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Global coronavirus infections top 13 million

1 in 9 people in the world are going hungry, the UN says

Agence France-Presse

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A MAN waves the Argentine flag during a protest against President Alberto Fernandez's health policies during the coronavirus pandemic in Buenos Aires. (AFP)

More than 13 million coronavirus infections have now been recorded across the world, with more than half in the United States and Latin America, according to an AFP tally of official sources at 2000 GMT on Monday.

At least 13,000,166 cases and 569,990 deaths have been recorded and the United States is the worst-hit country with 3,341,838 cases and 135,425 deaths, the tally showed.

The number of cases stood at 3,380,218 in Latin America and the Caribbean, including 144,847 fatalities. And in Europe, 2,849,335 infections have been recorded and 202,780 deaths.

The spread of the pandemic is accelerating across the globe, with more than 2.6 million new cases detected since July 1.

The tallies probably reflect only a fraction of the number of infections as many countries test only the most serious cases.

The United Nations also reported that nearly one in nine people in the world are going hungry, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating already worsening trends this year.

Economic slowdowns and climate-related shocks are pushing more people into hunger, while nutritious foods remain too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment, but to growing rates of obesity in adults and children.

“After decades of long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014,” said the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World annual report.

Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing costly “health and environmental consequences” of sub-par diets.

Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of people around the globe, are hungry, the UN found.

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Burning bright for equality

Roel Hoang Manipon

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Pride remains a protest, the Tiger Committee empasizes. ART COURTESY OF TIGER COMMITEE

The Tiger Committee emphasized that “though the Philippines was hailed as one of the gay-friendly countries in the world, the country holds no national policy to protect the community from hate crimes and acts of discrimination and harassment that continue up to this date.”

This fact alone shows that the struggles of the Filipino LGBTQ+ community is far from over, and thus the LGBTQ+ Pride Month still remains a protest, which was affirmed in the LGBTQ+ youth organization’s celebration of it, which was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Known for its colorful and lively celebrations, Pride serves as a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community to be with each other and be who they truly are without any judgment, discrimination and prejudice,” the Tiger Committee explained. “Heavily rooted to the Stonewall riots where resistance against police oppression and fight for equal rights have been present, it has an important purpose up until this time: a call to move forward. It is a call to the national government to lobby and pass laws that recognize and fight for the rights of the community.”

“The LGBTQIA+ community is more than just a side character to complete the narrative. They are humans who deserve rights that heterosexuals don’t even have to fight for,” the group, which aims to create a safe space for all, particularly, the LGBTQ+ community, added.

The Tiger Committee also encouraged the sector to “educate yourself, influence others to learn more about the fight for equal rights and call the national government to pass the anti-discrimination bill. After all, as Micah Bezant said, ‘No pride from some of us without liberation for all of us.’”

To set a celebratory mood for and add color to the occassion, the organization released their Pride Playlist on 9 June on Spotify. The specially curated list included songs from LGBTQ+ icons such as Lady Gaga, RuPaul and Troye Sivan.

The Tiger Committee also uploaded informative posters on their social media accounts to enlighten the public on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) and LGBTQ+ issues.

On 11 June, they posted about outing people and that it is not right to out someone regardless of your relationship with him/her. Outing is a “forced exposure of a person’s orientation.”

“Often, people who are outed feel blindsided ad forced to reveal a deeply personal part of their identity without their consent and under someone else’s terms,” they said.

“We must all be sensitive and understanding that it is and will never be our place to come out for people, no matter how much we think we have their best interests in mind. Outing is a long and difficult road, and the best support that we can give is to be with them as they step forward,” they added.

The 15 June posters were about laws and ordinances that protect the LGBTQ+ community including the SOGIE Equality Bill, which still is not passed by the government. They also listed ordinances passed by local governments such as the barangay anti-discrimination ordinances of Bagbag and Greater Lagro, both in Quezon City; the municipal and city ordinances of San Julian, Eastern Samar; Angeles City, Pampanga; Antipolo City, Rizal; Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Baguio City; Butuan City, Agusan del Norte; Batangas City, Batangas; Candon City, Ilocos Sur; Cebu City, Cebu; Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Davao City; General Santos City; Mandaue City, Cebu; Quezon City; Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; San Juan City; Vigan City, Ilocos Sur; and the provincial ordinances of Agusan del Norte, Batangas, Dinagat Islands and Iloilo.

