CHINA TO STAGE MAJOR DRILLS AROUND TAIWAN AFTER PELOSI VISIT
China is due on Thursday to kick off its largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan, in a show of force straddling vital international shipping lanes following a visit to the self-ruled island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi left Taiwan Wednesday after a less than 24-hour visit that defied a series of increasingly stark threats from Beijing, which views the island as its territory.
She declared her presence made it "unequivocally clear" that the United States would "not abandon" a democratic ally like Taiwan.
Her trip sparked a furious reaction from Beijing, which vowed "punishment" for those that had offended it and announced military drills in the seas around Taiwan -- some of the world's busiest waterways.
The exercises, set to begin at 12:00 pm (0400 GMT), will involve "training activities including live-fire drills", according to an announcement in state media.
They will take place in multiple zones encircling Taiwan -- at some points within just 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the island's shore -- and will conclude at midday on Sunday.
Nationalist state-run tabloid the Global Times reported, citing military analysts, that the exercises were "unprecedented" and that missiles would fly over Taiwan for the first time.
Taipei has condemned the plans, warning they threaten the security of the East Asia region.
ASEAN MINISTERS URGE RESTRAINT AFTER PELOSI TAIWAN VISIT
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Southeast Asian nations Wednesday urged restraint over Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island prompted an enraged China to vow "punishment".
Pelosi's dramatic trip to Taipei, defying stark threats by China, overshadowed a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, which had been expected to focus on the bloody crisis engulfing Myanmar.
ASEAN spokesman Kung Phoak, Cambodia's deputy foreign minister, said ministers at the closed-door talks -- meeting face to face for the first time since the pandemic -- had expressed concern over "growing tension in the Taiwan Strait."
"We hope that all sides will try their best to deescalate the tension there, avoid actions that may contribute to the escalation of tension and engage in dialogue," Kung Phoak told reporters.
Malaysia and Thailand echoed the calls for calm, with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah urging all sides to tread "very carefully".
Thai foreign ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said the kingdom called for "utmost restraint" and warned against "any actions that would aggravate tensions".
Attention will now turn to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his American counterpart Antony Blinken who will join ASEAN and other ministers for regional security talks on Thursday and Friday.
On Wednesday Wang slammed the trip by Pelosi -- the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years -- as a violation of Chinese sovereignty.
"Those who play with fire will not come to a good end, and those who offend China will be punished," he warned in an interview in Phnom Penh with Chinese state media.
DOH SAYS PHILIPPINES READY TO MANAGE MONKEYPOX CASES
MANILA - The Philippines is ready to manage monkeypox cases, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said following the detection of the country's first case of the disease last week.
Based on latest information from the DOH, all close contacts of the first monkeypox case remain asymptomatic.
Aside from the virus, one of the challenges in relation to the disease is misinformation and discrimination of those infected.
"Gusto natin klaruhin, monkeypox has not been classified as a sexually transmitted disease. The very reason na naiisip ito ay STD ay dahil sa presentasyon na pinapakita niya. Almost 95% of the cases all over the world was spread thru sexual contact," Vergeire said in an interview.
The World Health Organization said anyone can get infected with monkeypox.
Aside from usual symptoms like fever and swollen lymph nodes, the WHO says they are seeing new manifestations of the illness.
"This includes things that can be extremely painful and need medical care such as secondary infections, inflammation or swelling of the rectum. These are really conditions that require care. In addition, there can be the occasional conditions such as encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain," said Dr. Rosamund Lewis of the WHO Technical Lead for Monkeypox.
In the Philippines, other agencies like the Department of Transportation is now planning to work with the DOH to come up with possible guidelines to avoid viral transmission particularly in public transportation.
This, especially now that public utility vehicles operate at fully capacity.
HONTIVEROS SEEKS PROBE INTO POSSIBLE VACCINE WASTAGE WORTH UP TO P13 BILLION
MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said she has filed a resolution seeking to investigate reports of "unused and expired COVID-19 vaccines" that could amount to wastage "equivalent to a whopping P5 billion to P13 billion."
