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Gilas prepares for worst as lone bright spot Carl Tamayo suffers ankle sprain
MANILA, Philippines --- Gilas Pilipinas is holding its breath after Carl Tamayo, the lone bright spot in its blowout loss to New Zealand in the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian qualifiers on Thursday, suffered a right ankle injury. Philippine men's basketball team coach Nenad Vucinic said it's too early to assess the injury of the young big man, but the team is preparing for the worst. "It's very early to assess the injury. It is a sprained ankle, so it's very hard to see that in three days, he will be able to recover," said Vucinic after their 60-106 defeat at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland. "If he does recover and put a jersey on, it's probably not gonna be effective as he would ...Keep on reading: Gilas prepares for worst as lone bright spot Carl Tamayo suffers ankle sprain
DOH Bicol records 127% increase in COVID-19 cases
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 127 percent increase in cases of COVID-19 in the Bicol region. In a report released on Thursday, the DOH Bicol Center for Health Development (CHD) said 50 new cases were recorded in the June 22-28 monitoring, higher than 22 cases recorded last week. The province of Sorsogon recorded 15 new cases, 11 in Camarines Sur, 10 in Catanduanes, nine in Albay, and five in Camarines Norte. "If the present trend continues, cases are projected to increase," the agency said. DOH Bicol urged the public to continue practicing health protocols and reminded those who are due for booster doses to get their booster shots. RELATE...Keep on reading: DOH Bicol records 127% increase in COVID-19 cases
Bicol militants slam Marcos Jr.’s assumption to presidency
DAET, CAMARINES NORTE --- Militant groups in Bicol region staged simultaneous protest rallies on Thursday in Albay and Camarines Sur provinces as Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumes office as the new chief executive of the country. In Naga City in Camarines Sur, more than 500 protesters gathered at Plaza Quezon. Armed with placards, they expressed their rejection of the Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte tandem. "Filipinos deserve freedom, livelihood, and human rights," their messages said. They also said they do not want "another bloody country under another Marcos regime." In Legazpi City, Albay, more than 200 anti-Marcos-Duterte had a caravan starting from Sawangan Pa...Keep on reading: Bicol militants slam Marcos Jr.’s assumption to presidency
LOOK: Mayors of Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa sworn into office
MANILA, Philippines --- Incoming mayors of Metro Manila cities Pasig, Taguig, and Muntinlupa were sworn into office on Thursday, together with other local officials. In the city of Pasig, re-elected chief executive Victor "Vico" Sotto took his oath as the Mayor of the city at the Ynares Sports Center in Barangay Ugong. In his inaugural address, Sotto thanked his constituents, family, and supporters who he said helped him implement changes to the city he led. "Hindi tayo nagpatinag, maaaring ako ang naging mukha ng pagbabago, maaaring ako ngayon ang namumuno bilang alkalde ninyo, pero ang totoo niyan ay hindi ko po ito kinaya kung ako lang po mag-isa," Sotto said. (We did ...Keep on reading: LOOK: Mayors of Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa sworn into office
PBA: Baser Amer’s game-winner lifts Blackwater past Meralco for 4-1 start
MANILA, Philippines--Blackwater claimed its third-straight victory on Thursday night, taking down Meralco in thrilling fashion, 90-89, in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. Baser Amer stuck it to his old team, hitting the game-winning jumper to will the Bossing past a seasoned club that's blossoming into a formidable all-Filipino crew. "I told Baser that this is a game he's going to win for us. You can ask him," said coach Ariel Vanguardia. "It really took a Meralco player to beat them." https://twitter.com/pbaconnect/status/1542467460821295105 Ato Ular sustained his fine form, delivering another double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds. JVe...Keep on reading: PBA: Baser Amer’s game-winner lifts Blackwater past Meralco for 4-1 start
New Bohol guv: No more ‘Ivans’ at capitol
TAGBILARAN CITY --- No more "Ivans" at the Bohol capitol. This was the pledge of Gov. Erico Aristotle "Aris" Aumentado as he took his oath of office in Bohol province on Thursday. "There will be no more bypassing of the normal bidding procedures. There will be no more transactions done by or coursed through people who have no official functions in the capitol. There will be no more 'Ivans'," said Aumentado who earned cheers from the crowd. He lamented that Boholano businessmen were not able to do business in the capitol because of heavy obstacles like the reported huge kickbacks. "We may be able to unmask the face or faces of that notorious "Ivan" or not but we will make ...Keep on reading: New Bohol guv: No more ‘Ivans’ at capitol
Eastern Samar’s Evardone: Flight discontinued in 2019 due to lack of passengers
BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar --- Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone has clarified the reason for the discontinued flights in this city in 2019. According to him, the flights were discontinued three years ago due to the lack of passengers availing the chartered flights with airline firm Leading Edge Air Services Corporation. Evardone also said in a statement sent to Inquirer on Wednesday that the discontinued flights had nothing to do with his assumption as governor. "The operations of the local airline stopped even before (former governor Marcelo "Dindo") Picardal lost in the elections. It stopped for lack of commercial traffic or passengers," he said. Last week, the Boronga...Keep on reading: Eastern Samar’s Evardone: Flight discontinued in 2019 due to lack of passengers
MRT-3 Libreng Sakay program ends, gets thank-you note from passenger
MANILA, Philippines --- A random passenger left a thank you note in one of the trains of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) as its "Libreng Sakay" (free ride) program ended on Thursday. The program was launched on March 28 by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), allowing commuters to avail of free transport anytime between the line's operating hours from 4:40 a.m. to 10:10 p.m. A day before its scheduled end, a passenger --- who described oneself as a "happier commuter" who rode the train for eleven Wednesdays to Redemptorist Church in Baclaran from April to June --- left a message on one of MRT's trains, expressing thanks for the program. "Thank you very much for the...Keep on reading: MRT-3 Libreng Sakay program ends, gets thank-you note from passenger
Marcos’ victory fills supporters with high hopes
  MANILA, Philippines --- From lowering market prices to continuing the Duterte legacy, supporters of the newly sworn-in chief of state Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. are confident that he will live up to his promises during his term. To culminate the celebration following the victory of their presidential bet, Marcos' supporters flocked to the Club Intramuros Golf Course in Manila to witness his inauguration onThursday. They didn't come empty-handed as they brought their high expectations for the President with them. INQUIRER.net spoke with a few of Marcos' supporters to peek into their wishlist for the administration. A promise to lower prices Madonna Merv...Keep on reading: Marcos’ victory fills supporters with high hopes
PSA: PH savings further fell in 2021 amid prolonged pandemic
  MANILA, Philippines ---Amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic which had been putting pressure on the financial resources of Filipino families and firms, the Philippines' total savings further fell to P3.88 trillion last year. The Philippine Statistics Authority's (PSA) latest consolidated accounts and income and outlay accounts report released on Thursday showed the country's 2021 gross saving dropped 12.4 percent from P4.43 trillion in 2020. Gross saving is the difference between gross national disposable income and the total goods and services consumed by the government and households. Before the pandemic happened, the country's gross savings amounted to P6.15 tril...Keep on reading: PSA: PH savings further fell in 2021 amid prolonged pandemic
DFNN, Nautilus work together to develop PH’s first ‘Green Data Center’ in Bataan
MANILA, Philippines --- DFNN, Inc. and Nautilus Data Technologies (Nautilus) have inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate and jointly assist each other in projects involving the development of a data center in the Freeport Area of Bataan. The project was intended to focus on the use, supply, implementation, and application of the two companies' respective businesses and related products and services. This much-awaited collaboration between DFNN and Nautilus could not have come at a more opportune time when digital transformation is at its peak having been triggered by the pandemic and its restrictions on consumer movement and preferences. Nautilus created the world'...Keep on reading: DFNN, Nautilus work together to develop PH’s first ‘Green Data Center’ in Bataan
National athletes march in military-civic parade during Bongbong Marcos inauguration
  MANILA, Philippines---Filipino athletes won't be left out in the government's platform for unity and progress. A total of 25 athletes and coaches in wushu, sepak takraw, jiu-jitsu, judo, kurash, shooting, rowing and gymnastics joined the military civic parade on Thursday, honoring the inauguration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the 17th President of the Philippines. Marcos applauded the national athletes and coaches as they marched in front of the stage at the National Museum, a propitious sign that the country's Chief Executive will have a prominent nook in his administration. ``We are thankful to the new administration, to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., fo...Keep on reading: National athletes march in military-civic parade during Bongbong Marcos inauguration
Citizen Duterte goes malling in Makati, gets idolized by crowds like a rock star
MANILA, Philippines --- Shortly after the departure honors for him in Malacaang, former President Rodrigo Duterte went to a posh mall in Makati City to unwind, where he received a rock star-level reception from crowds. Before stepping down from office at noon on Thursday, Duterte met with his successor, newly-elected President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., at the Palace. Marcos paid a courtesy call on Duterte and witnessed the departure honors before his inauguration at the National Museum in Manila City. READ: It's official: Bongbong Marcos sworn in as PH's 17th President Duterte no longer attended the oath-taking of his successor. Later, social media users posted ...Keep on reading: Citizen Duterte goes malling in Makati, gets idolized by crowds like a rock star
6 skeletal remains of alleged victims of crime gang exhumed in Albay town
LEGAZPI CITY --- Authorities on Wednesday, June 29, exhumed the bodies of six people believed to have been killed by the Concepcion criminal group in a remote village in Libon town in Albay, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Thursday. Paterno Morales, director of NBI in Bicol, said they recovered the first two skeletal remains of two brothers in Barangay (village) Molosbolos at around 7 a.m. Two hours later, another skeletal remains of a woman were also found 500 meters away from the first grave. The three victims, whose names were withheld, were businessmen reported missing in June 2021 and were last seen in the said town. Morales said the witnesses also ga...Keep on reading: 6 skeletal remains of alleged victims of crime gang exhumed in Albay town
Healthcare professionals discuss importance of ezetimibe in addressing gaps in cholesterol management
The 2019 guideline for the management of dyslipidemias published by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in partnership with the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS), recommended a further reduction in Low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C) or "bad" cholesterol levels, lowering the target up to 50% from baseline for dyslipidemia management. If the recommended LDL-C level is not reached among patients receiving highest intensity statin therapy, the 2019 guideline recommended adding another non-statin oral therapy, ezetimibe. Ezetimibe is a medication used in the management and treatment of dyslipidemia. It is among a novel class of selective cholesterol-absorption inhibitors. Dys...Keep on reading: Healthcare professionals discuss importance of ezetimibe in addressing gaps in cholesterol management
Catriona Gray goes to Vietnam, helps put smiles on the faces of kids born with cleft
Former Miss Universe Catriona Gray is staunchly promoting the welfare of children who are born with cleft, going as far as Vietnam to advance her cause. Gray is spreading awareness on the treatment for cleft as can be seen in her Instagram page today, June 30, where she shared photos of children born with cleft. "Did you know 1 out of 500 babies is born with a cleft? It is an incredibly stigmatized condition, one that not only affects a child's ability to breathe, speak and eat - but can also affect their self esteem and confidence. The good news is - there is treatment for cleft," she said. Gray is happy to support Smile Train founded in 1999 and which has since become the worl...Keep on reading: Catriona Gray goes to Vietnam, helps put smiles on the faces of kids born with cleft
BOC launches i-Declare system for online baggage and currency declarations
MANILA, Philippines --- Travelers now have the option to complete their baggage and currency declarations online after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) launched the "i-Declare system" to modernize the agency. Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said Thursday that the new system seeks to streamline and digitalize BOC's baggage and currency declaration process. "Automating the decades-old manual filing is another effort to modernize the Bureau, with the intention of integrating it with other government agencies for a more encompassing approach in providing the public with one-stop-shop service for all the governments' clearance requirements," Guerrero said in a statement. Un...Keep on reading: BOC launches i-Declare system for online baggage and currency declarations
Mon Confiado is a metrosexual fashion designer in ‘Ang Babaeng Nawawala Sa Sarili’
Playing a metrosexual fashion designer in "Ang Babaeng Nawawala Sa Sarili" is a big challenge for character actor Mon Confiado. "Kakaiba ito doon sa mostly villain roles ko. Number one, sexy. Sabi nga ni direk Roman Perez kaiingitan ako dito dahil sa mga love scenes na ginawa ko," Confiado said during the online press conference for the movie last June 17. (It's different from my mostly villain roles. Numbe one, it is sexy. Director Roman Perez said that I will be envied because of the love scenes that I did here.) Doing sexy scenes is nothing new to Confiado who did several daring scenes in his movies for Seiko Films. "Kahit 'yung mga Cinema One erotic films, gumagawa naman ...Keep on reading: Mon Confiado is a metrosexual fashion designer in ‘Ang Babaeng Nawawala Sa Sarili’
Bongbong Marcos vows to prioritize climate change issues
MANILA, Philippines --- Newly sworn-in President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Thursday he would be prioritizing climate change issues in his administration. In his inaugural speech at the National Museum of Fine Arts, he said he would ask for help from partner nations to address the problem. According to him, the Philippines, despite having "a very small carbon footprint, is at the highest risk" for impacts of climate change. "The rich world talks a great deal but does a lot less about it than those with much less, but who suffer more death and destruction from climate change and lack of adaptation," he said. "We will look to our partners and friends to help the Philippines,...Keep on reading: Bongbong Marcos vows to prioritize climate change issues
Chris Pratt, Jack Carr, Constance Wu talk about new series ‘The Terminal List’
Hollywood actor Chris Pratt brings author Jack Carr's bestseller "The Terminal List" to the small screen this week in a new television adaptation of the first novel in the hit book series. The "Jurassic World" star plays Navy SEAL officer James Reece who is trying to find out why his former platoon was ambushed on a botched mission. Pratt, who executive produced the show, co-star Constance Wu and Carr spoke to Reuters about the action thriller, which begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on Friday. Below are excerpts from the exclusive interview: You have a newborn at home, star in blockbusters "Jurassic World Dominion" and "Thor: Love and Thunder" and you're bringing ou...Keep on reading: Chris Pratt, Jack Carr, Constance Wu talk about new series ‘The Terminal List’
- Catherine S. Valente
Duterte bids Malacañang farewell

THERE'S no turning back now.

