Distribution of gov’t cash aid for victims of Typhoon Odette to begin this week — DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2022   •   230

MANILA, Philippines — The distribution of cash assistance for severely affected survivors of Typhoon Odette is expected to begin this week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with Cabinet officials, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the P4.8 billion budget for the cash assistance program has already been downloaded to 420 cities and municipalities.

Año said the distribution was to begin Wednesday for LGUs that have already completed the list of beneficiaries.

Orientations on how the money will be handed out to beneficiaries have also been conducted, he added.

The cash aid will be given to low-income families who were badly affected by the typhoon. An individual may receive P1,000 while a family may receive P5,000.

Areas covered by the cash aid program are from 27 provinces in MIMAROPA, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, CARAGA, and Northern Mindanao.

Concerned LGUs have up to 15 days to finish the distribution of the cash assistance.

Duterte said the cash aid is on top of the construction materials that will be given to the typhoon survivors to rehabilitate their homes.

The government will also provide roofing materials and lumber to the survivors, as well as the services of carpenters and shelter builders from the government, the president said.

Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, Office of Civil Defense administrator, reported that there were 1,242,737 families or 4.8 million persons in 38 provinces affected by Typhoon Odette.

Some 475,160 displaced individuals are currently taking shelter in evacuation centers and with their relatives.

Palace says PH economic growth proof of strength, resilience amid challenges

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang views the growth of the Philippine economy as evidence of the country’s strength and resilience despite the challenges it is facing brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters such as typhoons, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) posted a growth of 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter, resulting in 5.6 percent full-year growth in 2021.

It slightly exceeded the target range of 5 percent to 5.5 percent set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee last year. This is also faster compared to the third quarter, which was revised to 6.9 percent from 7.1 percent, and higher than expected by the government and the private sector.

“We commend our Economic Team for deftly managing the economy through these turbulent times, and thank our people for their sacrifices, hard work, and faith in the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during this challenging period,” Nograles said in a statement.

The Palace official said the administration will continue to pursue policies and reforms as we rebuild a stronger economy to provide Filipinos a “safe, healthy and comfortable life.”

To realize this, Nograles called for the passage of the amendments to the Public Service Act, which, he said, would open key sectors to foreign investments, subject to safeguards

The Palace also expressed support for the passage of the proposed Livestock Development and Competitiveness Bill to improve the competitiveness of the livestock, poultry, and dairy sectors.

Nograles also said that the Philippine Innovation Act should be implemented to improve people’s productivity.

 

IATF urged to begin pandemic exit plan for Philippines

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and OCTA Research fellow and molecular biologist Nicanor Austriaco on Thursday urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to begin formulating a plan to take the Philippines out of the pandemic.

In a letter last January 26 addressed to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and IATF Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., Concepcion and Austriaco said that “it is time for the national government to transition our people from a pandemic to an endemic mindset.”

As an initial step, the two suggested the reinstatement of the international travel protocols in place prior to December 03, 2021, namely: pre-departure testing within 24 hours of departure using either an RT-PCR or rapid antigen test, with additional PCR-based test upon arrival; three-day quarantine; and arrival testing on the third day of quarantine, with exit permitted upon showing a negative result.

Concepcion and Austriaco noted that these protocols were already approved and being implemented but were put on hold when the Omicron variant hit the country.

“At this time, the Omicron surge has peaked in the National Capital Region and is expected to peak in the different regions of the country in the next two weeks,” they stated in the letter.

“In its wake, this surge will confer significant population protection throughout the archipelago,” they added.

The two also pointed out that a significant number of Filipinos have already acquired immunity from COVID-19, either through infection-acquired immunity or through vaccination.

“We put forward these suggestions as the country’s economic health is now a serious, time-sensitive issue,” Concepcion and Austriaco said in their letter.

They also expressed their belief that opening up the country to the world by easing and simplifying travel restrictions will “redound to many downstream benefits to the economy, especially the micro-, small and medium enterprises,” which make up 99.5 percent of the country’s businesses.

“Among the Asian countries, only the Philippines, Myanmar and Japan have the strictest travel restrictions,” observed Concepcion.

“The rest have either lifted curfews and stay-at-home orders, opened their borders to non-citizens and non-residents, and have allowed all or most commercial flights to the country,” he added.

Austriaco also thinks that Thailand’s “test-and-go” system might also be applicable for the Philippines since “it is now in a better place to do so after having had an Omicron wave.”

Meanwhile, Concepcion reiterated his earlier push to ease the country’s travel restrictions without compromising safety by scrapping facility-based quarantines and instead requiring only home quarantines.

He said travelers who have had COVID within 60 days can be exempted from quarantine to further decongest bottlenecks at quarantine facilities.

He also suggested re-allocating resources used in facility quarantines to “more intensive surveillance of positive COVID cases” among arriving passengers, saying this would generate more useful data in guiding future policy.

“The next few months will be critical in how the country will move on from the pandemic,” Concepcion said.

“I believe the government should set an example and start opening the country to the world. This will instill confidence in the vaccines and encourage more of our countrymen to take them,” he added.

Philippine economy grows 5.6% in 2021 – PSA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine economy grew faster at 5.6 percent, higher than the government’s target range for the fourth quarter of 2021, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Thursday.

Data released by the PSA stated that the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) posted a growth of 7.7 percent in the last quarter, resulting in 5.6 percent full-year growth in 2021.

This is faster compared to the third quarter, which was revised to 6.9 percent from 7.1 percent, and higher than expected by the government and the private sector.

The PSA listed manufacturing (7.2 percent), wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (7.4 percent); and construction (18.5 percent) as the main contributors to the fourth quarter 2021 growth.

The same industries also contributed the most to the annual growth: manufacturing (8.6 percent); wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (4.3 percent); and construction (9.8 percent).

All major economic sectors – agriculture, forestry, fishing, industry and services – posted positive growths in the fourth quarter with 1.4 percent, 9.5 percent, and 7.9 percent, respectively.

On an annual basis, the PSA said industry and services registered positive growths of 8.2 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively while agriculture, forestry, and fishing posted a contraction of -0.3 percent.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) set a target GDP growth of 5 to 5.5 percent last year from the previous 4 percent to 5 percent.

 

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