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Reopening of Boracay all set

Published in Latest News

Photo from Business World | Crecencio I. Cruz


BORACAY, Malay, Aklan – It is 'all systems go' for the reopening of Boracay Island to tourists on Oct. 26.


Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu made the announcement after a task force meeting in the island resort.


The Philippine National Police said it was ready to do its role to keep peace and order in the island. 


“All systems go. In fact on Oct. 25, we are conducting the capability demonstration wherein the chief PNP (Oscar Albayalde) will grace the occasion. And we have a series of activities that will be done in Boracay,” said Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Police Regional Office-6 director.


“We are well-prepared insofar as equipage, the number of personnel needed, the facilities especially the buildings dahil mayroon kaming mga substations na kinonstruct doon sa lugar (because we have substations that are being constructed in the area). We transferred the Malay Police Station (Headquarters) and many more. We will be having a press briefing on October 25 in the island,” he added.


Bulalacao also assured that the local police is ready to enforce ordinances on the island, especially those with punitive provisions.

Last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the dry run for Boracay Island's re-opening to the public.


Photographs of scattered cups and other trash in the beach surfaced after the dry run's opening.


"Some people might not still be aware about the need to dispose their trash properly," Francisco said.


RA 9003 stipulates that litterbugs face a fine of P300 to P1,000, or required to render community service ranging from one to 15 days.


Six months after it was closed for rehabilitation, more than 1,300 people visited the island at the start of the 10-day dry run of Boracay's reopening on Oct. 15.


However, photos of garbage dumped in areas within the island went viral on social media and enraged some netizens.


Earlier, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it will allow citizens' arrests against littering in the island.


DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Benny Antiporda said this is to prevent the same scenario during the first day of the dry run when trash was found on the beach.


Antiporda said that aside from locals, they are also tapping businesses to help enforce the anti-littering ordinance of Boracay Island, known as the “Anti-Littering Ordinance of Malay Municipal No. 311”. Fines and imprisonment await violators, he warned.


Antiporda said members of the Compliant Association of Boracay (CAB), a group of hotels, resorts, and restaurants on the island, were given accreditation by the Department of Tourism (DOT).


“The CAB would deputize its members to become Boracay marshals,” he said, adding that each establishment is required to have pollution control officers.


CAB member establishments, he added, would also install trash bins, especially on the beachfront.


Secretary Cimatu earlier said environmental enforcers will be deployed to patrol Boracay’s beaches starting on reopening day.


The campaign against single-use plastic will also be strictly implemented on the island.

Crimes down by 17% in first half of 2018: PNP

Published in Latest News

Photo from PTV News


CAMP CRAME, Quezon City – Total crime volume in the country decreased during the first six months of this year, according to the the Philippine National Police (PNP).


Citing data from the PNP's Unit Crime Periodic Reports (UCPER), Director General Oscar Albayalde said a total of 227,757 crime incidents were recorded from January to June this year, translating to a 17.39-percent decrease from 275,702 during the same period last year.


This is due to the decrease in the volume of index and non-index crimes, at 33.05 percent and 13.20 percent, respectively.


“Among index crimes, the top three most prevalent crimes are theft, physical injury and robbery. But despite theft and physical injury registering the top two most prevalent crimes nationwide, both crime categories went down by 36.90 percent and 33.80 percent, respectively,” Albayalde said.


Index crimes include murder, homicide and physical injury while examples of non-index crimes include violation of city ordinances and less serious criminal offenses.


“We noted that homicide incidents have been slightly reduced during the first half of 2018 after several months of consistently posting increased incidents among the eight focus crime categories,” Albayalde said.


The focus crime categories, which posted a decline, include murder (29.54 percent); homicide (9.47 percent); physical injury (33.80 percent); rape (24.82 percent); robbery (34.40 percent); theft (36.90 percent); carnapping of motor vehicles (36.30 percent); and carnapping of motorcycles (26.61 percent).


“The significant 17.39 percent drop in crime incidents during the January-June period, and onwards until the end of September, is expected become the trend for the remaining months of the year when petty crimes are traditionally believed to peak in the holiday season. But contrary to this perception of a spike in crime during the “ber” months, we see a steady decline in all crime categories,” Albayalde stressed.


The PNP chief, however, stressed it is likely that violent crimes may spike leading to the election period in January next year. 

PAL goes maritime with Kalibo-Boracay ferry

Published in Travel

PASAY CITY – The Philippine Airlines (PAL) is venturing into maritime business, and will soon launch a ferry service between Kalibo and Boracay.


"This is the first time that PAL is venturing into maritime business," said Jaime Bautista, PAL president and chief operations officer. "We chose Boracay as the first destination because there are many tourists there, especially foreigners."


Bautista added that PAL chose Kalibo because of its international airport, where tourists from China, Japan, and Korea come and go, compared with the smaller Caticlan Airport.


Currently, PAL has two vessels – the MV Malambing and MV Magalang – and Bautista said the ferry service might be launched in December, according to a PNA report.


"Originally, we planned to launch the ferry service last April. But Boracay has been closed for rehabilitation for six months," he said.


The two catamarans, each with 410 seats, were customized for PAL.


"We already had these (catamarans) delivered to us back in April," Jose Perez de Tagle, vice president for Corporate Communications, said.


PAL executives, including its chairman, Lucio Tan, tested the two catamarans on Tuesday.


If PAL's ferry service would "click" with the public, PAL might add other routes for this.


"We will think about the next routes, if there would be any, depending on the demand. Probably we'd have the next route in Cebu," Bautista told the PNA.


It took about two years to plan the new offering, the executive added.


PAL's ferry basically looks and has the vibe of its aircraft.


Bautista said anyone, even passengers of other airlines, would be allowed to book the ferry service.


There's no price yet for the ferry service, de Tagle said, adding that PAL will announce this once the pricing had been finalized.

PHL, US resolve trade issues, eye stronger economic ties

Published in Business

WASHINGTON/MANILA – The Philippine and United States governments jointly announced that huge strides have been made towards resolving bilateral trade issues under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), saying that both parties are committed to enhance economic ties.


This was contained in a joint statement issued by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez.


Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez immediately welcomed the Joint Statement announcing the progress made in addressing and resolving issues under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

"This development is a manifestation of the strong economic partnership of our two countries," Romualdez said. 


"It stems from the discussions of President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump last November on how to further deepen our extensive economic relationship, including Philippine interest in a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States," he added.


In the joint statement, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recognized the Philippines’ adherence to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, ensuring WTO-consistent valuation on agricultural imports as well as the country’s commitment to fair trade by not launching policies that would restrict or prohibit the entry of US products to the Philippine market.


The USTR also noted that Philippine government’s effort to protect geographical indications (GI).


On the other hand, the Philippine government welcomed the resolution of the issues on market access for its agricultural products such as mango, young green coconuts, and carrageenan, as well as the inclusion of travel goods under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) granted by the US government to the Philippines.


Under the US GSP, some US$1.5 billion worth of Philippine exports to the US entered the market duty-free.


Moving forward, the two governments committed to strengthen bilateral economic relations.


“Both governments agree that enhanced bilateral engagement on trade under the TIFA should include work that yields benefits for agricultural producers, importers, exporters and consumers, and intend to work together in a number of areas,” the joint statement read.


Lighthizer and Lopez stated that the two countries will collaborate on the “development of cold chain requirements and best practices in the Philippines, taking into account international guidelines and codes of practice regarding food hygiene adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission”.


The trade officials said they will involve the private sector in improving the existing cold chain here, while the US government, subject to the availability of its resources, will provide technical assistance to enhance cold chain development and management in the Philippines.


“Both governments agree to continue technical dialogue and policy discussions on the National Retail Payments System (NRPS) and other measures related to electronic payment services, including domestic retail debit and credit electronic payment transactions,” noting the US government’s support to boost the e-commerce in the Philippines.


“Both governments agree to a continued dialogue on priority issues of interest to both countries, including for the Philippines, discussions on seeking relief from U.S. safeguard measures on solar cells and Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum,” it added.


The Philippines and the US likewise committed to collaborate for a work program under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US TIFA for automotive standard issues.


Meanwhile, during the visit of US President Donald Trump in Manila for the ASEAN Summit, he welcomed the suggestion of the DTI for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and the Philippines and considered to explore FTA discussions.


In a text message on Tuesday, Lopez said following his joint statement with the USTR that both governments are planning to launch scoping discussions for an FTA.


However, the USTR has to notify the US Congress before it starts any formal negotiations for a free trade deal with any country.


In 2016, two-way trade between the Philippines and US reached US$27 billion, making the US one of the top trade partners of the Philippines. 

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