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Here are the top stories of The Manila Times for Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.

READ: Locate P100M fund for salt industry

AGRICULTURE Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban on Wednesday said that he ordered the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to locate the P100 million funding allocated last year to assist salt producers. During the "Laging Handa" briefing, Panganiban said BFAR failed to utilize the P100 million budget to help the dying salt industry. However, he cleared BFAR officials of any liability for their failure to develop the country's local salt production. At least 93 percent of the salt supply in the country is being outsourced as only 7 percent of the commodity is locally produced. Panganiban said that the funding can be used to provide financial assistance to small fisherfolk to return to salt production.

READ: NFA hikes buying price of palay

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THE National Food Authority (NFA) launched a program to increase the buying price of palay to P20 to P21 per kilo from the current P19 a kilo. NFA Administrator Judy Dansal said that the Palay Assistance Through Legislators and Local Government Units (Pallgu) seeks the assistance of legislators and local government units (LGUs). Under the program, the lawmakers and LGUs will provide counterpart funds to increase the buying price of palay in their respective areas. He added that the additional funding will not only help ordinary farmers but also improve the country's rice buffer stocks.

READ: PH pediatrician bags Ramon Magsaysay Award

A FILIPINO pediatrician has been named one of this year's Ramon Magsaysay awardees for creating safe spaces for abused children. Bernadette Madrid joined Cambodian psychiatrist and mental health advocate Sotheara Chim, Japanese ophthalmologist and humanitarian Tadashi Hattori, and French environmental activist Gary Bencheghib as this year's Ramon Magsaysay awardees. Madrid, 64, was given the award for "her admirable commitment in championing the rights of the most vulnerable and for her transformative work in integrating child protection into the health infrastructure in the Philippines."A live awarding ceremony was scheduled in Manila in November.

READ: Marcos to visit Indonesia, Singapore

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is in the thick of preparations for his first official visits to Indonesia and Singapore next week, Malacañang said on Wednesday. Press Secretary Rose Beatrix "Trixie" Cruz-Angeles said in a statement that the purpose of Marcos' trip is to strengthen the Philippines' relations with both countries. Marcos is set to visit Jakarta on September 4 to 6. From Indonesia, Marcos will fly to Singapore to meet President Halimah Yacob. He will return to Manila on September 7.

READ: Mikhail Gorbachev, last Soviet leader, passes away at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, who changed the course of history by triggering the demise of the Soviet Union and was one of the great figures of the 20th century, has died in Moscow aged 91. His death was announced on Tuesday by Russian news agencies, which said Gorbachev had died at a central hospital in Moscow "after a serious and long illness." Gorbachev, in power between 1985 and 1991, helped bring US-Soviet relations out of a deep freeze and was the last surviving Cold War leader. His life was one of the most influential of his times, and his reforms as Soviet leader transformed his country and allowed Eastern Europe to free itself from Soviet rule. The changes he set in motion saw him lionized in the West — he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 — but also earned him the scorn of many Russians who lamented the end of their country's role as a global superpower.

In Business

READ: Europe recession can affect PH markets

EUROPEAN Union recession fears will definitely have an impact on the Philippines as a whole and the local markets, according to expert analysts. Philstocks Financial Inc. senior research analyst Japhet Tantiangco and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said that a decline in the EU's economy has sparked concerns of a ripple effect across the globe, including the Philippines, in terms of exports and imports, investments and remittances. Regina Capital Development Corp. Managing Director Luis Limlingan added that the Philippines is not an isolated case, as all economies that are dependent on the importation of commodities for their energy requirements will be affected as the EU will all try to look for other crude sources while transitioning to alternative energy sources. Tantiangco also pointed out that based on economic data, Europe still plays an important part in the Philippines' foreign transactions as a decline in their economy is expected to have negative effects on the local economy.

Topping Sports

READ: Venus, Raducanu bow out in 1st round

Venus Williams bowed out in the first round of the US Open for the second consecutive appearance, losing 6-1, 7-6 (5) to Alison Van Uytvanck. This was the 23rd trip to Flushing Meadows for Venus, who made it to the final in 1997 as a teen then won the trophy in 2000 and 2001, and her record 91st time participating in a major tournament.Venus had never lost in the opening round at the US Open until 2020, then was absent last year. Emma Raducanu became only the third defending US Open champion to lose in the first round, eliminated by Alizé Cornet 6-3, 6-3. Raducanu was bothered by hand blisters — she took a medical timeout for treatment after the first set — and was outplayed by Cornet, a 32-year-old from France who also upset No. 1 Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon.

READ: Sky's the limit for Sotto – Clarkson

UTAH Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson said that "sky's the limit" for Kai Sotto as long as he continues to put in the works for his dream to play in the NBA, which has been derailed after not being picked in the 2022 NBA Rookie Draft last June. Clarkson, who played with Sotto in back-to-back games for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, said that the 20-year-old, 7-foot-3 Sotto should not give up. Sotto, who has received some nifty passes from Clarkson, averaged 13.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the two games.

READ: Opinion/Editorial

The Times Editorial this Thursday talks about why lifting the tax break is a bitter but necessary medicine. Read the full version on print, subscribe to its digital edition or listen to the Voice of the Times. Featured columnists in today's front page are Antonio Contreras, Yen Makabenta and Danton Remoto. Contreras comments on the ongoing investigation into the sugar import fiasco; Makabenta on turning the climate movement on its head; and Remoto on The Penguin Book of Migration Literature edited by Dohra Ahmad which he describes as the first anthology of its kind.

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This is Eireene Jairee Gomez reporting.