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MARCH 1-15, 2013


MARCH 1-15, 2013

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Cardinal Tagle is “a very rare and integrated combination of a theologian’s mind, a musician’s soul, and a pastor’s heart,” says Manila Bishop Teodoro Bacañi Jr.

The man who would be Pope Some say that Cardinal Tagle’s relative youth and his recent appointment to the College of Cardinals, along with the internal politics in the Vatican, dim his chances at the papacy. There are those, however, who argue that his youth may very well work to his advantage, citing Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation precisely because of old age and failing health. By niki yarte

F the race to the papacy was anything like a beauty pageant, then Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio “Chito” has already won the Congeniality Award. The Manila cardinal is among those in the list of possible contenders to succeed Pope Benedict XVI as leader of the Catholic world. To understand why Cardinal Tagle’s name was even thrown into the mix, one must look at the papal selection process. While any baptized Catholic male is technically eligible to ascend to the papacy, the College of Cardinals has selected no one outside their ranks for centuries. Other than a papal resignation breaking a similarly centuries-old streak, there has been so far no precedent that this pattern will also be broken. Yet when the cardinals finally meet in the conclave to decide the Catholic leadership, there would not be any nomination or campaign period. Any cardinal with ambitions to the papacy would have had to make their presence known beforehand.

Cardinal Tagle’s ardent supporters compare his charisma to that of Pope John Paul II. Fortunately for Cardinal Tagle, opportunities to build his name and credentials have presented themselves even during the time of Pope John Paul II. In 1997, the late pontiff had appointed the then Fr. Tagle to the International Theological Commission where he reportedly struck a friendship with and impressed the head of the Commission: then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who would be Pope. “I know for a fact that they became good friends. That has to be taken carefully because Cardinal Ratzinger was not a very outgoing person”, said Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J., the first Asian member of the Commission. Fr. Arevalo also recalls how Fr. Tagle’s work in the Commission earned him praise from Car-


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PHILIPPINES

MARCH 1-15, 2013

Cardinal Tagle is “a gifted communicator, making him a highly sought-after speaker and media personality.” Pope Benedict XVI’s stance regarding Pope Paul VI’s reforms during the Second Vatican Council. Magister noted that this connection was not brought into light until after the appointment was made. According to Allen, who also covered this story, officials from the Vatican are in support of Cardinal Tagle despite his reputation as being “too progressive”. Some have even lauded his 1999 essay on the polarizing subject of the Second Vatican Council and his defense of Pope Paul VI Back home, many from his old post at the Diocese of Imus have called him a “poor administrator” and many Cavite priests did not like him, according to a research conducted by Philippine online news portal Rappler. com. In an interview with Rappler, Malacañang Protocol Advisor Daniel Victoria described Tagle as an “absentee Imus bishop and Manila Cardinal.” Whether these criticisms will hurt Cardinal Tagle’s chances at the papacy remains to be seen. But if one were to ask Archbishops

Tagle at his ordination as cardinal at the Vatican last November. dinal Ratzinger himself. When Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales announced his retirement in 2011, the now Bishop Tagle of the Diocese of Imus was already a favored successor. Even if the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Adams, had already endorsed him to the Holy See, other groups have allegedly voiced objections, according to Fr. Arevalo. Pope Benedict XVI supposedly called for an investigation and then, having found no satisfactory evidence to support his disqualification, declared that Bishop Tagle leads the Archdiocese of Manila and that the matter is settled. While this familiarity with the present leadership grants Cardinal Tagle’s name a more prominent place in the minds of papal electors, he also seems to have a winsome relationship with his public. Manila Bishop Teodoro Bacañi Jr. considers Cardinal Tagle “a very rare and integrated combination of a theologian’s mind, a musician’s soul, and a pastor’s heart.” In a 2011 column, Bishop Bacani wrote, “He is

not only a brilliant scholar but a persuasive communicator. Practically every group that has a big assembly would put Bishop Tagle as its first choice for speaker.” In his blog, veteran Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. referred to the Manila cardinal as “a gifted communicator, making him a highly sought-after speaker and media personality.” The Vatican’s official news agencies covering the past couple of International Eucharistic Congresses have also noted his superb ability to address a crowd: “In 2008 in Quebec, he had silenced a crowd of thousands with his words. In Dublin in 2012, he brought them to tears.” To his ardent supporters, Cardinal Tagle’s charisma is comparable to that of Pope John Paul II. However, like anyone who has achieved rising superstar status, Cardinal Tagle has had his own share of critics and detractors. Italian journalist Sandro Magister noted a curiosity in the cardinal’s official biography in that it omitted his involvement with the “Bologna School”, which stood opposite

Rosales, Leonardo Legaspi of Caceres, and Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, Cardinal Tagle’s chances were already slim to begin with. The three retired prelates cite Tagle’s age and his recent appointment to the post, along with internal politics among the Cardinals, as among the main reasons he is not likely to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. Tagle was named cardinal only last November at the age of 55 - the second youngest member of the College. Yet some analysts argue that Cardinal Tagle’s freshness may very well work to his advantage. After all, the very reason Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his position was precisely because, at an advanced age, he can no longer keep up with the current challenges facing the Church. Moreover, Cardinal Tagle has made efforts to adapt modern methods of delivering his message and reaching out to his constituents. He has taken to social media with a show he regularly hosts on YouTube and a Facebook fan page. In a bold but well-received speech at the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Tagle had called on Church leaders to observe “humility, respect for others, and silence” to combat dissension and desensitization among the flock. The race to the papacy is neither a beauty pageant nor, in Cardinal Tagle’s own words, “a reality TV (contest) where the (contestant) with the most text votes wins”. For this reason, the Archbishop of Manila has chosen to “deal with truths and real concerns”, calling speculations to the identity of the next Pope as a “waste of time”. n

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By boo chanco

HE bad quality of government’s front line services is perhaps one reason why trust ratings of P-Noy, Binay and Enrile fell despite all the fuss over “a GDP rate that will impress you.” Ordinary folks were not impressed… they haven’t felt any significant positive effect of government in their lives. To be fair, there are very visible attempts to bring front line government services closer to the people. One can now apply for a passport, a certified birth certificate, NBI clearance and even a driver’s license at major malls. But more needs to be done. The quality of government’s front line services is still quite Third World. DFA can’t issue passports until three weeks after application and the lines for that NBI clearance can snake quite a bit even as applicants fall in line way before the malls open for business. There is no concept of service… neither the bureaucrats nor the government’s computer systems are up to the challenge. In a country that is being kept afloat by over $20 billion of OFW remittances a year, you would think government will make it easy for our workers to transact business. That is just not happening. Here is one account of a friend of mine whose daughter works abroad. “My daughter’s an OFW working in Singapore. Every time she visits, she has to get an OEC (Overseas Exit Clearance), a requirement before

Gov’t

Applicants wonder why it takes the DFA three weeks to process passport applications.

front line service

Vancouver Edition

she’s allowed to check out of NAIA. “Before, she could get multiple OECs from a labor attache representative in Lucky Plaza in Singapore. Now she can no longer do that because it had closed down. There’s just one other office in Singapore where you can get it but it closes on weekends and the lines are very long. You are also not allowed to make appointments online so OFWs have no choice but to queue. “Here in Manila, there are all sorts of requirements before they will issue an OEC and even then, they can only sell one OEC at a time so an OFW has to go to the government office every time she has to leave. “Another time when we went with our daughter to Singapore, she had to line up in the OFW counter in NAIA 1. But the line was so long since there were just three counters to service OFWs. We almost missed our flight.” I agree with my friend. This is no

must improve

If P-Noy wants to create a positive impression on common people and not just impress economists who get excited over GDP numbers, he must make sure that government front line services are world class. Treat our people with respect. Stop wasting their time because their time matters.

The lines for NBI clearance can snake quite a bit even as applicants fall in line way before the malls open for business.


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PHILIPPINES

OFWs complain that the process of obtaining documents from POEA is tedious and expensive. way to treat our OFWs, supposedly our new heroes or Bagong Bayani. If P-Noy wants to create a positive impression on common people and not just impress economists who get excited over GDP numbers, he must make sure that government front line services are world class. Treat our people with respect. Stop wasting their time because their time matters. Start off with a computer system that works across government agencies. Maybe we do need that proposed Cabinet level department for communication and information technology to orchestrate the effort. Every top bureaucrat seems to want his own computer system, possibly because the money involved in acquiring hardware and software can be significant and so could commissions. Why can’t government have an on-line computer system like what the local banks have? Take that NBI system for example. Why is it so difficult to have a system that can be accessed quickly from NBI’s remote offices in the malls? Why must people sacrifice a day’s or even weeks worth of work to fall in line and wait for a simple piece of paper that employers and embassies require all the time? Again, for a country that survives because its workers go abroad to earn a living, why can’t DFA come up with a respectable system that makes it easy to apply for or renew passports? Why must there always be finger-pointing between DFA and the BSP printers on who is at fault for the delays in passport processing? Why can’t we have a more painless way of obtaining those certi-

DSWD employees attending to indigent residents needing assistance. fied copies of birth certificates? In a world where such things are already done online, why can’t the Philippines, the emerging BPO capital of the world, make things easier for its citizens via the online route? We need to acknowledge the efforts of DTI to facilitate business registration processes. I understand Secretary Greg Domingo has made this a personal project. But even there, it is still very much a work in progress. And the LGUs must also be made to actively participate in the effort to cut red tape down to encourage investors. I chanced upon a local taipan at the Tuesday Club who has invested a lot in China. Some months ago, I asked him where should one invest his money now and he said without hesitating that the Philippines is the place to go. China, he said, is getting expensive and saturated. He also said that tourism in the Philippines is one exciting area for investors. So he is investing in three-

star hotels, the type preferred by Chinese tourists. I asked him last week how he is doing with his new thrust. One hotel in Makati is under construction. The one in Ortigas is taking time. There are too many permits, he said, and that’s taking time. Government must simply roll out the red carpet for any investor willing to invest in job creating industries here. While g ove r n m e n t ’s regulatory role cannot be ignored, things shouldn’t take too much time because to businessmen, time is money. If they get exasperated, they will go else-

where. We are competing for investor money with our Asean neighbors. Given our need for OFW remittances and investor money to make our economy blossom, government must make things easy for them. Actually it should be basic for government to make it easy for all citizens to transact business with it. Why not have the equivalent of a multiple-entry visa for those clearances OFWs need so they don’t have to line up every time they have to come home? For that

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matter, our passports should have a 10-year validity rather than five years. Our driver’s licenses should also be valid for longer than the current three years. In the US, drivers’ licenses are good for five years. The idea is to minimize the number of times a citizen gets in contact with a bureaucrat and thus reduce the potential for nasty experiences that reinforce the image of a government that is inept and corrupt. Providing fast and efficient front line services is one effective way of reducing corruption and supporting P-Noy’s Daang Matuwid. Red tape forces Pinoys and everyone else, to give a bribe just to get things done faster. A survey of the National Statistics Office or NSO verified this link between corruption and red tape. Recently, NSO reported the prevalence of giving pampadulas in the form of money or gift to facilitate a transaction with a government office. So there it is… make sure bureaucratic systems are designed to give fast service and there will be no need to bribe someone to get a license, a clearance or some government certification. That’s Daang Matuwid minus the hoopla! (The Philippine Star) n


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MARCH 1-15, 2013



PHILIPPINES

An American teacher’s

LOVE letter from an American teacher to the Filipino people has been making the social media rounds, with many sharing his testimonial about the kindness and capability of Filipinos -- particularly the overseas Filipino worker. The letter’s author, David H. Harwell, is an American language teacher who has visited 21 countries over the years -- he jokingly refers to himself after as an “OAW,” an overseas American worker -- but finds the Philippines his favorite destination to date. In an interview with GMA’s “News to Go” anchor Howie Severino, Harwell said that when people ask him why this is so, he always replies, “Because of the people.” “And I thought recently that I was going to have to return to the United States for a while and I did not like that idea because I have wanted to be in the Philippines for a long time,” he said. In the opening paragraph of his letter, Harwell said he wrote it to express his gratitude for the good treatment that he has received from Filipinos and to pass a lesson between the differences of American and Filipino cultures. He said that unlike Filipinos, Americans don’t tend to be tied tightly to their families, either geo-

love letter to Pinoys ‘The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen. . . What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full. . . Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat.’

graphically or emotionally. Harwell, who is from Alabama, said that the things he loved growing up in the South (in the US) have started fading, but that Philippine culture reminds him of those things he missed. “It is probably the culture closest to the culture of the American south where I am from,” he said.

