New ethics complaint filed vs De Lima

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MANILA, Dec. 12 (PNA) — House leaders on Monday filed another ethics complaint against Sen. Leila de Lima for barring former security aide and alleged drug money bagman Ronnie Dayan from appearing before the congressional probe into illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

The complaint, which is considered to be the third, was personally brought by Rep. Reynaldo Umali to the office of Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.

However, the complaint was drafted by Umali, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Umali said that filing the ethics complaint simply meant that De Lima, former Justice Secretary, has been “violating the law, violating the rules of congress, and violating her oath as a public (official).”

“Premises considered, for violating (Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code); the Rules of the Congress, of which she is a sitting member, her Oath of Office as a Senator of the Republic; and her disrespect for a co-equal chamber which she called a kangaroo court, the corresponding disciplinary measures must be imposed to penalize Senator De Lima for her unethical acts, conduct and behavior,” the complaints read.

Umali further described De Lima’s advising and inducing Dayan to hide as “tantamount to inducing disobedience to a summon issued by the Congress.”

“As a Senator, Secretary of Justice and a lawyer. When she advised or induced Dayan to hide and not to attend the House inquiry, we felt that she violated not only the rules but the law which is Article 150 of the Reversed Penal Code which is disobedience to a summon,” Umali said.

The same complaint also asked the Senate Ethics Committee to discipline De Lima in accordance with the Rules of the Senate.

Sotto, in a separate interview, told reporters that that De Lima could only face expulsion from the Senate if four out of the seven-member Senate Ethics Committee would vote for her expulsion.

He further said that the complaint will need two-third vote from the Senate plenary for De Lima’s expulsion.

He said that he will give his members a copy of the complaint. However, doubted that hearings could be conducted before the Senate goes on a Christmas break on Dec. 17. (PNA)

Palace maintains ‘wait-and-see’ stance of future of BPOs in PHL

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By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Dec. 12 (PNA) — Malacanang said on Monday that it is too early to speculate on the future of the American business process outsourcing (BPOs) in the Philippines under the leadership of US President-elect Donald Trump.

Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar made this reaction amid concerns that American BPOs might pull out of the Philippines following threats of ‘retribution’ by Trump against US companies that continue to outsource their operations and services.

“The statement of President-elect Trump on US companies that continue to outsource their operations and services is not a policy set in stone,” Andanar said in a press statement.

“We cannot speculate on the future of American BPOs in the Philippines until President-elect Trump takes his oath of office and spells out his policies,” he added.

Andanar said US President Barack Obama had similarly appealed to American BPOs to conduct their operations back in the US “but his call fell on deaf ears.”

He said American BPOs opted to stay in the Philippines because it is more viable to do business in the country.

“They would have less operating expenses. In the US, workers are paid per hour. In the Philippines, workers are paid per day,” Andanar said.

Andanar also the shift in the structure of the work force of the information technology-BPO sector in the country is another factor considered by the foreign BPOs to stay in the Philippines.

“It is expected that the sector will cater to more complicated requirements as the industry plans to climb the value chain from the traditional voice and IT services to animation, game development and healthcare information. We hope we can capitalize on this where the Philippines has a competitive advantage,” Andanar said.

“It is for this reason that the Duterte Administration included in its 10-Point Agenda; one, investment in human capital development, including match skills and training, and two, promotion of science, technology and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity,” he added.

The country’s IT-BPO sector had about 1.2 million employees as of 2015, expecting around 225,000 new jobs and USD25 billion revenue this year, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). (PNA)

10 bandits killed, 6 wounded in ongoing anti-ASG operations in Sulu

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By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Dec. 12 (PNA) — Ten Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists have been reported killed and another six wounded in the ongoing focused military operations in Sulu which started in the morning of Dec. 10.

Updates forwarded by the Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Filemon Tan on Monday indicated that ongoing pursuit operations against the terror group, backed by artillery and air bombardment have so far killed 10 of the ASG and wounding six.

These figures are based on civilian reports and other intelligence sources.

Tan said that pursuit operations are still ongoing as of this posting.

