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Philippine Azkals Football Team reach highest ever FIFA ranking

Sat, 07/11/2015 - 20:13

Philippine Azkals National Football Team - image:Philstar.com/File

Azkals ascend in FIFA rankings

The Philippine Azkals got on Thursday their highest FIFA rankings so far at 124.

The Azkals that was ranked 137th in the world last month, climbed 13 notches following their success in the joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers.

Consequently, the Philippines remained the No.1 team in the Southeast Asian region and No.17 in the continental rankings. The Azkals will continue their journey to the World Cup on September 8 when they face Uzbekistan in a home game at the Philippine Sports Stadium.

Meanwhile, Newbie Azkal Luke Woodland might be the possible answer to the team’s center back problem according to veteran defender Rob Gier.

“I do see him as a central midfielder in the future but in the meantime having more competition for places in all areas of the team can only be good for the development of the squad,” Gier said on Woodland in an interview with The Manila Times.

Woodland, who is currently searching for a club after being released by long-time team Bolton Wanderers FC, last played for Oldham Athletic FC on a one-month loan agreement with his mother club.

At the young age of 19, Woodland is a seasoned competitor having represented England in youth level international tourneys.

Gier believes that Woodland, standing six-foot tall fits perfectly in the back-line.

“Seeing his size and physique in person, it was obvious that he could also be an asset at the back,” Gier said.

He added that Woodland could also fill-up a defense position.

“Center back has been a position we have struggled to find any real depth so learning that Luke is capable of play there is a big positive,” he said.

Having three natural center backs, Gier, Juani Guirado and Amani Aguinaldo, it is crucial for the Azkals to put a competent man in the center back position.

After being barred to play in the first game against Bahrain because of eligibility issues, Woodland is now cleared to play for the Philippines.

He was part of coach Thomas Dooley’s new 3-5-2 formation used by the Azkals in their second game against Yemen.

“He dealt with the disappointment of missing out on the first game very professionally and produced a solid display against Yemen,” Gier said.  - The Manila Times

Lt. Gen. Iriberri is new Armed Forces of the Philippines chief; Facing Graft charges for ₱97.7 million Php Contract

Sat, 07/11/2015 - 18:41

In his speech during the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo, Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri said he will pursue a "straight and true" path. - image:CNN Philippines

Lt. Gen. Iriberri is new AFP chief

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri is the new chief of the Armed Forces. He is the 46th to assume the position.

On Friday morning (July 10), Iriberri gave a speech at the change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo where he vowed to follow "the path that is straight and true" — a reference to the Aquino administration's "Tuwid na Daan" campaign against corruption.

In his speech, he also expressed his acceptance of the responsibilities as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"Mga mahal kong kababayan, buong pagpapakumbaba ko pong tinatanggap ang hamon at buong puso ko pong gagampanan ang aking katungkulan."

[Translation: My beloved countrymen, I humbly accept the challenges and will wholeheartedly perform my tasks as the AFP chief.]

He also vowed to win and secure peace in the country with his own brand of leadership.

"I only have one principle of leadership. To be a good leader, one must know how to understand people and the situation. To our countrymen, I am all yours to serve."

During the ceremony, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the newly appointed AFP chief to continue the reforms implemented by former AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr.

He also ordered Iriberri to ensure a peaceful and clean elections in 2016.

Gazmin aide

A Surigao del Sur​ native, Iriberri was the former Army chief, and before that, was the chief of the 7th Infantry Division, based in Nueva Ecija.

He was commissioned in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). He was part of the PMA Matikas Class of 1983.

Iriberri served as the Army spokesman in 2000 when Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was its commanding general. When Gazmin was appointed as the Defense secretary, he served as the cabinet secretary's most senior aide.

Gazmin is believed to be highly influential in military appointments in the Aquino administration.

Graft charges

The new AFP chief, however, is facing graft charges before the Ombudsman for the alleged failure to issue documents involving three contracts worth ₱97.7 million Php. This resulted in the shelving of contracts won by Joavi Philippines.

The contracts were for ammunition delivery in 2010 and 2012. But Iriberri said he is ready to answer the charges. - CNN Philippines' David Santos  and Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.

Philippines sets up innovation center- A new Silicon Valley in Asia

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 21:51

Philippines sets up innovation center, takes a page from Singapore, Malaysia

The Philippines has announced a plan to build a national innovation center – taking cue from Silicon Valley in the US, Block 71 in Singapore, and MaGIC in Malaysia.

