Olympic and anti-doping leaders clash over Russian scandal

RIO DE JANEIRO — Declaring that the global drug-testing system is damaged, Olympic leaders and anti-doping officials vowed Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) to fix the problems and prevent the type of scandal that has embroiled Russian athletes in the lead-up to the games in Rio de Janeiro.
The IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency clashed again Tuesday over the allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia that have rattled the Olympic movement and created chaos ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony in Rio.
But both sides agreed on one thing — the need to repair the international anti-doping system and restore trust and credibility in the fight against drugs.
“This is not about destroying structures,” IOC President Thomas Bach said, referring to WADA. “This is about improving significantly a system in order to have a robust and efficient anti-doping system so that such a situation that we face now cannot happen again.”
Bach spoke after a debate in which International Olympic Committee members overwhelmingly backed the executive board’s decision not to take the “nuclear option” of banning Russia’s entire Olympic team. Bach and many members pointed fingers at WADA for failing to act sooner on evidence of state-run doping in Russia and for releasing its findings so close to the start of the games.
“I don’t feel as if I’ve been run under a bus,” WADA chief Craig Reedie told reporters, insisting that both sides were in general accord on the need to find solutions for the future.
“Somebody said this system is broken,” he said. “I don’t think all the system is broken. i think quite a lot of the system still works, but that certain parts of the system need revision.”
Reedie said he had received assurances from officials at high levels of the Russia government that they accept they have a problem and need to fix it.
“It is absolutely essential that we cannot have the biggest country in the world non-compliant on a permanent basis,” he said.
Bach opened the IOC’s three-day general assembly by seeking formal backing for the board’s decisions on the Russian crisis. After a debate lasting more than two hours, Bach asked for a show of hands, and only one of the 85 members — Britain’s Adam Pengilly — voted against his position.
Despite evidence of a vast state-organized program involving Olympic sports in Russia, the IOC board rejected calls for a total ban and left it to international sports federations to decide on the entry of individual Russian athletes for the games.
Bach said it would be wrong to make individual Russian athletes “collateral damage” for the wrongdoing of their government.
“Leaving aside that such a comparison is completely out of any proportion when it comes to the rules of sport, let us just for a moment consider the consequences of a ‘nuclear option,’” Bach said. “The result is death and devastation. This is not what the Olympic Movement stands for. The cynical ‘collateral damage’ approach is not what the Olympic movement stands for.”
The IOC has been roundly criticized by many anti-doping bodies, athletes’ groups and Western media for not applying a complete ban on the Russian team. Pressure for a full ban grew after WADA investigator Richard McLaren issued a report accusing Russia’s sports ministry of orchestrating doping program and cover-ups involving athletes across more than two dozen summer and winter Olympic sports.
“Natural justice does not allow us to deprive a human being of the right to prove their innocence,” Bach said.
Underlying the deep split between Olympic leaders and anti-doping officials, Bach and others put the responsibility on WADA.
“I think it’s not the reputation of the IOC that has to be restored, it’s the reputation of WADA,” Israeli member Alex Gilady said.
Argentine member Gerardo Werthein added: “At times WADA has seemed to be more interested in publicity and self-promotion rather than doing its job as a regulator.”
Reedie said he spoke later with both men and addressed their concerns.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Reedie’s positon was not compromised by the debate.
“We don’t always agree on everything,” he said. “It wasn’t a totally one-sided debate. We aired a lot of issues.”
Russian Olympic Committee President Alexander Zhukov claimed there was a political campaign against Russia and cited “discrimination” against clean athletes not connected to doping.
“I urge you to resist this unprecedented pressure that is now on the entire Olympic movement and not to let this pressure to split the entire Olympic family,” he said.
US member Larry Probst said it was wrong to attribute the problem to “international politics.”
“We have a doping problem,” the US Olympic Committee chairman said. “And it’s not just Russia, it’s global. The current system is broken and we need to fix the problem.”
A few members did question the IOC decision to keep Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova — an 800-meter runner who helped expose systematic doping in her homeland — out of the games.
“If there was to be one exception, it should have been her,” Richard Peterkin of St. Lucia said.
The strongest criticism came from Canadian member Dick Pound, a former president of WADA who has been outspoken in calling for a complete ban on Russia — something he had previously called “the nuclear option.” He said the reputation of the IOC was on the line.
“We need to do a lot more to show that we really do care about fair play, honest competition and clean athletes,” he said.
By the end, however, Pound was among the 84 members who voted in favor.
“The arrow’s left the bow,” he said. The decision has been made, it’s not going to be changed between now and the start of the games.”

