Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 02 January 2018

Duterte's 2018 foreign trips: India, South Korea, Israel, Australia

JETSETTING PRESIDENT. President Duterte is slated to go on several trips abroad this 2018. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has foreign trips lined up for the year, possibly starting with India for the commemorative summit between that country and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Aside from India, trips to South Korea, Australia, and Israel are also being planned for Duterte this year, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday, January 3.

"I think these are planned visits. So far it’s being discussed between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the countries that have invited the President," Roque said during a Malacañang press briefing.

The first trip of the year will likely be to India where Duterte will attend the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on January 25 in New Delhi. Indian media reported that all 10 ASEAN leaders are attending the gathering, and also India's Republic Day events on January 26.

Roque said there are no definite dates yet on the President's visits to South Korea, Israel, and Australia.

Asked about the purpose of these foreign trips, Roque said, "These visits, of course, will have very specific goals and part of a state visit or working visit is always to promote trade and investments as far as the Philippines is concerned."

The President is also expected to attend international events that require his presence such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Summit in Papua New Guinea, and the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Singapore.

Duterte had earlier expressed his aversion to long-haul trips but but had gone on a number of foreign travels during his first year – enough to make him the most traveled Philippine president in the first year in office.

Some of these trips, which include visits to China, Japan, Peru, and Russia, racked up thrice the amount of expenses his predecessors spent on their official travels abroad. Malacañang justified the expenses by citing the economic deals that the trips generated for the country, and how they improved the Philippines' standing with foreign powers.

While he has been going on official trips abroad, Duterte is against other officials in the executive doing the same. He earlier ordered officials under the executive branch not to go on official foreign trips beginning this year, saying the trips were a waste of government funds.

Duterte has fired several of his appointees for frequent travels abroad. These include Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor chairman Terry Ridon and the body's other commissioners, and Development Academy of the Philippines Elba Cruz. – Rappler.com

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Malacañang: No Duterte kin authorized by President to transact with gov't

N THE FAMILY. Malacañang does not explain what prompted President Duterte to remind the public that his relatives aren't authorized by him to have government transactions. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has not authorized any of his family members or relatives to make transactions with government, Malacañang reminded the public on Wednesday, January 3.

During a press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said he was instructed by the President to announce such a statement.

"The President would like to reiterate his prior instruction to the Cabinet to ignore any pleas to be made by any of his relatives in connection with any government transaction," said Roque.

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The spokesman could not say what prompted Duterte to issue the reminder since he had not personally seen the President since December 23.

However, Roque said it had nothing to do with the official the President is planning to fire.

The directive applies to all Duterte's "children, his siblings, his cousins, his uncles and aunts."

"The President is renewing his call that any and all of his relatives are not authorized, okay, to approach anyone in government in connection with any government-related transaction, full stop," said Roque.

"No one in his family is authorized by him to have any financial interest in any government office, agency, or department," he added.

At least 3 of the President's family members have been accused of dealing with government agencies for supposedly suspicious purposes.

In Congress hearings over billions worth of smuggled shabu, a customs broker accused Duterte's eldest son Paolo Duterte, formerly Davao City vice mayor, and his son-in-law Manases Carpio of appearing at customs offices or being involved in smuggling drugs.

The two denied the accusations. Carpio confirmed he had visited Bureau of Customs offices but only in his capacity as legal counsel of companies that had concerns with the agency.

President Duterte himself said he was told that a woman calling herself "Lovelie Duterte" had been visiting government offices.

He had then denied there was such a person named "Lovelie Duterte," saying he only knew of a Lovelie Sumera Sangkola, Paolo's ex-wife.

But Paolo had accused Sumera of indeed using the Duterte family name.

Duterte previously said he would resign if his children are proven to be engaged in corruption and that he would fire government personnel who will connive with them. – Rappler.com

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More than half of PH businesses employ agency-hired workers – PSA

AGENCY-HIRED. Workers in the manufacturing sector are commonly hired through manpower agencies, says the Philippine Statistics Authority. File photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The country's fight against contractualization appears far from over, based on figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PSA's biennial Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment (ISLE) showed that 54% of the estimated 31,277 establishments with more than 20 workers employ agency-hired workers.