Making everything happen Harwell praised Filipinos whom he worked with in most of the countries that he visited describing them as people who “make everything happen.” He added that they are internationally known to be hardworking, very capable people who do not complain. “When I am working in a new company abroad, I seek out the Filipino staff when I need help getting something done, and done right,” he wrote. Indulging in a bit of hyperbole, Harwell also wrote: “If all the Filipinos were to go home from the Middle East, the world would stop.” OFWs in the Middle East occupy key positions in most industries such as oil, health and manual labor. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipinos at 1,550,572, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 679,819 Filipinos, according to data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

On overseas Filipino workers After years of working with OFWs, Harwell knows and has seen it all, from their being mistreated to being underpaid, and how hard their lives actually are -- contrary to their ready smiles and what they show in the pictures they send to loved ones back home. “They would smile, they would take care, but they were not often treated well. They weren’t paid as high as other people who left their countries and I always thought that

The author sees himself as an OAW – an overseas American worker.

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Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong gather during their rest day outside a mall. was a great injustice,” he said. Harwell said that they endure all of this because their families back in the Philippines are depending on them and the money they will send. “The OFWs are very strong people, perhaps the strongest I have ever seen,” he wrote. But behind these smiles and pretty pictures, Harwell knows through the Filipinos he has met that these OFWs are suffering and miss their families very, very much.

The ‘American trap’ Harwell said that not everything in America is about living the American dream. He said that people picture illusions of grandeur and associate America with all the niceties in the world. However, the truth is most people in the United States fall into the American trap, where many fall into debt to acquire more and more things. “Very rarely is a house, car, nice piece of clothing, electronic appliance, and often even food, paid for. We get them with credit, and this debt will take all of our lifetime to pay,”

‘What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full.’ Harwell wrote. But this trap is not only limited to Americans for Filipinos who married Americans and even OFWs who decide to stay for good also fall victim to this vicious cycle. “Some of you who go there make it back home, but you give up most of your lives before you do. Some of you who go there learn the very bad American habits of wanting too many things in your hands, and the result is that you live only to work, instead of working only to live,” Harwell wrote.

Learning from Filipinos Harwell noted that there is a big difference in what both nations consider to be their problems and that Americans should learn something from Filipinos with regard to their outlook in life.

Behind the smiles, overseas workers are suffering and miss their families.



PHILIPPINES

“What I see is that even when your hands are empty, your hearts remain full,” he wrote. Harwell said that he has witnessed firsthand how Filipinos would always take care of their loved ones and co-workers, putting others first before themselves. And during the times that he has been lonely, tired and hungry, there was always a Filipino who cheered him up with a smile and good company. “I know that behind those smiles of yours, here and abroad, are many worries and problems,” Harwell wrote. In ending, he finally said that there would

MARCH 1-15, 2013

always be one American who knows the real story behind the sweet smiles of Filipinos -that at least one American understands and appreciates true Filipino culture. “Know that at least one of us admires you, respects you, and thanks you for your sacrifices. Salamat po. Ingat lagi. Mahal ko kayong lahat,” Harwell wrote. “Manny Pacquiao is pound for pound the best boxer in history. Filipinos are pound for pound the best-hearted people I’ve met,” he said. A published author, Harwell is a former professor who now travels overseas designing language training programs. (GMA News) n


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MARCH 1-15, 2013

Dissecting the overseas Filipino population



PHILIPPINES

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Filipinos in New York hold a parade in Manhattan to celebrate the Philippine Independence Day.

The top 10 destination countries of Filipinos are the US (33 percent), Saudi Arabia (15 percent), Canada (8 percent), United Arab Emirates (7 percent), Malaysia (5 percent), Australia (4 percent), Qatar (3 percent), Japan (2 percent), United Kingdom (2 percent) and Kuwait (2 percent). 2011

ITH almost four decades of sustained and large-scale migration of Filipinos to foreign countries, the Philippines has emerged as one of the major migrantsending nations, next to China and India. But it has also fallen into the trap of calling every Filipino overseas an Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW, clouding the rich diversity of the overseas Filipino community.

STOCK ESTIMATE OF OVERSEAS FILIPINOS AS OF DECEMBER 2011 2011

2010 45%

By cherry joy veniles

2010

4.86

Million 40%

4.51

4.42

Million 35%

Million

4.32

Million

The stock estimate of overseas Filipinos computed annually by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) shows 10.44 million Philippine-born Filipinos residing or working overseas in 2011. But the aggregate, drawn from data of the CFO, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, shows permanent migrants outnumbering overseas workers, although by a small but significant margin. In 2011, permanent migrants numbered 4.86 million or 47 percent of overseas Filipinos, followed by temporary migrants, including overseas workers, numbering 4.51 million or 43 percent. The stock estimate recorded 1.07 million or 10 percent as irregular migrants. Who are permanent, temporary and irregular migrants who are collectively referred to overseas Filipinos or OFs? Permanent migrants include immigrants, dual citizens or legal permanent residents abroad, whose stay does not depend on work contracts. All permanent visa holders or spouses and partners of foreign nationals are required to register at the CFO before their departure. Temporary migrants, on the other hand, are those whose stay overseas is employment-related and who are expected to return to the Philippines at the end of their work contracts. Although most temporary migrants are OFWs, they also include students, trainees, entrepreneurs, businessmen and their accompanying dependents whose stay abroad is six months or more. It is the job of the POEA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration regulate the recruitment industry for OFWs and provide necessary welfare support to re-

30% 25% 20% 2011

15% 2010

10%

1.07

0.70

5%

Million

Million

0% Permanent Migrants

Temporary Migrants

Irregular Migrants


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turning OFWs, including those who are victims of recruitment violations, work-related accidents and other forms of emergency relief assistance. Scholars under the exchange visitor program of the US government must register at the CFO prior to departure. Filipinos who are not properly documented, without valid residence or work permits, or are overstaying in a foreign country -- TnTs or tago nang tago in local parlance -- count among the irregular migrants. All together, they remitted $21.6 billion last year, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and are a constant source of income for the Philippines.

Beyond labor migration

The CFO stock estimate provides a good snapshot of the number of Filipinos overseas at any given time taking into consideration migrant flows. This means that if 100 Filipino workers have completed their two-year contracts, and 150 others recently arrived on new contracts, while 10 others have overstayed their visas, the estimate would give a running number of Filipinos in a country at any given time. But the tally also clearly shows that although the Philippines is internationally recognized for its vast and diverse human resources, providing more than 200 countries and territories worldwide with Filipino skills and talents, it has gone beyond labor migration. Many leave the country other than for reasons of work. The reasons range from marriage migration to family reunification, from educational and business opportunities to professional advancement. Permanent residents and dual citizens reserve the right to petition relatives in the Philippines. And with



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try in March 2011. There was a 90 percent decrease in the number of Filipinos in Libya, from 27,349 to 2,724, and a 79 percent decrease of temporary migrants in Syria, from 13,869 to 2,890, mainly because of the Arab Spring.

Why the numbers matter

countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and most of Europe espousing the idea of family reunification, the number is expected to increase over time. In countries such as Singapore and Saudi Arabia, skilled migrant workers have the option to bring along family members as part of the company’s remuneration package.

Top destination countries The top 10 destination countries of Filipinos are the US (33 percent), Saudi Arabia (15 percent), Canada (8 percent), United Arab Emirates (7 percent), Malaysia (5 percent), Australia (4 percent), Qatar (3 percent), Japan (2 percent), United Kingdom (2 percent) and Kuwait (2 percent). An increasing number of OFWs from the Middle East have opted to apply for permanent skilled worker visas in countries such as Canada and Australia. Japan’s policy on issuing visas to Nikkei-jins and their families has

also contributed to t h e rising number of Filipinos in Japan despite the ban on the deployment of entertainers since 2005. Nikkeijin is a Japanese term for Japanese emigrants and their descendants who have established families and communities in recipient countries such as the Philippines. Irregular migrants could be found mainly in the United States,

Malaysia a n d Singapore. The large increase of irregular migrants in 2011 can be traced mainly to the 124 percent increase of irregular migrants in Malaysia, from 200,000 in 2010 to 447,590 in 2011, and the 67 percent increase in the US, from 156,000 in 2010 to 260,000 in 2011. The number of Filipinos in Japan decreased by 69,476 or 24 percent mainly because of the natural calamities (earthquake and tsunami) which affected the coun-

Understanding the stock estimate of overseas Filipinos gives a grasp of the realities of the program and policy environment the government and the private sector need to focus on in the interim. If the DFA has closed down 11 consulates abroad, do the numbers justify the closing? If an Algeria attack Part 2 looms, is the government prepared to bring out all the OFWs there? If the European economic crisis continues for years, how many Filipinos and their families would be affected? If the government cannot get a consistently high voter registration and turnout for overseas absentee voting, can it map out in which areas it has succeeded in getting OFs to vote? If Malaysia has such staggering numbers for irregular migrants, what is the government doing? And, more important, service providers such as remittance companies and banks and even local government units should certainly look at the numbers and say, “If 100,000 OFWs in Saudi are returning home after a two-year contract, what could we possibly offer them to make them stay in the Philippines?” Whether immigrants, OFWs, TNTs or OFs, the numbers matter because they are, in the end, Filipino wherever they may be in the world. (Vera Files) (Cherry Joy Veniles has more than 10 years experience in Filipino migration and is the outgoing head of the Policy Planning and Research Division of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.) n


Who

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is the

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10

PHILIPPINES

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Filipino?

‘Genetically we’re mixtures of Taiwanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Arab, Spanish, probably some American and British. . . What it means to be native Filipino is to be somebody who lives on these islands and traces his ancestry from all these people who have come to these islands for tens and thousands of years.’

IT is a question that has been asked for generations: “Who is the Filipino?” A Filipino-American scientist and global genomics expert believes the answer is in every one of us, literally. Michael Purugganan, a world authority on the molecular study of the origin, evolution and characteristics of organisms, is calling on the government, private sector and Filipino scientists to embark on the Philippines’ own genome project—an undertaking that would determine where the Filipino comes from. “One of the things that I’ve always advocated is a systematic analysis of the genome of Filipinos… It’s still really basic research but I think it has practical values. It allows us to see, for example, what genetic diseases we might have, which might help doctors,” Purugganan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “Just as important is that it allows us to see who we are, to tell the story of who we are. That’s a very powerful idea, that we as Filipinos can go to our DNA and see who we are and what makes us different,” said the dean of science at New York University (NYU) while on a visit to Manila. Purugganan, who works closely on rice genome studies with the Laguna-based International Rice Research Institute, proposed to look into the DNA of a representative group of 10 Filipinos from different provinces and tribal groups, and sequence their genome, the entirety of an organism’s genetic makeup. The project would ultimately answer the question that one local

apparel brand posed through billboard ads last year: “What’s your mix?” The controversial billboard of Bayo clothing line that features “mixed Filipinos, which some say is racist.