Mining firms take up Duterte’s challenge

MANILA, Philippines — The mining industry has taken President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent warning as a challenge to continue keeping up with the standards of responsible mining in the country.

“We continue to take the President’s statements as a challenge for us to step up our efforts and practices in adhering to the tenets of responsible mining,” the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said.

On Monday, Duterte issued a stern warning to mining firms as he vowed to be tough on businesses that are destroying the environment and violating government standards.

“If you refuse to obey, I will place you inside the mining pit and cover it. You want to try it, fine. Let’s do it. You say mining is a critical component of the Philippine economy, of course it is, it’s income. But you are also making a critical damage,” he said.

Non-government organization Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) also welcomed Duterte’s announcement to forego the P40-billion mining investments.

“We believe the statistical data that mining is not a significant contributor to the country’s gross domestic product of less than one percent and 0.04 percent of the total jobs,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera told The STAR.

“Mining directly threatens our agriculture, water and tourism economic activities, so it must be effectively regulated. If not, we risk compromising our food and water security and reduced eco-tourism potential,” he added.

Meanwhile, listed Nickel Asia Corp. has stuck to its previous stand on the emphasis of the utmost need to follow the law and comply with government standards.

“Should be as it should be. There’s no place in our society for the illegal or the irresponsible,” Nickel Asia Corporate Communications vice president JB Baylon said.

“We are one with his call for full compliance with the law and international standards, as well as in his fight against illegal and irresponsible mining,” Pangilinan-led Philex Mining Corp. added.

The chamber also clarified that the Foreign Technical Assistance Agreement provides for a 50-50 sharing formula with government.

“And when there are windfall profits, government still gets an additional share of 60 percent when the windfall is over 50 percent,” it said.

In the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement, the chamber said government gets a 45-percent share, depending on prices of commodities.

“But when prices are low, government still gets more than the companies. The prevailing assumption that government only gets 18 percent from mining operations is completely false and baseless,” it added.

“We are covered by a strict edict to safeguard our people, environment and country’s interests and we will continue to abide by the law as the President has stressed to us in the industry and support his effort to weed out the irresponsible miners who conduct their business without regard for the law,” the COMP added.— Video report by Efigenio Toledo IV

F2 Logistics, Petron collide in Superliga

Games today:

(De La Salle Lipa Sentrum)

 3 p.m. – Amy’s vs Cignal

5 p.m. – Foton vs RC Cola-Army

7 p.m. – F2 Logistics vs Petron

LIPA CITY – Surging F2 Logistics tries to sustain its solid momentum when it clashes with Petron in the second round of the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference women’s volleyball tournament Thursday at the De La Salle Lipa Sentrum here.

Another massive crowd is expected when the Cargo Movers shoot for their second consecutive win at 7pm featured encounter of this tournament bankrolled by KLab Cyscorpions, Mueller, Asics and Mikasa with TV5 as official broadcast partner.

Prior to that, RC Cola-Army will try to redeem its pride when it tangles with Foton at 5 p.m. while Amy’s and Cignal will square off for the elusive first victory in the classification phase at 3 p.m.

Living up to its pre-tournament billing as the team-to-beat, F2 Logistics displayed its fearsome form when it shut down its first-round campaign with an earthshaking five set victory over RC Cola-Army followed by another morale-boosting straight-set conquest of the Lady Troopers at the start of the second round.

With that, the Cargo Movers gained a quick headstart in the second round and victories over Petron and Foton will give them the top seed in the sudden-death semifinals.

But F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus isn’t concern about their semifinal ranking.

“That win (over RC Cola-Army) doesn’t mean a thing; the real battle is in the semifinals and the finals,” said de Jesus, the seasoned mentor who led La Salle to the UAAP women’s volleyball crown few months ago.

“We have to sustain our momentum and be consistent. We’re now in the second round and everybody is out to beat us. We can’t afford to relax. We have to be at our best all the time.”

Against the Lady Troopers, the Cargo Movers were obviously the better team as their blocking, led by Aby Marano, Mika Reyes, Majoy Baron and Kim Dy, worked perfectly as well as their floor defense manned by libero Dawn Macandili.

The more seasoned Lady Troopers simply had no answer to these rampaging Cargo Movers, who tallied a convincing 25-16, 25-12, 25-15 victory.

