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National Newsbits for May 21, 2014

JUSTICE FOR BURNED OFW VOWED

Calling the incident “deplorable,” Vice President Jejomar C. Binay yesterday vowed justice for the Filipina household helper in Saudi Arabia who suffered burns all over her body after her employer’s mother allegedly poured boiling water on her. Pictures of the scalded body of the Filipina identified as Pahima Alagasi Palacasi had been circulating on social media. “Kalunos-lunos po ang dinanas ng ating kababayan. No person deserves to be treated that way. Kung mapapatunayan natin na minaltrato siya, magsasampa tayo ng kaso at sisiguraduhin natin na mabibigyan siya ng hustisya,” said Binay, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns. “I have already instructed the Special Concerns Unit of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to get updates on the case and pursue the necessary legal actions,” he said. (JC Bello Ruiz)

PAGASA SUFFERS MORE BRAIN DRAIN

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has lost three more experts to higher-paying jobs in Qatar. Philippine Weathermen Employees Association (PWEA) president Ramon Agustin said two weather forecasters and a communications engineer left last Sunday to work as airport forecasters and communications specialist at the Qatar’s Bureau of Meteorology. Those who left their jobs at the PAGASA were Bernie De Leon, a weather forecaster at the PAGASA main office; Ralph Ricahuerta, an airport forecaster assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport; and Engr. Ralph Soquila, a communications specialist at the PAGASA’s Engineering Division. Agustin said De Leon contributed significantly to the improvement of the rainfall warning system (RWS) of the agency. Ricahuerta was a dedicated forecaster at the Aviation Met Service in NAIA, while Soquila was a big factor in the maintenance of important facilities, like the Doppler radars and Met satellite. (Ellalyn B. De Vera)

X-RAY TECHNICIAN CLAIMS R18-M POT

A lucky bettor from Manila claimed last Monday the P18.8-million jackpot for the Mega Lotto 6/45 draw of April 28. According to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the lucky winner is a 55-year-old X-ray technician in Manila who placed a bet that matched the winning numbers of 17-19-21-32-39-43 for April 28 Mega Lotto draw. He received his winnings in the form of a check from PCSO Acting Chairman Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas. Married with four children, the winner had P40 bets using random numbers. He plans to renovate his house, invest in a business, and save the rest for his children. (Edd K. Usman)

KOREAN GROUP BAGS AIRPORT CONTRACT

A new world-class international airport will rise and operate in Puerto Princesa, Palawan by 2017. Korea’s Kumho Industrial Co. Ltd.-GS Engineering & Construction Joint Venture (Kumho-GS) bagged the $82.9-million contract to design and build the new Puerto Princesa International Airport. According to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), Kumho-GS Joint Venture will have 30 months to complete the project, which includes the construction of a new passenger terminal building, cargo terminal building, apron, connecting taxiways, a new air navigation system, and other support facilities. “The eco-tourism showcase that is Puerto Princesa, as well as the rest of Palawan, will soon have a modern, world-class airport which we can be as proud of as the destination itself. With beaches and other natural wonders attracting throngs of visitors from all over the globe, it will finally have a gateway that is befitting of its stature,” DoTC Secretary Joseph Abaya said. (Kris Bayos)

PDEA HOSTS ASEAN MEETING

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), in coordination with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, will host starting today the 4th ASEAN Airport Interdiction Task Force (AAITF) in Makati City. Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac Jr., PDEA director general, said the two-day meeting aims to unify inter-agency investigation and operation at international airports to effectively intercept the trafficking and transit of illegal drugs in the region. Cacdac said expected to attend the regional meeting are officials responsible for national interdiction operation representing the 10 ASEAN member countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the ASEAN Secretariat. (Francis T. Wakefield)