Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla talk about getting married

Kapamilya stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla are talking about getting married during the pandemic.

Collectively known as KathNiel, the stars finally broke their silence on rumors that they are taking the plunge.

In an exclusive interview for TV Patrol Monday night, KathNiel confirmed that they are really getting married not in real life but only in their digital movie.

“We’re getting married… sa pinakabagong handog sa ating lahat ng Star Cinema. Sa digital movie series na ‘The House Arrest of Us,’” the real-life sweethearts revealed.

“The House Arrest of Us” is a 13-part romantic family digital movie series about two individuals caught by the lockdown under one roof, together with their families, the news program reported.

But the stars clarified that the digital movie is not a sequel to their 2018 blockbuster film “The Hows of Us.”

Photos courtesy of ABS-CBN.

“It’s not a sequel. Basically hindi siya connected sa ‘Hows of Us’. It’s a family series, nandun din ‘yung romance. Halo-halo siya pero it’s not related kay George at kay Primo’ (their characters from ‘The Hows of Us’),” they said.

The cast and crew for the digital movie have been shooting for the past two weeks now.

“Iba siya sa nakasanayan namin. Naka-lock in lahat ‘yung set-up tapos limited lang talaga ‘yung mga pumapasok, at lahat fina-follow ‘yung safety protocols. Nakakapanibago pero lahat naman nagko-comply,” Bernardo said.
 
Padilla said: “Kakaiba ‘yung experience na nandito kami sa village, parang nasa bubble lang din kami. Walang pwedeng lumabas o pumasok. Kami kami lang ang nandito, astig din siya.”

Fans of KathNiel speculated that the stars were finally getting married for real after the mothers of the stars, Min Bernardo and Karla Estrada, posted photos of a wedding gown and invitation with the ‘KN’ initials.

Also appearing in the digi movie are: Herbert Bautista, Ruffa Gutierrez, Gardo Versoza, Arlene Muhlach, Dennis Padilla, Riva Quenery, Alora Sasam, and Anthony Jennings.

The “House Arrest of US” premieres on Oct. 24 on KTX.ph and Oct. 25 on iWant TFC.

Duterte mediates in House of Representatives leadership problem

President Duterte has stepped in to help resolve the leadership conflict in the House of Representatives, holding a meeting with the two contending allies Tuesday night.

(photo from Sen. Bong Go)

The President met with House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco at the Malago Clubhouse to address issues arising from their controversial term-sharing deal.

The Palace earlier announced that the President preferred Cayetano and Velasco to honor their agreement to split the leadership stint in the 18th Congress.

Based on the photos released by Senator Christopher Go, who also attended the meeting, the President appeared to have a serious conversation with Cayetano and Velasco. Duterte was seated in front of the two lawmakers. Go, the President’s former aide, was observing at a far end.

Another set of photos showed the President holding a separate meeting with Cayetano, Velasco and several other lawmakers. 

Malacañang has declined to issue a statement about the results of the President’s meeting with the lawmakers amid reports that Velasco will take over as Speaker by October 14. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it is up to the House leadership to make any announcement about the meeting. 

Prior to the meeting, Roque affirmed the President’s preference for the term-sharing deal to push through. Duterte however recognized that if Velasco is unable to get enough support for his assumption to the House leadership, he cannot do anything about it.

“Nasabi ko na po ang posisyon ni Presidente: ‘I hope they honor the agreement pero wala siyang magagawa kung walang boto si Congressman Lord Allan Velasco,’” Roque said.

In July 2019, the President offered to help end the infighting in the speakership race by proposing a term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco, both administration allies. 

Under the agreement endorsed by Duterte, Cayetano is supposed to serve as House Speaker for 15 months, followed by Velasco in the remaining 21 months. Cayetano is supposed to end his term this month.

Recently, a group of lawmakers expressed support for the continued leadership of Cayetano at the Lower House. 

Velasco has reportedly reminded Cayetano to honor the gentleman’s agreement, saying it was based on mutual trust and confidence.  He said both sides are obligated to avoid statements or situations that would subvert the term-sharing covenant.

Trans woman found dead in Caloocan river

The dead body of a transgender woman was found floating in a river in Caloocan City on Monday afternoon.

(photo from Caloocan Police)

In a belated report from the Caloocan City Police, the victim was identified as Christian Nierra or Donna Nierra, 23, from Phase 8A, Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

She reportedly went missing on Saturday until her corpse was recovered.

According to police, several children were playing by the river near Nierra’s residence when they saw the victim’s body at around 1:30 p.m.

A resident, who was informed by the children of what they saw, then contacted the police who processed the crime scene.

LGBT+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) group Bahaghari in a Facebook post is seeking justice for Nierra and pushed for the “urgent passage” of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identify Expression or SOGIE bill in Congress.