Fighting at Bud Taming, Barangay Kabbontakas, Patikul erupted 10 a.m. Saturday after patrol elements of the 35th Infantry Battalion encountered around 150 ASG terrorists reportedly headed by Radullan Sahiron, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Yasser Igasan and Mujer Yadah, triggering a two-hour firefight which initially killed three troopers and wounded 21 others, 17 of whom were hit by shrapnel.

Wounded government troopers were immediately taken to the Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City for treatment.(PNA)

TESDA sets Dec. 16 summit in Zamboanga City

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 13 (PNA) — The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is holding a one day summit on comprehensive reform and development agenda (CRDA) in this city.

The summit, which is scheduled to be held on Friday, December 16, is for partners of TESDA and other stakeholders from this city and the nearby province of Zamboanga Sibugay.

TESDA Regional Director Lorenzo Macapili on Tuesday said the summit is to firm up and concretize the specific structure and economic program and projects that will be implemented from 2016 to 2022 to uplift the peoples’ socio-economic conditions in the region.

Macapili said the summit would be attended by at least 200 representatives from the local government units, civil society organizations, people’s organizations, national government agencies, industry groups, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) associations, academe, regional and provincial Technical Education and Skills Development Committees, media partners and other stakeholders are expected to participate the one-day summit.

Macapili said the daylong activity would be held at the city government-owned Centro Latino Convention Center in Paseo del Mar, this city.

He said that TESDA Director-General Guiling Mamondiong and other TESDA officials will grace the summit. (PNA)

Solon files bill creating 2nd District Engineering Office for Zamboanga City

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Dec. 13 (PNA) — House Bill No. 4570 entitled “An Act Creating a Separate District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the First Legislative District of Zamboanga City and Appropriating Funds Therefor” has been filed before the House of Representatives.

First District Representative Celso Lobregat, who authored the measure, on Tuesday said that H.B. 4570 has been considered on first reading on Monday and was referred to the House Committee on Public Works and Highways, which he also chairs.

Lobregat said the creation of a new and separate District Engineering Office (DEO), which is to be erected in Barangay Calarian here is necessary to ensure more efficient and effective management, maintenance and implementation of public works projects.

The existing DEO of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) located in Barangay Divisoria caters to all the infrastructure needs of the entire city.

Lobregat said that maintaining a single DEO which simultaneously serves the needs of two legislative districts is no longer viable considering the development and land area of this city. He noted that a separate DEO for this city is now necessary.

Furthermore, Lobregat said the budget and number of projects of DPWH for this city has doubled since 2014.

The DPWH requires new engineering districts to have at least 100 kilometers of national roads, 100 square kilometers land area, and a population of 250,000, among other factors.

Lobregat said all the requirements have been substantially met by this city.

Based on the 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Zamboanga City has a population of 861,799 making it the 6th largest city in the country in terms of population.

In terms of land area, Zamboanga City ranks as the 3rd largest city in the country with a total land area of 1,483.38 square kilometers.

Lobregat said this city far exceeds the minimum requirement of population and land area for the creation of a new DEO.

Once enacted into law, Lobregat said the DPWH secretary shall immediately include in the agency’s program the funds necessary for the implementation of H.B. 4570, once enacted into a law, which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

He said this will include the position of a new district engineer and a minimum plantilla compliment of engineers and administrative staff members. (PNA)

3 troops killed in Sulu encounter

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MANILA, Dec. 11 (PNA) — A total of three troops were killed while 17 others were wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands in Sulu Saturday morning.

In a statement Sunday, Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) spokesperson Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., said the encounter took place at Sitio Bud Taming, Barangay Kabbontakkas, Patikul Sulu at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Tan said the firefight, which lasted for about one hour and 45 minutes, was between operating troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion under the Joint Task Force Sulu and around 150 members of the terror group led by top leader Radullan Sahiron and sub leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Yasser Igasan and Mujer Yadah.

The military has yet to determine the number of casualties from the ASG’s side.

“Fire support and close air support were provided to the engaging troops. Adjacent units also conducted blocking and pursuit operations,” Tan said.

Tan added that the casualties were immediately taken out of the clash site. Meanwhile, the 15 troops who were slightly wounded were brought to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista hospital while two others were airlifted to Zamboanga City for further medical attention at the Camp Navarro General Hospital.

