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MANILA — Following the reversal by the House of Representatives of its panel’s decision to drop the impeachment complaint against him, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista may change his mind and step down even before the effectivity of his resignation of Dec. 31 to avoid an impeachment trial by the Senate acting as Senate Impeachment Tribunal.

 

This as members of the Senate and the House of Representatives said Bautista would still undergo impeachment trial if he does not resign immediately and irrevocably.

 

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez disclosed that the House committee on justice has prepared the articles of impeachment to be filed in the Senate. The House, however, is on recess and could act on the articles when it resumes its session middle of November.

 

Lawyers of Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia, meanwhile, said they will file plunder charges against the Comelec chief for accumulating over P1 billion.

 

Patricia had accused Bautista of corruption, and presented to the public his actual bank passbooks and documents which, together with his real property, were valued at P1.2 billion, to prove it. She said she did nlt want to be accused in some future time of being part of her husband’s corruption or even profiting from his dirty money.

 

 Lawyer Lorna Kapunan said Bautista may have already tendered his resignation letter but they would still pursue the filing of a plunder case against him.

 

“We will file plunder (case). The impeachment will only remove him from his position,” Kapunan said.

 

Kapunan explained that if the Comelec chairman would be impeached, he only has to vacate his position, but to make him accountable for the alleged crimes he has committed; cases would have to be filed against Bautista in court.

 

“Criminal cases have to be filed against him, some members of his family, Smartmatic, Divina Law Firm managing partner Nilo Divina, and the Luzon Development Bank,” she said.

 

The embattled Comelec chief is also facing impeachment before Congress after 137 lawmakers at the House voted to forward the complaint against him to the Senate, which will now act as an impeachment court.

 

Bautista is the first Comelec chairman to be impeached by Congress.

 

In the affidavit Patricia filed before the NBI, she alleged her husband has 35 bank accounts amounting to more than P300 million with the Luzon Development Bank; has a foreign currency account and a peso account amounting to US$12,778.30 with the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC); and HK$948,358.97 with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC).

 

Deputy minority leader Harry Roque, one of the impeachment complainants, said that the draft of the articles of impeachment he has submitted to the committee involves the following.

 

• The anomalous bank accounts, funds, businesses, corporations and financial transactions involving Bautista and/or his family members;

• Bautista’s supposed commissions from private law firm Divina &Uy law offices;

• Bautista’s failure to properly disclose his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth; and

•Bautista’s failure to address the hacking of the Comelec website in March 2015.

 

Bautista disclosed that he was just waiting for the official communication from Malacañang since President Duterte announced last week that he had accepted his resignation.

 

The Senate will wait for the actual resignation of Bautista before totally scrapping its preparations for his impeachment trial in the chamber, according to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said.

 

Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque also said Bautista must be tried by the Senate as an impeachment court if he does not resign before Dec. 31.

 

Sotto revealed the House would no longer transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate once Bautista is out of the Comelec because it will be useless.

 

Sotto said he would not want to waste public funds preparing for Bautista’s trial that in all likelihood would not push through.

 

Bautista said he went to Malacanang Tuesday last week to hand his resignation and met with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. During the meeting, the two forged a “gentleman’s agreement” for him to resign by the end of the year.

 

Once a replacement for his position is chosen before Dec. 31, Bautista said he could leave his post.

 

He explained he did not resign immediately to give the President time to find a replacement and have a smooth and orderly transition within the poll body.

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MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has maintained his big majority approval and trust ratings both at 80 percent despite issues faced by his administration in the latest Pulse Asia Research survey which is in sharp contrast to an earlier survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS). 

 

The results of the Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan made public on October 13 refuted the findings of the SWS which had Duterte’s net satisfaction rating plunging by 18 points from +66 in June to +48 in September.

 

“We hope this survey inspires us in the government, that despite the odds and challenges, we continue to provide a comfortable life for the Filipinos in an environment free from illegal drugs and criminality. This is the way we return the overwhelming trust and support of our people,” Malacanang said.

 

“Most Filipinos continue to approve of and trust President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, and Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III,” Pulse Asia said, while “indecision is the plurality sentiment toward the performance and trustworthiness of House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno.”

