a day. Tugade did not specify the station’s exact location, but said it would be “in between” the SM North Edsa and Trinoma shopping malls operated by SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Ayala Land Inc., respectively. Apart from both developers, also affected by the issue were Light Rail Manila Corp., a venture between Ayala and Manuel V. Pangilinan’s group that operates LRT-1, and San Miguel Corp., which is building the MRT-7 linking Quezon City to Bulacan that would eventually connect to the common station. “It will be in the middle so passengers would not have to walk far,” Tugade added. Pressed for more details, Tugade said he could not say more since an agreement was not yet signed. The transport chief added that he was wary about certain “relationship provisions” between the signing parties. Company officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday. The row stemmed from a 2014 decision of the transportation department, then headed by Secretary Joseph Abaya, to move the station’s location from the SM City North Edsa Annex to an area near Trinoma. Abaya argued this was cheaper to build by about P1 billion. READ MORE...RELATED, Govt mulling over LRT-2 dismantling, to convert into bus rapid transit...

ALSO: E-cigarette perfect alternative to smoking — expert
[ALSO By Boo Chanco: COA - MMDA failed us]


AUGUST 11 -Logic Smoke Disposable Logic Smoke Disposable
E-cigarettes growth in many countries are hampered because of the negative issues hurled against the technology that is untrue but worse full of lies, an expert in the technology said in a media forum. Dr. Riccardo Polosa, director of the Institute for Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology of the University of Catania in Italy, said many are unaware that E-cigarettes is one of the best alternative to smoking as 10 puffs of regular cigarette are only equivalent to one puff at this technology.The technology is a handheld electronic device that vaporizes a flavored liquid, which the user inhales. Using e-cigarettes is often called vaping. The fluid in the e-cigarette, called e-liquid, is usually made of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and flavorings. Users of this technology have the freedom to put the nicotine to their preferred level; choose flavor; and to choose the apparatus that will enable them to use it. “The problem is some media outlets say otherwise. They said it’s harmful and expensive” Polosa told select reporters at the forum held at Shangri-La hotel in Makati yesterday.According to him, the biggest reason why there is a negative campaign against this technology is the consumption of tobacco gets lower in many countries due to increasing number of E-cigarette customers. Based on numerous studies he led, E-cigarette has 95 percent less toxic than conventional cigarette. This technology also doesn’t post harm to people around where E-cigarette is consumed. This situation is called second hand smoking in medical parlance. Unlike conventional cigarettes that the user usually gets fat after quitting it, E-cigarettes don’t cause its users to gain weight after cessation. This technology is also cheaper in the long run compared to ordinary cigarettes. In most European countries, the price of liquid or flavor is only five euros. The savings are usually felt after six months of using it, according to the doctor. READ MORE...ALSO, COA: MMDA failed us )2015 COA AUDIT REPORT)...

ALSO: By Babe Romualdez - Insulating the president’s remarks
[RELATED: Duterte’s hit list: Who’s next? 'Oligarchs', Ongpin is first]


AUGUST 11 -By Babe G. Romualdez
President Duterte has been known to make “off-the-cuff” remarks, with his spokesmen more often than not having to explain that the way the words came out does not necessarily reflect what he really meant. One recent occasion was during his visit to a military camp in Cebu that was aired live on television where he made sensitive remarks about US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and US Secretary of State John Kerry. As expected, the US State Department has asked for a clarification regarding the “inappropriate” remarks against their senior American diplomat who, by the way, also happens to be the official representative of US President Barack Obama in the Philippines. We have to remember that in the same token that if the president of the United States made some derogatory remarks about our Philippine ambassador to Washington — we would very likely also demand for an explanation. By the way, in the diplomatic world, any public comment made by a head of state is considered national policy. The fact is, we were told the president has been holding some resentment against the United States for over a decade, ever since an American suspected of causing the explosion in a hotel in Davao City mysteriously disappeared from his hospital room, supposedly spirited away by the CIA. This angered then-mayor Duterte who blamed the US and accused it of violating Philippine sovereignty — and this hostility has been carried over to the outgoing US Ambassador whose comments regarding the female Australian missionary further stoked the resentment of Duterte. This, by the way, was explained to us by a close ally of the president. We have no doubt President Duterte was playing up to the soldiers when he said what he said. As expected, the president’s communications team tried to do some damage control by presenting an edited version of his speech – which actually became even more damaging. Presidential “off the cuff” comments are really nothing new. READ MORE...RELATED, Duterte’s hit list: Who’s next?...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Government halts operations of small-scale miners


In a briefing yesterday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said all small-scale mining activities operating outside the Minahang Bayan were illegal in nature and that they should be stopped immediately. ABS-CBN PR/File/Released

MANILA, AUGUST 15, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Louise Maureen Simeon August 9, 2016 - 12:00am - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered a stop to small-scale mining operations, halting about 60 percent of total gold production in the country.

In a briefing on Monday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said all small-scale mining activities operating outside the Minahang Bayan were illegal in nature and that they should be stopped immediately.

“We don’t need gold. Gold is not an essential thing for survival. What we need is clean air and clean water,” Lopez said.

Lopez issued this statement in response to complaints by major mining firms she was focusing more on large-scale mining and neglecting illegal small-scale operations.

“We are not selective in auditing,” she said.

A Minahang Bayan centralizes processing of minerals within a zone where the government will be able to monitor gold production by small-scale miners better.

It helps the government curb illegal mining and mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of indiscriminate mining operations in the country.

In April 2015, the DENR issued the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991 in line with the mining policy of the previous administration.

Under Department Administrative Order 03-2015, the revised IRR institutionalized and implemented reforms in the Philippine mining sector, laying down policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining in the utilization of mineral resources.