Investigation is ongoing.

Zephanie scores spots in multiple playlists with ‘Sabihin Mo Na Lang Kasi’

Zephanie landed on Spotify’s local editorial playlists through her newest single “Sabihin Mo Na Lang Kasi,” taking a spot on multiple music playlists that focus the spotlight on rising and leading OPM songs.

“I was kind of worried if people would like it since it’s different from my other singles. But when I started receiving and seeing comments about my song, it was such a relief that people liked it,” the young artist shared.

The sentimental acoustic track is currently featured in Spotify Philippines’ “OPM Rising” and “Pinoy Love Ballad” editorial playlists which promotes new releases by OPM artists and rounds up ‘light and sugary’ OPM tracks respectively.

It also previously enjoyed inclusion in “Tatak Pinoy” editorial playlist which lists down the current leading OPM songs.

“Sabihin Mo Na Lang Kasi” is unlike the “Idol PH” winner’s earlier releases, as it tackles not the bliss of young love, but its looming end. It’s a brave take on an impending breakup, with the singer provoking her partner to be honest about what he truly feels about their relationship.

Zephanie

Prior to her latest single, the talented vocalist sang the theme song of the Star Cinema film “James and Pat and Dave” with her catchy version of Gloc-9’s “Simpleng Tao,” which succeeded her third release, “Pangako Ko.”

Meanwhile, Zephanie teased upcoming projects that she will be busy with for the remaining months of 2020, including the possibility of reviving more OPM songs due to the success of her YouTube song covers.

“Before I had my original songs, doing song covers on YouTube was something I usually did and it’s amazing that people can discover or listen to anyone who wants to share their own version or style of a song,” she explained. “I want to try my best to be one of the artists who keeps our OPM alive.”

Watch Zephanie’s performance video of “Sabihin Mo Na Lang Kasi” on Star Music’s YouTube channel and stream the song on various digital streaming services. For more details, like Star Music on Facebook (www.facebook.com/starmusicph), and follow it on Twitter and Instagram (@StarMusicPH).

Bigger budget for DOST’s research and development pushed

Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday pushed for the increase in the 2021 budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for research and development (R&D).

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Villanueva, who led the Senate finance subcommittee’s hearing on the DOST’s proposed 2021 budget, said senators were supportive of allocating more funds for R&D to boost efforts for innovation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most of us here in the Senate are supportive of research and development. Now is the best time to innovate, because while it is good news that the Philippines has reached 50th place in the Global Innovation Index 2020, we still need to do more,” said Villanueva, one of the vice chairpersons of the Senate Committee of Finance.

“With strengthened support to the DOST and R&D, not only do we allow innovation to provide solutions relevant to the pandemic and other pressing concerns of the country, we also retain and generate jobs amid the economic recession,” he added.

Villanueva cited the Global Innovation Index which ranked the Philippines 50th out of 130 economies due to the increased investments of the government in research and development.

But he raised concern over the cut on the DOST’s proposed budget, saying it would affect the various research priorities of the agency, particularly in the government’s COVID-19 response and in the department’s regional development programs.

The DOST had initially asked for a P36.269-billion budget for next year, but was only allowed P23.89 billion by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The agency’s proposed budget for its R&D institutes also suffered a P76.2-million budget cut, from the P2.488 billion this year to P2.411 billion proposed budget for 2021.

These include allocations for the Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, Philippine Textile Research Institute, Metal Industry Research and Development Institute, and its Industrial Technology Development Institute.

Villanueva said the Philippines is lagging behind other countries in terms of funding research, whose total comprise only 0.15 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the one percent average research expenditure of other countries based on a UNESCO study.

Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said at least P1.2 billion is needed to finance and sustain the DOST’s research programs.

Check out the bubble baggage of Paul Lee and Scottie Thompson

Screenshots from the Youtube channels of Scottie Thompson and Rubie Chua-Lee.

PBA players have yet to discover what real life would be inside bubble in Clark, Pampanga.

But when they do adjust to the new environment, it will be business as usual for these players at the Quest Hotel.

Paul Lee of Magnolia and Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra shared their version of “What’s inside my bag” by letting the viewers take a peek of their bubble baggage.

A few days ago, Lee, with the help of his wife Rubie, unboxed his big haul of Nike shoes.

This time around, the Magnolia guard showed his belongings composed of three luggage for his apparel and therapy equipment, three special bags for his 12 pairs of shoes, a box full of food, snacks and spices, and one extra bag.

Screenshot from Rubie Chua-Lee’s YouTube channel

“Poproblemahin ko na lang ‘yung pauwi,” Lee said in jest. “Oo, kasi wala na siyang helping hand [sa pag-impake],” Rubie added.