 

In the September 2017 nationwide survey on the performance and trust ratings of the top Philippine government officials, President Duterte received an approval rating of 80 percent, slightly lower than 82 percent in June. 

 

Seven percent of Filipinos expressed disapproval of his work, while 13 percent were undecided. 

 

Also, a big majority of 80 percent of those surveyed trust the President, 14 percent are undecided and 6 percent distrust him or has small trust.  

 

Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, Duterte enjoyed majority approval ratings at 72 percent to 92 percent and 75 percent to 86 percent, respectively. 

 

Trust figures were at 72 percent to 93 percent and 74 percent to 85 percent, respectively. 

 

The survey, conducted from Sept. 24 to 30 using face-to-face interviews, said also enjoying majority approval and trust scores, albeit lower ones, are Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo (57 percent and 55 percent respectively) and Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III (55 percent and 52 percent). 

 

“While the performance and trust ratings of the President and the Vice President are essentially unchanged between June and September 2017, the other top national government officials experience marked movements in their own ratings both at the national level and across geographic areas and socio-economic classes,” it said. 

 

Among the key events during the survey period include Senate’s investigation into the shipment of illegal drugs worth P6.4 billion, the Senate’s hearing into the suspected hazing death of law student Horacio Castillo III, and the sacking of virtually the entire Caloocan City police force in the aftermath of the killing of teenagers Karl Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman. 

 

The nationwide survey is based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above.

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(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

 

MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) has rejected the appointment of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.

 

The CA’s decision was reached through secret voting in an executive session. The CA committee on health conducted three hearings on Ubial’s nomination, which was met with several filed oppositions.

 

Ubial is the fifth Cabinet official appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to be rejected by the CA. The other four are Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr.

 

During the CA committee on health hearing, Ubial was emotional as she was asked whether she still wanted the job despite the oppositions filed against her.

 

“I know there are a lot of opposition and manifestation that are before you about my not being capable and to be the secretary of Health, but your honor, I stand by my commitment to the President,” Ubial said.

 

“He appointed me as Health Secretary and whatever happens today, I will serve at the pleasure of the President,” she added.

 

Former Philippine Health Insurance Corp.(PhilHealth) interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) Hildegardes Dineros attended the hearing to manifest that Ubial “peddled” lies before the CA when the Health Secretary claimed that he resigned from his post.

 

“She lied. I did not resign but ousted upon the instigation of Sec. Ubial… I was forcibly ousted,” Dineros said.

 

Dineros claimed Ubial called for a board meeting, a day before he was ousted from his post.

 

Ubial, Dineros said, has poor management skills, has a habit of lying, and lacks direction in the health sector.

 

Ubial denied Dineros’ claims, as she read minutes of the said board meeting. Ubial said Dineros voluntarily resigned as he felt that his colleagues no longer had confidence in him.

 

“Dineros said he is resigning as PCEO (PhilHealth CEO) just to give the Board all the allowance to choose,” Ubial said.

 

“I asked him ‘are you sure you want to resign?’… Upon a motion duly seconded, the board accepted the resignation of Dineros,” she said.

 

Dr. Celestina Ma Jude de la Serna has since been elected as interim/officer-in-charge PCEO.

 

Maria Fe Francisco, one of the 150 employees who signed a manifesto against Ubial, also attended the CA committee hearing to oppose the Health Secretary’s confirmation.

 

Francisco said Ubial committed “grave abuse of power and usurpation of authority” and violated the rights of PhilHealth employees to due process when the Secretary abritrarly suspended allowances and salary adjustments due to a notice of disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit (COA).

 

“The decision of the PhilHealth Board on the suspension of salaries were all done arbitrarily,” Francisco said. “The decision of the PhilHealth Board resulted in extreme demoralization and has in turn, affected corporate output.”

 

Ubial said that while it “pains” her to remove the compensation and allowances of PhilHealth employees, she had to “follow the law.”

