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

HOLY SATURDAY MORNING: REPEATED FLOOD, STORM SURGE WARNINGS UP! 'CHEDENG' CLOSES IN LUZON


NO SIGN OF ‘CHEDENG’ – Hundreds of vacationers are scattered on this long stretch of beach in Baler, Aurora, unmindful of repeated warnings made by the local government about the arrival of Typhoon Chedeng. Baler Mayor Nelianto Bihasa has ordered all hotels and transient houses owners to tell their guests to leave town before night fall yesterday to ensure their safety as the weather disturbance is expected to make landfall either in Aurora and Isabela provinces Sunday morning. (Ariel Avendano)
The state weather bureau yesterday warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas along the path of typhoon “Chedeng” of possible flashfloods, landslides, storm surges, and surface waves of up to two meters as the cyclone continues to move toward Northern-Central Luzon areas. With the threat posed by “Chedeng,” tourists were ordered yesterday to immediately leave Baler in Aurora, one of the provinces where the typhoon is projected to make a landfall tomorrow morning. As of yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) placed the provinces of Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, Quezon including Polillo Island, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur under public storm signal No. 1 as “Chedeng” continues to move toward the Northern-Central Luzon areas. While the typhoon has further weakened, it still packs destructive maximum winds of 140 kph and gustiness of 170 kph as it travels toward the eastern coast of Central and Northern Luzon. It is moving West Northwest at 19 kph. READ MORE...

ALSO SATURDAY 12 NOON: ‘Chedeng’ weakens as it nears landfall/ SUNDAY 6AM: Thousands flee ‘Chedeng’; Storm weakens, hits Isabela Sunday 2 am


Pagasa satellite image as of 12:01AM | Sunday, April 5, 2015 
MANILA, Philippines–Tropical Storm “Chedeng” (international name: Maysak) has weakened further as it gets closest to its landfall, the weather bureau said Saturday late evening. In its bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said “Chedeng” has maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 120 kph. “Chedeng” last clocked in wind speeds of 115 kph near the center and gusts of 145 kph in Pagasa’s 5 pm forecast. Pagasa added that “Chedeng” was last spotted 220 kilometers southeast of Casiguran, Aurora and tracking a west northwest path at 20 kph. Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Buenget, La Union, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Kalinga, Ilocos Norte, and Ifugao are under public storm warning signal no. 2. Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Polillo Island, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Cagayan, and Apayao are under public storm warning signal no. 1. CONTINUE READING TO UPDATE AS CHEDENG HITS ISABELA...

ALSO Easter speech: Aquino likened resurrection of Jesus to Phl rising from anomalies of past admins


MANILA - President Aquino yesterday likened the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Philippines’ rising from anomalies of the past administrations.
The President made the comparison as he greeted the public on the Easter celebration today. Aquino said it was only when he took over in 2010 that the economy got a much needed turnaround because all credit ratings agencies gave the country investment upgrade status and Philippine Stock Exchange indexes reached record highs. He attributed this to the trust given by the people to his policy of good governance, which he said started the healing of the wounds of various institutions. Aquino said Easter Sunday reminds the people about second chances. Whatever sacrifices and sufferings that people go through, if they keep their faith and adhere to what is right, they will live a good life, he added. Pray for convicted OFWs Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay called on the public to pray this Easter for Filipinos in prison abroad, especially the convicted Filipina who is currently on death row in Indonesia. “As we honor the supreme sacrifice our Lord and Savior made to fulfill His promise of eternal salvation for mankind, and celebrate His resurrection and His triumph over death, let us also pray for Mary Jane Veloso and all our kababayanslanguishing in prisons abroad, that they overcome the challenges they are facing,” Binay said in his Easter message. “Let us pray that they may be given the chance to start anew, just as we were forgiven when our sins were washed away by Christ’s dying on the cross,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Massive power outage hits Mindanao


INQUIRER FILE PHOTO 
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A massive power outage hit Mindanao on Easter dawn engulfing much of the island in darkness for up to seven hour in some areas. Initial reports said the power went out past midnight affecting many areas including Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Agusan, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Surigao City, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Cotabato City. The islands of Siargao and Basilan were not affected, reports said. Power snapped at about 1 a.m. and restored at 6:30 a.m. in Cotabato City and nearby areas. In Davao del Sur, power was restored about 7 a.m. but went out anew about an hour later. In Davao City, the Davao Light and Power Co. said it was still trying to restore full power using its generator sets. NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said in a text message that all transmission substations and plants connected to backbone lines in Mindanao were “synchronized to the grid as of 7:50a.m.” All were running and connected to the main transmission lines. It is now up to the power distribution firms and electricity cooperatives to restore electricity supply to the household level, and they are now “normalizing” operations, she said. The Department of Energy (DOE) is tracing what caused the Mindanao-wide power outage and the investigation will start with the state-run Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power complex in Lanao del Sur. Energy authorities are tracing the events from the “first tripping” at the Agus 6 and Agus 7 areas, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said in a text message. READ MORE...