Thompson, meanwhile, pretty much prepared the same things. But for extra workout, the Ginebra standout brought handy gym equipment such as jumping rope, deflated yoga ball, and yoga mat, among others.

His partner Pau Fajardo helped in preparing three luggage and one gym bag.

Screenshot from Scottie Thompson’s YouTube channel

“Talagang ang hirap ng buhay OFW,” Thompson said. “Malalayo ka sa pamilya. ‘Yun nga mga ka-Barangay, para kaming mga OFW kami. Ang daming dala.”

“Talagang sacrifice ‘yung gagawin namin ngayon. Nandoon na rin kami so susulitin na namin. Ta-try namin yung best namin para makakuha ng panalo sa mga laban na darating,” the 27-year-old Thompson added.

Upon arrival at Quest Hotel, players will undergo quarantine in their hotel rooms after the swab tests before proceeding to 5-on-5 scrimmages at the Angeles University Foundation. 

More than 150 newsrooms celebrate World News Day

Journalists from around the world, including Manila Bulletin’s digital content head Pam Rances, participated in the commemoration of World News Day through a webinar titled “COVID-19: How can you contribute?”, which focused on discussing newsroom efforts in dispelling misinformation, debunking myths and rumors and how the younger generation can help fight it amid the pandemic.

(Photo via Pam Rances / MANILA BULLETIN)

In the 30-minute session, Rances highlighted the need to solidify trust and better communication between the media and the readers in order to guarantee consumption of information on a level that everyone understands.

“Factual and simple,” she said, “communication is a two-way street. More than just bombarding them with information, we have to let them know that they can talk to us, rely on us, in order to decrease the possibility of them falling victim to implausible and ill-researched stories.”

“I can’t confidently say that we are doing enough [to fight misinformation] but I’d like everyone to know that we are doing our best,” she said. “We have to understand that fighting the infodemic is a continuous process and tomorrow cannot be guaranteed as a fake news-free day.”

The Jakarta Post’s world news editor Tama Salim and ST’s Singapore editor Zakir Hussain joined the panel discussion as they talked about the ongoing situation of misinformation and the complexities the twin crisis of infodemic and pandemic brought in their respective countries, Indonesia and Singapore.

Hussain said, “In hindsight, maybe we could have done some things differently, but I think we tried to reflect fears, concerns, and points of view fairly, all things considered.”

The webinar kicked off at 4PM which was live-streamed from the newsroom of The Straits Times (ST) with more than 250 attendees consisting of journalists and students. 

Abueva heading to the bubble? Coach Topex teases fans with Instagram post

The return of “The Beast”? Coach Topex Robinson teases the fans with an Instagram post.

Phoenix Super LPG interim coach Topex Robinson whetted the appetite of PBA fans demanding for the reinstatement of Calvin Abueva with a social media post on Tuesday.

Robinson posted an Instagram photo of him and Abueva with a caption saying they are heading north.

“Northbound,” Robinson said, an obvious reference to the PBA bubble in Clark, Pampanga.

Abueva also raised the excitement by posting a selfie while wearing a white Phoenix Super LPG polo shirt.

“Waiting the signal,” said Abueva, who had met the conditions of PBA commissioner Willie Marcial since being slapped with an indefinite suspension in June 2019.

Their Instagram photos came after the two met with Games and Amusements Board commissioner Eduard Trinidad at the government regulatory body for professional sports’ office in Makati City.

Marcial was non committal when asked by fans to bring back the man they call “The Beast” before the resumption of the PBA season on Oct. 11.

“Katulad po ng sinabi ko, ito po ay para sa ikabubuti ni Calvin, sa kabutihan po ng PBA at sa kabutihan po ng lahat itong ginagawa namin,” said Marcial, who appeared virtually in Tuesday’s PBA bubble presscon presided by BCDA chief Vince Dizon and CDC head Noel Manankil.

Fans voiced their displeasure after the PBA disallowed Abueva from Phoenix’s roster during last Friday’s deadline for teams to submit their 25-man lineup using the #LetCalvinPlay.

“Kung nagagalit po kayo sa akin, pasensiya muna po. Ito po ay para sa kabutihan po ng lahat,” said Marcial.

Merkel urges ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Karabakh fighting

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged an immediate end to the fighting in the region of Nagorny Karabakh in phone calls with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, her spokesman said Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting on September 23, 2020 at the chancellery in Berlin. (Photo by Kay Nietfeld / POOL / AFP)

At least 95 people have been killed in the clashes that have been raging since the weekend, including 11 civilians, according to the latest available tallies.

“The chancellor urgently called for an immediate ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table,” Steffen Seibert said.

Merkel spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday and with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday, he added.

