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Officials: RTL to deliver free farm equipment this month

in World News

File photo: A farmer in Buenavista in Santiago City, Isabela, checks his rice crops soon ready for harvest.

THE rice trade liberalization (RTL) law was able to hit its target of cutting the retail prices of the staple, but the distribution of free equipment to planters has yet to be implemented, government officials said on Wednesday.

In a news briefing to mark the first anniversary of the RTL law’s effectivity, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Assistant Secretary Mercedita A. Sombilla noted that the average retail price of rice is now at P36 per kilogram, the lowest in six years.

“The average retail price of regular milled rice has gone down to P36.33 per kg in January, which is P4.40 lower than the level seen last year,” Sombilla told reporters during an economic briefing held in Malacañang.

The Neda official

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Photo Credit: BusinessMirror

BTr makes full award of P10-billion offer under tap facility for reissued 5-year T-bonds

in World News

Bureau of Treasury building in Intramuros

THE Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) fully awarded its P10-billion offering under its tap facility for the reissued five-year Treasury Bonds (T-bonds).

Based on the auction results under the tap facility, the auction was oversubscribed by 2.7x more than its offering, as tenders reached P27.28 billion.

The auction committee made the award at the same coupon rate of 4.250 percent.

The five-year debt paper is set to mature on October 17, 2024.

On Tuesday, Deputy Treasurer Erwin Sta. Ana told reporters that the BTr decided to open the tap facility for another P10 billion after they saw unserved demand at the cut-off rate.

During the primary auction of the T-bonds on Tuesday, the BTr awarded in full the P30-billion offering for the reissued five-year debt papers amid strong market

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Photo Credit: BusinessMirror

Tolentino urges LTO, MMDA, other gov’t agencies work to together vs. drugged driving

in News

Published March 4, 2020, 10:25 PM

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Francis Tolentino has called on the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to tap other concerned agencies to address drugged-driving incidents.

Senator Francis Tolentino

Tolentino on Tuesday stressed the need for a concerted effort among government agencies to reduce accidents involving drivers under the influence of illegal drugs.

He said other government bodies like the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should be part of it.

“Hindi pwedeng iisang agency lang ang hahawak nito, hindi puwedeng LTO lang. Dapat tulung-tulong lahat (This should not be handled by a single agency, not only the LTO. All of the agencies concerned should work together on this),” Tolentino said in the hearing of the committee on public order

Read More Tolentino urges LTO, MMDA, other gov’t agencies work to together vs. drugged driving

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

Amid warnings PHL now a ‘dirty money’ laundromat, Senate opens inquiry March 5

in World News

WARNING that the country has been transformed into a “dirty money laundromat,” Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon pinned the blame squarely on Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), a sector that he said brought in an additional few billions in revenue but spawned criminal activity.

Pressing the Duterte government to close down POGOs, Drilon disclosed that “the Philippines is being used by organized syndicates … to wash their dirty money despite the Anti-Money Laundering Act” enacted into law in 2001.

“We are being used as laundrymen,” Drilon deplored noting that “our banking system, the financial system in general, has been transformed as a washing machine to launder dirty money coming from abroad, brought into casinos or banks and [coming] out as clean money.”

Thursday hearing

Drilon aired his findings in advance of a March 5 (Thursday) inquiry by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Public Accountability, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon,

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Photo Credit: BusinessMirror

Gordon explains issue behind return to PH of Balangiga Bells

in News

Published March 4, 2020, 10:22 PM

By Roy Mabasa

Senator Richard Gordon has lamented the continued “spat” between the Philippines and the United States over the return of the historic Balangiga Bells, which up to this day, is still being opposed by an American legislator.

Senator Richard Gordon (Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)

Speaking at the launching of the Allies for Freedom photo exhibit at the American Barracks inside Fort Santiago on Tuesday, Gordon said that if the two allies can fight over bells and not understand each other, “then we really have a problem.”

Gordon cited the return of the Balangiga Bells as one of the reasons why the assignment of U.S. Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim as the next envoy to Jakarta has not

Read More Gordon explains issue behind return to PH of Balangiga Bells

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

Yellow Cab offers promo for graduates

in World News

Celebrate our new graduates this March with Yellow Cab’s Let’s Party, Graduates! deal.

Enjoy two 9-inch Classic pizzas in sweet and savory Hawaiian or iconic New York Classic, and one Pasta Tray in sweet and tangy Baked Mac or spiced Mac and Cheese. Get this limited-time deal for only Php 1099!

Promo runs until April 15, 2020 for delivery transactions only. Available in Yellow Cab stores nationwide except Camaya Coast, Boracay Station 1, Brent, and MOA Arena.

