Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Clash between soldiers, NPA rebels reaches Laguna nat’l highway

SAN PEDRO CITY – An ongoing battle between New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and government soldiers on Wednesday has reached a national road, prompting local officials to set road blocks to keep civilians off the encounter site.

As of 6 p.m., Supt. Chitadel Gaoiran, spokesperson of the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon (Calabarzon) police, said the firefight has reached the national highway in Luisiana town in Laguna.

“It’s on the national highway already so we prohibit vehicles from passing,” Gaoiran said in a text message.

Just an hour earlier, Rommel Palacol of the Laguna Action Center, said the encounter between the rebels and the police occurred in Barangay Bulajo in the adjacent town of Cavinti.

“Roads are blocked and vehicles coming from Pagsanjan (Laguna) and Lucban (Quezon) are asked to re-route,” Palacol said. He said there are reports of “casualties” on the government’s side.

Gaoiran said the ongoing battle on Wednesday began around 12 noon on the boundary of Barangay Kalangay and Mahabang Parang in Lucban. This involved members of the 5th Maneuver Platoon of Quezon Police Public Safety Company.

So far, police reported certain Police Officer 2 Leonida and Police Officer 1 Tayaba wounded in the clash.

 

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Pacquiao is second billionaire in Senate after Villar

 

Senator Cynthia Villar is no longer the only billionaire member of the Senate as she now shares the spot with neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Villar remained, however, the richest among the 24 senators based on their 2016 statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

From P3.5 billion last year, Villar’s wealth slightly increased to P3.606 billion as of December 31, 2016.

Pacquiao, came in second with P3.072 billion net worth. He declared a total assets of P3.422 billion but had liabilities worth P350,595,647.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, meanwhile, was the poorest with P6,506,672.13, replacing Senator Francis Escudero, who held the spot in 2015.

Trillanes, known critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, declared total assets of P16.012 million and total liabilities of P9.506 million.

Trillanes’ net worth in 2016 was higher by more than half-a-million pesos from his P5.9 million net worth in 2015.

Escudero was the second poorest with P6.602 million net worth last year, still higher than his P5.8 million net worth in 2015. He had no liabilities in 2016.

The third poorest senator was neophyte Senator Leila de Lima with P6.617 million. She declared total assets of P9.8 million and liabilities of P3.182 millon.

De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center over drug charges.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s net worth was P17.734 million while Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had P82.482 million.

Senator Grace Poe’s wealth, meanwhile, was reduced by half a million peso after she ran in the May 2016 presidential election.

From P89 million in 2015, Poe’s net worth went down to P88,480,811.91 last year.

She declared total assets of P124.349 million in 2016 but she also had total liabilities of P35.865 million, including a loan from her mother, Jesusa Poe, also known as Susan Roces, amounting to P17.760 million. CBB

Below is the list of the senators’ net worth in 2016.

1. Sen. Cynthia Villar: P3,606,034,556
2. Sen. Manny Pacquiao: P3,072,315,030
3. Sen. Ralph Recto: P 522,610,452.59
4. Sen. Sonny Angara: P123,949,722
5. Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri: P 121,768,713.77
6. Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian: P 92,141, 701.14
7. Sen. Grace Poe: P88,480,811.91
8. Sen. Franklin Drilon: P 82,482,955
9. Sen. JV Ejercito: P 79,130,483.36
10. Sen. Richard Gordon: P66,928,851.46
11. Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III: P63,800,450
12. Sen. Nancy Binay: P 60,483,437
13. Sen. Loren Legarda: P40,911,192.90
14. Sen.Panfilo Lacson: P38,703,615
15. Sen. Bam Aquino: P33,860,702
16. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano: P24,132,490
17. Sen. Joel Villanueva: P21,519,770
18. Sen. Gregorio Honasan: P21,279,749.74
19. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III: P17,734,400
20. Sen. Risa Hontiveros: P16,332,952.70
21. Sen. Francis Pangilinan: P9,288,108.84
22. Sen. Leila de Lima: P6,617,635.62
23. Sen. Francis Escudero: P6,602,082.09
24. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV: P6,506,672.13

 

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Tondo cell no secret, police probers say

Investigators from the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (IAS) found that a “secret cell” inside a Manila police station was not secret after all and the officers responsible for it did not violate human rights or police regulations, IAS Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo said on Wednesday.

