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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | January 20, 2022

January 21, 2022

ECCP Online

Alert Level 3 displaces 11.5K workers: Bello

Some 11,500 employees from the private sector have been displaced due to the Alert Level 3 Covid-19 classification in Metro Manila and other areas of the country, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Tuesday. He said the number is way below the Department of Trade and Industry’s estimate that the Alert Level 3 status will displace 100,000 to 200,000 workers.

DOLE releases guidelines on ₱5K cash aid for workers affected by Alert Level 3

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released on Thursday the guidelines for the issuance of the ₱5,000 one-time cash aid to private sector workers affected by Alert Level 3. A total of ₱1 billion will be allocated for the program, called the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) 3, according to Department Order No. 232. DOLE said this will “cover workers and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic where Alert Level 3 or higher was declared from January 2022 onwards.”

Gov't planning new round of Bayanihan, Bakunahan

Authorities are discussing a new round of the National Vaccination Days, or Bayanihan Bakunanhan, said National Task Force on COVID-19 Chief Implementer Vince Dizon Wednesday, although no dates have been revealed. “We are waiting for the Omicron surge to decrease because we know that our health workers and LGUs are having a really difficult time. We will let the surge go down and in the next weeks we will have a new round of National Vaccination Days nationwide,” Dizon said at the Laging Handa briefing.

BOI pledges hit P655B in 2021; target missed

The Board of Investments (BOI) approved around P655 billion worth of pledges last year, 34.5 percent lower than the 2020 level of P1 trillion and falling far short of the BOI’s lowered yearend target due mainly to surges in COVID-19 cases that prompted recurring lockdowns. “The approved investments of the BOI still hit the Php600-billion mark before the end of 2021, lower by 30-35 percent of its P905 billion target as attributed to the rise of Delta cases and extended investors timeline for finalizing studies, decisions, and registrations,” the BOI said in a statement.

PHL seen to remain a laggard in ASEAN

The Philippine economy is likely to be among the laggards in Southeast Asia this year as policy direction in pandemic management remains unclear, analysts said. At Fitch Ratings’ Credit Outlook Asia Pacific 2022 forum, the debt watcher said it will continue to monitor the country’s debt metrics and the fiscal policy of the upcoming administration. “When you think about Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, these are countries that have been deeply hurt by the pandemic, and still don’t see any clear light as to how they will approach 2022, in opening up their economy, drawing foreign tourists to come back, which is such a critical component of their economy,” Taimur Baig, managing director and chief economist, Group Research at DBS Bank said at the virtual forum on Wednesday.

NEDA urges private sector to increase productivity as PHL pursues high-income status

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the private sector should help increase productivity as the Philippines recovers from the effects of the pandemic and pursues high-income status. “(An) issue I want to bring up — which requires significant support from the private sector — is enhancing or increasing productivity,” he said at an event organized by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines on Tuesday, January 18.

BoI sets P1-trillion investment goal

The Board of Investments (BoI) is targeting to approve P1 trillion in investment pledges this year, despite the threat from more variants of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This year’s goal is 53% higher than P655.4 billion worth of investment approvals in 2021, but lower than P1.018-trillion investments in 2020. “Buoyed by 2021 FDI (foreign direct investments) results as well as the healthy pipeline of strong investment leads, both foreign and domestic, and with the reforms that we are anticipating to still be passed in the next months, we are confident of hitting P1 trillion in BoI-approved investments this year,” Trade Secretary and BoI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement on Tuesday, January 18.

PHL eyes climate change policy loan from ADB

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is in the initial stages of analyzing a policy loan program that will help address climate change in the Philippines. The program would address local policy changes in social inclusion, clean energy, electric mobility, climate financing and food security, the ADB said. “Climate change impacts are estimated to cause a decline of between 9% and 21% of agricultural productivity by 2050,” the multilateral lender said in its initial poverty and social analysis released on Tuesday, January 18.

ILO sees 2022 PHL jobless at 1.1 million, warns unemployment picture understated

The International Labour Organization (ILO) projected Philippine unemployment numbers at 1.1 million in 2022, about 10% higher than pre-pandemic levels, but warned that unemployment data may undercount the extent to which people exited the work force during the public health crisis. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic triggered “a large exit from the labor force, which does not count as unemployed,” according to Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Philippine country office.

