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Vol. 3. No. 21

LOS ANGELES

A Balita Media Publication

Wednesday - Tuesday, February 5-11, 2014

Palace: PHL keeping lines open with HK on visa row MANILA, Feb 1 (Mabuhay) – The Philippines will maintain open lines of communication with Hong Kong in the wake of visa requirements the Hong Kong government imposed on holders of red and blue (official) Philippine passports, Malacañang said Saturday. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine government is always ready to resolve the issue through dialogue. “Siguro nakita ninyo sa ating pahayag sa nakaraang araw, we take it as it is. Pinapakita natin na patuloy ang ating pagiging bukas (You have seen in past days that the Philippine government has kept communication lines open),” she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. See PALACE, page 14 Michael Christian Martinez, the lone Filipino athlete that will see action in the Winter Olympics. (Photo from the Facebook Page of Michael Christian Martinez)

Filipino figure skater to see action in one of Winter Olympics centerpiece events BY DAVID CASUCO

LOS ANGELES, Jan 29 (Mabuhay) – The lone Filipino athlete that will see action in the Winter Olympics capped his preGames preparation in Moscow at the Novogorsk Training Center in Khimki, a region 844 miles north of Sochi where the Winter Games will be held on February 7-23, 2014. His name is Michael Christian Martinez, and his event is

the men’s figure skating singles, one of the traditional centerpiece events in the Winter Olympic Games. The men’s figure skating starts on Feb. 13, 17:00 pm onwards with competitors taking the ice with their short programs (SP). Lots will be drawn for the skating order. Freeskates (FS) are scheduled on Feb. 14 . Only the top 24 performers will advance to the See FILIPINO SKATER, page 14

President Barack Obama waits with Sergeants at Arms and Members of Congress before entering the House Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2014 Standing with the President are, from left: Paul Irving, House Sergeant at Arms; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and Terrance Gainer, Senate Sergeant at Arms. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama won’t prejudge GOP immigration plan WASHINGTON, January 31, 2014 (AFP) – President Barack Obama said Friday he hoped to resolve differences with Republicans on whether to offer illegal immigrants eventual citizenship, saying he was “modestly optimistic” about the prospects for reform. Obama gave his first reaction to a long-awaited plan by Repub-

licans in the House of Representatives for immigration reform – an issue that represents perhaps his sole hope for a meaningful domestic legislative victory in his second term. The president backs an eventual path for citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, See IMMIGRATION, page 14

China accuses Japan of stoking tensions with air defense rumors BEIJING, February 2, 2014 (AFP) - China has accused Japan of heightening regional tensions with “rumours” that Beijing planned to declare a new air defence zone over the South China Sea. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said right-wing forces in Japan had repeatedly made such allegations with the intention of shifting international attention

from the “plot” to change Japan’s pacifist constitution, the official Xinhua news agency reported. “We sternly warned these forces not to mislead public opinions with rumours and play up tensions for their own selfish benefit,” he said in a press release Saturday quoted by Xinhua. Japan’s Asahi Shimbun daily reported Friday that Chinese air See JAPAN STOKING, page 14

The DFA described as “unfortunate” Hong Kong’s decision to scrap the visa-free arrangements for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials but reiterated that the Philippines will not apologize for the 2010 Manila hostage crisis. “At the end of the day, we submit that the act of one individual should not be construed as the act of the entire nation,” President Benigno Aquino has said.

PHL climate change AFP focusing on neutralizing envoy leads new BIFF’s IED-making capability protest fast MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – natin ang areas of influence. BY KARL MALAKUNAS

MANILA, January 31, 2014 (AFP) – A Philippine diplomat who went without food for 14 days last year will lead another fast on Saturday in a bid to pressure world leaders over climate change. Naderev “Yeb” Sano, the Philippines’ lead negotiator at United Nations climate talks, drank only tea and water throughout the last meeting in Poland in November, garnering world headlines and praise from developing nations. Sano’s latest symbolic one-day hunger strike is an attempt to maintain pressure ahead of the next UN talks in Peru, with his tactics beginning to attract followers around the world via social media. “The objective is to keep connecting with the people who believe in climate justice ... I’ve always believed in fasting as an important instrument in provoking change,” Sano told AFP. Sano will carry out his February fast while visiting Tacloban, a city in the eastern Philippines that was devastated when Super Typhoon Haiyan tore across the region in November.

After capturing the main camps of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is aiming to neutralize the armed group’s capability to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In a radio interview on Monday, AFP public information office head Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the IEDs have been tagged as the cause of the deaths and injuries sustained by government troops. “Majority ng wounded and killed in action, dahil sa IED. Napakaimportante ma-takeover

Ang importante, hindi natin sila binigyan ng pagkakataon magcontinue ng training at gumawa ng IED,” Zagala said. He said at least 52 BIFF members had been killed while one soldier died in action, even as 20 soldiers and eight civilians had been wounded during last week’s operations. Last week, government troops captured the main camps of the BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The BIFF had been linked to

See AFP FOCUSING, page 14

See CLIMATE CHANGE, page 14

DTI urges businesses to seize opportunities in AEC 2015 MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has urged the business community to seize opportunities through the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015. Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Adrian Cristobal Jr. said investors and businesses should take advantage of the free flow of investments in the region as it is the “key to the transformation of ASEAN into a single market and production base.” See DTI URGES, page 14

“I remember last time believing that I won the first fight against Tim Bradley. I thought I was leading after every round. I thought I won the fight easily. I controlled the fight every round,” said Manny Pacquiao (left) on Tuesday when he and Timothy Bradley faced the members of the media in Los Angeles. As it turned out Bradley won the first fight and Pacquiao lost the crown even after a review by boxing officials who said that Pacquiao did indeed win. The two will have a rematch on April 12 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Benny Uy

DOE achieves zero backlog in classrooms, Aquino says CARMONA, Cavite, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that the government finally achieved a zero backlog in classrooms with the construction of 66,813 classrooms. In his speech during the ceremonial turn-over of the 66,813 classrooms at the Carmona National High School here, the Chief

Executive said the Department of Education (DepEd) finally achieved its target of zero backlog last December, 2013. “Nang maupo tayo sa puwesto, tumambad sa atin ang nakakalulang kakulangan sa sektor ng edukasyon. Kapos tayo sa libro, silya, at mga guro. Mayroon din tayong – eto na po ang pamosong See DOE ACHIEVES, page 14

US judge approves $8.5-B Bank of America settlement WASHINGTON, February 1, 2014 (AFP) – A US judge has approved an $8.5 billion settlement between Bank of America and a group of investors for losses on dodgy mortgage-backed securities whose collapse triggered the 2008 financial crisis. Justice Barbara Kapnick of the New York State Supreme

Court green-lighted the 2011 accord Friday, rejecting demands to void it by some investors, including insurer AIG, who called it inadequate and alleged conflicts of interest, according to the decision seen by AFP. Kapnick said the Bank of New York Mellon, representing the defrauded investors, “did not abuse

its discretion in entering into the settlement agreement and did not act in bad faith or outside the bounds of reasonable judgment” in negotiating the deal with Bank of America. Hoping to put its disastrous 2008 purchase of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial behind See JUDGE APPROVES, page 14

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Senate Majority Leader Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (left) confers with Sen. Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (right) and Sen. Sonny Angara before the start of the Senate Session on Monday (Jan. 27, 2014). (MNS photo)

Senate to file perjury charges vs David Bangayan MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – The Senate agriculture committee on Monday is set to file perjury charges against businessman David Bangayan for allegedly lying under oath during the Senate’s investigation on rice smuggling. However, instead of detaining him, Sen. Cynthia Villar directed the Senate legal counsel to file perjury charges against Bangayan before Friday this week. She said she will also ask the Department of Justice and Bureau of Immigration to place Bangayan under the immigration watchlist. She said the panel will ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel his passport. Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she has already placed Bangayan in the watchlist. She also said the National Bureau of Investigation is set to serve the arrest warrant for Bangayan issued by the Caloocan regional trial court in connection with a charge for violation of RA 7832 or the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage. De Lima said this is the same arrest warrant issued by the court against David Tan, which is allegedly an alias used by Bangayan. The justice chief said the DOJ issued a manifestation to the court, saying that Bangayan and Tan are one and the same person. Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was the first to move to cite Bangayan for contempt after the senator

insisted that Bangayan is alleged smuggling king David Tan. Enrile cited as evidence Bangayan’s own libel complaint against Jesus Arranza in 2005 wherein he admitted that he is Bangayan “aka David Tan.” Bangayan, however, said his lawyer made a mistake in filing the complaint and that he was merely quoting a newspaper report identifying him as Tan. Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also confirmed that Bangayan had been using the alias David Tan. Sen. JV Ejercito then seconded Enrile’s motion to cite Bangayan for contempt. For his part, Bangayan said it is common practice that import permits are sold among rice importers because of the restrictions imposed by government. He said that in 2012, his group only cornered about 7% of total rice importations to the Philippines that year. Bangayan said he only started in rice importation in 2011. The National Food Authority said Bangayan is not a registered rice importer and has no permit to import rice. This is despite a letter from the Vietnamese embassy that said a company linked to Bangayan had signed a contract to import 120,000 metric tons from Vietnam in October 2013. The importation did not push through after the NFA did not issue an import to Adolphe Trading. Adolphe’s office is at Unit 401, Prestige Tower in Pasig City, which is owned by Bangayan. (MNS)

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Two Filipino TV journalists wounded in bomb blast SAUDI AMPATUAN, February 1, 2014 (AFP) – Two journalists at a major Philippine TV broadcaster were injured on Saturday after a bomb exploded as they were covering fighting between soldiers and hardline Muslim rebels, a military commander said. A reporter and cameraman at ABC-5 were among at least six civilians hurt by the improvised explosive device that exploded in Saudi Ampatuan town in the troubled southern island of Mindanao, said Colonel Edgardo Gonzales. ix soldiers were also wounded in the explosion, the military added. “This morning... as our soldiers were on a security patrol, they were hit by an IED. By coincidence the civilians and the TV crew were there,” Gonzales told AFP. The head of ABC-5’s news division, Luchi Cruz-Valdes said cameraman Adrian Bulatao’s injury was “serious” with shrapnel wounds over the right side of his body.“Bulatao is in shock but conscious, in pain,” she said in an SMS message. TV reporter Jeff Caparas was also wounded but was still on his

feet, she added. “It was a good thing they were wearing protective helmets and vests,” said regional military spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso. Caparas later said over the TV station that his crew had stopped to cover an earlier bomb blast when another explosion took place. The news team had been covering days of fighting between government forces and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway Muslim rebel group opposed to peace talks with the main Muslim organization. The military has said that 52 rebels and one soldier had been killed since the government launched an offensive against the BIFF almost a week ago. The military operation was launched after the government successfully concluded peace talks with the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in order to end decades of fighting that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The BIFF is opposed to the talks and has previously launched attacks such as bombings in order to derail the peace process.

