Monthly Archive July 1, 2022

BALITANG MARINO DAILY NEWS for June 30, 2022

HEADLINES

China cuts COVID-19 quarantine time for travelers

US releases 56,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine

UN coordinator urges public to help stave off ‘5th largest oil spill from a tanker in history

Bureau Veritas, TotalEnergies jointly study ammonia as marine fuel

Norwegian Sun Curtails Cruise After Hitting Ice in Alaska

All systems go for Bongbong Marcos’ inauguration today

DOH: Daily COVID-19 cases may reach 17,000

Dengue cases reach 45K — DOH

Bacolod City truth body to probe P1.5-B transactions

Solo parents get P1,000 monthly, more perks under new law

SEC affirms order to shut down Rappler — Ressa

Concert proves why Sharon and Regine are ‘Iconic’

Filipina director Isabel Sandoval invited to join Oscars Academy

Morissette, Dave Lamar celebrate first wedding anniversary

Rodolfo Reyes Jr, Darius Venerable take MVPs in Asian Poomsae Championships

Alex Eala opens Spain 25k with one-two salvo

Top PH fencer Catantan seeks financial help for key tourney

FULL NEWSPAPER

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

China cuts COVID-19 quarantine time for travelers

BEIJING, June 30 —— China will halve to seven days its COVID-19 quarantine period for visitors from overseas, with a further three days spent at home, health authorities said.

The change came in the National Health Commission’s latest guideline on measures against the disease. Following seven days spent in centralized facilities, travelers face three days of at-home medical observation, it added, versus seven previously.

Source: inquirer.net

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US releases 56,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine

Washington, United States, June 30 —— US health authorities said they were immediately releasing 56,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine — five times the number distributed so far — to areas of high transmission as part of a major escalation of the country’s immunization strategy.

Until now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommended monkeypox vaccines be offered to those who had confirmed exposures. “But now, we are recommending that vaccines be provided to both people with known monkeypox exposures who are contacted by public health, and also to those people who’ve been recently exposed to monkeypox that may not be identified through case investigations and contact tracing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing. Walensky said that 4,700 cases have been detected globally during the current outbreak that began in early May, including 306 in the United States that have all been non-fatal.

Monkeypox is a viral illness endemic in West and Central African countries that causes symptoms such as fever and rash. It is similar to but less severe than smallpox, but can be riskier in immune compromised people. It is primarily spread through close contact. David Boucher, an official with the Health and Human Services department said the federal government had so far distributed nearly 10,000 doses and 300 antiviral courses, and released a further 56,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine, originally developed against smallpox. JYNNEOS is a two dose vaccine given 28 days apart and takes full effect two weeks after the second dose.

The government is securing an additional 240,000 doses in the coming weeks, and expects to have a total of 1.6 million doses available this year. Jurisdictions can also order shipments of the older generation ACAM2000 vaccine, which is in much greater supply, but is not recommended for everyone because of significant side effects. Observers have said the true number of monkeypox cases in the United States is likely to be far higher than the official figure, and part of the new strategy is making testing more widely available and easier to access. The CDC has now scaled testing to 78 sites in 48 states, “with spare capacity to conduct nearly 10,000 tests per week nationwide,” a fact sheet said.

Source: inquirer.net

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MARITIME NEWS

UN coordinator urges public to help stave off ‘5th largest oil spill from a tanker in history’

June 30 —— Only days before emergency operations are scheduled to take place to head off a decaying oil tanker threat, a UN Humanitarian Coordinator has urged the public to help with funding to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Red Sea, as the work to transfer the oil to a safe vessel is already delayed because of insufficient funding. The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, in a post on Twitter from Sunday, 26 June 2022, called on the public to help “cross the finish line” to get the required funds in place for the first part of the operation to take place.

Back in September 2021, the United Nations’ senior management instructed Gressly to coordinate all efforts to mitigate the threat posed by an aging supertanker in an advanced state of decay, known as the FSO Safer, and strengthen contingency plans in the event of a catastrophic oil leak. Following several months of discussions with all relevant stakeholders, an UN-coordinated operational plan was presented to address the threat. The UN informed that the Government of Yemen in Aden supports this initiative along with the Sana’a-based authorities, who control the area where the vessel is located. To this end,  a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the Houthi stronghold Sana’a on 5 March, establishing a framework for cooperation in which the Sana’a authorities have committed to facilitating the success of the project.

