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Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew died at 91, World leaders pay Tributes

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:29

Lee Kuan Yew- dies at 91-

Singapore founder Lee Kuan Yew dead at 91

Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world’s richest nations, died Monday. He was 91.

Lee was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb. 5 for pneumonia and was later put on life support. The prime minister’s office said he “passed away peacefully.”

Lee guided Singapore through a traumatic split with Malaysia in 1965 and helped transform the sleepy port city into a global trade and finance center. He stepped down in 1990.

President Obama called Lee a “visionary” and “true giant of history.”

IMF, World Bank chiefs send condolences

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a visionary statesman whose wisdom and leadership will be remembered by people all around the globe.

"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, Founding Father of Singapore. He was a visionary statesman whose uncompromising stand for meritocracy, efficiency and education transformed Singapore into one of the most prosperous nations in the world,'' said Ms Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director.

"His wisdom and leadership will be remembered by people all around the globe.

"On behalf of the International Monetary Fund, I extend our condolences to his family and the people of Singapore," she said in a statement.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim also extended his "sincere condolences" to the people of Singapore and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death.

"We will be forever grateful to the former Prime Minister for his role as a pioneer of development and the architect of modern Singapore. We were privileged to have had a close working relationship with him over several decades.

"The late Prime Minister is recognized around the world for transforming Singapore in a short time from an undeveloped nation to one of the most successful high-income countries in the world. He showed that a city-state with few natural resources could rapidly evolve into a global trading hub and financial powerhouse through education, integrated planning, and a highly trained civil service. He tackled corruption relentlessly and held public servants to the highest standards. Most importantly, he showed that economic development could provide opportunities and improve the lives of a country’s citizens," the statement from Mr Kim read.

Mr Lee, who was Singapore's first elected prime minister, died on Monday aged 91.

World leaders pay tributes to Lee Kuan Yew

A man reads tributes to Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, at the Singapore General Hospital on Monday. Lee died on Monday aged 91, triggering a flood of tributes to the man who oversaw the tiny city-state's rapid rise from a British colonial backwater to a global trade and financial center.- Reuters

MARCH 23:  World leaders expressed their condolences and paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, who died on Monday aged 91.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

"A far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life teaches valuable lessons to everyone. News of his demise is saddening."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

"Hillary and I mourn the passing of Lee Kuan Yew. Prime Minister Lee transformed Singapore into one of the world's strongest and most sustainable economies. He also firmly established his country as an important friend and partner of the United States.

"After leaving office, he continued to offer brilliant analysis and wise advice to those who sought it. We will always be grateful for our fascinating conversations with him over the years. Our thoughts are with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his entire family, and all the people of Singapore."

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden

"Lee was a visionary leader who spearheaded Singapore's economic growth and helped it become one of the most prosperous countries in the world today. He understood the importance of economic integration and effective governance to building a thriving, modern economy. He was a pragmatist, and sometimes uncompromising. But his commitment to delivering excellence in public service was exemplary."

Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou

"Lee was a solid friend to the Republic of China and played a key leadership role in promoting the development of bilateral relations.

"Lee was a visionary and world-class leader. Under his leadership, Singapore, in just 50 years, has developed into an important trade hub in Asia with impressive economic strength.

"Lee led an unpretentious life. His self discipline was very strict."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

"The late former PM is a close friend of Indonesia, known as the founder of modern Singapore. A great leader and statesman who loves his people, he is also known as an influential political figure in Asia.

"Under his leadership, Singapore has transformed itself to be the main economic hub in Asia and brought itself to par with the other developed countries."

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

"I pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's determination in developing Singapore from a new nation to the modern and dynamic city we see today. His achievements were great, and his legacy is assured."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

"Today, we mourn the passing of a giant of our region. Fifty years ago, Lee Kuan Yew led a vulnerable, fledgling nation to independence. Today, thanks to his vision and determination, Singapore is one of the world's most successful countries.

"In Lee Kuan Yew's own words, Singapore's remarkable journey has been from 'third world to first'.

"Thanks to his leadership, Singapore is now one of the world's most prosperous nations, a financial powerhouse, and one of the world's easiest places to do business.

"Our region owes much to Lee Kuan Yew. Here in Australia and beyond, leaders sought and learned from his wise counsel."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

"As the founding father of Singapore, who helped to create the foundations of the prosperity that Singapore enjoys today, he was one of Asia's great leaders.

"I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family and also my deepest sympathies to the citizens of Singapore."

Philippine President Aquino extends solidarity with Singapore, pays tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has extended the Filipino people's "solidarity with Singapore at this time of mourning", as he honoured Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has extended the Filipino people's "solidarity with Singapore at this time of mourning", as he honoured Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

"An era has passed, one upon which Singaporeans can look back on with deep pride and a sense of accomplishment," said Mr Aquino.

