Maharlika New Media logo

Stephen Holt top pick in 2023 PBA Annual Rookie Draft

MANILA — Terrafirma has made its choice for the top pick in the 2023 PBA Annual Rookie Draft, selecting Stephen Holt as the first overall pick on Sunday at the Market! Market! Mall in Taguig City.

Dyip’s head coach, John Cardel, expressed his confidence in Holt, highlighting his unique qualities as a player.

Holt’s extensive experience in European professional basketball and his impressive basketball IQ set him apart as a remarkable talent.

Following Terrafirma’s selection, Blackwater made the second pick by choosing Christian David. Rain or Shine then picked Luis Villegas and Keith Datu as the third and fourth picks, respectively.

NorthPort secured Zavier Lucero, a former University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon, as the fifth overall pick. Phoenix Super LPG followed by selecting Kenneth Tuffin as the sixth pick, with Richard Rodger going seventh to NLEX, Brandon Bates being the eighth pick for Meralco, Schonny Winston taking the ninth spot with Converge, and BJ Andrade rounding out the top 10 as Converge’s selection. (ai/mnm)

Almost 500 athletes representing Team Philippines in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8 and the 4th Asian Para Games from October 22 to 28, are expected to turn up for the sendoff ceremony on Monday, September 18, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Reception Hall in Pasay City.

The 11 a.m. event, organized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) led by Chairman Richard Bachmann, invited the presence of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin to provide the inspiration for the national squad to perform at their best at the upcoming quadrennial meet.

“Our athletes are the heart and soul of the country’s campaign in Hangzhou, both in the Asian Games and Asian Para Games,” said Chairman Bachmann.

The Opening Ceremony will be held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Center, with medals from 481 events in 61 disciplines to be disputed.

Team Philippines previously sent 271 athletes to the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta/Palembang in 2018 and brought home four golds, two silvers and 15 bronzes as the Nationals finished at 19th place.

The country’s golden performances that year were courtesy of golfer Yuka Saso (women’s individual and team events), weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz (53kg) and skateboarder Margielyn Didal.

“With the all-out support from our national government through the PSC, I’m positive that our athletes will deliver,” added the sports agency chief, who is set to be joined by PSC Commissioner Bong Coo, Commissioner Fritz Gaston, Commissioner Edward Hayco, and Commissioner Walter Torres in the event.

Sports officials from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC), the different National Sports Associations and Team Philippines’ Chef de Mission Richard Gomez are also expected to attend the sendoff rites.

Meanwhile, the government-run sports body also confirmed that all competing athletes will be provided monetary allowance during the course of the Games, regardless of the Category A and Category B classifications originally set by the POC and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC).

“The PSC will always be here to give all the necessary support for our sports heroes,” concluded Bachmann. (ai/mnm)

Personnel of Cebu Safari Park demonstrate on Saturday, September 16, 2023 how birds are fed and taken care of.

Cebu Safari and Adventure park is a 170-hectare property that features more than a thousand animals from 120 different species.

The Park is a popular spot for foreign and local tourists in Carmen, Cebu.

(Benjamin Cuaresma/ai/mnm)

Featured images show bar examinees who showed up as early as 4 a.m. at the drop-off area of San Beda College and at the other venue in the University of Santo Tomas University in Metro Manila.

By Benjamin Cuaresma

MANILA — More than 10,000 aspiring lawyers queued up early in the morning Sunday (17 September 2023) as the 2023 Bar examinations unfolded in 14 different testing centers across the country the Supreme Court said.

First time Bar examinees this year (2023) reached 5,832 while re-takers came to a figure of 4,984 the Supreme Court said.

In all, the Office of the Bar Chairman said the exact number of Bar hopefuls reached 10,816 this year.

After Sunday’s (September 17, 2023) initial schedule, examinees return on
Wednesday, September 20 and again on Sunday, September 24, 2023. (ai/mnm)

By Junex Doronio

FOR SUGGESTING THAT the Commission on Audit (COA) should only exclusively release its final reports to prevent public officials from being harmed by potentially malicious reports, some netizens “mercilessly” slammed erstwhile matinee idol and now Leyte Congressman Richard Gomez for being “balat-sibuyas” (onion-skinned) to criticisms.

