Interior Secretary Mar Roxas yesterday said that the powerful explosion that ripped through an apartment in Two Serendra in Bonifacio Global City on May 31 was “most likely” caused by a gas leak.
In a detailed presentation of the results of an interagency investigation a week after the explosion, Secretary Roxas said that the probers, including engineers and scientists, ruled out the possibility that the blast in Apartment 501B was caused by a bomb.
Meanwhile, Marianne Cayton-Castillo, the owner of Unit 501-B that exploded, arrived from the United States yesterday to help in the investigation on the blast. She said that her family is traumatized and that they are also victims of the incident.
II. PRESIDENT AQUINO AT THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
Being called the “brightest spark” in Southeast Asia and “Asia’s Rising Tiger,” President Aquino told businessmen attending the 22nd World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia that the Philippines was ripe for investments. The President touted the reforms and the new mandate his administration received from the Filipino people in the last midterm elections.
Public satisfaction with the government’s performance slightly declined in the first quarter of the year but stayed in “very good” territory, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.
The SWS poll, conducted from March 19 to 22, found 68 percent of 1,200 respondents satisfied and 15 percent dissatisfied with the Aquino government’s work, for a net rating of 53.
IV. AYALA LAND ON SERENDRA BLAST INVESTIGATION
Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) reassured the government yesterday of its cooperation in the investigation into the May 31 explosion at Two Serendra as well as in ensuring the safety of unit owners and tenants of the condominium.
“A more definitive pronouncement on the cause as well as what triggered the explosion will be the subject of more analysis and consultation with experts,” ALI said.
V. PROBE ON BALINTANG CHANNEL INCIDENT
Filipino and Taiwanese investigators have compared notes in their separate but cooperative investigations into the fatal shooting of a suspected Taiwanese poacher by members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) off Balintang channel last May 9.
NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations lawyer Virgilio Mendez told reporters after the meeting that both sides agreed on the same coordinates of the site of the incident. But as to whether the specific area falls within Philippine or Taiwanese territory, he said there are still documents the NBI needs to get from their counterparts before coming up with a conclusion.
VI. REAPPOINTMENT OF BYPASSED CABINET MEMBERS
The 15th Congress adjourned sine die last Thursday with four Cabinet members bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
The Office of the President said that President Aquino would reappoint bypassed Secretaries Ramon Paje of the environment and natural resources, Jericho Carlos Petilla of energy, Leila de Lima of justice and Corazon Soliman of social welfare and development.
VII. BUHAY PARTYLIST PROTEST OVER FEWER HOUSE SEATS
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal of party-list group Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) yesterday protested the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) decision to allot only two congressional seats to it, after the Supreme Court directed the electoral body to “reserve seats” for the party-list group Senior Citizens.
Macalintal said that the Comelec cannot rescind without due process its May 28 pronouncement giving Buhay, which topped the 2013 party-list elections, three congressional seats.
VIII. UNA ON JOINING LP-LED MAJORITY IN THE NEXT CONGRESS
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has yet to make up its mind whether or not it would join the Liberal Party-led majority coalition in the 16th Congress.
“The eight of us have yet to discuss the matter. As of now there is no decision yet,” Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco said.
Militant farmers in Hacienda Luisita accused the military yesterday of harassing them to compel them to form into block sugar farming units as soon as they receive their agrarian land allocation this month.
Lito Bais, Chairperson of the United Luisita Workers Union and leader of Ambala (Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita), said that truckloads of soldiers motored to Barangay Asturias on June 5 to seek out Ambala leaders.
But Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija, said that it was an alleged plan by the New People’s Army to bring guns and explosives into villages inside Hacienda Luisita that prompted the military and police to undertake a two-day operation there.
X. MEETING WITH USPACOM COMMANDER
The commander of the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) discussed with top defense and military officials the tension in the West Philippine Sea behind closed doors yesterday.
Visiting USPACOM commander Adm. Samuel Locklear III also took up with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano the PH-US defense and military relations at Camp Aguinaldo.
XI. THINK-TANK GROUP ON CRUCIAL REFORMS NEEDED FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Victor Andres C. Manhit, president of the advisory and research consultancy group Stratbase Research Institute, said with President Aquino’s allies dominating both the Senate and the House of Representatives, he “now has a greater opportunity to address pending issues on reforms that will increase investments, directly generate jobs and sustain the economic momentum.”
In the group’s online publication Spark, Manhit said that opening the economy to foreign investments and improving the manufacturing and agriculture sectors would generate thousands of jobs for Filipinos and lift them out of poverty.
XII. PAGASA MODERNIZATION BILL
A Malacañang-certified bill seeking to modernize the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) will be refilled in the next Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III blamed the lack of quorum for the failure to pass the bill last Thursday.
XIII. HOAX BOMB THREAT AT BGC
Tenants and employees working inside the 15- story Net One Center building at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig were evacuated yesterday afternoon following a bomb threat.
Southern Police District director Jose Erwin Villacorte said that no explosive, however, was found in the building at the corner of 26th and 3rd avenues after a sweep for explosives by bomb sniffing dogs.
XIV. AMPATUANS’ JUNKED PETITION
After more than three years of legal tussles, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Regional Trial Court Branch 221 has junked the bids of Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr. and Sajid Islam Ampatuan challenging their indictment for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, paving the way for their arraignment.
XV. NAIA FLIGHT DIVERSION
Several commercial flights were diverted from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Clark International Airport after a Korean passenger plane slid past a secondary runway due to heavy rains last night.
An airport official, who asked not be identified, said that Jeju Air Flight 7C-2301 from Incheon, South Korea missed a few meters of the runway while going to Bay 2 of NAIA Terminal 1 at about 11 p.m. After 30 minutes, the plane was towed to Bay 2 and operations were “back to normal.”
XVI. USAID AID FOR PH DISASTER-PRONE PROVINCES
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, has allocated $5.5 million (about P184 million) to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) intended for Philippine provinces threatened by natural disasters and climate change related risks.
United States spies are secretly tapping into servers of nine Internet giants, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google, in a vast anti-terror sweep targeting foreigners, explosive reports said on Thursday.
Stung by a dizzying 24 hours of revelations on covert programs, the top US spy James Clapper slammed the disclosure of information about the scheme and warned that leaks about a separate program to mine domestic phone records hurt US national security.
XVIII. USE OF PCOS IN UPCOMING BARANGAY ELECTIONS
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that while no law mandates the automation of the coming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the poll body is thinking of maximizing the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
XIX. MANUEL MORATO’s APOLOGY TO MARGE JUICO
Chastened by his failing health and hospital detention, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chair Manuel “Manoling” Morato is reaching out to his nemesis, Marge Juico.
Morato has sent a letter of apology to the former appointments secretary of the late President Cory Aquino, who has accused him of plunder when he served as director of the PCSO during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
(ECONOMY) I. FOREX RESERVES
The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) dropped to a seven-month low in May as gold and foreign exchange holdings slipped, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.
Reserves – which serve as cushion against external shocks – totaled $82.892 billion as of May, 0.39 percent lower than April’s $83.213 billion.
More banks are expected to list in the country’s stock exchange as the entire financial sector is seen to remain strong and stable in the next few years, industry officials said.
In a speech during the general membership meeting of the Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB), Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) president and CEO Hans Sicat said that the financial sector has been outperforming the main PSE index. “I do hope that more banks consider listing at the stock exchange despite the recent sell-off,” Sicat said, noting that country’s stock market is likely to perform well this year.
III. PH-MACAU AIR SERVICES AGREEMENT
The Philippines and Macau yesterday inked a new air services agreement to increase flight entitlements for both countries as part of the government’s efforts to lure more tourists and investors in the country.
IV. SMC’s ACQUISITION OF PAL
Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has sealed a deal to acquire the entire holdings of tycoon Lucio Tan in flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).
According to a source from the Lucio Tan camp, the transaction involves the acquisition by San Miguel of 51 percent of the airline currently owned by the tobacco and beer magnate.
V. STOCK EXCHANGE
The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose for the second straight day, gaining 1.41 percent or 92.94 points to settle at 6,701.95.
PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS DEVELOPMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICE (PCDSPO)