World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
5 February 2020

INFLATION QUICKENS FURTHER IN JANUARY, SETTING STAGE FOR INTEREST RATE CUT

MANILA -- Inflation accelerated past estimates in January while staying
within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' target, official data released
Wednesday showed, putting pressure on monetary authority to cut interest
rates, according to analysts.
The consumer price index rose 2.9 percent in January from 2.5 percent in the
previous month. It was faster than the median forecast of 2.7 percent based
on a Bloomberg poll of economists. The central bank's think tank predicted
2.5 to 3 percent.
The BSP set a 2 to 4 percent target for the full year. It will hold its
first interest rate-setting meeting for 2020 on Thursday. Seventeen of 24
economists polled by Bloomberg predicted a rate cut.
"It is within the target of the BSP but it seems to imply that the window
for rate cuts is narrowing very fast," BPI lead economist Jun Neri told
Market Edge on ANC.
"We believe there is still some room. Later on, that will narrow and might
actually close. Therefore, we think the BSP might do a one-and-done cut by
tomorrow to 3.75 percent," he said.
Governor Benjamin Diokno had signaled a cumulative 50-basis point cut in the
benchmark lending rate this year. He said on Jan. 27 that while there was "a
lot of room" to ease policy, he would "go easy" on unwinding the full
175-basis point interest rate hikes from 2018. The BSP cut the benchmark by
75 basis points in 2019.


SENATE LEADERS URGE DUTERTE: RECONSIDER VFA ABROGATION

MANILA— As a Senate panel prepares to begin its review of the country’s
military arrangements with the United States, three senators have filed a
resolution urging President Duterte to reconsider his plan to have the
Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) revoked.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen.
Panfilo Lacson jointly filed on Monday Resolution 312 expressing the sense
of the Senate on the need for Duterte to reconsider his plan to unilaterally
withdraw from the VFA with the US.
The filing of the resolution came two days before the scheduled review of
the security pact along with the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and
Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US by the Senate
committee on foreign relations headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III. The
chamber will still have to vote on the resolution.
“We concede that by constitutional fiat and by intrinsic nature of his
office, the President, as head of state, is the sole organ and authority in
the externals affairs of the country, being the chief architect of the
nation’s foreign policy in the conduct of the external affairs of the
nation,” the resolution read.
“Fully recognizing the authority of the Chief Executive and without
intending to disrespect a co-equal body, prior to unilaterally terminating
the VFA, the Senate should be given the opportunity to conduct a review and
assessment of the impact of the withdrawal on the country’s security and
economy, specifically with regard to intelligence information sharing,
military aid and financing, and technical assistance extended by the US
relative to the continuing threats posed by domestic and foreign terrorist
groups and, ultimately, to the stability and security in the Asia-Pacific
region,” it said.
The senators said as a policymaking body, the Senate should likewise give
its view and opinion on the repercussions of the scrapping of the VFA on the
MDT and EDCA.
They said a careful deliberation of the issue must be taken into account
before arriving at a final decision, which will ultimately affect not only
the country’s security and economy, but also that of other countries in the
region.


WHO URGES FILIPINOS: STAY CALM, INFORMED ABOUT NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

MANILA - A World Health Organization (WHO) official on Wednesday urged
Filipinos to stay informed and calm as cases of the new coronavirus rise
globally.
The public is urged to rely on credible sources of information such as the
Department of Health (DOH) and the international body, according to WHO
representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
"You need to stay calm and your actions need to be dictated by
evidence-based information," he told ANC's Early Edition.
"You see very interesting stories being circulated in social media and that
is not very helpful. It’s not contributing to containing this outbreak."
The justice department, in a Senate inquiry Tuesday, said it would
investigate and file charges against those who spread misinformation about
the new strain of virus.
The WHO official, meantime, said only 2 percent of those infected succumb to
the flu-like illness. Health officials earlier noted that most victims were
either old or with underlying health problems.
"The vast majority of infections happen from people already having signs and
symptoms of the disease," Abeyasinghe added.
The WHO official said maintaining proper hygiene by frequent handwashing and
observing cough etiquette was most important for the public.
"The mere fact that you wear a face mask is not absolute guarantee you are
not going to get this. it only prevents you from inhaling from inhaling the
droplets," Abeyasinghe said.
"It's more important to wash your hands often, not to touch your eyes, nose,
and mouth excessively and ensure any meat you're consuming is properly
cooked."