The so-called Minsk Group of mediators, led by France, Russia and the United States, “offers an appropriate forum” for dialogue, Merkel said in the calls.

The UN Security Council is due to hold emergency talks Tuesday behind closed doors on Nagorny Karabakh, diplomats said.

Yerevan and Baku have been locked in a territorial dispute over the ethnic Armenian region of Nagorny Karabakh for decades, with deadly fighting flaring up last July and in 2016.

The region declared independence from Azerbaijan after a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.

It is not recognised by any country — including Armenia — and is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community.

Sell other properties, but not those in Japan — Locsin

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said if need be, the government should sell the properties of other departments instead of the priced Philippine properties in Japan as suggested by no less than President Duterte himself.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
(PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I will never agree to the sale of our properties in Japan for any reason. Sell the properties of the departments of budget, treasury, health above all for its lousy response to COVID,” Locsin said in a tweet.

Locsin was reacting to a statement made by President Duterte on Monday night, suggesting the sale of the Philippine properties in Japan as part of the government effort to find other sources of funding for the country’s response to COVID-19.

Instead of disposing of the historic properties in Japan, the DFA secretary suggested that the government should instead consider those “idle” ones belonging to other government agencies.

“Sell the properties of our line departments. Many idle ones,” he said.  

Locsin, known for his oftentimes sarcastic and acerbic tweets, specifically pointed to the properties under the Department of Health (DOH) that should be sold in lieu of the properties in Japan.

“Imagine selling our Japan properties to fund the programs of DOH? Rob PhilHealth some more instead. They’re good at that. Sell San Lazaro. Sell RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine),” he said.

Almost two weeks ago, Locsin decried an alleged “plot” to sell any of the four properties located in Tokyo and Kobe.

“There is another plot to dispose of four of our Japan properties. This is a second Pearl Harbor perpetrated by Filipinos on our own patrimony,” the DFA chief said in a social media post.

He, however, did not name those behind the plot.

The four properties being referred to are the 3,179-square meter Philippine property on 306 Roppongi St. 5-Chome Minato-ku in Tokyo; the 2,489.96-sq.m. Nampeidai property at 11-24 Nampeidai-machi, Shibuya-ku also in Tokyo; the 764.72 sq.m. commercial property at 63 Naniwa-cho in Kobe; and the residential property at 1-980-2 Obanoyama-cho, Shinohara, Nada-ku, Kobe.

In a 1990 ruling, the Supreme Court said the four are “properties and the capital goods and services procured from the Japanese government for national development projects are part of the indemnification to the Filipino people for their losses in life and property and their suffering during World War II.”

Our commitment to multilateralism

The United Nations celebrated its 75th anniversary last September 21 with the theme “The future we want; the United Nations we need — reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism.”

Multilateralism is a concept that scholars have long been studying in international relations. It calls on states to follow international norms and pay great respect to international institutions. This contrasts with unilateralism, where a state upholds national political and commercial interests as it seeks to influence international relations. There is also the concept of bilateralism where a state forms alliances that discriminates against a third party.

President Duterte affirmed the nation’s commitment to multilateralism in his recent speech before the UN General Assembly when he said, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic: “To this end, we rededicate ourselves to multilateralism. The UN remains humanity’s essential organization. But it is only as effective as we make it. Let us empower UN — reform it — to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Let us strengthen it so it can fully deliver its mandate to maintain peace and security, uphold justice and human rights, and promote freedom and social progress for all.”

In his own UN speech, China President Xi Jinping also highlighted multilateralism in his discourse on today’s problems, from the global COVID crisis to the challenge of climate change. On the pandemic, he reaffirmed China’s $2-billion donation to the efforts of the UN and the World Health Organization against COVID-19 and declared that China’s vaccine, when ready, will be a “global public good.” He reiterated China’s call for the world to come together in a “Community of Shared Future for Mankind.”

Pope Francis, speaking at the same UN forum as head of the world’s smallest state, echoed the call for multilateralism. “At present, we are witnessing an erosion of multilateralism, which is all the more serious in light of the development of new forms of military technology…. We need to break with the present climate of distrust,” he said.

The special session of the UN General Assembly gave the world’s national leaders an opportunity to address the whole world via modern technology, without physically gathering together in view of the ongoing pandemic.
President Duterte’s statement in one part of his speech on the 2016 Arbitral Court ruling on the South China Sea drew a great deal of reaction and comment among local officials. But to the world community, it was his oneness with other world leaders, including China’s President Xi Jinping and the Vatican’s Pope Francis, in upholding multilateralism in world affairs as most significant.

In a world of so much division and self-interest and unilateralism, we need more nations and more leaders to uphold the principle of multilateralism — of reciprocity, of burden sharing, of joint action in world relations and world affairs.

