17 Dec 2020
ASEAN PARLIAMENTARIANS URGE DUTERTE ADMIN TO 'END RED-TAGGING' OPPOSITION
MANILA - Parliamentarians from Southeast Asia on Thursday called on
President Rodrigo Duterte to end the dangerous campaign of red-tagging
opposition lawmakers which is allegedly an attempt to silence his critics.
Red-tagging has had extremely violent consequences in the Philippines, and
the fact we are seeing President Duterte leading the way on such a menacing
practice is utterly inexcusable, Charles Santiago, a Malaysian Member of
Parliament (MP), and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
said in a statement.
Santiago said red-tagging not only attempts to silence political opposition
and undermine democracy but it also directly put peoples lives at risk,
particularly those who oppose his agenda.
Duterte has been accusing progressive groups in Congress of being alleged
legal fronts of the communist insurgency movement.
Constitutional expert Antonio Laviña, a former Ateneo School of Government
dean, urged senators to criminalize red-tagging. But Durterte allegedly just
laughed at the proposal, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
How can lawmakers be expected to fulfil their role as a check on the
executive when they themselves are being attacked? We urgently call on
President Duterte and the Philippine government to stop labelling
directly-elected representatives as terrorists, and allow opposition
lawmakers to effectively fulfil their mandates and freely express their
opinions, Santiago said.
PFIZER DEAL JUST DELAYED; DUQUE DROPPED THE BALL?
MANILA The Philippines deal with drug manufacturer Pfizer for the
procurement of coronavirus vaccines is still in progress, Philippine
Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said yesterday.
Romualdez made the clarification after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro
Locsin Jr. said on Tuesday that the Philippines was assured of getting 10
million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer by January until somebody
dropped the ball.
Romualdez said in an interview with CNN Philippines that the January 2021
delivery date of the vaccines was pushed back to June because other nations
finalized deals earlier and the Philippines did not act quick enough on the
Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) for the procurement.
Only pushed back to later date of delivery possibly June next year Other
countries got ahead of us like Singapore, Romualdez said.
He noted that the deal with US drug manufacturer Moderna for the supply of
COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines is also in progress.
We are work in progress with Pfizer and Moderna for supply of vaccines.
If we commit soon we can possibly get delivery by mid next year, he added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that there was no dropping of
ball on the negotiation to procure some 10 million doses of COVID-19
vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech.
There is no such thing as dropping of the ball because the negotiations are
ongoing. It has been continuing, he told a press briefing.
DUTERTE RIPS INCOMPETENT TOLL REGULATOR OVER RFID MESS, WARNS OF FIRINGS
Tugade: NLEX should bear cost of RFID system failure
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday blasted the government regulator
tasked with overseeing toll operations for its role in the alleged faulty
RFID system that jammed traffic in Valenzuela City and neighboring areas.
Duterte said during a briefing that aired late night that the Toll
Regulatory Board should have at least assessed the efficiency of the RFID
system before allowing the North Luzon Expressway Corp. to put it in place.
"Mayroon tayong regulator. That's the purpose of having a regulatory board
'yung toll. Ang problema ang regulator is another set of incompetent people,
they should not have allowed a system right now to put into use without a
trial for about 1 week and anticipate what could be the problem," Duterte
said, adding that dismissals at the toll board were possible.
If you cannot perform what is expected of you, then the best that you can
do for decency sake, resign, and do not wait to be fired because masakit
iyan, mapahiya ka.
The President said government has taken the brunt of the blame over the
inconvenience caused by the faulty RFID.
"'Yung failure n'yo would reflect on us," he said. "Kami ang nagpu---- ina
kasi alam naming may system but it was not tried."
"If there's an innovation, you try to do it. Mag-dry run ka ng isang linggo,
madaling araw na walang traffic at tignan ninyo . . . And on the day of the
implementation, anak ka ng . . . Saan ka nakakita na doon pa ilagay ang
sticker while the traffic cueing is almost also exponential, hanggang puwet
na, dumating na sa Maynila?" Duterte added.
Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade said he would order NLEX to remove the
toll barriers if indeed its RFID sensors were functional.
GROUPS WARY OF BACK-TO-SCHOOL 'EXPERIMENT' IN JANUARY
MANILA - Two groups on Thursday expressed concern over holding limited
face-to-face classes in January in areas deemed low risk for COVID-19 as the
virus continues to rage across the country.
Speaking to Teleradyo, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) deputy
secretary-general Alex Legaspi said reopening select schools without careful
planning could spell disaster.
"'Di ko alam kung saan sila kumukuha ng kanilang ideya na ginigiit na naman
nila itong isang plano't sistema na hindi pumasok sa consultation, lalo na
hindi tinanong ang mga stakeholders tungkol dito," he said.
Legaspi added, "Isusubo na naman ba natin ang mga estudyante sa isang
experiment na hindi natin alam ang kahihinatnan? Siguradong delubyo na naman
While the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) is supportive
of holding select classroom teaching as it is crucial in the learning
process of students, the group urged the government to ensure the safety of
students and teachers.
"Ayaw din naman natin na ma-compromise 'yong kalusugan nila nang biglang
magkaroon ng pilot testing at wala pang malinaw na national guidelines,"
NUSP president Jandeil Roperos said.
For authorities to determine an area is low risk for COVID-19 spread,
Roperos said there should be a mass testing and intensive contact tracing.
Local officials must also provide safe transportation for students and
teachers, and install health personnel in schools in cases of emergency, she
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the
Department of Education (DepEd) of conducting a dry run of in-person classes
in select schools in January.
DUQUE AMID QUESTIONS ON CHINA COVID-19 VACCINE: TRUST SCREENING PROCESS
MANILA The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said Chinas COVID-19
vaccine would undergo a strict screening process in the country like other
vaccine candidates, quelling the publics fear regarding its efficacy and
In a press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the public
should trust the screening process of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Mayroon tayong nakatakdang proseso, at dapat sundin 'yan, respetuhin ang
DOST, ang kanilang vaccine panel, sila po ang sumusuri ng lahat ng
scientific evidence para patunayan na itong mga bakuna ay ligtas, may
dekalidad at epektibo, at kaya na implement, ipatupad, Duque said when
asked about his thoughts on Sinovacs COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said the country is
eyeing to secure 25 million doses of the said vaccine for next year, as it
finalizes negotiations with the firm.
But the legitimacy of Sinovac products was recently questioned after the
Washington Post reported that the company's chief executive officer admitted
Duque, meanwhile, said after DOSTs evaluation, the vaccine would need
approval from the Single Joint Research Ethics Board and the Food and Drug
HOSPITALS URGED TO ALLOT MORE BEDS, VENTILATORS FOR POSSIBLE SURGE IN COVID
CASES DURING HOLIDAYS
MANILA--The Department of Health on Wednesday directed hospitals and
treatment facilities to set up more beds and mechanical ventilators, as the
Philippines braces for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases during and after
"Hihingin natin ang commitment ng mga ospital, lalo na ang pribadong
ospital, na maglaan po ng sapat na bilang ng kama at mechanical ventilators
para po mapaghandaan natin ang sapat ng posibleng surge in the COVID
caseload," Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said in a public briefing aired
late Wednesday night.
Duque also urged local government units to allot more isolation beds at
their temporary treatment and monitoring facilities (TTMFs) to quarantine
suspect COVID-19 patients and their close contacts.
COVID-19 testing laboratories will continue to operate during the holidays,
the health chief added, saying that as of Dec. 12, around 6.2 million
Filipinos have been tested for the deadly disease.
Duque noted the the country's cumulative positivity rate is at 8.7 percent,
which was 8.8 percent on Dec. 7, and its test positivity rate stands at 5
"This is the benchmark that the WHO (World Health Organization) has
prescribed. Nakasunod na po tayo doon," he said.
