COMELEC STARTS PRINTING BALLOTS FOR AUTOMATED ELECTION SYSTEM
MANILA — The printing of ballots for the automated election system that would be used in the May 9 national and local elections started Sunday, Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez said.
Jimenez said it began with ballots that would be used in the Bangsamoro region, particularly Lanao del Sur province.
"Printing of official ballots for the 2022 national and local elections began at [approximately] 11:27 a.m. today, 23 January 2022, at the National Printing Office," Jimenez said.
More than 2.5 million ballots will be printed for the Bangsamoro region, Jimenez said.
The poll body's spokesperson added that the Comelec also finished printing ballots for the manual local absentee voting (LAV) and overseas voting.
The commission started printing around 60,000 LAV ballots last Thursday.
The Comelec said 67,442,714 official ballots would be printed for the upcoming elections, of which more than 1,697,202 would be for overseas voters.
PRESIDENTIAL BETS ON COVID-19 RESPONSE: NO SENSE OF URGENCY, MASS VACCINATION NOT PRIORITIZED
MANILA — A presidential aspirant believes that the Philippine government should have done more in moving urgently against COVID-19 when it was not yet a pandemic, while another says the country should have focused on mass vaccination efforts to prevent repeated lockdowns.
"There are a lot of good things that the administration did to respond to the pandemic, but the main problem was that there was no sense of urgency. There are lots of problems that could have been prevented if the government acted faster," Vice President Leni Robredo said in Tagalog in an interview on "The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews."
According to her, the country did not act quickly when COVID-19 was still considered an epidemic in other countries.
"We already knew that we had to close our borders. But it seemed like it took such a long time to make that decision," Robredo said.
She is running as an independent candidate in this year's elections, along with her running mate Kiko Pangilinan, who is from the Liberal Party.
For Manny Pacquiao, the standard bearer of the Cebu-based Abag Promdi, the government should have prioritized mass vaccination efforts at the onset of the pandemic.
On the other hand, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said while it was hard to secure access to the life-saving vaccines, local government units were able to "deploy them immediately", citing the case of his city which has surpassed its vaccination target by more than double.
"There are many things that need to be adjusted- the distribution of cash assistance (ayuda) which should have been more efficient," he said.
Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said that the government should have ramped up its spending for cash subsidies, but this was hampered by the bureaucracy.
‘UNFORTUNATE’: GMA REACTS TO BONGBONG MARCOS’ ‘BIASED’ CLAIMS VS JESSICA SOHO
MANILA — Media giant GMA Network defended its veteran broadcaster Jessica Soho for allegedly being biased at her recent special "The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews."
In a press statement also sent to Philstar.com, GMA said it “takes exception” to the statement of the camp of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. that said that the reason he declined to participate in Soho’s interviews was because the broadcaster was supposedly biased against the Marcoses.
GMA stood by Soho’s decades-old reputation as a fair and responsible journalist.
“Throughout her career, Ms. Soho has consistently been named the most trusted media personality in the Philippines by both local and foreign organizations, a testament to her embodying the GMA News and Public Affairs ethos: ‘Walang Kinikilingan, Walang Pinoprotektahan, Serbisyong Totoo Lamang’,” GMA said.
“This same ethos has guided Ms. Soho and the whole GMA News and Public Affairs organization, which is the most trusted media organization in the Philippines, according to the University of Oxford/Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.”
The network said that while it was “unfortunate” that Marcos declined the invitation to participate in Soho’s interviews, the journalist was still able to achieve her goal to uncover the agendas of the other presidential aspirants.
OMICRON 'SUB-VARIANT' THROWS UP NEW VIRUS QUESTIONS
PARIS — Scientists are keeping a close watch on a recently-discovered sub-variant of the Omicron version of the Covid-19 virus to determine how its emergence could effect future pandemic spread.
The initial Omicron variant has become the dominant virus strain in recent months but British health authorities have notably identified hundreds of cases of the latest version, dubbed BA.2, while international data suggest it could spread relatively quickly.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) identified more than 400 cases in Britain in the first ten days of this month and has indicated the latest variant has been detected in some 40 other countries, accounting for a majority of most recent cases in some nations including India, Denmark and Sweden.