PHL to hunt hardline Muslim rebels after capturing camps AWANG , February 2, 2014 (AFP) – Philippine military officials on Sunday vowed to hunt down remaining splinter groups of hardline Muslim rebels after capturing their main camps in a week-long offensive. The threat posed by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has diminished due to the offensive that began Monday in remote parts of the troubled southern island of Mindanao, said national military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala. “They have split into smaller groups and further operations must be done to follow up,” he told reporters. These operations will be “smaller in scale,” he said, adding that they would also be held in coordination with the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The operation against the BIFF was launched two days after the government and the MILF successfully concluded peace talks aimed at ending decades of fighting that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The BIFF broke away from the MILF due to their opposition to the talks and has previously launched attacks to derail the peace process. At a military camp in the town

of Awang, the armed forces displayed items they recovered from the BIFF camps including bomb-making materials and pictures showing young boys being trained as soldiers for the militant group. This supported military accusations that the BIFF were using child soldiers and that three such youths were among the 53 insurgent fighters killed in the violence. One soldier was also slain in the fighting which included military artillery strikes of BIFF camps. A BIFF spokesman had previously denied that the group was using children and said the military were manufacturing the evidence. Among the other items captured in the camp were camouflage uniforms with MILF labels. However MILF vice-chairman for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar denied there was still a link between the two groups. “Those are not MILF uniforms. Anybody can make those uniforms,” he told AFP. Military spokesman Zagala also said there were no signs that the MILF was cooperating with the BIFF. President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday had previously vowed to crush “spoiler” rebels who were opposed to the peace deal.

His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, escorted by Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines His Excellency Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, Cor Unum Undersecretary Rev. Msgr. Segundo Muñoz and Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines deputy head of mission Rev. Msgr. Chibuike Onyeaghala, signs the Palace Guest Book at the Reception Hall of the Malacañan Palace for the courtesy call on Wednesday (January 29). (MNS photo)

Five injured in attack on Philippine church ZAMBOANGA, February 2, 2014 (AFP) – Five people were injured Sunday when motorcycleriding men hurled a grenade into a church in the troubled southern Philippines in a city known for Muslim rebel activity, officials said. One of two men on the motorcycle threw the grenade into the Roman Catholic church in a suburb of the city of Zamboanga just as a group of senior citizens were meeting there, police and district officials said. Four senior citizens and one passer-by were injured, said district chief Jodifer Arquiza. “It (the motive) is unlikely to be

not hesitate. I will do it for my country,” Duterte told the Senate agriculture committee during a hearing on rice smuggling. Earlier during the hearing, the Davao mayor identified Bangayan as the same person using the alias “David Tan” to smuggle rice to his city’s port. Duterte had also earlier threatened to kill “David Tan” if

SHARIFF SAYDONA MUSTAPHA, February 1, 2014 (AFP) – Photographs of child soldiers were among the items left behind as the military overran a camp of hardline Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines, a military commander said on Saturday. Colonel Edgardo Gonzales said that he found the photos when he inspected the 7.5-hectare (18-acre) camp of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) rebel group in the remote town of Shariff Saydona Mustapha on Saturday. “There were pictures of children carrying rifles. Some looked like they were 12 years old,” Gonzales told AFP as he searched through the abandoned camp about 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of Manila. “They were showing off their ca-

ever the latter sets foot in Davao City. “I want smuggling of rice in my city stopped. But if you still do not stop your smuggling activities, I will kill you,” Duterte was quoted as saying in a press conference in the city last Jan. 7, 2014. This has prompted the Commission on Human Rights to warn Duterte against making such public threats. (MNS)

DOJ takes over all cases related to Vhong mauling incident MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – The Department of Justice has consolidated all cases related to the mauling of actor Vhong Navarro in a condominium in Taguig City last month. In a one-page order issued on Monday, Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, head of the National Prosecution Service which is under the DOJ, said they were consolidating two cases because they “arose from the same inci-

dent, founded on the same factual and legal issues involving same parties.” The consolidated cases included the rape case filed with the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office by model-stylist Deniece Cornejo against Navarro, who was mauled by friends of Cornejo led by Cedric Lee inside the Forbeswood Condominium at the Bonifacio Global City. The rape case was consolidat-

ed with a separate case filed with the DOJ by Navarro against his own accuser, Cornejo, Lee and several other involved in the mauling. Navarro filed cases of illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, illegal arrest, and blackmail. The Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office was also asked to turn over all records of the case filed by Cornejo to the DOJ “immediately upon receipt hereof.”

Start admin probe vs ERC chair Ducut, solon asks Malacañang MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello on Monday called on Malacañang to start its investigation against Energy Regulatory Commission chairperson Zenaida Cruz-Ducut for her supposed dereliction of duty on the power rate hike. Bello said that in view of the alleged hesitance of Malacañang to sack Ducut, the process to determine her administrative liability on the record-high power rate increase should at least start. “There is no legal obstacle in firing her so we are puzzled why Malacañang is hesitant to do it

despite the obvious inefficiency. Kaya dapat magsimula na ang proseso, get the process moving on whether she goes or not,” he said at a news forum in Manila. On January 23, Bello and fellow Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez filed an administrative complaint against Ducut and asked President Benigno Aquino III to remove the ERC chief from her post. In seeking the ouster of Ducut, the Akbayan lawmakers said she is “guilty of gross neglect of duty by tacitly approving without the barest hint of due process the unprecedented

scene of a bloody siege in September by another Muslim armed group which feared that the peace talks with the MILF would sideline them. More than 240 people were killed in the three weeks of fighting in Zamboanga, a city with a mixed Christian and Muslim population. Despite the threats of violence, government and MILF negotiators on January 25 announced that they had successfully completed talks aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim insurgency that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Photos of child soldiers found at Muslim rebel camp: military

Duterte on alleged rice smuggler Banga an: ‘I will gladly kill him’ MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – In front of alleged rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that he “will gladly kill” the controversial trader if caught smuggling in the city. “Sabi, may bumaba ditong smuggled goods. Sabi ko pagbababarilin ko kayo. If this guy goes, I will gladly kill him. I will

personal. What can they get from these senior citizens? Perhaps this is a message,” he told reporters. The local police chief, Chief Inspector Felixberto Martinez, said they were pursuing all possible leads but could not give a motive for the attack. The bombing came days after troops elsewhere in Mindanao island launched a major operation against a breakaway Muslim rebel group opposed to peace talks with the main Muslim rebel organisation, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Zamboanga City was also the

generation charges Meralco sought to pass on to consumers in the months of December 2013, February 2014, and March 2014.” Bello said that based on the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court, the heads of the commissions are subject to the supervening authority of the President. He said the President can suspend or fire them. Presidential Communications Operations head Herminio Coloma Jr. earlier said that there will be due process and the option that can be taken by Ducut is voluntary resignation.

pability. There were four kids posing with guns. I believe it was not just for show. I believe those rifles were issued to them,” he said. The military launched an offensive against the BIFF on Monday, just two days after the government successfully concluded peace talks with the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The week’s fighting left one soldier and at least 53 BIFF members dead, including three child soldiers recruited by the rebels, the military said. Gonzales said the military would eventually release the pictures, which have not been seen by AFP. The colonel said he had not personally seen child soldiers but his men had reported encountering them in battles with the BIFF.

“My men have said they have seen kids. Some of them have no guns. They just follow a comrade from the BIFF and when the comrade is shot, they pick up his gun and start fighting,” he said. The BIFF is a small group of militants opposed to the peace effort with the MILF, which has carried out many deadly attacks in recent years in a bid to derail the peace process. On Saturday, the rebels set off two improvised explosive devices near the camp that wounded six soldiers and six civilians, including two crewmen of a major TV broadcaster. President Benigno Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said “the news that they used three child soldiers is shocking, beyond the fact that it violates so many laws, not just ours but international laws.”


