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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Anti-Distracted Driving Act suspended

THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) has suspended the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act following calls from Congress to review its implementing rules that banned even the hanging of rosaries under rear-view mirrors.
“To respond to the call of both Houses of Congress to defer the implementation of [the law], the Department of Transportation (DoTr), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) take heed to the Congress, being the authors of the law, to defer the enforcement of Republic Act (RA) 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act,” the Transportation department said in a statement.
The DoTr said it would revive its technical working group to conduct a review of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) in coordination with stakeholders. An information and education campaign will be conducted as soon as the new IRR is crafted, the DoTr said.
“In the meantime, we invite the public to continue the constructive discussion on this new law so as to contribute on how we could all better promote road safety, discipline, and responsible driving,” the DoTr said.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito has filed proposed Senate Resolution 386, which sought to temporarily suspend the enforcement of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.
“There is an urgent need to suspend the law’s implementation in order to review and fine-tune the IRR of the law so that the true intent is carried out,” said Ejercito, the vice chairman of the Senate public services committee.
RA 10915 lapsed into law on July 2016 and its IRR was promulgated on April 4, 2017 by the DoTr.
The law lists prohibited acts while driving a vehicle, including the use of mobile communication devices to make a call or write, send and read text messages.
It also prohibits the use of electronic entertainment or computing devices to play games, watch movies, surf the internet, compose messages, read e-books and other similar acts.
But transport officials also prohibited any item on vehicle dashboards and windshields, such as rosaries and air fresheners.
At the House of Representatives, lawmakers called for a massive information campaign before the law’s implementation.
“Yes, the law should be implemented. But considering the prevailing confusion due to lack of information campaign, it would be unfair to the public for the authorities to proceed given that the implementing agencies failed comply with the six-month long information campaign [required in the law],” Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes said.
“The LTFRB appears going overboard on its fresh drive against distracted driving in going after even harmless accessories like rosaries on rearview windows—something that infringes on religious freedom. Besides, many motorists today rely on navigational apps on smartphones to avoid congested roads. It would be unfair to unduly restrict the use of such apps and may even have unintended consequences,” said Camarines Sur Rep. Lray Villafuerte.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, in a statement, said the LTFRB has “no legal basis nor any authority in law to ban hanging rosaries and other religious images from car dashboards.”
“Rosaries and similar small religious items displayed on a car are not even mentioned or subject of Republic Act No. 10913, the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. The law is merely directed to ‘the inimical consequences of the unrestrained use of electronic mobile devices on road safety as to cause its regulation (as) the State recognizes the vital roles of information and communications technology in nation-building’ as stated in its Section 2, declaration of policy,” he said.


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22 dead in blast at Ariana’s UK concert

