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Mocha Uson to defend Duterte against misinformation in media


In what could be further proof that change has indeed come under the Duterte administration, former bold starlet and entertainer Mocha Uson was appointed assistant communications secretary on Tuesday, and was put in charge of fighting fake news, something she had been accused of propagating on her blog.

In a post on her Facebook page, Uson said she would focus on using social media to bring the Duterte administration closer to the Filipino people, and to fight bogus news.

“It’s time for us to stop relying on the wrong reports from some mainstream media, and to strengthen social media with the help of true members of the DDS (Die-hard Duterte Supporters). Because we are the media of Tatay Digong,” she said in her Mocha Uson Blog.

Uson’s appointment— with a salary grade level of between SG 27 and 29 and a base pay of between P87,000 and P106,000—was met with disgust, outrage and mockery from several sectors, with the alternative account of the Armed Forces of the Philippines tweeting the strongest and most critical reaction.

@AltTeamAFP described Uson as the “Queen of Fake News in the Philippines,” and said “(t)he misinformation of the people is a threat to national security.”

The alternative military Twitter account, which has almost 2,000 followers since it was created in March, also took a swipe at Uson’s huge compensation: “Someone who risks his life to defend his country should be paid more than someone who destroys her country by proliferating fake news.”

‘Bright, articulate’

In a press briefing on Wednesday shortly before he left for Cambodia, President Duterte defended the starlet known for her risque interaction with her mostly male audience in bar performances.

“She’s bright, she’s articulate,” and should not be deprived of the “honors that she deserves,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that it was his turn to believe in the likes of Uson after she and her group Mocha Girls campaigned for him for free.

The President also said Uson’s past as a sexy performer did not render her unfit to work in the government. “There’s no law which says if you expose half your body with a shorts and bra, you are disqualified from being the President of the Philippines,” Mr. Duterte added.

As a Palace official, Uson will be in charge of social media and will be producing social media content, said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

Netizens also questioned the qualification of Uson, a 1998 medical technology graduate of the University of Santo Tomas who dropped out of her medical studies.

Other critics described Uson as a purveyor of fake news in at least four instances. In one, she posted a news report praising the DSWD’s system for packing 50,000 relief goods. “That’s how much the Duterte Administration values the ordinary Filipino,” she commented. As angry netizens immediately pointed out, the news report was published on Oct. 1, 2015.

In another blog post, Uson shared the photo of a girl who was supposedly raped and murdered, and asked rhetorically how come there was no outrage from the rights commission. It turned out the incident happened in Brazil. The post was later taken down.

In a post about the tax evasion case of Mighty Corp., Uson cited Article 263 of the Constitution. The 1987 Constitution has only 18 articles.

On Nov. 18 last year, when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was given a hero’s burial, and St. Scholastica’s College students rallied in protest, Uson claimed to have received a message from a distraught parent accusing the school of “child abuse,” for forcing her daughter to join the rally. Several parents denied the claim. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH



Duterte names Año as next DILG chief

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he will appoint Armed Forces chief of staff, General Eduardo Año as the next Interior and Local Government Chief.

“You are now facing the next DILG Secretary,” Duterte told reporters as he presented Ano during his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The DILG is currently headed by officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy following the sacking of Ismael Sueno.

Ano will be added to the growing list of military men tapped by the president to hold key positions in government.

The president recently appointed retired General Roy Cimatu to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“He’s (Año) retiring.. So puro military halos. Si Roy pati siya,” Duterte said.

“May isang bakante pa, dagdagan ko pa ng military, kumpleto na ang junta natin,” Duterte quipped.

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

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.


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.


Cassini probe find vast void between Saturn’s rings

The unmanned Cassini spacecraft, after completing two passes in the vast, unexplored area between Saturn's rings has discovered not much else there, researchers at NASA said.
Scientists have been surprised to find that not all that much -- not even space dust -- lies between Saturn's iconic rings.
"The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after the probe's first pass.
The rings themselves are made of fast-moving particles of ice and space debris.
The 22-foot-tall (6.7 meter) Cassini spacecraft launched in 1997 and began orbiting Saturn in 2004.
Cassini made a first pass to explore what lies between the rings in late April and a second one on May 2, at a speed of about 77,000 miles per hour relative to the planet.
The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn's atmosphere is about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers).
Cassini is expected to make a total of 22 dives between the rings and the planet before making a death plunge into the gas giant in September.
Cassini is a 20-year-old joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. —Agence France-Presse


Request to run Santa Clara Water Valley District- Q&A with John Varela

Q&A: What Will It Take to Prevent Another Coyote Creek Flood?

Editor’s Note: On the morning of February 21, the Rock Springs area of San Jose saw the city’s worst flooding in two decades when winter storms caused Coyote Creek to overflow. Early storms this year had saturated watersheds, and increased runoff from subsequent storms caused the creek to rise dramatically. The City of San Jose failed to warn residents, with city officials saying they’d been given inaccurate information by the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Nearly 15,000 people had to be evacuated. NAM spoke with John Varela, the board director of the water district.