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By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA and ALFRED G. GABOT

 

MARILOU DANLEY: MARILOU DANLEY poses at the western end of the Rizal Monument at the old Luneta, now Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines. She posted this photo in her now deleted Facebook account. (Contributed photo)

 

LAS VEGAS (JGL) — A millionaire known to be a casino player but without previous criminal record on the use of guns strafed concert goers from his 32nd floor room in Mandalay Hotel here on Oct. 2, killing 59 people and injuring 527 others, including two Filipino Americans, in what could be the worst mass murder in US history .

 

Those injured were by gunfire or shrapnel, some trampled in the pandemonium that followed adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip as police scrambled to locate the assailant.

 

The gunman, Stephen Paddock, 64, later shot himself fatally before police could storm his room in the hotel casino resort. A search on his room and later in one of his homes yielded several high-powered guns and ammunition.

 

RIZAL MONUMENT: THIS IS THE FULL view of the Rizal Monument at the old Luneta, now Rizal Park, where Marilou Danley had her photo taken. (Contributed photo)

 

The FilAm who was injured was identified as Las Vegas-born Arthur "Arty" Andrade, 21, who was on a double-date with his girlfriend, his friend and the latter's girlfriend when he was shot in the stomach, his family told ABS-CBN News. The other FilAm was not immediately identified by the Philippine Consulate General's office in Los Angeles and the Department of Foreign Affairs but said he had sprained ankle and has been discharged from the hospital. 

 

Andrade underwent surgery and is confined at a local hospital, according to his family.

 

Las Vegas is home to some 120,000 Filipinos, according to the Philippine General Consulate in Los Angeles, California. 

 

In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs urged Filipino residents and tourists to call the consulate and give their whereabouts and contact details. 

 

COUPLE: STEPHEN CRAIG Paddock is shown in this photo. Stephen Paddock went on a shooting spree Sunday (Oct. 1st) night from his Mandalay Bay hotel casino on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 59 people and injuring 527. (Facebook photo)

 

"Sa dami ng Pilipino doon, we have 131,000 Filipinos in southern Nevada alone. Most of these kababayans based in the Las Vegas area, napakahirap i-trace kung isa-isahin," DFA spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar told Manila reporters.

 

Initially, Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, a Filipino Australian, was listed as a person of interest in the incident but was later cleared as she was vacationing in Hong Kong and the Philippines with friends days before the incident. The Bureau of Immigration in Manila disclosed that Danley arrived in Manila on Sept. 23.

Danley, 62, whose maiden name is Bustos, voluntarily returned to Las Vegas to help police authorities in the investigation as she claimed innocence and advance knowledge of the plans of Paddock. She was met by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (BFI) agents at the Los Angeles International Airport.

"I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man," Marilou Danley said in a statement read by her attorney Matthew Lombard. "I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him," she said.

 

"He never said anything to me or took any action that I was aware of that I understood in any way to be a warning that something horrible like this was going to happen," she added.

 

BROTHERS: STEPHEN CRAIG Paddock (right) is shown with his brother, Erick Paddock. Stephen Paddock went on a shooting spree Sunday (Oct. 1st) night from his Mandalay Bay hotel casino on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 59 people and injuring 527. (Courtesy of Eric Paddock)

 

Danley added that two weeks ago, Paddock had told her he found a cheap plane ticket for her to visit family in the Philippines.

 

"Like all Filipinos abroad, I was excited to go home and see family and friends," that statement said. "While there, he wired me money ($100,000), which he said was for me to buy a house for me and my family."

 

She said she became concerned at that point, thinking he wanted to break up with her.

 

"It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone."

Danley said she was devastated by Sunday night's attack on concertgoers -- the worst mass shooting in modern US history -- and her prayers went out to all the victims.

 

"I am a mother and grandmother and my heart breaks for all who have lost loved ones," she said.

 

Danley's profile in LinkedIn describes her as “Gambling & Casinos Professional” and resides in Reno, Nevada. Public records show that she is 62 years old (born, Dec. 12, 1954), four feet, 11 inches tall and weighed 111 pounds.

 

Paddock open fired from his 32nd floor large suite of Mandalay Bay hotel casino at about 10:08 p.m. overlooking a crowd of more than 22,000 concertgoers. The victims were across the street attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert when bullets rang out. 

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department SWAT responded to the call, breached the hotel room and found the gunman dead.