With the IRR, the DENR looks forward to the small-scale mining operations in the country transforming into a formal and responsible sector of the industry.

At present, there are only three existing Minahang Bayan in the country located in Masbate, Davao Oriental and Samar.

There are about 300,000 to 400,000 small-scale miners operating in 40 mineral-rich provinces nationwide, majority of which operates outside the Minahang Bayan.

The DENR, together with seven other agencies, have created a task force that would target environmental offenders and ensure strict implementation of laws and regulations on environmental protection.

READ MORE...

Among the other agencies include the Department of Interior and Local Government, National Defense, Transportation, Justice, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The MOA included a Declaration of Cooperation where agencies agreed to respond to verified reports of large-scale environmental violations referred by the task force.

The agencies also agreed to enhance implementation of environmental laws “from deterrence, investigation, arrest, searches, prosecution and enforcement of judgments against illegal natural resources extraction and degradation, and for the protection of environmental quality.”

All parties shall ensure that communities facing environmental injustice, harassment or threats are protected from environmental law violators.

The task force shall also assess law enforcement needs and operations, form multi-sectoral law enforcement teams as needed and conduct monthly action planning to address major environmental issues or deal with intractable violators.

It shall also provide “quick response to urgent calls” from the DENR secretary, keep operations and investigations approved by authorized officers confidential, and “set up checkpoints, camps or stations to be manned by multi-sectoral teams in flash points and transit points of illegally harvested or hunted natural resources.”

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

DENR chief vows to find alternative jobs for those laid off by mining firms by Madelaine B. Miraflor August 11, 2016 Share2 Tweet2 Share0 Email0 Share39


DENR logo (MB File Photo) DENR logo (MB File Photo)

As more and more mining companies face suspension, the government is now trying to come up with ways to provide alternative livelihood for people who have lost their jobs due to the ongoing audit.

But this doesn’t change how Environment Secretary Gina Lopez sees the mining industry and its inability to employ more Filipinos.

Lopez said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is not forgetting its responsibilities to local mine workers, especially those who have lost their jobs after the government suspended the companies they are working for.

She then reiterated that the mining industry is not labor-intensive, citing only 250,000 Filipino workers are employed in the industry or 0.6 percent of total employment in the country.

“This is how unsustainability manifests itself. Irresponsible mining has a perverse vicious cycle: mining businesses produce mining-related jobs for affected communities. Obviously, communities stay long after mining operations close down. The people are not given sustainable livelihoods that outlive mining,” the environmental chief said.

At present, the industry consists of 40 large-scale metallic mining companies, 65 non-metallic firms, and an estimated 300,000 small-scale and illegal operations throughout the country.

Lopez said the DENR could tap the displaced workers for the National Greening Program (NGP) as part of the agency’s move to shift focus from being a regulatory arm to a more development-driven agency that will utilize its resources to pave the way for sustainable development.

REFORESTRATION, ECOTOURISM

A flagship reforestation program of the agency, the NGP is geared to cover 1.6 million hectares with trees by the end of 2016.

The forest rehabilitation initiative also doubles as an anti-poverty measure due to its cash-for-work component.

In November last year, then President Benigno Aquino III issued an executive order creating the “Expanded NGP” in a bid to reforest “all remaining unproductive, denuded and degraded forestlands” from 2016 to 2028.

Lopez said the DENR is also eyeing other revenue streams as an alternative to mining such as developing ecotourism spots throughout the country citing the La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City and Palawan as models.

La Mesa Ecopark reportedly generates P40 million in revenues annually while the government of Palawan generated P19 billion from tourism in 2015, steadily increasing every year.

“These are superb examples of ecotourism following the basic concept of preserving the country’s natural resources without extraction while generating revenues that can possibly beat the 1 percent of GDP the mining industry is giving the country,” Lopez said.

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RELATED(2) FROM PHILSTAR

Semirara next on Gina’s hit list By Louise Maureen Simeon and Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 12, 2016 - 12:00am 18 814 googleplus0 2


BIGGEST PIT. The Panian Mine operated by Semirara Mining Corp is the biggest open-pit coal mine in the Philippines. Image from NASA

MANILA, Philippines - Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has given Consunji-led Semirara Mining and Power Corp., the country’s lone coal mine, an ultimatum to explain or face suspension of its environment compliance certificate (ECC).

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will issue a show cause order for Semirara to explain why violations were committed as per complaints of the local communities in Antique. The order covers all its pits.

“Semirara has to get its act together,” Lopez said.

“While it’s producing the coal needed by the country, they can’t adversely affect the lives of the farmers and fishermen.”

However, Lopez said closing Semirara will not be easy, as Semirara produces 90 percent of coal supply and supplies 30 percent of the power requirement in the country.

“They are not that easy to close because if we do that it will affect the electric supply of the country,” she said.

“But the problem is that the boiler of their coal plants is not designed to take on high quality coal. They are just using low grade coal that’s making people sick.”

The DENR said various grounds for possible suspension include degradation of water quality, siltation of marine environment, damage of coral areas, presence of toxic contaminants in the water, displacement of local residents and unsafe working conditions of workers, among others.

“Their mine wastes are dumped along the coasts and the issue of pollution has to be addressed as well,” Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno, head of the mining audit team, said.

In a statement, the company said it is yet to receive a copy of any order from DENR and will respond accordingly once complete official information is received.

“We would like to reiterate that SMPC has been fully complying with all relevant laws and regulations,” the company said. “Our mining and environmental protocols also conform with the conditions of our ECCs.

“We hope that our company will be accorded due process throughout any pre- and formal audit process of the government.”

