Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, April 17, 2021.
Workers, teachers and priests have been included in a broad new group of economic frontliners prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the creation of priority group A4 during its meeting Thursday, the task force’s spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Friday. The group includes teachers, commuter transport workers, market vendors, and employees in groceries, supermarkets and delivery services. Also in A4 are priests, rabbis and other religious leaders; security guards assigned in offices, agencies and organizations identified in the list of priority industries; media workers; and overseas Filipino workers.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he sees more deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) because of the global vaccine shortage. During his public address, the President said there is “no sufficient supply” of vaccines to inoculate the world. As of April 13, the country has administered 1, 255, 716 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to medical frontliners, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities. The Philippines has received 3,025,600 doses of vaccines from Sinovac and AstraZeneca. Despite the dearth of vaccines, Duterte assured the public the government was doing its best to secure more doses.
More contact tracers will be hired in Metro Manila starting May 1, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Friday. DILG Officer in Charge Bernardo Florece Jr. said 4,754 contact tracers will be recruited under the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or Tupad program, a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers.
The head of Pfizer said in an interview aired Thursday that people will “likely” need a third dose of his company’s Covid-19 shot within six to 12 months of vaccination while elsewhere defending the relatively higher cost of the jab. CEO Albert Bourla also said annual vaccinations against the coronavirus may well be required.
Malacañang has announced on Friday that the Philippines is extending the ban on foreigners until April 30, 2021 in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. The decision was made during an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting on Thursday. The travel ban on foreigners, which took effect on March 22, was initially set to end on April 21. Exempted from the ban are diplomats and members of international organizations, foreigners involved in medical repatriation, foreign seafarers under the “green lanes” program, foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens traveling with them, and other emergency humanitarian cases approved by the National Task Force Against Covid-19.
READ: DoE asked to explain why Udenna allowed to buy Malampaya stake
SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday wants the Department of Energy (DoE) to justify its decision to green-light the transfer of Chevron’s stake in the Malampaya venture to the company controlled by Udenna. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, said no less than the DoE’s legal department told his committee in a public hearing last November 10, that such a transaction is governed by a DoE circular requiring an evaluation of the technical, legal and financial capacity of the company. He said Presidential Decree (PD) 87 also requires the approval of the DoE on such transfer of shares in upstream petroleum ventures.
THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has given its assurance that the China-funded Binondo-Intramuros bridge would be finished on time despite the pandemic. DPWH Secretary Mark Villar on Friday said the P3.39-billion project, which symbolizes the friendly cooperation between China and the Philippines, would be opened to commuters in the fourth quarter of the year.
BUSINESS: GIR drops to 4-month low at end of March
Over to business, debt servicing by the national government and lower gold prices pulled down the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) to a four-month low of $104.82 billion as of the end of March. Preliminary Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed on Friday that the amount was 0.32 percent lower than the $105.16 billion in February, but 17.95 percent larger than the $88.61 billion a year ago. March’s figure was the smallest foreign reserves level since the $104.81 billion in November last year.
Topping sports, Yuka Saso of the Philippines set a tournament record and gained solo lead on Friday (Philippine time) in the second round of the Lotte Championship at the Kapolei Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii. Saso, who is of Japanese descent, scored another 8-under-par 64 to establish a 36-hole record of 16-under-par 128 in the tournament. Saso’s 128 eclipsed by a single stroke the previous 36-hole record of 129 set by Korean Eun-hee Ji two years ago. The 2020 Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Athlete of the Year awardee incurred a total of nine birdies against one bogey to take a two-shot lead over former world No. 1 Kiwi-Korean Lydia Ko.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta says the republic should focus more on “we the people…”, while Tulfo honors a former retired police general who recently passed on.
Today’s editorial calls on Congress for a special session on Covid-19 relief. 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 weekend ahead.