PCGG refutes Bongbong’s claims

The PCGG, in a statement on Monday, noted that it has been receiving favorable decisions in cases that have been pending in various courts for decades, among which are the Arelma case involving $45 million forfeited in favor of the government, the Alfonso Lim case where Marcos cronies were proven to have abused their logging concessions and the ruling adverse to Fe Roa Gimenez, who was a close aid of former First Lady and now representative of Ilocos Norte province Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

Just recently, Sen. Marcos claimed non-involvement in the cases filed by the government against him and his family.

“However, this is belied by court records which show his involvement, where in some, he is even the signatory of the verification and certification portions, effectively the part of the pleadings where the complainant or defendant claims the veracity of what is being filed in court and swears to the truth of his statement before a notary,” PCGG Chairman Richard Amurao said.

“In fact, the Marcos family has been active in appealing to the Supreme Court various decisions which were ruled against them,” Amurao added.

“It would be untrue to claim that his family has stopped participating in said court cases.

For instance, in the Sandiganbayan decision in the case of Arelma promulgated on April 2, 2009, forfeiting in favor of the Republic Arelma funds, now valued at around $42 million, Sen. Marcos and his mother, hastily filed two separate petitions before the Supreme Court.

Instances such as these debunk the senator’s continuous denial of his knowledge of the actions being undertaken by his lawyers,” Amurao noted.

On January 13, 2014, the Sandiganbayan promulgated a Partial Summary Judgment declaring the Malacanang Jewelry Collection as ill-gotten and forfeited the same in favor of the Republic.

Amurao said the Marcoses filed several motions for reconsideration of the decision.
“Upon denial of the motions, they elevated the case to the Supreme Court,” he added.

“Similarly, on September 29, 2014, when the Sandiganbayan issued a Writ of Attachment against the million-dollar paintings that were still in the possession of the Marcoses and which form part of their ill-gotten wealth, the Marcoses immediately filed separate motions against the writ. Upon denial, the Marcoses elevated the matter to the SC through a Petition for Certiorari in 2015,” Amurao said.

He added that across several cases filed against the Marcoses, it appears that the family is still well represented and that these cases are being actively litigated by their counsel.

Despite facing high caliber lawyers from the Marcos end, the PCGG chief said the commission, together with the Office of the Solicitor General, the people’s tribunal which has represented PCGG in its fight against corruption, will continue to perform its mandate, so that any ill gotten wealth shall be returned to where it properly belongs, the government coffers.

Amurao also noted that indeed, even after decades, through PCGG’s continued perseverance, step by step, favorable decisions resolving ill-gotten wealth cases are being recently promulgated by higher courts and the Sandiganbayan, an affirmation that indeed, wrongdoings will be rectified if the government does not falter in performing its mandate.

According to the 2013 estimate of the Supreme Court on the Marcos wealth, the then-influential family legally had a total income of P16.4 million from 1965 to 1984, implying that whatever assets they obtained on top of that would have to be questionable.

That figure ballooned some 28 years after 1984 when Imelda Marcos reported a net worth of P922 million.

Senator Marcos declared a net worth of P437 million in 2013, as reported in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth .

The PCGG said it had recovered $4 billion in the last 30 years, including the $780 million Swiss accounts, of which Sen. Marcos, his mother, and his sisters were claiming ownership.

The PCGG, the agency tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies, had said that an estimated $6 billion in ill-gotten wealth remained hidden.

Last year, the PCGG had sought the help of auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s to examine the 600 pieces of jewelry that were seized after President Marcos was overthrown in 1986.

The commission was also still sequestering almost 200 pieces of valuable artworks from the Marcoses. (NEIL A. ALCOBER/ MANILA TIMES)

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Leopard attacks man in Indian school


A man with a tranquilizer gun looks on as a leopard attacks a man identified as wildlife conservationist Sanjay Gubbi at a private school on the outskirts of Bangalore, India on February 7, 2016. Agence France-Presse

BANGALORE – A male leopard which strayed into a school in the southern Indian city of Bangalore injured five people during an hours-long attempt to catch the beast, a wildlife official said.

Photos of the incident show the animal prowling around the closed school on Sunday and trying to maul forestry officials, a wildlife activist and others who came too close.

Ravi Ralph, chief wildlife officer in the state of Karnataka, said the leopard appeared to have got into the school from a nearby forest area by jumping over the compound’s wall.

The animal is seen attacking a man lying on the ground who uses his hand to defend himself. The cat is also shown sinking its claws into a man’s leg as he tries to climb a gate.

“The leopard was caught and caged after a four-hour operation, when it was trapped in a room with one tranquilizer shot through a wire-meshed ventilator,” Ralph told AFP.

The leopard was taken to Bangalore’s Bannerghatta zoo for observation, but was reportedly later released into the forest. His victims were treated for minor injuries.

Leopards number between 12,000 to 14,000, according to a national survey released last year. They are increasingly venturing into populated areas as their habitats become depleted.

A leopard killed a five-year-old boy in the courtyard of his home in central India in 2014.

Video footage from Mumbai in 2013 showed a leopard creeping into an apartment block foyer and snatching a small dog. (ABS-CBN News/ Agence France-Presse)

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‘No-holds-barred’ presidential campaign expected

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Candidates for national positions will officially begin their 90-day campaign Tuesday, February 9, in what could be a bruising stretch, especially for those running for President.

In the months since they announced their candidacies, presidential contenders have been defined, more by negative issues surrounding them, than by what they stand for.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay is hounded by allegations of large-scale corruption, while people have raised questions over Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas’ managerial skills.

Sen. Grace Poe is battling disqualification cases over her citizenship and residency, while human rights groups are wary of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed dictatorial tendencies.

With surveys suggesting no clear winner so far, a political analyst is anticipating a “no-holds-barred” campaign among presidential contenders.

“No one will be spared (because) the stakes are high (including) the cost (of the campaign),” Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, told ABS-CBN News.

A Roxas spokesman called for a “higher level of discourse,” now that the official campaign period was underway. But Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said his camp was also ready for whatever issues Roxas’ rivals would throw at him.

“We’re not saying that we won’t call to task our rivals on particular issues that they have avoided,” Gutierrez said.

“I don’t think that in the case of VP Binay, raising the issue of corruption is off-limits.”

In Roxas’ latest campaign ad, he promised he would “never steal.” Gutierrez said it was “quite obvious to voters” to whom the message was intended.

But Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, president of Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance party, said the Vice-President did not feel alluded to by the Roxas’ ad.

“We know that our conscience is clear, that (the corruption allegations) are not true,” Tiangco said.

No such issue hounds Poe, a neophyte senator. But her experience and competence are under scrutiny.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, Poe’s spokesman, said she brings a “fresh face, a fresh perspective” in the campaign.

“People keep saying she lacks experience, but others who’ve been in government for too long have become jaded,” Gatchalian said. “So perhaps, it’s time that we introduce a new candidate with a new perspective and who offers new solutions to the people.”

Lito Banayo, a political strategist for Duterte, said presidential candidates all have their “good points and bad points.”

“In the end, voters will choose who they think will make their lives better, and hope his perceived negatives will improve as he grows into the presidency,” he said in a text message.

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MERS cases declining before haj – Saudi minister

By: Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Reuters, Interaksyon
MECCA — A recent surge in cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a sometimes deadly virus, in Saudi Arabia has ebbed in the run-up to Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage, Health Minister Khaled al-Falih said on Thursday.

As pilgrims poured into Mecca from around the world, the Health Ministry said it had confirmed two more cases of the disease in Riyadh on Thursday, but the number of cases has declined since last month, Falih said.

Most medical staffers touring hospitals and medical centers around Mecca on Wednesday covered their noses and mouths with masks, as did traffic policemen and army personnel deployed to secure the flow of busses carrying pilgrims into the holy city.

“With the help of God and then with the measures taken by the ministry of health we hope to prevent the virus from getting to the pilgrims,” said Falih in a news conference.

So far around 1.2 million Muslims have arrived in the kingdom for haj.

In past years it has drawn up to 3 million pilgrims, but authorities have limited numbers in the past two years because of construction work around the Grand Mosque.

Saudi Arabia has banned the slaughter of camels around the holy cities during the pilgrimage. The animals have been found to carry the virus and scientists say they are the most likely source of primary infections of people.

Seven people in the city of Medina who have been infected by MERS have been moved to Riyadh as a precaution to avoid any spread of the disease near the pilgrimage sites, Falih said.

“The spread has begun to shrink and we are optimistic the days of spreading are gone and are behind us,” said Falih.

The kingdom has mobilized 25,000 medical staff from different cities into Mecca for the haj season.

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Studies on kissing, ‘huh?’ among comic awardees

By: Richard Valdmanis, Reuters, Interaksyon

BOSTON — Researchers who studied the consequences of intense kissing, the global use of the word “huh?” and how badly bee stings hurt on different parts of the body were among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes for comical scientific achievements.

The annual prizes, meant to entertain and encourage global research and innovation, are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpart to the Nobel Prizes, which will be announced next month.

Among the 10 awards, three went to teams of researchers that revealed that nearly all mammals regardless of size take about 21 seconds to pee, showed it is possible to partially un-boil an egg with chemicals, and used math to determine how a North African emperor from the 17th century fathered 888 children in just 30 years.

Other teams earned prizes for attaching a weighted stick to a chicken’s rear end to demonstrate how dinosaurs might have walked, and for showing that acute appendicitis can be diagnosed by how much pain a patient feels when driven over speed bumps.

Researcher Michael L. Smith shared the physiology and entomology prize for arranging honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, revealing that one of the most painful locations was on his penis.

Former winners of real Nobels handed out the spoof awards at the ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, organized by Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals. The ceremony included a three-act mini-opera about a competition between the world’s millions of species to determine which one is the best.

The Ig Nobel medicine prize went to two teams of researchers who conducted experiments to study the biological effects of intense kissing, which include decreasing skin allergies, and the literature prize was given to researchers who showed that the word “huh?” appears to exist in every language.

Ig Nobel prizes this year also went to researchers who showed many business leaders developed a fondness for risk-taking after surviving natural disasters in childhood, and to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police for offering to pay policemen more money in exchange for not taking bribes.

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Nietes, Donaire to invade Philippine capital

Longest reigning Filipino World Champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes and  five-division World Champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will highlight the double main event of ALA Boxing Promotion’s “Pinoy Pride 30”. Expected to take place this coming March 28 “Pinoy Pride 30, D-Day”, also features undefeated super bantamweight IBF Intercontinental champion Prince Albert Pagara. The three Filipino fighters vowed to give fans an exciting night of non-stop action at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines.

 Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (34-1-4, 20 KOs), who at the age of 20 started his career as a professional boxer is now the longest reigning Filipino Champion surpassing the record held by Filipino Boxing Hall of Famer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. Elorde reigned in the junior lightweight division for seven years and three months in the 1960’s while Nietes still holds his WBO title at 105 pounds since 2007. Come March 28, Nietes will make his next title defense against Mexican challenger Gilberto Parra (19-1, 17 KOs) who is ranked no. 13.  Nietes fights to extend his legacy in the WBO world light flyweight division by keeping the winning streak as long as he can.
It’s not over yet! That’s what Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire  (33-3, 21 KOs) wants the world to know. Coming from a devastating loss to WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters, the Filipino Flash is back and returns to his home country to fight at 122 pounds. His loss to the Jamaican power puncher prompted him to go back a division weight lower where he once ruled before losing to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux. Vying for super bantamweight weight championship title, Donaire will face Brazillian William Prado (22-4-1, 15 KOs). Nonito earned 2012 Fighter of the Year Award and has won world titles at 112, 118, 122 and 12 pounds as well as interim belt at 115 pounds. Although he grew up in the United states, he shares the same hometown with Filipino boxing icon and Fighter of the Decade Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao in General Santos City, south of the Philippines. This will be his fourth time to fight in his native land Philippines and for the first time since 2009. Asked whether he is thinking about retirement in the near future, he said a loss to this fight might prompt him to hang his gloves for good and that there is no reason to go on with his career if he can’t even keep up with this level of a fight. However, report says, an impressive win would possibly secure him a ticket to a title fight  in Macau, China in July where he will be the main event as promised by Top Rank promoter Bob Arum.
A fight also to be considered a highlight will be exhibited by the reigning International Boxing Federation Intercontinental super bantamweight champion Prince Albert Pagara against Mexico’s Rodolfo Hernandez (26-5-1, 24 KOs). Prince Albert Pagara (22-0-0 15 KO), a crowd favorite, is a hardhitting boxer from ALA stable who is currently the no. 1 fighter in the Philippines for the super bantamweight division and is quickly rising up in status in the international boxing scene. He is one of the sparring mates of Nonito Donaire during the latter’s two-week training at the ALA Gym in Cebu in preparation for the March 28 match. According to Donaire, Albert Pagara hits hard and fights well as a sparring mate and with the impressive skills, is set for a promising career ahead of him. Meantime, Rodolfo Hernandez is no easy prey with 24 out of 26 wins coming by way of knockout. This is certainly a kind of fight that will put boxing fans at the edge of their seats.
One defends legacy, one fights for redemption, and one strives to be the next star. “D-Day” initiates On March 28, Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum, Manila, Philippines.
Undercard fights feature Ryo Akaho of Japan vs Prosper Ankrah of Ghana and AJ “Bazooka” Banal of Philippines vs Junior Bajawa of Indonesia.

Pinoy Pride 30 is promoted by ALA Boxing Promotions, the Philippines’ premier boxing outfit.

See 8CountNews story here.
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PNoy won’t say sorry over Mamasapano incident’

Political analyst Edmund Tayao believes President Benigno Aquino III will not say sorry over the bloody Mamasapano operation even following the release of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Board of Inquiry (BOI) of its report on the incident.

“I don’t think that the President would even consider that,” Tayao said, explaining that the word “sorry” has already been associated with the previous administration.

The BOI, in its report, said the chain of command in the PNP was violated when the President, former PNP chief Alan Purisima, and former Special Action Force (SAF) director Getulio Napeñas “kept information” on the January 25 anti-terror operation “to themselves.”

The BOI said Aquino, who “gave the go-signal” for Oplan Exodus, “allowed the participation” of Purisima in the planning and execution despite his suspension.

He also “bypassed” the PNP chain of command when he directly dealt with Napeñas, instead of PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina.

“And even if it (saying sorry) happens right now, it becomes stale or if not useless. Perhaps what we can expect is at least for the President to really pinpoint to who or what is the culpability of his good friend, the former chief PNP,” Tayao said.

See ABS-CBN story here.

— ANC Dateline Philippines, March 14, 2015

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