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Junk plan to hike contributions, says Sen. Escudero

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MANILA (Sept. 22) -- Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on the Pag-IBIG Fund to junk its plan to hike the membership contribution rate, backing instead the proposal of a labor group for the agency to raise funds by expanding its coverage to include all government and private sector employees.

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Aquino-Roxas tandem puts pressure on Teodoro, Villar

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MANILA (Sept. 22) -- To face up to Noynoy-Mar’s strong North-South alliance, says pro-Cory labor leader Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III’s decision to pick Sen. Mar Roxas as running mate under the Liberal Party (LP) has put pressure on rivals Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro of Lakas-KAMPI and Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP) to get their own vice presidential partners from the Visayas or Mindanao, labor leader and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said Tuesday.

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Consumers score victory as House panel reconsiders vote on text tax

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MANILA (Sept. 22) -- Besieged by opposition from all sides, the House Ways and Means Committee took back its Sept. 8 vote in favor of the still-unnumbered substitute House Bill imposing a five-centavo tax on text messages and all other mobile phone services, national and international.

"This is a victory for consumers. We hope the House will totally stop it and archive it, along with all previous text tax bills since 2001,"said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz.

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Victims of Martial Law See in Arroyo a Tyrant Worse Than Marcos

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MANILA (Sept. 21) — The scorching heat at late morning and midday and the threat of rain in the afternoon did not deter members of Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) from commemorating the 37th anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos’s declaration of martial law.

The theme for this year’s commemoration centered on the similarities between the Marcos dictatorship and the Arroyo regime.

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Lawmaker says Philhealth assured of P5 billion in fresh funding

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MANILA (Sept. 21) -- Members of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) can now sleep better at night.

Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas said the state-run national health insurer is assured of another P5 billion in fresh funding in the proposed P1.541-trillion General Appropriations Act of 2010.

"We must stress that this extra P5 billion is not a subsidy. This is meant to pay the national government’s arrears to Philhealth," Gullas said.

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Only P1.10 per Filipino Per Day For Health Services in 2010 Budget Proposal

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MANILA (Sept 14) -- As budget hearings in Congress tackle health allocation today, lawmakers are urged to increase the proposed budget for health, which is a mere P1.10 per capita per day, to ensure a satisfactory level of health services for Filipinos.

Under the 2010 national government budget proposal, the health sector is allocated P37.9 billion or only 2.46% of the total proposed budget. Based on an estimated population of 94.01 million for 2010, this means that real per capita spending is just P403 per Filipino for health services.

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P1 billion set to retool teachers in English, Math & Science

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MANILA (Sept. 14) -- To build up the public school system, a total of P1 billion in fresh funding has been set aside to polish the abilities of teachers in the core competencies of English, Science and Math, Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza disclosed Sunday.

The amount, included in the proposed P1.541-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2010, would be spent for the "in-service retraining" of 276,534 teachers who are non-majors in English, Science and Math, according to Taliño-Mendoza.

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CCP Tribute to Imelda Marcos Draws Flak

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MANILA (Sept. 13) — Survivors of martial law are insulted and progressive artists and teachers are enraged after the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) paid a tribute to former first lady Imelda Marcos, the founder of the center.

Entitled “Seven Arts, One Imelda,” the invitational gala event was held Friday, 8 p.m. at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. According to a press release on the CCP website, the tribute “extols the seven arts through signature pieces created during the period of Imelda’s patronage.” The tribute is one of the highlights of the CCP’s celebration of its 40th anniversary.

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Opposition Senator Says Transparency and IT Key to Improving RP Competitiveness

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MANILA (Sept. 13) -- Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero said transparency and the adoption of a collective “IT mindset” are the key to improving the country’s dismal showing in the recently released Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

“I am not surprised at all by the recent results of the competitiveness report. A closer look at the country’s state of infrastructure and the way business is done, particular with the public sector, would explain everything,” Escudero said.

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No revisions needed; Text tax bill must be junked -- TXTPower

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MANILA (Sept. 13) -- Consumer group TXTPower rejected calls by Malacanang to "revise"the text tax bill approved by the House committee on ways and means,demanding no less than the complete scrapping of the proposed revenue measure.

"The correct and moral position is to junk the text tax. At a time of crisis, the least the government could do is not to add to the daily burdens of consumers," said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz.

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Rep. Maza lauds Filipino women in the passage of Magna Carta of Women into Law

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MANILA (Aug. 17) -- “After all the attempts to block the passage of the Magna Carta of Women, the Filipino women have finally emerged victorious. This is a by-product of women’s continuous struggle for equality and serves as a gateway in support of women’s legitimate concerns.”

This is the statement of Representative Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party as she lauded the Filipino women for the signing of the Magna Carta of Women into law on August 12. Maza was a member of the bicameral conference committee for the Magna Carta of Women and has co-authored the measure the Lower House version of the measure.

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Senator asks for full disclosure on Arroyo SALN

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MANILA (Aug. 12) -- Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday asked for full disclosure on the Statement of Assets and Liabilities and New Worth (SALN) of President Arroyo to erase doubts and end speculations that she had amassed ill-gotten wealth since she took power in 2001.

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OFWs spend up to $22 to send home $500, $14 to wire $200, says World Bank

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Migrant Filipino workers in the United States spend an average of $12.79 to send $500 home to their families in the Philippines, or an average of $11.45 to remit $200.

Filipino workers in the United Kingdom shell out an average of $17.75 to wire $500, or $14.40 to transfer $200.

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RP Congresswoman warns aliens marrying Filipino women for human organs

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MANILA (Aug. 9) -- Foreigners who offer marriage to Filipino women in exchange for their kidneys or other human organs or tissues risk running afoul of Philippine criminal laws, Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza warned Sunday.

"Foreigners cannot procure kidneys from Filipino women in return for marriage. They will definitely be held to account for violating Philippine statutes against the trafficking in persons or their human organs, and/or our laws banning mail-order brides," Taliño-Mendoza said.

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First female president of the Philippines dead at 76

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Corazon Aquino (photo credit: AP)MANILA (Aug. 2) -- Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, who rose to an international symbol of “People Power”, has succumbed to cardio-respiratory arrest yesterday at 3:18 a.m. at the Makati Medical Center.  She was 76.

Aquino served as president from 1986 to 1992, the first woman to hold that position.

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FilAm Activist Testifies Before Commission on Human Rights

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Melissa Roxas takes oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. (Photo Ronalyn Olea)MANILA (July 23) --  The description by Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas of the place where she was brought to be tortured and interrogated after her abduction seemed consistent with what a team from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) saw during an inspection at Fort Magsaysay, a military camp in Nueva Ecija province north of Manila.

This was one of the revelations that came out in today’s CHR hearing of Roxas’s abduction and torture.

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Change in school calendar in RP proposed

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MANILA (July 22) -- In a move that may be following the US, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said his office is reconsidering the option of moving the opening of classes from June to September.

Lapus made the statement after an association of private schools urged the Department of Education to study such plan in light of the many inconveniences caused by the rainy season, which starts in June.

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10 Filipino workers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan

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MANILA (July 22) -- Ten Filipino workers at a NATO base in Afghanistan were among the 16 civilians killed in a helicopter crash at NATO's largest air base in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.  The Russian-owed civilian Mi-8 helicopter slammed into the tarmac at Kandahar Air Base shortly after takeoff.

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CHR vows to protect 'tortured' Fil Am human rights worker

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MANILA (July 20) -- In preparation for the arrival of Melissa Roxas, the Filipino American activist who claims to have been abducted and tortured by elements of the Philippine military,  Leila de Lima, Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, said the CHR "can give protective custody through Karapatan, a human rights group.

The CHR will have a hearing on Roxas's case on July 23, while the Court of Appeals will also consider her petition for a writ of amparo later this month.

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Senator calls for 'no-child-left-behind' policy in education

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MANILA (July 20) -- The government’s short-sighted approach to education remains the main stumbling block to the country’s long-term economic prospects, opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said.

“The world has been moving from an economy of goods to an economy of knowledge. Unfortunately, education, which is the main tool in converting to an economy of knowledge, continues to get scant attention from the government,” Escudero said.

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Consumer group disputes NTC's claims; calls for lower cellphone rates

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MANILA (July 20) -- Consumer advocacy group TXTPower today rejected claims by the National Telecommunications Commission that it is allegedly "powerless" to stop spam messages unleashed by telecommunications firms and content providers on consumers.

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