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Misuari meets anew with Duterte D

AVAO CITY – Former rebel chieftain Nur Misuari has recently met with President Rodrigo here, but details of the talks were not made public by both sides. Misuari, chairman of ta and Rolando Olamit, he met with Duterte at the Moro National Liber- chairman of the MNLF’s the Active Lifestyle Cenation Front, was accom- Davao City State Revolu- ter in Matina. panied by his wife Tarha- tionary Committee, when Continue on page 2

Despite Covid pandemic, SSS raises employers, employees’ contributions DESPITE THE economic hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Social Security System or

SSS has imposed a one percent hike in contribution rate from 12% to 13% starting this month.

SSS said this hike is pursuant to the enactment of Republic Act No. Continue on page 3

Covid vaccines, where is it? President Rodrigo Duterte with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari. (PCOO)

Sulu imposes travel restrictions SULU GOVERNOR Sakur Tan has barred travellers from Malaysia and lockdown his province to prevent the entry of the new strain of Covid-19 following the emergence of a new strain of the virus in Sabah. Tan said temporarily closed the province to civilians coming from Sabah to pre-empt the possible spread of the new Covid-19 strain. He said the lockdown began January 4 until January 17. Exempted from the travel restrictions are frontline health workers, Continue on page 3

THE PHILIPPINES continues to negotiate with six Covid-19 vaccine developers and is planning Continue on page 2

A staff member checks the packaging quality of Covid-19 inactivated vaccine products at a packaging plant of the Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., Ltd. in Beijing. (Xinhua / Zhang Yuwei)

Kongreso binira, tinawag na ‘tolongges’ BINUWELTAHAN NI Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang mga mambabatas na nais mag-imbestiga sa

ilegal na pagbabakuna ng anti-Covid vaccine na pinaniniwalaang galing sa China sa mga miyembro

ng Presidential Security Group (PSG). Kulang na lamang Continue on page 2

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January 11-17, 2021

Misuari meets anew with Duterte Continued from page 1 Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque also did not any details of the meeting, but photos released by the government showed Misuari - former governor of the Muslim autonomous region - presenting Duterte with documents. The president briefly read the documents. Duterte’s Peace Adviser, Carlito Galvez, and

Senator Bong Go were also present during the meeting. Go said the former Libyan firebrand raised some concerns in Tawi-Tawi, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region now being run by rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front with its chieftain Murad Ebrahim as Chief Minister. It was the nth time that Misuari held talks

with Duterte since winning the presidency in 2016. Duterte, a former mayor of Davao City, and Misuari are good friends. Duterte appointed Misuari in December 2019 as Special Economic Envoy on Islamic Affairs to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He also sought Misuari’s help in campaigning for the proposed shift to federalism. (Mindanao Examiner)

Covid vaccines, where is it? President Rodrigo Duterte with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari. (PCOO)

Kongreso binira, tinawag na ‘tolongges’ Continued from page 1 na murahin at pangalanan ni Duterte ang mga mambabatassa galit nito dahil sa umano’y panghihimasok na Kongreso sa teritoryo nito. Nais kasing malaman ng mga mambabatas kung paanong nakalusot sa bansa ang mga vaccine na itinurok sa mga sundalo, gayun wala pang approval dito ang Food and Drug Administration. Ito rin ang iginigiit ni Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque na nagsasabing pabayaan na lamang ang PSG sa kanilang ginawa kahit pa smuggled ang mga vaccine. Tinawag naman ni Duterte na “self-preservation” ang ginawang pagbabakuna sa mga miyembro ng PSG. Kay Duterte rin kasi nabatid ng media ang naganap na pagbabakuna na noon pa palang Oktubre isinagawa. “So… I will not talk about — because I really do not know about this itong vaccine sa PSG. To me, it’s a matter of self-preservation. Iyan lang, whatever be your objection, whatever be your criticism, para sa akin, it is a matter of preservation. And I would like to call on Congress na hindi naman ako nakikiusap. Ang ano ko lang diretso na salita na do not tinker with the PSG. I’m telling you as President it’s a matter of self-preservation,” ani Duterte. Tinakot pa nito ang