Most Filipinos are born with a mix of bloodlines from different parts of the world, given the long history of human migration, settlement and, in the case of the Philippines, colonization.

“I remember somebody asking me that and I had to think about it. I said, ‘I actually don’t know what being a Filipino means genetically.’ So, genetically we’re mixtures of Taiwanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Arab, Spanish, probably some American and British. It’s just different degrees,” Purugganan said. This is not to say, however, that no one is native Filipino, said Purugganan, who became the features editor of the Collegian in the early 1980s and finished a chemistry degree at the University of the Philippines (UP), before taking up advanced studies in top universities in the United States. Most everyone, after all, is born +12


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By carmela g. lapeñA Hundreds of thousands of families have been forced to evacuate their communities during the decades-old hostilities in Mindanao.

ORCED to flee during the allout war in Mindanao, Maimona Musa DidatuBayan and her family struggled for almost a decade to rebuild their lives. Her story is just one of those from millions of women whose voices are left unheard as they are portrayed merely as victims of war. Maimona lived in a far-flung area in Maguindanao province, but were forced to leave their home when former President Joseph Estrada declared the all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2000. “Masakit pero we have to prefer to leave our locality kay sa matamaan kami ng bomba,” she said during “Huntahan, Balitaan at Kapayapaan: A Dialogue with Media and Mindanao Women on the Peace Process” held last month. Carrying what they could, Maimona’s family fled. Her aunt, who was pregnant with twins, gave birth in a tunnel, while all around them the bombing continued. The twins did not survive. They made their way to an evacuation center in Parang, Maguindanao, but their troubles were far from over. “Hindi ka makakain, hindi gaya sa bahay mo. Natutulog ka nang walang banig,” she said. Although they were able to escape danger, life in the evacuation center was also very difficult. Since they had no way to make a living, they tried to sell produce from their farm. But even that was not allowed. “Nagtinda-tinda kami. Para lang mabuhay. Pero ‘di naman pupuwede. Pinagbabawalan kami. Pumupunta kami sa farm namin, mahirap kunin ang aming mais, kukuha ka pa ng [safe] conduct pass,” she said. Maimona had to stop studying, as her family could no longer rely on their farm. They relied on relief goods, but even those were not always given. “Minsan ‘di rin kami nakakakuha kasi may nagbibigay ng kung wala, ‘pag wala doon hindi ka mabibigyan. Pero paano naman yung mga nanay na naghahanapbuhay, nagpupunta doon sa bukid?” she said. After two years, they returned to their home, only to find that their house had burned down. “Mahirap, kasi mag-start ka naman ulit,” said Maimona, who decided to work in Kuwait. “Matagal bago maka-recover

Untold stories from women in

Mindanao

‘Kaya parati kong ina-advise sa mga bata, kailangan natin ang edukasyon. Lalong-lalo na sa ating mga kababaihan dahil sa bahay natin, maturuan man lang natin ang ating mga anak. Ma-guide natin sila. Gusto ko ma-empower ang kababaihan. Maka-participate. Malaki ang maitutulong natin bilang mga kababaihan.

Muslim women are inspired by Prophet Muhammad’s teachings that women are half of a society.

kaya napilitan ako pumunta ng abroad para tulungan ang aming mga magulang. Pero, hindi rin ako nag-success,” she said. Maimona returned home and resolved to go back to school. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko, I have to continue my studies. Kasi kung ganito ako, ano ngayon ang kinabukasan ng magiging anak ko. Anong meron ako? Babae ako, marami akong role,” she said. Inspired by Prophet Muhammad›s teachings that women are half of a society, Maimona


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said she realized “a good woman is better than a thousand men.” “Sabi ko dapat kahit sa sarili kong pamilya magawa ko... may natapos, may paninindigan sa buhay,” said Maimona. By selling kakanin, she was able to pursue her studies. “All praises due unto Allah, I graduated and found a job,” said Maimona, who is now an Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) teacher. ”Kaya parati kong ina-advise sa mga bata, kailangan natin ang edukasyon. Lalong-lalo na sa ating mga kababaihan dahil sa bahay natin, maturuan man lang natin ang ating mga anak. Ma-guide natin sila. Gusto ko ma-empower ang kababaihan. Makaparticipate. Malaki ang maitutulong natin bilang mga kababaihan,” said Maimona, who also serves as the Central Mindanao Regional Secretary of Noorus-Salam (Light of Peace), a national network of Aleemat, or Muslim women religious scholars and leaders, peace advocates and women organizations. Maimona is now married, with a two-year-old child and another one on the way. She said finishing her studies gave her a better life, which is why she always tells her students to do the same. “Parang maglalaro ng darts na talagang dapat, dapat tamaan ko talaga na matapos ko ang aking pag-

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Bangsamoro people,” she said. Peace advocate Carmen LauzonGatmaytan stressed that there are many more who share Maimona›s story, but the media mostly show women as victims. “Ang mga kababaihan sila yung nakapila, with relief goods, nage-evacuate. The images are of wo-

men being on the suffering end—the victims. At doon nahihinto ang storya. Now we can hear that Maimona›s story did not stop in the evacuation, did not stop at the eruption of the war. It was a long struggle, and women have to really overcome that,” she said during the dialogue. Organized by Isis International and WeAct, the dialogue was held to help bring light to the significant role of women in the Mindanao peace process. According to Gatmaytan, women play important roles in transforming society, but these are often left undocumented. “Hindi alam ng karamihan na mas maraming babae are the ones managing these evacuation centers, who are administering all these very tedious very technical work in addressing everyday crises,” she said. While there are more women at the negotiating table as well as in leadership roles on the national level, Gatmaytan said this needs to be reflected on the ground. “‹Yun yung gusto namin na ipalabas. The voices of these women. ‹Yun yung role na ginagampanan naming mga peace advocates... to ensure that susuportahan yung mga kababaihan na ito, who are on the ground now playing important roles in the formal structures,” she said. (GMA News) n

The native Filipino is one who traces his ancestry from all the people who have come to these islands for tens and thousands of years.

done this project but I don’t think that would stop them from doing this… I think our scientists are very, very good, really motivated, well-trained and they’re looking for exciting challenges,” he said. He expressed admiration for his Filipino colleagues, noting how they cope with challenges that continue to hound scientists in the Philippines, including limited resources for research and low pay. Purugganan said the Philippine Genome Center at UP Diliman had expressed interest in the project if granted proper funding. The NYU dean of science, who sits on the center’s international advisory board, said he was “very impressed” with UP’s genome lab, saying it had genome sequencers and other equipment at par with those used in top laboratories overseas. He said his proposed Philippine genome study could be done at P5 million. Government and private foundations could partner for the program. “It’s something that would be exciting, something that would resonate with Filipinos,” he said. n

Children line up for food at an evacuation center in Mindanao. aaral para magiging modelo ako ng mga kabataan sa Bangsamoro... Para akong sirang plaka pero gusto ko lang talaga i-emphasize sa kanila na iba na ang may natapos,” she said. Even a decade after the war, Maimona breaks into tears when she remembers the struggle they

endured. “May lolo po ako doon na nabomba, kaya kapag napapagusapan ang, ano durog ang puso ko. Kaya parang hindi ko makaya,” she said. After going through so much, she chose to dedicate her life to inspiring others. “I am a Bangsamoro. I want to be a model for the

Who is the Filipino? From page 10

with a mix of bloodlines from different parts of the world, given the long history of human migration, settlement and, in the case of the Philippines, colonization. “Of course, there is native Filipino. What it means to be native Filipino is to be somebody who lives on these islands and traces his ancestry from all these people who have come to these islands for tens and thousands of years,” said the professor, who heads NYU laboratories in New York and Abu Dhabi primarily studying the evolution of plant genomes. “Even though we’re mixtures from all these places, we can find out what makes us different from all those mixtures,” said the Manila-born Purugganan. He said other countries like India and China had sequenced the genomes of their citizens as they understood “why it’s important economically and culturally.” “India has sequenced 200 genomes. China has done it and there’s a big international project on a thousand genomes. They

want to know who they are. They want to know what mutations there are in genomes of citizens that would allow them to develop new drug therapies,” the professor said. It’s a test that Purugganan had done on himself to determine his ancestry. “I actually thought that my father was a quarter Spanish. Turns out my father was half-Spanish. My grandmother was full Spanish. I’m quarter,” said the 49-year-old professor, who visits the Philippines once or twice a year. “And I found out that my Y chromosome, the maleness gene, is related to the Y chromosomes found in China, which is probably true because we probably got a lot of immigration from China and a lot of intermarriages,” he said. While already tied up in teaching, laboratory and administrative tasks at NYU, Purugganan said he would be willing to lead the effort. He believed the project should be conducted by an all-Filipino team. “We do have in the country people who can do it. They’ve never

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By john mangun Hundreds of Filipinos working in world-class casinos and hotels across the globe are being recruited by local companies to run their operations.

F you have ever grilled your food using charcoal, then you fully understand the concept of sustainable combustion. You keep adding burning paper and constantly keep fanning the small flames until suddenly the charcoal starts burning on its own and the combustion of the charcoal is now sustainable without any more effort on your part. That same concept applies to businesses and economies. When the Shoemart group started building the North Edsa mall, people said they were crazy; it would never work. The mall was too far away from the rich areas. It was too big to attract enough tenants. Mall customers were not of the class to ride public transportation to shop. When SM Megamall started, Shoemart was thought even more foolish. It was not located in a residential area. Tenants were very apprehensive as now they would face dozens, not two or three competitors. Customers would not be interested in shopping in a mall that covered two buildings and 21 hectares. Megamall can hold 4 million people at one time and, if my memory is correct, SM needed 200,000 daily visitors just to survive. Tenants were told that traffic would rise to 400,000 average per day, making the mall economically feasible. Now it seems there are 400,000 people on the escalators alone on a Saturday or Sunday.

Is reverse Filipino migration possible?

Business combustion After several years, SM’s business exploded and shopping mall after mall was being built around the country. Sustainable business combustion. The call-center business grew steadily for nearly a decade. But then suddenly around 2005 to 2007, the business-process outsourcing business expansion took off with Eastwood City becoming a call-center hub as well as central Makati. Now in Alabang’s North Gate the same phenomenon is occurring and no one thinks either SM malls or the call centers are a temporary happening. The same kind of thing happens in an economy. Since the early 1990s when then-President Fidel V. Ramos de-

Rallyists slam the government’s labor export policy. clared the Filipino overseas work- Filipinos from having to leave, it ers as Heroes of the Republic, that sounds very empty and almost foolbusiness has boomed. We now view ish. However…. overseas-worker migration the way we do the expansion of call centers Coming home on SM malls, inevitable. When poLast January in a disclosure to litical candidates talk about mak- the Philippine Stock Exchange, ing an effort to build the economy the owners of the Solaire Manila to bring OFWs home or provide Resorts and Casino said the comemployment opportunities to keep pany “has collected the top former

One promising case of reverse Filipino migration concerns the hiring by Solaire Manila Resorts and Casino of hundreds of Filipinos who have worked in gaming and hotel companies across the world. The casino-resort, which is set to open in March at Manila’s new bayside Entertainment City, announced it “has collected the top former operating officers of worldrenowned casinos in Las Vegas and other parts of the world.”

operating officers of world-renowned casinos in Las Vegas and other parts of the world.” Further, “These personnel include around 400 Filipinos who have worked in gaming and hotels across the world.” Interestingly, many of the 400 are casino dealers working around the world. These are Filipinos who left the country to earn abroad. Solarie is not offering these people jobs for much less compensation than what they are earning abroad otherwise, why would they return? For several years, college students flocked to the nursing schools to be able to work abroad. Now jobs available for nurses have been dramatically reduced except for in the Middle East. The government is trying to find jobs for these nurses as well as improve the health care to the people, by placing them in the provinces where health services are scarce. It is a new program but it is a positive step in the right direction.

