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Abra Business Cordillera Features National News Regional News

LAYUGAN GARDEN, ABRA’S NEW TOURIST ATTRACTION

LAYUGAN GARDEN, ABRA’S NEW TOURIST ATTRACTION
With an entrance fee of Php 20.00 only, the Amsterdam-like Tulip Garden of Bucay, Abra gets more than 300 visitors from the entire Luzon daily. (CAGT PIA-CAR,Abra)

By Christian Allister G. Tubadeza
BUCAY, Abra(PIA) — The Layugan Garden in the town of Bucay is the newest attraction in the province averaging about 300 tourists a day.

With its 10,000 artificial tulips in vibrant colors, it is attractive in the day and especially at night when lighted.

Tulip LED flowers in different colors- red, yellow, pink, white and blue – are beautifully arranged in an elevated land.

Owned and managed by Mr. Jun Baroña, the Layugan Garden is located in barangay Layugan; about 10 minutes drive from the poblacion. It opened just last January 14 and instantly became a tourist destination.

In an interview with Bucay Tourism Officer Roger Bernal, he said the tulip garden is one of the steps of the local government in nurturing the tourism industry of the municipality.

The establishment of the Layugan Garden was inspired by the visit of Bucay Mayor Bernadette Baroña to the Sirao Garden in Cebu.

Bernal said that as more people come to see the garden, the local government unit beefs up the maintenance of peace and security especially this month of February.

“The management allowed souvenir and food stands in the vicinity of the garden for the general convenience of our visitors and to carry out business opportunities as well for the people of Barangay Layugan,” he said.

The garden regularly opens at 9:00AM with an entrance fee of Php 20.00 only and Php 30.00 in the evening. It would not close as long as there are still visitors at night, Bernal said.
To get there, tourists may ride the buses going to Bangued, then take the jeepneys going to Bucay which is less than an hour trip.

Those with private cars going to Bangued, turn right just after the Sinalang Bridge for about 20-25 minutes drive to Bucay town proper, then about 10 minutes drive to the Layugan Garden.

Aside from the Layugan Garden, visitors may also visit other tourists attractions in the municipality such as the Banglolao viewdeck, Pakiling Cave of Roces, Bucay Casa Real and the Borikibok Spring resort. (JDP/ MTBB/CAGT – PIA CAR, Abra)

Categories
Central Luzon National News Regional News

PDEA to ‘cleanse’ 827 drug-affected barangays in Central Luzon

PDEA to ‘cleanse’ 827 drug-affected barangays in Central Luzon
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Regional Director Gil Pabilona talks about the “harsher” strategies they will employ against illegal drugs to cleanse 827 drug-affected barangays in the region in 2019 during the News@Hues Press Conference of the Pampanga Press Club. (Marie Joy L. Simpao/PIA 3)

By Marie Joy L. Simpao
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will ‘cleanse’ a total of 827 drug-affected barangays in Central Luzon this year.

“Our marching order is to rid 2,439 barangays of illegal drugs and its related activities until 2022, and we will start with 827 barangays this 2019,” PDEA Regional Director Gil Pabilona said.

To meet this target, PDEA will employ harsher campaign against illegal drugs.

“Since this is considered a national security threat, more government resources will now be used for the campaign. Instead of limited resources from PDEA and Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as other government agencies may also be tapped for various initiatives,” he said.

At the regional level, Pabilona said they will seek the help of local chief executives and barangay captains by furnishing them with the list of wanted personalities so they can conduct monitoring and arrests at their respective areas.

The director added that they will coordinate with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to monitor the functionality of Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (ADACs) and see to it that they conduct regular meetings, submit watchlist reports, and have rehabilitation programs.

These ADACs, he said, will also help the villages meet 14 parameters for a drug-cleared barangay including the absence of drug pushers, users and dens; and presence of community-based programs.

“We are also tasked to focus our operations in seaports, airports and shorelines,” Pabilona added.

Another proposed program of PDEA is the establishment of rehabilitation centers to cater to minors involved in illegal drug trade.

As of February 22, Pabilona said the PDEA had cleared 119 of 709 villages of the drug menace in Nueva Ecija, 118 of 385 in Pampanga, 116 of 118 in Bataan, 43 of 185 in Zambales, 110 of 392 in Tarlac, 35 of 507 in Bulacan, 54 of 96 in Aurora, 2 of 31 in Angeles City and 1 of 16 in Olongapo City.

Joint operatives of PDEA and PNP were also able to apprehend approximately 200,000 drug personalities in Central Luzon in 2018. (CLJD/MJLS-PIA 3)

 

 

 

Categories
Business Central Luzon Culture and Arts National News Regional News

DOT SEES POTENTIAL OF ‘IBONG DAYO FESTIVAL’ AS INT’L EVENT

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DOT SEES POTENTIAL OF ‘IBONG DAYO FESTIVAL’ AS INT’L EVENT
Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. lauds the annual Ibong Dayo Festival for promoting different bird species migrating at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park. Mar Jay S. Delas Alas/PIA 3)

By Mar Jay S. Delas Alas
BALANGA CITY — Ibong Dayo Festival in Balanga City could be an international event in the near future.

In his message during the ninth edition of the festival, Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. praised the role of the city government as well as residents in protecting the wetland and promoting its migratory birds.

“There is a concerted effort among all of us not only the local government, not only the national government, but the community is really part of taking care and protecting our wetlands,” Boncato said.

He expressed support and interest in advancing the festival by adding an international flavor to attract more tourists.

“We also shared with the good Mayor that maybe next year, we gear up and makes this festival known to many more markets,” the Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation said.

“We can invite foreign scientists and bird enthusiasts to come and celebrate with us so our Ibong Dayo will not be only for us Filipinos but also for all who appreciate sustainable tourism,” he furthered.

In a recent bird census conducted by Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, about 9,544 birds were seen in the city.

“The arrival of the migratory birds continues in the city varying in terms of numbers for various reasons but the message here is that for as long as we see them here in Balanga, everything is doing well,” Boncato stressed.

Ibong Dayo Festival is an annual event recognizing the different bird species migrating at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park in barangay Tortugas.

It is a Hall of Famer in Best Festival-City category of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines. (CLJD/MJSD-PIA 3)[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]
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Categories
Opinion

US ‘IDEOLOGICAL-IMPERIALIST’ BILLIONAIRE PUTS UP P30M FOR RESSA’S LEGAL EXPENSES

US ‘IDEOLOGICAL-IMPERIALIST’ BILLIONAIRE PUTS UP P30M FOR RESSA’S LEGAL EXPENSES
The second part of the investigative article on Rappler’s investor and Ressa’s protector.

By Rigoberto D. Tiglao

DON’T fall for the Yellows and US media’s portrayal of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa as a poor, helpless journalist being persecuted by the powerful state apparatus of the Philippine government.

As an American citizen, she is protected by the most powerful nation on earth. Its embassy indeed issued a statement right after her arrest that said that it hopes “her case will be resolved quickly in accordance with relevant Philippine law and international standards of due process.”

But Ressa is being protected not just by her government. Pierre Omidyar, one of the US’ richest men, and founder of eBay (with its subsidiary Paypal) and now also a Hawaii and California property tycoon, will be paying for Ressa’s lawyers.

The shadowy tycoon’s Omidyar Network and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) which he funds “have set up a $500,000 legal defense fund for Ressa,” according to a two-part investigative article in mintpressnews.com, a website that has gained a reputation as an independent news outfit with formidable research skills (Read the article here: https://www.mintpressnews.com/ebay-founder-pierre-omidyar-is-funding-a-global-media-information-war/255199/).

It was also Omidyar Network which, together with North Base Media, that saved Rappler from going under in 2015 when the two entities invested P100 million into the firm, which had been nearly abandoned by its initial funders.

Violated Constitution
But that got Rappler into deeper trouble as it was clearly a violation of the constitutional prohibition on any foreign money in, and management of, a media company. As a result, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) early last year ordered Rappler dissolved. Rappler has appealed to the Court of Appeals. (One of North Base Media’s founders, Sasa Vucinic, is believed to have been involved in the destabilization of Yugoslavia that led to its disintegration in 1992. Three years after, Vucinic set up the Media Development Investment Fund with seed money from billionaire George Soros, who has been well-documented to have an appetite for regime change in countries that break away from US vassalage.)
Rather than crusader for press freedom in the Philippines, Ressa and her Rappler are part of a network to advance US interests in the globe, under the guise of spreading democratic principles.

Who is Omidyar? The mintpress.com article authored by respected investigative journalists Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal pointed out:

“Behind the image he has cultivated of himself as a ‘progressive philanthropreneur,’ Omidyar has wielded his media empire to advance the Washington consensus in strategic hotspots around the globe. His fortune helped found an outlet to propel a destabilizing coup in Ukraine; he’s helped establish a network of oppositional youth activists and bloggers in Zimbabwe; and in the Philippines he has invested in an oppositional news site that is honing corporate surveillance techniques like a ‘mood meter…to capture non-rational reactions.’ Meanwhile, he has partnered closely with the leading arms of US soft power, from the US Agency for International Aid and Development to the National Endowment for Democracy — acting as a conduit for information warfare-style projects in countries around the world.”

CIA
“Pierre Omidyar has partnered closely with many of the US-funded outfits that fulfill the role the Central Intelligence Agency used to play during the Cold War in backing opposition media and civil society in countries targeted for regime change,“ the article claimed.

The second part of the investigative piece also pointed out: “While quietly partnering with USAid and a firm at the forefront of the fight to keep the agency ‘relevant,’ Omidyar, along with a select group of fellow billionaires, is also performing a critical service by providing a private funding channel for cultural vehicles that advance the agenda of Western foreign policy.”

The article also disclosed: “Omidyar’s political empire consists of a web of organizations overseen by its center of administration: the Omidyar Group. Each outfit appears to be an independent entity with its own staff and directors. Taken together, however, these organizations pursue a mission that reflects the vision of the billionaire behind it.”

It listed seven such entities, with Omidyar Network described as follows:

“With offices in Washington, Silicon Valley, and six foreign countries, the Omidyar Network propagates the neoliberal ideology of its billionaire namesake through ‘impact investing’ and a ‘property rights’ initiative. Outside the US, the Omidyar Network funds an array of foreign media outlets, like Ukraine’s Hromadske and the Philippines-based Rappler, that have participated in pro-Western information warfare-style campaigns against ‘rogue’governments. In Zimbabwe, where the Omidyar Network supports a series of oppositional youth organizing initiatives through the Magambe Network, an Omidyar employee was arrested, accused of attempting to stir up a revolt through online organizing, and ultimately released.. .This February 12, Rappler editor-in-chief Maria Ressa was arrested as well, accused of ‘cyberlibel.’ The Omidyar Network and the Omidyar-funded Committee to Protect Journalists have set up a $500,000 legal defense fund for Ressa.”

Neoliberal ideology
For lack of a succinct term, I call Omidyar an “ideological imperialist,” a billionaire who seeks not only to impose the American neoliberal ideology on Third World nations, but to set up entities in such countries by locals who disseminate his worldview. Here, National Endowment for Democracy has been a funder of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and Vera Files.

Another website funded by Omidyar, The Intercept has actually been playing tag-team with Rappler to demonize Duterte in order to build up American public opinion against the President, the usual part-one tactic of the US “deep state” to remove a leader in some country that has declared its independence from the US.

It was The Intercept that disclosed to the world in May 2017 the confidential telephone conversation between President Trump and Duterte. The article was titled: “Trump called Rodrigo Duterte to congratulate him on his murderous drug war: ‘You are doing an amazing job.’” The piece was subtitled: “A call with a killer.”

To protect itself from legal liability for violating our wiretapping laws, Rappler gave the transcript of the conversation it got from Yellow stragglers at the foreign affairs department to The Intercept to first publish. It then reported it, claiming it was merely re-publishing the report of that US Omidyar outfit.

The investigative piece also noted that it was at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) annual event that Ressa was given a press freedom award. But the CPJ is also heavily funded by Omidyar, just as Rappler has been. “It was another case of logrolling between two members of the billionaire’s media empire,” the article noted.

Metamorphosed
I have written many columns on Rappler since 2016 because I had sensed then, after Omidyar and North Base Media invested in it that year, that the website had metamorphosed from being a platform that supported the regime of President Aquino 3rd (especially his project to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona) to one financed by American interests, and advanced the US imperial worldview in the Philippines.

This was especially so after Duterte openly declared his independence from US vassalage, and drew closer to the superpower in the region that the Americans hate so much, the People’s Republic of China. Rappler has been the main venue for the anti-China views of such personalities as former foreign affairs secretary Alberto del Rosario (whose bungling led to our loss of Panatag Shoal to the Chinese) and Justice Secretary Antonio Carpio, who has been practically saying that China will be invading the country in our lifetime.

This Ressa brouhaha is not about press freedom. It is really the nation’s struggle to free itself from the clutches of the American eagle, as it tries to control in our country even the newest form of mass media, the Internet, which probably would become the most dominant media influencing public opinion.

Liar
In response to former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go’s potshot at an unnamed critic, who he said had the gall to criticize President Rodrigo Duterte even if the person wasn’t a Philippine citizen, Ressa tweeted: “Pilipino po — at hindi po tinatago … unlike the fantasies of your minions. Have never hidden my dual nationality. And since I reclaimed my PH citizenship in 2004, I enter & exit the PH getting both passports stamped.”

While she made the tweet a day after my column revealing her US citizenship, Ressa most probably hadn’t read my detailed exposé on her, and therefore thought she could fool people. Her tweet is a total lie.

First, as any dual citizen would know, a traveler can have only one passport stamped here or any port of entry in the world. You might even be arrested if you show two passports indicating your different nationalities in some countries.

Second, and more importantly, my sources had disclosed that since she became a citizen shortly after her family migrated in 1973 to the US, she has been using four US passports, religiously renewing each one after it expired after 10 years. Out of her 500 arrivals and departures in the Philippines, she used a Philippine passport only once — in 2004, after she got to be a Philippine citizen — suspiciously within a week, I was told, after the dual-citizenship law took effect that year.

Was it an expression of patriotism for her to get Filipino citizenship?

ABS-CBN sources claim that she was told by the network’s lawyers to better get Filipino citizenship fast as she was already working as its News Division head for a few months — without the required work permit for a foreigner. The network’s lawyers were also worried that somebody would file a suit as the Constitution not only bars foreign money in a media outfit, but also foreign managers.

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Archives at: www.rigobertotiglao.com

**The original copy of this article appeared in The Manila Times and was re-posted here with the authorization of the Author ***

Categories
Police Blotter Regional News

118 ARRESTED, 91 FIREARMS SIEZED IN VIOLATION OF COMELEC GUN BAN LAW IN REGION 1

118 ARRESTED, 91 FIREARMS SIEZED IN VIOLATION OF COMELEC GUN BAN LAW IN REGION 1

By Larry Madarang

CAMP BGEN OSCAR M FLORENDO –Authorities have arrested 118 persons and seized 91 firearms since  the implementation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban.

Chief Supt. Romeo Sapitula, regional director of the Police Regional Office-Ilocos Region (PRO-1) said, “the Region 1 police was able seized 91 assorted firearms composed of 20 pistol, 36 revolvers, 6 rifles, 4 shotguns and one light weapon, 11 improvised firearms and 14 firearm replicas. Other deadly weapons to include 13 bladed weapons, 26 grenade explosives and 660 ammunition were also confiscated.”

“The stern implementation of intensified police operations in collaboration with the COMELEC Rules and Regulations resulted in the arrest of persons and confiscation of firearms and other deadly weapons since January 13, 2019 to present,” Sapitula added.

Based on the data from the PRO1’s National Election Monitoring Action Center (NEMAC), 118 persons were arrested, broken down into 115 civilians and 3 government officials and employees.

Sapitula, said the arrested persons were collared through checkpoint operations, buy-bust and police response, Oplan SITA and Oplan BAKAL.

Meanwhile, Sapitula encouraged firearm holders to surrender their firearms to the nearest police station in their location for safekeeping.  He also calls for the continuous conduct of police operations in striving safe and secure National Election 2019 which will be conducted on May 13, 2019. — (With reports from PRO-1)

 

Categories
Business Regional News

ELECTRIC COOPS PROTEST PHASE OUT MOVE

by : Ramon Dacawi

BAGUIO CITY — The country’s electric cooperatives came out last Feb. 14 in protest over a recent recommendation  of Energy Secretay Alfonso Cusi to revoke the franchises of 17 ailing coops “without undergoing due process”.

Here, the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco), one of the most successful energy distributors in the country, staged motorcades in the simultaneous “Valentine’s Day Protest” over what they perceive as a move towards eventually allowing private capitalists to gobble up viable cooperatives.

“While said recommendation was withdrawn by Secretary Cusi days after its submission, electric cooperatives were once again placed under public scrutiny and caused damage to the movement’s public image,” noted general manager Janeene Depay Colingan of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca).

Philreca claimed Cusi’s endorsement letter to the House of Representatives and the DOE statement were meant “to manipulate the mindset of the public for them to think that the electric cooperatives are not performing well. And with this comes the justification for the entry of private, for-profit and zero-experience corporations”.

ELECTRIC COOPS PROTEST PHASE OUT MOVE
Members of the Multi-Sectoral Electrification Advisory Council, together with the BENECO employees and officers, gather at the BENECO headquarters to show their full support to PHILRECA. (Beneco Photo)

he “Black Valentine Protest” was anchored on “magnifying the protest of the electric cooperatives over the discriminatory treatment of the DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi towards the electric cooperatives by proposing the cancellation/revocation of the franchise of the 17 electric cooperatives that will eventually lead to a precedence of revocation of other electric coops and be evaded by the private businessmen.”

Wearing black, electric coop employees heightened the dismay of member-consumer-owners against DOE Secretary Alfonso Gaba Cusi who is expected to supposedly to be the father and defender of the electric cooperatives and electrification program but turned out to be the opposite.”

The protest action was also meant to heighten the dismay of member-consumer-owners against Cusi for giving more favor and courtesy to the private businessmen who are interested over the operation of the electric cooperatives.

The threat of big, private corporations to buy out electric cooperatives has also prompted the Beneco towards registering with the Cooperatives Development Authority as a true cooperative, thereby shielding it from being bought by private and profit-oriented companies.

Through the efforts of its general manager Gerardo Verzosa, its board led by Rocky Aliping and employees, Beneco turned out to be one of the most viable electric cooperatives in the country today.

 

Categories
Benguet Cordillera Regional News

CONVERGENCE IS AT WORK IN SEA TEACHERS PROGRAM

“CONVERGENCE as defined by many authors is actually coming into one or togetherness for quality practices. With the sharing of our mentors, with all your lessons learned and your reflections, we could say that you have shared your best and you have gained the best from Benguet State University.”

This was according to Alexandra S. Sad-ang addressing the second batch of SEA Teachers accommodated in the University from January 9 to February 1, 2019. Sad-ang is the CTE faculty in charge of this year’s SEA Teachers. The SEA-Teachers project refers to the Pre-Service Teachers Exchange in Southeast Asia by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). The project generally aims to provide opportunity for pre-service student teachers from universities in Southeast Asia to have teaching experiences or practicum in other Southeast Asian countries and gain a broader regional and world view of education.

BSU accommodated nine pre-service interns. The interns from Indonesia are: Khairun Nisa of the University of Lampung; Agnevianty Vida Palupi and Yunika Cahya of the Islamic University of Indonesia; Imam Taufiq and Nadia Ayu Refani Putri of the Universitas Negeri Padang; and Fitri Kurnia Dewi and Siti Aminah of the Universitas Ahmad Dahlan while the interns from Thailand are Intira Seethi and Piyaphon Pinthong of Chiang Rai Ratjaphat University. While these interns are the second batch of SEA Teachers accommodated by BSU, they belong to the 7th Batch deployed by SEAMEO.

For their stay in BSU, the nine pre-service interns taught Physics, Economics, English and Biology. They were mentored by Rachel K. Maguen and Yvonne B. Tabdi of the Elementary Laboratory School and Ariston B. Canayon, Imee C. Cuadra, Agustin R. Nang-is and Cecilia B. Samonte of the Secondary Laboratory School. Selected CTE students were assigned to the interns as “buddies” while Supreme Student Government officers came up with activities that exposed the interns to Filipino culture.

“BSU students really respect us, they know we are still learning (studying) but they treat us like real teachers,” Siti Aminah, one of the interns said in an interview recalling how surprised she was when students would stand up and greet her good morning.

The interns described BSU students as polite, participative, open-minded, kind, friendly and excellent. They shared how the BSU students would try to reach out to them despite their not-so-fluent English. Piyaphon Pinthong shared how students made him learn a few more English words while Intira Seethe found them very helpful like when they assist in setting up the LCD projector.

A send-off program for the interns was held on February 1, 2019 at the Strawberry Hall. During the send-off program, one of their mentors, Imee C. Cuadra lauded the interns’ heart and passion in teaching.

“I was really impressed with your batch for preparing so much. We only gave instructions and what surprised us is you do not even depend on your buddies. Our pupils wanted to come and see you, meaning the attachment is there–they love you already,” she said.

Cecilia Samonte, CTE-SLS mentor praised their efforts to overcome the language barrier with smiles and gestures.

“They observed the class then acquainted and familiarized themselves with the students at once. They maximized the use of powerpoint presentations; they are respectful, humble, generous and patient,” Samonte added.

Aside from keychains and wonderful memories, the interns said that they will bring home the teaching methods that their mentors shared with them such as the volcano activity, presentations and role-playing. They also spoke of sharing bits of Philippine literature to their students back in their countries.

“I hope that you were able to develop your teaching skills and pedagogy and we really hope that your buddies or counterparts also have learned from you as far as teaching skills are concerned,” said CTE Dean Imelda G. Parcasio.//JSTabangcura

Categories
Baguio City Cordillera Regional News Sports

PNG ATHLETES RECEIVE ADDITIONAL INCENTIVES

PNG ATHLETES RECEIVE ADDITIONAL INCENTIVES

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY — Seventy one athletes and coaches instrumental in the city’s second-place finish in the 2018 Philippine National Games received their additional cash incentives last Wednesday.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan and City Sports and Recreation Division head Gaudencio Gonzales handed over the monetary reward amounting to P10,000 for gold, P5,000 for silver and P3,000 for bronze medalists.

He thanked the athletes for giving honor to the city and encouraged them to continue striving and realizing the benefits of sports activities.
Gonzales said the additional incentive that totaled P1.157 million doubled the amount of cash rewards received by the athletes.

The regular incentive mandated by a city ordinance was released last year.

The additional incentive came from the P8 million cash prize given to PNG winners by the Philippine Sports Commission as part of its grassroots sports promotion.

The grant of the extra benefits to the athletes was decided in a resolution approved by the City Sports Program Development Council (CSPDC) which the mayor heads.

Domogan said the rest of the amount will be used to procure sports equipment and materials for use of the athletes in their trainings.

The Philippine National Games (PNG) officially known as the POC-PSC Games is a national multi-sport tournament in the Philippines to select the national pool athletes who will compete in international tournaments such as the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.
The 2018 PNG was held in May 19-25 co-hosted by the City of Cebu and the Province of Cebu.

Meanwhile, Batang Pinoy athletes will also receive their additional cash reward soon from the P3 million prize for topping the finals held last year in the city.

Unlike the PNG, the incentive will amount to P3,000 for the gold, P2,000 for the silver and P1,000 for the bronze medalists.

Categories
Business Features

SEAWEED SPECIES MAY HAVE ANTICANCER BENEFITS, STUDY SAYS

SEAWEED SPECIES MAY HAVE ANTICANCER BENEFITS, STUDY SAYS
Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez, lead researcher on pukpuklo, talks about the study during the symposium on The Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna. (Photos from Val Zabala, DOST-NRCP)

By Geraldine B. Ducusin, DOST-STII

Researchers from the University of Santo Tomas found that polysaccharides extracted from Codium species, locally known as “pukpuklo” (a seasonally-available seaweed), are effective against cancer cells and destructive enzymes associated with cancer metastasis.

The researchers, headed by Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez, evaluated the inhibitory potential of the polysaccharides fractions isolated from Codium species. They found that the seaweed fights destructive enzymes that aid metastasis or spread of cancer to different parts of the body.

Polysaccharides are carbohydrates such as starch, cellulose, or glycogen whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. This kind of carbohydrates are used by the body in storing energy, sending cellular messages, or for providing support to cells and tissues.

Aside from its potential anticancer benefits, pukpuklo has also been evaluated for its effect on the skin. Dr. Vasquez said that it induced healthy skin growth and promoted faster healing of rat’s skin that was exposed to UVB radiations.

Their next target of study is possible cosmeceutical application or formulation of anti-aging compound from pukpuklo. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products with bioactive ingredients purported to have medical benefits.

The Codium species were collected in Ilocos Norte, Aklan, Iloilo, and Cagayan province. Pukpuklo, a favorite Ilokano dish, is known as a good source of dietary fiber, amino acids, and minerals. However, little is known about its medicinal value and further studies have yet to be conducted to explore its use in the field of medicine.

Studying the Philippines’ flora and fauna
The Codium research was among the six completed projects that were presented at the symposium on “The Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna”, organized by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP).

Dr. Irene V. Fariñas of the Department of Health (DOH), who was among the panel of reactors in the symposium, said that the DOH welcomes this potential drug discovery. This basic research on Codium as potential inhibitor of tumor growth, could possibly lead to the development of low cost alternative to commercial drugs for the treatment of cancer.

At the event’s opening ceremony, DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara mentioned that the third wave of research is setting in. The first was when research was mostly confined to teaching research, relegated to the centers of excellence. The second was when research was peer-centric, when getting published from standard publications was the “in” thing. The third wave is now, when research is measured by its relevance to society.

“Researchers, do not be afraid to translate your work into what’s good for the society,” Usec. Guevara addressed the symposium participants.

She added that the Philippine biodiversity is vast and the country’s local species are being studied by foreigners. “We lack researchers who can study our own biodiversity,” she emphasized.

Meanwhile, Dr. Christine C. Hernandez, associate professor at the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines Diliman, commended the government especially DOST-NRCP for its efforts in championing research and development. She said that the funding support from government agencies like the DOST-NRCP enables them in the academe to support the work of their students. It also enables them to encourage more of their students to work for them and hopefully to inspire them to pursue PhD degrees, she added.

Dr. Vasquez also acknowledged that current funding enabled their two graduate students to complete their graduate thesis at UST.

DOST-NRCP also funded the innovative researches presented in the symposium which are important inputs to policy development, especially in terms of sustaining and protecting the country’s biodiversity. These basic researches on natural resources are vital not only to the local pharmaceutical industry, but for the country’s socioeconomic development, as a whole.

Categories
Opinion

THE TRUTH ABOUT RESSA AND HER VILIFICATION OF DUTERTE

By Rigoberto D. Tiglao

IF not for Maria Ressa and Rappler’s vilification campaign against President Duterte and the Philippines, and her success in getting foreign media entities to portray her as a heroine of press freedom, her journalism career would have crashed years ago.

Ressa is, therefore, unlikely to give up her portrayal of herself as a victim of the suppression of the press in a country which, she says, has a media that has been cowed.

In the description of her by Rappler and other foreign award-giving sites, she is portrayed as a distinguished journalist who has been given more than seven awards by international media outfits, including one as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

This were all given only in 2018 after Ressa, with the help of Yellow forces, managed to portray internationally as instances of Duterte’s alleged authoritarianism the actions of two state agencies in upholding our rule of law.

First, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ruling that it had violated the constitutional ban on foreign money in media. And second, the National Bureau of Investigation decided to pursue a private citizens’ libel charge against Ressa.

That is, in just a year of her efforts in portraying the Philippines as under authoritarian rule, Ressa got at least seven awards and international acclaim (or sympathy). In contrast, she couldn’t get a single such award in her 16 years with CNN.

(The Wikipedia entry on Ressa reports that she received an Overseas Press Club Award for Best Documentary and the National Headliner Award for Investigative Journalism, presumably before 2018. The two awards’ websites, though, do not report her receiving such honors.)

Three elephants
I had admired Ressa for her audacity in going into broadcast media which, especially in the US, has three elephants in their news studios, which would have quickly trampled her.

First is its bias against non-whites. Second is the bias for staff whose physical features conform to Anglo-Saxon notions of beauty. And third is the bias against women. A cursory research makes this point obvious. CNN has about 200 anchors and correspondents. How many are black females? Two. How many of Asian descent? Three. How many aren’t Anglo-Saxon lookers? None.

This is not my opinion but the result of numerous scholarly studies on US media and its biases. US media outfits’ rush to defend Ressa, I suspect, is an instance of their hypocrisy and their collective guilt for their bigotry.

Ressa managed to stay long at CNN because a major concern of US and its media minions had emerged: The outbreak of Islamic terrorism in the Philippines and in Indonesia. CNN exploited her: Ressa’s looks and her family links in the two countries (one parent is Indonesian, I was told, but cannot confirm) made it easy for her to access sources among terrorists and government.

Despite her coverage though, the three elephants in CNN’s news studios eventually got to kick her out. I was told that she was given that “resign-or-be-fired” kind of message by CNN early in 2003, when she was Jakarta bureau chief. And she thought she could be CNN’s next Christiane Amanpour, her career idol. Did you notice that CNN as an institution didn’t issue a statement in support of its former staff?

Resign or be fired
ABS-CBN recruited her in 2004 to head its news division, the idea of its president then, a purportedly marketing genius, Freddie Garcia, who argued that Ressa would give the oligarch-owned station the “CNN sheen” of excellence. Chairman Gabby Lopez was said to have been delighted that he would be seen as the Philippines’ Ted Turner.

Ressa, though, proved to be a big headache for Lopez, insiders in the network reported. (See for instance https://www.thedailysentry.net/2018/10/a-scandalous-mess-that-maria-ressa-of.html?m=1)

Did you notice that neither ABS-CBN, nor its media bigwigs like its president Charo Santos, Luchi Cruz-Valdes, Karen Davila and Charie Villa have spoken a word in defense of their former colleague, a “kabaro” at that? Yellow leader Mar Roxas – if not for his wife Korina Sanchez – would have raised a howl over Ressa’s “persecution,” but didn’t.

All these women despised Ressa, for various reasons, and bugged Lopez to fire her. Many in the network, even Lopez’s conservative relatives, were allegedly also scandalized over Ressa’s open lesbian relationship with Lilibeth Frondoso — married but separated — who became some kind of power in the network because of her closeness to the controversial news head. Gabby’s mestizo executives and friends incessantly asked him: “Are you really comfortable with Ressa being the face of ABS-CBN?”

Gabby Lopez, I was told by insiders, got the excuse to give Ressa the “resign-or-be-fired” message when he got undeniable proof that she was moonlighting, that is, giving interviews, for a fee, on Philippine developments with CNN and other US media outfits (whom she would later tap to raise a howl against the libel charge against her). Her services to ABS-CBN were exclusive, according to her contract.

End of career
That would have been the end of Ressa’s career in broadcast media. The Philippine broadcast industry is a small, gossipy world, and no other media enterprise — even Manuel Pangilinan’s new Channel 5 to whom she sent feelers to join — would take her in. Al-Jazeera, which had been pirating CNN broadcasters, was run by British executives and had the same three elephants of bigotry in their studies.

While her work in covering terrorists in the Philippines and Indonesia got her to be a consultant in academic and intelligence institutions in the US, her expertise in Islamic jihad became gradually doubted because of her exaggeration of the extent of the network of the Islamist jihadists in Southeast Asia, and her conclusion that these were all directed by al-Qaeda.

For instance, in her 2012 book Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center,” Ressa claimed that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was really a part of al-Qaeda, and that its Camp Abubakr was a sprawling training camp for the Bin Laden terrorist group.

She even stridently criticized former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for undertaking peace talks with the insurgent groups, and even reported claims that her military sold arms to the MILF. In a self-serving way since she had covered two countries in the region that had Muslim terrorists, Ressa’s thesis was that Southeast Asia — because Indonesia had the biggest Muslim population while the Philippines was weak in fighting terrorists — would be the center of Islamic jihad in the world.

Obviously, subsequent events — the peace agreement with the MILF and the decline of al-Qaeda as well as Bin Laden’s killing — made Ressa’s expertise passé, if not inaccurate. The US and the West’s main concern became the rise of the Islamic State, which was far, far beyond Ressa’s world of Southeast Asian jihadists. Her narrow field of expertise in journalism, Islamic jihad in Southeast Asia, became useless.

Devastating
That would have been the end of Ressa’s journalistic career, which would have been devastating for her immense ego described by those who have worked with her, compensated for her diminutive size and looks.

She found a new career when the Benigno Aquino 3rd camp, after he assumed power in 2010, had the brilliant idea of setting up a news website to control the emerging world of social media, and to form a tag team with the Philippine Daily Inquirer the Yellows had their thumbs on.

The plan became urgent when Aquino decided to undertake the unprecedented project of removing the Chief Justice, Renato Corona. It was his clan’s last-resort move to control the Supreme Court so it would rule that the agrarian-reform compensation for his clan’s Hacienda Luisita would be P10 billion, not the P200 million the Agrarian Reform department calculated it should be.

Rappler officially went online Jan. 1, 2012, a few days before Corona’s impeachment trial started, with even its first major story — symbolically? — a false one that claimed that the chief justice cheated to get his PhD, which is still posted by the website.

As my colleague Yen Makabenta wrote yesterday: “Rappler served as cheerleader for every sordid turn in the impeachment trial up to the very end; it said nothing when the prosecution was caught manufacturing evidence, and when Aquino was exposed in his bribery of the senator-jurors.”

Vicious, false articles
Rappler competed in posting having vicious, false articles that demonized Corona with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

It was, in fact, Rappler’s enthusiasm in vilifying Corona to justify its existence to its Yellow overlords that got it into trouble

It reported in May 2012 that Corona was using an SUV owned by a Filipino businessmen involved in “human trafficking and drug smuggling.” Of course, that angered the businessmen so much he has pursued a libel case against Rappler.

Ressa has cried to the world that it was just Duterte wanting to suppress Rappler.

Given its huge technology expenses to build a big audience in cyberspace and its above-industry salaries for Ressa and his gang, Rappler got to the brink of bankruptcy, especially when the Yellows lost power in 2016. The Yellows had difficulties bankrolling it either covertly or overtly such as through contracts with the Tourism department. (Because of its success in portraying Duterte as an authoritarian though, Rappler appears to have been recently infused with new Yellow money: Its two new board directors were with Cory Aquino’s high officials, Solita Monsod and Fulgencio Factoran.)

An American, Ressa tapped her contacts with the help of Yellow supporters in New York, and got two US outfits, Omidyar Network and North Base Media to invest P100 million in the website to save it from going under.

SEC ruling
As an American, Ressa probably had never read the Philippine Constitution with its ban on foreigners in media, or she had such a culture of impunity that she thought she could ignore the laws of this puny nation. The Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that, indeed, Rappler was in violation of the Constitution and must be dissolved.

Ressa panicked and claimed first, that the foreign money was donated to its managers. When that proved impossible (the managers told her they couldn’t pay for the taxes for such gifts), she claimed that the investments were in the form of securities, the kind PLDT and ABS-CBN use to go around the constitutional ban on foreign money in media.

Oops! The Bureau of Internal Revenue read about her explanation, studied it for months, and ruled that Rappler’s issuance of securities generated capital gains, which, therefore, must be taxed. Rappler evaded such payment of P133 million in taxes, the BIR concluded. The Justice department had to agree with the BIR and filed a tax evasion case against Ressa and her executives.

Ressa cried to the world that she is being persecuted. Ressa has vilified her country of birth for her egoistic ambitions.

American media are automatically biased against a Third World leader who doesn’t pay obeisance to the US, and after all, this puny country is not that important to fact-check the lies a fellow American tells them.

**The original copy of this article appeared in The Manila Times and was re-posted here with the authorization of the Author ***

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