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President Rodrigo Duterte formally endorses his official lone candidate for Governor in Sulu Dr. Sakur ‘Datu Shahbandar’ Tan.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Sulu Vice Gubernatorial Candidate Toto Tan.

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Duterte’s ailing presidency

President Rodrigo Duterte

IT WOULD be premature to claim that Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency in the Philippines is in trouble. Despite a temporary drop in his approval ratings last year, threefourths of Philippine citizens still approve of his performance in office, with his violent drug crackdown considered his ‘top achievement’. Yet while Duterte remains revered in the Continue on page 3

Quarantine rules tightened over entry or animals, meat and plants KIDAPAWAN CITY - The Philippines have imposed a strict quarantine measure to prevent the entry of

ARMM

animal and plant diseases, especially the African swine fever that now threatens the hog industry and the Pana-

ma disease or Fusarium wilt that infects banana plants in the country. Continue on page 2

Eastern Mindanao

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February 11-17, 2019

Case Closed? 5 Sayyafs who yield, face criminal charges over cathedral bombings

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A R I O U S GROUPS and political leaders in Sulu province have urged a thorough investigation into the deadly bombing of the cathedral in Jolo town after police declared as “case closed” the recent attacks following the surrender of 5 men being linked to the twin suicide blasts. Continue on page 2

Western Mindanao

Police Director General Oscar Albayalde speaks to commandos in Jolo town in this photo released by the police.

Cebu

Manila


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The Mindanao Examiner

February 11-17, 2019

Case Closed? 5 Sayyafs who yield, face criminal charges over Jolo cathedral bombings

Continued from page 1 Police have filed criminal charges against the suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, according to Police Director General Oscar Albayalde said He said among those who surrendered is Kammah Pae, who was among those who coordinated the January 27 deadly bombings of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo town that killed and wounded dozens of people. Albayalde identified the four other suspects as Salit Alih and Albaji Kisae Gadjali, Rajan Bakil Gadjali and Kaisar Bakil Gadjali. “The five surrendered due to the massive hot pursuit operations by troops from the Patikul Municipal Police Station, 52nd Special Action Company, Sulu

Provincial Mobile Force Company, 14th Regional Mobile Force Battalion, CIDG9, RIU9, and 35th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army,” Albayalde said. He said security forces also destroyed an improvised explosive and other bomb components recovered from Pae’s house in Patikul town. “During panelling at the house of Kammah, EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team) / K9 and SOCO (Scenes of Crime Officer) discovered assembled IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and IED components which were subsequently disrupted,” he said. Patikul is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State

of Iraq and Syria or ISIS. Albayalde said Pae’s group is facing charges of multiple murders and multiple frustrated murders. And security forces are still pursuing Abu Sayyaf leader Hajan Sawadjaan, believed to be the chief architect in the cathedral bombings, and over a dozen other militants. Timeline He said Sawadjaan was a key player in the daring attacks and elaborated on the timeline and sequence of events leading to bombings which were carried out by an Indonesian couple. “Beginning on January 8, 2019, a certain Muksin and Usman attempted to assemble an IED in Barangay Latih in Patikul, but later abandoned the effort.

Quarantine rules tightened over entry or animals, meat and plants Continued from page 1 Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said they will seize fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and meat products and plants entering the country without the necessary permits. He said importers must secure the needed permits as part of the strict implementation of quarantine rules or protocols. “Please don’t bring in the above-mentioned products without first securing the needed sanitary permits,” he said.

