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Philippine lawmaker proposes tax targeting tech giants to fund virus fight

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A Philippine lawmaker has introduced a bill in parliament, aimed at taxing big tech firms such as Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and YouTube, Netflix and Spotify, to raise funds to battle the coronavirus.

The bill looks to raise 29 billion pesos ($571 million) by imposing a value added tax on digital services provided in the Philippines, a key growth area for e-commerce transactions as its people are among the world’s heaviest users of social media.

“We spent to fight COVID-19 and we need more to continue fighting it and recover,’’ Congressman, Joey Salceda, the bill’s principal author, told Reuters.

“It sends a strong signal to the world that the Philippines is ready for the digital transformation.

“We are putting our taxation in order.’’

Starting next year, Salceda said, funds raised from new taxes would also be used to finance digital programmes such as a national broadband project and digital learning, to fill the education gap caused by school closures.

But it may take a while before the proposal is scheduled for debate, as lawmakers are busy deliberating on an economic stimulus package to jumpstart the Philippine economy, ravaged by pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Google, Netflix, and Spotify were not immediately available for comment.

Facebook declined to comment.

The Philippines has recorded 13,434 virus infections, including 846 deaths and 3,000 recoveries and has run nearly 208,000 tests among its population of more than 107 million.

Last week, neighbouring Indonesia announced plans for VAT of 10 per cent on digital products from July, to boost revenues amid the pandemic.

Southeast Asian regulators held talks last year on a region-wide effort to tax tech giants more.

($1=50.74 Philippine pesos)

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

Babatunde Abdulfatah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Online child sexual abuse in Philippines triple during COVID-19 lockdown

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The Philippine justice department on Monday reported a steep upswing in online child sexual abuse cases while the country was under lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Citing data by a private organization National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Cybercrime said 279,166 child sexual abuse cases have been reported from March 1 to May 24 this year, compared to 76,561 cases over the same period in 2019.

The cases of internet-based sexual exploitation of children this year was an increase of 264 percent, the DOJ added.

“The aforesaid increase is attributable to the fact that during the enhanced community quarantine, strict home quarantine is observed in all households, and internet usage surges as people stay home,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The Philippines has been under lockdown since mid-March due to the rise of COVID-19 cases.

The DOJ blamed the increase in online sexual abuse on the failure of internet service providers (ISPs) or telecommunication companies to remove access to forms of online sexual exploitation of children.

Philippine Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete stressed the need for internet service providers to install available technology, program, or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of any form of child pornography will be blocked or filtered.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 284 new COVID-19 cases, 14,319 in total

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The Philippines on Monday reported 284 new cases of the COVID-19, pushing the total number of the cases to 14,319 since the highly infectious disease emerged in the country in January.

The Department of Health (DOH) said in a daily bulletin that the number of recoveries now has climbed to 3,323 after 74 more patients have survived the disease. The total death toll has increased to 873 after 5 more patients succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.

According to the DOH, 171 cases or 60 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 70 cases or 25 percent in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines and 43 cases or 15 percent in other parts of the country.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 258 new coronavirus cases, total surging past 14,000

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The Philippines on Sunday reported 258 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the total number of cases to 14,035 since the outbreak in the country in January.

The Department of Health (DOH) said in a daily bulletin that the number of recoveries now has reached 3,249 after 72 more patients have recovered. The daily death toll also increased to 868 after five more deaths have been recorded, the DOH added.

According to the DOH, 195 cases or 75 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila while 51 cases or 20 percent were reported from other parts of the country. Twelve cases or 5 percent of the total daily cases were repatriated overseas Filipino workers, the DOH added.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 180 new coronavirus cases, tally reaches 13,777

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The Philippines on Saturday reported 180 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the total number of cases to 13,777, said the Department of Health (DOH).

The department said in its bulletin that the number of recoveries has climbed to 3,177 after 85 more patients recovered. The death toll increased to 863 after six more patients succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.

According to the DOH, 114 cases or 63 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, while 66 cases or 37 percent were reported from other parts of the country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Filipinos to be more patient and resilient as the country grapples with COVID-19 pandemic fallout, saying the end of the highly infectious disease “appears to be months and months away still.”

In the meantime, Duterte said the government is taking measures to alleviate the hardship brought about by the pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

5.4-magnitude earthquake hits Philippine main Luzon island

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An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 shook Philippines’ main island of Luzon on Saturday, the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) said.

The institute said the quake, which struck at 10:10 a.m. local time, hit about 16 km southwest of San Luis town in Aurora Province at a depth of 7 km.

Phivolcs initially reported that the earthquake was magnitude 5.1, but later upgraded it to magnitude 5.4 in an updated bulletin.

The institute said the tremor was also felt in Baler town and other in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Pangasinan and even in some cities in capital Manila.