The plan to address the threat posed by the FSO Safer comprises two critical tracks. This refers to the installation of a long-term replacement vessel or another capacity equivalent to the FSO within a target of 18 months. Since the situation is perceived to be too dangerous to wait for the replacement vessel, a four-month emergency operation by a global maritime salvage company is required to eliminate the immediate threat by transferring the oil from the FSO Safer to a secure temporary vessel. However, as the implementation of this plan cannot start without donor funding, the goal is to raise funds to start the $80 million emergency operation to transfer oil from the FSO Safer to prevent an oil spill that could spell disaster for the region and beyond.

The two-track plan has an overall cost of $144 million, however, donors have pledged or contributed $40 million to the UN-coordinated plan to address the threat. Therefore, the UN’s implementation of the emergency rescue operation was delayed because of insufficient funding for the transfer operation as there is a $104 million gap in funding for the two-track plan, while $40 million is “most urgently needed” to start work on the emergency operation. To bridge the funding gap and start the emergency operation, the UN launched a crowdfunding campaign earlier this month, which encourages people everywhere to contribute towards raising $5 million in individual donations by the end of this month so that work can start in July.

In October, increasingly volatile currents and high winds make the emergency operation more dangerous and increase the risk of the ship breaking up, thus, the UN outlined that “every day we wait for funding delays the start of the operation, bringing closer the day when the vessel will break apart.” Moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, the FSO Safer contains more than a million barrels of oil and is considered to be beyond repair, as it could soon break apart or explode. This 376-metre-long FSO is among the largest tankers in the world and holds roughly four times the crude oil that was spilt during the Exxon Valdez disaster, off Alaska, in 1989. Therefore, the UN says that this is “enough to make it the 5th largest oil spill from a tanker in history.”

The FSO Safer has been anchored just a few miles off the Yemen coast for more than 30 years, but the war between the pro-Government coalition and Houthi rebels saw offloading from the vessel, as well as maintenance, grind to a halt in 2015. Taking this into consideration, the UN says that “if we do not act now, the result will be an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe centered on the coast of a country already devasted by seven years of war.”

A massive oil spill threat like the one posed by the FSO Safer would “destroy pristine reefs, coastal mangroves and other sea life across the Red Sea, expose millions of people to highly polluted air, and cut off food, fuel and other life-saving supplies to Yemen, where 17 million people already need food aid,” emphasized the UN. In such a case, coastal communities would be hit hardest with hundreds of thousands of jobs in the fishing industry becoming history almost overnight. The UN further elaborated that it would take 25 years for fish stocks to recover, while the cost of cleanup alone would be $20 billion and vital shipping through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to the Red Sea could be disrupted for an extended period, costing billions of dollars per day. This sort of calamity would be a repeat of the Ever Given disaster, disrupting global trade just like this container ship did when it ran aground in the Suez Canal over a year ago.

Source: offshore-energy.biz

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Bureau Veritas, TotalEnergies jointly study ammonia as marine fuel

June 30 —— Classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) and energy major TotalEnergies have carried out a joint study aiming at de-risking the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, with a specific focus on leak mitigation and treatment. The joint preliminary study evaluated the health and safety risks from ammonia leaks for crew and passengers and pinpointed key safety criteria, broadening the shipping industry’s understanding of ammonia as a marine fuel.

So far, the study has examined different leak scenarios for single-wall and double-wall containment, as well as during bunkering operations – also providing key insights on the efficiency of ventilation and vapor processing systems, the size of safety zones needed, and the health risks to people exposed to leaks, BV informed. Ammonia is seen as one of the main zero-carbon fuel options to decarbonize the shipping industry. However, it presents several safety challenges as it is toxic to humans. To help de-risk ammonia as fuel, BV is building on a tried-and-tested approach that was used in the last decade to propel the development of LNG as fuel. BV’s Rule Note NR 671 was also used as a guideline, given its focus on preventing ammonia leaks and requirements for onboard vapor processing systems.

The partners began by assessing what concentrations of ammonia in the air would be problematic and compared those levels to LNG. The LNG-fueled tanker served as the model for the comparison, showing a stark contrast between the two fuels. As explained, LNG becomes dangerous at around 50,000 parts per million (ppm), while ammonia starts to have health effects above 30 ppm when permanently exposed, or around 300 ppm when exposed for one hour.

Based on this finding, BV noted that unless modifications are made to the design, safety distances should be much greater for ammonia than LNG. “While further experimentation and analysis are required to reach definitive conclusions, this preliminary study helped identify future areas to explore for de-risking ammonia as fuel. Additional tests could be performed for leak design scenarios, bunkering safety zones, bunkering arrangements, and the effect of weather conditions, for example”, said Laurent Leblanc, senior VP of Technical & Operations at Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore. “Until technology developments can eliminate ammonia leaks completely, leak mitigation and treatment remain the best course of action for ship owners and designers. Our preliminary study with TotalEnergies forms a strong basis for future industry collaboration. By pairing the right questions with the right tests, marine stakeholders can begin the journey to de-risking ammonia as fuel, as they did for LNG.”

