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‘Bakwit‘: From flight to plight Residents seek access to no-go zones despite threat of ‘big bang’ eruption By MJ Blancaflor

VOL. XXXIII • NO. 336 • 3 SECTIONS 16 PAGES • P18 THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020 • •


UTHORITIES were struggling Wednesday to keep thousands of evacuees from returning to homes in areas threatened by a feared massive eruption of Taal Volcano. Some 40,000 people have taken refuge in shelters since the volcano let loose a towering burst of ash and jets of lava on Sunday. Police subsequently set up no-go zones and mandatory evacuations in at-risk towns around Taal, which is about 65 kilometers south of Manila. But days later locals are losing patience and demanding access, even as the nation’s seismological agency warns the volcano could unleash a more powerful eruption at any time. Cavite became the second province after Batangas to declare a state of calamity following the eruption as ash continued to blanket homes and farms, including its famed coffee and pineapple plantations. In a radio interview, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla said the provincial board passed Resolution No. 1389Next page

BAREFOOT BUT BRAVE. Highly strung evacuees trudge along the heavily silted muddy road towards Tanauan City (above) after unloading their valuables, while edgy residents at the foot of Taal (inset left) unload their belongings from an outrigger canoe while the volcano spews ash as seen from Tanauan on Monday. Elsewhere, in Laurel town, residents clean their mud-covered roofs of their homes (inset right)—with authorities warning Wednesday there might be hazardous eruption in the next few days. Joey Razon with AFP

EAGER EVACUEES. Distressed residents (from left) of Barangay Sampaloc, Talisay Batangas are worried sick and shooting bullets in a gym, as are those evacuated at the PUP campus in Santo Tomas, Batangas from Barangay Banadera, while evacuees from other towns affected by the eruption rest at an evacuation center in Tanauan town, also in Batangas. AFP

Deadly calm: Taal in mind, Duterte wants Main crater lake calamity-proof evac centers drained of water ByandMJMacon Blancaflor Ramos-Araneta By Rio N. Araja

SPEWING STEAM. Taal volcano spews steam as an ashcovered village and vegetation are seen in Laurel town, Batangas on Wednesday. Authorities are struggling to keep thousands of evacuees from returning home in areas threatened by a feared massive eruption of Taal. Inset, PHIVOLCS Undersecretary Renato Solidum points at the monitor as he gives updates on Taal eruption, during a news conference at PHIVOLCS office in Quezon City. Manny Palmero with AFP

Horse sense: Rescuing a livelihood THE horses were still caked in grey ash as they stepped off the boat, lucky beneficiaries of a risky rescue mission to ground zero of the Philippines’ Taal volcano eruption. Their owners are among many small operators who rely on the modest money generated by the beasts ferrying tourists up the volcano, a popular attraction ringed by a sweeping lake. But when Taal exploded to life on Sunday afternoon the community, who own hundreds of steeds on volcano island, had to flee without their prized

livestock and most of their possessions. “Our lives are in our horses, they’re how we make our living,” owner Alfredo Daet, 62, told AFP on Tuesday after bringing three of his four animals to the mainland. “We love our horses... that’s why we wanted to save them,” he added. The creatures can generate $7 each per trip up to the stunning panoramic views above the volcano’s main crater, a significant sum in a nation where millions survive on less than $2 a day. Next page

Kuwait deployment ban in effect NEWS A2

A DESTRUCTIVE and deadly eruption could still be in the works even though Taal Volcano appeared calm on Wednesday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. “The explosive eruption scenario, and this is the scenario we have been preparing for together with the Batangas Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office, is still possible simply because… we still have a lot of earthquakes and ground deformation within the area,” PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum said in an interview on ANC Headstart. The agency also said the volcano’s continued activity has drained its main crater lake of water, as seen in new satellite images and drone video footage.p Mariton Bornas, chief of PHIVOLCS’ Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, said the dried lake was related to the movement of magma up the volcano, but said it was not a sign Next page

WITH evacuees of the Taal Volcano eruption in mind, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the construction of additional evacuation centers that can withstand calamities as strong as Super Typhoon “Yolanda” before his term ends in 2022. At the Taal situation briefing in Batangas City on Tuesday night, the

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has conceded he will not be able to fulfill his promise to increase the wages of public school teachers, saying the government does not have enough funds.

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PRESIDENTIAL PRESENCE. President Rodrigo Duterte leads Tuesday in distributing family food packs to victims of the Taal Volcano eruption during his visit at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum. Presidential Photo

No money for teachers’pay hike —Rody By MJ Blancaflor

President said the government should give priority to the establishment of the shelters in calamity-prone areas such as Western Visayas. “You build a very strong evacuation center. Not as strong as the Titanic and then saying that even God cannot sink this ship because God will really destroy your evacuation center,” Duterte said. “Just have something really strong

“The teachers are shouting. That cannot be. I don’t have that big money,” President Duterte said Tuesday during a meeting with Cabinet officials in Batangas. On June 16 last year Education Secretary Leonor Briones said it was not true she was against increasing the salary of public school teachers. Next page

‘ICC serves as a forum to discredit Duterte’ NEWS A2




ICC a forum to smear Du30—Palace M By MJ Blancaflor

ALACAÑANG on Wednesday insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte could not face trial at the International Criminal Court following the withdrawal of one of the communications that linked him to crimes against humanity.

bato, Arturo Lascañas, Cezar Mancao II and Mary “Rosebud” Ong. “They are all reasons for the need for a stronger law that would impose heavier penalties on lying witnesses―including public officials and employees who may be behind them,” he said. Panelo’s statement came a day after Sabio withdrew his communications to the ICC―a move which has no impact on the ongoing preliminary examination of the court to determine if it has jurisdiction over the matter, its Office of the Prosecutor said. The prosecutor’s office also said they were obliged to register whatever information they received. In response, Panelo said the ICC must “wake up from its stupor if not ignorance.” Duterte had repeatedly said that the ICC had no jurisdiction over him, arguing that the Rome Statute―the treaty that established the ICC―was not enforceable in the country. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started

a preliminary examination of Sabio’s allegations in February 2018. Weeks later, Duterte announced the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC, which took effect in March 2019. Sabio claimed he withdrew his communication because he did not want to be part of the “political propaganda” waged by the members of the opposition such as Senator Leila de Lima and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. “Put simply, the complaint against President Duterte, orchestrated by Trillanes, is part of the vilification campaign relentlessly pursued by the incorrigible detractors as well as the political opposition totally repudiated by the electorate, Panelo said. He surmised that Trillanes “must be squirming in his disgraced retirement by Sabio’s turnabout.” “Lies can only be sustained for sometime. When conscience haunts and torments the peddler, it melts by the heat of truth, Panelo said. With Rey E. Requejo and Macon Ramos-Araneta

“It should realize by now that it is being used by disgruntled and discredited persons to advance their goal of besmirching the reputation of President Duterte and achieving their impossible dream of bringing down the Duterte presidency, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said. “Moreover, it should recognize the unalterable legal fact that it has no jurisdiction over the President, and for that matter, the Philippines.” “Lawyer Jude Sabio was not pressured by Malacañang nor paid by anyone in the administration to withdraw the communication he filed in 2017 against Duterte be-

fore the ICC,” a source said. According to lawyer Larry Gadon, Sabio decided to withdraw the complaint against Duterte after he realized it was all “part of the political propaganda” of the opposition to besmirch the reputation of the President. “Malacañang has nothing to do with this. President Duterte does not even mind this case. He has even withdrawn the country from the ICC last year,” Gadon said. Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday underscored the need for heavier penalties against lying witnesses like lawyer Jude Sabio, Peter Joemel “Bikoy” Advincula, Rodney “Ninja Cop” Baloyo, Edgar Mato-

Escape from Iraq: OFWs arrive home

Deployment ban on Kuwait takes effect, DOLE says

SOME 13 Filipino repatriates from Baghdad and Erbil arrived in Manila on Wednesday afternoon, days after tensions rose in the region and the Philippine government ordered a mandatory evacuation in Iraq. The Department of Foreign Affairs said the first group from Baghdad, which comprises seven adults and two minors, was supposed to arrive yesterday but was initially held by Iraqi immigration officials at the Baghdad International Airport for “baseless allegations of visa fraud.” The second group, on the other hand, is composed of four adults from Erbil, a city located north of Baghdad. Both groups will be transiting Doha, Qatar before arriving in Manila. Alert Level 4 or mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq was raised on Jan. 8 due to growing security threats in the Middle East. At present, the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs is coordinating the repatriation of distressed Filipinos abroad. “The repatriates arriving today comprise the first batch of Filipinos coming home after the government ordered mandatory repatriation,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said. She said more Filipinos from affected areas were expected to come home before long. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier announced that the DFA is deploying rapid response teams to the Middle East, especially to Iraq and Iran, to help facilitate the repatriation of Filipinos in the region. Asked about the number of Filipinos scheduled for repatriation in the coming weeks, DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez said the Embassy is still on the process of “seeking requests for repatriation.” PNA

Horse... From A1

Scores of other farm animals on the island, like cows and goats, were killed in the eruption. In returning to the island, now blanketed in a deep layer of fine volcanic ash, the men defied a mandatory evacuation order and risked their lives. Still safe to eat Meanwhile, the Department of Health said fruits and vegetables covered with ash from Taal Volcano were still safe to eat as long as these were washed properly, adding unlike animals, these could not ingest toxins from the volcano. Taal Volcano’s unrest has left P577.4 million in initial damage to farming, including some 2,700 hectares of farmland and almost 2,000 animals, said the Department of Agriculture. Almost all the crops of Lemery, Batangas overlooking Taal are set to go to waste due to ash, Mayor Larry Alilio said. There are also no available vehicles to evacuate the livestock of local hog and poultry raisers, he said. In neighboring Laurel town, the ash killed tilapia in fishponds, a top source of livelihood of the town, said Mayor Joan Amo. At the same time, tourism businesses in areas affected by Taal Volcano’s activity were advised to temporarily suspend operations as a hazardous eruption is still being expected within hours to days, according to the Department of Tourism on Wednesday. “The health, safety, and welfare of our workers and tourists remain a top priority at this time as authorities have not downgraded the advisory on an imminent eruption,” it said in a statement. The DOT asked stakeholders to cooperate to avoid “serious consequences that may result from irresponsible behavior during this natural disaster.” Catastrophic eruption Authorities have warned a stronger, potentially catastrophic eruption could come at any time, yet that has not stopped multiple groups of desperate locals from making the trip. AFP

By Rey E. Requejo LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said the ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait was effective immediately as per the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte. “Pursuant to that directive of the president, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration issued a resolution suspending the deployment of our OFWs to Kuwait, which will cover all,” Bello said. He made the statement even as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday he favors a total ban on the deployment of Filipino domestic helpers to Kuwait following the death of Jeanalyn Villavende. “But it’s really up to the DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment]. They’re discussing it now,” Guevarra said in a text message. The Philippine government has ordered

‘Bakwit’:... From A1 2020 on Wednesday to allow the local government to tap its calamity funds. One of the “bakwits” or evacuees, Melvin Casilao, said he and his neighbors in the town of Talisay need to feed their livestock, remove the thick ash from their roofs and pull their boats from the water. Their community is on the shore of a vast lake that rings Taal, a popular tourist attraction despite being one of the nation’s most active volcanoes. “We want to visit our houses and clean the roofs. They are smothered in thick ash and they could collapse,” Casilao said. “We left everything apart from what we’re wearing,” said Robert Cadiz, a 47-year-old fisherman among some 30,000 who took refuge in shelters. “We were terrified.” Gerald Aseoche, 30, who left with his four young children and a few possessions, has missed work to stay with them as the volcano belches out lava, and earthquakes tied to the eruption rattle the region. “I am hoping this won’t go on too long because I will lose my job if I can’t report to work immediately,” Aseoche, a house painter, told AFP at an evacuation center. Soldiers have been deployed at checkpoints in some areas, including Talisay, with police officer Sarah Jane Saballa saying: “It’s for the safety of the residents.” People around Taal had to leave at a moment’s notice, so many fled with just the clothes on their back. More than 4,000 schools across much of Luzon were closed, halting education for 5.2-million children, the Department of Education said. And almost 40,000 people from the Taal area were living in 198 evacuation centers with no timetable for going home—and many never will. “Farmers already lost everything to the ash. They cannot return to the volcano island, so they have to be relocated,” party-list Rep. Lawrence Fortun said. As the volcano has calmed slightly in the past 24 hours and is spewing less ash, the temptation to return has grown. Seismologists have noted a string of earthquakes and fissures opening up in roads, indicating magma is still on the move and Taal remains very dangerous.

Taal... From A1 that can withstand the...What’s the strongest then? Yolanda, yes,” he added. The President said the evacuation centers should accommodate large numbers of evacuees where comfort rooms for men and women are segregated. “It’s going to be like something 10 rooms for the women and 10 rooms for the children but separate and far from each other—at the other end,” Duterte added. He also said the evacuation centers that will be built in Mindanao should have separate kitchens for Muslims and Christians. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte echoed the President’s call for the construction of permanent evacuation centers. Gatchalian said it would avoid taking a toll of students and teachers whose schools were being used as evacuation centers, and Villa-

a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following reports that Villavende was sexually abused and tortured before she was killed. The death of Villavende had initially prompted the government to implement a partial deployment ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait, particularly the first-time household service workers. Guevarra said the Philippine government had already entered into an agreement with the Kuwaiti government after the deaths of several Filipinos in the Gulf state, including Joanna Demafelis, who was found dead in a freezer in 2018. The agreement was intended to provide protection to Filipino workers in Kuwait. It also provides that the Filipinos there should have a day off and at least seven hours of sleep daily, and their passports free from confiscation by their employers. Guevarra said the Philippine government will

see how Kuwait acts on Villavende’s killing. “If they don’t comply with their undertakings or responsibilities under the government-to-government agreement, talagang in my opinion, ‘di naman Kuwait lang ang pwede mo puntahan,” Guevarra said in a news forum in Manila. “Marami pa namang ibang lugar na pwede ka magtrabaho. Why go to a country where you are disrespected, where you are abused?” Nonetheless, Guevarra acknowledged that incident like the case of Villavende were also happening elsewhere. An autopsy report by the National Bureau of Investigation showed that Villavende died of “multiple, severe, traumatic injuries.” It also shows signs she had been sexually abused. Guevarra said he expected to receive the laboratory results that may conclusively say if Villavende had been raped. With Vito Barcelo

However, some areas have made concessions, allowing people in for short periods, despite the risks. “These are residents appealing to us to allow them to feed their pets,” said Gerry Malipon, San Nicolas town police chief. “But after they’ve fed them, they will have to leave as soon as possible.” The number of families affected by the volcanic activity continued to climb. In its 6 a.m. Wednesday update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that the calamity has so far affected 12,486 families or about 53,000 people. This was significantly higher than the 10,455 families in its earlier update. The report was signed and released by NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad. More than 43,000 people are taking temporary shelter in 217 evacuation centers, it said. The NDRRMC added that the affected families came from 24 towns and three cities in Batangas, four towns and one city in Cavite, and one town in Laguna. The Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Health have so far provided P4.97 million in assistance to the affected families. President Rodrigo Duterte declared that no one should live on Taal Volcano island, which is part of the 14-kilometer danger zone identified by authorities after the eruption Sunday afternoon. The President approved the recommendation of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña during the situation briefing on Tuesday night attended by Cabinet members and Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed concern that many people might die if the government did not evacuate everyone on the island. “I strongly believe and recommend that we strictly implement the suggestion or recommendation that Taal island will be declared a no man’s land. Don’t let the people go back. In case there is a more violent explosion, the people there will perish on that island,” Lorenzana said during the briefing. He later told Palace reporters that Interior Secretary Eduardo Año would carry out the President’s orders in cooperation with local officials of Batangas. Duterte assured Mandanas that the national

government would assist in rebuilding houses destroyed by the eruption. During the briefing, the President also said he was satisfied with the government response on Taal’s eruption, noting their timely intervention ensured public safety and prevented loss of lives. The Office of Civil Defense in Calabarzon reported that the first casualty due to Taal eruption was 65-year-old woman who died of a heart attack while evacuating from Talisay on Monday. After the briefing, Duterte went to the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex, which houses hundreds of displaced families, and handed over P11 million in livelihood assistance to the farmers and fishermen affected by Taal’s eruption. The financial assistance extended by the President came from the Department of Agriculture’s budget, according to a press statement from the Palace. The President also led the ceremonial distribution of family food packs to five families there. Duterte assured them that the government has the resources to extend help to those in need. “I am here to help you and all those affected by eruption. And I will do everything so Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and other provinces will go back to normal,” he said in a speech. Communities affected by crisis like a typhoon or earthquake must immediately get back to normalcy, he said. During his visit, he also jested that he wanted to hug all the beautiful leadies in the evacuation center. “I want to hug all of you but you are so many. Maybe just the pretty girls there,” Duterte said, drawing laughter from the crowd. Duterte also said that people in Taal should make an offering to the deities of volcano to prevent another eruption. “Maybe you have failed to make some offerings there. You should go there and say a little prayer and offer something. Let’s go by the primitive way of doing it just like what our forefathers would do it. You make some offerings. It was true then but it might be true now,” he said. Taal Volcano started spewing ash on Sunday, which prompted the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to raise Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, which means a “hazardous eruption is possible within days.” With AFP

fuerte said they must be built in places highly vulnerable to natural calamities. Senator Panfilo Lacson, however, lamented the reported overpricing and ghost deliveries involving calamity funds despite President Duterte personally supervising the government’s anti-corruption campaign. During the briefing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the President that the government has a standard model for evacuation centers approved by the Cabinet last year. The President reminded Cabinet members not to initiate projects that cannot be completed before his term ends. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, said they have issued a list of essential medicines under automatic price freeze in all areas affected by Taal’s eruption. He said the DOH received reports of individuals and establishments that hoard and sell essential commodities at jacked up prices. Duque said the mandate of the Department of Health to protect the Filipino people against life-threatening situations, including those that

prevent them from seeking the right and adequate products and services when they need it the most. “It is abhorrent that there are people who take advantage of public emergencies and profit at the expense of our suffering of countrymen,” said Duque. He said the price freeze covers maintenance medicines and essential drugs including analgesics, anti-allergics, anticonvulsants, antiseptics, antidotes, and antibiotics, among others. The DOH and the Department of Trade and Industry have also recommended to the Office of the President the imposition of price ceilings on N95 and disposable face masks, nebulizers and nebulization kits, oxygen cannulas, and safety goggles. On Tuesday, the President and his aide Senator Christopher Go visited an evacuation center in Batangas City where 1,214 families affected by the volcano’s eruption were taking refuge. Together with other key officials, the President led the discussion on how to address and mitigate issues that the country is currently

Deadly... From A1 The lake’s waters had receded and dried up portions of Pagsipit River, the lake’s only drainage outlet, owing to the continious volcanic earthquakes, Bornas said at a press briefing on Wednesday. This indicated a rise or “uplifting” of the Taal region. “It’s possible that the cracks seen in Lemery [in Batangas province] go straight to Talisay [the town near the lake]. There could be underwater fissures on the floor of the lake and water has seeped into them,” she added. In general, this is all related to the ground deformation caused by magma pushing up the volcano, Bornas said. Meanwhile, the local governments of Lemery, Agoncillo, and Laurel in Batangas province shut off their towns on Wednesday amid continued ashfall from Taal’s Sunday eruption. Agoncillo Mayor Daniel Reyes told ABSCBN he ordered a lock down at 1 p.m., while Laurel Mayor Joan Amo closed the area at 5 p.m. Lemery Mayor Eulalio Alilio said the town was placed under lockdown at 6 p.m. except Barangays Gulod, Arumahan, Talaga, Payapa Ilaya, Mayasang, Niugan, and some portions of Brgy. Payapa Ibaba. Paolo Reniva, PHIVOLCS resident volcanologist and Taal Observatory officer in charge, also warned of threats of pyroclastic density currents that could kill people and destroy property along shoreline communities near the volcano island. In an interview over GMA-7’s Unang Balita, Reniva also told residents of Laurel and Agoncillo municipalities that a volcanic tsunami could ensue. “A strong eruption could cause some parts of the volcano to collapse and displace the water in it, then the water would plunge into the shorelines,” he said. Just like the 1965 Taal Volcano eruption, a base surge and volcanic tsunami would affect Laurel and Agoncillo, he added. PHIVOLCS said a hazardous volcanic eruption is when Taal Volcano would exhibit horizontally moving clouds over 60 kilometers per hour. According to Solidum, the occurrence of volcanic earthquakes is the primary parameter in raising the alert level for active volcanoes, such as Taal. A high level of sulfur dioxide cannot be a good gauge if an explosive eruption could happen soon, he added. The quakes and ground fissures in several barangays in Batangas indicated the continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the volcano, he said, While Taal volcano is having a “generally weaker eruption” at the main crater, the cracks within its areas would only mean the volcano is very much active underneath with magma rising, he said. With Francisco Tuyay

No money... From A1

“I have been working with the economic team in the Cabinet to find ways and means to realize a salary increase for DepEd’s close to 830,000 teachers,” Briones said. “Last year, when this was taken up in the Cabinet, the decision was to allow the fourth and last tranche of the SSL this year, and for DBM to come up with a study on how to effect the next salary increase. The next salary increase is presently under discussion,” Briones added Duterte had promised to double the teachers’ wages when he ran for president in 2016. While this has not yet been fulfilled, he recently signed the fifth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law that will provide a staggered wage increase for government workers, including school teachers. Under the newly-signed law, an entrylevel teacher earning P20,754 under salary grade 11 will now take home a monthly pay of P22,316 or an increase of P1,562. In the succeeding years until 2023, the Teacher I salary will increase to P23,877, P25,439 and P27,000. The country’s financial managers had earlier expressed opposition to the proposal to double the salary of teachers. “If there’s money, why not? My mother was a public school teacher. My mother was a retired school supervisor. If only there’s enough money,” Duterte said. The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition had previously said that while the group’s members were “thankful” for the increase in the salaries of government workers, they were also dismayed that the amount was “far” from what they expected, which is a P10,000 across-the-board hike for teachers and other personnel of the Education department. During the briefing, the President also defended his decision to increase the salary of the military and the police, saying they were fewer than teachers and they played a more critical role in helping the country. facing, especially with the possibility of Taal Volcano erupting again soon. The senator also participated in the relief operations and the situational briefing. Go recently filed a bill providing for mandatory construction of permanent evacuation centers in all cities, provinces and municipalities nationwide. “The Philippines is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, attributed primarily to the country’s location. The country is positioned along the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire,’ an area where earthquakes and volcanic activities are more frequent than in any other part of the world,” Go said in his bill. The Department of Education reported that some 7 million students were affected by Taal Volcano’s eruption. In a statement, the DepEd said 7,094,165 students in 7,542 schools belonging to 57 divisions under four regions were affected since classes were suspended in all levels on Monday. With Rey E. Requejo, Macon Ramos-Araneta, Joel Zurbano, and Roy Tomandao



inspect identification at a checkpoint to deter volcanoaffected residents from returning to their homes in Agoncillo town, Batangas on Jan. 15. AFP

RESCUED CATTLE. A cow and its owner walk along a volcanic ash-covered road as they are brought to a safer place by their owners in FOOD LINE. Evacuees from Barangay Sampaloc, in Talisay, Batanngas in a gym in Agoncillo town, Batangas on Jan. 15. AFP PUP Sto. Tomas, Batangas line up during the distribution of food.

