The latest non-commissioned senatorial survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed a new change in rankings for those hoping to place in the Magic 12, with reelectionist Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe in the top two spots.

Latest SWS poll: Villar on top, Poe in 2nd; Roxas, Marcos in ‘Magic 12,’ Bam out

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The latest non-commissioned senatorial survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed a new change in rankings for those hoping to place in the Magic 12, with reelectionist Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe in the top two spots.

Villar obtained 62 percent voter preference, representing some 37.6 million votes, while Poe, who used to be on top, got 60 percent or 36.4 million votes.

In the third to fifth place were Deputy House Speaker Pia Cayetano, who is seeking a comeback in the Senate, and two other reelectionists, Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay.

Angara rejoiced over his strong showing, immediately releasing a statement that enumerated his achievements in the Senate.

“Malaki po ang ating paniniwala na kung matutulungan natin ang ating mahihirap na mga kababayan na magkaroon ng trabaho at kumita ng sapat, maiaangat ng mga ito mula sa kahirapan ang kanilang pamilya,” he said.

Coming in at sixth is former Senator Lito Lapid with 38 percent voting preference, followed by ex-Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. at seventh spot with 35 percent.

Tied at eight and ninth places are reelectionist Sen. Koko Pimentel (34 percent) and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada with 34 percent each.

Former Senator Mar Roxas ranked 10 with 28 percent followed by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos in the 11th spot with 27 percent and incumbent Senator JV Ejercito, who ranked 12th.

“Its a slow but steady climb,” Ejercio said. “But trajectory is very encouraging. Considering I am the only re-electionist that has a brother running and no political ads yet,” he said.

Within striking distance were former senator Serge Osmeña in 13th place, reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino in 14th place, and presidential assistant Bong Go and former police chief Bato dela Rosa tied for 15th and 16th places.

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Chinese cyber-espionage unit on US hacking spree: report

At least 30,000 US organizations including local governments have been hacked in recent days by an “unusually aggressive” Chinese cyber-espionage campaign, according to a computer security specialist.

The campaign has exploited recently discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange software, stealing email and infecting computer servers with tools that let attackers take control remotely, Brian Krebs said in a post at his cyber security news website.

“This is an active threat,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said when asked about the situation during a press briefing.

“Everyone running these servers needs to act now to patch them. We are concerned that there are a large number of victims,” she added.

After Microsoft released patches for the vulnerabilities on Tuesday, attacks “dramatically stepped up” on servers not yet updated with security fixes, said Krebs, who cited unnamed sources familiar with the situation.

“At least 30,000 organizations across the United States — including a significant number of small businesses, towns, cities and local governments — have over the past few days been hacked by an unusually aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit that’s focused on stealing email from victim organizations,” Krebs wrote in the post.

He reported that insiders said hackers have “seized control” of thousands of computer systems around the world using password-protected software tools slipped into systems.

Microsoft said early this week that a state-sponsored hacking group operating out of China is exploiting previously unknown security flaws in its Exchange email services to steal data from business users.

The company said the hacking group, which it has named “Hafnium,” is a “highly skilled and sophisticated actor.”

Hafnium has in the past targeted US-based companies including infectious disease researchers, law firms, universities, defense contractors, think tanks, and NGOs.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Microsoft executive Tom Burt said the company had released updates to fix the security flaws, which apply to on-premises versions of the software rather than cloud-based versions, and urged customers to apply them.

“We know that many nation-state actors and criminal groups will move quickly to take advantage of any unpatched systems,” he added at the time.

Microsoft said the group was based in China but operated through leased virtual private servers in the United States, and that it had briefed the US government.

Beijing has previously hit back at US accusations of state-sponsored cyber theft. Last year it accused Washington of smears following allegations that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus research.

In January, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies said Russia was probably behind the massive SolarWinds hack that shook the government and corporate security, contradicting then-president Donald Trump, who had suggested China could be to blame.

Microsoft said Tuesday the Hafnium attacks “were in no way connected to the separate SolarWinds-related attacks.” (AFP)

Werpa si Eba! Lord Velasco recognizes women’s role in nation building

By Billy Begas

Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco pays tribute to all Filipina for their pivotal role in nation-building even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Allow me to recognize all the strong, empowered and empowering women of the House. Kinaya at kinakaya natin ang laban sa pandemya because you kept everything steady here at work even as you faced the challenges with your families at home,” said Velasco.

At present, women make up 48 percent of the House workforce.

Records from the chamber’s Human Resource Management Service show that out of the 4,037 members and employees of the House, 1,941 are women. Of which, 85 are legislators, 649 are Secretariat employees, 940 are congressional staff members, and 267 are co-terminus and contractual workers.

The House has eight female deputy speakers namely Evelina Escudero (Sorsogon), Loren Legarda (Antique), Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon party-list), Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur), Divina Grace Yu (Zamboanga del Sur), Camille Villar (Las Piñas City), Rose Marie Arenas (Pangasinan), and Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas).

After Velasco’s election as Speaker in October 2020, the House elected a female Secretary General—Atty. Jocelia Bighani Sipin.

Sipin spearheaded the House Secretariat through a period of transition from October 12 to November 18 last year. She is currently the Deputy Secretary General assigned at the Office of the Speaker.

On March 8, female lawmakers will take full control of the plenary session as part of the annual tradition in the legislative chamber to mark the National Women’s Month and the International Women’s Day.

The all-women session will be led by Deputy Speaker Arenas, president of the Association of Women Legislators Foundation Inc. of the 18th Congress.

The plenary is set to adopt resolutions congratulating two Filipino-American appointees of United States President Joe Biden—Gloria Steele and Camille Calimlim Touton.

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