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PH economy expands 6.2 percent in Q3 to outpace growth of China, other neighbors

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PH economy expands 6.2 percent in Q3 to outpace growth of China, other neighbors

The Philippine economy grew 6.2 percent in the July-to-September period, lifting the year-to-date growth to 5.8 percent, or just a little slower than the government’s full-year target of 6 percent to 7 percent.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Philippines performed better in the third quarter of the year compared to other Asian countries.

“The Philippines likely ranked second behind Vietnam’s 7.3 percent but higher than China’s 6.0 percent, India’s expected Q3 growth of below 6.0 percent, and Indonesia’s 5.0 percent for the period,” Pernia said.

The economy now needs to expand by at least 6.7 percent in the final quarter of 2019 to reach the lower end of the government’s full-year growth target.

This, according to Pernia, is still doable, with the expected surge in private consumption for the holiday season, as well as the higher spending from the government and more investments from private firms.

“Yesterday, the Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet level and the Committee on Infrastructure approved the updated list of infrastructure flagship projects of the Duterte administration, subject to further refinements. We deem that these projects are more feasible, responsive to medium and long-term demands and challenges towards uplifting the quality of life of the Filipino people, especially those being left behind. Thus, we call on our colleagues in the government, the private sector, partner international organizations, and the citizenry at large to work together to overcome hurdles and ensure that these projects get completed on time, or at least started substantially,” Pernia added.

He added: “For the remaining months of the year, the benign inflation outlook, and more upbeat consumer confidence, are expected to stimulate private consumption, especially with the nearing holiday season that has begun.”

“Meanwhile, the expansionary monetary policy stance of the government is expected to encourage private investments. The Central Bank has already cut its key policy rates by a cumulative 75 basis points this year. It has also lowered banks’ reserve requirement by a total of 400 bps – including the recent 100bps reduction for thrift banks effective December 2019.” 

The agriculture sector is also expected to boost growth in the last quarter of the year, especially with the relatively favorable weather conditions providing the opportune time to ramp up agricultural production, particularly of high-value crops. 

“We note that the upbeat performance of the agriculture sector, growing by 3.1 percent in the Q3 from 0.8 percent earlier this year, was driven by increased production of corn, coconut and pineapple.  We urge the Department of Agriculture and other concerned agencies to swiftly implement the programs and projects under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.  Perhaps, among the priority projects should be the provision of mechanical dryers, particularly in areas where we lack “solar drying” facilities. As the harvest season is ongoing, the government should continue to directly buy palay from local producers affected by the unprecedented decline in farm gate prices to help curb their losses,” Pernia said.

To counter the risk of the spread of African Swine Fever, the government must continue to enforce its biosecurity measures. More stringent quarantine checkpoints, provision of disinfection facilities, and intensified anti-smuggling and meat inspection efforts are also needed, he added.

“As we can see, the Philippine economy has been steadily growing for the past three years. We expect to sustain this momentum in the following years and cement the Philippines’ standing as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia,” Pernia said.

Philippines eyes safeguard measure in curbing influx of imported rice

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Philippines eyes safeguard measure in curbing influx of imported rice
Image Credit: National Food Authority

The Philippines is now looking at the possibility of using a trade remedy available to World Trade Organization (WTO) members in stopping the downtrend in rice prices that has been hurting Filipino farmers since the Rice Tariffication Law was implemented. 

In an advisory of the WTO, the multilateral trading body said the Philippines has initiated last September 11 a preliminary safeguard investigation on rice.

Manila notified the WTO Committee on Safeguard of its action last September 13.

“[I]interested parties are requested to submit their comments and position on this matter thru the Policy Research Service (PRS), 3rd Floor, Department of Agriculture, Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, 1100, within five (5) days from the date of publication of this notice. For inquiries and other details, please contact the PRS at tel. nos. (02) 926-7439, 920-4084 or at fax no. 928-9590 an email address: [email protected],” the WTO said in its advisory.

A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or is threatening to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry. During a safeguard investigation, importers, exporters and other interested parties may present evidence and views and respond to the presentations of other parties.

A WTO member may take a safeguard action (i.e. restrict imports of a product temporarily) only if the increased imports of the product are found to be causing, or threatening to cause, serious injury.

The latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed said rice prices in the country have dropped by an average of 5.2 percent in August 2019 compared to the same month last year. This was the fourth consecutive month of deflation for rice.

