COVID-19: THE ADVISORY

COVID-19 UPDATES:

September 24, 2020

DILG eyeing to deploy contact tracers on October 1

The government head of the Department of Interior and Local Government said Wednesday they are targeting to deploy hired contact tracers on October 1. “Iyan din ang period na mare-release ang budget sa atin,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a briefing, referring to the P5-billion funds for the recruitment of at least 50,000 contact tracers. The release of the budget is authorized under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.


ERC orders distribution utilities to expedite customer switching

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered distribution utilities to promptly process the applications of customers switching to other retail suppliers, on threat of penalty. According to the regulator, the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) scheme, a program allowing entities with large power needs to choose their own providers, is still being implemented in Luzon and Visayas.


Treasury rejects all tenders for 10-year bonds as yields go up 

The government rejected all bids for its offer of reissued 10-year Treasury bonds (T-bonds) on Tuesday as investors sought higher yields amid expectations the central bank will keep rates steady in the near term. The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) did not award any 10-year T-bonds on Tuesday even as tenders reached P44.507 billion, more than the P30 billion on the auction block. This, as the bonds fetched an average rate of 3.329%, up 60.5 basis points (bps) from the 2.724% quoted for the tenor at the Aug. 12 auction, where it made a full P30-billion award of its offer of the reissued papers.


BSP allows UITF distribution via third parties

Trust corporations will now be allowed to sell unit investment trust funds (UITFs) through individual and institutional agents to level their playing field with banks that have broad distribution networks, the central bank said. In Circular No. 1097 signed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, the central bank outlined the role of branches and marketing officers of trust corporations for the sale of UITFs.


Trade dep’t confident of retaining GSP+, EU concerns being addressed

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez is confident that the Philippines will retain its tariff perks with the European Union (EU), after the European Parliament voted in support of their removal. “This is not the first time that this happened. So we are addressing anyway their concerns — just giving them the right information,” he said in an ANC interview Wednesday.


Senate leaders file bill allowing President to expedite issuance of permits during nat’l emergencies

Senate leaders have filed a bill that will authorize the President to expedite the issuance of licenses and permits during times of national emergencies. Under Senate Bill No. 1844, the President will be granted the power to “suspend the requirements for national and local permits, license and certifications.”

September 23, 2020

PHL GDP contraction seen at 6.5% in 2020

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to contract 6.5% this year, with the Philippines struggling to contain the coronavirus, raising the risk of further lockdowns that will pose a drag on business activity, according to Maybank Kim Eng. “The Philippines and Indonesia are struggling to contain the virus outbreak and may relapse into periodic targeted or localized lockdowns,” it said in a report.


Gov’t seeking to automate port ticketing

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said Tuesday that they are planning to implement an automated ticketing system at all ports by 2021, to cut out fixers and scalpers while improving maritime security. An auction for modern ticketing machines has been scheduled “before the end of the year,” the PPA and the DoTr said in a joint statement.


GSP+ withdrawal could worsen unemployment — MAP

The removal of tariff perks enjoyed by Philippine exports to Europe will hurt various industries and worsen unemployment, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said. The European Parliament last week called on the European Commission to start the procedure for suspending the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privilege enjoyed by the Philippines after the government failed to improve the country’s human rights situation.


Pag-IBIG Fund to miss 2020 housing loan target

The Home Development Mutual Fund, better known by its Pag-IBIG Fund branding, said it does not expect to achieve its loan target this year due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In a Laging Handa briefing, Pag-IBIG CEO Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti said the P100-billion housing loan target is at risk due to disruptions in lending activity due to the outbreak.


Telecom permit approvals top 900 in past month 

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said over 900 telecommunications permits have been approved over the past month, after it ordered local governments to release pending applications. In a statement Monday, ARTA said that 933 telecommunications permits have been approved. PLDT, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. reported that 661 documents have been released, including permits and barangay resolutions. Globe Telecom, Inc. said that 272 of its permits have been approved.