Children were among 22 people killed in a suicide bombing at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester, the country’s deadliest terror attack in 12 years.
Screaming fans, many of them teenagers, fled the venue in panic after the bomb blast, which came at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande in the northern English city late on Monday.
Police said the attacker was believed to be “carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity” and had himself died at the scene, but gave no further details about him.
One victim reported seeing nuts and bolts that could have been packed into a bomb and said he was injured by shrapnel, others saw glass after the blast smashed windows at the venue.
The blast occurred in the foyer of the indoor arena, a covered area which links the auditorium to Victoria Station, a train and tram hub.
Witnesses reported being near the arena’s ticket machines and merchandise stores, as chaos ensued inside the concert hall.
“The arena was scarily still for five or six seconds, which felt like a lot longer, and then everybody just ran everywhere,” Kennedy Hill, a teenager at the concert, told AFP.
“There were fathers carrying their little girls in tears,” said Sebastian Diaz, a 19-year-old from Newcastle.
Ambulances and bomb disposal teams rushed to the venue, as family members frantically searched for their loved ones, and residents opened their doors to stranded concert-goers after trains were cancelled.
Greater Manchester Police chief Ian Hopkins said Tuesday there was an unspecified number of children among the 22 dead, while 59 people were also injured.
Police believe the blast was carried out by one man and are trying to find out whether he was acting alone.
The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding 700 more.
It also revived memories of the November 2015 attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in which armed men wearing explosive belts stormed in and killed 90 people. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
Manila orders tighter security in concerts
In Manila, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it would roll out its strict “security template” for forthcoming concerts, but urged concert organizers to present their security plans as early as possible to allow inspections.
Grande was set to bring her “Dangerous Woman” world tour to Manila in August.
“We have handled so many international concerts and events [like Ariana Grande’s]. We already have a template for these kinds of situations coming from our local [police]offices, regional offices. If needed, these offices can be reinforced by a national support unit,” PNP spokesman Dionardo Carlos told reporters.
Concert organizers need to coordinate with the PNP before obtaining a permit, Carlos said.
“They should come up with this [security]plan so they can estimate how many people would attend the concert and how much security do they need,” he said.
“So…for example the concert organizers only agreed on getting security component from the PNP for the exterior of their location, anything that [will happen]inside is the responsibility of the organizer,” he said.
‘Evil losers’
Ernesto Abella, spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte, expressed sympathies to the families of the Manchester blast victims.
“We are in solidarity with the United Kingdom in addressing and combating violent extremism,” Abella said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling terrorist attack” and suspended her campaign for the general election on June 8 along with chief opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.
US President Donald Trump led condolences from political leaders across the globe, as well as stars from the world of music and football.
Trump, speaking during a visit to Bethlehem, said “evil losers” were behind the attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned a “cynical, inhuman crime” and offered to boost anti-terrorism cooperation with Britain, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed condolences.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd described the attack as “barbaric” and “deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people, children out at a pop concert.”
“The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed,” said Rudd.
Britain’s third biggest city was hit in 1996 by a massive car bomb planted at a shopping center by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which wounded more than 200 people.
May chaired an emergency ministerial meeting at around 0800 GMT.
Grande has reportedly suspended her world tour following the attack.
“Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry. I don’t have words,” the 23-year-old, who is popular with teens and pre-teens, wrote on Twitter.
Terrorism investigation
Police were called to the scene at the Manchester Arena, on the edge of the city center, at 2133 GMT.
“A lot of these people at the concert were small children and teenagers like my daughter. These were Christmas presents for the majority of people. What should have been a happy occasion has ended like this, it is just tragic,” witness Stephanie Hill told AFP.
Another witness, Gary Walker, told BBC radio he was hit by shrapnel in his foot and his wife sustained a stomach wound as they waited for their daughters.
“Someone came through the doors, then bang,” he said.
The injured were being treated in eight hospitals across the city.
Facebook gave users in Manchester the option of marking themselves as safe following the explosion.
Footballers ‘deeply shocked’
In a city famed globally for its musical traditions and football teams, showbusiness stars and teams joined in to express their shock at the carnage.
“We are deeply shocked by last night’s terrible events at the Manchester Arena. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected,” said Manchester United, who are in Stockholm ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax.
Manchester City’s captain Vincent Kompany wrote on Twitter: “I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. It’s a sad day for the great city of Manchester. #Unity”.
The pop world also rallied, with Katy Perry tweeting: “Praying for everyone at Ariana Grande’s show.”
US pop princess Taylor Swift, a friend of Grande, wrote: “My thoughts, prayers and tears for all those affected by the Manchester tragedy tonight.”


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Duterte repeats China war threat

