Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, January 26, 2024.

READ: UN rapporteur to get full govt support – DFA

THE Department of Foreign Affairs said that in the spirit of openness and cooperation, the government is giving its "full support" for the successful implementation of United Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan's mandate during her country visit. Khan arrived on January 22 for a 10-day official visit to examine the state of rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the country.

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READ: President, VP pay tribute to SAF 44

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte on Thursday paid tribute to the 44 police commandos from the Special Action Force (SAF) who were killed in combat against Islamist extremists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, nine years ago. The commandos were killed during a pre-dawn firefight in a remote village in Mamasapano on Jan. 25, 2015. They were able to kill Malaysian bomb maker and Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan. But the commandos were later ambushed by guerillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other private armed groups. On Feb. 21, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared January 25 of every year as the Day of National Remembrance for the Fallen 44.

READ: No more PUJ modernization deadline extension

TRANSPORT Secretary Jaime Bautista said on Thursday April 30 will be the final chance for jeepney drivers and operators to consolidate under the public utility vehicle modernization program. Following Bautista's recommendation, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday extended the franchise consolidation for another three months. Bautista said he made the recommendation after meeting with transport groups who did not make the December 31 deadline, but are still willing to go through with the consolidation process.

READ: China to listen only to Marcos – envoy

THE Chinese ambassador to Manila said China will rely on the position of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on how to handle the West Philippine Sea issue "instead of any [Filipino] officials." Ambassador Huang Xilian was asked by reporters to comment on the remarks of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro condemning the China Coast Guard's harassment of Filipino fishermen in the Scarborough Shoal.

READ: Marcos, Duterte vow PH education transformation

SAYING Filipino children should be "at the center of our great reform movement," President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday vowed to continue transforming the country's educational system "to ensure that no one is left behind." In his speech during the Basic Education Report 2024 by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, Marcos invited the Filipino people to join with the administration in transforming the country's education system as envisioned in the "Bagong Pilipinas (New Philippines)" campaign. The envisioned "Bagong Pilipinas," he said, will only be achieved if everyone continues transforming the education system for the sake of the Filipino children. In her report, Duterte cited the accomplishments of the Department of Education (DepEd) over the past year, highlighted by the launch of the Matatag curriculum, improvement of teachers' welfare, digitalization and construction of more classrooms and school buildings to address the growing number and needs of students. Duterte said the DepEd was now monitoring the pilot run of the Matatag curriculum from Kinder to Grade 10 to determine areas that may need improvements before its full implementation next school year.

BUSINESS: Hot money flows negative in 2023

Topping business, short-term foreign investments turned negative last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported on Thursday, reversing to a net outflow of $247.3 million from 2022's net inflow of $886.7 million. Total outflows amounted to $13.1 billion, a 14.6-percent increase from the previous year's $11.5 billion, while inflows totaled $12.9 billion, 4.4 percent up from the year-earlier P12.34 billion. The resulting net outflow in "hot money," as the investments are also called as these can be quickly taken in and out of the country, meant a missed B.S.P. forecast of $1 billion in net inflows for 2023. No reason was given for the reversal. Analysts sought for comment said investors likely parked their money in other countries where returns were higher or chose to be prudent with their investments. The central bank said that most of the outflows, or 95.1 percent, involved the repatriation of capital, with the remaining 4.9 percent comprising earnings remittances. The United States was the main destination of outflows, accounting for 63.6 percent of the total. Broken down, investments in listed shares resulted in a net outflow of $1 billion, reversing from 2022's net inflow of $179 million, while those for peso-denominated government securities were positive at a net inflow of $781 million — up from the previous year's $694 million.

SPORTS: Filipino surfer rules WSL La Union Intl Pro

Over to sports, Filipino surfer John Mark "Marama" Tokong did not disappoint the local fans as he emerged champion in the World Surfing League La Union International Pro men's shortboard competition at the Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan on Thursday, January 25. Tokong scored 8.50 points in Wave 1 and 9.40 in Wave 2 for a total of 17.90 points in defeating Swedish Kian Martin. Martin accumulated only 13.25 points in the final after scoring 5.25 in Wave 1 and 8.00 in Wave 2. With his conquest of the event, Tokong garnered 3,000 points to fortify his bid of advancing in the challenger series.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Francisco Tatad and Stephen CuUnjieng are today's front page columnists. Tatad asks if the country is under a constitutional crisis, while CuUnjieng analyzes the equity investments under the government's Maharlika Fund.

Today's editorial believes the country needs to prepare for the next pandemic right now. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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