EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full Commentary below)

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL: INVESTING IN CHAMPIONS


The Philippine Sports Commission may have an explanation for the Commission on Audit report questioning the utilization of over P626.5 million for government sports facilities in 2013. But it’s not the first time that the work of the PSC has been questioned. It may be unfair, but the PSC has also been largely blamed for the nation’s lackluster performance in regional and international sports competitions.
Filipinos are not lacking in enthusiasm for sports. We cheer lustily for any compatriot – including those transplanted to other countries – who excel in amateur athletic competitions and professional sports. So it is dismaying that Filipino athletes have performed badly in recent years in international events. Never mind the Olympics, wherein the best that the country has achieved has been silver; more frustrating is that the Philippine team has also been trounced by neighbors in the Southeast Asian Games. READ MORE...

ALSO: And da winnah is da Nevada Mafia!


By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
AS the Supreme Court would have declared: It’s final and executory! Mayweather beat Pacquiao on points, outrunning him in 12 rounds while collecting some $5 million for every minute of the chase around the ring at MGM Grand last Sunday. So, folks, let’s move on. We fans of Manny Pacquiao better swallow the bitter defeat. Even the Bible-toting congressman from his wife’s district of Sarangani is not about to mouth the standard politician’s excuse that he did not lose but was just cheated. Yet in an unguarded moment after the fight, Pacquiao mused: “But I thought I was ahead.”  So did millions of others think after witnessing on live TV a fast and furious Pacman landing snappy blows whenever he cornered his quarry. (Next time around, Pacquiao’s lawyers should buy a TRO to restrain flight-risk Floyd from escaping.) READ  MORE...

ALSO: Modernizing AFP, PNP under the mercy of 'SAF'


By Marichu A. Villanueva
Every budget year, our police and military officials practically have to beg Congress for funds to modernize their weaponry and equipment. And yet, there is a law mandating modernization of the military. Sadly, the ongoing modernization for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and soon for the Philippine National Police (PNP) is always under the mercy of SAF, or Subject to Availability of Funds. I learned about this other “meaning” of SAF from former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan when we had him as guest in Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Luneta Hotel a few weeks ago. We discussed the Mamasapano incident where 44 troopers from the PNP’s elite Special Action Force, or SAF for short, were killed. In the botched Oplan Exodus, a huge number of high-powered firearms and newly issued Glock handguns, night-vision goggles, bullet-proof vests and other modern equipment of the 44 fallen SAF were taken away in the raid. The Muslim rebels have returned only a few of these firearms and equipment to the PNP, some of them with missing parts. Many more SAF weaponry and equipment have remained unaccounted for up to now. Losing these government-issued weapons, firearms and other equipment during battles and offensive operations like the SAF’s Mamasapano raid, however, is part of the normal losses in the accounting and inventory of arsenal in both the PNP and the AFP. But still these losses cost taxpayers’ money funding the police and military modernization. In the case of the PNP, our police establishment depends solely on national government budget and allocations from local government units (LGUs). That is why retired police-generals turned congressmen such as ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil and Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop filed the proposed PNP Modernization bill now pending before the 16th Congress. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘I will act independently’ — new Comelec chief


By Carmen N. Pedrosa
It’s great to hear from Andres Bautista, the new Comelec chief. In a telephone interview with this column, Bautista assured me that as head of a constitutional body he will “be independent and protect the public interest.” He will not be beholden to politicians or partisans out to destroy elections as the bulwark of a democratic society. We both sat as commissioners in the 2005 Constitutional Commission. Although we differ on political issues, I am hopeful that “Andy” as his close friends call him, will live up to that promise. For the moment, he is looking at the possibility of a “mixed election system” in which voting is manual but the counting will be automated. He is talking to both pros and cons of the process. The fact he is looking at a mixed system is a tacit admission the present automated system has flaws. I told him how brave he was to have taken on the job and he said “it is a challenge.” He will do the best he can to meet the challenge. At this point we can only wish him well. It is a tall order for a good man to wrestle with goons in a house of thieves. But you never know until his capacity and courage have been tested. * * * I have been reading through some of the discussion on automated voting, also known as e-voting. Most of those giving opinions are either computer experts or at least computer-literate. You need specialist knowledge to understand what is being discussed. And that goes for 90 percent or even less of those who will vote. READ MORE...