Philippines to vaccinate 77 million by end-March

The Philippines aims to fully vaccinate 77 million people against the coronavirus by the end of March, according to the presidential palace, as the government tries to boost defenses against more contagious variants. “We expect 77 million Filipinos to be fully vaccinated by the end of the first quarter given the rate of our vaccine rollout,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told a news briefing on Tuesday, citing vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. About 90 million people will have been fully protected against the coronavirus by end-June, he added.

Lawmaker: Leave Cha-cha to next Congress, President

A House deputy speaker on Tuesday urged his fellow lawmakers to leave the issue of Charter change (Cha-cha) to the incoming 19th Congress. Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez made the appeal a day after the House of Representatives referred Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7 to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, which Rodriguez previously chaired. “Obviously, we have no more time to tackle the resolution and other Cha-cha proposals before we adjourn for the election campaign in two weeks, on February 5. So let’s allow the next Congress to decide on Cha-cha,” the lawmaker said.

Digital transformation projects launched

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has 49 projects in the first phase of its 10-year Digital Transformation (DX) Roadmap, 14 of which have already been launched or implemented as of the last quarter of 2021, the Department of Finance (DOF) said. In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, the BIR said 26 of the 49 DX projects involve elevating taxpayer experience and innovating BIR service processes, nine are on enhancing administration and the BIR’s support services, another eight are on aligning policies to a BIR digital workplace and six more are on enabling the digital backbone of the bureau.

PH improves COVID scorecard in Nov

The Philippines’ pandemic response has significantly improved in November 2021 versus the previous month, amid the implementation of alert levels, faster vaccine rollout and a balancing in terms of economic recovery, according to a government scorecard released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Rosemarie Edillon, NEDA undersecretary, said in a virtual briefing yesterday the Philippines’ overall score in the National Act Plan (NAP) 4 scorecard is 6.98, which is closer to the perfect score of nine.

RCEP, 2 other treaties ratified soon

All three treaties pending ratification in the Senate will be up for discussion on 24 January, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III assured on Tuesday. Sotto gave the assurance despite the extended suspension of plenary sessions this week amid the spike in coronavirus infections among Senate personnel. “There are three treaties that are pending. It was sponsored by Sen. Pimentel yesterday. We could not approve it on the same day, anyway so we’ll have two weeks to do that,” he said.

Slow FISTC rollout due to ‘strong’ PHL banks

Five asset management companies have been set up since the enactment of the law almost a year ago allowing the creation of these entities to enable banks and other credit-granting institutions to offload bad loans and non-performing assets they have accumulated during the pandemic. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said two of these five Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Corporations (FISTCs) are 100-percent Filipino-owned while the rest have Japanese and Swiss investors.

Workers in food, retail bear brunt of COVID

A new report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows the impact on Filipino workers in wholesale/retail and tourism sectors. The World Employment and Social Outlook Trends 2022 showed the share in employment of wholesale and retail in the fourth quarter of 2019 was nearly 20 percent. The share in job losses from the second quarter of 2019 to the same period in 2020 was about 25 percent. Employment in the wholesale and retail trade sector rose in the third quarter of 2020 then dipped in the last quarter.

NCR remains under below Alert Level 4 threshold: Palace

The National Capital Region (NCR) has not yet reached the threshold to trigger an Alert Level 4 escalation as it maintains a below 70 percent bed utilization rate, Malacañang said Wednesday. Based on government parameters, Alert Level 4 is declared when an area's Covid-19 average daily attack rate (ADAR) and two-week growth rate reach high levels, and its health care utilization rate hits the 70 percent mark. “If the three metrics reaches high, the ADAR, the two-week growth rate, and bed utilization rate, which is 71 percent and up, then that is the time we will escalate to Alert Level 4,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting presidential spokesperson, said.