Get Ready to Compete in the NBA 2K21 MyTEAM Unlimited $250,000 USD Tournament

NBA 2K is excited to announce the return of the MyTEAM Unlimited $250,000 USD Tournament for NBA 2K21. The tournament is already underway and will be played using the MyTEAM Unlimited Mode on NBA 2K21 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which features 5-on-5 NBA-style gameplay and allows users to choose any 13 cards from their Collection.

Players can enter the tournament by pre-qualifying at the beginning of each new MyTEAM Season. Seasons are new to NBA 2K21’s MyTEAM mode, and bring new content and ways to play MyTEAM all year long at no additional cost. Each new MyTEAM season features new daily, weekly and seasonal-based challenges and prizes for players to unlock. 

Players need to reach the Emerald Unlimited tier in Unlimited Mode to qualify for one of four GameDays, where they will compete for the highest score by playing a series of qualifying matches. Pre-qualifying is already underway for the first GameDay. 

The top four competitors with the highest score on each console family (PlayStation and Xbox) will be slotted for the final MyTeam Tournament on February 21, 2021, where 32 players will play head-to-head elimination matches until the winners from each console are determined. The two best console players will then compete in the final Championship on March 6, 2021 for their share of the $250,000 USD prize purse, where the winner will receive $200,000 USD and the runner-up will receive $50,000 USD. Due to current events, all matches including the finals will be played online.

The four GameDays in each of the upcoming Seasons are:

  • October 11, 2020
  • November 22, 2020
  • January 3, 2021
  • February 7, 2021

Pre-qualifying periods for each GameDay begins at the start of each new season:

  • Pre-Qualifying Period for First Game Day on October 10: Play between September 4, 2020 at 12:00:00 AM local time until October 11, 2020 at 12:59:59 AM PHT.
  • Pre-Qualifying Period for Second GameDay on November 22. Play between October 16, 2020 at 11:00:00 PM PHT until 12:59:59 AM PHT on November 22, 2020.
  • Pre-Qualifying Period for Third GameDay on January 3, 2021. Play between November 27, 2020 at 11:00:00 PM PHT until 12:59:59 AM PHT on January 3, 2021.
  • Pre-Qualifying Period for Fourth GameDay on February 7, 2021. Play between January 8, 2021 at 11:00:00 PM PHT until 12:59:59 AM PHT on February 7, 2021.
A picture containing text Description automatically generated

The tournament is open to players aged 18 and over in eligible territories. Players must compete on the same platform family (PlayStation or Xbox) throughout the entire contest.  Full contest rules are available at nba.2k.com/myteamtournament and an abbreviated set of rules is below: 

NBA 2K21 MyTEAM Unlimited $250,000 Tournament Abbreviated Rules

Open to legal residents of the 50 United States & D.C. (excluding AZ, CT, MD, and ND), Canada (excluding Quebec), Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey, who are at least 18 years of age and the age of majority in their state/country/province of residence. Game must be played on Xbox One (“XBO”) or PlayStation 4 (“PS4”).  To participate, you must have NBA 2K21 game (“Game”), Xbox Gold Service or PS Plus service, and Internet connection. Void in AZ, CT, MD, ND, Quebec and where prohibited.

This Contest consists of: (i) the Pre-Qualifying Period; (ii) the GameDays; and (iii) the Tournament.  You must qualify during the Pre-Qualifying Period to participate in the GameDays.  The Pre-Qualifying Period begins on September 4, 2020 at 12:00:00 AM local time.  The first GameDay takes place on October 11, 2020 and the last GameDay takes place on February 7, 2021.  You must qualify for the Tournament, which is currently scheduled to take place on February 21, 2021 at 1:00 AM PHT. 

Subject to the Official Rules, which will be posted at nba.2k.com/myteamtournament.  Sponsored by 2K Games, Inc. (“2K”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., 10 Hamilton Landing, Novato, CA 94949, USA. 

Former ‘PBB’ housemate Mikee Agustin announces pregnancy

Seven years into her relationship with dancer Yexel Sebastian, ex-“Pinoy Big Brother” housemate and former GirlTrends member Mikee Agustin is now pregnant with her first child.

Yexel Sebastian, Mikee Agustin

The two revealed the news through a video posted on Yexel’s YouTube channel titled: “Vhong Navarro Victim! Buntis si Mikee prank.”

They explained: “Actually, hindi naman talaga si Kuya Vhong ang pina-prank namin kung hindi kayo. Hindi kasi sa amin ganoon kadali na ilabas agad-agad. Kaya kung napapansin niyo kada live namin lagi siyang naka-black.”

“Saka ‘yung pagpupursige natin sa pagbebenta — ‘di ba nagbebenta kami — kasi magkakaroon na kami ng baby. So talagang nag-ipon kami ng pera.”