The record-low inflation rate was largely due to the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law, or Republic Act (RA) 11203. The new policy replaced the quantitative restriction scheme in the importation of rice.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the former chief of the DA,  said the massive inflow of imported rice “has boxed out local farmers producing ordinary rice from the market resulting in very low farm gate prices, to as low as P10 to P12 in many parts in Mindanao.”

Duterte to cops: Accept gifts from grateful people

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President Duterte is allowing policemen to accept gifts—be they in cash or in kind—from people recognizing their efforts without fear of being charged with graft.

“Especially if you’re a policeman, if you’re able to solve a crime, and the family would like to be generous to you, or would nurture a feeling of gratitude for what you accomplished, then by all means, accept it,” Duterte said in his address at the 118th Philippine National Police (PNP) Police Service Anniversary on Friday (August 9).

Duterte stressed that he does not see the logic in the provisions of the anti-graft law barring policemen from accepting gifts given out of generosity or gratitude.

What he does not allow, the Chief Executive stressed, is for uniformed men to become greedy and engage in corruption by demanding more than what was given to them. 

“If you are just content of, maybe you want ₱50,000 and you’re able to get something like ₱25,000 or ₱20,000, be content. Do not allow your greed to run away with all the alam mo na, kalokohan.”

This is still consistent with his pronouncement in his last State of the Nation Address, where he encouraged the public to create a scene when a government employee would demand bribes from them.

Duterte is known for thinking—and acting—outside the box, and is brazen enough to challenge conventional governance to accomplish his goals through his political will.

He assured the policemen that he will not sanction those that will accept gifts from generous people recognizing their efforts because it is not bribery. 

“It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law,” said Duterte, who previously worked as a prosecutor.

‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ airs 1,000th episode

in Entertainment/Tabloid PH Showbiz
Ang probinsyano
image credit: ABS-CBN

The Philippines’s top primetime TV series “FPJ’s Ang Pobinsyano” starring Coco Martin just aired its 1,000th episode on Thursday night (August 8).

The series, based on the hit movie of the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) in 1997, has been the top draw of ABS-CBN Channel 2 since its first episode aired on September 28, 2015.

The lead character, Ricardo Dalisay (played by Coco Martin), a provincial cop who transferred to the metropolis, has faced many villains in the series, from syndicates to rebels, terrorists and corrupt politicians.

It has featured budding and veteran artists, including action star-turned-politician Lito Lapid, who managed to win another senatorial seat in the May 2019 midterm elections.

Coco Martin, prior to the showing of the 1,000th episode of “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano”, thanked the fans and all those responsible for the success of the series in a video posted on the ABS-CBN website. 

He said: ”Sa lahat po ng hanggang ngayon ay sumusubaybay at nanonood po ng ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’ kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa inyo. Sa lahat po ng staff, crew at sa lahat po ng artista, sa lahat po ng bumubuo ng ‘Ang Probinsyano’, maraming, maraming salamat po sa walang sawang pagmamahal at suportang ibinibigay niyo sa amin gabi-gabi. Kaya pilit po naming pinagbubuti at pinapaganda ang bawat episode para matumbasan po namin ang pagmamahal na ibinibigay niyo. Maraming, maraming salamat po.” 

Veteran actress Susan Roces, widow of FPJ and grandmother of Ricardo Dalisay in the TV series, also thanked the fans for their continuing support: “Mga ka-Probinsyano, kayo ang nagsisilbing inspirasyon sa aming mga ginagawa dito. Kahit anong pagod namin sulit na sulit. Maraming maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.”

Rumored Bea-Gerald-Julia love triangle now a ‘national issue

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Bea-Gerald-Julia love triangle

Even a justice of the Supreme Court (SC) and a lawmaker couldn’t resist the itch of sharing their thoughts on the Bea Alonzo-Julia Barreto rift via the social media on Wednesday morning.

image credit: Supreme court of the Philippines

SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s tweet on Wednesday morning directed a question on the two actresses: “Dear Bea and Julia, is he really worth it? #JustAsking”.

Justice Leonen, of course, was referring to Gerald Anderson, who was accused by Bea—not yet directly though—in her social media posts of having an affair with Julia that led to their breakup.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon then re-tweeted Leonen’s “query” and commented: “You know it has become a national issue when a justice of the SC asks a clarificatory question. Now I’m contemplating to file an inquiry in aid of legislation.”

Gerald already denied in an interview with ABS-CBN last Monday the innuendos of a third party—particularly Julia—causing his split-up with Bea.

But as a retort, Bea “liked” an instagram post of actor John Lloyd Cruz that says: “Kung magsisinungaling ka galing galingan mo!!” Apparently, Bea was sending the message that Gerald was lying.

Julia also went to Instagram to deny involvement with Gerald and also to tell Bea that she became a subject of social media attacks because of hints that she was the third party in the love triangle.

She said: “I would like to disassociate myself from the breakup of Bea and Gerald. Their issues are entirely their own…Bea, you kept your hands clean by not mentioning me in your controversial post, but with a click of your finger, in your sly way, you have charged everybody to destroy me FOR YOU. You have encouraged a culture of hate by purposely liking harmless photos, putting malice into the minds of many, which resulted in the outrage of insults against me. You are a woman of great influence and following. You could have used that power to promote strength and grace in women, but instead, you’ve used that to promote social media irresponsibility. That is downright bullying. You can play victim all you want. But I refuse to be your victim…This is me setting myself free and getting my soul back.”

Their showbiz friends and family were also dragged into the social media rampage, with Bela Padilla getting “super hateful” comments after a picture of her having dinner with Bea came out.

The root of the feud was a video that circulated wherein Julia and Gerald were seen together.

Now, the names Julia, Bea Alonzo and Gerald are trending topics on Twitter worldwide. And with top government officials now also saying their piece on the matter, it has indeed become a national issue.

86% of Pinoys say sweep of admin bets in 2019 senatorial polls ‘believable’

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The 12-0 sweep of senatorial candidates allied to President Duterte in the May 2019 polls has been accepted by nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos to be “believable”, according to the post-election survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS).

The survey, conducted from June 22 to 26 with 1,200 respondents nationwide, revealed that 86 percent of Filipinos do not doubt the resounding victory of the administration-endorsed bets in the midterm polls, which analysts say reflects the continuing strong support being enjoyed by Duterte from his countrymen.

Cynthia Villar topped the senatorial race with 25,273,727 votes, followed by Grace Poe, 22,029,788; Christopher “Bong” Go, 20,657,702; Pia Cayetano, 19,789,019; Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, 19,004,225; Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, 18,161,862; Lito Lapid, 16,965,464; Imee Marcos, 15,882,628; Francis Tolentino, 15,510,026; Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, 14,668,665; Ramon “Bong” Revilla, 14,624,445, and Nancy Binay, 14,504,936.

The SWS survey also showed the 88 percent of Filipinos accept the election results for the House of Representatives, 84 percent for governors and 89 for mayors.

Overall, 80 percent were satisfied with the conduct of the May 2019 elections, with only 12 percent dissatisfied and 7 percent undecided.

The SWS classified the +68 net satisfaction score as “very good”, although it was 5 percentage points lower than the net satisfaction score recorded in the post-election survey for the May 2016 national polls, where Duterte emerged as the landslide winner in the presidential race. 

Even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) received a good review in the survey, with 79 percent of the respondents saying the polling body “performed independently without favoring any candidate or group.” Only 10 percent disagreed that Comelec conducted the May 2019 elections independently.

Reports confirm John Lloyd Cruz – Ellen Adarna split-up

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ellen john llyod bea

Showbiz reports are abuzz with the breakup of John Lloyd Cruz and Ellen Adarna. The two have a one-year-old son who is now with Ellen.

It was Ellen who told John Lloyd that she is no longer in love with him, and reports said the actor is now barred from meeting the former sexy actress, who belongs to a wealthy family in Cebu.

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Motherhood looks good on you 😍 @emg.a

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John Lloyd is now reportedly in Vietnam, while Ellen is in Thailand.

Two days ago, the news on their breakup was only in the form of blind items. Now, showbiz writers are openly writing about it, and even confirming that it was Ellen who called it quits.

Ellen reportedly revealed her feelings to her friends first, and then people started hearing about it through the grapevine.

It was a pity for John Lloyd, who opted to stay away from showbiz to focus on his relationship with Ellen and their son. But being together a lot—because both of them don’t work—was also cited as one of the reasons for their split-up. Ellen probably grew tired of it, or was just too bored already to keep the relationship.

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❤️❤️❤️

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Will John Lloyd make an immediate comeback to the film industry? This could be a good timing because his love interest in past movies, Bea Alonzo, also just parted ways with Gerald Anderson. 

