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Atom-bomb like blast feared Phivolcs warns: Prolonged eruption can generate volcanic tsunami By Rio N. Araja, Joel E. Zurbano, Macon Ramos-Araneta


AAL Volcano could have a prolonged, hazardous eruption that would look like an atomic bomb blast and trigger a volcanic tsunami that would inundate surrounding areas, state volcanologists warned Monday.

VOL. XXXIII • NO. 334 • 3 SECTIONS 16 PAGES • P18 TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2020 • •

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Monday said the volcano’s eruption resumed with weak sporadic lava fountaining and hydrovolcanic activity at the main crater that generated steam-laden plumes about two kilometers high. New lateral vents were observed to have opened up on the volcano’s northern flank where 500-meter lava fountains emanated. Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said a total evacuation of the island and high-risk areas within the 14-kilometer Next page

Full alert: Cops, MMDA deploy By Joel E. Zurbano, Macon Ramos-Araneta, Maricel V. Cruz and Alena Mae Flores THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is on full alert after Taal Volcano began spewing smoke and ash over the weekend, with all personnel ready for deployment to assist in disaster and relief operations. PNP officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa earlier ordered the National Capital Region Police Office to dispatch six trucks to Talisay, Batangas, to help in the evacuation of residents affected by the volcanic activity. Next page



What happens during a volcanic eruption



Norman Cruz

Taal Lake one giant cauldron


VOLCANO’S VICTIMS. The People’s Park in the Sky (topmost photo), often simply called People’s Park and originally named palace in the sky, is covered by thick ash while (left, middle photo) a resident cleans mud and ash from his car after Taal began spewing ash over Tanauan, Batangas. Also in Tanauan (right photo) residents help scrape a road covered with mud spewed by Taal. In Metro Manila, a medical supplies store (above) puts up a sign of masks no longer available in the capital’s Bambang district. Above right, coconut trees, a veritable cash crop in the area, are weighed down by ash after Taal’s eruption.

Face masks overcharging: Field agents checking By Othel V. Campos and Macon Ramos-Araneta THE Trade Department sent a team of field agents Monday to verify reports that retailers were overcharging for face masks in Metro Manila and in provinces affected by the Taal volcano ash fall.Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said reports have


reached his office that some retailers have jacked up their prices for face and gas masks, taking advantage of the surge in demand for these products due to the recent ash fall from Taal Volcano. The field agents will monitor and observe movement of retail prices in the market and report cases of abusive or predatory pricing, he said.

THE entire Taal Lake is one giant caldera, and Taal Volcano is one of 24 active volcanoes listed by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. The Taal caldera is approximately 25 by 30 kilometers wide. Inside the caldera is the taal lake, and at the center of the lake is the Taal Volcano, one of the world’s lowest and deadliest volcano.

The Taal Volcano island is a post-caldera feature that is made up of numerous eruption centers or stratovolcanoes. Since 1572, Taal Volcano has recorded 34 eruptions ranging from phreatic (steam-blast) to phreatomagnetic (ejection of steam and pyroclastic fragments) and strombolian (ejection of lava). Next page

The department also announced that prices of manufactured basic necessities and prime commodities will remain unchanged as of the published Sept. 31, 2019 Suggested Retail Price (SRP) Bulletin. The price freeze includes convenience stores within the calamity-stricken areas. Next page

Duterte vows EO to set drug price cap By MJ Blancaflor PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to sign an executive order that will impose price limits on at least 120 life-saving medicines for the benefit of the public. The Health department has been pushing for an order that will reduce the prices of 122 drugs by half, saying Filipinos are

spending more on medicines compared to other countries. “I have not come across any, but in principle I will sign it twice over, Duterte said in a recent interview with ABS-CBN News. THE Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines had earlier expressed its desire to hold a dialogue Next page

GIANT CALDERA. Up to 30 kms wide, the entire Taal Lake hosts an island made up of a volcano, among 24 active in the Philippines, which has several eruption centers or stratovolcanoes.




19 repatriates from Baghdad ready to leave Middle East THE first batch of Filipino workers returning from Baghdad is scheduled to depart from Doha on Monday night, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Monday. In a statement, Lorenzana said the group was scheduled to depart for Doha at 9 p.m. on Monday and to arrive in Doha at 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 14. However, this has yet to be finalized as all flights to Manila have been canceled because of Taal Volcano’s eruption over the weekend. Lorenzana said Sunday only a small contingent of Filipino troops would be deployed to assist in the repatriation of Filipino workers in the Middle East, and that they would be wearing civilian attire. Lorenzana, the designated inter-agency repatriation committee chairman for the Filipino workers in the Middle East, said the group returning from Baghdad was scheduled to board a Qatar Airways flight to Manila. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who is in Doha, is set to accompany the Filipino on their flight home. Meanwhile, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration administrator Hans Leo Cacdac was set to leave Monday for Saudi Arabia to attend to the welfare of the Filipinos in the Middle East and assist in the repatriation effort, Lorenzana said. “The Rapid Response Teams of the DOLE and DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] have been advised of his impending arrival,” Lorenzana said. He said requests for repatriation from the Filipinos in Iraq, Libya and other Middle East hot spots had been received by embassies and consulates and their exit clearances were now being processed.

Under pressure, Iran favors easing of tensions T EHRAN—Iran has signaled it favors a de-escalation after 10 days of heightened tensions with the United States during which both sides fired missiles and Tehran accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft. Security was stepped up in Iran’s capital Sunday after a vigil the previous night for those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry protest and police temporarily arrested the British ambassador for being there. US President Donald Trump warned Iran against harming demonstrators and against a repeat of a deadly crackdown against rallies in November sparked by a fuel price hike. “To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted Sunday in his occasional all-capitals style. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, however, said Trump was still willing to “sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward” with Iran, although Tehran has

steadfastly refused to hold talks with Washington unless it lifts sanctions first. Tehran said it favored an easing of tensions after its arch-enemy Washington on January 3 killed a revered Iranian general, Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani, in a Baghdad drone strike. In a meeting between Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and the visiting emir of Qatar, both sides agreed de-escalation is the “only solution” to the regional crisis, the Qatari ruler said. Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the region but also enjoys strong ties with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field. “We agreed... that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from every-

Couple weds while Taal spews ash

Face... From A1

Prices of basic goods being sold in these stores must be frozen at their prevailing prices. Under normal circumstances, 24-hour convenience stores may price basic necessities and prime commodities at 10 percent to 15 percent higher than the SRP to compensate for their higher costs. The department said it would not hesitate to file administrative and criminal charges against unscrupulous businessess and individuals who capitalize on the consumers’ urgent need for their own profit. Under the law, penalties for violation of the price freeze include the imposition of a fine of P5,000 up to P1 million and/ or imprisonment from one to 10 years. On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) said protection kits such as N95 masks and eye drops will be provided to residents of areas that are affected by Taal Volcano’s phreatic eruptions. Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo told GMA News it would supply P1.5 million worth of protection kits in the Calabarzon area. Domingo said the DOH will coordinate with municipal and city health officers in high-risk areas for the distribution of the items. Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, urged the DOH to include face masks in relief packages to be distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and affected local government units. Stores in Metro Manila and nearby provinces had reportedly run out of stock of face masks, particularly of the recommended N95 variety, as early as Sunday evening. “The DOH should prioritize the immediate distribution of masks and medicines to protect our people,” Binay said. She said that children and those with respiratory and other health conditions should be given priority. Binay added that government should enlist the help of the private sector in procuring masks as well as other supplies that would protect citizens in affected areas. The senator also blasted traders who were taking advantage of the situation. Binay also reminded the public that N95 masks are not the only masks effective against ash fall. She also asked people to stay indoors, especially since work and classes have been suspended.

Taal... From A1

In 1749, the four volcanoes on Taal Lake erupted for three days, causing shock waves and acid rain. For almost seven months in 1754, the volcano recorded a plinian eruption (continuous gas blasts and ejection of lava). This is considered as Taal Volcano’s biggest eruption yet.

one and dialogue,” Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on what was believed to be his first official visit to the Islamic republic. For his part, Rouhani said: “We’ve decided to have more consultations and cooperation for the security of the entire region.” Iran’s president also met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh. In a meeting Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned military conflict with Iran will have an impact on global peace and stability, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Masato Ohtaka said. In a briefing to parliament, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said the missiles it fired last Wednesday on Iraqi bases hosting US troops were not aimed at killing American personnel. The US said no American personnel were harmed in the attacks. AFP

THE WEDDING CONTINUES. Newly weds Chino and Kat Vaflor are shown moments after saying their I dos amid Taal Volcano's explosion that created a kilomoter high ash plume seen from Savanna Farm in Tagaytay. Randolf Evan

Atom-bomb... From A1

radius from the Taal main crater must be enforced. Ma. Antonia Bornas, Phivolcs’ Volcano Monitoring Division chief, said should a hazardous eruption occur, it could look like an atomic bomb explosion. The eruption could generate base surges with rings of a turbulent mix of fragments and gas at the base of explosion columns. “There would be a towering eruption column with a ring on its base,” she said. “The so-called base surge would cross the lake and could affect the surrounding towns. The base surge is the main hazard,” she added. She also raised concerns of widespread ash fall, and liquefaction, landslides and tsunamis. A volcano can “displace a great volume of water and generate extremely destructive tsunami waves in the immediate source area,” according to the International Tsunami Information Center. “Waves will impact the coastline,” said Solidum. “Sometimes, if there are boats or structures there, these can be destroyed.” Solidum also said a series of earthquakes of less than magnitude 4 would prevail in areas near Taal Volcano due to the movement of magma. Bornas, in a radio interview, said Taal could erupt several times over a span of months or even years, as established in the past. On Monday morning, the volcano’s crater spewed out a lava fountain. Air quality in several parts of Metro Manila reached an “unhealthy” level for persons afflicted with respiratory illnesses amid the ash fall from Taal Volcano.

The cities of Malabon and San Juan’s air quality remained “good,” while that of the cities of Makati, Pasig and Parañaque were still “moderate or fair.” The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s Environmental Management Bureau said the air quality in the cities of Las Piñas, Mandaluyong and Taguig reached a level considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups” due to the significant presence of particulates with diameters of 10 microns or less (PM10). Environment Secretary Benny Antiporda said the rains in the three localities had helped lower the PM10 concentration yesterday afternoon. Dr. Gerry Bagtasa of the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology said the National Capital Region was “safe from the hazards of ash plumes” as of Monday morning since these are already being blown toward southern Japan. “Should there be an explosion, the winds would push the ash plumes toward the east off to the sea today (Tuesday) until a day tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said. Major airlines cancelled more flights despite the partial opening of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) following its temporary closure due to the effects of volcanic activity from Taal. As of 12 noon Monday, a total of 516 flights—283 arrival and 233 departure—and more than 25,000 passengers were affected by flight cancellations at four NAIA terminals. Following a joint inspection of the NAIA runways, officials of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced the partial resumption of operations

A COUPLE in the Philippines went ahead with their wedding Sunday despite the eruption of a volcano spewing ash into the sky behind them. Chino and Kat Vaflor were tying the knot at a venue 10 miles from Taal Volcano when wedding photographer Randolf Evan captured dramatic shots of the couple with the ash plume seemingly overhead. Taal Volcano, about 37 miles south of Manila, erupted in the afternoon, forcing residents to evacuate as experts warned that another “hazardous explosive eruption” was possible. “We were actually nervous because, while working, we kept on checking social media for updates on the volcanic eruption. So we were actually aware of the warnings and escalating levels that were being announced in real time,” Evan told CNN. “We also discussed discreetly among ourselves what we should do when worse came to worst.” Evan said everyone at the wedding at Savanna Farm Tagaytay by Solange stayed “calm” as the couple said “I do.” The venue later posted a picture of the couple at the altar, swirling clouds in the distance, and wrote, “The wedding continues!” The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported that the volcano exhibited a “fast escalation” in volcanic activity. Continuous eruption generated ash plumes six to nine miles above the crater, it said. The institute urged the evacuation of Taal Volcano island and several nearby towns. The agency raised its alert status to indicate the possibility of a hazardous eruption of lava within hours to days. beginning 10 a.m. for departures, and arrivals by noon Monday. “This, however, will be subject to terminal capacity of the four NAIA terminals and airline consent,” said MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal in a press briefing. “Priority will be given to departure flights, so that the NAIA ramps may be cleared of planes parked there since last night. Second priority will be given to regular scheduled flights for today. This arrangement will also give both MIAA and CAAP better capability to allocate slots,” said Monreal. CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco cautioned airlines to take into consideration the possible presence of ash clouds as monitored by the Volcanic Advisory of Japan. Monreal, on the other hand, informed airline operators that there are still traces of ash fall on the NAIA ramps. Philippine Airlines decided to cancel several domestic flights and delayed the departure of a number of international flights scheduled Monday. Among those cancelled were flights to and from Bacolod, Cotabato, Dumaguete, Kalibo, Tagbilaran, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao and Cagayan de Oro. International flights affected were those departing to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Osaka, Tokyo, Incheon, Fukuoka, Riyadh, Toronto, Dubai, and Sydney. Cebu Pacific Air (CEB), on the other hand, said passengers scheduled to fly Monday to and from Manila may opt to forego traveling, free of charge. “Even if your flight has not been cancelled, for those flying to and from Manila, if you can or your feel like not flying today, you can most certainly manage your booking—refund, travel fund or rebook—free of charge,” said CEB spokesperson Charo Logarta-Lagamon.

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The Aviation Security Group and Police Regional Office 3 were also ordered to augment the security at Clark Airport in Pampanga after flights were diverted from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reminded local officials in the National Capital Region, Region 3, and Region 4-A (Calabarzon)—three regions affected by the eruption—to be “physically present” in their respective LGUs and immediately convene their respective local disaster risk reduction and management councils to ensure immediate and timely disaster response. Año urged the public to donate clean drinking water, food, emergency medicines and other basic essentials for use by the evacuees. Donations may be coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development or directly to the local government units. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on Monday deployed 30 rescue and relief personnel to Batangas in response to the provincial government’s request for assistance, said Michael Salalima, head of the MMDA Public Safety Office. The MMDA also dispatched three military trucks, three ambulances, two fire trucks, 10 portable water purifiers, selfcontained breathing apparatus, compressors and refiller. “Two MMDA trucks going in now to assist evacuees. Another team is going to evacuation centers to setup water purification and other hardware,” he said. Since Sunday, the MMDA has been coordinating closely with Batangas and Cavite Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office. The regional health director for Calabarzon, meanwhile, reminded residents suffering from emphysema or asthma, oe bronchitis who were exposed to ash fall to seek medical attention immediately to avoid further health complications. Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo noted that volcanic ash fall is one of the major health hazards brought about by a volcanic eruption. With Benjamin

Chavez and PNA

Duterte... From A1

with government officials on the recommended maximum retail prices of medicines. The group made the statement after citing the P11 billion in losses supposedly incurred by the pharmaceutical industry. “We hope we can explain our side before the government makes a decision on the proposed MRP,” said PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla. The proposed list by the Health department covers medicines for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases and major cancers. It also covers the high cost of treatments for chronic renal disease, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. “That’s good for the Filipino, reduced prices or maintaining a price,” Duterte said. But he said said he had yet to see a copy of the draft executive order that was still being studied by government agencies. “Maybe they are reviewing it. If it’s on my table, I will read it at night, he said. The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines has opposed the proposal, saying that price caps will affect small retailers. Ash fall caused President Rodrigo Duterte from flying to Manila Sunday night. He landed safely at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Monday morning—his aircraft the first to land in the airport, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters. Batangas declared a state of calamity on Monday after volcanic activity forced the cancellation of classes and sent thousands to evacuation centers. Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste said the provincial council approved the declaration, which will allow the local government to use emergency funds and freeze prices of basic goods. With Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, Senator Richard Gordon renewed his call to residents in the danger zone to move to safer areas. “Those who are living in the danger areas should evacuate to safer grounds immediately. Bring animals and livestock to designated evacuation areas. Follow any evacuation orders issued by authorities and put your emergency plan into action. It is also very important to monitor what is happening by listening to a local station on a portable, battery operated radio or television for updated emergency information and instructions,” he said. Gordon, also chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), activated PRC assistance teams, deploying staff and volunteers as well as response equipment and vehicles to Batangas and Cavite. He also placed on alert all PRC chapters in the Calabarzon as well as in the National Capital Region. To ensure the health and safety of workers as a result of Taal Volcano’s eruption, Senator Joel Villanueva called on the Department of Labor and Employment to issue an advisory on work in the areas of Region 4-A, especially in Batangas.




TUCP slams Kuwait’s fake autopsy report on OFW’s death

‘Gov’t won’t force water firms to accept new contract’

By Vito Barcelo

By Rey E. Requejo

LABOR group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) strongly condemned the ‘fake’ autopsy report submitted by the Kuwaiti government after the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) autopsy report showed that slain domestic helper Jeanelyn Villavende was raped and brutally murdered. In a statement, the TUCP said that the attempt to whitewash the brutal murder of Villavende through the autopsy report submitted to the government’s Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) became apparent after NBI found out that her death is not merely due to physical injuries as indicated in the Kuwaiti official autopsy report but due to grave injuries and brutal sexual abuse. “We strongly condemn this socalled fake autopsy report submitted by the Kuwaiti to the Philippine government. This is completely a willful dishonest attempt of the Kuwaiti government to cover up the heinous crime committed by the Kuwaiti national principal suspects and whitewash the gruesome act of inhumanity,” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said. “The Filipino people and the overseas Filipino workers in particularly are demanding the Philippine government to make a strong response and condemn this unacceptable act of bad faith on the part of the Kuwaiti government,” Mendoza said. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Overseas Foreign Workers Affairs wants investigate the circumstances that led to Jeanelyn’s death and how these can help improve the current policy of the government and strengthen the government processes and mechanisms in providing care and assistance to OFWs particularly who are in distressed.

ON TO SAFER GROUNDS. Residents aboard a government truck evacuate to a safer place after Taal volcano began spewing ash

over Tanauan town, Batangas province south of Manila on January 13, 2020. - Lava and broad columns of ash illuminated by lightning shot from an erupting volcano south of the Philippine capital on January 13, grounding hundreds of flights amid an alert for a possible “explosive eruption”. AFP

Most Pinoys say abuses present in drug war—SWS By MJ Blancaflor


AJORITY of Filipinos believe that there have been many human rights abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign, even as they said the number of drug dependents has declined since the Chief Executive took office, a Social Weather Stations survey revealed Monday.

The polling firm said 76 percent of respondents believe there have been many human rights abuses in the administration’s war on illegal drugs while 24 percent said there have been few—a result which Malacañang called “unsurprising.” “The administration’s war on drugs has been demonized by the relentless disinformation launched by President’s

vocal critics and the political opposition at its inception and not without the cooperation of some shameless media outlets,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said. Of 1,200 respondents, 56 percent agreed with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s move to investigate the alleged killings committed during the war on

‘2M jobless workers welcome New Year’ By Maricel V. Cruz AT LEAST two million workers lost their jobs at the start of the new year. House Deputy Minority Leader and Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose Singson Jr. said the workers who were rendered jobless were mostly temporary help who were hired to augment the manpower needs of various companies during the Christmas holidays. Singson is the author of House Bill (HB) 4802 or the measure that proposes to extend the current six-month probationary period of workers to twenty-four months, “I have been pilloried, subjected to personal attacks and heavily criticized, mostly from progressive-minded labor groups because of my bill. But look, there is now this very sad reality that after the new year’s revelry, more or less two million workers no longer have their jobs and it’s job hunting season anew for them,” Singson said. Singson said a major labor union admitted that those terminated after the holidays were employed for only one month. The Alliance of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), one of the critics of HB 4802, noted the

“upsurge trend” in the hiring of temporary workers. ALU-TUCP earlier said around 1.5 million and 2 million contractual and seasonal workers were hired, supposedly to beef up the mix of contractual and regular workforce of businesses during the yuletide season. The labor group even recognized that the said massive hiring happened between December and January and according to them, is allowed under the law. Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP spokesperson, added that they noticed the upsurge trend for cheap skilled and unskilled seasonal, temporary and on-call workers in the labor market in time for Christmas and New Year. This admission of ALU-TUCP, Singson said, only confirms his position that there is a “vicious cycle” wherein workers or employees are being hired, but are also being terminated even before the end of their supposed sixmonth probation. “This is a clear validation for the foundation of my advocacy to extend the prescribed period of probation which aims to solve of the vicious cycle of massive termination before the six-month period lapses,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.

Workers’ pay hike too little, too late—solon AN OPPOSITION leader of the House of Representatives on Saturday said the salary increase given to government under the recently signed Salary Standardization Law V as personnel a mere “scanty increase which will eventually be eaten up by the rising prices of basic goods.” “President Duterte can now add the salary increase for teachers and other government employees on his list of failed promises. He promised to grant teachers and other government employees a substantial salary increase, yet this Salary Standardization Law V only provides a measly increase divided in four tranches,” Deputy Minority Leader France Castro said. She said the Salary Standardization Law V downgrades the condition of public school teachers. Their salaries had been overrun compared to the salaries of police and soldiers, she added. “It is still inequitable and distorted as those in the rank and file positions will still receive a small increase in their actual take-home pay compared to those under executive positions “ Castro said. She said the signed Salary Standardization

Law of 2019 will only increase salaries of those under Salary Grade 1 by P483 in 2020, a P16 per day increase in the first tranche of implementation. Entry level teachers under Salary Grade 11 would only receive an increase of P1,562 in 2020, an additional of only P52 per day, Castro said. In addition, Castro said the salary increase came only on the second year of the implementation of the TRAIN Law, that caused the price of prime commodities soar to new heights. “This is far from what our teachers and other government employees have been demanding from the government. The Duterte administration cannot state that their wishes have been granted in this newly signed law. Public school teachers and other government employees do not deserve a measly increase in their salaries that will only be eaten up by the increasing prices in goods and income tax due to the TRAIN Law.” Due to the SSL-V Law. Castro said: “Most public school teachers will also now have to pay income taxes compared to being exempted last 2019 while others would have an increase in their income taxes.” Maricel V. Cruz

illegal drugs, while 20 percent disagreed. Twenty-four percent were ambivalent with the UNHRC probe, giving +36 or “very strong” net agreement score. The question on UNHRC’s role stemmed from the Iceland-initiated Resolution adopted by the council in July 2019 which urges the Philippine government to carry out impartial investigations and hold perpetrators responsible. Over 6,700 drug suspects have been killed since the drug war started in July 2016, according to government data. Panelo urged the victims of alleged abuses to file complaints against erring authorities “so that justice will be served.” Last week, a separate SWS survey revealed that 78 percent of Filipinos believed that there were “ninja cops” in the police force, who were supposedly involved in the reselling of illegal drugs that were confiscated during operations.

THE Department of Justice on Monday debunked the insinuation of opposition Senator Francis Pangillinan that the government will force water concessionaires to accept the new contracts sans the so-called “onerous” and “highly disadvantageous provisions.” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured that concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water will be given ample opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments in the water concession agreements which are intended to protect the consuming public from the “profit-seeking capitalists.” “These proposed new contracts will not be absolutely imposed upon the water concessionaires, as they will be given a reasonable opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments in an open and public discussion of the issues,” Guevarra said, in a text message. “These proposed new contracts intend to remove all illegal provisions and foster greater transparency and equitability in rate-setting, and should therefore provide a more stable and comfortable environment for investors,” he added. Guevarra said that “it is the consuming public, not the profitseeking capitalists, who need more protect by the government.” Nonetheless, Guevarra emphasized that the government takeover or nationalization of water distribution as mandated by the 1987 Constitution is the state’s last option, should the proposed amendments to the concession agreements will not be accepted by Maynilad and Manila Water. “Government takeover or nationalization of water distribution, as authorized under Sections 17 and 18, Article XII of the Philippine Constitution, is the government’s last option,” the DOJ chief said.




Nation-builders, heroes and patriots (Part 2) (Continued from Saturday) BOBBY Ongpin was my student when I was teaching at Ateneo de Manila. I followed my dutiful student’s career to becoming an international businessman. Bobby specialized in high-end property development, having made Balesin Island the number one membership club off Quezon province. One only has to take a 20-minute plane ride to savor Balesin Island Club with all its replicas of international tourist destinations. I have been to Balesin Island myself when it was still owned by my good friend, Eddie Tordesillas, who got it from another good friend of mine, Baby Ysmael. After Bobby acquired the island, he made it into a paradise complete with all the amenities you can think of. Bobby also bought a portion of Patnanugan Island where he is building a runway for jumbo jets for Balesin’s guests. There will also be a beach hotel. Since Patnanugan Island is not too far from Balesin, Bobby has bought a jet ferry for the guests. Santa Banana, after making Balesin Island Club an international name, Bobby went on to build Makati Place at the end of Ayala Avenue. It houses the Alphaland City Club, the biggest and best leisure and business club in Metro Manila! At Makati Place, Bobby also put up Alphaland Suites, a residential hotel, which surveys say is the best in Metro Manila and Luzon. Bobby has indeed outdone himself. City Club has nine restaurants, a swimming pool, a basketball court and a tennis court. The well-known Aegle Wellness Center is also there. My gulay, not content with all these, Bobby has also built Baguio’s Mountain Lodges, which residents love to call the Forbes Park of Baguio. Last time I saw the place which used to be Bobby’s retreat, I was amazed at what was there.

The place is surrounded by an eight-foothigh perimeter fence for security. It also has a chapel and a gym. Bobby has given some space, rent-free, to Baguio’s well-known restaurants. It is just a 15-minute ride from the city – and on a well-paved road. Sometimes I ask myself: What will Bobby think of next? *** And then there is the Consunji family. The late David Consunji is definitely on my list of nation-builders, heroes and patriots. I knew Consunji personally, having covered him when he was Secretary of Public Works and Highways. I also know his son, who took over the group after the death of his father.

Here are more of these exemplary individuals. Consunji put up so many condominicondomini um buildings around Metro Manila. He was also in mining and water concession. Another on my list is Manny V. Pangilinan. MVP started with the country’s first investment bank, Bancom, and was assigned to Jakarta, Indonesia to head a branch there. There, he befriended Salim, a crony of Suharto. After the downfall of Suharto, the Salim family put up the First Pacific Group. Knowing Philippine business, MVP also put up Metro Pacific, and acquired PLDT from the Cojuangcos and Yuchengcos. He even went into infrastructure—NLEX and SLEX—and into water distribution as well as power distribution. He is a good man who truly loves his country. *** I am putting the Ayalas – Jaime and Fernando—alongside MVP because they are also water concessionaires. They have been the targets of President Duterte’s tirades, and been called oli-

Adelle Chua, Editor


A total and permanent ban


AST week, we had argued in favor of a total deployment ban in Kuwait, after a Filipino domestic was beaten to death, purportedly by her employer, despite an agreement with the Gulf state in 2018 to protect our nationals working there as household help. This week, that argument was bolstered by the revelation that Kuwait authorities had sent a “fake and dishonest” autopsy result for Jeanalyn Villavende, 26, who died at the hands of her Kuwaiti employers in December 2019. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III called for a permanent deployment ban of Filipino migrant workers after Kuwaiti forensic doctors sent a two-sentence report of the autopsy that concluded that the Filipina worker died of “physical injuries.” Bello, who visited Villavende’s wake in Norala town, South Cotabato, said he ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own autopsy, because he found the report sent by the Kuwaiti government to be made up of lies and “worthless.”

Because of this, Bello said he would recommend to the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to impose a deployment ban of household service workers to Kuwait. “We will send nobody there. These Kuwaitis are worthless. Look at what they did to our fellow Filipino,” Bello said in Filipino. ““We will not allow injustice [to] done to our [workers.] We will see to it that the culprits will answer for their crimes.” Making matters worse, the NBI autopsy report said there were signs that Villavende was sexually violated before she was killed. Philippine officials earlier said the suspect was already in custody, but fears persist that a whitewash will ensue, since Villavende’s em-

ployer works for the Kuwait Interior Department. In February 2018, the Philippines imposed a total deployment ban on Kuwait after the body of Joanna Demafelis was found inside a freezer—killed by her employers. The ban was lifted three months later, in May 2018, after Manila and Kuwait signed an agreement on the protection of Filipino workers in the Gulf state. Now, almost two years later, we learn that certain provisions of that agreement have still not been carried out, primarily because of the Kuwaitis. It is also becoming painfully apparent that the 2018 agreement did nothing to keep Villavende safe—and alive. When there is a world to consider, why should we continue sending our workers to a state that cannot keep them safe? We agree with Secretary Bello that we should impose a total and permanent ban to deployment to Kuwait—and say good riddance to abusive employers.

Turn to A5

Leonen on academic freedom

ASSOCIATE Justice Marvic Leonen concurred and dissented with the ruling by the majority in the case of Pimentel vs. Legal Education Board. In essence, he opines that the provisions permitting the Legal Education Board to conduct the Philippine Law School Admission Test are unconstitutional for violating academic freedom of law schools. He reasons that the State has no business in deciding and substituting its judgment for the academic institutions. PhilSat is therefore an unwarranted intrusion on this essential freedom of law schools as to who to admit. Further, Leonen believes that the existence of the Legal Education Board interferes with respect to the right of academic institutions on how to teach and who to teach. As is characteristic of him, Leonen, in a most scholarly manner, draws attention to the meaning of academic freedom by tracing the jurisprudential history of academic freedom, citing certain relevant Philippine cases including Garcia v. Faculty Admission Committee where the Court recognized academic freedom as an institutional facet, not solely confined to individual academic freedom or the right of faculty members to pursue their studies without fear or reprisal. In the cases of Miriam College, Foundation and Angeles v. Sison and Cudia v. Superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy, as cited in the separate opinion, the Court further amplified the scope of academic freedom by upholding the right of institutions to discipline its students. Leonen also makes reference to Villar v. TIP which sets a limit on the discretion of academic institutions to discipline their students. He further clarifies that academic institution’s discretion applies not only to the admission and dismissal of its students, but also to its decision to confer academic recognition. Justice Leonen concurs with the majority that PhilSat is unconstitutional insofar as it prescribes a passing score that must

be followed by law schools. Agreeing with the majority, he is of the opinion that the PhilSat employs a “totalitarian scheme” which usurps the right of law schools to determine their admission requirements. However, Leonen disagrees with the majority ruling that it is unconstitutional only insofar as it is a mandatory requirement for the law schools’ admission processes. Here, he detracts therefrom by saying that any national admission test, even when not mandatory, is still an infringement into academic freedom. In support of this view, he argues that academic freedom is intertwined with academic liberty; and as such, the institution’s and individuals’ right to pursue learning must be “free from internal and external interference.”

Society would be much better if a court adopts his views. A State-sponsored examination like PhilSat runs afoul of academic freedom. Standards for choosing who to admit must be divorced from the standards for maintaining or ensuring the quality of education. The view, according to him, that changing the admissions policy will improve the quality of education is simply a non-sequitur. Besides the members of the LEB, being government appointees, are prone to influence by the appointing authority, consequently undermining the academe’s most significant role to inquire into the truth, to powerfully disseminate this truth, and to speak this truth. The State’s intrusion, in whatever way or form, stifles the ability of academic institutions to be critical. Further, Leonen points out that the creation of PhilSat was not based on scientific research and that the State does not give justification for its conduct other than that it copied the Law Admission Test administered in the United States. There was no showing how the PhilSat as copied from a foreign country could be applicable, or even relevant to the Philippines. Making reference to U.S. Court decisions, Leonen Turn to A5

A looming water crisis

WE’VE written about it in past columns, and we’re focusing on it once again to emphasize its importance. With the national government focusing on alleged onerous contracts entered into by the two water concessionaires in Metro Manila, it appears to be a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, with the bigger—and more serious problem—of putting in place an alternative water source for 16.5 million city residents relegated to the background. Here’s what we have gathered on this issue. Angat Dam alone supplies 97percent of the water needs of Metro Manila. With the exponential growth of the urban population, so have their water needs expanded. Along with this, climate change and global warming have led to erratic weather patterns, including unpredictable rainfall. Insufficient rainfall led to last summer’s water supply disruptions

The two water concessionaires are taking proactive measures to mitigate water supply reduction. and rationing. The water supply problem is not new. decIt was in 1997, or more than two dec ades ago, that the Ramos administration deemed it necessary to conclude concession agreements with Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water to deal with dwindling water supply. As far back as the Marcos era in the 1970s, the national government had already drawn up plans to find an alternative source to meet the demands of a growing urban population, but these were not implemented for one reason or another. We understand that Angat Dam’s maximum supply capacity is 4,000 million liters per day. Maynilad and Manila Water both rely on whatever water volume from

the dam that can be supplied to them by the Metropolitan Waterworks and SewerSewer age System (MWSS), which is dependent on whatever volume is released to it on a daily basis by the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). The two concessionaires also draw water from Laguna de Bay and during emergencies are allowed by the NWRB to extract water from deep wells. But the combined volume obtained from these extra sources is minimal and cannot offoff set any major supply deficit from Angat Dam. The MWSS has admitted that the government is partly to blame for last summer’s water shortage because of its failure to do what had been planned in the 1970s yet, which was to build an alternative reservoir to augment Angat Dam’s supply. Hence, President Duterte now wants the government to build the Kaliwa Dam as the national capital’s alternate water supply reservoir. But it would take four to five years to build the Kaliwa Dam, which would cost P12.2 billion. In other words, Metro Manila’s water crisis would get worse before relief comes only after six years. Recently, the MWSS revealed Angat Turn to A5

Rolando G. Estabillo Publisher ManilaStandard

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Delivering the goods LONG-TIME Filipino delivery firm JRS Express has expressed concern over the proliferation of unlicensed couriers in the country, which have grabbed a big chunk of the market from duly licensed freight companies. JRS claims that the so-called “colorum” players do not follow industry standards as well as standard operating procedures. “If our government allows colorum couriers to enter our industry, the level of industry will go down. They just came in and operated without regard for the industry,” JRS administrative officer John Paul Claparols said. During the budget hearings last year, Rep. Lito Atienza made public the proliferation of big-time couriers operating all over the country with no license. These reportedly unlicensed companies include J&T Express, NinjaVan and Entrego. Before Christmas, the DICT had released a new list of accredited couriers, which did include J&T Express. However, the company’s license to operate is limited to Metro Manila, although J&T is reportedly already operating all over the country. If this is true, how can government issue a license to a company found to have earlier been operating illegally? As for NinjaVan, its SEC Articles of Incorporation disclose that its primary purpose of doing business in the Philippines is not courier services, but merely providing software applications to smartphones and other devices. Moreover, its papers disclose its 99 percent ownership by a Singaporean national. Rep. Atienza says that other similar courier companies are also foreign-owned. This would violate the 6040 rule on ownership of public service, convenience, and logistics companies as mandated by the 1987 Constitution. DICT is the only agency tasked to regulate and control courier services. So far, all it has done is to issue a general warning to the public not to make use of unlicensed couriers. The agency merely called on the general public, retailers, and business establishments to avail of the services of the Philippine Postal Corp. or of private express and messenger delivery service operators authorized by the

DICT as listed in its website. Evidently, the agency should do more. If Atienza’s statements are true, then an investigation into the operations of unlicensed companies may be warranted. This should also look into how they were able to obtain contracts from major online retailers to deliver goods all over the country. These retailers may need to start worrying about possible issues in dealing with unlicensed couriers. Are they paying the right taxes? What happens if their workers get into accidents? How will grievances or complaints lodged against these courier services be addressed or resolved? This is basic due diligence and risk management in delivering those goods. ***

Unlicensed couriers in the country have grabbed a big chunk of the market from duly licensed freight companies. Over on the government side, a lot of promising news lately from where Duterte’s infrastructure boys have also been busy delivering the goods: The indigenous tribes who’ll be affected by the proposed Kaliwa Dam in Quezon have agreed to go along with the project. There’s only a few thousand of them, so their compensation and resettlement should be fairly easy to handle. Perhaps they took the hint from Duterte’s threat to ignore any TROs that might be issued to block this vitally important, multi-billion peso addition to the wholesale water resources of millions of Metro Manila residents and surrounding provinces. Up in Baguio, the new mayor and former Army general Benjie Magalong seems bent on taking up San Miguel’s proposal to rehabilitate the long-shuttered Loakan Airport and reopen it as early as this mid-year. He’s also considering a couple of offers to build a cable car system connecting the summer capital to lowland points north and south. Let’s hope that the pretty obvious safety risks are not ignored as the city proceeds

to diversify its gateways to visitor traffic. The issue of safety risks naturally comes up when we consider the endemic problem of corruption in the construction of the country’s infrastructure. Think tank Reid Corporation surveyed the industry and came up with an estimate of 15-35 percent of project costs being lost to corruption. We hope that DTI Secretary Mon Lopez, whose agency oversees the construction industry, will aggressively wade into this issue before we’re hit by some massive disaster caused by contractors having to take shortcuts to make up for payoffs. The longer-term solution may well have to be something like a 30-year infrastructure master plan for the entire country, to be mandated by law and requiring some minimum amount to be set aside annually for infra. This in fact is what’s been proposed by DMCI chair Sid Con Consunji, whose father ran DPWTC for sev several years under President Marcos. If the private sector will be given a meaningful role in this initiative, we may break the feast-or-famine cycle in infrastructure that depends on whoever is sitting in the Palace. *** Today’s reading (1 Sm 1: 9-20) recounts the birth of Samuel, the last of the great judges of Israel, whose lot it became to preside over the end of the period of judg judges and their replacement by a monarchy to rule Israel, as demanded by the people themselves. The second of those kings, David, established a royal line that culminated in the birth of the Christ Jesus. In the Gospel (Mk 1: 21-28), Mark writes about how Jesus, following His baptism in the Jordan river as celebrated last Sunday, began to proclaim “the kingdom of God on earth” in the hilly country of Galilee. After collecting the first four of the Disciples, He began His public ministry of preaching and healing in Capernaum, amazing people to no end: “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him!” Two kings, two beginnings. We greet the first week of Ordinary time in the Church calendar by reflecting on the life of the God-man whose birth gift of gold marked His kingship from David, frankincense His priesthood through Samuel, but myrrh His sacrificial death on the cross, His good gift delivered in turn to us. Readers can write me at

Generals’ abusive, anti-media behavior IT’S A shame that just as this administration, which I fully support, affirms its commitment to upholding press freedom, free speech and freedom of information, some Metro Manila police officials have the propensity to prove otherwise. The latest attack on the media occurred last Thursday during the height of the 2020 Traslacion of the Black Nazarene on the way back to its shrine at the Minor Basilica in Quiapo, Manila. It was one of the tense moments when the phalanx of policemen kept at bay a multitude of devotees at bay, preventing them to get near the andas. At one point, a group of policemen were dragging a male devotee. This caught the attention of broadcast journalist Jun Veneracion of GMA7, who instinctively held up his cellphone camera and recorded the ongoing incident. Just as cops pinned the defenseless man to the ground, suddenly the phone got yanked by Brig. Gen. Nolasco Bathan, chief of the Southern Police District (SPD), which covers Makati, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Taguig, and Pateros. Apparently, Bathan wanted to cover up the violent handling of the man and Veneracion did not recover his cellphone before the video was deleted. He had to introduce himself to Bathan and the police although it was obvious by the ID he was wearing that he is a mediaman.

Leonen... From A4

states categorically that the PhilSat is arbitrary and unreasonable as the government imposes a single determinant to ascertain who can pursue legal education. According to Leonen, the right to pursue legal education is within the ambit of one’s right to life and liberty; hence, enforcing an arbitrary and unreasonable measure in the law school’s admission process violates the applicant’s due process. Ultimately, he says that the right to life is intertwined with the right to pursue education. Right to life after all is not only the right to exist but also the right to achieve the “fullness of human potential.” Leonen is of the view that standardized tests are skewed in favor of well-to-do ap-

Fortunately, the intricate features of his cellphone enabled him to retrieve the video which showed the cops taking down the man to the ground. And then, the video appeared like the phone shook for a few seconds, then recorded the walking legs of what looked like a policeman’s pleated blue pants and black shoes, and then the footage turned black. The phone started recording again, showing the same police attire, and then recorded a voice: “Burahin mo, burahin mo. Kuha ni Jun Veneracion. P*tangina nagku-kwan eh.”

What is happening with our PNP officials? Bathan would later apologize pub publicly through media interviews, he was caught in the chaos and got tired and he “lost his cool.” Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año did not approve of Bathan’s abusive behavior. He should be charged with robbery even if Veneracion retrieved his cellphone after Bathan’s men deleted pictures in it. Well, proving to be as notorious as his NCRPO chief Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, former Pasay Police chief Bathan had figured in a number of controversies including the alleged torture and extra-judicial killing of drug suspects father-and-son Renato and JP Bertes inside the Pasay City Jail. He earned his stars during his stint in CALABARZON during which time plicant who have access to better education, resources and wealth. Following this line of arguments, Justice Leonen is for the scrapping of all government-sponsored standardized admission test, whether mandatory or not for infringing academic freedom. Justice Leonen’s opinion in Pimentel is the best articulation I have ever read on the value of academic freedom to society and humanity. At the beginning of his opinion, he writes eloquently about this: “Institutions of learning perform a basic function in nurturing and sharpening the people’s understanding and intellect. They ensure an educated and thriving citizenry on whom a nation’s civilization and life depend. Educations leads to an economically productive populace through learned skill. More importantly, it leads the people to think more prudently and critically. Without educational institutions, our

illegal gambling proliferated in the region, as does now in Metro Manila. The incident is the latest in a series of “anti-media” actions NCRPO officials figured in since Sinas was designated NCRPO chief by PNP Officerin-Charge General Archie Gamboa. Sinas attacked a female GMA7 television newscaster who tried to interview him during the course of the ocular at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, during preparations for the Traslacion. The TV reporter was among the group of PNP beat reporters invited to accompany ranking PNP officials to the event. The first time she tried to get a sound bite from Sinas, the official stopped her from talking by arrogant arrogantly placing his hand on her mouth and saying, “Mamaya ka na (I’ll get to you later.).” Minutes later, the reporter ap approached the official again. Instead of responding to her, the NCRPO chief went ballistic and grabbed her by the face, forcibly shoving his hand over her mouth, almost suffocating her. And then Sinas blurted, “Di ba sabi ko sa iyo mamaya na (Didn’t I tell you we’ll talk later?).” Embarrassed and humiliated, the reporter abruptly left with her crew. This has prompted widespread protests from the media sector led by the National Press Club (NPC), the oldest professional organization of journalists in the country. In a statement, NPC Vice President Paul Gutierrez condemned Sinas’ criminal behavior that constitute “abuse of a woman,” a conduct unbecoming of a public official. What is happening with our PNP officials, Sec. Ano? country will inevitably approach a shallow and dismal future. Thus the state has a paramount interest in guaranteeing that they flourish and function robustly. Part and parcel of this guarantee is to freely determine for themselves ‘their aims and objectives and how best to attain them.’” These words are so true. Indeed, Leonen’s words applies not only to law schools but all institutions of higher learning. I write this as someone who has taught for nearly 40 years, at all levels of higher education (PHD, MA, MS, LLM, JD, and AB/BS classes) and in as many as 20 schools all over the world, including more than a dozen law schools. One hopes that a future Court would adopt his views. Society would be much better if it did. Facebook: Dean Tony La Vina Twitter: tonylavs


ABS-CBN: Competition regulator’s options

ALL THE discussions thus far regarding franchise of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation – more specifically, the franchise’s approaching expiry on March 20, 2020 – have revolved around the political and legal aspects of the franchise that the network obtained almost 25 years ago. Hardly anything has been said about the economic aspect of the matter. The political aspect of the renewal or non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise can be summed up in three words: President Rodrigo Duterte. The Chief Executive of this country has stated in no uncertain terms that he will veto any bill granting a renewal of the franchise. Mr. Duterte has been forthright about his disdain for ABS-CBN. The network allegedly failed to air, during the 2016 campaign period, advertisements for which he made payment. If Mr. Duterte’s claim is true – and the Chief Executive passionately says that it is – that 2016 decision will prove to be the greatest miscalculation committed by ABS-CBN in its history. Payback time is here. The legal aspect of the renewal or non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise revolves around the Constitutional provision governing public utilities. ABSCBN falls within the Public Service Act’s definition of a public utility. Whatever the legal requirement for ABSCBN’s being able to operate beyond March 20, 2020 – whether or not Congressional action is required – there is no getting away from the fact that the President of the Philippines can disapprove or reverse a favorable action taken by any department or agency on ABS-CBN’s quest for franchise renewal. Nor is judicial action the solution; the courts cannot compel the President of the Philippines to perform an act involving Presidential discretion. As stated above, the economic aspect of the coming expiry – and renewal or non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise has undergone less public discussion than it’s political and legal aspects. Yet it is likewise an important aspect. Anyone knowledgeable about the structure of the Philippine broadcast industry knows that a key element of the resolution of the ABS-CBN issue is the competitive situation within the industry. This is not an unimportant aspect of the issue: in fact, the desire to eliminate monopolistic or oligopolistic conditions, and to level the playing field, in this country’s industries that Congress passed the Philippine Competition Act several years ago. Because of its highly capital-intensive nature, the broadcast industry is a com-

A looming... From A4

Dam’s water supply can no longer meet the demand of Metro Manila between 2020 and 2025. Hence, the urgent need to construct the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project as soon as possible. Here’s what the MWSS said: “The water demand analysis used for the planning of Kaliwa Dam showed that the water supply capacity from Angat reservoir and some other smaller sources will not be sufficient to satisfy the water demand of Metro Manila between 2020 and 2025. Taking into account a supply buffer of 15 percent, the Angat supply capacity will be insufficient before 2020. These numbers illustrate the need for a large water supply source.” “The national government’s effort to see this project implemented is clear, with only one moving vision—to increase the available drinking water to Metro Manila in the short term because of the projected supply deficit,” the agency pointed out. Before MWSS made this big revelation about inadequate water, the NWRB had already raised the possibility of continued water supply interruptions until the summer months because of the below-normal water level at Angat Dam. Despite the con-

paratively small industry. In this country the broadcasting industry is composed of four companies, to wit, ABS-CBN, GMA Network, ABC-5 Corporation and government-owned PTV-4. However, the bulk of the industry’s revenues are accounted for by ABS-CBN and GMA only, a state of affairs shown by the fact that surveys of audience size are generally undertaken only for those companies. It is not incorrect to speak of the Philippine broadcasting industry in terms of a duopoly.

The Philippine Competition Commission can either speak out, or be quiet. Ar Under the leadership of economist ArCom senio Balisacan, PCC (Philippine Competition Commission) has tried hard to fulfill its mandate, constantly looking our for threats to competition and striking down arrangements and practices that are inimical to the letter and spirit of fair competition. PCC has made its existence felt whenever unfair competition has reared its ugly head. The possible non-renewal of ABSCBN’s franchise will raise the issue of competition in the Philippine broadcasting industry. Whether or not ABS-CBN is the industry’s No. 1 – that depends on which rating company is doing the rating – the fact is that the cessation of operations of ABS-CBN will give rise to monopolistic conditions in the industry, with GMA effectively becoming a monopoly. That is hardly a situation that Dr. Balisacan and his colleagues will want. That is precisely the kind of situation that the authors of the Philippine Competition Act sought to prevent. Thus far PCC has not been heard from, but sooner or later it will have to weigh in on the ABS-CBN franchise issue. It will not be able to pretend that the issue does not exist and that there will be no corresponding impact on competitive conditions in the broadcasting industry. Given President Duterte’s resolve to not approve an extension of ABS-CBN’s franchise, PCC, being a part of the Executive Department, will not prevail. But its views on the matter will have to be heard. PCC has two options. One option is to speak out against the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise and thereby incur the ire of President Duterte, with all the dire consequences of that. The other option is to keep quiet about the matter and pretend that no competition-related problem exists. The two options are equally bad for PCC. tinuous rains last quarter, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced that Angat Dam’s water level peaked at 201.71 meters last week, or far below the ideal yearend level target of 212 meters. Due to the lower-than-expected water volume, NWRB will continue managing water releases. While the government tries to speed up the construction of Kaliwa Dam to meet Metro Manila’s water needs, the two water concessionaires are taking proactive measures to mitigate water supply reduction. For instance, Maynilad completed last year its Putatan 2 Water Treatment Plant (WTP) as well as the upgrade of its Putatan WTP 1 in Muntinlupa City. These will contribute a combined 60 MLD of water, and next month it will complete its NRW (non-revenue water) or leakage reduction program, which will add another 94 MLD. Last December, Maynilad finished reactivating deep wells to supply another 94 MLD. Apart from these, Maynilad will deploy mobile water tankers, and undertake other activities like cloud seeding and rainwater harvesting, to assist customers with their water needs. This is part of the water concessionaire’s decision to invest a total of P25 billion in non-revenue water management in the past 12 years.

Nation-builders,... From A4

garchs, saboteurs and plunderers. Actually, the problem was not exactly their fault. Was it their fault that the water level in Angat receded? Now, Duterte has told them to take it or leave it. In fairness to both concessionares, they have given up the P11-billion claim for their losses even after the arbitral tribunal in Singapore decided in their favor. They must take it, or else the government with nationalize water distribution. But my gulay, we all know what happens when government goes into business. The Ayalas made Makati City the financial hub that it is today. Andrew Gotianun is another taipan on my list. I am proud to say he is my friend. He has made property development a byword by putting up Filinvest City. The late Alfonso Yuchengco a true blooded taipan, was also my friend. He put up Great Pacific Life, a big insurance firm. I recall the time when I was president of the Business Writers’ Association of the Philippines. We named him Insurance Man of the Year. When I was business editor, I was always invited to give economic briefings to VIPs like the former Prime Minister Cesar Virata. They listened to me; whether they believed me is another story. (To be continued on Thursday)




ASHFALL BLANKET. A man walks on the grassy pathwalk near the toll gate of Eton city, helplessly covered by ash from the eruption of Taal. Manny Palmero

ANXIOUS EVACUATION. Ill at ease evacuees from Laurel, Batangas take an apprehensive ride on a six by six truck provided by Philippine Army as a forced evacuation is imposed Monday by Philvocs.

Lawmaker: New law for healthcare By Maricel V. Cruz PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law of the measure institutionalizing Malasakit Centers in hospitals run by the Department of Health (DOH) comes as good news to the public amid the results of a recent survey showing that 99 percent of Filipinos could not afford to buy prescription medicines, a House official said on Monday. Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte said institutionalizing Malasakit Centers across the country would help fulfill the President’s ultimate goal of a safe and comfortable life for every Filipino. The President last year signed Republic Act 1463—the Malasakit Center Act—that aimed to establish a one-stop-shop center for medical and financial assistance provided by the DOH, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in all 73 DOH-run hospitals nationwide. “With the signing of this new law, we call on the DOH to start setting up Malasakit Centers in state-run hospitals,” Villafuerte, principal author of this measure in the House of Representatives, said. “It can start by turning DOH-run hospitals into major outlets for cheaper medicines sold by pharmaceutical firms as a way to further widen the access of ordinary Filipinos to affordable drugs and better health care.”

SURGICAL MASKS. Pedestrians and traffic enforcers from the cities of Pasay, Manila and Makati wear surgical masks to shield them against health hazards from ash fall caused by the continuing intense unrest of Taal volcano, which remains under Alert level 4 on Monday. Ey Acasio

SC nixes PECO’s transfer move By Rey E. Requejo and Alena Flores


HE Supreme Court has junked the petition filed by old utility Panay Electric Co. (PECO) seeking to transfer outside of Iloilo City the expropriation case filed by the new distribution utility More Electric and Power Corp. (MORE). In a resolution dated Dec. 4, 2019, the SC denied the appeal by PECO to move the hearing of the expropriation case to any court in Metro Manila, or as an alternative, to consolidate it with the case pending then with the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court questioning the constitutionality of the expropriation powers given to the new utility by Congress. The Dec. 4 SC resolution came a month before the suggestion of Iloilo City Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular to the Supreme Court that the expropriation case which he was handling be transferred outside Iloilo City after he was charged with bias by officials of the new distribution utility before the Supreme Court. In its resolution, the SC rejected PECO’s premise that public scrutiny could affect the judge who handled the expropriation proceedings as not valid as “the mere possibility of prejudice is not sufficient to justify a transfer of venue, as aptly argue(d) by respondent MORE.” The tribunal also said that PECO failed to present “adequate proof that the accompanying publicity may cause prejudice to it.” Besides, the SC stressed that PECO also “failed to prove that a miscarriage

of justice would arise in the event of that the subject case continues to be heard in the RTC of Iloilo City.” The Supreme Court also said that “to the argument that there is a possibility that the two co-equal courts (Iloilo City and Mandaluyong City RTCs) would render conflicting decisions, the same had been rendered moot and academic by the fact that the Mandaluyong RTC has already rendered its judgment” which is now pending review by the Supreme Court on petition of MORE. Reacting to the SC decision, MORE President Roel Castro said “the SC order denying the petition of PECO to transfer venue of the case is self-explanatory. Anyone who reads it will understand the meaning of it.” The SC resolution arose from PECO’s opposition to the expropriation proceedings initiated by MORE with the Iloilo City RTC in March 2019 as the new utility invoked Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 to expropriate the distribution assets of PECO in exchange for about P500 million in line with its 25year congressional franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City. The Dec. 4 resolution comes a day after a December 3, 2019 resolution by the High Court imposing a Temporary Restraining Order against the Mandalu-

yong Regional Trial Court and PECO from implementing the lower court’s decision declaring Sections 10 and 17 of Republic Act No. 11212 as unconstitutional. Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 granted More Electric and Power Corp. (MORE) as the new distribution utility in Iloilo City the powers of eminent domain and to expropriate any asset, including existing distribution assets in the city. MORE had secured the franchise after both chambers of Congress ignored PECO’s application to renew its franchise which expired last January 18, 2019. Earlier, PECO had filed a petition with the Mandaluyong RTC questioning the constitutionality of Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212. Unable to convince Iloilo City RTC Judge Marie Yvette D. Go to stop the expropriation proceedings because of its petition with the Mandaluyong RTC, PECO petitioned the SC to transfer the case to another court in Metro Manila or to consolidate it with the case pending then with the Mandaluyong RTC. Judge Go subsequently issued in August last year an order for the issuance of a Writ of Possession (WOP) for PECO’s distribution assets, but she inhibited herself from the case right after issuing the order. In the re-raffle of the case, Judge Amular took over and immediately ordered a gag on all parties involved while ignoring Judge Go’s order for the issuance of a WOP and announcing his own plans to conduct further hearings. On Nov. 28 last year, Judge Amular suspended the expropriation proceedings citing the Mandaluyong

Lawyers group introduces mobile app parking for all vehicles By Rio N. Araja TO HELP solve illegal parking problem in Metro Manila, the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP) is introducing a mobile app parking for both private motorists and public utility vehicle drivers. At a news conference in Quezon City, Ariel Inton, LCSP founding chairperson, said he had the chance to meet with Dibz chief executive officer and cofounder Donald Saurombe, and brought

out the idea of a possibility of a partnership with private individuals allowing private car owners, and PUV drivers as well as their operators to use their parking slots while they are at work, in school or away. “We are now launching the ‘hasslefree’ Dibz mobile app parking, wherein a motorist or driver can be allowed to park in one’s parking slot. All you have to do is to download the application so you can start to book if there is a need for you to park somewhere in the (ini-

tial) pilot areas (Makati City and Quezon City),” he told the Manila Standard. The mobile app parking service is also offering valet parking, wherein an accredited valet driver would meet the client and drive his or her car to a parking area just meters away the client’s place, and would see the client again to return his or her vehicle. “Instead of illegal parking on the street, just book and we will find an accredited parking lot for you,” Inton said. The new parking scheme would not

only help fix illegal parking woes, but would also help others earn an extra income for allowing the use of their spaces, he said. He, however, lamented that “many PUV operators could get away with their ill motive in presenting fake land titles just to impress the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board that they are compliant with the no-garage no-vehicle policy.” “Through Dibz mobile parking, we could help stop such fraud,” he said.

3 suspected ring victims held at NAIA By Vito Barcelo IMMIGRATION officers intercepted three women at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) who were believed to be victims of human trafficking syndicate when they tried to leave for Hong Kong to work as bar girls. The Bureau of Immigration’s -travel control and enforcement unit (BI-TCEU) said the passengers were intercepted at the NAIA 1 terminal as they were about to board a Hongkong Airlines flight. They attempted to leave in the guise of being tourists but the immigration officers who processed them noted numerous inconsistencies in their statements, and referred them for secondary inspection. The three women initially presented fake tickets, and posed as employees of a travel agency, the BI said. “It was during the interview that they admitted they were going to work in Hongkong and that they were promised salaries of 500 Hongkong dollars a day,” said BITCEU head Ma. Timotea Barizo. Barizo said women hired as club entertainers abroad were prone to become victims of human trafficking as there have been reports that many of them are eventually forced into prostitution. “We have rescued these women from harm’s way,” Barizo added. It was learned that the women were recruited by a female agent whom they only met via Facebook. They admitted paying P15,000 for their plane tickets but the cost of processing their travel documents was shouldered by their recruiter whom they will pay through salary deduction. “This is a trick being used by human traffickers. They usually fall in debt from recruiters. They have no choice but to work long hours, only to pay off their so-called debt,” she said.

Sports PH Golf Tour calls off Eagle Ridge meet as Taal erupts THE organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. yesterday called off the last two legs of the third season of PGT (Philippine Golf Tour) Asia at Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club, citing the health and safety of the players, caddies and tournament staff following Taal Volcano’s eruption last Sunday. “In the interest of the health and safety of all players, caddies and tournament staff, the PGTA Tournament Committee has decided to reschedule this event to a future date,” said the PGTI in a statement. Taal Volcano spewed a giant ash plume accompanied by rumbling sounds and tremors Sunday, prompting authorities to raise the Alert Level to 4, meaning a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days. The $100,000 ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational, originally scheduled to start today (Tuesday, Jan. 14) at Aoki course, serves as the penultimate leg of the 2019 PGT Asia with the last tournament for the season set next week, also at Eagle Ridge, which is just 20 kms away from Taal Volcano in Talisay, Batangas. The tournament features 91 players, including 46 bets from 14 nations. DOST-Phivolcs (Dept. of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) has reiterated total evacuation of Taal Volcano island and additional evacuation of areas at high risk to pyroclastic density currents within 14-km radius from the Taal main crater. Eagle Ridge general manager Antonio Ocampo actually said the sprawling ERGCC, which boasts of four courses, is in shape despite the ashfall late Sunday and is ready to host the event. In fact, it was business as usual at the country’s largest golfing facility yesterday with hundreds, mostly foreign golfers, playing a round or two. But PGTI has put premium on the safety of the participants. It said next week’s scheduled event will now be held at Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga with this week’s tournament to be moved to a later date and a venue somewhere in north.



Mahomes fuels Chiefs’ fightback L

OS ANGELES—Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, two of the NFL’s top-rated quarterbacks, moved closer to a potential Super Bowl clash with home playoff victories on Sunday

Mahomes threw for five touchdowns as the Chiefs overturned a 24-point deficit to defeat the Houston Texans 51-31 in a thrilling postseason duel. Mahomes finished with 321 passing yards from 23 of 35 attempts at Arrowhead Stadium to send the Chiefs into a home AFC Championship showdown against the Tennessee Titans next weekend for a place in the Super Bowl. “We didn’t start the way we wanted to,” Mahomes said. “All we were preaching was, ‘Let’s do something special. “’Everyone is counting us out, let’s just keep fighting, one play at a time.’” Rodgers completed 16-of-27 passes for 243 yards and Davante Adams made eight catches for a club playoff record 160 yards as the Packers pulled out a 28-

23 triumph over the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers will travel to California to battle the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday in the NFC Championship. “I am going to enjoy a nice glass of Scotch tonight,” said Rodgers. “Then get onto the film of San Francisco and get ready for a tough opponent.” The 49ers walloped the Packers 37-8 at home on November 24. Next Sunday’s winners will meet in next month’s Super Bowl 54 at Miami. Texans coach Bill O’Brien said his team had not taken anything for granted after racing to an early 24-0 lead. “24-0 was a really good lead, no doubt about it,” O’Brien said. “But I don’t think any lead is safe versus these guys. We needed to score 50

points and we weren’t able to do that.” Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, finished with 388 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort. Chiefs down big early The Chiefs were given an almighty scare after a disastrous start. An error-strewn opening spell saw the Texans score unanswered touchdowns from Kenny Stills, Lonnie Johnson and Darren Fells to move into a 21-point lead. But with the Chiefs reeling, the Texans gave the hosts respite from the onslaught early in the second quarter with Houston coach Bill O’Brien opting for a field goal on fourth down and 1 from 31 yards. Ka’imi Fairbairn drilled the kick to put Houston into a 24-0 lead. But momentum shifted on the ensuing kickoff when Mecole Hardman returned 58 yards to the Houston 42-yard line. Two plays later, Mahomes hit Damien Williams from 17 yards to make it 24-7 and put the Chiefs on the board. The Chiefs stopped Houston on a fake

Picson, Lacuna to grace Forum

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles against the defense of Whitney Mercilus of the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. AFP


Badminton no. 1 hurt, driver killed in crash

The year 2020 marks a significant year for the Tour as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary race since the staging of the inaugural 2.6-ranked edition in 1996. LTdL 2020 is now graded as a UCI-Pro Series race, just a notch below the World Tour Series (Grand Tour - Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta Espana), UCI Classics Series and other UCI WorldTour races. The 8-stage race starts at Padang Merdeka in Kuching on Feb. 7, 2020 and ends in Kuah, Langkawi on Feb. 14, 2020. Kota Kinabalu will host the Team Presentation ceremony on Feb. 5 followed by the Criterium International race, to be staged in the heart of the city on Feb. 6 in conjunction with the silver jubilee celebration. The Criterium International is scheduled over a distance of 95.2km, providing great opportunities for Under-23 Malaysian and ASEAN riders to compete against UCI elite and professional cyclists in a highly competitive atmosphere. From Kota Kinabalu, the entourage then moves to Kuching for Stage 1 which starts and finish at Padang Merdeka. Upon the completion of Stage 1, the race entourage heads for Kuala Terengganu via flight for Stage 2 the following day. The 25th-anniversary celebration will conclude with the one-day Malaysia Classic race, dubbed the “Race of the Champions” on 15 February in Langkawi which features national champions from all over the world. According to Datuk Ahmad, Sabah and Sarawak stand to gain immensely with the staging of the race in both states following the strong presence of foreign teams, riders and officials and international media corps from all over the world. “Over the one-week period, the race entourage which includes international television and media will converge in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. It will indeed derive economic benefits as well as worldwide media exposure. This certainly augurs well not only for the promotion of sports and cycling in the states but help project and feature the unique culture and great attractions both states have to offer,” said Datuk Ahmad Mustafa. AFP

KUALA LUMPUR—Badminton world number one Kento Momota was injured and his driver was killed in a crash near Kuala Lumpur on Monday just hours after he won the Malaysia Masters. Police said the Japanese star, 25, suffered a broken nose and cuts to his face when the van carrying him to the city’s airport crashed early in the morning, in a blow to his preparations for this year’s Tokyo Olympics. The driver was killed at the scene after the vehicle collided with a slow-moving lorry on a highway. An assistant coach, physiotherapist, and badminton official also suffered minor injuries. The accident came after the dominant Japanese star began his 2020 season in style Sunday with victory over Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in Kuala Lumpur. “It’s truly tragic, especially involving a badminton icon like Momota,” Malaysian sports minister Syed Saddiq told reporters, after visiting the injured in hospital south of the capital. But he added those hurt were “recover-

From A8

punt on the next series and Mahomes took advantage, finding tight end Travis Kelce from five yards for a touchdown. “We had momentum at that point and it felt like we were going to try and make a play,” O’Brien said. “It just didn’t work.” DeAndre Carter fumbled away the kickoff, allowing the Chiefs to recover at the Houston six. Mahomes hit Kelce for another touchdown three plays later and then drove the Chiefs 90 yards to set up another touchdown to Kelce for a 28-24 half-time lead. Williams ran for two touchdowns to give Kansas City a 41-24 lead. Watson rushed for a five-yard touchdown to put the Texans back to within 10 but the Chiefs added another touchdown followed by a field goal to extend their lead at 51-21. Packers hang on at home At Green Bay, Aaron Jones ran 21 times for 62 yards, including two oneyard touchdowns and the Packers took a 21-3 half-time lead then held on in the fourth quarter. AFP

ing well, (and) all four are also in stable condition”. The others hurt suffered facial, leg, hand and head injuries, according to the police. The Badminton Association of Malaysia said in a statement they were “saddened” by the crash. The accident happened around 4:40 am (2040 GMT Sunday), and 10 firefighters rushed to the scene, senior fire and rescue department official Norazam Khamis told AFP. The injured “were able to walk out of the van by themselves with some scratches”, he added. Pictures showed the front of the van crushed against a lorry but the back section appeared intact. Momota enjoyed a stellar 2019, winning a record 11 titles including the World Championships, Asia Championships and All England Open, a turnaround for a player who had been banned for gambling in 2016. This means he won more tournaments in a season that any other men’s player,

including Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and Chinese great Lin Dan. There is only one major individual title missing from the Japanese player’s trophy haul—Olympic gold. AFP

Kento Momota

THE Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines and one of the five newly-elected members of the 2nd Philippine Olympic Committee athletes’ commission make up Tuesday’s lively discussion in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel Manila. ABAP Secretary-General Ed Picson is going to talk about the national boxing team’s campaign in the various qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 10 a.m. public sports program presented by San Miguel Corp., Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. Meanwhile, Olympian swimmer Jesse Lacuna will represent the Athletes’ Commission in the weekly session as he discusses the upcoming plans and projects of the group. Lacuna was voted to the commission along with Nikko Huelgas, Cheska Altomonte, Jake Letts, and Samuel Morrison. The PSA Forum is livestreamed via the PSA Facebook page PhilippineSportswritersAssociation and aired on a delayed basis over Radyo Pilipinas 2 from 1 to 2 p.m. and later at 6:30 p.m. PSA members are enjoined to attend the session.

MPBL cancels Marikina games IN view of the prevailing situation brought about by the Taal eruption, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League canceled its scheduled Chooks-to-Go/ MPBL Lakan Season games on Monday at Marikina Sports Center. Affected by the ashfall prevailing in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Metro Manila and nearby provinces were the games between Mindoro and Caloocan, Nueva Ecija against General Santos and Rizal against Marikina. If necessary, the games will be played at a date yet to be determined, according to MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.

ONE champ Pacio: You ain’t seen nothing yet REIGNING ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio of the Philippines says if you’ve been impressed with his performances so far, you haven’t seen anything yet. The 23-year-old phenom vows to showcase a much better version of himself this year. Pacio attributes his improvement to the lessons he learned in 2019. After succumbing to Japanese star Yosuke Saruta early in the year, the Team Lakay hotshot was hungry and motivated to reclaim his title. He did just that in a rematch later in the year, which earned him back not just the strawweight belt, but also a highlightreel head kick knockout. Pacio capped off the year with a successful title defense against compatriot Rene Catalan, whom he submitted via second-round triangle choke. “I learned a lot this year, and I’m really

happy with my progress,” Pacio said. “Obviously, I lost the bout early in January and that was pretty painful. But I’m also grateful for that experience because it showed me areas of weakness that I needed to improve on. I worked hard to get where I’m at and we saw those improvements in April and November.” Being at the top of the division, Pacio knows everyone is gunning to take his spot. So the young champion is always ready to go and formidable, willing to face anyone who steps up to the plate. “As the reigning champion, there’s a lot of responsibility on my shoulders,” Pacio said. “That’s why I’m always in the gym working on my craft. I enjoy the process of training, the process of getting better, and even doing media. I love talking to people and engaging with fans. I’m having so much fun and I can say martial arts is

what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Pacio is scheduled to defend his title in the main event of ONE: FIRE & FURY, set for the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on January 31. Standing across from him will be Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Joshua Pacio says the best version of himself is yet to come. world champion and former strawweight ration between fighters,” Pacio said. kingpin Alex “Little Rock” Silva. “Everyone is talented and has their Pacio understands that Silva could own strengths and weaknesses. The only be his toughest challenge yet, given his thing is that, as a champion, every opveteran opponent’s impressive grappling ponent I face is a hungry lion wanting to pedigree. But the young Team Lakay take my throne. They want the belt and warrior remains confident of victory, and every challenge is tough. That’s why I will head into the bout well-prepared. have to remain focused and make sure “At this level, there’s not a lot of sepa- these guys don’t beat me.


Riera U. Mallari, Editor; Reuel Vidal, Assistant Editor



Jazz stretch NBA win run to 9 games LOS ANGELES—Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic scored 31 points as the Utah Jazz won their ninth straight game with a 127-116 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. Frenchman Rudy Gobert finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, one of a half-dozen players who finished in double figures for Utah, which improved to 27-12 for the season. The Jazz tightened up their defense in the second half to knock the Wizards off their game, then pulled it out in the final quarter. Jordan Clarkson added 23 points off the bench and Joe Ingles chipped in 20 for the Jazz, who are now 14-1 in their last 15 games. Gobert made three dunks over a twominute stretch after Washington cut the deficit to 111-108 on a driving layup from Bradley Beal with 3:32 left. Beal scored 25 points to lead the Wizards. Davis Bertans scored 18, Jordan McRae added 16 and Ian Mahinmi chipped in 15 for Washington, who lost for the second time in five games. Beal was back in the lineup after missing several games with injuries. Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz missed his first game of the season while recovering from an illness. Hapless Hawks Elsewhere, Kyrie Irving had one of the best shooting nights of his career, scoring 21 points in his first game in two months to lift the Brooklyn Nets to a 108-86 win over the hapless Atlanta Hawks. Irving returned from missing 26 games with a right shoulder problem, and made 10 of 11 shots in his first appearance since November 14. “I just work on my game diligently,” he said. “You have nights like this coming back. I just love the game, I missed it so much.” Irving nailed his one three-point attempt and had three assists in 20 minutes. After getting 11 points by halftime, He went five-for-five from the floor in the third before sitting down for the remainder of the game. He sat over the final 17:54, exiting after Brooklyn took an 87-50 lead with outcome beyond doubt. AFP

Gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxer Nesthy Petecio and pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena lead the candidates for the PSA Athlete of the Year. The SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Annual Awards Night is set on the first week of March at the Manila Hotel.

Top athletes to be feted F

OR making the country proud in the year just passed, top sports achievers will be honored anew as the SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Annual Awards Night is set on the first week of March at the Manila Hotel. Highlight of the annual affair also presented by MILO, CIGNAL TV, and the Philippine Sports Commission is the awarding of the coveted Athlete of the Year honor solely handed out by the country’s oldest media organization headed by president Tito S. Talao, sports editor of the Manila Bulletin. The year 2019 saw Filipino athletes make their presence felt everywhere, from Southeast Asia all the way to the world stage. Team Philippines won the overall championship of the Southeast Asian Games only for the second

time in 42 years of competing in the biennial meet, while Carlos Yulo became the first Filipino and gymnast from Southeast Asia to win a historic gold medal in the 49th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Lady boxer Nesthy Petecio also won a first-ever gold when she ruled the featherweight division of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in UlanUde Russia, even as Ernest John Obiena distinguished himself as the first Filipino to qualify in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when he surpassed the Olympic qualify-

ing standard in men’s pole vault by ruling a tournament in Chiara, Italy. These sports heroes and heroines are expected to lead the various personalities and entities to be honored on this special night by the country’s sportswriting fraternity. Aside from the Athlete of the Year award, also to be given out are the President’s Award, the National Sports Association of the Year award, Executive of the Year, Ms. Basketball, Mr. Volleyball, Ms. Golf, Mr. Football, and a first-ever Coach of the Year. As in past awards night, there will likewise be Major Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award, Tony Siddayao Awards, MILO Junior Athletes Award, and citations to be led by the SEA Games gold medal winners. Sports personalities who passed away last year will also be accorded with a posthumous recognition.

AFP Cavaliers clinch top seeding in 8th UNTV Cup

Darwin Cordero led AFP to a 90-83 win over DENR during their Sunday’s game at the UNTV Cup.

DEFENDING champion Armed Forces of the Philippines clinched the top seeding in the semis with a 90-83 win over Department of Environment and Natural Resources, while Judiciary completed a four-game sweep of the second round of elims in the 8th UNTV Cup held over the weekend at the Paco Arena in Manila. With Boyet Bautista and Darwin Cordero presiding over the team’s assault, the AFP Cavaliers erased a double-digit deficit early in the second quarter on the way to finishing the elims with an 8-1 record. Cordero topscored with 17 points, while Bautista chipped in 15 for a team that already advanced outright to the semis as early as last month. Despite losing two of their last three games, the DENR Warriors got the other automatic semis slot with a 7-2 mark in the event organized by UNTV President and CEO Dr. Daniel Razon for public servants The Judiciary Magis, on the other hand, closed out with a 7-3 mark for fourth place after capping their perfect second round show with a 66-59 victory over the PITC Global Traders. Former PBA player Chester Tolomia, who led Judiciary’s decisive third quarter run, scattered 25 points for a team eager to end a fiveyear title drought.

The Magis, along with the NHA Builders, Department of Agriculture Food Masters and Global Traders play another round in the quarters with the top two finishers completing the semis cast. The chosen charity of the champion team will get the P4 million top prize with the runner-up’s own foundation getting P2 million. First Game JUDICIARY 66 - Tolomia 25, Dela Cruz 11, Salamat 8, Ybañez 6, Bergonio 5, Mustre 4, Marquez 3, Dionisio 2. PITC 59 - Porto 19, Regalado 13, Vasallo 8, Gecale 8, Martin 4, Taplah 3, Lopez 2, Almarinez 2. Quarters: 13-14, 28-32, 53-44, 66-59. Second Game AFP 90 - Cordero 17, Bautista 15, Lumongsod 13, Quiambao 11, Pascual 10, Araneta 9, Almerol 6, Sergio 5, Resopa 4. DENR 83 - Lansang 18, Rivera 18, Ayson 17, Parreño 13, Bangal 11, Gamboa 4, Abanes 2. Quarters: 17-24, 38-39, 58-56, 90-83. Games Thursday (Paco Arena) 3 p.m. — Agriculture vs PITC 4:30 p.m. — Judiciary vs NHA

Organizers to ensure Le Tour de Langkawi runs smoothly KUALA LUMPUR—With slightly less than four weeks left, the organizing Human Voyage has intensified efforts to ensure that preparation for Malaysia’s premier cycle race PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2020, scheduled to commence in Kota Kinabalu on Feb. 6, runs smoothly without major glitches. While acknowledging the huge logistical challenges of bringing the prestigious event to East Malaysia Sabah for three major happenings in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching which

include the official team presentation, an International criterium and Stage 1 of the race, the organisers remained upbeat and determined that any challenges can be overcome with the cooperation of all related parties. “Yes, it’s going to be an enormous logistical challenge for us, but we are fully prepared. We have mapped out meticulous preparation right to the smallest detail especially in the handling of teams, logistics and transportation. Apart from bringing in our own entourage of well-expe-

rienced teams and personnel form our headquarters, we will be collaborating closely with the locals and experts as well as all related agencies in both states. We are thankful to both Sabah and Sarawak for the great cooperation and we are prepared for any eventualities,” said Human Voyage CEO Datuk Ahmad Mustafa. LTdL returns to East Malaysia Sabah for the first time after a lapse of 23 years where the second edition of the Tour Turn to A7 was held in 1997.

The Le Tour de Langkawi 2020 is scheduled from Feb. 6 to 17.

Federer adds to bushfire appeal as donations swell MELBOURNE—Roger Federer said he would donate to the Australia bushfires appeal on Monday after tennis players pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars to the disaster relief fund. The Swiss great, who has been criticised by environmental activists including Greta Thunberg over a sponsor’s links to fossil fuel investments, said he would donate at a charity match on Wednesday. “If anyone can chip in, that’s great because it’s nice to show solidarity and help in a situation, which has become quite incredible in this country,” Federer, 38, said at a publicity event in Melbourne. “We need to look for prevention in the future, that this doesn’t happen to this extent again because there will always be fires as I understand. This country is much, much too big,” added the world number three. Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will headline Wednesday’s exhibition at Melbourne Park, which will the Australian Open Grand Slam from January 20. Tennis players have been quick to respond to the bushfire crisis, which has left at least 27 people dead, burned an area the size of South Korea and prompted a surge in concern over global warming. Players on the men’s tour have donated US$500,000, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) said on Sunday, while Williams handed over her $43,000 winner’s cheque from the Auckland Classic on Sunday. “I’ll also be making a donation personally myself on Wednesday,” said Federer, a six-time winner of the Australian Open. “This country has given me everything and more in the past so it’s only but normal for me to help us well.” Over the weekend, Federer promised to talk to his sponsors after environmentalists criticised his relationship with Credit Suisse, which they say has loaned billions of dollars to the fossil fuels industry. Federer said he was “grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviours” after the criticism was retweeted by Swedish teenager Thunberg, a prominent eco-warrior. “I appreciate reminders of my responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I’m committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors,” he said in a statement that was widely quoted by media. AFP


DOF cites 2019 accomplishments FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said his fellow workers at the Department of Finance and attached agencies did a good job last year that led to significant progress in the tax reform packages, substantial gains in revenue collections and official development assistance from the country’s development partners. Dominguez, at the first DOF executive committee meeting this year, noted the successful bond issuances of the Bureau of the Treasury, particularly the first Premyo bonds sale that encouraged unbanked Filipinos to save and invest and the efforts of Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran and the Department’s Domestic Finance Group to update the public about the latest economic trends. He also commended the work of the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group and the Corporate Affairs Group, both led by Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, for raising the cash dividend contributions of, and instilling fiscal discipline in, government-owned and controlled corporations, and the Privatization Group led by Undersecretary Grace Karen Singson for its thorough review of state contracts and in getting the privatization program to move at a faster pace. Julito G. Rada

UniTeller signs deal with Paykii UNITELLER, a cross-border payments provider, said it signed an agreement with Paykii Inc., a leading international bill payment provider. The agreement will enable UniTeller and its digital uLink ( customers to directly pay electricity, phone, internet, cable, water and gas bills in Mexico and the Philippines. “We are committed to placing our customers at the center of what we do, addressing their needs through our service and product offerings. With this new international bill pay service, it will be easier for our customers to pay for the expenses of their loved ones back home,” said UniTeller CEO Alberto Guerra. Nelson Irizarry, co-founder and COO of PayKii, said the company is enthusiastic about teaming up with UniTeller, a digital innovative leader in the industry introducing this service for the first time to individuals living in the US. “PayKii’s simple and secure cross border bill pay platform will enable Uniteller and uLink users to pay utility and other government billers in Mexico, the Philippines and other countries in a reliably and timely way, ensuring peace of mind for their families back home,” he said.


Victorias Milling’s income declines 4.3% to P77.5m By Jenniffer B. Austria SUGAR refiner Victorias Milling Co. said Monday it posted a net income for P77.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019-2020 covering the period September to November 2019, down 4.3 percent from P81 million recorded in the same period last year. VMC said in a disclosure to the stock exchange first-quarter consolidated revenue increased 6 percent to P1.4 billion from a year earlier, on increased ethanol and raw sugar sales. The company said, however, that tolling and refined sugar volume significantly declined following the lower production output because of the late start of refining operations. Production cost was comparatively higher given the increase in cost of cane hauling resulting from tight competition among mills. VMC said that despite the higher revenues, gross profit margin declined by 1 percent to P211 million. Operating expenses were kept below 10 percent of revenue but were still slightly higher by P4 million compared to the same period last year. VMC operates a raw sugar mill with a daily capacity of 15,000 metric tons. Cane supply is sourced from both district and non-district planters with a sharing allocation of 69.5 percent for planters and 30.5 percent for VMC. The group also operates a refinery plant with a daily capacity of 25,000 LKG (50 kilogram). It also provides toll refinery services to traders and planters for their raw sugar milled by other sugar centrals. A division of VMC produces alcohol and ethanol with an actual daily capacity of 50,000 liters with TUESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2020


DITO signs deal to connect towns D beyond the standard free Wi-Fi hotspots. “The effort significantly affords Filipinos in the smallest of municipaliITO Telecommunity ties theeven advanced applications that can Corp., a joint be driven through the private network such as direct video for conferencing venture of security, public broadcast exchange, businessman Dennis Uy and or e-Education, e-Medicine, e-Permits, InChina Telecom, signed an ternet of Things, IP PBX, VoIP; among agreement with the League other things, to better live-up to the of delivering the kind of conof Municipalities to provide promise nectedness and community that Filipia dedicated nationwide fiber nos long for,” Tamano said. “The mayors have committed to ennetwork to directly connect sure ease of doing business in their the different towns across respective municipalities to drive the extensive DITO roll-out, in exchange, the country. DITO chief administrative officer DITO will enable better collaboraAdel Tamano said the deal would allow tion and communication in the future each and every municipality to provide through connectivity for all,” he said.

By Darwin G. Amojelar

LMP president and incumbent Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson said, “We are making ourselves future-ready.” “In other developed countries, governments already have their own private networks, and in the Philippines there have been several attempts, but now with this DITO-supported initiative, and the support of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the Office of the President, our municipalities will be connected real time through its own private network,” he said. Singson said many of the municipalities had limited internet services because of their lower population. “With the commitment of DITO to connect all the municipalities via a dedi-

cated fiber line, we are on the verge of something big, benefiting especially those in out-of-reach places like the farmers, the workers at the grass roots level who can now offer their local produce and services more immediately to the rest of the country or to the world, boosting greatly local economy up to the municipality level,” Singson said. DITO Telecommunity received its certificate of public convenience and necessity from the National Telecommunications Commission in July 2019 to operate as the third major telco. The company committed to improve the country’s telecommunications capability within five years by increasing the basic internet speed to 55 megabits per second and covering more than 80 percent of the country’s population.

AEV raises $400m from maiden dollar bond issue

Puerto Aguadulce receives big ship APL Esplanade, a large-scale vessel from Asia, recently arrived at Puerto Aguadulce with a capacity of 13,892 twenty foot equivalent units. After Colombia, its journey continues to other ports in South America. With a length of 369 meters, equivalent to approximately four professional soccer fields and a width of 51 meters, the vessel has the largest physical dimensions to call at any Colombian terminal. The event highlights the importance, capacity and competitiveness of Buenaventura Port, located close to Colombia’s major urban areas such as Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. “The shipping companies continue to build larger and larger capacity vessels. For Puerto Aguadulce, receiving this type of vessel is an honor and a great responsibility. We work continuously under our vision of being a strategic ally of the Colombian economy. At the end of last year, we received what is now, after APL Esplanade, the second largest capacity container vessel that has docked in the country. These calls confirm that Puerto Aguadulce is a terminal with global service standards, technology, infrastructure and security,” said Miguel Abisambra, Puerto Aguadulce general manager. Puerto Aguadulce, a modern container terminal, has two major shareholders, including International Container Terminal Services Inc. of the Philippines and PSA of Singapore.

Ray S. Eñano, Editor Roderick T. dela Cruz, Assistant Editor

51TALK-AMA PARTNERSHIP. Leading online English teaching platform 51Talk and the Philippines’ first full online

education provider AMA Online Education sign a partnership agreement to provide digital livelihood to AMAOED graduates. Sealing the agreement are (from left) AMAOED senior area director Geraldine Barredo, COO Christopher Satulan, AMA Education System vice chairman and CEO Dr. Amable Aguiluz IX, 51Talk founder and CEO Jack Huang and country head Jennifer Que.

Gov’t eyes measures to limit impact of Taal eruption on economy By Julito G. Rada THE government is doing the necessary response measures amid the Taal Volcano eruption, as the affected regions of the National Capital Region, Southern Luzon and Central Luzon account for significant shares in the gross domestic product, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Monday. “The Southern and Central Luzon as well as National Capital Region are some of the heftier pistons of our country’s economic engine, and we will do what is necessary to get areas affected by this natural disaster up and running as fast as possible,” Dominguez said in a statement. “Following the immediate human security responses, which are the priority, we will of course need to take stock of the full economic costs of this natural disaster, quick estimates of which are still being generated by relevant national agencies and local governments. The impact would depend on the type of eruption,” Dominguez said. Dominguez said the Region 4-A composed of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon

(Calabarzon) accounted for 17 percent of the country’s GDP in 2018. The NCR, meanwhile, retained a share of 36 percent to total output. The combined share of these two regions was nearly 53 percent. Central Luzon’s share was also sizable at 9 percent. The three regions were the most affected by the Taal Volcano ash fall that forced the shutdown of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday and the closure of financial markets on Monday. Several bank branches were closed Monday as the Bankers Association of the Philippines advised its members to look out for the safety of their employees. “Banks are encouraged to exercise management discretion to ensure the safety and welfare of their people during this emergency situation brought about by Taal Volcano eruption,” BAP managing director Benjamin Castillo said in a statement. Malacañang also announced the suspension of government offices Monday. BDO Unibank Inc., the biggest bank controlled by the Sy family, said a number of its branches in Central Luzon, Metro Manila and Calabarzon regions

were closed. Bank of the Philippine Islands also closed 33 banks located in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna. Security Bank Corp., the seventh-largest lender in terms of assets, said all its branches in Metro Manila, Calabarzon (Region 4-A) and Central Luzon were closed. Dominguez said based on the government estimates, the country loses 1 to 2 percent of the gross domestic product due to natural disasters, especially from typhoons, every year. He said there was in place a “Cat Bond” or catastrophe bond that “could be triggered by a 1-in-19 year earthquake that may be an aftermath of the Taal eruption.” The Treasury said a “1-in-19” year event corresponds to a modeled loss of P11 billion. This loss would be similar to the losses during the 1990 Luzon earthquake in Nueva Ecija. “We are likewise working on a natural catastrophe cover for our strategically important assets [schools, roads, and bridges], which would protect against natural catastrophes such as tsunamis, volcanic eruption, typhoons, earthquakes, and storm surges,” the Treasury said.

ABOITIZ Equity Ventures Inc. tapped the foreign market for the first time and raised $400 million through the issuance of fixed-rate, US dollar-denominated Regulation S-only senior unsecured notes by wholly-owned subsidiary AEV International Pte. Ltd. The notes will be listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. This is AEV’s first international dollar bond issuance. Following fixed-income investor meetings and conference calls in Hong Kong, Singapore and London, the notes will be issued at par with a coupon rate of 4.2 percent per annum and a tenor of 10 years. The notes are unrated, payable semi-annually and are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by AEV. Settlement date is expected to be on Jan. 16, 2020. “This bond issuance reflects our optimism in the strength of our fundamentals and the healthy appetite among foreign investors today. We look forward to availing of the international market to fund further growth and enable us to advance business and communities,” said AEV president and chief executive Sabin Aboitiz. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. Singapore Branch, Standard Chartered Bank, DBS Bank Ltd., Mizuho Securities (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. and MUFG Securities Asia Limited Singapore Branch are the joint lead managers and HSBC and Standard Chartered are the joint global coordinators. BDO Capital & Investment Corp., BPI Capital Corp. and China Bank Capital Corp. are the co-managers. AEV said proceeds from the maiden issuance will be used for reimbursement of funding AEVI received for the Gold Coin Group acquisition, proposed offshore investments and for general corporate purposes. The Gold Coin acquisition, completed in 2019, is the largest investment of the Aboitiz Group via Pilmico International (a wholly-owned subsidiary of AEV International) in the Asia-Pacific region. The acquisition expanded Pilmico’s footprint in 11 Asian countries.

Grab starts pilot test of video recording GRAB Philippines said Monday it started the in-car audio and video recording in Metro Manila as part of new security measures to protect both riders and drivers. “The pilot study starts on Jan. 13 and will run for two to six weeks with over 180 GrabCar vehicles, of which half will be equipped with in-car cameras and the rest with audio-recording capabilities,” Grab said in a statement. Grab said the safety and well-being of passengers and driver-partners were extremely important to the company. “As part of our continuous efforts to improve the safety of our services and to better support our users, Grab will be conducting a small pilot study in Metro Manila to assess the effectiveness of in-car audio and video recording in incident prevention and dispute resolution,” the company said. Grab said passengers who would be allocated a car participating in the pilot study would be notified in advance via GrabChat, and would have the option to

cancel the booking without any penalty. “Audio and video recordings will be encrypted and stored securely in Grab’s database for seven days and 10 hours respectively. Recordings will only be accessed by authorized Grab representatives for investigation purposes in the unlikely event of an incident,” it said. Grab said the audio and video recording pilot would serve as another layer of security to both drivers and passengers. “We hope that this pilot, if proven successful, will bring us even closer to our goal of zero preventable incident on our platform,” Grab said. The company said there is no jurisdiction that restricts them from putting up safety measures for the benefit drivers and passengers. “But rest assured that LTFRB will be notified accordingly. The pilot is compliant with the NPC’s [National Privacy Commission’s] data privacy law,” Grab said. Darwin G. Amojelar

WATER DONATION. Manila Water makes available 30 water tankers to provide for the needs of evacuees affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano, in various sites in Southern Luzon. Through the efforts of subsidiary Laguna Water, the tankers will be deployed initially to three towns in the province of Batangas. Four tankers will be sent to the following sites in Tanauan City: Poblacion Balele West Covered Court, Poblacion Gloria, and Tanauan City Gym 2; two to be deployed to PUP Gymnasium in Sto. Tomas; and six tankers will be stationed at the Bolbok Provincial Sports Complex in Batangas City. Request for tankers have also been received for San Luis Municipal Hall and Taal Municipal Hall in Batangas as well as in Alfonso town in Cavite.




Asian stocks mostly rise as focus shifts to trade accord HONG KONG―Asian markets mostly rose Monday as investor attention turned from the Middle East to the global economic outlook and this week’s planned signing of the China-US trade pact. While the optimism that characterized the end of 2019 is returning to trading floors, dealers were left a little disappointed by a below-par jobs report out of Washington, which also showed a slower pace of wage growth. All three main indexes on Wall Street ended in negative territory following the reading, having hit new highs, with profit-taking also playing a role. However, analysts pointed out that while the data missed expectations, it did suggest that the Federal Reserve will likely maintain interest rates at low levels for some time to come, with some tipping the next move could be another cut. Hong Kong rallied more than one percent in the afternoon and Shanghai ended up 0.8 percent, while Seoul jumped one percent, Mumbai put on 0.6 percent and Bangkok gained 0.3 percent. Taipei rose 0.7 percent after Tsai Ing-wen won a landslide victory at the weekend and was returned as the island’s president for a second term, with investors cheering the removal of uncertainty caused by the election. The Taiex is sitting at its highest levels in three decades, while the Taiwan dollar is also at an 18-month peak, boosted by government moves to attract foreign cash and encourage local firms to invest at home. Among other bourses, Sydney shed 0.4 percent, Singapore eased 0.2 percent and Wellington slipped 0.1 percent. Tokyo was closed for a holiday. Focus this week is on Washington, where China and the United States will finally put pen to paper on their muchvaunted “phase one” trade deal, which has lowered tensions between the economic superpowers and boosted hopes for the global economy. While there are not expected to be any major announcements at the signing, investors will be looking for signs of progress on the next part of negotiations for a wider agreement. “Provided the deal inks a commitment from China to increase agricultural products and outlines a dependable enforcement mechanism, the market will go merrily along the way,” said AxiTrader’s Stephen Innes. “Traders are probably not too concerned about a currency pact as China should hold the line on any weakness in the yuan as we roll forward to negotiating phase two.” On foreign exchanges, the dollar was down against most high-yielding, riskier units as confidence returns to markets after the volatile start to the year, with the Indonesian rupiah rallying 0.7 percent and the South Korean won rising 0.5 percent. AFP

US-China deal a mixed success By Delphine Touitou


ASHINGTON― President Donald Trump is set to sign a trade deal with China on Wednesday that he will trumpet as a major victory, but it comes at a steep cost after a two-year standoff between the world’s two top economic powers. “The hard issues between the United States and China are still outstanding,” said Edward Alden, trade policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. But he acknowledged: “Politically, this does work pretty well for Trump,” who is running for re-election in November this year.

