KUWTT: Daily Covid cases skyrocket to 15,310 Apr 03, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Black Saturday, April 3, 2021.

READ: Daily Covid cases skyrocket to 15,310

The Department of Health (DoH) logged its highest single-day total of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases Friday but attributed the sharp increase to the inclusion of delayed reports from testing centers. Friday’s 15,310 cases jacked up the overall total to 771,497, the DoH reported. The tally included the 3,709 cases that were supposed to have been turned in on March 31. The backlog was responsible for the low 6,128 cases for that day, explained Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. Vergeire blamed the backlog on problems in the department’s CovidKaya app. Positivity was at 20.7 percent, or 7,275 out of the 35,143 tests conducted. Nearly 99 percent of the active cases were mild, moderate or asymptomatic. The rest were either severe or critical. The recovery rate continued to drop at 78.3 percent, or 604,368 recoveries, while 13,320 deaths were recorded. Hospital capacity in the National Capital Region remained tight. ICU beds were 78 percent full, isolation beds at 71 percent and ward beds at 59 percent. Vaccinations in several cities in Metro Manila were suspended during the Holy Week.

READ: Cash or in kind? LGUs can choose form of aid

 Local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal can decide if the emergency assistance to locked-down residents will be cash or packaged relief items. The LGUs were given the discretion to decide the form of aid by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

READ: US vows to back PH in maritime dispute

The United States has assured the Philippines the mutual defense treaty they signed in 1951 applies to growing concerns in the South China Sea, where China has been aggressively pursuing its claims on disputed islets and reefs. Last Thursday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was on the phone with Philippine National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to discuss the massing of Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone or EEZ.

READ: Second Lent under pandemic ends today

Millions of Christians in Covid-19 quarantined areas will mark Black Saturday today , the second time the final day of Lent will be observed in the shadow of the pandemic. Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, said on Friday that because of the lockdown in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, all church activities would be held online.

READ: Gesmundo named new Chief Justice

 PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court. Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Gesmundo is the President’s choice. Panelo said the President has already signed Gesmundo’s appointment paper, but the Palace has yet to release the document to the media as of posting time. Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, and Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, who was appointed by Duterte in 2018, were the other candidates for the post. Gesmundo will be the successor of former chief justice Diosdado Peralta who retired last March 27. Gesmundo is the fourth chief justice appointed by Duterte. The President previously named Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Lucas Bersamin to the judiciary’s top post.

 READ: DILG exec slammed for Robredo rant

The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo responded to Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing 3rd’s calling the second top official of the country “nonessential.” Robredo’s spokesman, lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez, said in his tweet on Thursday that Densing “epitomizes the [administration’s] Covid response.”

READ: Phivolcs renews Taal warning

WITH the Taal Volcano showing persistent seismic activity and gas emissions in past few weeks, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Friday renewed its warning against getting near the volcano, as well as boating around the island. Renato Solidum, Phivolcs chief, told The Manila Times in a phone conversation that some 269 volcanic earthquakes including 219 tremor episodes having durations of one to 37 minutes, 49 low frequency quakes and one volcanic-tectonic earthquake were recorded in the past 24 hours. Solidum also noted that Taal’s emission of sulfur dioxide has continued to increase as some 1,670 tons of volcanic gas were recently measured.

READ: DoJ names new BI port operations chief

DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has designated a new chief for the Bureau of Immigration-Port Operations Division (BI-POD) amid fresh allegations of corruption against immigration airport officers. In an order, Guevarra named lawyer Carlos Capulong as acting POD chief, replacing former acting chief Grifton Medina, who were among the immigration personnel relieved earlier in connection with the controversial “pastillas scam” exposed by Sen. Ana Theresia Hontiveros during a committee hearing last year.

BUSINESS: Producer price index down in Feb

 Topping business, the Producer Price Index for the manufacturing sector continued to move downward at -5.3 percent, the same rate recorded in January 2021, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said. In a report, PSA said in February last year, the PPI declined at an annual rate of -3.0 percent. The downturn was attributed to the decreases in the indices of 17 industry groups led by manufacturers of coke and refined petroleum products which declined by 26.4 percent.

SPORTS: Pacquiao joins Stop Asian Hate campaign

FILIPINO boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao joined the call to stop the hate and violence towards Asian-Americans in the United States. On Thursday, Pacquiao, whose team is reportedly negotiating with WBO welterweight champion Terrence Crawford’s camp for a June 2021 fight, annexed to social media to join the #StopAsianHate movement.

READ: Opinion and editorial

 Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta discusses the issue of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, while Tulfo believes anyone who is endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte is a “kiss of death”.

Today’s editorial disapproves of a longer lockdown amid a rise in Covid-19 cases. Read a 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 Easter weekend.