 

 

Using the right pronouns was tackled on 20 June. “We cannot always determine the gender of the person just by looking at them and because of the limited pronouns, misgendering can happen,” their post informed. “Making a mistake is absolutely fine. The best thing to do is to apologize to them in private. We have to be inclusive in using pronouns too because it is their expression of who they are.”

The 25 June poster was about LGBTQ+ Pride Month, emphasizing that “the fight for equal rights does not end on 30 June.”

To delve deeper into LGBTQ+ issues and concerns, the Tiger Committee also conducted two webinars. The first one, on 17 June, from 5 to 7 p.m., was “Kulay ng Kasarian: Webinar on Gender and its History,” which aimed “to create a conversation regarding the gender spectrum and emphasize the importance of gender sensitivity.”

This webinar featured speakers Kana Takahashi, founder of UST Hiraya and Maya; the Feminist Collective, and secretary general of Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) Philippines, and Niq Maravillas, program associate for communications and advocacy at the Forum for Family Planning and Development.

Takahashi discussed genders and sex characteristic, which is a classification based on biology, anatomy and genetics, and their issues; if the Philippines is gender-equal and gay-friendly, discrimination; and types of discrimination such as heterosexism, monosexism and cissexisim.

Maravillas touched on history of the LGBTQ+ sector in the Philippines from the pre-colonial time to the Spanish colonial and American colonial periods, as well as milestones such as the establishment of Home for the Golden Gays; the First National Lesbian Rights Conference, held 7 to 9 December 1996, Silang, Cavite; the first LGBTQ+ Pride March in the country; the formulation of the PAP (Psychology Association of the Philippines) LGBT Nondiscrimination Policy Resolution in October 2011; and the Anti-Discrimination Bill.

On 24 June, “Kaakibat: Webinar on Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment and Laws for Gender Equality” was held, featuring PANTAY co-convenor Jael Gonzales and Award-winning filmmaker and educator Cha Roque, who affirmed that the struggle “is far from over” and encouraged to further the fight for equality and against gender-based discrimination and violence.

Gonzales talked about the SOGIE Equality Bills, pointing out that “our laws don’t recognize SOGIE and if they don’t recognize SOGIE, they cannot penalize SOGIE-based violence and discrimination,” while Roque advocated to put an end to the stigma attached to the LGBTQ+ community by creating films that “inform, challenge and mobilize” people towards the creation of safe spaces.

Roque said that gender-based discrimination starts from little things such as insensitive and homophobic comments and statements, which are really dangerous especially when uttered by people in power or with influence. This “normalizes gender-based discrimination and “incites a culture of hate — a culture of violence.” She encouraged people to educate themselves and their friends.

The Tiger Committee additionally had “Sulong: Pride Month Kinaadman 2020,” a Twitter discussion on 21 June, at 8 p.m., tackling the importance of the LGBTQ+ Prude Month, equality, inclusivity and other issues, and balancing education with entertainment. They also hosted watch parties for two LGBTQ+ films: Die Beautiful on 13 June and A Secret Love on 25 June.

The Tiger Committee also joined other groups and the community in denouncing the harsh treatment of Pride protesters on 26 June. Led by LGBTQ+ organization Bahaghari, a group of activists marched from Morayta Street to Mendiola Street. The police violently dispensed the peaceful protest and arrested 20 people, who were detained at the Manila Police District and released on 30 June.

Ang Pride ay isang protesta. Sa kabila ng ating pagdidiwang ay nananatili pa rin itong isang pagkilos at sigaw para sa pagkakapantay-pantay at mga nararapat na karapatan na dapat matamasa ng komunidad ng LGBTQIA+ (Pride is a protest. While we celebrate, it still remains a movement and cry for equality and rights that be enjoyed by the LGBTQIA+ community),” they said. “Ang pagdulot ng pasalita at pisikal na karahasan at paghuli nang walang wasto o balidong rason sa mga mapayapang nagpoprotesta ay paglalapastangan sa karapatang-pantao at malinaw na halimbawa ng pang-aabuso ng kapangyarihan (The verbal and physical abuse and arrest without valid reason against a peaceful protest is a violation of human rights and a clear example of abuse of power).”

The celebration concluded, though, with a hopeful note and a renewed strength to keep up the faith and fight.