“Sana COA will only publish its final report….Sa ganun wala nang masyadong masaktan. Ang problema pag andyan na yung observation memo, nag-exit conference na, at ipublish ito dyan na dumarating yung mga kalaban mo sa pulitika..sasabihin ito yung mga maling ginawa nitong opisyal na ‘to. And it appears to the public eye na mali talaga yung ginawa mo,” Gomez lamented during the recent budget hearing for the Office of Ombudsman at the House of Representatives.

It can be recalled that last year, during Gomez’s tenure as mayor of Ormoc City, COA raised concerns about missing donations.

Gomez claimed that it was merely a COA observation, and no adverse or negative findings were included in the final audit report.

But apparently Gomez’s star no longer shines among netizens.

In a tweet, a certain Ben Bernabe assailed Gomez for seemingly seeking special treatment for COA to protect his feelings.

“Kung ayaw mong masaktan Goma, you have two options: 1. Ayusin mo ang trabaho mo. 2. Wag kang magpolitika. COA pa talaga mag-aadjust? Ano ka, special? Magsama kayo ni Inday Sara. Dun kayo sa far away!”

Environmental advocate and Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) 2022 senatorial candidate David D’Angelo also tweeted, saying that the COA should remind public officials to adhere to government rules and regulations.

“That’s why the public official should adhere to all the rules and regulations of the COA. Hindi ba yun naman ang dahilan bakit may COA, to make it a deterrent against corruption in government,” D’Angelo said.

@plantlex ridiculed Gomez for his remarks about “hurt feelings,” arguing that he should never have pursued a career in public office.

“Ano daw ? You are spending funds derived from the hard-earned money of the people, tapos masaksaktan ka? Better for you not to run in government office. You are rendering lip service to your constituents.”

Hitting the nail’s head, so to speak, @noelledeg pointed out that politicians with “balat sibuyas” should never have entered public office in the first place.

“Masaktan na ang dapat masaktan ng katotohanan. Kung balat-sibuyas ka huwag ka maging public official.”


Photo sourced from PTV News

By Junex Doronio

DESPITE THE DEMISE of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison in The Netherlands, his remaining loyal supporters continue to impress upon the international community that the Philippines is a “failed state” following their claim that two student activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro were allegedly kidnapped by government forces.

It turned out, however, that Tamano and Castro have escaped from the left-leaning organization where they belong, which the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported to have actually detained the student activists.

“They want the international community to believe that this country is a failed state,” National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said.

On Saturday, September 16, Malaya issued the warning against the deceptive ploy of groups identified with Sison after the PNP presented videos of the two students reconciling with their respective parents.

He said leftist organizations Karapatan, Anakbayan, AKAP Ka, Pamalakaya and Oceana have conducted fundraising activities for the search of missing students. (ai/mnm)

The inaugural meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Philippine Maritime and Admiralty Zones took place as scheduled with Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino presiding, on Thursday, September 14, 2023.

This newly established committee was created following the Senate’s approval of Senate Resolution No. 76.

Its primary jurisdiction is to examine and provide reports on various matters, including legislative proposals related to archipelagic baselines, maritime zones, archipelagic sea lands, and related issues.

Senator Tolentino emphasized the significance of this committee’s formation in light of recent tensions in the West Philippine Sea, escalating concerns about food prices, and the announcement of impending increases in electricity prices.

He stressed the importance of the Senate’s support in safeguarding the extensive Philippine maritime zones, which encompass the territorial sea and the vast exclusive economic zone.

This initiative to create an updated Philippine map is a response to China’s unveiling of its new national map, which features a contentious 10-dash-line.

Senator Francis Tolentino disclosed that the committee anticipates conducting approximately five hearings as part of its effort to craft a comprehensive national map.

Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson for the National Security Council (NSC), clarified that the Senate’s map project would differ from the NSC’s ongoing mapping efforts.

Senator Tolentino previously introduced Senate Bill 2294, known as the Philippine Maritime Zones Act. This bill seeks to establish maritime zones under Philippine jurisdiction, following the guidelines established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Unlike the Philippine Baselines Law, SB 2294 would encompass exclusive economic zones (EEZs), the continental shelf, and subterranean features within the country’s domain, including the Benham Rise and Philippine Rise.

