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Govt proposes to boost medical, wellness tourism post-Covid

To achieve the same, in its draft recommendations released past Friday, the ministry of tourism suggests a restructuring of the National Medical & Wellness Tourism Promotion Board, headed by the Union minister, and a more liberalised visa policy

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Silent heroes at-sea: PCG commanders share stories on humanitarian missions, intensive training in PH territory

After months of quietly defending the Philippine waters, the faceless brave men and women at-sea, who continuously protect Filipino fishermen, and conduct humanitarian missions, have shared their persevering journey amid adversities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). These brave maritime enforcers belong to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)’s Task Force “Pagsasanay (Exercise)”, a unit formed to intensify the capacity building of its personnel and assets as they addressed the heightened tension in the WPS. Two commanding officers of PCG capital ships that patrolled the tension-filled areas have shared their heartwarming humanitarian experiences, and hardworking journey in defending the country’s vast waters. Humanitarian missions at-sea During their maritime patrols in the WPS, the armed service has focused on carrying out humanitarian activities at-sea by setting up floating food banks, medical missions for the Filipino fishermen, and providing basic necessities for the residents in Pagasa Island. PCG Commander Marilyn Jaal, commanding officer of BRP Francisco Dagohoy, recalled the warm welcome from the residents as soon as they set foot on Pagasa Island in Palawan. “Pagdating namin doon sa PCG station sumalubong yung mga bata at nakikipagkwentuhan. One of our personnel dito sa barko tinanong yung bata kung nakarating na ba sila doon sa mainland sa Philippines, ang sagot nung bata, ‘Hindi pa po kami nakakarating doon sa Pilipinas’ (When we arrived at the PCG station, the children greeted us and told us stories. One of our personnel asked a child if he had ever been to the Philippine mainland, and the child answered, ‘we haven’t been to the Philippines yet’),” Jaal told the Manila Bulletin. On the other hand, PCG Commander Erwin Tolentino, commanding officer of BRP Cabra, felt that it was also their responsibility to take care of the locals, especially the children. After all, their fathers are the same brave fishermen that the PCG personnel now share the country’s territorial waters with. “Masaya po na makita yung sa mga ngiti nung mga bata doon sa Pagasa Island (Seeing the children smile on Pagasa Island makes me happy),” Tolentino said in a separate interview. The commanding officers have also formed a special bond with the residents of Pagasa Island in Palawan, which came as a result of the second phase of their capability enhancement training in the WPS. This phase was mainly focused on the humanitarian aspect, rather than the technical. During the visit of PCG Commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr. on the island last May 25, he found out that most of the children there wanted to become soldiers, police officers, and Coast Guard personnel when they grow up. He encouraged them “to study hard and be the future” of their community. The Coast Guard personnel delivered food packs and school supplies to the island residents. “Yung mga needs nila pag-walang nakakatawid na barko dahil sa masamang panahon, ‘yun po yung mga tinatry namin ma-address. And yung mga naging dati challenges ng mga mangingisda roon so far for the longest time wala na po [Chinese vessels] and yung presence ng mga vessels natin na nandoon it gives fishermen comfort na malaman if ever may mangyari nandoon kami to look out for them (We want to address their needs whenever the ships cannot cross due to bad weather. As for the previous challenges that they faced, the Chinese vessels, they’ve been gone for the longest time and the presence of our vessels there has given fishermen the comfort that whatever happens, we are there to look out for them),” Tolentino explained. The PCG personnel have also distributed relief packs and hygiene kits to local fishers sailing in the disputed areas. They have also made sure that the fishermen have a radio they can use to immediately call for help and receive information about the latest weather. “May na-meet kaming mga fishermen dito, so far wala naman naging problema roon, nakakapag-fish naman sila (We met some fishermen here, so far there were no problems, they can fish in the area),” Jaal said. Jaal bared that, apart from the maritime patrols, they have also responded to medical emergencies at sea, including the evacuation of a Philippine Navy (PN) soldier, who suffered a stroke at Likas (West York) Island in the WPS. The patient was transported to the mainland in El Nido, Palawan for medical assistance. Intensive training On April 23, the PCG’s first leg of the maritime exercises was launched in cooperation with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) ships at the Bajo De Masinloc in Zambales, and Pagasa Island in Palawan. “Pagkassign po sa amin dito sa WPS nandoon na po yung takot ko eh (When we were assigned in the WPS, I felt fear), not for myself but for the sake of my personnel kasi alam natin kung gaano or ano ang mangyayari during the patrol kung makakaencouter tayo ng mga [challenging] instances (because we will never know what will happen during the patrol and the challenges that we will encounter),” Jaal said. Meanwhile, Tolentino acknowledged the huge responsibility of conducting maritime patrols in the disputed areas. “It is a huge responsibility po upon our shoulders. We tried to do our part in upholding our mission and we actually tried not to overthink po masyado yung kaakibat na responsibilidad kasi minsan nakaka-overwhelm po siya (we actually tried not to overtthink the huge responsibility because sometimes it can be overwhelming),” Tolentino recounted. The commanding officers disclosed that before accepting the WPS challenge, they first had to undergo intensive training and a series of lectures under Task Force Pagsasanay. During their drills in the disputed areas at-sea, PCG personnel conducted ship position determination, cross track bearing using Azimuth circle and nautical chart, publication familiarization, and cathodic protection tests. They also carried out exercises such as man overboard, abandon ship, life support training, and firefighting exercises while maintaining maritime security and safety chores. “We need to accomplish stepping up our presence and raising the Philippine flag with a sense of pride in the WPS while conducting intensive training aboard ship,” Jaal said. “For that I feel proud [because] I am one of the officers on board to conduct this mission,” Jaal shared. Last March, the government raised concern over the presence of 220 Chinese militia vessels at Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in the WPS. The mass presence of vessels could only mean that they were engaged in high-volume fishing, and, at the same time, posed risks to navigational safety. These trainings were key as it gave them the courage and confidence to face the larger Chinese vessels that have been lingering in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). “Training played a big part…especially in conducting the use of force [because] we do po yung showing of our flag sa Kalayaan Island Group in a peaceful and legal way po, kasi any miscalculations or any mistakes [on our part]…will create a very serious implication po [not only for] Coast Guard but for our whole country as well,” Tolentino said. True enough, they were put to the test soon thereafter. On April 27, they found seven Chinese vessels at Sabina Shoal in WPS. Philippine maritime enforcers sent out communications to the vessels to inform them that the area was off limits, but there was no response. It was as that point that BRP Cabra and BFAR vessels MCS-3002 and MCS-3004 approached the foreign vessels to show that they meant business. Shortly after, the Chinese vessels lifted their anchors, fired up their engines, and left. “Our training kicked in,” Tolentino said of the Sabina Shoal incident. “Hindi po namin naisip masyado yung naging implications noon…but right after po noon nagsink in na po yung nagawa namin (We didn’t think too much about the implications at that time…but it did sink in right after we did what we did).” “We were proud that we [did] our part in protecting po what is ours,” he added. The PCG commanding officers said they would continue to defend the country’s vast waters even if the odds are against their favor. “We will defend what is ours no matter what it takes and no matter how difficult it is kasi sa atin po ito (because this is ours) and I want my children to know that despite all the difficulties and the challenges…we will not back down. Not on our watch,” Tolentino underscored. Jaal expressed the same resolve as her fellow PCG official, saying: “Let us continue what we have started, never step back as long as we have the support of our government. We will make history and we are part of each other’s endeavor.”