 

Although early press reports indicated that Ms. Danley is now off the hook because she was outside the United States when the mass shooting happened, LVMPD Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told a news conference, “We are still continuing to ask her several questions. She is out of the country. She is in Tokyo (Japan), not in the Philippines.”

 

 

Police said Paddock had no criminal record. The gunman killed himself before police entered the hotel room from where he was firing, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.

 

"We have no idea what his belief system was," Lombardo said. "I can't get into the mind of a psychopath."

 

Federal officials said there was no evidence to link Paddock to militant organizations.

"We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group," Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office in Las  Vegas, told reporters.

 

The Clark County Fire Department estimated that approximately 406 people were transported to area hospitals and 50 were dead following Sunday evening’s shooting.

 

Among the dead were a nurse and a Las Vegas police officer who was off-duty at the time. His name was withheld pending notification of next of kin. There were also two on-duty officers injured, one of whom was upgraded recently from critical to stable condition. The other sustained non-life threatening wounds.

 

This is still an active investigation, Sheriff Lombardo said. The Federal Bureau of Investigations is asking for anyone with videos or photos concerning the shooting to call 1-800-CALLFBI or (800) 225-5324.

 

LVMPD and Clark County Coroner’s Office have set up a hotline for family or friends to report a missing loved one connected to this incident.

 

The hotline is only to take reports on missing people. The number is (866) 535-

5654.

 

LVMPD also opened up a family reunification center at its headquarters at 400 S. Martin L. King Blvd. in Building B. The identification process of all of the injured and the deceased will take time, so authorities are asking the public for patience.

 

Paddock, 64, lived in Mesquite, Nevada retirement community, where amenities include golf and tennis. He was a multimillionaire real-estate investor and liked to travel to Las Vegas to play high-states video poker.

 

Investigators are still puzzled why Paddock would bring with him 17 guns inside his hotel room and spray bullets upon an outdoor country music festival below.

 

His brother, Erick Paddock, told reporters, “I can’t even make something up. There’s just nothing.”

 

Country music star Jason Aldean was performing for more than 22,000 fans on the Route 91 Harvest Festival when Paddock launched the attack.

 

Sheriff Lombardo ruled out connection to international terrorism although Islamic State group had claimed responsibility. 

Paddock was a “lone wolf” assassin. He said three scenes are still being processed: the 32nd floor room in Mandalay Bay where the shooting emanated; Paddock’s house in Mesquite; and another house in north Nevada.

 

In Mesquite, police found more than 18 firearms, explosives and electronic devices. 

Lombardo said there were 16 firearms in the room where Paddock killed himself, some with scopes and some that appeared to have been modified to convert them to fully automatic weapons.

 

Lombardo said the gunman apparently used a "device similar to a hammer" to smash the windows from which he fired.

 

Police found at least 18 additional firearms, some explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at Paddock's home in Mesquite, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Las Vegas, along with "some electronic devices that we are evaluating at this time," Lombardo told reporters.

 

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) issued the following statement after the shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas:

 

“In the strongest terms, NaFFAA condemns the senseless attack that took over 50 lives and injured over 500 more in Las Vegas this weekend,” said Brendan Flores, NaFFAA National Chairman. 


“My hometown of Clark County is home to over 145,000 Filipino Americans, and is a vibrant and diverse community. I have faith that they will come together to overcome this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the innocent lives lost and wounded in the shooting. As I said in response to the Charlottesville attacks, we must join together in the spirit of community to act as lights in the face of darkness.”

 

Amie Belmonte, NaFFAA’s Desert Mountain Region Chair (NV, AZ, UT), added: “As we struggle to make sense of the devastating attack on innocent lives that occurred in our beloved Las Vegas community, one thing is crystal clear: We are eternally grateful for the first responders, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, and all other selfless individuals who risked their lives to come to the aid of victims on the ground. It is their stark bravery that offers a glimmering light of hope in the shadow of this cowardly act of hate.