Kongreso na huwag daw siyang susubukan at baka magkahiyaan lamang at mauwi ang isyu sa krisis. “I will not elaborate on it but do not force my hand to meddle into this affair because maybe I will not — I am not so keen about allowing Durante and the rest of the PSG to testify. Ginawa ito nila as I understand para sa kapakanan ng buhay nila. So if they will be called — if they will be called to testify in Congress, my — as a lawyer, I will just tell them because they are now being accused and with the accompanying statement of prosecution and things like that.” “And if that is the case, then I would ask the PSG to just shut up. Do not answer. Invoke the right against self-incrimination at wala kayong makukuha. And do not force my soldiers to testify against their will. At huwag ninyong i-contempt-contempt na i-detain ninyo. I do not think it will be good for you and for me. It would not be healthy for everybody,” dagdag pa nito. Ayaw naman sabihin ni Duterte kung paanong naipasok sa bansa ang mga vaccine na ginamit sa PSG. Ngunit matagal ng may balita na kalat sa black market ang mga Chinese vaccines at katunayan ay halos 100 mga Chinese POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator) workers ay na-

bakunahan na rin. Tila inalaska pa ni Duterte ang mga mambabatas ng sabihin nitong ang brand ng vaccine na ginamit sa PSG ay “Milkmaid” – isang brand ng condensed milk. Sinabi ni Duterte na bahala na ang mga sundalo kung magkaroon sila ng side effect dahil sa bakuna at buhay naman umano nila ang nakataya. “Let them be and let them suffer kung mayroong adverse effect ‘yung vaccine. I don’t know really if they were injected with the vaccine, what brand, hindi ko alam. Hindi ko talaga — huwag kayong — do not presume na sabi kino-cover up. Putang ina kayo wala akong — hindi ako — hindi ako gago na maglaro ng ganito.” “If I say that I will allow them, I will allow them. But I did not because they had it on their own. Pero kung gusto kong sabihin na for emergency purposes you give the vaccines, wala ng istorya ‘yan. Wala akong i-cover-cover. Hindi ako tolongges kagaya ninyo. Eh ‘yung utak ninyo mahina eh. I can order. So what would stop me by saying, “Sige pa-injection kayong lahat, all the Armed Forces?” sambit pa ni Duterte. Dahil sa pagbubunganga ni Duterte, sinabi naman ng Armed Forces of the Philippines na hindi na rin ito magiimbestiga sa mga sundalo. (Mindanao Examiner)

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Continued from page 1 to sign deals for 148 million doses. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government has been negotiating with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Novavax, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Gamaleya Institute. “We hope to close the deal with these companies this month,” he said. Aside from government efforts, Galvez said: “We stand to receive fully-subsidized doses for the 20 percent of the country’s population which corresponds to 22 million Filipinos, through the Covax facility. This is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines.” “Based on our current negotiations, we will be able to purchase to at least 148 million doses from more or less seven manu-

facturers, however, it will be dependent on the global supply,” he added. Senator Panfilo Lacson said the vaccine rollout of the government is badly needed. He said it is high time the Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show a sense of urgency in procuring the Covid vaccines. Lacson said the DOH and FDA should exercise their power to issue compassionate special permits especially for those who most need them. “Why don’t they exercise their power to issue a compassionate special permit? Their officials keep claiming they are still conducting studies. Mamamatay tayo sa ka-study eh. We have to start the rollout of the vaccines soonest. Kahiya-hiya ang nangyayari sa atin,” he said. He said it is shameful that the prospective entry of vaccines to the Philippines stemmed from the

initiative of the private sector instead of the government. “Isn’t it disgusting that the private sector is taking the lead to bring in vaccines? This should put the government to shame, especially considering that the Department of Finance has announced multimillion-peso loans for vaccines. Nakailang loan na tayo sa vaccine, bakit hanggang ngayon wala pang vaccine?” he asked, stressing the priority now is to focus on the immunization of 110 million Filipinos. Despite government negotiations, Covid vaccines smuggled into the country found its way to the members of the Presidential Security Group, some Cabinet officials and even 100,000 Chinese POGO (Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators) workers. But Galvez remains silent about the entry and the illegal use of the vaccines. (Lade Jean Kabagani, Mindanao Examiner)