ALSO: Priests told: Stop abusing homilies


Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. CBCP FILE PHOTO
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Socrates Villegas yesterday called on his fellow priests to stop abusing their homilies. During the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday attended by all the priests in his archdiocese, Villegas said this kind of abuse exploits the kindness of the people “who are forced to listen to long-winding, repetitious, boring, unorganized, unprepared and mumbled homilies.”  He said in jest, though hinting that there is some truth to it, that listening to homilies is one of the obligatory scourges that parishioners must go through every Sunday. “They are asked to endure Sunday after Sunday our homilies that cannot be understood because we take so long with the introduction, we do not know how to go direct to the point and we do not know how to end. Be prepared. Be clear. Be seated,” he said. Villegas said they were all abused by the homilies of elder priests when they were seminarians. “When our turn came to deliver homilies, the abused became the abuser,” he said. He added that if a seminarian cannot speak in public with clarity and effectiveness, he should not be ordained. “Long-winding, repetitious, irrelevant, unprepared homilies are signs of a sick spiritual life of the priest,” he said, quoting Saint Joseph Cupertino’s words: “A preacher is like a trumpet which produces no tone unless one blows into it.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: New blood in Palo, Leyte’s passion play


PAMALANDONG’ Bryan Pacheco, playing the role of Jesus, carries a cross through the streets of Palo, Leyte province, during the “Pamalandong” passion play on Good Friday. JERICHO VELASCO/CONTRIBUTOR 
PALO, Leyte—Rebirth—not death—was foremost on the mind of actor Bryan Pacheco as he prepared to reenact a scene for a seventh time playing Jesus Christ on Good Friday.
Stroking a requisite bushy beard he grew for four months, the 42-year-old former altar boy, now father of three boys, contemplated the future for the cast of “Pamalandong,” one of the oldest and most vibrant passion plays in the country. “Our players and actors are dying. But new blood is always coming in, so our rich tradition in this town of telling the greatest story ever told lives on,” Pacheco said, as he put on a lily-white robe and crimson cloak to play Christ. Pacheco was referring to the deaths this week of Manuel C. Margallo Sr. and Rogelio C. Cayaco Sr., two veteran actors of “Pamalandong” (a Waray term meaning meditation), signaling a generational shift in the most widely attended Lenten street theater in Eastern Visayas, depicting the life, death and resurrection of Christ. But despite the two thespians’ deaths, this town—still basking in the afterglow of the historic visit of Pope Francis on Jan. 17 —held for the 41st year the elaborate event patterned after the Oberammergau passion play in Bavaria, Germany, where villagers also act as players. READ MORE...

ALSO: Mindanao war cost P2T in 31 years – study


REPORT-- Trillion Dollar Resource War for the Island of Mindanao On January 28, 2014 by stratagem & Inquirer: After five decades of bloody conflict, the southern Philippines could soon be open for investment, after a peace agreement was reached this weekend between the government and Muslim insurgents. The area where the conflict was the most intense—particularly the 38,000 square mile island of Mindanao—has been long-coveted by Philippine investors, foreign governments and multinational mining companies alike. In 2006, the US embassy in Manilla estimated that untapped natural resource wealth in the country could be worth as much as $1 trillion, in a cable later made public by Wikileaks: A special advisor on the GRP-MILF Peace Process in the Office of the President recently described Mindanao in particular as “a treasure trove” of mineral resources, including gold, copper, nickel, manganese, chromite, silver, lead, zinc, and iron ore. According to data from the GRP Mines and Geosciences Bureau, up to 70 per cent of the Philippines’ mineral resources may be in Mindanao. THEN, THE MAMASAPANO TRAGEDY HAPPENED, WHAT NOW? ......  Economic losses from 1970 to 2001 almost equaled 2015 budget The Mindanao war has cost the Philippine government a staggering P2.013 trillion during the 31-year period from 1970 to 2001, an amount nearly equivalent to the P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget.   This was disclosed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) based on the data it gathered from various sources, including the World Bank (WB). The government spent some P73 billion to finance government forces in combat operations against the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from 1970 to 1996.  The years of fighting had killed nearly 120,000 people, excluding the tens of thousands of wounded from both sides and civilians caught in the crossfire. It was a bloody conventional warfare as the MNLF forces directly attacked military camps and installations.  Fifty percent of the casualties were MNLF while the military sustained 30 percent and civilians 20 percent killed during the period.  In terms of social welfare disruption, 982,000 were displaced during the 2000 all-out war. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Philstar Opinion: Reflections on the future


By Babe Romualdez ---
The first quarter of the year is almost over with the Lenten season usually the time when people take a break from the hustle and bustle of Manila. For many of us especially those engaged in politics, the Lenten season is that time of the year when the “enemies” usually take a break from the wrangling, the intrigues, the backbiting, the plotting and the scheming. I could not agree more with Senator Miriam Santiago when she aptly said, “enemies are precisely why God created the middle finger.” President Aquino, too, had something to reflect on for Easter after going through months of intense criticism. He says he prayed for the people whom he thinks are biased against him – those he labeled as “haters.”    The Easter holiday week is the perfect time when all of us should examine our faith, ponder on the future and prepare for our departure from this world. Maybe God’s timing is perfect, and so it was no coincidence that Pope Francis came to visit at the start of the year and a week before the tragic Mamasapano incident. The pontiff’s presence renewed the faith of Filipinos and gave them the fortitude to keep believing that the situation in this country will get better as long as they do their best because God will take care of the rest.    We all have to seriously think of the upcoming 2016 elections when we have to choose the next leaders of our country. According to the CIA World Factbook, 52.7 percent of the population consists of the youth (24 and below) while 37 percent is composed of the 25-54 age group – putting the youth in the best position to determine the future of this country. The good part is that, with the advent of social media, they are better informed and updated about what’s happening not only in the Philippines but all over the world.    Now more than ever, choosing the right leaders has become critical because of the challenges – domestic and international – that our nation must face. For one, the economy which, fortunately, has been resilient – although it’s been moving slowly with complaints from certain sectors that it has not really been inclusive. While the reforms instituted by the administration has generated a lot of praise from the international business community, the Philippines has to boost infrastructure development to sustain economic gains and position the country as a strong player in the global arena especially with the upcoming ASEAN economic integration. READ ON....


