Palace assures no economic impact on loan, deal suspension

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 23, 2019   •   366

Malacañang assured that the loan and deal suspension ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte will have no impact on the country’s economy.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said out of the 18 countries involved in the said suspension, only the United Kingdom has an offer of 21 million euro loan for the president’s Build, Build, Build program.

Panelo also assured there will be other countries and trade institutions that can replace the involved countries.

“It will not dramatically, even slightly I think, impact our economy,” he said. “There are other bilateral partners and institutions, and other countries outside of the 18 offering the same, and no better rates than these countries.”

The chief executive has signed a confidential memorandum suspending loan and negotiations with the 18 countries that backed the Iceland resolution.

Iceland called for an investigation into the Duterte Administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Panelo also said this policy will last until the end of Duterte’s term.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

‘No need to panic buy,’ Palace reminds public

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 3, 2020

Consumers in Metro Manila flocked to grocery stores after President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday night, approved the reversion of some areas to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in response to the medical frontliners’ plea for a two-week “timeout”.

This prompted Malacañang on Monday to remind the public not to panic buy amid the implementation of MECQ in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“Walang dahilan para mag-panic buying. Supplies are high, delivered in supermarkets in anticipation of bigger demand prior to MECQ,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace official reiterated that only essential establishments will remain open including supermarkets, banks, and hospitals. He also said that the “time out” will be used to strengthen the government’s testing, tracing, and treatment of COVID-19.

“This is primarily to accede to the demand of the frontliners for a break. A ‘time out,'” Roque said. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

UN aid chief to G20 nations: ‘step up now or pay the price later’ for COVID

UNTV News   •   July 17, 2020

Coronavirus support to poor countries has been so far “grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday (July 16) as he asked wealthy countries for billions more dollars in assistance.

The United Nations increased its humanitarian appeal by more than a third to $10.3 billion to help 63 states, mainly in Africa and Latin America, tackle the spread and destabilizing effects of the coronavirus. This is up from the world body’s initial $2 billion request in March, then $6.7 billion in May.

So far, Lowcock said, the United Nations has only received $1.7 billion.

“The message to the G20 is step up now or pay the price later,” Lowcock told reporters.

Finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies will meet virtually on Saturday (July 18).

The coronavirus has infected at least 13.6 million people and there have been more than 584,000 known deaths worldwide, according to a Reuters tally. The United Nations has warned that if action is not taken, the pandemic and associated global recession will trigger an increase in global poverty for the first time since 1990 and push 265 million people to the brink of starvation.

“The response so far of wealthy nations, who’ve rightly thrown out the fiscal and monetary rule books to protect their own people and economies, the response that they’ve made to the situations in other countries has been grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” Lowcock said.

Lowcock added he had lobbied U.S. lawmakers for funding earlier this week. A House of Representatives committee has proposed $10 billion in international aid. So far, Congress has provided $2.4 billion in emergency foreign aid.

In May, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged $2 billion to help deal with the coronavirus and economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing states.

Lowcock said he would “very much welcome it if some significant proportion of those resources could be used directly to support the global humanitarian response plan.” (Reuters)

(Production: Catherine Koppel)

Gov’t assigns anti-COVID-19 czars to boost fight against virus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2020

The Duterte Administration assigned anti-COVID czars to intensify the country’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Malacañang admitted that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to rise but it assured that the administration is still in control of the situation.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. introduced the four anti-COVID czars, namely, Secretary Vivencio Dizon as Chief Testing Czar, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as Chief Tracing Czar, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar as Chief Isolation Czar, and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega as Chief Treatment Czar.

Roque explained that all four anti-COVID czars will be directly under the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) led by Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Mas malawakang targeted testing, mas maraming isolation centers, mas matinding tracing, at mas matinding treatment para sa mga nagkakasakit. Lahat po yan sa ilalim ng NTF, sa ilalim ng ating Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez (More extensive targeted testing, additional isolation centers, improved contact tracing, and better quality of treatment for patients. All of these will be under the NTF, under Chief Implementer Secretary Galvez),” Roque said.

Chief Testing Czar Secretary Dizon reported there are now 85 COVID-19 laboratories nationwide, with nearly 1 million tests done as of July 11. Daily tests as of July 9 reached 25,000, nearing the 30,000 daily tests target by end of the month.

For tracing, Chief Tracing Czar Mayor Magalong said they are seeking to intensify skills training for contact tracers and use a contact tracing e-system composed of a COVID-19 data collection tool, a GIS (geographical information system) platform, and a Link Analysis Tool.

Chief Isolation Czar Secretary Villar said they plan to construct more quarantine facilities nationwide. Aside from the existing 129 regional evacuation centers, they are also building quarantine facilities in Region 7, Region 8, Region 10, and in Region 12.

Meanwhile, Chief Treatment Czar Dr. Vega said expanding hospital capacity will be one of his priorities. He also introduced One Hospital Command which will be in charge of both public and private hospitals and quarantine facilities in terms of planning healthcare capacity among others.

Galvez also said the NTF will also focus on the economy and social recovery of the country.

Nandito po tayo sa sitwasyon na dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ating ekonomiya. Bagaman nandito po ang threat ng virus, kailangan na nating i-recover ang ating mga ekonomiya para manumbalik po ang negosyo at trabaho ng ating mamamayan (We are in a situation where we are slowly opening our economy. Even though the threat of the virus is still there we still need our economy to recover so that businesses and jobs will reopen for our citizens), he said. –AAC

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