Piñol said the complacency of quarantine officers in the past had resulted to the entry of the African swine fever and Panama disease. “Let me just remind you of the implications if we become complacent or if we accommodate requests for exemptions. As the name suggests, the disease originated from another country. How do you think it got here? That is a result of complacency of quarantine officers,” he said. “Alam ko marami ang

magtatampo, but I hope you will understand the dangers that your acts could inflict on Philippine Agriculture. Right now, there is the African swine fever that threatens the country’s hog industry and we have to institute strict Quarantine Protocols,” he said, adding, “The Philippine banana industry now is facing a serious problem because of Fusarium or Panama Disease.” (With a report from Rhoderick Beñez)

NOTICE TO DISSOLVE THE COOPERATIVE LSK MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE DATE & TIME: March 3, 2019 at 1 o’clock in the afternoon VENUE: LSK MPC Bldg., Lower Saguing, Makilala, Cotabato AGENDA: VOLUNTARY DISSOLUTION OF LSK-MPC

Police Director General Oscar Albayalde looks at the debris after the January 27 bombings of Jolo cathderal. And four days later, Sawadjaan met with Usman and Barak in Sitio Bastiong in Patikul and gave them funds for the bombing mission. On January 21, 2019, an unidentified Asian couple, believed to be holed in Lampinigan Island (in Basilan province) for a few days, sailed to Jolo on January 24 by pump boat. Upon arrival in Jolo, the couple boarded a tricycle to Caltex Tiam at 7:10 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m., the couple were met by suspects Papong, Awag and Radjan at Caltex Tiam and all of them boarded Awag’s jeepney along with five minor boys, who later disembarked along the way.” “Upon reaching Usaw in Barangay Langhub in Patikul near the house of Usman, the group was joined by Kammah, Barak, Makrim and Usman and later proceeded Sitio Bastiong in Barangay Langub. The couple alighted at Bastiong and walked towards the forested area escorted by Kamah and Barak where they met Sawadjaan to further plan the bombing. Also present during the planning were Barak, Kammah, Awag, Usman, Makrim, Isal, Radjan and Papong. At 5:00 p.m. on January 26, the couple, each toting black trolley bags were escorted to Barangay Latih in Patikul by Usman, Barak and nine other unidentified armed men where the couple boarded Awag’s jeepney to Jolo. Upon reaching Jolo at 5:10 p.m., the couple disembarked in front of Suleco (Sulu Electric Cooperative) Building to an undisclosed location within Jolo. At 8:28 a.m. the following morning, it is believed that the Indo-

nesian woman detonated the 1st IED inside the Jolo cathedral while the man detonated the 2nd IED at the church entrance seconds later,” Albayalde explained. Explosives He said from bomb fragments and components recovered at the church, forensic technicians have reconstructed the two detonated IEDs made from common GI (Galvanized Iron) pipes that served as casing that contained possibly ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) compound as primary explosive charge and possibly boosted by secondary high explosives possibly PETN, TNT or RDX (subject to further laboratory analysis) that characterized the shattering effect of the explosions. PETN is short for Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, a major ingredient of Semtex or general-purpose plastic explosive containing RDX (Royal Demolition Explosive) which is cyclotonite, a powerful explosive, and PETN – it is used in commercial blasting, demolition, and in certain military applications. TNT is also known as trinitrotoluene. “This particular type of IED, by design, is identified with the Abu Sayyaf group as nine similar IEDs have been involved in at least five recent incidents in Basilan and Sulu in 2016 and 2017,” Albayalde said, citing an attack in Jolo town on March 12, 2017. He said 2 similar IEDs were also detonated by the Abu Sayyaf in Lamitan City in Basilan on March 19 and 20, 2017, while 4 more similar IEDs were defused by the military in Al-barca town also in Bas-

ilan on May 20, 2016. “The signature of the Abu Sayyaf group, therefore, is patently present in the IED used in this latest terror attack in Jolo. The investigation of the Jolo cathedral explosion is far from over as there are more pieces of evidence that need to be carefully examined to test its consistency with other facts and circumstances surrounding the incident,” he added. Operations Security forces were still pursuing over 100 militants who broke into smaller groups in Sulu’s hinterlands. Over 2 dozen soldiers had been killed and wounded in fighting Abu Sayyaf since the deadly cathedral bombings. Five soldiers had been confirmed dead and nearly two dozen more injured in clashes in Patikul town. The fighting triggered an exodus of civilians in villages there. There had been no reports of civilian casualties, but the Joint Task Force Sulu said they have received intelligence reports that a foreign militant, who goes by his nom de guerre Abu Black, was killed in the fighting, but his nationality remains unknown. Another Abu Sayyaf commander, Idang Susukan, was also wounded in the clashes and lost his finger, the report added. The regional military headquarters, Western Mindanao Command, did not release any information about the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf. But on Sunday, sealed caskets of slain soldiers were spotted being transported by soldiers to the Philippine Air Force base in Zamboanga. (Mindanao Examiner)