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Flood, storm surge warning up; Chedeng’ closes in on Luzon; tourists told to leave Baler


NO SIGN OF ‘CHEDENG’ – Hundreds of vacationers are scattered on this long stretch of beach in Baler, Aurora, unmindful of repeated warnings made by the local government about the arrival of Typhoon Chedeng. Baler Mayor Nelianto Bihasa has ordered all hotels and transient houses owners to tell their guests to leave town before night fall yesterday to ensure their safety as the weather disturbance is expected to make landfall either in Aurora and Isabela provinces Sunday morning. (Ariel Avendano)

MANILA, APRIL 6, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Chito A. Chavez & Ariel P. Avedaño April 4, 2015 (updated) The state weather bureau yesterday warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas along the path of typhoon “Chedeng” of possible flashfloods, landslides, storm surges, and surface waves of up to two meters as the cyclone continues to move toward Northern-Central Luzon areas.

With the threat posed by “Chedeng,” tourists were ordered yesterday to immediately leave Baler in Aurora, one of the provinces where the typhoon is projected to make a landfall tomorrow morning.

As of yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) placed the provinces of Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, Quezon including Polillo Island, Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur under public storm signal No. 1 as “Chedeng” continues to move toward the Northern-Central Luzon areas.

While the typhoon has further weakened, it still packs destructive maximum winds of 140 kph and gustiness of 170 kph as it travels toward the eastern coast of Central and Northern Luzon. It is moving West Northwest at 19 kph.

READ MORE...
PAGASA said that the estimated amount of rainfall is from moderate to heavy within the 150 to 200-kilometer radius of the typhoon and is expected to make a landfall either over the coast of Aurora or Isabela by tomorrow morning (April 5). By Saturday evening, “Chedeng” will be in the vicinity of Bontoc, Mountain Province or 85 km Southeast of Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

By Sunday evening, it will be 430 km Northwest of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, or out of the Philippine area of responsibility.

PAGASA weather division chief Esperanza Cayanan has projected that “Chedeng’’ will still further weaken once it makes landfall.

TOURISTS TOLD TO LEAVE

With “Chedeng” threatening to make landfall in Baler Mayor Nelianto “Pilot” Bihasa ordered all hotels and transient houses owners, including home stay accommodations, to inform their respective guests, clienteles, and visitors to leave the capital town before the night falls yesterday to ensure that no one will be caught by the typhoon.

In his directive furnished to all concerned establishment owners, Mayor Bihasa said all tourists and visitors will be included in the pre-emptive evacuation. Those who will refuse will be forcibly evacuated.

All establishment owners were also advised to cancel booked accommodations until the typhoon is over.

“Hindi po baleng maging over-acting tayo kesa ilagay natin sa panganib ang ating mga kababayan at mga turista,” Bihasa stressed.

Domestic tourists Karla delos Reyes and Manuel Querol, who are supposed to spend the Holy Week with their relatives and families in Baler until Sunday, have already packed their things.

They said, “Hindi bale pong hindi muna kami mag-enjoy ng bakasyon sa Baler kesa maabutan kami ng bagyo.” (We won’t mind not enjoying our vacation in Baler, rather than getting caught by the typhoon.)

But for local surfer Rommel Postor, the waters of Baler Bay pose no danger to surfers like him. “Mapanganib lang po ang dagat kapag nag-landfall na yung bagyo (The water is dangerous only when the typhoon makes landfall),” he told Manila Bulletin.

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, authorities noted the exodus of tourists with the influx of private cars and other vehicles leaving Baler.

FLASHFLOODS, LANDSLIDES

Resident in low-lying and mountainous areas where signal No. 1 was raised were warned of possible flashfloods and landslides, while the eastern coast of Aurora, Quezon, and Isabela may experience storm surges and surface waves of up to two meters.

State weather forecasters advised fisherfolk not to venture over the eastern seaboard of Aurora, Quezon, Bicol Region, and the Visayas while residents were asked to refrain from outdoor activities, especially along the beaches of the eastern section of Luzon beginning today.

Malacañang appealed to the public, especially travelers in the path of “Chedeng,” to heed weather warnings to ensure their safety.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued the appeal as the typhoon is expected to strike the eastern coastal areas in Luzon where many beach resorts are situated this weekend.

“For travelers who are already in destinations that will be potentially affected by ‘Chedeng,’ we ask them as well as the residents to listen to the weather advisories and to the local government unit’s directive,” Lacierda said in a text message.

For those intending to travel, Lacierda said they should also consider the weather status updates in their decision whether to push through or not.

Lacierda assured that authorities have readied measures to mitigate the impact of the storm.

“Insofar as government is concerned, we continue to monitor the storm and to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of all our citizens in the potentially affected areas,” Lacierda said.

