US govt shutdown looms over funding impasse

September 30, 2023
WASHINGTON: A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dug in Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House Republicans' struggle to unite around an alternative.Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government's roughly 2 million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services.

But the House and Senate are pursuing different paths to avert those consequences even though time is running out before government funding expires after midnight on Saturday."I still got time. I've got time to do other things," McCarthy told reporters Thursday evening at the Capitol, adding, "At the end of the day, we'll get it all done."The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until November 17 as longer-term negotiations continue, while also providing $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for US disaster relief.The House, meanwhile, took up four of the dozen annual spending bills that fund federal agencies. Republicans were heartened as they passed three bills that would fund the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and State Department, though the fourth bill to fund federal agriculture programs failed.In one sign of deepening resistance to assisting Ukraine, more than half the House Republicans voted against providing Ukraine $300 million in military aid, though the money was approved on a bipartisan 311-117 vote.The House's movement on the appropriations legislation won't keep the government from shutting down, but leadership hoped the progress would cajole enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the US border with Mexico.It's a long shot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.Lawmakers, already weary from days of late-night negotiating, showed signs of strain at McCarthy's closed-door meeting with Republicans Thursday morning. It was marked by a tense exchange between the speaker and Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican-Florida, according to those in the room.Gaetz, who has taunted McCarthy for weeks with threats to oust him from his post, confronted the speaker about conservative online influencers being paid to post negative things about him. McCarthy shot back that he wouldn't waste his time on something like that, Gaetz told reporters as he exited the meeting.McCarthy's allies left the meeting fuming about Gaetz's tactics.With his majority splintering, McCarthy is scrambling to come up with a plan for preventing a shutdown and win Republican support. The speaker told Republicans he would reveal a Republican stopgap plan, known as a continuing resolution or CR, on Friday, according to those in the room, while also trying to force Senate Democrats into giving some concessions.But with time running out, many GOP lawmakers were either withholding support for a temporary measure until they had a chance to see it. Others are considering joining Democrats, without McCarthy's support, to bring forward a bill that would prevent a shutdown.With his ability to align his conference in doubt, McCarthy has little standing to negotiate with Senate Democrats. He has also attempted to draw President Joe Biden into negotiations, but the White House, so far, has shown no interest.Biden sought to apply more pressure on McCarthy, urging him to compromise with Democrats even though that could threaten his job."I think that the speaker is making a choice between his speakership and American interests," Biden said.Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Congress and the White House had already worked out top-line spending levels for next year with an agreement this summer that allowed the government to continue borrowing to pay its bills.But McCarthy was deviating from that deal and courting a shutdown by catering to Republicans who say it didn't do enough to cut spending, he said."By focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many, Speaker McCarthy has made a shutdown far more likely," Schumer said.McCarthy insisted in a CNBC interview that the House will have its say. "Will I accept and surrender to what the Senate decides? The answer is no, we're our own body."But later at the Capitol, he openly complained about the difficulty he is having herding Republican lawmakers."Members say they only want to vote for individual bills, but they hold me up all summer and won't let me bring individual bills up. Then they say they won't vote for a stopgap measure that keeps government open," McCarthy told reporters."So I don't know, where do you go in that scenario?"The speaker also hinted he has a backup plan but gave no indication he was ready to work with Democrats to pass something in the House.Meanwhile, the White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, notified staff on Thursday to prepare for a shutdown, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.Employees who are furloughed would have four hours on Monday to prepare their offices for the shutdown.The White House plans to keep on all commissioned officers. That includes Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior-level personnel, by declaring them "excepted" during a shutdown, according to the White House email.Military troops and federal workers, including law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration officers, will also report to work because they are essential to protecting life and property. They would miss paychecks if the shutdown lasts beyond October 13, the next scheduled payday, though they are slated to receive backpay once any shutdown ends.Social Security payments for seniors, Medicare and Medicaid payments to health care providers, and disability payments to veterans will continue, as much of the government will continue to function.

LTFRB continues to hear fare increase petitions

September 30, 2023
THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said on Friday that it will continue its hearing on Tuesday on the proposals of several transport groups to increase fare rates and provide a provisional fare increase for public utility jeepneys.A series of hearings is being conducted by the LTFRB after receiving several petitions filed by various transport groups to raise fares for traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJ) and modern public utility jeepneys (MPUJ) due to the continuous rise in the prices of petroleum products.In last Thursday's hearing, the LTFRB directed the General Manila and Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide Inc. (Pasang Masda), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Altodap) and Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO) to submit their supplemental petitions within five days to finalize their proposals.

LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Teofilo Guadiz 3rdThis decision came after clarification from LTFRB Chairman Atty. Teofilo Guadiz 3rd, Board Member Engr. Riza Marie Paches, and Board Member Atty. Mercy Jane Paras-Leynes regarding the request of these groups for a P5 fare increase for the first 4 kilometers and a P1 provisional fare increase specifically for TPUJs in the National Capital Region (NCR).According to Guadiz, these groups need to submit their final petitions to specify the type of public vehicles and areas where they want the fare increase to apply.Also, the LTFRB needed to gather input from commuters and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to make a final decision, he said."We will wait for the documents or supplemental petitions from the petitioners, as well as the comments from NEDA. After they submit these for the scheduled hearing on October 3, the LTFRB Board may issue a decision," Guadiz stated.Likewise, the agency examined the petition of Angat Tsuper Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator ng Pilipinas Genuine Organization (STOP & GO) Inc. and Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (Fejodap) for a P2 fare increase for TPUJs nationwide.While reviewing the petitions, the LTFRB clarified whether transport groups have plans to merge their proposals to expedite the agency's decision.But, the groups insisted that they have different fare rate increases submitted for approval. Thus, the LTFRB will continue to await the final petitions from transport groups.

AFP: Advancing peace every citizen’s duty

September 30, 2023
THE military as well as the international and domestic stakeholders have acknowledged the role and commitment of the citizenry in peace-building, and resolved to sustain the dividends of peace that the country is now enjoying after decades of conflict.This recognition, and a renewed push to advance the gains of peace were part of the consensus points during the National Peace Conscious Month, a peace symposium facilitated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Peace and Development Office (AFPPDO) in Camp Aguinaldo Thursday."We gather here to explore the intricate nature of peace-building in a rapidly changing world. Let us embrace this opportunity to further enhance our knowledge, strengthen our partnerships, and reaffirm our commitment to a more peaceful and secure world," said guest and speaker, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, Secretary Antonio Ernesto Lagameo Jr. during the event.In 2004, September was declared National Peace Consciousness Month under Presidential Proclamation Number 675. The Peace Symposium is annually organized by the AFPPDO, which serves as an avenue to promote the significance of the government's all-encompassing peace process and initiatives.

The Deputy Chief of Staff, AFP, LtGen Charlton Sean Gaerlan delivers the AFP Chief's message during the Peace Symposium 2023 in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. (Photo by PO3 Viluan Ret/PAOAFP)Focusing on the theme "The Synergy of Peace-building Actors in Sustaining the Gains of Peace," Lagdameo reminded the guests of the importance of fostering inclusivity in peace building and empowering communities to take an active role in the process.Speakers during the symposium discussed the topic on practices in peace processes in Southeast Asia that provided an understanding of peace-building actors in conflict resolution and promoting peace."The AFP Peace and Development Office has taken a pivotal role in orchestrating this Peace Symposium 2023, which serves as a testament to our relentless pursuit of peace, a journey that we undertake hand in hand with local and international stakeholders who share our vision and dedication," said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., in his prepared remarks delivered by AFP's Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Charlton Sean Garland.

Group hails labor council law

September 30, 2023
THE Federation of Free Workers (FFW) has welcomed the signing of the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act, saying that the inter-agency council being formed under the new law is a good start.Speaking at a recorded video interview with The Manila Times, FFW president Sonny Matula, who supported the bill then known as Senate Bill 2035, welcomes the new law that includes workers and employers in labor planning processes."It's good that the Trabaho Para sa Bayan has a council, which includes the workers and employers' group in the process of planning," he said. "For us, no matter how good the government's plans are, if the sector concerned is not participating, they won't understand the plans.""This Trabaho Para sa Bayan Inter-Agency Council, which includes not only Cabinet secretaries, but also workers and employers' representatives, for us, is a good start for a good plan," Matula pointed out.Also, the labor leader said that the council may not answer all the workers' questions on wages, but expects that they can find solutions to their everyday problems and that wages should be thoroughly discussed, particularly the family living wage."On the discussion on wages, of course, with the budgeting of the country's funds, for us, this should be a big part of the discussion," Matula said. "If we are part of this plan, we will push for a family living wage, where a worker's wages could feed his family."For the FFW, unemployment is caused by a lack of planning and priorities on the part of the country's industries.