Triambulo said an IAS fact-finding team reported that the 10 detainees in the Raxabago Police Station cell bore no torture marks, were allowed visitors and underwent inquest proceedings 18 hours after their arrest.

“They did not see any human rights violation … That was the result of their investigation,” he said.

He added that the “secret cell” served only as a “holding cell” and local barangay officials knew about its existence.

“They got testimony (from the detainees’ relatives) and two barangay chairs even made a certification that (the cell) had existed publicly for a long time, so that means that is not secret detention,” Triambulo said.

The IAS investigated the case after the one-meter by five-meter narrow, windowless and smelly cell was discovered on April 27 by lawyers from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) who had been tipped off by unidentified informants.

Following the discovery, Raxabago station chief Supt. Robert Domingo and the 12 members of his station’s Drug Enforcement Unit were relieved.

Triambulo said that an IAS precharge investigator was supposed to review the fact-finding team’s conclusions, but the review was cut short after the CHR last week asked the Office of the Ombudsman to look into possible cases of arbitrary detention, grave threats, grave coercion, robbery, extortion and maltreatment, and torture of the “secret” detainees against the Raxabago station officers.

“What happened was even before the papers were completed, the CHR filed a case before the Ombudsman so immediately I directed the fact-finding team to give the results, which I had not seen at that time, to the Ombudsman because it might help,” he said.

 

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Controversial trader to supply weapons to PH

EIJING—Poly Technologies Inc., a controversial Chinese arms trader, will provide military equipment to the Philippines under a $500-million loan agreement between Beijing and Manila, according to the Philippines’ Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday night, Lorenzana said the Chinese company provided a letter of intent for an arms supply deal.

Poly Technologies officials met with President Duterte on Sunday, Lorenzana said.

‘Wide array’

Mr. Duterte was in Beijing to attend the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, joining delegates, including some heads of state, from 28 other countries.

Lorenzana said Poly Technologies was offering the Philippines “a wide array of defense equipment” for some of which the Chinese government offered a $500-million loan.

A subsidiary of China Poly Group Corp., Poly Technologies, was sanctioned by the United States in 2013 for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

The law imposes sanctions on private and public entities that provide equipment or technology that could have a “material contribution” to the development of weapons of mass destruction or cruise or ballistic missile systems to rogue states.

The sanctions on Poly Technologies were lifted in 2015.

Lorenzana said the Philippines would send a technical working group to China to look at the equipment being offered by Poly Technologies.

He could not say what weapons the Philippines needed, as these would depend on the recommendation of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

“We are not saying that we will buy from them or we will not buy from them, but if we need anything from the Chinese defense industry then we’re going to procure using the loan that they are going to offer to us,” Lorenzana said.

Territorial defense

The Philippines needs warships and multirole jet fighters to defend its territory in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, a claim that the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated last year in a challenge brought by the Philippines after Beijing seized Panatag Shoal, a rich fishing ground off Zambales province, after a two-month maritime standoff in 2012.

China rejected the ruling, insisting on bilateral talks to settle rival territorial claims.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the South China.

But while it offers talks, China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea and topping them with military facilities, including runways and missile batteries.

Unlike Vietnam, which has fought naval battles with China over territory in the South China Sea, the Philippines has nothing to defend its own territory in the globally important waterway.

Separate matters

Lorenzana, however, does not relate the South China Sea dispute with the modernization of the Philippine military.

“I think we should separate our dispute from the South China Sea from our relationship with the Chinese,” he said.

He said China also offered $14 million in December last year, although he did not clarify if this was also a loan.

He said the money would be used to purchase four fast boats, 200 sniper rifles and several hundred grenade launchers with ammunition—all of which would be delivered by the end of the year.

 

 

 

 

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PH refuses new EU grants; P13 billion at stake

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The European Union on Wednesday evening, May 17, confirmed that the Philippines has decided to no longer accept new EU grants, pegged at around 250 million euros or P13.85 billion.

"The Philippine government has informed us that they no longer accept new EU grants," the EU delegation to the Philippines said when sought by Rappler for confirmation Wednesday.

The EU delegation said the Philippine government relayed this decision only this week.

The exact reason for this decision is unavailable as of posting time. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has not responded to our request for comment.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said the Philippines’ decision will affect up to 250 million euros in EU grants. 