Although it has weakened, PAGASA said “Chedeng” remains a threat to the country.

Metro Manila is predicted to have light to moderate rains as no storm signal is expected to be raised over the area.

PAGASA said that strong “vertical wind shear” was responsible for Chedeng’s reduced strength comparing it to a top being forced off its spin axis.

RELIEF ASSISTANCE

Meanwhile, field offices and disaster teams of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are ready to provide assistance in relief operations and management of evacuation centers to the local government units (LGU) that maybe be affected by Sunday’s landfall of typhoon “Chedeng.”

DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman gave instructions to the concerned field offices to intensify their preparations to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected families.

On Soliman’s order, the DSWD-Field Offices have also coordinated with the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for additional transportation assets to ensure the speedy movement of relief augmentation to areas that will be hit by the typhoon.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the DSWD-Field Office also activated help desks in bus terminals to assist those who may be stranded while the agency has prepared 13,000 sacks of NFA rice, 5,000 family kits and P50,000 worth of canned goods ready for repacking for the Bicol Region. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)


PHILSTAR

‘Chedeng’ weakens as it nears landfall Bong Lozada @BLozadaINQ INQUIRER.net 12:47 AM | Sunday, April 5th, 2015


Pagasa satellite image as of 12:01AM | Sunday, April 5, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–Tropical Storm “Chedeng” (international name: Maysak) has weakened further as it gets closest to its landfall, the weather bureau said Saturday late evening.

In its bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said “Chedeng” has maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 120 kph.

“Chedeng” last clocked in wind speeds of 115 kph near the center and gusts of 145 kph in Pagasa’s 5 pm forecast.

Pagasa added that “Chedeng” was last spotted 220 kilometers southeast of Casiguran, Aurora and tracking a west northwest path at 20 kph.

Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Buenget, La Union, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Kalinga, Ilocos Norte, and Ifugao are under public storm warning signal no. 2.

Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Polillo Island, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Cagayan, and Apayao are under public storm warning signal no. 1. TVJ

UPDATE SUNDAY 6 AM

Thousands flee ‘Chedeng’; Storm weakens, hits Isabela Sunday Rima Granali @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:09 AM | Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Tens of thousands along the country’s eastern coastal provinces on Saturday fled to evacuation centers ahead of the landfall of Tropical Storm “Chedeng,” expected early Sunday, in Isabela province.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, Chedeng (international name: Maysak) was spotted 340 kilometers southeast of Casiguran in Aurora province, moving west northwest at 20 kilometers per hour with peak winds of 115 kph near the center, gusting up to 145 kph.

Chedeng developed into a supertyphoon in the Pacific early in the week, killing four people and destroying hundreds of homes in Micronesia. The off-season storm lost its punch as it swept toward the Philippines.

The weather bureau downgraded Chedeng into a storm on Saturday. It said winds and rain were expected Saturday night in the eastern provinces before the expected landfall.

The storm comes as the nation celebrates Easter. Many local and foreign tourists were in beach resorts, including popular surfing areas in the north for the Holy Week holidays, when Chedeng headed toward the country.

Nigel Lontoc, assistant director of the Office of Civil Defense, said some 24,000 people in Aurora were being evacuated, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

READ: 24,000 to be evacuated as ‘Chedeng’ closes in on PH

During a meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas urged mayors to be on alert.

“I encourage the mayors to seriously consider undertaking forced evacuation for the safety of our constituents and visitors,” Roxas said.

Assistant Social Welfare Secretary Cheche Cabrera said that in Aurora alone about 10,000 visitors mostly Filipinos were told to leave beach resorts and inns.

Critical hours

“The critical hours will be in the evening of Saturday,” said Office of Civil Defense Administrator Alexander Pama. “We need to double up the preparations because it is harder to move around in the dark.”

Although Chedeng had weakened, Pama said it would still bring moderate to heavy rains when it hit land early Sunday.

“We’re not saying Chedeng no longer poses danger. It could still cause destruction,” he said.

Interior Undersecretary Austere Panadero said the storm could affect 33 cities and close to 500 towns in more than two dozen provinces. Preemptive evacuations have been ordered in communities prone to flash floods and landslides, Panadero said.

Mayor Nelianto Bihasa of Baler, capital of Aurora province, on Friday ordered all tourists in resorts to leave or face forced evacuation. He also told resort owners to advise guests headed to Baler to postpone trips.


ABS-CBN

EASTER SPEECH: Aquino likened resurrection of Jesus to Phl rising from anomalies of past administrations

MANILA - President Aquino yesterday likened the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Philippines’ rising from anomalies of the past administrations.

The President made the comparison as he greeted the public on the Easter celebration today.

Aquino said it was only when he took over in 2010 that the economy got a much needed turnaround because all credit ratings agencies gave the country investment upgrade status and Philippine Stock Exchange indexes reached record highs.

He attributed this to the trust given by the people to his policy of good governance, which he said started the healing of the wounds of various institutions.

Aquino said Easter Sunday reminds the people about second chances.

Whatever sacrifices and sufferings that people go through, if they keep their faith and adhere to what is right, they will live a good life, he added.

Pray for convicted OFWs

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay called on the public to pray this Easter for Filipinos in prison abroad, especially the convicted Filipina who is currently on death row in Indonesia.

