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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | December 21, 2021

December 21, 2021

ECCP Online

Agri damage due to Odette reaches ₱362.3M

In its latest bulletin, the DA said the storm affected 12,906 farmers and fishermen from Calabarzon, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Central Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga. This also translates to 20,319 metric tons (MT) production loss, affecting 23,438 hectares of agricultural areas. The DA expects the number to still rise as more reports are collected. Assessment through its regional offices is still ongoing, it added.

Omicron five times more likely to reinfect than Delta, study says

The risk of reinfection with the Omicron coronavirus variant is more than five times higher and it has shown no sign of being milder than Delta, a study by Imperial College London showed, as cases soar across Europe and threaten year-end festivities. The results were based on UK Health Security Agency and National Health Service data on people who tested positive for COVID-19 in a PCR test in England between Nov. 29 and Dec. 11.

WHO: Omicron will ‘most likely’ replace Delta as dominant variant

The COVID-19 Omicron variant will “most likely” replace Delta as the most dominant variant, the country representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday, December 17. “It is very likely that the Omicron variant is going to replace the Delta variant as much as the Delta variant replaced the earlier Alpha and Beta variant. We could expect that the Omicron variant is going to replace the Delta variant given this level of transmissibility that it has been showing in early stages in affected countries,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe told ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

PH economy and business in 2021: Slow, fragile recovery

A rebound is underway for the Philippine economy and local businesses alike this 2021, but still not at full speed. With COVID-19 restrictions relatively looser than those imposed last year, more businesses and workers were able to get back on their feet and recover slowly from the losses incurred. Growth also swung to positive territory in the second quarter, effectively lifting the country out of recession. The economy expanded by 4.9% on average as of end-September, on track with the higher target band forecasted by President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team.

Innovation in basic sectors to serve as PH engine of growth: NEDA

Innovation is needed in the most basic sectors to attain the country's 2040 vision of eradicating extreme poverty and becoming a high-income country, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said. “The country’s economic performance has exceeded expectations in 2021. We expect to recover to the pre-pandemic level in early 2022. However, as this pandemic has shown, we cannot simply return to business as usual… Except for some city-states, no country has achieved high-income status without first addressing agricultural productivity,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said on December 15 during the Inclusive Innovation Conference 2021 organized by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Telcos, internet providers urged to beef up capacity for holidays

Telecom regulator National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered all telecom and broadband services providers to fast-track their maintenance works and increase network capacity to address the anticipated surge in internet traffic during the holidays. In a December 17 memorandum order signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, the agency directed all public telecommunications entities and internet service providers to fast-track maintenance efforts, increase internet/broadband capacities, and ensure that business continuity and disaster recovery protocols are in place and functioning 24/7.

2022 election spending seen aiding PH recovery

With election fever on and as agencies fast-track projects ahead of the spending ban during campaign season for the 2022 polls, economists watching the Philippines have turned more bullish and jacked up their growth forecasts for this year and next year. For its part, the Department of Finance (DOF) on December 20 said sustained mass vaccination, reopening of more productive sectors from pandemic restrictions, and further opening of the economy to foreign investors would be key to bringing the Philippines’ annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth back to the “stellar” prepandemic average of above 6 percent.

Restoration in ‘Odette’-hit areas to counter economic impact

Devastation in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao wrought by Typhoon Odette is expected to hit economic recovery but restoration activities in the coming days can counter its economic impact. In a report released on Monday, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort said damage to agriculture and productivity losses are the visible effects of the recent typhoon that hit the country.

Poor to be center of recovery strategy: NEDA chief

The poor will be the focus of the government as the country recovers from the pandemic, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said. In a statement for the 2021 first semester poverty statistics report Friday, Chua said the government achieved four years ahead, or in 2018, the 2022 poverty goal of lifting six million Filipinos out of poverty.

PH, Korea sign loan accord revving up Covid-19 vax program

The Philippines and Korea signed on Friday an agreement for a USD100 million loan that would boost the Philippine government’s ongoing nationwide coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination program. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, on behalf of the Philippines, and Country Chief Representative Jaejeong Moon, representing the Export-Import Bank of Korea - Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEXIM-EDCF) signed the agreement for the second phase of the Program Loan for Covid-19 Emergency Response Program - Vaccination Program (PLCERP II). Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Inchul attended the signing ceremony.

PH, Korea expands pact on fisheries cooperation

The Philippines and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Monday to formalize the arrangement that will ensure the food safety of fish and fishery product exports. The Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) said the MOU will boost the relationships between the two countries as they plan to further improve technological innovations. “[This is] in terms of Fish Biotechnology, establishment of Food Safety laboratories, and support for the conservation and management of fisheries projects in Guimaras,” DA Undersecretary for Agro-Industrialization and Fisheries Cheryl Nativadad-Caballero said in an interview with Philippine News Agency.

ADB okays $2-M grant for CIADP2

The Asian Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday approved a $2-million (P100 million) grant to support the Philippine Competitive and Inclusive Agriculture Development Program (CIADP2) that will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA). In a virtual launching ceremony, ADB Philippine Country Director Kelly Bird signed the grant agreement with Agriculture Secretary William Dar. The CIADP2 aims to reduce income inequality by expanding economic opportunities in the country's farm-fishery sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Build, Build, Build’ bill for creative industries filed in House

A bill has been filed in the House of Representatives calling for long-term investment in the creative industries, which the measure’s author called resilient during downturns and “crisis-proof,” with the objective of making it account for a larger proportion of the economy. Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda of the second district of Albay said his House Bill No. 10613, or the proposed Build, Build, Build for Creative Industries Act, seeks to emulate South Korean investment in its creative industries after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis to diversify its economy, which had been dominated by manufacturing.

Duterte orders lower property taxes for IPPs, penalty condonation

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday signed an executive order (EO) lowering the real property tax (RPT), interest, and penalties on the property, machinery, and equipment of Independent Power Producers (IPP) operating under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement. The order was justified as a means of protecting the finances of the National Power Corp. (NPC) or the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) and insulating the government from any spillover impact if the two companies become financially unstable if IPPs are unable to operate.

IT-BPM prime candidate to diversify export base – Lopez

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector will take the lead in “diversifying” the export base in the medium-term export development plan. “We really need to diversify our exports since now, a big chunk of our exports are accounted for by basically the big exporters and big sectors like electronics at 60%, our other agriculture products and processed food,” Mr. Lopez said during the Laging Handa press briefing on government TV.

World Bank evaluating $200-M PHL fisheries loan

The World Bank is considering a proposed $200-million loan for Philippine fisheries by February, according to project documentation posted by the bank Wednesday. The seven-year project aims to improve fisheries management and enhance the value of fisheries production in coastal communities. The appraisal date was Dec. 14 and the estimated board date is on Feb. 28. The project aims to develop a planning framework for fisheries management, and plans to enhance the economic value of fisheries to communities by investing in projects that reduce post-harvest losses and expand production. Investments will be made mostly in public infrastructure and private enterprise projects.

‘Odette’ may dampen PHL recovery

Agriculture and productivity losses caused by Typhoon Odette could significantly impact fourth-quarter economic expansion, economists said. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the government is currently prioritizing immediate relief operations to mitigate the impact of the typhoon on affected communities. Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) brought heavy rains and destructive winds over central and southern Philippines. It first made landfall in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte on Thursday. Surigao del Norte may have suffered around P20 billion in damage, according to provincial officials.

PHL secures P14-B loan from France

The Philippine government signed a €250-million (about P14-billion) loan agreement with France’s development agency to support local governments’ disaster response, the Department of Finance (DoF) said. The DoF in a statement said the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is providing the policy-based loan to support the decentralization of disaster risk reduction and climate change management to the local government units.

PEZA pitches PHL to more potential Japanese locators

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said it is making a bid for more Japanese investment in the Philippines as the pandemic disrupts supply chains for manufacturers worldwide. “The Philippines takes pride in our young Filipino workforce with high proficiency in the English language, are college graduates, dependable and hardworking,” PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza said in a statement on Monday, December 20.

Philippine education spending trails behind region, PIDS study shows

Philippine education spending still lags behind regional peers despite strong growth over more than two decades, contributing to poor international testing performance, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said. In a discussion paper “Education Spending and Schooling Quality in the Philippines,” PIDS fellow Michael R.M. Abrigo found that education spending per person in the Philippines grew faster than the recorded gross domestic product (GDP) per person over the same period.

Govt freezes prices of LPG, kerosene in areas under state of calamity

The government imposed a 15-day price freeze on liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene products in areas placed under state of calamity after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, the Department of Energy said on Sunday, December 19. "Pursuant to the 17 December 2021 declaration of a State of Calamity (SOC) in certain areas, the price freeze on household LPG and kerosene is now in effect. This means that for 15 days following the SOC, prices shall remain at the prevailing levels on the date of the declaration," the DOE said in a statement.

Calax advances green goal

MPCALA Holdings Inc. (MHI), a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), yesterday unveiled Cavite-Laguna Expressway’s (Calax) first fully-electric security vehicle. As part of its goal of becoming a green highway, the toll road firm will transition its entire fleet of traffic and security vehicles in Calax into environment-friendly electric vehicles (EVs). Prior to this, the company had been using an electric bus as a shuttle for its employees. MHI also announced it will put up e-vehicle charging stations along Calax for its fleet and other e-vehicles plying the expressway.

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