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National earthquake drill to be held June 28


MANILA, Philippines — Authorities called on the public to participate in the national simultaneous earthquake drill to be held on Friday (June 28) at 2 p.m. as part of the government's efforts to prepare for the "Big One." 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Monday that its newly-activated Harmonized National Contingency Plan (HNCP) will be held to prepare the public in the event of a magnitude 7.2 quake due to the movement of the West Valley Fault, which will impact Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Central Luzon and CALABARZON.

The Office of Civil Defense has urged the public to join the activity by doing the duck, cover and hold motions.

The HNCP tasks regional disaster risk reduction and management councils (RDRRMC) from provinces outside Metro Manila to be ready to extend help in case of a major earthquake. 

The RDRRMC assigned to the north sector is from Ilocos, while the Cordillera Administrative Region is assigned to the west sector, Cagayan Valley to the east sector, and Bicol to the south sector. 

Under this scenario, assisting RDRRMCs would arrive in Metro Manila and establish alternate emergency operations centers in the designated areas.

The main venue for this quarter's national simultaneous earth quake drill will be at theRescue Emergency Disaster (RED) Training Center in Pasig City, where the full-scale exercise will be conducted. 


Another round of oil price hikes next week

Image by Gab Pili

MANILA, Philippines — Another round of oil price hikes is projected for next week, with diesel expected to have the biggest adjustment.

Department of Energy-Oil Industry Management Bureau assistant director Rodela Romero estimated an increase of P0.85 to P1.15 per liter for gasoline, P1.55 to P1.85 for diesel and P1 to P1.10 for kerosene.

The estimates were based on the four-day trading of Mean of Platts Singapore.

Romero said among the factors that push oil prices up are the continued geopolitical tensions and supply risks.

“Last June 18, a Ukrainian drone strike caused a fire at a major Russian oil terminal, while Israel’s ‘all-out war’ with Lebanon’s Hezbollah contributed to the tension,” she said.

OPEC’s positive outlook on global oil demand for this year and the next, as well as the peak summer driving season in the Northern Hemisphere area, also support oil prices, Romero added.

The final price adjustments for next week will be announced on Monday, June 24, which will take effect the next day.

Last Tuesday, oil companies implemented price increases of P0.85, P1.75 and P1.90 per liter for gasoline, diesel and kerosene, respectively.

This brought the year-to-date upward adjustment of gasoline, diesel and kerosene to P6.90, P6 and P0.35 per liter, respectively.

Author: Brix Lelis
June 22, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star 

Oil prices increase today; kerosene up by P1.90


MANILA, Philippines — Motorists should brace for a significant oil price hike of as much as P1.90 per liter today to reflect recent developments in the global oil market.

In separate advisories, Shell, Caltex and Seaoil announced price increases of P0.85, P1.75 and P1.90 per liter for gasoline, diesel and kerosene, respectively.

PetroGazz, Cleanfuel and Unioil will also implement the same price adjustments except for kerosene, which they do not carry.

The latest price movements will bring the year-to-date net increases for gasoline, diesel and kerosene to P6.90, P6 and P0.35, respectively.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said last week that domestic pump prices would increase amid the volatility in the international oil market.

Among the factors that contributed to the upward price trajectory are the upbeat global oil demand forecasts for 2024, DOE-Oil Industry Management Bureau assistant director Rodela Romero said.

OPEC and the US Energy Information Administration both expect global oil demand this year to improve, with travel and tourism expected to drive consumption.

Uncertainties over the timing of the US central bank’s policy easing and the “reduced Saudi exports to China and potential US reserve purchases” also put pressure on domestic oil prices, Romero added.

Brix Lelis
June 18, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star 

PhilHealth improves benefit package for dengue patients


MANILA, Philippines — Amid the Department of Health (DOH)‘s warning of a possible increase in dengue cases, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) said patients admitted for the viral infection can avail themselves of an increased benefit package.?

The state-run health insurer said the benefit package for dengue has been raised to P13,000 from the previous P10,000 under its medical conditions package.

This higher benefit is part of the increase of all benefit packages it implemented starting Feb. 14.

“With the 30 percent increase, it is now P13,000,” vice president for corporate affairs Rey Baleña said in a Viber message, adding that the package covers inpatient care for dengue.?