ALSO: P-Noy in Chicago


By Ernesto M. Maceda  President Aquino delivered a 40-minute speech before 600 Filipinos at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Chicago, apprising the audience on what his administration has achieved in its poverty alleviation campaign, anti-corruption drive, bid for inclusive growth, and what he intends to do until his last term. P-Noy assured Filipinos in Chicago that the government would continue its programs of good governance despite having to deal with constant attacks from critics who put the blame on him on every issue. Critics have raised valid questions on the high poverty and unemployment rate, resulting in a lack of inclusive growth. Critics also pointed out the lack of jobs in the country causing millions of Filipinos to seek jobs abroad. About 5,000 Filipinos leave daily for jobs abroad. The issue of high incidence of criminality has also been brought up with 11 kidnappings in Sulu alone the past several months. Brownouts happen regularly in Mindanao, even as electricity rates continue to increase. In response, Aquino cited the improvements in the Philippine economy under his administration, namely the country’s investment grade status, from 33 to 49; the gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.3 percent from 2010 to 2014 (the fastest growth in the last 40 years); the national unemployment rate decreased to 6 percent in October 2014; foreign investments shot up to $6.2 billion in 2014, a 479 percent increase, from $1.07 billion in 2010; the Transparency International Corruption Index (TICI) ranked the Philippines to 85th place, from 130th place in 2010; a bigger allocation of funds to agencies, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DOE), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), who are involved in the delivery of social services. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL:  Investing in champions

MANILA, MAY 11, 2015 (PHILSTAR) Updated May 5, 2015 - The Philippine Sports Commission may have an explanation for the Commission on Audit report questioning the utilization of over P626.5 million for government sports facilities in 2013.

But it’s not the first time that the work of the PSC has been questioned. It may be unfair, but the PSC has also been largely blamed for the nation’s lackluster performance in regional and international sports competitions.

Filipinos are not lacking in enthusiasm for sports. We cheer lustily for any compatriot – including those transplanted to other countries – who excel in amateur athletic competitions and professional sports.

So it is dismaying that Filipino athletes have performed badly in recent years in international events. Never mind the Olympics, wherein the best that the country has achieved has been silver; more frustrating is that the Philippine team has also been trounced by neighbors in the Southeast Asian Games.

READ MORE...
Several Filipino athletes who returned home from defeat have pointed out the difficulty of rising to the top of their game with limited personal resources and government support. First-rate trainers and coaches are expensive.

Rigorous training often calls for long absences from school or work. For strength, speed and endurance, athletes need proper nutrition and health care, which can be costly for amateur athletes from low-income families.

The country has made a name in professional boxing, and medals won by Filipinos in the Olympics have mostly been for this sport. But even amateur boxers need a lot of support, especially since many of them, like Manny Pacquiao, come from poor households. Pacquiao rose to the top mainly through his own effort, personal earnings and support from the private sector.

Congress can do its part by passing legislation to boost sports development. Bills have been filed to promote athletes’ welfare; action on these measures can be speeded up.

Other countries understand the impact on national pride of winning in sports, and invest heavily in athletic development. If the Philippines wants to produce world champions, it should be prepared to make the necessary investment.

With its limited resources, it must also make sure that every centavo allocated for sports development is used judiciously.


And da winnah is da Nevada Mafia! POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 5, 2015 - 12:00am


By Federico D. Pascual Jr.