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Palace condemns IED attack, use of minors by armed group in Mindanao MANILA, Feb 1 (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Saturday condemned the use of an improvised explosive device and so-called child warriors by armed groups fighting the government in Mindanao. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also urged the media to coordinate with officials on the ground especially in areas where fighting is likely to take place. “Hindi maganda ang balitang yan at hindi tayo natutuwa (What happened on Saturday morning was not good and we are not amused),” she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. Initial reports of Saturday’s incident showed at least six people were injured in an IED explosion in Maguindanao. Two were reportedly journalists. The military does not discount the possibility the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, could be behind the attack. In the meantime, Valte appealed to media agencies to abide by a safety protocol and to cooperate with government representatives, including those of the police and the military, especially in controlled areas. Meanwhile, Valte said the Palace is quite disturbed by the discovery of the remains of three child soldiers in one of the areas where fighting between the BIFF and government troops took place. “Kahindik-hindik ang balita na may tatlo sila ginagamit na child soldiers, beyond the fact that it violates so many laws, not just ours but of international laws. We condemn the practice of using child soldiers... Walang lugar ang paggamit ng menor de edad sa ganitong labanan (We are outraged that this group used child soldiers. This violates not just our laws but international laws as well. We condemn the practice of using child soldiers. Minors have no place in the battlefield),” she said. She said the government can help address the situation through child support services, as well as the commitment of its security forces that they will not use child soldiers or warriors. But she also appealed to parents to make sure their children are not recruited for such exploitation. “(S)a magulang, pakiusap natin sana huwag natin payagan ang anak, huwag natin payagang magamit sa ganitong paraan (We appeal to parents not to allow their children to be exploited this way),” she said. (MNS)

Gov’t satisfaction ratings drop for 2nd straight quarter MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – Public satisfaction with the Aquino administration dropped for a second quarter in a row, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said. The result of the December 11-16 SWS survey, first published by the BusinessWorld, said the Aquino government’s ratings remained at a “very good” +51, with 71% of the 1,550 respondents satisfied, 10% ambivalent and 19% dissatisfied. The net score was lower than September 2013’s “very good” +56 and the record +66 posted in June. Overall satisfaction with the administration dropped in all regions except Mindanao with “very good” +64. The administration’s ratings in Visayas dropped by 9 points to “very good” +51; 7 points to +52 in Balance Luzon; and 15 points to +30 in Metro Manila. The SWS noted that while the administration’s rating dropped, it is still significantly higher compared to previous governments. The polling firm said the highest rating for a previous administration is that of then President Joseph Estrada (“Good” +36) in November 1998. 13 issues Meanwhile, the administration scored “very good” in only two of the 13 issues: defending the country’s territorial rights (+52, up from the “good” +49 last September); and foreign relations (+50, up from +41). “Good” scores were recorded in terms of helping the poor (+49, down from a “very good” +54); promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (+44 from +48); and fighting terrorism (+33 from +35). “Moderate” scores were obtained in terms of reconciliation with communist rebels (+21 from +27); reconciliation with Muslim rebels (+21 from +25); and fighting crimes (+18, down from a “good” +35). The administration scored “neutral” in terms of eradicating graft and corruption (+8 from a “moderate” +23); and ensuring that no family will be left hungry” (+2 from +9). “Poor” scores were obtained for fighting inflation (-10 from a “neutral” +8); and ensuring that oil companies don’t take advantage of oil prices (-14 from a “neutral” zero three months earlier). Resolving the Maguindanao massacre remains to be a problem for the administration, with respondents giving it a “very bad” rating of -51.(MNS)

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Thai protesters defiant as US warns against coup BY APILAPORN VECHAKIJ

BANGKOK, February 3, 2014 (AFP) – The United States warned Monday against moves to stage a military coup in Thailand as anti-government protesters vowed to press on with their fight after a disrupted weekend election. With defiant demonstrators pledging to continue weeks-long street rallies aimed at ousting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the US said it was “concerned that political tensions” were challenging the divided kingdom’s democracy. Thailand’s protest-plagued elections have ushered in a new chapter of political uncertainty that experts say leaves the embattled government increasingly vulnerable to court intervention or a military coup. “We certainly do not want to see a coup or violence,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said after opposition protesters prevented voting at thousands of polling stations on Sunday, prompting election authorities to withhold results until ballots are cast in all constituencies. “We are speaking directly to all elements in Thai society to make clear the importance of using democratic and constitutional means to resolve political differences,” Psaki added. There is little sign of an end to the deadlock, with the ruling Puea Thai party braced for court challenges against the poll—which was boycotted by the main opposition Democrat Party—as well as other legal moves against Yingluck. The Thai premier’s opponents say she is a mere puppet for her elder brother Thaksin, who was ousted by the military in 2006 and lives in Dubai to avoid prison for a corruption conviction. Hundreds of protesters began another march across the capital Bangkok on Monday to raise support and funds for their three-month campaign to topple the government. The demonstrators want Yingluck to step down and make way for an unelected “people’s council” to oversee reforms to tackle corruption and alleged vote-buying. With no official figures for voter turnout, both sides claimed success in the election, which passed in relative peace after a gunfight on Saturday in a

Bangkok suburb stoked fears of serious clashes between the rival sides. “According to the constitution, the election must be held on the same day. It was impossible to do it,” protest spokesman Akanat Promphan told reporters at the start of the march. “It’s clear that this election must be nullified,” he said. The group said it would dismantle a number of protest stages in the capital but maintain its selfstyled “shutdown” of the city. ‘Victory for the people’ A defiant ruling party said ballots were cast by more than half of the 44 million Thais who were able to vote. Disruption was mostly in Bangkok and southern opposition strongholds. “That shows that half of the population wants democracy and wants a parliament formed by the majority,” said Puea Thai party spokesman Prompong Nopparit. “It is not a victory for Puea Thai but a victory for the people who love democracy and love peace,” he added. Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who is overseeing the government’s security response to the protests, predicted Puea Thai would claim “between 265 and 289 seats” at the polls. At the last election in 2011, Yingluck’s party won more than half of the available 500 parliamentary seats. The leader of the Democrats, Abhisit Vejjajiva, confirmed they would mount a legal challenge to the “illegitimate” poll because it “did not reflect the intention of the constitution or the people”. Thailand’s Election Commission has said 10,000 out of nearly 94,000 polling stations were unable to open, affecting millions of people, although it was unclear how many had planned to vote. Even if Yingluck wins she will remain in a caretaker role with limited power over government policy until elections are held in enough constituencies to have a quorum in parliament. “We remain concerned that political tensions in Thailand are posing challenges to the democratic institutions and processes of Thailand,” the US State Department’s Psaki told reporters in Washington.

Japan upset by S. Korean ‘comfort women’ comics at French show ANGOULÊME, February 2, 2014 (AFP) – Japan has expressed its “regret” at a South Korean exhibit at an international comic book festival in France featuring “comfort women” forced into wartime sex slavery in Japanese military brothels. Japan’s ambassador to France, Yoichi Suzuki, said he “deeply regrets that this exhibition is taking place”, saying it promoted “a mistaken point of view that further complicates relations between South Korea and Japan”. Up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and elsewhere were forced into brothels catering to the Japanese military in territories occupied by Japan during World War II, according to many mainstream historians. Franck Bondoux, director of the Angouleme International Comics Festival in western France, told AFP that Japan had not asked for the expo to be cancelled. South Korea’s Gender Equality and Family Minister Cho yoon-sun was present at the opening of the South Korean exhibit, entitled “The Flower That Doesn’t Wilt”, on Thursday. “The subject was proposed by the South Korean government but the artists were completely free to evoke the sub-

ject independently,” Bondoux said. The politically-charged issue of comfort women has stoked regional tensions, with South Korea and China insisting that Japan must face up to its World War II-era sexual enslavement of women from across occupied Asia. In a landmark 1993 statement, then-chief Japanese cabinet secretary Yohei Kono apologized to former comfort women and acknowledged Japan’s role in causing their suffering. But in remarks in 2007 that triggered a regionwide uproar, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said there was no evidence that Japan directly forced women to work as sex slaves. Last week, the Japanese government distanced itself from remarks by the head of the NHK public broadcaster, who had said the Japanese Imperial Army’s system of wartime sex slavery was commonplace “in all countries during war”. Katsuto Momii later apologised for “causing trouble” with the statement. The French regional Sud Ouest daily newspaper received a petition, ahead of the festival’s opening, from Japanese women indignant at the South Korean exhibit.

Aquino encourages responsibility in PHL media MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday evening made a new pitch for responsibility and discernment from the media through sober reporting. In his speech at the 114th anniversary of the Manila Bulletin in Manila, the President frowned on what he called unnecessary speculation and negativity. “This is what I have always asked of media: to raise the level of public discourse, instead of fueling unnecessary speculation and negativity that contribute to national apathy,” he said. He said that in the case of the Manila Bulletin, it has chosen not to trump up the worst news possible and cause despair among the public. Instead, he said the paper has “consistently given them a true accounting of the facts, and reason enough to be optimistic.” But the President clarified this does not mean he wants media to report only the good news. “The progress of our country can only be accounted for when it is measured against, and in spite

of, the challenges that we have endured,” he said, adding the Manila Bulletin has lived up to this by “exhibiting discernment and accountability through sober and responsible reporting.” On the other hand, the President noted the Filipino people have chosen the path of positivity and solidarity even in the face of negativity. He said that in the wake of the devastation brought by super Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) last year, Filipinos volunteered to repack relief goods and extend whatever help they can. “The naysayers, the irrational critics, the vested interests who measure their success through their ability to sacrifice the well-being of the nation to pursue their own, selfish agenda—all of them have been left in the dust by a nation that no typhoon, no faction, and no irresponsible columnist can break,” he said. “Our people have proven themselves more united, more discerning, more cooperative, and in particular, more committed to making change permanent than those who once tried to take advantage of them,” he added.

Actor’s death spotlights heroin epidemic BY JENNIE MATTHEW Automotive Advertising Manager

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NEW YORK, February 4, 2014 (AFP) – The shocking death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a suspected drugs overdose has spotlighted a growing epidemic of heroin use across the United States, officials warn. Hoffman, a 46-year-old father of three who was considered one of the finest character actors of his generation, was found lying on his apartment bathroom floor with a needle still stuck in his arm. Empty and full bags of heroin were found in the apartment and while the autopsy will confirm the precise cause of death, few expect any announcement other than an overdose. “Heroin is a growing epidemic,” US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman Joseph Moses told AFP. US heroin-overdose deaths rose by 45 percent from 2006 to 2010, and the amount of heroin seized each year on the Mexican border was up nearly four

times from 2008 to 2012, he said. “First time users are younger than they were years ago and it’s not in the cities anymore, it’s gone into rural areas, into suburbia,” Moses said. Hoffman is now the second high-profile actor in months whose death has been linked to the class A drug. Cory Monteith, the 31-year-old Canadian star of hit TV series “Glee”, died of an accidental heroin and alcohol overdose in a Vancouver hotel room last July. Renewed heroin use comes years after New York quashed its reputation as the heroin capital of the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, and the opiate became something of a taboo. It was a city where late rocker Lou Reed wrote “Heroin” in the 1960s about the drug that makes you feel “just like Jesus’ son.” Indelibly tied to the spread of HIV in the 1980s, use of heroin became a taboo as certain death and for its potent addictiveness.


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UTREACH LBC ‘Moves Forward’ through rebranding program BY MYRNA AQUITANIA

LBC’s new rebranding program was unveiled at a recent press conference called “Moving LBC Forward” held at Lem Balagot’s LA Rose Cafe in Los Angeles. Most of their corporate staff based in Northern California headed by Patricia Garcia, who manages all of their North America Region, were there to celebrate the company’s new “movement.” In her presentation, Ms. Garcia said that the new rebranding program of LBC goes “beyond moving boxes or transmitting money; it focuses on moving lives, warehousing and distribution globally.” Further, she said that “with every balikbayan box, or every shipment of goods are timeless memories of loved ones sending them, along with countless relief packages they have moved during

the recent devastating Typhoon Yolanda back home.” On LBC’s “Moving Forward” brochure, President Dino Araneta’s message “defined what LBC stands for as a group of people and as a brand.” In their “new brand promise to unite a common vision,” Mr. Araneta stressed the “three(3) key values that are fundamental to their customers which become the building blocks in their brand promise.” These are their 3 C’s: Certainty, Clarity and Convenience. “Certainty, because LBC gives customer confidence; Clarity, because LBC believes in providing transparent and timely information to their customers; Convenience, because LBC promises to move money, packages and goods globally.”

In a timely television interview of Dino Araneta which I have also watched recently, he recalled that LBC Express was started by his Dad 63 years ago and so when LBC celebrated their 60th Anniversary three years ago, they decided to “move forward” which also included the LBC Foundation. Further,Mr. Araneta said that as the current President of LBC, he was thankful that their Foundation was able to play a key part during Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation where they were able to help move 300 containers of relief goods that were more than just “padala.” Dino Araneta also mentioned their LBC Cycling program in the Philippines which

they started four years ago. This has evolved into an exciting and popular sporting event back home. Finally, the new LBC logo design’s symbol is called “Our Helpful World” and it is “shaped as a curve on each side depicting the friendly LBC smile where all the three curves merge to form a global forward-moving shape. The custom-designed logo typeface symbolizes friendliness, which re-

flects LBC’s promise to continue being the friend that people trust to move the things that matter to them.” In closing his message, Dino Araneta encourages all their customers to “experience the visibility of their service and accomplishment of their brand promise in order to shape a bright future together.”

Incarnation students hold concert for Haiyan Survivors

Students from Incarnation School in Glendale, CA will hold a benefit concert for the Haiyan victims on February 7, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the school auditorium. The theme of the concert is “Love is in the air; show that you care.” More than 50 students who auditioned last December will perform a variety of acts at this concert. This is the third fundraiser organized by Incarnation Class of 2014. Mrs. Imelda Rodriguez, the class moderator, has kept the the students updated about the effects of the devastation, and her class initiated a Thanksgiving and Christmas donation in 2013. All donations have been sent through the Catholic Relief Fund.

Led by North America Region Manager new rebranding program was unveiled at a recent press c Patricia Garcia (fourth from right) LBC announced their rebranding in a program called “Moving LBC Forward” held at LA Rose Cafe in Los Angeles.

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Super Bowl 48 sets record for TV viewers LOS ANGELES, February 3, 2014 (AFP) – Seattle’s 43-8 blowout of Denver in Super Bowl 48 offered little in the way of suspense, but 111.5 million viewers made it the most-watched television event in US history. Ratings released by the Fox network on Monday showed Sunday’s game also set a record for the most-streamed online sports event, while a whopping 25.3 million related tweets composed by 5.6 million authors were logged

before, during and after the contest. The viewership for the Seahawks’ lopsided victory eclipsed the previous record 111.3 million viewers who watched the 2012 Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, according to the Nielsen tracking service. The NFL’s championship spectacular is always a big TV draw and, until ratings for last year’s game showed a slight decline, the

Super Bowl had set viewership records for three straight years. The half-time show headlined by hit singer Bruno Mars, with guests the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was also a record breaker with an estimated TV audience of 115.3 million. That eclipsed the 110.8 million who watched Beyonce last year, as well as the previous record of 114.0 million set by Madonna two years ago. In its statement regarding the

ratings, Fox concluded that interest in the game was piqued by the fact that it was the first Super Bowl to be played in an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather location – and that it was played in the New York metropolitan area, a massive media market. Even though the Broncos didn’t manage to score until the end of the third quarter, viewership climbed through the first half. “Viewership remained impressively high through the fourth

quarter despite the fact that Seattle had the game well in hand,” a Fox statement said. Fox said the most active moments on social media during the game were when Seattle’s Percy Harvin returned the second half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown (429,000 tweets), the conclusion of the half-time show (424,000 tweets) and Most Valuable Player Malcolm Smith’s second-quarter interception return for a touchdown (300,000 tweets).

PALA begins Lunar New Year with Lion Dance PALA, CA, February 3, 2014…..Pala Casino Spa & Resort began its celebration of Lunar New Year, the Year of the Horse, with a traditional lion dance Friday evening, January 31, in a packed casino. Lunar New Year festivities will continue until Saturday, February 15, and Blackjack, Pai Gow Poker and Baccarat players can win extra cash in the casino’s $30,000 Good Luck & Good Fortune Drawing. Privileges Card Club members can earn entries into the $30,000 Saturday, February 15, cash drawing until 2 p.m., Saturday, February 15, by playing Blackjack, Pai Gow Poker or Baccarat. Privileges Card Club membership is free. Players will receive one drawing entry for every same-suit Blackjack, every full house or better in Pai Gow poker or when a natural tie hits with a natural eight or nine in Baccarat. Guests will be required to fill out each entry legibly and enter them in the $30,000 Good Luck & Good Fortune drawing drum that will be located at the casino’s North entrance. Drawings to win a share of $30,000 will start at 3 p.m., Saturday, February 15. Winners must be present. The schedule

Seated center are Joveno ‘Bing’ De La Vega, president of Kalayaan Inc., Consul General Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega (fourth from right, seated), and Deputy Consul General Imelda M. Panolong, with ‘Friends’ who are hosting the farewell party for Congen Hellen.

Farewell party for Consul General Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega: An invitation to the community “Friends of Consul General Maria Hellen Barber-De La Vega,” in cooperation with Kalayaan Incorporated, will tender a farewell party on March 1, at the Double Tree by Hilton, 13111 Sycamore Drive, Norwalk, CA 90650, to honor beloved Congen Hellen for her dedicated and outstanding service to the community. Dinner cost is $45 per person. Consul Gen. Barber-De La Vega, who is leaving early March, will assume the post of Senior Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Policy in the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs. De La Vega will be the Deputy to the Undersecretary on policy issues affecting Philippine relations with Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific countries and the United States. She is deemed the best person for the position in light of her academic expertise and invaluable experiences in Asian and Asian Pacific affairs, and her prior postings in several Asian countries including her recent tour of duty as Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of Myanmar. Prior to her assignment in

Myanmar in 2009, De La Vega served as Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister and Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, from September 2008 until August 2009 and as Executive Director at the Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 28 August 2007 until her assignment in Beijing. She also served as Consul at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, California from 2003 until 2007. Her previous overseas assignments, in different capacities in several Philippine Embassies, include: Tokyo, Japan; Madrid, Spain; and Jakarta, Indonesia. Please join ‘Friends’ in honoring Consul General Ma. Hellen Barber-De La Vega which will be a fitting and grateful recognition of her immense service to the community. Deadline for ticket payment is February 22. For more information, please contact event chair Zeny Sabocor at (323) 222-6531 or (323) 717-2841 (cell).

includes: 3 p.m. - $200 5 p.m. - $300 6 p.m. - $500 7 p.m. - $1,000 8 p.m. - $2,000 9 p.m. - $5,000 10 p.m.-$6,000 11 p.m.-$7,000 Midnight - $8,000 Pala also is celebrating the Year of the Horse with traditional Asian dishes at Choices the Buffet. The menu includes: Lucky Roasted Duck, Golden Baked Chicken, Fu-Chi Fish, Supreme Shrimp, Fried Rice with Sausages, Golden Cheese Wonton, Jade Ramen, Whole Suckling Pig, Fried Chinese Rice Cake, Sweet Red Bean Soup and Halo Halo for dessert.. Pala Casino Spa & Resort reserves the right to alter any promotions. Drawings will be conducted in accordance with the rules. In the case of force majeure, safety factors, equipment malfunction or extenuating circumstances, Pala Casino reserves the right to modify procedures in keeping with fairness and the best interests of all participants. About Pala Casino Spa & Resort Pala Casino Spa & Resort in-

Obamacare to kill 2-M jobs: Congressional Budget Office WASHINGTON, February 4, 2014 (AFP) – The White House launched a swift damage control effort Tuesday after a congressional watchdog suggested President Barack Obama’s health care law would mean the equivalent of more than two million fewer jobs. The report by the Congressional Budget Office offered fresh ammunition to gleeful Republicans who said it proved their long-

held argument that Obamacare, which they have repeatedly tried to repeal, would “kill” jobs. But the White House argued that the data in the report was being misinterpreted and said that claims the Affordable Care Act would turf people out of work were simply not borne out by the facts – even those in the report. “Claims that the Affordable Care Act hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement, which appeared just before the White .COM House conducted a hurriedly organized call for reporters. “Since the Affordable Care Act passed into law in March 2010 the private sector has added 8.1 million jobs,” Carney said. MODEL #2810 “That is the strongest 45 month job growth since the late 1990s and contrasts with the 3.8 million private sector jobs lost in the decade before the Affordable Care Act passed.” NET COST The White House TO YOU argued that the act would allow people to make more choices about their lives— 2014 CAMRY they would for inNOW IN STOCK! stance no longer have

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Photo shows (from left) PLDT U.S. Head Enrique Yu, PLDT Head International Sales Jose Alberto Tamayo, Consul General Ma. Hellen Barber De La Vega, PLDT U.S. Head Marketing Cynthia De Castro, Deputy Consul General Imelda Panolong and Consul John Reyes, the Consulate’s Economic Officer.

PLDT-US pays courtesy call to Consulate

Los Angeles, 28 January 2014 – Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) U.S. Representatives paid a courtesy call on Consul General Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega on 26 April 2013 at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles. Representatives of PLDT led by Mr. Enrique Yu discussed new products and services of PLDT for Filipino Americans in Southern California which will be launched in June this year, to coincide with the Philippine Independence Month celebration.


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Opposed by environmental and other activists, Swiss giant Glencore Xstrata ‘to pull out’ of PHL mining project MANILA, February 1, 2014 (AFP) – Swiss mining giant Glencore Xstrata is expected to pull out of a $5.9 billion gold-copper mining project in the Philippines, its Australian partner Indophil said. Melbourne-based Indophil Resources NL said in a quarterly report released this week that “Glencore Xstrata has advised Indophil of its preference to pursue divestment of its interest in Tampakan.” “All indications point to Glencore Xstrata seeking to divest its majority interest in the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project,” the report added. It said that a possible divestment of the Tampakan project had been under consideration since April 2013, seen as necessary in order to fulfil conditions set by the Chinese government to approve the merger of commodities giant Glencore and the mining company Xstrata. Glencore Xstrata also announced in September that it was no longer focusing on “greenfield” mines started from scratch - such as the Tampakan site - preferring to work on existing mines instead. The Indophil report conceded that the Tampakan project, located in the troubled southern island of Mindanao, had run into problems, chiefly the provincial government’s ban on open-pit mining which delayed the start of development. The mine would be the Philip-

pines’ largest ever foreign investment but it has faced opposition from church, community and environmental groups and would require numerous other government and community permits to be obtained. In August, 2013, Glencore Xstrata said it was laying off nearly all workers at the Tampakan project amid continued delays. Indophil said in its quarterly report that the company and its local partners “remain optimistic that the pathways for the development of Tampakan will be cleared.” Glencore Xstrata owns 62.5 percent and Indophil owns 37.5 percent of a joint venture that holds a 40-percent controlling stake in Sagittarius Mines, Inc., which operates the Tampakan project. Glencore Xstrata was also providing the “technical, financial and managerial resources for the development of the Tampakan Project,” the Sagittarius Mines website said. The Indophil statement did not say how the divestment would be carried out. But it stressed that “with Indophil holding a strategic pre-emptive right over Glencore Xstrata’s interest, Indophil has a considerable ‘say’ in any Tampakan divestment process.” “We will work with Glencore Xstrata to assist in meeting objectives for the project,” the report added.

PHL resets poverty level target, to miss 17.2% MDG goal MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has firmed up a poverty incidence target post-2015, which is up for final approval within the quarter, a ranking official said. It is “unlikely” to hit the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of bringing down to 17.2 percent the proportion Filipinos earning less than a dollar a day to the total population by 2015, NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra said in a chance interview late last week. “If we can bring it down to 18 to 20 percent by the end of the planned period” in 2016 “it would be great,” Esguerra said, citing the NEDA-proposed updates to the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2010-2016. According to the then National Statistical Coordination Board, the Philippines has a “low” probability of hitting the 17.2 percent MDG target, with the poverty incidence last recorded at 25.2 percent in 2012. NSCB and other government statistics offices are being consolidated under the Philippine Statistics Authority. The new target – which is waiting President Benigno S. Aquino III’s final say “in the first quarter” – took into account recent developments, including Typhoon Yolanda, that pushed back government initiatives in trimming the number of poor Filipinos, the NEDA official said. “To us, it’s now clear. Before it’s (17.2 percent) a fighting target, but after Yolanda we know it’s hard,” Esguerra said. Killer Typhoon Yolanda barreled through Central Philippines last Nov. 8, flattening towns and killing over 6,200 people. In a telephone interview Monday, University of Santo Tomas economist Alvin Ang said reducing poverty incidence level to 17.2 percent by next year is “very difficult... “Growth is good, but the poverty problem is structural. What the administration has done so far is commendable, we understand that it’s not easy,” said Ang, who is also president of the Philippine Economic Society. The solution requires region-specific programs creating employment and addressing infrastructure and agriculture

development bottlenecks, known to economists as the “regional or spatial approach,” he said. “Poverty rates in some areas are stubborn. So, you need now more focused interventions,” Ang said. This is exactly what NEDA included in the PDP update. “The most notable changes is the spatial and sectoral focus as well as inclusion of disaster resilience,” said Esguerra. “It’s more cognizant of the geographic specificity,” he added. The update to PDP was forwarded to the Palace “on the first working day of the year,” the NEDA official said. The draft was reviewed by inter-agency and regional stakeholders to ensure that economic initiatives will be felt at the grassroots. (MNS)

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Palace: Return of PDAF funds a matter between solons and Commission on Audit MANILA, Feb 1 (Mabuhay) – An order to at least four senators to return their Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations is strictly a matter between the lawmakers and the Commission on Audit, Malacañang said Saturday. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace cannot compel the four to comply with the COA order since

the senators are from a coequal branch of government. “Kami, wala kaming power of compulsion, knowing the senators belong to a separate and coequal branch of government (The Palace does not have the power to compel the senators to comply, knowing the senators belong to a separate and coequal branch of government),” Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo

ng Bayan. “This is a matter between the COA and the four senators who were issued notices of disallowance,” she added. Earlier reports indicated the senators had been linked to a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam after their PDAF allocations were alleged to have been funneled to bogus non-government organizations. (MNS)

Reps. Bello, Bag-ao, Belmonte, Gutierrez file ambitious bill seeking to end hunger MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – Can hunger be completely eradicated in the Philippines? Four lawmakers think so, especially if more land is allocated to producing more food. On Monday, Representatives Ibarra Gutierrez, Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, Jose Christopher Belmonte and Walden Bello filed the Right to Adequate Food Framework bill which seeks to make the provision of sufficient food for all Filipinos a government priority. Under the bill, government will be required to increase the land devoted to food production by 50 percent of all prime agriculture land in every region. A Commission on the Right to Adequate Food will also be created as an agency attached to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights to assess the impact and efficiency of the government’s programs against hunger. The lawmakers said the comprehensive bill aims to harmo-

nize the provisions of all laws related to Filipinos’ right to adequate food. The proposal also seeks to clarify the scope and content of the right, and establish standards for the government to meet the target of totally phasing out the incidence of hunger in the Philippines. “[The Constitution] make[s] it a State policy, and gives the State the corresponding obligation, to guarantee the fulfillment of the peoples’ right to adequate food,” the lawmakers said in the bill’s explanatory note. Should House Bill 3795 be passed, the government will be required to reduce the level of hunger incidence by 25 percent – from its current level – when the law takes effect. The incidence of hunger should be brought down by another 25 percent in the fifth and seventh years until it is completely eradicated in the 10th year. In an interview with reporters,

Gutierrez said eradicating hunger is possible if the government allocates sufficient resources to ensure the stability of food production all over the country. “Ang pangangailangan sa pagkain ay dapat tingnan na isang batayang karapatan at hindi afterthought at market-driven na konsepto. Kung kinakailangan na ang gobyerno ay mag-allocate ng mas maraming resources o mag-realign ng programa para ma-meet ang goal na [walang magu-gutom na Pilipino], then so be it. This is the principle behind our bill,” he said. Among the acts considered as a deliberate attempt to deny any individual access to food are the imposition of a food blockade, refusal to implement a food-related program and obstructing access to food in time of calamity or war. The penalty of prision mayor will be imposed on any individual or group found guilty of committing these acts. (MNS)

Groups ask SC to stop Orthopedic Center privatization MANILA, Feb 3 (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court on Monday was asked to stop the P5.6-billion Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) privatization for supposedly violating the constitutional right to health care and equitable access to health services. In a 62-page petition, a group of indigent patients, POC employees, health professionals, concerned citizens and progressive legislators opposed the “Modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center” project under the public-private partnership scheme of the Aquino administration. “The bleeding and injured destitute patients in representation of themselves and in representation of all others to be similarly situated come now to the Court because they are being rushed to the emergency or operating room for profit by those who should be taking care of themselves in the first place,” said said Edre Olalia, secretary-general and head of the legal team from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers

(NUPL). “They will be bled dry for commercial fees due to privatized health care service by forces preying on their miserable conditions, ” he added. The petitioners asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the privatization program from being implemented. The petitioners feared other government hospitals might end up eventually being privatized as well in case the POC project – awarded to the giant Megawide Construction Corp. and World Citi Consortium – pushes through. “Should this happen this first time with the POC, then all the rest of the government hospitals or public health facilities and services all over the country will follow this route and the health of the people and their basic right to it and access to health services will be bludgeoned to smithereens. “It would spell the death knell

by adding insult to injury, as it were,” said Olalia. The hospital operates on retainership by the Department of Health (DOH), and serves as the only Philippine hospital specializing in orthopedic disorders including cases of spinal injuries. The petitioners said current POC employees risk losing their jobs under the privatization program, since those who wish to stay at POC are not assured if they will be absorbed, while those who wants to stay in government service will have to transfer to another DOH hospital. Under the multibillion-peso project, the “modernized” POC is allowed to allocate only 70 beds for service (indigent) patients and 420 for sponsored (PhilHealth) patients – compared with the 562 beds or 85 percent of capacity for indigent patients now in practice, the petitioners noted. The new management would have an option not to accommodate non-paying patients if the 70 beds are already occupied, said the petitioners.


