World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
16 Dec 2020

'SOMEBODY DROPPED THE BALL'

 

10 million Pfizer vaccine Doses

MANILA - The country was assured of getting 10 million doses of COVID-19

vaccines from Pfizer by January until "somebody dropped the ball," Foreign

Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said yesterday.

The vaccines, he said, were supposed to be funded by the World Bank and the

Asian Development Bank (ADB).

"That said my thanks just the same to US Sec of State Mike Pompeo we

-(Philippine Ambassador to the US) Babe Romualdez and I - got 10 million

doses of Pfizer financed by World Bank and ADB to be shipped thru FEDEX to

Clark in January. BUT SOMEBODY DROPPED THE BALL. I have steel ball bearings.

I just need a slingshot," Locsin said on Twitter.

To the Twitter post of former elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal

that the Philippines seemed to have "acted too late" in finalizing vaccine

deals, Locsin replied: "No. We did not miss the bus because we were slow to

act. Babe and I were fast. Offers poured in. But there are none so slow as

those who never had the intention to catch the bus."

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he had no idea who Locsin was

referring to as having "dropped the ball" and stopped the delivery of the

Pfizer vaccines to the Philippines.

But he said the government is looking at getting the supply from Pfizer

between the second and the third quarter of 2021, hence the preference for

China's Sinovac vaccine.

German firm BioNTech, he said, is also expected to make its own vaccine

shipment to the country by early next year.

In a post on Twitter, the Chinese embassy said Sinovac Biotech would provide

25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines by March.

At the same time, Roque parried criticisms that the Philippines is not

getting the first crack at new vaccines due to its failure to negotiate with

Western pharmaceutical groups.

Roque said the Duterte administration did not waver in its effort to seek

international cooperation regarding vaccine procurement.

"It's very clear that no less than our Secretary of Foreign Affairs

negotiated with his counterpart in the US, Secretary Pompeo, for us to get

supply from Pfizer. So we've never been remiss in our duty. There is really

a supply agreement with Pfizer, but the issue is when," he said in Filipino

and English.

 

 

SENATE EXTENDS VALIDITY OF 2020 BUDGET, BAYANIHAN 2

 

MANILA - The Senate on Tuesday approved on final reading measures that would

extend the validity of the 2020 national budget and the Bayanihan to Recover

as One Act (Bayanihan 2) until next year.

The Senate unanimously agreed to pass the House of Representatives'

proposals to allow the government to spend remaining funds from the current

budget until December 31, 2021.

The validity of Bayanihan 2, the Philippines' second COVID-19 aid package,

meanwhile, will be extended until June 30, 2021.

President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent bills to extend the 2020

budget and the Bayanihan 2 until next year.

On Monday, the House of Representatives approved on final reading House Bill

6656 which gives the Duterte administration one more year to spend this

year's national budget.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives... government agencies were

not spared and they, too, had to adjust," Senate Committee on Finance chair

Sonny Angara said in plenary.

"We are opening a wider window for the country to return to its original

path to development," he said.

Without the passage of the 2 bills, the 2020 national budget would expire on

December 31, 2020, while Bayanihan 2 would be deemed invalid after December

19, 2020.

As of November 30, the government has yet to utilize some P110 billion under

the 2020 budget, as well as about P38 billion under the Bayanihan 2, Angara

said.

 

 

RECTO FILES BAYANIHAN 3 BILL, SEEKS FASTER RECOVERY FROM COVID-19,

CALAMITIES

 

MANILA - Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has filed a bill seeking

to create the Philippines' third COVID-19 relief package, saying the measure

would help the Philippines "accelerate" its recovery from the COVID-19

pandemic and recent calamities.

Senate Bill No. 1953 also known as the Bayanihan to Rebuild as One was filed

in the Senate on December 14, and authorizes the government to utilize more

funds to respond to COVID-19-related programs as well as calamity response

projects.

"We were not yet able to fully flatten the curve and yet our country had

already been battered by typhoons Roily, Quinta and Ulysses which came in

succession in two weeks' time," Recto said in his bill's explanatory note.

 

 

VACCINE FIRMS YET TO APPLY FOR EMERGENCY USE IN PH, SAYS FDA

 

MANILA - Vaccine firms have yet to apply for emergency use in the

Philippines, the Food and Drug Authority said Wednesday as it urged Chinese

drugmakers to register their COVID-19 vaccine in order for these to be

distributed in 3 months.

