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

A CHEQUE FROM THE EX-GOVERNOR: CHAVIT SINGSON SEES THE LIGHT WITH 'SOLAR LOLAs'


JULY 12 ---GRADUATES OF THE INDIA BAREFOOT COLLEGE After their 6-month training, the 4 Aeta women—Magda Salvador, Evelyn Clemente, Cita Diaz and Sharon Flores—now have the skills to help electrify about 100 households in their communities. ARNOLD ALMACEN  -
It took an Inquirer story on solar energy for Ilocos Sur province’s most powerful political leader to see the light. After reading about “Solar Lolas,” four Aeta grandmothers needing P2.6-million funding to install and maintain solar lighting equipment in two communities where they belong, former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson readily wrote a check covering the entire amount. The charity project Singson decided to share his wealth with is Tanging Tanglaw, which has trained four Aeta women in India to be solar engineers and replicate solar technology in their communities. One hundred households from each community will benefit from the solar electricity project. In a phone interview, Singson said that for the past months, he had been searching for communities to extend financial assistance to but he had difficulty verifying the nature of some of these projects. “When I read the story (‘Solar lolas need P2.6-M funding,’ Inquirer, June 29), I thought that I could help them since I have been extending help to other similar people during my visit to other communities in the country,” Singson said. READ: Solar Lolas’ need P2.6M funding READ MORE...

ALSO ambulansyang de paa: Bonding in the highlands-- 1st-class health service for 4th-class towns


JULY 12 ---AMBULANSYANG DE PAA (Ambulance on Foot) takes patients across mountains, rivers and rugged terrain to the nearest health facility. PHOTO COURTESY OF ZUELLIG FAMILY FOUNDATION 
The graduates couldn’t have been more different from each other: an engineer, a funeral service provider, a seminarian, a teacher, a US postal worker, a policeman, a lawyer and two doctors. What binds them together— aside from being mayors of poor, mostly upland towns in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and La Union—is their commitment to public health. Along with their health officers, these local chief executives were recently recognized for completing the Municipal Leadership and Governance Program (MLGP) of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF).
The graduates proved that even the most disadvantaged barrio or sitio can meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if their leaders are truly committed. The MDGs are eight time-bound targets drafted by the United Nations in 2000 to reduce extreme poverty in the world. Three of the goals—reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases—are health-related. READ MORE...

ALSO DOH: Food poisoning outbreak in Caraga, Kidapawan


Samples of the toxic durian candies that downed 44 pupils of a public school in Kidapawan City which teachers gathered as evidence exhibit. Williamor Magbanua/Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, Kidapawan City
The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday declared an outbreak in Caraga region following thousands of cases of poisoning from eating fruit-flavored candy.
In an interview with dzMM, DOH-Caraga Regional Director Jose Llacuna Jr. confirmed that there more than 1,000 victims of the alleged toxic fruit-flavored candy, prompting them to declare an outbreak in the region. “We declared a regional food poisoning outbreak in our place as of today. We have 1,665 cases,” Llacuna said in the interview. Llacuna said 339 of the victims were taken to hospitals in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Sur. Most of the victims are students, who according to Tandag Mayor Roxanne Pimentel, felt ill after eating candy flavored with durian, mangosteen and mango, Llacuna said. READ MORE....

ALSO: Voting in the malls --Why not? says Comelec


JULY 12 ---The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) conduct voters’ registration and validation of biometrics data at Robinsons Place Manila, July 11, 2015. The poll body decided to bring this service to malls in pushing its “No Bio, No Boto” campaign for the 2016 polls. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA
Some voters may no longer have to endure the hot, crowded and chaotic atmosphere inside the polling precincts in the 2016 elections as some of the voting will be held inside air-conditioned shopping malls, according to the Commission on Elections. Comelec Chair Andres Bautista, in a press briefing during the opening of the satellite registration at the Robinsons Place in Manila on Saturday, said the idea of holding elections inside the malls is part of the poll agency’s efforts to make voting more convenient for the public. “We want to enhance the voting experience,” said Bautista, adding that he saw no legal impediment to elections being held in malls.
“If we can do it in private schools, why can’t we do it in other public facilities such as malls?” he said. “I made a preliminary study in respect of these issues and what I am told is that you can move precincts that are near the malls to vote within the malls. So for example, instead of voting in a public school in the vicinity, we can transfer the polling precincts to the malls,” he explained.
Section 42 of the Omnibus Election Code states that public schools or any other public buildings within the barangay shall be used as polling places. READ MORE...

ALSO: Bemonte in TV interview at Hague said LP considering Roxas-Duterte tandem; Noy & Mar: LP coalition must remain intact


IJULY 11 ---t looks like Sen. Grace Poe is out of the running as the Liberal Party’s standard bearer in the 2016 elections as Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, in a TV interview at The Hague, said the LP is now considering Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, since Poe had already “politely refused” the offer of President Aquino, to run as runningmate of LP’s putative standard bearer, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.
It was also reported that Aquino and Roxas had agreed that the LP and its coalition partners should remain intact and should back a single presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.
This decision came about after Poe and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, confirmed meeting with Aquino in Malacañang earlier this week. The President also told the two that they should talk with Roxas. Poe and Escudero both confirmed to the media that there was a meeting with Aquino Thursday, the first time the President met both at the same time to discuss political plans in 2016, despite the two senators not having announced publicly their intention to run for a higher position in the upcoming polls. According to Poe, the meeting was part of a continued “consultation process.”  Escudero affirmed that Aquino talked them into “keeping the coalition intact for 2016 by supporting a common bet,” adding that Aquino discussed the continuing reforms and the administration’s “straight” path slogan. “We don’t need to get all this fixed up right now. I wish you would want this to be over, but I wish our group would support only one candidate so there won’t be a division,” Escudero said to reporters, quoting Aquino during the meeting. READ MORE...

ALSO Aquino to Poe: ‘Go around the country with Mar Roxas’; SENATOR GRACE OKS PRESIDENT’S REQUEST BUT ON ONE CONDITION


JULY 12 ---President Benigno Aquino III, Sen. Grace Poe and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS
President Benigno Aquino III asked Sen. Grace Poe to go around the country with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. She agreed, the Inquirer learned on Saturday, on one condition.Poe requested the President to allow Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero to come, too. Poe confirmed the information to the Inquirer on Saturday.
“The President asked that I go around with Mar. I said yes but three of us would go, including Chiz. The President said yes,” Poe told the Inquirer in a telephone interview. She did not say when Mr. Aquino asked her to tour the country with Roxas, but the Inquirer’s source said it was before the meeting among Poe, Escudero and the President in Malacañang on Thursday.
“[Senator] Poe has always been saying she’s more comfortable with [Senator] Escudero [as a running mate] because of their long history,” the source, who requested not to be identified, said. “That’s why when the President asked her to go around with Mar, she politely requested the President that Chiz be allowed to go, too, and the President said yes,” the source said.
President Aquino is believed to be trying to get Poe to agree to run as Roxas’ Vice President in next year’s presidential election. READ MORE...

ALSO: Communist leader Joma Sison confirms meeting Belmonte


JULY 10 ---Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison meets Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Friday confirmed meeting Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in the Netherlands. In an e-mail to INQUIRER.net, Sison described the meeting as that “of a social character, friendly and informal.” “We discussed a wide range of small and big topics in 3 hours and a half. But the most important topic was the topic of promoting the GPH-NDFP (Government of the Philippines — National Democratic Front of the Philippines) peace negotiations,” he said.
The two parties have been negotiating for peace but talks have been stalled because of various reasons. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Chavit Singson sees the light with ‘solar lolas’

SHARES: 4 VIEW COMMENTS By: Maricar B. Brizuela @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:24 AM July 12th, 2015


GRADUATES OF THE INDIA BAREFOOT COLLEGE After their 6-month training, the 4 Aeta women—Magda Salvador, Evelyn Clemente, Cita Diaz and Sharon Flores—now have the skills to help electrify about 100 households in their communities. ARNOLD ALMACEN

MANILA, JULY 13, 2015 (INQUIRER) It took an Inquirer story on solar energy for Ilocos Sur province’s most powerful political leader to see the light.

After reading about “Solar Lolas,” four Aeta grandmothers needing P2.6-million funding to install and maintain solar lighting equipment in two communities where they belong, former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson readily wrote a check covering the entire amount.

The charity project Singson decided to share his wealth with is Tanging Tanglaw, which has trained four Aeta women in India to be solar engineers and replicate solar technology in their communities. One hundred households from each community will benefit from the solar electricity project.

In a phone interview, Singson said that for the past months, he had been searching for communities to extend financial assistance to but he had difficulty verifying the nature of some of these projects. “When I read the story (‘Solar lolas need P2.6-M funding,’ Inquirer, June 29), I thought that I could help them since I have been extending help to other similar people during my visit to other communities in the country,” Singson said.

READ: Solar Lolas’ need P2.6M funding

READ MORE...

Last week, he wrote a check to the project proponent Diwata-Women in Resource Development Inc. (Diwata), which headed the Tanging Tanglaw initiative along with the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association and the Land Rover Club of the Philippines.

No politics

But Singson was quick to clarify that he is not donating to charity in pursuit of a national post in next year’s elections.

“I do not intend to run next year. I am just doing this because I like to extend help to those in need,” Singson said, noting that he also funds the studies of a number of scholars in the country. He said he would like to visit the communities once the project starts implementation and maybe duplicate it in other parts of the country if the project becomes a success.

Marionne Ruiz, Diwata executive director, told the Inquirer that the group received the money last week and acknowledged that this would be a big help to the project.

India’s Barefoot College

She explained that those involved in the project would meet in the coming weeks to talk about purchasing materials from Barefoot College in India. The target for the project’s completion is before yearend. Ruiz said they would buy materials to provide each household in the identified communities with a 40-watt solar panel, wall-mounted charge controller, waterproof battery box with battery, three LED very strong wall lights, one mobile phone charger, one large solar portable lantern and workshop tools, supplies and spare parts.

‘Solar lolas’ trained

Earlier, Diwata president Patricia Bunye said the program was already able to send four Aeta grandmothers—Evelyn Clemente and Sharon Flores from Gala, Zambales province, and Cita Diaz and Magda Salvador from Bamban, Tarlac province—to undergo a six-month, live-in training at Barefoot College.

The women, called the “Solar Lolas,” started their training September last year and returned to the country in March with the skills to help about 100 households in their communities still without electricity.

Bunye said the Aeta women were trained on “solar engineering, specifically, fabricating, installing, repairing and maintaining solar lighting equipment.”