September 22, 2020

Small-business closure rate dwindles to 6% in Aug., Sept.

The percentage of small businesses that remain closed during the lockdown dropped to 6% in August and September, according to the Department of Trade and Industry, citing the results of a limited survey. The study had about 3,000 respondents representing micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) nationwide.


PHL oil companies face tricky recovery as global demand sinks to 2013 levels 

A slow recovery will hold back the domestic oil industry’s financial performance over the remainder of the year, after the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that the pandemic knocked back global demand to levels not seen since 2013. The IEA warned last week of a “treacherous” path ahead for the industry with oil demand growth taking further hits from a renewed rise in coronavirus cases in many countries, the persistence of quarantine schemes albeit in localized form, and work-from-home practices.


DoF releases additional list of rejected tax credits 

The Department of Finance (DoF) said the Commission on Audit (CoA) issued notices of disallowance to four textile firms seeking tax credits, bringing the total rejections to P606 million. In a statement Monday, the DoF said CoA’s most recent rejections totaled P228.71 million worth of disallowed tax credit certificates (TCCs), which the state auditor found to have been granted illegally to the four companies between 2008 and 2012 by the One-Stop Shop Inter-Agency Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center (OSS).


Money service firms linked to suspicious transactions 

A number of local money service businesses were found to have allowed transactions from unknown customers to unverified entities even before the massive Bangladesh Bank heist in 2016, showing the country is an “attractive venue for financial crime,” a report found. The Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) looked into suspicious activity reports (SARs) submitted to the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by the Bank of New York Mellon (BNYM) that involved Filipino subjects with amounts “too big to be left unnoticed by banks and regulators.”


Cabinet cluster seeks P152.4B for climate resiliency program 

The Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR) is seeking a budget of P152.4 billion for 2021 climate and risk resiliency program projects. CCAM-DRR, led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the requested budget is 30% higher than the P117 billion allocated to the program this year.


House OKs creation of Department of Disaster Resilience

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the measure seeking to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), which was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priority measures from his last State of the Nation Address (SONA). With 241 affirmative votes, seven negative votes, and one abstention, lawmakers approved House Bill No. 5989 also known as the “Disaster Resilience Act.” 

September 21, 2020

Philippine external debt ratio lowest among ASEAN peers
The Philippines’ external debt relative to gross national income (GNI) is the lowest among its peer economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as the ASEAN-5, according to the Department of Finance (DoF). Citing data from the World Bank, the DoF in an economic bulletin said the gross foreign debt stock was 20.11% of GNI in 2019, from 19.98% in 2018.


BIR backs time limits on bank AMC bill tax perks

Tax incentives contained in the proposed Financial Institution Strategic Transfer (FIST) law should be subject to time limit, the Department of Finance (DoF) said, citing Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay. Citing Mr. Dulay’s letter to Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, the DoF said Friday that Mr. Dulay told legislators that the tax perks “should not be perpetual but time bound.”

 

TESDA, electronics industry developing certification standards

Electronics exporters are working with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to develop training standards and certification in the sector. “It was recommended for TESDA… to explore the idea of establishing a public-private enterprise-based model for skills standard development and assessment,” TESDA Deputy Director General for Partnerships and Linkages Aniceto Bertiz III said in an online meeting Friday.


Peso rebounds after US signals possible stimulus expansion

The peso rebounded Friday after the central bank launched a bond auction and the US government resumed talks on an expanded stimulus fund to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The pesot closed at P48.395 against the dollar Friday, against its P48.51 finish Thursday, according to Bankers Association of the Philippines data.


Nuclear power possible by 2027, Energy dep’t says

Nuclear energy could be helping power the grid by 2027 at the earliest, according to the Department of Energy (DoE). “Gumawa po ng study ang DoE, in the year 2030, pwede na ipasok ang nuclear power in the energy mix (The DoE prepared a study which found that nuclear power can enter the energy mix in 2030),” Energy Assistant Secretary Gerardo D. Erguiza, Jr. said, referring to the findings under the Philippine Energy Plan.