The survey defines agency-hired workers as those who are "employed by contractors to perform or complete a job, work or service pursuant to a service agreement within the premises of the establishment."

These are the workers who are also vulnerable to "endo" (end of contract), or when employees are hired via short-term but regularly renewed contracts.

Ending contractualization, a practice since the Marcos era, is one of the key promises of President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to the survey, the manufacturing industry had the most number of agency-hired workers at 45% or 311,722 when the survey was conducted in June 2016. This was followed by the wholesale and retail trade industry at 13.58%.

The transportation and storage, accommodation and food service, and administrative support service industries have the lowest share at 5.57%, 5.52%, and 4.63%, respectively.

In terms of job nature, majority of contractual workers are engaged in production or assembly line tasks in the manufacturing industry.

Second in the list are workers in security services, which comprise 19.72% of the type of contracted jobs.

Janitorial service continues to be contracted out from manpower agencies but it only accounts for 9.52%.

In its year-end report to the media, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said 125,000 workers have been regularized, or 62% of the 2017 target.

DOLE has not set a target for the new year but efforts against "endo" continue, said Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod.

Last year, the agency had released Department Order 174, which sets stricter guidelines for contracting out labor.

The Labor Code of the Philippines, under Article 106, allows employers to forge an agreement with contractors to do jobs necessary, but not central, to business operations.

Labor unions have since rejected the directive and urged Duterte to sign an executive order that will prohibit – and not just regulate – labor contracting. (READ: Keeping 'endo' alive: DOLE's Department Order No. 174)

Workers were supposed to have a dialogue with the President last December but it did not push through. Parties said it might be rescheduled in early 2018. – Rappler.com

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Preemptive evacuation helps Bohol achieve zero casualty during Agaton

FLOOD. Some roads in Bohol remain impassable due to the flooding triggered by Tropical Depression Agaton. Photo by Michael Ortega Ligalig/Rappler 

 

BOHOL, Philippines – Bohol recorded zero casualty after Tropical Depression Agaton brought heavy rains that triggered massive flooding in at least 4 towns of the province at the start of the new year.

Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto credited the feat to the preemptive evacuation of residents living near river banks, areas prone to landslides, and low-lying areas that was done hours before Agaton made a landfall on Jagna town at 4 am on Tuesday, January 2.

"Let us all thank God again and again....Bohol is not very badly affected by Agaton," Chatto said in a text message to all town chief executives and local media.

     

Although damage to property and agriculture was still being assessed as of posting, Bohol's 47 town disaster and risk reduction councils initially reported no deaths after the onslaught of Agaton, which brought torrential rains to the province that lasted for more than 24 hours.

"The Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMO) will make an official announcement soon [on official estimates of the damage]. Assessment of damage province-wide is ongoing," said Chatto.

The heavy downpour brought by Agaton caused the abnormal swelling of major rivers in Bohol, particularly the world-famous Loboc River in Loboc and Sevilla towns, the river in Inabanga town, and Makapiko River in Batuan town. 

Water levels in the 3 major irrigation dams – Malinao Dam in Pilar town, Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town, and Capayas Dam in Ubay town – rose to critical levels.

In Loboc, the swollen river flooded tracts of land planted with rice.

FROM FARM TO 'LAKE'. A 30-hectare hybrid rice model farm turns into a lake after Tropical Depression Agaton brought nonstop heavy rains to the province since New Year's Day. Photo by Michael Ortega Ligalig/Rappler
     

FROM FARM TO 'LAKE'. A 30-hectare hybrid rice model farm turns into a lake after Tropical Depression Agaton brought nonstop heavy rains to the province since New Year's Day. Photo by Michael Ortega Ligalig/Rappler 

In Inabanga town, Mayor Roygie Jumamoy mobilized all town personnel in anticipation of possible flooding as the Inabanga River's water level rose beyond normal levels.

"Had the rain continued, we would have welcomed 2018 with horrible flooding," Jumamoy said.

Hundreds of residents in various towns were forced to evacuate hours before the rivers overflowed, reported Anthony Damalerio, PDRRMO head. 

