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HEADLINES NEWS THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

SEPT 14: SIGNAL NO. 4 RAISED IN BATANES; 'FERDIE' MAKES LANDFALL TODAY[RELATED UPDATE SEPT 17: 'Gener' to bring rains as it exits]
[RELATED(2) UPDATE: STATE OF CALAMITY -
Batanes needs help after being battered by ‘Ferdie’]


DOUBLE THREAT – A PAGASA weather forecaster points out two typhoons – ‘Ferdie’ (left) and ‘Gener’ – on a monitor at the state weather agency. Now a super-typhoon, ‘Ferdie’ is expected to be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) just as ‘Gener’ enters it. (Federico Cruz / Manila Bulletin) Typhoon “Ferdie” (international name “Meranti”) has picked up strength packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 250 kph, prompting weather forecasters to raise tropical cyclone signal No. 4 over the Batanes group of islands where 171 kph to 220 kph winds are expected. “That strength is already very near the minimum super typhoon level of 220 kph and ‘Ferdie’ can still intensify further,” weather forecaster Buddy Javier said. “Communities there must prepare for such possibility,” he added. The typhoon will likely move west-northwest at a faster speed of 23 kph, Javier continued. PAGASA data also shows the diameter of ‘Ferdie’ has expanded to 600 km from 500 km. “That typhoon has a bigger circulation already,” Javier said. Signal No. 3 was hoisted over the Babuyan group of islands where 121 kph to 170 kph winds, rough waters and up to 2.0 meter-high storm surges are expected while Signal No. 2 was raised over Ilocos Norte, Apayao and northern Cagayan where 61 kph to 120 kph winds with waves from 4.1 meter- to 14 meter-high waves are expected as well as storm surges. The rest of Cagayan, northern Isabela, Kalinga, Abra and northern Ilocos Sur are under Signal No. 1. READ MORE...RELATED, Gener to bring rains as it exits...RELATED(2),
Batanes needs help after being battered by ‘Ferdie’...

ALSO: 20M of poor Filipinos to get mandatory basic check-up by Christmas –DOH [ALSO: Armed policemen can now conduct foot patrol in malls - PNP]


SEPTEMBER 14 -Some 20 million poor Filipinos will get mandatory basic check-up by December as part of the Duterte administration's universal healthcare program, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said Wednesday.
At a press briefing, Ubial said the "the early Christmas gift" will be launched on Thursday to achieve an end date of December 25. "The first 100 days is the check-up. That means our goal is to really look into who are listed in the National Household Targeting System of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and to get to all those individuals," Ubial said. She said maintenance medicine will be at hand while additional procedures such as surgeries will be scheduled at a later date. "Kung sino ho ang makitang may further need, diagnostic—kailangan ng CT Scan, MRI, kailangan operahan—yun po ay gagawin natin in the immediate future. But the drugs and medicine, these are now available. As soon as the patients are detected in our check-ups, they will be provided the maintenance medicine," Ubial said. The program's launch on Thursday will coincide with the National Health Summit, an event which Sen. Risa Hontiveros hopes will "underscore the importance" of local government units in preventive response. "We need to seriously study the possibility of building super barangay centers to strengthen our current barangay health system by modernizing it with adequate facilities, personnel, and expertise," she said. READ MORE...RELATED, Armed policemen can now conduct foot patrol in malls...

ALSO: Pope dons scrubs to visit premature babies at Rome hospital
[ALSO: ROME HOSTS ITS FIRST SAME-SEX CIVIL UNION]


SEPTEMBER 16 -Pope Francis holds a baby during a visit to the neonatology division of the San Giovanni hospital in Rome, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP
ROME — Pope Francis has donned a pair of surgical scrubs to visit premature babies at a Rome hospital. Francis seemed enchanted by the tiny babies squirming, sleeping and crying in the neonatology unit of San Giovanni hospital, where he left a papal medal in each crib. He cradled newborn Emiliano in his arms, asking "Is he eating well?" and inquired about other babies as he greeted parents and NICU staff. Each month of his Holy Year of Mercy, Francis spends one Friday afternoon outside the Vatican performing an act of mercy. After visiting the babies, Francis went to a hospice to meet with the terminally ill. The Vatican says he wanted to send a message about respecting life at all stages, from its start to natural death. READ MORE...ALSO, ROME HOSTS ITS FIRST SAME-SEX CIVIL UNION...

