Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics. Show all posts

Duterte signed “Free Tuition Fee law” for all State Universities and Colleges- ₱100 billion Budget

“Free Tuition Fee law”  in the Philippines
[Free Tertiary Education] Free Tuition fee law in the Philippines

Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law for bottom 20% poor but deserving Filipino students

- Free tuition fee for all state colleges and universities
- Free Library access
- Free  ID
- Free laboratory access

President Duterte has signed into law the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which grants free tuition to all state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country.

This despite the suggestion of a veto by Budget Secretary Ben Diokno as the government cannot afford to shoulder its cost estimated to be around ₱100 billion.

During the Mindanao Hour press briefing Friday morning, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the President signed the bill Thursday night.

“The enrolled bill came to the Office of the President nearly 30 days ago and during that period, there had been a lot of discussions and study about the bill because of its heavy budgetary implication” he explained.

Guevarra said that free tertiary education in SUCs is a very strong pillar or cornerstone of Duterte’s social development policy and that the President was still trying to figure out the best possible solution regarding the bill.

“So we weighed everything and came to the conclusion that the long-term benefits that will be derived from a well-developed tertiary education on the part of the citizenry will definitely outweigh any short-term budgetary challenges,” he said.

The Palace official also said that whether or not economic managers are for the passing of the bill, the more important thing now is to find the budgetary allocation for the program.

“Everyone, including the economic managers, will have to focus their attention on funding for this program because this will have to be implemented soon,” Guevarra said, adding that the SUC law will be implemented on the next school year.

Since the government has already submitted the proposed 2018 national budget to Congress, Guevarra said that certain adjustments can still be made so allocation for the law can be made.

“That is really the principal responsibility of Congress when they deliberate on the budget. Right now, I have nothing very specific to say about which projects or which programs or which agency’s proposed budget might be affected,” he said.

“If Congress is really serious in finding the appropriate funding for this free tuition program, they will have to find the necessary sources for this particular program,” he added.

Guevarra also addressed the estimate of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that ₱ 100 billion would be needed to implement the SUC law.

“The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) thinks otherwise. The ₱ 100-billion estimate of the DBM seems to be on the very high side because that is on the basis on the assumption that all aspects of the free tuition bill will be implemented all at the same time,” he said.

The CHED estimated that ₱ 34.1 billion would be needed for the implementation of the law.

According to Guevarra, the government would only have to spend on the mandatory provisions of the bill which includes tuition and miscellaneous fees which would need around ₱ 16 billion.

Education System in the Philippines
Diagram of educational system in the Philippines - wes.org

The related educational expenses like books and boarding would be shouldered for “deserving 20 percent” by the CHED’s Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) program.

“As far as I know those are the only mandatory provisions of the bill for now – the free tuition and other fees. Other fees would refer to something like library fees, ID fees, laboratory fees, and stuff like that,” Guevarra explained.

“Now as to the subsidy for related educational expenses, that is something to be processed by the UniFAST board which is supposed to have a system of priority,” he said, adding that the fund and system under the UniFAST are yet to be established.

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Grade scaling for the educational system in the Philippines vs USA Education System - wes.org

“In other words, ‘yung mga talagang nangangailangan, the bottom 20 percent, will be prioritized in terms of subsidy for educational-related expenses,” he added.

The UniFAST rationalizes the allocation, utilization and client-targeting of government resources and improves access to quality higher and technical education for those who need it.

It also serves as the ultimate national human resource development mechanism and strategy that will direct beneficiaries to priority courses needed for economic growth and development. - By Argyll Cyrus Geducos from Manila Bulletin

Global Research Pointed: USA, Loida Lewis and Liberal party behind the ISIS attack in the Philippines

 Global Research Pointed: USA, Loida Lewis and Liberal party behind the ISIS attack in the Philippines
GlobalReaseach.ca pointed out who are behind the Islamist terrorist attack in Marawi City in Southern Philippines

In the article written by Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago, USA, he pointed that Washington, Loida Lewis and the Liberal Opposition party in the Philippines are behind the IS attack in Marawi a step to oust Duterte

Why is ISIS Operating in the Philippines?

In response to violence allegedly instigated by ISIS in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, imposed military rule, and threatened to extend it nationwide to defeat the threat.

What’s going on? Why did ISIS begin operating in the Philippines? Weeks after taking office in mid-2016, Duterte blasted Western imperial Middle East policies, saying the Obama administration and Britain “destroyed the (region)…forc(ing) their way into Iraq and kill(ing) Saddam.”

“Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria.”

He blasted former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for failing to act responsibly against what’s gone on for years – on the phony pretext of humanitarian intervention and democracy building.

He called Obama a “son-of-a-bitch” for his unaccountable actions – no way to make friends in Washington, especially if his geopolitical agenda conflicts with US aims.

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meeting with Russian President Putin
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meeting with Russian President Putin. Duterte cuts short trip to Russia after declaring martial law in southern Philippines due to Islamist terrorism attack in Marawi City. Photo: Japanese Times

On the day he declared martial law, he met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow for discussions on future military and economic cooperation.

He seeks improved economic and military ties with China. Ahead of visiting Beijing last October, he said

“only China…can help us,” adding:

“All that I would need to do is just to talk and get a firm handshake from the officials and say that we are Filipinos and we are ready to cooperate with you, to help us in building our economy and building our country.”

“If we can have the things you have given to other countries by the way of assistance, we’d also like to be a part of it and to be a part of the greater plans of China about the whole of Asia, particularly Southeast Asia.”

He promised to cool tensions over South China Sea disputes.

“There is no sense fighting over a body of water,” he said.

“We want to talk about friendship (with Beijing). We want to talk about cooperation, and most of all, we want to talk about business. War would lead us to nowhere.”

He announced no further joint military exercises with America, saying he’s open to holding them with China and Russia.

Shifting away from longstanding US ties doesn’t go down well in Washington. Are efforts by ISIS to establish a Philippines foothold part of an anti-Duterte Trump administration or CIA plot independent of his authority?

Null
Philippine President Rodeigo Roa Duterte meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping cooling down the tension in South China Sea and promised cooperation, progress, peace and stability of the Asian Region.

According to a June 2 Duran.com report, retired Philippine military official Abe Purugganan claims ISIS violence in Mindanao is part of an opposition Liberal Party plan to undermine Duterte and oust him from office – citing information from a party whistleblower.

Below are the comments The Duran posted, saying:

“There is a lot of noises and chatters flooding the cyberspace, you got to use your discernment to filter all these information.”

“LETS PLAY FIRE WITH FIRE,” explaining “(t)hese are the exact words stated by Loida Lewis and her fellow oligarchs on a meeting months ago with Liberal Party members abroad,” adding:

Their plan is to use ISIS or ISIS-connected terrorists to instigate violence and chaos in Mindanao, wanting Duterte’s government destabilized and ousted.