Troops hunt mayor’s ambushers

A military photo released to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner shows the mayor’s bullet-riddled pickup truck following a BIFF ambush in Maguindanao’s South Upi town. (Rhoderick Beñez) SECURITY FORCES continue to hunt down the ambushers of Mayor Reynalbert Insular of South Upi town whose convoy was attacked in the restive province of Maguindanao. Insular survived the recent attack, but it killed a 22-year old man, Thelmo Sase, and wounded four other civilians - John Andrew Tumbaga, 30; Er-

nesto Bebang, 50; Christian King Sase, 22; and Leonard Betita, 23. Major General Juvymax Uy, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, blamed the pro-ISIS group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the ambush and ordered a massive operation against the attackers. Insular came from

the village of Itaw where he distributed food aid to civilians harassed and displaced by the BIFF. His group was returning home when an improvised bomb exploded and followed by automatic gunfire. Troops responding from the attack rescued the mayor and members of his group. (Rhoderick Beñez)


The Mindanao Examiner

January 11-17, 2021

Sulu imposes travel restrictions An unidentified fisherman looks at a passing military vessel off Zamboanga City. (Al Jacinto)

Zambo congressman, family infected with Covid-19 ZAMBOANGA CITY Representative Manuel Dalipe, his wife and 2 daughters, including his father, who was a former mayor here, are all tested positive for Covid-19 and now battling the deadly respiratory disease. Dalipe (2nd District) made this announcement from his hospital bed and posted a recorded video on his Facebook page asking his constituents to pray for them. “Thank you for your prayers of healing for my Dad, former Mayor Manny. Please also include us, my wife Keenah, my two daughters, Margaret and Baby Madison in your prayers as we are also found positive of Covid-19,” he said. “Five members of the Dalipe family are now bravely fighting the COVID virus. Please continue to pray for us as we also pray for everyone’s health and safety,” he added. It was unknown where he contracted the disease, but he was with a group of village chieftains and other officials in gift-giving activities the whole month of December with thousands of senior citizens in the villages of Guiwan, Tugbungan, Tetuan, Culianan, Salaan, Pasobolong, Mampang, Divisoria, Lumbangan, Pasilmanta, Tolosa, Talabaan, Taluksangay, Bunguiao and Kasanyangan. City Health Offi-

Zamboanga City 2nd District Manuel Dalipe is tested positive for Covid-19 as well as his father, wife and 2 daughters. (Mindanao Examiner) cer Doctor Dulce Amor Miravite said they expect an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections here due to the Yuletide holidays where people celebrated Christmas and New Year. From only 100 active Covid cases in December, she said this number is expected to shoot up, citing latest data and reports. Zamboanga recorded at least 170 Covid deaths since the pandemic began in March. “The City Health Office is still bracing for a post-holiday rise in Covid-19 numbers. “It is more likely that we are going to see a rise in our cases in the coming days,” Miravite said. Mayor Beng Climaco said the local government will hire more Covid-19 contact tracers in an effort to further strengthen the fight against the virus and prevent more infections. She said the local govern-

ment has allocated funds for the hiring of additional contact tracers to help health care workers and frontliners. “Our country is still reeling from Covid-19 pandemic and while it is true that we are slowly opening up the economy with a concomitant increase of people’s mobility, the virus is still here and its threat to our health and safety is ever present,” she said. Climaco has previously appealed to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to extend the services of over 600 contact tracers and to facilitate the immediate release of their long delayed salaries. The contact tracers sought Climaco’s help in appealing to the DOH and DILG to release their salaries. Their contract with the national government ended last month. (Mindanao Examiner)