MUD EVERYWHERE. This a bird’s eye view of roofs of houses covered with mud, as

Taal Volcano erupts in Laurel town, Batangas on Jan. 15. AFP

Use logbook in transactions, agencies told PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has floated the possibility of requiring all state departments and offices to use a logbook to record their respective transactions in a bid to fast-track the release of government funds, especially after Taal Volcano erupted. He said this after Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado on Tuesday told the local officials of Batangas present during the situation briefing to use their respective calamity funds first before seeking help from the national government. “Can you abbreviate the protocols? Make it easy. For example, if the request is there, you write it on a logbook. Siguro after two or one day, you can release the fund. If it’s there and if it’s for the spending, when there is really need to inquire with their— what are you going to do with the money and how are you spending it,” President Duterte said. The President, who called himself a “very impatient man,” also lamented over the slow government transactions which delay public services, even in times of calamity. “I will require every department, all of you Cabinet members, ask the bureaus to have a logbook,” Duterte said. “Tell them, you write all the things that you need for a particular transaction or paper or document in your office. List it in the logbook when it was submitted. Then, in another logbook or across it, indicate when it was released so I will audit it,” he added. Avisado explained that local government units need to show first that their calamity funds have dried up before seeking help from the national government. “This is our standard in the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] that before the national government gives you help, you need to show that you have spent your funds first,” Avisado said. MJ Blancaflor

EXODUS. Mask-clad residents ride in a jeepney as they evacuate their homes in Laurel town, Batangas on Jan.15. AFP



Communism, drugs hinder PH economy, says Duterte T By MJ Biancaflor

HE Philippine economy’s growth is losing steam because of the perennial problems of illegal drugs and communism in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday. In a speech delivered in Batangas City, the President admitted that he was having difficulty in improving the country’s economy because he was spending most of his time addressing the rampant narcotics trade and the decades-long insurgency in a situation briefing attended by Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas in the wake of Taal Volcano eruption. President Duterte said the only way to further boost the economy is to neutralize all the big-time drug offenders, as well as the members of the communist’s armed wing, the New People’s Army. “I cannot improve the standing of our economy if marami akong kalaban, itong mga droga at itong NPA (if we have so many enemies, the drug personalities and NPA insurgents),” he said during a situation briefing on the effects of the Taal Volcano eruption. Since Duterte assumed office in July 2016 until Nov. 30, 2019, a total of 151,601 legitimate anti-drug operations led to the arrest of 220,728 drug offenders

FISSURE. Motorists maneuver a huge fissure caused by Taal Volcano eruption, along a highway in Lemery town, Batangas on Jan.15. AFP

Drugstores vow not to raise prices of face masks By Othel V. Campos and Macon Ramos-Araneta DRUG and medical stores gave their commitment to the Trade department to keep the prices of N95, surgical, and other similar masks at pre-eruption level as the country faces the effects of the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano. Upon receipt of public reports about the rampant selling of overpriced medical masks in the market, the Department immediately mobilized monitoring teams in the affected areas of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, and Metro Manila to monitor the prices and supply of these products, including prices of basic necessities and prime commodities. Monitoring reports revealed that N95 masks are sold at P120 up to P150 per piece while surgical masks that were priced at P1 per piece were sold at P4 per piece after the Taal eruption. Supplies were mostly sold out due to an increase in public demand as ashfall enveloped nearby cities and provinces

surrounding Taal. “While we recognize that the N95, surgical, and other similar masks as medical supplies are under the jurisdiction of the Health department, the Trade department readily dispersed its teams to monitor the prices and supply of these masks to assist the Health department and the consumers. We understand that its utmost priority is ensuring the lives and health safety of those who are affected by the phreatic eruption. Market surveillance and monitoring is the best form of immediate assistance that the Trade department can provide. As the President constantly underscores, A whole-of-government approach is highly necessary and called for especially during times of calamities and disasters,” said Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez. The Trade department further clarified that these masks are neither classified as basic nor prime good under the Price Act. Therefore, these have no Suggested Retail Prices and were never part of the list of products being monitored by the Health

department or any of the implementing agencies of the said law. However, the Price Act provides that the National Price Coordinating Council in which the Trade and Health departments are part of, can recommend to the President the inclusion of these masks in the list of basic or prime goods. When approved, the NPCC through the recommendation of the Health Department and in consultation with relevant stakeholders can set an SRP, if found necessary. Since stocks of the medical masks are depleted, the Trade department spoke with local suppliers and major drug store chains such as Mercury Drug, Watsons, and Southstar Drug, to ensure that they immediately restock and ensure constant availability of supply in their branches, especially those located in the affected areas. At the interim, current inventory in their branches and warehouses in non-affected areas will be distributed to their stores in CALABARZON and Metro Manila while waiting for the arrival of new stocks.

Meralco restores power in Tagaytay affected by Taal eruption By Alena Mae S. Flores POWER retailer Manila Electric Co. was able to restore some circuits in Tagaytay City affected by the Taal eruption thus reducing the number of affected customers by outages to 122,761 from around 150,000. The Energy department said those affected by the power outages will continue to go down “as the linemen and the other field personnel continue to clean and restore the electricity services.” Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said areas still affected by the eruption as of 10 a.m. Wednesday includes portions of Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao, Calamba, Biñan in Laguna, portions of Talisay in Batangas, portions of Silang, Amadeo, Alfonso, Mendez-Nuñez, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Dasmariñas, Indang, Maragondon, Naic, Trece Martirez in Cavite and portions of Tagaytay City. Batangas I Electric Cooperative Inc. and Batangas II Electric Cooperative Inc., are also working to restore the electricity

services to areas surrounding the Taal Lake. Affected municipalities in the franchise area of BATELEC 1 includes Agoncillo, San Nicolas, parts of Calaca and Lemery, Sta. Teresita, and parts of San Luis with 23,916 households for reconnection. Affected municipalities of BATELEC II includes Tanauan City, Talisay, and Laurel with 19,989 household connections for restoratio. “The Department of Energy [DOE] is closely coordinating with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center [NDRRM], as well as all the members of the energy family for subsequent updates and information pertinent to the status of energy facilities and systems, or any other emerging problem that may affect energy supply in concerned areas,” the agency said. It said state-run National Power Corp. has activated its contingency forces, which handles the close monitoring of power plants’ status and operations, in partnership with the DOE’s Electric

and the deaths of 5,552 drug suspects. In his speech, Duterte reiterated that Batangas remains to be a “red spot” because it still serves as a “sanctuary for a drug personality.” Lashing out anew at drug personalities, Duterte said it would be better to “kill” them since they are already considered as “useless idiots.” “Drugs will destroy my country. I will not allow it, at least not during my term. Drugs will kill the youth of the land,” he said. “A good number of them would be, alam mo ‘pag nabuang sa droga, nabuang na talaga iyan (you know, they will get insane because of drugs). Wala na (They will be useless),” the President added. Meanwhile, NPA insurgents continued to launch attacks against government troops, even after the President in November last year expressed openness to the possible resumption of moribund talks with communists’ political wing, the National Democratic Front.

Power Industry Management Bureau and the Task Force on Energy Resiliency. As of Jan. 15, the department said several plants are running below capacity or derated as they were affected by ash fall. These are Team Energy Corp.’s Pagbilao coal-fired power plant unit 1 and 2, Pagbilao Energy Corp.’s Pagbilao coalfired power plant unit 3, Quezon Power Philippines Ltd. coal-fired power plant, San Buenaventura Power Ltd. coal-fired power plant, KEPCO Ilijan Corp. Ilijan Natural gas-fired power plant Block 1 and Block 2. Meanwhile, grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is implementing contingency measures, as it continues monitoring the effects of volcanic activity of Taal Volcano on transmission facilities. The following transmission lines are still out as of Wednesday, namely BinanCalaca 230kV Line, Calaca-Malamig 230kV Line, Dasmariñas-Ilijan 500kV Line and Tayabas-Dasmariñas 500kV Line.

2 months needed to process prison returnees—DOJ By Rey E. Requejo THE Bureau of Corrections has asked for two months more to complete the processing of the papers of the remaining 410 former prisoners who were prematurely released on account of the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law but opted to surrender upon orders of President Rodrigo Duterte last year, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday. Guevarra said that he had already approved the request of BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag to give them until March to process the remaining 410 returnees due to limited resources. “They said they don’t want to make any mistake again, and DG Bantag is very, very careful,” Guevarra told reporters during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum. “So I said okay. We’ll give you that grace period that you are requesting on one condition. And the condition is during the interim, while these PDLs [persons deprived of liberty] are waiting for you to process their papers, make sure that they are properly fed, they are properly accommodated, and they are safe,” Guevarra said. A total of 2,352 CGTA’s released prisoners returned to BuCor’s custody last year to heed President Duterte’s ultimatum for freed heinous crime convicts to surrender and serve the remainder of their sentences. The PDLs were prematurely released due to misapplication of the GCTA Law. However, BuCor original list of expected surrenderers turned out to contain errors, and many of those who surrendered are apparently qualified for release after all. In a recent report to Guevarra, the BuCor chief said 410 returning PDLs are staying in a covered court at the New Bilibid Prison and 24 are at the Correctional Institute for Women.




Nation-builders, heroes and patriots (Part 3) THIS IS the conclusion of my threepart listing of the greats and near-greats for the decade just past. I begin with Manny Villar, often called the “brown taipan” having been listed as the richest Filipino, He is definitely a nation-builder, hero and patriot for building low-cost and middle-cost housing for Filipinos.

They truly love their country. Together with his wife, Senator Cynthia Villar, he is an advocate of “Sipag at Tyaga”—hard work and perseverance. They have made a name for themselves on mass housing, which is their core business. They have also expanded to retail, water and infrastructure. Villar is the compleat businessman and politician. He became Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President. In 2010 he ran for President; unfortunately, he lost. I recall that at one time, Manny sought me out to seek my advice. He wanted to be Speaker. I told him that the bottom line was money. Santa Banana, he must have taken my advice to heart! Next on my list is lawyer Felipe “Henry” Gozon, part of the triumvirate that bought out Bob Stewart’s Republic Broadcasting System, which became GMA 7. The other two in the triumvirate were Menardo Jimenez and Gualberto Duavit. Soon after taking over the GMA 7 radio-television network, Henry Go-

Adelle Chua, Editor


zon transformed it into a giant network, competing with ABS-CBN. GMA 7 has been rated as the most viewed network by Nielsen. I can believe that. I too prefer to watch GMA 7 when it comes to news. It has no biases, no prejudices and no vested interests to protect. Gozon’s management is legendary. There is also the husband-and-wife team of Lucio and Susan Co. They have both made Puregold a truly national brand. I first met Lucio and Susan when they started their duty-free shop in Clark. Soon, Lucio bought the Philippine Bank of Communications to become chairman. Both he and Susan have remained my good friends. Also on my list is lawyer Alfonso “Boy” Reyno, who partnered with the Ayalas to build a mixed-use complex in the Tayuman district, near Tondo. Boy took over the biggest racing club—the Manila Jockey Club—and relocated it to Carmona, Cavite. Boy is also in online cockfighting which gave birth to the Manila Cockers’ Club, not only for business purposes but to promote cultural gaming. History tells us that cockfighting started in the Spanish colonial days. On the side, I made Boy Reyno chairman-president of the 365 Club which I co-founded with the late Doroy Valencia, the late Makati Mayor Nemesio Yabut, businessman Pat Dayrit, BIR Commissioner Joe Viterbo and Yabut’s assistant, Biding Sibug. The 365 Club, which now holds its meetings at The Holiday Inn and Suites, is still alive and kicking. And then there is Joey Antonio, founder of Century Properties, who succeeded in using prominent names for his developments—Trump Towers, for instance, or Paris Hilton. Joey is blessed with two sons who are now in business with him. The last, and certainly not the least, on my list is George Yang. He revolu-


A perilous position

S SENATORS begin an impeachment trial next week, but from all indications, the Republican Party to which President Donald Trump belongs will use its majority to railroad a speedy acquittal. That is a pity, given the damage Mr. Trump has done—not only to America but to its allies. Mr. Trump was impeached in December last year by the House of Representatives on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Now he is scheduled to be tried by the Senate, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding. Nobody expects the Republican-led Senate to convict Mr. Trump, even though it is clear that he abused his power when he sought to pressure the Ukraine into announcing an investigation into his political rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, by threatening to withhold military aid that the US Congress had already allocated— assistance that was critical, given that Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula and annexed it in 2014, on orders from Mr. Trump’s bosom buddy, President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump’s subsequent refusal to permit any of his subordinates to testify during an investigation, and his refusal to release any pertinent documents related to his pressure campaign on the Ukraine make clear, too, that he

was guilty of obstruction of Congress. None of this matters, however, to the Republican senators headed by Senator Mitch McConnell, who had made it abundantly clear that he does not intend to conduct an impartial trial, and also said he would be coordinating in lockstep with White House lawyers. With no interest in admitting an inconvenient truth, the senator has even refused to allow any new witnesses to be called during the Senate process—surely a mockery of the notion of a trial. All this would be a purely domestic American affair, had it not been for the fact that in between his impeachment and his trial, Mr. Trump ordered the assassination of a top Iranian general in a drone strike in Iraq. Seeking to justify his decision, Mr. Trump merely spoke of an “imminent attack” and later seemed to conjure up a plot to bomb American embassies—a claim nobody else in the intelligence community or the US Defense Department has been able to confirm. Given Mr. Trumps poor track record

in telling the truth, it is apparent that he approved the attack as a way to distract from his impeachment—and to score political points with his base of ignorant and jingoistic supporters. But the unfortunate truth is that Mr. Trump’s rash decision—regardless of how despicable his target of assassination may have been—has consequences, not only for the United States. In the aftermath of the drone strike he authorized, tensions rose worldwide over the possibility of war. When Iran shot down a Ukrainian commercial jet killing all 176 people on board, that was in response to Mr. Trump’s belligerent warnings that he would target Iranian cultural sites if they tried to avenge their general’s death. Closer to home, the Philippines scrambled to launch a massive effort to bring home thousands of Filipino workers in Iraq, whose lives were now in danger—again thanks to Mr. Trump’s rash actions. If, as it seems, Mr. Trump survives his impeachment trial, we can only hope that the American public will finally wake up from its fouryear nightmare and gift the world with a more rational US president that will not put us in such a perilous position.

Turn to A5

So, where are the Americans?

THE country is now facing a twin crisis. First the threat of a full-blown war in the Middle East where over a million of our countrymen are currently working. The second is happening in our own backyard—the impending eruption of Taal Volcano. Whereas before, the Americans have portrayed themselves as our Big Brother, ready to assist us anytime we are in “dire need,” this time, they are nowhere to be found. Of course, in the first case, we can’t expect them to assist us in evacuating Filipinos who could be affected should a full-blown war erupt. After all, it is they who are involved, following their assassination of an Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani last Jan. 3, in Iraq where there are 1,640 Filipinos currently working. Much to the surprise of rabid pro-Americans here, it is the Chinese who have offered to help the Philippines bring home overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East to help them escape a full-blown war that could break out between the United States and Iran. This was confirmed no less by the Chinese Embassy in Manila after Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian received a request from President Rodrigo Duterte for assistance in repatriating OFWs if it becomes necessary. Quoting Ambassador Huang, Liu Yiqun, chief of the Media and Public Relations Department of the Chinese Embassy to the Philippines: “As a close friend of the Philippines, China will, as always, provide necessary assistance to the Philippines in times of need.” On the second issue, that of the Taal Volcano erupting, it’s pretty much different when Pinatubo erupted. Americans were almost on top of the relief and rehab operation in Central Luzon. But of course they had to, as among those greatly affected by Pinatubo’s fury were their bases in Clark and Subic. They had to ensure then that operations not only in both camps returned to normal. Nearby areas also had to be secured as they cater to the needs

of their military camps. But since they no longer have immediate interest at stake in the eruption of Taal Volcano, their help could hardly be felt. And surprisingly, it’s again the Chinese who were quick to the draw to extend assistance. Earlier this week, Chinese Coast Vessel 5204 called port in Manila and delivered relief goods like rice, oil, and N95 masks for evacuees affected by Taal’s volcanic activities.

They no longer have immediate interest at stake. In both instances, the Americans never lifted a finger in assisting us. If ever they had been busy aside from engaging war with other countries, it is demonizing those who have been helping us, particularly China. *** Speaking of Taal Volcano’s unleashing its fury, while government officials, especially from the LGUs, were again caught unprepared by the volcanic eruption (which is really surprising considering Taal has been on Alert Level 1 for months now, it was a good thing there was Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino, a former mayor of Tagaytay City, who readily called an Inter-Agency Coordination Meeting on Monday morning to coordinate all government efforts to cope with the disaster. Being a former chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority during the previous administration and President Rodrigo Duterte’s pointman in man-made and natural disaster which hit the country before, Tolentino is no stranger to the job. To ensure an effective and coordinated action in response to Taal’s eruption, Tolentino made sure of the presence of all agencies involved in the disaster mitigation effort—AFP, DSWD, DOH, DPWH, NDRRMC, local government units of Batangas and Cavite, PHIVOLCS, etc. Nice job, Sen! With the Taal eruption registering zero casualty up to now, we can say all the agencies have been delivering as expected.


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Strong, substantial protection for OFWs LAST week, the remains of the slain Filipina overseas worker arrived in Manila. Jeanelyn Villavende worked as a domestic helper in Kuwait for only five months before her death last December. She died in a hospital from severe injuries after being reportedly beaten by her employer. Local autopsy reports show that prior to her death, she was also sexually abused. Ms. Villavende is just one of the many Filipinas working abroad who suffered and died from the hands of their employers. Every year, tens of thousands of Filipina household service workers are deployed. For many years, the women are the common victims of maltreatment, sexual harassment, poor working conditions, and unfair labor practices. Our OFWs live with that fact.