AS the Supreme Court would have declared: It’s final and executory! Mayweather beat Pacquiao on points, outrunning him in 12 rounds while collecting some $5 million for every minute of the chase around the ring at MGM Grand last Sunday.

So, folks, let’s move on. We fans of Manny Pacquiao better swallow the bitter defeat. Even the Bible-toting congressman from his wife’s district of Sarangani is not about to mouth the standard politician’s excuse that he did not lose but was just cheated.

Yet in an unguarded moment after the fight, Pacquiao mused: “But I thought I was ahead.”

So did millions of others think after witnessing on live TV a fast and furious Pacman landing snappy blows whenever he cornered his quarry. (Next time around, Pacquiao’s lawyers should buy a TRO to restrain flight-risk Floyd from escaping.)

READ MORE...
There was no sight more pathetic than a multi-division champion, one ear cocked to the bell, being chased around a square patch of canvas by a smaller guy. Now we know why they have strung strong ropes around the boxing ring.

To be more honest (impossible in Las Vegas) the judges’ scorecards should have been shredded, burned and flushed down the toilet – and this unvarnished verdict announced: “And da winnah is… da Nevada mafia!”

SONA item up: Usman killed

CONGRATULATIONS to the authorities for killing somebody whose face looks “similiar” (sic) to that of the terrorist-bomber Basit Usman, who had escaped in the Jan. 25 operations that got bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in his hideout in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

But they should rush the corpse’s DNA identification before the valedictory State of the Nation Address of President Noynoy Aquino on July 27. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s forensic experts should be able to help again.

Also, if they do not mind unsolicited advice, the administration should stop stressing that (1) the Moro Islamic Liberation Front helped track down Usman and (2) there was close coordination this time between the military and the police.

Be careful not to push things from the obvious to the odious.

Noy can’t see BBL red flags?

TALKING of the SONA deadline for picking more fruits hanging from the tree, many concerned Filipinos are hoping the contentious Bangsamoro Basic Law is not one of them.

Approval of the BBL, which will serve as the Constitution of the Bangsamoro (a nascent Moro nation), will set in motion an irreversible chain of historical events that could see the dismembering of the Republic.

It is frightening that President Aquino seems bent to leave the spinning off of a separate Moro nation as his most momentous legacy.

As often suggested in this space, the President should study the substance of the working documents, including the annexes, and examine the legal implications of the terminology used.

This is no longer a purely internal matter, but has become an international issue. It is important that we, especially Malacañang, know the BBL’s implications under in

Leave BBL fate to next admin

EVERYBODY, except those who enjoy deluding themselves, knows the BBL as drafted is not the best formula for peace in Mindanao. Doing a rush cleansing job in the Congress will not save it.

What then is the best formula? That, we submit, should be left to the next administration(s) to determine without having to rush.

President Aquino should not be scared by the MILF threat to remove the mask hiding their true revolutionary face if the BBL is not approved or is passed without its provisions laying the basis for a separate political entity.

If the Congress kills the BBL or cleanses it of its separatists intent, or if it is thrown out by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, President Aquino can always tell his MILF and Malaysian friends, “Look, I tried.” He might add: “I’m tired.”

Ortiz shares notes on Moros

HERE are notes culled from a presentation by Dr. Alan T. Ortiz at the Finex-MAP forum on the BBL last April 29.

Ortiz, a scholar and business executive, among many other things, noted that the Bangsamoro does not exist – yet. He said: “This is an aspiration, not yet a reality, since Filipino Muslims are divided by a common religion.”

Tracing the term, he said: “Bangsamoro was first used in a March 1935 letter of 120 Lanao datus to Franklin Delano Roosevelt asking for Bangsamoro statehood instead of Filipino citizenship. Next mention was in the 1968 manifesto of the Moro National Liberation Front on Bangsamoro statehood, signaling the start of hostilities in Mindanao.

“There is no mention of Bangsamoro in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement nor in the law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The term emerges again only in the ill-fated and unconstitutional 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain under then President Gloria Arroyo.”

