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Ex-Olympic runner Pistorius to be released from prison

MANILA, Philippines — Lalong bumagal ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin sa pagtatapos ng Disyembre — ang “pinakamababang inflation rate sa kabuuan ng taong 2023”, ayon sa Philippine Statistics Authority.

Bumaba kasi ito sa 3.9% nitong Disyembre 2023, mas mababa kumpara sa 4.1% nitong Nobyembre at malayong-malayo na rin sa 8.1% noong Disyembre 2022.

“The downtrend in the overall inflati on in December 2023 was primarily brought about by the lower year-on-year growth in the index of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels at 1.5 percent in December 2023 from 2.5 percent in the previous month,” wika ng PSA ngayong Biyernes.

“This w as followed by food and non-alcoholic beverages with 5.4 percent inflation during the month from 5.7 percent in November 2023.”

Pasok ang headline inflation noong nakaraang buwan sa 2-4% na target ng gobyerno.

Sa kab ila nito, nagpamalas ng mas mataas na taunang pagsipa ang sektor ng transportasyon sa 0.4%.

Pangunahing nag-amba g sa December 2023 overall inflation ang mga sumusunod:

“The Philippines’ annual average inflation rate for 2023 stood at 6.0 percent, which was higher than the 2022 annual average inflation rate of 5.8 percent,” dagdag pa ng PSA.

“Food inflation at the national level eased to 5.5 percent in December 2023 from 5.8 percent in the previous month. In December 2022, food inflation was higher at 10.6 percent.”

Ang pagbagal ng food inflation noong nakaraang buwan ay dulot diumano ng mas ma bilis na year-on-year decrease sa presyo ng gulay, tubers, plantains, cooking bananas at pulses sa 9.2%.

Una nang tinaya ng ilang ekonomista mula UK-based think tank Pantheon Macroeconomics na bababa patungong 4% ang inflation rate nitong Disyembre. Matatandaang nasa 3.6 hanggang 4.4% ang projected range ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Una nang sinabi ng Social Weather Stations na bumaba sa 16.9% ang kawalan ng trabaho mula sa 22.8% nitong Hunyo.

MANILA, Philippines — After power outages hit swaths of Western Visayas, House Speaker Martin Romualdez has proposed to park Maharlika funds into the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to prevent future blackouts and improve their operations.

Romualdez said on Friday that potential investments made by the Maharlika Investment Corporation — the governing body of the Marcos administration’s pet project — could help bankroll improvements to the power grid’s infrastructure and lead to “improved efficiency.”

Households and businesses in Panay Island were plunged into darkness right after the New Year festivities on January 2. Private firm NGCP — which is responsible for operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s state-owned power grid — attributed the outage to the tripping of multiple power plants, with the entire Negros-Panay grid eventually shutting down.

The NGCP has since taken the heat from lawmakers for the region-wide blackout, with Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, criticizing the grid for preventing a repeat of the April 2023 power outage that cut off households’ electricity amid the summer heat.

Philstar.com has reached out to the NGCP for comment and will update this story with their response.

The government of Iloilo City, which is in Panay Island, said on Thursday that the economic losses caused by the three-day power outage have been estimated at P1.5 billion. In all of Panay Island, at least 733 public schools have suspended classes due to the blackout.

Following the power outage, the NGCP said in a statement that there is a “need for improved planning to ensure sufficient generation per island, with a well-balanced mix of fuels and technology.”

Romualdez, who hails from Visayas, said that the Maharlika Investment Fund could provide the NGCP with “essential capital for infrastructure upgrades and help in lowering the cost of electricity for consumers.

“The involvement of the Maharlika Investment Corporation could be a significant step towards achieving a reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy infrastructure,” the House speaker added.

Romualdez also called on the NGCP and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to investigate the cause of the outage and address its root cause to ensure a stable power supply.

In July 2023, the ERC ordered the NGCP to explain the delays in some 37 electrification and power transmission projects across the country, with timelines being delayed by around 21 days to more than 2,500 days.

The NGCP’s response cited right-of-way issues and the COVID pandemic as the factors that caused project delays.

However, the power grid said that “access to funding was never a problem” but instead pointed to obstacles posed by external limitations, including regulatory caps on capital expenditures, protracted permitting processes and difficult rights of-way procurement, among others.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri — who said he was “incensed and dismayed by the persistent power outages” and said the situation was “no longer tolerable” — earlier suggested parking Maharlika money into the NGCP last year right after the fund was signed into law.

The Maharlika Investment Corporation held its first board meeting on Wednesday to discuss its fund capitalization and identify the potential sectors it can tap to achieve value creation. Among others, it cited the sectors of infrastructure; oil, gas, and power; agroforestry industrial urbanization and mineral processing.

— with reports by The STAR / Richmond Mercurio

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South Africa’s ex-Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius will be released from prison on parole Friday, almost 11 years after he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in a crime that gripped the world.

Having served more than half his sentence, the 37-year-old double-amputee will leave the Atteridgeville prison on the outskirts of the capital Pretoria.

The time and logistical details have not been disclosed by authorities, citing “security” reasons.

Pistorius, known worldwide as “Blade Runner” for his carbon-fiber prosthetics, will not be allowed to speak to the media as a condition of his parole.

Prison authorities have warned the press that there will be no opportunity to photograph him.

Pistorius killed Steenkamp, a model who was 29 years old at the time, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013, firing four times through the bathroom door of his ultra-secure Pretoria house.

The shooting came a year after Pistorius made history by being the first double-amputee to race at Olympic level when he appeared at the London 2012 games.

He was found guilty of murder and given a 13-year jail sentence in 2017 after a lengthy trial and several appeals.

He had pleaded not guilty and denied killing Steenkamp in a rage, saying he mistook her for a burglar.

Steenkamp’s mother has said she did not believe he had told the truth about what happened.

“My dear child screamed for her life loud enough for the neighbors to hear her. I do not know what gave rise to his choice to shoot through a closed door,” June Steenkamp had said in her submission to the parole board.

Offenders in South Africa are automatically eligible for parole consideration after serving half of their sentence.

Pistorius lost a first bid in March when the board found he had not completed the minimum detention period required to be let out.

The Constitutional Court in October ruled that was a mistake, paving the way for a November hearing that approved his release.

As part of his parole, until the end of his sentence in 2029, Pistorius must undergo therapy for anger and gender-based violence issues.

He will also be banned from consuming alcohol and other substances, required to complete community service and also be home at certain hours of the day.

While June Steenkamp did not oppose parole for Pistorius and was “satisfied” with the terms, she was not convinced he was fully rehabilitated, a family spokesman has said.

“Nobody can claim to have remorse if they’re not able to engage fully with the truth,” she said in a statement.

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