World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
28 January 2020

DUTERTE URGED TO WITHDRAW THREAT TO END MILITARY ACCORD WITH US

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte should withdraw his threat to end
Manila's Visiting Forces Agreement with Washington over the cancellation of
his former drug war administrator's US visa, a former senator said Tuesday.
The VFA, which covers the conduct of American soldiers in the Philippines,
is "not a perfect agreement" but Manila needs it, according to former Sen.
Francisco Tatad, who sponsored the Senate resolution concurring with the
ratification of the VFA in 1999.
"This is part of the security structure that we created in this part of the
world to maintain the peace and stability of nations," he told ANC's Early
Edition.
"Kailangan bang itakwil na ni President Duterte? I don’t think so. What will
it cost President Duterte to say nagbibiro lang ako. madalas niyang gawin
yan diba?"
Duterte had threatened to cancel the VFA to protest the US' cancellation of
Sen. Ronald "Bato" de la Rosa's visa. De La Rosa was chief of the Philippine
National Police and was for 2 years at the forefront of the President's war
on drugs.
If the Philippines pushes through with terminating the agreement, Tatad said
Manila would likely be "compelled to partner with Russia and China."
"That's the general direction that is indicated. But will the AFP be
comfortable with that? Will most Filipinos be comfortable with that?" he
said.
A poll last year found 78 percent of Filipinos believe Manila's ties with
Washington are more important compared to Beijing.


DUTERTE’S VFA DECISION NOT ON A WHIM – PALACE

MANILA — President Duterte’s decision to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement
(VFA) with the United States was not made on a whim, Malacañang insisted
yesterday as it claimed that the move was impelled by “a series of
disrespectful acts” by some American senators.?
Duterte has announced a plan to terminate the VFA, a 1998 pact that allows
Filipino and American soldiers to hold joint drills in the Philippines, as a
response to the cancellation of the US visa of his political ally Sen.
Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.?
Dela Rosa, who as national police chief had implemented the administration’s
bloody anti-narcotics campaign, has said he would ask Duterte to just let
the issue pass but admitted that the final decision on the VFA lies with the
President. ?
Critics have chided Duterte for his readiness to drop a bilateral defense
agreement because of a personal issue.
But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed that the cancellation of
Dela Rosa’s visa was not the only reason behind it. ?“The cancellation of
Senator Bato’s visa was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It was
an accumulation, a series of disrespectful acts by some of the US senators,”
Panelo said at a press briefing.


CHINA VIRUS DEATH TOLL PASSES 100 AS US, CANADA ISSUE TRAVEL WARNING

SHANGHAI - The United States warned against travel to China on Monday and
Canada issued a more narrow travel warning as the death toll from the
spreading coronavirus passed 100, with tens of millions stranded during the
biggest holiday of the year and global markets rattled.
Global stocks fell, oil prices hit 3-month lows, and China's yuan dipped to
its weakest level in 2020 as investors fretted about damage to the world's
second-biggest economy from travel bans and the Lunar New Year holiday,
which China extended in a bid to keep people at home.
The health commission of China's Hubei province said on Tuesday that 100
people had died from the virus as of Jan. 27, according to an online
statement, up from the previous toll of 76, with the number of confirmed
cases in the province rose to 2,714.
Other fatalities have been reported elsewhere in China, including the first
in Beijing, bringing the deal toll to 106 so far, according to the People's
Daily. The state newspaper put the total number of confirmed cases in China
at 4,193, though some experts suspect a much higher number.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump offered China whatever help it needed,
while the State Department said Americans should "reconsider" visiting all
of China due to the virus.
Canada, which has 2 confirmed cases of the virus and is investigating 19
more potential cases, warned its citizens to avoid travel to China's Hubei
province, at the heart of the outbreak.


