20 Nov 2020
DUTERTE TO JOIN TRUMP, XI, PUTIN IN VIRTUAL APEC
MANILA President Duterte joins other world leaders including United States
President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President
Vladimir Putin in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) virtual
The leaders of the 21 APEC nations are expected to tackle the policy
direction for the region in the face of the health and economic crises
spawned by the coronavirus pandemic. Malaysia is this years summit host.
APEC economies also include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong,
Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New
Guinea, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
Duterte will engage world leaders through digital teleconference from the
Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang.
It will be Trumps last time to represent the US in the APEC summit. He lost
his reelection bid to former vice president Joe Biden.
The APEC leaders shall start their digital teleconference at 8 p.m. tonight
after which three more sessions will be held followed by a virtual family
World leaders usually don their national costume during group photo
sessions. With the prevailing pandemic, APEC organizers decided to forgo
tradition in deference to global protocol on physical distancing. Its not
clear how the virtual group photo would be done.
BANGKO SENTRAL MAKES SURPRISE RATE CUT AS ECONOMIC SLUMP CONTINUES
MANILA The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas made a surprise 25 basis points
policy rate cut on Thursday, bringing the overnight reverse repurchase
facility to a new historic low of 2 percent.
This is the central bank's fifth rate cut this year as it saw the need for
further easing to shore up the economy amid the series of typhoons and a
resurgence in global coronavirus cases.
The interest rates on overnight deposit and lending facilities were also
slashed to 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. The new rates are
effective on Friday.
The rate cut was unexpected as the BSP earlier said that it was in no rush
to further reduce borrowing costs despite the economic slump caused by the
"There remains a critical need for continuing policy support measures to
bolster economic activity and boost market confidence," the BSP said in a
DUTERTE PLACES HOMETOWN DAVAO CITY UNDER GCQ AS COVID-19 INFECTIONS RISE
MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte has placed his hometown Davao City back
under General Community Quarantine due to a spike in COVID-19 infections in
the city, his spokesman said Friday.
The southern city will revert to GCQ, the third strictest in a 4-level
lockdown scheme, "effective immediately" until Nov. 30, said Duterte's
spokesman Harry Roque.
Only select businesses are allowed to operate at full capacity in GCQ areas.
The President assigned Melquiades Feliciano, Deputy Chief Implementer of the
National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 for the Cities and Bacolod and
Cebu, to head the contact-tracing teams that would be deployed to the city,
A One Hospital Command Center will likewise be established there to ensure
an efficient referral system as private hospitals are mandated to increase
their ward bed occupancy by at least 20 to 30 percent, he said in a
The government will address the shortage of nurses in health facilities and
to provide additional high-oxygen cannulae, drugs for treating COVID-19, and
medical equipment, Roque added.
Accommodation establishments will be tapped to serve as quarantine
facilities for health workers and patients with COVID-19, he said.
AS PHILIPPINES EYES VACCINE PROCUREMENT, GOV'T TO FINALIZE WHO GETS IT FIRST
MANILA - The Philippines is prioritizing certain sectors to receive the
initial batch of free COVID-19 vaccines as it targets to expand the vaccine
coverage to about half of the country's population, the Department of Health
The DOH now hopes to vaccinate some 50 to 60 percent of the population from
the original plan of 20 percent. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario
Vergeire said the government plans to prioritize certain sectors before
reaching the whole expanded coverage.
"We are still working on that. The President has given the priorities as
discussed with the Secretary of Health and our vaccine czar. We are going to
finalize our prioritization over the weekend," she told ANC's Headstart.
"We will be prioritizing specific populations first and then we can be able
to roll it out and hopefully we can achieve this 60 percent of the
population," she said.
As herd immunity may only be possible with about 50 to 60 percent of the
population vaccinated, Vergeire said the public must continue observing
minimum health standards to stem the transmission of the virus.
The department will also ensure transparency in its COVID-19 vaccination
program as lawmakers seek additional funding for it, she said.