Hontiveros cited "various reports" that between April to July this year, it is possible there were 4 to 27 million unused and expired doses bound to be thrown away.
"Of course, may mga vaccines na alam nating hindi magagamit dahil sa iba’t ibang dahilan. May margin of error naman talaga. But in this case, goodbye agad sa halagang bilyun-bilyong piso? Mukhang magtatapon tayo ng pera at bakuna sa kabila ng mabilis na namang pagtaas ng mga COVID-19 cases," the senator said.
Hontiveros said the investigation aimed to determine what caused the alleged wastage so that it could be addressed.
"Saan ba nagkamali o nagkulang sa proseso? Sa pagplano o sa pagbili? Sa roll out ba? Sa paglabas ng mga guidelines?"
Hontiveros added that officials of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 should explain the alleged vaccine wastage.
Hontiveros is expecting a possible joint investigation by the Senate blue ribbon and health committees.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, the health committee chairman, assured Hontiveros of his panel’s immediate calendaring of her request for probe.
DTI TO ENFORCE SENIORS, PWD DISCOUNT ONLINE
The Department of Trade and Industry has warned establishments to honor the 20 percent discount on medicines and 5 percent special discount on basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC) for senior citizens and persons with disabilities when they purchase through online, telephone, or mobile transactions.
“We want to make sure our seniors and PWDs are able to avail. If they have concerns over establishments who do not observe these benefits, they can alert us so we can act on it,” DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.
Castelo said if an establishment becomes the subject of a third complaint, a case shall automatically be filed before the Office of the Prosecutor without the need of mediation, and without prejudice to the right of the local government unit to revoke its license or permit.
Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01, entitled “Guidelines on the Provision of the Mandatory Statutory Benefits and Privileges of the Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities on their Purchases through Online (e-commerce) and Phone Call/SMS,” was released on May 6.
It was signed by the Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the National Commission of Senior Citizens, and the National Council on Disability Affairs.
For BNPCs, the total amount of offline and online purchases of senior citizens and PWDs per calendar week shall not exceed P1,300. The purchase of medicines, however, shall not be limited by the P1,300 ceiling.
Upon the delivery of the medicine and BNPCs, seniors and PWDs must present their ID and purchase booklets. They may be charged with the full amount of their purchased goods if they fail to produce their ID and purchase booklets.
“If establishments do not honor—whether it’s 5 percent or 20 percent—they can always call any of the implementing agencies in this JMC for the appropriate actions against the business establishment. I think it will be easiest for them to call DTI at 1384—that’s our consumer hotline or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org,” Castelo said.
VP ROLLS OUT ‘LIBRENG SAKAY’ PROJECT IN 4 KEY AREAS
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) on Wednesday launched its “Libreng Sakay” or free ride program for four key cities across the country, which will use five buses lent by the private sector to VP Sara Duterte-Carpio when she was still running for office in the May 9 elections.
The OVP’s Libreng Sakay Program intends to supplement the Department of Transportation’s similarly named program for the EDSA Busway Carousel, which offers free rides to commuters until the end of the year, on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s orders last month.
“These were buses that were lent to us during the campaign and after the campaign, after election day, these buses were on standby, not doing anything and were always parked,” Duterte-Carpio explained during the launching ceremony at the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
She said two buses will be used in Metro Manila, one in Davao City, one in Cebu, and one in Bacolod, as the program aims to provide relief to Filipinos dependent on public transportation to go to work, school, and other places.
“It will support the national government’s program, and at the same time, it is hoped that this meager contribution would translate to daily savings for our public transport riding kababayans,” the VP said.
She added that after she assumed office, the buses were lent to the OVP but were mostly put on standby unless there were transportation requests made by different groups.
The Vice President’s free-ride program would also last for six years as the private sector has lent it to Duterte-Carpio’s office for that long, her spokesman Reynold Munsayac said.
EX-PRESIDENT FVR TO BE ACCORDED STATE FUNERAL ON AUG. 9: PALACE
MANILA — The late President Fidel V. Ramos will be given a state funeral with full military honors on August 9, Malacañang said Wednesday.
