Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 09 May 2017

Cayetano is next DFA Secretary – Duterte

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday confirmed that Senator Alan Peter Cayetano will become the next Foreign Affairs Secretary.

Duterte said he just signed Wednesday Cayetano’s appointment paper.


“Dito sa DFA, I remember I signed an appointment just before I left my room, I saw the name of Senator Cayetano,” Duterte told reporters before leaving for Cambodia.

Cayetano’s appointment was signed just as the one-year appointment ban after the elections ended.

After winning the presidential race last year, Duterte said he would offer the foreign affairs portfolio to Cayetano, his running mate, after the one-year appointment ban on defeated candidates lapses. Duterte repeated his promise last December.

Accepting the foreign affairs portfolio means Cayetano would have to abandon his Senate seat four years into his term. Cayetano succeeded in his Senate re-election bid in 2013, which means his 6-year term as senator will end in 2019.

Duterte’s first foreign affairs secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr., had to leave his post after his appointment was rejected by Congress due to questions about his citizenship.

Yasay was replaced by Enrique Manalo, a career diplomat, as acting secretary. 


Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

PAO chief Acosta: Some UNHRC officials back PHL’s anti-drug drive

Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta on Wednesday insisted that not all United Nations Human Rights Council  officials oppose the Philippine government's heightened drive against the illegal drug menace. 

Acosta, who was is Geneva for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the human rights performance of UN-member states, made the remark amid accusations, especially from UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, that Filipinos are facing hard times due to thousands of deaths under President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotic crackdown.

DzBB's Benjie Liwanag quoted Acosta as saying that that she shook hands with a number UNHRC officials and some of them, she claimed, back Duterte's anti-illegla drugs campaign.

Forty-five of the 47 UNHRC officials voted for a motion to investigate reports of alleged extrajudicial killings under the shadow of the present administration's drug crackdown.

Acosta also claimed that no one during the UPR directly criticized the Philippines' anti-drug war, for the simple reason that the government does not tolerate extrajudicial killings.

She called on all stakeholders to embrace an unbiased view on the alleged etrajudicial killings issue. If not, she said, the intention to destroy the Duterte administration will prevail over the legitimate cause to crush drug addiction and criminality in the Philippines.  —LBG, GMA News


Lucky Pinay gets greeting from Emma Watson

MANILA – A Filipina student just found her motivation to study in “Beauty and the Beast” star Emma Watson.

Facebook user Therese Kiara shared that she got a greeting from Watson during a conversation with her mother on the video call app Facetime.

“I was studying for my Bio exam when my Mom called to show Emma Watson standing behind her, then she politely asked Emma if she can say hi to me on the cam. She was so kind and sweet,” she wrote as she uploaded screenshots of Watson joining in their conversation.


The actress was quoted as saying: “Sure! Hi! Study hard!”

Speaking with ABS-CBN News, Kiara said she hopes that her experience will “motivate more people to study hard.”

Check out her Facebook post(above), which has gone viral in only a matter of days.


Kim Chiu’s newfound love: Duathlon

Last Feb. 18 in Subic, I ran into Kim Chiu who was so focused on her duathlon training.


Kim has always been a consistent gym goer starting one year after her PBB Teen Edition.  But these past few months, I started noticing her cycling and running activities. She still trains at the gym with fitness couple Boyet and Susan Trinidad and also runs with them outside the gym.

This week, her new ABS-CBN teleserye Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin started to unfold the story of two triathletes who will strive to reach for their dreams and fight for their true love.

This is the most-awaited television reunion of Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson. Kim and Gerald will play Bianca and Gabriel, childhood friends determined to give their families a better future. The sport triathlon became their chosen means to uplift their plight, and also brought them together as a couple. 

Jake Cuenca, who plays Carlos, the top triathlete in the country, will also fall in love with Bianca. The stellar cast includes Coleen Garcia, Bing Loyzaga, Ayen Munji-Laurel, Gina Pareño, Michael de Mesa, among many others.

Kim Chiu had to prepare well to play the role of an elite athlete. Thankfully, she enjoyed the process. “Kim really enjoys training and she is very committed,” says her fitness coach Susan Trinidad. 

Susan adds, “She is disciplined to train even by herself. For example, for a recent 21k run, though she was abroad for work, we constantly messaged each other regarding how to continue her training. In short, her program, designed by Boyet, was remotely supervised.”

She joined her first duathlon at the Pilipinas Duathlon Series last March 5. She was invited to join by her good friend Jake Cuenca. She only had one month to prepare for the competition, but she pulled through and finished strong. Just recently she finished her first 21k in the NatGeo 2017 run.