LIFE INTERRUPTED. A man armed with a basin checks his flooded home situated along the Loboc River. Photo by Michael Ortega Ligalig/Rappler
     

LIFE INTERRUPTED. A man armed with a basin checks his flooded home situated along the Loboc River. Photo by Michael Ortega Ligalig/Rappler 

Food packs were distributed in evacuation centers as Agaton lashed at Bohol, particularly its coastal towns.

"As of now, all evacuees have been allowed to return homes," Damalerio told Rappler on Wednesday, January 3.

Bohol has an estimated population of 1.3 million residing in 47 towns (including 111 islets) and in the capital city of Tagbilaran, or a total of 1,109 barangays. 

Chatto placed Bohol on "high red alert" status on New Year's Day, hours before state weather bureau Pagasa hoisted storm warning signal number one over Bohol and 16 other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao. 

As the year drew to a close, Bohol had braced for typhoons Urduja and Vinta, but the two storms swerved and maintained their direction across Mindanao provinces. – Rappler.com

 
 
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MSMEs get lion’s share on DTI’s 2018 budget

MANILA –Bulk of the budget of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) next year is allocated to its projects and programs to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency is getting PHP5.8 billion next year under the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last week.
He said that this budget was higher from the PHP4.7 billion allocation for the DTI this year.
Lopez said budget for MSME initiatives alone reached about PHP2.0 billion.
Some PHP1.0 billion was allocated for shared service facility (SSF) program, which provides equipment to MSMEs to produce quality products and make the sector more competitive in both domestic and international markets.
The budget was augmented in the Senate with additional PHP800 million for the SSF program.
It was reported by Lopez early this year that the SSF program would be getting PHP200-million allocation for 2018.
With the higher budget for SSF program, the DTI chief said the agency can roll out at least 200 shared service facilities, adding to the current 2,000 facilities nationwide.
“That 200 facilities is like 10 percent of the current,” Lopez said, noting that the 200 facilities will be shared by small-size businesses through cooperatives.
“It’s good enough. We can help more MSMEs,” he added.
Lopez stressed that providing machines and equipment especially to micro entrepreneurs is a “vital ingredient” to help MSMEs grow their activities.
Moreover, DTI’s microfinance program Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) under its financing arm Small Business (SB) Corp. also got PHP1.0 billion fund in 2018.
Lopez said the department had disbursed close to PHP1.0 billion for this year for microfund borrowers, particularly to individuals in the provinces who would like to fund their entrepreneurial activities.
The P3 was launched January 2017 to give better financial access to MSMEs, particularly in the 30 poorest provinces in the country, and for Filipinos to avoid loan sharks like “5-6” lending scheme.
The government can lend PHP5,000 up to PHP100,000 at 2.5 percent monthly interest rate.
Although the agency eyes for higher budget in order to boost its support to other initiatives like international trade promotion, among others, Lopez said DTI had acknowledged that there are sectors that would need a big boost in their funds such as education, health, defense, and other social services.
“Our support is facilitative, providing environment for the businesses. We’re more on enabling support,” he said. “So it will be a budget to teach them how to fish,” Lopez noted.
President Duterte has identified MSMEs as priority sector of his administration. (PNA)

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News announcement loud and clear: Congress returns on January 19, 2018

All members of the same body commenced their vacation just before Year 2017 drew to a close.
The United States citizenry's anticipation for the first part of Year 2018 is lucid: it invokes tremendous hopes and similar wishes for the immediate solution of increasingly growing problematical issues that have still to obtain resolves spurred by realistic moves.
Inevitably, the spotlight will be on Congress.
Two main subjects, already named by political analysts have been identified: the Budget Deal, and the shutdown deadline.
It was not just bruited about, but described as 'under much pressure;' how the nation's lawmakers to obtain that "deal" aimed at the increase of budget caps to stave off what has been identified as "across-the-board-spending cuts," otherwise known as "sequestration."
Reportedly, news coverage of negotiations has not been in the limelight, but two significant subjects continue to stand out: two-year budget agreement(s) that would aim to "cover the rest of the 2018 fiscal year (FY) and FY 2019."
Notes of cheer have surfaced: "Once a budget deal is enacted, appropriations can start work on a package known as an 'omnibus' that would fund the entire federal government through September 2019."
A disturbing note that has arisen anew: how to avert a January 19th government shutdown which was taken up earlier as news reports have warned.
However unpronounced the budget deal and the shutdown deadline have been, these two subjects have been marked as increasingly taking on their most vital roles.
There were two unresolved subjects when the country's lawmakers as proclaimed on Congress' holiday vacation: immigration and foreign surveillance.
The non-resolution of the aforementioned subjects is deemed to be very contentious.
Congress must solve the issue of "whether to protect young immigrants losing the protection beginning in March of 2018 of an Obama-era program shielding them from deportation."
What has been noted by observers on the same subject as the "Dreamers." Democrats may not agree to keep the government funded without a deal for the same group: the "Dreamers."
Already, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) the No. 2 Senate Republican, has been heard to say more about the resumption of the Senate's January return: "We get up and do the same thing over and over again. It's maddening."
The same voice identified their up and coming legislative January schedule as "Groundhog Day."
Another subject the legislators are bound to take up: Disaster Aid. It was reported how the Senate was known to have 'punted' a House-passed disaster aid bill after reports had shown how 'leadership' failed to get an agreement to hasten the debate of the legislation in December 2017.
Some salient points of the Disaster Aid $91-billion package: provides aid for communities affected by recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The same Aid Package likewise touched on the wildfires in California.
Highly expected to take up the foregoing by the Senate when the members return, two senators from Texas, Cornyn and his fellow Republican, Senator Ted Cruz have expressed their wishes for more funding in regard to their state's Hurricane Harvey efforts at recovery.
Senator Cruz explained how his state had suffered more than $180 billion in hurricane damage, as he voiced out his deep concerns that Texas would "only be eligible for a small portion of the money in the House bill."
Another subject of widespread uneasiness as the sounds of vacation were heard: Immigration will be taken up significantly by the Senate. Yes, it was made emphatic.
The Senate is 'eyeing a vote on an agreement linking a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and border security.'
Yet, it is anticipated that divisions might remain on such key issues, including those covered by DACA "should get citizenship; how many
individuals would be covered; and what security provisions would be part of the package."
It has always been a given re voices from House conservatives expressed their resistance on a legislative fix on DACA.
Notably, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) promised Conservatives as soon as he had assumed his post, that he would not bring up any immigration bill that lacked support from a majority, in other words, "any DACA border security deal is sure to face a tough path in the House."
As Year 2017 will soon be part of the past, 2018 will be highly watched by an anxious US citizenry.
Philippine News extends its New Year greetings to its readership as it moves forward in remembrance of its founding in 1961

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More than 900 new HIV cases reported in Sept

MANILA – A total of 936 people were found to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) last September, the Department of Health’s (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau reported.
Of the figure, 806 did not show any symptom of HIV, 130 had full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and 40 had died of the disease, according to the latest HIV/AIDS and ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) report.
Of the 936 HIV/AIDS cases, 904 were male and 32 were female, five of whom were pregnant. Their median age was 28 years old. Half of the cases or 469 belonged to the 25 to 34 age bracket, and 31 percent or 286 to the 15 to 24 age group. A total of 40 teenagers were reported to HARP.
Of the 40 who succumbed to the illness, 18 were aged 25 to 34 years old; 15 were 35 to 49 years; five were in the 15 to 24 age bracket; and two were more than 50 years old.
A total of 908 acquired the virus through sexual contact, 87 percent or 548 of whom were infected through homosexual contact; 246 through bisexual contact; and 114 through heterosexual contact. Some 23 cases were attributed to needle-sharing among injecting drug users.
The National Capital Region (NCR) logged the most number of cases with 348; followed by Calabarzon (147); Central Visayas (93); Central Luzon (87); Davao (56); Western Visayas (54); and 151 from the rest of the country.
The report also noted that of the recorded cases in September, 103 engaged in transactional sex, mostly male whose ages ranged from 18 to 61 years; and 65 were overseas Filipino workers.
That month, 746 patients started on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
The September figures bring to 8,299 the total number of HIV cases reported nationwide in the first nine months of the year, with 1,021 AIDS cases and 374 deaths; and to 47,921 since HIV was first reported in January 1984, with 4,686 AIDS cases, and 2,343 deaths.
The DOH has been encouraging those at risk of contracting the disease to avail of free testing; and those who test positive for the virus to avail of free treatment.
A total of 23,307 persons living with HIV are on ART. -- PNA

