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Pinoy tourist locked up 2½ years for trying to cash fake travelers checks

Posted on 25 April 2019 No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao
District Court in Wanchai

A Filipino tourist who tried to exchange US$50,000 worth of fake travelers checks at a money exchange in Central was sentenced to two and a half years in jail after he was found guilty of using a false instrument.

The sentencing of Noel Rambuyon, 42, an aircon technician in Qatar, came just half an hour after District Court Judge Stanley Chan found him guilty of the offence. The defendant was tried for three days last month

The judge rejected Rambuyon’s claim that he went to the Travelex Worldwide Money shop in Central on Feb 6 last year only to inquire if they would change his Thomas Cook travelers checks.

Chan accepted the evidence given by two Travelex staff that Rambuyon had entered their shop and said he wanted to cash his travelers checks which were all in US$1,000 denomination.
Lim Ming-yee, a sales consultant at the shop, said she had undergone training to detect fake bank instruments, and knew right away that what Rambuyon had presented to her colleague Lily Wong was spurious because Thomas Cook did not issue US$1,000 checks.

The staff asked Rambuyon to wait, giving the excuse that it took time to verify the checks’ codes.  Unknown to him, they had already reported the case to the police and were just waiting for them to arrive.

Rambuyon was then arrested and charged with using false instruments.
In his statement to the police, he said the checks were given to him by his sister in Mindanao who said they were bequeathed to him by their father who died two years earlier.      

During the trial, Rambuyon’s lawyer had insisted the defendant did not know the checks were fake and had gone to the Travelex shop only to inquire if they changed Thomas Cook travelers checks.

The court was told there were no Travelex branches in the Philippines so Rambuyon had to go to Hong Kong to make the inquiry
Thomas Cook sold its financial services division, including its travelers check business, to Travelex in November 2000.

But Judge Chan, in his verdict, doubted the defense claim.

“In my view, the fact that there was no Travelex in the Philippines does not mean the defendant had to travel to Hong Kong to make an enquiry. There are phones and the internet to make an inquiry,” he said.

Chan also noted the facts that the travelers checks that Rambuyon presented to the bank staff were unsigned; that there are no travelers checks denominated in US$1,000; and that he presented 50 pieces of the documents, for a total value of US$50,000, to the staff.

The judge said there was no doubt the defendant was asking to encash the checks, not knowing that the shop would not make the exchange for that amount of cash to an individual on a single day.

In mitigation, the defense lawyer said Rambuyon was, at the time of his arrest, working  as an aircon technician in Qatar, where he lived with his wife and four children.

The lawyer also said that there was no real loss to Travelex as the checks were fake.

“That’s a fact, not a mitigation,” the judge said.

In imposing the jail term of two and a half years imprisonment, the judge said there was no discount because Rambuyon was convicted after trial.    

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Election supervisor says 50% turnout in overseas vote not likely

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The Consulate officer supervising overseas voting for Filipinos in Hong Kong has said a 50% turnout is not likely in the ongoing midterm election.

Consul Bob Quintin said in a media briefing today, Apr 25, that the 50% figure was what Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon had asked the Consulate to strive to achieve this year.

But personally, he said he would consider it a bonus if the turnout this year exceeds the 28% recorded in the 2013 midterm elections.

He made his remarks as nearly 400 voters cast their ballots today, taking the 13-day total votes cast past the 11,000-mark. That’s just over 12% of the total number of Filipinos registered to vote, with 17 days remaining in the month-long election.
Quintin said there were no incidents reported in the voting precincts, except for one voter whose ballot receipt was not printed completely because the vote counting machine ran out of thermal paper.

One female voter also complained that she voted for Ronald Dela Rosa for senator but her receipt print-out showed the name of Lito Lapid.
Quintin said apparently she shaded the tick box on the right side of Dela Rosa’s name that was meant for Lapid.

The voter was asked if she would like to file a complaint with the Commission on Elections, but she didn’t pursue it, Quintin said. The secretariat at Bayanihan reported the incident just the same to the poll body.

Another easy day at Bayanihan with just about 400 voters and no machine conking out
There were no issues with the vote-counting machines today, with all nine Special Board of Election Inspectors saying their VCMs performed smoothly.

Quintin said that after the first few days of glitches, the secretariat staff and inspectors are now seeing their cleaning protocols working.
Improvised remedies for humidity-related problems – such as the use of hair dryers on ballots lately – have helped resolve the issue of paper jams. But Quintin said this had sparked speculation of cheating.

At the briefing, a watcher for the Liberal Party complained about an administration support group holding an exit poll right next to the Bayanihan gate on Victoria Road.

Quintin said the election supervisors will do their best to deal with the issue and will make a report so that action could be taken if the practice continues. – Vir B. Lumicao

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The secret of Jo’s Chicken Inasal

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If there is one dish that defines Ilonggos in the Philippines it could only be chicken inasal, a variant of the roasted chicken dish that gets its distinctive flavor and color from a marinade of vinegar, calamansi (or lime), lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and the all-important achuete oil.

Chicken Inasal has become very popular across the Philippines in recent years largely because of the success of “Mang Inasal,” the food chain first set up in Iloilo city by a young local entrepreneur.

The restaurant chain became an instant success that in no time, the giant Jollibee Food Corporation bought a 70% stake in the company for a whopping P3billion in 2010.