Source: offshore-energy.biz

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Norwegian Sun Curtails Cruise After Hitting Ice in Alaska

June 30 —— Norwegian Cruise Line is curtailing one of its cruises after its cruise ship Norwegian Sun had a rare encounter hitting a smaller piece of ice over the weekend while traveling in Alaska. The 78,000 gross ton cruise ship suffered unspecified damages that have forced the ship to skip ports on its current cruise and cancel the next cruise to undergo repairs.

With visions of the ill-fated Titanic being invoked, passengers are reporting Saturday morning they awoke to feel a shudder in the ship. The Norwegian Sun was cruising north of Skagway in the Gulf of Alaska toward a scenic visit to Hubbard Glacier and was encountering fog, which is typical of the region. A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line reports that the cruise ship “made contact with a growler,” typically a smaller chunk of ice defined to be no more than about six feet in length. They typically have broken away from a larger formation and are low to the surface of the ocean making them especially difficult to see from the bridge. The majority of their mass is below the water and often the water can be washing over the top of the chunk of ice. It is unclear what speed the cruise ship was traveling, but a video posted to social media by passengers shows a large black formation of ice floating in the water larger than the typical growler. The contact was along the forward starboard side of the vessel and the ice can be seen floating past the cruise ship.

Passengers reported that the cruise ship was moving slowly after the encounter with the ice. Later the Norwegian Sun changed course, canceling the planned call at Hubbard Glacier and a port visit scheduled for Skagway, Alaska on Sunday. The cruise ship traveled south arriving in Juneau, Alaska later on Sunday, where an inspection was carried out to determine the extent of the damage. “The ship was given clearance by the United States Coast Guard and other local maritime authorities to return to Seattle at reduced speed,” said the spokesperson. Passengers reported they departed Juneau late Monday and the current AIS signal shows the ship traveling at approximately 16 knots saying its destination is Victoria, Canada. This, however, could be a technical call to meet the requirement to visit a foreign port as Norwegian is reporting that all guests currently onboard will disembark in Seattle as originally planned.

The Norwegian Sun had departed from Seattle on June 21 on a nine-night cruise. They had visited Sitka, Alaska and Icy Strait Point, before heading toward Hubbard Glacier. Port calls at Skagway and Ketchikan in Alaska were canceled when the cruise was curtailed and the vessel began its return voyage. The next cruise of the Norwegian Sun scheduled to depart on June 30 from Seattle has also been canceled so that the necessary repairs can be made to the ship. Encounters with smaller pieces of ice are common in Alaska when the cruise ships are sailing at slow speeds mostly near the glaciers. The ice occasionally bumps against the hull typically not causing any damage. The location of this encounter, the size of the growler, and the speed of the ship however appeared to have conspired to a unique set of circumstances, and the first reported incidence where a modern cruise ship was damaged and forced to cancel cruises due to hitting an iceberg.

Source: maritime-executive.com

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PHILIPPINE NEWS

All systems go for Bongbong Marcos’ inauguration today

MANILA, Philippines, June 30 —— The inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on June 30, is now all set, with his camp saying the event will be “very solemn and simple.”

Franz Imperial, who is one of the heads of the preparation committee for the event, said that except for some minor details that are still being finalized, the program is all set. “The program we have prepared is very solemn and simple. It would be very traditional dahil sabi nga ni BBM sa vlog niya, ‘hindi kami lilihis pa sa tradisyon,’” he said in a press release, referring to Marcos’ preferred acronym. Marcos is set to take his oath of office at 12 noon on June 30 at the National Museum, instead of the traditional Quirino Grandstand, because the latter was not readily available due to the COVID-19 isolation facilities erected on its grounds. Imperial said the inauguration will start with actress Toni Gonzaga singing the national anthem. Details for the ecumenical invocation that will follow are still being finalized as of press time, he added. There will also be a 30-minute military-civil parade. After the parade, the inauguration song will follow, Imperial said.

“The inauguration song will be ‘Pilipinas Kong Mahal’ and it will be performed by Cris Villonco and the Young Voices of the Philippines choir,” he said. Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo will administer the oath of office. Imperial also said that while they have yet to receive details of Marcos inaugural speech, the President-elect would not need a teleprompter.

