27 March 2020
GOV'T PREPARES TO EXHAUST FISCAL LEEWAY, POLITICAL CAPITAL IN DUTERTE'S 'YOLANDA MOMENT'
MANILA A decade of fiscal discipline and record popularity are now being
put to good use by President Duterte vowing to do whatever it takes to
sufficiently counter the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak,
setting aside growth ambitions for a crucial crisis response that can make
or break his legacy.
In the past week alone, around P800 billion in COVID-19 stimulus was
announced, one after the other, by the Duterte administration, majority of
which will be borrowed from the central bank and international lenders like
Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank.
More funds may be borrowed. When asked how much increase in debt is the
government willing to tolerate to respond to the outbreak, Finance Secretary
Carlos Dominguez III said in a text message: I dont know because I dont
know when the contagions curve will be flattened.
We are not reducing the expenditure level of the 2020 budget, he said.
The stream of funding pronouncements appears as a flexing of muscle from the
government chastised for lack of foresight on dealing with the outbreak. The
absence of stimulus similar to those unveiled in Malaysia and Indonesia did
not only put investors on the edge, but also put into question government
resolve to protect the poor from the impact of the outbreak, and the
month-long Luzon quarantine intended to fix it.
This is more than a Yolanda moment for Duterte, Ramon Casiple, executive
director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, a political
think tank. Him being a Teflon president will not work on the series of
crisis we are facing, if they are not handled well.
PHILIPPINES COVID-19 CASES SOAR PAST 700 AS UN WARNS WHOLE OF HUMANITY AT
RISK FROM PANDEMIC
MANILA The Philippines recorded another big increase in the number of new
coronavirus cases on Thursday after health authorities reported 71 new
This brought the national tally to 707 since Department of Health first
detected an infection in late January.
Health Secretary said cases are expected to balloon in the coming day as the
government ramps up its testing efforts. Five laboratories across the
archipelago can now test COVID-19 samples.
Since late January, just over 2,100 test have been conducted in the
The COVID-19 death toll also climbed to 45 after the DOH announced seven new
There are additional 722 patients under investigation and another 6,321
persons under monitoring.
Humanity must fight back
The United Nations warned Thursday that unless the world come together to
curb the spread of the virus, millions of people could die.
COVID-19 is threatening the whole of humanityand the whole of humanity
must fight back," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
Global action and solidarity are crucial. Individual country responses are
not going to be enough, he added.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide surpassed 500,00024,000 of whom
STOP SHARING 'FAKE NEWS' ON EXTENDED LOCKDOWN, MILITARY CONTROL: COVID-19
MANILA - Posts circulating on social media about the extension of the
1-month lockdown of Luzon and military control are "fake news," the
spokesman of the government's coronavirus response task force said Friday.
Authorities have also identified the purported sources of misinformation,
said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told DZMM. The lockdown of Luzon, home
to half of the Philippines' 100 million people, is scheduled to end on April
ABS-CBN News earlier flagged a manipulated image purporting that it reported
a lockdown extension.
"Gusto ko pong linawin na lahat po ito ay puro fake news lamang po. 'Wag po
tayong maniwala na may military control o extended lockdown o may pagsasara
ng Divisoria at ibang public markets natin," Nograles said.
"Please, to the public, do not share. Do not post mga fake news na ito," he
"Hintayin ninyo lang po official announcement. Yung lumalabas na social
cards attributing to some media outlets 'wag po nating paniwalaan.
Napaka-creative ng mga gumagawa ng fake news," he said.
"If it's not coming mismo mula sa IATF o mula sa Pangulo o mula sa DOH, 'wag
po tayong maniwala," he said, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force on
COVID-19 and the Department of Health.
PHILIPPINES EYES 'INDEPENDENT' MANUFACTURING SYSTEM TO BEAT CORONAVIRUS:
MANILA - The Philippine government is helping local companies and scientists
set up an "independent" manufacturing system that will produce globally
scant gear needed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, a regulatory agency
Three textile companies recently told the Food and Drug Administration that
they wanted to convert their facilities to produce surgical masks, while
another group is developing a locally-produced ventilator that will help
COVID-19 patients breathe, said the agency's Director General Eric Domingo.
