Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, May 15, 2021.
THE government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination drive is beginning to pick up pace as more vaccine shipments arrive, the Department of Health (DoH) has reported. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Friday the seven-day moving average for vaccinations went up from 67,780 jabs on May 11 to 83,000 jabs on May 13, citing vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.’s report to President Rodrigo Duterte. Vergeire said the DoH had set a new target for the seven-day daily average of 120,000 jabs per day. With more vaccine doses coming in, the target can be achievable, she said. To further ramp up vaccination efforts, the DoH will set up more vaccination centers, Vergeire said. As of May 11, more than 2.5 million individuals have received Covid-19 shots. A little over 2 million received the first dose, while 514,655 received the second dose.
THE NCR Plus is ready for the shift to a general community quarantine (GCQ) with “heightened restrictions,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Friday. Vergeire said studies by government agencies and experts indicate that the Covid-19 situation in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) and the four provinces that make up NCR Plus has levelled off to a point that can justify such a shift. President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to replace the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in NCR Plus to GCQ but retaining strict health regulations.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not order the withdrawal of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea despite the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the disputed waters. Duterte made the statement in reaction to incursions by nearly 300 Chinese militia vessels in the area. He said China must be made aware that there are two Philippine ships in Pag-asa, one of areas where Chinese ships were spotted.
The Philippines’ Rabiya Mateo showed off a winged, flag-inspired outfit during the 69th Miss Universe national costume competition on Friday in Hollywood City, Florida. The 24-year-old Iloilo native wore the creation of late Filipino avant-garde designer Rocky Gathercole that featured red and blue wings and three stars representing the colors and symbols of the Philippine flag.
The Philippine government has expanded the scope of its travel bans to include Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an attempt to prevent the entry of the dreaded Indian variants of Covid-19. Palace spokesman Harry Roque, Jr. said in a statement travelers coming from Oman and the UAE or those with travel history to these two countries within the last 14 days preceding arrival shall be prohibited from entering the Philippines from 12:01 a.m. of May 15 to 11:59 p.m. of May 31. Roque added that travel restrictions on India and its four neighboring countries remain until the end of the month. The DoH earlier reported that the Indian variant B1617 was detected in two overseas Filipino workers with no travel history to India. Both were asymptomatic after recovering from Covid-19.
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is likely to conduct a hybrid presidential debate in 2022 amid Covid-19 health restrictions that include a ban on mass gathering. While he confirmed that there will be a presidential debate, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said because of the existing health protocols, it would be best “if it is hybrid,” adding it can be done in several ways without violating the health guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed the resumption of Career Executive Service written examinations by the Career Executive Service Board (CESB). According to the IATF-EID Resolution dated May 13, it also allowed the operation of CESB assessment centers. The task force said the activities allowed will be subject to observance of the minimum public health standards at all times.
Topping business, bond issuances by the national government and higher gold prices increased the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) to a three-month high of $107.25 billion as of the end of April. Preliminary Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed on Friday the figure was 2.30 percent and 17.93 percent higher than the $104.48 billion and $90.94 billion at end-March and a year earlier, respectively. End-April’s amount was the biggest foreign reserves level since the $108.67 billion at end-January this year.
In sports, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is just a supplemental Joint Administrative Order (JAO) away from clearing its teams to hold scrimmages in National Capital Region (NCR) plus, according to the Games and Amusements Board (GAB). President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night placed NCR plus under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions from May 15 to 31. PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) chairman Butch Ramirez said they are waiting for the approval of the supplemental JAO, which is in the office of Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Antonio Contreras and Yen Makabenta are today’s front page columnists. Contreras talks about the face of the six-year joke, while Makabenta talks about the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine.
Today’s editorial believes the Sinovac study should put an end to vaccine skepticism in the country. Read a 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 week ahead.