World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
4 January 2020

DUTERTE TO SIGN 2020 NATIONAL BUDGET ON JANUARY 6

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign the P4.1 trillion national
budget for 2020 on January 6, his spokesperson said Saturday.
The signing is set on Monday at 4 p.m., Presidential Spokesperson Salvador
Panelo told ABS-CBN News.
Congress submitted the 2020 budget to Malacañang on December 20, 2019 after
Duterte certified the spending bill as urgent, but its signing was set a
week after the yearend budget deadline.
Panelo said the weeklong delay was because of Duterte's "thorough" scrutiny
of the appropriations bill.
"This President is a lawyer so he knows what is unconstitutional or not so
he decides for himself," he said in an earlier interview.
Malacañang earlier extended the validity of some parts of the 2019 budget up
to the last day of 2020, citing the 4-month delay in its passage due to
bickering among lawmakers over insertions last year.
Duterte's Republic Act No. 11464 allows government agencies to spend 2019
funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital
outlays up to December 31, 2020, on top of their allocations under the 2020
spending bill.
Several lawmakers are expecting the President to veto several portions of
the 2020 budget which were supposedly inserted by members of the House of
Representatives shortly before the bicameral conference committee meeting.


PINOYS IN IRAQ TOLD: PREPARE FOR MANDATORY EVACUATION AFTER US KILLING OF
IRANIAN COMMANDER

MANILA — Filipinos in Iraq have been urged by the Department of Foreign
Affairs to coordinate closely with the Philippine Embassy and their
respective employers in case a mandatory evacuation will result from
escalating tension in the region.
A United States airstrike on Friday killed top Iranian commander Qasem
Soleimani at Baghdad's international airport in Iraq, triggering regional
conflict and a wave of backlash against President Donald Trump for
supposedly instigating war.
“Based on info from our embassy - The crisis alert level for all areas in
Iraq is Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation) except for the Iraqi
Kurdistan region which remains under Alert Level 1 (Precautionary Phase),”
Assistant Secretary Ed Menez said in a statement.
Alert Level 3 is issued in the event of violent disturbances or external
aggressions in a limited area where expatriates like overseas Filipino
workers are advised to return to their own country.
The next highest crisis status is Alert Level 4 (Evacuation/Mandatory
Repatriation), which is issued when large-scale internal conflict or
full-blown external attack occurs.
“There is also an existing deployment ban of new workers and household
workers to Iraq,” Mendez said.
“The situation in Iraq is being closely monitored and the DFA is prepared to
send a rapid response team should it be deemed necessary. Direct conflict in
Iran itself is presently unlikely.”
Meanwhile, Filipino travelers have been urged by the DFA to cancel all trips
to Iraq until further notice as a precaution.
The Philippine Embassy may be contacted at (+964) 781-606-6822; (+964)
751-616-7838; and (+964) 751-876-4665 or via email: baghdad.pe@dfa.gov.ph;
and/or via facebook page: Philippine Embassy in Iraq.


WASHINGTON URGED TO LOOK AT UN REPORT TO IDENTIFY DE LIMA JAILERS

MANILA -- A group of human rights experts working with the United Nations
called for Sen. Leila de Lima’s release in 2018, concluding that her
detention was arbitrary in a report, which can now help Washington identify
Philippine officials to be covered by targeted sanctions.
A provision in Washington’s new spending law tasks Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo to apply penalties against these officials under the Global Magnitsky
Act, which includes preventing them from entering and freezing their assets
in the country.
But naming specific individuals behind the arrest and “wrongful
imprisonment” of De Lima, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte,
should be based on “credible information,” according to the provision.
“It’s not rocket science to know this,” said Manila-based lawyer Tony La
Viña, a member of the Committee for the Freedom of Leila De Lima.
Since the sanctions were attached to Washington’s spending law, the State
Department is expected to impose them within the year, he said.
“There is no more question about the illegality and the unjustness of the
detention. That’s determined already,” he told ABS-CBN News.
“But who’s responsible... is something that’s left to the executive branch
to determine.”


PALACE: MINDANAO SHOULD REMAIN UNDER STATE OF EMERGENCY OVER INSURGENCY,
TERROR THREAT

MANILA - Mindanao should remain under a state of emergency even after
military rule was lifted at the turn of the year because of the persisting
communist insurgency problem, Malacañang said Friday.
Threats of terrorism are also another factor in maintaining a "state of
emergency on account of lawless violence" in Mindanao, Presidential
Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
"...[T]he same should remain imposed and strictly observed by the AFP (Armed
Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) to ensure
the maintenance of law and order in all other parts of the country given
that there remains the communist insurgency to reckon with, as well as there
is yet a terrorist organization resurrecting to be crushed," Panelo said.
Strict security remains in effect in Mindanao because of President Rodrigo
Duterte's Proclamation No. 55.
"...[A]s long as the President deems it necessary to prevent or suppress
lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion (such as at present times), then he
is lawfully authorized to resort to this calling out power," Panelo said.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo on Thursday said such protocol
is necessary to counter "terrorist violence" in Mindanao.


WRONG VENUE: SC JUNKS PETITIONS VS PROVINCIAL BUS BAN

MANILA — Saying the proper venue is a lower court, the Supreme Court (SC)
has dismissed all three petitions filed by lawmakers against the provincial
bus ban of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
The seven-page decision said the petitions filed by Rep. Joey Salceda and
party-lists Ako Bicol and Bayan Muna were dismissed “for violating the
doctrine of hierarchy of courts” when it directly sought the SC’s
intervention instead of the lower courts.
“We dismiss the suit for contravening the doctrine of hierarchy of courts…
the doctrine is a practical judicial policy designed to restrain parties
from directly resorting to this court when relief may be obtained before the
lower courts,” the SC said.
The SC explained that the “hierarchy of courts” prevents “inordinate demands
upon the court’s time and attention which are better devoted to those
matters within its exclusive jurisdiction” and to prevent the congestion of
the court’s dockets.
It also emphasized that the SC should be the last resort of any legal
intervention.


35,000 METRIC TONS OF RED ONION IMPORTS SET

MANILA — The Philippines will bring in as much as 35,000 metric tons of red
onions after prices of the commodity shot up amid low supply in the market.
In his first briefing for 2020, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said
guidelines are now in place for the issuance of import clearance for 35,000
MT of red onions.
“It will be good for two months and we also have to consider the caveats
there. So the red onions can only be brought until mid-February so that it
will not be in competition during the main harvest time,” Dar said
yesterday.
He explained that market analysis done by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)
showed a gap of two months where requirements for onions will not be enough.
One of the sources of the imports is China.
“That is why we need to bring in the 35,000 MT. That is the principle.
Historically, we have low production for onions that is why we need a new
technology to increase our production,” he added.
Red onions are for household consumption while the white ones are normally
for institutional use such as restaurants.
The latest market monitoring of the DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance
Service showed that the price for red onion is at a high of P280 per
kilogram as of yesterday.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, on the other hand, showed
that prices ranged from P180 to P260 per kilo. In supermarkets, the price
range is from P150 to P200 a kilo.
Last April, the country’s production of bulb onion increased by about 70
percent of the total national requirement, satisfying household consumption
for the first time. The increase in the local onion production is the result
of the expansion of planted areas in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan,
Mindoro, Iloilo and some parts of Mindanao where farmers are starting to
plant in small areas.
The DA is now aiming for 100 percent self-sufficiency before the end of the
term of the administration. It also programmed the establishment of six cold
storage facilities in the country’s onion producing areas.


INCREASED IRRIGATION ALLOCATION FROM ANGAT DAM SOUGHT

MALOLOS – Bulacan farmers have appealed for increased allocation for
irrigation as the water level in Angat Dam continues to rise.
Data from the Bulacan provincial disaster risk reduction and management
office (PDRRMO) showed that the dam’s water elevation was recorded at 203.71
meters as of 8 a.m. yesterday, an increase of around one meter compared to
Thursday.
The PDRRMO said monsoon rains until Monday are expected to fill Angat Dam.
Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando set a dialogue of farmer leaders and officials
of the National Irrigation Administration yesterday in response to the
request of farmers to intercede on their behalf with the National Water
Resources Board (NWRB).
Fernando said it is likely that the NWRB would increase its allocation for
irrigation from 10 cubic meters per second to 20 cms. The normal allocation
is 40 cms.
“We are reviewing current rainfall data with the continuing increase in the
water level in Angat Dam. This should give us some basis on how much
increase can be considered on top of the current allocation,” NWRB executive
director Sevillo David Jr. told The STAR.
Only farms in Baliwag, parts of Calumpit, Pulilan, San Ildefonso and San
Rafael in Bulacan as well as San Simon, Apalit, Candaba and San Luis in
Pampanga are currently receiving irrigation allocation from Angat Dam.
The dam supplies the bulk of water to irrigate 12,000 hectares of rice
fields in Bulacan and 9,000 hectares in Pampanga.


SHARE PRICES BOUNCE BACK DESPITE US ATTACK ON IRAN

MANILA — The stock market bounced back yesterday, outperforming its Asian
peers even as the US attack on Iran sent jitters to global stocks.
The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index surged 97.26 points, or 1.25
percent, to finish at 7,839.79.
Likewise, the broader All Shares index gained 36.79 points, or 0.79 percent,
to end at 4,655.54.
All sectors ended in positive territory with the industrial and holding
firms among the biggest gainers.
Total value turnover, however, was thin at P5.6 billion even as market
breadth was positive with 108 gainers against 68 losers, while 59 issues
were unchanged.
Traders said the market perked up amid bargain hunting despite the thin
trading volume.
Net foreign selling prevailed, reaching P158 million as foreign selling
totalled P3.3 billion versus foreign buying of P3.2 billion.
“The PSEi gets bargain hunting boost but still with thin trades and P153
million net foreign selling,” 2TradeAsia said.
Asian stocks were subdued as Middle East tensions escalated with oil prices
jumping after Iraqi media reported on Friday that an Iranian military
commander, Gen. Qassim Soleimani, was killed in a Baghdad airstrike.
The US has confirmed that it launched a drone strike which followed a new
year’s eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Immediately following the news, oil prices rocketed by nearly four percent
in the morning of Asia trading hours with Brent crude soaring 3.98 percent
to $68.90 per barrel.


MANILA COURT DENIES BAIL PLEA OF 10 ACCUSED IN ATIO CASTILLO HAZING CASE

MANILA (UPDATE)—A Manila court has denied the bail plea of 10 Aegis Juris
fraternity members accused of hazing to death University of Santo Tomas
(UST) law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III in Sept. 2017.
Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali junked the
petition for bail filed by Arvin Balag, head of the fraternity at the time,
and 9 others implicated in the crime, finding that “the evidence of guilt of
each of the accused [is] strong.”
Besides Balag, the other accused are: Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Oliver
John Audrey Onofre, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Ralph Trangia, Robin Ramos, Jose
Miguel Salamat, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo and Marcelino Bagtang, Jr.
The court found that all of them were present during the fraternity’s final
rites, with some of them, officers of the fraternity, citing the testimony
of Mark Ventura, a fraternity brother.
“It was also established by the prosecution that accused Hipe, Trangia,
Balag delivered blows on the victim using a paddle, others were identified
to have delivered blows on the arms of the victim,” the court said in a
56-page order dated Dec. 10, 2019, made public only on Friday.
“It was also established that the herein victim was subjected to physical
injuries and died by reason hereof,” it added.
The 10 accused are facing a hazing charge under Republic Act 8049, which
carries a penalty of up to 40 years in prison if the hazing resulted to
death.


BRRR! TEMPERATURA SA BAGUIO BUMAGSAK SA PINAKAMALAMIG SA LOOB NG 4 BUWAN

BAGUIO CITY - Bumagsak sa 11.4 degrees Celsius ang temperatura sa
tinaguriang Summer Capital of the Philippines nitong Sabado.
Ito na ang pinakamababang temperaturang naitala sa siyudad simula buwan ng
Setyembre ng nakaraang taon.
Ayon sa weather bureau PAGASA, bunsod ito ng amihan o northeast monsoon na
nagdadala ng malamig na hangin.
Sa Atok, Benguet naman, bumaba sa 7 degrees Celsius ang temperatura ngayong
araw.


‘NO SCRIPT, NO FUSS, NO PRETENSE’: KATHRYN BERNARDO LAUNCHES OWN YOUTUBE
CHANNEL

MANILA — Box-office superstar Kathryn Bernardo is the latest A-list
celebrity to launch her own YouTube channel, promising a look at her
personal life with “no script, no fuss, no pretense.”
Bernardo, 23, had been teasing in the past week, through Instagram photos, a
“new beginning.” On Friday, she finally unveiled the project to be her
eponymous page on the leading video-sharing platform.
In her first-ever video, titled “Everyday Kath,” Bernardo is seen in a
dreamy setting apparently inspired by fairy tales, with “So This Is Love”
from Disney’s animated classic “Cinderella” as background music.
“She’s dressed like a princess but she walks around barefoot. She’s all
dolled up but she’s not afraid to bask in the sun. She looks familiar so you
believe you know her… but perhaps you don’t know her as well as you think
you do; in fact, perhaps you don’t know her at all,” its description goes.
Within an hour of the channel’s launch, Bernardo became the top trending
topic on Twitter, with her legion of fans expressing excitement over the
prospect of getting to know the actress on a new level.
Bernardo’s foray into vlogging is seen to help cement her status as a social
media superstar, having been listed as among the top Filipino personalities
across platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.


WATCH: BELA PADILLA, JC SANTOS IN ‘ON VODKA, BEERS, AND REGRETS’ TEASER

MANILA — Nearly three years after “100 Tula Para Kay Stella,” Bela Padilla
and JC Santos are reuniting on the big screen in a film that promises to be
as “heartbreaking” as the tandem’s debut.
“Si Bela. Si JC. Ulit. Oo. Masakit ulit,” went the accompanying description
of the teaser for “On Vodka, Beers, and Regrets” released on Friday.
In the first look from Viva Films, the characters of Padilla and Santos
appear to meet at a bar and quickly develop a romantic relationship.
The film was written and directed by Irene Villamor, who is also behind the
2018 hit “Sid and Aya: Not a Love Story” starring Anne Curtis and Dingdong
Dantes.
“On Vodka, Beers, and Regrets” is scheduled for release on February 5.

NBA SCORES JAN 2


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Hornets 14-23    31    21    30    27    109
team logo Cavaliers 10-24    29    30    26    21    106
SCORING LEADERS
    T. Rozier CHA
30 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
    C. Sexton CLE
21 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Nuggets 24-10    27    35    30    32    124
team logo Pacers 22-13    37    27    24    28    116
SCORING LEADERSM. Porter Jr. DEN
25 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST
J. Lamb IND
30 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Raptors 23-12    20    19    21    16    76
team logo Heat 25-9    18    24    21    21    84
SCORING LEADERSS. Ibaka TOR
19 PTS, 10 REB, 0 AST
B. Adebayo MIA
15 PTS, 14 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Warriors 9-27    19    22    26    17    84
team logo Timberwolves 13-21    34    24    23    18    99
SCORING LEADERS
    G. Robinson III GS
16 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST
    R. Covington MIN
20 PTS, 10 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Jazz 22-12    25    22    29    26    102
team logo Bulls 13-22    22    29    19    28    98
SCORING LEADERSB. Bogdanovic UTA
19 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST
Z. LaVine CHI
26 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Thunder 19-15    27    19    28    35    109
team logo Spurs 14-19    27    28    21    27    103
SCORING LEADERSS. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC
25 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST
D. DeRozan SA
30 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Nets 16-17    30    35    28    18    111
team logo Mavericks 22-12    31    29    33    30    123
SCORING LEADERSS. Dinwiddie BKN
19 PTS, 2 REB, 5 AST
L. Doncic DAL
31 PTS, 13 REB, 7 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Grizzlies 13-22    42    18    37    26    123
team logo Kings 13-22    26    37    27    38    128
SCORING LEADERS
    J. Morant MEM
23 PTS, 1 REB, 7 AST
    D. Fox SAC
27 PTS, 4 REB, 9 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Pistons 12-23    33    30    16    33    112
team logo Clippers 25-11    30    39    37    20    126
SCORING LEADERSB. Brown DET
15 PTS, 2 REB, 6 AST
M. Harrell LAC
23 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST


PBA: GINEBRA'S CONE WELCOMES LONGER BREAK BETWEEN GAMES 1, 2

Ginebra coach Tim Cone welcomes the PBA decision for a longer break between
Games 1 and 2 of the PBA Governors' Cup finals.
Game 1 between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco will take place on Tuesday at
Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, followed by Game 2 at Quezon Convention
Center in Lucena.
Hence, the need for longer rest period in between games. This will also give
both teams more preparation time ahead of Game 2.
“It’s good. I think it’s a smart thing to do for the PBA only because I
think the quality of the game should be better,” said Cone in a report
posted on Spin.ph.
“It will give a little bit more recovery time going back, getting to Lucena,
and a little bit more prep time.”
The move will also benefit fans since they will be assured of quality and
highly competitive games.
“I think the more you spread out the games, the better the quality of the
games are. That’s why I expect this series to be really high quality because
teams are going to be fresh, and they are going to be rested,” said Cone.

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