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

IN ASH WEDNESDAY MESSAGE, CARDINAL TAGLE SLAMS HYPOCRISY OF POLITICIANS


FEBRUARY 11 -NEVER TOO YOUNG A lay minister at Baclaran Church marks the forehead of a toddler with the sign of the cross using ashes from burnt palm fronds, as part of the observance of Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. EDWIN BACASMAS As the political campaign season unfolded, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle lashed out at the hypocrisy of some people who promote themselves under the guise of “charity.”
In his Ash Wednesday homily at the Archdiocese of Manila chapel in Intramuros, Tagle lamented that even charity, supposed to be a path to closer union with God, could be used for selfish interests. He did not mention politicians, but the reference was obvious when he spoke on the first day of Lent, when Catholics had their foreheads marked with ash. “This is why Jesus said when you give alms, don’t be noisy about it. Don’t have a barrage of photos taken when you’re donating to the poor. That’s the work of hypocrites who only want people to say ‘Wow, look at him, he’s really charitable, he’s helpful to others,’” he said in Filipino. The cardinal warned that doing acts of charity contrary to its true meaning is like rubbing salt in the wound. “Charity that doesn’t think of others, giving donations, giving alms but calling attention to oneself is not charity. It is an insult to the recipient,” he stressed. He added that this kind of almsgiving could bring a person farther from God. READ MORE...

ALSO: Amid much uncertainty, Bamboo Organ of Las Pinas turns 200


FEBRUARY 15 -CONDUCTOR Eudenice Palaruan during last year’s Bamboo Organ Festival LEO RENIER ON DWINDLING SUPPORT FOR ANNUAL MUSIC FESTIVAL: ‘IF WE HAVE NO CARE FOR HISTORY, NOTHING WILL BE LEFT. THE ORGAN WILL JUST BE A CABINET’ WHEN the International Bamboo Organ Festival celebrated 40 years in 2015, the organizers expressed concerns about the financial viability of continuing it. For, indeed, if even local artists couldn’t compete with international acts coming to the country to stage sold-out concerts, how could the Bamboo Organ Festival—a celebration of sacred music—stand a chance? This year, the instrument whose bamboo pipes were first cut by Augustinian Recollect friar Fr. Diego Cera in 1816, turns two centuries old. And while the festival gets to enjoy another year, the probability of it ending is not lost on executive director and founder Leo Renier. “If we have no care for history, nothing will be left,” said a clearly emotional Renier during the press con held at Manila Hotel. “The organ will just be a cabinet. You just look at it. It was not created to be looked at but to be heard. It creates beautiful music.” The annual one-week festival will open on Feb. 18 at St. Joseph Parish in Las Piñas. The organ’s music shares the spotlight with music from renowned local and international artists.The by-invitation-only gala concert will feature a blending of music of the bamboo organ; the pan flute featuring Switzerland’s Michel Tirabosco; the piccolo featuring Austria’s Raphael Leone; and the violin featuring Gina Medina Perez—in different settings, including two concertos by Vivaldi, the Magnifica by Durante; the motet “Jesu Meine Freude” by J.S. Bach; and the Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez. Resident conductor Eudenice Palaruan will premiere a special composition, “Canas”, a term for “reed or bamboo,” and one that Fr. Cera went by. READ MORE...

ALSO: Mock polls at the mall - Michael Jackson wins; celebrity names used


FEBRUARY 12 -Registered voters participate in the mock elections held at Robinsons Place in Manila yesterday. EDD GUMBA
If it were an actual election, the late King of Pop Michael Jackson would be the country’s next president.
Based on yesterday’s mock polls at the Robinsons Place Mall in Ermita, Manila – the first mock poll at a mall – Jackson was elected president by bagging 20 of 66 votes cast. Trailing him were singers Justin Bieber who got 15 votes, Selena Gomez with seven votes, Taylor Swift with six votes, Whitney Houston (four), Kelly Clarkson (three), and Adam Levigne and Kate Perry with two votes each. R&B singer Ariana Grande was voted vice president with 12 votes. She defeated Alicia Keys and Avril Lavigne with 11 votes each while Nicki Minaj, Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale got nine, seven and three votes, respectively. The candidates in the party-list race, on the other hand, were bands and singing groups Air Supply, Bee Gees, Queen, Black Sabbath, Hi-Five, Boyzone and Seoul’s Girls Generation. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the names on the ballots were “chosen at random to avoid any possible association with any candidate.” READ MORE...RELATED, Voting too slow at mock polls – Comelec...

