Daily Tribune

Telecommuting bill gets solid House OK

Telecommuting employees are entitled to the same treatment as employees working at the employer’s premises The House of Representatives, in a unanimous 239–0 vote without abstention, approved on final reading House Bill 7402 which would allow private employees to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication or computer technologies in a flexible work arrangement. Principally authored by Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, the bill seeks to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare who use advanced technology to telecommute. Under the bill, an employer in the private sector may volunteer a telecommuting program to its employees. Terms and conditions shall not be less than the minimum labor standards set by law, and shall include minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits. The measure stated the employer, in all cases, shall provide the telecommuting employees with relevant written information to adequately apprise the individual of the terms and conditions of the telecommuting program, and the responsibilities of the employee. The bill mandates the employer to ensure the telecommuting employees are given the same treatment as employees working at the employer’s premises. Telecommuting employees shall also have the right to rest periods by regulating the operation of their internet servers after normal working hours as well as during weekends, regular holidays and special non-working days. Telecommuters shall also have the same access to training and career development opportunities as other workers. Collective rights guaranteed They shall have the same collective rights as other workers and their employer shall be responsible for taking the appropriate measures to ensure the protection of data used and processed for professional purposes. Telecommuting employees shall ensure that confidential and proprietary information are protected at all times. The bill also tasks the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to establish and maintain a telecommuting pilot program in select industries which shall last for a period of not more than three years. At the end of the program, the DOLE shall submit a report to Congress on its findings. The bill mandates the Secretary of Labor and Employment, in consultation with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC) and stakeholders to issue the appropriate implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act within 60 days from its effectivity. PNA

US, China firms brace for escalating trade war

Companies and trade groups in the US and China have expressed concern over how the escalating trade spat between the world’s two biggest economies could affect operations. Beijing retaliated immediately to tariffs on tens of billions in Chinese imports imposed by US President Donald Trump on Friday, igniting a trade war that threatens to cut into the pair’s massive bilateral trade -- potentially harming exporters and US multinationals keen on China’s huge market. Top among American products hit with duties by China are agricultural exports, with soybeans, sorghum, oranges, pork, poultry and beef included in the $34 billion in goods targeted for higher border taxes starting next month. Agricultural trader Cargill, the largest US private company, called for dialogue between Beijing and Washington so businesses, farmers and consumers would not be caught up in an all-out trade war. “Trade conflict... will lead to serious consequences for economic growth and job creation and hurt those that are most vulnerable across the globe,” said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, a vice president at Cargill. A spokeswoman for grain trader Archer Daniels Midland also said bilateral dialogue should be pursued, adding that China “continues to be an important export market for American food and agriculture”. Friday’s announcements cap months of sometimes fraught shuttle diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, in which Chinese offers to purchase more US goods failed to assuage Trump’s grievances over a soaring trade imbalance and the country’s industrial development policies. Beijing has left the door open to negotiations, even as it matched Washington with tariffs and bellicose rhetoric. “The Donald Trump administration has once again proved inconsistent and precarious,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in an editorial Saturday. It added that given the “frequent flip-flopping” in the US, “it is still too early to conclude that a trade war will start”. -‘Fixated with tariffs’ US trade groups also stepped up their criticism, while some large companies such as Boeing said they were beginning to evaluate the tariffs’ possible effects. Boeing garnered about 12.8 percent of its 2017 revenues from China and is frequently seen as among the more vulnerable US multinationals to a full-on trade war. “We are assessing the impact these tariffs and any reciprocal action could have on our supply chain and commercial business,” said Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers. “We will continue to engage with leaders in both countries to urge a productive dialogue to resolve trade differences, highlighting the mutual economic benefits of a strong and prosperous aerospace industry,” he added. The American Apparel & Footwear Association -- while praising the Trump administration for dropping an earlier plan to place levies on key equipment and machinery used by the industry -- said Friday that China’s retaliatory measures could harm American farmers and textile manufacturers and add costs to the industry’s supply chain. “President Trump is fixated with tariffs, which he believes he can wield freely; but there are grave consequences,” said AAFA president Rick Helfenbein. “Congress needs to step in now to end this dangerous obsession.” Other trade groups opposing the US tariffs included the Business Roundtable and the US Chamber of Commerce. US automakers, which have targeted China as a key growth market, are also slated to be hit by the bruising tariffs. American auto giant Ford has sold 338,386 cars thus far in China in 2018, about one-third the number in the US, and had welcomed a Chinese plan to lower tariffs on auto imports. It had even planned to cut prices for its imported Lincoln vehicles. That may be in jeopardy as gas-powered and electric vehicles are due to be slapped with the border tax increase. AFP

