Christmas Day fire displaces 285 families in Zamboanga City

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA) — One person died while four others were hospitalized when a more than two-hour fire hit a slum community in this city on Christmas Day.

Chief Inspector Clint Cha, district fire marshal, disclosed the fire broke out around 7:37 p.m. Sunday in Sitio Boholano, Barangay Camino Nuevo, this city.

Cha said the fire started in one of the houses and rapidly spread to nearby homes that are mostly made of light materials.

Investigators have yet to determine the origin of the fire that reached third alarm by 9:20 p.m. The firemen declared fire out around 11 p.m..

The lone fatality was identified as Romeo Ubat, 50, who failed to reach the hospital alive. The cause of his death has yet to be determined.

Hospitalized were Noel Ludin, Numeña Yabo, Rina Casas, and Mamino Briones.

Ludin and Yabo were hospitalized due to suffocation while Casas suffered abrasion and Briones sustained burns.

Damage to the structures was placed at PHP2 million.

City Hall Information Officer Belen Sheila Covarrubias said that 285 families with 1,101 dependents were affected by the fire based on the data gathered by the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).

Covarrubias said the CSWDO has immediately provided food and relief assistance to the fire victims.

Covarrubias said financial aid for the fire victims will come later after validation and recommendation of CSWDO.

The fire victims are temporarily sheltered at the Camino Nuevo Barangay Hall and covered court of nearby Barangay Canelar. (PNA)

Riding-in-tandem gunmen wounds soldier in Pagadian City

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA)– The police has been tasked to conduct an in-depth probe to identify and arrest the riding in tandem gunmen behind the attempted gun slay of a soldier in Pagadian city.

Senior Supt. Sofronio Ecaldre, Zamboanga del Sur police director, issued the order after he received the official report over the incident.

Ecaldre identified the victim as Pfc. Leve Andrade, a resident of Barangay Tagolo, Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur.

Andrade, 34, is an Army Scout Ranger assigned in the province of Sulu

Ecaldre said Andrade was shot and wounded by one of two men aboard a motorcycle around 2 a.m. Friday along the highway in Barangay Tiguma, Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur province.

Ecaldre said investigation showed that Andrade was driving motorcycle on the way home when shot once by the riding in tandem suspect who tailed the victim.

He said they received information that the shooter, armed with a caliber .45 pistol, was clad in white sleeveless shirt and short pants at the time of the incident.

He said Andrade was hospitalized in Pagadian City. (PNA)

SEC-Zamboanga advises public to be prudent in buying shares of stock in hospitals

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 24 (PNA) — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) here has advised the public to exercise prudence in dealing with any individuals or groups of persons selling shares of stock in hospitals.

Lawyer Jesus Salvador Uro, SEC-Zamboanga Extension Office director, issued the advised after his office was informed about several individuals or groups of persons have been offering or “pre-selling” securities to the public in the form of shares of stock in hospitals currently under construction in this city.

Uro said the information further showed that these shares of stock allegedly grant the purchaser certain hospital benefits to attract investors.

These include but not limited to waived or discounted operating Room fees; free or discounted private room, ward and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) accommodations; discounts on use of ICU equipment, medicines, medical supplies and other merchandise; and, discount on hospital services as well as Out-Patient and In-Patient cases rates.

Uro said these shares of stock being offered are within the definition of “securities” under Section 3.1 of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC) and are required under Section 8 of SRC to be registered with the SEC before being offered or sold to the general public.

He urged the public who has knowledge or information about any transaction involving securities to report to the SEC so that appropriate measures can be taken. (PNA)

BSP-Zamboanga reiterates reminders on demonetization of NDS currency

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 22 (PNA) — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has reiterated its reminder to the public on the demonetization of the old currency otherwise known as the New Design Series (NDS).

Vicente Celestial, BSP-Zamboanga deputy director, on Wednesday said that the NDS banknote would be fully demonetized or without monetary value starting January 1, 2017.

Celestial said the holders of NDS banknotes have only until December 29 to surrender or exchange the old currency, since that day is the last working day for 2016.

Celestial said the public may continue to use the old banknotes up to December 31 in paying and buying of goods and services and other business or financial transactions requiring the use of cash.

“Thereafter, these old banknotes will no longer be accepted for payment transactions,” he added.