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Photo Credit: BusinessMirror

DOLE to scale down Kuwait deployment

in News

Published March 4, 2020, 10:19 PM

By Leslie Ann Aquino

The labor department is scaling down the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait due to the burdensome requirements set by the Kuwaiti government in employing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III

“They will be requiring so many additional requirements from our workers. And that’s giving more burden to our workers. So we might as well go to other countries, where there are not so much requirements,” he said in a press briefing Wednesday.

The Kuwaiti government said it will require expatriate passengers coming from the Philippines and nine other countries to present examination certificates issued only by health centers

Read More DOLE to scale down Kuwait deployment

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

The New KaSaMa Teachers Community website is now ready to connect math and science educators together

in World News

The people behind the new KaSaMa Teachers online community: UP NISMED and KaSaMa Teachers core team led by Director Dr. Aida Yap, Gokongwei Brothers Foundation Executive Director Grace Colet, and the Summit Media team.

The University of the Philippines National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (UP NISMED) in partnership with Gokongwei Brothers Foundation are happy to invite Filipino K to 12 Science and Mathematics educators to join the largest online community—KaSaMa Teachers Community website. Packed with exciting features and functions, the online platform is now available for old and new members to explore.

From a small online community where teachers simply share their experiences about the new K to 12 curriculum, the new KaSaMa website goes beyond just a tool that allows members to connect. Through the expertise of Summit Media,

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Photo Credit: BusinessMirror

Senate, House tackle bills seeking to boost sports dev’t

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SPORTS DEVELOPMENT. Philippine Spots Commission chairman William Ramirez poses with Senators Bong Go and Manny Pacquiao after a Senate hearing at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Wednesday (Mar. 4, 2020). Several bills which seeks to boost sports development have been discussed. (Photo courtesy of PSC)

MANILA — The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) was a busy agency Wednesday as both the Congress and Senate called hearings on proposed bills seeking to boost sports development in the country.

The Senate Committee on Sports headed by Senator Bong Go called a hearing on the creation of the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission, as proposed by Senators Manny Pacquiao and Bong Revilla.

Senate Bills 193 and 805, submitted for approval by Pacquiao and Revilla respectively, both seek to create a separate government body to oversee the concerns of professional boxing.

PSC chairman William Ramirez, PSC commissioner Charles Maxey, and Games and Amusement Board chairman Baham Mitra were both part of the resource group, along with representatives from the Department of Budget and Management, Social Security System, PhilHealth, PagIBIG Fund, Department of Health, Governance Commission for GOCCs, Elorde Promotions and Muaythai associations.

Ramirez proposed several possible ways to address concerns raised on the floor such as travel tax exemptions and medical provisions.

“This is good that we are here and discussing this because we can see how we call all work together,” Ramirez said during the hearing.

There will be subsequent consultative hearings to continue discussing the feasibility of said bill.

In Congress, the PSC was represented by Marc Velasco Sr., executive assistant and national training director in the discussion of House Bill 4594, with Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez as proponent.

The bill, which seeks to institutionalize a comprehensive national grassroots sports development program centered in the Philippine National Games, seeks to deepen the provisions of the existing law of the PNG (Executive Order #163, 1994) and make it a more effective tool to discover new sports talents for the country.

Another bill eyeing more commendations for the Filipino athletes who won medals abroad like the Southeast Asian Games was discussed at the House of Representatives.

“Change is not always easy, but as public servants let us put in extra effort to study well and weigh effects and consequences of everything,” said Ramirez. “Be an agent of change for as long as you also make every effort to ensure that those changes are for the better.”

Ramirez also took the opportunity to meet with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Minority Leader Senator Franklin Drilon to discover various issues in sports and possible collaborations. (PR)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Worker dies after his jackhammer hits live wire during dig for water utility

in Latest News

LEGAZPI CITY – An employee of the local water utility here died of electrocutionon Wednesday (March 3).


Lt. Col. Aldwin Gamboa, city police chief, said in a report that Mark Renier Cardel, 26, was operating a jack hammer to bore into a concrete pavement when he accidentally hit a live electric wire inside a PVC pipe at the village of San Roque around 4 p.m.


Cardel was rushed to Albay Doctor’s Hospital where he was declared dead.


Cordel was with four other workers of the Legazpi City Water District during the accident.

Edited by TSB…

Keep on reading: Worker dies after his jackhammer hits live wire during dig for water utility

Prelate urges Duterte to nix proposal to use nuclear energy in PH

in News

Published March 4, 2020, 10:02 PM

By Leslie Ann Aquino

A Catholic prelate has called on President Duterte to reject the proposal to use nuclear energy in the country.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos (CBCP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I am greatly concerned with the proposed Executive Order that is said to be drafted by (Department of Energy or DOE) Secretary Al Cusi which would include nuclear power in our energy mix,” San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said in a statement.