DUTERTE APPROVES RELOCATION PLAN FOR DISPLACED TAAL RESIDENTS

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Tuesday the relocation plan
for Filipinos displaced by the Taal Volcano eruption last month, his
spokesman said Wednesday.
Duterte, during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, granted the request of Human
Settlements Secretary Eduardo del Rosario to give a total of 5,448 housing
units to displaced residents, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The housing units were supposedly for soldiers and policemen and are spread
across the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, and Quezon in the Southern
Tagalog region.
“The President approved the request of the Department of Human Settlements
and Urban Development to offer these housing units as a grant to the
displaced families instead and commended such act of generosity,” Panelo
said.
At least 5,000 households were displaced following the mandatory evacuation
from the 7-kilometer radius of the volcano, Del Rosario reported to the
President.
Taal erupted on Jan. 12, forcing thousands living around the volcano to flee
from their homes.
The ashfall from the volcano reached as far as Metro Manila and Central
Luzon, shutting down businesses for days.
As of Wednesday morning, alert level 3 is still raised over Taal which means
that lethal volcanic gas expulsions are still possible.


CHINA VIRUS DEATHS RISE TO 490 AS MORE COUNTRIES CONFIRM LOCAL TRANSMISSION

BEIJING — The number of people infected in China by the coronavirus outbreak
jumped on Wednesday to nearly 500, after Hong Kong reported its first death
from the disease and millions more in China were ordered to stay indoors.
The confirmed toll in mainland China rose to 490 after hardest-hit Hubei
province reported 65 more people had died -- the biggest single-day tally
since the first fatalities emerged last month.
More than 20 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, prompting the
World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency,
several governments to institute travel restrictions, and airlines to
suspend flights to and from China.
The WHO said Tuesday that the dramatic measures taken by China had provided
a "window of opportunity" to halt transmission, while calling for more
global solidarity to combat the virus.
The novel coronavirus has continued to spread with Singapore, Malaysia, and
Thailand on Tuesday reporting new infections that were not imported from
China.
In a sign of growing concern about a spread to other densely-populated
Chinese metropolitan areas, authorities in 3 cities in eastern Zhejiang
province -- including 1 near Shanghai -- limited the number of people
allowed to leave their homes.


CEBU PACIFIC, PAL HELPING TRACE VIRUS PATIENTS' CO-PASSENGERS: SPOKESPERSONS

MANILA — Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines denied Wednesday Health
Secretary Francisco Duque's accusation that they refused to help authorities
trace nearly 300 co-passengers of the Philippines' confirmed coronavirus
cases.
Duque told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that only 17 percent of the
co-passengers were contacted so far because their details were not shared by
the 2 airlines, "invoking confidentiality."
There is "no impediment" under Data Privacy Act that prevents airlines from
sharing the manifest that contains the passengers' contact details, said
Cebu Pacific director for Corporate Communications and Corporate Affairs
Charo Logarta-Lagamon.
"Never po kaming hindi nakipagtulungan sa gobyerno, lalo na po sa Department
of Health," she told DZMM.
Philippine Airlines shared its passenger manifest with authorities "right
after" the health department's request, said the carrier's spokesperson
Cielo Villaluna.
"This is an issue of national interest, this is a public health concern.
There is no reason for you national flag carrier, Philippine Airline, to
withhold such information," she said.
Duque's claim that parts of the manifest were redacted "can be an issue of
lack of dissemination on their part," said Villaluna.
"What Secretary Duque is saying is not quite aligned with what is happening,
but I hope by this time, he's already informed of the truth," she said in a
separate DZMM interview.


FILIPINOS REPATRIATED FROM CHINA VIRUS EPICENTER TO ARRIVE SATURDAY

MANILA- Filipinos repatriated from China, the origin of the 2019 novel
coronavirus outbreak, are expected to arrive in the Philippines on Saturday,
Malacañang said Wednesday.
The returning Filipinos will arrive at the Clark International Airport and
will undergo mandatory quarantine at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija,
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
"The President instructed the Health Secretary to go to the site to properly
address the people affected in detail,” Panelo added.
There are 42 Filipinos in the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of
the virus outbreak, who have requested for repatriation according to the
Department of Foreign Affairs.
No Filipinos in China have been confirmed to be infected with the virus,
which causes flu-like symptoms, the DFA said.
Government has set up Fort Magsaysay as a quarantine site for people
suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus. The Nueva Ecija
military camp can accommodate up to 10,000 individuals, the Palace said.
There are 295,047 Filipinos in mainland China, according to government data.
Around 150 are in Wuhan City, where initial cases of the virus were reported
last year.


