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LRT-1 mobile app launched for commuters, local tourists

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LRT TRAIN APP. The ikotMNL mobile app for riders of the LRT-1 features real-time train arrivals and departures, fare information, crowd information in all stations of the LRT-1, and many others. During its launch on Tuesday (Nov. 19, 2019), LRMC Communications and Customer Relations head Jacqueline Gorospe said the app also promotes local tourism by featuring hotspots along the LRT-1 route. (PNA photo by Raymond dela Cruz)

MANILA — The Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC) on Tuesday officially launched the ikotMNL mobile app for passengers of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) — the country’s first one-stop app for train commuters and tourists alike.

The app, available for both iOS and Android devices, features real-time train arrivals and departures, fare information, crowd information in all stations of the LRT-1, safety reminders, passenger advisories, news and announcements, a chatbox for customer concerns, and a feedback form to help the LRMC improve train service and passenger experience.

LRMC Communications and Customer Relations head Jacqueline Gorospe, president and CEO Juan Alfonso, and Information Management and Technology head Randy Sac pose for a photo during the launch of the ikotMNL mobile app at the Islas Pinas food hall in Pasay City on Tuesday (Nov. 19). (Photo by Raymond Carl Dela Cruz)

During its launch in Pasay City, LRMC president and chief executive officer (CEO) Juan Alfonso said that aside from physical improvements of the LRT-1 such as the recent expansion of EDSA Station and ongoing construction of the LRT-1 Cavite extension project, digital solutions to make travel easier for commuters is also a priority of the private rail transport concessionaire.

“We aim to bring transport convenience closer to passengers and be their partner in traveling through Manila,” Alfonso said.

Aside from serving as an information hub for commuters, LRMC Communications and Customer Relations head, Jacqueline Gorospe said the ikotMNL app also promotes local tourism by featuring tourist spots, local restaurants, “food trip” or hangout spots, shopping malls and thrift markets in areas along the LRT-1 route.

“Basically, it encourages everyone to rediscover Manila, visit the nearby tourist spots,” Gorospe said.

The mobile app is also set to be upgraded through a planned partnership between LRMC and beep card for a QR code fare system, as well as tie-ups with merchants to turn the ikotMNL app into a transport, tourism, and lifestyle app in one package.

“We’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort into making the ikotMNL app the best it can be and this early, we already have more features in mind to add to the app,” Gorospe said.

During the event, the official also announced a partnership with both telecommunications giants Globe Telecom and Smart Communications for the provision of free WiFi services in all 20 stations of the LRT-1 which are already available, with plans to also roll out free WiFi services aboard all LRT-1 trains.

Alfonso also said four new trains for the LRT-1 would arrive by the third quarter of next year.

In October, the LRMC announced that the right-of-way acquisition for the LRT-1 Cavite extension project was almost complete and was on-track for partial operability by end of 2021.

Within the same month, the concessionaire began expansion works of LRT-1’s EDSA Station, one of the rail line’s busiest stations due to its connection with the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), as part of the Cavite extension project. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Gov’t urged to monitor retail prices of chicken, egg

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MANILA – A senator on Tuesday called on the government to strictly monitor the retail prices of egg and chicken, given the steep rise in their prices in Metro Manila.

Senator Imee Marcos said the cost of small eggs reached more than PHP6 apiece, with a tray of 30 pieces priced at PHP180 and up instead of the suggested retail price of PHP150.

“There’s no reason for the rise in egg prices because the Philippine Egg Board itself was shocked to find out an increase way above the suggested retail price of PHP5 each, despite steady supply and farmgate prices,” Marcos said.

“This may be an introductory shock, for now, considering it’s not yet December,” Marcos added.

Marcos, meanwhile, noted that the retail prices of chicken increased from last month’s PHP160 to PHP180 a kilo, while wholesale prices were just at PHP123 to PHP128 only.

She said prices of chicken are now pegged at PHP190 to PHP200 a kilo.

“Yes, the cost of chicken feed has gone up and chicken production dipped in some parts of Luzon. But the Department of Agriculture has already said the consumption of pork is going back to normal, so chicken prices should not be that steep,” Marcos said. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

PH dollar reserve piling up as BOP records surplus of $163M

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Except for the month of June this year, the Philippines has been earning more dollars than it has been spending since November 2018 courtesy of remittances from Filipinos abroad and some foreign investments.


This combination led to a large balance of payment surplus by end of October 2019, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).


BSP data showed that overall balance of payment had a surplus of $163 million in October 2019 compared to a $458 million deficit in the same month last year.