Kim holding her first 21k medal with fitness couple and coaches Boyet and Susan Trinidad

Kim’s personal trainers share some interesting facts. Coach Susan says, “Kim’s interest in duathlon began when she started shooting for her teleserye as a triathlete.  Before the actual shoot, they trained her to swim and ride a bike. She already runs fast because of her previous training with coach Boyet. She enjoys collecting medals from all the runs.”

Susan continues, “When she has free time, she makes it a point to work out or train. Because of her training, she tries to sleep early unlike before. Her gym training is now more sport-specific. If she has races, Boyet makes a program for her, then I just incorporate it with our training in the gym.”

Boyet adds, “She has not yet joined a full marathon, but she aims to run a full 42k next year. She finished 16k, 21k, a couple of 10k, and a duathlon. In the gym, we simulate outdoor runs with an incline trainer, focusing on split intervals and tempo runs using treadmills. We also do cross training sometimes with spinning class. Indoor training is effective for those who don’t have time to run outside.”

“Strength training is also very important in her sport since duathlon involves multiple movements. We do lots of functional and core training to improve her cardio and muscular strength and endurance while doing her sport,” Boyet concludes.

Like Kim Chiu, you, too, can enjoy the benefits of duathlon training. “Participating in sports and recreational activities, such as triathlons or duathlons, validates hard work inside the gym,” enthuses running coach Edsel Vengco. “Duathlon focuses a lot on the lower body, from cycling to running, then back to cycling. A duathlete needs to have good lower body strength and endurance to fulfill this event,” he explains. 

Coach Edsel has three tips for starters. “Tip 1: Run the first half with your head and the last half with your heart. Runners tend to get carried over at the start of the run, which could potentially deplete their energy stores faster. So, run the first half just sticking to your pace and watch yourself overtake other runners during the latter half.

“Tip 2: Know your pace. There are free apps available that can track your run and calculate your average pace in minutes per kilometer. This would allow you to train better by allowing your body to get used to that pace and eventually beat it.

“Tip 3: Arrive early. Arriving early would allow you to have enough time to warm up and adjust your bladder. Being late in a run would mean that you would have to snake through so many people. So, being relatively somewhere in the front would translate to a better, more enjoyable run experience.”

(The Philippine Star)

  • Published in Sports

History shows Seaba should be walk in the park for Gilas Pilipinas

Jio Jalalon was part of the last Philippines team that saw action in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship held 2 years ago in Singapore.

That team annihilated the competition by an average margin of 68.4 points. And it did so by fielding a roster of Marcus Douthit mixed with collegiate players, including Arellano University's Jalalon.


On Friday, Gilas Pilipinas begins the 12th edition of the regional tournament boasting a hyper-loaded lineup, one that’s composed of June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro and other big guns of the PBA.

“Kailangan overkill ito,” said Robbie Puno, vice chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the sport’s national governing body.

“Remember this is a tournament that’s going to be held in the Philippines. I think it’ll be a lot of fun if we blow out all of our opponents every single game in front of the home crowd.”

Gilas Pilipinas Seaba schedule (All games 7 p.m.)
May 12 (Friday) -- Myanmar
May 13 (Saturday) -- Singapore
May 14 (Sunday) -- Malaysia
May 15 (Monday) break
May 16 (Tuesday) -- Thailand
May 17 (Wednesday) -- Malaysia
May 18 (Thursday) -- Indonesia

Judging by Gilas’ history in Seaba, expect the hosts to inflict a bloodbath.

Consider these previous results:

  • In 2011, the Philippines saw withdrawals by national team mainstays Jimmy Alapag, Asi Taulava and Kelly Williams and still pulverized the opposition by an average margin of 40.3 points.
  • In 2009, Yeng Guiao, the team’s coach at the time, considered Malaysia to be the Philippines’ toughest opponent. The Filipinos won their game by 27 points, and the tournament by an average of 38.
  • In 2007, the Philippines used a squad of amateurs, PBA newbies and journeymen. The Filipinos thumped the field by an average of 38.5 points.

Gilas’ lineup for the 7-day Seaba competition to be held at Araneta Coliseum is so strong it’s as if it’s preparing to face a team in the top 50 in FIBA’s rankings. In reality, Gilas’ highest-ranked opponent in Seaba is No. 72 Indonesia, followed by Thailand at No. 81. The Philippines is No. 27 in the world.