They also learned other livelihood activities like making mosquito nets and feminine napkins. Upon their return to the country, Bunye said, the new goal for the solar grandmothers was to replicate the solar technology in their communities and help households from each community get electricity.

Diwata revealed that in Bamban, Tarlac, most residents use kerosene lamps for lighting. In Gala, Zambales, not all families have the means to pay for electricity.

Fund-raising campaigns

“The solar grandmothers will assume the responsibility for installing and maintaining the solar panels and lamps for a minimum of five years.

By replicating solar technology in their communities, they will help change the perception of what is a ‘professional’ for rural villages, and challenge both age and gender barriers,” Bunye said.

Knowing that raising funds would be a challenge, Bunye said they thought of initiating campaigns like a fundraiser dinner with a P5,000 per ticket as well as soliciting pledges from sponsors.

She said there were also plans to conduct similar activities as well as visitations to various companies to present their project background.


INQUIRER

Bonding in the highlands: 1st-class health service for 4th-class towns SHARES: 2 VIEW COMMENTS By: Blanche R. Fernandez
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:15 AM July 12th, 2015


AMBULANSYANG DE PAA (Ambulance on Foot) takes patients across mountains, rivers and rugged terrain to the nearest health facility. PHOTO COURTESY OF ZUELLIG FAMILY FOUNDATION

The graduates couldn’t have been more different from each other: an engineer, a funeral service provider, a seminarian, a teacher, a US postal worker, a policeman, a lawyer and two doctors.

What binds them together— aside from being mayors of poor, mostly upland towns in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and La Union—is their commitment to public health.

Along with their health officers, these local chief executives were recently recognized for completing the Municipal Leadership and Governance Program (MLGP) of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF).

The graduates proved that even the most disadvantaged barrio or sitio can meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if their leaders are truly committed.
The MDGs are eight time-bound targets drafted by the United Nations in 2000 to reduce extreme poverty in the world. Three of the goals—reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases—are health-related.

READ MORE...

The conditions that gave rise to the MDGs are nothing new to the mayor-graduates. Several of them recalled personal struggles with health-related concerns worsened by the geographical isolation of their areas.

“We know now that even a fourth-class municipality can render first-class service to its constituents,” said Mayor Divina Velasco of San Gabriel, La Union.

Velasco’s mother used to be the public health nurse in San Gabriel, a mountainous area with an 85-percent indigenous population.

Town’s burden

With no doctor nor midwife assigned to the place, Velasco said she felt early on how difficult the job was for her mother and what a burden it was for the town to depend on only one individual for their health needs.

“I told myself, I will be the first doctor of our town,” she recalled thinking.
After passing the board exam, Velasco returned to San Gabriel and served as its municipal health officer for 16 years before being elected mayor.

Others might think her post lowly, she said. “They say I should be in Manila specializing in a prestigious hospital, or in the US, like my sisters, but the desire to serve in my own town was intense,” Velasco said.

While Velasco credited her mother for her career choice, Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur, Mayor Luz Villalobos cited a child lost at birth for hers.

Like many rural women, Villalobos was used to the idea of giving birth at home.

Home-based deliveries, often unassisted by health professionals, are frequent causes of maternal and infant deaths. But in places like Gregorio del Pilar, where there was no nurse, no doctor, no birthing facility and no hospital, home-based deliveries are the only option for mothers.

“But as a leader, I realized I’m responsible for starting change,” Villalobos said.

“My constituents look to me to improve their situation.”

Having finished only elementary grade—her father had leprosy and could not send her to school—Villalobos was hesitant to join the MLGP. But when she learned that the mayors of neighboring towns were joining, she was encouraged to join as well.

The MLGP corrected her wrong, but well-intentioned, ideas about making do with whatever resources were at hand.

Formalin for wounds

“We own a funeral parlor so we had a lot of Formalin. I used to give that to farmers with wounds on their feet because we had no other medicine. That’s how poor we are,” the mayor said.

A strong disinfectant, Formalin, however, has some side effects and is not suitable for treating wounds.

Sugpon, another geographically isolated and disadvantaged area in Ilocos Sur, has no hospital. On rainy days, the town can be reached only by boat on the Amburayan River.

To deliver health services, Sugpon’s leaders, many of them belonging to the Bago-Kankanaey tribe, had to be extra creative.



They put in place the Ambulansyang de Paa—a group of men who take turns carrying sick and pregnant townsfolk on a makeshift bed to the nearest health facility. Usually, this makeshift ambulance takes hours of walking.

Hitting on a more permanent solution, the municipal government allocated P700,000 to build Bahay ni Nanay, a halfway house located near the birthing center, where pregnant women can stay while awaiting their delivery date, so they no longer have to travel from far-flung villages where transport is not available.

Quirino, Ilocos Sur, Mayor Clifford Patil-ao, an engineer, knows only too well the risks of living in the mountains with no access to any means of transport.
Carried in blanket

Sickly as a child, he recalled being carried in a blanket by neighbors so that he and his parents could cross a river and ride a rented jeep to Bessang Pass Memorial Hospital in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur.

He was lucky because he survived. Many others don’t make it.

“I’ve seen pregnant women who, after the midwife had given up on them, would be carried by the townsfolk in the middle of the night across the mountains for three hours to reach the nearest hospital. Some babies die in the womb; some are born on the way,” Patil-ao said.