“F2 Logistics is such a young team and we know that we have no chance winning over them in a game like this,” said Army coach Kungfu Reyes, who are eyeing a major rebound against the Tornadoes. “I think we just have to take it as a springboard to bounce back and win our remaining games in the eliminations.”

The Cargo Movers’ mettle, however, will be put to a serious test against the Tri-Activ Spikers.

After dropping a pair of games in the first round, Petron coach George Pascua said his wards, especially rookies Remy Palma and Bernadeth Pons, have already adjusted and are now ready to unleash their deadly form.

In fact, his prized libero, Jen Reyes, will re-assume her old spot in the starting unit while Palma, Cherry Nunag and CJ Rosario will provide the defensive muscle at the net.

“The adjustment period is over; we’re now ready for the ‘real battle,’” said Pascua following an easy 25-16, 25-18, 25-19 win over Standard Insurance-Navy in their last game of the first round last Saturday.

“F2 Logistics is a serious contender. But we will give them a very good fight. We are the defending champions here and we will not go down without putting up a fight,” added Pascua, who is tipped to bank on Ces Molina and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas to supply the offensive production.

Pump-priming set as Duterte admin inherits narrow budget deficit

For the first six months, the budget gap — which indicates more revenues were spent than earned — widened to P120.32 billion, the Bureau of the Treasury reported on Wednesday.

This was a reversal of the P13.75-billion surplus a year ago, but was only around 42 percent of the original cap of P283.7 billion for 2016, equivalent to two percent of economic output.

The new government revised the goal to 2.5 percent upon taking over.

“Economic managers under the Duterte administration vowed to accelerate public spending by fast-tracking infrastructure development…,” the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement.

“The national government also plans to ramp up infrastructure spending outside Metro Manila,” it added.

Broken down, revenues inched up one percent to P982.04 billion by the end of June, while disbursements rose 14 percent to P1.221 trillion.

In June alone, the deficit reached P45.19 billion, 38 percent down from last year as revenues rose 13 percent and expenditures went down seven percent.

The DOF, under new management, reiterated criticisms on the previous administration’s “persistent underspending despite healthy revenue growth.”

Breaking down expenditures, actual agency spending accelerated 17 percent, while debt interest payments decreased two percent by the end of June, data showed.

Most debts were paid in pesos amounting to P103.88 billion, while their foreign counterparts reached P49.83 billion. The former was down five percent, the latter up six percent.

On the revenue side, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) increased collections 11 percent, while that of the Bureau of Customs went up seven percent year-on-year.

BIR and Customs, which is overseen by the DOF, accounted for more than 90 percent of state revenues with P783.42 billion and P190.55 billion, respectively.

The Treasury contributed P63.7 billion, while other offices raised P55.21 billion. Both dropped five and 56 percent from last year’s levels.

3 Mindanao provinces in NCC’s ‘Most Competitive’ list

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Philippines News Agency) – Three provinces in Central Mindanao were included in the top six most competitive provinces by the National Competitiveness Council.
The provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat bagged the 3rd, 5th, and 6th places in the ranking respectively and are the only Mindanao provinces included in the Top 10 list.
Topping the list is Rizal province, followed by Cavite, South Cotabato, Laguna, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Bataan, Aklan, Batangas and La Union.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza meanwhile appreciated the inclusion of her province in the most competitive list.
She urged her fellow Cotabateños to take advantage of the recognition by working harder.
“Cotabateños should carry on. Just like all of you, I am humbled and proud. We all work hard together with our 18 local government units, barangay officials, attached and other line agencies of government, civil society and NGOs. Our committed partners in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Vice Governor Dodong Ipong. As well our department heads and 1,800 dynamic and multitasking provincial employees,” she said.

