Opinion & Community

One California Resort/Casino Nominated for Best U.S. Casino Against Internationally Known Properties; Defends 2015 Title

TEMECULA, Calif. — (June 19, 2017) – Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., the largest resort/casino in Calif., was the only Calif. casino nominated to the list of the 10 best casinos in the country, representing Calif. as a whole. By Monday, July 17, four thousand Pechanga team members hope they will continue working for the #1 casino in the nation. Defending its title, Pechanga was voted the Best U.S. Casino in the 2015 USA Today 10Best poll. Since then, Pechanga has broken ground on a $285 million expansion set to be completed by the end of 2017, making the property the largest on the west coast and a massive employer in southern California, hiring nearly one thousand additional team members.

“We are really excited about this poll because it means for the second time, the experts who nominated us as well as our guests, are passionate enough about Pechanga to take a few moments and vote for us,” said General Manager Lee Torres. “Another #1 win would also greatly help brand our region as a premier destination spot with a lot to offer visitors.”

Through initial voting, Pechanga’s rank is No. 2. The tribal-owned casino is running against internationally known, five-star properties across the U.S.

“Visit Temecula Valley is excited to help spread the word to vote for Pechanga Resort & Casino as USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice for Best U.S. Casino,” said Kimberly Adams, Visit Temecula Valley C.E.O./President. “Pechanga is a favorite attraction within our destination that receives millions of visitors each year. This title is well deserved and winning would help market Temecula Valley as a premier destination.”

Pechanga is currently joined on the list of 20 resort/casinos by properties in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the south. Those interested can vote for Pechanga Resort & Casino by clicking HERE.

Casino properties were chosen for the poll by Lisa Robertson-Dziedzic, Editorial Director for Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazine, and by Tony Harrell, a certified destination expert for Las Vegas, New Orleans and Canada.

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FYLPRO’s Next Immersion Program Deadline is July 7

Is anyone shocked to see how upwardly mobile the Fil-Am community has been over the last 20 years, maybe 30 years? Long ago, there used to be an offensive joke that if you looked up “Filipina” in the American dictionary, the definition would say “domestic helper.” Now that seems ridiculous. In my everyday life, I don’t run into Filipinos in low skilled jobs. I run into them as teachers, doctors, nurses, and accountants. I see them in the real estate business, at banks, and at tech firms. On occasion, there’s a new Filipino billionaire at the helm of a hot IPO. And there’s Bruno Mars, Apl.de.ap, and the former Miss Universe. At the firm where I work, there are four Filipinos in a 25 person office—two are technologists, one is in finance, and there’s me. All this might be anecdotal, but I don’t think I need to pore through a pound of statistics to make the point that Filipinos living in the US are doing better today than they were two decades ago.

I can only guess at the causes. When we immigrated (or your ancestors immigrated), you had to cross an ocean to get here and likely came from an advantaged demographic that probably had a superior command of the English language, a higher appetite for risk, and a high regard for education and self improvement. As a former US colony, we were already familiar in fundamental ways with American culture. So when the dictatorial barrier crumbled 31 years ago, we had a cultural gap to close but we closed it quickly.

This generation of Fil-Am millennials blends effortlessly into general America. Couple this with the ascent of multiculturalism during the

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Government ready to punish those who commit abuses under martial law

By Alexis Romero (philstar.com)

Photo: Armored Personnel Carriers drive to the frontline in the continuing assaults to retake control of some areas of Marawi city Sunday, May 28, 2017 in southern Philippines. Philippine forces launched fresh airstrikes Sunday to drive out militants linked to the Islamic State group after days of fighting left corpses in the streets and hundreds of civilians begging for rescue from a besieged southern city. AP/Bullit Marquez


MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is ready to prosecute and to punish those who commit abuses under the martial law in Mindanao even as it urged critics to be “considerate” in their judgment of the efforts of security forces on the ground.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Lanao del Sur Chapter has claimed that the military rule in Mindanao, which was imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23 after a series of terrorist attacks in Marawi, has led to abuses like warrantless searches of houses and commercial establishments.

