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Killing PHL’s postal bank

Published in Editorial & Other Articles

On October 9, Malacanang released President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 44, approving Land Bank of the Philippines’ (LBP) acquisition of Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB) and authorizing the PPSB conversion into Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB). The aim of this OFB is to efficiently deliver microfinance and micro-insurance products and services for overseas Filipinos who contribute to the country’s foreign exchange income, currency stability, employment, and overall economic growth through their remittances totalling $29 billion.


At first glance, the order is laudable, coming as it is as a fulfilment of one of the campaign promises of Mr. Duterte for the OFWs who came out solid behind him in the 2016 elections and the promise under the order for OFWs to be represented in the board that will manage the bank. A closer look at the President Duterte’s order, however, would show that the bank is obviously bias to OFWs, thus leaving out the bigger number of workers in the country, those based in the Philippines both in government and the private sector who also contribute to the nation’s economy through their taxes, among others.


What is more saddening is that Mr. Duterte’s order effectively destroyed the Postal Bank which is a historic institution which has been part of the country’s postal system that dates back to the era when the Philippines was a Spanish colony. And this is a big rebuff to the United Nations (UN) which oversees the operations of the postal systems throughout the world, postal banks included, through its highly respected agency called Universal Postal Union (UPU). Obviously, Mr. Duterte and his men are in a huff to impress the OFWs and fulfil a campaign promise rather than protect and strengthen a UN-supervised Philippine postal system and postal banking network, forgetting that the postal bank is among the biggest institutions in Japan and other countries. It will best for the country for Mr. Duterte, the leadership of the Philippine Postal Corporation which owns the Philippine Postal Bank, the Land Bank of the Philippines and Congress to review its order. Do they know that they create an OFW bank without destroying the PPSB by simply converting the PPSB as OFW Bank and increasing its capital to meet the OFWs’ needs? This way, the OFW Bank-Postal Bank could still retain its connections and benefits therefrom with all the postal systems of the world. Don’t be deceived by your eager-beaver aides, Mr. President.

Nadine Lustre admits struggle with depression

Published in Entertainment

(Photo from Instagram | @nadine)


Actress Nadine Lustre is battling depression.


This she admitted after the untimely death of his brother Isaiah in their home in Barangay Talipapa in Quezon City, apparently in a suicide.


The admission came as Nadine requested for privacy in the wake of her younger brother’s reported suicide through her Instagram posts.


It was gathered that Isaiah, 16, was found dead in their home at Barangay Talipapa in Quezon City and police investigators recovered an empty shell of a .38 caliber handgun and later ruled the death as a suicide.


Reporting on Nadine’s posts, Edwin Sallan of wrote Nadine did not initially refer to Isaiah’s death in her first post and, without acknowledging if her brother had suffered from depression, admitted that she herself has been struggling with it for many years.


The first part of the lengthy post enumerated how Nadine copes with her own personal issues.


“It may come as a surprise to you, but I have struggled with depression way back and still am to this day,” Nadine wrote on Instagram.


She continued: “I have days where Im just sitting in the tub, asking myself a lot of questions, confused.. I felt like I was just looking in someone else’s life through a window. Feeling bad cuz I am not enough and everything that I do and will do will never be enough. Its not easy. I have days when I have to put a mask on, smiling, numbing myself from negative emotions, too often I have already mastered the art of hiding it, I bet, you never even noticed it.”


In the second part, Nadine said she’s blessed to have a strong support system of family and friends.


“I’m thankful that Im blessed to have a strong heart and clear mind. Family who will always be my strength. Friends who will always pull me up. Love who will always guide me,” Nadine wrote.


The rest of Nadine’s post made subtle references to Isaiah’s demise as she started to tell her followers that whatever their problems are, suicide is not the answer, reported Edwin Sallan.


Nadine wrote: “[I]f you ever hit rock bottom, dont be ashamed of opening up to your loved ones. if anyone understands and cares about what you’re going through, its them. You are who/what you say you are.If you think you’re weak, you will be weak. If you tell yourself you are not worthy, you will be unworthy. But, if you say you’re strong, you will be strong and If you tell yourself you can do it, you can do anything.The ONLY validation that you will ever need is one from yourself.”


“If you’re HEARTBROKEN, cry it out, okay.. and then STOP. Pick yourself up and dust it off. He/She ain’t the last person on earth.Trust me when I tell you that you will find someone else… meant for you and who will better you.I didn’t believe that before either, but here I am now. DONT EVEN think about hurting yourself or taking your life just because you want the pain and sadness to stop.”


