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Here’s a proposal worth considering: the Commission on Elections has suggested the inclusion of voter education in the college curriculum. The move, according to Comelec officials, will not only educate students about the electoral process as they prepare to vote for the first time, but also about the importance of making informed choices.

The Comelec is supporting a bill filed at the House of Representatives, which seeks to make voter education compulsory in schools. The youth may even have suggestions to improve the electoral process and prevent the many problems that bedevil Philippine elections.

It is said that people get the government they deserve. This starts with making informed choices during elections. Filipinos have to stop sending lazy, incompetent and corrupt people to public office.

Informed and vigilant voters can help prevent vote-buying, cheating, violations of campaign fund regulations and the many other practices that undermine elections. People power in a democracy is manifested through the vote. This power must be wielded wisely if Filipinos want democracy to work.

Vigilant voters can compel transparency among candidates in connection with their campaign donors and expenditures. Politicians have resisted all attempts to pass a comprehensive campaign finance law. Any administration that is focused on fighting corruption, however, should give priority to regulating campaign finance. The seeds of corrupt deals are often planted during election campaigns, with donors cashing in their chips when their candidates win. Young voters may have suggestions on how the public can identify campaign donors who want to stay in the shadows.


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When the founders of the republic declared independence from Spain, 116 years ago today, the revolutionary army was a ragtag band overwhelmingly outgunned by colonial forces. President Emilio Aguinaldo declared the country to be “under the protection of our powerful and humanitarian nation,” the United States, whose armada was parked in Manila Bay.

The revolutionary forces declared Philippine independence at a time when income distribution in the country was widely unequal, with money and power concentrated on a miniscule class that benefited from ties to the Spanish colonial regime. The vast majority of the population was impoverished and lacked education and basic health care.

The armed uprising launched by working class freedom fighter Andres Bonifacio was for this majority. Independence should have meant the masses’ liberation, even if slowly, from poverty and absence of basic public services.

The promise of that revolution remains unfulfilled. The declaration of independence became a best-efforts pledge as Spain was supplanted by a new colonial power. The United States would only let go of its colony half a century later, after a world war, but the Philippines remained under the American security umbrella.

Today, two decades after shutting down the US bases here, the Philippines is exploring greater defense cooperation with the United States as Asia’s new military and economic power, China, muscles its way around the neighborhood. The Philippines is free from its colonial yoke but remains heavily dependent on the international community for much of its external defense and development needs as well as emergency response during natural disasters.


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Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) and flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) are looking at mounting flights to Canada, documents from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed.

The Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific is beefing up its long-haul routes as it looks at flying seven times a week to Canada.

PAL, jointly owned by taipan Lucio Tan and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is seeking seven more weekly flight entitlements to Canada.

The flag carrier currently flies to Canada seven times a week via Vancouver and Toronto.

The Philippines and Canada signed a new air service agreement last May 29.


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More households that depend on remittances from family members working abroad are now saving and investing.

This was according to a recent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) survey, which indicated that in the second quarter of the year, 46.6 percent of remittance-dependent families said they had put a portion of their remittances to grow their savings. This was higher than the 45.4 percent recorded in the first quarter and the highest level recorded since the rate hit 50.4 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

At the same time, families who put part of what they received from abroad to investments climbed to 9.1 percent from eight percent.

“More and more OFWs are getting to be financially literate,” BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said.

“If you look at savings, when the survey started in first quarter 2007, it was only 7.2 percent but today it went up to 46.6 percent… Investments, meanwhile, was only 2.3 percent then but today, it also went up to 9.1 percent,” he said.


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Trade officials from Japan and the Philippines are holding a meeting today as part of a series of dialogues to enhance cooperation in making the latter the preferred hub of Japanese firms in Southeast Asia.

Trade assistant secretary Ceferino Rodolfo told reporters the industrial cooperation dialogue between Japan and the Philippines aims to advance the existing cooperation between the two countries specifically on making the latter the preferred destination of Japanese industrial foreign direct investments.

“What Japan wants is to really make the Philippines its manufacturing hub in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” he said.

Rodolfo acknowledged that while there are already many Japanese firms operating in the country, there are still those interested in checking out opportunities here.

The meeting is also expected to help position the Philippines a human development hub in the region as well as enhance the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises.


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The conflict in Iraq threatening to evolve into a civil war will not cause another upside risk to domestic inflation as oil prices are seen remaining within expectations, a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas official said.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told reporters the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which supplies a third of the world’s oil requirements, has long committed to maintain a level of production.