 

As NaFFAA’s Desert Mountain Region Chair, we offer our prayers and sympathies to the victims, pledge our support to anyone from our community affected by the attacks, and encourage those who are able to donate blood to do so. In situations like this, such donations can mean the difference between life or death for those recovering from the attack.” (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. '; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text32042); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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MARAWI CITY — The war between the IS-inspired Maute terrorists and government troops in Marawi City may be over soon.

 

This as President Rodrigo Duterte's visited Marawi City for the third time, this time in the main battle area further boosting the morale of fighting troops in the so-called main battle area.

 

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año said of the visit:. "The third visit was not just about the Commander-in-Chief in close proximity with the men, it was a seal of his commitment to walk the talk -- literally and figuratively," he added.

 

Although many of his advisers consider the President's second visit to Marawi's Forward Edge of the Battle Area (FEBA) last August 4 to be daring, this time, the Chief Executive went inside the Main Battle Area (MBA) around 4: 20 p.m.

 

"He (Duterte) braved the perils of sniper fires, Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs), and Unexploded Ordnance in the yet to proclaimed 'Cleared' portions of the MBA -- just so he can be with his Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Policemen in the front-lines," the AFP chief stressed.

 

Duterte, in justifying his third visit to Marawi City, said that he wants to show his unity with the Filipino soldiers engaged in neutralizing the terrorist group.

 

"I am here once again to show -- not just say -- my unity with you. That much as you all are willing to die for your country with unquestioning resolve to follow the orders to 'Charge!' coming from your Commander-in-Chief, I am and I can be in the same muddy ground that you now stand; drenched like you under the same rain; and somehow smell like you in this battleground," Año quoted the President as saying.

 

Upon touchdown, Duterte boarded a convoy where he received an informal briefing from Joint Task Force Marawi head Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista as the vehicles moved around portions of the MBA for grounds inspection up to the foot of Mapandi Bridge -- the site of one of the bloodiest encounters between government security forces and the Daesh-inspired Maute Group.

 

At one point, he alighted from his vehicle, walked towards the Casualty Evacuation Area without bulletproof vests on, and went further to greet and console the wounded soldiers being treated there.

 

He came as close to the fight area after he climbed a sniper position and twice pulled the trigger of a sniper rifle trained on an identified position of terrorists trading shots with military marksmen.

 

Talk-to-the-troops followed at the camp of Task Force Trident under Major Gen. Danilo Pamonag where Duterte handed combat watches, Soldier's Individual Packs, and P5,000 each intended for all the troops in Marawi.

 

"It was not just his physical presence, but his unspoken words that he has the back of his men covered," Año said.

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MANILA — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno broke her silence over the impeachment complaint filed against her by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) before the House of Representatives, stating that she has not done anything wrong.

 

“I have done nothing wrong. Nothing can be proven against me. I have served the country with all faith and diligence,” Sereno said uring the Ulat sa Hudikatura in Cebu.

 

Alam mo 'yan ang masarap sa malinis na konsensya, it [impeachment] does not affect me at all. The work is there. It is enormous. Just imagine. If I take an inordinate amount of time looking at it and being exasperated by those documents, work will not be done so just give it the right attention so that you understand that when the appropriate time comes, you are ready,” Sereno added.

 

Sereno said she does not want to be bothered by impeachment threats because she wants to focus on the various judicial reforms needed to expedite judicial processes.

 

“If I take an inordinate amount of time looking at it and being exasperated by those documents, work will not be done so just give it the right attention so that you understand that when the appropriate time comes, you are ready,” she noted.

 

The Chief Justice said she gives the allegations against her the "right attention" so she could prepare her answers when the right time comes.

 

"But I shouldn't be fazed because I have done nothing wrong. Nothing can be proven against me that will show that the chief justice has betrayed her oath of office. I have served the country with all faith and diligence. I will never waver from that pledge," she stressed.

 

Last August 2, VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez led the filing of the impeachment bid against Sereno on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

 

Jimenez noted in the complaint that Sereno culpably violated the Constitution for the following reasons:

-- issuing an administrative order creating the new Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and re-opening the Regional Administration Office (RCAO) in Western Visayas in the absence of an authority from the Court en banc;
-- violating the constitutional provision that appointive government officials shall not hold another public post unless provided for by law, in appointing Atty. Solomon Lumba as her staff head. Lumba was a faculty member of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law when he was appointed as Chief Justice staff head;
-- appointing Atty. Brenda Jay Mendoza as Philippine Mediation Center Office Chief by mere memorandum which was not referred to the court en banc for its consideration;
-- granting to members of her staff travel allowances for foreign travel charged to the Supreme Court funds without court en banc approval.