Investments in health sector Major Filipino companies are seeing the long-term benefits of investing in the health-services


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industry. The administration is pushing for wide expansion and improvement of PhilHealth insurance to as many Filipinos as possible. Is it conceivable that in a few years, all those SM provincial malls will have a high-quality and well-funded hospital as a neighbor? Maybe we will see Filipino nurses working in the Philippines for a change. We may not see overseas nurses return to work here but that, too, is a possibility. The US economy is shrinking. In 2013 the Best Buy chain will close 200 to 250 stores. Kmart/ Sears plans on closing 275 to 300 locations. Department store J. C. Penny will drop 350 outlets. Bookstore Barnes & Noble will close 240 stores. Electronics dealer Radio Shack will reduce its stores by 550. The new hotel and casino complex along Roxas Boulevard

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Major Filipino companies are seeing the long-term benefits of investing in the healthservices industry. will require thousands of experienced employees over the next few years. Fresh graduates will not be able to fill all the positions needed. The Philippines is sitting on a vast pool of talent overseas. Perhaps this is the beginning of a reverse migration back home. Let’s hope this is only the beginning and it becomes sustainable. (Business Mirror) n

Are there enough jobs in the country for the army of jobless nursing graduates?

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and single

It seems that Sarah’s luck and good fortune fall on everything else except her love life -- and people are quick to assume that much of the ill-fated love affairs can be attributed to the strict involvement of Sarah’s parents, particularly Mommy Divine. By cherie del rio

HE Pop Star Princess is everybody’s dream girl: she’s multi talented, award-winning, a role model to all her fans and supporters, devoted to her family, and praised by everyone in the industry for being grounded despite her successful career and endeavors. But she remains single and unattached. And it seems that failed relationships are attached to this young superstar’s name more often than kilig love stories. Last year, a new fan club was born: the AshRalds, a following that was devoted to the Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson love team. But that didn’t last -- and as of late, both Sarah and Gerald are hounded by the seemingly endless string of intrigues and negative publicity that still surround their shortlived courtship. Before that, Sarah was linked to Rayver Cruz: a love story that likewise ended in a sad, showbiz drama that left Sarah’s fans feeling the pains of her heartbreak.

It seems that Sarah’s luck and good fortune fall on everything else except her love life -- and people are quick to assume that much of the ill-fated love affairs can be attributed to the strict involvement of Sarah’s parents, particularly Mommy Divine. Sarah’s mother has always

been vocal that she is quite strict and protective of her daughter, not wanting her to get hurt or to fall for the wrong guy. This protectiveness has often been seen as being too controlling -- to the point that Sarah no longer has the freedom to fall in love. In 2011, Sarah openly admitted her relationship with Rayver but only after it was all over. Their relationship was kept secret, they were only able to communicate via text messages and Skype. They could not go out together, and only had meaningful looks to share whenever they were in the same place. Sarah revealed that she fought for the relationship. “Sobra ko pong minahal kahit hindi naman po kami nagkakasama,”

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she said in a TV interview. “Nakita naman po ng mommy iyon. ‘Yong mga diskusyon po namin, talagang pinaglaban ko siya.” But later on, Sarah came to realize that she fought for the wrong guy. Apparently, Rayver could no longer wait for the time when she was free to be in a relationship openly, which eventually led to his breaking Sarah’s heart. Rayver admitted that he was wrong for having promised Sarah that he was going to wait: “Pero alam naman nating lahat na may mga bagay na madaling sabihin pero mahirap talaga.” Sarah was deeply affected by the breakup. Rayver’s new girlfriend, Cristine Reyes, was not exactly mum about the issue and she once lashed out at Sarah on Twitter. All throughout the Sarah-Rayver ordeal, however, Sarah’s parents were visible. They were there for their daughter, despite their involvement appearing to be questionable considering that Sarah was clearly old enough to handle her own relationship dilemmas (Sarah is turning 25 in July). But it was likewise understandable for any parent would always look out for her child. “Bothered na kaming mag-asawa,” Mommy Divine said in a magazine interview. “So kaming dalawa po. . . wala pong ginawa kundi magdasal.” Her prayers were answered because the Sarah-Rayver-Cristine controversy soon came to an end. And Sarah was once again on top of her career. She had two movies with Fil-Am heartthrob Gerald Anderson: Catch Me I’m In Love and Won’t Last A Day Without You. She also had her own Sunday variety show: Sarah G. Live! Her team up with Gerald proved to be a blockbuster hit -- on and off the screen. The two stars eventually found themselves falling for each other and it was a blossoming romance that was religiously followed by fans at home and abroad. Sasa and Gege looked great together, their chemistry was off the charts and there was a genuine “young love, sweet love” vibe going on. Soon enough, Gerald admitted to courting Sarah. Again, enter Sarah’s parents with their strict rules on

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In 2011, Sarah openly admitted her relationship with Rayver but only after it was all over.

courtship and winning their daughter’s affections. Gerald was reported to have struggled through these rules, trying his best to win Sarah in the manner her parents had demanded. For months, Gerald courted Sarah and speculations that the two were actually together already soon surfaced. But all of a sudden, things began to take a different turn when Gerald reportedly stopped courting Sarah because the latter’s mother had allegedly given him the cold shoulder whenever he visited her at home. Once again Mommy Divine bravely spoke up about how she was

Sarah with Daddy Delfin and Mommy Divine: “I have a mom and dad who only want to protect me.”

once again protecting her daughter and that, as a mom, she would know what is best for Sarah. Supporters of the Sarah-Gerald love team, upset over the abrupt break in the growing love story of their idols, naturally blamed Mommy Divine’s involvement in the rumored relationship. Both Sarah and Gerald, however, repeatedly denied that Mommy Divine had anything to do with the end of their courtship. With everything that has happened, no one can really blame the Pop Princess for saying that she is not really ready for a relationship now. She’s not completely saying no to love but she wants someone who will fight for her. And on the issue of her parents seemingly jinxing her love affairs, Sarah had only this to say: “I have a mom and dad who only want to protect me.” Her parents are part of the package. . . you court Sarah, you court her parents. n


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CELEBR TY

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LOVE THICKER THAN FRIENDSHIP? APPARENTLY so in the case of Kim Chiu and Maja Salvador whose close friendship was reportedly ruined after Kim’s former boyfriend, Gerald Anderson, fell for Maja. According to a report in YES! magazine, Kim turned to Maja, one of her closest friends then, after she and Gerald split three years ago. Quoting unnamed sources close to the two actresses, the report said Maja offered emotional support to Kim and advised her to forget the failed romance and move on. “Siyempre, nasaktan ni Gerald

si Kim no’n—first love, e. It came to a point na parang hopeless na si Kim, pero si Maja ‘yong nagbibigay ng lakas ng loob. Maraming advice si Maja kay Kim na, ‘Wag mo nang isipin ‘yan. Hayaan mo na ‘yan, may iba ka pang mahahanap,’” one of the sources told YES!. The report added that Kim was devastated to learn later that Maja had entertained Gerald’s romantic advances and gone on dates with the Fil-Am actor. Kim felt betrayed, the sources said, because she expected Maja to stay away from Ger-

ald out of respect and loyalty to a close friend. “Pero she really felt bad about the situation dahil si Maja pumatol kay Gerald, in-entertain niya si Gerald,” a source said. “Bilang kapatid, bilang part ng life niya, siyempre automatic na hands-off na dapat. Kung may delikadesa ka, di ba?” Another source close to Kim’s family confirmed that Gerald and Maja are now “on”. One report said Gerald rented a helicopter and brought Maja to Tagaytay for a Valentine’s day lunch at Antonio’s Restaurant.

KIM SPENT VALENTINE’S DAY ON YACHT WITH XIAN AFTER getting serenaded on the set of their previous TV project for her 21st birthday and receiving a tree of roses for her 22nd birthday, Kim Chiu got another surprise from Xian Lim on Valentine’s Day. Kim was hesitant about talking about how her Valentine›s Day unfolded. Pressed to share her day, Kim started to blush as she told reporters about an unexpected and grand gesture from Xian. Kim narrated that she was with her family and close friends in Subic when she received a

call from Xian, who told her he was also in Subic. They met up and got the surprise of her life when Xian treated her to a three-hour yacht. Kim said she never expected any of it from Xian: “Siya ang taong full of surprises!” She added: “Nakakatuwa, kasi panibagong experience for me. Hindi ko pa nararanasan ‘yong ganun, may surprise-surprise.” She said she appreciates Xian’s continuous efforts to please her. “Sobra [matiyaga], nakakahiya na!” Kim laughed. “Natutuwa ako kasi

Kim and Maja: Friends no more?

dumadaan talaga siya sa tamang way para iparamdam sa isang babae ‘yong ganun.” When asked if she already has a romantic relationship with her on-screen partner, Kim pleaded

with smile, “At saka na ‘yan!” For now, Kim wishes to describe Xian as her new best friend. “Kami? Siguro siya na ‘yong masasabi kong best friend ko, ang taong masasabihan ko ng lahat,” Kim beamed.

KC ASKS FRENCH SUITOR FOR ‘SPACE’ KC Concepcion feels she is not yet ready to walk down the aisle and has asked her suitor, French filmmaker Pierre Emmanuel Plassart, for some “space.” “Husband material na nga ‹yung taong ‹yon, kaya lang hindi pa ako ready, kaya nag-setback muna ako,” KC told ABS-CBN News on Feb. 21 during her contract renewal with ABS-CBN. “Siya ‹yung tipong settling down type na, alam mo ‹yon? Wala pa ako sa level na ‹yon and I›d been

very honest with him about it,” she added. KC clarified that she hasn›t turned down Plassart. “Hindi naman basted -- ang sakit naman noon kasi nag-uusap pa din kami. It›s just that he knows na I need time, he needs time. At sabi ko kilala ko ang sarili ko na kung gusto kong tuldukan ang relationship, totally tuldok na talaga ‹yon. And I told him we don›t know what is going to happen in the future. Sabi ko, ‹You are still the guy that I want to end up

with,›” she explained. “Nasa kanya na lahat ng hinahanap ko except sa wala pa ako sa level na ready na akong mag-settle down. Kaka-sign ko nga lang ng contract sa ABS-CBN, sandali lang, space lang. Anyway he is busy din with his business. We talk pa din o kaya nagte-text pa din kami. I check kung kamusta na siya at kinakamusta niya ako. Siguro napakalalim na din ng friendship namin para sabihing hanggang doon lang,” she said.


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CELEBRITYFILES

SUNSHINE: TIME TO SET MY HUSBAND FREE

WHAT’S WITH JASMINE AND SAM?

