Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Your horoscope for Chinese New Year 2018, the Year of the Dog

MANILA, Philippines – The New Year celebrations aren’t over! This February 16, we celebrate Chinese New Year and ring in the Year of the Dog.

This new lunar year is an Earth Dog, and will mark the tides starting to turn, as it’s sandwiched between the previous fire and and wood years and the water and metal years to come.

The Earth Dog will bring about a return to our roots; it will be a time for meditation and contemplation. Wellness clinics will do well this year, and any industries that have to do with comfort and the feeling of home. Because the money element of wood is earth, industries that have to do with wood – creative ones like design, architecture, journalism, and the like – will do well too.

With the good also comes the bad. This Year of the Earth Dog, be wary of earth-related incidents like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. All the introspection will also lead to a very emotional year. The cure: stay close to your loved ones and your core support group, because they can help you surpass the daunting mountains.

Aside from telling us what’s to come in the year ahead, Feng Shui expert Princess Lim Fernandez also told us about our luck for the year according to our Chinese zodiac signs. You can find out your zodiac sign based on the year you were born here.

If your zodiac sign won’t have the best luck this year, don’t fret! The signs according to the year you were born only affect your external luck – your business and how you relate to your colleagues and employees. The luck of your animal sign for the month (industry and career) and the day (health and relationships) you were born will help balance out what you’ll experience in the months ahead.


Ironically, it’s not going to be the best year for Dogs. To counter your bad luck this year, be creative, think out of the box, and approach your problems differently. If your day animal is a Dog, then try to keep your emotions and temper in check. When things get too stressful, stop, take a breath, and go out – take a break by taking a walk or even going for a run.


Pigs will have great luck this year, so it’s best to take advantage of it. Do the things you’ve always wanted to do or achieve goals that have been on your resolutions list for ages. By doing this, you’ll be preparing for a not-so-great 2019, and you’ll be able to maintain the status quo in the following year.


Rats have a promotion star in their charts, which is a good sign for their careers and business. But be careful whenever you’re near water, because you may end up hurting yourself, whether you’re in the rain, or you’re by the pool, or even in your bathtub.


The Ox will have a great year, especially if he or she has a business related to women – cosmetics, fashion, and the like – because they have a “female benefactor” in their charts.


Tigers’ luck won’t be bad, but it won’t be particularly great either. To avoid your bad luck, keep moving – travel whenever you can, whether it’s for business or pleasure, and whether it’s internationally or locally. Keep an eye out for new discoveries in your travels too, as a learning star is in your charts this year.


Rabbits didn’t have such a great 2017, but 2018 is making up for it. Not only do they have a career star, but also a star of kindness – this means they’re in a great position to guide people, and help out whenever others seek out advice. To make the most of your luck, be magnanimous and generous, and fix any unresolved issues before February 16. Be careful of attracting envy over the year too!


Dragons are in direct conflict with the Dog, so they’re under a lot of pressure this year. Be cautious – be more conservative with your investments and always have a Plan B. You can also go to more positive events – parties and celebrations – and avoid negative places – funerals and hospitals – if you can.


Snakes who were frustrated last year will reap the rewards of their hard work this Year of the Dog. Make the most of it, though, because you won’t have the best 2019. Take advantage of your matchmaker and phoenix stars to find your perfect match or even to woo business partners or potential employers. You’ll have business luck too, with emperor and prosperity stars that could give you either a role expansion at work or a promotion.


Horses have a “golden treasure box” this year, which they must open by learning new things. Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself this Year of the Dog and you’ll reap all the rewards of your hard work soon.


The benevolent star in your chart, Goat, will give you the opportunity to turn things around when a situation seems hopeless, even when it’s at the last minute. As the blessings in disguise come in this year, be on your guard against gossip – be careful of what you say and do.


Monkeys won’t have the greatest luck this year, but it won’t be bad either. Try to travel as much as you can to keep the bad vibes at bay. You’re judgement will also be clouded this year, so don’t make any rash decisions. Consult a family member or your close friends before choosing a path.


This year, Rooster, take it easy and prioritize your health. Take the time to invest in yourself and your personal growth. Your career and money luck may slow down in 2018, but that’s okay – you’re preparing yourself for good things to come in 2019. –


Satanic Temple fights abortion law in Missouri Supreme Court

The Satanic Temple squared off this week over abortion restrictions as a member argued they violate her "deeply held religious beliefs" before the Missouri Supreme Court.

