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Aris’ previous statement on power ‘not misleading’

By: JUNE S. BLANCO REP. Erico Aristotle Aumentado of Bohol’s 2nd District stands by his previous statement that “the Cantakoy hydroelectric project found no support from the next administration. This solon emphasized that “this was not a misleading statement”, but a statement of facts. Aumentado said partners Ayala Group and Sta. Clara Power Corp. were […].....»»

Category: newsSource: boholnewsdaily boholnewsdailyJul 30th, 2019

Seven takeaways from Lakers reported trade for Anthony Davis

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Here are seven takeaways on the reported blockbuster trade sending New Orleans star forward Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. 1. Davis gets what he wanted all along Davis and his camp, fronted by agent Rich Paul, first made noise about getting out of New Orleans in January, when he still had a year and a half to go before he even reached the player-option year in his Pelicans contract extension. New Orleans management, notably GM Dell Demps, resisted the power play then. Of course, Demps lost his job after resisting the trade demand and seeing the ripple effects undermine his own team’s season. Demps’ replacement, David Griffin, took over on a more traditional timeline -- one year out from the dreaded possibility of having a star free agent walk without compensation. After apparently trying to change Davis’ mind, Griffin did what he felt he had to do. So the six-time All-Star doesn’t have to wait until the summer of 2020, or even the trade deadline in February, to swap a less glamorous market for the bright lights and a franchise that has never won for the Lakers’ legacy of champions built around elite big men. 2. Will future franchise players do the same? What cost did Davis pay for his trade demand? Not much. His playing time plummeted from about 37 minutes in the first four months of 2018-19 to 22 in the 16 games he actually played after Jan. 18 (Jan. 19, PHL time). He did not participate at all in 21 games as New Orleans tried to protect its asset, which derailed any ambitions with which the Pelicans began the season. They went 12-24 in those 36 games to fall into the lottery – and land the No. 1 pick. But that didn’t concern Davis. He got what he wanted. The Pelicans got what they could. 3. Right package at right time for Pelicans There’s a time-value to money and there’s a time-value in trades, too. The best time for Griffin to deal was now, with the No. 4 pick in this year’s Draft in play to team with the No. 1 pick that presumably will be on Duke’s Zion Williamson. Landing that, along with two more first-round picks from the Lakers, a Draft pick swap, and players Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart (per ESPN’s report), shifts New Orleans into full rebuild mode with an exciting core of current and maybe future young players. Could Griffin have gotten more had he waited deeper into the offseason or heading toward the in-season trade deadline? Perhaps. But Boston, the other oft-purported suitor for Davis, no longer could count on teaming Davis with Kyrie Irving, who will explore free agency (and likely leave). Besides, the Celtics never did want to part with Jayson Tatum, so what they could offer the Pelicans was limited. Didn’t matter, anyway. Griffin didn’t want to drag this into a new season. In fact, he might work the phones to find point guard Jrue Holiday’s market value. As strong as Holiday is as a leader and two-way player, at 29 with 10 seasons in, he’s out of sync with the new era in N’Awlins. 4. Griffin should have held out for Kyle Kuzma OK, the Lakers had committed publicly to keeping Kuzma, the overachieving forward and No. 27 pick in 2017, out of the deal. And as noted above, the Pelicans were on the clock to make a clean break with Davis pre-Draft. But would the Lakers really have scuttled the deal if Griffin had held out for Kuzma? Some say yes, as the time factor gave them leverage. I’m not so sure. I’m reminded of the blockbuster deal that sent Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2008. Word eventually got out that Kevin McHale, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations, had wanted a raw point guard named Rajon Rondo in the package of players Minnesota received. His Celtics’ counterpart and buddy, Danny Ainge, pushed Sebastian Telfair instead. But with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on board, and Garnett so close to his wearing o’ the green, would Ainge have blown up the trade over young Rondo? Same applies here. So the positive spin on Kuzma staying put is, the Lakers did well to keep him. 5. LeBron gets his greatest sidekick yet That statement might offend a few folks. Dwyane Wade for one. Maybe Irving, Chris Bosh or Kevin Love, too. Heck, Davis might bristle at the idea of being anyone’s “sidekick” after being the man in Mardi Gras to this point in his career. But the truth can’t be controversial, and the success of this deal will be measured in the short-term by how well Davis meshes with James in the superstar’s quest for a fourth ring and beyond. Some believed that agent Rich Paul, who represents both James and Davis, was more concerned with helping the former than the latter, which Paul refuted a few days before news came out on this blockbuster trade. Who’s to say AD wouldn’t have thrived and won sooner in Boston had the Celtics and Pelicans worked out a Kawhi-like rent-a-player price? What if James not only is past his best years, but his most durable ones, and injuries intervene as he heads to age 35 and beyond to stymie title hopes? For James, though, there’s no downside to this. Ingram, because of the blood clot issue that cut short his 2018-19 season, is an unknown for now. Ball isn’t essential with James as a ball dominator. Hart actually backslid in his second season. And James has little or no use for draft picks at this stage of his career. Davis is good enough to carry the bigger load relative to James, more than any of his past Super Friends who all caught him in his extended prime. But it’s still to be determined how they’ll work that out – the two previous elite big men that he played alongside, Bosh and Love, wound up as No. 3 options once they teamed with James. 6. Kemba Walker might be next in Lakers’ sights Walker is a free agent who has served his time in Charlotte, a team that might not want to be locked into a super-max deal for their lone star anyway. He would be a nice backcourt complement to James and Davis, another scorer if not the pure shooter L.A. would seem to need. Speaking of which, that suggests other free-agent implications as the Lakers search for shooters. Say, if not J.J. Redick himself, then the next Redick perhaps. 7. So long Warriors, hello Lakers in 2020 Finals? You’ve got to admit, it would be something to see LeBron James pop up on the Western Conference’s finalist vying for a championship, in what lately has been Golden State’s accustomed spot. That’s what some anticipated for this June, until the Lakers went sideways with injuries and dysfunction. But with ESPN’s report of the Davis trade, a team that already was ranked atop the NBA’s contenders for 2020 saw its odds improve. Caesars Sportsbook put the Lakers as 7-2 favorites, ahead of the Bucks (6-1), the L.A. Clippers (6-1), the newly crowned Raptors (8-1), the Rockets (8-1) and what would be a distinctly different Warriors team (11-1). Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Coaching great John Thompson of Georgetown dead at 78