Japan-Nokor summit must hurdle ‘mutual distrust’

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday called on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to jointly overcome their mutual distrust, as he confirmed ongoing efforts to arrange a Japan-North Korea summit. In a television interview, Abe said his government has contacted the North Korean side “through various channels” in a bid to arrange a meeting with Kim. During historic talks with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on Tuesday, Kim reportedly said he was open to a meeting with Abe. Japan wants the talks to push the emotive issue of citizens abducted by the North decades ago, which has seen little movement despite a whirlwind of international diplomacy in recent months. “I want to take a step forward and resolve the (abduction) issue after each of us breaks our mutual distrust,” Abe said. “I have a strong sense of mission to resolve the issue under my own responsibility,” he added. Abe has already said publicly that he would be willing to meet Kim in order to resolve the abduction issue. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is considering talks with his North Korean counterpart on the sidelines of a meeting of ASEAN envoys in Singapore starting in late July, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported. During the interview, Abe expressed a readiness to finance denuclearisation costs in North Korea. In the joint statement following Tuesday’s talks with Trump, Kim agreed to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.” “It is natural for Japan and other countries which would benefit from easing fears of nuclear weapons to bear the costs,” Abe said. But Abe warned that Tokyo has no plan to give financial aid to Pyongyang without a resolution of the abduction issue. The issue of Japanese citizens who were abducted in the 1970s and 1980s to help Pyongyang train its spies has long soured already strained relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang. The Japanese government has officially listed 17 people as abductees, but suspects dozens more were snatched. Japan has maintained a hardline position on North Korea despite the stepped-up diplomacy with Pyongyang in recent months, and has been left largely on the sidelines as South Korea, China and the United States have held talks with Kim. AFP

Indon woman swallowed by giant python

An Indonesian woman has been found in the belly of a giant python after the swollen snake was captured near where she vanished while tending her vegetable garden, police said Saturday. The body of 54-year-old Wa Tiba was found Friday when villagers cut open the seven-metre (23-foot) python which was found bloated in the village of Persiapan Lawela on the island of Muna, offshore of Sulawesi. “Residents were suspicious the snake swallowed the victim, so they killed it, then carried it out of the garden,” said local police chief Hamka, who like many Indonesians has only one name. “The snake’s belly was cut open and the body of the victim was found inside.” Some 100 residents, including worried relatives, launched a search for the woman after she failed to return from her garden Thursday night. Hamka said villagers found the giant serpent lying about 30 metres from Tiba’s sandals and machete, adding she was swallowed head first and her body was found intact. The garden in which she disappeared was at the base of a rocky cliff, pockmarked by caves, and known to be home to snakes, Hamka added. Giant pythons, which regularly top six metres, are commonly found in Indonesia and the Philippines. While the serpents have been known to attack small animals, attempts to eat people are rare. In March last year, a farmer was killed by a python in the village of Salubiro on Sulawesi island. AFP

France shuts down ‘dark web’ site

French authorities have closed down one of the most important “Dark Web” sites dealing in drugs, guns and false identity documents after a massive operation, a top official said Saturday. The “Black Hand” site, accessible only with special software, was broken up and its chief administrator and several other people arrested, public accounts minister Gerald Darminin said in a statement. Four suspects were being questioned Saturday in the northeastern French city of Lille. As well as equipment, false identity documents and some cash, officials also gained access to the Black Hand server and its stored data. Darminin said more than 3,000 people used the site, “which confirms the very active nature of this French site”. The “dark web” is the seedier side of the Internet where hackers and other technically inclined people transact businesses that may be illegal in most countries. It is also in the “dark web” where information and other materials are “leaked.” AFP

Monsoon rains to prevail over parts of Luzon

Monsoon rains will prevail over parts of Luzon due to the southwest monsoon affecting the island, the state weather bureau said Saturday. The Ilocos and Cordillera regions, Batanes, Babuyan Group of Islands, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan, and Zambales will experience monsoon rains, said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Mindoro and the rest of central Luzon will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms. Meanwhile, cloudy skies with isolated rain showers and thunderstorms will prevail in Visayas, Mindanao and the rest of Luzon. Strong to gale winds will blow over northern Luzon and the western part of central Luzon. Coastal waters along these areas will be rough to very rough. Elsewhere, winds will be moderate to strong, with moderate to rough seas, PAGASA said. PNA