The case of the Satanist, identified anonymously in court documents as Mary Doe, convinced a state appeals court last fall that Missouri's law providing an ultrasound of her fetus prior to an abortion may "violate the Religion Clause rights of pregnant women," that court ruled


Now the Satanic Temple, which filed a lawsuit on Doe's behalf in 2015, saw oral arguments for the case to go before state's highest court on Tuesday, Newsweek reported.

“The state has essentially established a religious indoctrination program intended to promote a religious viewpoint that life begins at conception,” Jex Blackmore, a Satanic Temple spokeswoman, said in a statement last fall. “The law is intended to punish women who disagree with this opinion.”

The Satanic Temple, an religious organization, has made headlines in recent years as a foil to religious influence in government, pushing for after-school programs and a statue of the idol Baphomet on public grounds. (The Massachusetts-based group views Satan as a metaphor for rebellion, not a literal figure.)

According to a case summary, Doe became pregnant in February 2015 and came to a St. Louis clinic that May for an abortion, where the clinic offered to let Doe hear her fetus' heartbeat during an ultrasound and was given a booklet that "states that human life begins at conception."

She received the abortion after a required 72-hour waiting period, despite giving doctors a letter beforehand stating her "deeply held religious beliefs that a non-viable fetus is not a separate human being but is part of her body and that abortion of a non-viable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

At question, the summary states, is whether Doe "sufficiently stated" her religious objection to the law. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office, which is defending the state, has argued that Doe "failed to allege any conflict between her putative Satanic beliefs" and the state's law, NBC reports.


On Tuesday, according toThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Judge Laura Denvir Stith noted that while doctors are required to provide the booklet, Doe "wasn’t required to read it.”

“She wasn’t forced to say she agreed with it,” Stith said.

  • Published in U.S.

Jericho Cruz placed on trading block as Rain or Shine faces Meralco

The ROS team management is now amenable to letting go of Jericho Cruz for as long as they get an acceptable trade. | PBA Images
MANILA, Philippines – Fiery Magnolia guns for the solo lead in taking on skidding Blackwater even as Rain or Shine tangles with Meralco in what could well be its last game with playmaker Jericho Cruz in the PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night.

The Hotshots chase a fifth straight win and sixth in seven games in all while the Elite look to check a three-game slide as they clash in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser.

Magnolia, which currently shares the lead with San Miguel Beer at 5-1, is the odds-on pick even as Paul Lee is a doubtful starter due to a severe ankle sprain sustained in a bad fall in their last game against TNT KaTropa Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Elasto Painters square off with the Bolts at 7 p.m., hoping to overcome distractions brought about by the growing disenchantment of certain players to coach Caloy Garcia.

For one, the ROS team management is now amenable to letting go of Cruz for as long as they get an acceptable trade.

NLEX, Kia, Phoenix Petroleum and TNT KaTropa are among teams interested on Cruz.

Raymond Almazan has also expressed his desire to be traded, but Garcia still hopes he can patch things up with the 6-foot-7 center.

“Coach Caloy said he’ll talk again with Raymond. Baka raw tampo lang,” said Danny Espiritu, agent of Almazan.

“But Cruz has said his wish to coach Caloy, and the management has decided they’re letting him go for an acceptable trade deal,” said Espiritu.

A possibility is a swap between Cruz and NLEX guard Kevin Alas. There’s also the offer of Kia involving Reden Celda and a future draft pick.

Amidst this issue, the E-Painters are trying to stay positive, hoping to score a follow-up to their 97-86 toppling of the Road Warriors the last time out.

The Elasto Painters are currently in a three-way logjam at fifth place with the Barangay Ginebra Kings and the GlobalPort Batang Pier at 3-3. The Bolts are a full game behind at 2-4.

The Hotshots are the hottest team at the moment but they’re wary of the Elite.

“They are very dangerous since they have lost their last three games,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.

“We need to match their effort and aggressiveness. We also need to work on our consistency on both ends, and minimize our turnovers,” Victolero also said.

  • Published in Sports

Palace to CBCP: Creeping dictatorship far fetched

Protesters burn a cube effigy with the faces of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and President Rodrigo Duterte during a rally near the Presidential Palace to call for an end to the killings in the so-called war on drugs of Duterte and his alleged "tyrannical rule" in the country, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez
MANILA, Philippines — A creeping dictatorship under the Duterte administration is far-fetched, Malacañang said Thursday, after Catholic bishops issued guidelines for discerning the moral dimension of charter change.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reiterated that Duterte is an "advocate of the rule of law" and has no intention to remaining in power beyond his term.

