The number of Filipinos who said they were happy with life in general hit a record-high in December 2016, according to a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS). Seven percent of respondents said they were “not very happy,” while only two percent said they were not happy at all. ADVERTISEMENTThe latest happiness figure is the highest in 20 years since the 92 percent recorded in June 1996. The December survey found that happiness is highest in Mindanao (94 percent), followed by Metro Manila (92 percent), Balance Luzon (90 percent), and the Visayas (89 percent). Happiness was also highest in class ABC at 98 percent, and among college graduates at 93 percent.
The National Housing Authority (NHA) on Monday did not push through with the planned eviction of members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahirap (Kadamay) who were occupying six housing units in Bulacan after a dialogue with the urban group. In a short statement after the dialogue, NHA spokesperson Elsie Trinidad said the agency will conduct first a profiling of occupants to determine their eligibility. The NHA said occupants should be homeless and not professional squatters. At least 5,000 families affiliated with Kadamay occupied six housing projects in Pandi, Bulacan since March 8. We congratulate Kadamay for showing the world what organized, militant and collective action can achieve,” he added./rga
Also insecurity,” detained Senator Leila de Lima said of her alleged involvement in an ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte. The President himself has accused De Lima, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Vice President Leni Robredo of planning to unseat him. ADVERTISEMENTBut De Lima, who has been detained at Camp Crame over drug charges, denied being part of such plot. In a separate statement, De Lima also hit the “duplicitous behavior” of some administration allies, who want to push through with the impeachment bid against Robredo despite the President’s statement against it. “Typical duplicitous behavior of these men in power now.
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The Court of Appeals has stopped a Nueva Ecija court from taking the deposition of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia to give her side of the story. Petitioners believed that securing a written deposition would be prejudicial to their constitutional rights to confront the witnesses face to face which they added is guaranteed under Section 14, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution. They said allowing the deposition would also be contrary to the previous ruling of the Supreme Court in Vda De Manguerra vs Risos wherein the high court categorically declared that taking of deposition through written interrogatories is applicable only in civil cases and not in criminal cases. Earlier, lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said the local court is correct in allowing the deposition since Veloso who is on death row in Indonesia cannot appear before the court to personally give her testimony. The death sentence on Veloso was temporarily put on hold last April 29, 2015 after then President Benigno Aquino III appealed her case to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
BEIRUT: US backed forces battled Islamic State group fighters around a key northern Syrian town on Monday, a monitor said, hours after seizing a military airport from the jihadists. On Monday morning, SDF fighters pressed their offensive around the base, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. Backed by air power from the US-led coalition bombing IS, the SDF’s Arab and Kurdish units are approaching the town from the south via the airport, and from the north near the Tabqa dam. Abdel Rahman said the SDF was also locked in fierce clashes on Monday near the dam’s northeastern entrance. The Tabqa dam, still held by IS, was forced out of service on Sunday after its power station was damaged, a source there told Agence France-Presse.
MALÉ, Maldives: The Maldives opposition on Monday began impeachment proceedings against the parliamentary speaker in an attempt to destabilize the president after allying with his powerful half-brother—the former strongman leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The move came a day after the exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed announced plans to take control of the 85-member Majlis, or parliament, in a unity pact with Gayoom. He is still nominally the leader of President Abdulla Yameen’s ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) despite falling out with his half-brother. He became the Maldives’ first democratically elected president in 2008 but was narrowly defeated in 2013 elections by Yameen. The Maldives constitution bars Nasheed from being a candidate because of the controversial 2015 criminal conviction.
LONDON: Britain’s economy has for months defied the cataclysmic predictions made by campaigners for staying in the EU ahead of last year’s referendum but its smooth run shows signs of hitting the skids. Prime Minister Theresa May has been credited with a deft handling of the economy in the first nine months since the Brexit vote, aided by the Bank of England’s injections of liquidity into the banking system and unflagging consumer confidence. The economy grew by a wholly respectable 1.8 percent in 2016 and could expand by 2.0 percent this year, according to the latest forecasts. British employers have also been pushing hard for EU nationals to be allowed to continue coming in. Consumers are also beginning to feel the effect of a sharp rise in prices due to more expensive imports—a consequence of the devaluation of the pound on currency markets caused by the Brexit vote.