The Bea-Gerald breakup was actually the talk of the town in the previous days — the reason being their frequent fights. 

Seems like a good plot already for a John Lloyd-Bea movie.

Declaration of ‘national dengue epidemic’ likely

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Declaration of ‘national dengue epidemic’ likely
Image Credit: Gov.PH

The Department of Health (DOH) has set a meeting today to validate figures that will be used as basis in upgrading the current “national dengue alert” to a “national dengue epidemic” to enable the government to better mobilize resources in preventing the further spread of the deadly disease.

Interviewed at the ABS-CBN News Channel, DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said they are now getting all the data from the previous weeks. They have found out that in just a span of one week—or in the third week of July—there were 10,000 cases of dengue reported.

Current estimated cases of dengue nationwide have reached 146,000 already.

Last July 15, Health Secretary Francisco Duque declared a national dengue alert. Data reaching Duque that time showed the dengue cases had risen to 106,630 from January 1 to June 29, 2019, from only 57,564 cases in the same period last year. Regions Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao had exceeded the epidemic threshold. Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera Administrative Region, on the other hand, exceeded the alert threshold.

Today, Domingo said more regions exceeded the epidemic threshold, including Calabrazon, Bicol and Eastern Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula. Bordering between alert and epidemic levels are Ilocos region, Central Visayas and BARMM.

A national epidemic can be declared if at least half of the country’s regions have reached the epidemic level.

“We are going to consolidate all the data today and have a meeting at the department for that,” Domingo said. “Once we get all the information in, yes, it is very likely (that we will declare a national dengue epidemic).”

He noted that by declaring a national epidemic, government resources and instrumentalities will be mobilized further.

“We get to work with other govt agencies, the DILG, PNP, Department of Education, and tighten up our activities a little more and raise up the bar, because when we have these cases going on. we really have to do everything to make sure they don’t increase,” he added. “You can activate the NDRRMC and (have) all the government (agencies) working together for one particular activity, in this case, prevention of dengue.”

The problem, he said, will likely persist up to September due to the rainy season, noting that water that remained stagnant for three days is enough to breed mosquitoes. 

The best thing to do on the part of the public for now, Domingo added, is to ensure they maintain cleanliness in their surroundings, remove all stagnant water and have proper attire for kids. 

The hospitals are ready to treat patients suspected with dengue, especially those with continuous fever for three days.

“Hello, Love, Goodbye” earns P176.6M in 4 days

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“Hello, Love, Goodbye”

As of August 3, or after four days of showing, the Alden Richards-Kathryn Bernardo romantic movie “Hello, Love, Goodbye” has already raked in over P176 million in cinema receipts, Star Cinema announced.

The movie is now being shown in 465 cinemas nationwide, a record in the Philippine showbiz industry.

Star Cinema shouted on its official website: “Hello, Love, Goodbye has earned P176,637,000.05 after just four days in cinemas!

The Cathy Garcia-Molina film has officially taken the country by storm, touching the lives and hearts of millions. It tells the story of Joy (Kathryn Bernardo), a millennial OFW who met Ethan (Alden Richards), a Pinoy bartender in Hong Kong. It was graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.”

It is now also on course of beating the all-time Philippine box office record of P900 million in gross earnings currently held by “The Hows Of Us”, which starred Kathryn and her boyfriend Daniel Padilla in 2018.

The strong showing of “Hello, Love, Goodbye” is being credited to the full support of the combined fandom of KathNiel, AlDub, GMA Kapuso and ABS-CBN Kapamilya, who braved the heavy rains caused by Hanging Habagat (southwest monsoon) just so they could see personally if the much-hyped on-screen chemistry between Kathryn and Alden is true. And they did not go home disappointed.

Entertainment columnists are now harping the possibility of another project of Alden and Star Cinema, with Bea Alonzo as the next leading lady.

Alden, himself, had said he wants to do a movie with Bea, and it seems Star Cinema will be granting his wish soon, especially with the good work ethic he displayed in the filming of “Hello, Love, Goodbye” even if he is from the rival network.

Villanuevas resurrect anti-endo measure

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Villanuevas resurrect anti-endo measure
photo from twitter / instagram

Senator Joel Villanueva and Party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva have resurrected the vetoed Security of Tenure Bill—also known as the anti-endo bill—in Congress, although the father-and-son tandem is seen to face an uphill battle as they are still pushing provisions already thumbed down by President Duterte.