ALSO: Sandiganbayan dismisses NBN-ZTE graft case vs Arroyo
[RELATED: ZTE graft: GMA, Mike, Abalos cleared]


SEPTEMBER 15 -File photo
The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has dismissed graft cases against Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the allegedly anomalous National Broadband Network deal signed while she was president. The court granted Arroyo's demurrer to evidence, a motion to dismiss a case based on insufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution, saying the prosecution "did not sufficiently prove the guilt of the accused." Laurence Arroyo, the former president's counsel, told reporters that Arroyo has been "vindicated anew." He said that Rep. Arroyo "has always kept her faith in the judiciary and our courts have not failed to fearlessly render justice." He added the granting of the demurrers prove that the cases filed against the former Arroyo were weak. 'Persecution, not prosecution' In July, the Supreme Court dismissed a graft case against her over her alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. She was released from hospital arrest at the Veterans' Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on July 21. She had been detained at the VMMC since 2012. READ MORE...RELATED,
ZTE graft: GMA, Mike, Abalos cleared...

ALSO: Aquino, Purisima face graft plaint over gasoline smuggling


SEPTEMBER 14 -A former customs commissioner on Wednesday filed a graft complaint against former President Benigno Aquino III and his Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima for turning a blind eye on the alleged smuggling of gasoline. In a joint complaint-affidavit filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales named Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC) as misdeclaring its gas importations since 2004 after it reclassified the gasoline as imports that are not subject to taxes. “Without any iota of doubt, PSPC’s misdeclarations and refusal to pay the proper excise tax and VAT constitute smuggling penalized under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines,” the complaint read. Other complainants include Lourdes Aclan, a journalist and publisher of Headlines News Today, and Juan Tan, a former district collector at the Port of Batangas. The complainants said from 2001 to Feb. 2004, PSPC paid excise tax and value added tax (VAT) for its gas importation which it declared as Catalytic Cracked Gasoline (CCG) and Light Catalytic Cracked Gasoline (LCGG). These imports were classified as unleaded gasoline. In March 2004, PSPC suddenly changed the declaration of tariff classification from unleaded gasoline to “tetrapropylene,” which is not subject to excise tax and VAT. The PSPC also reclassified the import to mere “blending component.” “Due to this modification in the declaration, PSPC evaded payment of the taxes for all its shipments of CCG and LCCG from March 2004 to 2009,” the complainants said. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Signal No. 4 raised in Batanes; ‘Ferdie’ makes landfall today


DOUBLE THREAT – A PAGASA weather forecaster points out two typhoons – ‘Ferdie’ (left) and ‘Gener’ – on a monitor at the state weather agency. Now a super-typhoon, ‘Ferdie’ is expected to be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) just as ‘Gener’ enters it. (Federico Cruz / Manila Bulletin)

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Ellalyn De Vera September 14, 2016 - Typhoon “Ferdie” (international name “Meranti”) has picked up strength packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 250 kph, prompting weather forecasters to raise tropical cyclone signal No. 4 over the Batanes group of islands where 171 kph to 220 kph winds are expected.

“That strength is already very near the minimum super typhoon level of 220 kph and ‘Ferdie’ can still intensify further,” weather forecaster Buddy Javier said. “Communities there must prepare for such possibility,” he added.

The typhoon will likely move west-northwest at a faster speed of 23 kph, Javier continued. PAGASA data also shows the diameter of ‘Ferdie’ has expanded to 600 km from 500 km. “That typhoon has a bigger circulation already,” Javier said.

Signal No. 3 was hoisted over the Babuyan group of islands where 121 kph to 170 kph winds, rough waters and up to 2.0 meter-high storm surges are expected while Signal No. 2 was raised over Ilocos Norte, Apayao and northern Cagayan where 61 kph to 120 kph winds with waves from 4.1 meter- to 14 meter-high waves are expected as well as storm surges.

The rest of Cagayan, northern Isabela, Kalinga, Abra and northern Ilocos Sur are under Signal No. 1.

READ MORE...

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) expects “Ferdie” to make a landfall in Batanes today and expected to exit from the Philippine Areaof Responsibility (PAR) later today.

“Coastal areas there can experience storm surges two to three meters high,” he noted. Heavy rainfall is also likely, he added.

Preparations

Weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said communities in Northern Luzon will experience impacts of ‘Ferdie’ beginning Tuesday night and heavy rains will persist over the area until early Thursday.

Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, NDRRMC Executive Director and Office of Civil Defense Administrator, assured the public that his offices and all member agencies are ready to respond to any untoward incident that may result due to the effects of the typhoon.

In Ilocos Norte, classes from pre-school to high school were suspended both in public and private starting Tuesday afternoon.

Msgr. Noel Ian Rabago, social action director of the Diocese of Laoag, said churches are ready to serve as evacuation centers in case the need arises.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has assured the public that the agency and its field offices have done preparatory measures for the possible impact of typhoon Ferdie in the country, especially in Northern Luzon.

Another storm

The weather agency is monitoring another tropical storm (international name “Malakas”) 1,605 km east of Luzon. The storm, which is weaker than Ferdie is still outside PAR but will be named “Gener” once it enters PAR.

Malakas has maximum sustained winds of 75 kph and gustiness of up to 90 kph, moving relatively fast at 30 kph west-northwest, and will likely enter PAR by tomorrow morning.

Today, cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms is expected over Northern Mindanao, Visayas and the rest of Luzon, while partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms will prevail over the rest of Mindanao.

By Thursday, Ilocos Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Zambales and Bataan will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains. (With reports from PNA, Leslie G. Aquino, Francis T. Wakefield and Liezle Basa-Inigo)

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RELATED UPDATE FROM PHILSTAR

Gener to bring rains as it exits By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 17, 2016 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0


As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) maintained tropical cyclone warning signal No. 1 over the Batanes Group of Islands. Screen grab from www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph 

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoon Gener (international name Malakas) moved closer to Taiwan yesterday, but it will continue to bring rains and gusty winds over extreme Northern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) maintained tropical cyclone warning signal No. 1 over the Batanes Group of Islands.

PAGASA said Gener gained more strength and slightly slowed down as it traversed the Bashi Channel yesterday afternoon.

The eye of Gener was spotted at 200 kilometers east-northeast of Basco, Batanes as of 4 p.m., with maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 195 kph.

It was forecast to move north-northwest at 20 kph from 24 kph earlier in the day.

Areas within its 400-km diameter will experience moderate to heavy rains, the agency said.


Typhoon Gener enters PH as Ferdie exits MANILA: Life in the provinces hit by Typhoon “Ferdie”, which left the country’s area of responsibility (PAR) yesterday noon en route to Southeastern China, was yet to limp back to normalcy when another typhoon named “Gener” entered PAR.Staff Report Published: September 15, 2016 the-filipino-times_typhoon-gener-enters-ph-as-ferdie-exits

PAGASA said Gener was no longer expected to make landfall in the country. If it maintains its present speed and track, it is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) this afternoon.

PAGASA said the provinces of Batanes, Palawan, Mindoro, Zambales and Bataan will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms today.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country, meanwhile, will be partly cloudy to cloudy with some isolated rain showers and thunderstorms.

Tomorrow, Metro Manila and the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley and the provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Palawan (northern section) will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with chances of some isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

PAGASA said no tropical cyclone is expected to enter PAR until Friday next week.

By Monday and Tuesday, Luzon, Visayas and the regions of Caraga, Davao, Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

The rest of Mindanao will be partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

By Wednesday, Luzon and Eastern Visayas will continue to have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms, while the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

By Thursday and Friday, Luzon will be partly cloudy in the morning, becoming cloudy in the afternoon until evening with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms.