To date, Jollibee owns the entire Mang Inasal chain.

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One Ilonggo whose chicken inasal can rival that which brought untold riches to Mang Inasal’s founder is Jo Campos, who traces her roots to the Duro clan in Dumangas, Iloilo. Jo, a former OFW in Hong Kong, has returned home to start a food catering business with her niece, May. Their joint venture quickly became a success that they now count among their clients some of the more popular movie and TV stars in the country.

Jo has added her own touches to this popular Ilonggo dish that everyone who has tasted her version has become an instant fan. These include a unique process of releasing the full aroma from the lemongrass, and using a Ziploc bag to lock in the flavor of the marinade.


A word of caution, though. Like a real Pinoy chef, Jo does not provide precise measurements, letting her instincts guide her in combining just the right amount of spices and flavorings to bring out the best in each dish, and allowing the cook to vary the taste according to preference.
So, with this recipe comes a wish that everyone who tries to cook chicken inasal the Jo Campos way would achieve the perfect result she never fails to accomplish.
Bon apetit!

Chicken Inasal

Calamansi (or lime juice if calamansi is not easily accessible where you are)
 Lemon grass
Turmeric Ginger (luyang dilaw)
Vinegar (tuba or apple cider is preferable)
Brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil

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1. Cut chicken into quarters, slit parts skin side and on thick parts of the meat
2. Rub salt and pepper on the chicken
3. In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine all ingredients except lemon grass, oil and achuete. If using processor, turn to pulse and add a little oil when all ingredients are combined.
4. Lightly pound lemon grass to release aroma and tie them in a knot.
5. Transfer marinade mixture and chicken pieces in a ziploc bag and rub thoroughly. Seal back and let meat marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight.
6. In a large pan, pour all marinated chicken and bring to a boil.
7. Adjust heat to low. Simmer.
8. Prepare achuete oil by heating some oil in a small pan till hot enough and remove from heat. Add achuete. Strain atchuete oil when the color is released making sure not to burn it.
9. Remove chicken from pan and drain. Boil the remaining marinade till reduced to be used for basting in the grill.
10. Grill on hot charcoal while basting with the prepared marinade and achuete oil.
Jo Campos (right) with The SUN Editor Caisy CL. Mandap and Publisher Leo A. Deocadiz

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Teenage pregnancy rate down

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Teenage pregnancy has declined in the last six years to 47 for every 1,000 women but the rate remains alarming, according to the Commission on Population (PopCom).

Five years since the constitutionality of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) law was upheld by the Supreme Court (SC), the Philippines is still grappling with a high number of teenage pregnancy cases, PopCom director for Region 4 Lydio Espanol said.

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Based on the 2017 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), the country’s teenage pregnancy had declined to 47 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-19.

Elizabeth Angsioco, chairperson of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, clarified that while the figures have declined, the “actual number” of teenage women getting pregnant remains high.

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“There are serious problems on the ground, really. We should still be alarmed because if you consider the absolute number, the growth of the population in those years, then I would even say there might be more of our girls getting pregnant,” Angsioco said.

She maintained that this is “problematic” because the ones getting pregnant early are the poor and those who have little education.


Aside from this, misinformation about contraceptives is also hampering the government’s family planning initiatives.

Angsioco cited an incident where a pastor said that the subdermal implant had “666” markings on it to discourage parishioners from using the contraceptive.
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Minor planets named after Pinoys

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Three minor planets now carry the names of three high school students from Naga City who had won a major award in an international competition last year.

The Department of Education (DepEd) said on its Facebook page that students Eugene Rivera, Joscel Kent Manzanero, and Keith Russel Cadores each received a certificate identifying their own minor planet and an orbital plot showing its location.

The three students from Camarines Sur National High School won second place in the “Energy: Physical” category in the 2018 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May last year.

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Their team won for their entry that designed and developed solar-tracking photovoltaic panels using open-source electronics platform Arduino.

They also took home $1,500 in addition to getting minor planets named after them.

The group’s entry was among the three from the Philippines that won awards in the 2018 Intel ISEF.

Placing third in the “Earth and Environmental Sciences” category were Elaine Nicole Saquin and Randy Molejona Jr. of Iloilo National High School (INSH), who won $1,000 for their research on Biosorption of Manganese Mine Effluents Using Crude Chitin from Shell Wastes of Philippine Bivalves.


Pete Gabriel Ledesma, also from INHS, took home $500 for placing fourth in the “Materials Science” category for his study on Phytoreductive-Hydrothermal Synthesis of Polyethylene Glycol-coated Magnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery Applications.

Four other students from the Philippines competed in last year’s ISEF, dubbed as the world’s largest international pre-college science competition attended by almost 2,000 delegates worldwide.

“Among the researches of 1,802 participants from 81 countries, the products of your long toil and tedious study stood out; the whole department extends its congratulations to Team Philippines for doing your country proud and for showing the world that the creativity and innovativeness of Filipino K-12 learners can beat the odds and conquer international competitors,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said following the competition.

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“This is what we have been saying: critical thinking, not memorization of facts, must continuously be developed by our learners if they are to face the challenges of the 21st century,” she added.

The DepEd said it is reviewing the six projects shortlisted for this year’s ISEF, which will be held in Phoenix, Arizona in May.

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