PH not backing down over maritime rights

September 30, 2023
Marcos vows to defend fishing areas for Pinoys President Ferdinand Marcos on Friday said the government will not back down and will continue to defend the country’s maritime territory and the rights of Filipino fisherfolk. This is after he ordered the removal of the floating barrier that China set up in the West Philippine Sea […]
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‘China spending billions to spread disinformation’

September 30, 2023
Washington—China is spending billions of dollars globally to spread disinformation and threatening to cause a “sharp contraction” in freedom of speech around the world, warned a US State Department report published Thursday. China’s “global information manipulation is not simply a matter of public diplomacy—but a challenge to the integrity of the global information space,” the […]
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PBBM orders collection of unauthorized ‘pass-through fees’ suspended

September 30, 2023
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the suspension of the unauthorized collection of “pass-through fees” on vehicles transporting goods, Malacañang said on Friday. Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin signed Executive Order No. 41 which prohibited all local government units (LGUs) from charging fees on vehicles transporting goods through any national roads and other roads not constructed […]
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Not chips or cookies

September 30, 2023

Authorities display potato chip and cookie cans that contain packs of cocaine, part of a stash of 14.36 kilos of the illegal narcotic worth P76.1 million, seized from two Singaporeans who arrived from Doha, Qatar at the Ninoy Aquino International Airp...

‘No Hunger’ push starts in Siargao

September 30, 2023
The government officially kicked off its Food Stamp Program (FSP) on Friday as part of its “No Hunger” campaign, with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. distributing electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to beneficiaries in Siargao Island. “We are pushing the Food Stamps Program to ensure that the beneficiaries are not only well-fed, but also healthy, energetic, […]
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‘Whole-of-drugnation program to fight drugs needed’

September 30, 2023
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said a whole-of-nation approach is needed to rid the country of illegal drugs through prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and law enforcement. In an address read for him during the 4th anniversary of the DOH-Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur on Thursday, the President said the […]
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All regions to see wage hikes before year ends—DOLE

September 30, 2023
All regions will see an increase in daily minimum wages before the year ends, the Department of Labor and Employment said Friday. Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said the increases are being carefully reviewed and considered by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs). “From what I see on the direction of their process, maybe […]
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PhilHealth website, member’s portal active again

September 30, 2023
The website and member’s portal of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) went back online yesterday after eight days of being offline after a ransomware attack. Philhealth’s e-Claims system also resumed online operations yesterday. The Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) earlier advised Philhealth to shut down its public-facing application systems to isolate key […]
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Pinoys dissatisfied with K-12 tack

September 30, 2023
At least half of Filipinos are dissatisfied with the K to 12 basic education program, while 89 percent prefer the previous June-to-March academic calendar, a survey by the Social Weather Station (SWS) said. The 50% rate was a combination of respondents who said they were “very dissatisfied” and “somewhat dissatisfied” at 37% and 13%, respectively, […]
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Mixed movement seen for prices of fuels next week

September 30, 2023
Oil prices may have a mixed movement next week, with a possible rollback in gasoline of up to P1.90 per liter, while diesel prices may increase by up to P0.20 per liter or remain the same. On the other hand, kerosene prices are also expected to go down by about P0.60 per liter. This is […]
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Marcos vows: PH will defend borders

September 30, 2023
(UPDATE) THE Philippines is not looking for a fight with China, but it will defend its borders against aggression, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Friday.The President made the statement after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) carried out his orders to take down the 300-meter-long floating barrier the Chinese put up on the approach to the Bajo de Masinloc Shoal in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Photo from PCOInterviewed by reporters while visiting Surigao del Norte, the President insisted that putting up the barrier was not right because it was well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ)."Hindi naman maaari na lalagyan ng barrier na ganoon at maliwanag naman na nasa loob ng Pilipinas 'yan (There shouldn't be any barrier there and that is clearly within the Philippine territory)," the President said."Hindi tayo naghahanap ng gulo, basta't gagawin natin, patuloy nating ipagtanggol ang Pilipinas, ang maritime territory ng Pilipinas, ang karapatan ng mga fisherman natin na mangisda doon sa mga areas kung saan sila nangingisda daang-daang taon na (We are not looking for trouble. We will continue defending the Philippines, the maritime territory of the Philippines, and the rights of our fishermen who have been fishing in those areas for hundreds of years)," he said."Again, many of these are operational issues and that I really cannot talk about. But in terms of taking down the barrier, I don't see what else we could do," the President said.Earlier this week, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said Beijing "firmly upholds the sovereignty and maritime rights and interests of the Huangyan island," referring to the shoal by its Chinese name."We advise the Philippines not to provoke or stir up trouble," Wang warned.On Monday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) released a video showing a diver cutting a rope attached to the buoys that were holding up the barrier.Another showed an anchor being hauled from the water into a wooden outrigger boat.After the rope was cut, the Chinese government vessels, who were watching from a distance, moved in to remove the barrier, said Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesman for the West Philippine Sea."The barrier posed a hazard to navigation, a clear violation of international law," Tarriela had said.It also hinders the fishing and livelihood activities of Filipino fisherfolk in Bajo de Masinloc," he added.Tarriela cited the 2016 Arbitral Award that ruled that Bajo de Masinloc is a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen."Thus, any obstruction hindering the livelihoods of Filipino fisherfolk in the shoal violates international law. It also infringes on the Philippines' sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc," he said.The barrier was spotted by the PCG and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources personnel aboard the Navy ships Datu Bankaw during a routine maritime patrol last September 22.Filipino fishermen who frequented the area said a Chinese maritime militia service boat installed the barrier upon seeing the Datu Bankaw approach the shoal.Bajo de Masinloc lies 240 kilometers west of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometers from the nearest major Chinese land mass of Hainan.