Since 1992, tradition dictated that the inaugural ceremony be held at the Quirino Grandstand, where the outgoing president will conduct a final troop review and is presented to the public before departing the Grandstand aboard his private vehicle. After the outgoing president’s final troop inspection, the inauguration proper would then begin with the singing of the national anthem. The President-elect then takes his oath of office at exactly 12 noon then a 21-gun salute is immediately fired after which the new president would then deliver his inaugural address.

Source: inquirer.net

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DOH: Daily COVID-19 cases may reach 17,000

MANILA, Philippines, June 30 —— Daily COVID-19 cases in the Philippines may reach up to around 17,105 by end-July if Filipinos continue their current level of compliance with minimum public health standards (MPHS), like wearing masks, washing hands, and physical distancing, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Citing projections from the FASSSTER (Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler), a disease surveillance tool adopted by the DOH, health authorities reported that compliance to MPHS has dropped by 20% to 22%. The DOH also reported a projection of around 3,800 to 5,300 new cases in the middle of July if the compliance rate stays steady. “Based on updated projections from FASSSTER, if mobility continues to increase, compliance to MPHS continues to reduce (20-22% reduction) and booster uptake is maintained at this low level, we MAY see 3,800 to 5,300 daily cases nationally by mid-July,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a message to reporters. In a briefing, the DOH reported that COVID-19 cases continued to rise across all regions in the Philippines, with Metro Manila showing a steep increase. Other areas in the country remain to have less than 150 cases a day.

Despite the case increase in Metro Manila, its new-normal Alert Level 1 status was extended from July 1 to 15. Health authorities noted that despite the increase in cases, severe and critical cases remain below 1,000. Vergeire said that health care utilization rates remained at low-risk in majority of areas in the country. “Ang infection ay nandito. COVID-19 is here to stay. What would be most important for all of us would be that cases are mild, cases might be asymptomatic, there are less severe and critical cases, and our hospitals will be manageable,” Vergeire said on how the DOH frames weekly case bulletin – with less focus on the case numbers, and more emphasis on how many are severe and critical, and if the Philippine health system can handle the situation. “That’s a real indication that we are moving more towards endemicity – that even if cases are increasing… there is almost no effect on our healthcare system, which means that we can start to treat this as an endemic disease and the disruption in our lives can be minimized,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana. Salvana added that even as the virus evolves, as seen with the Omicron subvariants, vaccines remain to be effective against severe disease. “Even if we don’t have updated vaccines, we don’t expect that even if cases will increase, our healthcare system will not be overwhelmed,” Salvana said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Vergeire said that the Philippines is not yet in negotiations for acquiring next-generation vaccines. Vergeire earlier attributed the entry of Omicron subvariants as one of the reasons behind the current increase in cases. These Omicron offshoots are causing alarm due to spike in cases worldwide. The Philippines has begun administering second boosters to health workers, senior citizens, and the immunocompromised, and first boosters to immunocompromised adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Source: rappler.com

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Dengue cases reach 45K — DOH

June 30 —— The Department of Health (DOH) said that the country’s dengue cases have already reached more than 45,000 since January.

“There were 45,416 dengue cases reported from Jan. 1 to June 11, 2022,” the DOH said in a statement. This figure is 45 percent higher compared to the recorded cases during the same period last year. It was also noted that in just a span of four weeks or from May 15 to June 11, a total of 11,680 dengue cases were recorded nationwide. The regions with the highest recorded cases in that said period were Central Luzon, 1,742; Central Visayas, 1,496; and Western Visayas, 962. Since Jan. 1, the regions with the most number of dengue cases were Central Visayas, 5,863; Central Luzon, 5,773; and Zamboanga Peninsula, 4,416. The DOH said that Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao Region, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) showed “an increasing trend in the recent period.” Meanwhile, 15 out of the 17 regions have “exceeded the alert or epidemic threshold for the past four weeks,” the DOH said.

These regions are Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, National Capital Region, BARMM, and CAR. The DOH also recorded 217 deaths. Of this figure, 39 happened in January, 37 in February, 34 in March, 45 in April, 58 in May, and four in June.

Source: mb.com.ph

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Bacolod City truth body to probe P1.5-B transactions

June 30 —— Two days before Bacolod City Mayor-elect Albee Benitez takes over Negros Occidental’s premier city, his hand-picked officials announced a probe into more than P1.5 billion in 2017-2020 expenditures of the outgoing administration of Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonanrdia.

Benitez’s spokesperson, Lyzander “Bong” Dilag, incoming city administrator Pacifico Maghari III., legal officer Romeo Carlos Ting Jr., and secretary to the mayor Karol Joseph Chio held a press briefing, giving a rundown of the potential probe subjects. The questionable transactions, they said, can be found in COA reports. Benitez will sign an executive order on July 1 to launch his truth commission but he has already announced Ting as its head and Maghari as a member. The mayor-elect earlier told reporters he would include former state auditors in the commission. The press briefing presented former COA central office state auditor Marilou Reyes as a resource person, but it was not clear if she would eventually sit in the new body.

