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18 Sept 2023



MANILA — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday released two videos on the devastating impact on the marine environment and coral reef in the seabed of Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal.

The videos confirm the earlier reports of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its Western Command.

Extensive underwater surveys conducted by the PCG revealed alarming findings, indicating a significant loss of marine life and deliberate activities that may have caused irreparable damage.

"The results of these surveys showed that the marine ecosystem in the subject West Philippine Sea features appeared lifeless, with minimal to no signs of life," the Coast Guard statement read.

"[Surveys in] Escoda Shoal revealed visible discoloration of its seabed, strongly indicating that deliberate activities may have been undertaken to modify the natural topography of its underwater terrain." Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG-West Philippine Sea spokesperson, said in a statement.

Crushed corals found indicate a potential act of dumping, possibly involving the same dead corals that were previously processed and cleaned before being returned to the seabed, the Coast Guard also said.

The Coast Guard conducted the surveys at Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal between August and early September, when it monitored at least 40 vessels of the Chinese Maritime Militia at those features.

The agency also stressed that the continued swarming of CMM vessels for indiscriminate, illegal and destructive fishing activities "may have directly caused the degradation and destruction" of the West Philippine Sea features.





An international maritime expert fears the collapse of Philippine fisheries if China's wanton destruction of coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea remains unchecked.

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said a Philippine miltary report of rampant coral harvesting in Rozul (Iroquious) Reef in the West Philippine Sea could have dire implications for the country's food security.

"Kaya ngayon mapapansin niyo yung mga available na fish na karamihan, maliliit na. Tapos marami nang isda na hindi niyo na nakikita o baka mahal na dahil rare na sila. 'Yun yung mga signs na 'yung fishery ay maaari nang mag collapse," he said.

Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command, earlier said he suspects China to be behind the destruction of the coral bed since Chinese vessels were stationed in the reef before the military was able to drive them away sometime in July.

For Batongbacal, he has no doubt it was China behind the reef destruction.

He noted Chinese vessels often destroy the coral reefs to extract the giant clams underneath. He said the Chinese use the clams as a substitute for ivory.

"China lang ang alam natin na gumagawa nito. 'Yung giant clams ginagawa nilang substitute sa ivory. 'Yung giant clams nasa ilalim 'yan ng mga bahura. Sila 'yung mga nagiging pundasyon ng mga reef kaya sinisira nila 'yung coral reef," he said.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas, meanwhile, urged the Marcos administration to conduct further damage assessment on corals in Rozul Reef.

Bobby Roldan, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon, warned it could take at least 20 years for a coral reef to recover, based on the study by the group AGHAM.





Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called for an expansion of the government's Pantawid Pasada Program to include not only the poorest citizens but also the middle class, who are grappling with rising fuel prices. Gatchalian supports increasing government fuel subsidies in response to the 11th round of oil price hikes this week.

He pointed out that the current Pantawid Pasada Program has a limitation in that it doesn't extend assistance to the middle class, many of whom purchase vehicles due to the inadequacy and inefficiency of public transportation.

The middle class, as defined by the government, includes those with incomes ranging from two to twelve times the poverty line, which translates to around ?24,000 to ?145,000 in family income.

The Department of Budget and Management has already approved the release of P3 billion in fuel subsidies for 1.36 million drivers nationwide, with varying amounts for different types of vehicles.

While discussing the proposal to suspend fuel excise taxes, Gatchalian cautioned that such a tax cut would impact government revenues and suggested that it would benefit not only those struggling with high fuel prices but also wealthier individuals who don't significantly change their behavior despite higher fuel costs.

Rather than suspending fuel excise taxes, Gatchalian encouraged the government to provide additional relief to vulnerable sectors through the Pantawid Pasada Program.





MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday said she hopes Congress will limit allocating confidential funds to civilian agencies, saying that will help promote transparency in government.

