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Padaca denies challenging Sandiganbayan in plea vs. graft raps
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A Filipino Catholic tradition detailing the life and passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, through singing. It is sung using local dialects and the hymns depending on what province. Photo shows Catholic devotees in Pasig City sing the traditional Lenten „Pabasa ng Pasyon” in front of a makeshift altar, at the Pasig City Hall. „Pabasa” refers to the chant reading of the Filipino version of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection as a form of Catholic devotees’ religious meditation during the Holy Week. (MNS Photo)

A Filipino Catholic tradition detailing the life and passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ, through singing. It is sung using local dialects and the hymns depending on what province. Photo shows Catholic devotees in Pasig City sing the traditional Lenten „Pabasa ng Pasyon” in front of a makeshift altar, at the Pasig City Hall. „Pabasa” refers to the chant reading of the Filipino version of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection as a form of Catholic devotees’ religious meditation during the Holy Week. (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Election commissioner Grace Padaca on Wednesday denied challenging the independence of the Sandiganbayan in reiterating her supposed immunity from suit, being a presidential appointee, in her appeal to dismiss the graft case she is facing.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division has junked her motion for reconsideration to dismiss the graft charges filed against her.

The case stemmed from the P25-million grant to the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation, Inc. Padaca, a former governor of Isabela, was accused of allegedly giving undue advantage to the non-governmental organization (NGO) tapped to manage a credit facility for Isabela’s rice farmers under a hybrid seed distribution program.

In decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, the court said it would require an unprecedented stretch and bending of the law to utilize her appointment as a cause to dismiss or suspend the ongoing court proceedings.

“To sustain the motion of the accused undermines independence and the exercise of judicial authority of the Court on account of an intervening executive act; this violates the fundamental principle of separation of powers,” it added.

In her motion for reconsideration, Padaca cited her immunity from suit, as a presidential appointee, for the dismissal of the case.

President Benigno Aquino III appointed her to the Commission on Elections on October 2, 2012 when, her lawyers claimed, she came under the protection of Sections 2 and 3, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution which gave the House of Representatives the exclusive power to impeach her.

“This (motion for reconsideration) is not a challenge as to the independence of any branch of government, but this is a fundamental issue which appears to be unresolved and is still unclear, that is why we feel that the matter should be threshed out fully,” Padaca said.

Sandiganbayan, in an October 9, 2013 resolution, earlier junked Padaca’s claim that she cannot be indicted unless she is removed by impeachment.

The anti-graft court said, at that time, that immunity does not apply to Padaca because the criminal charges were filed even before she got appointed to the Comelec. The court also said granting Padaca immunity could lead to an “abuse of political power of appointment” to insulate public officials from liability.

Padaca said she has every intention and is ready to clear her name in the appropriate forum.

She said she has already collated all material evidence which will highlight her innocence. At least 300 exhibits have been marked for Padaca’s defense while several others are scheduled to be marked.

“Despite the pendency of any petition we may file in the Supreme Court, I have asked my lawyers to continue preparing/presenting my evidence before the Sandiganbayan and unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, I am eager to have my side heard in trial,” said Padaca. (MNS)

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Sophisticated 2015 Hyundai Sonata blends confidence-inspiring driving dynamics and premium design
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2015 Sonata 2.0T

2015 Sonata 2.0T

NEW YORK – Hyundai today introduced its all-new seventh-generation 2015 Sonata at the New York International Auto Show. Following the incredible success of the outgoing Sonata, the all-new generation offers a more refined look through a new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design language, stiffer body structure, better ride quality, reduced noise, vibration and harshness and advanced safety and convenience features. Sonata truly democratizes the premium design and convenient technology of the Genesis sedan for the mid-size class. The new 2015 Hyundai Sonata will be built at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant in Montgomery, Ala. and go on sale early this summer.

Exterior Design
The 2011 Sonata raised the bar for design in the mid-size sedan segment when it was introduced in 2009. Consumers noticed the groundbreaking design and so did the competition. Sonata’s design matures for the 2015 model year with energetic and crisp lines complimented by smooth and subtle surfaces. Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 is a confident evolution of the original fluidic sculpture design language that perfectly expresses Sonata’s premium look and excellent value.

A larger, more refined grille with a wide air intake defines the face of the 2015 Sonata. Simple, harmonious lines adorn the exterior while hinting at the improved dynamic performance and human-machine connection Sonata provides. Taut, horizontal rocker panels reflect the chassis’ increased stability and surefootedness while the signature Sonata beltline is now stretched tight to accentuate the sedan’s strength. The coupe-like roofline remains, but it is balanced by a larger window graphic that emphasizes the roomier interior. Horizontal lines in the rear underscore Sonata’s width and give the car a planted look. This purposeful shape achieves a remarkable drag coefficient of just 0.27, lower than any non-hybrid in the mid-size sedan class.

Interior Design
Confident, energetic lines define the 2015 Sonata’s exterior and are complimented inside the cabin by a premium interior with a special emphasis on ergonomics. Intuitive buttons and controls are placed on the center stack, which is angled toward the driver to make the controls easier to reach. Hyundai’s core interior design principles are safety, intuitiveness and simplicity and Sonata delivers in spades.

Controls are grouped logically and placed in the most convenient position for the driver. To create a unified experience inside the cabin, designers met with various suppliers to make sure all buttons and switchgear have a consistent feel. The height of the display screen for the audio display or 8-inch navigation system and instrument cluster are optimized for visibility and reside on the same plane to enhance readability during a quick glance. These ergonomic enhancements help the driver remain focused on the road ahead and provide confidence behind the wheel.

The 2015 Sonata’s efficient packaging delivers outstanding passenger and interior volume. With 106.1 cu. ft. of passenger volume and a total interior volume of 122.4 cu. ft., 2015 Sonata is classified as a large car by the EPA.

Advanced High-Strength Steel Platform
A rigid platform is essential for a great car. Everything from ride quality to crash test performance is enhanced with a stiffer platform. The 2015 Sonata uses advanced high-strength steel for more than 50 percent of total platform composition, which results in 41 percent stiffer torsional rigidity and 35 percent greater bending strength. Advanced high strength steel is twice as rigid as traditional steel while weighing 10 percent less. More hot-stamped components are used, especially in the B-pillar area.

Safety Features
Sonata comes standard with seven airbags, including a new driver’s knee airbag designed to help prevent the driver from sliding down the seat in a collision, which allows the other restraint systems to be more effective. Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure display are also standard. Projector headlamps are standard while HID headlamps are available.

Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety technologies for the 2015 Sonata to assist drivers and help prevent accidents. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced safety technologies such as Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a Lane Departure Warning System are all available in this midsize sedan.

Sonata’s advanced Blind Spot Detection system is designed to alert drivers of an approaching vehicle in the next lane if the turn signal is activated. This Lane Change Assist technology is a segment-exclusive active safety feature. Drivers are first alerted of a vehicle in the blind spot by warning lights in the side mirrors. When the turn signal is activated, the Lane Change Assist system determines the closing speed of any vehicle in the adjacent lane to determine if the lane change is safe. If the system determines the vehicle in the other lane is closing too quickly, it sounds an audible alarm to warn the driver that the lane change is unsafe. The Lane Departure Warning System uses a forward-facing camera to recognize lane markers. If the system detects the vehicle is headed outside the lane markers, a warning light on the dashboard illuminates and an audible sound

Multimedia
All 2015 Sonatas come standard with iPod®/USB and auxiliary input jacks, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth® phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice-recognition. Available upgrades include an 8.0-inch navigation system with downloadable apps, HD radio, Dimension or 400-watt Infinity premium audio systems with next-generation Blue Link telematics.

Hyundai’s 8.0-inch navigation system offers an enhanced display with improved touch sensitivity, a map and music split screen display and the ability to record SiriusXM presets 1-6. Switching to a preset station in the middle of your favorite song won’t be an annoyance any longer. Rewind up to 22 minutes to listen to the full song or catch up on a sports broadcast. SiriusXM Travel Link provides access to traffic information, sports scores, weather, stock prices, fuel prices and local movie times.

Hanzel Fraguere and Ferry Maringka Gozon, Filipino sales of Hyundai Puente Hills.

Hanzel Fraguere and Ferry Maringka Gozon, Filipino sales of Hyundai Puente Hills.

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Gerald Anderson hopes to become a dad by 30
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Gerald Anderson (MNS photo)

Gerald Anderson (MNS photo)

Despite news of several celebrity couples tying the knot – or about to – Gerald Anderson is not feeling pressured to propose to girlfriend, Maja Salvador, saying they still have a lot of career plans.

Although it is his long-term dream to have his own family, Anderson said that settling down is something he and Salvador have yet to talk about.

“Hindi pa [namin pinag-uusapan] kasi sobrang focused kami sa pamilya namin at sa kung ano ‘yung meron kami ngayon. Hindi pa. Ang dami pa naming goals sa buhay. Pero siyempre one day kasama iyan sa mga pangarap na magkapamilya but ‘yun ‘yung mga later dreams ko pa,” he said.

Anderson noted that he still needs to save up for himself and his family before thinking of entering into a lifetime commitment.

The “Dyesebel” actor revealed that he wants to have his first child at the age of 30.

Malayo pa [’yung kasal], kailangan ko pa mag-ipon. Siguro kapag 30 to 35 na ako. Gusto ko 30 sana may anak na ako. Gusto ko parang barkada ko ‘yung anak ko,” the 25-year old actor said.

Asked how many kids he wants to have, he said: “By 30, isa sana and then by 32 may isa pa. Gusto ko apat eh, I want a big family.”

Meanwhile, Anderson said it was great working with ex-girlfriend Kim Chiu again.

“It was great. Like I said, time will heal everything. Dahan-dahan. I’m just really happy na okay na. We are happy for each other,” he said.

Last February 26, photos of Anderson and Chiu at a pictorial surfaced online, getting thrilled reactions from fans of the tandem dubbed “Kimerald.” It was later revealed that the shoot was for an upcoming ad campaign of a jewelry brand they both endorse.

Fellow housemates in “Pinoy Big Brother” in 2006, Anderson and Chiu became a popular love team in the following years, and eventually became a couple in real life.

The two, however, broke up in 2010. This also marked the end of their onscreen team-up, much to the dismay of their loyal followers.

Anderson and Chiu eventually reunited onscreen via the romance anthology “24/7 In Love” in late 2012, two months before the actor became romantically linked to Salvador in January the following year.

The confirmation of their status as a couple reportedly estranged Chiu from both Anderson and Salvador, who was known to be her close friend and confidant.

Months since their supposed estrangement, Anderson said he is glad that “everything is much better” now.

Asked if he is open to have a new project with Chiu, Anderson said, “Why not? Open naman ako. Our fans, madami pa ring mga Kimeralds and I think they deserve a project probably in the future.” (MNS)

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Lacson: Distribution of Yolanda funds by Mar Roxas appropriate
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Secretary Manuel Roxas II accepts his appointment to the Department of Interior and Local Government replacing Sec. Jesse Robredo, as announced by President Benigno S. Aquino III during a press briefing at the President’s Hall in Malacanang Palace on Friday (August 31). On the other hand, Cavite 1st District Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya takes over the post of DOTC chief. (MNS photo)

Secretary Manuel Roxas II accepts his appointment to the Department of Interior and Local Government replacing Sec. Jesse Robredo, as announced by President Benigno S. Aquino III during a press briefing at the President’s Hall in Malacanang Palace on Friday (August 31). On the other hand, Cavite 1st District Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya takes over the post of DOTC chief. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Following  allegations of politicking against administration officials, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson on Thursday defended the move of Interior Sec. Mar Roxas to distribute funds to typhoon-hit areas.

In a statement, Lacson said “some people” questioned why it was Roxas and not the rehabilitation czar who distributed the checks for the reconstruction of public buildings in areas affected by super Typhoon Yolanda.

Lacson said that while the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) has the power to recommend rehabilitation measures to the President, the power to implement plans and programs still remains with the appropriate government agencies.

 “When it comes to the distribution of funds for the reconstruction of structures like municipal buildings, public markets and civic centers, the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) is the agency that has the power to implement the distribution of such funds,” he said.

“[So] it was natural and appropriate for DILG Secretary Roxas to be the person distributing such funds since DILG is the government agency with the power to implement the distribution,” he added.

He also clarified it was he, after consultation with the League of Municipalities, who recommended to the President that funds for the reconstruction of municipal buildings, public markets and civic centers’ be “downloaded” directly to the mayors.

“We were grateful that the President, Budget Secretary Abad and DILG Secretary Roxas acted favorably and implemented our recommendation to fast-track the distribution of funds to the mayors,” he said.

Lacson also reiterated that PARR does not manage or hold any government or private donor funds.

“This only shows that everyone has a part to play in the rehabilitation of Yolanda affected areas.  We all need to work together.  PARR is committed to support the national government, the government agencies and the private sector to ensure that each stakeholder can do its role in helping the rehabilitation of the Yolanda affected communities,” he said.

Lacson’s clarification came after Roxas and Transportation Sec. Jun Abaya, who were together for the distribution of funds, were accused of taking advantage of reconstruction efforts for their selfish political ends.

During one of the turnover ceremonies, Abaya even referred to Roxas as “President Mar Roxas.”  The Palace, however, denied there was any politics behind the visits of the two to typhoon-hit areas.

Abaya, Liberal Party’s acting president, had said LP’s only choice for standard-bearer for the 2016 national elections is Roxas.

But President Benigno Aquino III, who is the party’s chairman, has repeatedly refused to name his bet. (MNS)

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De Lima orders NBI to arrest Cedric Lee
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President Benigno S. Aquino III converses with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima during the 8th East Asia Conference (EAC) on Competition Law and Policy at the Mindanao Ballroom, Sofitel Philippine Plaza in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Wednesday (August 28, 2013). EAC is an open event for key high-level officials of competition agencies in East Asia. EAC participants exchange ideas, views and experiences on emerging regional competition issues; and undertake to strengthen understanding and cooperation with regard to the implementation of competition policy and law across the region. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III converses with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima during the 8th East Asia Conference (EAC) on Competition Law and Policy at the Mindanao Ballroom, Sofitel Philippine Plaza in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Wednesday (August 28, 2013). EAC is an open event for key high-level officials of competition agencies in East Asia. EAC participants exchange ideas, views and experiences on emerging regional competition issues; and undertake to strengthen understanding and cooperation with regard to the implementation of competition policy and law across the region. (MNS photo)

MANILA Mabuhay) – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to serve warrants for the arrest of Cedric Lee and four others accused in the Vhong Navarro grave coercion case who have not posted bail.

The other four are Ferdinand Guerrero, Bernice Lee, Simeon Raz, Jose Paolo Calma, who are among the seven people charged of grave coercion and serious illegal detention in connection with Navarro’s mauling last January 22

So far, only Jed Fernandez and model Deniece Cornejo have surrendered and posted P12,000 bail.

Should Lee and the four others be arrested over the Lenten break, they can only post bail on Monday.

The courts suspended work starting 12 noon today. (MNS)

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Aquino leads PNP command conference on Holy Week preps
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Filipinos raise palm fronds to receive a blessing from Italian priest Romulo Bertoni (2nd from left) to mark Palm Sunday at a shopping mall parking area in Las Pinas City, south of Manila, the Philippines, 13 April 2014. Palm Sunday for Roman Catholic devotees symbolically marks the biblical account of the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, signaling the start of the Holy Week. (MNS photo)

Filipinos raise palm fronds to receive a blessing from Italian priest Romulo Bertoni (2nd from left) to mark Palm Sunday at a shopping mall parking area in Las Pinas City, south of Manila, the Philippines, 13 April 2014. Palm Sunday for Roman Catholic devotees symbolically marks the biblical account of the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, signaling the start of the Holy Week. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — President Benigno Aquino III on Monday went to Cramp Crame in Quezon City to check the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) security preparations for the Holy Week.

At a press conference, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino led a command conference at Camp Crame to “ensure that the Holy Week holidays are orderly and peaceful.”

She said the PNP presented its preparations for Holy Week, the World Economic Forum in May, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015.

“I am told… that the President did make a couple of questions – did pose a couple of questions to the presenters and… those questions were all ably answered,” Valte said without elaborating.

Valte said the President will also spend the week monitoring the preparations and actions of concerned government agencies in light of the coming holidays.

She reminded the public about the emergency hotlines, a Summary of the Rights of Air Passengers, and an advisory on heat stroke available on the Official Gazette.

“These will be helpful to our countrymen who are going out of town for the weekend,” Valte said. (MNS)

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Palace wishes nation peaceful, reflective Lenten season
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Penitents, locally known as “Morions”, wear masks and Roman centurion costumes as they take part in a procession commemorating the passion of Christ during Holy Week at Mogpog town in Marinduque, central Philippines, March 25, 2013. (MNS photo)

Penitents, locally known as “Morions”, wear masks and Roman centurion costumes as they take part in a procession commemorating the passion of Christ during Holy Week at Mogpog town in Marinduque, central Philippines, March 25, 2013. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – The Palace hopes the nation will have a peaceful and reflective Holy Week as Filipinos observe the Lenten Season.

“As a new week approaches, we in the administration wish the Filipino people a peaceful and reflective Holy Week,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement she read over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

At the same time, as most Filipinos from Metro Manila start to travel to the provinces, Valte reminded them to be extra cautious to ensure their safety.

“We encourage the public to take note of emergency hotlines present in the Official Gazette (http://www.gov.ph/emergency-hotlines/), as well as to familiarize themselves with the Summary of the Rights of Air Passengers also found on the Official Gazette website (http://www.gov.ph/summary-of-the-rights-of-air-passengers/),” the Palace official said.

These government websites would be useful sources of information for people going home to their provinces, and to those traveling around the country.

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