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Latest News

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, www.valleywater.org.

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 www.careindeed.com.


Two quakes rock Cebu 2 minutes apart

An image released by Phivolcs shows the epicenter of the earthquake that hit Cebu at 3:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017. Another quake that hit two-minutes earlier hit the same general area. PHIVOLCS IMAGE Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/882468/two-quakes-rock-cebu-2-minutes-apart#ixzz4bux8XYdw Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


By: Michelle Padayhag - @inquirerdotnet

CEBU CITY — Two earthquakes were recorded in midwest Cebu on Tuesday before dawn, according to Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Based on the advisory posted on its website, Phivolcs said first tremor was recorded at 3:41 a.m. with a magnitude of 3.4 with the epicenter traced about two kilometers northwest of Asturias town, midwest Cebu
The earthquake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 15 kilometers.

The tremor was felt at Intensity three and two in Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City.
Two minutes later, a second earthquake occurred.
A stronger, magnitude 4.8 earthquake was recorded at 3:43 a.m with an epicenter at 4 kilometers northwest of Balamban town, which is next to Asturias.
The second quake was also tectonic in origin and had 25 kilometers in depth.
It was felt at Intensity 3 in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. CBB


PNP asks Leni Robredo for details of ‘palit-ulo’ scheme in war on drugs

The Philippine National Police on Wednesday asked Vice President Leni Robredo to provide details on the alleged ‘palit-ulo’ scheme so that the PNP could take action and investigate.
Robredo, in a video message, adverted to instances when loved ones of drug suspects were apprehended when police couldn't get to the suspect.
The police allegedly urge the suspect to surrender before the family member is released.
“Kung merong ganitong ulat, we ask them to be more specific and let us allow those allegedly who has done this to answer for it,” PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said in a press conference.
“Let us be more specific saan nangyari, sino itong mga ito,” he added.
Carlos said the ‘palit-ulo’ scheme, if true, was not condoned by the PNP.
“Hindi nga ito sanctioned, wala doon sa polisiya. Hindi iyan norm, hindi iyan practice
," Carlos said.
"Ina-attach natin ito sa Oplan Tokhang which is not part of the Oplan Tokhang. Sana ay maging more specific kung nangyayari hindi yung it will appear that it is the practice which is not,” he added.
He said police officers involved in such a scheme would be investigated either by Internal Affairs Service or the local police.
“Kung may pananagutan yung pulis, bawat isang insidente na may nangyari andyan na agad ang IAS. Kasabay nyan magsasagawa ng investigation ang police station kung saan nangyari yung krimen,” Carlos said.
Robredo, in a recorded speech posted on YouTube by anti-drug network DRCNet Foundation on March 13, said the spouse or relative of a person in a so-called drug list would be taken if the person himself could not be found.
She said that because of these instances, the people have allegedly lost trust in the police.
"Some of those have told us that when there's crime, they normally go to the police. Now they don't know where to turn to. Our people feel both hopeless and helpless—a state of mind that we must all take seriously," Robredo said.
But according to Carlos, Robredo should have coordinated with their office first regarding the alleged scheme before it was made public.
“Sana nga naiparating [muna] hindi ‘yung broadcast kaagad. The same way with sinasabi natin doon sa mga ulat na paglabag sa karapatang pantao, meron ho kaming opisina para doon," he said.
“May nabanggit na 500 na kaso na paglabag sa karapatang pantao at inihain sa tamang ahensya ng gobyerno. Ang tanong is how extensive these investigations are that would warrant a case against those who made a violation. Ganun ‘yung tanong hindi ‘yung we float the numbers and then make it appear as if it is the general situation,” Carlos added.
He cited the alleged 7,000 summary killing cases being mentioned. He said of the number, 4,435 were murder cases under death under investigation and of this, 1,409 have been resolved where charges have been filed before the court.
Carlos said they have arrested 800 suspects while 500 others have been identified.
“Hindi ho natin iniwanan itong mga kasong ito pagkatapos nung tayo ay pinatigil nung January 30, nagtuloy-tuloy ‘yung imbestigasyon, pag-monitor natin ng kaso,” he said.
He said the PNP figures “have been used to represent something which is not really the entire situation.”
“We hope they present more specific details on their data. Kasi if you look at the different reports they will always say over 7,000 cases, iba-iba nagsasabi niyan,” Carlos said. — GMA News