Vehicle ‘pass-through fees’ suspended

September 30, 2023
TO ensure the efficient movement of goods across regions, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. suspended the collection of the "pass-through fees" among local government units (LGUs) for any vehicles that are transporting any goods, Malacañang announced Friday.The President, through Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, signed on September 25 Executive Order (EO) 41, prohibiting all LGUs from collecting toll and charges to all motor vehicles transporting goods or merchandise while passing through any national road and other roads not constructed and funded by them."In the interest of public welfare, all LGUs are further strongly urged to suspend or discontinue the collection of fees such as, but not limited to, sticker fees, discharging fees, delivery fees, market fees, toll fees, entry fees, or Mayor's Permit fees, that are imposed upon all motor vehicles transporting goods and passing through any local public roads constructed and funded by said LGUs," the President said in his order."The unauthorized imposition of pass-through fees has a significant impact on transportation and logistics costs, which are often passed on to consumers, who ultimately bear the burden of paying for the increase in prices of goods and commodities," he added.The President also said that reducing transport and logistics costs is one of the pillars of the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the administration."In order to uphold the welfare and advance the best interest of the Filipino people, it is the overarching policy of the Administration to consolidate all essential components within the value and supply chain, and reduce the costs of food logistics, which play a pivotal role in effectively tempering the inflation rate in the country," Marcos said."Building a robust and collaborative partnership between the National Government and LGUs is essential in effectively addressing the impacts of inflation and promoting economic prosperity across all regions," he added.To effectively implement the EO, the President directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to secure copies of existing ordinances of all LGUs on the collection of pass-through fees imposed on motor vehicles, including those issued pursuant to Section 153 and 155 of Republic Act (RA) 7160, also known as the "Local Government Code of 1991," within 30 days from the effectivity of the EO.The EO, which was released to the public on Friday, will take effect immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.The Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Anti-Red Tape Authority, and the Department of Finance will evaluate the ordinances secured by the DILG to ensure its compliance with RA 7160.Failure to comply with the directives is subject to administrative and disciplinary sanctions against erring public officials or employees.Within 30 days from the effectivity of the EO, the same group of agencies is also tasked to formulate and issue guidelines necessary, or amend or consolidate existing rules, regulations, or issuances as may be appropriate for the effective implementation of the order.

HUAWEI WATCH GT 4: The Epitome of Fashion-Forward Smartwatch is Coming to the Philippines this October!

September 29, 2023
Huawei recently announced Fashion Forward, a new vision for their wearable products, taking their upcoming launches in a style-focused direction. Huawei’s new Fashion Forward manifesto signals that the brand is now taking on these gaps in the market, weaving in fashion and design into its R&D process that has already achieved breakthroughs in Health and [...]
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CIMB extends high interest, no cap promo until end-October

September 29, 2023
Leading digital-only commercial bank CIMB Bank Philippines announces the further extension of its high interest offers with no cap until end of October, allowing customers to deposit as much as they want with no limit on the interest-earning amount. The bank is extending the extremely successful promo after seeing its monthly growth double in the [...]
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Paolo Contis clarifies rumors of cost-cutting and host rotation on ‘Eat Bulaga’

September 29, 2023
Paolo Contis has taken the opportunity to debunk rumors surrounding the popular noontime show ‘Eat Bulaga.’ The show, produced by TAPE, Inc. and aired on GMA Network, has faced speculation regarding cost-cutting measures and host rotation. In a conversation with Jun Lalin of Abante, Paolo Contis set the record straight. He firmly stated that the [...]
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Alibaba Cloud Launches Sustainability Web Application and Virtual Sign Language Interpreter for The Hangzhou Asian Games

September 29, 2023
In an effort to promote the sustainability and inclusiveness of the Asian Games and the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, has launched a sustainability web application for athletes, journalists and staff members inside the three Asian Games villages to drive low-carbon behavior, as well [...]
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Isoxo’s Hotly Anticipated KidsGoneMad! Album Finally Revealed To Drop On October 20