 

VACC also said that Sereno betrayed public trust through “inexcusable negligence”, for sitting on the applications for the vacant posts in the Supreme Court.

 

Lawyer Larry Gadon, on the other hand accused Sereno of living a lavish lifestyle when she purchased a Toyota Land Cruiser worth P5.1 million using public funds.

 

Gadon said Sereno wanted a luxury vehicle on top of her “coterie of security personnel riding in separate vehicles and traffic escorts two motorcycles,” which were also purchased “using Supreme Court funds.”

 

He added that Sereno also uses taxpayers’ money to stay in opulent hotels when attending conferences in the Philippines and abroad, and flying on business or first class together with her staff and security.

 

But Sereno maintained that she has been living a life of modesty.

 

“I have always lived a life of modesty. I have been prudent in use of the court's resources al the expenses for judicial reform, my travels, my security requirements are all regular and above board. Public docs the records will speak for itself and I have not objected in the public release of the same,” the Chief Justice noted.

 

The SC earlier granted the release of additional documents for the impeachment of Sereno as requested by Gadon, who is set to file the second impeachment complaint.

 

The High Court granted Gadon's plea for the release of 20 documents which shall be used against Sereno impeachment case before the House of Representatives.

 

Among these were Sereno's SALNs since she was appointed to the SC in 2010 and documents pertaining to the purchase of Sereno's luxury service vehicle and to her travels.

 

Last Aug. 10, the VACC has already received the records from the Supreme Court in support of the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno.

 

The SC, in an en banc session last August 8, granted the release of documents, except the copy of the memorandum dated July 10, 2017 issued by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.

 

The SC also granted the release of Sereno's memorandum for appointment of lawyer Solomon Lumba as her staff head and the subsequent letter of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio withdrawing his signature in the said appointment over an internal issue.

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By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE

 

(Photo from PCOO)

 

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — President Rodrigo R. Duterte personally showed support to poultry raisers of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija affected by avian flu by joining a boodle fight to assure the people that poultry products from the two provinces are safe to eat.

 

Duterte, along with former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol, Gov. Lilia PIneda and other officials, ate "balut," chicken, quail and "itik.:

 

At the same time, Duterte distributed checks to chicken, quail and duck raisers affected by bird flu as indemnity and assistance for the culling of some 700,000 birds in poultry farms in four towns in the two provinces.

 

In the presence of former Pampanga congresswoman Andrea Domingo, now Chairman and CEO of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Mr. Duterte said the assistance to the poultry raisers maybe increased possibly from Pagcor funds.

 

The President also presented citations to soldiers, policemen and other local and national officials who helped in culling the birds and in containing the avian flu before it could spread to other areas.

 

Duterte also assured that the national government will continue its surveillance and vigilance to mitigate the impact of bird flu.

 

Speaking before some 1,000 people from the local government units and poultry raisers, Duterte said Pampanga is not only a factor in food security but part of the food chain.

 

“The efforts and sweat poured in by the Kapampangans play a crucial role in securing the country’s food chain,” the President added.

 

He also pointed out the resiliency of the Kapampangans in these trying times, and that he is confident that the LGUs can contain the avian flu outbreak.

 

The President, together with Secretary  Piñol, awarded an indemnity check to San Luis town worth P20,723,790.

 

He also gave checks to two poultry farm owners from Jaen town, Mary Grace Castro and Manuel Ruiz Luiz, whose poultry farms were depopulated because of the avian flu outbreak.

 

Shortly after the awarding ceremonies, President Duterte, along with Piñol, Governor Pineda, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, Bulacan Goveror Willy Alvarado and local chief executives ate chicken, balut, and eggs in a boodle fight here to show the public that poultry products in Pampanga are safe.