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The Mindanao Examiner

February 11-17, 2019

Duterte’s ailing presidency Continued from page 1 Philippines for his claimed success in bringing order to the country through his draconian anti-drug campaign, 2018 was not kind to him. His chronic health problems appear to have worsened, although a brief cancer scare proved a false alarm. Inflation — which hits the poor hardest and is affecting the price of rice and other basic foodstuffs — doubled to nearly 7 per cent in September 2018, easing somewhat by the end of the year. The key drivers of economic growth over the past decade and a half—migrant remittances and call centres—also appear to be sputtering. There are fewer opportunities to work abroad while advances in artificial intelligence make business process outsourcing less labour intensive. Succession poses a real danger to Duterte’s inner circle. Vice President Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo is a member of the opposition Liberal Party. (In an electoral quirk, the vice president is elected separately in the Philippines.) Presently, though, she faces a vote count challenge to the 2016 vice-presidency election results from Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, son of the former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, which could soon unseat her. Meanwhile, Duterte’s allies squabbled among themselves, with discredited former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo making a comeback as speaker of the House and ousting another Duterte ally with the apparent backing of his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio. The manoeuvring was caught on national television, delaying and upstaging Duterte’s third state of the nation address in July 2018. The infighting carried over into candidate selection for the May 2019 mid-term elections, with Duterte’s supposed ruling PDP–Laban party fearing marginalisation from Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party composed of regional barons. Duterte himself is yet to confirm his favoured slate of candidates. Peace talks with communist insurgents have broken down and cabinet members linked to the movement have been forced out of the cabinet, with the far left now among

the most outspoken opponents of the President. Despite calling himself a ‘socialist’, Duterte is doing too little to address the Philippines’ high rates of poverty. Duterte has raised senior citizen pensions, provided medical care to the homeless and increased police and soldiers’ salaries. But he has not sufficiently addressed rural poverty — the most persistent in Southeast Asia despite 15 years of high growth — nor ended unfair short-term labour contracting after promising to do so. His major populist gestures, particularly abolishing tuition at staterun universities, are middle-class subsidies in disguise — only 12 per cent of students are poor. While Duterte brushes aside institutional checks — with the lower house controlled by his allies and the courts seemingly cowed after the dubious removal of the sitting chief justice in May 2018 — he is attacking his critics more blatantly. As part of mounting efforts to intimidate the press, questionable tax charges have been brought against CEO Maria Ressa of online newspaper Rappler, who claims she is being persecuted for hard hitting reporting on the drug war. Duterte’s efforts to draft a new federal constitution are meeting strong resistance, with some cabinet officials criticising provisions of a new charter draft as too expensive. The political reforms designed to keep the country from descending into ‘dynastic federalism’ proposed by the constitutional consultative committee, particularly a ban on political clans, were quickly cast aside in a revised version masterminded by Arroyo and her allies in the House of Representatives. But the Senate refused to take up consideration of the revised draft in October 2018 due to supposed time constraints. The Senate has been the only major institutional bastion of opposition to Duterte. Even though pro-Duterte candidates are likely to dominate the May 2019 elections, a number of oppositionists will remain in the Senate and will likely be joined by defeated presidential candidate, and close ally of former president Benigno Aquino III, Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, who has joined the Senate

