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Missed your copy of Manila Standard? Call or text our Circulation Hotline at 0917-8848655 or email: circulation@manilastandard.net

VOL. XXXIV • NO. 51 • 2 SECTIONS 12 PAGES • P18 WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020 • www.manilastandard.net • mst.daydesk@gmail.com

Rody set to ink law vs. COVID SIGNED AND SEALED. In this file photo, President Rodrigo Duterte puts his signature on paper to enact a bill into law at Malacanang. He was expected to do the same Tuesday to the 'Bayanihan to Heal as One Act' granting him extra powers to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Hospitals bursting at the seams, plead for relief in treating cases MAJOR hospitals in Metro Manila on Tuesday closed their doors to additional patients seeking treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus due to overcapacity, even as the Philippines saw its number of positive cases surge to 552 as the Department of Health reported 90 new cases, a new daily high. In separate statements, St. Luke’s Medical Center in the cities of Quezon and Taguig, Makati Medical Center, and The Medical City in Pasig City all said they are unable to attend to more COVID-19 cases as several patients were still under their care. St. Luke’s said it could no longer accept coronavirus patients for confinement in its two hospitals but would still provide outpatient COVID-19 testing for qualified

patients. Its emergency rooms meanwhile will continue to accommodate patients for outpatient medical services Both its hospitals are currently treating 48 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and 139 patients under investigation. Of St. Luke’s health frontliners, 592 are already under quarantine, its management said in a statement. “Both hospitals have already exceeded maximum capacity and admitting more COVID-19 patients will seriously impact our ability to deliver the critical level of care and attention patients need at this time,” it said. Makati Medical Center meanwhile said it has reached its “threshold in its capability to respond to more COVID-19 cases.”Next page

Gives him powers to address national emergency By Macon Ramos-Araneta and Maricel V. Cruz


RESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed into law the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” granting him extra powers to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, despite Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s insistence that these did not amount to emergency powers.

Sotto said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s erstwhile aide, had the President sign the Palace-backed measure at the Presidential Security Group compound in Manila at around 8 p.m. “Today. Sen. Bong Go was telling me last night (Monday) kung pwedeng maabutan nga niya si Presidente, papipirmahan niya na eh (if he could catch the President to have him sign it),” Sotto told Senate reporters in an interview. Early Tuesday, the Senate voted 20-1 to approve Senate Bill No. 1418, which

the House of Representatives adopted later in the day after congressmen approved Majority Leader Martin Romualdez’s motion to adopt it as an amendment to House Bill 6616 (We Heal as One Act) (see sidebar – Editors). The bill also put the entire country under a state of national emergency. “We never talked about emergency powers. In fact during the meeting [in the Palace], I was telling them not to use emergency powers because fhe people might not like it,” Sotto said. Next page

Salient points of 'Bayanihan' emergency bill SENATE Bill No. 1418, titled “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to exercise additional powers necessary to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in the country. The Senate bill was adopted by the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning after lawmakers approved Majority Leader Martin Romualdez’s motion to adopt SB1418 as amendment to House Bill 6616 (We Heal as One Act). Salient points of the bill are: Grants the President, among others, control over funds of at least P275 billion under the 2020 General Appropriations Act. Gives President Legal authority to “direct the operation” of certain privately owned facilities as well as deal with “wayward” local government officials. Reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation in the 2020 budget which will be used in the fight against Covid-19. Empowers the President to direct the operation of any privately-owned hospitals and medical and health facilities, including passenger vessels, and other establishments to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, quarantine centers, medical relief, and aid distribution locations. Next page


# OF CASES 552

NO MORE ROOM. The Medical City (left) and both branches of the St. Luke's Hospital (right), as well as the Makati Medical Center, on Tuesday said they could no longer accept coronavirus patients for confinement due to overcapacity. This developed as another frontline doctor, cardiologist Raul Jara (inset), died early Tuesday from the dread disease.


35 20 90

Another frontline doctor passes on, 10 more villages in QC placed on 'extreme lockdown' several colleagues under treatment ByandRioReyN.E.Araja Requejo A FORMER president of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) became the fourth frontline doctor to succumb to COVID-19, even as six more doctors from the Philippine Heart Center tested positive for the highly infectious coronavirus disease on Tuesday. Cardiologist Raul Jara died early Tuesday, the PHA announced on Facebook, describing him as “one of the great pillars of cardiology.” “He was a great father, teacher, men-

tor, poet, author, singer, colleague, friend. One who has spent his life teaching. One who never got tired to impart knowledge and wisdom. One who made you sweat as he bombards you with questions but would suddenly make you feel at ease as he breaks into a smile,” the group said. Over the weekend, the group also mourned the loss of cardiologist Israel Bactol, 34, along with two other doctors — anesthesiologist Gregorio Macasaet III

THE Quezon City government on Tuesday placed an additional 10 villages under extreme enhanced community quarantine, bringing to 12 the total areas under watch for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

In its official Viber account, the city identified those under extreme lockdown as barangays Ramon Magsaysay, Maharlika, San Isidro Labrador, Tatalon, Damayang Lagi, Batasan Hills, Masagana, Bagong Silangan, Pasong Tamo and Central. Barangays Tandang Sora and Kalusu-

gan were previously declared under extreme quarantine. “Barangay Central does not have the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) patients but will be under extreme enhanced community quarantine due to the presence of the hospitals in the area,” it noted. Next page

Next page

Hubei to open up as world shuts out BEIJING―China announced Tuesday an end to travel curbs at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, as governments around the world tightened lockdowns affecting 1.7 billion people in a desperate effort to slow the spread of the deadly disease. Hubei province, where the novel coronavirus emerged late last year, will allow

healthy residents to travel from midnight, officials said, two months after they were ordered to stay indoors. The relaxation of rules, which will not apply to the hardest-hit city of Wuhan until April 8, comes as Britain and New Zealand joined nations in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia in declaring Next page

SOCIAL PRECAUTIONS. The Pasig City government launched Tuesday a mobile market (left photo) to prevent crowd buildup at the city's mega market in line with the social distancing measures advised by the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19. Right photo shows personnel of the Santa Ana Police Station 6 in Manila hang plastic protective shields as an emergency measure against the pandemic, with people going in and out of the station.





Declare virus truce, Joma tells Reds the ceasefire declared by the government, calling it “premature, if not insincere and false.” He said enemy forces had persisted in launching tactical offensives and bombing of communities in the countryside as well as campaigns of red tagging, abductions and murder in the urban areas, adding “ it is understandable why the NDFP has desisted from reciprocating the false unilateral ceasefire declared by the GRP last March 15, 2020.” “While committed to their unilateral ceasefire declaration, the NPA and revolutionary forces can remain vigilant and militant in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people not only against the Covid-19 pandemic and the far deadlier Duterte virus of tyranny and corruption,” he added.

In his letter, seen in Manila on Tuesday, Sison said that as Chief Political Consultant, he was advising the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to recommend to its principal, the NDFP National Council, the issuance of a unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Communist Party of the Philippines to the New People’s Army. This would respond to the call of UN

Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire between warring parties for the common purpose of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Guterres, in a brief speech at the UN headquarters in New York, said it was time to put armed conflict on lockdown and “focus on the true fight of our lives.” “The NDFP and the broad masses of the people themselves need to refrain

from launching tactical offensives to gain more time and opportunity to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to look after the health and over-all welfare of the people in both urban and rural areas,” Sison said in his letter. But the rebel leader said once a unilateral ceasefire was declared, the NPA must be vigilant and prepared to act in self-defense against any tactical offensive launched by the military, police and paramilitary forces. “The world must know that long before the belated quarantine declarations and repressive measures of the GRP, the NDFP and the revolutionary forces have been informing, training and mobilizing the people on how to fight the pandemic,” he said. Sison initially refused to reciprocate


by any government-owned or controlled corporation (GOCC) or any national government agency as necessary to address the COVID-19 crisis,” Cayetano said. “Under the proposal, any unobligated amount, whether released or unreleased in the budget, shall be considered to have their purpose abandoned or fulfilled, as of the date of the declaration of the State of Emergency,” he added. The measure also provides for an emergency subsidy for 18 million low-income households across the country amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 each for two months. Among other powers given to the President is the authority to direct the operation of any privately-owned hospitals, medical and health facilities, including passenger vessels, as well as other establishments to house health workers, and to serve as qarantine facilities and distribution centers for medical relief and aid. The President will also have the authority to direct the operation of public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel. The senators also sought to give the Chief Executive authority to “expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing by public and designated private institutions of PUIs (patients under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring) and compulsory and immediate isolation and treatment of patients.” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said audit regulations on government agen-

cies and the anti-graft law will remain in force despite the grant of additional powers to the President. He said he hoped the bill would “give enough leeway” to the executive branch to do their job within three months. He rejected what he called a bid to obtain the “perpertual exercise of emergency powers” by limiting them to three months, unless Congress extends it. Drilon said he proposed amendments to make the provisions of the bill compliant with the Supreme Court rulings that barred the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). He said the power to realign funds should be in accordance with the regulations issued by the Supreme Court in the PDAF anf DAP cases. “We also made sure that the funds will be used to fund programs, projects and activities that directly related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic” he added. Senator Francis Pangilinan said he voted ‘Yes’ but with serious reservations on the grant of special powers to the President. He criticized the original draft bill as an attempt to get unlimited emergency powers and unlimited spending powers for the President. While it limited the exercise of these powers to two months, Pangilinan said the bill also also gives the President the power to extend it to however long he wants, and was quiet on how much and how funds would be spent.

“The Senate limited the powers to 90 days and any extension will require Congressional approval,” he said. He noted Senate version, now fully adopted by the House of Representatives, put some order, transparency, and accountability by prioritizing the distribution of medical supplies and the augmentation of the budget; limiting the President’s power to realign funds to “savings” within the executive branch, granting grace periods for loans and rental payments; including an expanded and more comprehensive dole program; providing P5,000 to P8,000 emergency subsidy a month, for a period of two months, to 18 million low-income families; exempting from import taxes equipment and supplies needed for the COVID-19 response; grants P100,000 or P1 million to public and private health workers who may contract or die from COVID-19; requiring the President to report to Congress weekly all acts performed as a result of the law; removing from the President the delegation of penal powers and specifies punishable acts under the law; clarifying that the Constitution prevails over any provision of the law; and making the effectivity of the law three months unless extended by Congress. “And as we said in our phone-in verbal explanation of vote, our ‘Yes’ vote comes with both a warning and an admonition.” “It is a warning and an admonition to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) that our people deserve better from them. And that the incoherent and often confusing, conflicting, and haphazard policy

and 18 COVID-19 positive cases admitted in its ward and intensive care unit as of Monday. Of its health frontliners, 137 are in quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus patients. “We do not wish at all to turn you away, but the reality is that we can no longer provide your loved-ones the care that they need,” it said. The Department of Health said it was preparing three state hospitals ― the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City ― to serve as referral centers for COVID-19 patients following an appeal from the private sector. As of Tuesday, Philippines’ COVID-19 cases rose to 552, with the Department of Health reporting an additional 90 new cases, a new daily high, as Luzon remained on lockdown in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus. Of the total tally, two new patients have recovered, identified as PH130 and PH87,

DOH said in its bulletin. In other news, the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said four more Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19, citing reports from the Hong Kong Health Department “There are now seven Filipino COVID-19 positive patients undergoing treatment in various hospitals in Hong Kong,” the consulate said, in its Facebook account, bringing the total number of Filipinos in who contracted the disease in the Chinese area to 11. Of the number, four have already recovered, based on data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The Philippine consulate assured it continues to extend all necessary assistance to those undergoing treatment. Home-made face masks not bad, WHO says THE World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that do-it-yourself or homemade face masks are not 100 percent protective, but can provide some degree of

protection. WHO Country Representative, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, said given the shortage of masks, stop-gap measures were all right in the sense that “any protection is better than no protection at all.” He said the Philippines is doing the right thing in focusing its limited testing capabilities on people already showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as they are more contagious. “Ninety percent of the disease is transmitted by symptomatic people. We need to focus expressly on those symptomatic people to maximize the benefit of the enhanced community quarantine that is being implemented,” Abeyasinghe said. Put casinos to use, Leonen says Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen suggested that the national government to convert casinos that have been shut down to medical facilities to treat and accommodate patients infected with COVID-19. “Remove all the gambling tables and you will have space for thousands of beds,” the magistrate said on his Twitter account.


made by the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in the fight to stop Covid-19, the Senate on Monday included in the national emergency bill a provision that will provide compensation for healthcare workers who get infected or, worse, die from the disease. In other developments: • A party-list legislator has tapped several UV Express vans to provide free transportation for health care workers in the fight against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. Rep. Ronnie Ong of Ang Probinsyano party-list made the move in anticipation of a prolonged enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces. Ong said this initiative “will not only make life easier for doctors and medical staff who have to walk for hours to go to work because of the unavailability of public transport but it would also provide livelihood for the hundreds of UV Express drivers who were economically dislocated because

of the suspension of all public transport.”

