PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

HOLY WEEK EXODUS STARTS


Faithful and True students of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila venerate a crucifix installed at the university’s entrance as commuters . 
 President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd has instructed concerned government agencies to ensure public safety and comfort in view of the annual exodus of people who will spend Holy Week in the provinces, his spokesman in Malacańang said over the weekend.  Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the President wants authorities to ensure order in major bus terminals, seaports and airports.  “The President specifically directed the agencies to immediately attend to the needs of the public by setting up public assistance desks in all public transport terminals where thousands are expected this week,” he said in Filipino.  The President specifically instructed the Toll Regulatory Board to ensure that motorists pass the major expressways with ease and to prevent long queues of vehicles at the toll gates. He also wants the Department of Transportation of Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to make sure that there are enough buses to avoid overloading, and that only legitimate buses ply their intended routes, Coloma said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope, on Palm Sunday, pays tribute to ‘today's martyrs’


PHOTO FROM REUTERS:
Thousands of people, including the 78-year-old Argentine pope and prelates dressed in red vestments, carried palm fronds and branches in St. Peter's Square on the day that marks the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday.
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis led the world's Roman Catholics in Palm Sunday celebrations by paying tribute to those killed for their faith, a reference to the victims of Islamic State militants. Francis, who earlier this month began the third year of his papacy, presided at a colorful procession in St. Peter's Square commemorating the day the Bible says people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus days before he was crucified. Thousands of people, including the 78-year-old Argentine pope and prelates dressed in red vestments, carried palm fronds and branches in St. Peter's Square on the day that marks the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday.

In his homily during the Mass that followed, Francis, who last month denounced the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya, paid tribute to those he said were being killed for their faith today. "We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price," he said, speaking in Italian. "We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. There are many of them. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity," he said.

ALSO: Keep faith stronger, says Tagle


PALM SUNDAY MASS Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle holds a palm frond during the Palm Sunday Mass at Manila Cathedral. Palm Sunday marks the start of the Holy Week. RAFFY LERMA
Be faithful even if you are being mocked. Don’t let popular opinion sway your beliefs and commitments. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle gave this message to the faithful yesterday, Palm Sunday, as Catholics across the Philippines flocked to churches to have their palm fronds blessed. The celebration of Palm Sunday ushers in the Holy Week. In his homily during Mass at the Manila Cathedral, Tagle said the passion and death of Jesus Christ spoke of an unwavering faith in God, which Filipino Catholics must follow in their day-to-day life. He said Jesus’ faith that paved the way to the fulfillment of Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy about His crucifixion was unshakable even if he was subjected to suffering and ridicule. Way to new life “Brothers and sisters, let us reflect. There are many problems happening in our personal life and in the society because we are not faithful to God,” Tagle said in Filipino. READ MORE...

ALSO: 2 penitents to be nailed to crosses in Pampanga on Good Friday


TOWERING PRESENCE – The 30-foot statue of the Risen Christ casts a dominating presence over the rolling landscape of Tarlac province at the Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose, Tarlac late Friday afternoon as visitors take time to pray and have their pictures taken at the pilgrimage destination where thousands are expected to flock this Holy Week. (Jojo Rinoza) 
On Good Friday, 22 persons will be nailed to wooden crosses in crucifixion sites in three barangays in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.
CSF Councilor Harvey A. Quiwa, chairman of the city’s “2015 Maleldo,” said the three crucifixion cites are Barangays San Juan, Sta. Lucia, and San Pedro Cutud. Fifteen penitents are expected to be nailed to crosses in Barangay San Pedro Cutud; four in San Juan, and three in Sta Lucia.  “We expect 50,000 to 60,000 local and foreign tourists to flock to the crucifixion sites. The penitents will be nailed one by one starting at 9 a.m. in Barangay San Juan; at 10 a.m. in Barangay Sta. Lucia; and, 1 p.m. in Barangay San Pedro Cutud,’’ Quiwa said. Ruben Enaje of San Pedro Cutud will once again play the role of “Kristo” this year. It will be the 29th year he will be nailed on a wooden cross, Quiwa said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Suddenly, mall-goers see stars, not lights, as SM joins Earth Day rites


