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National newsbits for March 7, 2014

Palace Mum On 2016 Bets

Malacañang remained mum on President Benigno S. Aquino’s pick for presidential bet in the 2016 elections even after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, an administration ally, declared his ambition to run for president in 2016. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said preparations for 2016 are not yet talked about in the administration. He said those who are qualified to run for presidency in 2016 may go forward with their plans. “Declaration of candidacy is the prerogative of those qualified to seek public office. This is not part of the administration’s current work program,” Coloma said. “With 848 days remaining until the end of the President’s term on June 30, 2016, the administration is intensely focused on implementing the vital reform programs under the Philippine Development Plan,” Coloma said. (Madel Sabater-Namit)

Lotto Pot NearsR100-M Mark

The jackpot for the Grand Lotto 6/55 is nearing the century mark after Wednesday’s draw did not yield a winner for its R90.4-million prize. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) said the March 5 Grand Lotto draw came up with the winning combination of 26-34-36-27-45-39. However, it said eight bettors matched at least five of the six winning numbers combination to win R185,260 each. A staff of PCSO General Manager Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II said the 6/55 jackpot for Saturday’s draw is projected at R96 million or more, depending on the sales of tickets. The Grand Lotto 6/55 paid out the Philippines’ biggest lotto jackpot of R741.17 million on Nov. 29, 2010 to a Filipino engineer working in the United States. (Edd K. Usman)

Chainsaws For Yolanda Rehab

The International Organization Migration (IOM) is set to distribute 500 chainsaws in three areas ravaged by typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas to boost rehabilitation efforts there. IOM said the chainsaws will be used to aid typhoon victims salvage millions of uprooted coconut trees in the region, which will be used for rebuilding affected communities in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte and Guiuan in Samar. The chainsaws, worth $370,000, were donated by a Swedish power tool company to IOM to aid typhoon victims. IOM said it will distribute the chainsaws with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Catholic Relief Services, Christian Aid, Oxfam International, People in Need and ZOA to selected beneficiaries this month. “This will address the enormous need for temporary shelter and permanent homes,” IOM said. Around four million individuals were left homeless by typhoon “Yolanda,” which destroyed 1.1 million houses. (Samuel Medenilla)

SHS Program Favoring Students

An official said the Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday denied “favoring” private schools on the implementation of the K-to-12 Program—particularly the Senior High School (SHS) Program which will be implemented nationwide starting 2016. DepEd Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Francis Varela told the Manila Bulletin that, contrary to the claims by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the Department is actually “favoring” the students by “giving them options which school to go to” with the implementation of the voucher system. “We are not favoring private schools, we are giving options to our students,” he said. The voucher system, Varela explained, aims to help students to exercise their right to choose: Whether to go to a public school or a private school when taking up the SHS. “It is not true that we are favoring the private schools and that the vouchers would be exclusive to private schools,” he said. “It will be offered to public school students so they can choose which option will be best for them,” he said. (Ina Hernando-Malipot)