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Duterte to declare Panatag Shoal a marine sanctuary area
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President Duterte press conference at Melia Hotel in Lima, Peru: President Rodrigo R. Duterte orders all Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) officials to resign immediately due to reports of corruption during a press conference at Melia Hotel in Lima, Peru on Sunday (Nov. 20, 2016). (Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD/PNA)

President Duterte press conference at Melia Hotel in Lima, Peru: President Rodrigo R. Duterte orders all Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) officials to resign immediately due to reports of corruption during a press conference at Melia Hotel in Lima, Peru on Sunday (Nov. 20, 2016). (Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD/PNA)

LIMA, Peru, Nov. 21 (PNA) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is set to declare the lagoon in Panatag Shoal a marine sanctuary area, a senior security official said Sunday.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. disclosed that the President will sign an executive order declaring a lagoon in the Panatag Shoal, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, a “no-fishing zone” for both Filipino and Chinese fishermen.

This ‘unilateral declaration’ has been relayed to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the two leaders’ bilateral meeting held at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, according to Cabinet officials present during the APEC Media Press Conference with the Philippine media delegation.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that President Xi hoped to create something favorable out of this.

“We will mobilize government forces to promote our agreements, step up guidance to create a favorable environment. Yun ang sinabi niya (President Xi) pagkatapos mabanggit ni Presidente Duterte yung kanyang unilateral declaration na gawing marine sanctuary,” Andanar said quoting the Chinese leader.

The Panatag Shoal is a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen. It was virtually off-limits to local fishermen as they complain of incidents of harassment they received from the Chinese Coast Guard.

The situation soon changed after President Duterte brought the sorry plight of Filipino fishermen to his Chinese counterpart during his successful state visit to China in October.

Filipino fishermen can now access and fish at Panatag Shoal without experiencing harassment or being shooed away.

The two Asian leaders seem to hit it off well resulting in renewed friendship between the Philippines and China, Secretary Ramon Lopez explained.

“I guess on a personal level as well as at an official level, nagkalapit talaga ang ating dalawang leaders between Philippines and China. With that renewed friendship, it really opened up a lot of opportunities. Now, we are talking of economic cooperation na dati hindi masyadong pinag-uusapan,” Secretary Lopez underscored.

Meanwhile, President Duterte held his first bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where the latter praised the former for his ‘firm” character.

Secretary Lopez added, “Na-appreciate niya (Putin) yung stance, yung pagiging firm leader ni President Duterte. Parang, in a way, parang pinuri niya … na may respect, may dignity.”

Philippines and Russia trade relations is expected to increase especially with the forthcoming visit of the President to Russia.

These include opening of opportunities in areas such as agriculture, energy, and infrastructure, machine engineering, hardware, modernizing industrial machineries, railways and light transport system, tourism and cultural development.

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Robredo: We serve at the pleasure of the President
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Vice President Leni Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Nov 21 (Mabuhay) – Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday said it will be up to President Rodrigo Duterte if he will ask her and other Cabinet members to step down given their opposition to the surprise burial of the late Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The “advice” came from former Senator Rene Saguisag, who urged members of the Cabinet who oppose the burial, particularly those from the Left, to step down from their posts after the secretive interment on Friday.

“Kami naman we serve at the pleasure of the President, ‘di ba?” she said. “Kaya… ano naman, na kay Presidente naman ‘yon.”

Robredo—who narrowly beat the late dictator’s son, Bongbong, in the May vice presidential race—staunchly opposes the said burial.

In her sharpest statement yet on the matter, she called the late Marcos “a thief, a murderer, and a dictator.”

She also scored the Marcos family for “deliberately” hiding the burial, and questioned how the interment, with military honors, was carried out in such low-key fashion.

Despite her long-standing opposition, she has repeatedly pointed out that Duterte knows about—and respects—her view on the matter, as well as on other issues.

She also maintained that she has a “very good working relationship” with the President, who she said has been supportive about her work as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

Other Cabinet members who oppose the burial include Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.

Taguiwalo, who was a political detainee during Martial Law, maintained her opposition on the matter but said she did not want “to keep rubbing it in” out of deference to the President.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Mariano compared the “rushed” burial to the Marcoses leaving for exile in Hawaii in 1986, and said the family will never escape the “joint indignation and protest” of the people, especially “victims and survivors of Martial Law, like me.”

Other members of the progressive bloc who secured Cabinet seats in the Duterte administration were Joel Maglungsod, undersecretary at the Department of Labor and Employment, and Liza Maza, secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. (MNS)

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Kaye Abad to move to Cebu after wedding
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Kaye Abad (MNS photo)

Kaye Abad (MNS photo)

Kaye Abad will be moving to Cebu following her wedding with Paul Jake Castillo this December but clarified that she will not be abandoning her career as an actress just yet.

Explaining her decision to transfer to Castillo’s hometown, Abad, 34, reiterated that she wants to start a family as soon as she can with her fiance, saying she wants to have three kids at most.

“Siguro kapag may baby na hindi na ako siguro makakapag-regular show. Siguro guestings, ganyan. But we’ll see. Kung magiging flexibile naman ‘yung schedule, basta kaya. Pero siyempre priority ‘yung family kasi [ma]tagal kong pinangarap ‘yung magkaroon ng sariling pamilya,” she said.

In preparation, Abad added that she even started learning the local dialect: “I’m not fluent pero nakakaintindi na. Kasi lahat sila dun Bisaya eh. So when they talk nasanay na ako, naiintindihan ko na and I have to learn kasi they only speak Bisaya or English. Hirap sila sa Tagalog.”

Abad and Castillo are set to exchange wedding vows in a private wedding ceremony in Cebu, the couple previously revealed. The two, however, have yet to give an exact date.

Around 600 guests are expected to attend their big day, shared Abad, who will be wearing a gown designed by Francis Libiran. The pair had a rustic-themed prenuptial shoot in Subic, Zambales.

Abad and Castillo had been close friends before admitting their relationship in April 2014. Abad even said that she had tried to set up Castillo with some of her friends. “Hinanapan ko pa siya ng dates tapos wala ring nag-work. Sa akin din pala siya babagsak,” she shared.

Castillo proposed to Abad last May 17. He surprised his girlfriend of two years when he popped the question in the middle of a party he organized for Abad atop a high-rise building in Alabang. (MNS)

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Jollibee, partner to list subsidiary on Vietnam Stock Exchange
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Jollibee Logo since 2011(Wikipedia)

Jollibee Logo since 2011(Wikipedia)

MANILA, Nov. 21 (PNA) – Fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) has sealed a deal to make its joint venture company, Superfoods Group, a publicly traded company on the Vietnam Stock Exchange in line with plans to expand its business in Vietnam and other key cities in the world.

JFC told the local bourse it entered into an agreement through its subsidiary, JSF Investments Pte. Ltd. (JSF), with its joint venture partner, Viet Thai International Joint Stock Company (VTI), to launch the initial public offering (IPO) of Superfoods on or before July 2019.

The Superfoods joint venture owns and operates the brands Highlands Coffee and Pho 24 and is a franchisee of Hard Rock Café. Highlands Coffee has 159 outlets, Pho 24 with 33 stores while Hard Rock Café has three outlets.

The Superfoods joint venture, which has annual sales of USD55 million, is one of the fastest growing joint venture businesses of JFC, growing by 36 percent for the first nine months of 2016 with Highlands Coffee growing by about 78 percent over the same period last year.

“We are very excited about our planned IPO of Superfoods. Our fastest growing business in terms of country is Vietnam and this reflects the vibrancy and potential of the economy and the strong performance of our joint venture business,” said JFC Chairman Tony Tan Caktiong.

Tan Caktiong expressed confidence that with the strong capability of its partner and the support of its organization in the Philippines, “we will have a truly significant business in Vietnam”.

Superfoods Group Chief Executive Officer and founder of Highlands Coffee Thai Phi Diep said, “We look forward to making Highlands Coffee and Pho 24 true national champion brands of Vietnam. Our planned IPO will raise capital to enable us to expand these two brands broadly in Vietnam, in other parts of Asia and in other key cities in the world. Our joint effort with the people of Jollibee Foods Corporation will make this possible”.

As part of the agreement to bring Superfoods into the Vietnam Stock Exchange, the ownership of Superfoods Group will be adjusted with JFC, through JSF, owning 60 percent of joint venture while VTI will own 40 percent.

The number of shares to be sold at the time of the IPO and the price per share will be determined by that time based on the capitalization required to significantly grow the business and the fair value of the business.

As part of this agreement, certain financing structures will be changed, affecting the Superfoods Group and its owner-partners.

As a result of this transaction, JFC will include the Superfoods Group in its financial consolidation. JSF will also provide a USD30-million loan to its partner, VTI.

JFC operates the largest food service network in the Philippines. As of Oct. 31, 2016, it operated 2,565 restaurant outlets in the country under Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and Burger King brands.

Abroad, it was operating 671 stores that sell Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, San Pin Wang, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jollibee, Red Ribbon, Chowking and Jinja Bar. The JFC Group had a total of 3,236 stores worldwide.

JFC also has a 48-percent interest in joint ventures for 12 Hotpot (China) 16 and 40-percent interest in Smashburger that had 378 outlets, mostly in the United States.

These joint ventures, together with the Superfoods Group’s 200 stores have a total of 594 stores worldwide, which are currently not included in JFC’s consolidated store count.

JFC fully owns and operates Jollibee Vietnam. There are 80 Jollibee outlets in Vietnam with an annual sales of USD25 million and growing by 50 percent in 2016 over 2015.

Together with Superfoods Group, the JFC business has one of the fastest growing consumer business in Vietnam.


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Trump ‘modifies’ immigration policy
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President-Elect Donald Trump

President-Elect Donald Trump

MANILA, Nov. 20 (PNA) – The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a United States-based non-profit Filipino organization, has welcomed the modified immigration policy announced by President-elect Donald Trump that only criminals would be deported.

In a statement e-mailed to this writer on Sunday, MHC pointed out that during the election campaign, then candidate Trump said that if elected he would order the deportation of illegal immigrants.

MHC said there are over 500,000 undocumented Filipino immigrants across the United States.

“Last Nov. 8, voters elected Republican candidate Donald Trump as the next President of the United States,” the MHC said.

The MHC statement, which was signed by its three directors, namely, Rev. Atty. Arnedo S. Valera, Esq., Grace Divina S. Valera, and Jesse A. Gatchalian, said:

“We all know the campaign promises Candidate Trump made about mass deportations of 11 million people who entered this country without authorization, or have overstayed their visas. We heard Candidate Trump vowing to build a wall to secure the U.S. border.

“It is important to differentiate Candidate Trump from President Trump. Already, President-elect Trump has modified his position on these two campaign promises.He announced this on Nov. 13 in an interview on CBS-TV’s ’60 Minutes’.”

“He said only criminals would be deported. His exact words are these: ‘What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gangmembers, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million…’ out of this country. This is similar to the current policy under the Obama administration. What is the difference? Under President Obama, only convicted felons are being deported, or those who have undergone trial under the justice system.”

MHC added: “Frankly, we do not know if President-elect Trump will change his mind again once he is in office. Let us, therefore, remain vigilant. Let us guard our rights and our liberties. We will join other groups to achieve results, because truly, ‘there is strength in numbers’.”

Benefit of the Doubt

“Having said this, let us give President-elect Trump the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, we at MHC express our warmest congratulations to our next President and set of leaders. And we hope and pray that President Trump will truly be the ‘President for all Americans’ – as he said in his speech on Election night – regardless of race, ethnicity, ancestry, political creed, religious beliefs and gender orientation.”

“We need to MOVE FORWARD. This is the realistic direction for all to take. We set aside partisanship and help the new administration in building a brighter and better future for America and for the next generation. We pledge, however, to maintain our utmost vigilance. We will resist and campaign against national policies that reinforce racial prejudice, bigotry, and misogyny.”

At the same time, MHC shared some advice to immigrants:

  1. INFORMATION IS POWER. But it has to be accurate AND up-to-the minute or the latest information.
  2. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. What are your rights under existing laws? First, regardless of your status, you are entitled to make one phone call to a lawyer, when you are accosted by a law enforcement officer who is specifically and duly authorized to do so.
  3. GET HELP FROM THE RIGHT PEOPLE. Consult only Licensed U.S. Immigration Attorneys and respectable Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with in-house immigration attorneys to help them navigate the complex immigration options available. Notary Publics and so-called Immigration Consultants are not authorized to give legal advice. In fact, doing so is considered unauthorized practice of law and a criminal act.

Immigration Scenarios under the Trump Administration

MHC also pointed out some immigration scenarios under the Trump administration, and what they would mean to Filipino migrants, as well as to Filipino Americans sponsoring their families.

It said there is a need “to keep in mind that there’s always the possibility that things can change in the months ahead.”

  1. If President Trump adopts his campaign’s immigration rhetoric as immigration policies, then the more than 500,000 undocumented Filipinos across the nation have a reason to be alarmed. Expect disruptions and strict regulations on immigrant visas allocated for the Philippines, whether they are family-based or employment-sponsored visas.
  2. If the campaign promise to ban the entry of citizens of countries with terrorist groups (extreme Islamic groups) – which the Philippines has with the Abu Sayaf in Mindanao – becomes policy, it means immediate suspension of visa processing and strict vetting at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, if not a complete halt while the U.S. government figures out a more concrete immigration policy towards the Philippines.
  3. If President Trump fulfills a campaign promise and scraps the 2012 and 2015 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under his Executive powers, the undocumented would face the worst nightmares of their lives. After experiencing a sense of normalcy, getting out of the shadows and starting to build their future with their temporary work permits and their own Social Security numbers, once again they could be facing a return to “immigration limbo.”

Under the 2012 DACA, an Executive Memorandum and not a law, some 700,000 undocumented immigrants, including Filipinos, who entered the U.S. as children have been granted temporary work authorization, Social Security numbers and relief from deportation.

Republican National Party Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC-TV the day after the election, referring to President-elect Trump: “He’s not calling for mass deportation,” or the mass rollback of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (President-elect Trump has since then picked Priebus as his White House Chief of Staff.)

House Speaker Paul Ryan of the U.S. Congress told CNN on Nov. 13, “We’re focused on securing the border…we are not planning on erecting a deportation force…Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”

MHC said that “these are encouraging news, for starters. Still, we should withhold judgment – until a complete immigration policy is made official in the Trump Administration, one which is sound and humane and with all the Big Picture and nuances addressed.”

  1. Removals and Deportations can be done administratively and before the Immigration Courts. Because we observe the rule of law and there are fundamentaldue process requirements, an undocumented immigrant cannot be simply removed or shipped out from this country. But there are certain types of immigrants that can be administratively removed without going to the Immigration Courts, especially those who have committed crimes classified as aggravated felonies.
  2. There are mechanisms in place where the undocumented can challenge immigration actions of President Trump because they are illegal, unfair or violate due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We should remember that our democracy is strong and intact and we follow the principles of checks and balances and separation of governmental powers: Legislative,Executive, and Judiciary. And we can use the Courts to challenge illegal immigration actions if they are implemented.
  3. A policy to deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants is not only inhuman. It is also very unrealistic. Already, top economists are cautioningPresident-elect Trump that his immigration policy, if implemented, would hurt the nation’s economy. They cited as examples the hotel and construction industries, which employ many undocumented.

“It is also noteworthy that more than 30 percent of Trump supporters are against the policy of mass deportation. Indeed, three in ten Trump supporters favor a comprehensive immigration law that will legalize the undocumented immigrants already in the United States,” MHC said.

We Will Be All Right

“We are hopeful that if President Trump decides to build a wall as part of securing our borders, that he considers building a bridge over that wall and a big door in themiddle of it. Because the essence of America is that it has one big heart for immigrants. Indeed, America is great because it is a Nation of Immigrants. For years, immigrants have been contributing to its progress in science and technology, business, and arts and cultures, among other fields.”

Trump will formally assume office on Jan. 20, 2017.

“MHC is calling on all immigration advocates to join with the immigrant rights community groups and individuals for the next two months in planning, assessment and evaluation of several immigration options available to us,” the statement said.


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Pacquiao, next PHL presdient?
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MANILA, Nov 16 (Mabuhay) – Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao said he has no plans yet to run for president but said he is not closing his doors on that possibility.

“Wala pa sa isip natin yan, focus tayo sa trabaho natin (I don’t think about if for now, I want to focus on my work),” Pacquiao told reporters on Wednesday when sought for comment on President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment that he could become president.

“For President na to ha (This is for President),” Duterte said when he raised the senator’s hand during a courtesy call in Malacañang last Monday night.

But Pacquiao said he has not discussed with anyone the possibility of him seeking the highest office in the land.

He said the President had just probably made the remark since they have the same advocacy.

“Siguro nakita nya na pareho naman kami ng advocacy, pareho kami ng nararamdaman so nasabi nya yun pero sa akin trabaho lang ako (Perhaps he saw that we have the same advocacy, we have the same view so he said that but I want to focus on my work now),” said the senator.

Pacquiao said he wants to concentate now on boxing and on his work at the Senate.

Asked about the possibility that he would change his mind and consider running for president, the senator said: “Hindi naman natin sinasabing sarado. Ang pagiging Presidente ang Panginoon ang naglalagay dyan… Masyadong mataas yan para pangarapin. Gamapanan natin yung trabaho natin para marami tayong matutulungan ng mga Pilipino (I’m not closing my door on the presidency. God grants the presidency. It ‘s such a high ambition. I will fulfill my work so I would be able to help a lot of Filipinos),” he said.

But for now, the senator said he would rather focus first on how to solve the problems of the country.

“Kasi pag hindi natin naresolba ito, hindi natin nabago ang bansa natin hanggang six years, parang ayaw ko na rin sa pulitika (If we won’t be able to resolve it and if we fail to improve our country within the next six years, I think I don’t want to get involved in politics),” he said.

“Yan ang commitment ko na kailangang may maitulong tayo, kailangang may mabago tayo so pasalamat ako naman dahil pareho kami ng advocacy ng Pesidente (My commitment is to be able to help and incorporate change so I’m thankful that the President and I share the same advocacy.). Am sure within six years na malaki ang pagbabago sa bansa natin (our country would see significant changes),” Pacquiao added.(MNS)

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Sofia explains why she’s using her mother’s last name
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Sofia Gonzalez (MNS photo)

Sofia Gonzalez, the eldest daughter of Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzalez and ex-Mayor Alfred Romualdez started recording her debut album for Viva Records.

One of the songs she did is her own composition, “Love Hurts”. How can she write a song about love when she herself admits she has never fallen in love in her entire life?

“Love is relatable naman even if you haven’t been in love yet. But actually, I’m in love pala, with food!” she laughs. “I got the inspiration for the song from my friends who fall in love then break up with their boyfriends and come to me to open up about their heartbreaks. I’m their shoulder to cry on and judging from their stories, parang ang daming lalaking manloloko.”

How long does it take for her to write a song? “‘Love Hurts’ natapos ko in 5 minutes. It was late at night, I was bored, so I wrote it. I have finished two other songs.”

How come she’s using her mom’s family name and not her dad’s? “Romualdez kasi is more identified with politics, while Gonzalez  is better known in showbiz. My mom is known as an actress-singer then. She’s using Gonzalez and also her dad, my lolo, Jose Mari Gonzalez, who’s also an actor-singer.”

So will she also be an actress-singer? “No. I don’t know how to act. I tried in Youtube but it’s awful.”

Who among today’s young actors  would she like to have as a ka-love team? “No one. I don’t really care about having a loveteam. I want to focus on my music muna. I don’t have formal voice lessons but I was a member of our school choir for one year. I learned to play the ukelele, guitar and the piano without taking any formal lessons. I just learned from Youtube.”

Who are her favorite singers? “Locally, Yeng Constantino. She’s really my idol as she also composes her own songs and plays the guitar. If ever I’d get to do a duet with her, siguro I’d cry. I also like the styles of KZ Tandingan and, abroad, Ariana Grande and Adele.”

Sofia just turned 17 on August 22, she’s in 10th grade, and talking to her, it’s easy to see she has a good head on her shoulders. She professes to be conservative. “People are shocked when they learn that at 17, I haven’t tried drinking anything alcoholic kasi sa bars daw in Manila, girls younger than me can drink. But I don’t even have a night life. Whether here in Tacloban or in Manila, I prefer to just stay home at night watching TV, movies or Youtube, doing social media and eating. I watched ‘Stranger Things’, all 8 episodes, in just one sitting. I love romcoms. I’ve seen ‘500 Days of Summer’ several times.”

Isn’t she scared of being bashed on social media? “You know, since it’s been announced that I signed up with Viva, biglang dumami ang friends ko. Even my sister Diana gained friends. She asked me: Who are all these people following me now? So far, wala namang namba-bash, but if ever there’d be bashers in the future, I’d just ignore them. I won’t even read them at all.”

She had a very traumatic experience at the height of typhoon Yolanda.

“We were staying home when the rains started and we moved to our other house which was on higher ground. But even there, the water reached us. It went up so fast. It’s good my mom brought life jackets and we had to wait for two hours until the water subsided. What happened afterwards is even more traumatic when we had to go out na, seeing all the dead people lying in the streets. I can’t forget a little girl who’s asking for our help and we didn’t know what to do. We had to undergo counseling and therapy because of that experience.”

So what insights did she gain about it? “You should learn to value your life more, don’t take it for granted, because you can die any minute.”(MNS)

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