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Duterte issues first EO reorganizing Office of the President

Thursday, 7 July 2016 | Written by

Duterte07President Rodrigo Duterte on July 4 issued his first Executive Order reorganizing the Office of the President (OP) in order to streamline the anti-poverty programs of the government.

Under the new clustering, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio ‘Jun’ Evasco will supervise 12 line agencies that are directly under the OP.

These agencies include the Cooperative Development Authority, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, National Youth Commission, the Office of the President-Presidential Action Center, the Philippine Commission on Women, and the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor.

The National Food Authority and the Philippine Coconut Authority—two agencies under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization in the previous administration, will remain under the control of the Office of the President.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), whose head of agency had a Cabinet-level rank under the previous administration, was reverted back to its previous rank of undersecretary and removed from its mother line agency, the Department of Labor and Employment.

These agencies which shall be supervised by the Cabinet Secretary, are tasked to “primarily evaluate the existing poverty reduction programs and, if deemed necessary, formulate a more responsive set of programs complementing existing ones, channeling resources as necessary to reduce both the incidence and magnitude of poverty.”

They shall develop specific programs and projects that seek to reduce poverty, improve the lives of the most vulnerable sectors of society; promote social education of the people to allow them to participate in effecting real change by keeping watch of the affairs of the government and listen to the peoples’ feedback.

According to the EO, the OP is mandated to manage overall development process and advance national development goals stipulated in the Philippine Development Plan, the President’s Inaugural Address, and the President’s Governance Agenda.

”The administration aims to advance development goals and uplift the quality of life of all Filipinos through a holistic, convergent, and participatory approach to leadership and governance,” the EO stated.

”The Office of the President consists of various agencies that carry out responsibilities pertinent to development and management, general government administration and internal administration,” it added.

The same EO provides that the office and functions of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP), the

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Office of the Appointments Secretary, and the Presidential Management Staff are placed under Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go.

The order also created an Events Management Cluster under the OP “to ensure effective collaboration” among offices involved in preparations for presidential engagements. This includes the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), the Presidential Security Group (PSG), Office of the Chief Presidential Protocol, Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO), and Radio-Television Malacañang.


Twitter easing 140-character limit

Sunday, 29 May 2016 | Written by


Now you can say more with 140 characters. Microblogging service Twitter announced this week that usernames and attachments like photos and videos will no longer count toward the length of a tweet but the 140-character limit will remain.

In a tweet announcing the changes, Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey said, “A few simple changes to make conversations on Twitter easier! And no more removing characters for images or videos!”

Twitter introduced the changes to make the service more simple and effective and to attract more users. In Twitter’s current settings, links/URLs take up to 23 characters of a tweet, limiting the commentary that users can offer when sharing articles or other content.

Explaining more about the changes, Dorsey said “we’re not giving up on the idea of Twitter being in the moment. That concept of brevity, speed and live conversation – being able to think of something and put it out to the world instantly – that’s what’s most important.” He added, “we’re always going to look for opportunities to make Tweets a lot more expressive, and enable people to say what they want to say.”

Twitter chief marketing officer Leslie Berland said Twitter needs to be simpler and more intuitive for newcomers and more creative and engaging for veterans of the service. She said the changes would encourage people to tweet more. “We expect people to tweet more, to have more vibrant conversations,” Berland explained. “We expect people who are new to Twitter to be welcomed to a much more intuitive experience that makes sense for them and is easier for them to understand.”

Over the years, photos, videos, GIFs, polls have been essential to tweets and the update will encourage users to share more multimedia content.

Other changes to the service include the ability to retweet and quote-tweet a person’s own posts.

Here’s the gist of the changes — @username or the handle that people use on Twitter, will no longer count toward the 140-character limit in replies But if you mention a person’s username in a tweet it will count.

Soon, users won’t have to place a period in front of someone’s handle — .@username when you start a tweet with that handle if you want all your followers to see it. But replies to that tweet will still only be seen by people who follow both accounts unless, of course, you retweet that reply. Before, messages that began with @username would only be seen by people who follow both you and the recipient of your message. Now, tweets that begin with @username will be seen in the timeline by everyone who follows you, regardless of if they follow the recipient.

Users can also retweet their own tweets, including old tweets.

The updates will start to roll out in the coming months, Twitter says.