When he had his own family, health again became a personal issue: His eldest child was born with two holes in the heart. Pati-lao moved his family to Bauang, La Union, so they could be closer to doctors.

“One day, my child’s heartbeat just stopped, and we had to rush him to the hospital. The doctors were able to save him, but I thought: If we had been in Quirino, our child probably would have died,” Patil-ao said.

Quirino is the farthest and most isolated of Ilocos Sur’s 14 upland municipalities. It has a population of around 9,300.

Burdened by the thought of his townsfolk suffering because they lacked access to health services, Patil-ao returned to his hometown and won mayor in 2007.

Again, he experienced life like most of his constituents did, especially when he figured twice in life-threatening accidents. Once, he fell from the roof of a school he was inspecting; another time, he was thrown off a motorcycle. In both times, he could not be taken to the hospital until a day later because there was no ambulance.

Patil-ao knew then that he had to make health a priority.

Today, Quirino has a doctor, a community hospital, two ambulances, and a health center that is open 24/7 and accredited by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

With such firsthand experiences among the mayors and MLGP graduates themselves, it’s no surprise that the World Health Organization (WHO) rated the country’s health conditions poor.

The country was among the 189 UN member states that signed the UN Millennium Declaration and committed to meet the MDGs by 2015. In 2013, the DOH adopted the ZFF’s Health Change Model and began interventions in 609 priority areas identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Mayors and municipal health officers were coached on leadership and service delivery using a one-year, two-module leadership program, and were expected to improve health indicators in their areas.

Roadmap to health


So far, the MLGP has reported improved health services and decreased maternal and infant mortality rates in ZamPen municipalities when the local leaders and stakeholders were involved. By taking down their health programs to the grass root level, DOH is confident to achieve its Health Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of improved health this year. This is good health news!

Under the program, local government units (LGUs) used a roadmap with the WHO’s six building blocks of health: health leadership and governance, health financing, health human resource, health information system, access to medicine and technology, and health service delivery.

Using this roadmap, the LGUs reviewed their health indicators to check what problems needed to be addressed.

“What we’ve seen is a deepened accountability among the leaders because of the MLGP. It’s no longer just words. They are now accountable for what they’ve committed to do… to improve the health of their constituencies,” said Dr. Myrna Cabotaje, DOH Region 1 director.

The mayors and health officers of Ilocos Sur municipalities San Ildefonso, Sugpon, Quirino, Alilem, Gregorio del Pilar and Candon; San Gabriel in La Union; and Basista and Laoac in Pangasinan were among the first batch of local officials to complete the MLGP. They each received P200,000 from DOH Region 1 office to help with their operating expenses.

As of June 26, the nine MLGP graduates have reported zero maternal and infant deaths in their areas, meeting MDGs 4 and 5. Most of the mayors also met the target for reducing malnutrition among the under-5s, as well as trimming the number of malaria cases.

In his speech before the graduates, Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the DOH’s Bureau of Local Health Systems Development, urged the mayors not to go back “to the old ways.”

“What you have accomplished is only the beginning. Your success is a step in the right direction,” said the guest speaker at the June 26 graduation ceremony in La Union.

“You have to continue tracking your programs. You also have to be proud. Announce what you have accomplished; create a buzz. You have to celebrate that this is important to everyone,” Tayag said.

Central Mindanao, Davao and Caraga will have the next batch of MLGP graduates this month.


PHILSTAR

DOH: Food poisoning outbreak in Caraga By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated July 12, 2015 - 9:11pm 2 42 googleplus0 0


Samples of the toxic durian candies that downed 44 pupils of a public school in Kidapawan City which teachers gathered as evidence exhibit. Williamor Magbanua/Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, Kidapawan City

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday declared an outbreak in Caraga region following thousands of cases of poisoning from eating fruit-flavored candy.

In an interview with dzMM, DOH-Caraga Regional Director Jose Llacuna Jr. confirmed that there more than 1,000 victims of the alleged toxic fruit-flavored candy, prompting them to declare an outbreak in the region.

“We declared a regional food poisoning outbreak in our place as of today. We have 1,665 cases,” Llacuna said in the interview.

Llacuna said 339 of the victims were taken to hospitals in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Sur.

Most of the victims are students, who according to Tandag Mayor Roxanne Pimentel, felt ill after eating candy flavored with durian, mangosteen and mango, Llacuna said.

READ MORE...

The DOH already sent samples of the alleged toxic candies to the Food and Drug Administration in Tagum City on Saturday for examination, the results of which are expected to be released in three to five days.

Llacuna said the Caraga region is in code white or heightened alert due to the incidents.

The durian candies allegedly made in Davao City are suspected to be sold by ambulant vendors. Nine vendors, meanwhile, have been arrested as suspects in the poisoning cases.

Victims were provided with emergency treatment after vomiting and complaining of nausea, dizziness, stomach pain and headaches on Friday. They were from the capital Tandag and the towns of Cagwait, Tago, Bayabas and Marihatag

RELATED: 9 held over durian candy poisoning | More than 1,000 downed by durian candy


INQUIRER

Voting in the malls: Why not? says Comelec SHARES: 1 VIEW COMMENTS By: Tina G. Santos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 05:12 AM July 12th, 2015


The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) conduct voters’ registration and validation of biometrics data at Robinsons Place Manila, July 11, 2015. The poll body decided to bring this service to malls in pushing its “No Bio, No Boto” campaign for the 2016 polls. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Some voters may no longer have to endure the hot, crowded and chaotic atmosphere inside the polling precincts in the 2016 elections as some of the voting will be held inside air-conditioned shopping malls, according to the Commission on Elections.

