Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, December 4, 2021.

READ: Hopes of healing PDP-Laban fade

THE prospects of healing the rift between factions in the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to prop up the chances of the party's candidates in the 2022 elections appear to be fading. The camp led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has rejected the offer of Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao for a dialogue to reunite the ruling party. Pacquiao, whose candidacy for president is being backed by the rival wing, made the offer on Thursday after Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go announced his withdrawal from the presidential race. Pacquaio said he welcomes unification talks with the rival faction on condition that Cusi is ousted as its head. PDP-Laban Secretary General Melvin Matibag, who supports the Cusi faction, said Pacquiao's statement "is clearly misplaced and not properly thought out." Matibag said Cusi was elected party president under the auspices of President Rodrigo Duterte, the party chairman.

READ: Marcos: Tap IRA to boost small businesses

FERDINAND "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said he will channel part of the Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) if he becomes president. The IRA is a local government unit's (LGU) allocation of revenues from the national government. Marcos said will also strengthen the country's agriculture and transport sector and continue President Rodrigo Duterte's Build Build Build program. The standard bearer of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) outlined his plan of action as president during his turn as featured candidate on Go Negosyo's "Kandidatalks" series. The program reached more than 1 million people and attracted 379,000 total views when it streamed live over Go Negosyo's Facebook page last December 1. Marcos underlined the importance of MSMEs in helping the country recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ: Omicron could surge in January – OCTA

THE country could see a surge driven by the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in January or February, a member of the OCTA Research group predicted on Friday. OCTA Research Fellow Dr. Guido David, however, said that such a spike "will not be as bad as in the past due to vaccination and our past experiences — we will be able to manage it." David said the number of daily cases during that period could reach 5,000. He added it is not likely that a lockdown will be clamped in the National Capital Region (NCR) to fight the surge. Another OCTA fellow, Ranjit Rye, said the outlook for December "is positive and optimistic, based on the very good data that we have been monitoring for the last month." He urged the government to continue its testing, tracing and isolation protocols, as well as increase border surveillance. A comparison of the data from November 26 to December 21 with the data from the same period in 2020 shows the situation has improved. The group also called for a more detailed analysis of the new positive cases, specifying how many of the new infections were vaccinated and unvaccinated, highlighting that vaccination lessens the risk of hospitalization and death.

READ: Go: Let Duterte pick successor

SEN. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go on Friday appealed to his supporters to let President Rodrigo Duterte decide who to endorse as presidential candidate in the 2022 elections. Go made the appeal as he reiterated that his decision to withdraw from the presidential race was in the best interest of Duterte and his family. Go, Duterte's long-time aide, said he will continue to serve the people in his capacity as senator.

READ: RH, family planning critical in ending poverty

REPRODUCTION health and family planning programs will play a critical role in ending severe poverty by 2040, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). In a statement released on Friday, NEDA said its head, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, laid out the government's reproductive health and family planning programs at the recent International Inter-Ministerial Conference on Population and Development, which was co-hosted by the Partners in Population and Development (PPD) and the United Nations Population Fund. Chua, who spoke before foreign ministers and senior government officials from the 27 PPD member states, said the government understands the significance of reproductive health and family planning programs in achieving its long-term aim of eradicating extreme poverty. The 2017-2022 Philippine Population Management Program (PPMP) is one of the programs serving as the blueprint for implementing population-related programs, projects, and activities, Chua said.

READ: PH ranks 4th highest one-day jabs worldwide

THE Philippines has clinched the fourth spot in the global rankings of nations with the highest daily Covid-19 jab rate, the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 said on Friday. This was achieved during the first day of the National Vaccination Days on November 29 where around 2.7 million doses were administered nationwide. The Philippines is next to China's 22 million, India's 10 million and the United States' 3.48 million doses, and followed by Brazil with 2.6 million doses, based on the global monitoring website 'Our World in Data'.

READ: DoH: Hold parties outdoors, ditch buffet table

THE Department of Health (DoH) has advised those who will organize or attend in-person holiday parties to follow minimum health protocols and follow the standards recommended in holding gatherings, such as ditching buffet-style food service and holding it outdoors. This comes as more in-person gatherings are being held, such as Christmas parties, in light of decreasing cases of Covid-19 amid the threat of the Omicron variant. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while virtual parties remain the most recommended option in holding these gatherings, "sacrificing" in-person gatherings is still the best way to prevent a possible increase in the number of cases in the community.

BUSINESS: PH economy seen rising 6.6% in '22

Over to business, the Philippines is one of the economies in the Asia-Pacific region that will expand faster next year, according to Oxford Economics. In a report released on Friday, the research firm said the Philippines, along with Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, would all see greater economic development in 2022 after being impacted by huge interruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic this year. Most economies are changing to a "living with Covid" strategy as immunization programs reach their target levels, research group pointed out.

SPORTS: McDaniels embraces big role in NLEX

In sports, returning import K.J. McDaniels will have a chance to flex his muscles in the PBA anew. This time, he will be playing for a new team, NLEX, which will take on San Miguel Beer when the PBA Governors' Cup tips off on Wednesday, December 8. McDaniels will be one among the highly-touted returning imports in the tournament. He will go up against another familiar fixture, Brandon Philip Brown of the Beermen. Brown was a replacement import who played for the Phoenix Fuel Masters four years ago. The Road Warriors and the Beermen square off in the main game of the scheduled double header at 6 p.m. right after the 3 p.m. match between the Alaska Aces and the NorthPort Batang Pier at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City. For McDaniels, given another tour of duty will allow him to settle some unfinished business. He was a part of the TNT Tropang Giga squad which reached the semifinal round of the same tournament two years ago but lost to Allen Durham and the Meralco Bolts.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Antonio Contreras and Yen Makabenta are today's front page columnists. Contreras tackles the contempt of constitutional rights while Makabenta believes a candidate must learn base-building and coalition-building.

Today's editorial believes vulnerable nations should guide terms of a 'pandemic treaty' signed last March. Read a full version on the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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For The Manila Times, this is Paulo Dimaapi. Have a safe weekend ahead.