By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — John Thompson, the imposing Hall of Famer who turned Georgetown into a “Hoya Paranoia” powerhouse and became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship, has died. He was 78 His death was announced in a family statement released by Georgetown on Monday. No details were disclosed. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on but, most importantly, off the basketball court. He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else,” the statement said. “However, for us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear everyday.” One of the most celebrated and polarizing figures in his sport, Thompson took over a moribund Georgetown program in the 1970s and molded it in his unique style into a perennial contender, culminating with a national championship team anchored by center Patrick Ewing in 1984. Georgetown reached two other title games with Thompson in charge and Ewing patrolling the paint, losing to Michael Jordan’s North Carolina team in 1982 and to Villanova in 1985. At 6-foot-10, with an ever-present white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Hoyas for decades, becoming a patriarch of sorts after he quit coaching in 1999. One of his sons, John Thompson III, was hired as Georgetown’s coach in 2004. When the son was fired in 2017, the elder Thompson -- known affectionately as “Big John” or “Pops” to many -- was at the news conference announcing Ewing as the successor. Along the way, Thompson said what he thought, shielded his players from the media and took positions that weren’t always popular. He never shied away from sensitive topics -- particularly the role of race in both sports and society -- and he once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule because he felt it hurt minority athletes. “I’ll probably be remembered for all the things that kept me out of the Hall of Fame, ironically, more than for the things that got me into it,” Thompson said on the day he was elected to the Hall in 1999. Thompson became coach of the Hoyas in 1972 and began remaking a team that was 3-23 the previous season. Over the next 27 years, he led Georgetown to 14 straight NCAA tournaments (1979-92), 24 consecutive postseason appearances (20 NCAA, 4 NIT), three Final Fours (1982, 1984, 1985) and won six Big East tournament championships. Employing a physical, defense-focused approach that frequently relied on a dominant center -- Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo were among his other pupils -- Thompson compiled a 596-239 record (.715 winning percentage). He had 26 players drafted by the NBA. One of his honors -- his selection as coach of the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympics -- had a sour ending when the Americans had to settle for the bronze medal. It was a result so disappointing that Thompson put himself on a sort of self-imposed leave at Georgetown for a while, coaching practices and games but leaving many other duties to his assistants. Off the court, Thompson was both a role model and a lightning rod. A stickler for academics, he kept a deflated basketball on his desk, a reminder to his players that a degree was a necessity because a career in basketball relied on a tenuous “nine pounds of air.” The school boasted that 76 of 78 players who played four seasons under Thompson received their degrees. He was a Black coach who recruited mostly Black players to a predominantly white Jesuit university in Washington, and Thompson never hesitated to speak out on behalf of his players. One of the most dramatic moments in Georgetown history came on Jan. 14, 1989, when he walked off the court to a standing ovation before the tipoff of a home game against Boston College, demonstrating in a most public way his displeasure against NCAA Proposition 42. The rule denied athletic scholarships to freshmen who didn’t meet certain requirements, and Thompson said it was biased against underprivileged students. Opposition from Thompson, and others, led the NCAA to modify the rule. Thompson’s most daring move came that same year, when he summoned notorious drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III for a meeting in the coach’s office. Thompson warned Edmond to stop associating with Hoyas players and to leave them alone, using his respect in the Black community to become one of the few people to stare down Edmond and not face a reprisal. Though aware of his influence, Thompson did not take pride in becoming the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four, and he let a room full of reporters know it when asked his feelings on the subject at a news conference in 1982. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” Thompson said. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.” Born Sept. 2, 1941, John R. Thompson Jr. grew up in Washington, D.C. His father was always working — on a farm in Maryland and later as a laborer in the city — and could neither read nor write. “I never in my life saw my father’s hands clean,” Thompson told The Associated Press in 2007. “Never. He’d come home and scrub his hands with this ugly brown soap that looked like tar. I thought that was the color of his hands. When I was still coaching, kids would show up late for practice and I’d (say) ... ‘My father got up every morning of his life at 5 a.m. to go to work. Without an alarm.‘” Thompson’s parents emphasized education, but he struggled in part of because of poor eyesight and labored in Catholic grammar school. He was moved to a segregated public school, had a growth spurt and became good enough at basketball to get into John Carroll, a Catholic high school, where he led the team to 55 consecutive victories and two city titles. He went to Providence College as one of the most touted basketball prospects in the country and led the Friars to the first NCAA bid in school history. He graduated in 1964 and played two seasons with Red Auerbach’s Boston Celtics, earning a pair of championship rings as a sparingly used backup to Bill Russell. Thompson returned to Washington, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia and went 122-28 over six seasons at St. Anthony’s before accepting the job at Georgetown, an elite school that had relatively few Black students. Faculty and students rallied around him after a bedsheet with racist words was hung inside the school’s gym before a game during the 1974-75 season. Thompson sheltered his players with closed practices, tightly controlled media access and a prohibition on interviews with freshmen in their first semester -- a restriction that still stands for Georgetown’s basketball team. Combined with Thompson’s flashes of emotion and his players’ rough-and-tumble style of play, it wasn’t long before the words “Hoya Paranoia” came to epitomize the new era of basketball on the Hilltop campus. Georgetown lost the 1982 NCAA championship game when Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to North Carolina’s James Worthy in the game’s final seconds. Two years later, Ewing led an 84-75 win over Houston in the title game. The Hoyas were on the verge of a repeat the following year when they were stunned in the championship game by coach Rollie Massimino’s Villanova team in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Success allowed Thompson to rake in money through endorsements, but he ran afoul of his Georgetown bosses when he applied for a gambling license for a business venture in Nevada in 1995. Thompson, who liked playing the slot machines in Las Vegas, reluctantly dropped the application after the university president objected. Centers Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo turned Georgetown into “Big Man U” under Thompson, although his last superstar was guard Allen Iverson, who in 1996 also became the first player under Thompson to leave school early for the NBA draft. “Thanks for Saving My Life Coach,” Iverson wrote at the start of an Instagram post Monday with photos of the pair. The Hoyas teams in the 1990s never came close to matching the achievements of the 1980s, and Thompson’s era came to a surprising and sudden end when he resigned in the middle of the 1998-99 season, citing distractions from a pending divorce. Thompson didn’t fade from the limelight. He became a sports radio talk show host and a TV and radio game analyst, joining the very profession he had frustrated so often as a coach. He loosened up, allowing the public to see his lighter side, but he remained pointed and combative when a topic mattered to him. A torch was passed in 2004, when John Thompson III became Georgetown’s coach. The younger Thompson, with “Pops” often watching from the stands or sitting in the back of the room for news conferences, returned the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. Another son, Ronny Thompson, was head coach for one season at Ball State and is now a TV analyst. ___ Joseph White, a former AP sports writer in Washington who died in 2019, prepared this obituary. AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

