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Updated: 37 min 23 sec ago

Death Execution just Suspended: Why Mary Jane Veloso got last-minute reprieve

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:50
  Widodo said Mary Jane Veloso's execution is just postponed. - image: pinoy-ofw.com

Why Mary Jane Veloso got last-minute reprieve by Nick Perry, Agence France-Presse Posted at 04/29/2015 3:18 AM | Updated as of 04/29/2015 5:00 AM

Indonesia early Wednesday executed eight drug convicts, including two Australians, by firing squad but a Filipina was spared at the 11th hour, local reports said.

Defying a firestorm of international criticism and heartrending pleas by relatives, authorities put the seven foreigners and a local man to death after midnight Tuesday (1700 GMT), the reports said.

However the Filipina, Mary Jane Veloso, was spared after someone suspected of recruiting her and tricking her into carrying drugs to Indonesia turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines, MetroTV and the Jakarta Post reported.

Eight convicts -- two Australians, one from Brazil and four from Africa, as well as the Indonesian -- were put to death on the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, the reports said.

In Indonesian executions, convicts are led to clearings just after midnight, tied to posts and then giving the option of kneeling, standing or sitting before being executed by 12-man firing squads.

President Joko Widodo has been a vocal supporter of the death penalty for drug traffickers, claiming Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising narcotics use.

He has turned a deaf ear to appeals from the international community led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon.

In an 11th hour bid to stop the executions, the European Union, Australia and France warned in a joint statement late Tuesday the move would have an "impact on Indonesia's position in the world and its international reputation".

Anguished visits

In the hours before the convicts were put to death, there was a flurry of activity as ambulances carried coffins to the island, and relatives made final anguished visits to their loved ones.

Relatives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the Australian ringleaders of the so-called "Bali Nine" heroin trafficking group, wailed in grief as they headed to the island, and one relative collapsed amid a huge scrum of journalists.

"I am asking the government not to kill him. Call off the execution. Please don't take my son," said Sukumaran's mother Raji, in a tearful plea after visiting him.

Chan, who like Sukumaran is in his 30s, married his Indonesian girlfriend in a jailhouse ceremony with family and friends on Nusakambangan on Monday, his final wish.

The news of the temporary reprieve for Veloso, who claims she was duped into smuggling drugs into Indonesia by international drugs syndicates, comes after a huge campaign to save her in the Philippines.

President Benigno Aquino had urged Widodo on the sidelines of a summit this week to grant her clemency.

'Unspeakable grief'

Australia had mounted a sustained campaign to save its citizens, who have been on death row for almost a decade.

Ahead of the executions, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Tuesday criticised Indonesia's "chaotic" handling of the execution arrangements.

The families "do deserve respect and they do deserve to have dignity shown to them at this time of unspeakable grief", she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In Sydney late Tuesday about 300 supporters of the Australian pair held a vigil, with several people displaying signs calling for the Indonesian president to show mercy.

The execution of the Brazilian convict, Rodrigo Gularte, has also generated much criticism in his homeland, with his family saying he should not face the firing squad as he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Three of the African traffickers are confirmed as being from Nigeria. However it is not clear whether the fourth holds Ghanaian or Nigerian nationality.

A Frenchman was originally among the group set to be executed but was granted a temporary reprieve after authorities agreed to allow an outstanding legal appeal to run its course.

Jakarta executed six drug convicts, including five foreigners, in January sparking an international storm as Brazil and the Netherlands -- whose citizens were among those put to death -- recalled their ambassadors.

Philippine Economy is the Strongest in the World - Findings of Washington USA Think Tank

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 16:22


Philippines has most resilient economy – study
(CNN Philippines) — Should an economic crisis akin to last decade's Great Recession happen again, the Philippines would be the most "resilient" country and be able withstand it, despite its status as an emerging-market economy.

That's the assessment of Center for Global Development (CGD), a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

It's not that hard to imagine another financial crisis happening: Growth in China — the world's second largest economy — has slowed, the United States' bull market hasn't had a correction since 2011, and in the Eurozone, debt-ridden Greece has yet to strike a deal with its creditors.

Economist Liliana Rojas-Suarez of the CGD recently created a "resilience indicator" that measures the vulnerability of an economy to future financial shocks.

Her metric looks into several economic indicators that fall under two categories:
  • a country's ability to withstand external shocks 
  • government's ability to "rapidly" implement policies that counteract the effects of such shocks 
"I compare the values of the identified variables in 2007 (the preglobal financial crisis year) with the respective values at the end of 2014," she said.

Rojas-Suarez explained: "A country is said to be highly resilient to adverse external shocks if the event does not result in a sharp contractions of economic growth, a severe decline in the rate of growth of real credit and/or the emergence of deep instabilities in the financial sector."

Of the 21 countries she studied, Rojas-Suarez ranked the Philippines as the most resilient economy, ahead of South Korea and China, which fall at second and third, respectively.

Rojas-Suarez found that the Philippines posted a strong improvement in its indebtedness. The debt indicators had substantial influence over the country's ranking.

For example, she points out that the country cut in half its external debt to GDP ratio "from around 40 percent in 2007 to around 20 percent in 2014." This figure stands in stark contrast with most whose ratios are "without significant changes" within that same time period.

She also cites the country's lower government debt to GDP ratio which stood above 40% in 2007, and subsequently shrank to below that figure in 2014.

Likewise, the country also stood out because of its improved inflation performance in 2014 relative to 2007. Rojas-Suarez pointed out that inflation rates have been within the government's targets.

Latin American countries did not do well in the study: "Four of the six Latin American countries in the sample have deteriorated their positions in the ranking. This includes Argentina, which now holds the last position. "
The Philippines - emerged as the strongest economy in the world that could withstand global financial crisis. - image: philSTAR

Apart from "bad luck in terms of unfavorable trade," Rojas-Suarez explained that such countries ranked lower because of "the squandering of opportunity to implement needed reforms in the good post-crisis years."

Her study ultimately affirms a long-running cliché: An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

"Policy decisions taken in the precrisis period played a major role in explaining a country's macroeconomic performance during the global economic crisis (of last decade)," explained Rojas-Suarez.

"[I]nitial conditions at the onset of a severe adverse external shock matter a lot. The good news is that, besides the commodity price shock, the most feared external shock: a sudden rise in interest rates in the US has not (yet) materialized. Time is still on the side of emerging markets’ authorities." - CNN

AFP chief: Defense spending should be 1% of Phl budget

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 15:25

MANILA, Philippines - Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. is pushing for greater military spending, saying this would enable the country to defend its territory.

Catapang said military expenditures should be increased to 1 percent of the national budget to enable the government to buy more equipment for territorial defense.