Confidential funds have been proposed for a range of civilian agencies, including the education department, the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

"Sana pareho kaming mga senador at mga representative makakita na tama na 'yung bad precedent of last year. Pinagbigyan eh, 'yung confidential and intelligence funds ng OVP (Office of the Vice President), DepEd (Department of Education), and others," Hontiveros told ANC's "Headstart."

"Sana natuto kami para this year ilagay namin sa tamang paglagyan so that a better accounting can be made by the agencies and by COA (Commission on Audit) in next year's budget debates," Hontiveros, of the Senate minority, said.

For 2024, the OVP and the DepEd, both under Vice President Sara Duterte, are requesting P500 million and P150 million in confidential funds, respectively.

Hontiveros vowed to double down on her campaign of allocating the majority of surveillance funds to intelligence agencies in the next Senate budget hearings.

"Ilagay natin sa ayos. 'Yung intelligence needs ng gobyerno should be properly in the largest part be lodged with the intelligence agencies so we can leave it to the experts and let them make an accounting of those every budget season," she said.





The National Food Authority (NFA) plans to increase the government's purchase price for unhusked rice (palay) by approximately P3 to P4 per kilogram, reaching around P22 to P23 per kilogram during the current wet season cropping. This move aims to make the buying price competitive and align it with millers and traders' rates. The proposal has been pending with the NFA board, chaired by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., since last year and is now hopeful of approval with the new NFA chief, Robert Rayo Bioco.

This adjustment in buying price is expected to help the NFA meet its required rice inventory for 2024, which was raised to a 15-day buffer stock as proposed by the President. In addition, this year, the NFA plans to increase its buffer stock to nine days, exceeding the seven-day minimum inventory required by the Rice Tariffication Law. The NFA's budget allocation for procurement, amounting to P7 billion, has been insufficient to meet the seven-day stock target in the past. Consequently, it will require around P16 billion for purchasing the necessary supply to secure rice availability during lean months.

Furthermore, an inspection conducted by the Bureau of Customs revealed an estimated P40 million worth of imported rice being sold at high prices in two warehouses in Pulang Lupa, Las Pinas City, and Bacoor, Cavite. The rice, originating from Vietnam, Thailand, and China, was being sold above the Department of Agriculture's prescribed price range. Despite various raids, no charges of smuggling and hoarding have been filed against rice traders involved in these practices, prompting Senator Francis Escudero to urge the BOC to take legal action against these economic saboteurs.

The government anticipates a growth of 1.4 million metric tons in the country's rice supply this month as some farmers have already started their harvest.





Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has chosen not to comment on the reported donation of $2 million (P113.4 million) to Harvard University for its first-ever Filipino language course. In a statement, Romualdez cited Harvard's gift policy, which prevents the discussion of the specifics of individual gifts. He emphasized the significance of Harvard's introduction of the Filipino language course as a global acknowledgment of Filipino culture and heritage. Romualdez encouraged celebrating this achievement and promoting Filipino identity and unity.

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo confirmed the addition of the Filipino language course as part of the university's East Asian studies offerings but reiterated Harvard's policy of not discussing the terms or specifics of individual gifts. The Harvard Crimson reported that Romualdez's $2 million pledge would fund the Filipino language instructor's position, securing funding for at least three years.





MANILA — House officials are set to meet with representatives from the oil industry to discuss potential compromises that could mitigate rising pump prices, including a review of taxes on fuel products, according to House Speaker Martin Romualdez. The Philippines is anticipating another gasoline price increase, partially due to production cuts in Russia and higher demand during colder months.

Romualdez acknowledged that global oil price hikes are beyond anyone's control but expressed the House's intention to work with the local oil industry to alleviate the impact on citizens and find common ground on controllable areas.

One potential solution discussed is reviewing the excise tax or value-added tax on oil and petroleum products, with the possibility of suspending tax collection depending on the government's response after the meeting.

The meeting will involve members of the House Committee on Energy, officials from the Department of Energy, and representatives from industry groups, including the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association and the Philippine Institute of Petroleum, as well as major oil companies.

