5.4 quake hits northern Mindoro, other parts of Luzon

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A 5.4 magnitude quake struck 19 kilometers northeast of Looc on Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro at 9:50 p.m. on October 19 and was felt in a large area of Luzon, including in seven cities of Metro Manila.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injury from the offshore quake that occurred at a depth of 100 kilometers.

It was felt at Intensity V in the neighboring city of Batangas, Intensity IV in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Tagaytay City, and in the Metro Manila cities of Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Parañaque and Muntinlupa.

Intensity III hit Clark in Pampanga, General Trias and Bacoor in Cavite, Malolos and Obando in Bulacan, Agoncillo and Talisay in Batangas, Quezon City and Taguig City.

Intensity II was felt in Pateros in Manila, Antipolo City and in Lucban, Quezon

The Philippines sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Lando weakens

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Slow-moving Typhoon Lando has further weakened as it exited the landmass of Ilocos Norte, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

As of 10 p.m. on October 19, Lando was located 45 kilometers west-northwest of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. It has maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 120 kph.

It was moving north northeast at six kph.

Signal No. 2 was raised in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Apayao and Northern Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan group of Islands.

Signal No. 1 was raised in La Union, Pangasinan, Ifugao, Benguet, Batanes, Isabela, Rest of Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Mt, Province and Kalinga.

The estimated rainfall amount is from heavy to intense within the 600 km diameter of the severe tropical storm.

Fisherfolk are advised not to venture out over the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.
Storm surge may reach to a maximum of up to two meters in the provinces affected by the severe tropical storm.

Forecast positions

• 24 hour (tomorrow evening): 115 km West of Calayan, Cagayan
• 48 hour (Wednesday evening): 90 km Southwest of Itbayat, Batanes
• 72 hour (Thursday evening): 80 km North Northwest of Itbayat, Batanes
• 96 hour (Friday evening): 225 km North of Itbayat, Batanes
• 120 hour (Saturday evening): 390 km North of Itbayat, Batanes

PH wants Asean position on China naval drills

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MANILA–The Philippines wants Southeast Asian nations to discuss China’s proposal of holding naval drills with the Association of Southeast Asian Nation countries in the South China Sea.

“The Philippine position will be discussed in Asean. Hintayin na lang po natin ‘yung magiging discussion na ito,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said when asked to comment on China’s proposal.

China’s defense minister said on Friday he was willing to hold joint drills in the disputed South China Sea with Southeast Asian countries to prevent accidental encounters and for the effective conduct of search and rescue operations.

China’s relations with several Southeast Asian countries, especially the Philippines and Vietnam, have soured in recent years because of the Asian giant’s assertive posture in the region.

China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea, which is a major sea lane for trade.

As to the meeting of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin with the representative of China and the improving relations between the two countries, Valte reiterated the multifaceted relations of China and the Philippines despite their differences in the South China Sea issue.

“We have always maintained that our relationship with China is multifaceted—meaning, maraming level, maraming pinag-uusapan,” Valte said.

“At naniniwala naman tayo na kahit mayroong sigalot involving our neighbor, we will always endeavor to do well and to deepen the other facets of our relationship,” she added.

“Our lines of communication have always been open when it comes to discussing the other facets of our relationship,” Valte said.

Valte also commented on the plan of the US to fly surveillance planes in the South China Sea to insist freedom of navigation saying it’s up to the US to carryout such military activities.

The Philippines has no right to dictate on what another country wishes to do on a particular situation, she said.

Valte emphasized however that freedom of navigation and regional stability must be maintained in the area because a good bulk of world trade passes through that region.

“It is important that parties are free to pass through without any intimidation or harassment, and everyone follows international law,” she said.

29 provinces under storm warning signals

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Public storm warning signals have been raised in 29 provinces in Luzon  as Typhoon Lando continued to move west-northwest at five kilometers per hour, the Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

At 10 a.m. today, October 18, Lando was located in the vicinity of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija carrying maximum sustained winds of 150 kph and gusts of up to 185 kph.

Below were the areas placed under storm signals:

Signal No. 3
Aurora,
Quirino
Nueva Vizcaya
Nueva Ecija
Benguet
Ifugao
Mountain Province
Kalinga
La Union
Pangasinan

Signal No. 2
Cagayan, including Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands
Isabela
Abra
Apayao
Ilocos Norte
Ilocos Sur
Zambales
Bataan
Tarlac
Pampanga
Bulacan
Rizal
Northern Quezon, including Polilo islands
Metro Manila

Signal No. 1
Batanes
Cavite
Laguna
Batangas
Rest of Quezon

Aquino declares holidays for 2016

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President Benigno Aquino declared 21 special and regular holidays for 2016.

