Posts by Dyowel:

    Students, senior citizens and the disabled will be given Metro Manila Film Fest box office discounts

    December 21st, 2016
    Photo ©
    Photo ©

    IN a bid to ensure the success of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, a thirty percent discount will be given to students, senior citizens and persons with disabilities, the Metro Manila Development Authority on Tuesday said.

    This after members of the MMFF Executive Committee came up with a resolution authorizing the giving of discount to that mentioned segments of society that will patronize the eight entries of the film festival which will run from Christmas up to January 3. However, the MMFF clarified that the  giving of discounts will only be implemented beginning Dec. 27 up to the last day of the festival.

    MMDA chair Thomas Orbos Photo
    MMDA chair Thomas Orbos Photo

    MMDA acting chairman and concurrent MMFF head Thomas Orbos said the giving of discount is one of the promotional activities suggested by the committee.

    Meanwhile, the MMFF committee denied reports that Star Cinema is pulling out its entry, “Vince & Kath & James,” purportedly due to the 30 percent discount on ticket prices.

    “Just like all the other producers, they have been supportive of the MMFF initiatives in bringing more people to the Festival every year,” said Orbos.

    The MMFF head is optimistic that this year’s line-up of movies in the MMFF would surpass last year’s P1.020 billion total gross earning of the MMFF despite the absence of the movies which starred country’s top comedians Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda.

    Sotto’s “Enteng Kabisote and Vice’s “Abangers” and “Super Parental Guardian” failed to get a slot for this year MMFF.

    This year’s official entries includes: “Die Beautiful” starring Paolo Ballesteros; “Kabisera” featuring Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Jason Abalos and Victor Neri; “Saving Sally” top billed by Rhian Ramos and Enzo Marcos; “Seklusyon” featuring Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman and JR Versales; “Sunday Beauty Queen” starring Hazel Perdid, Maylyn Jacobo, Cherry Bretania and Leo Selomenio; “Vince & Kath & James”” stars Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia and Ronnie Alonte; “”Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: Forever is Not Enough”” top billed by Eugene Domingo and Chris Martinez; and “Oro” starring Joem Bascon.

    The MMDA supervises the MMFF while its chairman is the concurrent head and organizer of the annual event.

    “If we don’t hit the numbers, I think already we are successful in bringing out such movies. Changes is not an easy task as we all see on our President and on what we are doing to (solve) traffic. It’s all about changing the norms, going against the what we believe is normal. Anything that we need to do to develop to become better to change needs some adjustments. And I think we should give the new set of films a chance,” Orbos said.

    The MMFF beneficiaries include the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation Inc., Motion Picture and Anti-Film Piracy Council, Film Development Council of the Philippines, and the Optical Media Board.


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    Luke Who’s Talking #27*

    September 26th, 2016

    luke colocoHeto na naman tayo, ber months .. pinaka gusto kong panahon .. kasi nga magpapasko na at marami na namang pasyalan: Payanig sa Pasig, Big Bang sa Alabang, Gulong sa Mandaluyong, Lupasay sa Pasay, Tagilid sa Taguig, Kulasisi sa Kyusi, Siksikan sa MRT, Walang Masakyan pag Umuulan, Salvage sa Damuhan, Oplan Tokhang sa Pandakan, Saksakan sa Daan, Holdapan sa Sasakyan, Lampungan sa Sinehan, Sampalan sa Tahanan, Barilan sa Pangasinan, Baha sa Kalsada, Tanim Bala sa Naia, Traffic sa Edsa, Bangayan sa Social Media, Dayaan sa Halalan, Kidnapan sa Palawan, Karma ni De Lima, Pagmumura sa Santo Papa at Alipusta kay Obama …”








    *Ang mga pananaw sa artikulong ito ay sa sumulat.  Maaring hindi ito ang opisyal na posisyon ng Beyond Deadlines.



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    Bus terminals to be removed from EDSA – MMDA

    August 14th, 2016
    An ordinary day on EDSA ©
    An ordinary day on EDSA ©

    METRO Manila mayors have agreed to remove as soon as possible bus terminals along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in a bid to ease the daily traffic congestion afflicting the National Capital Region.

    Members of the Metro Manila Council, the policy-making body of the Metro Manila Development Authority, on Friday approved a resolution seeking the immediate removal of the different bus terminals along the 23.8-kilometer (14.8 miles) stretch of EDSA.

    “They approved the removal of bus terminals in Edsa. It is now up to them (mayors) to prepare for the eventual removal. This will be in Pasay and Quezon City,” said MMDA chairman Emerson Carlos following the MMC’s meeting at the MMDA central office in Makati City.

    At the same time, Carlos disclosed that Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixtowho were the first local executives who signed the resolution “Rationalizing the Operations of Provincial Buses and its Terminals Along EDSA”. 

    He said the bus terminals to be affected by the removal were located in areas under the jurisdictions of these two local executives.

    Moreover, Carlos said the MMC also agreed to enforce the “Nose In, Nose Out Policy” at the bus terminals while the establishments are yet to be removed as proposed by Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay.

    The MMC, in its resolution, noted that the move to remove the bus terminals along EDSA is in line with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte during the State of the Nation Address that all bus terminals along the historic circumferential  road “must eventually be removed and referred to strategic areas outside of the metropolis with the end of decongesting said major thoroughfare.”

    “As a matter of policy, no additional provincial bus terminals shall be allowed to be established along Edsa,” the MMC resolution said. 

    Carlos said that the owners or operators of existing bus terminals were already directed to make the necessary preparations “for their eventual removal from Edsa” and “consequent transfer to strategic areas outside of the metropolis.”

    Meanwhile, MMDA, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the Department of Transportation officials are currently discussing plans to relocate provincial bus terminals along Edsa.

    With the removal of the terminals, Carlos said, traffic flow would improve since provincial buses will no longer enter Metro Manila to load and unload passengers.

    MMDA records showed that there are 85 provincial bus companies situated in Metro Manila. Of the 85 provincial bus companies, 46 firms have terminals on Edsa, particularly in Cubao, Balintawak, and Taft Ave.

    Around 3,300 provincial buses and 12,000 city buses pass through EDSA daily.


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    Floods and traffic jams hit Metro Manila and nearby areas

    August 13th, 2016
    Flooded Espana Boulevard Photo ©
    Flooded Espana Boulevard Photo ©

    MOTORISTS and commuters experienced heavy traffic after various parts of Metro Manila on Saturday were hit by flash floods due to heavy rainfall brought by a nearby low pressure area, the Metro Manila Development Authority said.

    Leonard Bias, MMDA Flood Control Information Center chief, said the heavy downpour resulted in floodings along major thoroughfares.

    Gutter deep floods caused the slow moving traffic at the intersection of Araneta Avenue and Eulogio Rodriguez Avenue and Circumferential Road 3 (C-3 Road) corner Andres Bonifacio Avenue, both in Quezon City; Quirino Avenue, Taft Avenue, Pedro Gil, Antipolo Street, Maceda Street, Padre Burgos Street, Espana Boulevard, Lacson Street and Victoria Street, all in Manila.

    There were also roads that are not passable for motorists in the areas of Elliptical Circle in Maysilo in Madaluyong City, and Mother Ignacia Street and Panay Avenue in Quezon City.

    The MMDA-FCIC also reported 10 inches deep flood in the City of Makati along the westbound Cloverleaf of Jose P. Rizal Street and near the University of Makati.

    Commuters en route from Laguna to Manila also experienced heavy traffic along the South Luzon Expressway and along the northbound lane of Skyway in Taguig City for almost two hours.

    “We were stranded along with other commuters because of heavy rains. Wet pants and wet clothes. Heavy traffic, heavy rains, heavy flooding and lower quality of lif … less productivity,” said Allison Lopez, a resident of Makati.

    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©

    MMDA chairman Emerson Carlos said various parts of Metro Manila are prone to floods but waters are subsiding faster because of the government’s pumping stations and other flood control projects in the metropolis. He said more pumping stations will be built and repaired next year in the National Capital Region.

    The P22-billion project was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority to address the perennial flooding in Metro Manila and neighboring areas.

    Classes in all levels in both private and public schools were suspended by local authorities in the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Taguig, San Juan, Valenzuela, Makati, Marikina, Mandaluyong, Navotas, Pasay, Paranaque, Pasig and Quezon City because of the weather condition.