The moon and the stars became visible to visitors of 58 SM malls nationwide after the lights went out Saturday night to mark Earth Hour, the global campaign on climate change awareness. 
After a 10-second countdown, SM Supermalls senior vice president Steven Tan and World Wildlife Fund National Advisory Council CEO Lory Tan, together with Miss Earth Philippines candidates pushed the button that signaled the shutting down of power in the malls all over the country.  With the lights dimmed, mall goers, shoppers and organizers of the Earth Hour movement were able to gaze at the stars, planets and constellations through telescopes that were placed in strategic areas in participating malls. Fire dancers used ropes with glittering lights that glowed in the dark to entertain the audience during the one-hour long darkness.  Earth Hour is a worldwide annual grassroots movement of the WWF that seeks to raise consciousness on climate change and its adverse effects on the planet.  This year’s global tagline is “Use Your Power to Change Climate Change.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Typhoon enters PAR on Holy Wednesday


Satellite image Courtesy of wunderground.com 
Days before its expected entry into the country’s area of responsibility on Holy Wednesday, the tropical cyclone with international name “Maysak” reached the typhoon category yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.
As of Sunday morning, “Maysak” was estimated at 2,810 kilometers (km) east of Mindanao, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness up to 160 kph. It is forecast to move west at 20 kph, according to the weather bureau. Should it maintain its present speed and track, the typhoon will enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Holy Wednesday and may make landfall over Northern Luzon by weekend, PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said in an interview. Once inside the PAR, the typhoon will be given the local name of “Chedeng,” the second tropical cyclone to enter PAR this month and third this year. READ ON...

ALSO: Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’


Members of the Philippine National Police's Special Action Force carrying their fallen comrades killed by bandits in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25, 2015. File photo MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers are demanding the arrest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters involved in the killing of 44 policemen in Mamasapano before the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives deliberating on the BBL, prodded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up its investigation and file charges against the MILF guerrillas as the Aquino administration wants the draft law passed in June. “You cannot just have peace if justice will not be served,” Rodriguez said over dzBB radio yesterday. He noted that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has asked for an additional two weeks from April 2 to finish her report and prosecute the alleged perpetrators. READ MORE...

ALSO: Bangsamoro changes inevitable– senators


ESCUDERO: THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should be open to changes in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because the revisions that will be introduced by lawmakers will make the bill withstand legal scrutiny, senators said on Sunday. Sen. Francis Escudero said revisions are inevitable because many lawmakers believe that some provisions of the proposed law that seeks to establish a Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are unconstitutional. The senator added that the Citizens’ Council on Bangsamoro Law that President Benigno Aquino 3rd wants established should not only work on helping the public understand the proposed BBL but explain to the MILF that changes are needed to make the bill acceptable. “I hope the council together with the government peace panel will help sell the congressional amendments to the BBL to the MILF and for the MILF to accept them,” Escudero said. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Holy Week exodus starts


Faithful and True students of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila venerate a crucifix installed at the university’s entrance as commuters .

MANILA, MARCH 30, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) by WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL AND PND March 28, 2015 9:32 pm - President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd has instructed concerned government agencies to ensure public safety and comfort in view of the annual exodus of people who will spend Holy Week in the provinces, his spokesman in Malacańang said over the weekend.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the President wants authorities to ensure order in major bus terminals, seaports and airports.

“The President specifically directed the agencies to immediately attend to the needs of the public by setting up public assistance desks in all public transport terminals where thousands are expected this week,” he said in Filipino.

The President specifically instructed the Toll Regulatory Board to ensure that motorists pass the major expressways with ease and to prevent long queues of vehicles at the toll gates. He also wants the Department of Transportation of Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to make sure that there are enough buses to avoid overloading, and that only legitimate buses ply their intended routes, Coloma said.

READ MORE...
The DOTC, Coast Guard and airport authorities must ensure that piers and airports are orderly, that safety devices are in place, and that public assistance centers or desks are available to help passengers, Coloma said.

The President further directed the DOTC and the Coast Guard to see to it that only passengers listed in the manifest of ships could board, and that all ships servicing different destinations must be seaworthy.

Coloma further said that the Department of Public Works and Highways must make certain that roads are passable and in good condition, and that repairs must be completed to avoid traffic congestion.

Public assistance centers should be set up in strategic locations to help motorists encountering problems, and the police must carry out measures to maintain peace and order, he said.

He noted that the President instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be on alert to immediately respond to any emergency, such as accidents, fires, and crimes; and the Metro Manila police to intensify Oplan Lambat Sibat to prevent crimes.

Moreover, the President ordered health authorities and personnel to be ready to respond to road accidents, illnesses that arise during summer, and other emergencies.

The President also wants the Department of Energy to ensure a steady supply of electricity during the Holy Week.

President Aquino is advising the public to exercise extra caution while on the road, follow traffic rules and guidelines, control their temper, bring first-aid kits and medicines, and secure their homes before leaving, Coloma said.

Leaders of the local Catholic church meanwhile called on the faithful to reflect, meditate and pray for enlightenment during the observance of the Holy Week.

Palm Sunday is the day when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey before he was crucified by Roman soldiers on orders of Pontius Pilate..

As written in the Gospel of St. John (Chapter 12, verses 13-14), it was called Palm Sunday because believers were all waving palm leaves when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

St. John says: “Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord, And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon…”

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Saturday said that the Holy Week is the most opportune time for all Christians to atone for their sins through penitence and ask for forgiveness from the Lord.

“Let us open our eyes and hearts. Let us do something to lessen the impact of calamities. Let us change our lifestyles so catastrophes caused by humans will no longer wreak havoc in the future.”

Penitential walk Tagle encouraged the faithful to make use of the “Penitential Walk: Deliverance from Calamities and for Peace” to ask for forgiveness from the Lord and make a difference by helping underprivileged people, not only those crippled by the onslaught of typhoons and other calamities, but also those oppressed by corruption, injustice, absence of truth, loss of concern for others, of selfishness, and insensitivity.

The seven-kilometer Penitential Walk will be held on Good Friday. It will start at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City, and end at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.


GMA NEWS TV

Pope, on Palm Sunday, pays tribute to ‘today's martyrs’ March 29, 2015 5:56pm


PHOTO FROM REUTERS: Thousands of people, including the 78-year-old Argentine pope and prelates dressed in red vestments, carried palm fronds and branches in St. Peter's Square on the day that marks the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday.

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis led the world's Roman Catholics in Palm Sunday celebrations by paying tribute to those killed for their faith, a reference to the victims of Islamic State militants.

Francis, who earlier this month began the third year of his papacy, presided at a colorful procession in St. Peter's Square commemorating the day the Bible says people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus days before he was crucified.

Thousands of people, including the 78-year-old Argentine pope and prelates dressed in red vestments, carried palm fronds and branches in St. Peter's Square on the day that marks the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday.

In his homily during the Mass that followed, Francis, who last month denounced the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya, paid tribute to those he said were being killed for their faith today.

"We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price," he said, speaking in Italian.

"We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. There are many of them. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity," he said.

READ MORE...
Francis has at times expressed alarm over the rise of Islamic State militants and the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

He has said that the international community would be justified in using military force as a last resort to stop "unjust aggression" but that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict.

The coming week is one of the busiest in the liturgical calendar for the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

On Holy Thursday, he presides at two services, including one at a Rome prison where he will wash and kiss the feet of male and female inmates to commemorate Christ's gesture of humility towards his apostles on the night before he died.

Francis is the first pope to hold the foot-washing service outside a church and to include women and Muslims, which has upset conservative Catholics.

He presides at two Good Friday services, including a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the Colosseum.

After celebrating Easter Eve and Easter Day Masses he delivers his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message. Reuters

GMA NEWS PHOTO BELOW: Devotees wave palm fronds at Palm Sunday rites in Bulacan Catholic devotees wave their palm fronds Palm Sunday rites at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in San Jose Del Monte Bulacan on March 29, 2015. Danny Pata

WATCH: Priest blesses palm fronds on Palm Sunday March 29, 2015 7:23am


Filipino Catholics on Sunday began a week-long commemoration of Christ's passion and death by marking His triumphant entry to Jerusalem, which is traditionally being called to mind by the faithful through Palm Sunday rites.
Many brought palm fronds to church and re-enacted Christ's entry to Jerusalem, waving the leaves at the priest as he made the entrance procession to the altar before the start of Mass. In Parańaque City, churchgoers had their palm fronds blessed by a priest at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help shrine in Baclaran, as shown in a video tweeted by radio dzBB's Manny Vargas.

CLICK HERE: VIDEO PALM SUNDAY IN BACLARAN


INQUIRER

Keep faith stronger, says Tagle
Ador Vincent S. Mayol/Inquirer Visayas, Jocelyn R. Uy | Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:41 AM | Monday, March 30th, 2015


PALM SUNDAY MASS Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle holds a palm frond during the Palm Sunday Mass at Manila Cathedral. Palm Sunday marks the start of the Holy Week. RAFFY LERMA

Be faithful even if you are being mocked. Don’t let popular opinion sway your beliefs and commitments.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle gave this message to the faithful yesterday, Palm Sunday, as Catholics across the Philippines flocked to churches to have their palm fronds blessed. The celebration of Palm Sunday ushers in the Holy Week.

In his homily during Mass at the Manila Cathedral, Tagle said the passion and death of Jesus Christ spoke of an unwavering faith in God, which Filipino Catholics must follow in their day-to-day life.

He said Jesus’ faith that paved the way to the fulfillment of Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy about His crucifixion was unshakable even if he was subjected to suffering and ridicule.

Way to new life

“Brothers and sisters, let us reflect. There are many problems happening in our personal life and in the society because we are not faithful to God,” Tagle said in Filipino.

READ MORE...
“People are easy to change their faith and commitment if these are no longer popular or agreeable,” he said. “I hope we become truthful to God even if we are being laughed at, mocked or misunderstood because this kind of faith that Jesus showed will give us a new life.”

Tagle also advised the youth to be steadfast in what they do or believe in.

Stick to what’s right

“Don’t be swayed even if your friends laugh at you. If what you are doing is right, stick to it,” he said.

“This laughter and suffering will all be fleeting. You will experience a deeper happiness because you’ve been faithful to God and your suffering is one that is sincere.”

But the archbishop was quick to differentiate between this kind of suffering and that endured by unscrupulous people.

“There are those who are suffering because they did foolish things or because they plundered. This is not the kind of suffering that Jesus experienced,” he said.

Sin of stealing

Also known as Passion Sunday, yesterday’s celebration commemorated Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem, before his crucifixion, riding a donkey into the Holy City, where adoring crowds welcomed him with palm fronds.

Recently, Tagle encouraged parishioners taking part in the visita iglesia on Holy Thursday to wear shirts with the statement “Huwag Kang Magnakaw” (Do not steal) to make the occasion extra meaningful.

He made the pitch in a circular encouraging those participating in visita iglesia to examine individually and collectively their conscience with respect to the sin of stealing.

A tradition on Holy Thursday—which commemorates the Last Supper of Christ with the Apostles—is visita iglesia (Spanish for “church visit”), which involves going to seven or 14 churches to meditate on the Way of the Cross.

“It is in this regard that we are calling on parishioners joining the annual visita iglesia to wear the ‘Huwag Kang Magnakaw’ T-shirt as a symbol of rejecting the sin of stealing,” Tagle said in his circular.

Earlier, in Cebu City, Archbishop Jose Palma called on priests to make the sacraments of the Church free of charge.

Addressing more than 300 priests during chrism Mass at Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on March 24, the 65-year-old prelate said the clergy needed to truly respond to the call to become a “Church of the Poor.”

“We need to go out of ourselves, leave our comfort zones, and reach out to those in the peripheries. Sometimes we think we have little to give. But the spiritual gifts we have are many,” Palma told the congregation.

Palma said avoiding money payments in performing the sacraments, particularly baptism and matrimony, was the best way to celebrate the Year of the Poor in the Philippines.

He also encouraged parishes to hold first communion for street children, a program introduced by Fr. Carmelo Diola of the Dilaab Foundation Inc, and start feeding programs akin to the “Kusina ni Santa Marta” of Msgr. Achilles Dakay.

“There has to be an end to this so-called culture of indifference. I must say that indifference to others is a crime. And the only Christian way is to get involved,”ť Palma said.

Helping the poor

He instructed Msgr. Daniel Sanico and Msgr. Rey Penagunda—the two vicars general of the Archdiocese of Cebu—to submit a report in August on how priests responded to his call to make the sacraments available for free.

“I want a record, not because we want to show off but because I want all of us priests to do what we ought to do,” the archbishop said.

Palma said he wanted priests to be “creative” in how they could help the poor in their parishes and areas.

“I hope parishes will come up with programs to make the sacraments available without people thinking about fees,” he said.

The seven sacraments of the Church are Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders (priesthood) and Extreme Unction.

The Archdiocese of Cebu has 387 diocesan priests, 340 religious priests and 1,308 religious sisters, They administer to 3.8 million Catholics in Cebu, called “the cradle of Christianity” in the Far East.


MANILA BULLETIN

22 penitents to be nailed to crosses in Pampanga on Good Friday by Franco G. Regala March 30, 2015


TOWERING PRESENCE – The 30-foot statue of the Risen Christ casts a dominating presence over the rolling landscape of Tarlac province at the Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose, Tarlac late Friday afternoon as visitors take time to pray and have their pictures taken at the pilgrimage destination where thousands are expected to flock this Holy Week. (Jojo Rinoza)

On Good Friday, 22 persons will be nailed to wooden crosses in crucifixion sites in three barangays in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.

