Japan trip could be ‘reward’, not a ‘junket’ – PH envoy

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2019   •   2636

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bids farewell to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea before boarding a plane bound for Japan at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on May 28, 2019. The President is set to participate in the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

TOKYO, Japan — Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V said President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to the country may be a “reward” to Cabinet officials for the result of the 2019 midterm polls.

“Ito’y pabuya sa nakaraang eleksyon (It’s a reward for the elections),” Ambassador Laurel said in a press conference on Tuesday (May 28).

“But I think the President is so elated with the results of the midterm elections, that this is an affirmation of what his administration does in the last three years. It’s like a reward,” he added. 

Eight of the 12 administration candidates for the senatorial race won in the elections on May 13 which, according to Laurel, was an ‘affirmation’ of the administration’s actions.

Laurel, however, clarified that the trip was not a junket.

“It’s not a junket,” the Ambassador straightforwardly said.

“I can imagine that fellow (Duterte) who’s six months younger than me, I think is also getting tired with the kind of lifestyle and schedule that he has. My impression is it’s important that the Cabinet is here for reasons that they may ask the Japanese,” he added.

Ambassador Laurel explained that it was Nikkei, the host of the Future of Asia conference, that invited and paid for the President’s trip.

The Ambassador did not clear, however, if the organizer also shouldered the expenses of the Cabinet members and the local officials who joined the trip.

“Ito ay imbitasyon ng Nikkei. Sila ang sasagot ng gastos. Pagka-libre, sabihin sa kapitbahay. Mayroong gastos iyong mga alipores,” Laurel said

(This is by invitation from Nikkei. They will shoulder the expenses. If it’s free, tell the neighbors to join. The companions also incurred expenses.)

“Wala akong nalalaman na mayor o governor na darating na gastos ng gobyerno,” he added.

(I do not know of mayors or governors who are coming at the expense of the government.)

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, on the other hand, was quick to refute the statement of Ambassador Laurel, pointing out that his joining the President in Japan is a working trip and not a reward.

“I am part of the delegation because there will be issues related to agriculture which PRRD would bring up during the visit, especially tariff on bananas,” Piñol said.

“All that I know is this is a working trip and not a pabuya [reward] as the good Ambassador of the Philippines to Japan Jose Laurel V was quoted by the media,” he added.

Other Cabinet members who joined the President in the trip are Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.; Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III; Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez; Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat; Public Works Secretary Mark Villar; Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles; Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia; Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar; National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.; and Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

President Duterte is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and attend an economic forum during his four-day visit in the island country. — MP

PhilHealth to collide with UNTV Cup champion AFP on Sunday

UNTV News   •   September 21, 2019

PhilHealth and Agriculture will be on the same court on Sunday’s (September 22, 2019) UNTV Cup at Pasig City Sports Center but will face different teams.

 Witness three-time runner up Malacañang-PSC Kamao go against two-time champion Judiciary Magis on Sunday (September 22).

PhilHealth Plus will banner its five new players in the 8th season of the league of public servants, UNTV Cup.

According to Coach Delio Aseron, their team had played in various leagues during the off season as part of preparation.

Ang paghahanda na ginawa natin we participated doon sa Government Corporations Athletic Association o GCAA kung saan nag champion po sa open ang PhilHealth for five years na and nanalo po kami sa seniors first time,” Coach Delio Aseron said.

(Part of our preparation was our participation at the GCAA or Government Corporation Athletic Association where PhilHealth was the champion for five years already in the open category and first-time champion in senior’s category.)

PhilHealth’s first game of the season will be against the defending champion, AFP Cavaliers in the second game of the triple-header on Sunday, 3PM at Pasig City Sports Center.

“Expect niyo po PhilHealth lalaban kahit maliit kami… hopefully we utilize our speed para exciting games,” Coach Aseron added.

(Expect PhilHealth to fight despite of our small line up… hopefully we’ll be able to utilize our speed to make the games exciting.)

Meanwhile, three-time runner up Malacañang-PSC Kamao will field two new players in their game against Judiciary Magis for the main game on Sunday, 5PM.

Kamao’s new players are Jeffrey Punzalan, 5’7 and Joseph Antolin Roque, 6’1.

 According to MAL-PSC Coach Raffy Gonzales, they will not be complacent this season because they know that all the teams have upgraded their respective rosters.  They promise to give all their best to repeat a finals appearance.

Coach Raffy Gonzales said, “Maganda naman pagkapasok nila dahil unang-una si Punzalan nag lalaro ng 1 and 2 [positions], yung Roque ganoon din 1,2,3 [positions] nilalaro.”

(Their addition is just fitting to our team, firstly, Jeffrey Punzalan plays position 1 and 2 and Joseph Roque plays 1,2 and 3.)

In the other court, expect a faster Judiciary Magis at UNTV Cup Season 8 according to head coach Joey Yabut following their acquisition of two new players.

“Expect niyo na takbuhan kami ngayon saka siguro gaganda na yung denepsa namin dahil may dalawa kaming player na bago.  Mukhang defensive din hindi lang scorer eh,” Coach Yabut said.

(Expect us to be running this season and also expect us to be more defensive because of our new players.)

Joey Yabut also added that they will fight toe-to-toe despite facing other teams’ big men.

“Naging problema namin yung depensa, yung isa kasi namin bigman makatutulong sya ngayon sa ilalim…pwede rin siyang mabigyan sa ilalim dahil marunon siyang gumalaw. Yung isa naman defensive player. Yun naman yung mukhang kapalit ni John Hall,” Coach Joey Yabut said.

(Defense was our problem before but one of our big men can be a reliable force inside the paint. The other player is a defensive player who can possibly replace the vacuum left by our former player John Hall.)

Prior to these match ups is the opening game at 2pm between the Agriculture Food Masters and Ombudsman Graft Busters. — Bernard Dadis

ASOP Year 8 Grand Finale nears

UNTV News   •   September 21, 2019

The finale is coming!

Last August 25 (Sunday), A Song of Praise Music Festival named its newest grand finalist for Year 8.

With her worship anthem titled “Sagwan” (Paddle), 31-year old school registrar Aiza Narag secured a spot at the eighth edition of one-of-a-kind music revelry celebrating praise music.

Sung by rising belter Louie Anne Culala of The Wishfuls, the praise song paints a picture of a long journey at the heart of the sea while huge waves and fierce winds roar, encouraging us to trust God to be able to make it to the shores of hope.

This year’s grand finals’ entries comprise of the following:

  • NOVEMBER: “O Ama” by Jhoter Jone Villan
  • DECEMBER: “Alay Ko” by Maddonna Rosas and Pau Ortiz
  • JANUARY: “Ikaw ay Ikaw” by Vanduane Badua
  • FEBRUARY: “Don’t Give Up” by Cherry Labating
  • MARCH: “Dios ng Katotohanan” by Darrel Joseph Villanueva
  • APRIL: “Pupurihin Kita” by Chris Givenchi Edejer
  • MAY: “Libo-libong Tala” by Carlo David
  • JUNE: “You are Wonderful” by Franz Loren Bigcas
  • JULY: “God Has His Purpose” by Lambert Reyes Jr. and Roman Cundangan
  • AUGUST: “Sagwan: by Aiza Narag

Two more tracks are set to complete the list of this year’s best praise songs.

Last year, visually-impaired songwriter John Paul Salazar bagged the Song of the Year title with P500,000 cash prize tax-free. 

Performed by OPM trio Bradz, his masterpiece titled “Tugtog”, is an upbeat gospel track about music as the sound of a praiseful heart for God. 

“‘Tugtog’ for me denotes a human heartbeat. One artist I heard said, ‘Music is a part of our lives, and our hearts always plays music.’ I made the song out of that idea and turned it into a song of praise to the Lord. Every time I sing for the Lord, my heart is in sync with the music!” said Salazar.

A first from last year, ASOP launched its Bro. Eli Soriano’s Choice with “Hiling” as the winning song written by Jeffrey Lim, also by a visually-impaired aspiring songwriter.

Conceptualized by Breakthrough and Milestones Productions International (BMPI) Chairman and CEO Kuya Daniel Razon and Filipino televangelist Bro. Eli Soriano, ASOP is set to upgrade its prizes for each year.

As another year-long singing of praises to the Almighty comes to a close, the grand winner will take home P800,000 while the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, will get P500,000, P200,000, and P100,000 cash prizes, respectively. 

Over the years, amateur and professional songwriters have ventured into the heart of crafting songs for the Almighty.

True to its advocacy of bringing back praise music in people’s lives, the first and only praise songwriting tilt in Philippine television continues to inspire talents and celebrate gospel music dedicated all for the glory of God.

Apart from celebrating inspiring talents, ASOP is also set to stage top-notch OPM acts.

Watch out for the grand finals of ASOP Year 8 on November.

For more information about ASOP Music Festival, visit its official website at https://www.asoptv.com. You can follow ASOP on Facebook via facebook.com/asoptv, Twitter at twitter.com/asoptv and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/asoptv/.

Yemen’s Houthis threaten to attack United Arab Emirates targets

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

Yemen’s Houthi group said on Wednesday (September 18) it had identified dozens of sites in the United Arab Emirates as possible targets, in an attempt to underscore its military clout following a weekend attack it claims to have carried out on Saudi oil facilities.

Speaking in a televised speech, Yahya Saria, the military spokesman for the Iran-aligned movement, said that even one drone operation would cost the Emirati regime dearly.

He said the Houthis have new drones that can reach targets deep into Saudi Arabia.

“Our forces have reached a very high level of competence and ability on every front. Today, our forces can manufacture and produce several drones in record timing. The armed forces have assured its capability to produce one or more drones per day,” Saria said.

“Today, there are global stances that deserve recognition, the stances that support Yemen’s right to reply to the Saudi-Emirati aggression against our country. And we must specifically name Iran and Turkey, and the other stances who consider the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and I’m sure you’ve all seen these stances,” he added.

In Riyadh, Saudi Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said the attack could not have come from Yemen, adding the Houthi movement was “covering up” for Iran.

The UAE is a leading partner in a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to restore Hadi’s government after it was toppled by the Houthis in late 2014. (Reuters)

(Production: Tarek M Fahmy, Soraya Ali)

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