The lawyers’ group said government forces in Mindanao also ransacked and illegally intruded into residential and commercial establishments and disregarded the plain view doctrine in searches and seizures.

According to the group, the military and police disregarded the right against deprivation of property without due process of law, the right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and the privacy of communication and correspondence of innocent civilians.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella maintained that the government does not condone any form of abuses or illegal activity.

“We will investigate and if evidence warrants, prosecute and punish all those who committed abuses, especially sexual violence against women,” Abella said in a statement on Saturday.

“The President, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the Department of National Defense Secretary, who is the Mindanao administrator for martial law, do not encourage or tolerate abuses by the military or the police in Mindanao or elsewhere,” he added.

Abella cited a recent statement by the Commission on Human Rights that it has yet to find evidence of abuse in areas under martial law.

“Should there be, proper complaints must be properly filed,” the presidential spokesman said.

Abella appealed to critics to support the government forces’ efforts to secure the areas plagued by terrorists.

“Unless based on fact and evidence, we ask critics and advocates to be more considerate in their judgment of the efforts and context of our soldiers’ challenges and be more supportive of their efforts to protect the Filipino way of life,” he said.

In a press conference in Davao City last Friday, Abella called on critics to “grow up” and to be “more sophisticated.”

“We are actually supposed to be united against a common enemy. And actually, what we are having is, somebody trying to establish a state within a state,” Abella said, referring to the Islamic State.

“That is a clear and present danger. You know, what don’t you get about that? You know, I think it is about time that we really just grew up and became more mature, and became more politically more sophisticated and actually, aside from that, we’re really just more concerned and supportive of one another,” he added.

Abella also clarified that the government is providing enough support to security forces in Marawi after the military launched its “Support our Troops” campaign.

The campaign, which was being led by the Armed Forces Civil Relations Service, involves the selling of statement shirts meant to drum up public support for soldiers in the battlefield.

“The government has provided enough assistance to the families of our fallen soldiers,” Abella said.

“The Support Our Troops Campaign is an initiative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to boost the morale of our soldiers in the battlefield by showing that fellow Filipinos rally behind Filipino soldiers in fighting the terrorist rebels in Marawi,” he added.

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PCOO supports probe on fake news but...

By Alexis Romero (philstar.com)

Photo: PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said it is important to distinguish between legitimate media organizations and fake news sites. PPD/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Communications Operations Office is supportive of a congressional probe on the proliferation of fake news but believes that the government should not regulate the media.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said it is important to distinguish between legitimate media organizations and fake news sites that peddle false information.

“The problem with fake news is about determining the fake organizations and the bona fide media organizations. That is what we should do first. Once we identify them, let us look at the cause,” Andanar told radio station dzBB in Filipino on Saturday.

“I support calls in the Senate and Congress to conduct a hearing in aid of legislation on fake news,” he added.

Andanar noted that it is possible that the relaying of inaccurate information was unintentional.

“If it is an inaccurate information from legitimate media organization, perhaps the reason is shortcoming in the workflow and procedure. Definitely, it is not intentional,” he said.

Asked if he thinks a law is needed to curb fake news, Andanar said: “Well, it depends. Of course, it will be crafted by the Senate and Congress. What is important is identify first the fake and the legitimate.”

Andanar, a former news reader for TV5, said the media should remain free from government regulation.

“The media is self-regulated. We are not covered by the PRC (Professional Regulation Commission)…It is just right that we are not covered by PRC. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press should not be regulated by the government,” he added.

Earlier, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, called for an inquiry on the proliferation of fake news in the Internet.

Trillanes filed Senate Resolution no. 259 which aims to look into the spread of false information and the emergence of “social media trolls.” The senator defined trolls as those who deliberately create or foments discord and conflict on social media sites through the posting of controversial and inflammatory messages.