Senator Villanueva filed Senate Bill No. 806 while his father, who is now the representative of CIBAC Party-list, filed House Bill 3367, both seeking to end the practice of labor contracting, especially the so-called endo scheme where workers are being hired for only five months and then rehired for another five months to skirt the rules on regularization of employees.

President Duterte vetoed the original Security of Tenure Bill approved in the previous Congress as it “unduly broadens the scope and definition” of endo, in the process banning other forms of contractualization that give employers flexibility and do not necessarily harm employees.

“Indeed, while labor-only contracting must be prohibited, legitimate job-contracting should be allowed, provided that the contractor is well-capitalized,” the President said in his veto message.

With the bill approved in the previous Congress, it now needs to be refiled so changes can be introduced to it.

However, the younger Villanueva said the bill he filed “is exactly the same measure that was certified as a priority and urgent by the President.” The senator believes that Duterte was only misinformed when he vetoed the bill.

Rep. Villanueva, on the other hand, stressed that the bill is not anti-investors. His bill, the elder Villanueva said, seeks the creation of industry tripartite councils that will help determine which business operations will be allowed to hire workers on a contractual basis.

“The battle for decades of the working class to be freed from economic injustice was delayed but we will not stop until social justice is served and the rights of the people are honored. In the name of fairness and order in our business and labor sectors, and most of all, for the sake of our Filipino laborers who have been constantly living in fear of finding not just a new job but new means to support their families once their (supposedly illegal) contract ends, the passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” he said in his bill.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the Department of Labor and Employment will be presenting its version of the bill to both houses of Congress for consideration.

What Duterte wants, he noted, is a balance between the welfare of workers and the interests of employers.  “He’s (Duterte) making a balancing act — weighing the interest of management and the working class… We have to educate ourselves, each one of us. Let us go for what is more beneficial to the country.”

Filipinos take a beating from Mother Nature

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Filipinos take a beating from Mother Nature
AFP/Getty

From monsoon rains to tornadoes and waves as big houses, Filipinos are taking a beating from nature’s wrath over the last 48 hours, with Tropical Depression Hanna seen to make weather conditions worse as it enhances southwest monsoon (Hanging Habagat).

On Saturday (August 3), around 150 houses were destroyed in coastal villages in Davao City after they were hit by waves as big as the structures themselves.

While no one was reported injured due to the preparedness measures instituted by the local government, the big waves displaced at least 357 families, according to reports. The big waves were triggered by the monsoon and are a yearly occurrence.

In Negros Occidental, some 50 houses were damaged by two tornadoes around 10:30 am on August 3. No one was reported injured by the tornadoes that hit the La Carlota City and the town of Pontevedra.

About an hour earlier, another tornado destroyed at least 11 houses and a public market in Lavezares town in Northern Samar. No one was also reported injured.

Rains, meanwhile, continue to batter most areas of the country on Sunday (August 4), with the trough of Tropical Depression Hanna and Hanging Habagat expected to bring more rain showers and thunderstorms.

Forecast track of Tropical Depression “Hanna” as of Issued at 11:00 am, 04 August 2019. Image from PAGASA

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) already warned the public of possible flashfloods and landslides.

The weather condition has forced authorities to cancel two flights from Busuanga, Palawan to Manila.

Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense reported that 17 fatalities have been confirmed and 14 passengers still missing in the twin sea tragedies in Guimaras Strait caused by the bad weather. At least 55 passengers were already rescued.

They were passengers of motorboats Chi-Chi and Keziah, which capsized around noon on Saturday due to strong gusts of wind.

Also on Saturday, MV Arikun, a cargo ship with Panamanian flag, ran aground in the waters off Lauis Ledge Light House. According to the Philippine Coast Gaurd, the vessel was carrying 4,210 tons of wheat with a total of 18 crew onboard.

Senators to start Philhealth probe even sans Duque

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Senators to start Philhealth probe even sans Duque

Senators are bent on starting its probe on the reported multibillion-peso scam at the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) even if Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would not be able to attend the first hearing as he supervises efforts to address the dengue outbreak in the country.

Duque will be quizzed by members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for his alleged involvement in the overpayment of Philhealth benefits to hospitals and the reported dealings of his family-owned companies with Philhealth and the Department of Health (DOH)

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, said he wants hearings to start by Friday, with former officials of Philhealth and DOH already summoned to answer queries from the senators.

Gordon said they want to establish immediately how Philhealth funds are being managed and what led to the overpayment of benefits to hospitals that caused the state corporation to lose P154 billion.