"Tinutulungan na rin natin sila," he told DZMM.
Some liquor and bio-fuel companies earlier volunteered to make disinfectant
alcohol, supply of which ran short in some stores along with protective
masks, said Domingo.
"Nagkakaubusan po kasi kahit gustong bumili, nag-aagawan po ng supplies [ang
iba't ibang bansa]. Kailangan pong magkaroon tayo ng sariling independent
manufacturing," he said.
DAVAO DEL SUR UNDER STATE OF CALAMITY DUE TO COVID-19
MANILA - The provincial government of Davao Del Sur declared Thursday a
state of calamity that would allow it to tap emergency funds to curb the
spread of the novel coronavirus.
Local officials are set to deliberate Friday on a proposed budget of P20
million to buy protective gear for health workers and aid residents who lost
income due to the lockdown of the whole Davao Region until April 1,
according to provincial disaster officer Christopher Tan.
Part of the budget, he said, would also go to the rehabilitation of the
provincial hospital in Digos City.
The government is monitoring 32 people who showed symptoms of COVID-19 and
some 2,300 others who have no symptoms but had traveled abroad or were
exposed to a carrier of the virus.
DUQUE AGREES WITH MAKATI MED: PIMENTEL BREACHED QUARANTINE PROTOCOLS
MANILA Health Secretary Francisco Duque III agreed with Makati Medical
Center that Sen. Koko Pimentel breached quarantine protocol when he went to
the hospital on Tuesday.
During Thursdays virtual presser of the Department of Health, Duque
expressed the departments stand on Pimentels trip to MMC despite being a
Patient Under Monitoring.
We agree that there was breach of quarantine protocol and this should not
have happened," he said in Filipino.
Pimentel is currently in hot water for breaching home quarantine protocols
after he took a COVID-19 test and felt symptoms such as body pains and flu
on March 14.
Duque said the DOH will follow the lead of agencies tasked to preserve
peace and order and those handling violations on quarantine protocol.
We will fully cooperate with the action of these agencies, he said in
Lawyer Rico Quicho said they are readying a complaint to be filed against
Makati Medical Center in a statement on Thursday thanked the public for its
support to the hospital and its healthcare professionals in denouncing
Pimentel's breach of quarantine protocols.
The hospital also said that it takes note of Pimentel's apology for the
PHILIPPINE BLOOD CENTER SEEKS BLOOD DONATIONS AS SUPPLY DWINDLES AMID
MANILA - The Philippine Blood Center on Friday appealed for help, saying
supply in the blood bank dwindled after most donors were forced to stay at
home after Luzon was placed on a lockdown to curb the spread of the
coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Supply declined after partner agencies that usually sponsor blood donation
drives, like schools and offices, had to temporarily cease operations during
the month-long enhanced community quarantine, Philippine Blood Center
Medical Officer III Dr. April Andal told DZMM.
"Sobrang kaunti po dahil nag cancel 'yung mobile blood donations natin dahil
sa pagtigil ng pasok ng mga estudyante, pagsasara ng mga kumpaniya at
siyempre, bawal na lumabas ang mga tao," Andal said, without disclosing how
many bags of blood are left in their center.
"Dahil bumababa ang supply, nag-release tayo ng panawagan na sana patuloy pa
din silang magdonate ng dugo," she said.
Andal assured potential donors that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through
"Hindi po siya (COVID-19) nasasalin via blood donation, via blood
transfusion so wag po tayo matakot," she said.
"Huwag po sila matakot magdonate ng dugo kasi hindi po nauubos yung mga
pasyente natin na nangangailangan," she said.
Among those who need blood donations are pregnant women, patients undergoing
operations and those who were badly injured in accidents.
Donors will be fetched by regularly-sanitized vehicles from their homes as
public transportation remains suspended under the lockdown, the doctor said.
"Marami po tayong extra precaution para ma-ensure ang mga donors natin na
hindi sila magkakasakit pag nag donate sila ng dugo," Andal said.
"Wala pong admitted na pasyente sa aming institusyon. Kami po ay
COVID-free," she said.
