KUWTT: Duterte skips Asean summit Apr. 23, 2021

Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, April 22, 2021.

READ: Duterte skips Asean summit

President Rodrigo Duterte will not attend a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Jakarta, Indonesia this weekend, Malacañang announced on Thursday. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte would not join because of the “face-to-face” requirements of the meeting. He will be represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. Roque did not elaborate on the issues. The DFA confirmed that Duterte designated Locsin as his special envoy to the Asean Leaders’ Meeting to be held on April 24 at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia.

READ: Another hospital given permit to use ivermectin

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed another hospital to use ivermectin against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). It is the third hospital to be granted a compassionate special permit or CSP to use the antiparasitic drug as possible treatment for Covid-19. FDA chief Eric Domingo said another unnamed hospital also has a pending request. He added that two companies applied for a certificate of product registration for ivermectin.

READ: PH press freedom ranking drops

The Philippines’ press freedom ranking fell by two notches, placing 138th out of 180 countries ranked by Reporters sans frontières (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Thursday. In its 2021 World Press Freedom Index, RSF reported that the Philippines possesses “state troll armies [that] use the weapon of disinformation on social media,” like Russia, India and Vietnam. It also said that Filipino journalists have been attacked by pro-government activists, with the group noting similar incidents in Bangladesh and India. In its summary of the situation of journalism in the country, RSF noted how the Duterte administration targeted the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), waged a “grotesque judicial harassment campaign” against the online news platform Rappler and its executive editor and chief executive officer (CEO) Maria Ressa, and the “threats and intimidation” faced by ABS-CBN network. All three media organizations have been the subject of tirades by Duterte.

READ: Karl Chua named NEDA chief

President Rodrigo Duterte has finally appointed Karl Kendrick Chua as  secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Malacañang confirmed on Thursday. Chua’s appointment came a year after the President tapped him as acting NEDA secretary following the resignation of Ernesto Pernia. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Chua served the Duterte administration “with professionalism, competence and integrity” as undersecretary of the Department of Finance (DoF) and acting secretary of the NEDA.

READ: US urged to donate ‘excess’ vaccines to PH

A leader of the House of Representatives urged the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, to donate its “extra” Covid-19 vaccines to the country. Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez noted that the US has inoculated over 200 million of its 330-million population. The lawmaker cited reports quoting Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical officer on Covid-19 of the White House, saying the American government will “no longer need the millions of doses” it agreed to purchase from British-Swedish manufacturer AstraZeneca. Rodriguez said that greater access to Western made jabs would lessen the Philippines’ “dependence” on China in the procurement of vaccines. He lamented that Filipinos were left with no choice but the Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine CoronaVac.

BUSINESS: P122B raised from euro bond offer

Topping business, the government has returned to the international market for the second time this year by raising 2.1-billion euros (P122 billion) from its latest triple-tranche bond offering, which will be used for budgetary support. In a statement on Thursday, National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon said the total amount raised from the euro bond offering was composed of 650 million euros for the four-year tenor, 650 million euros for the 12-year tenor, and 800 million euros for the 20-year tenor.

SPORTS: 6 PH fencers aim for Olympic spots

In sports, the Philippine fencing team left the country Wednesday night to compete in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated on April 25-26 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Vying for Olympic slots are 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jylyn Nicanor and CJ Concepcion in the sabre event, Hanniel Abella and Noelito Jose in the epee event, and Nathaniel Perez and former UAAP juniors MVP Samantha Catantan in the foil event. With the exception of  Catantan, who recently won bronze medal and helped Penn State University clinch runner-up honors in the US NCAA Fencing Championships, the Filipino fencers were joined by national head coach Roland Canlas and Armand Bernal in a 9:30 flight to Istanbul where the former University of the East champion fencer will join the team. The national fencing team underwent a two-month bubble training in Ormoc City under the supervision of Mayor Richard Gomez, who is also president of  Philippine Fencing Association (PFA).

READ: Opinion and editorial

Rigoberto Tiglao and Ruben Torres are today’s front page columnists. Tiglao believes the Chinese maritime militia invasion was a hoax, while Torres talks about workers facing off against the military of Myanmar.

Today’s editorial talks about the climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden. 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 Friday ahead.