CSF Councilor Harvey A. Quiwa, chairman of the city’s “2015 Maleldo,” said the three crucifixion cites are Barangays San Juan, Sta. Lucia, and San Pedro Cutud. Fifteen penitents are expected to be nailed to crosses in Barangay San Pedro Cutud; four in San Juan, and three in Sta Lucia.

“We expect 50,000 to 60,000 local and foreign tourists to flock to the crucifixion sites. The penitents will be nailed one by one starting at 9 a.m. in Barangay San Juan; at 10 a.m. in Barangay Sta. Lucia; and, 1 p.m. in Barangay San Pedro Cutud,’’ Quiwa said.

Ruben Enaje of San Pedro Cutud will once again play the role of “Kristo” this year. It will be the 29th year he will be nailed on a wooden cross, Quiwa said.

READ MORE...
Enaje, in an interview with the Bulletin and Tempo last year, said he had made a vow to be nailed on Good Friday as his way of thanking God for surviving a fall from a scaffolding many years back. He had previously announced to retire last year but decided to continue, saying: “Malakas pa ako; kaya pa natin ituloy ang panata natin (I’m still strong; I’m still fit to fulfill my act of devotion).”

Maleldo (Holy Week) is one of the most honored traditions in Pampanga and in the country. The re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion is done annually in the city where the Via Crusis (Way of the Cross) was originally staged in 1955.

Chief Supt. Ronald V. Santos, Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) officer-in-charge, said that the police have been implementing heightened security in churches, malls, beaches, and transporation terminals for the Holy Week and the summer exodus.

In Angeles City, the Angeles City Tourism Office (ACTO) will hold several activities starting today, March 30, in observance of Lent, in partnership with the socio-civic, performing arts, and the religious sectors.

ACTO said that this year’s Lenten observance Sinukwan Kapampangan’s “Panata at Panalangin: A Spiritual Journey through Culture and the Arts,” featuring an art exhibit and dance performances depicting the religious practices of the Kapampangan region, is now on its fourth annual presentation. It will run until April 4 at MarQuee Park, under the direction of Peter de Vera.

On March 30-April 1, a Holy Week recollection with the theme “Thinking of the Poor, Feeling for the Poor, and Caring for the Poor” will be led by the Holy Rosary Parish Church (HRPC). Speakers include Fr. Rocky Evangelista of Tuloy Foundation, Peter de Vera of Bale-Balayan Museum for the Poor, and veteran journalist Kara David with her advocacy “Project Malasakit.”

On Wednesday, April 1, HRPC will present “Dalan ning Krus” (Stations of the Cross) at 4 p.m; Barangay Tabun will hold its annual community-wide fellowship through “Apunan ning Pamisanmetung” around 7 p.m. This event is a get-together led by the barangay’s officials, which aims to unite Tabun’s community and the people who come from various religious groups and backgrounds.

On Thursday, April 2, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Bisita Iglesia: Veneration of the Blessed Sacrament will take place at the Holy Rosary Parish Church.

The Lourdes Northwest Barangay Council and Jason Pabalan’s Uyat Artista will stage a two-part re-enactment of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion of Christ with “Siete Palabras” (The Seven Last Words) on April 2-3.

Angeleńos will join in the Veneration of the Cross and the Good Friday Procession on April 3 at the Holy Rosary Parish Church.

Culminating the city’s week-long Lenten observance is HRPC’s Easter Vigil, Easter Procession, and the traditional “Salubong” from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

PALM SUNDAY MASS

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said yesterday there are many problems in society today because people are unfaithful to God.

In his homily during the Palm Sunday Mass at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Cadinal Tagle cited the tendency of some people to change what they stand for. “We readily change our position, our commitment, when it’s no longer popular,” he said.

He urged the youth to remain firm if they think that what they are doing is right. “Others may laugh at you but this won’t be long. Your suffering won’t be long. The kind of happiness you will experience is much deeper because you have been faithful to God,” he said.

“Let us be faithful to God even if we are being laughed at, ridiculed, and not understood by others. That kind of faithfulness as shown by Jesus, is what gave us new life.” (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)


MANILA STANDARD

Suddenly, mall-goers see stars, not lights, as SM joins Earth Day rites By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Mar. 30, 2015 at 12:01am

The moon and the stars became visible to visitors of 58 SM malls nationwide after the lights went out Saturday night to mark Earth Hour, the global campaign on climate change awareness.

After a 10-second countdown, SM Supermalls senior vice president Steven Tan and World Wildlife Fund National Advisory Council CEO Lory Tan, together with Miss Earth Philippines candidates pushed the button that signaled the shutting down of power in the malls all over the country.

With the lights dimmed, mall goers, shoppers and organizers of the Earth Hour movement were able to gaze at the stars, planets and constellations through telescopes that were placed in strategic areas in participating malls.

Fire dancers used ropes with glittering lights that glowed in the dark to entertain the audience during the one-hour long darkness.

Earth Hour is a worldwide annual grassroots movement of the WWF that seeks to raise consciousness on climate change and its adverse effects on the planet.

This year’s global tagline is “Use Your Power to Change Climate Change.”

READ MORE...
The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. It has earned the status of “Earth Hero Country” because it has consistently tallied the most participating localities in the event.

SM, through its corporate social responsibility arm, SM Cares, has been a participant of the Earth Hour with the number of malls taking part in the hour-long lights our increasing every year.

SM Cares has been actively pushing for sustainability in its malls’ operations by implementing various environment-friendly measures to improve the communities they serve.

Earth Hour, which uses the simple action of turning off lights for 60 minutes to highlight the need for decisive climate change solutions, has grown into a worldwide movement since it started in Australia in 2007.

Recognized as the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment, Earth Hour has reached 154 countries as of 2013, involving 7,000 towns and cities all over the world.

Last year, Earth Hour decided to make Spiderman the “superhero ambassador” for Earth Hour to send the message that everyone can be a superhero when it comes to protecting the environment.


MANILA BULLETIN

Typhoon enters PAR on Holy Wednesday by Ellalyn De Vera March 30, 2015


Satellite image Courtesy of wunderground.com

Days before its expected entry into the country’s area of responsibility on Holy Wednesday, the tropical cyclone with international name “Maysak” reached the typhoon category yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

As of Sunday morning, “Maysak” was estimated at 2,810 kilometers (km) east of Mindanao, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness up to 160 kph. It is forecast to move west at 20 kph, according to the weather bureau.

Should it maintain its present speed and track, the typhoon will enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Holy Wednesday and may make landfall over Northern Luzon by weekend, PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said in an interview.

Once inside the PAR, the typhoon will be given the local name of “Chedeng,” the second tropical cyclone to enter PAR this month and third this year.

READ ON...
“If it continues to assume a westward track, the typhoon may hit Northern Luzon next weekend. If we consider this scenario, rains may be felt as early as Good Friday or Black Saturday in northern Luzon areas,” he added.

However, the possibility of making landfall may still change as the typhoon is still far from the country, he noted.

Today, Batanes, Babuyan, and the Calayan Group of Islands will experience partly cloudy to at times cloudy skies with isolated light rains due to the weak northeast monsoon or “amihan” affecting Northern Luzon.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms, PAGASA said.

Aurelio said PAGASA may issue the termination of northeast monsoon this week, which signifies warmer weather in most parts of the country until late May or early June. The warm and humid easterly winds coming from the Pacific Ocean and ridge of high pressure area will be the dominant weather systems during summer, he added.

“We are continuously monitoring the presence of weak northeast monsoon in Northern Luzon. It may further weaken and eventually dissipate this week,” he added.

Based on the PAGASA’s four-day extended outlook, maximum temperature range in Metro Manila from March 30 to April 2 is from 33 degrees Celsius to 34 degrees Celsius.


PHILSTAR

Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’ By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 30, 2015 - 12:00am


Members of the Philippine National Police's Special Action Force carrying their fallen comrades killed by bandits in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25, 2015. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers are demanding the arrest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters involved in the killing of 44 policemen in Mamasapano before the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives deliberating on the BBL, prodded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up its investigation and file charges against the MILF guerrillas as the Aquino administration wants the draft law passed in June.

“You cannot just have peace if justice will not be served,” Rodriguez said over dzBB radio yesterday.

He noted that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has asked for an additional two weeks from April 2 to finish her report and prosecute the alleged perpetrators.

READ MORE...
While the Senate and the Board of Inquiry of the Philippine National Police have completed their respective probes and submitted their findings, Rodriguez stressed that the DOJ’s action is crucial.

“Ultimately, the accountability of any person for any crime would depend on what DOJ sees,” Rodriguez said.

The ad hoc panel suspended its deliberations on the BBL following public outrage over the involvement of the MILF in the killing of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25

The BBL was drafted under the peace agreement between the MILF and the government. The proposed law seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao led by the MILF.

The committee is scheduled to resume deliberations on April 20 after President Aquino pushed House leaders to pass the BBL during a meeting in Malacańang towards the end of February without “diluting it too much.”

Rodriguez said the prosecution of those involved in the killing of the 44 policemen would greatly boost the chances of House members voting for the BBL, but not after removing its unconstitutional provisions.