"Throughout his long life, as prime minister and senior minister, Mr Lee demonstrated an unswerving devotion to his country, turning it into a statement that would be an exemplar of efficient, modern and honest governance," he said.

He added: "The development of Singapore has earned it the respect of nations and peoples, including the tens of thousands of Filipinos who work there and visit the country."

Mr Aquino also extended his personal condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Philippine military consultant and defence analyst Jose Antonio Custodio said: "With Lee Kuan Yew's passing, Filipinos have one less statesman who frankly pointed out what exactly ails the Philippines."

A Philippine Foreign Ministry statement said: "The Philippines joins the Singaporean people in mourning the passing of their first Prime Minister and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world. His fortitude, political will and wisdom will continue to be an inspiration in the years to come."

In Manila, Singapore Philippine Association head Peter Tay said Mr Lee’s “transformative role and leadership in making Singapore the innovation capital that we all know today is immeasurable”.

“Mr Lee’s presence will be clearly missed,” added Mr Tay.

Sources:  NY Daily, Straitstimes, Hindu Business line,

Manila Fashion Festival Day 3: Of post-punk poetry, bird migration, and love

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 19:47

Heart Evangelista-Escudero presents a gown by Mark Bumgarner during the third night of Manila Fashion Festival, March 21, 2015. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,

On the third night of Manila Fashion Festival fall/winter 2015 show, Art Personas’ CEO Ronnie Cruz shared that the biannual event is all about “selling, vision, and inspiration.”

“Manila Fashion Festival is all about the business of fashion; the vision of creating possibilities and where MFF would be; and about inspiration,” Cruz said in a welcome remark.

Big names in the fashion industry including Rhett Eala who is celebrating his 25 years in the fashion industry, Cheetah Rivera, Pablo Cabahug, Mark Bumgarner, and Art Personas’ ARIN conquered the runway on the third day of the fashion event.

Beauty queen Ariella Arida and actress-host Heart Evangelista-Escudero also struted the runway for Arin and Mark Bumgarner respectively.

Eclectic themes

The designers took inspiration from different themes, and Rhett Eala warmed up the stage; showing his collection entitled Post-punk Poet that was “inspired by the music of Jay Z and Lauryn Hill, the cultural styling featured in Osaka and London, as well as the essence of the tribes of punks and Mongols.”

Composed of tops, pants, sweatshirts, and dresses for men and women, with a fusion of ethnic, athletic, and sporty shapes, Eala used neutral colors of black, white, and gray accentuated with a pop of chartreuse. Detailed hand embroidery as well as metallic embellishments can also be noticed on Eala’s pieces.

A model presents Rhett Eala’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection for men on the third day of Manila Fashion Festival, March 21, 2015. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,

From punk, Cheetah Rivera took the audience in an adventure with nature with her collection she calle Aviona.

Inspired by the “great migration of long distance wandering birds,” Rivera’s Aviona featured gowns and dresses with  detailed embroideries of colorful birds in flight. Neutral colors of white, black, nudes, navy blue,and  indigo were accentuated with embroideries of birds in loud colors of pink, red, and orange.

Art Personas’ ARIN also explored on the punk movement with the collection entitled Pretty Vacant. Mostly for women, ARIN’s collection “embodies rawnes and edge, inspired by the diverse era of the punk movement.” Mostly ready-to-wear pieces for women that are sporty and boyish, the collection are casual wears that were made for the dynamic individuals who want comfortable wear.

The collection, some in patterned fabrics, were composed of tops, pants, coats, and dresses, which were moslty in colors of red, white, and black.

Sporty met class in Cabahug’s collection he called Sporty Luxe. Exploring on the sporty look, Pablo Cabahug’s pieces were inspired “by sporty silhouttes, of shapes that embody luxury and freshness.”

For men and women, Cabahugs pieces were composed of jackets, dresses, pants, tops, and skirts that were mostly in neutral colors of black, white, and nude.

‘Sporty meets class; in Pablo Cabahug’s pieces for men and women. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,

Closing the show was Mark Bumgarner who showed his collection he called as L’Amour. His pieces “explored romantic silhouttes,” and was “inspired by the essence of love.”

Mostly in pastels and red, the long gowns used luxurious fabrics that were cut in intricate shapes, which created movement and fluid effect.

With the palette used, and details such as floral embellishments and beadworks, Bumgarner’s works are very feminine and fits a princess-look.

Today, Sunday, the festival culminates its Fall/Winter 2015 presentation with the collations of Banggo Niu, Esme Palaganas, Tony Evan, and Bea Samson at 5 p.m. Then, at 7 p.m., Mark Tamayo, Sassa Jimenez, Ziggy Savella, Vania Romoff, and Jaz Cerezo present the last collations of Manila Fashion Festival Fall/Winter 2015. -

Resorts World owner doubled net profit for ₱63.9 billion in 2014

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 19:19

Resort World Manila - image:

Resorts World owner doubled net profit in '14

Resorts World Manila (RWM) owner and operator Travelers International Hotel Group Inc. doubled its net profit last year to ₱5.45 billion mainly by keeping a tight lid on expenses.

Travellers, a partnership between the group of property tycoon Andrew Tan and the Genting group of Malaysia, disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange that for 2014, it "focused on delivering quality earnings to shareholders by channeling efforts to the growing core businesses and markets, while achieving operational efficiencies."

Gross revenue for the year amounted to ₱31.6 billion, or about 5 percent lower than the previous year due to the same pace of drop in gaming revenues to ₱28.38 billion. Nongaming businesses such as from hotel as well as food and beverage contributed ₱2.26 billion compared to the previous year's ₱2.5 billion.

In the gaming segment, Travelers reported growth in volume in all segments except in the VIP (very important person) or high-roller segment. Blended "win rate" showed a recovery and improved in the second half compared to the first half, the disclosure said. A casino's "win" or "hold" rate is based on the element of luck but is also affected by the spread of table limits, a player's skill and resources and amount of time spent in the casino.

Travelers deployed an average 291 gaming tables, 1,837 slot machines and 210 electronic table game (ETG) machines last year.

On the nongaming business, Travelers reported that the three hotels in Newport City had a higher average occupancy rate of 89 percent last year compared to 71 percent in 2013. Revenues from hotel, food, beverage and other operating income summed up to ₱3.19 billion. The company said it continued to make full use of its facilities to drive gaming patronage.

"Creating shareholder value was our main objective for 2014, which we achieved through quality earnings and operating efficiencies," said Travelers president Kingson Sian.

General and administrative expenses were contained at ₱11.9 billion compared to ₱14.12 billion in the previous year.

Total assets increased to ₱63.9 billion from ₱61.2 billion while total liabilities declined to P24.8 billion from ₱27.8 billion. The company remained on a net cash position of ₱4.4 billion as of the end of 2014.

Last year, Travelers spent ₱5.9 billion for the ongoing phase 2 and 3 projects of Resorts World Manila. The Marriott Grand Ballroom is set to formally open in July this year while the Marriott West Wing, which will add 227 room keys, is due for delivery by the end of 2015. Phase 3 complex is slated for turnover by the end of 2017 as planned. - INQUIRER

Rain or Shine holds off Kia, locks top spot

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 19:04

PJ Ramos of KIA (light) vs Paul Lee and JR Quinahan of Rain or Shine (dark). PBA IMAGE by Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine survived Kia, 119-99, to clinch the top spot in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Import Wayne Chism had it going from the outside going 6-of-12 from long range to finish with 28 points that went with 12 rebounds to lead the Elasto Painters, whose 27-point lead was cut to eight before regrouping.

“We had problems all night long with the size and the strength and the power of PJ Ramos,” said ROS head coach Yeng Guiao. “But I guess we were able to limit the contributions of their locals that’s why we were able to put up a good lead and protect that lead.”

“The objective really is if he (Ramos) is going to make the points, let’s control the output of their locals and we were able to do that,” added Guiao.

PJ Ramos nearly scored half of the Carnival’s output with 45 points while shooting 59% from the field on top of 21 rebounds in another dominating performance but his teammates combined to shoot for only 23-of-59.

Raymond Almazan came up big for the Painters with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds in less than 20 minutes of action. Paul Lee added 14 points, five rebounds and six assists.

The last time Rain or Shine, which locked up the No.1 spot at 8-3 due to superior quotient, finished atop the standings at the end of the elimination round it won the 2012 Governors’ Cup.

“If it’s a good sign for us, we’ll take motivation from that and treat it exactly what it is – a positive sign. That’s also going to give us encouragement going into our preparations,” Guiao said.

Kia came to within eight, 96-88, on a tough turn around by Reil Cervantes with still 8:33 left after trailing by 27, 71-44, late in the second quarter.

But Ryan Araña hit a corner three and after a jumper by Ramos, Almazan scored eight straight points in one minute to restore order, 104-90, with 6:16 remaining. - Inquirer

Aquino blames "political enemies" for spreading rumours about his health

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 18:54

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III - image source:

Says anyone can see if he has stitches on his head

Manila: President Benigno Aquino blamed “political enemies” for spreading false rumours that he fainted and was unconscious until doctors gave him oxygen at the presidential palace last Friday, adding that he was out of town last Friday and remained active on Saturday.

“I am not new in politics. I’m torn between responding (or not) to people who started it. I admit I could not stop those who wish me ill. They have already prepared permutations of the false stories that they have started to spin against me,” said Aquino, but did not give more details.

“I started looking for the basis of these rumours, which I might have missed, but I never saw one,” said Aquino, adding, “I don’t think I was faltering in raising the flag and doing other things during the commemoration of the opening of Emilio Aguinaldo Museum in Kawit, Cavite last Friday.”

“Because of my short hair, anyone can see if I have stitches (on my head or nape after I allegedly collapsed last Friday). Touch my head, it has no hematoma,” Aquino said.

Noting what he would do next to defend himself, Aquino said, “My mother once said we should pray for people who think that way [against other people].” He added, “In contrast, those who trust me have open eyes, ears, and mind (and would not malign me with rumours).”

After he cancelled a short-notice press conference with beat reports after lunch of Saturday, Aquino said he was at the firing range in Malacañang on the same day.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alacal were with him at the firing range, he said, adding they all had dinner at Gloria Maris, a restaurant at the Gateway Mall of Araneta Centre in Cubao, suburban Quezon City on Saturday evening.

Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda also sent text messages asking about these allegations, Aquino admitted. Reporters quoted Lacierda and deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte’s who were asked about the president’s state of health.

Aquino allegedly passed out and was nearly unconscious after a bout of heavy cough. Doctors gave him oxygen at the House of Dreams, his official residence in Malacanang, the presidential palace.

Since he was elected in 2010, Aquino never gave up heavy smoking.

The Philippine Constitution calls for daily issuance of the president’s medical record once he gets seriously ill.

The vice-president takes over the post of an incapacitated president.- Gulf News

Meet the FOX star who made Mayweather-Pacquiao bout a reality

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 17:28

Gabriel Salvador - Bjoern Kommerell

Gabriel Salvador may or may not win an Emmy for his recurring role on the FOX television series “Bones.” But the Bronx native will receive an award of sorts when he sits ringside at the May 2 mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Salvador will be seated next to Leslie Moonves, the CEO of CBS/Showtime, as gratitude for Salvador’s role in making the long-anticipated bout a reality. It was Salvador, a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School in the north Bronx, who brokered the initial meeting between Moonves and Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. That meeting provided the spark that ultimately led to an agreement for a fight five years in the making.

“Les deserves every bit of the credit for making things happen,” Salvador told The Post. “But I’m very delighted about my little part in helping this match get set up. Everybody talked about how it couldn’t get done. But I actually helped get it started, and that’s what I’m very proud of.”

Here’s how the confessed “New Yorker through and through” got things going, beginning with his son, Elijah Rueda, who is a senior at Brooklyn Tech and trains at Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club while visiting his father in Los Angeles.

“Every time Elijah would go to the gym, I’d stand off to the side and watch my son train,” Salvador said. “Every now and then I’d say to Freddie, ‘You’ve got to make this [Mayweather-Pacquiao] fight happen.’ Freddie would say, ‘It’s out of my hands. There’s not much I can do.’ I told Freddie that one day, ‘I’m going to have an opportunity to set something up, and when I have that opportunity, I need you to trust me.’ ”

Salvador supplements his established acting career by working as a waiter at the popular Craig’s Restaurant in West Hollywood, where Moonves frequently dines. His idea was to get Roach and Moonves together to “open the lines of communication,” knowing Mayweather was under an exclusive contract to Showtime and Roach had the ear of the Pacquiao camp.

“When Les would come in the restaurant, he’d sit at my table, and we would talk about boxing,” said Salvador, who calls Felix “Tito” Trinidad his favorite fighter. “I thought if we’re ever going to get the [Mayweather-Pacquiao] fight done, we need somebody to facilitate all the parties and put them in communication with each other. I thought what better person to do this than Mr. Moonves. I said to Les, ‘Why don’t we set up something where you can sit down with Freddie Roach. We’ll just sit down … and see what happens.’ ”

That was May 2014. A few weeks later, Roach, Moonves and Salvador met for drinks at the Montage in Beverly Hills. Roach had sparkling water. Moonves had Ketel One Orange on the rocks.

“We started talking about legacy,” Salvador said. “That’s how we started the conversation. What’s going to be the legacy of Manny Pacquiao? What’s going to be the legacy of Mayweather? And what’s going to be the legacy of Freddie Roach?”

After that initial meeting, Roach arranged a sit-down between Moonves and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, with whom he previously wasn’t on speaking terms. Moonves then brokered a meeting with Arum and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon. That got HBO, which has rights to Pacquiao, talking with Showtime execs, which ultimately led to the fight being announced last February.

“I knew the only way this would happen is if people were in communication with each other and not talking bad about each other,” Salvador said. “I like to put people together. When they say, ‘It can’t be done,’ I like to try to find a way to get things done.”

Salvador’s acting skills will be on display April 9 and May 7 when he plays Alex Rockwell in “Bones.”

“It’s a great role they literally wrote for me,” said Salvador, who studied at Cornell before moving to Los Angeles. “It’s a guy who has a troubled past and is trying to make good on his life, but has his past catch up to him. It’s a role

I’m really proud of.”

He’s also proud of his role in making Mayweather-Pacquiao happen. - NYP

Philippines will buy additional 24 new Combat Aircrafts making 36; additional for 12 FA-50

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 11:59

Eurofighter Typhoon (European Union)

Phl to buy 24 more combat aircraft from South Korea

WASHINGTON – The Philippines is planning to purchase 24 more combat aircraft, adding to the 12 FA-50 fighter jets it had ordered from South Korea in 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

It did not specify when or from whom the aircraft would be ordered.

The FA-50s were the first order by the Philippines for advanced combat aircraft in decades amid the increasing tensions with China over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The SIPRI report from Stockholm on Monday said the five biggest weapons exporters in 2010-14 were the United States, Russia, China, Germany and France, and the five biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

The top five exporters were responsible for almost 74 percent of all arms exports.

The report said many states in Southeast Asia significantly modernized and expanded their fleets of combat aircraft in 2010-2014.

Singapore received 32 F-15E jets from the United States in 2010-14 and in 2014 ordered six A330 tanker aircraft from Spain.

Vietnam received 24 Su-30 fighter jets from Russia and eight more are on order.

Indonesia received three Su-27 and six Su-30 aircraft from Russia, the first five of 24 F-16C aircraft from the US and 16 T-50 light combat aircraft from South Korea. It has placed an order for 50 KFX combat aircraft from South Korea and has plans to procure a large number of new combat and tanker aircraft.

Thailand received 12 Gripen-C combat aircraft from Sweden.

Malaysia is looking at several potential suppliers for a planned order of 18 new combat aircraft and has four A400M tanker/transport aircraft on order from Spain. - Yahoo News

Top 10 powerful Combat Aircrafts to chose from:

No.1 Lockheed Martin / Boeing F-22 Raptor (USA)

No.2 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (USA)

No. 3 Eurofighter Typhoon (European Union)

No. 4 Dassault Rafale (France)

No. 5 Sukhoi Su-27 (Russia)

No. 6 McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle (USA)

No. 7 Mikoyan MiG-31 (Russia)

No.8 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon (USA)

No.9 Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Sweden)

No.10 Chengdu J-10 (China)

Would china allow the Philippines to order this Chengdu J-10 at a cheaper price, on time delivery, safe without self destructing remote control device and purely business or Politics will reign? - Source:



Mayor Duterte got 34% Approval Rating for Philippine Presidential race in 2016

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 19:02
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Pic: AP

Southern Philippines Mayor Duterte emerges as presidential prospect

If the presidential elections were to be held solely in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, Davao City’s Mayor Rodrigo Duterte would be the runaway winner.

According to the Pulse Asia survey, Duterte will win 34 percent of the Mindanao votes with Vice President Binay coming in second with 22 percent if the elections were held today.

Estrada, who previously lorded the Mindanao votes, was down to 18 percent while Grace Poe has 11.

The Asia Pulse survey was conducted on March 1-7.

Duterte has also inched up in the nationwide presidential survey with 12 percent, good enough for 3rd and 4th – tied with Estrada. That is just after less than 2 months of low-profile exposure using federalism as platform.

It is the first time Duterte figured prominently in a major survey.

Binay’s lead has improved from 26 percent in November 2014– 29 percent.

Poe is 2nd in voting preference with 14 percent.

This is a significant leap for Duterte who only in December was not even in the list of possible presidential candidates for 2016.

The Davao City mayor, who will turn 70 on March 28, however, is lagging far behind in the National Capital Region and the rest of Luzon, with only 7 and 4 percent voting preference respectively.

He was likewise only a distant 4th in Visayas with 9 per cent voter preference.

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines.

Nobody from Mindanao has ever made it to Malacañang.

The closest was the late Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez who hailed from Misamis Oriental. Pelaez was VP to Ferdinand Marcos from 1961 to 1965.

Duterte is neck and neck with Binay over voter preference among the ABC class, but Binay continues to maintain his grip among D and E voters.

The vice president is likewise still leading the pack in NCR, Luzon and Visayas.


Duterte is seen as a political maverick although he is officially a member of the PDP-Laban, a Mindanao-grown political party that is also the former political party of Binay.

The controversial Davao City mayor has been courted by all previous post-Cory Aquino Philippine presidents either as a cabinet member or part of the administration’s senatorial slate. The pistol-packing Duterte however politely declined all overtures saying he is not cut for a national position. Last year, he even threatened to shoot those who are egging him to run for president.

He once berated the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for spiriting out from the hospital an American who was injured in a bomb blast inside his rented hotel room in Davao City.

At the height of national indignation over the execution of Filipina overseas contract worker Flor Contemplacion, he led protesters in Davao City by burning the Singaporean flag.

Duterte likewise threatened to declare a revolutionary government if only to solve corruption in the country.

Listening tour

Early this year, he was prevailed to soften his stand against running for the presidency.

He used federalism as a platform for a nationwide listening tour which he started only this year.

He has been invited in Bicol, Pangasinan, Baguio, Manila, Iloilo and Leyte where he was mobbed by supporters and the media.

While he has not officially declared his intention to seek the presidency, a source said a survey that will land him no lower that fourth and in double digit approval will change his mind.

Mindanaoan in the senate

Meanwhile, at least three other Mindanaoans are prominently figuring in the same Pulse Asia survey.

Former Senator Miguel Zubiri of Bukidnon is ranked 7th in the survey while Pacquiao and incumbent Senator Teofisto Guingona III are battling it out for the 11-17th place.

Guingona is also from Bukidnon while Pacquiao, who is now in the US training for his May 2 fight, is a member of the House of Representative representing the lone district of Sarangani.

Pacquiao is expected to throw his hat into the 2016 senatorial race. - Asian Correspondent

Philippines' Introduce Advanced Safety Reflectorized Vehicle Plate Codes - With Location Identity

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 11:42

New vehicle plates with advanced security features. - Image:

LTO: Time to change old license plates

New motor vehicle plates available 45 days after registration renewal

New license plates with multiple security features, launched by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) last year, will be available to replace old license plates beginning tomorrow, January 5, in line with government’s license plate standardization program.

“It’s time to change old license plates with new ones. Tomorrow, we begin phasing out the 9 various designs currently in use with modern, standardized, and security feature-packed license plates,” Secretary of Transportation Jun Abaya said.

“We advise the public that their new license plates will be ordered upon renewing their motor vehicle registrations beginning this year. The new plates will be available 45 days after ordering them,” added LTO’s chief, Assistant Secretary Alfonso Tan Jr.

Since May 2014, the LTO has been issuing new license plates to brand new vehicles that were being registered for the first time. January 2015 marks the start of replacing old or existing license plates with the new ones.

The new license plates for private motor vehicles sport a black-and-white design, similar to those in most countries around the world. They have tamper-resistant locks and screws which permanently attach the plates to the vehicle, preventing their removal and transfer. They also feature reflectorized sheeting to make them visible from afar and from any angle.

The permanent “third plate” windshield sticker replaces the current yearly sticker, and will indicate the vehicle’s license plate number and other relevant registration information. It cannot be peeled off without leaving these pieces of information on the windshield.

“These new plates will help improve road safety by curbing illegal practices such as tanggal-plaka or plate removal and switching, which is prevalent in carnapping and colorum operations. They will help enforcers catch criminals, and enhance safety for the public,” Abaya explained.

“Just to remind those who have old license plates: the new plates will not change your alphanumeric combination. Your existing plate numbers will be retained. Only vehicles registered for the first-time will be issued the new 3-letter 4-number combination,” Tan said.

The entire standardization or replacement program will last until 2017. New plates will cost the same as existing plates, which is P 450.00 for 4-wheeled motor vehicles. Once replaced, the old license plates will no longer be valid for any purpose, but may be kept by their owners. -

National Defense to face Probe for buying Junked and Garbage worth ₱1.2-billion 21 UH-1 combat helicopters

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 14:10

JV Ejercito wants to probe purchase of ₱1.2-b choppers

SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito on Monday filed Senate Resolution No. 128 which seeks to investigate the alleged P1.2-billion chopper deal involving 21 UH-1 combat helicopters purchased by the Department of National Defense (DND).

Ejercito said he wants the Senate to dig deeper on news reports about the "tailor-fitted" procurement of 21 units of  the refurbished Huey helicopters by DND for a "favored bidder."

He added that the quality of the delivered and accepted parts of the purchased helicopters should also be investigated.

Ejercito said the Senate should ascertain if any violations were committed in the procurement law in the purchase of the 21 helicopters.

"We have to look into this deal because ₱1.2-billion worth of choppers that cannot be used and have obsolete parts are disadvantageous to the AFP Modernization Program," said Ejercito, a member of the Senate committee on national defense and security.

Reports had said that the contract was awarded to the Joint Venture of Rice Aircraft Services, Inc and Eagle Copters, Ltd. on December 28, 2013 for a bid price of ₱1.25 billion, which Ejercito said were "non-compliant" with the project contract's Terms of Reference (TOR).

He also noted that the helicopters have limited use due to some defects which he said defeats the purpose of its acquisition.

Aside from the prima facie wastage of taxpayers' money, Ejercito noted that with the alleged defects of the delivered helicopters,  the lives of the country's Air Force men and women, who are the end users, are put at risk.

Citing reports, the senator said only seven of the 21 UH-1D helicopters have been accepted, one is undergoing testing and acceptance, and thirteen are still in various stages of testing and assembly.

He likewise said that despite the delay in the completion of the turn-over of the helicopters and the various violations made by the supplier, which are clearly disparaging and prejudicial to the government, the DND did not terminate the contract.  Up to now, it still allows the supplier to deliver.         

Ejercito added that the government was denied the chance to negotiate the project to qualified suppliers who can deliver the best suited helicopters for the combat missions of the Philippine Air Force.

"The principles of transparency and accountability must always be ensured for what is at stake here is the taxpayers' money," he said. - Manila Standard Today

Philippines gets first ₱1.8 Billion worth New C-295 Plane this March 2015

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 13:52

In this photo released by Airbus Defence and Space, Portugal's C295 tactical airlifter is seen releasing chaff and flare countermeasures- image source: philSTAR


Philippines gets first C-295 plane this month

MANILA, Philippines - The government will receive this month one of the three medium lift fixed wing aircraft it acquired from a Spanish firm.

Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said the first C-295 plane would be delivered by Airbus Military in Clark within March 23 to 25.

"It will be the first delivery of the brand new aircraft. We will be there to receive the aircraft delivered from Spain," Manalo said in a recent interview.

The Air Force welcomed the development, saying the aircraft would provide added capability in times of disasters.

"It will serve as additional transport support to the armed forces' requirements [and complement] the three existing C-130s," Air Force spokesman Lt. Col Enrico Canaya said.

"They will be especially helpful in HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster response) operations," he added.

Last year, The STAR reported that Airbus Military won the bidding for the supply of three medium lift fixed wing aircraft worth ₱5 billion.

The notice of award was issued to the aircraft manufacturer in February 2014.

Airbus offered to supply three C-295 planes for ₱5.29 billion, lower than the approved budget of ₱5.3 billion.

Airbus said the C-295 is "the most capable and versatile transport and surveillance aircraft." It can carry as much as nine tons of payload or up to 71 people at a maximum cruise speed of 260 kt or 480 kilometers per hour.

The acquisition is expected to boost the overall lift capability of the Air Force.

The two other C-295 planes are scheduled to arrive next year.

Other aircraft due for delivery this year are six units of close air support aircraft worth ₱4.97 billion, eight units of combat utility helicopters worth ₱4.8 billion, eight units of attack helicopters worth P₱.44-billion, two units of lead-in fighter trainer jets worth ₱3.16 billion and two units of light lift aircraft worth P813 million. - philSTAR

Philippines will Launch 2 Satellites by 2016, 2017 to Save ₱2 Billion yearly

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 10:17

UP IN SPACE. Diwata, the Philippines' first microsatellite, may look like this, the 1U CubeSat ESTCube-1 which was developed by Estonia. Image from Wikipedia

Introducing Diwata, the first Philippine-made satellite

Diwata is one of two micro-satellites the Philippines hopes to launch in 2016 and 2017. It is expected to improve weather forecasting, disaster management, forest protection and other public services.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will launch its very own satellites into space in 2016 and 2017, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced on Tuesday, March 10.

A government project dubbed the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Micro-Satellite (PHL-Microsat) Program aims to send two micro-satellites into space to assist in disaster management programs, weather forecasting, agriculture, fisheries, forest protection, mining, and even the protection of cultural and historical sites, said Dr Joel Marciano, the program leader.

The first micro-satellite, PHL-Microsat-1, nicknamed Diwata, will be launched into space in 2016 from the International Space Station (ISS), a large, habitable satellite orbiting the Earth.

The second one, PHL-Microsat-2, will be launched in 2017. It has not been given a nickname yet.

Aside from the two satellites, a ground receiving station called the Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation (Pedro) Center will be established under the program.

To be built at the Subic Freeport in Zambales, the facility will receive the data and images captured by the satellites and process them into information that can then be disseminated to government agencies and used for public services.

A research laboratory to be based at the University of the Philippines Diliman will be tasked to develop improvements to the program. It will also have direct access to information processed by the ground receiving station.

The 3-year project will cost a total of ₱840.82 million ($19 million). Of this, ₱324.8 million ($7.3 million) will be shouldered by the Philippine government while ₱515.92 million ($11.6 million) will be shouldered by two Japanese universities, Tohoku University and Hokkaido University.

Funds from the Philippines have been programmed by the Department of Budget and Management until 2017, said DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara.

The two schools are currently training Filipino scientists and engineers to design and build the components of the micro-satellite and receiving station.

The Filipino scientists, through a government scholarship program, have been in Japan since October 2014, working on their masters degree which focuses on the development of the satellites.

WAITING FOR DIWATA. Philippine microsatellite program leader Joel Marciano (left) and DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara (middle) explain to media the possible uses of the microsatellites

The Tohoku and Hokkaido universities have rich experience in satellite programs. They developed Japan's micro-satellite, Rising-2. Japan also benefits from one of the most advanced space research institutes in the world, its Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

What is a micro-satellite?

A micro-satellite is a small satellite typically with a mass of 10 to 100 kilograms. PHL-Microsat 1 and 2 will each have a mass of 50 kilograms and will traverse a Low-Earth Orbit – 400 to 420 kilometers from the ground – at a speed of 7 kilometers per second, said Marciano.

It will carry 3 main payloads or instruments used for measurement and detection.

A High Precision Telescope can help determine the extent of damage from disasters, like typhoons and volcanic eruptions. It can also monitor changes in cultural and natural heritage sites, like the Cordillera Rice Terraces or Mayon Volcano.

The Spaceborne Multispectral Imager with LCTF will be able to monitor changes in vegetation due to climate or pests. By assessing biomass, it will also be able to detect how healthy our oceans are which will help ensure fishing grounds are not overexploited.

A Wide Field Camera, meanwhile, will help scientists better observe cloud patterns and thus be able to more accurately predict weather disturbances.

Aside from these uses, the micro-satellites will aid in forestry management, wild fire management, and geography.

Before Diwata, the Philippines had control of two communication satellites Agila-1 and Agila-2. These satellites, which were privately-owned, were not capable of taking images. They were also built by foreigners and not Filipino scientists and engineers.

Savings for the gov't

Diwata, once launched, is expected to pass 4 times a day over the Philippines, spending 6 minutes over the country per pass.

It will capture 900 images per pass, thus it can capture up to 3,600 images daily. It will then transfer the images to the ground station in Subic in speeds of up to 2.4 Mbps.

RECEIVING DATA. The ground receiving station to be established in Subic is likely to have a satellite receiving dish similar to this one. Satellite dish image from Shutterstock

To some, purchasing two satellites may seem extravagant for a developing country, but Guevara says it is actually more economical given how much the government currently spends to buy satellite images.

The potential savings are a major reason for the government's decision to embark on the program.

"Just to give you an idea, 30 minutes of satellite data costs ₱58 million ($1.3 million). We spend ₱2 billion ($45.1 million) a year to acquire satellite imagery. With our own satellite, we can get data 365 days a year and we can task the satellite to take a picture of a particular location," she said.

The Japanese support the project because it will help aid in the Japanese-led initiative of establishing the Asian Microsatellite Consortium (AMC). The consortium already includes micro-satellites of Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

"We want to have better coverage. We can establish, one day, the common methodology and we can use it together. If we use separate type of sensors, we cannot share the data," said Professor Yukihiro Takahashi of Hokkaido University's Space Mission Center.

Data about the Philippines would help Japan and the consortium improve its ground evaluation. The Philippines, said Takahashi, is a very important country due to its geographic location, being a tropical country at the frontlines of typhoons from the Pacific Ocean.

Guevara said there is still no set month for Diwata's launch and that, given the queue at the ISS, it is likely the date of the launch will only be scheduled a month before.

Launches of micro-satellites typically cost ₱57 to 75 million ($1.3 million-$1.7 million) per launch, she said.

The planned micro-satellites mark the country's venture into space technology, with the goal of one day developing a full-fledged Philippine Space Agency.

Is the government's head in the clouds for even contemplating space projects given other humanitarian problems plaguing the Philippines?

Guevara begs to differ.

"Poverty alleviation is the reason why we are doing this. If we use the data from Diwata, it will tell us that you should plant this type of crop to increase productivity of farmers. If you save people from disaster, that is also poverty alleviation." –

Solar Philippines to announce partnership for biggest solar farm for 40-megawatt (MW) farm in Luzon

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 08:32

For this pioneering project Solar Philippines has partnered with SM Malls, the SM North Edsa parking building was outfitted with 5,760 solar panels and 60 inverters covering over 12,000 square meters. STAR/File

Solar Philippines to announce partnership for biggest solar farm in Luzon

By Richmond S. Mercurio (The Philippine Star) 

MANILA, Philippines - Solar Philippines, one of the largest developers of rooftop solar power plants in Southeast Asia, is teaming up with a publicly listed company to put up the biggest solar farm in Luzon.

Solar Philippines founder and president Leandro Leviste said the company is tying up with a listed firm to provide financial muscle to build a 40-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Calatagan, Batangas.

“We will announce a partnership with a local publicly listed company in the next two weeks,” Leviste said.

Under the agreement, Leviste said Solar Philippines and its partner would each have a 50-percent stake in the solar project.

With the average investment for solar plants currently placed at $2-million per MW, Solar Philippines and its partner will need to spend about $80 million for its planned solar farm.

Leviste said Solar Philippines to date has over 10 service contracts with the Department of Energy.

He said the company has seven-MW of solar energy under its portfolio at present, most of which are rooftop developments.

Its 40-MW solar project is the company’s first venture outside solar rooftop developments.

“There’s a 500 MW allocation for the FIT (feed-in-tariff) and there’s a lot of competition to get it. Our hope is to get at least 100 MW of that,” Leviste said.

“Our advantage is we’re converting unutilized rooftop space and making them our plants to supply the grid. We’re not putting them in countryside where there is a lot of permitting processes involved,” he added.

Solar firms have been lobbying for the DOE to increase the installation targets for solar power to 500 MW from the current 50 MW.

Developers who can make it within the allocation will enjoy FIT incentives from the government. Under the FIT scheme, companies are entitled to a rate of P9.68 per kwh for solar power.- PhilSTAR


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