PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

YOLANDA REHAB GETS P9.5-B BUDGET  

DEC 3 ---The rehabilitation of provinces hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas got the lion’s share of the reduced P22.4-billion supplemental budget Malacañang is asking from Congress, where P870 million was removed from the original P23.3-billion funding request last month. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the amended proposed budget “will still mainly support priority initiatives, with the massive Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation program” getting P9.5 billion. This is on top of the P167-billion allocation the administration of President Aquino vows to pour in to the government’s efforts to build back better communities for the typhoon victims, and separate from foreign donations from all over the world. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: P-Noy lobbies for higher judiciary budget 

DEC 3 --PHOTO: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino appears to be extending an olive branch to the Supreme Court after lobbying yesterday for swift Congress action on budgetary requirements cited by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for fighting corruption and carrying out judicial reforms. “Before we forget… I hope you took note of budgetary requirements of the judiciary that should be attended to posthaste,” Aquino said during the 2nd State Conference on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, specifically addressing Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. “And since the approving authority is present also, perhaps we can lobby them for the speedy inclusion of what is necessary to help the judiciary in our common fight against corruption amongst others, making sure we are compliant with all the directives,” Aquino said, referring to Senate and House leaders in attendance. READ FULL REPORT..

ALSO: Tacloban evacuation underway for Typhoon Hagupit; families still living in tents are priority

DEC 3 --This time, no one is taking any chances. Communities were evacuated, schools were suspended and a ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum was moved to Manila as areas along the path of what is believed to be another super typhoon began moving out of harm’s way yesterday. How to keep Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors still living in tents safe is another problem facing Tacloban City officials as a new, powerful cyclone threatens to bring giant waves ashore, possibly on the weekend. Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said about 500 families were still living in tents more than a year after waves up to 23 feet tall driven ashore by Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed their homes. The 500 and some 3,000 other families housed in temporary shelters are the priority in case the city government orders a mandatory evacuation, he said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: 'Ruby' (International name 'Hagupit) now a super typhoon 

DEC 4 ---Tropical cyclone "Ruby" (international name "Hagupit") has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility while the United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) has classified it as a super typhoon. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) spotted the eye of Typhoon Ruby at 942 kilometers east northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur or 1, 023 kilometers east of Surigao City. Ruby is bearing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph. It is expected to move west northwest at 25 kph. Meanwhile, the JTWC said Ruby is packing one-minute average maximum sustained winds of 240 kph (130 knots) and gusts of up to 296 kph (160 knots). The JTWC also sees Ruby to pack winds of 296 kph (160 knots) and gusts of up to 361 kph (195 knots) by December 5 and 6. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: APEC meeting moved to Manila 

DEC 4 --The approaching typhoon forced the transfer of the Informal Senior Officials Meeting (ISOM) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum from Legazpi City in Albay to Manila. Malacañang said they decided to move the meeting to alternative venues following consultation with the APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee and other stakeholders, including Albay Gov. Joey Salceda. Legazpi has been preparing for the ISOM that would be held from Dec. 8 to 9. The city is also slated to host other APEC-related meetings. READ FULL REPORT..

ALSO: Tagle hoping Pinoy compassion may inspire Pope Francis

DEC 4 ---Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle yesterday expressed hope that Pope Francis would be inspired by the Filipinos’ display of mercy and compassion during the papal visit next year. At the end of the more than one-hour recollection for members of the media and committees involved in preparations for the pope’s apostolic and state visit from Jan. 15 to 19 next year, Cardinal Tagle said that he is hoping that it would not only be the Filipinos who would learn about mercy and compassion, but the Pontiff as well. “Mercy and compassion” would be the theme of Pope Francis’ five-day visit. Tagle, who just arrived from Rome, mentioned that in an interview with Radio Vaticana last week he was asked what is it that he is hoping for, “and I told them that one of my hopes is that it would not only be Pope Francis who would bring mercy and compassion to Filipinos. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Peacekeepers discharged, cleared of Ebola virus