“We urge President Duterte not to sign this Executive Order and instead remind Sec. Cusi to make renewable energy our primary source of electricity.”

The vice chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) said the disasters in

Read More Prelate urges Duterte to nix proposal to use nuclear energy in PH

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

DOLE adopting measures to reduce impact of prolonged coronavirus outbreak

in News

Published March 4, 2020, 9:59 PM

By Leslie Ann Aquino

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is adopting measures to mitigate the impact of a prolonged outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) here and abroad.

DOLE Undersecretary Ana Dione

The labor department suggested that business enterprises affected by COVID-19 adopt flexible work arrangements.

“If this prolongs, the company will suffer losses and the first thing that they will do is trim down their employees. We want to prevent that. So, in the meantime, this is what we are suggesting (to them) so everybody will be kept afloat,” DOLE Undersecretary Ana Dione said in a press briefing Wednesday.

“The objective of this one is to help both employers and employees to get over the hump.”


Read More DOLE adopting measures to reduce impact of prolonged coronavirus outbreak

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

2 from Sorsogon province quarantined for COVID-19 tests

in Latest News

LEGAZPI CITY – Two persons had been quarantined in a facility in the Bicol region for closer monitoring for COVID-19.
The region, however, remained virus-free, according to the COVID-19 tracker of the Department of Health (DOH). There has been no confirmed case.
The DOH in Bicol said the two persons being closely monitored for COVID-19 were from the province of Sorsogon.
At least 15 persons had been admitted for tests in the region, but 13 had already been discharged after testing negative for the virus.
Edited by TSB…

Keep on reading: 2 from Sorsogon province quarantined for COVID-19 tests

House special panel approves bill granting P1 million incentive to 101-year-old Filipinos

in News

Published March 4, 2020, 9:54 PM

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House special committee on senior citizens has approved a bill seeking to grant a P1 million cash incentive to all 101-year-old senior citizens.

House of the Representatives (Facebook)

The House panel, chaired by Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. approved House Bill No. 1107, principally authored by Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.

“There is so much money being wasted everywhere. It is time to concentrate a portion of this for the benefit of Filipinos who have productively supporting the government, paying the taxes. In their old age, they should be given some kind of reward, let’s give them P1 million,” Atienza said during the panel deliberation on Tuesday (March 3).

“We will try to locate

Read More House special panel approves bill granting P1 million incentive to 101-year-old Filipinos

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

No proof of life yet of abducted physician in Sulu: Westmincom

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Dr. Daniel Moreno. (PNA file photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) is checking the veracity that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has demanded PHP5 million ransom in exchange for the release of the physician they seized in Jolo, Sulu.

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom chief, reiterated Wednesday the government’s “no ransom policy” in addressing the abduction of Dr. Daniel Moreno by the ASG bandits.

ASG bandits took Moreno on February 4 from his clinic cum residence in Barangay Walled City, Jolo.

“Lately, there is a PHP5 million ransom demand in exchange for his freedom according to the news that was circulating, but we will strictly stick to the no ransom policy. We don’t want any payment made since they will use the money to kidnap more victims,” Sobejana said in Filipino.

However, he said there is no proof of life yet although Moreno’s relatives have reportedly already received a ransom demand.

He said Moreno was taken by the group of ASG sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan based on the intelligence report they gathered.

Sawadjaan has been appointed as Emir of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Philippines and is believed to be coddling foreign terrorists in Sulu, the Army official said.

Sobejana said based on their assessment, the bandits took Moreno primarily to treat Sawadjaan, who is suffering from tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, Sobejana said the operations to rescue Moreno, including the five Indonesian fishermen, will continue in the province of Sulu.

The ASG bandits kidnapped the five Indonesian fishermen last January 18 near the coast of Malaysia. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

GenSan 'drug den' raid nets 5

in News

BUSTED DRUG DEN. Anti-drug operatives arrest five drug personalities and seized some PHP74,800 worth of suspected shabu in a raid on an alleged drug den in General Santos City early Wednesday. The suspects (in photo) were collared following a buy-bust around 2 a.m. at an apartment in Denoga Subdivision, Barangay Lagao. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Region 12)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Anti-drug operatives arrested five drug personalities and seized some PHP74,800 worth of suspected shabu in a raid on an alleged drug den here early Wednesday.

Katryn Gaye Abad, spokesperson of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Region 12, said the suspects were nabbed following a buy-bust around 2 a.m. at an apartment in Denoga Subdivision, Barangay Lagao.