Was 'intimate' dinner with Duterte a loyalty check? Sotto, Ejercito say no

Senators Vicente Sotto III and JV Ejercito on Wednesday denied that the “intimate” dinner they had with President Rodrigo Duterte was part of a loyalty check, saying the two-hour conversation was mostly “light” and “nothing serious.”
Sotto and Ejercito were two of the 15 majority senators who attended the dinner held Tuesday night in Malacañang.
“Walang napag-usapan na priority bills,” Sotto said. “Siguro probably because most of them have not broken bread with the President not even once from July.”
Asked whether it was a loyalty check, Sotto replied: “I don’t think so.”

Ejercito, for his part, said: “Wala eh. Baka. Pero wala talagang pinag-usapan na medyo mabigat na issue.”
Ejercito added that topics discussed during the dinner were tax reform proposals of the administration, the war on drugs, and, very briefly, the charges filed against Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima is currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center over drug-related charges.
“In fairness to the President, wala siyang hiniling, inindorso, wala siyang tinanong tungkol sa investigation. So very light lang,” Ejercito said.
Aside from Ejercito and Sotto, the other senators present were Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and Senators Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Grace Poe, Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, and Sonny Angara.
Absent from the dinner are Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Gringo Honasan.
Also noticeably absent were members of the minority bloc composed of De Lima and Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV. —KBK, GMA News


Donald Trump Has Call Centers in the Philippines Worried

Outsourcing companies in the Philippines, whose clients are mainly U.S. companies, are worried that Donald Trump’s plan to bring jobs back to America won’t end at just manufacturing but extend into services.

The industry is considering hiring a U.S.-based consultant to monitor the threat of rising American protectionism, Ike Amigo, the head of the Philippine association representing outsourcing companies, said in an interview on Wednesday.

“We are looking at hiring a consultant on the ground pretty soon, as early as March,” he said in his office in Manila. “We keep an eye on developments in the Trump administration. Certainly, it is a concern,” adding the consultant may be a lobbyist or a research group.

Trump is shaking up the global stage as he persuades companies such as Ford Motor Co. to put up factories and investment in the U.S to create jobs. While outsourcing companies have largely escaped his notice, his policies could hurt the industry in the Philippines, among the largest foreign-exchange earners, just as the peso is weakening.

Click here to read how the peso’s decline is forecast to worsen this year

“Trump is one of the biggest risks facing outsourcing revenue,” said Michael Wan, an economist at Credit Suisse Group AG in Singapore. “That comes on top of a more protectionist mood globally, not just in the U.S. The outsourcing sector will have to contend with that challenge.”

Philippine outsourcing revenue surged 160 percent in the past six years to an estimated $23 billion in 2016 and is forecast to rise to $39 billion by 2022. It is projected to provide 1.8 million jobs by then, about 4 percent of total employment.

To achieve their goal, the industry is moving to offering higher-skilled jobs in areas such as animation, medical, legal and game development, Amigo said. That will add to the Philippines’ natural advantages which include cheaper wages, accent-neutral English language skills, affinity with customer service and familiarity with American culture.

Philippine providers also seek to diversify their markets to boost clients from Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, India, U.K., and Southeast Asia, he said.

The average cost of a full-time business process outsourcing employee in the Philippines is about $19,300 a year, compared with $72,300 in the U.K. and $91,100 in the U.S., according to consulting firm Everest Group. The cost calculation includes salaries and expenses related to benefits, administration, facilities, technology and others.

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