race and seems likely to be among the winners. Lost amid Duterte’s continuous Trump-like provocations, which dominate domestic and international media coverage of the Philippines, is a piece of good news. In August 2018 Duterte signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law after failed attempts by previous administrations. This achievement gives the country’s Muslims autonomy in parts of Mindanao and offers the prospect of lasting peace after nearly five decades of on-andoff war. A referendum on greater autonomy in the predominantly Muslim areas of Mindanao is ongoing with initial results suggesting it will pass overwhelmingly. After going through an ‘acclamatory phase’ in which the police publicised deaths in the drug war as an indication of success, the Duterte administration is now on the defensive. Three policemen were convicted in late 2018 of the killing of an unarmed teenager in 2017, the first such conviction since Duterte came to office. Yet the killings continue unabated. International press seem to have lost interest in the ‘war on drugs’ and recent official Philippine National Police data of nearly 5000 killed, or six daily, suggests the campaign is becoming ‘less bloody’. But the real count has been obfuscated. Given the suspiciously high number of unsolved homicides, the more reasonable estimate may be that of the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights: 27,000 drug war victims, or an average of nearly 1000 extra-judicial killings monthly since Duterte took power. While Duterte remains popular for the moment, his worsening health, infighting among his allies and persecution of his enemies as criticism of his war on drugs mounts is putting his legacy in serious doubt. (East Asia Forum by Mark R Thompson. The author is Head and Professor of Politics in the Department of Asian and International Studies and Director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre at the City University of Hong Kong. This article is part of an East Asia Forum special feature series on 2018 in review and the year ahead.)

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Youth empowerment through Bangsamoro Youth Development Agenda COTABATO CITY – The Office of the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (OBYA) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has completed the very first document that identifies key issues and problems affecting the youth sector and it offers recommendations on how to resolve those challenges. “We are happy and proud to share to you the very first Bangsamoro Youth Development Agenda (BYDA). We hope that this would inspire others to engage and participate more in contributing to the development of the region,” said Nizam Pabil, who was appointed Executive Director of OBYA in 2018. Pabil said he and his team have painstakingly worked one whole year in order to achieve a milestone in addressing the region’s youth development issues and others concerns. The document also aims at articulating the ARMM’s development goals, which guided regional government offices, nongovernmental entities,

and other key players on youth development these past years. Previously, several activities and documentations were conducted by the youth agency, such as provincial youth summits, research and interviews, and various consultations. From these activities, OBYA was able to gather all relevant data and transform them into a Bangsamoro youth development roadmap. The document underscores six critical variables in the youth sector’s development: Education, Peace and Security, Governance and Civic Engagement, Environment, Health and Socio-Cultural. A copy of the document can be downloaded from the given link: https://drive.google.com/ file/d/1632gkNy1VpgaDZIqtUbOAigtRvx27hoH/view?usp=sharing The youth occupies a special place in the social environment and through the years, the role of the youth has evolved significantly with its active participation in nation-building becoming

indispensable. OBYA was specifically created to plan, prepare, and implement development programs that will address the concerns of the ARMM’s youth sector. It has been using relevant references to serve as guide in performing its functions and that includes the National Youth Development Plan and the Mindanao Youth Development Agenda. However, it realizes that there should be more avenues provided for the youth, especially in ARMM, to voice out their concerns and interests. As the region welcomes the new Bangsamoro government, Pabil has high hopes that “the government will continue to support the Bangsamoro youth and that the BYDA will help guide our new leaders and other stakeholders in their pursuit to continue a youth-empowered Bangsamoro”. Pabil thanked all the youth representatives from the different sectors who exerted significant efforts in the realization of the youth agenda. (Bureau of Public Information)


