World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
7 August 2020

LOCSIN, POMPEO DISCUSS US POLICY SHIFT IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

 

MANILA — The top diplomats of the Philippines and the United States

discussed Washington's latest policy declaration on maritime disputes in the

South China Sea.

The US Department of State said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about the recent change in US

policy in a call.

The two foreign ministers also discussed "US support for Southeast Asian

coastal states upholding their sovereign rights and interests consistent

with international law, and opprtunities for further US-Philippine maritime

cooperation."

"The two secretaries also discussed the strong economic, security, and

people-to-people ties that bind our two countries," the US Department of

State said in a readout.

Pompeo, in a tweet, described his conversation with Locsin as a "good call"

as they talked about shared interests in the South China Sea.

The US top diplomat said the alliance between the two countries is vital to

a free and open Indo-Pacific.

 

 

LOCSIN ORDERS CHECK ON CHINESE SURVEY SHIP NEAR RECTO BANK

 

MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Friday ordered a

check on the reported presence of a Chinese survey vessel near Recto or Reed

Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

Citing data from ship tracking intelligence MarineTraffic, Twitter user

@JAVAPRINCE4 posted photos of the track of Chinese survey ship Xiang Yang

Hong 4.

According to MarineTraffic, the Chinese research ship departed Guangzhou,

China on July 22 and arrived in the area of Recto Bank on August 6.

In response to this, Locsin asked the DFA Office of Asian and Pacific

Affairs to look into the reported presence of the Chinese vessel in

Philippine exclusive economic zone.

"I know there was permission for a US survey ship, then a French one though

I can't remember when that was from the undiminishing pile of sheets on my

table," Locsin tweeted Friday morning.

"What I know is there's very little interest in marine surveys of [South

China Sea] by Western outfits; they don't think much of the prospects in our

neck of the woods," he added.

Around the same time last year, President Rodrigo Duterte banned foreign

marine survey ships in the Philippine exclusive economic zone following

several reports of Chinese survey ships entering the country's waters.

The Duterte administration warned that it will enforce an "unfriendly"

response against foreign vessels passing through Philippine territorial

waters.

Then presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said all foreign vessels

passing through the country's territorial waters must get clearance from the

government in advance of actual passage.

 

 

PHILIPPINES ENTERS ECONOMIC RECESSION IN SECOND QUARTER

 

The Philippine economy officially entered a recession in the second quarter,

an expected economic collapse as a result of the pandemic.

Gross domestic product (GDP), or the sum of all products and services in an

economy, plunged 16.5% year-on-year from April to June, following a 0.7%

contraction in the first quarter.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

Finance chief vows economic bounce-back in second half

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III pledged the economy will bounce back

from a record slump in the second quarter during the second half of the

year.

"We will deliver better economic outcomes in the final half of the year,"

Dominguez, chair of the Duterte government's economic team, said in a

briefing Thursday.

The economy plunged to a recession with a 16.5% drop in the second quarter,

following a 0.7% contraction in the first three months.

 

 

ABS-CBN FRANCHISE DENIAL LINKED TO HOUSE SPEAKERSHIP

 

MANILA — Does the rejection of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal have something

to do with the scheduled change of leadership in the House of

Representatives later this year?

Several lawmakers believe so, citing a report that Speaker Alan Peter

Cayetano has allegedly asked the President to let him stay in his post as a

“reward” for the rejection of the network’s franchise.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Parañaque

Rep. Joy Tambunting all believe that the decision of the legislative

franchises committee to reject the network’s application was political and

an act of subservience to the Palace by its congressional allies.

They warned that the franchise issue might have an impact on the

term-sharing deal on the speakership post between Cayetano and Marinduque

Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Atienza cited the possibility that Cayetano might retain the speakership and

the turnover of the House leadership to Velasco might not push through in

October after delivering the President’s wish with the rejection of the

ABS-CBN franchise.

“We shouldn’t allow that. A gentleman’s agreement is a gentleman’s

agreement. It should be honored no matter what,” he stressed.

Lagman agreed with Atienza’s opinion.