Vergeire said the increase in budget allocation to procure the vaccines will
depend on which vaccine is chosen.
"We are in a pandemic and everybodys lives are at stake. Government is
trying to ensure that whatever money we put in this basket for the vaccine
and whatever response we have for COVID-19 will be used diligently, will be
used appropriately and that corruption will not be there," she said when
asked about the unprogrammed budget.
"THEY'RE OUTSPOKEN AND RIGHTFULLY SO': ROBREDO DEFENDS DAUGHTERS AFTER ROQUE
FUMES OVER TWEETS
MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday came to the defense of her
daughters after Presidential spokesman Harry Roque criticized their tweets
that allegedly pertained to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Roque earlier was asked to explain Duterte's claim that Robredo did nothing
to address the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses' onslaught in the country and
propagated the viral hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo, which literally means "Where
is the President".
But Roque did not directly answer the issue and alleged that Robredo's
overnight tweets giving updates on rescue operations in Cagayan Valley,
which was besieged by raging floods caused by Ulysses and the northeastern
monsoon, implied the Vice President alone acted to help the typhoon-hit
"Mali naman iyong impresyon na ibinigay natin na kung hindi dahil kay Vice
President, baka hindi gumalaw itong mga itoHindi po," he told reporters.
Roque then pointed out Robredo's daughter Tricia tweeting, "Tulog pa rin?
Alas otso na" (Still asleep? It's already 8 a.m.) and that her sister Aika
replied "Sabado eh. Weekend" (It's Saturday, a weekend).
The tweets did not name anybody, but Roque also claimed that it pertained to
Robredo said in a Facebook post Thursday that she has always been proud of
her daughters, their hard work and accomplishments.
"They never used our name or whatever little influence we have to get what
they want. Theyre all adults now," she said.
"Theyre not in government. They are not politicians and they dont plan to
be. Totoo, theyre outspoken and rightfully so. We have trained them to
stand up for themselves and what they believe in," Robredo emphasized.
UP DILIMAN PUSHES BACK VS RED-TAGGING, VOWS TO UPHOLD CRITICAL THINKING,
MANILA University of the Philippines Diliman has pushed back against
red-tagging and false accusations of recruiting communities, as it vowed to
continue upholding its time-honored traditions of academic freedom and
UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo said Friday that the threat to defund UP
was borne of a misunderstanding that the university does nothing but
Those who blame UP for breeding communists forget that UP has bred more
scientists, artists, doctors, lawyers, diplomats and civil servants, he
President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to pull funds for the university in
relation to Ateneo de Manila students holding a strike to hold the
government accountable for its disaster response.
Nemenzo asserted that what crticis brand as subversive comes from
discontent at the way things are, a desire for change.
He explained that UP exposes its students to different perspectives and
allows them to learn to think on their own and critically. In keeping with
its tradition of academic freedom, UP is a safe haven for civilized and
intelligent discourse, Nemenzo also said.
But the UP Diliman chancellor stressed that the university has no place for
intolerance, bigotry and red-tagging, that last of which he stressed is
dangerous as it focused on labels over substance.
Academic freedom is essential for the life of the mind and for UPs dual
role as knowledge producer and social critic. We play the role of social
critic from a position of evidence-based scholarship and moral courage. This
role is a distinct service to the nation, he also said.
We will strongly defend the Universitys time-honored traditions of
academic freedom and critical thinking. UPs proud history of service and
activisim has shown that we can do both, Nemenzo added.
PRIORITY BILL TO CUT RED TAPE GETS STUCK IN SIGNING PROCESS
MANILA A priority legislation meant to speed up projects got stuck in
Congress for over a month now, lessening the likelihood the measure could
speed up stalled infrastructure outlays critical to a last-minute recovery.
An enrolled copy of the so-called anti-red tape bill was just signed by
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday, his office said. The measure
would go back to the Senate which would transmit it to President Rodrigo
Duterte for enactment. Senate President Vicente Sotto said early in the day
that Velasco was supposed to "sign and transmit" the bill to the Palace.
It took more than a month for the bill to get here despite Congress doing
away with a bicameral conference committee typically convened to marry
conflicting provisions of two versions of the bill. Sotto said the House
agreed to adopt the Senate's output, but it was unclear what delayed sending
the measure to the Palace for Dutertes signature.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has not responded to request for
But the measure's importance to the Duterte administration cannot be denied.
Shortly before the upper chamber passed Senate Bill 1844 on October 14,
Duterte himself certified it as urgent, allowing the Lower House
counterpart, House Bill 7884, to breeze through the measures second and
third readings 2 days after.
2020 ENGLISH PROFICIENCY INDEX: PHILIPPINES OUT OF WORLD'S TOP 20 BUT IS
NO.2 IN ASIA
MANILA The Filipino people's English competency in 2020 placed seven spots
lower on a global proficiency index compared to last year.
International company Education First ranked the Philippines 27th in its
2020 English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), with the country garnering a score
of 562 out of 700. For comparison, the highest ranking country, the
Netherlands, garnered a score of 652.
The country's English competency in Asia is ranked second only to Singapore
which garnered a score of 611 and is ranked 10th on the index overall.
From 2016 to 2018, the Philippines managed to remain in the top 15 of the
index, placing 13th, 15th, and 14th, respectively although the number of
countries in the index varied. It included 88 countries in 2018 and 72 in
In 2019, when the index grew to include a total 100 countries, the
Philippines fell six spots compared to the year previous, but managed to
remain in the Top 20.
Philippines maintains 'high' proficiency
The country's "Proficiency Band," which is based on score rather than rank,
has consistently remained at "high" from 2016 to 2020. The proficiency bands
range from very low proficiency to very high.
According to Education First, those with a high proficiency band can
accomplish the following tasks:
Make a presentation at work
Understand TV shows
Read a newspaper
Education First said it came up with the index by administering its English
Standard Test to over 2.2 million individuals across 100 countries and
regions, 54% of whom were female and 46% of whom were male. The median age
of test takers, the company said, was 26 years old and 94% of them are below
the age of 60.
PH LOGS 1,337 NEW COVID-19 CASES, TOTAL TOPS 413,000
MANILA The health department Thursday reported 1,337 additional COVID-19
cases, raising the countrys cumulative total to 413,430.
This is the 10th straight day that cases counted fewer than 2,000, although
they do not include data from 11 accredited laboratories that failed to
submit results on time to the COVID-19 Data Repository System.
Davao City led areas in the country that recorded the highest daily tally
with 110, followed by Laguna with 74, Quezon City with 66, province of
Batangas with 54, and Manila City with 53, data from the Department of
Healths (DOH) latest bulletin showed.
The number of recovered patients increased to 374,939 as the DOH logged 286
more recoveries. The total recoveries account for 90.7 percent of the total
The department also logged 41 additional deaths, bringing the death toll of
the highly-contagious disease to 7,998.
GET TESTED FOR COVID-19, EVACUEES URGED
MANILA Navotas residents who were evacuated during Typhoon Ulysses were
asked yesterday to avail themselves of the city governments free mass
testing for COVID-19.
Mayor Toby Tiangco made the appeal after experts warned of a spike in
COVID-19 cases among the evacuees.
We are calling on the evacuees to voluntarily undergo swab tests to ensure
that they and their families are safe from the virus, Tiangco said.
At least 1,797 residents or 448 families were evacuated in Navotas during
the onslaught of Ulysses.
HOME SECTOR WANTS DELAY ON TRAIN-ERA TAX IN LOW-COST HOUSES
MANILA Housing regulators backed appeals from homebuilders to postpone
levying taxes in low-cost houses next year while the pandemic rages on, a
levy that could end up getting passed to buyers through expensive prices
that the poor may not afford.
This will surely have a significant impact on the sales of real properties
intended for low-income buyers, Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said
in a letter to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Housing is a key industry in the economy due to its strong linkages to
other industries, he added.