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A dangerous place

The international organization Reporters Without Borders has rated the Philippines as the most dangerous place for journalists in Asia and among the 5 most dangerous in the world. No one would quarrel with that. In fact, the Philippines has lingered around those levels of notoriety through the years.
Journalists being democracy's designated frontliners for unearthing and exposing official wrongdoing, their safety is naturally a critical concern. But, lest the forest be missed for the trees, the Philippines is actually one of the world's most dangerous places not just for journalists but for its very own people. A survey of presidential history illuminates the point.
The excuse is not seldom given that the Filipino people are a condemned child of history; the fact is they have been victims of a run of corrupt and high-handed leaders that began with Ferdinand Marcos.
Through 14 years of martial law, from 1972, Marcos racked up a formidable record of murder, torture, enforced disappearances, and plunder. The great flush of popular revolt by street vigil in 1986 did succeed in sweeping him out of power, bloodlessly, and in installing a democratic successor, but it failed to stop a rebound of reactionary forces
Already saddled with a plundered and debt-ridden economy and a damaged culture, Corazon Aquino had yet to fight off 7 coup plots. That she managed under those conditions to get a constitutional democracy reestablished was achievement enough: it provided her successor and revolt partner, Fidel Ramos, with an institutional framework for socioeconomic reconstruction.
Doubtless helped by being once a Marcos general, Ramos himself served out a coup-free term and responded with a productive leadership. But, after him, the nation, under Joseph Estrada, went backsliding so dramatically he had to be stopped in midterm; he was impeached for plunder and, when the senators dilly-dallied in finding him guilty and firing him, the people stepped in and booted him out in the same fashion as they had done in Marcos' case. Estrada was subsequently convicted in court and sent to jail, but was pardoned by his successor, Gloria Arroyo, a president who would put herself in similar trouble but also find herself in similar luck.
After serving out the remaining 3 years of Estrada's term, Arroyo managed to complete a regular 6-year term of her own despite a victory discredited by a voice tape revealing her lobbying an election commissioner. Once out of the presidency, she was arrested and detained to await trial, although for another crime, if not an uncommon one to presidents – plunder; she would be acquitted later by a Supreme Court whose majority she had appointed.
Meanwhile, Aquino's son, Benigno III, began to preside over what may well have been the best-performing government in a generation. It posted the highest average growth rate, cut the poverty incidence by an impressive 4 percentage points to 21%, and, going by a Social Weather Stations sentiment survey, kept the nation safer from crime than during any other presidential term. Thus, it built for its successor a strong head start – only to be squandered by Rodrigo Duterte.
A compulsive autocrat, Duterte can't wait to bring the whole nation to heel, and makes no secret of his impatient wish. That wish has not been tested in Congress and the Supreme Court, but, for his other dubious causes, he has won the vote in both.
The police are the least of his problems; from the beginning they have been the unquestioning enforcer of his obsessive war on drugs, which has taken thousands of lives in circumstances that have provoked protests from foreign goverments and rights groups. On their part, the armed forces, kept busy themselves pursuing new campaigns against all sorts of state enemy – communists, separatists, terrorists, and sundry outlaws – have been generally obedient.
As for the press, it's been less than its usual boldly adversarial self; in fact, not a few of its practitioners admit to being intimidated. Still, in Duterte's year and a half in office, 4 journalists have been killed in the line of duty, by our own count at the Center of Media Freedom and Responsibility. That may be about as normal as such murders go; indeed, it's a tiny fraction of the 32 journalists among the 58 people massacred in one go in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province, in the remote south, in 2009. But does that inspire any comfort at all?
The massacre happened under Arroyo's watch, and principally accused for it is a warlord family allied with her. Today, she and Duterte are themselves the closest of allies, along with Estrada and the heirs of Marcos. Together they make up the Philippines' own Gang of Four.
If you don't think that does not gravely multiply the danger the nation – never mind the journalists – is in, you're dangerously off your political math. – Rappler.com

