Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, September 15, 2023.
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CLOSE to 30 Chinese fishing vessels have been massing at several locations in the West Philippine Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command reported on Thursday. The renewed swarming of Chinese boats could further fuel the already volatile situation in the W.P.S. where incursions by Chinese coast guard and maritime militia have become more frequent. Wescom said aerial patrols conducted on September 6 and 7 spotted 23 C.F.V’s in Rozul (Iroquois) Reef, five in Escoda (Sabina) Shoal, and two in Baragatan (Nares) Bank, which is about 100 nautical miles from Palawan province. Escoda Shoal serves as a marker for the approach to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, where Chinese ships have been shadowing and harassing boats delivering supplies to the Philippine military station there, Wescom said.
THE Department of Information and Communications Technology revealed that several of the subscriber identification module (SIM) cards it had confiscated were linked to some 1 billion pesos worth of money and cryptocurrency scams. D.I.C.T. Secretary Ivan John Uy said that the SIM cards were seized during raids conducted by security authorities during the last two months. Uy said the cards were among more than 25,000 SIM cards seized during a raid on a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator facility in Pasay City.
PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sees brighter bilateral relations with Singapore since there are no “significant issues” between the neighboring countries. The President made the statement on Wednesday at the 10th Asia Summit, a roundtable with prominent Singaporean business leaders hosted by the think tank Milken Institute. He said the relationship between Singapore and the Philippines starts at the people-to-people level, which has been the bedrock of all the other agreements, partnerships and alliances that have since been forged.
THE word war between Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte over Duterte’s confidential funds is far from over. On Thursday, Hontiveros issued a “strongly worded” video addressed to Duterte in response to the latter’s tirade against her for demanding transparency on how she used her C.F’s. The Office of the Vice President sought a 500-million peso C.F. to streamline its operations, while the Department of Education asked for 150 million pesos so it could conduct surveillance on threat groups reportedly recruiting students. Duterte on Tuesday singled out Hontiveros and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro when she issued an earlier statement against those questioning O.V.P.’s use of C.F’s in 2022.
SEVEN out of 10 Filipinos believe that the country is heading toward the right direction, a survey by OCTA Research Group has shown. In its Tugon ng Masa survey conducted from July 22 to 26, 2023, 72 percent of respondents said the Philippines is on the correct path. Only 11 percent think otherwise, while 16 percent are undecided. The figure showed a 13 percent decline from the 85 percent reported in the October 2022 Tugon survey and a 4 percent decline since March 2023. The number of those who think that the country is moving in the wrong direction is almost the same, from 10 percent in March to 11 percent in July. Broken down into major areas, Mindanao registered the highest percentage of optimism for the Philippines with 78 percent, followed by the National Capital Region with 74 percent.
Headlining business, last month’s higher-than-expected inflation by itself is not enough reason to resume hiking key interest rates, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Eli Remolona Jr. said on Thursday. Inflation rose to 5.3 percent in August from 4.7 percent a month earlier, snapping a six-month downtrend. It fell within the Central Bank’s 4.8- to 5.8-percent forecast but topped an analyst consensus of 4.9 percent. A rapid increase in food prices along with increased transportation costs were blamed for the acceleration. Rice inflation, in particular, rose to 8.7 percent from 4.2 percent in July. Surging inflation prompted the B.S.P.’s policymaking Monetary Board to raise key interest rates by a total of 425 basis points beginning May last year. The central bank’s policy rate as a result currently stands at a 16-year high of 6.25 percent. A pause — since extended during the last two policy meetings — was ordered in May after inflation began easing from January’s 14-year high of 8.7 percent. Many analysts expect rates to be kept unchanged when monetary authorities again meet next Thursday, September 21.
Over to sports, former Philippine National Shooting Association president and chairman emeritus Luis “Chavit” Singson wants the shooting body investigated over the missing clay targets and the inclusion of “unqualified shooters” for the 19th Asian Games slated from September 23 to August 8 in Hangzhou, China. Singson and another former shooter Raul Arambulo cited the inclusion of Jake Ancheta to the Philippine team in the Asian Games. They said Ancheta “did not even finish in the recent World Cup Shotgun in Lonato, Italy.” Their intense level of disapproval on Ancheta is the same as their support for the 22-year-old Carlo Valdez, whom they said should be in the national team for the Asian Games instead. Valdez emerged as winner in six out of the eight national qualifiers but the current P.N.S.A. administration, led by its current president Michael Dy, did not include him for the Asian Games. Valdez also ranked seventh and ninth in the 10-meter Olympic air pistol and mixed team and individual events where he scored 575 out of 600 points, respectively.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Rigoberto Tiglao and Francisco Tatad are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao re-analyzes the attacks on September 11, 2001, while Tatad asks if Filipinos should continue eating rice.
Today’s editorial believes the degradation of soil threatens food security. Read the full version in the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.
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