Alvarez resigns from PDP-Laban

"Rep. Alvarez resigned from the Party because he intends to commit and pursue a voter’s education campaign for Filipinos given the importance of the 2022 elections. Unfortunately, serving as a ranking officer and member of PDP-Laban while simultaneously handling this advocacy may be misconstrued by critics as politicking by the Party presently in power," the statement read. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 15th, 2020

Mandaue changes mind, COVID-19 patients to remain at MCIU

MANDAUE CITY, Philippines– Contrary to its previous statement, the Mandaue City government will no longer transfer COVID-19 patients from the Mandaue City Isolation Unit (MCIU) located inside the Mandaue City Central School (MCCS). According to lawyer John Eddu Ibañez, executive secretary of Mayor Jonas Cortes, this decision was reached because of the continued drop in […] The post Mandaue changes mind, COVID-19 patients to remain at MCIU appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 10th, 2020

What spokespersons do

THE VIEW FROM RIZAL Dr. Jun Ynares An apparent “word war” recently erupted between the science community of the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The tussle seems to have been triggered by what the DENR spokesperson described as a criticism from the UP scientists, particularly those who are part of the UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI). The institute, according to its website, is UP’s “coordinating base for marine research.” Its mandate is to “pursue research, teaching and extension work” related to marine life in the large bodies of water in the country. The spokesperson of the DENR was visibly angry when he fired verbal shots against UP’s science community at a televised media conference last week. The DENR spokesperson labeled the UP scientists “bayaran” which roughly translates in English as “mercenaries” or “whore.” The televised rant was apparently triggered by what the spokesperson said was the criticism by UP scientists against the DENR’s “white sand” project for the Manila Bay shore. The project, it will be recalled, involved the use of so-called “dolomite” – the residue derived from crushing rocks and stones and which visually resembles white sand. Media described the DENR spokesperson’s action as “lashing out” against the UP experts, saying the latter have no right to air their criticism. He accused the scientists of having received some P500 million from the government and delivering nothing but consultation services. According to media, the DENR spokesperson called the UP scientists “blood-suckers.” In reporting the rant by the DENR spokesperson, media used the headline “DENR slams UP scientists.” This led to confusion among media consumers like us. Wasn’t it the DENR spokesperson who “slammed” UP scientists and not DENR per se? Why should the rant dished out by a spokesperson be attributed to the entire department? To explain the role of a spokesperson and the nature of that job, we turned to international training consultant and fellow Antipoleño Archie Inlong. Archie served as spokesperson for three major agencies – the erstwhile Department of Transportation and Communication, and the two Presidential Task Forces which rebuilt the areas affected by major disasters, the earthquake of 1990 and the subsequent eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo. “There are three important tasks that the spokesperson of a government agency performs,” he told us. “These are, first, to provide relevant information and instructions; second, to issue clarification when needed; and, third, to give assurances to the public on behalf of the organization he represents,” Archie explained. “Occasionally, the spokesperson also shares the point of view of the head of the agency, the latter’s prognosis, and position on certain issues,” he added. “There are items outside of what the spokesperson may safely say to the public, and these include rants, insults, accusations,” he continued. “When these come out of the spokesperson’s mouth,” the public interprets them as the official statement of the entire organization and its head,” he pointed out. This should explain why media now interprets the “mercenary/whore” label given by the DENR spokesperson to the scientists of UP as a “slam” coming from the DENR itself. “The spokesperson is a mouthpiece, that’s all,” Archie added. “We, spokespersons, must be good mouthpieces,” he said. Does that mean that a spokesperson is not entitled to express his own opinion, his own views, his own sentiment? This was his answer: “No, his job is to speak on behalf of the organization and its head, period.” “That disclaimer used by some spokespersons that the comment he or she made ‘is just my own opinion’ does not work,” Archie explained. “Outside of his role as the mouthpiece of the organization, the spokesperson has no personality and his words would carry no weight,” he added. So, does that mean we have to interpret the labels “mercenary” and “whore” given to UP scientists as having come from the DENR secretary himself, I asked. This was the answer I got. “Unless and until the head of agency disowns the statement, that would be the case.” Lesson learned: what the spokesperson says is the official stand of the organization and its head. That means the spokesperson job is something that must be taken seriously and must be handled with utmost prudence and care. Words have power. Particularly those that come from a spokesperson’s mouth......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

