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BREAKING NEWS: Duterte threatens to terminate Visiting Forces Agreement

January 24, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) should the US Government rectify their error. The president was dismayed on the American Government's immediate cancellation of the US Visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa without justifiable reasons. But Senator Panfilo Lacson is quick to tell that there is no connection between Sen dela Rosa's visa cancellation with the bilateral agreement entered into by the United States and the Philippines. "A US visa is a conditional authorization granted to a foreigner. It may be cancelled without explanation or justification. The VFA is a bilateral agreement between the Ph and the US that went through some careful and diplomatic discussion. Pray tell, where is the connection," the senator said in his twitter account.  As for Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, he said "that agreement should always be subject to review. He (the President) can even say that 'times have changed and it is no longer needed by the country." Pimentel, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added the President may cancell the accord "with or without a reason." For his part, Senator Ronald dela Rosa said "I don't deserve this bargain but it is not all about me. It is about a one-sided foreign relations." Although Dela Rosa has also openly said he is backing the president's idea of terminating the visiting forces agreement should the American Government would not rectify its cancellation of the US visa of the senator. In President Duterte's speech in Leyte the president was fuming mad upon knowing the said visa cancellation of his close ally in government - Sen Ronald dela Rosa. "I'm warning you. This is the first time. Kapag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan, I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Tapusin ko 'yan pu**** in*** yan," was the president's angry reaction on dela Rosa's US visa termination.

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Deadly Coronavirus kills 17; downs 530 in China

January 24, 2020

CHINA - The deadly Coronavirus has already claimed 17 deaths and 530 patients, according to a radio report in Wuhan, China, a city with recorded 11 million people. As a result of this deadly Coronavirus, Chinese medical practitioners are now wearing Hazmat-clad suit to protect themselves from cross-infection from the deadly virus believed coming from the animals. Wuhan City, a city with estimated 11 million people, is where the virus reportedly started according to medical historians and experts. The deadly virus from China has also reached Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and just recently the virus also penetrated United States. Radio Free Asia has just released on social media a 17-second clip filmed in Huizhou, southern part of Guangdong Province in South China. The first confirmed Coronavirus was from a small coastal city in China with a population of nearly five million people. Guangdong province has a total infected patients of 26 according to the Radio Free Asia. Based on initial investigation by Chinese medical doctors and scientists, the virus is believed coming from live animals traded in Huanan Seafood Market. This is among the largest marketplaces in Wuhan, where the confirmed cases of medical practitioners infected by the virus.  It was also earlier reported that there are now 20 cases of medical practitioners under treatment for possible virus infection.  The Chinese authorities advised people to just stay indoors to avoid this so-called airborne diseases brought about by the Coronavirus.

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P129,000 fake bills seized in CDO raid

January 24, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--About P 129,000 counterfeit bills was seized by the combined elements of the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) and agents of the Central Bank here Thursday morning. Armed with a search warrant, the law enforcers raided the house of a certain Roberto de la Serna in Tablon, Cagayan De Oro City and seized the reported fake money. Police Lt. Noel Oclarit, head of the CIDG team, said that the suspect has been in surveillance after the law enforcers received reports about the alleged production of counterfeit money in the suspect’s computer shop. Oclaret said that the raiding team found the bundle of fake P 128,000 Philippine peso bills during the raid on De la Serna’s computer shop. He said that the Central Bank agents examined and confirmed that the P 1,000-peso bills were counterfeit. Oclaret said that the raiding team also seized the computer, printers and other accessories needed in the production of printing materials. He said that the team also recovered a .38 caliber revolver with four rounds of live ammunitions. Annie Ladislao, the suspect’s mother-in-law has denied that her son-in-law is engaged in illegal activities. De la Serna owned a computer shop, a mini-mart, and printing shop, all with business permits. -0-

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The fantasy of the P7b annual budget

