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April 28, 2023

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April 28 ------ Japan formally decided Thursday to downgrade the legal status of the novel coronavirus to a level on par with seasonal influenza on May 8, paving the way for full normalization of social and economic activities.


The finalization of the schedule comes as the government mulls bringing forward the lifting of its remaining coronavirus border control measures by more than a week to midnight Friday, in anticipation of an increase in people traveling overseas and returning during the Golden Week holidays starting Saturday.


Under the current requirement, all entrants to the country must present certification of having received at least three COVID-19 vaccination doses or a negative result from a coronavirus test, taken within 72 hours of departure.Infectious disease experts at a health ministry panel gave the greenlight to the planned reclassification schedule based on the current coronavirus pandemic situation and the preparedness of the health care system for a resurgence across the country.The panel reported that around 8,400 medical institutions, comprising 90 percent of hospitals nationwide and clinics, are ready to take in up to 58,000 COVID-19 patients. Around 44,000 institutions will accept outpatients, up from 42,000 at present.


"Special measures that the government has been taking in response to the novel coronavirus will end on May 7," Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato told a press conference.


In Japan, COVID-19 is currently designated as a special category equivalent to or stricter than Class 2, which covers infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, under the law.The government has said it will reclassify COVID-19 to Class 5 diseases like seasonal influenza from May 8, meaning a state of emergency will no longer be issued when a resurgence of infection occurs.The government's covering of coronavirus-related medical charges for outpatient care and hospitalization will also end, except for expensive treatments.But some infectious disease experts are cautious about a rapid return to pre-pandemic norms, stressing the need for the elderly and others vulnerable to the coronavirus to continue wearing face masks in order to protect themselves.


"There is still a high risk if people start going out the way they did before the coronavirus pandemic," said Tetsuya Matsumoto, a professor of infectious diseases at the International University of Health and Welfare.


Earlier this month, a group of experts on the health ministry's advisory panel also warned that Japan could face a "ninth wave" of the coronavirus pandemic even more severe than the previous one, while the health minister noted a rise in cases of the new, contagious XBB.1.5 subvariant of the virus.During the last surge in infections, or the eighth wave, seen from late November to late January, over 7.5 million COVID-19 cases were reported, according to the health ministry.





China OKs bill to broaden scope of counterespionage law

BEIJING, April 28 ------ China's parliament adopted Wednesday a bill to revise its counterespionage law, broadening the scope of what constitutes spying activities, according to Chinese media, in a move that could increase restrictions for expatriates and foreign companies in the Communist-ruled country.


Currently, the law targets the guarding of state secrets, but the amendment will make it possible for Chinese authorities to crack down on stealing and disseminating "documents, data, materials and items related to national security and interests," the media reported.


The legislation, endorsed at the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, newly covers cyberattacks on state organizations and key infrastructure by "spying entities and their agents" as part of Beijing's efforts to bolster cybersecurity.


The move has raised fears among foreigners in China as the definition of national security remains unclear, allowing authorities to implement the law arbitrarily.In China, it is customary for allegations concerning national security not to be released and trials are closed to the public. Even after rulings are finalized, the details usually are not announced.The maximum punishment under the national security law is death.


In March, a senior employee of Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma Inc. was detained by China on suspicion of engaging in spying activities, but it remains unknown how he allegedly violated the law.The Japanese government has called for his immediate release. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Tuesday that Tokyo "closely monitors with great interest" any changes to China's counterespionage law.Since the counterespionage law came into force in China in 2014, 17 Japanese citizens have been detained for their alleged involvement in spying activities. Five of them are still being held, according to the Japanese government.




"Pain Points" for Female Seafarers ID’ed to Make Profession Inclusive

April 28 ------ A new study released by the Global Maritime Forum and the All Aboard Alliance looks at the challenges faced by female seafarers as it looks toward improving living and working conditions for women at sea. The report is the first effort which will be followed by a second phase later this year that seeks to test proposed solutions to impact the key pain points identified for female seafarers.


The All Aboard Alliance, which was formed in 2021 and currently involves 36 companies, seeks to make the career at sea not just more inclusive but also attractive to more women as seafarers going forward.  The efforts were launched in May 2022 when they brought together senior leaders from across the maritime industry as part of the effort to make the maritime world more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.


The qualitative study was based on 115 anonymous interviews with women seafarers from all ranks and geographies. They interviewed women ranging from captains to deckhands, with the majority (59 percent) with a rank of one stripe, with fewer women (17) being more senior officers, and a similar number (22) being able-bodied (no stripes) seafarers. They spoke with women on all types of ships and a total of 23 different nationalities. Approximately two-thirds of the women (63 percent) were from Asia (mainly the Philippines and India) while a quarter were from Europe.