FILE PHOTO Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang chats with soldiers under quarantine on Caballo Island. MANILA, Philippines - Military peacekeepers from Ebola-stricken Liberia were discharged yesterday from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Medical Center in Quezon City after they were cleared of disease. AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the troops that were part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia completed the routine medical screening at around 3 a.m. and were discharged from the military hospital at 6 a.m. The medical screening is a standard operating procedure for all peacekeepers deployed overseas. The peacekeepers were then brought to the Peacekeeping Operations Center in Camp Aguinaldo to allow them to rest. “We are very happy that finally, our peacekeepers have completed the quarantine and required medical screening procedures,” Cabunoc said in a press conference. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Palace urged to account for P115-B Yolanda fund

DEC 4 ---Malacañang is being asked to account first for about P115 billion in Yolanda reconstruction funds before asking for billions more from Congress for the same purpose. Senior deputy minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares made the appeal yesterday in the wake of President Aquino’s inclusion of P9.5 billion in his proposed P22.5-billion supplemental budget for this year. “They should first account for all those billions that Congress allocated for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of communities devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda,” Colmenares said. He recalled that Congress had included a P100-billion Yolanda reconstruction fund in the 2014 budget. He said before 2013 ended, just a month after the killer typhoon pummeled the Samar-Leyte provinces and other parts of the Visayas, Congress approved a P14.6-billion supplemental budget for victims of Yolanda and previous disasters. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Yolanda rehab gets P9.5-B add’l budget


TODAY STILL IN TENTS: Citizens of Tacloban City temporarily live in a tent city after Yolanda devastated the city.

MANILA, DECEMBER 8, 2014
(PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla - The rehabilitation of provinces hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas got the lion’s share of the reduced P22.4-billion supplemental budget Malacañang is asking from Congress, where P870 million was removed from the original P23.3-billion funding request last month.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the amended proposed budget “will still mainly support priority initiatives, with the massive Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation program” getting P9.5 billion.

This is on top of the P167-billion allocation the administration of President Aquino vows to pour in to the government’s efforts to build back better communities for the typhoon victims, and separate from foreign donations from all over the world.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) came up with the adjusted budget request following consultation with leaders of the House of Representatives, who pointed out the allocations have been made in this and next year’s national budget.

“The supplemental budget will provide appropriations for urgent and important projects that are not funded under the 2014 national budget, as well as ensure sufficient support for crucial development initiatives like the post-Yolanda rehabilitation,” Abad said.

“We are always open to recommendations made by Congress. As such, we have made adjustments in the proposed supplemental budget to reflect the inputs suggested by the House of Representatives,” he added.

Abad also said the updated supplemental budget will augment the 2014 E-Government Fund for the Enterprise Information Systems Plan of the Supreme Court by P715 million.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be able to carry the funding requirements within its current budget for key infrastructure projects to help the Philippines prepare for hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year.

It will also “help ensure 100-percent rehabilitation and installation of the national bridges by the end of 2015.”

“As such, the appropriation for these projects will not be included in the proposed supplemental budget,” Abad said.

“Even with available funds from the national treasury to finish these projects, the supplemental budget will need the proper legislation in compliance with the law. That is why we urge Congress for the timely passage of this budget so that we can allocate funds accordingly and complete these projects as soon as possible,” he added.

Fine-tuning the budget

The House of Representatives and the Senate are scheduled to begin finalizing the proposed P2.606-trillion 2015 national budget today.

“We agreed to have initial meetings tomorrow and on Thursday,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said.

Albano was referring to members of the bicameral conference committee that will reconcile the two chambers’ divergent versions of next year’s budget. – With Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez, Zinnia dela Peña


FROM PHILSTAR

P-Noy lobbies for higher judiciary budget By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 3, 2014 - 12:00am 2 15 googleplus0 1


Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino appears to be extending an olive branch to the Supreme Court after lobbying yesterday for swift Congress action on budgetary requirements cited by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for fighting corruption and carrying out judicial reforms.