Babies have rights

 #ASKGOYO Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal Quoted below is the statement of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines: “The tragic death of 3-month-old Baby River highlights the need to do MORE, BETTER, FASTER in the justice sector quoted below is the statement of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines: “Baby River was born at the Fabella Medical Center on July 1, 2020.  Her mother, urban poor organizer Reina Mae Nasino, 23 years old, is a detainee at the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory who was arrested on November 5, 2019 at the Tondo office of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.  The police raids that resulted in the arrests of over 60 activists in Metro Manila and Bacolod were by virtue of various warrants issued by the RTC Branch 89 in Quezon City.  Reina Mae and two others were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a non-bailable offense. “Despite questions raised against the validity of the raids and arrests as well as petitions for the release of Reina Mae on health and humanitarian grounds or for continued breast-feeding, the frail and underweight Baby River was separated from her mother barely a month after birth. “The case went through RTC Manila Branch 20, the Supreme Court, back to RTC Branch 20, then RTC branch 42 and RTC Branch 37, and the Court of Appeals, until Baby River died on Oct. 12, 2020. “Manila RTC Branch 47 finally allowed Reina Mae furlough – this time to visit her dead daughter.  Despite many fully armed BJMP escorts, police and military personnel monitoring and accompanying Reina Mae, she remained hand-cuffed while at the wake. “The heartbreaking and brief life-story of Baby River compel us to raise these questions: “1. Why can’t our justice system safeguard the needs and rights of an innocent child to breastfeeding and a better chance to survive? “2. Why don’t our jails have adequate facilities to address the needs and rights of children and women detainees duly recognized by domestic and international law? “3. Why does it take so long to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights? “4. Isn’t there double standard when “bigger” detainees are allowed similar or even greater privileges? “5. Can we not have justice with compassion? “Let our concern, dismay, or rage and the tears that we may shed for Baby River Nasino fuel our collective determination and action to improve our justice system.  Let not our innocent children fall under the cracks.  Babies have rights and we have duties to nurture them.  Let our humanity rise above our personal comforts or the privileges of power.” DOMINGO EGON CAYOSA National President & Chairman of the Board of Governors *** We can talk about the law legal processes, and I’m sure many will.  But at the crux of all this should be:“What is it to be human?” Have we sunk so low that we’ve lost our humanity?  Have we forgotten what it is that separates us from animals?  Have we been numb to peoples’ suffering and death? Have we been stripped of our sense of morality and compassion that we have lost our appreciation of what is right and wrong?  People have discussed the trampled rights of the mother of the infant.  But what about the rights of the baby?  Stripping the legalese of the tragedy, we have to ask: What about the basic needs of the baby, as emphasized by the statement of the IBP?  There is no justification to being deprived of the love and care his mother, and the warmth of her embrace. The soothing voice to say she’s going to get better, and she’s loved…  Have we regressed to a point that we’ve been stripped of our empathy? More than the legality of this.  After the furor will have died down, and it surely will, I think we have to ask ourselves, “Where are we now?”  How low have we sunk and how to we get back up and regain some sense of decency? My heart broke when I saw pictures of Reina Mae Nasino covered in PPE, in handcuffs, unable to even hug her dead baby one last time.  I still cannot understand the inhumanity towards not only the mother, but the baby, who had done no one wrong, yet was treated with so much hate, disrespect, contempt, and derision for her to be born in this world, yet stripped and deprived of human love and affection.  I can never hate anyone that much to treat him or her so badly. I think we need to dig deep within ourselves and search our soul.  To find the humanity which has clearly been missing.  We need to find our moral compass, before we all lose our soul and drown in the abyss. Stay Safe.  Pray for Baby River.  Pray for OUR country......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

Russia reports record virus cases but shuns new restrictions

Russia registered its highest-ever number of new coronavirus infections on Friday after officials warned that tight restrictions could be put back in place if people continued to flout restrictions. New cases in Russia have surged past the record levels seen in May Dimitar DILKOFF AFP/File/ MANILA BULLETIN Restaurants and bars in Moscow were bustling and many residents were ignoring orders to wear masks in public as nationwide infections surged in September, but officials stopped short of imposing new sweeping measures to slow the spread of the virus. European leaders across the continent are scambling to amend virus regulations against the backdrop of a surge in new cases, and even Germany, which was praised for its early handling of the pandemic, has suffered a large increase in new infections. But officials in Russia, which has the world’s fourth-highest caseload after the United States, India and Brazil, have so far dismissed the idea there is a second wave of infections or any need for a new lockdown.   A government tally registered 12,126 new cases on Friday, surpassing the country’s previous record set in May by several hundred cases. “I’m really afraid that things will go back to how they were in the spring, that everyone will be quarantined and we won’t be allowed to go to work,” Vladimir, a teacher in Saint Petersburg who declined to give his last name, told AFP.  – Training dogs to detect virus – As Russia is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, the country’s flagship airline Aeroflot is training sniffer dogs to detect the coronavirus by scent. Aeroflot uses a special jackal-dog hybrid called Shalaika in Russian to detect explosives. Now dog handlers say the Shalaikas — who have a powerful sense of smell — can be taught to sniff out the coronavirus. “The dog is not looking for the virus, the dog is looking for a person with signs of the disease,” Elena Batayeva, head of canine monitoring at Aeroflot, told reporters. Russia imposed one of the most severe nationwide lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic. Non-essential businesses were shuttered and Moscow residents only permitted to move freely with official digital passes. But most restrictions were lifted ahead of a large WWII military parade in June and a nationwide vote on amendments that paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036. Officials in Moscow, which is the epicentre of Russia’s pandemic, have taken only minor steps to slow the spread of cases. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has ordered the elderly and vulnerable to stay at home and told employers to keep at least a third of staff working remotely.  Mask-wearing is compulsory on public transport and inside shops, but some Muscovites are not convinced others are doing enough to stop the spread of infections. “The city is making the necessary decisions. But it won’t work without people responding to these measures, helping themselves and those around them,” Sobyanin said Friday. Tatyana Nemirovskaya, a 30-year-old PR specialist, told AFP that Muscovites are “definitely not” following the government’s guidelines. The head of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, which is spearheading the country’s virus response, warned this week of “new measures” if the current rules were not followed. The Kremlin said Friday that if the situation continues to deteriorate it will “require some actions, decisions”. – ‘Without masks, having fun’ – But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov placed the blame on Russians for the surging caseload, saying it was clear that “many people don’t think it is necessary to take care of providing the safety of their health.”  Standing next to a memorial to medics who have died during the pandemic in Saint Petersburg, Stella, a resident of Russia’s second city, said people had dropped their guard after mass restrictions were lifted. “The rules were slightly eased and people calmly walked around without masks, having fun and everything began again,” she said. Russia announced in August it had registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, named Sputnik V after the Soviet-era satellite and a number of officials have said they volunteered for inoculation, including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.  Putin this week said “around 50 people” in his inner circle, including staff and family, had been vaccinated. Russia has recorded a total of 22,257 fatalities from the virus, a much lower figure compared to other badly-hit countries. Kremlin critics have suggested the authorities have downplayed the death rate to hide the severity of the outbreak......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