The FDA published its guidelines for emergency use authorization (EAU) on

Monday, said executive director Eric Domingo.

"So far we have not received any formal application yet...It takes time to

prepare. In the Philippines, I'll only accept the application if they

already have an EUA in their home country," he told ANC's Headstart.

"I guess it's really also the timing of the companies being able to supply

that is why they're not yet applying for EUAs. Maybe they're not yet ready

to supply even if we do give them that authorization, maybe production is

not enough to supply here immediately."

 

 

PH DOLLAR RESERVES RISE TO AN ALL-TIME HIGH IN NOVEMBER

 

MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said the country's gross

international reserves reached an all-time high in November.

The country's GIR rose to $104.51 billion, up by $710 million from $103.80

billion in October.

The increase was due to the strong foreign exchange operations of the

central bank and income from its investments abroad, it said.

This was partially offset however by withdrawals made by the national

government to pay off foreign debts and losses from the BSP's gold holdings

as prices went down in November.

The BSP said the November GIR "represents an adequate external liquidity

buffer" which is equal to 11.2 months' worth of imports of goods and

payments of services and primary income.

This buffer "can help cushion the domestic economy against external shocks,"

it said.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the central bank has been actively

trading gold, as prices surge the past few months.

He previously noted that gold takes up over 10 percent of the central bank's

dollar reserves.

 

 

GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT VS LEONEN 'WOBBLY,' EX-CHIEF JUSTICE SAYS

 

MANILA - The impeachment complaint filed against Supreme Court Associate

Justice Marvic Leonen is unlikely to pass because its grounds are "wobbly,"

former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said Wednesday.

"I think it will have difficulty passing because the grounds therefore are

wobbly, in my opinion," he told ANC's "Matters of Fact".

"First, he says that Marvic Leonen, as a justice of the Supreme Court, have

been delayed in the resolution of the cases assigned to him. He has not

produced evidence to that in the first place."

Panganiban also said the complainant had no conclusive proof that Leonen did

not file his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) while he

was teaching at the University of the Philippines.

Panganiban believed the impeachment complaint was used to "fish for

evidence" by using the "coercive power" of the lower chamber's committee on

justice.

"I think impeachment has been cheapened in the sense that it is raised even

if the grounds are not very clear, not very justiciable, not very apt for

the process," he said.

"Impeachment is such a high proceeding that it should be used sparingly only

when the ground is secure and sure to respect the independence of our

judiciary."

 

 

BRIONES: 1,114 SCHOOLS EYED FOR FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES DRY RUN

 

MANILA - More than 1,000 schools have been recommended to the Department of

Education for the dry run of face-to-face classes in January, but Secretary

Leonor Briones said the number is expected to be significantly reduced after

assessments.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source", Briones said Wednesday

1,114 schools have been recommended by regional directors, upon consultation

with schools superintendents, for the dry run.

But Briones said they will still assess the schools if these can comply with

requirements set by the Department of Health and which have been cleared

with their local government units. She added DepEd will also check whether

the physical distancing can be ensured in the classrooms.

"We have to comply with the requirements of DOH safety sanitation assessment

only in areas classified by [Inter-Agency Task Force] as low risk areas,"

Briones said.

She also stressed that will need the written consent from parents before a

learner can attend face-to-face learning, as this will be on a voluntary

basis.

 

 

INSTEAD OF ARRESTS, COPS MAY HAND OUT FACE SHIELDS, MASKS TO VIOLATORS - PNP

SPOKESMAN

 

MANILA - Police officers will not necessarily arrest people who will leave

their homes without face shields and face masks, as they may instead supply

these to the violators instead, the spokesman of the Philippine National

Police said Wednesday.

PBGen. Ildebrandi Usana said the PNP received donations of face masks and

shields and the cops will use these as they enforce guidelines issued by the

Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19.

"During the press conference, sabi po ng aming Chief PNP Gen. Debold Sinas,

hindi naman kailangan na right away magkakaroon po ng sanctions. Posible po

na kung may dala-dala na rin po ang ating kapulisan na mga face shield o

masks para po sa mga mamamayan, puwede pong ipamahagi itong mga itong

personal protective equipment para sa kanilang kapakanan," he told ANC's

Headstart.