If the information reported is accurate, it explains what’s now going on, likely to worsen, perhaps spread to other parts of the country.

Last week, Duterte said

“if I cannot confront (ISIS terrorists threatening the country), I will resign. “If I am incompetent and incapable of keeping order in this country, let me step down and give the job to somebody else.”

If US dirty hands are behind the ISIS insurgency, he’s got a long struggle ahead, trying to overcome the attack on him and perhaps Philippine sovereignty.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2017

Philippines Rejects EU $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant

Philippines rejected EUROPEAN UNION $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant
Philippines rejected EUROPEAN UNION $278 Million USD Remote Control Fund Loan Grant for 2017

Philippines Rejects European grants

The Philippines will no longer accept grants from the European Union, the EU delegation to Manila said Thursday, following repeated tirades from President Rodrigo Duterte over its criticism of his deadly drug war.

"The Philippine government has informed us that they (will) no longer accept new EU grants," the delegation said in a brief statement.

The decision will affect grants worth 250 million euros ($278 million), according to Franz Jessen, the EU's ambassador to Manila.

Philippine government officials did not immediately comment, with the finance department saying a statement would be issued later on Thursday.

Duterte, 72, has repeatedly criticised European lawmakers and the EU for condemning his drug war, which has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings from critics of a crime against humanity.

In comments last year, he used vulgar language and raised his middle finger in a response to a European parliament statement expressing concern over the killings.

The German government also expressed concern after Duterte last year drew parallels between his drug war and Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler's Holocaust.

"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said, underestimating the number of people killed in the Holocaust.

Duterte later apologised for the Hitler reference but said he was "emphatic" about wanting to kill addicts.

Duterte easily won presidential elections last year after promising to end crime by killing tens of thousands of drug traffickers and addicts.

Police have reported killing about 2,700 people since Duterte took office at the end of June and immediately launched his war on drugs.

Unknown assailants have killed more than 1,800 others, while about 5,700 other violent deaths are under investigation, according to police data.

Partly in response to American criticism of the drug war, Duterte has also loosened the Philippines' ties with traditional ally the United States.

He has instead embraced China, which has supported his drug war and sought to deepen economic ties by providing billions of dollars worth of investments and aid to the Philippines.

Duterte, a self-described socialist, has also forged warmer relations with Russia, and will travel to Moscow next week to meet President Vladimir Putin.

Read more at Sources: AP & SBS  

Philippines Making Great Progresses in Health Care for 92% Insurance- WHO

Philippine Health Insurance

Philippine Health Insurance coverage through PhilHealth riseup  to 92% to all Filipinos in 2017

PHILIPPINE HEALTH INSURANCE

The Philippines is chalking up improvements in the health-care sector, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, while pointing out that challenges remain for the country.

Dr Shin Young-soo, Regional Director for the Western Pacific of WHO, said statistics indicate that Filipinos now are living longer lives than before and this is largely due to collaborative efforts of the government, development partners and stakeholders.

“The Philippines has so many health achievements to celebrate: people born today can expect to live for more than 70 years. Innovative taxation schemes have pushed back unhealthy behaviors and tripled the health budget. More than 92 per cent of all Filipinos now benefit from national health insurance,” Dr Shin said.

Health care in the country has grown by leaps and bounds with more people getting access to medical maintenance services. In 1995, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was established. Its mandate is to provide health insurance coverage to all Filipinos.

As of 2014, 14.7 million families have been enrolled into the system through a full National Government subsidy.

But while the Philippines is making improvements in providing health-care coverage to more Filipinos, challenges remain for the country.

“The Philippines is a fast-growing economy undergoing profound societal transformation. However, with growth and changing lifestyles come challenges of non-communicable diseases,” Dr Shin said,

Health conditions linked to poverty remain. Some 30 per cent of Filipino children are malnourished and around 30 per cent of the population lack regular access to essential medicines.

“While health insurance coverage is high, out-of-pocket payments remain high, accounting for more than half of the country’s total health expenditure,” she said.

Dr Shin said the challenge for the country is how to sustain current achievements in health care will be the “heart of WHO’s work in the country in the next five years.”

WHO and the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) launched the Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS), a mechanism which defines WHO’s strategic framework and aligns it with national health policies and programs.

The focus of the WHO CCS 2017—2022 are five unique strategic priorities that include saving lives by ensuring full access to life-saving interventions, promoting the well-being of people by empowering them to lead healthy lives, protection from disasters and mitigating its effects on peoples’ health, optimization of health architecture and maintaining its integrity and use of platforms for health and support health in all settings, policies and sectors.

“In the coming six years, we look forward to continuing to work together as partners in health [care] for the more than 100 million people of the Philippines and the 1.9 billion people of the Western Pacific Region,” Shin concluded.

UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Speeh Makes her Incompetent for Concluding Philippines War on Drug based on hearsay

UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard Acting as Big Bully in the Philippines

Callamard acting as local Opposition Political Party leader in the Philippines

United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s early Friday Wikipedia information described her as highly paid consultant of the Philippines' opposition “Liberal Party” as she concluded her speeches without proper investigation but just taken the reports that were provided most from the liberal party groups who opposes the war on drugs in the Philippines.

Invited by the government to investigate the issue on EJK last September 2016 but refused to come and instead make a surprise visit to the Philippines to utter her conclusion against the Philippines War on Drugs without conducting a ground investigation to confirm the allegations.

Callarmard surprise visit to the Philippines is acting like a leader of the local political party to destroy the image of Duterte based on hearsays.

Malacanang on Calamard Surprise Visit

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard is now in no position to launch an independent study on the spate of drug-related killings in the country after she talked against the war on drugs at a forum in Quezon City, a Malacañang official said on Friday.

Chief presidential legal counsel Sec. Salvador Panelo told reporters Friday that Callamard already made a conclusion based on news reports, some videos, opinions of critics, and hearsays.

“First, how did she know that that’s the way the drug operations are being conducted? What’s the basis?” Panelo said.

“She just cannot come here and read newspaper reports and hear the talks of some critics and watch some videos and make a conclusion that there is something wrong the way this government is doing its job,” he added.

Panelo said that how Callamard arrived at her conclusion was more important than the circumstances of her visit in the Philippines—whether it was on her own or through an invitation.

“What I’m questioning is the basis of her conclusion, which is based on hearsay and some reports coming from whoever and from wherever. It’s not an independent study. It’s not an objective study. It’s just a conclusion on the basis of things that she heard,” Panelo said.

But Panelo indicated that the Philippine government’s invitation to Callamard was already pointless when she already made her mind on the war on drugs.

“Alangan naman pilitin siya kung ayaw niya eh. Not only that, you know, the fact alone that she already made conclusions, I don’t think she would be competent enough or objective enough to undertake any study. She already made a conclusion, on the basis of hearsay and reports and whatever,” Panelo said.

“She was saying she read reports, she saw some videos, and on the basis of that, she made a conclusion that the operation against the drug menace in this country is wrong. How can she make that kind of conclusion when she only read the reports of some people and saw some videos?" he added.

"She has to make an independent probe or investigation on what’s happening in this country. This is precisely why the President invited her to come over. But she never responded to that," Panelo said.

While Callamard earlier said that the terms the Philippine government presented for her visit were against their Code of Conduct, Panelo said it was only fair that President Rodrigo Duterte would be able to question her conclusion.

"What the President just wanted to say after the investigation is, ‘Tell us, what’s the basis of your investigation?’ What’s wrong with asking someone making an investigation, ‘This is our conclusion.’ Then the President, ‘How did you make that conclusion? Who are the people you asked? How did you come about?’" Panelo said.

"I don’t think that’s unfair. That’s a very fair response from someone who has been investigated," he added.

International Court of Justice (ICC) whom claimed to have the authority for extrajudicial killings cases around the world has been labeled as International Caucasian Justice by the African nations for its failure to file cases on Western and European countries that committed thousands extrajudicial killings while acting as superior in issuing verdicts to the African countries as mass murderer in a form of bullying  the small and poor countries.

Several African nations have left and vacated their seats at the United Nations for distrust and integrity issues of the UN for its unfair and selective justice in issuing verdicts.

88 Meters Korean Anti-Submarine Warship Offered to the Philippines for ₱5,000 Pesos Each a real deal?

Korean Pohang-Class Anti-Submarine Warship “Chungju PCC-762” Offered to Philippine Navy
Korean Pohang-Class Anti-Submarine Warship “Chungju PCC-762” Offered to Philippine Navy for $100 USD

88 Meters Korean Anti-Submarine Warship Cheaper than a Smart Phone: Philippines to buy three for ₱5,000 Pesos Each a real deal?

Korean Pohang-Class Anti-Submarine “Chungju PCC-762” which launched on 30th June 1984, commissioned on 1987 and was decommissioned on 27th December 2016 after 29 years of service in protecting Korean waters has been offered to the Philippine Navy by the Korean Government.

South Korea will transfer an ageing Pohang-class anti-submarine warship to the Philippines this year in return for just $US100 (₱ 5,000.00), boosting its capability to patrol vast maritime borders.
The 88.3 meters corvette type warship has a 1,200 tones displacement, speed of 32 knots (59 km/h), and capacity of 95 crews.

It could be fitted with armaments such as 2 x MM-38 Exocet, 1 OTO melara 76 mm/62 compact cannon, 2 x Emerlec 30 mm cannons, 4 x harpoon missiles, 2 x Nobong 40mm/70 twin cannons, 3 x Mark 32 triple torpedo tubes with 6 chung sang Eoes and 12 x mark 9 depth charges.

South Korea, next to USA for being the largest source of Philippine military hardware, from fighter jets, and patrol ships to armored vehicles and army trucks.

USA has provided almost the same armament to the Philippines in 2013 but unlike the Pohang Anti-submarine warship which cost the Philippines only $100 USD, the Hamilton Class cutters from the USA cost the Philippine government a hefty $10 Million US Dollars.

Philippines received ten FA-50 light fighters from Seoul and two more will be delivered next month to complete the 12 aircraft, 18 billion peso deal.

The Philippines has expressed interest to acquire six more similar planes.

"We are hoping to receive the vessel within the year," defense spokesman Arsenio Andolong said of the warship.

"The transfer will be in the form of a donation. We will pay a token $US100, but the corvette will still undergo refurbishment."

He said he has no idea how much the Philippines would need to spend to repair and restore the warship.

Andolong said the Philippines may acquire up to three such warships, which Seoul is replacing with newer and faster vessels.

"This may be an old ship but it will definitely enhance our capability to patrol our waters and perform counter-terrorism measures," he added.

South Korea has donated a lot of military hardware to the Philippines and has expressed gratitude for Manila's role in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Russia Warship in the Philippines for Joint Exercise; Draft for Defense Agreement for Duterte Visit may 25

Dream Meaning OF WEARING BLUE OR PURPLE
Naval Group of Russia's Pacific Fleet Makes Port Call in Philippines' Manila for 4 days- First Joint Excercise

Philippines – Russia First Joint Exercise

Russian Warship arrived in the Philippines on Thursday for joint exercises as part of a drive for new security ties under President Rodrigo Duterte's revamped foreign policy of courting the traditional foes of Manila's top ally, Washington.

The guided-missile cruiser Varyag, accompanied by the fuel tanker ship, Pechenge, are on a four-day goodwill visit to the Philippines, the second port call by Russian warships in three months.

The move is part of what Duterte describes as a pursuit of a constitutionally mandated "independent foreign policy". He has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and has made befriending Russia and China the priority of his diversification drive.

Captain Lued Lincuna, director of the Philippine navy's public affairs, said the Philippines hoped to learn from the Russians during training activities and a demonstration of advanced equipment and weapons systems.

The schedule includes training and sports activities with the flagship vessel of the Russian Pacific fleet, plus a Russian concert in a park.

Video: Naval Group of Russia's Pacific Fleet Makes Port Call in Philippines' Manila for 4 days- First Joint Excercise

Philippines – Russia Defense Agreement

Russian commander Captain Alexsei Ulyanenko said the port call would make a "significant contribution" to strengthening relations and maintaining stability in the region.

Moscow wants to help Manila combat extremism and piracy, stepping up cooperation and training in areas where the Philippines has traditionally worked closely with its former colonial master the United States.

The relationship is expected to develop further next month when Duterte and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin witness the signing of defense agreements in Moscow.

When Duterte met Putin for the first time last year, the Philippine leader spoke at length about what he called U.S. "hypocrisy".

Duterte has instructed his defense minister to look into how the Philippines could acquire modern military equipment from Russia, like drones, night-vision gear, sniper rifles, and even helicopters.

Duterte to visit Russia on May 25

President Rodrigo Duterte will be visiting Russia on May 25.

During his speech at the induction of newly elected officers of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., Duterte said Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command chief Army Major General Oscar Lactao will be joining him.

"So I'm going there with Lactao, May 25," Duterte said. "[Sabi ko sa kanya,] Maganda rin ang mga Russian. Iyon lang man ang puntahan mo. Usap kami ni Putin."

[Translation: I told Lactao, "Russians are also beautiful. At least go with me for that." Putin and I will talk.]

He also reiterated Russia's commitment to helping the Philippines.

"Sabi pa ng Russia [said], "We will have everything you need, just come here,"" he added.

Improved Philippine-Russian relations

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev told CNN Philippines' "The Source" in January that Duterte's visit to Russia is a "milestone" in the ties between the two nations.

"Both the Russian and Philippine side, we need to prepare substantial and solid package of bilateral agreements on cooperation in different fields, and we are now taking necessary efforts," Khovaev said.

