April 23, 2021
The Philippines is mulling to procure the coronavirus booster shot candidate made by American firm Moderna, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said on Wednesday. Moderna offered to sell five million more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines, according to Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19. Galvez, however, said the Philippine government could buy the booster instead. He noted it can be mixed and matched with "any (coronavirus) vaccine."
Gabriela Party Rep. Arlene Brosas on Wednesday lamented the lack of implementation guidelines on indemnifying vaccine recipients who may experience serious side effects after receiving a coronavirus shot more than a month since the local inoculation drive started. The COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February to speed up the immunization program. It allocated ₱500 million for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Immunity Fund.
The US Department of State issued the Level 4: Do Not Travel restriction in accordance with the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The updated Level 4 list included 100 other countries. Previously, there were only around three dozen countries on the department's Do Not Travel alert — the highest of the travel advisory levels.
Medical experts have proposed that the quarantine period for returning overseas Filipino workers may be shortened from 14 to 10 days if they are asymptomatic. The suggestion was in response to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello's concerns that the Labor Department's budget for isolating OFWs in facilities has been dwindling. He said he also heard concerns about the length of quarantine as well as the waiting time before the OFWs get tested. Previously, returning Filipinos get tested immediately upon arriving in the country but this has since changed as the results may not have been reliable.
President Duterte stood by his decision to lower the tariff on pork imports, saying it is just a temporary measure to address rising prices. Under EO 128, the tariff rate for in-quota imports of fresh, chilled or frozen carcasses and half-carcasses, hams, shoulders and cuts and other products will be five percent for the first three months upon effectivity of the order, 10 percent for the 4th to 12th month and 30 percent after the 12th month.
In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday, FInance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III disclosed that the EDC has instructed the Departments of Agriculture, and Trade and Industry to “work towards” the abolition of the MAV system and “set an appropriate rate of a tariff to regulate the importation of agricultural products.” Furthermore, Dominguez, a former agriculture secretary, assured Sotto that the importation of pork under the proposed MAV plus of 350,000 metric tons will enter the country “in batches,” according to his letter.
Around P83.3 billion in income may be lost during the nearly five weeks of stricter lockdown in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said. During a televised Cabinet meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Mr. Chua said about P19.6 billion in workers’ income is sacrificed for every week of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), while P14.7 billion is lost for every week of modified ECQ (MECQ).
The Covaxin and Janssen vaccines can now be used in the country after both were granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. Covaxin is an inactivated virus-based vaccine product that uses a killed form of SARS-CoV-2, one of the oldest and tried-and-tested methods of prompting an antibody response. Meanwhile, Janssen is a single-dose vaccine developed by American drugmaker Johnson & Johnson which applied for an EUA last March 31.
NEDA said in a report that rising food costs due to prolonged supply-side issues, coupled with the steady increase in global oil prices, would largely drive this year’s overall inflation to go beyond the 2-4% target. However, it said supply-side price pressures are still considered “transitory” and are projected to subside later in the year.
The Philippines is the second best investment destination for renewable energy (RE) in Southeast Asia with resources that can generate up to 3,000 gigawatts (GW), and a “highly-liberalized” active spot market, according to a report from HSBC Global Research. HSBC Global Research said the Philippines had a relative score of 2.5, second only to Vietnam which got 2.8, but better than Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
President Duterte’s chief economic manager on Monday reiterated the need to pass the rest of the tax reform packages pending in the Senate to ensure fiscal sustainability amid a prolonged pandemic. In the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program, still pending in Congress were the passive income and financial intermediary taxation bill; real property valuation and assessment reform; higher motor vehicle user’s charge; a new mining tax regime; and general tax amnesty with lifting of bank secrecy for tax fraud cases and automatic exchange of information. These had already been passed by the House of Representatives.
“The lack of control of the pandemic, the inability to acquire vaccines, and the relative distance from export supply chains all factor into the outlook for the Philippines to be among the weakest in the region,” Moody’s Analytics chief Asia-Pacific economist Steven Cochrane said in a report titled “APAC Economic Outlook: Roll Out the Vaccines!” While most Asia-Pacific economies would revert to pre pandemic GDP levels by the middle of 2021, Cochrane said that “by the end of 2021, only Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines will still be struggling to reach this point of their economic recovery.”