“What is important now is for our country to become prosperous because our argument is maybe at least we increase our expenditure for our defense and military,” Catapang said in a press briefing on Monday.

“What I’m proposing is that at least 1 percent of the approved national budget will go to the improvement of the capabilities of our defense and military units, to include the Office of Civil Defense,” he added. 

Catapang made the statement when asked what Filipinos can do to counter China’s aggressive expansion in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Asian superpower has been occupying disputed areas to assert its expansive territorial claim, including some areas that are well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The 2015 national budget stands at P2.6 trillion. In 2012, President Aquino signed a law that allotted P75 billion for the military’s modernization program from 2013 to 2017.

The modernization program will be given P15-billion each year from the national budget. The annual outlay of P15 billion is equivalent only to about 0.57 percent of the 2015 budget.

Because of its poorly equipped military, the Philippines cannot stop China’s construction activities in its West Philippine Sea territories namely Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef, Burgos (Gaven) Reef, Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, Kennan (Hughes) Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef.

When reminded that China would have been finished with its construction projects by the time the Philippines becomes a prosperous country, Catapang merely stressed the need to boost territorial defense capabilities.

“Reclaiming the areas is one side of the story but putting up a strong credible deterrence for our country, ensuring that our territory will be defended from any foreign country that intends to harm us, will be a very big boost to our territorial defense,” the military chief said.

 “I don’t know the intention of China for doing this, but what is important is we are prepared to defend the country,” he added. -philSTAR

VERA Files: NOYNOY Aquino Offer Sabah to Malaysia to support UNCLOS case

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 21:29

PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia's support for UN case vs China
The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia's support for its case against China before the United Nations.
The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah.
The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the U.N. Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it effectively declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory.
The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah, which is at present occupied by Malaysia, based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who ceded proprietary rights over the 76,115-square-kilometer land to the Philippines in 1962.
In last week's note verbale, however, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is "reviewing" its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia's response to Manila's two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.
The first request is for Malaysia to "confirm" that its claim of an extended continental shelf is "entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands."
The DFA also requested Malaysia to confirm that it "does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims."
Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a state is entitled to 12-nautical-mile territorial sea over which it exercises sovereignty.
Malaysia, like the Philippines, claims parts of the Spratly islands in the South China Sea which is being claimed almost wholly by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Brunei is another claimant to some parts of the Spratlys.
There are some parts in the Spratlys where the 200 NM Exclusive Economic Zones of the Philippines and Malaysia overlap.
The DFA didn't issue any statement when VERA Files sought its comment on the note verbale and its implications.
Former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr. said the Philippine claim to Sabah will be "prejudiced" if Malaysia accedes to DFA's request.
"We are in effect withdrawing our objection to Malaysia's claim of ownership to Sabah," he said.
A DFA official who requested anonymity, said, however, the Philippine claim to Sabah would remain intact even if Manila withdraws its 2009 objection to Malaysia's submission to the U.N.
Baja countered, "Even if we are not formally dropping the Sabah claim, it (the withdrawal of the protest) can be used as evidence against our claim."
A DFA source said officials involved in the case against China before the U.N. Arbitral Court said if Malaysia confirms it doesn't claim beyond 12 nautical miles from any maritime features in the Spratlys Islands it claims, the Philippine case will be strengthened because one of Manila's demands for relief from the U.N. court is to declare that certain features, such as rocks, do not generate maritime entitlement beyond 12 nautical miles.
This would clarify that the 12 nautical miles surrounding among others, the Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc (Chinese name: Huangyan Island), are part of the Philippines 200-nautical-mile Economic Exclusive Zone.
The Philippines suit, which primarily sought to nullify China's all-encompassing nine-dash line map invalid, also wants the U.N. court to rule that submerged features within and beyond 200 nautical miles of the Philippines are not part of China's continental shelf. This would make China's occupation of these features a violation of UNCLOS.
A diplomatic source said Malaysia may find the Philippine request "too hard to handle" because it has adopted the policy of "playing it safe" — expressing concern on China aggressiveness in the disputed waters while maintaining good relations with the economic superpower.
"A maritime entitlement of only 12 nautical miles for their reefs, as the essence of the Philippines request, will not be in the interest of Malaysia. Besides, Malaysia will not risk its close economic ties with China, its biggest trading partner," the source said.
The source said China also protested the 2009 Malaysia-Vietnam submission to the U.N. So even if the Philippines withdrew its objection, the Chinese protest would stand, the source said.
The CLCS would not proceed on the Philippines' withdrawal of its protest unless and until the Chinese 9-dash line claim is rendered invalid.
Also last week, the Philippines submitted a supplemental argument in answer to China's position paper on the Spratlys territorial claim. The U.N. is expected to hand down its decision in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has denounced the massive reclamation of China on its occupied reefs.
Baja said the Philippine position on Sabah is much stronger than its Spratly islands claim.
Economically, the timber and mineral-rich Sabah is much more valuable than Spratlys, he added.
There are more than 600,000 Filipinos in Sabah, most of them considered by Malaysia as illegal residents and are often subject to harassment.
Sabah (North Borneo) originally belonged to the Sultan of Brunei, who gave it to Sultan of Sulu Salah ud-Din Karamat Bakhtiar in 1658 as a reward for helping quell a rebellion. In 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam Kiram leased North Borneo to the Hong Kong-based British North Borneo Co. of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent for 5,000 Malaysian dollars a year.
In 1946, Overbeck and Dent, without permission from the Sultan, transferred the territory to the British government when the company ceased operations.
On Sept. 11, 1962, Sultan of Sulu Mohammad Esmail Kiram ceded to the Philippine government full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory. President Diosdado Macapagal filed the Philippines' claim over Sabah with the United Nations.
In 1963, the British government, again without permission from the Sultan of Sulu, transferred Sabah to the newly formed Federation of Malaysia.
Malaysia is currently the broker in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of a Bangsamoro, an autonomous political entity in the southern part of the Philippines. — with additional reports by Ellen Tordesillas
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.") - ABS-CBN

Indonesia prepares to transfer Philippines drug convict for DEATH execution

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 19:53

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, 30 and mother of two, will be executed in the coming days. In 2010 she was arrested because caught at the airport with 2.6 kg of heroin. The young woman was exploited as a courier and was unaware of the contents of the bag. The Supreme Court recently rejected the last appeal for a pardon.image: AsiaNews.it

Indonesia prepares to transfer Philippines drug convict for execution

JAKARTA - Indonesia is preparing to move a Filipina death row inmate for execution after she lost her appeal in the Supreme Court earlier this week, the attorney general's spokesman said on Friday.

The planned execution s of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso and nine other mostly foreign drug traffickers has drawn international criticism after repeated pleas for mercy from the United Nations and various governments have gone unheeded by President Joko Widodo.

