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3rd Update: Government declares Batangas now under state of calamity

January 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines - Showing signs of imminent danger from the continued rumblings of Taal Volcano, the entire province of Batangas is now declared "under state of calamity," government authorities reported. Many areas in Batangas are now seems looking like a desert - with the continued ashfall caused by the eruption of Taal Volcano.  More lava fountains  More lava fountains are now found at the crater of Taal Volcano, raising speculations bigger eruptions would follow soon which might also trigger the alert level to reach to 5. Based on the 4pm Monday update of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), they have discovered new lateral vents on the northern side of the volcano where short 500-meter lava fountains started. Renato Solidum, Phivolcs director said this new observation means "there are vents lined up on the northern flank of the volcano and it causes short lava fountains.”  “So now, the eruption is not only seen inside the crater but along the side of the volcano as well.” Solidum said during a media briefing Monday that "after a brief waning of activity following lava fountaining, the volcano's eruption resumed right away with weak sporadic lava fountaining and hydrovolanic activity at the crater. "This generated steam-laden plumes approximately two kilometers tall," Phivolcs officials say.   Heavy ashfall are now monitored in by Phivolcs in the towns of Lemery, Cuenca and Taal in Batangas. “Fine ashfall can cause irritation and breathing problems especially among the elderly and children,” Phivolcs said. The Phivolcs director said long term exposure to ashfall may pose harmful effects on humans. Thus, he advised residents to stay indoors and avoid prolong contacts with ashfall. “Long-term exposure may be harmful to respiratory health. In addition, areas of ashfall have also experienced sulfurous smell which can also cause irritation,” it added.  

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Tennis balls plant at Phividec to break ground in April

January 11, 2020

ONE of the world’s leading manufacturer of tennis balls has taken its first step in transferring their major operations to the Philippines, having signed a 25-year-lease agreement with Phividec Industrial Authority in Misamis Oriental on Friday. HEAD International Holding GmbH chief executive officer Gerald Skrobanek, who sealed the lease with Phividec Industrial Authority administrator Franklin Quijano, said that high labor costs and rezoning in their tennis manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China forced them to seek elsewhere. That elsewhere is the Philippines. “Labor here is relatively cheaper than in China and workers can adapt easily. This is of course matched with a sound business climate in your country,” Skrobanek told Mindanao Daily News in an exclusive interview. Sound business climate meant that HEAD International Holding GmbH must erect its plant in an economic zone, thereby avoiding high taxes and gaining investment incentives instead. Skrobanek – who owns a retreat house somewhere in Visayas – instantly chose Mindanao, having been briefed of a surplus of electricity in the island. It was at this point that an official of the Board of Investments (BOI) recommended to Skrobanek to scout on the Phividec Industrial Estate, a sprawling economic zone in Misamis Oriental whose revenues go to veterans’ care, for the possible location of his plant. From then, things moved forward. Skrobanek revealed that if plans don’t miscarry, HEAD International Holding GmbH’s plant at Phividec will break ground in April. The plant will occupy a five-hectare area and has the capacity to produce ten million tennis balls each year, mostly to be exported to North America and western Europe. It is expected to employ 700 workers once operational. Quijano welcomed the entry of HEAD International Holding GmbH in the country, saying it is a boost to the local rubber industry here. Here in the Philippines, rubber production is mostly concentrated in Bukidnon, Zamboanga, Basilan and North Cotabato.

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Camiguin Gov. Romualdo assures environment sustainability amidst developments

January 11, 2020

MAMBAJAO, Camiguin--With the huge influx of local and foreign tourists visiting this island-province, the provincial government has taken measures to ensure that despite the growing tourism industry here, its people will protect the environment as its very important natural resource. With the province’s fast economic growth, recording P213.088 million on investment value for the first three quarters of 2019, Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo assures environmental protection and sustainability with the implementation of Population Carrying Capacity in the province during his State of the Province Address (SOPA), on January 7 at Camiguin Convention Center. “We are happy to share that we have started last year first steps towards establishing carrying capacity limits in our ecotourism sites to be able to determine the maximum number of individuals of a specie that can be sustained by the environment and sustain that same number in the future,” Romualdo said. In doing such, survey enumerators of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office gathered secondary data on infrastructure, population, water consumption for households, hotels and resorts, waste generation, wastewater, biodiversity, municipal profile, and other limiting factors to be used in data analysis. “Gusto nako nga naa ta’y initial carrying capacity sa turista. Sauna gusto nato daghan kaayong tao, pero dili diay na insakto (I want us to have a carrying capacity on tourists. Before we wanted to have a lot of people but it wasn't correct). There should be a carrying capacity to sustain all our environments,” the governor said. Noting the 11.56 percent increase in commercial aircraft movement and 7 percent increase in passenger traffic, Romualdo said there is a need to take further actions to protect and conserve the island’s environment. Thus, the Climate Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction Center shall ensure all policies, laws, and regulations, and ordinances are enforced pertaining to the conservation and protection of the environment and natural resources. Furthermore, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) has carried on numerous programs in line with the DENR’s national priorities. These include the expanded national greening program, enhanced biodiversity conservation, scaling up of marine and coastal ecosystem, improved land administration, and management, intensified forest protection and anti-illegal logging. The governor said PENRO has focused on the maintenance and protection for the expanded national greening program where plantations were established in 2017 and 2018 such as the 50-hectare bamboo plantation, 3-hectare rich forest and mangrove enrichment, 50-hectare bamboo plantation along the riverbanks. For protected areas, PENRO also pursued activities that focus on advocacy, assessment and monitoring of sites and species. While it is good to note the economic gains of having a lot of investments in the island, Romualdo said it is everybody’s role to ensure that the environment will always be healthy and beautiful because after all, this is what the island is well known for.

