May 21, 2021
The Department of Health will implement a policy in which the local governments will not announce in advance the brand of COVID-19 doses they will roll out in vaccination sites, Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje announced. She explained this is to avoid incidents similar to what the local governments of Manila and Parañaque dealt with early this week. Crowds trooped to inoculation sites in those cities where Pfizer-made vaccines are being offered.
The Philippines on Thursday received another batch of 500,000 doses of China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine. Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana earlier said the newly-delivered vaccines will be the last tranche of Sinovac doses that will arrive this May.
Senate Bill 1840 - which seeks to amend the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 - was passed on third and final reading, with 20 lawmakers in favor and no negative vote or abstention. The measure is seen to aid the country's economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic by inviting more foreign enterprises to invest in the Philippine retail market.
Philippine Export performance continues to lag behind a global rebound led by East Asia, a United Nations (UN) report said. The report showed that the Philippine export volatility was 0.11, while Chinese and Korean exports were less vulnerable at 0.09 and 0.07, respectively. Singapore’s export volatility was at 0.01, and Thailand’s was at 0.04.
The simultaneous vaccination of essential workers and indigent Filipinos will only be carried out for now in areas with high COVID-19 cases while waiting for the vaccine supply to stabilize, a health official said on Wednesday. Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the expansion of the vaccination priority list will be implemented in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Pampanga, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao, collectively known as NCR+8, for now.
Authorities are aiming to achieve herd immunity in Metro Manila and several other areas dealing with high COVID-19 cases by November, Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said. However, Galvez added herd immunity may be achieved as early as September or October if the vaccination pace can be increased to a daily rate of 8,000 to 10,000 shots.
Senator Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano, chair of the Ways and Means committee, raised the Senate Bill No. 2208 to plenary, which set to amend a Republic Act (RA) No 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act by extending the availment period to June 14, 2023. Ms. Cayetano also noted that the committee removed the requirement for “proof of settlement” to be submitted by the heirs, after expert witnesses at the hearing cited it as a major reason for not availing of the amnesty.
The risk rating is based on the 2021 Sectoral Risk Assessment for the Securities Sector, which the SEC conducted with support from the Asian Development Bank. The report covered 304 brokers, dealers, investment houses, underwriters of securities, government securities eligible dealers (GSEDs), investment company advisers, mutual fund distributors and investment companies supervised by the SEC.
Local governments’ revenue-generation capabilities are expected to get a boost from a project financed by Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is aimed at shoring up real property tax collection. To recall, the ADB and the Philippine government in July last year signed the $26.53-million loan which would fund initiatives to strengthen property valuation mechanisms, introduce new digital tools for accurate and transparent reporting, and update property valuation assessments and tax maps, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement.
The House plenary resumed deliberations on proposed amendments to restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution and set them for approval possibly next week. House constitutional amendments committee chair Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the chamber is expected to pass on second reading the proposed constitutional amendments in Resolution of Both House No. 2 (RBH2) next week.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed a law renewing the franchise of DITO Telecommunity for another 25 years, a document from Malacañang showed. The law gave Duterte the right to suspend or take over and operate DITO’s facilities and equipment, among others, “in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order.”
Nine areas dubbed by the government as “economic centers” vulnerable to the coronavirus are set to receive a significant chunk of the vaccines yet to arrive in the country. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing that these “focus areas,” which include Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, as well as Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, will get 42% of the incoming supply.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Inter-Agency Task Force included mayors and governors in the A1 group, which was originally for health care workers. A number of mayors were issued show cause orders at the onset of the national vaccination program in March for supposedly breaching the priority line. They were eventually moved up to fourth in line with other essential economic workers. Vergeire, however, said the violation should not be linked to the new rule because of successive vaccine deliveries in the past weeks.
Expectations of easing inflation lowered interest rates across the board and allowed the Bureau of the Treasury to raise P35 billion from short-dated T-bills on Monday. The continued rise in public debt, however, has raised concerns about its possible impact on the country’s credit ratings. An international bank, for instance, warned of a possible credit-rating downgrade as the share of public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) as of end-March ended slightly higher that the manageable threshold of 60 percent.
George T. Barcelon, the newly appointed chairman of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport), said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) needs bigger funding to support the export industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) will be restructured to create more regional presence, its top official said. Regions with more ecozones will have their own offices, PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said. The agency is eyeing approval of the employee compensation classifications under the new structure before the end of the year.
The decision to hold sessions from Monday to Thursday until Congress adjourns session on June 4 was reached following an hour-long all-senators caucus before the chamber opened session. The caucus also reached a consensus on the bills that the chamber will prioritize for passage in the next three weeks, particularly the proposed amendments to the Public Services Act; the proposed Retail Trade Liberalization Act; the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Bill and the proposed extension of the amnesty for the payment of estate tax.
The government and the private sector are working to further accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and resolve logistical challenges, Sen. Bong Go said. He said they also tackled the possibility of fast-tracking the vaccination of a wider population, particularly those in the A4 and A5 category. Go stressed the need to expedite vaccine rollouts in critical areas such as NCR Plus, which covers Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the freezers should be monitored “Monday to Friday, 24/7 and the checking should be done every four hours”. On May 10, the authorities in the municipality of Makilala in Cotabato discovered that 348 doses of Coronovac were damaged after a brownout hit the place where the vaccines were stored on May 7 and the freezer was not turned back on because it was unplugged.
Broken down, data obtained from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) showed 10 applications for IT center amounting to P15.5 billion and one inquiry for a P573.93-million IT park as of April 30. Peza Director General Charito B. Plaza said the investment promotion agency has asked President Duterte to lift Administrative Order (AO) 18—which bans new ecozone developments in Metro Manila— in order to allow further job creations amid pandemic.
Malacañang finally released a copy of Executive Order (EO) No. 134 (s. 2021), which increased the tariff for pork to 10 percent (in-quota) and 20 percent (out-quota) for the first three months, and 15 percent (in-quota) and 25 percent (out-quota) from the 4th to the 12th month. EO 128 took effect last April, but has now been replaced with EO 134, which will take effect this month once published in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has cleared 8 power projects, with capacities reaching nearly 2,600megawatts (MW), for the conduct of grid impact studies (GIS). Among the biggest power projects in the list are the 1,250MW Stellar Land Dual-Fuel Power Plant of Ingrid3 in Tabangao, Batangas and the 1,200MW GNPower Sisiman LNG Combined Cycle Power Plant in Mariveles, Bataan of GNPower.