Veloso will be moved from the city of Yogyakarta to the maximum security prison on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, where the rest of the group awaits execution by firing squad.

"We can say that (Veloso's) case is done," the attorney general's spokesman Tony Spontana told reporters.

"There will be preparations to move her soon because the plan to execute all (10 convicts) at once hasn't changed."

The attorney general's office has yet to announce a date for the execution s.

Four other foreign nationals in the group have also lodged last-minute appeals against their death sentences, forcing the attorney general to hold off on the execution s until all legal processes are seen through. [ID:

Two Australian prisoners are among those appealing their sentences. The Australian government has been pursuing an eleventh-hour campaign to save their lives, but Widodo has refused to budge, ramping up diplomatic tensions between the neighbors.

Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed execution s in 2013 after a five-year gap. - eKantipur

Want to trade old iPhone for the iPhone 6?

Sat, 03/28/2015 - 21:29

MANILA - If you're looking to trade your old iPhone for the new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, then you're in luck.

Local electronics store GetGadget Shop is offering its first trade-off promotion on March 31, which is open for all iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c units.

The trade-off prices are as follows:

All gadgets, however, are subject to further assessment to determine the exact amount of the discount. Once the seller has agreed on the actual value of the unit, a cash check will be given as a mode of payment for the chosen unit.

To qualify for the promotion, one must present two valid IDs and proof of purchase of the unit such as a receipt.

For more info, visit the store's Facebook page. - ABS-CBN

 

Pacquiao is now top taxpayer in Philippines

Sat, 03/28/2015 - 21:09

Manny Pacquiao - ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing champ Manny Pacquio emerged as the top taxpayer in the country, according to a list released by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The BIR's list of top individual taxpayers for 2013 was based only on regular income tax payments made as of November 24, 2014.

Pacquiao, who is battling a tax case filed by the BIR, paid ₱163.84 million in regular income taxes in 2013. The tax evasion case against Pacquiao stemmed from his ₱2.2-billion tax liability based on an assessment by the BIR.

In second place was Juanito Pornuevo Alcantara, whose business has yet to be ascertained, who paid P99.61 million in income taxes.

Top lawyer Estelito Mendoza was in third place with ₱73.18 million.

A certain Reynaldo Benoza Chico, Jr. was in fourth place with ₱67.34 million.

Megaworld Corp. founder and chairman Andrew Tan ranked fifth on the list with income tax payment of ₱67.18 million. Tan, fourth richest man in the Philippines, is the top businessman taxpayer on the list.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. president Lorenzo Tan was sixth on the list with income tax payment of ₱60.89 million, followed by Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez with ₱55.62 million.

Ranked 8th, Mercury Drug president Vivian Que Azcona was the top individual taxpayer for 2012. She paid ₱51.61 million in income tax.

Ninth on the list is Meralco president Oscar Reyes with ₱51.44 million. Rounding out the top 10 is Insular Life chairman and CEO Vicente Ayllon with P50.08 million.

Celebrities

Actor Piolo Pascual ranked 14th on the list with an income tax payment of ₱42.53 million, followed by actor John Lloyd Cruz with ₱41.97 million.

"Queen of All Media" Kris Aquino, who was the top taxpayer in 2011, ranked 16th with an income tax payment of ₱40.48 million.

Actress Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan was 19th on the list with P39 million, followed by comedian Willie Revillame with ₱38.3 million.

Actress and host Anne Curtis-Smith ranked 36th on the list, paying ₱28.23 million in income taxes in 2013.

In 44th place, actress Judy Ann Santos paid ₱24.32 million in income taxes.

Actor Coco Martin ranked 52 with ₱22.49 million, followed by comedian and host Vic Sotto on 53rd place with ₱22.4 million.

Pop princess Sarah Gerononimo placed 99th on the list with income tax of ₱16.12 million.

Actor Dingdong Dantes finished just outside of the top 100 list, ranking 101 with ₱15.7 million.

Businessmen

The country's top businessmen and executives also made it to the top taxpayers' list.

San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang ranked 12th, paying P46.47 million in income tax.

Federico R. Lopez, chairman and CEO of Energy Development Corp., ranked 17th on the list with income tax payment of ₱39.89 million.

Erramon Aboitiz, CEO and president of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., was in 22nd place with P35.81 million in income tax payment.

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, CEO and chairman of Ayala Corp. ranked 26th place with P32.22 million in income tax payments. His brother Fernando was in 32nd place with ₱29.69 million

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. chairman Manny Pangilinan was in 27th place, paying ₱31.63 million.

Oscar M. Lopez, chairman Emeritus of First Gen Corporation, ranked 34th with ₱28.54 million in income taxes.

Tycoon George Ty ranked 40th with ₱26.28 million in income tax payments, while ports billionaire Enrique Razon Jr. was in 50th place with ₱22.87 million.

Henry Sy, Sr., the country's richest man, paid income tax of ₱18.5 million, which placed him on 85th spot. His son Henry Jr. was in 71st place with P19.86 million, while daughter Teresita Sy was in 97th place with ₱16.2 million.

ABS-CBN Corp. president and CEO Charo Santos Concio ranked 121th with an income tax payment of P14.56 million.

In 275th place is ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez III who paid ₱9.49 million in income tax in 2013. - ABS-CBN

U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge Rescued 5 Pinoy Fishermen at Philippine Sea

Sat, 03/28/2015 - 19:22

Sailors attached to USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) rescue five stranded Filipinos whose fishing vessel suffered from mechanical difficulties. (Photo by MC3 Cody R. Babin, US Navy)

5 Pinoy fishermen rescued by US sailors

MANILA -- Five Filipino fishermen drifting in the Philippine Sea have been rescued by the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge, the US Navy said Thursday.

The boat of the Filipinos, who were not identified, encountered mechanical difficulties.

According to a report posted on the US Pacific Command website, USS Blue Ridge sailors initially noticed a small boat and a flag floating in the Philippine Sea.

After moving closer, they noticed that the boat was not moving, and several men were on board.

"We thought it was strange to see something in the water, so we slowed down to get a better look," said Ensign John Li, Blue Ridge officer of the deck during the response. "As we began looking for signs of distress, we noticed someone was waving a white T-shirt, while someone else was waving a flashlight."

One of the sailors, who said the boat "was being tossed around like a little toy," added that the men were jumping up and down inside their boat, trying to get the attention of those on board USS Blue Ridge.

Responding to the men’s need of immediate assistance, Blue Ridge deployed a boarding team via rigid-hulled inflatable boat and safely brought the five men on board the ship.

The Filipino fishermen were immediately provided with basic first aid, showers, and a change of clothes.

They were found to be suffering from hypothermia and were malnourished after spending three days on sea without food.