Trade chief backs Metro Manila's shift to MGCQ with '7 commandments'

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is in favor of easing the community quarantine status in Metro Manila next month as long as Filipinos strictly follow health protocols to curb COVID-19 transmission. Lopez said he is confident the transmission of COVID-19 can be managed even with lenient quarantine rules if everyone follows the "Seven Commandments" proposed for the shelved distancing-reduction rule in public transport. 


Paolo Duterte ally sees Cayetano keeping speakership despite ouster calls

An ally of Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte has expressed doubts that the ouster of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano will still push through despite calls to boot him out of office due to 2021 budget clash among lawmakers. "Para sa akin, 99.99% hindi po [matutuloy]. Mamayang hapon po, tingin ko hindi naman mangyayari iyan," House appropriations panel chair Eric Yap said Monday in an interview with CNN Philippines' Balitaan.


Duterte to discuss human rights, territorial row in first UN General Assembly appearance 

President Rodrigo Duterte will address the United Nations General Assembly this week, where is he expected to give his take on hot issues like the war on drugs and the Philippines' territorial row with China. Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje said Monday that Duterte will be joining the global body's 75th general debate this week, which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the President's first time to face the UNGA during his term, as he refused previous opportunities to fly to New York.

September 18, 2020

BSP requires banks, financial firms to offer 60-day grace period for loan payments

Banks and other financial institutions cannot charge additional fees for past due loans for two months with the passage of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Friday.  BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno signed a memorandum requiring all supervised financial firms to comply with the provisions of the economic stimulus measure meant to boost economic recovery.


DICT pushes digitalization as Philippine gains international recognition

The government's pronouncements were made following the country’s recognition as the top digital riser in East Asia and the Pacific by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness in a recent report that analyzes and ranks the changes in the digital competitiveness of countries over the least three years based on several parameters.


NEDA seeking to reduce PHL reliance on ODA

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is hoping to make the Philippines less dependent on official development assistance (ODA) in preparation for its reclassification as upper middle-income, at which point it will lose access to concessional rates. “With the ODA, as already indicated by Secretary (Karl Kendrick T.) Chua, we have been moving forward to less reliance on ODA as we are expecting to move up to upper middle-income status,” NEDA Undersecretary Jonathan L. Uy said at a Senate budget briefing Thursday.


ADB proposes regional hub to boost tax cooperation

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) proposed to set up a regional hub to promote better cooperation on tax policy and administration across the region.  “I would like to call for the establishment of an effective regional hub on domestic resource mobilization and international tax cooperation in Asia and the Pacific. This hub will serve as an open platform where countries and development partners can collaborate closely to share experiences and practical knowledge, and coordinate on development support,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said in one of the webiners held at the bank’s 53rd Annual Meeting.

 

Imported car sales drop 49%, break month-on-month gains

Imported vehicle sales declined 48.7% in the eight months to August this year and broke a month-on-month uptick due to the two-week stricter lockdown last month. In a report released on Thursday, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID) said the industry’s 21 member companies and 26 global brands sold 29,360 units during the eight-month stretch, down from 57,202 in the same period last year.


PH is chair of Asean tech-voc education council

The regional council was officially launched last 16 September during a high-level ministerial conference hosted by Vietnam. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is the lead proponent of the ASEAN Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council, having proposed its establishment in 2017 during the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN, with the purpose of harmonizing regional initiatives on TVET and responding to the changing demands of the labor market caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


PHL economy’s recovery prospects improving

The Philippines’ recovery prospects have improved as of September based on the latest scorecard of Oxford Economics, putting the country at a higher rank among Asia-Pacific economies. “The updated APAC scorecard continues pointing towards a staggered recovery in the region. But the rankings show some noteworthy shifts compared to the erstwhile Asia scorecard. Northeast Asia no longer distinguishes itself as the H2 recovery leader compared to the rest of the region,” the report published Wednesday read. 