dium-sized firms hammered by state lockdowns across the country. Asian markets cheered the news, with Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul rocketing in their latest rollercoaster session. That upswing came despite US politicians' failure to sign off on a nearly $2 trillion package that President Donald Trump says is aimed at supporting ailing enterprises, and helicoptering cash to American families. His opponents say the bill is too heavily weighted to bailing out big business. The British government, which has faced accusations it dithered over the health crisis and needlessly allowed schools to remain open far longer than European counterparts, came into line on Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a three-week shutdown of "non-essential" shops and services and banned gatherings of more than two people. "Stay at home," Johnson said in a televised address, as he unveiled unprecedented peacetime measures. The announcement came after crowds of people were seen enjoying weekend sunshine in parks and countryside, prompting calls for tougher action. World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the global pandemic was clearly accelerating. The number of coronavirus deaths has topped 16,200, with more than 360,000 declared infections in 174 countries and territories, according to an AFP tally. AFP

By Vito Barcelo


XILED Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison has advised his allies in the rebel movement at home to declare a unilateral truce as a response to the United Nations call for an immediate global ceasefire amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

From A

“Because there is an emergency situation, we are giving the President [the] authority... some financial powers because what we want to address is financial, since our people, especially those in the informal sector, have no jobs now,” Sotto said. “That was what we said. If you said emergency powers, we are talking about a different thing here,” Sotto said, adding that safeguards were in place to thwart possible abuse. “It even has a restriction on time. It’s within the two months and if the COVID-19 problem would be prolonged, we can approve it to three months,” he said. The bill would provide financial assistance to 18 million low-income households that are reeling from the Luzon-wide lockdown that have kept people away from their jobs. An extension could be discussed, if need be, Sotto added. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House version of the bill authorizes the President to “reprogram, reallocate, and realign” any appropriation in the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) “as may be necessary and beneficial to fund measures that will respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including social amelioration for affected communities and the recovery and rehabilitation.” The President will also have authority to “allocate cash, funds, and investments held

Hospitals... From A

“As such, we can no longer extend the same degree of care and attention for any additional admission for COVID-19 cases,” its medical director Dr. Saturnino Javier said in a statement. The premier Makati hospital noted that its emergency department “will try” to give preliminary evaluation and treatment to patients but “cannot guarantee a room” for admission. At present, close to 70 patients are admitted at Makati Medical, including those who are COVID-19 positive, it said. The patients, 15 percent of whom are in the intensive care unit, include some of the hospital’s health frontliners. The Medical City urged incoming patients to seek medical attention elsewhere, citing overcapacity. The Pasig City-based medical facility said it has 64 patients under investigations

10 more... From A

The Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney Transplant and Institute, Lung Center of the Philippines and East Avenue Medical Center are located within Barangay Central. The local government clarified “Barangay Old Balara is NOT included in the extreme enhanced community quarantine because it only has one active case remaining (one died and one recovered).” On the other hand, “Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, which has three positive patients, is NOT included in the extreme enhanced community quarantine because all three patients belong to only one household,” it noted. In its latest bulletin, the city government said its health department reported 13 new COVID-19 cases. As of March 23 at 7 p.m., there were three deaths, bringing the number of fatalities to six. Six patients were able to recover, the city said. To date, there are 62 cases of COVID-19 in Quezon City. The covered courts of the Quezon Memorial Circle and Quezon City University have been identified as isolation areas for persons under investigation and persons under monitoring, while one dormitory and five hotels have been tapped as additional accommodation for health workers. Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday vowed to facilitate the repatriation of stranded Filipino seafarers abroad due to travel restrictions imposed by various countries to curb the spread of COVID-19.

From A

of Manila Doctors Hospital, and oncologist Rose Pulido of the San Juan de Dios Hospital — who were on the front line in the battle against the pandemic have also died. At least 10 other doctors fallen ill, with some suffering from the severe form of the disease and four being treated at the Heart Center. Doctor Joel Abanilla, PHC executive director, said he was hopeful that they four doctors will recover soon and described them as “relatively well.” as the hospital is now conducting contact tracing among patients and other people who may have had contact with the sick doctors. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the doctors who died while performing their duties are heroes. Recognizing the sacrifices being made

Hubei... From A

The financial impact of economies grinding to a halt continued to unnerve policymakers, who opened the spigots and flooded the markets with yet more cash -their latest effort to keep the wheels turning. In the United States, the Federal Reserve unveiled an unprecedented bond-buying programme, in a move not seen since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. The Fed, which has already slashed interest rates to record lows, said it will buy unlimited amounts of Treasury debt and take steps to lend directly to small and me-

“We decided to tap on UV express vans to augment the current transport support for health workers. This is also a way to help drivers who have no current source of income due to the enhance community quarantine, “ Ong, vice chairman of the House appropriations committee, said. • Two more routes were added to the free shuttle service for health workers in Metro Manila, with a total of 16 routes as of Tuesday on the second week of the enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon. “From the three initial routes since the program began on 18 March 2020, it now has 16 routes. This means more health workers will be assisted by the department’s initiative,” the Department of Transportation said in a Facebook post. According to the DOTr, the 15th route would have its pickup and transfer points at the SLEX Sucat Exit and Baclaran Market.

PAL suspends remaining int'l flights Mar. 26 By Joel E. Zurbano LEGACY carrier Philippine Airlines on Tuesday announced it is suspending all remaining international flights beginning Friday, March 26 until April 14 due to losses caused by the travel restriction imposed by the government in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. “We regret to advise that all remaining Philippine Airlines international flights will be suspended temporarily, starting from 26 March 2020, Thursday until 14 April 2020. All domestic flights had ceased as of March 17, 2020,” the PAL management said in a statement. After careful consideration, the airline concluded that it could no longer sustain even a limited number of international flights for the following compelling reasons: 1) The strict travel and entry restrictions imposed by more and more countries; 2) The resulting collapse in demand for travel; and 3) Continuing challenges in staffing our Manila airport hub during the ongoing lockdown. “Accordingly, our last flight to depart from Manila this week will be PR 104 bound for San Francisco at 10:10 PM on March 25. Several flights will continue to arrive in Manila on March 26 from Los Angeles, Tokyo Narita and Jakarta, and on March 27 from New York JFK, San Francisco and Los Angeles,” the airline stated. PAL is hoping it will resume flight service operations beginning April 15, if warranted by Philippine and international authorities, global public health conditions and the travel environment. It urged clients to stay posted for announcements on its official website www. philippineairlines.com and its PAL Facebook and Twitter social media accounts. “We shall now turn our attention to the task of conserving our resources in anticipation of the recovery and caring for the needs of our PAL team members, while we keep our fleet ready for the day that we resume flying. We shall continue to make aircraft and service personnel available for special flights to retrieve stranded passengers as well as cargo flights to keep intact critical supply chains across our islands,” PAL stated.

Salient... From A

The President may take over private business operations subject to the limits and safeguards enshrined in the Constitution, should private business owners “unjustifiably refuse or signified that they are no longer capable of operating their enterprises” as directed by the executive department. Private entities that will be “directed” by the executive department must be given “reasonable compensation” for any additional damage or costs incurred by the owner or the possessor of the subject property solely on account of complying with the directive. Authorizes President to expedite and streamline accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing; Ensures that all Local Government Units (LGUs) are acting in line with the rules issued by the national government; Continue to enforce measures to protect the people from hoarding, profiteering, injurious speculations, manipulation of prices, product deceptions, and cartels; Prioritize the allocation and distribution of medical supplies to coronavirus-referral hospitals, public and private laboratories, and health facilities that have capacities to test and care for suspected Covid-19 patients. Ensure the availability of credit to the productive sectors of the economy; Liberalize the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical or needed equipment or supplies; Require businesses to prioritize and accept contracts, subject to fair and reasonable terms, needed to boost government’s fight against Covid-19; Regulate and limit the operation of all sectors of transportation through land, sea or air, whether private or public; Conserve, regulate and ensure an adequate supply of power, fuel, energy and water; Undertake such other measures as may be reasonable and necessary to enable the President to carry out the declared national policy subject to the Bill of Rights and other constitutional guarantees. The President’s authorized powers “shall be valid for three months, unless amended by Congress”. President Duterte will be required to submit a weekly report to the Congress of all actions he performed under the proposed law. The bill also aims to provide “emergency subsidies” ― amounting between P5,000 and P8,000 per month for two months ― to some 18 million indigent families whose livelihood are severely affected by enhanced community quarantine being implemented in Luzon.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020 mst.daydesk@gmail.com


Duque urges TB patients to get free medicines H By Macon Ramos-Araneta

EALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III Tuesday urged Filipinos undergoing treatment for active tuberculosis (TB) disease to get their free medicines good for one month instead of going to the health facility for their daily dose of TB medicines.

BEFORE YOU GO. Frontliners after duty in Bacoor, Cavite on Tuesday have themselves decontaminated before leaving their post to ensure they are not infected with the coronavirus for the protection of their respective families. JR Josue

IN BRIEF PETA: Free access for animal rescuers THE People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Tuesday asked that veterinarians and animal rescuers be considered “essential workers” and granted access to move freely across Luzon and the rest of the Philippines to continue helping animals in need. The group rushed an urgent letter to President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials as currently, because of travel restrictions and checkpoints, several veterinarians cannot reach their clinics. “Similarly, PETA receives calls about dying and sick animals all the time, but right now, its rescue team is unable to go to their aid,” PETA said in a statement. “Veterinarians and animal rescuers are involved in lifesaving efforts, and their help is desperately needed by animals such as dogs and cats, especially during this national health emergency,” said PETA Senior Vice President of International Campaigns Jason Baker, in a letter to Duterte. “Not allowing these workers to provide animals with vital assistance could lead members of the public to take matters into their own hands without professional help, which could be disastrous for humans, animals, and the community at large,” he added. PETA said they hope that the restrictions will be lifted immediately. Their emergency response line to call is 0999-888-7382. Willie Casas

3 Chinese nabbed for fake passports BUREAU of Immigration (BI) officers assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 have intercepted three Chinese nationals with falsified passport stamps who tried to leave for Vietnam. BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the three, identified as Qiu Qilong, Su Lianfa, and Wang Huiting, were intercepted upon attempting to depart via a Philippine Airlines flight for Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. “Upon verification of our records, it was confirmed that they falsified their previous travel history,” said Medina. “In their passports you would see that they arrived last February, but our database clearly shows that they’ve been here without leaving since January,” he added. Medina said that their centralized database contains all the travel information of arriving and departing passengers, hence “falsification of such in travel documents would be easily detected by officers.” The three were immediately deported and included the BI’s blacklist. Vito Barcelo

SM takes care of own workers WITH the unprecedented global health crisis, companies under SM today stand in solidarity with the nation and the citizenry in the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus. In a statement, SM on Tuesday assured all of its employees their regular compensation as well as the extension of an Emergency Financial Assistance to its front liners, security guards and janitorial staff during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period from March 16 to April 14, 2020. “In these trying times, we are in uncharted territory. Let’s be one with each other, united in the spirit of service. Let’s be mindful of our front liners and help with their need to be alert so they can continue to do their best in working for the safety and health of our communities,” said Hans T. Sy on behalf of the Sy family, which owns SM. The extent of this assistance includes the following: All employees will receive their regularly scheduled salaries during the ECQ period without deductions made against their Vacation and Sick Leaves; The company’s front liners, who comprise the skeletal workforce, will, in addition, be provided with premium pay; All Security Guards and Janitorial staff will receive financial assistance of P5,000 for the period. It is focused on helping these key resources so that they in turn can be of service to others. On a daily basis since the ECQ, SM has also been undertaking measures to protect the safety and welfare of its front line personnel with protective gear, meals, and transportation whenever possible. SM continues to assess the health crisis with vigilance; enjoining its employees and the public to follow guidelines and precautions to help combat the virus.

LB assures beneficiaries of CCTP funds release By Julito G. Rada

STATE-RUN LandBank of the Philippines, the fourth-largest lender in terms of assets, assured the beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program of the government of the continuous release of their cash grants amid the coronavirus 2019 pandemic. In a statement on Tuesday, LandBank said it would continue to release the cash grants as scheduled through the beneficiaries’ LandBank cash cards. The government’s social intervention program called the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) is under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Crediting of the cash grants to a total of 2,528,122 CCT beneficiaries nationwide will be on March 24, 26 and 28, 2020, the bank said. At the same time, LandBank reminded the beneficiaries, including the general public, that the cash cards may be used for cashless purchases of groceries and medicines in supermarkets and drugstores through the point-of-sale machines at the cashier or check-out counters. Also, in line with safety and health measures being adopted by the bank, clients are encouraged to use LandBank’s ATMs and electronic banking channels which may be accessed 24/7, anytime, anywhere, instead of going to its branches. These include the LandBank Mobile App, iAccess, WeAccess, Link.Biz Portal, Electronic Tax Payment System and Phone Access. Meanwhile, Land Bank also assured the public of its continued banking operations. Selected Land Bank branches in the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will remain open. The onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic compelled the government to place the entire Luzon island under a month-long enhanced community quarantine that will last until April 12, 2020.