The final part of Nadine’s post seems to hint that she, too, once contemplated on taking her own life.


“ITS OKAY to be sad. ITS OKAY to feel pain. ITS OKAY to be vulnerable. We are made to have emotions. Dont be afraid to let it out. Before you do something you will regret, think about all the great things that you can do in the future, people you will meet and places you travel to, the lives you will touch. I almost did it before and Im so thankful that I didn’t do it, because If I did, I wouldn’t be living the life that I have now. Stay with us because life is beautiful. #KeepGoing ;”


In her second post, Nadine paid tribute to Isaiah and thanked him for “teaching everyone a very important lesson.”


“Im so proud of you. Never knew you had such talent with words. Im happy to have read all of your entries and discover that you have such a beautiful mind. Excited to read your scripts/stories soon.”


“I want to thank you for teaching everyone a very important lesson. Thank you for opening my eyes and making me braver. I know now that whatever challenge I will have to face, I will be able to pull through because of you.”


“Im gonna miss your face and miss hearing your corny jokes. I wish you stayed with us longer. I am keeping my promise and we will still travel the world together. No more crying. Happy Birthday Dude. Joyeux voyage, je t’aime frère”


In this post, Nadine also posted a link to Isaiah’s writings on the online publishing platform, Medium. The link, however, is no longer accessible.


Prior to these two posts, Nadine requested her followers for respect by refraining to post photos and videos of her taken during the funeral. In another post, she warned everyone who has been “judging” her for the past few days that they will always see her up but never down. “Get lost, please,” she ended.


She also assured her followers who have been sharing stories of weakness that she is reading every one of them. “Wait for me…I GOT U.”


The earlier posts were made through Instagram Stories, which can only be viewed for 24 hours.


Nadine Lustre’s father Ulysses, meanwhile, took to Facebook to share his thoughts on depression after the sudden demise of his son Isaiah, who would have turned 17 last  October 13.

 “The loss of a father or a mother is painful, the loss of a son is unbearable. The demons of depression is devouring our youth. I call out to all sons and daughters to please stop hurting yourselves. Your depression is incomparable to us parents when you do,” he wrote.

“Life is beautiful. Please bear that in mind. Happy Birthday, Ice. We love you so much [sic].” Ulysses added.

In another post, he posted his realizations after reading the writings of his late son.

“You got me there, Ice, so much lessons learned. Even I am not free from depression, thru your writings I’m now more bolder to face it head on. I am proud of you Ice. This tragedy will not end unnoticed. A battlecry for fighting depression will be shouted. And there will be awareness [sic],” he stated.

Aga Muhlach returns to the movies

Published in Entertainment



 Yes, Aga Muhlach is back in the movies.


The former matinee idol stars in the Star Cinema movie “Seven Days” with some of the brightest actors of the generation.


And if reports by showbiz columnists were to be the gauge, Aga’s comeback is triumphant as his fans trooped to the cinemas when “Seven Sundays” opened last week in theaters.


For one, Isah Red reported that to this day since its opening, the new Aga movie remains a blockbuster.


According to the columnist, Aga is happy about the turnout as the former matinee idol admitted he had doubts about going back to facing the cameras, what with his struggle with losing the extra pounds.


“Fortunately, the role assigned to him did not require a well-built man or someone with a sculpted physique,” wrote Isah Red.


Aga promised to trim weight further to be able to be physically fit for future movies.


 “No, I won’t stay that way,” he was quoted as saying by Isah Red, referring to the body many fans saw in his comeback movie. “I will be doing other movies and I will have to make myself physical fit for the other roles I’ll be playing," he added.


It was gathered that Star Cinema was doubly happy with Aga Muhlach’s coming back to the movie outfit of ABS-CBN.


The movie was the right project for an actor who has long stayed out of the limelight, according to the producers who said Aga is one of the most iconic leading men of Star Cinema. The last full-length feature that Aga starred in was the romantic drama “In The Name Of Love” opposite Angel Locsin in 2011.


 “In the last years, almost all the film offers were mostly love stories. I wanted to do something different. The concept of a family centered movie greatly appealed to me and I was really very moved when I read the script of Seven Sundays,” said Aga.


Seven Sundays teams Aga up with some of the industry’s finest actors – Dingdong Dantes, Enrique Gil, Cristine Reyes, and Ronaldo Valdez. It is a family dramedy about four estranged siblings – Allan (Muhlach), Bryan (Dantes), Cha (Reyes) and Dex (Enrique Gil) –forced by their dying father, Manuel (Valdez), to revive their Sunday family get-togethers for the remaining months of his life. Now forced to spend time with each other, both comedy and chaos ensue as old family and sibling issues resurface as they all deal with their individual conflicts.


