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  • Janet Napoles pins down 3 senators                           Justice Secretary Leila de Lima revealed yesterday that the alleged mastermind in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam wants to turn state witness and has pinned down 3 senators linked to the anomaly. Sec. De Lima said she met with Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles Monday night at the Ospital ng Makati and took a “tell-all” sworn statement from the detained businesswoman. Sec. De Lima said that Ms. Napoles confirmed the involvement of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile as well as Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada. The secretary opted not to reveal the contents of the affidavit pending its verification but said Ms. Napoles gave “really a lot of details.”
  • Foreign tourist arrivals flat in February                        Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that foreign tourist arrivals posted a flat growth of 1.08% (422,631 arrivals) for the month of February 2014, as against 418,108 arrivals in the same period last year. This was lower than the registered growth of 6% in January 2014 which reached 461,383 arrivals from 422,631 arrivals in January 2013. There were noted decreases in the number of foreign tourists visiting the Philippines from East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, and South America with a decline of 5.51%, 5.18%, 4.03% and 11.63%, respectively. Even Korea, the biggest contributor to Philippine foreign tourist arrivals, posted a drop of 3.3%. Arrivals from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau likewise went down 44.06%, 35.26% and 12.04%, respectively.
  • Forex reserves down to $79.8Bn                                   The country’s gross international reserves went down to $79.803 billion in March from $80.540 billion in February due to debt payments made by the government, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (central bank) reported yesterday. “The decline in reserves was due mainly to outflows arising from payments by the national government of its maturing foreign exchange obligations, foreign exchange operations of the BSP, and revaluation adjustments on the BSP’s gold holdings and foreign currency denominated reserves,” the central bank said. The March GIR level is enough to cover 11.1 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to 7.1 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 5.2 times based on residual maturity.

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