71% OF CENTRAL VISAYAS BARANGAYS AFFECTED BY ILLEGAL DRUGS

MANILA— At least 71 percent or 2,143 of the 3,003 barangays in Central
Visayas are still affected by illegal drugs.
Police data showed that 581 barangays in the region have been declared
drug-free while 279 villages remain drug-affected.
Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor comprise Central Visayas.
Metro Manila ranks second among regions with the most number of
drug-affected barangays at 1,107 or 64.74 percent of the 1,710 villages.
The Cordillera Autonomous Region has the fewest areas affected by illegal
drugs, with 86 or 7.31 percent of the 1,177 barangays.
In Eastern Visayas, 7.61 percent or 334 of the 4,390 barangays are not yet
cleared of illegal drugs.
At least 38 percent or 16,053 of the total 42,045 barangays nationwide are
still affected by the drug menace.


METRO MANILA TEMPERATURE DROPS TO 18.5ºC

MANILA— Metro Manila’s temperature dropped anew to 18.5 degrees Celsius
yesterday morning, the coldest recorded in the capital so far this northeast
monsoon season, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and
Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Senior weather forecaster Chris Perez said the lowest temperature was
recorded at 6:30 a.m. at the PAGASA Science Garden in Quezon City.
Yesterday’s coldest temperature in the National Capital Region matched its
previous record of 18.5 degrees Celsius registered on Feb. 1.
Perez said the northeast monsoon would continue to bring cold winds over the
country this month.
In Baguio City, the coldest temperature was recorded at 4:50 a.m. yesterday
at 11 degrees Celsius.
PAGASA recorded the coldest weather in the country’s summer capital so far
this year at 10.6 degrees on Feb. 1.


CALLED A ‘TOXIC MOM,’ SHARON SAYS ON RIFT WITH KC: ‘YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S
GOING ON’

MANILA — Amid the apparent rift between Sharon Cuneta and her daughter KC
Concepcion, the music veteran on Monday hinted that their conflict has a
deeper source than what’s known to their followers.
The strain in their relationship first went public in January, when
Concepcion missed Cuneta’s televised birthday celebration on “ASAP Natin
‘To,” prompting an exchange of open letters on social media.
But that’s not the whole story, at least according to Cuneta.
On Instagram, Cuneta responded to comments branding her as a “toxic mom,”
over Instagram posts which her followers alleged were meant to indirectly
paint Concepcion in a negative light.
One such post was Cuneta’s photo with actress Angel Locsin, whom she
credited for being respectful. She also expressed appreciation to “The
General’s Daughter” star for her kindness and warmth.
“Puro ka parinig sa panganay mo,” one follower commented.
Cuneta replied: “Nagpapasalamat ako sa isang taong gumawa ng mabuti sa akin,
patama agad? Ang tinatamaan guilty kahit hindi siya ang iniisip. Konting
lawa ng pag-iisip naman.”
Indicating that she has yet to mend her ties with Concepcion, Cuneta added,
“Wala kayong alam sa mga nangyayari. Ano ito, tampong ‘di matapos? Baka kaya
mas malalim? Huwag na kasi makialam.”
Cuneta’s exchange with her followers went as far as her supposed
shortcomings as a single mother to Concepcion. Concepcion is Cuneta’s lone
child with her former husband, actor Gabby Concepcion.
One detractor told Cuneta she “shouldn’t be surprised” by her current
standing with Concepcion, given that the latter was mostly raised by her
late maternal grandmother.
“I worked to put food on our table because no one was helping me,” Cuneta
said. “My mom and dad helped raise her because I had to work. Parang mga OFW
— kahit ayaw lumayo sa anak, nagtatrabaho.”
“Nasaan siya ngayon [kung hindi] ako nagtrabaho? And I didn’t depend on my
dad and mom except to take care of her while I was breaking my back and
having no sleep to prepare for her future,” Cuneta said.
When a fan lamented how Cuneta has made public her tiff with Concepcion —
instead of resolving their issue privately — the singer brought up her
daughter’s earlier Instagram apology for missing her birthday celebration.
“Kaya nga ako nag-post kasi sinagot ko lang ang post niya. She hasn’t texted
either. And believe me — you have no idea what’s going on so huwag
magmarunong,” she wrote.
That same follower advised Cuneta not to embarrass Concepcion with her posts
about their cold ties, however indirectly. Her answer: “Mas lalong ‘di dapat
binibigyan ng kahihiyan ng anak ang magulang.”


