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Team of Poe, Chiz is most star-studded

Published in Entertainment

(Photo from Manila Bulletin)


Do you know that the Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) is the most star-studded political team in the May 2016 elections?

No less than its presidential candidate, Sen. Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares is the adopted daughter of two famous actors, the late Movie King Fernando Poe Jr. and actress Susan Roces.


The team's vice presidential candidate, Sen. Francis Chiz Escudero, on the other hand, is the husband of another actress, Heart Evangelista.


Macon Ramos-Araneta, reporting for Manila Standard, stated that, more than half of the PGP candidates for senator are in show business or once were in it. These candidates include reelectionist Vicente "Tito" Sotto who is married to retired actress Helen Gamboa and is father to actress Ciarra Sotto, who is a councilor in Quezon City. 


Poe, the frontrunner among the candidates for President, revealed that it was Sotto who helped her when she became the first woman head of the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs committee.


Another member of the movie industry is actor and TV host Edu Manzano, who was born in San Francisco, California.


Despite being estranged from his wife, actress-turned- politician Vilma Santos-Recto, Manzano has vowed to strengthen Filipino families. They have a son, actor and television host Luis Lucky Manzano.

Manzano had served as vice mayor of Makati City and later run for vice president in tandem with then presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro.


Poe says she first met Manzano when he was president of the Kapisanan ng mga Artista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. He also served as chairman of the Optical Media Board.


Santos-Recto, who won as governor of Batangas for three terms, is seeking a congressional seat in the newly created lone district of Lipa City. 


She is married to Senator Ralph Recto with whom she has a son, Ryan Christian, who represented him in the PGP senatorial slate launch at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City.


Recto is running under the Liberal Party led by standard bearer Manuel Roxas II and vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo.


In choosing Recto as guest candidate in their senatorial lineup, Poe acknowledged his being one of the “brightest” in the Senate and an economist. 


According to the Manila Standard report, Santos-Recto and FPJ appeared in the hit “Batya’t Palu-Palu” in 1974, which earned for them the “Box Office King and Queen” award. The other hit films they did were “Ikaw ang Mahal Ko” at “Bato sa Buhangin.”


Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who is Francisco Domagoso in real life, was a member of the defunct youth-oriented variety show “That’s Entertainment” of German Moreno.


Poe says Moreno is a “shining example” of how poverty is not a hindrance to success. 


Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who wanted to be known as “Fighter ng Bayan sa Senado,” is an uncle of actress Angel Locsin, whose real name is Angel Colmenares, is the girlfriend of Luis Manzano.  Angel Locsin accompanied Colmenares when he filed his COC for senator at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, drawing the biggest crowd among senatorial aspirants.


Rep. Roman Romulo, who comes from a family of public servants, being the grandson of Carlos P. Romulo and son of former Senator Alberto Romulo, is the husband of former Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad.


Soledad was a former co-host of Willie Revillame in the popular daily noontime show Wow-Wowee. She was also a former girlfriend of President Aquino.


Returning Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri was a former boyfriend of singer-actress Vina Morales. 

Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian also had somebody from showbiz as a former girlfriend. She had Eat Bulaga host Pauleen Luna who is now engaged to Sotto’s younger brother Vice who is also from the same noontime show.


Gatchalian is a brother of Poe’s spokesman, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian.


The four other senatoriables under Team Galing at Puso are former Senator Richard Gordon, human rights lawyer Lorna Kapunan, Susan Ople who is an OFW advocate and daughter of the late Senator Blas Ople and ACT-CIC party-list Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, who is a lawyer, former police general and former Rotary International district governor.


PHL gains ground in international cruise tourism

Published in Travel

MANILA  The Philippines has finally started making waves in the international cruise tourism scene as it expands the list of its port destinations to attract more sea-based travelers, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).


In his State of the Philippine Tourism Report from 2010 to 2014, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. disclosed the country was able to draw in 32,382 tourists, who were on board 54 luxury liners, which docked in local ports last year.


This was a far cry from the 9,770 tourists (from 10 ships) in 2011, 13,466 tourists (16 ships) in 2012, and the 19,319 tourists (34 ships) in 2013, who visited the country.