He also warned the MILF against blocking the arrest even as he asked the group to surrender its fighters involved in the killings.

Rodriguez said the MILF guerrillas are also Filipinos under the jurisdiction of the country’s justice system.

He noted pronouncements from the MILF that it will not surrender its men involved in the incident.

“Therefore we’re going to make sure that there will be an implementation of the arrest. They (MILF) have to follow the warrant of arrest. And they already know that the government is going to implement it. There’s no more coordination. They’ll be run over if that’s needed. There is no compromise when the case is already filed,” Rodriguez said.

He said the government would be seen as weak if it cannot enforce its warrants of arrest against the suspects.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez hit the DOJ for its slow action on the case, pointing out that even the MILF has finished its probe.

“So our question is has anything been done at all? Can the widows or kin of the SAF 44 still expect justice for the slaughter of their husbands, sons or brothers?” Romualdez remarked.

He said the MILF leadership has repeatedly declared it will not surrender the killers, therefore it knows who the gunmen are.

“But despite this total disregard of the law, the government would not even demand the surrender of the killers. Adding insult to injury is the fact that instead of ensuring justice for the SAF 44, the government is already pushing heaven and earth for the passage of the proposed BBL untouched. So whose side is the government on, the MILF or the Filipino people?” he asked.

Cause and effect

Malacańang believes the Mamasapano incident caused a setback in the process of approving the BBL.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said most Filipinos want peace and that people were only distracted by the Mamasapano incident.

“The Mamasapano incident made an effect but we need to look at the peace process in and of itself,” Lacierda said. “What we need to see now is the specific BBL that is being discussed before Congress, which is now being tackled by stakeholders.

“We continue to believe, the general population believes in the peace process and they so adhere to the importance of peace and to the principle that peace would bring a solution,” he added.

What the national government wants now is for the Mamasapano incident not to stand in the way of the passage by Congress of the BBL.

“We can discuss in a non-impassioned manner the peace process and, specifically, the BBL. We would like to provide a space for stakeholders other than those who have been speaking out very recently, to also share their voice and to share their discourse in an objective and in a deliberative process without emotions,” Lacierda said.

“And, again, looking at the prism of the peace process through the prism of stakeholders – all stakeholders involved,” he said.

President Aquino has formed a peace council in the effort to pitch for the BBL.

Lacierda maintained the President wants the National Peace Summit convened for purposes of educating the public in general about the benefits of a lasting peace in Mindanao, which should not be limited to the Mamasapano incident.

“The National Peace Summit was convened to engage more stakeholders. There are many stakeholders who are out there and this is an instrument by which all the stakeholders can converge and discuss peace,” he said.

Romualdez, on the other hand, said the President has lost all credibility to push for the BBL so he resorted to tapping well-respected non-government leaders to form the peace council.

He described the effort as a desperate public relations campaign.

“That’s (formation of council) an abdication on part of Malacańang which has lost all credibility to push the BBL,” Romualdez said.

“The President is aware that he is facing an uphill battle in Congress to pass the BBL that is why he is tapping a group of citizens’ leaders known for their integrity, credibility and wisdom to do the PR job,” he said

Former Manila mayor and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said the peace council should still consult with Congress because it is the only one under the Constitution that can pass laws.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said Aquino is sowing fear to force Congress and Filipinos to accept the BBL.

On Friday, Aquino in a televised address renewed the call for the passage of the BBL, warning that failure to forge peace would mean “counting body bags.”

“The President is tacitly terrorizing people in the name of peace. He is busy sowing fear instead of reason and rational discourse on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. He’s selling peace in the context of terror,” UNA interim president and Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco said.

Tiangco said the President has expressed desire to have the BBL enacted before his term ends.

Tiangco said every Filipino wants peace but the law granting autonomy to the Bangsamoro should be constitutional.

“We all want lasting peace but the BBL should not be at the expense of what the basic law of the land says. It is improper to rush its passage so we can claim that we have achieved peace in Mindanao,” he said.

Tiangco said it is the job of Congress to make sure that whatever law is passed should be within the framework of the Constitution.

Tiangco warned that if the current version of the BBL is passed, it could become the target of questions in the Supreme Court regarding constitutionality.

He added the Aquino administration has only itself to blame for the rush to pass the BBL, noting that the peace pact leading to the proposed measure was “legally flawed.”

“If the BBL does not follow the Constitution, then how can it guarantee lasting peace? Wouldn’t it be wise and prudent to sit down and thresh out the flaws of the bill to strengthen it?” he asked.