US, UK acted to split sultanate

THE UNRESOLVED Philippine claim on Sabah (North Borneo) complicates the BBL question.

Ortiz said: “Sabah never belonged to the Republic of the Philippines and the only formal claim was filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs with the United Kingdom’s foreign office on June 22, 1962.

“The 1878 ‘pajak’ dating back to 1878 is a rental payment to the Sulu-based Sultanate by Overbeck/Dent, who had ceded their rights to the British North Borneo Company.

“Later the United States and the British colonial governments connived to dismantle the powerful Sultanate – with Sulu and Tawi-Tawi attached to Philippine archipelago and Sabah retained as part of North Borneo.

“The Washington Convention of 1930 formalized this division as a prelude to the launching of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935.

“The death of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II in 1936 gave Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon an opportunity to end the ‘legal and administrative existence of the Sultanate of Sulu’ under the principle that no two sovereigns can coexist in one nation-state.”


Modernizing AFP, PNP under the mercy of SAF  COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 8, 2015 - 12:00am


By Marichu A. Villanueva

Every budget year, our police and military officials practically have to beg Congress for funds to modernize their weaponry and equipment. And yet, there is a law mandating modernization of the military.

Sadly, the ongoing modernization for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and soon for the Philippine National Police (PNP) is always under the mercy of SAF, or Subject to Availability of Funds.

I learned about this other “meaning” of SAF from former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan when we had him as guest in Kapihan sa Manila Bay at Luneta Hotel a few weeks ago. We discussed the Mamasapano incident where 44 troopers from the PNP’s elite Special Action Force, or SAF for short, were killed.

In the botched Oplan Exodus, a huge number of high-powered firearms and newly issued Glock handguns, night-vision goggles, bullet-proof vests and other modern equipment of the 44 fallen SAF were taken away in the raid. The Muslim rebels have returned only a few of these firearms and equipment to the PNP, some of them with missing parts. Many more SAF weaponry and equipment have remained unaccounted for up to now.

Losing these government-issued weapons, firearms and other equipment during battles and offensive operations like the SAF’s Mamasapano raid, however, is part of the normal losses in the accounting and inventory of arsenal in both the PNP and the AFP. But still these losses cost taxpayers’ money funding the police and military modernization.

In the case of the PNP, our police establishment depends solely on national government budget and allocations from local government units (LGUs). That is why retired police-generals turned congressmen such as ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil and Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop filed the proposed PNP Modernization bill now pending before the 16th Congress.

READ MORE...
At least for the AFP, they have real estate properties where various military camps are located across the country. Under the AFP Modernization Law, several of these military camps were disposed of to finance partly its modernization program through these years. This was precisely the subject matter of the Senate public hearing last Wednesday.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee was supposed to hold a public hearing on alleged irregularities in the acquisition of secondhand 50-year-old helicopters that were purchased under the AFP Modernization Law. The probe was sought on the instance of opposition Senators Jinggoy Estrada and his half-brother JV Ejercito.

Ejercito earlier filed a resolution calling for the Senate inquiry to get to the bottom of the AFP’s purchase of “antiquated” UH-1D choppers from an allegedly favored bidder. The P1.25-billion contract was awarded to the joint venture of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd. in December 2013.

However, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP chief of staff Gen. Pio Catapang invoked national security interest to argue against a public hearing on the military’s defense capability matters. Upon their urgent request, administration ally Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Blue Ribbon chairman, decided to hold instead an executive session, or behind closed doors and no media coverage allowed.

Interviewed after the closed-door Senate hearing, Defense assistant secretary Patrick Velez told reporters the AFP justified the questioned procurement, citing they had no choice but to purchase secondhand helicopters because of the “huge capability gap” in the military.