ALSO Voters: Poverty is biggest issue - Survey


FEBRUARY 11 -POVERTY is the most pressing problem today, the latest The Standard Poll conducted by this newspaper’s resident pollster Junie Laylo shows.
In the survey conducted between Jan. 27 and Feb. 4, 23 percent of respondents nationwide rated poverty as the top concern, followed by corruption (20 percent), drug addiction or illegal drugs (14 percent), unemployment or lack of jobs (12 percent) and high prices of goods and services (9 percent). Poverty was also the second most-cited reason for the nation’s being on the wrong track (16 percent), next to government corruption (25 percent). Chief concern. Voters want candidates to address the problem of poverty, symbolized in this file photo by a homeless man living out of a push cart on a Manila street. Poverty was not the top issue in previous surveys. In May 2015, respondents said unemployment was the worst problem (29 percent), followed by corruption (19 percent), high prices of goods and services (17 percent), and drug addiction or illegal drugs (7 percent). Only 3 percent of those asked in May said poverty was the top national issue. The number went even lower in September, with only 2 percent citing poverty. In the December survey, corruption emerged as the top issue (31 percent), followed by poverty, drugs, unemployment and high prices at 15 percent, 14 percent, 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively. READ MORE...

ALSO: Programs readied for displaced OFWs


FEBRUARY 11 -The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday. Philstar.com/File
Falling oil prices may cost Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) their jobs, and the government is preparing to absorb those who decide to return home for good.
Programs are in place to allow returning OFWs to choose between local employment or livelihood opportunities, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the DOLE also has enough funds for repatriation and other forms of assistance that can be given to OFWs who may be affected by plunging crude oil prices. She said her office is collaborating with the private sector, including Coca Cola FEMSA Philippines, to develop programs and initiatives geared for employment matching, livelihood enhancement and technical or business training for returning OFWs. “This agreement indicates that convergence with the private sector is important. Partnerships in laying down concrete programs and services for returning overseas Filipino workers who intend to be locally employed or to set up their own livelihoods, or to enhance their knowledge and skills through technical training, could produce positive results and great impact,” Baldoz said. Baldoz said DOLE recognizes the importance of giving OFWs sufficient and meaningful opportunities for local employment and livelihood to encourage them to stay in the country permanently. READ MORE...

ALSO: Filipinos get first crack at dengue vaccine


FEBRUARY 11 -It’s a breakthrough in medicine history. Sanofi, a French multinational pharmaceutical company, has won the first ever regulatory approval for dengue fever’s vaccine. The green light came for Dengvaxia, the name of the vaccine, in Mexico.Photo Credit: Biotecnika.org
A vaccine that prevents dengue is now available and Filipinos will get first jab at it. Medical societies on Thursday launched Dengvaxia, which was developed and manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur. “Our country has been in the frontrunner of clinical development of this dengue vaccine because we are the only country that reached the three phases of clinical development. Phases 1, 2 and 3 were conducted in the Philippines,” Dr. Rose Capeding, head of the Department of Microbiology of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, said. The health breakthrough is the culmination of more than two decades of scientific innovation, collaboration, and research involving 25 clinical trials among over 14,000 individuals in 15 countries.The vaccine provides protection from four dengue strains. It was shown to be effective in preventing 9 out of 10 severe dengue and 8 out of 10 hospitalizations among those aged 9 to 45.READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

In Ash Wednesday message, Tagle slams hypocrisy of politicians


NEVER TOO YOUNG A lay minister at Baclaran Church marks the forehead of a toddler with the sign of the cross using ashes from burnt palm fronds, as part of the observance of Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent. EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, FEBRUARY 15, 2016 (INQUIRER) By: Tina G. Santos @inquirerdotnet 12:53 AM February 11th, 2016 - As the political campaign season unfolded, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle lashed out at the hypocrisy of some people who promote themselves under the guise of “charity.”

In his Ash Wednesday homily at the Archdiocese of Manila chapel in Intramuros, Tagle lamented that even charity, supposed to be a path to closer union with God, could be used for selfish interests.

He did not mention politicians, but the reference was obvious when he spoke on the first day of Lent, when Catholics had their foreheads marked with ash.

“This is why Jesus said when you give alms, don’t be noisy about it. Don’t have a barrage of photos taken when you’re donating to the poor. That’s the work of hypocrites who only want people to say ‘Wow, look at him, he’s really charitable, he’s helpful to others,’” he said in Filipino.

The cardinal warned that doing acts of charity contrary to its true meaning is like rubbing salt in the wound.

“Charity that doesn’t think of others, giving donations, giving alms but calling attention to oneself is not charity. It is an insult to the recipient,” he stressed.

He added that this kind of almsgiving could bring a person farther from God.

READ MORE...

Tagle reminded the faithful that real generosity of spirit was doing something for someone without their knowledge.

He tackled some concerns such as poverty and environment but reserved his more impassioned words for ordinary people whose struggles are worsened by some people’s “selfish” thirst for power.

“There will be a lot of charity work in the days to come but how many will be true service? Or these may just be self-promotion,” Tagle said.

According to him, Lent is a season for reconciliation with God. This invitation, he said, rings out to Christians to take the Lenten call to conversion seriously.

Tagle also emphasized the message of the Gospel reading in which Jesus rereads the three works of mercy—almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.

He stressed that fasting goes beyond reducing one’s food intake.

“Fasting is not dieting. It’s giving, almsgiving, sharing,” he said.

Tagle reminded Catholics that Lent is a time for renewal, with special attention to the suffering of others and helping them.

He said one way to help was by supporting the archdiocese’s Pondo ng Pinoy and the Fast2Feed of Hapag-Asa, a program aimed at feeding hungry and malnourished children.


INQUIRER

Amid much uncertainty, Bamboo Organ of Las Pinas turns 200 SHARES: New VIEW COMMENTS By: Dexter R. Matilla (Contributor) @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:30 AM February 15th, 2016


CONDUCTOR Eudenice Palaruan during last year’s Bamboo Organ Festival

LEO RENIER ON DWINDLING SUPPORT FOR ANNUAL MUSIC FESTIVAL: ‘IF WE HAVE NO CARE FOR HISTORY, NOTHING WILL BE LEFT. THE ORGAN WILL JUST BE A CABINET’


PROFESSOR Armando Salara, Leo Renier and Eudenice Palaruan PHOTOS BY DEXTER R. MATILLA

WHEN the International Bamboo Organ Festival celebrated 40 years in 2015, the organizers expressed concerns about the financial viability of continuing it.

For, indeed, if even local artists couldn’t compete with international acts coming to the country to stage sold-out concerts, how could the Bamboo Organ Festival—a celebration of sacred music—stand a chance?

This year, the instrument whose bamboo pipes were first cut by Augustinian Recollect friar Fr. Diego Cera in 1816, turns two centuries old. And while the festival gets to enjoy another year, the probability of it ending is not lost on executive director and founder Leo Renier.

“If we have no care for history, nothing will be left,” said a clearly emotional Renier during the press con held at Manila Hotel. “The organ will just be a cabinet. You just look at it. It was not created to be looked at but to be heard. It creates beautiful music.”

The annual one-week festival will open on Feb. 18 at St. Joseph Parish in Las Piñas. The organ’s music shares the spotlight with music from renowned local and international artists.

The by-invitation-only gala concert will feature a blending of music of the bamboo organ; the pan flute featuring Switzerland’s Michel Tirabosco; the piccolo featuring Austria’s Raphael Leone; and the violin featuring Gina Medina Perez—in different settings, including two concertos by Vivaldi, the Magnifica by Durante; the motet “Jesu Meine Freude” by J.S. Bach; and the Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez.

Resident conductor Eudenice Palaruan will premiere a special composition, “Canas”, a term for “reed or bamboo,” and one that Fr. Cera went by.

READ MORE...

Concert organist professor Armando Salarza will also present the winning piece of the 1st Bamboo Organ Composition Contest, which saw entries from Filipino music students.

Other musical performers include Christian Dino, Maria Sherla Najera, Pauline Therese DV Arejola, Kyle Tingzon, Jeandro Rabang, Mark Westvent Abesia; Villancico Vocal Ensemble; and MSO Chamber Orchestra.

As in previous years, there will be a “Concert under the Trees,” on Feb. 20. The open-air concert will feature relatively “less serious” music to be performed by the UP Jazz Ensemble, Tirabosco, France’s Jean-Marie Reboul, Bossa Nova artist Sitti and Daryl Ong (The Voice of the Philippines, ASAP 20 artist, Awit Awards 2015 Best R&B Recording).

Tirabosco’s pan flute will blend once more with the bamboo pipes in a unique recital on Feb. 21. Reboul will accompany him in a night supported by the Swiss Cultural Fund.

Hong Kong-born Australian organist Jennifer Chou will have a recital on Feb. 22.

On Feb. 23, the liturgical children’s choir Mirabilia of Betis, Pampanga, under the direction of Msgr. Greg Canlas, will perform together with the Las Piñas Boys Choir under Salarza.

Tickets for all concerts are at P600, P400 and P200. Students with IDs can get tickets at P100 at the gate only. The gala night on Feb. 18 is reserved for corporate sponsors, sustaining members, donors and institutional members of the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.
Call 8257190 and 820795; SM Tickets at 470-2222, Ticketnet at 9115555, Ticketworld at 8919999.


PHILSTAR

Mock polls at the mall: Michael Jackson wins By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 14, 2016 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


Registered voters participate in the mock elections held at Robinsons Place in Manila yesterday. EDD GUMBA

MANILA, Philippines - If it were an actual election, the late King of Pop Michael Jackson would be the country’s next president.

Based on yesterday’s mock polls at the Robinsons Place Mall in Ermita, Manila – the first mock poll at a mall – Jackson was elected president by bagging 20 of 66 votes cast.

Trailing him were singers Justin Bieber who got 15 votes, Selena Gomez with seven votes, Taylor Swift with six votes, Whitney Houston (four), Kelly Clarkson (three), and Adam Levigne and Kate Perry with two votes each.

R&B singer Ariana Grande was voted vice president with 12 votes. She defeated Alicia Keys and Avril Lavigne with 11 votes each while Nicki Minaj, Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale got nine, seven and three votes, respectively.

The candidates in the party-list race, on the other hand, were bands and singing groups Air Supply, Bee Gees, Queen, Black Sabbath, Hi-Five, Boyzone and Seoul’s Girls Generation.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the names on the ballots were “chosen at random to avoid any possible association with any candidate.”

READ MORE...

The Comelec held the mock elections in 20 cities and municipalities nationwide to test the automated election system (AES).

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista led the mock polls at H. Atienza Elementary School in Baseco, Manila, one of two voting centers for the mock held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The mock elections at Robinsons Place lasted only until 12 noon, with 40 of the 100 “voters” turning up for the exercise.

Bautista said he observed that voters were arriving in trickles during the first hour of voting. He also noticed that it took the first voter, 26-year-old Lawrence Panis, 11 minutes to cast his ballot.

“I just hope that on election day, this will not be the scenario in our polling places. I hope our voters will come early to vote. Also, 11 minutes is too long but, of course, we are trying to get into the groove,” he noted.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Voting too slow at mock polls – Comelec By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 14, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


Fausto Molina, a 79-year-old resident from Barangay San Isidro Labrador in Quezon City, selects ‘candidates’ during the nationwide mock elections yesterday. Inset photos show (from top) a mock poll participant signing the official voters’ list; a voter inserting her ballot into a vote counting machine as a Namfrel volunteer looks on; and a participant showing indelible proof of voting. BOY SANTOS/KRIZJOHN ROSALES

MANILA, Philippines - Dilly-dallying by voters at polling booths may cause delays in the overall electoral process on May 9 as initially shown by the outcome of yesterday’s mock polls in selected areas in the country.

“It’s slow. It took 11 minutes for the first voter in Baseco to vote. Eleven minutes is too long but, of course, we are (still) trying to get into the groove,” said Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, when sought for comment on how the mock elections had turned out.

He said most voters in the mock polls were observed to be taking their time in selecting their “candidates.”

He was referring to 26-year-old Lawrence Panis who was first to vote at the H. Atienza Elementary School in Baseco, Manila.

The 11 minutes, he said, did not include other election procedures like feeding of the ballot into the vote counting machine (VCM), and putting indelible ink on his finger.

Panis later told reporters he could not read the font on the ballots and that he was going through the names of the candidates he did not know.

The poll chief also observed that voters were arriving in trickles during the first hour of voting.

“I just hope that on election day, this will not be the scenario in our polling places. I hope our voters will come early to vote,” he maintained.

The Comelec held the mock elections yesterday to get a preview of what might happen on election day on May 9.

The poll body simulated the entire voting process from preparation, voting, counting, consolidation, canvassing and transmission of votes from the polling centers to the canvassing centers to the national data center based at the agency’s warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

A random manual audit was also performed to test the accuracy of the VCM.

Correction Bautista noted that through the mock exercise, the Comelec would be able to detect which aspect of the election process they should improve.

The mock polls were done after the Comelec was able to correct the errors found last week by SLI Global Solutions, the Denver-based international certifier, on the source codes of consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) and the VCM.

SLI found that the CCS source code was not compatible with the election management system (EMS) which contains vital information like the name of candidates, ballot serial numbers and specific details about certain polling precincts.

At the Robinsons Place Mall in Malate – one of the venues of the mock polls – registered voters from nearby communities were looking forward to voting at the mall on May 9.

Voter Rolly Ligtas told reporters that he was satisfied with his experience in the mock polls. “It’s okay. It’s comfortable here because there is an aircon. If you just follow the instructions, there’s no problem,” he said.

But for Msgr. Hernando Coronel, rector of Quiapo Church and priest adviser of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), he observed that the ink being used by voters to mark their choices on the ballots caused smudges that were visible underneath.

“I don’t know if it affects the ballot,” Coronel added.

Coronel said that he was expecting to see the new feature of the VCM where voters can view the votes that they cast on the verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) screen.

Arwin Serrano of the PPCRV said the Comelec should have turned on the VVPAT screen if it really wanted to simulate an actual election.

Serrano also questioned why the mock polls ran from 7 a.m. to 12 noon at participating polling precincts, except at the Baseco school and Ramon Magsaysay Elementary School in Cubao, Quezon City where the exercise lasted until 5 p.m.

According to Narciso Arabe, Comelec’s election officer for 5th District of Manila, 100 individuals were registered to vote at Robinsons Place but only 40 turned up. The poll body later allowed some members of the media to vote, raising the turnout to 66.

Arabe added that of the 66 ballots inserted into the VCM, only one ballot was rejected and it was because the voter did not shade the oval fully.

Based on tweets posted by Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on his account @jabjimenez, ballot rejections appeared to be minimal.

He cited a case at the polling precinct in Bagong Pagasa, Quezon City where one of 74 ballots was rejected “due to the marks deliberately made by voter.”

Jimenez also tweeted that at the Tenement E/S in Western Bicutan, only one of 99 ballots fed into the VCM was rejected.

Orderly in general In Lamitan City in Basilan, Comelec observer Julius Navarro said the mock elections went generally smoothly save for some reports of paper jam and some ballots being rejected by the VCM.

He also reported good turnout of voters for the mock polls held in barangays Parang Basak and Malinis.

Other problems observed were in signal transmission and electric supply.

The conduct of mock elections in at least four polling precincts Dagupan City and in Alaminos City also went smoothly, said Pangasinan election supervisor Marino Salas.

“This is not only to test the technology that we’re going to use but of course to inform the people to disseminate information on the process that we’re going to adopt on election day,” he told local reporters at the West Central Elementary School, one of the polling precincts.

Salas also said he was surprised to see many voters at the Pugaro Elementary School in Dagupan “as if it was really an election day.”

“We’re confident the results would be 100 percent accurate,” he said.

Raymond Vinluan, 64, of Pobalcion Oeste in Dagupan said it took him time looking for the names of his favored candidates.

Julius Torres, newly designated regional director of Comelec Region 1, said it was understandable that some voters who trooped to the polling precincts for the mock polls were dismayed when they saw unfamiliar names, not their candidates,’ on the ballots.

“We understand the zealousness of the people… but the purpose of this is to show process of voting and counting. We can’t use names of actual candidates because that could be used for another purpose,” Torres said.

Pangasinan was chosen for the mock polls site due to the size of its voting population – more than 1.7 million.

It was in Pangasinan where the PPCRV organized its One Good Vote campaign.

He said for the mock polls, they tried to accommodate at least 100 voters per precinct until noon.

Salas said it would be easier and more comfortable to vote on May 9 in the province as its clustered precincts now only have 700 voters each as against 1,000 in previous elections.

Voting hours would be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Longer voting hours and fewer voters in clustered precincts,” he said.

No printout Meanwhile, voters will have no printed record of their votes as the Comelec has stood pat on its decision not to print the voters verification paper audit trail tape receipts to prevent vote buying as well as speed up voting procedures.

