Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Sunday, September 24, 2023.

Today's episode is brought to you by Wilcon Depot, The Philippines' leading home improvement and construction supplies retailer—your Trusted Building Partner.

READ: Bautista faces money laundering raps in US

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

The U.S. Justice Department has filed money-laundering charges against Andres Bautista, former chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), in a case involving four executives from subsidiaries of Smartmatic, the technology firm that provided the Philippines vote counting machinesThe report said Bautista had awarded Smartmatic a $199 million contract to supply 94,000 V.C.M's for the election won by Rodrigo Duterte. Smartmatic is also the voting machine company currently suing Fox News for defamation and has been implicated in an alleged Philippine bribery scheme, used for the presidential elections in 2016, according to court documents cited by C.N.N.

READ: Marcos mulls lower rice price cap as harvest season starts

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is considering lowering the rice price cap once the harvest season kicks in as increased supply will pull down the cost of the Filipino staple. Marcos, concurrent Agriculture chief, told reporters in Camarines Sur that market forces would be at work with the new rice harvests, and "we can reduce the price control we put in place." Asked, however, how rice prices could be reduced without affecting any sector, the President said it was "impossible."Marcos had approved a price cap on regular and well-milled rice to combat the rising prices, at 41 and 45 pesos per kilogram, respectively. The President said that the government's intervention against price hikes will eventually decrease the prices of basic goods. In a speech for a rice distribution program, Marcos said that the country has enough rice supplies, but existing problems were caused by lapses in distribution systems.

READ: PH, US, Japan boost security cooperation

THE Philippines, the United States and Japan will craft a "work plan" that would advance their trilateral cooperation, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday, as the three states explore ways to further promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko convened the second trilateral ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 23. Manalo, Blinken and former Japanese foreign minister Hayashi Yoshimasa convened the first Philippine-U.S.-Japan ministerial meeting in Jakarta in July.

READ: Taal vog subsides – Phivolcs

THE volcanic smog above Taal area has cleared, the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Saturday. Vog is composed of fine droplets mixed with volcanic gases, including sulfur dioxide from the Taal main crater. Exposure to vog can result in eyes, throat and respiratory tract irritation. Vog concentration is particularly high in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), especially near Taal Lake area due to the restive state of Taal Volcano since early September. On Thursday, the Phivolcs reported that it measured a total of 4,569 tons per day of volcanic sulfur dioxide emmission around Taal. However, in its of 5:30 a.m. bulletin on Saturday, it reported that this had decreased to 2,730 tons per day. The Phivolcs also clarified that what was observed in Metro Manila was smog not vog.

READ: Filipino boxers take center stage in Asian Games

FILIPINO Olympic boxers take center stage on the first official day of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday, September 24. Aira Villegas, Mark Fajardo and Marvin Nobel, as well as household names and Olympians Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial, wage war against their respective foes in an attempt to raise their chances of qualifying for the Paris Olympics next year. The Asian Games is one of the qualifiers for the boxing competitions in the Games next year.

SPORTS: Batang Gilas secures FIBA World Cup berth

In other sports news, Gilas Pilipinas under-16's took down Japan, 64- 59, in the FIBA Asia Cup quarterfinals in Doha, Qatar early Saturday, September 23 (Manila time), to advance to the semifinals of the tournament and to the FIBA World Cup U17 next year in Turkey. The Philippines arranged a semifinal clash against Australia on Sunday. Kiefer Alas shone once more as he fired 29 points, nine rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes of action to lead the Philippine youth squad. Rebounding from a rather subpar scoring effort against South Korea last timeout, Alas led Gilas' 21-point output in the third quarter where he poured 14 of his total points.

BUSINESS: Pag-IBIG members save P59.52 billion

Over to business, Pag-IBIG Fund reported that its members have collectively saved 59.52 billion pesos from January to August this year, growing 11.45 percent year on year and setting a new record for the highest amount saved by members within the given period. Pag-IBIG Fund Chief Executive Officer Marilene Acosta, meanwhile, noted that the growth in members' savings collected were seen in both the agency's mandatory Regular Savings and its voluntary MP2 Savings.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Marlen Ronquillo is today's front page columnist, as he talks about the Philippines' "love affair" with dams.

Today's editorial says the proposed excise tax on plastics should benefit river cleanups. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

For more news and information, read The Manila Times on print, subscribe to its digital edition or log on to Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn; and be part of our communities on Viber, Telegram, and Mastodon.