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Potatoes from Zamboanga?

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Zamboanga City to be a major producer of potatoes?

That is exactly the goal of City Hall, relying on the City Agriculture Office that has embarked on potato seedling production, envisioning that aim.

City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat said the office has purchased 2,000 potato tubers from Bukidnon for the purpose, and the task is ongoing in an area in La Paz, known to be one of the major producers of vegetables in this city for its ala-Baguio climate.

When in full production, Palacat said, the seedlings will be distributed to the farmers for mass cultivation and production in a suitable area of their choice. The first harvest of the grown seedlings is targeted on November or December, this year. The city agriculturist is optimistic that the prices of potatoes will decrease to P40 a kilo. The city’s current supply of potatoes still comes from as far as Baguio City and Benguet province.

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Thugs these days seem to have become more brazen, even striking in the heart of town.

It was reported recently, a resident of Barangay Zambowood, this city, was allegedly mauled then robbed along Nuñez Street, Barangay Zone III, this city, at dawn yesterday. And that’s along the stretch of road where the Lobregat ancestral home stands.

The victim, John Paul Saavedra, 26, reported to Police Station 11 that three unidentified persons  waylaid him as he was on a bicycle heading for home

He lost P2,000 worth of grocery items and a wallet containing P1,700 cash.

Personnel of the Criminal Investigation Section of Police Station 11 proceeded to the place of the incident but failed to locate the suspects, but are now looking for closed-circuit television cameras installed in nearby establishments for the possible identification of the suspects.

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It seems final this time. SSS pensioners may expect the watered down P1,000 monthly increase soon. While the reduced P1,000 from the originally promised P2,000 will come by 2022 yet.

Another good news, the pay will be retroactive to January and February. Expect the bonanza in March.

Malacañang issued on Wednesday the formal order approving the increase, in a memorandum, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and was sent to SSS Chair Amado Valdez.

Along with the pension hike, the President also approved a 1.5-percentage point increase in members’ contributions effective May 2017.

He also approved the increase in the maximum monthly salary credit, from P16,000 to P20,000, on which the monthly premium is based.

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Under the government’s highly progressive Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), when approved in Congress and signed by the President into law, some 4.66 million taxpayers, or more than double the current figure of 1.8 million, will no longer pay personal income taxes (PIT).

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said, their proposed House Bill No. 4774, which represents Package One of the CTRP, also provides for revenue-enhancing measures to offset the revenue erosion from the lower PIT rates. HB 4774 was authored by Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua, who chairs the House ways and means committee.

At the hearing, which focused on the PIT reductions, Chua said those earning between the above-minimum wage rate and P22,000 a month  will pay zero tax under HB 4774. The first P82,000 in the 13th month pay and other bonuses will be exempted from the PIT computation.

For instance, a call center agent who earns P21,000 a month with a gross income of P273,000 inclusive of the 13th month pay and other benefits, will still fall under the zero-tax bracket.

This will save him or her almost P22,000 in foregone income tax payments because under the current system, the call center agent, even with two dependents,  would still have to pay P21,867 in income tax because of an outdated tax structure in which his or her net taxable income of P136,834 would still be taxed P8,500 plus 20 percent in excess of P70,000.

Chua noted that HB 4774 aims to correct this form of “income creeping” through the adoption of a simplified and fairer system where the call center agent’s declared deductions and exemptions of P36,166 - inclusive of the 13th month pay and mandatory contributions - would be deducted  from the gross income of P273,000.

This will yield for this type of taxpayer a net taxable income of P236,834, which still falls under the zero-tax bracket, Chua said.

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Environment Sec. Gina Lopez turned to social to answer critics after her office ordered a shutdown of several mining firms. And reporters described the DENR-released video as emotional.

Lopez, in her Facebook account page on Wednesday, February 22, outlined the responsibilities and obligation they have in hand to make the people live in a better place. She Lopez asked her detractors to stop and play the game well. “Let love rain. Let greed and selfishness be transformed into something benevolent” she added.

The video earned more than 14,000 reactions and 2,500 shares.

Meanwhile, after accusing  the powerful Commission on Appointments of accepting bribes of P50 million each to vote against her, the House contingent of the commission Sec. Lopez, who was seeking an audience with the lawmakers ahead of her confirmation hearing, was snubbed.

San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, chairman of the House contingent to the bicameral body, said he canceled the courtesy call Lopez requested on Monday and decided to just see her during the CA hearing next Wednesday.

Members of the powerful panel were aghast at the charges Lopez made in a speech before the Makati Rotary Club last Tuesday when she lashed at her critics and claimed to have received information that CA members were promised P50 million each if they blocked her confirmation.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III was incensed by Lopez’ accusations.“She heard? She just heard and she took it already as gospel truth? Albano asked.

Albano said Lopez “should stop acting like a prima donna and instead explain why she deserves to be DENR secretary despite strong opposition against her confirmation by several sectors.”

Other congressmen also lambasted Lopez for making wild accusations against legislators when she does not even attend congressional hearings on mining-related bills pending at the House.

The committee, chaired by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, is considering 11 mining-related bills and invited Lopez to attend, but she declined the invitation without any explanation.

Lopez earlier earned the ire of lawmakers after she snubbed the hearing conducted by the House committee on ecology on the adverse environmental impact of mining.

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On the other hand, the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday suspended the confirmation of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. due to pending concerns of some congressmen, said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the CA committee, and added,

The CA will resume tackling the Yasay confirmation next week.

One of the main concerns the CA is looking into is his citizen status, his wife reported having petitioned for his American citizenship

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, bolstering the prospect of discovering extraterrestrial life, research published on Wednesday showed.

The star, known as TRAPPIST-1, is a small, dim celestial body in the constellation Aquarius. It is located about 40 light years away from Earth, close by astronomical standards, but about 44 million years away at the average cruising speed of a commercial passenger jet.

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Duterte Senate allies have failed to stop a second Senate inquiry in to the reversed confession  of  former leader of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS

A day after Duterte supporters lost a vote on the inquiry, Sen. Richard Gordon took to the floor on Wednesday and insisted that the Senate should not be the venue for someone who had apparently lied to senators much earlier.

On Tuesday, 10 of 22 senators present voted for an inquiry to hear the testimony of retired SPO3 Arturo (not Arthur as previously reported) Lascañas, who disclosed during a news conference on Monday that he had been a hit man for the DDS, which he said was under the control and pay of Mr. Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.

Voting figures appear wrong. 10 of 22 senators present do not constitute the majority for pushing with the second inquiry, even if there abstentions. Fence-sitting is taken as a negative, though not recorded as one.

Lascañas’ public confession came four months after his testimony to Gordon’s justice committee denying the existence of the DDS and confessed hit man Edgar Matobato’s insistence that he was a member of the hit squad. (By Jimmy Cabato)




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