He also said Russian companies are willing to explore Philippine markets. He urged Philippine companies to reciprocate and explore the Russian market as well.

"We are ready to cooperate in industries of transport, energy… including the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, telecommunications, agriculture, and many other fields. Both sides have a lot to offer," Khovaev said.

Economic, military agreements in the works

Economic ties between Manila and Moscow are at their infancy.

Russia has not had any foreign direct investment in the Philippines since 1999, central bank data showed.

Russia accounted for $43 million (around ₱2.17 billion) in overseas remittances last year, but it was only 0.2 percent of the total $26.9 billion (around ₱1.35 trillion) sent home by Filipinos from all over the world.

In addition, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Russia committed to importing up to $2.5 billion (around ₱126 billion) worth of Philippine fruits, grains and vegetables in 2017.

Imports by Russia from the Philippines stand at $46 million (around ₱2.32 billion), according to government trade statistics.

Beyond economic links, the Philippines is also eyeing military cooperation with Russia. Defense officials have said they were looking into possible joint exercises and weapons deals with the Kremlin.

Building trust

In addition, Khovaev said he is optimistic that Filipinos would trust Russia more as the two countries build bridges.

"It's time for Filipinos to discover Russia, and vice-versa… and I have a strong belief, we'll trust each other." he said.

In a non-commissioned survey released by Pulse Asia on January 12, 38 percent of Filipinos trust Russia, while 58 percent do not.

These figures are far behind that of the United States, which has a 76 percent trust rating.

"It's a good result if we take into account so many decades of Hollywood-style Russian propaganda in your country," he said, in apparent reference to prevailing perceptions of Russia as "communist" when it was formerly known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Philippines has long been known as an ally of the U.S., even after it was colonized by the superpower from 1898 to 1946..With reports from Channel News Asia and CNN Philippines

Duterte early lead in “TIME: No. 1 Most Influential Person in the Universe” VOTE NOW! For his Crown

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte takes early lead in TIME 100 pol Most inflential person in the universe
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte takes early lead in TIME 100 poll.

The TIME 100— annual list of the most influential people in the world—features a number of leading artists, politicians, lawmakers, scientists and leaders of tech and business. Although TIME's editors will choose the final list of honorees, we want readers to share their choices with us as well.

Did football player Colin Kaepernick or Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins strike you as most influential this year? What about the Women's March co-chairs, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland? Or perhaps Steve Bannon or Kellyanne Conway, close advisers to President Donald Trump?

How about the Philippine' most popular President and  illegal drugs buster Hero "Rodrigo Roa Duterte"? will you cast your vote for him?

Cast your vote below. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on April 16, 2017, and the winner of the reader poll will be announced immediately after. This year's official TIME 100 list will be announced April 20.

VOTE HERE!

If you want Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to be crowned as Time 2017 most influential person in the Universe then give him an unrivalled VOTE just him alone. But if you want others to compete his crown then vote the others as well as his challenger. To vote click “YES” for approval and “NO” for disapproval or if you don’t like the candidate to be crowned as most influential person. Click START POOL


Your vote counts! just vote accroding to what your heart's says.

See Who Is Winning the 2017 TIME 100 Poll here 

Former U.N. General Assembly Hits Leni Robredo “IMPEACHABLE ACT”: Betraying Public Trust & Economic Sabotage

U.N. General Assembly Hits Leni Robredo “IMPEACHABLE ACT”
A former delegate to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has assailed Vice President Leni Robredo for “misrepresenting” millions of Filipinos when she addressed the 60th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs via a video message that highlights alleged rights abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs. (Photo: Asian Journal )

Former UNGA delegate hits VP Robredo for ‘misrepresenting’ Filipinos


A former delegate to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has assailed Vice President Leni Robredo for “misrepresenting” millions of Filipinos when she addressed the 60th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs via a video message that highlights alleged rights abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs.

“I am making this urgent appeal on behalf of each and every Filipino grossly misrepresented by our Vice President in the said video message, in reporting to the world what she failed to report to Philippine authorities,” said Michael Francis Acebedo Lopez, a Filipino and a former delegate to the UNGA.

Lopez noted that Vice President Robredo, whose own mandate has been called into question, with the country’s highest electoral tribunal considering the election protest against her win to be sufficient in both form and substance, “wantonly painted an impossibly grim image of the Philippine situation if only to attract international attention and action with unfounded claims and unsubstantiated allegations”.

Assuming there are actual reports received by the Office of the Vice President, Lopez said Robredo “has not only embarrassed our country, she has betrayed the public trust and committed economic sabotage, both punishable under Philippine laws”.

In the video, Robredo references the more than 7,000 people killed since the drug war began on July 1, 2016. The death toll has reportedly increased to 8,000.

“Our people have fought long for our rights and freedoms. We are not about to back down now,” she said.

Robredo also details in her video message other supposed human rights abuses occurring under the present administration — people beaten for requesting search warrants, and police detaining relatives in lieu of absconded drug suspects.

She also questions inconsistent figures on drug addiction reported by President Duterte.

Rather than a problem to be solved with bullets, Robredo said drug abuse “must be regarded as it truly is — a complex public health issue linked intimately with poverty and social inequality”.

In reporting to the world what the Vice President failed to report to Philippine authorities, Lopez said she “has not only embarrassed our country, she has betrayed the public trust and committed economic sabotage, both punishable under Philippine laws”.

“For her to say that ‘our people feel both hopeless and helpless’ is a brazen lie,” he said. “Confidence in the presidency is at an all-time high (while the same cannot be said of the vice president whose approval ratings continue to plummet). As a people, we feel hopeful and empowered like we’ve never felt before.”

“When the Vice President says 7,000 people have been killed in the President’s war on drugs, she fails to mention that this is set against the backdrop of around 700,000 to one million successful arrests and surrenders. So the figure she presents to you is not even 1 percent. And surely with the sheer number of those involved in the illicit drug trade, some police operations see suspects resisting arrest and fighting back and the police having to defend themselves resulting in casualties,” he noted.

“Every war has casualties. It is not a perfect war and I’m certain there have been abuses along the way, and these need to be looked into and those responsible must be brought to justice. But exaggerating things does not help at all.”

In responding to the call of the Vice President, Lopez said the international community “must tread carefully, lest it encroaches on our very sovereignty and our right to self-determination. And as a sovereign state, we have determined to wage an internal war (not a war against another nation) against the evils of drugs, a direction affirmed by our democratic processes when President Duterte, who included the war on drugs as one of his main programs of action, received an overwhelming mandate during the May 2016 Presidential Election. In short, the war on drugs, by extension, has the people’s mandate.”

“Any effort to disturb our democracy and sovereignty as a response to the Vice President’s irresponsible and unfounded claims will subvert the will of the Filipino people and violate our Human Right of Suffrage enshrined in both the Philippine Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 21 of the international covenant),” he stressed.