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has repeated before Russian television China’s threat of war if the Philippines insisted on drilling for oil in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) in Beijing.
In an interview with Moscow-based news channel Russia Today (RT), released upon his arrival in Russia for an official visit on Monday, the President said confronting China would not help because Manila was not ready for war against Beijing.
Duterte, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing last week, said he and Chinese leaders talked about the 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal that trashed China’s claims over the disputed waters.
“I’ve been very frank with them. They said arbitral – I went more than that. I would not tell you what the official said to me, but said ‘We can be friends.’ Then I said ‘I want to drill now, because we want to find…,’” Duterte said.
But he said he was told by the Chinese: “’Please, do not do it.’ And I said ‘Why?’ – ‘Because instead of being friends we will be enemies, and there might be war.’”
“Do you expect me to fight China in a war? Do I have the cruise missiles to hit them? Do I have the missiles to launch when they bomb [us]. So what will happen is there is going to be a massacre,” Duterte said.
Duterte reiterated he would not insist on the arbitration ruling in favor of Manila.
“Never mind about the insistence of the arbitral. At the end of the day it is this: you say it is yours, and I say it is mine,” he added.
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of Philippines in its arbitration case against China over conflicting claims on the South China Sea.
But China ignored the ruling and warned the Philippines against trying to use the verdict as leverage.
On Friday, Duterte claimed that China warned his administration of war if Manila insisted on its ownership of areas in the disputed waters.
The President said the Chinese side issued the warning after he expressed the Philippines’ intention to drill oil in the resource-rich waters, particularly Recto (Reed) Bank.
“We can talk about it later on, but not now, because everybody is grabbing a piece of the property. Maybe when the time comes, when everything is quiet and it’s conducive to talks. And as I said, [we could talk about]joint venture. But not now. No hard selling now. Not yet, because, as I said, everybody is claiming it,” Duterte said.
Recalibration
Duterte has taken a soft stance with China as he seeks billions of dollars in trade and investment from Beijing.
The President is in Moscow for a four-day visit as he recalibrates his foreign policy toward China and Russia and away from the United States.
Duterte said he would rather choose Russia than the US because it is “bright and generous.”
“I’m just playing with my mind that the Russians are brighter than the Americans. I think they are more sophisticated, more precise. And I said that since Russia is brighter than America, I’ll go to Russia. Also, because the Russians are not only bright, they are generous and they help all,” he said
But Duterte also clarified that the Philippines harbors no ill-feelings toward the US, while pursuing closer cooperation with China and Russia.
“I have nothing against America. They’re perfectly alright. [US President Donald] Trump is my friend. But my foreign policy has shifted from the pro-Western one. I am now working on an alliance with China, and I hope to start a good working relationship with Russia,” Duterte said.
The Philippines’ relations with the US turned sour after Trump’s predecessor, former US president Barack Obama, criticized Duterte’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.
Duterte then launched series of profanity-laced remarks against the US and other critics like the European Union.


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Maute group occupies some areas in Marawi

Members of the Maute group have occupied several areas in Marawi City in the restive province of Lanao del Sur, triggering clashes with government troops.
They hoisted ISIS flags at a hospital and several establishments and used a police car with the Daesh flag to block a road.
The attack prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
Several civilians and soldiers, including a policeman, were reported wounded or killed in the fighting, but local security officials did not release a statement on the clashes.
The 103rd Infantry Brigade also did not issue any statement or reports over the daring attacks by the Maute fighters, whose group had pledged allegiance to the ISIS, and vowed to establish a caliphate in the troubled region.
By Tuesday night, the Western Mindanao Command military headquarters in Zamboanga City said troops clashed with about 15 gunmen in the village of Basak. It said the fighting erupted after Maute members attacked security forces sent to the area following intelligence reports that gunmen were hiding in the village.
However, locals said there were dozens of Maute members scattered in the villages.
A building was also set on fire and electricity cut off, making it extremely difficult for security forces to pursue the militants.
Mayor Majul Gandamra, who is holed out with his security personnel at the City Hall building, said there were no soldiers and policemen in areas where the militants were.
He said he asked the military and police for assistance to help protect City Hall, but no soldiers arrived.
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command, said sympathizers of the Maute group also attacked soldiers triggering a gun battle.
“Government forces were able to contain majority of the militants in one area, however, some of their sympathizers conducted diversionary tactics in other locations to divide the attention of the reinforcing military personnel,” she said.
“Operations are still ongoing and other details cannot yet be revealed so as not to compromise operational security,” Petinglay said. She urged locals to refrain from uploading photos or video clip of soldiers pursuing the militants.
Mujiv Hataman, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, condemned “these acts of terror” and said the government stands in solidarity with Marawi “in these dark times.”
“We strongly condemn these acts of terror committed against the people of Marawi City and swear to take immediate action as necessary.
Marawi City is known as the Philippines’ Islamic  City, but it is home to people of different histories, different beliefs. That these acts of terror are happening in a diverse community bound by mutual respect and a shared commitment to peace is a travesty,” he said. 