Abad said the entrapment by PDEA-12 and the city police office targeted suspected pusher Kevin Mondejar of Barangay San Isidro.

Abad said Mondejar, 26, sold a sachet of suspected shabu worth PHP500 to a PDEA agent who posed as a buyer.

She said the operation led to the discovery of a drug den inside the apartment unit rented by Andrey Allen Barriatos, 27.

Also arrested were the alleged visitors of the den identified as Davis Calcis, 22; Aaron Causing, 21; and Revin Arky Mondejar, 28.

Recovered at the scene were three small and four medium plastic sachets containing suspected shabu weighing about 11 grams and valued of PHP74,800, two small open plastic sachets with suspected shabu residue, and other pieces of evidence.

Abad said Kevin and Revin Mondejar, who are reportedly cousins, are included on their target-list and subjected to a series of surveillance activities prior to the operation.

“Revin (Mondejar) was the alleged source of illegal drugs peddled by Kevin,” the PDEA official said in a report.

She said Revin was arrested in January 2017 by PDEA-12 agents along with elder brother Roman, then a student of the Mindanao State University College of Law, in a buy-bust in Barangay Lagao.  

Revin was placed under probation after availing of a plea bargain deal but later resumed with his illegal activities, she said.

Abad said charges are now being readied against the suspects, who are detained at the PDEA-12 lockup here for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

26 women take oath as full-fledged Army troopers

in News

IN THE ARMY NOW. A female Army cadet wipes her tears as she embraces her mother during the oath-taking ceremony at the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City on Tuesday. Of the 141 female recruits, 26 made it to the 4ID’s Candidate Soldier Course Class 643-2020. (Photo courtesy of 4ID)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A total of 26 female recruits of the Philippine Army took their oath at 4th Infantry “Diamond” Division (4ID) to become full-fledged government troopers on Tuesday at Camp Evangelista here.

The 26 were part of the 141 female applicants who underwent the comprehensive and stringent selection process that includes written examination, physical and medical examinations, and other proficiency tests.

One of them Marchie Grace Mainit, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Technology and a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) graduate from Caraga State University, thanked the members of the 4ID Selection Board for believing in her abilities.

“I am very blessed to be selected and be part of the Candidate Soldier Course Class 643-2020. I will do my best to surpass the training and dedicate my whole-heart service to the nation as a female soldier of the Philippine Army,” said the 24-year-old Mainit, a daughter of an overseas Filipino worker.

Another recruit, Jean Aplacador, said she was elated to be given the chance to fulfill a longtime dream of becoming an Army soldier.

“All of these I offer to my family. I can now help my parents so that my four siblings can finish their education,” said Aplacador, a farmer’s daughter.
Brig. Gen. Oliver Vesliño, 4ID assistant division commander, said the soldier-candidates will undergo a six-month rigid military training.

Vesliño, the keynote speaker during the oath-taking ceremony, reminded the trainees to leave their old life behind as they face “a new world of service to the nation.”

“After you’ve been given the chance to wear the uniform of the Army, always remember that you no longer carry the identities that you once possessed as civilians before you entered the military service. You will be molded and trained like all other infantry women to become professional soldiers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, 4ID commander, underscored the importance of “gender development and women empowerment, proving that we give equal opportunity to everyone, to lead and excel in their respective fields, and make change work for women here in 4th Infantry Division.” (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Coronavirus pushes Brent oil to lowest in 31 months

in News

ANKARA — The coronavirus epidemic has pushed the price of Brent crude on Monday to its lowest in 31 months and on the same week that investors await the critical OPEC meeting that will be held in Vienna, Austria on Thursday.

International benchmark Brent crude fell as low as USD48.40 per barrel on Monday to mark its lowest level since July 24, 2017, according to official data.

While this was the lowest level in two years and seven months, it was also a 32.5% decline since Jan. 8, 2020 when Brent peaked at USD71.75 per barrel due to the rising tension between the US and Iran in the Middle East that threatened secure oil supply from the region.

Coronavirus, which emerged in China and quickly spread throughout the world, has caused weak economic activity in Asia and low oil demand around the world.

Brent crude closed last Friday at USD50.52 per barrel, after starting the week at USD57.85 a barrel last Monday, posting a 12.6% weekly decline — the largest weekly plummet since January 2016.

American investment firm JPMorgan warned last month that if coronavirus develops into a SARS-style epidemic that hit China from 2002 to 2003, oil prices could fall by as much as USD5 per barrel.

Global rating agency Fitch Ratings also said on Feb. 5 the coronavirus outbreak could curb oil demand growth if it continues to spread, leading to an extended production surplus as output grows in Brazil, Norway and the U.S.