"The state funeral is a right of the family of a deceased president. So yes, he will be accorded a state funeral with full military honors," Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing.
According to his family, Ramos will be brought to his final resting place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Ramos passed away last Sunday, July 31, at the age of 94.
Cruz-Angeles though said there is "no confirmation" whether or not Marcos will go to the late president's wake at the Heritage Park in Taguig, citing security reasons.
Ramos is a second-degree cousin of Marcos' father and namesake, who was Philippine president from 1965 until 1986.
Ramos was a key figure in the 1986 People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos Sr. from power and installed democracy icon Corazon Aquino as president.
He was appointed as military chief and then defense secretary during Aquino's term, and got the latter's endorsement during the 1992 presidential elections.
Ramos' administration was best known for its "Philippines 2000" program, often credited with revitalizing the country's economy. It was during his time that the Philippines was labeled the next "Tiger Economy" due to economic liberalization and inflow of investments.
His push for the peace process was also considered among his legacies.
AZURIN OFFICIALLY ASSUMES PNP'S TOP POST
MANILA — Police General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. officially assumed the Philippine National Police's (PNP) top post on Wednesday afternoon.
Azurin is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s first appointed PNP chief.
A La Union native, Azurin is a member of the Philippine Military Academy "Makatao" Class of 1989.
GMA FILES ANTI-TURNCOATISM BILL
Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has filed a bill prohibiting political butterflies, or politicians who switch political parties before, during, or after elections.
The measure filed by Arroyo, representative of Pampanga’s second district, also imposed stiffer penalties for violators.
“Our history tells us that political parties in the Philippines are normally used only as political vehicles to win an election. Hence, most political aspirants change political parties for convenience, rather than because of conviction,” Arroyo said in the bill’s explanatory note.
She said switching political parties “only shows the lack of ideological commitment to the members of a party because they choose parties based on the rise and fall of the tide of opportunity.”
Arroyo said, “turncoatism should never be encouraged nor tolerated since it only distorts the concept of word of honor and dignity of a leader.”
The bill recommends that political turncoats shall be deemed to have forfeited their elective office if they change their political party affiliation one year before or after any elections.
It also prescribes the penalty of disqualification from running for any elective position in the next succeeding election immediately after the act of changing political party affiliation.
Arroyo said her bill, once enacted, will prevent the system of ward politics and political chameleons.
CHILD RIGHTS GROUPS LAUD PASSAGE OF LAW VS ONLINE ABUSE OF KIDS
MANILA — Child rights groups lauded the enactment of the measure that protects children against online sexual abuse and exploitation, saying it will make cyberspace safe for children.
For Child Rights Network, the passage of Republic Act 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) Law “marks the dawn of safer online spaces for children.”
“It is our fervent wish for Filipino children to safely navigate the virtual space without fear. RA 11930 symbolizes the break of dawn heralding a future where no more children are harmed, abused, and victimized through the internet,” CRN convenor Romeo Dongeto said.
RA 11930 lapsed into law last July 30. The measure requires social media platforms, electronic service providers, and internet and financial intermediaries to block child sexual abuse or exploitation materials (CSAEM) and cooperate with law enforcement agents.
The law also provides tools to law enforcement authorities when surveilling and investigating OSAEC cases.
It also creates the National Coordinating Center against OSAEC and Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Material, and establishes protections and guarantees for child victims of OSAEC to address any psycho-social needs.
PHILIPPINE AIRLINES POSTS RECORD PROFIT IN FIRST HALF OF 2022
MANILA - Philippine Airlines posted a comprehensive net income of $71 million (P4.2 billion) in the first half of 2022 driven by the continued recovery from the pandemic, its operator PAL Holdings said Thursday.
This also marks the first positive first and second quarter financial result for the flag carrier since 2016, PAL Holdings Inc said in a disclosure to the stock exchange.
Revenue generated reached $1.1 billion (P58.1 billion), representing a 258 percent growth in passenger revenues and 31 percent in cargo revenues for the period, the Lucio Tan-led firm said.
