US LAYS OUT CASE AGAINST 'UNLAWFUL' CHINA MARITIME CLAIMS
WASHINGTON, United States — The United States on Wednesday laid out its most detailed case yet against Beijing's "unlawful" claims in the South China Sea, rejecting both the geographic and historic bases for its vast, divisive map.
In a 47-page research paper, the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs said China had no basis under international law for claims that have put Beijing on a collision course with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations.
"The overall effect of these maritime claims is that the PRC unlawfully claims sovereignty or some form of exclusive jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea," the paper said, referring to the People's Republic of China.
"These claims gravely undermine the rule of law in the oceans and numerous universally recognized provisions of international law reflected in the Convention," it said, referring to a 1982 UN treaty on the law of the sea ratified by China — but not the United States.
Releasing the study, a State Department statement called again on Beijing "to cease its unlawful and coercive activities in the South China Sea."
The paper is an update of a 2014 study that similarly disputed the so-called "nine-dash line" that forms the basis for much of Beijing's stance.
The State Department paper said that such historical-based claims had "no legal basis" and that China had not offered specifics.
It also took issue with geographic justifications for China's claims, saying that more than 100 features Beijing highlights in the South China Sea are submerged by water during high tide and therefore are "beyond the lawful limits of any state's territorial sea."
DOH CALLS FOR SHORTENED ISOLATION REQUIREMENTS; TESTING ONLY NEEDED FOR SYMPTOMATIC PEOPLE
MANILA—The isolation period for the general population will be shortened to 7 days for vaccinated individuals and 10 days for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated persons who are probable, mild, and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health said on Wednesday.
This developed after the isolation period for healthcare workers was shortened to mitigate a medical workforce decimated by increasing coronavirus cases in its ranks.
"The updated recommendations was deemed necessary because the difference in guidelines for quarantine of isolation of travelers, the general public, and specific sectors like healthcare workers have been causing confusion on the ground," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual town hall.
Changes in isolation guidelines will take effect once the DOH has released a policy issue while the updated testing guidelines are being discussed with other agencies.
It was not clear as of posting time how soon the new policy would take effect. Pandemic policies are normally approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force before they are enforced.
The DOH is set to present the guidelines to the Inter-Agency Task Force for alignment with other agencies prior to releasing a policy issue, Vergeire told ABS-CBN News.
People with a moderate case of COVID-19 will be isolated for 10 days from the onset of symptoms regardless of vaccination status while those with severe and critical symptoms must isolate for 21 days, whether they are vaccinated or not.
Meanwhile, immunocompromised individuals must isolate for 21 days from the onset of symptoms and present a negative RT-PCR test after isolation.
Vaccinated and asymptomatic people who have been exposed and have had close contact with a COVID-19 case will be isolated for only 5 days, 2 days shorter than the previous requirement.
If they are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and have been exposed to a COVID-19 case, they will be isolated for 14 days.
Healthcare workers who have been exposed, meanwhile, will only need to isolate for 5 days, or shorter, depending on the risk assessment of their hospital or health facility.
Counting for the updated isolation period guideline begins on the first day of the onset of symptoms.
28 MORE AREAS ELEVATED TO COVID-19 ALERT 3 FROM FRIDAY
MANILA — Twenty-eight more areas will be upgraded to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 starting later this week, Malacañang said on Wednesday, as the Philippines battled another wave of coronavirus infections.
The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 placed the following areas under Alert 3, effective this Friday until Jan. 31, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.
Benguet, Kalinga and Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region
La Union, Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan in Region 1
Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and Quirino in Region 2
Nueva Ecija and Tarlac in Region 3
Quezon Province in Region 4-A
Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro in Region 4-B
Camarines Sur and Albay in Region 5
Bacolod City, Aklan, Capiz and Antique in Region 6
Cebu City and Mandaue City in Region 7
Tacloban City in Region 8
Cagayan de Oro City in Region 10
Davao City in Region 11
Butuan City and Agusan del Sur in CARAGA
Cotabato City in BARMM
"All other provinces and cities not mentioned shall remain under their current alert level classification," said Nograles.
He said the COVID-19 task force will discuss the alert level for these areas on Thursday.
Metro Manila and several other areas are under Alert 3 at least until Jan. 15.
Alert Level 3 bans face-to-face classes, contact sports, funfairs, and casinos.
COMELEC UNANIMOUSLY JUNKS PDP-LABAN FACTION'S BID TO REOPEN COC FILING
MANILA — The Commission on Elections unanimously dismissed the petition of a faction of the administration party to reopen the filing of certificates of candidacy, citing among its arguments a "political vacuum" caused by their candidate's withdrawal from the presidential race.
The Comelec has yet to release the decision on the petition but its spokesperson James Jimenez made the announcement.
The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi pleaded in December for the Comelec to resume accepting certificates of candidacy, saying the poll body ended the filing period too soon.
The Cusi faction said then that the Comelec is still working on pending petitions and cannot yet print official ballots even if the period for filing COCs and substitutions has already passed.
It added that the poll body did not have enough time “to remedy the political vacuum” created by Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa’s withdrawal from the presidential race, itself a last-minute decision by the Cusi wing.