EVEN as TV5 princess Jasmine Curtis-Smith continues to be coy about the status of her special friendship with Star Magic heartthrob Sam Concepcion, actions speak louder than words, or silence, for that matter. The two were spotted having a casual dinner together at BurgerBar in Greenbelt 2 in Makati on the night of Feb. 21. Sharing a single tall glass of milkshake and cozying up to each other, Sam and Jasmine seemed very much oblivious of the other diners who might have recognized them. Looking very much like the lovely couple many already believe them to be, their fans in particular would have loved the “kilig much” moments when Sam wrapped his arm around Jasmine and when Jasmine rested her head on Sam’s shoulders. The two were earlier reported to be frequently seen together in public places, especially as of late since Jasmine is currently on a break from her studies in Melbourne, Australia. Still, neither of the two has yet to declare anything official going on between them. In a recent TV interview, Sam only went as far as to admit he liked Jasmine but did not elaborate. Jasmine, on the other hand, said that she and Sam were “very good friends” and admitted that they hung out a lot and had the same circle of friends. “Siya na lang ang tanungin niyo tungkol sa ligaw-ligaw na ‘yan,” she added.

IS Sunshine Cruz finally giving up her marriage with Cesar Montano? In an interview with columnist Dolly Anne Carvajal of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunshine said that after being married to Cesar for 13 years, she believes it is time to set her husband free. “I just realized I did everything for the man I loved for the past 13 years. I fought, lied and cried just to protect the love of my life, pero sabi nga nila kung mahal mo ang tao set him free. I›m doing what I think is best. After all, if you feel na hindi na masaya o kontento ang tao sa ‹yo, bakit kailangang ipilit,” she said. She also said if her life story were to be made into a movie, it should be titled “I Loved You, Goodbye.” On Feb. 18, Sunshine changed her account name on Twitter and Instagram. She is now using the

Twitter handle @sunshinecruz77 from the previous @shinemontano. The actress also said she is ready to return to showbiz and has received several offers. Last month, Sunshine blew her top after discovering that a number of her gifts to Cesar are now with starlet Krista Miller, who co-stars with her husband in an upcoming film. Cesar had admitted that he and Sunshine are having troubles in their marriage but vowed to do everything in his power to save his family. The couple has three daughters. In 2008, Sunshine planned to file for the annulment of their marriage after the actor was romantically linked to Brazilian model Mariana del Rio. The couple eventually reconciled after Sunshine said she was willing to give their marriage another try.

KYLIE ADMITS ROMANCE WITH ALJUR

Anne, Robin and Kris in Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw

ANNE BALKS AT LOVE SCENE WITH ROBIN

FOLLOWING the reported squabble between married couple Mariel Rodriguez and Robin Padilla, a love scene between the action star and Anne Curtis for their primetime series is no longer likely to happen. At the sidelines of a press conference on Feb. 19 during the launch of her latest endorsement, Anne expressed hesitation to do a “love scene” with Robin in the soap Kailangan Ko›y Ikaw. This comes after the actor›s intimate scenes with Kris Aquino, his other leading lady in the ABS-CBN series, led Mariel to remove her wedding ring admittedly out of jealousy. “If ever... anything, knowing how Mariel feels about of course her husband, I understand that and I›d rather not go to that extent to upset her. So siyempre as a woman I give respect to that. I›d rather not na lang,” Anne said. Anne said that the writers of Kailangan Ko›y Ikaw may have since took into consideration the reported domestic squabble in planning the upcoming episodes of the series. “I think even the writers are aware to avoid anyone getting hurt or offending anyone. So I think it›s been understood already,” she said. Anne also confirmed that the series, as earlier hinted at by Kris, will only run for one season, citing the lead stars› packed schedules. “I don›t know where the story›s going to lead us, but I do know we›ve always been one season. But we›ve been taping for one year. I think the problem is our schedules,” she said.

KYLIE Padilla now openly admits that she and Aljur Abrenica are an item. But she would not tell exactly how long they have been officially a couple, although she said it’s been over a year. Asked why they finally admitted the relationship, she said, “Hindi ko rin po alam, e. Biglang naging ganoon na lang. Siguro, nag-evolve na rin… Naramdaman namin na it’s time to be open na.” Kylie said she was touched by Aljur’s open declaration of his affection for her on TV. She said her dad, Robin Padilla, has not objections to their romance. “Okey naman. . . Open naman, pero siyempre, he’s still

protective—may curfew.” According to her, she is not a practicing Muslim and that explains why she is able to portray roles that are not allowed by the Islam religion. “I still believe in Allah. Tawag ko kay God, Allah. It’s personal. Me and God.” “Palagi kong sinasabi na not because I’m not practicing, puwede na akong makipag-boyfriend… na-in love lang talaga ako sa tao. Nag-promise na nga ako sa sarili ko na hindi ako magbo-boyfriend ng showbiz.” But she said Aljur is different. “Nakilala ko kasi kung sino talaga siya. Hindi yung showbiz na side,” she explained. “So, na-in love ako sa hindi showbiz.”


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COMMUNITYNEWS

GMA Life TV and GMA News TV International now seen on British Columbia and Alberta!

G

MA International celebrates the best in Filipino lifestyle and offers the latest and most relevant local news to more Filipinos in Canada with the upcoming launch of GMA Life TV and GMA News TV International in British Columbia and Alberta via Telus Optik TV recently last November. GMA Network’s second international channel, GMA Life TV captures the exciting and colorful lifestyle of Filipinos through a wide-range of program genres, while GMA News TV International - powered by most trusted and multi-awarded news organization in the Philippines GMA News and Public Affairs - serves as the ultimate source of local news abroad. Leading the vibrant mix of TV programs on GMA Life TV is Kusina Master, a 45-minute cooking show hosted by Chef Boy Logro. With his funny antics and excellent kitchen skills, Chef Boy makes way for a fun and enjoyable experience when preparing meals in the kitchen. Fashionistas are in for a treat

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as Fashbook hosted by multi-talented singer, actress and host Solenn Heussaff leads an inside and out makeover for her guests and inspires viewers with the help of an A-list makeover team. MARS gives viewers fresh, fun and intelligent conversations for and by mothers via on a variety of topics concering each member of the family. Dubbed as television’s go-to show for all mommy concerns, MARS is hosted by celebrity moms Suzi Entrata-Abrera and Camille Prats. Other GMA Life TV programs include Weekend Getaway, a traveler’s guide to the best destinations in the Philippines hosted by Drew Arellano; Let’s Fiesta, which offers highlights of the latest festivals all over the archipelago; and Reel Time, which tackles the lighter side of Pinoy culture via movie-like documentaries, among others.

Meanwhile, bannered by the most respected names in Philippine broadcast journalism today – Jessica Soho, Mike Enriquez, Mel Tiangco, Arnold Clavio, Vicky Morales, and Howie Severino – GMA News TV International provides the latest, most comprehensive, and most credible news from the country. The country’s number one local news channel, GMA News TV boasts of a formidable line-up of programs to give Pinoy viewers overseas relevant and credible news reportage all throughout the day. At the forefront of the list of programs on the channel is the flagship newscast State of the Nation, which delivers in-depth and comprehensive news reporting and anchored by no less than GMA News TV pillar Jessica Soho. News To Go, meanwhile, gives viewers different news and feature stories hosted by GMA News Online Editorin-Chief Howie Severino together with Peabody award winner Kara David.

Viewers can also look forward to a most interesting gathering of programs including a modern spin-off of GMA Network’s hugely popular news magazine program in the ‘90s, Brigada Siete, in GMA News TV’s Brigada. In the show, Jessica Soho gives a new generation of reporters the opportunity to present the stories behind the headlines as she mentors each of them to get a deeper understanding of their reports. Powerhouse is a program hosted by another GMA News TV pillar, Mel Tiangco. Through the program, viewers get a peek into the private homes and lives of Philippines’ most powerful and controversial personalities. Led by broadcast journalist Arnold Clavio, Tonight with

Trending showbiz topics in GMA Life TV’s the Tim Yap Show

im Yap’s popularity has transcended over to the virtual world with this accomplished multi-hyphenated celebrity, host, eventologist, editor, creative director, entrepreneur and producer having over 1 million Twitter followers from all parts of the globe. Known for his gift of gab, Tim shares the latest updates from the world of show business via his latest show on GMA Life TV, the second international channel of GMA Network, dubbed The Tim Yap Show.   This newest addition to GMA Life TV’s grid of fascinating lifestyle programs will serve the latest updates and trending topics from the brightest and hottest Filipino celebrities with the help of social media like Twitter and Facebook. Aside from that, Tim also gets exclusive access to the latest happenings with the most

talked-about personalities. “I’ve always been passionate about people. Bringing people together, that’s my advocacy. Being intimate with interesting people, that’s my nightly past time”, shares Tim. “With this show, GMA Life TV viewers can now catch their favorite Kapuso stars, newsmakers, and social media shakers every night with me.” After a stellar debut on Philippines TV as well as having a consistent spot in the Twitter trends, the show has featured guests such as Miss Universe First Runner-Up Janine Tugonon, Solenn Heussaff, Lovi Poe, Rhian Ramos, and the President of

GMA Films, Annette Gozon-Abrogar. Guests will only get bigger, as after all the motto of the show is “Dapat

laging good vibes, para laging good night!” The Tim Yap Show offers only positive energy and light, clean fun for

Arnold Clavio treats viewers to a noholds barred and informative discussion of the hottest issues today, with the most sought after personalities. GMA News and Public Affairs is the only broadcast news organization in the Philippines that has won the highly prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. The team was also awarded with five citations by the Telly Awards and another one from the US International Film and Video Festival – the only USIFVF award for a Philippine program in 2011. GMA News and Public Affairs also has the New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards and the Asian TV Awards in its roster of accolades. Just recently, GMA News and Public Affairs was awarded with three Silver World Medals and six Finalist Certificates in the 2012 New York Festivals. GMA Life TV can be seen on Channel 516 while GMA News TV International can be seen on Channel 511. To subscribe, call 310-MYTV (6988) or visit www. telus.com/optiktv. Channel and program information are also available at www.gmanetwork. com/international and www.facebook. com/GMAPinoyTV. Both channels are charged separately at only $5.00/month per channel. Subscription to Filipino TV is required. n

the general audience locally and abroad.  Get “Yapdates” with the latest tweets, photos, videos, and social media posts of Kapuso artists, and get up close with them via interviews which will take place on a bed in GMA Life TV’s The Tim Yap Show. GMA Life TV celebrates the best in Filipino lifestyle through a rich and vibrant mix of program genres from drama, fashion, talk, reality, food, and a lot more. It can be seen in the U.S, Canada, the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, Hong Kong, Guam, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Madagascar; and will soon be launched in additional pay-TV systems in North Africa and the Asia Pacific Region. To subscribe to GMA Life TV, just visit www.gmanetwork.com/international or www. facebook.com/GMAPinoyTV. n


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The view of the majestic Mayon Volcano from the Cagsawa Ruins.

Hot and Spicy Albay

By ma. stella f. arnaldo

NE of the most spectacular welcomes that I have ever encountered in all my years of traveling around the Philippines or abroad is the majestic Mount Mayon Volcano coming into view of a plane’s window. The sight of the sweeping curvaceous slopes rising to a nearperfect cone puffing white wisps of smoke is enough to take one’s breath away. And while you cannot escape its colossal presence -- Mount Mayon is visible for miles around even as far as the neighboring provinces -- there are several other spots in Albay, even in its capital city of Legazpi alone, that are worth visiting. Two of the best times to visit Albay are during the Magayon Festival in April and the Ibalong Festival in August. The Magayon Festival showcases the culture and artistry of Albayanons (as Albay folk are called), and features beauty pageants, food festivals, trade fairs

If spicy food, such as the Bicol Express, is your thing, there is no better place in the country to feast on such dishes but Albay.

The Cagsawa Ruins (Barangay Busay, Cagsawa) is what remains of an old Franciscan church that was damaged during the eruption of Mount Mayon in 1814. The old church’s belfry still stands, a constant reminder of the dangers of living near the still active volcano.

and street dancing. At the Ibalong Festival, people wear masks depicting the ancient heroes and villains in the folk-epic.

