World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
30 January 2020

DUTERTE FORBIDS US TRAVEL FOR CABINET MEMBERS

MANILA - President Duterte has barred all of his Cabinet officials from
traveling to America, following his decision to terminate unilaterally the
Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.
"I am terminating (the VFA). I was not joking. The day I said it, it's the
day that I decided to terminate it," Duterte told reporters last night at
the end of the anniversary celebration of the Department of Social Welfare
and Development in Quezon City.
Duterte rejected any insinuation that it was out of a whim that he had
ordered the termination of the VFA.
He said his decision was reached not solely out of consideration for Sen.
Ronald dela Rosa - his close ally whose US visa had been revoked under the
Global Magnitsky Act - "but for every Filipino" who wants to go there
especially for business.
The President said the matter of terminating the VFA is already for the
Department of Foreign Affairs to handle.
Meantime, he remained firm on his directive for all Cabinet members to defer
plans to go to the US either for official or personal visits.
"I will not allow any Cabinet member to go down (there) at this time. No
Cabinet member should be allowed to go to the United States, indefinitely,"
he said.
At the same time, Duterte said he is "slowly toning it down," referring to
the country's bilateral relations with the US. "We limit our contact (with
the US) in whatever aspect of international relations."
"I don't know with the Senate or Congress. They are not under my
jurisdiction, but as for my Cabinet members, I will ask them not to go to
the US in the meantime. Parang (Like a) boycott," he added.
The President also said he is turning down the invitation of US President
Donald Trump to the special US-ASEAN Summit set in Las Vegas, Nevada in
March.
"I think by this time, our foreign office has advised (the US)... I am not
going. They don't want proxies there," he said.
Duterte said he is skipping the summit due to "strategic geopolitical
considerations," but did not elaboratefurther.


CHINA VIRUS DEATH TOLL RISES TO 170, MORE THAN 1,700 NEW CASES

WUHAN - The nationwide death toll from China's viral epidemic has leaped to
170, the government said on Thursday, with more than 1,700 new infections
confirmed.
Thirty-seven of the 38 new deaths came in hard-hit Hubei province, the
epicenter of a contagion that is causing mounting global fear.
Another death occurred in southwestern Sichuan province, the National Health
Commission reported.
Tibet also reported its first case, the commission said.
The 38 new deaths marked the biggest single-day jump yet and come as a
massive containment effort is underway that has effectively locked down tens
of millions of people in Hubei.
Most of the latest reported infections also occurred in Hubei, which tallied
1,032.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned all governments to "take
action" over the deadly SARS-like virus.
Hundreds of foreigners were evacuated from the epicenter of the outbreak on
Wednesday.
The contagion has spread to more than a dozen countries, with Finland and
the United Arab Emirates becoming the latest to report their first cases.
The WHO has called an urgent meeting for Thursday over whether the viral
epidemic should be declared a global health emergency -- a designation that
could lead to increased international coordination.
Airlines around the world are already either suspending or paring back
services in and out of China, following cases of human-to-human transmission
outside the country.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter that the organization
"deeply regrets" what he called a "human error" in WHO reports last week
that referred to the global risk of the outbreak as "moderate" instead of
"high".


ENVOY REJECTS PH TRAVEL BAN TO CHINA

MANILA - Imposing a travel ban to China is not needed, the Philippine's
Ambassador to Beijing said Thursday as the death toll of the new coronavirus
continued to climb in the mainland.
China has imposed a lockdown in 18 cities in Hubei province, where the virus
was first detected.
"A travel ban in a sense is not needed because a travel ban has been imposed
by China itself," Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sto. Romana told
ANC's Early Edition.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, however, has directed its embassy there
not to issue visas to residents of Hubei, where the virus originated, and
Chinese citizens with recent history of travel to the province.
Philippine authorities are also preparing for the repatriation of some 50
Filipinos in China.
They are, however, urged to "rethink the situation" as returning home to
Manila would mean "increased risk to exposure" to the virus, Sto. Romana
said.
"The WHO (World Health Organization) director-general actually visited
Beijing and had talks with Chinese officials. He himself said evacuation is
not necessary, quarantine is the best way," he said.
"Exercise self-quarantine, minimize social contact. This is the best way,"
he said.
The new strain of virus, which can cause a pneumonia-like acute respiratory
infection, has not infected any Filipinos in China, according to the
diplomat.
Those who wish to return home will be placed under a 14-day quarantine,
health officials earlier said.



MARY JANE VELOSO'S RECRUITERS CONVICTED OF LARGE-SCALE ILLEGAL RECRUITMENT

MANILA -- Two people who booked Mary Jane Veloso a job in Indonesia, where
she is on death row on drug charges, were found guilty of large-scale
illegal recruitment involving 3 other Filipina victims on Thursday.
A court in Nueva Ecija sentenced Veloso's neighbors, Cristina Sergio and
Julius Lacanilao, to life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million in the case
filed by Lorna Valino, Ana Marie Gonzales and Jenalyn Paraiso.
Veloso is not a complainant in the case. However, Manila raised the charges
against Sergio and Lacanilao when it asked Jakarta to stay her execution in
2015.
The prosecution "sufficiently established the guilt of both accused...beyond
reasonable doubt," the court decision read.
Veloso earlier claimed the two offered her a job as a domestic helper in
Malaysia.
In Malaysia, however, Veloso said was told the job was no longer available
and was sent to Indonesia instead, where she was arrested at Yogyakarta
airport for allegedly carrying 2.5 kilograms of heroin inside her luggage
provided by Sergio.
Indonesia sentenced Veloso to death in October 2010 over drug trafficking
charges. She was scheduled to be executed in 2015 but was spared from
capital punishment after the Philippine government said her testimony would
be vital in human trafficking charges against her recruiters.
Aside from illegal recruitment and human trafficking complaints, Sergio and
Lacanilao also face charges for estafa.
Securing a human trafficking conviction in a Philippine court could help
Veloso escape death row, lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union
of People's Lawyers (NUPL), earlier said.



CHINESE MAN ON NCOV WATCH DIES IN MANILA

MANILA - A 29-year-old Chinese patient under investigation for the 2019
novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, who was earlier admitted to the San Lazaro
Hospital has now been confirmed dead due to pneumonia, according to the
Department of Health's afternoon press briefing on Wednesday.
San Lazaro Hospital Director Dr. Edmundo Lopez said that it is not verified
if the 2019-nCoV factored in the death since the Chinese national displayed
a host of other health problems like testing positive for HIV, as well as
swelling and lung findings.
The DOH is still waiting for the results of laboratory samples for 18
patients from the local Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, as well as
six confirmatory results from an Australia-based laboratory.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the initial count of 27
PUIs has gone down to 23 after four patients were discharged.
All of the PUIs have a travel history to Wuhan in China, the ground zero of
the newly discovered strain of coronavirus. None of them are Filipinos and
most are Chinese nationals.
The Philippines still has no confirmed cases of the 2019 nCoV.
The Health department also said it will continue to look into the reported
cases in Baguio to check if they qualify as PUIs.


FBI RAIDS QUIBOLOY'S CHURCH IN LA, ARRESTS 3 LEADERS IN IMMIGRANT
TRAFFICKING SCAM

MANILA - The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the church of evangelist
Apollo Quiboloy in Los Angeles that led to the arrests of three church
administrators who allegedly trafficked followers as part of a six-year
fundraising scam.
Federal agents raided the Kingdom of Christ Church in a human trafficking
investigation Wednesday morning, the reports of the CBS Los Angeles and the
ABC News said.
The bust led to the arrests of local church leader Guia Cabactulan and
Marissa Duenas, who allegedly handled fraudulent immigration documents, in
Van Nuys. Amanda Estopare, who allegedly handled fundraising quotas, was
arrested by FBI agents in Virginia.

"Three people we took into custody today are being held for their roles in
the immigration fraud. So we believe they are, in some cases, taking
passports away from individuals that are coming into United States from the
Philippines," said FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller in a television interview
with CBS Los Angeles.
According to the reports, immigrants who escaped from the church told
federal agents that they had been sent across the United States to solicit
donations year-round for the church's charity and were physically and
psychologically abused if they did not meet the quota.
The money raised for the Children's Joy Foundation USA was supposed to
benefit poor people but the workers, in the complaint, said most of the
money was used to finance the operations of the church and the luxurious
lifestyle of Quiboloy.
"They (respondents) are forcing these individuals, in some cases, to work
all day, to solicit funds for what they are saying are for impoverished
children in the Philippines but in reality we believe that the money is
going to fund the lavish lifestyles of the leaders of this scheme," Eimiller
said.
Federal investigators said $20 million was sent back to the church in the
Philippines between 2015 and mid-2019.
Quiboloy-who proclaimed himself as the "Appointed Son of God-has been
friends with President Rodrigo Duterte for more than 30 years. In October
2019, he claimed he stopped a major earthquake in Mindanao.
His mega-church claims to have six million followers all over the world.


NO PROMOTION FOR OVERWEIGHT COPS

Nearly half of the country's 180,300-strong police force are overweight and
must work hard to slim down if they want to move up the ranks.
Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, spokesperson for the Philippine National
Police, on Wednesday said 36 percent of all policemen were overweight and
another 10 percent were obese.
Banac told reporters that while the numbers were "not too alarming," the PNP
would have to push officers to achieve their ideal weight based on the body
mass index (BMI), which indicates a person's ideal weight based on age and
height.
He said there was no deadline set for the PNP personnel to attain their
ideal weight, but he pointed out that the officers should show "some
improvement monthly, otherwise their schooling would be affected and then
eventually their promotion."


VOTER REGISTRATION IN TAAL - AFFECTED AREAS RESUMING ON FEBRUARY 3, 2020

MANILA - Voter registration areas affected by Tal Volcano's eruption in
Batangas and Cavite will resume on Monday, February 3, the Commission on
Elections (Comelec) announced Thursday.
In Batangas, voter registration will resume in Alitagtag, Balete, Laurel,
Lemery, San Nicolas, Sta. Teresita, Taal, Talisay, Cuenca, Lipa City,
Tanauan City, Balayan, Calaca, Calatagan, Tuy, San Luis, Mabini, Lian, and
Malvar.
In Cavite, voter registration will likewise resume in Alfonso, Indang,
Silang, Tagaytay City, and Amadeo.
Meanwhile, voter registration will resume in the municipality of Mataas na
Kahoy (Mataasnakahoy) in Batangas on February 10, Jimenez added.


SANGLEY AIRPORT DEAL SEEN AS FAVORING CHINA

A plan to solve congestion at Manila's international airport could soon
transition from just a dream to reality with the $10-billion Sangley Point
International Airport (SPIA) project that will rise near the entrance of
Manila Bay, some 35 kilometers from the capital.
But indications that the project would be awarded to a consortium that
includes state-run China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC) raise
questions on the joint venture selection process that the provincial
government of Cavite launched last October.
People who reviewed the joint venture documents and feasibility study said
these showed that a Chinese partner was favored from the beginning. The
Inquirer has also seen copies of the documents.
Unrealistic deadline
The sources included groups that decided to back out due to what they
described as the project's subjective criteria and a rushed selection
process.
Instead of at least six months to a year, bidders were given just more than
two months to prepare proposals before the deadline on Dec. 17, 2019. At the
time, the Cavite government had wanted to hold a groundbreaking ceremony
early this year.
"It was clear to us that the project is really for China," said someone who
had seen the documents.


JOSHUA EXPLAINS SWEET VIDEOS WITH JANELLA DURING FINALE PARTY OF 'KILLER
BRIDE'

MANILA - He called her "baby." He posted on social media sweet photos of
them together. And yet Joshua Garcia claims he and Janella Salvador are just
good friends.
Speaking on "Tonight with Boy Abunda" on Tuesday, Garcia shared why he and
Salvador have become very close after they got to work opposite each other
on "The Killer Bride."
"Sobrang close lang talaga naming magkaibigan," he said. "Si Janella kasi,
siya 'yung friend ko na katulad ko, parang ako. Ang dami naming
similarities."
Garcia also went on to explain why they seemed inseparable and appeared to
be very sweet during the finale viewing party of their series earlier this
month.
"Nag-post din ako ng picture para malaman din ng lahat na magkaibigan kami.
Siguro nung last day, kaya parang mukhang may something sa amin, kasi siguro
sobra lang naming mami-miss ang isa't isa," he said.
In the end, Garcia said: "Gusto ko siyang maging kaibigan habang buhay, more
than maging girlfriend."
Garcia and Salvador previously described the formation of their tandem, now
dubbed "Joshnella," as a case of "perfect timing."
The two had been cast in a number of projects together as early as 2016, but
none of them ever made it to the screen - until "The Killer Bride" in August
2019.


PEREZ EMERGES TOP SCORER; FAJARDO REBOUND KING

MILAN - CJ Perez distinguished himself as the first rookie in memory to
clinch the scoring honors, June Mar Fajardo extended his reign as the king
of the boards while Jayson Castro emerged as champ in playmaking in PBA
Season 44.
The top performers in other key departments were Stanley Pringle
(three-point shooting), Sean Anthony (steals) and Poy Erram (blocks).
Perez, the Columbian Dyip super rookie out of Lyceum U, is in contention for
the MVP honors on a stellar showing which he highlighted by topping the
scoring race with an average of 20.8 points per game.
The 6-foot-1 slasher/shooter showed his scoring prowess even with Gilas
Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. In his topnotch rookie year
in the PBA, he beat all comers, becoming another young star to win the
scoring honors after Terrence Romeo from 2015 to 2017 then Pringle in 2018.
Phoenix Pulse gunner Matthew Wright (18.89 ppg), Fajardo (18.87) and Bobby
Ray Parks were close second, third and fourth, followed by Pringle at fifth
(17.0). The next five were RR Pogoy (16.6), Anthony (16.4), Troy Rosario
(15.3), Castro (15.2) then Ian Sangalang (15.1).
Fajardo, meanwhile, easily re-stamped his class as the ruler in the business
of rebounding, with an average of 13.0 per game. A far second was Sangalang
(8.5), followed by Raymond Almazan (8.0), Erram (7.8) and Anthony (7.6).
Castro was the barometer in dishing out assists with 6.1 per outing.
Runners-up were Chris Ross (5.4), Scottie Thompson (5.0), Chris Banchero
(4.89) and Robert Bolick (4.88).
Aside from being right there among the top in scoring and rebounding,
Anthony also marked his rock-solid season with his season-best 2.4 steals
per game, topping former steals champ Ross (2.2).
Then there's the rise of Erram as the sultan of swats with 2.1 per outing,
outperforming Japeth Aguilar (1.6), Fajardo (1.5), Almazan (1.3) and Arwind
Santos (1.2).
The top guns from beyond the arc were Pringle (2.42), Pogoy (2.34), Rashawn
McCarthy (2.3), Wright (2.24), Marcio Lassiter (2.17), LA Tenorio (2.15),
Parks (2.13), Simon Enciso (2.083), Rosario (2.080), Baser Amer (2.07) and
Paul Lee (2.06).
In terms of percentage, the deadliest were Philip Paniamogan (40.8 percent),
Von Pessumal (40.6 percent) and Rey Nambatac (40.2 percent).
The deadliest from the line were Amer (87.5), Tenorio (86.3) and Lee (85.9).
Pringle, Perez and Parks were the most exposed as they all played at least
37 minutes per game.
The most error-prone were Wright (3.4), Fajardo (3.2), McCarthy (3.12),
Moala Tautuaa (3.11) and Perez (3.0).


NBA SCORES JAN 28


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Knicks 13-35    26    24    16    26    92
team logo Hornets 16-31    15    32    21    29    97
SCORING LEADERS
    J. Randle NY
24 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST
    T. Rozier CHA
30 PTS, 10 REB, 1 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Warriors 10-38    27    27    28    22    104
team logo 76ers 31-17    26    33    27    29    115
SCORING LEADERSD. Russell GS
28 PTS, 5 REB, 7 AST
J. Embiid PHI
24 PTS, 10 REB, 1 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Hawks 12-36    23    33    27    31    114
team logo Raptors 33-14    33    35    29    33    130
SCORING LEADERS
    J. Collins ATL
28 PTS, 12 REB, 0 AST
    P. Siakam TOR
24 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Pelicans 19-29    40    34    30    21    125
team logo Cavaliers 13-35    34    31    25    21    111
SCORING LEADERSJ. Holiday NO
28 PTS, 2 REB, 8 AST
C. Sexton CLE
24 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Wizards 15-31    28    35    41    27    131
team logo Bucks 41-6    42    46    29    34    151
SCORING LEADERSB. Beal WAS
47 PTS, 0 REB, 6 AST
K. Middleton MIL
51 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Celtics 31-15    36    17    27    29    109
team logo Heat 32-15    28    20    28    25    101
SCORING LEADERSG. Hayward BOS
29 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST
G. Dragic MIA
23 PTS, 2 REB, 4 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Nuggets 32-15    18    32    16    30    96
team logo Grizzlies 23-24    31    32    19    22    104
SCORING LEADERSN. Jokic DEN
25 PTS, 13 REB, 5 AST
D. Brooks MEM
24 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Suns 20-27    32    28    48    25    133
team logo Mavericks 29-18    19    36    22    27    104
SCORING LEADERSD. Booker PHO
32 PTS, 6 REB, 9 AST
L. Doncic DAL
21 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST

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