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte left Malacañang for good on Thursday morning after a brief meeting with President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Duterte arrived past 9 a.m., followed shortly by Marcos, who will be sworn in as the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

The two leaders then proceeded inside Malacañan Palace for one-on-one talks.

After the meeting, both descended the Palace stairs, and witnessed the departure honors for the outgoing leader.

Duterte also took his final solo stroll at the Kalayaan grounds as the country's president.

He was given a 21-gun salute as part of the customary send-off.

It is still unknown if the outgoing Chief Executive will immediately return to his hometown of Davao City after the ceremony.

However, there are reports that the NCCC Group of Companies will host a homecoming concert for Duterte at the NCCC Mall VP Parking A at 5:30 p.m. on June 30.

The concert will be a tribute to Duterte for his service to the country, and a homecoming celebration for his return to Davao City after serving as the 16th Philippine President.

On the other hand, arrival honors will be held for Marcos who will take his oath of office at the National Museum in Ermita, Manila.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo will administer the oath of the incoming president.

The traditional Vin d'honneur will be held immediately after the inauguration, also at the National Museum.

The new president will then be accorded arrival honors at the Kalayaan grounds in Malacañang. The First Family will have to enter the Ceremonial Hall together.

After this, Marcos will administer a mass oath taking for all incoming members of his Cabinet.

- Catherine S. Valente
Marcos takes power

FERDINAND Marcos Jr. will find himself back in Malacañang after he takes his oath as the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines at noon today, June 30, 2022, 36 years after his father was ousted and forced out of the Palace.

Marcos, 64, better known as Bongbong, takes the rein of power from President Rodrigo Duterte, with a promise to provide the country a unifying leadership.

He will serve as president until 2028.

Marcos, who ran under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, obtained 31,629,783 votes in the official tally for the 2022 presidential race.

Having captured Filipinos' hearts with his campaign promise of unity, Marcos faces huge challenges as the country strives to recover from the debilitating effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

"Tulungan niyo po ako. Mahirap po ang ating kailangang gawin, marami po ang ating kailangang gawin. Ngunit sa tulong ninyo, sa pagkakaisa ninyo, sa ating pangarap na pagandahin ulit ang buhay ng Pilipino ... ay magiging totoo 'pag tayo ay nagkaisa (Please help me. What we need to do is difficult, what we need to do will be a lot. But with your help, your unity in my dream of giving Filipinos a better life... we will truly be united)," Marcos said in his recent speech.

Marcos will bank on his long years in politics and the Cabinet that he carefully formed to steer the country to progress.

He expressed confidence that he has put together "a good team" who will help him realize a better and more progressive Philippines.

"I believe we have found a good team, that we can have confidence in, that will bring us together, that will create, and that will formulate and transform... formulate plans to transform the economy to the new global economy. And that's what we all wish for our country," Marcos said when he visited Cebu City last Tuesday for the oath-taking ceremony and thanksgiving of the One Cebu Party.

To date, he has designated more than 20 individuals to different departments, including the all too important economic cluster headed by incumbent Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Benjamin Diokno who will take the top post at the Department of Finance (DoF).

Interestingly, besides Diokno, other holdovers from the Duterte administration who will be taking on new roles under Marcos' watch are outgoing Labor and Employment chief Silvestre Bello 3rd, former Cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Bello is the new chairman and resident representative-designate of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office to be based in Taiwan, while Guevarra takes over from Calida as solicitor general.

Nograles, on the other hand, was renominated as chairman of the Civil Service Commission. He was one of President Rodrigo Duterte's ad-interim appointees bypassed due to lack of quorum by the Commission on Appointments several weeks back.

Marcos will temporarily be the Agriculture secretary.

Still without new chiefs are the Department of Health, Department of Energy and Bureau of Customs.

On Wednesday, Marcos named Calida as chairman of the Commission on Audit and Jose Arnulfo "Wick" Veloso as president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System.

'We shall rise again'

Marcos, whose slogan is "Together we shall rise again," has stuck to an evocative message of rekindling the idea of the country's former greatness.

His father, former president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., also once promised to make the Philippines "great again."

Aside from pushing for unity, Marcos had promised to lower electricity rates, provide sufficient energy supply and reduce rice prices.

The former senator also vowed to continue the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration and prioritize the development of digital infrastructure.

His inauguration will be steeped in tradition. He will take his oath at noon before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo at the National Museum in Manila.

After his oath-taking, Marcos will proceed to Malacañang where he is expected to administer the oath of the members of his Cabinet.

- Christian Crow Maghanoy
Rappler to appeal SEC closure order

(UPDATE) THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has affirmed its order shutting down the online news site Rappler, but its Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa said that they will appeal the ruling.

Ressa announced the SEC ruling in her speech at Hawaii's East-West Center international media conference late Tuesday. Photo shows the office of online news organization Rappler at Pasig City, June 29 2022. Acording to Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has upheld its earlier decision to shut down Rappler due to the constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media. Photos by John Orven Verdote

She said the move "effectively shuts down Rappler," claiming that the SEC's decision is "highly irregular" and not immediately executory, without the court's approval.

"In an order dated June 28, our Securities and Exchange Commission affirmed its earlier decision to revoke the certificates of incorporation of Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holding Corp.," Ressa said in a social media video posted by a fellow journalist Annalisa Burgos. "We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shutdown of Rappler."

She affirmed that Rappler's closure will depend on the verdict of the Supreme Court."Although it's up to the highest court of the land, this is business as usual and it is business as usual as we hold power into account," Ressa said.

"We will tell the truth. Since in our view, this isn't immediately executory without the court approval, where rule of law is being bid to be broken," she said. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa of the Philippines poses with the Nobel Peace Prize diploma and medal during the gala award ceremony for the Nobel Peace prize on December 10, 2021 in Oslo. AFP PHOTO

The SEC first issued its order against Rappler in 2018. Its recent decision reiterates that the digital news organization allowed foreign investor Omidyar Network, an investment company owned by eBay auction site founder Pierre Omidyar, to hold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), a financial instrument that foreign entities can buy for financial returns in a local company but not in the form of dividends, which are tied to ownership.

"We have discussed all possible scenarios with Rappler's [staff] since the SEC issued its first order in 2018," Glenda Gloria, executive editor and co-founder of the site, told reporters. "Nothing ever sufficiently prepares an organization for a 'kill' order."

Rappler has had to fight for survival as President Rodrigo Duterte's government accused it of violating a constitutional ban on foreign ownership in securing funding, as well as tax evasion.

It has also been accused of cyberlibel.

Ressa is also fighting at least seven court cases, including an appeal against a conviction in a cyberlibel case, for which she is on bail and faces up to six years in prison.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) slammed the SEC's closure order, describing it as the government's attempt to block alternative news sites using regulatory laws on block time broadcasting arrangements. The union also said this order plunged the country's media into uncertain waters.

"The order to shut Rappler down comes on the heels of the National Telecommunications Commission's moves to block alternative news sites Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly," NUJP said in a statement.

Bulatlat is the Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) mirror website that is part of their Operation Collateral Freedom program, while Pinoy Weekly is an alternative online news website critical of the administration.

Both sites were among the red-tagged news outfits that have been subjected to cyberattacks since December 2018.

"It is clear now...that the journalism community and the communities that we report about and for must stand together against government moves to harass, restrict and silence any of us to keep the press free for all of us," NUJP said.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson believes that Rappler's closure order was Duterte's retaliation against the online news platform known for its fearless reporting about drug war human-rights abuses.

"Rappler is facing government retaliation for its fearless reporting about rights abuses in the 'drug war,' Duterte and Marcos' use of disinformation on social media, and a wide variety of rights-abusing actions over the past six years," Robertson said in a statement.

In a related development, defeated senatorial candidate and controversial lawyer Larry Gadon said on Wednesday that he hopes the SEC will implement its own order against Rappler.

"Besides, the decision of SEC is long overdue," he told reporters.

Gadon said Rappler has been operating illegally.

"It has no corporate entity and no legal personality. Therefore, it must cease from impressing upon the public that it is a duly-authorized company when it is not," Gadon said.

On Rappler's move to appeal the decision, Gadon said it was not the remedy.

"Compliance with regulations is a must and when an applicant for registration fails to comply with the requirements of the law, then that's the end of it," he said.

"Appeals are not in order. What an applicant has to do is re-apply and comply by submitting all the requirements," Gadon added.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) has urged the Philippine government to reverse its order to shut down Rappler.

"This legal harassment not only costs Rappler time, money and energy. It enables relentless and prolific online violence designed to chill independent reporting," ICFJ said in a statement posted on Twitter.

WITH AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS, ARLIE CALALO AND ASSOCIATED PRESS

- Franco Jose C. Baroña
Pope Francis sends good wishes to BBM

POPE Francis extended his congratulations to Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. for his upcoming inauguration as the 17th President of the Philippines.

"I send my congratulations and cordial wishes to your excellency as you begin your mandate as the president of the republic," Pope Francis said in his message shared by the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles Brown.

The pope said he is praying for Marcos as he takes over the mantle of leadership of more than 100 million Filipinos.

"In assuring you of my prayers that you will be sustained in wisdom and strength, I invoke the Almighty God's blessings of peace and prosperity upon the nation," the pope added.

Marcos will be formally sworn in as president on June 30 after being elected by the majority of Filipinos in the May 2022 elections.

His inauguration will be held at the National Museum of the Philippines at 12 p.m. He will be sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo.

Archbishop Brown earlier revealed the positive conversation he had with Marcos when he made a courtesy call on June 10. Their discussion centered on strengthening the relationship between the church and government.

The Vatican representative in the Philippines said Marcos expressed his willingness to cooperate with the church.

"We had a very productive, encouraging and positive discussion. The president-elect has assured me of his desire to collaborate and cooperate closely with the church and the Holy See," Archbishop Brown added.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines already assured continued engagement with the incoming government for the benefit of Filipinos.

According to Caritas Philippines national director, Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, they will work with the new administration on programs that will address the rights and dignity of the people as well as promote truth and honest governance.

- Eireene Jairee Gomez,Francis Earl Cueto
More investments sought for Visayas

WHILE growth has been faster, more inclusive and sustainable in the Visayas region, there remains a lot of investment areas that both the government and the private sector may look into to advance its regional economy, especially during these difficult times of the pandemic, top officials said.

Among these attractive sectors that need more local and foreign investments are agriculture, tourism, and information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO), said Philippine Chamber of Commerce Regional Governor Atty. Jobert Peñaflorida for Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Reynaldo "Cholo" Franco, president of Eastern Visayas Tourism Association Inc., during The Manila Times Online Business Forum titled "The Visayas: Regional direction, governance and progress" on Wednesday.

For this year, Peñaflorida said that the IT BPO industry will be one of the major economic drivers in the region, along with the tourism sector, given the "revenge" arrival of tourists as businesses get back on track amid the pandemic.

This was echoed by Franco, saying that while there are currently 13 tourism circuits in Eastern Visayas, easily connecting provinces, the region needs "more stable" and "more accessible" airports for foreign visitors. "An international airport would be a good investment," he said.

"We need to capitalize on the public-private partnership (PPP). The private sector should come in not only to domestic but also to foreign," Franco added, noting also the need for more digital infrastructure in Eastern Visayas.

The first quarter total day visitors in Eastern Visayas decreased by 7 percent in 2019 from 2018, which was further reduced by 88 percent in 2020, regional data showed. The total day visitors increased by 83 percent in 2021 and another 81 percent in 2022, which means that the region is now on its recovery stage in terms of tourist arrivals, according to Franco.

"We're now in recovery, however, we haven't reached our peak yet in 2018," he said.