Lopez reiterated his appeal to members of the UN Body “to disregard the Philippine Vice President’s statement which is, I reiterate, a grave misrepresentation of the prevailing sentiments of our people and a gross perversion of the facts surrounding the war on drugs”.

“To my fellow Filipinos, let us remain vigilant in the face of threats to our democracy by the very people who claim to defend it,” he added. - By Lilybeth G. Ison of  Philippine Canadian Inquirer

Malaysian Eyes to Construct 23 Buildings: $2.4 Billion USD For New Federal Government Capital Offices in Clark

Putrajaya Luxury Residence
Putrajaya Luxury Residence. Photo:worldarchitecturenews.com

AlloyMtd eyes RM11bil Philippine ‘Putrajaya’ job

AlloyMtd Group has submitted a bid to build a new administrative centre for the Philippines Government at an estimated project development cost of $2.4 Billion US Dollars.

Located in the city of Clark, approximately 96 kilometres from Manila, the proposed 1,000-hectare Clark Administrative City project will house the executive, legislative and judicial bodies of the Philippines federal government.

It replicates Malaysia’s Putrajaya and will serve as the centralised site for the national government.
Under AlloyMtd’s proposal, the project will consist of 23 buildings encompassing some 273,000 square meters. The estimated project cost will be around US$2.4bil (RM10.62bil).

Speaking to reporters during the inauguration of the Palayan City Government Centre and Central Business Hub in Nueva Ecija province, AlloyMtd president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Azmil Khalid (pic) said the proposal represented a gigantic leap for the company, which has had a substantial presence in the Philippines over the past 11 years.

“We have had success in creating ‘mini Putrajayas’ in the country, or new centralised administrative and business centres to spur growth. But with a project of this magnitude, we can build a ‘real Putrajaya’ for the Philippines government,” he said.

The proposal to relocate and centralise the country’s Government entities has been mooted for a long time.

The consolidation of national Government offices away from the congested Metro Manila city centre will enhance efficiency, while at the same time the new location would also become a new centre of operations in times of natural disasters.

The project would be overseen by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), a Government agency created to manage the conversion of former military bases into income-generating facilities.

AlloyMtd was invited by the BCDA to submit the proposal for the development of the project. A presentation of the master development plan was made to the BCDA chairman and board executives on Feb 2.

Azmil added that funding for the project would likely come from a sukuk issuance in Malaysia.
“We are seeking the backing of the Philippines Government in regards to the sukuk so the terms are more favourable for investors,” he said.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who was the guest of honour at the Palayan City project inauguration, lauded the proposal as it is wholly supportive of the Malaysian Government’s intention to boost economic and business relationships with its Filipino counterparts.

AlloyMtd has a track record in creating centralised business and administrative centres for local Governments in the country. Its projects include the Calabarzon Regional Government Centre and the ongoing Palayan City project, as well as the Bataan Government Centre.

The Malaysian conglomerate, which has a presence in 16 countries, has an entrenched presence in the Philippines in the infrastructure, institutional facilities and property development segments.

Building on the success of its RM1bil South Luzon Expressway project, the company is preparing for another major undertaking, as it had submitted an unsolicited bid for the Manila Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line 8 project last month.

The project, which was submitted by a consortium comprising AlloyMtd and East-West Rail Corp, spans about nine kilometres of elevated and depressed guideways with 11 stations along the route.
It runs from Quezon City to Lerma St. in Manila and the estimated project cost for the venture is around US$1bil (RM4.4bil).

The proposal is currently under review by the Philippines Department of Transportation and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The MRT project is also the first project proposal from the private sector that was resubmitted to NEDA under the new Duterte administration, Azmil confirmed. - The Star Online

Duterte Approved ₱200 Billion National Broadband for “Faster Internet Philippines”

₱200 Billion National Broadband for “Fast Internet Philippines
President Duterte Approved the ₱200 Billion National Broadband for “Fast Internet Philippines”. illustration photo: Techblade.ph 

Cabinet secretary: Duterte approves national broadband program


President Rodrigo Duterte gave the go signal for a national broadband program, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol announced.

The approval came during latest Cabinet meeting, after Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima gave his presentation.

"President Rody Duterte has approved the establishment of a National Government Portal and a National Broadband Plan during the 13th Cabinet Meeting in Malacañang today," Piñol shared on Facebook during the meeting.

Average Internet Speed of the Philippines slightly rise from 1.4Mbps in Q1 2013 to 3.5Mbps in Q1 2016
Average Internet Speed of the Philippines slightly rise from 1.4Mbps in Q1 2013 to 3.5Mbps in Q1 2016. Illustration Photo: Inquirer.net

Piñol quoted Duterte as saying he would like DICT "to develop a national broadband plan to accelerate the deployment of fiber optics cables and wireless technologies to improve internet speed."

Salalima promised last year that 2017 would mark faster Internet for social media-loving Filipinos.

In November, DICT proposed setting up a national broadband network that would primarily cater to rural areas. The project, which could cost as much as P200 billion, was estimated to take three years to complete.

Gov't wants to build ₱200-B national broadband network

It is still unclear if this is the exact plan that Duterte approved.

The Philippines marked one of the lowest Internet speeds in a State of the Internet Report released last year by U.S.-based content delivery network Akamai Technologies Inc.

Top 12 World's fastest Internet, South Korea rank no. 1. Top 12 World's fastest Internet, South Korea rank no. 1. Illustration Photo: businessinsider.com

In the third quarter of 2016, it had an average connection speed of 4.2 Mbps, ranking at 103rd globally. South Korea, which was recorded to have the fastest Internet speed worldwide, averaged 26.3 Mbps. - CNN

President Duterte got 91% HIGHEST TRUST RATING in Country Leader's history - 8% Undecided

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RECORD-HIGH TRUST RATING. President Rodrigo Duterte is trusted by nearly all Filipinos as he begins his term. Photo by King Rodriguez/PPD

Duterte enjoys record-high 91% trust rating – Pulse Asia

MANILA, Philippines: Nearly all Filipinos trust President Rodrigo Duterte as he embarked on his term, according to the results of a Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated survey released on Wednesday, July 20.

The results of the nationwide survey conducted among 1,200 Filipinos from July 2 to 8, showed that 91% of Filipinos trust Duterte, while less than half a percent distrust him, and 8% are undecided on whether or not to trust him.

“President Rodrigo R. Duterte begins his stint as the country’s 16th president with an overwhelming majority of his constituents expressing trust in him (91%) and practically no one distrusting him (0.2%). The rest of Filipinos (8%) cannot say if they trust or distrust President Duterte,” Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said.

Former president Benigno Aquino III used to hold the record of the highest level of public trust in the Pulse Asia trust survey first conducted in 1999. In a survey held during a similar period in Aquino's term – July 1 to 11, 2010 – Aquino had a trust rating of 85%.