“As we honor the supreme sacrifice our Lord and Savior made to fulfill His promise of eternal salvation for mankind, and celebrate His resurrection and His triumph over death, let us also pray for Mary Jane Veloso and all our kababayanslanguishing in prisons abroad, that they overcome the challenges they are facing,” Binay said in his Easter message.

“Let us pray that they may be given the chance to start anew, just as we were forgiven when our sins were washed away by Christ’s dying on the cross,” he said.

READ MORE...
Binay, presidential adviser for OFW concerns, earlier met with Veloso’s parents and assured them that the government is doing its best to save their daughter.

Veloso, 30, was sentenced to die by firing squad after she was apprehended at Yogyakarta Airport in April 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.

But her mother Celia denied that the heroin seized from her daughter’s luggage was hers. She said the illegal drugs were secretly put there by a certain Christine, whom she said was the wife of her daughter’s god-brother.

Binay also called on the public to help those who continue to face hunger.

“May Easter serve as a new beginning for us to recommit ourselves and offer hope of a better, rewarding life for our people,” he said.

Call for unity

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called yesterday for unity and hard work among Filipinos, saying these were needed for the country’s continued progress.

Belmonte led the House of Representatives in wishing Filipinos a blessed Easter Sunday, saying this was a good time “to meditate on our personal path as well as that which we seek for our families and for this nation.”

“I wish for us to achieve genuine peace and growth that stems from shared efforts and hard work coming from each of us. I wish for an end to unproductive criticism and faultfinding that will only result in a pained and divided nation,” Belmonte said.

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on the other hand, called for hope and humility among the country’s leaders as well as ordinary Filipinos even as she prayed for more blessings for the nation.

In her Easter message from the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City where she is detained, Arroyo said today’s Gospel reading from Apostle Paul, writing from prison, reminded the Christian community of Colossae to fix their gaze always on those things that are of heaven.

“Of all the things that are of this earth, what indeed could be more earthly than death itself? By popular reckoning, it is even more certain than taxes. It is the fate that awaits all of us, without exception,” Arroyo said.

“It is from Christ alone whence come the gifts of new life: the humility to reform ourselves; the strength to endure offenses and the patience to forgive offenders; the bold faith to love Christ and to love the rest of His children as He loves them too. It is He who holds open for us the doors beyond death,” she said.

She said since it is so certain and universal, the defeat of death by “Christ’s resurrection is all the more glorious.”

“By freely accepting death for the forgiveness of our sins, and then by rising to eternal life on the third day, Christ has claimed the authority to call us to be His followers,” Arroyo said.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada also wished that the Easter joy would unite Filipinos as a people under one God, one nation and one flag. Estrada said Easter Sunday allows Christendom to “cross racial boarders and boundaries to delight in the risen Lord, whose resurrection continues to bind the Christian spirit as one.”

Estrada said that Jesus Christ’s supreme sacrifice at the hands of those who betrayed him will forever remind people that “trials, betrayals and hardships in our day-to-day life bring us closer to God.”

For his part, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle yesterday asked the faithful to see the savior in every needy person and extend assistance to them.

Tagle said that while Christ’s resurrection brings hope and a pledge of future glory, it does not serve as an escape from earthly life and concerns. – With Janvic Mateo, Paolo Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano, Eva Visperas, Evelyn Macairan


INQUIRER

Massive power outage hits Mindanao Edwin Fernandez, Karlos Manlupig | Inquirer Mindanao 8:18 AM | Sunday, April 5th, 2015


INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A massive power outage hit Mindanao on Easter dawn engulfing much of the island in darkness for up to seven hour in some areas.

Initial reports said the power went out past midnight affecting many areas including Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Agusan, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Surigao City, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Cotabato City.

The islands of Siargao and Basilan were not affected, reports said.

Power snapped at about 1 a.m. and restored at 6:30 a.m. in Cotabato City and nearby areas. In Davao del Sur, power was restored about 7 a.m. but went out anew about an hour later.

In Davao City, the Davao Light and Power Co. said it was still trying to restore full power using its generator sets.

NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said in a text message that all transmission substations and plants connected to backbone lines in Mindanao were “synchronized to the grid as of 7:50a.m.” All were running and connected to the main transmission lines. It is now up to the power distribution firms and electricity cooperatives to restore electricity supply to the household level, and they are now “normalizing” operations, she said.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is tracing what caused the Mindanao-wide power outage and the investigation will start with the state-run Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power complex in Lanao del Sur. Energy authorities are tracing the events from the “first tripping” at the Agus 6 and Agus 7 areas, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said in a text message.

READ MORE...
Bambie Capulong, communications officer of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), said teams were immediately dispatched to investigate the cause of the power interruption.

“We are still determining the cause and extent of the problem. Root cause is still under investigation,” Capulong said in a text message to the Inquirer.

Capulong added that the NGCP already mobilized teams to troubleshoot and provide electricity to areas affected by the blackout.

“NGCP is working to restore power services to affected customers in Mindanao,” Capulong said.

Power returned at around 4 in the morning in several areas including Davao City and General Santos City.

In Digos City, another power interruption was reported at around 7:50 in the morning.

Power is still out in other areas including Agusan del Sur and Marawi City.

NGCP is expected to release a full incident report on Sunday morning.

The last time Mindanao experienced a similar island-wide power outage was last year when the power generators of the Steag State Power Company in Misamis Oriental conked out.