“The number of passengers for 2014 increased by 67.62 percent compared to 2013. What does that indicate? The ships arrivals are not only getting more frequent, but also getting larger,” Jimenez said.


Jimenez attributed the country’s booming cruise tourism to the new sites, which have drawn the interest of international cruise companies like Subic Bay, Puerto Princesa, and Boracay.


Other areas which DOT marked as “priority ports for cruising” are Apari, Cebu, Coron, El Nido, Tagbilaran City in Bohol, La Union, Limasawa, Romblon, Siargao, Sibuyan and Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan.


Costa Cruises, Star Cruises and Royal Caribbean were among the cruise operators whose ships made stops in the country.


Manila, however, remains the most popular port of call for foreign cruise ships, when visiting the country.


Jimenez noted this was positive development for local tourism since travelers engaged in the so-called cruise tourism usual spend more compared to usual tourists.


“To capitalize on the country’s coastal resources and deliver strong growth by increasing the average length of stay and expenditure, the Department prioritizes program this for development of cruise tourism,” Jimenez said.


By the end of the year, he said they expect 66 cruise liners will visit the country bringing with it around 34,000 tourists.

Ex-President Arroyo unopposed in Pampanga

Published in True or False
Even if some Filipinos have issues against her, the people of Pampanga, especially in our hometown of Lubao, continue to love and revere former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the province’s favourite daughter just like her late father, President Diosdado P. Macapagal.
This is once again shown as no one came forward to contest her seat in the House of Representatives during the filing of certificates of candidacy (CoC) from October 12 to 16, making her ecstatic for being loved by her constituents. “Thank you for the love and support,” Mrs. Arroyo said in her Facebook account, as she tagged her name with the declaration “feeling loved.”
This is history as this is the first time that Mrs. Arroyo is running unopposed in the second district of Pampanga which covers the towns of Lubao, Guagua, Floridablanca, Sasmuan, Sta. Rita and Porac.
Mrs. Arroyo made her first congressional attempt in 2010 immediately after serving as president of the Philippines for nine years from 2001 to 2010. As the country’s 14th president, she made history as the second president from Pampanga and thus forging the country’s first father and daughter to become president of the land with her late father, President Diosdado Macapagal. They were also the first father-daughter to serve as Vice President.  She is also the second lady president of the nation after President Corazon C. Aquino.
In that first run,  a handful of candidates challenged her but won by landslide in all the six towns in the district. She snatched 77 percent or 169,109 of the 219,592 votes cast. His strongest opponent then was businessman Adonis Simpao of Liberal Party (LP), which ironically was the party which carried her father to the vice presidency and eventually presidency of the Philippines. Simpao, who belongs to a well-placed family in the district, got 20,922 votes.
Another candidate, Filipinas Sampang, an educator who is married to another educator, Enerico Sampang, whose family is well known in Pampanga, got 751 votes. Enerico’s brother, Art Sampang, had served as vice governor of Pampanga under then Governor Bren Guiao. A fourth congressional candidate, independent Feliciano Serrano tallied 3,586 votes, according to records of the Commission on Elections.
During that 2010 elections, then Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Lilia G. Pineda, a former mayor of Lubao and a close ally of Mrs. Arroyo, defeated former governor Eduardo Panlilio, a former priest in Pampanga and LP candidate, in their gubernatorial race rematch. Pineda got 488,521 votes against Panlilio’s 242,367 votes. In the 2016 elections, Governor Pineda is also making history as she is running unopposed.
Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo served her first term present in the plenary from 2010 until her arrest in October 2012. She was ordered arrested on charges of plunder for allegedly stealing P366 million of the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). While her co-accused, the then Chairman of the PCSO Board, Sergio Valencia, and board members like Manuel Morato, former mayor Raymundo Roquero, Jose Taruc V and Ma. Fatima Valdes, due to weak evidence, have been either cleared of the charges or released on bail (one of them (Roquero) has just been appointed by President Aquino as Sangguniang Panlalawigan member of Capiz), Congresswoman Arroyo remains in hospital detention. She has since brought her case before that to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) through celebrated international human rights lawyer Amal Alamudin-Clooney, wife of popular American actor George Clooney. Mrs. Arroyo won her case before the UNWGAD which called for her release. "Mrs. Arroyo was denied bail on grounds that are not compatible with international law; she did not benefit from the presumption in favor of bail; she was denied bail exclusively on the basis of the alleged strength of evidence against her; measures alternative to pre-trial detention were not considered and there were undue delays in considering her bail position in the proceedings against her as a whole," the UN Working Group had ruled.
Taking the cue from the UNWGAD, the former President filed only on October 15 a 115-page petition before the SC, through her lawyer, former Solicitor General and Pampanga Governor Estelito Mendoza,  asking the high court to expedite the resolution of her petition, set the case for oral arguments, suspend the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan while the case is with the SC, and, as a final plea, order the dismissal of the plunder charge. Even before the case reached the UNWGAD and the High Court, Sandiganbayan Justices Alex Quiroz and Rodolfo Ponferrada have recommended that Arroyo be allowed to post bail. Despite agreeing that the demurrer of Arroyo should be junked, the two Justices recommended that Arroyo be freed on bail because  the prosecution failed to prove that plunder was committed. “The evidence of the prosecution failed to show the existence of the crime of plunder as no evidence was presented that any of the accused amassed, accumulated and/or acquired ill gotten wealth. In fact, the principal witness of the prosecution, when asked, said she does not know the existence or whereabouts of the alleged ill gotten wealth,” Ponferrada said. That witness has since been removed as lawyer and member of the PCSO Board by President Aquino.
In her reelection bid in 2013, Congresswoman Arroyo again won by landslide despite under hospital arrest for plunder at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. In fact, her votes rose from 77 percent in 2010 to 78.24 percent of those cast (190,884) or 149,344 votes over her closest rival from the Liberal Party (LP), lawyer and former Pampanga provincial administrator Vivian Dabu, who is a relative from Lubao who got 16,238 votes. Two other candidates, Charlie Chua and Josefina Leoncio, got 1,966 votes and 1,271 votes, respectively.
As a journalist and later as consultant to former Pampanga Congressman and Vice Governor Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, I have seen a bit up close how President Arroyo worked, joining her in some foreign visits, especially in San Francisco and the United States. What I know is maybe just a dot of the whole picture and while many disagree and continue to discredit her, I believe she has done also many things good for our province and country while a member of the Cabinet, Senator, Vice President and President. I am not a lawyer and I do not wish to rush judgement on her cases. Many in our midst, especially in government, are pretenders – behaving that they are immaculately clean when they are not. Our challenge as citizens is how to look forward amidst all these pretentions, unite and work towards improving our country and making the nation a better place for us, our children and for everybody. Let us come out of the ugly cocoon as majestic butterflies flying and soaring high over a beautiful and robust garden just like what our nation should be.