 

 

'CORRUPT OFFICIALS' MARRING PHILHEALTH'S SHIFT TO DIGITAL, MORALES CLAIMS

 

MANILA - Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Ricardo

Morales on Thursday said "corrupt officials" in the agency have been trying

to cast doubt on the firm's push to automate systems and make irregularities

easier to spot in the state-run insurance company.

Morales claimed that some PhilHealth officials have been trying to discredit

the executive board's decision to purchase equipment by saying that the

items were overpriced and were being used to mask corruption.

He did not name the officials.

"It cannot be scandalous or fraud... it is a budget process in mid-stride so

hindi nagtatapat-tapat yung amount," Morales said in an online press

conference, referring to the agency's alleged P2.1-billion proposal to

procure digital equipment.

"It is not fraudulent because it is still incomplete... The budget is not a

contract. Even if the budget is approved, it will not result in obligations

in any party," he said.

Around P25 million was needed for PhilHealth's "integrity security sweep"

because the license for their anti-virus and security software was about to

expire, said Jovita Aragona, PhilHealth's senior vice president for

Information Management Sector.

The procurement of laptops was placed in 2 separate items amounting to

several millions because PhilHealth's purchase of some units in 2019 were

delayed, and had to be included in the succeeding budget, she said.

Alejandro Cabading, a certified public accountant who was part of the

agency's board of directors, earlier said in a Senate investigation that

Morales and other high-ranking officials approved the purchase of overpriced

equipment and software.

Meanwhile, there were also multimillion-peso discrepancies in the purchase

of 15 units of "network switches" due to varying specs, Aragona said

Thursday.

PhilHealth opted to purchase the more expensive option because it included a

3-year warranty, value-added tax, delivery services, and other tech

specifications, she said.

"I have no reason to doubt the people working in PhilHealth," Morales said.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Cabading does not have confidence in our IT people. When

the explanations become too technical, he thinks it is an attempt to mislead

him," he said.

PhilHealth was supposed to hire an external IT consultant, but some

officials found their services "expensive," Morales said.

"Namahalan naman 'yung mga principals namin so ngayon we are doing it on our

own," he added.

"We are indignant, we are angered when we hear reports like this

(corruption)... That is only an information system will help us. Hindi tayo

puwede magrely sa mga whistleblower," Morales said.

 

 

PHILHEALTH VICE PRESIDENT RESIGNS AMID CORRUPTION MESS

 

PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales yesterday confirmed that the agency’s

vice president for operations, retired Brig. Gen. Augustus de Villa, has

tendered his irrevocable resignation.

“It’s not easy to be running PhilHealth, this is not an ordinary time. He

explained the reason for his resignation, he said he wanted to spend time

with his family,” Morales said in a virtual conference.

He said De Villa relayed in a letter his intent to resign immediately.

Morales did not cite De Villa’s reason for resigning.

Although he has resigned, De Villa would continue to cooperate in the

ongoing congressional probe, according to the PhilHealth president.

 

 

PHILIPPINES RECORDS 3,561 NEW COVID-19 CASES, TALLY AT 119,460

 

The Department of Health on Thursday reported 3,561 additional COVID-19

cases in the country based on tests from 89 out of 98 operational labs. This

pushes the national tally of coronavirus cases in the Philippines to

119,460.

The health department also announced 569 new recoveries, raising the total

number of recoveries to 66,867. The national death toll is now at 2,150 with

28 additional fatalities.

The country's total active cases (net f COVID-19 deaths and recoveries) is

now at 50,473.

 

 

THE REST

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DTI SAYS NO NEED FOR WORKERS WITHOUT SYMPTOMS TO BE TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS

 

MANILA - The Department of Trade and Industry said Friday there would be "no

need" to test asymptomatic workers for the novel coronavirus, as authorities

seek to boost the Philippine economy after falling into recession due to the

pandemic.

Instead, employers need to monitor the health condition of their workers

daily and report potential COVID-19 infections, said DTI Secretary Ramon

Lopez.

"There is no need to test... ‘pag asymptomatic--not even doing a rapid test

nor a PCR test," he told ANC. "But for symptomatic already at may disclosure

that there is some exposure already, you will be required to have PCR test."

 

The PCR or polymerase chain reaction test screens nasal swab samples and is

widely considered as the gold standard in coronavirus screening due to

accurate results.