The rest of the country will have generally fair weather with chances of some isolated rain showers or thunderstorms. – With Janvic Mateo, Raymund Catindig, Rainier Allan Ronda

PHOTO NEWS REPORT


PAGASA lifts warning signal as 'Gener' exits PAR (philstar.com) | Updated September 17, 2016 - 1:19pm 2 11 googleplus0 0

As of 11 a.m. Saturday, Gener was located 460 kilometers north of Basco, Batanes with maximum sustained winds of up to 175 kilometer per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph. PAGASA

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RELATED(2) UPDATE FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Batanes needs help after being battered by ‘Ferdie’ September 18, 2016 Share12 Tweet0 Share0 Email1 Share100 By Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce And Ellalyn B. De Vera

Clueless about where her family is seeking refuge after typhoon “Ferdie” ruined her hometown Kayvaluganan in Basco, Batanes, Ivatan Annaleah Roberto said she could only wish that help from government is underway for the affected residents, her family included. Communication lines are down which adds to the anxiety of not knowing how her loved ones are faring since the storm battered the province Tuesday.

“Makasarili na kung makasarili pero sana help is coming… Puro droga kasi ngayon. Sana kahit saglit lang mapansin naman kami. Sana po makapag-abot ng tulong sa Batanes very soon kasi they really need immediate help,” Roberto told Manila Bulletin in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Roberto, 22 who is currently based in Baguio City, said he has been trying to reach her family since she heard the news about the typhoon but to no avail.

“Personally, wala pa akong update sa pamilya ko. All I know right now is that they need help. Cellphones dun wala nang silbi dahil wala na raw kuryente. Saan pa kami kakapit?” she said.

Roberto gets a little comfort in the thought that no casualty has been recorded in their town, so far.

State of Calamity

The provincial government of Batanes has declared a state of calamity due to the damage brought by typhoon “Ferdie.” Officials of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the region estimate the damage to agricultural at P37 million.

They have yet to assess the extent of damage to infrastructure but post-typhoon inspections have shown damaged government buildings and churches, destroyed houses and fallen electrical lines.

OCD regional director Norma Talosig has estimated that power supply will be restored in two to three weeks’ time.

Batanes residents are pleading for potable drinking water, food, generating sets, water pumps, transformers, galvanized iron for damaged roofs and construction materials, Talosig added.

Ready for airlift

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said they are ready with their relief assistance to affected families but are only waiting for good weather to prevail and a go signal from the Philippine Air Force to airlift the goods to affected areas.

DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo is hoping that the relief goods would be airlifted by C130 to Batanes today, September 18.

The shipment includes 20,000 pieces of ready-to-eat brown rice bars, 800 family food packs, 5,000 pieces of Malong, 5,000 bottles of water, 3 units of generator from the Office of Civil Defense and DSWD, 40 rolls of ropes, and 30 rolls of laminated sacks.

These goods have been at the Villamor Airbase since September 14.

The Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team, and the Rapid Damage and Needs Analysis Team from Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) are also on standby in case the Air Force gives the green light to take off.

As of 6 a.m. Saturday, 2,710 families (10,344 persons) from Regions 1 (Ilocos Region) and 2 have been displaced by “Ferdie” of whom 20 families (151 persons) are still inside three evacuation centers in Basco, Batanes while 2,651 families (10,063 persons) are temporarily sheltered in their relatives’ and friends’ houses.

Aside from the relief supplies that will be airlifted, the DSWD-Field Office in Region 2 has initially provided 110 sacks of rice, 46 boxes of meatloaf, 56 boxes of sausage and 21 boxes of sardines to the affected families in Basco, Batanes.

Thirty sacks of rice were also set aside for Ivana, Batanes, and 30 sacks of rice for Uyugan, Batanes.

There are still 50 sacks of rice at the Provincial Social Welfare Office of Batanes for additional allocation to the affected municipalities.

Update from friends

Roberto said she gets her hometown updates from her friends and batch mates who were lucky enough to talk to their families amid poor signal.

“Sa layo ng lugar namin sa kabihasnan. Para makakuha lang kami ng simpleng update mula sa kanila ay kailangan pa nilang pumunta sa Southern part ng Batanes which is Ivana and Uyugan. At napakadelikado ng daan para lang makakuha ng kapiranggot na signal,” she shared.

A friend told Roberto that many houses and schools were damaged by the storm which was near supertyphoon category packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 250kph. It made landfall in Itbayat, Batanes, early Wednesday morning. Storm signal No. 4 was raised over the Batanes group of islands.

“Most of the Ivatans there ay nawalan ng bahay dahil sa bagyo. A friend told me na bahay ng auntie ko literal na sira. Kailangan pa nilang sumaklob sa kapitbahay,” she said.