Tampakan

Meanwhile, the $5.9-billion Tampakan project in South Cotabato, dubbed as potentially the country’s biggest foreign investment and believed to be one of the largest gold prospects in the world, remains on the brink of cancellation even before it starts.

Based on initial review, violations were found, especially on the issue of certificate of land ownership award (CLOA).

Jasareno said the agrarian reform department issued the CLOAs to 3,000 families in an area where the proposed open pit mine is to be located.

“The review is in its final stage. DENR will be serving Tampakan a show cause order why its ECC should not be revoked,” he said.

Lopez said former president Benigno Aquino III was the one who issued the ECC for the Tampakan project.

“We are eventually canceling it after seven days if they fail,” she said.

“The project should never have been given an ECC. It’s not even an economic issue, it’s a peace issue.

“DENR did not really want to issue the ECC. But it was brought up to the President and they mandated the ECC. Now, I’m reviewing why they gave it at all.”

Operator Sagittarius Mines Inc. has secured the declaration of mining feasibility and is a few steps closer to operation.

The Tampakan mine development is targeted to start operations in the next two years, as part of the aggregate $14.75-billion pegged investments for 2018.

The Tampakan deposit contains an estimated 2.94 billion tons of mineral resource containing 15 million tons of copper and 18 million ounces of gold.

The prospective mine is projected to produce 375,000 tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per year in the initial mine-life of 17 years, with potential for mine-life extension.

The project has been on hold since the province banned open-pit mining in mid-2010.

The project site covers an area of around 10,000 hectares spanning Tampakan, South Cotabato; Columbio in Sultan Kudarat; Kiblawan in Davao del Sur; and Malungon in Sarangani.

Value of the mine’s production is estimated at $37 billion over a period of 20 years.

Lopez said technical audit alone is not enough as social, environmental and health aspects are being considered as well.

The DENR is set to release the result of the mining audit of large and small-scale companies third week of this month.

The DENR has also suspended two more mining companies in Eastern Samar in line with the ongoing mining audit by the agency.

It has ordered the suspension of Mt. Sinai Exploration Mining and Development Corp. and EMIR Mineral Resources Corp., both in Homonhon, Eastern Samar.

“The audit team has already recommended suspension, so we will suspend them,” Lopez said.

Based on the audit, Mt. Sinai, which mines chromite, caused siltation of the coastal waters and the non-practice of engineered mining methods.

Meanwhile, nickel-producing EMIR Minerals had the same violations as Mt. Sinai, particularly on siltation of coastal waters.

In 2015, EMIR Minerals produced 150,000 tons of nickel while Mt. Sinai produced 50,000 tons of chromite, all exported to China.

To date, the DENR has suspended 10 mining companies and is on track to finish the audit of all 42 metallic mines within the month.

“All suspensions due to the audit are indefinite. The DENR will still be looking into the violations depending on their gravity,” Jasareno said.

UNDER REVIEW

Other mining companies under extensive review are the Canadian-owned TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. in Zamboanga del Norte, St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. in Compostela Valley, San Roque Metals Inc. in Agusan del Norte, Greenstone Resources Corp., Silangan Mine and Taganito Mine in Surigao del Norte.

La Mesa housing project, too Lopez said the move to suspend and subject to review ECCs issued during the previous administration would help DENR identify more companies that have committed violations.

The housing project of Century Communities Corp. within the La Mesa Eco-Watershed in Quezon City is among those issued show-cause orders to explain within seven days why it still lacks the necessary requirements.

The project is said to affect the watershed, which is a protected area.

“This will involve putting up 97 buildings in a 6,000 square-meter area that will affect 12 million people,” Lopez noted in a news conference.

Century reportedly failed “to meet certain conditions of the ECC such as submitting an enhanced revised monitoring plan, ground modeling studies to assess water availability and ground water contamination.”

Century was also asked to explain why it shouldn’t be penalized P50,000 for every violation.

The DENR said that eventually, it is set to change the process of issuing ECCs.

Lopez said that in the near future, the DENR under her leadership will impose conditions that must be met first before the issuance of an ECC.

“There could be a change in the policy. For the meantime, we will follow the rules, we will follow the current process by first issuing them show-cause orders,” she said.

“It is possible that one of the conditions we will impose for the ECC issuance is for the applicant to come up with a program targeting to benefit nearby communities.”


INQUIRER

No license renewal, extension for Ongpin's PhilWeb Corp
[ONGPIN-LED FIRM SEEKS DIALOGUE WITH PAGCOR CHAIR]
By: Daxim L. Lucas @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 05:00 AM August 9th, 2016


ROBERTO ONGPIN, ANDREA DOMINGO OF PAGCOR.PH

The Philippine government is set to deal embattled online gaming firm PhilWeb Corp. what could be a lethal blow, with the head of the state casino regulator saying the company should not expect a fresh government mandate when its operating license expires tomorrow.

In a text message, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chair Andrea Domingo said the contract of the firm controlled by businessman Roberto Ongpin was set to end on Aug. 10, 2016, after having been provisionally renewed for a month.

“It will not be extended or renewed,” she said, adding that PhilWeb should cease operations in its 286 e-Games outlets nationwide starting on the following day, Aug. 11.

President Duterte has directed the government to clamp down on online gambling and has also singled out Ongpin as an “oligarch” whom he wanted to “destroy.” PhilWeb’s share price on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has dropped from P24.40 on the day Duterte took office to only P5.13 Monday, representing a decline of 79 percent over a six-week period.

The company’s shareholders have since then lost P26.7 billion worth of market capitalization and the firm was worth only P8.3 billion at the end of Monday’s trading session.

In response to the government’s clampdown, PhilWeb Monday said it has written Pagcor’s Domingo requesting for a meeting to clarify the situation.

READ MORE...

“PhilWeb is merely a software provider to Pagcor for its network of e-Games outlets,” PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes said. “We are not online gaming. Our software cannot be played from homes or offices.”

Valdes also noted that each e-Games outlet is owned by an individual entrepreneur whose gaming license is issued by Pagcor directly to them. Each e-Games outlet therefore pays all taxes, as does PhilWeb itself.

“The e-Games network contributed a total of P2.1 billion to Pagcor in 2015 and over P14 billion in the past 14 years,” he added.

“We feel that President Duterte may have been misinformed,” Valdes said. “Thus, we are seeking the meeting with Domingo so that we may fully explain our side. As a publicly listed company, our records are fully open to public scrutiny and are available for a full investigation at any time.”

“I sincerely hope that the situation can be clarified,” he added. “Over 5,000 employees work in the e-Games outlets and it would be heartbreaking to see these people’s livelihoods affected. There are also over 1,500 stockholders in PhilWeb and many of these mom-and-pop investors cannot afford to have their savings wiped out overnight.”

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

PhilWeb shutting down today By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 10, 2016 - 12:00am 0 672 googleplus0 0


PhilWeb is a listed gaming technology company majority owned by businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, whom President Duterte singled out last week in his pitch against oligarchs in the country. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines – PhilWeb Corp. will now have to close shop after gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) refused to renew its license.

PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes met yesterday afternoon with Pagcor chairman Andrea Domingo to appeal for an extension on grounds that it was not an online gaming firm amid the Duterte administration’s crackdown on online gambling.

However, Pagcor still decided against renewing PhilWeb’s contract.

“We are now winding operations,” Valdes told The STAR.

PhilWeb’s operations of its main business, the e-Games network, will end at 11:59 p.m. today upon the expiration of its license.

PhilWeb is a listed gaming technology company majority owned by businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, whom President Duterte singled out last week in his pitch against oligarchs in the country.

Ongpin and his daughter Anna Bettina Ongpin resigned as PhilWeb’s chairman and vice-chairman, respectively soon after Duterte’s vow to destroy oligarchs.

The company is behind e-Games stations, which are Internet cafes exclusively dedicated to casino games. With technology provided by PhilWeb, patrons can choose from more than 300 casino games, including baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and sports betting.

There are currently 268 operating e-Games cafes across the country, a majority of which are owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs.

READ MORE...

Valdes said without a license to operate, PhilWeb would have to shut down all operations, including 286 e-Games outlets operated by Pagcor licensees.

The impending shutdown of the e-Games network will likely cause the sudden closure of the publicly listed company, Valdes said, and also result in enormous economic and social costs.

The e-Games network has at least 5,000 employees. In addition, small and medium enterprises that supply goods and services to each e-Games outlet would also suffer from the shutdown, Valdes said.

In 2015, the e-Games network contributed P2.1 billion to Pagcor and over P14 billion in the past 14 years.

Valdes on Tuesday said Duterte might have been misinformed on the business of PhilWeb.

“PhilWeb is merely a software provider to Pagcor for its network of e-Games outlets,” Valdes said. “We are not online gaming. Our software cannot be played from homes or offices.”

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Lightning-struck Ongpin selling PhilWeb stake By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Businessman Roberto Ongpin speaks at an emergency meeting of PhilWeb Corp. yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines – Reeling from what he likened to being hit by lightning, embattled businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin said yesterday he would sell to the highest bidder his stake in electronic gaming firm PhilWeb Corp.

President Duterte singled out the former chairman of PhilWeb, which ceased operations yesterday, when he vowed last week to “destroy” the country’s oligarchs.

“Exactly one week ago, on August 3rd, I was struck by lightning and named as an ‘oligarch that must be destroyed’,” Ongpin said in an emergency meeting yesterday of PhilWeb Corp.

“I am totally mystified by why I was hit by this lightning. I have never met the President,” said Ongpin.

Asked if Duterte’s description was accurate, Ongpin, who said he was born poor, replied, “Am I an oligarch? If that means having money, well I have money, but I made it in an honest way.”

The 79-year-old Ongpin also lamented that while his persecution under the Aquino administration has ended, he has found himself facing another battle.

“I heaved a sigh of relief when the past administration stepped down, but alas how wrong I was!” Ongpin said.

But he said he remains optimistic on the Duterte administration.

He hopes that exiting PhilWeb would give the company a better chance of having its license renewed by gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

“Hopefully If I’m out of the picture, the lightning will be deflected,” Ongpin said.

Ongpin holds 771,749,896 shares of PhilWeb, which is equivalent to 53.76 percent of the total outstanding shares of the company. He commenced yesterday an open auction for all of his shares.

“The auction will be for a period of one week (from Aug. 10) and will end at noon on Wednesday, next week, Aug. 17,” Ongpin said, adding that the auction is open to every financially capable person or entity who wishes to submit a bid.

The winning bidder will have the option to withdraw the bid if they are unable to obtain a renewal of the PhilWeb license to operate on or before Aug. 31.

PhilWeb’s license to operate expired yesterday and was not renewed by Pagcor despite its appeals.

READ MORE...

As such, the company is forced to wind down operations and is officially on shutdown. It also implemented a voluntary trading suspension of its shares in the Philippine Stock Exchange until Aug. 31.

During yesterday’s meeting, PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes said the company would renegotiate with Pagcor for a license.

“The contract needs to be renegotiated. That is a process that can take a week or two weeks,” he added.

The company is behind e-Games Stations, which are Internet cafés exclusively dedicated to casino games.