(Photo from

PASAY CITY (PHLTODAYUSA) —Four major candidates for the president in the 2016 election next year have appeared before businessmen and pitched their economic platforms but many businessmen reportedly were not impressed.


The occasion was the 41st Philippine Business Conference (PBC) of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City on Tuesday, October 27.


The four are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.


The consensus among businessmen was that while all four tackled issues that were expected in a business setting, none focused on the issue close to PCCI’s main advocacy, which is the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector or the backbone of the local economy.


PCCI president Alfredo M. Yao said he was impressed by the four, but said he was looking for “more.”


“Not pertaining to any presidentiable, but I’m looking at a leader with a strong political will. Whether unpopular or popular, if you think that’s right, do it. Have political will (to make decisions),” said Yao.


Yao said it would take at least two decades to have confidence in a fully recovered Philippine economy. “Maybe another two or three terms (presidents) before we can recover.”


“As a citizen – and for me as a businessman – I’d like to see a president who will do what he or she says he or she will do,” Yao added.  He also prefers a leader who is practical and has common sense. “You don’t need a complicated solution. I practice that in business and in life.”


PCCI honorary chair, Sergio Ortiz-Luis, for his part, said most of the candidates spoke about political agendas such as Charter change, taxes, and infrastructures.


“Basically they are all saying the same thing and there’s nothing new. It’s a question of – do you agree with them or not?”


Both Ortiz-Luis and Yao have not decided who to vote yet. “Malayo pa, matagal pa, marami pa mangyayari,” he said. But if there is one thing he wished the presidentiables spoke about, it was SMEs. “I would have wished that (they talked about) financing for SMEs.”


