February 18, 2021
President Rodrigo Duterte has certified urgent proposed measures that would ensure availability of national funds to compensate Filipinos in case they die or experience serious side effects after receiving COVID-19 shots. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. announced on Thursday in a Malacañang briefing that Duterte issued the certification for Senate Bill 2057 and House Bill 8648, both of which provide for the establishment of an indemnity fund and speedy procurement of vaccines in the country.
Authorities say Pfizer has yet to settle its indemnification agreement with the country, while there are manufacturing complications in the deal with AstraZeneca. Sinovac, meanwhile, cannot ship vaccines to the Philippines sans emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed a memorandum order "exceeding the 15% limit on advanced payments for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines," his spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement. The country's procurement law prohibits the government from paying for pre-ordered goods, unless with prior approval from the President.
President Rodrigo Duterte is carefully studying the recommendation to place the entire Philippines under the most lenient modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) by March, Malacañang said Tuesday. The President also wants to tackle the issue in a Cabinet meeting set on February 22, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized local government units to make advance payments for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, an official said on Thursday. A copy of Duterte's memorandum will be issued later Thursday, he told reporters in an online briefing. The order sets a 50-percent limit for advance payments, said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque.
Despite several warnings from health experts, Metro Manila could shift to the most relaxed form of community quarantine by March now that mayors have agreed to the proposal of economic leaders. Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco says the 17 mayors were split during their voting, but those in favor won by one vote, 9-8, for the National Capital Region to shift from general community quarantine to modified GCQ.
The World Health Organization on Thursday said the Philippines might see an upsurge in COVID-19 cases if there is an overall easing of quarantine restrictions instead of targeted measures amid the threat of new variants while the country's vaccination program has yet to start.
Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the country could post year-on-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the second quarter as the government further eases restrictions and rolls out vaccines. Pernia added that the economy might not return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2022 partly due to the government's sluggish pandemic response.
The Bankers Association of the Philippines welcomed the signing of the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer bill into law, saying it would help in the country's economic recovery. The measure is seen as an improved version of the Special Purpose Vehicle Act of 2002, which was enacted in response to the Asian financial crisis. It now covers lending companies and other institutions licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to perform as credit-granting companies.
Persons aged below 18 years old may become "supercarriers" of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, should age restrictions in Metro Manila be eased, a member of the OCTA Research group warned Tuesday. Currently, the IATF has allowed persons aged 15 to 65 in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas to step out of their residences. However, all cities in Metro Manila, which is also on GCQ, have not allowed individuals aged below 18 years old to visit malls while the GCQ status is still in effect.
The Philippine Stock Exchange sees at least seven companies going public this year despite lingering uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the seven, four will be REIT (real estate investment trust) listings.