With technology provided by PhilWeb, patrons can choose from more than 300 casino games, including baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and sports betting.

There were 268 operating e-Games cafés across the country, a majority of which were owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs.

The e-Games network has at least 5,000 employees. In addition, small and medium enterprises that supply goods and services to each e-Games outlet would also suffer from the shutdown.

In 2015, the e-Games network contributed P2.1 billion to Pagcor and over P14 billion in the past 14 years.

PhilWeb’s five-year intellectual property license agreement with Pagcor lapsed on July 11 but the gaming regulator extended this until yesterday.

“I am hopeful that PhilWeb will be able to restart,” Ongpin said.


INQUIRER

Common railway station row resolved
LOCATION BETWEEN SM NORTH EDSA AND AYALA’S TRINOMA

By: Miguel R. Camus
@inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:24 AM August 13th, 2016

A protracted common railway station row that erupted between a big mall developer and the transportation department under President Aquino has finally been resolved, a senior government official said Friday.

“I think by the end of this month, we will sign a memorandum of agreement,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said during a business forum organized by Colliers International.

The issue, which grew complex because of the number of private sector interests involved, centered on where a train station that will link the busy Metro Rail Transit Line 3 and the Light Rail Transit Line 1 in Quezon City would be located. LRT-1 and MRT-3 serve close to a million passengers a day.

Tugade did not specify the station’s exact location, but said it would be “in between” the SM North Edsa and Trinoma shopping malls operated by SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Ayala Land Inc., respectively.

Apart from both developers, also affected by the issue were Light Rail Manila Corp., a venture between Ayala and Manuel V. Pangilinan’s group that operates LRT-1, and San Miguel Corp., which is building the MRT-7 linking Quezon City to Bulacan that would eventually connect to the common station.

“It will be in the middle so passengers would not have to walk far,” Tugade added.

Pressed for more details, Tugade said he could not say more since an agreement was not yet signed. The transport chief added that he was wary about certain “relationship provisions” between the signing parties. Company officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

The row stemmed from a 2014 decision of the transportation department, then headed by Secretary Joseph Abaya, to move the station’s location from the SM City North Edsa Annex to an area near Trinoma. Abaya argued this was cheaper to build by about P1 billion.

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The station was originally meant to be located near SM’s property, based on an agreement SM Prime had with the Light Rail Transit Authority in 2009, or during the term of President Arroyo. SM Prime promptly sued the department in 2014 for breach of contract, while scoring the government for its unilateral decision.

Meanwhile, the construction of the new station could not proceed since the Supreme Court ordered a temporary restraining order on its transfer.

Compromise talks were initiated by Abaya, but a resolution was never reached until President Aquino stepped down last June. At one point, Abaya had suggested building two common stations—one each to be located near SM North Edsa and Trinoma—to urge SM to withdraw its lawsuit.

The two-station plan was eventually abandoned as private sector stakeholders said it would inconvenience commuters.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Govt mulling over LRT-2 dismantling, to convert into bus rapid transit posted August 12, 2016 at 11:58 pm by Darwin G. Amojelar


Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade

The Transportation Department said on Friday it is mulling over the conversion of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2 into a bus rapid transit system similar to those of Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.

“I’m thinking of converting the LRT-2 into a BRT system wherein we will remove the rails. It’s not new, I copied it to Hong Kong and Shanghai. If you put the right buses, if you do the right technology, there can even be more and it’s cheaper,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade told reporters.

Tugade said the headway for BRT was shorter than the average 4.5 minutes for LRT.

“It’s not yet final. We are seriously studying it,” Tugade said, adding the LRT Line 2 was now 14 years old.

The existing LRT2 is a 13.8-kilometer mass transit line, which runs across five cities in Metro Manila, namely Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, San Juan and Manila. It passes the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda Street and Recto Avenue.

The LRT2 was built at a cost of P31 billion in soft loans funded mainly by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The previous government had awarded a P2.27-billon contract to construct the extension of the existing LRT 2 to Masinag in Antipolo.

The LRT 2 east extension project involves adding 4.2 kilometers to the railway from the existing Santolan station at Marcos Highway, Pasig City, all the way to the intersection of Marcos and Sumulong highways in Masinag, Antipolo.

The Aquino administration also planned to exit the LRT Line 2 to Pier 4 in Manila from Recto.

The project will have a total length of 3.02 kilometers and add three stations, including Tutuban (located next to the Cluster Mall); Divisoria (west of Recto Avenue and Asuncion Street intersection) and Pier 4 (located 50 meters north of Zaragoza Street).

Earlier, the government awarded the detailed engineering, design and construction supervision contract for the 23-kilometer Cebu BRT system to Kunhwa Engineering & Consulting Co. Ltd.

The project will entail building segregated BRT bus-ways from Bulacao to Ayala, with a link to the South Road Property, a feeder service between Ayala and Talamban with signal priority, 33 stations to service 330,000 people per day in 2015, 176 buses, an area stop light control for the entire Cebu City and a central transport control room.

Once completed, the project can field 433,000 individual trips per day, resulting in savings of 25 minutes of travel time and P7.50 in fares.

Compared with a rail service, a BRT would cost 5 to 10 percent lower and take less time of two years to construct.

The Transportation Department will implement the project, which is scheduled to start commercial operations by 2018.


TRIBUNE

E-cigarette perfect alternative to smoking — expert
Written by Ed Velasco Thursday, 11 August 2016 00:00


Logic Smoke Disposable

E-cigarettes growth in many countries are hampered because of the negative issues hurled against the technology that is untrue but worse full of lies, an expert in the technology said in a media forum.