Former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno Anita F. Grefal Baldwin R. Felipe Edgar M. Valmorida

Board Member & Chief Legal Adviser Treasury Manager Head—Ad Solutions Circulation Manager

Skilled women workers, however, have seldom experienced discrimi-

They are not mere statistics that we rely on for economic growth. nation, abuse, and harassment. The ill treatment is common among household service workers or domestic help workers due to the in-

ferior perception of their foreign employers towards them. It can be recalled in 2018 that the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kuwait for the protection of our OFWs after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a temporary ban on deployment of unskilled workers. This move was triggered by over the discovery of the body of an overfreez seas Filipina worker stored in a freezincreas er in the said country, and the increasing cases of such women suffering from assaults, inhumane treatment, or such horrible death from the hands of their employers. The said agreement ensures that workers are given food, housing, clothing, health insurance, and a mechanism providing 24-hour assistance. The rights of workers to Turn to A5

Rolando G. Estabillo Publisher Ramonchito L. Tomeldan Chin Wong/Ray S. Eñano Joyce Pangco Pañares Adelle Chua

Managing Editor Associate Editors News Editor Opinion Editor

Emil P. Jurado

Honor Blanco Cabie Night Editor Jimbo Gulle City Editor Roberto Cabrera Chief Photographer

Chairman Emeritus, Editorial Board

Opinion War at the CSC INFORMATION has it that the government’s principal watchdog in the implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Law, the Civil Service Commission, is in itself mired in monumental red tape.

If I were these individuals, I would be very careful. The commission en banc, which is supposed to meet every week, has apparently not met in months delaying action on very important official matters involving many current and retired government officials. The reason appears to be that the two associate commissioners who were appointed by the current administration are engaged in an asymmetric war with the chairperson of the commission who was appointed by the last administration. It does not seem to be an open warfare, but it is war nonetheless. The three top officials of the commission are apparently not on talking terms. Even with so many complaints being received, commission work continues to move slowly, if at all. Obviously, this kind of situation cannot go on any longer. Otherwise, one of the signature programs of the President which he is very passionate about will suffer. The tenure of the head of the commission is guaranteed by law but if the conflict continues the way it is, something will have to give. Either the chairperson of the commission or the two associate commissioners will have to go. With the way things stand, it is hard to see the appointees of the current administration leaving their posts notwithstanding the fact that the tenure of the current chairperson is protected. Information coming from inside the commission has it that the current chairperson is a true-blue supporter of the last administration. She was an undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development under Dinky Soliman and used to manage the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Whether the CSC was given to her as a reward for a job well done is anybody’s guess but right now, the CSC is below standard and needs someone to get it moving if the agency wants to maintain its credibility as the watchdog in implementing the Anti-Red Tape Law. It is not known whether the President is aware of the CSC situation but if I were those warring individuals, I would watch out because if they do not, and the President finds out about what they are doing, they would be gone in no time at all regardless whether their tenure is protected or not. *** The rehabilitation of Baguio City appears to be really under serious consideration by the national government.

According to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, it would take three years or more to rehabilitate Baguio City due to the amount of environmental degradation that the city has suffered in its over 100 years of existence. The rehabilitation of Boracay may have been a tremendous success, but it would pale in comparison to the Baguio problem. The Baguio rehab will almost certainly take a lot longer. Clearing the two river systems of the city of coliform alone will be a tough undertaking because of the thousands of houses built along the river banks that are using the water ways as an open sewer. Houses along the Balili and Bued rivers together with those along the creeks do not have septic tanks. This is not the only problem. Rehabilitating the degraded tourist spots will also be a major undertaking. Mines View Park has been invaded by squatters and the sidewalks have all but disappeared, constricting the road. Wright Park also will have to be cleared of squatters. Mirador Hill, the Cathedral Loop and the Baden Powell will also need major clearing and rehabilitation. This is not to mention the work that needs to be done with the uncontrolled squatting on government reservations that is the major cause why pine trees are fast disappearing. In a few more months, the mountain along Marcos highway will be full of houses. The Burnham Park area maybe a little easier to restore and bring back to its former glory but this will require professional planning. The park, even in its degraded state, is still the number one tourist draw of the city. This is the reason why it must be preserved at all costs. Unfortunately, the area near the Baguio City High School is slowly being invaded by unwanted structures. This case is interesting and different considering that the few buildings are not houses but belong to the Lions Club. It started with one club house but now there are three. This began during the time of the late Mayor Luis Lardizabal when he allowed the construction of the first Lions Club building there because he was a member of the club. If the current city government will not look into this situation, before we know it, that area will be full of buildings. Since that is still part of the Burnham Park reservation, those buildings should all be demolished and restored as part of the park as it should be. Why should be the Lions Club be given any special treatment? This goes to show how difficult the problem of the city is. Año did not mention the specific scope of the rehab program to be undertaken and the exact role of the local government. Will it just be rehabilitating the river system and the city government the implementor? But just knowing that the national government is seriously considering rehabilitating the city is encouragement enough to the city government, the residents and many tourists who flock to the city. It is time to restore Baguio as truly the summer capital of the country. It will be a huge undertaking but if the government can pull it off, that would be something.

Strong,... From A4

keep their passports and use their mobile phones are also protected. Legal and repatriation assistance shall also be provided by the host country. Sadly, until now, the agreement has not effectively deterred foreign employers from abusing our Filipina workers. Let us call to mind the significant contribution of our OFWs to the nation’s progress. During the last quarter of 2019, the increased OFW remittances contributed to consumer spending which accounted for two-thirds of the country’s gross domestic product. As I have said before, OFWs remain one of the primary drivers of our economic growth. Being away from their loved ones is already a big sacrifice for them. It is disheartening that aside from this, their plight is aggravated by the abusive treatment they receive from their employers and foreign citizens. I call for intensifying the protection of the rights and welfare of our OFWs, especially the Filipina household/domestic workers. Let us not wait for another Ms. Villavende or Ms. Demafelis before we boldly assert their rights. I strongly urge the government to step up and firmly uphold and defend the rights of our OFWs and seek the justice they truly deserve. Given the discrepancy in the autopsy reports, I anticipate a proactive stance from the government. We must see to it that the perpetrators of this heinous crime be lawfully and rightfully penalized. Moving forward, perhaps we should refine and enhance existing agreements and MOUs for more stringent provisions to pressure host countries to faithfully implement and adhere to the agreements. Moreover, agencies concerned with OFW welfare should strictly enact the policies established for their protection. Our OFWs are not mere statistics that we rely on for economic growth. These Filipinos have families lovingly waiting and longing for them. They have dreams, mostly to lift their families out of poverty. Apart from preserving international relations, let us accord our OFWs priority in safeguarding their rights, safety, and overall welfare. The government should be magnanimous in extending protection towards them. After all, they are the country’s modern heroes. Let them come home, head high, spirits whole, and hearts full.



DOF must not be a recidivist TWO weeks ago, as I thought of the then-impending enforcement of the third phase of TRAIN (Tax Reform and Inclusion Act) 2, a word associated with criminal law came to my mind. The word was recidivist. In criminal law a recidivist is a person who commits an offense for which he has previously been prosecuted and convicted. As my mention of TRAIN 2 suggests, the recidivist that I was thinking of was an institution, not an individual. The institution is the governmental entity charged with enforcing that piece of fiscal legislation, namely, DOF (Department of Finance). In 2017-2018 this country experienced its worst bout with inflation in five years. At its peak, in July 2018, the inflation rate, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), rose to 5.7 percent, bringing 2018’s average monthly inflation rate to 2.5 percent. The mismanagement of the national rice supply by NFA (National Food Authority) has been held accountable for the sharp rise in rice prices—to as high as around P42 per kilo—by most observers, but the weight of expert

opinion is on the increases in petroleum-products prices as the principle cause of that inflation. In response to the strong clamor from consumer and labor groups for speedy and effective action to contain the inflation, members of Congress moved for the suspension of the increases in the excise taxes on petroleum products (diesel, bunker fuel, lubricating oil, liquefied petroleum gas, kerosene and gasoline). DOF heeded the clamor and suspended the collection of the increases.

Not at the expense of the poor! Predicting the impact of the petroleum-products excise tax increases on the CA was a no-brainer. Petroleum products are key inputs unto three major sectors of the economy—manufacturing, power and transportation—and the movements of their prices have substantial effects on the cost of living of Filipinos on the lower reaches of the income scale. The prices of food items, electricity and transportation fares are highly responsive to upward changes in the prices of petroleum products. A recent report of the PIDS (Philippine Institute of Development Studies), a

government institution, indicated that the national poverty ratio significantly rose in the wake of the 2017-2018 inflation. Back to the concept of recidivism. Why did I think of recidivism when the third round of petroleum-products excise tax increases kicked in on Jan. 1? Because the latest round of increases in excise taxes on petroleum products is bound to give rise to another surge in consumer prices, there having been no major changes in the Philippine economy’s cost structure. If the context were criminal law, that would make the DOF a recidivist: It committed and was penalized for an offense in the past and it is knowingly committing that offense again. The law abhors a recidivist; so does the Philippine economy. DOF has embarked on the road to recidivism, but it can still avoid being a recidivist. This it can do by amending the petroleum-products excise tax by suspending or outright eliminating those that are most inflationary in impact and retaining those that are less so. The increase in the excise tax on gasoline can be retained; the other increases should be let go. An increase in government revenue from excise taxes must not be obtained at the expense of a rise in this country’s poverty rate. Inflation makes poor people poorer.

Indonesia’s ‘mosque hunters’ count them up one at a time By Irwan Abdul Latif with Haeril Halim AS FRIDAY prayers wrap up at Suada mosque, worshippers turn their attention outside where Fakhry Affan steers a drone high above, snapping pictures of the building tucked in a corner of Indonesia's Sulawesi island. Affan leads a government team of some 1,000 mosque hunters who have spent years visiting every corner of the 5,000 kilometer (3,100 mile) long archipelago to answer one question: how many mosques are there in the world's biggest Muslim majority nation? "Only God knows exactly how many mosques there are in Indonesia," former vice president Jusuf Kalla quipped recently. "Some say around one million and people will take it for granted." So far, Affan's team has registered 554,152 mosques and the census—which kicked off in 2013—is only about 75 percent done, Affan says. Earlier government estimates pegged the total at more than 740,000 nationwide. Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 260 million people are Muslim and it is home to Jakarta's Istiqlal mosque, Southeast Asia's biggest with room for 200,000 worshippers. So it's an Herculean task for Affan and his team at the religious affairs ministry as it scours a country of some 17,000 islands, where new mosques are going up all the time.

Monitoring radicalism

After getting key information about Mamuju city's 3,000 capacity Suada mosque—including building permit and mosque committee details—Affan uploads his drone pictures to a bulging online database. "We did it manually in the past, but now we're going digital," he told AFP. The government is also planning to launch an Android-based app called Info Masjid (Mosque Info) so Muslims can use their smartphone to find the nearest place of worship. Nur Salim Ismal, who attends the Suada mosque, hopes the move online will bring greater transparency. "Mosques manage huge amounts of money from worshippers and it should be clear how it's being used," he said. But the mosque hunt isn't just a counting exercise—it's also a way to keep an eye on radicalism.

Nation-builders... From A4

tionized the Filipino taste for hamburger and fries by bringing McDonald’s here. The first store was on Morayta Street in 1986. That was right after the Edsa People Power Revolution. McDonald’s is now a 50-50 enterprise with Andrew Tan. If there is one common denominator among these taipans, it’s their corporate social responsibility where they share their blessings with the poor and the needy. They are patriots and heroes, indeed. *** After criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs as a massive failure, Vice President Leni Robredo now wants to appear in Congress to reiterate her allegations against the administration’s fight against the drug menace. Clearly, she has two intentions: First, she wants to preempt a move at the House to impeach her. Second, she wants to portray herself as a critic of the President. She believes that the more publicity she gets, the more she will get people to follow her. To some extent, President Duterte has succeeded in his fight against illegal drugs. A survey shows that 75 percent of Filipinos believe this partial success, too. I think the President cannot completely eradicate the drug problem. Still, Robredo’s claim that the campaign is a massive failure, after she herself spent

"Radical ideology can mushroom anywhere and mosques are one of the easiest places for it to spread," Affan said. "Why? Because you don’t need to invite people to the mosque, they'll come anyway. "We want to ensure that all imams and [mosque] committees are moderate because Islam in Indonesia is moderate," he added. Indonesia's long-held reputation for tolerant pluralism has been tested in recent years. Muslim hardliners are becoming increasingly vocal in public and the country is home to dozens of extremist groups loyal to Islamic State group's violent ideology.

'Endless job'

In 2018, Indonesia's intelligence agency said it had found dozens of mosques that catered to government workers spreading radicalism and calling for violence against non-Muslims—in one Jakarta neighborhood alone. The alarming figures came several months after Indonesia's second-biggest city Surabaya was rocked by a wave of suicide bombings carried out by families at churches during Sunday services, killing a dozen people. Members of an IS-loyal group tried to assassinate Indonesia's chief security minister last year, while in November a militant suicide bomber killed himself and injured six others during an attack at a police station. Indonesia's new vice-president Ma’ruf Amin, a cleric-turned-politician, has said the government would start certifying preachers and mosque congregations nationwide to stamp out militants in their ranks. "There is potential for mosques to be prone to radicalism if they're not monitored," said Ali Munhanif, an expert on political Islam at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta "The government has a responsibility to keep its eye on all mosques in Indonesia." In the tally so far, the team has counted 258,958 large mosques and another 295,194 smaller ones, which fit 40 people or fewer. Affan and his team hope to finish the initial round of counting this year. "But this is an endless job and it'll never be finished," he said. "It's pretty rare for a mosque to close down, but one thing is for sure: The number of new ones will keep going up." AFP

only 18 days on the job as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Drugs, is fake news. Even after Duterte steps down in 2022, the illegal drug menace will continue. It’s a matter of supply and demand. So long as there is demand, syndicates will continue to provide supply for that. Similarly, Duterte’s campaign against corruption will outlast him. Corruption is embedded in the government system where human discretion is involved. *** I have a few questions on the move of the President to have another concession agreement by Maynilad and Manila Water. This is supposed to be crafted by the Department of Justice. First, will the new agreement mean fairer water rates for consumers? Will there be assurance of water distribution? Second, will Maynilad and Manila Water now pay income and other taxes due government instead of passing them on to consumers? Third, will Malacañang make public the new concession agreement for the benefit of consumers? I ask these questions in the wake of Duterte’s threat to nationalize water distribution if Maynilad and Manila Water do not accede to the new concession agreement. In fairness to Maynilad and Manila Water, both Manny Pangilinan and the Ayalas have already dropped their claim from government, an amount close to P11 billion, even though the arbitration

tribunal in Singapore had ruled in their favor. I also believe that the agreements entered into with the concessionaires during the time of Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were fair enough. But if Duterte wants the terms renegotiated, the proper way to go is to bring the case to court and let it decide. That is due process and the rule of law. *** In the wake of Duterte’s move against the oligarchs, perhaps it is time for government to review all the contracts it had entered into even before the current administration. Times have changed, and normally speaking, what was proper years ago when government contracts were formulated cannot in every sense be valid and normal these days. Along with this move of Malacañang to review all government contracts, I suggest that both Malacañang, government anti-corruption agencies and the Office of the Ombudsman should also look at the anomalous—I’d even say rotten—contract entered into by the Bases Conversion Development Authority with the Malaysian firm MTD Capital Berhad in the construction of sports facilities in Tarlac for the Southeast Asian Games. This involves a joint venture agreement. It’s basic in JVAs that both partners contribute equal shares. With this deal, however, the BCDA gave so much to the Malaysian firm.





Police told: Profile possible ‘serial rapists’ Duterte appoints P By MJ Blancaflor

RESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the police to profile persons who could be the possible “serial rapists” preying on young girls in Quezon province.

Paredes new commander of Air Force

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday appointed Maj. Gen. Allen Paredes as the new commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, succeeding Lt. Gen. Rozzano Briguez who will retire today, Jan. 16. Paredes will assume the post Friday, as stated in an appointment letter sent by the President to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Prior to his designation, Paredes served as the chief of Air Logistics Command. He was also named as Chief of Air Staff in July 2018 and was also donned to 2 Star Rank at that time. In 2016, he was assigned as the commander of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing. Paredes was a member of the Philippine Military Academy Maringal Class of 1988. This year, the Air Force is set to announce its choice of multi-role fighter aircraft for defense and border protection, a big-ticket acquisition project. The PAF was also expected to get its hands this year on hew hardware that included the Super Tucano light attack aircraft, Black Hawk combat utility helicopters and Gulfstream G-280 jet. MJ Blancaflor

During the situation briefing in Taal Tuesday night, the President also said he might send government troops “in civilian clothes” to resolve the problem if the police could not effectively improve the peace and order situation in Quezon. “Almost a good number of these incidents happened in Quezon. So please inform the provincial command to come up with a surveillance system

of government workers,” President Duterte said, addressing police acting chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa. “I hate profiling. I do not like it but we are forced to do it. These girls are innocent then somebody will rape them. If you will let him alive, cut his penis. So that he will be sad all the days of his life,” Duterte added. He also said the high number of rape cases has become “intolerable,”

the latest victim of which was an eight-year-old girl from Candelaria town. “Why are there are so many young girls being raped? Otherwise, I’ll be forced to call upon the Army to participate, go covert in civilian clothes, and help,” Duterte said. For his part, Gamboa said the President’s directive was relayed to the Quezon police director, since Calabarzon police chief Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. was also present in the briefing. As this developed, Ricardo Bongalon Burce, 55, a suspect in the rape-slay case of the eight-year-old girl in Candelaria, was found dead inside the custodial facility of the

municipal police station on Wednesday morning. According to an initial report from the Candelaria police, Burce did not respond when a fellow inmate was trying to wake him up at about 6 a.m. Inmates then noticed that he was no longer breathing. Police officers rushed the suspect to the Candelaria District Hospital in Barangay Masin Norte but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician. Burce was accused of raping and killing the girl who had gone missing for one week and whose body was found in a grassy area of a subdivision in Barangay Masin Sur on Jan. 6.

Gov’t will tap ADB consultants —DOJ chief By Rey E. Requejo

NATIONAL SCIENTIST. House Majority Leader and Cornell Club of the Philippines president Martin

Romualdez (left) hands over a simple token of gratitude and appreciation to fellow Cornellian Dr. Emil Javier (right), recently conferred by President Rodrigo Duterte a National Scientist Award in Malacañang Palace for his promising contributions to the scientific community. Javier is a former president of the University of the Philippines (1993-1999), a former Chancellor of UPLB (1979-1985), UPLB’s 17th National Scientist and a PhD in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell University. Ver Noveno


BI waiving aliens’ overstaying fees

(Harmonized System 2017 Subheading Nos. 6907.22 and 6907.23) x------------------------------------------x

By Vito Barcelo

ORDER On 13 December 2019, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) received the Tariff Commission’s (Commission) Formal Investigation Report on the general safeguard measure on the importation of ceramic floor and wall tiles from various countries classified under Harmonized System 2017 Subheading Nos. 6907.22 and 6907.23. The period covered by the investigation (POI) are the years 2013 to 2017 with updated data until 2019. The Commission, in accordance with the Safeguard Measures Act (RA 8800), concluded that: 1.

All current Philippine ceramic tile manufacturers are participants to the formal investigation and compliance with the domestic industry requirement is fully met under Section 4(f) of RA 8800.


Locally produced ceramic floor and wall tiles are “like” products to imported ceramic tiles falling under HS 2017 Subheading Nos. 6907.22 and 6907.23.


There was no increase in imports of ceramic floor and wall tiles, both in absolute terms and relative to domestic production, during the POI. Total imports of ceramic floor and wall tiles only increased in 2014 and stabilized thereafter. Imports of glazed -ceramic floor and wall tiles, which constitute 87% of the total ceramic tiles imported into the country, showed a declining trend starting 2015. Similarly, the increase in the share of ceramic tile imports relative to local production was only evident in 2014, which thereafter evened-out until the end of the POI.


Since it has been established that ceramic floor and wall tiles were not imported in increased quantities (whether absolute or relative to domestic production) during the period of investigation, the determination of serious injury, or threat thereof, causation, and unforeseen developments has become moot and academic.