Among the items mentioned by Dilag were:

• P1 billion in “construction in progress accounts”, including the lack of supporting documents for P506 million paid to landfill and sanitation service providers.

• P183.9 million in cash advances to officers and employees handling the city’s pandemic response,

• Cash procurement of P38.57 million worth of various medical supplies and medical equipment, P112.1 million in various equipment not entered into the city’s trust fund books, and

• P49 million in grants to non-governmental organizations,

A review of the 2020 COA report on the city, transmitted to the LGU in June 2021, found that officials had already started correcting some deficiencies from when the country experienced the first wave of illness and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reyes, the former state auditor, also pointed out that some transactions flagged by COA may have been corrected already, whether partially or fully. “But based on the action on prior years’ audit recommendations, there are still a lot of things for the period covered that have remained unimplemented,” she said. The COA review said that as of December 31, 2020, P170.47 million of P171.8 million in audit suspensions have been outstanding for one to seven years. “There are some which have been partially implemented and there are those, of course, which have already been addressed. These are the things the commission would have to look into,” Reyes noted.

In 2019, the COA also questioned the lack of data on the P71.9-million contract for the management and operation of the city’s sanitary landfill and almost P165 million for the collecting, hauling, and disposal of trash. It also called for the demolition of temporary structures within the sanitary landfill facility. But in 2020, the COA also finally lifted its Notice of Disallowance on the alleged overpriced purchase in 2008 of a seven-hectare sanitary landfill area. In its review of the P183.9-million pandemic cash advances, the COA said personnel of the city accountant office revealed that “there was no proper monitoring of COVID-related cash advances because of the heavy workload and volume of transactions” and the quarantine status that all LGUs experienced. The audit report, however, said that subsequent interviews with accountable officers found they are now in the process of collecting supporting documents to completely liquidate their cash advances. Of these, P71.9 million was sourced from the city’s trust fund and P111.9 million from the general fund. The COA also mentioned emergency purchases of P38.57 million worth of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPEs), which it said violated COA Circular 97-002 and Department of Budget and Management local budget circular No 125 dated April 7, 2020.

The COA questioned why the city simply negotiated with suppliers who could submit and offer the lowest price for the goods when procedures had already been relaxed to allow for the health emergency. It also reminded the city that rules require all disbursements must be paid in check “except in instances when it may be difficult or impossible”. The Bids and Awards Committee secretariat, however, defended their action, citing rapid depletion of equipment and other material needed by frontliners. “There was hardly any supply at end-user offices except for what DOH (Department of Health) periodically provided,” the BAC said.

The BAC response said the committee was preparing to undertake “myriad procedures for negotiated emergency purchases”, when end-user officers “frantically alerted” that they were already running very low on pandemic management supplies. The problem, the BAC said, worsened when the national government began sending home boat and plane loads of overseas Filipino workers, who all needed testing and isolation. Cash on delivery was the only payment system that the market was willing to accept, BAC said. “We had to accede, otherwise, we would not have secured the essential supplies we badly needed at that time.” The COA report also quoted the city accountant office as saying missing accounts for disaster equipment had already been booked in the general fund. The state agency, however, ordered that accounts first be recorded in trust fund books before transferring the account to the general fund.

Source: rappler.com

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Solo parents get P1,000 monthly, more perks under new law

MANILA, Philippines, June 30 —— Low-income solo parents will now receive a P1,000 monthly cash subsidy under a new law that will provide more benefits to solo parents.

Republic Act No. 11861, or the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, lapsed into law on June 4 after President Rodrigo Duterte did not act on the measure. Under the new law, the period before someone could be declared a single parent due to abandonment was decreased to six months from the current one year. Aside from the P1,000 cash aid per month for single parents whose income is below the poverty line, a solo parent who is earning less than P250,000 a year would also be entitled to a 10- percent discount on baby’s milk, food, and micronutrient supplements and sanitary diapers, medicine, vaccines, and other medical supplements bought for children until 6 years of age. The law said grandparents who are the sole guardians of minors would also have the same privileges as single parents.

The new law also ordered the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to provide scholarships to qualified children of solo parents in institutions of basic, higher, and technical/vocational education and training. The new law will also give solo parents preference in government low-cost housing projects and offer them more flexible payment periods.

Source: inquirer.net

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SEC affirms order to shut down Rappler — Ressa

Metro Manila, June 30 —— The Securities and Exchange Commission has upheld its earlier decision to shut down online news organization Rappler, its CEO Maria Ressa announced.

