Items filtered by date: Friday, 12 May 2017

US retail sales rise as stores struggle

US retail sales rose by 4.5% in April compared with the same month last year, but department store chains continue to struggle.
JC Penney said like-for-like sales fell by 3.5% in its first quarter, against the same period last year.
Earlier this week rival retailers, including Macy's and Nordstrom, also reported declining sales.
Meanwhile the US Commerce Department reported that online shopping boomed in April, climbing 11.9% year-on-year.
"That's the growth area and that's the whole growth area," said Howard Davidowitz, chair of Davidowitz & Associates, a retail consulting firm based in New York.
Sales at non-store retailers represented 10.8% of total US food and retail sales in April, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Annual growth in the sector has topped 10% for 12 consecutive months.
But sales at US department stores in April fell 3.7% year-on-year, marking a two-year run of annual declines, the Commerce Department said.
Sales at sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores dropped 2.4%.

JC Penney, which has more than 1,000 branches across the US, reported net sales of $2.7bn in the three months to the end of April - a fall of 3.7%.
Like-for-like sales, which strip out stores open for less than a year, declined by 3.5% in the quarter.
Business picked up in April, but February weighed on the quarterly figures, chief executive Marvin R. Ellison said.
The company posted a net loss of $180m, more than double last year, in part due to the costs related to plans for more than 100 store closures.
"Obviously we had a very challenging quarter in a challenging environment," said chief financial officer Ed Record.
'Gigantic adjustment'
Mr Davidowitz said consumer spending isn't strong enough to overcome the headwinds traditional retailers, like Penney, face.
The US middle class, once the primary customer for chains like Penney, Macy's and Kohl's, has shrunk, while online shopping competition adds to pressure to keep prices down.
The price of clothing, for example, increased by just 0.5% between April 2016 and April 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday.
That compared to overall an inflation rate of 2.2%, and a 1.9% rate, excluding energy and food.
Mr Davidowitz said US retailers are also grappling with a physical footprint that is much larger than in many other countries.
That cost drags on results, even for firms that are doing significant online business, he said.
"There's going to be a gigantic adjustment, which is going to take place over a long period," he said.

-BBC News

  • Published in U.S.

Philippines-US Balikatan kicks off

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Air Force (PAF) crew will train and learn more about how it can deliver relief goods and other items during calamities or natural disasters faster and more efficiently in this year’s joint Balikatan exercises between American and Filipino soldiers.

Activities lined up for US and Philippine airmen include the actual conduct of airdrops within the island of Cebu.

“Under this exercise, US aircrew will teach the PAF C-130 aircrew various techniques in airdropping procedures to expedite the delivery of relief supplies and aid affected areas without aerodromes and/or damaged aerodromes,” the PAF said.

“In addition, some of the pre-determined topics of the Balikatan will include flight safety, air drop, night vision equipment, engine running on load and off-load, rapid deployment and compass system.”

The annual Philippines-US military exercise or Balikatan has officially begun in various locations in the country, particularly in Cebu where the PAF’s 220th Airlift Wing is stationed.

Balikatan is a joint military event conducted under the auspices of Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) that aims to improve bilateral engagement and training opportunities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US Marine Forces Pacific (US MAFOPAC).

This year, PAF said selected aircrew and maintenance personnel of the 220th AW led by the Herky commander Maj. Anthony Amora and the Wing’s Balikatan officer-in-charge Maj. Michael Vincent Benolerao.

They will be directly involved in the different C-130-related Subject Matter Expert Exchange discussions.

“These activities will reinforce the knowledge, skills and ability of our airlifters in the techniques, tactics and procedures, including sharing of best practices, specifically on improving response effectiveness in the event of natural disasters and other crises, which is the focus of this year’s Balikatan,” PAF said.

In Nueva Ecija, Filipino and US troops were taught to rescue people trapped under debris during an earthquake under the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) of the Balikatan.

The exercise was held at the Army’s 7th Infantry Division headquarters at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Maj. Frank Sayson, Philippine Balikatan exercises spokesman, said the joint quake drill is to hasten public awareness of the effects of major quakes and harness the disaster response capabilities of Filipino soldiers.

“These quake drill exercises are needed to be practiced on a much wider and bigger scale, considering that the country is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire,” Sayson said.

Overall, around 2,800 Filipino troops, 2,600 American soldiers, 80 from Australia and 20 Japanese troops are participating in this year’s joint military disaster drill.

During the drill proper, Army engineers and personnel, alongside their US counterparts, deployed various types of light to heavy equipment to rescue trapped victims.

Local and foreign observers were invited to witness how combined Filipino and US troops deal with the challenges in the aftermath of a major quake.