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Vice Mayor, 2 others killed in ambush in Zambo Norte

January 11, 2020

SIOCON, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE - A town's vice mayor and his two other companions were killed in an ambush perpetrated by five unidentified suspects armed with high-caliber firearms, Saturday morning (January 11,2020), at around 11:20 in Siocon town this province.  Police investigators identified those who died as Baliguian Vice Mayor Gani Esmali; PCorporal Godelito Bongcac, a member of the PNP; and a certain Jaymalin Jalabi Tunggal. One of mayor's escorts, Abduladjid Ibno Bairula, survived the ambush but was in a very critical condition in a hospital, the police probers reported. Initial investigation disclosed that while Vice Mayor Esmali and three other companions were negotiating a road in sitio Barazon, Barangay Sta Maria, Siocon town, five unidentified suspects suddenly alighted from the crime scene and without provocation peppered the vice mayor's vehicle with bullets. The gunmen, after the ambush immediately fled from the crime scene on board a grey Toyota Hilux vehicle towards Baliguian town. The Siocon town police claimed the suspects were armed with undetermined high-powered firearms when they ambushed the vice mayor and his three other companions. Police investigators are still looking into the possibility that the ambush was politically-motivated, but admitted they are still 'facing a blank wall' as to the real motive of the suspects in killing the vice mayor and his escorts. Responding police operatives recovered from the ambush site an M16 rifle with 49 cartridges and also an aluminum magazine loaded with 18 bullets. Police investigators are now pushing for the thorough investigation of the case to identify the perpetrators and whoever masterminded the reported ambush.   

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Malacañang: Don’t repeat Hanjin history

January 10, 2020

MALACAÑANG has warned local politicians not to meddle in the soon to be constructed  $4-billion integrated steel facility inside a 305-hectare prime property of Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.      It can be recalled that in 2008,   Hanjin Heavy Industries, a Korean  shipbuilding conglomerate has started building its $2 billion shipyard facility  at the same site only  to pack up later because of widespread corruption  allegedly committed  by local officials.       The Crusade for Clean Government (CCG), a volunteer watchdog against corruption in government has issued rhe same vigilance  call of Malacanang to rid off irregularities in all transactions involving the mega project that is seen to generate an initial 10,000 jobs.      CCG Lead Convenor Ruffy Magbanua said there is a  need to establish safety nets to ward off corrupt local officials  prying on the fat investments of the country’s largest integrated steel mill  ever to be built in Mindanao.      “For transparency, CCG will work   In alliance with the Oro Chamber and other well-meaning business organizations to see to it that corruption is completely out  in all transactions as the pet project of the President takes shape very soon”, Magbanua said.       We will not allow the  Hanjin  experience to happen again in this biggest single  investment in  Mindanao, he said.      Hanjin transferred its shipbuilding facility in Subic, Zambales only to suffer huge losses in the initial operations due to mismanagement.      The  First Mindanao Integrated Steel Mill is formed by China’s three leading companies – Huili Fund, Baowu Steel Group Corporation Ltd (China Baowu), and China Metalurgical Group Corporation’s subsidiary, CISDI Group Co Ltd. (CISDI).      China Baowu, the new technical partner to operate the steel mill, currently ranks first in China and second in the world as the largest steel producer in the world measured by crude steel output.       China Baowu is poised  to apply its  state-of-art, green and intelligent technology in this  steel project.       Late last year, a MOA signing  was forged between  Huili Fund Philippines President Jun Hou; Phividec Administrator Atty. Franklin Quijano; Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano ; and Simple Homes CEO and President Robertino Pizarro  for the lease with option to purchase the 305-hectare property at Phividec.      The three-phase project will consist of a port, an integrated steel mill with a capacity of 10 million tons, an industrial park and other downstream industries.      Last year’s delay was  due to the rules that keep changing in the middle of the game.      It was reported  that the project had to endure a corporate snag on the negotiation table. However, key players of this project had not lost their balance and remained upbeat and bullish as it were.