Mikee, on the other hand, noted how they see their upcoming baby as a “blessing” amid the pandemic.

“Siyempre nalulungkot kami para sa mga kababayan nating Filipino pero siyempre hindi naman lahat pare-pareho. Gaya ng sa akin, itong 2020 is sobrang blessing sa akin ito. Number 1, ‘yung baby ko paparating at maraming nangyari sa buhay ko ngayong 2020 na mas better kumpara sa 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Para sa akin the best po ito lalo na may regalo si Lord sa atin,” she related.

“Siya na maglalaro ng aking mga toy, may tagapagmana na. Bagong chapter ito ng aming buhay. Sana ay kasama namin kayo sa panibagong yugto, kasama ang aming baby,” Yexel ended.

DILG prioritizes issuance of nat’l IDs to 5-M citizens in 32 provinces

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Tuesday that it targets to provide national identification cards to five million Filipinos in 32 priority provinces as the re-registration for the national ID system kicks off on October 9.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya,
(PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a virtual press briefing, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the 32 provinces are Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Compostela Valley, Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, Davao Occidental and Tawi-Tawi.

He noted that these provinces are already in coordination with the Philippine Statistics Authority as well as with the DILG regional offices.

The DILG spokesperson added the issuance of the national IDs will continue in the other parts of the country after the initial distribution salvo in the priority provinces.

Malaya stressed that the national ID system aims to harmonize, integrate and interconnect the countless and redundant government IDs with the creation of a single national identification system.

The ID will contain the Philippine identification system (PhilSys) number, full name, facial image, sex, date of birth, blood type and address of the concerned individual.

Malaya also said the PSA has requested the DILG “for assistance in securing a memorandum of agreement with various local government agencies.

Explaining further, Malaya noted the MOA will ensure that the LGUs will provide the PSA with the necessary assistance with regards to “ pre-registration, the manpower requirement, in terms of transportation, in terms of crowd control as well as other logistical support.’’

Labor coalition opposes PhilHealth privatization, dissolution

The Nagkaisa labor coalition on Tuesday rejected the privatization or dissolution of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). 

(MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, the group said that privatizing PhilHealth, or worse, dissolving it, based on allegations of massive corruption is not the solution.

“The solution to the current mess in PhilHealth is to thoroughly investigate allegations of massive and systemic corruption and hold both the appointees and the appointing powers accountable,” Nagkaisa chairperson Sonny Matula said in a statement.

“We also fear that abolishing it may also wash down evidences of corruption in the agency as in the case of the privatization projects undertaken in the airline, water, power, and telecommunications industries, to name a few,” he added.

Apart from investigating and holding to account all those responsible for draining PhilHealth, Nagkaisa said there is also a need to put up a more effective management team, review its policies to plug the loopholes in the system, infuse more public funds to ensure the longevity of the institution, and replace all the current sectoral representative with worthier appointees.

The group also said that privatizing PhilHealth would surely reverse “our gains in institutionalizing universal health care.”

“Privatization in most jurisdictions around the world has led to commodification of health services. Its commodification comes with higher costs of all health services as profit defines the corporations’ bottom line in rendering their services to the public,” said Matula.

The group also believes that privatizing healthcare is a “cure worse than the disease.”

“If privatization is the most sensible argument against corruption, incompetence, and patronage system in state bureaucracy, then most, if not all public institutions and government offices, should have been privatized or dissolved a long time ago,” said Matula.

On Monday, President Duterte said he is going to propose to Congress to abolish PhilHealth.

New Clark City eyed to host National Open

Dr. Philip Ella Juico during the PATAFA Weekly press conference at Athletes Stadium in New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac, September 1, 2019 (Rio Deluvio)

The Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) targets New Clark City in Tarlac as its venue for the 2020 National Open set on Dec. 4 to 6.

PATAFA chief Philip Juico said they are still discussing the plans to the management of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority for the staging of the three-day event.

A month-long training bubble for select national athletes in Canlubang will precede the National Open, which is essential for local-based athletes seeking berths to the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Juico said they have submitted their health protocols for the training bubble, as well as for the competition, to the Philippine Sports Commission.

He is optimistic that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) would approve these plans considering that it involves national athletes.

“I’m sure na mapapayagan naman kami dito because these are national athletes preparing for international competitions next year,” Juico said.

The training bubble is expected to start by the first week of November. Athletes will then go directly from Canlubang to Tarlac in batches for the competition.

As for the tournament, Juico said they are reducing the number of events to comply with the government protocols.

Since March, all national athletes are currently doing home training in their provinces due to quarantine restrictions.  Some are craving for “actual training,” saying that home training is not enough to keep them in top shape.

It would be a busy year for athletes in 2021 as they are expected to compete in Olympic qualifiers for the Tokyo Games, the Southeast Asian Games, and the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

San Juan City to start accepting reservation for cemetery visits on October 1

San Juan City will implement scheduled cemetery visits from October 16 to 28 and from November 5 to 15.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

All public and private burial grounds are closed to the public nationwide from October 29 to November 4 to avoid mass gathering that may result in the spread of the coronavirus infections. However, burial and cremation services will continue.   

“I know how important it is for the Filipino families to visit, offer flowers and prayers to their departed loved ones in the cemeteries during All Souls’ Day, it is just unfortunate that because of the pandemic, this tradition will be compromised this year,” Mayor Francis Zamora said Tuesday.

Zamora issued Executive Order FMZ-051 allowing regulated visits at 30 percent capacity of all  public and private cemeteries.  

“I just thought there has to be another way of letting the people pay homage to their loved ones within the season month without putting anyone at risk because of the virus,” he said.

“That is why I issued this EO designating certain dates that these facilities will be open for public but subject to prior reservation and registration that would ensure that the venue capacity being imposed by the IATF is complied with,” he added. 

Those visiting San Juan Public Cemetery can reserve their visitation slots online through www.picktime.com/sanjuancityundas2020. Visitors can also contact the San Juan Undas Hotlinem at 7728-9818.

“We will start accepting reservations on October 1,” Zamora said.

The visits which will start at 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. will be limited to two hours per batch. For  public memorial parks and cemeteries, each batch shall be limited to 270 visitors while only 30 visitors will be allowed per batch in private memorial parks and columbarium.

Zamora said multiple reservations are allowed but only two persons per family are allowed to visit at a given schedule. The reservation will be on a “first-come, first-served basis.”

There will be no age restrictions during cemetery visits.  Selling candles, flowers, food and drinks in the cemetery is strictly prohibited.

Minimum health protocols like physical distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields must be observed at all times.

In a separate order issued early this month, Zamora banned “trick or treat” and other Halloween activities, especially during All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.

“Halloween activities are allowed to be conducted in the confines of one’s own home, provided that social distancing and other precautionary measures are complied with,” the order stated.

Bacolod to shift back to GCQ

BACOLOD CITY – This city will shift to a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) by October 1 from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

This was announced on Monday night by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The city is now under MECQ until September 30 due to the rising number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases that was posted the past weeks.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia wrote a letter to Duque on September 28, appealing for the de-escalation of the community quarantine status to GCQ from MECQ next month.

Leonardia cited in his letter that they have instituted several measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In fact, he noted that they have successfully implemented a strategic community mass testing, which is currently being followed-up with daily targeted testing.

To date, the city has conducted 22,645 tests, Leonardia said.

Leonardia also said that they have instituted aggressive contact tracing operation, with the launching of the Bacolod City contact tracing system (BaCTrac), a localized web and mobile application enacted through City Ordinance No. 941, Series of 2020.

The mayor also said they have continuously been working to expand the city’s healthcare facilities – including providing for additional quarantine and isolation beds, and hiring health workers.

With these measures in place, Leonardia said they were confident that the city of Bacolod will be ready to transition into GCQ by October 1.

As of September 27, there were 3,636 COVID cases recorded in the city, with 66 deaths or a case of fatality rate of 1.81 percent, he said.

The recoveries also reached 2,335 or 64.21 percent, which correlates to good management and treatment of COVID cases at the isolation facilities and hospitals.

Based on the local government unit risk matrix, the past two-week growth rate of COVID-19 cases here was negative-26 percent, which is considered low, being below 0 percent, while the average daily attack rate was11 percent.

This was significant indication of a continuous reduction of additional cases in the city. 

“Given the forgoing, it was but a logical step for the city to transition into GCQ. Our city must reopen several businesses and allow back public transport to enliven the economy,” the mayor said.

“While saving lives is of ultimate importance, with a GCQ, we can also save the livelihoods of the people,” he added.

DILG: 16,600 out of 43,600 applicants qualify as contact tracers

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday that 16,600 out of the 43,600 applicants have already qualified as contact tracers.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview over Teleradyo, Año revealed the hiring will be relentless until the ideal number of hired contact tracers reaches 50,000.

He added the contact tracers will receive P18,000 monthly salary and will trace the close contacts or those exposed to COVID-19 patients.

The DILG chief also insisted on the need to aggressively place all COVID-19 patients in the state-accredited isolation facilities.

Año added that those in close contact with the COVID-19 individuals should be locked down and tested before being determined if they are fit to get out of their houses.

He stressed this after making numerous declarations in the past that it is the best way to end the progressive transmission of the disease.

However, home quarantine will be allowed for patients with comorbidities and who have separate bedrooms and bathrooms.

On Monday, President Duterte retained Metro Manila under the general community quarantine (GCQ) from October 1 to 31.

In the same interview, National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 spokesman retired Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that under the extended GCQ, Metro Manila residents can also fly to Boracay starting Oct. 1 provided that they tested negative for COVID-19 and have been quarantined before their trip.
“Kalibo town has a hospital and isolation facility where tourists who will catch the virus can go. Health protocols will be strictly enforced, including the wearing of masks at the beach, and a ban on sports activities and night parties,’’ said Año.

He added that Kalibo town authorities will be very strict in accommodating tourists.

Wildfires rip through California wine country, tens of thousands flee

Tens of thousands of Californians were forced to flee their homes in the world-famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions Monday as another new wildfire fanned by fierce winds killed three people.

A firefighting helicopter performs a water drop as firefighters work below during the Martindale Fire in the Angeles National Forest on September 28, 2020 near Santa Clarita, California. Evacuations were ordered for residents near the area as wildfires have burned a record 3.75 million acres this year in California. Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP

Under an opaque orange sky and a sweltering heatwave, Napa vineyards were consumed and buildings devastated by a blaze that spread at a “dangerous rate” through 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) and was zero percent contained, state fire agency Cal Fire said.

Celebrated wineries such as Chateau Boswell and part of Castello di Amorosa went up in smoke, while there was a “significant loss” of buildings on the fringes of Santa Rosa — neighboring Sonoma County’s largest town — said fire chief Tony Gossner.

Around 200 miles (320 kilometers) north, three people perished in a “very fast moving, very fluid, very hot” fire in Shasta county, said Sheriff Eric Magrini.

Between the two blazes more than 35,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate, with thousands more poised to flee, as “explosive fire growth” burnt through dry vegetation and difficult mountainous terrain, officials said.

The causes of the fires are still being investigated.

Calistoga, a picturesque community at the top of the Napa Valley known for hot springs and as a launchpad for wine tours, has largely been evacuated.

CeeBee Thompson spent sleepless hours watching flames in the distance and packing her car, as Calistoga’s recently installed warning sirens sounded twice during the night.

“We could see flames shooting up all night long,” Thompson told AFP. “The only thing we have left to do is put the cats in the car.”

‘All hell breaks loose’

The inferno is threatening communities in Napa and neighboring Sonoma still reeling from devastating wildfires in 2017, when 44 people died and thousands of buildings were razed.

“It’s like a double whammy,” Thompson said of the repeat destruction.

On Monday strong winds gusted up to 55 mph, blowing embers and spreading the wine country blaze named the “Glass Fire,” and the “Zogg Fire” further north.

Winds will “stabilize overnight, which should help with our efforts to take advantage of those conditions,” said California governor Gavin Newsom.

The new conflagrations come during an already-record California fire season, with five of the state’s six biggest wildfires in history currently burning.

The “Zogg Fire,” which has already torn through 15,000 acres, is expected to merge with the historic 880,000-acre August Complex fire.

Kale Casey, a spokesman for firefighter efforts at the blaze, said winds had already been “pulling” flames away from contained areas before the latest high winds. 

“And then you have a day like yesterday where all hell breaks loose,” he said.

More than 1,000 firefighters battled Monday to bring the flames under control in a region that “has been hit over and over and over again,” said Newsom, who blames the severity of recent fires on climate change.

Susie Fielder fled her St Helena home in Napa County at 3:30am, grabbing a photo of her grandparents off the wall and a small, pre-stocked bag of essentials after a warning alarm sounded in her neighborhood.

“This morning I was thinking what do you do if you lose everything?” Fielder told AFP.

Returning from a refuge in the city of Napa shortly before noon, she found her home ash-coated and without electricity but unscathed.

Nearby flame-ravaged Spring Mountain was barely visible through the smoke as Fielder got to work cleaning and moving food into a freezer powered by a generator.

She doesn’t plan to unpack her “go bag” of essentials.

“I’m going to stay until somebody comes and knocks on my door and tells me I have to leave,” Fielder said.

Peak fire season

California has been battling massive wildfires for months, stoked by dry conditions, strong seasonal winds and high temperatures. 

Newsom warned that California is only “now moving in to the peak of the wildfire season,” with Santa Ana winds sweeping south toward Los Angeles, where another major heatwave is expected.

Evacuations have been complicated by the coronavirus, which has hit the Golden State hard. Hotels and university accommodation are being used as alternatives to mass shelters.

High winds have refueled other wildfires including the huge North Complex Fire, where new evacuations were ordered Sunday near the town of Paradise — site of California’s deadliest modern fire in 2018.