In a statement, the BSP said this reflected increases in net foreign currency deposits and BSP income from investments abroad.


Payments made on…

Keep on reading: PH dollar reserve piling up as BOP records surplus of $163M

Camel, cow, donkey found roaming together along Kansas road

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GODDARD, Kan. — Authorities discovered a camel, a cow and a donkey roaming together along a Kansas road in a grouping reminiscent of a Midwestern Christmas Nativity scene.

The Goddard Police Department asked for help Sunday in locating the owners of the “three friends traveling together (towards a Northern star).”

Police said in a Facebook post that if they couldn’t find the owners, they would be “halfway toward a live Nativity this Christmas season.”…

Keep on reading: Camel, cow, donkey found roaming together along Kansas road

Man shoots neighbors dead for stealing his Wi-Fi

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A man in Pakistan murdered a father and son living next door for using his Wi-Fi without his consent.

The man who was named Qasim by the police was arrested for murder today, Nov. 19 as per Samaa TV.

Qasim lives in Shah Latif Town, Karachi, according to the report. Apparently, the culprit shot Haris, who is a student of the University of Karachi, and his father for leeching off his internet connection.

The suspect confessed his crime to the police. Cha Lino/JB


Ex-principal who banned ‘soft porn, homosexual books,’ indicted on 17 child porn-related offenses

Woman tries to smuggle 15 cannabis bricks hidden in fake baby bump, fails…

Keep on reading: Man shoots neighbors dead for stealing his Wi-Fi

Mimaropa to conclude regional tourism dev't plan in 2020

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MANILA— Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) is eyeing to conclude its first Regional Tourism Development Plan (RTDP), which will provide its four provinces a clear path in addressing as one the region’s gaps in its tourism industry.

Ngayong 2020 we’re really starting (This 2020, we’re really starting),” Department of Tourism-Mimaropa regional director Danilo Intong told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday on the sidelines of the two-day Mimaropa Regional Tourism Summit in Pasay City.

“The regional tourism development will be focused on the tourism goal hindi na (not only on the) vision because we already have the vision,” Intong said.

He said the planned RTDP will be implemented alongside the official National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022 of the Philippines, with the former more focused on setting specific goals for each province.

“In the first part of 2020, we’ll pool all the discussion with the stakeholders. By mid-2020, we should have already introduced that (RTDP),” he added.

In destination development, Intong said there are three components the local government must all consider: socio-cultural, environmental, and economic.

But what is happening in most cases, the focus is more on the economic side than the two other components, he said.

Acknowledging gaps’

Intong said stakeholders must recognize the existing gaps in the industry and push for a way to bridge those.

“We need to realize that the gaps are existent and really find ways to bridge these,” he said.

Among these gaps are lack of support facilities and services; access and connectivity through roads and bridges; non-compliances to standards and regulations by establishments to various codes and laws; and disparity of the local government unit’s intent and action taken in tourism development.

Intong led the 1st Mimaropa Regional Tourism Summit from November 18 to 19, with most of the ranking local government officials from Romblon, Marinduque, Palawan, Occidental Mindoro, and Oriental Mindoro present.

During the event, these executives learned from experts themselves studies that identified areas in the region’s tourism industry that need attention. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

DOH reports 1st vape-related lung injury case in C. Visayas

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VAPE-RELATED LUNG INJURY. Department of Health-7 regional director Dr. Jaime Bernadas answers questions from the media during a press conference in his office in Cebu City on Tuesday (Nov. 19, 2019). Bernadas reported a 16-year-old female patient from Consolacion, Cebu as the first vape-related lung injury case in Central Visayas. (PNA photo by Fe Marie Dumaboc)

CEBU CITY – The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 7 (Central Visayas) is closely monitoring a 16-year-old girl, who is reported to be the first victim of e-cigarette or vape-associated lung injury (EVALI) case in the region.

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, regional director of DOH-7, said surveillance personnel from his office are doing further examinations to support the findings of a private pediatric pulmonologist who reported a female patient suffering from lung injury due to vaping.

He said the DOH-7 did not have any idea about the case until their central office informed them about it last week, as the private physician directly reported the case to Manila.

“We were called by the central office to follow up the patient who is supposed to go to the attending physician today. So, there were initial findings that were submitted by the attending physician to the central office in particular because the physician wrote (to them) directly,” he said in a press conference on Tuesday.

As reported by the private physician, the female patient from Consolacion, Cebu smoked both the traditional combustible cigarette and electronic cigarette known as vape, he said.