Considering that ceramic floor and wall tiles were not imported in increased quantities (whether absolute or relative to domestic production) during the period of investigation, the Commission terminated its formal investigation and recommended that no definitive general safeguard measure be imposed on importations of ceramic floor and wall ties falling under HS 2017 Subheading Nos. 6907.22 and 6907.23. IN VIEW THEREOF, the application for general safeguard measures on the importation of ceramic floor and wall tiles from various countries falling under HS 2017 Subheading Nos. 6907.22 and 6907.23 is hereby dismissed. Section 13 of RA 8800 provides, “ x x x In the event of a negative final determination, x x x, the Sectary shall immediately issue, through the Secretary of Finance, a written instruction to the Commissioner of Customs, authorizing the return of the cash bond or the remainder thereof, as the case may be, previously collected as provisional general safeguard measure within ten (10) days from the date a final decision has been made: Provided, That the government shall not be liable for any interest on the amount to be returned. x x x.” All cash bonds that may have been imposed on shipments of ceramic floor and wall tiles which entered or are withdrawn from warehouses in the Philippines for consumption starting 08 August 2019, the date of the effectivity of CMO No. 42-2019, -shall be immediately returned to the concerned importer/s. The DTI Order can be accessed at the DTI website: The notification requirements under Article 12 of the WTO Safeguards Agreement and Section 17 of RA 8800 and its IRR shall be complied with. Imports originating from ASEAN Member states shall be governed by the provision of Article 11 of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA). Let this Order be published in two (2) newspapers of general circulation and let individual notices be sent to all interested parties including the country members concerned. This Order shall take effect upon the issuance of the relevant Customs Memorandum Order or fifteen (15) days after the publication of the Order in two (2) newspapers of general circulation, whichever comes earlier. SO ORDERED. 02 January 2020

RAMON M. LOPEZ Secretary (MS-JAN. 17, 2020)


IMMIGRATION Commissioner Jaime Morente said the bureau was waiving the overstaying fees of aliens affected by the airport closure on Sunday, following the eruption of the Taal Volcano. Several international flights were at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday and Saturday, as aircraft were unable to depart the airport, due to heavy ashfall and volcanic debris in the airspace and runways. “This was a natural disaster that nobody wanted to experience. To ease the burden of our tourists whose flights were canceled during the closure, we are waiving the overstaying fee for those affected,” the BI chief said.

Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina clarified that only those who overstayed because their flights were supposed to depart during the two-day closure will be exempted from paying overstaying fines. He said that to be exempted from the charges, aliens must present at least one of the following to airport officers: boarding pass within the affected period, outbound ticket dated Jan. 12 or 13, 2020, or canceled immigration departure stamp bearing the same date. He clarified that those whose visas have long expired were not exempt from penalties. Classes in all levels and work in government in the affected areas of Calabarzon, NCR, and Region 3 were likewise suspended on Jan. 13.

THE government will tap consultants from the Manila-based Asian Development Bank to help in the revision of the economic and financial terms of the new concession agreement to be offered to water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday. Guevarra said he was informed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III about the plan to engage the ADB consultants. The Justice Secretary noted that the Department of Finance was heavily involved even in the crafting of previous contracts with the water concessionaires. “In fact, they’re going to have a meeting this afternoon in Malacañang with the Department of Finance in the Office of the President and I assume that one of the matters that we are going to take up later is the engagement of the ADB consultants for the purpose of guiding the government side in the matter of revision of the economic and financial terms of the water concession agreement,” Guevarra told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum. Guevarra also revealed that it might take six months to finish the draft concession agreements and present it to the water concessionaires for comments. “The whole process may last six months. That is a conservative estimate on my part . . . We’ll be sitting down with the water concessionaires, I know that they are waiting,” Guevarra said. Nonetheless, Guevarra admitted that the legal and constitutional issues pertaining to the concession contracts have already been resolved by the DOJ. In fact, Guevarra said the legal team is only waiting for the input of the DOF on economic terms such as water ratesetting mechanism, factors to be considered such as inflation rate and exchange rate, expenditures that can validly be included in the concession agreement and what can be and cannot be taxed. The Department of Justice secretary earlier said the government was still open to discuss with Maynilad and Manila Water the proposed amendments on the concession contracts.

3 lucky lotto bettors win P97m in 2 days, says PCSO THE Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on Wednesday announced that three lucky lotto bettors became new millionaires in just two days after winning its lotto draws this month. PCSO General Manager Royina Garma said a lucky bettor from Mandaluyong guessed the winning combination 16-17-05-30-29-21 of the Lotto 6/42 with a jackpot of P28,481,693 on Jan. 11. Garma said two bettors from Pateros and Tacloban City, Leyte got the combination of 21-04-25-13-11-19 and bagged the Mega Lotto 6/45 jackpot prize of P68,523,435 last Jan. 10. To be able to claim their checks, bettors must go to PCSO’s main office in Mandaluyong City and present two IDs and the winning ticket. Mega Lotto 6/45 is drawn every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while Lotto 6/42 is drawn every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Garma urged the public to play and support all the PCSO games as the revenue would go to the charity programs of the agency. Earlier, a solo winner from San Pablo,

Laguna won the P80.7 million jackpot prize prize of P32,090 after getting five out of the of the Grand Lotto 6/55 on Jan. 8. six winning combinations of 25-54-04-22Meanwhile, 23 bettors won a consolation 55-24. PNA

PROTEST RALLY. Health workers from different public hospitals in Metro Manila hold a protest action in front of the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on Wednesday to criticize the Duterte administration for what they call an insulting, deceptive and unjust Salary Standardization Law of 2019. Manny Palmero

Sports Spike in sex trafficking as Miami hosts Super Bowl MIAMI—Every year, the American football season ends with the vast spectacle of the Super Bowl, drawing in celebrity superstars, hugely expensive advertising and 100 million viewers. But the sporting mega-event also has a darker side: a spike in human trafficking, in particular a rise in sexual exploitation. This year, Miami will host the Super Bowl on February 2, but the party city in southern Florida -- already the state with the third highest rate of human trafficking in the country, after California and Texas -- worries that the combination of the huge sporting event in proximity to its world-famous beaches and clubs will create a perfect storm of sex trafficking. “The Super Bowl is going to expand that as you have party events, large events like this, it will attract these organizations to try to come here to try to make more money,” said Anthony Salisbury, head of security investigations at the Department of Homeland Security. That was the experience of Katariina Rosenblatt, who was forced, from the ages of 13 to 17, to have sex with paying clients in a hotel in the tourist hub of Miami Beach. “I was sold for my innocence as an American virgin girl, but I got out of trafficking,” said Rosenblatt, who went on to found an NGO called “There Is Hope For Me” to help victims of sex trafficking. She said that sex tourists came “from other places to Miami Beach to purchase sex.” Look out for signs The city’s authorities are training hotel workers, security guards, Uber drivers and truckers to spot the signs that a person might be a victim of trafficking, since these are the people most likely to cross paths with them and have a chance to alert police. If a guest has an unusual number visitors to their hotel room, if they ask for a room close to the stairs, if they refuse to let the cleaners in or have poor personal hygiene, if they arrive with very little luggage or are constantly asking for the minibar to be restocked, these can all be telltale signs that something is amiss, police say. AFP

Mitra to talk on GAB’s plans WHAT’S in store for the Games and Amusement Board and its hard-working chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra in 2020? The answers will be known today (Jan. 16) when the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports opens the new year with its 51st “Usapang Sports” at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila. Mitra will talk about the plans of the government supervisory agency in professional sports during the 10 a.m. public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, National Press Club, PAGCOR, Community Basketball Association and HG Guyabano Tea Leaf Drinks. Also appearing in the session are the main organizers of the MDC3X3 basketball tournament, led by Maricel Diaz Clemente. Joining her are Jessica Diaz Clemente (vice president of MDC Sports Inc.), Tobee Diaz Clemente (Vice President) and Coach Goy Bagares (MDC 3X3 basketball operation manager). TOPS president Ed Andaya of People’s Tonight is requesting all officers and members and friends from the sports community to attend the session.



Koepka: Iran tension not an issue A

BU DHABI—World number one Brooks Koepka admits he was unsure about playing the $7 million Abu Dhabi Championship this week, but not because of heightened political tensions in the Middle East.

The 29-year-old American was more unsettled by the injury to his left knee that required stem cell treatment and has kept him out of competitive golf for over three months. Asked ahead of Thursday’s start whether his appearance in Abu Dhabi was in doubt following the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack, Koepka said: “It was not an issue. It was fine and I am happy to be here.” However, the rehabilitation process of his damaged knee was different. “I’ve been worried about my knee,” he said. “Just honestly, thinking about trying to play, trying to get over here for this. I

don’t want to say this, but it was kind of up in the air. He said he started hitting balls just before Christmas and “everything felt good.” “From that moment on, after a couple days of hitting balls and not feeling pain, I knew I could get back here and do this and finally play.” It was a second long lay-off for the four-time major champion in the past couple of years. In early 2018, he took a 17-week break after a wrist injury. He came back in stunning fashion, finishing second in the Fort Worth Invitational in his third start and winning the US Open after six weeks back.

Comeback Asked if he had more motivation and expected similar results in his latest comeback, Koepka said: “I don’t know if it gives me more motivation. I don’t think it does. “I think when you have something you love and it’s taken away from you, it makes you appreciate it more and really enjoy being out here. “But I’m excited. I’m just excited to hit balls. There is an enthusiasm to get out there and play.” Koepka, who finished tied ninth in the tournament last year, headlines a stellar field for the first Rolex Series event of the European Tour season. Also in the field are his US compatriots, world number six Patrick Cantlay and 16th-ranked Bryson DeChambeau. The reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry is the defending champion and comes off a good week in Hong


Kong, where he finished second. Koepka has been paired with twotime Abu Dhabi champion and world number 10 Tommy Fleetwood and Lowry for the first two rounds.

Davao Occ. extends win run; Manila, Basilan win

Ceres-Negros players celebrate after Robert Lopez Mendy’s goal against Shan United.

Ceres edges Shan, advances to 2nd round

NATIONAL team player OJ Porteria sparkled with a goal and an assist as PFL champion Ceres-Negros turned back Shan United of Myanmar, 3-2, last Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the AFC Champions League preliminary round at Rizal Memorial Stadium. Porteria set up Bienve Marañon for Ceres’ second goal, before scoring what turned out to be the marginal strike in the 79th minute as the Busmen forged a duel with Port FC of Thailand in the next round in Bangkok. Admittedly short on preparation, the Busmen came out sharp with Senegalese striker Robert Lopez Mendy opening the scoring in the fifth minute with a left-footed effort to the bottom corner off a cutback from new signing Pika Minegishi. “We were pressuring them and we were unlucky not to get more goals,” said Porteria. “We only had four or five training

sessions so we were really tired but we just stuck in there and got the win. We’re not fit thats why we wanted to keep the ball. We just showed the heart to survive the game.” Despite their dominance, the Busmen only grabbed their second goal just before halftime as Marañon’s deflected effort had Shan goalkeeper Thiha Sithu rooted to his spot. The Busmen looked like they were in cruise control, although Mendy spurned a breakaway chance and Porteria was denied by the crossbar with his long-range effort. Zin Min Tun pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute, but Porteria quickly restored the two-goal cushion by meeting Mike Ott’s pass inside the box to fire home. Maximin Djawa set the stage for a thrilling finish as his 87th-minute strike made it 3-2. But Ceres hung on to pick up the victory, moving within two wins of reaching the group stage of Asia’s most prestigious club competition.

SEAG dancesports medalists to train in Europe SOUTHEAST Asian Games Filipino dancesports gold winners will undergo a one-month European training camp in February for this year’s World Dancesports Federation World Championship Standard Adult competition in Nov. 21 in Vienna, Austria. Sean Aranar, winner of the SEA Games’ dancesports gold medal in the Viennese waltz, tango and the five dance mixed events, together with partner Ana Nualla, said they are considering to train in Lithuania, Germany or in Italy. “We are still finalizing our training

camp in Europe and we’re considering Lithuania, Germany or Italy as our training camp venue. We want to compete in different dancesports events also, while we’re there,” said Aranar, who is also eyeing to improve their 103rd in the world ranking. “That European training camp will serve as our preparation for the World Championship.” Aranar added that they will go to Europe to train again just what they did last year prior to the start of the 2019 SEA Games competition when they

trained in Lithuania, under coach Donatas Vezelis and Lina Chatkeviciute. Aside from Aranar and Nualla, SEA Games’ gold winner in single dance pasadoble and Latin dance events Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Sabalo, will also join them in the training camp. The Philippine Dancesports team, formed by the Dancesports Council of the Philippines Inc., headed by President Becky Garcia, collected 10 gold medals in the last Southeast Asian Games in Angeles, Pampanga.

THE Davao Occidental Tigers stretched their winning streak while the Manila Stars and the Basilan Steel bounced back in the Chooks-to-Go/ MPBL Lakan Season Tuesday at San Andres Sports Complex. Pouncing on Makati Super Crunch’s listless plat, the Tigers prevailed, 101-79, for their fifth straight victory and a pacesetting 21-3 record in the South division. Flaunting depth and firepower, the Frontrow-backed Stars pulled away in the first quarter and proceeded to rout the Paranaque-Yabo Sports Patriots, 106-78. Basilan wasted a 20-point spread but kept its poise to thwart Cebu Casino Ethyl Alcohol, 86-78. The Stars and the Jumbo Plasticssupported Steel dropped their previous games, 76-77, to the Bataan Risers and 89-96 to Bacolod Master Sardines, respectively. Like the Tigers, the Steel are assured of a playoff slot in the South with their 17-10 slate. Same with the Stars, who tote a 22-5 card in the North division. Mark Yee produced 11 points and 12 rebounds while four others drilled in double digits as the Tigers gave Super Crunch Beaujing Acot, who replaced the resigned Cholo Villanueva, a rude welcome. Chester Saldua scored 14, June Kenneth Mocon and Yvan Ludovice 13 each, and Billy Robles 10 for the Cocolife-backed Tigers, who led from start to finish and by as big as 75-48. The also-ran Patriots dropped to 8-18 despite the 15-point output of Jemal Vizcarra and James Patrick Abugan. Refusing to go down without a fight, the Cebu Sharks clustered six points to threaten at 72-76. Allyn Bulanadi, however, fired back-to-back jumpers and handed an assist to Jhaps Bautista to pad the Steel’s lead anew, 82-74, entering the last two minutes. Bulanadi, a member of the Gilas pool, wound up with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assist as he combined with Chris Dumapig (17 points), Jay Collado (12), and Hesed Gabo (11) to hand the Cebuanos their 12th loss in 25 games.


Giannis shows no mercy as Bucks crush Knicks; Jazz prevail

However it said the “hit and miss” nature of thunderstorms meant it was difficult to predict exactly where the heaviest rain would fall. The fires have already destroyed more than 2,000 homes and burnt 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometres) of land -- an area larger than South Korea or Portugal. The confirmed death toll rose to 28 on Wednesday when authorities said they had confirmed a firefighter who died in late November in a traffic incident had at the time been trying to contain a blaze. The fires have dominated headlines around the world and led to an international outpouring of aid for victims, as well as animals that have been injured in the blazes. About one billion animals may have died in the fires and driven many species closer to extinction, according to environmental groups.

LOS ANGELES—NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 37 points and the Milwaukee Bucks improved their league-leading record with a 128-102 romp past the New York Knicks on Tuesday. Antetokounmpo was ruthless in leading the 36-6 Bucks to a fourth straight victory, connecting on 12 of 17 shots and 10 of 12 from the free throw line while grabbing nine rebounds with four assists and a blocked shot. He did it all in just over 21 minutes on the court as the Bucks, who never trailed and led by as many as 35, turned things over to their reserves in the fourth quarter. “I’m just trying to do my job, just trying to be aggressive, make plays,” Antetokounmpo said. The victory was the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks’ 13th of the season by 20 or more points. Coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased to see the Bucks maintain their focus against the lowly Knicks, who dropped their sixth straight. “The way we came out it’s a good sign for us,” he said of a Bucks team on pace for a 70-win season. “The focus of the guys is impressive.” Kawhi Leonard impressed in Los Angeles, scoring 43 points in less than 29 minutes on court to

From A8

lead the Clippers to a 128-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Clippers led by as many as 36 points on the way to their 28th win of the season. Leonard scored 14 points in the second quarter as the Clippers pulled away. He connected on 14 of 22 shots from the floor with six three-pointers before sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Jazz hot The Utah Jazz continued to roll in the right direction with a 10th straight win—118-107 over the Nets in Brooklyn. Aussie guard Joe Inglis scored a career-high 27 points and Rudy Gobert added 22 points and 18 rebounds for the Jazz, who improved to 28-12 and are five games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for top spot in the Western Conference. Ingles hit 10 of 14 shots and made six of eight from beyond the arc, tying his career-high for field goals. Donovan Mitchell tallied 25 points—14 of them in the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving, playing his second game since missing nearly two months with a shoulder injury, led all scorers with 32 points and dished out 11 assists, but the Nets were unable to win a third straight game. AFP

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ball against the New York Knicks at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. AFP

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



Smog hits Aussie Open again, but rain raises hopes MELBOURNE—Bushfire smoke disrupted the Australian Open build-up Wednesday for a second straight day to deepen concerns about the fate of the year’s first tennis Grand Slam, but a cool change late in the day raised hopes of rain soaking the blazes. The toxic haze that descended on Melbourne, where the Australian Open is due to begin next week, drifted down from out-of-control fires that have endured for months in eastern and southern Australia. The bushfires, unprecedented in their duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives while raising awareness about the type of disasters that scientists say the world will increasingly face due to global warming. In Melbourne, a picturesque bayside city famed as one of the most liveable in the world, the bushfire smoke raised pollution levels to “hazardous” at the start of the week. The bleak conditions continued on Wednesday, with residents donning face masks while dozens of flights were cancelled at Melbourne airport because of poor visibility. Australian Open organisers pushed ahead with qualifying rounds on Tuesday. But dramatic scenes of players dropping to their knees and choking, and one retiring due to the smoke, led to complaints about them being forced to stay out on court. With the air still tasting and smelling of smoke on Wednesday morning, organisers suspended qualifying rounds until 1:00 pm (0200 GMT) on Wednesday. Racing Victoria also cancelled two horse race meetings on Wednesday. With the pollution levels improving slightly, Australian Open organisers restarted play on Wednesday afternoon under better but still hazy conditions. Rain hopes Thundery weather then swept in late on Wednesday afternoon, bringing heavy rain that forced play to be cancelled for the day but raised expectations of clearer air for Thursday. There were also hopes that the rain would extend to other parts of southern and eastern Australia where dozens of fires are still raging out of control and threatening to devastate many more rural towns. Some bushfire and drought-hit areas could see 50-100 millimetres (2-4 inches) of rain, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Turn to A7

137 hopefuls join D-League Draft 2020 THE new batch of dreamers take their first step of making it to the pros as 137 players have declared for the PBA D-League Draft 2020. Fil-Am high-flyer Jamie Malonzo and Gilas pool member Jaydee Tungcab banner the list of hopefuls for Monday’s Draft to be held at PBA Office in Libis. The 6’6” Malonzo, 23, burst into the scene in his short stint with La Salle that saw him earning a spot in the Mythical Team in the last UAAP season. Tungcab, 22, is a 6’3” guard who has played sparingly during his time with University of the Philippines, but caught the attention of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas that led to his inclusion in the national team pool. The two are expected to be picked in the first round. For the fourth straight year, AMA Online Education holds the right to the no. one pick. Also joining the Draft are former Batang Gilas standout Jollo Go, exUAAP Juniors MVP Jerie Pingoy, Cebuano standouts Darrell Menina and Jaybie Mantilla, former CEU scorer Judel Fuentes, and UE forward John Apacible. From the field, 17 are Fil-foreigners, led by Malonzo, former La Salle shooter Joshua Torralba, and UP’s James Spencer, David Murrell, and JJ Espanola. Players from Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League have also applied, including Yves Sazon and King Destacamento.

Sports A seller wearing a mask holds up the latest edition of the Big Issue featuring world number female player Ash Barty of Australia on it’s cover, as poor air quality from Australia’s bushfires hamper qualifying for the upcoming Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. AFP

Poor air quality halts Eala camp By Peter Atencio


RACTICE for Filipino junior standout Alex Eala has been called off for the time being.

Australian officials have warned that smoke and haze from regional wild fires have affected the playing conditions of the 2020 AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International Tennis Tournament in Victoria, Australia. The tournament is set to start this Friday and Eala’s coach Daniel Gomez is looking for ways to keep the 14-year-old Alex in shape for the next two days. Eala’s dad Mike said this as the Filipina netter prepares for action in the girls’ division, where she is seeded fourth. “They suspended practice and matches due to poor air quality,” said the elder Eala in an online message. Gomez is with the Rafa Nadal Academy, where Alex and her brother Miko are scholars.

Alex Eala

Eala was accepted into the RNA after she won a tournament in France back in 2018. From there, scouts from the Academy in Nadal’s hometown of Manacor in Mallorca, Spain approached Eala’s camp and discussed the possibility of her becoming a scholar. The AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International Tennis Tournament

is meant to prepare Eala for her participation the 2020 Australian Open. Elsa Jacquemont of France is seeded first, followed by Robin Montgomery of the United States in second. Jacquemot is also among the players to watch. She has claimed junior titles in France and Canada during the past 12 months. And the 16-year-old Jacquemont also earned a wildcard for the qualifiers of the 2019 French Open. Kamila Bartone of Latvia comes in at no. 3, with Maria Bondarenko of Russia in fifth. Eala finished the 2018 season ranked 248th in the world, before a career-best 13th spot last October. Her stint in a tournament in Bradenton, Florida last December allowed her move into the top, with her world ranking reaching no. 9 when the year 2020 started. Eala earned 1,452.50 points from her campaign last year, making her the highest Southeast Asian tennis player in the ITF junior rankings.

