World Newsletter

24 Oct 2020



WASHINGTON, United States — The United States said Friday it will deploy

Coast Guard patrol ships in the western Pacific to counter "destabilizing

and malign" activities by China in disputed fishing grounds of the South

China Sea.

Accusing China of "illegal" and "unregulated" fishing, as well as

"harassment" of fishing boats from regional countries, White House National

Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said in a statement that the US Coast Guard

"is strategically homeporting significantly enhanced Fast Response the western Pacific."

These Sentinel class vessels will carry out maritime security operations,

including helping fishing boats "in collaboration with regional partners who

have limited offshore surveillance and enforcement capacity, and ensure

freedom of navigation," he said.

Washington regularly accuses China of breaking international law by sending

its warships as escorts for Chinese fishing vessels into the fishing grounds

of other countries.

In July, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper slammed a "catalog of bad behavior"

in the South China Sea over the previous months and accused the Chinese

military of having sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat, harassing Malaysian oil

and gas development and escorting Chinese fishing fleets into Indonesia's

exclusive economic zone.

O'Brien added that the Coast Guard, which is under the Department of

Homeland Security (DHS), was also studying whether to permanently station

several of its patrol ships in the area of American Samoa in the South


Last month, Indonesia protested about an incursion by Chinese coastguard

ships in its exclusive economic zone, which is situated between its own

territorial waters and international waters and where the state claims

exclusive rights to exploit natural resources.

China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea as its own, a claim

contested by several countries including Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines

and Indonesia.





Defensor says PACC’s blanket accusation unfair

MANILA — A ranking congressman yesterday challenged the Presidential

Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to name the lawmakers allegedly involved

in corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

House public accounts committee chairman Mike Defensor said the PACC should

identify the errant congressmen, as a blanket accusation is unfair to

Congress as an institution.

“I am not against what the PACC is doing. We support their campaign against

corruption in government. But I hope they name names because such blanket

accusation is unfair to all congressmen, especially those who really have

nothing to do with it,” Defensor told reporters via Zoom.

The Anakalusugan party-list congressman said the PACC should identify the

lawmakers involved in corruption in DPWH and also present evidence before

the appropriate body.

“If there are corrupt practices and congressmen are involved, then they

(PACC) should identify these congressmen and not involve the entire Congress

because there are congressmen and congresswomen who are really honest and

clean,” he stressed.

Defensor revealed that their panel was actually planning to conduct a

legislative inquiry into the reported DPWH corruption, which President

Duterte himself confirmed, but will now drop the plan in response to PACC’s


“But now that congressmen are being implicated, I would rather that the

investigation be conducted by a third party. Because we will just be accused

of whitewash if we investigate our colleagues here,” he explained.






MANILA — The Sandiganbayan on Friday found Surigao Del Sur 1st District Rep.

Prospero Pichay Jr. and two others guilty of graft due to anomalies

involving P1.5 million worth of chess tournament sponsorships in 2010.

The Sandiganbayan 5th Division sentenced Pichay, who was acting chair of the

Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) at the time, to 6 to 8 years

imprisonment for the irregular use of government funds for a chess

tournament under his name.

Also found guilty by the anti-graft court were LWUA’s former deputy acting

administrator Wilfredo Feleo and former senior deputy administrator Emmanuel


The court noted that the LWUA Board of Trustees unanimously approved the

2010 operating budget of the agency which contained substantial allotment

for sponsorship of chess events.

It added that there was conflict of interest on the part of Pichay when P1.5

million in LWUA funds were diverted to a private activity, the 2nd Chairman

Prospero A. Pichay, Jr. Cup International Chess Tournament.

“Apparently, such an interest is starkly opposed to his duties as the

LWUA-BOT Acting Chairman of safeguarding LWUA's resources and ensuring that

the same are expended in accordance with relevant office and executive

issuances,” the court said.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac, with

the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice

Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

It also noted that Feleo recommended the approval of the sponsorship request

while Malicdem immediately approved it, which resulted in the release of the

check payable to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

The court also said in its decision that the 3 accused be held jointly

liable to reimburse the P1.5 million, the amount of the sponsorship grant,

plus 6 percent interest per annum.

Pichay was likewise found guilty for violating the Code of Conduct and

Ethical Standards for public officials and employees and was meted to pay a

fine of P5,000.




OCT. 26


MANILA — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Friday

said it would pay its P930-million debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC)

for COVID-19 testing on Monday.

This, after the state insurer received the legal opinion of the Department

of Justice (DOJ) on how to proceed with the settlement.

“Having been in receipt today of the DOJ legal opinion saying that the

PhilHealth-PRC MOA is not subject to Procurement Law, PhilHealth will

release payment on Monday, October 26, 2020, subject to completeness of

billing requirements submitted by the PRC,” PhilHealth said in a statement.

The agency also said the payment would be in line with guidelines of the

Commission on Audit.

“This should enable the PRC to immediately resume its testing of swab

specimen of concerned sectors which PhilHealth pays for,” it added.

The Red Cross had suspended COVID-19 testing of repatriated Filipinos last

week citing PhilHealth debt that ran close to P1 billion, prompting

government to transfer the testing load to other laboratories.

This slowed down testing of returning migrant workers, leaving over 6,000

stranded in Metro Manila.






MANILA — The country’s defense chief on Friday said he would meet with the

military official who warned celebrities on being associated with leftist

groups, as well as with several officials from the country’s anti-insurgency

task force to address the issue of red-tagging that he said has gone out of


Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said officials such as Lt. Gen. Antonio

Parlade Jr. of the government's National Task Force to End Local Communist

Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) should not loosely tag anyone as a local

terrorist without any proof.

“Kung wala kang ebidensya do not talk about it, ‘wag kang magpunta sa media

or Facebook, so I’m convening a meeting with these people… si Gen. Parlade,

(National Security Adviser) Hermogenes Esperon, saka ‘yong member ng ELCAC

because of this brouhaha na lumalaki,” Lorenzana, also a former general,

said in an interview outside the Philippine Army headquarters.

He explained Esperon would be in the meeting as he is the vice chairman of


The meeting will address the issue of red-tagging of celebrities, among

others, and how best to address local terrorism.

He said officials should have evidence when they accuse people of being a

local terrorist. Otherwise, they should just keep quiet.

“I think we would talk… kung ano ba talaga ang magandang gawin, although

ELCAC is a very good idea, pero kung minsan e hindi mo naman puwedeng, lahat

na, ‘yong shotgun kang ganun na everybody. So be selective and dapat may

ebidensya tayo,” the defense secretary said.

“Huwag mong sabihin na leftist 'yan, o NPA 'yan, dapat may ebidensya tayo

kung ano 'yun, otherwise just keep quiet,” he added.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gilbert Gapay, meanwhile, said

Parlade’s statements were in line with the mandate of the military in

protecting institutions from local terrorists such as the Communist Party of

the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Several public officials have also condemned the military official, saying

his remarks were uncalled for.





MANILA — It took no less than Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to defend the

Supreme Court from criticisms it did not do enough to prevent the eventual

death of a three-month-old baby separated from her detained mother.

“Hindi naman kami nagpabaya. We tried to help her eh,” Peralta told

reporters at an online press conference Friday.

Baby River Emmanuelle Nasino was born on July 1 while her mother Reina Mae

Nasino was (and still is) under detention, facing illegal possession of

firearms and explosives charges following her arrest in November 2019 as

part of a massive crackdown against the Left and left-leaning groups.

Baby River was separated from her mother on August 13 and died on October 9

due to pneumonia while under the care of her grandmother. She was laid to

rest under heavy security last week.

Human rights groups have blamed the Supreme Court’s inaction over the plea

of Nasino and 21 other petitioners to release sick and elderly detainees

vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus inside crowded jails.

The petition was filed in April, while Nasino was 3 months away from giving


All 15 SC magistrates voted on July 28 to treat the petition as a petition

for bail or recognizance, leaving it to trial courts to determine if the

petitioners are individually entitled to post bail.

Since most are facing non-bailable charges, this requires hearings to look

into whether the evidence against them is not strong to qualify them to post


Peralta told reporters Friday that “as early as July 28,” SC announced the

decision, which he said should have given the signal that the petition was

not given due course because of factual issues.

However, the result of the SC vote was not actually announced by the Supreme

Court Public Information Office until September 10 or more than a month


Nasino’s lawyers did not receive a full copy of the decision until October

9, the same day River died.

The main decision was only 9 pages long but 8 magistrates issued separate

opinions collectively reaching almost 300 pages to argue varying positions

on a number of issues.

“Pinaghintay niyo kami at binigo. You made us wait but you failed us,” said

Fides Lim, spokesperson of KAPATID, a group of supporters of families and

friends of political prisoners, in response to the SC ruling.









MANILA — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging

Infectious Diseases (IATF) has allowed the resumption of operations of

motorcycle taxis after the House of Representatives approved the extension

of a pilot study program.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday said the IATF has approved

the resumption of the motorcycle taxi pilot study, which would be

implemented and monitored by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF)

and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The House earlier urged the IATF, NTF and DOTr to extend the conduct of the

motorcycle taxi pilot study program.

Roque said this would allow Singaporean-owned Angkas and Joyride to resume


Roque said the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board will be

issuing the guidelines as soon as possible.





MANILA — San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is extending the deadline for motorists to

get their RFID tags until the end of next month.

SMC – the operator of the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road, South Luzon

Expressway, the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La

Union Expressway – said it is ready to implement full cashless toll

collection on Nov. 2, as mandated by the government.

However, the company said the surge in the number of motorists rushing to

get Autosweep RFID tags has resulted in long queues at installation

stations, particularly in the past two weeks.

SMC said many motorists have yet to secure their RFID tags so the company

extended the deadline to Nov. 30.





MANILA — The Makati City government has launched an online pre-marriage

counseling program for couples applying for a marriage license.

The Makati Social Welfare Department (MSWD) would accommodate up to 15

couples during pre-marriage counseling sessions that would be done through

video conferencing.

Couples should have a stable internet connection with minimum speed of five

mbps, an account on web conferencing app WebEx, a computer with a webcam and

microphone. They would be required to wear presentable attire during the

online counseling, the city government said in a statement yesterday.

Couples should call the MSWD and provide their contact number and email

address. Registration and confirmation of the dates of their counseling

sessions would be sent to the email address.

The city government launched last June free wedding ceremonies, officiated

by Binay at the Washington Sycip Park in Legaspi Village each week.





MANILA (Updated 11:53 a.m.) — PAGASA hoisted Signal No. 1 over Catanduanes

as Tropical Depression Quinta slightly strenghtened and sped up.

The state weather bureau said strong to near gale-force winds can be

expected within 36 hours in Catanduanes.

It added that Signal No. 1 may be raised over Albay, Sorsogon, northern

Samar and the eastern portion of Camarines Sur by 5 p.m.

PAGASA said that "Quinta" may intensify into a severe tropical storm before

making landfall over Bicol region between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

According to its 11 a.m. bulletin issued today, "Quinta" is expected to

strengthen into a tropical storm within 12 hours.

"Quinta" is moving northwestward at 30 kilometers per hour, with maximum

sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of

up to 70 kilometers per hour.

The troughs of Tropical Depression Quinta and Typhoon Pepito, outside of the

Philippine Area of Responsibility, will bring light to moderate with at

times heavy rains over large portions of Mimaropa, Bicol region, Visayas,

Zamboanga peninsula, Bangsamoro, northern Mindanao and Caraga.

As of 10 a.m. today, the center of "Quinta" was spotted 660 kilometers east

of Catarman, Northern Samar.








MANILA — The inaugural Miss Universe Philippines pageant held Friday its

preliminary competition, naming winners of special awards.

Gathering 46 candidates representing cities and provinces, the preliminary

round was held at the Baguio Country Club on Friday morning, and was

streamed online through later in the evening.

Three major components of the pageant formed the preliminaries: the

respective competitions for national costume, swimsuit, and evening gown.

Earlier, the pageant held preliminary interviews.

The first-ever Miss Universe Philippines titlist under the new pageant

organization will wear the just-unveiled “Filipina” crown, and will

represent the country in the international Miss Universe pageant.

Gazini Ganados, the last national Miss Universe titlist under the pageant’s

Binibining Pilipinas era, will crown her successor.

The following are the special award winners (list follows):

Miss MG Philippines – Michele Gumabao, Quezon City

Miss Cream Silk – Pauline Amelinckx, Bohol

Downy Sweetheart Award – Pauline Amelinckx, Bohol

Miss Cetaphil Sun – Pauline Amelinckx, Bohol

Best in National Costume – Lou Dominique Piczon, Mandaue

Miss Photogenic – Tracy Maureen Perez, Cebu City

Most Beautiful Face Award – Pauline Amelinckx, Bohol

Best in Swimsuit – Rabiya Mateo, Iloilo City

Best in Evening Gown – Maria Ysabella Ysmael, Parañaque








Chris Newsome scored 18 points and Allein Maliksi added 17 off the bench, as

Meralco downed NLEX, 101-92, in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup on Friday at the

Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Kiefer Ravena tallied 30 points on an efficient 10-of-15 shooting from the

field, but the Road Warriors' starters struggled on offense.

The Bolts got plenty of help from Baser Amer, Raymond Almazan and Cliff

Hodge who also tallied double digits. Amer scored 11 points like Almazan,

while Hodge netted 10.

"That's what we really want. We want to play as a team, we want to share the

basketball. I think we went into this game number 3 in assists, that's

something we want to continue to do," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

Meralco now has a record of 3-2, while NLEX fell to 1-4.





Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins combined for 43 points to complete Phoenix

Super LPG's turnaround against Magnolia 91-84 in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup

on Friday at AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City, Pampanga.

The Fuel Masters fought from 17 points down by raining timely 3s in the

fourth quarter, leading to the Hotshots' collapse.

Wright led Phoenix's fourth quarter blitz finishing with 23 points to go

with his 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.

Perkins added 20 markers and 12 boards to help the Fuel Masters improve

their record to 3-2.

From 3-of-30 3-point shooting, Phoenix found its mark inthe fourth quarter,

connecting 6-of-9 attempts from rainbow country.

"We're not here to beat Magnolia, we're here to keep playing and we don't

want to give up," said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson.

"It's really challenging... We just didn't give up."

Phoenix was able to arrest a 2 game slide wwhile dealing Magnolia's third

straight defeat.

"It was a dogfight today... we just found a way to push through. We played

the right way," said Wright.

Chris Banchero led the Hotshots with 20 points.

But Paul Lee was noticeably absent, settling for just 10 points for


The Hotshots fell to a 1-4 card.





FOREX $1 = P 48.48





Never mistake motion for action. - Ernest Hemingway


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