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Epic Battles: UBER, the Bautista Saga, That Damn Bird Flu
Juicy conflicts to talk about at your next lunch date or cocktail party.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Uber Slapped with One-month Suspension

On Monday, The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered the immediate one-month suspension of transport network company Uber for allegedly violating its previous order to stop accrediting new units starting July 26, 2017.  Indignant commuters made their displeasure felt on social media.

‘Cruel and Absurd’

Senator Grace Poe lashed out at the LTFRB, saying the one-month suspension is “cruel and absurd.” The senator is the chair of the Senate committee on public services. “I am aghast that this agency that committed before the Senate to resolve the issues has just imposed a cure that will only make the disease much worse,” she continued.

Tens of Thousands Stranded

On Tuesday morning, passengers found that their Uber app did not work, an apparent effect of the LTFRB suspension order. However, Uber Philippines posted on its Facebook page that it has filed a motion for reconsideration with the LTFRB, and claimed that its operations will continue until the motion is resolved.

In the same post on its Facebook page, Uber claimed that tens of thousands of passengers were left stranded by the suspension order, and called for the urgent resolution of the issue for the sake of the riding public.

Martin Bautista Backs Up Andy

Martin Bautista, brother of embattled Comelec chair Andres “Andy” Bautista, has come to the defense of his brother. On August 14, Martin told ANC that he believes the SALN of his brother is accurate. He also explained that he has joint investments with Andy worth $1.7 million and P8 million.

Martin is a doctor in the United States specializing in gastroenterology. He said their family considers Andy their treasurer because of his business acumen and skill in investing money. However, Martin concedes that he does not know the full value of the family’s investments because the bank passbooks were taken by Patricia, Andy’s estranged wife.

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‘Kill Yourself’

Asked whether he thinks Andy is telling the truth, Martin revealed that he believes the accusations are not true and that he has told Andy to kill himself if they are. Martin said he has also called on the NBI, the BIR, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to determine which of the documents held by Patricia are genuine and which are fake. 

Andy Bautista is currently being probed by Congress on the results of the 2016 barangay elections, which is a separate issue from the corruption allegations. “This should not taint the elections. This should not cast any doubt on the outcome of the elections. Walang dayaan dun (There was no fraud there), Martin said.

Avian Flu Outbreak

After escaping the avian flu outbreaks that purged Asian poultry farms in 2003, 2004, and 2009, the Philippines has declared an outbreak of H5 virus for the first time. It's already affected 200,000 chickens, not counting other birds such as ducks and migratory birds.

Report Sickly Birds, But Do NOT Kill

Agriculture Secretary Manuel Piñol has urged the public to report migratory birds and smuggled ducks from China that seem sick, but not to touch, kill, or trade them. He believes these smuggled ducks may have brought the virus into the country.

While the virus strain does not seem to be harmful to humans, the Department of Agriculture plans to kill over 200,000 chickens within the one-kilometer radius of poultry farms in Pampanga. Birds will be culled in a humane and painless manner: gassed with carbon dioxide, placed in plastic containers, and then buried.

Egg Layers Hardest-hit, Chicken Prices Decline

Layer chickens, or those that are bred to produce eggs, have been hit hard by the latest outbreak of avian flu. However, the Department of Agriculture has allayed fears that the strain is deadly to humans, saying that tests made have come back negative for the highly deadly H5N1 strain that ravaged Asia in the last decade. Retail prices of chicken meat declined from P160 to P135 over the weekend.

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Charlottesville Protests

Over the weekend, the world woke up to the surreal news of a pro-white demonstration in the U.S. city of Charlottesville, Virginia, which had turned violent.

It began when the city planned to take down Confederate monuments around the city. This was opposed by white supremacist groups, Neo Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. Virginia had been one of the 11 Confederate states of America from 1861 to 1865 that supported slavery. It tried to secede from the United States after its 1860 elections when Abraham Lincoln won on a platform that promoted anti-slavery ideals.

Some 157 years later, Confederate symbols seem to hold political and moral weight among Americans, as seen in the violent clashes that occurred over the weekend. Members of white supremacist groups marched to Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove Confederate monuments. They were met by counter-protesters whom they surrounded and attacked. In the midst of the ensuing chaos, a Dodge Challenger driven by alleged Nazi sympathizer Alex Fields drove into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer who had supposedly joined the counter-protesters to stand against hate and bigotry.

Many Americans, including the Governor of Virginia, spoke out against white supremacists, telling them to go home and never come back.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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