MORE THAN 200 LAW DEANS, PROFS: JUNK IMPEACH BID VS LEONEN FOR 'UTTER LACK
MANILA More than 200 professors and deans of law from across the country
joined the mounting calls for the dismissal of the impeachment rap against
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
In a statement of support with 215 signatories, the law professors said that
the impeachment complaint with its unsubstantiated and groundless
allegations, should be dismissed for utter lack of merit.
They added that the ouster rap against Leonen is palpable assault on
judicial independence in the attempt to remove an Associate Justice for
standing as an obstacle to the ambitions of a privileged few.
The law professors stressed: Mere disagreements or objections with the
judicial opinions of a magistrate do not rise to the level of an impeachable
offense, much less malicious and baseless insinuations that cast aspersions
as to his competence, probity, integrity and independence.
Edwin Cordevilla of Filipino League of Advocates for Good Government filed
the impeachment complaint. He was assisted by controversial lawyer and known
Marcos loyalist Larry Gadon who previously asked the SC for Leonens wealth
declaration documents for another ouster rap, through quo warranto, but
The complaint was endorsed by Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba (Ilocos Norte),
cousin of former Sen. Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., who sought to remove
Leonen from the proceedings of his vice presidential poll protest, but also
Gadon and Marcos both denied the latters hand in the ouster moves.
SMC MAKES A BID FOR NAIA
MANILA Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) could end up operating and
maintaining the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after government
talks with a super consortium of conglomerates bogged down and Megawide
Construction Corp. lost its upper hand.
I heard they did, a ranking official from the Department of Transportation
(DOTr) told The STAR when asked if SMC has submitted an operations and
maintenance (O&M) proposal for the NAIA, the countrys main international
The official said the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which
manages NAIA, would have more information on the proposal.
Officials from MIAA and SMC, however, did not respond to The STARs requests
for comment yesterday.
The DOTr official said there is no published or written policy preventing
one group or one company to be involved in airports that are in close
proximity or in the same region as each other.
SMC is also undertaking the massive P740-billion Manila International
Airport project in Bulacan, construction of which is expected to commence by
the first quarter of next year.
COVID-19 CASES IN PHILIPPINES RISE TO 452,988
The country now has nearly 453,000 confirmed coronavirus cases after the
Department of Health reported 1,156 new infections Wednesday.
The additional cases brought the nations caseload to 452,988, of which
1,156 or 5.5% were considered active.
Lawmakers have allocated P72.5 billion in funding as the government plans to
inoculate 24 million against the novel coronavirus in 2021. But as the
picture on the health crisis continues to unfold, concerns grow that the
Philippines may be lagging behind in securing supplies.
A global tracker has estimated that 9.6 billion doses have already been
reserved 3.9 billion of which will go to high-income countries even with
the vaccine still not out in the market.
MANILA HAILED AS MOST COMPETITIVE CITY
MANILA Manila bagged the first spot for the Overall Competitiveness Award
for Highly Urbanized Cities during the National Competitiveness Council
(NCC)s 8th regional summit yesterday.
Manila was awarded the most competitive highly urbanized city based on the
2020 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index.
The city also received awards in government efficiency, infrastructure
competitiveness, economic dynamism and resiliency.
The award was based on programs being implemented by the city government,
which were compiled by the NCC.
The economic dynamism category was scored based on the cost of doing
business, cost of living, financial deepening, increase in employment, local
economy growth, economy size, presence of business and professional
organization, productivity, safety compliant business and local economy
Government efficiency, on the other hand, was based on the data on
compliance to business permits and licensing system standards, business
registration efficiency, capacity of health services, compliance with the
national governments directives, capacity of school services, recognition
of performance, peace and order, presence of investment promotion unit,
capacity to generate local resource and social protection.
