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12 DEC 2023



MANILA, — Senators and congressmen comprising the bicameral conference committee of Congress approved yesterday the final version of the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, where the “legacy” budget allocations of President Marcos have been outlined.

Rep. Zaldy Co, chairman of the appropriations committee and head of the 12-man contingent of the House of Representatives, said that disagreeing provisions in House Bill 8980, or the 2024 General Appropriations Bill, have already been ironed out by the lawmakers from both chambers.

The Ako Bicol party-list congressman said the spending bill for fiscal year 2024 was primarily focused on Marcos’ legacy for establishment of specialty hospitals – which he carried on from his late father – ensuring food security, and providing affordable housing for the marginalized sector.

Augmentations in the allocation to “fight inflation,” like the P5,000 per person “Ayuda sa Kapos sa Kita Program,” the continued 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development along with its assistance to individuals in crisis situations, have also been made.

For food security, the House official said more allocations were given to the Department of Agriculture and its attached agency, National Irrigation Administration, with additional budgets of P25 billion and P60 billion, respectively.

Massive housing projects will also be now more affordable, according to Co, where monthly amortization will range from P3,500 to P2,500, with “zero interest.” A P10 billion “subsidy” fund has been poured into this project, he added.

Specialty hospitals will no longer be limited to Metro Manila, but will also be available in other regions and provinces, like the Bicol Regional Medical Center and other specialty centers in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.

The Senate also ratified the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, with allocations of P731.4 billion in the unprogrammed appropriations and an increase in the House of Representatives of P12.5 billion.

In less than five minutes, Senate and House of Representatives contingents concluded the second bicameral conference committee that tackled disagreeing votes for House Bill 8980 or the General Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2024.

Sen. Sonny Angara, the Senate finance committee chairman, said the bicam changed 16 provisions in the national budget, including the realignment of an additional P2 billion in the allocations for the Philippine Coast Guard and about P10 billion for the Department of National Defense to address not only the West Philippine Sea problems but any threat of terrorism and the security of the country.





China said on Monday that moves by its Coast Guard against Philippine vessels in the disputed South China Sea were "professional" and "restrained", adding it had "lodged stern representations" with Manila.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Beijing's Coast Guard "took necessary measures against the Philippine ships in accordance with domestic and international law".

"The operations were professional, restrained, reasonable and legal," she said.

Beijing's foreign ministry, Mao added, "has lodged stern representations with the Philippines and expresses its strong protest".

The Philippines said on Monday it had summoned China's envoy and flagged the possibility of expelling him following the most tense confrontations between the countries' vessels in years at flashpoint reefs in the disputed South China Sea.

Videos released by the Philippine Coast Guard showed Chinese ships blasting water cannon at Philippine boats during two separate resupply missions to fishermen at Scarborough Shoal and a tiny garrison at Second Thomas Shoal on Saturday and Sunday.





MANILA -- The Philippines said it had summoned China's envoy on Monday and flagged the possibility of expelling him following the most tense confrontations between the countries' vessels in years at flashpoint reefs in the disputed South China Sea.

Diplomatic protests had been filed and "the Chinese ambassador has also been summoned", foreign ministry spokeswoman Teresita Daza told a news conference on Monday.

Daza said declaring China's ambassador Huang Xilian as "persona non grata" in the Philippines was also "something that has to be seriously considered".

China's ramming and water cannoning of Filipino boats as well as the use of a long-range acoustic device was a "serious escalation" of their tactics, Jonathan Malaya, assistant director general of the National Security Council, told reporters.

The China Coast Guard, however, said one of the Philippine supply boats deliberately hit its vessel after "disregarding our multiple stern warnings".





MANILA — The highest-ranking military leaders of the Philippines and the US have agreed to continue close consultation on regional security, according to a readout provided by the Office of the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs.

Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Gen. Charles Q. Brown — chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff — discussed regional security, "including China's actions hindering resupply at Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal)," Brown's office said.

"The two leaders agreed to remain in close consultation," it also said, adding "the US continues to closely partner with the Philippines."

Brawner was part of the resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal on Sunday that the China Coast Guard tried to block with water cannons and dangerous maneuvers in what the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea called a "serious escalation" in the tense waters.

Brawner and Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos of the military's Western Command managed to reach BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal despite the harassment by Chinese vessels.

"The leaders also discussed mutual strategic security interests and opportunities for increased military cooperation, including enhancing maritime cooperation, improving interoperability and information sharing, and increasing training and exercises," Brown's office also said.





MANILA — The China Coast Guard's actions against Philippine resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea are a "serious escalation" that casts doubt on Beijing's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the sea row, a national task force said Monday.

Speaking at a Palace briefing on Monday, Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya of the National Security Council said Chinese vessels used water cannons and a long-range acoustic device on civilian ships over the weekend.

