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House leader: Chances of passing RH bill already slim

By ANDREO CALONZO, GMA News
The chances of passing the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill at the House of Representatives are already slim due to time constraints, a House leader said Tuesday.

“Medyo lumiliit na ang butas na pagdadaanan ng RH bill. Considering that realistically, hanggang December na lang kami,… medyo humihirap na ang panahon para maipasa siya sa House,” House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said at a press briefing.

He said the RH bill — formally known as House Bill (HB) 4244 — will be shelved in the next two months, since the House will become busy with deliberations on the 2013 budget.

But Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, an author of the measure, said the House leadership should not give up on passing the RH bill.

“We should let the legislative process run its course. Why should he [Gonzales] precondition the minds of Congress and the public that the bill will not be passed?” Ilagan said in a separate text message.

HB 4244, which has been undergoing plenary debates at the House since March last year, endorses the use of both natural and artificial modes of family planning. It has been identified as one of President Benigno Aquino III’s priority measures.

The bill is being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which promotes only natural family planning methods.

Last month, the Senate ended debates on the controversial measure, making it a step closer to being passed on second reading.

Caucus

At the news briefing, Gonzales further said that he will ask House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to call a caucus of all House members to decide on the fate of the bill once and for all.

“Hindi naman puwedeng nagsimula iyan one year ago tapos up to this date, pinagdedebatehan pa rin… We owe it to the people na dumating kami sa puntong mapagbobotohan ito,” he said.

Gonzales said he hopes his colleagues will agree to vote on whether or not to end the period of debates next month, before the House tackles the 2013 budget at the plenary.

He said this test vote, which he has been calling for since early this year, will allow the House to determine if the RH bill can still gather support from lawmakers.

“Kung walang quorum, that’s an indication na walang support, kaysa naman naglolokohan pa tayo at binibigyan ng false hopes ang mga tao,” he said. — RSJ/KG, GMA News

 

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QC cop sacked from post for refusing to make way for President’s convoy

A policeman was relieved from his post and faces summary dismissal for allegedly slowing down and refusing to make way to the convoy of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in Quezon City.

According to a report of radio dzBB’s Tuesday Niu, the president was on his way to an engagement when his convoy chanced upon the orange Asian utility vehicle driven by the policeman, SPO2 Ricardo Pascua, along Batasan Road.

Quezon City police head Chief Superintendent Mario dela Vega said Pascua, who was assigned to the QCPD Station 4, was relieved from his post after the incident.

Dela Vega said Presidential Security Group head Brig. Gen. Ramon Mateo Dizon ordered some PSG members approach Pascua when he refused to make way for the president’s convoy.

However, Pascua allegedly refused to give his name or his driver’s license, and even said, “Pulis ako .”

Dela Vega also said Pascua’s vehicle had a “QCPD” (Quezon City Polic District) license plate in the front. – VVP, GMA News

 

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Former PAGCOR head Genuino et al face plunder over pricey coffee

ABS-CBN News
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is set to file today plunder and graft charges against former PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino and 3 others in connection with the alleged overpriced coffee products sold in Casino Filipino branches.

Named respondents in the case to be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman are former PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino, former PAGCOR President Rafael Francisco, former PAGCOR Senior Vice President and Senior Managing Head of Research Development Department Rene Figueroa, and Promolabels owner Carlota Cristi Manalo-Tan.

A report from the gov.ph website said the 25-page complaint was initiated by the current PAGCOR Board. The agency’s Board authorized incumbent Directors Jose Tanjuatco and Enriquito Nuguid to sign and file the complaint.

The complaint noted that from 2001 to 2010, the three top Pagcor officials directed Casino Filipino branches “to enter into concession agreements with Promolabels with a view towards enriching themselves and coffee concessionaire Manalo-Tan through the sale and purchase of overpriced Figaro coffee products, to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people.”

Pagcor’s audit team discovered that from 2005 to 2008 alone, five Casino Filipino branches paid at least P258 million to Promolabels for coffee products.

Investigation done by the current Pagcor board revealed that Genuino approved a resolution on May 16, 2001 granting the proposal of Figaro Coffee Company to set up coffee kiosks in its Casino Filipino branches wherein the prices of beverages “will be similar to the prices in the malls.”

Thus, the concessionaire, a Figaro franchisee, put up kiosks in seven casino branches. Pagcor noted that Manalo-Tan is the wife of Johnny Tan, an ally of Genuino.

It noted that the seven contracts gave Promolabels a monopoly. The contracts never passed through a public bidding, Pagcor added.

Pagcor alleged that Promolabels was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“For the years 2005 to 2008 alone, PAGCOR could have saved at least P78 million if only the prices of Promolabels’ Figaro coffee products were the same as those of other Figaro franchisees,” the state-owned gaming firm cited in its complaint.

The ex-Pagcor officials were supposedly informed of the losses of Casino Filipino but “they refused or otherwise failed to act to stem or prevent further losses.”

“The respondents refused or failed to demand price reductions from Promolabels, and even went out of their way to give several justifications for Promolabels’ higher prices,” Pagcor said.

