KUWTT: Homegrown variant detected in CVisayas Mar 13, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, March 13, 2021.

READ: Homegrown variant detected in CVisayas

The variant that carries the two mutations of the Covid-19 virus protein in Central Visayas was found to be indigenous to the country. The so-called Philippine variant, or P.3, was detected in the more than 70 Covid-19 cases with “mutations of clinical concern” that were detected in the region in the past weeks. Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ Task Force on Emerging Variants, said P.3 emerged from the B1128, the most common lineage of SARS-CoV-2 — severe acute respiratory system coronavirus 2 — the virus that causes Covid-19. B1128 also mutated from P.1 or the Brazilian variant, which is more infectious and could reinfect people previously diagnosed with Covid-19.

READ: Concepcion to help get Indian vaccine for MSMEs

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd has offered to help bring the India-developed Covaxin to the Philippines so workers in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can get their Covid-19 shots. Concepcion, also the founder of Go Negosyo, revealed the negotiations for Covaxin during a meeting with Ambica International Corp. and IP Biotech, the vaccine’s distributors. He said he hopes to be able to secure from 8 million to 20 million doses of Covaxin. The country’s partnership with India, considered as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, will be “significant and a game-changer,” according to Concepcion. He expects the Covaxin to be delivered by the second quarter, or around May, and “priced at the best possible minimum.”

READ: Go hedges on 2022 poll plan

SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday squelched speculations that he was running for president in next year’s elections. There are reports that Go was being considered as the standard bearer of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). He brushed aside the reports, saying his focus now was to continue serving the people as a senator until his term ends in 2025.

READ: World Bank, ADB okays $900-M loan for Covid jabs

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have approved a total of $900 million (about P43.65 billion) worth of financing to be extended to Manila to fund its purchase of anti-coronavirus disease vaccines. In a statement on Friday, the World Bank announced that its executive directors green-lighted the $500-million loan package to support the Philippine government’s program to purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, strengthen the country’s health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.

READ: 11 charged in Dacera case

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday filed criminal charges against the medico-legal of the Southern Police District (SPD) and 10 other individuals in connection with the death of flight attendant Christine Dacera on January 1. Charged before the Department of Justice were SPD medico-legal officer Maj. Michael Nick Sarmiento, Mark Anthony Rosales, Rommel Galido, John Pascual Dela Serna 3rd, Darwin Joseph Macalla, Gregorio Angelo Rafael de Guzman, Jezreel Rapinan, Alain Chen, Reymar Englis, Atty. Neptali Maroto and Louie de Lima. The respondents were charged with attempting to deliver or to give away illegal drugs, perjury, obstruction of justice, reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and falsification of an official document by a public officer.

READ: Garin, others face 53 civil suits, P196M in damages

THE Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Friday filed an initial batch of 53 civil suits before a Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) against former Health secretary and now Rep. Janette Garin and other co-accused, with the victims’ relatives demanding a total of P196 million in damages. Interviewed by The Manila Times, PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said except for two, which were filed before Branches 104 and 215, the rest were filed before Branch 226. Aside from Garin, also named co-accused were former, as well as current government officials and top executives of Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd, PAO said.

BUSINESS: Trade shortfall widens to $2.4B in January

Topping business, the country’s trade deficit in January hit its largest level in one year as the value of imports remains bigger than exports, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed on Friday. According to the statistics agency, inbound shipments contracted by 14.9 percent year-on-year to $7.91 billion and outbound ones declined by 5.2 percent to $5.48 billion. This resulted in the trade balance posting a gap of $2.42 billion in the first month of 2021, lower than $3.50 billion a year ago but bigger than $2.14 billion last December. It is the largest since the figure in January 2020.

SPORTS: Ginebra re-signs Thompson

Over to sports, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel signed its star guard Scottie Thompson to a contract extension. Thompson announced his signing on Friday over his social media pages. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is expected to be a maximum three- year pact. A four-time PBA All-Star, the 27-year-old Thompson helped Ginebra win five PBA championships, including the 2020 Philippine Cup bubble tournament where he normed 11.0 points, a team high 8.8 rebounds and a league- high 5.8 assists in 36.5 minutes per game. Thompson’s resume also includes the Finals MVP in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta believes the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are a travesty to constitutional administration, while Tulfo asks if it is in the Philippine culture or a lack of education, as he discusses the recent firing of Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro and also believes consul general to Syria Alex Lamadrid should not be serving in the foreign office after ignoring the plight of Filipino domestic helpers in that country.

Today’s editorial hits the recent call of the Philippine National Police to ban public displays of affection. Read the full version on the paper’s Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.

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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe weekend ahead.