Continued from page 1 security forces and emergency cases. Tan said 2020 was a painful year and will be remembered for a long time and for the wrong reason due to the pandemic. He said the pandemic is occupying center stage since March last year and Sulu has not been spared from the dire consequences the virus carry. “Even on the eve of the New Year the world is again gripped in compounding fear and deep concern brought about by a new viral strain that is rearing its deadly head in Europe and some parts of Asia. The only glitter of hope that comes with 2021 is a promise of a vaccine that will usher in the normalcy that humanity have so long missed and eagerly yearns for,” he said. Tan said the detection of a new Covid strain further brings fears to many people. He also thanked

frontliners, municipal officials and members of the security forces for sacrificing their lives to ensure the safety of others. “We express our deep appreciation and acknowledge our frontliners for their patience, selflessness and their dogged determination to arrest the spread of the contagion in the service of Sulu and the people. Thank you for your continuing sacrifices,” he said. “The municipal governments deserve mention for readily answering the call of war against the unseen enemy, and so do too, our uniformed security sector whose personnel are always visible and active in this fight. The Sulu Provincial Government through its Task Force, have neither been remiss in its mandate nor abdicated from its responsibilities. We have done so much as allowed by human and material resources at our disposal. Af-

ter all what the government has said and done, it is up to the people. Each and every one should be responsible for the safety of their homes, their families and their loved ones. May we all remain secured and safe in God’s Mercy and Compassion, inshallah,” Tan said. With the travel restrictions imposed in Sulu, Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said they deployed additional security forces to patrol the porous southern border with Malaysia to thwart the entry of people. “We are maximizing our capabilities to keep the contagion offshore. With the new strain of Covid-19 detected in Sabah, the provincial government of Sulu implemented a temporary lockdown of the province to prevent the entry of civilians coming from Sabah and pre-empt the possible spread of the virus,” Vinluan said. He said naval boats will regularly patrol the border between the Philippines and Malaysia, and also the seas in the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan. “The Western Mindanao Command supports the decision of the provincial government of Sulu and we already deployed additional troops to secure the border and to disallow entry of passenger vessels from Sabah,” Vinluan said. “The navy vessels will conduct patrol in the maritime borders of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the Zamboanga Peninsula to prevent the entry of inflicted individuals to our area of operation.” (Mindanao Examiner)

Despite Covid pandemic, SSS raises employers, employees’ contributions Continued from page 1 11199, otherwise known as the Social Security Act of 2018 in February 2019. The contribution share for all employers will now be set to 8.5 percent, while the portion of employees’ contribution will become 4.5 percent. Both will gain a half-percentage point increase from last year’s sharing of 8 percent and 4 percent, respectively. For regular employers, SSS said this translates to an additional P95 in the employer share of the monthly contribution for its employees, who fall under the new minimum monthly salary credit or MSC of P3,000, and an additional P525 in the employer share for its employees who fall under the new maximum MSC of P25,000. It said part of the changes in the contribution rate and MSC ceiling will require those members with

active contributions in the regular SSS program, without final claim, and with salary brackets of P20,250 and above, to contribute to the new SSS Provident Fund, called Workers Investment and Savings Program (WISP). It added that contributions to WISP are integrated into the contributions of the regular SSS program and will also be shared proportionately between the employer and the employee. WISP, which is also provided for under the Social Security Act of 2018, is a compulsory, government-managed individual retirement savings scheme for SSS members. It is a defined-contribution plan that allows employers and employees to contribute and invest over time to save more for retirement. SSS said WISP benefits are paid out in the form of lump sum or pension pay-

ments for retirement, total disability and death survivorship, are in addition to the benefits under the regular SSS program. It said the employers shall deduct contributions from employees’ salaries, adding it is the employers’ legal obligation to pay the proportionate share of contributions (both in the regular SSS Program and WISP), including Employees’ Compensation, and remit the correct amount to the SSS within the prescribed schedule of payments. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation is also eyeing to raise contribution of its members, but President Rodrigo Duterte temporarily suspended this following strong public criticisms from workers affected by the pandemic. However, despite Duterte’s order, its regional office in Zamboanga City continued on with the hike. (Mindanao Examiner)