In scoring the infrastructure category, the NCC considered the factors of
availability of basic utilities, accommodation capacity, financial
technology capacity, distance to ports, education, health, information
technology capacity, LGU investment, road network and transportation
PRIMEX SAYS INKS DEAL TO DEVELOP SECOND PULLMAN MANILA HOTEL IN METRO MANILA
MANILA - Real estate firm Primex Corp. announced Thursday it will sign a
deal with global hotels brand Accor to develop a second 200-room Pullman
Manila hotel within the gated community of Greenhills.
Expected to be completed by 2023, Primex said the 5-star Pullman hotel will
sit on the topmost 10 floors of a 50-story Primex Tower, which will also
house office and commercial spaces on lower floors.
Andrew Langdon, senior vice president for development of Accor Southeast
Asia, said both Accor and Primex are confident of a tourism rebound in the
Philippines, seeing the country as a key growth destination in Asia.
"This is a great market which will continue to thrive in the long-term due
to its great potential driven by economic development, natural attractions,
the peoples warm hospitality, and the ongoing improvement of transport
infrastructure," Langdon said.
This is the second Pullman hotel in Manila. Its first is in the Makati
central business district.
To be developed by its subsidiary Primex Realty Corp, Primex said the
premium hotel will have two restaurants, a lobby lounge, rooftop bar,
fitness center, swimming pool, ballrooms and private meeting rooms, a
business center, as well as a scenic view of the Metro Manila skyline.
"We strongly believe Pullman Manila is the perfect fit for this landmark
development as it allows visitors to stay connected and engaged with a range
of pioneering amenities that is perfect for both work and play," Karlvin L.
Ang, executive vice president and director of Primex, said.
Primex said Accor operates seven hotels in Manila at present and aims to
expand aggressively in the Philippines with 16 more hotels in the pipeline,
scheduled to open across the country in the next five years.
The Department of Tourism continues to be "optimistic" of the hotel
industry, earlier saying that there will be a boom on staycations amid the
MORE COPS TEST POSITIVE FOR DRUG USE
MANILA The number of police officers who tested positive for illegal drugs
increased by 42.85 percent this year.
Fifty police officers were found to have used illegal drugs this year
compared to 35 in 2019, Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service
(PNPIAS) records show.
A total of 461 police officers and 10 non-uniformed personnel have been
found hooked on illegal drugs since July 2016.
The IAS has resolved 459 of the cases. Five died while in service while 12
are either pending or forwarded to the PNP Directorate for Investigation and
IAS inspector general Alfegar Triambulo expressed concern over the increase
in the number of drug users in the police force.
Tumaas imbes na bumaba kaya very alarming, Triambulo said in a phone
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas has intensified random drug testing to weed out
drug users among their ranks.
Police officers caught using drugs face dismissal from the service.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
BRIDE-TO-BE ALEX GONZAGA IS A STUNNER IN WEDDING GOWN
MANILA Ahead of her actual wedding, bride-to-be Alex Gonzaga on Wednesday
shared a glimpse of what she might look like on the big day, as she was
introduced as the muse of a bridal fashion designer.
This is pure elegance, Gonzaga said in her Instagram post showing her in
one of the creations of Joe San Antonio for his La Grace line.
In his own post, San Antonio described Gonzaga as the purest embodiment of
his collection, noting that grace can mean both elegance and goodwill.
Gonzaga, 32, got engaged to her boyfriend of four years, Mikee Morada, in
While they have yet to reveal a date for their nuptials, the couple appears
to be on track to settling down soon, as they shared early this month that
the construction of their dream house has begun.
NBA SCORES DEC 15
1 2 3 4 T
Celtics 0-1 19 25 28 27 99
76ers 1-0 29 21 32 26 108
S. Milton PHI
19 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Spurs 0-2 31 24 17 26 98
Rockets 2-1 25 31 21 35 112
L. Walker IV SA
17 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST
B. McLemore HOU
15 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST
1 2 3 4 T
Warriors 1-1 27 20 34 32 113
Kings 2-1 25 37 26 26 114
S. Curry GS
29 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST
K. Guy SAC
20 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST
FOREX $1 = P 48.06
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to
grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts