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Senate approves SK measure

The Senate ratified yesterday a reconciled version of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) reform bill, with a vote of 16-1-0. The bill enhances youth participation in governance, institutes a strict anti-dynasty provision, youth empowerment, and capability building anchored on strong principles for nation building.  The approval came after Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate local government committee, delivered the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions of the two bills of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Marcos had authored Senate Bill No. 2401 (SK reform bill) while its counterpart measure at the Lower Chamber, House Bill No. 6043, was sponsored by Rep. Pedro B. Acharon. The 16 senators who voted in favor of the “Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015’’ were Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, President Pro …

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Tubbataha now ASEAN Heritage Park

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) formally declared on Thursday the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) in Palawan as an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP), making it the 35th AHP in the region and seventh in the Philippines. The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) handed the certificate of AHP Declaration to the Tubbataha Management Office during a ceremony held at the Provincial Capitol of Puerto Princesa City yesterday. TRNP also serves as the first marine-based AHP in the Philippines. Park superintendent Angelique Songco said the declaration assured the management team that they have been doing the right thing. “We hope we can serve as a role model to other marine natural parks,” she said, noting the need to be more vigilant in protecting the richness and beauty of Tubbataha.  Meanwhile, Nelson Devanadera, Director of the …

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Lapid, ex-Munti mayor, 16 others charged with graft

Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid and five others were charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan over the purchase of overpriced fertilizers that was bought for almost P5 million when he was governor of Pampanga in 2004. Lapid, who is serving his third and final term as senator, and the five others were accused of violating Section 3(e) in relation to Section 3 (g) of Republic Act 3019 or the anti-graft law by the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman recommended a P30,000 bail for the  senator and his co-accused. Aside from Lapid, also charged were Benjamin de Guzman Yuzon, provincial accountant; Vergel Baltazar Yabut, provincial treasurer; Ma. Victoria M. Aquino Abubakar,  and Leolita M. Aquino, incorporators of the Malayan Pacific Trading Corp.; and Dexter Vasquez, proprietor of the Vasquez Macro-Micro Fertilizer Resources. MUNTINLUPA CASE In another …

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‘Mar Roxas’ withdraws from presidential race

Mar Roxas is officially out of the 2016 presidential race. The namesake of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas announced his withdrawal from the 2016 elections after deciding to cancel his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president during the hearing conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Second Division yesterday. Manuel Antonio “Mar” Roxas, 67, retired policeman, said he decided cancel his COC after accepting the decision of the Comelec to include him in its list of motu propio nuisance candidates. Roxas admitted that he decided to join the presidential race just to raise public awareness on the plight of his son, who has been detained on rape charges for almost 20 years already. “I only wanted the case of my son to be heard. He has been in jail for almost 20 years …

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Bongbong offers to take DNA test to help Poe

The quest to find the biological relatives of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares continues, aiming to end speculations on her parentage and a case questioning her qualification to run as president of the Philippines in the 2016 elections. The quest now turns to an offer of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who yesterday said he is willing to undergo a DNA test to help Poe find her biological relatives.  Marcos’ offer is seen as an interesting twist to the quest which has stirred rumors that he and Poe are half-siblings. Yesterday, two DNA tests on Poe’s probable relatives turned out to be negative. The camp of Poe downplayed the results of the DNA tests that could have dismissed the cases questioning her being a Filipino citizen although laboratory results of three more are still …

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Forbes names Putin most powerful person in the world

Global business magazine Forbes has named Russian President Vladimir Putin as the most powerful person in the world. In its 2015 list of most powerful people in the world, United States President Barack Obama was in third spot, making him the first US president to fail to make it to the top two places in the annual ranking. In second place is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Several factors were taken into account to select the 73 people that matter from the 7.3 billion people on the planet: the amount of money they control, the number of people they impact, their total spheres of influence, and how actively they wield their power,” Forbes explained. At No. 4 is Pope Francis, retaining his place this year, and ahead of Chinese President Xi Jingping, general secretary of …

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PH not opposed to US naval patrols

The Philippine government is not opposed to the planned frequent patrols of the United States Navy (USN) in the South China Sea as long as international maritime laws are followed. Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte recognized that freedom of navigation must not be impeded in international waters including the South China Sea. “As the President says, as long it is within the rules set out by international law because there is freedom of navigation, then there shouldn’t be any more reading into why it is being done,” Valte told reporters in the Palace last Wednesday. The United States recently announced its Navy would conduct more patrols similar to the voyage in the South China Sea last week. The patrols will reportedly conducted within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands in the South …

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ILO ends ‘Yolanda’ aid program after benefiting 33,000 victims

More than 33,000 victims of typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013 benefited from the emergency employment assistance and training of the International Labor Organization (ILO). In an interview, Jonathan Price, chief technical advisor for ILO’s Emergency Employment and Livelihood Recovery for typhoon Haiyan, said the beneficiaries of the two-year program not only got an alternative source of income, but also decent working conditions. Price said majority of the displaced workers they assisted in Cebu, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Leyte, and Samar belong to the vulnerable sector and, therefore, suffered from small income and the absence of social protection. After participating in the 150 projects of ILO and its partner government agencies and non-government organizations, most of the beneficiaries enjoyed a minimum wage, got proper gears, and were enrolled at the Social Security System (SSS) and …

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Why Isabela is all out for Mar-Leni

Naguilian, Isabela — When typhoon “Juan” devastated this province in October 2010, Governor Faustino “Bojie” Dy III did not expect much help from the national government, knowing how politics plays in the country.  President Aquino had every reason to snub the province.  His loss to Joseph Estrada here was still fresh in mind.  Aquino got 175,254 votes as against Estrada’s 262,856 votes. “The province was really devastated during that time. But we got support from the Aquino administration. One of them is that the National Food Authority was allowed to buy storm-damaged palay just to help our farmers here to fully recover,” Dy told the Manila Bulletin. Fast-forward to the recent devastation of typhoon “Lando” and the continuing threat of El Niño.  Dy said they received the same unconditional support from the Aquino …

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Congress leaders set meeting with PNoy to push for tax cuts

The leaders of Congress are expected to meet with President Aquino on Monday to convince him to support the measure seeking to lower personal and corporate income tax rates. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said they have finally arranged a meeting with the Chief Executive to tackle their pro-workers’ measure, which seeks to adjust the income tax brackets to inflation. “The Senate President (Franklin Drilon) and I will meet the President on Monday, and among the important things we talked about this morning is income tax. The version pending with us is an indexation of the values of the amount mentioned, without changing the rates of the particular taxes,” Belmonte said after the Congress leadership’s meeting at Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City. Belmonte said the meeting was set “to try to convince the …

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