Must-see’s A bit of history -- Explore a tunnel that was carved out during World War II and where the Japanese military hid their ammunition, located at the Ligñon Hill Nature Park. Aside from its historical background, the park also offers a panoramic view of Legazpi City, Mount Mayon and its environs, the town of Daraga and the shimmering Albay Gulf. Try other activities in the park such as ziplining, running or jogging along its winding, rising incline, biking or rappelling. Waterworks -- Busay Falls (Barangay Malilipot) is said to be one of the highest in the country, cascading from 250 meters in seven levels into seven different pools. The last waterfall, a single cascade from 40 meters, is the most popular among tourists who usually come during the sizzling summer months and rent the available huts in the area. Refreshments and snacks may be bought from vendors in the vicinity. One has to hike about a kilometer through lush vegetation to


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get to the gushing Vera Waterfalls (Barangay Bulang). Located in a ravine, the water streams from several points in the bedrock spraying into the pool down below. Bring your own food and beverages for a picnic but make sure to clean up after. The hike back up from the ravine may be quite difficult for inexperienced hikers so it’s best to rest periodically to catch your breath. Pilgrimage -- Marvel at the baroque architecture of the Daraga Church (Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church), built by Franciscan missionaries in 1773, in Barangay San Roque. Volcanic stones, with engravings and carvings, were used in the construction of the church, making it one of the rarest in the country. It has been tagged a National Cultural Treasure by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines. The Cagsawa Ruins (Barangay Busay, Cagsawa) is what remains of an old Franciscan church that was damaged during the eruption of Mount Mayon in 1814. The old church’s belfry still stands, a constant reminder of the dangers of living near the still active volcano. Outside the park are stalls selling popular products made from abaca such as slippers, hats and bags.

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pulverized over the centuries from the volcanic rocks spewed by Mount Mayon. Check out Barangay Sogod in the town of Bacacay; Kaluyukai beach in Santo Domingo; and Joroan beach in Tiwi. Misibis Beach on Cagraray Island offers guests at the private Misibis Bay Resort (www.misibisbay. com) a white-sand beach for tanning and engaging in water sports.

Other churches worth visiting are the Saint Dominic Guzman Parish Church in Santo Domingo; the Albay Cathedral (Cathedral of San Gregorio Magno) in the old Albay District; the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church in Guinobatan, Albay; and Saint Raphael’s Church in Legazpi City.

To-do’s Cave exploration -- Albay is a haven for spelunkers, with a number of caves found all over the province offering varying degrees of difficulty. Pototan Cave (Barangay Tinucawan, Batan Island, Rapu-Rapu) is accessible from the island’s beach via stairs and one of the easiest to traverse. There is an underground river inside that flows into different caverns, while multiple rock formations abound along with a generous number of stalactites and stalagmites. Also on Batan Island is the Minaroso Cave (Barangay Villahermosa), which provides a natural sanctuary for seabirds and swallows, while the Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave (Barangay Cotmon, Camalig) has remnants of coral embedded in its walls and on the ground, having once been below sea level.

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Where to stay

Misibis Bay is a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay town. Eat up a storm -- If spicy food is your thing, there is no better place in the country to feast on such dishes but Albay. Sibid-Sibid Food Park (328 Peñaranda Street, Bonot, Legazpi City) is where one goes for an introduction to authentic Bicolano dishes that are hot and cooked in coconut milk. Specialties include bicol express, tinotungang manok sa gata, crispy fish sisig and homemade ice cream. For merienda, drop by DJC Halo Halo (across the Gaisano

Mall in Legazpi City) for its grated-cheese-topped halo-halo, which come in special or supreme (with a scoop of ice cream). One shouldn’t miss eating the “new look,” a fleshy dried fish only available in Legazpi. Buy at the Legazpi Market to take home, or order it for breakfast at Hotel Venezia or Misibis Bay Resort. The Legazpi Market is also a haven for pako (fern) lovers. Suntan and a swim -- Beaches abound in Albay, though these are of the grainy black-sand variety,

In downtown Legazpi, check into Hotel St. Ellis (Rizal Street, and Gov Forbes Street, which has an elegant lobby washed in white, spacious rooms and a generous breakfast buffet. Value for money, considering its strategic location - about 10 minutes away from the airport, and a short tricycle ride from the mall. For great views of Mount Mayon, book a room at the Casablanca Suites on Benny Imperial Street, Legazpi City. It has Wi-Fi access in its rooms, making it the perfect hotel for business travelers. The food is simple and overall service by the staff can be sluggish especially when the hotel is fully booked, but they make up for this with their friendliness and accommodating nature. (BusinessMirror) n


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BEAUTIFUL By zherwin v. perion

HEN one is getting tired just thinking of doing the same thing on a regular basis, or being suffocated by the thought of daily commutes and horrendous traffic (and not to mention the ever present work-related pressures), we cannot help but dream of having a break of a day or two just walking slowly, eating slowly or just to take some moment to catch our breath. In the quiet town of Coron in Palawan, we got those and more. It took about an hour from Manila getting to Busuanga Airport, and another hour to reach our resort of choice, El Rio Y Mar. One hour may sound long and boring but if the first 30 minutes were spent on land travelling over

Breathing easy in Coron

At Siete Pecados you just stay where you are and an underwater parade of corals and thousands of fishes will organize themselves right in front of your eyes.

We went to Coron for an escape from the busy metropolis. Little did we know that in Coron, we would also be busy and suffocated by the grandness of nature, that the traffic of colorful fishes never stops, the sky scraper of karst limestone formations dominate the skyline, and the busy highway of crystal clear waters can be very addicting.

As our boat navigates Twin Lagoon on a highway of crystal clear waters, our eyes panicked from not knowing where to look.

scenic greeneries with no mall or even a convenience store in sight and the next half hour in a boat in the middle of a seemingly endless mangrove forest, who are we to complain? And in no time, leis, refreshing drinks and a welcome song by the resort’s staff greeted us and a colorful school of fish can be seen swimming happily on the side of the wharf, giving us a glimpse of what Coron has to offer. This amazement continued in the afternoon as we availed of a tour on an inhabited island and in there, monitor lizards thrive, birds of different varieties squawk and fly, and snorkeled until our muscles complained. With barely a day of stay, it seems our lungs have been cleared and we never uttered “wow” this much. An island hopping tour of Coron Island should be the highlight of this travel and boy, it never disappoints! The Coron town proper may


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PHILIPPINESthe BEAUTIFUL look the same as any other fishing town or barrio in the Philippines but this one has a huge cross on top of a mountain, Mt. Tapyas, which can be climbed and where you can have a panoramic view of the town and nearby islands. A few meters from the shore and while on the boat, as noise from the public market and the port died down, your eyes would be focused on what appears to be a set of dark islands, and from that far, it does not hold any promise. But, I learned that it’s very cruel and unfair to think that way because as you get closer, you are slowly being transported to another world. And what an amazing, breathtakingly beautiful and stunningly different world it is!

Twin Lagoon Our first stop was the Twin Lagoon. As our boat navigates on a highway of crystal clear waters, our eyes panicked from not knowing where to look: Huge coral reefs visible from the boat, towering limestone formations that surround us, fish and jellyfish swimming on the brackish water, oh, it was so unreal that the view is just too much for the word beautiful. It was high tide that time and our boat docked near the “entrance” and we were told that we need to swim our way through a small opening to enter the lagoon. And who are we to say no? With our life jackets, fins and snorkel masks, we swam into the hole, entered and were greeted by even taller limestone formations on the lagoon! Fish were very few but there are a lot of jellyfish, the stingless kind, enjoying the water. The lagoon was huge but we got to swim its entirety twice.

With all the swimming, climbing and snorkeling, a trip to Maquinit Hot Spring was the most fitting way to end the tour.

The Twin Lagoon raised the level of expectation and we wondered how it is going to be topped.

Kayangan Lake The Twin Lagoon raised the level of expectation and we wondered how it is going to be topped as we went along with the tour. We came to Coron knowing that Kayangan Lake is considered as the cleanest lake in the country. It is a protected area and the Tagbanuan tribe maintained and owned it, and the number of tourists coming here is controlled so as to maintain its pristine surroundings. Going there involves a little bit of hiking, but a stop-over at the top of a mountain before going down to the lake itself will reveal the most photographed area of the island, an iconic symbol for the lake though it is not the lake. As we head down, bluish to greenish water greeted us and as

Kayangan Lake is considered as the cleanest lake in the country. we came closer, it was unbelievably clear! Sparing no time, we jumped into the lake and a pleasant feel of the water can never be matched by any spa that offers relaxation packages. As we swim, we can feel, not just see, how pristine the lake is. I can imagine myself spending a day there just floating on the water, staring at the sky and listening to the whisper of the wind. It gave us the

feeling of not leaving the area, as if a spell was cast on us. It was an enchanting experience.

Siete Pecados We ate our lunch of seafood in a hut near the lake while talking how unbelievable the lake was, and we all shared the same feeling of wanting to live there and hoping that the lake will stay pristine forever. After

the siesta, the tour brought us to the legendary Siete Pecados, a premiere snorkeling area in Palawan. Legend has it that seven children ran away from their mother and drowned in the area, and from where they drowned, seven islands surfaced. I enjoyed snorkeling in Boracay and Mindoro but those were just ordinary compared to Siete Pecados because in there, all sorts of imaginable colors can be seen; you just stay where you are and an underwater parade of corals and thousands of fishes will organize themselves right in front of your eyes. Save for the strong current that time, which was actually dangerous, Siete Pecados zoomed to the top of the list for

the best snorkeling site.

Maquinit Hot Spring With all the swimming, climbing and snorkeling that we did, our bodies could only do so much, and a trip to Maquinit Hot Spring was the most fitting way to end the tour. Though some parts are scalding, the hot and salty water relaxes the body and closing our eyes while sitting on the side of a man-made pool and holding hands with my wife was the perfect way to remember how long and eventful the day was. We went to Coron for an escape from the busy metropolis, to live a day or two at a slower pace, to stay away from the smoke and the crowded mega city. Little did we know that in Coron, we would also be busy and suffocated by the grandness of nature, that the traffic of colorful fishes never stops, the sky scraper of karst limestone formations dominate the skyline, and the busy highway of crystal clear waters can be very addicting. This is the kind of busyness that is very easy to take. And willingly too. (Manila Bulletin) n