Critical OPEC meeting

To avoid an oil surplus in the global market, OPEC and its allies are expected to make further cuts to their production levels when they meet in Vienna on Thursday and Friday.

Most experts expect the group known as OPEC+ will make an additional output cut of at least 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) on top of their existing output curb of 1.7 million bpd that is already in place.

However, some experts concede it would not be a surprise if the group makes a deeper cut than expected.

OPEC+ could also extend its current production curb in place of 1.7 million bpd in place until the end of June to the end of this year.

Deeper and longer production cuts are anticipated to trim some of the supply glut in the global oil market against low demand to push crude prices higher. (Anadolu)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Money laundering, pornography by Chinese only ‘isolated incidents’

in Latest News

MANILA, Philippines — Money laundering and illegal pornography reportedly engaged in by Chinese nationals are only “isolated incidents,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila asserted Wednesday.

The incidents cannot represent the whole picture of China-Philippines relations, it added.

The embassy issued the statement amid reports that two suspected indicates identified as Chinese brought into the Philippines at least $370 million (P18.7 billion) in foreign dirty money, possibly being used for criminal activities.

READ: BOC confirms $370M in dirty money entered PH with PNP, AFP, airport escorts

It added that the Chinese government attaches “great importance” to fighting all kinds of…

Keep on reading: Money laundering, pornography by Chinese only ‘isolated incidents’

Syrian, Turkish armies engage in new deadly clashes in Idlib

in Latest News

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey said that two more of its soldiers were killed Wednesday in a Syrian government attack in northwestern Syria, as steady clashes between the two national armies continued to rack up casualties.

Turkey has sent thousands of troops into the area to support Syrian insurgents holed up there, but hasn’t been able to stop the Russian-backed Syrian government offensive to retake the Idlib province.

A Syrian opposition war monitor said nine Syrian soldiers were also killed in Turkish drone attacks in the northwestern area.

The Turkish Defense Ministry’s statement said that the latest Syrian attack on its troops also wounded six soldiers. It did not provide f…

Keep on reading: Syrian, Turkish armies engage in new deadly clashes in Idlib

Ungab’s ouster not an affront to Sara Duterte’s party

in Latest News

MANILA, Philippines — The decision to remove Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab as chairman of the House appropriations committee was not an affront against Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-led Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party.

READ: House shake-up: Ungab no longer chair of appropriations panel

This was the defense of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on the move to replace HNP member Ungab by ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap, adding that working with Ungab had been “untenable.”

HNP earlier slammed the ouster as “grossly unacceptable” and “disadvantageous to the Duterte administration’s reform agenda.”

READ: HNP: Ungab ouster as House appropriations panel chair ‘grossly unacceptable’

“Nirerespeto ko ‘…

Keep on reading: Ungab’s ouster not an affront to Sara Duterte’s party

Medical mission benefits victims of Taal volcano eruption

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ASSISTANCE. Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando (center, holding microphone) delivers his message to the people affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano at the covered court of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) housing project in Barangay Talaibon, Ibaan, Batangas on Wednesday (Mar. 4, 2020). The AFP housing project serves as evacuation center for the displaced families. (PNA photo by Manny Balbin)

IBAAN, Batangas – Some 435 families that were displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano benefitted from free medical assistance extended on Wednesday by the provincial government of Bulacan and the Damayang Filipino Movement Inc., a non-government organization.

Dubbed as “Tulong Bulacan Para sa mga Nasalanta ng Bulkang Taal,” the medical mission was held at the covered court of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) housing project in Barangay Talaibon here, which serves as an evacuation center for the affected families.

Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando personally led the 193 members of the medical team from the office of the provincial government of Bulacan and the Damayang Filipino Movement Inc.

Batangas Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) head Joy Montalbo said the evacuees came from the villages of Pulang Bato and Alas-as in San Nicolas town, an island near Taal Volcano.

“A total of 1,813 evacuees were allowed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) to use some 600 AFP housing units as their temporary shelter through the initiative of the Provincial Government headed by Governor Hermilando ‘Dodo’ Mandanas,” Montalbo said.

Bulacan PSWDO chief Rowena Joson said the medical team, comprised of 193 members, included 26 medical doctors, 18 nurses, and volunteers from the Damayang Filipino Movement Inc., Philippine National Police, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Provincial Engineering Office and PSWDO.

Mandanas thanked the Bulakenyos for the assistance extended to his constituents.