The Filipinos had been fishing at sea when their boat's motor stalled - ABS-CBN

Boxing: Donaire, Nietes make weight for Pinoy Pride 30

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 20:18

ON WEIGHT. Nonito Donaire Jr (L) and William Prado (R) both made the 122 pound limit. Photo by Mark Cristino

Donaire, Nietes make weight for Pinoy Pride 30

Nonito Donaire made the 122 pound weight limit for the first time in two years while Donnie Nietes and Gilberto Parra experienced drama on the scales

 

MANILA, Philippines - Nonito Donaire Jr made a quick trip to the scale on Friday afternoon, stepping on the scale to register 122 pounds before quickly being whisked away to replenish his fluids. Fighters on the mid-card had originally been scheduled to weigh-in first before the itinerary was changed last minute.

William Prado, the Brazilian fighter whom he faces on Saturday, March 28 at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, weighed in the same as his opponent, 122.

Donaire Jr (32-3, 21 KOs) of San Leandro, Calif. by way of Talibon, Bohol, Philippines made the junior featherweight limit for the first time since 2013 after rising up to 126, where he won the WBA featherweight title.

Prado (22-4-1, 15 KOs) of Sao Paolo, Brazil is one fight removed from a third round knockout loss to Scott Quigg in 2013.

Nonito Donaire Sr says his son/fighter ate pasta first because it is easy to digest and will eat small meals throughout the day to replenish. Donaire Sr says he wants his son to gain no more than 10 pounds by the time he hits the ring.

In the main event, THE RING magazine junior flyweight champion Donnie Nietes (34-1-4, 20 KOs) of Bacolod City, Philippines and his opponent Gilberto Parra (19-2, 17 KOs) both weighed in at the 108 pound limit.

Parra’s team initially protested the scale’s reading, saying he was over the limit. Nietes then stepped back on the scale and registered 108 pounds once more before refueling with a lunch of sinigang, raisin bread, rice and spaghetti.

Donnie Nietes and Gilberto Parra became heated at the scale. Photo by Mark Cristino

The two posed for photos briefly, with Nietes giving his opponent a throat slash gesture.

Nietes then stepped back on the scale and registered 108 pounds once more before refueling with a lunch of sinigang, raisin bread, rice and spaghetti.

“It’s just psy-war,” said Nietes’ assistant trainer Edmund Villamor. “[Parra’s team] is probably scared.” - Rappler.com

China rushing construction in a reef few Kilometers from Palawan Main island

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 20:15

Aerial surveillance images obtained by The STAR show Ma- bini Reef in March last year (left), with only one building that served as a temporary shelter for workers. The image on the right, taken recently, shows more structures and trees planted on the reef.

Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines' top diplomat said Thursday that China has been rushing construction projects, including massive land reclamation, in the disputed South China Sea in hopes of forestalling any legal moves against its vast territorial claims.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Chinese construction is aimed at bolstering its claims to virtually the entire South China Sea. He called Beijing's claims "invalid and excessive and in violation of international law."

The Philippines and other governments which have territorial disputes with Beijing in the busy sea have been particularly concerned by massive Chinese land reclamation projects that have turned a number of previously submerged reefs in the Spratlys archipelago into artificial islands with buildings, runways and wharves.

Alarmed by what it describes as increasing Chinese assertiveness, the Philippines sought international arbitration two years ago to challenge the legality of Beijing's claims.

China has ignored the Philippine legal challenge but a U.N.-backed tribunal in The Hague may hand down a ruling as early as next January or February, del Rosario said.

There also have been proposals for China and Southeast Asian nations to conclude a legally binding "code of conduct" restricting aggressive behavior that could spark armed confrontations in the disputed areas, which straddle some of the world's busiest sea lanes and are believed to have rich undersea oil and gas deposits.

"It is clear to us that China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to ... control nearly the entire South China Sea before the conclusion of the code of conduct and the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal," del Rosario said.

The Philippines has expressed concern that Beijing could transform its newly created islands into military logistical and resupply hubs to bolster its territorial claims and pose a more serious challenge to rival claimants.

The Philippines has protested the reclamation projects. The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to Rosario's comments, but in the past Beijing has asserted its right to undertake any activity in territories it claims.

U.S. Sen. John McCain and three other top-ranking senators overseeing U.S. defense and foreign policy called last week for a comprehensive strategy to deal with China's territorial moves, including land reclamation and construction in disputed areas, warning that "longstanding interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk." - philSTAR

Bloomberg TV to launch Philippine channel

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 20:11

Bloomberg to bring its brand of business reporting on Philippine cable TV through a partnership with the Pangilinan-led TV5 and Cignal Digital TV

 

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Manuel V. Pangilinan expands his media empire anew.

The Pangilinan-led MediaQuest Holdings' TV5 and Cignal Digital TV signed a deal with Bloomberg, the American-based international cable and satellite news network, on Wednesday, March 25.

To be called Bloomberg Television Philippines, the local channel will be the first 24/7 business news channel in the country, with a target launch this 2015.

"This partnership with Bloomberg heralds a new era in Philippine television, in which business information is set to be in the front and center of a rising Philippine economy," said Pangilinan in a statement released by Bloomberg.

Cignal Digital TV Philippines Chief Operating Officer Oscar A. Reyes Jr said during the announcement that the tri-partnership will propel the country into becoming the next business capital for Southeast Asia.

Bloomberg Television Philippines will be distributed exclusively via Cignal Digital TV, the Philippines' direct-to-home (DTH) satellite provider with about 844,000 subscribers.

Reyes added that the partnership aims to bring a 360-degree experience to subscribers. Talks are also going on with TV5 to curate about 35 to 40 minutes of content to be available on free TV, Lorenzana added.

"We are very excited to be partnering with Bloomberg and believe their global experience will be invaluable in taking business television programming to the next level," said Noel C. Lorenzana, president and chief executive officer of MediaQuest.

Adding firepower

Bloomberg has localized channels across countries, with over 15,500 employees in 192 locations.

Prior to the Philippine signing of the deal, the business news network signed with Canadian media company Channel Zero for a rebranding also set this year, online resource Media Newser Philippines reported.

Bloomberg will be the second global network to go local in the Philippines.

CNN Philippines, with local brand licensed to Nine Media Corporation, has already started airing this March 15 – a "glocalized" version with a combination of locally produced news and content sourced from CNN in the United States that usually does not air on CNN International.

The latest deal continues Bloomberg's momentum in Asia, complementing local partner channels in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Mongolia.

"This gives us more firepower in the country and the television landscape. Finding the right partner was very important to us," said Parry Ravindranathan, Bloomberg Media managing director for the Asia-Pacific.

