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28
April
2015

4.0/5 rating 1 vote
Palace to be consulted on bill scrapping 12% electricity VAT

The Senate and House of Representatives have to consult the executive branch first before Congress approves a measure scrapping the 12-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity, Malacañang said yesterday. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda noted that when Senate Bill 2714 is deliberated at the committee level, “the views of the executive branch, specifically those of the Department of Finance, Bureau of Internal Revenue and Department of Energy, will be consulted as part of the legislative process.” Authored by Sen. Serge Osmeña III, SB 2714 seeks to do away with VAT on electricity to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates. Osmeña noted that VAT is an added burden, especially to those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs amid the unabated price increases in fuel, food and other commodities. “Congress is duty-bound to find ways of providing economic relief for the Filipino people,” Osmeña said in his explanatory note on SB 2714. The senator also proposed the exemption from VAT of the services of franchise grantees or electric utilities and the sale or importation of machineries and equipment, including spare parts, to be directly used by the buyer or importer himself in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate committee on energy, noted that the Philippines has one of the highest costs of electricity in Southeast Asia. He cited the February 2015 addition of 5.24 centavos generation charge per kilowatt-hour plus the 12 percent VAT, which raised electricity charges by P0.52 per kwh. He said that for a household consuming 200 kwh of electricity per month, the estimated VAT is P188.55, an amount substantial to the average working Filipino since the price per kwh can hover from P5.49 to as high as P12.10. “What is worse, VAT is not only imposed on the generation of consumed power, it is also felt in transmission and system loss charges, among others. Thus, when it comes to electricity cost, Filipinos suffer most than those in Southeast Asia,” he added. Osmeña urged his colleagues at the Senate and the House to act with dispatch to approve SB 2714 since it “constitutes an invaluable economic relief for all Filipino households and businesses.” He pointed out that the foregone revenue of the government can be offset by the increased purchasing power of all household and businesses. “The resulting cheaper production costs will then parlay to a more robust and equitable economy for the country.” Source: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/palace-consulted-bill-scrapping-12-000000084.html

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28
April
2015

4.0/5 rating 1 vote
Pump prices up anew

Oil companies announced yesterday another round of price hikes with independent oil firms among the first to issue their respective announcements. PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm, and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, another independent oil company, were among the first to issue their respective advisories. Seaoil Philippines also issued its announcement. The oil firms said the increase would include 70 centavos per liter for gasoline and 30 centavos per liter for diesel that took effect midnight last night. “PTT Philippines will increase pump prices of gasoline by P0.70 per liter and of diesel by P0.30 per liter effective 12 midnight,” PTT said in its advisory. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P0.70 per liter and diesel by P0.30 per liter and diesel by P0.30 per liter effective 6 a.m. of April 28, 2015 to reflect the continued upward movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” Phoenix said. Source: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/pump-prices-anew-000000232.html

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28
April
2015

5.0/5 rating 1 vote
Cerbo named national police intel chief

Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina yesterday ordered the appointment of PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. as chief of the Directorate for Intelligence. Espina designated former Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force chief Senior Superintendent Bartolome Confesor Tobias as Cerbo’s replacement. Tobias will take over as the new mouthpiece of the 150,000-strong police force. He is the third officer to step in as chief of the PNP’s Public Information Office this year. Tobias is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class (PMA) of 1985. Cerbo is a member of PMA Class of 1984, the batch that adopted Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as their classmate. Cerbo first served as PNP spokesman from April 2012 to June 2013, and later transferred to the Directorate for Intelligence as its deputy. Espina designated him as PNP spokesman last February following the Mamasapano incident. Cerbo said his designation as PNP intelligence chief comes with greater responsibilities. Cerbo’s deputy chief is former PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor. Espina also named Senior Superintendent Pat Comendador as officer-in charge of the Anti-Cybercrime Group, replacing Senior Superintendent Arnold Gunnacao, who is now officer-in-charge of the Highway Patrol Group. Last week, Espina designated eight senior police officials to posts in the directorial staff, police regional offices and national support units, including Chief Superintendent Wilfredo Franco of the Directorate for Police Community Relations; Chief Superintendent Richard Albano of the Calabarzon region; Chief Superintendent Lyndel Desquitado of Northern Mindanao, and Chief Superintendent Edwin Erni of the Engineering Service. Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. is now deputy director for Personnel and Records Management. Senior Superintendent Eduardo Garado is the deputy regional director for administration in Calabarzon. Source: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/cerbo-named-national-police-intel-000000559.html

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28
April
2015

3.0/5 rating 1 vote
Heartrending final farewells for Indonesia’s death row convicts

CILACAP, Indonesia – Led by the hand through a scrum of reporters to an Indonesian prison island, the six-year-old Filipino looked confused and frightened as he made one of his final visits to his mother before her execution. During the visit to Nusakambangan Island, Filipina maid Mary Jane Veloso gently explained to six-year-old Mark Darren and her eldest son, 12-year-old Mark Danielle, that she would not be coming home. “She tried to explain again,” Veloso’s elder sister Marites Veloso-Laurente told AFP during an interview in Cilacap, the port town that is the gateway to the island. “If Mumma does not go home, just think Mumma is in heaven.” As the clock ticks down on the execution by firing squad of eight foreign drug convicts, heartbroken relatives who have fought for years to save their loved ones are rushing to say final farewells. The convicts, who also include nationals from Australia, Brazil and Nigeria, all recently lost clemency appeals to President Joko Widodo. They could be put to death as soon as Tuesday after they received official notification of their executions at the weekend. Veloso’s two sons travelled with their family – some of whom had never flown – from an impoverished community north of Manila to hear a message almost impossible for them to take in. Veloso, 30, was convicted of trafficking heroin into Indonesia in 2009, but says her only crime was to fall victim to international drug gangs who are now threatening to kill her family if they speak out. Her case has drawn huge attention in the Philippines, with supporters calling for clemency at regular rallies in Manila. Even world boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao pleaded yesterday for her life to spared, taking time out from preparations for his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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28
April
2015

5.0/5 rating 1 vote
ISIS has not penetrated Phl – AFP

Security officials yesterday maintained that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not penetrated the Philippines following an expert’s warning that the group poses a threat to the country. “There are no ISIS (members) in this country. Abu Sayyaf, BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), private armed groups to our knowledge are the people making problems down south,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said. “The Filipino people should not worry about it,” he added. The BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf have pledged allegiance to the ISIS but it remains uncertain whether they are receiving funds from the terrorist group. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the military is continuously tracking down the armed bandits. “We are operating to isolate their movement. The ISIS will not be able to enter (the country) to recruit,” the defense chief told radio dzRH. On Sunday, security consultant Rommel Banlaoi told ASEAN foreign ministers in Malaysia that the ISIS threat to the Philippines is real because of the Black Flag Movement’s pledge of allegiance to its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said ISIS has followers among Abu Sayyaf, Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement, BIFF and the Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao or Black Flag Movement. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, for his part, said the Philippines remains committed to help in the fight against extremism, terrorism and crimes against humanity. He noted that the Philippines has co-sponsored United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 on foreign terrorists and backed the ASEAN foreign ministers’ statement on violence and brutality committed by extremist organizations in Iraq and Syria. “The Philippines condemns war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by ISIS,” Del Rosario told his Southeast Asian counterparts. – Alexis Romero Source: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/isis-not-penetrated-phl-afp-000000655.html

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28
April
2015

4.0/5 rating 1 vote
Noy: China must honor pact with Asean

KUALA LUMPUR – China must honor the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea that it signed with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, President Aquino stressed yesterday as he pointed out Beijing’s “direct violations” of the pact and the need for ASEAN to reach a common stand on the issue. In his intervention at the plenary session of the 26th ASEAN leaders’ summit here, Aquino said China’s reclamation activities “are direct violations of the DOC and the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)” and also “cause irreparable loss and damage to the marine environment, threatening the livelihood of people living in the coastal communities.” The President cited paragraph five of the DOC which states: “The parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.” Aquino called for a common stand to protect freedom of navigation and commerce in the South China Sea that, he said, was now being “challenged by the massive reclamation activities undertaken by China, which pose a threat to the security and peace of the region.” He said ASEAN centrality should now be clearly demonstrated by “expeditiously concluding a legally binding code of conduct with China” that would implement the salient provisions of the declaration made in 2012 by China and ASEAN member-countries with claims to maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. Aquino also called on ASEAN leaders to “synchronize our regional and national priorities” in line with the implementation of the one-community concept of regional integration in 2015. The President thanked various members of the international community, including the Group of Seven industrialized countries or G7, “for taking a clear stand and for their calls to action in response to these illegal massive reclamations.” Aquino likewise sought heightened vigilance to curb “the rise of religious fanaticism and extremism in the Middle East” and reiterated the Philippines’ support for United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 on foreign terrorism which, he said, should be implemented to prevent the spread of terror-related crimes perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and similar groups. He cited the need to assist peoples caught up in humanitarian emergencies such as those in Yemen and Libya. The President urged the member-countries to work toward the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations by this year by concentrating on the core issues covering trade in goods and services, investments and economic cooperation. He acknowledged the support of Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia in the negotiations that led to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and advocated the use of a grassroots-based, multi-stakeholder approach to peace-building and reconciliation initiatives. Noting that 2015 is also the terminal year of the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he called for intensified efforts to eradicate poverty and foster inclusive growth as part of a collective vision of a post-2015 ASEAN community. He also advocated the initiation of accepting Timor Leste as the 11th member country of ASEAN and granting formal status to Norway as a dialogue partner. ASEAN was formed in August 1967 and groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Malaysia supports Phl stand Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak backed yesterday the Philippine position to resolve the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) in accordance with international law. Najib, in his address at the opening of the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center here, said that respect for international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, must be the basis of the rules of engagement and activities in the South China Sea. The Philippines is pushing for the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the immediate conclusion of a binding code of conduct. The country also filed an arbitration case before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to clarify the countries’ maritime entitlements under the UNCLOS. “While we continue our engagement and cooperative relationships with countries outside ASEAN, we need to peacefully manage differences closer to home, including overlapping maritime claims, without increasing tensions,” Najib said. Najib said recent developments had raised concerns about the South China Sea and given the importance of its sea lanes to international trade, it was natural that almost any occurrence there would attract global attention. He did not mention China’s massive reclamation activities. “ASEAN must address the developments in a proactive, but also in a positive and constructive way,” the prime minister added. Source: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/noy-china-must-honor-pact-000000215.html

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28
April
2015

5.0/5 rating 1 vote
China may be building airstrip on Subi Reef

China appears to be building an airstrip on Zamora (Subi) Reef in the Spratlys archipelago, boosting notions that the Asian superpower is conducting reclamation in disputed areas to display its military might. In a span of ten weeks, China has built an island compatible with an airstrip over Zamora Reef, according to a report published by online magazine The Diplomat over the weekend. “The dimensions and shape of the landfill, which is still underway, are compatible with a potential airstrip 3,300 meters long,” The Diplomat reported. The dimensions of the landfill, the report added, are similar to the prospective length of the runway being paved on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, the site of another Chinese construction project. “Military analysts have observed that a runway 3,300 meters long could support virtually all types of combat and supply aircraft in China’s navy and air force,” the report read. The Diplomat article said the speed, scale, intensity and remoteness of China’s ongoing manufacture of land and infrastructure within the West Philippine Sea “have few or no parallels in history outside of wartime.” Satellite images The Diplomat also published satellite images showing China’s fast-paced construction activities in disputed areas. The photos were taken April 17, just three days before the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted that the country is in a “very difficult position” because of China’s reclamation projects. The Diplomat report noted that only two small sites of dredging and landfill activity were detectable at Zamora (Subi) Reef on Feb. 6. “As of April 17, 2015, the landfill of Subi measured 2.27 square kilometers in area, on a par with the rapidly manufactured island at Fiery Cross Reef, recently assessed as 2.65 square kilometers in area.” A “sizable new port” and runway or taxiway are also being constructed in Kagitingan Reef. While there are no such naval facilities in Zamora, China is reportedly expanding a channel on the reef’s south rim. “The near-complete enclosure formed by the natural reef provides a protective harbor in its own right. In addition, extensive ongoing landfill at the southern extremity of Subi could be purposed for marine docks,” the report added. The online article said Panganiban (Mischief) Reef has been filled with sand and coral cuttings to an area of about 2.42 square kilometers as of April 13. There was virtually no above-water terrain in the area a few months ago. The report said China is also expanding its landfill across the northern rim of Panganiban Reef along a relatively straight portion of the submerged reef. The dimensions are believed to be capable of supporting a landing strip longer than 3,000 meters. A large part of the reef’s southwest rim was completely filled in just eight weeks, the report said. China is also speeding up construction projects in Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), areas that the Philippines considers as part of its territory. Amid the mounting tension in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine government is officially opening today a central maritime monitoring hub to keep an eye on the country’s maritime domain. The National Coast Watch Center is located at South Harbor, Port Area, Manila. It was put up with the help of the US government. Source: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/china-may-building-airstrip-subi-000000864.html

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