SAFER BOCAUE FLUVIAL DRAWS THOUSANDS OF DEVOTEES  

In a display of strong religious faith, thousands of people from Central Luzon and Metro Manila flocked yesterday to the Bocaue river to participate in the annual celebration of the feast day of the venerated “Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa” in much safer and colorful fluvial rites. The fluvial parade featuring a three-tiered floating pagoda was revived 21 years after tragedy struck the religious gathering, killing more than 200 devotees.  Riding on boats, devotees follow the floating pagoda carrying the venerated Holy Cross of Wawa during the fluvial parade along a river in Bocaue, Bulacan, yesterday. The fluvial parade was held for the first time since July 2, 1993 when the pagoda tilted and sank, killing more than 200 devotees.  “There were huge smiles all around as the celebration turned out to be completely marvelous after 21 years,” said Ramon Lazaro, a native of this town. He was referring to the pagoda tragedy on July 2, 1993 during the Bocaue River Festival when the floating pagoda, with an estimated 1,000 devotees on board, sank. The Bocaue River Festival is an annual celebration held every first Sunday of July in honor of the Holy Cross which was found in the river in the 1800s. The festivities involve a decorated pagoda on top of a barge accompanied with small boats around it. A replica of the holy cross is placed at the top of the pagoda. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Public satisfaction for top gov’t officials dips — SWS  

Among the four highest government officials next to the President, only Vice President Jejomar Binay has seen a significant improvement in his satisfaction rating in the first quarter of 2014, as shown in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results. Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno received lower satisfaction ratings during the March 27-30 survey period. The results of the survey, which used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 respondents, were first published in BusinessWorld last Monday (July 7). It showed that 82 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with Binay’s performance in the first quarter, while 9 percent expressed dissatisfaction. This brings the Vice President’s net satisfaction rating to “excellent” +73 or 11 points higher than his net rating last December of “very good” +62. Net satisfaction ratings of +70 and above is classified by SWS as “excellent;” +50 to +69, “very good;” +30 to +49, “good;” +10 to +29, “moderate;” +9 to -9, “neutral;” -10 to -29, “poor;” -30 to -49, “bad;” -50 to -69, “very bad;” and -70 and below, “execrable.” Meanwhile, Drilon’s net rating declined by eight points from +25 to +17 (46 percent satisfied, 29 percent dissatisfied). The net ratings of Belmonte and Sereno also fell 17 points from +16 to -1 (32 percent satisfied, 32 percent dissatisfied), and down 12 points from +16 to +4 (34 percent satisfied, 30 percent dissatisfied), respectively. President Benigno S. Aquino III’s satisfaction rating for the first quarter, which was revealed last April, was +45 or lower by four points from his net satisfaction rating last December. As regards satisfaction rating for top government institutions, Senate’s score slumped to +26 (54 percent satisfied, 29 percent dissatisfied) from the +33, previously. It also declined in the House of Representatives from +26 to +18 (45 percent satisfied, 26 percent dissatisfied). Meanwhile, Supreme Court’s rating barely moved from December, lower by a point from +36 to +35 (56 percent satisfied, 21 percent dissatisfied), while the Cabinet as a whole maintained its +20 (45 percent satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied) score.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Fashion icon Aureo Alonzo passes away  

Yesterday, the country lost a fashion icon in Aureo Alonzo. The designer, one of last of the old guards in Philippine fashion, died of pneumonia yesterday morning at the Makati Medical Center. He would have celebrated his 86th birthday on July 19. According to his long-time friend and model Frannie Aguinaldo Jacinto, they were already planning his upcoming birthday. “We were about to invite all his friends, clients, and fellow designers for a merienda seña. He loved parties. He told us the last time we visited that we should plan his birthday party and even told us ‘you’re in charge!’ He really likes talking to his friends again. He has a sharp memory. He remembers everyone, even the smallest things like who had been your boyfriend.”  Margie Moran, one of Alonzo’s friends, was on schedule to visit him yesterday at the home, where he was being cared for by nuns. Alonzo was taken to the hospital by his adopted son Amiel. “We have been visiting him and taking him out to lunch. He was a man with passion for his work but with sincere humility to work with those he mentored and cared for. The models during his era will surely miss him.”  * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Times column: A nation consecrated to Mary: Upheaval Again?  

By Ricardo Saludo --Three decades ago, amid the national crisis following the 1983 assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., the present president’s father, the Philippine Church heeded the call of then-Pope John Paul II to declare 1985 a year dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As Jesuit theologian and Aquino family spiritual adviser Fr. Catalino Arevalo recalls, the country was alone in obeying the future St. John Paul. In December 1985, the month after the Marian year ended, then-autocrat Ferdinand Marcos called snap elections in February to finally put to rest escalating challenges to his rule. But widespread cheating further exacerbated protests, leading to his downfall in the People Power Revolution. Fast-forward to June 8, 2013: as Catholic bishops decreed five months before, “all Dioceses, Parishes, Schools, Institutions, Families [offered] solemnly a joint public act of entrustment to the Blessed Mother, Mother of our people and our country.” Thus, the prelates led “a Simultaneous National Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Will that second consecration to the Mother of God herald another upheaval? So far, since June 2013, the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd certainly has seen one debacle after another. Timeline of turmoil --That very consecration month, the Inekon extortion scandal emerged. Apparently, the extortion planners tried to implicate presidential sister Ballsy and her husband to keep themselves from the spotlight. The alleged attempt to extort $30 million from the Czech trainmaker led to the ouster of Metro Rail Transit manager Al Vitangcol, now seen as a scapegoat for higher-ups. The weeks before Aquino’s State of the Nation Address last July, the pork barrel scam expose erupted, based on disgruntled operator Bernard Luy’s accusations. The controversy shifted public attention from Inekon to Luy’s estranged boss Janet Lim Napoles and some of her alleged clients, including opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla. Public outrage, however, blazed beyond targeted personalities and consumed pork barrel itself. Palace and Congress eventually had to torch the Priority Development Assistance Fund, after 100,000 massed at Rizal Park on August 27, National Heroes Day, to denounce PDAF–the largest rally under Aquino. Publicly accused of graft, Estrada and Revilla hit back with privilege speeches exposing Malacañang’s pork inducements to oust then-Chief Justice Renato Corona. That brought to light an even bigger slush fund, the P170-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program. Opponents promptly took DAP and PDAF to the Supreme Court, which would eventually declare them unconstitutional. Chastisement from above? * READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace refuses to bare list of DAP projects