Comelec Chair Andres Bautista, in a press briefing during the opening of the satellite registration at the Robinsons Place in Manila on Saturday, said the idea of holding elections inside the malls is part of the poll agency’s efforts to make voting more convenient for the public.

“We want to enhance the voting experience,” said Bautista, adding that he saw no legal impediment to elections being held in malls.

“If we can do it in private schools, why can’t we do it in other public facilities such as malls?” he said.

“I made a preliminary study in respect of these issues and what I am told is that you can move precincts that are near the malls to vote within the malls. So for example, instead of voting in a public school in the vicinity, we can transfer the polling precincts to the malls,” he explained.

Section 42 of the Omnibus Election Code states that public schools or any other public buildings within the barangay shall be used as polling places.

READ MORE...

It also provides that in case that there is no public school or other public building that can be used as polling places, other appropriate private buildings may be designated.

Bautista cited the advantages of voting inside the malls.

‘Happier voters’

“There are a lot of ills of elections that we can mitigate if we allow voting inside malls, like vote-buying, violence, the issue of impatient voters. You know, people tend to become irritable and hot-tempered if they’re in crowded areas. At least in malls, even if there are many people and long queues, there is the air-conditioning system to keep them cool,” he said.

He said the voting experience in a mall setting would ensure that people are happier while they cast their votes so it should also lead to greater voter turnout.

“Malls are well-lighted, restaurants are accessible so you can eat while waiting for your turn to vote. It will also decongest voters in the schools that are being used as polling precincts. It will enhance security and there will be no issue of brownouts that may affect transmission of votes since malls have generator sets,” he added.

The Comelec chief said the poll body is hoping it can finalize the mall-voting plan by November.

The Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) was the first to offer their malls as venues for voting in 2016.

“We hope that the example of Robinsons will be emulated by other similar organizations. I just don’t want the residents of Metro Manila to benefit from this.

It’s a great thing that Robinsons has 42 malls nationwide, we want everybody in the country as much as possible, if there is such an opportunity, [to be] be given the convenience in voting,” he said.

‘Win-win situation’

“It’s really a win-win as far as Comelec is concerned and we really we need forward-looking businessmen to be able to realize that this is good for the country, and therefore, eventually, good for business,” he said.

RLC president Frederick Go said the company was “very honored to host again the Comelec and be the first to allow voting in [the] Robinsons malls.

Come May 2016, I’m sure we will make the general public very, very happy that now they can vote in a very comfortable setting, and a very safe and secure environment.”

Manila residents took advantage of the satellite registration, which is part of the Comelec’s “No Bio, No Boto” campaign at Robinsons Place Ermita on Saturday.

Some 4.3 million registered voters are still without biometrics data—digital photograph, signature and fingerprints in their registration records—which the Comelec said was essential to qualify as a voter in 2016.


TRIBUNE

Noy, Mar want just one standard bearer, VP for LP; LP coalition must remain intact—Aquino Written by Tribune Wires Saturday, 11 July 2015 00:00


DUTERTE, ROXAS

It looks like Sen. Grace Poe is out of the running as the Liberal Party’s standard bearer in the 2016 elections as Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, in a TV interview at The Hague, said the LP is now considering Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, since Poe had already “politely refused” the offer of President Aquino, to run as runningmate of LP’s putative standard bearer, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.

It was also reported that Aquino and Roxas had agreed that the LP and its coalition partners should remain intact and should back a single presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.

This decision came about after Poe and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, confirmed meeting with Aquino in Malacañang earlier this week.

The President also told the two that they should talk with Roxas.

Poe and Escudero both confirmed to the media that there was a meeting with Aquino Thursday, the first time the President met both at the same time to discuss political plans in 2016, despite the two senators not having announced publicly their intention to run for a higher position in the upcoming polls.

According to Poe, the meeting was part of a continued “consultation process.”
Escudero affirmed that Aquino talked them into “keeping the coalition intact for 2016 by supporting a common bet,” adding that Aquino discussed the continuing reforms and the administration’s “straight” path slogan.

“We don’t need to get all this fixed up right now. I wish you would want this to be over, but I wish our group would support only one candidate so there won’t be a division,” Escudero said to reporters, quoting Aquino during the meeting.

READ MORE...

The possible tandem of Poe and Escudero in the coming presidential and vice presidential elections is seen as a threat to the administration bets, in the event the two decide to run as a team as “independents.”

The two senators, both now considered as frontrunners in the presidential and vice presidential race based on latest surveys, met with Aquino, with Escudero arriving first shortly after lunch and Poe coming in an hour and a half later.

Based on their conversations with the President, Escudero said the Chief Executive still appeared to be undecided on who to field as a standard bearer even as he had already made an earlier pronouncement saying that the administration’s presumptive candidate Roxas, is supposedly on top of his list as the ruling Liberal Party’s (LP) standard bearer for 2016 polls.