The Mindanao Examiner

January 11-17, 2021

Sulu Pictures in the News Sulu provincial government at work. This is where your taxes go. (Photos from the Office of the Provincial Governor, Jaques Tutong, Task Force Covid-19, and Jolo Municipal Government)

January 11-17, 2021

The Mindanao Examiner

Sulu Pictures in the News



The Mindanao Examiner

January 11-17, 2021

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The Mindanao Examiner

January 11-17, 2021

Duterte borrows money anew

THE DUTERTE administration has borrowed money again and this time from Japan further sinking the country in debts. The Philippines now has over P10 trillion (P4.67 billion) in debts and the increase in foreign and domestic borrowings heightened the last four years. The government thanked Japan for quickly disbursing another 10-billion yen under the second phase of its Post Disaster Standby Loan 2 (PDSL 2) program that will support ongoing government efforts to rehabilitate areas, and help families affected by the series of powerful typhoons that devastated parts of Luzon in the last quarter of 2020. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said this financial support from Japan (equivalent to approximately $91.79 million) will help cover the funding needed to help families get back on their feet and rebuild communities following the destruction left by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses in October and November. This recent disbursement brings to 20 billion yen (about P9.33 billion or US$183.58 million) the loans released so far by Ja-

pan to the Philippines under PDSL 2. “On behalf of the Philippine government, I express my gratitude to the people and government of Japan for helping our country swiftly mobilize financial resources for the massive rehabilitation efforts in the areas pummelled by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses,” Dominguez said. The government estimates losses of over P10 billion combined in the agriculture sector alone from these three cyclones that struck the country one after the other in two weeks’ time beginning October. “The speedy release of this 10-billion yen loan underscores anew the Japanese government’s unwavering support for the Duterte administration’s disaster relief and mitigation programs. Such immediate financial support at this time will certainly go a long way in helping our people and communities recover quickly from the devastation wrought by the three super typhoons,” Dominguez said. The JPY10-billion disbursement on January 5 is the second fund release under the JPY50-billion

(about P23.33 billion or US$ 458.95 million) PDSL 2, which was formalized between the Philippines and Japan last September 15 through an agreement signed by Dominguez and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa. “As a friend and trusted partner of the Philippines, JICA stands by Filipinos whose lives were disrupted because of the recent natural disasters. Through the JICA post-disaster assistance, we hope that vulnerable sectors affected will find relief and support to recover their livelihood and income through the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ in these difficult times,” Chief Representative Azukizawa said following the second PDSL 2 disbursement. Azukizawa said JICA is supporting the Philippines with available financial resources to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and health crisis. “We’re making it clear that we are in this together and that JICA will support development partners who need our assistance,” he said. Japan earlier disbursed another JPY10 bil-