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Data from Pulse Asia Research, Inc

Among geographical locations, Duterte earned the highest trust rating in his bailiwick, Mindanao (97%). Among socioeconomic classes, trust for Duterte is highest among Class D and the poorest Class D, both at 92%.

In a statement, Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Duterte’s 91%-trust rating during his first week in office “is a humbling reminder that the genuine and meaningful change that our people aspire for is now being felt.”

“This expression of confidence, therefore, shall serve as an inspiration to the Duterte administration to continuously make a real difference and make our people’s lives better, safer, and healthier,” Andanar said.

A Pulse Asia survey conducted in early July also shows that a 'sizeable majority' of Filipinos trust Vice President Leni Robredo

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SIZEABLE MAJORITY TRUST. Vice President Leni Robredo enjoys a 62% trust rating in the July 2016 Pulse Asia survey. RAPPLER.com

The survey results also showed that 62% of Filipinos – a “sizeable majority,” according to Holmes – trust the Vice President, while 11% distrust her, and 27% are undecided on whether or not to trust her.

“Most Filipinos – regardless of geographic location and socioeconomic status – say they trust Vice-President Robredo (58% to 72% and 53% to 64%, respectively),” Holmes said.

Among geographical areas, Robredo got her highest trust rating from the Visayas (72%), and among socioeconomic classes, from Class D (64%). Indecision on whether to trust the Vice President is highest in Mindanao (32%) and among the well-off class ABC (35%).

Robredo thanked her countrymen for the overwhelming "vote of confidence."

"We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our fellow Filipinos. From 1% in the pre-election surveys to 35.1% – and now, a trust rating of 62%," she said in a statement.

The survey showed that the primary sentiment toward the Chief Justice is one of indecision, as 42% of Filipinos are undecided on whether or not to trust her. But there are more Filipinos who trust Sereno than distrust her (35% vs 19%).

“Big plurality indecision figures are posted by the Supreme Court Chief Justice in the Visayas (43%) and Class E (46%). On the other hand, the latter receives practically the same trust and indecision ratings in Metro Manila (40% versus 37%), the rest of Luzon (36% versus 46%), Mindanao (38% versus 36%), Class ABC (37% versus 50%), and Class D (38% versus 39%),” Holmes said.

During and immediately before the survey period, among the major news were the oath-taking of Duterte and Robredo, Cabinet appointments including Robredo as housing chief, cases filed against Aquino in connection with the Disbursement Acceleration Program and the Mamasapano clash, and the spate of drug-related killings in the country and calls to probe these.

Around this time, Duterte also expressed his willingness to have bilateral talks and joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Holmes said.

The nationwide survey has a ± 3% error margin at the 95% confidence level; subnational estimates for each of the geographic areas covered in the survey (i.e., Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) have a ± 6% error margin, also at 95% confidence level.

The July survey also polled the respondents on their expectations of the new administration. (READ: Inflation, jobs edge out crime as Filipinos' top worries – poll) – Rappler.com

Armed Forces united & published a manifesto AGAINST BBL Bangsamoro - Shocks President Aquino!

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Aquino ‘surprised’ by Bangsamoro manifesto

SEVERAL GROUPS of retired military and police servicemen, a number of retired chiefs-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and one retired chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) called for the junking of the peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in a published “manifesto” that President Benigno S. C. Aquino III said took him by surprise.

In a “Manifesto of Retired Officers” published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday, the groups urged the Supreme Court to declare as null and void the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying these agreements violate the Philippine Constitution.

The 13 groups which signed the call include the following:

* Association of General and Flag Officers

* National ROTC Alumni Association

* Kampilan Peacekeepers Association

* Fraternal Organization of ROTC Reservists and Veterans

* Filipino War Veterans Foundation

* Philippine National Police Retirees Association

* Veteran Generals and Flag Officers Federation

* Cavliers 57

* Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association

* Kapisanan ng Kawal Mindanao

* Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache Association

* Last Watering Hole

* Reform the Armed Forces Movement Foundation

Retired PNP chief Umberto A. Rodriguez also signed the manifesto, together with retired AFP chiefs Efren I. Abu, Dionisio R. Santiago, Generoso S. Sengu and Alexander B. Yano.

Political analyst Ramon C. Casiple said that in the military and police service, retired officials tend to have an influence on their junior officers given the culture and nature of these organizations.

“Within the military and police circles, they are influential in a sense that the active leaders now used to be their junior officers,” Mr. Casiple said in a phone interview Monday afternoon.

“I’m not saying that they can actually command their junior officers but we can say that their influence to them is considerable,” he added.

Mr. Aquino said he was “surprised” by the statement, as he noted several among the signatories used to be part of the security cluster.

“So, I was surprised that their reaction was to that degree and that they have objections,” Mr. Aquino told reporters Monday.

“Maybe what’s good is to have a public dialogue with them... so everyone can see if their position on the matter has sound basis,” he added.

In the manifesto, the groups called for safeguards on the proposed BBL, including provisions stating that the proposed Bangsamoro region is “a constituent part of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Other provisions being pushed in the manifesto include a renouncement of separatism, disarmament of all combatants six months after the agreement’s ratification, and conformity of the proposed Bangsamoro region with the Philippine Constitution. –read more at Business World Online

Controversial ₱700-million Iloilo Convention Center opens for APEC Summit

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PNoy opens Iloilo Convention Center

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III led on Monday the inauguration of the controversial ₱700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).

Aquino opened the state-of-the-art convention facility located on a 1.7-hectare lot in Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

The ICC became controversial last year after former provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada Jr. alleged that the structure was overpriced and implicated Senate President Franklin Drilon, an Ilonggo.

Mejorada accused Drilon of conspiring with a supposedly favored contractor to rig the bidding of the project.

Mejorada alleged that W.V. Coscoluella and Associates, which designed the building, was awarded a contract without a public bidding and that construction was overpriced by ₱488 million.

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President Aquino at the inauguration of the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City. Official Gazette PH

Drilon was charged with graft before the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2014, but the charge was dismissed for lack of merit.

Two stories high with a floor area of 11,832 square meters, the ICC can accommodate over 3,000 guests. It will be used as one of the venues for some high-level ministerial meetings of this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

The construction of the ICC began in 2013 and was based on a design inspired by Iloilo's Dinagyang and Paraw festivals.

Aquino also joined the ceremonial launch of the Iloilo Business Park and Richmonde Hotel Iloilo. - Louis Bacani @philSTAR

Support for Duterte presidential run gathers steam, Roxas led internal survey over Binay

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The trouble with us in government is that we talk too much, act too slow, and do too little, don't we? What the country needs is not more laws but more good men in public service. image: rappler.com

Support for Duterte presidential run gathers steam

Davao City mayor yet to commit to the idea of running for highest office

Manila: Support for a presidential bid for Davao City’s mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, is gaining ground even as the prospective candidate himself is yet to commit to the idea.

“Yes, talks are on going, but nothing is final at this time,” a source from Cebu City told Gulf News when asked to confirm reports that negotiations are going on between Duterte’s camp and that of the Nacionalista Party (NP) of former Senator Manuel Villar and the Partido Demokratiko-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.

Duterte currently belongs to the PDP-Laban.

With their formidable machineries, the two parties together form the biggest political organisations in the country.

It was responsible for the near-win of Villar in the 2010 presidential contest. Villar tallied only second in the electoral contest, losing to current President Benigno Aquino III.

The source confided to Gulf News that NP is courting the support of Duterte as part of a political concession to Villar, whose wife, Senator Cynthia Villar is reportedly seeking the vice-presidency in the 2016 polls.

Merger

Reports said an official announcement of a merger of the PDP-Laban-Nacionalista Party is due soon.

So far, Duterte remains non-committed although there are widespread calls for him to run for the top executive office.

A no-nonsense lawyer and administrator, Duterte had been elected mayor of the country’s biggest city — Davao City, time and again despite his image as a leader who would cut short tedious judicial processes by rendering justice swiftly and without fanfare.

In 2012, he forced a man selling fake land titles to eat the counterfeit certificates the latter had been selling to hapless informal settlers.

He would, at a heartbeat, tell rice smugglers that he would have them shot to death if they continue with their nefarious ways.

But the source said, all of this is part of an image Duterte cultivated and happily basked in.

Death squads

“They say he had people executed through the so-called Davao Death Squads but up to now, no one has any proof that he was behind these killings,” said the source.

“For one thing, Mayor Duterte epitomises everything that the government should be — quick to act on concerns even outside the media glare. The people are fed up with slow moving politicians,” he said.

“If only he will run for president then things would appear a little better for a lot of people,” he added.

Mar Roxas: Real survey is in 2016

ZAMBOANGA - Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is thankful for the results of an internal survey that showed him winning the presidency if he goes one-on-one against Vice-President Jejomar Binay.

Roxas, who arrived Thursday morning in the city, toured different radio and TV stations.

In an interview, the Liberal Party candidate said he is grateful for the results of an internal survey commissioned by the LP. The survey showed that Roxas will win if the presidential race were a one-on-one fight between him and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Roxas said he is not privy to the details of the internal survey.

He also said the real survey will rely on the results of the 2016 election.

Before he left, Roxas made a joke that as of present he too is excited to know who will be his running mate in the 2016 elections.

Roxas is set to attend the three-day Mindanao Business Conference in Dipolog City, which formally opened yesterday. Business leaders and stakeholders from the different parts of the country are among those who participated in the activity. - Gulf news / ABS- CBN

The Philippines and KR big winners from China's slowdown but Fearing Investors for MARCOS Jr bid for 2016 Presidency

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The Philippines and South Korea are the big winners from China's slowdown

How panicked were investors last week about China's stock market plunge? Enough to treat the Korean peninsula, a place that was teetering on the brink of war, as a safe haven.

Even as policy makers braced for renewed military confrontation between North and South Korea, the won staged a rally.

It may be time to start counting Korea as a developed nation, rather than an emerging market. 

That's made South Korean assets one of the few bright spots in a dark time for emerging markets. On August 24 alone, investors yanked $2.7 trillion out of developing nations, with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand especially hard hit. It matched the violent September 2008 selloff after Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Back then, Korea was battered so hard that pundits were calling it the "next Iceland" and the "Bear Stearns economy". Now, together with the Philippines, it's one of Asia's only refuges from chaos.

It's not hard to explain why many Asian economies are suffering from China's slowdown. Exporters of commodities, who depended on a humming Chinese market, have especially suffered. But why are there such big outliers among battered emerging markets?

Less like lemmings

The answer is that investors are finally basing their decisions less on herd mentality than nuanced, case-by-case analyses.

"Emerging market investors have become a lot savvier," says economist Frederic Neumann of HSBC in Hong Kong.

"Gone are the days where emerging markets were all lumped into one bucket. Today, countries with stronger fundamentals are able to resist the spread of contagion washing over global financial markets."

Along with South Korea and the Philippines, Neumann notes that even some frontier economies, like Vietnam, "have weathered global financial turmoil with apparent ease".

The common link among the success stories is they've got the basics right since Asia's 1997 financial meltdown. They have healthier financial systems, greater transparency, stronger banks, sober national balance sheets, and reasonable current-account deficits.

Malaysia's reckoning, by contrast, is long overdue.

The ringgit is trading near 17-year lows because scandal-plagued Prime Minister Najib Razak cares more about staying in power than modernising the country's unproductive economy.

Meanwhile, Thailand's military junta is undoing much of the progress Bangkok made since the late 1990s in strengthening the rule of law. And for all its gripes that Indonesia is being unfairly lumped in with Asia's laggards, President Joko Widodo's administration is rapidly losing the trust of investors.

While there's still time to win it back, Widodo's first 315 days in office have been a case study in timidity, drift and lost opportunities.

Korea credible

Korea, by contrast, is on the "more credible side of the spectrum," says economist Marc Chandler of Brown Brothers Harriman.

Even though China's downshift and US interest rate hikes will eventually make a dent, the won was Asia's top performer last week. Its 2.7 percent gain almost matched the drop in the Chinese yuan since August 11.

Meanwhile, Korean bond yields are falling. It turns out that the world's central banks had it right last year when they boosted their Korean debt holdings. In 2014, they made up 45.4 percent of the foreign-held portion of Korea Treasury bonds, up from 41.8 percent a year earlier.

It may be time to start counting Korea as a developed nation, rather than an emerging market. Korea still faces many challenges, not least of which are its rogue family-run conglomerates. But its macroeconomic performance deserves the recognition it's receiving from investors.

The same goes for the Philippines. Since 2010, President Benigno Aquino has steadily improved his nation's debt position (winning investment-grade ratings in the process), attacked graft and drawn in waves of foreign-direct investment.

Last month, reporters asked Philippine central bank governor Amando Tetangco if he's worried about the spectre of economic crisis haunting Asia at the moment.

"There's a herd mentality," he said, "but there'll be differentiation."

So far, he's been proven right. The country formerly derided as the "sick man of Asia" has been standing its ground amid market chaos.

Still risks

Risks abound, of course. While South Korea's economic fundamentals are stable – it's growing at a rate of 2.2 percent with a 3.7 percent jobless rate – its high household debt of $458 billion is a concern.

Manila, for its part, faces an uncertain 2016 election, in which Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son of the dictator who ravaged the nation in the 1970s and 1980s, may make a bid for the presidency. History has shown that emerging markets are often just one bad leader away from relapsing into chaos.