Sen. Joel Villanueva has also filed Senate Bill no. 1492, which aims to impose stiffer fines and penalties on those who produce and peddle fake news. Under the bill, the fines and penalties are stiffer if the purveyor of fake news is a government official.

Some government officials have been accused of being sources of fake news. Earlier this month, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre accused opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV of meeting with the Lucman and Alonto clans in Marawi weeks before terrorists attacked the city.

The justice chief later on claimed that he was misquoted by the media.

State-run Philippine News Agency recently drew flak for using a wrong photo in a story about the Marawi crisis. The government news agency used a Vietnam War photo from media file repository Wikimedia Commons.

PCOO Assistant Secretary and Duterte administration flamethrower Mocha Uson was also heavily criticized for using a photo of the Honduras police in a social network post urging the public to pray for Filipino troops in Marawi.

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Navy deploys newest war vessel near Marawi

By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) 


Photo: An Indonesian flag flutters from the rear deck of the new Philippine Navy ship named BRP Davao del Sur as it docks at Manila's South Harbor Wednesday, May 10, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. The Philippine Navy welcomed Wednesday the second Indonesian-made amphibious landing dock as part of the military's modernization program. AP/Bullit Marquez

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Navy is deploying its newest landing dock BRP Davao del Sur (LD602) in Cotabato to be used as instrument by military forces in battling the Islamic State-inspired militants in Marawi City, an official said here.

The 404-footer supply and operation ship, constructed by the Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL, made a two-day port call in the city. It will also deliver military logistics, supplies for soldiers and relief goods for the displaced civilians of Marawi.

Rear Admiral Rene Medina, commander of Naval Force Western Mindanao (NFWM), visited the ship docked at the Zamboanga port. He said its presence will help secure the coastal water in the Cotabato area while it serves as staging pad of the Augusta Westland attack helicopters.

“Its presence will boost the security in the area,” Medina said.

There were reports that members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups who led the Marawi siege may slip and find its way out of the besieged city, by using the seawaters of Cotabato towards the island provinces.

BRP Davao del Sur had its open house for two days, showing its capability as a landing platform dock. It also gave the opportunity for residents to have a guided tour of the ship.

Captain Richard Gonzaga, BRP Davao del Sur commanding officer, said the ship has its own medical facility where wounded soldiers can receive treatment.

Gonzaga said the Naval Reserve Center and NFWM also conducted recruitment activities aboard ship for interested individuals who wish to join the roster of the Philippine Navy.

Gonzaga said the presence if the LD602 was aimed at promoting peace, developing friendly relations and bringing the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines closer to the hearts of the people here and Filipinos in general.

BRP Davao del Sur, commissioned in the service of the Philippine Navy last May 31, was the second landing dock after BRP Tarlac (LD-601) was delivered and commissioned on the same month last year.

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Muntinlupa solon seeks court's nod for trip to Italy, Switzerland

By Elizabeth Marcelo (philstar.com) |

Photo: A hold departure order was issued against Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon in connection with his cases of graft, malversation of public funds and direct bribery over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam. Philstar.com/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon has asked permission of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to allow him to leave the country next month to join his fellow congressmen in an official visit to Italy and Switzerland.

In his four-page motion filed before the court's Seventh Division, Biazon through his lawyer, said he and the members of the House of Representative committee on foreign affairs are set to visit the electronic passport production sites in Milan, Italy and in Zurich, Switzerland from July 7 to July 16.

Biazon said the members of the House panel are also set to visit the consular sections of the Philippine Embassies in Milan and Zurich to observe the implementation process of the e-passport system.

Biazon said their scheduled visit is in relation to the House committee's deliberation on pending bills that seek to extend the validity of Philippine passport to ten years from the current five years.

“Being a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the duly elected representative of the lone district of Muntinlupa, accused would want to be informed and be educated on the salient and security features of the ePassport System to enable him to actively participate and protect the concerns and interest of his constituents during deliberations...as regards the amendments to the 1996 Passport Law,” Biazon's motion read.

After the official visit, Biazon said he wishes to extend his trip for another three days or until July 20 for a personal tour with his wife in the scenic places of Switzerland.”

Biazon assured the court that “no government funds will be spent for the official travel” while expenses for he and his wife's personal tour will be shouldered by him.

Biazon also maintained that he is not a flight risk.

“He is incumbent representative of the Lone District of Muntinlupa, his family are staying here in the Philippines and he has no reason to abscond,” Biazon said in his motion.

It was in May 2016 when the Seventh Division issued a hold departure order against Biazon to prevent him from leaving the country unless there is a prior written approval from the court.

The HDO was issued in connection with his cases of graft, malversation of public funds and direct bribery over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam.

Biazon is accused of allocating P3 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel in 2007 to one of the fake foundations linked with the alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in exchange for P1.950 million worth of kickbacks.

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P10-M shabu in ex-Marawi mayor’s house affirms narco terrorism — Palace

By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) |

Photo: Government troops on Friday recovered two kilos of shabu worth P10 million from a house owned by the former mayor of Marawi City. Philstar.com/John Unson/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The recovery of P10 million worth of shabu in the house of former Marawi mayor Omar Solitario Ali affirmed the link between the ongoing crisis in the city and illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Saturday.

Security forces seized two kilos of shabu worth P10 million from a house of Ali while conducting clearing operations in battle ravaged Marawi City last Friday. Authorities are convinced that the house was used by the Maute terrorists as a safe house.

“This development will hopefully bring to bear the realities existing in the area about the close relation between the illegal drug trade and this ongoing rebellion,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Ali is one of the persons in the arrest order issued by the Defense department after President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23. He was also one of the politicians accused by Duterte of having ties with the illegal drugs trade.

Ali’s brother Fajad Salic, also a former mayor of Marawi, has been charged with rebellion for allegedly supporting the Maute terrorists that occupied Marawi City last month.

Duterte has repeatedly claimed that money from illegal drugs is funding the terrorist activity in Mindanao.

“Drugs fueled martial law…And it’s because of the drug money, they were funding the terrorism. It’s part of rebellion,” he said in a speech in Tacurong City last June 7.

In a report on martial law that he submitted to Congress, the president said the Maute militants have ties to foreign armed groups and are benefitting from illegal drug money.

“Reports abound that foreign-based terrorist groups, the ISIS in particular, as well as illegal drug money, provide financial and logistical support to the Maute group,” Duterte said in the report.

“Considering the network and alliance-building activities among terrorist groups, local criminals, and lawless armed men, the siege of Marawi City is a vital cog in attaining their longstanding goal: Absolute control over the entirety of Mindanao,” he added.

In a speech before military troops in Sulu last May 29, Duterte said Mindanao has been a "hotbed" of shabu as some politicians have made a fortune out of the illegal drug.

"(It) actually started with drugs. And they were producing drugs halfway, not really for business but to fund the terrorism," he said.

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Google to stop scanning Gmail for creating targeted ads

By Laharee Chatterjee, Reuters

People visit Google's booth at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would stop scanning Gmail content for creating personalized ads from later this year, bringing the widely-used email service in line with its enterprise offering, G Suite.

The decision was outlined in a blog post by Google cloud computing chief Diane Greene, who joined the company in 2015 and has been responsible for the rapid growth of Google’s cloud business.

Google’s practice of analyzing incoming and outgoing emails of its free consumer Gmail users has been criticized on privacy concerns.

Google’s G Suite business bundle have been gaining more enterprise users in the past year, with more than 3 million companies paying for the G Suite service, the company said.

Gmail has more than 1.2 billion users worldwide

Boom’s supersonic prototype prepares for 2018 test flight

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