KUWTT: ‘Bising’ hits Samar, Bicol, thousands flee Apr. 20, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

READ: ‘Bising’ hits Samar, Bicol, thousands flee

THOUSANDS fled their homes as Typhoon “Bising” (international name Surigae) brought widespread flooding in Bicol and Eastern Visayas, the country’s disaster council reported on Monday. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said 18,467 families made up of 68,490 individuals were evacuated even before “Bising” struck. The agency did not have a breakdown of evacuees from the two regions. The second typhoon to hit the country this year did not come ashore, but it brought torrential rain. The NDRRMC reported 22 flooding incidents in the towns of Can-avid and Jipadpad in Eastern Samar on Sunday.

READ: Variants ‘not yet dominant’ — DoH

THE Department of Health (DoH) believes that Covid-19 variants are not driving the pandemic in the country despite the rise in variant cases detected through genome sequencing. Last Sunday, the DoH reported 642 out of the 752 samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) were either B.117, B.1.351, or the P.3 variants of Covid-19. B.117 and B.1.351 are considered “variants of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), while P.3, first detected in Central Visayas, is a variant still under investigation. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday she cannot say if the surge were caused by variants because the department was only receiving “bits and pieces” of samples from the regions.

READ: Ramp up vaccination drive — Bong Go

SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go called on the government to ramp up its vaccination program by bringing vaccines in villages and subdivisions. He also asked government officials to provide detailed guidelines on required processes to be followed by those who are next in line or are eligible to get a jab. Go reiterated the need to ensure accessible, efficient and orderly vaccine rollout to lessen the waiting time and exposure of the public. He urged the Department of Health to spread out vaccination centers in villages and consider administering vaccines in smaller residential clusters.

READ: Lawyers’ group denounces ‘provocative’ acts at sea

A LAWYERS’ group on Monday called on China to end its supposed “provocative” acts in the West Philippine Sea and instead help nations in battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. In a statement, the Philippine College of Jurisconsults said as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage nations “the last thing we need are threats to peace.” The group said it is provocative for China to let its vessels stay in Philippine waters.

READ: LGUs urged: Supervise community pantries  

THE Department of Health (DoH) urged local government units (LGUs) to supervise the emerging community pantries to prevent a possible Covid-19 spreader event. The makeshift establishments where people can get donated fresh produce have caught on throughout the country. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said while the DoH recognizes that the pantries are an important way to help those in need especially during the pandemic, LGUs need to oversee them to prevent a widespread virus transmission.

READ: Duterte not bothered by oust report – Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte is not bothered by reports that some high-ranking military members are allegedly working for his ouster because of the way he handled the Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea. Roque dismissed as “kwentong kutsero (baseless)” reports there are military generals withdrawing support for Duterte. The Palace official added the Chief Executive sees no reason for the military to oust him.

READ: Binondo-Intramuros bridge to open this year

DESPITE the coronavirus pandemic, the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge is on track to be completed this year, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said on Monday. The project involves the construction of a steel arch bridge that will connect the historic district of Intramuros and Manila’s old business district in Binondo. The bridge will link Solana Street and Riverside Drive in Intramuros with Rentas Street/Plaza del Conde Street and Muelle dela Industria in Binondo. A viaduct structure will also be built on the Estero de Binondo. The bridge design symbolizes the friendly cooperation between Philippines and China.

BUSINESS: PH weakest performer in Asia-Pacific

Over to business, the Philippines will be one of the weakest performers in the Asia Pacific region this year as the country struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and faces a severe vaccine shortage, Moody’s Analytics said. In a report released on Monday, Moody’s Analytics said the situation in the country is “dire”, further noting that the government was not able to bring down the number of cases appreciably and now suffers under a new peak caseload.

SPORTS: LGU outside NCR, Dubai group offers to host PBA bubble

Topping sports, a local government unit is offering itself as host of the upcoming Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) season 46 Philippine Cup, according to league commissioner Willie Marcial. Marcial said this LGU is far from the National Capital Region (NCR). As of press time, Marcial is discussing with the PBA board about this LGU, along with the other important matters of the league. A new target opening date and schedule for the Philippine Cup, a tournament in a full or semi-bubble, and vaccination of the players are just some of the things up for discussion. With Clark, Pampanga —  the place where the PBA held its 2020 Philippine Cup bubble — looking unavailable as it will host the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers set from June 16 to 20, the PBA is looking at other options, if and when it decides to hold another bubble.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta discusses the Julian Felipe Reef issue, while Tulfo believes there are words better left unsaid by the government.

Today’s editorial discusses the controversy at the VisMin Super Cup basketball tournament. 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 day ahead of you.