“Sama-sama tayong magpasalamat sa Panginoon at sa tulong ng mga taong malapit sa ating lalawigan. Salamat Governor Fernando at Vice Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado (Let us all thank God and the assistance given by the people close to our province. Thank you, Governor Fernando and Vice Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado),” he said.

Meanwhile, Fernando said: “This our way of giving back to them the blessings because when our province was devastated by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, Batangas was among the first ones who lent a helping hand to Bulacan”.

Aside from free medical consultation for senior citizens and children, free medicines and vitamins and free haircut were offered to the displaced villagers.

Packs of relief goods were also distributed to the evacuees.

Hilda Gamo, one of the evacuees from Barangay Pulang Bato, told the Philippine News Agency that they have nothing to return to in their village.

“Ang bahay namin ay natabunan na ito ng ashfall. At hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay hindi namin alam kung saan na kami titira (Our house was buried in ashfall. Up to now, we do not know where we are going to reside)” Gamo said.

Last January 16, Fernando donated PHP1 million to the provincial government of Batangas and 5,000 packs of relief goods for the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption on January 12. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Fire leaves 26 families homeless in Bataan

in News

FIRE IN BATAAN. SFO4 Rusoler Tayag, fire marshal of Orani, Bataan, says at least 24 houses were destroyed by a blaze that took place in Barangay Pantalan Bago of the town on Tuesday (Mar. 3, 2020). He said they are still investigating the cause of the fire that affected some 26 families. (Photo by Ernie Esconde)

ORANI, Bataan – A huge fire razed on Tuesday 24 houses, affecting 26 families, in a village here just past midnight.

SFO4 Rusoler Tayag, Orani fire marshal, said Wednesday the blaze broke out in Barangay Pantalan Bago at 12:05 a.m. and declared fire out at 2:16 a.m.

He said the fire reached the second alarm with five firetrucks from nearby towns of Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Samal and Abucay responding.

Tayag said they were still investigating the cause and the extent of damage of the fire. 

“Pagdating namin malaki na sunog. Dikit dikit ang mga bahay kaya mabilis natupok (When we arrived, the fire was already big. The houses were destroyed in the fire so fast because they were too close to one another),” he said.

He said villagers helped the firemen with the use of buckets.

“Pinapa-alaala namin hindi lang ngayon na ipractice natin ang safety. May tema kami ngayon na ‘Matuto ka, Sunog ay Iwasan’. Sana ang malaking sunog na ito ay huli na (We are reminding that safety should not only be practiced now. We now have our theme ‘Matuto ka, Sunog ay Iwasan’. I hope that this big fire will be the last),” he said.

Tayag said their fire prevention advocacy will fail if the people will not observe safety at all times.

He said some claimed that cause of fire was a quarreling couple residing in the house where the fire allegedly started.

One of the victims, Eddie Bunsoy, said they were not able to save any of their belongings. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

CITIRA to keep PH highly competitive in Asean

in News

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua 

MANILA — The Department of Finance (DOF) said the proposed incentives regime under Senate Bill (SB) No. 1357, or the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act (CITIRA), once approved by the Congress, will keep the Philippines highly competitive compared with other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region that also offer tax perks to investors.

In response to recent news that Thailand is offering its tax incentives to high-tech firms relocating from China, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the Philippines’ incentive offerings under CITIRA are “at the very least at par with, if not more generous and competitive compared to, those of Thailand.”

“There is a recent report that Thailand is offering a 50-percent income tax discount for five years to qualified high-tech firms, subject to conditions such as a minimum level of investment of 1 billion baht (or around USD32.7 million) and investment commencement in 2021. Relocating companies to Thailand will face a 10 percent tax on net income, instead of the regular 20 percent tax,” he said.

Chua said aside from the Philippines’ talented English-speaking workforce and young robust market, which are the main attractions to investors, the competitive tax incentive system under CITIRA will help draw in investments that are coming out of China as a result of the US-China trade war.

He added that under the Senate version of CITIRA, there are two options for companies seeking to apply for incentives.

“The first option is to avail of an income tax holiday (ITH) for two to four years, followed by a special tax rate on gross income for three to four years. The special rate will be increased from the current 5 percent of gross income to 8 percent in 2020, 9 percent in 2021, and 10 percent in 2022,” he said.

Chua said enjoyment of the ITH and special rate will initially be granted for five to eight years, and can be extended by up to 12 years total, which is longer than the five-year period offered by Thailand.

This special tax regime will still be in lieu of all national and local taxes, allowing investors to push down overall business costs and meet bottom line commitments, he said.

“In fact, the 8 percent tax on gross income is almost an 8 percent tax on net income as many firms no longer report indirect cost to take advantage of the incentives system to lower their tax due,” he added.