Automated polls pilot-tested during BSKE

September 30, 2023
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) will pilot-test automated voting during the October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).Speaking at The Manila Times Roundtable Friday, Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said automated voting will be tried out in two villages in Dasmariñas City in Cavite and in District 6 of Quezon City."It is really the ambition of the Comelec to fully automate all elections in the country starting with the BSKE," Garcia said.He said delays in counting the ballots or proclaiming the winning candidates could spark violence initiated by losing candidates and their supporters sometimes and result in a failure of elections.

COMELEC CHIEF AT THE TIMES Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia talks about the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) on Oct. 30, 2023, in this interview with The Manila Time's Chairman and CEO Dante 'Klink' Ang 2nd at the TMT newsroom on Friday, September 29. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA"But if the results are known in 15 minutes, how can there be cheating? How can you protest?" Garcia said.During the last 2022 elections which were automated, the results were known in a matter of hours."Hopefully, the conduct of the next BSKE will be fully automated," he said.The decision of the Supreme Court to declare the postponement of the BSKE, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, 2022, as unconstitutional hindered Comelec's plan to fully automate the BSKE, Garcia said.Citing the operative fact doctrine, the Supreme Court decided to push through with the combined polls on October 30, and that the next BSKE will be held in 2025 and not 2026.Garcia said this was why the Comelec asked the Office of the Solicitor General to file an appeal based on three grounds.First is the question of why the terms of the village officials are being shortened.Second, since the Supreme Court ruled that elections should be periodic, what the Court sustained as the date of the BSKE should be followed so that the next BSKE should be three years after October 2023.Third, if the next BSKE will be in 2025, the Comelec would be preparing for two elections — the mid-term polls in May and the BSKE in November.Garcia said one of the elections would have to be conducted manually because the Comelec does not have the resources for two automated polls."So we will be filing a motion for reconsideration, it may be an exercise in futility but just the same we would just like to emphasize that maybe this should be studied further. We can handle two elections but it would be very, very difficult," he said.At the same time, Garcia said the budget the Comelec submitted to Congress covers only the preparatory national and local elections of 2025."It does not contain any budget for any village or youth elections that would be conducted during the same year because when we submitted our budget proposal, the Supreme Court had not yet issued its decision on the postponement of the BSKE," he said.Also on Friday, the Task Force Kontra Epal filed disqualification cases against 35 village and youth candidates for premature campaigning.The task force said the candidates engaged in social media and house-to-house campaigns, while some posted campaign posters.The complaints against the BSKE candidates in Central Luzon, Metro Manila and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) will be raffled on October 2.The Comelec said the candidates have five days to submit a response.A petition for disqualification goes through a summary proceeding, which means that the resolution of cases is relatively swift.The Comelec en banc wants to resolve the disqualification cases before the BSKE on October 30, Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said.Under Section 80 of the Election Code, a candidate is barred from campaigning or engaging in partisan political activity outside of the campaign period. Violators may face imprisonment of one to six years, the loss of voting rights, and permanent disqualification from running for public office.The campaign period for the BSK elections is from October 19 to 28.As of September 28, Comelec has issued 3,198 show-cause orders for premature campaigning.In the initial assessment, 199 candidates could face disqualification complaints, while 207 complaints were dismissed for lack of factual basis.

Obiena’s turn to try to bag elusive Asian Games gold

September 30, 2023
POLE vaulter Ernest John "EJ" Obiena will try today, September 30, to bag a gold medal that continues to elude the Philippines at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.The pole vault competition starts at 7:05 p.m. at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.Obiena, who is ranked second in the world, is expected to have the edge over his Asian rivals. Last July, he won in the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.Obiena cleared 5.91 meters to defend his title and establish a new record in Bangkok.

Ernest John "EJ" Obiena. File PhotoHussain Asim al-Hizam of Saudi Arabia finished second with 5.56 meters, and Huang Bokai of China placed third with 5.51 meters.Obiena will again be facing al-Hizam and Huang in Hangzhou.Also competing are Seito Yamamoto of Japan, Ivan Tovchenik of Kazakhstan, Jaffar Ashraf of Pakistan, Seifeldin Abdelsalam of Qatar, Han Duhyeon of South Korea, Patsapong Amsamarng and Kasinpob Chomchanad of Thailand.None of them has cleared 6.0 meters, the Asian record and personal best jump of Obiena.Obiena last competed almost two weeks ago in the Diamond League final in Eugene, Oregon, where he finished second to world No. 1 Armand Duplantis of Sweden.Obiena cleared 5.82 meters in that meet, but Duplantis set a new world record of 6.23 meters.Midway through the Hangzhou Games, the Philippines has picked up one silver and six bronze medals.Two of the bronze medals were won by tennis sensation Alexandra "Alex" Eala.On Friday, Eala and partner Francis Casey Alcantara lost to Chinese Taipei's Liang En-Shuo and Huang Tsung-hao, 7-5, 6-3, in the mixed doubles semifinals to settle for third place.The 18-year-old Eala earlier bagged the bronze in women's singles after being pushed to the limit by Chinese top-seeded Zheng Qinwen, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3, in a semifinal match that lasted 3 hours and 11 minutes.Zheng, who is ranked 25th in the world, eventually won the gold on Friday after beating compatriot Zhu Lin, 6-2, 6-4.In an Instagram post after her bronze medal finish in the singles event, the former US Open Juniors champion Eala said she gave it everything she got.It was the first time since the 2006 Games in Qatar that the Philippines won two medals in tennis.Filipino American Cecil Mamiit won two bronze medals in the men's singles and doubles in Qatar.Still in the hunt for a gold is the women's football team.On Thursday night, the Filipinas shut out Myanmar 3-0 to advance to the knockout stage at the Wenzhou Olympic Sports Center.It will be the first time in 65 years that a Philippine football team has qualified for the knockout stage. The men's team last reached this far in the 1958 Tokyo Asiad.Midfielder Sarina Bolden's goal and two more from fellow midfielder Sara Eggesvik sealed the win for the Filipinas.In the first half, Bolden opened the scoring for the Philippines, after being fouled.Eggesvik scored two goals in the second half."I'm glad to help the team going to the knockout stage ... so I'm glad to get on the scoresheet, but it's always a team effort, and I'm glad the team did really well today," Eggesvik said in a video posted by the team."We set ourselves to score in this game, and we scored very well, and we were excellent. ... I'm grateful to be part of this opportunity and now we progress to the next stage, which is excellent," Filipinas head coach Mark Torcaso said.With the victory, the Filipinas ended with a 2-1 record in group E and will play Japan in the knockout stage today.

Concepcion confident Christmas will be bright

September 30, 2023
GO Negosyo founder Jose Ma. "Joey" Concepcion 3rd is optimistic that this year's Christmas will be "a very good one" for Filipinos despite a slight reduction drop in business confidence and growth forecasts."I am very optimistic that this Christmas will be a very good one," Concepcion, who is also vice chairman of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council, told reporters during a recent forum.

GO Negosyo founder Jose Ma. "Joey" Concepcion 3rd"Inflation has gone down — maybe not to the level of a couple of years back — but it is moving down. A lot of MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) have recovered and are now cash-flow positive," he said.Recent financial reports point to a downtrend in the economy.A recent survey released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed business confidence fell from 40.8 percent to 35.8 percent in the third quarter, though this was attributed to the decline in sales and demand for goods and services due to weather-related disruptions and other seasonal factors.The growth outlook for the country this year by the Asian Development Bank and S&P Global Ratings was slightly lower than the government's 6 to 7 percent target.But Concepcion stressed that these numbers alone are not determinants to the economy's growth."In business, we don't look at these things too close, you have to look at it at the end of the year to really see how things are," he said."We should not look at one number and be discouraged," he said.Concepcion reiterated his statement during an interview with The Manila Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dante "Klink" Ang 2nd on his show "Business and Politics" that "inflation is caused by external factors and hopefully these things will turn around."Economists have attributed the continued rise in oil prices to the decision by oil-producing countries, more recently by Russia, to reduce supply in order to manage their own domestic issues.Slower growth in the United States and Europe, as well as a recovering China, also continue to affect the Philippines.Concepcion explained how fuel prices are being impacted by "worldwide inflation.""Our economy will have its ups and downs. It's worldwide inflation. Yung pagtaas ng fuel, hindi atin lang (the price increases in fuel are not our problem alone)," he said."There was a very bad period in inflation but now it's going down. We're not at the lowest level, we're somewhere in the middle, and most prices are gradually coming down. Some are still up because there are shortages, but eventually inflation will temper down," he added.More importantly, the government has a proactive stance in addressing the situation, Concepcion said."Because of PSAC, it has made [private sector] work as a team with the government. Getting the best minds to work for the government for free is one of the best things this government has done," he said, referring to the Private Sector Advisory Council, which was set up by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to give private sector guidance in helping the government achieve its economic objectives."We have good people in government, but if you add the entrepreneurial drive and vision of these people [in PSAC], this is a big plus ... in helping the government push our economy forward," he said.Long-term solutions are being initiated, he said. Among them are the proposals to integrate small farmers into the value chain of larger corporations, and to teach entrepreneurial skills to senior high school students."Sari-sari stores have been embraced as part of the value chain of large companies, and they are doing well. The same thing can happen in agriculture," he said.Revitalizing the agriculture sector, upskilling the workforce and teaching entrepreneurial skills to young people, Concepcion said, can address issues on wage increases in a more sustainable way."Without jobs, not everybody will benefit from a wage increase. The priority is job generation," he said.