Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, August 4, 2022.

BANNER: Sugar retail price hits P100 a kilo

THE retail price of refined sugar in local markets has reached P100 a kilo, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday. Refined sugar is being sold for as high as P100 a kilo at Muñoz Market and Mega Q Mart in Quezon City, Pasay City Market in Pasay City, and Malabon Central Market in Malabon City, the DA said. In an interview with The Manila Times, Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista blamed the rise on the tight sugar supply. Evangelista confirmed the statement of Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica that the country's sugar supply will last only until August 19.

READ: P6.4M allocated to ease rice production costs

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AT least P6.4 million has been allocated to cushion rice production costs incurred by farmers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. Assistant Secretary for Operations Arnel de Mesa said at least P5.32 million worth of hybrid seeds and P1.11 million worth of certified seeds were distributed to farmers covered by the National Rice Program (NRP). De Mesa said that for this year's wet and dry cropping season, the DA aims to distribute quality inbred and hybrid seeds in 15 regions covering a total of 1.8 million hectares.

READ: Marcos: Ramos a symbol of stability

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Thursday paid his last respects to late president Fidel V. Ramos, describing him as a "symbol of stability." Accompanied by some members of his Cabinet, Marcos Jr. condoled with the family of Ramos during his visit at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City. Ramos was the second cousin of Marcos Jr.'s father, former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The President has declared July 31 to Aug. 9, 2022, as a period of national mourning for Ramos, who passed away last Sunday at the age of 94. On Wednesday, Press Secretary Rose Beatrix "Trixie" Cruz-Angeles said the late president will be accorded a state funeral with full military honors on August 9, and will be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

READ: Enforce new law vs abuse of kids - senator

SEN. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros pressed for the immediate implementation of the new law against online sexual abuse against children amid the proliferation of "exploitative materials" in social media. The senator on Thursday said that Republic Act 11930, or the "Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children" (OSAEC) Law lapsed into law on July 30. She noted more exploitative materials flourished online during the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. She deplored that due to technological advancement, child predators have come up with new ways on how to victimize children online.

READ: Farmers to Congress: Amend Rice Tariffication Law

THE Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) urged Congress to amend Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the "Rice Tariffication Law (RTL)," saying farmer incomes have dropped significantly since the law was passed in 2019 due to "excessive" rice imports alongside the rising cost of production. Former agriculture secretary and FFF National Chairman Leonardo Montemayor said that RTL's claimed benefits are overstated and deceptive. Montemayor added that when analyzed against prices in 2017, the average drop was only about half a peso for both regular milled rice (RMR) and well-milled rice.

BUSINESS: Investment opportunities in Israel

Topping business, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual said there are many investment opportunities for business partners in Israel. Speaking at the 26th general membership meeting of the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Pascual said that Israeli investors continue to find the Philippines a suitable destination for investments. He also mentioned that the opportunity for Israel and the Philippines to work together lies in DTI's strategic priority to reconfigure Philippine export sectors into industry clusters and position the manufacturing sector in areas where the Philippines has strategic advantages. Pascual said the IMT cluster provides the Philippines with upgrading opportunities in aerospace, automotive and semiconductors. Israel will be able to partner here to help expand and develop the IMT cluster. In the IMT cluster, it will provide the Philippines opportunities from the digitization of services. This refers to data centers, the BPO (business process outsourcing) sector, hyperscalers and other things related to digitization.

SPORTS: TNT, SMB gun for 2-0 series lead

Over to sports, defending champion TNT is regaining its championship form. So is San Miguel Beer, the winningest team in the PBA, which is looking to return to the championship round in three years. On Friday, the two powerhouse teams will try to move halfway to making their way back to the championship round when they take on separate rivals in Game 2 of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinals series. The Tropang Giga will face the Magnolia Timplados Hotshots in the main game at 6 p.m.TNT came out with more energy in the series opener, taking advantage of their fresh legs to outpace the worn down Hotshots, who were coming off a grueling three-game quarterfinals series, including an overtime encounter against the NLEX Road Warriors in Game 3. Against the Hotshots, the Tropang Giga led from start to finish, even padding their advantage to as high as 24 points, 84-60, late in the third period.The defensive-minded Hotshots had no answer to the explosive Mikey Williams, the reigning scoring champ, who knocked in 26 points, built around four triples.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Stephen CuUnjieng and Ruben Torres are today's front page columnists. CuUnjieng talks about population growth statistics, while Torres shares what it's like to serve as the executive secretary of the late former president Fidel Ramos.

Today's editorial tackles the recent issues surrounding Taiwan. Read a full version on the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

For more news and information, get a copy of The Manila Times on print, subscribe to its digital edition or log on to www.manilatimes.net. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and Keep Up With The Times.

This is EJ Gomez reporting.