PHOTO --Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon (center) and members of Youth Act Now! hold copies of the plunder complaint they filed against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad at the Office of the Ombudsman. continues to withhold information on where funds released through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went, stressing that this would be done only after Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and government lawyers have decided what legal action to take in light of an adverse Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the controversial stimulus program. On Tuesday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said any information on DAP projects will be revealed “in the proper forum,” noting that the Palace’s top priority at the moment is to carefully study the High Court’s decision and come up with a firm legal remedy. “In the right time, there will be a proper forum to discuss these issues. Right now, we give priority to studying the decision. There is a need to be focused,” Coloma told reporters. According to him, Abad has been conferring with government lawyers on how to deal with the SC ruling that declared DAP unconstitutional. “[Secretary Abad] is involved in the study of the decision and legal options,” Coloma said. Abad, said to be the main architect of the stimulus program, will exhaust the 15 days allotted by law to respond to the DAP ruling, the Palace official added. “Secretary Abad is performing his duty as Budget chief and the government, the administration, is performing its duty to carefully study the whole decision of the [SC] to come up with a [response] . . . That’s the ongoing process. I hope you understand this concern in light of that process,” Coloma explained. Despite repeated demands for Malacanang to specify where the DAP funds were actually spent, officials continue to be evasive, often pointing to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as the right agency to respond to the requests. On Monday, Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda admitted that they are yet to get hold of a list of DAP-funded projects. According to him, the matter should be discussed with the DBM first.* READ MORE...

ALSO: PNP spends more on Napoles than 3 senators  

The Philippine National Police (PNP) spends more to keep businesswoman and plunder respondent Janet Lim Napoles in jail than for the detention of three senators jailed for corruption charges in connection with the pork barrel scam. PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said over dzMM that the government spends P150,000 a month for Napoles, who is detained at the Special Action Force camp in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna. The police organization spends an additional P120,000 every time Napoles is transported for a court hearing or for medical examinations. Since Napoles faces three separate plunder charges as the suspected scam mastermind, Napoles has to attend separate court proceedings for each of the cases. She was initially detained for a serious illegal detention case filed by scam whistleblower Benhur Luy. Sindac confirmed that the PNP spends more on Napoles but did not specify how much it costs to keep senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile behind bars. The three senators are accused of plunder for allegedly pocketing hundreds of millions in government funds through a scheme operated by Napoles. The PNP, meanwhile, recently earned criticisms for allowing Enrile to leave jail for medical checkups in private hospitals. The day following his surrender on July 4, Enrile was given a furlough from the PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City, for an appointment with an eye doctor in Makati City. Sindac said, however, that the former Senate president, who is also a wealthy industrialist, shoulders his hospital and transport expenses. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: CBCP nixes Janet plea for custody  

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday denied the request of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles that she be placed under the custody of the bishops. In a statement, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that while the CBCP is grateful to Napoles for the trust she has shown to the conference, he regrets that they could not grant her request because this would be in violation of regulations governing the church and the state. “Existing Church laws do not allow an episcopal conference to stand as guarantor before civil courts that the accused will not abscond and will be available at every trial date. Furthermore, we are not sure that under civil law we are qualified for such a role as Ms. Napoles would wish us to assume,” Villegas explained. “Once we allow CBCP’s offices to take recognizance of Ms. Napoles, we must, to be fair, accept similar requests from all other accused. Not only would this strain CBCP’s resources, it would render impossible the discharge of its principal functions,” he added. But Villegas assured Napoles that the bishops would remain vigilant and make sure that her rights and those of other accused are respected and safeguarded. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Hazing suspect surrenders  

A member of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity suspected of involvement in the fatal hazing of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) student Guillo Servando surrendered last night to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The suspect, who was not immediately identified, is in the custody of the Department of Justice. He will reportedly serve as a witness. The NBI said it may file today or tomorrow the case against the suspects in the hazing held on June 28. According to Senior Police Officer 1 Nilo Sadsad, they are just waiting for the fourth victim of the hazing – a minor who had survived the initiation rites – to formally submit his sworn affidavit either to the Makati police or the NBI. Sadsad said that even though the NBI is conducting a parallel probe, the Makati police would be the lead agency that would file the case against the suspects for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law. “We want this case to be really air-tight. For that, we need to have really solid evidence and statements from all the victims,” said Sadsad. Earlier, Servando’s fellow neophytes in the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity – John Paul Raval and Lorenze Agustin – submitted their respective sworn affidavits to authorities. Their statements provided details of the events leading to the fatal hazing at a house in Barangay Palanan, Makati City. * READ MORE...

ALSO: A state of grace for the elderly, storiesofgiving  

To grow old with dignity is every man’s longing. When the body becomes weak, the mind given to senility, the best one could hope for is the presence of loved ones. For many of us, a state of utter deprivation and isolation from the very people we loved our entire lives is our worst nightmare. This is why in the Philippines, a country known for close family ties and respect for the elderly, families live together so grandparents can be cared for until their last breath. But somewhere behind the Philippines’ largest shopping mall, hidden from the bustle of modern city life, lies a place where some of the country’s elderly go to wait for absolution. No, they are not sinners; these senior citizens were once lost in the streets of Metro Manila seeking missing loved ones or perhaps in search of a dignity they are wishing to regain; some of them, imprisoned by their very minds or frail bodies. More popularly known in the past as the Golden Acres (transferred to Tanay, Rizal), the facility is now called the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and Other Special Cases, or GRACES. Every day, a number of senior citizens rescued from the streets by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or by various local government units are brought to GRACES. In some instances, families themselves turn in their elderly when they could no longer bear the responsibility of taking care of them. * READ MORE...