January 24, 2020

IT is good to hear that, at the start of the year, the revenue collection of the city government has improved during the renewal of the business permits and payments of realty taxes. While we see an improvement in the collection, the question still remains. Can the city government really collect or earn as much as P 7 billion this year? The question is inevitable because the reported approved annual budget of the city government for 2020 is P 7 billion. With nothing concrete that can be felt about the development of the city, the P 7 billion budget becomes questionable. The taxpayers are asking on how the P 7 billion is going to be spent. The lack of transparency at the city hall always feed the people’s suspicions that the budget would only be spent to benefit some public officials. Nobody is saying ‘though that city hall is loaded with corruption. The report about the development of new hospitals in the city’s east and west districts are not enough to justify that the city is spending P 7 billion a year. Of course, there is the construction of schools here, there, and everywhere. Will the construction of these school buildings cost as much as P 7 billion, too. Come-on, Sir, the money is not spent only for hospitals and school buildings. There are other projects of the city government like the modern “Golden Home for the Aged” in Upper Puerto and the farm-to-market roads. Isn’t these projects worth P 7 billion? Well, nobody is arguing, but everybody’s asking a question. Can the city government make public its annual expenses for the last two years – 2018 and 2019? At least, the doubting Thomases would be given a clear and direct information on how the city government spent the taxpayers’ money. No matter, nobody believes that the city government could collect or earn P 7 billion a year. Unless, the geniuses at the city’s finance committee have studied the secret of magic, a collection of P 7 billion to replenish the city’s expenses is next to impossible. Did the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved the city’s annual budget? Anyway, there are still lots of things to be done. Perhaps, the city government could really collect P 7 billion a year and spent the money in a year’s time? The taxpayers are simply questioning that if the city government collects only a little over than P 300 million for the first quarter of 2020, then the collection of P 7 billion for the year is nothing, but a desperate dream.

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SEC to 3 lending firms: 'Stop!'

January 24, 2020

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered three lending firms to stop offering loans to the public through online platforms without the necessary licenses. In a press statement, the SEC ordered Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan to stop offering loans after the Commission En Banc issued the order on January 21, enjoining the owners, operators, promoters, representatives, agents and any and all persons claiming and acting for and in their behalf to immediately cease and desist, under pain of contempt, from engaging in, promoting and facilitating unauthorized lending activities.   The SEC likewise ordered Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan to cease from offering and advertising their lending business through the internet and to delete or remove promotional presentations and offerings from the internet, including the lending applications they operate.   Section 4 of Republic Act No. 9474, or the Lending Company Regulation Act of 2007, requires that a lending company be established only as a corporation. It further provides that “no lending company shall conduct business unless granted an authority to operate by the SEC.”   Any person who shall engage in the business of lending without a validly subsisting authority to operate from the SEC may face a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000 or imprisonment of six months to 10 years or both, under Section 12 of the Lending Company Regulation Act.   Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan offered loans to the public through their respective websites, mobile applications, Facebook pages and other similar online platforms, based on the findings of the Commission’s Corporate Governance and Finance Department and Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD).   Certifications by the SEC Company Registration and Monitoring Department (CRMD), however, showed that Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan were not registered as corporations and that they were not issued the necessary certificate of authority to operate as lending companies.   The EIPD further found the online lending operators to have employed abusive collection practices by imposing high interest rates, onerous and misleading terms and conditions, making misrepresentations as to non-collection of charges and fees and subjecting their debtors to public humiliation and ridicule to the extent of violating their right to privacy to ensure prompt and full collection of indebtedness.   “Considering that the Online Lending Operators are not incorporated entities and have no Certificate of Authority to Operate as Lending Companies or Financing Companies, the lending activities and transaction are illegal and have to be stopped immediately by this Commission,” the order read.   “Finally, the Commission cannot turn a blind eye on the fact that the Online Lending Operator's violation in the instant case was aggravated by the fact that they conducted their business in an unscrupulous manner with evident bad faith, by charging their borrowers unconscionable interest rates, subjecting them to inhumane treatment using abusive and degrading language, and similar other harassment strategies in order to collect debts. This has to stop immediately.”   The SEC earlier issued cease and desist orders covering a total of 48 online lending platforms and their operators for engaging in the business of lending or financing without incorporating and securing a certificate of authority. More information is available on the Lending & Financing Companies page on the Commission’s website. (PR)