“Before we forget… I hope you took note of budgetary requirements of the judiciary that should be attended to posthaste,” Aquino said during the 2nd State Conference on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, specifically addressing Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

“And since the approving authority is present also, perhaps we can lobby them for the speedy inclusion of what is necessary to help the judiciary in our common fight against corruption amongst others, making sure we are compliant with all the directives,” Aquino said, referring to Senate and House leaders in attendance.

Aside from Sereno, those present during the conference held at Malacañang were Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

The executive branch’s proposed budget for the judiciary was some P12 billion less than what the SC is seeking for the country’s courts in the 2015 national budget.

In her speech, Sereno said the judiciary would continuously push for the modernization of the courts because “we strongly believe that technology can be an effective anti-corruption tool as it minimizes the areas of human intervention.”

She cited as an example the e-subpoena, which has improved attendance of police witnesses in Quezon City.

“Of course, such initiatives require funding and this is the reason why we continually appeal for additional budgetary support,” she said.

“But more than processes, programs and projects, the fight against corruption starts with people. I have supported the efforts of legal educators to strengthen ethical values in the law school curriculum,” she said. “The qualifying exam for lawyers, the Bar examinations, now include questions of ethical dimensions in every Bar subject, emphasizing the fact that without ethical standards we are not a profession worthy of its name,” Sereno pointed out.

The Chief Justice said the Philippine Judicial Academy, the training school for judges and court personnel, continues to conduct regular training in the Code of Judicial Conduct and the new code for judicial personnel.

She said they also institute measures for greater transparency and public participation in the Judicial and Bar Council, which is in charge of the selection of nominees to the bench to make sure that those with questionable integrity are weeded out right away.

“Maybe this can be taken as indicator of the vigor in the judiciary now, but I can assure you that in the JBC, we are facing a very welcome problem and that is for a single slot, for example NCJR (National Capital Judicial Region), we have more than 130 applicants. So we seem to be an attractive destination,” Sereno said.

The judiciary, she said, views its role in fighting corruption as part of an integrated system of ensuring people’s trust in the courts.

“The court itself, through its public information office, has become more open to the public, for instance, for the first time in history and under my watch,” Sereno said, noting that “oral arguments are now accessible in real time through audio live streaming on YouTube.”

Documents on the court’s finances may now be downloadable by the public, she said.

‘Multi-headed monster’

Sereno likened corruption to a monster with many heads that cannot be stopped with a single blow.

One of the ways the judiciary can tackle such problem is to make sure that only incorruptible judges are appointed. She emphasized that the judiciary is in the thick of “painful but necessary” housecleaning.

She cited the case of Sandiganbayan associate justice Gregory Ong, who was dismissed for corruption, specifically his supposed links to alleged pork barrel fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. – With Edu Punay


FROM PHILSTAR

Tacloban evacuation underway for Typhoon Hagupit By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 7 googleplus1 4


SOURCE: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

MANILA, Philippines - This time, no one is taking any chances.

Communities were evacuated, schools were suspended and a ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum was moved to Manila as areas along the path of what is believed to be another super typhoon began moving out of harm’s way yesterday.

How to keep Super Typhoon Yolanda survivors still living in tents safe is another problem facing Tacloban City officials as a new, powerful cyclone threatens to bring giant waves ashore, possibly on the weekend.

Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said about 500 families were still living in tents more than a year after waves up to 23 feet tall driven ashore by Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed their homes.

The 500 and some 3,000 other families housed in temporary shelters are the priority in case the city government orders a mandatory evacuation, he said.

Residents of coastal villages and landslide-prone communities were told yesterday to move to designated evacuation areas, as Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) barreled toward the Visayas with winds of up to 140 kph and gusts of 170 kph. Hagupit is Filipino for lash or whip.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it is on red alert in anticipation of Ruby’s onslaught.

“The red alert means we will have full manning at the operations center. All member agencies will send focal persons and representatives for the purpose of coordination,” NDRRMC executive director Alexander Pama said.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who also chairs the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, issued an executive order suspending classes today until Saturday at all levels in public and private schools as well as work in all government institutions, except those involved in relief and rescue operations.

Classes at the University of the Philippines Visayas-Tacloban College will resume on Tuesday next week.

More than half of the 7,350 deaths from Yolanda devastation were in Tacloban City.

