Today's Headlines in the Philippines

Eduardo “Danding” CojuangcoCoconut Levy is for farmers - President Benigno Aquino III
Their long walk to Malacañang did not exactly go to waste. Assuring coconut farmers that the government was “on your side,” President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday threw his support behind a bill outlining how they would directly benefit from P71 billion in taxes collected from them during the Marcos regime. The President also gave the group Kilus Magniniyog his word that he would look into its proposal for an executive order putting up a Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund. “I hope it’s clear: You have our full support and we are on your side,” he told coconut farmers in Filipino in a meeting in Malacañang. “May you continue to trust [the government]. Help us in the struggle to achieve our singular objective for coconut farmers and the rest of the Philippines.”

China says Manila violated its sovereignty with fines on fishermen
BEIJING - China said on Tuesday that the fines imposed by a court in the Philippines on nine Chinese fishermen for catching sea turtles in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea had violated its sovereignty, in the latest row between the two over territory. Philippine police had arrested the fishermen in May and seized their boat off Half Moon Shoal, a territory in the Spratly Islands within the Philippines' 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The court fined them $102,000 each on Monday. China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to be rich in minerals, oil and gas, which has become one of Asia's biggest potential flashpoints. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing and sometimes overlapping claims on parts of it.

Lani CayetanoCommission on Audit asks Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano to account for P317.4M
The Commission on Audit (COA) has asked Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano to account for more than P317.4 million that the city government spent on salaries of its contractual employees, who seemed nowhere to be found. The COA also noted the “doubtful existence” of medicines and medical, dental, laboratory and office supplies in City Hall’s inventory amounting to nearly P102.3 million. In its annual financial report for 2013, the COA noted several adverse findings in its audit of the financial transactions of one of the richest cities in the country.

More politicians face disqualification
MANILA, Philippines—More than a hundred politicians from across the political spectrum are facing disqualification cases for violation of the campaign finance rules, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Wednesday. “The Comelec is not singling out a particular person, family or political party,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez in a statement after the Supreme Court upheld the Comelec’s decision to disqualify Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito as Laguna governor for overspending in the May 2013 elections. Jimenez stressed that there would be no sacred cows when it comes to holding accountable those who violated campaign finance rules.

Manny VillarCynthia Villar does not want Manny to run for president again
MANILA - If she had her way, Senator Cynthia Villar would not want her husband to seek the presidency again. Villar was reacting to reports that former Senator Manuel Villar is among four contenders that the Nacionalista Party (NP) is considering to be its presidential candidate in the 2016 elections. The others are Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “Ako, mas gusto ko ng simpleng buhay, wala nang problema,” she told reporters on Wednesday. An early frontrunner, then Senator Manny Villar ran for president in 2010 but lost to Senator Benigno Aquino III.

Mario L. RelampagosOmbudsman wants Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos sacked
MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday sought the suspension from office of Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, three of his staff members and six other officials facing graft charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam. In a motion before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division, state prosecutors said the accused were still in active service despite the filing of criminal charges against them. The prosecution said Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, explicitly stated that public officers facing criminal charges “shall be suspended from office.”

Moribund Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gets P24-B budget
The Senate Committee on Finance has increased to P24 billion the budget allotted for the soon-to-be abolished Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the implementation of the much-needed development in the region while it prepares for its transition to a Bangsamoro regional government. Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Senate Committee on Finance chairman, said the ARMM spending package includes P10.642 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-ARMM), out of its total appropriation for next year in order to focus on construction of infrastructure.

Lubna Bint Khalid Al QaisimiMost powerful Arab woman defends Filipinos
Emirati royalty Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qaisimi has cited the excellent skills and the positive work attitude of Filipino migrant workers during an interview with journalists at the sidelines of the UAE 43rd National Day celebration. Her remark defended Filipino workers from discriminatory comments, one of them, “a nation of slaves” tag on the Philippines. “The negative perception about Philippine workers is not true. This is not about domestic help,” Sheikha Lubna told over 90 journalists who were invited for the 43rd National Day celebration.

Pacquiao showed pity, eased up on Algieri in the end
MACAU—In the end, Manny Pacquiao just didn’t have the heart to inflict the supreme ignominy of a knockout on a battered challenger. “Nakakaawa din (I pitied him),” Pacquiao said Monday, three hours before his chartered AirAsia A320 was to leave the Chinese territory for General Santos City. “Sayang, nasabak agad (It’s too much, too soon for him). “He lacked the experience,” added Pacquiao of Chris Algieri, whose lack of big fights showed in his lopsided unanimous decision defeat to the Filipino icon during their WBO welterweight title fight on Sunday at The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena here.

LaFerrari F150Solon from northern Philippines owns this rare Ferrari costing almost P200M
MANILA, Philippines – Worldwide, there are only 499 units of this limited edition of Ferrari and one of these supercars that costs almost P200 million is said to be owned by a Filipino politician. The politician is a member of Congress representing a district somewhere in northern Philippines, according to a News5 source, who requested anonymity. The rare LaFerrari also called F150 can’t just be bought by somebody who has money. To own a unit of this hybrid car that has a top speed exceeding 350 kilometers per hour, he or she must already be a Ferrari collector. Those who already have a collection of at least five Ferrari cars are the only ones who can buy a LaFerrari, according to Gus Lagman, president of the Automobile Association of the Philippines. “Ang binibigyan lamang n’yan ay ‘yong nakalimang Ferrari na."

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