The Joint Task Force Sulu is now conducting pursuit operations following the clash to neutralize the ASG brigands in Sulu. (PNA)

Starting Christmas day, Balikbayan boxes worth Php150,000 exempted from taxes

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MANILA, Dec. 10 (PNA) — Balikbayan boxes worth Php150,000 sent by Filipinos working and living abroad will be exempted from taxes starting Dec. 25, Christmas Day.

This after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Finance (DOF) signed Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 05-2016, which concerns the consolidated shipment of said boxes.

The CAO 05-2016 serves as the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on Section 800 (g) of the Customs and Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

“It covers the sending of balikbayan boxes by Qualified Filipinos While Abroad (QFWA) to their families and relatives, which shall be exempt from the payment of duties and taxes, up to three times and shall not exceed Php150,000.00 in a calendar year,” said Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon in a statement.

He noted that balikbayan boxes brought in through means other than consolidated shipments shall be covered by a different CAO.

“This CAO states that only qualified Filipinos abroad may avail of duty and tax free privileges on balikbayan boxes containing personal effects and households goods,” Faeldon added.

Under the CMTA, QFWA are the following:

(1) holders of valid passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and certified by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for overseas employment purposes regardless of profession;

(2) non-resident Filipinos who have established permanent residency abroad but retained their Filipino citizenship; and,

(3) resident Filipino citizens who temporarily stay abroad (may include holders of student visa, investors’ visa, tourist visa, and similar visas which allow them to establish temporary stay abroad).

To be granted this privilege, the following requirements must be met:

(1) A QFWA shall submit the following supporting documents:

(2) A QFWA shall accomplish, sign and submit the Information Sheet, which will be issued by BOC and will serve as the packing list.

(3) The international forwarder/consolidator shall submit these Information Sheets and supporting documents in a secured electronic format to local (Philippine) forwarder/deconsolidator.

(4) The local forwarder/deconsolidator shall transmit to the Bureau the Information Sheet and supporting documents in a secured electronic format before the arrival of the balikbayan boxes to the Philippines and within the period prescribed:

For consolidated shipments by sea:a. For shipments that will take 3-day shipping time: 24 hours prior to arrivalb. For shipments that will take 7-day shipping time: 48 hours prior to arrivalc. For shipments coming from America, Europe, Middle East, and other parts of the world that does not fall under the above shipping time: 10 days prior to arrival.

For consolidated shipments carried by aircraft:a. For those coming from Asia – 1 hour prior to arrivalb. For those coming from other countries – 6 hours prior to arrival(5) A QFWA shall also certify that only personal effects and household goods, which shall not be in commercial quantities, are sent through balikbayan boxes.

With this, Faeldon asked all international and local forwarders, foreign consolidators and local deconsolidators to strictly follow these guidelines, to enable customs to expedite clearance procedures, and for them to ensure that all balikbayan boxes are delivered to their receiver with utmost care.

“We value the importance of each balikbayan box. They symbolize the hardship of our overseas Filipino workers, and the love of Filipinos abroad for their families here in the country,” he added.

Earlier, the Customs chief reminded all port officials and personnel to expedite release and handling of the boxes and to follow the Bureau’s ‘no opening of balikbayan boxes’ policy unless there is derogatory information that warrants the opening of these boxes. BOC is also appealing to the public not to misuse the privilege granted by law.

The CAO shall be effective 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. It was published in Manila Times on Saturday, December 10.

“Therefore, only QFWAs who send their boxes after this CAO is in effect and who have duly accomplished the Information Sheet and complied with the requirements stated in the CAO can avail of this privilege,” he explained. (PNA)

Miss U gives preview of 11 bets ahead of coronation night

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By Azer N. Parrocha

MANIA, Dec 10 (PNA) — Eleven Miss Universe bets were officially introduced Saturday to Filipino fans in a kick-off event ahead of the pageant coronation night on Jan. 30, 2017.

They were Miss Australia Caris Emily Tiivel, Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Japan Sari Nakazawa, Miss Malaysia Kiranmeet Kaur Balijeet Singh, Miss New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson, Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Miss Korea Jenny Kim, Miss Myanmar Htet Htet Tun, Miss Indonesia Kezia Roslin Cikita Warouw, Miss Vietnam Dang Thi Le Hang, and Miss Philippines Maxine Medina.
The candidates arrived in Manila on Friday (Dec. 9) and were welcomed by representatives from the Department of Tourism (DOT) led by Undersecretary Kat De Castro and pageant organizing committee LCS Group of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson.