This also makes oil prices less vulnerable to shocks coming from geopolitical risks like the worsening conflict in Iraq.

“Much of the world’s supply is coming from the OPEC countries so I think with that assurance, we would have a very manageable level of comfort,” Guinigungo said.

Prices of Dubai crude, the benchmark for most countries in Asia, averaged $104.82 per barrel from June 2 to 11, lower than the $105.52 per barrel average in May.


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SAN ANTONIO -- From their low moment in the NBA Finals, back to the top of the league.

The San Antonio Spurs turned the rematch with the Miami Heat into no match at all.

The Spurs finished off a dominant run to their fifth NBA championship Sunday night, ending the Heat's two-year title reign with a 104-87 victory that wrapped up the series in five games.

A year after their heartbreaking seven-game defeat, their only loss in six finals appearances, the Spurs won four routs to deny Miami's quest for a third straight championship.

''Hard to believe, isn't it? Manu Ginobili said. ''We played at a really high level.''


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Binibining Pilipinas - Universe Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa and three governors of provinces that emerged from the 19th century "Empire Cotabato Province" will join the June 25 “provincial governor’s night” here as a prelude to the centennial anniversary celebration of North Cotabato.

North Cotabato, covering 17 towns and Kidapawan City, the provincial capital, will celebrate its 100th year anniversary on September 1 this year.

The governor’s night will be hosted by North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza and her constituent-provincial officials at the provincial capitol in Amas District here.

Lastimosa, who is of Ilonggo descent, is a resident of Barangay Sibsib in North Cotabato's Tulunan town, about 23 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, Kidapawan City.

The beauty titlist and governors Daisy Avance-Fuentes of South Cotabato, Suharto Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat, and Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao will attend the governor’s night, according to Jimmy Sta. Cruz, Mendoza's information staff.


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It’s like being trapped in a bad dream from which one cannot wake up.

“I wish that this was just a dream and I would wake up from it already,” said Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., one of the three senators facing imminent arrest on charges of plunder and graft in relation to the pork barrel fund scam.

Revilla said he would rather face arrest as soon as possible and get it over with.

“I would rather be jailed now than be free with all these apprehensions about my being arrested tomorrow or next week. This is becoming such a burden on my family,” Revilla said in Filipino over radio dwIZ.

Revilla said he is ready to defend himself in court, the process of which he said should start soon so that the trial by publicity against him would end.


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The San Antonio Spurs continued their mastery over the Miami Heat, fashioning out another dominant victory, 104-87, to annex their fifth NBA championship in Game 5 of the Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on Monday.

The Spurs banked on the hot shooting of Patty Mills, who torched the Heat by going 5-of-8 from the 3-point line in the second half. Five San Antonio players scored in double figures, led by Kawhi Leonard who had 22.

LeBron James topscored for the Heat with 31 points in another brilliant individual performance that was hardly enough for Miami.

The Spurs adds another trophy to their collection, having clinched titles in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.


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For the second straight conference, Talk n Text is the PBA playoffs top seed.

Paul Harris anchored another strong Talk n Text windup as the Tropang Texters outfought the Barangay Ginebra Kings, 96-92, to seal top honors in the PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors Cup elimination round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

Earlier in the day, Alaska Milk topped Barako Bull, 90-87.

Victories by Talk n Text and Alaska carried Rain or Shine and San Mig Coffee to an automatic Top Four finish.

In today’s Elasto Painters-Mixers tussle, to be determined is the last team to make the Top Four and enjoy a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.


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Around this same time last year, Enzo Pastor faced a small group of writers for a free-flowing round-table discussion in one of the fine restaurants at Resorts World.

Pastor arrived just as everyone else had settled in. He shook hands with those seated close to him, sat down and said he’s ready to take questions.

The interview lasted more than an hour.

Pastor started out racing go-karts but as he grew older he sought the bigger stage. By the time he turned 21, he was joining Asian F3 races.

He said he idolized Alain Prost.


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Look who’s gone to the United Nations. China, which refuses to participate in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines over maritime entitlements, has taken its territorial dispute with Vietnam to the UN.

Beijing did not take the exact same route as Manila. Instead China’s deputy ambassador to the UN submitted a “position paper” to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, complaining that Vietnam was disrupting operations at an oilrig that the Chinese installed last month in disputed waters. Beijing insisted that Hanoi was infringing on Chinese sovereignty over the area near the Paracel Islands in the Spratly chain.