Ruby is hovering over Palau islands and is expected to pick up strength before hitting eastern Philippines on Saturday.

“Definitely we will now strictly enforce forced evacuation,” said Yaokasin. “We have no more excuse, we have gone through Yolanda, and to lose that many lives, it’s beyond our conscience already.”

As of yesterday afternoon, there was no indication that Ruby would be as strong or stronger than Yolanda, according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio. But while Ruby is weaker than Yolanda’s 250 kph winds, it is expected to bring 3-4 meter high storm surges, topple houses made of light materials and uproot trees.

He added there was a 75 percent chance the typhoon would hit land.

“We are on a worst (case) scenario,” Landrico Dalida Jr., PAGASA deputy administrator, said, adding there was a 25 percent chance Ruby may veer north and miss the Philippines as it heads to Japan.

But Aurelio said a high-pressure wall of air in the northern Pacific was preventing the typhoon from veering north.

PAGASA spotted the center of the typhoon at 1,278 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur at 4 p.m. yesterday, packing winds of 160 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 195 kph. Hagupit was forecast to move west-northwest at 30 kph.

Uneasy

The likelihood of another super typhoon is causing fear and anguish among many Yolanda survivors in Samar.

In Catbalogan City, Eduardo Morales, 52, who was busy fixing his house donated by a foreign donor when interviewed by The STAR, said the news of another typhoon coming rekindled terrifying memories of Yolanda.

Michael Tarce, a high school teacher in Basey National High School, said he would encourage his students not to report to school if Ruby intensifies.

The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council held an emergency meeting in preparation for another typhoon onslaught.

Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan said village leaders, rescuers and community coordinators were given fresh instructions regarding their respective tasks.

“We’re doing preparations so we can keep our communities – especially those in low-lying areas – safe,” Uy-Tan said.

City Social Welfare and Development Officer Nida Aroza briefed community officials of “preparations they should do” in case Ruby makes landfall.

“We appeal to the residents to be evacuated to bring necessary materials such as bed sheets, proper clothing, food utensils, among other basic things they can use in the centers,” Aroza said.

Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan convened the Samar Peace and Order Council for a reevaluation of provincial resources and medical capability.

Yolanda survivors still living in tents and tarps in the towns of Marabut, Sta. Rita and Basey packed up yesterday and moved to higher ground even without being advised to do so.

The same exodus was observed in Eastern Samar where churches and schools became instant evacuation centers.

PNP on alert

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima directed regional commanders to prepare for possible rescue and disaster assistance operations in areas likely to be hit by Ruby.

“I have already instructed the police regional directors of areas that may be affected by the incoming typhoon to make necessary preparations to ensure the safety of their constituents,” Purisima said.

He said police officials would coordinate with the local government units in undertaking measures to ensure public safety.

Purisima also reminded the police commanders to make available all personnel and equipment of the PNP for disaster response.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II also instructed officials in Region 5, 7, 8, and CARAGA to strictly observe risk reduction measures.

He also urged governors and mayors to convene the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council as part of disaster-mitigating preparations.

Standby funds

At the Department of Budget and Management, Secretary Florencio Abad said government is ready to respond quickly and accordingly to possible typhoon devastation as it has standby funds amounting to P4.69 billion.

“The departments are equipped with Quick Response Funds (QRFs), standby funds that they can access when emergencies or disasters occur. They can use these funds to mobilize resources and manpower to extend relief and immediate assistance to victims,” Abad said.

Agencies with QRFs are the departments of agriculture, education, health, defense, social welfare and development, and transportation and communications.

Since QRFs were released to the departments at the start of the year, the agencies have the capability to perform emergency response functions without having to go through tortuous conditions and processes during a disaster, Abad said.

He said funds could also be drawn from the 2014 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund and additional funds would be made available once the President signs into law the proposed 2015 national budget.

At the House of Representatives, telecommunications companies were reminded of a law requiring them to send free mobile alerts in case of an approaching typhoon or calamity.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, one of the authors of the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Law, issued the reminder in the light of threats from another strong typhoon.

