Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, February 27, 2021.
The Philippine economy has the “essential elements” for staging a recovery this year. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno made the promising outlook during The Manila Times Economic Forum 2021 on Friday. Diokno said multilateral agencies expect the economy to grow by 5.9 percent to 6.6 percent this year after contracting by 9.5 percent in 2020. The projections almost match the national government’s forecasts of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent for 2021, he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the ceremony on Sunday for the first shipment to the country of a Covid-19 vaccine. Place spokesman Harry Roque Jr. confirmed the President’s attendance in a text message to reporters on Friday. The Department of Health (DoH) and the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 (NTF) refused to confirm the Sunday arrival of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, saying only that the shipment will arrive “within the next couple of days.” In a joint statement, the two agencies did confirm that the arrival ceremony would be at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.
Covid-19 cases in Pasay City rose by 160 percent in just a week as a coronavirus tracking firm noted a steady rise of infections in Metro Manila. Pasay, which had 31 cases in the previous reporting week, tallied 86 cases in the current reporting week, according to Octa Research. As many as 55 of Pasay’s 201 barangay (villages) are under localized lockdown. The surge comes as 2,651 new Covid-19 cases were recorded Friday in the country, the highest one-day increase since October 19, 2020, when there were 2,604 cases.
President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as the sole agency to investigate Wednesday’s shootout in Quezon City on Wednesday involving members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said on Friday that with the NBI on the case, the joint inquiry announced earlier by the PNP and PDEA will be called off. Agents from PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service and members of the Quezon City Police District’s Special Operations Unit exchanged fire for almost an hour Wednesday in front of the Gotesco mall on Commonwealth Avenue in what appeared to be a drug bust that ended in a deadly fiasco. Killed were two policemen, a PDEA agent and an informant. Four other people were wounded.
The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) has identified 14 priority bills, including urgent economic measures that it wants to be legislated and enacted into law before the 2022 national elections period starts. Speaking at The Manila Times Business Forum on Friday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said the Ledac came up with a list of about 14 proposed legislative measures, including the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery or the Guide Bill, and amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the bill expediting the procurement and administration of Covid-19 vaccines in the country, Sen. Christoper Lawrence “Bong” Go said on Friday. The Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 was passed by the Senate on Tuesday and the House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the measure on the same day.
HEALTH CARE workers at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) have a choice in selecting a vaccine that has a higher efficacy rate, a spokesman said on Friday. Dr. Jonas del Rosario told The Manila Times in a telephone interview that the vaccination of health workers in PGH was not mandatory and “they have the right of first refusal…. we will have to tell them what we know about the vaccine and they will get an informed decision.” Del Rosario issued the statement following a protest by the All-UP Workers Union earlier in the day, demanding that they should be inoculated with a vaccine that was safe and has a higher efficacy rate. The protest stemmed from a Malacañang announcement that the Sinovac vaccine from China will be arriving on Sunday and will be rolled out to health workers in at least 30 hospitals, including PGH.
REGIONS: Media twit ‘tokhang’ vs leftists
Members of the press here lashed out at the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Council (RLECC) for planning to impose what they described as a virtual gag on the media a la “tokhang” with the proposed implementation of a measure against left-leaning individuals as the plan will be a direct infringement on press freedom. In a press statement, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC), the largest and oldest media organization in Northern Luzon, urged the Cordillera Regional Peace and Order Council to outrightly reject the plan against perceived leftists, including members of the media, because it will impede the performance of their duties and responsibilities as journalists.
In business, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has stressed the importance of fiscal sustainability and solid financial system to the Philippines’ economic recovery. During The Manila Times Economic Forum 2021 held on Friday, Dominguez said while the government expects the economy to post a strong rebound and grow and the range 6.5-7.5 percent this year, it is also aware that it will take more years for the domestic output to fully recover to where it was before the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Topping sports, boxing legend George Foreman thinks mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor can defeat Sen. Manny Pacquiao. In an interview with English newspaper The Daily Star, former world heavyweight champion George Foreman said McGregor, an Irish mixed martial arts champion, has the punching ability to defeat Pacquiao in a professional boxing match. Foreman, however, added that McGregor should quit the United Fighting Championship (UFC) and focus on boxing.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta again debunks the use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19, while Tulfo airs his side of his inoculation of a smuggled vaccine.
Today’s editorial discusses the nurses for vaccine exchange by the Department of Labor and Employment. Read the full version on the paper’s Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.
With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe weekend ahead.