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National Newsbits for February 4,2014


The northeast monsoon, or hangin amihan, has not ended yet despite the warm weather in recent days, Jori Loiz senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services. The northeast monsoon, which is associated with cold weather, has only weakened which caused relatively hot days in some areas, Loiz said. “The northeast monsoon will not abruptly end. Its effects have just weakened but it will return in a few days. Only it will not be as cold as last month. The cold winds will still extend up to Northern Luzon but it may no longer extend up to Visayas,” Loiz said. He said the northeast monsoon may last until the second week of February to early March (Ellalyn B. De Vera)


Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has expressed hope that Hong Kong’s decision to remove visa-free access for dignitaries and government officials from the Philippines will not be extended to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). “I hope not. That would be saddening, I tell you,” Binay, Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns told reporters in Dipolog City last Sunday. The Vice President also said that he will reiterate his appeal to the Hong Kong government to reconsider their decision. Malacañang last Saturday said there are no plans to send Binay to Hong Kong to fix the issue. Starting February 5, Filipino government officials and diplomats will no longer be able to enter the Hong Kong without a visa. (JC Bello Ruiz)


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines will still be evaluated to see whether it can still be utilized in the May 2016. “What we are trying to do now is see if the machines are still in good condition. It is only realistic for them to suffer from wear and tear, which might necessitate the replacement of parts or, in some cases, replacement of entire units… Will the hardware be good enough for 2016? That is the question,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview. Comelec will wait for the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) to evaluate the machines, he said. Under the Poll Automation Law, the CAC is mandated to recommend “the most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost-effective technology” to be used by the Comelec during elections. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)


A Quezon City judge has dismissed the indirect contempt charge filed by Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the alleged masterminds in the “Maguindanao Massacre’’ case, against a private prosecutor. In a five-page decision Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) Branch 218 Judge Luis Zenon Maceren junked for lack of merit the contempt charge filed against lawyer Nena Santos. “Two Courts, (QC-RTC Branch 221 and 224), have also consistently held that there is nothing contemptuous about the statements made by Atty. Nena Santos,” Maceren’s decision stated. Ampatuan had complained that in news reports on the ambush of massacre witnesses published in two national dailies in 2010, Santos “surmised” this was meant to warn families of the victims and witnesses. Ampatuan said Santos’s statements painted him as the mastermind of the ambush. (Chito Chavez)