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PLDT, Smart leave Internet rivals behind

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THE numbers do not lie: PLDT and Smart are the leaders when it comes to Internet speed in the country.

PLDT and Smart have emerged anew as the fastest fixed and mobile Internet networks in the country, respectively, in the first half of the year, based on regular tests conducted by Ookla.

Ookla, the industry’s authority when it comes to end-user Internet speed tests, credited the two companies for leading local Internet providers in Q1 and Q2 this year.

It awarded PLDT with the Fastest Fixed Internet Award for Q1-Q2 of 2020, topping Converge ICY, SKY, and Globe. Smart, on the other hand, was handed by Ookla with the Fastest Mobile Award as it outpaced rival Globe Telecom for the same period.

The two companies also emerged as leaders in the second half of 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic made its presence felt.

PLDT received a speed score of 24.79, three points higher than Converge ICT, with its 21.53; nine points higher than SKY’s 15.56; and 15 points higher than Globe, with its 9.17.

It posted 70.54Mbps as its top download speed and 85.38 Mbps as its top upload speed, leaving the competition well behind.

Smart was rated with a speed score of 18.33, nearly six points higher than Globe’s 12.35; and had an average download and upload speeds of 15.94 Mbps and 7.57Mbps, respectively. Globe’s averages were 11.96 Mbps and 4.03 Mbps download and upload, respectively.

Over half a billion users rely on Speedtest to measure their internet performance every year. Ookla analyzes these test results to get a view into mobile and fixed broadband metrics around the world.

“It is our pleasure to recognize Smart as the Fastest Mobile Network and PLDT as the Fastest Fixed Network in the Philippines based on our rigorous analysis. These awards are a testament to PLDT and Smart’s exceptional performance, as experienced by their own customers, in Q1 and Q2,” said Doug Suttles, CEO at Ookla.

Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering, welcomed the development saying the “results of these consumer-initiated tests highlight the beneficial impact of the sustained investments we have made in our network infrastructure over the past five years.”

“As a result, we have been able to ensure that our customers have the best data experience, even amid the global pandemic,” he added.

The PLDT-Smart official said they achieved it through network expansion and increasing the capacity of their 4G/LTE network.  “We’ve done this by combining the roll out of our physical installations with software systems upgrades that can be done remotely,” Tamayo said.

Smart has been a leader in key cities, including Cebu City, Makati City, and Quezon, while PLDT was also ahead in Quezon City, Cebu City, and Davao City, Ookla said.

 

 

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Casimero draws power from ‘bulalo’

Nick Giongco

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A hole-in-the-wall Filipino restaurant cum grocery store in the Connecticut town of Wallingford might hold the key to John Riel Casimero’s bid to put on a show of force when he risks the World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight title this Sunday.

Now inside the bubble at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, an area in the town of Montville, which is 60 miles from Wallingford, Casimero will soon have his bowl of his favorite bulalo (beef soup).

American boxing man Sean Gibbons said his son, Brendan, has just flown in from Los Angeles and will serve as the errand boy in the next few days.

“Brendan won’t be with us in the bubble but he will play a major role because he will be giving us what we need inside,” Gibbons said.

“He will pick up the groceries and other needs.”

The Kayumanggi shop has agreed to concoct Casimero’s request of beef bones and marrow slow-cooked in spices and seasoning as part of his nutritional requirements in the final days leading to the fight with Ghanaian challenger Duke Micah.

Only Casimero, lead trainer Bones Adams, Filipino-American cutman Stephen Lunas and Gibbons are ordered to remain behind closed doors.

“I have already talked with the lady who owns the store and she readily agreed to cook for Casimero,” Gibbons said.

“It’s important that Casimero gets to eat what he wants because these little things, called intangibles, play a role in winning and winning big.”

Earlier in the day, Casimero (29-4 with 20 KOs) and Micah (24-0 wit 19 KOs) faced off during a zoom press conference and the champion didn’t mince words.

“I’ll go for the knockout. This is my first time on Showtime so I want to give everyone watching an impressive performance,” said Casimero, referring to the television network that will telecast the fight.

“This is a big opportunity show the world who I am. I promise I will do my best this fight. I am extremely ready to give it my all,” added Casimero, who has been training in the United States since mid-February.

