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PH Air Force planning to buy more FA-50s, says military official

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The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is planning to buy more FA-50s to be used as training aircraft for their pilots; this was according to a top military official as the country commemorates its 124th Independence Day last June 12.

The FA-50 fighter jets were among the more than 30 Air Force assets that conducted high-speed opener pass over Luneta on Sunday to honor our independence day.

PAF chief Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas Sr. told reporters they are looking at the more advanced version of the Mach 1.5 capable FA-50 light combat aircraft the Philippines earlier acquired from South Korea.

“Yes, it is an option. The FA-50s is a good lead-in trainer fighter aircraft na rin, halos multi-role, pwede siyang mag-air-to- or air-to-air. It provides a good training opportunity for the pilots to step up to higher performance aircraft,” said Gen. Canlas.

Currently, the PAF has in its fleet 12 units of FA-50s it bought from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for P18.9-B in 2015; delivery of which was completed in 2017.

In September 2021, two of these FA-50s were used to intercept an unidentified aircraft that flew into the country’s airspace – the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone – approximately 120 nautical miles northwest of Bolinao town in Pangasinan.

The unknown aircraft eventually changed direction towards the north, the PAF said in a statement, and increased its speed to 400 knots as it veered away from the Philippine airspace, thereby causing the Air Force to terminate its intercept several minutes after receiving the signal.

It was also the same aircraft used by the PAF during its joint exercises with US counterpart in Northern Luzon in March this year.

The fighter jets, now called FA-50PH, are now being used by PAF for its 5th Fighter Wing.

The FA-50PH first saw action during the Marawi siege in May 2017 where it was used mainly for close-air support mission roles.

It can reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.5 and can be fitted with air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles a as well as light automatic cannons and bombs.

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PCOO assures Marcos ‘will adhere to law’ when holding parties in Malacanang

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Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles has assured the country President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. will always ‘adhere to law’ when holding social events including extravagant parties in th Malacanang Palace.

This was Malacanang’s reaction to the alleged birthday party for former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who turned 93, last July 2 with some pictures of which are being shared on social media.

Angeles was asked about the concerns raised by some netizens regarding the ‘lavish party’ held in Malacanang barely two days after Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency.

The PCOO chief said it was a family affair and she could not say with certainty whether a policy will be borne out of said event.

“We acknowledged those concerns. There’s no policy yet in place and that’s all that we can really say about it. That was a family affair and so, I don’t know if a policy will be born out of this one but we certainly note that observation,” Angeles said during a press briefing on Monday.

However, Angeles said the President will certainly ‘adhere to law’ when holding similar occasions in the future.

“We assure you that the President would adhere to law. So that is the presumption. No directive in excess that is written into law,” Angeles added.

Netizens were concerned over Imelda’s ‘lavish birthday party’ and were questioning whether public funds were used in the family affair after some photos of the event popped out on social media shared by no less than a relative of the Marcoses.

Earlier, Malacanang refused to comment on the issue; saying it’s not of public interest.

“We will only be releasing statements on issues where public interest/welfare is involved,” said a statement from PCOO.

Angeles also described the celebration as a “happy occasion for everybody who was there.”

“The dinner was solemn, the whole inauguration was solemn, simple and traditional so aside from the usual… It was generally a joyful but simple and traditional occasion so that’s the best way I can describe it right now,” the Malacanang official shared to the media.

Angeles likewise declined to comment on the billboard greeting Imelda on her birthday which had gone viral on social media after it was called out by ‘The Kingmaker’ director Lauren Greenfield for copyright infringement, and by netizens for grammatical errors (93rd instead of 93th.)

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Outgoing SolGen Jose Calida to head COA under Marcos admin

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Outgoing Solicitor General Jose Calida have been picked as the next chairperson of the Commission on Audit (COA) under the administration of President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.

Incoming press secretary Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles made the announcement on Wednesday, June 29; one day before Marcos Jr. formally assumes office as the 17th President of the Republic.

“Mayroon tayong bagong appointees. The first is Atty. Jose Calida for COA chair,” Angeles told reporters during a press briefing.

Calida is currently the Solicitor General under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration after being appointed in 2016. He is a graduate of Ateneo de Davao University and is a known schoolmate and a close associate of Duterte.

Before this, he once served as an undersecretary of tthe Justice Department in the Arroyo administration.

Calida is a known supporter of Marcos Jr. and in 2020, once moved for the inhibition of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen in the 2016 election protest filed by the incoming president against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Coincidentally, it was also the same motion with similar arguments filed by the Marcos camp hours before; prompting insinuation of ‘collusion’ between the OSG and the then losing vice presidential candidate.

Image from BBM

Invoking its status as the ‘People’s Tribune’ in seeking Leonen’s inhibition from the case, Calida said it is his duty to present to the PET “the position he perceives to be in the best interest of the Republic.”

Both Calida’s and Marcos’ motion were eventually rejected by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, aside from Calida’s, Angeles also announced the appointment of Jose Arnulfo “Wick” Veloso to become the next president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Veloso, a banker, once served as the CEO of the HSBC Philippines and president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines. He is currently the CEO of Philippine National Bank (PNB).

Calida is one of the few holdovers from the Duterte administration appointed in the Marcos Cabinet.

Previously, Marcos also chose Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to become the next SolGen, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno to the Finance department, and former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Benhur Abalos to the DILG.

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Sen. Imee Marcos vows to revive Nutribun, Kadiwa stores amid rising cost of food

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With another Marcos presidency looming, the Filipinos may be seeing the revival of Nutribun in public schools and Kadiwa stores in different parts of the country anytime soon.

Nutribun became popular in the early 70s to early 80s when it was distributed in schools supposedly to combat malnutrition among poor kids.

The Kadiwa program, a brainchild of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, was implemented by President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. with the aim of bringing down the prices of agricultural commodities.

According to a PNA report, Senator Imee Marcos has vowed to revive these two programs often associated with his father’s regime.

During a cash distribution to residents in crisis situation in Laoag City on Tuesday, the senator said  Nutribun and Kadiwa will be a big help to Filipinos amid the rising cost of fuel and the looming global food crisis.

“The price of gas and basic commodities keep on increasing. We need more ayuda (assistance like Nutribun and Kadiwa stores) that directly benefits the people,” the government news agency quoted Imee Marcos as saying.

In February, President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong Marcos Jr. already siginified his intention to bring back the Kadiwa rolling stores in every barangay as it supposedly ‘help consumers buy basic necessities like food products at lower prices compared to those being sold in regular markets’.

“The Kadiwa system enabled the public to buy goods at cheaper rates and the farmers to sell their crops without having to worry about transportation costs,” Marcos Jr. said.

Nutribun also became a trending topic on social media after a netizen claimed it was an initiative of the late President Marcos Sr.

Senator Imee even distributed packs of Nutribun carrying her name to residents of some barangays in Davao and Cebu early this month as appreciation for voting for her brother during the last election.

But according to Vera Files, Nutribun is a bread developed and distributed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It was introduced to the Philippines in 1970  to help combat child malnutrition and serve as emergency food during disasters but ‘Marcos had no involvement in the development of the bread product or conceptualizing the program.’

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