Headlines for Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jessica "Gigi" ReyesPork scam suspect and former Enrile aide Gigi Reyes back in the Philippines
Seen as a key personality in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam and charged with plunder because of it, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile's former chief of staff, Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, returned to the Philippines early Saturday. Reyes landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 via PR-105 from San Francisco, GMA News reported. "I'm facing the charges. I've always faced it," Reyes was reported to have said when she arrived. Last April 1, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict Reyes, Senators Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, as well as alleged scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles, with plunder.

Philippines boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
MANILA — The Philippines said Saturday it was stepping up its defenses against the deadly MERS virus, with the large numbers of Filipino workers in the Middle East seen as potential carriers. "It is important that families, friends and members of their local communities fully understand all that must be known about the MERS coronavirus," Health Secretary Enrique Ona told a news conference. A male Filipino nurse who had tested positive for the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus in the United Arab Emirates returned to the Philippines on Tuesday, according to the health department.

Katherine Grace TanStem cell ‘doctor’ faces more raps for Ateneo grad’s death
MANILA, Philippines - A businessman has updated the charges he filed with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against a wellness center operator who allegedly caused the death of his daughter, a cum laude graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, last year. Bernard Tan added the illegal practice of medicine to the charges of estafa and reckless imprudence resulting in homicide he filed in October 2013 against Antonia Carandang-Park, her husband Young Joe Park and some center personnel over the death of his daughter Katherine Grace, 23, on July 4, 2013.

Lawmakers defend Mar over Wack Wack incident
MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen yesterday defended Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II over an incident at a golf club where he reportedly blew his top. “I can understand how Secretary Roxas could have been upset by the situation, but I believe that he would not have cursed anyone. I have known him since he was majority leader in the House of Representatives in 1998 and have never known him to badmouth anyone,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said. “To his credit, Secretary Roxas apologized even as he denied the accusation against him. Secretary Roxas is a good and decent man and you can never put a good man down,” he said.

Ruben EnajeHow other faiths in the Philippines observe Holy Week
The annual commemoration of Holy Week—marking the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which begins on Palm Sunday, climaxes on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the resurrection—and its pious customs observed in Roman Catholic tradition also find expression in the mainstream Protestant denominations and evangelical churches. Following is an informal survey of how other faiths observe Holy Week. Aglipayan Church. The Aglipayan Church, officially the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Philippine Independent Church, follows the same Holy Week observance as the Roman Catholic Church, according to Rev. Fr. Terry Revollido, rector of the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary.

Enrique OnaAnother OFW with MERS virus?
Manila, Philippines — The Northern Police District (NPD) is now tracking down a male overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who had just arrived from the Middle East after reports circulated that he is afflicted with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). An NPD official, who declined to be identified for lack of authority to talk about the issue, revealed this yesterday on the day the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed that another OFW who had initially tested positive for MERS-CoV is now negative for the virus. The NPD source said that the second possible victim of MERS virus was traced to be a resident Valenzuela City.

Jakarta, Manila rank high among 34 cities
MANILA, Philippines - Manila is second among five cities in Southeast Asia with the highest potential of getting much better in the next two decades, a report from the Wall Street Journal quoting US-based consulting firm A.T. Kearney showed. In the report, Manila was next to Jakarta on the list of 34 cities in low- and middle-income countries most likely to take the global lead in key areas from business to workforce health and security. The A.T. Kearney ranking said Manila was followed by Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Joseph EstradaAt 77, Erap has Easter treat for Manila cops but keeps City Hall folk in agony
MANILA, Philippines–Turning 77 on Black Saturday, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada unveiled an Easter treat for city policemen but asked local government employees to make a post-Lenten “sacrifice.” “For my birthday, I have set aside funds to give P10,000 per policeman,” Estrada said in an interview, referring to the financial assistance totaling P29.58 million for members of the Manila Police District (MPD). The amount represents the P2,500 monthly allowance due each MPD member since January, which Estrada said would be drawn from City Hall’s special activities fund under nonoffice expenditures.

More big spenders from New Zealand visiting the Philippines
“Wowed” by the natural beauty of the country, more Kiwis are flocking to the Philippines. What’s even more heartening to find out is that they are also spending more than other foreign tourists while having fun in the archipelago. Citing data from the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine Embassy in New Zealand said 15,783 tourists from New Zealand visited the Philippines in 2013 or a growth rate of 11.94 percent from the previous year. “In January 2014, there were 1,425 New Zealanders who came to the Philippines representing a growth rate of 11.07 percent on a month-on-month basis, which is higher than the overall average of 5.80 percent,” a statement from the Philippine Embassy in Wellington said.

JENNIFER Connelly (left) and Russell Crowe in the Darren Aronofsky film “Noah”Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
It could take more than 40 days and 40 nights for the multimillion dollar Hollywood movie “Noah” to dock its ark in Philippine theaters. The Darren Aronofsky film, about the biblical character Noah’s mission to save the whole of creation from a great flood, was originally set for local release April 2. However, the Russell Crowe-starrer became the first casualty in a courtroom battle between its producer United International Pictures (UIP) and local film distributor Solar Entertainment Corporation.

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