FILIPINOS IN CHINA URGED TO GO ON 'SELF-QUARANTINE' TO DODGE CORONAVIRUS

MANILA — Filipinos in China are advised to go on "self-quarantine" by
staying indoors and "minimizing" contact with crowds to avoid a new strain
of coronavirus, Manila's envoy to Beijing said Tuesday, as officials in the
Philippines discussed evacuation plans.
Some "2 or 3 dozen" Filipinos have expressed desire to go home from the
central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the pathogen that has killed
some 81 people, said Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana.
If they are repatriated, Filipinos will be in contact with crowds at the
airport and face a higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, he
said.
The possible evacuation of Filipinos also requires China's permission.
Doctors should accompany them on the flight, and they should be quarantined
after arriving in Manila, he added.
"Ang ayaw nating mangyari na madala ang virus dito sa Pilipinas ng mga Pinoy
mismo," Sta. Romana told DZMM.
"Ang abiso namin sa Filipino community, self-quarantine. Lalo na sa Wuhan,
stay in your homes, minimize contact with others... Ito sa ngayon ang safest
way," he said.
Filipinos in the central Chinese city are advised to wear tight masks,
gloves, and boots should they need to go outside, according to public health
expert Susan Mercado.
"If you’re in the hot zone, the thing to do is to stay home because we know
the mode of transmission, you have to be close to another person to get it.
So if you're not interacting with anybody how can you get the disease," she
told ANC's Headstart.
Wuhan - a normally bustling transport hub that is home to a huge steel and
auto industry - hosts some 150 Filipinos, including students, teachers,
domestic workers and factory workers, said Sta. Romana.
Authorities have yet to receive reports of any Filipino in China who was
infected with the new coronavirus, said the ambassador.
Meanwhile, Filipinos in China who need assistance should contact the
Consulate at hotline (+852) 9155 4023, the Department of Foreign Affairs
earlier said.


DOH CHIEF TELLS PUBLIC TO CURB FALSE INFO ABOUT NEW CORONAVIRUS

MANILA - The Philippines' Bureau of Immigration will temporarily stop
issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals to help ensure the
country remained free of the new coronavirus, its head said on Tuesday.
"We are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help
prevent the entry of the 2019-nCov," Jaime Morente, the bureau's
commissioner said in a statement.
The virus outbreak, which began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in
December, has infected more than 4,000 people in China and killed more than
100.
Cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South
Korea, Taiwan, Nepal and the United States.
Chinese tour groups are the usual applicants for visas on arrival, Morente
said, as he clarified that there was no ban on the entry of Chinese
nationals.
"We have not received any directive imposing policy changes on Chinese
nationals," he said.
Filipino authorities said 11 people were being monitored locally for
possible coronavirus infection. All are foreigners of Chinese, German,
Brazilian and American nationalities who traveled to Wuhan.


ARMING OF BFP SEEN THIS YEAR

MANILA — President Duterte’s plan to arm members of the Bureau of Fire
Protection (BFP) will push through this year, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año
said yesterday.
Año said they are looking at around P800 million to P900 million for the
acquisition of firearms for BFP personnel.
He said he confirmed the plan with the President during a visit to Leyte
last week.
“The President’s plan to arm the BFP will push through. Let us finalize the
requirements and documentations very soon so we can have the available
fund,” he said during the oath-taking of newly appointed BFP director Jose
Segundo Embang.
Año said they are looking to fast-track the bidding and procurement process
that could see the 29,000-strong BFP armed within the year.
He said the BFP could help the Philippine National Police and the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in ensuring public safety, aside from their
main responsibility in preventing and suppressing fires.
“Of course their main job is suppression of fires and emergency responders
but it is good to know that our BFP are prepared and they have side arms
whenever they perform their missions,” he said.


PNP WARNS COMMANDERS: ONE STRIKE, YOU’RE OUT

MANILA — A one-strike policy will be imposed on police commanders who fail
to curb illegal gambling and other criminal activities in their
jurisdiction, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Francisco
Gamboa said yesterday.
Gamboa warned police station chiefs and district commanders to shape up or
be sacked from their posts.
“The one-strike policy will strictly apply to all commanders who will fail
to address illegal gambling in their areas of responsibility,” he said.
Gamboa said he would include the failure to address crimes against public
morals in the performance evaluation of police officials.
Gamboa has warned police officials that he would impose administrative
sanctions if they get involved in illegal activities such as gambling and
drug trafficking.
The warning covers all police commanders, Banac said.


DUTERTE APPOINTS EX-MILITARY CHIEF MADRIGAL TO PHILCOA BOARD

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former Armed Forces of the
Philippines chief Benjamin Madrigal Jr. as a member of the governing board
of the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The retired general was named to the post on Jan. 21 according to a list of
new presidential appointees released by Malacañang on Tuesday.
As a member of the PCA, Madrigal will help develop and implement programs
for the local coconut and palm oil industry.
Madrigal headed the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command before he took over
as AFP chief of staff in January 2019. He retired from military service in
September 2019 and was succeeded by Gen. Noel Clement.


SENATE PROBE INTO SEX TRAFFICKING LINKED TO POGO INDUSTRY

MANILA — The Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and
Gender Equality will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning into prostitution
rings that cater to Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator workers.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, panel chair, called for the hearing through Senate
Resolution No. 131 to "probe into the existence of prostitution rings in the
country and to examine the circumstances that push women from vulnerable
sectors of society to work under exploitative conditions."
Congressional hearings are done in aid of legislation.
Hontiveros, in her resolution, noted recent raids on condominium units that
have led to the rescue of trafficked women, most of whom were foreigners.
"[F]oreigners, particularly Chinese men working in nearby Philippine
Offshore Gambling Operators, were the main clientele of the prostitution
ring. The transactions
with the prostitution ring also took place in a Chinese social media app,"
she said, adding the trafficked women were "mostly Vietnamese, Chinese, and
Malaysian."


GOVERNMENT REJECTS METRO PACIFIC OFFER FOR MRT-3 TAKEOVER

MANILA — The government has rejected Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
(MPIC)’s unsolicited proposal to take over the operations and maintenance of
Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3).
In a recent interview, MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim said the
Department of Transportation (DOT) has returned the proposal to the company.
“I think the Department of Transportation has decided to pull it. I don’t
know if they are going to do it themselves or consider bidding it out. But
our original proposal has been returned already,” Lim said.


KOBE’S DEATH SENDS SHOCKWAVES THROUGHOUT NBA, WORLD

LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant's laserlike focus and sublime skills were
remembered Sunday by NBA colleagues, fans and athletes he inspired as they
absorbed the shock of his death at the age of 41.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and two-time
Olympic gold medallist, died in a fiery helicopter crash in suburban Los
Angeles that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and
seven others.
"We laughed and joked about the Mamba mentality. We're all going to need it
right now," an emotional Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before
his team played the Magic in Orlando in one of eight NBA games on the night.
Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, was washed in the Lakers
colors of purple and gold, and so were the pylons that mark the entrance to
Los Angeles International Airport.
In San Antonio, the Spurs and Toronto Raptors both committed 24-second
shot-clock violations on their opening possessions in honor of Bryant -- who
wore No. 24 in the later stages of his career.
"The NBA family is devastated," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. "For 20
seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with
an absolute devotion to winning.
"He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game."
Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan said Bryant would be remembered as one
of the game's greatest.
"Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling," Jordan said. "I loved Kobe – he
was like a little brother to me."
That sentiment was echoed by Shaquille O'Neal -- who won three NBA titles
and also famously feuded with Bryant in Los Angeles.
The grief was felt beyond the basketball court.
"The world lost a legend today, but the impact and legacy he leaves behind
will last forever," Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao -- an avid
basketball fan -- tweeted.
Brazilian footballer Neymar dedicated his second goal in Paris
Saint-German's 2-0 victory at Lille to Bryant, calling his death "deeply
saddening for the world of sport and for all of us -- not just for
basketball fans but for everything he did for sport."
Golf superstar Tiger Woods, whose professional career started the same year
as Bryant's, recalled competitive qualities that echo those of Woods
himself.
"The fire," Woods said of what he most remembered of Bryant. "He burned so
competitively hot. He had such a desire to win. He brought it every night."
"Any time he was in the game he would take on their best player and shut him
down for 40 minutes. I think that's one of the best things about him his
whole career."
Woods, no stranger to injury, recalled the time Bryant ruptured an achilles
tendon -- then stayed in the game to make his free throws.
It was just one of myriad signature moments Bryant produced in his career.
But for many Sunday's grief for what he might still have achieved in his
post-NBA life.
"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have
been just as meaningful a second act," former US President Barack Obama,
another keen basketball fan, tweeted.
"His star was continuing to rise every day and he knew no limits because of
his many intellectual and creative talents and desire to give back to others
– his passion for the game, for his family and for others was apparent in
everything he accomplished," former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird said.
In Los Angeles, fans gathered to leave tributes near the sight of the crash
and outside the Lakers' practice facility miles south in El Segundo.
And they gathered outside the Lakers' Staples Center arena, where Bryant's
death cast a shadow over the glitzy Grammy Awards.
"Here we are," Grammys host Alicia Keys said. "Together. On music's biggest
night celebrating the artists that do it best. But to be honest with you,
we're all feeling crazy sadness right now. Because earlier today Los
Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero.
"And we're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant
built."



NADINE LUSTRE OFFICIALLY LEAVES VIVA

MANILA – Nadine Lustre has officially left Viva Artists Agency, her talent
agency for several years.
In a statement released Monday, Kapunan & Castillo Law Offices informed the
public that Lustre is no longer a Viva talent.
“Consistent with her rights under the Civil Code of the Philippines,
specifically Article 1920, she has decided to terminate her agency contract
with Viva,” the statement read.
Article 1920 provides for a mode of extinguishing agency wherein the
principal may revoke it at will, either expressly or impliedly.
Lustre’s lawyers said she is “self-managed and will continue to be so
indefinitely.”
“She shall directly manage her affairs from now on, and bookings and
inquiries may be directly addressed to her,” it said.
Lustre has been making headlines recently following her breakup with actor
James Reid, who also left Viva last year.
In December, Lustre inked a contract with Reid’s own record label, Careless
Music Manila, with plans of producing a solo album. Previously, they
collaborated on several tracks, including the hit “Summer.”


NBA SCORES JAN 26


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Rockets 28-17    36    23    30    21    110
team logo Nuggets 32-14    27    30    33    27    117
SCORING LEADERSR. Westbrook HOU
32 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST
J. Grant DEN
25 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Raptors 32-14    37    26    23    24    110
team logo Spurs 20-25    21    30    34    21    106
SCORING LEADERS
    P. Siakam TOR
35 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST
    D. DeRozan SA
14 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Clippers 33-14    26    28    31    27    112
team logo Magic 21-26    28    24    20    25    97
SCORING LEADERSK. Leonard LAC
31 PTS, 14 REB, 7 AST
M. Carter-Williams ORL
15 PTS, 7 REB, 8 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Suns 19-27    18    27    33    31    109
team logo Grizzlies 22-24    30    26    25    33    114
SCORING LEADERS
    D. Booker PHO
36 PTS, 2 REB, 5 AST
    J. Morant MEM
23 PTS, 5 REB, 8 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Celtics 30-15    20    22    39    27    108
team logo Pelicans 18-29    32    30    29    32    123
SCORING LEADERSK. Walker BOS
35 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST
J. Holiday NO
25 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Nets 19-26    28    24    24    21    97
team logo Knicks 13-34    30    25    30    25    110
SCORING LEADERSS. Dinwiddie BKN
23 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST
J. Randle NY
22 PTS, 15 REB, 1 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Wizards 15-30    33    39    30    31    133
team logo Hawks 12-35    31    47    41    33    152
SCORING LEADERSB. Beal WAS
40 PTS, 3 REB, 6 AST
T. Young ATL
45 PTS, 6 REB, 14 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Pacers 30-17    27    29    37    36    129
team logo Trail Blazers 20-27    36    30    40    33    139
SCORING LEADERSJ. Lamb IND
28 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST
D. Lillard POR
50 PTS, 6 REB, 13 AST

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