The letter was sent last July 9 to back up calls from the Subdivision and
Housing Developers Association Inc. (SHDA), an industry group, for the delay
in lowering the threshold in home prices chargeable with 12% value-added tax
(VAT) over the next 3 years. SHDA sent a separate letter last May 16. Copies
of both letters were obtained by Philstar.com.
Both letters appeared to have gone unanswered to date. Dominguez did not
reply to request for comment on Wednesday.
DELTA TO RESUME MANILA TO SEATTLE, ATLANTA FLIGHTS VIA SEOUL STARTING
MANILA - US carrier Delta said on Friday it will resume flights to Seattle
and Atlanta from Manila via Seoul starting January next year.
The flights to Seattle and Atlanta from Manila will be operated via
Seoul-Incheon, Deltas trans-Pacific hub with its joint venture partner
Korean Air, it said.
The Incheon to Manila service will start on January 2, 2021 every Monday,
Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, while Manila to Incheon flights will begin
on January 3, 2021 every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The Incheon
to Seattle and Atlanta are existing services.
"Since COVID-19 began, Delta has focused on offering customers the safest
and cleanest experience possible. We are confident to welcome and serve our
customers again via our industry-leading trans-Pacific hub in Seoul with our
joint venture partner Korean Air," said Patricia Celis, Delta Country
Manager for the Philippines.
The US airline said the Manila-Incheon route will be operated with its
latest widebody aircraft Airbus A330-900neo, while the Incheon-Atlanta route
continues to be operated with Delta's International flagship aircraft,
POPCOM MOVES TO CURB RISE IN TEEN PREGNANCY
MANILA The Commission on Population is moving to stop the rising
prevalence of teenage pregnancy in the country, with 75,000 young women
likely to become first-time mothers next year.
PopCom yesterday launched the Philippine Challenge Initiative (PCI) in a bid
to significantly reduce the growing number of young Filipino mothers. The
population agency has partnered with the Zuellig Family Foundation in
bringing the initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that
provides high impact family planning solutions to the poor.
The battle begins in many cities and municipal hospitals where adolescents
become first-time mothers, and we encourage mayors to address this
phenomenon with programs for first-time young mothers with services and
support extending beyond hospitals, PopCom executive director Juan Antonio
Perez III said during the virtual launch.
According to Perez , about 75,000 more girls are likely to add to the
alarmingly high number of teenage pregnancies in the country in 2021 unless
measures are immediately taken.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
BREAKUP HAPPENED SO FAST: DEREK RAMSAY CONFIRMS SPLIT WITH ANDREA TORRES,
SAYS NO 3RD PARTY
MANILA Actor Derek Ramsay on Thursday confirmed his breakup with his
co-star and girlfriend of one year, Andrea Torres, after days of rumors
spurred by the actress un-following him on social media.
Ramsay addressed the speculation in an Instagram comment, as he replied to
one follower who blamed Torres for the separation.
The user noted that Ramsays past relationships had mostly been long-term.
His most recent before Torres, with model Joanne Villablanca, lasted six
years, the comment pointed out.
Ramsay answered: Please dont point the finger at anyone. There is nothing
wrong with Andrea. She is a great woman.
There is no third party! the actor emphasized.
As recently as September 2020, the former couple appeared to be in good
terms, and in fact agreed in an interview that they were ready to get
married. They also have a shared YouTube channel, dubbed Andrek, whose
most recent episode was released in October.
The breakup has happened so fast, Ramsay said on Thursday. Maybe two
people are just not meant to be. Please respect us nalang. We shared our
love to all of you. Sana naman we can keep this to ourselves.
Referring to Torres, he added, Mahal ko si Ada kaya di ako magsasalita,
pero if I hear lies about her I will defend her.
As of writing, Torres has yet to issue a statement about the breakup.
FOREX $1 = P 48.31
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not
accumulation of facts. - Albert Einstein