As COVID-19 ravages the Philippines, a bible thumper insults our intelligence

RJ Nieto We have been made too aware of the speakership catfight in the House of Representatives. On one side is Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who, last year, agreed to a term sharing deal that entails his voluntary resignation this month. On the other side, the PDP-Laban Lord Allan Velasco, head of the House’s biggest political party. If Cayetano just complied with the term-sharing agreement that he himself insisted on having, then the nation could have moved on and returned its focus on the COVID-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the erstwhile flourishing Philippine economy. But that was not the case: after getting a taste of his lucrative position for 15 months, Cayetano didn’t want to let go. In mid-September, Cayetano said he should remain as the speaker as he claims to enjoy majority support. Days later, his camp even went a step further when Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte accused Velasco of planning to delay the passage of the crucial 2021 National Budget. President Rodrigo Duterte, acting as head of the Kilusang Pagbabago Coalition, mediated the rift when he called for a meeting with Cayetano and Velasco. There are various versions of what happened during the meeting, but what’s clear is that both sides agreed to a vote on the speakership on October 14th. At this point, minus the speakership drama, pretty much everything else in the House, especially the 2021 budget deliberations, was going quite smoothly . At this point, the Cayetano-Velasco catfight was still a purely political skirmish. But things took a turn for the worse during the October 7 House session. While the budget debates were still ongoing, Cayetano abruptly declared the end of debates. He then moved to suspend House sessions until mid-November, effectively cancelling the October 14th vote for speaker. Cayetano’s move squarely violated Section 16(5), Article VI, of the Constitution, which forbids the House from adjourning for more than three days without the Senate’s nod. The term he used — “suspension” — is just semantic acrobatics for adjournment. Cayetano’s move effectively delayed the transmission to the Senate of the budget’s House version from October 14 to mid-November at the earliest. For the sake of holding onto power, he escalated the purely political skirmish into a full-blown national crisis. If Cayetano and his allies did not want a speakership change because his replacement will just delay the budget, then why did he delay the budget himself? The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a New Normal, and we need a national budget that takes this New Normal into account. However, the speaker’s latest political stunt risks the reenactment of the previous national budget, a budget that was written before COVID-19 ravaged us. How can the nation address the rampaging pandemic without a national budget that recognizes COVID-19 as a national disaster? We need more IT infrastructure funding as more Filipinos engage in e-commerce and as schools shift to online learning. We need more healthcare funding as Filipinos continue to get infected with this virus. We need more fiscal support for ailing businesses as thousands have gone bankrupt after the economy ground to a halt. But all of these may not happen because of what Cayetano did. He can bicker with anyone as much as he wants, but he should not sacrifice the welfare of this nation for the sake of his ambitions. Cayetano loves to quote the Bible every chance he gets, but it appears that the Bible he reads excludes all the verses that mention greed. I know for a fact that politicians want power. Running for office, after all, is inherently a quest to gain power. But power is sought not for power’s sake. Power is just a means to towards an end, and that end should be public welfare. Too bad for us earthlings, Cayetano may not share the same view of power. And even if he does, his notion of power is a warped, twisted version that serves his aspirations more than those of the Filipino people. And despite what he’s done, he has the gall to insult our intelligence by claiming that he has the nation’s best interests in mind. If there’s anything we can learn from Cayetano, that would be new and more creative ways to cringe. Alan Peter Cayetano’s latest stunt suggests that while Alan Peter Cayetano may still love this country, Alan Peter Cayetano happens to love Alan Peter Cayetano more. For comments and reactions, please email TP@ThinkingPinoy.net or visit Facebook.com/TheThinkingPinoy.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Christmas 2020 for workers and farmers

HOTSPOT Tonyo Cruz Two things workers are looking forward to at the end of each year are the 13th month pay and the Christmas bonus. And it seems about two million workers may not get any 13th month pay at all, if the Duterte government would have its way. The reason? Because of the pandemic. In reaction, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog  issued his shortest statement yet this year, unable to hide labor’s frustration: “It is the government’s responsibility to bail out MSMEs in times of emergencies.” Indeed, it is the state’s obligation to support and prop up micro, small and medium-scale enterprises especially now in the time of pandemic. By saying MSMEs could dispense with the 13th month pay, the government is practically passing on its responsibility to MSMEs. Workers continue to give their share through the cheap, underpaid and overstressed labor power that makes sure MSMEs continue to function and perform their role as main engines of the economy. The government must do its job: Bail out the MSMEs. It is quite surprising that the Duterte government seems disinterested in bailing out MSMEs, considering the avalanche of news about the borrowings here and there. According to Sonny Africa, executive director of the think-tank Ibon Foundation, the borrowings has reached a historic high: “It took 118 years for the country’s debt to reach P6.1-trillion in 2016. President Duterte is taking just six years to more than than double that to P13.7-trillion in 2022.” Again, the reason for the borrowing has been “because of the pandemic.” Regardless of where the money goes, and whether or not MSMEs and workers received only a drop from it, they would pay the entire debt through more and higher taxes for years to come. Workers are not asking for something they have not earned through hard work. They earned that 13th month pay. It is not an optional thing. It is part of the law. The pandemic should oblige the state to bail out our MSMEs to enable them to fully function, and to give the workers’ their due under the law. Workers have given and lost a lot because of the pandemic. Workers have not asked for free rides to work, but the government fails to provide adequate and safe mass transport. Workers have asked for free mass testing in their companies and communities, but the government has other ideas. Workers and their families would have fared better with unemployment benefits amid the dismal pandemic response of government, but it seems the same government wishes to push them instead to pawnshops and loan sharks. We haven’t even factored in the laid-off, underemployed and unemployed workers, as well as the undetermined number of overseas Filipino healthcare workers stranded in the country since April. They all don’t wish to be “patay-gutom” and “pala-asa”.  They don’t wish to stay unemployed and be dependent on aid. They are ready to work and earn their keep. But since the president made policy decisions affecting their ability to obtain work, it is the government’s obligation to bail them out as well. The situation of our nation’s farmers is no different. For instance, rice farmers continue to produce our national staple. The pandemic made even worse the effects on them of the combined power of policies such as rice tarrification, the stranglehold of Big Landlords, the vast influence of rice cartels, and the continued operation of illegal rice importers. Price monitoring by Bantay Bigas and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas reveals the outrageously low palay prices nationwide, which means ruin to our nation’s rice farmers: Negros Occidental and Bicol region P10; Capiz P10-P11; Caraga P11; Tarlac P11-12; Ilocos Sur and Nueva Ecija P11-13; Camarines Sur P11.50-14; Bulacan and Mindoro P12; Isabela P12-P13.50; Pangasinan P12-P12.30; Antique P12.50; Agusan del Sur P13; Davao de Oro P13.14; Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and South Cotabato P13.50; North Cotabato P14; and Lanao del Norte P15. If you look at it, plantitos and plantitas today pay 20 to 50 times more for ornamental plants, compared to the prices traders and the NFA offer to our farmers. According to Bantay Bigas and KMP, the government procures way less than 20 percent of the produce of rice farmers.  And then we hear that the NFA would rather import rice from other countries, at pandemic-affected prices at that. Without any state intervention, by way of NFA buying rice farmers’ produce at P20 per kilo, and providing loans to farmers, there could be worse rural poverty in the coming months and years. Between our workers and farmers, their families have been made to sacrifice a lot since March, with prices of basic goods spiking, with new and higher expenses arising from online classes for the children. There cannot be no aid for them.  Neither should workers and farmers shoulder the burden of the failure or refusal of government to provide funding for bailouts sorely needed by MSMEs, and be forced to accept new national debts to pay for policies such as rice tarrification and importation. The government knows the scale of the problem. The Department of Labor and Employment says 13,127 companies have either laid off workers or permanently closed. The response cannot be “pass the burden to workers”. The answer should be: “the state must do everything to rescue the companies and the workers.” OFWs across the world should be familiar with bailouts and economic protections because of the pandemic. Many countries that host OFWs enacted huge bailouts and stimulus to their economies, partly so that migrant labor could continue to be employed. They enjoy health insurance, and special COVID19 coverage. Governments handed out checks to both citizens and companies. Is it too much to ask that the same be done in our own country? Or do Filipinos have to go abroad to experience such social and economic protections?.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Cebu Customs collects P2.7B for September, surpasses target