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AP News Digest 3 a.m.

Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org.

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German union calls for Amazon workers to strike on 'Prime Day'

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German trade union called on workers at seven Amazon warehouses to go on strike on Monday

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Delhi govt launches 1-year diploma course in 'Meditation and Yoga Sciences'

The main theme of International Day of Yoga (IDY) 2021 is 'Yoga For Wellness' that focuses on practising Yoga for physical and mental well-being.

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'Jammu and Kashmir not a real estate': Chidambaram reiterates Congress demand for full statehood

The Centre scrapped Jammu and Kashmir's special status and divided it into two union territories in August, 2019. PM Modi has called an all-party meeting on June 24 where discussions are likely to be held on holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Lacson or Pacquiao a possible presidential candidate for NPC – Sotto

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said among the candidates for the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) presidential ticket in 2022 are Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senator Manny Pacquiao.“That is a possibility, but I cannot speak for my entire party at this point when it comes to a presidential candidate,” Sotto, acting chairman of the NPC, told reporters in an online interview when asked if the party will adopt Lacson as its presidential bet for 2022.Lacson previously said a presidential run for him in 2022 remains "tentative," saying his choices will be limited to either running for the country's top office or retiring.Sotto,

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Japanese Stocks Slump as Hawkish Fed Damps Cyclical Appeal

(Bloomberg) -- Japanese stocks declined by the most in almost four months, extending losses from late last week as hawkish

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The Latest: Australia: Stick with AstraZeneca for 2nd dose

A top health official is urging Australians to get their second doses of AstraZeneca despite a second death from a rare vaccine complication

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WTC Final: Heavy Rain Set to Disrupt Day 4 Between India and NZ

The Test however also has a Reserve Day for situations just like this.