The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate made the announcement during her speech at the East-West Center international media conference in Hawaii. “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 Corporation,” the organization’s statement read. “We were notified by our lawyers of this ruling that effectively confirmed the shutdown of Rappler.” The SEC confirmed the issuance of its order a few hours after, reiterating Rappler’s supposed “violation of constitutional and statutory restrictions on foreign ownership in mass media.” “The Company Registration and Monitoring Department is hereby directed to effect the revocation of the Certificates of Incorporation of Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corp. in the records and system of the Commission,” part of the 12-page order read, citing the Constitution and Presidential Decree 1018, which limits the ownership and management of mass media to Filipino citizens.

In 2018, the SEC ordered to cancel Rappler’s certificate of incorporation, claiming that the 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. Rappler had appealed the SEC ruling but the organization’s legal counsel said in 2021 that the SEC submitted a report to the Court of Appeals (CA), saying that Omidyar’s alleged donation has no legal effect in the case, without hearing the news organization’s side. Rappler also maintained that PDRs do not give foreign ownership rights and the news organization is owned and managed by Filipinos. It also said that PD 1018 only applies to “print and broadcast media.” But the SEC said in its latest statement that “the purported donation of the PDRs to the staff of Rappler neither created nor transferred any right in favor of the donees which would mitigate or cure the violation already committed.” It also said that the CA affirmed the SEC order as early as July 26, 2018; then on February 21, 2019; and again, on December 4, 2019.

Ressa said Rappler will appeal the decision and it is “business as usual” in the news organization. “We have existing legal remedies all the way up to the highest court of the land,” the statement added. “It is business as usual for us since in our view, this is not immediately executory without court approval.”

Source: cnnphilippines.com

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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Concert proves why Sharon and Regine are ‘Iconic’

June 30 —— “Iconic,” the sold-out concert topbilled by Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez at Resorts World Manila (RWM) is as much a heartwarming trip down memory lane as it is a celebration of the Filipino performers’ prodigious skill, artistic sensitivity and top-notch musicality.

First staged at the Big Dome three years ago, the two-night show, mounted to jump-start the songstresses’ nine-city US tour—has been retrofitted from a slam-bang spectacle at the Big Dome to a more intimate affair at RWM’s Marriott Grand Ballroom worthy of its performers’ legacy as true-blue OPM legends. The concert boasts an inspired lineup, with Regine kicking off the opening duet of Sharon’s hits with a sublime rendition of “Pangarap na Bituin,” a signature song culled from the Megastar’s 1984 film, “Bukas Luluhod ang Mga Tala.” The tune, coupled with the Songbird’s “You are My Song” was a heartwarming memento of the years in the mid-’80s and late ’90s when Sharon and Regine were respectively lording it over as local Tinseltown’s premier singer-actresses. In those days, Sharon and Regine were each fielding one theme song-enhanced blockbuster movie after another, like “Bituing Walang Ningning,” “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas” and “Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin?” and “Dahil May Isang Ikaw” and “Do Re Mi”. There was as much entertainment as nostalgia as Sharon and Regine took turns singing heartwarming stanzas from the former’s gorgeously pieced together early hits, “Mr. DJ,” “High School,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Dear Heart”—which easily transported us back to our youth.

Regine has remained the country’s best singer, bar none—as Sharon herself declared. Truth is, Regine at her worst is still someone whose power and seamlessly inventive runs no local singer can even dream of. So, it’s always a tall order for anybody to share the stage with her. Regine is often noticed generously “holding back” and judiciously adjusting to her duet partner, however, Sharon is no Megastar for no reason. Acknowledging an early struggle with her voice, the movie queen, who’s known for always wearing her heart on her sleeve, hasn’t sung in front of a live audience in more than two years. But Sharon still brought with her a treasure trove of experiences, groundbreaking accomplishments and a measure of “mega”-sized mystique that make her shows extra special. While it’s true that Regine’s technique and mastery of her voice are beyond match, Sharon herself has stacked up a very long string of hits courtesy of a singing style that brings out the heart and soul of any song she sings. “Sagad hanggang buto,” as both critics and her admiring fans say.

Sharon’s voice is just the type that needs some warming up—as the show soon demonstrated. Later in the concert, Sharon turned Regine’s “Sana Maulit Muli” and Ben&Ben’s “Leaves” on their heads and made them uniquely her own. Regine also didn’t disappoint in her numbers, delivering a haunting new iteration for “Dadalhin” or a crackerjack version of “‘Di Ka Nag-iisa”. Getting the two singers to perform together in a touring show is no mean feat because, while theirs are distinctive voices that don’t always blend, listening to them—individually or together—is never not compelling. Adding magic to the stellar proceedings is the participation of their special guest, Asia’s Queen of Songs Pilita Corrales who, at 84, could still reach the money notes on the glorious “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” and her hit song “A Million Thanks to You.”