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs in the Port of Cebu (BOC-Cebu) reported on Thursday, October 1, to have surpassed their target collection for the month of September. This after BOC in Cebu, in a statement, said they posted a total of P2.7 billion tax collected for the previous month. They said it […] The post Cebu Customs collects P2.7B for September, surpasses target appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 1st, 2020

Meralco slashes rate to 3-year-low

Consumers can expect another reduction in their electricity bills in September after the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Wednesday cut its power rate for the fifth straight month to what it described as a three-year-low. In a statement, the listed power distributor said it sliced the rate by P0.0623 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to P8.4288/kWh […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 11th, 2020

Meralco rates lower by P0.0623/kwh in Sept. billing

Consumers of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will benefit from a slight reduction of P0.0623 per kilowatt hour (kwh) in this September billing — summing up five straight months of tariff downtrends for this year. (MANILA BULLETIN) For end-users in the consumption threshold of 200 kilowatt hours (kwh), the average cost savings they will gain in this billing period will be P12, according to the utility firm. The overall rate billed this month is at P8.4288 per kwh versus the previous month’s P8.4911 per kwh. The generation charge, which accounts for the chunk of the cost components being passed on, had been pared by P0.0381 per kwh this month to P4.0860 per kwh from the previous billing cycle’s P4.1241 per kwh. Additionally, the transmission charge was on marginal decline of P0.0112 per kwh and that was mainly attributed to the lower ancillary services (AS) charges of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines; while taxes and other charges incurred a net decrease of P0.0130 per kwh. Meralco emphasized one key factor that triggered rate reduction this September is its continuing move to invoke force majeure (FM) claims with its power suppliers. “This September, the force majeure claim totaled about P463 million, equivalent to customer savings of P0.1710 per kwh in the generation charge,” the utility firm noted. The company explained that if the FM claims had not been there, “the generation charge and the total rate would have increased by P0.13 and P0.14 per kwh, respectively.” Since March this year when Meralco has been persistently invoking FM claims under its power supply deals, the company was already able to generate P2.4 billion worth of savings that it has been passing on as rate reduction to customers via their electric bills. On supply procurement, Meralco indicated that it secured the lion’s share of 54.8-percent from its power supply agreements (PSAs) and that resulted in a decrease of P0.3032 per kwh on its charges. The fraction of supply sourced from its contracted independent power producers (IPPs) had been at 33.6-percent; and this went up by P0.0601 per kwh; while volume procured from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) stood at 11.6-percent and charges had been down by P0.0147 per kwh.The lower settlement prices in the spot market, it was noted, had been due to decrease in Luzon demand — given the re-enforcement of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in some areas last month, primarily in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 9th, 2020

AboitizPower remits P508M to host communities

Aboitiz Power Corporation or AboitizPower has remitted a total of P508.2 million shares to its host communities which the latter may use in their COVID-19 response programs. In an e-mailed statement, AboitizPower said it has downloaded P148.2 million of the shares of 174 host communities nationwide with P34 million more awaiting turnover and  P359.97 million […] The post AboitizPower remits P508M to host communities appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 7th, 2020

Pagpapalawig sa Malampaya Gas Project suportado ng mga mambabatas

Manila, Philippines – Isinusulong ng mga mambabatas ang pagpapalawig pa sa Malampaya Gas Project sa Palawan sa katwirang 30% ng power requirements sa Luzon ay nakadepende dito at kritikal ang pagpapatuloy ng operasyon ng power plant para matiyak na magkakaroon ng stable at secure na pagkukunan ng enerhiya ang bansa. Sa isang joint statement sinabi […] The post Pagpapalawig sa Malampaya Gas Project suportado ng mga mambabatas appeared first on REMATE ONLINE......»»

Category: newsSource:  remateRelated NewsAug 25th, 2020

BSP chief: PH economy in good position to weather pandemic

The sharp contraction of the economy in the second quarter of the year—the largest decline in the country’s history—is different from previous crises because the country is on better footing now, the head of the central bank said. In a statement, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said “inherent weaknesses” in the country’s […] The post BSP chief: PH economy in good position to weather pandemic appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Moderating oligarchs’ greed

Last July 13, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke before soldiers in Jolo, Sulu and triumphantly declared he “dismantled the oligarchy that controlled the country’s economy without the need to declare martial law.” This came a few days after a committee in the House of Representatives rejected ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bill. During his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27, Duterte took another swipe at the oligarchs whose great wealth has enabled them “to influence public policy to their advantage.” He cited as an example the Lopezes “who used their media outlets in their battles with political figures” including himself during the 2016 elections. People seem to forget that Duterte’s avowed mission to put oligarchs in their proper place was part of his 2016 campaign promise to stamp out corruption. At that time, he said the corruption in the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue was “small change in comparison to the high-level corruption that runs in the billions among the economic elite.” Oligarchy means the rule of the few, but its meaning has evolved to refer to powerful individuals or groups outside of government who are able to benefit from political connections to amass vast amounts of wealth and gain control of major industries. The term “oligarch” started popping up recently in mainstream and social media but its context in relation to what is happening in our society has become warped and obfuscated. To be fair, the President has given credit where credit is due, even to the so-called oligarchs when they helped the government in this COVID-19 crisis, but he said it is their abuses that he abhors. On several occasions, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano pointed out how oligarchs use their wealth to gain power, while the political elite used their power to amass wealth. He expressed full support to Duterte’s advocacy in changing the current system where he believes the people “willingly consent to being held back by the few who control the economy and through that, the running of the nation.” According to Cayetano, the real threat to the stability of our socio-political and economic systems are those backroom deals that make exploitation legal – “the quiet acquiescing to a system that naturally favors the ultra-rich and very powerful.” He believes that not all oligarchs are bad, saying in a media interview: “Just like every entrepreneur wanting to expand their business, these would-be oligarchs might very well have started off with the most benign or even benevolent intentions. But the malignant DNA of unabated, uncontrolled capitalism, especially corporate capitalism, eventually comes to play, leading to people and systems being abused and exploited.” Cayetano clarified, though, that capitalism and democracy work as we have seen in other economies. He thinks the situation in the Philippines is not hopeless, and we can begin to change this corrupt system by acknowledging there is a problem and we are part of it. “This is a battle between those who are willing to fight their self-interest and change with the system, versus those who deny that there is anything wrong with the status quo, specifically as it relates to themselves, and instead simply choose to blame the politicians and officials in government,” he said. This brings to mind the statement attributed to a Cabinet member of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who advised another top official to “moderate your greed.” Another cautionary tale is found in the recently re-launched book of Ricardo Manapat, who served as National Archives Director during the Arroyo and Ramos administrations. Manapat’s book is titled “Some Are Smarter Than Others: The History of Marcos’ Crony Capitalism” which is a classic work on anti-cronyism exposing the ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Oligarchs may not be totally wiped out in the Philippines, since developed economies even have to contend with their presence. But Duterte’s relentless campaign against them could very well result in moderating their greed and freeing the country from their tight grip. nextgenmedia@gmail.com.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2020

Let next administration worry about death penalty –Atienza

An independent House member thinks it is better to just let the next administration tackle the sensitive topic that is the reimposition of death penalty. Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza (FACEBOOK / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) “The government should concentrate on saving lives and quelling the coronavirus pandemic now and allow the next administration to worry about the proposal to bring back the death penalty,” BUHAY Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza said in a statement Sunday. “We’re now in the middle of a public health disaster that has already demolished the livelihood and jobs of millions of Filipinos,” stressed Atienza, a former three-term mayor of Manila. In his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) before a joint session of Congress last July 24, President Duterte called on legislators to revive capital punishment on certain crimes under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002. Atienza made his call even as the thousands of daily new infections from the incurable disease threaten to overwhelm the country’s health care system. The pro-life solon described the pursuit of death penalty as an “exercise in futility” given the current circumstances. “First of all, Congress realistically lacks the time to work on the death penalty. Second, in less than 22 months, we will be electing a new president and a new Congress, so we might as well let the next administration worry about the highly divisive proposal,” Atienza said. “Third, even assuming Congress reinstates the death penalty tomorrow, the President still won’t see any judicial executions being carried out for the remainder of his term,” he said. Duterte will finish his six-year term in 2022. The last time Congress passed a law reimposing capital punishment in 1993, the first death verdict was not carried out until 1999, or until six years later, due to legal challenges and mandatory reviews, Atienza pointed out. A death penalty bill was actually passed by the House on third and final reading during the previous 17th Congress. However, the measure faced a roadblock in the Senate and was not taken up......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

Retired US Navy officer proposes ship repair facilities in Subic

A decorated former United States Navy admiral has discounted the possibility of the reported plan to re-establish an American military base in the Philippines like the facility they used to share in Subic Bay.In an open letter to President Duterte, retired US Navy Rear Admiral Daniel W. McKinnon, Jr. instead suggests it would be a “good business” for the Philippines to embrace the idea of bringing shipyard jobs back to Subic Bay. McKinnon was reacting to the statement made by President Duterte during his State of the Nation Address last week where the latter flatly rejected the reported US plan to return to its former naval base in the Philippines. “I saw in the press that in your recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) you voiced concern about the United States Navy returning to establish a base in the Philippines, like the remarkable joint security facility we used to share in Subic. I believe I can assure you it will never happen,” the retired US naval officer said in his letter dated July 29, 2020.McKinnon, who was stationed at the former US base in Subic, said what can happen is that the US Navy can help re-establish a viable “commercial” ship overhaul and voyage repair, or even ship construction industry on historic Subic Bay. “And why not? It is neither war provocation nor threatening to the Philippine people,” the retired US Navy officer said.If approached to bring shipyard jobs back to Subic Bay under a public-private partnership, the Philippine government should embrace the idea, noting that the Philippines is a 7,000-island archipelago straddling a major artery of world commerce. “Repairing ships transiting that artery is only good business,” he said. He explained that the US Navy, and every sea power, commercial or naval, needs voyage repair.  For decades the Ship Repair Facility (SRF) on the deep-water port of Subic Bay, and a similar facility in the port of Yokosuka in Japan, helped sustain the upkeep of ships far from home. He recalled having attended the opening of Philseco, a commercial ship repair facility at Subic City in 1981. The US bases, however, were closed in 1992 after the Philippine Senate rejected the extension of its tenure.  The facility later became Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, a commercial bulk cargo ship construction on the Redondo peninsula across the City of Olongapo. “It became of national importance, providing employment to the many skilled Philippine shipyard workers displaced when the US Navy SRF at Olongapo closed in 1992. It was sad to see Hanjin go into bankruptcy and the effect it had on Philippine families,” McKinnon said. In his open letter, McKinnon remembered back in 1968 when his naval ship was undergoing repair in Subic. “I and my friends became tourists. It was wonderful to attend a concert of the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, visit the historic island of Corregidor, and learn to love ‘pancit’, both ‘canton’ and ‘bihon’. Doctors loved going into the small communities on Luzon providing family health care. Ships, both commercial and military, need voyage repair. Sailors go ashore, become tourists, and make friends.” Upon the closure of the SRF in Subic, the US Navy workload moved to countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, among others. When the first United States military command was established in Singapore in 1991, it became a regional contracting center, not a base.  “It was all about the conduct of business in Asia,” he said. While in Subic Bay, McKinnon was assigned as Director, Shipbuilding and Overhaul Contracts, Naval Sea Systems Command and Commanding Officer, Naval Supply Depot.  He co-founded an organization that provides vocational training to unemployed young men, co-founded a foundation that supported the City of Olongapo hospital and orphanage, and later becoming an honorary citizen of the city.In his military career, McKinnon was a recipient of two Legions of Merit and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal of the US Department of Defense. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2020