As for agriculture, Peñaflorida emphasized the importance of prioritizing the region's food security amid the global food challenges.

"What gives us stability also is our agriculture sector. Our province remains an agricultural one. And now, with the pandemic, we see how it benefited us. We have our own source of food. It gives us a sense of stability that we can thrive," he said.

Franco stressed that Visayas is one of the country's main sources of agricultural products, and by enhancing production, the region could reduce food and input prices, improve welfare, and make Philippine products more competitive. Unless there is development in major provinces in the region, and extension of government and private sector programs to other areas, it is hard to see how the region can achieve sustained and inclusive growth.

Eastern Visayas has a lot to offer, Franco said. "We have a lot of gifts and opportunities," he added.

Meanwhile, Peñaflorida described the province of IloIlo as "the next big thing" in the Western Visayas Region. Iloilo is among the major food producers, provider of mineral resources, sites of human settlements, and rich in tourism sites and destinations.

Peñaflorida bragged about Iloilo's power sector.

"This is something that we're happy about. We have enough power capacity and I think we have one of the most competitive rates," he said.

However, he stressed that there remains a lot of work to do to sustain development of its energy sector. At the same time, he mentioned the need for more infrastructure projects in the region. "The whole collective dream of the Western Visayas is the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Link Bridge," which will also link Iloilo to some of the key provinces in the region, thus, greater economic growth, said Peñaflorida.

He rated ease of doing business in Iloilo at 90 percent, emphasizing that business transactions with the local government are done the easy way, helping stakeholders achieve their respective goals.

"We dream of Iloilo. But there's still a lot to do in Eastern Visayas," Franco said.

The two officials shared optimism that President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. will push programs toward the rapid growth and development of the Visayas region.

"My wish list for the President is for him to be true to his mandate of unity... and include Iloilo, the Region 6, in its development plans... In addition, we hope that the aspect of our resiliency will be looked at, in light of the coming typhoons and disasters. We hope there'll be stronger resiliency plans and programs that protect the environment," said Peñaflorida.

'Revenge tourism'

In a related development, the Marcos administration will greatly benefit from the "revenge tourism" that started under the outgoing Duterte government, the lead convenor of the Safe Travel Alliance said in a forum on Wednesday.

Dr. Maria Cherry Lyn Rodolfo said at the 2022 Midyear business economic briefing titled "New Administration, New Economy: The Philippines after May 9 and Covid-19," that with most countries and especially provinces in the country shifting to a looser restriction, people could now travel.

"Many people are rushing to end their isolation, that is why tourism continues to grow," she said.

Rodolfo also said that as restrictions eased, with many parts of the Philippines being placed under Alert Level 1, Filipino families, who were forced to stay in their homes for two years now have a chance to have a change in their surroundings.

"It was good for the mental health of the Filipino traveler," she said.

Revenge tourism or revenge travel is a phenomenon where people who are tired of mundane everyday routines due to lockdowns rush to travel to nearby destinations for short breaks.

Rodolfo added that while international travel is starting to gain ground, the Philippine tourism industry is heavily relying on domestic travel.

"Domestic growth is busy nowadays. It has been the backbone of tourism even before Covid and now after. It is the catalyst for the rebound in the industry," she said.

Among the top destinations are Boracay and Palawan. The majority of the local travel destinations are located in the Central Visayas.

"The top destinations are Central Visayas. You have Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor," Rodolfo said, adding that Region 4A, or Calabarzon, also experienced growth in the tourism industry, being near the National Capital Region, the nearest getaway.

She said that the Marcos administration could sustain the growth by maintaining proper health protocols across the country to keep low Covid-19 numbers.

She also said that to boost the tourism industry further, the help of the local government is needed to improve the infrastructure and the tourist spots to make them accessible.

"The help of the LGUs is greatly needed," she said.

This, according to Rodolfo, is why they see the appointment of Liloan, Cebu Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco as Tourism secretary as a good decision.

"She is a local chief executive. She knows what is needed to boost the tourism of each LGU," she said.

- Dafort Villaseran
'The Manila Times 500 and the Next 500' rolls out

WEATHERING the pandemic storm, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) topped the 2021 edition of The Manila Times 500 and the Next 500, which rolls hot off the press today, June 30, 2022.

With the theme "Thriving in the post-Covid economy: Outlook and trends," the annual magazine shows how SMC and Top Frontier Investment Holdings Inc. were the only two conglomerates that were able to hold on to the two primary positions while four corporations were displaced and four companies, surprisingly, performed well enough during the pandemic to rise up in rank within the top 10.

The Manila Times 500 and the Next 500 features reports by Karl Kendrick Chua, National Economic and Development Authority director general; Benjamin Diokno, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor; Jose Maria "Joey" Concepcion 3rd, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder; Jeremiah Belgica, Anti-Red Tape Authority director general; Ramon Lopez, Department of Trade and Industry secretary; and Ramon Jacinto, presidential adviser for telecommunications, among other notable authorities on public policy.

For the private sector, Atty. Euney Mata-Perez, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines executive vice president and corporate secretary; Eduardo Francisco, BDO Capital and Investment Corp. president; and Sheila Lobien, Lobien Realty Group chief executive officer write about investment reforms, the Philippine capital market and the country's real estate industry, respectively.

This historical publication documents in unflinching detail how — as Ben Kritz, the associate editor of the magazine, puts it — "the vast majority survived, and a few even thrived," based on ranking according to consolidated revenues for 2020.

- Frederick Silverio
3 dead, 4 injured in 2 accidents

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga: The 177th celebration of the "Libad Ilog" or the fluvial procession for the feast of patron Apu Iro in Apalit, Pampanga ended in tragedy when two devotees were electrocuted and four others were injured on Tuesday afternoon.

Two persons were confirmed dead while four others were injured as Barangay Sulipan commemorated its town fiesta with the traditional fluvial parade in Apalit River.

Pampanga Police Acting Director Col. Alvin Ruby Consolacion identified one of the fatalities as Nyote Ponsenes, 40, a resident of Manila. The other victim who died, about 25 to 30 years of age, remained unidentified.

The injured victims who sustained minor burns were identified as Maria Christina Javier-Torres, 58; Mia Franz Simbulan, 11; and Dwayne Cortez, 11, all residents of Barangay Sucad, Apalit; and Elizabeth Figueras Javier, 41, a native of Matabungcay, Lian, Batangas.

Investigation showed the tragedy occurred around 2 p.m. while the victims were aboard a motorized boat participating in the fluvial parade. A protruding metal from the boat accidentally hit the high-tension wire of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, causing the boat's engine to explode and electrocute its occupants.

The six victims were rushed to Premier Hospital and Asccom Hospital, but two of them were declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

On the same day at the fluvial parade, a 5-year-old boy drowned after the boat he was riding overturned in Apalit River.

The victim was identified as Aaron John Lopez, a resident of España Dalayap, Macabebe, Pampanga.

Based on the initial report, the victim was accompanied aboard a motorized boat by his father Alejandro Lopez, 27; brother Prince Aiki, 6; and neighbors Ian Sequiña, 17, and Marlon Mercado, 32.

The father said they were cruising along the river at around 3:30 p.m. when he noticed that their boat was about to collide with another boat, so he immediately turned the helm causing the boat to capsize and sink.

Personnel of the Apalit Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office on site responded quickly and rescued the passengers of the sunken boat, but the boy was already lifeless when he was fished out of the water.

The Libad Ilog for Apung Iru was not held in the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but for this year's celebration, up to 2,000 boats participated in the parade.

Apung Iru stands for the holy image of St. Peter, which is brought to its shrine by members of the Knights of St. Peter in a traditional fluvial procession every June 20 to 28 in Apalit River.

- Javier Joe Ismael
Bong Go helps indigents in Negros

SEN. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go vowed to remain focused on providing necessary support to those adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as he had his team deliver assistance to hundreds of disadvantaged residents in Siaton, Negros Oriental on Friday, June 24.

In his video message during the activity held at Siaton Municipal Gymnasium, the senator reiterated his commitment to continue pursuing President Rodrigo Duterte's goal of helping provide a comfortable life for every Filipino.

He also emphasized that public service delivery must remain unhampered even after President Duterte's term.

"Mga kababayan ko, kahit po na lumiit na po ang aking kapasidad dahil patapos na ang termino ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, ako naman po ay patuloy na maninilbihan po sa inyo. Tutulungan ko po ang bagong administrasyon at sisiguraduhin na ipagpapatuloy ang serbisyong tatak Duterte (My countrymen, despite my reduced capacity due to the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term, I will continue to serve all of you. I will help the new administration and ensure that the services initiated by President Duterte will continue)," Go reaffirmed.

Go's team handed out masks and snacks to 234 residents, and provided shoes, bicycles and phablets to select recipients. Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development extended financial assistance under its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.

The Department of Trade and Industry and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, in turn, gave potential individuals livelihood support and scholarship grants through their respective assistance programs.

Continuing his message, Go reassured that the government continues to roll out vaccines, particularly in far-flung communities as he appealed to the public to trust and support the national vaccination drive and urged those eligible to get inoculated and boosted immediately, citing that it would not only protect them from Covid-19 but would also help the country attain population protection leading to herd immunity.

In addition to the assistance given, Go offered to help those in need of medical care.

The senator encouraged the beneficiaries to visit Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital in Dumaguete City and avail the services of its Malasakit Center, saying, "Mayroon na tayong 151 na Malasakit Center sa buong Pilipinas (We have already 151 Malasakit Centers nationwide)."

Ending his message, Go gave recognition to all of the local officials for efficiently leading and serving their constituents. He further appealed to them to remain steadfast in providing necessary support for the most vulnerable until their community fully recovers from the global health crisis.

As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go supported various projects in the province that aim to improve the delivery of public service. Among the projects are the acquisition of ambulance units for local hospitals in Dumaguete City, Siaton, Mabinay, Bayawan City and Guihulngan City, and road rehabilitation in Amlan, Ayungon, Bais City, Bayawan City, Bindoy, Santa Catalina and Tanjay City.

He also supported the construction of various infrastructure projects, including the Super Health Center in Guihulngan City; and multipurpose buildings in Guihulngan City, Vallehermoso and Pamplona.

- Moises Cruz
Govt gives cash aid to poor families

THE government began distributing cash subsidy for the poor on Wednesday, June 29, under the Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) Program.

The first tranche, amounting to P1,000, or two months' worth of subsidies, was distributed to around 1.2 million household recipients who already had cash cards.

The TCT initiative, which was introduced earlier this year by President Rodrigo Duterte, attempts to lessen the effects of the increased price of fuel and other commodities. The bottom 50 percent of Filipino families across the nation are the program's intended beneficiaries.

The JMC outlines the standards for carrying out the TCT program. It was jointly signed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and National Economic and Development Authority.

According to the guidelines, "an estimated 12.4 million household beneficiaries are receiving cash grants of P3,000, or P500 per month for six months, from the Duterte government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development."

The beneficiaries are made up of 2.4 million households in the Listahanan database that are in the first to fifth income decile, 4 million households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), 6 million non-4Ps households, and individuals who were previously recipients of the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program from 2018 to 2020 under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, as stated by the department.

The Land Bank of the Philippines, which is disbursing the cash subsidy via its cash cards and through other banks, electronic money issuers, or remittance centers, receives the list of beneficiaries from the DSWD.

- Associated Press
South Korea okays first homemade Covid vaccine

GOOD NEWS South Korean Food and Drug Safety Minister Oh Yu-Kyoung speaks during a briefing at her ministry in Cheongju, South Korea, on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. YONHAP PHOTO VIA AP

SEOUL: Health officials in South Korea approved on Wednesday the East Asian country's first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine for people who are 18 and older, adding another public health tool in its fight against a prolonged pandemic.

In clinical trials involving some 4,000 participants in South Korea and five other countries, SK Bioscience's two-dose SKYCovione vaccine appeared to be more effective than the broadly used AstraZeneca shots in building immunity against infections, officials at South Korea's Food and Drug Safety Ministry said.

It isn't immediately clear how officials would administer the new vaccine or how big of a role the shots would have in the next phase of the pandemic. The shots were designed for the original version of the coronavirus, not the more transmissible Omicron variant that wreaked havoc in the country earlier this year.

United States vaccine giants Pfizer and Moderna have been speeding up their development of booster shots targeting Omicron, and experts say it's possible the virus could evolve again in the coming months.

South Korea's mass immunization campaign has been mainly dependent on the two pharmaceutical titans' mRNA shots. But officials say protein vaccines like SKYCovione, which are similar to shots used for years against the common flu and hepatitis B, could appeal to people who are hesitant to use vaccines developed with newer technologies.

"The approval (of SKYCovione) internationally confirms the abilities of our companies to develop Covid-19 vaccines," Food and Drug Safety Minister Oh Yu-kyoung told a briefing. She said SK Bioscience was seeking World Health Organization approval for its shots, which would potentially open export opportunities.

