Out of 48 requests, Marcos was the only world leader to meet Biden on the UNGA sidelines – Palace

By  Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Published September 23, 2022, 3:46 AM - MB

NEW YORK, USA — Malacañang revealed that out of 48 requests, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was the only head of state to talk to US President Joseph Biden on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

This development came as the two leaders held bilateral talks on Thursday morning, September 22 (New York time).

In a press briefing here, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the meeting between Marcos and Biden was significant because the former was the only world leader that the US President had granted a bilateral meeting.

“I understand a lot of requests had been made to the US President — that it is significant that he spoke only with President Marcos on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly,” she said.

According to Angeles, the meeting materialized because of the negotiations “made back and forth.”

“It’s always in the interest of both parties. So I think it might not be relevant who makes the request,” she said.

“At any rate, what we can see is that the President of the United States has met with the President of the Philippines,” she added.

During their meeting, President Marcos and President Biden reflected on the importance of the Philippines-US alliance.

President Biden reaffirmed the USA’s ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines. The leaders discussed the situation in the South China Sea and underscored their support for freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

Both leaders discussed opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation on various issues, including energy security, climate action, and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Marcos and Biden discussed Russia’s war against Ukraine and its implications for energy prices and food security, Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) matters, the crisis in Myanmar, and the importance of respect for human rights.

‘Best time to do business in PH is now’ — Marcos

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Published September 23, 2022, 2:06 PM - MB

NEW YORK, USA — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told American investors that the Philippines is a wise investment choice and that now is the best time to do business with the country.
Marcos said this as he graced the Philippine Economic Briefing in New York City on Thursday morning, September 22 (New York time).

In his speech, the President invited strategic investors in the United States to invest in the Philippines, citing the country’s “economic resurgence” following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We invite strategic investors from the United States to participate in this Philippines economic resurgence,” he said.

“Key structural reforms have been set to allow for wider participation in our industries,” he added.

According to the President, economic liberalization measures like the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act expanded “the space for foreign investments in previously protected sectors,” especially those that employ advanced technologies and research and development activities.

Marcos also touted the country’s “grand opportunities, the timing, the window of opportunities” for investment, especially in capital-intensive investments in the Philippines

.

President Marcos has been meeting business executives since he arrived in New York. However, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla said more American investments do not mean fewer investments from China.

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, some American companies already in the country are willing to expand their operations.

“There are those that have already existing operations in the Philippines. And given the more favorable investment climate in the Philippines, they are now eager to expand their operations, so they’ll invest some more,” he said.
 

PH Army supports PBBM's call for

mandatory ROTC

By Priam Nepomuceno, July 26, 2022, 5:25 pmShare, PNA

 

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) said Tuesday it strongly supports President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s call for legislators to prioritize the passage of a law calling for a mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program for senior high school students.

"The PA supports the national defense strategy of our Commander in Chief, which includes the revival of the mandatory ROTC program for our youth. Moreover, the organization trusts the wisdom of our legislators for the program’s revival," Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said in a statement.

Trinidad said the ROTC program is anchored on the Constitutional provision on the defense of the State.

He noted that the ROTC is a crucial part of the military’s long-term reserve force development plan that instills discipline, patriotism, and nationalistic values in the youth who are considered the nation's future.

"The Philippine Army, as part of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) reaches out to the youth by providing them with another perspective on nation-building. The proposed revival of the mandatory ROTC program will be instrumental in developing a capable, committed, and well-trained reserve force that will serve as an expansion base for the regular force in times of war, rebellion, or other national emergencies," Trinidad said.

In his State of the Nation Address on Monday, Marcos emphasized the need to renew the ROTC program as a mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions.

"The aim is to motivate, train, organize, and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations," he said. (PNA) 

 Makati Business Club to policymakers: Come up with people-oriented transportation systems

By: Daniza Fernandez - Reporter / @DFernandezINQINQUIRER.net / 10:05 AM September 23, 20

MANILA, Philippines — Policymakers have been urged to look at the benefits and hurdles hounding public transportation, pedestrians, and cyclists to craft “people-oriented” systems.

The Makati Business Club (MBC), a private non-stock and non-profit association, made the call to managers and policymakers on Thursday amid the celebration of World Car-Free Day.


“On the occasion of World Car-Free Day, MBC encourages managers and policymakers to ask about or even experience the challenges and benefits of public transport and active mobility (walking and cycling),” the group said in a statement.

“This would be a critical factor in promoting and enacting people-oriented transportation systems that serve the great majority of Filipino commuters,” the group added.

The MBC expressed its support for increased investment in “well- and holistically-studied” public transportation and “safe and inclusive” pedestrian sidewalks and bike lanes.

