World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
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 don’t know because I don’t

know when the contagion’s 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

infections.

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

Philippines.

The COVID-19 death toll also climbed to 45 after the DOH announced seven new

fatalities.

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 humanity—and 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 500,000—24,000 of whom

died.

 

 

 

 

STOP SHARING 'FAKE NEWS' ON EXTENDED LOCKDOWN, MILITARY CONTROL: COVID-19

TASK FORCE

 

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

12.

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

said.

"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:

REGULATOR

 

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

said Friday.

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 Thursday’s virtual presser of the Department of Health, Duque

expressed the department’s stand on Pimentel’s 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

Filipino.

Lawyer Rico Quicho said they are readying a complaint to be filed against

Pimentel.

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

breach.

 

 

PHILIPPINE BLOOD CENTER SEEKS BLOOD DONATIONS AS SUPPLY DWINDLES AMID

LOCKDOWN

 

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

blood transfusions.

"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

recoveries nationwide.

 

 

METRO MANILA'S WATER, AN ESSENTIAL IN COVID-19 FIGHT, ENOUGH THROUGHOUT

SUMMER

 

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

Chavit Singson.

"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

Luzon.

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

Friday.

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

house.

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

Guidicelli’s 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

post.

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

many others.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

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

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