Wage Board approves pay hikes in ARMM, Eastern Visayas

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Eastern Visayas have approved upward adjustments in the pay of minimum wage earners in the two regions. Based on Wage Order No. ARMM-17, the RTWPB-ARMM has approved a P15 wage adjustment in the daily income of non-agriculture and agriculture workers effective Friday (June 15), For non-agriculture workers, or those in the industrial, manufacturing, construction, commercial, and mining sectors, as well as the academe, their daily take home pay will now be P280 from only P265. As for agriculture (plantation and non-plantation) workers, they will be receiving P270 from only P255 per day as a result of the latest wage order. The wage increase will be effective in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, the cities of Lamitan in Basilian, and Marawi in Lanao del Sur. Meanwhile, the wage hike to be implemented in Eastern Visayas will range from P20 to P30 a day. This, after the RTWPB there released Wage Order No. RB VIII-20, which will take effect on June 25. The salary increase covers non-agriculture, cottage/handicraft, retail/service and agriculture employees in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, and the cities of Tacloban, Ormoc, Maasin, Catbalogan, Borongan, Baybay, and Calbayog. According to RTWPB-8 (Eastern VIsayas), minimum wage earners in the non-agriculture sector will get an additional P20 in their salaries, thus increasing their daily income to P305 from P285. For employees in sugar mills and retail/service employing 11 up to 30 workers, an additional P30 will be given to them. This means their daily salaries will increase to P305 from P275. For those employed in the cottage/handicraft sector, a total of P22 will be added to their present daily earning of P253. They will receive a total of P275 per day in the next pay day after the effectivity of the wage order. An additional P30 will be given to retail/service employing 10 workers and less. Their daily pay will therefore increase to P275 from only P245 today. In the agriculture sector, non-sugar workers’ daily pay will increase to P275 from P251 with an increase of P24, while sugar farm employees will receive an additional P30, making their daily wage increase to P275 from P245. Earlier, RTWPB-6 (Western Visayas) has approved an additional P41.50 in the salary of minimum wage earners in non-agricultural jobs in Western Visayas, now amounting to P365. PNA

PH Navy to get more TC-90 planes

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is inclined to give the Philippine Navy (PN) more Beechcraft King Air TC-90 patrol aircraft, Navy flag officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad yesterday said. “During my last visit to Japan, the head of the JMSDF said he is inclined to give the PN more of the aircraft (TC-90) they earlier gave us,” Empedrad said in Filipino in an interview with the military-run DWDD radio on Wednesday. The JMSDF earlier had given the Navy five TC-90 patrol aircraft, three of which had been activated while the other two are being equipped and painted for Philippine service. The TC-90 was offered by Japan shortly after the Agreement Concerning the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology was finalized on Feb. 29, 2016. The TC-90 has a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles and a cruising speed of 226 knots, and is capable of carrying eight passengers, along with the pilots. These additional TC-90s are expected to boost the Navy’s capability in intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and maritime air surveillance, Empedrad said. PNA

Thai king granted full ownership of billions

Thailand’s king has been granted full ownership of the palace’s multi-billion dollar assets under a law passed last year, according to a rare “explanatory note” published by the financial arm of the powerful but secretive monarchy. King Maha Vajiralongkorn inherited one of the world’s great fortunes when he ascended the Thai throne following the October 2016 death of his father, who ruled for seven decades. Analysts say the Chakris are one of the world’s richest royal dynasties, with estimates varying between $30-60 billion, although the monarchy does not publicly declare its wealth and is shielded from scrutiny by a draconian lese majeste law. Most of the money is controlled by the opaque Crown Property Bureau (CPB), a vast portfolio that includes massive property ownership and investments in major companies. But last July the Thai junta amended a royal property law for the first time in 69 years to give Vajiralongkorn full control over the CPB. It is one of several steps taken by Vajiralongkorn to increase his personal control over the palace bureaucracy and its wealth since taking the throne. The amendment means “all ‘Crown Property Assets’ are to be transferred and revert to the ownership of His Majesty, so that they may be administered and managed at His Majesty’s discretion,” according to a note featured prominently on the front page of the CPB’s website. The document was not dated and the CPB, which rarely grants interviews, could not be reached for further comment. The note clarified that all of the CPB’s shareholdings will also “be held in the name of His Majesty.” The CPB has major investments in some of Thailand’s largest companies, such as Siam Commercial Bank and Siam Cement Company. The note also said that previously tax exempt CPB assets will now be liable to taxation “in line with His Majesty’s wishes.” Public discussion of the monarchy’s actions remains taboo due to Thailand’s lese majeste law, which punishes any perceived criticism with up to 15 years per offence. All media based in Thailand must self-censor when reporting on the monarchy to avoid violating the lese majeste law. AFP
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