This comes as President Rodrigo Duterte slams the EU for supposedly interfering in his bloody anti-drug campaign. "If you think it's high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it," Duterte told the EU in October 2016. 

The EU Parliament earlier warned the Philippines that it could lose trade incentives if the human rights situation in the country does not improve.

Jessen stressed that the EU was not "imposing" human rights conditions on the Philippines, and it was the Philippines that signed 27 labor and human rights conventions under the United Nations system. 

The EU, in any case, is one of the Philippines' biggest donors.

When Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck in November 2013, for example, the European Commission was the Philippines' second biggest donor, having given $40.47 million. Combined, donations from the European Commission and individual EU member-states made up around 11% of the foreign aid received by the Philippines after Yolanda. – Rappler.com

 

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Ivanka Trump got destroyed by a humble librarian

Customer rearranges Ivanka Trump book display to include guide to getting over narcissistic and toxic parenting

These books include everything from Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents to The New Codependency: Help and Guidance for Today’s Generation.

Ivanka Trump’s book did not have quite the reception the first daughter hoped for. Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success not only has an average of just 1.7 stars on popular US bookseller Barnes and Noble’s site but was almost unanimously derided by the critics.

However, if this was not enough, President Donald Trump’s daughter has now had her self-help book's display subverted by an upset customer at Barnes & Noble’s store in Long Beach, California.

Ms Trump’s book, which was released at the very beginning of May and has been dubbed a “career manual for the one per cent”, has been replaced with a whole host of other titles.

These books include everything from Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up’s Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents to Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-AbsorbedThe Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our LivesToxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life, No More Narcissists!: How to Stop Choosing Self-Absorbed Men and Find the Love You Deserve, and The New Codependency: Help and Guidance for Today’s Generation.

Strategy consultant, Ryan J Davis, shared a photo of the bookstore’s makeover, saying: “Ivanka Trump look your book is getting the perfect bookstore placement”.

Since the story was first reported, Chloé Pascual, a librarian, has admitted it was her who rearranged the display. “I was acting in my role as a cheeky bookstore customer,” she told The Cut.

There is one particular extract of the first daughter's book, which centres on providing career advice for working mothers, which has garnered the most criticism. This is the part where Ms Trump reveals she was so busy during her father’s election campaign that she was forced to go into “survival mode” and forego her usual massages.

Ms Trump, who is married to fellow White House advisor Jared Kushner, writes: “During extremely high-capacity times, like during the campaign, I went into survival mode: I worked and I was with my family; I didn’t do much else. Honestly, I wasn’t treating myself to a massage or making much time for self-care. I wish I could have awoken early to meditate for twenty minutes.”

Readers immediately jumped upon this extract and mocked the first daughter, who is said to be the President’s favourite child, for the revelation on Twitter.

"Awww poor Ivanka Trump couldn't get a massage during the campaign. Most working women can't afford a message. Clueless and heartless," said one.

"#WomenWhoWork are a class you don't understand. It's not having a massage as a break but having a second to breathe... is the reality," said another.

By CLEMENCE MICHALLON FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

 

 

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Special counsel Mueller named to probe Trump-Russia ties

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations that Russia and Donald Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election, giving Mueller sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered in the probe.

 

It was a concession by the Trump administration, which had resisted calls from Democrats to turn the investigation over to outside counsel. The White House counsel's office was alerted only after the order appointing Mueller was signed.

In a written statement, Trump insisted anew that there were no nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia.

"A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity," he declared. "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly."

The appointment of a special counsel ramps up the pressure on Trump and his associates. Mueller's broad mandate gives him not only oversight of the Russia probe, but also "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." That could well include the firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

Republicans have largely stood behind Trump as the FBI and congressional investigations into Russia's election meddling intensified. But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious after Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe — and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russia ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

World ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Early reaction from Congress was generally positive to the appointment of Mueller (pronounced MULL-er).

Democrats said it was not a moment too soon.

"I believe Mueller will be independent, he will be thorough and he will be fair and he's not going to be easily swayed," said Elijah Cummings of Maryland, top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. "And he is a career man, a career FBI kind of guy, and I think that's a good thing."

Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the oversight panel, said Mueller was a "great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted."

House Speaker Paul Ryan was more muted and formal: "I welcome his role at the Department of Justice. The important ongoing bipartisan investigation in the House will also continue."