Judiciary faces NHA at start of quarterfinals TWO-TIME champion Judiciary tries to extend its winning run to five games when it battles National Housing Authority today (Thursday) at the start of the quarterfinal round of the 8th UNTV Cup at the Paco Arena in Manila. Coming off a four-game sweep of the second round elims that gave them a 6-3 mark, the Judiciary Magis are slightly favored over the Builders in their 4:30 p.m. showdown. Mentored by former UST hotshot Benneth Palad, the Builders also finished the round with a 6-3 record in the event organized by UNTV President and CEO Dr. Daniel Razon. Clashing in the other game at 3:30 p.m. are Department of Agriculture and PITC with the winner boosting its record to 6-4. The four teams play a singleround with the top two finishers joining No. 1 and defending champion Armed Forces of the Philippine and second-ranked Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Final Four. AFP and DENR advanced outright to the semis after finishing 1-2 with 8-1

Chester Tolomia hopes to provide the offensive spark as Judiciary battles NHA today in the UNTV Cup at the Paco Arena.

and 7-2 marks, respectively. servants get a tax-free P4 million with The chosen charity of the cham- the runner-up’s own foundation getpion in the annual event for public ting P4 million.

Williams aims to end long Slam record quest MELBOURNE—Serena Williams is ominously back to winning ways as she looks to finally complete her long quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. The American has been on the cusp of history since 2017, when she won her 23rd Major trophy in Melbourne, but after returning from giving birth has suffered straight-sets defeats in four Slam finals. The signs are good for the 38-yearold Williams, who broke a three-year title drought at last week’s Auckland Classic—a result that will not have gone unnoticed by her younger rivals. Australia’s world number one Ashleigh Barty and defending champion Naomi Osaka are among her genuine challengers, but pressure and expectation will also pose problems for Williams as she pursues the 24 Grand Slam titles won by the Australian Margaret Court between 1960 and 1973. “That was really important for me and I just want to build on it,” Williams, now ranked ninth in the world, said after triumphing in Auckland on Sunday. The former number one, who celebrated on court with daughter Olympia, donated her US$43,000 winner’s cheque to victims of the Australian bushfires. Practice and qualifying have been disrupted in Melbourne this week because of toxic air pollution from the deadly fires, but organisers are confident the tournament will proceed as planned. Williams has now won 73 WTA titles over four decades and although she is scaling back the number of tournaments she plays, there is no indication she plans to retire imminently. Williams’s latest Grand Slam final heartbreak came at the US Open, where she was stunned by Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu. Williams—the highest-paid female athlete in the world last year with earnings close to US$30 million, according to Forbes—afterwards played down her bid for Court’s record. AFP

HERO OF THE NIGHT. Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner Willie Marcial and the league’s board of governors awards the plaque of recognition to SEA Games gold medalist surfer Roger Casugay for his heroism in the recent biennial meet. Casugay came to the rescue of Arip Nurhidayat when his Indonesian opponent broke his leash and was swept away by waves during the men’s longboard open competition. The PBA’s ‘Hero of the Night’ was feted in a simple ceremony at halftime of Game 3 between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Sunday. Joining Marcial during the presentation were Robert Non (San Miguel), Al Panlilio (Meralco), Alfrancis Chua (Barangay Ginebra), Bobby Rosales (Columbia), Rene Pardo (Magnolia) and Eric Arejola (NorthPor


Mandaluyong court denies Angkas’ bid

A MANDALUYONG City Regional Trial Court denied the petition of Angkas to obtain a permanent injunction against the revised guidelines governing the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis. In a four-page order dated Jan. 10, Judge Rizalina Capco-Umali of the Mandaluyong City RTC Branch 212 dismissed the petition lodged by Angkas against the Department of Transportation and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulator Board for lack of merit. “Since the Petitioner’s application for issuance of injunctive writ involves prayer to enjoin the enforcement of Section 10 of Revised General Guidelines for the Pilot Implementation of Motorcycle Taxis, which is also the same action being sought in the main case of injunction, the court is mindful that as much as possible avoid issuing writ which would effectively dispose of the main case without trial and/or due process,” said the court in the order. Section 10 of the of Revised General Guidelines for the Pilot Implementation of Motorcycle Taxis states that a total of 30,000 riders for Metro Manila and 9,000 riders for Metro Cebu will form part of the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis. Darwin G. Amojelar

Bamboo council eyes 19,000-ha plantations

THE Philippine Bamboo Industry Council, an interagency group composed of national and local government representatives, plans to convert at least 19,000 hectares of land into bamboo plantations in 2020, including 13,000 hectares in Western Visayas. Trade Secretary and council chairman Ramon Lopez said In a meeting on Jan. 9 the Trade Department was ready to provide shared service facilities to those interested in bamboo processing. Agri-business ventures, like bamboo production and processing, are also part of the Strategic Investments Priorities Plan of the Department of Trade and Industry, which entitles investors to tax incentives. Lopez committed to include bamboo plantations in the department’s Roads Leveraging Linkages of Industry and Trade program with the Public Works Department. The program aims to build “plant to market” roads to ease the delivery of products, especially from remote areas. Othel V. Campos

Business November remittances increased 2% to $2.37b M By Julito G. Rada

ONEY sent home by Filipinos working overseas rose 2 percent in November 2019 to $2.37 billion from $2.32 billion a year ago, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Wednesday.

The latest figure brought cash remittances in the first 11 months to $27.23 billion, up 4.4 percent from $26.094 billion a year earlier. “By type of worker, cash remittances from land-based and sea-based workers

increased by 3.6 percent to $21.3 billion, and 7.3 percent to $6 billion, respectively,” the BSP said in a statement. The United States remained the top source of remittances with 37.7 percent of the total from January to November 2019. It was followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany and Qatar. The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 78.4 percent of total cash remittances during the period. Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also increased by 2 percent in November to $2.63 billion from $2.58 billion a year ago, bringing the 11-month figure to $30.252 billion, up 4.1 percent from $29.1 billion in the

same period in 2018. “The steady growth in personal remittances during the first eleven months of 2019 drew support from the remittance inflows from land-based OF workers with work contracts of one year or more, which grew by 3.6 percent to $23.1 billion from $22.3 billion in the same period last year,” it said. The combined remittances of seabased and land-based workers with short-term contracts rose 7.3 percent to $6.5 billion in the first 11 months of 2019 from $6 billion a year ago. Cash remittances reached a record $28.9 billion in 2018, up 3.1 percent from $28.06 billion in 2017. The BSP was eyeing a conservative 3-percent growth for 2019 remittances.

Unioil Group seeks infra investments

A GROUP associated with the Unioil Group plans to use Chemical Industries of the Philippines in investing in industries related to the infrastructure program of the government. Based on the amended tender offer report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Quantumlink Realty Corp., Citiworld Properties & Development Corp., Exquadra Inc. and Lavish Sources Ltd. are exploring the possibility of infusing assets and funding further business projects for CIP, including investments in a new blending plant for lubricants and construction of warehouses. The group is also considering the potential investment in industries related to infrastructure, including the construction equipment industry. It is looking at the possibility of using CIP in a reverse takeover. Majority shareholders of CIP led by businessman Antonio Garcia in December agreed to sell their controlling stake in the company to a group associated with the Unioil group of companies. Jenniffer B. Austria

Airlines resume normal operations in and out of NAIA

By Darwin G. Amojelar

MAJOR airlines said their domestic and international operations returned to normal after the eruption of Taal Volcano on Sunday. “While flights have resumed, AirAsia continues to monitor the situation and will update guests should there be any changes to flight schedule,” AirAsia said in a statement. AirAsia said it continued to implement precautionary measures for guests, including a thorough assessment of routes and aircraft. “Guests whose flights had been cancelled in previous days have been advised to make the necessary changes to their flights,” the airline said. Cebu Pacific said its operations in and out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were back to normal. “Passengers booked on cancelled flights may manage their booking before their scheduled time of departure through the Cebu Pacific website, bit. ly/CEBmanageflight, with the following options: Rebook flights within 30 days without penalties or refund tickets in full,” the Gokongwei-led airline said. Philippine Airlines said it was gradually reverting to normal operations at NAIA, as atmospheric conditions improved in the vicinity of Metro Manila, following the safety-related airport closure caused by volcanic ash emissions from Sunday’s eruption. “We are in the process of operating replacement flights on certain routes to assist passengers affected by recent cancellations, and in a few cases we are upgrading certain flights to largercapacity wide-body aircraft to deal with the overflow of affected passengers,” PAL said.

FWD EXPANSION. FWD Life Insurance Corp., a part of pan-Asian FWD Group, opens a business hub in Binondo, Manila. As one of the country’s fastest-growing insurance companies, FWD Insurance is expanding its geographic footprint to reach more Filipino families. Formally unveiling the company’s newest office are (from left) FWD Insurance vice president and head of marketing Roche Vandenberghe, chief financial officer Jasper Cheng, chief distribution officer John Johnson, chief life operations officer Judith Baliton and vice president and territory sales director for Metro Manila and Luzon Eric Jayson Hernandez.

Ray S. Eñano, Editor Roderick T. dela Cruz, Assistant Editor THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020


Chinese firm plans refinery in Cebu oilfield By Alena Mae S. Flores CHINA International Mining Petroleum Co. Ltd., the operator of the Alegria oilfield in southern Cebu, is in talks with potential partners, including East Asia Oil Engineering Group, for the construction of a small oil refinery. CIMP, a subsidiary of Polyard Petroleum International Group Ltd., said it started talks with potential partners last year and recently gave an option to East Asia Oil to invest in an on-site refinery which could process 800,000 barrels a year as part of its drilling agreement. CIMP signed a turnkey drilling service agreement with East Asia Oil for six production wells. “CIMP will offer land for the setup and assist the contractor in securing all relevant permits, clearances and approval from the national and regional administrative agencies, local government units for the construction and operation of the refinery,” Polyard Petroleum said in its report to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Potential partners earlier contacted CIMP to express their intention to build a small refinery with an annual output of 750,000 barrels in the well site and completed a feasibility assessment and preliminary plan. “Further cooperation is under development,” Polyard Petroleum said. The Philippines has two oil refineries, including Petron Corp.’s 180,000-barrel-per-day facility in Bataan province and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.’s 110,000-barrel-perday plant in Batangas province. The Alegria oil field, which is under Service Contract 49, is situated at the southern part of Cebu. CIMP acquired an 80-percent participating interest in SC 49 and became the operator the bloc in July 2009. Polyard Petroleum indirectly acquired 51 percent of CIMP’s issued capital in October 2012, and an additional 12 percent in April 2014, bringing the effective interest in the project to 50.4 percent after the latest acquisition. Potential partners contacted CIMP in July 2019 to express their intention to build a small refinery with an annual output of 750,000 barrels in the wellsite and completed a feasibility assessment and preliminary plan. Further cooperation is under development. Production and testing at the Alegria oilfield in onshore southern Cebu is ongoing and production is being readied, the Energy Department said over the weekend.

Taal Volcano eruption likely to push up food inflation—PNB research THE Taal Volcano will likely push up food inflation this month because the affected area is a main contributor to the supply of livestock and fish nationwide, Philippine National Bank said in a report Wednesday. PNB cited the initial damage report by government agencies showing that P74.5 million worth of crops were affected in the CALABARZON region and 6,000 fish cages were at risk because of the high sulfur content in Taal Lake.

“We worry that the Taal eruption may put pressure on food prices of livestock particularly chicken and hogs [as well as fish supply] since CALABARZON― Taal’s location and region most affected, is a significant contributor to local production of livestock,” the bank said. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that CALABARZON was the second largest producer of live chicken at 87,000 metric tons (liveweight) out of the total 428,800 MT

produced in the third quarter of 2019. The region is also the second-largest source of hogs at 17 percent of total hog production of 551,600 MT in the third quarter. Inflation for fish picked up to 7.5 percent year-on-year in December 2019 as demand for pork substitutes went up amid consumers aversion to African swine fever. PNB said high livestock food and fish prices might be allayed by low rice pric-

es. It said that if supply shortfall persisted, the government might ease import constraints on these commodities while imposing regulatory price restraint measures in the affected areas. “While it’s early days for official estimates of damage to businesses, we sense macro downside risk from this event would take its toll on inflation rather than on domestic demand that could undermine GDP prospects,” PNB said. Julito G. Rada

E-cigs seen as less harmful relative to cigarettes—WHO representative

CLARK DEVELOPMENTS. Clark Investors and Locators Association chairman Dr. Irineo Alvaro Jr. is looking forward to more developments in Clark Freeport in the long haul. Alvaro is bullish on future developments inside the Freeport, citing among others the soon-to-open airport terminal and the influx of tourists that will spur more business developments and expansions, and in turn create more job opportunities.

A REPRESENTATIVE of the World Health Organization who attended a congressional hearing in the Philippines acknowledged that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes. Dr. Ranti Fayokun, a scientist in the National Capacity-Tobacco Control Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases, made the comment in response to a question from a Filipino congressman during the hearing on vaping regulation conducted by the House of Representatives in December last year. Fayokun’s admission was made amid the organization’s cautious stand on ecigarettes despite the mounting scientific evidence that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Public Health England has always maintained that e-cigarettes are 95-percent less harmful than tobacco and has encouraged smokers who could not quit smoking to switch to the less harmful alternative.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2018 released a report stating that “completely switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes will reduce exposure to numerous toxicants and carcinogens found in cigarettes”. “They [World Health Organization) are saying if you are a country that cannot produce regulation and cannot enforce regulation, you must ban. That, to me, is a contradiction. A country cannot regulate perfectly, but the last thing it should do is ban because the black market will proliferate. This is an issue that is extremely important to children. If we ban things, if we do not regulate things, we create a black market that does not care about children, that does not care about elderly people, that does not care about us at all,” Dr. Andrew da Roza, an addiction psychotherapist and lawyer said in the congressional hearing.




Stocks tumble; Meralco declines T HE stock market slumped Wednesday in step with the rest of Asia and on fears Taal Volcano’s eruption could disrupt livestock and fish production in the Southern Tagalog region and lead to higher food prices.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index plunged 128.85 points, or 1.6 percent, to 7,664.40 on a value turnover of slightly over P7 billion. Losers beat gainers, 118 to 76, with 35 issues unchanged. The Taal Volcano eruption will have an impact on the trajectory of inflation in the days ahead because the southern Tagalog region is a main contributor to the supply of livestock and fish nationwide, Philippine National Bank said in a report Wednesday.

“We worry that the Taal eruption may put pressure on food prices of livestock particularly chicken and hogs (as well as fish supply) since CALABARZON— Taal’s location and region most affected, is a significant contributor to local production of livestock,” it said. Manila Electric Co., the biggest retailer of electricity, dropped 4.1 percent to P292.40, while JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Gokongwei Group fell 3.9 percent to P73.50. Major power producer Aboitiz Power Corp. declined 3.8 percent to P32.50, while Security Bank Corp., the sixthlargest lender in terms of assets, was down 3.6 percent to P185. The rest of Asian markets fell Wednesday as investors took their foot off the pedal following weeks of gains, with focus on the signing later in the day of the China-US trade deal. With few other catalysts to drive buying on Wednesday, regional markets

tracked a weak lead from Wall Street. Tokyo and Shanghai both ended down 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong was off 0.6 percent in the afternoon. Seoul and Singapore each dropped 0.4 percent, while there were also deep losses in Mumbai, Taipei, Bangkok and Jakarta, though Sydney and Wellington rose. While the mood on trading floors was broadly upbeat as tensions between the economic superpowers ease, analysts warned there will not likely be much more progress on the next phase of talks ahead of the November US presidential election. The mini pact, which has de-escalated a two-year stand-off that has jolted the global economy, saw the White House halve tariffs imposed on September 1 on $120 billion of Chinese goods and cancel another round set for December 15. In return, Beijing pledged vast sums to buy US products including pork and soybeans.

Still, the next round of negotiations is expected to be the toughest, with key issues including China’s massive subsidies for state industry and forced technology transfer proving key sticking points. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied a report that it could include provisions to roll back more levies on China after the presidential vote, with progress on phase two the key to measures being removed. But he did tell Fox Business network: “I think phase one is an enormous step in the right direction.” Officials said full details would be made public after the signing ceremony in Washington. “We should not expect further tariff relief until after the November presidential elections, suggesting that today’s agreement is probably as good as it gets for 2020,” said National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland. AFP

Manila Standard BuSineSS daily StockS review wedneSday, January 15, 2020










53.6 86.45 2.34 155 0.88 25.05 18.02 12 3.75 6.81 65.8 12.02 20.8 33.2 178 58 23 192 58.5

53.9 86.45 2.43 155.1 0.89 25.05 18.1 12.32 3.95 6.81 65.8 12.02 20.8 33.95 178 58 23 192 58.5

53.6 83.65 2.24 153.2 0.88 25 18.02 11.94 3.71 6.81 64.95 12.02 20.8 32.1 174 58 22.6 185 58.4

FINANCIALS 53.9 960 83.7 3,221,650 2.43 222,000 153.2 3,331,300 0.89 15,000 25.05 68,200 18.1 1,700 12.28 347,100 3.93 75,000 6.81 1,600 65 2,967,360 12.02 45,600 20.8 1,400 32.1 644,200 177.8 420 58 170 22.6 13,400 185 576,790 58.4 280

51,594 271,983,643.50 524,410 513,125,491 13,310 1,706,905 30,642 4,221,866 291,650 10,896 192,946,793.50 548,112 29,120 21,049,485 73,538 9,860 305,420 107,676,671 16,359

-113,385,332 -40,205,248 10,020 -195,324 7,540 -96,530,816.50 8,320 -12,081,255 -271,320 -50,728,181 -9,928


33.8 2.3 12.78 0.54 1.24 2.98 0.234 1.58 15.14 7.15 16.7 32.2 68 2.12 4.8 9.48 13.66 9.11 7.24 22.4 66.4 1.47 38.4 2.07 13.78 7.84 1.25 211 6.96 10.42 11.36 15.16 304.8 1.91 4.25 4.03 10 11.8 33.05 4.8 5.3 1.92 1.76 0.97 9.4 79.5 8.78 0.12 0.99 148.5 2.42 1.23 0.93

33.8 2.38 12.8 0.55 1.24 3.05 0.236 1.62 15.14 7.25 18.78 32.4 71 2.16 5.15 9.48 14.18 9.18 7.3 22.4 66.8 1.53 38.4 2.12 13.78 7.95 1.28 212 7.21 10.48 11.38 15.16 306 1.91 4.25 4.03 10 12 33.4 4.8 5.3 1.92 1.76 1.01 9.85 79.6 8.84 0.12 0.99 150 2.58 1.23 0.97

32.4 2.3 12.6 0.54 1.24 2.96 0.233 1.57 15 6.53 16.6 32.2 67 2.12 4.8 9.29 13.66 9 7.2 21.5 66.2 1.45 37.15 2.03 13.6 7.7 1.23 206 6.96 9.99 11.18 14.62 287 1.8 4.25 3.95 10 11.8 32.9 4.75 5.2 1.88 1.76 0.94 9.4 73.5 8.78 0.12 0.99 147.1 2.42 1.2 0.92

INDUSTRIAL 32.5 2,341,200 2.32 2,767,000 12.6 901,500 0.55 578,000 1.24 11,000 3 1,064,000 0.236 490,000 1.57 33,129,000 15.02 23,100 6.6 4,663,400 18.78 7,400 32.25 5,100 71 470 2.16 32,000 5.15 400 9.34 1,622,000 13.7 186,100 9 55,200 7.22 5,923,700 21.6 1,373,200 66.45 238,290 1.45 26,782,000 38.2 17,400 2.11 6,691,000 13.6 129,300 7.8 739,100 1.27 120,000 206 308,320 7.05 35,900 10.04 5,549,900 11.28 106,700 15 1,363,700 292.4 254,360 1.84 710,000 4.25 2,000 3.99 1,198,000 10 11,200 12 30,800 32.95 123,700 4.8 354,000 5.29 12,900 1.89 580,000 1.76 1,000 1 325,000 9.85 252,700 75 269,240 8.81 206,300 0.12 240,000 0.99 1,000 150 878,310 2.58 70,000 1.21 1,518,000 0.95 1,108,000