“I can tell you now – we will not activate the tape receipts. As I’ve said before, there are more disadvantages than advantages if we will print the receipts,” Bautista told reporters yesterday in an interview.

VVPAT is a feature of the VCM that produces printout of each vote cast.

The Comelec is being urged to activate this feature so that voters can see if their votes are counted.

Bautista, however, argued that tape receipts cannot only be used as proof of vote selling but can also affect “time and motion” during the elections.

Comelec said it takes approximately 13 minutes to print a tape receipt or some 2.1 hours for a precinct with 600 voters.

This is on top of the five hours needed to review the printed tape receipt, bringing the total to 7.1 hours.

If a voter is not used to going through tape receipts in grocery stores, longer time may be required to read the VVPAT tape receipts.

But Bautista said the Comelec is still studying whether to show the votes cast on the VVPAT screen.

“We are still looking into this. The problem on VVPAT screen is the time and privacy. Voters will take some time to read the VVPAT screen while their privacy can be comprised because other people may be able to see the screen,” he pointed out.

Moreover, turning on VVPAT screen entails five more hours for a polling precinct with 600 voters.

This is assuming that each voter spends 30 seconds in inspecting his or her ballot receipts onscreen.

Former elections chief Sixto Brillantes agreed that VVPAT tape receipt should not be printed but proposed that voters be given limited time to view their votes if the VVPAT screen is activated.

Meanwhile, Bautista said the name of the late OFW Family Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres should be removed from the ballots “to honor his memory.”

Bautista said Seneres’ family and his political party Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka-Workers and Peasants Party (PMM-WPP) have different opinions on the matter.

He said while the party had indicated its desire to field a replacement for Señeres, his famlly had manifested that it was among his “last wishes” to be excluded from the ballots.

“Even within the family, some family members texted me that they are still thinking about it... Personally, I believe that Señeres’ name should be removed to honor his memory,” the poll chief added.

As a policy in case of death, a candidate can be replaced with a party-mate provided that they have the same surname.

But the party nominated lawyer Apolonia Comia-Soguilon as Señeres’ replacement. Eva Visperas, Roel Pareño


MANILA STANDARD

Voters: Poverty is biggest issue posted February 12, 2016 at 12:01 am by Adelle Chua

POVERTY is the most pressing problem today, the latest The Standard Poll conducted by this newspaper’s resident pollster Junie Laylo shows.

In the survey conducted between Jan. 27 and Feb. 4, 23 percent of respondents nationwide rated poverty as the top concern, followed by corruption (20 percent), drug addiction or illegal drugs (14 percent), unemployment or lack of jobs (12 percent) and high prices of goods and services (9 percent).

Poverty was also the second most-cited reason for the nation’s being on the wrong track (16 percent), next to government corruption (25 percent).

Chief concern. Voters want candidates to address the problem of poverty, symbolized in this file photo by a homeless man living out of a push cart on a Manila street.
Poverty was not the top issue in previous surveys.

In May 2015, respondents said unemployment was the worst problem (29 percent), followed by corruption (19 percent), high prices of goods and services (17 percent), and drug addiction or illegal drugs (7 percent). Only 3 percent of those asked in May said poverty was the top national issue.

The number went even lower in September, with only 2 percent citing poverty.

In the December survey, corruption emerged as the top issue (31 percent), followed by poverty, drugs, unemployment and high prices at 15 percent, 14 percent, 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

READ MORE...

In terms of geography, respondents from the Visayas who most strongly felt poverty was the main issue at 27 percent, higher than the national figure of 23 percent. The next most worrisome problem in the Visayas was drugs (22 percent) followed by corruption (19 percent).

For those in Mindanao, poverty was also top concern (22 percent).

Respondents from Metro Manila rated corruption as the top national problem (28 percent), with poverty coming in second (24 percent).

In Northern and Central Luzon, these two issues were both cited by 25 percent of respondents.

Other problems cited in the open-ended question were criminality, low salary or income, traffic, school facilities, flooding, water supply, illegal gambling, lack of housing and presence of rebel groups.

The Standard Poll was conducted with 3,000 respondents across the country, with 300 from the National Capital Region, 700 from Northern and Central Luzon, 600 from South Luzon and Bicol, 700 in the Visayas and 700 from Mindanao.