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PG&E supports local communities as it pays more than $230M in property taxes to 50 CA counties

SAN FRANCISCO — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) paid property taxes of more than $230 million this fall to the 50 counties where the energy company owns property and operates gas and electric infrastructure that serves 16 million Californians. The tax payments help support essential public services like education and public safety.
The semi-annual property tax payments made this week cover the period from July 1 to December 31, 2017. 
Total payments for the full tax year of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 are estimated to total more than $461 million—an increase of $50 million, or 12 percent, compared with the prior fiscal year. 
“Property tax payments provide crucial resources to the many communities where we live and work, supporting everything from education to public safety. By continuing to make local investments in gas and electric infrastructure, we are not only creating one of the safest and most reliable energy systems in the country, we’re investing in the local economy and helping our communities thrive,” said Jason Wells, senior vice president and chief financial officer for PG&E.
PG&E invested more than $5.7 billion last year and expects to invest $5.9 billion this year to enhance and upgrade its gas and electrical infrastructure across Northern and Central California.
Some recent investments include the construction of PG&E’s $75 million Gas Safety Academy in Winters in Yolo County, which opened in September. Last year, PG&E opened a $36 million, state-of-the-art electric distribution control center in Rocklin.
PG&E supports the communities it serves in a variety of ways. In 2016, PG&E provided more than $28 million in charitable contributions to enrich local educational opportunities, preserve the environment, and support economic vitality and emergency preparedness and safety. PG&E employees provide thousands of hours of volunteer service in their local communities. The company also offers a broad spectrum of economic development services to help local businesses grow.
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Editorial: A not too merry Christmas for Filipinos

For hundreds of Filipinos, Christmas Day and the days before what is usually the happiest day of the year was downright tragic. For tens of thousands of others, it was simply depressing.
The reason for the sad Christmas in our motherland, the Republic of the Philippines, was a series of tragedies that resulted in tremendous loss of life and property.
In the days prior to Dec. 25, a killer typhoon struck the southern part of the country. The number of fatalities is not yet known, but some estimates place the loss of life at more than 200.
In Davao City, meanwhile, a fire at a mall that also houses a call center resulted in at least 37 dead.
Then there was a road accident in Agoo between a passenger jeep and a bus that saw 20 killed as they were on their way to Mass.
The three tragedies were unrelated, but the news spread throughout the archipelago, putting a damper on the holiday season that is 2017.
Typhoon Vinta caused the huge loss of life as it crossed the southern part of the Philippines. Flash floods, strong winds, mudslides and torrential rains were caused by the storm, forcing at least 20,000 to flee to evacuation centers. Tens of thousands more left their homes and stayed with relatives and friends in safer ground.
Since storms are natural occurences, there was little that could be done. Yet it seems that the national and local government units were not sufficiently prepared. It is sad to note that the Philippines is frequently visited by typhoons, yet disaster preparation is still far from perfect for most LGUs.
As for the Davao fire and the Agoo accident, these were both manmade and could therefore have been avoided. One has to wonder why a mall with a call center office in its top floor did not have fire exits. President Duterte visited the site and was seen to weep, considering the tragedy happened in the city that he ruled as a city mayor for the longest time.
It is not only the building owner but also the local executives who granted permits for the call center to operate who must be held legally and morally liable.
Fatal road accidents are not uncommon in the Philippines, where drivers of public utility vehicles are not always concerned with public safety. They are made to drive long hours, and on holidays such as Christmastime, they work extra shifts due to the big demand in public transport.
This week’s deadly accident could have been avoided.
The pall of gloom that descended on the Philippines will pass. Filipinos still managed to celebrate Christmas, and will surely do so when New Year’s Day comes next week.
As a predominantly Christian nation, prayers will be offered and candles lit for all the Filipinos who lost their lives this week and last week. Our thoughts and prayers go to our countrymen, especially the families of those who lost their loved ones this deadly Christmas weekend.

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