 

 

FILIPINOS PRAY FOR PANDEMIC'S END AS SIMBANG GABI BEGINS

 

MANILA - Filipinos trooped to their local churches as the 9-day dawn masses

or Simbang Gabi began early Wednesday.

The faithful are required to wear face masks and face shields in most

churches, which government allowed to fill 30 percent of their seating

capacity. Strict physical distancing measures were implemented inside places

of worship.

Several churches such as the Manila Cathedral and the Sto. Domingo Church

put up LED screens in their patios for worshipers who were not allowed to go

inside.

Dawn masses are also streamed online for those who would not be able to

attend it in person.

"Kapag nananampalataya ang isang Pilipino, wala namang pandemyang pwedeng

makapigil dyan. In fact, 'yan 'yung pinagsasaligan natin ng pagasa at

syempre si Hesus ang reason para sa season na ito," historian Xiao Chua told

ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

"Mas dama mo po pag nagsisimba po... Sana po mawala na po ang COVID at sana

po maging safe ang lahat ng tao dito," one worshiper at the St Peter Parish

in Commonwealth said.

Chua said it was part of the Filipino culture to believe that a wish would

be granted if they complete the 9-day dawn masses.

"Although hindi 'yan official stand ng Simbahang Katolika, very Filipino

'yan eh, may ginagawa kang panata, sakripisyo, kukumpletuhin mo," he said.

"Yung nominal Catholics, mga 'di nagsisimba pag regular Sundays, 'yan ay

nagsisimba pag Simbang Gabi, ganun ka-espesyal ang Simbang Gabi."

Filipinos adapted Simbang Gabi or Misa de Aguinaldo from the Spaniards, Chua

said.

"These are 9 days novena for the Virgin Mary. Iba pa 'to sa (It's different

from) Misa de Gallo which is the Christmas morning mass," he said.

"Ito ay in-adapt natin kasi yung mga magsasaka sa umaga bago pumunta sa

work, 9 days before Christmas, eh yun yung panahon nila para sumamba."

Quezon City Police, meantime, deployed 3,200 personnel to churches, malls,

train stations, and public areas teeming with crowds.

 

 

THE REST

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MAGNITUDE 6.2 QUAKE STRIKES OFF DAVAO OCCIDENTAL

 

MANILA - A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck off Davao Occidental on Wednesday

morning, Phivolcs said.

The quake, which happened 7:21 a.m., was downgraded from an initial

measurement of magnitude 6.1.

Phivolcs revised the earthquake's epicenter to 86 kilometers southeast of

Sarangani town, Davao Occidental from 11 kilometers northeast of Alabel town

in Sarangani.

Phivolcs director Renato Solidum initially said it was not expected to cause

damage or result in a tsunami. A revised Phivolcs bulletin said damage and

aftershocks were expected following the tremor.

"Hindi naman magko-cause ng tsunami at kung ganun lang po ang intensity, 5,

ang pinakamataas ay wala po tayong ine-expect na damage," he told ABS-CBN's

Teleradyo.

 

 

NEGROS DOCTOR SAID TO BE ON VIGILANTE HIT LIST KILLED ALONGSIDE HUSBAND

 

MANILA - A doctor who was allegedly placed in a hit list by an

anti-communist vigilante group was shot dead along with her husband on

Tuesday evening, rights group Karapatan reported.

Karapatan said a two people onboard a motorcycle shot Rose Sancelan and her

husband Edwin Sancelan dead in Barangay Poblacion, Guihulngan City in Negros

Oriental.

The rights group said the doctor, who also heads the city's inter-agency

task force against COVID-19, was number one on the hit list of Kawsa

Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (Kagubak), a supposed anti-communist vigilante

group which has been blamed for the spate of killings on Negros island.

The doctor was tagged as JB Regalado, spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan

Command of the New People's Army in Central Negros, Karapatan said.

The rights group noted that along with the doctor, lawyer Anthony Trinidad

and Heidie Malalay Flores have also been gunned down after their names

appeared on the alleged hit list.

"This is the extreme danger of being red-tagged," Bayan Muna chairperson

Neri Colmenares said in a statement. "State forces and their cohorts may

just assassinate you with impunity."

 

 

HOUSE PROBE SOUGHT INTO 'SEARCH WARRANT FACTORY' JUDGE

 

MANILA - The Makabayan bloc is calling on the House justice committee to

conduct a probe into the allegedly irregular issuance of search warrants by

a Quezon City judge that resulted in the arrests of several activists on

firearms and explosives charges.

