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  • Paje seeks greater cooperation to achieve inclusive development in AP region

    Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje on Sunday called for greater cooperation among 21 member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to unlock the full potential of the so-called “blue economy” and achieve inclusive growth in the region.

    “We envision a regional cooperation to narrow the gap in economic development of our economies while sustaining growth with equity,” Paje said in his opening remarks during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy at the Iloilo International Convention Center in Iloilo City.

    DENR Sec. Ramon J.P. Paje

    The forum, scheduled from October 4-5 is co-hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture.

    Paje underscored the need to narrow the economic gap among APEC nations, noting that the region currently “comprise economies at varying levels in the development spectrum.”

    “There is a need for us to cooperate and address this wide economic gap,” the environment chief pointed out.

    Paje said the two-day forum provides “an opportunity to discuss concrete and feasible actions to advance sustainable management and conservation of our coastal and marine ecosystems and habitats, as well as improved biodiversity to support higher fisheries productivity and provide better ecological services.”

    He said the focus of the meeting is anchored on one of the four priority themes of the host country of this year’s APEC meetings, the Philippines, which is “Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities.”
    This specific theme, he explained, contributes toward the three other themes, namely: the enhancing of regional economic agenda, fostering the participation of small and medium enterprises in regional and global markets, and supporting and investing in human resources.

    “We firmly believe that these initiatives will expand our efforts in making the theme of the host economy APEC Philippines 2015 ‘Building inclusive economies, building a better world’ a reality,” Paje said.

    Paje stated further that harnessing the blue economy is most important in the Asia Pacific considering that the region’s marine resources account for two-thirds of the world’s capture fishery production and 80 percent of the world’s aquaculture production, making them vital in achieving food security.

    He said an important way of sustaining and even improving the productivity of our oceans is “improving the biodiversity of coastal and marine ecosystems” as healthy ecosystems “support higher fisheries production and provides better ecological services such as their important contribution to regulate climate and to disaster risk reduction.”

    “If we have healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, we can develop our brand of ‘Blue Economy’ defined as an approach to advance sustainable management and conservation of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems and sustainable development, in order to foster economic growth,” Paje stressed.

    The APEC dialogue aims to produce a plan of action that would keep the coastal and marine ecosystems resiliency and ensure sustainable food supply chains. The action plan tackles three priority areas: resilient oceans and coastal resources; fish loss production; and agri-business development.

    “The plan of action has undergone several revisions from the important and valuable comments and suggestions from different member economies. I express hope and confidence that the proposed Plan of Action of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy will be adopted at the end of this meeting,” he added. (PNA/DENR)

  • Survivors tell of fleeing a hospital in flames

    The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group’s Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the “sustained bombing” took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The lucky ones heard the first explosions and hobbled, stumbled or were carried by doctors and nurses to one of the hospital bunkers.

    The less fortunate, the patients, some wounded in previous fighting and too feeble to move, along with the doctors and nurses who were treating them, had no time.

    “The patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds,” said Heman Nagarathnam, the head of programs for Doctors Without Borders in northern Afghanistan.

    Over the next hour, witnesses said, what unfolded was a relentless air assault that put patients, doctors and the Kunduz hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders at the center of a bull’s-eye, leaving no possibility of escape.

    The bombing began at 2:08 a.m. and continued until 3:15, Nagarathnam said. “The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle around,” he added. “There was a pause, and then more bombs hit.

    “The main hospital building was engulfed in flames,” he said.

    For Najeebullah, 38, a resident of Kunduz City, the bombing seemed part of a nightmare that would not end. It had started two days earlier when he attempted to move his family of five children, ages 3 to 12, and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law from one side of the city to the other.

    An aircraft, apparently targeting some Taliban nearby, hit his vehicle. His 9-year-old son, Muheeb-ul-Rahman, and his 7-year-old son, Fawad, were killed instantly, his three other children were wounded and he took them to the Doctors Without Borders hospital.

    Two of his children were discharged, but his son Waheedullah, 4, had abdominal wounds as well as back injuries so Najeebullah stayed with him in a makeshift shipping container the hospital was using for the overflow of patients wounded in the fighting in Kunduz, which by Friday had been going on for five days.

    As he sat near his son who was being examined by medical staff, “there was a horrifying sound, then a massive explosion, that turned everyone fearful,” he said.

    “A war jet targeted the building close to us where the doctors perform surgeries. Everyone ran here and there without even knowing where they were going.”

    After the first blast, some 20 more followed, he said. “Everyone believed it was his last day on earth. There was blood and bodies scattered everywhere. Many of them were doctors, Afghans, whom I had seen in my last two days at the hospital.”

    Of the 19 killed in the attacks, 12 were hospital staff members, among them four Afghan doctors, according to eyewitnesses.

    One of the slain, Dr. Ehsan Usmani, seemed to have sensed things were getting worse, and on Friday evening posted a desperate message on his Facebook page, cursing Afghanistan’s leaders for allowing the security situation to deteriorate into a war.

    “A thousand curses on you Ashraf Ghani and Stanekzai that you bloodied and covered in dust the people of Kunduz with your blind bombings,” he wrote, referring to the Afghan president and Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, the minister of defense. The Afghan military has also been using helicopter airstrikes to target the Taliban, but sometimes misses and hits civilians.

    “Spit, spit, spit, spit on your faces,” Usmani wrote and then, more desperately: “Hey people, share this message that since this afternoon the bombers of the dirty and unclean government have been killing, maiming and wounding the innocent people of Kunduz.”

    Eight hours later, he was dead, according to colleagues at Doctors Without Borders.

    The personnel who survived tried to help those wounded in the bombing, and set up a makeshift operating theater. Some patients were transferred to the regional hospital, others to a neighboring provincial hospital.

    By nightfall, though, there were hardly any medical workers left at the regional hospital; they had fled in fear.

    “The entire system has broken,” said Saad Mukhtar, director of public health for Kunduz province. “Everyone tries to save himself or herself.” Mukhtar said medicines were on the way, but added, “Who can use them, when there is no system, no doctors, no nurses, what even can we do when the medicines get there?

    “There has been a tragedy, even worse than a tragedy, in Kunduz.”

  • Emotional Valdez says loss will serve as inspiration to Ateneo
    Usually beaming, Alyssa Valdez found it hard to be in a bright mood on Sunday. Valdez had no reason to smile, not after the Lady Eagles yielded the Shakey's V-League championship to the National University Lady Bulldogs despite holding a 1-0 series lead. A distraught Valdez, with her bubbly personality bursted following the straight-sets loss, said that Ateneo lacked "a little bit of everything." Valdez also stressed that the Lady Eagles have "no excuses" for the loss. The superstar spiker, who was very emotional after the defeat, also believes that the Lady Eagles will learn from the losing experience. "This will be an inspiration for us,"said Valdez as she tries her best to flas...

    Keep on reading: Emotional Valdez says loss will serve as inspiration to Ateneo
  • 2 fatalities due to TS ‘Kabayan’


    DESTRUCTIVE ‘KABAYAN’ – A resident proceeds to clear a felled narra tree, red sandalwood, which landed on top of this house in Barangay Zabali in Baler, Aurora, after typhoon ‘Kabayan’ made landfall at 1 a.m. yesterday and left a track of destruction in its wake. (Ariel P. Avendano)

    By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan, PNA

    Two people in the province of Nueva Ecija and Aurora became the casualties during the onslaught of tropical storm “Kabayan”, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) in Region 3 said.

    In its bulletin, RDRRMC identified the casualties as Raquel Camilo, 57, of Barangay Luzsok, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija who died due to snakebite while Samuel Corcoro, 29 of Barangay Debuco, Maria Aurora province, who died due to drowning.

    For its part, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Council (NDDRMC) also reported two persons were injured in Region 1 while 63 persons missing in Region 1 and 3, of which 31 were already rescued.

    The NDRRMC said that “Kabayan” has affected 4,565 families or 22.368 people in the provinces of La Union, Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales.

    Of these, some 1,391 families or 6,480 people were staying in seven evacuation centers.

    A total of 50 barangays are still flooded in provinces of Pangasina, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.

    Damage to property and agriculture was estimated at Php 1,120,716.59 in the provinces of Pangasinan (Php 4,101.34) and Aurora (Php 1,116,615.25).

    A total of 131 houses were damaged (27 total and 104 partially) in Region 3.

    It added that total cost of government assistance for the affected families has reached Php 685,210 worth of relief goods and medicines were provided for affected families in the provinces of Aurora, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. 

  • Regus launches one-stop service for mobile workers

    Workplace provider Regus has launched a new suite of tools for professionals working on the go. The new Only@Regus package includes access to 18 million WiFi hotspots and new tools for Regus customers to find workspaces and meeting rooms wherever they’re working.

    A headline benefit of the Only@Regus package is the Global Connect tool. This offers customers bundled access to a network of 18 million WiFi hotspots. The network covers 120 countries and territories and includes hotels, restaurants, convention centers, trains, airports and planes.

    Global Connect means Regus customers can get online and stay productive worldwide, saving money on mobile data roaming with one click, without having to log in or share personal details.

    The Only@Regus package is easily accessible through the MyRegus mobile app and online booking platform, offering access to the entire Regus global network of over 2,300 locations in 106 countries. MyRegus allows people to find and book space for themselves or their team, check availability of workspaces or get directions to the nearest Regus center, all at the click of a mouse or swipe of a touchscreen.

    Other elements of the package – all designed to boost the flexibility and productivity of customers from sole traders to multinationals – include:

    • Entry to over 700 airport lounges worldwide, all airside, helping travelers to work efficiently and in comfort right up until their flight is called
    • Preferential rates on services from car hire to stationery, using the online via Regus Marketplace
    • Instant access to Regus workspaces worldwide via a virtual membership card on their phone
    • Access to the full Regus network of 2000 locations with unlimited access to lounge or café area, internet connection, self-serve tea and coffee
    • Discounts on Meeting Rooms, Videoconferencing, Day office and Co-work office
    • Networking and Events

    Lars Wittig, country manager at Regus Philippines said: “We are continually developing the Regus platform to provide convenience and productivity to mobile workers to keep abreast of new technological possibilities and their own needs.


  • Pope Francis opens synod on family

    Pope Francis leads a mass for the opening of the synod on the family on October 4, 2015 at St Peter’s basilica in Vatican. Pope Francis opened a gathering of bishops intended to review Catholic teaching on the family against a backdrop of controversy over homosexuality. The church’s second synod on the family opened in a tense atmosphere the day after a senior priest announced he was gay and accused the Vatican of “institutionalised homophobia”. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI

    Vatican City, Holy See | AFP – Pope Francis on Sunday opened a gathering of bishops intended to review Catholic teaching on the family against a backdrop of controversy over homosexuality.

    The church’s second synod on the family opened in a tense atmosphere the day after a senior priest announced he was gay and accused the Vatican of “institutionalised homophobia”.

  • LTFRB hotline number should be in the body of all PUVs, says exec


    (MB File photo) A line of taxis await passengers at a mall terminal in Quezon City. (Michael Varcas)

    By Azer N. Parrocha

    All public utility vehicles (PUVs), including Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS), should have the new Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) hotline number “1342” marked on the vehicles’ bodies, a transport official said on Sunday.

    LTFRB board member Atty. Ariel Inton made the statement after an Uber driver allegedly exhibited “arrogance” and made “threat to the life of a passenger” in an incident which happened last Sept. 24.

    Uber, which is listed under the TNVS transport category, was also summoned to attend a hearing at the LTFRB main office on Oct. 6 together with the driver involved in the case.

    “If we really want to protect the riding public, TNVS should also have the hotline (number) on the body of their unit very visible,” Inton told the Philippines News Agency in a phone interview.

    Inton pointed out that although TNVS operators usually withdrew their unit from public use after two to three years, it only makes sense to comply with Board regulations.

    “The marking should be in the body, 24 hours a day. There must be no special treatment,” he added.

    At present, the Board has not clarified if TNVS are also required to have the LTFRB hotline number marked on its peers’ units.

    Inton said that the Memorandum Circular requiring all registered PUV operators nationwide to change the current numbers posted on their units with the new hotline number has yet to be issued.

    ”I’m 100 percent for the hotline but it should be 100 percent applied to all PUVs. Since all passengers and the public are to be protected wherever and whenever they are. Hence, TNVS must bear the hotline markings as well,” the LTFRB Board member said.

    To recall, the LTFRB hotline number, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is the same number for every region nationwide, unlike the old hotline number which varied depending on the region’s location.

    Callers using PLDT lines and those using Smart, Talk ‘n Text, and Sun lines within and outside Metro Manila need to dial “1342,”, while postpaid Globe/TM callers within and outside Metro Manila need to dial “1342.” Prepaid Globe/TM callers and all Globe lines within and outside Metro Manila need to dial “(02) 1342.”

    A text hotline works the same way but with the added feature of being able to send photos and videos of incident reports and the like through messaging app, Viber at 0917-550-1342 for Globe and TM subscribers or 0998-550-1342 for Smart, Talk ‘n Text and Sun users.

    The hotline was also activated to address concerns on road safety, provide assistance on pending applications, provide information on services rendered by the Board, and answer queries on application requirements as well as clarify existing and proposed policies of the Board.

  • Mar-Leni tandem to be announced Monday—LP stalwarts
    Liberal Party (LP) solons have confirmed that Camarines Sur Representative Ma. Leonor "Leni" Robredo is the administration party's vice presidential bet in the 2016 elections.   In separate text messages, LP Vice Chair and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Laguna Representative Dan Fernandez said that the announcement of Robredo's vice presidential bid will take place on Monday at Club Filipino in San Juan City.   "I think that is our agenda--to proclaim her (Robredo) as our vice presidential candidate," Belmonte said.   Fernandez said that the announcement of Robredo's vice presidential bid is "a sure thing."   "Tomorrow, the LP wil...

    Keep on reading: Mar-Leni tandem to be announced Monday—LP stalwarts
  • Gabriela mulls raps vs Tolentino, Agarao for girls’ lewd dance during LP event
    A women's rights group is looking at filing charges against Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino and Laguna Rep. Benjie Agarao for allowing to continue the "lewd and indecent" show last week, which coincided with a Liberal Party event in the province, despite the presence of children in the audience. Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said on Sunday that Tolentino and Agarao clearly violated the Magna Carta of Women when they "condoned" the acts of the trio Playgirls, who performed sexy dances onstage and hosted parlor games filled with sexual innuendos, during the Laguna lawmaker's birthday celebration on Thursday. "If you condone these activities, you're...

    Keep on reading: Gabriela mulls raps vs Tolentino, Agarao for girls’ lewd dance during LP event
  • Free LRT, MRT, and PNR rides for the elderly


    (MB File) MRT along EDSA Kamuning in Quezon City. (Mark Balmores)

    Senior citizens who took the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 (LRT 1 and 2), Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3), and Philippine National Railways (PNR) were able to avail of free rides on Sunday (Oct. 4).

    According to the Official Gazette, the free rides are given as the country celebrates the Elderly Filipino Week from Oct. 1 to 7.

    Elderly Filipino Week is mandated through Presidential Proclamation No. 470 and is held annually on the first week of October.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) currently continues to advocate for the strict implementation of Republic Act No. 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, which provides more benefits and privileges to older persons.

    They are entitled to a 20 percent discount on the purchase of certain goods and services, special five percent discount on prime commodities and basic necessities, and a five percent utility discount on electric and water consumption.

    LRT Line 1 plies the stretch from Baclaran in Parañaque City to Roosevelt Ave., Quezon City, while Line 2 runs from Recto Ave. in Manila to Santolan in Pasig City.

    On the other hand, MRT 3 runs from Taft Ave. in Pasay City to North Ave. in Quezon City.

  • Ex-SC chief justice: Let people decide on Poe’s bid for presidency
    It should be left to Filipino voters to decide in next year's presidential elections whether Sen. Grace Poe is a natural-born or naturalized Filipino citizen, a former chief justice thinks. Despite questions about her citizenship, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said Poe should be allowed to run in the May 2016 elections and that the people should pick the country's next president. Panganiban pointed out that election issues, not involving crimes or obvious violations of law, "should be settled by the voters, not by judges and lawyers." "I have always believed that doubts on legal issues involving elections and popular sovereignty should be resolved in favor of letti...

    Keep on reading: Ex-SC chief justice: Let people decide on Poe’s bid for presidency