To promote ease of doing business, Chua further said investment promotion agencies (IPAs) shall remain as one-stop-shops for investors.

“The second option for investors is to avail of the regular corporate income tax (CIT) rate with generous enhanced deductions for five to eight years, which may be extended by three or four years at a time for a total duration of 12 years,” Chua said.

He said the enhanced deductions under SB 1357 include up to 50-percent additional deduction on power expense, which is a new provision not found in earlier versions of the bill; up to 50-percent additional deduction on labor expense to promote job creation; up to 100-percent additional deduction on research and development (R&D) to promote innovation; and up to 50 percent additional deduction on domestic input expense to promote domestic supply chains.

Also included in the Senate version of CITIRA, he said, are the deduction for reinvestment allowance to the manufacturing industry (up to 50 percent of reinvestment) to promote quicker expansion and job creation; depreciation allowance of the assets acquired for the entity’s production of goods and services (additional 10 percent for buildings and 20 percent for machinery); and enhanced net operating loss carry over (NOLCO).

“Many of these additional deductions are not present in the current incentive system in the Philippines and in other countries. CITIRA precisely includes them to directly address some of the constraints in doing business in the Philippines while making our proposed incentive system under CITIRA more competitive than our neighbors,” he said.

Chua said CITIRA also includes a provision where the President can approve special incentives if the current package is not sufficient to attract the largest investors.

“That is how we aim to attract them when CITIRA is passed,” he added.

Chua also noted the recent news that foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges in the Philippines more than doubled last year, compared to 2018.

Based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), PHP390 billion in FDI pledges were approved in 2019, versus the PHP183 billion recorded in 2018.

This was mainly because of the performance of the Board of Investments (BOI), which despite offering only time-bound incentives, accounted for 86.1 percent of the pledges last year.

“The strong performance of FDI pledges in 2019 is a positive signal that the international community continues to regard the Philippines as one of the prime investment destinations in Asia. The sooner CITIRA is passed, the sooner these investments will materialize,” he said.

Senate ways and means committee chairperson, Sen. Pia Cayetano had earlier sponsored the measure in the Senate plenary.

She described CITIRA as “a fair deal for all” and “the best deal for Filipinos” in her sponsorship speech.

The measure seeks to reduce the CIT rate in the country, which is currently the highest in the Asean region, and reform the fiscal incentives system to make it more fair, efficient, and accountable.

CITIRA was among the priority bills endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 4th State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) last July 2019.

In his SONA speech, President Duterte said, “It will energize our MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and encourage them to expand their business. The MSMEs hold the promise of raising a lot of Filipinos (from poverty).” (PR)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

GenSan dads hail ex-mayor as ‘human rights icon’

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HUMAN RIGHTS ICON. The City Council of General Santos recognizes veteran lawyer and former mayor Dominador Lagare Sr. (in wheelchair) as a “human rights icon” in honor of his record as a staunch rights defender, especially during the martial law period, on Tuesday (March 3, 2020). Also in photo are City Councilors Jonathan Blando (standing, far right), Lourdes Casabuena (2nd from right), and Lagare’s family, friends, and supporters. (Photo grab from the Facebook post of City Councilor Lourdes Casabuena)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The City Council has recognized a veteran lawyer and former mayor here as a “human rights icon”.

City Council members gave the plaudits to lawyer Dominador Lagare Sr. through a resolution unanimously passed during their regular session on Tuesday in honor of his “exceptional valor, gallantry and valiance” as a staunch human rights lawyer.

City Councilor Lourdes Casabuena, author of the resolution, said Lagare deserves the highest citation and commendation from the city for his contributions to the city’s development, both as a lawyer and former city official.

“As (a) fearless human rights (lawyer), he risked his life, the grandeur of the legal profession, and perfectly abundant life for the cause of the hapless victims of human rights (violations),” Casabuena said.

The 77-year-old Lagare, now wheelchair-bound due to a lingering illness, received a plaque and a copy of the citation in a simple ceremony during the city council session.

He thanked the city council members for recognizing his efforts and contributions to the city.

“This is a big honor. I’m hoping that the city will continue to support our advocacies towards the advancement of human rights,” he said.

Lagare was appointed as acting mayor of the city in March 1986 following the People Power Revolution that toppled the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos and installed the revolutionary government of former president Corazon Aquino.

He ran and won as city councilor for a total of four terms – first in 1988-1992, then two straight terms in 1995-2001, and again in 2004-2007.

Lagare served as a human rights defender and handled cases of detainees during the martial law years.  

Casabuena said Lagare’s accomplishments as a human rights lawyer and public servant is a worthy example for the present and future generations.

