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24 MARCH 2023



MANILA - Over 100 students were sent to hospital on Thursday after participating in a fire drill in a school in Cabuyao City, Laguna amid hot temperature, the locality's mayor said.

In a live Facebook video on Thursday night, Cabuyao Mayor Dennis Hain said that teachers from Gulod National High School Mamatid Extension organized the drill based on a Department of Education memo.

"Base sa ating imbestigasyon, kaninang alas-12 (ng hapon) nagsimula ang drill... Ang humigit-kumulang na 3,000 (estudyante) ay pinapasok sa classroom. Doon ay sila ang nagsiksikan sa kabila ng init ng panahon," Hain said.

The students reportedly stayed inside the classroom on orders of the teachers, with help from so-called "scouts", for over 3 hours, while in cramped conditions.

"Base po sa report, hindi nakainom ng tubig 'yung iba at nagugutom na rin 'yung iba," the mayor said.

The temperature at the time reportedly ranged from 36 to 43 degrees Celsius, he added.

"Sobra po talaga ang init kanina, kung may karamdaman ka, maaaring may mangyari sa'yo na masama," Hain said.

The students were eventually let out but they were sent to an open field, where they stayed for 30 minutes under the scorching heat, allegedly without water, the mayor continued.

"May ilang estudyante na nagrereklamo at nanghihingi ng tubig (pero) hindi po napagbigyan sapagkat ang mga scout po ang nagma-manage. Siguro ay hindi rin abot ng kanilang kaisipan dahil mga bata rin sila at ganon nga akala nila ay basta-basta na lang," Hain said.

This reportedly resulted in dizziness and seizures among students, while others also fainted.

A total of 104 students were sent to Cabuyao General Hospital, Hain said. Others were also medically treated in Ospital ng Cabuyao.

The Cabuyao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said in a statement that three students remain in the hospital, as of 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.

"Mabuti na lang medyo handa po ang mga doktor, natugunan naman po agad ... 'Yung isang nakausap ko yung magulang, may commorbidity talaga 'yung (estudyante) ... 'Yung isa naman po hindi makahinga, nilalagyan ng oxygen," Hain said.

The teachers did not coordinate the drill with Brgy. Mamatid or Cabuyao disaster management officials, according to the mayor.

"Ito ay paalala po sa ating lahat na kailangan po kung may gagawin tayong ganitong activity lalo na sa ating DepEd, i-coordinate po natin sa city hall. Meron po tayong responders, CDRRMO, para mag-conduct ng seminar. Bagama't walang sinasabi na ipaalam niyo, siguro naman common sense naman na dapat malalaman ng city hall, ng mayor," Hain said.

As of writing, neither the school nor DepEd has issued a statement on the incident.

The mayor of Cabuyao, Laguna has ordered the temporary suspension of all school fire drills in the city after more than 100 students were hospitalized during a school fire drill.

All school fire drills are suspended for now, the mayor said, adding that he will call for a meeting with school principals in the city "so that this won't happen again."





The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will establish a Presidential Help Desk to address the financial and medical requests for assistance being submitted by the public to the Office of the President (OP).

Based on Executive Order No. 20, signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on March 21, the Presidential Help Desk will complement the existing health services and projects of the government by providing accessible and direct financial and medical assistance to qualified beneficiaries.

“The Presidential Help Desk shall be administered by the PACe (Presidential Action Center). For this purpose, there shall be a Project Coordinator, directly reporting to the PACe, tasked to ensure that the day-to-day implementation of the project is managed effectively, efficiently and economically, and oversee the operational activities of the project, including the performance by all employees and personnel of their respective functions,” the EO read.

EO No. 20 also provides that the PACe will also submit to the President, via the Office of the Executive Secretary, an annual report on the operations of the Presidential Help Desk.

During the first six months of the Marcos administration, the OP, through the PACe (formerly the Presidential Complaint Center), has received a total of 52,728 action documents from the public, 20.08 percent of which are related to medical concerns such as requests for medicines or financial aid to defray costs of medical procedures and hospital bills, according to the EO.

PACe will determine the appropriate staffing pattern and corresponding qualification standards for all the positions necessary to operate the Presidential Help Desk.





Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez on Thursday said Speaker Martin Romualdez would support a Senate move to amend the Constitution through a constituent assembly, even though the House has called for a constitutional convention with elected delegates.

“When I reported to our Speaker, he said yes,” Gomez said at a PDP-Laban press briefing, when asked if Romualdez would support a constituent assembly instead.

“In the bicam, they will come out with a resolution and the Speaker said that if the Senate will come out with the version that [calls for a constituent assembly], they will go for it.”

He said the Speaker agreed on conditions that the Senate has laid down in pursuing Charter Change.

These were 1) that the amendments would be done through a constituent assembly; 2) that they would tackle economic provisions; and 3) the two chambers would vote separately.

“That is the stand of the House. So we agree on all conditions that the Senate wants with regards to constitutional amendments,” Gomez said.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte has proposed that a meeting between constitutional reform proponents in the Senate and the House of Representatives be held during the congressional break “to keep the ball rolling” on Charter Change.”

Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party (NUP), said the ongoing meeting will help lawmakers decide soon enough on whether to go ahead on amending the 36-year-old Constitution before the year is over.





The government of South Korea is sending a team from the Korean Coast Guard (KCG) to help the Philippines contain a rapidly spreading oil spill in Oriental Mindoro province, the Korean Embassy in Manila said.

In its advisory, the South Korean government said it is also providing 1,000 meters of solid flotation curtain boom, 2,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) and 20 tons of sorbet pads and snares to the Philippines.

"This is the first time Korea has provided assistance for the prevention of marine pollution, and Korea highly values the importance of restoring areas affected by environmental disasters and accidents," it said.

Several governments including Japan and the United States have committed to provide assistance in the cleanup of the massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro brought about by a sunken oil tanker.





Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. has submitted a “wish list” to Speaker Martin Romualdez which, if granted, would allow him to “return to the country immediately,” his legal counsel said yesterday.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said Romualdez has expressed willingness to grant “about half” of the list.

He said the items deal mostly with security concerns as Teves maintained there is a “grave threat” to his life once he comes home.

Topacio said while his client was thankful for the offer of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to allow Teves’ private jet to land at the Basa Air Base in Pampanga where it would be surrounded by the military, the measure is not enough to secure the lawmaker.

“Between landing and the proceedings, a lot will happen. That’s what we’re trying to negotiate,” Topacio said.

House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said the wife of the assassinated Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo submitted a letter-request to the House of Representatives asking for Teves’ expulsion.

Velasco declined to provide the media with a copy of Degamo’s letter but said it could be eventually referred to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges which recommended slapping Teves with a 60-day suspension by an overwhelming 292 votes with zero abstention.

“Her request is grave – expulsion. But expulsion is also covered by a process. Her letter may eventually be sent to the Committee on Ethics.





President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged all Filipinos, especially the Muslim community, to unite in celebrating the start of Ramadan.

In his message, the President called on the Filipinos to embody the values of discipline, reverence, and humility.

“The spiritual belief that the gate of Heaven is open during this sacred month calls upon our brothers and sisters to purify their souls against the perils of worldly pleasures as well as seek for forgiveness and peace,” Mr. Marcos said in a message.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer reflection and community.

The President also asked Muslims to include in their prayers those who are “in deep distress caused by hunger, natural calamities and unfavorable circumstances.”

“The rituals and services during Ramadan remind us of our shared moral obligation—regardless of faith—to compassionately take care of each other, uphold our human dignity and stand in solidarity,” he said.

“As a nation enriched with cultural diversity, let us allow our hearts to embrace the profound truth that respect conquers division, understanding obliterates prejudice, and love prevails over all,” he added.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Mufti Abubakar Abu Huraira Udasan declared that Thursday (yesterday) was the start of the 29 to 30-day Ramadan.





MANILA - Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) administrator David John Thaddeus Alba has stepped down from his post due to his "worsening health," Malacañang said on Friday.

Alba's resignation would be effective on April 15, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said.

It added that Alba informed Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin of his resignation on Wednesday and the latter tried to persuade him not to quit.

"He (Alba) reasoned his worsening health condition. Upon the directive of the President, his resignation will be effective on April 15 to prepare the appointment of his replacement," the statement read.

Alba's resignation came amid a fresh controversy on the most recent importation of 440,000 metric tons of sugar, which was supposedly allocated to 3 "handpicked" importers.









MANILA — Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has received the highest approval rating among local chief executives in the National Capital Region, according to a survey conducted by the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMD).

Results of the Feb. 25 to March 8 poll released this week found that 94 percent of respondents in Quezon City approved of Belmonte’s performance.

Next to Belmonte were Mayors Jeannie Sandoval of Malabon (91 percent), Along Malapitan of Caloocan (91 percent), John Rey Tiangco of Navotas (91 percent), Emi Calixto Rubiano of Pasay (90 percent), Benjamin Abalos Sr. of Mandaluyong (90 percent), Vico Sotto of Pasig (87 percent) and Abby Binay of Makati (87 percent).

They were followed by Marcy Teodoro of Marikina (85 percent), Imelda Aguilar of Las Piñas (85 percent), Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa (83 percent), Lani Cayetano of Taguig (80 percent), Honey Lacuna of Manila (80 percent), Wes Gatchalian of Valenzuela (78 percent), Eric Olivarez of Parañaque (78 percent), Francis Zamora of San Juan (75 percent) and Ike Ponce III of Pateros (72 percent).

The respondents were also asked to assess the performance of their respective district representatives.

In Metro Manila, leading the list were Reps. Toby Tiangco of Navotas (92.5 percent), Camille Villar of Las Piñas (92.3 percent) and Oscar Malapitan of Caloocan (92.1 percent).

They were followed by Reps. Marvin Rillo of Quezon City’s 4th District (88.7 percent), Marivic Co-Pilar of Quezon City’s 6th District (88.5 percent), Boyet Gonzales II of Mandaluyong (88.3 percent), Franz Pumaren of Quezon City’s 3rd District (86.6 percent), Dean Asistio of Caloocan (86.4 percent) and PM Vargas of Quezon City’s 5th District (86.2 percent).