"We understand the sentiments of the Catholic bishops on their aversion to charter change and federalism. We, however, assure our bishops that the President has no interest to extend his term nor will he push for no election," Roque said in a press briefing in Baguio City.

"The creeping dictatorship that, the Catholic hierarchy fears, is a far-fetched idea," he added.

Roque said Duterte has been "clear and unequivocal" that he would follow the Constitution and finish his term on the noon of June 30, 2022.

The Catholic Bishops COnference of the Philippines has issued pastoral guidelines on charter change as efforts to amend the Constitution to establish a federal government are gaining ground in Congress.

The CBCP said its stand is based on the principles of human dignity and human rights, integrity and truth, participation and solidarity and common good.

According to the bishops, the principle of integrity and trust requires total transparency and accountability, clarity and purity of motives.

"When the move for Charter change becomes self-serving, such as when it calls for “No-El” (no elections) and pushes for an extension of terms of office, it is to be expected that citizens would react with suspicion, astonishment and exasperation," the CBCP said.

"In addition the feeling of a creeping dictatorship is conjured by past experience. Moreover, political dynasties are really and factually becoming a dominant factor in our country’s political life," it added.

The opposition is worried that charter change can be used to lift the term limits of the president and other officials. Malacañang has denied this, saying a term extension is Duterte's "ultimate nightmare."


DOTr: Japanese engineers kick off MRT-3 system audit

MRT-3 (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

More than 50 railway engineers and experts from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have started its system audit of the glitch-prone Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on Thursday.

The DOTr said the system audit would determine what was needed to rehabilitate and restore in the MRT-3 system.

Once the audit is completed, a rehabilitation and maintenance provider to be nominated by JICA would be mobilized in May to fix the transit line, the DOTr disclosed.


“We obviously need all the help we can get and we are very grateful that the Japanese government answered our call for assistance to rehabilitate and restore the MRT-3 system,” DOTr OIC Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan said in a statement.

Batan explained that JICA’s audit was separate from the ongoing independent audit and assessment by TUV Rheinland for the entire MRT-3 system, as well as the new train cars procured from China-based railways firm CRRC Dalian.

The additional trains were expected to arrive in February as the first batch of spare parts for current MRT-3 trains were scheduled to be delivered and installed in the same month, Batan said.

“Sec. Tugade ordered the creation of a Special Bids and Awards Committee for MRT-3 to address the urgent need to restore its service, which require the expedited procurement of spare parts, among others,” he added. /je



Al Parreño named new Comelec acting chair

Commission on Elections (Comelec ) Commissioner Al A. Parreño has been designated the next acting chairman of the poll body.

Incumbent acting Comelec chair Robert Lim, who is set to retire on Friday, February 2, disclosed this during the hearing of the joint congressional oversight committee on the Automated Election System held at the Senate on Thursday.

“Yesterday during the en banc session, we have designated Al Parneño to be the acting chairman after I retire on February 2, your honor,” Lim told the committee.

He said Director Teopisto E. Elnas, Jr. on the other hand, was designated as project management director. /kga

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Customs broker Taguba to stay in NBI jail

Customs fixer Mark Taguba is facing drug imporation charge before a Manila trial court, and drug trading charges before a Valenzuela trial court over the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs in 2017. The STAR/Boy Santos
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday said that the accused Customs fixer Mark Taguba will stay in their detention following his pending court trial.

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin presented Taguba before the press on Thursday noon. He said that Taguba was transferred to NBI's custody "after proper turnover of the Office of Sergeant at Arms where he was given protective custody" on Wednesday night.

Taguba is facing an arrest warrant issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 for drug importation charge filed by the Department of Justice.

Lavin cleared that Taguba is facing a non-bailable case.

NBI Deputy Director for Investigative Service Dante de Guzman said that Taguba is currently staying in a detention cell inside the NBI compound in Manila.

"Today, we will be filing a return [of warrant] before the Manila court," De Guzman added.

Taguba is one of the key figures in the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs last year. He revealed before the Senate the supposed passing of grease money among Customs officials.

Taguba was given legislative protection by the Senate for testifying in its probe on the multi-billion shabu shipment case.

Tagged in the multi-billion controversy is former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon, who is currently detained in the Pasay City Jail. The Senate ordered his transfer after he failed the contrition test.

Also facing a warrant of arrest are Kenneth Dong, Manny Li, EMT Trading owner Eirene Mae Tatad, Teejay Marcellana, Chen I-Min, Jhu Ming Jyu and Chen Rong Juan.

The court did not order a warrant of arrest against businessman Richard Tan or Chen Ju Long due to his pending motion to dismiss before the court.

