World Newsletter

10 Dec 2020




MANILA - The Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the

P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget, with the former saying the new spending

bill would enable government to enact "ramped up COVID-19 response" programs

and allow "fresh investments for our health facilities."

The 2021 national budget will enable government to respond better to the

COVID-19 pandemic and fund new laws enacted this year, Senate Committee on

Finance chair Sen. Sonny Angara said in his sponsorship speech in plenary.

In ratifying the budget, the House adopted the Bicameral Conference

Committee Report on the General Appropriations Act.

"This budget reflects the serious commitment of the Duterte government to

defeat COVID-19 and bring the economy back on track," House Speaker Lord

Allan Velasco said in a statement.

The latest development on the proposed budget will bring Congress one step

closer to sending the bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.

"Our original intent remains intact for the 2021 budget: to improve our

response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to assist those not only stricken by

calamities but also by poverty, disease and homelessness," Angara said.

Congress also increased the calamity fund for next year "to set aside more

funds to empower the government to respond and save more lives in the face

of national disasters," he said.

Sen. Grace Poe lauded the ratification of the 2021 budget, saying its timely

passage would "will fuel the revival of the economy."

"It seeks to respond to real needs for better health protection, equal

access to quality education, efficient transportation and infrastructure and

inclusive social protection," Poe said in a statement.

Velasco said the budget includes a P70 billion allocation for the purchase

of COVID-19 vaccines, its storage, transportation and distribution.

The Department of Education (DepEd) gets the biggest chunk of the 2021

national budget with P708.18 billion, followed by the Department of Public

Works and Highways (DPWH) with P694.82 billion.

The Department of Health (DOH) - which is tasked to procure COVID-19

vaccines next year - will get the third largest share of the budget with

P287.47 billion.


The other agencies that complete the top ten recipients of public funds next

year are as follows:

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) - P247.50 billion

Department of National Defense (DND) - P205.47 billion

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) - P176.65 billion

Department of Transportation (DOTr) - P87.44 billion

Department of Agriculture (DA) - P68.62 billion

Judiciary - P44.10 billion

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) - P36.60 billion


House Appropriations Committee Chair Eric Go Yap said in a statement that

the bicameral conference committee approved several changes introduced by

the House which include:


additional funding of P44.8 billion for the "Build, Build, Build" program

under the DPWH;

additional P2 billion for the procurement of personal protective equipment;

additional P434.4 million for the health department's Health Facilities

Enhancement Program;

additional P462 million for the DOH's Medical Health Assistance Program;

additional P100 million for the DOH's mental health program;

additional P3.177 billion for DOLE, majority of which is for the Office of

the Secretary's Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced

Workers Program or TUPAD

Yap said that the bicam also increased the budget for Livelihood and

Emergency Employment Program and the Government Internship Program (GIP) by

P5.09 billion, bringing its total to P19 billion.






LONDON - US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on

Wednesday that documents related to development of their COVID-19 vaccine

had been "unlawfully accessed" in a cyberattack on Europe's medicines


The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which assesses medicines and vaccines

for the European Union, said hours earlier it had been targeted in a

cyberattack. It gave no further details.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they did not believe any personal data of trial

participants had been compromised and EMA "has assured us that the cyber

attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review."

It was not immediately clear when or how the attack took place, who was

responsible or what other information may have been compromised.






MANILA - The House of Representatives will insist on its jurisdiction over

cases against impeachable officials, a lawmaker said Thursday after a

complaint was filed against Supreme Court associate justice Marvic Leonen.

Leonen is accused of "culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of

public trust" by lawyers Lorenzo Gadon and Edwin Cordevilla.

The House Committee on Justice may tackle the impeachment complaint next

year as congressional sessions are scheduled to end on Wednesday, said vice

chair Rufus Rodriguez.

"I believe that the Supreme Court will not commit the same mistake of having

a quo warranto against impeachable officials because under the Constitution.

only the House will impeach and only the Senate will hear and remove," he

told ANC's Matters of Fact.

"We assure we will insist on the committee that we will have the exclusive

jurisdiction and this particular case will not happen like what happened to

the former Chief Justice (Maria Lourdes) Sereno...It is only the Congress

that can remove impeachable officials."





MANILA - Cannabis or marijuana remains a "dangerous drug" under Philippine

law, government said Thursday after the United Nations removed it from the

category of narcotic drugs to allow easier medical research.

Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman Catalino Cuy earlier said the country

only recognizes medical marijuana, and its recreational use was still


Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, marijuana "cultivation,

possession, use, sale, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution

and transportation" remain punishable, the DDB and the Philippine Drug

Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said in a joint statement.

PDEA and other uniformed personnel will continue to enforce the law, they


"It remains regulated because it is highly addictive and posses negative

health, social, and legal consequences," the statement read.





MANILA - The Department of Health said Wednesday it is extending the

deadline for medical frontliners applying for active duty hazard pay (ADHP)

and special risk allowance (SRA).