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lion yen to the Philippines to support the government’s Covid-19 response measures following Duterte’s extension of the state of calamity on September 16 throughout the Philippines because of the pandemic. Duterte later declared a state of calamity in the entire Luzon on November 18 through Proclamation 1051 to hasten the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance, in the wake of the devastation wrought by the strong typhoons. Under the agreement for the PDSL2, the disbursement of the standby loan to the Philippines will be triggered by either of the following circumstances: The declaration of a state of calamity; or the declaration of a state of public health emergency. On top of PDSL 2, JICA has supported the Philippines’ pandemic response measures through a JPY50 billion yen Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan (CCRESL). The Philippines became the first recipient of Japan’s emergency support loan for Covid-19 affected economies with the early disbursement last August 14 of the 50-billion CCRESL to the government. Aside from committing to support the Philippines’ disaster response and mitigation programs, Japan has also been a reliable partner of Duterte’s so-called “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program. But most of these projects have been suspended due to the pandemic and funds were used to address the health situation. Since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016, some 15 loan agreements totaling JPY679.296 billion (about P313.147 billion or US$6.443 billion) have been signed by Manila and Tokyo. About 82 percent of this funding support is for big-ticket infrastructure projects under “Build, Build, Build.” Japan is also the Philippines’ number one Official Development Assistance (ODA) partner, with loans and grants amounting to around US$10.10 billion (38.53 percent of total ODA) as of June 2020. Where is the money? Senator Panfilo Lacson scored the Duterte government’s penchant for borrowing, but not always with the corresponding results. Lacson said that while borrowing

may be necessary for the economy, the government has yet to show results of the trillions of pesos it has borrowed over the years. “When I first became a senator in 2001, our national government’s outstanding debt was P2.88 trillion. Over the Arroyo, Aquino and Duterte administrations, it has ballooned to P10.027 trillion as of October this year, from P8.2 trillion at end2019,” he said. “Thus it is hard to accept the Palace spokesperson’s statement that we will look for funds to acquire vaccines,” he added, referring to Harry Roque’s recent statement on the government’s plan to borrow more money despite the country’s ballooning debts. Lacson said that in the last nine to 10 months, the Duterte administration’s borrowing accelerated at a record rate, with an additional P1.8 trillion. He said while the United States has borrowed $27 trillion, their infrastructure development and social services are being adequately provided. “In our case, we have expressways and skyways but they are provided and maintained by the private sector. Tayo, utang ng utang, toll naman ng toll,” he said. The country continues to sink in debts as the government trumpeted fresh loans running into billions of pesos to fund the purchases of anti-Covid vaccines and other responses to the pandemic. Debts, Debts, Debts Duterte had already borrowed billions of pesos since 2016 after winning the election, for his ambitious Build, Build, Build infrastructure projects and dole outs to poor families across the country. Dominguez told Duterte in one of his briefings that the government has 3 sources of funding through various loan agreements – the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and domestic banks such as Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and even Government-Controlled Corporations. He said government can get as much as P40 billion loans from ADB and World Bank, and another P20 billion from domestic sources. And not only that because Dominguez is also looking to get more loans from bilateral sources in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) where Covid-19 vaccines are

available amounting to over P13 billion. “Mr. President, may tatlong sources po tayo ng funding okay. Ang first — ang unang source natin ‘yung mga multilateral agencies: ADB at saka World Bank. Ang estimate namin we will have around 40 billion pesos from them. Low cost, longterm loans, 40 billion from multilateral agencies.” “Tapos mayroon po tayong domestic sources of financing. Ang domestic sources of financing we estimate around 20 billion. So that will come from Land Bank, DBP, and possibly ‘yung mga government-controlled corporations. So that’s 20 billion,” he said. Dominguez added that the government will negotiate with bilateral sources in UK and US for the purchase of the vaccines. “Tapos magne-negotiate pa po tayo sa mga bilateral sources depende sa source ng — depende sa source ng vaccine, either England or US or whoever. And ang target po namin doon around 13.2 billion pesos. So ang total niyan is about 73.2 billion financing that it’s pretty much — it’s almost fixed. Most of it is already fixed, 13.2 billion hindi pa completely negotiated. So 73.2 billion pesos,” he said. Dominguez estimated the cost of the vaccine at around $25 (about P1,200) per person and since the government is targeting to vaccinate some 60 million Filipinos, he said the loans are enough to cover the expenses. “Ngayon ang estimate namin sa average cost ng vaccine is around 25 dollars — not per dose, per person. ‘Di ba? Around 25 dollars which is 1,200 pesos more or less. Some are lower, some are higher so we don’t know yet exactly how much is the cost. But let’s say 25 dollars or 1,200, 72 — 73.2 billion pesos is good for 60 million people to be vaccinated, around 60 million people. So that is more or less what we have in line. Ngayon, we’ll have to consult with the DOH if 60 million is enough, if 60 million people is enough to be vaccinated,” he explained. Aside from massive borrowings, Duterte also hiked taxes despite public outcry, saying he needed it to fund government more projects. In August, the Bureau of Treasury said the government’s outstanding debt stood at P9. 615 trillion, but this has already reached over P10 trillion now. (With a report from Mindanao Examiner.)