In his State of the Nation Address last Monday, President Duterte said he already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to identify all the officials of public and private institutions involved in the hospital bogus claims. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, wants Duque to explain to the committee why the DOH and Philhealth had contracts with corporations owned by the Health secretary’s family.

Lacson, according to a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer,  criticized Duque for allowing Philhealth to lease a space in a family-owned building in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. The Duque-owned Doctors’ Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI), meanwhile, supplied medicines to DOH. Lacson, the report added, also linked Duque to the reported overpayments of PhilHealth to private hospitals, including one supposedly owned by a godson of the health chief. 

These, Lacson said, constitute a conflict of interest. 

It was Lacson who exposed the bogus claims scam involving Philhealth and certain hospitals and clinics.

Duque has already informed the Blue Ribbon Committee that he is currently too preoccupied with the dengue outbreak and will not be able to attend the Senate probe.

Super pissed Duterte vows ‘more severe measures’ vs NPA

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Super pissed Duterte vows ‘more severe measures’ vs NPA

Back in September 2018, President Duterte declared that he expects to end the war against communist rebels by the second quarter of 2019. Today, armed fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) continue to kill with impunity, and Duterte is so pissed off that he wants the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to go all out and give the rebels what they deserve.

“I will give you tit for tat; that’s what I told the military, give them what they deserve,” Duterte said on Friday. “You communists, you have crossed the red line. The countryside is infested with parasites like you.” 

When the President said last year that the war against CPP-NPA would end in 2019, he was basing his optimism on the big number of rebels who were surrendering to the government.

Chummy at first

He was actually welcoming communist leaders to his fold when he was elected president in 2016, mainly because he was mentored by CPP-NPA leader-en-exile Jose Maria Sison. 

He appointed several left-leaning figures to his Cabinet, including Judy Taguiwalo to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Rafael Mariano to the Department of Agrarian Reform, Liza Masa to the National Anti-Poverty Commission and Joel Maglunsod to the Department of Labor and Employment. 

But when verbal and armed attacks from the CPP-NPA did not stop, their relations turned south, and these leftists in government were fired by Duterte one by one. 

Duterte also stopped peace negotiations with CPP-NPA leaders and shifted to localized talks instead, something that the communist leaders did not like, leading to sporadic attacks in the provinces.

Negros killings

Over the last two weeks, Negros Oriental saw the impunity of communist insurgents, with about 14 civilian and government personnel killed.

“You are killing everybody there. Everyone that is anti-communist or does not want communism, you kill,” Duterte said on Friday in Davao City, where he led the Mindanao-wide distribution of land certificates to agrarian reform beneficiaries. “I will not take it sitting down. I told the military…do it to them also.”

The threat

He then repeated his threat that “a more severe measure” is forthcoming to end insurgency-related violence in the Philippines. “I’m telling you, I will implement a more severe measure. What is it? Hintay lang kayo (just wait). But you cannot do it unrestrained, unbridled, uncontrolled,” he added.

Again, he did not detail what he would do. 

His spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said there is a big possibility that Duterte would place Negros under Martial Law if the authorities in the province would still fail to contain the NPA rebels there.

Duterte also said he would be dispatching his “death squad” against communist insurgents. The President’s death squad, commonly known as “DDS” for Duterte Death Squad, is believed to behind the killings of drug suspects from the time he was the mayor of Davao City up to today.

‘Parasites’

The President said the presence of these communist rebels in the provinces has been holding back development in the countryside.

“The reason why we cannot develop fully is the countryside are — the countryside is infested with parasites like you. You do not work, you exact taxation…With the communist theories and your ideologies which is rotten already — it is a corrupt just like the ISIS, you fight, you kill,” he said.

“You know what you did in Negros, it did — is not just fighting. The danger there is you are now implementing the commune system of the discredited communist party strategy,” he added.

Sara Duterte leaves door open for presidential bid in 2022

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Sara Duterte Presidential Bid
REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr

Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio is no longer outrightly dismissing the possibility of her seeking the presidency in 2022.

Speaking at a television show of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy on Friday (August 2), Duterte-Carpio said she will seek first the guidance of the Lord before she makes any decision on whether she would heed the growing clamor for her to run for president in the next national elections or not.

“Everything is easier if it is the plan of God. Before I think about that, I should ask God first if this is for me. So we would not make mistakes, we need to pray for wisdom on how to go about it and how to decide,” Duterte-Carpio said.

