A shipment of more than 200 used cars and vans arrived on Monday at Port Irene in Santa Ana town in Cagayan province, despite a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the ban on vehicle importation.
II. COMMON SENATORIAL BETS
After Sen. Francis Escudero snubbed the United Nationalist Alliance’s proclamation rally, Vice President Jejomar Binay said that the coalition would likely drop common candidates who could not keep a deal that they should join its campaign sorties. Escudero did not only participate but also failed to send a representative to the UNA rally, unlike fellow common candidates Loren Legarda and Grace Poe.
Meanwhile Team PNoy campaign manager Sen. Franklin Drilon said that they have no “common candidates” with rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). “The three are administration candidates and UNA adopted them,” he said. Drilon also denied that the administration stopped the three from attending the UNA rally.
III. FILIPINA NURSE IN PRESIDENT OBAMA’s STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Menchu Sanchez, a Filipina nurse who led the rescue of hospitalized infants as Superstorm “Sandy” battered New York City in late October was hailed by US President Barack Obama as a role model in his State of the Union Address to the US Congress. The nurse sat beside First Lady Michelle Obama.
Finding love is a matter of destiny that “cannot be planned or pursued” – this is a belief shared by almost four in every five Filipinos (78 percent), according to the recent findings of a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. But more than one in five Filipinos 18 and above, or 22 percent, held that finding love entailed an active effort and may not be left to chance.
V. PRESIDENTIAL LOVE LIFE
Team PNoy candidates took time out from the campaign to give their team leader some advice: go out on a date on Valentine’s Day. Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero, both estranged from their spouses, wished that President Aquino would find love. Another candidate recently separated from his wife, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, said that the President should enjoy a relaxing Valentine’s dinner with a date and listen to his favorite music.
Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara expressed the same hope, saying that the President “deserves it.” President Aquino’s cousin Bam Aquino, who recently got married, expressed hope that the President would find someone who would take care of him as he is taking care of the country.
VI. CARDINAL TAGLE ON FLYING TO ROME
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is sticking to his schedule in the Philippines and will not immediately fly to Rome following Pope Benedict XVI’s historic decision to resign by the end of the month. Church rules give the cardinals 15 days to prepare for the conclave to elect a new Supreme Pontiff.
VII. NEW COMELEC RULES ON POLITICAL ADS
Putting up life-sized “epal” posters to announce government projects including dental missions and feeding programs is now a crime. The new rules issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) cover even the little things that politicians do to grab credit like putting their names or faces on shirts, pens and candy wrappers.
VIII. US FIRM ON HELICOPTERS FOR PH ELECTIONS
A California-based firm Rice Aircraft Services Inc. is offering the government 21 UH-1 or Huey helicopters for P1.2646 billion for use in the May elections. The Philippine Air Force made the request for additional Hueys in 2011.
Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo said that the helicopters will be delivered by March 31, weeks before the elections.
Former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo accused President Aquino of using former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to campaign for pro-administration senatorial candidates. Arroyo said that the Filipinos are fed up with President Aquino using the Pampanga lawmaker as a whipping girl.
“My wife is not a campaign platform,” he said. “He’s just covering up for his inefficiency and failures. It’s been three years already and up to now, the only thing he knows is to hit my ailing wife.”
X. SENATOR SANTIAGO ON ‘PINKY LACSON’
If she is called to begin serving in the International Criminal Court, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago will ask for a delay of one month because she needs time to rake up and expose all the sins of “Pinky Lacson” referring to Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Reached for comment, Lacson said: “I’m sorry to disappoint the lady senator. If she’s insinuating some lunatic idea about my sexuality, let me emphasize this: I am not gay and I don’t intend to be one.”
XI. SENATOR SANTIAGO ON SENATE PRESIDENT ENRILE
After being absent from the public eye for 22 days due to illness, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago appeared in a forum at the University of the Philippines in Manila and resumed her tirade against Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. Santiago reiterated her earlier threats to file a resolution to conduct an inquiry into the veracity of the accounts in Enrile’s memoir.
XII. CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO ON A UNITED SUPREME COURT
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno insisted that the Supreme Court was united despite reports that senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had questioned her appointment of Solomon Lumba, a staff member who was still reporting to the University of the Philippines law faculty.
XIII. EXPANDED ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ACT
President Aquino has signed Republic Act 10364, strengthening the country’s fight against human trafficking by plugging loopholes in the existing law. The government is hoping that the expanded law will improve the Philippines’ status in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report.