The agency also reminded the public that, when confined, PhilHealth has the “No Balance Billing” policy, which means no additional payment if one is admitted or confined in a ward-type accommodation, both in public or private hospitals accredited by PhilHealth.?

Earlier, the DOH cautioned the public on a possible increase in dengue cases. It said the previous declining trend is starting to plateau.?

“This could be the start of a rise in cases nationwide if we will not search and destroy mosquito water or stagnant water in any areas or containers that may breed dengue mosquitoes,” the DOH said.?

Its latest data showed that as of June 1, there were 5,368 dengue cases – almost the same number as those reported two weeks earlier.

The DOH recorded a total of 70,498 dengue cases with 197 deaths from January to June 1.

Rhodina Villanueva
June 18, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star 

Monsoon to bring rains


MANILA, Philippines — The southwest monsoon will bring rains to the country, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“Based on the latest data, we did not monitor any low-pressure area or typhoon inside and outside the Philippine area of responsibility. At least for this week, the chance of a cyclone is very nil,” PAGASA weather specialist Obet Badrina said yesterday.

Western Visayas and Southern Luzon will continue experiencing rains brought by the monsoon, he noted.

“Because of the southwest monsoon, there is a big possibility of rains, particularly in Palawan, Western Visayas, including Panay Island and Guimaras,” he added.

Most areas nationwide will experience hot and humid weather and thunderstorms might occur, particularly in Calabarzon, Bataan, Zambales and Metro Manila.

The southwest monsoon is expected to intensify later this week, he said.

“There is a big chance of rains in the western section of Visayas and Mindanao, particularly Zamboanga Peninsula,” Badrina noted.

Meanwhile, farmlands and fisheries affected by El Niño will be rehabilitated this month as the Philippines takes advantage of the so-called “neutral phase” or before the state weather bureau declares the start of La Niña.

Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama, spokesperson of the government’s El Niño task force, said the country is now in the El Niño southern oscillation neutral phase and based on the data of the weather bureau, there is 69 percent chance that the climate pattern would shift to La Niña by July, August or September.

The impact of the shift may be felt by October, November, December and the first half of 2025, he added.

“So, even if we are in the neutral phase and PAGASA has not declared the start of La Niña, it is still important for us to recover from El Niño,” Villarama said in a public briefing aired yesterday over state-run People’s Television.

“We are now in the rehabilitation stage. The government needs to help our farmers whose farm lands were hit by the drought, the affected fisherfolk, so they can recover,” he added.

Villarama noted that President Marcos has been visiting El Niño-hit provinces to provide assistance to the affected sectors. Each validated beneficiary is given a financial aid worth P10,000 while each province receives at least P10 million. — Alexis Romero

Bella Cariaso
June 18, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star  

LIST: Scheduled power interruptions in parts of Metro Manila, nearby provinces on June 15-16


MANILA, Philippines — Residents and businesses in several areas across Metro Manila, Laguna and Cavite should prepare for scheduled power interruptions this weekend, as Meralco undertakes maintenance and infrastructure improvement work. 

In an advisory on their website, Meralco announced the following outages from June 15 to June 16:

June 15, 2024 
Makati City (Poblacion)

Time: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Affected Areas: Portion of Gen. Luna St. from P. Burgos St. to Fermina, Don Pedro, Escuela, Cayco, Mañalac, Enriquez, and Pagulayan Streets. This includes the 7-Eleven Store, Oppa Korean Restaurant, and Elmar Building.
Reason: Installation and replacement of facilities, and line reconstruction works.
June 15-16, 2024
Cavite (Gen. Trias City, Tanza, and Noveleta)

Time: 11:30 p.m. - 11:59 p.m. (June 15) and 6:00 a.m. - 6:30 a.m. (June 16)
Affected Areas: Portions of Gen. Trias Drive from Alfamart - San Juan Gen Trias to Antero Soriano Highway
Portions of Antero Soriano Highway from Tanza to Gen. Antonio St., including various barangays in Noveleta and Tanza.