DOSTv to air science and tech updates

Saturday, 28 May 2016 | Written by

DOSTThe Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched its internet-based TV channel, DOSTV that will initially air over the Internet at It can also be accessed at

By initially airing over the internet, DOSTv aims to reach a wider audience in bringing the latest news on science and technology developments in the country.
On its launch broadcast, DOSTv will feature Diwata-1, the first Filipino microsatellite which was launched into orbit last April 27. Viewers will have a look on the vital role of Diwata-1 in forecasting the daily weather in the Philippines. DOSTv will also show the features of Diwata-1, the people behind Diwata’s development, the benefits it will bring to the country, and other interesting details.

DOSTv’s weather updates are important factors in decision making, such as in events planning. In adverse conditions, weather updates are important in disaster preparedness, especially in areas prone to flooding, landslides, and other hazards.

Produced by DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute, DOSTv is the science department’s latest initiative in helping the country to be more prepared for disasters and more aware of S&T developments.

For more updates on DOSTv, please visit this website or follow their Instagram and Twitter.

Jon Santos joins ‘Rak of Aegis’

Friday, 27 May 2016 | Written by

The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) splashes into its 49th Theater Season with a whopping 82 shows of hit comedy musical Rak of Aegis from June 17 to August 28.

Ever since its debut in 2014, Rak of Aegis has consistently amassed awards and recognitions, as well as a massive following of students, theatergoers, and first-timers. With a record-breaking 206 shows, and over 20 citations in technical and artistic categories, Rak has become one of the biggest original Filipino musicals in Philippine theater today.

Now, on its 5th rerun, PETA introduces a host of new talented cast members into the fray, including top comedian Jon Santos.

Known for his biting wit and quick comebacks, stand up comedian, impersonator, and actor Jon Santos has been entertaining crowds for years in variety shows, lounges, and clubs nationwide.

“I’m very grateful for stand-up comedy. I’m very grateful for night club work, lounge work and television but I really miss theater after I graduated from university and iniwan ko yung pag-te-teatro.” he admits. “I felt that the commitment that a play needed was always very hard to give. When the TV life became a little more manageable, saka lang ako nag-play… and that was only five or six years ago!”

In recent years, Jon has performed with several critically-acclaimed theater productions including Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dog-eaters, and Bituing Walang Ningning.Rak of Aegis will be his first production with PETA.

Even as a seasoned entertainer, Jon admits that he is daunted at the challenge of interpreting a well-loved character in such an established production. “I’m juggling the pagka-overwhelmed, and pagka-grateful. Hard, hard work ahead, and I only have about a month to catch up. Fortunately all my alternates are friends, and they are very generous in helping me with the character.” he shares.

Jon Santos alternates with Venizia Veterans Julienne Mendoza, and Gie Onida as Fernan, the developer responsible for the flood in Brgy Venizia. In addition to Jon’s casting, Fernan will also be given a new song.

“I’m looking forward to everything and to all the new friends I’ll make and I’m very thankful that they’re so patient and kind to let me catch up sa script.” Jon shares during PETA’s media launch, “buti na lang sinuportahan ito at umabot ng 206 [shows] at umabot sa five runs at nakasingit ako na maging bahagi nito! Ito na ang nagsimula sa aking 30th year [in entertainment].”

Aside from Jon Santos, PETA introduces exciting new cast members, Tanya Manalang and Alisa Bonaobra (as Aileen), Carla Guevara-Laforteza (as Mary Jane), Joshua Bulot (as Tolits), Vince Lim (as Kenny), Tricia Jimenez and Joann Co (as Mercy).

Also making their comeback this season is theater’s golden couple, Robert and Isay Seña as Kiel and Mary Jane.

Several talented Venizia veterans are back as well, including Benj Manalo, Jerald Napoles, Pepe Herrera, Myke Salomon, Poppert Bernadas, OJ Mariano, Renz Verano, Loy Martinez, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, Sweet Plantado, Kakai Bautista, Neomi Gonzales, Juliene Mendoza, Gilbert Onida, Jimi Marquez, Phi Palmos, Ron Alfonso, Carlon Matobato, Gio Gahol, John Moran, Paeng Sudayan, Roi Calilong, Gimbey Dela Cruz, Abi Sulit, Via Antonio, Gold Villar, Teetin Villanueva, Raflesia Bravo, Jet Barrun, and Gab Pangilinan.

Here comes the rain again

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 | Written by

Floodwaters brought by tropical storm Lando along Marikina riverIt’s official. Summer is over and the rainy days are here again. Weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has announced the onset of the rainy season.

PAGASA earlier said that the rainy season will likely commence “sometime between late May and mid-June but the agency officially declared the start of the rainy season on Tuesday, May 24.

Based on PAGASA’s criteria, indicators of the onset of the rainy season include the prevalence of the southwest monsoon and rainfall of 25 millimeters in at least five out of eight PAGASA stations for five consecutive days.

In a press conference, PAGASA Assistant Weather Services Chief Anthony Lucero said most stations belonging to Climate Type 1 areas, facing the West Philippine Sea and being directly affected by the southwest monsoon or “hanging habagat” have recorded consecutive days with rainfall.

The weather stations in Type 1 climate areas are located in Laoag, Ilocos Norte; Vigan, Ilocos Norte; Dagupan, Pangasinan; Iba, Zambales; Occidental Mindoro; Metro Manila; Ambulong, Batangas; and Iloilo.

Lucero said there is a deep convection bringing heavy rains over the West Philippine Sea which is a clear manifestation that rains associated with the southwest monsoon have already arrived. The PAGASA official also noted that the wind direction has now shifted from east to southwest.

However, PAGASA clarified that the country is still under El Niño episode. “We can still expect dry spell in some areas until the end of July,” said Lucero. El Niño, which started in late 2015, is already in its decaying stage but may have lingering effects that could last until August.

Since last week, rains, winds and thunderstorms were felt in Metro Manila and nearby areas such occurrences usually lasted about one to two hours.

La Nina episode to follow

After El Nino, La Niña conditions or above normal rainfall will prevail, according to PAGASA. During or by the end of August, La Niña is expected to gradually develop but its actual impact will be felt towards the end of the year,” according to PAGASA.

La Niña episode may likely occur during the periods of November-January or December-February. “We expect more rains on the eastern side of the country, which are areas more vulnerable to La Niña,” Lucero said in a report.

These areas are Isabela, Quirino, Quezon, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Masbate, Samar, Leyte, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley.

“Most of these provinces have their peak of rainy season during December and January. Because of the La Niña, it will enhance their rainy condition,” Lucero explained.


Aquino approves measure creating ICT department

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 | Written by
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President Benigno Aquino III has signed into law Republic Act No. 10844, which creates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Senator Ralph Recto is the principal sponsor of Senate Bill 2686 or the DICT Act of 2015.

The new law that recognizes vital role of information and communication in nation-building will ensure the provision of strategic, reliable, cost-efficient and citizen-centric information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, systems and resources as instruments of good governance and global competitiveness. It will also ensure universal access to quality, affordable, reliable and secure ICT services.

The DICT will ensure availability and accessibility of ICT services, promote and assist the development of local ICT content, applications and services, promote the use of ICT for the enhancement of key public services, such as education, public health and safety, revenue generation, and socio-civic purposes.

The new department will also encourage the use of ICT for the development and promotion of arts and culture, tourism and national identity. It will promote digital literacy, ICT expertise, and knowledge-building among citizens and empower disadvantaged segments of the population, including the elderly, persons with disabilities and indigenous and minority groups.

It will also ensure the right to privacy and confidentiality, ensure the security of critical ICT infrastructures including information assets of the government, individuals and businesses; and provide oversight over agencies governing and regulating the ICT sector and ensure consumer protection and welfare, data privacy and security, foster competition and the growth of the ICT sector.

According to a report, local business groups including the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines have clamored for the passage of the measure in recognition of the importance of creating a line department that will focus on ICT development alone.

In a statement, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the DICT shall be headed by a Secretary, who will be assisted by three Undersecretaries and four Assistant Secretaries.

“The new law also provides that two of the three Undersecretaries and two of the four Assistant Secretaries shall be career officers. One of the four Assistant Secretaries shall also be a licensed professional electronics engineer,” he said.

Secretary Coloma said the law also requires that the Secretary, as well as the Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, have “at least seven years of competence and expertise in any of the following: information and communications technology; information technology service management; information security management; cybersecurity, data privacy, e-Commerce, or human capital development in the ICT sector”.

Based on the law, five existing government agencies with ICT functions will be abolished and will be transferred to DICT. They are the Information and Communications Technology Office, National Computer Center, National Computer Institute, Telecommunications Office, National Telecommunications Training Institute and, all operating units of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with functions and responsibilities dealing with communications.

With the creation of the DITC, the DOTC shall be renamed as the Department of Transportation.

The new law provides for a six-month transition period from effectivity for the full implementation of the transfer of functions, assets and personnel.