The leftist bloc noted that the search warrants which led to the arrest of

69 people in various raids in Bacolod and Metro Manila beginning in October

2019 were issued by the same judge: Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn

Burgos-Villavert.

Most recently, Burgos-Villavert's search warrants have led to the arrest of

six trade unionists and the editor of Manila Today on International Human

Rights Day following raids on their residences where police supposedly found

firearms and explosives.

"It appears that Executive Judge Burgos-Villavert is being favored by the

PNP (Philippine National Police) in the issuance of multiple search warrants

founded on fabricated facts, which specifically target human rights

defenders, labor and community organizers, activists and other government

critics," the bloc said in filing House Resolution No. 1427.

The Makabayan bloc also questioned the independence and impartiality of the

judge, noting that she was reportedly visited a day before the Bacolod raids

by then-Metro Manila acting police chief Gen. Debold Sinas.

"It is crucial for the House of Representatives to ensure that the

constitutional rights of its constituents are upheld. There is a need to

check on excesses and violations committed against the people as part of its

oversight function," the Makabayan bloc said.

The Makabayan bloc is part of the House minority and resolutions filed by

its members rarely result in House committees actually holding hearings.

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE

 

 

ROBIN PADILLA GETS SLAMMED BY A VETERAN DIRECTOR

 

Robin Padilla received strong words from a veteran director after taking a

swipe at the screening committee of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)

2020. KAMI learned that the said celebrity posted a lengthy message on

Instagram regarding the 10 Filipino films that made it to the official

line-up.

He even mentioned that not all people in the film industry are just after

the money.

"We have lost our ways, my dear brothers and sisters in the screening

committee," Robin quipped. "Show business is not all about your shows and

your businesses. It is not always about your money, your profit and your

awards. New normal na! Pati ang showing ng mga pelikula niyo sa MMFF pero

ang style niyo old normal pa rin," he added. During the media conference of

"Magikland" on December 9, Lore Reyes, a veteran Filipino filmmaker, aired

his opinion about the sentiments of Robin. He pointed out that he will only

believe the words of the actor if they came from someone who has done a lot

of decent movies. "Ang reaction ko lang diyan... Sana, kung nanggagaling sa

bunganga ng taong nakagawa ng matinong pelikula, maniniwala ako," the

director stated. "Not from Robin Padilla, excuse me!" he added.

Robin Padilla is a prominent action star in the Philippines. He already won

numerous awards such as the Best Actor recognition given to him during the

2013 MMFF. Several weeks ago, he defended President Rodrigo Duterte in his

viral letter for Vice President Leni Robredo. The said actor also made

headlines on social media after he shared a video of him getting tested for

the novel coronavirus disease.

 

 

SPORTS

 

 

NBA SCORES DEC 14

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

Pacers 0-2    35    20    24    27    106

Cavaliers 2-0    32    23    26    35    116

SCORING LEADERS

    D. Sabonis IND

18 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST

    D. Exum CLE

23 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

Pelicans 1-0    32    28    25    29    114

Heat 0-1    30    23    19    20    92

 

SCORING LEADERS

    Z. Williamson NO

26 PTS, 11 REB, 2 AST

    T. Herro MIA

17 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

Raptors 2-0    22    35    28    27    112

Hornets 0-2    30    30    27    22    109

SCORING LEADERS

    F. VanVleet TOR

23 PTS, 0 REB, 4 AST

    J. McDaniels CHA

15 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

Mavericks 2-0    32    27    36    33    128

Bucks 0-2    28    41    24    19    112

 

SCORING LEADERS

    L. Doncic DAL

27 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST

    G. Antetokounmpo MIL

24 PTS, 14 REB, 4 AST

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

Grizzlies 2-0    36    28    32    27    123

Timberwolves 0-2    22    28    22    32    104

SCORING LEADERS

    J. Valanciunas MEM

22 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST

    D. Russell MIN

19 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST

 

 

    1    2    3    4    T

Suns 0-2    15    33    22    22    92

Jazz 2-0    19    30    38    24    111

SCORING LEADERS

    D. Booker PHO

27 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST

    B. Bogdanovic UTA

18 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST

 

 

INDICATORS

 

FOREX $1 = P 48.06

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the

street. - Elbert Hubbard

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