In addition to delineating the geographical scope of the Philippine maritime domain, the bill aims to clarify the legal authorities that the Philippines may exercise within these zones.

Recent developments include Beijing’s release of a 10-dash-line map, which expanded its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.

In response, the Philippines lodged a diplomatic protest against this map, which overlaps with its own EEZ. (ai/mnm)

Orlan Wamar displayed flawless shooting on the second rack, securing the 3-Point Shootout championship with a total of 20 points during the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Season 5 All-Star Weekend at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga, Bataan.

The San Juan Knights’ standout player, standing at 5-foot-6, dethroned Bacolod’s Dom Matillano, who fell short with 18 points, and Pasig’s Robbie Manalang, who scored 14.

Wamar, a prized talent from Centro Escolar University, also dominated the elimination round with 21 points, followed by Manalang with 19 and Matillano with 17, securing his spot in the finals by nailing his final shot and outshooting 16-pointers Jonathan Uyloan and Levi Hernandez.

Meanwhile, CJ Gania of Pampanga soared above teammate Encho Serrano, executing a one-handed slam that earned a perfect score of 50 points in the finals, defeating Bulacan’s Justine Guevarra and crowd favorite Poypoy Actub of Imus in the Slam Dunk competition.

Guevarra replicated Gania’s dunk with a slight push from his helper, securing the second spot with 45 points.

Actub, who dominated the eliminations, faltered in his final two attempts, settling for third place.

These victories awarded Wamar and Gania P30,000 each, with an additional P20,000 Anta gift certificate for Gania. (ai/mnm)

Manny Pacquiao, the League Founder and CEO, recorded a remarkable triple-double performance as the South team convincingly defeated the North squad with a final score of 114-63 during the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Season 5 Executives Game.

This thrilling showdown took place at the All-Star Weekend at the Bataan People’s Center in Balanga, Bataan.

Defying the notion of aging, Pacquiao displayed an impressive stat line, accumulating 33 points, which included five successful three-pointers, along with an incredible 15 assists and 11 rebounds.

He accomplished all of this in 37 minutes and 39 seconds of play, surpassing his own performance from the previous year.

In the prior edition, Pacquiao had contributed 30 points, including four three-pointers, eight rebounds, and four assists in 37 minutes and 30 seconds of gameplay. Notably, Pacquiao earned the well-deserved title of the game’s Most Valuable Player.

In contrast to their previous encounter, this contest lacked the suspense, as the South team quickly established their dominance in the first quarter, leading 37-13. They maintained their lead throughout the game, with Mermann Flores, Kaizer Galvez, Jojo Cunanan, and Denzel Jansen Wong making significant contributions to the scoring effort.

Flores delivered an impressive 18 points and secured seven rebounds, while Wong added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Galvez netted 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Michael Jay Javelosa’s stellar performance on the boards, with 22 rebounds, and Marlou Aquino’s 10 rebounds further solidified the South’s control of the game, outrebounding the North by a significant margin, 92-55.

Don Dulay, the coach of the Makati OKBet Kings, showcased his skills on both ends of the court by scoring 15 points, pulling down 17 rebounds, and distributing six assists for the North team. Alfonso Kaw and Richard Rosales also contributed to their scoring effort with 14 and 13 points, respectively

Emilio Aguinaldo (left) and Manuel Quezon (right) during the 1935 campaign.(Credits: Kahimyang Project)

September 17, 2023

Today in Filipino history, the election for the first officials of the Philippine Commonwealth was held, with Manuel L. Quezon winning the presidency.

Quezon who garnered 695,332 votes, run under the banner of the Nacionalista Party won over his rivals the revolutionary President, General Emilio Aguinaldo of the National Socialist Party (179,349 votes), Gregorio Aglipay, founder and supreme bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) running under Republican Party got 148,01 votes and with 158 votes, Pascual Racuyal running as independent.

Quezon’s running mate, then Senate President Pro Tempore Sergio Osmeña, 812,352 votes (Nacionalista Party), won as vice president against Raymundo Melliz (70,899 votes) of the National Socialist Party, and with 51,443 votes, Norberto Nabong, Republican Party.