This is a slight deviation from her response to a query from ABS-CBN News in April when she said she was not thinking about the presidency.

Duterte-Carpio won a second term as mayor of Davao City in May 2019 polls. She previously served as the vice mayor of the city then replaced her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, in 2016 as chief executive of Davao City. Duterte, meanwhile, was elected President of the Republic and is now midway through his term.

President Duterte only has good words for Duterte-Carpio every time he mentions her in his speeches, including his last State of the Nation Address. The President fondly calls her “Inday Sara”.

Should she decide to run for president in 2022, her bid would be backed up by her own party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which is steadily gaining influence in the Philippine political scene. In the last election, all the candidates supported by Hugpong ng Pagbabago made it to the Philippine Senate.

At the House of Representatives, Duterte-Carpio is widely believed to be the one who orchestrated the ouster of then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez after their relationship soured.

Not only that, Duterte-Carpio will be benefiting from the popularity of her father, who continues to enjoy the very high trust and approval rating in different surveys.

In the latest Pulse Asia survey released in July, Duterte still has the trust and approval of eight out of 10 Filipinos.

Duterte-Carpio also has a good record as Davao City’s mayor, maintaining her independence in governing the city that became her father’s springboard to Malacanang.

Dengvaxia back in Philippine spotlight

in News/Tabloid PH News
dengvaxia

Manila, Philippines — Controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia is hugging the headlines in the country anew, with doctors and scientists urging the government to lift the ban on the Sanofi-made vaccine following the doubling of dengue cases in the Philippines this year.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed dengue has already claimed the lives of 561 people as of July 13. Nationwide, the number of dengue cases rose to more than 130,000, nearly doubling the 67,690 recorded in the same period last year with 367 deaths. Children aged 5 to 9 were the most vulnerable with about 30,000 cases year-to-date. From July 7 to 13 alone, the DOH recorded 8,295 cases already.

Western Visayas, which includes the provinces of Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Iloilo and Guimaras, had the most incidence with 18,943 cases and 95 deaths.

With the alarming rise in dengue cases, the Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare (DTPW) said it is high time the government lifted the ban on Dengvaxia. 

“The Philippines has the highest incidence and death rate from dengue in this part of the world. Yet it is the only country in the world that has banned it,” Dr. Minguita Padilla, DTPW co-convener, was quoted in a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Led by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, DTPW is composed of physicians, scientists, educators, former secretaries of health, and past and present heads of various professional medical associations and nongovernmental organizations.

“The vaccine need not be included in the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) of the government so that [the] government need not spend for it. But at least make it available to physicians to offer for the millions of patients who can benefit from it,” Padilla said. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) canceled the certificates of product registration (CPRs) of Dengvaxia last February due to Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.’s alleged disregard of the agency’s rules and regulations.

One month later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted former Health Secretary Janette Garin and 19 health officials and drug executives for the deaths of children who received Dengvaxia shots.

Garin was the DOH secretary in the tail end of the Aquino administration when the P3.5-billion mass dengue immunization program was implemented by the government.

They were charged for “inexcusable lack of precaution and foresight” and because they “totally disregarded the identified risks and adverse effects of the vaccine”.

Former President Benigno Aquino III said the Dengvaxia issue was just used to demonize the former administration and that the rise in dengue cases would have been avoided if the program was continued.

“The thing that could have protected the health of our citizens cannot deliver anymore because of politics and a lot of bad motivation,” Aquino said in a report of the Philippine Star. “The protection that could have been given to a lot of people was not given… It is like a scandal and an alarm. If there are people who were killed, they should be held liable.”

Aquino, who was also investigated for his role in the controversy, is turning the tables on his detractors, saying those behind the plot to scare away Filipinos from the use of Dengvaxia should be held accountable.

It was actually President Duterte’s Spokesman Salvador Panelo who first floated the idea of allowing the use of Dengvaxia in the country again in response to the rise in dengue cases.

“If we know that Dengvaxia could be used for seropositive patients, then why don’t we try it? We will just consider it. We have to make a study. As I said earlier, it needs, requires a serious study before we can use it,” he told reporters. “Why not use Dengvaxia for those who already had dengue before? Because it would surely work there. Mine is only a suggestion. But didn’t they say that the dengue cases are worsening? We need a vaccine for that.”

Photo Credit: PhilStar / Kriz John

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