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Safer Bocaue fluvial parade draws thousands of devotees


SAFER FLUVIAL PARADE THIS TIME – Riding on boats, devotees follow the floating pagoda carrying the venerated Holy Cross of Wawa during the fluvial parade along a river in Bocaue, Bulacan, yesterday. The fluvial parade was held for the first time since July 2, 1993 when the pagoda tilted and sank, killing more than 200 devotees. (KJ Rosales)

BOCAUE, BULACAN, JULY 8, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Freddie C. Velez - In a display of strong religious faith, thousands of people from Central Luzon and Metro Manila flocked yesterday to the Bocaue river to participate in the annual celebration of the feast day of the venerated “Mahal na Poon ng Krus sa Wawa” in much safer and colorful fluvial rites.

The fluvial parade featuring a three-tiered floating pagoda was revived 21 years after tragedy struck the religious gathering, killing more than 200 devotees.

“There were huge smiles all around as the celebration turned out to be completely marvelous after 21 years,” said Ramon Lazaro, a native of this town.

He was referring to the pagoda tragedy on July 2, 1993 during the Bocaue River Festival when the floating pagoda, with an estimated 1,000 devotees on board, sank.

The Bocaue River Festival is an annual celebration held every first Sunday of July in honor of the Holy Cross which was found in the river in the 1800s. The festivities involve a decorated pagoda on top of a barge accompanied with small boats around it. A replica of the holy cross is placed at the top of the pagoda.

* Lazaro said the nine straight nights of novena and prayers were completed without any untoward incident because of the good coordination among the organizers, the local parish of St. Martin of Tours, the police, local government units and the provincial government of Bulacan.

The Holy Cross of Wawa and the image of St. Martin of Tours were placed at the main altar of the three tiered pagoda which has a loading capacity of more than 500 people.

Organizers however only allowed 150 to 200 people to ride the pagoda and everyone was required to wear life vest.

Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the strong devotion of the people has rekindled the “leap of faith” and trust in God as well as the crowd-drawing fluvial festival, which he described as just one among the many age-old traditions being practiced and observed in Bulacan.

But this year, he said that peace-keeping and emergency response units have properly coordinated with the organizers to ensure a peaceful and safe celebration of the feast day of the venerated Holy Cross of Wawa.

“Masaya ngunit madarama mo ang kasagraduhan ng tradition at dahil sa pagkakaisa at taimtim na panata ng mga mamamayan ay muling bumabalik ang sigla ng makulay na kapistahang ito sa bayan ng Bocaue (Festive but you can feel the sanctity of tradition because of the unity, the faith of the devotees in this town),” Alvarado said.

Alvarado added that since the old grandeur of the fluvial festival is once again revived, he said Bocaue is now known for its crowd-drawing “Three Ps” – the Pagoda festival, the Pyrotechnic industry and the soon to be inaugurated Philippine Arena.

The governor said several days before this year’s pagoda cruised along the Bocaue river again, he met officials of the provincial police, representatives of the municipal government, fiesta organizers and members of the emergency response teams from the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council.

He said the Bulacan Police Provincial Office headed by Sr. Supt. Ferdinand Divina deployed additional police teams from the Provincial Public Safety Management Company to augment local policemen to ensure order and safety.

He said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and management office headed by Liz Mungcal also deployed two jet skis, ambulance and professional divers as part of safety-keeping force.

Divina said some 200 boats joined the procession of the pagoda.

He said all boats, including the pagoda, underwent pre-inspection before they were given the go signal to set sail.

He also said rescue and paramedic teams from the Provincial Government were backed up by members of the Riverine troops of the Philippine Army, divers from the Coast Guard and Navy and volunteer rescue teams from civic groups.

Divina also said policemen strictly checked every participant and did not allow anyone under the influence of liquor to board any boat or the pagoda itself.

The Holy Cross of Wawa is a replica of the wooden cross on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, is set on a pagoda, which is paraded on the Bocaue river with several boats, as well as devotees swimming alongside the colorful structure.

The festivities also include a nine-day novena, which celebrates the rescue of the Holy Cross of Wawa from the Bocaue River.

Legends say a woman was saved from drowning by a floating cross, presumed to be the Holy Cross of Wawa.

Earlier Fr. Mar Evangelista, parochial vicar of the St. Martin of Tours Parish here, said they agreed to revive the fluvial rites after organizers convinced them of the safety measures to be enforced to ensure public safety.

Public satisfaction for top gov’t officials dips — SWS by Ellalyn De Vera
July 7, 2014 MANILA BULLETIN


FROM LEFT: AQUINO, BINAY, DRILON, BELMONTE AND SERANO

Among the four highest government officials next to the President, only Vice President Jejomar Binay has seen a significant improvement in his satisfaction rating in the first quarter of 2014, as shown in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results.

Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno received lower satisfaction ratings during the March 27-30 survey period.

The results of the survey, which used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 respondents, were first published in BusinessWorld last Monday (July 7).

It showed that 82 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with Binay’s performance in the first quarter, while 9 percent expressed dissatisfaction. This brings the Vice President’s net satisfaction rating to “excellent” +73 or 11 points higher than his net rating last December of “very good” +62.

Net satisfaction ratings of +70 and above is classified by SWS as:

  •  “excellent;” +50 to +69,
  •  “very good;” +30 to +49,
  •  “good;” +10 to +29,
  • “moderate;” +9 to -9,
  • “neutral;” -10 to -29,
  • “poor;” -30 to -49,
  • “bad;” -50 to -69,
  • “very bad;” and -70
  • and below, “execrable.”  (Dictionary reference says 'execrable' synonyms are 'detestable'; 'abominable')

Meanwhile, Drilon’s net rating declined by eight points from +25 to +17 (46 percent satisfied, 29 percent dissatisfied).

