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MILF warns IS seeks foothold in south

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- The Islamic State group is trying to establish a stronghold in the violence-racked southern Philippines, the head of the nation's biggest Muslim rebel organisation warned Monday. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim said the extremist IS seeks to capitalise on growing frustration over the breakdown of efforts to end a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the southern Mindanao region. The peace process has been frozen since the Philippine congress failed last month to pass the  Bangsamoro Basic Law, agreed between the government and the MILF, that would have granted autonomy to the region. "Now, after the non-passage of the (bill), we are quite concerned that they (the IS) can capitalise on this, because the sentiment of the people in the area is now very strong. The frustrations after the …

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BIR reshuffles, restructures

President Aquino has ordered the reshuffling of personnel and the restructuring of key field offices of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to maximize tax collection nationwide and boost the chances of hitting the P2-trillion collection target for the year. More than 200 field officials of the BIR nationwide were reshuffled in the past several days and given new assignments including revenue district officers (RDO), assistant RDOs, division and section chiefs, and tax examiners who have “overstayed” in their posts for more than three years. BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares implemented the personnel changes as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) exempted the bureau from the ongoing ban on the movement of government personnel during the election period. Henares said the presidential directive basically involves the collapse and the creation of selected field offices. The …

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Binay promises faster aid to disaster victims

The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay assured over the weekend that help would immediately reach victims of calamities under his administration, far from the “teka-teka” or pensive releasing of emergency funds by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), when it was headed by Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. “The present administration boasts that it has used its savings to uplift the lives of the people. But calamity victims can attest that under this administration, and during the watch of Roxas at the DILG, they have been victimized twice: First, by nature; and second, by ineptitude and incompetence,” said Joey Salgado, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) campaign communications director. In contrast, a Binay administration will see to it that funds for rehabilitation projects are ready even before disasters strike so that …

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American contracts Zika virus in PH, says DOH

An adult, non-pregnant American, who had been in the Philippines for four weeks, tested positive of Zika virus, the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed in a press conference yesterday afternoon. “Kahapon, alas kwatro y media ng umaga, nakatanggap ang departamento ng isang email galing sa United States-Center for Disease Control and Prevention, US-CDC, na pinapaalam sa atin na mayroong isang residente ng Amerika na nanggaling sa Pilipinas, tumira rito ng apat na linggo o four weeks, January 2 to 28, at ito nga ay nakaramdam ng mga sintomas ng Zika virus infection. Kumpirmado ang kasong ito (At 4:30 a.m. yesterday, we received an email from the US-CDC, informing us that a US resident – who came from the Philippines, and stayed here for four weeks, January 2 to 28 – had …

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China must state military’s intentions in disputed seas – US 7th Fleet commander

Aboard USS Blue Ridge, Manila — To make the situation in the South China Sea more stable and less uncertain, it would be good for China to state what their intentions are regarding its extensive land reclamation work and deployment of air defense and surface-to-air missile systems in disputed areas in the region, a top United States Navy (USN) official said yesterday. “That’s probably a good question for them (China),” US 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin told a select group of reporters in an interview yesterday while touring USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), the lead ship of the two Blue Ridge-class command ships of the US Navy and command ship of the US 7th Fleet. The USS Blue Ridge docked in Manila Bay last Friday as part of a routine …

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Concern raised over Manila’s seizure of NoKor cargo ship

By Raymund F. Antonio and Ellson A. Quismorio San Simon, Pampanga — The government had better make sure that the Philippines will be “assisted” by the United States (US) should a problem arise with North Korea over the seizure of one of its cargo vessels at Subic Port. The country is holding the 6,800-ton ship on the strength of a United Nations (UN) resolution imposing a “freeze” on North Korean assets. It turns out that the Philippines is the first nation among UN members to enforce the sanction against the reclusive state. The resolution calls for the inspection of all cargo entering or leaving North Korea. Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan was one to express apprehension over the Philippines’ action. “Kung umalma yung North Korea, siguraduhin lang natin na tutulong yung US (We should ensure that …

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Duterte will strengthen, not abolish, 4Ps

Butuan City — Contrary to his rivals’ claims that he would abandon the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) when he is elected president, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte told thousands of his supporters here the other day that he would strengthen further the program to benefit more Filipinos. “Akong ipadayong nang 4Ps. Ako pa gyung pakusgon aron daghan pang Pilipino ang maka benepisyo niana (I will continue the 4Ps and I will strengthen it so that more Filipinos will benefit from it),” Duterte said before the over 5,000 people who gathered here from the provinces of Surigao, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, and Dinagat Island for the first political rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-LABAN). He said he would utilize other resources from the government to reinforce the 4Ps program, mentioning the …

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Mar transitions from ‘Mr. Palengke’ to ‘Mr. Trabaho’

In the middle of the national campaign period, the camp of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, has shifted to the creation of more jobs as his main campaign slogan in an apparent attempt to simplify his economic platform message to the poor. In recent campaign sorties, some supporters of Roxas were seen wearing shirts printed with Roxas’ small caricature image and captioned: “Mr. Trabaho.” The new campaign slogan was also evident in his sorties in which Roxas held dialogues and discussions with labor sectors officials throughout the country, starting off with farmers and garments factory workers in Bulacan late last month. Earlier this month, Roxas met with weavers in Bohol, and workers of a shipbuilding company and furniture in Cebu. Last Saturday, he was with workers and executives of the …

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Poe won’t sport bathing suit, but will muscle up vs crime

Independent presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe has refused to wear a bathing suit to promote the country’s tourist spots because it might only affect her survey ranking, but is taking up the challenge to muscle up against crime. Poe, who remains the presidential survey frontrunner, was teased by her running mate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, to wear a swimsuit as part of the tourism campaign in promoting the Aguinid Falls in the coastal town of Samboan in Cebu last Saturday. “Teka muna ha. ‘Di ba, ang pakay natin tumaas tayo sa ranking? Huwag naman ninyo ako ipapakitang ganoon at hindi ako talaga magpapakitang ganoon. (But, wait. Is it that we aim is to increase our ranking? Don’t let me wear that because I won’t),” she said. Poe, instead, proposed to the Commission on …

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18 million ballots for OAV, ARMM have been printed

More than 18 million ballots for the May, 2016 polls have already been printed less than a month since printers started rolling at the National Printing Office in Quezon City. Atty. Genevieve Guevarra, head of the Commission on Elections Printing Committee, said as of 11 a.m. Saturday (March 5), the number of ballots already printed is at 18,102,545. "We are done printing the ballots for overseas absentee voting (OAV) and for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," she said in a text message. What are being printed now at the NPO, Guevarra said, are mostly the ballots for the other provinces in Mindanao. The Comelec earlier explained that the ballots for OAV, ARMM and far-flung areas will be printed first as these will be shipped first. The total number of ballots verified, on the other …

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