WASHINGTON: The United States and the European Union are launching a fresh round of talks in order to reach a “mutually acceptable” solution on trade disputes including steel and aluminum tariffs, officials said Wednesday. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and visiting EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem made the announcement as world governments press Washington to exclude them from the metals tariffs. “Everything will be clear tomorrow.”In congressional testimony earlier Wednesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Washington was also discussing tariff exemptions with Australia, Argentina and Brazil. The talks should be finished by the end of April, Lighthizer said, and while the talks are ongoing some countries may be spared paying the tariffs. “Now whether this happens is up to the president,” Lighthizer said.
March 22, 2018 16:07 UTC
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Australia called for non-militarization and the immediate conclusion of negotiations on the code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea amid the alleged continuous construction activities by China. “We emphasize the importance of non-militarization and the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may complicate the situation,” Asean and Australian leaders said in a joint statement called the Sydney declaration. The declaration came at the end of the two-day special summit between Australia and the 10-member regional bloc. In February, reports came out regarding China’s continuous militarization of some reefs in the West Philippine Sea. During the 31st Asean summit in Manila in November last year, the two parties agreed to begin negotiations on the Code of Conduct which viewed as a major step in keeping order in the contested waters.
March 22, 2018 15:56 UTC
ZAMBOANGA CITY: At least five armed men barged into a public school in Patikul, Sulu on Thursday morning and forcibly took the school principal, according to the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom). Officials said the gunmen abducted Marjorie Abdul at Liang Elementary School in Patikul, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group, blamed for the spate of ransom kidnappings in the restive region. Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for WestMinCom, said security forces were deployed in the town to track down and rescue Abdul. Also this week, kidnappers freed Muslim teacher, Doris Hamsirani, in Barangay Liang in Patikul town. Hamsirani, 45, was taken on March 7 in Barangay Timbangan of Indanan town, but details about her abduction were unclear.
March 22, 2018 15:56 UTC
Sister teams San Miguel Beer and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok will be assaulting the record books when they battle starting today for the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Hotshots coach Chito Victolero will be trying to duplicate the late Purefoods bench tactician Ely Capacio’s feat of winning the All-Flipino in his first try. Before winning the 1991 plum, Purefoods was also runner up three straight years from 1988 to 1990, 1992 2000 and 20008. The two teams met anew in 1993 with Coney Island winning the championship carrying the banner Coney Island. That was the first in the only three times that the Beermen lost in the Philippine Cup finals.
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines — Mayon Volcano’s alert level may be lowered next week if its downward trend will continue, an official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said yesterday. At a press briefing at Camp Simeon Ola, Phivolcs resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said Mayon has been quiet since the alert level was lowered to 2 on March 6. “We are going to observe the volcano...until next week before we decide if we will lower the alert level,” Laguerta said. He said Mayon has ejected around 65 million cubic meters of volcanic materials since Jan. 13. Laguerta said they could not immediately lower the alert level due to the risks faced by residents within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone.
March 22, 2018 15:45 UTC
MALACAÑANG said any official of the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) who will be found guilty of neglect of duty, will be dismissed after the ill-fated Dimple Star Transport bus fell into a ravine in Occidental Mindoro. If [the accident]is a result of negligence of a government official, of course he will be fired,” Roque said. The ill-fated Dimple Star bus fell off a cliff in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro on Tuesday night killing 19 passengers, including its driver and conductor, and injured 21 others. The bus carrying 40 passengers was on its way to Manila from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro was approaching Patrick Bridge in Sablayan town when the driver reportedly lost the breaks. “The LTFRB should also intensify its campaign in the maintenance of the bus and continuing effort that the capability of the public utility bus drivers be improved,” Roque added.
NEW YORK: LeBron James shrugged off five absent players and an ill coach with a virtuoso performance Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), rallying the host Cleveland Cavaliers over NBA Eastern Conference leader Toronto 132-129. “I’ve never seen anything like it, to be perfectly honest with you—17 assists, 35 points and no turnovers. It’s just amazing,” said Cavaliers associate coach Larry Drew, filling in as Tyronn Lue fights health issues. I saw him in the corner and he knocked it down.”George Hill added 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting for the Cavaliers. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 24 points while DeMar DeRozan added 21.
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed increase in the contribution of Social Security System (SSS) members may be delayed until the second half of the year, the state pension fund said yesterday. In a press briefing, SSS president and CEO Emmanuel Dooc said the planned contribution hike may not proceed next month as originally scheduled. Under the original proposal, the SSS wants to adjust the contribution rate by three percentage points to 14 percent of members’ monthly salary credit from the current 11 percent. The SSS also seeks to adjust the minimum salary credit to P4,000 from the current P1,000 and the maximum salary credit to P20,000 from P16,000. According to the SSS, the move to increase member’s contribution is seen to protect the viability of the pension fund following the P1,000 increase in the pension benefits of retirees.
March 22, 2018 15:45 UTC
Victolero, 42, is in his first PBA Finals as a head coach. Compared to San Miguel coach Leo Austria who’s never lost in five trips to the Finals, he’s a novice. But Victolero said the pain of failing to advance to the Last Dance after three semifinal appearances last season is motivation to get the job done this conference. Pingris started in Magnolia’s 77-76 loss to San Miguel in the eliminations last Feb. 4 and delivered five points and 14 rebounds in 35:04 minutes. “Maybe, we can take advantage of the long minutes of their starters if we extend the series to at least a Game 6 or 7,” he said.
Akari-Adamson guns for the semis against Jose Rizal U Bombers on April 5. The Altas fell to 3-6. But it was Mojica who delivered the goods, including three triples that sealed the victory for the Falcons. Zarks-Lyceum of the Phl U later trounced Jose Rizal U, 91-81, to bolster its semis bid with a 6-4 card. The Bombers fell to 1-8.
Darlene Ramdin delivered clutch hits to power the Lifesavers to what was only their second victory against five losses at the close of the first round. Their ranking in the second round, however, would be determined pending the result of the Sta. With Bosnian import Sonja Milanovic on the attack, the HD Spikers crawled back from a 5-8 deficit to tie the count at 11 in the deciding set. Ramdin, however, hammered in a powerful backrow attack then Angeli Araneta produced an ace to tow Generika-Ayala closer to match point. She plays her heart out even if she’s in pain,” said Generika-Ayala head coach Sherwin Meneses, beaming with satisfaction over his wards’ impressive performance in the fifth set despite the HD Spikers’ dominance on defense with 18 blocks.
MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer is the overwhelming favorite with its powerhouse roster built around the 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo. And the Hotshots are bringing into the championship an uncanny confidence so rare to a challenger to a fabled titlist. If their elims faceoff would be any gauge, then the Beermen and the Hotshots could be in for a series to remember. A ferocious game the Hotshots put up in their elims matchup is a cause of concern for San Miguel coach Leo Austria. But there’s big factor in that game that the Hotshots are missing now – Marc Pingris.
MANILA, Philippines — Police said Thursday they killed 13 drug suspects and arrested more than 100 suspected dealers and criminals in one day of raids in a province with a record of bloody crackdowns. A similar crackdown in the province in August left 32 suspected drug offenders dead in the highest single-day toll in the nearly two-year campaign. Last month, Bulacan police killed 10 drug suspects in a 24-hour sweep. Caramat said in one incident in San Jose del Monte city, three motorcycle-riding drug dealers were killed when they sensed that a drug buyer was an officer. Duterte has denied ordering police to carry out extrajudicial killings but has repeatedly threatened suspected drug lords and dealers with death in public speeches.
March 22, 2018 13:17 UTC
MANILA, Philippines — More countries may soon leave the International Criminal Court, a Malacañang spokesman said Thursday, as the Philippines joins the African nation of Burundi in the club of former state-parties. And the major countries such as the United States, Russia and China are not parties to the ICC," Roque said. To date, only Burundi has withdrawn from the Assembly of State Parties of the ICC. With the Philippine decision, the ICC should not expect any cooperation from Manila as its withdrawal, in Duterte’s opinion, is immediately executory. I don't think the ICC can look forward to cooperation from the Philippines as a state-party or a soon-to-be former state-party to the International Criminal Court," Roque said.
March 22, 2018 11:35 UTC
MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang on Thursday defended approval of casino project slated to be constructed on Boracay island in 2019. Because if they build a facility as big as they want to build, perhaps the [Environment department] will require what Shangri-La Boracay has, which is zero-discharge. "So, an establishment as big as this casino, will probably be required to have not just a [Sewage Treatment Plant], but the water recycling treatment facility. Speculation was sparked by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. granting Macau-based casino giant Galaxy Entertainment Group provisional approval for an integrated casino-resort project despite several government agencies' proposed temporary total closure of Boracay. The Department of Environment and Natural Resource, Department of Tourism, Department of Interior Local Government last week suggested a total closure of Boracay for up to one year for its rehabilitation.
March 22, 2018 11:23 UTC