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It’s goodbye to summer

By: Jaymee T. Gamil - Reporter / Philippine Daily Inquirer

The weather bureau has officially announced the onset of the rainy season although it’s still the southwest monsoon bringing rains particularly in the northernmost areas in Luzon.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) made the announcement in its 24-hour weather update reported 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“It is officially rainy season in the country,” Pagasa forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said in Filipino, warning of rainfall in the western portion of Luzon and Visayas, especially in areas with “Type 1” climate, including Metro Manila.

Earlier, the Pagasa explained in a press conference that before the onset of the rainy season could be announced in an area, certain criteria must be satisfied, including a five-day period in the month with a total rainfall of 25 mm or more, with three consecutive days having at least a millimeter of rainfall daily.

To declare the onset of the rainy season for the whole country, these criteria should be met by at least five of the Type 1 climate areas in the Philippines, or areas with distinct dry and wet seasons which are mostly in the western section of the country. They are Laoag, Vigan, Dagupan, Iba, San Jose in Mindoro, Metro Manila, Ambulong and Iloilo.

In a statement from Pagasa administrator Vicente Malano on Tuesday, the weather bureau confirmed the occurrence of “widespread rainfall” in these areas.

With the onset of the wet season, Pagasa predicted that most of the country is likely to experience near to above normal rainfall conditions for the next two months.

However, breaks in the rain events may also occur, for several days to weeks, due to the persistence of the ridge of the North Pacific high pressure area, Pagasa said.


Fair weather seen during school opening

No tropical cyclone is likely to enter the country until June 5, which is the opening of classes in public elementary and high schools nationwide. PAUL JUN E. ROSAROSO, File



(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - With the onset of the rainy season, Filipinos should brace for the entry of more tropical cyclones beginning this month, the state weather bureau warned yesterday.

No tropical cyclone is likely to enter the country until June 5, which is the opening of classes in public elementary and high schools nationwide.

“Fair weather, apart from isolated rains and thunderstorms will prevail in the country on June 5,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

One or two cyclones are expected to enter the Philippines this month that could further enhance the rain-producing southwest monsoon.

PAGASA officially declared the start of the rainy season last Tuesday. The southwest monsoon will last until September.

Rene Paciente, PAGASA assistant weather services chief, said cyclones that visit the country in June either hit Northern Luzon areas or “recurve” toward Southern Japan.

The next cyclone that will enter the Philippine area of responsibility will be named “Emong.”

Paciente said a “surge” of the southwest monsoon is expected today until the weekend, bringing light to moderate rains especially in the western section of the country, including Metro Manila.

On Tuesday night, intense rains brought by series of thunderstorms flooded several areas in Metro Manila, triggering traffic jams in major thoroughfares.



Senate approves bill extending driver’s license to 5 years

by Mario Casayuran/

The Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to extend the validity of the professional and non-professional driver’s license from three years to five years.

Approved with 21 affirmative votes during the Senate plenary session was Senate Bill 1449 or ‘’Extending the Validity Period of Driver’s Licenses to Five years.’’

The measure was authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto and Senators Richard Gordon, Joseph Victor Ejercito and Joel Villanueva.

“We are streamlining the process, cutting bureaucracy and also corruption. I hope this initiative will immediately be felt by ordinary citizens,’’ Sen. Grace Poe, chairwoman of the Senate public services committee and sponsor of the measure.

Poe said holders of professional or non-professional drivers licenses who did not commit any violation during the five-year period would also be entitled to renewal of their licenses for another 10 years.

The proposed law sought to amend Section 23 of Republic Act No. 4136, as amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 398 and Executive Order (EO) 1011 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

“Although the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has already issued Administrative Order No 2016-34 in line with the President’s pronouncements to extend the validity of driver’s licenses, we should bear in mind that an EO cannot amend a law. What Congress prescribes, only Congress can amend,” Poe explained.

Recto said he expected shorter queues of drivers applying at the LTO for the renewal of their licenses with the passing of the bill into law.

LTO data showed that in 2016, there were 5.8 million drivers license applications.

Recto said the bill was “the best anti-red tape measure the government could adopt for LTO.” He said the measure was not complicated and could derive results immediately at the least cost to the government and the public.

Citing the LTO, the lady senator said that from the current fee of P820 for new licenses, the agency is expected to charge only P700 for the new card.

She pointed out that new licenses would have better security features as the cards would feature a hologram mark and ‘hidden data.’

Poe said traffic violations would be uploaded on the system and the barcodes in the license will reflect the changes immediately.

“When scanned, the barcode can easily inform police officers of any violation committed by the driver. In the bill, we will require all agencies and even the local government units issuing traffic violations to continue this practice of uploading violations to the LTO’s system within 24 hours,” she said.



San Miguel to put up $150-M brewery in the US

San Miguel Brewery Inc., the liquor unit of San Miguel Corp., on Wednesday confirmed plans to put up a brewery in Los Angeles, California in efforts to increase the company's production capacity.

In a filing on the local bourse, San Miguel confirmed earlier statements of its President Ramon S. Ang that the company will build a $150-million brewery in the United States, as well as two additional breweries in Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo City.

Each brewery will have a "capacity of 2 million hectoliters each, and expand the production capacity of all existing plants," the filing read.

According to Ang, it will spend as much as $500 million over the next two and a half years for the expansion.

The new breweries will be on top of the six located in the country — Pampanga, Metro Manila, Laguna, Negros Occidental, Cebu, and Davao.

This will also serve as an addition to the company's six international breweries — two in China, and one each in Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

San Miguel Brewery Inc. registered a net income of P4.5 billion in the first quarter of the year, up 12 percent from the P4 billion the same period in 2016. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/MDM, GMA News


Andanar dissolves StratComm office


Secretary Martin Andanar has abolished the Strategic Communications Office, a communications unit in Malacañang.

Office Order no. 26, signed by Andanar, states that “in the interest of the service, the Strategic Communications Office shall be abolished effective immediately.”

It also details the re-assignment of its staff to other departments within the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Andanar, in a text message to media, said earlier reports that 40 people were fired “is very inaccurate.”

“I did not fire anyone,” he said.

He explained that the Strategic Communications Office was abolished to streamline operations “and to adjust to our new comprehensive communications strategy in promoting the policies of the different executive departments.”

“The recent communications programs led by PCOO; DuterteNOMiCs, Real Numbers, Extremism & Martial Law and other upcoming events, increased the demand for the PCOO Team to assist other departments,” he said. “Thus the need to restructure our manpower assignments.”

The SCO was formerly known as the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office. It was established in 2010 and was tasked to perform the following functions, according to Executive Order no. 4:

  1. Coordinate the crafting, formulation, development and enhancement of the messaging system under the Office of the President;
  1. Design and recommend responses to issues that arise on a daily basis.
  1. Ensure consistency in the messages issued by the Executive Department;
  1. Assist in the formulation and implementation of new media strategies for the Office of the President;
  1. Assist in research and development of new media instruments;
  1. Liase with the Malacañang Records Office;
  1. Control and supervise the conduct of market research, monitoring public opinion, and gathering, use and analysis of other relevant data as may be necessary;
  1. Formulate editorial guidelines and policies for state media;
  1. Ensure consistency in the implementation of the corporate identity of the Executive Department;
  1. Act as custodian of the institutional memory of the Office of the President, which includes the supervision and control of the Presidential Museum and Library, and liaison with the Malacañang Records Office;
  1. Perform editorial functions for the Official Gazette,
  1. Perform such other functions as may be directed by the President.


Makati first to launch smart card for residents

By Emmie V. Abadilla/Manila Bulletin

Makati expects to be the Philippines’ First Truly Connected City after yesterday’s launch of the Makatizen Card that gives its 500,000 residents access to the city government’s services.

The card, which also functions as a valid government ID card and an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Card, can be used to transact with the city government,  receive cash allowances, stipends and other cash benefits.

Residents can also use the card to pay fees and taxes, personal remittances and other financial transactions while city government employees, can use theirs to receive salaries and allowances.

The Makatizen Card is a collaboration among the city government of Makati, Globe Telecom, its subsidiary G-XChange, Inc., and iBayad Online Ventures, Inc.

Some 1,000 functioning sample cards were yesterday tested at Makati City Hall.

“It takes us a step nearer to achieving our goal of empowering everyone, including those in the marginalized sectors of society, to enjoy a better quality of life,” says Makati Mayor Abigail Binay.

Furthermore, the card’s wide range of digital and mobile services offers the people of Makati  more convenient and cost-effective ways of meeting their day-to-day needs and obligations,” she added.

“We view this unsolicited project proposal from Globe, GCash, and iBayad as the springboard to transform Makati into the country’s first digital city.”

“For the Philippines to truly become a digital nation, we need to take advantage of new digital  opportunities and innovations to enable growth in every corner of our country,” according to Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu.


Red Cross seeks more donations for Marawi evacuees


MANILA — The Philippine Red Cross is asking for more donations to aid families affected by the ongoing armed clashes in Marawi City.

As of Tuesday, the PRC’s Operation Center reported that around 96 barangays (villages) or around 29,000 individuals have been affected and displaced by the tensions in Marawi.
Infrastructures, including houses, schools and jails, were also damaged, the humanitarian agency said Tuesday.
The PRC said they would accept any form of donations to cover the cost of food items such as rice, noodles, assorted canned goods, and hot meals, as well as non-food items such as blankets, plastic mats, mosquito nets, hygiene kits and jerry can containers.
“Filipinos always rise to help selflessly. Our brothers and sisters in Mindanao need you to help extend their lives while facing ongoing clashes. Let us help the most vulnerable by making a difference,” PRC
Chair Richard Gordon said in a statement.
PRC cited for instance that for every donation of P850, a family will receive rice, noodles, assorted canned goods, and coffee for three days. For just over P1,000, a family will be given comfort in the form of blankets, sleeping mats, and clean water.
PRC said 700 individuals have received hot meals, 725 individuals have been provided psycho-social support, while more than 8,400 individuals were given access to clean and potable water.
More than 200 blood units, meanwhile, are available at the PRC-Iligan Chapter for individuals who need blood transfusion.
“Help must reach out to people in Mindanao. Help us extend our humanitarian work to those in need by anticipating their needs,” PRC Secretary General Oscar Palabyab said in a statement.
Donors may deposit cash donations through any of the following Philippine Red Cross bank accounts:
Account name: Philippine Red Cross
BDO Peso Account – 00-453-0190938
BDO Dollar Account – 10-453-0039482
Metrobank Peso Account – 151-7-15152434-2
Metrobank Dollar Account – 151-2-15100218-2
Donors may also personally send their donations to the PRC’s office at the PRC Tower, 37 EDSA corner Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City. Call 790-2410 or 0917-834-8378 and look for Ma. Rizza Genil or Shervi Corpuz for more details. SFM
Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City
Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City
Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.


Ominous signs of an Asian hub for Islamic State in the Philippines

MARAWI CITY — Dozens of foreign jihadis have fought side-by-side with Islamic State sympathizers against security forces in the southern Philippines over the past week, evidence that the restive region is fast becoming an Asian hub for the ultra-radical group.

A Philippines intelligence source said that of the 400-500 marauding fighters who overran Marawi City on the island of Mindanao last Tuesday, as many as 40 had recently come from overseas, including from countries in the Middle East.

The source said they included Indonesians, Malaysians, at least one Pakistani, a Saudi, a Chechen, a Yemeni, an Indian, a Moroccan and one man with a Turkish passport.

"IS is shrinking in Iraq and Syria, and decentralising in parts of Asia and the Middle East," said Rohan Gunaratna, a security expert at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

"One of the areas where it is expanding is Southeast Asia and the Philippines is the center of gravity."

Mindanao has been roiled for decades by bandits, local insurgencies and separatist movements. But officials have long warned that the poverty, lawlessness and porous borders of Mindanao's predominantly Muslim areas mean it could become a base for radicals from Southeast Asia and beyond, especially as Islamic State fighters are driven out of Iraq and Syria.

Although Islamic State and groups affiliated to the movement have claimed several attacks across southeast Asia in the last two years, the battle in Marawi City was the first long drawn-out confrontation with security forces.

On Tuesday, a week after the fighting began, the government said it was close to retaking the city. As helicopters circled, troops cleared rebel positions amid explosions and automatic gunfire, moving house by house and street by street.

Last year, southeast Asian militants fighting for Islamic State in Syria released a video urging their countrymen to join the cause in the southern Philippines or launch attacks at home rather than attempting to travel to Syria.

Jakarta-based terrorism expert Sidney Jones passed to Reuters some recent messages in a chatroom of the Telegram app used by Islamic State supporters.

In one, a user reported that he was in the heart of Marawi City where he could see the army "run like pigs" and "their filthy blood mix with the dead bodies of their comrades."

He asked others in the group to pass information on to the Amaq News Agency, a mouthpiece for Islamic State.

Another user replied, using an Arabic word meaning pilgrimage: "Hijrah to the Philippines. Door is opening."

The clash in Marawi City began with an army raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for piracy and for kidnapping and beheading Westerners.

Abu Sayyaf and a relatively new group called Maute, both of which have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, have fought alongside each other in Marawi City, torching a hospital and a cathedral, and kidnapping a Catholic priest.

The urban battle prompted Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law across the whole island of Mindanao, an area roughly the size of South Korea with a population of around 21 million.

Fighters from Middle East

The head of the Malaysian police force's counter-terrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, named four Malaysians who are known to have travelled to Mindanao to join militant groups.

Among them were Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian university lecturer who is poised to take over the leadership of Islamic State in the southern Philippines if Hapilon is killed, he said.

Security expert Gunaratna said that Ahmad has played a key role in establishing Islamic State's platform in the region.

According to his school's research, eight of 33 militants killed in the first four days of fighting in Marawi City were foreigners.

"This indicates that foreign terrorist fighters form an unusually high component of the IS fighters and emerging IS demography in Southeast Asia," Gunaratna said.

According to an intelligence brief seen by Reuters, authorities in Jakarta believe 38 Indonesians travelled to the southern Philippines to join Islamic State-affiliated groups and about 22 of them joined the fighting in Marawi City.

However, an Indonesian law-enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the actual number of Indonesians involved in the battle could be more than 40.

Indonesia officials believe some militants might have slipped into Marawi City under the cover of an annual gathering of the Tablighi Jamaat just days before the fighting erupted. The Tablighi Jamaat is a Sunni missionary movement that is non-political and encourages Muslims to become more pure.

An Indonesian anti-terrorism squad source told Reuters that authorities have beefed up surveillance at the northern end of the Kalimantan and Sulawesi regions to stop would-be fighters travelling by sea to the southern Philippines and to prevent an influx of others fleeing the military offensive in Marawi City.

"The distance between Marawi and Indonesian territory is just five hours," the source said. "It should not get to the point where they are entering our territory and carrying out such (militant) activities."  Reuters

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