77,429,375 6,477,820 11,485,384 313,560 13,640 3,180,250 114,960 52,618,780 349,030 31,778,482 123,458 164,510 32,000 68,080 2,025 15,148,688 2,550,078 498,671 42,769,447 29,689,565 15,818,882.50 39,611,900 665,605 14,002,890 1,768,412 5,759,203 151,910 63,980,130 253,335 56,268,410 1,205,238 20,392,924 75,078,194 1,327,820 8,500 4,780,110 112,000 366,500 4,084,845 1,698,880 67,880 1,101,620 1,760 313,810 2,449,649 20,473,882 1,816,020 28,800 990 130,853,071 169,560 1,841,170 1,043,180

-46,338,045 751,830 -4,209,120 8,930 -34,899,420 34,968 209,580 138,590 8,520 13,040,544 67,392 -135,318 -3,904,347 -14,136,680 -8,181,211.50 48,820 57,795 3,152,240 2,678,070 -10,240 -1,383,062 -1,894 4,722,893 351,342 -18,045,288 -45,534,250 -175,740 8,500 -206,890 -34,538 732,385 -14,440 -17,803 72,135 -4,906,815 -208,582 29,608,328 -2,580 -410,860 -


0.9 51.7 11.2 0.67 6.4 12.04 0.93 0.94 790 2.93 6.54 6.75 13 3.61 810 5.4 78.1 6.51 0.5 3.76 11.4 0.59 3.79 5.04 1.26 157 1,076 0.8 190 213.8 0.21 0.212

0.92 52.4 11.22 0.69 6.4 12.06 0.94 0.95 792 2.93 6.75 6.83 13.18 3.61 810 5.4 78.3 6.62 0.5 3.76 11.6 0.6 3.79 5.17 1.26 157.5 1,076 0.82 195 213.8 0.216 0.24

0.89 51.7 11 0.67 6.3 11.2 0.93 0.94 777.5 2.83 6.54 6.6 13 3.61 785 5.4 73.5 6.51 0.49 3.72 11.26 0.59 3.7 4.9 1.18 151.6 1,056 0.8 190 203.2 0.202 0.212

HOLDING FIRMS 0.89 2,746,000 52.4 805,600 11 3,986,900 0.69 140,000 6.35 32,500 11.2 27,700 0.94 1,383,000 619,000 0.94 790 350,630 2.85 782,000 6.71 426,800 6.69 7,793,600 13.16 35,200 3.61 5,000 785 107,760 5.4 4,009,000 73.5 3,664,770 6.62 103,000 0.5 33,000 3.72 71,000 11.3 936,500 0.6 89,000 3.7 43,778,000 5 95,200 1.18 152,000 151.6 255,280 1,060 119,465 0.81 53,000 195 130 207.2 360 0.206 240,000 0.218 6,380,000

2,471,280 42,035,770.50 44,098,418 93,980 206,095 322,386 1,291,530 582,850 274,897,550 2,241,380 2,854,408 52,178,427 463,336 18,050 85,676,080 21,648,600 273,169,355.50 677,800 16,200 265,830 10,693,692 53,210 163,404,870 478,222 179,930 39,101,816 126,742,525 42,520 25,240 74,936 51,500 1,442,720

10,121,992 -11,379,730 -44,230 -7,560 468,150 -10,512,830 -137,570 75,534 -25,241,428 -7,800 -46,434,745 -39,420 -128,039,508.50 -41,040 5,422,614 45,780,710 34,800 -11,470,438 -1,404,170 -16,000 35,588 2,200


14.72 0.71 1.44 0.84 43.85 1.9 4.8 6.5 0.55 0.83 0.184 9.22 18.26 0.43 1.55 1.17 4.37 0.243 0.41 1.21 0.325 2.2 27.75 2.09

14.74 0.73 1.44 0.88 44 1.9 4.8 6.89 0.55 0.83 0.184 9.66 18.6 0.43 1.56 1.17 4.37 0.26 0.41 1.21 0.355 2.24 28.1 2.11

14.72 0.71 1.4 0.84 43.2 1.88 4.67 6.5 0.54 0.83 0.181 9.22 18.26 0.43 1.52 1.09 4.27 0.243 0.41 1.18 0.325 2.17 27.25 2.09

PROPERTY 14.72 501,800 0.72 57,000 1.4 6,000 0.87 4,030,000 43.2 6,208,500 1.88 387,000 4.7 412,000 6.88 91,000 0.55 1,095,000 0.83 23,000 0.181 290,000 9.65 87,600 18.3 230,000 0.43 20,000 1.54 17,433,000 1.12 281,000 4.32 27,371,000 0.247 59,250,000 0.41 30,000 1.18 558,000 0.345 1,130,000 2.17 406,000 27.6 1,752,300 2.11 52,000








3.24 40.9 2.42 1.67 7.46 5.87

3.24 40.95 2.45 1.69 7.46 5.87

3.24 40.5 2.42 1.57 7.4 5.8

3.24 40.7 2.43 1.57 7.4 5.85

20,000 14,451,500 27,000 12,022,000 8,099,800 41,300

64,800 588,151,950 65,600 19,462,990 59,971,622 241,577


9.85 18.2 11.52 0.41 0.045 3.65 10.9 88.5 5.58 8.54 890 1,996 5.41 435 1.31 1.77 131.9 7.8 0.102 4 13.94 2.45 14.3 0.41 3.2 2.09 0.9 1 2.68 2.34 7.5 4.5 138.1 2.69 1,110 0.61 0.345 39.75 79.2 9.45 2.73 0.6 0.27 0.61 18.48

9.85 18.4 11.54 0.41 0.047 3.9 11 88.85 5.61 8.85 892 2,066 5.45 449 1.45 1.77 132.8 7.8 0.11 4.1 13.94 2.52 14.4 0.41 3.2 2.1 0.96 1 2.68 2.34 7.85 4.5 138.1 2.7 1,110 0.61 0.37 40.1 79.2 9.45 2.74 0.61 0.28 0.63 18.7

9.6 18 11.48 0.4 0.045 3.56 10.74 88.45 5.44 8.54 890 1,996 5.41 429.2 1.31 1.66 130.5 7.8 0.102 3.92 13.94 2.45 13.12 0.41 3.18 2.08 0.9 1 2.53 2.2 7.3 4.5 137 2.61 1,082 0.59 0.345 39 77.5 9.28 2.7 0.6 0.265 0.61 18.4

SERVICES 9.6 18.02 11.5 0.405 0.047 3.56 10.84 88.7 5.57 8.6 892 2,062 5.45 438.6 1.42 1.66 131.5 7.8 0.106 4.1 13.94 2.45 13.22 0.41 3.2 2.09 0.96 1 2.57 2.3 7.85 4.5 137 2.61 1,082 0.6 0.365 39.1 78 9.44 2.71 0.61 0.27 0.62 18.6

3,800 265,400 1,018,000 390,000 8,700,000 2,946,000 1,499,700 52,400 487,600 9,200 50 93,230 176,800 47,190 4,485,000 8,000 1,524,240 100 4,480,000 6,845,000 700 101,000 1,758,000 100,000 122,000 628,000 45,000 5,000 1,633,000 95,000 6,200 2,000 370 430,000 264,715 4,791,000 14,900,000 802,300 676,450 4,200 1,586,000 21,857,000 2,830,000 591,000 7,111,000

37,075 4,797,940 11,705,286 158,300 399,200 11,005,540 16,258,910 4,646,453 2,713,735 79,395 44,530 191,912,740 960,306 20,717,766 6,250,880 13,620 200,705,687 780 474,810 27,665,250 9,758 247,660 23,665,096 41,000 388,700 1,314,470 40,560 5,000 4,242,990 213,660 48,305 9,000 50,755 1,134,500 290,250,770 2,854,820 5,366,000 31,705,485 52,861,559.50 39,585 4,303,730 13,116,530 765,500 362,620 132,127,994


0.0014 9.2 1.03 2.5 10.9 1.1 2.9 0.27 7.19 1.62 0.202 0.101 0.9 3.06 1.02 0.42 0.75 0.011 0.01 3.05 9.62 21.9

0.0014 9.2 1.06 2.5 10.9 1.1 2.95 0.27 7.19 1.65 0.24 0.101 0.91 3.19 1.12 0.425 0.76 0.012 0.011 3.05 9.62 21.9

0.0014 8.4 1.03 2.5 10.9 1.1 2.84 0.27 7.08 1.56 0.202 0.099 0.89 3.04 1.02 0.42 0.74 0.011 0.01 2.96 9.2 21.55

MINING & OIL 0.0014 9,000,000 8.75 630,200 1.05 732,000 2.5 256,000 10.9 100 1.1 12,000 2.86 2,104,000 0.27 110,000 7.19 900 1.58 5,011,000 0.22 24,700,000 0.099 320,000 0.89 544,000 3.19 6,977,000 1.08 1,313,000 0.425 40,000 0.76 53,000 0.011 16,200,000 0.011 23,200,000 2.96 699,000 9.33 450,400 21.9 1,173,700

12,600 5,447,618 762,290 640,000 1,090 13,200 6,025,620 29,700 6,396 7,942,680 5,575,250 31,920 489,160 21,896,330 1,416,830 16,950 40,040 184,800 255,000 2,107,330 4,220,460 25,555,915

103,117 -640,000 13,200 -206,640 -1,217,380 -180,000 1,153,700 -50,180 -12,750 -1,742,930 -1,550,440 -6,606,400


17.22 501.5 500 101.5 104.9 101.2 100.5 110.7 501 5.44 970 99.05 100.7 1,030 1,055 108.9 1,029 78 75.2 75 75.85 75.1

17.22 501.5 500 101.5 105 101.5 100.5 110.7 502 5.48 970 99.75 100.7 1,030 1,055 108.9 1,030 78 75.2 75 76 75.1

16.98 501.5 500 101.5 104.9 101.2 100.5 103.8 501 5.4 970 99.05 100.2 1,027 1,055 108.9 1,028 76.8 75.2 75 75.8 75.1

PREFERRED 16.98 387,000 501.5 5,210 500 60 101.5 860 105 14,100 101.3 3,080 100.5 180 110 10,330 501 12,020 5.4 52,900 970 50 99.75 6,910 100.2 22,270 1,027 1,560 1,055 10,120 108.9 1,210 1,028 4,835 77.6 93,810 75.2 200 75 27,000 76 13,920 75.1 6,000

6,586,240 2,612,815 30,000 87,290 1,480,442 312,293 18,090 1,085,832 6,029,020 288,133 48,500 689,265.50 2,232,699 1,605,900 10,676,600 131,769 4,976,405 7,234,082 15,040 2,025,000 1,055,555 450,600

-3,062,840 -50,600 281,593 -





WARRANTS 1.24 10,000



4 10.24 0.88

4.12 10.24 0.89

3.92 9.7 0.85

4.05 9.84 0.86





MS 7,386,556 40,770 8,550 3,478,140 270,442,585 731,100 1,944,760 625,911 594,830 19,090 52,520 840,895 4,239,830 8,600 26,769,860 309,520 118,293,340 14,860,770 12,300 661,390 387,450 896,340 48,466,105 109,290

-8,800 -41,222,545 28,410 75,080 616,348 -52,800 -138,737 -1,202,864 3,587,280 -15,690,240 -29,290 -21,600 7,000 89,200 5,546,275 -






Trading Summary


















152,000 255,900 2,831,000




-16,200 -122,938,235 -10,076,076 -1,930.00 -1,651,958 113,610 8,383,134 207,109.50 178,560 52,391,940 268,220 -85,437,782 352,340.00 -2,450 -10,266,902 -551,680 4,000 2,780 -124,500 -12,395 -18,470 -44,004,610 -439,800 -120,900.00 -2,156,815 -33,989,217.50 130,290 36,920 41,245,806


603,420 2,529,296 2,472,670

-9,850 -





VALUE 1,802.72 (DOWN) 34.00 1,589,511,588.93 FINANCIAL INDUSTRIAL 9,383.22 (DOWN) 149.86 1,452,988,447.965 HOLDING FIRMS 7,493.46 (DOWN) 128.01 1,439,733,245.51 PROPERTY 4,024.26 (DOWN) 43.21 SERVICES 1,556.05 (DOWN) 22.04 1,361,480,132.14 MINING & OIL 7,969.46 (UP) 18.22 1,103,983,688.82 PSEI 7,664.40 (DOWN) 128.85 82,687,461.72 All Shares Index 4,539.30 (DOWN) 66.67 7,037,371,859.66 Gainers: 76; Losers: 118; Unchanged: 35; Total: 229

PSBank sells P4.65b worth of bonds after strong demand By Julito G. Rada PHILIPPINE Savings Bank, the thriftbanking unit of the Metrobank Group, raised P4.65 billion from the issuance of peso-denominated fixed-rate bonds due to strong demand from investors. The bank said in a statement the amount raised was significantly higher than the planned initial offer of P3 billion. It said strong demand compelled it to cut short the offering period to Jan. 13, 2020 from Jan. 21, 2020. “The three-year peso fixed-rate bonds which was priced at 4.5 percent per annum were almost two times oversubscribed. Interest payments will be paid on a quarterly basis,” PSBank said. The second tranche is part of the banks’s P40-billion funding program. PSBank in July raised P6.3 billion from the first tranche. “Both issuances will give the bank an opportunity to access long-term funding as it further expands its consumer banking business,” it said. The bond will be listed in Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp. on Feb. 4, 2020. Standard Chartered Bank acted as arranger and selling agent, along with Metrobank, First Metro Investment Corp. and PSBank. Philippine Dealing and Trust Corp. will serve as the registry and paying agent of the issuance. Picazo Buyco Tan Fider and Santos served as transaction counsel and Development Bank of the Philippines as trustee. PSBank is one of the biggest thrift banks in the country in terms of assets, loans, deposits, and nationwide coverage. PSBank in the third quarter of 2019 posted a 20-percent jump in net income year on year to P813 million on the back of strong financial results from its core revenues. The third-quarter performance brought the first nine months’ net income to P2.2 billion, up 8.4 percent over the same period in 2018. Core revenues rose 9.3 percent on year, comprising of interest income and fee-based income. The earnings translated into an annualized return-on-assets of 1.2 percent.

Ayala Healthcare completes deal to acquire Healthway By Jenniffer B. Austria AYALA Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health), a wholly-owned subsidiary of conglomerate Ayala Corp., completed the acquisition of Healthway Philippines Inc., one of the leading clinic networks in the country, for an undisclosed amount. The parent company said in a disclosure to the stock exchange the purchase made AC Health the new sole owner of Healthway Philippines. The acquisition is aligned with AC Health’s efforts to expand its reach across the healthcare industry. “Healthway’s 7 specialty clinics and 40 corporate clinics integrate with the healthcare ecosystem under AC Health’s current portfolio of primary healthcare clinics, retail pharmacies, and health technology platforms,” the company said. “Through Healthway’s specialty clinics that offer a comprehensive range of out-patient services including specialty consults, imaging, laboratory, specialized diagnostics, ambulatory surgical services, dental services, and physical therapy, AC Health will be able to serve a broader base of patients that require more than basic diagnostics and primary care,” it added. AC Health plans to tap into potential synergies, including patient referrals, sharing of medical professionals and integration of diagnostics and pharmacy services. With the acquisition, Healthway is seen to supplement and expand AC Health’s clinic portfolio, which currently includes 70 FamilyDOC community-based primary care clinics and 10 corporate clinics. Healthway, which serves as a pharmaceutical distribution channel, will also realize value in integrating with AC Health’s pharma assets, such as IE Medica, MedEthix, and Generika. Healthway patients will benefit from a wider variety of pharmaceuticals to be made available across various price points.




Hong Kong protest shoppers seek to reward their backers

HOLY DIP. A Sadhu (Hindu holy man) arrives with devotees to take a holy dip during the Makar Sankranti festival at the annual Magh Mela Festival at Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad on January 15. AFP

HONG KONG―Seven months of unrest have taken a heavy toll on many Hong Kong businesses, but pro-democracy protesters are now seeking to reward the shops and restaurants that support their cause by building a “yellow” economy. In contrast, “blue” pro-government and pro-China businesses are frequent targets for vandalism or boycotts. At Fu Kee Noodles in Wan Chai, diners slurp wonton under the watchful gaze of a gas mask-wearing Pepe the Frog, which has become a mascot of the pro-democracy movement. “This is a yellow shop, the boss supports the protesters, so we decided to come,” said a 47-year-old advertising employee calling himself Gilbert. “The most important thing in Hong Kong now is that we need to help each other, especially when the government does not help us.” Posters and post-it notes with pro-

democracy messages cover the wall by the cashier. Owner Kwong Chun-hin, 30, told AFP he hopes the yellow-blue tagging will become a trend “because this is good for us. I mean not just my shop, I mean all shops”. Some businesses openly advertise their sympathies, undeterred by the possible loss of revenues. Apps and websites advise users on which way shops and restaurants sway. At her bakery in Sai Wan district, Naomi Suen sells cookies and mooncakes decorated with protest slogans. “I don’t know the exact definition of the yellow economy. I am just doing what I can to support Hong Kong people,” Suen told AFP. In Hung Hom, site of some of the most violent clashes of the movement in November, when students barricaded themselves inside a university, diners queuing outside Lung Mun Cafe expressed a similar sentiment. AFP

Taiwan already independent, Tsai warns China


AIPEI―China must rethink its hard-line stance towards Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen said Wednesday, as she warned the island was already independent and that any invasion would be “very costly” for Beijing. Tsai won a second term over the weekend with a record 8.2 million votes, an outcome that was seen as a forceful rebuke of China’s ongoing campaign to isolate the self-ruled island. China’s leadership had made no secret of its desire to see Tsai turfed out because she and her party refuse to acknowledge their view that the island is part of a “one China”.

IN BRIEF Minister announces paternity leave

TOKYO―Japan’s environment minister said Wednesday he would take two weeks of paternity leave, the first time a cabinet minister has publicly committed to such a move in the country. Shinjiro Koizumi, a media-savvy 38-year-old married to a former television anchorwoman, told a ministry meeting it had been a difficult decision to balance his duties as minister and his desire to be with his newborn. “I want to take a total of two weeks off flexibly, making exceptions for important public duties,” he said, adding he hoped his decision would help change perceptions and encourage other fathers to follow suit. He will not take the weeks off consecutively and said he expected to work remotely or have shortened days during the leave period -- which will be spread over three months from his child’s birth. The government’s top spokesman backed the move, saying it was “important to create a conducive work-place atmosphere and social acceptance and support for men to ask for and take parental leave.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that he hoped Koizumi’s decision would have a positive impact on attitudes to male parenting. There are no official records on whether cabinet ministers have previously taken parental leave, but Koizumi is the first to publicly announce he is doing so. AFP

Sudan pressed for reparations

WASHINGTON―The United States warned Sudan Tuesday that payment of reparations for victims of terrorism is a priority for Washington as it considers removing Khartoum from a US blacklist. The number three official at the State Department, David Hale, met in Washington with Sudanese Foreign Minister Asma Mohamed Abdalla. They discussed “relevant policy and statutory criteria for rescission of Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation,” department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. Since 1993 Sudan has been on the list of countries the United States deems backers of terrorism for having granted safe haven to Osama bin Laden. But in recent years Washington has allowed progressively warmer relations with Sudan, citing what it called progress in the fight against terrorism, until in 2017 it lifted a 20-year-old economic embargo. Since the overthrow last April of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir and the emergence of a transitional government strongly backed by Washington, the process of removing Sudan from the blacklist could go even faster. For Sudan officials, who see winning Washington’s blessing as important for economic growth, removal from the list is key. Hale, whose title is under secretary for political affairs, believes that “compensation for the victims of terrorism remains a priority for the US government,” Ortagus said. AFP

Beijing regards Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary―especially if it declares independence. But in her first interview since Saturday’s re-election, Tsai told the BBC there was no need to formally announce independence because the island already runs itself. “We don’t have a need to declare our-

selves an independent state,” she said in the interview, which aired on Wednesday. “We are an independent country already and we call ourselves the Republic of China, Taiwan.” Modern Taiwan has been run separately from the mainland for the last 70 years. For decades, it was a dictatorship under Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists following their 1949 defeat to the communists in China’s civil war. But since the 1980s, it has morphed into one of Asia’s most progressive democracies, although it is only diplomatically recognized by a dwindling handful

of countries. Polls show growing numbers of Taiwanese reject the idea that the island should be part of the Chinese mainland. “We have a separate identity and we’re a country of our own,” Tsai said. “We deserve respect from China”. China has greeted Tsai’s re-election with anger, warning against any move to push the island closer towards independence. “Splitting the country is doomed to leave a name that will stink for eternity,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this week. Chinese state media also accused Tsai of winning the election through cheat-

ing, without providing evidence. On Wednesday, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said there were no plans to change policy towards the island after the landslide election. “Taiwan’s future lies in the unification of the country,” spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said, adding its future must be decided by “all Chinese people”. But Tsai said China should respect the wishes of Taiwan’s electorate. “I hope the Chinese side can understand in-depth the opinion and will expressed by Taiwanese people in this election and can review some of their current policies,” she told reporters on Wednesday. AFP