“Ang mga eskwelahan na iilan lang meron ang Batanes, winasak din ng bagyo,” she added.

Roberto said she was told there is also a shortage in food and water.

“Ang kailangan nila dun ngayon is tulong, food and water. Walang supply ng tubig at pagkain. Wala nang mabili daw sa mga tindahan dahil paubusan na. Ang daming sinasabi ng mga tao na ‘Batanes lang iyan, daanan ng bagyo’ peron hindi naman sapat na dahilan iyon para ‘di kami pansinin,” she said. (With a report from PNA)


PHILSTAR

Pope dons scrubs to visit premature babies at Rome hospital (Associated Press) | Updated September 17, 2016 - 3:36am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Pope Francis holds a baby during a visit to the neonatology division of the San Giovanni hospital in Rome, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP

ROME — Pope Francis has donned a pair of surgical scrubs to visit premature babies at a Rome hospital.

Francis seemed enchanted by the tiny babies squirming, sleeping and crying in the neonatology unit of San Giovanni hospital, where he left a papal medal in each crib.

He cradled newborn Emiliano in his arms, asking "Is he eating well?" and inquired about other babies as he greeted parents and NICU staff.

Each month of his Holy Year of Mercy, Francis spends one Friday afternoon outside the Vatican performing an act of mercy. After visiting the babies, Francis went to a hospice to meet with the terminally ill.

The Vatican says he wanted to send a message about respecting life at all stages, from its start to natural death.

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RELATED FROM EURO NEWS

ROME HOSTS ITS FIRST SAME-SEX CIVIL UNION



Rome has hosted its first ever same-sex civil union. The ceremony, which was officiated by newly-elected Mayor Virginia Raggi, comes just under three months after a law came into force formally accepting such unions.

Roman Catholic Italy was the last European Union member to legally recognise same-sex unions, as such Luca de Sario, 30, and Francisco Raffaele Villarusso, 43, had considered tying the knot in Spain, as they explained.

inRead invented by Teads

“We had already decided do it and we moved abroad, but when the bill was approved we packed up all our things and came back to Italy,” said Villarusso.

Progress?

While recognised as a step forward, the Civil Union bill has also come under fire for a controversial adoption clause.

Reports have also emerged in the Italian press of difficulties if the couple decides to combine their surnames, rather than choosing one family name. This is said to cause tax and identity problems that don’t exist for heterosexual couples.

Double-barrelling a name after a civil union is considered a ‘name-change’, meaning the couple’s tax code is changed. Further still, under Italian law, a ‘name-change’ is considered an ‘identity change’ meaning all identity documents and insurance will have to be changed and new social security cards applied for, La Repubblica reports.

In Italy, legal name changes are usually only allowed if a person is under police protection or caused extreme ‘shame of humiliation’ by their existing name, according to The Local, Italy.

EARLIER PHOTO REPORT FROM CATHOLIC NEWS USA (JANUARY 29, 2016)


Pope Francis sends mixed signals on civil unions for gay couples - Tens of thousands of Italians took to at least 100 piazzas up and down the country to demonstrate their support for a measure currently before the Italian parliament, and backed by the governing center-left majority, to provide civil unions for same-sex couples along with full adoption rights.By editorsub1 on January 29, 2016 4:31 am in International News /


GMA NEWS

20M poor Filipinos to get mandatory basic check-up by Christmas –DOH Published September 14, 2016 5:27pm By RIE TAKUMI, GMA News

Some 20 million poor Filipinos will get mandatory basic check-up by December as part of the Duterte administration's universal healthcare program, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said Wednesday.

At a press briefing, Ubial said the "the early Christmas gift" will be launched on Thursday to achieve an end date of December 25.

"The first 100 days is the check-up. That means our goal is to really look into who are listed in the National Household Targeting System of the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and to get to all those individuals," Ubial said.

She said maintenance medicine will be at hand while additional procedures such as surgeries will be scheduled at a later date.

"Kung sino ho ang makitang may further need, diagnostic—kailangan ng CT Scan, MRI, kailangan operahan—yun po ay gagawin natin in the immediate future. But the drugs and medicine, these are now available. As soon as the patients are detected in our check-ups, they will be provided the maintenance medicine," Ubial said.

