World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
26 Sept 2020

CHINA REJECTS HAGUE RULING ANEW, CITES 'AGREEMENT' WITH DUTERTE TO 'CLOSE

THE OLD CHAPTER'

 

MANILA— China reiterated Friday it does not recognize the 2016 arbitral

ruling invalidating its 9-dash line claim over nearly all of the South China

Sea— a legal victory that President Rodrigo Duterte invoked in his historic

speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

The July 2016 decision on the arbitration case by The Hague-based Permanent

Court of Arbitration recognized the Philippines' sovereign rights in its

exclusive economic zone in the resource-rich waters, which China claims in

near entirety.

"The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond

the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon. We firmly

reject attempts to undermine it," Duterte said, thanking other countries

supporting the ruling.

But in a virtual forum organized by the Association for Philippines-China

Understanding Inc. (APCU), Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang

Xilian cited the "consensus" allegedly reached between Duterte and Chinese

President Xi Jinping to shelve maritime disputes and manage the situation

through dialogue and cooperation.

"ChinaÂ’s position on the so-called arbitral ruling has been very clear: We

do not accept and we do not recognize this so-called ruling. It has been

agreed by our two presidents that we should close the old chapter and shelve

differences," said Huang.

Beijing has continued to ignore the ruling as Duterte sought closer ties

with the economic giant for his administration's infrastructure projects.

Recently, Duterte also expressed expectation that China would give the

Philippines access to the COVID-19 vaccine it was developing.

Huang said that the consensus of both leaders to "put aside" the maritime

disputes and manage the situation through bilateral consultations should be

"vigorously implemented by both sides" so that the "sound momentum of our

relations as guideposts to the way forward will be preserved and enhanced."

Huang said external powers should not be allowed to derail Philippine-China

relations as he claimed that countries "enjoy freedom of navigation in South

China Sea in accordance with international law."

He also dismissed "misleading accusations" over the so-called Chinese "debt

trap."

"In fact, there was no any evidence that Chinese projects threaten

Philippine security. In fact these projects are contributing to your

national building," Huang clarified.

Critics have said the Philippines has entered into onerous deals with China,

with former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warning

that Beijing could seize natural gas deposits in the Reed Bank (Recto Bank)

in the disputed waters if Manila is unable to pay the $62-million Chinese

loan for the Chico River Irrigation Loan Agreement.

Carpio is a long-time advocate of the Philippines' sovereignty and a vocal

critic of what he calls China's "creeping invasion."

 

 

HOUSE PANEL OKS P4.5 TRILLION = BUDGET FOR 2021

 

MANILA — The House appropriations committee has approved the proposed

P4.5-trillion national budget for next year at a record speed of just two

weeks of hearings.

Panel vice chairman and Bulacan Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado confirmed

yesterday that the General Appropriations Bill is set for deliberations at

the plenary next week.

He said their panel decided to adopt the budget bill, which reflects the

National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the Department of Budget and

Management (DBM), despite plans to adjust several items such as increasing

appropriations for the Department of Health (DOH) and the judiciary.

“The adjustments will just be made during plenary deliberations so we can

just have one round of adjustments instead of two, and so we can save time,”

Sy-Alvarado told The STAR.

The panel decided to conclude its hearings without finishing deliberations

on the proposed budget of the Presidential Communications Operations Office

(PCOO) after its scheduled hearings were suspended due to a barrage of

complaints from the Makabayan bloc.

During its turn to defend its proposed P1.59-billion budget, the PCOO faced

opposition from six militant lawmakers who confronted Undersecretary

Lorraine Badoy for red-tagging them in her past social media posts.

They demanded the resignation of the PCOO official, who is also the

spokesperson for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed

Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Unwilling to recant her accusation that they are “high-ranking

communist-terrorists,” Badoy said she would only resign if they condemn the

atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New PeopleÂ’s Army (NPA)

and call for the surrender of exiled CPP founder Jose Maria Sison.

Among all agencies, it was only the PCOO whose budget was not completely

deliberated on by the committee due to the Makabayan blocÂ’s objections.

“We will no longer hear the budget of PCOO again since we already had a

short briefing on it. We will just bring the objections to the plenary

directly since there are only a few of them,” Sy-Alvarado said.

