Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, March 3, 2023.

READ: PAO: Cebu student also died of hazing

THE death of John Matthew Salilig, a student of Adamson University, prompted the family of another hazing victim to come out and seek the help of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) to bring the perpetrators to justice. PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta presented the mother of Ronnel Baguio, who died at the age of 20 following a violent hazing allegedly conducted by the Tau Gamma Phi, the same fraternity that was reportedly behind the paddling to death of Salilig. Ronnel was a second-year student at the University of Cebu when he died. His mother Leny sought the help of PAO because of the alleged noncooperation of the school in the investigation of the case. Leny said that her only son, who took Marine Engineering, died on Dec. 19, 2022. Rueda-Acosta said the PAO is preparing criminal charges against Ronnel's instructor, Rogelson Getaruelas, who was said to have influenced him to join Tau Gamma Phi. The agency said the victim's phone showed text messages of Getaruelas about the initiation rites. The cellular phone used to take photos of the victim at the Cebu hospital was handed to the PAO. Rueda-Acosta said that the police and the University of Cebu have not been cooperative with the family of Baguio as indicated by their actions that resulted in the delay of the filing of the charges. Despite a request from the PAO regional office to attend to the plight of Baguio's family, the Cebu police reportedly declined to render assistance. PAO-Forensics Division director Dr. Erwin Erfe said that based on the police medico-legal report, Baguio's death was caused by acute kidney injury secondary to rhabdomyolysis secondary to blunt traumatic injuries to the lower extremities. Leny said she first asked help from the university but she was turned down because the hazing did not take place inside the campus. Rueda-Acosta said she instructed the agency's regional office to coordinate with the Cebu police to invite for investigation the victim's dormmates to shed light on the hazing incident, particularly the person who brought Baguio to the hospital. The leadership of Tau Gamma Phi on Thursday condemned the violent death of Salilig.

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READ: Transport strike to push through

MAR VALBUENA, leader of the Manibela transport group, said on Thursday that drivers and operators of traditional jeepneys and UV Express will push through with their strike to protest the government's PUV Modernization Program. The transport strike, with participants in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol Region, and Cagayan De Oro, will start on March 6 at 7 a.m. and will last until March 12. He said they will only call off the strike if the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will scrap its memorandum circular 2023-013, ordering all drivers and operators of traditional jeepneys to join cooperatives. He said failure to comply with the directive will result in the cancellation of the provisional authority that allows them to operate in their respective routes.

READ: Comelec suspends Tulfo's proclamation

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the proclamation of former Social Welfare and Development secretary Erwin Tulfo as next-in-line nominee of ACT-CIS party-list due to an unresolved disqualification case filed against him. Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia, in a letter to House Secretary-General Reginal Velasco dated March 1, 2023, said the suspension of proclamation is in line with the Commission's rule on the disqualification of party-list candidates. Garcia cited Rule 5, Section 8 of Comelec Resolution 9366, stating "if the evidence is strong, the proclamation of the nominee shall be suspended notwithstanding that fact that his group or organization received the winning number of votes in such election."

READ: Onions still overpriced – Sinag

FARMERS' group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) President Rosendo So on Thursday said that the red onions are still overpriced as the farmgate price of the bulbs further went down between P50 and P60 per kilo. In an interview with The Manila Times, So said that the prevailing price of onions should be at P100 per kilo. Based on the monitoring of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday in Metro Manila markets, local red onions were being sold as high as P180 per kilo. So urged the DA to address the overpricing.

READ: Govt crafting guidelines on joint maritime patrol

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine government is "in the process" of crafting guidelines for the conduct of combined maritime activities with the United States in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), including joint patrols. The MDB was established in 1958 while the SEB was set up in 2006. Former DFA secretary Albert del Rosario, in a statement, said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is "taking proper steps in defending the rights of the Philippines" in the WPS. Del Rosario said he welcomes the Marcos administration's move "allowing joint patrols with like-minded nations" in the WPS and establishing additional locations under the USPhilippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

REGIONS: Blaming MILF for crimes 'unfair'

THE chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) described as "unfair" perceptions that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is to blame for the alleged surge in criminality in the region. Ahod Ebrahim on Wednesday said cases of violence in the BARMM dropped after the national government and the MILF signed a peace deal in 2014. Himself an MILF leader, Ebrahim also said the organization remains committed to the peace agreement it signed with the national government, including the decommissioning of its combatants. He made the remarks after four of five BARMM provincial governors urged for the suspension of this year's barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) Elections or BSKE in the area pending completion of the decommissioning process.

BUSINESS: Producer prices ease for 4th straight month

Over to business, monetary tightening will slow growth but not significantly, Felipe Medalla, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) chief said, with the economy still likely to hit the government's target for this year. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth came in above target at 7.6 percent last year. The government expects an easing to 6.0 to 7.0 percent this year given the threat of a global recession. A number of analysts expect 2023 growth to hit the lower end or the midpoint of the target. Others like the IMF expect it to be in the 5 percent area. While the Washington-based multilateral currently expects the Philippines to grow by 5.0 percent this year, its resident representative told a forum organized by The Manila Times on Tuesday that this would be raised to 5.5 percent. Medalla, who briefed the House of Representatives' appropriations committee along with other economic managers, said the economy was strong enough to withstand the impact of higher interest rates. Demand had fueled the rise in prices, he added, thus the move to raise borrowing costs.

SPORTS: Tenorio to miss rest of season with injury

In sports, veteran guard LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra has been ruled out for the rest of the PBA Governors' Cup as he is set to undergo surgery on his nagging groin injury, which he sustained in the Finals of the recent Commissioner's Cup. The 38-year-old Tenorio missed last Wednesday's match when Barangay Ginebra hacked out a 112-107 win over long-time rival Meralco. His absence put his "Iron Man" streak officially to an end.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Francisco Tatad are today's front page columnists. Tiglao brands the current leadership of the Department of Foreign Affairs as inept, while Tatad weighs in on the recent meeting between President Marcos and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Today's editorial tackles the scourge of plastic pollution. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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For The Manila Times, this is Kim Isabelle Dignadice.