And yet, the former officials allowed Promolabel to increase further the prices, it said.

“The respondents’ acts of procuring coffee from, and “leasing” spaces to Promolabels without observing government procurement laws and their refusal to demand price reductions from Promolabels despite notices of irregularities affecting the concession agreement and the losses being suffered by the Casino Filipino branches under these contracts caused undue injury to the government and gave Manalo-Tan unwarranted benefits, advantages and preferences,” the PAGCOR complaint pointed out.

The billion-peso coffee scandal was first exposed by President Benigno Aquino III in his state of the nation address last year. Aquino will again face the nation on July 23.

Current Pagcor officials told the Philippine Daily Inquirer last week that the case has finally been resolved.

 

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PH eyes protest if China enters territory

ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs is waiting for the outcome of the inspection being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard on the actual location of about 30 Chinese fishing vessels that arrived in the Spratlys last Sunday.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said if they find out that the Chinese ships are inside the Philippine exclusive economic zone, they will file a marine protest against China.

“Our Coast Guard is doing our mandate of monitoring our maritime domain and making sure that intrusions are not undertaken by any foreign vessels. Whenever there are intrusions, what we do is to file protest so that it is put on record,” he told ANC’s Headstart.

The Philippines on Monday warned a large Chinese fishing fleet in the Spratlys to stay clear of its waters amid a continuing face-off between the two countries over disputed territory.

Hernandez said he received reports that a fleet of 30 fishing vessels from Hainan had arrived at a point near the Yongshu Reef in the Spratlys, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China and the Philippines have been in a stand-off over disputed territory within the sea since April, when Chinese government ships prevented the Filipino navy from arresting Chinese fishermen at the Scarborough Shoal.

The Philippines withdrew its ships from the shoal in June in an effort to reduce tensions.

However China had not followed suit, said Hernandez. He said that on Friday a coastguard plane sighted three Chinese government vessels, six fishing boats, two speedboats and several small dinghies still around the Scarborough Shoal.

Chinese-Philippine tensions have increased due to the standoff, with the Philippines accusing China of “duplicity” and “intimidation” at a recent regional forum in Cambodia.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighbouring countries. The Philippines says the Scarborough Shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. With Agence France-Presse

 

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PNoy thanks China for water project loan

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino thanked China for the loan that it extended to the Philippines to fund the second phase of the Angat Water Utilization and Aqueduct Improvement Project (AWUAIP) of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

Aquino attended the inauguration of the project at the La Mesa Dam portal in Lagro, Quezon City, along with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing.

The President did not mention the country’s territorial dispute with China but stressed the importance of cooperation among neighboring countries and the importance of respecting the dignity of every person and country.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa pondong ipinagkaloob ng bansang Tsina upang maisakatuparan ang mahalagang proyektong ito. Tunay nga pong sa maigting na ugnayan ng magkakaratig-bayan, mas mabilis nating natutugunan ang mga problema at mas napaglilingkuran ang ating mga mamamayan. Kaisa natin ang buong mundo sa ating adhikain: isang daigdig kung saan ang bawat indibidwal, bawat komunidad at bawat bansa ay iginagalang at kinikilalang may likas na dignidad,” Aquino said in his speech.

When asked by reporters, Ambassador Ma declined to comment on developments in the West Philippine Sea.

“Sorry, I came here just for this project. I’m not prepared to answer your questions. Some other time maybe… we’ll have [a] better discussion under better circumstances,” Ma told reporters, saying she had to proceed to another engagement.

The project, which costs P5.2 billion, was financed through a preferential buyer credit loan agreement from the Export-Import Bank of China.

China International Water and Electric Company served as the project contractor.

The project was approved during the administration of former President Arroyo under an economic partnership agreement with China.

Under the project, a new 9.9 kilometer aqueduct (Aqueduct No. 6) was constructed. The deteriorated section of Aqueduct No. 5 was also rehabilitated.

It aims to allow a more efficient delivery or flow of raw water from Angat Dam to the La Mesa and Balara water treatment plants, assuring the security of water supply for the MWSS service area.

The President said it would prevent the leakage of 394 million liters of water a day. He noted that the project was finished eight months ahead of schedule, crediting the MWSS for the efficient contract management.

 

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North Korea’s rocket launch ends in failure, South Korea says

North Korea’s much hyped long-range rocket apparently crashed into the sea a few minutes after launch on Friday, South Korean and other officials said, dealing a blow to the prestige of the reclusive and impoverished state.

Pyongyang had defied international pressure from the United States and others to push ahead with the launch, which even its close ally China had warned against.

According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, citing a defence ministry source in Tokyo, the rocket flew for 120 km (75 miles) and then broke up into four pieces, crashing into waters off the west coast of the Korean peninsula.

South Korea’s army said debris had crashed into the sea some 200 km off the western coast of South Korea.

“South Korean and U.S. intelligence understand that North Korea’s missile launch failed,” a spokesman for the South’s defence ministry told reporters at a briefing.

North Korea said it wanted the Unha-3 rocket to put a weather satellite into orbit, although critics believed it was designed to enhance the capacity of North Korea to design a ballistic missile deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States.

Officials from Japan confirmed the mission had failed, while ABC News cited U.S. officials saying it had failed, although there was no immmediate indication of where it fell.

The rocket’s flight was set to take it over a sea separating the Korean peninsula, with an eventual launch of a third stage of the rocket in seas near the Philippines that would have put the satellite into orbit.

This will be North Korea’s second consecutive failure to get a satellite into orbit, although it claimed success with a 2009 launch. There was no immediate comment on Friday’s launch from North Korea’s official media.

The Unha-3 rocket took off from a new launch site on the west coast of North Korea, near the Chinese border.

The launch had been timed to coincide with the 100th birthday celebrations of the isolated and impoverished state’s founder, Kim Il-sung, and came after a food aid deal with the United States had hinted at an easing of tensions on the world’s most militarised border. — Reuters

 

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NBA: Rose withers but Bulls top Heat to stretch East lead

The Chicago Bulls were forced to rely on their bench as a rusty Derrick Rose misfired but still managed a 96-86 overtime victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday that kept them in the driving seat in the race for the Eastern Conference title.

Rose scored a career-low two points on one-for-13 shooting and did not feature late in the fourth quarter or in overtime but the Bulls still seized a four-game lead over Miami with just seven games to play.

C.J. Watson scored 16 of Chicago’s 47 points from their reserves and made a game-tying three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

LeBron James scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade had 21 but the latter missed a potential game-winning shot as time expired in the fourth quarter. — Reuters

 

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PDEA destroys P800-M worth of illegal drugs

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday destroyed illegal drugs worth P807.7 million in Trece Martires, Cavite.

PDEA Director General Jose Gutierrez Jr. said they destroyed the following illegal drugs they obtained from various anti-illegal drug operations:

*206 liters of liquid methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
*186 kilograms of dried marijuana
*95 liters of liquid ephedrine
*22 kilograms of powdered shabu

Gutierrez said the drugs PDEA destroyed today were involved in 23 cases. He said the court had ordered the proper destruction of the illegal drugs, which were no longer needed as pieces of evidence.

He added that the disposal of the illegal drugs was in compliance with the guidelines set by Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“Extremely high temperature burned the substances into ashes, making it practically impossible to reconstruct its original chemical composition.  This is PDEA’s way of ensuring the public that confiscated drugs are destroyed and not recycled,” Gutierrez said, in a statement.

The last time PDEA destroyed such a large amount of illegal drugs was in 2011 at P591 million.

Aside from the illegal drugs, PDEA said it also destroyed expired medicines. (ABS-CBN News)

 

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Manila Mayor wants 2 ‘killer cops’ dead

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has issued shoot-to-kill orders against two policemen who figured in separate fatal shooting incidents recently.

Lim issued the order against PO1 Fulgencio Sideco, a Taguig policeman; and PO2 Rommel Fortunato, a dismissed Caloocan City policeman. Both suspects were residents of Manila.

Sideco is a suspect in the killing of Danilo Serrano, 63, last April 3 at the corner of Lacson and Romana Streets in Tondo. He was also tagged in a shooting incident last December 26 in Tondo where 2 people were injured.

Fortuno, on the other hand, is also in hiding after allegedly killing a pedicab driver last April 7. Lim said Fortuno had been dismissed from service for killing a fellow policeman several months ago.

“We are after the safety of innocent people here.  The shoot-to-kill orders will definitely apply in case the suspects will fire at the arresting police officers and endanger their lives and safety,” Lim said, in a statement.

Lim said Sideco is armed with an M16 rifle and a 9 millimeter pistol, while Fortuno is armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a hand gun.

He added Serrano’s family claimed that they have been receiving death threats from Sideco. (ABS-CBN News)

 

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Makati cops ‘corrupt’ video of shooting?

MANILA, Philippines – Makati police are investigating an incident involving the corrupted closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the shooting of a fire volunteer and a mechanic who were suspected of being riding-in-tandem criminals.

The shooting of fire volunteer Ronald Infante and mechanic Jenny Almanan in Lacunia St. last April 1 was captured on CCTV, which was installed in Makati View Apartelle.

However, the footage is no longer accessible following an attempt by several police officers to copy it.

“Mayroon silang gadget na isinaksak para kopyahin. Pagka-plug nila, hindi na gumagalaw,” said the apartelle’s manager Au Relucio.

Relucio identified the police officers who went to the apartelle as PO3 Ronaldo Villarama, SPO1 Rolando Concha Jr. and SPO1 Angelo Mendoza.

“Wala tayong mga ganyang instruction. Halimbawang totoo man ‘yan, paiimbestigahan natin hindi pwedeng ganyan,” said Makati Police chief Supt. Jaime Santos.

A CCTV expert said the recording mechanism’s hard disk was corrupted.

“’Yung hard disk na-corrupt, parang mayroong pinasok na virus,” said Noel Serafico of Quago CCTV.

A copy of the recordings is in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation. — Report from Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News

 

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