“It’s allowed in the rules. We will just bring this matter to the plenary so

it will be tackled once. Anyway, itÂ’s the same group that will raise the

objections again in the plenary,” he added.

Fastest budget approval?

The House leadership has set a speedy budget calendar this year, targeting

to pass the proposed budget by the end of this month.

This timeframe would give the Senate the entire month of October to

deliberate on and pass the budget; and the President to sign the 2021

General Appropriations Act (GAA) by mid- or late-November for the first time

in history.

 

 

VP URGES DUTERTE SPOX TO REVIEW HER PANDEMIC SUGGESTIONS, HITS POLARIZING

COMMENTS

 

MANILA— Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday urged the spokesperson of

President Rodrigo Duterte to review her suggestions on curbing the

coronavirus pandemic after he challenged her to come up with a solution.

"Siguro kailangan niya lang balikan lahat ng statements na ginawa ko kasi

andoon iyong rekomendasyon," Robredo said in an interview on radio show

Basta Batas.

Robredo, the leader of the opposition, also urged Presidential Spokesman

Harry Roque, her former college dorm mate, to issue "unifying" remarks

during the health crisis instead of speaking along partisan lines.

"Dapat sana sini-set aside sino ba iyong kakampi, sino ang hindi, iyong

pagsabi na dilawan ito, hÂ’wag papakinggan. Lalo niyang napo-polarize ang

tao," she said.

Roque earlier this week told Robredo: "Hinahamon ko po si VP Leni, kung

mayroon siyang solusyon na walang vaccine at wala pa rin gamot, sabihin niya

po dahil sigurado po baka ngayon din maging presidente siya kung makahanap

siya ng solusyon habang walang bakuna at walang gamot."

"Habang wala talagang bakuna, habang walang gamot, wala pa rin po talagang

solusyon sa pandemyang ito," he said during a Palace press briefing.

The Lancet medical journal recently identified 19 countries that contained

their coronavirus outbreaks without a vaccine. The Philippines should study

what these countries did, said Robredo.

"Iyong datos ipinapakita na hindi mo kailangan maghintay sa vaccine. Papaano

kung iyong vaccine dumating end of 2021 paÂ… 2022 pa? Nganga na lang tayo?"

she said.

 

 

DUTERTE ADMIN REJECTS CALL TO CANCEL HALALAN 2022 DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC

 

MANILA —President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration rejected on Friday a

proposal to suspend the 2022 national elections due to the ongoing COVID-19

pandemic, saying the country still has sufficient time to prepare for the

nationwide polls.

The pandemic should not be used as a reason to postpone the upcoming

elections, which would see the rise to power of DuterteÂ’s successor, his

spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“The National Election is still two years away and we still have sufficient

time to prepare,” Roque said in a statement.

“We must not use the existing global health crisis as a ground to cancel and

reschedule the elections as this would not sit well with the public,” he

said.

Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo on Thursday urged the Commission on Elections

(Comelec) to consider postponing the 2022 national polls, saying voters are

afraid of contracting coronavirus.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas however responded that the matter is not a

call of the poll body, but rather, up to Congress and President Duterte.

“The holding of elections is a public service that the government must

ensure to deliver. The idea to postpone the 2022 elections, if and when it

happens, presents constitutional challenges,” Roque said.

Under the 1987 Philippine charter, the presidential and vice presidential

elections should occur every second Monday of May every sixth year after May

1992.

 

 

‘BEST CASE SCENARIO’: COVID-19 VACCINE APPROVAL IN PH MAY COME BY APRIL

2021, SAYS FDA

 

MANILA — The Philippines' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday said

approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in the country may come in April next year—

the best case scenario.

“The best case scenario if clinical trials are completed by December or

January and a company would file with the FDA an application then itÂ’s

possible that by April 2021 we will have an approved vaccine,” FDA Director

General Eric Domingo said during a Department of Health virtual briefing.

“Best case scenario 'yun. Meaning 'yung 3 to 6 months (trial) magiging 3

months and they will complete all of their analysis and submit immediately,”

he added.

This time period— 3 to 6 months— is the experts' estimate on Phase III

clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña

explained in the same briefing.

 

 

ENVIRONMENT CHIEF SUSPENDS DOLOMITE MINING OPS IN CEBU SOURCE OF MANILA BAY

'WHITE SAND'

 

MANILA — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has suspended operations in two

dolomite mining firms in Alcoy, Cebu, where government sourced synthetic

white sand for a beautification project at the Manila Bay.

In a text message, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said Cimatu

inspected dolomite mining operations in Alcoy over complaints on allegedly

harmful environmental effects.

"He immediately ordered the suspension of operation of Dolomite Mining Corp.

and Philippine Mining Service Corp pending investigation on its operations'

environmental impact," said Antiporda.

 

 

THE REST

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PINOY GREEN ADVOCATES GET CREATIVE FOR GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE AMID COVID-19

PANDEMIC

 

MANILA — With movement in Metro Manila still partially restricted because of

the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipino environmental activists got creative for

this yearÂ’s global climate strike.

Members of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), the

Philippine chapter of the Fridays for Future movement led by Swedish

activist Greta Thunberg, held what they called an “aerial art attack” at

University of the Philippines on Friday.

Eight members of the group lay on a large cloth depicting a world map while

holding up placards calling for climate action.

Photos of the event also showed banners saying, “Protect Climate Protectors”

and “Junk Terror Law.”

“This year, we want to show that it’s time to be hands-on, it’s time to be

proactive in the fight against climate change and the people who are

actively supporting the system that allows climate change to happen,” said

YACAP national coordinator Xian Guevarra in a statement.

The global youth climate strike on September 25 is a concerted effort of

environmental groups across the world to demand urgent action to tackle the

climate crisis.

YACAP particularly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly not

adhering to the countryÂ’s United Nations climate commitments.

“We are on a climate strike amid the pandemic because of Duterte's

relentless pursuit of climate disruptive projects like coal power expansion,

land reclamation, and aggressive big mining,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan,

international spokesperson of YACAP.

Tan said climate activists were being harassed through the Anti-Terrorism

Act of 2020.

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan PeopleÂ’s Network for the

Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said his group monitored at least 167 Filipino

environmental defenders working in the frontlines of environmental and

climate justice killed under the Duterte administration.

“We need a green new leadership that rejects the Anti-Terror Law and instead

prioritizes helping climate protectors through a climate-resilient, and

public health-oriented ‘green’ recovery plan,” Dulce said.

The groups said more than 2,500 youth-led climate strikes were held

throughout the world on Friday.

 

 

DRUG WAR: ‘TOKHANG’ FOR NEGLIGENT BARANGGAY CAPTAINS

 

MANILA — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) warned yesterday

erring barangay captains who have been negligent in implementing the

government’s anti-drug campaign that they may face “Oplan Tokhang.”

PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva issued the warning as their latest

report revealed that 14,171 or 33.70 percent of the 42,045 barangays in the

country remain drug-affected with just two years left in President DuterteÂ’s

term.

A total of 20,165 barangays nationwide have been cleared of illegal drugs

since Duterte took office in July 2016.

Oplan Tokhang, a brainchild of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief

and now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, is a community relations activity where

police officers visit drug suspects and ask them to surrender and reform.

However, people have associated Tokhang with law enforcement operations

where at least 5,856 suspected pushers have been killed.

Villanueva said PDEA is monitoring barangay officials who have not yet

established barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADACs), a necessary

component in their drug clearing program.

“If they don’t have that in their barangay, then we will ‘tokhang’ the

chairman,” Villanueva said at a press conference.

 

 

NO HOME ISOLATION FOR ASYMPTOMATICS

 

MANILA — Home quarantine will no longer be allowed for mild and asymptomatic

COVID-19 patients, except under certain conditions. Instead, they will be

required to undergo quarantine in facilities accredited by the Department of

Health (DOH) and local government units.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious

Diseases (IATF) yesterday released the new rules through Resolution No. 74

barely a week before the government adjusts or maintains the quarantine

status of Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

Mild and asymptomatic patients may be allowed home quarantine if government

facilities in the region or community of residence are confirmed by the

local Regional Task Force on COVID-19 to have inadequate isolation

facilities.

