Posts by ALFI54

    Hackers have begun exposing on the dark web some Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) data — including details on employees — after failing to get ransom money from the government, an official confirmed on Tuesday.

    Initial analysis showed that among the information published were PhilHealth employees’ identification cards, including Government Service Insurance System IDs, said Undersecretary Jeffrey Dy of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

    Dy also said they saw on the dark web copies of employees’ payroll and other details such as “their regional offices, memos, directives, working files, [and] hospital bills.”

    “In terms of PII (personal identifiable information), we saw some IDs, pictures, which we cannot ascertain at the moment if they are Philhealth employees, or members,” the official wrote in a message.

    He said these appear to be “teasers” from hackers, who might still be waiting for the government to accede to their ransom demand.

    The dark web — which may be accessed only through a specialized web browser — uses technology that allows users to stay anonymous. Because of this, while that part of the internet is legal, it is also used for criminal activities, including the sale and purchase of prohibited items and illegally acquired materials, such drugs, pornography, and stolen identities.

    Earlier, the DICT said the cybercriminals have asked for $300,000 (roughly ₱17 million) in exchange for handing over decryption keys, as well as deleting and not publishing the data they illegally obtained.

    The government said it will stick to its policy of not paying any ransom to hackers.

    Were members’ data compromised?

    Both the DICT and PhilHealth said the members’ database – which contains their private information, claims, contribution and accreditation details – remains “intact” as it was not part of the servers affected by the Medusa ransomware attack.

    But this doesn’t necessarily ensure hackers were not able to obtain members’ information.

    Authorities explained this is because the same details in the database may have also been available in the other servers which were affected by the hacking.

    “It seems the Philhealth workstations and some other servers such as training servers affected by Medusa may have contained these information,” Dy wrote.

    PhilHealth said it is still determining if the data acquired by hackers include personal details on its members.

    The state insurer made the clarification after posting an urgent notice to the public on Monday night, saying it believes members’ personal data "were compromised” and that it is working to notify all affected individuals directly.

    “The said notice is in faithful and substantial compliance to the requirement of the National Privacy Commission to proactively reach out to and inform data subjects who may be affected by the malicious posts of the attackers,” the corporation said.…-members-info-leaked.html

    Fighting in the streets of Manila Philippines, Feb. 1899

    Philippine American War, a curious picture in the streets of Manila. They almost look casual. The man standing with the pistol in hand looks to be a prime target. Probably no way of knowing for sure but the picture looks to be a mocked staged fight. The photographer, P. Fremont Rockett, was an offical photogrpher of he 12th Kansas Regiment US Volunteers

    For a large picture go here:…well/25814001854/sizes/o/

    Text to the picture:

    Firing in Streets of Manila. The military authorities were constantly on the lookout for an uprising, but not until Feb17th was there serious trouble. Insurgents set fire to a large portion of Manila and firing became general from housetops and in the streets. To protect themselves our boys made hasty breastworks in the principal thoroughfares and during the night one hundred and twelve of the enemy were killed.

    Illustration from and old book:

    “Our boys in the Philippines; a pictorial history of the war, and general views of the Philippines, the natives, industries, habits, etc.”

    by P. Fremont Rockett

    Publisher San Francisco, P. F. Rockett, 1899

    Book contributor: The US Library of Congress

    Possible copyright status: The Library of Congress is unaware of any copyright restrictions for this item.

    A note containing a bomb threat delayed 12 domestic flights at the Bicol International Airport on Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.

    The CAAP said the note was found inside the lavatory of Cebu Pacific (CEB) flight 5J326, which was scheduled to depart for Manila at 10:45 a.m.

    A police bomb disposal unit inspected the plane.

    CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said 10 CEB and two Philippine Airlines flights were briefly grounded.

    Apolonio said that investigation is ongoing and "updates will be provided as the situation develops."…-domestic-flights/1912858

    .... Viele von den Damen waren schon 10 bis 15 Jahre nicht mehr auf den Phil. der Grund dafuer, die Eltern sind verstorben und die Abzocke der Geschwister hat dadurch zugenommen. Es erzaehlten mir einige, wenn sie 4 Wochen Urlaub auf den Phil. machten brauchten sie 10000,- Euro plus Flug, .....

    Es ist die immerwährende Diskussion über Vor- resp. Nachteile der Phils.

    Wenn man mal nur auf die Kosten schaut, zumindest so wie ich mir mein Leben vorstelle, dann sind die Philippinen nicht mehr interessant.

    Diese Erkenntnis kam mir schlagartig zu Corona-Zeiten, wo wir nach Portugal auswichen. Das Kostenniveau war 2020 identisch zu den Phils, wobei der Planungsaufwand nur ein Bruchteil der Zeit in Anspruch nahm (Flüge / Mietauto / Hotels).

    Wenn ich mir nun noch einen Businessflug für 2 Personnen auf die Phils vorstelle, meine Frau ja auch nicht zurück will, das Mietauto vorort eher schon wieder ein Aufwand ist, dann komme ich ins grübeln. Aber richtig.

    Rezent habe ich mir Mietpreise von Häusern in La Union angeschaut. Was phil. Eigentümer so an Preisvorstellungen haben, da komme ich ins staunen.

    Deine Bekannten sind ja auch alle eher im Seniorenalter. Mit Sicherheit auch mit einigen med. Vorbelastungen. Rechnen können sie doch alle. Diese Vorbehalte zur Rückkehr in die Heimat kann ich aus dem Bekanntenkreis meiner Frau nur bestätigen. Das Interesse an den Phils ist eher klein, vielleicht mal einen Kurzurlaub, aber dann geht es zurück nach Europa. Auch wegen der med. Betreuung.

    LG Alf

    President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the release of a ₱5,000 subsidy to small-scale rice farmers – from a fund totaling ₱12.7 billion – to help them amid El Niño and other agricultural challenges, Malacañang said on Saturday.

    The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Marcos gave his go signal on Thursday, a move that would aid around 2.3 million beneficiaries of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program.

    “[This would] help them cope with the increasing cost of production and sustain their productivity even in the face of challenges like the coming El Niño


    Periodically, the regional tripartite wages and productivity boards under the Department of Labor and Employment release incremental increases in minimum wages in their respective regions’ private sector.

    These increases are usually a product of lobbying among labor groups, especially given fluctuating inflation rates and ever-present struggles among poorer Filipinos to afford a comfortable quality of living. (IN CHARTS: State of job quality, wages in the Philippines)

    The National Wages and Productivity’s mission, as written on its website, is to set minimum wages that protect vulnerable workers from “undue low pay.”

    Here are the current minimum wages across regions – daily for private establishments, and monthly for domestic workers:

    Metro Manila

    Effective July 16, 2023:

    • Non-agriculture: P610
    • Agriculture: P573
    • Service and retail establishments employing 15 workers or less: P573
    • Manufacturing sectors regularly employing less than 10 workers: P573

    Effective July 13, 2022:

    • Domestic workers: P6,000
    Cordillera Administrative Region

    Effective January 1, 2023:

    • All sectors (except domestic workers) and provinces: P400

    Effective June 14, 2022:

    • Domestic workers: P4,500
    Ilocos Region

    Effective on or before March 1, 2023

    • Non-agriculture
      • 30 or more employees: P400
      • 10 to 29 employees: P400
      • 1 to 9 employees: P372
    • Agriculture: P372

    Effective June 6, 2022:

    • Domestic workers: P5,000
    Cagayan Valley

    Effective October 16, 2023:

    1. Non-agriculture: P435
    2. Agriculture: P415
    3. Domestic workers: P5,500
    Central Luzon

    Effective October 16, 2023:

    • Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales
      • Non-agriculture
        • Establishments with 10 or more workers: P500
        • Establishments with less than 10 workers: P493
      • Agriculture
        • Plantation: P470
        • Non-plantation: P454
      • Service and retail
        • Establishments with 10 or more workers: P489
        • Establishments with less than 10 workers: P475
    • Aurora
      • Non-agriculture: P449
      • Agriculture
        • Plantation: P434
        • Non-plantation: P422
      • Service and retail: P384

    Effective June 20, 2022:

    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and first class municipalities: P5,000
      • Other municipalities: P4,500

    Effective September 24, 2023:

    • Extended Metropolitan Area
      • Non-agriculture: P520
      • Agriculture: P479
    • Component cities (non-agriculture and agriculture): P479
    • 1st class municipalities
      • Non-agriculture: P479
      • Agriculture: P425
    • 2nd and 3rd class municipalities
      • Non-agriculture: P425
      • Agriculture: P385
    • 4th, 5th, and 6th class municipalities (non-agriculture and agriculture): P385
    • Service and retail establishments employing not more than 10 workers (across all areas): P385

    Effective July 16, 2022:

    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and first class municipalities: P5,000
      • Other municipalities: P4,000

    Effective June 10, 2022:

    • All sectors (except domestic workers)
      • Establishments with 10 or more workers: P355
      • Establishments with less than 10 workers: P329
    • Domestic workers: P4,500

    Effective June 18, 2022:

    • All sectors (except domestic workers): P365
    • Domestic workers: P4,000
    Western Visayas

    Effective June 5, 2022:

    • Non-agriculture
      • Establishments with more than 10 workers: P450
      • Establishments with 10 workers or less: P420
    • Agriculture: P410
    • Domestic workers: P4,500
    Central Visayas

    Effective October 1, 2023:

    • Class A (Carcar, Cebu City, Danao, Lapulapu, Mandaue, Naga, Talisay, Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, San Fernando)
      • Non-agriculture: P468
      • Agriculture, and non-agriculture establishments with less than 10 workers: P458
    • Class B (Bais, Bayawan, Bogo, Canlaon, Dumaguete, Guihulngan, Tagbilaran, Tanjay, Toledo)
      • Non-agriculture: P430
      • Agriculture, and non-agriculture establishments with less than 10 workers: P425
    • Class C (municipalities not under Class A and B)
      • Non-agriculture: P420
      • Agriculture, and non-agriculture establishments with less than 10 workers: P415

    Effective June 14, 2022:

    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and first class municipalities: P5,500
      • Other municipalities: P4,500
    Eastern Visayas

    Effective January 2, 2023:

    • Non-agriculture: P375
    • Service and retail
      • Establishments with more than 10 workers: P375
      • Establishments with 10 workers or less: P345
    • Cottage and handicraft: P345
    • Agriculture: P345

    Effective June 27, 2022:

    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and first class municipalities: P5,000
      • Other municipalities: P4,500
    Zamboanga Peninsula

    Effective on or before October 1, 2022:

    • Non-agriculture: P351
    • Agriculture, and service and retail
      • Establishments with 31 workers or more: P351
      • Establishments with 1 to 30 workers: P338

    Effective June 25, 2022:

    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and first class municipalities: P4,000
      • Other municipalities: P3,500
    Northern Mindanao

    Effective December 16, 2022:

    • Non-agriculture
      • Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Jasaan, Malaybalay, Valencia, Gingoog, El Salvador, Ozamiz, Opol, Maramag, Quezon, Manolo Fortich, and Lugait: P405
      • All other areas, and service and retail establishments with 10 or less workers: P390
    • Agriculture
      • Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Tagoloan, Villanueva, Jasaan, Malaybalay, Valencia, Gingoog, El Salvador, Ozamiz, Opol, Maramag, Quezon, Manolo Fortich, and Lugait: P393
      • All other areas, and service and retail establishments with 10 or less workers: P378

    Effective June 18, 2022:

    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and first class municipalities: P4,500
      • Other municipalities: P3,500
    Davao Region

    Effective on or before April 1, 2023:

    • Non-agriculture: P443
    • Agriculture: P438

    Effective June 20, 2022:

    • Domestic workers: P4,500

    Effective October 16, 2023:

    • Non-agriculture: P390
    • Agriculture, and service and retail: P369
    • Domestic workers
      • Cities and 1st class municipalities: P5,000
      • Other municipalities: P4,500

    Effective on or before September 1, 2022:

    • Butuan City, and provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur: P350
    • Dinagat Islands and Surigao Del Norte: P350
    • Domestic workers: P4,000
    Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

    Effective July 21, 2022:

    • Provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan
      • Non-agriculture: P316
      • Agriculture: P306
    • Cotabato City and the special geographic area
      • Non-agriculture: P341
      • Agriculture: P316…inimum-wages-philippines/

    The China Coast Guard (CCG) has installed a 300-meter-long floating barrier in the southeast portion of Scarborough Shoal, preventing Philippine fishing boats from entering the area, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Sunday.

    Personnel of the PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on board BRP Datu Bankaw discovered the floating barrier during a maritime patrol last Sept. 22.

    The PCG said during the routine patrol, the BFAR observed more than 50 Philippine fishing boats at the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc. The BFAR provided them with grocery items and fuel subsidy to sustain their operations. However, CCG-3105 vessel initiated 15 radio challenges to drive away the BFAR vessel and fishing boats.

    “The CCG crew alleged that the presence of the BFAR vessel and Filipino fishermen violated international law and the domestic laws of the People's Republic of China,” the PCG said in a statement.