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A moment of renewal, recovery with Fr. Jun

January 24, 2020

AMID my convalescence,  I managed to attend  the Anointing of the Sick officiated by Rev. Father Jun Balsamo, SSJV last week. The activity was attended by members and friends of Thrive CDO, a group of breast cancer survivors and patients organized by Karen Lluch years ago.  The group had since grown big through the years. Last week was my first time to attend the anointing but I know it is one of the Blessed Sacraments of the Catholic church and as a graduate of a Catholic school, I used to know it as the holy unction. Am not sure if there was a change of name or whether it is still the same. The anointing of the sick is a Catholic Church sacrament administered to ailing or aging Catholics and the administering priests use holy water and holy oil and offer prayers for them. I get goosebumps recalling the sins of parents and grandparents mentioned in a prayer during one service and the prayer of forgiveness is offered to clean the family of sins committed by one of their own. During these prayers, I close my eyes and shut off all noise as I concentrate my mind to recall all possible sins I may have committed as well as those committed by my family so I can ask forgiveness from the Lord. I especially think about my paternal grandfather Felix Quilang Naelga because I recalled opening the old jar where he placed a banana inside without permission. The prayers would last two hours with signs of crosses made in every prayer. I’ve never been sprinkled with a lot of holy water in my whole life except that one time. The administering priest would then give the blessing by making the sign of the cross with holy oil on the foreheads, eyes, lips, nose, chest and feet of the faithful. By administering the holy oil on the nose, the priest said the faithful would be able to smell the perceived fragrance of the Lord as well as see with their eyes the Lord’s grandeur despite our predicament. Last week’s anointing of the sick was special and meaningful for the 10 of us members of Thrive CDO in attendance plus the members of Chona Hay’s family who hosted the activity. I see it in their faces and it was especially meaningful for Chona’s sister Emma who has a second bout with cancer and for another sister. I posted pictures of the activity in my Facebook page and Dr. Manny Jaudian, Phd and a former dean of Cagayan de Oro College-Phinma’s College of Criminology saw the photos and immediately tecognized Father Jun Balsamo as a former student. It turned out that the good priest now heads the Ministry of Deliverance and Exorcism of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. Father Balsamo told us that any Catholic family should instill in their members the value of prayers in their daily lives and should not allow mobile devices like cell phones to dictate on their routines. It was really an inspiring time with the priest and I look forward to meeting him again. And I came to know that Father Balsamo is from Baluarte, Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental where I was born amd raised. Pure coincidence I must say.  Rev.Fr.Roberto Dela Cuesta Balsamo,SSJV is the son of Roberto Balsamo,Sr. and Ursula Dela Cuesta Balsamo Good luck Father Jun in your ministry which I know to be more relevant in these troubling times. ************** Still talking about churches, I am very pleased to notice that my temporary church,  the St. Francis Xavier Parish Uptown Church is slowly taking shape. Since my husband Ronnie and I visit the Philippines twice a year, the St. Francis Xavier Parish Uptown Church had been my spiritual anchor.  For sometime now I didn’t understand why construction on the church had been slow when I believe that it is surrounded by moneyed, generous parishioners. Last Christmas season I saw this generosity in action with the parishioners sharing their blessings. Way to go Most Reverend Father J Julius Clavero,SSJV  you are fortunate that you have able parishioners like Dr. Dures Tagayuna and retired Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Evelyn Gamotin Nery volunteering for the church. Let this church withstand the test of time and I am humbled to have helped it a little. (For comments and questions email me at susanap.dennis@yahoo.com)

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