Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

READ: DoH backs moves to restore mask rule

THE Department of Health on Tuesday said it supports moves by some local government units to reimpose mask mandates in their own localities as Covid-19 cases increase. This comes after Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said he will issue an executive order that will require the use of masks in indoor and outdoor settings over the increasing cases in the city. A similar move is now being imposed at Manila City Hall by Mayor Maria Sheilah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan to control the rising Covid-19 cases. The country reported 1,798 cases per day on average during the past week, or a 28 percent increase from the 1,400 cases reported in the previous week. During her regular media briefing, Health Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the moves of local officials to impose their own restrictions are in line with a proposal made by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to decouple the restrictions from the alert level system.

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READ: Comelec refuses partner’s P13-M payment demand

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has turned down the demand of its partner, Impact Hub Philippines, in the staging of the “Pilipinas Debate” in the May 2022 national and local elections to settle its unpaid obligations amounting to 13.3 million pesos. Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia on Tuesday said there was still unfinished business that the commission needs to clarify in relation to the results of its internal investigation and considering the fact that public funds were involved in the controversy.

READ: Govt plans to import 22K MT of onions

THE government is considering importing 22,000 metric tons of onions to stabilize prices of the bulbs in the country, a Department of Agriculture official said on Tuesday. D.A. Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez said the farmgate price of onion is at 120 pesos per kilo, and it is being sold in markets at 200 pesos, which he said is still high. Estoperez added that they are also looking into the 117,000 metric tons of onions available in cold storages and with that volume, he said, it might take months for it to be consumed, hence the unreasonably high prices.

READ: Gilas reclaims SEAG gold

GILAS Pilipinas completed its mission to redeem the country from last year’s debacle after subduing the import-reinforced Cambodia, 80-69, to reclaim the Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball gold medal on Tuesday at the Morodok Techo National Stadium Elephant Hall 2 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Filipinos banked on a critical 23-11 second-quarter exchange, which allowed the national squad to take control of the game after a nip-and-tuck affair in the opening period.

SPORTS: Team PH surpasses gold medal haul in Hanoi

Filipino wrestler Alvin Lobreguito ruled the men’s 57-kg freestyle event to win a gold medal in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at the Chroy Changvar Convention Center on Tuesday, May 16. With Lobreguito’s conquest and victories from arnis and Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippines has surpassed its 52-gold medal haul in the Hanoi Games. More Filipino athletes in wrestling, arnis, kickboxing, cricket and basketball were still competing as of posting time.Lobreguito swept his way to the gold medal, taking down his two opponents in the three-man field. The Filipino defeated Thai Nattawut Kaewkhuanchum 3-1 and Vietnamese Khac Huy Phung with the same score. Lobreguito became the third gold medalist from the Philippine wrestling team after Jason Balabal and Cristina Vergara. Balabal conquered the men’s 87-kg Greco-Roman division while Vergara ruled the women’s -65-kg freestyle.

BUSINESS: Gov’t should support manufacturers – poll

Over to business, 9 out of 10 Filipinos believe the government should support the local manufacturing sector because it has the capacity to accelerate the country’s growth, a Pulse Asia survey commissioned by the Stratbase A.D.R. Institute found. The March 15-19 nationwide poll asked 1,200 adult Filipinos about their views on the manufacturing sector and how it affects the Philippine economy. The results were released on Tuesday during a forum organized by Stratbase. The majority or 62 percent of Filipinos believe that the manufacturing sector most contributes to growth and development via the creation of livelihood opportunities and by making goods more affordable and accessible to consumers. Half also said that manufacturing increases local and foreign investments, and 49 percent agreed that it would produce more products for the local and export markets. Meanwhile, 61 percent believe the government should provide training opportunities that will allow workers to upgrade or learn new skills. Half said additional incentives were needed to make the Philippines more competitive. Forty-five percent said there was a need to develop more economic zones.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino and Francisco Tatad are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao checks on Hanoi’s claims in the South China Sea, Fr. Aquino talks about an “unexamined presumption” on the existence of God, while Tatad asks if the country can get out of a certain situation involving China.

Today’s editorial calls on ride-hailing firms to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Read the full version in the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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