Existing personnel shall continue to assume posts in holdover capacities until new appointments are issued by the administration of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.


Youth solon urges probe of Close-Up Forever Summer party deaths

Monday, 23 May 2016 | Written by

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon today filed House Resolution No. 2704 urging the House Committees on Dangerous Drugs and Youth and Sports to jointly probe the alleged drug-related deaths in the “Closeup Forever Summer Concert” at the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds, Sunday early morning.

The concert, dubbed by organizers as “the summer’s biggest rave party” was attended by more than 14,000 people.

Based on news reports, those who died were Ariel Leal, 22; Lance Garcia, 36; Ken Migawa, 18; Bianca Fontejon, 18 and U.S. citizen Eric Anthony Miller, 33.

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The victims who were found unconscious at different parts of the concert venue were unrelated and under the influence of alcohol when brought to different hospitals for treatment. “They just collapsed individually. They did not know each other. They were all in different places at the time,” Pasay City police investigator Giovanni Arcinue said in a report. reported that Leal and Garcia were brought to the San Juan de Dios Memorial Hospital while Fontejon and Miller were rushed to the Manila Doctors’ Hospital. They were declared dead on arrival while Migawa died Sunday night while getting treatment at the San Juan de Dios Hospital.

Based on the initial investigation by the Philippine National Police, Fontejon and Garcia died due to massive heart attack.

Closeup, a subsidiary of Unilever Philippines and the organizers regret what had transpired despite the “very stringent measures and precautions we have put in place to ensure the safety and security of all attendees.” Closeup and SM Supermalls said in separate statements that they are already cooperating with investigators.

Alleged drug use

Based on House Resolution No. 2704, Ridon noted that there were information from social media stating that the drinks distributed at the event were laced with “Green Amore,” a lethal mix of ecstasy and shabu.

“There are questions that investigators need to answer: If dangerous drugs were indeed available in the party venue, how were they able to slip in such substances? Are the concessionaires inside the venue involved? Clearly, the ‘stringent security measures’ or ‘precautions’ did not deter the proliferation of said dangerous substances. And surely what had transpired in the concert is not an isolated case,” Ridon said.

The lawmaker emphasized that the proposed House probe aims to aid legislation.

“We need to craft legislation that balances anti-drug policy and public safety. While we do not condone the use of dangerous drugs in any event whatsoever, there are certain finer details that need to be considered in enacting a new law against drug proliferation,” Ridon said in a press conference.

The lawmaker noted that in the United States, there is a federal law that explicitly tackles the proliferation of drugs in rave parties and concerts.

First introduced by then Sen. Joseph Biden as the “Reducing American’s Vulnerability to Ecstasy” (RAVE) Act, it was renamed as the “Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act,” and was passed by the US Congress in 2003.

The said act expanded federal laws to prosecute business owners if they “maintain drug-involved premises.”

“May this congressional probe lead to the crafting of legislation that can effectively curb the proliferation of party drugs, ensure the placement of common sense safety measures in rave events, and enhance the provisions of the current Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly its provisions on anti-drug educational campaigns,” Ridon ended.

Closeup Forever Summer annual music festival event started in 2013 and was dubbed as the biggest social-media powered event similar to Coachella Music and Arts Festival at the Colorado Desert in California.

VCM glitches delay voting process; voting time extended to 6PM in selected precints

Monday, 9 May 2016 | Written by

Poll watchdog Kontradaya said the technical glitches experienced on election day, particularly the malfunctioning of Vote Counting Machines viagra vs cialis vs levitra forum (VCMs) is a result of the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) non-compliance with the provision of Republic Act 9369 Automated Election System Section 11 that requires the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) of the AES to accomplish certification process not later than three months before the date of the election.

Comelec’s TEC certification was obtained only on April 30, 2016, or more is viagra same as cialis than week before election day.

“We have been receiving reports, both from news organizations as well as from our own watchers of malfunctioning VCMs. These malfunctioning VCMs result in the BEI asking the voters to leave with them the filled-up but unread ballots and in some cases – voters being reportedly asked to sign waivers if they choose to leave with them the unread ballots,” said Kontradaya legal counsel Atty. Jonjon Montemayor.

“These practices are contrary to the spirit of a clean, orderly and credible elections,” Montemayor said

“The belated and anomalous certification of the VCMs as to its proper, secure and accurate operation is leading to all sorts of problems that the VCMs are now experiencing, problems which the COMELEC should have foreseen and prepared for adequately,” Kontradaya said.