The net ratings of Belmonte and Sereno also fell 17 points from +16 to -1 (32 percent satisfied, 32 percent dissatisfied), and down 12 points from +16 to +4 (34 percent satisfied, 30 percent dissatisfied), respectively.

President Benigno S. Aquino III’s satisfaction rating for the first quarter, which was revealed last April, was +45 or lower by four points from his net satisfaction rating last December.

As regards satisfaction rating for top government institutions, Senate’s score slumped to +26 (54 percent satisfied, 29 percent dissatisfied) from the +33, previously.

It also declined in the House of Representatives from +26 to +18 (45 percent satisfied, 26 percent dissatisfied).

Meanwhile, Supreme Court’s rating barely moved from December, lower by a point from +36 to +35 (56 percent satisfied, 21 percent dissatisfied), while the Cabinet as a whole maintained its +20 (45 percent satisfied, 25 percent dissatisfied) score.

Fashion icon Aureo Alonzo passes away by Amyline Quien Ching
July 8, 2014 MANILA BULLETIN


ALONZO (File photo)

Yesterday, the country lost a fashion icon – Aureo Alonzo.

The designer, one of last of the old guards in Philippine fashion, died of pneumonia yesterday morning at the Makati Medical Center.

He would have celebrated his 86th birthday on July 19.

According to his long-time friend and model Frannie Aguinaldo Jacinto, they were already planning his upcoming birthday. “We were about to invite all his friends, clients, and fellow designers for a merienda seña.

He loved parties. He told us the last time we visited that we should plan his birthday party and even told us ‘you’re in charge!’ He really likes talking to his friends again. He has a sharp memory. He remembers everyone, even the smallest things like who had been your boyfriend.”

Margie Moran, one of Alonzo’s friends, was on schedule to visit him yesterday at the home, where he was being cared for by nuns.

Alonzo was taken to the hospital by his adopted son Amiel. “We have been visiting him and taking him out to lunch. He was a man with passion for his work but with sincere humility to work with those he mentored and cared for. The models during his era will surely miss him.”

* Although saddened by his death, Jacinto feels that it is for the best. “Finally, he’s at peace,” she says with a lump in her throat. “Because he really suffered. What is really painful for me is that he died alone. We just found out this morning that when he died, he was only with a nurse. No one was there with him, although he had been with us. He was such a good person, always smiling. I never heard him utter a cuss word or say something bad to another person.”

Alonzo had been undergoing dialysis and blood transfusions. Last year, a fashion show was organized to help raise funds for his medical bills.

In 1975, Aureo Alonzo, known for his intricate beadwork and classic designs, put the Philippine fashion on the world map.

He bested Gianfranco Ferre and John Paul Gaultier at a competition, winning the Camel Award of International High Fashion in Italy with no less than Yves Saint Laurent at the juror’s table. He was the first – and only – Filipino to have won the distinction.

His remains lie in state at the Funeraria Paz in Sucat, Parañaque, and will be buried at the Manila Memorial Park on Thursday after the 9:30 a.m. Mass.

MANILA TIMES COLUMN

A nation consecrated to Mary: Upheaval Again? by RICARDO SALUDO
MANLLA TIMES July 8, 2014 10:48 pm


Ricardo Saludo

Three decades ago, amid the national crisis following the 1983 assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., the present president’s father, the Philippine Church heeded the call of then-Pope John Paul II to declare 1985 a year dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As Jesuit theologian and Aquino family spiritual adviser Fr. Catalino Arevalo recalls, the country was alone in obeying the future St. John Paul. In December 1985, the month after the Marian year ended, then-autocrat Ferdinand Marcos called snap elections in February to finally put to rest escalating challenges to his rule. But widespread cheating further exacerbated protests, leading to his downfall in the People Power Revolution.

Fast-forward to June 8, 2013: as Catholic bishops decreed five months before, “all Dioceses, Parishes, Schools, Institutions, Families [offered] solemnly a joint public act of entrustment to the Blessed Mother, Mother of our people and our country.” Thus, the prelates led “a Simultaneous National Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Will that second consecration to the Mother of God herald another upheaval? So far, since June 2013, the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd certainly has seen one debacle after another.

Timeline of turmoil

That very consecration month, the Inekon extortion scandal emerged. Apparently, the extortion planners tried to implicate presidential sister Ballsy and her husband to keep themselves from the spotlight. The alleged attempt to extort $30 million from the Czech trainmaker led to the ouster of Metro Rail Transit manager Al Vitangcol, now seen as a scapegoat for higher-ups.

The weeks before Aquino’s State of the Nation Address last July, the pork barrel scam expose erupted, based on disgruntled operator Bernard Luy’s accusations. The controversy shifted public attention from Inekon to Luy’s estranged boss Janet Lim Napoles and some of her alleged clients, including opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla.

Public outrage, however, blazed beyond targeted personalities and consumed pork barrel itself. Palace and Congress eventually had to torch the Priority Development Assistance Fund, after 100,000 massed at Rizal Park on August 27, National Heroes Day, to denounce PDAF–the largest rally under Aquino.

Publicly accused of graft, Estrada and Revilla hit back with privilege speeches exposing Malacañang’s pork inducements to oust then-Chief Justice Renato Corona. That brought to light an even bigger slush fund, the P170-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program. Opponents promptly took DAP and PDAF to the Supreme Court, which would eventually declare them unconstitutional.

Chastisement from above?

* Believers looking for God’s hand in national events may see divine retribution in the demise of congressional and presidential pork. For the funds had greased the way for pet Palace bills, from the annual budget to the Reproductive Health Law.

In RH, Aquino backtracked on his promised “conscience vote” and used PDAF and probably DAP largesse to herd legislators behind the Church-opposed measure in December 2012. Thus, this writer lamented in the article “Aquino’s troubles and the wages of sin” last November: “To battle divine promptings in lawmakers’ consciences, and on top of that, to employ this corrupting tactic for a measure that threatens the unborn, heaps sin upon unconscionable sin.”

Today, the instruments of that ungodly inducement are scrapped by the High Court. Brought low too is the architect who trebled PDAF under Aquino and concocted the even bigger DAP. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad has seen his reputation as a Harvard-educated technocrat and lawmaker greatly tarnished for having undermined the budget process, the separation of powers, and the integrity of the elected.

If he eventually leaves office in disgrace, Abad’s fate would seem to mirror that of resigned Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Chairperson Margaret Juico. She left PCSO last month, supposedly because top Aquino ally Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas resented sanctions imposed by a leisure club headed by her husband.

But devout Catholics may also point to Juico’s sacrilegious and patently false claims in June 2011 — three years before her departure from PCSO — that seven bishops got luxury sports utility vehicles from the lottery during the Arroyo administration.

In fact, the prelates used aid funds to buy pickups, vans and other transport, some second-hand, for use in charity missions.

Looks like the Lord metes out justice to those who muzzle His voice in men’s hearts, and malign His vicars in our eyes.

Conflict, quake and killer storm

What about President Aquino, who abetted Juico’s untruths and used Abad’s pork to bring Congress to heel? Besides the biggest street protests, Aquino also saw the worst national calamities so far during his term in the second half of last year: the month-long Zamboanga City siege by Moro National Liberation Front fighters in September, the Bohol earthquake in October, and the Yolanda supertyphoon in November.

The Zamboanga and Yolanda events highlighted administration failings.

The MNLF siege was widely seen as provoked by Malacañang’s decision to push aside autonomy arrangements with the Front, in pursuing the Bangsamoro deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an MNLF splinter group and now the main Muslim force. Feeling disregarded in the creation of a new autonomous region, the MNLF attacked.

The Yolanda catastrophe meanwhile cast grave doubts on the government’s disaster response machinery. Two days before the supertyphoon hit Eastern Visayas on November 9, President Aquino himself told the nation that 32 aircraft, 20 naval vessels, and tons of relief goods were in place for rescue and relief. Yet days passed before help reached devastated Tacloban.

Today, just over a year since the Philippines was consecrated to Mary, the typhoon season has begun, and food prices are skyrocketing. The PDAF-DAP controversy rages more than ever, with mounting calls for Abad to go, and two impeachment complaints already filed against Aquino.

Meanwhile, the internationally celebrated MILF pact looks precarious after Palace lawyers, wary over PDAF and DAP rulings, heavily revised the draft Bangsamoro legislation, sending peace negotiators back to the table. For its part, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation reiterated its call for the MNLF and MILF accords to be linked, noting that the latter is “opposed by all factions of Moro National Liberation Front, and . . . do not mention or build explicitly on Tripoli and Jakarta Agreements of 1976 and 1997.”

The last time a memorandum with the rebels was scrapped in 2008, MILF renegades rampaged in Mindanao.

After top-level exertions over the new deal, with Aquino and MILF Chairman Ebrahim Murad meeting twice in Tokyo, and joining Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at two Manila signings, there could be even worse violence if the Bangsamoro agreement fails.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Mother of God, we pray to your Immaculate Heart for our troubled nation. Amen.

(PHNO: WE STRONGLY BELIEVE IN PRAYERS, AMEN TO THAT!)

Palace refuses to bare list of DAP projects July 8, 2014 11:16 pm
by BY JOEL M. SY EGCO  SENIOR REPORTER MANILA TIMES

K
abataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon (center) and members of Youth Act Now! hold copies of the plunder complaint they filed against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad at the Office of the Ombudsman. Photo By Ruy Martinez

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon (center) and members of Youth Act Now! hold copies of the plunder complaint they filed against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad at the Office of the Ombudsman.

continues to withhold information on where funds released through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) went, stressing that this would be done only after Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and government lawyers have decided what legal action to take in light of an adverse Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the controversial stimulus program.

On Tuesday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said any information on DAP projects will be revealed “in the proper forum,” noting that the Palace’s top priority at the moment is to carefully study the High Court’s decision and come up with a firm legal remedy.

“In the right time, there will be a proper forum to discuss these issues. Right now, we give priority to studying the decision. There is a need to be focused,” Coloma told reporters.

According to him, Abad has been conferring with government lawyers on how to deal with the SC ruling that declared DAP unconstitutional.

“[Secretary Abad] is involved in the study of the decision and legal options,” Coloma said.

Abad, said to be the main architect of the stimulus program, will exhaust the 15 days allotted by law to respond to the DAP ruling, the Palace official added.

“Secretary Abad is performing his duty as Budget chief and the government, the administration, is performing its duty to carefully study the whole decision of the [SC] to come up with a [response] . . . That’s the ongoing process. I hope you understand this concern in light of that process,” Coloma explained.

Despite repeated demands for Malacanang to specify where the DAP funds were actually spent, officials continue to be evasive, often pointing to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as the right agency to respond to the requests.

On Monday, Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda admitted that they are yet to get hold of a list of DAP-funded projects. According to him, the matter should be discussed with the DBM first.

* On the other hand, Coloma asked for more time before all information can be made public.

“The Solicitor General received the [High Court] decision on July 4, 2014 and under the rules of the court, the government as respondent is given 15 days from the receipt of the decision within which to file a motion for reconsideration. So there’s a continuing study of the decision including the legal options that may be taken,” he said.

Coloma added that he would not want to address issues that are not part of those stipulated in the SC decision.

He noted that the High Court made no specific mention of any project or number of DAP-funded projects that were the subjects of its decision.

Reports indicated that there were 116 projects that got funds from the program.

Coloma, however, argued that they were not included in the evidence submitted.

“If we will review the findings of the court, there is no specific mention of any of the 116 [projects] that are included in the evidence submitted. And I think there is some portion there where some of the justices expressed the opinion that it will, it is not appropriate to comment on the status of those projects whether constitutional or unconstitutional in one breadth,” he said.

Coloma added that it is possible that the government will file a motion for reconsideration.

“In the rules of court, [it] gives the respondent a certain period within which to avail itself of certain legal options including a possible motion for reconsideration,” he pointed out.

Even the filing of a motion for reconsideration, however, is not yet final since it is also possible that the team of Abad and the government lawyers may have other legal options.

But Coloma maintained that they are not withholding any information on the DAP projects, saying they are just “conducting a comprehensive review of the decision.”

“It is our view that [the] discussion of the projects is part of the active case and we observe certain rules whenever there is still an active case,” he said.

In fact, according to Coloma, there is no prohibition on government agencies that would want to explain their share of DAP funds.

“Nobody prevents [them] because since last year, there were discussions, there were departments that made an explanation, remarks about their projects. There is no prevention or withholding of information since the very beginning,” he said.

Coloma added that the public should not suspect that the government is trying to withhold information on the DAP.

Senators’ projects

While the Palace would rather keep mum on the DAP projects, some senators released documents to show where their DAP allocations went.

Senate President Franklin Drilon also on Tuesday said his P100-million DAP funds were used to construct the Iloilo Convention Center that President Benigno Aquino 3rd inspected in June.

He added that the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center is in line with the objective of the DAP “to boost growth” as the project will create more job opportunities, generate economic activities, promote tourism in the country and pump-prime the economy.

The Senate leader said the project was funded upon his request to the DBM on November 14, 2012.

On Monday, Sen. Francis Escudero said his own P100-million DAP funds were used in helping poor patients, hospitals and rehabilitation of public markets.

Escudero added that no non-government organizations benefited from his share of DAP funds.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th also named at least 10 projects funded by his DAP allocationsin nine areas in Luzon and Visayas such as construction and rehabilitation of multi-purpose buildings, fire stations, gymnasiums and film centers.
WITH PNA

FROM PHILSTAR

PNP spends more on Napoles than 3 senators By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated July 8, 2014 - 2:40pm 8 61 googleplus0 0


Janet Lim Napoles, center, a wealthy businesswoman at the center of a scam to divert funds for government anti-poverty projects and who allegedly gave kickbacks to senators using those funds, smiles as she is escorted after attending her arraignment at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 26, 2014. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) spends more to keep businesswoman and plunder respondent Janet Lim Napoles in jail than for the detention of three senators jailed for corruption charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said over dzMM that the government spends P150,000 a month for Napoles, who is detained at the Special Action Force camp in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna.

The police organization spends an additional P120,000 every time Napoles is transported for a court hearing or for medical examinations.

Since Napoles faces three separate plunder charges as the suspected scam mastermind, Napoles has to attend separate court proceedings for each of the cases. She was initially detained for a serious illegal detention case filed by scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Sindac confirmed that the PNP spends more on Napoles but did not specify how much it costs to keep senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile behind bars.

The three senators are accused of plunder for allegedly pocketing hundreds of millions in government funds through a scheme operated by Napoles.

The PNP, meanwhile, recently earned criticisms for allowing Enrile to leave jail for medical checkups in private hospitals.

The day following his surrender on July 4, Enrile was given a furlough from the PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City, for an appointment with an eye doctor in Makati City.

Sindac said, however, that the former Senate president, who is also a wealthy industrialist, shoulders his hospital and transport expenses.

CBCP nixes Janet plea for custody By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 9, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


NAPOLES

MANILA, Philippines - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday denied the request of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles that she be placed under the custody of the bishops.

In a statement, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that while the CBCP is grateful to Napoles for the trust she has shown to the conference, he regrets that they could not grant her request because this would be in violation of regulations governing the church and the state.

“Existing Church laws do not allow an episcopal conference to stand as guarantor before civil courts that the accused will not abscond and will be available at every trial date. Furthermore, we are not sure that under civil law we are qualified for such a role as Ms. Napoles would wish us to assume,” Villegas explained.

“Once we allow CBCP’s offices to take recognizance of Ms. Napoles, we must, to be fair, accept similar requests from all other accused. Not only would this strain CBCP’s resources, it would render impossible the discharge of its principal functions,” he added.

But Villegas assured Napoles that the bishops would remain vigilant and make sure that her rights and those of other accused are respected and safeguarded.

* “In the same measure that we urge government prosecutors to be resolute and non-selective in the indictment of offenders and in holding them accountable for all their actions,” he added.

Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna.

SC defers ruling on Ong

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday deferred ruling on the administrative case against Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Gregory Ong over his alleged links with Napoles.

Justices of the high court decided to reset their deliberations on the recommendation in the report submitted by retired SC Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, who investigated the administrative charges against Ong for gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety.

Some of them were not ready to decide on the case and asked for more time before the votes will be cast, an insider bared.

The justices then opted to instead resolve the case next month.

The source, who is a member of the court, also revealed that they were confronted with a choice between ordering the dismissal from judicial service of Ong or just suspend him for a certain period.

In her report, Gutierrez recommended to the high tribunal the dismissal of Ong.

The retired SC justice has found after investigation that Ong committed “serious transgressions” when the fourth division of the anti-graft court that he chaired in 2010 had acquitted Napoles of criminal charges emanating from questionable purchase of 500 Kevlar helmets by the Philippine Marines.

She told the high court in her 34-page report that Ong violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary and was guilty of gross misconduct, dishonesty and impropriety.

Gutierrez recommended that apart from dismissal, the SC should also forfeit all his retirement benefits, excluding accrued leave credits and prevent him from re-employment in any government office, including government-owned or controlled corporations.

She cited the testimonies of whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Marina Sula as basis of her report. She also stressed that Ong failed to back up his denial with evidence.

The STAR, however, reported earlier that two justices submitted their respective drafts rejecting such recommendation.

While the two magistrates agreed to uphold the finding of guilt of Ong in the charges, they believe that dismissal would be too harsh a penalty. They wanted Ong to instead be suspended for either six or three months. Their opinions were distributed to the other justices on July 1.

The source added that several justices support this position.

It was also learned that Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Teresita Leonardo-de Castro have inhibited in the administrative case since Ong was their colleague when they were still in the Sandiganbayan.

The SC started the administrative probe against Ong last January as a result of the inquiry it initiated in October last year on sworn statements of Luy and Sula during the hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on the controversy on Sept. 26 last year where the whistle-blowers identified Ong as one of the personalities who visited Napoles’ office at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas and joined her parties.

Luy and Sula also identified four lawyers as among the associates of Napoles: Mark Oliveros, Editha Talaboc, Raymond Tansip and Joshua Lapuz.

The lawyers allegedly notarized documents of Napoles’ JLN Corporation for its projects funded by the Malampaya Fund, according to the witnesses.

They even reportedly left a dry seal in Napoles’ office, as well as specimen signatures, notary books and stamp pads for use by JLN employees.

The four lawyers were also covered by the SC probe.

In August, an online news website published a photo of Ong partying with Napoles and Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Ong has denied the charges. He claimed that the photo could not have been taken in 2010 or earlier. He said he and Estrada are friends since 1994.

“Be that as it may, it is undisputed, however, that I was standing to the right of Senator Estrada to have my picture taken with him. I have no control whether other guests (in this case, Mrs. Napoles, who was standing to his left) would also want to be photographed with us,” he said in the letter.

The justice also belied favoring Napoles, explaining that the Kevlar helmet case was dismissed by the members of the court division that acted as a collegial body. With Edu Punay

Hazing suspect surrenders By Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 9, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


A witness in the hazing of College of Saint Benilde students points to the house in Barangay Palanan, Makati where the Tau Gamma Phi initiation rites took place. Images released by the NBI show photos of fratmen present during the hazing: (top row, from left) fraternity head Cody Morales, secretary Pope Bautista, master initiator Esmerson Calupas; (2nd row) Trex Pablico alias Trex Garcia, Kevin Navoa, Kurt Almazan, and (below) Carl Francis Loresca. A suspect in the hazing surrendered last night. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines - A member of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity suspected of involvement in the fatal hazing of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) student Guillo Servando surrendered last night to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The suspect, who was not immediately identified, is in the custody of the Department of Justice. He will reportedly serve as a witness.

The NBI said it may file today or tomorrow the case against the suspects in the hazing held on June 28.

According to Senior Police Officer 1 Nilo Sadsad, they are just waiting for the fourth victim of the hazing – a minor who had survived the initiation rites – to formally submit his sworn affidavit either to the Makati police or the NBI.

Sadsad said that even though the NBI is conducting a parallel probe, the Makati police would be the lead agency that would file the case against the suspects for violation of the Anti-Hazing Law.

“We want this case to be really air-tight. For that, we need to have really solid evidence and statements from all the victims,” said Sadsad.

Earlier, Servando’s fellow neophytes in the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity – John Paul Raval and Lorenze Agustin – submitted their respective sworn affidavits to authorities.

Their statements provided details of the events leading to the fatal hazing at a house in Barangay Palanan, Makati City.

* Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban earlier said he had met with the fathers of the five suspects. Lukban said a member of Tau Gamma Phi arranged the meeting.

“They (fathers) assured me that they want to apologize to the family of the victims and that they would surrender their children who were present during the hazing. They also told me that they would convince the parents of the other suspects to do the same. Kung may makukulong rin naman, gusto nila makulong na lahat (If anyone would be jailed, they want all to be jailed),” Lukban said.

Lukban said that he did not ask for the names of the fathers of the suspects whom he had met with so as not to drive them away. However, he believes the five men are indeed fathers of the suspects.

“We discussed about the consequences of their plan to surrender their children. They told me they would talk about it among themselves and at the same time, try to convince the parents of the other suspects to also surrender their children,” said Lukban.

He said the police are looking at about 13 suspects who were involved in the hazing.

Lukban said they are tracing the real identities of the suspects based on the statement of Raval.

In his statement to the Makati police, Raval named at least 10 members of Tau Gamma Phi as suspects.

Raval said he, Servando, Agustin and the minor met up with members of the Tau Gamma Phi-College of St. Benilde chapter in a fastfood restaurant near the De La Salle University in Manila.

He said they stayed there from noon to 5:30 p.m. before they took a taxicab to the house at 4454 Calatagan St. in Barangay Palanan where the initiation rites were held.

According to Raval, the initiation rites started at around 6 p.m. and lasted until about 9 p.m.

During the initiation rites, Raval, Servando and the two other neophytes were subjected to severe mental and physical punishment.

Raval added that he and the other neophytes were hit and whipped on their legs by the fraternity members using belts and a wooden paddle.

Among the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity members identified by Raval as the ones who conducted the initiation were: Cody Morales who was identified as the head or Lord Grand Triskelion; Pope Bautista, Trex Garcia, Hans Tamaring, an alias Navoa, alias Rey Jay, Mike, Kurt, Louie and Emeng, allegedly the master initiator.

Raval said that after the intitiation rites, Tamaring and Garcia brought him and the three other neophytes to his condominium unit at One Archer’s Place on Taft Avenue, Manila.

The two fraternity members, however, left after they failed to revive Servando. Raval called emergency hotline 117 at past 9 p.m.

Investigators from the Manila Police District (MPD), meanwhile, have identified two alleged leaders of Tau Gamma Phi and eight other suspects.

New hazing bill filed

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday filed a bill that would totally prohibit hazing.

He described his bill as the “Servando Act” after the latest hazing victim.

