With or without source code, midterm elections will push through — Brillantes Created on February 19, 2013, 3:22 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Election Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., on Sunday asked detractors to stop casting doubt on the integrity of the 2013 elections in the absence of a review of the source code by political parties and IT experts. He noted that the country held successful presidential and national elections in 2010 even without the physical appreciation of the source code of Precinct Counting Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

The May 2013 midterm elections will use the same PCOS machines, and Comelec is paying the same supplier, the Venezuela-based Smartmatic. This, amid fears of glitches and avenues for fraud because a source code review will again, as in 2010, not be possible.

Filipino sultan says his followers won't leave Sabah Created on February 18, 2013, 4:12 am Posted by nup
Followers of a Philippine sultan who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah this month will not leave and are reclaiming the area as their ancestral territory, the sultan said Sunday amid a tense standoff.
 
Sultan Jamalul Kiram said his followers—some 400 people including 20 gunmen—were resolute in staying despite being cornered by security forces, with the Kuala Lumpur government insisting the group return to the Philippines.
 
"Why should we leave our own home? In fact they (the Malaysians) are paying rent (to us)," he told reporters in Manila.
 
"Our followers will stay in (the Sabah town of) Lahad Datu. Nobody will be sent to the Philippines. Sabah is our home," he said.
 
The sultan did not directly threaten violence but said "there will be no turning back for us."
 
Malaysian officials have said that many of the group have weapons, but Kiram insisted his followers made the trip unarmed.
 
"If they have arms, they were already in Sabah," the sultan said.
 
The southern Philippine-based Islamic sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, and its heirs have been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah.
 
Kiram said he was prompted to send the group to Sabah after the sultanate was left out of a framework agreement sealed in October between Manila and Filipino Moro rebels, which paves the way for an autonomous area in the southern Philippines that is home to the Muslim minority of the largely-Christian nation.
 
The sultanate's spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, later said the sultan's brother Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, who led the group to Sabah, had told him via telephone that the party was preparing to stay.
 
"The objective is to reside now in that place permanently, considering the sultanate owns Sabah by rights of sovereignty," he told AFP.
 
Idjirani said there were about 400 followers of the sultanate in the area, including about 20 who were armed.
 
On Thursday, Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the number at between 80 to 100 gunmen.
 
Idjirani said the group would not instigate violence but would resist if provoked.
 
"We recognize the capability of Malaysia. We don't have the arms and capacity but we have the historical truth," he said, adding that the group's "fate is to see the recognition they are entitled to... or they die defending their ancestral rights."
 
Idjirani said President Benigno Aquino's senior aides had been in contact with the sultan and were willing to deliver a letter to the Malaysian government on his behalf for negotiations. —Agence France-Presse
 
Dancing to end violence Created on February 15, 2013, 8:40 am Posted by nup

HUNDREDS danced in support of the global campaign to end violence against women and children.

Members of nongovernment organizations and government agencies participated in the One Billion Rising campaign that was held simultaneously in Manila, Iloilo, Davao City and Bacolod yesterday at the Ayala Center Cebu.

Leny Ocasiones, Gabriela Cebu party-list chairperson, said the activity was aimed at highlighting the efforts of Cebu-based groups to address various forms of abuse against women and children.

“We want to register our opposition to violence against women and children and be in solidarity with the world,” she told reporters yesterday.

‘Alarming’

“The statistics are very alarming. We have one woman out of every three women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime,” she said.

Geraldine Labradores, The Fair Trade Shop Cebu director, said there are 37 laws and policies that aim to protect women and children, but the statistics on abuse continue to rise.

She said data from the Women Resource Center from January to December 2012, there were 20,359 cases of rape, attempted rape, incest, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

“As a gender that gives life and nurtures life, we need to be empowered,” she said.

“We think we are safe at home, but we are not. We are abused by our husband, father, uncle,” said Thelma Chiong, of Crusade against Violence and Cebu Women’s Network, in her solidarity message.

“We think we are safe in malls,” she said, referring to her daughters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were kidnapped, raped and killed in the late 1990s.

Comelec sees 20,000 media advance voters Created on February 15, 2013, 2:08 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections foresees up to 20,000 media practitioners to vote in advance of the May 13, 2013 elections, a Comelec official said Thursday.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said 15,000 to 20,000 journalists and media technical crew members were expected to avail of the absentee voting option for media members.

“Local absentee voters shall vote any day on April 28, 29 and 30 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.,” the Comelec said in a resolution on absentee voting released Thursday.

To be able to vote, members of the press must first file on or before March 31 their application forms before the offices of the Provincial Elections Supervisors, City Election Officers and the Office of the Regional Election Director for those in Metro Manila, the Comelec said.

Those who can vote in advance include print, television, photo, online and radio journalists as well as documentary makers and television/radio production staffs.

Jimenez said media men should apply “individually,” and not course their application through their offices and also submit a certification from their superiors that they would not be able to vote on May 13 because of a conflict with their election coverage schedule that day.

Media voters’ list

Jimenez said the poll body would later release the list of media personnel who can vote in advance of May 13.

“That is why it’s important that they get the number of election office where they filed their application so that they can check if it was approved,” Jimenez said.

The Comelec said media men should also go to these election offices to cast their votes.

This is the first time that members of the media will be allowed to avail of the local absentee voting (LAV), which previously covered only concerned government employees like members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Comelec decided to allow members of the press to vote in advance after media men Noel Angel Alamar, Ariel Ayala, Leslie Ann Aquino, Gerard Anthony Naval, Sheila Crisostomo and Jennifer Manongdo filed a petition on behalf of other members of the industry.

However, the voting for the local absentee will be manual. The ballots of local absentee voters will be placed inside sealed envelopes and sent to the Comelec head office in Intramuros, Manila.

The Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI) will convene on election day to count the votes cast by all local absentee voters.

 

In 18th year, PhilHealth expands coverage Created on February 15, 2013, 2:07 am Posted by nup

MANILA, Philippines—Members of PhilHealth who have heart problems can now undergo treatment under the national health insurance program following the expansion of a package that previously covered only a few diseases.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona announced during PhilHealth’s 18th anniversary at Edsa Shangri-La Manila in Mandaluyong City on Thursday the release of the expanded Case Type Z Benefit Package, which now covers “catastrophic” illnesses such as severe coronary heart disease, congenital heart defects, and ventricular septal defects (holes in the ventricles of the heart).

Alexander Padilla, PhilHealth executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the package, which was released in July last year, previously covered treatments for breast and prostate cancer and leukemia in children; and dialysis only.

Under the expanded package, those with severe coronary heart disease can consume up to P550,000 for the coronary artery bypass surgery; those with congenital heart defects up to P320,000; and those with holes in the ventricles of the heart up to P250,000 in selected accredited hospitals.

Members with cervical cancer can also consume up to P120,000 for their treatment; and those who wish to undergo a prosthetic surgery for the lower limbs up to P15,000 per limb.

Ona said that authorities were also looking at the possibility of adding other sicknesses to the package in the future, and looking at ways to expand and partner with other accredited hospitals.

“As I said, we are still starting. We are still looking at the kinds of sicknesses that (Filipinos get inflicted with) and the costing in other hospitals,” he said.

In pursuance of this mandate, PhilHealth is tasked to ensure a sustainable national health insurance program, including an expanded government subsidy for the enrolment of the poor and the creation of local health service delivery system to all members.

In its 18th year, PhilHealth aims to rally the entire nation through the PhilHealth-DOH Nationwide Run to stage a push toward bringing universal healthcare into a reality.

The nationwide run on Sunday marks PhilHealth’s 18 years of service to the Filipino people, having been established in 1995. The event’s simultaneous gunstarts across 18 sites in the country emphasize the need for unity in aim and spirit.

In support of the country’s efforts toward achieving the Millenium Development Goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, proceeds from the event will be used to support national and regional institutions promoting the protection of mothers and children in the country. The national beneficiary of the PhilHealth Run 2013 is the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The local beneficiaries vary per region.

RiteMed, the country’s leading uni-branded medicine, hosted Thursday’s press conference announcing PhilHealth’s thrust. RiteMed has an extensive portfolio of products for cardiovascular, respiratory, endo-metabolic, anti-infectious diseases, among others. In 2011, it started a campaign to push for the people’s right to health.

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