In recent weeks, NGCP said the power situation in Mindanao was worsening with the decreasing water level at the hydropower plants in Lanao and Bukidnon – which account for the bulk of the island’s power supply because of the dry spell being experienced since early this year. Riza T. Olchondra/CB


PHILSTAR

Priests told: Stop abusing homilies
By Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 5, 2015 - 12:00am


Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. CBCP FILE PHOTO

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Socrates Villegas yesterday called on his fellow priests to stop abusing their homilies.

During the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday attended by all the priests in his archdiocese, Villegas said this kind of abuse exploits the kindness of the people “who are forced to listen to long-winding, repetitious, boring, unorganized, unprepared and mumbled homilies.”

He said in jest, though hinting that there is some truth to it, that listening to homilies is one of the obligatory scourges that parishioners must go through every Sunday.

“They are asked to endure Sunday after Sunday our homilies that cannot be understood because we take so long with the introduction, we do not know how to go direct to the point and we do not know how to end. Be prepared. Be clear. Be seated,” he said.

Villegas said they were all abused by the homilies of elder priests when they were seminarians.

“When our turn came to deliver homilies, the abused became the abuser,” he said.

He added that if a seminarian cannot speak in public with clarity and effectiveness, he should not be ordained.

“Long-winding, repetitious, irrelevant, unprepared homilies are signs of a sick spiritual life of the priest,” he said, quoting Saint Joseph Cupertino’s words: “A preacher is like a trumpet which produces no tone unless one blows into it.”

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Villegas told fellow priests to pray this way before preaching: “Lord, you are the spirit, I am your trumpet. Without your breath, I can give no sound.”

He said priests must not only prepare their homilies but also themselves.

“Preaching is a ministry of the soul and the heart, not just of the vocal chords and brain cells. Our spiritual life is the true foundation of our homilies,” he said.

Villegas said homilies will improve if priests cut their love for talking and instead increase their love for listening.

He also underscored the simplicity of message and of life.

“Simplicity of life will also help us to stop talking about money and fund raising in the homily. Money talk has never been edifying. Simplicity means resisting to use the pulpit as a means to get back at those who oppose us,” he said.

He said simplicity also demands that priests keep divisive election politics away from the lectern.

“Simplicity in homilies means not desiring to make people laugh or cry – leave that to telenovelas and noontime shows,” he said.


INQUIRER

New blood in Leyte’s passion play Danny Petilla @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:43 AM | Sunday, April 5th, 2015


PAMALANDONG’ Bryan Pacheco, playing the role of Jesus, carries a cross through the streets of Palo, Leyte province, during the “Pamalandong” passion play on Good Friday. JERICHO VELASCO/CONTRIBUTOR

PALO, Leyte—Rebirth—not death—was foremost on the mind of actor Bryan Pacheco as he prepared to reenact a scene for a seventh time playing Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

Stroking a requisite bushy beard he grew for four months, the 42-year-old former altar boy, now father of three boys, contemplated the future for the cast of “Pamalandong,” one of the oldest and most vibrant passion plays in the country.

“Our players and actors are dying. But new blood is always coming in, so our rich tradition in this town of telling the greatest story ever told lives on,” Pacheco said, as he put on a lily-white robe and crimson cloak to play Christ.

Pacheco was referring to the deaths this week of Manuel C. Margallo Sr. and Rogelio C. Cayaco Sr., two veteran actors of “Pamalandong” (a Waray term meaning meditation), signaling a generational shift in the most widely attended Lenten street theater in Eastern Visayas, depicting the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

But despite the two thespians’ deaths, this town—still basking in the afterglow of the historic visit of Pope Francis on Jan. 17 —held for the 41st year the elaborate event patterned after the Oberammergau passion play in Bavaria, Germany, where villagers also act as players.

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A throng of tourists and the Catholic faithful followed the Good Friday spectacle.

‘Show must go on’

“While we mourn the deaths of two of our players, we are happy to say that our little community theater here is alive and well. The show must go on,” said Mabel Moron-Sevilla, stage director.

A retired educator, Sevilla, 67, took over after her father, the former director and Palo Mayor Salvador Moron, died in an accident on May 8, 2012, at age 91.

Moron founded “Pamalandong,” started in 1974 with the late local artists Jeremias Acebedo and Ampelo Villacorte. A young priest from Carigara town, Msgr. Ben Lloren Sabillo, wrote the original script that is still being used today.

With a cast of more than 300 players, the Pamalandong theater group also bewailed that Sabillo, who died on July 14, 2014, did not get the credit he deserved.

“The life of Christ comes alive on our streets during Holy Week because of what Monsignor Sabillo has written more than 40 years ago,” said Meldy Diamante, 64, a retired bank employee who used to play Mary Magdalene in the 1970s.

“Our Lenten observance today is richer because of what (Sabillo) did,” Diamante added.

Based on the Bible, Sabillo’s script covers the brief life of Jesus starting with his betrayal by Judas Iscariot at the garden of Gethsemane and ends with his crucifixion on Golgotha.

In their heydays, Cayaco and Margallo represented the talented pool of local players who volunteered to do an act of penance by simply playing their chosen roles under the searing heat of the sun.

Cayaco, an Amerasian who died of a stroke on March 26 at age 68, was the horseback-riding Roman centurion who drew oohs and ahhs from the audience with his drop-dead George Hamilton good looks.