The Philippines has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the “Pacific Ring of Fire.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Filipino artist works on improvised face mask in Manila, the Philippines

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Filipino artist Leeroy New works on an improvised face mask in his studio in Manila, the Philippines on May 22, 2020. Leeroy New uses recycled plastic bottles, cups, and shuttlecocks to create artistic COVID-19 face masks that he will also display in an online exhibit along with other visual artists to spread awareness and educate the public on the COVID-19 disease. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

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Foreign

179 students take part in “cyber-graduation” ceremony in Manila, the Philippines

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A school staff member prepares a robot during a “cyber-graduation” ceremony at a high school in Manila, the Philippines on May 22, 2020. Some 179 students took part in the “cyber-graduation” ceremony by means of robots and social media as the ban on mass gatherings is still implemented in the Philippines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 163 new COVID-19 cases, totalling 13,597

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The Philippine health department on Friday reported 163 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country 13,597.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 92 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 3,092. It added that 11 more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 857.

The DOH said 91 cases or 56 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 56 cases or 34 percent in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines and 16 cases or 10 percent were reported from other parts of the country.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 213 new COVID-19 cases, 13,434 in total

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The Philippine health department on Thursday reported that 213 more people have contracted the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 13,434.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 68 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 3,000. It added that four more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 846.

The DOH said 98 cases or 46 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 98 cases or 46 percent in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines and 17 cases or 8 percent were reported from other parts of the country.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Magnitude 5.0 earthquake hits southern Philippines

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An offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 shook Davao Occidental Province in the southern Philippines on Wednesday night, the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) said.

The institute said the offshore quake, which occurred at 8:45 p.m. local time, hit at a depth of 73 km, about 96 km southeast of Sarangani town.

The institute said the tremor was also felt in Glan town in Sarangani Province, General Santos City and Davao City.

It said the quake, which was tectonic in origin, will trigger aftershocks but will not cause damage.

The Philippines has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the quake-prone Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

5.0-magnitude quake hits off Sarangani, Philippines — USGS

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An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 jolted 72km ESE of Sarangani, the Philippines at 12:45 GMT on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 92.76 km, was initially determined to be at 5.2691 degrees north latitude and 126.106 degrees east longitude.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 279 new COVID-19 cases, total cases cross 13,000

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The Philippine health department on Wednesday reported that 279 more people have contracted the COVID-19, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 13,221.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 89 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,932. It added that five more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 842.

The DOH said 150 cases or 54 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 115 cases or 41 percent were reported from other parts of the country, and 14 cases or 5 percent in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines.

“We are doing everything to flatten the coronavirus curve so that we can further strengthen our health capacity,” Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a virtual senate hearing on Wednesday to assess the government’s response to combat the disease.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed anew to the people to heed the government’s call to stay at home and maintain physical distance even after the country eased some of the lockdown rules to allow some people to work.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Fisheries production in Philippines declines 3.2 pct in Q1

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Fisheries production in the Philippines declined 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, according to the data culled by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PSA data showed that fisheries production in January to March 2020 reached 980.73 thousand metric tons, lower by 3.2 percent from its 2019 same quarter production of 1,013.04 thousand metric tons.

“Volume of production declined in all the fisheries subsectors,” the PSA said.

The PSA said catch from commercial fisheries went down by 2.2 percent, decreasing from the 217.81 thousand metric tons production in the same period of 2019 to 213.11 thousand metric tons this quarter.

Production from commercial fisheries comprised 21.7 percent of the total fisheries production.

The PSA said municipal fisheries subsector reported a 3.4 percent decrease in production as catch from both marine and inland fishing dropped.

Moreover, the PSA said aquaculture production posted a slowdown of 3.5 percent during the quarter, dropping to 507.56 thousand metric tons compared with its previous year’s same quarter level of 526.05 thousand metric tons.

Produce from aquaculture constituted 51.8 percent of the total fisheries production during the reference period.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 224 new COVID-19 cases, nearly 13,000 in total

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The Philippine health department on Tuesday reported that 224 more people have contracted the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 12,942.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 114 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,843. It added that six more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 837.

The DOH said 174 cases, or 78 percent, of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 33 cases, or 15 percent, were reported from other parts of the country, and 17 cases, or 7 percent, in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Philippines releases more than 18,000 prisoners amid coronavirus outbreak – Supreme Court

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More than 18,000 prisoners have been released in the Philippines since mid-March as in efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among the prison population, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

“Court Administrator Jose Marquez confirms that 18,355 Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) have been released from March 17 to May 15, 2020.

“Also 795 videoconferencing hearings of cases of PDLs have been conducted from May 4 to 15, 2020,” the court’s press office tweeted.

Since coronavirus outbreaks often occur in overcrowded prisons, governments across the world began to release inmates to minimise the impact of the pandemic.

After months of enduring lockdown measures, the Philippine government started to ease the restrictions earlier in May, with many enterprises and businesses, including shopping malls, being allowed to reopen and stay-at-home orders in several regions of the country were withdrawn.

The Philippines has so far confirmed over 12,000 COVID-19 cases and 831 coronavirus-related deaths.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 205 new COVID-19 cases, total at 12,718

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The Philippine health department on Monday reported 205 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of coronavirus infections in the country to 12,718.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 94 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,729.

It said seven more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 831.

The DOH said 145 cases were reported in Metro Manila, 52 cases from other parts of the country, and eight cases in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Feature: Home-cooked meals warm hearts of Philippine health frontliners

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Four Chinese-Filipino siblings have been delivering free packs of home-cooked meals to nurses and other health workers for weeks at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 in the Philippine capital.

The siblings, aged from 13 to 19, said they thought of donating food parcels to express their gratitude to the doctors and nurses who cared for their 70-year-old grandmother, Teresita. She was diagnosed of coronavirus on March 28.

The siblings’ mother, Stella, said her children cooked meals for their sick grandmother while she was confined at the Metropolitan Medical Center in Manila City for 15 days. The family delivered home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner to her every day.

“My mother prefers home-cooked meals so we regularly send her food. But it has to be in plastic containers because you cannot bring home things from the hospital,” Stella told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

While delivering food to the elderly, she said the family also made sure to share bread and coffee with the nursing staff in the coronavirus ward.

Simone Alexa Sy, 13, said her family is grateful for the healthcare workers especially the team that took care of her grandmother. To Simone and her three siblings, the healthcare workers are heroes, she said.

“We want to give back to the people who helped our amah because during those times we had a hard time,” Sofia said.

The Metropolitan Medical Center and its staff are special to the Sy family, as it was the only hospital that admitted her coronavirus-positive grandmother after seven other hospitals turned them away due to lack of vacancy.

After their grandmother was discharged from the hospital on April 13, Simone and her siblings decided to “convert” the Sys kitchen into a production line for packed home-cooked meals for frontline medical workers.

To show their appreciation for the healthcare workers, Simone and her siblings decided to cook more meals for the healthcare workers not only in Metropolitan Medical Center but also to other hospitals and coronavirus facilities in Metro Manila.

Sophia cooks while Joff and Josh help prepare the ingredients and pack the ready-to-eat meals for distribution to the health workers in different hospitals.

Since April, the Sys have distributed nearly 8,000 food packs to around 15 hospitals and coronavirus facilities.

Their good deed has also garnered support from the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines.

Last week, the Chinese Embassy handed over 10 bags of rice, 100,000 pesos (roughly 2,000 U.S. dollars) cash, 400 pieces face masks and Ambassador Huang Xilian’s personal letter to the Sys to show his appreciation for their volunteering.

In his letter to the Sy siblings, Huang “expressed his appreciation for their spontaneous and warm-hearted actions to provide meals for the medical frontliners.”

Stella said the family will continue to do so to the frontline medical workers while classes are still suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown imposed since mid-March to stop the spread of the virus.

Asked what lessons she learned from the coronavirus crisis, Stella said, “It was a humbling experience. Coronavirus does not discriminate. It deepens your perspective on things.”

The Philippines now has 12,513 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 2,635 recoveries and 824 deaths.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Artists paint mural of “Darna” on building in Manila, the Philippines

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Artists paint a mural of “Darna”, a Filipino fictional superhero, dressed as a doctor on a building to express their gratitude to all COVID-19 frontliners in Manila, the Philippines on May 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

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Foreign

Philippines reports 208 new COVID-19 cases, 12,513 in total

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The Philippine health department reported on Sunday 208 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 12,513.

In a daily bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said 74 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,635. It said that seven more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 824.

The DOH said 174 cases or 83 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila, 33 cases or 16 percent were reported from other parts of the country, and one case or 1 percent in the Central Visayas region in the central Philippines.

(XINHUA)

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Philippines reports 214 new COVID-19 cases, total at 12,305

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The Philippines on Saturday reported that 214 more people have been stricken with the coronavirus disease, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 12,305.

The Department of Health (DOH) said in a bulletin that 101 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the number of recoveries to 2,561. It said that 11 more patients have died from the COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 817.

According to the DOH, 147 cases or 69 percent of the daily cases were reported in Metro Manila and 67 cases or 31 percent were reported from other parts of the country.

The Philippines on Saturday began scaling down its coronavirus restrictions after moving to a “modified” quarantine level that allows many industries, including malls, to operate to get the economy moving.

However, health authorities urged people to stay at home and avoid non-essential movement while the restrictions are eased. “Stay at home so we can stop and completely eradicate the spread of COVID-19,” the DOH said in an advisory, stressing the importance of physical distancing, wearing masks when outside and proper hygiene.

Provinces and cities with high rate virus transmission such as the capital Manila will be under strict “modified” lockdown measures until May 31.

Under the country’s “modified” coronavirus lockdown measures, residents are required to stay home aside from essential work, grocery shopping, and “limited” outdoor exercise near their homes.

The Philippines’ economic growth is projected to contract by 2.0 to 3.4 percent in 2020 due to COVID-19 that continues to ravage the country, the government said on Wednesday.

The National Economic and Development Authority estimates suggest that the potential impact of the pandemic on the economy could reach 2.0 trillion pesos (about 39.77 billion U.S. dollars) or about 9.4 percent of GDP this year.

(XINHUA)

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