Aside from quake drills, combined Filipino and US forces are also holding massive HADR activities in the storm-prone island town of Calayan, Cagayan as well as in Maconacon in Isabela and in Casiguran, Aurora until next week.

The storm-themed joint drill is aimed at testing the disaster response capabilities of Filipino and US troops. By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star),With Jaime Laude


Gilas Pilipinas crushes Myanmar, 147-40

The Gilas Pilipinas national team opened the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Cup in style, rolling to a 147-40 victory on Friday before a sparse crowd at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
The game turned into a laugher early on, as the home team blazed to a 66-12 halftime lead.
Calvin Abueva led Gilas with 22 points, while Allein Maliksi added 20. Naturalized center Andray Blatche, making his return to the national team, chipped in 11 points in 12 minutes of action. —JST, GMA News

  • Published in Sports

More ‘Mocha Girls’ in government? Duterte offers jobs to Uson’s pals

More "Mocha Girls" may soon follow in the footsteps of newly-appointed Communication Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson by joining the Duterte administration.
A live video posted on Uson's Facebook page showed President Rodrigo Duterte offering government posts to her former co-members in the sexy girl group.
“Gusto ninyo magtrabaho, OK lang,” Duterte, who arrived in Hong Kong Thursday night, told the Mocha Girls.
In the video, the President once again defended Uson’s appointment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
“Inggit lang iyan. Inggit iyan sila na ikaw dumating doon. Sabi ko, ‘Ako, I decided to employ her.’ Sana sinabi ko, ‘May utang na loob ako? What’s wrong in paying?’ Tutal ako naman ang may-ari ng Malacañang ngayon,” he said.
Upon hearing Duterte's job offer to her former bandmates, Uson interjected: “Sa opisina ko na lang, sir,” as the girls burst out in laughter.
Duterte, however, said the girls should not be put in one room together.
“I-distribute ko kayo sa MTRCB (Movie And Television Review And Classification Board), sa—pero trabaho. Hindi kayo puwede mag-isang opisina. Masyadong maingay,” Duterte told the girls.
The girl group is also in Hong Kong for a vacation.
The President even proposed to include the Mocha Girls in his foreign trips to entertain the Filipino communities overseas.
“Dapat kayo ang magpaligaya ng mga Pilipino. Kung saan ako magpunta, dapat nandoon kayo kasi may mga Pilipino doon eh,” he said.
“Asahan namin iyan, sir, ah,” Uson replied.
The Mocha Girls performed in Duterte’s campaign rallies for the May 2016 elections.
Meanwhile, Duterte arrived in Hong Kong late Thursday night after attending the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
He did not have any official schedule on Friday, but presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that the President would have private time with his partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña and daughter Veronica “Kitty” Duterte as well as private meetings.
In the video posted on Uson's blog, Duterte said he decided to stop by Hong Kong for a day just to rest.
The President and his delegation will meet with the Filipino community on Saturday afternoon. before going to Beijing, China for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. — By TRISHA MACAS, GMA News