The aim is to find a mutually beneficial solution for both citizens and the oil industry. Additionally, Romualdez plans to engage with supermarkets and food companies to encourage them to postpone price increases, if any, until after the Christmas season, emphasizing social responsibility during the holiday season.

House officials are engaging with the oil industry to address rising pump prices through potential tax reviews and suspensions while also seeking cooperation from supermarkets and food companies to delay price hikes during the Christmas season.





The Department of Education (DepEd) has expanded the pilot run of the new MATATAG K to 10 curriculum to include 35 schools, an increase from the initial announcement of 20 schools. These schools will begin implementing the curriculum on September 25. Among them, five are located in the National Capital Region (NCR), five in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and five in each of the following regions: Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Visayas, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.

The pilot run aims to gather findings and results that will be used to prepare for the phased implementation of the new K-10 curriculum in the coming years. The phased implementation will start with learners in Kinder, Grade 1, Grade 4, and Grade 7 in School Year (SY) 2024-2025, followed by Grades 2, 5, and 8 in SY 2025-2026, Grades 3, 6, and 9 in SY 2026-2027, and Grade 10 in SY 2027-2028.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to implement programs that encourage children to stay in school, addressing the issue of students dropping out to assist with family farming.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has called for the rationalization of confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) in government departments, emphasizing the need for transparency and proper use of public funds. This discussion arose as Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio requested CIF for both the DepEd and the Office of the Vice President (OVP). Senator Christopher Go expressed trust in the integrity and capability of Duterte to implement programs for both offices, while Gatchalian emphasized the importance of a legal basis for CIF requests, with proper safeguards and audits by the Commission on Audit once reports are submitted to Congress and the Senate.









Pope Francis has expelled a Filipino priest who was accused of sexual abuse involving minors.

The Pope’s decision to dismiss Pio Aclon from the clerical state was announced Sunday by the Diocese of Borongan.

“He is, therefore, no longer a cleric and cannot exercise priestly ministry in the Church,” the notice said.

The advisory was read in all parish churches, chapels and chaplaincies of the diocese, but it did not provide further details about Aclon.

Aclon last served at a minor seminary in Borongan before he was suspended from his clerical duties.

Pope Francis has been apologizing for the cases of abuse involving priests, and has pledged “zero tolerance” to sexual assault by members of the clergy.

ABS-CBN News is seeking a response from Aclon.





MANILA - Oil companies are raising pump prices again on Tuesday, Sept. 19 as global crude costs continue to rise.

Shell and Seaoil will implement the following price hikes at 6 a.m. Tuesday:

Gasoline + P2.00/liter

Diesel +P2.50/liter

Kerosene +P2.00/liter

Caltex meanwhile will hike prices at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday:

Gasoline + P2.00/liter

Diesel +P2.50/liter

Kerosene +P2.00/liter

Cleanfuel meanwhile will hike prices at 4:01 p.m. Tuesday:

Gasoline + P2.00/liter

Diesel +P2.50/liter

More oil firms are expected to announce similar price hikes later today.





The Supreme Court aims to release the 2023 Bar exam results by early December, coinciding with oath-taking and signing of the Roll of Attorneys before Christmas. Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, the 2023 Bar chairman, wants a new batch of lawyers by year-end, shortening the waiting time for exam results.

A total of 10,791 law students took the three-day Bar Examinations in September across 14 testing centers in the country, with over half being first-time takers. Hernando mentioned that the shorter exam duration would be more cost-effective for the candidates.

To support the exam, Manila's local government imposed a liquor ban and restrictions on "disruptive activities" near testing centers during specific hours and dates, to ensure a conducive environment for the exam.

In summary, the Supreme Court is striving to release the 2023 Bar exam results in early December, benefiting both candidates and the legal profession.





MANILA — The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) will bring rains over parts of Mindanao as the southwest monsoon or habagat weakens, the state weather bureau PAGASA said Sunday.

PAGASA weather specialist Daniel James Villamil said in a briefing early Sunday that the effect of the southwest monsoon over vast swaths of the country has weakened.

However, he said, the ITCZ or band of clouds in the southern Philippines will bring scattered rain showers and thunderstorms over Mindanao in the next 24 hours.

Luzon and Visayas meanwhile will experience generally fair weather but Villamil said there is still a chance of isolated rain showers or localized thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, a low pressure area may form east of Southern Luzon inside the Philippine area of responsibility by Thursday or Friday.

In its weather outlook for the week of September 18 to 24, PAGASA said the LPA may enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat by Friday.

The trough or extension of the LPA may bring rains over Bicol region and eastern Visayas by late Thursday to weekend.

Sunny and humid conditions with thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening may also prevail this week over most parts of Luzon and Visayas.

Metro Manila will also have hot and humid conditions with possible thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening.

PAGASA warned of possible flooding and landslides in area affected by ITCZ, habagat and trough of LPA.








MANILA – Matteo Guidicelli took to social media to commemorate a decade of his relationship with Sarah Geronimo.

On his Instagram page, the actor posted pictures of their celebration, receiving thousands of "likes" and numerous comments congratulating them on reaching this significant milestone.

“10 years my love. I love you,” he wrote in the caption.

Guidicelli and Geronimo marked their third anniversary as a married couple last February.

In the earlier years of their romance, Guidicelli and Geronimo opted to keep their relationship low-profile.

Two of their milestones, in fact, were confirmed belatedly after more or less a year.

When Geronimo admitted that Guidicelli was her boyfriend in 2014, they had already been a couple for almost a year.

And when Guidicelli announced their engagement in 2019, a year had already passed since the actual proposal.

Their February 2020 wedding, too, was shrouded in secrecy — and controversy.

Since they exchanged vows, however, the two have increasingly become more open about their marriage, particularly through Gudicelli’s social media updates and vlogs.








MANILA — Terrafirma Dyip selected Stephen Holt as the top overall pick in the 2023 PBA Rookie Draft. Holt, a 6-foot-4 Filipino-American player with experience in various leagues, expressed his goal to play in the PBA and contribute on both ends of the floor. He is expected to join the Johnedel Cardel-led squad for the upcoming PBA Commissioner’s Cup, starting on November 5.

Blackwater Elite chose 6-foot-6 guard Christian David as the second overall pick, while Rain Or Shine ElastoPainters focused on building a younger frontline with Luis Villegas and Keith Datu as their first-round picks. Zav Lucero, a former UP Fighting Maroon, was drafted by Northport Batang Pier as the fifth overall pick. Phoenix selected 6-foot-4 shooter Ken Tuffin, a former FEU Tamaraw, as the sixth pick.

Other first-round picks included Richard Rodger (NLEX), Brandon Bates (Meralco), Schonny Winston and BJ Andrade (Converge), Cade Flores (Northport), and TJ Miller (Terrafirma).





FOREX $1 = P 56.81





Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. - Marcus Aurelius


Comments (0)

Hi Jenna! I made a new design, and i wanted to show it to you.
It's quite clean and it's inspired from Bulkit.
Oh really??! I want to see that.
FYI it was done in less than a day.
Great to hear it. Just send me the PSD files so i can have a look at it.
And if you have a prototype, you can also send me the link to it.

Hey Jenna, what's up?
Iam coming to LA tomorrow. Interested in having lunch?
Hey mate, it's been a while. Sure I would love to.
Ok. Let's say i pick you up at 12:30 at work, works?
Yup, that works great.
And yeah, don't forget to bring some of my favourite cheese cake.
No worries

Hello Jenna, did you read my proposal?
Didn't hear from you since i sent it.
Hello Milly, Iam really sorry, Iam so busy recently, but i had the time to read it.
And what did you think about it?
Actually it's quite good, there might be some small changes but overall it's great.
I think that i can give it to my boss at this stage.
Crossing fingers then