Promoting business, financial literacy

MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. signed a groundbreaking partnership with Bloomberg Television to launch the first-ever 24-hour business news channel in the country, Bloomberg TV Philippines. This cooperation hopes to propel the Philippines to becoming the next business capital in South East Asia. ‪#‎BloombergTVPH Photo (L-R): Parry Ravindranathan, Managing Director for Bloomberg Media Asia Pacific, Noel C. Lorenzana, President and CEO for MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., and Oscar A. Reyes Jr., Chief Operating Officer of Cignal TV.

Pangilinan has always wanted an all English-language business news channel.

Back in 2013, he announced the launching of CEO TV, originally planned to compete with ABS-CBN News Channel, but it never pushed through, Media Newser Philippines wrote on March 2.

"We just feel like going with Bloomberg is the right way to go. It's a multi-year contract so hopefully this becomes a long-term relationship. We want Bloomberg Television Philippines to become the best Bloomberg news channel country in the world. That's our aim," Lorenzana said.

To be presented in English, the local extension of Bloomberg Television will expand the reach of its market-moving news, the company said in a statement.

"The Philippines is fast becoming a premier broadcast destination because of its strong subscriber growth," said Gary Groenheim, commercial director of Bloomberg Television, Asia-Pacific.

"Being in the third largest English-speaking country in the world will help us reach a vast new audience by combining elements of our daily global broadcast material with unique, tailor-made local content," Groenheim added.

"Our financial markets are rapidly growing in size and sophistication and we saw room for a premier business channel that can inform, educate, and showcase the best of business and finance in the Philippines," Lorenzana said in a statement.

Lorenzana added that MediaQuest Holdings is also committing its latest technology to the production of Bloomberg TV Philippines, with resources like high definition (HD) cameras, studio controls, HD OB vans, and HD ENG vans to be readily deployed.

"We always strive to provide the best experience we can to our subscribers," he added.

Talent-wise, Bloomberg Television Philippines will leverage on the talent and production expertise of News5, TV5's news and information arm, to produce local content for the channel.

Bloomberg, in turn, will help its local partners to reach the editorial and production standards of its global enterprise, Ravindranathan said.

"I believe that every country goes through a point where they need a business channel. We want to give actionable news to do business in the Philippines," Ravindranathan added.

"This partnership with Bloomberg shows what value pay TV can give Filipinos that they have never gotten before," Reyes said.

"Business literacy is an advocacy for us. The wider the audience, the better," Lorenzada stressed.

Ravindranathan sees the partnership as a long-term endeavor.

"As long as we have the same goals, the partnership is there. Term is not important for us," Ravindranathan said.

Apart from Cignal Digital TV and TV5, MediaQuest Holdings also has interests in Nation Broadcasting Corporation, and broadsheets The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, and Businessworld.

TV5 has been fledging in terms of ratings competition, while Pangilinan's cable TV arm, Cignal Digital TV, announced early this March that it is anticipating its subscriber base to reach 1 million in 2015. – Rappler.com

Malaysian Police Suffocate and Killed 3 Innocent teen Filipinos in Sabah North Borneo - Abuse Anew!

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 18:33

Image: Newsdesk.asia

DFA probes deaths of 3 Filipino teens in Sabah

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is probing the deaths of three Filipino teenagers who died in Sabah after Malaysian authorities launched a raid on undocumented individuals.

Reports said that the three Filipinos, who were siblings, were suffocated when they hid from authorities in a narrow space at the central market where the crackdown was launched. The three were rushed to the hospital but were declared dead on arrival.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said he shared the DFA’s call “for a full and impartial investigation by the concerned Malaysian authorities.”

“The Philippine government is concerned about the treatment of Filipinos abroad, regardless of their work status,” Binay said in a statement on Friday.

“Our countrymen risk leaving their homes and families to live and work decently abroad, and even as we respect the laws of the countries they are in we nonetheless ask that they be treated humanely,” he said.

Binay urged overseas Filipino workers to go through “the proper and legal channels” to ensure that they have the government’s protection and “to avoid becoming victims of trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates.” RC - INQUIRER

Sabah, North Borneo  Location - Aljazeera.

Philippines will Resume the Repair and Reconstruction of PAG-ASA's Structure in Spartly Islands

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 17:02

Francisco Acedillo, a lawmaker and a former air force pilot, shows a slide of China's reclamation work in the Spratly as he called for a creative strategy to deal with the maritime territorial dispute during a Foreign Correspondent of the Philippines (FOCAP) meeting in... REUTERS/ROMEO RANOCO

Philippines says to resume works in disputed South China Sea

(Reuters) - The Philippines said on Thursday it would resume repair and reconstruction works in the disputed Philippine Sea ( South China Sea) after halting activities last year over concerns about the effect on an arbitration complaint filed against China.

Manila had called on all countries last October to stop construction work on small islands and reefs in the West Philippine Sea ( South China Sea), virtually all of which is claimed by China.

China itself is undertaking massive reclamation works in the area, while Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam have also been making improvements to their facilities.

"We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance," Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario told diplomats, military officers and foreign correspondents on Thursday.

He said the works, including repairs to an airstrip, did not violate an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea because they would not alter the status quo in the disputed area. The 2002 code was signed by China and 10 Southeast Asian states in Phnom Penh.

In 2013, Manila filed an arbitration case at the The Hague questioning Beijing's "nine-dash-line" claims. Del Rosario said Manila expects a decision in February next year. China has elected not to participate in the case.

China claims almost the entire sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the area, where about $5 trillion of seaborne trade pass every year. (Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)- REUTERS

Philippines to Terminate ₱1.2-billion UH-1 Chopper Deal ; Supplier failed to Deliver Sep 2014

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 17:30

TERMINATION NOTICE. The Department of National Defense has notified the foreign suppliers of the choppers. Photo from Philippine Air Force

 

DND moves to terminate controversial chopper deal

The defense department has sent a notice to the foreign suppliers for their failure complete the delivery of the 21 choppers on time

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) has moved to partially terminate a ₱1.2-billion chopper deal with foreign suppliers following allegations of anomalies raised by a senator.

A "Notice to Terminate" was sent on Wednesday, March 25, to the joint venture of US-based Rice Aircraft Services Inc and Canada-based Eagle Copters Ltd for failing to complete delivery of the 21 UH-1 choppers for the Philippine Air Force.

Only 8 of the 21 choppers have been delivered when it should have been completed in September 2014. The DND initially granted extensions.

"You failed to comply with the agreed schedule of requirement of the Contract Agreement which provides that the delivery should be within 180 calendar days upon opening of the Letter of Credit," the notice read.

The supplier has 7 days to respond to the DND's notice. "Failure to show cause within the provided period, either by inaction of default, shall cause the issuance of an order terminating the contract," the notice added.

Senator JV Ejercito put the chopper deal on the spotlight when he filed this month a Senate resolution seeking a probe into the chopper deal. He claimed that the project was "tailor-fitted" for a "favored bidder.

"The Senate should check if any violations were made on the procurement law in the purchase of these 21 helicopters. We have to look into this deal because P1.2 billion worth of choppers that cannot be used and have obsolete parts are disadvantageous to the AFP Modernization Program," said Ejercito, a member of the Senate committee on national defense and security.

Ejercito, in his resolution, cited reports from The Manila Times and the Manila Bulletin that uncovered alleged irregularities in the deal.

"These reports alleged that the UH-1D units that were delivered by the suppliers to the Philippine Air Force were non-compliant with the project contract's Terms of Reference. Furthermore, they have limited use due to some defects, thereby defeating the purpose of its acquisition and is a prima facie wastage of taxpayers' money," the resolution said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines awarded the contract to the joint venture in December 2013 after 3 failed biddings. The project is part of the AFP modernization program.

The bidding process was led by a retired Air Force general Fernando Manalo, who is now the defense undersecretary for finance, munitions, installation and materiel. – with reports from Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com

PBA: It's Blackwater!

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 17:12

Expansion team Blackwater closed out its campaign on a high note when it stunned playoff-bound Meralco, 84-72, last night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Import Marcus Douthit produced 27 points and 14 rebounds while center JP Erram scored a career-high 21 points, with seven rebounds and five blocks as the Elite finished their campaign with a 3-8 record.

Blackwater’s performance was obviously a marked improvement from the Philippine Cup when it failed to win in all 11 matches.

“Going into this game, regardless of being eliminated, gaining the experience and giving their (Elite players) hundred percent is part of the building process we are undergoing,” said Blackwater mentor Leo Isaac.

“Hopefully we can bring this to the next conference. We just wanted to end the second conference on a high note. We’ll enjoy the 10-day break, and then we’ll plunge back to practice on April 6.

“Maybe we can have a fresh start and new level of confidence (next conference),” added Isaac.

Reil Cervantes added 13 points off the bench since he was traded from Blackwater for Alex Nuyles.

Blackwater will have the luxury of signing an import with unlimited height for the Governors’ Cup since the team finished as one of the four-worst teams in the first two conferences.

Isaac said that while he is pleased with the performance of the 6-foot-10 Douthit, who took over from the injured Chris Charles, it is up to the management led by team owner Dioceldo Sy to decide whether to stick with the naturalized player of Gilas Pilipinas.

“Team management will meet with the coaches on Friday, by then baka may decision na,” said Isaac, who added that there is also a possibility for them to avail the Asian reinforcement.

“We have some names on our list, and if it pushes through, (we’re eyeing) a player from the Middle East na magaling siya lumaro. He played for his national team,” said Isaac, who refused to name the Asian import.

Meralco ended the elims with a 6-5 record, losing five of its final six games after a 5-0 start. The loss, however, proved meaningless for the Bolts as they had already secured a best-of-three quarterfinal duel with sister team NLEX Road Warriors.

The quarterfinals begin tomorrow at the Big Dome.

Jared Dillinger led Meralco with 15 points, Sean Anthony and Mike Cortez added 13 points apiece, while import Josh Davis had 11 and 20 boards.

Scores:

First Game

BLACKWATER 84 – Douthit 27, Erram 21, Cervantes 13, Heruela 7, Acuna 6, Bulawan 5, Gamalinda 3, Laure 2, Timberlake 0, Reyes 0, Golla 0.

MERALCO 72 – Dillinger 15, Anthony 13, Cortez 13, Davis 11, Wilson 7, Ferriols 5, Caram 3, Reyes 2, David 2, Buenafe 1, Ildefonso 0, Sena 0, Hugnatan 0, Macapagal 0.

Quarters: 26-23; 50-40; 66-46; 84-72.

Second Game

ALASKA 104 – James 29, Baguio 17, Abueva 16, Jazul 10, Hontiveros 9, Casio 5, Banchero 4, Thoss 4, Exciminiano 4, Manuel 2, Menk 2, Baclao 2, Eman 0, Dela Cruz 0.

GINEBRA 98 – Dunigan 32, Baracael 18, Aguilar 17, Tenorio 10, Urbiztondo 8, Slaughter 7, Caguioa 4, Monfort 2, Pena 0, Helterbrand 0, Ababou 0, Ellis 0.

Quarters: 29-23, 52-39, 78-69, 104-98 - Tempo

Philippines to attain 7 to 8% economic growth in 2015: central bank

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 16:16

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Governor of central bank Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. said today that the government's 7 to 8 percent economic growth target in 2015 is attainable.

This is because "domestic demand remains firm and supported by brewing production efficiency and robust labor market dynamics," Tetangco said during the Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum.

He said the central bank is confident that the country will be able to attain the goal of an upward economic growth trajectory in an environment of price and financial stability because the bank will remain proactive in policy dialogue with stakeholders, preemptive in putting in place forward-looking policies, and prudent in adopting reforms.

The Philippine economy expanded by 6.1 percent last year, short of the government's 6.5 to 7.5 percent target and also slower than the 7.2 percent growth in 2013. However, this is the second fastest growth rate seen in Asia during the period.

Tetangco added that inflation should remain within 2 to 4 percent target for this year and the next, while liquidity is also expected to remain sufficient.

Despite the favorable prospects of the economy, he said the central bank continues to monitor risks to growth such as the uneven global output, uncertainty in oil prices, and the divergence in monetary policy settings across countries.

"Given the positive alignment between inflation growth and augmented government resources as a result of fiscal consolidation, both monetary and fiscal sectors have sufficient room to make policy adjustments as warranted," Tetangco said.   - philSTAR

Senator Santiago backs Ombudsman, SC: "Gobenciong case" - Binay should leave Makati City hall

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 15:31

Mayor Junjun Binay vs Senator Miriam Santiago- Politics.com

Ombudsman not liable for acting quickly on Mayor Binay suspension—Santiago

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and other concerned officials were not liable for immediately implementing the suspension order on Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Wednesday.

Santiago was reacting to a contempt case filed by Binay against the Ombudsman and other officials for defying a temporary restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals on his suspension. It was the Office of the Ombudsman that issued the preventive suspension order on Binay in connection with the allegedly anomalous Makati City Hall 2 carpark building.

But Santiago pointed out that in the 2008 case of Gobenciong v. Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court ruled: “The Office of the Ombudsman can, as a matter of statutory empowerment, validly order the immediate execution of a preventive suspension after determining the propriety of the imposition, regardless of the remedy of reconsideration made available under the law to the suspended respondent.”

“Thus, the Ombudsman can order the immediate suspension of a sitting mayor, who is not allowed to plead that he needs time to file a motion for reconsideration,” the senator said in a statement.