Aga’s Allan, is the eldest and is in constant conflict with Dingdong Dantes’ Bryan, considered as the second eldest in the family. Allan’s struggle is to make his his children and his father to be proud of him always doubting whether the choices makes are right or not.


Seven Sundays is a heartwarming film that reminds every Filipino that although not every family is perfect, one thing is constant – the love and affection that each family member has for each other despite the many differences they have among themselves.


“The movie has the right blend of drama and comedy. The comedic sequences that we filmed were all very natural and nothing is contrived. I guess that’s the reason why these scenes are hilarious. The dramatic scenes on the other hand, will really touch the hearts of moviegoers. This movie teaches us that it’s normal for siblings to fight and have disagreements and that no family is perfect. The important thing is that the love of every family for each other must always, always prevail despite whatever problem they face with one another.”


Seven Sundays also stars Donita Rose, Kean Cipriano, Ketchup Eusebio, April Matienzo, Jeffrey Tam, Kyle Echarri, Kin Billote, Angelica and Angelee Cruz, Gabriel Iribagon, and Alyanna Angeles.


Isah Red also reported that Dingdong Dantes also returns to the silver screen after the successful theatrical run of “The Unmarried Wife” in 2016. 


Enrique Gil, on the other hand, teams up with Cathy Garcia-Molina once again after the mammoth success of My Ex And Whys in February.


Cristine Reyes was last seen on TV as one of the celebrity contestants on “I Can Do That” prior to her last film credit in her unforgettable cameo in the Vice Ganda super blockbuster hit Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy in 2013.


Ronaldo Valdez was last seen in the romantic flick “All You Need Is Pag-ibig” in 2015 and he is finally back in his element in this dramatic-comedy.



Published in Headline

16 hostages rescued, 5 more bodies found; 8 foreign rebels hunted, reconstruction set



(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)


MARAWI CITY — Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, Southeast Asia’s most notorious Islamic State-linked terrorist leader and the so-called “emir” of the IS in the region, and Maute group leader Omar Maute, were killed in an Oct. 16 dawn attack by the military in Marawi City signalling a possible end to the Marawi siege where over 1,000 perished, 162 of them soldiers and policemen and 37 civilians and displaced over 200,000 residents.


Following the killing, President Rodrigo Duterte immediately flew to Marawi City, his seventh visit, and declared that the city has been freed in a speech before government troops   after more than four months of battling the Islamic State-inspired terrorists. Duterte was accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials.


"Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence that marks the beginning of rehabilitation of the city," said Duterte. 


The Philippine flag was raised and soldiers in the strife-torn city cheered “mabuhay” (long live) following the declaration of the liberation of the city.


During the earlier part of Duterte's speech, gunshots could be heard from the background but military officers said this was part of the mopping up operations against the remaining terrorists, at least eight of them were believed to be foreigners from Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.


Joint Task Group Ranao deputy commander Colonel Romeo Brawner said the ongoing operation was also aimed to rescue the remaining hostages of the Maute group.


"This is just a reminder, a declaration na tapos na ang Marawi siege and we can move on forward to the recovery and rehabilitation efforts," Brawner said.


Brawner said that with Duterte's declaration, the joint task force will move to the next phase of clearing the entire city, particularly the battle zone, of the Maute group's bombs and unexploded ordnance. After this, the Department of Health will "sanitize" the city before the actual rehabilitation could start, he added.


He said part of the clearing operation of the government troops is to recover the cadavers within the battle zone.


The military, however, is not discounting the possibility of sympathy attacks of terrorists following the  killing of Omar Maute and  Hapilon.


Immediately, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) raised the level of alert of their men, especially in Davao and other areas in Mindanao, to avert retaliatory attacks by the terrorists.


Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, declared the military is ready to thwart any possible retaliatory attacks, adding that the military actively coordinates with concerned sectors, local government units, and the community in the fight against terrorism.


The United States hailed the operation of the military that killed the two ISIS-linked leaders and vowed to continue working closely with Filipino counterparts to fight extremism and terrorism.


“We congratulate our partners in the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their reported success in killing two of the leaders behind the months-long clash in Marawi: Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute,” said US Embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina.


The Department of National Defense (DND), meanwhile, said martial law would remain in effect in Mindanao.


“No, we are not talking about lifting martial law yet, tingnan pa natin, we are only looking in the immediate aftermath of the killing of these two leaders, we may, sabi ko nga we may be lifting, I mean announcing the cessation of hostilities within this week and then after that we will find out,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.


Lorenzana confirmed the death of the two terrorists at a briefing at the Armed Forces headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo hours after the dawn attack. Malacanang also confirmed the news later in the day.


Lorenzo later in the day flew to Marawi City where he conferred with AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano and the military officers and men behind and held a press briefing for local, regional and international media.


Ang implication nito ay malapit nang matapos ‘yong Marawi incident natin [The implication of this is the Marawi incident will soon end] and we may announce the termination of hostilities in a couple of days,” said Lorenzana.


Lorenzana said the death of Hapilon and Maute signals the end of Marawi conflict but operations may continue to arrest other Maute members and other terrorists in other areas in Mindanao like Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Cotabato. “We will be on guard still,” he said, adding the terrorists can spring counter-attacks.


“We will continue to be vigilant so this (Marawi siege) will not happen again,” he added.


Lorenzana said the government would need P100 billion to fully rehabilitate Marawi City which will take at least three years to complete.


Rehabilitation could begin before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the middle of November, he said.


Rebuilding Marawi City could cost up to $8 billion (P410 billion) and take up to 50 years, according to noted architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr.


But Palafox proposed that instead of rebuilding devastated parts of Marawi, the government should build another city around the former battle zone.


Palafox said he saw first-hand the devastation in Marawi and that it would be better to keep the ruins as a memorial.


He cited the example of Hiroshima, which opted to preserve ground zero of an atomic bombing as a memorial to World War II.


The AFP said eight foreign terrorists are among the remaining band of Maute terrorists in Marawi City.


“Indications have been received that there indeed are six to eight foreign fighters are in the area but whose spirits are very much down and whose willingness to fight is not as high as it was previously,” said Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the AFP spokesman.


Padilla identified one of the foreign terrorists as Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian national who is fighting on the side of the Maute group in the city.


“Dr. Mahmud is an academic he is not a fighter and his experience in fighting is not as extensive as anyone like Hapilon or the Maute brothers Omar in particular and hence his ability to tactically lead the fight is not there essentially and so we don’t see this as a problem. That’s why even if we do say that he is still there this is not a hundred percent guaranteed because we still have to find clear evidence that will indicate their presence in the area,” Padilla said.


Padilla, however, said the military has yet to confirm whether Ahmad is still within the main battle area in Marawi.


US Special Forces have been assisting the AFP end the siege by providing technical assistance and enemy surveillance to Filipino troops battling the militants in Marawi.


“The US is proud to support the AFP’s counterterrorism efforts in Mindanao through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and other technical assistance,” said the US Embassy’s Molly Koscina.


Philippines-US counter-terrorism cooperation over the years has successfully led to the killing of key local terrorists in Mindanao.


“The US-Philippine alliance is built on a 70-year history. We will continue working with our Filipino friends, partners and allies to eradicate violent extremism and terrorism‎,” Kosina said.


President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 on May 23 declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. This was a result of the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City.


Lorenzana said the military is prepared for possible retaliation of Maute remnants. “We are prepared, our troops are prepared, alam naman natin that it is the modus operandi of the enemy to make, to create diversion dito, diversion dyan, retaliation din, so our troops are prepared,” he said.


Malacañang had announced a P5 million bounty for the "neutralization" of each of the Maute brothers, and P10 million for Hapilon.


A separate $5 million bounty was also offered by US for the arrest of Hapilon.


Seventeen hostages, including a five-year-old child, were rescued during the earlyMonday morning military offensive where Hapilon and Maute were killed.


Lorenzana said the whereabouts of Hapilon and Maute, who were holed up in a building in Marawi City, were revealed by a female hostage who had escaped.


"They were able to get a testimony from a hostage who was able to escape. She was able to confirm the presence of Isnilon and Maute in that particular building. That's the building that we assaulted this morning. They are confirmed dead," Lorenzana said


Another leader, Abdullah Maute, was reported by the Philippine Army to have been killed in August, though no body was found to prove his death.


In June, the brothers' parents- father Cayamora and mother Farhana- were arrested in separate police operations. Cayamora died in August.


The military has several times reported the possible deaths of the leaders, their escape, or presence in the Marawi battle zone, but has not had solid proof.


The clashes have killed 813 rebels, 47 civilians and 162 military since insurgents seized the heart of Marawi on May 23, according to the Philippine government.


The siege has reduced the once-bustling city of Marawi into ruins, with many buildings and even mosques completely destroyed and riddled with bullets and shrapnel.

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