In a statement, the DOH said its Center for Health Development in the

National Capital Region, union leaders of health workers and the Hospital

Industry Tripartite Council agreed to extend the deadline to December 11 at

5 p.m.

"Acknowledging the limited number of working days left in the year to

process the HCW benefits, parties have agreed to move the deadline to the

end of the week," the department said.

This came after groups of hospital workers criticized the one-day deadline

to prepare and pass required documents to receive their hazard pay.






MANILA - The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday said it continues

to address factors to further improve the quality of education, amid results

of a study that ranked the Philippines last among countries in Grade 4 math

and science.

DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio

said the department is trying to address factors that were identified in the

2018 World Development Report.

"It goes with like the motivation of the learners, the commitment and

competence of the teachers, the effectiveness of school management and the

availability of learning resources," San Antonio said.

In an interview on ANC, San Antonio also said that the government has been

investing on educational facilities, and transformed the National Educators

Academy of the Philippines to improve teacher competencies through


"In fact, recently, we also reviewed the Philippine Professional Standards

for Teachers to be more attentive to the competencies expected of them so

that they could be very effective," he said.

He said DepEd is also reviewing the curriculum.





MANILA - An ABS-CBN employee revealed that some of the retrenched workers

are now coming back to work with the Kapamilya network.

Jon Montesa, brand communications manager of the network, took to his

Twitter account to announce his comeback with the network.

He posted a screenshot of his conversation with her mom when he was

retrenched and is now coming back to work.

"God's way of reminding me that he's more powerful than 70 congressmen.

Unti-unti, #BabalikDinAngABSCBN," he wrote in the caption.

In another tweet, Jon asked for the support of the public in his first

project with ABS-CBN, a movie starring Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber.

"Thank you so much sa suporta, mga Kapamilya! Since this is blowing up, I

would like to ask you to please support my first project with ABS-CBN Films,

Princess (Daya)Reese starring Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber. Streaming on

OTT and Cable platforms on Jan. 1, 2021. Hugs!" he wrote.

No details yet are available on how many retrenched employees were rehired.

ABS-CBN recently announced the comeback of some of its long-time shows such

as "Pinoy Big Brother" and "Maalaala Mo Kaya" ("MMK"), and with these shows

also come the return of their cast and crew.









MANILA - The government has worked double-time to approve 2,220 permits for

the construction of common towers since President Duterte's order to

fast-track processes to improve telecommunications in the country.

Speaking at yesterday's Kapihan Sa Manila Bay online forum, Interior and

Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the construction of

these common cell sites would help improve internet speed and access by a

great deal.

"Right now we have 22,405 towers all over the country. (The) target is to

have 50,000 more cell towers," said Malaya, adding that 700 more

applications to build common towers are still pending.





MANILA - The Department of Tourism (DOT) will be holding a free virtual

concert to promote Manila's cultural heritage sites, it said on Thursday.

The concert, titled "Hinahanap-Hanap Kita Manila", will happen on Dec. 13,

featuring the music of the band Hotdog to be performed by various OPM

artists such as Raymund Marasigan, Gary Valenciano, Yeng Constantino, Ebe

Dancel and many more.

It will be live streamed on Facebook pages of the DOT, Tourism Promotions

Board, Intramuros Administration, Nayong Pilipino and National Parks and

Development Committee.

"The Hinahanap-Hanap Kita Manila concert will give us the warmth of

nostalgia just in time for the holidays," Tourism Secretary Bernadette

Romulo-Puyat said.

Hotdog's hit tracks such as Annie Batungbakal, Bongga ka Day, Beh Buti Nga,

Ikaw ang Miss Universe, and Manila will be performed with the backdrop of

beautiful and iconic Manila sites.

The featured sites include the Manila City Hall, Luneta, Paco Park,

Intramuros, Museo Pambata, National Planetarium and Jones Bridge.

"In addition to promoting local travel and the live events industry, we want

to offer inspiration to all Filipinos in these trying times," Puyat said.

Puyat will be joined by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno as special guest for the






MANILA - The Senate committees on environment and on public works on

Thursday will hold an inquiry into the massive flooding experienced by Luzon

when it was battered by Typhoon Ulysses last month.


The joint panel will primarily discuss Philippine Senate Resolution No. 581,

filed by Sen. Cynthia Villar, which calls for an inquiry "on the alleged

denuded state of forests and watersheds as well as the apparent heavy

siltation on rivers and tributaries."

In her resolution, Villar - who chairs the Committee on Environment, Natural

Resources and Climate Change - said the sorry state of forests and

watersheds "contributed to the immense flooding in some parts of Luzon

during the onslaught ofthe recent typhoons, particularly Typhoon Ulysses."

She added that the goal of the probe would be to create legislation that

would strengthen "the conservation of the country's forest cover and

waterways in order to mitigate, if not altogether prevent, the devastating

effects of natural disasters."

Sen. Manny Pacquiao chairs the panel on public works.