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The Mindanao Examiner

February 11-17, 2019

ARMM inaugurates Bangsamoro Museum in Cotabato City

COTABATO CITY – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) formally recently inaugurated its first Bangsamoro Museum at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex here. The Bangsamoro Museum is a facility established under Executive Order No. 32 s. 2019. It serves as repository of artifacts, works of art, as well as textual and iconographic records relevant to the cultural memory of the Bangsamoro people in the ARMM. Governor Mujiv Hataman, who led the opening of the museum, underscored it was not easy for the regional government to put up such facility. However, he said the assistance of a national curator and the competence of the workforce of the Office of the Regional Governor drove him to push for it. “Ito rin ang ating motibasyon upang buoin ang museo na ito. Ayaw na nating maranasan na hirap at kung sinu-sino lamang ang magkukwento sa atin ng kwento ng buhay at aspeto ng ating pagiging Moro,” he said. The Bangsamoro Museum also symbolizes the determination of Hataman’s leadership to deliver a smooth transition to the incoming Bangsamoro government through reformed

governance. “ItongBangsamoro Museum, kasama na rin ang Regional Library, ay simbolo ng pagkokonsolida natin sa mga dokumento para sa transisyon ng gobyerno,” he said, noting, the importance of the inauguration of the facility for ARMM and for the next generation. “Ang mahalaga, sa pagtatapos ng ARMM, mayroon tayong maiiwan na pwedeng tawaging ‘legasiya’ at pwede ninyo rin itong tawaging regalo namin sa mga henerasyong darating,” he added. The Bangsamoro Museum was organized under independent curator and institutional critic Marian Pastor Roces. She emphasized that the purpose of its establishment is to collect significant stories of the Bangsamoro people through the exhibition of different artifacts from the region. Roces said she admires the resiliency of the Bangsamoro people and this is the reason why during the conceptualization of the museum’s theme, her group collected objects that convey stories of courage and survival as their main value. “Karaniwan, ang isang museo ay naglalaman ng magagarang exhibits. Ngunit sa museong ito, karamihan po ng makikita ninyo ay hindi magagara, hindi mamahalin. May na-

ka-exhibit na parang basahan… parang sira na (kung ituring). Bakit? Dahil mas mahalaga yung taglay na kwento ng bagay na iyan,” Roces said. Curation is a process of organizing and managing artifacts to ensure that they remain tangible and visible for the years to come. The Bangsamoro Museum has its permanent exhibition, which presents artifacts from the different parts of ARMM that have existed for centuries now. Visitors can see these, including textiles produced by Maranao women during the Marawi Siege as means of survival; recordings of the Tausug Kissa-chanting of the Bud Dajo massacre; personal library of Moro Islamic Liberation Front founder Hashim Salamat; and the 2,000-year-old archeological artifacts of Kulaman plateau, specifically burial urns. Aside from these artifacts, the museum also has ample space reserved for receiving important documents in the future. The museum currently exhibits documents related to the peace process, including the Bangsamoro Organic Law. With the establishment of the museum, the incoming government will immediately learn that ARMM looks forward to the future of the Bangsamoro.

“Itinayo ito para bigyan ng karampatang pagtingin ang lahat ng nagawa para umabot dito,” Roces said. Meanwhile, Bangsamoro transition Commissioner Mohagher Iqbal expressed his gratitude to the efforts of Governor Hataman’s administration in en-

suring a smooth transition through the preparation of pertinent documents that would be submitted to the new regional government. Iqbal also turned over to the Bangsamoro Museum and Regional Library books he authored in 1982, which documented peace pro-

cesses in southern Philippines. Along with the launching of the Bangsamoro Museum was the formal opening of the ARMM Regional Library, although it has already been made available to the public. (Bureau of Public Information)

Saudi executes Pinay maid! A 39-year-old Filipin household service worker was executed for murder in Saudi Arabia, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. It said the Philippine government was not able to save the service worker from death after the Saudi Supreme Judicial Council classified her case “as one in which blood money does not apply under Shariah law.” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato declined to provide additional

information on the Filipino’s identity, as well as the murder case she was involved in, citing the request for privacy of her next of kin. According to Ambassador Adnan Alonto, the Embassy has provided her with legal assistance to represent her in all stages of trial and has provided her family in the Philippines regular updates about her case. In addition, representatives were sent to visit her in Saudi jail, he added.