Agriculture sector fails to show improvement despite billions of pesos in funding — Chua

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the agriculture sector has not shown improvements commensurate to the funding support it has received. “The observation is we have been putting hundreds of billions in agriculture over many years, and why is it (that the sector has not helped) farmers rise up the income ladder, and agriculture production growth, which should be at least 2%… (has not been) achieved,” Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said Thursday.

September 17, 2020

Higher power rates blamed on coal-fired power plant shutdowns

A sustainability think tank blamed the rise in average power rates last year on power plant shutdowns, which it deployed as an argument against the continued reliance on coal-fired generating facilities. “The power crisis of 2019, where many of the over 60 instances of red and yellow alerts were recorded during the summer months largely due to unexpected shutdowns of coal-fired power plants, caused price fluctuations that sent electricity rates soaring,” Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development Executive Director Gerard C. Arances said.


BIR extends deadlines for related party transactions

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it extended the deadlines for filing the new related party transactions (RPT) form, acknowledging possible difficulties in compiling the needed information due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. BIR Commissioner Ceasar R. Dulay issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 98-2020 dated Sept. 15, setting new deadlines for the submission of the RPT form, which is an attachment to the annual income tax returns for companies with fiscal years ending in various months of 2020. The initial deadline was Sept. 30.


Philippines is top ‘digital riser’ in East Asia and the Pacific —report

The Philippines has been named the top “digital riser” in East Asia and the Pacific by the European Center for Digital Competitiveness (ECDC). ECDC’s Digital Riser Report analyzes and ranks the changes in digital competitiveness of nations in the last three years based on “digital ecosystem and mindset.”


PHL human capital index score slightly worsens

Children born in the Philippines today will “fail to achieve almost half their potential” productivity as future workers, according to a World Bank report. The Washington-based multilateral lender’s Human Capital Index (HCI) 2020 Update report showed the Philippines’ HCI fell to 0.52 in 2020,  from 0.55 in 2018, partially reversing the gains it had when it improved from 0.49 in 2012.


1-meter distancing to be enforced in public transport pending Duterte decision

A one-meter distance between passengers must be observed in public transport until President Rodrigo Duterte decides on the matter, Malacañang said Thursday. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade issued the directive during a meeting of the government's COVID-19 pandemic response task force, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a tweet.


ADB urged to organize COVID-19 vaccine technical working group

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Thursday urged the Asian Development Bank to create a technical working group with the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and other multilateral bodies on candidate coronavirus vaccines to ensure developing countries' access to these potentially life-saving products. The task force could help package financial assistance to help member-countries of the ADB provide vaccines to their poorest and vulnerable populations, Dominguez said in a symposium hosted by the ADB and WHO.

September 16, 2020

DTI study aims to help PH exporters tap EFTA market 

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will conduct a market study on the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to help Philippine exporters effectively promote their products to EFTA member countries, particularly to Switzerland.


Most PH exporters to EU now registered under REX System

A total of 324 exporters, representing around 80% of all Philippine exporters trading with the European Union (EU), have registered with the EU’s Registered Exporter (REX) System as of August 17, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC).


Reduced physical distancing OK as long as other health measures in place — health experts

While a number of medical experts opposed the easing of physical distancing in public transport, another group of healthcare professionals backed the new rule, saying its risks may be offset by the implementation of other strict measures. In a statement released on Tuesday, a panel of eight medical experts said that the one-meter distance between passengers prescribed by the World Health Organization may be reduced to half or even lower based on evidence from neighboring countries.


NFA ordered to increase procurement from farmers

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to expand its procurement of palay, or unmilled rice, to help prop up weak farmgate prices. During a visit to an NFA warehouse in Tarlac City on Sept. 14, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar also told rice farmers that they will be assisted in transporting their crop from their farms.