EALA RISES TO NO. 4 IN WORLD RANKINGS

MANILA— Filipina teen ace Alex Eala continues her rise in the international
stage as the newly-minted Australian Open juniors titlist catapulted to
fourth in the latest International Tennis Federation world rankings.
Eala, who entered the season-opening grand slam netfest at world No. 8,
jumped four spots following her triumph in the girls’ doubles with
Indonesian Priska Nugroho and a Round-of-16 appearance in the singles play
in Melbourne.
The 14-year-old scholar at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain netted 750
ranking points for her doubles feat and 180 in the singles to log 1,718.75 –
good for No. 4 behind top-ranked Dianne Parry of France (2,356.25),
newly-crowned Austrailian Open singles champ Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of
Andorra (1971.25) and 2019 Wimbledon winner Daria Snigur of Ukraine (1,930).
Eala became the first Pinay junior netter to win a grand slam crown,
striking gold 11 years after Francis Casey Alcantara reigned supreme over in
boys’ doubles also in Australia.
She said she hopes to inspire youngsters to dream big and strive like she
did.
“I hope a lot of younger kids see me as an inspiration because I did also
come from where they are now.
“I didn’t start big. I also came from local tournament in Palawan or just
here in Manila, slowly going into the international stage,” she said.
Eala is set to return to Mallorca, Spain to continue her studies and
training.
She’s eyeing to compete in a $25,000 WTA tournament next month prior to
plunging into action in the next major, the French Open juniors.
“I’m very proud to be a Filipina, to represent my country especially in a
sport where not a lot of Filipinos are present,” she said. “Now I want
people to see the Philippines has a lot of potential for high-level tennis.”


NBA SCORES FEB 3


FINAL/OT
    1    2    3    4    OT    T
team logo Knicks 15-36    33    30    32    32    12    139
team logo Cavaliers 13-38    37    25    38    27    7    134
SCORING LEADERSM. Morris NY
26 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST
K. Love CLE
33 PTS, 13 REB, 6 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Magic 22-28    25    31    29    27    112
team logo Hornets 16-34    24    30    23    23    100
SCORING LEADERS
    N. Vucevic ORL
22 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST
    T. Rozier CHA
18 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Warriors 12-39    40    32    27    26    125
team logo Wizards 17-32    36    27    23    31    117
SCORING LEADERS
    A. Burks GS
30 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST
    B. Beal WAS
43 PTS, 2 REB, 6 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Mavericks 31-19    25    28    29    30    112
team logo Pacers 31-19    22    33    22    26    103
SCORING LEADERSK. Porzingis DAL
38 PTS, 12 REB, 0 AST
D. Sabonis IND
26 PTS, 12 REB, 9 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Suns 20-30    31    21    21    24    97
team logo Nets 22-27    35    20    35    29    119
SCORING LEADERS
    D. Ayton PHO
25 PTS, 17 REB, 5 AST
    C. LeVert BKN
29 PTS, 3 REB, 7 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Celtics 34-15    28    32    35    28    123
team logo Hawks 13-38    34    28    22    31    115
SCORING LEADERSJ. Tatum BOS
28 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST
T. Young ATL
34 PTS, 3 REB, 7 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo 76ers 31-20    26    26    25    29    106
team logo Heat 34-15    30    26    41    40    137
SCORING LEADERSJ. Embiid PHI
29 PTS, 12 REB, 2 AST
J. Butler MIA
38 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Pistons 18-34    32    21    10    19    82
team logo Grizzlies 25-25    36    17    19    24    96
SCORING LEADERSA. Drummond DET
25 PTS, 18 REB, 4 AST
J. Valanciunas MEM
26 PTS, 17 REB, 2 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Timberwolves 15-34    20    30    34    25    109
team logo Kings 19-31    29    36    28    20    113
SCORING LEADERSK. Towns MIN
22 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST
D. Fox SAC
31 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST


FINAL
    1    2    3    4    T
team logo Spurs 22-27    39    24    19    23    105
team logo Clippers 35-15    29    25    31    23    108
SCORING LEADERS
    L. Aldridge SA
27 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST
    K. Leonard LAC
22 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST

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