The NBI said that it is using its force to hunt down the others who are facing arrest warrants.

Taguba and the eight others are facing a separate charge of drug trading before Valenzuela regional trial court.


Pimentel trusts Pangilinan on Cha-cha proposals but…

Senator Francis Pangilinan. FILE PHOTO

Should the Senate majority “detect bad faith” in the report of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s committee on Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals, the Senate leadership would be compelled to seek a change in the chairmanship of the panel.

But at this point, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel sees no reason to make such move as he trusts that Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, would deliver on their agreement of fairness, good faith, and transparency on the issue of Cha-cha.

“That was my only request, please be fair and keep an open mind. Basta ito ang commitment sa akin ni Senator Pangilinan. He will not be an obstructionist. He will, in good faith, hear and pursue all of the referrals in his committee. He will proceed at a reasonable pace and then also, he will be open and transparent,” Pimentel said in a press conference.


Pimentel, president of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), attended the launching of the book, “The Quest for a Federal Republic: The PDP-Laban Model of Ph Federalism 1.0.”

“So, maganda na nga ito that the minority heads the committee, which will hear the proposal of the admin. If ever we could come up with an agreement, that is a bipartisan effort,” Pimentel also said.

According to Pimentel, it does not worry him that Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), presides over the hearing on proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

“If, for example, there is bad faith and we detect bad faith we can always change the leadership of the committee. Kasi call naman ng majority ‘yan eh. But we already have an agreement,” he pointed out.

Pimentel likewise said that while they have yet to come up with a version of the new Constitution that would establish a federal form of government, Pimentel remained confident that Pangilinan would “hear all the referral to his committee in good faith.”

“Alam mo, No. 1, the committee will have to discuss hindi lang naman sa chairman ng committee, then it will be given to the plenary, and the plenary will discuss it. They belong to the minority so they are not supposed to control the agenda,” Pimentel noted. /kga



Leftists slam rearrest of NDF consultant over 'trumped-up charges'

NDF ADVISER. National Democratic Front senior adviser Luis Jalandoni condemns the arrest of NDF consultant Rafael Baylosis. File ohoto by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The National Democratic Front and progressive lawmakers on Thursday, February 1, condemned the arrest of NDF consultant Rafael Baylosis.

“This illegal arrest and detention of NDFP Consultant Rafael Baylosis is a flagrant violation of the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” NDF national executive committee member Luis Jalandoni said in a statement.

The JASIG, signed between the Philippine government and the NDF in 1995, guarantees “free and unhindered passage” inside and outside the Philippines for persons involved in the peace talks. It also means they are immune from “surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions.”

“The NDFP demands the immediate and unconditional release of NDFP Consultant Rafael Baylosis and his companion, Jun,” said Jalandoni.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended the move, saying it would be a “dereliction of duty” on the part of the government not to arrest a person “who has a case, who has a warrant of arrest, if there is basis for a warrantless arrest.”

“Kung tingin nila illegal, magfile sila ng habeas corpus. Wala namang martial law sa Luzon…Tungkulin ng Presidente na ipatupad ang batas (If they think that this is illegal, file a habeas corpus. There is no martial law in Luzon….The President has the duty to enforce the law),” Roque said in a news briefing in Baguio City, when asked about criticism over the arrest of Baylosis.

Roque also stressed that the JASIG, which shielded NDF consultants from arrest, was no longer in effect following the termination of the peace talks.

“Wala namang saysay ang JASIG na ‘yun kasi wala nang peace talks (That JASIG is useless since there are no peace talks),” Roque said.


Baylosis was arrested by personnel of the police’s Criminal investigation and Detection Group National Capital Region (NCR). He was detained at the CIDG in Camp Crame after his arrest at around 3:45 pm on January 31 in Quezon City.

According to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Baylosis was arrested for alleged possession of illegal firearms.

Baylosis, believed to be a former leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was the first NDF consultant to be rearrested after President Rodrigo Duterte ended the talks and declared members of the CPP-New Peoples’ Army as terrorists. The President had also called on the NDF consultants to “surrender.”

Progressive lawmakers also criticized Baylosis’ arrest. Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate pointed out that the Philippine government’s peace panel has yet to send a written and official termination of the peace talks.

“The arrest can be interpreted as harassment against the NDFP consultants and personnel to weaken their stance in the talks, particularly in the signing of the Comprehensive Agrrement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) now pending in the peace table,” he said.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago also condemned the arrest, saying it was the first of a “grand crackdown and all-out war against the Filipinos.”