The UKHSA indicated Friday it had designated the BA.2 sub-lineage as a variant under investigation (VUI) as cases of it were on the increase even if, in Britain, the BA.1 lineage currently remains dominant.
The authority underlined that "there is still uncertainty around the significance of the changes to the viral genome," which required surveillance as, in parallel, cases in recent days showed a sharp rise in BA.2 incidence notably in India and Demark.
SENATE BILL PROMOTES 'RIGHT TO DISCONNECT,' SEEKS TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES' REST HOURS
MANILA - Employers who violate their employees' rest hours will be penalized under a proposed measure, a senator said Monday.
An employee is entitled P1,000 per hour if there's no overtime work arrangement and they are troubled outside of their work hours under the Senate Bill No. 2475 or "Workers' Rest Law," according to its author Senator Francis Tolentino.
"Given the pandemic... there is no clear demarcation now between your work hour and your own personal time, your family time and it has now reached a point where your work-life balance environment has been affected," he told ANC's Headstart.
"This bill will ensure that the employee will be more productive because it now recognizes that he has a right to attend to his family role...at the same time because the law will now recognize your right, you will now be more productive."
Tolentino said the right to disconnect will "help both the employee and employer" to make the former more productive.
"There are distractions in working from home that’s why we must give employees to really fill the demarcation between family life and work life. This will lead to more productive employees," he said.
"You don’t have to be inundated by calls, text messages coming from your employer in the middle of the night telling what is expected of you."
The senator said he also agrees with a 4-day work week.
"I proposed that years ago, a compressed workweek or flexischedule. It has to be agreed upon by employer-employee," he said.
DOCTOR HITS MOVE TO REDUCE QUARANTINE FOR INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS
MANILA – Now is not the right time to ease quarantine restrictions for international arrivals, a public health advocate said Monday, noting that the Philippines is still recording many new COVID-19 cases daily.
The health department on Saturday said it is looking into the possibility of easing quarantine restrictions for international arrivals, following the suggestion of President Rodrigo Duterte's economic adviser.
“I think it’s not timely at this point to loosen up the quarantine guidelines or protocol, because right now we are definitely in a surge and we are not yet out of the woods based on the data that we have recently,” Leachon said.
“So yesterday we had 29,000 new cases with a positivity rate of around 41.8 percent, and the testing are not yet adequate, and I think the cases that we have right now are underreported given the fact that maybe, the rapid antigen test are not actually incorporated into the data churned out by the Department of Health,” he added.
“Loosening up the guidelines [for] quarantine may be actually be counterintuitive, given that the (National Capital Region), though they have a decreasing in the growth rate, may actually flare up again in terms of the omicron cases,” Leachon explained.
He also noted that there seems to be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in areas surrounding NCR.
“So I think it’s counterintuitive that we loosen up the quarantine guidelines in the midst of a surge right now. And I don’t think we have reached the peak and there’s no sign right now of a downward trajectory in order to loosen up our guidelines,” he said.
LACSON: YOU CAN UPHOLD BOTH HUMAN RIGHTS, HUMAN LIVES AT THE SAME TIME
MANILA — Presidential candidate Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said on Saturday evening that there are many approaches where both human rights and human lives can be upheld.
The senator said this in response to a question about which was more important, following President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier remark that his concern is not human rights, but the lives of people amid cases of extrajudicial killings in his controversial war on drugs.
"When you say human rights, you're also talking about human lives... Maybe [Duterte] needs to expound more on what he's saying about individual human rights against the human lives of the majority of Filipinos.. I think he was referring to his fight against illegal drugs. The problem is, there are actually many approaches where both can be satisfied," Lacson said in Tagalog during an interview on "The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews."
"We need to weigh their importance, while not breaking the rule of law," he added.
Lacson, the principal sponsor of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020, assured the public that there are many safeguards in the law which will protect human rights.
"We're sure of it. It's guaranteed in the law. The law itself has several safeguards," he said.
MORENO ADMITS TO KEEPING P50 MILLION IN EXCESS CAMPAIGN FUNDS IN 2016
MANILA — Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno admitted to keeping some P50.8 million in leftover campaign funds from his failed Senate run in 2016, asserting that there should be no problem since these were campaign contributions from various donors.
At the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews aired over GMA News late Saturday evening, the Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer said the excess funds were aboveboard since he paid his taxes per the government's rules.
According to a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Isko asserted that he paid P9.7 million in taxes for an income worth P50.55 million when asked about the funds.
"I had to pay taxes since there was leftover from the campaign because that was pooled money from different people. I had to declare. So that's what I did," he said in Filipino.
Asked where the money is now, Moreno said flatly: "It's with me." It's part of his income now, he admitted.
But are there any potential violations there? "As long as you pay your taxes," he said, asserting that the money was now clean before the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
PHILIPPINES CONFIRMS ALMOST 30K NEW COVID CASES, TOTAL NOW OVER 3.4 MILLION
MANILA - The Philippines confirmed 29,828 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 3,417,216.
Just 3 days after breaching the 3.3 million mark, the country's tally of infections has surpassed 3.4 million.
The positivity rate was also at 41.8 percent, which was the lowest since Jan. 5 this year.
The Department of Health meanwhile also reported 36,763 new recoveries, pushing the total number of Filipinos who recovered from the disease to 3,090,164.
This means that the country has a total of 273,580 active cases as of 4 p.m. Sunday.
Sixty seven new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the country’s death toll from the disease to 53,472.
GORDON TO PUSH FOR COVID-19 SALIVA TESTING IN PROVINCES
MANILA — Philippine Red Cross Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said Sunday he would push for the use of COVID-19 saliva tests in the provinces.
During his appearance on Vice President Leni Robredo's radio show, Gordon, who is running for another Senate term in this year's elections, said he preferred saliva tests over the widely used antigen tests.
"Ang advise ko sa Department of Health (DOH), 'Mas maigi na gamitin ninyo ang saliva test,'" said Gordon, who is part of Robredo's senatorial slate.
Robredo, who is seeking the presidency, was not present in the program.
"Ang problema sa antigen... 'pag nag-positive ka, mayroon false positive, kung minsan nagfa-false negative," Gordon explained.
"Kaya mabuti na 'yong RT-PCR pero... mas mura 'di hamak ang saliva test. 'Yan ang itutulak ko sa mga probinsiya," he added.
The DOH has allowed the PRC to conduct saliva testing, which is priced at around P2,000 compared to RT-PCR tests that cost between P3,000 to P5,000.
FIGARO COFFEE DEBUTS ON PHILIPPINE STOCK EXCHANGE
MANILA - Figaro Coffee Group Inc on Monday officially listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange following a successful initial public offering (IPO).
The homegrown brand which has been in the market since 1993 will use the funds from its initial public offering (IPO) for store openings and commissary expansions, Figaro Coffee Group director and chairman Justin Liu said during the listing ceremony.
“As the nation arises with renewed strength and vigor from adversities, we at Figaro Coffee Group will continue to do what we do best, contribute to our economy, stakeholders and the country,” Lui said.
The company earlier said it would offer 1.26 billion primary shares and up to 126 million over-allotment shares.
PSE president Ramon Monzon said Figaro's listing, the second listing for the month of January, bodes well for the capital market.
MGA HEALTH WORKERS NA NAGKA-COVID SA OSPITAL NG IMUS, BALIK-TRABAHO NA
MANILA – Halos lahat ng mga healthworkers na tinamaan ng COVID-19 sa Ospital ng Imus ay nakabalik na sa trabaho, ayon sa isa sa kanilang mga opisyal.
“Nakabalik na po halos 80 percent to 90 percent ng mga empleaydo naming nag-positive,” kuwento ni Dr. Jennifer Roamar.
Ani Roamar, umabot ng halos 35 percent or nasa higit 130 sa kanilang mga empleyado ang nagkasakit ng COVID-19.
“Ngayon bumalik na, pinayagan na namin makabalik yung mga elective surgery namin atsaka yung mga OB patients namin, kasi nga, nag-OK na yung staffing ng ospital.”
Sabi ni Roamar, karamihan sa mga pasyenteng naka-admit sa kanilang ospital ay nagpapakita lamang ng moderate na sintomas.