During the program at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach welcomed the candidates saying she was excited about the Philippines hosting for the third time. Philippines has hosted the pageant in 1974 and 1994.

Wurtzbach also said that she was looking forward to having a proper “walk” before she passes the crown to her successor since she did not get the chance after being announced winner.

Because American host Steve Harvey incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the 2015 Miss Universe and Wurtzbach as the first runner-up during the last pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2015, Wurtzbach never got her chance to make her walk.

Miss USA Deshauna Barber, Source:

“(I can) finally have a proper walk on stage in no less than my home country,” Pia said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

She meanwhile wished the hopefuls luck and joked about not being ready to give up her sash just yet.

“I’m not quite ready to give up this sash yet but good luck to all the ladies,” she quipped.

Miss Universe Organization (MUO) President Paula Shugart, in her speech, said that she was grateful for the Philippines hosting the prestigious pageant describing it as a “dream come true” for both her and Wurtzbach.

“It’s not just Pia, it’s a dream come true for me (too). In less than a month over 90 countries are going to see the Philippines and its incredible hospitality,” Shugart said.

“Everyone is going to know about the Philippines,” she added.

Singson, for his part, presented MUO’s Shugart with a jacket with the words ‘Miss Universe’ printed on it.

“Miss Universe is on!” he said as he put the jacket on Shugart.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo meanwhile vowed to treat the candidates to at least three of the country’s best tourist destinations while they’re here.

“The girls will be staying here for a week but they’ll have a full schedule,” Teo said.

The candidates are expected to visit Siargao on Sunday (Dec 11), Intramuros on Monday (Dec 12) and Cebu on Tuesday (Dec 13) for photoshoots. (PNA)

BRP Andres Bonifacio to help rid Sulu waters of piracy, kidnapping threats

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MANILA, Dec. 11 (PNA) — Once painted naval grey, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expects the newly-arrived BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) to patrol Sulu waters and help other naval units in curbing down kidnapping and piracy incidents in the area.

“This ship will certainly be a valuable platform in the pursuit of the constitutional mandate of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) this will strengthen the PN capabilities in raising the country’s security concerns in the protection of our territorial integrity, and maritime interest,” he stressed.

The Filipino frigate will be joining the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the country’s first strategic sealift vessel, in conducting the above-mentioned patrols.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio, the country’s third Hamilton-class cutter, arrived at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor last Dec. 9 after a month-long voyage from the United States.

The latter is the USCGC Boutwell which was retired from US Coast Guard service last March 16 and handed to the PN last July 21.

Hamilton-class cutters have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, has a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet.

Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots and a crew of 88 officers and enlisted personnel.

The ship has cruising range of 14,000 miles and has a sea and loiter time of 45 days. (PNA)

Five Maute terrorists killed in clash with MILF

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Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. AP FILE PHOTO Read more:

COTABATO CITY, Dec. 10 (PNA) — Five Maute group terrorists were killed in a clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerillas at the border shared by Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces, military and MILF officials have said.

According to MILF vice chair for military affairs, Von Al Haq, reports from MILF fighters in Mt. Cararao said the terrorist group also suffered injuries in a clash that began Friday morning.

“They were trying to cross the border obviously to avoid the military operations in Butig,” Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., 6th Infantry Division chief, told reporters.

According to reports, the Maute group continued fighting the MILF sporadically Saturday morning in the heavily forested part of Mt. Cararao.

One MILF fighter was injured when the firefight broke out Friday dawn.

Under the government and MILF peace agreement, both the Philippine military and Moro rebels are bound to cooperate in interdicting criminals and terrorists in areas identified as MILF communities.

Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Friday night instructed Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, also the region’s social welfare secretary, to determine if the clashes have resulted in the dislocation of civilians.

Social workers in the region have distributed tons of relief supplies in Butig, site of Maute-military clashes that affected 11 barangays and displaced 3,468 families.

The military reported 65 Maute terrorist group members killed while the Army suffered three fatalities and 19 injured. (PNA)