Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Monday, July 25, 2022.

READ: Marcos to lay down food security plan

TO head off a looming agriculture and food crisis, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has ordered "strategic agriculture measures" implemented immediately. Marcos, who has assumed the reins of the Department of Agriculture (DA), is expected to lay out his food security strategy during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) today, July 25, Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez said. He said the President "is aware of the impending food price crisis and probably food supply crisis;" that is why he took over the DA. Press Secretary Rose Beatrix "Trixie" Cruz-Angeles acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, climate change, and oil price hikes are among the factors driving global food insecurity. Cruz-Angeles assured the public that the Marcos administration is ready to stabilize the food supply and improve food production.

READ: Security umbrella for SONA in place

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THE security preparations laid out by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. today, July 25, are in place. PNP Director for Operations Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon said on Sunday units from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) have secured strategic areas, mostly in Quezon City. Protest rallies are scheduled in several places as the President delivers his speech at the Batasang Pambansa.

READ: Oil depots in ecozones proposed

A FORMER director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) proposed the establishment of oil depots in the country's economic zones as a way of taming rising fuel prices. In a roundtable interview with The Manila Times

, Charito Plaza said establishing an oil depot in an economic zone is allowed under PEZA guidelines. She said PEZA is identifying islands in the country where it could set up oil depots and refineries that can be leased for free to locators in order to entice foreign companies to open up shop here. In exchange, locators will give priority to the Philippines' demands for oil and refined goods, Plaza said. According to the Department of Energy, petroleum companies have reduced the per-liter price of gasoline by P5, diesel by P2 and kerosene by 70 centavos as of July 19. Since the start of the year, however, there has been a P19.30 increase in the per-liter price of gasoline, P34.80 for diesel and P29.35 for kerosene. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) predicts the average price of crude oil to be around $106.30 per barrel this year, $95.30 in 2023 and $84.10 in 2024.

READ: Covid positivity 'very high' in 10 provinces

TEN provinces have logged a "very high" Covid-19 positivity rate of more than 20 percent as of July 22, according to OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David. Three provinces reported a positivity rate of more than 30 percent, David reported. Aklan had 32.6 percent; Capiz, 31.9 percent; and Nueva Ecija, 30.5 percent. Aklan's rate was 2.4 percent lower than the July 16 rate, while the rate rose by 16.5 percent in Capiz and by 9.5 percent in Nueva Ecija. The rate ranged from 22.2 percent to 27.8 percent in Antique, Cavite, Isabela, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal and Tarlac. In the National Capital Region, the positivity went up from 12.7 percent on July 16 to 14 percent on July 22.

READ: Need for technology-based education stressed

SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian agreed with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. that the main thrust of the country's basic education system must be to ramp up technology to make it at par with the rest of the world. In an interview with SMNI's "Business and Politics" host The Manila Times

Chairman Dante "Klink" Ang 2nd over the weekend, Gatchalian stressed the need to strengthen the students' learning foundations with the right tools fit for their chosen career paths. The second-term senator cited the "fundamental, foundational skills" of reading, reading comprehension and mathematics that can still be vastly improved to help learners "progress in the years to come." In a recent statement, Marcos said the Department of Education (DepEd) must address the lag in research and development in the fields of science and technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM. The President tasked Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, concurrently serving as DepEd chief, to look after the welfare of teachers, ensuring they receive fair pay, benefits, and be provided with adequate teaching equipment as well as skills training. Gatchalian said there are two key areas he as a legislator will pay close attention to: teacher education and teacher morale.

READ: Private sector to link big business to farmers

WITH President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. expected to highlight agriculture in his first State of The Nation Address (SONA) today, there is strong belief that small farmers will be given the chance to be part of a more inclusive agricultural ecosystem with the help of the private sector, Go Negosyo founder Jose Ma. "Joey" Concepcion 3rd said. Concepcion said that agriculture is "the key to the growth of the Philippines," adding that a healthy agriculture industry will enable the country to better handle food supply crisis, especially with the proactive participation of the private sector through the Kapatid Angat Lahat program, an initiative that aims to create linkages between big business and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to aid inclusive growth. The former presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and now vice chairman of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council bared that a meeting was held recently to explore inclusive solutions to the food security problem, where businessmen coming from different sectors shared possible ways in which big business can help MSMEs scale up and become more productive.

READ: Govt ready for monkeypox – DoH

THE Department of Health (DoH) assured the public that it has been preparing for the monkeypox virus since an uptick of cases was reported in other countries in May 2022. The department gave the assurance hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a "public health emergency of international concern." It said that interim technical guidelines for the implementation of monkeypox surveillance, screening, management and infection control were already approved, which includes case definitions and protocols as part of the country's response to the virus. The DoH also noted that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine optimized its Realtime PCR assay for detecting the monkeypox virus last June 20.

READ: Former mayor, 2 others die in Ateneo de Manila

THREE persons, including a former mayor in Basilan, died in a shooting incident at the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) in Quezon City on Sunday. Initial reports from the National Capital Regional Police Office said the victims were former Lamitan City mayor Rosita Furigay, her aide Victor George Capistrano and a security guard of the university. The former mayor was supposed to attend the graduation of her daughter Hanna Rose from law school. The event was canceled. A fourth victim was reported to be in critical condition. The police arrested the suspect, identified as Chao Tiao Yumol, 38, a resident of Lamitan City. Recovered from the scene was a caliber.45 pistol with silencer. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he was "shocked and saddened" by the killing.

BUSINESS: BIR pressed on tax collection

Topping business, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) have been instructed by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno to collect taxes efficiently and fairly. The Finance chief added that digitalization is essential for effective and fair revenue collection since it eliminates discretion. The Development Budget Coordination Committee said the government's revenue program for this year, which is P3.30 trillion, or 15.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, will be met through the continuous application of current tax law and administrative reforms, supported by strong economic growth. Diokno, for his part, believes that the BIR will achieve its revenue target for this year, even though it fell short of its goal for the first half of 2022.

SPORTS: Obiena jumps for historic podium finish

Over to sports, Filipino Olympian pole vaulter Ernest John "EJ" Obiena jumps for a historic podium finish in the World Athletics Championships final in Eugene, Oregon, USA. The meet is set on Monday at 8:25 a.m (Philippine time). Not a single Filipino vaulter in the past has reached the podium of the Worlds and Obiena will try to be the first to medal from the Philippines in a stacked field. Obiena, the Asian record holder of 5.93 meters, is competing against world No. 1 and reigning Olympic champ Swedish-American Armand Duplantis, world No. 2 American Christopher Nilsen, and world No. 3 and 2016 Olympic champion Brazilian Thiago Braz in the final.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino are today's front page columnists. Tiglao claims that former president Corazon Aquino told the United States for her predecessor, former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. to not return to Ilocos, while Fr. Aquino discusses the Novus Ordo Missae for Catholic masses.

Today's editorial believes the upcoming village elections in December must not be postponed. Read a full version on the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

SONA supplement

In anticipation of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos' first State of the Nation Address today, the reporters of The Manila Times have written reports over the President's plans and priorities for the country in his new administration. Read these stories on the paper's print, digital, and online editions.

Read a full version on the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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