Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, March 5, 2021.
The government will not force the public to get vaccinated for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles declared on Thursday to dispel apprehensions that some businesses adopted a “No-vaccination, no-work” policy to compel their employees to get a jab. Nograles was reacting in particular to a statement by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas that he was considering requiring all those employed in the city to be vaccinated before being allowed to go to work. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on Wednesday warned employers against firing workers who refuse to get inoculated. Bello said a worker’s refusal for vaccination is not a ground for termination and also said the government is not forcing the vaccines on the countrymen.
With more people getting vaccinated for Covid-19, Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Maria Concepcion 3rd sees the economy returning to prepandemic levels in the last quarter of this year. Concepcion, who is also the founder of Go Negosyo, considered the arrival of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines as “the start of our country’s economic recovery.” A shipment of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac arrived in the country last Sunday, and 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 arrived on Thursday night.
As the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to rise, Health officials on Thursday met with Metro Manila mayors to discuss ways to control the spread of the virus amid threats from new variants of the disease. Octa Research, which tracked the spread of the virus since last year, said the capital is experiencing a surge in cases that is reminiscent of the spikes in other countries that have both the B117 and the B1351 variants of the virus.
Metro Manila will have sufficient supply of water this year, Malacañang assured the public on Thursday. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said the supply of water for Metro Manila residents would be enough as the government hastens the implementation of various infrastructure projects to address water requirements in the region. Nograles said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) gave the assurance during the meeting of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet on the country’s infrastructure projects related to water security in Malacañang on Wednesday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called on the government to stick to its priority list in allocating the Covid-19 vaccines donated by the Covax Facility. In the list, medical frontliners are the first to get a Covid- 19 shot, and the government must not change the order of priority, according to WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe. Doing so could mean the Philippines could be denied more than 44 million free doses of vaccines donated by the Covax Facility, Abeyasinghe warned.
SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday underscored the need to sustain efforts to bridge the digital divide to provide internet coverage to more villages. Saying that most villages have a public school, the chairman of the Senate basic education panel has proposed the construction of cell sites in these schools to ensure nationwide internet coverage. In a Senate committee hearing last November, the Department of Education (DepEd) reported that out of the 22 million public school learners, only 3.6 million have access to the internet and only 1.9 million have their own laptops.
READ: ‘Stop quarrying in Marikina watershed’
A group of environmentalists urged President Rodrigo Duterte to cancel mining agreements inside the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL) in Rizal province to protect threatened flora and fauna in the area. In a statement released on World Wildlife Day, the Upper Marikina Watershed Coalition asked Duterte to “urgently rescind” all existing Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) inside the 26,126-hectare UMRBPL and nearby protected and conserved areas before his term ends next year.
BUSINESS: Govt raises P463B from RTB issuance
Topping business, the government has secured a total of P463.3 billion at the last day of its latest retail treasury bonds (RTB) offer, according to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr). The amount was more than 15 times the P30-billion issue size announced by the Treasury bureau last month. National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon told reporters on Thursday that the total figure was composed of P411.8 billion in new money and the P51.5 billion raised through switch offer.
In sports, Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on Wednesday made another push for the passage of a measure that seeks to promote the safety and welfare of Filipino boxers and combat sports athletes. Pacquiao, who sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 2077 or the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission Act of 2021, sought the support of his colleagues for the passage of the measure, which according to him is long overdue. The legislator explained that over the past decades, the Philippines has produced a number of champions in the world of professional boxing and other combat sports.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao wants the Office of the Vice President abolished, while Torres talks about the fluidity of Philippine politics.
Today’s editorial calls out Palace spokesman Harry Roque, Jr. over his recent public statements regarding “a year-long vacation”. 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 Friday ahead.