    “Three CCG Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats and Chinese Maritime Militia’s service boat installed the floating barrier upon arrival of the BFAR vessel in the vicinity of the shoal,” it added.

    The PCG said, according to the fishermen, CCG vessels “usually install floating barriers whenever they monitor a large number of Filipino fishermen in the area.”

    "The Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources strongly condemn the China Coast Guard’s installation of floating barrier in the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc," the PCG said.

    In a press briefing, spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Jay Tarriela stressed that the floating barrier is a “navigational hazard.”

    “Ang tendency, if you're going to insist on going to the shoal, maaaring kainin ng propeller ‘yung mga net na nasa ilalim,” he said.

    [Translation: The tendency is, if you're going to insist on going to the shoal, the propeller might catch the net underneath.]

    Tarriela said underwater cameras showed that small buoys kept the barrier afloat.

    He said Filipino fishermen could still fish in areas surrounding the Scarborough Shoal.…/scarborough-barrier.html

    Authorities are now again urging the public in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to wear face masks, especially outdoors, due to smog and vog (air pollution from volcanic emissions) caused by the continued unrest of Taal Volcano.

    But both the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) clarified on Friday that the smog in Metro Manila was not caused by Taal, but, rather, by the air pollution in the metropolis, coupled with a natural phenomenon called “temperature inversion”—which basically traps smog and other particulate matter closer to the ground.“


    Read more:…sks-back-on#ixzz8E6UmKwp1

    The Department of Health (DOH) in Calabarzon is under “code white” alert, which means medical experts are on standby, as 50 people fell ill from Taal vog or volcanic particles in the air.

    “We have raised the alert status due to persistent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission that is causing smog or vog from Taal Volcano in Batangas,” said DOH Regional Director Ariel Valencia in a statement on Friday.

    The code white alert will be from Sept. 21 to 24.

    The department said a code white alert calls for “the readiness of the hospital workforce such as general and orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, internist, operating room nurses, ophthalmologist, and otorhinolaryngologist to respond to any emergency situation.”

    As of Sept. 22, the department reported a total of 50 people from Batangas who “experienced respiratory distress” due to vog exposure.

    Of the total health cases, 45 were from the municipality of Tuy, four from Nasugbu, and one from Lian, all in Batangas. The patients were brought to the nearest health facilities.

    “There are reported individuals (students) na hinimatay at nakaranas ng hirap sa paghinga at pananakit ng dibdib. We are still collecting reports from the local health kung ilan ang total affected,” Valencia said.

    [Translation: There were reported individuals (students) who fainted and experienced difficulty breathing and chest pain. We are still collecting reports from the local health on the total number of those affected]

    RELATED: Batangas distributes face masks as Taal volcano smog affects residents, students

    The DOH advised people in communities affected by the vog to stay indoors, close doors and windows, wear an N95 mask outdoors, drink plenty of water, and immediately go to the nearest hospital if necessary.

    The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) warned that the vog may remain over areas near Taal as it continues to release sulfur dioxide under alert level 1 status.

    The DOST, however, noted that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) does not see Taal’s alert level rising, and said there are no signs of a possible sudden eruption.

    In 2021, Phivolcs also reported vog over parts of Calabarzon, attributing the haze to Taal’s sudden eruption in January 2020.…n-Taal-volcanic-smog.html

    The Office of Transportation Security (OTS) has been directed to “immediately file” charges against the security screening personnel who stole money from passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

    This came after authorities confirmed the incident involving a female OTS personnel swallowing $300 worth of bills that she reportedly took from the wallet of a departing passenger.

    The female security screening officer took the passenger’s shoulder bag for a manual inspection while the passenger was passing through an X-ray scanner, according to the Manila Bulletin. CCTV footage from September 8 then showed the screening officer turning away from the passenger while tucking something in her waist area.

    After this, the officer operating the X-ray machine was seen handing the screening officer a bottle of water. The female officer then proceeded to try to swallow the bills, even as her supervisor “was seemingly communicating with her as the latter was obviously almost choking in her effort to swallow the dollar bills while using her hanky to cover her mouth,” a report by airport authorities said.

    The report concluded that the officer had “intent to gain” the stolen money. It also suggested the X-ray officer and their supervisor were in connivance with the female officer.

    After the investigation, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista authorized slapping the guilty personnel with the “maximum penalty” to show the department’s push “to rid NAIA as well as other attached agencies of scalawags.”

