BY ED LIBRANDA

STRAIGHT TALK

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More Congressional Investigations During Election Season

Filipino voters have watched Congressional inquiries, especially in the Senate where Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the BlueRibbon Committee, is currently investigating the government’s purchase of allegedly overpriced medical supplies for the pandemic response.


The Department of Health (DOH), through the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM), purchased allegedly overpriced medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

 

The company bagged over P8.6 billion worth of contracts from the government in 2020 despite having a paid-up capital of just P625,000 and being incorporated only in 2019.


Gordon is reportedly planning to run for vice president, the same post that President Rodrigo Duterte said he would run for in the 2022 polls. Duterte has recently accepted the endorsement of one of the two warring factions of PDP-Laban.


The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was recently ousted by the rival camp led by Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquino Pimentel III. Pacquiao’s group questioned the legality of the election of Duterte and Cusi as party chairman and president, respectively.


Why is Pimentel keen on pushing the presidential ambition of Pacquiao? Is there a special relationship between them? It appears that their camp is up to something for the 2022 elections.


I just can't understand why the boxer-turned senator from Mindanao has questioned the moral ascendancy of the head of the ruling party?

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ODDS AND ENDS

By AARON RONQUILLO

Metro Manila to remain under MECQ until Sept 15

THE National Capital Region (NCR) and selected areas of the Philippines will remain under Modified Community Quarantine (MECQ) until September 15, according to the Interagency Taskforce (IATF).


Originally, the NCR was supposed to shift to the less stringent General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on September 8 but implementing a granular lockdown system that would put specific places ― whether it is a street or a neighborhood―under strict lockdown.


According to Palace spokesman Harry Roque, Jr., Metro Manila will stay under MECQ from September 8 to 15 or until the pilot GCQ with granular lockdowns is implemented, "whichever comes first."


Under MECQ, operations and personal care services, such as beauty salons, beauty parlors, and nail spas, among others, will remain prohibited. Dining establishments, from restaurants to roadside carinderias, are still allowed to offer dine-in though takeout and deliveries are allowed.
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OPINION

WOMAN POWER UNLEASHED

By Freddie Rabelas Obligacion, Ph.D., MBA, MA, BS (magna cum laude)

After Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III delivered his final state-of-the-nation address in July 2015, Philippine Senator Grace L. Poe, had this to say in an interview: “All of the important and key [officials in his administration] who come out with tough decisions are women. So I am grateful to the President for seeing the potential and courage of a woman.”

Senator Poe’s remark reflects incontrovertible evidence presented by an NBC Universal-sponsored study on the modern Asian woman, “The high-heeled warriors.” 

This research notes that Southeast Asian women account for 32 percent of senior management roles, easily surpassing the 21 percent global statistic. Asian women’s prominent status extends to the home where 31 percent of them are chief income earners and heads of household.

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Federal Judge Blocks USCIS Fee Increase

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A U.S. District Court judge blocked the USCIS fee increase that was to take place starting October 2, 2020. The fee increase would’ve affected every business, organization, and individual that uses USCIS’s services.

Why Was the USCIS Fee Increase Blocked?
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the motion for a preliminary injunction filed by eight non-profit organizations. The non-profit organizations that provide a variety of “services benefitting low-income applicants for immigration benefits.” Judge Jeffrey S. White stated four reasons he granted the injunction.

The plaintiffs would likely prevail in their case where they argue the current head of the Department of Homeland Security was not legally appointed and therefore had no authority to implement the rule.
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BUSINESS

With PAL getting a lifeline, CAAP
to collect P 570M


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Philippine Airlines chairman Lucio Tan speaking at the unveiling of PAL's Airbus A319-100 in 2006. AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES


By Jonathan Burgos Contributor. FORBES, Aug. 23, 2021

MANILA — Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:08 AM September 13, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — With Philippine Airlines (PAL) given access to an initial $20-million financing from its bankruptcy filing, the government plans to collect a total of P570 million in receivables that the flag carrier owed from landing fees.

Citing a report from Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez told reporters that PAL had yet to pay the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) an outstanding obligation amounting to P373 million, on top of PAL Express’ P197 million.

“Moving forward, PAL and PAL Express committed to making current all their obligations to CAAP, incurred from July 2021 onwards,” Tugade was quoted by Dominguez as saying.
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Hotels opening biggest sale on Sept. 15

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora  September 7, 2021, 7:09 pm PNA
   

MANILA – The hotel sector's biggest online travel sale is returning on September 15 to help revive the hard-hit tourism industry affected by the ongoing pandemic.