Constitutional issues

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, for his part, said BBL must include a provision that will mandate the Bangsamoro people to pledge allegiance to the Philippine government and the Constitution.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate local government committee that reviews the proposed BBL, raised the possibility in a bid to stem widespread concerns that the grant of Bangsamoro independence would later pave way to moves to separate areas declared as Muslim Mindanao from the entire Philippine archipelago.

Marcos said the BBL will not pass at the Senate and the House of Representatives unless all the constitutional issues are addressed.

Marcos said he does not want the government to give any group the opportunity to declare separation from the Philippines.

According to Marcos, the Senate is ready to tackle anew the provisions of the BBL primarily to look into constitutional issues as well as the need to strengthen the ceasefire mechanisms to prevent a repeat of the Mamasapano incident.

“We have a process for peace so that we can avoid incidents like Mamasapano. We had SAF 44, what we are all doing are for peace,” he said.

Marcos stressed the need for more hearings to review the provisions of the BBL despite President Aquino’s pitch for its speedy passage.

“To those who are forcing it, there is a need to look into the misgivings of the BBL so we need to study it and change the provisions on the ceasefire mechanism. That role cannot be given to others, that is the job of legislation,” Marcos said.

Marcos said the committee would further dwell on the constitutional issues based on partial committee report by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws. –Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez, Helen Flores


MANILA TIMES

Bangsamoro changes inevitable– senators March 29, 2015 10:36 pm by JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND LLANESCA T. PANTI REPORTERS

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should be open to changes in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because the revisions that will be introduced by lawmakers will make the bill withstand legal scrutiny, senators said on Sunday.

Sen. Francis Escudero said revisions are inevitable because many lawmakers believe that some provisions of the proposed law that seeks to establish a Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are unconstitutional.

The senator added that the Citizens’ Council on Bangsamoro Law that President Benigno Aquino 3rd wants established should not only work on helping the public understand the proposed BBL but explain to the MILF that changes are needed to make the bill acceptable.

“I hope the council together with the government peace panel will help sell the congressional amendments to the BBL to the MILF and for the MILF to accept them,” Escudero said.

READ MORE...
The council, according to him, should convince the MILF that a revised BBL is a better alternative than going to war.

MILF leaders earlier renounced plans to revise the BBL, saying their group will not accept a watered-down version of the bill drafted by a joint panel of MILF and government negotiators.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who heads the Senate committee on local government, said the council should be fair in presenting the BBL to the public. He noted the need to win the people’s trust in the BBL and the MILF that was eroded because of the killing of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January.

Marcos said the proposed council should show the people positive and the negative sides of the BBL, particularly its constitutional infirmities, for them to have an idea on what needs to be done to the measure.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd wants the council to be composed of Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.

“There is no denying that there is distrust not only in the MILF but also in the BBL and the entire peace process, so the council needs to be objective and fair, and not focus only on the pros but also on the cons,” Marcos said in an interview aired over radio dzBB.

The local government panel is scheduled to resume its hearings on the proposed BBL on April 13 but proceedings will focus on ceasefire mechanisms.

Some members of the House of Representatives also on Sunday said the creation of a National Peace Summit is no guarantee that the BBL bill will be passed.

Congressmen Ferdinand Romualdez of Leyte, Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list and Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada party-list said Congress will decide whether to pass the BBL bill but the ultimate judge will be the Supreme Court.

“No matter what the President says, he has lost the trust of the public with regards to the BBL because the SAF members died amid too much distrust in the MILF and in government agencies. It’s for Congress, then the Supreme Court, to decide,” Romualdez said in a news conference.

“Even if Congress passes it, it will eventually be taken up before the Supreme Court. These convenors are not elected officials. They won’t be accountable to the people,” dela Cruz said.

“Everything they [in Aquino administration] do now is suspect, so they want to deodorize it with this new council. They are borrowing the credibility of these persons and clutching on straws here,” Romualdez said.

“They want to temper the MILF [with the peace summit] because they realize that this can’t be an all or nothing approach [to BBL passage], They can’t scare Congress in passing this. This formation of a council of eminent persons is already a last-ditch effort to save the BBL, a propaganda roadshow since there have been a lot of negative sentiments about it because of the Mamasapano incident,” dela Cruz said.

Meanwhile, anti-corruption advocates are studying the possibility of filing criminal charges against Aquino, former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and sacked Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeńas for their actions in the Mamasapano operation.

Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, also on Sunday insisted that Aquino should be held liable because he allowed the operation that sent the SAF commandos to their deaths.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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