Sharon and Regine sang the songs that helped catapult them to singing superstardom, shuttling with ease from one beloved hit to another: “I-Swing Mo Ako,” “Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan,” “Maging Sino Ka Man,” “Pangako sa ‘Yo,” “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas,” “Bituing Walang Ningning” and “Ikaw”, and “Urong Sulong,” “Araw Gabi,” “Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka”. Beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia from those songs, the audience was treated to the duo’s covers of more contemporary hits from the popular likes of Moira dela Torre, The Juans, The Eraserheads and Kamikazee. The last song led to a discussion of how Sharon and Regine brought their versions of Darna to life—in the 1986 and 2003 movie adaptations of “Captain Barbell,” respectively. The upcoming touring show seems guaranteed a successful run ahead—not just because of the superstar singers starring in it, but also because of the unifying power of their shared music. As if on cue, the Megastar, just before she and Regine launched into the concert’s catchy encore numbers, pleaded with the crowd that it was time to stop the bickering brought about by the country’s deeply polarizing political situation. Sharon pointed out, “The elections are over—it’s time for all of us to come together.”

Source: inquirer.net

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Filipina director Isabel Sandoval invited to join Oscars Academy

MANILA, Philippines, June 30 —— America-based Filipina filmmaker Isabel Sandoval has been invited alongside nearly 400 other individuals to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the annual Oscars.

Sandoval is a director and actress best known for her award-winning film “Lingua Franca.” She also directed “Aparisyon” starring Jodi Sta. Maria and Mylene Dizon, and an episode of “Under the Banner of Heaven” starring Andrew Garfield. The filmmaker took to Twitter to express her joy in being invited, likely implying she will accept the institution’s invitation, adding that “being QUEEN OF SENSUAL CINÉMA paid off.” The Twitter account of the Academy replied to Sandoval’s tweet, welcoming her to the organization, and the director responded with, “What an incredible honor! Thank you so much!” Several Filipino filmmakers have been invited to the join the Academy in the last decade, most notably Brillante Mendoza, Lav Diaz, and Ramona Diaz. Others include documentary filmmakers Baby Ruth Villarama and Ditsi Carolino, director and cinematographer P.J. Raval, producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson, and Disney animators Josie Trinidad, Trevor Jimenez, and Bobby Pontillas.

Among the high-profile invitees are some recipients of Academy Awards earlier this year like actors Troy Kotsur and Ariana DeBose, musicians and siblings Billie Eilish and Finneas, and directors Sian Heder of “CODA” and Ryusuke Himaguchi of “Drive My Car.” Other notable names are “Belfast” actors Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan; “The Power of the Dog” actors Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee; and “Last Night in Soho” and “The Queen’s Gambit” star Anya Taylor-Joy. A total of 397 individuals across all aspects of filmmaking, hailing from 54 different countries, were invited for 2022. Broken down, the invitees are 44% women and 37% are people of color. All those who accept the Academy’s invitation will join the around 10,000 members who nominate and vote in the annual Academy Awards that recognize the best in film.

Source: philstar.com

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Morissette, Dave Lamar celebrate first wedding anniversary

MANILA, June 30 —— Morissette Amon and Dave Lamar recently marked their first anniversary as a married couple.

The two took to Instagram to celebrate the occasion by writing heartwarming messages to each other. Amon said their wedding day, although dampened with rains, served as a reminder of how God orchestrated their love story and got them through all the challenges. “Like an umbrella, He is the one who unites and shelters us with His love and grace. And so despite the many storms in life, with Him in the center, we will continue to dance in the rain,” she said. “Truly ‘the fire to my ember,’ you take care of me when I’ve felt like I’ve burned out and lighting me up again and again. This love of ours now within marriage has been far greater than the love we’ve had before, and we still have a long way to go,” she added. Saying their marriage has been a beautiful journey so far, Amon thanked Lamar for holding her hand with every step. “I will also continue to take care of you like the MVP that you are in my life,” she promised her husband.