Poverty is the moral issue of the time and it is what his administration will focus on, said Vice President Binay at the forum.


“The moral problem actually is not corruption, the moral problem is poverty. That is what I have to face, not a fight against all these allegations but a fight to alleviate poverty in the life of every Filipino,” Binay said.


In his opening statement, Binay said his administration will focus on “sustainable and shared economic growth” through balanced social and economic policies.


“This administration may lay claim to the country’s economic growth and credit rating upgrades, but the average 6.3% per year from 2010-2014 would have been more meaningful if it induced the creation of more stable jobs and opportunities for our people,” Binay said.


“Our economic agenda is simple: sustainable and shared economic growth. I’m convinced that inclusive growth is possible with the right mix of social and economic policies by a government that is sensitive to both the needs of its residents and those who do business in the country,” he added.


He also noted that it would take a strong political will from government leaders and the help of the Filipino people to ensure that the effect of the country’s economic gains will be felt by all.


“We need a sustained 7-8% GDP growth per annum to reduce poverty even faster and to attain more inclusive growth sooner. We can achieve this with the right policies, proper implementation and timely delivery of priority projects. And we shall see to it that economic growth and progress are cascaded to the poor and marginalized,” he said.


“It can be reinforced with a more effective monitoring and supervision of priority programs and projects, and with the continued cooperation and support of the business sector. When government enables businesses to flourish, it also enables itself to help more of its people. It’s a shared responsibility and mutually beneficial situation; it’s a win-win for all,” he added.


Binay expressed his support for the amendment of the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to encourage foreign investments and create a more vibrant business environment.


“We shall work towards a market-oriented and pro-business environment that will allow local and foreign firms to flourish in the Philippines,” Binay said.


“First, we must amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution that currently restricts the entry of foreign investments in some major sectors of the Philippine economy. This single step serves as the impetus that will help address nagging problems in our country, such as, unreliable and expensive power, poor infrastructure, and lack of jobs,” he added.


Binay also reaffirmed his support for the enactment of the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill; Build-Operate-Transfer Law amendments; Right-of-Way Bill; Creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology; and the Reduction of the high levels of personal and income tax rates.


Binay said his administration will focus on strengthening the mining, manufacturing, and agriculture saying these sectors create more jobs.


“Our program of government covers increasing agricultural productivity, making the manufacturing and export sectors more competitive, and supporting environmentally- and socially-responsible mining,” he said.


Senator Grace Poe promised to the country’s business leaders that eliminating red tape would be the focus of her administration in the first 100 days if elected president in the 2016 elections.

”Under my watch, red-tape should not be a profit center for government,” Poe told the PCCI.

Citing the newspapers report on Tuesday, Poe said the outdated regulations cost the Philippines some P140 billion in opportunity losses.

Poe emphasized the need to legislate a new anti-red tape law that would reduce the business application process from 15 steps to at least the level that businessmen have been enjoying in other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.

”If you’re starting a mom-and-pop operation, or if you’re in a sole proprietorship, working for your home with no employees, why should you spend 45,000 in fees and licenses alone? In the ease of doing business we have proved quite a bit but it takes about 15 steps to start a business in the Philippines while in Thailand it just takes 4 steps,” Poe said.

The leading presidential candidate said reducing red tape would result to more foreign direct investments (FDI) in the country.

”It is quite an achievement that the government has P6 billion in foreign direct investments but our neighbors have more than that, P8 billion in Vietnam and in Thailand even more,” Poe said.

Poe said she would also continue the fight against graft and corruption by passing into law the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, the same measure which the Senate approved under her watch as chairperson of the committee on public information.

”So one thing, is to continue our fight against corruption, we should make sure that red tape is reduced,” Poe said.

The lady senator said she would also give priority on making the Philippines one of the favorite tourist destinations by building more infrastructure projects and business climate.

”Tourist arrivals in the Philippines is also something that we should increase now our average is a little around 5 million tourists a year whereas Thailand has 26 million and a little bit more in Vietnam. I think that this is an area, tourism, where we can have an added value in terms of employment and in terms of opportunities,” Poe said.