    Also last Friday, nine domestic and six international flights were diverted to the Clark International Airport and Iloilo Airport. The international flights affected came from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong Bangkok, Guangzhou and Honolulu while the domestic flights include those came from Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Dipolog, Cebu, Bohol, El Nido and Busuanga.

    The Manila International Airport Authority – Media Affairs Division on Saturday clarified that there was no “runway closure” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    “Diversion of flights is due to poor runway visibility brought about by the prevailing bad weather condition in Manila,” the MIAA-MAD said in its advisory.

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    Warm welcome for FVR in China

    August 13th, 2016
    Former PH President Fidel Ramos. Photo ©
    Former PH President Fidel Ramos. Photo ©

    THE Chinese government warmly welcomed former President Fidel Ramos and his entourage in Hong Kong as it expressed willingness to talk with the Duterte administration in a bid to settle the maritime territorial dispute in Scarborough Shoal between Manila and Beijing.

    This was revealed by former President Fidel Ramos upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino Aquino International Airport following his four-day visit to Hong Kong. He said both Manila and Beijing agreed to talk further to build trust and confidence and reduce tension between both parties.

    Ramos’ trip is an attempt by President Rodrigo Duterte to mend fences with the East Asian power house.

    Ramos, whose entourage includes former Interior and Local Government secretary Rafael Alunan, China expert and journalist Chito Santa Romana, his wife Amelita and grandson Sam Jones; went to the former British crown colony on Monday to start informal talks with Chinese representatives in the hope of settling the maritime territorial dispute with the middle kingdom, as China was known in ancient times.

    Ramos’ team was met by China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies President Prof. Wu Shicun and the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress and former Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Madam Fu Ying.

    Ramos said the Philippines would like to discuss and wanted its neighbors to understand that the most dangerous enemies of the world today are no longer people or countries or groups of countries.

    When asked when will be the formal talk commence between the two countries, Ramos said “this will happen soon.” He also added that “the friendly and hospitable talk in Hong Kong happened in Victoria Peak.”

    Ramos told newsmen covering his arrival that his team will wait for the availability of President Rodrigo Duterte before they could discuss with him the details of the “informal talk” in Hong Kong.

    “We will convey this (the details) according to his convenience,” Ramos said.

    In a prepared statement, read by Alunan, the newsmen were informed that:

    “Their informal discussions focused on the need to engage in further talks to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions to pave the way for overall cooperation for the benefit of both their people and the region. They explored possible human and ecological security options and suggestions for the benefit of their people, such as:

    1) Encouraging marine preservation

    2) Avoiding tension and promoting fishing cooperation

    3) Anti-drug and anti-smuggling cooperation

    4) Anti-crime and anti-corruption cooperation

    5) Encouraging trade and investment facilitation

    6) Improving tourism opportunities, and

    7) Encouraging track II (think tank) exchanges on relevant issues of mutual concern and interest.

    Alunan further said that both sides “expressed the hope to find common ground for mutual benefit, especially for the poverty-stricken sectors of their societies. They stressed that building trust is very important to the long-term beneficial relationship between the Philippines and China.”

    Moreover, Alunan said China has welcomed/invited Ramos to come to Beijing as Special Envoy of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    “Former President Ramos, as an ice breaker, expressed the Philippine government’s desire to hold formal discussions with the Chinese government on issues of mutual concern and interest at the appropriate time to explore pathways to peace and cooperation”

    Last month, President Duterte asked Ramos to serve as a special envoy to China over the ongoing maritime territorial dispute to which the 88-year old former chief executive agreed.

    Ramos has first hand experience in dealing with the Chinese when during his presidential term when in 1995 the Chinese occupied Mischief Reef, a part of the disputed Spratly Islands.

    The government issued a formal protest over China’s occupation of the reef and Ramos`ordered the Philippine Navy to arrest 62 Chinese fishermen at Half Moon Shoal, 80 kilometers from Palawan.

    A week later, following confirmation from surveillance pictures that the structures were military in nature, Ramos ordered military forces in the region strengthened while China claimed the structures were only shelters for fishermen.

    Meanwhile, a commentary by Xinhua, mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said Ramos’ visit was the first concrete step to “engage in bilateral talks on the South China Sea”, but “decision makers in Manila should know that the fragile relations with Beijing can hardly take another hit”.

    Richard Heydarian, assistant professor of international affairs at De La Salle University in ­Manila, said that in many ways Ramos was the perfect choice for an ­icebreaker.

    “Given the depth of maritime disputes, it’s unlikely that there will be any thaw in relations in the short run and the emphasis now is on measured but sincere gestures of reviving bilateral ties. And ­Ramos is getting the ball rolling,” Heydarian said

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    Mandaluyong City Council declared as Soroptimist Week every last week of August.

    August 11th, 2016
    Soroptimist International-Mandaluyong officers: From left Norma Mendez, President Elect Young Simbulan, Mayor Menchie Abalos, President Dorothy Cuevas, Jasmin Cajiuat - SIM Public Awareness Chair
    Soroptimist International-Mandaluyong officers: From left Norma Mendez, President Elect Young Simbulan, Mayor Menchie Abalos, President Dorothy Cuevas, Jasmin Cajiuat – SIM Public Awareness Chair

    IN A bid to empower women, the Mandaluyong City Council declared as Soroptimist Week every  last week of August.

    This was announced on Thursday by officers and members of the Soroptimist International – Mandaluyong (SIM) who are celebrating their 22nd anniversary this year. Part of the celebration is the holding of a program on the morning  of Aug. 22 at the Atrium of the Mandaluyong City Hall to honor empowered women. The occasion will be graced by SIM officials Dorothy Cuevas, and Young Simbulan.

    The SIM, in a statement, said part of the organization’s current impact project is the Techvoc Assist, which received a grant from its mother organization the Soroptimist International of the Americas.

    Mandaluyong students supported by SI-Mandaluyong Photo ©
    Mandaluyong students supported by SI-Mandaluyong Photo ©

    The project provides educational assistance to deserving Grade 10 to 12 students of its Adopted Schools –Addition Hills Integrated School (AHIS), and Fabella High School. The project is also part of Soroptimist “Dream it, Be it” campaign that aims to aid young girls in their career path.

    Soroptimist International, which includes Soroptimist International of the Americas, Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland, Soroptimist International of Europe and Soroptimist International of South West Pacific, is a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls.

    The organization’s network of around 80,000 club members in 132 countries and territories works at a local, national and international level to educate, empower and enable opportunities for women and girls.

    Projects take place all over the world focusing on issues such as Violence Against Women, Safe Sanitation, Displacement, Education, Leadership – anything that effects the lives of women and girls.

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    CAAP fired 20 drug using employees

    August 5th, 2016
    CAAP Building Photo ©
    CAAP Building Photo ©

    THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has terminated 20 of its 23 personnel who were tested positive for drug use following a series of urine testing on its more than 2,000 workers at 26 airports nationwide during the first half of the year.

    Of the 2,620 employees who underwent screening for narcotics from January to the end of June, 23 were found using methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known as shabu.

    In his report submitted to CAAP Director General Antonio Buendia, the head of the agency’s Office of the Flight Surgeon and Aviation Medicine (OFSAM), Dr. Rolly Bayaban, said 20 employees were already dismissed while the case against three others remains under review.

    The CAAP employs around 5,555 personnel nationwide of which 3,500 are regular employees. Most of these personnel are technicians involved in air traffic management. The agency has jurisdiction over 81 airports nationwide, 44 of them handling commercial operations.

    Moreover, to ensure that all employees are completely drug-free and fit to serve, the CAAP conducted another drug testing last month in Manila, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, Busuanga and Siquijor airports.

    This time, a total of 1,102 employees were subjected to the urine testing. Out of this number, one building attendant assigned with Manila Radar and two others working at the Dumaguete Airport tested positive for drug use.

    On the other hand, Bayaban said CAAP employees assigned in the Davao, Tuguegarao, Busuanga and Siquijor airports were found to be clean of narcotics.

    The agency’s Anti-Illegal Drug Testing Program is based on a March 7, 2013 memorandum which consists of provisions from Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002), the Civil Service Commission’s Memorandum Circular 13 Series of 2010 which calls for a drug-free workplace in the bureaucracy, and the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulation on Psychoactive Testing and Reporting.

    Last Wednesday, more than 400 members of the Airport Police Department were also subjected for drug testing in line with the government’s program to rid the country of drug users and dealers.

     MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal ©
    MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal ©

    Manila International Airport Authority general manager Ed Monreal said the APD personnel was the first batch of airport workers who will be subjected under urine testing. He added all 3,000 airport personnel are required to undergo drug testing to determine if they are fit for the job and ensure the facility are run by non-drug users.

    The procedure, which was conducted by an outside third party accredited by the Department of Health, cost the government P270 for each Airport policeman.

    “We need to do it to ensure no one in this airport is a drug user, and our goal is negative not positive on drugs,” Monreal said.

    Furthermore, Monreal said airport employees who will be found positive for drug use will undergo another confirmatory tests and if they fail for the second time, they will definitely lose their jobs. The Airport chief said the result of the drug test will come out within the week.

    “We will do it (drug test) again and again as long as its required and as long as we feel necessary, we will always do it just to make sure we have a drug-free environment and also for the protection of our passengers,” he added.

    Monreal told airport personnel that the drug testing was a form of harassment, saying “we are just following the marching order of the President in his fight against illegal drugs.”

    In June, at least 3,000 drivers from the Airport Shuttle Service, Inc. (ASSI), a private transport concessionaires accredited by the MIAA, underwent drug testing to clean the transport services from drug users. ASSI chairman Romeo Sayaman said drivers found positive of illegal drugs have been subjected to disciplinary action or immediate termination with no appeal. 30

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    Luzon suffering from extreme bio-diversity damage – Smithsonian Institute

    July 31st, 2016
    Pygmy pig that is nearing extinction Photo ©
    Pygmy pig that is nearing extinction Photo ©

    THE world-renowned Smithsonian institution, which describes the island of Luzon as one of the most biologically diversified place on earth, warns that the island is suffering from severe environmental and bio-diversity damage, mostly because of irresponsible tourists.

    Environmentalist and television host Kiko Rustia cited the Smithsonian’s observation to boost his claim that Luzon is losing endemic floral and faunal species. He said human predation lies as the core reason why animals and unique species of plants are fast disappearing in the forests and remaining jungles in the island.

    Luzon is the largest and most populous island in the Philippines and the 15th largest in the world.

    Additionally, Rustia blames lack of human understanding in the importance of biodiversity in the lives of Filipinos living in communities near these places of interests for the severe environmental damage. Contributing to the already worsening situation is the rise of local and foreign travelers who, instead of helping improve the current situation, are themselves making it difficult for these species to survive, he said.

    Eco-tourism, which is being promoted by the government, is causing damage to the surviving patches of virgin forests and jungles of Luzon. Tons and tons of garbage brought by uncaring tourists are polluting water systems, especially rivers and lakes poisoning animals endemic in Luzon.

    Rustia cites the pigmy pig which is endemic to Luzon, as one glaring example.

    A decade ago, the population of the pigmy pig was still healthy. Indigenous tribes living in Sierra Madre mountain ranges can still hunt some for their consumption. Now the pigmy pig is fast approaching extinction, he said.

    Rustia is urging people who travel to tourists places in Luzon to be responsible and be made aware of the unique eco-diversity of these areas. By raising awareness of how ecologically diverse these tourist places are, Rustia is hoping that people would not just enjoy them, but also be responsible and conscious of their roles in preserving these places for the next generation.

    “Tourists plays a big role in eco-conservatism. They not just provide jobs and business to an area, but likewise, encourage the communities that welcome them to try a little harder in the conservation front. Let’s promote responsible eco-traveling by raising our awareness first of our responsibilities before going to these places,” said Rustia.

    Earlier, Rutia, who hosts “Born to be Wild” program over popular network, earlier wrote an open letter to local and foreign tourists visiting the Boracay not to disrespect the famous island in Aklan province.

    “We appreciate your patronage, and we are thankful for the good business you give us. But no matter how much money you pour into the island, it gives no one any right to pollute and trash this paradise we call home. We do our best to tolerate the drunken stupors, rowdy behavior, loud music, YOLO (you only live once) attitude, and all the craziness in between.” “…what we don’t tolerate and appreciate is the lack of concern and regard for our island environment and safety.”

    He narrated that his team collected trash from the beach, specifically in the areas where parties and events took place.

    “We filled our trash bags with cigarette butts, plastic cups and beer bottles, wrappers, condoms, and a whole lot of other rubbish. But the worst of them all- broken glass. Lots and lots of broken glass. People walk on the beach. Kids walk on the beach, why the hell would you leave broken glass on the sand?!”

    “If you can’t respect our island, our home, then you don’t respect us. And if you can’t respect us, then you are free to take your business and money elsewhere. Revenues may be lost, but Boracay will continue like it always did. And the island would again start calling to those who rightfully has a place in it’s shores- those who value and respect it, and care for it like their own.”

    Rustia together with geographic documentarist and cinematographer Gabby Malvar led a team of environmentalists to come up with documentary videos that will show the unique eco diversity of Luzon and show how communities play a vital role in eco-conservation.

    The project, which began on July 24, will be made in coordination with bus firm Victory Liner. The Cordillera mountain ranges will be the first place the team will explore.

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    Remain calm to avoid deadly road rage – PH National Police

    July 30th, 2016


    THE Philippine National Police urges the public to remain calm while on the streets to avoid deadly road rages similar to what happened in Quiapo, Manila where a biker was killed by a gun-wielding man following a traffic altercation.

    However, the police institution itself seems to be violating their own call for calm since their operations against suspected drug dealers have already resulted in numerous deaths.

    On Friday, National Capital Region Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde reminds all road users, especially those armed with hand guns, to be responsible and control their anger.

    “People who could not control their anger should not own a gun, much more carry one,” he explained.

    Furthermore, Albayalde said motorists should also “exercise extreme patience and avoid minor traffic altercations or settle road accidents in a peaceful way.”

    Albayalde’s call, however, runs counter to the seeming excessive manner that the police is dealing suspected criminal elements, particularly those involved in the illegal drug trade.

    As of July 25, more than 400 persons were slain, an overwhelming majority of whom during alleged gun battles with the police.

    Meanwhile, the police on Friday arrested Vhon Martin Tanto, a military reservist who was tagged suspect in the slaying of Mark Vincent Garalde, a biker in Quiapo, Manila early this week. He was nabbed in his hideout in Masbate shortly after he tried to run away from pursuing lawmen.

    Garalde’s slaying happened after a traffic altercation and a fistfight between the victim and Tanto along P. Casal Street.

    Video footage of the incident shows that after the fistfight, Tanto went to his car, grabbed his gun and repeatedly shoot Garalde, who by this time was already walking away from the fight scene. The shooting incident resulted in the instantaneous death of the victim and serious wounding by a stray bullet of Rosell Bondoc.

    In a related story, former Akbayan party list Rep. Walden Bello expressed disappointment with the spate of killings involving criminal elements.

    He said the bloody encounters taking place daily have polarized the country between those who support the president’s quick and dirty methods of dealing with drugs and crime and those who regard them as illegal, immoral, and self-defeating.

    Bello said the police claims that the killings are not summary executions but results of legitimate police operations as mere cover-ups.  He appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the extra-judicial killings and restore the rule of law and due process.

    “We urge him to desist from inflammatory rhetoric that can only turn this country into one vast killing field where a rogue police force and vigilantes roam with impunity,” Bello said.

    “But above all we ask our fellow citizens to come out and speak up for the inviolability and universality of human rights, the rule of law, and due process. These gains that our people made in their long struggle for their fundamental rights and democratic rule are under threat. Impunity should neither be made the foundation nor should it be made to serve as a “counter-balance” or “exchange” for future economic and social development. Acquiescence and silence in the face of the impunity that now reigns is the surest way to the loss of the rights of all.”

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    The streets of Metro Manila are safer now – National Capital Region Police chief

    July 26th, 2016
    Photo ©

    THE streets of Metro Manila are now safer since President Rodrigo Duterte took office last July 1.

    This was disclosed Monday in a press statement by National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde. He said based on the data submitted by the different police districts in the metropolis, the weekly crime trend in the nation’s capital from July 1 to 19, especially crimes against property, significantly decreased compared to the same period last year.

    “We are seeing a remarkable reduction of street crimes particularly crimes against property region wide,” he said.

    For instance, Albayalde said the number of robbery incidents at the NCR went down from 85 to 59, theft from 176 to 113 cases, car theft from 8 to 0, motorcycle theft from 29 to 10 cases and physical injuries from 97 to 72 cases.