It's the job of Chot Reyes and the Gilas coaches to err on the side of caution. The last thing they want to happen is for Gilas, a versatile mix of veterans and young blood such as Jalalon, to take its opponents lightly because disaster — as unfathomable as it seems — can strike if the team relaxes.

One issue keeping Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico and the rest of the staff on their toes is the possibility that other federations would use naturalized players. Uichico calls the opponents' recruitment plans “a big question mark.” 

Another concern is the lack of sufficient intel on the competition.

“We’ve done the best we can in terms of scouting,” Uichico said. “It’s kind of difficult to scout them because they’re not on TV. They can easily scout us. We’re all over (the place).”

Still, it would take a major letdown, perhaps an off-game by all players, for the 7-time Seaba champions to lose one game.

Even if the other teams call up a naturalized reinforcement, they don't have a squad that's 1-to-12 strong like Gilas. And even if they have the X's and O's down pat, knowing the game plan is one thing but executing them against a country that lives and breathes basketball is another.

On top of every physical advantage that Gilas has, Reyes and co. are more focused than ever because of what's at stake — winning Seaba is a mere stepping stone for its longer-term objective of reaching the FIBA World Cup.

So add the might of its personnel and the resoluteness of its purpose, it's difficult to envision a realistic scenario in which this Gilas team, in front of a home crowd no less, can lose.


Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News
  • Published in Sports

Malacañang on UN rights review: PH following due process

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — The government is observing due process in its war on drugs, Malacañang said Tuesday in response to several UN member states' call for the country to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings.  

An overwhelming 45 out of 47 states participating in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had expressed concern over the spate of killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-illegal drug campaign.

When asked for comment on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government has been doing its part.

"Everything is subjected to due process… We are investigating everything that needs to be investigated," Abella told reporters.

It was Malacañang's first official statement after the Philippine delegation's bid to defend the country's drug war at the UN review in Geneva, Switzerland.

Abella said the government is not after changing the world's perception of the drug war, contrary to an earlier statement made by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

President Duterte continues to pursue an "independent foreign policy," Abella explained. Although other countries are free to express their views and recommendations, the government will continue to pursue its "own line of action," he added. 

The government is expected to decide whether to accept, reject, or put under the study the recommendations of the UNHRC after it releases its report on Wednesday. All 193 UN member states are subject to a regular review of their human rights records. 

Aside from ensuring accountability in the anti-drug campaign, most countries also want the Philippines to refrain from reinstating death penalty. 

'Stop the cover-up'

Abella echoed Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's statement that critics of the administration have spread alternative facts on the drug war which have been widely quoted by some local and foreign media outlets.

"Our situation has been overtaken by the media hype and the media noise… Apparently [there's a] concerted effort to create a noise that is beyond what is really there," Abella said.

Cayetano led the Philippine delegation to the UNHRC, together with Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra. They denied the existence of state-sponsored or extrajudicial killings of drug traffickers and criminals.

But the Philippine UPR Watch, an organization of human rights groups who monitored the session in Geneva urged the government to "stop the cover-up."

"We are enraged of the Philippine government's whitewashing of the most serious violations of human rights in the country," Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez said in a statement on Monday.

Former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Etta Rosales also called the government's claims as "hogwash."

More than 2,600 drug suspects were killed in police operations in the country's anti-drug campaign, official police data show. Almost 65,000 drug suspects have been arrested.

The government earlier dispelled as "false news" claims there are around 9,000 drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.


 Ina Andolong and Anna Estanislao contributed to this report.


IMF sees robust PH economic growth

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees robust growth for the country this year and next, citing strong domestic demand, recovery in exports, and higher public spending.

According to its 2017 World Economic Outlook report, it expects Gross Domestic Product (GDP) maintained at 6.8 percent this year and even higher at 6.9 percent in 2018, still one of the fastest growing in Asia.

"(The Philippines) growth is projected to remain robust at 6.8 percent in 2017 and 6.9 percent in 2018, led by strong domestic demand and a recovery in exports. Higher commodity prices will push up higher inflation (3.6 percent in 2017 and 3.3 percent in 2018), although still within the BSP's target range of 3±1 percent," Shanaka Jay Peiris, IMF resident representative, said  in a statement.

"Public spending is expected to rise as the fiscal deficit target has been increased to 3 percent of GDP in 2017 and provide a stimulus to economic activity. The external position of the Philippines will continue to be comfortable," he said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had said the country's infrastructure remains below regional standards. The government currently spends 5.4 percent of its GDP on infrastructure.

On Tuesday, economic managers launched "Dutertenomics" an economic program that's anchored on building key infrastructure.

