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National Newsbits for May 7, 2014

Our Lady of Manaoag feast

Marian devotees celebrate today the Feast of Our Lady of Manaoag, one of the most popular and well venerated images of the Blessed Mother. Traditionally observed on the third Wednesday after Easter, a novena and a solemn feast mass will be held at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine in Manaoag, Pangasinan at 4 p.m. Hourly masses will be held starting at 5 a.m. Novena masses were held from April 28 to May 6. Long lines of devotees wanting to touch the image’s mantle at the center of the altar, which is believed to have healing powers, are expected as the celebration coincides with the pilgrimage season which lasts until the end of the month. The image of Our Lady of Manaoag was canonically crowned by the Papal Nuncio on April 24, 1926. (Christina I. Hermoso)


LWUA execs told: Return money

The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered department managers of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) to return to the government some P13.1 million representing unauthorized extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (EME) reimbursed to them in 2006. In a decision, the SC upheld the notice of disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) on reimbursements for EME that were not covered by receipts and other documents. LWUA officials challenged the Notice of Disallowance No. 09-001-GF (06) but the case was denied by COA. When the case reached the Court of Appeals (CA), the appellate court upheld COA prompting LWUA officials to elevate the issue before the SC. (Rey Panaligan)


BIR reshuffling tax examiners

Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares started yesterday the nationwide reshuffle of the 4,000 tax examiners and collectors, with an initial batch of 57 based in Northern Luzon the first to go. Majority of the field men have overstayed in their current assignments for more than three years.  Others were facing internal probe for allegedly committing serious offenses like extortion and harassment. They were transferred from one province to another within Revenue Region No. 1 based in Calasio, Pangasinan. More revenue officers in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao are also expected to be moved within the next few months, informed sources said. (Jun Ramirez)


Fewer families claim poverty

The number of Filipino families who claimed they are poor has declined slightly in the last three months, results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed. The nationwide survey found that 53 percent, equivalent to 11.5 million households, felt they are poor. This is lower than the 55 percent or 11.8 million families that claimed they are poor in December 2013. The results of the survey conducted last March 27-30 were first published in BusinessWorld last Tuesday (May 6).  Likewise, SWS noted a decrease in the number of Filipino families that claimed they are food-poor at 39 percent, equivalent to 8.5 million households, from 41 percent or 8.8 million families three months ago. (Ellalyn de Vera)


Comelec satisfied with good turnout

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday said there was a good turnout of applicants seeking to be registered as voters for the May 2016 polls. “We do not have any actual figures with us right now yet but based on reports we have been receiving, it appears that across the board, there are a lot of people going to local Comelec offices,” Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said.  “We hope we can sustain this interest so we can register as many as possible,” said Jimenez, who was in Laoag City in Ilocos Norte yesterday for the kick off the WALKAH WALKAH project of the poll body. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)