Source: Philippines News Agency archives, Kahimyang Project
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Jr. Amigo/mnm/ai)

Team Gilas PIlipinas (Photo credits: ABS-CBN News) 

With barely a week to further hone team cohesion and everything, Gilas Pilipinas has shifted its training base to the Inspire Sports Academy as it embarks on the critical phase of its preparations for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

National team coach Tim Cone, along with the rest of the Philippine squad, commenced their training camp at the National University campus in Laguna on Saturday morning, immediately diving into rigorous practice sessions later in the day.

Notable veterans, Terrence Romeo and June Mar Fajardo, were among the early arrivals at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba. Romeo, who last represented Gilas in 2018, is set to make his long-awaited return to the national team, having been a fan favorite since his inclusion in the squad in 2015.

He boasts two silver medals from his previous stints with Gilas, one from the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships in China and the other from the William Jones Cup in the same year.

On the other hand, Fajardo is rejoining the Philippines’ Blue and White squad immediately following his participation in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where he averaged 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in five games against formidable international big men like Karl Anthony-Towns.

Coach Cone has devised a training regimen that includes two daily closed-door practice sessions, aiming to familiarize the Gilas players with his system, with only seven days left before the Games commence on September 23. He emphasized the importance of building a solid foundation and mastering the fundamentals of the game.

In a closed-door tune-up game at Inspire, Gilas will face off against the Meralco Bolts, followed by another tune-up against the Changwon LG Sakers at the Philsports Arena a day before the national team departs for China. Coach Cone stressed that, due to time constraints, practice sessions hold greater significance than friendly matches for team development. (AI/MNM)

MANILA – Despite securing just one victory in five matches during the recent FIBA World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas has shown resilience by ascending two spots in the FIBA world rankings, moving from 40th to 38th place.

In their final classification game on September 2nd, Gilas Pilipinas triumphed over China, ranked 27th globally, with a score of 96-75, in front of an overflowing crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

In a parallel development, the women’s team of Gilas received some encouraging news. FIBA announced on Wednesday night that the women’s team had jumped five places to 37th in the world, up from 42nd overall.

The remarkable sixth-place finish of the Gilas women’s team in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, which included a significant victory against Chinese Taipei to secure their first-ever quarterfinal appearance and a guaranteed place in Division A, proved to be the catalyst for this improvement.

Coach Pat Aquino of the Gilas women’s team expressed his satisfaction, saying, “We’ve come a long way, but we’re making progress. I’m delighted to see our efforts paying off. This is a testament to our program. I hope we can maintain this momentum and achieve even greater heights.”

Meanwhile, the FIBA World Cup outcomes resulted in significant changes in the men’s rankings.

Germany, the newly crowned world champion, made a remarkable ascent from 11th to third place during the sixth qualifying window.

Serbia, the silver medalist, climbed one spot to fifth in the world rankings, while Canada, the bronze medalist, surged nine spots to sixth.

Despite not securing a podium finish, Team USA reclaimed its position at the top of the world rankings. Spain, following a surprising early exit due to Canada’s comeback victory in their do-or-die second-round encounter, slipped to second place in the world rankings but still maintained Europe’s top spot despite Germany’s ascent.

The biggest winners, however, were Latvia and South Sudan.

Latvia, buoyed by a commendable fifth-place finish in their debut FIBA World Cup appearance, leaped an impressive 22 spots from 30th in February to eighth in the current rankings.

In contrast, South Sudan made the most significant leap, surging 32 places to 31st in the world. This accomplishment made them the top-ranked team in Africa after a successful FIBA World Cup campaign that secured their direct qualification for the Paris Olympics.

Japan, as the host team in the 2021 edition in Saitama, earned direct qualification to the Paris Olympics and moved up 11 places to 26th in the world rankings. It now holds the top position in continental Asia, ranking third in the Asia-Pacific region alongside Australia and New Zealand.

Despite the improvements in the world rankings, Gilas Pilipinas slipped to 8th place in the Asia-Pacific region. This was due to Lebanon’s remarkable 16-place surge, propelling them from 44th overall to 28th, and surpassing China and Jordan to claim fifth place in the region. Jordan, despite finishing at the bottom of the FIBA World Cup standings, climbed one spot to 32nd overall, while China dropped one spot to 29th. (ai/mnm)

Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo (Credits: ABS-CBN)

MANILA — Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo expressed his full confidence in Tim Cone, the interim coach of Gilas, for jthe nationals’ upcoming second stint in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

The 2023 Asiad is set to begin on Saturday, September 23, 2023 and ends on October 8.