With Evelyn, Macairan, Janvic Mateo, Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla, Zinnia dela Peña, Alexis Romero, Michelle Zoleta, Rainier Allan Ronda, Edith Regalado, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ricky Bautista, Lalaine Jimenea

LIVE Updates: Tropical cyclone 'Ruby' (philstar.com) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 11 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon "Hagupit" will be named "Ruby" as it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday.

It is expected to intensify into a supertyphoon before it hits landmass on Saturday in Eastern Visayas, the region region devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November last year.

Follow our real-time updates on the cyclone and contribute to Philstar.com's coverage by using the hashtag #RubyUpdates and #HagupitUpdates on Twitter.

AND AT PHILSTAR  LIVE Updates: Tropical cyclone 'Ruby'


FROM PHILSTAR

'Ruby' now a super typhoon, enters PAR By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 8:41am 2 1784 googleplus1 0


Image from the Satellite Services Division of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/

MANILA, Philippines - Tropical cyclone "Ruby" (international name "Hagupit") has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility while the United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) has classified it as a super typhoon.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) spotted the eye of Typhoon Ruby at 942 kilometers east northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur or 1, 023 kilometers east of Surigao City.

Ruby is bearing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph. It is expected to move west northwest at 25 kph.

Meanwhile, the JTWC said Ruby is packing one-minute average maximum sustained winds of 240 kph (130 knots) and gusts of up to 296 kph (160 knots).

The JTWC also sees Ruby to pack winds of 296 kph (160 knots) and gusts of up to 361 kph (195 knots) by December 5 and 6.

In a press conference yesterday, PAGASA said Ruby has a 75-percent chance to make landfall over Eastern Visayas on Saturday and cross the central Philippines. There is also a 25-percent possibility that it will recurve toward Japan.

The JTWC said Ruby will maintain a west northwestward trajectory under the steering influence of the subtropical ridge (STR). Within 48 hours, the super typhoon is expected to slow down.

JTWC forecast

According to the JTWC's latest prognosis and graphic forecast, Ruby may turn poleward and be near the Bicol region and Southern Luzon by December 7 and 8.

"There is a high probability that the system will start to turn poleward into the weakness in the STR though TAU 96. However, beyond that, the elongated STR in combination with the lower-level northeasterly surge will contribute in pushing the system on a more westward track into Southern Luzon," it said.

However, the Hawaii-based agency said that overall, there is low confidence in the said extended forecast track due to the significant division in the models.

There is also a possibility of an alternate forecast scenario, with the typhoon either signifcantly recurving east of the country or tracking westward into the Southern Philippines.

Rains over Bicol region, Eastern Visayas

In its 24-hour weather forecast, PAGASA said The Bicol region, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Davao region will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

Cagayan Valley and the provinces of Aurora and Quezon will have cloudy skies with light rains.

Northeast monsoon continues to affect Northern Luzon while the regions of Cordillera and Ilocos will experience partly cloudy to at times cloudy skies with isolated light rains.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

PAGASA has not raised any public storm warning signal over any area.

But as a precautionary measure, PAGASA and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council issued a list of areas that are critical due to the threat of the approaching typhoon.


FROM PHILSTAR

APEC meeting moved to Manila By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The approaching typhoon forced the transfer of the Informal Senior Officials Meeting (ISOM) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum from Legazpi City in Albay to Manila.

Malacañang said they decided to move the meeting to alternative venues following consultation with the APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee and other stakeholders, including Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.

Legazpi has been preparing for the ISOM that would be held from Dec. 8 to 9. The city is also slated to host other APEC-related meetings.

“While this is highly unfortunate, we have deemed it best to err on the side of prudence and ensure the safety of the delegates,” Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said in a statement.

Ochoa said the transfer of the meeting would allow the provincial government to focus on preparations for the coming typhoon, which is expected to hit the country this weekend.

“I wish to assure everyone that contingencies are in place. The government is ensuring that the rest of the activities push through, and is making preparations for the coming typhoon,” Ochoa said.

Ochoa thanked Salceda and the people of Albay for their cooperation and understanding.