South Korea has eased most of its coronavirus restrictions after battling an Omicron surge earlier this year, but some experts say the country may see another rise in infections despite a high vaccination rate because of waning immunities and the possible emergence of new variants.

The country reported 10,463 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, its first daily increase of over 10,000 in 20 days. Health Ministry official Son Youngrae said during a separate briefing it's too early to tell whether the country was facing another surge after a months-long downward trend.

- Richy Nalagon

A WOMAN was found dead inside an inn in Davao City on Sunday evening. Police investigators said she was strangled to death by her boyfriend who surrendered to authority.

The victim was identified as Joan Balabagan Lintang, 30, a resident of Barangay Malongon, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.

The suspect was identified as Melarry Betil Gumanan, 35, jobless, a resident of Purok Marang, Barangay Tacul, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.

The police said the couple checked in at 12:50 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, at the D'Morvie Suits in Barangay 35-D in Davao City.

At around 11:35 p.m. of the same day, the San Pedro Police Station in Davao City received a cellphone call from the Magsaysay Municipal Police Station in Davao del Sur informing that Gumanan voluntary submitted himself for custody and admitted to killing his fiancee.

Further investigation revealed that the victim and the suspect had a heated argument after their planned wedding was called off, which led to Gumanan strangling Lintang.

- Jomar Canlas
High court stops Guanzon

(UPDATE) THE Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) decision approving the substitution of the original nominees of P3PWD party-list by former Comelec commissioner Rowena Amelia Guanzon.

In a four-page resolution dated June 29, 2002 and promulgated by Clerk of Court Marife Lomibao-Cuevas, the Supreme Court en banc required the respondents, Comelec, House of Representatives and Guanzon to comment on the petition filed by Duterte Youth party-list Rep. Ducielle Marie Cardema and National Youth Commission Chairman Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema within 10 days from notice.

"Whereas, considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and arguments adduced in the petition, without necessarily giving due course to the petition, it is necessary and proper to [issue a TRO]," the court said.

The Supreme Court declared that the halt order is "effective immediately and continuing until further orders from the high court."

"The Comelec shall likewise furnish the court with a duplicate original and certified true copy of its assailed resolution within five days from notice hereof," the resolution read.

In their petition, the Cardema couple alleged that Guanzon misrepresented herself as the nominee of the P3PWD during the campaign period, adding that the high court must stop Guanzon's substitution as P3PWD party-list representative.

Cardema cited a Comelec rule stating: "Any Comelec approval of substitution is not valid unless the list of new nominees is published in two newspapers of general circulation."

The P3PWD party-list earlier argued that they submitted their proof of publication last June 17, 2022 as they supposedly published on June 15 (Wednesday) and June 17 (Friday). June 27 is the last day in the prescribed period of filing a petition against Guanzon's substitution in the Comelec.

Cardema maintained that the publication requirement was not complied with.

"Their June 15 (Wed) publication was printed ahead of the June 15 Comelec En Banc Resolution to approve substitution. If their list was published/appeared in the newspaper on June 15, clearly it was paid/printed in the newspaper on the night of June 14 and is therefore not compliant with [a future order] of the Comelec later on the daytime of June 15," he said.

"Second, in her Certificate of Acceptance of Nomination, Rowena Guanzon stated Under Oath that 'I am eligible, I possess all the legal qualifications, and none of the disqualifications provided by law.' This is clearly material misrepresentation and lying under oath," Cardema added.

He said that Guanzon, who was substituted in a partyl-ist regulated and approved by her collegial body just four months and two weeks after retirement, where she will now gain financial or material interest, "is clearly a violation of these two legal hallmarks against graft, corruption, and abuse of public office."

Guanzon has filed libel and unjust vexation charges against Cardema before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.

- Agence France-Presse
Putin: Russia will work to 'normalize' Afghanistan

POSING FOR POSTERITY Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon shake hands during their meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. SPUTNIK PHOTO VIA AFP

MOSCOW: Russia is actively working to "normalize" the situation in Afghanistan, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday during a visit to neighboring Tajikistan, evoking Moscow's responsibilities in the area.

"We are doing everything to normalize the situation [in Afghanistan] and we are trying to build relations with the political forces that control the situation," Putin said during talks with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, referring to the Taliban.

But their starting point was that Afghanistan's ethnic groups should take a full part in running the country, he added, in comments broadcast by Russian media.

"Here, you know best...what needs to be done to ensure that the situation in the region — in this zone, where we have a common responsibility — is stable and threatens no one," he told Rahmon.

This is Putin's first trip abroad since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Russia has a major military base in Tajikistan, one of its allies in the region.

Tajikistan has a 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) long border with Afghanistan, and Tajik forces regularly clash with Afghan drug smugglers.

The Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan last August has led some observers to fear that Tajikistan, the poorest of the former Soviet Union states, could be destabilized.

The country remains economically very dependent on Russia.

- Al Jacinto

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Police are investigating the murder of a 37-year-old Muslim man whose headless body was found on an island off the southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga.

Police said villagers reported the body on Tuesday after it was discovered due to the foul stench from decomposition in the village of Landang Gua on Sacol Island, just several minutes by boat from Zamboanga City.

The head was also recovered near the cadaver, said Maj. Shellamie Chang, a regional police spokesman, who identified the victim as Ibnohasim Turabi Hamid, a native of the island.

Chang said Hamid's family reported him missing last week.

"Investigation revealed that the beheaded body was found in the grassy area and was later identified as Ibnohasim Turabi Hamid," she said. "The victim also sustained several hack wounds in different parts of his body and was already in the state of decomposition. He was believed to have died four days ago."

She said Hamid's family retrieved his body and immediately buried him in accordance with Muslim custom.

"The personnel of Zamboanga City Police Station 4 is conducting a follow-up investigation to identify the suspects and determine the motive of the killing," Chang said.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder, and Hamid's family did not give any statement into the killing or its motive.

- Christian Crow Maghanoy

PASAY City Mayor Imelda Gallardo Calixto-Rubiano has declared June 30 a special non-working holiday.

Calixto-Rubiano issued the order following the appeal of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to local government units adjacent to Manila, to declare a holiday to allow their residents to witness the inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. at the National Museum.

"This is in response to the PNP's call and for the safety of our countrymen due to the closure of some major roads in connection with the oath-taking of President Bongbong Marcos Jr.," Rubiano said in Filipino in a social media post.

Manila has previously declared June 30 a special non-working holiday.

A special non-working holiday is not a paid holiday. Workers who reported for work will be paid an additional 30 percent of their regular rate.

- Agence France-Presse
Tailor's murder puts restrictions on India city

WARY WATCH Policemen walk through a street in the city of Ajmer in India on Tuesday, June 29, 2022, following the killing of a Hindu tailor by two Muslim men in the city of Udaipur. AFP PHOTO

JAIPUR, India: Hundreds of police were deployed and mobile internet was cut in an Indian city on Wednesday following the murder of a Hindu tailor by two Muslim men.

The western city of Udaipur was placed under partial curfew to guard against potential sectarian violence after a video showing the killing of that tailor, Kanhaiya Lal, went viral.

Mobile internet access was also cut in other parts of Rajasthan state, and local authorities issued a month-long order banning four or more people from gathering anywhere in the state.

The victim's funeral was to be held later in the day.

Lal reportedly shared a social media post supporting recent comments about the Prophet Muhammad by a spokesman for India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The remarks by that spokesman, Nupur Sharma, about Islam's founder during a television debate in late May sparked protests that turned violent in some parts of India and demonstrations across the Islamic world.

In the video showing the murder, the two men can be seen brandishing large knives and threatening to kill Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharma.

"Both the accused in the killing have been arrested and we will ensure strict punishment and speedy justice," Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said.

He appealed to people to not share the video, as it would "serve the attackers' motive of creating discord in society."

BJP sacked Sharma after her comments, which saw the governments of nearly 20 countries summoning their Indian envoys for an explanation.

The row followed anger across the Muslim world in 2020 after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to publish caricatures of the Prophet.

Images of the Prophet are strictly forbidden in Sunni Islam. French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in October 2020 by a Chechen refugee after showing the cartoons to his class in a lesson on free speech.

- Gaby B. Keith

BAGUIO CITY: When in Baguio, do as the Baguioans do: wear your face masks.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong appealed to visitors and tourists — whether coming from the neighboring municipalities or from the lowland areas — to abide by the Summer Capital's face mask requirement.

"We still strictly implement face mask wearing in the city, and our residents know this so that our level of compliance with this requirement remains high. We expect nothing less from our visitors," Magalong said.

Magalong also asked other local government units to remind their constituents to comply with the face mask rule and other health protocols in Baguio and other destinations they will visit.

He said he has been receiving reports of visitors from other towns, provinces and cities who disregard the face mask protocol while at the city market, grocery stores and accommodation establishments in the city.

"Please follow our rules as a show of respect to us residents who only want to be protected from the lingering health problem. Let's remember Covid-19 is still here," the mayor said.

The mayor said he has issued a directive to the Baguio City Police Office, the Public Order and Safety Division and the City Health Services Office to be strict in the implementation of the face mask policy especially that Covid-19 cases have started to increase again.

"Let us continue to observe the minimum public health protocols for our own safety. This is important as we continue to embrace the new normal way of living," he said.

- Kaithreen Cruz
Most Filipinos expect BBM to perform well

A MAJORITY of Filipinos expect President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to perform well or very well in his first 100 days in office, the Pahayag Second Quarter survey of PUBLiCUS showed.

It said that 44 percent expect him to perform "very well," and 24 percent said that they expect him to perform "well."

"Our survey suggests that roughly two out of three Filipinos expect President Bongbong Marcos to perform well during the first 100 days of his presidency. President Marcos Jr. will have to hit the ground running from Day 1 to live up to these high expectations," PUBLiCUS Executive Director Aureli Sinsuat said.

Meanwhile, 9 percent of the respondents expect Marcos to perform "very poorly," 5 percent expect him to perform "poorly," 11 percent said they expect him to perform "neither poorly nor well," and 7 percent said they were unsure.

In the survey held from June 16 to 22, 2022 among 1,500 registered Filipino voters randomly sampled by US-based panel marketplace PureSpectrum, respondents were also asked to select the three most important issues they believe the incoming administration should focus on. These are the economy (73 percent), job generation (53 percent) and education reform (32 percent).

Sinsuat said that although these could not be completely addressed over the course of 100 days, the public expects these issues to be prioritized by the incoming president and his team during their first few months in office.

He also noted that the continuation of landmark programs of the outgoing administration of President Rodrigo Duterte earned the majority support from respondents.

These were the Build, Build, Build (79 percent), war on illegal drugs (73 percent), independent foreign policy (68 percent), BARMM transition (64 percent), and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) (56 percent).

Sinsuat said that Duterte's popularity could have made a significant effect on respondents' support for the continuation of his administration's programs.

"While the level of policy continuity between the outgoing and incoming administrations remains to be seen, it is reasonable to believe that public opinion on the Marcos Jr. administration will be influenced, at least in part, by its ability to continue and improve upon at least some of the Duterte administration's more popular flagship programs," Sinsuat said.

Results of the survey have a ±3 percent margin of error.

- Agence France-Presse
HK's blurring border shows things to come

SHENZHEN WITHIN SIGHT This June 23, 2022 photo taken in Hong Kong shows pro-democracy politician Jasper Law at the Lok Ma Chau lookout, with the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen in the distance. AFP PHOTO

LOK MA CHAU, China: From the hill in northernmost Hong Kong where Jasper Law stood, the border with China was obvious: a narrow river dividing farmlands and fishponds from the gleaming skyscrapers of megacity Shenzhen.

Friday is the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's transition from British to Chinese rule.

While the view from the hilltops of Lok Ma Chau suggests that Hong Kong remains clearly distinct from the mainland, the territory is fast being subsumed into Beijing's blueprint for southern China.

And as the border is chipped away, the lack of public consultation has done little to ease the lingering discomfort some Hong Kongers feel about living on the mainland's doorstep.

"In the 25 years since the handover, the border has become more and more blurry," said Law, a pro-democracy politician from the border area.

The softening boundary has preoccupied many Hong Kongers. It was one of the catalysts for the huge democracy protests in the regional finance hub three years ago, a movement initially triggered by an attempt to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Beijing's subsequent crackdown has only sped up Hong Kong's absorption.

The integration of Hong Kong's population and economy with the mainland has been underway for decades.

Between 1997 and 2021, more than 1.1 million people migrated from China via a limited-quota "one-way permit" scheme, almost a seventh of Hong Kong's current population.

Mandarin was increasingly pushed in schools, sparking resentment among those who felt the city's distinct Cantonese culture was being eroded.

Hong Kong's borders were also tweaked, most notably in the 2010s with an expansion of China's high-speed rail in the city.

Part of the terminus in Hong Kong came under Chinese jurisdiction, meaning the mainland's Communist Party-controlled legal system applied there.

Beijing's imposition of a sweeping national security law to curb dissent following the 2019 protests has further eroded the legal firewall between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Under the law, which was imposed by Beijing directly, rather than passing through the legislature, the mainland's security agents can now operate freely in Hong Kong, immune from the city's laws.

Beijing says it can now also try the most serious national security offenses on the mainland.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further whittled away at the boundaries. While the border has been mostly closed under China's strict zero-Covid policy, mainland medics were granted exemptions to work in Hong Kong's hospitals.

Construction teams were also sent across the border to build emergency health facilities, even constructing a new bridge with Shenzhen to ease their travel.

Hong Kong's government now plans to transform the border area with a two-decade plan that will place integration with Shenzhen at the heart of economic development in the city's northernmost areas, shifting focus away from Hong Kong's glitzy Victoria Harbor.

Dubbed the "Northern Metropolis," the HK$100-billion ($12.7-billion) project envisages building a new megacity next to Shenzhen — a new node in Beijing's "Greater Bay Area" ambitions to create a Chinese Silicon Valley is connecting Hong Kong and multiple cities in the neighboring Guangdong province.

The government says the new metropolis will create 650,000 new jobs, as well as much-needed new homes in one of the world's least affordable cities.

Veteran urban planner Kenneth To said he thought the government's vision was far from coherent and bemoaned the small circle of vested interests that dominated discussion on development in Hong Kong.

"The power imbalance is worrying," he told AFP.

But Jack Lam, a mobile phone accessories seller who lives in a district near the border, was more upbeat.

"When the population increases, you can expect more development to come, there will be more people starting businesses for sure," the 35-year-old said.

- Franz R. Sumangil
North Cotabato on high alert vs dengue

HEALTH authorities in North Cotabato have been alarmed and are on heightened alert with the continuous rise of dengue cases in the province.

According to Dr. Eva Rabaya, Integrated Provincial Health Office chief, the province has recorded 1,136 dengue cases from January to June this year.

That's an increase of 390 percent compared to the same period last year.

Rabaya said that North Cotabato's lone city and 17 municipalities have listed only 229 cases for the same period in 2021.

She added that eight dengue patients have died this year, coming from Kidapawan City, and the towns of President Roxas, M'lang, Alamada and Magpet.

"In 2021, only one patient had died," she said.

Amid the rising cases, Rabaya appealed to all North Cotabateños to clean their surroundings and practice the "4S" strategy: Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites; apply Self-protection measures like wearing of long dress and pajamas; Seek early consultation with medical experts when symptoms appear; and Support fogging operations when an outbreak occurs.

- Kaithreen Cruz
Tesda, AFP, Comelec get highest approval, trust ratings – survey

THE Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Commission on Elections (Comelec) got the highest approval rating among government agencies at 72, 69 and 66 percent, respectively, the PUBLiCUS Pahayag Second Quarter survey showed.

These agencies also received the highest trust rating — AFP at 63 percent, Tesda at 60 percent and Comelec at 58 percent.

Other agencies that received an approval rating of 60 percent and above were the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Department of Tourism at 62 percent each, and the Commission on Higher Education at 61 percent.

They were followed by the Department of Foreign Affairs with 57 percent; the Senate with 56 percent; Department of Labor and Employment, 56 percent; Department of Trade and Industry, 56 percent; Department of Transportation, 56 percent; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 55 percent; Philippine National Police, 54 percent; House of Representatives, 53 percent; Department of Education (DepEd), 53 percent; Department of the Interior and Local Government, 53 percent; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), 53 percent; Supreme Court, 52 percent; National Economic and Development Authority, 52 percent; Department of Agriculture, 51 percent; Department of Finance, 50 percent; and Department of Health (DoH), 50 percent.

The agencies that got the highest disapproval rating were DoH at 24 percent, DepEd at 19 percent and BSP at 18 percent.

"All other agencies generally fared reasonably well, with the lowest-rated agencies still managing to receive total approval ratings that outstripped their total disapproval ratings," PUBLiCUS noted.

"All government agencies tested on our survey appear to be at least moderately trustworthy in the eyes of respondents, [as] no agency registered a total low trust rating that was higher than their total high trust rating," the pollster's executive director, Atty. Aureli Sinsuat, said in a message to The Manila Times.

PUBLiCUS conducted the survey from June 16 to 22, 2022 among 1,500 registered Filipino voters randomly sampled by US-based panel marketplace PureSpectrum.

Results of the survey have a ±3 percent margin of error.

- Agence France-Presse
Indian reptile smugglers nabbed at Thai airport

RESCUED ME This handout photo taken on June 27, 2022 and released by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNPWPC) on Tuesday, June 28, shows an armadillo rescued after being found in a passenger’s luggage at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. DNPWPC PHOTO VIA AFP

BANGKOK: Two Indian women have been arrested at a Thai airport after attempting to smuggle more than 100 live animals, including armadillos, porcupines and snakes, wildlife protection officers said on Tuesday.

Thailand is a major transit hub for wildlife smugglers, with the animals often bound for Vietnam or China, where they are used in traditional medicines.

The creatures were discovered when Nithya Raja, 38, and Zakia Sulthana, 24, passed through X-ray machines at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Sunday night en route to the Indian city of Chennai, officials said.

"This kind of case has happened many times because the animals have expensive price tags in India," Sathon Konggoen, chief of the airport's wildlife inspection office, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He estimated that the animals, believed to have been bred in Thailand, would be worth about 200,000 baht ($5,600).

"Animal trafficking is usually detected at the Thai-Myanmar borders and domestic airports to a certain extent," he added.

Officers discovered two armadillos, two porcupines, 20 snakes, 35 turtles and 50 chameleons stuffed into a pair of bags belonging to the women.

Two dead iguanas were also found, while all of the reptiles were suffering from dehydration, according to a Facebook post from the Southeast Asian country's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The creatures are being treated and will be moved to an animal center or breeding facility, the department said.

The two women have been charged with violations of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection, Animal Epidemics and Customs acts. They are being detained at a police station at the airport.

- Leander C. Domingo
NVizcaya mine workers fear losing jobs soon

QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya: More than 1,500 workers mostly from different tribal groups working for the Runruno mining operations staged a peaceful rally on June 28 to express their fear that they might lose their jobs as the company is on the verge of closing down operations because of some resistance from Indigenous people (IP) and other land settlers within the mining area.

Joey Dulnuan, Runruno Friends of Highland Group Union president, said FCF Minerals Corp. has about 90 percent of its workforce belonging to the IP sector and has expressed intention to shut down its operations which, in turn, could also displace its workers, including those contractors and subcontractors.

Dulnuan noted that the company could not work on the stage three access area of Runruno because of the land dispute that has yet to be settled recently.

He said mining operations in stages one and two, according to the mining department, have been completed except for a small part of stage two where stage three is strategic access to complete the company's operation in stage two.

In a letter dated June 27, the union brought to the attention of Mayor Dolores Binwag their concern for fear of a possible closure of FCF's operation because the company has exhausted all its remedies to proceed in its mining area, particularly stage three being occupied by the claimant IP family.

"We would like to bring to your attention our concern that we are terrified of the possible effect [if] the FCF mining company [closes]. The local workers are worried [of] what will happen [to us] if the company will close since stage one and stage two [are] mined out already," Dulnuan said.

He said this is the reason why they are conducting the "peaceful demonstration" on June 28 to show their support for the continued operation of FCF Minerals for the development of their community as well as the provision of employment.

"Some 5,000 individuals, mostly belonging to the Indigenous peoples' group, composed of workers and their families including contractors and subcontractors, will lose jobs and livelihood, children deprived of education and will stop community development if the company closes as an option," Dulnuan said.

According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), FCF Minerals Corp. is a holder of a 25-year financial or technical assistance agreement (FTAA) issued in 2009, giving it the exclusive right over the mine contract area consisting of more than 3,000 hectares located in Runruno village.

Meanwhile, James Carmichael, FCF Minerals country manager, affirmed that they have been delayed for more than two years now and couldn't proceed with their operation because of the resistance at stage three of the mining area.

In a statement, FCF noted that despite compliance with all the requirements by the company allowing it to enter the lands within the contract area under its FTAA, the settlers still refuse to vacate, leaving the company no option but to halt its operation if remedies have been exhausted and that nothing more can be done.

Engineer Mario Ancheta, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) director, said FCF has been in the commercial operation period of its FTAA and needed to use stage three within the contract area for its continued mining operations.

As early as 2015, the FCF Minerals commenced negotiations with the settlers for compensation, but the company claims the settlers are demanding "exorbitant fees."

Because of the failure of the negotiations, FCF Minerals in the same year requested MGB Region 2 to allow its entry into the mining contract area where stage three is located to conduct its mining operations.

On Jan. 8, 2019, FCF Minerals applied for the bond to enter the said area, which is a public land, by posting the amount of P500,000 which the MGB Region 2 approved.

Ancheta explained that the approval of the bond allows FCF Mineral's entry to operate within the subject public land, particularly at stage three, which is occupied by the settlers.

The land valuation and assessment made by the Mine Management Division dated Aug. 3, 2015 on the settlers' property placed it at P320,010 which makes the bond of P500,000 more than enough to cover the possible damage to the pieces of property and compensation for the settlers, according to the MGB.

The union said despite FCF Minerals' compliance with all the requirements of the government-led MGB, the settlers still refuse to vacate the contested mining area.

"This is what we, Indigenous Peoples, who work at FCF fear. If the company stops, we will lose our jobs and we don't want our village to turn into a ghost town, slowing down economic development," Dulnuan said.

- Global Times
HK still faces threats, to push Article 23 legislation for national security

Editor's Note: On the day marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland, some officials of the sixth-term Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will be sworn in. Recently, China's State Council approved the list of key officials proposed by the sixth-term chief executive of the HKSAR government, and veteran official Chris Tang Ping-keung will continue serving as Secretary for Security. Global Times reporters Chen Qingqing and Fan Lingzhi recently interviewed Tang exclusively. With the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, the city has seen a transition from chaos to stability. However, Tang warned there are still risks that the city faces in national security, and that public awareness and youth education concerning national security should be further strengthened.

GT: What have been your work priorities since you became Secretary for Security and what are your future plans?

Tang: Over the past year, the Security Bureau, along with the Hong Kong Police Force and other Discipline Services, engaged in a series of law enforcement activities on individuals and organizations endangering national security, including arrests and prosecutions, activating existing legislation, and freezing the properties tied to crimes. We successfully cracked down on a number of criminal activities endangering national security and security of Hong Kong. Since the national security law for Hong Kong took effect, a total of 189 individuals have been arrested by the police for endangering national security, and among them 122 have been prosecuted. Also, five enterprises have been prosecuted.

The black-clad violence in 2019 fostered homegrown terrorism. The police have cracked over 20 cases involving firearms and explosives, and the HKSAR government has been expanding its capabilities to fight terrorism, advancing public education, and setting up the counter-terrorism report line in order to counter potential risks in communities and enhance residents' counter-terrorism awareness.

The national security law for Hong Kong helped the city's transition from chaos to stability. The number of criminal cases recorded in the first quarter of 2022 dropped 6.2 percent year-on-year, among which the cases related to violence dropped 10 percent, and robbery cases dropped 23.3 percent - both hitting a record low in recent years.

In the future, the Security Bureau and Discipline Services will continue safeguarding national security, actively pushing forward Article 23 legislation of the Basic Law and working on cybersecurity legislations in defining network security responsibilities of critical infrastructure operators.

GT: Do you think national security risks will persist after the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong and the electoral system reform?

Tang: With the development of China, some Western countries take China as a threat and even adopt a full-scale hostile attitude. Given the unique environment and lifestyle in Hong Kong under the "one country, two systems," some hostile external forces could easily infiltrate, attempting to divide and subvert the country. Those forces also cultivate and advocate for "Hong Kong independence," making the national security risks more apparent.

Due to the incompletion of Article 23 of the Basic Law, the HKSAR has seen growing national security risks over the past decades. In 2014 for example, there was the illegal "Occupy Central" movement and the Mong Kok thereafter in 2016. The "Hong Kong National Party" that advocated for "Hong Kong independence" also seriously compromised public order and national security. Until 2019, we saw large-scale riots that lasted for over 10 months reaching the limits of the rule of law and public order, which seriously endangered national security.

The implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong changed the chaotic situation since 2019 as the number of violent activities and those advocating for "Hong Kong independence" largely dropped. A number of organizations allegedly endangering national security were successively dissolved or ceased operation. Although the law shows a deterrence effect, those who attempted to endanger national security won't easily give up but will wait for opportunities.

Hong Kong still faces some national security risks including some forces endangering national security and the security of Hong Kong in a continued "soft confrontation" by spreading anti-central government and anti-HKSAR government information in advocating for "Hong Kong independence." In 2021, there was a lone-wolf style attack against the police and some intended to plant bombs in public places such as railway and courthouses, which all showed that local terrorists and external forces constantly interfered with and smeared the HKSAR's affairs by using the high degree of autonomy. Some figures fled overseas and continued engaging in activities endangering China's national security. For example, they ask for foreign sanctions on the city and the country.

GT: What will be the response toward these remaining national security threats?

Tang: The HKSAR government will continue taking a series of measures to deal with those risks, particularly in the following aspects. In terms of intelligence, we will enhance cooperation with the national counter-terrorism services in information collection and analysis, paying special attention to online information. In law enforcement, we will conduct in-depth investigations on individuals and organizations that allegedly endanger national security, particularly on their financial revenues, spending, and ties to foreign forces. We will conduct comprehensive coordination with all Discipline Services, bureaus, and departments in jointly safeguarding national security.

In legislation, we will complete Article 23 of the Basic Law and the cybersecurity law as steps to further improve legislation in safeguarding national security. In education, we have to increase public awareness, especially among the youth, about national security. The education on national security has to be rooted in local schools, and the Discipline Services will help foster the good quality of the Hong Kong youth in following the rule of law and recognizing their national identity.

The relevant policy bureaus and departments of the HKSAR government have also actively established other new laws, regulations, and mechanisms to better fulfill their responsibilities in publicity, guidance, supervision, and management in terms of safeguarding national security. The Registration of SIM Cards Regulation, for example, aims to ensure telecommunication network security. The Film Censorship (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 and the updated Film Censorship Guidelines for Censors came into effect, including national security as one of the considerations for film screening. Authorities also revised the tax guidelines applicable to charities. If any group supports, promotes, or engages in activities against national security, the tax bureau will no longer identify such activities as a charitable group and will revoke the exemption from tax payments granted under the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Also, activities endangering national security were included in the Social Workers Registration Ordinance; anyone who is convicted of any crime against national security cannot serve as a registered social worker.

GT: What is the current progress of the legislation of Article 23? With the national security law for Hong Kong, do we still need Article 23? You mentioned earlier that the legislation of Article 23 will refer to similar British laws. What's the purpose and what other laws will be included for reference?

Tang: The HKSAR government has been pushing Article 23 legislation and relevant work forward. Among the seven crimes prohibited by Article 23, two items - divide the country and subvert the power of state - have been covered by the national security law for Hong Kong, but other crimes are only partially covered by the Crime Ordinance, the Official Secrets Ordinance, and the Social Workers Registration Ordinance. So the legislation of the Article 23 is necessary.

We are studying past, present, and even future security risks facing the HKSAR for what has happened in the past, and also examining the experience of the national security law for Hong Kong and relevant court rulings and existing laws to develop effective and pragmatic programs and provisions to address potential risks.

In fact, most jurisdictions have their national security laws that share some similarities. They have broad enforcement powers to enforce their national security laws, for example, and are an international practice. Most countries have laws on espionage and many others have laws on foreign intervention. The UK National Security Bill has either reformed or introduced related crimes.

To improve our capabilities in safeguarding national security, we will refer to similar laws in other jurisdictions. Some countries with laws covering similar areas of crimes, including the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, and so on, are included in our reference list, with the aim of developing a plan best tailored to the actual situation in Hong Kong.

GT: What are the cooperation plans between the HKSAR government and relevant authorities in the mainland in safeguarding national security?

Tang: We will strengthen information and intelligence sharing and exchanges with different institutions in the country, and crack down on crimes endangering national security in an intelligence-based manner.

GT: In the past two years, some Hong Kong rioters who had fled overseas and some residents who immigrated abroad have been reported to be living poorly abroad. What do you want to say to them?

Tang: Some people even continue to act as foreign agents to discredit and violate the law on different matters. The HKSAR government will investigate their criminal responsibility in accordance with the law and ensure that those who break the law face legal consequences.

I hereby appeal to the people concerned not to continue the behavior of these traitors and cowards, but to "back off" from the cliff and discontinue their mistakes. Otherwise, they will be fugitives and law enforcement authorities will eventually hold them accountable.

As for the people of Hong Kong who immigrate abroad, I think it is a very personal choice whether to immigrate or not, but I believe that most people who love Hong Kong and the country will choose to stay in Hong Kong and contribute to the society.

- Dexter A. See

TABUK CITY, Kalinga: Farmers, livestock raisers and other agriculture industry stakeholders continue to play a vital role in the sustainable and continuous growth of the city over the past several decades achieving its identity as the rice granary of the Cordillera.

Mayor Darwin Estran͂ero lauded the unrelenting and uncompromising efforts of the various agriculture industry stakeholders in charting the city's growth and development, especially as one of the fastest-growing cities in the country with agriculture as its major economic driver considering its vast tracks of agricultural lands contributing in ensuring the rice self-sufficiently of the Cordillera.

He pointed out that since its creation as a municipality over 72 years ago, Tabuk has already been a major producer of rice and corn, which serve as the major source of income for the people where most of the available lands have been tapped for its potential in producing the country's staple food.

Tabuk has a land area of more than 700.25 square kilometers, making it the third-largest city in the country with Davao City and Ilagan City in nearby Isabela as the largest and second largest cities in the country.

Estran͂ero also commended the residents for their active participation in the various types of cooperatives in the city where 60 percent of the people living in the city's 43 villages are members of cooperatives, which speaks well of their desire to maximize the benefits of being cooperative members to help in improving their economic activities and sustain the living condition of their families.

For the city, the chief executive assured the various agriculture industry stakeholders of its unending support in any form to sustain the growth of the people's major source of livelihood to generate more jobs and expand economic activities that will allow the gradual and safe revival of the local economy that has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic for two years now.

Estran͂ero said the road to recovery from the pandemic will still encounter stiff challenges because of the emergence of various variants that may rollback whatever recovery gained so far. That is why people must continue to be resilient, inspired and motivated to continue to hurdle the obstacles that may be met along the road to full recovery.

The city chief executive rallied the people to hang on, work hard and strive for the best in their respective endeavors so that whatever threats in recovery from the pandemic may come their way and the unabated increase in oil prices in the world market will be hurdled and it would be much easier for everyone to still improve their lives.

The city government heavily invested and is heavily investing in the continuous improvement of road networks leading to the barangays to provide farmers with easier access for transporting their produce from their farms to the nearest markets at the least possible cost that will add up to their income from raising rice, corn and crops.

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Tom Verdin named democracy news editor
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New heads of video, US news are named
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Steven Sloan named deputy Washington bureau chief
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Ricardo Zuniga named global sports editor
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Aritz Parra named Southern Europe news director
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Chrissie Thompson to lead Education Reporting Network
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Modernizing the US news report
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UPDATED March 18, 2022: Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Julie Pace issued this statement about AP-accredited freelance journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro, who today appeared in court in Ethiopia and continues to be detained:
Noreen Gillespie named global business editor
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Using the word 'war' in Ukraine
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Two international news directors are named
Paul Haven, vice president and head of global news gathering, announced two key appointments on Monday: James Jordan will lead AP's coverage of Europe and Africa, and Cristiana Mesquita will head Cuba and the Caribbean.
Executive Editor Julie Pace on Thursday sent a letter to Ethiopian Ambassador Mehreteab Mulugeta requesting the release of AP-accredited freelancer Amir Aman Kiyaro, who has been detained in Addis Ababa since Nov. 28, 2021.
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AP announced today a major initiative that will transform the way the news agency covers climate and its impact on the world.
AP names 2 directors for newsroom talent
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Additions to AP's global investigative team
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AP video recognized for excellence in international coverage
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GOV. Fredenil ‘Oto’ Castro of Capiz delivers his inaugural address in a ceremony Thursday, June 30, at the provincial capitol in Roxas City. (Capiz Provincial Government Communications Group) ILOILO CITY — Capiz Gov. Fredenil “Oto” Castro was sworn in Thursday, June 30. Castro took his oath in front of the ...
- Carlo Anolin
Baser Amit hit a game-winning jumper with 1.7 seconds left to lift Blackwater past Meralco, 90-89, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, June 30. Baser Amer of Blackwater (PBA) Amer made up for his dismal 3-of-11 shooting clip and capped his six-point performance with a ...
- Ellson Quismorio
Talk about a vote of confidence. Vice President Sara Duterte (left) and Susan Ople (MANILA BULLETIN, Wikipedia) President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. gave special mention to two of his appointed Cabinet members during his inaugural speech Thursday, June 30 at the National Museum in Ermita, Manila. These two were Vice ...
- Manila Bulletin Entertainment
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- Stephanie Bernardino
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- Stephanie Bernardino
Celebrities Arci Muñoz and Geneva Cruz participated in the medical mission of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) recently. Arci said the event with her family was a “success.” “My team in today’s @philippine_air_force medical and dental mission. To ensure and provide expeditionary medics and improve the health of all we ...
- Faith Argosino
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The Filipino business community has high hopes following the inauguration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., describing his inaugural address as “very uplifting, (with) positive tone” and for his commitment on accountability. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), which represents as the “Voice of Philippine Business”, cited how the ...
- Seth Cabanban
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- Jonathan Hicap
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Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the incoming Senate President in the 19th Congress, said today’s inauguration of former Senator Ferdinand ‘’Bongbong’’ R. Marcos Jr. as the country’s 17th President marks a rebirth in the new chapter of Philippine history. ‘’Where we once again witnessed the rebirth of the Golden age of ...
- Franck Dick Rosete
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- Manila Bulletin Entertainment
Episode 3 of Puregold Channel’s “Ang Babae Sa Likod ng Face Mask” rouses the show’s rabid romcom fans into feeling extraordinarily kilig, making them ask for more. It shows Malta getting thrilled over Sieg’s friend request, which she excitedly accepts after her mom Madam Baby nudges her to do it. However, their ...
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NegOr officials back Teves term

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The post NegOr officials back Teves term appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Jenniffer B. Austria

Share price of Balai ni Fruitas fell 7.1 percent in its debut at the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday as the market index sank147.76 points or 2.3 percent. Balai’s share price opened at P0.68 and climbed to as high as P0.80 before closing at P0.65 apiece. PSE president and chief executive Ramon Monzon welcomed the […]

The post Balai ni Fruitas fell on market debut appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Julito G. Rada

Bank loans grew 10.7 percent in May, faster than the 10.1-percent rise in April, on higher demand for credit amid the continuous economic recovery from the global health crisis, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show. Outstanding loans of universal and commercial banks, net of reverse repurchase placements with the BSP, also rose 1 […]

The post Bank loans grew by 10.7% in May appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Alena Mae S. Flores

Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said Thursday it completed 500-megawatt-hours of battery energy storage system facilities to address the need for grid frequency fluctuation, voltage stability and power reserves. “We now have an installed storage capacity of 500 MWh that are ready for deployment any time. We hope to complete even more facilities, and bring our […]

The post SMC installs 500-MW battery storage systems appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Kate Adajar
Tablescaping as a personal escape

An art therapy where the dining table is your canvass “Work with what you have,” lifestyle personality, book author, and Tatler Homes editor-in-chief Stephanie Zubiri began her list of tips and tricks with this practical advice at an exclusive event organized for the homeowners of Portofino, Brittany Corporation’s luxury residential development in Alabang. In the […]

The post Tablescaping as a personal escape appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Manila Standard
Inspiring Filipino consumers to take action on climate change 

In 2021, A.S. Watson reiterated its commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its business and announced new targets to accelerate its contribution to the fight against climate change.  For its first face-to-face sustainability event dubbed “Do Good for the Planet,” Watsons Philippines invited guests who talked about how reducing your carbon footprint is a […]

The post Inspiring Filipino consumers to take action on climate change  appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Manila Standard
Lego celebrates 90th year with Toy Kingdom at SM Megamall 

Explore the world of playful learning and building fun as Lego celebrates its 90th anniversary this year with great finds for kids and kids at heart at Toy Kingdom.  Highlighting the celebration is an exhibit at SM Megamall’s Event Center, where kids can have fun building with blocks and bricks, having their photos taken with […]

The post Lego celebrates 90th year with Toy Kingdom at SM Megamall  appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Manila Standard
Crocs sparks new viral trend in VisMin region through Jibbitz charms

Crocs opened its doors in a bigger and better spot in SM Iloilo last June 10, Friday. Now located on the Upper Ground Floor in the Main Hall, the brand now offers over 60 footwear and 120 Jibbitz™ styles to choose from.  Customers can personalize their Crocs to suit their unique style and personality through the […]

The post Crocs sparks new viral trend in VisMin region through Jibbitz charms appeared first on Manila Standard.

- AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong had been “reborn of fire” as he arrived Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover, in his first visit since the business hub’s democracy movement was crushed. Xi’s trip is a chance for the Chinese Communist Party to showcase its control after huge protests engulfed […]

The post Xi says Hong Kong ‘reborn of fire’ appeared first on Manila Standard.