Trillo, who once served as Cone’s assistant during their successful tenure at Alaska from 2000 to 2011, where they clinched four PBA titles, is well-acquainted with Cone’s coaching philosophy.

Trillo fondly recalls Cone’s previous experience coaching at the Asian Games in 1998 when the Philippines, then represented by the Centennial team, secured a bronze medal.

He vividly remembers facing China and Korea, two teams with distinct playing styles and tempos. In the quarterfinals, they fell to Korea, 103-83, and subsequently lost to the formidable Chinese team, 92-83, in the semifinals.

However, Cone and the Philippines rebounded in the bronze medal game, triumphing over Kazakhstan to secure the third-place finish.

Trillo is convinced that Cone will be even better prepared this time around. Despite potential time constraints and personnel challenges, Cone’s exposure to international games during the last World Cup has enhanced his familiarity with the nuances and rhythm of international competition, especially the frequent back-to-back games.

With decades of involvement in the sport, Trillo emphasizes the significance of team cohesion for success.

He stresses the importance of not relying solely on a single player and highlights the need for adaptability in terms of adjusting to the pace and size of different opponent teams.

Furthermore, Trillo acknowledges the significance of the return of Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo to the Gilas squad, believing their presence will be a substantial asset.

Photo Courtesy: Search Engine Journal

By Junex Doronio

ILOILO CITY — If the mainstream media is called the Fourth Estate, then the social media can be considered the Fifth Estate?

This question cropped up after the launching on Saturday of the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council that aims to support journalists and vloggers in content creation and in fighting disinformation.

Francis Allan Angelo, interim chairperson of the Iloilo Media-Citizen Council, disclosed that vloggers are part of the council and helped craft the Western Visayas Journalists’ Guide which will be released in a month’s time.

“It is important that we have to update these guidelines because we are seeing a lot of developments, we are seeing a lot of practitioners. We are not limited to traditional media organizations that we know,” Angelo said.

He reasoned out that including vloggers and other content creators in the discussion of the media-citizen council could help their sector and show what best media practices they could adapt.

The Iloilo Media-Citizen Council chairperson pointed out that the media guide would include the use of digital media tools and how it could be best used in reportage.

Angelo is also editor-in-chief of the Iloilo City-based Daily Guardian.

According to Wikipedia, the first estate was the clergy, the second estate was the nobility, the third estate was the commoners and bourgeois, and the fourth estate was the press.

The first three estates were established in the French Revolution, while the fourth estate was a term first coined in the early to mid-1800s.

During those times, no one has imagined of a social media where every Tom, Dick and Harry can be a blogger or vlogger. (ai/mnm)

In a recent development, the Land Bank of the Philippines, a government-owned institution, has successfully transmitted its required contribution to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to establish the MIF, which marks the country’s inaugural sovereign wealth fund.

Pursuant to Republic Act No. 11954, the Landbank’s contribution of P50 billion was made to the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC), a government-owned entity designated to oversee the MIF.

This remittance by the state-owned bank occurred several months following an announcement by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who also chairs the Landbank, revealing the approval of the P50 billion investment in the MIC by the bank’s board.

Diokno was quoted as stating that Landbank’s P50 billion investment in the MIF was officially settled with the BTr on Thursday, September 14, 2023, coinciding with the enactment of the MIF enabling law and the issuance of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) by the BTr.

Adding to this significant development, the MIF’s operationalization before the year’s end received an additional boost through fresh funding from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), another government-owned institution.

DBP’s President and CEO, Michael de Jesus, confirmed the remittance of their mandatory P25 billion contribution to the BTr, solidifying the establishment of the MIF as the country’s inaugural sovereign wealth fund.

This announcement by DBP followed closely after the Land Bank of the Philippines’ declaration of its P50 billion remittance to the Treasury, in accordance with Republic Act No. 11954 and the creation of the MIF.

The MIC, a government-owned company, will be responsible for managing the MIF, a pool of funds drawn from state-run financial institutions.