In Mecca, dreams of a ‘green hajj’

A smaller carbon footprint, less waste, and more environmentally friendly — this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca, dramatically scaled down due to coronavirus, has opened up the prospect of a “green hajj”. This year’s dramatically downscaled Hajj pilgrimage has had a much less adverse effect on the environment than previous years (AFP Photo/STR) In addition to being a logistical and security headache, one of the planet’s largest gatherings, which drew some 2.5 million people last year, also typically poses huge environmental challenges. The procession of so many worshippers, over a short time and in a limited space, results in an assault on the desert kingdom’s delicate environment. Thousands of vehicles generate substantial air pollution, while the pilgrims leave behind an avalanche of waste, including enormous quantities of plastic water bottles. This year’s hajj, limited to a maximum of 10,000 attendees, was by all accounts literally a breath of fresh air. But for environmental activist Nouhad Awwad, it’s not so much the size of the crowd that determines the impact on the environment but more “our collective behaviour”. “This year’s hajj, although taking place at a difficult time globally, can be a source of hope,” the Greenpeace campaigner told AFP. “It gives an idea of what a green pilgrimage could look like,” she added. The scenes in Mecca since the hajj began on Wednesday are very different from those of past years. Rather than the vast crowds that move between the sites, casting rubbish as they go and sometimes prone to deadly crushes, the movement of the pilgrims has been limited and orderly. Even the pebbles they use to symbolically “stone the devil” have been sanitised, as part of elaborate amenity kits provided by authorities that include disinfectant and masks. “Everything is clean and there are only a few municipal workers collecting the small amounts of garbage,” Azim Allah Farha, a pilgrim from Afghanistan who has performed the hajj several times before, said at Mount Arafat, the site of one of the main rituals. One of those workers, Rahim Fajreddine, recalls the hundreds of tonnes of rubbish — plastic bags, cans and food plates — left in past years at the rocky hill outside Mecca where pilgrims pray and repent in the high point of the hajj. “Large numbers of workers had to be mobilised to remove all the debris they left behind as they passed,” he recalled. Eco awakening Until recently, the environment was not a central concern of Saudi Arabia when it came to the hajj. As “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”, the kingdom was concerned primarily with accommodating as many pilgrims as possible, mindful of the long waiting lists for Muslims, who must complete the hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are able. Huge extensions have been built in recent decades to increase the capacity of the two mosques and pilgrimage sites. Saudi Arabia hopes to welcome 30 million pilgrims to the kingdom annually by 2030. However, by 2018 the local authorities launched a waste separation programme and began to consider recycling. Signs in several languages were posted to encourage the pilgrims to do their bit and dispose of their waste properly. This year, despite the relatively tiny number of pilgrims, the municipality deployed more than 13,000 cleaners to the holy sites, equipped with hundreds of skips, according to an official statement. ‘This is our future’ Awwad said that although this year’s hajj is leaving a small environmental footprint because of the constraints generated by the global pandemic, in the future the same outcome must be achieved by choice. “By investing in sustainable development and adopting green practises, we can continue to live our traditions and perform our rituals while keeping our skies clear of pollution and our streets free of waste,” the activist said. She imagines “a hajj with its millions of pilgrims in total symbiosis with their environment, in a Mecca powered by solar energy”. In a kingdom that ranks as the world’s top energy exporter, and where the shift to renewables is going slower than planned, her vision is unlikely to become a reality any time soon.   “But this is the future we should all be working towards,” she insisted......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

ON THIS DAY: Philippine volleyball makes SEA Games return

On this day five years ago, the Philippines made its return in the Southeast Asian Games after a 10-year hiatus. The hyped PHI women’s team saw action for the first time in the 2015 Singapore edition of the biennial meet and faced Indonesia in a match that drew headlines even before the actual game at the OCBC Arena Hall 2. In a controversial move, the Philippines filed a protest against Indonesia, demanding a gender test for its powerful spiker Aprilia Manganang because of her masculine appreance and physique. The request was denied by the Singaporean SEA Games organizing committee, citing that the FIVB had already cleared Manganang in a previous FIVB-sanctioned tournament. [Related story: Philippine request for gender test on Indonesian player denied] The protest backfired for the Filipinas as they were given a rude welcome by the Indonesians, particularly Manganang. Manganang let the Filipinas know that no amount of distraction will get her out of her game as she banged in 13 points to power Indonesia to a 25-22, 25-20, 25-14, win. [Related story: PHI protest backfires as inspired Manganang waxed-hot] Alyssa Valdez, who was the Team Philippines' flag-bearer, paced the Pinays with 15 points, but the towering sisters Jaja Santiago and elder sibling Dindin Santiago-Manabat were neutralized and had only seven and two points, respectively. It was a big letdown for the Nationals, who were bracketed in Group B together with Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. That SEA Games edition format assured the top two teams from each bracket at least a bronze medal. However, it did mark the historic return of the Philippines in the SEA Games since winning bronze in the 2005 Manila edition.    The Philippine women’s team that time was composed of Valdez, the Santiago sisters, Rhea Dimaculangan, Grethcel Soltones, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, Jia Morado, Rachele Anne Daquis, Aby Marano, Bea De Leon and Denden Lazaro under head coach Roger Gorayeb. In men’s play, the Filipinos found early success after beating Malaysia, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19, in their Group A opener. The Philippines was bracketed with Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. Marck Espejo led that PHI team together with John Vic De Guzman, AJ Pareja, Rex Intal, Josh Villanueva, Kheeno Franco, Edward Camposano, Ysay Marasigan, Sandy Montero, Peter Torres, Timothy Sto. Tomas and Ish Polvorosa with Oliver Almadro calling the shots.     ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2020