BEIJING: China’s drug problem is severe and growing, the government said Monday, with particularly sharp rises in the abuse and production of synthetic drugs which have become a major health concern worldwide. Chinese seizures of methamphetamine, ketamine and other synthetic drugs surged by 106 percent year-on-year in 2016, said Liu Yuejin, vice director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission. The use of synthetic drugs at home has also accelerated, it said, noting that drug usage in the country has undergone a “fundamental change” as users move away from opiates like heroin towards newly emerging drugs. In 2016 the number of known drug users in China rose 6.8 percent to 2.505 million. Of these, more than 60 percent consumed synthetic drugs (primarily methamphetamine and ketamine), 38 percent used opiates such as heroin, and a little more than one percent cocaine and marijuana.
YANGON: Myanmar’s army chief defended a military crackdown in Rakhine State on Monday after the UN pledged to probe claims security forces carried out a campaign of killing and torture against Rohingya Muslims there. UN investigators believe security forces may have committed crimes against humanity. Myanmar has long faced criticism for its treatment of the more than one million Rohingya who live in Rakhine State, who are rejected as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh or “Bengalis” despite many living there for generations. Speaking to crowds assembled in the capital for armed forces day, army chief Min Aung Hlaing on Monday defended the military campaign. “The Bengalis in Rakhine State are not the Myanmar nationalities but the immigrants,” he said, according to an official translation.
Philstar.com: I know it hasn't been too long but has anything changed in terms of the dynamics of the national team, international competition, composition of the team etc? Coach Chot: The dynamics have definitely changed, primarily now with the PBA-SBP agreement, which is still a work in progress. Chot Reyes: Marrying the new FIBA competition format to the PBA schedule. Coach Chot: Yes, we are very involved in the youth program. Coach Josh (Reyes) is always on the lookout for young talent to place in the youth program and eventually find their way to the Men’s program.
“I am not inclined to support yet another postponement of barangay elections. Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito took to Twitter to express his apprehensions on the proposed deferment of the barangay polls. “I have apprehensions on postponing barangay elections as to the legal basis. Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno earlier said the President wanted the barangay polls postponed because “he does not want those financed by drug lords to win.”READ: Duterte eyes declaring all barangay posts vacant in OctoberBut Senate President Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel II said that postponing the barangay elections requires a law, especially if the President is proposing that elected barangay officials should be replaced with appointees. Barangay office, barangay post, elective post is a public office based on public trust.
Amend the Constitution first, otherwise declaring all barangay positions vacant and appointing new ones would be unconstitutional, an election law expert said Monday. READ: Duterte eyes declaring all barangay posts vacant in October“After all, the specific positions of “punong barangay” or “barangay councilors” are not provided for in the Constitution which only refers to election of “barangay officials.”ADVERTISEMENT“Since ‘punong barangays’ and ‘barangay councilors’ are mere creation of laws, then barangay councilor positions could be abolished by Congress,” he added. There are 42,095 barangays headed by 42,095 punong barangays and 294,715 barangay councilors (42,095 barangays x 7 councilors per barangay) or a total of 336,810 barangay positions which needed to be filled up if declared vacant. The punong barangay is the chief executive, while the Sangguniang Barangay serves as the community’s legislative body. Macalintal said a mere order to declare “vacant” all existing elective barangay positions and to appoint their replacements would be unconstitutional.
LONDON: Britain’s intelligence expertise may be “too precious” to use as a bargaining tool in the upcoming Brexit talks, experts said, after a terror attack in London highlighted the need for continued European security cooperation. The suggestion that Britain could use security to negotiate with Brussels came following US President Donald Trump’s election and his calls for a more isolationist foreign policy. “If the US does adopt a more isolationist stance, then ongoing security cooperation with the UK becomes more valuable,” the Institute for Government said in November. “This could strengthen the UK’s negotiating hand in Brexit talks, as it could use the promise of ongoing cooperation on security measures to extract a more favourable deal from the EU,” the think tank said in a report. Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech in January talked up the importance of Britain’s intelligence to the rest of Europe, suggesting it could be part of the negotiations.
Communist rebels on Monday trooped to the streets of Metro Manila to mark the 48th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Underground revolutionary organizations under the banner of CPP in Metro Manila led a lightning rally in Cubao, Quezon City, and called on Filipinos to join the NPA. The founding anniversary of the NPA is on March 29. ADVERTISEMENTREAD: CPP set to revive unilateral ceasefire before March ends | Duterte to hold consultations on communist rebels’ ceasefire planThe CPP-NPA on Saturday said they were set to declare a unilateral ceasefire before March 31 or before the formal resumption of peace talks with the government. Earlier this month, government negotiators and CPP representatives agreed to resume formal peace talks and to declare a unilateral ceasefire before negotiations resume in the first week of April, but this was marred days later by NPA attacks in Mindanao.