This move by the Cusi faction of the PDP-Laban raised concerns that the elections might be delayed were the Comelec to grant its petition.
So much so that Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is running for president, said most senators agreed that they can elect a new Senate president before Congress adjourns who will act as president until a new president or vice president is elected.
A rival faction of the PDP-Laban led by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III also cautioned against the petition, saying it "may result in delaying and derailing the electoral process" and would risk "failed elections to prolong their hold on power."
DEPED ALLOWS LOCALIZED CLASS SUSPENSIONS AMID COVID-19 SURGE
MANILA —The Department of Education is allowing its local officials to suspend classes and other teaching-related activities amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, an education official said Thursday.
In a memorandum issued Wednesday, the agency authorized its regional offices and school division offices to suspend classes this month based on their reliable assessment of health status of their teachers and learners, and the prevailing COVID-19 risk classification of their locality.
"The ROs/SDOs shall decide on the specific dates and number of days for the suspension of classes as long as the period of class suspension does not exceed 2 weeks in order to avoid a prolonged disruption in the current school calendar," the memorandum read.
Several groups have called for "health breaks" in public schools, saying many educators and students have gotten sick showing either flu-like symptoms or those of COVID-19.
"Mahirap gawin na nationwide ito sapagkat this will seriously affect [our learning process and school calendars]," Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan told TeleRadyo in an interview Thursday.
According to DepEd, all synchronous and asynchronous classes shall be put on hold while submission of academic requirements and conduct of other teaching-related activities must be moved to a later date during the suspension of classes.
For late submission of requirements, accommodations must be afforded for those with valid reasons, it added.
'SURVIVORSHIP BENEFITS' FOR PROSECUTORS' KIN GUARANTEED IN NEW LAW
MANILA — A law granting benefits to the spouse and dependent children of deceased retired members of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) has been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Republic Act 11643 provides that the surviving legitimate spouse and dependent children of a deceased prosecutor will be entitled to receive all the retirement benefits that he or she was already receiving or entitled to receive.
Under the law, "dependent" refers to a "legitimate, illegitimate, or legally adopted child who is chiefly dependent on the said deceased member of the NPS if such dependent is not more than 21 years of age, unmarried and not gainfully employed."
A dependent could also be, regardless of age, "incapable of self-support because of mental or physical defect or condition."
The surviving legitimate spouse will continue to receive the said retirement benefits until he or she remarries, provided that the surviving spouse and dependent children shall equally share the retirement benefits, said the law.
The law will cover the dependents and spouse of NPS members who died a year before the measure's effectivity.
"This measure recognizes the courage of our prosecutors, who in the faithful performance of their duties as members of the court face serious threats and risks to their lives and that of their families," Sen. Richard Gordon, who pushed for the law, said in September.
LRT-2 SAYS COMMUTERS MUST PRESENT VACCINATION CARD UNDER 'NO VAX, NO RIDE' POLICY
MANILA - The Light Rail Transit Authority on Thursday said vaccinated passengers of the LRT-2 line must present proper documentation to be able to board the trains.
In an advisory, the LRTA said one of the following must be presented:
-physical or digital copy of vaccination cards
-vaccination certificate from the Department of Health
-any IATF-prescribed document
Meanwhile, those not covered by the "no vaccination, no ride" policy of the Department of Transportation must present the following:
• medical certificate with signature and contact number of doctors for those who cannot be inoculated due to medical conditions
• barangay health pass or any proof that the person is allowed to travel for the following: medical emergencies, purchase of essential goods and services such as (but not limited to) water, food, medicine, medical devices, public utilities, power, work and other medical and dental needs
The DOTr on Wednesday announced the "no vaccination, no ride" policy in Metro Manila starting Jan. 17.
The measure has drawn criticisms from some officials, several commuter groups, and the Commission on Human Rights.
PHILIPPINES LOGS 32,246 NEW INFECTIONS; ACTIVE CASES AT 208,164
MANILA — The Department of Health reported Wednesday 32,246 additional COVID-19 infections, bringing the number of active cases to 208,164.
The active case count is the highest so far.
In total, the Philippines has recorded 3,058,634 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The country is seeing a dramatic rise in infections this month following the detection of the hyper-transmissible Omicron variant and increased mobility during the holiday season.
According to the DOH, Metro Manila (56%), Calabarzon (22%) and Central Luzon were the regions with the most number of cases in the recent two weeks.
The positivity rate was 45.7% out of 63,903 tests. This was way above the 5-percent threshold of the World Health Organization for opening economies.
Eleven testing laboratories did not submit their data to the department.
The death toll hit 52,654 after 144 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 5,063 to 2,797,816.
WHO: NO NEED TO RAISE ALERT LEVEL IN METRO MANILA
MANILA — There is no need to raise Metro Manila's alert level to 4 as the health system can still manage the surge in COVID-19 cases, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
“We are looking closely at the current Alert Level 3. We are seeing a significant reduction in mobility and if yesterday’s reduction in numbers is any indication, maybe the current alert levels are adequate,” Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines, told state television PTV.