The Mindanao Examiner

January 11-17, 2021

January 11-17, 2021

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Case Dismissed! C EBU – The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed criminal charges against Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and 10 other officials, including a private contractor over the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City. Ombudsman Samu- Budget Office Chief Emme decision reads. “Further, there were no el Martires dismissed the Gingoyon, former Provincriminal case filed against cial Environment and Nat- unwarranted benefits givGovernor Garcia and the ural Resources Office Chief en considering that the reCapitol officials for alleged Glenn Baricuatro, and for- spondents gave sufficient violation of Section 3(e) of mer Provincial Engineering justification in resorting to Republic Act No. 3019 con- Office Chief Eulogio Pelayre. alternative modes of proIn the decision, Martires curement and the materials cerning the public bidding, awarding, and construction acknowledged the elements were purchased at cost,” it that must be met to success- continued. of the CICC. WT Construction Inc. The other provincial fully prosecute a violation of officials are former Provin- Section 3(e) of RA 3019 or the Vice President Willy Te, the cial Administrator Eduardo Anti-Graft and Corrupt Prac- contractor of the CICC project, is likewise cleared of the Habin, Provincial Treasurer tices Act. “The items procured charges. Roy Salubre, former ProvinThe criminal complaint cial General Services Office were reasonably priced and Chief Bernard Calderon, is within the standards set by was filed by the Public Assisformer Provincial Legal COA (Commission on Audit). tance and Corruption PreOffice Chief Marino Mar- As such, there was no un- vention Office, Office of the tinquilla, former Provincial due injury because the local Ombudsman (Visayas) with Planning and Development government did not spend the Preliminary InvestigaOffice Chief Adolfo Quiro- money more than it was tion, Administrative Adjudiga, Provincial Agriculturist supposed to and there was cation and Review Bureau Necias Vicoy Jr., Integrated no showing that the respon- of the Office of the OmbudsProvincial Health Office dents obtained benefits as a man in Quezon City. (EleaCristina Giango, Provincial result of the transaction,” the nor Valeros)

Minglanilla tourism reopens

CEBUANOS NOW have more places to visit as the Anjo World Theme Park in Minglanilla town has finally reopened. Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, together with the Provincial Board (PB) members and the Tourism Task Force officially reopened the town’s tourism industry. Anjo World, an amusement park located in Barangay Calajoan, was closed for eight months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the re-opening of the theme park, Garcia said it is time to resuscitate the Cebuanos’ livelihoods. She said Covid-19 is manageable and not as deadly based on Cebu’s 92.7 percent recovery rate. “What’s deadly is the mismanagement of Covid-19 and what’s deadlier is the


shutting down the economy,” Garcia stated, emphasizing that Cebu Province is now “moving on and moving forward.” Minglanilla Mayor Elanito Peña expressed his gratitude to Garcia, who chairs the Tourism Task Force, for helping them since the pandemic hit until now. Peña said he is excited for the tourists to visit and experience what the town can offer. Aside from Anjo World, Minglanilla is known for its Sugat Kabanhawan Festival held every Easter Sunday. The local government is also developing a waterfall in their municipality called the Kawasan Falls. Many of the different Cebu tourist sites and activities have also reopened following a series of consultations conducted by the governor with various tourism stakeholders and

government agencies. Garcia also issued Executive Order No. 20-A which laid down the protocols and guidelines for the tourism reopening to ensure the health and safety of the tourists. PB members Yolanda Daan, Raul Bacaltos, and Glenn Anthony Soco thanked the governor for providing a clear direction for Cebu, especially in the revival of the tourism industry that is the main economic driver of the Province. Tourism operators and other stakeholders also expressed their gratitude to Garcia for bringing back their businesses which benefits not just them but their employees as well. More than half of the local governments in Cebu are now Covid-free and a few dozen active cases remain. The Provincial Health Office said these are Bogo City, Carcar City, Alcoy, Alegria, Aloguinsan, Asturias, Bantayan, Barili, Boljoon, Borbon, Carmen, Catmon, Compostela, Daanbantayan, Dumanjug, Ginatilan, Dalaguete, Ginatilan, Madridejos, Malabuyoc, Medellin, Moalboal, Oslob, Pilar, Poro, Samboan, San Fernando, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Santander, Sogod, Tabogon, Tabuelan, and Tudela. (Mylen Manto)

Eastern Mindanao

The Cebu International Convention Center. (Tonee Despojo)

Office vacancies in Cebu seen to pick up this year CEBU CITY – Vacancy in Cebu’s office market is projected to further pick up as market conditions continue to weigh on demand. “Cebu continued to be hampered by the business environment brought about by Covid-19,” real estate consulting firm KMC Savills said in its latest market research report. It said the average vacancy rate in Cebu jumped to 14.8 percent in the third quarter of 2020, KMC data show. New vacancies were found across all Cebu’s business centers, with Cebu Business Park and fringe areas (those outside the business parks) adding 9,588 square meters (sqm) and 8,810 sqm of available space, respectively. With new office projects slated to open in the next quarters, higher vacancies are expected in the short-term. Cebu’s average rents continued to slide, contracting by 0.5 percent year-on-year to PHP582.4 per sqm a month. “Rental rates in Cebu may further diminish as the market deals with the additional supply in the coming months,” KMC noted. While business activity here has started to improve, market conditions may continue to wane. Despite the 190,000 sqm of new office spaces expected to come online

Western Mindanao

Photo shows the Cebu IT Park, home to major outsourcing companies. Office leasing in Cebu’s business parks is expected to recover once market sentiments improve, although vacancy is generally projected to increase this year. (Photo courtesy of Cebu IT Park) by 2021, pre-committed space was 5,200 sqm lower compared to the second quarter of 2020. “While Cebu has the available supply of both space and manpower, businesses may locate in other markets that may fit their requirements better. Given these factors, recovery may be slow in the market for the periods to come,” KMC said. In a separate research note sent to the Philippine News Agency, Joey Bondoc, senior research manager at Colliers International Philippines, said the downward pressure on Cebu’s office rents is expected to continue up until 2021. “In our view, rates in key business districts such as Cebu IT and Business parks and their fringe areas are likely to post the fastest pace of recovery as we see occupants, partic-


ularly outsourcing firms, gravitating towards these business hubs,” he said. Bondoc said once market sentiments improve this could contribute to a stronger pace of office leasing beyond 2021. Colliers sees new office completions in 2021 for Metro Cebu rising by 206 percent to 114,100 sqm compared to its projected 37,300 sqm in 2020. These include office buildings that were deferred in 2020. “Completion of some office buildings will likely be delayed to the second half of 2021 to 2022. From our initial projection of 100,300 sqm of annual new supply from 2021 to 2022, we now see the delivery of about 93,600 sqm annually,” Bondoc added. (Carlo Lorenciana)


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Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper (January 11-17, 2021)  

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Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper (January 11-17, 2021)  

Tels. (062) 955-5360, (0915) 3976197 | 3F, JLC Bldg., Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City, Philippines | mindanaoexaminer@gmail.com |...