AFP BARES ‘CONCERNING RESURGENCE’ OF CHINA VESSELS IN WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
The Philippine military has observed a concerning increase in Chinese swarming activities in Philippine waters, with around three dozen Chinese fishing vessels spotted in various locations in recent weeks. The Western Command (WESCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported 23 Chinese fishing vessels in Rozul Reef, five in Escoda Shoal, and two in Baragatan Bank during aerial patrols on September 6 and 7. This surge in Chinese fishing vessels raises concerns about maritime security, fisheries conservation, territorial integrity, and environmental preservation. It has been a source of tension in the West Philippine Sea, contributing to regional instability. The Chinese vessels have also been harvesting corals in violation of environmental laws.
The presence of Chinese vessels around Escoda Shoal is particularly alarming as it marks the approach to Ayungin Shoal, where a small Philippine military outpost is located. Unauthorized Chinese shadowing of Philippine watercraft often occurs in this area during resupply missions for troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre.
The repeated swarming incidents in Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal underscore continuous violations of Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the western border. The WESCOM emphasizes the importance of collaboration between defense forces, law enforcement agencies, and international partners to address these challenges, uphold Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and maintain regional stability.
Furthermore, the Philippines has received offers for joint patrols with the United States and other nations in response to ongoing Chinese provocations in the region. Joint patrols are being considered as part of the plan to address the situation.
GOV'T GETS SEVERAL APPLICATIONS FOR POTENTIAL MAHARLIKA FUND MANAGERS: DOF
MANILA — Several applications have been submitted after the opening of nominations for the board of directors of the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC), the governing body of the country's first sovereign wealth fund, a finance official said on Thursday.
The MIC needs a president and CEO, 2 regular directors, and 3 independent directors
In a business forum in Pasay City, Finance Assistant Secretary Eufrocinio Bernabe Jr. said some applications were submitted after the government published the solicitation of applications for the board of directors.
“Some have submitted already and we have the papers, so I think once the deadline is reached, the process will move on," Bernabe said.
The deadline is set on Sept. 27.
“Once that application has been received, we will shortlist all candidates and then the board of directors will elect from that side Chief Executive Officer and then form the plantilla for the positions of the Maharlika Investment Fund,” he said.
Bernabe added that the Maharlika fund was on track to be up and running by the end of the year.
Maharlika is the country's first sovereign wealth fund which will serve as an "additional source and financing mode for priority projects of the Philippines," Bernabe told the businessmen present during the forum.
"The fund aims to attract the participation of local and foreign capital to make direct equity investments in the Philippines," he said.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier insisted that the MIC should be headed by a Filipino, on top of the other qualifications set by the law.
Meanwhile, President Marcos Jr. said there would be no politicians involved in the handling of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) and assured that the sovereign fund would be run by professionals.
The President made his remarks during a sit-down conversation with former Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo at the 10th Asia Summit hosted by the Milken Institute in Singapore.
“The main assurance that we had to give was that it’s not going to involve politicians, because when the politicians get involved, then the decisions are no longer purely financial in nature, and that causes failure, I think. And it doesn’t make it an efficient management of the fund,” President Marcos said.
SENATE SPECIAL PANEL AIMS TO 'CREATE OWN MAP' TO REFUTE CHINA'S '10-DASH LINE'
MANILA — The Senate Special Committee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones on Thursday started its hearing on proposals that seek to define and institutionalize the Philippines' maritime zones.
Crafting a law that will institutionalize maritime zones would be the Philippines' response to China's "10-dash line", said Sen. Francis Tolentino, chairman of the panel.
Last month, China unveiled a new map that showed its extended territorial claims, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
The map featured a "10-dashed line," which was previously a nine-dashed line, that supposedly shows China’s boundaries in the waterway, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) noted.
Thursday's organizational meeting included a number of maritime and international law experts as resource persons.
"Itong hearing na ito hindi ito last eh. Baka limang hearing to, because we're trying to craft our own map... So this is a response to the 10-dash line," Tolentino said.