The program's launch on Thursday will coincide with the National Health Summit, an event which Sen. Risa Hontiveros hopes will "underscore the importance" of local government units in preventive response.

"We need to seriously study the possibility of building super barangay centers to strengthen our current barangay health system by modernizing it with adequate facilities, personnel, and expertise," she said.

READ MORE...

Universal health care is part of the Duterte Health Agenda that will be launched at the summit. Its three main goals is to prevent premature deaths "from the scourges of stressful daily living and emerging public health threats like drug addiction and Zika"; to give poor Filipinos freedom from high cost of medical care; and to give all Filipinos satisfactory experiences when they access health services.

Ubial clarified that health professionals were removed from certain grassroots programs such as “Doctor to the Barrios” program due to a directive by the Department of Budget and Management to implement the fourth phase of the Salary Standardization Law.

"[Because] we are constrained on the allocation of the ceiling total, nagbawas ng number of health professionals in that category. But we have to comply with the guidelines of DBM," Ubial said.

In response, the Department of Health created new positions in other categories to make up for the lost jobs.

"Dun po nakapasok sa public health assistance, which are nurses. We increased the number from 600 to 2,400. For the doctors, it’s under the universal health care providers. So that’s about 400, ginawa naming 1,600," Ubial explained.

"In effect, the total human resource complement that the Department of Health will deploy to the local government units and to the frontline health facilities has increased," she added. —KBK, GMA News

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ALSO FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Armed policemen can now conduct foot patrol in malls by Aaron B. Recuenco September 18, 2016 Share443 Tweet1 Share2 Email0 Share510

After years of prohibition, armed policemen can now go inside malls, especially in Metro Manila, to conduct regular foot patrol.

The ban was lifted after several incidents of bomb threats were reported in Metro Manila and other parts of the country following the Davao City blast that left 15 people dead.

Chief Superintendent Camilo Cascolan, head of the Directorate for Operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the move is a big boost in fully securing malls unlike in the past when policemen are only allowed at the vicinity of the establishment.

“Generally, the PNP can now go inside, in police uniform and with firearms,” said Cascolan.

It was recalled that one of the reasons armed policemen were not allowed inside the malls was the cases of robbery in the past wherein the suspects would pose as policemen.

Aside from uniformed policemen, cops in civilian clothes are also allowed inside to maximize the peace and order duty of the PNP in the malls where people usually converge, especially during paydays.

The focus, Cascolan said, is more on anti-terror wherein intelligence operatives in civilian clothes are conducting a profiling of the people inside.

“Their targets are suspicious people roaming inside the malls. If they would see one, they would immediately approach them and invite them to the security room,” said Cascolan.

But the official said the effort is also against robbery and other crimes, including the notorious attacks of Martilyo Gang members inside malls in the past.

Cascolan said coordination with the security managers of the malls was also strengthened for the proper response of both the police and security guards in any eventuality.

After the Davao City attack, the PNP met with security managers of malls and other business establishments to map out security measures.

Cascolan, however, said that the most important anti-terror measure is the cooperation of the pubic by reporting suspicious packages and persons that they would observe in public places and even in their communities.


PHILSTAR

Sandiganbayan dismisses NBN-ZTE graft case vs Arroyo (philstar.com) | Updated September 16, 2016 - 6:56pm 2 58 googleplus0 0


File photo

MANILA, Philippines -- The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has dismissed graft cases against Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the allegedly anomalous National Broadband Network deal signed while she was president.

The court granted Arroyo's demurrer to evidence, a motion to dismiss a case based on insufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution, saying the prosecution "did not sufficiently prove the guilt of the accused."

Laurence Arroyo, the former president's counsel, told reporters that Arroyo has been "vindicated anew."

He said that Rep. Arroyo "has always kept her faith in the judiciary and our courts have not failed to fearlessly render justice."

He added the granting of the demurrers prove that the cases filed against the former Arroyo were weak.

'Persecution, not prosecution'

In July, the Supreme Court dismissed a graft case against her over her alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. She was released from hospital arrest at the Veterans' Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City on July 21. She had been detained at the VMMC since 2012.

READ MORE...