- AFP

Pro-government television presenters and state newspapers in Egypt are at the forefront of a “campaign against journalism,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) charged Thursday. The media watchdog, in a report entitled “The Puppets of President” Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said Egyptian journalists were operating in an “unsustainable working environment,” faced with “campaigns of hatred, denigration and defamation.” […]

The post RSF: Egypt govt behind ‘campaign vs. journalism’ appeared first on Manila Standard.

- Abante News
Gilas nanliit sa Tall Blacks

HINDI nasagip nina coach Nenad Vucinic at Carl Tamayo ang Gilas Pilipinas matapos malasap ang 60-106 pagkatalo sa New Zealand Tall Blacks sa away game sa ikatlong window ng FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers sa EventFinda Stadium sa Auckland, New Zealand kahapon.

The post Gilas nanliit sa Tall Blacks first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
BOC nabisto pagpuslit ng P6M puting sibuyas

Umaabot sa P6 milyon halaga ng mga misdeclared fresh white onions ang nakumpiska ng mga tauhan ng Bureau of Customs (BOC) at napigilang makapasok sa bansa, bilang bahagi ng kanilang anti-smuggling efforts.

The post BOC nabisto pagpuslit ng P6M puting sibuyas first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
Kape honesty store sa Makati pumapatok

Isa ka rin ba sa mga ‘coffee is life’ o mahilig na magkape? E paano kaya kung walang mag-serve sa’yo nito dahil ikaw mismo ang kukuha nito sa lagayan at magsusukli rin sa sarili mo?

The post Kape honesty store sa Makati pumapatok first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
Pinalawak na Solo Parent Act alay sa milyon-milyong magulang – Probinsyano

Ikinatuwa ng Ang Probinsiyano party-list ang pasasabatas ng Republic Act No. 11861 o Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act na aniya’y malaking tagumpay ng halos 11 milyong solo parent sa buong bansa.

The post Pinalawak na Solo Parent Act alay sa milyon-milyong magulang – Probinsyano first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
‘Libreng sakay’ sa MRT tapos na

Tapos na ang maliligayang araw na libre ang pagsakay sa Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) na ikinasa ng halos tatlong buwang nakatulong sa mga pasahero mula March 28 hanggang June 30 ng “libreng sakay program” na handog ng administrasyong Duterte at Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The post ‘Libreng sakay’ sa MRT tapos na first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
Hulyo 9 dineklarang Eid’l Adha

Pormal nang idineklara ang Eid’l Adha sa July 9, ayon sa Islamic advisory council in the Bangsamoro Region o ang Bangsamoro Darul-Ifta.

The post Hulyo 9 dineklarang Eid’l Adha first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
Presyo ng mga bilihin sumipa nitong Hunyo

Sumirit ang inflation o ang bilis ng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, nitong Hunyo at tinataya ni Finance Secretary at former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno na tatama sa 5.7% hanggang 6.5%.

The post Presyo ng mga bilihin sumipa nitong Hunyo first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
3 pa bakante! Bongbong pinanumpa mga gabinete

Opisyal ng nanumpa kay Pangulong Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. ang kanyang mga piniling miyembro ng gabinete matapos ang kanyang aktibidad sa National Museum.

The post 3 pa bakante! Bongbong pinanumpa mga gabinete first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
Marcos itatama COVID diskarte

Aminado si Pangulong Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. sa mga pagkukulang ng administrasyong Duterte sa paglaban sa COVID-19 pandemic.

The post Marcos itatama COVID diskarte first appeared on Abante.
- Abante News
Digong rumampa sa mall paglayas ng Malacañang

Nag-shopping muna si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte bago umuwi sa Davao City.

The post Digong rumampa sa mall paglayas ng Malacañang first appeared on Abante.

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- Bianca Cuaresma
CREDIT growth in the country continued to accelerate in May this year, rising further into the double-digit growth…
- Andrea E. San Juan
THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) urges President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to sustain Anti-Red Tape…
- Jasper Y. Arcalas
The Philippines is seeing rising cases of inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) in poultry, worsening the production woes of…
- Jovee Marie de la Cruz
Lawmakers said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., will play a pivotal role in boosting Philippine agriculture. Marcos,…
- Rene Acosta
The Philippine National Police reported no untoward incident during the inauguration on Thursday of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R.…
- VG Cabuag
Century Pacific Food Inc., the food manufacturer led by the Po family, said it is allotting some P2…
- Lenie Lectura
THE National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said Thursday it has completed key components of the Mindanao-Visayas…
- VG Cabuag
Shares of food and beverage kiosk operator Balai ni Fruitas Inc. failed to fly on its first day…
- VG Cabuag
DoubleDragon Corp. on Thursday said its international units executed a deal and paid the required deposit for the…
- Lorenz S. Marasigan
Users in the Philippines had a better experience when using 5G than WiFi, with Opensignal noting that this…
- Lenie Lectura
The power business of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is now ready to deploy 500megawatt hour (MWh) of battery…
- Bernadette D. Nicolas
FINANCE Secretary-designate Benjamin E. Diokno vowed the government will be “opportunistic” on foreign borrowings as the peso hit…
- Bernadette D. Nicolas
A Singaporean insurance firm affiliated with Shopee Pte. Ltd. has entered the Philippine insurance market after it acquired…
- Rizal Raoul Reyes
THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) has tapped MYEG Philippines Inc. and PayMaya Philippines Inc. so registered firms…
- Octavio Peralta
“THE way a board agenda is structured will dynamically affect the quality of board focus and its ability…
- Rizal Raoul Reyes
EXECUTIVES of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) announced that the Aboitiz-led lender will be “pushing aggressively” to…
WASHINGTON—Drowned in the Rio Grande. Murdered in Mexico. Perished in the Arizona desert. For migrants traveling to the…
- Associated Press
BANGKOK—Cambodia’s foreign minister is making his second visit to Myanmar as a special envoy of the Association of…
- Samuel Petrequin / The Associated Press
BRUSSELS—European Union countries reached a deal following hard-fought talks that dragged into early Wednesday to back stricter climate…
KREMENCHUK, Ukraine—Russian forces battled Wednesday to surround the Ukrainian military’s last stronghold in a long-contested eastern province, as…
- Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England—The recurring cries of “Come on, Andy!” at Centre Court meandered somewhere along the continuum from pushing…
- Josef Ramos
CALL it a shot in the arm—or more aptly, in these pandemic times, a booster more than double—as…
- Josef Ramos
TNT Tropang Giga shoots for a quarterfinal berth when it battles winless Terrafirma on Friday in the Philippine…
- Josef Ramos
NEW ZEALAND was too hot to handle by a young Gilas Pilipinas team in an International Basketball Federation…
- BusinessMirror
THE Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) stayed committed to women and sports development nationwide through its various programs over…
- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters revealed that Germany and Qatar have hit difficulties in talks over long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deals amid differences over […]

The post Reuters reveals Germany, Qatar at odds over terms in talks on LNG supply deal appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters reported exclusively that the Canadian government is in discussion with the companies behind two proposed east coast liquefied natural gas export […]

The post Reuters reveals Canada in talks with Repsol, Pieridae Energy about LNG export terminals appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters exclusively revealed Germany’s VNG will transfer euro payments for Russian gas to Gazprombank in the future and expects no problems during a […]

The post Reuters reveals German gas importer VNG to transfer euros to Russia for payment appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters exclusively reported that U.S. and Chinese regulatory officials are in talks to settle a long-running dispute over the auditing compliance of […]

The post Reuters reveals U.S. regulators visit China for audit deal talks appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters was first to report that President Joe Biden would sign a new weapons package worth at least $100 million for Ukraine, […]

The post Reuters reveals Biden announces new $150 million weapons package for Ukraine appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters shed light on how a record-breaking drought in Chile, the world’s no. 1 copper producer and no. 2 producer of battery […]

The post Reuters reveals Chile’s parched mines race for an increasingly scarce commodity: water appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters exclusively reported Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management is working with banks to sell its 45% stake in French towers firm TDF Group as […]

The post Reuters reveals Brookfield taps banks to sell out of French towers firm TDF appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp rose as much as 7% after Kimmeridge, an activist investment firm that focuses on oil […]

The post Reuters reveals Kimmeridge says in talks with Chesapeake Energy about changes, shares rise appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuter exclusively reported HSBC and Ping An executives plan to meet in mid-May to discuss the Chinese insurer’s proposal that the bank […]

The post Reuters reveals HSBC and Ping An executives plan to discuss breakup proposal appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Jaime-Lee Charles

Reuters revealed German software firm SAP is working with investment bank Moelis & Co to sell its corporate learning software business Litmos as it […]

The post Reuters reveals Germany’s SAP hires adviser for $1 bln Litmos software appeared first on Reuters News Agency.

- Graeme Wearden
Global markets on track for worst first-half performance in decades – business live

MSCI’s index of world stocks has seen its biggest H1 losses since it was created in 1990

UK real household incomes in longest fall on recordIntroduction: House price inflation slowed to 0.3% in JuneUK balance of payments in record fallRecession worries hit marketsUK will face worse inflation than other major economies, says Bank governor

In better economic news, UK car production has risen for the first time in 11 months.

Some 62,284 units left factory gates in May, up 13.3% compared with April, and the first monthly rise since June 2021, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

“May’s return to growth for UK car output is hugely welcome after 10 months of decline, indicating the sector’s fundamental resilience.

Any recovery, however, will be gradual as supply chain deliveries remain erratic, business costs volatile and geopolitical instability still very real.

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- Lauren Gambino
Supreme court to rule on climate and immigration in final decisions of term – live
Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in as Stephen Breyer retires January 6 panel subpoenas ex-White House counsel Pat CipolloneSign up to receive First Thing – our daily briefing by email

Biden insisted that not one single world leader believes the US is going “backward” amid decision to end the constitutional right to an abortion, expanding weapons, soaring inflation and near-daily revelations about the shocking efforts by his predecessor to cling to power.

In Madrid, he said he’s only heard world leaders thank him for the US leadership on Ukraine.

“The one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of the United in overruling not only Roe v Wade but essentially challenging the right to privacy,” he said.

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- Andrew Sparrow
Boris Johnson says UK defence spending set to rise to 2.5% of GDP by end of decade – live

Latest updates: prime minister tells Nato conference UK will spend 2.5% of GDP on defence by 2030

Truss defends plans to cut British army by nearly 10,000 troops

And in another interview Liz Truss refused to endorse Boris Johnson’s claim that “toxic masculinity” helped to explain Vladimir Putin’s conduct and that he would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman. Asked if she agreed, she told Times Radio:

[Putin is] clearly is capable of very, very evil acts ... I don’t pretend that I can conduct a psychological analysis on him, nor do I think it’s helpful ...

I think that both women and men are capable of terrible and appalling acts.

All of Ukraine that has been invaded by Russia is illegally occupied. And, ultimately, the Russians need to be pushed out of all of that territory, and certainly what we shouldn’t be doing as friends and allies [of Ukraine] ... is implying that there are any trade-offs or any bits of Ukrainian territory that could be traded away or compromised on.

It is realistic, and that is why we are supplying the extra lethal aid we’re supplying.

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- Victoria Bekiempis
Kinzinger slams fellow Republican Boebert and warns of ‘Christian Taliban’

Adam Kinzinger says ‘no difference between this and the Taliban’ after Lauren Boebert’s call to end separation of church and state

A Republican congressman slammed GOP colleague Lauren Boebert’s recent call to end separation of church and state in the US, warning: “There is no difference between this and the Taliban.”

“We must opposed [sic] the Christian Taliban,” Adam Kinzinger, a US representative for Illinois, said Wednesday. “I say this as a Christian.”

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- Barry Glendenning (now) and Tom Davies (earlier)
Wimbledon 2022: Boulter and Tsitsipas in action, Kyrgios and Kvitova through – live!
Fans ‘fed up’ and frustrated by empty seats on Centre CourtThe Recap: sign up for our weekly email of editors’ picksAnd feel free to email Tom or drop him a tweet instead

The Wimbledon debutant Gray looks to be growing into this a bit, holding serve confidently for 2-1 in the second set. Over on Court 17 Richard Gasquet is a set up against Mackenzie McDonald of the US, taking the opener 6-3.

Fritz’s forehand is calling the shots here, and a lovely winner from the back of the court kickstarts the second set. Gray’s got some magic in his locker though and executes a stunning deft drop shot while slipping on the grass, which helps him to a morale-boosting hold from 0-30 down.

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- Arnel Hecimovic
Released sea turtles and the swearing-in of a president: Thursday’s best photos

The Guardian’s picture editors select photo highlights from around the world

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- Daniel Gallan (at Taunton, now) and Tanya Aldred (later)
England v South Africa: women’s Test match, day four – live!
The Spin: sign up for our free weekly cricket newsletterAnd feel free to email Daniel or tweet him @danielgallan

30th over: South Africa 62-3 (Luus 9, Sekhukhune 3) Sekhukhune is doing a fine job out there after her overnight watch. Sciver digs one in and looks but Sekhukhune rides the bounce and gets over her hook down to fine leg for a single. Luus plays out the rest of the over with comfort, swaying out of the way of another short ball from Sciver. Not a bad tactic I reckon. There is a short leg but I wonder if a leg slip may be a something to consider.