“Duterte’s insincerity is manifest in his fickle-mindedness in pursuing the peace talks,” she added.

Progressive groups staged a protest in front of Camp Crame Thursday morning to call for the release of Baylosis.

ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro both criticized the arrest, saying it was based on a warrant that “stemmed from false or trumped-up charges, and after the peace talks were terminated by Duterte.” –



Ombudsman refuses to suspend deputy

Conchita Carpio Morales and her deputy, Melchor Arthur Carandang —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales will “not enforce” what she calls Malacañang’s “patently unconstitutional” suspension of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, denouncing the Palace move as a “clear affront” to her office and the Supreme Court.

Breaking her silence two days after the Office of the President’s order was announced on Monday, Morales said “the recent spate of events poses a great cause for concern.”

She said the Palace action “was not an inadvertent error but a clear affront to the Supreme Court and an impairment of the constitutionally enshrined independence of the Office of the Ombudsman.”


She also called out the Office of the President (OP) for its “arbitrary disregard of a clearly worded jurisprudence coupled with a confident stance that it will be changed.”

The OP suspended Carandang for 90 days after charging him with three administrative offenses for allegedly disclosing President Duterte’s alleged bank records.

Supreme Court ruling

The move is controversial because the Supreme Court in a Jan. 28, 2014, ruling declared unconstitutional the Ombudsman Act’s provision that gave the OP disciplinary powers over the government watchdog’s deputies.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday that the OP was “confident” that the Supreme Court would “reverse” its pronouncement in Carandang’s case.

Still, Morales said “the Ombudsman will … not allow herself to betray her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by recognizing what is patently unconstitutional as ordained by the Supreme Court …”

“The Ombudsman cannot … seriously place at risk the independence of the very office [that] she has pledged to protect on the strength of the constitutional guarantees which the high court has upheld,” she said.

This was the first time Morales issued a substantive press statement in four months, as she had lain low after Mr. Duterte threatened to have her impeached.


Impeachment threat

The President made the threat in the wake of Morales’ refusal to back down on her agency’s probe of Mr. Duterte and his family’s bank transactions before he won the presidency.

Malacañang earlier accused the Ombudsman of being part of a plot to oust the President.

Mr. Duterte’s attacks on Morales last year came after Carandang disclosed to a media group that he had in his custody “more or less” the same bank documents that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had used to support his plunder allegations against the President.

Carandang is spearheading the investigation into Mr. Duterte’s alleged unexplained wealth, as Morales has inhibited herself from proceedings against him since she is the aunt of his son-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio.

The furious President said on Oct. 2 that the Office of the Ombudsman’s bank documents were “illegally obtained” and said it “held evidence that they took without the permission” of the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Mr. Duterte said the Ombudsman should have secured first a court order to make its possession of his bank transaction documents legal.

Then, on Oct. 4, Mr. Duterte claimed that his alleged bank records came from “a certain Abad who is [the] mistress” of Trillanes. The President reportedly referred to former AMLC Executive Director Julia Baccay-Abad.

2006-2015 transactions

A month before the presidential election in 2016, the senator furnished the documents showing Mr. Duterte had transactions amounting to at least P2 billion in several bank accounts in the country.

From 2006 to 2015, Mr. Duterte held seven joint accounts with his daughter Sara at Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City, nine joint accounts at BPI Edsa Greenhills branch, and one joint account at Banco de Oro branch in Davao City.

Mr. Duterte, according to Trillanes, did not declare at least P227 million at BPI Julia Vargas in his 2014 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

In his 2014 SALN, Mr. Duterte reported a net worth of P21.97 million. He also reported cash assets worth P13.84 million, but he did not disclose how and when he acquired these.

Mr. Duterte initially denied the existence of the bank account at BPI branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig but later admitted that it had less than P200 million.

He said he did not declare the big amount in his SALN in 2014 because he had already spent it. He said the money came from friends as a birthday gift.

‘Not ironclad’

Sought for comment, lawyer Manuelito Luna, who initiated the complaint against Carandang in October last year, claimed Carandang “can now be bodily thrown out of his office” by the police “and Morales cannot do anything about it.”

Luna said the 2014 Supreme Court ruling should be disregarded, claiming it was “not ironclad and doctrinal” because it was reached through a split vote of 8-7.

This prompted ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio to call on the Ombudsman to “vigorously defend itself from yet another attempt by the Duterte administration to weaken institutional checks on graft, corruption and abuse of power in government.” —With a report from Inquirer Research


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