Most competitive local government units

The National Competitiveness Council also named the most competitive LGUs as it recognized the crucial role of local government units in promoting competitiveness in the country.
In their 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), topping the list of overall most competitive Highly Urbanized Cities is Quezon City followed by Makati City at 2nd and the City of Manila at 3rd place.
Meanwhile, Naga City secured its position as the overall most competitive Component City, along with the second placer San Fernando City, Pampanga. Legazpi City, Albay landed in the 3rd spot.
On the overall most competitive 1st-2nd Class Municipalities category, Cainta, Rizal is 1st place while its neighbor Taytay, Rizal moved one notch to 2nd place. Last year’s overall top municipality General Trias, Cavite slipped to 3rd rank.
On the other hand, Infanta, Quezon emerged as the overall most competitive 3rd-6th Class Municipality, with Baler, Aurora in the 2nd notch, while Calamba, Misamis Occidental placed third.
Under the Economic Dynamism Pillar for HUC, Makati City performed best followed by Pasig City and Quezon City.
For the Component Cities, Naga City, Camarines Sur got 1st place, while Imus City and Biñan City trailed in 2nd and 3rd places, respectively.
For 1st-2nd Class Municipalities, General Trias, Cavite topped the category with Cainta, Rizal in 2nd , and Sta. Maria, Bulacan in 3rd place.
For 3rd-6th Class Municipalities, Jimenez, Misamis Occidental ranked first, followed by Manito, Albay and Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.
On the Government Efficiency Pillar for HUC, City of Manila is the most competitive, with Quezon City as second and Iloilo City as third.
For Component Cities, Cotabato City led the ranking followed by Naga City and Legazpi City.
For 1st-2nd Class Municipalities, Cainta, Rizal ranked first, with Taytay, Rizal and Midsayap, North Cotabato next in the list.
For 3rd-6th Class Municipalities, Calape, Bohol topped the category followed by Paoay and Pasuquin, both in Ilocos Norte.
Lastly, under the Infrastructure Pillar for HUC, Quezon City is the best in the category, trailed by Makati City and Pasig City.
For Component Cities, Naga City ranked first, while Bacoor City, Cavite and Legazpi City, Albay placed second and third places respectively.
For 1st-2nd Class Municipalities, Cainta, Rizal is the most competitive, followed by Malay, Aklan, and Taytay, Rizal.
For 3rd-6th Class Municipalities, Infanta, Quezon led the category, with Pagsanjan, Laguna and Baler, Aurora next in the list.
Aside from these citations, NCC recognized the most improved LGUs from each category: Taguig City for HUC; Ormoc, Leyte for Component Cities; Pagbilao, Quezon for 1st-2nd Class Municipalities; and Barugo, Leyte for 3rd-6th Class Municipalities.

Most entries this year

This year’s CMCI has the largest number of participants, with 1,389 LGUs, 144 of which are cities and 1,245 are municipalities.
This is about 85 percent of total LGUs in the Philippines.
When CMCI started in 2013, only 285 or 17 percent of the LGUs in the country joined the index. The data used were gathered with the help of the 16 RCCs, which are composed of public and private sectors and the academe.
CMCI measures LGU’s competitiveness based on the three pillars: Economic Dynamism, Government Efficiency, and Infrastructure.
The increasing coverage of the index signified a higher level of interest and awareness on the importance of being measured based on the three pillars and a stronger commitment to improve LGU performance based on the resulting ranking.
NCC believes that LGUs are the building blocks of national competitiveness, the reason it encouraged the creation of RCCs.
These RCCs are tasked to regularly assess local competitiveness indicators, formulate programs to improve competitiveness, and engage in investment promotion activities to attract investors and create new jobs.
By developing competitive LGUs across the nation, NCC is optimistic that this would contribute to the overall attractiveness of the country as a preferred place to do business.
Aside from the awarding, NCC also launched the 2016 CMCI website, which contains the detailed information on a particular LGU.
The CMCI data may be used by businesses and government, as a tool for policy making, planning, governance, budget management, and investment promotion.
Stakeholders coming from the national government agencies, business chambers, development partners, diplomatic community, and the academe have joined this annual event.
The Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index is an annual ranking developed by NCC through the Regional Competitiveness Committees with the support of United States Agency for International Development and Globe Telecom.

Investment pledges double to P186.5 B in H1

Bulk in power, transport infra projects 

MANILA, Philippines – Investment pledges approved by the Board of Investments (BOI) more than doubled in the first half of the year as sustained investor confidence in the new government led to more power and transportation infrastructure projects.

BOI data released yesterday showed approved investments reached P186.51 billion in the first six months of 2016, a 103-percent jump from the P92.02 billion generated in the same period last year.

The investment commitments were generated from 162 projects which are expected to create some 30,207 jobs when fully operational.

With the numbers already covering the months of May and June, BOI chair and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the triple-digit growth is indicative of continued investor confidence as the country transitions to the Duterte administration.

“Sustained impressive investment performance validates the announced economic policy direction of the new administration,” Lopez said.

According to the BOI, power generating plants and renewable energy projects took up the bulk of  approved investments in the first semester, accounting for 51 percent of total.

Investment commitments in the sector alone soared 402 percent to P95.95 billion from only P19.1 billion in the same period last year.

The energy investments were generated from a total 34 power projects which are expected to provide additional capacity of 1,034 megawatts in most parts of Luzon where most industries are located.

Investment commitments in the transportation infrastructure sector likewise surged 282 percent year-on-year to P31.9 billion, comprising 17 percent of the total investment pledges in the period.

The manufacturing sector, whose growth continues to drive the economy, contributed a total P18.61 billion in the first half, a nine percent jump from last year’s P17.14 billion.

“Investments coming in are really targeted to help the economy grow. Manufacturing resurgence is now happening as evident in the 8.1 percent growth of the sector in the first quarter. We expect further growth of the sector in the next quarters as the agency leads in continuing the implementation of the Manufacturing Resurgence Program. Manufacturing, by generating large numbers of decent jobs, is key to attaining the administration’s inclusive growth agenda,” BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo said.

Of the first half investment commitments, domestic sources reached P156.61 billion or 84 percent of total while the remaining 16 percent or P29.9 billion came from foreign sources.

Topping the list of foreign country sources for the six-month period was Singapore with investments worth P9.63 billion, followed by Netherlands with P7.12 billion, Japan with P5.69 billion, British Virgin Islands with P2.02 billion and Germany with P1.96 billion.

The National Capital Region remained the top destination, attracting investments worth P37 billion, closely followed by

Region III with P34.81 billion.

Lopez said BOI is expecting the upsurge in investment registration to continue in the coming months with 30 more projects approximately worth P63.47 billion in the pipeline.

“These projects, of which more than half have already been check-listed and officially accepted, will be coming mostly from sectors that are of strategic importance due to their impact on inclusive growth  and on national competitiveness such as energy and power, manufacturing, and agriculture, forestry and fishing,” Lopez said.

BOI officials earlier said approved investment pledges this year are expected to exceed the agency’s five percent growth target.


Drug suspect found dead, hog-tied in Kalinga irrigation canal

TABUK, Kalinga — The decomposing remains of a suspected drug dealer was found caught in the steel gates of an irrigation canal in sitio Nasgueban, Barangay (village) Appas here on Tuesday (July 12).

The body of Noel Bocad, also known as “Virgo,” was bound with nylon cord. His head bore a wound inflicted by an undetermined weapon, police said.

Bocad, 34 years old, was a farmer and a resident of Rizal town, where he was named on the police drug watch list.

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Tabuk police theorized that Bocad might have been killed elsewhere and was dumped in the canal. The body may have been carried by the river currents until it was snagged by the gates, according to probers.  SFM

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China blames Philippines for stirring up trouble in dispute

BEIJING — China blamed the Philippines for stirring up trouble and issued a policy paper Wednesday calling the islands in the South China Sea its “inherent territory,” a day after an international tribunal said China had no legal basis for its expansive claims.

“It is the Philippines that has created and stirred up the trouble,” Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said in introducing the paper.

The Philippines, under a UN treaty governing the seas, sought arbitration from an international tribunal on several issues related to its long-running territorial disputes with China.

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The tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, rejected China’s claims in a landmark ruling that also found the country had aggravated the seething regional dispute and violated the Philippines’ maritime rights by building up artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and by disrupting fishing and oil exploration.

While the decision is seen as a major legal declaration regarding one of the world’s most contested regions, its impact is uncertain given the tribunal has no power of enforcement.

In the new policy paper, China asserts its sovereignty over South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters and opposes other countries’ “illegal claims and occupation.”

The paper blames the Philippines for violating an agreement with China to settle the disputes through bilateral negotiation and says Manila “distorted facts and concocted a pack of lies” to push forward the arbitration proceedings.

Still, Liu said that China remains committed to negotiations with the Philippines, noting new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s positive remarks on the issue.

“China stands ready to work with the new Philippine government,” he said, adding that “early removal of obstacles posed by the arbitration case” would help improve relations.

While the findings cannot reverse China’s actions, it still constitutes a rebuke, carrying with it the force of the international community’s opinion. It also gives heart to small countries in Asia that have helplessly chafed at China’s expansionism, backed by its military and economic power.

“The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said Tuesday, calling on “all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.”

Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who helped oversee the filing of the case, said the ruling underscored “our collective belief that right is might, and that international law is the great equalizer among states.”