The special committee is also inviting resource persons from Beijing University, Tolentino said.
"Gusto rin nating makita ang views nila eh. Bakit kine-claim nila ito. Gusto nating malaman sa kanila mismo bakit sila gumawa ng 10-dash line," Tolentino said.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro in another interview said a law that would define maritime zones was up to legislators.
"Hindi naman ako eksperto. Ang alam ko UNCLOS at ang claims natin under the relative presidential decrees. Ngayon, kung ide-define po nila, I am not expert in the international law. Nasa sa mga dalubhasa na po ang magsabi kung tama o hindi. Pero kami ho ay susunod," Teodoro told journalists.
AGRI AGENCY OFFERS EXPLANATION WHY PH NOW TOP RICE IMPORTER
MANILA - An agriculture agency on Friday offered an explanation as to why the Philippines has overtaken China as the world's top rice importer.
Gerald Glenn Panganiban, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry, said China could have improved local rice production resulting in lower imports.
"Ang assumption is mas malakas na ba tayong kumain kaysa sa mga ating Chinese counterparts? But hindi naman ganun. Maaaring sila'y nag-upscale din sa kanilang production technology kaya mas dumami ang kanilang produksyon, kumonti ang kanilang importasyon," Panganiban told TeleRadyo Serbisyo.
"Tayo naman kasi… ang ating imports ay atin lamang ikino-complement sa doon sa ating mga kakulangan," he said.
According to the latest report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Philippines is now the world's top rice importer.
It estimated that the total rice importation of the Philippines for the 2022-2023 trade year would hit 3.9 million metric tons compared to China's 3.5 million metric tons.
But Panganiban said they are expecting an "increased harvest" for the staple commodity this year.
"Meron tayong inaasahan for the last quarter na 1.5, 1.4 million metric tons. So I'm not sure kung ganun pa rin ang magiging level ng imports natin," he said.
"Kung ikukumpara n'yo nga from last year halimbawa, 'yung na-import natin is almost like 25 percent or 20 percent ng ating pangangailangan. This year, we are expecting comparatively less kasi nga po 'yung ine-expect natin for the last quarter ay relatively safe or enough para sa ating demand," he added.
While Panganiban assured that the government continues to support local rice production, he pointed out that the Philippines also benefits from rice importation because of the tariffs it receives, which could be used "for the development of the rice industry."
meanwhile, President Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the biggest lesson the Philippines learned from the COVID-19 pandemic was to be less dependent on imports.
470 BSKE BETS FACE DISQUALIFICATION
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has issued show-cause orders to 470 candidates for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) who engaged in premature campaigning and violated election rules. Comelec chairman George Garcia warned that this number may increase in the coming weeks as early campaigning continues, even though the official campaign period is from October 19 to October 28. To expedite the process, the Comelec will send show-cause orders via email to candidates. Over 1.4 million people have filed certificates of candidacy for the 2023 BSKE, and candidates will have the opportunity to explain their actions before the Comelec takes further action. The Comelec has also established a task force to monitor premature campaigning.
BSKE: PNP TO DEPLOY 187,500 PERSONNEL
MANILA, Philippines — Up to 187,500 Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel will be deployed across the country during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) on Oct. 30.
PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said the number of PNP personnel to be mobilized during the BSKE is higher compared to those deployed during the May 2022 national and local elections.
Acorda and other PNP officials submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday the list of areas that may be declared as election hot spots.
Comelec Chairman George Garcia said the poll body would come out with the final list of election areas of concern by the end of this month.
Garcia had earlier said Negros Oriental, due to politically motivated killings including that of governor Roel Degamo, along with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are among those being considered as election hot spots.
He said not all areas of concern would automatically be placed under Comelec control.
PNP directorate for operations chief Brig. Gen. Leo Francisco said the police had identified 27 election areas of concern.
Francisco said the list is not yet final and may either increase or decrease.