Dominguez said the proposed comprehensive tax reform bill IS a key factor to this economic agenda.

He described this as a "key link in the grand effort to break out from the cycle of low growth and build a dynamic and inclusive economy".

The IMF report said the Philippine economy will lead in terms of growth in the next two years in Southeast Asia, outpacing Vietnam,  Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia,

In emerging and developing Asia, the Philippines will grow faster than China, which is seen to grow at 6.6 percent this year and lower at 6.2 percent next year.

The IMF's projection for the country compares with the World Bank's 6.9 percent forecast this year, even higher than Asian Development Bank's  6.4 percent.

The growth forecasts fall within the government's goal of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year.

By Maricel Burgonio, CNN Philippines


How old is too old to climb Everest?

New Delhi (CNN) — The death of an 85-year-old man attempting to reclaim his title as the oldest person to climb Mount Everest has reignited concerns over whether an age limit needs to be imposed.

Min Bahadur Sherchan died of a heart attack at base camp on Saturday afternoon, according to the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).

"He was in good health. He used to walk 15 kilometers every day. But I think his age was quite a factor," Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the NMA, told CNN. "He was too old to climb Mount Everest but he had a very strong will."

There are only two routes to scale the world's tallest peak: one from the Everest North side in Tibet or another from the Everest South side in Nepal. Chinese authorities impose an age limit of 18-60 in Tibet, while in Nepal, climbers must be a minimum of 16 years old but there is no upper age limit.

"We've been planning this for a long time, but some people are not happy about it. But now it is necessary to limit it," said Sherpa. "It should be 75, but this is my opinion, not the government's or the NMA's."

Dinesh Bhattarai, director general of the Nepal Tourism Board said a government-imposed age limit is just speculation at this point.

"Setting an age limit is not in our agenda right now," said Bhattarai. "For something to become a law it has to go from internal discourse level to implementation... We are not even at (the) internally discussing phase at the moment."

Despite calls for an upper age limit, figures by crowdsourced data website Adventurestats show there is no correlation between age and an increased fatality rate in climbers over the age of 50.

Out of 11,000 summit attempts between 1922 and 2006, just under 2% of people aged 29 and under died, according to Adventurestats. The rate for climbers ages 30-39 and 40-49 was 1.7% and 1.5%, respectively, while for ages 50-100, the death rate was 1.6%. A total of 282 people died on Everest from 1921 to 2016.

Age is an issue that famed climber Alan Arnette, 60, has commented on.

"The older climbers are proving aging does not mean stopping and the youth are showing that under the right conditions, you can do amazing things at any age," writes Arnette on his blog. By analyzing data from Nepal's Ministry of Tourism, and the Culture and Civil Aviation he also found that the average climber is in his 30s.

"I admire these 'extreme' climbers. They are pushing the envelope of conventional boundaries and I wish them the (best) of luck. But more importantly, to be safe and return home with or without a summit."

A climb for Mother Earth

Before he left for his ascent, Sherchan, a former British Gurkha soldier, told reporters at Kathmandu Airport that the aim of his trek was "to protect the Mother Earth, the well-being of the world's humanity and world peace."

Sherchan was born in the Nepalese district of Myagdi on June 20, 1931. In 2008, at the age of 76, he became the oldest person to scale Everest. He lost his title in 2012 to 80-year-old Yuichiro Miura from Japan.

Sherchan "was planning to climb in 2014 but was forced to cancel because of the avalanche where 16 sherpas were killed," said Sherpa of the NMA. "Then he tried again in 2015 but because of the earthquake, all of the expeditions were postponed. And last year, he was not well prepared so he tried again this year."

The ultimate physical challenge

Mount Everest is the ultimate challenge for mountaineers looking to test their limits. And in recent decades, more and more adventurers have taken on the grueling task.

But with it's icy temperatures never registering above a negative degree of Fahrenheit and an altitude with limited oxygen, it is far from a hospitable environment.

"Everest is a mountain of extremes," Jon Kedrowski, a geographer and climber who tackled Mount Everest in 2012, told CNN last year. "At altitude, the body deteriorates on a certain level."

High-altitude cough and acute mountain sickness are the most common ailments among climbers.

Temperatures are also extreme, on both ends of the spectrum. While climbers are prepared for the cold, there's also the heat to deal with, as daytime temperatures in some parts can hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) during climbing season.

Climbers further face the risk of high-altitude pulmonary edema and high-altitude cerebral edema, which is the build up of fluid in the lungs and brain, respectively. This is more likely higher up the mountain, where the body reacts the falling levels of oxygen by creating pressure and excess fluid.

A lack of oxygen to the brain, called hypoxia, can also result in climbers making rash and sometimes fatal decisions.

From 1953 to 2016, 7,646 summits were made by 4,469 different climbers.

"The Death Zone"

Given the dangerous conditions, hundreds still sign up to climb the mountain whose pinnacle is known as "the Death Zone."

Climbing season begins between April and May and as of May 6 2017, 365 patients have been treated, according to Everest ER, a project run by the Nepali and American arms of the Himalayan Rescue Association.

Of those in their care, many have been treated for high altitude cough and upper respiratory complaints, and 21 diagnosed with lower respiratory tract infections or pneumonia. Some have also been treated for frostbite and pulmonary edema,

This year is set to see a record number of climbers with 371 permits already issued for foreigners.

"If you count the sherpas, the number is 800, and with the Base Camp staff, another 200. So this year, we will have 1,000 people above Base Camp," said Sherpa.

Given the dangerous conditions, why climb a mountain whose pinnacle is known as "the Death Zone"?

By Manveena Suri, CNN



Robredo: Launch of book about Jesse 'big gift' for her birthday

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) — On the eve of her 52nd birthday, Vice President Leni Robredo led on April 22 the launch of a new children's book on her late husband's life.

Robredo considers the book, 'Nay Ano ang Bayani? Ang Kwento ni Jesse Robredo, a big gift not only for her birthday, but also for her three daughters.

The book, which was published by the Jesse Robredo Foundation, is meant to share to the younger generation the leadership journey of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash in August 2012.

The Foundation believes the youth should know the "matino at mahusay" [decent and competent] kind of leadership by which Jesse Robredo lived.

"Tayo pong lahat na nakakakilala kay Jesse, alam natin na yung kanyang buhay at yung mga aral na makukuha sa buhay niya ay talaga namang napakalaking inspirasyon para sa ating lahat," the Vice President said. "Kaya gusto natin itong ibahagi, lalong-lalo na sa mga kabataan na naghahanap ng bayani na gustong maging inspirasyon din."

[Translation:All of us who know Jesse, we know that his life and the lessons we learned from it are really big inspirations for us all. This is why we want to share these, especially for the youth who are looking for a hero as an inspiration.]

Robredo's second eldest daughter, Tricia, wished for her mom's strength to continue her work as Vice President.

"Sana patuloy siyang maging malakas at matatag," she said. "Patuloy lang sa trabaho. Alam ko naman pino-possess niya naman yung strength, yung grace para ipagpatuloy yung kailangan niyang gawin."

[Translation: I hope that she continues to be strong. I hope that she keeps doing her job. I know that she possesses the strength, the grace to continue her work.]

The Vice President, who has been a vocal critic of the Duterte administration since resigning as Housing Secretary in December 2016, has been besieged with challenges to her post.

Robredo faces impeachment complaints from House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, two loyalists of the late strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, and lawyers and academics allied with the President.

This is despite Duterte saying in March 2017 that he does not support moves to impeach her.

Robredo likewise faces an electoral protest by former Senator Bongbong Marcos – who lost to her by around 260,000 votes in the 2016 vice presidential elections – on the grounds of alleged poll fraud.

Robredo said on April 22 that she ran for Vice President to prevent the Marcoses from taking power again.

The latest Pulse Asia, conducted in March 2017, found that three in five Filipinos approve of Robredo, down four points from December 2016.

 By Anjo Alimario, CNN Philippines

CNN Philippines Digital Producer VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.



Panagbenga Grand Street Dancing Parade

Baguio City (CNN Philippines) — Living up to the 2016 Panagbenga Festival’s theme, “Bless the children with flowers,” the Grand Street Dancing Parade showcased young students’ dancing prowess — in colorful, flowery costumes.

Elementary and secondary students mesmerized spectators along the major thoroughfares of Baguio City on Saturday morning (February 27).

A total of 22 performers paraded along Session Road going down to Harrison Road before the final stop at the Baguio Athletic Bowl, where they gave their final performances.

Representatives from Baguio’s sister cities as far as Bukidnon and South Korea also joined the parade.

Of the 22 performing groups, eight competed in the elementary division, eight in the open division, while the rest were special guest performers.

According to the unofficial tally of the tourism office, an estimated half a million touristsvisited Baguio City on Saturday morning to take part in the Panagbenga festivities.

More are expected to arrive on Sunday (February 28) for the Grand Float Parade which will feature 24 floats.

Panagbenga means "season of blooming" in the local dialect since February is the time when most highland flowers bloom especially the sunflower.

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