The report breaks down the issues reported into four broad categories ranging from difficulties to succeed in the profession to employment challenges at sea, challenges of social relationships and interactions at sea, and the physical conditions onboard. They identified a total of 15 key pain points within the industry for female seafarers.


Male chauvinism continues to be prevalent in the industry where the organizers report only two percent of the total seafarer population is female. Respondents highlighted a feeling of being treated as “less competent,” being assigned different tasks based on gender and being denied access to training. Many of the women said they felt they needed to outperform male colleagues just to be perceived as competent. Some of the women reported that they are still finding companies that simply do not want to recruit women.


Onboard ships in addition to the ever-present fears of sexual abuse and harassment, women like their male counterparts reported power abuse by officers and people in supervisory positions. Women however also said they felt like they were being constantly judged and that it is an environment that breeds rumors and gossip. Women like men reported feelings is isolation and loneliness, although possibly made worse by the imbalance between the number of men versus women in the crew.


Finally, many ships remain poorly designed and outfitted for women. They spoke of a lack of changing rooms, bathrooms, laundry areas, and alike. Equipment they said is often designed for men with less access to appropriate and properly fitting PPE, boilersuits, fire suits, boot sizes, and alike. “We need to make life at sea more inclusive to women seafarers,” said Su Yin Anand, Head of Shipping at South32 and Co-Chair of the All Aboard Alliance while announcing the report’s findings. “But now that we have a better understanding of what the pain points are, we can work together to address them. We do not want them to leave their careers at sea because we need them – and we need many more.”


While the report covers a broad spectrum of issues and focuses on how they are impacting female seafarers, the sponsors note that many of the points also impact male seafarers. While less talked about, they said men also experience issues such as bullying and harassment, feelings of isolation, and the pain of long contracts which keep them away from families. “These issues must be addressed,” said Mikael Skov, Co-Chair of the All Aboard Alliance, and CEO of tanker operator Hafnia. “The maritime industry is changing rapidly, and more advanced skills are needed – ones which require us to holistically look at the full talent pipeline to identify the best candidates – for the maritime sector to thrive and grow.” He notes that Hafnia in 2022 launched its Maritime Culture Lab aboard four vessels with at least 50 percent women to learn about the nuances and impact of a more diverse crew.


The All Aboard Alliance report is the first coming out of the Diversity@Sea workstream, which also aims to explore how the maritime industry can collectively make a career at sea more diverse, inclusive, and attractive to a broader pool of talent. They note that the shipping industry has some of the lowest numbers of women in the workforce and that this is at a time when the industry is facing acute shortages of qualified seafarers. In the next phase of the project, a select group of vessels with higher-than-average numbers of women officers and crew onboard will be used to test potential solutions based on the finding from the interviews. They will look at how these recommendations impact the pain points and hope to develop a model that can be used broadly across the industry to make the seafarer profession more attractive to women.





137,500 cbm ISH FSU docks at Philippines LNG import terminal in ‘a historic moment’

April 28 ------ ISH, a 137,500 cbm floating storage unit (FSU), has arrived at Atlantic Gulf & Pacific’s (AG&P) Philippines LNG (PHLNG) import terminal in Batangas Bay, bringing affordable and clean LNG to the country for the first time. Chartered by AG&P for a 15-year period from ADNOC Logistics and Services (ADNOC L&S), the FSU docked at the PHLNG terminal in what was described as a historic moment in the Philippines.


The ISH FSU arrived after receiving commissioning cargo for the PHLNG terminal that was delivered in mid-April on board the 162,000 cbm LNG carrier Golar Glacier. This was the country’s first-ever LNG cargo and it was sent at the beginning of the month by Vitol Asia Pte Ltd from Das Island, UAE, supplied under a long-term contract by its partner ADNOC. The LNG will be initially used to power San Miguel’s 1,200MW gas-fired power plant to serve Luzon, the most populous region in the country.


In preparation for launching the first Philippines LNG import terminal, AG&P completed the conversion of the ISH, a 137,500 cbm LNG carrier, into an FSU in October last year. Supply, operations, and maintenance will be handled by ADNOC L&S, as part of its 15-year chartered agreement with AG&P. The FSU is part of the combined offshore-onshore import terminal that will have an initial capacity of 5 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG. The FSU will be capable of loading LNG at a peak rate of 10,000 cbm/hr and a discharge-to-shore peak rate of 8,000 cbm/hr made possible with the modifications done by Gas Entec in the cargo handling and safety system that allows for simultaneous loading and discharge of LNG.





