Headlines for Monday, July 28, 2014

Benigno S. Aquino IIIAquino to tackle growth in hour-long Sona 2014
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III’s fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) will last for less than an hour, barring delays caused by applause, Malacanang has announced. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. also told Palace reporters that the speech would be conversational because the President wanted the public to understand clearly what he has to say. Last year, Aquino’s Sona lasted for around an hour and 45 minutes because of the applause and footage of testimonials by ordinary people.

China to hold military exercises in southeast coastal areas
BEIJING - China will hold military exercises in southeast coastal areas beginning on Tuesday, the Ministry of National Defense said on Sunday. It described the drills as annual and routine in a statement on its website, saying they would test combat readiness and capability. The statement did not give details on where the exercises would be carried out. Flights to and from Shanghai International Airport Co. Ltd. and 11 other airports in east China will face major delays until mid-August because of military drills, Beijing's Public Security Bureau said last week.

Sona most crucial for Aquino, say solons
MANILA, Philippines—Will it be all gloves off or all apologies for President Aquino in his penultimate State of the Nation Address (Sona)? Lawmakers differ on the President’s mindset going into his fifth Sona, which they agree will be his most crucial, given his declining popularity ratings, the fallout from the legal debacle of his economic stimulus program and the first murmurs of a military unrest. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that this would be the President’s “most difficult” Sona after coasting along on his popularity and “daang matuwid (straight path)” in previous years.

Mabini reefPhilippines to pursue moratorium on provocative acts in sea row
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is determined to get all concerned countries in Southeast Asia to agree on a moratorium on provocative and destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said last week. The DFA said the proposed moratorium should be pursued while concerned countries work on the expeditious conclusion of a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) in the disputed waters. In June, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said initiating talks for a moratorium in terms of activities that escalate tension in the South China Sea is a reasonable approach.

Religious leaders to PNoy: Repent or resign
Hours before his fifth State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III was told on Monday to either "repent or resign," particularly over the controversy involving the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Bishops of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), which groups together five protestant denominations, said the DAP had become a "path to betrayal of the public’s trust" and had severely damaged Aquino’s reputation, "destroying any semblance of fighting corruption." In a statement, the UCCP said: "President Aquino’s continuing insistence that he is trustworthy, and thus, somehow immune or justified in breaking the law runs counter to his supposed efforts to stop corruption and misuse of public funds. In a glaring manner, he has become every bit a violator himself."

No one should be left behind! Walang iwanan!
This is the cry of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty around the world. In the Philippines, poverty is still very high and it is lagging behind the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target to eradicate poverty. WALANG IWANAN! is GCAP Philippines’ demand from the government to constantly take heed of the urgency of improving the situation of the poor and marginalized sectors of society. P Philippines aims to spread awareness and mobilize people to take action on the situation of poverty in the country. Even if the targets of the government look good, we need to ensure that these come from the grassroots, reflecting their real situation.

Franklin DrilonSenate President Franklin Drilon to colleagues: Defend the Senate
MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday urged his colleagues to defend the Senate amid mounting criticism over some senators' alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam. "The eyes of the people are upon us again as we open the second regular session of the 16th Congress. I view this day as our opportunity to recover the people's faith in their Senate, regain their trust and revive their confidence," Drilon said. The Senate president said the task is difficult, but he added that senators should "combat falsehoods concocted by cowardly minds who spread their lies through proxy voices and pens; to speak up for the Senate even when it may seem to be more politically convenient and safer for us to be silent, to just wait for the tempest to pass."

Civil Society Organizations to PNoy: Enact Alternative Minerals Management Bill on SONA!
Civil Society Organizations (CSO) from environmental and human rights sectors took matters into their own hands to urge the President to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 and enact the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) through a staged protest yesterday, July 23 in front of Mendiola five (5) days before the State Of the Nation Address on July 28. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) among other non-government organizations, initiated the pre-SONA activity that was participated by over 200 environmental and human rights advocates.

Doctors hit proposal banning pharmaceutical firms from giving them promo items
A proposed memorandum order prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from giving doctors promotional gifts, including cakes, pastries, wines and flowers, as well as junkets abroad, has rankled doctors. The 13-page memorandum order drafted by Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Director General Kenneth Hartigan Y. Go submitted it a few weeks ago to Department of Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona for review and approval. The memorandum order proposes the establishment of “Ethical Standards for Health Promotion” which aims to stop drug companies from pampering and influencing doctors on what medicines or health devices they prescribe to patients.

Princess SuperalFilipina teen Superal wins US Girls’ junior golf crown
Flagstaff, Arizona – Princess Superal became the first homegrown Filipino player to win the prestigious US Girls’ Junior Championship, fighting off Mexico’s Marijosse Navarro’s determined comeback and snatching the fiercely fought crown on the 37th hole at the Forest Highlands Golf Club Saturday in Flagstaff, Arizona. Superal pounced on Navarro’s hooked drive into a water hazard on the first playoff hole, the par-5 14th, and barely reached the green in two. Taking a drop, the Mexican made it in four and when Superal flubbed her birdie putt and she (Navarro) missed on a long par-putt bid, Navarro conceded the hole, the match, and the crown to new Filipina champion.

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