According to Velez, the AFP spent only up to P58 million for each refurbished chopper, while a new one would have cost them P800 million. Velez disclosed to Senate reporters eight of 21 helicopters have been delivered and the AFP is now using them. However, he said, the purchase order for the rest of the choppers was terminated after the suppliers were not able to deliver on time.

But both Gazmin and Catapang were surprisingly more articulate and vocal in their staunch request for the 16th Congress to provide more funds to the AFP modernization program when they appeared in another Senate hearing held yesterday. It was a full-blown public hearing that looked into what the Defense Department and the AFP have been doing so far amid the reported reclamation and dredging activities of China in disputed territories of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Senate committee on national defense and security chaired by another administration ally Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV led the inquiry into the issue based on the resolution that he filed last month. A separate resolution was also filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago calling for an inquiry into the activities of China.

While Gazmin and Catapang requested for an executive session so as not to publicize details of the military’s capability, they, however, freely chorused about the need for Congress to provide bigger budgetary support to AFP. They ask for more taxpayers’ money to enable them buy more modern ships and planes to help boost the military’s territorial defense capability.

At one point of the Senate hearing, Guingona asked a rather stupid question: “Can the military be relieved of disaster duties?” To his credit, Catapang made a wise reply: “We welcome that arrangement but we are the muscle of Office of Civil Defense.” This is precisely the reason why the Defense Department co-chairs the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, your Honors.

During the Senate hearing, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia cited South China Sea territorial dispute is the single, biggest national security concern of the Philippines. But who does not know about it?

Garcia echoed the calls made by Gazmin and Catapang on the need for the government to invest at least P26 billion a year to meet our country’s defense requirements. They estimated this amount as enough to modernize the AFP to continuously upgrade the military’s territorial defense capability.

But when opposition senators question how they have been spending previously allocated budget for AFP modernization, our defense and military officials invoke national interest to cover up the corruption trail that may go all the way up to approving authorities.

Even if modernizing AFP and PNP is under the mercy of SAF – corruption could still find its way.


‘I will act independently’ — new Comelec chief FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 9, 2015 - 12:00am


 By Carmen N. Pedrosa

It’s great to hear from Andres Bautista, the new Comelec chief. In a telephone interview with this column, Bautista assured me that as head of a constitutional body he will “be independent and protect the public interest.” He will not be beholden to politicians or partisans out to destroy elections as the bulwark of a democratic society. We both sat as commissioners in the 2005 Constitutional Commission.

Although we differ on political issues, I am hopeful that “Andy” as his close friends call him, will live up to that promise. For the moment, he is looking at the possibility of a “mixed election system” in which voting is manual but the counting will be automated. He is talking to both pros and cons of the process. The fact he is looking at a mixed system is a tacit admission the present automated system has flaws.

I told him how brave he was to have taken on the job and he said “it is a challenge.” He will do the best he can to meet the challenge. At this point we can only wish him well. It is a tall order for a good man to wrestle with goons in a house of thieves. But you never know until his capacity and courage have been tested.

* * *

I have been reading through some of the discussion on automated voting, also known as e-voting. Most of those giving opinions are either computer experts or at least computer-literate. You need specialist knowledge to understand what is being discussed. And that goes for 90 percent or even less of those who will vote.

READ MORE...
According to Gus Lagman, a computer expert who used to sit on the Comelec board, “the software is ready but we need to try it out even in a student council election. I am asking the developers to enhance it with a new functionality that will make it more ‘marketable.’ I’ll announce it when the software is ready.”

Now how many in the electorate will understand even that simple announcement. I believe not many.

No wonder, even with the Supreme Court TRO on Smartmatic, its president Cesar Flores remains cocky. He was quoted in a report as saying “no other bidders can participate in the bidding for an additional 23,000 machines except them.”

He claims Comelec already bought 80,000 machines. Any additional machines would have to rely on Smartmatic for parts over which they have exclusive rights.

There are many questions on the 2010 and 2013 elections that beg to be answered before moving on to 2016 with new machines or process.