Citing the “fast-growing role” of motorcycles, the group likewise backed discussions on the use of the vehicle.

“We believe these investments are an essential part of a transport and mobility system that will enable all Filipinos to work and do other activities they need or want to do,” the MBC pointed out.

Further, the MBC pressed the government, business, and civil society organizations to promote and create more protected bike lanes, ramps, and end-of-trip facilities such as bike racks, showers, and lockers.

Fil-Am killed in suspected road-rage incident in California

By  Jaleen Ramos, Published September 20, 2022, 2:00 PM, MB

 

A Filipino-American was killed in a suspected road-rage incident in San Lorenzo, California on Monday, Sept. 19.

According to a report from KTVU news, the incident happened at the intersection of Hesperian Boulevard and Lewelling Boulevard at around 4:27 p.m. on Monday.

The victim was identified as Reinheart Asuncion.

According to Asuncion’s wife, Love, they were chatting around the time of the incident, and she was listening live when her husband got involved in a dispute with several people in another car.

The argument then led to a chase that ended with Asuncion confronting the suspect which resulted in the shooting.

“I told him not to get out, not to get out from his car, but he didn’t hear me,” Love told KTVU.

Authorities said the suspect's vehicle fled the scene toward the 880 freeway.

The victim suffered gunshot wounds and was later pronounced dead.

“I’m in grief, a lot of pain. I’m in pain. It’s hard to accept,” she added.

Asuncion just got married to Love four months ago in the Philippines.

No arrests have been made yet.
 

PBBM: Mask optional outdoors

By Vito BarceloVince LopezMacon Ramos-AranetabyVito Barcelo,Vince Lopezand1 others  September 13, 2022, 2:00 

 

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday made wearing face masks voluntary in outdoor settings but encouraged the public to follow health protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the President accepted the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to no longer make wearing masks mandatory outdoors.

The new policy, contained in Executive Order No. 3, will take effect immediately, Angeles said.

She added, however, that immunocompromised persons, senior citizens, and people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are “strongly encouraged” to continue wearing face masks.

The Palace said the Department of Health (DOH) had been told to update the minimum public health and safety guidelines to reflect EO No. 3.


The DOH also agreed to lift masking for non-vulnerable sectors and low-risk settings, officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire revealed Monday.

Vergeire said during the Health Department’s budget briefing at the House Appropriations Committee that the DOH made their decision based on the World Health Organization’s pronouncement that face mask mandates can be focused on the vulnerable sector.

But the Palace, through Angeles, said: “Face masks shall continue to be worn in indoor, private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.”

The order comes after Negros Occidental on Sunday allowed face masks as optional in outdoor spaces, following in the footsteps of Cebu province—which was the first to defy the national mask mandate to guard against the spread of COVID-19—Cebu City, and Iloilo province.

More local government units are expected to follow suit with their orders. The Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 had also recommended that Mr. Marcos allow people to go maskless outdoors.

While supporting the President’s order, the independent monitoring group OCTA Research said it hopes the government will implement a “set of triggers” to reimpose the mask policy.

“In OCTA we believe that any policy change should be grounded in science and based on ensuring public health and safety for all,” it said in a statement.

“To this end, OCTA has suggested to the government through channels that a set of milestones to be achieved first as a prerequisite to the lifting of the outdoor mask mandate such as increasing booster rates, etc. as well as defining a set of triggers to reimpose the use of masks outdoors should a serious surge in cases happen,” the group said.

“We hope the government can still consider these in implementing its new policy,” it added.

At the same time, the Palace said the country is now 6 percent away from having a “wall of immunity” from vaccination.

Angeles also said the government is extending the COVID-19 state of calamity for three months. She said the country would “transition out of the state of calamity” after further review.

 

The new order makes the Philippines the tenth country in Southeast Asia to end the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors, leaving only Myanmar as the only country in the region still requiring face coverings.

 

But EO3 has caused some health experts to raise their brows, as COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.

Dr. Maricar Limpin, the immediate past president of the Philippine College of Physicians, expressed her dismay in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, citing vaccine and case statistics as the reason for the country’s unpreparedness to face the challenges of the virus amid the new policy.

“The biggest factor here is the low rates of booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. We know that we only have about 23% of the target population that has been given booster shots,” she said.

Wearing a face mask also protects against other communicable diseases and not just COVID-19, a health expert said Monday.

In a televised public briefing, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination Executive Director Dr. Lulu Bravo echoed the advice of Vergeire to wear masks whether required or not.

“Even if it is not COVID-19, you can have symptoms like cough, colds, and pneumonia,” Bravo said.