    Albayalde expresses belief that the relentless Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel being implemented by the Philippine National Police has greatly contributed to the reduction of street crimes.

    Albayalde said the campaign against suspected drug pushers, courier and dependents also resulted to the surrender of 25,230 persons, arrest of 1,025 including two Taiwanese nationals, and neutralization of 106 drug personalities.

    “We also recovered 78 firearms, one grenade and 19 bladed weapons. Our analysis shows that the seizure of these weapons have prevented crimes, where these weapons could be used, from happening. We also confiscated 99 kilos of crystalline granules, an ingredient in making shabu, and 298 kilos of liquid Methamphetamine Hydrochloride,” he said.

    In addition, according to Albayalde, 290.4 grams of shabu, 18,295.1382 grams and eight sachets of marijuana with an estimated street value of P1.7 billion (about US $36.17 million) were also confiscated.

    At the same time, the NCRPO chief said the district remains committed to rid itself of scalawags and drug dependents. To ensure the drug free status of the district, 16,000 police officers were recently subjected to drug testing. Eleven policemen were found positive for drug use and they have been immediately relieved and placed under investigation.

    With the on-going cleansing operations within their ranks, Albayalde said one policeman from Northern Police District Office and another from the Quezon City Police District Office were neutralized when they engaged in separate gun battles their fellow policemen who were sent to arrest them.

    On the other hand, Albayalde said, a Manila policeman and two QCPD operatives were arrested for drug related offenses.

    The NCRPO chief assures the public that his office will continue its intensified anti-criminality campaign emphasizing that the change promised by President Duterte is now “change on-going”. He stressed that all these police operations are meticulously guided and monitored by the NCRPO Human Rights Counselors to ensure that each operation is in accordance with established Human Rights Law.

    Albayalde expressed recognition of the support extended by stakeholders but at the same time he appealed to the community for their continued support and engagement on the battle against illegal drugs. He said partnership with Barangays, civic organizations, NGOs, schools and even the media are necessary for the success of the campaign against illegal drugs and curb criminality.

    “The positive feedback from the people is a proof that we are doing our job correctly, that will be our ultimate reward when the citizenry will be the one to say that they feel safer in their neighborhood and in the streets of Metro Manila,” Albayalde said. 

    Nevertheless, crimes against persons, which includes murder and homicide, buck the general trend.

    The same NCRPO data, this time from July 1 to 15,  shows that a total of 64 murder cases were recorded in Metro Manila, or an average of four a day; and 26 cases of homicide, or about two daily.

    The weekly average for the past two weeks were nearly double or double the averages for the first 26 weeks of the year: A daily average of two for murder and one for homicide.

    “Murder and homicide increased because of incidents of found bodies on the streets,” Albayalde explained.

    Many of the bodies displayed written signs declaring them as criminal or drug user or pusher. These are believed to be victims of summary killings by those supporting President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

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    Motorcycle and bike riders set to ride for a motorcycle and bike friendly nation

    July 22nd, 2016
    PRESENCE FELT- Estimated 7000 Motorcycle riders invade a portion of commonwealth in Quezon city last July 20, 2014 as they protest different ordinaces imposes on them on various cities in the Metro Manila and provinces. (Photo by Michael Varcas)
    Bikers along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City protesting unfair street ordinances sometime in July 2014 (Photo by Michael Varcas)

    A GROUP of concerned motorcycle riders and cyclists are set to ride to the iconic World Trade Center in Pasay City to push for changes in Metro Manila’s landscape to make it a two wheel machine friendly metropolis.

    Michael De Leon, Republic Brand Communications president and chief executive officer, said the event, dubbed I-Cycle 2016: Ride Pilipinas, will be a gathering of motorcycle riders and bikers. He said participants of the event will push for a nationwide cycling revolution and make Metro Manila a “cyclists city.”

    Furthermore, De Leon said, event participants want to have a place where people can ride their bikes safely, enjoyably and easily in an environment that embraces cycling. They also want to highlight that biking is the solution to the perennial traffic gridlock in Metro Manila.

    On Wednesday, the Republik together with Jen Santos of ABS-CBN’s Bantay Kalikasan, Noemi B. Samson of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc, and Jeffrey S. Sonora of Republic Brand Communications Inc. signed a memorandum of agreement at the ABS-CBN Compound in Quezon City for the up coming I-Cycle 2016: Ride Pilipinas.

    “I-Cycle is part of Republik’s series of events in partnership with ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. from 2016 until 2017. This collaboration endeavors to empower different sectors, like motorcyle riders and cyclists, so their voices are heard by the entire nation”, De Leon added.

    I-Cycle 2016: Ride Pilipinas unfolds on November 18-20, 2016 at Hall D of World Trade Center, Pasay City. Entrance is free-of-charge. Loot bags filled with exciting goodies await guests.

    During the event, known experts in the industry will dispel myths about cycling by sharing their best practices and ethical standards when riding motor or bicycles. Guest and participants, on the other hand, will pledge to — observe and respect the bike lanes, maintain their motorbikes, drive safely and promote defensive driving.

    At the end of the two day event, Nov. 20,  different groups of cyclists and motor riders are going to conduct a “Unity Ride” by occupying the bike lanes of EDSA all the way to World Trade Center. It will be a fusion of motor riders and cyclists passing through the busiest road of Metro Manila, a testament of harmony and assertion of their rightful spot on the roads.

    The World Health Organization’s May 2016 report states that half of those dying on the world’s roads are “vulnerable road users”: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

    The Philippines is considered as a dangerous place for two-wheel riders. Motor and bicycle accidents are recognized as one of the leading causes of death in the country.

    For more details, visit


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    Sabah is ours – Aquilino Pimentel

    July 18th, 2016
    Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Photo ©
    Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Photo ©

    Former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel on Monday reiterates that Sabah is part of the Philippines and should be among the states to be created under the federal form of government that President Rodrigo Duterte proposes.

    “Sabah is ours and many countries recognized it,” said Pimentel during a Lecture on Federalism held at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City. He added Sabah belongs to the Philippines and there are documents to prove this claim while Malaysia is just a lessee.

    Under the federal system, the country will have 11 federal states. And while keeping a presidential form of government the number of elected senators will be increased from 24 to 81.

    There will be four states under Luzon — Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and another four in Visayas — Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and Minparom, covering Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental, Palawan and the Kalayaan Islands, Romblon, Marinduque while three in Mindanao — Northern Mindanao, which may be subdivided into Northwestern and Northeastern Mindanao; Southern Mindanao, Bangsamoro.

    The National Capital Region will be the capital of the Federal Republic of the Philippines, just like the Washington D.C. in the United States.

    Pimentel explains that the system is necessary to allow government resources to be distributed equitably to each province in the country.

    “It is a system of sharing power,” he said.

    Pimentel is the founding chairman of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Pres. Duterte’s political party.

    Under the proposed federal system, the president and the vice president will be elected together with a six-year term of office without reelection, unlike the present system where they are voted separately, while senators will no longer be elected nationwide.There will be 66 senators for the 11 federal states and Metro Manila will also have six senators, and 9 more to represent overseas Filipinos for a total of 81 senators.

    Federalism, according to Pimentel, will accomplish two major things — cause the speedy development of the entire country by unleashing the forces of competitiveness among states; and second, dissipate the cause of rebellion in the country, particularly in Mindanao.By federalizing the Republic, the States will concretely address the needs of their component sectors more readily, he added.

    Duterte’s pitch on changing the country’s system into a federal-parliamentary form, has been a popular idea in provinces away from the capital, but has been lacking support from sitting politicians.

    Duterte complains that Manila gets everything “so regions are forced to beg.”



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    No change yet in MMDA leadership – Malacanang

    July 18th, 2016
    MMDA chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA chair Emerson Carlos ©

    Emerson Carlos remains the officer-in-charge of the Metro Manila Development Authority.


    ”In the exigency of service, please be informed that you are hereby designated as Officer-In-Charge, Metro Manila Development Authority. You are hereby ordered to continue to perform the functions of the office and ensure the continuous delivery of public services, until a Chairman is appointed,” says Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea in a letter to Carlos.

    Carlos, a presidential appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III, bowed out of the office last June 30 but was reinstated following the failure of the new administration to find a suitable replacement. 

    Mr. Aquino designated Carlos as the MMDA chairman late last year following the resignation of Francis Tolentino who run for senator in the May 9 elections.

    Carlos will continue his function as MMDA chief until such time President Rodrigo Duterte find his replacement, Medialdea adds.

    The MMDA, the principal government agency tasked to manage the traffic situation in Metro Manila, is having a hard time tackling the worsening traffic problem, which it blames to the increasing number of vehicles and lack of discipline among motorists and pedestrians.

    Earlier, Carlos said Pres. Duterte should be given extra ordinary powers to solve the traffic problem besetting Metro Manila and other urban areas nationwide and stop the multi-billion peso bleeding of the economy caused by these gridlocks. The extraordinary powers would enable the government to create more infrastructure projects and accelerate their implementation and completion, he said.

    Carlos said emergency powers can also be used by the president to rationalize traffic laws, rules and regulations being implemented by the national and local governments.

    Meanwhile, the MMDA is hoping that the government will pursue with the planned construction of subway system to ease traffic in the metropolis and nearby provinces. The planned subway from Southern Tagalog to Bulacan is one of the best solution to improve the worsening traffic problem in Metro Manila.

    The project form part of the more than P2-trillion transportation plan presented to the Philippine government by Japan International Cooperation Agency in its “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding Areas”.

    The MMDA discloses that Metro Manila is still in need of inter-city expressway 426 kilometers long until 2030. It says the metropolis also needs urban and suburban railways of six main lines 246 kilometers long and five 72 kilometers long secondary lines to improve traffic in the Philippines, especially in the National Capital Region.

    The JICA road map defines “Mega Manila” as Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna, which are the main focus in this study. The transport road map emphasizes the need to establish better north-south connectivity and appropriate hierarchy of different transportation modes such as roads, railways, and other mass transits.

    The road map also aimed to realize five NOs — 1. “No traffic congestion”, 2. “No household living in high hazard risk areas”, 3. “No barrier for seamless mobility”, 4. “No excessive transport cost burden for low-income groups”, 5. “No air pollution”.

    JICA Philippines chief representative Noriaki Niwa emphasizes that the road map is important to make Metro Manila a globally competitive and environmentally sustainable city.

    Under the initial proposal, the subway system will connect the northern and southern part of Metro Manila from Calamba City in Laguna and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and would pass through Epifanio de los Santos Avenue.

    Waze mobile application reported that on a city level, Manila reported the worst traffic on Earth, with Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Jakarta not far behind. 

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    MMDA seeks harmonization of metro laws

    July 18th, 2016

    A RANKING official of the Metro Manila Development Authority calls for the harmonization of existing local government laws in the metropolis and the MMDA’s mandate in a bid to empower the latter and save the government billions of pesos lost in traffic.

    One particular concern is the existence of different and often contradicting traffic policies in Metro Manila.

    MMDA's Crisanto Saruca Jr. ©
    MMDA’s Crisanto Saruca Jr. ©

    Crisanto Saruca Jr., head of the MMDA Traffic Discipline Officer, says “there should be one rule, a law that would harmonize the different policies about traffic, the function of the local government, LTO (Land Transportation Office), LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) and the MMDA in so far as public utility vehicles are concerned.”

    To bolster his claim about the confusion and discord that the different traffic rules bring, Saruca cites an instance when barangay officials allow vehicles to park (with conditions for a fee) in an MMDA no-parking zone or area similar to what happened recently in San Juan where MMDA traffic enforcers and local city government officers confronted each other over “illegally parked vehicles.”  

    Members of the MMDA Traffic Management Unit personnel were conducting operations along Annapolis Street to clear the road of illegally-parked vehicles and motorcycles when they were stopped by the San Juan City government personnel, saying the parked vehicles were using the street, which is part of the Mabuhay Lane routes, for pay parking.

    The MMDA prohibits parking along Mabuhay Lane routes.

    The San Juan local government, under its city ordinance, allowed car owners to park in the area and charges them P30 for the first three hours and an additional P10 for every succeeding hour. The MMDA officials said this confrontation could have been prevented if there is a unified traffic laws.

    “They have their own jurisdiction under the local government code. But what about our function or policy that no parking on all roads?” Saruca asks.

    Saruca stresses that different ordinances and policies of local government units hamper the implementation of MMDA programs intended to solve the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis. He notes that the traffic situation in Metro Manila causes an estimated productivity loss of around P2.4 billion a day. That is more than P800 billion a year.

    Former DILG Sec. Jose Lina Jr. Photo ©
    Former DILG Sec. Jose Lina Jr. Photo ©

    Meanwhile, former interior and local government Secretary Jose Lina Jr. said the absence of police power in the MMDA’s charter had emasculated the agency.

    “Like for instance the MMDA wants to build a bridge but the mayor in the city is against it , so what will happen now? Where is the police power of the MMDA there?” said Lina who also served as Metro Manila governor in 1986.

    Lina said under Republic Act 7924, the law creating the MMDA, the agency was vested with “planning, monitoring, and coordinative functions and, in the process, exercise regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within Metro Manila without diminution of the autonomy of local government units (LGUs) concerning purely local matters.”

    Among the powers vested to the MMDA are development planning, transport and traffic management, solid waste disposal and management; flood control and sewerage management, urban renewal, zoning, land use planning and shelter services, health and sanitation, urban protection and pollution control; and public safety as among the metro-wide services it can offer. Lina adds. 


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    The MMDA strengthens Pasig River ferry system

    July 1st, 2016
    MMDA ferry Photo ©
    MMDA ferry Photo ©

    IN a bid to promote the Pasig River Ferry Service as an alternative mode of transportation in the metropolis, the Metro Manila Development Authority launched another commuter boat last Thursday, the last day in office of its chair Emerson Carlos.

    The launching of the 20-seater ferry at the Guadalupe Station in Makati City brought to 16 the total number of ferries servicing the length of Pasig River from Plaza Mexico in Manila to barangay San Joaquin in Pasig City.

    The ferry system operates from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It has terminals in barangays Pinagbuhatan, and San Joaquin in Pasig City; barangay Guadalupe and Valenzuela in Makati City; barangay Hulo in Mandaluyong City; PUP, Sta. Mesa; Sta. Ana District, Lambingan, Lawton, Escolta, and Plaza Mexico all in the City of Manila.

    As of March this year, MMDA records show that more than 150, 000 people have used the ferry service.

    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©

    Mas maliit, mas mabilis. All in all, we now have a total of 16 operational ferries in our fleet. These will service passengers along Pasig River, which stretches from Pasig City up to Plaza Mexico in Manila,” said Carlos.

    “This is our way to help the people find an alternative mode of transportation. We all know that major roads are congested because of the numerous projects like the Skyway Stage 3 and the Naia elevated expressway,” Carlos added.

    The operation of the ferry system was stopped by the MMDA in 2011 due to the decline in the number of passengers brought about by the river’s foul smell. The system was revived in April 2014 in an attempt to decongest the clogged streets of the metropolis that are affected the by the 15 on going road rehabilitation projects.

    The ferry system also aims to boost Metro Manila’s tourism and the MMDA’s capability to perform search and rescue operations.

    Carlos, before saying farewell to all MMDA employees, said “my last instruction to our people is to continue all the programs we have started. Prepare for the rainy season and double their effort in the next period. The MMDA is a daily crisis concern center. Immediate concern that should not be abandoned.”

    Moreover, Carlos advised his would be successor to “listen to the people and listen to the MMDA heads because they know better.”

    “Sometimes we think our idea doable but you have to consult the people who have seen it, those who experienced it and then you will realize they tried it already,” he said.

    Malacanang designated Carlos as the MMDA chairman late last year following the resignation of Francis Tolentino who decided to run for senator in the May 9 elections.


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    Exiting MMDA chair supports the granting of emergency power to the incoming president to solve Metro Manila’s traffic woes

    June 28th, 2016
    An ordinary day on EDSA ©
    An ordinary day on EDSA ©

    Metro Manila Development Authority chair Emerson Carlos said in-coming President Rodrigo Duterte should be given extra ordinary powers to solve the traffic problem besetting Metro Manila and other urban areas nationwide and stop the multi-billion peso bleeding of the economy caused by these gridlocks.

    Carlos, who is set to relinquish his post on Thursday noon, also notes that giving Duterte extraordinary powers would enable the government to create more infrastructure projects and accelerate their implementation and completion.

    “It is better to use the emergency powers for infrastructure projects to solve traffic congestion because there is no instant solution for infrastructure. We can do it (infrastructure) but it will take more than two years before we can start the project,” said Carlos.

    MMDA chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA chair Emerson Carlos ©

    Carlos made his position public after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte says he cannot solve the traffic problems in Metro Manila unless Congress gives him “extraordinary” powers to deal with the worsening situation.

    The soon to be former MMDA chief explains that the emergency powers can also be used by the president to rationalize traffic laws, rules and regulations being implemented by the national and local governments.

    “There should be rationalization of traffic laws, like for example, we are implementing a no parking zone but the concerned local government unit there has a different policy which allows parking. So, there should be a common policy,” he said.

    Carlos appeal for rationalization is in reaction to a recent incident when MMDA traffic enforcers were prevented by local authorities from enforcing the No Parking Rule in San Juan City, specifically Annapolis Street, because that small city has a different policy which allows parking along that street in exchange for a fee.

    Annapolis Street is among the MMDA designated Mabuhay Lanes in the metropolis where street parking is supposedly strictly prohibited to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in Metro Manila. The parochial concerns of the San Juan City government, however, has prevented the general public from enjoying the benefits that the Mabuhay Lanes bring in their daily commute.

    Carlos said this incident could have been prevented if there is a rationalized traffic law governing the streets of Metro Manila.

    The MMDA, the government agency tasked to manage the traffic situation in Metro Manila, is having a hard time tackling the worsening traffic problem, which, it says, is caused primarily by the increasing number of vehicles and lack of discipline among motorists and pedestrians.

    Former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ©

    Meanwhile, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says she will file a bill granting Duterte the powers to impose drastic measures in dealing with the deteriorating traffic situation in Metro Manila. She adds that filing such bill would be among her top 10 priority bills this coming 17th congress.

    She notes that one of the ways to speed up growth is to get infrastructure moving, either by government or by build-operate-transfer or any of its variants.

    Among the additional powers that Arroyo wanted Duterte to specifically have is the ability to enter into negotiated contracts for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of critical infrastructure, projects and facilities subject to certain conditions.

    She also wants him to be authorized, whenever it is necessary for the national welfare and in the public interest, to set a maximum internal rate of return of not more than 12 percent of the house-estimated project cost.

    “Provided, that any infrastructure project that has the capacity to yield said internal rate of return under commercial conditions may be undertaken on a build-operate-transfer [BOT] basis or any of its variants as enumerated in Section 2 of Republic Act 7718, provided, further, that the toll fees in the case of projects undertaken as BOT or any of its variants shall be set by the Toll Regulatory Board,” Arroyo adds.

    “The President should also be empowered to reorganize the MMDA to make it more effective, innovative and responsive to the traffic crisis in Metro Manila,” she says.

    To finance these undertakings, Ms. Arroyo says her bill would compel the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to set aside 10 percent of its annual aggregate gross earnings for the next five years as a subsidy to MMDA, provided, that such percentage allocation will be based on gross revenue after deducting the 5 percent franchise tax and the 50 percent income share of the national government.

    The bill also seeks make the granted special power effective for two years unless they are withdrawn earlier by a resolution of Congress.

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    Prepare for the coming floods now! – MMDA

    June 19th, 2016
    Manggahan Floodway ©
    Manggahan Floodway ©

    METROPOLITAN Manila Development Authority chair Emerson Carlos urged local executives in the National Capital Region to prepare for the La Nina spawned heavy rains that are expected to pour in October and swamp Metro Manila with flood.

    “The full effects of La Nina would be felt in October. We expect there will be above normal rainfall. We will have 20 days of rain in a month. Thus, they (the local executive) should be prepared,” Carlos said.

    At the same time, Carlos, who also heads the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, gave assurances that the rehabilitated 12 water pumping stations and flood warning system will  boost the council’s efforts to control the perennial flooding.

    “As for the preparations, we have the Estero Blitz, the upgrading of pumping stations and the implementation of the Effective Flood Control Operating System (EFCOS),” said Carlos.

    Although the effects of La Nina could worsen the flooding in the metropolis, Carlos said the upgraded facilities in place will play a significant role in monitoring and alleviating flooding in the metropolis adding that the flood control system will surely be put to the test.

    The rehabilitated or upgraded pumping stations are located in Libertad, Quiapo, Tripa de Galina, Pandacan, Valencia, Binondo, Aviles, Paco, Makati, Sta. Clara, Balete and Arroceros. This will be the MMDA’s first year in using these newly-installed/upgraded pump engines.

    Carlos said EFCOS will beneficial not only to Metro Manila but the nearby Rizal province especially the municipalities of San Mateo and Rodriguez.

    Meanwhile, MMDA Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office chief Baltazar Melgar said the authority’s 54 pumping stations are fully functional. Each unit had the capability to pump 350 drums of floodwater per second.

    “These pumping stations are vital for flood mitigation because Manila’s elevation is only a little higher than the main sea level,” he said.


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    MMDA appeals to netizens for help in clearing Mabuhay Lanes

    June 16th, 2016

    THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority calls on all responsible netizens to help in ridding the streets of Metro Manila of obstruction by reporting their presence using the authority’s social media.

    MMDA chairman Emerson Carlos makes the call after the campaign against illegally parked vehicles and other obstructions on Mabuhay Lanes or alternate routes paralleling the busy Epifanio De los Santos Avenue (EDSA) was resumed. He said the latest campaign (from June 1 to 7) resulted in the towing of 47 illegally parked cars, motorcycles and public utility vehicles along Mayon Street, E. Rodriguez Avenue, Banawe Street, Scout Tobias, Del Monte Street, Agham Street, Hemady Street, Gilmore Avenue, and La Loma area, all in Quezon City.

    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©

    According to Carlos, the clearing up operation was conducted by composite teams from the MMDA’s Parking Discipline Group and Task Force Mabuhay Lanes, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group. The teams swooped down on the cited congested areas following reports of local residents and motorists.

    Carlos says “Motorists can take pictures of illegal vendors, basketball courts, gambling tables and other structures, including road diggings and they can post and upload them on our social media (”

    “Our policy is that if vehicles will be parked along Mabuhay lanes in the morning, they will be towed and at night, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. they will be fined P200,” Carlos explains.

    However, Carlos discloses, the lack of cooperation by barangay officials hampers the campaign to rid the streets of unwanted obstruction.

    Furthermore, he explains that the MMDA launches the social media reporting system to muster the public and private sectors help through their reporting of all traffic obstructions in Metro Manila, especially on the 17 Mabuhay Lanes. He notes that the report should include the name of the sender and the actual picture including the detailed location where the illegally parked vehicle or the obstruction was spotted and the time when it was taken.

    Upon receipt of the complaints, Carlos says, the composite team will immediately verify the pertinent information and forward it to the Agency’s Traffic Discipline Office (TDO) for prompt action. He adds that MMDA rules mandates that Mabuhay lanes should be cleared of any kinds of obstructions 24 hours a day.

    So far, the MMA has received more than 500 concerns regarding obstruction along major thoroughfares and Mabuhay Lanes.

    Mabuhay Lanes are 17 alternative routes to the 23.8-kilometer long EDSA. These are located in the cities of Mandaluyong, San Juan, Makati, Manila, and Quezon. It include secondary roads going to shopping destinations in Metro Manila such as Baclaran in Parañaque, Greenhills in San Juan, Divisoria, and Carriedo in Manila.



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    NBP official doubts veracity of alleged plots against President-elect Duterte and future PNP chief Dela Rosa

    June 15th, 2016
    NBP ©

    PHILIPPINE prison officials doubt the veracity of the claims made by incoming national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa that convicted drug lords serving prison terms have raised a P1 billion bounty to have him and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assassinated due to their anti-drug campaign.

    Msgr. Robert Olaguer, Bureau of Corrections spokesperson, said the Philippine National Police intelligence unit is having a hard time to check the veracity of Dela Rosa’s claim. He added it is possible that the future PNP chief was fed the wrong information.

    “It is possible he (Dela Rosa) has an insider (inmate) who gives him information but you can’t be so sure if this information is true,” says Olaguer.

    Olaguer issued the statement after Dela Rosa claims that he has reliable information that drug lords serving time at the NBP met and decided to raise a bounty for their heads due to their planned iron fist campaign against illegal drugs.

    “What they (the drug lords) did not know is that one of those present in their meeting is my informant,” Dela Rosa, in one of his radio interviews, said.

    The reported assassination plot came into the fore shortly after Duterte offered monetary rewards amounting to millions of pesos, to anyone who would kill a drug lord, a drug syndicate lieutenant, even a small fry drug pusher.

    This prompted political pundits to theorize that the offer of reward money for any illegal drug personalities killed or apprehended and the succeeding reports about the billion peso bounty for Dela Rosa and Duterte heads are part of an elaborate scheme to condition the minds of the public into accepting the return of the capital punishment.

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    About seven percent of Metro Manila towing firm employees are illegal drug users — MMDA

    June 9th, 2016

    ABOUT seven percent of all towing personnel working in Metro Manila are drug users.

    This was learned by the  Metropolitan Manila Development Authority after it conducted a surprise drug test on all employees of accredited towing firms roaming the streets of the metropolis. Specifically, 25 out of the 377 people subjected to the surprise drug test or about 6.63 percent were found positive for drug use.

    MMDA Towing Group chief Victor Nunez said those who tested positive for drug use cannot renew their accreditation or apply anymore from MMDA accredited towing firms. Their identification cards have also been confiscated.

    Nunez added that the drug test was conducted in line with the agency’s new policy to stop extortion and other illegal activity involving towing firms. He added that aside from the mandatory drug test, the towing personnel will also undergo seminar, and diagnostic examination. A smoke emission test would likewise be conducted on all tow trucks.

    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©

    Meanwhile, MMDA chair Emerson Carlos explained that these procedures i.e. drug and smoke emission tests are prerequisites for accreditation and would ensure that only qualified and decent people will be allowed to operate tow trucks in the metropolis.

    Carlos notes that those towing personnel found to be using illegal drugs are  immediately terminated by their respective companies, their names put on blacklist and banned from entering the MMDA impounding area. He urged motorists to report to MMDA any illegal acts committed on the road either by agency personnel or employees of private towing companies.

    Carlos said motorists should also list down the details of the towing personnel such as the plate number of the truck, the place, and date they were towed or take pictures as evidence if they want to contest.

    Two weeks ago, the MMDA suspended the accreditation of Arcson Towing Services following the complaint of Kristen Ann Uy Baron who claimed that two men took the keys of her car because it was illegally parked at Savemore Broadway in Quezon City.

    Baron said the two men asked P4,000 from her in exchange of being impounded at Ultra in Pasig but she refused. At present, there are 30 accredited towing firms while more than 100 tow trucks operating in the metropolis. 

    “We need to cleanse the ranks of tow truck operators. These isolated incidents are hurting the image of MMDA, since we are the one issuing the accreditations,” he said.


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    The Philippines’ MMDA is calling everyone to prepare for the “Big One”

    June 5th, 2016
    Earthquake drill - studets cover their heads during an earthquake drill ©
    Earthquake drill – studets cover their heads during an earthquake drill ©

    THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority calls on all residents of Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces to join the forthcoming earthquake drill on June 22 in a bid to prepare them for the coming “big quake.”

    “Six million participants in last year’s earthquake drill is not enough. We need all sectors of our society to participate. We need to engage the 14 million residents of Metro Manila. We need to engage the residents of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna,” says MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos.

    At the same time, Carlos announces the official launching of, a website where the public could access basic but vital survival tips and a list of evacuation centers in the event of the anticipated 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

    Carlos says the purpose of the website is “to minimize the number of victims.” adding that the public “will be able to get all the answers that they need here. All the procedures that we are going to do and all other data like Oplan Metro Yakal will be presented at the website.” 

    Under Oplan Metro Yakal, the MMDA will be responsible for the command and control, and the search and rescue operations if the big one jolts the metropolis. 

    To ensure the maximum public participation, the website will feature the instructions on how to sign up as participants, whether by individual or by group, in the 2nd Metro Manila Shake Drill, Carlos notes.

    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©
    MMDA Chair Emerson Carlos ©

    Last week, the MMDA conducted a series of meetings with members of the Association of Barangay Chairmen from Metro Manila’s 16 cities and one municipality to encourage more people to participate in the drill. 

    “This time, we are targeting residents because last year school children and business communities joined the event. We want residents to join, it is highly possible that the quake will happen inside the house,” Carlos said.

    The upcoming drill is being organized in close coordination with local and regional disaster risk reduction management officers, public information officers in Metro Manila, and different media organizations.

    Meanwhile, MMDA officials together with those from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, have been sitting down with various government agencies and different sectors of society to assess the results of last year’s Metro Manila Shake Drill.

    It was agreed during these assessment meetings to encourage participants to simulate a more realistic and new scenarios to challenge the disaster preparedness and response of every group.

    “With the success of the first Metro Manila Shake Drill last year, we would like to challenge ourselves to do better and be better prepared in the event of a catastrophic earthquake,” says Carlos.


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    Smoking kills a lot

    June 1st, 2016

    SOME 87,600 Filipinos die every year due to smoking or about 10 smokers every hour.

    Thus claim the Health Justice Philippines and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance as both organizations on World No Tobacco Day last Tuesday call for the passage of laws seeking the use of plain packaging for tobacco products.

    The World No Tobacco Day celebration this year is also participated by Filipino students and youth leaders from diverse backgrounds. 

    The celebrants see the planned “plain packaging” law as another step forward in tobacco control. The proposal, according to them, is an effective demand reduction policy which “restricts the use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and labeling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.”

    Moreover, in response to the creative marketing campaigns of tobacco companies to lure customers, the two organizations disseminated posters with the tagline “Masakit Sa Mata Ang Katotohanan, Gaano Man Kaganda Ang Pinaglalagyan.

    At the same time, the groups commended the government’s efforts that resulted in the significant improvements of the country’s health indicators. The groups cited the 2015 National Nutrition Survey which showed that smoking prevalence in the Philippines has gone down since the introduction of the Sin Tax Law (RA 10351).

    From a 31 percent prevalence in 2008, smoking has gone down to 25.4 percent in 2013, and to 23.3 percent in 2015, after the enactment of RA 10351. The budget for Universal Health Care also increased.

    In 2015, the Philippines also passed the Graphic Health Warning Act (RA 10643) which imposes a 50% pictorial warning in addition to the textual warnings on cigarette packs in order to better relay the health risks of smoking.

    Furthermore, the organizations said the number of smoking related deaths among Filipinos is part of the more than six million who dies every year citing a report made by the United States-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    According to the CDC aside from the six million lives it claims yearly today, smoking will cause more than eight million deaths annually by 2030. The CDC also reported that cigarette smoking is also responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States alone, including nearly 42,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.

    “On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today,” the CDC said.

    Meanwhile, the passage of the the Sin Tax and Graphic Health Warning laws are seen as positive health developments, especially by students.

    “The country successfully passed the Sin Tax and the Graphic Health Warning laws in the last four years. These laws aim to reduce the attractiveness of smoking, particularly to the vulnerable such as the youth, through increasing cigarette prices and promoting informed decisions with regard to smoking, respectively”, said Leo Rivera, convener of the National Youth for Sin Tax Movement (NYFSTM).

    The National Youth for Sin Tax Movement is a pro-health, youth-led coalition involving 10,000 students from all over the country, which was established in 2012 during the battle for passage of Sin Tax Law.

    On the other hand, Johna Mandac, co-convener of the Asian Medical Students’ Association, said medical students like her encounter countless patients suffering from the ill effects of smoking.

    “Targeting a leading preventable cause of death such as tobacco has always been a continuing struggle for health practitioners. However, we recognize that the fight continues for the proper implementation of these laws and for the passage of other public health policies,” she said.

    Dex Galban, of the Youth National Convergence for the United Nations’ Global Goals, said the youth sector is a key stakeholder in legislating public health policies. The campaigns for Sin Tax, Graphic Health Warning, as well as guarding the public against tobacco interference, and increasing the benefits of the healthcare workforce are advocacies that actively involved the youth.



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    Former Philippine election chief denounces the body he once led for giving too much power to a foreign entity in the conduct of elections

    May 28th, 2016
    Presidential and Vice Presidential canvass ©
    Presidential and Vice Presidential canvass ©

    FORMER Philippine election commission chief Christian Monsod denounces the body he once led for giving too much power to Smartmatic, a foreign information technology entity, in conducting the election.

    Monsod, at the same time, calls on the government to conduct an investigation on the insertion made by Smartmatic to the transparency server and other election-related irregularities and violent incidents in Mindanao, particularly in the areas of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.

    The former Comelec chair, in a recent press conference, notes how the poll body did not have tight control of the automated election system. He said the changes made by Smartmatic on the transparency server maybe minor but it exposes the vulnerability of the system.

    “It may be just cosmetic change. But it just shows that the system is vulnerable. We have known that for a long time that there is no system that is not vulnerable,” Monsod said.

    He stresses “the biggest lesson in automation is never let the supplier control the operation. Never give them control or access to all critical and important points. They do their jobs, they supply the software but to the operations, the supplier must not operate. This must be purely the responsibility of the Comelec and the Filipino experts in technology.”

    According to Wikipedia, an online resource site, Smartmatic is a multinational corporation originally incorporated in April 11, 2000 in Delaware, USA. It specializes in the design and deployment of complex purpose-specific technology solutions aimed at helping governments to fulfill their commitments toward their citizens.

    Smartmatic’s participation in Philippine elections since 2010 has been marred with allegations of irregularities but curiously it has not been barred from participating in subsequent elections.

    Meanwhile, an information technology expert, Edmund Casino, claims that cheating happened even before the May 9 elections.

    “About 30 days before the elections, the Comelec said there would be a change in the source code, even though the code should have been certified 90 days earlier. Why did we bother with a source code review? They’re saying there was something wrong with the configuration or in the list of candidates, which is quite lame,” he said.

    Casino expressed belief that the unauthorized change in the server on May 9 affected the votes for vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

    “The election management system has a master file, if you go there you will see the list of all candidates, their areas and positions. If you get to the master file, you can do anything. The mere fact that the file is there is wrong, but the Comelec let that go,” he added.

    On the other hand,  Election watchdog Automated Election Systems (AES) Watch co-convenor Bobby Tuazon described the recently concluded election as “disaster.”

    “After monopolizing the election technology in three automated elections (2010, 2013, 2016), it is time for Smartmatic to call it quits,” Tuazon said. He added it was Smartmatic that “practically counted the votes by using a system that is not transparent thus leaving the country’s millions of voters in the dark whether their votes were properly and accurately counted.”

    Earlier, the AES Watch had alerted the public on the following scenario that might happen during and after the May 9 elections. Among them: -There will be danger of double transmissions. -The manual delivery of 92,509 SD cards from the precincts nationwide was vulnerable to double transmissions, tampering, delayed ERs transmitted; etc.; -Tampering of the system: -Transmission failures. -Vote Counting Machines malfunction. -Improper and delayed final testing and sealing.

    “In just three days after the elections, more than 2,000 machines have been reported malfunctioning, and possibly more not disclosed, failed to work resulting in manual voting, etc. and affecting 1.5 million voters,” said Tuazon.

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    VP bet Bongbong Marcos and cousin Martin Romualdez losing votes abroad due to alleged irregularities

    May 5th, 2016
    Martin Romualdez and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos ©
    Martin Romualdez and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos ©

    VICE presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his cousin senatorial candidate Martin Romualdez continue to lose votes from voting precincts abroad due to alleged irregularities.

    The young Marcos, the only son of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., said he is already in possession of at least 10 complaints from Overseas Filipinos based in Hong Kong, China; Dubai, United Arab Emirates;  California, United States of America; and Japan who have discovered the OAV irregularities.

    Marcos revealed that they will soon file the appropriate complaints before the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Commission on Elections (Comelec), and vote counting machine service provider Smartmatic for proper and official investigation.

    “We have ten complaints and we will submit it to them immediately. What is disturbing is we are the only candidates (with votes) being deducted. We are saddened and we are worried about this,” said Marcos.

    Marcos said he is alarmed over the discrepancies in the votes cast in the ballots and the results indicated in the printed receipts of the OAV. He said he has received reports that his votes were credited to his opponent Senator Gregorio Honasan.

    “This can’t happen, but this is happening. I am worried and I am saddened it has happened. We would be happy if this is just a rumor. We are asking the proper authorities, give us some kind of explanation and assure us that the counting was an honest one, properly counted,” he said.

    When asked if he think the ruling party has something to do with the incident, the senator said he initially thought of that.

    “That’s what we thought but we want to know what really happened….that is why we asked the Comelec to act on this. This is very sad and we are worried about it,” said Marcos.

    Romualdez, for his part, asked members of the media to be vigilant in the upcoming elections.

    “We want to you to be our partners in reporting any irregularity during this election. This happened affecting the mandate of our OFWs. We should not tolerate this, perhaps they are too many. Very troubling, we are being robbed. Let’s get into the bottom of this and secure the integrity of the election,” Romualdez said.

    The cousins urged all voters and poll watchers from the opposing political camps to actively join in the effort to ensure clean, honest and credible elections.

    Marcos said voters should carefully inspect the printed receipts of their votes to determine if there is any discrepancy in their votes and the results in the receipt.

    “If there is a problem, don’t hesitate to complaint, tell the watchers and members of the Board of Election Inspectors to investigate it,” he said.

    At the same time, Marcos reminded his poll watchers to request from the BEI a copy of the election results (ER) once voting in the precinct is over.

    “Kung hindi kayo makakuha ng kopya ng election results (ER), piktyuran ninyo yung election results—lahat naman tayo me camera na sa cellphone,” Marcos said.

    The ER, Marcos explained, is supposed to be posted in the precinct after the voting and should be available for public viewing so taking a picture of the ER is not prohibited. He said the pictures can be compared with the results in the precinct and the results reported to the Comelec to ensure that there will not be any discrepancies.

    If there are problems noticed in the ERs, Marcos said voters or watchers may please report this to his Headquarters so his legal team, who will be ready, can provide assistance.


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    “Philippine Overseas Absentee Voting marred by irregularities” — Sen. Bongbong Marcos

    April 30th, 2016
    Senator Ferdinand "Bong-Bong" Marcos ©
    Senator Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos ©

    VICE presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the Overseas Absentee Voting is marred by irregularities.

    Sen. Marcos, the only son of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., made the allegation after learning that OAV votes cast in his favor were credited to other candidates in the receipts.

    Marcos said more vote receipt discrepancies have been reported with the latest happening in California, USA. He noted that vote receipt discrepancies have also been earlier reported in Hong Kong, Dubai, Kuwait and Japan.

    “We are in the process of collating all complaints, all data in preparation for the filing of a complaint before the Commission on Elections regarding the controversy. We will exert all efforts to get to the bottom of this,” Marcos said as he vowed not to take the vote receipt discrepancies issue sitting down.

    “What is disturbing is that I am the only one losing votes!” the senator exclaimed.

    At the same time, Marcos also chided the Comelec for warning voters from taking selfies with their receipts saying that instead of wasting its time on such matters, the poll body should ensure the conduct of clean, honest and credible elections on May 9.

    He aired the call after the Comelec said the Board of Election Inspectors in Dubai, Hong Kong, Vientiane in Laos, Madrid in Spain and Singapore reported incidents of voters taking selfies with their ballots.

    The taking of selfies by voters with their ballots is prohibited by the Comelec.

    Marcos, however, said “instead of going after voters taking selfies, the Comelec should focus all its efforts in addressing various issues that threaten the credibility of the elections, such as the reported discrepancies in the ballot, the printed receipts and the hacking of their website that compromised voters’ data.”

    Marcos theorized that the reports on alleged discrepancies in the votes in the ballot and the printed receipts could have spurred voters in the OAV to take selfies with their ballots.

    “You cannot fault the voters to take actions in a bid to protect their vote if they continue to hear reports of alleged flaws in the voting process. So, instead of going after those taking selfies, the Comelec should get its act together to allay any suspicions of cheating or voting irregularities” he said.

    Nevertheless, Marcos still urged Filipinos to go to the polls and cast their votes despite reports of vote discrepancies after observing the low turnout of Overseas Absentee Voting. Only an estimated 13 percent of the 1,376,067 registered voters abroad went out to vote as of late.

    “I still encourage our kababayans abroad to exercise their right to elect leaders whom they think will be instrumental in the development of the country, so they won’t even have to leave their families to work abroad,” he said.

    “It is important for OFWs to stand up and be counted. Even if they hear negative things about the process. I urge you, our kababayans to still vote and report if you are victims of anomalous activities so that your vote will be secure and also for action to be taken against the perpetrators,” he added.

    In response, Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim said the poll body will investigate should Sen. Marco file any charges. 


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