Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Bono earns praise for holding his own vs Fajardo

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net
ANTIPOLO — It pays to be prepared, and for Ken Bono, he seized the moment when coach Norman Black called his number to guard June Mar Fajardo on Wednesday.
Though surprised at first, the former Adamson standout did the best he could to at least slow down Fajardo as he held the fort for the Meralco frontline against the San Miguel giant in the second half.
“Coach just told me to get ready. I’m just thankful for the opportunity that coach gave me and I did my best to help the team. You’ll never know when coach will call your number, so I’m just ready,” Bono said.

Though the Bolts went on to lose, 97-103, Bono’s presence was a huge boost in making a game out of the duel.
READ: Cabagnot, San Miguel weather Meralco comeback
“I was happy with the way Ken played,” said Black. “He’s been hurt and he just came back to practice about a week ago, and he did pretty well tonight against June Mar. He did a pretty decent job of at least trying to push him out of the lane.”
Containing a behemoth like Fajardo is admittedly tall order, but Bono was still able make life difficult for the four-time PBA MVP while also making a good account of himself on the offensive end.
Bono scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field in only 11 minutes.
“You can’t stop June Mar. You just had to contain him. I’m just thankful for coach for giving me the opportunity,” said the former UAAP MVP.
READ: Fajardo admits having a hard time vs Bono
Bono’s exemplary showing didn’t just garner praise from his own fort, but as well as from the opposing side as San Miguel coach Leo Austria also expressed glee with his former player’s performance.

“I really congratulated him because I know what he can do. He’s one of the best shooters among big men and if he will focus on his conditioning, I think he will be given playing time,” Austria, who coached Bono at Adamson, said.
The 33-year-old Bono hopes to get more opportunities to play.
“Hopefully [I get to play more], but it depends on coach. I’m just ready every game,” he said.

 

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Ancajas, Biado, Tabora lead awardees

The Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) will hold its annual Awards Night on Feb. 27 as it continues to preserve a time-honored tradition of feting athletes who shine here and abroad and make the nation proud.
Billiards king Carlo Biado, bowling queen Krizziah Lyn Tabora and boxing titlist Jerwin Ancajas head the list of athletes to be feted during the two-hour affair – their reward for doing their share in making the year that’s about to end a memorable one.

Biado, Tabora and Ancajas have also been named by the PSA board of directors in its recent meeting as candidates for the Athlete of the Year, the highest accolade to be given during the rites scheduled at the Maynila Hall of the historic Manila Hotel.

The number of nominees for the top award may increase to four if another Filipino boxer in International Boxing Federation light-flyweight champion Milan Melindo wins his unification bout with WBA titlist Ryoichi Taguchi on New Year’s eve in Tokyo, Japan.

“It’s that time of the year again when the PSA throws a party for the best and brightest in Philippine sports,” said PSA

president and Spin.Ph editor Dodo Catacutan.
“These athletes deserve nothing less,” he added.

Several prominent officials and friends of sports led by Ramon S. Ang of San Miguel Corp., Manuel V. Pangilinan of the MVP
Group of Companies and Judes Echauz are also expected to get recognition and share the limelight with the athletes for their boundless help to local sports.

According to Catacutan, the 23 gold medalists in the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games and the 20 winners in the ASEAN Para Games also held in the Malaysian capital will also be given appropriate honors in the rites where former sportswriter and boxing analyst and now Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pinol will be the guest of honor and speaker.

 

“It’s a great honor that a former colleague in the sports beat who has risen to prominence will be with us on the night when we fete our top athletes,” said Catacutan.
Organized in 1949 and considered as the oldest group of media practitioners in the country, the 80-member PSA has also started seeking the help of its old and new friends in sports like San Miguel Corp., Milo, Tapa King, Cignal, Philippine Sports Commission, Mighty Sports, Rain or Shine and Globalport to stage the affair.

Special awards like Mr. Basketball, Ms. Volleyball, President’s Award, National Sports Association of the Year, will also be handed out.

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Hot Shot proves size no issue for Harlem Globetrotters

LITTLE BIG MAN. Hot Shot may be just 4-foot-5 but he's earned recognition as the "Michael Jordan of dwarf basketball." Photo by Don Emmert/AFP

NEW YORK, USA - Known as the "Michael Jordan of dwarf basketball," Jahmani Swanson is only 4-foot-5, but he's now a Harlem Globetrotter, electrifying fans in the culmination of a childhood dream.