Bernadas said the patient who was admitted at the Mendero Medical Center in the town of Consolacion initially showed difficulty in breathing.

Upon further evaluation by the attending physician, he said the patient met the case criteria for EVALI based on the guidelines of the US Centers for Disease Control.

After several dosages of medications, however, the patient was reportedly discharged from the hospital.

“As per initial report by the physician, this is attributed to e-cigarette use. We will be trying to do further examinations,” Bernadas said, adding that they based their findings on the diagnosis from the hospital records.

The regional director of DOH-7 warned smokers about the effects of “vaping”.

He said he supported the move of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the sale of vape or e-cigarette in the market.

“Because they are still smoke. Second, it has chemical components. If there are chemical components, there are tendencies for lung injury irritation, allergies if you have (it), chemical intoxication if you have (it),” he said.

He urged parents not to allow their children, especially minors, to use vape and e-cigarettes. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Relief Goods Free Transportation bill passed on 2nd reading

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MANILA — The House of Representatives approved on Tuesday on second reading the proposed Relief Goods Free Transportation Act that seeks to facilitate the quick delivery of relief goods and donations to calamity-stricken areas.

HB 5070 aims to bring immediate relief to victims of natural or man-made disasters when government resources are not available or are insufficient to address the needs of the emergency.

It mandates the Logistics Cluster of the Office of Civil Defense, in coordination with the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) and all freight companies, common carriers, private carriers, freight forwarders, other companies providing logistic services in the Philippines to provide free freight services to duly registered relief organizations in the transportation of emergency relief goods and donated articles to areas declared to be in a state of calamity.

These common carriers, freight forwarders and other entities are mandated to deliver goods and services free of charge to areas where they operate.

If the calamity-hit area is not accessible, the relief goods shall be delivered to the nearest local government unit and shall be consigned to the concerned local chief executive.

HB 5070 also mandates that certain shipping auxiliary cost, such as those for arrastre services, pilotage and other port charges that are routinely passed on to customers shall be borne by the concerned arrastre, pilotage and port authorities, provided, that container van costs, turnaround time and volume of cargo being shipped for free shall be considered to minimize the loss of profits of the private sector.

The measure also directs the Law and Order Cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Council to provide security and traffic management assistance to facilitate the speedy movement of people, goods and equipment to the affected population and responding agencies. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Dinagyang pushes for strengthened devotion to Sto. Niño

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DEVOTION TO STO. NIÑO. Sto. Niño images mounted on a “trisikad” join the solemn foot procession of the Dinagyang Festival in 2019. The San Jose Church is hoping to account the images to join the solemn foot parade in 2020. (PNA file photo by Perla G. Lena)

ILOILO CITY — The 2020 Dinagyang Festival will be seeing more initiatives to strengthen Ilonggos’ devotion to Señor Sto. Niño.

Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc. (IFFI) president lawyer Jobert Peñaflorida said that they made sure that there is access going to the San Jose church in front of the Plaza Libertad.

“Aside from access to the grandstand, we really wanted to provide access to the church. Not all can hear mass because roads are closed,” he said in an interview.

He added that the stretch of the Muelle Loney and other alternative roads are open to traffic.

The San Jose church spearheads big religious events such as the religious “sadsad” (merry-making) and fluvial procession and solemn foot parade.

During the “sadsad”, which is set on the evening of January 25, 2020, the church is proposing three LED walls to be mounted in strategic places.

“Augustinian priests will be assigned a station so that not everybody will flock on the main stage for the blessing and distribution of souvenirs,” said Rev Fr. Raymund Edsel Alcayaga, O.S.A. in a follow-up interview on Monday.

The merry-making will start with a 5 p.m. mass and will end with a fireworks display past 9 p.m.

Meantime, another event is the fluvial parade and solemn foot procession set on January 24, 2020. The organizer is planning to invite Catholic schools to join the fluvial procession.

Alcayaga said they will also try to identify and account the images and even “live” Sto. Niños joining the solemn foot parade.

“We cannot stop them, because it is their expression of love for Sto. Niño. We may try this year to identify and count them, including the live Sto. Niños,” he said as in the past they estimated that more than a hundred niños joined the procession. Live Sto. Niños are children dressed as the Infant Jesus.