In a virtual presser on Tuesday, the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) said SOS or the September Online Sale will run from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, 2021, with "bigger promotions and discounts" in at least 80 hotels nationwide.

This year's SOS will offer various hotel vacation and food & beverage packages at as much as 70 percent off and can be accessed by visiting the HSMA website on the official launch.
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Vaccinated 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19

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September 9, 2021, 2:57 pm PNA
   

BERLIN – Vaccinated people are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than those who are unvaccinated, Germany’s top health expert said on Wednesday.

Professor Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said vaccines continue to offer strong protection against Covid-19, despite the emergence of new variants such as the Delta strain.

“The risk of hospitalization due to Covid-19 is 10 times less likely among vaccinated people compared to those who are unvaccinated,” he told a news conference in Berlin.
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SEPT. 13 - 20, 2021

Duterte Daughter Denies Philippine Succession Interest as Expectation Rises
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives with daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio to attend the enthronement ceremony of Japan's Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan October 22, 2019. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS

 

By Reuters, Sept. 9, 2021, at 6:01 a.m., By Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA, Philippines — The daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday she would not run for higher office in next year's general election, a remark that did little to dampen speculation that she has her eye on the presidency.


Sara Duterte-Carpio, 43, mayor of Davao City, has topped all opinion polls this year on preferred candidates for the top post and has given mixed signals about the possibility of running.

Her father is barred by the constitution from seeking a second term, but on Wednesday he accepted his PDP-Laban party's nomination https://reut.rs/3nhkhmQ to run in the vice-presidential contest.
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LIST: PDP-Laban faction’s initial Senate slate for 2022 polls

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• Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, • Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, • Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, • Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

• Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Greco Belgica, • Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, • Public Works Secretary Mark Villar  and • Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque
 

By CNN Philippines Staff, Published Sep 8, 2021, 9:37:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines — A faction within the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) revealed on Wednesday its initial senatorial slate for the upcoming 2022 polls.

The list includes Cabinet members of President Rodrigo Duterte — whom the ruling party officially endorsed as its vice presidential bet — and some House lawmakers.

Here are the personalities nominated by the PDP-Laban group led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi:

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FEATURE STORY

DAREDEVIL ANGELS OF AFRICA

BY ANTHONY G. CHALONER FAUSTINO. JULY 31, 2021

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CAPT RODOLFO "RUDY" PETICAN

Originally from Baguio City, Capt. Rudy graduated from Baguio Colleges Foundation. He first joined the Philippine Air Force after he graduated from the Philippine Military Academy as a member of class 1975 and later got his military pilot’s wings after graduated as a member of class 1976B from the PAF Flying School in Lipa City, Batangas.

 

He served for 13 years with the 220th Airlift Wing at Mactan flying C-130 transports ferrying troops and supplies all over the Philippines.

“We stayed at Mactan Air Base after our marriage from 1981-1988,” said his wife Rosie Docdocil-Petican, a lumad Kagay-anon. “We settled back in Cagayan de Oro in 1988 when Rudy was already hired by TransAfrik based in Angola, Africa.”

 

He next worked for Philippine Air Lines flying the Hawker Siddeley HS-748 aircraft, then went on to help Aboitiz Air Cargo organize their C-130 fleet operations.
 

TransAfrik is a private airfreight company owned by a German national that specialized in ferrying supplies to risky combat zones in Africa. For many years it has performed relief flights for relief organizations such as Caritas, Red Cross, UNICEF, Lutheran World Federation, and Care International.

It has also conducted several refugee evacuations (including logistics supplies and medical evacuations) from war zones in coordination with humanitarian organizations, as well as various worldwide operations for United Nations Forces (i.e. UNAVEM 1 & 2, MONUA in Angola, UNSCOM in Somalia, UNTAC in Cambodia and now MONUC in Congo). Many of these operations have involved logistic supplies and medical evacuations.

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Duterte threatens to halt govt deals with Philippine Red Cross, pushes for COA audit anew

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By CNN Philippines Staff, Published Sep 11, 2021, 5:32:27 PM


MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has warned he will stop government transactions with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) if the humanitarian agency refuses to submit itself to a state audit.

In an address aired on Saturday, Duterte said he will ask PRC chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, to “open up their records” — or else the government will “disassociate” with the organization.

“So in the coming days, I will write you a letter, to open up your records… Kung ayaw mo, mapipilitan akong (If you refuse, I will be forced) [to] totally disassociate with you,” Duterte said.