On the other hand, Lamar also referenced the heavy downpour on their wedding day as something like a “foreshadowing of what was to come.” “We talk, we prepare, we plan, and we have this picture of what life will look like, but then sometimes things just happen and you have to figure out how to adjust. In the end, God is always moving and directing exactly where we should go,” he said. “If there is one thing I have learned more than ever this past year, it’s to just completely rely on God and keep Him in the center of my marriage at all times. I don’t always have the answers, but God is faithful to reveal them in His time,” he added. Lamar said he has been blessed to have Amon as his wife, and it has been a privilege for him trying to figure out life beside her. “What a ride it has been! I’m excited to see where God continues to lead. One year down and I look forward to the gift of every single day I get to spend beside this beautiful woman that I get to call my wife! Morissette mi love, gihigugma tika,” he said.

Source: news.abs-cbn.com

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SPORTS NEWS

Rodolfo Reyes Jr, Darius Venerable take MVPs in Asian Poomsae Championships

June 30 —— Rodolfo Reyes Jr. and Darius Venerable paced the charge for the Philippine national team as they bagged the Male Most Valuable Player awards for the recognized and freestyle categories, respectively, at the end of the 7th Asian Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Chuncheon, South Korea. Team Pilipinas garnered five silver and three bronze medals in the tournament.

Reyes Jr. captured two medals after taking the silver in the recognized poomsae individual male under-30 category and the bronze in the pair under-30 event with reigning two-time Southeast Asian Games champion Jocel Ninobla.

Venerable, on the other hand, pocketed two silver medals in the championships to capture his second straight MVP award. The University of Santo Tomas student-athlete earned a runner-up finish in the freestyle individual male over-17 and helped the mixed team over-17 finish in second as well.

Janna Dominique Oliva also took home two silver medals as she ended in second in the freestyle individual female over-17 and as she is likewise a part of the mixed team over-17.

Joining Venerable and Oliva in the mixed team over-17 silver medalists are 30th SEA Games champion Jeordan Dominguez, Kobe Macario, and Juvenile Crisostomo.

The other silver medal came from the recognized team male under-30 with Joaquin Tuzon, Enrico Mella, and Patrick King Perez.

Macario and Crisostomo took bronze after fourth in the freestyle poomsae pair over-17 final. Angelica Gaw, Aidaine Laxa, and Laeia Soria copped the other bronze in the recognized team female under-30.

Source: tiebreakertimes.com

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Alex Eala opens Spain 25k with one-two salvo

June 30 —— ALEX Eala, WTA 337th, was quick to make her presence felt in the W25 Palma del Rio, winning both her opening matches in singles and doubles play on Wednesday morning, Manila time. The 17-year-old Filipina defeated Chile’s Jimar Geraldine Gerald Gonzalez, 6-2, 6-0, to start strong in the solo series.

Moving to the second round, Eala awaits her opponent, the winner between second-seeded Jessika Ponchet of France, and Russian Valeria Savinyk. This $25,000 stint is already her 12th professional tournament this year as she continues to look for her third title in the Women’s after her first trophy in W15 Manacor in 2021, and then again in W25 Chiang Rai last April.

In the doubles, Eala partnered with home bet Marina Bassols Ribera, who defeated her last week to claim the W60 Madrid title. The Filipino and Spanish tennisters swept the pair of Adriana Cortes and Patricia Carretero, both from Spain, 6-0, 6-0, in the first round of the doubles to make their way to the quarterfinals. Eala and Ribera, fourth-seeded, will next face USA’s Ashely Lahey and Spain’s Marta Huqi Gonzales Encinas.

Source: spin.ph

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Top PH fencer Catantan seeks financial help for key tourney

June 30 —— After her golden foray in the recent 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, embarking on a quest to the 2024 Paris Olympics is the next step for fencing ace Samantha Catantan. But without any financial support, the Olympic dream of the 20-year-old Penn State athletic scholar might hit a snag.

Catantan, no doubt the country’s top woman fencer after gifting the national fencing team its only gold medal in the Hanoi SEA Games, needs to participate in the World Fencing Championships on July 15 to July 23 in Cairo, Egypt, to keep her Paris ambition alive. “If I don’t join that tournament, the [Olympic qualifying] points that I gained in the AFC (Asian Fencing Championships) could be wasted,’’ said Catantan, who collected valuable ranking points after placing 13th in the women’s foil during the AFC last June 10 to June 15 in Seoul, South Korea.

Catantan, who is raising $3,000 (roughly P165,000) for the Cairo trip, said she needs to participate in the Cairo meet to further jack up her ranking points. “That’s why I’m asking for help. I know there are private companies that love sports. They don’t just have a soft spot for those in need, but the heart to help Filipino athletes like me who dream of becoming an Olympian,’’ said Catantan.

The request of the national fencing team for Catantan’s funding has no response yet from the Philippine Sports Commission, which will enter a process of transition on Thursday from the current administration to the new one under incoming President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Source: sports.inquirer.net