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French regional vote marks form of failure for Macron's party -interior minister

PARIS (Reuters) - The first round results of France's regional elections marked a form of failure for President Emmanuel Macron's

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6 killed, more than 40 injured in 9 mass shootings across the US over the weekend

There have been 291 mass shootings in 2021 as of Sunday evening, according to gunviolencearchive.org.

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2 killed, 2 injured in explosion at illegal firecracker factory in Tamil Nadu

Rescue operations are underway after the explosion at the illegal firecracker manufacturing factory.

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Athletics-Lyles leaves a message that goes beyond his poor 100m showing

By Gene Cherry EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - A sluggish start ended one dream for American sprinter Noah Lyles, but the

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Coca-Cola, Plastic Bank® partnership on track with ocean-bound plastic collection targets while uplifting lives in Cavite community

Plastic pollution remains a pressing problem in the Philippines and around the world and requires the help and involvement of all sectors of society. Partnership is more critical than ever. As partners, Coca-Cola Philippines and Plastic Bank® continue to mobilize the collection of ocean-bound plastic while improving the livelihood of local communities in the Philippines. Since their partnership was established in September last year, the partnership is 68% on track towards achieving their target collection of 100,000 kg of used recyclable plastic. “Collective action to turn the tide on plastic waste is very important and our partnership with Plastic Bank is one of our various partnerships in the Philippines that help bring us closer to our vision of a world without waste. Our thrust is for more communities to look at recyclable plastic packaging as high value material that can be recycled and used multiple times so it doesn’t end up in the environment. We are pleased with the progress the project has made in improving infrastructure for collection and recycling and providing partner collectors with additional livelihood while they take part in helping the environment,” says Tony del Rosario, President of Coca-Cola Philippines and VP for East Franchise Operations of Coca-Cola ASEAN & South Pacific. Despite mobility issues caused by the surge in COVID-19 cases in the first quarter of 2021, Coca-Cola Philippines and Plastic Bank managed to adapt and collected 68,797kg of plastic (or 3.4 million bottles), engaged and empowered 88 collectors, and positively impacted five communities and 316 household members. “This pandemic has not only helped us grow to adopt more digital processes but also helped us reassess what was essential in achieving our mission. It was through this learning and adaptation within the past two quarter that we were able to stabilize our plastic collection, better plan out our development programs and look to consistently deliver our intended impact in the second half of our partnership with Coca-Cola,” said Paolo delos Reyes, Plastic Bank Philippines Customer and Partnerships Manager. With the goal of organizing citywide collections, Plastic Bank continues to closely partner with the local government of General Trias, Cavite to activate collection points alongside communities, local junk shops, and individual collectors. Community members are encouraged to adopt Plastic Bank’s collection system that includes the use of the Plastic Bank App that ensures the traceability of the plastic collected. This helps to drive a more efficient collection process. The program aims to sustainably improve the lives of collector communities. Aside from the premium they get from the material they collect, individual Plastic Bank collectors are also provided with the tools, resources and equipment they need including pedicabs, COVID-19 safety kits, and training sessions on financial and business literacy. One of the program’s partner collectors, Ronilo Cirujano is a 56-year-old family man who has been collecting recyclables from homes for 10 years. He has been using his own tricycle to easily move from one home to another in their community. “Being a Plastic Bank collector helps me provide basic necessities for my wife and three children, especially during a pandemic when livelihood opportunities are harder to find. Through my income from collecting recyclables in General Trias, two of my children were able to finish their studies in college,” Ronilo said. Meanwhile, plans to improve existing structures of local junk shops (called Plastic Bank partner branches) are underway with improvements targeted to be completed in the middle of the third quarter of the year. Coca-Cola remains committed to reaching its global vision of a World Without Waste. The company aims to help collect and recycle the equivalent of all the bottles and cans it sells by 2030 and partnership programs are critical to achieving this vision. The company, with the help of the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, is currently supporting nearly 40 communities in 22 provinces across the country. Coca-Cola Philippines likewise continues to invest in the development of innovative and sustainable packaging solutions and is forging ahead with the launch of PETValue facility in General Trias Cavite – a joint partnership between its local bottler, Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, and Thailand-based Indorama Ventures, a recognized global leader in packaging solutions and green technology. Granted “pioneer status” by Board of Investments (BOI), this bottle-to-bottle recycling facility aims to produce around 16,000 metric tons of recycled PET resin every year. PETValue is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2022. To learn more about the World Without Waste vision of Coca-Cola, read the recently released 2020 World Without Waste Report. To learn more about the project, visit plasticbank.com

