Today's Headlines in the Philippines

Benigno Aquino IIIPresident Aquino insists: No more second term
After teasing last August he may opt to stay in office beyond 2016, President Benigno Aquino III is now insisting he will no longer seek a second term. In an interview with reporters in Singapore where he is on a two-day working visit, Aquino said he wants to move away from the so-called politics of personalities to issues instead. He also said he does not want a repeat of what happened to the late former President Ferdinand Marcos, who stayed in power for nearly 20 years.

MMDA: Moratorium on road works during Christmas season
MANILA, Philippines - To help lessen the effects of the expected traffic jams to be generated over the Christmas season, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has disallowed all road works and diggings across Metro Manila from December 15 to Jan. 5, 2015. MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency has imposed the same moratorium on roadworks during the Christmas holiday last year. “Ang ginawa namin last year ay first week of December wala na yon (diggings). So yung existing (roadworks) ang in-eencourage natin ay takluban muna. Dapat i-cover muna pagsamantala para madaaran naman,” Tolentino said.

Jejomar Binay (L), Ernesto MercadoOnly Ayalas didn’t give Binay condos–Mercado
MANILA, Philippines–Only Ayala Corp. did not play ball in the sleazy “open secret” property transactions in Makati City. The deal allegedly was that Vice President Jejomar Binay, then Makati mayor, would get a unit in most of the condominium buildings in the city in exchange for tax or permit concessions, except from those owned by the Ayalas, former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado testified on Tuesday. Testifying at the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee inquiry into supposed Makati irregularities, Mercado alleged that Binay used dummies to hide his ownership of these condominium units—a charge the Vice President’s camp denied.

More properties linked to Binay; VP turns tables on Mercado
Former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado yesterday revealed that Vice President Jejomar C. Binay allegedly owns several condominium units in the city. At the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee’s probe into the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, Mercado, a former ally of the Vice President, disclosed that Binay allegedly has at least six other properties under the names of his “favorite” dummies. But the camp of the Vice President turned the tables on Mercado, saying it is the former vice mayor who is allegedly covering up his ownership of many undeclared properties.

Johnifer TumalaBrushes with danger ‘all part of the job,’ says soldier who survived Abu Sayyaf attack
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — “This is all part of the job.” Staff Sergeant Johnifer Tumala, a Scout Ranger, was one of 28 the wounded soldiers from clashes against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu nearly a week ago. They were so close to the bandits and it was almost the end for them. “Kami yung nag-reinforce sa harap. ‘Yung nasalubong namin marami nasa 50,” he said. (We were the ones who provided reinforcement in front. We encountered around 50 rebels.) “Halos magsampalan kami sa sobrang lapit nila,” he said when he described how near the terrorists were.

Napoles children refuse to enter pleas on graft raps
MANILA, Philippines - Two children of businesswoman Janet Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam, on Wednesday refused to enter any plea on the graft charges filed against them before the Sandiganbayan. During their arraignment, the Third Division of the anti-graft court, chaired by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, entered a not guilty plea for Jo Christine Napoles and her brother James Christoper for the 15 counts of graft. The two Napoles children are co-accused in the graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and their mother. Both Enrile and Janet are also facing plunder charges over the pork barrel fund scam.

BRP Artemio RicartePhilippine Navy corvette to get P249-M marine engine upgrade
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of National Defense (DND) earmarked P249.76 million for the marine engineering upgrade of BRP Artemio Ricarte, among the most modern assets of the Philippine Navy. The Ricarte, a Jacinto-class corvette, will soon be overhauled and its engine improved as part of the second phase of the JCPV Marine Engineering Upgrade Project, the agency said in a bidding invitation on Wednesday. The funds will be sourced from the military's modernization program allocation. The project's initial phase completed in 2005 involved the installation of a new M242 Bushmaster 25-millimeter cannon as well as the upgrade of command, control and fire systems.

Drilon wants Mar Roxas to be LP’s standard-bearer in 2016 polls
If Senate President Franklin Drilon would have his way, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas will be the Liberal Party's standard-bearer in 2016. Drilon, LP vice chairman, however said Wednesday that he has yet to discuss the party's possible presidential bet with President Benigno Aquino III, Roxas or other LP members. “Hindi pa kami nagkokonsultahan. The President, I’m sure, is very busy and I can’t speak for the others, but I haven’t had the chance to have consultations with the President on the specific issues,” he told reporters when asked if he has been able to talk with Aquino.

Kathryn Bernardo (L), Sharon CunetaKathryn revives Sharon's 'Mr. DJ'
MANILA -- Fans of Kathryn Bernardo can expect her revival of the Sharon Cuneta hit "Mr. DJ" in the upcoming debut album of the 18-year-old superstar. A video of Bernardo's recording session for the Rey Valera-penned song was uploaded by producer Star Records on YouTube last week, and has since gone viral with more than 64,000 views, as of writing. Fans were quick to tag Bernardo's onscreen partner, 19-year-old Daniel Padilla, as the subject of the actress' rendition. Bernardo calls Padilla by his nickname, DJ.

Big crowd expected at Pope’s Mass at Luneta
That is the number of people expected to gather at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila, for the Mass of Pope Francis on January 18, next year. “The estimate is between four and six million people in Luneta…We are expecting streets and roads to be filled with people,” Marciano Paynor, the country’s former ambassador to Israel, said in a CBCP News post. He said the estimate does not include “curious” people who will line up the streets of Manila during the papal motorcade and attendees of another Mass near the Tacloban airport. To note, the pontiff is also set to say Mass near the Tacloban International airport on January 17.

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