He called these, as well as the dangerous maneuvers to block the civilian convoys, a "serious escalation on the part of the agents of the People's Republic of China."

He added that the water cannons and a deliberate ramming caused significant damage to fisheries vessel Datu Tamblot off Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough, Panatag Shoal) on Saturday and to BRP Cabra and chartered boat Unaizah Mae 1 near Ayungin Shoal on Sunday.

Meanwhile, The Philippines should build a civilian structure such as a lighthouse or marine research center on Ayungin Shoal amid increased aggression by Chinese vessels in the area, former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Tuesday.

Carpio said resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal are considered military in nature and are outside the jurisdiction of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"[Dapat] we put up a civilian structure at Ayungin Shoal. Halimbawa we put up a lighthouse or marine scientific research center kasi Ayungin is part of our exclusive economic zone. Tayo lang ang pwedeng magtayong istraktura doon exclusively under UNCLOS," Carpio said in a TeleRadyo Serbisyo interview.





MANILA, Philippines — Current and former lawmakers from the Makabayan Bloc on Monday filed a petition for certiorari, challenging Vice President Sara Duterte's allocation of P125 million for confidential and intelligence funds (CIF).

Among the petitioners include Rep. France Castro (ACT-Teachers), Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan), Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares, former Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, Eufemia Cullamat and Raymond Palatino.

This will be the third petition against Duterte’s confidential and intelligence funds.

The petitioners urged the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of transferring the Office of the President's contingency fund to the Office of the Vice President's confidential and intelligence funds, questioning both the transfer itself and its subsequent utilization.

“Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the release of P125 million confidential funds by the Office of the President (OP) to the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in late December 2022, as well as the request, receipt, and use of this amount by the latter,” the petitioners said.

The disclosed funds, totaling P125 million, was reportedly utilized by the OVP within an 11-day period, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).

The petitioners also asked the high tribunal to make the CIF auditable by COA.

“Petitioners likewise pray that the Honorable Court direct the Commission on Audit to audit as a regular fund the ‘Confidential Funds’ expended by the Respondent OVP in 2022,” the petition read.

“Petitioners further seek the restitution of the P125 Million unlawfully used as confidential funds by the OVP,” it added.





2024 could be one of the warmest years in Philippine history with some 77 percent of the country predicted to experience a dry spell or drought by May 2024 due to the El Niño phenomenon, a PAGASA climate specialist said Tuesday.

Analiza Solis, chief of the PAGASA climate impact monitoring and prediction section, said Filipinos should expect a large reduction in rainfall in the first 2 quarters of 2024.

"Strong El Niño tayo. It could be one of warmest year on record na posibleng mapunta sa top 10 record natin," she said in a TeleRadyo Serbisyo interview.

"By end of May base sa latest forecast ng PAGASA, around 77% ng ating bansa ay possible na makaranas ng dry spell at drought."

She urged the health sector to prepare for hotter temperatures during the dry season.





MANILA - The House of Representatives adopted on Monday a resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend the operations of Swara Sug Media Corporation or Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) over alleged violations of their franchise.

The adoption came hours after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises approved the committee report for House Resolution 1499.

During Monday’s panel hearing, PBA Party List Rep. Margarita Nograles said SMNI violated of Sections 4, 10 and 11 of the Republic Act 11422. These pertain to the franchise holder’s responsibility to the public, to seek prior approval from Congress, and report should there be transfer of controlling interest.

"We’re simply urging NTC na mukhang nagkakalokohan dito kasi, may fraudulent aspects dito… Suspendihin niyo muna habang tinitingnan natin lahat ito,” Nograles said.

The NTC, for its part, committed to evaluate the resolution carefully.

“We believe na walang violation. Kung may violation man at least bigyan ng pagkakataon na I-comply ‘yun,” SMNI Legal Officer Atty. Mark Tolentino told the media in an interview last Thursday.





MANILA — Various women’s groups are puzzled why a bill prohibiting discrimination and exclusion over sexual orientation and gender identity has been pending in Congress for 23 years.

Despite progress in Congress, the bills have had to be refiled after failing to hurdle the legislative mill.

“It’s a bit questionable. Ilang years na,” Jhulia Datu of Bayi Inc said.

“Hindi rin namin maintindihan kung bakit hanggang ngayon hindi pa natin matapos,” Lilibeth Beltran of KAbabaihang MAabilidad at Organisado (KAMAO) stated.

Bayi and KAMAO, together with the group Lunas Collective, called for the passage of the SOGIESC or the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sex Characteristics bill.

Some opponents of the bill have raised questions on religious freedom while others have claimed that legislation isn't necessary because the LGBTQ+ community is "accepted" in the Philippines.

“This landmark legislation stands as a beacon of progress, championing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and fostering a society built on the principles of acceptance and inclusion,” read the Unity Statement of the different women’s groups.

“Hence, we fervently urge you to pass the SOGIE Equality Bill without delay, thereby affirming our shared commitment to building an equitable society,” it continued.









MANILA, Philippines — A week after a bomb attack killed four persons and wounded dozens of others during a Catholic mass at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi, students returned to classes yesterday amid tight security and heightened police and military presence.

In a memorandum released on Dec. 7, MSU president Basari Mapupuno said the decision to resume classes “ensures the continuity and stability of the academic and professional pursuit of the student body.”

Mapupuno said the resumption of onsite classes at the MSU was made possible in coordination with the military, the police and the city and provincial governments of Marawi and Lanao del Sur, respectively.

University officials, faculty union heads and student leaders were also consulted on the matter, Mapupuno said.

The memorandum authorized the increased presence of military, police and peacekeeping forces on campus, the university said.

State forces and K9 teams will regularly inspect university offices, classrooms and buildings to ensure the safety of everyone.





MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development has released more than P57.3 million in assistance to earthquake victims in Mindanao, according to DSWD Assistant Secretary for legislative affairs Irene Dumlao.

The assistance included food and non-food items that were distributed to families and persons displaced by the quake.

“Our DSWD field offices continue to haul and deliver family food packs to affected municipalities,” Dumlao said.

She gave assurance that the DSWD’s Disaster Response Management Bureau is coordinating with its regional counterparts regarding updates and requests for relief augmentation.

Data showed a total of 949,499 family food packs are available at the DSWD disaster response centers as well as in its field offices nationwide including Caraga and Davao regions.

Dumlao said the agency is maintaining more than P2.7 billion in standby funds, and has prepositioned relief items that could be tapped any time for disaster response operations.





MANILA, Philippines — Former vice president Leni Robredo and former senator Leila de Lima yesterday attended groundbreaking rites for a memorial dedicated to victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, at the La Loma Cemetery in Caloocan.

Also in attendance were forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun and the families of the so-called “Tokhang” victims.

The Dambana ng Paghilom memorial will be built on a 36-square-meter lot donated by the Diocese of Caloocan, featuring 600 vaults.

Robredo expressed hope that the families of the drug war victims would not lose hope despite the slow pace of justice.

She said the memorial is a symbol that “we will never again allow this culture of killing.”

The event was also attended by representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, officials of the embassies of the Netherlands and Germany as well as representatives of the church.





MANILA — One of two gunmen allegedly involved in the shooting of a couple inside a bus in Nueva Ecija last month has been arrested, police said Tuesday.

The suspect was arrested on Nov. 20, just 5 days after the attack, the Central Luzon police said.

It said the two gunmen, an unidentified driver and the female victim’s son were charged with two counts of murder at the prosecutor’s office in Nueva Ecija on Monday.

The 60-year old female victim and her 55-year-old live-in partner were shot six times pointblank by two unidentified men while riding a bus in Barangay Minuli in Carranglan town on Nov. 15.

Police earlier said the son of the female victim might have a motive to have the couple killed.

Initial investigation disclosed that the woman had filed carjacking complaints against her son, who denied any involvement in the bus shooting, police said.








MANILA -- Celebrity couple Regine Velasquez and Ogie Alcasid, two of the most celebrated and influential figures in the Philippine music industry, were honored with the prestigious lifetime achievement award at the 36th Aliw Awards on Monday.

The Aliw Award also recognized OPM veteran Martin Nievera, comediennes Beverly Salviejo and Fe de los Reyes, composer Odette Quesada, and theater director and lighting designer Monino Duque.

The Aliw Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of entertainment in the Philippines, paid tribute to these legendary artists for their contributions to the music industry throughout their illustrious careers.

Known as Asia's Songbird, Velasquez has been an iconic figure in the music scene for decades. Alcasid has resonated with audiences for years, making him one of the most beloved artists in the Philippines.

Other big winners at the Aliw Awards were singer-songwriter Moira De La Torre, who won best female artist in a major concert, Erik Santos, who won the best major concert male category, and Sheryn Regis, who was hailed as best female performance in a concert.

Gabby Concepcion and Sharon Cuneta won best collaboration in a major concert for "Dear Heart," while Piolo Pascual took home the trophy for best lead actor in a musical and 2023 entertainer of the year.

Pascual couldn’t hide his emotions after receiving the award: "Masaya lang! Hindi natin liga 'yung teatro pero I started out in theater. And the entertainer of the year, it only means all hard work does pay off. Wala akong ipagyayabang pero forever ako magiging humble sa lahat ng natatamasa and I'm just really thankful."

Pascual is set to have a series with ABS-CBN next year.





FOREX $1 = P 55.65





Most people rust out due to lack of challenge. Few people rust out due to overuse. - Denis Waitley


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.
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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?
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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