In its statement, the agency extended condolences to her bereaved family. The execution is the second in two years after the death of Jakatia Pawa in Kuwait on January 25, 2017. Pawa, who was executed by hanging, was buried the day after in Kuwait. The DFA has yet to issue information whether the remains of the executed Filipino from Saudi Arabia will be repatriated soon. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

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February 11-17, 2019

The Mindanao Examiner

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The Mindanao Examiner

February 11-17, 2019

Across : 1. French preposition 4. Electrified atom 7. Player 12. FBI employee (abbr.) 13. Cloistered one 14. Over 15. Cow’s comment 16. Values deeply 18. Gun owners’ org. 20. Loathe 21. Long-distance prefixes (2 wds.) 25. Nuclear___ 26. Soft belt 30. Pen 31. Skirt border 33. Went fast 35. North African 37. Holiday hunter’s prize (2 wds.) 39. Biblical mountain 43. Apple color 44. Card game for one 47. Gotcha! 50. Marry clandestinely 51. Angeles preceder 52. Hunting dog, for short 53. Change 54. Florida island 55. List abbr.

Answer to last week’s crossword:

Down : 1. Water barrier 2. Sense of self 3. Caveman’s time (2 wds.) 4. Unbroken 5. Belonging to us 6. Wind direction (abbr.) 7. Freon and oxygen 8. Adjoin 9. Extra 10. Night before holidays 11. Take five 17. Fruity refresher 19. Rushed 21. Circle segments 22. Gather crops 23. Impressed utterance

24. Gown 26. Bowling term 27. Large terrier 28. Bachelor party 29. Dangle 32. Wrestling pad 36. Religious dissent 37. Diner 38. ___glance (2 wds.) 39. Not ashore 40. Rock’s partner 41. Thanks ___! (2 wds.) 42. Mellow 45. Kind 46. Salmon eggs 48. Bonnet 49. NBC’s rival

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February 11-17, 2019

The Mindanao Examiner

A GLIMPSE IN HOTEL SOGO’S FUTURE THE LARGEST hotel chain in the Philippines with 40 branches nationwide, now has a new look. Hotel Sogo, a division of the Global Comfort Group Corporation, reinvents its iconic red and yellow look to a more minimalist approach highlighting red and white with yellow accents. “We retained the red because it symbolizes our passion for delighting our guests. The white reinforces our commitment to cleanliness and courteous service while the yellow accent symbolizes freshness, optimism, as well as energy,” Hotel Sogo CEO, Mr. Gus Corpus, said. He added that the recent change of façade colors also puts emphasis on excitement and modernization. “Being in business for over 25 years is a feat for any company. We continuously improve our hotels to provide the best experience for our guests while

retaining our affordability. We are committed to building more branches all over the country, providing the best value for money for our guests and employment for the Filipinos.” “We started in 1993 with two entrepreneurs who wanted to adopt a Japanese themed Hotel to connote Cleanliness, Innovation, Efficiency, Courtesy, Discipline and Teamwork, consequently, the birth of Hotel Sogo which means Harmony, Unity and Cooperation. These are still the values that drive us to add 5 more hotels in 2019 and 20 more in the next few years” Reinvention of Brand “Hotel Sogo commits to deliver not just excellent service, but continuous innovation of facilities and amenities to ensure a fabulous stay for our guests. The company was one of the first establishments that introduced

free Wi-Fi. We gave waiters skateboards so they can deliver orders faster. Aside from the usual hot and cold shower, Jacuzzi, 24-hr room service, we introduced in-room safety deposit boxes, a massage service and individual motorcycle garage rooms.” “Moreover, to make sure that all the guests have a pleasurable and memorable experience, we are the only hotel with a 24-

7

hour dedicated call center, which I, as the CEO, the COO and a dedicated group of staff, personally resolve any and all concerns of our guests.” Mr. Corpus cited. To find out more about this and Hotel Sogo events and promos, we encourage everyone to like / follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/ HotelSogoOfficialPage) and Instagram (@hotelsogo).

Photos taken during Hotel Sogo press conference and media thanksgiving on January 28, 2019 in Eurotel Hotel.


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February 11-17, 2019

‘Passport on Wheels’ now in Cebu

C

EBU CITY - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) rolled out its passport mega vans for the first time in Cebu as part of its efforts to address the massive demand for passport appointment slots in Cebu and nearby areas.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. sent two mega vans as part of its Passport on Wheels (POW) mobile outreach service at the SM Seaside City in Cebu. The POW mission will see the first-time deployment of the mega vans, the newest addition to the DFA’s fleet of vehicles dedicated to the program. The mega vans will be stationed at SM Seaside City during the month-long mission.

Department of Foreign Affairs’ Passport on Wheels.

SC affirms Sandiganbayan HDO vs. Cebu solon THE SUPREME Court (SC) has upheld the travel ban issued by the Sandiganbayan against Cebu (3rd District) Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia over a pending graft case. “All told, the Sandiganbayan did not commit abuse of discretion, much less grave, in denying the motion for reconsideration and the prayer for the lifting of the HDOs (hold departure orders) issued against the petitioner. The HDOs were validly issued pursuant to its inherent powers as a court of justice,” the SC

said in a decision dated Oct. 17, 2018 and only made available to newsmen recently. The High Court, through Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr., turned down the petition filed by Garcia, which questioned the validity of the HDOs against her on the ground that they were issued before she was able to exhaust her legal remedies and even before there was a final determination of probable cause against her. The case involved alleged anomalies in the purchase of 10 parcels of

land 24.9-hectare property for the provincial government’s housing and seaport projects in 2008 when Garcia was Cebu governor. “In this case the Sandiganbayan acted within its jurisdiction when it issued the HDOs against the petitioner. That the petitioner may seek reconsideration of the finding of probable cause against her by the Ombudsman does not undermine nor suspend the jurisdiction already acquired by the Sandiganbayan,” the SC explained. (Benjamin Pulta)

Each mega van has the capability to process 800-1,000 passport applications per day, twice as many as the DFA’s regular POW vans launched last year. Unlike a regular POW van that can only transport DFA personnel and equipment to passport processing sites, the mega vans have passport servicing equipment built-in to allow the data-capturing of the applicants inside the mega

vans themselves. This feature will allow the mega vans to service municipalities which lack the proper facilities to host a regular POW mission. The mega vans are heavy-duty vehicles designed to reach even farflung and mountainous municipalities. The Cebu mission was arranged with the support of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas.

Mobile phone users demand Globe Telecom, Smart Communications to unlock devices THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has released guidelines in compliance with a directive of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to allow subscribers to switch to compatible wireless service providers. This, after many subscribers complained that Globe Telecom and Smart Communications have prevented them from unlocking their cell phones and devices even after the expiration of the lockin period. “Under the draft MC (memorandum circular), public telecommunications entities will be required to disclose its pol-

icy on mobile phone and device unlocking and notify their customers if such devices are eligible for unlocking,” the NTC said. The “lock-in period” is the length of time under contract within which a subscriber cannot switch to a different service provider from the one that supplied the phone, because the device has been “locked” or unable to accept a SIM card from a competing telco, it was explained. DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said that the mandatory unlocking of mobile phones will encourage telcos to be innovative on services they offer to consumers.

“Subscribers who have completed such lock-in periods and have no outstanding obligations on their subscription contracts can demand to mandatorily unlock their phones and devices on convenient sites, facilities and processes that will be provided by their respective wireless service providers,” Rio said through DICT Memorandum Order No. 004 which was issued last December. The order mandates the NTC to draft the appropriate rules and regulations, as well as to conduct public consultations and hearings. (Aerol John Pateña)

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