Fellow Republican Peter King of New York was more leery: "I'm worried with all special counsels because there's no control over them and they can abuse their power."

In the 1990s, Democrats complained that independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton, overstepped his authority.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump gave no indication of the announcement to come in a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy.

He made no reference to the controversies about Russia or the Russia ties for fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn or Comey's dismissal. But he complained bitterly that about criticism of his still-young presidency.

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly," he said. "You can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. ... I guess that's why we won. Adversity makes you stronger. Don't give in, don't back down. ... And the more righteous your fight, the more opposition that you will face."

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, three congressional committees, all led by Republicans, confirmed they wanted to hear from Comey. Congressional investigators have been seeking Comey's memos on his meeting with Trump, as well as documents from the Justice Department related to his firing.

The latest political storm, coupled with the still-potent fallout from Trump's recent disclosure of classified information to Russian diplomats, overshadowed all else in the capital and beyond. Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street as investors worried that the latest turmoil in Washington could hinder Trump's pro-business agenda.

Interest was hardly limited to the U.S. No less a commentator than Russia's Vladimir Putin called the dramatic charges swirling around Trump evidence of "political schizophrenia spreading in the U.S." He offered to furnish a "record" of the Trump-diplomats meeting in the Oval Office if the White House desired it.

There was no word on what that record might entail, a question many were likely to raise in light of Trump's recent warning to Comey that he had "better hope" there were no tapes of a discussion they'd had.

The White House disputed Comey's account of the February conversation concerning Flynn, but did not offer specifics. Several members of Congress said that if Trump did suggest that Comey "let this go" regarding Flynn's Russian contacts, it was probably just a joke, light banter.

Questions about Trump's conduct have been mounting for weeks, most recently with the two explosive revelations — that in February the president pressed Comey to drop a federal investigation into Flynn's contacts with Russia and that he disclosed classified information to the senior Russian officials last week.'

Both allegations came from anonymous sources, and the White House was quick to denounce the leaks and deny any impropriety, insisting the president never tried to squelch the Flynn investigation nor did he make inappropriate disclosures to the Russians.

On Capitol Hill, Comey was clearly the man in demand, with three committees working to seat him at their witness tables.

— The House oversight committee set a May 24 hearing on whether Trump interfered in the FBI probe, and invited Comey to testify.

—The Senate intelligence committee invited Comey to appear in both open and closed sessions. It also asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to give the committee any notes Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or Justice Department officials about Russia's efforts to influence the election.

—Top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the FBI to provide any Comey memos and asked the White House to turn over any audio recordings that might exist of conversations with the now-fired director. They expect to bring in Comey in to testify, as well.

Trump is preparing to leave town Friday on his first foreign trip, and aides have been hopeful the journey will be a chance for the administration to get back on track after weeks of chaos and distractions.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speculated Trump was probably happy to get out of town — "and a lot of us are glad he's leaving for a few days."

His advice to the president: "Stay disciplined, stay focused and deliver on the world stage."

___(Associated Press

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US stocks, dollar tumble as investors rethink 'Trump trade'

NEW YORK - Stocks on major markets and the US dollar sold off while bond yields fell on Wednesday as investors fled risky assets amid uncertainty about US President Donald Trump's ability to deliver on his tax and banking reforms and infrastructure spending.

Reports that Trump asked then-Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey to end a probe into the former national security adviser have raised questions over whether Trump tried to interfere with a federal investigation.

 

US stock market declines accelerated in afternoon trading, and major US indexes ended near session lows. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 372 points, and both the Dow and S&P 500 suffered their worst percentage drops since Sept. 9.

The CBOE Volatility index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, ended above the 15 level in its highest close since April 13. The US dollar index has now erased its post-election gains.

A small but growing number of Trump's fellow Republicans called on Wednesday for an independent probe of possible collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

The news came after a tumultuous week at the White House when Trump unexpectedly fired FBI director Comey and reportedly disclosed classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation.

Optimism over pro-growth economic policies under Trump helped drive a sharp rally in US stocks after the Nov. 8 US election. Even with Wednesday's declines, the S&P 500 stock index is up 10.2 percent since last November's US elections though.

"It's certainly a day when the chickens are coming home to roost," said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities in New York.