Fear gripped some parts of the country after the highly-contagious disease
infected 707 patients in the Philippines, with 45 fatalities and 28
METRO MANILA'S WATER, AN ESSENTIAL IN COVID-19 FIGHT, ENOUGH THROUGHOUT
Metro Manila will have enough water supply throughout the dry season, which
is essential for hand hygiene and disinfection drives aimed at containing
the coronavirus epidemic, regulators said Friday.
Angat Dam, the region's main water source, was at 197.6 meters early Friday,
higher than its level around the same time last year, said National Water
Resources Board Executive Director Sevillo David Jr.
"Inaasahan po natin na itong summer po ay magkakaroon tayo ng karampatang
suplay bago umabot iyong mga pag-ulan," he told DZMM.
The NWRB, he said, also recently returned the water allocation for Metro
Manila to the normal 46 cubic meters per second, which it previously reduced
to 42 m³/s to conserve supply.
"Partikular ngayong panahon ng COVID, kailangan po natin ng steady supply ng
tubig," he added.
BONGBONG MARCOS' FAMILY, STAFF TAKE COVID-19 TESTS WHICH TURN OUT NEGATIVE
MANILA The entire household of former senator Bongbong Marcos undertook
tests for the novel coronavirus disease. It took them only one day to
receive the result, much faster than average processing and turnaround time
of days or weeks.
"Yesterday, we had ourselves and our entire staff tested for COVID-19.
Fortunately, we all tested NEGATIVE," wrote Marcos' wife, lawyer Liza
Araneta-Marcos, in a statement on Thursday.
Araneta-Marcos sought to deny rumors circulating on social media that her
dying husband flew to Singapore using a private plane of Ilocos politician
"Contrary to rumors currently circulating, my husband is well. His lungs did
not collapse. He was not airlifted in Manong Chavit's plane to get treatment
in Singapore," Areneta-Marcos said in her statement.
"He is not dying. Nor is he dead," she added.
DA EYES HAULING VEGETABLES FROM PROVINCES TO AVOID WASTAGE
MANILA - The Department of Agriculture plans to deploy trucks to haul
vegetables from agricultural provinces and sell the produce in Metro Manila,
Secretary William Dar said Friday, after reports of some farmers throwing
away tons of crops that could not be sold due to the coronavirus lockdown in
Some Cordillera farmers earlier dumped truckloads of carrots into a ravine
after prices of the rootcrop fell to P1 to P8 per kilo due to a surplus and
lack of buyers.
"Sa mga region, may surplus tayo sa vegetables... Kung kinakailangan, 'yung
extreme cases, tayo na 'yung magdala nung vegetable produce na 'yan sa Metro
Manila," Dar told DZMM.
"Meron kaming mga truck sa regional offices... i-mobilize lahat 'yan at
itinda sa Kadiwa areas or ili-link namin sila sa local government units at
pag nabenta na namin yang vegetables na yan, babayaran namin farmers
pagbalik," he said.
Dar said he would also ask the Inter-Agency Task Force if truckloads of
vegetables and other agricultural products could be escorted to the capital
city to ensure that the goods will not be barred in checkpoints.
DUTERTE'S GRANDSON SORRY FOR SKIPPING STORE'S COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS
MANILA - A grandson of President Rodrigo Duterte apologized Thursday for
disobeying a supermarket's precautions against the coronavirus pandemic.
Omar Duterte said he had already sanitized his hands and was wearing gloves
when he arrived at a branch of S&R. This was why he skipped washing his
hands again at the store, he said.
The store's staff "even insisted we enter" after seeing that his group was
already wearing latex gloves, he said.
Omar said he "should have insisted in washing" his hands again.
"I'm sorry for not following the protocols. I was wrong in implying that
applying proper sanitation yourself and putting in gloves was enough reason
for me to not wash them," he wrote on Facebook.
"But I now know that even with all your preparations, protocols are
protocols and no one is above them," he added.
It was not immediately clear which S&R branch Omar shopped in.
He also said it was "rather insensitive of me" to buy shrimp, cajun spice,
lemons, white vinegar, which he cooked at home to celebrate his first
wedding annniversary with his wife.
