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Thelma Cruz

Thelma Cruz

Duterte orders Cabinet: No corruption

Published in Latest News

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PASAY CITY (via PhilAmPress) ― President-elect Rodrigo Duterte met his would-be Cabinet members for the second time on June 16 this time at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City and renewed his marching order to them - "No corruption or be held accountable."


Two weeks before assuming office, Duterte and the Cabinet met map out plans for their administration which begins on June 30 after the oath-taking in Malacanang.


Duterte will take his oath of office before Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes.


Reyes received his Bachelor of Laws Degree at San Beda College, where the long-time mayor of Davao City also took his law degree.


Reyes and Duterte are both members of the Lex Talionis Fraternity. Duterte founded the fraternity's Davao chapter.


Reyes was appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2000. He left the CA in 2011 after he was appointed SC Associate Justice by President Benigno Aquino III.


Duterte will have a "simple" inauguration at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang on June 30 "consistent with his principles on austerity," said Christopher Go, presidential executive assistant and head of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).


Incoming Palace communications secretary Martin Andanar said simple food will be served to Duterte's guests, such as "maruya" and buko juice.


Vice President-elect Leni Robredo will have a separate inauguration as the Rizal Hall cannot accommodate both Duterte's guests and Robredo's.


Duterte's Cabinet members are also not entitled to bring their spouses, children and other guests since the space is limited to only 500 people.


This will mark the first time in recent years that the country's two highest elected officials will be inaugurated separately.


During their meeting, Duterte assured his Cabinet members he will not interfere with their job, and will give them a free hand to select their people to work with.


Duterte, however, stressed he is holding the Cabinet secretaries answerable when things go wrong in their respective offices or if their chosen officials become involved in illegal activities.


"Sabi niya there should be no corruption. Nobody from my family will interfere with your work. You'll have a free hand on the people you choose, but you are answerable to me for your misdeeds and for the people you have chosen," said incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol at a press briefing after the meeting.


"The president would relieve the entire department sa city hall pag may isang nagkamali. I think that's still the same mindset. Nobody is indispensable. Walang holy cow dito," Pinol added.


He told reporters that despite the stern warning, the second Cabinet meeting was "upbeat" as they were able to tackle several issues.


 Piñol said the Cabinet meeting at the PICC was their second meeting on a bigger scale in terms of number wherein many issues were discussed. Their first meeting was held at the Department of Public Works and Highways office in Davao City a few days ago.


Piñol, a former governor of North Cotabato, journalist and sportscaster and promoter, said no corruption was the general instruction of Duterte. “We are held accountable – he was clear that there should be no corruption. There is no indispensable,” he added.


"This is in keeping with the centerpiece of the Duterte pledge during the campaign to stopg corruption, crimes and illegal drugs," Pinol said at a press briefing after the meeting.


Among all issues, Duterte took special concern on the implementation of the K-12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd), he said.


Piñol said Duterte was worried of the impact of K-12 program. Even in previous interviews, Duterte was concerned of the problems from the aberration created because of K-12.


He said there are many students that could run to hundreds who cannot enroll in the senior high school and the teachers who will be displaced from their jobs.


"It would appear he is really concerned sa K-12, sa availability and affordability of food, Metro Manila traffic, security and how much money is there to fulfill it," Piñol said.


Duterte, who was "in a light but serious mood," asked incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones to explain why the government needs to push for the K-12 education system.


"Sabi niya (Briones), it's too late in the day to shift gears because there is a law. Kapag binago ang K-12, the leadership would violate the law," Piñol said.


"She (Briones) is open to improvement and modification (of the K-12), but steadfast in her post that there is no way we can amend that," he said.


In the meeting, incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade presented proposals to address the traffic problem, one of which is to get rid the streets of Metro Manila of "colorum" vehicles.


Piñol said an emergency power for Duterte to address traffic was briefly discussed but this was referred to newly-named Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to study.

Panelo was also directed to look into plans to release billions of pesos in coconut levy fund to coconut farmers.


In 2014, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) implemented a massive crackdown of colorum vehicles even imposing stiffer fines on vehicles and public utility vehicles operating without the necessary franchise from government regulatory agencies.


Violators will have to pay fines ranging from P6,000 for illegal motorcycles to as high as P1 million for buses operating illegally. The higher fines were stipulated in the joint administrative order (JAO). Colorum vehicles will also be impounded for a minimum of three months.


Other Cabinet members who attended the meeting were Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, spokesperson Salvador Panelo, incoming Secretaries Judy Taguiwalo (Social Welfare), Benjamin Diokno (Budget), Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and incoming police chief Chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa.

Those who did not attend included incoming peace adviser Jesus Dureza and next labor chief Silvestre Bello III, who were both in Norway for the initial talks with Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison and his group.

Overall, Piñol said the meeting went well with Duterte steadfast in bringing change in the country.


(Photo from ABS-CBN)


Remember Assunta De Rossi?


At the peak of her career playing lead roles in movies like “Sisid”, “Hubog” (for which she won a couple of best actress awards in 2001), “Red Diaries” and “Kilabot at Kembot,” she suddenly decided to marry widower congressman Jules Ledesma of Negros in 2002.


Jules has two kids from his first marriage, now both grownups, but he and Assunta have yet to have their own baby, according to columnist Mario Bautista.


Now, the couple wants to have their baby. “Goal naming magka-baby this year,” the columnist quoted Assunta as saying.


The comely actress added: “My OB-gyne assured me puwede pa akong magka-baby. May kailangan lang ayusin sa’kin, physically. 35 na ako, e.”


Assunta actually need not work anymore as her husband is quite well off. But Assunta has not really stopped acting since she got married, the columnist reported.


 “Acting is my passion at nami-miss ko talaga kapag wala akong ginagawa. It also helps keep my sanity kasi love ko talaga ito. Kung nakatengga lang ako sa bahay, naku, maloloka ako. So 'yung talent fee, hindi 'yun ang primary consideration ko, although it helps that kumikita pa rin ako on my own,” she told the columnist.


She now plays mother roles and will be the mom of Louise de los Reyes in GMA7’s new soap, “Magkaibang Mundo”, to be shown right after “Eat Bulaga”.


“Bale comeback ko ito sa GMA. Dito ko talaga nagsimula sa sitcom na ‘Beh Bote Nga’ more than 16 years ago. Then puro sa ABS-CBN na ang ginawa ko, like ‘Vietnam Rose’, ‘Lovers in Paris’, ‘Mula sa Puso’, ‘Maria del Barrio’, ‘Kahit Puso’y Masugatan’ and several episodes of MMK. Early this year, kinuha ako na GMA to do an episode in ‘Karelasyon’ and now, heto, soap na. Freelancer naman ako so okay lang gumawa sa GMA,. ” she was quoted by the columnist as saying.


She said she likes her role as Amanda, the wife of Gabby Eigenmann. “Yung sister ni Gabby, played by Gina Alajar, kinamkam 'yung properties namin. Pinatay si Gabby and pinabilanggo ako, then ginawa katulong 'yung anak namin, si Louise nga. It’s a nice show at full length ang role ko so I’m proud to be a part of ‘Magkaibang Mundo’.”



Published in Headline
Duterte keeps lead as Poe, Binay, Roxas see victory; Leni catches up on Marcos



MANILA (via PhilAmPress) ―The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is in readiness for the national and local elections on May 9 while the Philippine National Police has alerted all police officers and men to maintain peace and order during the winding up of the campaign and during the election day and canvassing itself.


At stake in the election are the country’s next leader, the President, Vice President, 12 Senators, some 200 congressmen and 50 party-list representatives and local officials like the governor, vice governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan members, and the city and municipal mayors and councilors.


(Photo from the Official Facebook Page of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte)


Only less than a week before the elections, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, despite being under attack from all his rivals for alleged misdeeds, has remained the top choice for president among voters if the latest Pulse Asia and the Laylo surveys are to be the gauge, and if, there will be no major changes in the political landscape going into the polls, he appeared to be headed to be the country’s next leader, while the vice presidency is being contested by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Rep. Maria Lourdes “Leni” Robredo.



In the Senate race, the likely winners based on the surveys are Senators Vicente Sotto, Fanklin Drilon, former Senator Francis Pangilinan, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, former Senator Panfilo Lacson, Rep. Manny Pacquiao, former PhilHealth director Risa Hontiveros, former TESDA chief Joel Villanueva, Senator Sergio Osmeña, former Senator Richard Dick Gordon, former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Senator Ralph Recto and Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian.


This developed as the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), with a bloc voting strength of at least 1.5 million, has endorsed the candidacy of Mayor Duterte for president and Senator Marcos for vice president. 


Also endorsed by the group are senatorial candidates Villanueva, Drilon and Recto of LP, Sotto of NPC, Pacquiao of UNA, former Sen.  Gordon (Ind.), Hontiveros (Akbayan), Gatchalian (NPC), Zubiri, Lacson, lawyer Francis Tolentino and Rep. Martin Romualdez of Lakas. The INC did not endorse De Lima Pangilinan and Osmena, 


INC announced its endorsement through a circular read during worship service by executive minister Eduardo Manalo, who called on the sect’s members to vote as one on May 9.


“This is based on the teachings in the Bible that were taught to us even before we were accepted as members of the Church of Christ. We have faith that it is God’s teaching that there shouldn’t be division among us, but that we should be one in thinking and one in judgment,” Manalo said in Filipino.


“This is a big boost to our campaign particularly to thwart attempts by the administration to cheat the elections,” said Peter Tiu Lavina, Duterte’s spokesperson, in reaction to the INC endorsement.


“This endorsement shows that Duterte’s advocacy for Tunay Na Pagbabago has resonated to almost all our people and all our church formations affected by the rising crimes and drugs, continuing corruption and government neglect, poverty and sufferings of our people,” Lavina said.


“These issues are close to the hearts of our moral leaders and the various churches have their own campaigns to end this malady,” he added.


Drilon, Pangilinan, de Lima, Villanueva and Recto are under the administration party, while Sotto and Gatchalian are under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).Pacquiao is with UNA, Hontiveros with Akbayan, while Lacson, Zubiri, Osmeña and Gordon filed their certificates of candidacy as independent.


With an unprecedented 45 percent of positions uncontested, including that of former President and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the second district of Pampanga and Pampanga Governor Lilia G. Pineda who are both unopposed, the campaign appeared more peaceful than those of previous elections as only 30 or so candidates and supporters have died due to election violence.


There are several provinces and other localities declared as election hot spots, including the entire Central Luzon and the vote-rich provinces of Pangasinan.


For the Comelec, it is all systems go for the May 9 presidential, senatorial, congressional and local elections even an election watchdog, the PPRCV, has complained of being left out in the preparation for the elections and former Senator Richard Gordon, author of the Automated Election Law, and other watchdogs have warned that several measures to protect the election have not been complied with by the poll agency, thus opening possible cheating in the elections.


Cheating already has been confirmed in several polling places for overseas voters as many have complained that while they voted for a certain presidential candidate, they votes were counted or credited to another candidate. Poll officials, however, claimed that these were isolated cases only. Netizens have resorted to social media to expose alleged cheating while other voters bewailed their names were not included in the list of registered voters.


Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) expressed misgivings over Bautista's readiness pronouncements for the election, however. 

PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa told journalists about what she sees as a "deadly combination" to enforce changes in the election process, including replacing ballots and also Comelec's lack of transparency on the deployment of vote count machines, election paraphernalia and other supplies to various regional poll hubs nationwide.


Compared to the first two automated polls held in 2010 and 2013, the Comelec is more prepared to conduct the May 9 elections, according to Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista.


"I believe that when we compare our preparations to the preparations of the Comelec in 2010 and 2013, I can say that we are better prepared now for our elections,” said  Bautista during the Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) of vote counting machines (VCMs) at the Araullo High School in Ermita, Manila.


Bautista reported that they are performing better in terms of preparing for the May 9 elections based on their Key Performance Indicators checklist.


The poll body chief noted the record-breaking completion of the printing and verification of the official ballots by the National Printing Office (NPO) in 49 days.


Bautista said they are set to complete the deployment of the official ballots while all the VCMs have been deployed in the seven regional hubs, namely: La Union, Laguna, Albay, Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, and South Cotabato.


Aside from the VCMs to be used in all polling precincts, the poll body also deployed to the regional hubs a total of 5,000 replacement VCMs.


Meanwhile, the Comelec–National Capital Region (NCR) held the FTS in the cities of Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, and Pasig. During the FTS, representatives of PPRCV, however, bewailed that while the polls were supposed to open at 8 a.m., many polls opened only by noonor thereabouts.


Comelec–NCR Director Atty. Temie Lambino said FTS will also be conducted in other cities of Metro Manila until May 5.


A total of 17 VCMs have been successfully tested and sealed by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) at the Araullo High School.


After the VCM has undergone the FTS, it will only be opened on Election Day at the start of the voting.


According to the latest Pulse Asia survey sponsored by ABS-CBN and conducted on April 26 to 29 with 4,000 voters, one in three Filipinos, or 33 percent, picked Duterte as the country's next leader. Duterte's rating was the same as in the previous survey conducted on April 19 to 24.


In the same survey, Sen. Grace Poe and administration candidate Mar Roxas are statistically tied at 22 and 21 percent with 1.5 percent margin of error and are both 11 percent to 12 percent behind Mayor Duterte. Vice President Jejomar Binay dropped to fourth with 17 percent while Sen. Santiago remained last with two percent.


Another survey by another research firm confirmed leadership of Duterte but the rankings for the other candidates for president and vice president were different.


Despite of the survey results, Vice President Binay, Sen. Poe and Roxas expressed optimism and said they were confident that they will eventually be declared the winner “in the final survey on May 9.”


In the final Laylo-Standard national survey conducted between April 7 and May 1, Duterte got 32 % while Senator Poe and  Roxas were in a statistical tie in second place with 25% and 22%, respectively.  Binay is in fourth place with 15%, followed by Defensor Santiago with 2%.


Based on the Pulse Asia survey, Duterte still leads Mindanao, keeping his 58% rating from the previous survey. Duterte also led the National Capital Region (NCR) with 40%, up from his 34% rating in the previous survey. The NCR margin of error is 4.6%. The NCR has 6,253,249 registered voters for the 2016 elections while Mindanao has 12,629,265.


Poe took Luzon with 28%, while Roxas has Visayas with 38%. In the previous ABS-CBN Pulse Asia survey, Poe rated 29% in Luzon while Roxas polled 37% in the Visayas. Balance Luzon has the biggest number of registered voters, 24,164,541 while Visayas has 11,316,789 registered voters.


By social class, Duterte is the favorite of classes ABC and the biggest voting bloc D (37% and 33%, respectively) while he shares the statistical lead in Class E with Roxas (31% and 24%).


(Photo from the Official Facebook Page of Senator Grace Poe)


Poe is still the top alternative candidate for President, according to the survey.


Robredo is now the choice for vice-president of 30% of respondents, which is 4 points higher than her rating in the previous ABS-CBN Pulse Asia survey. 


Marcos is the choice of 28%, down 3 points from the previous survey. On the other hand, Senators Francis Escudero (18%) and Alan Peter Cayetano (15%) didn't see changes in their ratings. Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Gringo Honasan had 3% and 2% ratings, respectively. 


In the senatorial race, Pulse Asia showed reelectionist Sen. Vicente Sotto leading the pact with former Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Franklin Drilon, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and boxing icon Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao coming in next in the top 5 in that order. The same ranking was confirmed by the Social Weather Station earlier and the Pulso ng Pilipino of the Issues and Advocacy Center.


Others in the winning column for senator in the Pulso survey are former senator Francis Pangilinan, Sen. Ralph Recto, Sen. Serge Osmeña, Emmanuel Villanueva, Francis Tolentino, Leila de Lima, and Ferdinand Romualdez. Former Senator Richard Gordon figured prominently in the Top 12 in the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys.


Pacquiao starts training in Los Angeles for Bradley

Published in Sports


Special to Philippines Today


WORLD BOXING ICON Manny Pacquiao during his morning workout in Griffith Park in Los Angeles (Wendell Rupert Alinea)


LOS ANGELES, California (PhilAmPress) ― There is no stopping the fight of world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and American champion Timothy Bradley on April 9at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.


This as Pacquiao, a two-term congressman and a strong contender for senator in the May 9 elections in the Philippines, flew to Los Angeles with his team and started to train for the fight ignoring calls for him to postpone his fight as the coverage of the bout might give him undue exposure that could possibly violate the election laws in his country.


And in his early days of training, Pacquiao's team asked Bradley to watch out for a sharp fighter in the Filipino who is the only person to own a world record of holding eight division championship belts.


Pacquiao has slowly but surely been regaining his punching power that fell 38 of his 65 rivals in a 20-year boxing career.


And if the assessment of chief trainer Freddie Roach will hold true, the eight-division champion is only three weeks away from completely recapturing his knockout punch. 


"I saw it with my own eyes last Saturday that Manny really still has what it takes to knock out an opponent like he had been doing before," the 56-year-old Hall of Fame guru said Monday during a lull in a scheduled workout at the Wild Card  Gym in the heart of Hollywood here.


Roach was referring to the sparring session held before Team Pacquiao left for the United States last Saturday in General Santos City camp where, according to him, the fighting Congressman from Sarangani punished his sparring partners -- Canadian-Congolese Ghislain Maduma and American Lydell Rhodes for 10 rounds with strong combinations that nearly dropped both to the canvas.


"Why,  Manny even bloodied Lydell's lip that I had to cut short the skirmish from what was scheduled five rounds to four," Roach told this writer with a wide grin. "I set  a 10-round sparring session and to complete that, I had to make Maduma's five rounds to six."


"That was the best 10-round sparring I've seen from Manny in years," the seven-time Trainer of the Year of the Boxing Writers Association of America attested. 


After Monday's roadwork at the hilly Griffith Park in the morning and punching the mitts in the afternoon, Pacquiao, likewise, submitted himself to voluntary drug testing with representatives of the Voluntary Anti Doping Agency (VADA) held at his mansion.  


The sparring side of the build up program resumes Tuesday with Pacquiao engaging Rhodes,Maduma and possibly Frankie Gomez and Jose Ramirez joining the duo in preparing him for his third showdown with Bradley at the posh MGM Grand Arena.


"I'll give him a little rest with only eight rounds of against the four in the next tdhree days of sparring ," Roach bared. "Manny looks like he's still suffering from jet lag and needs some respite after that long trip from Manila." 


Next week, Roach, who has been very vocal in his desire that his pupil knocks out Bradley, added that sparring will be for 10 rounds before raising the frequency to 12 rounds a week before proceeding to Las Vegas.  


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