XIV. US NAVY SHIP GROUNDING IN TUBBATAHA
Senator Loren Legarda said that she would push for a Senate inquiry into the grounding of the USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that the United States not only violated Philippine laws but is also in offense of international law.
XV. ONGPIN GRAFT CHARGES OVER DBP BEHEST LOANS
Businessman Roberto Ongpin pleaded not guilty at his conditional arraignment at the Sandiganbayan to graft charges in connection with P660 million in alleged behest loans that his Deltaventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) obtained from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in 2009.
XVI. MAYOR HAGEDORN ON THE TRANSFER OF ORTEGA SLAY WITNESSES
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn suspects a conspiracy in the transfer of the remaining state witness in the murder of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega to the same jail where another state witness was killed last week.
Hagedorn said that he suspected “employees of the DOJ working with whoever is working to transfer the witnesses to Lucena.”
Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield arrived in Manila to lead humanitarian efforts for children in typhoon-affected areas in Mindanao, together with Global Village Champions Foundation (GVCF) founder and former musician Yank Barry.
They will meet with Filipino boxing champion and Rep. Manny Pacquiao in Sarangani province to coordinate the foundation’s efforts in Mindanao.
I. PH STOCKS RECORD HIGH
The bellwether stock index charged past the 6,500 territory yesterday, recording its 16th all-time high this year, as local investors continue to bank on the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals.
The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi), the gauge of the local bourse’s performance, climbed 1.05 percent or 68.06 points to end at 6,527.99, eclipsing the previous record of 6,470.49 on February 5.
II. BUDGET DEFICIT
The government posted a budget deficit of P235.3 billion in 2012, lower than the P279.1-billion target for the year, preliminary data from the Department of Finance (DOF) showed.
Last year’s fiscal deficit, which accounted for 2.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, was 19 percent higher than the P197.8 billion reported in 2011.
III. GROWTH TARGETS
Economic growth could hit government targets this year, following a higher than expected performance in 2012. At the same time, the Aquino administration vowed to ensure expansion is sustainable and felt at the grassroots level.
“We are expecting growth of six to seven percent. We expect consumption to continue fueling expansion but at the same time we expect government spending particularly infrastructure and private investment to pick up this year and beyond,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
Achieving investment grade status will cement the Philippines’ reputation as a major investment hub in Southeast Asia and bolster the country’s goal of moving into a virtuous cycle of sustained and inclusive growth, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said.
During the Philippine Economic Briefing, Abad reiterated the government’s optimistic outlook on winning an investment grade rating this year on the back of a robust investor confidence, a resurgent domestic economy and continued commitment to good governance.
V. MONEY SUPPLY GROWTH
Money supply growth accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly two years as policy rate cuts by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) freed up more resources into the financial system, which eventually led to faster loan expansion.
Domestic liquidity – the broadest measure of money in the financial system – grew 10.6 percent to P5.2 trillion by the end of last year, central bank data showed. This was the fastest expansion since June 2011’s 11.4 percent.
Publicly-held Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) of Hong Kong’s First Pacific and JG Summit Holdings Inc. of taipan John L. Gokongwei Jr. have joined forces to boost their chances of bagging the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport project.
This developed as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is no longer inclined on further relaxing the guidelines for the development of the country’s second largest international airport.
VII. NEW COACHES FOR MRT 3
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is speeding up the acquisition of light rail vehicles for the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT 3) to beef up the existing fleet in time for the rehabilitation of EDSA.
“We are publishing soon the procurement of 48 new coaches. As I have said procurement will take four to six months and manufacturing will take one and a half to two years,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said.
VIII. ICAO AUDIT
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is set to conduct a fresh audit on the Philippines next week, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said.
“We are continuously preparing for our audit by ICAO on February 18. It would be a big day for us,” Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said. “We are confident that their concern has been addressed,” he added.
IX. EUROPEAN DELEGATION ON PH DRIVE VS CORRUPTION
A visiting delegation from the European Parliament said the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption efforts as well as its peace initiatives in Mindanao is making the country more attractive to European investments.
“The European Parliament visit underscores EU support for President Aquino’s good governance and anti-corruption efforts that are making the country more attractive to European investment,” a statement from the EU Office in Manila said.
X. JANUARY RICE STOCKS
The country’s total rice stock inventory as of January fell month-on-month and year-on-year with stocks sufficient for 74 days, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).
PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE (PCDSPO)