"I already had in mind that a home-cooked meal and a glass of wine at home
would be the perfect celebration due to the dire times we are facing with
the Corona Outbreak," he said.
"But I now know that this was wrong. Trust me in saying that if I had known
before, that cooking your dinner at home with your family and staying at
home to celebrate your anniversary with your family was seen as a luxury, I
would have chosen to sleep instead," he added.
Omar's father, Deputy House Speaker Paolo Duterte, also apologized for his
son who he said "did not line up to conduct the stringent screening
requirements of the establishment."
"It is with humility that I apologize for the behavior of Omar and his
impertinence shall be dealt with accordingly," said the Congress
representative of Davao City's first district.
COP FACES PROBE FOR BEATING QUARANTINE VIOLATORS
The Philippine National Police is investigating an officer who was caught on
video allegedly beating several Manila residents who went outside their
homes in violation of a Luzon-wide coronavirus lockdown, an official said
The video shows Lt. Col. Rey Magdaluyo, chief of the Sta. Cruz police
station, using a stick to hit the residents of Muslim Town, Quiapo,
including a man who was showing a quarantine pass. The officer also cursed
at the residents, saying that he will shoot anyone who goes out of their
The Manila police is looking into the incident, said PNP chief of
directorial staff Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.
"Sa sitwasyon po kasi ngayon, talagang ang daming matitigas ang ulo and I
can only just imagine itong naramdaman ni Col. Magdaluyo," he told DZMM.
"Pero ang sinasabi nga po ng PNP leadership, hindi natin puwedeng i-tolerate
at hindi namin ginagawa iyong ganyan... Hindi puwede palalagpasin ang
ganyan," he added.
Eleazar also urged the public to obey the quarantine of all households in
Luzon until April 12 to contain the pandemic.
"While we recognize and salute the sacrifices of our frontliners, malaki po
ang gampanin ng ating mga kababayan. Those who stay at home are also heroes
in this battle," he said.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
MATTEO GUIDICELLI SHARES SWEET MESSAGE FOR WIFE SARAH GERONIMO
MANILA Matteo Guidicelli on Thursday night thanked his wife Sarah
Geronimo, who made his 30th birthday special.
In an Instagram post, Guidicelli also thanked those who remembered him on
his special day.
Thank you Mrs. Guidicelli for everything. First birthday with you as your
husband and I will forever cherish every single day with you. These days has
reminded me of how precious life really is. Family, friends, loved ones and
everyone out there, thank you very much for the greetings! God bless us all.
Stay safe everyone, Guidicelli wrote in the caption.
Earlier that da, Geronimo appeared to have surreptitiously hacked
Guidicellis social media account to greet him a happy birthday.
Geronimo and Guidicelli tied the knot last February 20.
ACTOR MENGGIE COBARRUBIAS DIES OF SUSPECTED COVID-19
MANILA Award-winning actor Menggie Cobarrubias passed away this morning
due to suspected novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), his niece
Patricia Prudon confirmed on Facebook.
Prudon first posted that her uncle died "from battling NCOV-19," but later
on said that they lost her uncle "from pneumonia complications."
"Still to confirm if NCOV-19 positive siya. Will keep everyone posted," she
said. "My heart aches that I could not see him one last time. Rest in peace,
Tito Menggie! We love you! Thank you for being a father, a lawyer, a general
and a whole lot more roles to Philippine cinema. You will surely be missed.
Ingat everyone. Stay at home. Don't risk it. To all my Cobarrubias family
please pray for our loved one's soul and his family."
Menggie's wife Gina Jorge Cobarrubias also confirmed the news in a Facebook
Early this week, actor Lui Manansala posted that Cobarrubias was in critical
condition while waiting for his COVID-19 test result.
Cobarrubias, who portrayed a myriad of roles including doctors, starred
alongside Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz in "Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis,"
with Vilma Santos in "Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa?"; with Nora Aunor in
"Kabisera"; and with Bea Alonzo and Charo Santos-Concio in "Eerie," among
FOREX $1 = P 51.07
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on
a rainy Sunday afternoon. Susan Ertz