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Weight loss: Fight fatigue with these 5 pick-me-ups

One or two small squares of dark chocolate (5 to 10g) will not derail your weight loss plans. ŠShebeko/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – Efforts to slim down are almost always accompanied by a few moments of weakness, most of which are brought on by fatigue or frustration in the early stages of a weight loss plan. But that doesn’t mean you have to give into the temptation of a muffin or a croissant. Here is a list of 5 small snacks that can deliver a boost of energy and calm cravings without undermining your calorie-cutting efforts. Dark chocolate As long as you can limit your intake to one or two squares (less than 10g), there is no need to fear for your waistline, especially if you opt for dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70%. Rich in flavonoids and magnesium, dark chocolate can provide a much-needed energy boost and a welcome treat. French nutritionist Jean-Michel Cohen recommends dark chocolate as a way to treat yourself while restricting calories during the rest of the day. He suggests eating a square with a small amount of bread. Doctor RaphaÍl Gruman, meanwhile, an-

other French authority on weight loss, recommends eating dark chocolate during the stabilization phase, later in a weight loss plan, in moderation. A date with a dab of peanut butter Nutrition consultant Charlotte Debeugny insists that there is no reason to shun peanut butter during a weight loss program. Stigmatized because of its high fat content, peanut butter contains mainly unsaturated or “good� fats, which our body requires even when the goal is in weight loss mode. And with peanut butter, as with nuts and other nut-based products, a small amount can go a long way to calm a craving. Debeugny suggests spreading a tiny bit of peanut butter on the inside of a date for a satisfying mini snack. A rice cake with lowfat spreadable cheese To tide you over until the next meal, protein is key, and a few teaspoons of spreadable low-fat cheese can provide just the right amount for an afternoon or mid-

morning snack. Enjoy cheese on a puffed rice cake for the satisfying crunch, popcorn-like taste and – of course – low calorie count. A handful of berries Perhaps one of the most enjoyable low calorie foods around, berries are among the best ways to quell a rampant craving for sugar. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are low in sugar but deliver the sweet taste you crave, along with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. A citrus fruit According to Doctor Jean-Michel Cohen, a reasonable quantity of caffeinated beverages can provide a way around fatigue during a weight loss program, so tea and coffee are allowed. But coffee breaks can be challenging for those who usually enjoy cookies and cakes with their java. To satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing it, opt for an orange, half a grapefruit or a few clementines. In addition to providing a reasonable amount of natural sugar, citrus fruits deliver a dose of vitamin C and fiber.

How probiotics could help you lose weight (Relaxnews) – A new study claims that the regular consumption of probiotics could help accelerate weight loss in women. Published jointly out of food and yogurt giant NestlĂŠ and UniversitĂŠ Laval in Quebec, the research suggests that obese women who add probiotics to their diet plan – most commonly found in yogurt – could lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. Based on the premise that the intestinal flora of obese people differs from thin people – likely due to a diet high in fat and low in fiber – scientists set out to see if the consumption of “good bacteriaâ€? could help reset the balance of gut microbiota. To test out their theory, researchers recruited 125 overweight men and women who were put on a 12-week weight loss diet, followed by another 12-week maintenance program. During the 24-week period, half the participants were instructed to take two pills of probiotics daily, while the other half received a placebo. After the first period, women

who took probiotics lost an average of 4.4 kg (about 10 lbs) while their placebo counterparts lost 2.6 kg (about 6 lbs). By the end of the 24-week period, women in the probiotic group

Could probiotics found in yogurt help women lose weight? A study out of Quebec and NestlÊ thinks so. ŠAlessio Cola/ shutterstock.com

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had continued to lose weight for a total of 5.2 kg per person (about 11 lbs), while the placebo group remained stable. Overall, the results showed that women who took probiotics lost twice as much weight over the test period as those who took none. The probiotic group also experienced a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin and a decline in intestinal bacteria related to obesity. Interestingly, researchers note that the consumption of probiotics made no impact on male participants. Probiotics are thought to work by altering the permeability of the intestinal wall and helping keep pro-inflammatory molecules from entering the bloodstream, thereby preventing the chain reaction that can lead to weight-related illnesses like glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes and obesity. The research was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Probiotics have also been associated with reducing stress-induced gut flareups in a study published in Gastroenterology, and they are also being explored as a pathway for psychological well-being.

Biody Balance, a connected device capable of measuring muscle mass and body fat content, will be available in France from February 6. Šall rights reserved

New weight loss program uses smart tracking device (Relaxnews) – After connected forks, pressure cookers, clothes and pill boxes, healthconscious consumers can make way for the connected weight loss plan. Biody Balance, a new device launching February 6 in France, promises to help dieters reach their weight loss goals by bridging the gap between precise real world data and a coach in the cloud. Until now, healthcare professionals were the only ones with access to such accurate data on health indicators such as body fat percentage and muscle mass. A multi-frequency bio-electric impedance analysis device, Biody Balance is placed behind

the ankle, where it picks up on a range of biological measurements. The device is designed for use in tandem with a subscription to www.regime-connecte.fr, priced at ₏39 (around $53) per month. Using a Bluetooth connection, the Biody Balance device transmits biometric data directly to the user’s profile. Users simply log in to the online dieting site to view their data on their bone mass, water retention, muscle mass and body fat content: all indicators that can prove useful when it comes to setting realistic and healthy weight loss goals. And, since muscle weighs more

than fat, the Biody Balance has the potential to provide encouraging data on dieters’ progress, even when the bathroom scales haven’t budged. The device is also able to monitor the presence of certain nutrients, salts and minerals in the body. In light of this data, the dietary recommendations on the user’s online dashboard are adapted so that he or she can correct or avoid potential deficiencies. Users take a reading with the Biody Balance upon subscription, and carry out the analysis as often as they like after that, ideally once per week.

Lorde-ing it up: Beauty tutorials (Relaxnews) - Kiwi singer Lorde rocked a Gothic look at the Grammys last weekend (using a mix of two MAC Cosmetics lipsticks, the purple Heroine with Cyber, a brownish-purple shade, to get those perfect dark lips). In honor of the teen pop icon we took a look at how to steal her fashionably dark makeup style via three of her music videos. Tennis Court - http://youtu.be/ FkHEhLeViI4 Rachel Whitehurst provides this cool tutorial inspired by Lorde’s look in the “Tennis Court� video. She starts with foundation, lip balm and lip scrub. Then she moves on to the natural but defined eyebrow look, using tinted brow gel and filling in the ends to add some length. She then primes her eyelids, adds a blended eyeshadow (mix-

and primes her eyelids before drawing in the distinctive flick eyes from the video. Sharon adds mascara and applies concealer under her eyes, before working a little light contouring and blusher on the cheeks. Team - http://youtu. Lorde – ‘Team’ Inspired Makeup Tutorial. Š2014 YouTube, LLC be/WOhAkFVT3Yo Blogger Nikkie offers ing two shimmery shades), and highlights her brow bone. Mas- up this version of the makeup cara on upper lashes and dark from Lorde’s “Team� video. After priming her face, Nikkie lipstick finish the look. Royals - http://youtu.be/xJD- works in a brown color around her eye creases and adds a liquid PUOL6dnA For this “Royals� look, Sharon metal gold pigment on the lids. Farrell starts by applying prim- She finishes the eyes with smoky ing skin base all over her skin dark mascara and contours her before adding foundation and cheeks. The key touch is obviously concealer over any problem arLorde’s signature dark gothic eas. She then fills in her eyebrows lipcolor.


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PRAYERS PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT Holy Spirit Thou who make me see everything and show me the way to reach my ideal, You who give me the divine gift to forgive and forget the wrong that is done to me and who are in all instances of my life with me. I, in this short dialogue, want to thank You for everything and conÂżrm once more that I never want to be separated from You no matter how great the material desires may be. I want to be with You and my loved ones in Your perpetual glory. Amen. A person must pray this for three consecutive days without stating his wish. After the 3rd day the wish will be granted, no matter how difÂżcult it may be. Promise to publish this as soon as your favor has been granted. Grateful Thanks - ROMMEL

PRAYERS NOVENA TO ST. JUDE O most holy apostle, St. Jude, Faithful servant and friend of Jesus, people honor and invoke you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of. “Pray for me, for I am so helpless and alone. Please help to bring me visible and speedy assistance. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (state your request) and that I may praise God with you always. I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you by publishing this request. Amen. -LIV A.

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Oh most beautiful Àower of Mt. Carmel, fruit wine splendor of Heaven.Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh Star of the Sea. Help me and show me here you are my Mother. Oh Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in my necessity. (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee (3 times). Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands (3 times). Say this prayer for three consecutive days and then you must publish and it will be granted to you. Grateful Thanks. -B.J.

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KITCHENOMICS

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FAMILY FEATURES

reen beans are no longer a plain side dish for dinner. Here are some fun, kid-friendly recipes to try at home to help encourage your kids to eat a healthy serving of green beans. “Florida green beans are great with a dip. Try them with hummus, ranch or any of your favorite dressings,� suggested Justin Timineri, Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You can find more delicious recipes for Florida green beans at http://bit.ly/flsnapbeans.

Chef Justin Timineri

The Power of Green Green beans are a flavorful way to eat healthy all year around. ď Ž They are a good source of dietary fiber. ď Ž Green beans contain vitamin C and folic acid. ď Ž They are also an important source of potassium and many micronutrients. ď Ž One cup of cooked, fresh green beans has only 30 calories and no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

When choosing beans, look for plump, crisp beans that are reasonably well shaped. The beans should have even color with fresh blossom ends and snap readily when broken. Many people prefer smaller beans, which are usually more tender.

Green Bean Poufs

Green Bean Stir-Fry

Yield: 4 servings 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed 1 can prepared crescent roll dough Fill large sized stock pot 3/4 of the way full and lightly salt water. Bring lightly salted water to rolling boil over medium-high heat. Fill mediumsized mixing bowl halfway with ice and water. Add trimmed and cut green beans to boiling water and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using hand strainer, remove green beans from boiling water and place them into ice water to stop cooking. The green beans should be crisp-tender and vibrant green. After green beans have cooled down, remove from ice water and set aside. Dry blanched green beans with paper towel. Open tube of prepared crescent roll dough. Cut each dough roll into strips. Wrap bunches of 3 green beans in spiral manner and place on cookie sheet. Continue process until all dough and green beans are used. Bake wrapped green beans until the dough is cooked and golden brown. Let cool and serve. Kids Can: Wrap dough around the green beans.

Yield: 4 servings 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 cups fresh green beans, ends trimmed 2 cups sweet bell peppers, sliced 2 cups zucchini, sliced thin 1 cup carrot, sliced thin 2 tablespoons honey 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoon black and white sesame seeds Preheat large sautÊ pan or wok over medium high heat. Add olive oil to preheated pan. Carefully add all vegetables to preheated pan. Cook vegetables for 4 to 7 minutes or until desired doneness. Add honey and soy sauce to pan and stir to combine. Serve stir-fry with rice and garnish with sesame seeds. Chef’s Tip: Add favorite vegetables in place of the ones listed in recipe. Kids Can: Snap green beans and help measure honey and soy.

Mini Green Bean Casserole

Yield: 8 to 10 servings 1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed and cut into thirds 2 pounds potatoes, washed, peeled and diced large 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt 2 lemons, juiced 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine 1/4 cup olive oil Sea salt to taste Fresh ground pepper to taste Fill large sized stock pot 3/4 of the way full and lightly salt water. Bring lightly salted water to rolling boil over mediumhigh heat. Fill medium-sized mixing bowl halfway with ice and water. Add trimmed and cut green beans to boiling water and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using hand strainer, remove green beans from boiling water and place them into ice water to stop cooking. The green beans should be crisp-tender and vibrant green. After green beans have cooled down, remove from ice water and set aside. Carefully add cut potatoes to same boiling water greens beans were cooked in. Cook potatoes in boiling water for around 15 minutes depending on size. The potatoes should be slightly firm, yet tender to the bite. Using colander placed in the sink, drain potatoes and run cold water over them to cool off and stop cooking. In large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Stir yogurt mixture to combine. Taste potato salad and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep potato salad cold in refrigerator and stir before serving. Kids Can: Help combine ingredients for dressing.

     

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Yield: 4 servings 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1 tablespoon olive oil Fill large sized stock pot 3/4 of the way full and lightly salt water. Bring lightly salted water to rolling boil over medium-high heat. Fill mediumsized mixing bowl halfway with ice and water. Add trimmed and cut green beans to boiling water and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using hand strainer, remove green beans from boiling water and place them into ice water to stop cooking. The green beans should be crisp-tender and vibrant green. After green beans have cooled down, remove from ice water and set aside. Preheat oven to 370°F. Divide blanched green beans evenly into four mini casserole dishes. Add an even amount of cheese on top of green beans. In small bowl, combine panko bread crumbs and olive oil. Mix ingredients to combine. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top of green beans and cheese. Place mini green bean casseroles in oven and bake until bubbly and golden brown. Let cool before serving. Kids Can: Add shredded cheese to the top of green beans.

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Yogurt Dressing

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MOTORING Winter takes a bite out of US auto sales By Mira Oberman

CHICAGO, February 3, 2014 (AFP) – Massive snowstorms and bitter cold took a bite out of US auto sales in January, but Chrysler said Monday it extended a winning streak even as its rivals posted significant losses. January is typically the weakest sales month of the year as showrooms empty out following big year-end sales in December. But the unusually brutal winter weather – which buried huge swaths of the country in snow, ice and frigid temperatures – kept people at home and even delayed delivery of sales to government and corporate fleets. Total sales fell 3.1 percent compared with January 2013 while the seasonally adjusted sales pace fell to 15.2 million from 15.4 million in December, according to Autodata. Those losses are expected to help boost sales in February – so long as the awful weather clears out. General Motors forecast that the industry as a whole will post its best results since 2007 this year with sales expected to climb to between 16 and 16.5 million vehicles from 15.6 million in 2013. GM’s sales dropped 12 percent

to 171,486 vehicles in January, weakened in part by planned reductions in low-margin sales to rental car companies. Better results were ahead, the largest US automaker insisted. “We have major launches underway and we are going to accelerate brand-building and other growth initiatives, which include executing our winning strategy to sell more pickup trucks with larger cabs, more features and advanced technology,” GM sales chief Kurt McNeil said in a statement. Ford’s sales fell seven percent in January to 154,644 vehicles. “Given the difficult weather in our largest sales regions, we are fortunate to have held in at retail as well as we did,” said Ford sales chief John Felice. Toyota’s sales fell seven percent from a year earlier to 146,365 vehicles. “January was off to a solid start, but the weather condition slowed industry sales in key markets late in the month,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Japanese automaker’s Toyota Motor division. “For Toyota, we’re pleased with our retail sales, strong truck re-

sults and expect to see growth back in February.” Chrysler bucked the trend with sales up eight percent to 127,183 vehicles in its best January performance since 2008. The third largest US automaker has now posted 46 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains. “The bad weather only seemed to affect our competitors’ stores as we had a great January,” Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland said. Nissan also managed to plough through the wintery mess, with January sales rising 12 percent to 90,470 vehicles. That brought the Japanese automaker within spitting distance of overtaking rival Honda for 5th place in the highly competitive US market. Honda sales fell two percent to 91,631, but its luxury Acura division saw sales jump 14 percent to a January record of 10,823 thanks to its all-weather sport utility vehicles. “January’s foul weather cooled things a bit,” Honda sales chief John Mendel said. “We look forward to a warming trend, especially as new products like the updated 2014 Civic Si and

Toyota Corolla: Toyota remains world’s Number as it sold a record 9.98 million vehicles last year. ©Toyota

the all-new 2015 Fit join the lineup this year.” Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia managed to post modest

gains despite the bad weather, with Hyundai up one percent at 44,005 and Kia up two percent at 37,011.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé: The best of both worlds?

(Relaxnews) – The BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé is for drivers hankering for something that has space and doors for all the family, but still has the good looks of a coupé. Normally, a BMW customer has two choices when it comes to choosing his or her next mid-sized car from the German company. A sleek, focused two-door which is intoxicating to drive but, thanks to a heavily sloping roof, a bit cramped in the back. Or an equally sporty four-door sedan that sacrifices a little in terms of rakish good looks in order to accommodate rear passenger doors and more rear-seat headroom. BMW clearly worries that this is a difficult decision to make and one that might be driving its customers into the welcoming arms of Audi and Mercedes as, unlike its closest direct competitors, it currently doesn’t have a car that offers the best elements of a coupe and a sedan. That is until now. The 4 Series Gran Coupé is essentially a ‘stretched’ but not a distorted coupé and that’s because it’s been stretched upwards,

rather than outwards. Raising the roofline by 12mm has done nothing to spoil its lines. Neither has adding two extra doors. The car still looks like it means business – even on the school run. And of course, because BMW has waited until Mercedes and Audi have already launched their offerings in this space (the 4-door A5 and CLA respectively), it can make sure that the 4 Series is ‘best in class’ in terms of things like trunk space and headroom. Under the hood, the car will be powered at launch with a choice of five engines, four of which will be petrol powerplants and one will be of the turbodiesel variety. The most potent will be the 306hp, 3-liter, in-line 6-cylinder unit, but there will also be a choice of less potent four-cylinder engines too. In terms of internal specifications, that’s down to the individual customer. There will be three levels of standard trim and features, plus an options list that is huge (as with all BMWs); plus the BMW Individual Program will allow owners to create something even more exclusive.

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé: BMW is the latest premium German car maker to offer a mid-sized car that blends sedan practicalities with coupé good looks. ©BMW


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ENTERT

INMENT

Bunevacz breaks silence on Vhong case thlete and businessman David Bunevacz, who also had a rift with businessman Cedric Lee, finally broke his silence on the mauling case involving his former business partner and actor-host Vhong Navarro. Bunevacz, who was once Lee’s partner in a cosmetic clinic business, said hearing what happened to Navarro brought back memories of pain caused by his ex-business partner. “I have heard of what happened to Vhong and Cedric and it greatly saddens me. It painfully brought back memories of our own tragic experience almost seven years ago,” he said. Bunevacz then shared the physical and emotional hurt Lee has caused him and his family that forced them to leave the country. “Like Vhong, I was wrongfully accused, held against my will, physically violated, terrorized and death-threatened. It was in 2007 when we decided to leave the country for fear of our lives and the lives of our children. It was as if the rug was pulled from under our feet in an instant,” he said. In a previous report, Jessica

Rodriguez, Bunevacz’s wife, narrated in an affidavit executed in Los Angeles, California, where their family flew after the alleged mauling, about her husband’s “badly beaten” state after meeting with Lee and their other partners. Rodriguez’s claims that threats were being received by their family from the mobile numbers of Lee and another partner, Tyrone Ong, days after the incident in 2007. Lee and his group, however, denied the allegations before the National Bureau of Investigation. Bunevacz and Rodriguez were later charged for estafa for alleged misuse of the clinic’s funds during their stint as president and marketing director, respectively. Seven years after the incident, Bunevacz said their family has forgiven Lee and has since found peace. “Today, the physical pain and emotional burden have since then healed, and by the grace of God, we have found peace away from them all,” he said. “Happiness has found us again because we chose to forgive the way the Lord has also forgiven us. We have lifted everything up to the Lord for He is sovereign.” But Bunevacz is still hoping that they will finally

David Bunevacz and wife Jessica Rodriguez

get the justice they seek, especially now that Lee is involved in another mauling case. “What happened to Vhong is not the first time such a crime had been committed. It is clear that evil deeds are being exposed. I pray that this will be the last time that it will happen,” he said. “We continue to pray that one day, the truth about the accusations publicly hurled against us will be known and we will finally get our justice.” (MNS)

Kris Aquino: No effort from James to see Bimby

Kris and Bimby

Kris Aquino said nothing is preventing ex-husband James Yap from visiting their son, James “Bimby” Yap, Jr., who is under the custody of the actress-host. The basketball star said he has not seen his only child with Aquino for almost five months. “Sana nami-miss niya ako. Sa billboard ko

lang siya nakikita, e, sa pelikula lang. So hindi ko na alam kung gaano siya katangkad. Hopefully soon, makakasama ko ang anak ko,” he said. Asked for her reaction to Yap’s statement, Aquino, clarified that there is “no reason, legal or personal, preventing James from going to Bimb’s school to pick

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him up and take him out for merienda.” “James just hasn’t exerted the effort,” she said. “With all the blessings and success Bimby has received, I see no reason why my son shouldn’t reach out and help James celebrate his birthday on February 15. I asked Bimb if this

Charice mends ties with grandmother After being estranged for months, singer Charice happily shared that she finally got the chance to talk to her grandmother. Charice said their meeting was unexpected because it happened after one of her mall shows in Laguna recently. “I finally spoke with my lola. Actually I didn’t know. Nagshow po ako sa Pavilion Mall sa Binan and she was there, nanood siya. We talked,” she said. It would be recalled that Charice’s grandmother was among those who were saddened and hurt when the singer decided to change her style and image after she announced on TV that she is a lesbian. It was also Charice’s grandmother who alleged that the Charice singer recently attempted to kill herself over supposed financial problems. Meanwhile, Charice also shared that her grandmother finally met her girlfriend, Alyssa Quijano. “It was a very touching moment kasi she talked to her and she said, ‘Alagaan mo ang apo ko.’ I never thought na mangyayari ‘yun ng ganun kaaga,” she said. Following this, Charice is hoping she could also mend ties with her mother. “Siyempre kung nangyari [’yung pag-uusap namin ni lola] that time, siyempre malaki ‘yung hope ko na very soon my mom will come around and everything will be okay. Family iyan,” she said. Last month, Charice’s mother explained why she strongly disapproves of her daughter’s relationship with Quijano. Despite this, Charice’s mom said their house will always be open for the singer. “Masaya siya. Naka-move on na kami ng kapatid niya. Siguro dadating din ang panahon na kung hindi ko man matanggap si Alyssa, tanggapin na lang niya na mahal namin siya,” Mrs. Pempengco said. (MNS) was okay with him and he said yes. So it’s just up to James to make the effort,” she added. Aquino and Yap were married in civil rites in July 2005. Their marriage was declared null in February last year, following allegations of infidelity on Yap’s part. The former couple became em-

broiled in a controversy anew in 2013 in connection with the custody of Bimby and Yap’s alleged spat with Aquino. The two met in court numerous times, but eventually settled on a compromise which both parties referred to as beneficial to their son. (MNS)


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Wednesday - Tuesday, February 5-11, 2014

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disputes”. JAPAN STOKING torial The US stressed that the ru-

From page 1

From page 1

She also said there have been “consultations” ongoing on the matter. The Hong Kong government earlier implemented further sanctions against the Philippines by requiring visas for holders of Philippine official and diplomatic passport holders. Such passports are used on official travel. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs had said the Philippine government “regrets” such an act, which it also branded as “unfortunate.” It added the Philippines “remains committed to manifest compassion for the victims and their families and is ready to turn over the additional tokens of solidarity from the Filipino people.”

Hong Kong’s action stemmed from its repeated demands for an apology from the Philippine government over the death of eight Hong Kong tourists in a hostage crisis in 2010. Earlier, the DFA described as “unfortunate” Hong Kong’s decision to scrap the visa-free arrangements for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials but reiterated that the Philippines will not apologize for the 2010 Manila hostage crisis. The DFA said the country has been doing its best to put closure to the 2010 Manila bus hostage crisis. However, it said it will not apologize for the incident, which led to the deaths of several Hong Kong nationals.

FILIPINO SKATER From page 1

freeskate.” “I am confident that I will qualify in the freeskate or the final event. I had enough training days in Moscow to polish my act,” Martinez told this writer. “Now, I am ready and my confidence level is high. Thanks to the great support from Filipinos all over the world.” It was Victor Kudryavtsev, the Russian coach who mentored former Olympic champ Ilia Kulik, who took care of the final preparations for the Filipino’s Olympic stint. Make the freeskate; that is the realistic goal for the Filipino star figure skater. Should Martinez finish inside the top 20 in

the Olympics that would be a great accomplishment in itself. In his event, he will be competing against the best and the battle-tested skaters in the world in an arena where excellence and perfection are required norms. ranked no. 29th figure skater in the world by the International Skating Union (http://www.isuresults.com/ws/ws/wsmen.htm) as of December 30, 2013, Martinez, who is widely regarded in the skating world as one of its future stars, booked his personal best of 67.01 (short program) at the world junior championship in February last year. He finished a strong fifth in that competition.

IMMIGRATION

said, modestly optimistic.” Obama has been waiting since last year for the House to take up immigration reform after the Senate passed a bill providing a path to citizenship that would take at least 13 years. If Republican leaders cannot sway their lawmakers on citizenship, Obama may be forced to decide whether to embrace a more restrictive compromise to get some kind of reform of the creaking US immigration system. The White House makes clear that Obama has not changed his position on citizenship so far, but has declined to weigh in on his future intentions.

From page 1

but the Republican plan unveiled Thursday stops short of offering a route to US passports – a step many conservatives oppose as amnesty. “The devil is in the details,” Obama said in a “Google+ Hangout” online forum dedicated to promoting policies he laid out in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. “I don’t want to prejudge and presuppose that we can’t close some of those gaps,” Obama said. “I’m going to keep on fighting as hard as I can and remain, as I

force officials have drafted proposals for a new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that could place the Paracel Islands – claimed by both China and Vietnam – at its core. The US warned Beijing against such a move, with the State Department saying Saturday that it would be seen “as a provocative and unilateral act that would raise tensions and call into serious question China’s commitment to diplomatically managing terri-

mors were “unconfirmed”, however. In response, Hong said China had the right to adopt all measures, including setting up air defense zones, to safeguard national security, according to Xinhua. Beijing claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, even areas a long way from its shoreline. Late last year, it caused a storm when it abruptly declared an ADIZ above the East China Sea, including islands at the heart of a

AFP FOCUSING

From page 1

tinue its security and stability and law enforcement operations. “Ang law enforcement operations patuloy ... Terrorist nature ito. Hindi natin dapat payagan ituloy ang activity na ito,” he said. (MNS)

CLIMATE CHANGE

From page 1

Haiyan, which was the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall and left 8,000 people dead or missing, triggered Sano’s original decision to fast at the UN climate talks in Warsaw. Sano said he expected other people around the world connected via social media to follow his example, in what he believes will be a growing movement ahead of the Peru round of talks in December. The Peru gathering is vital in trying to secure a global pact by 2015 that would limit global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over preIndustrial Revolution levels. Sano’s fasts have been promot-

ed by Nobel laureate Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, which has 143,000 followers on its Twitter feed @ClimateReality. About 300 people around the world have committed to fasting in solidarity with Sano, according to Ashwini Prabha-Leopold, a spokeswoman for the Climate Action Network, a global coalition of more than 850 non-government organisations that is working to keep climate change to sustainable levels. “However this has not been promoted widely and we expect a growth in number as we move this initiative onto a bigger platform from February 1,” PrabhaLeopold told AFP.

JUDGE APPROVES

From page 1

it, Bank of America said in June 2011 it would pay $8.5 billion to a group of large private investment groups that invested in securities which held poorly documented or substandard home loans from Countrywide. At the height of the US housing boom in the 2000s, Countrywide was the largest mortgage origination company in the United States.

sovereignty row with Tokyo. Three Chinese ships sailed through the disputed waters in the East China Sea on Sunday as diplomatic tension between Tokyo and Beijing intensifies. Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia all have rival claims to parts of the South China Sea, while Washington is also watching Beijing’s increased assertiveness. China has occupied the Paracels since a battle with South Vietnamese forces in 1974. It is a cluster of about 40 islets, sandbanks and reefs.

DTI URGES

From page 1

attacks in Mindanao after government and MILF negotiators signed last Jan. 25 an annex that would pave the way for a comprehensive peace pact. In the meantime, Zagala maintained the government will con-

Bank of America, saved from bankruptcy with public funds in 2009, has paid a hefty price for the “subprime” crisis. In January 2013, it agreed to pay $11.6 billion to settle claims on soured loans sold to government-backed mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae. That settlement marked another milestone in Bank of America’s efforts to extricate itself from the US mortgage crisis.

“To seize the opportunities and challenges that the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) presents, the Philippine business community should understand the spirit and essence of the Agreement, be made aware of its benefits, and how to take advantage of its expansive possibilities,” Cristobal said. The ACIA, which combined and improved on the features of previous agreements, includes the facilitation, promotion, liberalization and protection of investments in the region.

DOE ACHIEVES From page 1

numero – ng 66,800 na kakulangan sa silid-aralan,” he said. President Aquino said the government managed to mobilize partnerships with various government agencies, local government units (LGUs), the private sector and foreign donors to help meet the target. The classrooms, ranging from one-storey structures to multi-floor buildings, were constructed using national and local government funds and donations from the private sectors. “At ngayong araw nga po, nasaksihan natin ang ceremonial turnover ng 66,813 na bagong classroom, na bumura din sa ipinamanang backlog ng nakaraang administrasyon. Sa totoo lang po, gaya ng ipinangako ni Secretary Armin Luistro, natapos itong ipatayo noon pang Disyembre. Ang bonus pa nga: nalampasan pa natin ang ating target,” he said.

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