Six regional governments have overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, waters that are rich in fishing stocks and potential energy resources and where an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.

The disputes have increased friction between China and the United States, which has ramped up its military presence in the region as China has expanded its navy’s reach farther offshore.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest encouraged all parties to “acknowledge the final and binding nature of this tribunal.”

READ: South China Sea ruling deepens tensions between US, China

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One as President Barack Obama was flying to Dallas, Earnest said the United States seeks a peaceful resolution to disputes and competing claims in the region, while preserving freedom of navigation and commerce.

Earnest also urged the parties not to use the ruling as an opportunity to engage in escalatory or provocative actions.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a news conference in Afghanistan that the ruling is an opportunity for everyone in the region to act in a sensible way in accordance with the rule of law in order to settle disputes.

READ: US pulled the strings behind PH, Chinese observers say

The five-member panel from the Permanent Court of Arbitration unanimously concluded China had violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating the dispute while the settlement process was ongoing.

It also found that China had interfered with Philippine petroleum exploration at Reed Bank, tried to stop fishing by Philippine vessels and failed to prevent Chinese fishermen from the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

China, which boycotted the entire proceedings, reiterated that it did not accept the panel’s jurisdiction. China “solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Wednesday that China’s reputation and ambitions of becoming a world leader would suffer if it ignored the South China Sea ruling.

“To ignore it would be a serious international transgression,” Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “There would be strong reputational costs.”

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the tribunal’s decision is “final and legally binding.” He said in a statement that “Japan strongly expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.”

READ: After tribunal win, int’l support sought to buck Chinese offense

Beijing says vast areas of the South China Sea have been Chinese territory since ancient times and demarcated its modern claims with the so-called nine-dash line, a map that was submitted under the UN treaty. The tribunal said that any historical resource rights China may have had were wiped out if they are incompatible with exclusive economic zones established under the UN treaty, which both countries have signed.

It also criticized China for building a large artificial island on Mischief Reef, saying it caused “permanent irreparable harm” to the coral reef ecosystem and permanently destroyed evidence of the natural conditions of the feature.

Just before the panel announced its ruling, a busload of Chinese tourists arrived outside the court building in The Hague and joined a handful of other protesters shouting down three people calling for China to leave Philippine waters. In Manila, dozens of rallying Filipinos jumped for joy, wept, embraced each other and waved Philippine flags after news of their victory. One held up a poster that said: “Philippine sovereignty, non-negotiable.”

The aftermath of the ruling could be greatly influenced by the new Philippine president, who took office late last month and inherited a case filed by his predecessor. Duterte has spoken of having friendlier relations with China and said last week his government stood ready to talk to Beijing if it got a favorable ruling. It remains to be seen, however, how far Duterte can stray from Manila’s previously critical stance, given growing nationalist sentiment in the Philippines against China’s actions.

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Duterte joins Filipino Muslims in celebrating ‘timely, relevant’ Eid’l Fitr

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte extended his greetings to Filipino Muslims as they commemorate Eid’l Fitr, the annual feast which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

In his message to the Filipino Muslims, Duterte described this year’s ​Eid’l Fitr as “timely and relevant” given the shift to a new leadership.

“This year’s celebration is indeed timely and relevant as the Filipino starts fresh move towards peace, stability, development and progress under a new leadership. Definitely, we view the new administration with high hope and sustained enthusiasm that with the support and cooperation of every Filipino, it will propel our country to greater heights,” he said.

Duterte said fasting during Ramadan teaches virtues of honesty, sincerity and commitment to one’s faith. He added it promotes understanding, peace, sympathy and love for fellow human beings.

He said he wishes the sense of discipline taught by Ramadan inspire Filipino Muslims to “unite with other Filipinos to achieve lasting peace, political stability, economic growth and development.”

PAGASA: ‘Butchoy’ intensifies, Signal No. 1 up in Batanes

MANILA, Philippines — Typhoon Butchoy (international name: Nepartak) has intensified further as it maintained its speed and direction, according to the 11 a.m. severe weather bulletin of PAGASA on Wednesday.

The state weather bureau said Butchoy packed maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center, and gustiness of up to 230 kph while its estimated rainfall amount is from moderate to heavy within the 550 km diameter of the typhoon.

Tropical cyclone warning signal no. 1 was issued over the Batanes Group of Islands.