Through Proclamation No. 1105, Aquino declared the following as holidays:

Regular Holidays

  • New Year’s Day 1 January (Friday)
  • Maundy Thursday 24 March
  • Good Friday 25 March
  • Araw ng Kagitingan 9 April (Saturday)
  • Labor Day 1 May (Sunday)
  • Independence Day 12 June (Sunday)
  • National Heroes Day 29 August (Last Monday of August)
  • Bonifacio Day 30 November (Wednesday)
  • Christmas Day 25 December (Sunday)
  • Rizal Day 30 December (Friday)

Special (Non-Working) Days

  • Chinese New Year 8 February (Monday)
  • EDSA People Power Revolution 25 February
  • Black Saturday 26 March
  • Ninoy Aquino Day 21 August (Sunday)
  • All Saints Day 1 November (Tuesday)

Additional special (non-working) days

  • 2 January (Saturday)
  • 31 October (Monday)
  • 24 December (Saturday)
  • 31 December (Saturday)

The declaration of Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha as national holidays will be issued “after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar (Hijra) or the lunar calendar, or upon Islamic astronomical calculations, whichever is possible or convenient,” the proclamation said.

Aquino appoints new DILG chief

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President Benigno Aquino has appointed Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento as the new secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Sarmiento replaced  Mar Roxas, who resigned last July after being announced by the ruling Liberal Party as its standard bearer.

In his farewell speech last September 11, Roxas expressed his appreciation for Sarmiento, who was responsible for transforming Calbayog City, where the Western Samar representative earlier served as mayor for three terms, into one of the most progressive cities in the country.

“He was the secretary general of the League of Cities. He was a three-term city mayor, transforming Calbayog into a very progressive city in Western Samar,” Roxas said about his successor.

“His integrity, nearly 20 years of public service, ni minsan, hindi nadapuan ng kahit anong mantsa, kahit anong anomalya ang kanyang pangalan. So may integrity, may competence, and of course, may experience,” Roxas continued.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, meanwhile, described Sarmiento as a quiet leader who is not hungry for publicity, a trait which he shares with Roxas. Both Belmonte and Sarmiento emphasized teamwork and unity, especially in working with local government officials, noting that nation building and inclusive goals cannot be achieved if not united.

“However good we are, without teamwork na nag-iisa tayo, ‘di natin nagagamit ang lakas ng lahat,” said Belmonte.

For his part, Sarmiento praised the reforms that Roxas initiated during his term, particularly the anti-poverty initiatives such as Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB).

“Talagang napakasuwerte ng mga local government unit. Parang ibinalik ni Secretary Mar ang original na pangalan ng departamentong ito, which used to be Local Government and Community Development. Through the BUB, naibalik ‘yung ‘community development,’” he said about his predecessor.

Sarmiento also expressed his gratitude to Aquino, who handpicked him for the post.

“I thank President Aquino for giving me this opportunity to continue the reforms being implemented now… many of which were among those that we usually talked about with the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo when we were still city mayors,” Sarmiento said, referring to the beloved Naga City leader who passed away in 2012.

Sarmiento plans to focus on the existing projects of DILG to make sure that the reforms set by Roxas can be sustained. He also promised that his new position will not affect the integrity of the upcoming 2016 elections.

‘Super bridge’ that will link Mindoro, Batangas on government’s list of priority projects

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A 15-kilometer proposed “super bridge” project that will connect Mindoro Island to mainland Luzon is now on the list of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) priority projects.

The project, estimated to cost about P18 billion, was based on a proposal submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways by Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr.

The bridge is deemed to “maximize the current position of Mindoro Island as ‘Luzon’s Gateway to the South’ to the Island Provinces of Visayas and Mindanao Region through opening roads to faster and efficient transport of goods and people along the existing Nautical Highway,” the DPWH said in a project description.

Construction is expected to last for five years.

Umali, who is the president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines, said that San Miguel Corporation has expressed interest in building the bridge under the public-private partnership venture.

The bridge will cover the 8.5-kilometer distance from Mindoro Island to Verde Island and 6.5-kilometer distance from Verde Island to Batangas, over a 10m – 300m water depth.

It will have two or four lanes and can withstand strong and high speed winds.

The provincial government believes the “super bridge” will cater to the increasing demand for expansion and optimization of basic industries or utilities like water, power, oil, and telecommunication.

It is also expected to boost agriculture and ecotourism.