The DTI will also require companies to train workers on health protocols and

set up committees that would check compliance, said Lopez.

Workers are urged to eat packed lunches at their own work stations, which

should be separated by acrylic barriers, he said.

"What we’re trying to do is we are issuing a new set of protocols for

business establishments to make it stricter and hopefully avoid iyong

further spread after we reopen again the economy," said Lopez.

 

 

PULLOUT OF BARRIO DOCTORS, NURSES FOR COVID-19 FIGHT IN NCR RAISES VIRUS

FEARS

 

A government plan to pull out doctors and nurses deployed to geographically

isolated and depressed areas in the Philippines and move to Metro Manila,

the country’s coronavirus epicenter, has raised concerns among healthcare

workers.

Dr. Carissa Rulla, a member of the Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program,

said there are only 20 plus doctors serving more than 400,000 people living

in Tawi-Tawi province.

"Sila 'yung mga tao na hindi pa nakakakita ng doctor, hindi pa nakakatikim

ng healthcare services ng government. Kung ma pull out kami sa areas namin,

sino na ang maiiwan sa kanila?" she said in an interview on ABS-CBN's

TeleRadyo.

Rulla said that while there are only 4 COVID-19 cases in Tawi-Tawi, there is

no assurance that the numbers will not rise as more people stranded in Metro

Manila return to the provinces.

She said that aside from locally stranded individuals and suspected cases in

isolation facilities, doctors must also monitor deportees coming from Sabah,

Malaysia.

Many provinces are already deprived of medical professionals even before the

pandemic. Some 70 percent of the country’s population live in rural areas,

but 70 percent of healthcare resources are in cities, said Filipino Nurses

United Secretary General Jocelyn Andamo.

“Kung ipu-pull out natin [ang health workers], mas lalong kawawa po ang

ating mga kababayan sa probinsya, lalo ngayon sa stage natin, hindi natin

masasabing na-contain na ang pagkalat ng COVID-19,” she told ABS-CBN’s

TeleRadyo.

“Ano na lang mangyayari sa communities namin if we leave them?” added.

Rulla said she was not aware of any DTTB doctor who complied with the

Department of Health’s memo urging medical workers from the province to

temporarily transfer to Metro Manila.

“Paano kapag from National Capital Region ta’s bumalik kami sa area, kami pa

ang magdala ng virus?” She said.

 

 

1 IN 4 MSMES CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC: TRADE CHIEF

 

MANILA - The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered about a quarter of the

country's micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the trade department

said Friday, as authorities lined up measures to lift the economy from

recession.

About 26 percent of 1.5 million MSMEs were "partially or temporarily closed"

by the pandemic, 52 percent are partially operating and 22 percent are fully

running, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

"You know naman the micro SMEs, laban lang iyan (they fight). They will

probably not operate for now and think of a new business model and open

again," he told ANC.

"We intend definitely to provide a stimulus package for MSMEs. The needs

right now, especially for micro MSEs, would be basically soft loans, working

capital, just to sustain their operation and sustain the jobs of their

workers," he added.

A pending stimulus bill in Congress seeks to allot some P50 billion to help

MSMEs. Banks are also urged “to provide some regulatory relief and basically

provide loan term extension" to businesses, he said.

 

 

AIRLINE PASSENGERS MUST ALSO WEAR FACE SHIELDS

 

MANILA — All international and domestic passengers will be required to wear

face shields aside from face masks starting Aug. 15 following a Department

of Transportation (DOTr) directive after the National Capital Region (NCR)

and nearby provinces were placed anew under a modified enhanced community

quarantine.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that

international and local carriers in every international and domestic airport

in the country would implement the DOTr directive to reduce the transmission

of coronavirus disease in all public transportation vehicles and facilities.

CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio said airline officials at every airport would

require all passengers to wear a face mask upon arrival at the airport and

wear the face shield prior to boarding the aircraft.

Aside from the face mask and shield, passengers are also required to bring

their negative COVID-19 results or certification and to present this to

airline staff at the counters, Apolonio added.

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE

 

 

GAB VALENCIANO SHARES TOUCHING BIRTHDAY MESSAGE TO HIS 'HERO' GARY V

 

MANILA -- Gary Valenciano marked his birthday on Thursday, August 6, with a

message of hope for his fans and followers.

