March 30, 2021
As the government rolls out the simultaneous vaccination of healthcare workers, elderlies, and people with comorbidities, the Health Department on Monday named seven illnesses that qualify for early access to COVID-19 vaccines. With over 14.5 million Filipinos living with comorbidities, the list was limited to seven illnesses for now due to the scarce supply of vaccines. There is no such limitation for senior citizens.
Jogging, biking, and other exercise-related activities are allowed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Malacañang said Monday. However, this must be done within the vicinity of the individual’s residences or within their barangays or communities, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
The government is not closing doors on a possible extension of the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also the chairman of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said all options remain open when it comes to measures needed to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr. John Wong, an epidemiologist and member of the IATF Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics, on Monday said it will take more than one week to stop the spread of the infection. He suggested extending it to 10 days. The spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jonas del Rosario, said 14 days to one month of strict restrictions will be necessary.
The government initially announced that the simultaneous vaccination in the country will start in May but on Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government will now vaccinate senior citizens and people with comorbidities at the same time as healthcare workers starting Sunday. The Health Department has yet to announce the official registration period for people with comorbidities. Here are the links to the pre-registration websites for the vaccine drive in the Greater Manila area.
The government’s gross borrowings nearly tripled to P710.4 billion in January, after a fresh P540-billion loan from the central bank was credited, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) reported. Gross domestic borrowings went up by 411% to P680.76 billion in January from P133.18 billion a year ago. This was attributed to the P540-billion cash advance from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) approved late last year which was credited to the Treasury in January.
BOI Executive Director for Industry Development Services Maria Corazon H. Dichosa told reporters it’s impossible to put up a vaccine plant this year even if partnership agreements on the matter are settled before the year ends. Should this be the case, however, the “earliest signs” of a vaccine facility will still be seen by 2022 or 2023, Dichosa added.
The Department of Finance (DoF) may allow individuals and companies to amend their annual income tax returns (ITRs) without penalties and provide tax refunds, instead of extending the payment deadline amid the pandemic. The deadline for filing ITRs for corporate and individual taxpayers is on April 15. Last year, the deadline was moved three times during the strict lockdown in the capital region.
The business sector heaved a sigh of relief with the signing of the long-awaited corporate tax reform measure a day before lapsing into law, but continued to weigh the impact of the veto of nine provisions. Also, the Department of Trade and Industry moved to adopt the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP) following the enactment of CREATE. The SIPP is a list of investment sectors qualified to apply for fiscal incentives under the measure.
While the current restrictions are “more forgiving” than previous tighter lockdowns, Moody’s noted these are in contrast to the relaxation of measures elsewhere in the region where infections are low or going down. The debt watcher affirmed its Baa2 credit rating with a stable outlook for the Philippines in July last year, saying the country’s “strong fiscal position” will shield it from the effects of the health crisis. A stable outlook means that a country’s credit rating is likely to be maintained over the next 18 to 24 months.
The week-long lockdown in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will likely reverse any gains made in the early part of the first quarter and further dampen investor and business confidence, John Paolo R. Rivera, economist at Asian Institute of Management said in a Viber message on Sunday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured financial assistance for workers who will be affected by the one week implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in the NCR Plus bubble. In a briefing Saturday, Roque said the government is now finalizing the source of funds and the guidelines for the distribution of cash aid.
The government will now vaccinate senior citizens and people with comorbidities at the same time as healthcare workers starting Sunday. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said hospitals and local government units are encouraged to craft a "substitution list" consisting of vaccinees from the A1, A2, and A3 sectors. A1 refers to medical fronliners, A2 to senior citizens, while A3 covers persons with comorbidities.
In a virtual briefing, Transport Assistant Secretary Mark Steven C. Pastor said public utility vehicles can ply the roads of the Greater Manila area at 50% maximum capacity, or one seat apart, servicing authorized persons outside of residences (APORs) during the week-long lockdown.
Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Vice President Nicanor Briones on Sunday said the President's decision to endorse boosting the volume of pork imports while lowering the tariffs in the country was "ill-advised." The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura or SINAG also slammed the President’s move, adding the Department of Agriculture was not able to refute arguments raised by stakeholders during previous hearings at the Senate and the House of Representatives.
94% of Filipinos worry about catching COVID-19 but 61% do not want the vaccine
Pulse Asia on Friday said it conducted a survey from February 22 to March 3 this year, asking 2,400 adults how they feel about the COVID-19 situation. About 94% of them said they are concerned that either they or their family members may get infected. During this time, the country was still recording less than 3,000 new cases per day and the total was nearing 600,000.