WB: PH jab rollout still slow; lag likely caused case spike

The slow pace and low rate of vaccination compared to its neighbors may be to blame for the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the Philippines, according to the World Bank. In a report published on Wednesday, the World Bank’s Philippine office said “vaccination continued to lag regional peers” in the Philippines. “The slower vaccination and higher mobility during the holiday season are the likely causes why the Philippines is one of the first to experience an Omicron variant surge in the region, recording higher cases per capita than other Asean countries, as of Jan. 11,” the multilateral lender noted.

INVEST IN HEALTH CARE: 7.1% GDP growth possible

The Philippine economy could grow by 5.6 percent instead of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) projected 6 percent this year amid the emergence of new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variants, according to a preliminary report by the multilateral agency. However, with increased spending on health care, the economy could also expand by 7.1 percent, the preliminary findings of the COVID-19 Country Assessment Report- Southeast Asia: Recovering from the Pandemic said. Discussing the report during a virtual briefing yesterday, James Villafuerte, ADB senior economist for the Southeast Asia department, said Southeast Asia’s economic recovery remains tentative, uneven and sensitive to the volatility of the pandemic.

Four provinces under Alert Level 4, 15 areas under Alert Level 3 from Jan. 21 to 31

Malacañang on Thursday announced the imposition of the stricter Alert Level 4 in four provinces and Alert Level 3 in 15 more areas in the country due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. The new alert levels will start from Jan. 21 to 31. Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, and Northern Samar have been elevated to Alert Level 4 from Alert Level 3. Alert Level 4 areas have a moderate to high-risk classification for COVID-19 transmission and healthcare capacities are higher than 70%, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

PH has $49B in untapped export potential: study

The Philippines has an unrealized export potential of $49 billion, according to the Export Potential Assessment (EPA) report released by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The untapped amount is about half the $107- billion total export potential of the Philippines in the products covered by the study. The study is part of the ARISE Plus Philippine Project, a four-year project funded by the European Union (EU), which is focused on building the competitiveness of the Philippines.

BIR to roll out alcohol tax stamps this year

After years of delay, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) this year planned to start affixing tax stamps on alcoholic drinks to better monitor excise payments just like the scheme on cigarettes. The list of the BIR’s priority programs and projects issued by Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay on Thursday (Jan. 20) included the integration of the alcohol industry in the enhanced internal revenue stamps integrated system (Irsis).

ADB: PH has biggest pandemic-induced output gap in Asean-

The gap between the Philippines’ economic growth amid the prolonged COVID-19 crisis and its pre-pandemic potential was the biggest in Asean-5 as jobs recovery remained weak, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Thursday (Jan. 20). The Manila-based ADB and think tank Moody’s Analytics also flagged risks from the current surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron strain, which could add pressure to weak health systems like that in the Philippines.

Slower growth likely due to Omicron

The Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to grow slower than previously expected this year as economic activity is impacted by the Omicron-driven surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections, Moody’s Analytics said. Moody’s Analytics in a note on Thursday said it now expects the Philippine economy to grow by 5.6% this year, well below the government’s 7-9% target. This is also lower than the 6.4% growth forecast given in October 2021.

Unemployment to persist after PHL economic rebound — ADB

The Coronavirus pandemic will have long-term effects on Philippine employment even after the economy rebounds, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said. Despite recent improvements in the jobs situation, ADB Senior Economist James P. Villafuerte said the unemployment rate is still above the long-term trend, leading many Filipinos to shift to informal and precarious work. Unemployment, he said, has disproportionately affected young people, women, and low-skilled workers. “Although the unemployment rate has eased since 2020, millions of workers are still jobless and working fewer hours and taking part-time jobs,” he said at an online event on Thursday.

Globe expands 5G roaming coverage

Globe Telecom Inc. is expanding its 5G roaming services to more countries in Europe in partnership with international telco operators. Globe expanded its 5G roaming coverage with the recent addition of Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, and France to serve more Filipino travelers. The company tied up with Belgium’s Proximus, Luxembourg’s Tango, and Spain’s Telefonica to make the services possible. The Ayala-led telco said Latvia, Netherlands, and Austria are also expected to join the list in the coming weeks, bringing the number of Globe 5G roaming-ready countries to 40.

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