She said for Lagare, “fighting for the inviolability of civil and political rights necessary for the preservation of our humane civilization is worth fighting and dying for.”

“(He) is wholly committed to the noble precepts of public service that has earned (the) utmost respect and admiration of this Sanggunian (Council),” she said. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Chinese Embassy: Criminal cases linked to Chinese individuals are ‘isolated incidents’ and do not represent totality of PH-CN ties

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Published March 4, 2020, 9:13 PM

By Roy Mabasa

The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Wednesday voiced its strong opposition against what it called “irresponsible remarks based on fake news” over reports linking Chinese nationals to money laundering and other illegal activities in the country.

In a statement, the Embassy said the individual and criminal cases of certain Chinese nationals are “isolated” instances and does not represent the totality of Philippine-China ties.

“The Chinese Embassy firmly opposes any irresponsible remarks based on fake news and condemns any groundless allegations against China out of ulterior political motives. Individual illegal and criminal cases involving Chinese citizens are only isolated incidents and cannot represent the whole picture of China-Philippines relations,” the Embassy said.

It said that the Chinese government attaches

Read More Chinese Embassy: Criminal cases linked to Chinese individuals are ‘isolated incidents’ and do not represent totality of PH-CN ties

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

Senators call for reconsideration of gov’t policies on POGOs

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Published March 4, 2020, 9:11 PM

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators believe it is high time for the Philippine government to reconsider its policy on offshore gaming operations after the Senate’s discovery of the various illegal schemes allegedly involving the foreign nationals employed in the industry.

Senate of the Philippines building (Senate of the Philippines official Facebook / File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the Philippines has become a “washing machine” for the millions of dollars of “dirty” money that is entering the country along with the surge of Chinese nationals.

This was after Sen. Richard Gordon revealed in his privilege speech on Tuesday (March 3) that some US$447.07 million or P22.69 billion in “dirty” cash was brought into

Read More Senators call for reconsideration of gov’t policies on POGOs

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

Wife of slain Masbate vice mayor posts bail in libel case

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Published March 4, 2020, 9:10 PM

By Minka Klaudia Tiangco

The wife of slain Batuan, Masbate vice mayor Charlie Yuson III posted P30,000 bail before a Manila court for a libel charge on Wednesday morning.

A warrant for Lalaine Yuson’s arrest was released on Feb. 28 after Manila City Regional Trial Court Branch 49 Judge Daniel Villanueva found probable cause to indict her for libel.

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Sandra Cam filed a libel charge against the vice mayor’s wife after she tagged Cam as the mastermind behind Yuson’s killing.

Yuson’s widow claimed her husband’s killing was politically motivated, after their son Charmax Jan won as mayor against Cam’s son Martin in the last local elections.

The PCSO executive denied Lalaine’s accusations and also

Read More Wife of slain Masbate vice mayor posts bail in libel case

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

BPI exec cites PH's REIT potential

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Reginaldo Cariaso, head of BPI Corporate Banking Strategy, Products, and Solutions

MANILA – An official of the Ayala-led Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) said he is optimistic about the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in the country, noting that among the main goals of Filipinos is to have a real estate investment.

In a briefing on Wednesday, BPI Corporate Banking Strategy, Products, and Solutions head Reginaldo Cariaso said Filipino investors are “very well aware” of the investment, citing that the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 9856, or the REIT Act, was released about a decade after the law’s enactment.

Cariaso said REITs are “designed to be a fairly conservative instrument” that people who are afraid to put their money in risky assets, such as equities, have various options.

Other prospective investors are people who have invested in equities but are looking for less volatile investments, and those who want high yields.

Citing data from Hong Kong Exchanges (KHEX), which has a REIT market, he said REITs have superior price performance compared to Hong Kong’s property index.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand’s (SET) REITs are also less volatile compared to the country’s property index, Cariaso said.

REITs are private entities invested in income-generating real estates, such as office spaces, malls, service apartments, hotels, hospitals, and warehouses.

The REIT law’s IRR requires companies to list with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), with a minimum public float of 33 percent but must be increased to 67 percent within three years.

REIT companies are also required to reinvest their earnings in the local real estate sector to help boost the government’s infrastructure program.

With the current low-interest rate environment and global volatility, Cariaso said REITs have lots of potential in the Philippines, with capitalization projected to be at par with that of Malaysia’s estimated USD7 billion and Thailand’s USD11 billion.

He further said that since the investment is on real property, Filipinos are “very familiar” with it.

“Of course, it’s important that the first few REIT sponsors are well-recognized names with strong reputation to give investor comfort that they’ve been able to deliver shareholder value over time and that they have the expertise to execute,” Cariaso added. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

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