LANDBANK approves P330 million in loans under ‘study now, pay later’ program

Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has granted P330 million in loans as of mid-August under its “study now, pay later” scheme, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement on Monday. The DoF said the loans will be extended to four schools that tapped the state-run lender’s P3-billion credit facility after securing approval from the board. Six more loan applications are now up for approval this month while five applicant schools have yet to complete their requirements.


Duterte to decide on fate of transport distancing rule no later than Thursday — Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to decide on the fate of the new public transport distancing policy within the week, his spokesperson said. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force has crafted its fresh recommendations on the much-debated transport protocol, with the chief executive expected to review and decide “no later than” Thursday.


MEMORANDA AND CIRCULARS:

Anti-Red Tape Authority| Memorandum Circular 2020-03-A on Amendment to Memorandum Circular No. 2020-03 Dated 20 March 2020 Re: "Extension of Deadline of Submission of the Citizen's Charter and Suspension of Processing Times in the Delivery of Government Services in Luzon Area in Light of the Imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine" Click here to download
Bureau of Internal Revenue| Bank Bulletin No. 2020-08 on Reiteration of Relevant Policies on the Acceptance of Annual Income Tax Returns and payments Click here to download
Department of Information and Communications Technology| Department Circular No. 008 on Policy Guidelines on the Co-Location and Sharing of Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure for Macro Cell Sites Click here to download
Office of the President| Report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, June 8, 2020 Click here to download
Department of Tourism| Memorandum Circular No. 2020-003 on Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Tourist Land Transport Services Under the New Normal Click here to download


CLICK HERE FOR MORE

The ECCP has consolidated a list of companies
with available medical supplies.

Click here for the list.


GOVERNMENT HOTLINES:

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM ADVISORY

Please be informed that the Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Office, Regional Office National Capital Region (NCR), and Regional Office IV-B are implementing a “Work from Home” work arrangement starting 16 March 2020 until further notice. For any immediate or urgent concern, you email the following:

 
Concern Office Email Address
Administration and Finance Office of the Undersecretary for Administration and Finance rching@tourism.gov.ph 
Budget and Accounting Concerns Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance lgrivera@tourism.gov.ph 
Biddings, Procurement/Purchasing, General Services, Maintenance, Motorpool/Vehicle, Cash Section, Property, and Supply Concerns Office of the Director for Administrative Service and Procurement Management  adminservice@tourism.gov.ph 
HR Concerns Human Resource Division dot.humanresourcedivision@gmail.com 
Contract preparation and other concerns Legal Affairs Service legalservice.dot@gmail.comloestevez@tourism.gov.ph 
Work and Financial Plans (WFP) concerns (for internal stakeholders) Planning Service saymilagros@gmail.commysay@tourism.gov.ph 
For Product and Market Development Concerns (Overseas travel and trade fairs, business/selling missions, concerns on Cruises, English as Second Language courses/schools, Dive Resorts/Programs, Medical and Health Tourism) Office of Product and Market Development opmd@tourism.gov.ph cruisesph@tourism.gov.ph divephilippines@tourism.gov.ph

INFOGRAPHICS:

PRESCRIBING IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES FOR IATF RESOLUTION NO. 12 ISSUED BY THE INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES ON SOCIAL DISTANCING AND BUSINESS OPERATIONS | Click here to download Source: Department of Trade and Industry | Infographics: ECCP

TRACK COVID-19 CASES IN THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH'S NCOVTRACKER | Click here
Source: Department of Trade and Industry | Infographics: ECCP


NEDA'S PROJECTED IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN THE PHILIPPINE ECONOMYSource: National Economic Development Authority's "Addressing the Social and Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic) Originally published on March 25, 2020, on BusinessWorld. Infographic by Bong R. Fortin.