The Chinese took their case to the UN amid the spread of video footage showing a Vietnamese fishing boat being pursued and then rammed by a much bigger Chinese ship near the contested area. The Chinese then left the area without bothering to rescue anyone from the sinking boat.

The installation of the oilrig has triggered riots targeting Chinese companies in Vietnam. Hanoi is said to be considering taking the same route as the Philippines, which has sought UN arbitration to define its maritime entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China, a signatory like the Philippines to the UNCLOS, refuses to participate in the arbitration, insisting that it has indisputable sovereignty over nearly all the waters around it. How a single nation became so lucky defies explanation.

Still, it is a positive sign that Beijing is now taking the trouble to present its case to the international community. China has lost a lot of goodwill in its own neighborhood because of its bizarre territorial claims and flexing of its newfound military muscle. It can still shift gears and revive its reassurance to the world that there is nothing to fear in China’s “peaceful rise.”


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The Department of National Defense (DND) has rescheduled the opening of bids for its programmed acquisition of major ticket items for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Defense Undersecretary Natalio Ecarma III, chairman of the DND Bids and Awards Committee, informed prospective bidders who signified their intentions to provide the Philippine Navy with two anti-submarine helicopters that the submission and opening of bids for the P5.4-billion project has been moved to June 24 at 10 a.m.

The two anti-submarine helicopters would include munitions, mission essentials and instrument landing system.

Once purchased, the two armed anti-submarine helicopters are expected to be deployed on board the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.

The Philippine Navy has received delivery of three anti-submarine helicopters that were earlier procured from defense contractor Augusta Westland.


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Top state seismologist Renato Solidum on Wednesday urged organizations and local officials to systematically devise mechanisms to lessen damage and casualties if a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hits Metro Manila.

Speaking to disaster risk experts at a summit broadcasted over radio on Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director said that the capital region faces isolation due to collapsed roads and buildings as well as fires.

Solidum explained that a movement in the West Valley Fault, estimated to generate a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, can heavily damage over 100,000 residential buildings. The fault system that runs north to south along the west and east edges of the Marikina Valley poses the greatest threat to Metro Manila.

Metro Manila may be separated into four isolated zones based on geography. Collapsed buildings in Makati and Mandaluyong cities as well as the Pasig River may separate northern and southern parts of the metropolis, while broken road networks will isolate the west and east of the capital.

Manny de Guzman, president of Asia Pacific Institute for Green Development, likened the scenario to the isolation of Baguio City, which was hit by the disastrous 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 1990 .


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China's representative to the United Nations (UN) claimed that the Philippines started the territorial dispute over the South China Sea and accused the country of trying to gain global sympathy.

In a report at the 24th meeting of state parties of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Deputy Permanent Representative Wang Min said the Philippines' accusations against China are "false."

"[W]e must point out that the root cause of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea is the Philippines' illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha islands (Spratlys)," Wang said.

"The Philippines attempts to legalize its infringements and provocations by dragging China into arbitral proceedings. The Philippines is also trying to win international sympathy and support through deception. This is what the problem is in essence," he added.

Wang said pursuant to the provisions of UNCLOS, the Chinese government made a declaration in 2006 excluding disputes over maritime delimitation and territorial sovereignty from compulsory dispute settlement procedures.


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For failing to vote even for herself in two succeeding elections, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was dropped from the list of registered voters by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Arroyo is thus asking the Sandiganbayan to allow her to register anew in her hometown of Lubao to allow her to run for a third term as representative of the second congressional district of Pampanga in 2016.

Through her lawyers, Arroyo said she is willing to shoulder the cost of having to go to Comelec’s Pampanga office including the need for police escorts.

Arroyo, facing plunder charges for alleged involvement in the misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds, is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City.

Defense lawyers said Arroyo has received notice that her name has been deactivated as a registered voter for failing to vote in her province in the past two elections though she ran and won landslide victories.


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Ang Pilipinas ang nagsimula ng agawan ng teritoryo sa South China Sea, ayon sa kinatawan ng Tsina sa United Nations.

Sinabi ni Deputy Permanent Representative Wang Min sa UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) na Pilipinas ang nangunang manakop sa kanilang mga isla sa Spratly Islands.

"[W]e must point out that the root cause of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea is the Philippines' illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha islands (Spratlys)," pahayag ni Wang.

Aniya, idinaraan ng Pilipinas ang kaso sa pagkuha ng simpatya ng ibang bansa.

"The Philippines attempts to legalize its infringements and provocations by dragging China into arbitral proceedings. The Philippines is also trying to win international sympathy and support through deception. This is what the problem is in essence."


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