For now, the relative stability washing over Korea and the Philippines underscores that steady leadership and long-term thinking matter. It also shows that global investors are getting better at identifying those factors in Asia. - Bloomberg / The Sydney Morning Herald

Philippines confirmed buying SKR/ Japan made diesel powered Submarine- For the first time

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Philippines is interested in acquiring Diesel submarines based on technology from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Soryu-class vessel. image:asia.nikkei.com

Philippines to buy submarines and advanced missile systems for the first time

This will ensure strength in the South China Sea

Manila: For the first time, the Philippines will buy electric and diesel-run submarines, including advanced missile systems, as listed in its $22.11 billion (998 billion pesos or Dh83.166 billion) modernization plan that was approved in July, to ensure its strength against China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia which have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, sources said.

“The Philippine Navy will buy several submarines and missile systems in the next five years from private manufacturing firms either from South Korea or Japan,” a military source who requested anonymity told Gulf News.

“The ambitious purchase was scheduled after the Philippine economy grew, received good ratings from rating agencies, and allowed borrowing for expensive war materials, but the Philippines could not yet match China’s 26 submarines,” said the same source.

In 2013, the Philippine Navy bought two 1.400 tons Incheon-class frigates (also called Future Frigate experimental or FFX), manufactured by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries and STX Offshore and Shipbuilding for $400 million (18 billion pesos or Dh1.5 billion); two strategic sealift vessels or floating command centers which can transport three helicopters per vessel, soldiers, and supplies at sea, from Indonesia’s PT PAL (Persero) for $85.7 million (3.86 billion pesos or Dh321.6 million). The new frigates and sealift vessels will arrive in the Philippines at the end of 2015 or early 2016, President Benigno Aquino announced recently.

It is widely reported that the Philippine Navy is manned by three US-made refurbished frigates: BRP Tagbanua; BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, but Japan’s defense ministry said the Philippine Navy has 80 warships; China, 892; Malaysia, 208; and Vietnam, 94.

The Philippine Coast Guard also bought 10 40-metre-long multi-purpose response vessels (MRRV) from Japan in late 2013 for $184 million (8.09 billion pesos or Dh674.6 million), in a loan forged with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2014. They will augment the Coast Guard’s 19 rescue vessels, when they arrive in the Philippines at the end of 2015, sources said.

The Coast Guard secured a $20 million (900 million pesos or Dh75 million) loan from the United States’ Defense Threat Reduction Agency (it has a maritime security project with the US’ Weapons for Mass Destruction Proliferation Prevention Program) for three aerial surveillance radars, two surface sensors and three surveillance planes for the Philippine Coast Guard National Coast Watch Centre in northern Luzon and southwest Philippines.

Recently, the Philippine Air Force bought 12 new FA-50 fighter-trainers made by Korea Aerospace Industries. six Close Air Support Aircraft; seven of 13 AW-109 helicopters; and six of eight Bell-412 combat utility helicopters made by Korea Aerospace Industries. The two fighters will arrive in December 2015 or early 2016, and the rest in 2017.

Japan’s defense ministry said the Philippines has a total of 26 combat aircraft, compared with China’s 2,582 combat aircraft.

The Philippine government also allotted $22 million (1 billion pesos or Dh83.33 million) for the development of three new naval bases that will protect its 36,000 kilometer coastline facing the South China Sea.

In 1995, Congress approved an $8.08 billion (364 billion pesos or Dh30.3 billion) military modernization plan for 15 years. But only 10 per cent of the approved budget was secured by a loan 15 years later, in 2010, the budget department said.

China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim the whole of the South China Sea and several parts of the oil-rich Spratly Archipelago. Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim their respective exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea and parts of the Spratly Archipelago. - Gulf News

PHOTOS: Philippines challenges China's Claim of West Philippine Sea at UNCLOS Tribunal in The Hague

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Philippines challenges China's Claim of country's exclusive economic zone at UNCLOS Tribunal in The Hague. image: inquirer.net

IN PHOTOS: Philippines challenges China in The Hague

In photos emailed to Rappler, the Permanent Court of Arbitration gives us a glimpse of the closed-door hearings pitting Manila against Beijing

MANILA, Philippines – Behind closed doors, the Philippines recently waged a legal battle against China in The Hague, Netherlands, in a historic case over the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Philippines on Thursday, July 23, is set to submit a new document to The Hague to bolster its case.

While Manila pursues this, a question remains: What exactly happened during hearings from July 7 to 13?

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, which serves as the venue for the arbitration proceedings, emailed Rappler high-resolution photos to give us a glimpse of the closed-door hearings.

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China claimed the shores of Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Japan as their own

The photos show a powerhouse team, led by internationally acclaimed lawyer Paul Reichler, defending the Philippines' case before an equally high-caliber arbitral tribunal in The Hague.

The tribunal said around 60 members joined the Philippine team. (READ: Binay hits Philippine team vs China in The Hague))

Check out these photos from the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

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TOP DIPLOMAT. Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario delivers an opening statement. Photo courtesy of PCA

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IN SESSION. Early on, the arbitral tribunal in The Hague decides to hold the hearings behind closed doors. Photo courtesy of PCA

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TOP GOVERNMENT LAWYER. Philippine Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who serves as agent for his country, delivers a statement. Photo courtesy of PCA

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TEAM OF EXPERTS. The counsel team for the Philippines, including Professor Bernard Oxman, Professor Alan Boyle, and Mr Lawrence Martin, in the closed-door hearings. Photo courtesy of PCA

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HISTORIC CASE. The arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, listens to the first country that brought China to court over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Photo courtesy of PCA

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'GIANT SLAYER.' Internationally acclaimed lawyer Paul Reichler, the Philippines' chief counsel, delivers a statement. Photo courtesy of PCA

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REPRESENTING GOVERNMENT. Members of the Philippine delegation, including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Menardo Guevarra. Photo courtesy of PCA

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OBSERVER DELEGATIONS. The tribunal allowed observers from the following countries – Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Japan – to attend the hearings. Photo courtesy of PCA

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HIGH-CALIBER TRIBUNAL. The arbitral tribunal is led by Judge Thomas Mensah (president, C), the first president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The high-caliber tribunal also includes the following (L to R): Judge Jean-Pierre Cot, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak, Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum, and Professor Alfred H. A. Soons. Photo courtesy of PCA

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TEAM PHILIPPINES. Representing all 3 branches of Philippine government, the Philippine delegation comes in full force in The Hague. Photo courtesy of PCA

The 5-member tribunal said it "now enters its deliberations" on whether it has the right to hear the Philippines' case. It said it expects to rule on this matter "before the end of the year."

The tribunal said it "is conscious of its duty under the Rules of Procedure to conduct proceedings 'to avoid unnecessary delay and expense and to provide a fair and efficient process.'"

Once the tribunal decides it has jurisdiction over the case, the Philippines can already present the meat of its arguments. (READ: EXPLAINER: Philippines' 5 arguments vs China)

The Philippines said it expects a definitive ruling against China by 2016 – Rappler.com

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