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China Faces Flareups in Its Bid to Tame Commodities Boom

(Bloomberg) -- Commodities are in retreat, but it’s too early for Beijing to declare victory in its two-month battle to

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Internet: Overcoming pandemic lockdowns

MANILA, Philippines—Internet, or broadband connection, has become one of the most sought after services since the global health pandemic pushed many Filipinos to stay and study or work at home.Its relevance became more pronounced as the country celebrates National ICT (Information and Communications Technology) month this June.While the government and ICT service providers proclaim improvements in internet connection speeds, many complaints persist.Among these are claims that costs of ICT services in the Philippines are among the highest in Asean.But what is really the situation on ICT in the country?Increasing subscribersReports from the country's biggest telec

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Swedish PM on the brink as parliament readies Monday no-confidence vote

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stefan Lofven looked destined to be the first Swedish premier to be ousted by parliament

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Dressel, Ledecky lead powerful US swim team headed to Tokyo

Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky lead a powerful U.S. swimming team headed to the Tokyo Olympics

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Norwegian Air appoints Karlsen as new CEO with immediate effect

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian budget airline Norwegian Air has appointed its chief financial officer Geir Karlsen as chief executive with

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China broadens crackdown on crypto mining industry

China has broadened a crackdown on its massive cryptocurrency mining industry with a ban on mines in a key southwestern

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Olympics-Organisers set to decide on domestic spectators for Tokyo 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) -Olympic organisers meet on Monday and are expected to decide whether and to what extent domestic spectators will

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Delayed, disrupted ACL eastern zone groups ready for kickoff

The Asian Champions League’s eastern zone competition will finally kick off this week after a series of delays and withdrawals

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New 200 million pound royal yacht is a 'good idea', business minister says

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government's plans to build a 200 million pound ($276.3 million) successor to the Royal Yacht

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Abalos tells Pinoys not to take Delta variant lightly: 'Please lang'

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos advised Filipinos on Monday, June 21 to not take the Delta variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lightly. “Itong Delta variant hindi mo pwedeng balewalain. Dahil maski isa pa lang ang dose mo [ng vaccine], pwede nang tamaan nito. At kung double dose, pwede pa rin (You can’t simply ignore this Delta variant. People with one or even two doses of the vaccine can still get infected by it),” Abalos during a press conference at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City. His appeal comes at a time when the Philippine economy is slowly trying to reopen anew amid easing quarantine restrictions. “Natutuwa naman ako ‘no, our economy is really [unretrievable] right now. Nakikita niyo naman, madami nang lumalabas, maganda na ang ating ano, ang restaurants, madami nang bumibili sa malls. Maganda naman yun, tama naman yun (I’m happy with our economy right now. As you can see, a lot of people are going out, the restaurant business is picking up, and there are a lot of shoppers in mall. That’s good and that’s what we should be doing),” he said. “Kaya lang, please lang–maskara, distansya (But please–wear a mask and observe physical distancing),” Abalos underscored. The COVID-19 Delta variant was first detected in India in February and has now spread across the globe, including in the Philippines. The Department of Healrh (DOH) said there are 13 cases of the variant in the country so far. The Delta variant is said to be 60 percent more contagious than other variants of the disease. Some health experts are even saying that it will eventually become the most dominant variant of COVID in the world. Abalos warned the public that another surge in COVID-19 cases could happen–like the one that began last March–if Filipinos aren’t careful enough. The March surge led to the reimposition of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the metropolis, it can be recalled. “Dapat magtulungan bawat isa (We should help each other). Let’s be responsible. Konti lang, konting ubo, sakit, you protect your family, you protect yourself–mag-isolate ka na (You should go on self-isolation when you feel even a bit of sickness. You protect your family, you protect yourself),” he said. Asked if the Metro Manila mayors are eyeing additional restrictions in an attempt to curb the possible spread of the Delta variant, the MMDA boss said they would leave it to the DOH. “Ang DOH po magbibigay ng restrictions and protocols dito (The restrictions and protocols will come from the DOH), we are just guided by it,” he said. The 17 Metro mayors comprise the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the policy-making body of the MMDA. Abalos said the MMC is “updated” on the issue of the Delta variant since they conduct regular meetings with DOH representatives. “As of now, I want to assure everybody na…maganda naman sa ngayon, walang kaso sa Metro Manila, mababa ang [occupancy rate ng] ICU [intensive care unit] beds, mababa ang mga kaso ngayon, our economy is doing [well]. Yun nga lang mag-ingat tayo (right now the situation is good, there are no cases in Metro Manila, the occupancy rate of ICU beds is low, the cases are low, our economy is doing well. But let’s be careful),” he said.

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