“Yes, the President met with us. We discussed 2016 but only to the extent of hopefully having a united ticket. No specific commitments or positions were mentioned. We will meet again as part of a continued consultation process,” Poe said in a text message sent to reporters.

Yet the President himself expressed his wish that the two senators, who confirmed the meeting that was claimed to have lasted for four hours, would support his idea on the administration party fielding a “common candidate,” meaning preserve the LP-led coalition of which Poe and Escudero are presumed to be part and to prevent the votes from being divided.



“I asked him directly if he had already made his decision since it is nearly the end of July and he replied that he has not done so. I also asked him if he had decided who in case would be his choice among those he had met and he replied that he has not decided on that either,” Escudero said in an interview with reporters.

“What is clear to me is that he still has not made a decsion,” Escudero stressed.

Escudero was believed to have been reacting to Speaker Belmonte’s statement that Poe is out of the picture, but which may also mean that he (Escudero) is still in the LP picture as Roxas’ vice presidential team mate as Aquino also told them to meet and talk to Roxas.

Another meeting is said to have been set among Roxas, Poe and Escudero.

Escudero also gave some indication that he is willing to be Roxas’ partner as his VP, as he said there is no fight between them and mentioned that at that time, he (Escudero) had as his VP bet now VP Jejomar Binay, because he didn’t know about the “allegations of corruption” against Binay then.

But Aquino, according to Palace spokesmen and Senate President Franklin Drilon who is LP’s vice chairman and strong supporter of Roxas, the LP bet, Aquino is set to announce his presidential bet after delivering his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) or before the month ends.

With his Sona just three weeks away, Escudero intimated that the President appears to be intent on narrowing his choice, apparently from among the three personalities as he sought another round of meeting with the two senators, this time with Roxas around, anytime soon.


STILL UNDECIDED

“Yes it’s true and we will meet again as part of a continued consultation process. No definite date yet when is the next one will be,” Poe said.

While it was the first time for Escudero to have a sit down talk with Aquino to discuss the administration’s “concerns”, that of continuing his reforms and his campaign for a “straight path” in governance, and the third time for Poe, Aquino remained vague on his thoughts and plans for the 2016 elections.

Escudero said there was no “offer” made to them, only that he expressed that the coalition that helped to propel him to the presidency would remain intact.

“We are part of the coaliiton, the coalition in 2013. As a member of the coalition, whether a party member or independents, we are still part of the coalition, together with the non-government groups that support him when he first ran in 2010,” Escudero said.

“(But) it’s not for me to keep the coalition intact,” he added.

Escudero emphasized that despite their willingness to keep the coalition intact, he and Poe will “remain” as independents, regardless of whatever decision they make, whether to throw their hats in the coming elections for a higher position or not.

“ Even as independents, there is no reason for us to change that. We are behind the President, we should hope for that,”he added.

“But you have to understand, this is a new coalition that he is building, since this coalition he is building is different as he is now into retirement. But because he has not made a decision yet, he cannot ask others to remain in the coalition, since he has not decided on who and what positions are for his choices,” Escudero said.

Both Escudero and Poe ran under the banner of the LP in their respective senatorial bids and won, despite not having direct ties with the political group.

The coalition with the Liberal Party was formed in 2013.

Aquino’s call on the two popular senators was echoed by Roxas as well at the sidelines of distributing patrol jeeps at the Batangas Provincial Capitol yesterday.

Roxas said that although he has not received any information on what topic was discussed during the meeting of the President with Poe and Escudero, he would be meeting with Aquino for lunch on a Friday.

“That’s how it is. Because we are on the straight path and we are pushing for stability and we fought to have no corrupt, no poor principle,” Roxas said when asked on his take on the meeting.

Roxas consistently lags in presidential preference polls, with Poe, despite having no intention or way to run again for presidency, leading against him in an Ibon poll.

The Interior Secretary is well behind top contenders Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay on a continued rate.

LP members have been expressing support for Roxas, despite Aquino not yet announcing his anointed one for the 2016 polls.

Poe had been earlier courted by Aquino to join with the LP in 2016, reportedly for a vice presidential seat as she continues to lead in surveys.

Roxas, who was yesterday in Batangas to give away some patrol cars, met with Gov. Vilma Santos, saying that she wouldn’t mind having Santos as his vice president.

Political observers said that Poe is likely out of the LP race, although her decision not to run may free Escudero from their aleged vow to run as an independent tandem,although they would be adopted by the Nationlist People’s Coalition as a tandem, as the talk goes.

However, Poe may have problems if she decides to run for either the presidency or the vice presidency, since she is bogged down by the problem of her lack of residency, which both posts require a 10 year residency, apart from her problem of her American citizenship, which passport she used up till Dec. 27, 2009.

The US Government accepted her renunciation of her American cirtizenship in 2014, although she renounced her American citizenship in the Philippines in 2010.
By Jason L. Labonera and Angie M. Rosales


INQUIRER

Aquino to Poe: ‘Go around the country with Mar Roxas’ SENATOR GRACE OKS PRESIDENT’S REQUEST BUT ON ONE CONDITION SHARES: 86 VIEW COMMENTS By: Nancy C. Carvajal and Leila Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:57 AM July 12th, 2015


President Benigno Aquino III, Sen. Grace Poe and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

President Benigno Aquino III asked Sen. Grace Poe to go around the country with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. She agreed, the Inquirer learned on Saturday, on one condition.