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Duterte declares martial law, to cut short Russia visit

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao late Tuesday, hours after government troops battled members of a local terror group in Marawi City.
The attack in the southern city prompted the President to cut short his visit in Russia.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who is with the President in Moscow, said he will stay to sign several agreements.
The decision to return to Manila as soon as possible was made after Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following fierce clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group in Marawi City.
“I have spoken to my counterpart here in Moscow and have explained the situation and they understand that the security of the Filipino people especially in Marawi and the whole Mindanao is a priority. They understand that the presence of President Duterte is essential in the Philippines but I will be staying behind. The agreements will be signed and we will have a bilateral meeting with the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov,” Cayetano said in a news briefing.
Cayetano said Duterte “feels that he is needed in Manila as soon as possible” and Palace officials will announce when the President will be flying home.
Duterte was scheduled to be in Russia until May 25.
Soldiers and policemen battled dozens of gunmen protecting one of the world’s most wanted Islamic militants in Marawi City on Tuesday, authorities said.
At least one policeman was killed in the hunt for Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, according to military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano.
The gunmen attacked a hospital during the clashes, Ano said.
“Please advise people to stay inside their houses. We will clear the area,” he said.
He said the fighting began when police and troops raided a house on Tuesday afternoon where Hapilon, the subject of a US State Department bounty of $5 million, was believed to be hiding.
This triggered fierce clashes throughout the afternoon and into the evening, with Ano estimating there were about 50 gunmen. Photos posted on social media by Marawi residents showed the gunmen walking through the streets of Basak, a Marawi suburb of about 1,700 people.
A woman who asked not to be named said that she saw about 10 armed men take up positions at the gate of a government hospital. Police clashed with the gunmen near the hospital, leaving one officer seriously wounded and one of the extremists dead, she added. The military said it could not confirm the militant’s death. Ano said eight security personnel had been injured in the clashes.


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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trump starts foreign tour as scandals mount