Dr. Riccardo Polosa, director of the Institute for Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology of the University of Catania in Italy, said many are unaware that E-cigarettes is one of the best alternative to smoking as 10 puffs of regular cigarette are only equivalent to one puff at this technology.

The technology is a handheld electronic device that vaporizes a flavored liquid, which the user inhales. Using e-cigarettes is often called vaping. The fluid in the e-cigarette, called e-liquid, is usually made of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and flavorings.

Users of this technology have the freedom to put the nicotine to their preferred level; choose flavor; and to choose the apparatus that will enable them to use it.

“The problem is some media outlets say otherwise. They said it’s harmful and expensive” Polosa told select reporters at the forum held at Shangri-La hotel in Makati yesterday.

According to him, the biggest reason why there is a negative campaign against this technology is the consumption of tobacco gets lower in many countries due to increasing number of E-cigarette customers.

Based on numerous studies he led, E-cigarette has 95 percent less toxic than conventional cigarette. This technology also doesn’t post harm to people around where E-cigarette is consumed. This situation is called second hand smoking in medical parlance.

Unlike conventional cigarettes that the user usually gets fat after quitting it, E-cigarettes don’t cause its users to gain weight after cessation. This technology is also cheaper in the long run compared to ordinary cigarettes.

In most European countries, the price of liquid or flavor is only five euros. The savings are usually felt after six months of using it, according to the doctor.

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He gave as example in his country of origin, Italy, where this technology’s users are down to just 400,000 from 800,000 as of 2013. “In that year, tobacco consumption was down by 10 percent, it caused a lot of money supposed to be for government from excise taxes,” Polosa explained.

On the contrary, United Kingdom is considered as the role model in E-cigarette because it hasn’t raised taxes on items associated with E-cigarette. “UK has 2.3 million E-cigarette users. Ninety-five percent of these are now non-smokers,” he said.

Naysayers of this technology also don’t realize that this technology is one of the tools for the so-called tobacco harm reduction (THR) aside from snus. Snus is an oral tobacco product that comes in a pouch of some sort, designed to be placed between the gums and upper lip.

Snus is not chewed and requires no spitting. The latter is common in some European countries, particularly Sweden. Based on researches he led, Polosa said E-cigarette has the biggest potential to become the biggest tool for THR.

The most simple argument why E-cigarette is best alternative to smoking is it mimics real cigarette.

On top of the positive effects of the technology, Polosa said it is overshadowed by the negative campaign. “I really want the media to focus on benefits of E-cigarettes rather than potential risks” he said.

When asked if there is a great business potential for this technology, the doctor said “enormous.”

-------------------------------

ALSO BY BOO CHANCO - PHILSTAR BUSINESS

COA: MMDA failed us DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 12, 2016 - 12:00am 1 8 googleplus0 1 Last month,


Boo Chanco

Philippine STAR carried a story on a COA report which said MMDA failed to do its job.

I just got a copy of the COA report and it documents what we have always suspected about the failures of MMDA.

The 2015 audit report observed that MMDA did not make optimum use of its allocated budget to achieve its targeted goals on transport and traffic management. COA also talks of unutilized, long dormant trust funds that had to be sent back to the National Treasury.

COA criticized MMDA’s failure to craft a detailed implementation plan on traffic management which should have integrated measures suggested by the various studies on transport and traffic management.

“The traffic situation in Metro Manila had been a perennial problem which worsened through time. Media reports and opinion of the public from day to day reflect dissatisfaction on Metro Manila’s traffic condition and on the inability of the MMDA to manage traffic,” state auditors said.

The comprehensive audit report reviewed the mandate of MMDA under RA 7924 which created the agency.

MMDA’s purpose under the law covers traffic and transport management including formulation, coordination and monitoring of policies, standards, programs and projects to rationalize the existing transport operations, infrastructure requirement, the use of thoroughfares and promotion of safe and convenient movement of persons and goods, provision for the mass transport system and the institution of a system to regulate road users, administration and implementation of all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services and traffic education programs, including the institution of a single ticketing system in Metropolitan Manila.

WOW! That’s a mouthful. That seems to imply that the horrible traffic problems we have is really MMDA’s failure. I don’t even see the role of the Department of Transportation in the MMDA.

Even the provision of a mass transport system is MMDA’s responsibility on paper. If Congress intended to really give MMDA all the responsibilities in that list, it should have given a budget to MMDA that is commensurate to the responsibility… but then even with the modest budget MMDA now has, it failed to utilize well.

Anyway, based on the MMDA Charter, the COA audit team said the MMDA’s failure to discharge its functions under the law led to random and disorganized solutions in handling traffic problems. Thus, the COA report observed, instead of being understood by the public and other stakeholders, such condition elicits impatience and dissatisfaction despite all the efforts MMDA employs in traffic management.

COA insists that a comprehensive implementation plan is imperative and MMDA doesn’t have that. Addressing the traffic problem, the audit agency asserts, requires MMDA to have effective planning and management, and to use more science.

COA is looking for an implementation plan that identifies the activities on how Metro Manila roads will be provided with traffic engineering, enforcement, education and emergency response services.

Such a plan, according to COA, should identify the responsible offices/officials, costs, time frames, risks and how these risks would be managed and specific performance and success indicators. “A written traffic management plan serves as proof the activities being done follow a defined direction and are pointed towards the intended goal.

“It will also facilitate verification of the progress of implementation at any given time. In the absence of detailed targets specified in a written implementation plan, it cannot be ascertained if the activities and projects already implemented were indeed directed to its target goals at certain periods of time and how it is to the ultimate intended outcome.”