Such patients are also exempted if they are deemed vulnerable or have

comorbidities, or if their homes meet the conditions set jointly in an

administrative order by the DOH and the Department of the Interior and Local

Government (DILG) for serving as quarantine facility.

Patients considered vulnerable or having comorbidities include minors,

senior citizens, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women,

persons with disability who cannot carry out self-care and those

immune-compromised.

 

 

NO LICENSE, REGISTRATION REQUIRED FOR E-BIKE RIDERS

 

MANILA — Electronic bikes and scooters that have a maximum speed of 25

kilometers per hour will not require registration papers to hit the road,

the Land Transportation Office (LTO) said yesterday.

Riders who utilize this smaller category of e-bikes are also not required to

obtain a driverÂ’s license from the agency, said LTO chief Edgar Galvante.

However, while riders of e-bikes and e-scooters are exempted from licenses

and registration, their vehicles shall be limited to barangay roads and

bicycle lanes designated by authorities, Galvante said.

These guidelines, he said, are still being reviewed by the Department of

Transportation (DOTr).

 

 

HOUSES AND LOTS JOIN CONDOS TO TRIGGER RECORD SURGE IN PROPERTY COSTS

 

MANILA — Housing prices crushed expectations of a downturn to post their

fastest growth on record at the height of coronavirus lockdowns in the

second quarter, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Friday.

The annual uptick, a massive 27.1% across all home segments, demonstrated

the property marketÂ’s resilience, one that surprised even analysts

projecting a slump. The unexpected result bodes well for future rebound for

an economy battered by the health crisis.

“It’s an unusual increase,” said Ruben Carlo Asuncion, chief economist at

UnionBank of the Philippines, said in a text message when sought for

comment. “A crisis usually depresses demand for new housing. It doesn’t add

up with the current environment.”

Demand for higher-end projects, where foreign buyers typically swarm, was

cited as one major contributor for higher home prices. At the same time

though, BSP said banks extending home loans, which decreased 55.2% on-year

for new homes with high property costs, also saw a jump in raw materials for

construction as reason for more expensive residences.

By housing type, condominium units continued to clock the fastest price gain

of 30.1% year-on-year as of June. But single detached homes sprung a

surprise in second quarter, with their average costs jumping 24.1% annually,

the fastest on record that started only in 2015.

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE

 

 

RUBY RUIZ WINS BEST ACTRESS IN HARLEM FILM FESTIVAL FOR 'ISKA'

 

MANILA -- Ruby Ruiz bagged the best actress award at the 15th Harlem

International Film Festival held in New York City for her performance in

Theodore Boborol’s “Iska.”

In an Instagram post, Ruiz expressed her happiness over her first

international best actress trophy.

"My heart is full of gratitude, thank you Lord for this wonderful blessing,"

Ruiz wrote in the caption of her post.

Just last year, Ruiz was named best actress at the Cinemalaya Philippine

Independent Film Festival for the same film.

Director Boborol announced earlier tis week that "Iska" will stream on

Netfllix starting October 8.

"Iska" follows the story of a loving grandmother Iska, who wants to take

care of her autistic grandson but deemed unfit as a guardian by the media

and government.

Aside from Ruiz, "Iska" also features veteran actor Soliman Cruz, Jonic

Magno and Angie Castrence.

In a previous interview with PUSH, Ruiz shared her feelings portraying a

lead character.

“First time ko kasi ‘tong magbibida, so hindi ako sanay na every sequence,

kasali ako. Sanay ako na support. [In my experience as a supporting

actress,] kasama ako sa maraming eksena pero marami ring pahinga. In terms

of acting, kailangan madaliin mo because you’re pressured for time,” she

said.

"Iska" is Ruiz's second project with Boborol, whom she first met in the 2013

series "Annaliza."

 

 

SPORTS

 

 

NBA SCORES SEP 25

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

5 Heat 3-2    26    32    25    25    108

3 Celtics 2-3    18    33    41    29    121

GAME 5: MIA LEADS 3-2

SCORING LEADERS

G. Dragic MIA

23 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST

J. Tatum BOS

31 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST

 

 

INDICATORS

 

FOREX $1 = P 48.46

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it's the best possible

substitute for it. - James Garfield

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