These questions have to be answered. The way it seems, as another computer expert said, elections have become about buying machines. This is how a company like Smartmatic has taken over our country. They did not have to use guns or bombs. They just took over elections with machines and decide who should rule the country.

We are at war for our independence and the enemy is Smartmatic machines and its unverified source code.

Whichever way the discussion on mixed elections will go, the issue remains the same. The insistence of Comelec and ultimately, the Aquino government, to use Smartmatic machines for the elections in 2016 is a political one. It is to make sure that candidates who pay big money will win the elections by hook or by crook.

Just because it is automated does not mean it reflects the votes of the citizenry. It only reflects the hidden agenda of candidates who pay to win. I think this is a good example of the truism that machines are mere instruments of the human mind.

* * *

To me, the best decision on automated elections came from the Federal Court of Germany: “There is a contradiction between machines programmed in secret and the public nature of elections.”

It is not easy for voters to understand computer gobbledygook. That’s what makes them easy prey to those pushing for fraudulent machine elections. In all my articles on Smartmatic PCOS, and there have been many since it was first used in 2010, I have tried to translate the technical problems in simple terms: For a vote to be completed, whether manual or automated, there are two acts, one is the vote itself and the second is how it is counted. If the vote was separated from the counting process, we did not vote.

That is what happened in May 2010. Worse, all the way through which we could prove this separation took place was closed to us until Smartmatic sued Dominion in Delaware, the real owner of the software of the automated elections.

If 2016 will be different from 2010 and 2013 it will come from sanctions of the Aquino government and the integrity of the new Comelec chief. This is the hard job Bautista is taking on.

* * *

Bayanko adviser Jose Alejandrino, who taught his children to be achievers, told me this story:

Rhea started out as a mere clerk in Cebu Pacific after graduating from De La Salle University, College of St. Benilde, in Business Management. In 2014, at the age of 36, she was appointed vice-president for human resources of Asia’s No. 3 low-budget airline.

Rina joined Cebu Pacific in 2012 after working for Johnson & Johnson. She is now the assistant to the vice-president for commercial planning.

Tiffany, the youngest, started out as a receptionist and in less than six months rose to become the front office manager of the Hotel Cranley in London. She graduated from Les Roches Swiss Hotel Management School in Business Administration.

She trained at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts in Barcelona where she streamlined its work manual that showed her organizational skills. Simon Cooper, then the president of Ritz-Carlton, wrote a personal letter to thank her.

From London, she applied for a job at the luxury 419-room Hyatt Regency in Dubai. Fortune magazine listed Hyatt in 2014 as the 95th best US company to work for.

Hyatt hired Tiffany and in less than 4 months after she was hired and less than 2 months after the hotel opened, promoted her at the age of 25 to the position of team leader that many of her bosses took years to attain. Hyatt broke its promotion policy to keep Tiffany who has received many commendations, including a written offer from Herve Hummler, the current president and chief operating officer of Ritz-Carlton.

Alejandrino hopes his daughters will be an inspiration to young Filipinos. He said, “I was the youngest executive in the UN at the age of 32, but my daughters are doing better than me. Honesty, hard work, God will do the rest.”


P-Noy in Chicago SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 9, 2015 - 12:00am


By Ernesto M. Maceda

President Aquino delivered a 40-minute speech before 600 Filipinos at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Chicago, apprising the audience on what his administration has achieved in its poverty alleviation campaign, anti-corruption drive, bid for inclusive growth, and what he intends to do until his last term.

P-Noy assured Filipinos in Chicago that the government would continue its programs of good governance despite having to deal with constant attacks from critics who put the blame on him on every issue.

Critics have raised valid questions on the high poverty and unemployment rate, resulting in a lack of inclusive growth.

Critics also pointed out the lack of jobs in the country causing millions of Filipinos to seek jobs abroad. About 5,000 Filipinos leave daily for jobs abroad.