In June, Arroyo's lawyers asked the anti-graft court to dismiss the case -- the last graft case she is facing -- claiming that prosecutors failed to prove that the contract signed with China's ZTE Corp. in 2007 was grossly disadvantageous to the government for allegedly being overpriced.

Her camp said that Arroyo did not facilitate or fast-track the approval of the project to put up a government communications network since it went through a proper review process by the National Economic and Development Authority.

“This is a clear case of persecution rather than prosecution. The NEDA board unanimously approved the NBN project upon the recommendation of the NEDA Infrastructure staff, NEDA ICC secretariat and NEDA technical board,” Arroyo’s lawyers said in June.

“Yet, the ombudsman maliciously singled out the former president for approving a contract that is supposedly grossly disadvantageous to the government. It is the NEDA board, not the president of the Philippines, which has the power to approve projects such as the NBN project,” they said.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

ZTE graft: GMA, Mike, Abalos cleared By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 17, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


The Sandiganbayan granted the demurrers to evidence filed by the accused seeking the dismissal of the graft cases for lack of evidence and other grounds including the fact that the $329-million contract was actually cancelled and conspiracy was not established. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan has ordered the dismissal of all graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, and former elections chief Benjamin Abalos Sr. in relation to the 2007 ZTE national broadband network anomaly.

Magistrates of the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division junked the criminal charges against them on grounds of the prosecution’s failure to prove its accusations halfway through the trial.

The Sandiganbayan granted the demurrers to evidence filed by the accused seeking the dismissal of the graft cases for lack of evidence and other grounds including the fact that the $329-million contract was actually cancelled and conspiracy was not established.

The ruling noted that “even if this court finds and considers that the NBN-ZTE contract… contains certain provisions that are grossly and manifestly disadvantageous, it should be remembered that the (contract)… was already cancelled by accused (former president Arroyo).”

The court said the evidence presented by the prosecution, considered in its entirety, “did not sufficiently prove the guilt” of the former president.

“We are thankful to the Sandiganbayan for granting our demurrers in the three cases. It’s a well-reasoned decision. I encourage the public to read it,” lead defense counsel Laurence Arroyo said.

“Former president Arroyo has been vindicated anew. She has always kept her faith in the judiciary and our courts have not failed to fearlessly render justice. Our courts have not allowed themselves to be swayed by public opinion or perception. They are bound by evidence and evidence alone,” he added.

The former president’s lawyer noted this is the third time that the courts have granted her demurrer to evidence, citing the Supreme Court’s decision on the plunder case involving alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds and a civil case filed by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).

“The granting of the demurrers shows just how weak the cases filed against her are,” the defense counsel said.

Ferdinand Topacio, Mr. Arroyo’s defense counsel, also expressed gratitude to the decision of the Sandiganbayan on behalf of his client.

Arroyo’s demurrers to evidence were filed on the ground that there is not even a need for the accused to present its defense considering that the prosecution, after completing its presentation of evidence and witnesses, failed to prove its case. –Paolo Romero


INQUIRER

Aquino, Purisima face graft plaint over gasoline smuggling By: Marc Jayson Cayabyab @MJcayabyabINQ INQUIRER.net 06:02 PM September 14th, 2016


MAY 2014 PHOTO -Benigno Aquino (right) with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima at a media forum.

A former customs commissioner on Wednesday filed a graft complaint against former President Benigno Aquino III and his Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima for turning a blind eye on the alleged smuggling of gasoline.

In a joint complaint-affidavit filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, former Bureau of Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales named Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC) as misdeclaring its gas importations since 2004 after it reclassified the gasoline as imports that are not subject to taxes.

“Without any iota of doubt, PSPC’s misdeclarations and refusal to pay the proper excise tax and VAT constitute smuggling penalized under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines,” the complaint read.

Other complainants include Lourdes Aclan, a journalist and publisher of Headlines News Today, and Juan Tan, a former district collector at the Port of Batangas.

The complainants said from 2001 to Feb. 2004, PSPC paid excise tax and value added tax (VAT) for its gas importation which it declared as Catalytic Cracked Gasoline (CCG) and Light Catalytic Cracked Gasoline (LCGG). These imports were classified as unleaded gasoline.

In March 2004, PSPC suddenly changed the declaration of tariff classification from unleaded gasoline to “tetrapropylene,” which is not subject to excise tax and VAT. The PSPC also reclassified the import to mere “blending component.”

