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Maintaining its high ranking in the annual Regional Competitiveness Summit since 2013, the City of Manila emerged as the country’s second most competitive city, Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada announced yesterday.
Estrada also announced the city took home the number one spot in government efficiency category, 2nd in infrastructure and 3rd in resiliency handed out by the public-private sector organization National Competitiveness Council (NCC) during the 5th Annual Regional Competitiveness Summit last Wednesday, August 16.
NCC’s Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index ranks cities, municipalities and provinces of the country according to their economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure.
For 2017, it added a “resiliency” component in the score card to make the rankings at par with those of other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“We are very proud and pleased that the City of Manila has been named again as one of the Philippines’ most competitive cities, and we’re number two,” Estrada said.
 “The accolades belong not to me but to every Manileno, every taxpayer, and every city government employee and official who cooperated and worked hard to transform our formerly bankrupt city to an economically progressive city today,” he added.
Next to Quezon City, the City of Manila placed 2nd in the overall most competitive cities award in the highly-urbanized cities (HUC) category, edging out Makati City, the so-called “financial capital” of the country.
Manila was 3rd in 2016, 1st place in 2015, 5th in 2014, and 8th in 2013, the first year of the Estrada administration.
When Estrada assumed office in 2013, the City of Manila had an unpaid debt of P5.5 billion left by the previous administration and was so cash-strapped it could not even pay its over P600 million unpaid electricity bills.
During the time of former Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila was a “bottom dweller” in the Most Competitive Cities competition, according to lawyer Fortune Mayuga, chief of the city’s Bureau of Permits (BP).
The Manila-BP was among the local offices cited by NCC for giving prompt, quality and effective frontline services to the city’s constituents.
“Back then, we were in the 20th plus rankings, but when Mayor Estrada stepped in in 2013, we’re always at the Top 10 and then recently, in Top 3,” Mayuga pointed out.
She said this demonstrates Estrada’s sound financial management skills and his untiring passion “to bring back Manila’s old glory.”
“With the way the City of Manila is being run now by Mayor Estrada, we are confident we could get the number one most competitive city award again next year,” Mayuga said.
After rescuing Manila from its economic downfall, Estrada, upon assuming his second term in office last year, has lined up more infrastructure and development projects worth billions of pesos which he has vowed to complete by 2019 to further cement Manila’s place in the ranks of highly competitive cities in the country.
Estrada’s 2016-2019 Comprehensive Development Plan is anchored on “ERAP-G Plan” that stands for Environment, Revival of City Landscape, Advancement of the local economy, Poverty alleviation, and Good Governance.
ERAP?G Plan is the blueprint of the Estrada administration’s focused and increased determination in working towards the “rebirth of Manila” and renewing old Manila’s glory and economic growth.      Pat C. Santos

Jerusalem, Undefined — Criticism grew Thursday over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s limited response to a US white supremacist rally and President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about it, with calls for him to speak out against anti-Semitism.
The issue highlighted Netanyahu’s reluctance to be seen as criticising Trump, who has expressed strong support for Israel and whose rise to the presidency was welcomed by the Israeli premier, some analysts said.
Netanyahu regularly speaks out against anti-Semitism in other countries, but the United States is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion per year in defence aid and important diplomatic backing.
Netanyahu had a testy relationship with Barack Obama, a Democrat who often pressured him over Israeli settlement building, but he has repeatedly praised Republican Trump.
So far, Netanyahu’s only response to the weekend white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that ended in bloodshed was a tweet on Tuesday that many saw as vague.
“Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred,” Netanyahu posted in English.
A Facebook post by Netanyahu’s son Yair further raised eyebrows.
He denounced “neo-Nazi scum,” but added that they were “dying out” and seemed to suggest left-wing counter-protesters “who hate my country” were a growing threat.
Criticism of Netanyahu among opposition politicians and others has grown louder over the last couple of days, particularly after Trump’s comments on Tuesday in which he said there was “blame on both sides.”
Perhaps the harshest criticism came from Shelly Yachimovich, a parliament member and former leader of the opposition Labour party.
“And you, the prime minister of the Jewish people in their land, the man who constantly warns us about a Holocaust, with excessive portions of fear and bombast and promises of ‘never again,’ what about you?” she wrote on Facebook.
“Was it too trivial, an anti-Semitic march in Charlottesville with Third Reich memorabilia?”
Former prime minister Ehud Barak, also from Labour, said “an Israeli leader should have said within six hours our position as Jews, as Israelis, as brothers of a large community, the American Jewish community, including in Charlottesville, who live under threat.”
‘Aren’t two sides’
Others issued more forceful denunciations of the rally than Netanyahu, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Opposition member Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, pointedly said in reference to Trump’s comments that “there aren’t two sides.”
Israeli papers devoted front-page coverage to Trump’s comments on Thursday, with top-selling paper Yedioth Ahronoth running a photo of him and the headline “shame.”
Some commentators however pointed out that freesheet Israel Hayom, owned by Netanyahu and Trump backer Sheldon Adelson, buried the story deep inside the paper.
A spokesman for Netanyahu declined to comment on Thursday.
After Netanyahu’s post on Tuesday, an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity that “the tweet is unequivocal and states his revulsion at the scenes of bigotry that the world has witnessed.”
But for some, it has not been nearly enough.
Gideon Rahat of the Israel Democracy Institute think tank said the Israeli government should be expected to respond to such events as a state founded as a “safe haven” for Jews.
“You know we always have the Holocaust on our minds, so you take this and you see that Jews are attacked somewhere,” Rahat said.
But he said of Netanyahu that “I think that his concerns are his relationship with Trump.”
For Abraham Diskin, an emeritus political science professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Netanyahu has no choice but to be “cautious.”
“You have to choose your fights,” he said.
“You cannot fight on every issue. You cannot clash with someone who is that important to Israel on issues like that.”
Whether Netanyahu could see a wider political backlash at home over the issue is an open question.
For Rahat, denunciation of such anti-Semitism is part of the “consensus” in Israel and opposition figures “can clearly use it against” Netanyahu.
Diskin said however that he believed most Israelis would not focus on the issue for long.
“Altogether, I think the vast majority of people will not remember the issue a week from now,” he said.                                   AFP

Lyceum tabs 8th straight triumph

Saturday, 19 August 2017 00:00 Published in Sports


Lyceum tabs 8th straight triumph

Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) leaned on Cameroonian Mike Nzeusseu’s fourth quarter heroics to overhaul a 17-point deficit and beat Letran, 75-68, yesterday, in the 93rd National Collegiate Athletics Association basketball tournament at the Filoil Arena in San Juan City.
The hard-earned triumph kept the Pirates' record clean after eight games to remain on top of the men's division.
The 6-6 Nzeusseu powered his way to 13 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks, the bulk of which came in the final canto against a depleted Letran frontcourt.
The Knights, who were already missing 6-6 Jeo Ambohot after he suffered a season-ending right wrist injury, compounded their inside woes with their back-up big men Daryl Pascual and Alex Mandreza fouling out in the fourth period.
“I kept challenging him (Nzeusseu) to play more aggressive because Letran is getting tired,” said LPU assistant coach Jeff Perlas, who temporarily took over the reins with head coach Topex Robinson serving a one-game suspension after he was ejected in a 97-93 win over Emilio Aguinaldo on August 10 at the EAC Gym.
 The Knights looked headed to dealing the Pirates their first ever loss when they erected to a 37-20 lead, their biggest of the game, early in the second quarter.
But LPU clawed its way back with Nzuesseu taking over and putting in a show in the fourth canto when he poured in eight points, 10 boards and two blocks.
“First of all, we wrote the word composure on the board and I kept reminding them of it and I’m happy the team showed it in the end,” said Perlas.
Earlier, San Sebastian survived the ejection of Michael Calisaan as it downed EAC, 75-73, to improve to a 4-4 (win-loss) slate.
Calisaan scored a team-high 19 points but he was thrown out after a second flagrant foul on EAC’s Sydney Onwubere with over a minute left in the third quarter.
Ryan Costelo stepped up in Calisaan’s absence and fired 10 of his 11 points in the final period.
Onwubere had 22 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five blocks but they were wasted as the Generals fell to their third straight defeat and fifth overall against three wins.
In juniors’ action, the Staglets defeated the Brigadiers, 97-77, and the Squires trounced the Junior Pirates, 93-87, to enhance their Final Four bid.



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