“(Cayaco) looked like he came straight out of a Hollywood movie screen. But he had a mean kick,” said Ernesto Palacio, 75, a carpenter.

New generation

Palacio was a retired actor who played a Roman centurion used to flogging and kicking Jesus, played mostly by good-looking seminarians from nearby Sacred Heart Seminary, until the mold was broken in 1994 when Ciriaco Agner Jr., a local dentist, started playing Jesus.

“I broke the tradition of seminarians playing Christ. But I am proud of what I did,” said Agner who played Christ a record 14 times.

Bothered by health issues, Agner literally handed down the cross to Pacheco in 2009. A 61-year-old town councilor, Agner now plays Joseph of Arimathea who took down the body of Jesus after his death. His late father and namesake Ciriaco Agner Sr., played Nicodemus.

Succumbing to multiple organ failure at age 88 on March 29, Margallo was an original member of Penitentes, the century-old brotherhood of robe-wearing penitents in this town.

“We are saddened by our loss, but we will always be grateful for their contributions to our tradition, ” Sevilla said in tribute to Cayaco and Margallo.

Sevilla is excited that a new generation of actors is filling the roles of the aging players.

“Everybody is welcome to join, especially if they pay for their costumes,” Sevilla said.

“I am happy to be a part of this tradition. For me, this role allows me to find the inner peace that I seek,” said Katrina Regis, 23, a Catholic Relief Services nurse.

On Good Friday, Regis spent her fourth year playing one of the women of Jerusalem who met and comforted Christ on his way to Calvary.

“Playing a Penitente allows me to start a new life and reflect on my bad deeds of the past,” said high school dropout Lemar Tanega, 18.

Marlon Manuel Saboren, president of Penitentes, said the group had more than 300 members, despite the group’s stringent adherence to living morally upright lives.

“This unique experience keeps us morally grounded,” said Saboren, a 38-year-old fireman.

In the case of Cayaco and Margallo, their roles were immediately taken up by their sons, Clyde Cayaco and Bobby Margallo, as the two elderly players’ health deteriorated.

“I am proud to wear my father’s uniform now,” said Margallo, 56, a local artist.

As for Pacheco, he hopes one of his three sons will take over from him. “The torch is always being passed. And our rich Lenten tradition of death and rebirth is secure,” Pacheco said.


MANILA TIMES

Mindanao war cost P2T in 31 years – study April 4, 2015 10:03 pm by BEN CAL


REPORT--
Trillion Dollar Resource War for the Island of Mindanao On January 28, 2014 by stratagem & Inquirer: After five decades of bloody conflict, the southern Philippines could soon be open for investment, after a peace agreement was reached this weekend between the government and Muslim insurgents. The area where the conflict was the most intense—particularly the 38,000 square mile island of Mindanao—has been long-coveted by Philippine investors, foreign governments and multinational mining companies alike. In 2006, the US embassy in Manilla estimated that untapped natural resource wealth in the country could be worth as much as $1 trillion, in a cable later made public by Wikileaks: A special advisor on the GRP-MILF Peace Process in the Office of the President recently described Mindanao in particular as “a treasure trove” of mineral resources, including gold, copper, nickel, manganese, chromite, silver, lead, zinc, and iron ore. According to data from the GRP Mines and Geosciences Bureau, up to 70 per cent of the Philippines’ mineral resources may be in Mindanao. THEN, THE MAMASAPANO TRAGEDY HAPPENED, WHAT NOW? ......

Economic losses from 1970 to 2001 almost equaled 2015 budget The Mindanao war has cost the Philippine government a staggering P2.013 trillion during the 31-year period from 1970 to 2001, an amount nearly equivalent to the P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget.

This was disclosed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) based on the data it gathered from various sources, including the World Bank (WB).

The government spent some P73 billion to finance government forces in combat operations against the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) from 1970 to 1996.

The years of fighting had killed nearly 120,000 people, excluding the tens of thousands of wounded from both sides and civilians caught in the crossfire. It was a bloody conventional warfare as the MNLF forces directly attacked military camps and installations.

Fifty percent of the casualties were MNLF while the military sustained 30 percent and civilians 20 percent killed during the period.

In terms of social welfare disruption, 982,000 were displaced during the 2000 all-out war.

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One of the fiercest fighting happened in Jolo, Sulu in the first half of February 1974 when MNLF rebels attacked and burned the provincial capital and occupied it for days before they were driven out by government forces, particularly the 14th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army commanded by then Col. Salvador M. Mison.

The war ended when the Philippine government and MNLF signed the historic peace agreement on Sept. 2, 1996 during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.

But the 1996 peace accord was disrupted when the breakaway group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) protested the signing and continued its war with the government.

A ceasefire was signed in 1997 but this did not last long when a new administration under President Joseph Estrada declared an all-out war against the MILF in the summer of 2000 after the rebels launched several attacks on military and civilian population.

After three months of fighting, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) captured practically all the 49 MILF camps in various parts of Mindanao and forced the rebels to withdraw.

The cost of the all-out war in 2000 that lasted for three months, more or less, was an enormous PhP1.3 billion in military operations.

In addition, the county incurred economic losses amounting to a staggering P640 billion or PhP20 billion per year from 1970 to 2001 in terms of damages to businesses and properties, potential investments and businesses in the region had there been better security (no war).”

While the war was won by the AFP, the fighting had not stopped as the MILF forces continued its armed struggle.

It was only during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that peace talks between the government and the MILF resumed sometime in 2004.

However, fighting erupted anew in 2008 when the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) about to be signed was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The renewed fighting had displaced some 600,000 people.

It was only in 2009 that the peace process reopened during the remaining six months of the Arroyo government and was pursued by a new administration under President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd in 2010 that resulted in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and MILF on March 27, 2014.

Under the agreement, the MILF would turn over their firearms to a third party, which would be selected by the rebels and the Philippine government.

The MILF has agreed to decommission its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). In return, the government will establish an autonomous Bangsamoro.

The Aquino government is now asking Congress for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the legal instrument that will operationalize the agreements as contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on Oct. 15, 2012 and its annexes.

Once enacted by Congress, the BBL shall undergo a process of popular ratification by the qualified voters in the proposed core territory.

However, the BBL has suffered a setback following the bloody Mamapasano incident that killed 44 police commandos of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) tasked to serve a warrant of arrest for wanted international terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

OPAPP is still hoping the controversial measure will be passed by Congress to end the long-drawn armed conflict in southern Philippines.


PHILSTAR

Reflections on the future BABE’S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 5, 2015 - 12:00am


By Babe Romualdez

The first quarter of the year is almost over with the Lenten season usually the time when people take a break from the hustle and bustle of Manila.

For many of us especially those engaged in politics, the Lenten season is that time of the year when the “enemies” usually take a break from the wrangling, the intrigues, the backbiting, the plotting and the scheming. I could not agree more with Senator Miriam Santiago when she aptly said, “enemies are precisely why God created the middle finger.”

President Aquino, too, had something to reflect on for Easter after going through months of intense criticism. He says he prayed for the people whom he thinks are biased against him – those he labeled as “haters.”

The Easter holiday week is the perfect time when all of us should examine our faith, ponder on the future and prepare for our departure from this world.

Maybe God’s timing is perfect, and so it was no coincidence that Pope Francis came to visit at the start of the year and a week before the tragic Mamasapano incident. The pontiff’s presence renewed the faith of Filipinos and gave them the fortitude to keep believing that the situation in this country will get better as long as they do their best because God will take care of the rest.

We all have to seriously think of the upcoming 2016 elections when we have to choose the next leaders of our country.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 52.7 percent of the population consists of the youth (24 and below) while 37 percent is composed of the 25-54 age group – putting the youth in the best position to determine the future of this country. The good part is that, with the advent of social media, they are better informed and updated about what’s happening not only in the Philippines but all over the world.

Now more than ever, choosing the right leaders has become critical because of the challenges – domestic and international – that our nation must face.

For one, the economy which, fortunately, has been resilient – although it’s been moving slowly with complaints from certain sectors that it has not really been inclusive.

While the reforms instituted by the administration has generated a lot of praise from the international business community, the Philippines has to boost infrastructure development to sustain economic gains and position the country as a strong player in the global arena especially with the upcoming ASEAN economic integration.

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On a bright note, the country’s justice system is moving towards the right direction with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the helm, pushing for judicial reforms and programs to decongest the courts and speed up the resolution of cases.

The Justice on Wheels program for instance has resulted in the release of over 8,000 prisoners, many of whom were accused of petty crimes but have been languishing in jail because they do not have the means to hire the services of a lawyer.

One other problem that the next administration will “inherit” would be the territorial disputes involving the West Philippine Sea, with China exhibiting what one analyst described as “incremental assertiveness” as seen in its “seizure of individual features and massive land reclamation activities” while absurdly fuming at the Philippines’ resumption of repair and reconstruction activities in some small islands and reefs in the disputed territories.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has done his best in doing everything he could to elevate our claim before an international arbitration court in The Hague. It is very likely that this may not be resolved amicably, so clearly the next administration will have to focus on strengthening our military alliances with other countries like Japan and of course the United States in light of the continued Chinese aggression.

We can only hope that a peaceful resolution would still be possible. We certainly want this especially with regard to the Sabah issue.

After all, our relationship with Malaysia is much better because both Malaysians and Filipinos recognize that they come from the same Malay race. We should be able to talk like true brothers.

Naturally there is the Bangsamoro Basic Law that has spawned so much anger from majority of Filipinos.

While the president may dislike unsolicited advice, he should listen to the voice of his “bosses” and not rush the passage of the BBL that some “legacy-minded” advisers want to happen. Instead of pointing us towards the path of peace, the proposed measure as is could lead to more violence.

Climate change is another issue that poses a major problem for the Philippines which the UN identified as the third most vulnerable country affected by this phenomenon. We can expect more killer typhoons spawning floods and landslides in the future.

One can never be too prepared when it comes to natural disasters because they can displace millions of people as past experiences have shown us.

For Metro Manila residents, a perennial problem is the traffic exacerbated by an inefficient mass transport system with people packed worse than sardines in old and frequently malfunctioning MRT trains.

Economic losses due to traffic could reach P6 billion per day by 2030, but the worst part is the pollution which is responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths due to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and lung cancer.

Another problem is the growing population density which has already made Metro Manila unlivable, rendering the poor most vulnerable.

Our youth must seriously reflect in choosing our country’s next leaders.

No doubt they will be confronted by the plague of P’s – poverty, pollution and population aggravated by the worst “P” of all – politics.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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