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BACOLOD CLERGY JOINS POLITICAL FRAY DEPARTING from its customary candidate selection guidelines, the Catholic church in the Philippines has opted for a direct approach with voters and unveiled two lists senatorial candidates—one labeled Team Patay and the other Team Buhay—in an attempt to make the pro-life vote matter in the coming May elections. The new voter education campaign was rolled out just weeks after Catholic bishops and lay leaders failed to convince enough senators and congressmen to stop the passage of reproductive health (RH) legislation. The Team Patay roster includes names of senatorial aspirants and party-list groups who supported the passage of the RH Law while Team Buhay is the list of candidates perceived to be pro-life because they voted against the divisive bill. Both lists have candidates whom President Benigno Aquino III supports. The first battleground where the Filipino Catholic hierarchy chose mount its new voter education campaign is the Diocese of Bacolod, which is known for its political activism ever since the days of Martial Law during the Marcos regime. In a banner unfurled at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City, the local diocese made it clear it is against the Senate bids of Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, Sen. Francis Escudero, Sen. Loren Legarda, and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros. Also on the Team Patay roster are party-lists Gabriela, Akbayan, Bayan Muna, and Anak Pawis, The diocese displayed its Team Patay-Team Buhay banner on the same day the Team Pnoy candidates were in Bacolod for their day-long campaign sortie. Bishop Vicente Navarra said the names on the Team Patay and Team Buhay lists will be read out loud within Sunday Mass during the presentation of his pastoral letter. “We want to instill in the minds of our faithful that it is a matter of conscience. It’s not for any

other reason, political or whatnots personal. But, it is more of educating our people that it is about time that they should really form their conscience and vote for people that should really be responsible for life,” Bishop Vicente Navarra said. The Bacolod diocese said it favors the Senate run of JV Estrada, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Sen. Koko Pimentel, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, and Cynthia Villar. Party-list groups such as Buhay and Ang Pamilya are on the Team Buhay list. Senator Cayetano said now is not the proper time for the Church to start ‘name-calling’ of political aspirants. He added that he does not belong to Team Patay and called his group ‹Team Pitik› because of its agenda against unemployment and inflation. Escudero said: “Ginagalang ko ang kanilang pasya bilang mamayan… subalit sana ay ‘di gamitin at magamit ang pulpit at sultana sa pagsulong nito.” Hontiveros said she was disappointed by the Bacolod diocese›s move. “Team Quality ng Buhay ang team ko. Nakakalungkot ang ginawa ng diocese at ni Father. ‘Di lang paglabag sa Separation of Church and State, pero disappointing dahil sana nirespeto ang desisyon ng karamihan ng mamamayan,” she noted. Still, Team PNoy’s campaign manager Franklin Drilon said that party is confident to get favorable votes for Team PNoy from the vote-rich province, which has a 1.5 million voters. “We are saddened by such tagging of some of our candidates. But we will continue to present Team Pnoy to the people of Negros Occidental and we are confident that we will win big in Bacolod because of the broad support of President Noynoy and our candidates,” Drilon said. n

The 3 Kings of UNA and the senatorial bets.

UNA DROPS LOREN, CHIZ, GRACE AS ‘GUEST CANDIDATES’

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ICE President Jejomar Binay’s political coalition has dropped Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, and Grace PoeLlamanzares from its senatorial ticket, the party’s campaign manager said. Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said the coalition was “no longer obligated to include” the three candidates in its slate. “It is clear that they have made up their minds. We need to move on,” he said in a statement. “We have held on to their assurances that they will join us sooner or later. Unfortunately, none of them have taken any concrete move or extended any meaningful gesture to assure us that they will live up to their commitments.” “We would have wanted and were looking forward to having them join our nine UNA candidates in our rallies and sorties,” he said. The party has “tried our best to accommodate them,” said Tiangco. He criticized one of the three who made “public statements… ruling out participation in UNA events.” None of the three candidates

has appeared in any of UNA’s campaign sorties, including its proclamation rally in Cebu. Tiangco has likened their relationship with their then shared candidates to be “parang dalawa kayong nanliligaw, at yung nililigawan pumayag makipag-date sa dalawa.” “Okey lang naman sa iyo. Pero biglang sasabihin, sorry pero sa Valentine’s Day doon muna ako sa isa makipag-date. Pwede bang proxy ko na lang ang makipag-date sa yo?” he said. Legarda and Llamanzares have consistently sent representatives to UNA’s sorties but the coalition has lambasted Escudero’s failure to do so. While he said it was a big “loss” for him, Escudero said he had no choice but to respect UNA’s decision. “Karapatan nila yun, rerespetuhin ko ano man ang desisyon meron sila subalit sa panig at parte ko bagaman malaking kawalan yun, wala akong

magagawa kung yun ang nais nilang gawin,” Escudero said in an interview shortly after UNA made the announcement. “Hindi naman pwedeng diktahan ka sa bawat at hindi mo pwedeng gawin at sabihin sa kampanyahan pa lamang baka lalo na pag nasa pwesto ka na,” Escudero added. Llamanzares, in a separate interview, expressed sadness over UNA’s decision although she insisted that no condition was imposed on her when she accepted UNA’s invitation to be part of its senatorial ticket. “Syempre nakakalungkot kasi yung pagkaimbita naming sa akin o pagka-adopt naman sa akin sa UNA wala namang kondisyon sa pagkakatanda ko,” Llamanzares said. She said it was former President Joseph Estrada, who was close to her late father Fernando Poe Jr, who had offered to help her in the campaign. “Hindi naman nila ako sinabihan na ia-adopt ka namin pero kailangang magkampanya ka. Wala naman ganun,” she said. n


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NEWSROUND-UP

AQUINO: FORCE WON’T SOLVE SABAH ISSUE PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino criticized Filipino gunmen who entered a Malaysian state in a bizarre effort to stake a territorial claim, warning their actions could lead to conflict. Dozens of followers of an Islamic sultan from the southern Philippines sailed over to neighboring Sabah on the Malaysian part of Borneo island in mid-February to assert their centuries-old claim over the area. Malaysian authorities surrounded the group, which is believed to be made up of anywhere between 80 and 400 people, and a standoff has since been in place while negotiations continue. «Going there with arms is not the way to resolve this,» Aquino said in his first public comments on the issue.

«When you brandish arms, naturally the other side has only one way to respond to such a challenge.» Aquino said his government had been talking to all parties, including the sultan›s family, to find a peaceful solution. Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said separately that Aquino had ordered government authorities «to do everything possible to try and urge them... to peacefully withdraw and to do this as quickly as possible». The Islamic Sultanate of Sulu once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the standoff, as well as southern Philippine islands. The sultanate leased northern Borneo to Europeans in the 1870s.

AQUINO CREATES TASK FORCE ON MORO DEV’T AFTER launching a socio-economic program for Moro rebels, President Aquino has created a body to carry out this program on the ground in rebel communities in Mindanao. The President designated Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras as chairman of the Task Force on Bangsamoro Development, and 15 members of the Cabinet as members to ensure that development projects were implemented on the ground. The President created the task force on Feb. 13, two days after he handed out health insurance cards and certificates of scholarships and livelihood training to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Sultan Kudarat at the launch of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program. “It’s more of institutionalizing the framework [agreement] that is necessary to monitor the development also of the ‘Sajahatra Bangsamoro’ program,” Undersecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, explained in a briefing. Through this program, the government seeks to provide for the health, education and livelihood needs of the 12,000-strong rebel group in their communities within the next 18 months. The government and the rebel group were now threshing out the annexes of an October 2012 preliminary peace agreement preparatory to the final signing of a comprehensive agreement by March that would set up a Bangsamoro territory with more powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The task force’s main job is to craft and implement health, educational and livelihood programs for MILF beneficiaries, internally displaced persons and poor communities in Mindanao. “For this purpose, the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program shall be implemented as the government’s initial support for identified MILF combatants and families, and other affected persons and communities,” the President said in the administrative order, which was released Tuesday. The President said the body would coordinate with the Transition Commission, whose members are expected to be named anytime, the implementation of the projects, as well as craft a communication strategy on the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program. The members of the task force are the presidential adviser on the peace process; secretaries of the departments of social welfare, labor, health, education, agriculture, local government and budget; heads of the Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, Presidential Communications Operations Office, and Office of the Presidential Spokesperson; chairpersons of the Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; and president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. The President has authorized the officials to charge funding against their departments’ budgets, and said that any additional funds may be sourced from his social and contingent funds. n

Malaysian authorities prepare to deport Filipino gunmen in Sabah. While the sultanate›s authority gradually faded as Western colonial powers exerted their influence over the region, it continued to receive lease payments for Sabah. Heirs to the sultanate still receive nominal yearly compensation from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement. One of the demands from the gunmen is more compensation.

LEASE PAYMENT BOLSTERS PH CLAIM OVER SABAH - GAZMIN DEFENSE Voltaire Gazmin said Malaysia’s continuing payment of lease for Sabah bolsters the Philippine claim over the territory. “You see, the sultanate is being paid 5,000 ringgit up to now,” said Gazmin, referring to the nominal yearly compensation the heirs to the Sultanate of Sulu receive from Malaysia under a longstanding agreement. “So if you are being paid then there’s claim,” he said in a press briefing. Dozens of followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III sailed over to neighboring Sabah island last month to assert their centuries-old claim over the area. Also among their demands is additional compensation. Malaysian authorities surrounded the group, which is believed to be made up of anywhere between 80 and 400 people, and a stand-off has since been in place while negotiations continue. But Gazmin said that while the claims of royal family could be valid, it is not right to send an armed group to Sabah to reclaim their territory. President Benigno Aquino in his first public comments said: “Going there with arms is not the way to resolve this.” But Gazmin said Manila is still studying the Philippines’ dormant claims to Sabah. At the same time, Gazmin said that he and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi have agreed to settle the situation “amicably, peacefully, without any violence whatsoever.” n

Estimates of the number of the armed men have varied. Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the number at between 80 to 100 gunmen. But the sultan›s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, said in Manila there were about 400 members of the group, including 20 with arms. Idjirani said the sultan, Jamalul

Kiram, who lives in a Manila suburb, gave the men the authority to reside in Sabah and they were determined to resist efforts to expel them. The sultan›s men in Sabah were instructed not to fire first, Idjirani added. «But if the Malaysian military will attack us, we will be left with no choice but to defend ourselves,» he quoted Kiram as saying. n

CHINA REJECTS PH ARBITRATION MOVE CHINA has officially rejected a Philippine move to bring the longrunning territorial issues over the South China Sea before a U.N. arbitration tribunal, saying Manila’s claim was legally infirm and carried unacceptable allegations against Beijing. In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it received on Feb. 17 from Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing a Note Verbale stating that China is rejecting and returning the Philippines’ Notification and Statement of Claim. In its Note Verbale, China reiterated its often stated position that it has indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea encompassed by its nine-dash line claim, which covers nearly the entirety of the sea, including areas that are well within Philippine territory and several disputed islands. Despite this setback, the Philippines “remains committed to Arbitration which is a friendly, peaceful and durable form of dispute settlement that should be welcomed by all,” the DFA said in the statement. According to Chinese state news Xinhua, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, at a briefing in Beijing, said the Philippines’ note and statement of notification and claim have “serious mistakes

both in facts and law.” Although widely expected, China’s move was still a blow to Philippine government›s efforts to take a legal track in confronting China on overlapping claims in the resource-rich waters, called West Philippine Sea by Manila, which have long been a source of diplomatic and maritime tensions. Philippine officials have said that the arbitration process would proceed even if China would decide to ignore it but Chinese experts have asserted otherwise. The tribunal, which would operate under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, would decide whether the arbitration case could be heard even in the absence of China. Manila initiated an arbitration process under the UNCLOS on January 21 to try to declare as “illegal” China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea. Apart from China and the Philippines, three members of Association of South East Asian Nations – Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia - have claims in the South China Sea, where Chinese rival Taiwan is also a claimant. Manila has maintained that a rules-based approach is the only legitimate way in addressing disputes through a legal framework such as the UNCLOS. n


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$5.9B MINE PROJECT GETS DENR OK THE country’s largest mining project has finally gotten the green light from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but under stiff conditions. The controversial $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Swiss firm Xstrata and its local unit, Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI), in Southern Mindanao has been granted an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), one of the requirements it needs to operate. The project was stalled due to a provincial ordinance banning open-pit mining in South Cotabato. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the recent opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) stressing the supremacy of national laws over local regulations prompted the DENR to issue the ECC. But he said the grant of the ECC to SMI was subject to certain conditions, and failure to comply could result in its revocation. “SMI should make public the feasibility of the project, ensure that the area does not cover those where mining is prohibited and ensure social acceptability through consultations with stakeholders,” Paje said in a statement. Paje defined “social acceptability” partly to mean convincing stakeholders, especially the people of South Cotabato, that the project would benefit the community without putting it at risk. He said SMI could implement the project only after submitting “all other necessary government permits and clearances to the EMB, particularly those involving indigenous peoples, the agriculture and agrarian reform departments, and local government