The White House can boast it has been “tough on China,” and that “technically he’s got a deal,” something he promised voters in 2016, Alden said. At the very least, the truce has reassured markets, roiled by the constant upheaval of threats, counter-threats and waves of tariffs in 2018 and 2019. The ceasefire also could help Trump on the campaign trail by giving the American economy a boost. As uncertainty eases, consumers would have greater reason to spend with confidence, and businesses might also move forward with investments that were put on hold because of fears about the conflict. Trump announced to great fanfare on New Year’s eve that he would sign the “phase one” deal on January 15 in the White House. But it was not until Thursday that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce confirmed the visit of Vice Premier Liu He, who will be in Washington from Monday to Wednesday.

Details of the scope of the agreement have remained a mystery, however. “The whole document will be released Wednesday,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters on Friday. Kudlow dismissed criticism that the deal fell short of expectations, saying US negotiators won numerous concessions. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the pact “historic.” “This is the first time we had a comprehensive agreement with China on technology issues, agricultural issues, financial services, purchases,” Mnuchin told Fox News. “It has a real enforcement mechanism. So this is a big win for the president.” The White House has said the agreement includes improvements on the technology transfer requirements that Beijing imposes on foreign companies, as well as better access to the Chinese market for financial services. According to the US, it also stipulates

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe looks on prior to delivering a speech on the government’s pensions overhaul, on the set of French TV channel France 2, in Paris on January 12, 2020. A crippling French transport strike dragged into its 39th day on January 12, 2020 despite the government’s offer to withdraw the most contested measure of the pension reform plans that sparked the protest. AFP

Renewable energy agency calls for doubling of investments ABU DHABI―An international agency promoting clean energy called Sunday for investments in renewable energy projects to be more than doubled, redirecting funds from fossil fuels. The Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also said that electricity output from renewable sources would more than double over the next decade. “The agency’s data shows that annual renewable energy investment needs to double from around $330 billion today to close to $750 billion to deploy renewable energy at the speed required,” it

said in a report. “Much of the needed investment can be met by redirecting planned fossil fuel investment,” IRENA said. It estimated as much as $10 trillion worth of investments are planned in non-renewables-related energy projects by 2030, risking failure to meet the goals of fighting global warming. Some $2.6 trillion had been invested in renewable energy projects by end 2019, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. IRENA director general Francesco La

Camera told reporters on the sidelines of its annual assembly in Abu Dhabi that renewable energy programs must be accelerated. If we want to deal “with the consequences of climate change, we have to accelerate our path. It means we have to go and double our investments in renewables”, he said. IRENA’s report said additional investment in renewables can achieve substantial savings, including minimizing losses caused by climate change as a result of inaction. “Savings could amount to between

$1.6 trillion and $3.7 trillion annually by 2030, three to seven times higher than investment costs for the energy transformation,” the report said. Electricity from renewable sources, mainly solar and wind, will supply 57 percent of global power by the end of the current decade, up from just 26 percent currently, IRENA said. The falling costs of renewable energy has greatly enhanced its contribution. Over the past 10 years, solar costs have dived by 90 percent and wind turbine prices have halved in the same period, IRENA said.AFP

that Beijing will buy an additional $200 billion in American products over a twoyear period compared to 2017, including $50 billion in agricultural goods. In return, the Trump administration has called off new tariffs on Chinesemade goods like electronics and cell phones that were to take effect last month. It also cut in half those imposed on September 1 on $120 billion worth of products. But many tariffs remain in place, and the trade war has squeezed US businesses. The deal is a “mixed success” and comes at a price, said Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University and an expert on China. “Trump has extracted some concessions from China and other US trading partners but at a significant cost to the US economy and with an erosion of the US’ international standing as a trustworthy and reliable trading partner.” With AFP

French road strike drags despite gov’t compromise

PARIS, France―A crippling French transport strike dragged into its 39th day on Sunday despite the government’s offer to withdraw the most contested measure of the pension reform plans that sparked the protest. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Saturday he would drop plans to increase the official age for a full pension to 64 from 62 in an effort to end a strike which has paralyzed Paris and its suburbs, with bus, train and metro services all badly disrupted. French President Emmanuel Macron called the change “a constructive and responsible compromise.” Philippe late Sunday called on the unions to take “responsibility.” “Those who incite (the strikers) to continue the strike are leading them perhaps into a dead end... I think that they need to assume their responsibilities,” Philippe said in a television interview. The more reformist trade unions―the FDT, Unsa and FRC―welcomed the compromise announcement and said they were now ready to work with employers on the sustainable financing of the state pension system. The Unsa union for national railway workers maintained its strike call on Sunday while recognizing the government’s reconciliatory move. The union “remains on strike” but will return to the negotiating table, secretary general Didier Mathis told AFP. However, the more hardline CGT, FO and Solidaires unions were standing firm, calling for the strike and protests to continue, including a major demonstration on January 16. French rail operator the SNCF said it expected services to improve on Monday. Nine of 10 high-speed TGV trains would run on French and international routes, it said―and commuters in and around Paris could expect seven out of 10 trains to operate. CGT head Philippe Martinez played down the impact of the CFDT and Unsa’s readiness to resume negotiations, and spoke of internal splits within these groups. “We will see” what these unions’ workers have to say on the issue, he said, reiterating his call for the government to withdraw the pension reforms completely which he described as “the major requirement of a majority of unions representing a majority of employees”. However the financial hit is weakening the resolve of some strikers. AFP

A series of emails by employees bemoan culture of ‘arrogance’ in Boeing By Luc Olinga NEW YORK―Contempt for regulators, airlines and their own colleagues coupled with a casual approach to safety: a series of emails by Boeing employees paint an unflattering portrait of a company culture of “arrogance” imbued with a fixation on cost-cutting. The emails underscore the task awaiting incoming CEO David Calhoun when he takes the company’s reins on Monday, under intense pressure to restore public confidence –and that of aviation regulators worldwide―after two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX aircraft. The emails were contained in some 100 pages of documents dated between 2013 and 2018 and transmitted to US lawmakers by the Seattle-based aviation giant. The messages were seen by AFP after their release Thursday. Often cutting, dismissive, mocking or cavalier, the messages show that Boeing’s current difficulties reach far beyond the 737 MAX, shining a light on a level of dysfunction that seems almost unimaginable for a company that helped democratize air travel―and which builds the US president’s

iconic Air Force One airplane. The emails show that Boeing tried to play down the role of its MCAS flight-control system in order both to avoid the costs involved in having to train pilots on the system in flight simulators and to speed the federal green-lighting of the MAX plane. Investigators singled out the role of the MCAS (the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) in the fatal crashes of MAX planes flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air (October 29, 2018) and Ethiopian Airlines (March 10, 2019). Those crashes claimed 346 lives and led to the plane’s worldwide grounding last March. “I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required,” one Boeing employee messaged a colleague on March 28, 2017, a few months before the MAX received federal certification. The message went on: “Boeing will not allow that to happen. We’ll go face-to-face with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement.” A few months later, the same employee―a

test pilot―bragged about having “save(d) this company a sick amount of $$$$.” The names of most of the employees who sent the messages were blacked out. ‘I wouldn’t’ In 2018, several employees working on the MAX simulators complained of encountering numerous technical difficulties. “Would you put your family on a MAX simulator-trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” said a message sent in February 2018, eight months before the first crash. “No,” a colleague agreed. Two other employees said they were concerned about the impact on Boeing’s image at a time, they said, when the company’s leaders seemed obsessed with the idea of gaining ground on Airbus’s narrow-body A320neo. “All the messages are about meeting schedule, not delivering quality,” one employee said. A colleague replied: “We put ourselves in this position by picking the lowest-cost supplier and signing up to impossible schedules. “Why did the lowest-ranking and most unproven supplier receive the contract? Solely because of the bottom dollar.” AFP

In this file photo taken on March 27, 2019, employees work on Boeing 737 MAX airplanes at the Boeing Renton Factory in Renton, Washington. Boeing employees bantered about whether the 737 MAX was safe to fly and joked that the aircraft was “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys,” according to emails released late Thursday. AFP




‘Megablaze’ put under control

SNOWFALL. A man removes snow from a boat on the banks of the the Dal Lake during a snowfall in Srinagar on January 13,

2020. AFP

SYDNEY―Exhausted firefighters said they had finally brought Australia’s largest “megablaze” under control Monday, as wet weather promised to deliver much-needed respite for the countryside ravaged by bushfires. New South Wales firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts, which has been burning for almost three months. Visiting the area on Monday, New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said there was a “small area of burning still to complete” but the “containment prognosis looks promising”. The fire seared an area of national park three times the size of Greater London and lit several connected blazes totaling over 800,000 hectares. As residents and authorities continued to come to grips with the sheer scale of the devastation, the Bureau of Meteorology forecast some fire ground areas could get up to two inches of rain

in the next week, a relief after a prolonged drought. If that forecast bears out, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service said it would be “all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed.” Dozens of other fires are yet to be controlled. The climate-change-fueled fires have prompted an international outpouring and donations from around the world to help communities and animal populations. Australia’s unique flora and fauna has taken a catastrophic hit, with an estimated one billion animals killed, and countless trees and shrubs burned away. The country’s environment minister Sussan Ley has warned that in some areas, koalas may have to be reclassified as endangered. The government has earmarked an initial $50 million (US$35 million) to spend on helping with the wildlife recovery. AFP

Aussie bushfire crisis turns off tourists IN BRIEF Abe warns over conflict RIYADH―Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned that military confrontation with Iran will impact global peace and stability, as he visits the Middle East hoping to ease tensions spiked by the US killing of a top Iranian general. His comments came at the start of a five-day Gulf tour that had been thrown into doubt after Tehran responded to the attack on Qasem Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles at bases hosting American troops in Iraq, prompting fears of all-out war. But as those concerns receded, the Japanese premier decided to go ahead with the visit and on Sunday discussed regional tensions during an hour-long meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in northwestern AlUla province, according to foreign ministry spokesman Masato Ohtaka. “Any military confrontation in the region that includes a country like Iran will have an impact not only on peace and stability in the region but the peace and stability of the whole world,” Abe said, according to Ohtaka. AFP


OGO, Australia― Families grieving for lost homes and loved ones, burned koalas rescued from charred forests: The devastation of Australia’s bushfire crisis has tainted the country’s reputation as a safe and alluring holiday destination.

Images of the unprecedented scale of this summer’s blazes have evoked global shock and an outpouring of sympathy. Thousands of tourists have been evacuated from coastal towns, international visitors have canceled flights, and the US Department of State upgraded its security advice for Australia, warning travelers to “exercise increased caution”. Tourism Australia was forced to suspend an upbeat advertising cam-

paign featuring pop star Kylie Minogue that was launched in the middle of the crisis after the ad was met with incredulity about what many saw as poor timing. “We’ve been selling Australia on clean air, clear skies, bright shiny beaches, hopping animals. Unfortunately, what people have been seeing [are] singed koalas and kangaroos,” said University of Technology Sydney lecturer David Beirman. More than nine million overseas tourists visited Down Under in the 12 months to June 2019, adding almost Aus$45 billion ($31 billion) to the economy, while Australians holidaying across the vast continent country spent another Aus$100 billion. Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said it was “too early to quantify the full impact of the bushfires”. But Beirman, who specializes in tourism risk and crisis management, estimates the losses have already run into

“billions”, with the fires hitting during the peak summer holiday period and emptying whole regions of vacationers. In tourism-reliant towns such as Mogo in New South Wales -- where a bushfire reduced homes and businesses to twisted metal and ash -- the impact has been felt immediately. Ten days after the blaze roared through, most remaining shops were shuttered, unable to open until electricity was restored, while the handful that had re-opened were running on generators. “It’s deserted,” gift shop owner Linda Pawley told AFP. “Usually there’s hundreds and thousands of people coming through each day.” Pawley described herself as “one of the lucky ones” -- her shop is still standing -- but the future is uncertain. “If the people don’t come back, a lot of the businesses will probably fade out,” she said. “I don’t know who’s going to keep their head above water and who’s not.”

Queen gathers royals for crisis meeting

Plea to house threatened koalas WELLINGTON―Thousands of people have signed a petition for koalas to be introduced to New Zealand to escape Australia’s devastating bush fires, but the proposal has been given the thumbs down by officials. A group calling itself the Koala Relocation Society said koalas were “functionally extinct in Australia” but could thrive in New Zealand which has nearly 30,000 hectares planted in eucalypts. There have been estimates of up to a billion koalas and other animals affected by the fires raging across Australia and there are concerns about how the survivors will cope given the loss of vegetation. As of midday Monday, the online petition had 7,500 signatures, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Television New Zealand that the government’s focus was on helping to get the fires under control so koalas “can stay in their natural habitat”. Wellington Zoo animal science manager Simon Eyre believed any assistance should be provided directly to the Australian authorities dealing with the fallout from the fires.AFP

Rivals to sign ceasefire deal TRIPOLI―The head of Libya’s UNrecognized Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj and his rival, strongman Khalifa Haftar, are expected to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow on Monday, a senior Libyan official said. The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by bloody turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with multiple foreign powers now involved. The signing of the agreement will pave the way for the revival of the political process, said Libya’s head of High Council of State Khaled al-Mechri on the country’s al-Ahrar TV channel. Mechri said he would accompany Sarraj to Moscow, while parliament speaker Aguila Salah will travel with Haftar. Sarraj on Monday called on Libyans to “turn the page on the past”, as he prepared to sign the agreement. “I call on all Libyans to turn the page on the past, reject discord and to close ranks to move towards stability and peace,” he said in a short televised speech.AFP

Maureen Nathan, a retired pharmacist, spent 20 years building up a tourist attraction dedicated to Mogo’s 1850s gold rush -- only for it to go up in flames on New Year’s Eve. “That fire was hot enough to melt brass scales,” she said, telling AFP a pair of antique scales was found melted down to a small nugget in the rubble. “That is the ferocity (of the fire) that came through at incredible speed in the little village of Mogo.” The pain of losing more than a dozen buildings that contained irreplaceable historical artefacts was still too “raw” for her to be able to decide on the site’s future. “And we’re not alone -- it’s not one little pocket of a community, it’s the entire (region),” Nathan said. “It’s pretty well the entire eastern seaboard.” As the bushfire threat has eased in recent days, Australian politicians have exhorted visitors to return to fire-ravaged areas and also not ignore destinations untouched by the disaster. AFP

AT WORK. Farmers work in a paddy field in Montasik, Indonesia’s Aceh province on January 13, 2020. AFP

Republicans challenged to allow a ‘fair’ impeachment trial WASHINGTON―Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi on Sunday challenged Republicans to allow a “fair trial” when Donald Trump’s impeachment case moves to the Senate, going head-tohead with the president who suggested the Senate should dismiss the charges against him outright. Speaker Pelosi will meet with the House Democratic caucus early Tuesday to prepare for the formal vote required to send the two articles of impeachment passed by the House on to the Senate, as early as this week. The Senate trial is expected to be held quickly, with Republicans holding enough votes to easily dismiss the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump, for his part, has said he expects rapid exoneration and wants to move past the trial as quickly as possible. “Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did nothing wrong,” the president tweeted on Sunday. “Very unfair to tens of millions of voters!” He also renewed a call for Democrat Adam Schiff, who led the

House impeachment probe, to be called as a witness—this time also demanding that Pelosi herself be made to testify. He later said the case should be dismissed without trial, as any hearings would give undue credibility to the “witch hunt” against him. Pelosi has withheld the articles since the House impeached Trump on December 18 over allegations that he improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 election rival Joe Biden, and obstructed the subsequent congressional probe. Pelosi had hoped to pressure Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to agree to allow witnesses and new evidence in the trial. He has not budged, however. Still, she said Sunday that the delay had accomplished important things. “We wanted the public to see the need for witnesses,” she told ABC. “Now the ball is in their court, to either do that or pay a price for not doing it.” “We think there’s enough testimony to remove (Trump) from office,” Pelosi said.

During the interim, she added, new emails supporting the charges against Trump had emerged, and former national security adviser John Bolton had announced his willingness to testify if subpoenaed. If the Senate fails to subpoena Bolton —and Trump said Friday in an interview on Fox that he might invoke executive privilege to block Bolton’s testimony —Pelosi said it was “not excluded” that the House might then move to subpoena him. But McConnell made clear recently he had sufficient Republican votes to ignore the Democrats’ demands on witnesses and evidence. The timing of the trial is critical, with political temperatures rapidly rising in this presidential election year. The first vote of the Democratic nomination process, in Iowa, is just weeks away, on February 3. Five of the candidates—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Michael Bennet—are US senators, and are required to sit as jurors during the impeachment trial, curtailing their campaigning efforts. AFP

LONDON―Queen Elizabeth II and other senior British royals were gathering for a meeting Monday with Prince Harry in an attempt to solve the crisis triggered by his bombshell announcement that he and wife Meghan were stepping back from the royal front line. Harry’s father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, with whom he has strained relations, will join the monarch at her private Sandringham estate in eastern England, according to British media. Charles just flew back from Oman, where he attended a condolence ceremony following the death of Sultan Qaboos. Meghan is expected to join the meeting via conference call from Canada as they attempt to work out the “next steps” towards a compromise and nip the growing crisis in the bud. Issues up for debate include how much money the couple will still receive from Charles’s estate, their royal titles and what commercial deals they can strike, according to the Sunday Times. The newspaper reported that William believes he and Harry are now “separate entities”, breaking the bonds forged following their mother’s tragic death. “I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can’t do that any more; we’re separate entities,” the Times reported he told a friend. The queen attended church at Sandringham on Sunday where supporters expressed sympathy for her, with some members of the public saying Harry and Meghan should not receive any more taxpayer money if they step back from the royal family. The 93-year-old monarch on Thursday demanded that staff work with the couple to find urgently a “workable solution” that would take into account their demands for more freedom. Harry, Meghan and son Archie spent Christmas in Canada, with the American former actress returning there this week. Several Canadian media reported Meghan had returned to Vancouver Island off the country’s Pacific coast, where the family spent the year-end holidays and where baby Archie had remained with his nanny. AFP


Jimbo Owen Gulle, Editor




SURPRISE INSPECTIONS. Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong resumes his surprise inspections at random locations in the city. First photo shows the mayor checking on a messy

junkshop which he found to be illegally operating along Homestead St. off Kennon Road. He had ordered the Permits and Licensing to inspect and act on the establishment. The mayor also ordered the CBAO to cancel the building permit of an ongoing construction along Naguilian Road (near 2nd Road Quezon Hill) for its unkempt and dirty surroundings (second photo). This is the second time the mayor issued a warning to the site, as the city will be undergoing a major rehabilitation as per agreement with several government agencies. Dave Leprozo

Taal ashes carpet open spaces S

Parañaque grants tax amnesty to property owners

AN PEDRO CITY, Laguna—Ashes and pumice-like bits apparently spewing out of raging Taal Volcano in neighboring Batangas province sent residents of San Pedro City and its environs rushing into their homes for shelter late Sunday afternoon—at the height of family fun and reunions in malls, recreation parks, movies, and from work.

DELINQUENT real property owners in Paranaque City have until March 31 this year to avail of a one-time real property tax amnesty. Mayor Edwin Olivarez has signed Ordinance No. 19-32 granting a general amnesty to all delinquent property owners from payment of surcharges and penalties for the past five years. Olivarez said this would allow property owners “a chance to recover from penalties, surcharges and interests.” The tax amnesty program started January 1 and will end on March 31, according to the ordinance. Under the ordinance, the amnesty covers all real properties and improvements that have not been declared for assessment purposes and are thus not included in the city’s assessment rolls, as well as real properties whose real property taxes have not been paid for the last five years. However, properties with pending or protested cases with the courts are not qualified to avail of the amnesty. Olivarez said the rising number of taxpayers affected by economic misfortune for the past years have experienced hardships in paying their basic taxes, fees and charges to the city government, according to Olivarez. “As a consequence, these unpaid impositions have incurred surcharges and penalties making even more difficult for taxpayers to settle their obligations,” he pointed out. To address these financial burdens, Olivarez said, the city government through the city council, “deemed it reasonable to grant a three-month tax holiday to real property owners.” This is the second tax amnesty program under the Olivarez administration. When he assumed office in 2013, Olivarez immediately declared tax amnesty after realizing that the city coffer was empty with billions of bank loans incurred by the past administration. City Treasurer Dr. Anthony Pulmano said this year’s tax amnesty won’t have any public auctions for tax delinquent properties in the city anytime soon.

Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Taal Volcano’s magnetic intrusion that appeared to begin at about 2 p.m., was the likely driving force of the activity. It could become more dangerous, he warned in a public announcement. Residents of the three towns of San Nicolas, Talisay, and Balete in Batangas province, which are closest to the famous volcano that sits inside a bigger caldera, were ordered evacuated. From a southbound passenger bus traversing the South Luzon Express-

way (SLEx) can be seen whirlwinds of ashes as vehicles screeched to stops through the cities of Muntinlupa, and San Pedro, Biñan, and Cabuyao in Laguna province. A bus conductor of Balibago Bus Lines kept dusting off ashes from his hair as soon as his passengers—who also complained that their sight was obstructed by the swirls—were off the vehicle and into the streets. The faint smell of sulphur permeated the bus and an elderly whined that she was nauseous and having a headache. “Isn’t this ash from the fires of Australia?” the bus driver quipped, feeling

uncomfortable that he could not see clearly the white zebra lines for passenger crossing. The pedestrian lanes were almost invisible, covered with half-centimeterthick ashes and sharp bits of pumice. Some passengers hied off to the Mercury Drug store at a bus stop to buy face masks. It was the same situation in most open spaces elsewhere in the wide swath of towns and cities within the 800-km. range of Taal Volcano, a tourist attraction. Jeepneys have stalled in Parañaque City, where drivers feared pumice bits could break their front glass shield. A driver retold his experience when Mt. Pinatubo dropped much thicker ashes and shards some two decades ago. He lost his whole jeepney then; he does not want it repeated. It is not going to be a nice night. “We remember another Pinatubo-like morning (on Monday).” PNA

Marc Tomas, Neny Regino, Mee Lee Casey and Fidel Sarmiento of Sunshine Place (from left) turn over a check representing proceeds of the exhibit to the Mother Superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Inset shows the paintings they made for the lobby of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Center for the Elderly.

Munti team sent to ashfall-hit Batangas towns THE local government of Muntinlupa has sent a rescue team to augment relief operations in Batangas following the eruption of Taal Volcano. Muntinlupa City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Erwin Afonso said a group of health workers and emergency services staff were sent to Talisay, Batangas to assist in the ongoing rescue and relief operations, Monday morning. Alfonso said the MCDRRMO is closely coordinating with Region IV-A officials in providing services to affected local government units. On Monday, Mayor Jaime Fresnedi called for an emergency meeting to discuss safety measures in preventing adverse effects of ash fall from the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano to city residents. Fresnedi urged the public to stay indoors as much as possible and use masks as protection. The local exec also advised the city residents to monitor news updates and announcements from the local government. More than 36,000 masks were purchased by the City Government of Muntinlupa to be distributed in local barangay health centers. Local health centers are on alert to accommodate health emergencies due to ashfall effects such as eye sores, respiratory and skin reactions and asthma triggers. Cleaning operations in major thoroughfares and secondary roads in Muntinlupa were conducted together with barangay personnel. Street sweepers and other emergency responders were advised to use masks during operations. Further, Muntinlupa Environmental Sanitation Center released an advisory to refrain using water in cleaning ash deposits and dumping volcanic ash residue to drainage and bodies of water. For emergency concerns, Muntinlupa City residents may contact MCDRRMO at 0927-257-9322 / 0921542-7123 / 8925-4351 / 8862-2664.

761 Vizcayano scholars finish TESDA courses By Ben Moses Ebreo

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—A total of 761 Technical Education and Skills Development Authority scholars here recently finished their courses. The graduates completed their technical and vocational courses through the Tam-an Agri-Tech Tourism and Training Center, Inc. (TATTTCI) in barangay Busilac in this town. Socorro Galanto, provincial TESDA chief, said the graduates completed the following courses: Animal Production, Automotive Servicing, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, Training Methodology, Agricultural Crop Production, Driving, and Organic Agriculture Production. She said TATTTCI has already produced 1,485 graduates since its establishment in 2017. “Most of the graduates are now here and abroad while others are now managing their own business,” Galanto added. TATTTCI was put up to provide training venues for the out-of-school youths and adults in the province and its neighboring provinces.

Artists turn over ‘Coloring Lives’ exhibit proceeds to San Lorenzo home STUDENTS of art classes at Makati City’s Sunshine Place’s—Acrylic, Diamond, and Porcelain Painting, and Ikebana-Sogetsu—last October mounted the Coloring Lives II exhibit organized by FTS Foundation, not only to showcase their artworks but to raise funds for the San Lorenzo Ruiz Center for the Elderly.

Sunshine Place, together with painting students and their mentors, visited the elderly home to turn over its donation from proceeds of the Coloring Lives exhibit. Also present were Coloring Lives exhibitors Gloria Sun-Pe, Meliza Gonzales, Loida Tan, Vicky Pollisco, Rosalinda Lim Ng, and Neny Regi-

no together with their mentors Fidel Sarmiento, Mee Lee Casey, Robert Fernandez, and Tere Boisier. Aside from the financial donation, two acrylic paintings measuring 4 x 8 meters now adorn the lobby of the home for the elderly, giving it a colorful and cheerful atmosphere. It is a product of the interaction among

the elderly residents of San Lorenzo Ruiz Center for the Elderly and Sunshine Place instructors and art students. Located in Pasay City, the home for the elderly is run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an international religious congregation founded by Saint Jeanne Jugan.

First Mass in Riverforest village ‘ushers in hope, unity’ for 2020 HERMOSA, Bataan—The conduct of the first Mass in decades on Tuesday at the Riverforest Development Corp. (RDC) compound in Barangay Sumalo here has ushered in hope and unity in the community, company officials said. “The Mass, celebrated by Fr. Renato Calampinay of the Parish of New San Jose, Dinalupihan, was a blissful welcome for the new year 2020,” said RDC Estate Development Manager Dani Beltran. “We are faced with many challenges, and we want guidance and blessings from our Almighty God”, Beltran said.

“May this 2020 be the year of enlightenment and oneness in the community. We hope remarkable development happens this year in Sumalo estate to be able to pitch in for the progress of the province,” he added. RDC develops the 213-hectare Litton property in Sumalo, as village residents are occupying portion of the titled property. Community people and RDC employees attended the mass. Beltran also thanked Diocese of Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos. Butch Gunio

GREENING TURNOVER. EDC-Burgos Wind Power Corp. recently turned over its adopted National Greening Program area in the

municipalities of Vintar, Solsona and Bangui in Ilocos Norte to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Under the program, the company planted more than 790,000 seedlings of indigenous tree species and achieved 80 percent survival rate of these species within its three-year adoption period. Representatives of Provincial Environment and Natural Resources, City Environment and Natural Resources, and five People’s Organization partners came to the turn-over ceremony. Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Manotoc also graced the event and expressed his gratitude to EDC-Burgos for this project and for the assistance that it provides to the communities.


Bernadette Lunas, Issue Editor @manilastandardlife @MStandardLIFE




WILDLIFE ON WALLS. Muralist and environmentalist AG Saño led a team of PLDT-Smart employee volunteers in painting over 3,000 square feet of plant species and animal life on the walls of the company’s headquarters in Makati City. The mural aims to spread awareness of environmental protection.

Nature on the walls By Monica Sanchez


RTIST-ACTIVIST (“artivist”) AG Saño is at again. The renowned muralist and environmentalist has used his paintbrushes to send an important message about the environment, encouraging everyone to make better choices for tomorrow. Saño led the team of employee volunteers from PLDT-Smart to paint over 3,000 square feet of plant species and animal life on the walls of the digital services company’s headquarters in Makati. PLDT-Smart Gabay Kalikasan’s “SmART for Nature” has its general office’s Legazpi frontage, Dela Rosa walkway, and Gallardo back entrance awashed in colors, all in the name of spreading awareness and engaging the public to do something about our environment. The mural features animals thriving in nature wearing armors. Saño said the mural, and other murals he has created, were born after being exposed to the

field research and community empowerment through environment education and arts for almost two decades “Having seen firsthand the degradation of different ecosystems and witnessing the rise of problems involving climate change, I’ve realized that the creatures that comprise nature have become extremely vulnerable,” Saño said in a statement. Hence each of the animals painted wears an armor. He explained, “Since their natural defense mechanisms are not enough to protect them from the dangers that humans created, the armors that cover the animals throughout the ‘SmART for

Nature’ mural symbolize the need for more protection.” The concept can also be seen in Saño’s another mural in Paseo de Roxas underpass, entitled “Art in Defense of Nature.” He has painted over 700 murals in 16 countries; his body of work showcases his passion for environmental protection. Representing the environmental

stewardship pillar of PLDT-Smart’s newly established Sustainability Office, Gabay Kalikasan upholds the concept behind Saño’s creation and encourages the public to make better choices for tomorrow—acknowledging that better environmental practices are crucial to sustain the services that nature provides. The mural also features the state-

ments #SaveOurHome, #SmartPlanet, and #SustainableEnterprise—referring to PLDT Group’s various business units. “The impact of climate change affects everyone pervasively. This includes our safety, our health, our existence, hence the need to raise environmental awareness through the mural,” said PLDTSmart chief sustainability officer Chaye Cabal-Revilla.

What to do during and after ashfall MORE than an inconvenience, a nuisance, ashfall, which currently plagues Calabarzon and Metro Manila, poses potential health risks. The Department of Health on Sunday told the public to be vigilant about the conditions that may arise after the exposure to volcanic ash, after the Taal Volcano in Batangas spewed an ash column which prompted the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to raise its status to Alert Level 4 (“hazardous eruption” may occur within hours to days).

Volcanic ash consists of very fine particles of rock. According to the US National Weather Service, it is abrasive and corrosive thus can irritate eyes and lungs, cause minor to major damage to vehicles and buildings, contaminate water supplies, disrupt sewage and electrical systems, and damage or kill vegetation. “Ash is different from ordinary house dust. Its sharp, crystalline structure causes it to scratch and abrade surfaces when it is removed by wiping or brushing,” said the International Volcanic

Health Hazard Network. The DOH said exposure to ashfall may result in throat irritation, coughing, bronchitis-like illness, discomfort while breathing, eye irritation, and minor skin problems. The World Health Organization in the Philippines seconded, adding trauma and injuries, skin burns and irritation, and gastrointestinal problems to the adverse effects of volcanic eruptions. PHIVOLCS, WHO, and DOH share the following reminders on what to do during and after ashfall:



• Stay calm and stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. • Wear masks that block small particles of ash— ideally N95 mask or damp cloth. • Wear protective eye gear, especially when going outside. • Close doors and windows of house and car. • Place damp towels or cloth on door opening and other open areas to avoid infiltration. • Keep pets in closed shelter • Avoid low-lying areas and those downwind from the volcano. • Observe traffic notifications and road safety measure. • Listen to news for updates. • Ensure food and water to be consumed are safe. Cover water containers to avoid contamination.

• Wear effective dust mask or wet cloth and goggles before undertaking clean-up operations. • Take caution when walking outside as volcanic ash can be slippery. • Carefully scrape the ash from the roof of house or car to prevent damage. • Moisten the ash with sprinkler, use shovels to remove thick deposits or stiff brooms for lesser amounts. • Keep collected ash in heavy-duty plastic bags or containers, don’t dump in gardens or roadside. • When cleaning inside, open all doors and windows to promote ventilation. • Use soaked cloth or sponge for glass, porcelain, and acrylic surfaces. Those covered with fabrics must be rinsed under running water. • Have the car and air conditioner professionally cleaned. • Ensure water is clean before drinking.

Stay calm and stay indoors unless absolutely necessary during ashfall.

Carefully follow guidelines in cleaning up after ashfall; it is best to wear masks and goggles when cleaning. Photos By Nico Candelario





HE advent of mobile technology and digital services has allowed many to perform tasks or conduct business without moving from one place to another. But other than convenience, using mobile devices to access a variety of services help reduce environmental impacts. Petroleum-fed vehicles are one of the largest sources of carbon emissions in many cities around the world, coming hot at 28.9 percent (in the US in 2017). Every time a person rides a bus, car, motorcycle, ship, airplane, or similar modes of transportation that does not use green energy contributes to greenhouse gas production. “Mobile technology has given consumers the power to accomplish a lot of things literally at their fingertips. Through mobile phones, we can pay our bills, visit the doctor, go to the bank, buy food, go to school, shop for clothes, among other things. By going digital, we could lessen our contribution to greenhouse gas emission and assist in healing our planet,” advised Yoly Crisanto, chief sustainability officer and senior vice president for corporate communications at Globe Telecom. One of the services that many Filipinos have yet to try but which can help save a lot of time, effort, and money is telehealth. KonsultaMD, for instance, gives the public immediate access to a team of skilled and licensed Filipino doctors anytime they need it, whenever they may be. By calling KonsultaMD’s 24/7 hotline (02-7798-8000), anyone may seek medical information through the phone for primary conditions (such as cough, fever, cold, f lu, pink eye/sore eyes, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, rashes, allergies, asthma), maternity, and pediatrics, among others.

Mobile services help reduce environmental impacts Mobile services such as online financial platform GCash allow people to accomplish tasks—send money, pay for goods, etc.—wherever and whenever, thereby lessening contribution to greenhouse gas emission.

No queues, no waiting. Individuals using mobile devices to access a variety of services reduce their environmental impacts.

Wellness center offers integrative medicine A MAKATI-based wellness center ofHeilen Medical Wellness Center on designing treatment plans that infers treatment not to treat sickness, but takes integrative medicine in the Philip- tegrate the latest medical technologies to prevent it before it happens. pines to the next level, as it is focused with time-honored therapies to address all sources of illness at all levels. “As the perfect complementary partner to modern medicine, alternative and integrative healing looks at the core of what makes your body tick. Natural healing sees chronic illness as a characteristic of something being off-balance in your inner body rhythms,” the center said in a statement. Each patient receives an entirely personalized therapy for their complete wellness. Before starting any therapy, the clinicians at Heilen identify the root cause(s) of the patient’s illness. The doctors do not rely on existing diagnoses but search further for the underlying reasons why a patient is sick. They examine patients according to the principles of biological-integrative medicine. This means that one’s personal situation is looked at deeply as a key to recovery. Heilen Wellness Center said innovative medicine and studies suggest that the alternative approach compliments— rather than hinders—the traditional way of handling physiological aging, autoimmune, and degenerative diseases.

Heilen Medical Wellness Center offers integrative medicine that integrate the latest medical techologies with time-honored therapies.

The clinic is located at Upper Basement 111 Paseo de Roxas Bldg. Paseo de Roxas Street cor. Legaspi Street, Legapi Village, Makati City.

ICanServe Foundation holds summit AROUND 2,000 Filipino breast cancer survivors and their families participated in the Silver Linings 2019 Summit organized by ICanServe Foundation at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. “Silver Linings is an opportunity to learn the basics on breast care, breast cancer, wellness, and the like. It also provides a safe, nurturing space to talk about tough issues like grief, depression during cancer, and other topics that are difficult to discuss in a doctor’s clinic, barangay health center, hospital, or even in one’s home,” said ICanServe Foundation founding president Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, a journalist, breast cancer survivor, and patient advocate. The day-long event featured interactive and creatively delivered presentations on various topics to address the different needs of breast cancer patients, their family, friends, and medical support team. Topics discussed during the summit included “How to cope with cancer,” “What is the Cancer Law?” “Breast Cancer 101,” and “Finding the Financial Support You Need,” among others. Free chest X-ray, BMI measurement and consultation with doctors, and other free-

Participants in Silver Linings 2019 Summit showing their painted bags during the Strokes of Hope activity.

bies were also offered during the event. Roche (Philippines), Inc. showed its support by organizing a whole-day commitment exercise, a calligraphy bag painting entitled Strokes of Hope for participants of the Silver Linings 2019 Summit. The commitment exercise was

part of the Roche Oncology “Strong for Someone” advocacy, a multi-stakeholder campaign that provides access to information for cancer patients, caregivers, and their families on disease awareness, treatment solutions, funding sources, and emotional support.

Other services are telephone triage to determine urgency of the situation; reading of, and information on, lab and diagnostic results; health coaching and nutrition counseling; and prescription for over-the-counter medication. Another mobile service is mobile money. While digital finance was intended primarily to promote financial inclusion especially among those who are unbanked, it has started to grow in the Philippines and is fast becoming part of the Filipino lifestyle, according to Globe. Online financial platforms like GCash allow people to send money to another GCash user, buy load, transfer money to a bank and vice versa, pay

bills, pay for goods and services, get a loan, invest, save money, and even help rebuild Philippine forests without traveling since everything can be done through the app. “Mobile operators around the world are doing their best to reduce the impact of climate change through various innovations,” said Crisanto. “We at Globe continue to look for ways to reduce our own carbon footprint while helping consumers, businesses, and industries do the same by using mobile technologies.” Globe actively supports 10 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and combines innovation with the power of collaboration to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

Health in harmony

A manufacturer of health and wellness products utilizes ethically and sustainably sourced herbs to create potent mixtures that provide effective results.

THE Philosophy of Regeneration draws inspiration from “the wuxing” or the Five Elements Theory of China, a ubiquitous concept in traditional Chinese discipline used to explain the interaction between the systems of the body and the way nutrients affect the body. It aims to promote harmony across all five systems of the body: Endocrine system, which is equivalent to Fire; Respiratory system, Metal; Digestive, Earth; Circulatory, Water; and Defense, Wood. This very principle guides Sunrider International—a company that manufactures health, beauty, wellness, and household products—in conceptualizing and creating food supplements. With the help of this, products are ensured all-natural and works with the body to achieve harmony. At the core of the philosophy is the company’s “Nourish + Cleanse = Balance” approach to health, where the proper combination of foods is necessary in order to sustain the body with the right nutrients, and to remove toxins and impurities. This is likened to the concept of Yin and Yang, where keeping the balance between the two results in optimal health. Sunrider International specializes in herbal supplements that offer a lot of benefits, ideal for individuals who want to achieve optimal health and wellness. It currently distributes to a wide market that spans 42 countries. Among Sunrider’s numerous natural products are Sunrider Vitafruit, an herbal drink that contains vitamins C and A that fight free radi-

cals to keep cells healthy; SunBar, an herbal food bar that offers a good source of complex carbs, fiber, and protein for people on the go; and VitaSpray, an herbal formula that provides a quick and easy way in just one spray to get vitamin B12 and minerals, among others. According to the company, an integral component in the development of its supplements is its expertise in formulation and concentration. Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, Sunrider’s unique manufacturing process allows the company to extract all the beneficial nutrients from herbs and collect them into concentrated amounts to maximize their health benefits. The company’s secret manufacturing process was developed by its founder and chairman, Dr. Tei-Fu Chen, using his experience as a pharmacist and his knowledge of herbs that have been passed down to his family from one generation to the next. To ensure that mixtures are as potent as possible, Sunrider sources herbs only from the best producers all over the world. The herbs the company uses are also sustainably produced and ethically sourced. Its products are easily absorbed and all-natural, meaning there are no artificial flavors, food coloring, additives and extenders, preservatives, and other chemicals that are harmful to the body especially in the long run. Sunrider offers a catalogue of supplements distributed through a multilevel marketing model. Go to its official Facebook page to know more.


tuesDAY, JANuARY 14, 2020


#LoveThrowback3 at the PICC E

lla May Saison, Luke Mejares, Nina, Juris, and Ito Rapadas of Neocolours join forces for the very first time in the third  installment of the highly anticipated annual#LoveThrowback Valentine concert franchise set to happen on Feb. 15 (Saturday, 8:30 p.m.) at  the PICC Plenary Hall.  

Ella May Saison

Luke Mijares

Directed and conceptualized by Calvin Neria, this musical spectacle documents a delicious sampling  of  the  most  romantic  Filipino  love  songs  that have defined the love stories of generations of  countless Filipinos. #LoveThrowback3 shall take audiences to a roller coaster musical journey that  will revive the hurts, joys, defeats, triumphs, bitterness, and sweetness of falling in love.  With  Marc Lopez  as  musical  director,  loyal  fans and music aficionados alike could look forward to an unforgettable evening of beautiful music as the stellar cast of the show perform live their  greatest  hits  such  as  Ella  May’s  soulful  classics  like “Till My Heartache Ends” and “If The Feeling Is Gone;” Luke Mejares’ unparalleled versions  of “Kahit Kailan” and “Love Of My Life;” Nina’s  stirring  renditions  of  “Someday”  and  “Jelaous;”  Juris’  heart  wrenching  hits  “Di  Lang  Ikaw”  and  “A Love To Last A Lifetime;” and Ito Rapadas’  anthemic  masterpieces  “Tuloy  Pa  Rin”  and  “Maybe,”  among  many  other  iconic  love  songs  that  have  all  become  part  of  the  soundtrack of every person’s love life.  Part  of  the  concert’s  proceeds  will be donated to GASFI (Gig and  the Amazing Sampaguita Foundation, Inc.)—a non-stock and nonprofit  organization  that  promotes  “Twenty  Minutes  at  Bedtime,  Read  With Your Child” in strengthening family ties as a means to spark a child’s love  for learning. GASFI  began  as  a  book  donor  program  that  encourages  and  promotes  bedtime  reading.  The  organization  has  been  instrumental  in  making  books accessible to children in far flung communities with no access to books through volunteers  who help in the promotion of reading. Apart from  this, GASFI also promotes the value of education  through its scholarship program as it currently has  nine college scholars. For  more  information  and  exciting  updates  on #LoveThrowback3,  like  LoveThrowback3  on  Facebook. For tickets, contact TicketWorld  at 891-9999 or 

Ito Rapadas


Iza Calzado, cool talking about baby plans Many ask when Iza Calzado will get  pregnant  after  tying  the  knots  with  her  husband  Ben Wintle  a  year  ago.  People  are  anxious to know since some of her fellow married  actresses are already “infanticipating” like Solenn Heussaff, Max Collins, and Anne Curtis.  To  this,  the  beauteous  Kapamilya  avers,  “I  don’t see it coming this 2020. Perhaps, by 2021 in God’s grace!” According  to  the  talented  star,  there  are  reasons  behind  this  decision. She is postponing any baby plans to the year after next  due to her work commitments. She said she’s still committed to  doing various projects.  “Ben’s sister is also getting married. We really have to move  my pregnancy to a later stage. I already received word that finally,  cameras  will  soon  start  grinding  for  my  next  film  under  Star  Cinema. This early, I’m so excited. Apart from that, I still have  another film to shoot. So, I’ll let all these pass first before I would  concentrate on my own pregnancy,” she adds. Iza  and  Ben  are  married  for  more  than  a  year  now.  They  exchanged  “I  do’s”  on  Dec.  19,  2018.  It  can  be  remembered 

that it was a solemn beach wedding at the Club  Paradise in Coron, Palawan.  In  line  with  the  celebration  of  their  first  year together as husband and wife, the highlycompetent  actress  posted  a  heart-warming  message on Instagram which read: “A  year  in  and  I  am  more  in  love  with  you  than  ever. Through  life’s  ups  and  downs,  through  my  crazy  tantrums, you have stayed by my side. Thank you for being  my partner in life and for accepting me for who I am while  encouraging and supporting me to bloom into the best version  of myself.” “May we always remember this moment when God made  His presence and blessing felt by giving us the most beautiful  day and lighting ever. As we said on that day, together we are  unbreakable. Happy Anniversary, my love. Here’s to the first  of many,” the post continues. As she looks back to the past year, Iza reveals she has learned  to take care of herself more. She says she’s I’m still learning.  “I mean, I get tired, I push myself, my body too hard and  then it breaks down. So I think, it’s one of the biggest lessons  that 2019 has taught me.” The past year had been good to the amiable actress. “Definitely,  I’ve  many  blessings  to  thank  for  in  2019!  Of  course,  there’s  the  list  of  movies  which  I  did.  It  started  with Pandanggo sa Hukay, then Culion, which was an entry to  the  recently-concluded  MMFF.  I  also  finished  a  project  opposite Alfred Vargas and Shaina Magdayao which is to be shown this 2020.  “I also did an iWant series which is about to be shown soon.  I also got busy with She Talks Asia and a grassroots program  with postpartum mothers. I’m also very happy that my loved  ones and I were all in excellent health in 2019. It was indeed a  fruitful year for me,” ends Iza. *** Rayver Cruz assures that there’s no awkwardness between  him and Matteo Guidicelli. In fact, he even congratulated the  latter for his one-year-old engagement to Sarah Geronimo.  As everyone knows, Rayver is Sarah’s former boyfriend.  “For sure, I’ll get invited to their wedding. And when Matt  invites me, I will attend,” says Rayver. There’s no problem if it happens that he is Sarah’s former  flame. “It’s already a thing of the past. We were both very young  then. Matt and I don’t feel awkward whatsoever. You can ask  him. We’re friends for a long time already.” The actor has not seen the couple together or bumped into  them in public. But whenever he sees Sarah, they say hi to each  other talk casually. “We’re  fine.  The  issue  between  us  is  ages  ago.  I’m  happy  for  Matt  and  Sarah  and  I’m  very  happy  as  well  with Janine  (Gutierrez).  That’s  what  matters,  everybody’s  happy, right?” states Rayver. 

LANDIAN UNDER THE SUN. Actress Iza Calzado last

month wittily captioned a photo she posted on Instagram with husband Ben Wintle frolicking on a beach in Culion.

Extra International... From C4

Serena plays for charity athletes like Lewis Hamilton, tennis players Ashleigh Barty, Maria Sharapova, and Novak Djokovic, and  cricketers—including  Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell —offered  to donate their winnings. On  Wednesday,  organizers  of  the  Australian  Open  said  Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Rafael Nadal will headline a charity match ahead of the tournament. $1m for ‘baggy green’ Many celebrities will auction clothes:  Williams  is  donating  a  signed  dress,  while British actor and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge announced her Golden  Globes  suit  would  be  auctioned  off,  and Shane Warne  sold  his  baggy  green cap to an anonymous bidder for  AUS$1 million. Kylie contributes American  stars—including  Kylie Jenner,  singers  Pink, Lizzo, and Shawn Mendes, talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres, and actor Patricia Arquette—all pledged  to contribute to relief efforts. Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental  group,  Earth Alliance,  also said it was giving US$3 million. Rocket Man Elton John  announced  during  a  performance  on  Tuesday  he  would  donate $1 million, and Metallica said they  would  give  $500,000  to  the  county’s fire service. Celebrities such as Margot Robbie, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, and Selena Gomez  also  announced  they had donated but declined to state  how much. AFP

British actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the suit she will auction for Australian relief efforts

Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental group, Earth Alliance, said it was giving $3 million

Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban have urged people to donate to efforts.

Nickie Wang, Issue Editor




A sweet victory for Martin del Rosario at Asian TV Awards


Australian actor Chris Hemsworth said he would donate AUS$1 million

Big stars dig deep for Australian bushfire relief SOCIAL media stars and sporting champions are splashing the cash for Australian bushfire relief efforts and urging fans to do the same. Twenty-six people have died since the start of the disaster in September, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed, and some eight million hectares (80,000 square kilometers) has burned -- an area roughly the size of Ireland or South Carolina. Aussie A-listers donate Australian Marvel actor Chris

Hemsworth said he would donateAUS$1 million, singers Kylie and Danni Minogue pledged AUS$500,000 to the country’s rural firefighters, a donation matched by Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban. Compatriots including Russell Crowe—who used his Golden Globe win to speak about the tragedy— and Rebel Wilson have pledged donations, with singer Dami Im also donating. Continued on C3

ABS-CBN, most watched network nationwide in 2019 Angel Locsin starrer 'The General's Daughter' was one of the toprating programs in 2019 according to ratings data provider Kantar Media.

MEDIA giant ABS-CBN is still the top choice of Filipinos in the country for vital news stories and timely, familyoriented programs as it logged an average audience share of 44 percent for 2019, versus GMA’s 31 percent, based on data from Kantar Media. Kapamilya shows secured nine slots in the top 10 list of most watched programs in 2019 with FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano (36.9 percent) still ruling nationwide. This was followed byThe Voice Kids (33.5 percent) and The General’s Daughter (31.5 percent). Other ABS-CBN programs that emerged as the favorite of Filipino viewers include World of Dance Philippines (31.4 percent), Search for the Idol Philippines (29.1 percent),Ngayon at Kailanman (28.7 percent), Parasite Island (28.6 percent), TV Patrol (28.2 percent), and Starla (26.6 percent). Meanwhile, ABS-CBN won across all territories in 2019, especially in Mega Manila where it earned an average audience share of 36 percent, in contrast to GMA’s 31 percent, and in Metro Manila where it garnered 42 percent, beating GMA’s 25 percent. ABS-CBN was also victorious in Total Luzon with 40 percent, compared to GMA’s 33 percent; in Total Visayas with 54 percent, versus GMA’s 24

percent, and in Total Mindanao with 51 percent, while GMA only logged 28 percent. ABS-CBN also became triumphant across all time blocks, particularly in primetime where it registered an average audience share of 47 percent, versus GMA’s 31 percent. The primetime block is the most important time of the day when most Filipinos watch TV and advertisers put a larger chunk of their investments in to reach more consumers effectively. The Kapamilya network was also the most watched in the morning block (6:00 a.m. to 12:00 nn) with an average audience share of 37 percent, compared to GMA’s 28 percent; in the noontime block (12:00 nn to 3:00 p.m.) with 44 percent, beating GMA’s 31 percent, and in the afternoon block (3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.) with 46 percent, versus GMA’s 32 percent. Multinational audience measurement provider Kantar Media uses a nationwide panel size of 2,610 urban and rural homes that represent 100 percent of the total Philippine TV viewing population.

HE new year is looking more like a good year for actor Martin Del Rosario. On Saturday night, the 27-year-old GMA Network star walked home bagged the trophy for Best Leading Male PerformanceDigital at the 24th Asian Television Awards for his stellar performance in the series, Born Beautiful. Held at Resorts World Manila, Pasay City, Martin expressed his gratitude to his management GMA Network, the producer of the digital series, its director, and his family who witnessed him accepting the award. “I would like to thank the Asian TV Awards for this recognition and to all the people behind our series, Born Beautiful, to Cignal Entertainment and to my director, Percy Intalan, and direk Jun Lana. Thank you for the big break, thank you for this opportunity,” he told the crowd. ‘‘I told myself that to be nominated is already enough... to be recognized all around Asia along with these beautiful and brilliant actors. But the biggest blessing for me is to be able to represent my country, the Philippines. So, Mabuhay,” he ended his speech. In an interview with Manila Standard shortly after bagging the coveted trophy, the actor said he did not expect to win as it was the first time he got nominated at ATA, or in an international awards show, for that matter. “It’s a sweet victory for me. Born Beautiful is one of my most challenging projects. It’s 12 episodes so it’s like you’re filming 12 films. Not to mention the physical transformation that I had to go through from shaving off my entire body to wearing big gowns and high heels,” he shared. While winning an acting award can be a great source of IN CHARACTER. Martin del Rosario inspiration to improve as Barbs, a makeup artist who can make someone’s skills, the dead look like celebrities, in the according to Martin, digital series directed by Percy Intalan. awards should serve as a motivation to constantly seek improvement and not an ultimate goal for all actors. “Awards are not really a validation that you’re good at what you’re doing, but they serve as a motivation, an inspiration to improve my craft. There are times that you’re not sure whether or not you’re doing okay. This kind of award serves a reminder that you’re still doing great,” he expressed. Meanwhile, Karylle and Diana Zubiri represented Mystified when it won in the Best Single Drama or Telemovie category. The digital series that streams on iflix also stars Iza Calzado and Sunshine Dizon. GMA-7’s Barangay 143 was another entry from the Philippines that won in its category. The animated series won in the Best Theme Song category for “Alanganin,” performed by Kris Lawrence and Krizza Neri. Actor Mark Neumann served as one of the hosts along with ANC’s Cathy Yang as well as Thai actress Ase Wang and Singapore media personality Wallace Ang. Businessman Manny V. Pangilinan was the recipient of the Award For Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television during the Asian Television Awards 2020. The performers include Indonesiaborn recording artist and Asia’s Got Talent judge Anggun, K-pop girl group Cherry Bullet, and Vietnamese singer Hoang Yen Chibi. Filipino artists

Diana Zubiri poses at the lobby of Newport Performing Arts with the trophy for Best Single Drama or Telemovie for the digital series 'Mystified.'

Martin Del Rosario won the Asian Television Awards' Best Leading Male PerformanceDigital prize for his stellar acting in the series 'Born Beautiful.'

included in the lineup are Martin Nievera, Gab and Kiana Valenciano, Jona, Morisette, Kris Lawrence, and 4th Impact. Here are the winners of the 24th Asian TV Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role: William Hsieh for First Love Best Actress in a Leading Role: Tisanart Sornsuek of True Life of a Drama Queen Best Direction (Fiction): Jeevan Nathan of Avenue 14 Cable/Satellite Network of the Year: Line Company Thailand Terrestrial Broadcaster of the Year: China Global Television Best Host/Presenter—Digital: Panirin Tumwattana of Little Nirin Best Entertainment Presenter/Host: Alana Nichols of Follow Alana Award For Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television: Manny Pangilinan Best Adaption of an Existing Format: Masterchef Junior Thailand Season 1 Best Reality Show: My Kitchen Rules Australia Award for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television Performing Arts: Anggun Best Original Digital Drama Series: The Deadline Best Digital Fiction Programme/Series: Social Syndrome Best Leading Male Performance—Digital: Martin del Rosario for Born Beautiful Best Leading Female Performance—Digital: Chanya McClory for The Deadline Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Attaphan Poonsawat of The Gifted Best Actress in Supporting Role: Anyarin Terethananpat of Loop of Vengeance Best Single Drama or Telemovie: Mystified Best Drama Series: Skycastle Best Theme Song: “Alanganin” by Kris Lawrence and Krizza Neri for Barangay 143

Asian Television Awards host Mark Neumann (center) with co-hosts Wallace Ang (right) and Ji Xiaojun

Profile for Manila Standard

Manila Standard - 2020 January 14 - Tuesday  

The digital edition of Manila Standard: A nationally circulated newspaper published daily in the Philippines since February 1987.

Manila Standard - 2020 January 14 - Tuesday  

The digital edition of Manila Standard: A nationally circulated newspaper published daily in the Philippines since February 1987.