Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Gerry Peñalosa warns Manny Pacquiao about Aussie champ

Manny Pacquiao
MANILA, Philippines — Former two-time world boxing champion Gerry Peñalosa said yesterday he wasn’t impressed by WBO welterweight titlist Jeff Horn’s recent 11th round stoppage of British challenger Gary Corcoran in Brisbane but warned Manny Pacquiao that in the event of a rematch, the Filipino icon must be 100 percent ready.

Horn had to shed 7.8 pounds in 24 hours to make the welterweight limit for the Pacquiao fight last July and cut down 8 pounds, also in 24 hours, for Corcoran. He’s been advised to relinquish the welterweight crown and move up to superwelterweight because of weight issues. But Horn said he won’t leave the 147-pound division at least until after defending against unified superlightweight ruler Terence Crawford for a $5 Million payday.

Horn was paid only $750,000 for halting Corcoran in the first defense of the WBO crown he wrested from Pacquiao. Only 4,000 fans watched the bout, a major slide from the attendance of 51,025 for the Pacquiao fight. Horn’s guaranteed another $750,000 for his next defense unless a promoter offers an upgrade. Pacquiao dangled a $3 Million invitation for a rematch in Manila but Horn refused, opting to face Corcoran instead for a much lower purse. Clearly, Horn wants nothing to do with Pacquiao.
Peñalosa said Horn’s only chance to beat Crawford is if the American tires out in the late rounds. “If the fight happens, I expect Crawford to start strong and go for an early knockout,” he said. “If Horn survives, Crawford could get tired and that will open an opportunity. It’s Horn’s style to run you over.”

Against Corcoran, Peñalosa said Horn tried to do what he did to Pacquiao. Twice, he threw down Corcoran. But Corcoran, who looked bigger, gave Horn plenty of trouble in the early going until he ran out of steam. With his face a bloody mess, Corcoran was defenseless when his corner threw in the towel. Peñalosa described Corcoran an ordinary fighter and Horn average. He said Horn appeared more confident against Corcoran than when he fought Pacquiao.

“If Manny fights Horn in a rematch, he has to be prepared,” said Peñalosa. “In their first fight, Manny almost knocked out Horn in the ninth round but after that, he was out of gas. I left the stadium when I saw Manny looking exhausted after the ninth and went to a restaurant where the fight was on TV. I couldn’t watch. Horn’s nothing special. But he’s younger and bigger than Manny. The only way Manny can beat Horn is if he has the stamina to go 12 rounds without tiring. That will mean taking time off from his duties at the Senate to train like he used to for his fights against (Oscar) De la Hoya, (Marco Antonio) Barrera and (Erik) Morales.”

Horn has been offered a $2 Million purse to face another Australian Anthony Mundine but he’s chasing Crawford to mark his Las Vegas debut. Pacquiao isn’t in his sights at the moment even if the price is more than right. Pacquiao hasn’t fought since losing to Horn. He’s hinting of returning to the ring in April, possibly in China. No opponent has been mentioned. It appears that Pacquiao will self-promote his next fight as his contract with Top Rank has expired.

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Serena Williams sorts out baby teething issues, hints at return

MOMMY PROBLEMS. Serena Williams solves baby problems while hinting on coming back for the 2018 Australian Open. File photo by Peter Parks/AFP

MIAMI, USA – Serena Williams says she has struggled with her baby daughter's teething pain even as she tweeted a photo hinting she might be working on a comeback to defend her Australian Open title.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world number one drew sympathetic replies to Sunday tweets about baby daughter Alexis Olympia's teething issues, complete with a photo. She posted another picture Monday, December 18, of an empty tennis court looking set up for the start of a workout.

The next Australian Open begins on January 15 in Melbourne, which would be barely beyond 4 months after Williams gave birth to her daughter on September 1.

Williams began her latest tweets on Sunday, December 17, with a plea for help on how to ease the torment of teething.

"Teething – aka the devil – is so hard," tweeted Williams. "Poor Alexis Olympia has been so uncomfortable. She cried so much (she never cries) I had to hold her until she fell asleep. I've tried amber beads...cold towels...chew on mommies fingers...homeopathic water (lol on that one) but......"

"Nothing is working. It's breaking my heart. I almost need my mom to come and hold me to sleep cause I'm so stressed. Help? Anyone??"

Among the advice she received – "try a wet washcloth for the baby let her chew it."

On Monday, there was no mention of teething, but a photo of the open court, a racquet bag leaning on a stool with towels and a bicycle nearby serving notice that Williams might have found a cure for herself with the next Grand Slam tournament only 4 weeks away.

Williams has said she intended to defend the crown she won earlier this year while unknowingly pregnant but has not confirmed any firm plans to play in Melbourne since the birth of her daughter. – Rappler.com

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DLSU Green Archers aim for UAAP Season 81 crown with Ayo

REBUILDING. The statement by the Green Archers shows that Aldin Ayo will be vital to rebuilding the team. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers will be aiming to regain the championship crown from the UAAP Season 80 champions, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, with current coach Aldin Ayo. (READ: Ateneo Blue Eagles are UAAP Season 80 champions)

In a statement on Wednesday, December 20, they said, management "is behind Coach Aldin Ayo and his staff" in fulfilling that promise.

This runs counter to rumors that Ayo will be filling in the shoes of University of Santo Tomas' former head coach Boy Sablan, who vacated the position during the UAAP Season 80 Final 4 playoffs.

Ayo also released a cryptic tweet on Friday, December 8, that said "Xroad". This fueled the speculations of him entering into a crossroad in making his decisions.

"Management is firmly behind Coach Aldin Ayo and his staff as we start the rebuilding process for the future," said the DLSU statement.

Although sources have confirmed Ayo's expression of recommitment to the school, there has been no formal contract renewal yet.

Rappler has reached out to Ayo regarding his intention to stay with DLSU, but there has been no reply as of posting time.

The DLSU statement also said, "While we fell short of attaining the title, we are humbled by the overwhelming responses of both Ateneo and DLSU in the way we accepted defeat in the spirit of sportsmanship with heads unbowed. We stand as a team to regroup and regain the crown next season."

The Green Archers also bade farewell to their graduating player Abu Tratter as he moves on in his basketball career after being drafted by PBA D-League team Marinerong Pilipino, along with University of the East's Alvin Pasaol and Ateneo's Vince Tolentino.

"We are saddened by the loss of Abu Tratter who has completed his years of UAAP eligibility and wish to thank him for his efforts in fighting to keep our glory bright."

According to the statement, the team will resume training on January 16, 2018 in preparation for their stint in the PCCL National Collegiate Championships that will be held on February 2 to 11, 2018. – Rappler.com

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Jason Pagara misses weight, loses by sixth-round TKO in Japan

KNOCKED OUT. Jason Pagara may be done as a world title contender after being stopped by Hiroki Okada in Japan. File photo by Ryan Songalia/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines - Jason Pagara suffered a one-two combination to his career on Tuesday night, December 19, missing weight by two and-a-half pounds before losing by sixth-round technical knockout to Hiroki Okada at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Pagara (40-3-1, 25 knockouts) was trailing 50-45 on all 3 cards when the fight was stopped 59 seconds into the sixth round, sending the 25-year-old boxer from the ALA Boxing stable to his first defeat in 6 years. It is a devastating setback for Pagara, who was pummeled in a split-decision draw against James Onyango 3 months ago after 10 months out of the ring.

Okada (17-0, 12 KOs) earned the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior welterweight title with the victory.

Inactivity had cost Pagara his No. 1 ranking with the World Boxing Organization for their 140-pound title, and saw him slide to the 8th rank in November's rankings. Now with the loss he'll likely slide further out of contention.

"It's about discipline to get the weight," said Pagara's trainer Edito Villamor, who said Pagara knew of this fight right after the Onyango draw.

Pagara's promoter Michael Aldeguer told Rappler that Pagara was supposed to fight in July but the fight didn't go through because he wasn't in shape.

"If he’s going to be fighting the world top rated ones, it’s going to be a disaster for him," Aldeguer said in September.

Duno returns on Linares-Gesta card

Lightweight prospect Romero Duno will be in action on the undercard of WBA lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares' title defense against Mercito Gesta. Duno (15-1, 13 KOs) of Tagum, Davao del Norte has been fighting under Golden Boy since knocking out their prospect Christian "Chimpa" Gonzalez in March, and has won two straight since then.

He'll fight an opponent to be named in a 10-rounder on the January 27 card at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Servania returns with 37-second KO win

Genesis Servania fought for the first time since his competitive loss to WBO featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez, stopping a still unknown Thai on Sunday, December 17 at Sangyo Hall in Kanazawa, Japan.

The name of the Thai opponent has not been listed on Boxrec, though a live video of the fight on Facebook shows Servania (30-1, 13 KOs) dropping the hapless foe with one left hook to the body for the count. – Rappler.com

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Turkey seeks to jail Knicks player Enes Kanter for insulting Erdogan

UNDER THREAT. Enes Kanter has claimed he routinely receives death threats for his criticism of Erdogan and is seeking US citizenship. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkish prosecutors demanded on Wednesday, December 20 over 4 years jail for Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.

The 25-year-old basketball player faces up to 4 years and 8 months in jail for tweets posted last year, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The New York Knicks center has voiced support for US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in Twitter postings after a coup bid last year aimed at ousting Erdogan.

Kanter, who has previously compared Erdogan to Adolf Hitler, lives in the United States and will be tried in absentia. He was detained briefly in Romania in May after his passport was canceled while traveling to promote his foundation, and blamed Erdogan for it in a video posted on social media. He says he has received

The date of the trial is not yet known.

While Turkey accuses Gulen of ordering the July 2016 coup bid, Kanter says the Gulen movement is a social initiative advocating human rights.

Ankara claims the group is a "terror" organization but Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies this and any involvement in the attempted putsch.

Kanter's father was also briefly arrested in June while an arrest warrant had been issued for Kanter for alleged "membership of a terror organization" in May.

Since July, over 55,000 people have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen and the coup bid while more than 140,000 public sector employees have been suspended or sacked in a crackdown which has raised concern in the West.

Thousands of Turks have also been prosecuted in recent years for allegedly insulting Erdogan but most of the complaints have not seen people jailed. – Rappler.com

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Vinta strengthens into tropical storm

atellite image as of December 21, 5 am. Image courtesy of NOAA

MANILA, Philippines – Tropical Depression Vinta strengthened into a tropical storm before dawn on Thursday, December 21, as it continued heading for land. It has been given the international name Tembin.

In a bulletin issued 5 am on Thursday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Vinta now has maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour (km/h) from the previous 55 km/h and gustiness of up to 80 km/h from the previous 65 km/h.

The tropical storm is already 510 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, moving west at a slightly slower 18 km/h from the previous 20 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Signal number 2 is now raised in Surigao del Sur.

Signal number 1, meanwhile, is up over:

Southern LeyteDinagat IslandsSurigao del NorteAgusan del NorteAgusan del SurDavao del NorteCompostela Valleynorthern Davao Orientalnorthern Davao del SurNorth CotabatoBukidnonMisamis OrientalCamiguin

PAGASA also warned that scattered to widespread rains are expected in Eastern Visayas, Caraga, and Davao within the next 24 hours. Residents of these areas should be on alert for possible flash floods and landslides.

Sea travel is risky in the eastern seaboard of Mindanao and the Visayas as well. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Eastern Visayas is still reeling from the damage wrought by Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak), which battered the region as a tropical storm. National disaster management authorities said 41 people were killed and 45 others remain missing. Urduja had just left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) last Tuesday, December 19.

Based on its latest forecast track, Vinta is expected to make landfall in the Surigao del Sur-Davao Oriental area between Thursday evening and Friday morning, December 22.

After landfall, the tropical storm is expected to cross Caraga, Northern Mindanao, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and southern Palawan.

It will then leave PAR on Christmas Eve, December 24.

Forecast track of Tropical Storm Vinta as of December 21, 5 am. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Meanwhile, the tail-end of a cold front will bring light to heavy rain on Thursday to the regions of Bicol, Mimaropa, and Calabarzon, as well as the provinces of Aurora and Quezon, including Polillo Island. Flash floods and landslides are possible.

The northeast monsoon is also affecting Metro Manila, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, and the rest of Central Luzon, but PAGASA said the scattered rainshowers will have "no significant impact." – Rappler.com

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The year in consumer tech: iPhone X, Nokia's return, Bitcoin's rise

With the year coming to a close, we round up the biggest things that happened in the world of consumer techology. From smartphones to virtual assistants to virtual reality, innovations continue to come in the form of new physical designs such as we've seen with Apple's iPhone – arguably the most hyped phone of the year.

Along with this, we saw the continued push for new consumer-facing technologies such as augmented reality, cryptocurrencies, and AI-focused chips such as the ones found in new Huawei flagship phones. In no particular order, here's what we witnessed in 2017 from the world of consumer tech:

 

Year of the X

Apple’s 10th anniversary phone, the iPhone X, was clearly the most anticipated handset of the year. The media frenzy following the announcement in September was one for the books, which had top tech global websites jostling for a leak and paying top dollar for prior information, even betting on how it was going to be named.

Photo from Apple
     

Photo from Apple 

The hysteria was somewhat doused when it was finally revealed that the brand new iPhone would sell for way over a thousand dollars, the most expensive smartphone ever. In the Philippines, the iconic phone is selling for approximately P64,000 plus, with variations in installment and incentive pricing from Smart and Globe.

This is also not to forget that Apple has another advanced smartphone in the running, the iPhone 8, although most of the attention truly had been sopped up by the X. 

Samsung and Nokia's comeback

The silver lining in the iPhone X cloud is that it gave competitors a wide enough room to wiggle in and compete aggressively specs for specs and a share of consumer’s wallet. Samsung, which got toasted in 2016 with the global recall of its burning flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 7, rebounded this year with a brand new smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8.

Photo by Nappy Manegdeg/Rappler
     

Photo by Nappy Manegdeg/Rappler 

Earlier in the year, we also saw the Galaxy S8 and also the LG G6 which gave us exciting new edgeless designs sporting a thinner (18.5:9 and 18:9 respectively) profile. 

And depending on which side of the OS wars one is aligned with  Android or iOS Samsung got its game and grove back. 

But the quintessential comeback kid this year is Nokia, which heralded its return to the hardware market with an Android device called the Nokia 6 in January. 

The icing on the cake was the makeover of the Nokia 3310, which was finally unveiled in October with 3G capabilities. Nokia also launched the flagship Nokia 8 and a mid-tier phone, the Nokia 6.

Photo from Nokia
     

Photo from Nokia 

Once the king of handhelds, Nokia is, however, facing a very different tech landscape. Years after it bowed out of the mobile space, consumers are marching to the beat of a very different drummer. The name of the game today is "selfie" and people do not have to shell out loads of cash to get that perfect shot, pimples and wrinkles removed.

Breaking the Apple-Samsung duopoly

In the mid-range segment, the Chinese handset trio  Huawei, Oppo and Vivo – definitely have an edge with competitive pricing and a marketing strategy that sizzles even in the mall corridors. Asus, Lenovo, and other brands have their own competitive offerings. 

But it's Huawei that's sort of breaking the Apple-Samsung duopoly in the top tier with the launch of its flagship phone, the Huawei Mate 10 and its twin, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. The Chinese giant snuck by Apple in the middle of the year, taking the second spot in terms of global sales, although Apple's iPhone X push thereafter may have shaken up the standings yet again.

MATE 10. Richard Yu, CEO of Chinese Huawei Consumer Business Group, presents the new Huawei Mate 10 high-end smartphone in Munich, southern Germany, on October 16, 2017. Photo by Christof Stache/AFP
     

MATE 10. Richard Yu, CEO of Chinese Huawei Consumer Business Group, presents the new Huawei Mate 10 high-end smartphone in Munich, southern Germany, on October 16, 2017. Photo by Christof Stache/AFP 

Huawei's marketing pitch with their Mate 10: artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and a very palatable and competitive price tag in the flagship range. Other phones in its lineup this year such as the photography-oriented P10 and P10 Plus and the value-packed midranger Nova 2i round up what has been a great year for the Pia Wurtzbach-bannered brand. 

Google continues push in device market

And as if the competition is not fierce enough, the hardware space got even more crowded with Google announcing its new devices for the year.

In October, Google launched the smartphones Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL, the Daydream View VR headset and the Google Pixel Buds. 

THE PIXEL 2 AND PIXEL 2 XL. Screen shot from Google Livestream.
     

THE PIXEL 2 AND PIXEL 2 XL. Screen shot from Google Livestream. 

The announcement followed the news in September that Google is acquiring Taiwan smartphone maker HTC, which its spokesman explained as “an overall investment in its emerging hardware business.” Google clearly knows its inadequacy in the retail front: it has no physical stores or showrooms for selling its products.

How this will play out in 2018 and beyond would be interesting to watch, especially as many of these newly launched Google devices are not yet available in countries like the Philippines. When they do become available, would they move the needle in the local device war? Would the local geeks take to a wireless headphone that can translate?

Battle of the voice assistants

Filipinos have yet to experience fully interacting with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby and other voice assistants in a big way as many of the devices powered with these conversational software are not yet available locally.

AMAZON ECHO. Photo from Amazon
     

AMAZON ECHO. Photo from Amazon 

But a new battle royale is already looming in the horizon in this space. Research firm Gartner predicts an acceleration of visual- and voice-search technologies in the next two years.

In 2018, would Filipino homes start to welcome gadgets that they can talk to and boss around to switch on the light, read the news, open and close their doors, or play their music of choice? It still sounds like science fiction and still in the domain of the early adopters, but the certified geeks here are already toying with these devices.

AR and VR, and other realities making progress 

A year after augmented reality (AR) entered the lexicon of the Filipino consumer, through the widely popular mobile game, Pokemon, the technology has moved on, along with its twin, virtual reality (VR).

PSVR. A player tries out PlayStation VR near the Farpoint area. Photo by Nadine Pacis
     

PSVR. A player tries out PlayStation VR near the Farpoint area. Photo by Nadine Pacis 

In May, the Philippines saw the launch of the first broadcast augmented reality (BAR) experience, a journey on “a winter playground of faux snow sculptures and stuffed polar bears and penguins.”

On the device front, devices such as the Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream View, HTC Vive, have yet to gain mass appeal locally. But AR- and VR-capable smartphones are already out in the market such as the Asus Zenfone AR, which fully supports the Google platform. 

Filipinos still "social"

A report confirmed in June Filipinos’ continued enthusiasm with social, with 58% of the Philippines having a monthly active account on the top social network here. Even against the global backdrop of fake news, political propaganda and other ugly realities, the social space is alive and vibrant.

While the most tweeted moments in 2017 is still a hodgepodge of typical Pinoy interests: celebrities, basketball, and beauty pageants, on one hand, and more serious concerns such as class suspensions, storm warnings, the Marawi conflict, and the Asean Summit on the other. 

Practical tech and internet speed

     

The use of technology in this vast consumer haven is also seeing a seque to more practical things like the use of ride-sharing and transport apps to manage their daily drive or commute, shopping online and paying for online purchases through various fintech apps and services. The question now is internet speed catching up?

report released in May showed that the Philippines continues to lag behind internet connection speed averaging only 5.5 Mbps versus the global average of 7.2 Mbps. The Philippines also ranked 100th out of 122 for mobile broadband and 94th out of 133 for fixed broadband in the Speedtest Global Index. Whether this is good news or bad news can be hotly debated by the telcos and the consumers in a duel that will forever rage in this side of the world for as long as connection is not fast enough for everybody's satisfaction.

This isn't surprising as even some of the smartphones selling below the mid-range today have even better camera, connectivity and other capabilities than the iPhone of 10 years ago. As people want their devices to do more, they expect better connectivity.

As has been the case in previous years, the entrance of more data service providers would benefit the state of internet service packages in the Philippines, forcing market players to lower prices, ultimately for the consumers' benefit. Legislation such as the proposed Open Access Bill hopes to gain more traction in the following year to allow more players in the market. 

The buzziest buzzwords of 2017

     

Globally, a new buzzword has emerged in 2017: artificial intelligence or AI. With AI chips now embedded in the most advanced smartphones, it would be interesting to watch what this can do for consumers. But the surprise development in the tech scene this year is bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Are Filipinos ready to embrace this cryptocurrency, essentially digital money with a ledger verified by a network of computers instead of a central bank?

Cryptocurrency, as represented by Bitcoin and its staggering rise from $1000 to a bitcoin to highs of $18,000 to a bitcoin in December 2017, has at the very least, forced us to rethink the way we think about what currency is, and the potential form that future currencies could eventually take. Either that, or you've started trying to mine or trade for bitcoin – in spite of its volatility – and hope that its value rises even further, as a few analysts believe it could. (READ: Bitcoin breaks $10,000 barrier but analysts warn of bubble)

While the actual usage of bitcoin in commercial transactions is still developing (the number of companies that accept cryptocurrencies is still low), it has some traits that give it some appeal, namely the ability to bypass bank fees for remittances, and anonymous transactions. 

Be wary though; some are also saying that bitcoin is a bubble that could pop anytime. Consider it a very high risk investment that could either make you very rich in 2018 or set back your financial plans for the future. – Rappler.com

Eden Estopace is an IT journalist based in Manila. She writes for a Swiss-based media startup.

 
 
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WATCH: Inside the world and technology of Netflix's 'Altered Carbon'

ALTERED CARBON.' Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) lives again after being put on ice after his death. Photo courtesy of Netflix

MANILA, Philippines – Itching to get your binge list for 2018 started? Keep an eye out for Altered Carbon, a new sci-fi show that set to air on Netflix in February.

Altered Carbon was based on Richard K. Morgan's novel of the same name, and as showrunner Laeta Kalogridis and the show's stars explain in the video above, explores a world where a person's identity is kept in a "stack."

It's in this world that a rebel soldier named Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is awoken, 250 years after his capture, in another person's body, to solve a murder.

Altered Carbon will be on Netflix on February 2, 2018.

What's on your binge list so far? Share with us down in the comments! – Rappler.com

 

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn__F60dd6s

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Filipino doctor accused of sexual assault in U.S. gets probation

SEXUAL ASSAULT. Filipino doctor Louie Mar Gangcuangco does not plead guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault charges against him but was placed on one-year probation. Photo from Bridgeport Police Department

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino doctor charged with sexually assaulting his 53-year-old male patient in a US hospital was placed under a special probation program on Tuesday, December 19, a report said.

A US judge granted Louie Mar Gangcuangco's request for accelerated rehabilitation, a pretrial program for people accused of nonviolent crimes.

The Connecticut Post reported that Gangcuangco did not plead guilty to 4th-degree sexual assault charges against him.

With the one-year probation, there's a chance for Gangcuangco's original charges to be dismissed if he does not commit other crimes during the probationary period.

According to the police, Gangcuangco was accused in 2016 of sexually assaulting a patient who went to get a heart exam at the Bridgeport Hospital.

Gangcuangco, who worked as a physician at the hospital, allegedly grabbed the patient's genitals and pinched his nipples, then later on called him up to invite him for dinner.

Both the case's prosecutor and the victim did not oppose Gangcuangco's probation program.

"I'm just not convinced he is remorseful," the Connecticut Post quoted the victim as saying during the hearing.

He added, "He had no permission, he shouldn't have done it and I just hope he doesn't do it again."

Gangcuangco's lawyer Sean Barrett said the doctor lost his job at Bridgeport Hospital because of the charges against him. He is set to return to the Philippines after his visa expired. – Rappler.com

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Low pressure area now Tropical Depression Vinta

Satellite image as of December 20, 4:30 pm. Image courtesy of NOAA

MANILA, Philippines – The low pressure area (LPA) off Mindanao intensified into a tropical depression on Wednesday afternoon, December 20. It has been given the local name Vinta.

In a bulletin issued past 5 pm on Wednesday, state weather bureau PAGASA said Vinta is already 735 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, moving west at 20 kilometers per hour (km/h).

The tropical depression has maximum winds of 45 km/h and gustiness of up to 60 km/h. (READ: EXPLAINER: How tropical cyclones form)

Signal number 1 is raised in Surigao del Sur and northern Davao Oriental.

PAGASA also warned that scattered to widespread rains are expected in Eastern Mindanao and Eastern Visayas within the next 24 hours. Residents of these areas should be on alert for possible flash floods and landslides. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tropical cyclones, rainfall advisories)

Eastern Visayas is still reeling from the damage wrought by Tropical Depression Urduja (Kai-tak), which battered the region as a tropical storm. National disaster management authorities said 41 people were killed and 45 others remain missing. Urduja had just left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Tuesday, December 19.

"Kung ikukumpara sa Bagyong Urduja mas mabilis 'yung ine-expect natin na movement ng Bagyong Vinta pero magdadala pa rin siya ng mga pag-ulan.... Mas mabagal ang Urduja, 'yun 'yung nagdala ng maraming ulan [sa Eastern Visayas].... Posibleng mas kaunti 'yung dalin [ni Vinta na] pag-ulan but again, hindi iyon dahilan para maging kampante 'yung mga kababayan natin," said PAGASA forecaster Obet Badrina in a news briefing late Wednesday afternoon.

(If we compare it to Urduja, Vinta is moving faster but it will still bring heavy rain.... Urduja was slower so it lingered and dumped massive amounts of rainfall over Eastern Visayas. It's possible Vinta will bring less rain but again, that's not a reason for the public to be complacent.)

Now, with Vinta inside PAR, sea travel is risky in the seaboards of Eastern Mindanao, as waters will be moderate to rough.

Based on its latest forecast track, Vinta could intensify into a tropical storm before it makes landfall in the Surigao del Sur-Davao Oriental area between Thursday evening, December 21 to Friday morning, December 22.

After landfall, Vinta is expected to cross Caraga, Northern Mindanao, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and southern Palawan.

It will then leave PAR on Christmas Eve, December 24.

Forecast track of Tropical Depression Vinta as of December 20, 5 pm. Image courtesy of PAGASA

Meanwhile, the tail-end of a cold front is affecting Bicol and Quezon including Polillo Island. Those areas should also watch out for possible flash floods and landslides, with light to heavy rain expected.

The northeast monsoon is also affecting Metro Manila, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Central Luzon, and the rest of Calabarzon, but PAGASA said there will be "no significant impact" from the scattered rainshowers.

The rest of Visayas as well as Mimaropa will only have isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. – Rappler.com

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