The issue of high incidence of criminality has also been brought up with 11 kidnappings in Sulu alone the past several months.

Brownouts happen regularly in Mindanao, even as electricity rates continue to increase.

In response, Aquino cited the improvements in the Philippine economy under his administration, namely the country’s investment grade status, from 33 to 49; the gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.3 percent from 2010 to 2014 (the fastest growth in the last 40 years); the national unemployment rate decreased to 6 percent in October 2014; foreign investments shot up to $6.2 billion in 2014, a 479 percent increase, from $1.07 billion in 2010; the Transparency International Corruption Index (TICI) ranked the Philippines to 85th place, from 130th place in 2010; a bigger allocation of funds to agencies, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DOE), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), who are involved in the delivery of social services.

READ MORE...
President Aquino claimed that the Philippines, under his watch, has been transformed into the “Darling of Asia,” from “Sick Man of Asia” tag.

He urged the audience to support his administration’s candidate in the 2016 elections to ensure the continuation of the country’s “transformation.”

Mayweather, Pacquiao face lawsuits

The Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. ring fight is over, but the action in court is finally getting started, following the so-called “Fight of the Century” and Pacquiao’s revelation regarding his injured right shoulder.

At least five class-action lawsuits have been filed in federal court against Mayweather and Pacquiao in Nevada, Illinois, California and Texas.

The two boxers were accused of deception to sell the bout.

Two men in Nevada filed $5 million lawsuits, accusing Pacquiao of violating Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Pacquiao and Top Rank promotions, told the LA Times he was confident the lawsuits would be dismissed.

The complainants, who spent money to watch the fight or bet on it, said they felt defrauded by Pacquio’s failure to disclose his shoulder injury.

Nevada boxing officials are considering disciplinary action against Pacquiao for not disclosing the injury in a form the day before the fight.

Pacquiao said he suffered the injury during the fourth round of the fight. He was able to complete the 12 rounds. He even won four rounds, according to two judges.

Pacquiao underwent a one- and a half-hour surgery on his injured right shoulder. Fred Sternburg, his spokesman, quoted Pacquiao’s surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, saying the surgery was successful and Pacquiao will make a full recovery in about six months.

He is scheduled to fly back to the Philippines on May 12.

7 soldiers killed, 8 wounded in two clashes

Three army soldiers, Private First Class Callano, Kilangit and Manampan under the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, were killed while one was wounded following a landmine blast by heavily-armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Arakan town in North Cotabato.

Four soldiers, under the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion, were killed while seven were wounded in a 45-minute clash with 50 NPA rebels in Calinan District in Davao City.

Meanwhile, six armed men abducted two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel, SN1 Rod Pagaling and SN2 Gringo Villaruz; and Roberto Bulagao, a barangay chairman of Barangay Aliguay in Dapitan City.

Nonong Garcia, a mining firm executive, who was abducted in Tawi-Tawi was brought to a remote barangay in Sulu, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), according to a high-ranking official of Naval Forces Western Mindanao.

Bautista’s appointment welcomed

Dean Andres Bautista’s appointment as Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman has received wide acceptance. Even Vice-President Jejomar Binay welcomed Bautista’s appointment.

Bautista has served as Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman without any criticism for incompetence or dishonesty. He is not a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party (LP).

President Aquino should be commended for an excellent appointment.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has questioned the appointment of Rowena Guanzon as Comelec commissioner.

Tidbits

President Aquino has only one year and one month left in office.

More than 200 cases of smuggling have been filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ), but up to now, no one has been convicted yet.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFPP) announced it needs 1,200 more firemen.

Following an “ash explosion” that lasted for more than three minutes, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert level of Mount Bulasan, an active volcano in Sorsogon, from 0 to Alert Level 1. The public is warned to stay away from the four-kilometer permanent danger zone around the Bulusan Volcano.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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