“I will stop the government, the national government and all, from having transactions with you, in any manner. Hindi ako magbigay ng pera sa iyo (I won’t give you any funds). As far as I’m concerned, Red Cross does not exist. Either you submit an auditing procedure or we quarrel,” he added.
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Ombudsman wants jail time for critics of SALNs

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TOUGH VS DISCLOSURE Ombudsman Samuel Martires (top screen at right) faces the house appropriations committee hearing on his agency’s 2022 budget on Thursday. —HOUSE SCREENGRAB

By: Nestor Corrales - Reporter / @NCorralesINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:30 AM September 10, 2021
 

MANILA, Philippines  — Ombuds-man Samuel Martires on Thursday pushed for tough penalties, including jail time of five years, on anyone who would comment on the statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) of government officials and employees, claiming that these public documents were being weaponized to destroy people’s reputations.

Martires made the remarks during a hearing on the proposed P3.967 billion 2022 budget for the Office of the Ombudsman after he was asked by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate when he would release President Duterte’s SALN.
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Eased restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals pushed by NCR mayors

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By: Zacarian Sarao - @inquirerdotnetINQUIRER.net / 06:06 PM September 09, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Metro Manila Council (MMC) on Thursday released a resolution urging the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) to ease COVID-19 restrictions for fully-vaccinated individuals in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Under the unanimously approved Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Resolution No. 21-19, all Metro Manila mayors urged the IATF to “consider the easing of the COVID-19 guidelines for fully-vaccinated individuals in the NCR subject to the conduct of an inter-agency and inter-disciplinary study to determine the appropriate policy therefore based on scientific and empirical evidence.”

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NEWS AT A GLANCE

COA can audit PRC on subsidies given by gov’t entities like PCSO

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Published September 9, 2021, 6:54 PM, by Jeffrey Damicog MB


MANILA, Philippines —Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday, Sept. 9, said the Commission on Audit (COA) can conduct an audit of the subsidy or equity the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) receives from the government like those given by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

In a reply to a query posed by journalists covering the Department of Justice (DOJ), Guevarra said:

“Under the Constitution, the COA has the power to examine on a post-audit basis all accounts pertaining to the expenditure or use of fund by any non-governmental entity receiving SUBSIDY or EQUITY, directly or indirectly, from or through the government. The Philippine Red Cross is one such entity receiving subsidy or equity from the government through the instrumentality of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.”

 

With his statement, Guevarra affirmed Malacanang’s position that the COA can conduct a special audit of the PRC which is chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon.

 

The issue of the special audit was raised following the verbal tussle between President Duterte and Gordon.
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NBI sues PDEA, QCPD members

in shootout

By Benjamin Pulta  September 6, 2021, 8:06 pm PNA
   

 

MANILA – Various charges, including homicide and robbery, were filed Monday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) involved in a shootout last February 24 at a parking lot in a Commonwealth Avenue mall.

A statement issued by the office of Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said the charges filed before the Special Cases Division were for homicide, attempted homicide, direct assault, robbery, falsification of documents, and conniving or consenting to evasion.

The incident was initially declared a mi encounter but later turned out to be a botched anti-drug operation allegedly due to non-coordination between the QCPD and PDEA.

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Internet voting for overseas voters being eyed in 2025 polls

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Published September 8, 2021, 12:34 PM,  MB by Leslie Ann Aquino

MANILA, Philippines —The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is eyeing the use of the internet voting system for overseas voters in the 2025 polls.

“As you know, Congress has to pass a law to make this possible… It’s impossible to use this in 2022,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in an online press briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 8, for the internet voting test run with the one offered by service provider Voatz, Inc.

“If these test runs are efficient, effective, and cost-efficient, we will recommend to the Comelec en banc that we request Congress to pass a law to use the mobile voting app in the future. We are looking at 2025,” she added.

“If this test is successful, I have no doubt that the senators and congressmen will fully support mobile voting app in the future,” said Guanzon.

Overseas voting is being conducted either personally or by mail.

 

The commissioner-in-charge of the Comelec – Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) believes having mobile app voting in the future for overseas voters will save the Comelec and the national government a lot of money.
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Political terrorist ‘Joma’ must go home: groups

By Lade Jean Kabagani  March 27, 2021, 5:21 pm PNA
   

 

MANILA – Anti-communist groups on Saturday said sending home Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison will halt the atrocities by communist terrorist groups (CTGs) as they renewed their call to the Dutch government to terminate his asylum status in the Netherlands.

In a joint statement, the League of Parents of the Philippines and Liga Independencia Pilipinas said the termination of Sison's asylum status may curtail the attacks by the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.

They insisted that the 82-year-old Sison is not a political refugee but a "political terrorist”.

"We appeal to the Netherlands Government to expel Joma Sison together with his co-terrorists," the groups’ READ MORE
 

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