PNP HAS INVESTIGATED A "RECORD-BREAKING" 16,300 CYBERCRIME CASES.
The Philippine National Police Anti-Cyber Crime Group (PNP-ACG) announced a milestone in combating cybercrime, addressing 16,297 cases from January to August 2023. The rise in cybercrimes, particularly online scams exploiting emerging technologies like NFTs and cryptocurrencies, was emphasized by PNP-ACG Director Brig. Gen. Sidney S. Hernia. Top 10 cybercrimes reported include online scams, illegal access, identity theft, ATM/credit card fraud, threats, data interference, and more. This surge followed the controversial Republic Act 11934, or the SIM card registration law, which raised concerns about privacy. The ACG's efforts led to 397 arrests and the rescue of 4,092 victims, primarily from human trafficking. Additionally, the ACG continues monitoring activities like E-Sabong and enhancing cyber patrol operations against terrorism, fake news, and digital forensic examinations for gathering evidence against cybercriminals.
P11.6 BILLION RELEASED FOR TEACHERS’ BONUSES
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in the Philippines has disbursed P11.6 billion in performance-based bonuses (PBB) for over 900,000 education personnel in 2021. Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman approved the release, benefiting school-based personnel in 16 regions under the Department of Education (DepEd). A total of 920,073 personnel in public elementary and secondary schools will receive the PBB based on DepEd's 2021 accomplishments. The DBM stated that the PBB for non-teaching personnel is pending revalidation due to document-related issues in eight regions. PBB is an incentive program for state workers based on their performance and contributions to departmental targets and commitments, with teachers' rankings determined by year-end performance indicators. Typically, DepEd employees receive their PBBs one to two years after the reference year.
IMEE: NO TAKERS FOR AGRI POST
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is actively seeking an agriculture secretary, but there are no volunteers, according to Senator Imee Marcos. The name of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan was recently suggested for the Department of Agriculture post, although Balisacan denied receiving an offer. Senator Marcos criticized the National Food Authority (NFA) for using only 30% of its budget, which could have been used to buy rice from local farmers. The NFA stated that its budget for rice procurement in 2023 has not yet been released, and the issue lies in the lack of drying facilities for wet rice during the wet cropping season.
DOE PREDICTS 11TH WEEK OF OIL PRICE HIKES
Brace yourselves, Kapamilya. The Department of Energy is predicting another round of oil price increases next week, making it 11 straight weeks of pump price hikes.
"Mukhang makakaranas tayo ng increase sa susunod na linggo," Rodela Romero, DOE Oil Industry Management Bureau Assistant Director, said, based on 4 straight days of oil trade.
Based on estimates, the pump prices could increase by as much as P1.15-1.35 per liter for gasoline, P1.80-P2.00 per liter for diesel and P1.70-P1.90 per liter for kerosene.
The DOE official said gasoline prices have risen by P9.85/liter after 9 weeks of price increases, diesel prices have gone up by P14.80/liter after 10 weeks, and kerosene prices have gone up P13.94/liter after 10 weeks of increases.
Saudi Arabia and Russia's extension of their voluntary output cuts as well as disruption in Libya's oil supply have led to a substantial deficit in world supply and put pressure on oil prices.
Romero noted the Philippines is importing nearly 100 percent of its oil supply needs. "Kung anoman 'yung nangyayari doon, tumaas, wala tayong control. Hindi sa walang ginagawa ang gobyerno, wala talaga tayong control," she said.
LUZON, VISAYAS POWER RATES SEEN TO DROP
MANILA, Philippines — Electricity rates in Luzon and the Visayas are anticipated to decrease this month due to higher supply and lower demand in the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM). In Luzon, average WESM prices dropped to P4.12 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) as of Sept. 10, down from August's P5.53 per kWh, attributed to reduced demand during the rainy season. Similarly, the Visayas saw a decline in average spot market prices from P6.18 per kWh in August to P5.93 per kWh as of Sept. 10 due to cooler temperatures and sufficient supply.