In its reply to COA, MMDA said they did try to produce such a plan, but failed due to rapid changing traffic conditions that made the study obsolete before actual implementation. MMDA cited the rapid increase in number of vehicles and fast development in Metro Manila as factors that, in effect, made them give up planning at all.

The reply confirms that MMDA pretty much operates on an ad hoc basis, with little thought to what they actually do out there in our streets. This reminds me of the problem I cited last Monday about those plastic barriers on EDSA that creates more problems for motorists.

Here is a letter e-mailed to me by a reader, Danilo Cabalde:

Related to your PhilSTAR article dated Aug. 8, I was caught by surprise when going south from Connecticut corner EDSA that I could no longer use the EDSA/Ortigas flyover towards Pasig as the MMDA had extended their orange barrier up to the foot of the flyover on the corner of Ortigas-EDSA.

There used to be an opening before reaching the Shell station so motorists could easily maneuver towards the inner lane bound for the Pasig flyover.

I was hoping that with the change, I can make a left turn on Ortigas Ave. but there’s a NO LEFT TURN signage, leaving me no option but to go straight towards Shaw Blvd. It was an agony! This is a result of poor planning by the inept MMDA personnel.

I guess if MMDA did more consultations with affected motorists or placed billboards and signs announcing the new traffic rule way in advance, maybe people will understand. They have been experimenting too on a portion of Julia Vargas near Megamall on whether to make the lanes on the San Miguel side one way or two way. But the Ortigas folks had billboards and signs weeks before the experiments went into effect.

Anyway, COA also talked of the Dream Plan initiated by Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA which P-Noy approved. The audit agency wondered how that was integrated in the overall plans of MMDA.

Crisanto Saruca Jr., chief of the MMDA Traffic Discipline Office, told PhilStar they welcome the five solutions proposed by JICA to address traffic congestion in the metropolis. “These proposals are good,” Saruca said but added that the government must consider existing support structures.

JICA proposed a restudy of the gateway airport options for Metro Manila, the feasibility of a Mega-Manila subway system, a reform of the road-based public transport system, secondary mass transport system lines and a redevelopment of the congested Manila North Harbor.

Another good observation of COA has to do with the lack of training of MMDA field personnel. “Traffic personnel were not provided with sufficient training but were deployed to handle traffic and no adequate system of performance evaluation was made after their deployment.

“Traffic enforcement and maintenance of smooth traffic flow require a certain level of competence and adequate knowledge of pertinent laws, rules and regulations and standard procedures as well as special skills. It is essential that all personnel hired and given the said responsibilities possess the required competence and are given necessary education and training to enable them to perform their duties and responsibilities well.”

What can I say? No wonder MMDA just plays around with those orange traffic barriers on EDSA with no obvious justification. Everything COA observed in its report is basic stuff. MMDA must professionalize its staff and its manner of operations. They cannot be as haphazard as they were in closing down a good part of EDSA with those orange barriers without due regard to the needs of motorists using it.

Maybe MMDA needs a permanent Chairman who will be responsible to Transport Secretary Art Tugade. Indeed Art should read the COA report because he will get ideas on how he can accomplish his promised 100 day improvement in traffic by getting MMDA up to Art’s high standards of performance.


PHILSTAR

Insulating the president’s remarks SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Babe G. Romualdez

President Duterte has been known to make “off-the-cuff” remarks, with his spokesmen more often than not having to explain that the way the words came out does not necessarily reflect what he really meant.

One recent occasion was during his visit to a military camp in Cebu that was aired live on television where he made sensitive remarks about US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

As expected, the US State Department has asked for a clarification regarding the “inappropriate” remarks against their senior American diplomat who, by the way, also happens to be the official representative of US President Barack Obama in the Philippines.

We have to remember that in the same token that if the president of the United States made some derogatory remarks about our Philippine ambassador to Washington — we would very likely also demand for an explanation. By the way, in the diplomatic world, any public comment made by a head of state is considered national policy.

The fact is, we were told the president has been holding some resentment against the United States for over a decade, ever since an American suspected of causing the explosion in a hotel in Davao City mysteriously disappeared from his hospital room, supposedly spirited away by the CIA.

This angered then-mayor Duterte who blamed the US and accused it of violating Philippine sovereignty — and this hostility has been carried over to the outgoing US Ambassador whose comments regarding the female Australian missionary further stoked the resentment of Duterte. This, by the way, was explained to us by a close ally of the president.

We have no doubt President Duterte was playing up to the soldiers when he said what he said. As expected, the president’s communications team tried to do some damage control by presenting an edited version of his speech – which actually became even more damaging.

Presidential “off the cuff” comments are really nothing new.

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I remember stories told by my grandfather Miguel Romualdez, who was appointed mayor of Manila by governor-general Leonard Wood. The story goes that President Manuel L. Quezon routinely cursed the American governor-general, whom he despised. Back then, Quezon’s remarks were insulated by his media handlers. The Americans never knew President Quezon regularly berated Leonard Wood.

Although it is more difficult to do that nowadays because of social media, it is still incumbent upon the people around the president, specifically the communications team, to insulate such remarks. Anything the president says is multiplied a hundred million times and is often deemed public policy.

My unsolicited advice to the communications team: Whenever the president speaks to a group of people, it does not always have to be aired live on national television so that even if private individuals upload a video, it does not come out as an official issuance from the government. Foreign Secretary Jun Yasay and the rest of the Cabinet, including internationally respected Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and even FVR, can play a major role in trying to insulate the comments of the president especially when it comes to international relations.

All patriotic Filipinos love this country, and even those who were not part of the 16 million who voted President Duterte into office, want him to succeed for the sake of this nation. It’s a realization that in this global world, everyone will agree the Philippines has to maintain good relations with the community of nations, especially with our closest allies including the United States.