All respondents were biometrically registered voters who said they are certain to vote in the May elections.

The Standard Poll has a margin of error of +/-1.8 percent nationwide.


PHILSTAR

Programs readied for displaced OFWs By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus0 1


Programs are in place to allow returning OFWs to choose between local employment or livelihood opportunities, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines – Falling oil prices may cost Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) their jobs, and the government is preparing to absorb those who decide to return home for good.

Programs are in place to allow returning OFWs to choose between local employment or livelihood opportunities, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the DOLE also has enough funds for repatriation and other forms of assistance that can be given to OFWs who may be affected by plunging crude oil prices.

She said her office is collaborating with the private sector, including Coca Cola FEMSA Philippines, to develop programs and initiatives geared for employment matching, livelihood enhancement and technical or business training for returning OFWs.

“This agreement indicates that convergence with the private sector is important. Partnerships in laying down concrete programs and services for returning overseas Filipino workers who intend to be locally employed or to set up their own livelihoods, or to enhance their knowledge and skills through technical training, could produce positive results and great impact,” Baldoz said.

Baldoz said DOLE recognizes the importance of giving OFWs sufficient and meaningful opportunities for local employment and livelihood to encourage them to stay in the country permanently.

READ MORE...

“We just have to pin down which of our respective programs can be identified as possible areas of collaboration, develop OFW-tailored programs and services and direct these to OFWs for their own choosing,” Baldoz explained.

Once these employment and livelihood programs are identified, Baldoz said DOLE would enroll them in the Assist W.E.L.L. program, which is the agency’s convergence assistance program for OFWs welfare, employment, livelihood and legal concerns.

She added that DOLE is also pursuing similar collaborative agreements with other private sector partners, such as the Philippine Plastics Industry Association, Philippine Association of Local Service Contractors, Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines, Aerospace Industries Association of the Philippines and Ayala Land.

As for repatriation, Baldoz said DOLE has enough funds for the purpose and that it can also seek the help of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) if funds would not be enough.

OWWA chief Rebecca Calzado said government agencies, like DOLE and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), are continuously monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.

“In case there will be displacement, the affected workers cannot return immediately because they will have to process their exit visas which will take some time. So, we are already discussing possible assistance the government will have to provide while they are still abroad,” Calzado noted.


MANILA TIMES

Pinoys get first crack at dengue vaccine February 11, 2016 7:23 pm


It’s a breakthrough in medicine history. Sanofi, a French multinational pharmaceutical company, has won the first ever regulatory approval for dengue fever’s vaccine. The green light came for Dengvaxia, the name of the vaccine, in Mexico.Photo Credit: Biotecnika.org

A vaccine that prevents dengue is now available and Filipinos will get first jab at it.

Medical societies on Thursday launched Dengvaxia, which was developed and manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur.

“Our country has been in the frontrunner of clinical development of this dengue vaccine because we are the only country that reached the three phases of clinical development. Phases 1, 2 and 3 were conducted in the Philippines,” Dr. Rose Capeding, head of the Department of Microbiology of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, said.

The health breakthrough is the culmination of more than two decades of scientific innovation, collaboration, and research involving 25 clinical trials among over 14,000 individuals in 15 countries.

The vaccine provides protection from four dengue strains. It was shown to be effective in preventing 9 out of 10 severe dengue and 8 out of 10 hospitalizations among those aged 9 to 45.

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Dr. Sally Gatchalian, president of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Philippines, noted that the cost of the vaccine “is very affordable and reasonable.”

“The first thing we need to understand and realize is that dengue is a devastating disease. It does not have only medical burden but there is economic burden, there’s social burden, emotional and psychological stress, and trauma not only to the patients but the whole family as well,” Gatchalian said.

Dr. Cecilia Montalban, president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, noted that over 110,000 Filipinos get sick of dengue annually. The government spends P16.7 billion every year due to the viral infection.

In the last 50 years, the mosquito-borne disease has spread to 128 countries where around 3.9 billion people live. Dengue incidence has increased 30-fold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Experts said that the vaccine will reduce dengue mortality.

“Our aim is to protect our patients as much as possible. We don’t want them to be hospitalized. The prevention is now available and that is the most important thing. We suggest and recommend that you go visit a physician, have yourself and your children assessed and evaluated to get the vaccine,” Gatchalian said.
Michael Joe T. Delizo


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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