Time: 12 a.m - 6 a.m (June 16)
Affected Areas: Portions of Advincula Ave. from Meralco - Lancaster substation to Arnaldo Highway; various subdivisions and barangays in Gen. Trias City.
Reason: Installation and replacement of facilities, line reconstruction, and reconductoring works.
June 16, 2024
Laguna (Cabuyao City)

Time: 12:01 a.m - 5 a.m
Affected Areas: Portion of Mamatid Road from near April’s Flower Shop to Dali Everyday Grocery Store, including Saint Joseph Village 3 and Oroville Subdivision in Bgy. Mamatid.
Reason: Installation and replacement of poles, and line reconductoring works.
Laguna (Calamba City)

Time: 9 a.m - 5 p.m.
Affected Areas: Portion of Ridge Ave. including Meralco – CIPP substation and CIPP Deepwell #7 in Carmelray Industrial Park 2, Bgy. Punta.
Reason: Preventive maintenance and testing works in Meralco – CIPP substation.
Quezon City (Novaliches)

Time: 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Affected Areas: Portion of Abbey St. from Don Julio Gregorio St. to Narra St. in Bgy. Sauyo.
Reason: Line reconstruction works.

Pasay City and Manila (Malate)

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Affected Areas: Portion of Roxas Blvd. from Manila Yacht Club to CCP Complex, including key locations such as the Philippine Navy Headquarters and Department of Finance in Malate.
Harbor Square, PDDCP, Coconut Palace, parts of CCP Complex, PICC, and Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Affected Areas: Portion of F. B. Harrison St. from Pablo Ocampo Sr. St. (Vito Cruz) to various surrounding streets in Pasay City.
Reason: Replacement of badly leaning poles and line reconductoring works.

Meralco advises all affected customers to take necessary precautions and arrangements ahead of the scheduled power outages.
June 14, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star

Pope to priests: Keep homilies short


MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis declared during his Wednesday catechesis on June 12 that homilies must only be eight minutes short.

According to the pope, the homily, usually based on readings from the Bible during masses, should “help move the Word of God from the book to life.”

“But the homily for this must be short: an image, a thought, a feeling. The homily should not go beyond eight minutes because after that time you lose attention and people fall asleep,” according to a report from the Catholic News Agency quoting him.

He made the remark while reflecting on how the Bible “is inspired by God and authoritative,” the report said.

When asked to comment about Pope Francis’ suggestion, EDSA Shrine Rector Fr. Jerome Secillano said this was possible, just do away with long anecdotes.

 “It can be done but perhaps without the long and winding narratives or anecdotes that we Filipinos are used to hearing during homilies,” said Secillano, the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Commission on Public Affairs.

There have been instances when a priest would start his homily with an anecdote or narrative to connect with the present situation and to better explain the context of the Gospel to the mass goers.

Secillano said there is no specific number of minutes allotted for a homily during masses. Usually, a mass lasts for about an hour.

“There is no formal policy with regard to the duration of a homily,” he said.

Ghio Ong, Evelyn Macairan
June 15, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star 

House transmits approved divorce bill to Senate


MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has transmitted House Bill No. 9349 or the approved bill for absolute divorce to the Senate.

In a statement on Wednesday, the bill's principal author, Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District), confirmed the transmittal of the bill, which was approved by the House on May 22.

"The absolute divorce bill under House Bill No. 9349, entitled ‘An Act Reinstituting Absolute Divorce as an Alternative Mode for the Dissolution of Marriage’, which was approved on third and final reading on May 22, 2024, by the House of Representatives, was finally transmitted to the Senate as contained in a letter dated June 10, 2024, from House Secretary General Reginald S. Velasco to Senate President Francis 'Chiz' G. Escudero," Lagman’s statement reads.

Lagman stated that the transmittal adhered to his request for the immediate forwarding of the approved bill to the Senate, in line with the House's unanimous approval.

"This means that the transmittal to the Senate will not wait for the plenary action of the House when the sessions start on July 22, 2024, as previously announced by Velasco," Lagman said.

On May 29, Lagman revealed that the Office of the Secretary General had deferred the transmittal of the bill to the upper chamber as the plenary needed to correct the affirmative votes from 126 to 131.

The divorce bill approved by the House explicitly lists marital infidelity and domestic violence as valid grounds for divorce.

It also includes all the grounds for legal separation, annulment, and declaration of nullity of marriage under the Family Code.

Author: Ian Laqui -
June 12, 2024

All credits to: The Philippine Star

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