These funds will be strategically invested in high-impact projects, real estate, and various financial instruments. (ai/mnm)

Cebu Customs District Collector Atty. Ricardo Uy Morales II, CESE, (5th from left) shaking hands with shipping magnate Lucio E. Lim Jr.

By Junex Doronio

CEBU CITY — Demonstrating its growing trust and confidence in the Bureau of Customs-Port of Cebu as a hub for efficient trade operations, a big shipping company is eyeing to import electric vehicles.

This developed as the BOC Port of Cebu under the leadership of District Collector Atty. Ricardo “Ricky” Uy Morales II, CESE, reaffirmed its commitment to boost revenue collection and trade facilitation during a productive meeting with Lucio E. Lim Jr., president of Lite Shipping Corporation.

“Cebu’s strategic location partnered with our commitment to provide seamless and efficient customs processes make us the ideal choice of businesses seeking to expand their operations. Cebu is well-positioned to become a hub for trade and innovation, and we welcome Lite Shipping Corporation’s initiative to import electric vehicles through the Port of Cebu,” Morales II said.

Lite Shipping Corporation is a Cebu City-based shipping line that operates the Lite Ferries, a brand consisting of a fleet of more than 20 ships which has routes to the ports of Pulauan (Dapitan), Dipolog, Larena (Siquijor), Mandaue, Ormoc, Naval (Biliran), Plaridel (Misamis Occidental), Samboan, Oslob, San Carlos (Negros Occidental), Sibulan (Negros Oriental), Tagbilaran, Toledo, Cagayan de Oro, Jagna, Tubigon, Dumaguete, Nasipit (Agusan del Norte), Bogo Calbayog and Lipata (Surigao).

“We are dedicated to ensuring that this partnership is not only successful but contributes significantly to our region’s economic growth,” Morales II stressed.

The meeting, held last September 11, was also attended by Deputy Collector for Operations Atty. Vicente Andrew M. Espina, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Assistant Regional Director Engr. Arturo Roque Apolinar, and Alin Group of Companies president Israel D. Alin.

Morales II — Collector Ricky as he is fondly called by Cebu Customs stakeholders — was appointed as Collector of Customs VI by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. last June 5.

During the meeting, Morales II also highlighted the Cebu Port’s ongoing marketing efforts to boost revenue collection, bolster trade relations and elevate the Port of Cebu’s status as a central gateway for commerce in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. (ai/mnm)

MANILA – The Western Command (Wescom) expressed deep concern on Saturday regarding the increased presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels and a significant case of coral harvesting at Rozul (Iroquois) Reef. This reef is situated within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

During a weekly news forum held in Quezon City, Vice Admiral Albert Carlos, the commander of Wescom, reported a troubling “resurgence” of swarming incidents in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). He pointed out that as of September 15, approximately 40 Chinese fishing vessels (CFVs) were spotted near Rozul Reef, located south of Recto Bank. This figure represents an increase compared to the 33 vessels seen on August 24 and the 24 observed on September 7.

Swarming activities were also detected at Escoda (Sabina) Shoal, where five CFVs were observed, and at Baragatan (Nares) Bank, with two CFVs, according to a Wescom news release on September 14.

Carlos assured that the Philippine Navy (PN) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels were also present in the area, stating, “But the good news is we also have our presence there.” He emphasized that efforts were underway to address the issue of swarming.

Coral harvesting came into focus as Carlos noted that PN divers conducted an “underwater survey” in July within the swarming area and reported the absence of corals at Rozul Reef. The military is collaborating with scientists and experts to assess the area more comprehensively. Their aim is to confirm the divers’ findings regarding recent extensive coral harvesting.

Carlos explained, “We are not drawing any conclusions at this time. It’s a work in progress, but we want to report on the situation of coral harvesting in the area where these vessels were seen loitering and swarming.”

Despite recent incidents, Carlos stressed the government’s commitment to “maintain peace and prevent miscalculations” in the WPS. He assured an increased military presence in Philippine waters.

Carlos emphasized, “The presence of Chinese vessels is already alarming because we hold sovereign rights in our exclusive economic zone. Regarding the coral harvesting issue, it’s currently based on suspicion. We are not asserting that they are harvesting our corals, but we suspect that someone is. This would constitute a violation of our sovereign rights. We are the sole entities entitled to exploit resources in the West Philippine Sea.”