29th over: South Africa 61-3 (Luus 9, Sekhukhune 1) Ooooo, there’s a big appeal for lbw as Bell pins Luus’s front pad. She’s confident but it’s sliding down and England wisely keep with the on field decision. Luus would be better playing that straight but it’s easy to say that from up here. Nice and tidy for the rest of the set from Bell and it’s a maiden.

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- Steven Morris
Logan Mwangi: mother and stepfather jailed for life for murder of five-year-old

Angharad Williamson and John Cole found guilty of murder of Logan Mwangi after months of violent abuse

A mother and stepfather have been jailed for life after being found guilty of the murder of five-year-old Logan Mwangi, who died after months of violent abuse and imprisonment in the “dungeon” of his small, dark bedroom.

Logan’s mother, Angharad Williamson, was told she will serve at least 28 years before being considered for parole, while her partner, John Cole, will spend a minimum of 29 years in prison. A 14-year-old youth who was also convicted of Logan’s murder was told he will be detained for at least 15 years.

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Wish you were here: popular British postcards – in pictures

We asked our favourite day-trip destinations to send us the most popular postcard from their gift shop. Here are our souvenirs

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- Helena Horton Environment reporter
Burning ban failing to protect England’s peatlands, say conservation groups

Ministers urged to toughen law to help restore carbon sinks, as figures point to illegal burning

The government is failing to protect peatlands in England, conservation groups have warned, with the country at risk of losing more of its most efficient carbon sinks.

Figures obtained by Wildlife and Countryside Link suggest illegal burns of the areas, which are important for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, are likely to have taken place.

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- Guardian community team
Tell us: have you returned goods after buying them online?

We would like to hear about your online shopping habits and how they might have changed since the pandemic

Now the UK has returned to working in the office and attending colleges, universities and schools in person, shopping habits are also changing. Shoppers are buying more in stores, less online, and sending back more items they have bought online as they are not suitable or don’t fit.

How often do you return online goods? Are you sending back more items? Have you returned to your online shopping habits before the pandemic or is there another reason you are sending back items?

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- David Barnett
Dredd zone: the anarchic world of comic-book artist Steve Dillon

His groundbreaking work on such seminal characters as Judge Dredd, Preacher and Punisher is being celebrated with a posthumous show of his remarkable legacy

There are few artists who exemplify the anarchic, irreverent and anti-authoritarian British take on the comic book the way Steve Dillon does. Born in London and raised in Luton, Dillon died in New York in 2016, at the age of 54, following complications arising from a ruptured appendix. What remans is a remarkable body of work that includes the seminal UK comic magazine Deadline, which he co-founded; his illustrations on a fan-favourite run of Hellblazer, the Alan Moore-created comic that follows British chaos magician John Constantine; and most notably, the critically acclaimed Preacher, which he co-created with famed comics writer Garth Ennis.

First published by the US company DC in 1995, Preacher told the story of Jesse Custer, a small-town minister who is accidentally possessed by the offspring of an angel and a demon, and who goes on the road with his ex-girlfriend and an Irish vampire, searching for a solution to his problem. The comic ran for five years and was followed by a TV series starring Dominic Cooper, on which Dillon was executive producer.

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- Martin Belam (now); Léonie Chao-Fong and Samantha Lock (earlier)
Russia-Ukraine war: Russia withdraws from Snake Island and says Ukraine should demine waters – live news

Russian ministry of defence says withdrawal is goodwill gesture to facilitate grain exports, and asks that Ukraine demine its coastal waters

Ukraine say they have pushed Russian forces from Snake IslandPutin issues warning to Finland and Sweden after joining NatoNato summit venue in Madrid serves ‘Russian salad’At a glance: what we know on day 127 of the invasion

The UK’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has said that one of the reasons that Russia was able to invade Ukraine was because of underspending on defence in Europe.

Appearing on Sky News, she said:

I’ve been very clear that the entire free world, the western alliance, does need to focus more on deterrence. We need to focus more on defence. And what we know is prevention is better than cure.

The lesson that Putin learned from underspending on defence was that he could invade a sovereign nation, and we simply can’t let our guard down again, we can’t allow that to happen again.

I would say that we need a full range of capabilities to deal with the threats that we face now. Whether those are cyber threats, whether those are land-based threats, naval threats, and we have the balance right. But of course we need to continue to evolve, because we’re seeing, you know, we never expected in our lifetimes to see this kind of war on in Europe.

We’ve seen the systematic rape of women. We’ve seen the attacking of civilians, including at the shopping centre this week. And what we need to make sure is not only are the Ukrainians successful in pushing Russia out of Ukraine, but also that people are held to account for these appalling crimes that have been committed.

I’ve not met Vladimir Putin. I do not know the motivations for carrying out this appalling war. All I know is that we have to make it our absolute priority to stop this war, to push Vladimir Putin and the Russian troops out of Ukraine, otherwise we will live in a much less safe Europe.

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- Matt Mills
Guns N’ Roses – their 20 greatest songs, ranked!

As they play Spurs’ stadium twice this weekend, we rate the best of the swaggering rock gods, from epic balladry to high-speed juggernauts

Recorded in 1986 and released a year later, this speed metal gem was released as the B-side of the 12in version of It’s So Easy/Mr Brownstone before being lost to antiquity for 31 years. When it resurfaced in 2018, it was still every bit the raspy-voiced hellraiser of yore. The incomprehensible rants, barked hook and ear-splitting solo all make this a slice of classic GnR.

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- Helen Davidson in Taipei
Hong Kong tightens security as Xi visits for 25th anniversary of handover

China’s president makes first trip outside mainland since pandemic began as territory prepares to mark milestone

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has made his first trip outside the mainland since the Covid pandemic began, landing in Hong Kong and telling crowds the region had “risen from the ashes” after years of upheaval.

The leader, his wife, Peng Liyuan, and delegates, arrived by high-speed train at West Kowloon station before his scheduled attendance at the inauguration of the city’s new chief executive, and the 25th anniversary of the British return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

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- Keith Stuart
Pushing Buttons: Happy 50th birthday to Atari, whose simple games gave us so much

In this week’s newsletter: As the revolutionary company celebrates a half-century, we look back at everything video games owe to Atari

Don’t get Pushing Buttons delivered to your inbox? Sign up here

Welcome to Pushing Buttons, the Guardian’s gaming newsletter. If you’d like to receive it in your inbox every week, just pop your email in below – and check your inbox (and spam) for the confirmation email.

This week marks a truly important video game anniversary: it is 50 years since Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney incorporated Atari Inc, the company that laid the foundations for the video games industry. There have been many appraisals of the company and its landmark achievements in the games press over the past few days – from the arrival of a Pong machine in Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, California, in 1972, through classic titles such as Breakout, Asteroids and Missile Commands, to the iconic home consoles. So many moments of creative genius, so many genres, concepts and conventions bursting into existence at the hands of scruffy engineers and designers such as Ed Logg, Larry Kaplan and Dona Bailey.

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- Stella Creasy
Banning babies from parliament shows just how out of touch Westminster is | Stella Creasy

If we want more women with children to become MPs, we need family-friendly policies for parents like me in the Commons

As the Speaker welcomes cats into the chamber, last night his deputy criticised my parenting for bringing my toddler to the voting lobbies. She demanded I hand her over to her instead, despite being a stranger to my child. Such outward hostility towards making parliament family friendly does little to improve the perception that Westminster is out of touch with those it seeks to serve. When 41% of the population think democracy doesn’t work, refusing to accept the status quo becomes even more important, not just for equality, but to protect democracy itself.

Today’s news that the procedure committee has decided parents accompanied by babies are forbidden in the House of Commons – in contrast to many other legislatures around the world and previous custom – yet again reinforces the impression Westminster isn’t a 21st-century workplace, but a rarefied debating club for the elite. This decision will not affect me. Both my children are now too old to sit quietly so I can speak, but it speaks volumes about how determined some are to send the message that mothers are not welcome unless they pretend their children don’t exist.

Stella Creasy is the Labour and Cooperative MP for Walthamstow in London

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- Stuart Heritage
Twenty-six seconds of fame: how Doctor Strange got upstaged by a swivel-eyed extra

The wedding scene guest, whose performance of a lifetime stole the show from Benedict Cumberbatch, enters that bizarre pantheon of extras who gave it some extra

A lot of the criticism directed towards Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness pertains to that final word. Aside from a brief montage of Doctor Strange being quickly flung through a bunch of multiverses, the film just wasn’t mad enough for most people.

Well, more fool us. A clip from the movie has just gone viral, and it contains perhaps the maddest thing put to film in the last decade. We just didn’t notice it at the time, because it happened in the background. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know that there is a small, quiet scene in which Doctor Strange attends the wedding of his ex-girlfriend. In the foreground, Benedict Cumberbatch does lots of complicated internal work to show his discomfort with the situation. But watch the scene again. Look at the extra sitting behind him. She absolutely loses her mind.

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- Sarah Butler
Ben & Jerry’s criticises deal that will resume sales in occupied territories

Firm says it does not agree with parent company’s decision to sell off brand’s Israeli business

Ben & Jerry’s has said it does not agree with its parent company’s decision to sell off the ice-cream brand’s Israeli business.

Unilever announced this week it had sold off Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel in an attempt to extricate itself from a row over sales of the ice-cream in settlements in the West Bank.

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- Ashifa Kassam in Madrid
Luxembourg PM’s same-sex husband seated next to Viktor Orbán at summit

Hungarian leader was criticised by Xavier Bettel in 2021 for introducing homophobic law

The dozens of invitees were carefully seated along the lengthy table, flanked by columns fashioned out of Bagnères marble and surrounded by paintings from Spain’s Francisco de Goya.

As photos of the Nato dinner at Spain’s royal palace filtered out, many were swift to spot what one Spanish news site described as the image of the summit: the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, seated next to Gauthier Destenay, the first same-sex spouse of a leader of an EU member state.

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- Jamie Grierson
Watchdogs condemn police response to domestic abuse claims against officers

Joint inquiry hears evidence of officers in England and Wales using their status to deter victims from making reports

Police forces in England and Wales are responding to reports of their own officers committing domestic abuse in a way that is “significantly harming the public interest”, with just 9% of such allegations leading to criminal charges, a joint watchdog investigation has found.

The College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and the Independent Office for Police Conduct heard evidence of police perpetrators of domestic abuse using their knowledge, status and powers to intimidate victims and deter them from making reports.

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- Joanna Partridge
Post Office IT scandal whistleblowers to share £20m compensation pot

‘Courageous’ former operators to share interim package amid continued fallout from faulty Horizon system

Former post office operators who helped to uncover the Horizon IT scandal are to receive £19.5m compensation from the government.

The interim compensation package will be made available by ministers to the eligible members of a group representing postal workers who were the first to take legal action against the Post Office, taking the total compensation made to those wrongly accused of stealing money to about £30m.

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- Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent
Beijing hits out at Nato strategy for ‘malicious attack’ on China

Western military bloc says China poses ‘serious challenges’ to global stability

China has issued a strong rebuke at Nato, calling out what it said was “cold war thinking and ideological bias”, after the western military bloc said Beijing posed “serious challenges” to global stability.

Nato allies agreed for the first time to include challenges and threats posed by China into a strategy blueprint in its latest summit in Madrid this week. The alliance’s previous document, issued in 2010, made no mention of China.

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- Andrew Pollard
The discovery of the polio virus in Britain proves we can never let our guard down | Andrew Pollard

Evidence of the disease in a London sewer shows that without widespread vaccination, no country is immune from its horrors

The finding of a polio virus in repeated sampling from the sewage system in London during 2022 is less of a concern for highly vaccinated communities in the UK, where children are immune to the rare chance of paralysis. However, it is a portent of potential individual catastrophe for families with unvaccinated and undervaccinated children in our capital unless there is urgent action.

In these pandemic times, we shouldn’t need much reminding that there are some bad viruses out there, and there always have been. But intervening urgently to control epidemics and outbreaks with vaccines is relatively new. The devastating polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s, which left thousands of children paralysed in the UK, were very much in the public eye at the time, with the familiar images of hospitals full of children in coffin-like iron lungs or paralysed children with their legs in callipers.

Prof Sir Andrew Pollard is Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford

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- Jacob Steinberg
West Ham step up Lingard interest after Danjuma pursuit hits problems
Moyes keen to bring free agent Lingard back to clubAttacking midfielder may need to lower wage demands

West Ham are stepping up efforts to sign Jesse Lingard after their move for Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma ran into difficulties.

The club have held talks with Villarreal about Danjuma, with €40m (£34.5m) plus add-ons potentially enough to land the Dutch winger, but the deal is now in doubt. West Ham have not agreed personal terms with the 25-year-old and various complications mean they are ready to move on to other attacking targets.

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