New trial opens for disgraced ex-leader Park

US Democrats lock horns over war and gender

SEOUL―The retrial of ousted former South Korean president Park Geunhye began Wednesday over the sprawling corruption scandal that saw her impeached, convicted and jailed, only for the hearing to end after five minutes. Park, the country’s first female president, boycotted the session, Yonhap news agency reported. She has refused to take part in the judicial proceedings against her for more than two years. As a result, the Seoul High Court adjourned and scheduled another session for January 31, when it will move straight to closing arguments, Yonhap reported. Park was brought down in 2017 after huge street protests triggered by allegations that she and a close friend took bribes from top conglomerates for government favors. She was convicted in April 2018 on bribery and abuse of power charges and sentenced to 24 years, later extended for an additional 12 months, and 20 billion won ($17 million) in fines. She has also been sentenced to five years’ jail for illegally taking money from the country’s spy agency and two years for election law violations. The penalties apply consecutively, meaning she is currently serving a total of 32 years. But the Supreme Court has ordered a combined retrial of the corruption and spy agency cases, saying some of the bribery accusations should have been dealt with as separate charges―which may lead to a heavier sentence. The corruption scandal exposed shady links between big businesses and politics in South Korea, with Park and her close friend Choi Soon-sil accused of taking bribes from conglomerates including Samsung Electronics in exchange for preferential treatment. Park was convicted in April 2018 of receiving or demanding more than $20 million, sharing secret state documents, “blacklisting” artists critical of her policies, and firing officials who resisted her abuses of power. Her left-leaning successor Moon Jae-in was swept to power by the public backlash against her and her conservative party. South Korean presidents have frequently ended up in prison after their time in power, usually once their political rivals have moved into the presidential Blue House.AFP

DES MOINES―Leftist Bernie Sanders attacked front runner Joe Biden on foreign policy Tuesday but found himself fighting accusations of sexism in the final presidential debate before Democrats begin choosing who challenges incumbent Donald Trump in November’s election. With no candidate yet to carve out a clear lead less than three weeks to go before the first votes in the nominations battle, the stakes were high for the six presidential hopefuls on stage in Iowa. The largely civilized showdown defied earlier expectations of fireworks, with tensions largely held in check during the two-hour debate. But a rift between Sanders and fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren appeared to widen afterwards when Warren declined to shake hands with her long-time friend and fellow progressive. The candidates tangled over everything from troop deployments and foreign policy to health care, international trade, climate change and a woman’s chance of winning the White House. Sanders, 78, assailed former vice president Biden, 77, over his vote in support of the 2003 Iraq war as the modern-day tensions in the Middle East dominated the opening exchanges. With Washington’s conflict with Iran as the backdrop, non-interventionist Sanders drew a sharp contrast, saying that while he opposed an Iraq war that was “based on lies,” former vice president Biden trumpeted the effort. “I thought they were lying,” Sanders said of the Bush administration’s justifications for war in 2002. “I didn’t believe them for a moment. Joe saw it differently.” Biden said he had long acknowledged the war was “a mistake” but refrained from sparring with Sanders over Iraq. Instead, Biden appealed for unity in preventing Trump from winning a second term. “The American character is on the ballot,” Biden said. “Not what Donald Trump is spewing out -- the hate, the xenophobia, the racism. That’s not what we are as a nation.” Each candidate is desperate for a breakout moment that could give them the vital momentum heading into the Iowa caucases on February 3 which begins the presidential primary season. AFP

SCREENING. Natalia Baca speaks during the BAFTA Screening of Investigation Discovery’s ‘IN MEMORIAM’ at The London Hotel on January 14, 2020, in West Hollywood, California. AFP

White rabbit woos world with niceties PARIS―A giggly white rabbit called Molang, who loves nothing more than cuddles and helping his friends, has become a global children’s megastar. The ever-smiling character began as an emoji in South Korea before the French animation studio Millimages gave him new life as the star of his own quirky kids series four years ago. It has since become a global sensation not just for pre-school children at which it was first aimed, but also among teenagers and adults who have been swept up in its fluffball of cuteness. “Molang” now shows in 190 countries including China and has been picked up by both Disney and Netflix. “Molang is a big round rabbit, who is extremely positive, imaginative and enthusiastic,” said Marie-Caroline Villand, who developed the animated character from the emoji created by Yoon Hye-Ji.

Molang and his best friend, a chick called Piu-Piu, are kindergarten Laurel and Hardys, forever getting themselves into a tizz in bite-sized five-minute adventures that always end with a smile. Piu-Piu is “smaller, a little more nervous and shy,” Villand told AFP at the Millimages Paris studio near the picturesque Canal Saint Martin, where some 100 animators work on the series. She also helped come up with the very particular language that the characters speak, which although utter nonsense is actually quite easy to understand. Molangese is a mix of French, Italian and Russian with a smattering of gibberish, which means anyone anywhere can understand it without need for dubbing. “The words are very clearly said and they come back all the time,” said Villand, meaning fans quickly get the drift.AFP

Jimbo Owen Gulle, Editor




Manila Water tankers, initially carrying a combined 248 cubic meters of water, brought potable water to 19 evacuation centers in Batangas and Laguna, and have since been refilled thrice, serving a total of 10,000 evacuees to date. Roy Tomandao


Isko tells fish vendors: Get rid of ‘suki’ system TO avoid shortage of fish supply, especially tilapia and bangus following the Taal volcano eruption, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso told fish vendors Wednesday to get rid of the “suki” (favored buyer) system. Domagoso said some fish dealers opted not to sell these fishes coming from Batangas, Laguna and Cavite, which were adversely affected by the Sunday eruption of Taal Volcano. In an interview over radio DZMM, Domagoso said more products would be coming in from Central Luzon and the Cordillera Administrative Region to cushion the impact of the lack of supply of these fishes due to the eruption. Domagoso said the additional fish supply was assured by the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Domagoso reminded fish dealers to accept the fish supply from the north, as he noted that some fish dealers have only been accepting supplies from their “suki.” “We already gave a directive to our market administrator, son our 17 markets to accept all kinds of supppy coming from the north since there’s the so-called suki-suki, but if the ‘suki’ supplier is absent, they wouldn’t buy,” Domagoso said. “So if they don’t get (fish supply from the north), there will be shortage, “ said Domagoso. “But there’s enough supply, only they come from othr places. So they have no reason to jack up their prices,” he added. The mayor told fish dealers to refrain from increasing their prices amid a a reported shortage of bangus and tilapia products coming from Batangas, Laguna and Cavite. Stacy Ang

Ayala firms lead private aid relief A

YALA Corp. is spearheading relief efforts from the private sector for victims of Taal Volcano’s recent eruption.

Thirty water tankers containing a total of 248 cubic meters of water have been initially dispatched to 19 evacuation centers in Batangas and Laguna. These have been thrice refilled by Laguna Water since Monday. A total of 10,000 evacuees availed of the free drinking water from the tankers. Manila Water, in coordination with the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, continues to provide clean drinking water to evacuation centers in the town of Sto. Tomas, Tanauan City, Lipa City, Batangas City, San Pascual, San Luis at Cuenca, including Tagaytay City and Alfonso in Cavite.

Manila Water Foundation also distributed 2,000 five-gallon bottles of drinking water in Sta. Teresita and Bauan, Batangas for evacuees from the towns of Agoncillo, San Nicolas, Laurel, Taal and Talisay. Meanwhile, Globe Telecom has set up five Free Calls and Charging Stations in Cavite (Brgy. Amuyong Covered Court, Bagong Tubig Barangay Hall, Brgy. Kaybagal South Old Rehab Center, and Luksihin National HS sa Brgy. Luksuhin) and Batangas (Sto.Tomas City Evacuation Center Poblacion 3). Globe is also ready to set up additional Free Calls and Charging Stations if necessary to ensure that people stay connected during this time of calamity. Globe continues to provide free and unlimited Go WiFi internet connection in all four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which have cancelled thousands of flights due to hazards posed by volcanic ash from

Taal Volcano. The AC Health is also fully prepared to give medical assistance to those who have been affected by the volcanic eruption. Branches of Generika Drugstore, except for those in immediate danger zones in Batangas and Cavite, remained open until Monday to extend assistance. Ayala Group has been relentless in coordinating with concerned local government units in order to assure aid for affected communities. According to the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, the communities urgently need donations including N95 face masks, food, mats, hygiene kits, gensets and generous amounts of drinking water. Meanwhile, community organizations like the Philippine Canadian Charitable Foundation have started relief operations for victims of the volcanic eruption.

According to Rosemer Enverga, the organization’s president, the group is headed to the Philippines to carry out their humanitarian and relief mission. Enverga said the organization is appealing for monetary donations to enable their volunteers to buy the necessary supplies like face masks and eye drops. “Right now we’re appealing to the public to help out. The next few days are very critical. Right now they’ve lost their houses, they have nothing. They might have shelters for now but after that they need more help. Now they need food, masks and eye drops,” said Enverga. Megaworld Foundation has also organized relief operations for more than 400 families affected by the calamity. The foundation said it has also pledged to donate to relief efforts of the ABS-CBN Foundation and two other groups.

DPWH finishes P279-m slope work for Taguig River flooding By Vito Barcelo THE Department of Public Works and Highways has completed the P279.3million slope protection project along Taguig River that will ensure safety of residents from floods during typhoons. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said the river is prone to overflowing during the rainy season and the construction of protective structure will help prevent flooding in the City of Taguig and Pateros. “As a tributary of Pasig River, Taguig River bounds places in Taguig and Pateros that are very susceptible to flooding. With the speedy completion of this

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong (center) stands with PLDT Enterprise AVP Dennis Magbatoc (left) and Smart Wi-Fi Head Ina Pineda as they fired up the service after inking an agreement to deploy Smart Wi-Fi in more areas. Inset shows PLDT-Smart representatives turning over Smart Infocast to the city government.

project, residents can be more relieved knowing that a structure now safeguards their lives and properties,” Villar said. He said the project was completed in six months as the slope protection project with bank improvement was implemented into several phases and subprojects situated along Taguig Bridge, M.L. Quezon Bridge, and Taguig River East and West Bank. The project is funded under the 2018 and 2019 General Appropriations Act, Villar said, adding the project was reported to be a part of a proposed linear park and roadway which will serve as an alternate route that will decongest traffic in Taguig.

PLDT boosts Baguio rehab with Smart Wi-Fi RESIDENTS and tourists traveling to Baguio City can look forward to more areas with fast, free and reliable connectivity as PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) expand Smart Wi-Fi coverage in the City of Pines this year. PLDT and Smart recently signed an agreement with Mayor Benjamin Magalong to roll-out fiber-powered, carriergrade Smart WiFi to cover more sites

across Baguio City, including Mines View Park, Burnham Park Reservation, the Public Market, Malcolm Square, Wright Park, Baguio Convention Center, Baguio General Hospital and additional sites on Session Road. Smart WiFi is currently up in heavy foot-traffic areas in the city, including the City Hall of Baguio, The Camp, the National Bureau of Investigation Regional

Office in Upper Session Road, Partas Bus Terminal and Saint Louis University. This rollout of Smart WiFi in Baguio City complements the ongoing expansion of Smart’s LTE network and PLDT’s fiber-to-the-home services in the city and the rest of the country. Signing the contract with Mayor Magalong were Smart WiFi Head Regina P. Pineda and PLDT Enterprise CRM Head Dennis G. Magbatoc.

DEAL FOR POOR. Quezon City Councilor Imee Rillo, the four government hospitals and two funeral parlors recently signed an agreement to give health benefits and burial assistance for free to poor families in the city. Photo shows (from left) Dr. Alfonso G. Nunez, OIC Medical Center chief, East Avenue Medical Center; Dr. Joel M. Abanilla, executive director, Philippine Heart Center; Dr. Epifania S. Simbul, CEO, National Children’s Medical Center; former councilor Marvin Rillo; Dr. Evelyn Victoria R. Reside, Medical Center chief, QMMC; Debra M. Navarro of Amber Green Funeral Services; and Rodel N. Lobo of WYN Funeral Services. Manny Palmero

15 schools in Porac benefit from CDC’s CSR effort CLARK FREEPORT―Fifteen schools in Porac, Pampanga recently benefitted from Clark Development Corporation’s Corporate Social Responsibility program aimed at improving the educational facilities for students in its neighbor communities. Through its External Affairs Division, the state-run firm donated various construction materials to selected schools in Porac. These materials include paints, hol-

low blocks, cement, lumber, roofing, and steel bars among others. The donated materials were identified based on the needs of each school as evaluated by CDC–EAD personnel. CDC president and CEO Noel F. Manankil together with EAD assistant vice president Rommel Narciso led the activity and turned over the materials to the selected schools. Among the beneficiaries of the project are Salu Elementary, Balubad El-

ementary, Jalung Elementary, Pulung Santol Elementary, Palat Elementary, Pias Elementary, Pio Elementary, Mancatian Elementary, and Pulung Santol High School. Likewise, elementary schools in barangay Planas, Mitla, Sepung Bulaun, Katutubo Village, Sapang Uwak and Camias Resettlement in Porac also received the same assistance from CDC. The schools are the first batch of recipients under the project.

Clark Development Corp. president and CEO Noel F. Manankil with CDC assistant vice president for External Affairs Rommel Narciso and Porac Mayor Jaime “Jing” Capil join the representatives of 15 schools in Porac who benefitted from the CDC CSR Program.


Bernadette Lunas, Issue Editor @manilastandardlife




Increase productivity?

Work from home

HOME OFFICE. Several studies reveal employees who telecommute or work from home are more productive because they are less distracted and have more time and energy to spend for actual work. By Steph Llarena


TWO-YEAR Stanford study revealed something many employers in the Philippines don’t know yet: people who work from home are more productive than those who perform their tasks in the office.

Professor Nicholas Bloom’s study involving a Chinese travel agency with 16,000 employees found that work-fromhome employees worked a “true fullshift” or more, and were able to concentrate better versus working in the HQ. Employee attrition also decreased by 50 percent among telecommuters, they

also had fewer sick days, they took shorter breaks, and took less time off. The company saved almost $2,000 per employee on rent by reducing its office space. Telecommuting is seen as a viable business/work model in the Philippines, especially considering the worsening traffic in Metro Manila. Computer? Check! Internet connection? Check! Coffee? Check! Pajamas? Check! Working from home provides telecommuters more flexibility.

Offices, especially those with open-floor space plan, can be distracting and less conducive to some employees.

In a report published in Manila Standard, Maria Victoria Españo, chairperson and chief executive of P&A Grant Thornton, said telecommuting is an effective way employers can attract and retain premier talent, reduce overhead expenses, and increase productivity. “Many workers welcome this development as it eliminates travel time and costs, which has significantly increased due to the worsening traffic,” Españo was quoted as saying. Work-from-home scheme allows employees to save on expenses such as public transport or fuel and parking, food purchases, and clothing costs. They are also less distracted, thus more productive. Employers, meanwhile, save money on office supplies, furniture, equip-

ment, coffee, and janitorial services. But of course, while viable, Españo said employers should first assess whether this arrangement is suitable for its operations or not. This means, telecommuting is not suitable for jobs that require face-to-face interactions, while those that do not require constant supervision and can be performed in other places—so long as the employee has access to the same resources they have in the office—can shift to this scheme. “Telecommuting refers to working from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies,” said Españo. Here lies the importance of reliable technologies, as in Internet connection, gadgets, and software and apps. Employees who are telecommuting

5 ways to optimize the household

Set intention

Before embarking on any project, big or small, having a goal and keeping checklists in order must be the first step. A goal and a procedure laid out enable faster completion. Once changes and appropriate actions have been decided, one may begin updating the home, such, among others, as cleaning and optimizing kitchen, rearranging dining area to accommodate more people, and changing a few items in the rooms to make them more comfortable or aesthetically pleasing.

THE beginning of the year is the perfect time to enact change or update something at home—they can be done any time of the year, though, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to start another chapter with an optimized household. These improvements do not require major renovations, not even minor.

Clean out pantry

Unload kitchen cabinets to see everything stocked up inside.

One of the easiest parts of the house to become cluttered is the pantry. Unload kitchen shelves and cabinets to see everything that is stocked up in them. Once unloaded, wipe down dust and crumbs hiding behind jars and containers. Toss out any expired goods as well as unused cookbooks and cooking magazines. When putting back the items, remember to keep the most used products in front for easy access.

Determine which room will be cleaned and optimized first.

Update kitchen appliances

Energy efficient Premium Inverter Wind-Free Plus. Keep condiments and spices together in one place.

Organize and label

Take control of energy consumption

Take control of the electricity bill this year by making energy-efficient changes. The ways to do it range from consciously saving electricity by turning off the lights or unplugging devices when not in use, to switching to appliances that consume less energy. Consider investing in an air conditioner with Digital Inverter Technology like the Samsung Premium Inverter Wind-Free-Plus. It has a Wind-Free Cooling function that maintains the level of temperature without the unpleasant feeling of cold wind. Most importantly, it saves up to 68 percent energy compared to conventional models.

must have stable, and ideally highspeed, Internet connection. Communication apps are also helpful when working from home. For instance, Viber offers free group call for those meetings that can be done remotely. Telecommuters must also utilize applications that handle file delivery even in large sizes. Google Drive, Dropbox, and Viber send files such as documents, images, and videos, without reducing their quality and file size. It is likewise recommended to use apps that sync across all devices to prevent gaps in communication and foster efficient workflow. It comes in handy when the employee needs to run a quick errand, among other circumstances. Now, who wants to put on their pajamas and start working?

“A place for everything and everything in its place.” It’s easy to misplace objects and end up with a cluttered home when there’s no appropriate place for each items in the house. This is where baskets, crates, and trays come in handy in keeping a clutter-free home. In addition to organizing them, categorize and use labels to make anything easier to locate. Use a label maker or just simply cut out tags and write on them. This is also the chance to determine which items to keep or put up for donation or throw out.

Take a look at the devices and appliances in the kitchen and check for dam damages. Carefully assess the condi condition and decide which ones need to be replaced. It helps if the new appliance matches the current theme or design of the The sleek Samsung kitchen as it keeps the place 3-Door Side by Side looking sleek. refrigerator. For instance, Samsung Side by Side No Frost Space Max Interior, which features a Digi Digital Inverter Compressor technology that reduces wear and tear, is a stylish appliance. For a more accessible way to get food items, the Samsung Turn to C2





OMEOWNERS in a residential community enjoy sustainable living “at its finest” with all the comforts and upscale amenities of a 21st-century lifestyle.

According to Greenfield Deluxe, Trava in Greenfield City, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, was designed to give life to the concept of luxury green living. It offers high-end nature-inspired residences ideal for families. Residential lots span an average of 550 square meters each. There are four modern tropical architectural designs, which ecologically blend with the community’s wide tree-lined roads, available to choose from. The designs of these tropical luxury green abodes are not only energy efficient but provide homeowners a much-needed respite and escape from the urban chaos and stress of Metro Manila. “They are warm and gracious as well as welcoming and sophisticated, epitomizing Trava’s modern tropical suburban architecture, said the developer. The bespoke houses in each of the 315 saleable lots punctuate the natureinspired landscape of the 33-hectare premium residential village. “These Modern and sustainable tropical homes ecologically blend with the upscale community’s wide tree-lined roads. residential enclaves showcase creative configurations of architectural elements that cater to the evolving cosmopolitan and sophisticated tastes of discerning homeowners.” Facilities and amenities include dedicated bike lanes and jogging paths, fully underground utilities, tennis and basketball courts, swimming pools, function rooms, a dance studio, a fitness center with stateof-the-art exercise equipment, and solarpowered areas in the clubhouse. Almost half of the development is allotted to wide open spaces where treelined roads and lush landscaping are integrated. Greenfield Deluxe, as the premiere property arm of Greenfield Development Corporation, aims to transform Trava into the heart and soul of the Greenfield ecosystem anchored on sustainable living and innovation. Residential lots in Trava span an average of 550 square meters each, while facilities include swimming pools and solar-powered clubhouse, among many others.

Redefining luxury green living

Campaign offers new year encouragement MANY list down New Year’s resolutions in hopes of improving themselves; starting fresh and leaving old, bad habits behind. Sticking with them, however, is not as easy as making them. Insurer Manulife Philippines has resolved to help customers jumpstart their New Year’s resolutions through its latest video campaign that takes a humor-

ous spin on common resolutions and looks at how everyone can ensure they see them through. “This is a good time for all of us to reexamine ourselves and start taking positive steps toward achieving both our short- and long-term goals,” said Melissa Henson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Manulife Philippines.

Many Filipinos make New Year’s resolutions.