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Thousands crowd ‘white sand’ Manila Bay, told to keep it clean

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As hundreds of people flocked along Roxas Boulevard for a chance to view the Manila Bay’s artificial white sand, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has reminded the public to avoid littering in the area.

MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago urged Filipinos to keep Manila Bay clean since the government has spent about P389 million to rehabilitate the waterway.

“Local tourists gather at the present at the Manila Bay to witness the beauty of dolomite white sand but we would like to remind them to avoid littering there,” Pialago told DZBB in an interview.

“That portion of Manila Bay in front of the US Embassy was opened to the public so they can see this rehabilitation project but it does not mean that picnics are allowed so as to avoid garbage and trash there,” she added.

The MMDA official noted that those who would violate protocols would face sanctions, adding that government personnel and environmental marshals are roving in the area.

Pialago said the MMDA has seen a drastic decline in garbage collected at the Manila Bay.

From 30 truckloads of garbage a day, the MMDA is now collecting one to two trucks daily, she said.

On Saturday, in line with the International Coastal Cleanup Day, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources opened the controversial “white sand” at the beachfront of Manila Bay to the public — even if the government discourages Filipinos from doing non-essential things outdoors.

People were seen taking pictures, holding Zumba sessions, among others, without observing one-meter physical distancing.

Children and senior citizens — who are prohibited to go outside their homes because of their vulnerability to the coronavirus disease — also flocked to the area.

The elderly claimed that they are supporters of President Duterte, as some of them are even holding a tarpaulin with an image of the Chief Executive.

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Former Hollywood couple Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt reunite for virtual table read

Care Balleras

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Hollywood ex-lovers Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt made hearts flutter through their virtual table reading for a racy scene from 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The actors, both in their 50s, unfailingly delivered a youthful performance as Pitt played the role of Brad Hamilton and Aniston took a high school sex queen role.

Also participating in the table read for CORE Response coronavirus charity were Sean Penn, Henry Golding, Matthew McConaughey, John Legend, Jimmy Kimmel, Shia LaBeouf, and Morgan Freeman.

The virtual table read was for the event “Dane Cook Presents Feelin’ A-Live Fast times At Ridgemont High’ to benefit the Community Organised Relief Effort (CORE) and REFORM Alliance.

Aniston and Pitt were married from 2000 but headed to splitsville in 2005.  The actor married Angelina Jolie but the marriage was also unsuccessful and eventually led to divorce last year. Since then, Pitt and Aniston have rekindled their friendship and were seen together at the latest Screen Actors Guild Awards.

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Unstoppable BLACKPINK soon to become PUBG avatars

Care Balleras

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BLACKPINK members Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé, and Lisa are expected to become avatars as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) announced its collaboration with the K-pop group.

In a post of PUBG Corporation’s social media accounts, it was revealed that the team-up will soon be experienced in its mobile platforms. While not so much is known of yet, BLINKs have been hyping the collab which will be a first for a KPop group.

Individual teaser posters of the girls were also recently released to give a glimpse of how they will appear on the assault mobile game.

The powerhouse girl group is indeed unstoppable as they go beyond the music charts.

Recently, their collaboration with Selena Gomez for Ice Cream has been a mainstay on Billboard Hot 100 since its release.

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Ongpin gold trader ambushed, robbed; police escort killed, 2 hurt

Pat C. Santos

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A member of the Manila Police District was killed while two others were wounded when armed men ambushed a businesswoman Saturday afternoon in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Killed was PEMS Roel Candido of MPD-Station 11, 53, and resident of 714 benita st., Gagalangin, Tondo.  He succumbed to multiple bullet wounds in the body.

Wounded victims were identified as Catherine King, 43, owner of the Jewelry store at China Town Gold Center Stalls 1 and 2 in Sta. Cruz, and her driver, Sulpicio Pisngot.

The incident happened at 5:40 pm on F. Florentino Torres St. in Sta Cruz.

CCTV footages showed two suspects were standing near a post wearing fatigue uniform and another suspect wore a black t-shirt with a mask on while a red color Mitsubishi Mirage car on hazard lights was on standby, and eventually blocked the path of an approaching white Toyota Innova car where the businesswoman and his driver were on board. Candido, who was on a motorcycle, was tailing them.

When the white car stopped, the man in fatigue shot Candido. The second suspect went to Candido and shot him, too.  He was killed on the spot.

The suspects immediately rushed to the victims’ car and opened fire at it before taking the businesswoman’s bag.

They immediately fled while onboard the red car.

King and Pisngot were rushed to the Metropolitan Hospital for treatment while police are conducting investigation.

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Palace rejects EU Parliament’s call to drop charges versus Ressa

MJ Blancaflor

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Malacañang has defended the legitimacy of criminal raps against Rappler CEO and founder Maria Ressa after European lawmakers urged the government to drop charges against the veteran journalist.

In a statement over the weekend, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the tax evasion cases, alleged anti-dummy and securities code violations, and cyber libel complaints against Ressa and Rappler are “founded on the Philippines’ jurisprudence and Constitution.”

His remarks came after the European Parliament called the administration to drop “politically motivated” charges against Ressa and ex-Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr. as it sounded the alarm over “deteriorating level of press freedom” in the Philippines.

“The freedom of expression and press freedom has never been and will never be curtailed by the Duterte administration. This as we continue to promote our shared democratic ideals with the international community,” Andanar said.

“In fact, the Philippines continues to enjoy a plurality of voices, expression, opinions, and beliefs; hence, the continued operations of Rappler and Ms. Ressa’s pursuit for self-justification in response to their legal obligations,” he added.

In June, Ressa and Santos were convicted of cyber libel over the complaint filed in 2017 by Filipino-Chinese businessman Wilfredo Keng, whose daughter was appointed to a government post by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The case stemmed from a Rappler article titled “CJ Using SUVs of Controversial Businessman” written by Santos in 2012, which claimed that former Chief Justice Renato Corona was using a sports utility vehicle found to be registered to Keng.

Ressa and human rights groups believe the administration was behind the cyber libel cases as the President has repeatedly assailed Rappler in response for its critical reporting, including its coverage of the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.

Andanar, a broadcast journalist himself prior to his appointment in the Palace, said Ressa has been accusing the administration of manipulation through the government’s propaganda machines to “escape from her legal obligations.”

The Palace official added Ressa “continues to enjoy her inherent right to express her beliefs and thoughts, whether they be verified or not.”

Andanar said the government’s commitment to promoting media protection is reflected in the poll by the Social Weather Stations’ conducted last year which showed that three out of five Filipinos believe that they can speak “openly and without fear” on different issues.

He also noted that the Philippines has maintained a satisfactory position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index at 54th rank in 2019.

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Hontiveros flags discrepancy in cost of gov’t-procured PPEs

Hananeel Bordey

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Senator Risa Hontiveros emphasized that there are more government funds that lost to overpricing as she flagged the discrepancies in the cost of government-procured personal protective equipment (PPE) sets in the Department of Budget and Management’s second-quarter report.

In a statement, Hontiveros refuted DBM-Procurement Services’ (DBM-PS) claim that the government did not lose P1 billion due to overpriced PPEs, asserting that the said figure is just a rough estimate.

“Maaring mas mahigit pa sa isang bilyon ang nakuha sa kaban ng bayan. Higit sa isang bilyon na dapat ginamit nalang para sa ayuda, sa pagtaas ng sahod, at napakarami pang iba,” she said.

“The 1 billion-peso loss is even a conservative estimate. The Department of Health (DOH) has ordered another 5.1 million PPE sets amounting to around P10.2 billion. The procurement of which is ongoing,” she added.

Hontiveros made the claim citing the DBM’s Quarter 2 report from April to May.

She compared the data from DBM with the report from Malacañang and flagged the P900-peso difference from the two reports.

“This means the DBM and DOH were procuring PPE sets for P2,000 each. However, also in May, the Palace reported that during their Inter-Agency Task Force meeting, the government procured PPE sets worth P1,100 each. There’s a huge discrepancy there,” she said.

“Where is the extra P900 going? That’s around P4 billion worth of PPE sets that is unaccounted for. Mukhang may nagsasayang ng pera ng mamamayan. Mukhang may kumikita talaga,” she added.

Last week, Hontiveros questioned DBM’s procurement of PPEs in a price ranging from P1,700 to P2000, which is above the estimated price of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) that PPEs range from P1,200 to P1,500.

The DBM-PS has denied Hontiveros’ claim that the government lost P1 billion due to the alleged overpricing, saying that they even saved about P800 million through direct procurement with manufacturers and accredited distributors.

She also reiterated her opposition to the procurement of PPEs from other countries despite the presence of local manufacturers.

“I know there is the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP), a group of Pinoy companies, and they were ready to respond to the needs of the pandemic and yet the government continued to import PPEs,” she said.

She pointed out that the DBM and the DOH should prioritize local manufacturers as these will generate more jobs in the country.

Hontiveros, citing CPMP’s statement, said that it has provided the government with PPE supplies as they can produce three million medical-grade coveralls and isolation gowns every month.

The DOH, however, never procured from them.

The opposition senator called anew for proper auditing of the Bayanihan To Heal As One fund pushing Senate Resolution 479 which she filed to call for a Senate investigation.

“We need this audit to inform our budget deliberations in the Senate. I will also have the agencies submit documents related to the aforementioned questionable procurements for our budget hearings. The public can be assured that we will hold them to account,” Hontiveros said.

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Bianca, Dottie make LPGA Portland Classic cut

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Bianca Pagdanganan (File photo)

For the second straight day, Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina shot identical scores – even-par 72s – to safely make the cut in the LPGA Portland Classic at the Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).

Pagdanganan and Ardina are among the 13 players tied for 43rd spot on two-under 142 and get a chance to play together for the first time in the final round on Sunday.

Both Filipinas are paired with American Andrea Lee at 9:15 a.m.

Pagdanganan, the 22-year-old rookie making her fourth start in the LPGA, began with three bogeys in the first six holes.

“I struggled a bit with my irons but I eventually got it together,” said the reigning Southeast Asian Games champion.

Pagdanganan strung up four straight birdies from 9 to 12 until she closed with a bogey on 18.

Averaging 274 yards off the tee, she found only nine of 14 fairways and missed seven greens.

The 26-year-old Ardina, on the other hand, missed only one fairway but missed six greens.

She had a roller-coaster round of five birdies against the same number of birdies.

Both ICTSI-backed players lie 12 shots behind leader Mel Reid who fired seven birdies in a seven-under par 65 to take a two-stroke lead over defending champion Hannah Green.

England’s Reid, a six-time winner on the Ladies European Tour who is chasing a first LPGA title, heads into Sunday’s final round on 12-under par 132.

“Put myself in great position, a position that everyone wants to be in, so I’m excited for the opportunity tomorrow,” said Reid, who strung together four birdies in a row from the sixth through the ninth and rolled in her final birdie of the day at the 18th.

“Just keep doing the same thing and see where tomorrow afternoon takes us,” added Reid, who shared seventh at the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California, last week.

“I felt like I hit it really good last week, so kind of took that momentum going into this week,” said Reid, who said she benefitted from the day off on Thursday after the tournament was reduced to 54 holes because of poor air quality due to wildfires.

“I think it did me a favor having an extra day off,” she said. “I was pretty tired from last week.”

Australia’s Green, who shared the first-round lead with American Cydney Clanton, followed her opening 66 with a four-under par 68 for a 10-under total of 134.

She shook off a bogey at her opening hole, the 10th and put herself alone in second with a birdie bomb at her final hole, the ninth.

“I got off to such a great start, so it’s always hard to back up a low round,” said Green, whose two wins last year included her Portland triumph and her first major title at the Women’s PGA Championship.

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2 Commies surrender; 50 Anakpawis members withdraw rebel support

Jonas Reyes

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SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija — Two members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) voluntarily surrendered to the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday along with the withdrawal of support by 50 Anakpawis members to the rebel group.

According to Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) chief PBGen Rhodel Sermonia, the surrender of the two CTGs is due to the efforts of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-ELCAC).

He added that the continuous Local Peace Engagement activities of the Philippine National Police and other RTF-ELCAC members such as information dissemination made the CTG members aware of the government’s programs and the opportunity to change their lives and correct the mistakes they have committed.

The two CTGs were part of the CPP-NPA that operated in San Jose City.

Sermonia said that they are eligible to avail of the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and will be provided with a holistic package of benefits such as livelihood, medical, education, housing, and legal assistance.

Meanwhile, 50 Anakpawis members led by their Chairman Danilo Bacnis withdrew their support to the CPP-NPA-NDF with the voluntary surrender of Bacnis’ firearm.

“I am once again urging those who are still actively fighting the government to lay down their arms and embrace other peaceful means to attain their sought-after changes. Our government has several programs to retool you so that you could all  become even more productive members of our society,”  Sermonia said.

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