KUWTT: ‘Duterte is dealing with China intrusion’ Apr 16, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, April 16, 2021.

READ: ‘Duterte is dealing with China intrusion’

 President Rodrigo Duterte is “privately” dealing with China’s incursions into the West Philippine Sea (WPS), his spokesman said on Thursday. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. issued the statement after the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that at least 240 suspected Chinese militia vessels were lingering in the disputed waters. Roque called on the public to allow the President to do it in a “private manner” because diplomatic initiatives and efforts the President is doing need not be announced.

READ: 6 PH firms eye vaccine plants

At least six Filipino companies are considering building vaccine manufacturing plants in the country that will make the Philippines vaccine self-sufficient. Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina Guevara said the six companies were in discussions with government agencies for setting up  a fill-and-finish facility or a full-fledged vaccine manufacturing plant. Guevara said having its own vaccine manufacturing facility will allow the government to sustain its immunization program, provide enough doses against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and prepare the country for the next pandemic.

READ: Pandemic bared health care system’s weaknesses

Marikina City Second District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo stressed the need to “overhaul” the health care system to address the weaknesses that were laid bare by the pandemic. During a roundtable interview with The Manila Times, Quimbo said there was a lack of coordination among concerned government agencies. She mentioned the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., which, in many instances, “don’t seem to be talking to each other.”

READ: All approved vaccines safe – Concepcion

Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd on Thursday vouched for the safety and efficacy of all coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines that were authorized or approved for use. The founder of Go Negosyo highlighted the importance of building vaccine confidence especially with the recent setback that the private sector has faced with the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca vaccines on individuals 60 years and below.

READ: DoH asks private firms to help promote vaccines

 Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd on Thursday appealed to the private sector to join the government in encouraging people to get their Covid-19 shots. Duque made the call during the Department of Health’s (DoH) meeting with local food and drug manufacturing companies. He called on private firms to instill in their workers the importance of following minimum public health standards, such as the wearing of face masks and the observance of physical distancing.

READ: Ban on new mining agreements lifted

 PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the moratorium on new mineral agreements to generate job opportunities and spur countryside growth. The President issued Executive Order (EO) 130 that amended EO 79 issued by former president Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2012 that suspended applications for mineral contracts in protected areas, prime agricultural lands, tourism development areas, and other critical places like island ecosystems, among others.

REGIONS: Fish depletion feared in WPS

The country faces a possible fish shortage as some “240,000 kilos of fish are illegally taken from Philippine waters every single day Chinese fishing vessels massed at the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea],” according to the National Task Force for West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS). The task force said the ships found around the Union Banks and Pag-asa Island were about 60 meters in length and could catch at least one ton of fish per day. The imminent fish shortage is echoed by a grassroots environmental group, the Homonhon Environmental Rescue Organization (HERO), which earlier warned the country’s earth materials are also being used in reclamation and infrastructure projects of China on the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

BUSINESS: OFW remittances ease at 3-month low

In business, money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) plunge to its smallest level in three months last February, but supported the year-to-date tally. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data released on Thursday showed that personal remittances — personal transfers in cash or kind and capital transfers between households — amounted to $2.76 billion in the second month of 2021, a 4.62-percent decline from $2.89 billion in January, but a 5.3-percent expansion from $2.62 billion a year earlier. The figure was the lowest since November’s $2.64 billion. In a statement, the central bank traced the year-on-year uptick to the 7.8-percent acceleration in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more to $2.15 billion from $1.99 billion a year ago.

SPORTS: VisMin Cup expels Siquijor team, players

Topping sports, the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup on Thursday expelled the Siquijor Mystics over an alleged game-fixing incident in their game against the ARQ Builders Lapu-Lapu Heroes last Wednesday at the Alcantara Civic Center in Alcantara, Cebu. League chief operating officer Rocky Chan made the announcement following a joint investigation by the VisMin Super Cup and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao believes military officials should keep their mouths shut when it comes to international disputes, while Torres talks about the social media chatter over President Rodrigo Duterte’s health.

Today’s editorial discusses Afghanistan and the “flawed” policy of the United States. 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 Friday ahead.