"The (equity) bull market is not over by any means, but between the political stuff and the fact that the next earnings season is three months away, there's going to be a lack of motivation."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 372.82 points, or 1.78 percent, to end at 20,606.93, the S&P 500 index lost 43.64 points, or 1.82 percent, to 2,357.03 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 158.63 points, or 2.57 percent, to 6,011.24.

The Nasdaq had its worst day since June 24. Both the Dow and S&P 500 fell below their 50-day moving averages for the first time since April 21.

While previous threats to Trump's plans have rattled investors, they had failed to cause any significant pull back in stocks. The VIX last week closed at 9.77, its lowest close since December 1993.

Bank stocks, which outperformed in the post-election rally, were the worst hit on Wednesday. The S&P 500 financial sector tumbled 3 percent.

At nearly 18 times forward earnings, the S&P 500 trades at a significant premium to its long-term average valuations of 15 times, according to Thomson Reuters data.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe fell 1.2 percent, while European shares ended down 1.4 percent.

"It's registering with more investors that it's going to be hard to get back on track with the latest allegations," Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Prices of bonds, seen as safe-haven assets, rallied, while yields were on track for their biggest daily percentage drops since July.

Benchmark 10-year notes gained a full point in price to yield 2.22 percent, the lowest since April 21, and down from 2.33 percent late on Tuesday.

The dollar index, which tracks the US currency against six peers and had scaled a 14-year peak of 103.82 on Jan. 3, fell 0.6 percent to its lowest level since Nov. 9, surrendering all of its "Trump bump" gains. The dollar also fell by nearly 2 percent against the yen.

In commodity markets, safe-haven gold hit a two-week high, while oil prices were higher. Spot gold rose for a fifth day and was up 1.8 percent at $1,258.38 an ounce.

Brent crude gained 1.1 percent to settle at $52.21 per barrel, while US light crude rose 0.8 percent to settle at $49.07.

Caroline Valetkevitch, Reuters
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New film warns: Hepatitis-B common among Asian Americans

New film warns: Hepatitis-B common among Asian Americans

Be About It by Christopher Wong screened on May 11 at University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, followed by a panel discussion.

Wong described his own lack of awareness of the disease and its prevalence before making the film: “The funny thing was that I was not aware of the disease myself. I didn’t know that it even had to do with the liver; that’s how uninformed I was. So when I started to dig deeper I was really shocked by the fact that over 50 percent of the cases are people of Asian descent. That really made me interested.”

Be About It is the story of two Asian fathers, their families and their reality of living with hepatitis-B, a potentially deadly disease that affects approximately one million Asian Americans.
Hep B, caused by the hepatitis B virus, can result in serious liver problems before symptoms become noticeable and is frequently referred to as a “silent killer.” Up to two million people are infected in the U.S., and as many as two out of three Asian Americans living with it aren’t aware they have it. Often stigmatized and misunderstood, hep B is the most common cause of liver cancer among Asian Americans.

Hep B is caused by a virus that is transmitted via blood and other bodily fluids. Hep B can be managed, and the disease can be prevented – but if left untreated, the complications of hep B can potentially be life threatening.

As Asian immigrants are projected to be the largest immigrant population in the country over the next 40 years, the need to call attention to this so-called “silent” disease is more critical than ever. The good news is that hep B can easily be detected with a quick and simple blood test. Everyone should talk to their doctor about getting tested – especially if you are of Asian descent.
If you test negative for hep B, there is a safe and effective vaccine that can prevent hep B, and it is widely available in the United States. If you test positive for hep B, talk to your doctor about whether treatment would be appropriate for you. Regular screenings to monitor the health of your liver are very important, and there are treatments that may potentially lower the amount of virus and decrease the risk of further damage to the liver – some are just one pill a day.
So on Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19, join millions of Asians here in the United States and around the globe and get tested for hepatitis B.
Visit hepBsmart.com for information about chronic hepatitis B, and to learn about the documentary film short BE ABOUT IT, sponsored by Gilead Sciences, which chronicles the lives of two Asian Americans, Alan and AJ, as they battle chronic hepatitis B, and how their families cope with the impact of this potentially life-threatening disease. The film aims to educate, inspire and ultimately dispel myths about hepatitis B. BE ABOUT IT is subtitled in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese, and community screening kits are now available.

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