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KAPA officers, promoters face arrest over criminal charges filed in court

January 10, 2020

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has moved closer to putting the officers and promoters of Kapa-Community Ministry International (KAPA) behind bars with the filing of criminal charges against the scamming group.   In a separate information filed with the Bislig City Regional Trial Court Branch 29, the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused KAPA of “willfully, unlawfully and criminally” engaging in the selling or offering for sale or distribution of securities to the general public without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the SEC.   Accordingly, the DOJ charged KAPA Founder and President Joel A. Apolinario, Trustee Margie A. Danao and Corporate Secretary Reyna L. Apolinario of violating Sections 8(8.1), 26.1 and 28 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code (SRC).   The DOJ also indicted Marisol S. Diaz, Adelfa Fernandico, Moises Mopia and Reniones D. Catubigan for violation of Section 26.1 of the SRC for promoting the investment scam.   The DOJ further charged Diaz before the Rizal Regional Trial Court for violation of Section 28. It filed similar Information against Mopia and Fernandico with the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 93.   The concerned judges, upon finding of sufficient probable cause for the issuance of Warrants of Arrest, shall order the arrest of the indicted officers and promoters of KAPA, in accordance with the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.   So far, the SEC has verified that a Warrant of Arrest was issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on December 2, 2019 against Fernandico.   The criminal proceedings stemmed from the complaint filed by the SEC on June 18, 2019 against KAPA for the unauthorized sale or offering for sale or distribution of securities to the general public.   In a resolution issued on September 25, 2019, the DOJ found probable cause to bring charges against KAPA, affirming the findings of the SEC.   The Commission found KAPA to have enticed the public to invest at least P10,000 in exchange for a 30% monthly return for life, without having to do anything other than invest and wait for the payout.   The SEC also found KAPA to have employed a Ponzi scheme, an investment program that offers impossibly high returns and pays investors using the money contributed by later investors.   Under Section 8(8.1) of the SRC, securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines without a registration statement duly filed and approved by the SEC.   Section 26.1 further provides that it shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, in connection with the purchase or sale of any securities to employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud.   Section 28 adds that no person shall engage in the business of buying or selling securities in the Philippines as a broker or dealer, or act as a salesman, or an associated person of any broker or dealer unless registered with the SEC.   The SEC initially issued an advisory against KAPA in March 2017. It would later issue a cease and desist order on February 14, 2019 and an order of revocation of the KAPA’s certificate of incorporation on April 3, 2019.   In the interest of affected investors, the Commission, through the Anti-Money Laundering Council, likewise obtained a freeze order from the Court of Appeals on June 4, 2019 to preserve assets linked to KAPA.   Meanwhile, the SEC reiterated its advice for the general public to exercise more caution and discernment as certain supporters and promoters of KAPA peddled false information about the group’s supposed revival.   Only recently, the Commission called out Roger Abing Camingawan and Daniel Flash Villas for falsely claiming, in paid radio broadcasts from General Santos City, that KAPA successfully registered as a crowdfunding entity, pursuant to SEC Memorandum Circular No. 14, Series of 2019, among others.   KAPA, through its counsel on record, earlier disclaimed authorizing the publication of such false claims on social media and noted that only Catubigan and Ronnie Garay may speak on behalf of the group.   “We are committed to see the criminal proceedings against KAPA through to the end,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said. “We will pursue everyone involved in the investment scam that played havoc with the future of our fellow Filipinos, including those who continue to attempt to perpetuate it.”   A person found to have violated the SRC, or the relevant rules and regulations promulgated by the SEC, will face a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 7 to 21 years, or both.   Considering the use of Facebook and YouTube in the illegal investment scheme, the DOJ recommended that the penalty to be imposed against KAPA, its officers and agents be one degree higher than what is prescribed by the SRC, pursuant to Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.   The SEC has secured convictions under the SRC since its enactment in July 2000.   In November 2015, for instance, the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 56 convicted spouses Saturnino and Rosario Baladjay, who operated a pyramiding scam through Multitel International Holdings, Inc., of 65 counts of violation of Section 8 of the SRC.   The court sentenced the Baladjays to serve seven years in jail for each count of violation for a total of 455 years and ordered them to pay the complainants a total of P8 million. In addition, Rosario was sentenced to suffer life imprisonment in a separate conviction for syndicated estafa, affirmed by the Supreme Court in July 2017. (SEC-10)

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