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National Newsbits for July 31, 2014

SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA FEAST

Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara will celebrate a high mass at 5 p.m. today at the St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Ususan, Taguig City in commemoration of the Feast of Saint Ignatius (San Ignacio) of Loyola, the founder and first superior general of the Society of Jesus (SJ), one of the largest religious orders in the world. Festivities will also be held in Torrijos, Marinduque; Manay, Davao Oriental; Tetuan, Zamboanga City; Esperanza, Agusan del Sur; and in Culion, Palawan. Known as the patron of soldiers and spiritual retreats, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said St. Ignatius was “above all a man of God who gave the first place of his life to God.  (Christina I. Hermoso)

NOBODY NOTICED WALKOUT – SPEAKER

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. yesterday discouraged the filing of an ethics complaint against Makabayan bloc members who staged a walk out during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). “I will discourage the filing of ethics complaint. Nobody even noticed it or cared,” he said in an interview after Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo cited the possibility of having the incident looked into by the House Committee on Ethics. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III and Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello said there nothing wrong with the walkout. “It is absurd to investigate that incident. It is their right,” Albano said. (Charissa M. Luci)

SOTTO WITHDRAWS RESOLUTION

Acting Senate Minority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III and Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II withdrew yesterday Senate Resolution 798 expressing the “Sense of the Senate” that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla Jr. should continue to de detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial  center in Quezon City while undergoing trial on plunder and anti-graft charges before the Sandiganbayan. Honasan and Sotto, both members of the six-man Senate minority bloc led by Enrile, said they withdrew their resolution because it might be misinterpreted as an outright interference in the judicial process. (Mario B. Casayuran)

COMELEC SEEKING P36-B BUDGET

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is seeking a P36 billion budget for 2015. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they submitted their budget proposal to Malacanang for inclusion in the national budget for 2015. However, Brillantes expects the Comelec budget to be slashed. “I don’t think they’ll give us that. More or less, I think they’ll just give us half,” he said. But a P15 billion to P18 billion budget will only be enough to fund preparations for the May 2016 polls, Brillantes said. “It’s okay if they will give us P15 billion as long as they don’t give us plebiscites, recall elections, people’s initiative, and others. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

EU UPS DEV’T ASSISTANCE

The European Union has increased development assistance to the Philippines to €325-million (roughly P18.9 billion) due to the country’s strong economic growth and credit rating upgrade. This was announced by visiting EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton during a joint press briefing with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in Makati City. “We’ve had a strong relationship when it comes to cooperation of development and we will more than double our bilateral assistance up to €325 million for the next six years,” said Ashton. (Roy C. Mabasa)