 

  Piñol said an opportunity was presented by the crisis brought about by the avian influenza outbreak after a group of German and Colombian engineers committed to provide technology to turn chicken manure to organic fertilizer.

 

He said the group is now establishing a facility for the project.

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MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has disclosed that the family of former president Ferdinand Marcos is willing to “open everything” and “return” to the Philippine government some wealth in question, including a few gold bars.

 

“The Marcoses -- I will not name the spokesman -- sabi nila na they’ll open everything and probably return ‘yung nakita lang,” the President said during his speech after the mass oath-taking of newly-appointed government officials in Malacañang.

 

Sabi nila na, ‘malaki ang deficit mo sa… maybe this year, ang projected deficit spending would be big,’ sabi niya. Baka makatulong. Pero hindi ito malaki,” Duterte said.

 

He said that the deal includes even some gold bars.

 

“But we are ready to open and bring back, sabi niya, ‘pati ‘yung a few gold bars.’ Hindi ganun kalaki, it’s not a Fort Knox, it’s just a few. But sabi nila, isauli nila para walang ano,” Duterte said.

 

The President likewise said that an explanation was given by the Marcoses for the wealth in question and that he was accepting it.

 

“And the only reason really was sabi nila, that the father was protecting the economy. Now, of course, the eventual kung maalis siya. But he was thought of regaining the Malacañan and that is why ganito ang lumabas. Parang naitago,” he said.

 

“I will accept the explanation, whether or not it is true, wala na eh. And they are ready to return. How much, they would give me an accounting,” Duterte said.

 

Duterte said he is now trying to look for a person not identified with any concerned party to handle the negotiations.

 

“So I am now scouting around. I have yet to select the guy para walang duda. Baka sabihin na naman ‘nag-hao-siao,’ there is a back channeling,” he said.

 

“I’m looking at a former Chief Justice. Sila na lang mag-usap. Then another certified public accountant (CPA), and maybe a representative of all that is accepted also by all. Para… So that tatlong tao ‘yan, mag-usap sa kanila,” Duterte said.

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(Photo from Philippine Star)

 

MANILA — The Philippines has slid to 13th place from 12th largest country in the world in terms of population.

 

POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said the country has lost the 12th spot three years after taking the post.

 

"On July 1, 2017, Ethiopia overtook our spot, making the Philippines the 13th largest country in the world," said Perez.

 

The country currently has an estimated 104.3 million population, according to the POPCOM "Population Clock".

 

It was in 2014 when the United Nations (UN) had ranked the Philippines as the 12th most populated country with a 100 million population then.

 

Perez added that the country may further rank lower in the coming years.

 

This as 14th placed Egypt was found to have a higher population growth rate of 1.9 versus compared to the Philippines' 1.5.

 

And with the drop in the world's most populated country rankings, the POPCOM Official said the government is now more pressed to provide better services to Filipinos.

 

"This event is a challenge to provide a quality life for the babies and make every Filipino count in the progress and development of the country as the population increases rapidly every year," said the official.

 

"It is also a reiteration of POPCOM’s advocacy through the years that every child should be born wanted, and his/her basic rights on social services, such as health and education, are ensured for his/her total development," he added.

 

Meanwhile, he said the Philippines’ symbolic 100 millionth babies have already turned three years old on this day (July 27).

 

For that reason, POPCOM is providing their families with PHP5,000 gift packs for the babies’ developmental needs.

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(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

 

MANILA — The United States (US) has vowed to work with the Philippines to resolve the issue involving the Balangiga bells, which were seized by US troops from a town in Samar 116 years ago.

 

”We will continue to work with our Filipino partners to find a resolution,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement issued following President Rodrigo Duterte's call for US to return the bells.

 

"We are aware that the Bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines,” it added.

 

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, in his second State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA),, called on the US to return to the Philippines the bells of the Balangiga church.

 

The President said those bells belonged to the Philippines and were part of its national heritage.

 

During the Philippine-American war in 1901, Filipino freedom fighters from the village of Balangiga defended Samar Island from American colonizers, resulting in death of 48 American officers and men and 28 Filipinos.

 

The US troops looted three bells from the burned out Catholic town church, which they took back to the US as war booty.

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