    He also asked DOTr Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Reinier Yebra to help in filing complaints against those who connived with the female screening officer.

    “The OTS, under the stewardship of the DOTr, will ensure that administrative case will be filed against erring personnel. In fact, the administrative case is now with the OTS Legal Service for further investigation,” an OTS representative told Rappler.

    Meanwhile, the OTS said it was also coordinating with the Philippine National Police’s Aviation Security Group to assist the passenger, should he elect to file a criminal case against the security personnel. It is unclear, however, whether anyone will be charged with theft since the passenger previously expressed unwillingness to file a criminal case, according to a report by the Manila Bulletin.

    This is now the third highly publicized theft by airport security personnel at NAIA in 2023 – a bad look as the government tries to court investors to rehabilitate the ailing international gateway. Earlier this year, airport security personnel were found stealing money from a Thai tourist. Five days later, another NAIA screening officer was arrested for stealing a Chinese passenger’s watch.…-maximum-penalty-charges/

    President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has certified as urgent a measure that aims to give the government more teeth against individuals profiting from agricultural economic sabotage.

    According to a Palace statement, the president certified as urgent the approval of Senate Bill No. 2432 on Wednesday, a letter of which was sent to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

    Aside from smuggling, the bill seeks to expand crimes to be considered as economic sabotage, which would include hoarding, profiteering, and cartels of agricultural and fishery products.

    In an attempt to end these practices, Malacañang said the measure plans to impose “severe sanctions,” such as life imprisonment and a fine thrice the value of the agricultural and fishery products.

    Authorities would also have the right to seize the subject products, as well as the properties used in launching the crime, like vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and warehouses, among others.

    Government officers or officials determined to have connived in the crime would also “suffer the additional penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, exercising the right to vote, from participating in any public election, and forfeiture of employment monetary and financial benefits,” the bill stated.

    Senators earlier expressed hope to pass the law before Christmas.

    Lawmaker questions proposed penalty

    During Wednesday's Senate hearing on the bill, Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel said he supports stricter measures to eliminate smuggling and other economic crimes.

    However, Pimentel noted that they still need to be "conscious" about the bill of rights of people suspected of having committed the crimes.

    "I've noticed that our bill only prescribes one penalty as far as the deprivation of liberty is concerned," he said, which Senator Cynthia Villar referred to as “life imprisonment.”

    "Kasi sa Revised Penal Code, may concept tayo na principal, accomplice, accessory. Si principal po talaga 'yung gumawa nung action na kriminal, 'yung iba tumulong. Ito po ba, 'yung ganung klaseng levels of criminal liability ay buburahin basta masabing nakatulong ka sa taong nag-smuggle? Life imprisonment din ang parusa sa kanya?" Pimentel asked.

    [Translation: Because in the Revised Penal Code, we have the concept of principal, accomplice, accessory. The principal is really the one who committed the criminal action, the others just helped. Will this kind of level of criminal liability be removed if the person helped in smuggling? Is life imprisonment also the punishment for him?]

    Villar defended the proposed measure, saying this was necessary as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law passed in 2016 failed to even file one case after seven years of enactment.

    "We're so disappointed that we have decided to pass a more strict law so that there will be at least one or two or three persons who will be punished under this law," she said.

    Senator Francis Escudero also raised concerns on recent news about the Bureau of Customs conducting raids on possible smuggled rice supply, and yet no names of people behind these have emerged.…al-economic-sabotage.html

    House Speaker Martin Romualdez said they could recommend the suspension of excise tax on petroleum products to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other economic managers if prices continue to climb.

    Lawmakers met with representatives of oil companies on Monday to discuss the proposal.

    "We are very much open to making suggestions as clear and direct as even making recommendations to the Office of the President and to the economic managers to consider the suspension of excise taxes on oil on the basis that if it reaches a certain price," said Romualdez.

    "So kung pumalo na ng $80 baka pwedeng i-consider [If it hits $80 a barrel perhaps we can consider] to have a temporary suspension of excise taxes," he added

    Lawmakers are also thinking of buying oil early in the coming months when prices are expected to rise even more.

    "We can already perhaps even explore buying early or in advance and not wait until December. Baka [Maybe] we can get better prices by securing our oil requirements by making advance purchases or orders," Romualdez said.

    However, Department of Energy Undersecretary Sharon Garin said this needs further study.

    Aside from oil industry players, officials from the Energy and Finance departments also attended the meeting.

    The government could lose ₱4.9 billion once the collection of excise tax on petroleum products is suspended. However, if this is done, prices could drop to as much as P10 per liter. Another ₱4 could be shaved off if the requirement to mix ethanol with oil products is suspended as well.

    However, according to Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, suspending taxes should be studied carefully as it could affect government's earnings.

    "Kapag nag-suspend tayo ng taxes, ibig sabihin niyan there are foregone revenues. And when you forego revenues, ibig sabihin mawawalan tayo ng suporta para sa spending," she said.

    [Translation: If we suspend taxes, that would mean foregone revenues. And when you forego revenues, this means there would be less support for spending.]

    She said there are available funds that can be used to give assistance to sectors affected by the price increases.

    "Marami pa namang existing unutilized funds to support our consumers. Marami pa tayong natitirang pondo for fuel subsidies. Naka-lodge ito sa DOTr. Meron din tayong pondo sa DA. At the same time, meron pa tayong ibang mga subsidies na natitira sa DSWD," the lawmaker added.

    [Translation: There are many other existing unutilized funds to support our consumers. We have other remaining funds for fuel subsidies. This is with the DOTr. There are funds with the DA. At the same time, there are other subsidies with the DSWD.]

    The House leadership and oil industry players will meet again next week.

    Lawmakers now want to know what oil companies can do to lessen the impact of continued oil price increases on the public.

    Congress' recommendations on the suspension of excise taxes could be ironed out before session adjourns by the end of September.…companies-excise-tax.html

    Miss Philippines unveiled on Thursday, September 15, the candidates set to compete in its inaugural pageant.

    Each delegate posed before a blue backdrop as seen in the official photos posted on the pageant’s social media pages.

    “Do you think she has what it takes to be the influencer who can use her voice and influence to promote the culture and heritage of the Philippines?” the caption wrote.

    Twenty-one candidates will be competing for a chance to represent the Philippines in three global pageants: Miss Charm, Miss Supranational, and Miss Asia Pacific International.…lippines-2023-candidates/

    At least eight countries are interested in conducting joint patrols with the Philippines at the West Philippine Sea amid continued Chinese aggression in the disputed waters.

    Armed Forces Chief Romeo Brawner Jr., disclosed this at the sidelines of the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) meeting at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday.

    He said aside from the United States, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, India, France, Canada and Singapore have expressed similar intent for the joint sails.

    Brawner did not give details but "definitely that is in our plan and right now we are in the process of working with the other countries."…st-ph-sea-brawner/1910202

    The Philippines was named the world's top rice importer for the marketing year 2022-2023, according to the latest report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    The USDA's "Grain: World Markets and Trade" revealed that the country has approved the importation of 3.9 million metric tons (MT) of rice from January 2022 to December 2023.

    It surpassed China's rice importation at 3.5 million MT during the same period. China was hailed as a consistent top rice importer since 2019.

    "In 2008, top importer the Philippines continuously bought larger volumes as prices escalated. This year, it is delaying purchases, awaiting lower prices," the report read.

    For January 2023 to August 2024, the Philippines is seen to slightly decrease its importation by 100,000 MT while China is expected to increase its importation by 500,000 MT, regaining world's top rice importer spot.

    In terms of milled rice production, the Philippines lags behind at 12.631 million MT from China's 145.946 million MT and India's 136 million MT production for the year 2022-2023.

    Thailand and Vietnam are reportedly the top two sources of imported rice in the Philippines in 2023.

    Rice price cap

    President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who also heads the Department of Agriculture, ordered the price ceiling on rice after the government detected a surge in prices.

    The executive order states that regular milled rice may only be sold for up to ₱41 per kilo, while the price ceiling on well-milled rice is at ₱45 per kilo. Its implementation began on Sept. 5.

    The directive drew mixed reactions from lawmakers and various farmers’ groups.

    Some said the price cap would not stabilize grain prices and only hurt small-scale retailers in the long run. But others said it has contributed to the drop in global rice prices.…hina-in-rice-imports.html

    The Philippines is the most dangerous place for environmentalists in Asia, according to a Global Witness report released Wednesday.

    The environmental group also ranked the Philippines as the fifth most unsafe country for environmentalists in the world.

    “The majority of recorded killings in 2022 took place in Latin America, home to 88% of lethal attacks. Other deadly countries last year within the region include Brazil, with 34 killings, Mexico with 31, and Honduras with 14. A total of 11 defenders were killed in the Philippines,” Global Witness said on their website.

