Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, May 14, 2021.

READ: New AIDS wave hits PH

The Philippines is in the midst of a “new wave” of HIV/AIDS — human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome — cases that have spread mostly among young people. Paula Munderi, United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Prevention team leader, said the country had the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world, with 111,000 people living with HIV or PLHIV reported in 2020. Data from the Department of Health (DoH) Epidemiology Bureau indicated that from January 1984 to February 2021, there were 84,610 cases of HIV/AIDS, broken down to 855 cases every month or 30 cases every day. Of these cases, 804 are males and 51 were females, and 80 percent of those infected were between 15 and 34 years old. Munderi said AIDS-related deaths jumped by 450 percent despite the availability of free life-saving treatment for AIDS in 160 facilities across the country.

READ: ‘NCR Plus’ now under ‘GCQ with heightened restrictions’

METRO Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — also known as the “NCR plus” — have been placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) with “heightened restrictions” from May 15 to May 31 amid a decline in new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended the easing of quarantine restrictions in the NCR Plus. Roque said the IATF has also recommended Santiago City, Quirino province, Zamboanga City and Ifugao province to be placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 31.

READ: Situation in NCR hospitals improve

The number of hospital beds in Metro Manila and adjoining provinces reserved for Covid-19 patients has increased after a slowdown in coronavirus cases, an organization of private hospitals said Thursday. Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) President Dr. Jose Rene de Grano said in a television interview that hospitals in the NCR Plus bubble were beginning to decongest. In its May 12 report, OCTA Research flagged Zamboanga City as one of the areas outside Metro Manila where Covid cases have dramatically risen. The city had a 47-percent increase in infections. Based on the Department of Health’s Covid-19 tracker, as of May 11, Zamboanga’s bed capacity was at a high 70.7 percent.

READ: P55B needed for teen jabs, booster shots

The government would need an additional P55 billion for its Covid-19 vaccination program if it would inoculate teenagers and procure booster shots, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said on Thursday.  The vaccination program was allotted an initial budget of P82.5 billion. This amount was for the procurement of vaccines to inoculate around 55 percent of the population. Of this amount, P72.5 billion — sourced from multilateral loans and the national budget — is available for disbursement. To raise the additional funding requirement, Dominguez said the government will most likely need to reallocate funds.

READ: Health workers get Pfizer jab

Health workers in several cities in Metro Manila got inoculated with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 on Thursday. At the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila, 222 medical workers from the city’s six district hospitals and Manila Health Department (MHD) got jabs, the Manila Public Information Office said. Manila has 5,070 government health care workers, with 3,691 of them from the six city-run hospitals and the rest from the Manila Health Department. City Health Officer Dr. Arnold Pangan urged all of Manila’s medical frontliners to get a jab while there are more than enough doses available. On Tuesday night, the city received about 1,170 vials or 7,020 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the national government.

READ: Council tags CPP members ‘terrorists’

THE Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) tagged 19 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), including peace consultants, as terrorists. In Resolution 17 that was approved on April 21, 2021 but was only made public on Thursday, the ATC named officials of the CPP’s central committee, including its founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison and his wife Julieta, and Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma, who were ordered released by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, as terrorists.

BUSINESS: BSP sees positive Q2 economic growth

Over to business, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects the Philippine economy to finally post a positive growth in the second quarter of the year. Central bank deputy governor Francisco Dakila said the newly signed the Republic Act (RA) 11534 or the “Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (Create) Act,” and the RA 11523 or the “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act” will impact growth starting in the second quarter of the year and well into 2022.

SPORTS: Marcial throws more jabs at PSC, ABAP

In sports, though he did not mention any names, Tokyo Olympics-bound boxer Eumir Felix Marcial seemed to throw another jab at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP). After the government-run PSC and Philippine boxing’s governing body ABAP did some ‘counter punches’ to Marcial’s initial claim that he has not been getting support for his Tokyo Olympics preparations and training in the United States last year, Marcial explained why he brought out his grievances in public. The 25-year-old Marcial, however, acknowledged that he is still receiving his monthly allowance from the PSC, but said it wasn’t enough to cover his training in the US where he also made his first professional boxing fight last December.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao hits a former diplomat over the latter’s statements on the Panatag Shoal, while Torres talks about elections in the time of a pandemic.

Today’s editorial discusses fixing the flaws in country’s shield against Covid-19. Read the full version on the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.


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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe Friday ahead.

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