Poe requested the President to allow Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero to come, too.
Poe confirmed the information to the Inquirer on Saturday.

“The President asked that I go around with Mar. I said yes but three of us would go, including Chiz. The President said yes,” Poe told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

She did not say when Mr. Aquino asked her to tour the country with Roxas, but the Inquirer’s source said it was before the meeting among Poe, Escudero and the President in Malacañang on Thursday.

“[Senator] Poe has always been saying she’s more comfortable with [Senator] Escudero [as a running mate] because of their long history,” the source, who requested not to be identified, said.

“That’s why when the President asked her to go around with Mar, she politely requested the President that Chiz be allowed to go, too, and the President said yes,” the source said.

President Aquino is believed to be trying to get Poe to agree to run as Roxas’ Vice President in next year’s presidential election.

READ MORE...

But Poe, the new front-runner in the presidential race, has not decided whether to run for higher office.

She has consistently said, however, that if she is running, she prefers to run with Escudero because she is “more comfortable” with him.

Poe has said she has nothing against Roxas, as it was he who brought her into the administration coalition in 2013, when she topped the senatorial election.

“Secretary Mar is a nice person. It was he who convinced me to run for the Senate and helped me,” Poe said.

Roxas is the presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party, but he is unpopular with voters.

The latest voter preference polls for the presidency show Roxas running third, behind Vice President Jejomar Binay and Poe, or even fourth—behind Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City.

President Aquino is believed to be committed to endorse the presidential candidacy of Roxas, who gave way to him in 2010, and is trying to bolster his chances by getting Poe to agree to be his vice-presidential running mate.

Mr. Aquino has met twice with Poe but has not asked her to run with Roxas.

After Thursday’s meeting in the Palace, Escudero said he believed Mr. Aquino had not yet chosen a presidential candidate, as indicated by his talking to nonmembers of the LP.

Mr. Aquino has said that he will announce his choice after his last address to a joint session of Congress on July 27.

A source said the President was also working to preserve the 2013 coalition that carried the administration in that year’s elections and wanted the alliance to support his chosen presidential candidate.

But that, too, may be difficult, as parties in the coalition are looking to survive the end of the LP’s rule by supporting the potential winner of the presidential election.

The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) was one of the parties that teamed up with the LP to field an administration senatorial slate in 2013, but this time it would decide on its own who to support in the presidential and vice-presidential races, according to Sen. Vicente Sotto III.|

The NPC will support the President’s candidates only if they are the same as the party’s choices, Sotto, a senior NPC member, said in a telephone interview.

In an earlier interview, Sotto said there were NPC members who looked favorably on a Poe-Escudero ticket. Among those who spoke about possible support for Poe and Escudero was Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, the party president, he said.

But on Saturday, Sotto noted that there were also NPC members supportive of Binay, including former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco—the son of NPC’s founder—and the Gatchalians.

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

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

‘Noy still undecided on administration bet’ By Marvin Sy and Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 11, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


President Aquino wave handes

MANILA, Philippines - Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II may be the presumptive presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (LP) for the 2016 elections, but President Aquino – the party’s head – is not yet decided on endorsing him, according to Sen. Francis Escudero.

After a meeting with the President yesterday, Roxas expressed belief that Aquino would still count on the people who started and could continue his reforms in choosing candidates to endorse in next year’s elections.

Aquino met with Roxas a day after holding separate meetings with Escudero and Sen. Grace Poe at Malacañang. The President reportedly told the two that he wanted a common standard bearer for the administration and its allies.

Asked about the meeting, Escudero said he had the impression that Aquino was still undecided in choosing his successor.

“I asked him: have you made a decision yet? Have you selected someone already? He said not yet and that is why I am holding consultations with you,” Escudero said in Filipino.

Roxas, who went on leave as LP president, is being pushed as standard bearer by several party stalwarts including Senate President Franklin Drilon.

READ MORE...

Aquino also said recently that Roxas was on top of his list of possible successors, despite the poor showing of the interior secretary in surveys.

However, the President has continued his meetings with Poe and Escudero, both of whom have expressed openness to running for higher office next year.

The President met with Roxas over lunch yesterday. Roxas declined to give details, saying that as

a member of Aquino’s official family, his conversation with the President should be considered privileged.

“With due respect and deference to the President who has yet to speak on the matter, I will not discuss the details of my meeting with the President and (Budget and Management Secretary Florencio) Butch Abad,” Roxas said.

“However, I am confident that what we have been working on the past five years and the continuity of the reforms that have brought unprecedented benefits to our people remain paramount in the President’s mind. This consideration will define his choice in 2016,” he said.

The meeting took place in a restaurant at the Podium in Ortigas Center after the President led the change of command ceremony at the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Roxas came from Batangas and then proceeded to Laguna for his other appointments.

‘The best person’ Abad said the meetings with the President focused on his call on prospective candidates to consider first his vision to achieve progress in the country by continuing the reforms his government started before focusing on who should run in 2016.

“The President stressed, in both meetings… that the paramount consideration is being able to continue the reforms that have been instituted and this should not be sacrificed for any personal ambition. Everyone must work hard and even sacrifice so that these gains that have been achieved are continued and even made to grow further,” Abad said.

“Once everyone agrees on that paramount consideration, then we can start looking at who is the best person to carry that out – to continue the reforms,” he added.