Celestial said the holders of NDS can exchange their old banknotes with the New Generation Currency (NGC) in any of the universal and commercial banks, thrift banks, and rural as well as cooperative banks.

Celestial said they may also opt to exchange their old banknotes with the BSP or any of its regional offices or branches around the country.

He said the demonetization process of the old banknotes is in line with the provisions of Section 57 of Republic Act No. 7653, otherwise known as the New Central Bank Act, which authorizes the BSP to replace banknotes that are more than five years old.

He added that the old banknotes or NDS have been in circulation for almost three decades.

This means that the NGC banknotes, the new currency, introduced in December 2010 will result in the circulation of a single currency series in the country.

He said the NGC have more and enhanced security features to protect the safety of the public against counterfeiters.

Meanwhile, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) abroad, who have in their possession old banknotes which could not be exchanged within the prescribed period, may register online until December 31 through the BSP website.

Celestial said the old banknotes that are in the possession of OFWs may be exchanged with the BSP within one year from the date of registration. (PNA)

14 Zambo drug surrenderers finish 3-month DUTERTE program

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 22 (PNA) — Fourteen drug surrenderers graduated on Thursday from a three-month Drug Users Technical Education, Rehabilitation and Treatment Enhancement (DUTERTE) program of the government-owned Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) here.

The graduates of the DUTERTE program consist of 11 males and three females from Barangay Tetuan and other areas of this city.

DUTERTE is a nine-module program which are as follows: why are we here?; how I knew things were going out of control; phases of the program; my trainees strength and weaknesses; my family’s strength and weaknesses; my feelings towards my love one; what is tough love?; my role in the treatment process; and lapse and relapse.

Dr. Casto Germino Jr., who conceptualized the DUTERTE program, said that the program also includes detoxification of the patients, if needed.

Germino, ZCMC’s psychiatry department head, said the objective of the program is to provide community-oriented substance abuse assessment, treatment, rehabilitation, education and relapse prevention among drug users who surrendered to the government.

He said they would continue to monitor the graduates of the programs and will be given aftercare to include random drug test as drug dependency is a lifelong struggle and “there are still chances of relapse.”

He said the next DUTERTE program, which was pilot-tested in Barangay Tetuan, would be held for drug surrenderers coming from Barangays Sta. Catalina and Sta. Maria.

The facilitators of the DUTERTE program included 10 barangay health workers and 11 former drug dependents. (PNA)

Zamboanga Sibugay releases PhP 6.8-M BNS, BHWs incentives

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IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay, Dec. 22 (PNA) — The provincial government has released PhP 6.8-million representing payment of incentives to the Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) and Barangay Health Workers (BHW) of this province.

Zamboanga Sibugay province, which consists of 16 municipalities with 389 barangays, has 641 BNS and 1,650 BHWs for a total of 2,291 personnel rendering voluntary services up to the remotest areas.

Based on the 2015 census, the province has a population of 633,129.

Each of the 2,291 BNS and BHWs received PhP 3,000 each as incentive this year.

Governor Wilter Palma headed the release of the incentives to the BNS and BHWs during a program held on Wednesday at the provincial capitol.

Palma lauded the BNS and BHWs for the sacrifice and diligent delivery of basic health and nutrition services they rendered in the remote areas of the province.

Palma said the province has been conferred the Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN) Award on December 13 by the Department of Health (DOH) as a result of the excellent delivery of health and nutrition services by the BNS and BHWs.

This year’s CROWN Award is the third this province had received since 2013.

Palma has pledged to increase to PhP5,000 next year the incentives of the BNS and BHWs in recognition to their excellent efforts of volunteerism.

The BNS was activated through Presidential Decree 1569 promulgated in 1978.

Palma noted that P.D. 1569, which was never amended, has been overtaken by time in terms of benefits since it only provides PhP 120 allowance from the national coffers and PhP 150 incentive from the local government units to each of the BNS.

The BHW is funded by government through Republic Act 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers’ Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995.

Each of them is entitled to benefits and incentives for the voluntary service they render in the community based on R.A. 7883.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga Sibugay 1st District Representative Wilter Palma II said he is filing a bill in Congress to ensure the protection and to increase the benefits of the BNS and BHWs.

The younger Palma, a lawyer like his father, stressed that both BNS and BHWs serves as the health caretakers of the “common tao” in the far-flung areas despite their meager benefits. (PNA)

Yahoo: data from 1-B user accounts stolen

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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 15 (PNA/Xinhua) — Yahoo! Inc. said Tuesday it has identified “data security issues” concerning more than one billion Yahoo user accounts.

The breach, additional to what was revealed in September, that 500 million Yahoo accounts were exposed, was initial found by law enforcement, which provided the company with data files that a third party claimed was Yahoo user data.

Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Northern California, analyzed the data with the assistance of outside forensic experts and found that it appears to be Yahoo user data. And further analysis prompted Yahoo to believe that an unauthorized third party stole the data in August 2013.

For affected accounts, it said, the stolen user account information did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information, but may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.

The technology company, a pioneer in the early years of the Information Technology (IT) age, acknowledged that it has not been able to identify the intrusion associated with the theft. (PNA/Xinhua)

Volvo Cars joins Uber’s self-driving pilot in San Francisco

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STOCKHOLM, Dec. 15 (PNA/Xinhua) — Volvo Cars joins the ride-sharing technology company Uber in expanding the latter’s self-driving pilot to San Francisco, California, a press release from Volvo Cars said on Wednesday.

The company said that the pilot will be using “specially-converted self-driving Volvo XC90 premium SUVs”, which have been built by Volvo and sold to Uber.

The XC90 cars will then be rigged with Uber’s own self-driving hardware and software package.

“The promise of self-driving ride-sharing is becoming a reality,” said Marten Levenstam, vice president product planning at Volvo Cars.

“Volvo is proud to be at the forefront of the latest developments in the automotive world alongside our partners at Uber.”

The move marks the next phase in a deepening alliance between Volvo and Uber after the two companies signed an agreement in August 2016 to establish a jointly-owned project to build base vehicles that can be used to develop fully autonomous driverless cars, the company said.

Volvo Cars, which was acquired by Chinese automaker Geely in 2010, employs nearly 29,000 people worldwide. (PNA/Xinhua)

Lorenzana to meet with ranking Chinese officials to discuss firearms deal

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By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Dec. 13 (PNA) — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he is scheduled to meet with ranking Chinese officials on Monday (Dec. 19) to discuss the People’s Republic of China’s willingness to provide firearms to the country.

These officials are Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua and the Chinese Defense attache.

Lorenzana said the meeting is to determine what type of firearms China is willing to provide to the country

“If it’s already available, we will look into it and see if we need it,” he added.

The DND chief also said he sees no problem for Filipino troops in handling Chinese firearms especially if it etched with Chinese characters.

“(Firearms are) mechanical. One doesn’t need to read the guide to operate it. All you have to do is operate it manually. That will not be a problem,” Lorenzana added.

With regards to quality, the DND chief said they will know it once they see the weapons first hand. (PNA)

President Duterte leads oath taking of federalism advocates, pushes for end to unitary setup

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MANILA, Dec. 13 (PNA) — President Rodrigo Duterte led the oath-taking Monday of the officials of People’s National Movement to Federalism Advocacy (PENAMFED) encouraging them to immediately work on a strong federal system of government, which he said would solve the country’s problems particularly Mindanao separatism.

“I’d like to thank you for showing the interest and keeping alive the spirit of federalism,” the President said in his speech during the event.

“There can never be peace especially in Mindanao if you do not grant them a certain amount of — much more than just a local autonomy,” he added.

Muslim Filipinos are already receptive of the federal system of government, he said noting the country must take advantage of it and end the unitary form of government.

The President said he wanted a three-year timeline in having a law that will pave the way to federalism in the Philippines.

He said he is willing to step down and oversee a clean and honest election as long as lawmakers and federalism advocates craft such set up.

He brushed off accusations that he wants to perpetuate himself in power.

Under the current system, Duterte said the election of a Philippine president is controlled by the moneyed elites to sustain their interests.

He has less political baggage, he said, compared to other candidates.

In the case of Mindanao, he said territories there are ruled by powerful political clans through money and private armies also lamenting that illegal drugs have also crept into the system.

Manila-based political leaders support these warlords during elections, exacerbating the situation calling it as some of the “injustices” under the unitary type of government.

“But then, sabi ko sa inyo, unless we break this monopoly and money and guns, wala. We will remain in the rot of things,” the President said. (PNA)