Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Thursday, May 13, 2021.
FOUR cities outside Metro Manila that reported a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases have been tagged as “high risk areas” just as the capital is seeing a decline in infections, OCTA Research said. The new Covid-19 hotspots were the cities of Zamboanga, Puerto Princesa, Baguio and Tuguegarao. Cases in Zamboanga and Puerto Princesa rose by 47 percent and 35 percent, respectively. This is equivalent to at least 151 new cases per day in Zamboanga City and 60 cases per day in Puerto Princesa.
ISRAELI Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz is hopeful that the renewed armed conflict between his country and Hamas group in Palestine will not escalate and affect the rest of the Middle East where millions of Filipinos work. Speaking during a roundtable of The Manila Times, Harpaz denounced Hamas’ rocket attacks on the civilian population in Israel.
BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno and Solicitor General Jose Calida were the highest-earning government officials in 2020, a report from the Commission on Audit (CoA) showed. Diokno got P19.7 million while Calida earned P15.6 million, based on CoA’s Report on Salaries and Allowances.
The World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the SAR-CoV-2 variant first identified in India as “a variant of global concern,” which shows that the mutation may be more transmissible, more likely to cause infections and more potent than current vaccines, some Chinese experts said. They warned that if the epidemic affects more of India’s neighboring countries, it could lead to a disastrous crisis.
SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the government to tighten its guard against the entry of the B1617 coronavirus variant blamed for India’s worst Covid-19 outbreak. The Department of Health (DoH) on Tuesday reported the detection of the Indian variant in two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with no travel history to India.
DESPITE claims China has withdrawn a significant number of vessels from Philippine waters, a government task force overseeing the West Philippine Sea (WPS) reported the presence of nearly 300 Chinese vessels mostly in the Kalayaan Island Group. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who also heads the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, disclosed military patrols reported the presence of 287 Chinese vessels in several features, mostly classified as maritime militia. Majority of the Chinese vessels spotted were in China-built artificial islands “while some were observed near islands occupied by the Philippines,” Esperon said in a statement.
In business, Fitch Solutions on Wednesday downgraded its 2021 Philippine economic growth projection to 5.3 percent from 5.8 percent as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic continues to hamper businesses. In a report, Fitch said the country’s economy will struggle to recover. Fitch’s latest forecast is below the government’s 6.5- to 7.5-percent growth projection for this year. It is, however, a turnaround from the -9.6 percent reported last year. According to Fitch, the tighter restrictions imposed on Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal in mid-March to May this year will have a huge impact on economic activity in the second quarter. It added that the slow vaccine rollout will also affect economic growth for the year.
Topping sports, Filipino rower Cris Nievarez will try to learn as much as he can in his first Olympic stint in the Tokyo Games in July. The knowledge and the experience that Nievarez, only 21 years young, will get in Tokyo, he will use to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where he will be stronger, more experienced and thus, has a better chance of making the podium.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Yen Makabenta, Antonio Contreras and Arch. Felino Palafox, Jr. are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta believes the lockdown is a total policy failure, Contreras reminds readers that racists do not represent Filipinos, while Arch. Palafox dicsusses airport-driven cities.
Today’s editorial talks about the sale of the Malaya power plant being good news for the country’s energy outlook. Read the full version on the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.
With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe Thursday ahead.