Signing with the world-famous exhibition team earlier this month for their 2018 world tour, the 32-year-old was mobbed on court by dozens of fans queueing for a photo or an autograph after his first appearance.

Born and bred in Harlem, the Globetrotter nicknamed "Hot Shot" made his debut at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and proved that he is already the team's most popular player.

A social media sensation with a litany of YouTube videos dubbed "Mani Love," "Lil Engine" or "The Athlete" that showcase his unique style of play, dribbling the ball between the legs of challengers, thrashing actor Jamie Foxx in a one-on-one or shooting a hoop from all angles.

"I think he's a nice addition, just because of his size. That brings a lot of attention to him," says Kenyon Pickering, who watched the game with his children. "He's definitely going to sell a lot of tickets."

Swanson, who is at least 8 inches shorter than any other Globetrotter ever, is excellent advertising for the entertaining team who have dazzled millions around the world with basketball wizardry.

But if he'll take part, along with the rest in the entertainment, then "Hot Shot" is anything but a curiosity - he is a real basketball player through and through.

Questions and doubts about his abilities are nothing new - he grew up with them, being stared at, pointed at and made fun of.

"I'm proving myself everyday," he smiles.

"Every gym, every city I walk into, people are staring down, some are laughing, asking 'who is little dude? What can he do?' And that first shot, or that first move, people are going crazy."

Born to a dwarf mom and an average height dad, Swanson learned to dribble and walk at the same time, recalls mom Sabrina.

'Feel 7-foot tall'

He quickly became inseparable from the ball, keeping a portable hoop and playing day and night, driving the neighbors crazy. "I used to read my book and dribble the basketball at the same time," he says.

When he started playing organized basketball at the age of eight or nine, Sabring says "they wanted to treat him a little different. I told them: 'no, treat him like everybody else'."

But if he had to work 10 times harder than anyone else, Jahmani proved himself a formidable player, mastering the basketball and shooting a hoop designed for players at least well over a foot (40 cm) taller.

His mom only ever treated him and his brother as though they were average size people. "She prepped us... That's how I live my life. When I'm walking the street, I feel like I'm seven foot tall."

His role models were not dwarf players or the smaller men in the NBA, but the towering legend of them all - 6-foot-6 Michael Jordan.

"Everything he did, I practiced," he says. Sometimes he even sticks out his tongue, Jordan-style as he goes to the basket.

Fifty-year-old Sabrina couldn't be prouder.

"He didn't make the NBA but he's entertaining and inspiring the whole world on how you could do anything you want if you put your heart and soul to it," she says.

"We don't want to let it go to his head. That's why I stay around."

Her son is enjoying every moment.

"I dreamed of this moment as a kid," he says. "I never thought I'd be a Harlem Globetrotter. It makes this a Cinderella magical story. It's just amazing. The journey. The work. Practicing everyday. Overcoming adversity. Proving to people that I could be here, that I could play." – Rappler.com

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Brrr! After Record Snow, Bitter Cold Ahead for Northern US

Pedestrians try to keep warm while walking in New York's Times Square, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017. Freezing temperatures and below-zero wind chills socked much of the northern United States on Wednesday, and the snow-hardened city of Erie, Pa., dug out from a record snowfall. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) The Associated Press

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Freezing temperatures and below-zero wind chills socked much of the northern United States on Wednesday, even setting a record in a Minnesota city so cold it's called the Icebox of the Nation, and will stay put for days to come as snow-hardened Erie digs out from a record snowfall.

Forecasters warned of hypothermia and frostbite from arctic air settling in over the central U.S. and spreading east.

The National Weather Service reported International Falls and Hibbing, Minnesota, set record low temperatures on Wednesday morning. International Falls, the self-proclaimed Icebox of the Nation, plunged to 37 degrees below zero, breaking the old record of 32 below set in 1924. Hibbing bottomed out at 28 below, breaking the old record of 27 below set in 1964.

Wind chill advisories or warnings were in effect for much of New England, northern Pennsylvania and New York. Those places and states in the northern Plains and Great Lakes were projected to see highs in the teens or single digits and lows below zero for the rest of the week and into the new year.

The National Weather Service said wind chills in many areas Thursday could make temperatures feel below zero.

Meanwhile, Erie was recovering from a storm that brought 34 inches of snow on Christmas Day, smashing the daily snowfall record for the Great Lakes city of 8 inches, and 26.5 more inches on Tuesday. More than 65 inches have fallen on the city since Christmas Eve, with several more inches falling Wednesday as residents dug out in frigid temperatures.

Strong westerly winds over Lake Erie picked up moisture, developed into snow and converged with opposing winds, dumping snow in a band along the shore from Ohio to New York, said Zach Sefcovic, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland.

Sabrina Ram drove into Erie on Christmas Eve to visit her parents just as the snow began to fall. Ram, who lives in suburban Washington, D.C., and her father spent five hours on Christmas and two hours on Tuesday clearing the driveway.

"In D.C., we'd be out of commission for weeks," Ram said. "Things here are pretty much back to normal now."

She said she was going to build a snowman but didn't know where to start — "where do you put it?" — and she went outside to clear off the satellite dish before falling face first into the snow because she couldn't figure out where the porch ended.

"I totally just flew forward while my dad laughed at me," Ram said.

In New York, communities near Lake Ontario's eastern end, including Redfield and Boylston, also saw around 5 feet of snow this week.

The storm's timing was good, since people were off the streets and staying home for Christmas, giving plows more space to clear streets, officials said.

By Wednesday, Erie's roads were relatively clear, emergency calls were relatively slow and the big task was digging out, County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper said.

"We're used to a lot of snow here in Erie, but this is unprecedented, the amount we got," Dahlkemper said.

In Millcreek, outside Erie, it took Kathleen Palkovic and her son two hours to shovel out so she could make it to her waitressing job. The 5-mile (8-kilometer) drive to Dave's Diner in downtown Erie took an hour. Palkovic and the cook opened the restaurant at a little after 6 a.m. in single-digit temperatures.

"We're dedicated people, I guess," Palkovic said.

Something else helped: "It took 800 milligrams of ibuprofen after all that to get me to work."

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Vermont, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, New York

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Earned $102 Million in 2017, Must Now Fly Privately for Security Reasons

In fiscal 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook received a salary of $3.06 million plus $9.33 million in bonuses and stock worth $89.2 million for a total compensation package of approximately $102 million, reports Bloomberg.

The data was shared today by Apple in a proxy statement filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of the company's annual shareholders meeting, which will take place on February 13, 2018.

Executive officers at Apple, which included Luca Maestri, Angela Ahrendts, Johny Srouji, Dan Riccio, and Bruce Sewell, all received bonuses of over $3 million, bringing their compensation, including salary and stock awards, to approximately $24.2 million each, provided each stays with the company long enough for awarded stock to vest. Angela Ahrendts, Apple's retail chief, was the highest paid executive, bringing in $24,216,072.

In addition to covering executive compensation, today's proxy statement also says that Apple's board now requires Apple CEO Tim Cook use private aircraft "for all business and personal travel." The flight policy was implemented in 2017 "in the interests of security and efficiency" based on Cook's "highly visible" role as CEO.

Over the course of 2017, Cook's personal air travel expenses amounted to $93,109, and Apple spent an additional $224,216 in personal security costs provided to Cook.

The proxy statement also includes six proposals that will require shareholder action at the upcoming shareholders meeting in February. Proposals cover standard actions like re-appointing Apple's public accounting firm and re-electing board members, along with two shareholder proposals covering proxy access amendments and the establishment of a Human Rights Committee.

Apple's board of directors is recommending shareholders vote against both shareholder proposals, with the full text of all of the proposals available in the proxy statement filed with the SEC.

Shareholders who wish to attend the shareholders meeting, which will be held at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, will need to register using Proxyvote.com starting at 8:00 a.m. on January 22, 2018. Apple plans to accept registrations on a first-come, first-serve basis as space is limited.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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On Holy Innocents Day, De Lima calls for justice for children killed in drug war

ANTI-DRUG WAR. Senator Leila de Lima waves at her supporters after appearing before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206. Photo from De Lima's office

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima hit President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war once again as the world observed the feast of “Niños Inocentes” or the Feast of the Holy Innocents on Thursday, December 28.

In a note written from her jail cell in the Philippine National Police headquarters, Camp Crame, De Lima likened the drug war killings to the order of King Herod to kill newborn children in a bid to stop the birth of Jesus Christ, commemorated during Niños Inocentes.

“Sa nakalipas na isa’t kalahating taon, naging pamilyar ang ganitong malagim na pangyayari sa ating bansa sa ilalim ng pamamahala ng rehimeng Duterte. Sa madugong kampanya laban sa droga, inudyukan at patuloy pa ring inuudyukan ng gobyernong ito ang laganap na patayan kung saan napakarami nang inosente, kabilang ang mga bata, ang pinaslang,” said De Lima, who is in jail over multiple drug charges.

(In the past one and a half years, we have become familiar with this kind of grim event in our country under the Duterte regime. In the bloody war against drugs, the government continues to promote widespread killings, wherein so many innocents, including children, have been killed.)

Duterte’s fiercest critic then cited the names of several minors who were killed due to the bloody war on drugs, which has lead to at least 3,993 deaths of drug suspects in legitimate police operations. (READ: This is where they do not die)

“Noong nakaraang taon, hindi na nagawang makapagdiwang ng Pasko ng 7-taong gulang na si Saniño Butucan, 5-taong gulang na sina Danica May Garcia, at Francisco Manosca, at ng 4-taong gulang na si Althea Fhem Barbon,” said De Lima

(In the past year, 7-year old Saniño Butucan, 5-year olds Danica May Garcia and Francisco Manosca, and 4 year old Althea Fhem Barbon were no longer able to celebrate Christmas.)

“At dahil hindi pa rin ipinahinto ng rehimeng Duterte ang patayan sa harap ng kabi-kabilang panawagan na itigil na ito, pagluluksa ang hatid ng Pasko ngayong taon sa pamilya ng 14-taong gulang na si Reynaldo de Guzman, 15-taong gulang na si Charlie Jean Du at ng batang nasa kanyang sinapupunan, 17-taong gulang na si Kian Loyd delos Santos, at 19-taong gulang na si Carl Arnaiz,” she added.

(And because the Duterte regime did not stop the killings despite calls to do so, Christmas brought forth mourning to the families of 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, 15-year-old Charlie Jean Du and the child in her womb, 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, and 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz.)

‘Collateral damage’

De Lima said the government treats the death of the young Filipinos as merely “collateral damage” of the anti-drug campaign.

“Mga itinuring ng gobyernong ito bilang ‘collateral damage’ ng war on drugs. Silang mga pinaslang nang walang kalaban-laban. Silang pinagkaitang matupad ang pangarap para sa sarili at pamilya. Mga bata. Mga Niños Inocentes,” she said.

(The government treats them as ‘collateral damage’ in the war on drugs. These people who couldn’t fight back. These people who were denied the chance to reach their dreams and that of their families. Children. Innocent children.)

De Lima urged the public to pray so justice will be served to the young victims of the drug war and and that the loved ones they left behind be healed emotionally.

“Sa modernong panahong ito, ang mga walang muwang na bata ang nadadamay at pinaka-biktima ng kaguluhan bunsod ng galit, diskriminasyon at kasamaan. Sa musmos nilang kaisipan, nakararanas na sila ng pangungulila, pagkalito at kawalang pag-asa,” said De Lima.

(In this modern age, innocent children are victimized by violence caused by anger, discrimination, and evil. At their young age, they already experience bereavement, confusion, and loss of hope.)

“Tungkulin natin, bilang mga mamamayang nagsasalo sa iisang mundo, na ipagtanggol at itaguyod ang kanilang karapatan para sa isang maaliwalas na bukas para sa lahat lalo na sa kanilang mga bata,” she added.

(It is our responsibility, as citizens of the world, to defend and uphold their rights so all children will have a better future). – Rappler.com

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Robredo 'happy' over 'good' satisfaction rating in SWS survey

GOOD RATING. Vice President Leni Robredo leads her office's Metro Laylayan visit to Barangay Tumana in Marikina City on December 12, 2017. Photo by OVP

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said she is elated her net satisfaction rating “stayed good at +42” in December 2017, up by a point from her rating in the Social Weather Stations' (SWS) survey in September 2017.

“Parati tayong masaya kapag nakikita natin na tumataas iyong numero sa survey, kasi affirmation ito na nasa tamang landas, nasa tamang landas iyong ginagawa (We’re always happy whenever we see our numbers rising in the survey, because that is an affirmation that we are on the right path, that we are doing the right things),” Robredo told reporters on Thursday, December 28.

“Ito kasing mga surveys… ito iyong pulso ng ating mga kababayan, kaya parati tayong nakikinig kung ano iyong ginagawa natin na parang ina-affirm ng ating mga kababayan. Kaya iyong latest survey, masaya tayo na patuloy na umaakyat,” said added.

(These surveys… are the pulse of the people, that’s why we always listen whenever there’s an indication that the people are affirming what we do. This is why the latest survey and our rising numbers make me happy.)

The Office of the Vice President had just received its ISO 9001:2015 certification from the International Orgnization for Standardization.

The Vice President said the ISO certification is another affirmation for her office as well.

A day before, the Fourth Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey showed Robredo was able to maintain her good net satisfaction rating in December.

The SWS credited Robredo’s one-point increase due to a 16-point rise in Mindanao, which was offset by her steady score in Balance Luzon and an 8-point decrease in Metro Manila and a 5-point decrease in the Visayas.

In Mindanao, the Vice President’s net satisfaction rose from +31 points in September to +47 in December.

Robredo’s rating in the Visayas, however, decreased from +60 in September to +55 in December, while her rating in Metro Manila fell from +23 in September to +15 in December.

The Vice President’s net satisfaction rating in Balance Luzon remained at +42 in December.

In terms of socio-economic classes, Robredo’s net satisfaction rating among classes A, B, and C rose from moderate +24 to good +32.

Those who are aged 55 years old and above rated her with a very good +52, up from her good +40 in September.

College graduates also gave Robredo a very good +30 net satisfaction rating, higher than her moderate +17 from 3 months ago.

Class E, however, gave Robredo a lower rating of good +45 from September’s very good +50.

Respondents aged 18 to 24 year olds gave Robredo a moderate +29 in December from good +36 in September, while elementary school graduates gave her a net satisfaction rating of very good +55 this month compared to September’s good +45.

SWS conducted the survey on December 8 to 16 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults. – Rappler.com

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Peace talks with Reds in 2018? 'Malabo,' says Palace

PEACE THEN. President Rodrigo Duterte pose for a photo with members of the Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front peace panels following their meeting in Malacañang State Dining Room on September 26. File photo by Rey Baniquet/PPD

MANILA, Philippines - Citing their “treachery,” Palace spokesman Secretary Harry Roque said on Thursday, December 28 that peace talks with Philippine communists are unlikely in the coming year.

“Dahil nga po sa katraydoran nila, baka malabo na po iyan (Because of their treachery, that seems unlikely),” said Roque in a radio interview over dwFM.

The Dutere administration’s relationship with Philippine communists has been shaky in its first year-and-a-half. Hopes of peace rang high even before the start of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had proclaimed himself leftist during the campaign.

During his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte declared a ceasefire against the New Peoples Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). But as talks progressed, apparent attacks from the NPA continued, prompting the President to stop the ceasefire and eventually, the talk themselves.

Following tradition, the Philippine government declared a holiday ceasefire that started on December 24, 2017 and will end on January 2, 2018. The NPA, in turn, declared a ceasefire from December 23 to 26, 2017.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), however, said the NPA broke this ceasefire, citing attacks in two Davao Oriental towns. (READ: Duterte's romance with the Reds)

“Well, basta tayo ay hindi tayo nagtaksil sa ating pangako. Tayo po ay may isang salita. Hayaan na natin ang mga NPA na ipakita ang tunay nilang anyo na mga traydor. Pero ang mandato po ng Presidente, tuloy pa rin ang ceasefire para sa Bagong Taon,” said Roque, when asked about these attacks.

(We won’t turn back on our promise. We have one word. Let the NPA show their true colors are traitors. But the President’s mandate is to follow the ceasefire until the new year.)

Roque added, however, that soldiers may use force in self-defense. – Rappler.com

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Palace defends Faeldon's appointment to new gov't post

NEW POST. President Rodrigo Duterte appoints detained former Bureau of Customs Chief Nicanor Faeldon as the new deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang on Thursday, December 28, defended the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint former customs chief Nicanor Faeldon to a new government post, saying the Chief Executive continues to trust the retired military officer.

"The appointment of Mr Nicanor Faeldon as Deputy Administrator III of the Office of Civil Defense is part of the exclusive prerogative of the President. The President is the appointing authority and Mr. Faeldon, with his new appointment, certainly enjoys the Chief Executive’s trust and confidence, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement on Thursday.

Roque made the statement in response to criticism over the appointment of Faeldon, who came under fire following the discovery of P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu from China, the subject of congressional inquiries.

"Ang Presidente naman bilang abogado ay bibigyan siya ng presumption of innocence at binibigyan siya ng pagkakataon na manilbihan uli sa gobyerno,” the Palace spokesman said in an interview with TV5.

(As a lawyer, the President gives him a presumption of innocence and the chance to serve in government again.)

Duterte appointed Faeldon as the new deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) on Wednesday, December 27, even as the former customs chief remained in Senate detention for refusing to appear before the Senate panel that investigated the shabu shipment. (TIMELINE: How P6.4-B worth of shabu was smuggled into PH from China)

Roque said that Faeldon "can discharge his functions even while detained at the Senate."

Some senators questioned Faeldon's new appointment despite his poor performance at the Bureau of Customs, particularly in the fight against drug smuggling. On Thursday, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said this cast doubt on the Duterte administration's effort to fight corruption.

"The appointment of Nicanor Faeldon to another position puts a big question mark in the government's seriousness in fighting corruption. Seryoso ba talaga ang pamahalaang ito na labanan ang katiwalian o handa silang isantabi ito kung kakampi ang sangkot sa usapan (Is this government really serious in fighting corruption or is it ready to set this aside if its ally is involved)?" Aquino said.

"If the administration is serious in eradicating corruption in the bureaucracy, then it must appoint people with unblemished reputation and not those involved in scandals," the senator added.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV earlier hit Faeldon's appointment to the OCD, saying Faeldom was apparently kept in the administration as he "knows the dark secrets of the Duterte family."

"That's why, even if he is grossly incompetent, he remains a sacred cow," Trillanes said in a statement on Wednesday.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said while he respects the decision, "the President should understand that this person is absolutely ineffective in the Bureau of Customs and was primarily responsible for the lack of systems in deterring illegal drugs from coming through the ports of our own Customs.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson had earlier tagged Faeldon as among the customs officials reportedly receiving bribe money under the so-called "tara" system in the Bureau of Customs.

The Department of Justice earlier cleared Faeldon of criminal charges in connection with the shabu shipment, but he is facing graft and economic sabotage complaints filed by Lacson before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged involvement in rice smuggling – Rappler.com

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Gov't urged to prioritize safer workplace bill

NCCC FIRE. Some 37 call center agents were killed in the fire that gutted the NCCC Mall in Davao City.

MANILA, Philippines – Following the blaze at a Davao City Mall that took the life of 38 call center agents, the chairman of the Senate labor committee urged the Duterte administration to prioritize the passage of a “safer workplace" bill.

Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday, December 28, pushed for the speedy passage of Senate Bill 1317 or “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” which seeks to amend the OSHS provision in the Labor Code.

“By neglecting to comply with occupational safety and health standards, we run the risk of losing so many precious lives as proven by the recent fire tragedy in Davao,” said Villanueva, in pushing for the passage of the measure.

Currently, the law does not declare unlawful nor penalize violations of OSHS. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) only issues a work stoppage order should an incident happen.

“Obviously, this practice has not been successful in inculcating culture of OSH compliance nor in addressing wanton disregard of OSH standards,” said Villanueva.

The proposed measure seeks to impose a P100,000-penalty to a company for daily non-correction of OSHS violation. In the event of a worker's death because of occupational hazards, a penalty of P250,000 to P500,000 will be imposed on the company.

A total of 22 fatal and 18 non-fatal workplace accidents occured in 2016, based on data from the Bureau of Working Conditions. It was much worse in 2015, the year of the Kentex factory fire, when there were a total of 125 fatal and 69 non-fatal accidents. (READ: Labor unions slam DOLE over Davao mall fire deaths)

A fire struck the NCCC Mall onDecember 23, killing call center agents working for the Texas-based Research Now SSI, which leased the 4th floor of the mall as their office space.

Bureau of Fire Protection Davao Regional Director Wilberto Kwan Tiu said the workers might have died because of suffocation. Some locals also claimed that survivors of the tragedy complained that they could not get through the building’s fire exits.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who was Davao City mayor prior to the presidency, vowed to get to the bottom of the mall fire. DOLE and the Department of Justice have launched their own investigations on the incident.(IN PHOTOS: Duterte cries with kin of Davao mall fire victims)

Labor groups said aside from private individuals, "public officers" responsible for the incident should also be held accountable for the tragedy, which the BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) called a "massacre of working people who strive hard to earn a living." (READ: Heads must roll over Davao fire deaths – labor groups) – Rappler.com

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