KUWTT: MECQ proposed if ‘bubble’ fails Mar 25, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Thursday, March 25, 2021.

READ: MECQ proposed if ‘bubble’ fails

OCTA Research, the academe-based group that tracks the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases, said a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) should be imposed if the “bubble” system in the National Capital Region (NCR) would fail to control the virus surge. The group issued the statement as the Department of Health admitted that the rise in cases eclipsed that in 2020. It said the number of weekly cases surpassed the peak recorded in the first surge that was experienced from July to August last year. In a televised briefing, Octa Research Senior Fellow Professor Ranjit Rye said while the group was hoping that the so-called NCR Plus bubble would work, the increase was at a “very high momentum” that it might be impossible to lower cases in a week. Octa reported on Wednesday that the reproduction rate in Metro Manila was 1.99, which means a person infected with Covid-19 can infect two more. New cases in the NCR averaged more than 3,600 cases per day, or a 62 percent increase from the previous reporting week, while the daily attack rate in the capital is now at 25.9 infections per 100,000 population. On Wednesday, the Philippines logged 6,666 new cases, pushing the total active case count to 91,754. the highest ever. The country now has 684,311 Covid-19 cases.

READ: Private sector to pour vaccine donations to NCR

THE private sector has decided to direct its vaccine donations to Metro Manila as the capital remains the epicenter of the pandemic, Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd said on Wednesday. Concepcion, also founder of Go Negosyo, said he had discussed the matter with czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

READ: Belgica named PACC chief

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner and former Manila councilor Greco Belgica as chairman of the PACC, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. confirmed on Wednesday. The commission marked its third year anniversary on Wednesday. Belgica vowed to intensify the agency’s anti-corruption efforts.

READ: DoH tackles hospitals’ manpower shortage

THE Department of Health (DoH) has started accounting which hospitals need additional health care workers to cope with the steep rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country. According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the Department cannot expect hospitals to immediately expand their capacity, as they need assistance from the national government.

READ: 5 mayors face raps for jumping vaccine line

FIVE mayors are being summoned by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for reportedly jumping the line on getting vaccinated against Covid-19. They are Mayors Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City, Leyte; Dibu Tuan of T’boli, South Cotabato; Sulpicio Villalobos of Santo Niño, South Cotabato; Noel Rosal of Legazpi City, Albay; and Abraham Ibba of Bataraza, Palawan. Epimaco Densing 3rd, DILG undersecretary for operations, said the agency believes that there were violations on the local chief executives’ part when they got inoculated despite not being on the priority list.

READ: Senate renews DITO franchise for 25 years

THE Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the measure renewing for another 25 years the franchise of DITO Telecommunity, the country’s third telecommunications company (telco). Seventeen senators voted to renew the franchise. Opposition Senators Ana Theresia Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan voted “no” to the renewal of DITO’s franchise, citing security reasons since it is 40 percent-owned by the Chinese government. Sen. Panfilo Lacson abstained because DITO’s owner, Davao businessman Dennis Uy, is his godson.

BUSINESS: BSP: No Covid exit plan yet

Topping business, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is unlikely to discuss its exit strategy for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) anytime soon, as monetary authorities remain data-driven in crafting policies, according to Governor Benjamin Diokno. He said the timing of the central bank’s exit strategy is critical and will essentially depend on a number of factors such as the outlook on inflation and output, liquidity and credit conditions, financial sector risks, state of public health, as well as global developments and spillovers.

SPORTS: PBA not keen on holding full-bubble

Over to sports, despite the alarming rise of Covid-19 cases in the country, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is not keen on holding a full bubble for its upcoming 46th Philippine Cup. According to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, holding a bubble is the league’s last option. Besides the staggering cost needed to put up a bubble like the one the PBA did in Clark, Pampanga for the 2020 Philippine Cup, which reportedly cost P65 million, Marcial said the mental struggle that the PBA delegation has to endure if the league decides to hold another full bubble tournament is what he is worried about.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Yen Makabenta, Ramon Tulfo, and Arch. Felino Palafox, Jr. are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta honors the late journalist Juan Gatbonton, Tulfo urges President Rodrigo Duterte to listen to the public outcry of the people over the government barring private companies from importing vaccines for the use of their employees, and Arch. Palafox discusses about trees for greener and healthier communities and cities.

Today’s editorial discusses the idea of abolishing the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases being with considerable merit. Read a full version on the paper’s Opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

READ: Agricultural prospects tackled in Times forum

Agricultural concerns will be the focus of an online forum organized by The Manila Times titled “Prospects of Agriculture beyond the Covid pandemic” on Thursday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. It will be shown live on Facebook. Agriculture Secretary William Dar will be the lead discussant, along with Bernardo Villegas, one of the founders of the Center for Research and Communication, and Jose Camacho Jr., chancellor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. See you there!

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