The performance ratings of Metro Manila mayors and legislators were based on RPMD’s “Boses ng Bayan” survey, which had 10,000 randomly selected adult respondents nationwide.

According to the firm, the number of respondents per city was distributed proportionally based on official voting population data.





MANILA — Ride-hailing company Grab is encouraging women and members of the LGBTQ community to take the driver’s seat and apply as “entrepreneur-drivers.”

As part of Women’s Month celebration, Grab country head Grace Vera Cruz said they are recruiting women to join their fleet as they remain a minority in the country’s male-dominated roads.

“We tell women if they apply, we will give them benefits. We want to encourage women because they are underrepresented,” Vera Cruz said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday.

She said out of Grab’s tens of thousands of drivers, only about 1,000 are female.

“Ninety percent of our drivers are male, kailangan patas,” Vera Cruz said.

Grab has appealed to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to open the first tranche of its 100,000 commitment for transport network vehicle service (TNVS) units.

Vera Cruz said there has been an increasing demand for TNVS as the county fully reopens to tourists following the easing of COVID restrictions.








MANILA – Actress Yassi Pressman put an end to ongoing speculations about her friendship with Nadine Lustre following her sister’s romance with James Reid.

During the press conference of her series “Kurdapya,” Pressman set the record straight, saying she and Lustre are fine.

This was after netizens resurfaced an old rumor about Reid and Issa Pressman, which they all debunked at the time.

Last week, Reid and Issa appeared to have confirmed their relationship after posting several photos together on social media.

“Sige po para tapos na po ha. Isang beses ko lang po 'tong sasabihin. Wala pong problema,” Pressman said.

“Kami po ni Nadine, okay po kami. Okay rin po 'yung buong pamilya namin. At siyempre po, bago po nag-public ang lahat, lahat po naasikaso in private. So, lahat po walang problema.”

The actress went on to say that she has been friends with Lustre since they were young.

“And me and Nadine are cool, we're friends. We've been friends ever since we were kids kaya naman, lahat po okay po. Tsaka ilang taon na rin po. Kaya ayon, sana everybody, let everyone be happy,” she continued.

Pressman also revealed that she talked to the award-winning actress recently about getting anxiety as netizens kept on bombarding her about the issue.

“She said sorry to hear that. I hope you feeling better,” she admitted.

The actress said that she was also surprised when she found out about her sister and Reid.

“Nagulat din po ako. Sabay-sabay po tayo. Pero nung sinabi po sa 'kin 'yun recently, hinayaan ko na lang po nag mag-decision 'yung mga tao. They’re old enough to make their own decision naman po. Lahat po ng tao may choice. At kung walang ibang tao naming tinatapakan, feeling ko wala naman pong problema,” she added.

Some netizens have accused Issa as the third party in the breakup of Reid and Lustre in 2020.

Currently, Lustre is happy with her French businessman boyfriend Christophe Bariou.








Cristiano Ronaldo broke the men's international appearance record on Thursday by starting Portugal's Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein.

The 38-year-old, who was dropped from the Portuguese starting XI during the World Cup in Qatar last year, won a 197th cap for his country.

"Records are my motivation," Ronaldo told reporters on Wednesday.

"I want to become the most capped player in history. That would make me proud.

"But it doesn't stop there, I still want to be called up very often."

Ronaldo made his international debut in 2003 and became the first man to score in five World Cups last year before Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarter-finals.

He is currently playing for Saudi club Al Nassr after an acrimonious end to his second spell at Manchester United.

Ronaldo's appearance off the bench in the defeat by Morocco equalled the previous mark of 196 caps held by Kuwait's Bader Al-Mutawa.

He left the pitch in tears following Portugal's shock 1-0 loss against the North Africans.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will also be hoping to increase his record tally of 118 international goals as Portugal begin their qualification campaign for next year's European Championship in Germany.

Since leaving Europe, Ronaldo has scored nine goals in 10 matches for Al Nassr.

He was replaced as the starting striker by Goncalo Ramos during the World Cup, with the Benfica youngster scoring a hat-trick in a last-16 win over Switzerland.

But veteran coach Fernando Santos stepped down following the tournament and new boss Roberto Martinez has immediately put his faith in Ronaldo, who also captains the side.

There were questions over whether his 20-year international career had ended in Qatar as Ronaldo will be 39 by the time Euro 2024 kicks off.

But Martinez, who left his role as Belgium coach after the World Cup, has strongly defended his decision to keep Ronaldo in the fold.

"I do not look at the age," said Martinez when he announced his first squad last week.

The Spaniard added his squad announcement was the "starting point" for Euro 2024, suggesting Ronaldo is likely to be involved if Portugal qualify for the tournament.

Ronaldo adds the international appearance landmark to an impressive list of individual records.

He is the leading goalscorer in European Championship finals with 14 goals and has netted a record 140 times in the Champions League.

Ronaldo has also finished as the top-scorer in three of Europe's top five leagues -- in England, Spain and Italy.

Portugal will visit Luxembourg in their second Group J qualifier on Sunday.

They have also been drawn alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Slovakia.





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People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - Audrey Hepburn



Comments (0)

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