Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, September 16, 2022.

READ: More Filipinos feel better off – survey

MORE Filipinos felt better off in June this year than they were a year ago, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed. The number of respondents who said their life was better jumped to 29 percent from 18 percent in 2021. The percentage of respondents who said their quality of life worsened dropped by 18 percent from 49 percent. The resulting net gainer score — the percentage of respondents who were better off minus those who were worse off — was -2, which the SWS considers as fair. In the previous year, the net gainer score was -31 (very low). Despite the increase, the net gainer score was still 20 points below the pre-pandemic level of +18 (very high) in December 2019.

READ: Marcos to raise key issues at UN meet

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will discuss climate change, the rule of law and food security when he addresses the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York City next week. Marcos, who will fly to the US on Sunday, will speak before the General Assembly at 3:15 p.m. New York time (3:15 a.m. in Manila) on September 20, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Kira Azucena said during a pre-departure briefing Thursday. Azucena said the theme for this year's General Assembly meeting is "Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges."

READ: DepEd urged to lighten teachers' workload

TWO teacher organizations called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to implement its six-hour workload rule for teachers who they said still have to finish tasks even after classes are over. Teachers' Dignity Coalition (TDC) National Chairman Benjo Basas said requiring teachers to do extra work violated policies regarding the allowable workload for teachers set forth by the DepEd itself, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers. Basas said teachers have been flooded with paperwork, reports and online tasks just four weeks after the school year started. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), meanwhile, said some of its members have reported that only in-person class workload are being credited by their schools. The two hours a day allotted for non-teaching duties are not enough for them to check students' activities and prepare lessons and visual aids, ACT said. ACT Chairman Vladimer Quetua said only one teacher is assigned for each section from Kindergarten to Grade 2, and that a teacher also doubles as the class adviser.

READ: New mask order to reduce wastes by 50% – DENR exec

AN official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday said that the lifting of the mandatory use of masks will reduce the accumulation of waste by 50 percent. DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director William Cuñado also recommended the use of reusable masks. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. issued Executive Order (EO) 3 making masks optional in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.

READ: Manila amends mask mandate

MANILA Mayor Ma. Sheilah "Honey" Lacuña-Pangan said on Thursday that the voluntary wearing of face masks was now allowed in the city's open and uncrowded places. Lacuña-Pangan said Ordinance 8901 superseded Ordinance 8627, following the executive order of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. that makes the wearing of masks outdoors voluntary.

BUSINESS: 'US CPI might lead to policy rate hike'

Topping business, an economist said the United States consumer price index (US CPI) and inflation data and weaker peso exchange rate might lead to more aggressive local policy rate hikes. Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., made the statement to The Manila Times after US CPI for August 2022 yielded 8.3 percent year on year. It is also expected that the US Federal Reserve Bank will discuss the rate hikes when the Federal Open Market Committee meets later on September 20. Ricafort said some Fed officials also warned against any premature easing of Fed funds rate and monetary policy.

SPORTS: Obiena returns home after 3 years

Over to sports, after three years of campaigning abroad, pole vaulter Ernest John "EJ" Obiena has returned to the Philippines on Thursday, September 15. Obiena, who won six gold medals in eight outdoor tournaments in Europe, made a courtesy call to Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Noli Eala on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila. Obiena, the third ranked pole vaulter in the world, said that it warms his heart to return in the country, especially at Rizal, where he started training as a pole vaulter.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today's front page columnists. Tiglao continues to discuss his view on the controversial estate taxes of the Marcoses, while Torres discusses the shortage issues in the country.

Today's editorial believes the government is trying its best to erase the housing backlog. Read the full version in the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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For The Manila Times, this is Kim Isabelle Dignadice.