In his Instagram post, Valenciano posted a clip of him singing his hit

"Could You Be Messiah."

"With so many questions in these uncertain times, I can only hope that we

discover everything that God can be to us," Valenciano wrote in the caption.

Meanwhile, Valenciano's son, Gab, shared his birthday message for his

father, whom he described as his "hero."

"Growing up, I would make believe I was this certain person who I idolized.

I would dress up, sing, dance and scream ‘ARANETA ARE YOU READY!’. This

person was and still is my hero. For many years people asked if I wanted to

be like him. The answer is yes. Not in a way where I sell out stadiums or

release platinum albums and records. But to one day be a husband and father

first. This person happens to be my dad, and he was always dad, first. You

always prioritized us papa, and I am eternally grateful that God blessed us

with you. Happy happy birthday. You deserve all the happiness in the world.

I love you so very much," Gab wrote.

Valenciano's eldest son Paolo also greeted his father on his special day.

"Delivered fruits so I could cross the checkpoints to see my parents. Happy

birthday," Paolo wrote in the caption of his Instagram post.

 

 

SPORTS

 

 

NBA: LILLARD’S PERSONAL-BEST 11 3S PROPEL BLAZERS OVER NUGGETS

 

Damian Lillard tied a personal-high 11 3-pointers en route to 45 points, as

the Portland Trailblazers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 125-115 Thursday (US

time).

It was the second time this season that Lillard drilled that many 3s in a

game, joining Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as the only players in NBA

history to have multiple games of 11 or more 3-pointers, according to

BasketballReference.com.

Lillard also drained 11 triples on his way to a franchise record 61 points

in a 129-124 victory over the Golden State Warriors on January 20.

His last 3-pointer against Denver set off a 13-2 run that put Portland ahead

118-108 with 3 minutes to go, as the Nuggets couldn’t find an answer for

Lillard.

Overall, Lillard was 13 of 21 from the floor and 11 of 18 from downtown to

go with 12 assists and 3 steals.

Gary Trent came off the bench to score 27 points and 7 3-pointers.

Jusuf Nurkic, who played for Denver in his first 3 seasons, added 22 points

for Portland, which is now just a half game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for

the 8th and final spot in the West playoff race.

Michael Porter Jr. led Denver in scoring for a third straight game with 27

points.

Nikola Jokic finished with just 8 points and 13 assists on a quiet outing

for the Nuggets, who lost to the Blazers 4-3 in last year’s West semifinals.

 

 

NBA: CLIPPERS PULL AWAY LATE TO DOWN MAVERICKS

 

Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points and Ivica Zubac added 21 points and 15

rebounds on perfect shooting from the field, as the Los Angeles Clippers

defeated the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 Thursday (US time).

The Clippers were ahead for most of the second half but couldn’t shake off

Dallas, until they scored 9 unanswered points to break a tie, go up 110-101

with more than 4 minutes left in the game, and coast to victory.

Paul George added 24 points for Los Angeles, which shot 14 of 31 from long

distance (45.2%) and posted a plus-22 in points in the paint.

Kristaps Porzingis finished with 30 points and Luka Doncic chipped in 29 for

playoff-bound Dallas, which fell to 1-3 in the league restart.

 

 

NBA: BUCKS SURGE LATE TO DOWN HEAT, SECURE EAST TOP SEED

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 33 points each, and the

Milwaukee Bucks rode a 20-0 run in the fourth quarter to down the Miami Heat

130-116 and clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference on Thursday (US

time).

The Heat were up 111-110 with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game when

Milwaukee launched an offensive barrage on the way to the Bucks' 55th win of

the season and securing the East's best regular-season record for a second

year in a row.

Antetokounmpo also had 10 rebounds, while Middleton drilled in 5 3-pointers,

a day after they played limited minutes in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Brook Lopez added 17 points and a pair of triples, one of five Milwaukee

players who had at least 2 3-pointers on the night.

Duncan Robinson finished with 21 points for the Heat, who were without Jimmy

Butler (foot) and Goran Dragic (ankle).

 

 

INDICATORS

 

FOREX $1 = P 49.05

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to

suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility ... a

patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the

tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. - Adlai Stevenson

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