What is the major lesson learned for the District from last month's catastrophic Coyote Creek flood?

The water district understands the need to have a strong collaboration with the City of San Jose and other cities to reduce flood risk to residents. The district and city are developing a joint emergency action plan with specific thresholds and defined corresponding actions.

What is the likelihood that a similar flood could recur, and what steps is the District taking to ensure there will be advance warning if it does?

The type of storm we saw on President’s Day was classified as a 20- or 25-year storm event. We haven’t seen similar flows in Coyote Creek since 1997. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t see flooding for another 20 years. With any chance of storm, parts of our county are susceptible to flooding … There are about 66,000 parcels that are in the FEMA flood zone. We are working every year to reduce that number, but the flood risk will continue to exist. People should be aware that not all flooding can be predicted. Our ability to forecast stream flows is improving, but it’s not a perfect science. Strong downpours can cause streams to rise quickly, and flash flooding can happen quickly and without warning.

The district will continue working with cities and regional partners to communicate and to ensure understanding of existing flood risks and work on developing joint emergency action plans to improve inter-agency communication.

The City of San Jose has criticized the district for inaccurate data regarding channel capacity and flawed estimates of flood risk. What is the District’s response?

The water district followed the procedures and protocols and provided the necessary information and data to the City to notify residents that flooding was imminent in the President’s Day storm event. Numerous indications showed the potential for flooding at vulnerable areas along the creek. Given unpredictable variables with a natural creek like Coyote, our estimates were within a standard range … The City was aware of the forecast predicting flooding from the National Weather Service, and from a technical and professional standpoint, should have been relying on all the data that was presented, rather than basing its actions on one single piece of data [i.e., the flow rates in Coyote Creek].

The District is not responsible for calling for evacuations. However, a period of 24 to 48 hours is likely appropriate to facilitate a timely and orderly evacuation. It’s unclear what trigger the City of San Jose was using for its evacuation decisions. If it was only flow rates in Coyote Creek, that obviously would not have allowed for a timely and orderly evaluation. In fact, it would have only provided for a maximum notice of 4 to 6 hours for the impacted communities.

What is the district doing to improve its flood monitoring protocols?

Our hydrology team is working on further developing an existing flood forecasting tool to extend monitoring and forecasting to other parts of our county, including Coyote Creek. This tool is a useful resource in sharing information with partner agencies. A byproduct of the flood is that we now have a more current estimate of where flooding occurs along Coyote Creek and the estimated flow levels. Previous estimates were based on flows from 1997 storms, the last recorded high flow event in the creek, in addition to a field study that measured the shape of the channel. Over the course of 20 years, there are a variety of factors that can impact the capacity of the creek. Creeks can extend in a different direction, erosion can occur along the creek, and vegetation growth and creek blockages can also occur over time.

What steps can residents take to protect themselves from future flooding?

Disaster preparedness is key, not just for flood safety but for any naturally occurring disaster. According to FEMA, 83 percent of Americans do not consider themselves prepared for an emergency. So it is crucial for residents to be prepared with emergency supplies at home, at work, and in their car, and that they have an emergency evacuation plan with their families. Also key for flood safety is being aware of your flood risk. Residents should be aware of the location of neighborhood streams and know how to get to higher ground in the event of flooding. Another important action that residents can take is purchasing flood insurance, which can save a lot of headaches and money; most homeowners and renters insurance do not cover flood damage. The water district has flood protection resources available on our website,

What message does the District want to send about its role?

In the last four decades, the water district has invested more than a billion dollars in reducing flood risk, protecting more than 93,000 properties in previously flood-prone areas. However, flood risk still exists in our county, and with more than 60,000 parcels in the FEMA-designated floodplain, we currently have 18 projects underway to reduce this risk. Flood protection projects are large and multifaceted undertakings … Support from the community and agencies at the local, state, and even federal levels is crucial for a successful project. The water district will host a series of post-flood community meetings to analyze the event and how we can leverage community relationships, agency partnerships, and resources to reduce flood risk in the future.


Care Indeed Sponsors SF State Gerontology Program's 30th Anniversary

Care Indeed was a silver sponsor at the recent SF State Gerontology Program's 30th Anniversary. SF State, a leader and advocate for compassionate and quality senior care, is committed to educating and inspiring the workforce that we need. Photo shows Care Indeed representatives who attended the 30th Anniversary and Dinner Celebration: Vanessa Valerio, VP and COO for Patient Care; Amrita Sanyal, Senior Care Manager; Christine Cendana, Care Manager; and Dee Bustos, CEO.
Care Indeed is a leading home care provider in the Bay Area. For more information about their services, please call (650) 328-1001 or go to

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