Insurer Manulife Philippines launches a campaign that takes a humurous spin on common New Year’s resolutions, while encouraging customers to actually see them through.

Henson added, “Manulife Philippines has a wide range of life insurance products that can help secure a better future for Filipino families. We also have professional financial advisors you can consult with to find out which product is best suited to help you achieve your goals.” In addition to this engaging boost, Manulife Philippines is launching an online contest to support those looking to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. All they have to do is share their 2020 New Year’s resolutions on Four of the best entries will each win an insurance plan worth P2 million. “We are thrilled to hear about your New Year’s resolutions, and we look forward to helping you take a step towards achieving your best life,” said Henson.

FWD Insurance president and chief executive Peter Grimes (right) lead the event.

A celebration for all DURING the holiday season, FWD Life Insurance Corporation celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a Paskong Pinoy-themed event at the University of the Philippines in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Together with partners Special Olympics Philippines and Humanity and Inclusion, FWD Insurance—through its Community Care program—marked the occasion with a fun-filled afternoon of all-time favorite Filipino traditional games, team cheers and chants, as well as exciting performances. FWD Insurance president and chief

executive Peter Grimes led the event. “We’re delighted to celebrate this special occasion with our Community Care partners Special Olympics Philippines and Humanity and Inclusion for the second year,” said FWD Insurance vice president and head of marketing Roche Vandenberghe. “As we continue to empower more people to live fulfilled lives, we will continue to shine a light on the talents and abilities of persons with disabilities, and advocate for their right to equally access opportunities in the community,” added Vandenberghe.


Seminar tackles multiple intelligences THE Philippine Center for Gift Education, Inc., in partnership with Promil Four, spearheaded the annual National Week for the Gifted Conference. Experts and keynote speakers discussed multiple intelligences.

Participants included (from left) PCGE advisor y board members Dr. Liezel Angeles, Dr. Elizabeth Vivien Magbata, Dr. Melanie Donkor and Professor Mauricia Bor romeo, Mikaela Samson,

PCGE president Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho, Ryan Tumbocon, and PCGE advisor y board members Dr. Per r y Esguer ra, Professor Hercules Calanta, and Annabelle Sangalan.

The company’s Paskong Pinoy-themed celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

5 ways...

and preserves energy. Meanwhile, the 3-Door Side by Side No Frost Space Max Interior with FlexFrom C1 zone uses SpaceMax technology that French Door has a Food Showcase allows extra food storage because of its feature that allows minimal door thinner walls compared to traditional opening so the refrigerator stays cool refrigerators.




Extra International... From C4

Alicia Keys drops


Top-seller Lewis Capaldi, breakthrough rapper Dave head Brits shortlist Scottish indie singer Lewis Capaldi and rapper will go head to head in this year’s Brits Awards, with both shortlisted for the same four prestigious awards. The pair have been nominated in the male solo artist, song of the year, new artist of the year and album categories, organizers announced late Saturday. London rapper Dave, 21, broke through last year with his album Psychodrama, which topped Britain’s album chart, while Glaswegian Capaldi is up for Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, the country’s bestselling album of 2019. The singer also received a Grammy nomination for his single “Someone You Loved”, which topped the US chart. Grime rapper Stormzy, who headlined Glastonbury Festival in 2019, is shortlisted in three categories, as is singer Mabel, daughter of Swedish star Neneh Cherry. The best international male award

Alicia Keys has released a new single called 'Underdog,' co-penned with Ed Sheeran and co-produced with Johnny McDaid.


LOBAL music icon, 15-time Grammy Award winner and returning Grammy Awards host Alicia Keys, has released her new single and visual for “Underdog” via RCA Records.

The new song features writing credits from both Ed Sheeran and Keys and was produced by the singer herself and Johnny McDaid (Ed Sheeran, P!nk). The music video was directed by Wendy Morgan. Good Morning America provided an exclusive first look at the video last week and the full video was premiered on MTV Live, MTV U and BET Soul as well as on ViacomCBS’s Times Square billboards in NYC. The song premiered first on iHeartRadio and is currently available to purchase and stream across digital platforms. “Some people may think of the word

underdog as a negative word but I see it as a powerful word representing people who may be underestimated and yet still rise to the challenge and exceed expectations,” said Alicia. “I love this song so much because it’s about real life and real people and our experiences. We’ve all been in a place in our lives where we’ve had to defy the odds. It’s never easy. One of my favorite lyrics in the song is, ‘They say I would never make it but I was built to break the mold.’ I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that hasn’t felt that way,” the 38-year-old singer-songwriter added. “Underdog” is the latest offering

from ALICIA, Keys’ forthcoming seventh studio album. The previously-released songs include “Time Machine,” a future funk-inspired odyssey that celebrates the liberation that comes with letting go, and the sultry and vibey first single “Show Me Love,” a duet with Grammy Award winning R&B star Miguel and meditation on the many ways we show love to one another. “Show Me Love” earned Keys a record-extending 11th number 1 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs airplay chart. ALICIA will be released globally this spring. This is just the beginning in what will be an exciting year for the multi hyphenate. On Jan. 26 Keys will return as the host for the Grammy Awards for the second consecutive year, following her critically-praised stint in 2019. The show will air on CBS. Keys’ book More Myself will release on March 31 via Flatiron Publishing.

Last week, R&B star Alicia Keys shared the music video for the new track as the latest offering from her forthcoming seventh studio album 'Alicia.'

Knowledge Channel’s ‘MathDali’ back with new season HOST and Math enthusiast Robi Domingo and his gang, Kuya Igi (Igi Boy Flores), Kuya Vic (Vic Robinson), and twins Ate Joj and Ate Jai (Joj and Jai Agpangan), are back to bring the fun in learning and solving math problems as Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc.’s (KCFI) MathDali returns for new episodes this season. MathDali is a program aligned with the K-12 curriculum of the Department of Education and aims to prove that learning Math isn’t difficult as it uses key strategies and practical classroom approaches in making learning more fun and enjoyable for each student. KCFI developed MathDali in 2016 after years of familiarity with the Philippine educational landscape. Through the program, integral life skills like critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration and the growth mindset, which Filipino students need to develop, are honed. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 found these as very strong skills-component in students from top performing countries. “Don’t be afraid of Math because with it, we learn values that we can apply to real life. We don’t just teach kids about numbers and solving problems, we also teach them to be more determined, more

David Orobosa Omoregie, 21, known more commonly as Santan Dave, is a British rapper, singer, songwriter, pianist, record producer, and actor.

ABS-CBN TV Plus. A production of Knowledge Channel Foundation, ABS-CBN Corporation, and ABS-CBN Foundation Inc., MathDali is a certified child-friendly in the 2019 AnakTV Seal Awards. For more information on KCFI, visit or follow @kchonline on Twitter and @ knowledgechannel on Facebook.

pits Bruce Springsteen against Nigerian singer Burna Boy. The winners will be announced during the annual awards show at London’s O2 Arena on Feb. 18. Rockers The 1975 stole last year’s show, with US singer Pink also honored. The awards have recognized the cream of British pop music since they were first held in 1977, and have often been peppered with scandal and farce. Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker stormed the stage in protest while Michael Jackson performed surrounded by children in 1996. In 1998, Chumbawamba vocalist Danbert Nobacondumped a bucket of iced water over then deputy prime minister John Prescott. And Madonna suffered whiplash injuries at the 2015 edition when she fell off the stage wearing a giant cape and surrounded by dancers wearing bondage-style costumes and horns on their heads. The British music industry contributed £4.5 billion ($5.8 billion, 5.1 billion euros) to the UK economy in 2015, and British artists accounted for one of every eight albums purchased worldwide. AFP

Malasimbo... From C4

For sunrise and sunset sessions, breathe in creative and transformative energy through meditation, yoga, dance, and journaling meant for energizing or winding down. Participate in morning warm-up to mindful hikes, dance meditations, and before bed pampering. Family activities will be held at the swimming pool as well as a DJ party in which attendees can enjoy in the middle of the rainforest. Under the shade of a hundred trees, a music business conference is slated to happen at the Drilon Orchidarium where artists from the music industry together with music lovers have the chance to exchange conversations. The same area will also hold the silent disco stage in the evening with bright festival lights beaming the trees. Listening to Quality Sound Amphitheaters have been a staple of Malasimbo in delivering great sound. With La Mesa Eco Park’s amphitheater, Malasimbo is set to produce, once again, quality sound as attendees discover this paradise in the city. “[La Mesa Eco Park’s amphitheater] sounds good and reflects the exact same conditions of our last amphitheater. Sound travels in time and space at 343 m/s. It’s a science which if neglected, leads to poor sound and concert experience,” founder and festival director Miro Grgic says. In the past years, Malasimbo has seen some of the world’s best jazz, soul, world, and dance music legends and contemporaries make their way into the country’s longeststanding festival. This year, artists lineup features a mix of international and local acts with Snarky Puppy’s Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles and Mike Love headlining the festival. Joining Malasimbo are Melbourne hit-maker Laneous, Canadian keyboardist Anomalie, Colombian jazz pianist Jesus Molina Quartet, Italian guitarist Matteo Mancuso, andUncomfortable Science. Local music artists include Brigada, jazz ensemble Project Yazz, and Talata ni Tala. Alongside these artists, Malasimbo also brings in nine DJs with Up Dharma Down’s Ean Mayor, She’s Only Sixteen’s Roberto Seña, Deej Fabian, Bass Relief, Norris King,Put3ska’s Bing Austria, Rei Ka, DJ duo Bignay Sound System, and Jigga Who. Creating Conversations with Music Industry Professionals Since its establishment in 2011, Malasimbo

By regularly watching 'MathDali,' Filipino students can improve their understanding and practical use of Math concepts, and their scores in tests.

patient, and more creative,” Kuya Vic said. By regularly watching MathDali, Filipino students can improve their understanding and practical use of Math concepts, and their scores in tests. The new season of MathDali airs every Sunday on ABS-CBN at 9:15 a.m. and everyday at 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m to 2:00 p.m. on Knowledge Channel on SKY Cable, SKY Direct, and

Scottish singer song-writer Lewis Capaldi performs at the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England, on June 29, 2019.

With a foundation rooted in the spirituality and message-based music of Reggae and Rastafari, Mike Love blends the sounds of numerous music genres.

Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles is bringing its unique soul, jazz and gospel music in this year's Malasimbo. has been supporting the livelihood of artists, especially musicians. For this year’s music business conference, notable international music business executives will be discussing critical topics about the evolving knowledge of how the music industry works. In an outdoor set-up space surrounded by a scene of nature, artists and professionals from the music industry will be talking about Royalties, Publishers & Collection Societies, digital marketing and monetizing music, the use and importance of record labels, organizing sustainable festivals and events, song quality and right volume, songwriting versus performance, artist management and booking agents, making it in the Philippines versus overseas, creating and producing music, and corporate funding. Keynote speakers for the music business conference include Rolling Stones tour manager Sam Cutler together with Quincy Jones MGMT, Jacob Collier MGMT, FKJ MGMT, Warner Music, and Filscap. “Since we live in the streaming age, some revenue streams aren’t significant anymore. It’s important to equip local musicians with the knowledge to understand how to sustain themselves in the music industry,” Grgic says. Saving the last green space Over the past years, Malasimbo has been contributing strong efforts on cultural and environmental conservation through mangrove planting, reforestation, beach clean-up projects, and supporting indigenous people’s livelihood. This year, Malasimbo is looking towards one of the last few forested areas in Metro Manila as a place to bring in local and international performers and artists while raising cultural and environmental awareness through continuous listening, creating, and discovering the Malasimbo music and arts scene. For the benefit of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation’s environmental arm, 10 percent of tickets sold will be donated to Bantay Kalikasan. In 1999, a campaign was launched to rehabilitate the La Mesa Nature Reservoir. This opened the area to a total of 680,000 more trees planted in the La Mesa Watershed, covering 98.3 percent of its 2,700 hectares. Through the help of donors, volunteers, and partner agencies, Bantay Kalikasan reforested 1,522 hectares within the watershed. It was also able to transform the 33-hectare land into a natural park with an eco-academy facility. Tickets for Malasimbo 2020 vary on the date release schedules. From Jan. 1 to Feb. 1, twoday passes are at (P8,000) and one day pass is at (P4,500). From Feb. 1 to Feb. 29, two-day passes are at (P9,000) and one day pass is at (P5,000). Door prices for two-day passes are at (10,000) and one day pass is at (P5,500).


Nickie Wang, Issue Editor



‘Ain’t got no time to chill,’ rapper Cardi B considers political career RAP superstar Cardi B is floating the notion of a political career, saying she could “shake the table” as a member of US Congress. “I think I want to be a politician. I really love government even tho I don’t agree with government,” the brash artist from New York’s Bronx borough tweeted over the weekend. “I do feel like if I go back to school and focus up I can be part of Congress.

I deadass have sooo much ideas that make sense. I just need a couple of years of school and I can shake the table,” the rapper known for hits like “Bodak Yellow,” “Money” and “I Like It” said. The stripper-turned-rap superstar has gotten political in the past, famously encouraging her fans in an expletive-laden clip to “vote for Daddy Bernie” in 2016, warning that foreign women “gonna get deported if Trump is president.”

Last year Cardi B, who was born Belcalis Almanzar to a Dominican father and Trinidadian mother, went off on Donald Trump and the US government shutdown that furloughed federal employees amid a standoff between the US president and Democrats in Congress. “Our country is in a hellhole right now,” she said at the time. “I feel like we need to take some action.” AFP Continued on C3

Stripperturned-rap superstar Cardi B says she could “shake the table” as a member of US Congress

On life after death and

Malasimbo has seen some of the world’s best jazz, soul, world, and dance music legends and contemporaries make their way into the country’s longest-standing festival.

Malasimbo celebrates a decade of music

PIONEERING music and arts festivals in the country in the last decade, Volume Unit Entertainment is on a mission to continue uplifting the Filipino music and arts scene at Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival 2020. The first music and arts festival in the Philippines is set to happen on Feb. 29 to March 1 at its new home at La Mesa Eco Park in Quezon City. Discovering Paradise in the City Whether held up in the mountains or by the beach in Puerto Galera, Malasimbo has continually opened up to a diverse community of performers, artists, bands and music lovers, elevating the local festival experience not just in its backyard but in the entire country. Now, it has found a bigger home in the lush rainforest smack right in the middle of the metro. While maintaining its hallmark as a key player in environmental conservation,


Malasimbo celebrates its 10th year at one of the few green spaces left in Metro Manila. The La Mesa Eco Park has over one million trees and various species of flora and fauna. It is also situated beside the La Mesa Dam and Reservoir which contains the primary source of drinking water for over 12 million residents in the metro. Unearthing Activities for Everyone Malasimbo is bringing in various familyoriented programs in the park. To connect with your inner self, different art and wellness programs can be attended at the Narra Grove Pavilion. Explore music inspirations and its healing effects using various resonant tools and musical instruments. Find freedom and connection in mind and body through cultivating deep curiosity, ultimate compassion, and empathy. Envision, design, and craft masks with tools and materials found in nature or recycled trash. Continued on C3

Director Yam Laranas (left) with actress Yam Concepcion on the set of 'Night Shift.' (inset) The duo during the film's press launch.

Rising indie act Talata ni Tala is one of the headliners in this year's Malasimbo fest.


Digging EDM

IF YOU think EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is just repetitive groove clothed in 21st century party outfit, think again, especially if you are dealing with a Filipino artist embracing the genre by being seriously himself. Frankly, Jace Roque is not your ordinary party-going dude trying to be cool to be in. He is authentic in his craft and the subjects he deals with in his songs. “It is my advocacy to bring to light the issue of mental health,” said Jace while discussing his songwriting process,” adding, “One of my songs, ‘Sober,’ talks about anxiety and depression.” Considering his genre of choice, that’s truly interesting to note. Perhaps that undertone paved the way for listeners to stream the song, thought to be Coldplayinfluenced, over 300,000 times on Spotify. Here is a guy who in 2017 began releasing songs in digital format seamlessly injecting some human side to technology-driven material by carefully writing, arranging, and producing his own songs. Listeners dig where he is coming from and it’s really an added value that his sentimentality as a Filipino is felt in his music. It does help that Jace has more to offer apart from being genuinely retrospective in creating music. This guy had considerable experience acting on both big and small screens prior to focusing himself on music. He appeared in various hit ABSCBN shows and played supporting roles in movies like Across the Crescent Moon and Tatay Kong Sexy. Matteo Guidicelli fans were first

to notice him. Then he quickly developed his own fan base as a musician. While music logically runs in the blood owing to a celebrity lineage that includes balladeer Gino Padilla for an uncle and exSouth Border frontman Luke Mejares as a distant cousin, it was the help of character actor-stuntman Boy Roque, first cousin of his mom, that really guided his path to where he is. Boy passed away April last year and the shock affected him to the core. Nonetheless he knew he had to move on and Boy would have wanted him to. Thus, he is releasing a new single titled “Day and Night” on the 31st, with pre-orders okayed by tomorrow, Jan. 17. He related, “You can expect me to write songs about grief or ones dedicated to loved ones. It really matters that I write songs based on personal experience.” The lyric video for Jace’s latest single Love had hit more than 100,000 views, with the track released through the international company Kobalt Music Group subsidiary AWAL, stressing the global level of attention his music gets. A self-taught musician, Jace has diligently done his homework, mastering the software to deliver elements of EDM tracks, perfecting his melodies and lyrics, and keeping his listening playlist updated and progressing. He added, “I want to help in modernizing the sound of OPM (Original Pilipino Music). EDM is just a millennial term. My idea is to infuse different genres like R&B, rap, and pop with dance music.” He does it day and night.


RITER and director Yam Laranas was clear on his message what his film Night Shift is all about. It’s a cerebral horror that happens in just one day, or one night as per the film’s title, and the action takes place in just one location—a morgue.

Yam Concepcion, known for ‘Dugong Buhay’ (2013), ‘Rigodon’ (2012) and ‘Nilalang’ (2015), ventures into horror films, a challenging task for an actress who is too familiar with drama.

Director Yam Laranas— perhaps best known for his 2004 horror movie Sigaw—has been praised for numerous horror movies he had written and helmed.

“The location is another character in a horror film. It is where fear and paranoia are created,” Laranas said of the creep factor of Viva Films’ first horror presentation in cooperation with Alliud Entertainment for the year 2020. “Is there life after death? Or it’s already it? What will happen to the things that surround you? That’s the question that the movie wanted to ask in this film,” Laranas added. Starring Yam Concepcion, Night Shift is set in a hospital morgue, the movie revolves around a pathologist’s assistant named Jessie who’s working on a straight shift one stormy night. She doesn’t believe in the afterlife, but she is suddenly creeped out by the strange sounds that seem to be coming from the cadavers. She cannot shake off the feeling that they seem to be coming back to life. As her fear intensifies, Jessie begins to ponder on the idea of the Final Judgment. And if indeed the day has come that people rise from the dead, she is tormented about meeting her own end.

Yam Laranas has been praised for his previous horror movies, such as Aurora (2018), The Road (2011), and Sigaw (2004), for which he won a Special Award at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film (BIFFF). In an interview conducted by on how to make a horror movie, Laranas said, “I want to see what’s real out there and I translate them into (a) real scary (story) because that has a connection to a lot of people…It becomes relatable. And when you translate that into something horrifying, it touches people’s fears, nightmares and skeletons in their closet.” This statement is well depicted in the movie trailer where Yam Concepcion is seen all alone in cold hallways with flickering lights, a room with rows of beds with cadavers, Yam running from what appears to be a group of zombies, and more. The director also points out the importance of music in elevating the fear and enhancing the mood of the horror movie. That’s why he has teamed up once again with the awardwinning gentlemen (Oscar Fogelström and Albert Michael Idioma) that created the music and sound for “Aurora”. “I am impressed how efficient every single one is in the team,” wrote Yam Concepcion in one of her Instagram posts that shows her in the set of their movie. She commends director Yam Laranas for being a good leader that runs the whole production. She further wrote, “So lucky to be part of this movie project and to be working with all of you.” This is Yam’s first lead role in a horror movie. She was very convincing as a villain in the drama series Halik on ABSCBN, it’s about time she shows us her acting prowess in the horror genre, especially with the big twist that the movie has in store. “It’s my first horror movie and when I learned direk Yam Laranas was directing it, I got excited. When he offered the project to me, he said it’s going to be a different kind of horror movie. And my character, hindi mo sure if she’s really experiencing all the terrifying things happening to her or she’s just imagining them,” the lead star said. Also featuring Michael de Mesa, Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, Epy Quizon, Soliman Cruz, and Ruby Ruiz, Night Shiftopens in cinemas on Jan. 22.

Profile for Manila Standard

Manila Standard - 2020 January 16 - Thursday  

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

Manila Standard - 2020 January 16 - Thursday  

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