Micah was likewise upbeat as he vowed to come up with an “electrifying style.”

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One bettor wins P128.4M Grand Lotto jackpot

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One bettor won the Grand Lotto jackpot prize worth P128.3 million during its draw on Wednesday night, 23 September, said the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Grand Lotto is drawn every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.  Ticket priced at P20.

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Australian rescuers forced to euthanize some beached whales as toll rises

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A dead whale lays on a beach in Macquarie Harbour on the rugged west coast of Tasmania. (AFP)

Australian rescuers were forced Thursday to begin euthanizing some surviving whales from a mass stranding that has already killed 380 members of the giant pod.

While 88 pilot whales have been saved since the pod was discovered beached on Tasmania’s rugged western seaboard four days ago, the death toll is expected to rise as the window for rescue closes.

“We still have a few more live animals that we think are going to be viable to move,” said Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service manager Nic Deka, praising the hard “yakka” (work) of rescuers who will continue until nightfall and into Friday.

“There is a likelihood that we’ll be continuing the rescue effort tomorrow… our focus has been on those that appear the most viable and have the most chance of success,” he said.

A crew of around 60 conservationists and expert volunteers have spent days wading in the chilly waters of Macquarie Harbour, surrounded by the anguishing cries of dying whales.

“It is emotional,” said rescuer Sam Thalmann.

“There are animals swimming around, they are vocalizing. We can see the bonds and the pairings within them.”

Pilot whales — which can grow up to six meters (20 feet) long and weigh a tonne — are highly social.

Some animals have resisted rescue or tried to return to the pod after being freed, becoming beached for a second time.

Such is the level of distress that authorities said they had to carry out mercy killings of at least four whales.

“Those four whales were euthanized earlier today,” using firearms and specialist ammunition, said Tasmanian environment department marine biologist Kris Carlyon.

“We’ve got a few others that we currently giving veterinary assessment.”

“That’s based purely on animal welfare grounds,” he said.

The crews are now focusing efforts on a group of 20-25 partially submerged whales, using boats fitted with special slings to guide them back to the open ocean.

But, increasingly, attention is turning to how to safely dispose of the carcasses of the nearly 400 whales that have already died.

“Our preference is for disposal at sea. We’re still taking expert advice about where exactly the drop-off point may be,” said Deka.

Left where they are, the whales would “bloat and float”, causing a navigation hazard, polluting the bay, and potentially attracting sharks and other predators, Deka said.

“The decomposition of such a large number of animals could actually affect oxygen levels in parts of the harbor, which could affect the marine life in those places.”

‘Little we can do’

A resident and cruise-boat worker who gave her name only as Monique said the local community has been devastated by witnessing scenes of such anguish.

“You could see that they were obviously suffering,” she told AFP.

“On the beach they were still… puffing, flipping about and you couldn’t really do much to help them.”

The causes of mass strandings remain unknown despite scientists studying the phenomenon for decades.

Some researchers have suggested the pilot whales may have gone off track after being attracted by food close to the shoreline, or by following one or two members of the pod that strayed.

Marine biologist Carlyon said it was a “natural event” with strandings of the species regularly occurring in both southern Australia and neighboring New Zealand.

“We do step in and respond in these situations, but as far as being able to prevent these occurring in the future, there’s really little that we can do,” he said.

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Complaint vs Pimentel up for resolution

Alvin Murcia

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The Department of Justice has submitted for resolution the breach of protocol complaint filed against Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel lll.

“Yung kay Sen. Pimentel submitted for resolution as of yesterday (Wednesday). I’m submitting it to OPG [Office of Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento] but I don’t know if he can sign it, he is out today,” Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said Thursday.

Fadullon added that he is still awaiting the report of Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval about the matter but he has already told him to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

DOJ reopened the investigation on the breach of quarantine protocol filed against Pimentel after receiving a report from the hospital the lawmaker visited in March while awaiting his COVID-19 test result.

The reopening of the criminal investigation was done after the National Bureau of Investigation received a copy of the incident report from Makati Medical Center Medical Director Dr. Saturnino Javier.

“In view of the foregoing and in line with the policy of admitting all evidence that could assist in the judicious resolution of complaint, the preliminary investigation of this case is hereby reopened,” Assistant State Prosecutor Bendoval wrote.

Pimentel visited the hospital in March to accompany his pregnant wife even though he was already showing symptoms of COVID-19. He later tested positive for the highly-contagious virus, drawing outrage from the public for endangering patients and hospital personnel during his visit.

The senator was castigated by the hospital management for violating home quarantine rules, calling his action “reckless and unacceptable.”

Pimentel and the complainant, former dean of the University of Makati Rico Quicho, were then asked to submit their replies on MMC’s report by 21 September.

Legal experts previously said the senator may be fined up to ₱50,000 or face a jail term of one to six months for failing to disclose that he was suspected of having COVID-19 at the time.

For violating the enhanced community quarantine, he can be fined between ₱10,000 and ₱50,000 or jailed for up to a year.

Pimentel earlier apologized for accompanying his wife to the hospital, but said the trip was “essential” as she was about to give birth. He also said he only learned about his positive COVID-19 test when he was already in the hospital.

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PCCI urges IATF to allow more jeepneys to operate

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THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI), tapped by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to be its consultant with regards to COVID 19 pandemic response, has suggested opening more routes for jeepneys to aide more employees that are going to their workplaces during this general community quarantine (GCQ).

In a virtual media conference for the launch of the 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo, slated to happen on 7-8 October this year, PCCI President, Ambassador Benedicto V. Yujuico urged the IATF to allow more jeeps to operate and open more routes to drivers and operators.

“The IATF should allow jeepneys to ply routes from secondary roads so our people can be brought to the main arteries like EDSA so that they can take buses. That will also help the jeepney drivers who, for more than 6 months without income,” according to Yujuico.

Yujuico added that besides jeepneys, their group is also asking the IATF to consider increasing the percentage capacity of buses to allow more workers to report to their respective workplaces.

A total number of 64,512 public utility jeepneys (PUJs) plying Metro routes are allowed to operate by the IATF as of June, with 50 percent passenger capacity, to augment for the gradual reopening of the economy amid COVID 19 pandemic.

“The IATF should consider the business aspect and the economic recovery and part of the economic recovery is we must allow employees to report to their workplaces for businesses to make money, otherwise they are going to close down. Baka pwede in accordance with what they think what’s right,” according to Yujuico.

He said the PCCI was allowed by the IATF to be observers of what the IATF is doing, and perhaps “little backdoor channeling in terms of some of their suggestions.”

Last August, the PCCI in a resolution, asked the IATF to include private sectors to its pandemic related decisions, as they will be able to use their on-the-ground experience to come up with a holistic approach that will make businesses easier to resume operation and for workers to return to work.

Yujuico maintained that they hope the government would recognize the vital role of businesses in creating jobs and providing income, as well as the need to address the issue of livelihood and poverty to avoid social unrest.

Subsequently, Malacañang had welcomed the group’s inclusion as resource persons and their inclusion, but only on matters related to trade, business, the economy, and policy discussions with regards to the country’s coronavirus response.

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Liza Soberano files charges over ‘rape joke’, and she is not laughing

Sundy Locus

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Actress Liza Soberano on Thursday filed criminal charges against a netizen who made a rape remark on her on social media.

According to reports, Soberano arrived at the Quezon City regional trial court together with her manager Ogie Diaz and legal counsel, lawyer Jun Lim to lodge a formal complaint.

The 22-year-old actress said she decided to push through with the charges to let “people learn the consequences of speaking like that on social media” as she stressed that rape jokes should not be taken lightly.

“I was really upset because the fact that it’s a rape joke it’s not something that should be taken lightly, and the fact that she’s a woman, I would never in a million years do a joke like that,” she said.

“I know that everybody is entitled to their own opinion, that is true, but at some point, you have to be respectful to others online. I want people to learn that there are consequences to everything like rape jokes coz that is not a light matter,” she added.

The issue started when the young actress tweeted a complaint regarding the slow Internet speed at her house earlier this month, and how fast another service provider responded to help her — a privilege not accorded to the common folk.

Soberano’s posts gained thousands of reactions including the comment of the netizen that posted “wala tayong magagawa, wala ng trabaho, kaya di bale ng masira ang image, magkapera lang. sarap ipa-rape sa mga…. ewan!”

The employer of the netizen who allegedly posted the comment on 21 September said that the company does not tolerate such actions and that they are dealing with the matter and will carry out proper disciplinary measures against its employee.

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3 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao blast

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Three soldiers were injured when an anti-personnel mine exploded in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, this morning, the military said.

Troops of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion were conducting combat clearing operations in Brgy. Salman when they were hit by the blast, said Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman.

Medics immediately responded to the area and applied first aid to the wounded, then brought them to the Camp Siongco Station Hospital, he said.

Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force-Central commander, said additional troops have been deployed to cordon the area and investigate.

The explosion occurred barely a week after a roadside bombing left a Marine trooper dead and four others wounded in Shariff Aguak town on 18 Sept.

The Marines had then just come from an operation against the ISIS-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Brgy. Salman, according to police.

“Inflicting harm to our troops is the desperate device of the weakened terrorist groups to attract attention and harbor support,” said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., Wesmincom chief.

“We will heighten our security operations and stay on guard against emerging threats,” he added.

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Mountain Province is COVID-free

Aldwin Quitasol

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BAGUIO CITY- Mountain Province has no recorded cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) since 14 September 2020.

According to Provincial Department of Health Office (PDOHO) head Judith Dao-as, the last recorded case was on 13 September.  The patient was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) repatriate.

She said that Mountain Province has a total record of 16 confirmed cases with no deaths, and all of them had recovered based on their latest Covid test results.

“We are again COVID-free,” announced the provincial government of Mountain Province. The province has ten municipalities. The Provincial Health Office listed 301 suspect cases but all of them tested negative.

But Dao-as said the province is still strictly monitoring the arrivals of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) coming from other places. She said the different municipal government units are making sure that the LSIs are confined in quarantine areas and must complete the required quarantine days.

Despite this development, the province remains closed to tourists.

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TikTok urges court to block Trump’s ban on app in US

Agence France-Presse

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(AFP)

TikTok is urging a federal court to block US President Donald Trump from banning the video app, arguing the move is motivated by election politics rather than legitimate national security concerns.

The Chinese-owned app — which is wildly popular in the US — has come under fire as tensions escalate between Beijing and Washington, with Trump threatening a ban if it is not sold to an American company.

Attorneys are set to argue the case on Thursday before a judge who will decide whether to put Trump’s order on hold until a lawsuit over the ban is resolved.

Citing “confusing and contradictory statements about TikTok” by the president and other agencies, the motion for a preliminary injunction argues a ban is not motivated by “genuine national security concern, but rather by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election.”

TikTok, which became a global phenomenon with its brand of short, addictive phone videos, has some 100 million US users.

A deal to restructure ownership of the app was thrown into doubt Monday when Trump vowed to block a deal that allows its Chinese parent firm ByteDance to retain any control.

The comments cast doubt over an agreement that had appeared to cut a way through the threatened ban.

The deal would make Silicon Valley giant Oracle the data partner for TikTok, with retail giant Walmart also taking a minority stake in a new entity to be called TikTok Global.

As competing statements deepened the mystery over the app’s future, ByteDance earlier said TikTok Global plans to launch a “small round of pre-IPO financing” after which it would become an 80 percent-owned subsidiary of ByteDance.

But Trump told Fox News om Monday that TikTok’s Chinese parent firm “will have nothing to do with it.”

Oracle and Walmart “are going to own the controlling interest,” he added. “Everything is going to be moved into a cloud done by Oracle… and it’s going to be controlled — totally controlled by Oracle.”

ByteDance said Thursday that it had applied for an export license with the commerce ministry, although it did not link the move to TikTok or any potential sale.

China’s commerce ministry published new rules in August that added “civilian use” to a list of technologies that are restricted for export and require permission, which could complicate any sale.

Winning a temporary injunction typically involves convincing a judge that not intervening would allow irreparable harm to be done to a party likely to win the case.

TikTok would suffer “devastating harm” from which it could not recover if Trump’s ban is found to be unlawful, the motion argued.

As US relations with China grew more contentious, Trump began targeting TikTok, the filing read.

The motion also speculated that TikTok had irked the president because of reports the app was used by his critics to snatch up tickets to a Trump rally in Tulsa to which they had no intention of going — an event which belly flopped with significantly fewer people in attendance.

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