South Cotabato natives oppose the mining project in their province. “encouraging sign” from the government, which had noted through the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) that the Philippines needed at least $3 billion in investments to create jobs. SMI’s planned investment in Tampakan, $5.9 billion (P239.55 billion at current exchange rates), is nearly double the amount cited by Neda, and will help not only South Cotabato but also the rest of the country, the chamber said. But an environmentalist in South Cotabato assailed the granting of the ECC to SMI. “This country is going to the dogs,” said Fr. Rey Ondap, chairman of the Justice and Peace for the Integrity of Creation and a noted environment advocate in the diocese of Marbel in South Cotabato. Ondap said the diocese of Marbel, based in Koronadal City, was so disgusted by the national government’s disregard of the people’s sentiment, particularly the affected B’laan residents in Bong Mal area. n

GOV’T MAY OPEN MORE AREAS TO FOREIGNERS

THE government is revisiting its list of businesses prohibited to foreign investors but notes that the revisions will not include lifting constitutional restrictions on foreign equity and foreign professionals. The country’s top economic managers headed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, National Economic and Development Authority head Arsenio Balicasan and Department of Trade & Industry head Gregory Domingo have all agreed to review the Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) to determine which areas may still be opened to foreigners. Purisima, however, pointed out that only items on the list established by executive order or legislation would be reviewed. “We will not be reviewing lifting economic restrictions in the constitution. That is currently off the table. Limiting the items on the FINL will allow the Philippines to be more connected to the global economy, which will result in more business and employ-

CON-GEN’S CUP HOOPS LEAGUE ROLLS OUT MAY 11-26

T units.” The DENR denied twice SMI’s application for an ECC last year on the ground that the South Cotabato provincial government had passed an ordinance banning open-pit mining, the method the mining company was proposing for the Tampakan facility. Paje said the issuance of the ECC did not mean that the company could already operate and that it still needed to resolve certain legal questions, including the open-pit mining ban in South Cotabato. SMI has argued that the ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato runs contrary to the Philippine Mining Act, which allows it. The DOJ legal opinion supported this argument, paving the way for the DENR to finally grant the ECC. The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines welcomed the DENR move granting an ECC to SMI. In a statement, the chamber said the go-signal from the DENR was an

ment for Filipinos,” Purisima said. Purisima said they would seek inputs from key stakeholders – National Government agencies, Congress, business groups, and other industry leaders. The review is part of efforts to attract more direct foreign investors as the country moves toward accelerated, sustained and inclusive economic growth. The FINL, which identifies the business activities that are reserved for Filipino nationals, was introduced as major reform in 1991. Although reissued every two years, the list barely made an impact in so far as boosting foreign investments into the Philippines is concerned. The next FINL is due in 2014. Net FDI inflows remain very low in the Philippines compared to its neighboring large Asean economies which allow full foreign ownership. According to the World Bank in its Investing Across Borders 2010 report, which measures how 87 economies fa-

MARCH 1-15, 2013

cilitate market access and operations of foreign companies, the Philippines and Thailand have some of the strictest foreign equity rules and fall below the East Asia and Pacific Average as well as the high income OECD economies. The Joint Foreign Chambers in the Philippines has long been pushing for the removal of some restrictions, particularly on the practice of all professions. JFC said the government must take advantage of the growing investor confidence in the country and make a serious effort to make the negative list less negative. n

he Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver has announced the holding of the first-ever Consul General’s Inter-province Basketball Tournament in May 11-26 this

year. Organized by the Philippines Cultural Pista ng Bayan Society in conjunction with the Pista ng Bayan festival and other Philippine Independence Day festivities this year, the league will be joined in by no less than 12 Metro-Vancouver teams representing different provinces in the Philippines. The games will be held over two weekends, May 11 to 12, then May 25 to 26, at a venue to be confirmed by the organizers. The games will be played in two divisions: Open, for players of any age, and Masters, for players aged 40 and above. Consul General Jose Ampeso, in whose honour the league is being organized, said basketball is an excellent way to bring together the Filipino community in Metro Vancouver in the spirit of fun and friendship. “The Consulate General whole-heartedly supports the staging of this tournament. Filipinos have a rich basketball tradition, and we believe this is a great way to get together, either to play or watch a sport we all love. Let’s be there and support our teams,” Consul General Ampeso said. According to Jay Razon, the league’s overall committee coordinator, at least six teams have committed to participate—Samar, Sarangani, Pampanga, Laguna, Quezon, and Metro Manila. He said he expects many more teams to sign up soon. Razon, who has organized similar leagues in previous years, said he expects crowd of no less than 500 participants during the Grand Opening and Parade of Colors on May 11, and at least 300 basketball patrons during the championship game on May 26. “It will not be limited to basketball games. It also features exciting entertainment for the whole family and for all ages,” he said. “This is gonna be big,” said Mikey Castro, who represents the Sarangani team, one of the early entrants to the league. “Everyone is excited. I’m sure many more teams will be joining,” he added. For details on how to participate or organize teams, interested parties are advised to contact Jay Razon at 604-358-6493, or email, jayrazon54@gmail.com. n


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SANDIGANBAYAN DEMANDS FULL PAYMENT FROM ERAP THE Sandiganbayan is now demanding in full the payment of the P189.7million judgment cost in the trial of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada six years after he was convicted of plunder. The antigraft court’s special division, in a resolution dated Feb. 11, ordered its Sheriff and Security Services Office to serve a second “Notice to Deliver on Banco de Oro-Unibank Inc.” to turn over the complete cost, including accrued interest and income held in an investment management account (IMA) in the name of “Jose Velarde.” Jose Velarde is Estrada’s alias. On Sept. 12, 2007, the court ordered the forfeiture of the deposits in IMA No. 101-78056-1, P545.3 million in alleged illegal gambling payola, and the so-called Boracay mansion in New Manila, Quezon City. In a manifestation dated Feb. 18, Albert de la Cruz, acting chief judicial staff officer, said that BDO had alrea-

dy transferred to the court sheriff a total of P101.3 million—P98.26 million going to the National Treasury, P1.013 million to the special allowances for justices and judges, and P2.026 million to the Judiciary Development Fund. Also recovered were 450 million shares of Waterfront Philippines Inc., which the sheriff tried to auction in 2009. The sheriff put off the auction after Wellex Group Inc. filed a case against then Sheriff Edgardo Urieta in the Makati Regional Trial Court, De la Cruz said. The case was later dismissed last year. De la Cruz told the court that the Waterfront shares should be sold to pay for the unsatisfied balance of P88.4 million from IMA No. 10178056-1. “The excess amount of the sale, if any, shall be added to or shall form part of the other amounts which have been ordered forfeited by this court but have not been recovered in full,”

Erap is out of jail but he has to turn over forfeited assets. he said. De la Cruz said that only P200 million of the P545.3 million in jueteng payola from the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, along with P15-million

US WILLING TO REVIEW FILIPINO VETERANS’ CLAIMS THE United States is open to a review of the rejected benefit claims of thousands of aging Filipino veterans who served with American forces during World War II, the chair of the US House committee on veterans’ affairs said. Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, head of a congressional delegation that visited the Philippines recently, told the Inquirer the US government was willing to take a second look at Filipino veterans’ claims that were denied by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). In a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs last Feb. 21, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario sought Miller’s support for a review of the rejected claims of around 24,385 Filipino veterans under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund. Miller said, however, that such a review was not a guarantee of a reconsideration, saying the US government was “very careful” about approving claims by Filipinos who served under the US flag over six decades ago. “We understand there are other individuals who claim they have a right to compensation and I agree that every person should have the opportunity for a full and complete review,” he said. “But we have to be careful that only those who earned the compensation get the compensation,” he added. Miller said “there is support” in the US Congress for such a review. “…But that doesn’t guarantee that there’s going to be a change. There are widows, dependents who

Filipino war veterans demand “just compensation.” have applied, there have been some fraudulent claims that have been discovered,” he said, during a visit to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City yesterday morning. “Obviously those persons are not due the compensation. However, we want to make sure that every person that is due compensation receives it,” he said. The FVEC is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Arra) that provides for compensation to Filipinos who fought on the American side during the Second World War. Filipino veterans living in the Philippines are entitled to a

one-time payment of $9,000 while those living in the United States are to receive $15,000. The act requires veterans to have documents showing they were on both the Roster of Troops and the Discharge List of the US Army by the end of the war before they could receive the benefits. Thousands of Filipino veterans received the compensation, while thousands more did not. Some veterans have gone to court to press for compensation, saying their claims were rejected because the US did not accept Philippine records of their war service. n

interest, had been recovered. De la Cruz said other assets in the IMA trust account, including a chattel mortgage for P500 million and 300 million shares of Wellex, may likewise

be sold if the proceeds from the sale of the Waterfront shares were not enough. But this may require the issuance of another notice for delivery to BDO, he said. On Sept. 11, 2007, after a six-year trial, the Sandiganbayan found Estrada guilty beyond reasonable doubt for plunder and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, or a jail term of up to 40 years. The antigraft court also agreed to consider Estrada’s more than six years in detention as time served for the offense. A month and a half after the conviction, then President Macapagal-Arroyo exercised her executive clemency powers and pardoned Estrada. In its decision on Estrada’s plunder charge, the Sandiganbayan ordered the forfeiture of Estrada’s bank accounts and real estate property in Quezon City in favor of the government. n

EX-PNP CHIEF, 7 OTHERS FACE GRAFT RAPS

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of graft charges against retired Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa and seven other ranking police officers in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of 75 defective rubber boats worth P131.5 million in 2008. Morales denied their motions for reconsideration and affirmed the earlier resolution of her office dated Sept. 26, 2012, finding probable cause to indict the accused. Aside from Versoza, to stand trial are Police Deputy Directors General Jefferson Soriano and Benjamin Belarmino Jr., Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos and Romeo Hilomen, Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde, and Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag for violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. All the respondents, except for Roderos, filed separate motions for reconsideration. In denying their motions, the Ombudsman said the arguments presented by the respondents were “a mere rehash of their initial arguments set forth in their counter-affidavits which we already considered, weighed and resolved before we rendered the resolution sought to be considered.” The case stemmed from the complaint and supplemental complaint filed on Nov. 15, 2011, and Feb. 17, 2012, respectively, by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices (OMB-MOLEO). Records showed that the PNP bought in 2008 through a negotiated procurement plan 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outboard motors for the PNP Maritime Group under the Capability Enhancement Program Funds. The PNP entered into four separate supply contracts dated Dec. 18, 2009, with Enviroaire, a supplier, for 93 units of outboard motors for P44,175,000, and 10 police rubber boats for P11,650,000; with Geneve, for the purchase of 41 rubber boats for P47,765,000; and with Bay Industrial for 10 units at P11,650,000. The Ombudsman said that upon delivery of the first batch of rubber boats and outboard motors, the PNP Maritime Group, through its Technical Inspection Committee on Watercrafts (MG-TICW), found various deficiencies in the equipment, making them risky to users, while the boats and engines were not functional when fitted together, making them unusable for the PNP’s disaster operations. The special panel of investigators that handled the case found that the government suffered undue injury in the amount of P131.55 million due to the irregular purchase of the rubber boats. Morales earlier imposed administrative sanctions ranging from dismissal from the service and forfeiture of retirement benefits on the 11 accused high-ranking police officials. n


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