Alcayaga hoped that tribes will treat the Sto. Niño images as “sacred” just like the way it is being done in Cebu. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

1,497 families evacuate in Cagayan as 'Ramon' hits northern PH

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CAGAYAN FLOOD. Task Force Lingkod Cagayan personnel monitor the flood at Tawi bridge in Peñablanca, Cagayan on Tuesday (Nov. 19, 2019). At least 1,497 families or 5,487 people evacuated in 11 towns of Cagayan province on Monday night as Typhoon “Ramon” hit the northern Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Task Force Lingkod Cagayan)

TUGUEGARAO CITY — At least 1,497 families or 5,487 people trooped to evacuation sites at schools and village halls in 11 towns of Cagayan province on Monday night as Typhoon “Ramon” (Kalmaegi) hit the northern Philippines, disaster management officials said.

Governor Manuel Mamba suspended classes in all levels for the second day on Tuesday, Nov. 19, to ensure the safety of students.

However, work in both public and private offices and establishments resumed after being suspended on Monday, acting provincial information officer Rogelio Sending Jr. told the Philippine News Agency.

Task Force Lingkod Cagayan chief Rueli Rapsing said power supply had been cut off in Santa Ana and Gonzaga as “Ramon” pummeled the province.

Bagging operations were conducted at Buguey shorelines, particularly in flood-prone Paddaya West, Mayor Lloyd Antiporda said.

On the other hand, Allacapan Mayor Harry Florida said landslides blocked the provincial road in their area.

Five boat crew members were stranded at Aparri port as the bad weather forced them to delay travel to Calayan Island in Cagayan.

In Apayao, the provincial disaster risk reduction management office reports said at least 150 families were evacuated to village halls and schools due to floods and landslides.

In the City of Ilagan, the Baculod bridge went under floodwaters and was closed to traffic. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Vista Land, Mitsubishi Estate form joint venture

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MANILA — Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. (VLL) has teamed with Japanese real estate developer Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd (MEC) to develop a mixed-use, high-rise condominium along Taft Avenue, Manila.

The partnership is being formed through a 60:40 joint venture company between VLL’s vertical development arm Vista Residences, Inc. (VRI) and MEC’s subsidiary Mitsubishi Estate Residence Co., Ltd. (MER).

VLL President and Chief Executive Officer Manuel Paolo Villar said “This joint venture is a testament to the increasing trust and confidence of customers and investors alike in Vista. It highlights our growing profile not just with buyers but also with existing and potential partners, both here and abroad.”

This will be the MEC Group’s first residential development project in the Philippines.

“We are confident that this collaboration shall bring about a skillfully engineered and beautifully designed tower at the heart of the university cluster in Taft, and we hope to explore more opportunities with Vista Land to develop the rich potential of the real estate industry in Asia. We believe this joint venture is only the beginning, paving the way for a long-term and fruitful partnership,” MER Director and Senior Managing Executive Officer Yutaro Yotsuzuka said.

VLL is a recognized authority in homebuilding and community development with established presence all over the Philippines, while the MEC Group boasts of a diversified portfolio that has expanded to international markets including the US, UK, Australia, and other countries in Asia.

This joint venture is an opportunity for both companies to combine their architectural, engineering, and technological expertise for a project that will address the rising demand of the student population in Taft.

The condominium offers over 1,000 residential units spanning 32 stories, plus seven floors of parking spaces and one ground floor featuring various commercial establishments.

It is set to be launched in the first half of 2020, with turnover targeted in the second half of 2024. (PR)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

CAAP warns of air traffic obstruction near Mactan airport

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AIR TRAFFIC OBSTRUCTION. Engr. Francisco Alconera of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines explains to local government officials and representatives of business establishments near the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) about the Obstruction Limitation Surface policy during an awareness seminar on Monday (Nov. 18, 2019). Alconera reminded owners of establishments to ensure their buildings’ height is within the limit to prevent obstruction to air traffic. (PNA photo by Fe Marie Dumaboc)

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday reminded owners of establishments in this resort island city to be mindful of height restrictions for structures built within the radius of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) even as it warned them of air traffic obstruction.

During an awareness and orientation seminar on the airports’ obstruction limitation surfaces (OLS) policy held at the MCIA on Monday afternoon, Francisco Alconera, chief of the survey, aerodrome development and management service of CAAP, said local government units (LGUs) should not approve building permit applications for high-rise buildings that will go beyond the 51-meter height limitations within the 24-kilometer radius from the MCIA.

Alconera said height restrictions under the OLS policy will guarantee obstacle clearance for aircrafts performing approach, departure, and circling procedures within the airport’s 24-kilometer radius.