“We are united in ensuring the safety and comfort of all delegates; we are likewise conscious of our abiding obligation to ensure that all steps are taken to prepare for the typhoon,” Ochoa said.

Salceda, for his part said he fully understood the decision to transfer the venue of the ISOM.

“I fully understand the decision made. There are other opportunities that Albay can take advantage of,” he said. – With Pia Lee-Brago


FROM PHILSTAR

Tagle hoping Pinoy compassion may inspire Pope Francis By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 7 googleplus0 0


Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle in Rome. AP file

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle yesterday expressed hope that Pope Francis would be inspired by the Filipinos’ display of mercy and compassion during the papal visit next year.

At the end of the more than one-hour recollection for members of the media and committees involved in preparations for the pope’s apostolic and state visit from Jan. 15 to 19 next year, Cardinal Tagle said that he is hoping that it would not only be the Filipinos who would learn about mercy and compassion, but the Pontiff as well.

“Mercy and compassion” would be the theme of Pope Francis’ five-day visit.

Tagle, who just arrived from Rome, mentioned that in an interview with Radio Vaticana last week he was asked what is it that he is hoping for, “and I told them that one of my hopes is that it would not only be Pope Francis who would bring mercy and compassion to Filipinos.

“(But) I am hoping that the pope would also be inspired and learn from the Filipinos and that he would see how Filipinos demonstrate their mercy and how we show compassion to others. The pope will come not only as a teacher but also as someone in need of inspiration. Let us inspire him,” he added.

Tagle said that the pope also said he is hoping that Jesus Christ, and not him, would be the focus of the visit.

He said that during Advent, the faithful should not lose sight of Christ as the center of the season, a season “filled with hope and expectation.”

Meanwhile, Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Commission on Mass Media, also said they are expecting bishops from some Asian countries to be present during the papal visit.

Bishop Cornelius Sim of the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei is one of the Asian bishops who will be flying to Manila.

Cardinal’s advice

Tagle had earlier advised politicians not to use the visit of Pope Francis for political gain.

Tagle, committee chairman of the papal visit 2015, urged politicians not to include their pictures or names in the banners and streamers that would be put up to welcome the pope in January to boost their candidacy in the 2016 elections.

The visit of Pope Francis, who has endeared himself to many Filipinos because of his simplicity, humility and acceptance of people regardless of race and religion, is most anticipated next year from Jan. 15 to 19.

Tagle said while there is nothing wrong with putting up banners to welcome the pope, the gesture should be done with the best intentions.

“It is not wrong for local communities to show their own ways to welcome the pope. We Filipinos have buntings and streamers and others. First, let us not be extravagant in our welcome preparations, we all know that the Holy Father is appealing for simplicity and what is the call of the times. We can be hospitable in a way that is warm and simple,” said Tagle.

He also appealed to the public to maintain cleanliness and orderliness. “Let us take care of the environment.”

“This is a spiritual and pastoral visit of the pope. We welcome him being Pastor of the Church. Let us respect the nature of his visit. My appeal is that for those who would be conceptualizing his welcome, let us not use the occasion for other motivation. As other people say, if for their self-promotion or maybe it would be used to start their personal campaign. Use the name of the church not to draw attention to yourself,” Tagle pointed out.


FROM PHILSTAR

Peacekeepers discharged, cleared of Ebola virus By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


FILE PHOTO Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang chats with soldiers under quarantine on Caballo Island.

MANILA, Philippines - Military peacekeepers from Ebola-stricken Liberia were discharged yesterday from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Medical Center in Quezon City after they were cleared of disease.

AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the troops that were part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia completed the routine medical screening at around 3 a.m. and were discharged from the military hospital at 6 a.m.

The medical screening is a standard operating procedure for all peacekeepers deployed overseas.

The peacekeepers were then brought to the Peacekeeping Operations Center in Camp Aguinaldo to allow them to rest.

“We are very happy that finally, our peacekeepers have completed the quarantine and required medical screening procedures,” Cabunoc said in a press conference.