The current alert level status of the capital region will expire on January 15.
Abeyasinghe stressed that restrictions will be tightened “only if we see signs of the health system being overwhelmed.”
“Right now we don’t see that,” he said.
“The red line analysis we have done projects we can manage the health system until about the 27th or 28th of January given the trends up to yesterday,” the WHO official added, noting the system may be able to handle the surge beyond those dates if the decline in cases continues.
The Department of Health on Tuesday logged 28,007 additional COVID-19 cases, lower than the record-high of 33,169 cases on Monday.
But DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III stressed that it is premature to say that the country has reached the peak of its COVID-19 surge after reporting a slight decrease in the daily case tally.
“We might still be in the acceleration phase of our surge,” Duque said.
QUEZON CITY OFFERS CASH AID TO VENDORS WHO GET JAB
MANILA — The Quezon City government will give cash incentives to vendors who will get vaccinated against COVID-19 this month.
Mayor Joy Belmonte has signed a memorandum providing P2,000 in cash aid to ambulant and market vendors as well as employees who are willing to get COVID jabs until Jan. 31.
“Most of our market vendors cannot leave their stalls because of possible loss of income. So to encourage them to take a day off to get vaccinated, we will provide them with incentives,” Belmonte said.
“This program seeks to protect both the market vendors and their customers whom they come into close contact with every day. If they get vaccinated, we are protecting them from the virus and improving the city’s overall immunity,” she added.
The local government earlier approved an ordinance regulating the mobility of unvaccinated people in Quezon City.
MANILA ROLLS OUT BOOSTER DRIVE-THRU VACCINATION
MANILA — The Manila city government will start today its booster drive-through vaccination caravan for motorists.
Mayor Isko Moreno inspected the vaccination site at the Quirino Grandstand yesterday. He was joined by Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and other local officials during the inspection.
“Due to the requests of our constituents, we initiated this drive-through vaccination in Rizal Park. Instead of first and second doses, we will use the site for booster vaccination,” Moreno said in a statement.
He said the local government would administer booster doses to motorists, both Manila residents and non-residents, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
City hall said the first 300 vehicles, with a maximum of five passengers per car, would be eligible for booster shots.
“The city government will administer 1,500 booster doses daily,” Moreno said.
Booster shots for delivery riders are also available at the Kartilya ng Katipunan inoculation site.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
'WE FREE EACH OTHER': JASON MOMOA, LISA BONET END THEIR MARRIAGE
Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet have broken up after nearly five years of being married.
The “Aquaman” actor announced their separation by sharing their joint statement on Instagram.
"We have all felt the squeeze and changes of these transformational times… A revolution is unfolding ~and our family is of no exception… feeling and growing from the seismic shifts occurring And so~ We share our family news~ That we are parting ways in marriage," Momoa and Bonet said.
The two said they are sharing this not because they think it is newsworthy but so they could go about their lives with dignity and honesty.
Despite calling it quits, the pair said "the love between us carries on, evolving in ways it wishes to be known and lived. We free each other ~to be who we are learning to become…"
"Our devotion unwavering to this sacred life & our Children. Teaching our Children What’s possible ~ Living the Prayer May Love Prevail. J & L," they ended their statement.
Momoa and Bonet have been together for over a decade. They tied the knot in October 2017. Together, they share two children.
NBA SCORES JAN 11
1 2 3 4 T
Thunder13-27 31 30 32 25 118
Wizards21-20 30 28 36 28 122
CAPITAL ONE ARENA, WASHINGTON, DC
S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC
32 PTS 3 REB 8 AST
K. Kuzma WAS
29 PTS 5 REB 3 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Suns31-9 23 23 23 30 99
Raptors20-18 31 17 23 24 95
SCOTIABANK ARENA, TORONTO, ON
J. Crowder PHO
19 PTS 5 REB 3 AST
O. Anunoby TOR
25 PTS 2 REB 1 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Pistons9-31 27 25 14 21 87
Bulls27-11 28 33 36 36 133
UNITED CENTER, CHICAGO, IL
J. Jackson DET
16 PTS 2 REBN. Vucevic CHI
22 PTS 8 REB 4 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Warriors30-10 24 27 39 18 108
Grizzlies29-14 28 31 28 29 116
FEDEXFORUM, MEMPHIS, TN
S. Curry GS
27 PTS 10 REB 10 AST
J. Morant MEM
29 PTS 5 REB 8 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Timberwolves20-21 36 23 30 36 125
Pelicans15-26 35 30 32 31 128
SMOOTHIE KING CENTER, NEW ORLEANS, LA
A. Edwards MIN
28 PTS 4 REB 5 AST
B. Ingram NO
33 PTS 4 REB 9 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Nuggets20-19 18 23 25 19 85
Clippers21-21 16 12 27 32 87
CRYPTO.COM ARENA, LOS ANGELES, CA
A. Gordon DEN
30 PTS 12 REB 1 AST
A. Coffey LAC
18 PTS 5 REB 7 AST
FOREX $1 = P 51.19
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Live quietly in the moment and see the beauty of all before you. The future will take care of itself. - Paramhansa Yogananda