September 29, 2023
Renegade San Diego DJ / producer and Dancing Astronaut’s “Breakout Artist of the Year 2022” ISOxo finally makes his kidsgonemad! album, available this October 20th, up for presale and shares a hot new single “STARsound” as another taste of what’s to come. Listen to “STARsound” HERE and Presave kidsgonemad! HERE. ISOxo and his best friend [...]
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Sixth Showdown: Richard Gutierrez’s ‘The Iron Heart’ emerges victorious

September 29, 2023
Richard Gutierrez’s ‘The Iron Heart’ has once again emerged victorious. The clash began in November of the previous year when ‘The Iron Heart,’ starring Richard, went head-to-head with Bea Alonzo and Alden Richards’ teleserye, ‘Start-Up PH.’ From the very start, viewers were drawn to Richard’s series, drawing comparisons to international action dramas. With nearly a [...]
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FedEx Enhances Shipping Experience for E-tailers across AMEA

September 29, 2023
FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and one of the world’s largest express transportation companies, is enhancing the online shipping experience for its customers. The new automated e-commerce capability in FedEx Ship Manager™ (FSM) supports small businesses and e-commerce merchants across AMEA, helping them to efficiently manage their shipments online. Available across [...]
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Baguio is the Philippines’ most affordable tourist destination for the year-end holidays

September 29, 2023
Whether it’s New Year’s Eve, Christmas, school holidays, or simply because of a quiet time at work, tourism booms globally during the final ten days of the year. To help travelers find the best deals, Agoda reveals this year-end’s cheapest destinations around Asia Pacific. Always on the lookout for the best possible deals and most [...]
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Is ‘It’s Showtime’ still airing after MTRCB denies motion for reconsideration?

September 29, 2023
Noontime show ‘It’s Showtime’ is facing an uncertain future after the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) rejected motions for reconsideration filed by both GMA Network and ABS-CBN regarding the show’s 12-day suspension. During ‘Fast Talk with Boy Abunda,’ TV host Boy Abunda reported on the MTRCB’s decision regarding the program. According to [...]
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‘Asian Persuasion’ triumphs with audience award win at Soho International Film Festival

September 29, 2023
“Asian Persuasion” has clinched the prestigious Audience Award for Best Full-Length Film at the highly acclaimed Soho International Film Festival. The festival took place on September 21, 2023, at Fushimi Times Square in Manhattan. The film was also one of the eight nominees for Best U.S. Showcase Feature Film. First-time screenwriter Mike Ang (left) and [...]
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Marcos reappoints Herbosa as Health chief

September 29, 2023
PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has reappointed Teodoro "Ted" Herbosa as secretary of the Department of Health (DH) after the Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed his designation as a member of the Cabinet.The Presidential Communications Office announced the appointment of Herbosa as interim secretary of the DoH in a Facebook post on Friday.The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Tuesday bypassed the ad interim appointment of Herbosa due to "lack of material time."

Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, chairman of the CA Committee on Health, suspended the hearing on Herbosa's appointment, saying that the committee members have more questions to ask the nominee but do not have the time.Go said that the committee's action has been deferred to their next hearing in November when Congress returns after a legislative break.However, he clarified that Herbosa may need to be reappointed to continue his work at the DoH. Congress goes on recess starting Thursday, September 28.Article 7, Section 16 of the Constitution states that the President "shall have the power to make appointments during the recess of the Congress, whether voluntary or compulsory, but such appointments shall be effective only until disapproved by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of the Congress."Marcos named Herbosa to lead the DoH in June. He served as DoH undersecretary from 2010 to 2015 and held the post of regional director at the DoH National Capital Regional Office.Herbosa also served as special adviser to the National Task Force Against Covid-19.Meanwhile, the President also appointed former Armed Forces chief Andres Centino as presidential assistant for Maritime concerns, with a rank of secretary.Centino first served as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from Nov. 12, 2021 to Aug. 8, 2022.Marcos appointed Centino anew as the head of the AFP in January 2023, replacing retired Lt. Gen. Bartolome Bacarro.Centino's previous assignments include Commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3), and Commander of the 401st Infantry Brigade.Also appointed by the President were Lorna Francisca Catris Cheng, Ma Consejo Gengos-Ignalaga, and Raymond Joseph Javier as associate justices of the Court of Appeals; Henry Angeles as associate justice of the Court of Tax Appeals; and Juliet Manalo-San Gaspar as associate justice in the Sandiganbayan.