Government agencies, including the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), are collaborating with startup accelerator IdeaSpace for this effort.

With initial funding of ₱30 million Php (US$665,000) from the government and counterpart funding of up to ₱15 million Php (US$332,000) from private sector and academe, the innovation center will have two locations – both of which will be near the country's premier universities.

"When we founded IdeaSpace in 2012, we wanted to find the next big innovative idea and create a startup ecosystem that embodies the Silicon Valley-mindset of using technology and science to create massive change in the world," said Earl Martin Valencia, president and co-founder at IdeaSpace.

"Now, we realize the dream to create Philippines' own innovation hub with our initial collaboration with the government and the academe where startups and high-potential research can get the support they need in order to grow and thrive," Valencia added.

The Philippine innovation center will foster technology advancement and startup ecosystem growth. Valencia said the hubs will be set up near key academic institutions to imbibe the spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking among students, to tap into a wellspring of engineering and technology talent from these universities, as well as to address the growing interest of students in founding their own startups.

Calling on more partners

The center will also serve as a venue for government agencies and academic institutions to promote products, facilitate transfer of their R&D results, and establish connections with the investment community.

"It has always been DOST's thrust to support technology transfer of R&D output, either through commercialization or deployment for public good. The innovation center, we believe, will be a critical and effective agent in delivering R&D results to the people," DOST undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said.

DTI undersecretary Nora Terrado added: "The DTI strongly supports entrepreneurship and innovation in the Philippines to realize economic growth that is truly inclusive. Tech startups present a growing spectrum of opportunities for Filipinos to compete in the international stage as they create new solutions to pressing social and environmental problems. In the process, this will spur economic activities resulting from the value and employment generated."

Valencia notes the initiatives represents the Philippines' first ever public-private partnership that focuses on innovation and aims to improve the country's position in the global digital economy. "We can't do it alone, so we're calling on more partners… to help us push this initiative forward."

The creation of the innovation hub will be a critical component in boosting the Philippines' ranking in the Digital Evolution Index (DEI), which ranks countries in terms of their readiness for the quickly expanding digital economy.

The Philippines is one of the so-called "break-out" nations in the recent global DEI study conducted by the US-based Fletcher School at Tufts University, using data from 2008 to 2013. The country stands alongside China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam as one of the "rapidly advancing countries" in the global digital topography.

What do you think of the Philippines' plan to build its own innovation hub? Will it take off? What are the challenges? And what lessons can the Philippines learn from neighbors Singapore and Malaysia? Feel free to share your thoughts. Editing by Malavika Velayanikal and Terence Lee - TECHINASIA

China stock loses $3.2 trillion US Dollars in weeks; Suicide rumor -Economy facing trouble

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 14:50

A stock investor looks up in a brokerage house in Shanghai. Chinese authorities have launched frantic efforts to shore up plunging stock prices following another 5.7 per cent decline in the country's main market index on Friday. Source: AP

Chinese chaos worse than Greece: Chinese stock market loses $3.2 trillion, authorities inject cash

WHILE the world worries about Greece, there’s an even bigger problem closer to home: China.

A stock market crash there has seen $3.2 trillion wiped from the value of Chinese shares in just three weeks, triggering an emergency response from the government and warnings of “monstrous” public disorder.

And the effects for Australia could be serious, affecting our key commodity exports and sparking the beginning of a period of recession-like conditions.

“State-owned newspapers have used their strongest language yet, telling people ‘not to lose their minds’ and ‘not to bury themselves in horror and anxiety’. [Our] positive measures will take time to produce results,” writes IG Markets.

“If China does not find support today, the disorder could be monstrous.”

In an extraordinary move, the People’s Bank of China has begun lending money to investors to buy shares in the flailing market. The Wall Street Journal reports this “liquidity assistance” will be provided to the regulator-owned China Securities Finance Corp, which will lend the money to brokerages, which will in turn lend to investors.

The dramatic intervention marks the first time funds from the central bank have been directed anywhere other than the banks, signaling serious concern from authorities about the crisis.

At the same time, Chinese authorities are putting a halt to any new stock listings. The market regulator announced on Friday it would limit initial public offerings — which disrupt the rest of the market — in an attempt to curb plunging share prices.

While the exact amount of assistance hasn’t been revealed, the WSJ reports no upper limit has been set.

All short-selling — the practice of betting that stocks will fall — has been banned, and Chinese media has rushed to reassure citizens.

Yesterday, shares in big state companies soared in response to the but many others sank as jittery small investors tried to cut their losses, Associated Press reports. The market benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up 2.4 percent but still was down 27 percent from its June 12 peak.

Experts fear it could turn into a full-blown crash introducing even more uncertainty into global markets as Europe teeters on the edge of a potential euro zone exit by Greece, after Sunday’s controversial referendum.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR AUSTRALIA?

For Australia, the market crash in China is likely to impact earnings on key exports iron ore and coal, further slashing government revenue, while also putting downward pressure on the Australian dollar.

Jordan Eliseo, chief economist with ABC Bullion, said it was important to remember that the amount of wealth Chinese citizens have tied up in the stock market is relatively minor compared with western investors.

Stocks only make up about 8 per cent of household wealth in China, compared with around 20 per cent in developed nations.

“The market crash there is generating headlines, but it’s not going to have the same impact as a comparable crash would in a developed market,” he said.

“What it means for Australia, though, is it’s very clear there are some serious imbalances in the Chinese economy, and the rate of growth they’ve enjoyed in the past is over. There’s no question our export earnings are going to take another hit.”

Mr Eliseo predicts Australia is likely to experience “recession-like” conditions such as negative wage growth for many years to come. “I believe that’s going to be the new norm,” he said.

CRACKDOWN AS PANIC TRIGGERS ‘SUICIDE’ RUMOURS

Underscoring growing jitters amid the three-week sell-off, police in Beijing detained a man on Sunday for allegedly spreading a rumor online that a person jumped to their death in the city’s financial district due to China’s precarious stock markets.

The 29-year-old man detained was identified by the surname Tian, and is a manager at a technology and science company in Beijing, police said in a post on their official microblog.

Police said Tian’s alleged posting of the rumor took place Friday and called on internet users to obey laws and regulations, not to believe and spread rumors, and to cooperate with police.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that Tian allegedly posted the rumors with video clips and screenshots Friday afternoon.

The post, which is said to have gone viral, “provoked emotional responses among stock investors who suffered losses over the past weeks”, Xinhua said.

Xinhua added that a police investigation showed that the video in question had been shot on Friday morning in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu where a man had jumped to his death. Local police there were investigating that case, Xinhua said.

The original post was unavailable Sunday on China’s tightly controlled social media, where authorities are quick to delete controversial material. - Jews News /  News.com.au

Swimming at the Airport? First Resort Airport in the World Kicks off in Cebu Philippines

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 18:38
Mactan-Cebu touted to be first of several world-class airports

PH breaks ground for world’s first resort airport

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) marks another milestone as it breaks ground for the world’s first resort airport – and the Aquino Administration’s first airport public-private partnership (PPP) project – on June 29.

“The kick-off ceremony for the construction of the new international terminal for the country’s second-biggest gateway, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), is touted to be the start of Philippine airports matching the best in the world,” said DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya.

“It will not only cement our place on the global map as a major tourist and business destination, it will boost the local economy and is projected to generate jobs especially in Cebu,” he added.

The project, which is envisioned by concessionaire GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) to be regarded as the first resort airport in the world, covers the construction of a new world-class international passenger terminal building (PTB), as well as the renovation of the existing PTB and its conversion into an exclusively-domestic facility.

Construction of the new terminal will be completed in three (3) years, or by 2018, while the renovation of the existing terminal is slated to be completed in 2019. The airport’s passenger capacity will surge from 4.5 million to 12.5 million per year.

GMCAC won the auction for the 25-year PPP contract last year, after offering the government a premium bid of P 14.4 billion. Operations and maintenance (O&M) of the airport was turned over to the consortium in November 2015.

‘Soft Improvements’ implemented since last year

Immediately upon assuming O&M responsibility, GMCAC began implementing ‘soft improvements’ to the existing terminal, or those improvements which did not require major civil works, to enhance passenger experience at the gateway.

For instance, a centralized security check (CSC) system was opened earlier this month to speed up the processing time for departing guests. It features four (4) X-ray machines that can be used interchangeably, which then doubles the capacity of the final check-in counters.

To further reduce passenger queues, GMCAC also opened additional immigration counters and self-service kiosks wherein passengers can pre-check-in.

Other ‘soft improvements’ included the installation of LED bulbs for brighter lighting; the optimized use of floor space, which included transferring certain offices in exchange for more check-in counters and waiting areas; redesigning seating patterns to increase usage by passengers; and now, offering self-service check-in kiosks for faster processing.

“It is clear to us that GMCAC brings international expertise into running an airport, immediately it has already made substantial improvements without making structural works yet. What it will do now that we are breaking ground is exciting for us, and especially for travelers to and from Cebu,” Abaya remarked. - dotc.gov.ph

2 of 12 FA-50 Fighter jets delivered - now flying with Philippine Air Force

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 18:42

Philippines Receives Two F-50s From Korea

Two of the 12 FA-50 fighters of the ₱18.9 billion Php contract signed by President Benigno C. Aquino III in South Korea on March 28, 2014 has been received by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) ahead of schedule in December 2015. "FA-50PH's maiden flight took place on 19 June after the Philippines has signed a contract

Two of the 12 FA-50 fighters of the ₱18.9 Php billion contract signed by President Benigno C. Aquino III in South Korea on March 28, 2014 has been received by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) ahead of schedule in December 2015.

"FA-50PH's maiden flight took place on 19 June after the Philippines has signed a contract for 12 KAI FA-50 fighter aircraft in March last year," South Korea's Korean Aerospace Industry said

The FA-50 is an armed variant of the T-50 advanced jet trainer, which KAI jointly developed with Lockheed Martin. Other variants include the TA-50, a lightly armed variant of the original aircraft, and the T-50B, which is optimized as a performance aircraft. The T-50B is operational with South Korea's display team, the Black Eagles

High timer PAF pilots were selected to train using the FA-50 fighters in South Korea. These pilots will then become the instructor pilots to train the other pilots in army. The new FA-50s have a more advanced weaponry system than what the country has in present, which are 'ancient' planes like Nomad which can do only 8-9 hour round trips, as Pres. Aquino told reporters in Busan, South Korea. It could load up to 4.5 tons of weapons and has a wide-range of mobilization system. FA-50 has also, 20 mm three-barrel gun that can fire at extremely high rate internally installed. FA-50 can be fitted with AIM-9 Sidewinder, a short-range air-to-air missile; AGM-65, an air-to-surface missile designed for close-air support missions; cluster bombs and rocket launchers. KAI assured that by 2017 the procurement will be complete. - Manila Channel and Flight Global

 

 

Philippines confirmed joining the 40% world trade through Trans-Pacific Partnership

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 16:40

Trans-Pacific Partnership Map- image: humanosphere.org

Confirmed: Philippines Wants to Join TPP

The Philippines is committed to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the country’s trade chief confirmed Wednesday morning in the clearest declaration made to date on the issue.

“I want to state clearly and irrevocably that we want to join TPP,” Philippine trade secretary Gregory Domingo told a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

Domingo’s statements come after what some perceived as ambiguity in recent months about the Philippine position regarding the U.S.-led agreement, whose members currently represent more than half of global output and over 40 percent of world trade. Reports in late March had suggested that Manila would not take part in TPP negotiations under the current government due to legal and constitutional complications which imposed significant time constraints. Some had interpreted this to mean a general unwillingness of the Philippines to commit to the pact at all.

But with the confirmation in his remarks Tuesday – the clearest yet by a Philippine official – Domingo sought to assuage any doubts in Washington that he said may have been caused by a “mistranslation” of comments by Philippine officials. Domingo also reiterated that Philippine officials – including President Benigno Aquino III himself – had on several previous occasions over the past few years expressed interest in joining the TPP.

Domingo acknowledged that Manila’s willingness to join the TPP did not make confronting existing challenges to doing so any easier. As is the case for several current and potential TPP negotiating parties, there are concerns on a number of sensitive issues for the Philippines, including state-owned enterprises. Philippine officials including Domingo had previously requested “flexibility” on these matters.

Joining the TPP may also require the Philippines to amend its constitution, which currently has restrictions on foreign ownership in certain sectors. Yet Domingo acknowledged that there were not enough votes right now in the Philippine legislature to do so, even if there was a possibility that it might get to try later this year ahead of presidential elections in 2016 and the end of Aquino’s five-year term in office.

“When it comes to constitutional amendments, it is very difficult to make a prediction,” he admitted.

Nonetheless, Domingo said that it was critical for the Philippines to negotiate some kind of bilateral economic agreement with its ally the United States, which has traditionally been among Manila’s top trading partners and its largest investor. The TPP would provide an avenue for this to occur, he said.

“It behooves the Philippines to have an agreement with the United States one way or another,” he said.

Though the Philippines’ only bilateral agreement of this kind is currently with Japan, Domingo said Manila is currently pursuing a free trade agreement with the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. He added that the Philippines had also been approached by six other countries for bilateral agreements as well.

Meanwhile, as The Diplomat previously reported, the TPP has inched forward on Capitol Hill in recent days after a period of stalling, even though there is still a long way to go. The Senate got the necessary votes to move to a standalone vote on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) earlier this week, days after the House had passed a similar vote on its side. TPA or “fast-track” is viewed as critical to passing TPP since it ensures Congress can only have an up-or-down vote on the pact, rather than opening up and amending specific provisions, which could delay or kill the deal.

Once the TPP is finalized among the existing 12 members, U.S. officials have stressed that the agreement remains “open” to other countries once they meet the standards, including China.

The TPP currently groups the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. - Diplomat

Philippine President Slams Beijing for Acting like Nazis in the South China Sea

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 23:54

Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in the Japanese parliament during his visit to Tokyo on June 3, 2015. - Kazuhiro Nogi — AFP/Getty Images

This isn't the first time he’s compared the Chinese leadership to the Third Reich

Philippine President Benigno Aquino refused to pull his punches in Tokyo on Wednesday when he compared Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea to Nazi Germany’s demands for Czech territory in the 1930s.

During a speech to business leaders in the Japanese capital, Aquino blasted the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing claim to a majority of the potentially resource-rich waters of the South China Sea.

“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of… how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers,” said Aquino, in an apparent reference to the Nazis’ territorial conquests in Europe during the run up to World War II, according to Agence France-Presse.

Aquino’s remarks echo similar sentiments made during an interview with the New York Times last year when he also made comparisons between Beijing’s maritime maneuvers now with Nazi Germany’s actions in the late 1930s.

At the time, Chinese state media outlets lambasted the comparison and said the president was an “amateurish politician who was ignorant both of history and reality.”  - TIME

Malaysia summons Philippines, Sultanate of Sulu claimed Sabah. Bangsamoro betrayed Philippines for Malaysia

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:38

(North Borneo) Sabah is ours, Malaysia tells the Philippines - Image from Malaysiakini.com

Malaysia summons Philippine Charge d' Affaires over claims on Sabah

Malaysia summons Philippine Charge d' Affaires over claims on Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 (Xinhua)-- Malaysian Foreign Ministry summoned the Philippine Charge d'Affaires on May 19 over recent remarks made by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III on the Philippines'claim on Sabah, according to a statement of Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman on Sunday.

It said that Medardo G. Macaraig, the Philippine Charge d' Affaires, was summoned on May 19 over Aquino's remarks on the Philippines'claim on Sabah in an interview with Philippines journalist Raissa on May 15.

During the interview, Aquino said that he would not drop the Philippine claim to Sabah. "The government of Malaysia reiterates its position that Malaysia does not recognize and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah,"Anifah said in the statement, adding that Sabah is recognized by the UN and international community as part of Malaysia since Sept. 16, 1963.

The Philippines has made a territorial claim over the eastern part of Sabah, claiming that the territory, via the heritage of the Sultanate of Sulu, was only leased to the North Borneo Chartered Company in 1878 with the Sultanate's sovereignty never being relinquished.

The question was posed to Aquino amid growing speculation that Manila would drop the Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for a Bangsamoro government in southern Philippines.

Bangsamoro promised to Malaysia not to claim Sabah North Borneo but to support and strengthen Malaysia's position over Sabah in return for their support on the ongoing Bangsamoro sub state negotiation with the Manila government.

Malaysia, however, considers this dispute as a"non-issue,"as it interprets the 1878 agreement as that of cession and it deems that the residents of Sabah had exercised their right to self- determination when they joined to form the Malaysian federation in 1963. -  with sources from Global Post and Xinhua News Agency

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