However, in Mindanao, plant outages led to higher spot market prices, with rates increasing from P4.82 per kWh in August to P5.81 per kWh this month. Despite these fluctuations, there is adequate power supply in all three major grids in the country. IEMOP expects prices to remain stable or even decrease if the current supply-demand balance persists.
JULLEBEE RANARA'S KILLER SENTENCED TO 15-YEAR IMPRISONMENT
The killer of overseas Filipino worker Jullebee Ranara has been sentenced to 15-year imprisonment for murder in Kuwait, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
According to the DFA, her employer's son was also slapped with a 1-year jail time for driving without license by a Kuwaiti court.
Since the killer was a minor, there were lesser penalties, according to the DFA. He has 30 days to appeal the judgement to the Court of First Instance.
"The family of the OFW has been informed and is grateful for the assistance provided them by the government," the DFA said.
The DFA expressed gratitude to Kuwaiti authorities for a "speedy resolution of the case, in the pursuit of justice for our slain kababayan."
Ranara was found dead in a desert in the Gulf State on Jan. 21. An autopsy report showed she was pregnant at the time of her death.
The culprit was 17 at that time.
Following the incident, the Department of Migrant Workers ordered a review of the bilateral labor agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
CONTROVERSIAL FAITH-BASED MOVIE 'SOUND OF FREEDOM' COMING TO PH
"Sound of Freedom", the faith-based film that outpaced movies such as "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" in the US box office, is coming to the Philippines.
Starring Jim Caviezel, "Sound of Freedom" tells the story of former US Homeland Security special agent Tim Ballard, who in 2013 started Operation Underground Railroad to rescue children from Colombian sex traffickers.
To date, the movie has already grossed $182 million in North American theaters, far above its $14.5 million budget.
Produced by Angel Studios, the crowdfunded studio behind the extremely successful series “The Chosen,” 'Sound of Freedom' will open in local cinemas on September 20.
An AFP report earlier said conservatives have lavished "Sound of Freedom" with praise for speaking to a section of blue-collar America which they say has been snubbed by Hollywood elites.
Liberals have called it a recruiting tool for the far-right that promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory about a cabal of pedophiles from Hollywood and the Democratic Party kidnapping children and harvesting their blood.
"Sound of Freedom" was originally scheduled for release by 20th Century Fox, but that deal was canceled when Disney bought the studio in 2019, paving the way for Angel Studios to step in.
The movie has been criticized for mischaracterizing the problem of trafficking and because of the controversy surrounding its star Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (2004).
The devout Catholic, 54, has addressed several QAnon events and promotes the conspiracy theory that child trafficking rings drain their victims' blood for the hormone adrenochrome, believing it to be an elixir that wards off aging.
Ballard has also flirted publicly with another debunked theory, that a major US furniture retailer sells children, tweeting in 2020: "With or without Wayfair, child trafficking is real and happening!!!"
Operation Underground Railroad has also been accused of exaggerating its role in child trafficking rescue operations.
GILAS WOMEN RISE TO NO. 42 IN WORLD; ANIMAM RETURNS
Under coach Patrick Aquino's guidance, the Philippine women’s basketball team, Gilas Women, has made significant progress in global rankings, reaching no. 37 in the FIBA World Rankings. This improvement followed their 6th-place finish in the 2023 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, where they secured a win against higher-ranked Chinese Taipei. The team will compete in Group A until 2025 and maintains the 7th spot in Asia/Oceania. Leading Asian countries include China (2nd), Australia (3rd), Japan (9th), Korea (13th), and Chinese Taipei (33rd). Coach Aquino plans to apply the knowledge gained from Gilas coach Tim Cone at the upcoming Asian Games, where they will debut. Jack Animam, the top center, will join the team's practice before their first game on September 27 against Kazakhstan. The goal is to advance to the second round and build from there.
FOREX $1 = P 56.76
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Confidence never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all questions. – Earl Gary Stevens