MANILA - The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will resume the

implementation of a total truck ban in the metropolis starting next week.

Large trucks will again be banned from EDSA and other major thoroughfares

from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to MMDA spokesperson

Celine Pialago.

The agency has yet to release the guidelines for light trucks, Pialago said.

The truck ban has been suspended during the community quarantine to help

businesses recover from the pandemic.

The number coding scheme remains suspended.





MANILA - Around 37,000 Philippine National Police (PNP) members in Metro

Manila will be subjected to COVID-19 testing.

PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas has issued a directive for police officers to

undergo reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests to

ramp up contact tracing efforts.

The priority are police officers in the frontlines of the government's

campaign to contain the virus, including their close contacts and those with

symptoms of the virus.

"Kung sino 'yung mga nasa harap, kung sino ang mga may contacts sa tao 'yun

ang uunahin," Sinas said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

A total of 8,354 or 12.26 percent of the 221,038 PNP members have tested

positive for COVID-19. Of the number, 27 have died while 7,890 have

recovered from the disease.








MANILA - After confirming she is newly "in love," Julia Barretto has become

the subject of rumors anew, with her recent photos cluing in hawk-eyed fans

on the supposed identity of her partner.

Over the past weekend, Barretto shared on Instagram a photo of her promoting

a vitamin brand. Beyond the new endorsement project, her followers noticed

the necklace she was wearing, more specifically its pendant.

"G," a flood of comments noted was the lone letter Barretto wore around her

neck, many of which had heart emojis.

Some even mentioned actor Gerald Anderson, Barretto's "Between Maybes"

co-star with whom she was romantically linked last year, amid the latter's

controversial breakup with actress Bea Alonzo.

Anderson was also mentioned by fans in an earlier post of Barretto from a

week earlier on November 29.

In that Instagram snap, Barretto is seen posing from what appears to be a

mountain peak, which fans recognized as Mt. Kulis in Tanay, Rizal.

Two days earlier on November 27, a fan page dedicated to Anderson posted on

Twitter a photo of the actor, with a caption indicating it was taken also in

Mt. Kulis.

Anderson's brother, Ken, similarly chronicled on Instagram a trip to the

same location, with a drone footage showing a group of people at the same

spot Barretto had taken her photo.

A number of comments went as far as claiming that two of those people were

Barretto and Anderson, supposedly based on their outfits as seen in their

separate photos that have circulated online.

In her admission of being in love earlier in November, Barretto said she

intends to keep her relationship private, having gone through the "trauma"

of a public breakup with her former boyfriend Joshua Garcia.

"So one of the things I made myself confident in when it comes to my

personal relationships is that, I'm in control," Barretto said in her Mega

interview. "I am in total control of how much I am only willing to share and

how much I am only allowing people to know."

"I've already come to realize how important it is to protect your peace and

privacy - and that both go well together."








Clark triumph ends Ginebra's all-pinoy drought

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY, Pampanga - Bubble's best.

Barangay Ginebra put the finishing touches to a dominant run in the PBA

Philippine Cup bubble play with a title-clinching 82-78 triumph over

undermanned TNT last night at the AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G.

Japeth Aguilar punched in a career-high-equaling 32 points and joined forces

with Stanley Pringle and LA Tenorio in rallying from a five-point deficit

and sealing their coronation as the new All-Filipino kingpins.

The Gin Kings broke a long 13-year title drought in the pro league's

centerpiece conference, achieving this under tough conditions of the

two-and-a-half month Clark bubble. And with this 4-1 conquest, they nabbed

their first all-Pinoy diadem under coach Tim Cone.

It was a peculiar victory celebration for the country's most popular

ballclub, which won this bubble tourney without a single one of their

roaring diehards at the stands.

This one's for you, Ginebra fans. We think about you all the time. I'm so

proud to bring this to you," said Cone as he addressed supporters, who could

only cheer for them virtually in their households.

Aguilar, Pringle and Tenorio delivered the killer blows on a TNT side that

fought fiercely despite the absence of key players Bobby Ray Parks, Jr.

(strained calf) and Jayson Castro (bone spurs).

With TNT up, 73-68, the trio ignited a 14-5 windup to turn the tables

around. Pringle hit two triples, Aguilar shot four, and Finals MVP Tenorio

delivered a crucial assist and sank clutch free throws in the searing

championship windup.

It was an ending fit for a king for Ginebra, which finished the elims with a

tournament-best 8-3 card, and showed its championship caliber with its quick

work of Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals and a tough 3-2 victory over

Meralco in the semis.

"Credit to all the players. They just kept working and working. They found a

way to win throughout this bubble," said Cone.

RR Pogoy fired 23 and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the runners-up. Poy

Erram had an 18-15 effort and Simon Enciso chipped in 17, including

successive triples that gave TNT a five-point cushion.





FOREX $1 = P 48.05





To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith

but must find his brand of intolerance. - Eric Hoffer

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