The measure would repeal the Anti-Hazing Law, Republic Act 8049, which Gatchalian said is toothless and has not prevented deaths from hazing.

He said the present law merely regulates hazing.

His proposed law imposes heavy prison terms and fines on hazing participants, negligent officers of fraternal organizations and schools and owners of properties where hazing activities are conducted.

Proposed penalties for fraternity officers and members involved in hazing include prison term of 12 to 20 years and a fine of P1 million. They would face the same length of imprisonment and a fine of P3 million if they were found under the influence of liquor or illegal drugs.

The penalties increase to life imprisonment and a P5-million fine if hazing results in death, rape, sodomy or mutilation of the victim.

The presence of anyone in the hazing is prima facie evidence of his or her participation in the illegal activity.

A school would be fined P1 million if it approved an initiation in which hazing was done or its representatives were not present or failed to prevent hazing. – With Jess Diaz

A state of grace for the elderly, #28storiesofgiving By Epi Fabonan III (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 9, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


GRACES is home to senior citizens rescued from the streets or from families that can no longer take care of them. GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines - To grow old with dignity is every man’s longing.

When the body becomes weak, the mind given to senility, the best one could hope for is the presence of loved ones.

For many of us, a state of utter deprivation and isolation from the very people we loved our entire lives is our worst nightmare.

This is why in the Philippines, a country known for close family ties and respect for the elderly, families live together so grandparents can be cared for until their last breath.

But somewhere behind the Philippines’ largest shopping mall, hidden from the bustle of modern city life, lies a place where some of the country’s elderly go to wait for absolution. No, they are not sinners; these senior citizens were once lost in the streets of Metro Manila seeking missing loved ones or perhaps in search of a dignity they are wishing to regain; some of them, imprisoned by their very minds or frail bodies.

More popularly known in the past as the Golden Acres (transferred to Tanay, Rizal), the facility is now called the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and Other Special Cases, or GRACES.

Every day, a number of senior citizens rescued from the streets by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or by various local government units are brought to GRACES. In some instances, families themselves turn in their elderly when they could no longer bear the responsibility of taking care of them.

* Even if the place only has room for 150, GRACES has no choice but to accommodate its present 175 occupants.

Lolo Johnny Reyes, 82, is one of those it recently admitted after he was found sleeping in the vicinity of Quiapo Church last May.

“I came to Manila to look for my son. I was told he was in Meycauayan but I could not find him there so I stayed with my cousin in Quiapo but only for a short time so I don’t overstay the welcome,” Reyes narrates.

He once worked as a furniture maker in Canada for a large office and home furniture company before returning to his hometown in Aloguinsan, Cebu, where he continued his craft until retirement.

Lolo says he hasn’t seen his son for 25 years since the latter left Cebu. He also left a daughter in Canada whom he hasn’t seen in 32 years. His relatives in the province are not aware of his whereabouts.

Handling Reyes’ case is Abi Nur Haqq Alonto, 26, one of five social workers tasked with providing care to the elderly at GRACES. Aside from Lolo Johnny, Alonto also handles 43 other senior citizen cases. He explains that since GRACES is only a diagnostic/assessment and processing center, those admitted cannot stay long in the facility. Part of his job is to trace their relatives so that they may be reunited and reintegrated to society.

“Our biggest challenge right now is locating the relatives of senior citizens turned over to us. More often than not, we don’t get results from our inquiries. We even get disheartening responses, such as when a relative refuses to take them back,” Alonto says.

Their desolation does not end there.

Inside GRACES’s decrepit facilities, the elderly and the paraplegic sleep in cottages with leaking roofs during cold nights and sweltering days. More often, the lack of decent beds forces them to sleep in makeshift cots, woven mats or even pieces of cardboard.

One can count with his fingers the number of working electric fans, fluorescent light bulbs and wheelchairs.

In a facility where the scent of sterility and old age can dampen one’s spirits, social workers brave each day armed only with love and commitment.

“It can be painful when some of them approach us to say that they want to go home. Sometimes, because of our limitations or their failing state of mind, we could not let them go,” Alonto laments.

With government funding depleted just for maintenance and operating expenses, the facility is in dire need of additional financial support from private donors in order to improve the quality of life of older persons in the facility.

When any of the elderly stay-ins get sick and need medical attention, GRACES does not have enough resources to pay for their hospitalization.

Supervising social worker Maria Cielo Agotilla said, “Aside from additional funding, GRACES can benefit from additional hospital beds, fans, PWD equipment (like stretchers, wheelchairs, canes, walkers and crutches), tools for productive activities for the elderly (like sewing machines and gardening tools), as well as basic needs like food and toiletries, we are also looking for kind-hearted individuals who can sponsor the repair and rehabilitation of our dilapidated cottages, or even the donation of an ambulance to transport older persons to hospitals.”

More than material needs, however, the best gift donors can give to the elderly is time. Right now, only a few volunteers and some seminarians visit the facility on a regular basis.

“We encourage competent individuals with a background on elderly care to volunteer their time and services with us. Hopefully, we could also get volunteer doctors to visit twice or thrice a week to check up on our patients,” a hopeful Agotilla expresses.

GRACES needs help. For those who would like to lend a hand, call (02) 929-1187 or (0949) 361-0731 or email inquiries to graces_ncr@yahoo.com. or graces.ncr@gmail.com.

(Editor’s note: The Philippine STAR’s #28StoriesOfGiving is a campaign that turns the spotlight on 28 inspiring stories of people and organizations who devote their lives to helping themselves or others. Everyone is encouraged to post or “tweet” a message of support with the hashtag, #28StoriesOfGiving. For every post, P5.00 will be added to The STAR’s existing ‘give back’ anniversary fund. For comments and suggestions to #28storiesofgiving, email contactus@philstar.com.ph. follow @philippinestar on Twitter or visit The Philippine Star’s page on Facebook.)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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