RIYADH: US President Donald Trump launched an eight-day foreign tour in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, taking his first steps on the world stage as scandals mount at home.
Trump got a warm welcome in the oil-rich kingdom where he is to hold talks with Saudi King Salman and other senior royals—a mood in sharp contrast to Washington where pressure is building after fresh claims over his team’s alleged links to Moscow.
Air Force One had barely taken off when it was announced that James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump, had agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the US elections.
Reports also emerged that Trump had called Comey “a nut job” and that the FBI had identified a senior White House official as a “significant person of interest” in its probe of Russian meddling.
A red carpet was rolled out and staircase rolled up to Air Force One after it landed at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh shortly before 10 a.m. (0700 GMT).
Trump and his wife Melania, who dressed conservatively in black but did not cover her hair, walked side-by-side to the tarmac where they both shook hands with King Salman.
Trump’s daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner exited from the rear of the plane, holding hands as they walked across the tarmac.
The 81-year-old king, walking with a cane, led the president and first lady into an airport reception room, where they chatted over coffee.
Key speech to Muslim leaders
Trump was to hold formal talks with the Saudi leader and the kingdom’s two powerful crown princes, before giving a speech on Islam to leaders of Muslim countries on Sunday.
For Riyadh, the visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama who Sunni Arab Gulf states suspected of a tilt towards their Shiite regional rival Iran.
That, together with a more muted focus on human rights and the likely announcement of new arms deals, should please Washington’s traditional Sunni Gulf allies, analysts say.
Sunday’s speech to dozens of Muslim leaders has been touted as a major event – along the lines of a landmark address to the Islamic world given by Obama in Cairo in 2009.
The speech will be especially sensitive given tensions sparked by the Trump administration’s attempted travel ban targeting several Muslim majority nations and accusations of anti-Islamic rhetoric on the campaign trail.
“I’ll speak with Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extremism, and embrace a peaceful future for their faith,” Trump said ahead of his visit.
Trump wants Gulf states in particular to do more to tackle extremists such as the Islamic State jihadist group.
Before departing, the US president tweeted he would be “strongly protecting American interests” on his marathon trip.
While most US presidents make their first foreign trip to neighboring Canada or Mexico, 70-year-old Trump has opted instead for the Middle East and Europe.
Avalanche of revelations
He travels to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Monday and Tuesday, and then to the Vatican and to Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings.
The tour has been billed as a chance to visit places sacred to the three major monotheistic religions—Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
But it is also fraught with peril for the real estate magnate, who is known to dislike lengthy travel.
The avalanche of revelations in the run-up to his departure has eroded Trump’s standing at home – where the parallels with Richard Nixon’s ill-fated presidency are now being openly drawn.
On Friday, a report by The Washington Post that the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties had identified a “significant person of interest” in the White House undercut Trump’s insistence his election bid had nothing to do with the Kremlin.
The White House was rocked by another bombshell when reports emerged that Trump said his firing of “nut job” Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him due to the investigation.
The scandals have revived questions about his ability to strike a presidential tone with his foreign counterparts, with Trump declaring himself the victim of the “greatest witch hunt” in American political history.
The first leg of the trip is likely to be the easiest—Saudi leaders welcomed Trump’s election and are keen to work with an administration they see as more in line with their goals.
The normally austere kingdom has put on a major display for the visit, with the streets of Riyadh lined with US and Saudi flags and billboards featuring Trump and King Salman.
Major Saudi arms deal
The expected announcement of an arms deal worth more than $100 billion—potentially one of the biggest in US history—would also be good news for both Trump and the Saudis.
The next leg in Israel and the Palestinians Territories could be more complicated, despite the history of warm ties between Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The visit is already awash in controversy, from a row over Trump’s planned visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest prayer site for Jews, to his alleged disclosure of Israeli intelligence to Russian officials.
After meeting Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Trump will see Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Bethlehem, part of his efforts to revive the long-stagnant Middle East peace process.
On Tuesday Trump heads to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. The two men are at odds on many things from climate change to refugee policy, although the Pontiff says he will give America’s bullish leader an open-minded hearing.
The US president will then meet members of NATO in Brussels and attend a G7 summit in the picturesque Sicilian town of Taormina overlooking the Mediterranean.
These meetings—including with new French President Emmanuel Macron—will be closely watched for signs of whether Trump and traditional US allies in Europe can work together.

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Ex-lawmaker claims Aquino got money from Napoles

FORMER Negros Oriental representative Jacinto “Jing” Paras claimed on Saturday that alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles had told him that former president Benigno Aquino 3rd “was getting commission from her.”
According to Paras, Napoles admitted to this sometime in late 2009 or early 2010 in a restaurant at Linden Suites in Pasig City. Aquino was a senator at the time.
“I was witness to her statement that Noynoy Aquino was getting commission from her, according to her…she said [this]in front of me and another lawyer,” Paras, lawyer of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said during a forum at Annabel’s restaurant in Quezon City.
Sought for comment, Abigail Valte, who was deputy presidential spokeswoman during Aquino’s term as president, told The Manila Times in a text message, “That’s preposterous. Some quarters will do anything to associate the former president with Janet Napoles. So far, no one has been able to go beyond hearsay and speculation, only pointing fingers.”
Napoles was acquitted last month of a serious illegal detention charge filed by the pork scam star witness, Benhur Luy, and is now being considered as a state witness.
The Justice department plans to reinvestigate the pork barrel scam, claiming the previous administration did not run after Aquino’s allies who were also involved in the mess.
Paras on Saturday claimed Napoles told him about the recipients of her political campaign donations.
“Napoles set an appointment with me,” Paras told reporters in an interview. “I asked, ‘Jenny, who will you support this coming election?’ She said, ‘As for me sir, I’m for Manny Villar,’” Paras said.
“Sabi ko, ‘Bakit, ayaw mo ba kay Noynoy kasi he’s gaining ground?’ Sabi niya, ‘Sir e, ano iyan e, nangongomisyon sa akin,’” he said. (“I said, ‘Why, don’t you want to support Aquino because he’s gaining ground?’ She said, ‘Sir, he gets commissions from me.’”)
“This was in front of her lawyer,” Paras said. “I hope she will acknowledge the fact that she said that.”
“If she eventually becomes a state witness, my only request of her is to tell the truth…If what she told me is the truth, I hope she reiterates that,” Paras added.
Napoles, who is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, is among several individuals facing charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel scam.


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Ex-coup plotter is next chairman of MMDA

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is set to appoint retired Brig. Gen. Danilo “Danny” Lim as the next chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Malacañang said on Saturday.

In a text message to reporters, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed that Lim would soon be named MMDA chairman.
Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, in a separate text message, said Duterte was set to sign Lim’s appointment papers on Monday, before leaving for Russia.
MMDA General Manager Thomas Orbos will keep his post, Medialdea said.
Lim, a West Point graduate, was part of the 1989 coup against President Corazon Aquino, which came close to toppling her. He was then a Scout Ranger captain.
Lim was detained on coup charges but was reinstated years later. He was subsequently involved in attempts to bring down the Arroyo administration.
Lim ran for senator in 2010 under the Liberal Party, but lost. He was deputy customs commissioner for intelligence under Aquino until he resigned in July 2013 because of alleged corruption in the bureau.


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Slower driving speeds saves lives – experts

Road safety advocates on Thursday stressed that slower driving speeds have been found to drastically reduce fatality rates in road mishaps.
In the launching of the SaveLives #SlowDown campaign, various groups pledged to raise awareness and push for reforms to advance road safety awareness, including advocating slower driving speeds among motorists.
The campaign was organized by Safe Kids Worldwide Philippines (SKWP) together with Safe Kids Worldwide Network, Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety, Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, Inc. and the World Health Organizations.
The launching of the campaign was hosted by SM Prime Holdings Inc. and was held at the Music Hall of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. It was set to coincide with the United Nations-led Global Road Safety Week.
Jocelyn Yambao-Franco, President of SWKP, pointed to the need to slow down on the road as she cited that recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that road traffic crashes kill an average of 34 Filipinos a day and is the main cause of death for youths aged 15 to 19 years.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.25 million die and over 50 million are injured on road crashes annually and by 2020, road traffic crashes are expected to increase by 80 percent in low and middle income countries due to increasing motorization.
Benjamin Lane, health systems team leader of WHO Philippines, said reducing speed even by just 1 kilometer per hour will save lives.
Jesus de la Fuente, Executive Director of SKWP, agreed, saying that a large portion of traffic road crashes that are fatal are caused by speeding.
“A great portion of our road traffic crashes especially those that are fatal are caused by speeding and it has already proven that a five percent cut in average speed can result in a 30 percent reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes. This is what we hope to achieve in this event,” de la Fuente stressed.
He said if the government and the public do not introduce effective road safety interventions, more people will die or get injured in road accidents.
De la Fuente cited that road traffic crashes have increased in the Philippines for the past several years.
“Government data show transport-related crashes in the country have increased sharply from 15,572 in 2014 to 24,565 in 2016,” he said.
Mark de Leon, assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said they are set to implement various programs that will make roads safer to everyone.
“We are proposing the installation of speed limit devices in all our public utility vehicles as well as dashcams and CCTVs for the protection of not only our riding public but pedestrians. DoTr will make sure our roads are safer,” he said.
In 2011, the WHO launched the Decade of Action for Road Safety which prescribes a framework designed to curb the rising number of road traffic injuries and fatalities in the World.
Following the 2011 Framework on Road Safety, the DoTr spearheaded the formulation of the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan 2011-2020 with the goal of reducing road traffic crashes by 2020.
Royce Cabunag, director of SM Cares Program on Children and Youth, said “In this fast-paced world, not everything needs to move at the speed of light, and the road is definitely a place where slowing down is vital and lifesaving. SM is a proud partner in this advocacy to protect and save lives, especially that of our children.”
SKWP is a non-government organization working for the prevention of unintentional injuries to children 14 years old and below. It addresses issues of road traffic crashes, drowning, falls, burns and poisoning. SKWP is a member of Safe Kids Global Network with more than 30 member countries and 400 coalitions in the United States and the Global Alliance of Non-Government Organizations (NGO) for Road Safety with more than 170 member NGOs from more than 90 countries around the world.


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