Operating expenses reached $986 billion (P51.1 billion) including $380 million (P19.9 billion) in fuel expenses which reflects the impact of "significantly higher fuel prices" affecting the aviation industry, it added.
"We view the positive operating results for the 1st half 2022 as a demonstration of the loyal support of our PAL customers, for which we are deeply grateful, and a validation of the efforts of our shareholders, management and personnel to rebuild our international and domestic network amidst the strengthening recovery or air travel," PAL President and COO Capt. Stanly Ng said.
Ng said the airline would continue being fiscally prudent as it faces inflation, higher energy costs and other economic uncertainties.
PAL earlier emerged from a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceeding in the US. It has received a fresh capital of $505 million.
PAGASA: BREWING STORM FORMS EAST OF VISAYAS
MANILA — A low pressure area has formed east of Visayas on Thursday morning, state weather bureau PAGASA said.
As of 8 a.m., it was located 300 kilometers east of Catarman, Northern Samar.
It is forecast to cross the Southern-Central Luzon area by Saturday and emerge over the West Philippine Sea by Sunday where it may develop into a tropical depression.
The LPA will enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat starting Friday until early next week.
Rainy weekend is also expected over Metro Manila, Central and Southern Luzon, and Visayas due to the monsoon rains.
Flooding and landslides are likely in these areas.
TNT DEF. MAGNOLIA, 108-96 (VIDEO) AUGUST 3 | PBA SEMIFINALS GAME 1
TNT Tropang GIGA defeated Magnolia Hotshots in Game 1 of their best-of-7 semifinals of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, August 3 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Mikey Williams led the Tropang Giga with game-high 26 points including four 3-pointers to go with 5 rebounds, 4 asssits and a steal. RR Pogoy with an all-aroung game of 23 points (7/15 fg, 2/4 3pts, 7/9ft) along with 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block.
TNT 108 – M. Williams 26 (5reb 4ast), Pogoy 23 (5ast 3reb), Khobuntin 18 (7reb), Castro 12 (5reb 5ast), Montalbo 8 (2/3 3pts), Erram 6 (8reb), K. Williams 4 (6reb), Marcelo 4, Tungcab 3, Rosario 2 (4reb), Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Cruz 0, Alejandro 0.
MAGNOLIA 96 – Abueva 18 (8reb), Jalalon 14 (8ast), Sangalang 14 (7reb), Dionisio 14 (13reb), Laput 12 (8reb), Lee 9, Barroca 7 (5ast 3stl), Dela Rosa 5, Wong 2, Reavis 1, Corpuz 0, Zaldivar 0.
Quarters: 28-19, 54-37, 86-66, 108-96.
SAN MIGUEL DEF. MERALCO, 121-97 (VIDEO) AUGUST 3 | PBA SEMIFINALS GAME 1
San Miguel Beermen defeated the Meralco Bolts, 121-97 in Game 1 of their best-of-7 semifinals of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, August 3 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
CJ Perez led the Beermen in scoring with game-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting including two 3-pointers to go with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Rodney Brondial with a solid double-double performance of 20 points (8/10fg, 4/5ft) along with 11 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.
Vic Manuel finished with 16 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal while June Mar Fajardo added 11 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a block.
SAN MIGUEL 121 - Perez 25 (5reb 4stl 4ast), Brondial 20 (11reb), Manuel 16 (4ast), Fajardo 11 (reb 5ast), Lassiter 10 (2/5 3pts), Cruz 9 (5ast), Enciso 8 (4reb), Tautuaa 8 , Herndon 7, Pessumal 5, Ross 2 (4ast).
MERALCO 97 – Banchero 17 (5/5 3pts 5ast), Almazan 16 (6reb), Jose 12 (6reb), Hodge 11 (4reb), Newsome 9 (6reb), Quinto 9 (6reb), Pascual 9, Black 8 (4ast), Caram 4, Maliksi 2, Belo 0, Pasaol 0, Baclao 0.
Quarters: 33-17, 60-41, 85-64, 121-97.
FOREX $1 = P 55.74
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
When you see a good person, think of becoming like him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points. – Confucius