In its advisory, PAGASA said the eye of Butchoy was traced at 860 kilometer East of Calayan, Cagayan (18.9 °N, 129.6°E) at 10 a.m. It is expected to move northwest at 30 kph.

“Fisherfolks are advised not to venture out over the northern and eastern seabords of Luzon,” the weather bulletin read.

An earlier report of the Philippine News Agency said Butchoy would enhance the southwest monsoon currently affecting southern Luzon and Visayas. Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms is expected in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Visayas, northern Mindanao, Caraga and Davao while the rest of the country may experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms.

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PAGASA advised the public and the disaster risk reduction and management council concerned are advised to take appropriate actions.

Philippine Senate approves AIIB treaty

MANILA, Dec. 6 — The Senate on Monday voted 20-1 to approve the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), according to Senator Loren Legarda on Tuesday.

Legarda, who sponsored the Committee Report on the AIIB Treaty, hailed the Senate’s approval of the Agreement, stressing that the Philippines’ membership to the AIIB would help achieve its growth targets through accelerated infrastructure spending.

“Infrastructure bottlenecks have stifled our growth potential for many years. More investment is required not only to build new projects but also to maintain existing infrastructure. The AIIB can broaden our infrastructure funding sources,” said Legarda.

The AIIB is a multilateral lending institution aimed at promoting economic development in Asia.

The AIIB’s 57 members include China, India, Russia, France, Germany and Britain.

The Philippines signed the Articles of Agreement on Dec. 31, 2015 in China.

Philippines thanks China for rescuing two fishermen in South China Sea

MANILA, Dec. 2 — The Philippine government on Friday thanked the Chinese Coast Guard for the rescue of two Filipino fishermen near the Huangyan Island in the South China Sea.

Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) coordinated with the Chinese Coast Guard to help in the search operations of the missing Filipino fishermen.

He said the PCG received information on Thursday night that the Filipino fishermen had been rescued and the Chinese Coast Guard transferred the two to a Philippine patrol ship Friday afternoon.

“We thank the Chinese Coast Guard for the assistance. This act demonstrates that the Philippines-China relationship is now back on friendly footing after the recent successful visit of President (Rodrigo) Duterte to China, and we expect the ties between the two countries to further improve in the years ahead,” Andanar said.

Australian researchers develop new mobile app for diabetes patients

SYDNEY, Sept. 28 — Australia’s Queensland researchers are trialling a new mobile app which helps people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels and enables health professionals to manage their patients remotely.

University of Queensland research fellow, Dr Farhad Fatehi said in a statement on Wednesday that the app is currently undergoing a clinical trial at the diabetes clinic in Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland.

“Blood glucose readings are sent directly via bluetooth technology from the glucose meter to a smartphone and then immediately to secure servers on the Internet where doctors and nurses can access the readings,” Fatehi said.

“This is a faster and more accurate way of relaying the information than patients having to write out their results and then read or send these on to health professionals for assessment,” he said.

Developed through collaboration between the university, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Australian eHealth Research Center and Queensland Health, the app could streamline care for Australians living with diabetes.

“The app gives patients immediate feedback on their blood glucose readings through color codes, charts and tables,” Farhad said.

“Patients can use this data to more accurately assess and understand their own condition, putting them front and center of their own care.”

“They are more empowered, enabled and have more control over their situation,” he added.

At present, there are more than 1.5 million Australians have diabetes and each year about 100,000 people are newly diagnosed with this lifelong disease.

“This represents a major cost to Australia’s health system and puts extra stress on health professionals,” Farhad said.

“The app could allow health professionals to treat more patients at any one time, with greater confidence in the data.”

“This could mean a considerable reduction in healthcare costs for diabetes every year,” he said.

Philippines joins in mourning death of Fidel Castro

MANILA, Nov. 26  – The Philippine government extended Saturday its condolences to the family and people of Cuba on the death of former President Fidel Castro.

“We are one with the family of Mr. Castro, the Cuban Government, and the Cuban nation during this period of deep mourning,” said Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar in a statement.

He described Castro as a revolutionary who upon assuming his island’s highest political office reasserted his nation’s dignity and self-worth, stood up against the West and capitalism.

“As his nation’s father, Mr. Castro focused on health, education and literacy. His achievements in social development, such as establishing a universal health care and providing free education, became models for many developing nations with limited fiscal resources,” Andanar said.

“The passing of former President Castro will surely be felt by the peoples of Cuba and the world,” he added.

Castro died late Friday at the age of 90.