According to Abad, personalities are secondary right now and what is primary is that reforms are continued.

The “historical framework for this,” Abad explained, would be the events in 2009 or after the President’s mother, Corazon Aquino, died and brought to the people’s consciousness the need to have incorruptible leaders.

Coming from the Arroyo administration that was saddled by controversies one after the other, Abad noted the people then started to ask who could carry on what Mrs. Aquino and her late husband, Benigno Jr. or Ninoy, stood for.

“There were already people positioning for the 2010 elections, but who among the people on the scene could do that? Some people pointed out that you don’t have to look far, because Cory and Ninoy have a son, who will surely not turn his back on their ideals and vision,” Abad said.

“And so the people chose this son, and he did not disappoint, instituting reforms across government, championing good governance and decency in public service… He will be exiting next year as the most trusted president in recent history,” he stressed.

Now, for 2016, Abad said Aquino had become the reference point or “what Cory and Ninoy were in 2010.”

In 2016, Abad expressed belief the question would be who could continue what P-Noy had started and put in place.

“That is when the different personalities come in. In this light, (the President) will play a crucial role in framing the discussion and helping the people decide who to elect,” Abad said.

“Yes, it is true that as of now there is no endorsement by (Aquino). He has said he (would) make the announcement after his SONA (State of the Nation Address). So as of now, officially there is no administration candidate for president yet,” he said.

A decision-making process The President has met with Poe thrice, including last Thursday’s meeting where Escudero was present.

Escudero said he was not aware that Poe would join his meeting with the President.

Just as he told Poe in their previous meetings, the President told the two senators that he wanted someone who would be able to continue the reforms he initiated and move the economy forward.

Escudero said the President aired his hope that the coalition that supported him in 2010 and even during the 2013 senatorial elections would remain intact.

He said the President did not want the same situation faced by his mother, where members of the coalition that supported her bid for the presidency went their separate ways and ran against each other in the presidential race of 1992.

Escudero said the President is actually building a new coalition this time around. Unlike the past two elections where the people rallied behind him as the leader, Aquino is now on his way out and someone else should be the face of the coalition.

During their meeting Thursday, Escudero said Aquino did not ask them to run as a candidate of the administration in any capacity or to give way to anyone in particular.

In the first place, Escudero said both he and Poe have not yet made any decision about the 2016 elections and they are also not members of the ruling party.

If there was anything that he got out of the meeting, Escudero said it was an input on his decision-making process as to whether he would run for higher office or if he would play another role.

In the 2010 elections, Escudero was instrumental in securing the victory of Vice President Jejomar Binay with his backing of the Noy-Bi (Aquino-Binay) cross-party ticket during the campaign period.

After the 2013 elections, Escudero severed his ties with Binay.

The President told Escudero and Poe that the three of them, plus Roxas, should meet again before he delivers his SONA on July 27.

Aquino is expected to announce his anointed successor after the SONA but before the end of the month.

‘Ulat sa Bayan’

Poe, on the other hand, is still undecided on whether to run for higher office next year.

But she is presenting her credentials, in the form of her accomplishments in her first two years in the Senate, to the public.

A day after meeting with the President for the third time with regard to the 2016 elections, Poe came out with her “Ulat sa Bayan” or accomplishment report as a neophyte senator.

This also comes after the opposition led by Vice President Jejomar Binay continued its criticism of inexperienced candidates for president, which many believe refers to her.

“Development is about choices and the ability of people to make genuine choices. This requires a healthy and educated citizenry who have fair access to information, resources, livelihood, services and security,” Poe said in a statement accompanying her accomplishment report.

Poe summarized her accomplishments in four categories namely: addressing hunger and malnutrition, freedom of information, transportation and peace and order.

One of the first issues she raised as a senator, Poe said, was the need to focus government priorities on ensuring that no Filipino child is deprived of the basic right to life and health.

With the support of colleagues, Poe spearheaded the initiative in the 2015 Budget Law for an institutionalized free lunch feeding program for public school kids nationwide to address malnutrition and produce able young Filipinos, as contained in her “Sustansya para sa Batang Pilipino” bill.


INQUIRER

Joma Sison confirms meeting Belmonte SHARES: 5 VIEW COMMENTS By: Kristine Angeli Sabillo @KSabilloINQ INQUIRER.net 11:30 PM July 10th, 2015


Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison meets Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Friday confirmed meeting Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in the Netherlands.

In an e-mail to INQUIRER.net, Sison described the meeting as that “of a social character, friendly and informal.” “We discussed a wide range of small and big topics in 3 hours and a half.

But the most important topic was the topic of promoting the GPH-NDFP (Government of the Philippines — National Democratic Front of the Philippines) peace negotiations,” he said.

The two parties have been negotiating for peace but talks have been stalled because of various reasons.

READ MORE...

“I took the initiative of saying that there is enough time to prepare for the resumption of formal talks and to make the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms) and possibly an agreement on truce and cooperation before the end of Aquino’s term,” he said.

However, Sison said he cannot give specific details of their conversation.

Belmonte earlier told INQUIRER.net that the meeting was not about the issues behind the stalled peace talks and was instead “a bridgebuilding and social meeting” with Sison and Luis Jalandoni, the chair of the NDFP negotiating panel.

Belmonte and other Philippine officials were in the Netherlands to attend the hearings of the country’s petition against China before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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