Senators impressed with Tugade

At yesterday’s Senate hearing on the proposed emergency powers for President Duterte, everyone including the senators were very impressed with Transportation Secretary Art Tugade who, in the words of Senator Ralph Recto, gave a very good overview presentation of the Department of Transportation’s roadmap.

Tugade’s no-nonsense, straightforward explanations were appreciated by viewers who now have high hopes of seeing “the light at the end of the road.” Among the well-received plans is the issuance of five-year driver’s licenses and manufacturing of license plates in-country instead of abroad.

When we spoke with Secretary Tugade last week, he said he is sending someone to Denmark to look at the machine for manufacturing car plates so government could do the production work. He also presented the DOT’s long-term plan and the status of the 30-day and 100-day action plans to see if they are on track.

The DOT’s goal, and rightly so, is to make public transport become the primary choice of all Filipinos — even vehicle owners — as their means of travel. This can be done with a high quality, comfortable mass transportation system via rail, bus rapid transit system including low-emission, modernized public utility vehicles, to name a few.

Lest he be accused of “oversimplification,” Tugade cautioned that the problems faced by the DOT, especially the issue of traffic, is not something that can be easily resolved even with the emergency powers Tugade promised that people would “feel and see the difference within those two years.” Judging from the reactions and comments by the senators, they see Art Tugade as a man who is as good as his word.

ALSO: BY BABE ROMUALDEZ

Duterte’s hit list: Who’s next? SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 9, 2016 - 12:00am 2 226 googleplus0 1


ONGPIN

In a surprise speech last week, Bobby Ongpin was called an “oligarch” by President Duterte and whom the President said he would destroy.

There was suspicion that a bulong-bulungan group is behind the President’s statement, sowing intrigue against many of the personalities being accused by the President. Because of this, a number of businessmen are now walking on eggshells, fearing that their names would be mentioned next as an oligarch, tax evader or some label by the president.

The President seems to be waging war on all fronts, starting with media which he said he would boycott (he has since thawed but is unhappy with one broadsheet), followed by the list of generals reportedly involved in illegal drugs.

Then he zeroed in on Joma Sison whom he berated as “mayabang” (arrogant) along with some indelicate personal insults thrown in.

Early on, he called the members of the Makati Business Club “mga ulol” after complaints that the President did not talk much about his economic agenda.

Even the United States has come under fire, specifically US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and US State Secretary John Kerry who the President recently had lunch with in Malacañang. But what is very disquieting for many is the President’s war against illegal drugs, with the list of names getting longer from the initial five generals to policemen, local government officials and now, even judges.

In particular, one of those called out by the President is my Ateneo classmate, Judge Antonio “Butter” Reyes of the Baguio Regional Trial Court as among those allegedly on the take.

This came as a shock to all of us, the classmates of Butter Reyes, whom we all know as an idealist, an honest and straight man.

In fact, Judge Reyes was the one who sentenced a known Baguio drug kingpin to 20 years in prison with a fine of P400,000 in 2013. The drug kingpin, who has been in the illegal drugs trade since the ’90s kept eluding authorities. In sentencing him, Judge Reyes said, “…this court has to condemn, as a matter of duty, the accused to a life in prison where he shall be of harm to society no more.”

It would seem someone does not like the judge’s strict adherence to the law since he had to dismiss a case against a drug suspect because of legal flaws committed by anti-narcotics operatives in December 2015.

In fact, the judge himself told the then-PNP chief to do something about these repeated “flaws” in affidavits and other anomalies/discrepancies because they weaken cases against drug suspects. This was also the observation in the 2016 US INCSR (International Narcotics Control Strategy Report) that said, “…Many drug-related cases are dismissed for failure to follow the strict evidentiary procedures.”

Many also wonder how accurate the President’s list is since one of the judges mentioned died in 2008, while two others are no longer active. A police official named in the “hit list” died in 2013.

Vice President Leni Robredo has been very vocal against extra-judicial killings but as one lawyer said, it is not only the literal extra-judicial killings we should be concerned about but also the extra-judicial killing of reputations through a virtual trial by publicity.

While no one will argue against the war on drugs that must be waged, there is also a major concern about the so-called raw information that is being passed on to President Duterte.

It goes without saying that the information should be substantial, factual and accurate because once the president of the Philippines publicly mentions the name of an individual linking him to drugs or some other criminal activity, that person’s reputation is killed – completely going down the drain. And it’s not only his life that could be destroyed, but also those of his family and loved ones because we know of so many who could not recover once their reputation has been tainted – even after later evidence shows their innocence.

At least our classmate, Judge Reyes, is looking forward to defending himself from this accusation. But at the same time, he – like many others who have been called out – now fears for his life, knowing just how sensitive the situation is. We all agree the war on drugs must be waged, but please let’s not declare war on the innocent.

Alcantara Group supported our new Olympic medalist

But now for some piece of good news. Filipinos all over the world are rejoicing at the silver finish of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz at the Rio Olympics in Brazil, ending the country’s 20-year Olympic medal drought.

The 25-year-old lass went to Rio in high spirits because of the support and recognition shown by the President and fellow Filipinos. She also got an additional morale boost when Mindanao-based independent power producer Alsons Power Group showed its support for Diaz, fellow lifter Nestor Colonia and coach Alfoncito Aldanete via a $3,500 cash donation.

The power company – whose Western Mindanao Power Corp. operates a 100-MW diesel power plant in Sangali while its 105-MW San Ramon Power Inc. baseload coal plant in Talisayan, Zamboanga City is targeted for construction this year – was only too happy to support the athletes who both hail from Zamboanga City.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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