“Meron din kaming isang severe tapos the rest is moderate, kasi yung severe, ito yung mga walang bakuna kasi na pasyente, pero karamihan naman moderate. Mabilis naman sila maka-recover.”
Payo ni Roamar, importante ang pagpapabakuna para hindi maging malala ang sintomas ng COVID sa isang pasyente.
“Halos lahat kasi sa Imus is vaccinated na. Na-reach na kasi namin yung 85-90% na vaccinated population tsaka may booster na rin.”
SHELL OFFICIALLY CHANGES NAME
MANILA — Shell officially changed its name on Friday, ditching “Royal Dutch,” which has been part of its identity since 1907, following plans to scrap its dual share structure and move its head office from the Netherlands to Britain.
“Shell announced the board’s decision to change its name to Shell plc on Dec. 20, 2021. This change has now taken effect,” Shell said in a filing.
The London and Amsterdam stock exchanges will reflect the name change on Jan. 25 while the New York Stock Exchange will follow on Jan. 31.
The change will not affect share ownership and the A shares and B shares will remain unchanged for the time being, Shell said.
2 NABBED FOR SELLING VAX CARDS
MANILA — Two persons were apprehended for allegedly selling fake vaccination cards in Marikina, the Eastern Police District said yesterday.
Rovelyn Lebores, 37, and Alma Ramirez, 43, were arrested on Friday at an internet café in Barangay Tumana after an informant complained about their scheme.
Police said they recovered at the scene a computer set and several copies of fake vaccination cards, which the suspects had been reportedly selling for P250 each.
Marikina police chief Col. Benliner Capili said they would track down other people faking vaccination cards as well as the buyers of these counterfeit documents.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
BOY ABUNDA IN 'NO HOLDS BARRED' INTERVIEW WITH BBM AFTER JESSICA SOHO NO-SHOW
MANILA — "Asia's King of Talk" Boy Abunda is making his TV comeback as he goes face-to-face with five of the country's presidential aspirants on "The Boy Abunda Talk Channel" on YouTube and Kapamilya Channel. The episodes are running from January 24 to 28.
"The 2022 Presidential One-On-One Interviews with Boy Abunda" is poised to "pick the minds" of the presidential bets on the most pressing and relevant issues affecting the nation today. Boy sits down one-on-one with each of the five leaders to get to know them and their platforms, in the hopes of guiding the Filipino voters in making the big decision of choosing the next president of the Philippines.
The series will include former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., whose episode is scheduled to run on January 25, Tuesday. This comes after the presidential candidate's controversial absence during GMA Network's "Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews." From Facebook and Youtube figures alone, the three-hour long "Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews" produced by GMA News was watched by over three million people.
The week-long special, presented by ABS-CBN and E.R.A., will also feature Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson (January 24, Monday), Vice President Leni Robredo (January 26, Wednesday), Manila Mayor Isko Moreno (January 27, Thursday), and Sen. Manny Pacquiao (January 28, Friday).
Boy's show promises "to grill" each of the five presidential candidates on "no-holds-barred" questions about their positions and perspectives on the various issues confronting the country today.
NBA SCORES JAN 22
1 2 3 4 T
Kings18-30 35 19 32 41 127
Bucks30-19 27 35 32 39 133
FISERV FORUM, MILWAUKEE, WI
H. Barnes SAC
29 PTS 6 REB 3 AST
K. Middleton MIL
34 PTS 6 REB 5 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Thunder14-32 22 23 23 19 87
Cavaliers28-19 24 23 31 16 94
ROCKET MORTGAGE FIELDHOUSE, CLEVELAND, OH
S. Gilgeous-Alexander OKC
29 PTS 9 REB 6 AST
D. Garland CLE
23 PTS 1 REB 11 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Pacers17-30 25 29 20 29 103
Suns36-9 24 35 33 21 113
FOOTPRINT CENTER, PHOENIX, AZ
C. Duarte IND
17 PTS 4 REB 4 AST
M. Bridges PHO
23 PTS 6 REB 4 AST
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Boredom is a vital problem of the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it. - Bertrand Russell