“Due to this modification in the declaration, PSPC evaded payment of the taxes for all its shipments of CCG and LCCG from March 2004 to 2009,” the complainants said.

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In 2009, Tan as customs district collector discovered PSPC’s misdeclaration and misclassification of gasoline importations. This compelled Tan to demand from PSPC the payment of P7.348 billion for the unpaid excise tax and VAT from 2004 to 2009.

With the misdeclaration discovered by the customs, complainants said PSPC then changed its declaration to alkylate for blending component and from tetrapropylene to “waste oil,” which are again not subject to tax. The misdeclaration of imports to alkylate cost the government some P1.99 billion in losses at the time.

This misdeclaration of tax was again discovered by Tan, who reported it to then Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez and Purisima in April 2011.

But Alvarez did not take action until he was replaced by then Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon.

In Nov. 2011, Aclan then wrote to Purisima about the refusal of Biazon to demand payment from PSPC for the alkylate shipment.

Aclan also wrote to erstwhile President Aquino in July 2012 complaining about the refusal of Purisima and Biazon to collect payment from PSPC.

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Graft Case Filed by 2 former officials of Bureau of Customs Against Aquino and Purisima Over Shell Tax Controversy

The complainant said Aquino and Purisima were informed of the irregularities but failed to act on the controversy even after the end of the previous administration.

“However even with his authority and power to order Secretary Purisima, Comm. Biazon and Collector Benavidez to act on the matter and demand the payment from PSPC, President Aquino ignored complainant Aclan’s letter with indifference, as the PSPC controversy was left unanswered until he stepped down from office on June 30, 2016,” the complainants said.

“Due to PSPC’s misdeclaration of shipments that evaded payments of the taxes, and the refusal of Sec. Purisima, Comm. Biazon and Coll. Benavidez to demand the payment of excise tax and VAT from PSPC and the indifference of President Aquino on the issue, the government is deprived, as it is continuously being deprived, of the huge amount of money, which would have been collected had they not been remiss in the performance of their official functions,” the complainants added.

All in all, the government lost over P100 billion (inclusive of interest, surcharge and 800 percent penalty), the complainants said.

Since July 2014, the monthly unleaded gasoline shipments misdeclared as alkylate were being released by the Customs free of P55 million in monthly taxes, the complainants said.

The government is losing P55 million monthly accumulating to P1.3 billion as of July 2016, in addition to the still unpaid P1.99 billion taxes on Alkylate imports, as well as the still unpaid P7.348 billion taxes on CCG and LCCG imports.

The complainants said PSPC was spared from paying taxes while other oil companies Chevron and Seaoil were diligent in paying excise taxes and VAT on gas imports.

The complainants said Aquino and Purisima did nothing but allow the PSPC to use the P7.348 billion and P1.99 billion for its own use instead of generating revenue for government.

Complainants alleged that Aquino and Purisima’s failure to act on the alleged smuggling caused undue injury to government and gave unwarranted benefits to PSPC, making them liable for graft or violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The complainants also said Aquino and Purisima should be charged for violating the Tariff and Customs Code for illegal importation, and Republic Act 9851 in relation to Executive Order 226 entitled “Institutionalization of the Doctrine of Command Responsibility.”

The complainants cited Executive Order 226 which holds a government official liable for neglect of duty under command responsibility for failing to exercise control over subordinates even though the superior was well aware of the crimes committed at the time.

“Former President Aquino may be held criminally liable under Section 10 of Republic Act 9851, in relation to EO 226, under the concept of command responsibility, he being the superior exercising direct control and supervision over government officials,” the complainants said.

The complainants said the following PSPC officials should be held liable for violating the Traffic and Customs Code for smuggling: PSPC Chairman and President Edgar Chua, Vice President for Communications Robert Kanapi and Country Tax Manager Nigel Avila.

The complainants said the government officials refused to demand payment from PSPC because they were silenced into submission by a big corporation like Shell.

“The deafening silence of the respondents in their refusal to apply the laws to effect the collection, including the indifference on the smuggling activities of PSPC, create an inexcusable conclusion that they were silenced into submission by the giant corporation,” the complainants said. RAM

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