    In 2022, a total of 177 environmentalists were killed worldwide, according to the non-government organization.

    Based on the Global Witness report, the countries with the highest number of environmentalists killed in 2022 are:

    1. Colombia: 60
    2. Brazil: 34
    3. Mexico: 31
    4. Honduras: 14
    5. Philippines: 11
    6. Venezuela: 4
    7. Peru: 3
    8. Paraguay: 3
    9. Nicaragua: 3
    10. Indonesia: 3
    11. India: 2
    12. Congo: 2
    13. Guatemala: 2
    14. Madagascar: 1
    15. South Africa: 1
    16. Ecuador: 1
    17. Malawi: 1
    18. Dominican Republic: 1

    The report also mentioned the names of slain Filipino environmentalists: Lumad teacher Chad Booc, Gelejurain Ngujo II, Elgyn Balonga, Robert Aragon, Tirso Añar, Joseph Jimenez, Ericson Acosta, Silvestre Fortades Jr., Rose Marie Galias, and Eugene Lastrella. has reached out to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a comment on this report but it has referred the writer to investigative bodies like the Philippine National Police.

    Read more:…asia-report#ixzz8DAN1hEO0

    The National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday said an updated Philippine map showing the country's maritime entitlements is underway to counter China's map showing its controversial 10-dash line.

    "This is something that we have been working on already, we hope to be able to make an announcement very soon…we are seriously considering it and we already have something in the works," NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya told CNN Philippines' The Source.

    The Philippines in August filed a protest against China after the latter released its updated standard map showing 10 dashes that form a U shape, claiming nearly the entire South China Sea as part of its territory. The area overlaps with the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the Philippines, as well as those of Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

    Malaya said the Philippines' updated map is still undergoing an approval process, but this will conform to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Arbitral Award.

    This landmark ruling invalidated China's expansive claims in the South China Sea, with the arbitral tribunal largely ruling in favor of Manila in its EEZ and continental shelf that are being claimed by Beijing.

    Malaya said the map may also reflect the Philippine Rise award which is the extended continental shelf on the eastern side of the country.

    The Philippine Rise, formerly called the Benham Rise, is a 13-million hectare underwater plateau near Aurora and is believed to be a good source of natural gas and other resources.

    Asked about the development, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said he agrees with the crafting of such a map.

    “Yes, we should have our own map showing our EEZ and extended continental shelf in the WPS (West Philippine Sea),” he said.…nes-new-standard-map.html

    Journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa and her news outlet Rappler Holdings Corporation gained victory in their final tax violation charge filed during the Duterte administration.

    The Pasig Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 157 announced the acquittal of Ressa and Rappler Tuesday morning, with the last case linked to the company's value-added tax return for the second quarter of 2015 amounting to about ₱300,000.

    They are now cleared of all five tax violation charges, nearly five years after facing this bout under the Duterte regime. A veteran journalist, Ressa is known for being critical of then-President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.

    Last January, the Court of Tax Appeals also acquitted Ressa and Rappler of the other four tax violations stemming from allegations the company acquired taxable income that it did not declare, and thus incurred obligations when it issued Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to foreign investors North Base Media and Omidyar Network in 2015.

    The government also accused them of willfully failing to supply correct information in their income tax and value-added tax returns for 2015.

    Rappler, however, has long insisted that the issuance of PDRs was meant to raise capital and not for profit.

    It also maintained that it is 100% Filipino-owned.

    The Pasig court dismissed the PDR transactions as “investment activities that were in line with RHC’s primary purpose as a holding company of RI (Rappler Inc.).” It added that since Rappler did not sell the PDRs to gain profit, but to raise funds, the firm was “not liable to pay VAT on these transactions.”

    “It must be inevitably concluded that RHC and Ms. Ressa did not violate Section 255 of the Tax Code… RHC and Ms. Ressa are thus absolved from any criminal or civil liability in this case,” the document read.

    The order was signed by Presiding Judge Ana Teresa T. Cornejo-Tomacruz.

    In a statement on Tuesday, Rappler said the tax cases filed against the company were merely based “on false and flimsy premise.”

    Reacting to the ruling, it said the acquittal was not only a win for the company “but for everyone who has kept the faith that a free and responsible press empowers communities and strengthens democracy.”

    “We share this with our colleagues in the industry who have been besieged by relentless online attacks, unjust arrests and detentions, and red-tagging that have resulted in physical harm,” Rappler said.

    “We share this with Filipinos doing business for social good but who, like us, have suffered at the hands of oppressive governments,” it added.

    The media company urged Filipinos to “continue to #HoldTheLine together.”

    In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Balitaan, Ressa said all the cases filed against them were “meant to stop us from doing our work.”

    “The government tried to shut us down. It felt like the world was upside down. It was weaponizing the law,” she said.

    She also said that if the prosecution tries to re-appeal, it would be double jeopardy.…nal-tax-evasion-case.html

    It’s too early to conclude after only 11 months that the subscriber identity module (SIM) registration law is a failed experiment, but even its defenders must admit that it is teetering close to it. Since its enactment in October 2022, the envisioned benefits of the SIM Registration Act have borne little fruit, and any sign of progress has been muted at best.

    At worst, it is fast turning into another example of a good piece of legislation rendered toothless by its implementation, a familiar ending for laws made in the Philippines.

    For one, the online or mobile fraudsters that Republic Act No. 11934 was designed to catch are now running circles around law enforcers, regulators, and telecom companies, with phone users still receiving unsolicited messages embedded with phishing attacks. For another, authorities empowered by the law to track down anonymous perpetrators are foiled by the ease with which their targets can use fraudulent identities to obtain and register SIM cards, discarding these once their nefarious deed is done.

    Nowhere was this more evident than during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate public services committee when the chief of the National Bureau of Investigation’s cybercrime division, Jeremy Lotoc, revealed that his agents had tested the telcos’ system by enlisting SIM cards using photos of animals, including a grinning monkey.

    The result: The monkey became the bearer of a registered SIM card.

    “We entered the face of an animal with different names and it was still accepted,” Lotoc said. He showed the Senate body a sample application with the primate’s face on it, a comically absurd picture that left the lawmakers aghast.

    That’s only one demonstration of how flaws in the registration process can be exploited by cybercriminals, making a mockery of what had been touted as the solution to online and mobile fraud. The government and the private sector, particularly the telcos, must work together to plug those loopholes post haste.

    As the first law signed by President Marcos, RA 11934 had spurred hope of curbing widespread text scams, including spam messages of fake lottery winnings or too-good-to-be-true job offers that entice users to click on malicious links and give criminals access to users’ digital wallets or bank accounts.In almost a year, some 113.97 million SIM cards are now registered with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) after a series of grace periods, exceeding the target set by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

    It bears mentioning that to date, we have yet to hear of documented cases of SIM registration being used to sell subscribers’ private data to marketers, or of authorities weaponizing it to spy on activists and dissenters, as critics of the law had feared, prompting them to petition the Supreme Court to strike it down. As the high tribunal deliberates on those touchy issues, the public must remain watchful so that the doubters’ dire warnings are not realized.

    In the meantime, the ballooning digital crimes cannot be ignored, as the modus operandi of their masterminds grow more sophisticated each day. On Tuesday, Sen. Grace Poe, an author of RA 11934, remarked: “If the scammers have become creative, we [in government] should be more creative.

    “While we do not discount the warnings and notices sent by the agencies and telcos to the public, we must go above and beyond if we are to combat this plague in our telecom system,” she said.

    Poe’s committee had launched an inquiry on the proliferation of scams despite the lapse of the registration period and the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

    What they found was worrying: SIM cards aren’t only being used to send out phishing attacks, but even Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) firms are cashing in on them, too. Some 107,000 unregistered and pre-registered SIM cards were being used for “love scam” operations, which came to light following raids on Pogo hubs in Las Piñas and Pasay cities.

    These aren’t isolated incidents, either, because despite the passage of RA 11934, crimes using SIM cards have not declined at all. In fact, the number rose by 190 percent in the first half of 2023. Some 4,104 such cases were recorded by the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group, compared with 1,415 from the same period in 2022.

    But there is a silver lining that warrants giving RA 11934 the benefit of the doubt: Crime resolution rates went up from 70 percent in 2022 to 95 percent this year. That’s a small consolation, but a consolation nonetheless, and we urge authorities and regulators to build on this by improving their cyberdetective skills, ramping up their partnership with telcos to tighten the system, and elevating public awareness on digital fraud.

    Nothing but seamless cooperation between and among the DICT, the NTC, law enforcement agencies, and telecom firms can drive the success of the hunt for these digital savvy thieves running scams and circumventing the law.

    Read more:…im-card-law#ixzz8ComgSyak