Cargo Ship Arrives in Germany with Large Hole After Striking Wind Farm

April 28 ------ Germany’s water police are investigating what they believe may be the first case in which a working merchant ship underway struck a North Sea wind farm. The captain of the vessel according to the police has so far not explained how his vessel received a hole the “size of a barn door” forward on the starboard side of the ship. The general cargo ship Petra L. (1,685 dwt) is registered in Antigua and Barbuda for a German owner which is listed as MP Shipping of Hamburg in the Equasis database. The 39-year-old vessel departed Szczecin, Poland on April 22 loaded with 1,500 tons of gain bound for Antwerp. Three days later early on the morning of April 25, she arrived in Emden, Germany, and port authorities noticed the gaping hole and reported it to the police.


Media reports said the water police were initially investigating the incident on the theory that the vessel had hit a floating object. Police reports are saying that the hole measures approximately 10 feet by 16 feet (3 meters by 5 meters) penetrating the hull. They reported that there were three officers and three crewmembers working aboard the vessel. None of them were injured. German authorities made inquiries with the wind farm operators and said that Ørsted which operates the Gode Wind site approximately 25 miles off the German coast in the North Sea reported that its sensors at the wind farm had not detected any issues. However, on Wednesday morning a further survey of the wind farm, which has been operating since 2017 and consists of 97 turbines located in two sections, was undertaken by helicopter. Ørsted reportedly then confirmed to the German authorities that the visual survey detected “a small amount of damage,” in the field. The reports did not provide details.


A review of the vessel’s data and AIS position shows that it was miles off course according to the German authorities. They are speculating that the ship was on autopilot and for unknown reasons drifted or deviated from its course. The data is reported to show that the vessel also slowed speed dramatically before altering course. Weather conditions were good in the North Sea which they believe is why the vessel was able to proceed to port without reporting the incident. The Russian captain of the vessel is promising a full statement after speaking with lawyers. Currently, the German authorities are reporting that he is facing charges for failing to report a maritime accident. Additional charges could be added pending the outcome of the investigation.


They are citing this as the first instance of a vessel underway striking a wind farm. Three years ago, a support vessel servicing another wind farm in the North Sea struck one of the towers and injured three people aboard the vessel. In that instance, investigators blamed the captain for being distracted, not maintaining a proper lookout, and deviating from the normal course used while servicing the Riffgrund wind farm which is located approximately 28 miles from shore. Dutch authorities also reported an accident during a North Sea storm that caused a cargo ship at anchor to drift into an under-construction wind farm striking and damaging one of the foundations. An urgent salvage operation needed to be mounted to save the vessel before it drifted on shore during the storm.




NCR positivity rate rises to 12.3% - OCTA

MANILA, April 28 ----- The National Capital Region’s (NCR) positivity rate or the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 increased to 12.3 percent.


In the latest data from the OCTA Research Group released Wednesday, fellow Dr. Guido David said the figure is a 4.2-percent increase from last week’s 8.1 percent.“The country recorded 506 new cases, 0 deaths, 315 recoveries, and 4,446 active cases,” he said. These bring the overall tally to 4,090,215 cases, 66,444 deaths and 4,019,325 recoveries. Of the new cases, the NCR logged the most number with 197; Rizal with 35; and Laguna with 29.


Meanwhile, the nation’s positivity rate has reached 12.9 percent. Earlier, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the rise in the positivity rate is due to many factors, including the number of people taking the test for Covid-19 and the mobility of the population on holidays and other events.


She emphasized, however, that the positivity rate should not be the focus of the public as the only basis for determining the country’s Covid-19 situation. Vergeire also assured the public that the healthcare utilization rate for Covid-19 cases remains low and the healthcare system is prepared for the increase in infections





DOH denies return of mandatory masks in Metro Manila

MANILA, April 28 ----- The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday denied that Metro Manila would bring back the mandatory use of anti-COVID masks following an uptick in coronavirus infections.


The DOH said a viral social media post on the supposed return of the mask mandate was "false. "It also clarified that Metro Manila would remain under Alert Level 1, the lowest and most relaxed in the government's COVID-19 alert level system, until April 30.


This means restrictions in the area would "remain to be in the status quo," the DOH said in a statement. "The Department clarifies that the current Alert Level System is still being discussed through the IATF, and the DOH has previously recommended that these alert levels be similar to typhoon warnings and a guidance system in the future," it added.


The DOH earlier clarified an April 14 resolution made by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which listed 26 areas under Alert Level 2. The said areas were not escalated from Alert Level 1, as they have been under the second alert level since June last year.


"While these areas have reached low risk classifications for cases and utilization rates, these have vaccination rates lower than 70 percent of the target total and population," the DOH said in a statement last Sunday. "Also, no province or city has been escalated to alert level 2 from alert level 1 since January 2023," it added.





Maynilad extends water service interruptions in several areas

April 28 ----- Water service interruptions will continue for Maynilad customers until next month.


According to Oscar Oida’s “24 Oras” report on Wednesday, water service interruptions for Maynilad customers will range from eight to 21 hours a day until May 16. Among the affected cities are Parañaque, Pasay, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, and several areas in Cavite.


Maynilad said this is due to low water production caused by increased turbidity or sediment in the water from Laguna Lake.


“Dahil matagal din na-expose ang ating treatment plant sa high turbidity episode, nagkaroon ng leak sa ultrafiltration valve ng ating treatment plant sa south, so kailangan din namin ito ayusin agad bago lubusang maibalik ang full production capacity ng ating water treatment plant,” said Maynilad corporate communications head Jennifer Rufo.


Maynilad added that water tankers continue to make the rounds to supply water to customers. At least one customer is close to being fed up.


“Plano ko nga ibenta ito [bahay], lumipat ako sa basta may tubig e, ‘di bale lumayo rito, basta may tubig. 'Pag ‘di nagbago yan, sa taong ito ibebenta ko na,” said Las Piñas resident Rodrigo Santos.


Maynilad said that it will continue to work on ways to supply enough water to its customers.





Philippines evacuates over 400 Filipinos from Sudan

MANILA, Philippines, April 28 ----- The Philippines has so far evacuated 409 Filipinos safely from Sudan to Egypt as it takes advantage of the ceasefire there.


The Presidential Communications Office on Thursday said 335 overseas Filipino workers and their family members left Khartoum on Wednesday through Wadi Halfa Highway. Meanwhile, 35 OFWs and 15 students have also traveled to Egypt safely thanks to the Filipino community and the Department of Migrant Workers. The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said they were able to secure seven buses to help transport the Filipinos to the border to safety.


Philippine Ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago and Vice Consul Bojer Capati greeted the Filipinos who crossed over to Egypt. In an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo on Thursday morning, Tago said evacuees had to go through a long border procedure from getting a medical exam to processing visas and passports. Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople is also in Egypt to oversee welfare assistance. Filipinos will be given a $200 financial assistance and the DMW is working on job placements for displaced OFWs.Meanwhile, the DFA said it is still finalizing flight repatriation details for Filipinos who wish to go back home.


The DFA hoisted Alert Level 3 (voluntary repatriation evacuation) on Wednesday evening over Sudan due to the situation there.


“In this regard, the public is assured that the Philippine Embassy in Cairo is continuously monitoring the situation while providing repatriation assistance to Filipinos in Sudan,” the DFA said in a statement.





DOH launches children immunization campaign vs measles, rubella, polio

MANILA, April 28 ----- The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday launched the “Chikiting Ligtas” campaign to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against measles, rubella, and poliovirus.


The immunization drive, which aims to increase routine vaccine uptake among children below 5 years old, was launched in San Juan City and would last until the end of May. Confidence in childhood vaccines dropped up to 25 percent in the Philippines during the COVID-19, among the steepest declines from dozens of countries, the UNICEF warned this week.


According to DOH Assistant Secretary Beverly Lorraine Ho, 95 percent of Filipino children should get routine immunization this year to prevent outbreaks.Ho noted that routine vaccine coverage among children was already higher than 70 to 80 percent."The higher that we can get, that’s really the target," she added.


San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora received his 2nd COVID-19 booster shot at the same event to encourage people to also avail of the jab following an uptick in coronavirus infections. Ho meanwhile allayed concerns over the increase in COVID-19 cases, saying one shouldn't "worry as much" when they have a complete dose of coronavirus vaccines."Yung mga nagpabakuna or hindi updated ang boosters siguro sila ang mas dapat kabahan," she said. "Pero kung kumpleto ang bakuna niyo you don’t have to worry as much and you also need to make sure that you protect yourself lalo na ngayon alam ko yung ibang tao kapag may sipon sila hindi na sila masyadong nais-stay sa bahay, hindi na rin sila masyado nagma-mask. Kailangan gawin pa rin 'yun," the health official added.


In a statement, Sen. Nancy Binay urged the health department to boost its routine vaccine drive through information campaigns, saying there were many "underserved communities" in the immunization push. Improving the routine "patak" immunization coverage in barangays and schools could be a "critical step in reaching out to the unvaccinated and vulnerable young population," the lawmaker also said.





Six Philippine conglomerates, US firm propose P100-B NAIA upgrade

April 28 ----- A NEW CONSORTIUM composed of six of the country’s biggest conglomerates and US-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) submitted an unsolicited proposal to the government to upgrade the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).


The Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC) in a statement said the unsolicited proposal, valued at over P100 billion, includes a “significant upfront payment to the government and committed investments in new facilities and technology to turn the NAIA into a world-class airport.”


MIAC is composed of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Alliance Global – Infracorp Development, Inc., Filinvest Development Corp., JG Summit Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and GIP. GIP is described as one of the leading airport operators in the world.


“As the only large-scale operating gateway airport to the Philippines, the modernization and long-term sustainability of NAIA is a critical development priority for both the country’s public and private sectors. Recognizing the primacy of NAIA to the country’s economic growth, the consortium is bringing highly complementary expertise and making an unprecedented commitment to its sustainability and continued viability,” Kevin L. Tan, MIAC director and Alliance Global, Inc. chief executive officer (CEO), said in a statement. With its proposal, MIAC expects the NAIA will be able to serve up to 62.5 million passengers per annum by 2028. This would be more than double its current capacity of 31 million passengers per annum.


“We submit this proposal united in the belief that our gateway to the world needs to represent the best of who we are as Filipinos… The consortium is confident that with additional financial resources as well as operating process and technology improvements, NAIA can help achieve that vision,” Josephine Gotianun Yap, MIAC director and Filinvest Development Corp. president and CEO, said in the same statement.


The six conglomerates plus Metro Pacific Investments Corp., had previously submitted a P350-billion unsolicited proposal to rehabilitate the NAIA to the Duterte administration in 2018.At that time, Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. had also submitted a $3-billion proposal to upgrade the NAIA. Both proposals were rejected by the Duterte administration.





Labor Day job fairs offer over 76k vacancies —DOLE

April 28 ----- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Wednesday that more than 73,000 job openings will be up for grabs during the nationwide job fairs that will be held on May 1, Labor Day.


In a statement, the agency said an initial 73,779 jobs will be available during the event, which will be participated by 808 employers in 42 job fair sites across the country. Among the industries that will join are BPO, manufacturing, financial and insurance activities, manpower services, and sales and marketing.


According to DOLE, the top vacancies are for customer service representatives, production workers/operators, financial consultants, service crew, and sales agents or sales clerks.The main job fair site will be at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, where over 12,000 jobs will be offered by 125 employers on April 30.


Post-Labor Day job fairs will also be held at People’s Center, Balanga City, Bataan and Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium, Malolos City, Bulacan on May 3; and at the 3rd Level Alabang Public Market on May 5. DOLE said jobseekers should be ready with their application requirements such as resume or curriculum vitae, certificate of employment for those formerly employed, diploma, and transcript of records.


Below is the list of the other job fair sites:


National Capital Region – SM Grand Central (Caloocan City); QC Quadrangle (Quezon City); SM BF Parañaque (Parañaque City); SM Sucat (Parañaque City); SM Southmall (Las Piñas); Robinsons Place Las Piñas; Vista Mall Taguig; SM City Marikina (Marikina City); San Andres Gym (City of Manila)


Cordillera Administrative Region – SM Baguio; Baguio Convention Center


Ilocos Region – Provincial Livelihood Development Center, Vigan, Ilocos Sur; PESO Multipurpose Hall, Lingayen, Pangasinan; Orbos Gym, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan; Magic Mall, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan


Cagayan Valley Region – SM City Tuguegarao; Robinsons Place Santiago; Reina Mercedes Municipal Court, Mercedes, Isabela; Northstar Mall, Ilagan City, Isabela; Bambang Sports Complex, Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya


Central Luzon – SM City Marilao, Bulacan; SM City Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija; SM City Pampanga, City of San Fernando Pampanga; SM City Olongapo Central; SM City San Jose Del Monte


CALABARZON – Ynares Center, Antipolo City, Rizal


MIMAROPA – City Mall, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro


Bicol Region – Ayala Malls Legazpi


Western Visayas – Robinsons Iloilo


Central Visayas – Robinsons Galleria Cebu; Lamberto Macias Sports Complex, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental


Eastern Visayas – Tacloban Convention Center


Zamboanga Peninsula – KCC Mall de Zamboanga


Northern Mindanao – SM CDO Downtown Premier


Davao Region – SM City Davao; Provincial Capitol Gymnasium of Davao Oriental, Mati City, Davao Oriental


SOCCSKSARGEN – Kidapawan City Gymnasium, Kidapawan City


Caraga – Almont Inland Hotel, Butuan


Aside from the job fairs, DOLE earlier said it partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to spearhead the “Kadiwa ng Pangulo Para sa Manggagawa” to help workers access commodities at lower prices on Labor Day.The Kadiwa Center is a program of the DA which aims to provide the public with affordable goods by enabling the farming community to sell goods directly to consumers without the trader-intermediaries.


The DOLE will also lead the payout of assistance or salaries to beneficiaries of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES), and Government Internship Program (GIP) across the country on the event.





Customs eyes full digitalization by 2026

MANILA, April 28 ----- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday said it aimed to go full digital by 2026, with "almost 94 percent" of its systems computerized so far.


The agency's modernization project is ongoing with the help of an $88-million loan from the World Bank, said BOC Spokesperson Vincent Philip Maronilla.The loan seeks to "improve the country’s customs administration, reduce transaction costs and enhance predictability and transparency of the clearance process at the country’s borders," according to the BOC website.


"Itong 94 percent na na-digitalize natin will be further improved and will be further coordinated with all other agencies and will be at par with the other progressive customs administration sa ibang bansa once na makumpleto natin itong customs modernization project," Maronilla said.


The World Bank said the Philippines' growth potential, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was constrained by inefficiencies in trade facilitation and customs administration.It takes a container around 120 hours to clear customs and related procedures in the Philippines, far from Vietnam's 56 hours, Thailand's 50 hours and Malaysia's 36 hours, the bank said.


For its part, the Presidential Communications Office, citing President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., earlier said that businessmen had "major complaints" about the "inefficiency of the country’s airports and seaports." The current systems in place are "quite ineffective," said Marcos, given that paper trails have made it difficult to go after smugglers.





Daniel Padilla to star in dark thriller, buddy comedy

MANILA, April 28 ------ The Supremo is making a huge comeback on the big screen.


Kapamilya leading man Daniel Padilla is set to star in two new movies from ABS-CBN Films to finally end his film hiatus.


The announcement came a month after his girlfriend Kathryn Bernardo revealed her upcoming projects. Kathryn Bernardo announces 2 new movie projects. Just in time for his birthday, Padilla said he will be doing a buddy comedy and a dark-themed thriller that will redefine his image as a leading man.


“The beauty of DJ is ni-redefine niya who a true leading man is -- the definition of a leading man. Kami sa ABS-CBN Films, and the audience, we admire DJ because of his box-office and cinematic excellence. Kasi si DJ 'yung great combination nun e,” ABS-CBN Films head Kriz Gazmen said during the “New Media Alert” press conference.


Padilla assured that the upcoming projects are different from his previous characters. “It's been a while. Itong mga proyektong gagawin natin ngayon ay handpicked. Na-feel nila 'yung gusto kong gawin ngayon e. Now is the perfect time,” the ABS-CBN heartthrob said.


Padilla will be leading the psychological suspense-thriller movie “The Guest” which they described as mind-blowing.According to director Jerrold Tarog, the film features many twists and turns. “Kind of imagining it na nasa modern-themed war. Marami siyang twists and turns bilang nasa puso ko 'yung kadiliman. Medyo mindf**k na pelikula siya,” the director said.


Padilla will be working with award-winning actor John Arcilla in the Black Sheep movie, which also serves as the latter’s reunion film with Tarog after the hit biopic “Heneral Luna.” Padilla was also excited to share that he will be making a project based on a story written by National Artist for Film and Broadcast Ricky Lee. With his close friend Dan Villegas at the helm, the half of KathNiel is starring in the adaptation of “Nang Mapagod si Kamatayan” from Lee’s book “Kung Alam N’yo Lang.”


Unlike the other film, the second movie is a light-hearted comedy featuring Padilla and his best friend in real life Zanjoe Marudo. According to Padilla, the movie navigate the mysteries of life, love, friendship, and death. “Nandun 'yung comedy pero di siya slapstick na pagpapatawa. Nakakatawa ang buhay. Dun siya. 'Di siya slapstick,” he stressed.


Meanwhile, Padilla also confirmed that he and Bernardo will be finally pushing through with their film with director Cathy Garcia-Molina. And while he did not disclose any details, the actor said the project will be a gift to their fans, who have been clamoring to see them on big screen for several years already.


The real-life couple's last movie “The Hows of Us” became one of the highest-grossing Filipino films. “Galing kami ng serye pero it’s been a while na makita kami sa box-office ulit. Masyado nang nakaka-miss manood ng pelikula ulit. Hindi kasi natuloy 'yung huli naming gagawin,” he said. “Pero nag-evolve na siya into this, ito na. May mga rason 'yung mga bagay kaya 'di natutuloy. Alam ko na 'yung storyline. Ito literal na bago talaga 'yung gagawin namin. Medyo matrabaho pero very exciting.”





Gigi de Lana announces break from singing

MANILA, April 28 ------ OPM singer Gigi de Lana is taking a break from singing after she was diagnosed with nodules on her throat.


De Lana shared her medical condition as she asked audience to sing with her during an event on Wednesday night.


"Gusto ko sumabay kayo sa akin, kahit 'di niyo alam ang kanta, kahit kunwari lang. I just want to hear you sing, because I don't know if my voice will remain like this forever. Because I was diagnosed already sa throat ko," she told the crowd.


"So please pray for me. And now magre-rest ako for two months," she added.


According to a social media post shared by entertainment website PUSH, the singer will be taking a break after nodules were found on her throat.





Anne Curtis, Heart Evangelista reunite in New York

April 28 ------ Anne Curtis and Heart Evangelista reunited in New York to attend the reopening of the iconic Manhattan store of jeweler Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue.


The “It’s Showtime” host shared their photo on her Instagram Stories, where she and Evangelista were joined by the latter’s husband, Senator Chiz Escudero, and Tatler Philippines editor Anton San Diego.


“Team PH,” Curtis captioned their picture. “So happy have these guys to be with! It’s been a minute since I’ve been to something so special (like pre-mamahood) so having them has helped me get that social in me out and about again.”


Evangelista, for her part, shared a solo photo of Curtis from the event, as well her a series of her pictures with Escudero as they were strolling along the streets of New York.Tiffany reopens flagship New York store under French management. Evangelista and Curtis have been friends for years, and the first time they got to work with each other was in 2004 for the ABS-CBN series “Hiram.” That happened to be Evangelista’s first-ever teleserye with the Kapamilya network.


Heart Evangelista admits she misses acting.Since she started gaining more exposure in the fashion world, Evangelista said in a 2020 interview that she has decided to make the most out of it for the meantime.


Curtis, on the other hand, continued to pursue her acting career and remains visible onscreen up to this day.




Butler drops 42 as Heat rally again to win in OT, eliminate top-seeded Bucks

MILWAUKEE, April 28 ------ Jimmy Butler scored 42 points and the Miami Heat staged a second straight stunning fourth-quarter rally before winning 128-126 in overtime in Game 5 to complete an upset of the top-seeded Bucks in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.


Two nights after outscoring the Bucks 30-13 in the final six minutes of a 119-115 victory in Miami, the Heat produced another huge comeback and tied the game on Butler's layup with half a second left in regulation. Miami went on to become the sixth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed. The last time it happened was in 2012, when a Philadelphia 76ers team featuring current Bucks guard Jrue Holiday capitalized on Derrick Rose's knee injury to beat the top-seeded Chicago Bulls. The Heat advanced to a second-round series with the fifth-seeded New York Knicks, who completed their 4-1 series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier Wednesday. Game 1 is Sunday in New York.


Bam Adebayo put the Heat ahead for good by dunking in a putback of Butler's missed driving layup attempt with 4:44 left in overtime. The Bucks trailed 128-126 and had the ball in the closing seconds, but the clock ran out before Grayson Allen could take a shot as he drove to the basket. Adebayo had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Gabe Vincent added 22 points.


Giannis Antetokounmpo had 38 points and 20 rebounds for the Bucks, though he shot just 10 of 23 on free-throw attempts. Khris Middleton added 33 points. Milwaukee led 102-86 after three quarters but shot just 5 of 25 from the floor in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Heat tied the game on two occasions late in the fourth quarter before Middleton made two free throws to put Milwaukee back ahead with 27.8 seconds left. Then things really got interesting.


After calling a timeout, the Heat got the ball to Butler, whose 3-point attempt missed with 18 seconds left. Holiday made two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to make it a four-point game, but Vincent's 3-pointer cut the lead to one with 8.4 seconds left. The Bucks had the ball in the backcourt when Holiday threw an errant pass that eluded Middleton. Miami's Kyle Lowry initially was called for a foul as he chased the loose ball, but the Heat successfully challenged the call and it was ruled a jump ball. Brook Lopez tipped the ball to Antetokounmpo, whose pass nearly went out of bounds before Middleton saved it to Holiday. After getting fouled with 2.1 seconds left, Holiday missed his first free throw before sinking the second to make it 118-116.


After the Heat called timeout, Vincent stood in front of the Bucks bench and threw an inbounds pass to Butler, who was waiting under the basket to make the tying score.




Editor's note:

The current standings in the NBA Playoffs are as follows:



#1 Denver Nuggets vs #8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Denver wins series 4-1


#2 Memphis Grizzlies vs #7 Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles leads 3-2


#3 Sacramento Kings vs #6 Golden State Warriors

Golden State leads 3-2


#4 Phoenix Suns vs #5 Los Angeles Clippers

Phoenix wins series 4-1



#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs #8 Miami Heats

Miami wins series 4-1


#2 Boston Celtics vs #7 Atlanta Hawks

Boston leads 3-2


#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs #6 Brooklyn Nets

Philadelphia wins series 4-0


#4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #5 New York Knicks

New wins series 4-1



Mighty Incheon drafts Marck Espejo 3rd overall in Korean league draft

MANILA, Philippines, April 28 ------ The Incheon Korean Air Jumbos drafted Filipino volleyball superstar Marck Espejo third overall out of seven picks in the Korea Volleyball Federation (KOVO) Men’s Asian Quota draft.


Already the reigning three-time champions in the Korean V-League, the Air Jumbos are getting even more loaded with the addition of the 26-year-old phenom, who last led the Cignal HD Spikers to a conference sweep in the Spikers’ Turf back home in the Philippines. Espejo, already a well-traveled international import, had two stints in the Japan V. League with Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler from 2018-2019 and FC Tokyo from 2021-2022. The former five-time UAAP MVP also made pit stops in Thailand with Visakha and in Bahrain with Bani Jamra.


Three other Filipino standouts, however, were left undrafted, namely reigning Spikers’ Turf MVP Jau Umandal and Espejo’s Cignal teammates Manuel Sumanguid and JP Bugaoan. Aside from Espejo, Fil-Am middle blocker MJ Phillips of the Petro Gazz Angels was the only other Filipino selected in the pioneering KOVO Asian Quota drafts in the women’s division last week. Other local stars who tried their luck in the proceedings were multi-titled setter Jia de Guzman and former Thailand imports Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Mylene Paat.





Dirk Nowitzki in Manila for FIBA World Cup draw

April 28 ------ NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki has arrived in Manila ahead of the FIBA World Cup 2023 draw taking place at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday. The former Dallas Mavericks star, who led Germany to a bronze medal in 2002 Worlds, will join FIBA World Cup Global Ambassador Luis Scola of Argentina in the event.


Germany is included in Seed 3 together with Greece, Italy, and Brazil. They could be drawn in Groups A and C, which will be held in Manila. If they get drawn in Groups E and G, then they will play in Japan and Indonesia Arena, respectively.


Nowitzki won the 2011 NBA championship with the Mavericks and was also the league's 2007 MVP. He was also FIBA EuroBasket's 2005 MVP after he led Germany to a silver medal finish in the region.


He retired from competitive basketball in 2015. Nowitzki will join Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.





The No-Equipment Workout for Seafarers

Finding the time and space to exercise is sometimes difficult. For seafarers, strength-training resources may be limited, and while not having access to such equipment makes the process harder, it does not make it impossible. Crew members aboard cargo ships, oil rigs, and offshore platforms are no strangers to strenuous activity, as they live a very hands-on lifestyle as it is. For this reason, a body-weight circuit routine is the best possible selection for maintaining a strong body while also improving performance on the job.


Circuit training is an easy concept to understand. One cycle contains a sequence of exercises, each performed in succession with little rest in-between. Once all exercises have been performed, the cycle is repeated. There are many ways to organize such a workout — substituting movements and alternating repetitions — but it’s always a good idea to move back and forth between upper and lower body exercises. In doing so, you allow for certain areas of your body to rest without ever truly letting up. As a result, the workout becomes highly cardiovascular, meaning that it is useful for those targeting a low body fat percentage.


Circuit training is a great no-equipment workout choice for seafarers abroad. Body weight movements optimize functionality, which means that over time, workers will become particular nimble in the workplace. Depending on what equipment is available on the cargo ship, offshore platform, or oil rig, one can throw in a few extra exercises incorporating some form of resistance (i.e. a dumbbell, heavy box, steel rod, etc.). By chance, if there is somewhere one can do a pull-up, it would be the single best exercise to add to the workout routine.


The Workout Routine

Spend 45 seconds on each exercise, completing as many repetitions as possible. With the last 15 seconds of each minute, transition into the next exercise. Once 45 seconds becomes too easy, increase the difficulty by adding plyometric movements* — that is, jump squats, clap push-ups, etc. It is important to add variety to your workouts for optimal effect, so if there are any exercises you wish to change, do so accordingly. Keep in mind, however, balance between major muscle groups is very important, so do not favour a particular set of exercises.


1) Begin with a warm-up: jumping Jacks, running on the spot, shadow boxing (pick one at the beginning of each cycle)

2) Lunges

3) Push-ups

4) Mountain Climbers

5) Squats

6) Burpes

7) Leg Raises

8) Plank (side or front)


The Marine Approach

The marines take circuit training to a whole new level. The goal for a marine-styled circuit is to maximize your repetitions for pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. Cycle these three exercises until muscles are fatigued, incorporating other aerobic movements such as skipping, running, or biking. Maintain a ratio of one pull-up to two push-ups to three sit-ups. This will add muscle mass and strength, while also improving one’s cardiovascular endurance.




eBalitang Marino Daily News (eBMDM) is part of the Balitang Marino News Service provided by Global Process Manager Inc. for Filipino seafarers onboard Japanese owned vessels. eBMDM is managed and administered by Global Process Manager Inc. located at 17F Times Plaza, United Nations Avenue corner Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1000, Philippines with Telephone: (632) 7759-7105 to 07 Local 114 – Editor


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