Instead of providing a

quick and reliable replacement for the malfunctioning VCMs as provided for by the COMELEC’s continuity plan under Resolution 10101, voters are now being asked to leave with the BEI their filled-up but unread ballot. This renders nugatory Sec. 40 cialis4saleonline-rxstore of COMELEC Resolution 10057, as amended by Resolution No. 10088, which grants the voter the opportunity to verify his or her vote through a receipt, a requirement which the Supreme Court unanimously mandated the cialis 5mg daily cost COMELEC to comply with.

This avoidable contingency makes the voting process all the more vulnerable to fraud and tampering. Worse, the inability of the COMELEC to timely provide replacement VCMs can result to the disenfranchisement of voters if the ballots are not read at all or the voters are forced to leave without even casting their vote because of the delays.

Comelec chair Andres Bautista said in a press conference that the poll body received reports of problems, errors and defects with regard to the VCMS from 2,500 polling precints but “some of these problems were immediately fixed.”

The poll body announce the extension of voting time to 6PM in polling precints that opened by 9AM or later due to VCM problems.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said that in 2013, at least 1,300 VCM malfunctioned compared to the 150 VCMs that malfunctioned and were replaced as of 2PM today.

The Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the citizen arm of Comelec, announced that 43% of votes were already transmitted to the central server.



Gov’t assures enough power supply on election day

Sunday, 17 April 2016 | Written by

The government has expressed its determination to ensure adequate and uninterrupted electric power supply, especially during the election period.

“Ang objective ng DOE (Department of Energy) ay talagang zero disruption, one week before and one week after May 9 — ito ang talagang ideal situation na kanilang nilalayong matamo. No power interruption one week before and after, para hindi magkaroon ng anumang pag-antala o ligalig doon sa panahon ng halalan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a media briefing at the Palace on Friday.

He said the Energy Department is monitoring the maintenance of power plants.

“Sa mga scheduled maintenance, tinitiyak na sa pamamagitan nang masinsing koordinasyon, tinitiyak ng DOE na hindi nila gagawin ito sa target period natin na one week before and one week after (election day),” Secretary Coloma said in a statement.

Coloma explained that the tight supply in electricity is due to the combination of the rising heat index and the maintenance of power plants.

“Sa Luzon, ang peak demand ay from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Masyadong mataas kasi ang heat index, tumataas pa ito. Sa Visayas and Mindanao naman, sa gabi ang kanilang peak requirement,” he said.
Power drops, Luzon on red alert

On Friday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has placed the Luzon and Mindanao grids on red alert due to the high power demand brought by higher temperatures and the forced shutdown of some power plants due to lack of energy reserves. Visayas was placed on yellow alert.

Red alert was declared from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Luzon, on Friday, after some hydropower units and state-owned Malaya oil thermal reduced their capacity.

DOE Undersecretary Mylene Capongcol said Malaya reduced power output from 350 megawatts (MW) to 130 MW while three hydropower units — Ambuklao unit three and Kalayaan units three and four — went offline. The capacity of the three hydropower plants was at 395 MW.

The power demand reached 9,746 MW on Friday afternoon while supply only amounted to 9,771 MW, Capongcol said in a report.

Despite this, Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada has assured the public of sufficient power during the May 9 automated elections.

The DOE released a circular creating a Power Task Force Election (PTFE) 2016 to ensure adequate and reliable power supply before, during, and after the elections. The task force will ensure the availability and operation of power plants and electricity market, carrying out strategic preventive maintenance of all power facilities, and providing enough technical manpower for emergency response and security of vital power infrastructures, among others.

In Cebu, Monsada met with power suppliers and other stakeholders, while a team from the department has inspected power plants and coordinated meetings in Luzon and Mindanao.

Monsada said some energy plants in the country were on preventive maintenance to make sure they would be running even two weeks before the elections.

In case the NGCP raises a red alert on election day, Monsada said private firms with their own power generators will follow the Interruptable Load Program (ILP).

Under the ILP, these private firms will use their own generator sets so they won’t have to get power from the grid.

Seven power units of Manila Electric Co. were offline when NGCP declare the red alert — hydro-power Kalayaan units three and four, coal-fired Pagbilao one, oil-fired Malaya one, hydro-power Magat units three and four and hydro-power Botocan two. Coal-fired Calaca unit one and two also reported that it has reduced its capacity.

The high demand of power is attributed to the extreme heat brought about by the summer season and El Niño phenomenon.

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