Poe also said she would push reform in the country’s tax code with the objective of reducing tax payments.

”I think that we should re-classify the different brackets for taxes. We are one of the highest in Asia and yet our government services still have to be improved. From 2011 until the present, we have about P600 billion in unspent fund in the government and reducing taxes will only take away about P30 billion, so when they say what programs we have to cut, we don’t even have to cut programs we just have to be more efficient in being able to roll out our projects so that more opportunities will be created,” she said.
Poe said agriculture is also in need of support of the next administration considering it is one sector that the highest poverty incidence.

”The majority of our countrymen are dependent on agriculture but we need to increase mechanization, we need to give them the proper insurance, the crop property insurance, the farm to country road for our farmers,” she said.

”I know that this is said every now and then but I need small water impounding facilities, we need more dam for irrigation, 500,000 hectares of land still needs to be irrigated. There’s a question about whether we need to be rice self-sufficient, or we should have food security. But definitely we should think of food security and the livelihood and insistence of our farmers,” she added.

Poe stressed the need for next government to make business sector as its important partner.

”We will not be successful if we do not help each other and I can guarantee you that having been raised by parents who are also entrepreneurs, I understand the challenges that face the business community but we belong to the small business owners, what more the many others trying to get a loan from the bank, trying to get their permits approve, so these are the things that I feel that we can concentrate on so that we can increase foreign direct investments and so we can also help our local businessmen,” Poe said.


Santiago said the country needs to prepare its people through improving health and education services to ensure faster economic growth and to trickle down the effect of this.


The lawmaker added she will continue the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program but in a more cost-efficient way by involving the local government in implementation.


Public infrastructure in the Philippines should be at par with other ASEAN neighbors, according to Santiago.


For Roxas, he said that he will continue the programs of the Aquino administration in investing on people and infrastructure which he noted as key structural reforms of the current government.


Roxas mentioned that the government has enacted to close classroom backlogs, invested P65 billion for CCT Program, and spent P75 billion in 2014 as PhilHealth reimbursement.


In terms of infrastructure investments, total capital outlay of the government has tripled from P175 billion or 1.8 percent of GDP in 2010 to P570 billion this year. For 2016, the government allotted PhP800 billion for infrastructure projects or approximately 5.0 percent of the country’s GDP, Roxas cited.


Poe, in her message to PCCI, said public infrastructure is necessary for the country to improve the tourism sector which has a great potential for value added activities and job creation.


The four presidentiables all vowed to select and appoint competitive cabinet members to ensure programs will be effectively implemented and delivered.


Tax reforms and FOI

Binay, Poe, and Santiago stated the need for tax reforms particularly in lowering corporate income tax (CIT) and personal income tax (PIT) rates.


Santiago vowed to reform tax system within six months of her administration while Binay said tax reforms will be a priority and he will reduce gradually CIT rate if he will be seated as the next president.

Poe is more concerned on the reduction of individual tax payment.


Roxas, on the other note, said he is open to reducing income tax rates but the initiative needs to be studied “very closely” and should be put in “very sober and non-populist” discussions -- not in time of elections.


He noted that the philosophy of the current administration is to invest back to people their taxes through improved public service.


The two lady lawmakers will both push for the enactment of Freedom of Information (FOI) as a law while Binay and Roxas did not mentioned the pending legislation.


Distinct initiatives

Santiago’s distinct initiative she told to the business group is “passing a law authorizing the use of public funds to support dominant political parties” which she stressed will create a stable political institution in the country.


This will also push political parties to be accountable for the mistakes of their own candidates and leaders that will be in government positions, according to Santiago.


Poe, alone, mentioned the importance of tourism industry in the country.


She aims to further increase tourist arrivals in the country by improving public infrastructure.


Binay, on the other hand, targets to focus on poverty reduction by providing more jobs.


He said this will be possible through supporting industries that are very active in employment such as manufacturing and export.


Roxas vowed to sustain the country’s economic momentum and reclaim its position as center of modernity and growth in Asia by continuing the initiatives of the Aquino administration on transparency, rules-based governance, and strong fight against corruption.


He noted that the cry during the past elections was ‘change’, but for the first time, the country now has reasons to push for ‘continuity’ of government programs and initiatives.


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