Santiago said that in the Gobenciong case, the high tribunal rejected the argument that the sitting official was denied due process of law, just because the suspension was immediately implemented.

“In the Gobenciong case, the Supreme Court said there was no legal basis for the argument that immediate implementation of the preventive suspension would deny due process. In fact, the Supreme Court added that since preventive suspension is not a penalty for an administrative offense, preventive suspension can be imposed without prior hearing,” she said.

The SC, she said, denied the motion to cite the Ombudsman in contempt on the ground that it had “become moot and academic for the preventive suspension had been served.”

Under the Gobenciong ruling, Santiago said the Ombudsman could not be held in indirect contempt because under the Rules of Court there was no “disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ of a court.”

“A contempt order usually arises according to the Rules of Court for ‘any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice.’ It is not the case,” she said.

But Santiago also pointed to a 2011 case, Strategic Alliance Development Corp. v. Star Infrastructure Development Corp. where the Supreme Court held: “Although the general rule is to the effect that a writ of preliminary injunction cannot be issued against acts already fait accompli it has been held, however, that consummated acts which are continuing in nature may still be enjoined by the courts.”

She said this “apparent collision” between the 2008 Gobenciong case and the 2011 Strategic Alliance case should be resolved by the Court of Appeals.

One of the petitioners, she said, might also elevate the case on a petition for review on certiorari concerning a question of law to the Supreme Court, which has discretion on whether to pass upon the petition. - INQUIRER

 

Filipino workers in Jordan advised to legalize stay

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:36

Overseas Filipino Workers waiting for their luggage at the carousel - image" globalbalita.com

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are illegally staying in Jordan were asked by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to avail of the 60-day amnesty to be able to correct their status in the host country.

Based on the report Labor Attache Florenda Herrera to Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Filipino workers who have lost their work visas, residency permits, and whose status are irregular, including those who are overstaying may avail of the program.

“I urge all OFWs whose stay in Jordan are irregular to heed the Jordan government’s offer of amnesty and legalize their stay. This is for your own good,” she said in a statement.

Baldoz also urge irregular OFWs in Jordan to take advantage of this opportunity by visiting the Labor Directorates of the Ministry of Labor in their places of stay “where they can fix their documents and correct their status.”

On the other hand, Herrera noted that the amnesty, which was approved by the Jordan Ministry of Labor, covers all foreign workers in the Kingdom, who had not left the country, but have received payments for their Social Security, i.e., their reimbursements of their contribution as a result of termination of employment.

Likewise, it includes first-time workers regardless of how they entered Jordan. The exception is restricted nationalities who must apply to the Ministry of Labor.

Also covered are migrant workers who entered Jordan with expired recruitment contracts, and did not complete the process of obtaining valid work permits; migrant workers who will transfer from one industry sector to another, such as a household service worker transferring to a semi-skilled occupation; and workers who have been sentenced with deportation, but has not been carried out at the start of the amnesty.

“As to the transferees, the exception are workers who transfer to the agriculture sector and those who transfer from the so-called Qualifying Industrial Zone to any other industry sector,” Herrera explained.

At the same time, she added that based on the provisions of the amnesty, Jordan will stop receiving requests for recruitment of all nationalities, except from workers for Qualifying Industrial Zones and domestic workers.

The Kingdom, however, will continue to process the adoption of the licensed professions, taking into consideration the agreed ratio of Jordanian workers against foreign workers.

As of the first quarter of 2014, the estimated number of Filipinos in Jordan is 29,515, of whom 16,519 are regular while 12,996 are irregular.

OFWs there are mostly domestic workers (17,429); professionals (3,505); semi-skilled (3,891); and other workers (3,120).

Filipino professionals are mostly hired as nurses, engineers, and IT consultants, while the highly-skilled are working as machine operators, heavy equipment mechanics, and welders.

The semi-skilled ones are mostly hotel workers and wellness and hospitality workers. - PNA - The Manila Times

Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew died at 91, World leaders pay Tributes

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:29

Lee Kuan Yew- dies at 91- therealsingapore.com

Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew dead at 91

Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world’s richest nations, died Monday. He was 91.

Lee was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb. 5 for pneumonia and was later put on life support. The prime minister’s office said he “passed away peacefully.”

Lee guided Singapore through a traumatic split with Malaysia in 1965 and helped transform the sleepy port city into a global trade and finance center. He stepped down in 1990.

President Obama called Lee a “visionary” and “true giant of history.”

IMF, World Bank chiefs send condolences

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a visionary statesman whose wisdom and leadership will be remembered by people all around the globe.

"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, Founding Father of Singapore. He was a visionary statesman whose uncompromising stand for meritocracy, efficiency and education transformed Singapore into one of the most prosperous nations in the world,'' said Ms Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director.

"His wisdom and leadership will be remembered by people all around the globe.

"On behalf of the International Monetary Fund, I extend our condolences to his family and the people of Singapore," she said in a statement.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim also extended his "sincere condolences" to the people of Singapore and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death.

"We will be forever grateful to the former Prime Minister for his role as a pioneer of development and the architect of modern Singapore. We were privileged to have had a close working relationship with him over several decades.

"The late Prime Minister is recognized around the world for transforming Singapore in a short time from an undeveloped nation to one of the most successful high-income countries in the world. He showed that a city-state with few natural resources could rapidly evolve into a global trading hub and financial powerhouse through education, integrated planning, and a highly trained civil service. He tackled corruption relentlessly and held public servants to the highest standards. Most importantly, he showed that economic development could provide opportunities and improve the lives of a country’s citizens," the statement from Mr Kim read.

Mr Lee, who was Singapore's first elected prime minister, died on Monday aged 91.

World leaders pay tributes to Lee Kuan Yew

A man reads tributes to Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, at the Singapore General Hospital on Monday. Lee died on Monday aged 91, triggering a flood of tributes to the man who oversaw the tiny city-state's rapid rise from a British colonial backwater to a global trade and financial center.- Reuters

MARCH 23:  World leaders expressed their condolences and paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, who died on Monday aged 91.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

"A far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life teaches valuable lessons to everyone. News of his demise is saddening."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

"Hillary and I mourn the passing of Lee Kuan Yew. Prime Minister Lee transformed Singapore into one of the world's strongest and most sustainable economies. He also firmly established his country as an important friend and partner of the United States.

"After leaving office, he continued to offer brilliant analysis and wise advice to those who sought it. We will always be grateful for our fascinating conversations with him over the years. Our thoughts are with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his entire family, and all the people of Singapore."

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

"Lee was a visionary leader who spearheaded Singapore's economic growth and helped it become one of the most prosperous countries in the world today. He understood the importance of economic integration and effective governance to building a thriving, modern economy. He was a pragmatist, and sometimes uncompromising. But his commitment to delivering excellence in public service was exemplary."

Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou

"Lee was a solid friend to the Republic of China and played a key leadership role in promoting the development of bilateral relations.

"Lee was a visionary and world-class leader. Under his leadership, Singapore, in just 50 years, has developed into an important trade hub in Asia with impressive economic strength.

"Lee led an unpretentious life. His self discipline was very strict."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

"The late former PM is a close friend of Indonesia, known as the founder of modern Singapore. A great leader and statesman who loves his people, he is also known as an influential political figure in Asia.

"Under his leadership, Singapore has transformed itself to be the main economic hub in Asia and brought itself to par with the other developed countries."

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

"I pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's determination in developing Singapore from a new nation to the modern and dynamic city we see today. His achievements were great, and his legacy is assured."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

"Today, we mourn the passing of a giant of our region. Fifty years ago, Lee Kuan Yew led a vulnerable, fledgling nation to independence. Today, thanks to his vision and determination, Singapore is one of the world's most successful countries.

"In Lee Kuan Yew's own words, Singapore's remarkable journey has been from 'third world to first'.

"Thanks to his leadership, Singapore is now one of the world's most prosperous nations, a financial powerhouse, and one of the world's easiest places to do business.

"Our region owes much to Lee Kuan Yew. Here in Australia and beyond, leaders sought and learned from his wise counsel."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

"As the founding father of Singapore, who helped to create the foundations of the prosperity that Singapore enjoys today, he was one of Asia's great leaders.

"I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family and also my deepest sympathies to the citizens of Singapore."

Philippine President Aquino extends solidarity with Singapore, pays tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has extended the Filipino people's "solidarity with Singapore at this time of mourning", as he honoured Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has extended the Filipino people's "solidarity with Singapore at this time of mourning", as he honoured Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

"An era has passed, one upon which Singaporeans can look back on with deep pride and a sense of accomplishment," said Mr Aquino.

"Throughout his long life, as prime minister and senior minister, Mr Lee demonstrated an unswerving devotion to his country, turning it into a statement that would be an exemplar of efficient, modern and honest governance," he said.

He added: "The development of Singapore has earned it the respect of nations and peoples, including the tens of thousands of Filipinos who work there and visit the country."

Mr Aquino also extended his personal condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Philippine military consultant and defence analyst Jose Antonio Custodio said: "With Lee Kuan Yew's passing, Filipinos have one less statesman who frankly pointed out what exactly ails the Philippines."

A Philippine Foreign Ministry statement said: "The Philippines joins the Singaporean people in mourning the passing of their first Prime Minister and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world. His fortitude, political will and wisdom will continue to be an inspiration in the years to come."

In Manila, Singapore Philippine Association head Peter Tay said Mr Lee’s “transformative role and leadership in making Singapore the innovation capital that we all know today is immeasurable”.

“Mr Lee’s presence will be clearly missed,” added Mr Tay.

Sources:  NY Daily, Straitstimes, Hindu Business line,

Manila Fashion Festival Day 3: Of post-punk poetry, bird migration, and love

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 19:47

Heart Evangelista-Escudero presents a gown by Mark Bumgarner during the third night of Manila Fashion Festival, March 21, 2015. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla, InterAksyon.com.

On the third night of Manila Fashion Festival fall/winter 2015 show, Art Personas’ CEO Ronnie Cruz shared that the biannual event is all about “selling, vision, and inspiration.”

“Manila Fashion Festival is all about the business of fashion; the vision of creating possibilities and where MFF would be; and about inspiration,” Cruz said in a welcome remark.

Big names in the fashion industry including Rhett Eala who is celebrating his 25 years in the fashion industry, Cheetah Rivera, Pablo Cabahug, Mark Bumgarner, and Art Personas’ ARIN conquered the runway on the third day of the fashion event.

Beauty queen Ariella Arida and actress-host Heart Evangelista-Escudero also struted the runway for Arin and Mark Bumgarner respectively.

Eclectic themes

The designers took inspiration from different themes, and Rhett Eala warmed up the stage; showing his collection entitled Post-punk Poet that was “inspired by the music of Jay Z and Lauryn Hill, the cultural styling featured in Osaka and London, as well as the essence of the tribes of punks and Mongols.”

Composed of tops, pants, sweatshirts, and dresses for men and women, with a fusion of ethnic, athletic, and sporty shapes, Eala used neutral colors of black, white, and gray accentuated with a pop of chartreuse. Detailed hand embroidery as well as metallic embellishments can also be noticed on Eala’s pieces.

A model presents Rhett Eala’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection for men on the third day of Manila Fashion Festival, March 21, 2015. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla, InterAksyon.com.

From punk, Cheetah Rivera took the audience in an adventure with nature with her collection she calle Aviona.

Inspired by the “great migration of long distance wandering birds,” Rivera’s Aviona featured gowns and dresses with  detailed embroideries of colorful birds in flight. Neutral colors of white, black, nudes, navy blue,and  indigo were accentuated with embroideries of birds in loud colors of pink, red, and orange.

Art Personas’ ARIN also explored on the punk movement with the collection entitled Pretty Vacant. Mostly for women, ARIN’s collection “embodies rawnes and edge, inspired by the diverse era of the punk movement.” Mostly ready-to-wear pieces for women that are sporty and boyish, the collection are casual wears that were made for the dynamic individuals who want comfortable wear.

The collection, some in patterned fabrics, were composed of tops, pants, coats, and dresses, which were moslty in colors of red, white, and black.

Sporty met class in Cabahug’s collection he called Sporty Luxe. Exploring on the sporty look, Pablo Cabahug’s pieces were inspired “by sporty silhouttes, of shapes that embody luxury and freshness.”

For men and women, Cabahugs pieces were composed of jackets, dresses, pants, tops, and skirts that were mostly in neutral colors of black, white, and nude.

‘Sporty meets class; in Pablo Cabahug’s pieces for men and women. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla, InterAksyon.com

Closing the show was Mark Bumgarner who showed his collection he called as L’Amour. His pieces “explored romantic silhouttes,” and was “inspired by the essence of love.”

Mostly in pastels and red, the long gowns used luxurious fabrics that were cut in intricate shapes, which created movement and fluid effect.

With the palette used, and details such as floral embellishments and beadworks, Bumgarner’s works are very feminine and fits a princess-look.

Today, Sunday, the festival culminates its Fall/Winter 2015 presentation with the collations of Banggo Niu, Esme Palaganas, Tony Evan, and Bea Samson at 5 p.m. Then, at 7 p.m., Mark Tamayo, Sassa Jimenez, Ziggy Savella, Vania Romoff, and Jaz Cerezo present the last collations of Manila Fashion Festival Fall/Winter 2015. - Interaksyon.com

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