Limpin said the administration only based its studies on the targeted primary vaccine rollout rather than the distribution of booster doses, “which are now more crucial,” adding it only “sought to expose those vulnerable in society.”

“It may be that a certain individual manages to avoid being infected by the virus, but it is certain that people in their households that are vulnerable—like immunocompromised individuals and senior citizens—may contract the virus that may eventually lead to their death,” she said.

“We should not compare our policies with that of other countries because you cannot compare an apple with an orange,” the doctor added.


Reacting to the new policy, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the public should not forget that the economy can now reopen thanks partially to the protection of masks.

She noted that EO No. 3 just institutionalized what most Filipinos already do

.

“Nothing has changed. The virus is not any less serious or dangerous just because we’ve decided that masks are optional,” she said.

She also reminded the public not to be lulled into a false sense of security.

“I urge the public to get vaccinated and boosted and be mindful of wearing our mask at all times, especially indoors, in public transportation, and especially, in crowded places,” she said.

Senator Christopher Go, who chairs the Senate committee on health, echoed the views of Hontiveros, adding that the public should firmly adhere to minimum health protocols.

He said he believes the DOH and the IATF have studied the consequences of their recommendation before Malacanang issued EO No. 3.

Like Hontiveros, Go said the public should not be too confident, as the times are still dangerous.

“We will lose nothing if we put on our face masks,” he said. With Gabriellea Parino and Marron Joshua Mendoza

Japan set to resume visa-free tourist travel in October

The Straits Times/Asia News Network / 04:30 PM September 15, 202
By: Daphne Galvez - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQINQUIRER.net / 08:11 AM September 18, 202


TOKYO – Japan is expected to lift a ban on individual tourist visa requirements and remove a limit on daily arrivals in October, as it aims to benefit from a rebound in global tourism, Nikkei reported Thursday.

Following the change, Japan will not require visas for short-term travelers from the United States and certain other countries, and will scrap the daily entry cap of 50,000 people, the media outlet said.


ST understands that Singapore will be one of the countries where tourists will not be required to have a visa to enter Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce the changes in the coming days, the report said.

With the yen languishing near a 24-year low against the dollar, owing to a hawkish US Federal Reserve, the Japanese government could benefit from capitalizing on the increased buying power of tourists by easing travel requirements, the report added.

Japan last week raised the daily ceiling of inbound travelers to 50,000 from 20,000. It eliminated a requirement for pre-departure Covid-19 tests, easing what has been among the most restrictive border measures among major economies.

Before the pandemic, Japan did not require tourist visas for 68 countries and regions.
 

Taiwan to resume visa-free entry for Filipinos

Philstar.com, September 23, 2022 | 11:21am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can travel again to Taiwan without the need for a visa as the self-governing island is set to lift its suspension on visa-free travel for Philippine nationals on September 29.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs announced Thursday that nationals from the Philippines, along with nationals from 10 other countries, would again enjoy visa-free privileges as part of the island’s moves to reopen borders that it shuttered at the onset of the pandemic, state-run CNA reported.

While Filipinos may start entering Taiwan for 14 days without a visa, they and other travelers to the island are still expected to follow its quarantine scheme, which involves quarantining for three days and self-monitoring for four days.

Beginning September 29, travelers arriving in Taiwan can quarantine in a residence occupied by other people as long as they have a room of their own with its own bathroom.

This quarantine scheme will remain in place until October 13 as long as the COVID-19 situation in Taiwan improves.

Travelers arriving in Taiwan would also no longer be required to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival and instead will be given four rapid antigen self-test kits beginning Sept. 29.

Taiwan has been easing up on pandemic restrictions, with a first set of countries — excluding the Philippines — having been allowed visa-free entry into the island early this month.

Along with Philippine nationals, holders of passports from Japan, South Korea, Chile, Israel, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brunei will also enjoy visa-free privileges starting next Thursday. — Xave Gregorio
 

Pampanga lantern makers create jobs in 
‘Christmas capital’

PhilHealth had revealed before that its fund life would only last until 2027. However, in September 2021, PhilHealth’s acting senior vice president Nerissa Santiago said that PhilHealth would just last until 2027 if members would not pay higher premiums.

PhilHealth’s net loss for 2021 was expected to reach around P57 billion.

PhilHealth’s member contributions were raised in June – retroactive from January 2022. Despite this, PhilHealth’s fund life has not increased.

It was also reported that Pagcor and PCSO have yet to remit their contributions for PhilHealth as of August. However, during the Senate committee on health hearing, PhilHealth said it expects to collect P188.66 billion from both Pagcor and PCSO.

It was also revealed that government subsidy to PhilHealth was at a record-high of P80.9 billion in 2021. — With reports from Catherine Dabu, trainee