In a 2017 survey, CAAP found several establishments on Mactan Island that violated the height limit, he said.

He mentioned two big hotels — Movenpick and Mactan Newtown — that are located within the four-kilometer radius from the airport but their structures are beyond the required 51-meter height limit.

“Yes, there is obstruction. These establishments are already beyond the standard. But it does not mean that it’s no longer safe. So, the question is, if there are those that violated, what shall we do? That’s the reason why we conducted an aeronautical survey to adjust the height in order to inform the pilots that there are high-rise buildings in the area that he should be careful of upon descending,” Alconera said in Cebuano.

He said pilots will be advised to take extra precaution when their aircraft reach the skies along the Mactan Newtown area and to refrain from flying below 76-meters — the height of the buildings here — in order to prevent accidents especially during bad weather.

Using the results of the recent survey, CAAP adjusted the OLS sent to the air operators, Alconera said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency after the seminar.

Along the four-kilometer radius, CAAP adjusted the height limitation from 51 meters to 80 meters, he said.

Present during the seminar were heads and representatives of the Office of the Building Officials of the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu, and Talisay and towns of Cordova, Liloan and Consolacion which are within the 24-kilometer radius from the airport.

Building engineers from MCIA and GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) also attended the activity.

“OLS orientation, one of the things that we have been trying to work on, two years ago we have the orientation, but we have to keep on refreshing, so that lessons we learned back then will not be forgotten,” lawyer Steve Dicdican, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager, said.

Dicdican also said that preserving OLS would ensure safety in airport operations.

“The maintenance of the OLS is very critical. We all know that Cebu is booming, and there are high-rise structures sprouting everywhere. While development is good, we cannot let the development obstruct our aircraft aerospace, because how can our tourists, businessmen come to the city in the island if the airport cannot be landed on,” he added.

Alconera urged establishments not to build high-rise buildings near the runway.

“Our job is to update if there are obstructions. Actually, our mandate is more on to the safety, to notify the pilots or air operator if there are obstructions, and we’ll write letters informing LGU’s about the survey, and remind them to (strictly) implement National Building Code,” Alconera added. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

DPWH research symposium focuses on sustainable infrastructure

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Published November 19, 2019, 5:48 PM

By Betheena Kae Unite

Ten outstanding studies on disaster resilience, seismic assessment, and road construction technologies were recently showcased in a research symposium hosted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Bureau of Research and Standards (BRS).

Researchers from De La Salle University, Ingevity Corporation, Mapúa University, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Geobrugg AG, Maccaferri (Philippines), Inc., Shell Bitumen Philippines, and the BRS presented their papers at the 5th Research Symposium held at the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP-D) in Quezon City early this month.

The symposium, dubbed “Building the Future towards Sustainable Development,” highlighted scholarly and practical initiatives to improve the stability and resiliency of built infrastructure.

According to the agency, the topics discussed were disaster resilience, seismic assessment,

Read More DPWH research symposium focuses on sustainable infrastructure

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

SC orders copra exporting firms to pay BDO P833 M in loans

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Published November 19, 2019, 5:46 PM

By Rey Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed a Court of Appeals’ (CA) ruling that ordered a copra exporting firm and its affiliated companies to pay Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc. (BDO) P833.5 million in unpaid loans accumulated since 1960.

Supreme Court (SC) (MANILA BULLETIN)

In a resolution issued by its third division and made public last week, the SC also increased the attorney’s fees payable to BDO from P25 million to P41.6 million.

“Acting on the petition for review on certiorari assailing the decision and resolution, dated Nov. 22, 2018 and July 3, 2019, respectively, of the Court of Appeals, the Court resolves to deny the petition for failure to show any reversible error in the challenged decision

Read More SC orders copra exporting firms to pay BDO P833 M in loans

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

Speaker Cayetano defends spending P50-million for priceless work of art

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Published November 19, 2019, 5:40 PM

By Hannah Torregoza

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday defended the controversial P50-million stadium cauldron to be used in the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, saying the country’s own is actually cheaper than the one built by Singapore.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

In contrast to Singapore’s cauldron, the cauldron at the New Clark City (NCC) is designed by the late national artist for architecture Bobby Mañosa, was under the Philippine Sports Committee (PSC), and thus considered a “work of art.”

“The cauldron that has been put in the spotlight is cheaper than what was built by Singapore four years ago—P63-million,” said Cayetano, chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Committee (PhisGoc) Foundation Inc.


Read More Speaker Cayetano defends spending P50-million for priceless work of art

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

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