He added, “For the Western Command, this is concerning because it might give the impression that we are neglecting our duty to protect our territory and the resources of our exclusive economic zone. Therefore, we are redoubling our efforts by increasing our presence in the region. It’s crucial that we enhance our presence there.”

Regarding joint patrols, Carlos mentioned that the government is carefully considering offers from other nations to conduct joint patrols alongside Philippine forces. Presently, the military conducts unilateral maritime patrols in the WPS, which are jointly carried out with the Philippine Coast Guard and the BFAR, without foreign involvement.

Carlos noted, “We are in discussions with any parties willing to assist us, those who share our goal of establishing a rules-based international order. We are evaluating all offers that are on the table.” He emphasized that while the Philippines appreciates other nations’ willingness to assist, there has been no directive to engage in joint patrols with foreign nations.

Fuel costs are anticipated to surge anew significantly in the coming week.

As such, motorists should prepare for yet another consecutive week of price hikes at the gas pump, with gasoline experiencing its 10th consecutive week of increases and diesel and kerosene facing their 11th straight week of adjustments.

Referring to the four-day Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) trading data from September 11 to 14, Rodela Romero, Assistant Director of the Department of Energy-Oil Industry Management Bureau, has outlined the projected price increments for fuel next week as follows:

Gasoline: An increase of P1.15 to P1.35 per liter.
Diesel: An increase of P1.80 to P2.00 per liter.
Kerosene: An increase of P1.70 to P1.90 per liter.
Additionally, an insider in the oil industry has informed GMA News Online that diesel prices could potentially rise by P1.90 to P2.20 per liter, while gasoline prices may see an uptick of P1.30 to P1.60 per liter.

It’s important to note that MOPS serves as the pricing benchmark for refined petroleum products in Southeast Asia.

At certain gas stations along South Luzon Expressway, premium gasoline now sells at as high as P72 to a liter, unleaded at P69, and diesel at P66. (ai/mnm)

General Romeo Brawner Jr., the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), announced on Thursday that several countries, in addition to the United States, have indicated their desire to participate in joint maritime operations in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

“Certainly, this is part of our strategy, and presently, we are actively collaborating with other nations that have shown keen interest in joining us for these joint operations.” He went on to say, “Apart from the US, multiple countries have conveyed their intent to take part in these joint endeavors,” Brawner said.

For Brawner, this growing international interest is “a highly positive sign” for the Philippines, underscoring the presence of like-minded nations committed to upholding a rules-based global order and ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific region.

Joint Patrols with the United States

Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, confirmed that the US and the Philippines have already conducted their first joint maritime patrol. He remarked, “Under the banner of joint patrols, we recently executed the first operation on September 4th, which was meticulously planned and executed by General Brawner’s team with approval from our leaders.” He added, “We will continue these efforts for the long term to safeguard freedom of navigation in both the seas and airspace, enabling peace and prosperity for all nations in the region.”

On the previous day, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. emphasized the significance of alliances with like-minded countries in response to “evolving threats” in the WPS. He told reporters at the Senate, “Given the changing threat landscape and the actions of other nations in the WPS, it is imperative that we leverage our alliances, not for any other purpose, but to reinforce adherence to a rules-based international order and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

Teodoro stressed the importance of Philippine allies in asserting the nation’s sovereignty in the WPS, saying, “Our struggle is to have our rights recognized by the entire world. Therefore, alliances with like-minded nations are crucial to having a strong, collective voice on the global stage.” (ai/mnm)

THE Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Saturday that 555 out 886 or 62.64 percent of the examinees passed the September 2023 Librarian Licensure Examination.

Topping the examination was Zamylle Ross Belaro Celso from the University of the East-Manila, who achieved an outstanding 88.85 percent rating.

Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines-Diliman secured the top position among the highest-performing schools, boasting a perfect 100 percent passing rate.

The featured image above shows the top 10 performers:

The examination took place on September 11 and 12, conducted at various PRC local testing centers across the National Capital Region (NCR), Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Rosales, Tacloban, and Zamboanga.

The PRC has announced that the issuance of Professional IDs and certificates of registration will be conducted online on October 18 and 19, 2023.

For the complete list of successful candidates, visit