Noynoy insists no sufficient ground to charge him over DAP

Former President Benigno Aquino III has insisted that there was no sufficient ground to charge him for implementing the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) during his administration.
In his comment to the complainants' motion for reconsideration submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, Aquino argued that his actions were "performed in accordance with law, as well as the rules and regulations existing and presumed valid at that time."
He added that he was "motivated solely on good faith and a desire to improve the operational efficiency of the government, as well as spur economic growth and development in the country."
Last March, the Ombudsman dismissed the criminal and administrative charges against Aquino in the DAP case, but the complainants, led by Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, urged the Ombudsman to reconsider its decision.
The Ombudsman, however, found probable cause to charge former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad with usurpation of legislative powers over the DAP.
In his comment, Aquino also urges the Ombudsman to uphold its finding of no probable cause in his case and dismiss the complainant's motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
Aquino dismissed the complainants' arguments as "mere rehash" of the issues the Ombudsman had already resolved in its decision.
Represented by the National Union of People's Lawyers, the complainants claimed that the elements of technical malversation are found in Aquino and Abad case.
“By directing the application of public funds, Aquino and Abad are the clear masterminds or authors of the crime. They are thus principals by direct participation in the crime of technical malversation,” the complainants said in their motion.
Aside from asserting that "elements of technical malversation are not attendant in his case," Aquino also said that the issuance and approval of the memoranda and budget circular is not equivalent to the second element of technical malversation, which is the application of public funds.
"Being merely akin to authorization to spend public funds, 'appropriation' and 'allotment' cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be tantamount to hold a person liable, because both terms fall short of the definition of 'application,' which denotes actual spending," Aquino's comment reads.
The complainants also failed to substantially argue that elements of graft are present in his case, including gross inexcusable negligence and undue injury, Aquino said.
In their motion, the complainants said gross inexcusable negligence is present when Aquino implemented the authority to transfer funds to augment deficient items in the GAA (General Appropriations Act).
"[T]here is undue injury where the hiring of and benefits for personnel in government agencies which are largely time-bound,” they added.
But Aquino said that apart from rehashing their arguments, the complainants "made no further assertions which would prompt the Honorable Office to reconsider its Decision."
Moreover, he said there is lack of probable cause for him to be charged with usurpation of legislative power.
He argued that he only "performed his core executive functions when he utilized what was considered and reported to him as savings and thereafter used savings to augment deficient items in the budget."
"The 'act of withdrawal of funds as savings' cannot be said to encroach upon the legislative powers of government because it is an executive function," he added.
In 2014, the Supreme Court declared several acts committed in the pursuance of DAP as constitutional.
These include the "withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies; and the declaration of the withdrawn unobligated allotments and unreleased appropriations as savings prior to the end of the fiscal year without complying with the statutory definition of savings contained in the GAA."
Another is the "cross-border transfers of the savings of the Executive to augment the appropriations of other offices outside the executive."
Atty. Maria Cristina Yambot of NUPL told GMA News Online that they would no longer file a reply to Aquino's comment. —LBG, GMA News
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Metro Manila subway deal 'sealed' with Japan: Tugade

MANILA - The government said it has 'sealed' the deal for the proposed Metro Manila subway system.
Transport Secretary Arturo Tugade announced that the Philippines and Japan agreed on the P300 billion project during the World Economic Forum in Cambodia.
Tugade said that the Philippines and Japan will sign the agreement this November during the ASEAN Summit in Manila.
Tugade also assured that the project will be transparent and the bidding will be conducted live for all to see.
Apart from the subway and other infrastructure projects, the Philippine economic delegation at the forum said that the Duterte administration also intended to bring down the cost of power in the Philippines.
They noted that the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in the region, and needed new investments in the energy sector.
Government economic managers also said that all infrastructure projects in the pipeline will be finished during Duterte's term.

Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News


Inmate's girlfriend arrested in drug buy-bust

DIPOLOG CITY—The number one target of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Zamboanga del Norte (PDEA-ZN) was arrested in a buy-bust operation in Dipolog City on Friday.
Hanah Atendido, 20, was caught after she visited her boyfriend, an inmate of Dipolog City Jail who is allegedly a drug lord.
PDEA agents bought P500 worth of illegal drugs from Atendido.
“She receives the remittances on their drug trade. They operate particularly in the areas of first and second district in the province,” said PDEA officer Mark Morciella.
Atendido admitted to authorities that they get their supply of drugs from Ozamiz City, the PDEA said.
The suspect was charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. -- Report from Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News


Duterte won't compromise PH sea claims in China's Belt and Road forum - envoy

President Rodrigo Duterte's attendance in the Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing will not compromise the Philippines' claims in the South China Sea, Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said Saturday.
"We are not signing an alliance or treaty here. We are participating in a forum," Sta. Romana said in a press conference in Beijing.
Duterte and his team of economic managers will "proceed from our own national interest under the banner of an independent foreign policy" when crafting deals with their counterparts in China's capital, Sta. Romana said.
"Where there are areas of convergence, we will proceed," he said.
The envoy said the South China Sea dispute may have to take a backseat during the forum as the Duterte administration opts to have a "compartmentalized" approach towards relations with China.
"If you put the disputes in the front and center of bilateral relations and say you have to resolve this first before you can have trade and cultural links, the relations will be frozen," Sta. Romana said.
"The strategy is to put the dispute in a separate track, (but) to put it in a separate track is not to abandon or give up," he added.
China has stepped up militarization and island-building in the South China Sea as it continued to assert ownership over nearly all of the waters, despite conflicting claims of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
This as it continued to ignore a United Nations arbitral ruling invalidating its nine-dash line claim following legal action initiated by the Philippines.
Despite the unresolved dispute, President Duterte has pursued warmer ties with China, even vowing to deviate from the country's traditional alliance with the United States.
In the Philippines' recent hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the bloc's leaders joint statement called for the observance of principles under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, but was silent on continuing Chinese incursions in the waters and the Philippines' arbitration victory.
Duterte is among 28 heads of state expected to take part in the forum set May 14 and 15. His attendance to the global development meet comes just as as his administration pursues an ambitious P8-trillion infrastructure development plan.


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