January 29, 2021
BSP to tap into phone tracking data to study PH economic activity
At an online press briefing, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said that the information --- scrubbed clean of individual users' identifying information --- will enhance the agency's surveillance toolkit by giving more accurate insight on the pace of the country's return to pre-pandemic activity amid the gradual opening of the economy.
The agriculture department earlier urged President Rodrigo Duterte to set a price ceiling on these goods. Supply shortages due to the African swine fever and financial difficulties of broiler raisers have been blamed for the escalating prices of pork and chicken, respectively.
The Philippines ranked in the bottom quarter of 98 nations evaluated for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, lagging behind its Asian peers, according to a study released Thursday. The Philippines garnered an average score of 30.6 using six indicators in the 36 weeks that followed its hundredth confirmed case of COVID-19, said the Lowy Institute.
The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has approved AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, making it the second product to be granted authorization in the country. The Philippines has procured 17 million more doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine through tripartite agreements with the private sector and local government units. About 300 companies and 39 LGUs from across the country pitched in for the vaccine purchase.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday that agriculture output, which contributes about a tenth to gross domestic product (GDP) and a fourth of the country’s jobs, shrank by 1.2% in 2020, a reversal from the 0.3% growth in 2019. This was the first time the agricultural output saw an annual decline since 2016’s -1.5%.
Preliminary data from the PSA said that the value of merchandise exports fell 0.2% to $5.7 billion in December, reversing the 4% increase seen in November. This drove the full-year export tally to $63.8 billion, or 10.1% lower than 2019 exports, better than the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) 16% decline estimate for 2020.
The Philippine economy shrank by another 8.3% in the last three months of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple consumer spending and business activity, bringing full-year economic growth to -9.5% in 2020.
Solon ‘fairly optimistic’ to get House nod for economic amendments in the Constitution
Rizal Rep. Michael Duavit said he is “fairly optimistic” about getting a three-fourths vote required to push for the proposed economic amendments in the 1987 Constitution. He noted that most of the negative standpoint are due to fear of what might happen and what and how lawmakers are doing the deliberations.
The 2021 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report released on Tuesday said that Manila’s prospects as a real estate investment destination have dropped over recent years. The Philippine capital ranked as high as third in 2017, then dropped to 18th a year after.
The House of Representatives approved on second reading the bill that will authorize the country's president to suspend scheduled contribution hikes of the Social Security System.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire expressed hopes the country could achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 next year or in 2023. Herd immunity means most of the population is immune to an infectious disease.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said while the country’s doctors believe colchicine has the potential to treat COVID-19 because of its anti-inflammatory properties, “sufficient evidence” is still needed to prove its efficacy against the disease.
The cheaper and non-invasive COVID-19 saliva testing is set for nationwide rollout on February 1, Philippine Red Cross chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon said on Wednesday. "Our goal is to go nationwide by Feb. 1,” Gordon said in a statement. The PRC opened on Monday its saliva-based testing services in Mandaluyong City, where its headquarters is located, as well as in its laboratory in Port Area, Manila.
The Department of Health and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said passengers allowed to enter the country are no longer required to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival. Instead, they will be sent straight to a facility for quarantine then undergo a swab test five days after their arrival in the country. This new rule will start on Feb. 1 and will cover all incoming passengers, regardless of where they came from.
The Philippines is negotiating for 10 million jabs against the novel coronavirus from Johnson & Johnson, an official leading the inoculation drive said on Tuesday, as the country raced to secure vaccine doses. Washington may authorize the US-developed vaccine for emergency use in "2 weeks or 3 weeks from now", and supply may arrive in the Philippines in the third quarter of this year, said Galvez, who is also the Philippines' vaccine czar.
Senator Nancy Binay on Monday filed Senate Bill 2015 or the Vaccine Indemnification Fund Act, a measure which mandates pharmaceutical companies to contribute to the fund that will be used "to compensate and indemnify identified vaccine recipients who sustain injury in connection with the use of vaccines and where adverse effects are attributable to the vaccination."
COVID-19 response chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. on Tuesday said the Inter-Agency Task Force will tackle the possibility of extending to 21 days the compulsory 14-day quarantine for those allowed to enter the Philippines amid the faster-spreading coronavirus variant.
IMF sees deeper 2020 economic crash, partial rebound in 2021
The Philippine economy shrank deeper than expected in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said ahead of the release of official government figures. In its January World Economic Outlook Update, the global lender said gross domestic product likely plunged by 9.6% last year due to the pandemic, deeper than the state's current forecast of a -8.5% to -9.5% contraction.
PH expands ban to foreign travelers from Czech Republic over new COVID-19 variant
Foreign travelers from the Czech Republic are banned from entering the Philippines from Jan. 28 until Jan. 31, Malacañang said Friday, after the UK COVID-19 variant was detected in the European country. Roque added that foreign passengers traveling from or who've been to the Czech Republic within 14 days before their arrival in the Philippines before Jan. 28 will still be allowed to enter the country.