“They are now ready to meet their family members and mingle with the armed forces personnel during the heroes’ welcome to be held at 4:30 p.m. today,” he added.

As of yesterday, only 107 of the 108 military peacekeepers were pronounced physically fit to attend the heroes’ welcome.

The peacekeeper suffering from chest pains might remain in hospital as doctors have not issued him clearance to join the event.

“We’re not yet sure if the peacekeeper who was brought to AFP Medical Center due to chest pain would be able to participate in the heroes’ welcome. He’s still confined and is under observation,” Cabunoc said.

The 133 members of the 18th Philippine Contingent to Liberia underwent 21-day quarantine in Caballo Island upon their arrival in the country last month. Of the 133 peacekeepers, 108 are soldiers while the rest are policemen and jail management personnel.

The peacekeepers left Caballo Island last Tuesday noon after completing the 21-day quarantine.

They were brought to Sangley Point on board the Navy ship BRP Dagupan City before being transported to the AFP Medical Center.

The peacekeepers were seen practicing for the heroes’ welcome at the Camp Aguinaldo Grandstand yesterday afternoon.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., key military officials and the families of peacekeepers would attend the event.

Members of the peacekeeping contingent will receive UN Service Medals during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Cabunoc said the four military peacekeepers still under quarantine at the AFP Medical Center are in good condition.

“The four peacekeepers… are happy just like the other peacekeepers and they are doing well,” he added.

The four arrived from Liberia last Nov. 22 or 10 days after the arrival of the other peacekeepers because they were ordered to watch over the team’s equipment.


FROM PHILSTAR

Account for P115-B Yolanda fund, Palace urged By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is being asked to account first for about P115 billion in Yolanda reconstruction funds before asking for billions more from Congress for the same purpose.

Senior deputy minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares made the appeal yesterday in the wake of President Aquino’s inclusion of P9.5 billion in his proposed P22.5-billion supplemental budget for this year.

“They should first account for all those billions that Congress allocated for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of communities devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda,” Colmenares said.

He recalled that Congress had included a P100-billion Yolanda reconstruction fund in the 2014 budget.

He said before 2013 ended, just a month after the killer typhoon pummeled the Samar-Leyte provinces and other parts of the Visayas, Congress approved a P14.6-billion supplemental budget for victims of Yolanda and previous disasters.

On top of these funds, he said the House and the Senate passed a joint resolution authorizing the use of the balances of 2013 appropriations to help calamity and disaster victims.

“They have not rendered an accounting of all these funds, and now they are asking for P9.5 billion more,” he added.

Of the P9.5 billion in the proposed 2014 additional budget, P8 billion would go to the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the construction of permanent housing for Yolanda victims.

The remaining P1.5 billion would be allocated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for “temporary shelter assistance” for the same victims.

Last May 14, the Senate-House committee on public expenditures conducted a hearing at the Batasan complex in Quezon City on Yolanda fund releases.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairman, and his Senate counterpart, Francis Escudero, jointly chair the oversight panel.

NHA general manager Chito Cruz informed the panel that his agency had received at that time about P11 billion for the construction of permanent housing, but that only 50 units had been finished and turned over to displaced families in Tanauan town in Leyte.

He said NHA was in the process of constructing an additional 1,000 houses out of the 220,000 units it has been tasked to build.

“Our problem is with the land. We can only build on public land. So far, out of the more than 1,300 hectares that we need, local government units have given us 125 hectares. We are suggesting that we be authorized to buy private land,” he said.

He added that they also have to secure the necessary clearances and permits from several agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources before they can begin building houses on public land.

The oversight panel also learned that of the P100-billion Yolanda reconstruction fund in the 2014 budget, only P3.7 billion had been used.

The information prompted Escudero to say, “It has already been six months since Yolanda. Why are we so slow in helping the victims? There is a lot of money and yet we are not spending it. We have not heard anything that is good and promising.”

He said the concerned agencies “do not have the sense of urgency that our people are clamoring for” and President Aquino should tell these agencies to do their job faster.

Colmenares said Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) should explain in detail the appropriations contained in the proposed 2014 supplemental budget, including those for Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) projects.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE