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Items filtered by date: Friday, 10 March 2017

Focus on the Philippines: Another Filipino singer makes waves on The Voice US

After 16-year-old Anatalia Villaranda turned four chairs on the premiere episode of the 12th season of The Voice US last week, another contestant with a Filipino connection impressed the show’s celebrity judging panel this week. Gaby Borromeo, an 18-year-old child of Filipino immigrants in Seattle, auditioned for the reality talent competition, singing a cover of Leona Lewis’s hit 2009 track Happy. Her performance caught the attention of judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, who both turned their chairs for the young contestant. Immediately after Borromeo’s audition, Levine went onstage to congratulate her with a hug.

"I’m very surprised that this was not a four-chair turn," Levine said as he turned to his fellow coaches Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani."When you started singing, you seemed like you were nervous. But then as the song progressed, you came through in a way that just blew my mind. I think you can win The Voice with no problem. You’re unbelievable and you belong to my team," Levine added.

Making his case for Borromeo to join his team, Shelton told her: "That was an incredible performance. You can probably win this thing."Borromeo eventually picked Levine as her coach in the competition. Responding to her fans from the Philippines, Borromeo posted on social media on Wednesday: "Go Philippines! Thank you, I’m so happy I can be someone who inspires you."Borromeo said she has been passionate about music since she was a child, singing karaoke at home at the age of eight.Like Villaranda, Borromeo has advanced to the next stage of the competition on The Voice, in a round called the knockouts, which will air beginning March 20Filipino film selected to screen at Cannes Film Festival

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Undocumented Filipinos Are Living a Special Nightmare in Trump’s America

As paranoia spreads over the Trump administration’s promised immigration crackdown, there’s a video circulating around California’s immigrant communities.

In it, two people — Lolita Lledo, an immigrants rights activist, and Steve Angeles, a reporter — are making rounds in a Los Angeles neighborhood. Lledo has of late been bombarded with rumors of immigration officers poking around local businesses. To keep the hysteria at bay, the two have been investigating the claims.

Lledo’s organization is erring on the side of caution — a day later they run a “know your rights” workshop for locals. Someone posts a picture on Facebook, grabbing only the backs of participants so that it’s a sea of black hair. “Standing room and fully-packed,” the caption reads.

Lledo has a reason to be on-edge. Recently, headline-grabbing ICE raids were carried out on Asian-American communities like theirs.

Yes, Asian communities. Lledo and Angeles are Filipino-American — or Fil-Am, as many in the community shorten it.

Donald Trump distinguished himself last year by calling Mexicans rapists and vowing to build a wall along the southern border. Elected into office, he ante-ed up on the anti-Mexican demagoguery with a travel ban on Arab and African Muslim travelers. But promises to end undocumented immigration target so-called “model minorities” too.

In fact, in addition to having the fastest-growing documented immigration rate in the United States, Asian Americans also have the fastest growing rate of undocumented immigration. A sizable number of these, like the nervous residents of Lledo’s community, are Filipino.

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Ombudsman orders dismissal of 5 officials of Muslim-Filipino commission

MANILA — The Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of 5 executives of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) after they were found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service over the allegedly anomalous use of the P3.8-million Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF).
Ordered dismissed were NCMF commissioner Mehol Sadain, director Galay Makalanggay, acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese, acting chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and cashier Olga Galido.
The administrative case stemmed from former Maguindanao congressman Simeon Datumanong's PDAF, which is intended to finance livelihood programs such as soap-making, candle-making and meat-processing for the municipalities of Mamasapano, Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sanki.

NCMF was the implementing agency, while Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. was the partner non-government organization.
But the Commission on Audit found that the foundation was chosen without public bidding, thus violating the auditor's selection rules.
The Ombudsman said the dismissed NCMF officials participated in the preparation, processing and approval of the memorandum of agreement and the PDAF documents governing the project implementation and fund releases to the foundation.
"The funds in question could not have been transferred to the MLFI if not for the recommendations as well as certifications, approval, and signatures found in the corresponding disbursement vouchers and checks," the Ombudsman's decision read.
"[There was] extraordinary accommodation extended to MLFI in the examination, processing and approval by the concerned NCMF officers of the PDAF releases as show by the unnumbered and undated disbursement vouchers; and issuance of check prior to execution of the Memorandum of Agreement."
The dismissed officials have been perpetually disqualified from holding public office, and will have to pay fines equivalent to their annual salaries in case of separation from the service.

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Mighty Corp denies bribe try on Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Mighty Corporation, the cigarette company whose owner President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered arrested for allegedly using fake tax stamps, denies it ever attempted to bribe the President.
"On the bribery attempt allegedly perpetrated by Mighty Corporation, the company, through its counsel, Atty. Sigfrid Fortun categorically denied any occasion or participation in the supposed incident," the company said in a statement on Tuesday night, March 7.
"Mighty has never taken part nor has it ever indulged in such activity especially with officers of the incumbent administration," the company added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella confirmed that Duterte had talked about an "attempt to influence him financially" during the March 6 Cabinet meeting.
Abella refused to elaborate on the matter. Later on, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo gave more details to media.
Panelo relayed Duterte's story as he understood it: that Duterte once received a gift which he thought was a box of wine but turned out to be a box of cash. Duterte supposedly ordered the box returned to the sender.
Panelo told media the sender was the "owner of Mighty Corporation."
Duterte eventually confirmed Panelo's story but clarified that the incident occured when he was still Davao City mayor.
Special Assistant to the President Secretary Bong Go also confirmed that the sender of the cash gift was Mighty Corporation.

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Invoking The First Amendment

I have a confession, one that may not go over well in this geography. I am a fiscal conservative, a believer in free markets…and capitalism. I detest regulation and I feel the weight of excessive regulation almost daily as if it is borne in the atmosphere like the sulfuric particles that impede our oxygen supply in the heavy Makati air. I didn’t vote for Trump but I didn’t vote for Hillary either. I wrote in my candidate, someone who would represent the thoughtful center, someone who I thought would represent me.

Because my fiscal views are consistent with the political right, I have found my way into these communities in the Bay Area. One of them asked me not to criticize President Trump.

“But…I write a column,” I replied. “Do you mean that I shouldn’t write what I really think?”

There was some backpedalling, a lowered voice, and some reference to the First Amendment. That reference piqued my interest. It looked it up. Here it is:

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Female county leaders announce county support for A Day Without A Woman action

Santa Clara County, CA—Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Sheriff Laurie Smith, Public Defender Molly O’Neal, Clerk of the Board Megan Doyle, Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos, Chief Probation Officer Laura Garnette, Finance Agency Director Emily Harrison and other female county leaders announced at a press conference on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, County support for an A Day Without A Woman action.

“Every day throughout the County and the world, women play a vital social, economic and political role in society. Yet, we continue to face the wage gap, vulnerability to discrimination and other gender and economic injustices,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “That is why Santa Clara County supports A Day Without A Woman and continues to work towards pay equity and gender parity.”

Wednesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. In solidarity with campaigns happening across the globe, the national Women’s March on Washington organizers have called on women and allies to participate in a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity, A Day Without A Woman.

Women play an indispensable role in the daily functions of life throughout society, through seen and unseen, paid and unpaid labor. Despite this, women and gender nonconforming people continue to face many economic and gender injustices, such as the wage gap, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment and job insecurity. The goal of the A Day Without A Woman action is to call attention to these issues, while also highlighting the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies.

Suggested actions from the Women’s March website:

Anyone, anywhere can join by making March 8 A Day Without A Woman, in one or all of the following ways:
· Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor.
· Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
· Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman.
· Male allies: lean into care giving on March 8 and use the day to call out decision-makers at the workplace and in the government to extend equal pay and adequate paid family leave for women.
For more information about the national call to action, please visit the Women’s March website:https://www.womensmarch.com/womensday/.

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Lopez to CA member: Tell your brother he killed a mountain

MANILA – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez did not mince words during her confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, March 8.
While presenting her plans for mines affected by her department's closure orders, Lopez addressed San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora, the vice chair of the CA.
"Sorry, Mr Chairman, but that's your mine,” Lopez said referring to Hinatuan Mining Corporation which she ordered closed in February.
After she was corrected, Lopez continued: "That's your brother's mine.... Because Sir, you know they've been mining this for 20 years, and the mountain was really big and the mountain got small, and that's not legal at all, you've totally killed the mountain. Tell your brother he totally killed the mountain."


The congressman's older brother, Manuel Zamora, is the founder and chairman of Nickel Asia Corporation. Representative Zamora served in the board of Nickel Asia until his retirement from the company in 2013.
After the hearing that lasted two hours, Zamora told reporters that he has "no economic and financial interests" in any of his brother's companies.
Asked if he felt slighted with Lopez's remarks, he said he's already used to this since he's in politics.
"Very clearly she is passionate about her job," Zamora said of Lopez. "Whether she is qualified or not, that is something that the commission will be determining."

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DOH to revisit Magna Carta for public health workers

MANILA --Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial has directed her department to revisit and amend the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.
In a press briefing held at the Department of Health (DOH) media relations unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila, Ubial said the move aims to reinforce the benefits and provide security to health workers, particularly those deployed in Geographically Isolated and Depressed Areas (GIDA) and localities that are prone to violence.
Noting that the Magna Carta requires revisions, the health chief pointed out that although there is a provision on hardship allowance, hazard pay and overtime pay, there is no specific provision on safety.

"However, not all of those provisions are actually provided uniformly across the country. So, while some LGUs (local government units) provide the benefits, others do not," she said, stressing that like the military, health workers are exposed to various risks and thus need protection.
"They risk their lives in the line of duty while saving the lives of others. The service that they give is matchless and invaluable. Let not the life and death of Dr. (Dreyfuss) Perlas be forgotten and put to waste. We rally together with all health workers to continue the fight for better working conditions,” Ubial said.
She recounted that when she was deployed to Cotabato City, the LGU gave them security training, such as what to do when there are bombings.
Health workers could be trained on the use of firearms and handheld radios for their security, she said.
Meanwhile, the death of Perlas, who served two years under the DOH Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program, prompted his fellow barrio doctors to hold the Black Monday protest to demand justice and call attention to the needs of front-line health workers facing their daily battles of difficult working conditions, denial of legal benefits and other entitlements, harassment and acts of violence.
Masses were held across the country on Sunday, offering prayers for Perlas and honoring his example as a service-oriented and altruistic physician for the people of Mindanao.
Perlas was shot dead in Sapad, Lanao del Norte last March 1. Police have yet to identify his assailant. (PNA)

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