Duterte signs FIST bill into law – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   February 17, 2021   •   389

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Republic Act No. 11523 or the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill, which seeks to allow banks to dispose of bad loans and non-performing assets through asset management companies, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the FIST Act has been considered by the administration’s economic team as one of the measures that would help the country recover in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As part of the economic recovery program of the Duterte Administration, FIST will strengthen the financial sector by enabling banks to efficiently dispose of their non-performing loans and assets, clean up their balance sheets, and extend credit to more sectors in need,” Roque said in a statement.

“We consider the enactment of RA 11523 timely and thank both Houses of Congress for the passage of this law,” he added.

Under the measure, a FIST corporation may invest, engage third parties to manage, operate, collect, and dispose of non-performing assets acquired from a financial institution.

The law is similar to the Special Purpose Vehicle Act enacted in the early 2000s in response to the Asian Financial Flu, so they can extend credit to more sectors in need of financial aid.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno welcomed the signing of the measure.

“That’s great news! FIST law will allow banks to easily dispose bad assets through Asset Management Companies. The new law will help keep the banking system stable despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Diokno said in a tweet.

“It will ease the NPL ratios of banks moving forward. FIST is expected to reduce the NPL ratio by about 0.63 to 7.0 percentage point,” he added.

Diokno said the draft implementing rules and regulations of the law is already with the Securities and Exchange Commission, with additional inputs from the BSP.

Congress ratified the measure in December 2020 after Duterte certified it as urgent due to the pandemic.  

Duterte to wait for FDA approval before using Sinopharm vax – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will wait for China-state-owned Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before receiving a dose, his spokesperson said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after the FDA confirmed that it has received Sinopharm’s application for an EUA that was filed on Monday afternoon.

“Mag-aantay po si president ng EUA dahil nabalita ko nga kahapon, mayroon na pong nag-apply ng EUA for the Sinopharm,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Securing an EUA from the FDA is part of the process for a vaccine to be legally used in the country.

The FDA earlier approved a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for the members of the Presidential Security Group.

The agency, however, clarified that the issuance of such a permit is not tantamount to a stamp of approval.

Duterte earlier expressed a preference for Sinopharm developed COVID-19 vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte plans to visit China to personally thank President Xi for COVID vaccine donations

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit China to personally thank President Xi Jinping for donating 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines.

“I’d like to just say that towards the — maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down — I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation,” he said.

President Duterte noted China’s gesture of delivering the vaccine through its government military aircraft unlike other countries who needed to pick up the supply from China.

“I would like to just add that China has donated several vaccines to several countries. But it is only the donation made to the Philippines that was carried by a Chinese government plane. Iyong iba kinukuha doon sa China. Dito, hinatid sa atin,” he said.

The Chief Executive said he may push a trip to China by the end of the year.

Before heading to Beijing, the President said he wanted to visit Xiamen to see the school building that was built in honor of his late mother, Soledad.

“Maybe I’ll go to Xiamen. There’s a school built to honor my mother. You know, my mother was one of the first educators of the Chinese school in Davao,” he said.

Duterte insisted during Sunday’s arrival of China’s Sinovac vaccine that China has not requested anything in return for the donated vaccine adding that the donation is a “gesture of friendship and solidarity” between the two countries. 

Duterte still awaiting doctor’s advice on COVID vaccination

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday (February 28) said, if he were to be asked, he wants to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

But due to advanced age, he said he needs his doctor’s clearance particularly on which brand of vaccine to get inoculated with.

The President is taking into consideration the experts’ advice to be more careful in choosing a vaccine for individuals like him who are past the age of 70.

“As to what brand, iyan ang problema because it is left to the sound discretion of my doctor,” he said.

“May caveat pa ‘yan. Seventy above  people are, you know, sinasabi nila huwag na. In some areas, some countries, hindi na binabakunahan ‘yang 70. It’s either because they are nearing death or about to die or it could be useless to give them the vaccine because anyway they won’t live long,” he added.

Still, the President believes and is willing to get inoculated against COVID-19.

President Duterte is turning 76 years old on March 28.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced that the Office of the President is studying the possibility of giving the Chief Executive COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm, the brand of vaccine administered to the members of his Presidential Security Group.

READ: Office of the President eyeing Sinopharm vaccine for PRRD under compassionate use

Roque said it was also President Duterte’s brand of choice. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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