The move is in line with the Enhanced Community Quarantine enforced in Luzon and other parts of the country because of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The DOH issued a Department Memorandum mandating health workers in government TB clinics to allow “enrolled patients to take home onemonth supply of anti-TB medications.” Since the start of 2020, about 37,500 patients have started their treatment regimen. In 2019, close to 330,000 Filipinos were enrolled for TB treatment. “Those with TB are at higher risk of getting COVID-19. We are rolling out measures for their uninterrupted regimen,” said Duque. He said old age, malnutrition, heavy smoking, weak immune system, being a person living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV), and chronic conditions like diabetes and renal disease increase the risk for people to become vulnerable to both COVID-19 and TB. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should not lose sight of other infectious and pandemic diseases, especially TB,” the health chief added. He added when an individual would go to a health facility for respiratory symptoms and had any of the risk factors but tested negative for COVID-19, he or she should be considered presumptive for TB. A TB patient requires a daily treatment regimen that lasts for six to nine months. Patients are encouraged to go to TB clinics to take their medicines, under the care of a designated health worker. “To protect our health workers and TB patients from COVID-19 infection,

Teachers’ clamor for PBB 2018 finally granted

Bishops urged to join ‘Our Father’ prayer

By Willie Casas THE Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Tuesday welcomed the decision of the AO 25 to grant all Department of Education’s (DepEd’s) school-based personnel the 2018 Performance Based Bonus (PBB) despite DepEd’s non-compliance on the requirements set forth by the task force. “Clearly it is the product of teachers clamor. Teachers and employees deserve to receive this bonus as they faithfully and even went beyond their means to deliver their functions,” said ACT in a statement. “With this decision, we call on the DepEd and DBM to immediately process the release of the bonus as this is badly needed by our teachers and employees with the continuing wrath of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) in the country,” the group said. ACT further appealed to AO 25, on humanitarian ground, that all other employees of DepEd receive the same. “Everybody is affected by the crisis,” they said. Meanwhile, ACT continues to receive many reports of unpaid special hardship allowance and other related benefits. “We call on DepEd to immediately act on this promptly,” the group said. DepEd on Monday announced that school-based personnel in the department are now eligible for the PerformanceBased Bonus (PBB) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. DepEd said that PBB was an “incentive given to government employees in accordance with their performance and contribution to the accomplishment of their agency’s overall targets and commitments.” The AO25 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) sets “specific conditions and reviews the agency’s compliance and accomplishments within a fiscal year to determine the eligibility of the agency and its personnel to receive PBB.” DepEd said the Task Force “has decided to grant the 2018 PBB for teaching and non-teaching school-based personnel in all elementary and secondary schools nationwide” subject to the submission of DepEd’s school level performance rating and ranking.

we will enforce a home-based strategy in which a family member will support the patient in taking his or her medicines,” said Duque, adding that patients should immediately inform their health care providers for any adverse side effects. The DOH pronouncement is timely for the World TB Day observance on March 24. To commemorate World TB Day, DOH and partners like the Philippine Coalition Against Tuberculosis (PhilCAT), World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also launched a new communication campaign to combat the disease dubbed #TBFreePH. The #TBFreePHcampaign aims to increase conversations about TB and promote measures to eliminate the TB burden by 2035. The end goal is to reduce TB deaths by 15 percent from an estimated 26,000 in 2018 to 22,000 in 2023. USAID supports the Philippine government’s fight against TB through technical assistance worth over $50 million from 2018 to 2023. Last year, USAID helped DOH treat more than 360,000 people with TB. “We salute our health workers who have gone more than the extra mile during this challenging period,” Duque said, recognizing the efforts of public and private health service providers for continuous health services, promotion and education. Preventive measures against TB are similar to those recommended to halt the spread of COVID-19, including cough manners, hand hygiene, and infection control at home and workplaces.

OPLAN DISINFECTION. Members of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and

Management Office and fire volunteers conduct a disinfection activity around Manila’s heavily populated Tondo district on Tuesday for the IWAS COVID-19 campaign in the country. Norman Cruz

Plant food crops at home, in communities—Legarda By Maricel V. Cruz DEPUTY Speaker Loren Legarda on Tuesday urged the planting of food crops in home gardens and backyards as well as community open spaces to promote food security and mitigate global warming. Legarda, who represents Antique in the House of Representatives, said that national agencies, local governments, businesses, offices, industries, and households “can establish edible landscapes and community gardens in order to help ensure food supply and ecosystem services, which are key thematic areas in the country’s National Climate Change Action Plan.” Legarda in a statement said that community gardens and edible landscapes were spaces in urban and rural areas, as well as in households, that have been transformed to fruit and vegetable gardens where community members can partake. The planting of fruit and vegatable crops, she said, “could be one of the most effective ways to lessen the impacts of urbanization and climate change, especially in Metro Manila,”

adding that community gardens and edible landscapes can reduce urban heat, provide various ecosystem services, and stabilize water runoff. “For a climate vulnerable and developing country like the Philippines, we need more green infrastructure to raise climate change adaptation within our cities and municipalities. Various studies already show that green landscapes improve the quality of life and support economic growth due to a positive ambience influenced by a healthy environment,” she added. Legarda authored the Food Forest Gardening bill or House Bill 637. The bill seeks to promote and institutionalize food forest gardening in the country as a sustainable land use system to address the limited resources for sustainable food production with minimal farming costs but increased harvests even in small plots of land. As chairperson of the Committee on Finance during her time in the Senate, she included in the General Appropriations Act the “Gulayan sa Paaralan” program as a special provision in the budget of the Department of Education.

THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has invited all bishops and the faithful to join Pope Francis in praying “Our Father” on March 25. In Circular 20-17 released on Monday, CBCP secretary general Fr. Marvin Mejia urged prelates and diocesan administrators to participate in the Church event which would be headed by the Holy Father. “On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, he has called the ‘heads of Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all the Christians of the various confessions’ to recite at the same time the ‘Our Father’. Heeding the Pope’s invitation, we recommend that we will pray together the Lord’s Prayer at 6 o’clock in the evening on March 25,” said the order. Likewise, Mejia asked them to listen to his prayer giving the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it. “The Holy Father has also announced that on Friday, March 27, he will preside over a moment of prayer with him giving the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it through the various forms of communication,” he said. “The live broadcast from the Vatican will begin at 6 p.m. Rome time (midnight Saturday)”, Mejia added. The Order was issued upon the instruction of CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles. On Sunday, Pope Francis invited all Christians to join in praying the “Our Father” as a response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.





Cash for the poor WORKING overtime on March 23 and 24, Congress approved an emergency powers bill giving President Duterte broad powers to raise or reallocate taxpayers’ money to fight the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory and pneumonia-like disease caused by the coronavirus, and spread cash to the poor, totaling P200 billion for 18 million families for the next two months.

‘The government will no longer takeover private businesses imbued with public interest. They will just be directed.’ The six-page House Bill 6616 has three major purposes: 1) for the President to contain and mitigate the impact of coronavirus; 2) raise or reallocate funds from the current national budget to implement No. 1; and 3) direct the operation of any private hospitals, hotels, quarantine centers, distribution facilities, and public transport for the use of health, emergency, and frontline personnel and “other persons” (I presume the patients). The government will no longer takeover private businesses imbued with public interest. These businesses will just be “directed” by government agents. The Senate version is SB 1418, “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.” It empowers the President to adopt a number of temporary emergency measures, including: 1) suppression of COVID-19; 2) prompt testing by public and private hospitals of COVID-19 suspects, and their compulsory and immediate isola-

Adelle Chua, Editor


tion and treatment; 3) ensuring that local government units enforce community quarantine consistent with directives of the national government; 4) when the public interest so requires, directing the operation of private hospitals and medical facilities, including passenger vessels (and) other establishments to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, medical relief and aid distribution, and public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel and other persons; 5) measures against hoarding, profiteering, speculation, price manipulation, product deception, cartels, monopolies or other combinations in restraint of trade affecting the supply of food, clothing, hygiene and sanitation products, medicine, fuel, fertilizers, chemicals, building materials, and machinery and spare parts for agriculture, industry, and other essential services, and other articles of prime necessity local or imported; and 6) procurement of personal protective equipment, testing kits, medical and laboratory supplies and devices, common medicines like paracetamol and vitamins and iodine; soap and detergents, alcohol, sanitizers, tissue, thermometers and cleaning supplies (I suppose that includes your timba, ordinary broom and dustpan). The President is also authorized to procure goods and services for social amelioration for affected communities (I suppose that includes sardines, instant noodles, rice, sugar, flour, and gasp, toilet paper). He can lease land and buildings for medical personnel, quarantine, medical relief and aid distribution, or temporary medical facilities. He can construct temporary hospitals. He can procure the services of utilities, telco and other critical services for the operation of quarantine centers, medical relief and aid distribution, and temporary medical facilities. The best but not clearly stated part of the Senate version is that the President will give away oodles of cash—P8,000 per month for two months for the poor families of Metro Manila; P6,000 for Southern and Central Luzon, Central

They really go to work for us


HE country's health workers—the doctors, nurses, medical technologists and others in the field—have been working hard during these extraordinary times.Every day, they expose themselves to risk. Some have contracted COVID-19 and are valiantly fighting it. Some, tragically, have passed on. Their colleagues, albeit fearful, carry on the heroic work. We thank them profusely. Today we also thank other frontlin-

ers who also go to work every day despite the threat of infection, just so the rest of us can comfortably sit through this quarantine. They include janitors in hospitals and other establishments, security guards, bank tellers, store attendants and cashiers, delivery people who transport food and supplies, vendors and others. Government officials who crave attention and recognition dare compare themselves to these workers, but they are not of the same level. These workers do not come to work just on days when it is convenient or beneficial for them to show up. They do not have to hold up a

crude banner to advertise what they do. Their mere presence against all odds—aside from the very real health risk, they have to deal with physical exhaustion, meager wages and the absence of public transportation, as opposed to the chauffeured lawmakers with fat paychecks—tells us they are the real deal. We do not know yet how long we will be in quarantine. While we commit to do our share by limiting physical movement to essentials and by taking care of our health, we rest assured that there are genuine warriors out there who have our best interest at heart.

Turn to A5

From 3 to 552 in 30 days IT COULD, and would likely grow much more, and much faster, in the days to come. I refer to the extent of the COVID-19 epidemic as it affects the Philippines. I write this at 9:00 am of Tuesday, the 24th of March. Thirty days before, on February 25, in fact not until March 5, did our health officials confirm that the number 3 had become 5, with one death, that of a foreigner, confirmed. Looking further back, on January 30, our health officials announced the first case of the then unofficially named viral disease. By March 7, there was a sixth case; the following day, there were four more cases, and then 10, then 11 more, then 16 more—in daily cadence. On March 12, government declared an NCR-wide lockdown, after 52 cases were confirmed officially. By the night of March 17, it was a Luzon-wide lockdown, with evidence of widespread community transmission (187 cases) which was unknown and undetected (at least officially) from January 30 to the middle of March. Government had to take the extreme measure because our health officials, clearly, did not know the extent of the contagion. The only solution left was to lock everybody down in their homes to prevent the further spread of the disease. That was just a week ago. Now we have 552 cases, with 35 deaths, including medical professionals. Because doctors continue to serve the sick, having taken the Oath of Hippocrates, they and their assists, nurses and other health workers, have now been exposed to extreme danger of contagion. In fact, as we write, at least three of them have died. Others are confined because they had become victims of the COVID as well. We grieve for them, and we worry for the state of the rest of them, because we cannot fathom the end of this, and we re-

alize that our health system is breaking at the seams, our health officials themselves seemingly paralyzed by doubts on how to act and act quickly. The medical situation is severe. Hospitals have raised the alarm about the abject lack of test kits and personal protective equipment, about the lack of hospital beds and ventilators, about the physical fatigue of heroic workers continuing to do their best under almost impossible, and surely unhealthy conditions.

The lockdown helps, sure, but how many have already been infected because we did not test earlier? Yet for months since January 30, the DOH only had 2,000 test kits, and only the other day did our DFA Secretary profusely thank China after posing with its envoy when a hundred thousand test kits arrived at the international airport. So now we have more test kits, but whether they are enough or not is a question less difficult to answer than whether we can ramp up our testing protocols enough to contain what has already become un-containable. The lockdown helps, sure, but how many have already been infected because we did not test earlier? Sure, other nations did not see it coming. The President of the United States of America was lying through his teeth for a month or more, assuring his people they were “immune enough” to the “Chinese virus.” Now, the biggest state with 40 million souls, California, where a million Filipinos reside, has been locked down. And New York City, the “capital of the world.” Even the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, did not push the pandemic button until the 11th Turn to A5


China is ending the trouble while troublemakers are in trouble By Luis T. Arriola AFTER more than two months of nationwide efforts to fight the coronavirus in China, the cumulative number of cured and discharged patients from hospitals has exceeded 88 percent of the total confirmed cases, and the number of newly confirmed cases has been returned to zero. Currently, there are only some imported cases that are being isolated from the community. There is no doubt that WHO and the international community accept that the campaign in China has achieved decisive and important results and the country's existing cases will vanish soon. The Chinese government and people are proud of the country's soft power, thanks to the traditional Chinese collectivism and culture. Due to ideological differences, the western media would not chant the praises of China, but they cannot ignore the achievements of the Chinese campaign against the coronavirus. The Australian media has even alarmingly discovered that the Chinese Communist Party is teaching the western world a lesson. More and more cases of coronavirus, meanwhile, have been confirmed in more than 100 countries and regions outside China, including the rapidly growing number of tens of thousands in the United States. But the number of done virus tests in the United States is far below the number of people actually infected and the people who need to be tested. According to Zhong Nanshan, a

well-known academician and chief expert on respiratory infectious diseases in China, the fatality rate of coronavirus in the United States is 3 percent. The figure is higher than in other Chinese provinces outside Wuhan, suggesting that many patients may go undetected. America's politicians have been quick to blame China and Europe for the outbreak, who should have focused on aggressive measures to halt its spread. WHO's director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus criticized some countries that have taken no action on the crises. He said in a conference on March 11 that we had never seen coronavirus cause a pandemic, for many countries or communities that are dealing with the large scale spread of the infection, the challenge is not whether they are able to do something, but how much they intend to do so. In the past two weeks, he said, there has been a 13-fold increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus diagnosed outside China. American President Donald Trump, in a nationally televised speech, stressed that the coronavirus from the start is a "foreign virus" and a "Chinese virus," originated in China and spread across the world. Many American politicians shared the same tone with Trump, and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State of the US, did not use WHO's given name COVID-19, but called the coronavirus as "Wuhan virus." US assistant national security adviser O'Brian went so far as to accuse China of covering up the outbreak. US politicians, led by the Presi-

dent, tried to downplay the outbreak at the start of the crisis, focusing instead on Trump's re-election campaign, the volatility of stock market and the rise and fall of oil prices. When the outbreak surged to the point where it could not be covered up, they turned in a rush to transfer the contradictions, and took China as a scapegoat to guide the American people to blame and even hate China, so as to play down their administrative responsibilities. Ironically, the next day after Trump's televised speech, US capital markets reacted to the US leadership's incompetence with a "circuit breaker" that push the DOW Jones down to 2,352 points, its biggest one-day fall since 1987. Market panic was exacerbated by multiple factors, with the VIX, the fear gauge, rising more than 40 per cent to its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. Are there any hidden outbreaks of coronavirus in the United States? This has been frequently questioned by the people. President Trump admitted that 29 million people caught the flu in the United States last year bringing deaths of more than 20,000. Since it is so, any of them in the flu deaths actually died of coronavirus? Here comes the answer. At a hearing in the House of Representatives on March 11, Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acknowledged that there are cases in the US where people who were diagnosed with the flu Turn to A5

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Opinion Goodness abounds CROSSROADS J.A. DE LA CRUZ I BEGIN this column by saluting our frontliners—all medical and hospital workers, security and border control officers, LGU workers from the officials to the tanods and barangay health workers, utilities personnel, workers in the food, medicine and other essential items sectors including those involved in logistics support, transport and related workers and all others who are involved in the day-to-day nationwide effort to contain the transmission of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Their sacrifices will forever be remembered.

It’s our most powerful weapon. Let me also salute all those who have heeded the call to actively practice the protocols called for under the enhanced community quarantine ordered by government. By being an active and disciplined citizen and ensuring that you will not only be a possible patient but a carrier as well, you have joined the ranks of those who have elevated your goodness beyond yourself. That is truly praiseworthy. As we have always been saying, we are in this together, this is our world, not just ourselves, that we are saving. Mabuhay! Having said that, it is worth noting that in the midst of fear and panic all over the place, hope and good news abound. This pandemic is bringing out the best in each of us. Goodness abounds, indeed. Despite the missteps and false news including unwarranted efforts by some quarters to denigrate the initiatives taken thus far to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, positive vibes have begun to take root. We have noticed as the days passed by that the public has come to accept stay-at-home enhanced community quarantine as the clearest means to contain the spread of this invisible foe. This, even as some recalcitrants are still trying to break out of this community effort that has been slowing down by the day as people get to appreciate what is being asked of them. Government is getting into the groove by taking all the necessary actions to ensure that nobody will be left behind. We are getting there as we prepare for the worst and people are properly and responsibly informed what lies ahead. It mattered that early on President Duterte vowed to ensure that the public's basic needs will be addressed properly. This includes jobs and livelihood of our people, specially those daily wage earners, small business people and those in the informal sector. We are talking here of millions of people and families who are on the verge of starvation on a daily basis. We are certain government will not let them starve. Not only government but a lot of people and companies have actually come around to share their time and resources in making sure that indeed nobody will

be left behind. You have heard of course of the initiatives taken by a host of business people. You have heard San Miguel's Ramon Ang say that the company's food and beverage group has enough food and related materials to last the entire population for the next six months. He has revved up his entire production group to ensure that its food and beverage products will reach and every family as and when needed. You have been seeing on TV all the Big Business groups almost trying to outdo each other in terms of actual giving: from the SM Group opening up all its service groups: banks, real estate, supermarts and the like for this national effort; to the Lucio Tan (LT) group; to the Ayala Group to the Jollibee group to Andrew Tan's Alliance which includes McDonalds; to the Rustan Group to the Robinson's Group and so on. Of course, the owners of the big radio and TV stations have made their facilities available on a 24/7 basis to public hungry for developments in the Philippines and the world. Yes, Big Business is doing its part despite the hammering of their stocks as publicly listed corporations. Even more heartwarming are those being done by other lesser known business groups and even ordinary folks who have come forward with whatever they can afford to lend a helping hand. One such group is the ALC Group founded by the late Ambassador Antonio " Tony" Cabangon Chua. The group is now being managed by his son, D. Edgard Cabangon Chua who, without any kind of fanfare, lent several of its hotels to medical frontliners in the thick of the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. In Pasay City, the group made the Dahlia Motel available, in Manila CityState Palanca and Vista Hotel as well as the CityState Tower Hotel for PGH health workers and the Dahlia Hotel in Pasig City. Aside from these gestures, the group has also decided to continue airing much-needed news, opinions and music over the entire DWIZ and Home Radio stations nationwide. Then, there are the hundreds maybe thousands of acts of kindness done all over the country by individuals, businesses and organizations who have come forward to extend a helping hand. There was the bakery owner in a small town in Albay who had to petition officials to let his bakery open for the poor who barely had centavos to spare for a piece of pandesal serving as their daily bread. Then, there are the vegetable growers in Nueva Ecija and Benguet who donated part of their harvest to various LGUs and organizations to be distributed free to the poorest of the poor in their communities. Then, there is this water refiller station in Paranaque which decided to donate its full day's production to the families of the tricycle drivers in the barangay. These and other instances of kindness yet to be recorded only serves to remind us all that despite the gloom enveloping the light of kindness, the spirit of goodness in every one of us prevails. This is the spirit which will conquer our fears and carry us through these truly hard times. Man's goodness and the unwavering belief in God's mercy and compassion are our most important weapons as we move on and conquer the unknown.

Cash... From A4

and Western Visayas, Region 10 and 11; P5,500 for Ilocos and Cagayan Valley, and P5,000 per month for two months for the poor families of Bicol and the rest of Mindanao. Senator Pia Cayetano sponsor of the Senate bill explained the rationale for this helicopter money, estimated to reach P200 billion: “We must be able to secure the welfare of the 24.6 million Filipino families, particularly the 18 million families who are poor or from the informal sector. Our immediate goal is to provide each of these 18 million with P5,000 to P8,000 a month for the next two months. This will provide for their food and other daily needs, and will increase the chances that they will stay home and keep themselves safe and other Filipinos safe.” “Our enhanced community quarantine in Luzon is designed precisely, and if done properly, to slow the spread of the transmissions, to save lives, and allow us to expand our health system to test and treat our people. This enhanced community quarantine is coupled with numerous measures, which need to be carried out at all levels of government, by the private sector, and civil society. These are urgent and extraordinary actions because this virus spreads fast. We need to slow it down and eventually halt it for good.” “However, these necessary actions do not come without economic cost. The island group of Luzon accounts for 72 percent of our gross domestic product or GDP. Without additional intervention, our positive GDP growth rate may reverse to negative 0.6 percent. If we are able to beat this virus in three months and redouble our efforts to recover our growth trajectory in the second half of the year, the economy can still grow by up to 4.6/4.3 percent, according to NEDA.” Cayetano said among the 18 million beneficiary families are “4.4 million households (who) are current beneficiaries of the 4Ps or conditional cash transfer or CCT program. They receive, on average, around P2,150 pesos per month, so we will just top-up their subsidies to reach the proposed P5,000 to P8,000, depending on their region, so that they can avail of basic food, medicine, and toiletries.” She said “the total Emergency Subsidy Program will require a total of 97.4 billion pesos per month, or roughly a little bit less than P200 billion for two months for all households working in the informal sector, plus P5.1 billion of administrative cost.” biznewsasia@gmail.com




A crisis for all By Titon Mitra WITH the COVID-19 wave about to engulf us, our response needs to be nuanced to the huge disparities in this country. The enhanced community quarantine, while certainly warranted, has markedly different impacts depending on where we sit on the income ladder. There is no doubt we all suffer from these measures, but we suffer to a greatly different extent. For the 2.5 million people in Metro Manila who reside in crowded slums, or the 15.1 million poor households nationwide, community quarantining and social distancing have entirely different implications. Lost income from restricted movement matters greatly, not just to the income earner but also to the whole family dependent on those earnings. There are no savings to draw upon. Crowded in one room that may be 3sqm, it is unrealistic to think that social distancing is possible. Collecting water or washing at communal points, walking through narrow alley ways, just stepping out to get some sunlight and less fetid air, or walking 3 hours to and from work because of the absence of public transport presents a whole set of risks. Certainly, efforts to suppress transmission with strict community quarantine measures need to be in place. But what are the complementary policies and programs for the poor? Can the Administration increase the amount and frequency of social safety net payments? Can we, as we would in the aftermath of a destructive typhoon, pro-

vide emergency water, sanitation, and food aid? These are preventative and alleviation measures. But there is also a looming crisis that requires a viable contingency plan. National epidemiologists are estimating that the number of people infected could rise to 75,000


within a few months (what about the projected fatality rate?) and that is likely a conservative figure. A significant proportion could be the poor living in crowded slums. Local governments will need to run the numbers and develop the worstcase scenarios for planning. Personal protective equipment for front line

China... From A4

died from coronavirus. We also saw a true story of covering up and allowing the spread of coronavirus. According to a New York Times report, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, a Chinese-American Ms Helen (Helen Chu Y.) in the initial stage of the outbreak, noticed a new case of coronavirus in Seattle, Washington where she lives. She and her team had been trying to virus test the case in their lab, but officials of relevant departments kept rejecting her application. The "confirmed case 1" from Seattle, who had traveled to Wuhan, was initially rejected for failing to meet the CDC's strict testing criteria, and turned out to be positive for the new coronavirus eventually. The nation's first case, No. 15, with an "unknown path of infection" in the United States, also failed to meet the CDC's screening threshold and had to wait for several days before being allowed to test, and confirmed positive. Helen's team couldn't wait. On Feb. 25, they took the plunge and decided to start testing for the coronavirus without government approval, but Washington State regulators urgently ordered her lab to stop testing. Helen's test confirmed their worst fears - that a local teenager with no recent travel history had been tested positive. This indicates the new coronavirus has taken root in the United States. In just a few weeks, the virus has killed more than 20 people in the Seattle area, making the city the worst hit by coronavirus in the United States. So far, there has been a severe shortage of nucleic acid testing kits in the United States for the coronavirus. The test can only be applied for people with severe symptoms, and many patients in urgent testing need couldn't be arranged in time, and these patients are treated as influenza. A 32-year-old Chinese medical assistant in New York who knew he had coronavirus but was being treated for the flu waited for a week for his desired medication, a report says. The entire NBA team has been suspended after three players were diagnosed with the coronavirus. A number of team owners have suggested testing on every player in the league for during the suspension, only to be told that the testing kits are not enough and it is impossible for the NBA to test every player, no matter rich or famous. Anthony Fauci, President

From... From A4

of March. And thereafter admonish the nations by then reeling under the uncontrolled contagion, to “test, test, test.” *** Zhong Nanshan, a noted Chinese specialist, said that “if preventive measures had been taken in December or January, the pandemic would be much smaller.” A University of Southampton (UK) study showed that if interventions had been conducted a week, two weeks, or three weeks earlier, cases “could have been reduced by 66 percent, 86 percent, and 95 percent, respectively, significantly limiting the geographical spread of the disease”. But there is little use crying over present realities because of past inaction. What matters now is what could be done; what should be done. And quickly. *** “I wish to reiterate that we do not have any confirmed case of the COVID-19 in the country as of the moment. But I need to mention this time and again, it’s perhaps not a question of if but rather a question of when. So that’s why we cannot afford to let our guards down despite the fact that we still don’t have local transmission, and in fact, all three cases have been clearly established to be imported ones,” Secretary Francisco Duque told report-

workers, testing kits (and the WHO tells us we must test, test, test), ventilators, sanitizers, ICU beds and alternative bed space (for hospitals that may quickly reach their limits to house the sick), etc., will need to be provided and quickly. Much of this will be challenging given the huge demand on global supply. Health facilities will need to be accessible and ideally testing and health services taken directly to poor communities. Innovative approaches to tracing and isolation in crowded slums areas will need to be implemented. Assignment of health workers needs to be calibrated to where the greatest numbers are likely to be. The President is calling for a special session to pass a supplemental budget to manage the crisis and contend with its (social) and economic impact. This stimulus is urgently required, as is an adjustment of existing programs. Spending the full budget allotment in any one year has been a problem, so a rapid review based on realistic projections of expenditure could be undertaken to realign savings to pro-poor interventions. This is now a matter of both the quantum and quality of expenditure. At all costs, we need to avoid the ethical dilemma of choosing whose life to save or care for. Income should certainly not be the defining factor. We are about to head into not only a health crisis but a humanitarian crisis. We need to act accordingly and leave no one behind. Mr. Mitra is Resident Representative of UNDP Philippines.

of the American Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said: "the US health care system is not meeting our needs. It's a huge failure, and we have to admit it." As of the morning of March 10, only 6,563 people in the United States had been tested for the coronavirus, according to the Huffington Post. Cortez, the youngest member of Congress, told Fox News on March 12 that it is difficult for the average American to get tested for a coronavirus, but it seems that the richer and more powerful you are, the more possible you can have it. If you're not rich, it's very difficult to get health care. According to USA Today on March 12, several US media outlets quoted a US congressional doctor as saying that a third of the US population is expected to be infected with the coronavirus. Since the end of February, the coronavirus outbreak in the United States has been growing faster and faster. A Chinese living America said that since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, he has often heard biased remarks from American friends, such as China's control of speech and cover-up of facts. However, China has made significant progress in controlling coronavirus, and has kept releasing public information on confirmed, suspected and fatal cases. On March 2, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stopped updating its real time data on new cases of coronavirus, netizens in the United States were infuriated. Although the government gave the reason that the local statistics were not accurate, so it was not necessary to report the outbreak in real time, many Americans still believed that the federal government was covering up the truth. US officials keep saying that ordinary people don't need to wear face masks, and it's true that most Americans don't wear face masks. But is it really they don't need the masks? How to explain about the driving force grabbing the masks and making the mask to the sky-high price? In fact, the shortage of masks in the United States is 99%, and most of the production is outside the country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if coronavirus were to become a pandemic in the United States, the total number of N95 masks needed would be 3.5 billion a year. (To be continued) Mr. Arriola is president and publisher of AseanTimes Magazine.

ers during the “Laging Handa” press briefing in Malacañang Palace. That was a month and a half ago. Now let me quote excerpts from an article published by the world-renowned California Institute of Technology on March 20, 2020, quoting Caltech trustee David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, Columbia University, an expert on viral epidemics. It is particularly useful now that the numbers being reported about the spread of the viral disease have risen exponentially. Q: “What are the tests we need to detect coronavirus infection?” A: “Everybody’s talking about testing that’s actually referring to PCR (polymerase chain reaction), looking for viral RNA to determine whether a person is infected. But there’s still no talk of antibody testing to determine which people have had it and are immune, and that is another crucial tool we need to combat the epidemic.” Q: “How long before the U.S. sees test availability similar to what South Korea has implemented?” A: “The PCR testing, which is the one that is approved…has a turn-around time of typically 72 hours (more in the Philippines, btw, with politically privileged persons interfering). In that period, it’s very, very hard to manage patients and their contacts. It’s a nightmare for health workers. “We need point of care tests. Those kinds of tests are available for HIV and many other diseases: you use a fin-

ger-stick, drop the blood on a small device, and have a read-out in 15 minutes. These tests measure antibody response to the virus and are extremely useful. “In China, South Korea and in Europe, those tests are used. The manufacturers for this rapid test are producing a million (test kits) a day. It’s there, but in the name of protecting the public, the FDA (U.S.) has moved very, very slowly. That delay, in my view, has caused more harm than good.” Q: “Can you elaborate on point-ofcare testing?” A: “It’s almost like a home pregnancy test … The test that I’m specifically referring to, coming out of China, South Korea and approved in Europe, is an antibody test. “You put a drop of blood on a plastic slide, add another drop of the buffer that comes with the test kit, and you let it sit for 15 minutes. Then you look at the bands. You’re negative if you have just one band, or you’re positive if you have more than one band. The test also tells you the type of antibody. “This kind of test is available all over the world for HIV. The technology is there, the tests are there. But they are not (US) FDA approved. While I think they are fairly close to getting approved, we have let several weeks go by and to me that’s tragic.” Postscript: It is now 10:11 a.m. as I end this article. The latest report states there are officially, now 552 positive for COVID-19.





BARMM readies more provisions to region’s poor

BAYANIHAN. Fishermen in Buguey, Cagayan join hands in preparing their respective fishing boats while it is low tide. The local government of this coastal town up north encourages enterprising fishermen to extend their helping hands as a demonstration of the bayanihan spirit. Ben Moses Ebreo

Navotas task force created vs. quarantine violators By Jun David MAYOR Toby Tiangco Monday signed an order forming a task force to ensure the smooth implementation of the enhanced community quarantine and keep Navoteños safe from the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Executive Order No. TMT-022 created Task Force Navotas Drive Against Makukulit, Pasaway o Tambay or NavoDAMPOT. Tiangco said the creation of Task Force NavoDAMPOT is necessary because “despite several reminders, residents, young and old alike, continue to violate the terms of the enhanced community quarantine, thereby risking not only themselves but those who they come in contact with.” The duties of Task Force NavoDAMPOT included ensuring that Navotas residents comply with the terms of the enhanced community quarantine, stay home at all times, except under instances allowed under the Home Quarantine Pass and those exempted by the Inter-Agency Task Force. Per Memorandum Order No. TMT 0158, holders of a Home Quarantine Pass may leave their house between 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. to buy food, medicines and other necessities. However, like other residents, they are also not allowed to loiter outside their homes. An IATF pass, on the other hand, allows persons involved in basic services, daily essentials, essential goods, utilities and others to be exempt from home quarantine. Task Force NavoDAMPOT personnel are given the authority to arrest all violators of the enhanced community quarantine and charge the violators under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code as amended according to the guidelines of the Philippine National Police. Adult violators face one to six months imprisonment, with penalty ranging from P2,000 to P100,000. Minors who will lviolate the quarantine rules will be turned over to their respective parents and guardians with a stern warning that they are subject to civil liability under the Child and Youth Welfare Code.

Isko warns erring funeral homes amid COVID-19 crisis

By Willie Casas


ANILA City Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso warned on Tuesday all funeral homes in Manila which refuse to accept or delay acceptance of remains or bodies coming from hospitals that he would have their business permits canceled. The mayor issued the warning to all funeral service companies in Manila after receiving complaints. "Sa lahat ng punerarya, ayokong may mauulit na insidente na may isang patay, habang nagdadalamhati ang pamilya nila dala ay siya n'yong aabusuhin ang kanilang kalugmukan. Huwag na huwag n'yong gagawin 'yan sa panahong ito," said Domagoso. "Nagnegosyo kayo, hanap-patay. May namatay, kunin n'yo. Bigyan n'yo ng maayos at disenteng serbisyo," he said.


Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) took home a handful of gold and silver medal awards recently during the 55th Anvil Awards Night held at the Manila Hotel. BPI was recognized for strategic communication and public relations campaigns anchored on innovation, financial education for overseas Filipinos, cybersecurity awareness, social enterprises, and employee education and professionalism. Photo shows BPI Corporate Affairs Head and BPI Foundation Executive Director Owen Cammayo, center, together with his team and the various BPI business units with their winning communications campaigns.

Munti orders groceries, supermarkets to limit store hours THE local government of Muntinlupa has ordered exempted business establishments during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine to limit their operating hours from 6 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in a bid to reduce movement of people andeffectively contain the spread of COVID-19 in the city. The Muntinlupa City Council passed Ordinance 2020-070 imposing limited

Carmona sets up DIY sanitation tents THE local government of Carmona Cavite produced a do-it-yourself improvised sanitation tents that could help in the sanitation of healthworkers, patients, and LGU employees before entering and leaving facilities such as hospitals or municipal hall. The design was provided by the UP Diliman-based volunteer group SaniTents PH. Disinfection sessions were also conducted at all checkpoints across Carmona as part of the preventive measures and mitigation efforts being implemented by the local government to keep the community coronavirus-

Domagoso added that owners of these funeral homes must not use the coronavirus disease as a reason for refusing to accept the bodies coming from the different hospitals. "Kung kayo ay may pangamba na sila ay PUI, alam n'yo din na may mga protocol na dapat sundin. Pinasok n'yo ang negosyo na 'yan, tupadin n'yo ang tungkulin n'yo.” The mayor also strongly warned all businessmen who continue to commit abuses amid the crisis.

"Hindi ko bibigyan ng puwang ang mga umaabuso at mapagsamantalang kumpanya sa panahon ngayon. You will regret this. As long as I am the Mayor of the City of Manila, you will never be allowed to do business here again. Hindi ko kayo papayagang makapaghanap-buhay sa Maynila," he said. Meanwhile, Domagoso has ordered a city-wide disinfecting operation on Tuesday morning. The city government used powerful hoses to spray disinfectants several feet into the air, with the mist reaching vehicles and some buildings on the side of the road. Fire trucks used in the operation were seen on streets such as Jose Abad Santos Avenue in Tondo, as well as in front of the Manila City Hall.

free. On Monday, March 23, simultaneous disinfection sessions were also held at all barangays in the municipality. More disinfection sessions are scheduled to be conducted on the succeeding days. The Carmona LGU continues to distribute disinfection machines to barangays in line with the preventive measures and mitigation efforts of the local government of Carmona against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Disinfection machines were distributed recently to Barangays 1 to 5. More disinfection sessions are scheduled to be conducted on the following days. Benjamin Chavez

operating hours for convenience stores, sari-sari stores, talipapa, and groceries. It shall also mandated the said establishments to implement social distancing during their operations as advised by the Department of Health and the Muntinlupa City Health Office. Violators shall be given a warning for the first offense and cancellation of business permit for the remainder of the


Frontliners in the fight against the COVID-19 received facemasks from PITC President and CEO Usec Dave Almarinez (left). The masks were turned over to all barangay chairmen in the First District of Laguna. Also in photo is Santa Rosa City Mayor Arlene Arcillas. Almarinzez expressed his gratitude to the frontliners as well as the support of Laguna1st District Board Member Abigail Alonte (left) in the ceremony held last March 20. Roy Tomandao

current year for succeeding offenses. Earlier, the Muntinlupa City Council also approved the anti-hoarding ordinance that restrict bulk-buying of basic commodities to discourage panic-buying among its residents. Mayor Jaime Fresnedi assured the public that there is no need for panic buying during the health emergency as there is enough supply of basic items.

COTABATO CITY—Next to preventive lockdown and community quarantine, local government units here have started reaching out to poor constituents running out of resources to secure home provisions amid the heightened Covid-19 alerts. Goods transported by the Bangsamoro Government had already arrived on Sunday for repacking and community distribution, according to lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, speaking in behalf of Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Hj. Murad Ibrahim, and as interior minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Sinarimbo added that a a large volume of BARMM community aid packages will be airlifted anytime via Philippine Air Force C-130 Carrier from Manila to Awang Airport in Maguindanao, “after reasonable guidelines in entering (Cotabato) City has been put in place by the security sector.” He said still queued for enplaning from Air Force facilities in Manila are BARMM “goods consisting of medical supplies, personal protective equipment and food stuff.” PPEs, Sinarimbo said, will be distributed, through BARMM's Ministry of Health under Dr. Zafrullah Dipatuan to frontline health and paramedics volunteers working for the region's LGUs. Sinarimbo added that initial distribution efforts have started, which will be followed by “a more coordinated operation for assistance to LGUs and constituents.” BARMM volunteers for its Rapid Emergency Assistance on Disaster Incidents (READi) unit worked overtime during the weekend, repacking truckloads of foods and other basic provisions for distribution to its needy constituents. Nash B. Maulana

Escudero wants stranded Sorsogon residents home SORSOGON Governor Francis ‘Chiz’ G. Escudero is sending a ‘sweeper team’ to fetch Sorsoganons who are currently stranded in other Bicol provinces. The ‘sweeper team’ is created under Executive Order 21- 2020 which states that ‘stranded persons in various ports and borders shall be assisted in whatever manner by the LGUs in order to ease their plight and situation in this difficult time.’ The team is composed of representatives from the local Philippine National Police, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. Governor Escudero received reports that there are around 60 Sorsoganons stranded at the border of Quezon and Camarines Norte provinces as well as in the province of Camarines Sur. Some of them had been in the boundary for two days without food. Escudero said that the stranded Sorsoganons would be temporarily housed in a designated quarantine facility located in Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon City before they are allowed to go back to their respective families. He added that as part of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) orders of the government, a medical team would also check on their health and they would also be provided with food and medicine. “We will not allow Sorsoganons to remain refugees and will help themget home,” Escudero said.

World IN BRIEF Accept repatriated migrants, US warns WASHINGTON―A senior official warned Monday that Washington will retaliate against countries that don’t accept repatriations of their citizens from the United States. The official, speaking anonymously but who is directly involved in US immigration policy, did not name the target or targets of the threat. But El Salvador appeared to be one, and possibly Guatemala. Both announced last week they would stop accepting flights from the United States carrying their expelled nationals. But since then Guatemala has reversed itself, and allowed three repatriation flights to land, including one on Monday carrying 85 people. “It is hard to imagine why nations would not take back their citizens quickly,” the official said in a call with journalists. “It is not an acceptable position to the government of the United States,” he said. The official said that lack of cooperation on repatriations would be remembered in Washington for some time, and that the administration of President Donald Trump would announce some actions later this week. AFP


Bodies found in retirement homes

ADRID ― Spanish soldiers deployed to help fight the new coronavirus outbreak have found elderly patients abandoned, and sometimes dead, at retirement homes, as an ice rink inside a Madrid shopping mall was turned into a temporary morgue to cope with a surge in cases.


The army has been charged with helping to disinfect retirement homes in Spain, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. Dozens of deaths

from COVID-19 have been recorded at facilities across the country. “We are going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way old people are treated in these residences,” Defence Minister Margarita Robles said in an interview with private television channel Telecinco. “The army, during certain visits, found some old people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds,” she added. An investigation has been launched, the general prosecutor announced. The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 2,182 on Monday after 462 people died within 24 hours, according to health ministry figures. Meanwhile, the ice rink at the Palacio

de Hielo, or Ice Palace, shopping centre in Madrid was turned into a temporary morgue to deal with a surge in deaths in the capital, a spokeswoman for Madrid city hall told AFP. Earlier, the city hall said the city’s 14 public cemeteries would stop accepting more bodies because staff there did not have adequate protective gear. The improvised morgue would start to be used “in the coming hours,” the regional government of Madrid said. “This is a temporary and exceptional measure which aims to mitigate the pain of the family members of the victims and the situation hospitals in Madrid are facing.” A nearby congress centre has been converted into a field hospital for coro-

Israel parties nix parliament re-open JERUSALEM―Israeli right-wing parties backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boycotted the re-opening of parliament Monday to protest what they called the “dictatorial” conduct of their centrist rivals. The dramatic move came after a year of political turmoil that saw three inconclusive elections, and as Netanyahu has imposed strict legal and security measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party accused the centrist Blue and White, led by ex-military chief Benny Gantz, of breaching standard practice in parliament, the Knesset, following March 2 elections. The row centred on whether Gantz would use his bloc’s slight majority of lawmakers to shape the composition of a powerful parliamentary committee. Noting the “severe health crisis”— with 1,442 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel—Likud accused Blue and White of “hate-driven, dictatorial and destructive conduct”. The election early this month saw the anti-Netanyahu parties claim a narrow lead of 62 seats. Right-wing and ultra-Orthodox factions that back the caretaker premier claimed 58. AFP


man walks on a deserted Rajpath leading to the Presidential Palace during a governmentimposed lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in New Delhi, India on March 24. AFP

navirus patients that will have a total of 5,500 beds. The elderly are especially vulnerable in the global pandemic and officials around the world are increasingly calling for extreme measures to safeguard them. Retirement homes are “an absolute priority for the government”, Health Minister Salvador Illa told a press conference. “We will exercise the most intensive monitoring of these centres.” Under coronavirus protocols, health workers have been instructed to leave bodies in place in suspected COVID-19 deaths until the arrival of a doctor. But given the upsurge in deaths the delay can be lengthy. AFP

Saudi Arabia dusk-to-dawn curfew over coronavirus

Hungary opposition stalls emergency bill BUDAPEST, Hungary | AFP | Monday 3/24/2020 - 05:01 UTC+8 | 383 words Hungary’s opposition refused Monday to let the government fast-track a bill through parliament which would give the executive sweeping new powers, including the right to extend the state of emergency declared to fight the coronavirus. The bill, proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing nationalist government, would enable the administration to indefinitely extend the state of emergency and its associated powers of rule by decree, removing the current requirement for MPs to approve any extension. It also sets out jail terms of up to five years for anyone spreading “fake news” about the virus or the measures against it. The bill will have to be voted on next week after opposition MPs blocked the use of an emergency mechanism that would have seen it come to a vote more quickly. The socialist MSZP party has said the proposed law would “expose Hungary and Hungarians to the whims of Viktor Orban indefinitely”. Human rights organisations have also sharply criticised the plans. AFP


CESAR BARRIOQUINTO, Editor mst.daydesk@gmail.com

PEEK OUTSIDE. A girl wearing a protective N95 mask sweeps outside her home in Gaza City on March 22. Authorities in Gaza on March 23 confirmed the first two cases of novel coronavirus, identifying them as Palestinians who had travelled to Pakistan and were being held in quarantine since their return. AFP

Sub-Saharan nations act to stem virus spread PRETORIA, South Africa― Numerous sub-Saharan countries acted to stem the spread of coronavirus on Monday, with South Africa announcing a soldier-patrolled lockdown and Senegal and Ivory Coast each declaring a state of emergency. The pandemic had been slow to spread in Africa compared to the Middle East and Europe, but in recent days the number of deaths and infections have increased, sparking concerns about the continent’s vulnerability to contagious diseases. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government had “decided to enforce a nationwide lockdown for 21 days” from midnight Thursday to “avoid a human catastrophe”. There have been more than 400 coronavirus cases in Africa’s most developed economy—the highest in sub-Saharan Africa—with the number multiplying six-fold in just eight days. Ramaphosa said the numbers could spiral given that South Africa has “a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of high HIV and TB and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.” “This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection,” he said. “Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase... to hundreds of thousands.” Ramaphosa said the army would pa-

trol the streets along with the police to ensure the ban is respected. ‘The situation is critical’ More African countries are expected to announce tough confinement measures after sealing their borders and closing public places. Senegal declared a state of emergency as well as a dusk-to-dawn curfew starting on Tuesday. “I say this to you with solemnity— the situation is critical. The speed of the progress of the disease requires us to raise the level of the response,” Senegalese President Macky Sall said late Monday, calling the pandemic a “true world war”. Fellow West African nation Ivory Coast ordered a similar curfew, as well as progressive confinements measures based on the geographic spread of the virus. In the centre of the continent, DR Congo locked down its second city Lubumbashi for 48 hours on Monday and deployed security forces. Streets were deserted and stores were closed, an AFP journalist said. The move came after two people with coronavirus arrived on Sunday on a flight from the capital Kinshasa. The DRC has recorded 30 cases of coronavirus since March 10, two of them fatalities. - Rising cases Africa hasn’t yet suffered the kind of terrifying rise in virus cases seen else-

where. The reason for this is unclear, but many African countries have used the precious time to impose travel restrictions, close schools and appeal for social distancing. However, those numbers are now rising significantly. According to a toll compiled by AFP, the number of known cases across the continent—including North Africa— stood at more than 1,600 on Monday, of which some 50 have been fatal. The first detected case south of the Sahara was announced in the Nigerian city of Lagos on February 28, and the first death was reported in the Sahel state of Burkina Faso last Wednesday. That was followed by fatalities in Gabon, the DRC and Mauritius. On Monday, three more countries were added to this list: Nigeria -- the most populous country in Africa -- as well as The Gambia in western Africa, and Zimbabwe in the south. All three deaths were of individuals who had arrived after making extensive trips abroad. Peril for Africa Ghana on Monday closed schools and universities and suspended public events, while in Burkina Faso a security source said the authorities “were thinking more and more about total confinement of the population for two or three weeks”. AFP

RIYADH―Streets in Riyadh were deserted Monday as Saudi Arabia implemented a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, the latest in a series of restrictions as infections soar. Police cars warned people over loudspeakers to stay off the streets after the 11-hour curfew went into effect at 7 pm (1600 GMT) following a royal order from King Salman. The curfew, which state media said will be imposed for 21 days, comes as Saudi Arabia declared 562 coronavirus infections— the highest in the Gulf. No deaths have been reported so far. The Saudi royal guard, an elite internal security force, said it was working with other security agencies to implement the curfew as it released images on Twitter of a convoy of military trucks driving through the streets at dusk. Bathed in amber light, Riyadh’s main thoroughfares and public highways —typically packed with cars—were largely empty, though Saudis posted on social media videos of some young men who tried to breach the curfew. The interior ministry has warned that transgressors will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,663) and could face jail for repeated breaches. Health sector employees as well as security and military officials will be exempt from the curfew restrictions, according to the royal order. King Salman warned on Thursday of a “more difficult” fight ahead against the virus, as the kingdom faces the double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices. Following Saudi Arabia’s calls last week for a “virtual” G20 summit, the French presidency on Monday said Paris and Beijing agreed on the need for emergency talks to coordinate an international response to the coronavirus crisis. Saudi Arabia, which currently presides over the group, said G20 finance Ministers and central bank governors met virtually on Monday to ramp up economic efforts to address the pandemic. The Arab world’s biggest economy has closed down cinemas, malls and restaurants, halted flights and suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage as it steps up efforts to contain the deadly virus. AFP

Pompeo slashes aid, meets Taliban to bridge feuding Afghan leaders DOHA, Qatar―US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday slashed aid to Afghanistan’s government after a mission to Kabul failed to bridge a divide between feuding leaders as he moved forward with the Taliban on a deal to pull troops. Pompeo made the surprise trip in hopes of reviving a landmark US accord with the Taliban to end America’s longest war and, stopping in Qatar on his way back, became the highest-ranking US official ever to meet the Islamist insurgents. In stark criticism of a government backed for nearly two decades by the United States, Pompeo voiced disappointment that President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah could not bridge their differences when he met them in Kabul. “Their failure has harmed US-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Af-

ghan, Americans and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country,” Pompeo said in a statement. Pompeo said that the United States was immediately reducing $1 billion in aid and would pull another $1 billion in 2021. He said the United States would consider further cuts, including withdrawing support at any future donor conference. Pompeo also assured that the United States would go ahead with its pullout of troops from Afghanistan, with a goal of removing all 13,000 by next year. Officials said Pompeo later met for an hour in Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base, which is also home to US forces, with three Taliban leaders including Mullah Baradar, a formerly imprisoned insurgent who has become their chief negotiator. AFP

Riera U. Mallari, Editor; Reuel Vidal, Assistant Editor






The Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame is put on display in the Olympic cauldron for the public outside Fukushima railway station, Fukushima Prefecture. The Olympic torch relay, due to begin on March 25 from a symbolic site in Fukushima, will proceed as scheduled but organizers said they would re-assess in the coming days given the “worsening” COVID-19 coronavirus situation. AFP

IOC urged to make fast decision as US backs reset TOKYO—The International Olympic Committee came under pressure to speed up its decision about postponing the Tokyo Games on Tuesday as athletes criticised the four-week deadline and the United States joined calls to delay the competition. After Canada and Australia withdrew their teams, with the world hunkering down for the coronavirus pandemic, the US Olympic committee said postponement was the best way forward. A growing group of national Olympic committees and sports bodies including World Athletics have called for the Games, set to start on July 24, to be pushed back, an outcome that now appears inevitable. IOC officials are studying a postponement, among other options, but still believe a decision would be “premature” four months from the scheduled start. They will make an announcement within four weeks. “My interpretation of the IOC’s communications is they don’t want to cancel, and they don’t think they can continue with the July 24 date,” senior IOC official Dick Pound told AFP. “So you’re looking at the ‘P’ word— postponement.” The US statement came after a survey of 1,780 US athletes found an overwhelming majority, 68 percent, backed postponement. The virus lockdown has shut down competition, including Olympic qualifiers, and made training not just difficult but also dangerous, as athletes risk contracting or spreading COVID-19. ‘Unacceptable, irresponsible’ Several countries have imposed strict stay-at-home orders and international travel has been drastically curtailed as worldwide deaths surge past 16,500 and confirmed cases surpass 378,000. “Our most important conclusion from this broad athlete response is that even if the current significant health concerns could be alleviated by late summer, the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can’t be overcome in a satisfactory manner,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said. USA Gymnastics also said it was “adding our voice to the chorus advocating for postponement”, after USA Swimming and USA Track and Field had already urged the US Olympic committee to press for a delay. AFP

Former Real Madrid president Sanz dies after contracting virus MADRID—Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz, who was hospitalized with coronavirus, died on Saturday at the age of 76, his son announced. Sanz was in charge of the Spanish giants from 1995-2000, overseeing two Champions League titles. “My father has just passed away. He did not deserve this ending and in this way,” tweeted his son, Lorenzo Sanz junior. “One of the best, bravest and hardest-working people I have ever Lorenzo Sanz seen. His family and Real Madrid were his passions.” Three days ago, Sanz Jr., a former professional basketball player, said that his father had been admitted to a Madrid hospital after suffering the symptoms of the coronavirus which has killed more than 1,320 people in Spain. Sanz claimed a place on the Real Madrid board in the mid-1980s, when the president was Ramon Mendoza. He replaced Mendoza as president in 1995. With Jupp Heynckes as coach and star players such as Davor Suker, Roberto Carlos, Clarence Seedorf, Fernando Hierro and Raul, Real won the Champions League in 1998 by beating Juventus in the final. It was their seventh European Cup but first in 32 years. Two years later, in Paris, Real claimed an eighth by beating Valencia in the final. However, that same year, Sanz was ousted as president by Florentino Perez, who opened a new era at the club, adding five more Champions Leagues in two decades. AFP

POC: Olympic postponement favorable to Filipino athletes By Peter Atencio


HE looming postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to another year is favorable to Filipino athletes. Philippine Olympic Committee president and Tagaytay Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said this after learning that the International Olympic Committee is considering a move to reschedule the Games to 2021. Because of this, the IOC has given itself a deadline of four weeks to make a decision. “It’s better to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics rather than cancel, so as not to lose our (Philippines’) chance for our first gold medal—or even more golds,” said Tolentino. Plans to delay the holding of the Olympics were put forward after the IOC executive board met last Sunday in the face of mounting pressure from athletes and national Olympic committees for the Games

to be put off because of the July 24, 2020 coronavirus crisis. “I favor a postpone“(If the Games are ment because the health postponed) More Filipiand safety of everyone nos have more chance to in sports—both in the qualify,” added Tolentino. Philippines and all over So far, only four Filipino the world—is paramount athletes have earned Olymin this Covid-19 panpic qualification slots. demic,” said Tolentino. They are gymnast The IOC is also conCarlos Yulo, pole vaulter sidering a “scaled-down” Ernest John Obiena, and Games and has no plans boxers Eumir Marcial and to cancel it. Irish Magno. The Games could be Tolentino believes that a POC president Rep. Abraham shelved by either several deferral in the scheduling ‘Bambo’ Tolentino months or even a whole year. would mean more time to The new direction train for those who have already qualified taken by the IOC came five days after it and those who are still trying to qualify. said that it was “fully committed” to the “A 2021 schedule is ideal enough,” Tokyo 2020 Games. said Tolentino. So far, Canada and Australia have In a statement, the IOC executive made announcements that they will not board explained that it has initiated the be sending athletes to the Tokyo Olymnext step in the IOC’s scenario-planning. pics in the summer of 2020. And the scenarios involving the Games The two countries made their decisions are related to the modification existing known after the pandemic has forced the operational plans. postponement and cancellation of nuThe Games are supposed to start on merous sporting events all over the world.

Team Lakay stars take workouts at home TEAM Lakay stars are taking their workout routines home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom over the Philippines. Over the weekend, head coach Mark Sangiao announced that the central gym and training center of the team will closed until the pandemic is contained. For the meantime, he advised his ath-

letes to stay at home and continue their personal routine while following the community quarantine guidelines. “Each of us has our own fight and has our own corner to battle for, but this time, Team Lakay is one with combating COVID-19. This is a herculean match that we can never prevail from without our gross cooperation and discipline,” Sangiao said.

Members of Team Lakay

“Our Team Lakay warriors, nonetheless, will train in closed doors as our pursuit to hold our flag high in combat is constantly calling.” The team has no other choice but to adjust, and in the case of these warriors, the show must go on. “Right now, we’re in home quarantine because it’s dangerous to go out, so all workouts to stay in shape are done at home,” former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon said. “I do exercises and several drills at home, so I remain healthy and in shape, so if ONE comes calling for a match, I am ready to go.” Reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio and former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang have also taken their respective training sessions home. From doing squats with 10 gallons of water on his shoulders to converted pushups, Pacio has certainly taken this workout-from-home seriously. Folayang, likewise, started sharing tips on how to stay fit on his Facebook page. “Let’s do more with less. Training in isolation is no problem as long as we progress,” Folayang said.

Schools, student athletes join fight vs coronavirus SCHOOLS, students and athletes are doing their share to help both the needy and the frontliners deal with the ongoing quarantine measures in the fight to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. For one, De La Salle University’s Razon Sports Complex has been turned into a haven for the homeless. The complex is the training facility of the La Salle Green Archers men’s basketball team and has also hosted numerous events of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. School officials have also opened the covered courts of College of Saint Benilde to the indigent folks, while quarantine protocols are being enforced in Luzon. The facilities were made available after the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center (AJ Kalinga) ran out of space. “The AJ Kalinga Center is serving the homeless regularly. Their main ministry is providing food and free showers for the homeless. But now that we are on quarantine, they are looking for shelters for them. They worked with several schools to give them a safe space during the community quarantine,” said La Salle’s Vice President for Lasallian Mission Fritzie De Vera in a statement. Since Monday, the school has accommodated 79 guests inside Razon Sports Complex, while 80 are in the covered courts of CSB. The school has also tapped St. Scholastica College in Manila to house more homeless folks. De Vera said volunteers from AJ Kalinga are now handling the guests on all sites. And to provide for the daily needs of the guests and the volunteers, the school is asking for donations either in kind or in cash. On the other hand, members of the multi-titled Adamson University women’s softball team have volunteered in packing goods needed by frontliners and residents in Metro Manila that are in lockdown. Meanwhile, members of the Lady Falcons found time to do volunteer work after many were left stranded in the dormitories of the school. They decided to band together and help packing goods that will be distributed in various parts of Manila. Peter Atencio

Re-organizing Olympics a Herculean task LONDON—Thomas Bach and the IOC should not be criticized for procrastination over the Tokyo Olympics as re-organizing them is “mind-bogglingly complex”, the movement’s former head of marketing Michael Payne told AFP. Payne, who in nearly two decades at the International Olympic Committee was widely credited with transforming its brand and finances through sponsorship, said Monday the IOC could have unilaterally cancelled the Games because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Payne believes that was never an option given Bach’s experience as a sportsman of missing out on the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to the boycott by Western nations in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Payne said behind the scenes the IOC have been moving towards a postponement for a while. “It is mind-bogglingly complex to make a sudden change after seven years of preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world,” he told AFP in a phone interview.

“The IOC have been with increasing urgency looking to fall back on Plan B. The IOC remit allows them legally to cancel the Games unilaterally. “Cancelling the Games though is not an option so to postpone the Games, you have to have your delivery partner (Japan) on board.” Payne said Japan would take its time to decide as until recently the local organisers had been enthusiastic about maintaining the Games in their scheduled slot. “The Japanese have been holding out in

the hope it might still be possible to hold the Games in July,” he said. “The cost to the Japanese of postponing them is loss of face and political capital to (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe as this is very much his project. “In the last few days Japan have been very up for them to go ahead but the problem is the rest of the world cannot get there.” Summer 2021 ‘only option’ Payne said the Japanese reluctance to contemplate postponement has left Bach with “one arm tied behind his back.” AFP

IN BRIEF Social Housing bares payment moratorium SOCIAL Housing Finance Corp., the lead government agency tasked to implement socialized housing for low-income earners, announced Tuesday a threemonth moratorium on the payment of loan amortization of its partner-homeowners from March 16, 2020 to June 16, 2020. The moratorium is SHFC’s answer to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to exhaust all efforts to respond to the needs of Filipinos amid the threat of COVID-19 in the country. The agency said it will not charge penalties on accounts whose due dates fall within the period. The loan reprieve followed the advisory released by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon region under enhanced community quarantine. SHFC is one of the key shelter agencies under DHSUD. Partner-homeowners who want to pay their loan amortization on time can do so in select branches of Land Bank of the Philippines across the nation.

Melco Resorts donates food packs worth P50m

MELCO Resorts (Philippines) Foundation Corporation (MRP Foundation), the charitable arm of City of Dreams Manila’s developer, Melco Resorts and Entertainment (Philippines) Corp., is donating P50 million worth of food packs for the government’s food relief efforts during the Enhanced Community Quarantine across Luzon. The foundation is giving the donation in coordination with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. “We are heeding the call to lend a helping hand in mitigating the economic situation of those most in need during this temporary COVID-19 crisis. Hand in hand through the spirit of bayanihan, we’re one with the government and other private sectors as we do our part in combatting this pandemic,” said City of Dreams Manila chief operating officer Kevin Benning said on behalf of MRP Foundation. He thanked PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo for the swift approval of the release of the funds. The donation consists of 125,000 food packs, each containing rice, canned goods, noodles and water to help vulnerable families tide over the challenges during the period of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Business BSP trims banks’ reserve requirement by 200 points By Julito G. Rada


he Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, said Tuesday it reduced the reserve requirement ratio of universal and commercial banks by 200 basis points to 12 percent from 14 percent to unleash more liquidity in the market amid the onslaught of coronavirus disease 2019.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a text message the 200-bps cut in RRR “translates into P180 billion to P200 billion” freed up to the financial system. The board said the reduction was decided in a special meeting on Monday night. The 200-bps cut was a part of the 400-bps cut allowed for 2020. “In a special Monetary Board meeting, the MB authorized Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Dio-

kno to reduce the reserve requirement ratios of BSP-supervised financial institutions of up to a maximum of 400 bps for 2020,” the board said. It said to properly calibrate the RRR reduction, the board also authorized Diokno to determine the timing, extent and coverage of the reduction in the RRR, taking into consideration the impact of COVID-19 on domestic liquidity. “The authority given to the gover-

nor to adjust the RRR allows the BSP flexibility to promptly address any possible liquidity strain in the industry,” the board said in a statement. “Pursuant to this authority, BSP Governor Diokno announced a 200-bps reduction in the RR ratio of reservable liabilities of universal and commercial banks effective March 30,2020,” the board said. It said the potential cuts on the RRR for other banks and non-bank financial institutions would also be explored. The BSP will then issue guidelines on these operational adjustments. “The RRR cut is intended to calm the markets and to encourage banks to continue lending to both retail and corporate sectors,” it said. It said the move would ensure sufficient domestic liquidity in support of economic activity amid the global pandemic.

Smart offers bonus data to subscribers

SMART Communications Inc. rolled out bonus data for all Smart postpaid subscribers as part of efforts to provide customers with means to stay connected and productive amid the COVID-19 situation. Depending on their plan, active Smart postpaid customers will be automatically credited with a one-time bonus data ranging from 2.5GB to as much as 60GB, valid for 30 days. Smart’s one-time bonus data for postpaid customers builds on many other efforts by the PLDT Group to provide connectivity and convenience to customers during these difficult times. Earlier, PLDT and Smart announced a 30-day payment extension period for all postpaid customers. To serve prepaid customers, Smart also announced a special 30-day eLoad discount via the Smart Online Store at www.store.smart.com.ph/eload. Discounts ranging from 5 percent for P200 and P300 eLoads to 10 percent discount for P1000 eLoad are available from March 17 until April 14. Darwin G. Amojelar

P12-B CASH DIVIDEND. State-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. releases P12 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 in the country. The amount is P5.67 billion higher than the P6.33-billion dividends the agency is required to remit based on its 2019 financial report. PAGCOR’s Fund Management Department senior manager May Pineda (right) turns over the check to Bureau of Treasury officer-in-charge director Eduardo Anthony Marino (third from left). With them are (from left) Treasury operations officer I Rebecca Gan and collecting officer Purita Belgica.

Business groups back special law to prevent spread of COVID-19 MAJOR business groups on Tuesday welcomed the passage by the House of Representatives of the “Bayanihan Act of 2020” and its counterpart bill in the Senate known as “We Heal as One Act” that are specially designed to help the country aggressively combat the COVID-19 pandemic. “We express support for the immediate passage of the law,” the groups said in a joint statement. Among the groups that signed the joint statement of support for the special law are the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, People Management Association of the

Philippines, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc., Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. and different foreign chambers of commerce. “We commit ourselves to continue working with the government to fight COVID-19 with the assets and facilities at our disposal and, with proper consideration for their safety, with our manpower, starting from our managers. We commit to continue to support the health workers and medical establishments at the frontline of the war,” they said.

The organizations said that any law passed by Congress should be consistent with constitutional and legal principles, and not be overly broad and over-reaching. It said the realignment and reallocation of government and GOCC funds should consider the constitutional guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, and take-over of private enterprises in order to avoid constitutional challenges that would delay its implementation. The groups suggested that the government limit the duration of the law to two months and any extension should be by an act of Congress.

They proposed that Congress authorize the president or his designees to grant special permits and exemptions from bureaucratic requirements under existing laws and regulations as may be reasonably necessary to avoid delay in the deployment or utilization of the funds and procurement of needed requirements. The groups said the law contain provisions authoring the president to adopt measures as may be reasonably necessary to facilitate and/or minimize disruption to the supply chain, especially for basic commodities and services to the maximum extent possible;

Gov’t to keep budget for ‘Build, Build, Build’ FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the implementation of infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program will not be affected despite the government’s reallocation of budgets to contain the onslaught of coronavirus disease 2019. Dominguez in a statement Tuesday assured the level of spending under the P4.1-trillion national budget would remain. “We are not reducing the expenditure level of the 2020 budget,” Dominguez said. The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation will receive significantly higher allotments under the 2020 budget to accelerate the infrastructure program, taking P581.7 billion (25 percent growth) and P100.6 billion (45 percent growth), respectively. Of these amounts, the DPWH will use P203.8 billion for its Network Development Program, Asset Preservation Program and Bridge Program, while the DOTr will use P63.5 billion to develop the country’s rail, air, and sea transportation infrastructure.

The government said these programs would enhance the state of physical infrastructure to facilitate the flow of goods, services and people in all areas of the country. The “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program is the centerpiece of the Duterte administration to spur economic growth especially in the countryside. The program aims to build more roads, bridges, airports, seaports, highways, irrigation and water projects across the country. Also included in the program is the construction of a subway in Metro Manila that is seen to decongest the metropolis of heavy traffic. The Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee held a meeting early this month to discuss the progress of ICC- and NEDA Board-approved projects and the status of pipeline projects. The committee said that of the 100 projects under the infrastructure flagship program, 46 are undergoing implementation, up from last year’s figure of 32 projects. Julito G. Rada

BUSES FOR FRONTLINERS. Megaworld Corp. is deploying Citylink buses to provide free daily transport to healthcare personnel to and from various hospitals in Metro Manila. The buses, in coordination with the Department of Transporta, will bring healthcare workers to and from Pasig City General Hospital and Makati Medical Center effective March 23 until April 12, 2020. The daily routes will be operational from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ray S. Eñano, Editor Roderick T. dela Cruz, Assistant Editor business@manilastandard.net extrastory2000@gmail.com WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020


Fitch assigns lower outlook on PH banks By Julito G. Rada FITCH Ratings on Tuesday revised its outlook on the Philippines’ banking sector for 2020 to negative from stable, saying the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 will test the lenders’ asset quality and earnings. Fitch said in a report the revision was done in the face of rising asset-quality risks amid a deteriorating operating environment as a result of the global coronavirus outbreak. “We also see pressure on revenue from declining interest rates and the resulting economic slowdown, as enhanced community quarantine on Luzon Island—which accounted for more than 70 percent of the nation’s output—dents business operations,” Fitch said. “We expect pressure on net interest margins from the 50bp policy cut by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on March 19, 2020, adding to the 25bp in February and 75bp in 2019,” Fitch said. It said more cuts were likely in the next few months, although further reductions in the reserve requirement would offset the compression in yields to some degree. The BSP reduced the RR ratio by 200 bps to 12 percent on Tuesday. “Lower revenue, in conjunction with slower credit growth, will weigh on banks’ profitability this year,” Fitch said. It said the BSP, like many regulators in the region, was extending regulatory relief for banks with exposure to borrowers affected by COVID-19. Once approved by the central bank, banks are allowed to stagger provisions for the said exposures by up to five years, and exclude these loans from being classified as past due within the prescribed time if restructured. The BSP also eased some reporting and single-borrower limit requirements temporarily and the penalty for banks with reserve deficiencies. Fitch said such reliefs highlighted the authorities’ supportive stance to the banking system. “In particular, the relaxation in provisioning requirement could considerably alleviate any rise in near-term reported credit costs,” it said. “Notwithstanding such measures, the weaker operating environment is still likely to exert pressure on loan quality, especially as the quality of recent rapid credit growth has not been tested over the course of an economic cycle. Banks with higher exposures to SMEs are more vulnerable to deterioration in asset quality,” it said.

Electricity prices at the spot market drop almost 40% By Alena Mae S. Flores THE average prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market plunged by almost 40 percent in the first week of the 30-day enhanced community quarantine as power demand fell 21 percent, according to the market operator. The Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, operator of the WESM which serves as the country’s trading floor of electricity, said the actual average prices dropped to P1.64 per kilowatt-hour in the first week of the ECQ (March 15 to 21) from P2.71 per kWh in the week of March 8 to 14. IEMOP said that from March 15 to 21, the actual WESM average price of P1.64 per kWh was also significantly lower than the forecasted average price of P3.44 per kWh. “This represents a 52.5 percent reduction in average price for the week,” IEMOP said. It said that in the week of March 8 to 14, WESM average market price already showed a decline to P2.71 per kWh from the forecasted average price of P3.85 per kWh, representing a reduction of 29.5 percent amid the ample supply margin as a result of the reduced demand. IEMOP said the actual average supply was “generally sufficient,” increasing by 2,084 megawatts from March 15 to 21 as the gap between supply and demand increased. “Actual supply is generally higher than the forecasted supply since several generators supposedly on outage are available during the period,” it said. IEMOP said that with the implementation of ECQ in Luzon, the demand from March 15 to 21 fell to an average of 7,252 MW from the forecasted 8,916 MW, representing an 18.7-percent (1,664 MW) reduction on the average.



WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020 extrastory2000@gmail.com

Market climbs; Ayala issues rise T

HE stock market rose slightly in cautious trading Tuesday after the Federal Reserve unveiled an unprecedented bond-buying program to support the US economy. The Philippine Stock Exchange added 30.90 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,774.27 on a value turnover of P5.1 billion. Gainers beat losers, 114 to 68, with 31 issues unchanged. Conglomerate Ayala Corp. advanced 5.9 percent to P439.60, while property unit Ayala Land Inc. climbed 5.8 percent to P29.10. Megaworld Corp., the biggest lessor of office spaces, rose 5.3 percent to P1.99, but Universal Robina Corp., the largest maker of snack foods, fell 8 percent to P95.05.

Meanwhile, the rest of Asian markets and crude prices surged while the dollar sank Tuesday. While most of the planet goes into lockdown, traders gave a massive thumbs up to the US central bank’s pledge to essentially print cash in a move not seen since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. The Fed, which has already slashed interest rates to record lows, said it will buy unlimited amounts of Treasury debt and take steps to lend directly to smalland medium-sized firms hammered by restrictions across the country. The plan failed to inspire US traders, with all three main indexes on Wall Street sliding, but equities in Asia rallied with Tokyo ending more than seven percent higher. The Nikkei was given extra lift by a Bank of Japan decision to embark on its own massive bond-buying scheme. Seoul was up more than eight percent,

Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore and Taipei each rose more than four percent, and Wellington lifted more than seven percent. Shanghai and Mumbai added two percent, Bangkok more than one percent, though Jakarta fell almost one percent. AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes called the Fed’s move “the most significant monetary experiment in the history of financial markets”. “Asian investors like what they see from an all-in Fed, which is being viewed in a very impressive light for both Main and Wall Street, even as the US congress dithers,” he added. Edward Moya at OANDA said it was “a game changer.” But Innes pointed out that US senators remain gridlocked, with Democrats on Monday again blocking a nearly $2 trillion rescue package for the economy. “The US senate should be drawing on the experience of its failure to act fast in the 2008 crisis,” he said.

“Instead, it has yet again failed to act responsibly in the 2020 crisis. The proposed economic stimulus package is massive, but the longer the delay, the more colossal it will need to be to appease the markets.” And CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the failure to get the bill through Congress “is sowing concern that US politicians simply don’t get it when it comes to the people they claim to represent.” With an expected flood of dollars into financial markets, the greenback suffered a rare sell-off, having surged for the past few weeks. It lost almost four percent against the Australian dollar, three percent against the New Zealand dollar and more than one percent to the South Korean won, Russian ruble and Turkish lira. It was also lower against its major peers, with the euro up more than one percent. With AFP

Manila Standard BuSineSS daily StockS review tueSday, March 24, 2020



FINANCIALS 43 9,800 52 3,765,650 94 4,379,350 20.75 163,600 7.09 107,700 3.2 2,000 0.91 4,000 690 30 0.28 660,000 35.3 5,947,200 0.68 32,000 18.54 2,413,200 150.1 7,170 16.5 100 103.6 457,080 1,350 60 52.25 10,000 0.98 1,000

399,365 198,377,027.50 411,011,062.50 3,313,580 766,857 6,400 3,640 21,300 184,850 217,254,675 19,560 44,742,660 1,097,446 1,650 47,322,517 81,400 522,592.50 980

-145,315 -54,909,312 -125,443,333 -788,635 -328,090 -112,000 -65,121,885.00 -39,632,614 873,090 -26,100,386 1,040 -

23.45 1.53 5.66 0.9 1.89 0.138 0.96 10.5 3.85 45 2.6 4.12 6.68 5.45 6.5 1.84 14.74 44 1.01 27 0.65 10.32 3.33 0.91 95 3.24 8.54 4.3 6.31 206 0.102 4.94 1.34 2.73 2.04 9.1 17.8 4.3 1.23 1.38 0.6 4.71 46.6 7.01 0.66 95.05 0.73 0.52

INDUSTRIAL 23.45 1,342,200 1.53 2,714,000 6.24 320,500 0.9 10,000 1.93 586,000 0.169 1,320,000 0.99 10,874,000 10.62 1,060,000 4.1 632,000 50 120 2.6 1,000 4.42 6,909,000 6.68 1,685,400 5.5 22,600 7.18 11,658,500 1.86 1,734,000 15.32 3,248,300 44.6 30,100 1.07 8,604,000 30 6,400 0.68 206,000 12.3 1,100 3.6 473,000 0.98 210,000 95 1,597,120 3.24 1,000 8.8 1,619,200 4.75 272,000 6.31 370,800 208 483,810 0.145 470,000 4.94 2,000 1.34 53,000 3 12,000 2.05 5,509,000 9.5 5,300 18 210,200 4.69 16,000 1.35 814,000 1.38 1,000 0.67 154,000 4.71 1,003,700 48 848,100 7.22 79,200 0.66 103,000 95.05 1,388,340 0.76 507,000 0.54 69,000

32,094,050 4,218,540 1,997,247 9,000 1,140,880 190,640 10,736,660 11,211,528 2,619,390 7,100 2,600 31,036,720 11,291,460 124,070 81,623,708 3,267,540 49,594,814 1,347,625 9,167,780 190,460 137,440 13,332 1,685,910 197,770 155,368,275 3,240 14,189,894 1,261,930 2,369,975 101,512,252 48,860 9,880 71,520 34,120 11,412,350 50,310 3,794,886 69,190 1,047,660 1,380 102,530 4,869,446 40,427,240 561,655 70,800 138,649,740 382,260 37,350

-15,638,810 -864,260 43,768 -386,140 2,438,270 -1,320,000 114,040 -2,600 -12,171,900 -1,134,995 -97,350 -80,614,539 14,069,946 -950,285 -214,740 -80,800 -3,380 146,600 -68,066,313.50 -1,953,148 274,190 -1,794,952 -34,175,174 -67,500 -9,468,790 -2,835,128 -2,398,205 24,985,340 722 2,800 -63,572,442.50 -

0.46 31.4 6.3 0.54 6.26 5.9 0.53 444.8 1.55 4.43 3.46 7 418 3.6 47.9 0.4 2.85 6.41 2.42 3.5 87.9 765 0.67 0.81 152 0.187 0.13

0.44 29.5 5.95 0.5 6.1 5.16 0.5 421.2 1.45 4.28 3.3 6.6 389 3.6 43.05 0.37 2.81 6.05 2.31 2.7 83.2 730 0.61 0.81 151.9 0.17 0.121

HOLDING FIRMS 0.46 470,000 29.5 1,419,800 6.14 2,966,100 0.52 220,000 6.25 11,800 5.9 12,700 0.5 36,000 439.6 682,540 1.55 262,000 4.35 2,759,000 3.4 8,409,000 6.72 12,300 389 113,850 3.6 10,000 45.7 2,218,200 0.4 100,000 2.83 98,000 6.2 2,422,800 2.33 57,216,000 2.7 24,000 86.4 259,550 747.5 390,880 0.66 48,000 0.81 10,000 152 160 0.17 90,000 0.13 100,000

215,600 42,691,165 18,053,711 116,210 73,336 70,060 18,050 297,505,094 391,410 12,001,260 28,670,690 84,152 45,377,730 36,000 101,093,105 38,150 277,360 14,939,805 134,532,020 71,500 22,232,138 292,712,395 30,770 8,100 24,312 15,470 12,910

78,200 -27,523,530 -4,374,782 9,365 -28,007,060 -1,720,490 -5,746,970 44,180 -24,297,056 -36,000 -9,764,450 132,960 -3,219,699 -49,959,600 3,095,185 -42,768,925 -

13.24 0.52 1.2 0.59 30.65 1.22 3.89 5.8 0.34 0.68 0.73 0.12 7.24 16.34 0.32 0.1 0.81 0.66 2.12 0.125 0.66 13 1.6 2.8 26.85 2.16

12.8 0.475 1.04 0.5 27.6 1.17 3.61 5.8 0.335 0.68 0.73 0.115 7 16.1 0.315 0.1 0.78 0.66 1.97 0.122 0.6 12.02 1.5 2.7 25.1 1.83

15,991,932 694,850 123,240 169,690 643,225,945 260,250 3,207,340 580 1,455,000 17,680 730 72,650 3,010,219 3,309,890 34,700 5,000 9,205,840 200,640 190,358,350 354,610 361,640 24,420,734 148,900 265,000 521,934,200 107,850

-1,554,440 -24,895,955 114,080 142,810 648,681 -121,520 -6,203,350 -13,480,430 1,240 -10,992,946 -1,500 -156,157,170 -







43.5 52.1 94.7 22.8 7.28 3.2 0.91 750 0.285 36.55 0.57 20.8 149.5 16.5 108 1,360 52.95 0.98

43.5 54 96 22.8 7.28 3.2 0.91 750 0.285 37.95 0.68 20.9 164 16.5 108 1,360 52.95 0.98

40 51.55 92.35 20 7.05 3.2 0.91 690 0.28 35.3 0.57 18.5 149.5 16.5 102 1,350 52 0.98


24.95 1.56 6.29 0.9 1.93 0.165 0.97 10.8 3.95 61.5 2.6 4.12 6.7 5.6 6.5 1.92 15 47 1.03 29.95 0.65 10.32 3.54 0.91 98.95 3.24 8.54 4.48 6.33 214 0.105 4.94 1.35 2.73 2.04 9.5 18.5 4.3 1.27 1.38 0.63 5.5 47.3 7.01 0.72 106 0.73 0.52

25 1.58 6.29 0.9 1.98 0.169 1.01 10.8 4.26 61.5 2.6 4.7 6.71 5.6 7.2 1.95 15.38 47 1.09 30 0.7 12.3 3.7 0.98 99.85 3.24 9 4.75 6.5 214 0.145 4.94 1.35 3.01 2.12 9.5 18.5 4.69 1.37 1.38 0.7 5.5 48.5 7.23 0.72 108 0.76 0.55


0.44 31 6.01 0.54 6.18 5.16 0.52 431 1.5 4.29 3.4 6.6 400.2 3.6 45 0.38 2.85 6.4 2.41 3.5 84.8 760 0.61 0.81 151.9 0.17 0.13


13 0.49 1.04 0.5 27.6 1.18 3.68 5.8 0.335 0.68 0.73 0.115 7 16.1 0.315 0.1 0.81 0.66 2 0.124 0.6 12.5 1.5 2.7 25.4 1.83










0.92 3.07 3.29

0.99 3.28 3.3

0.91 3.02 3.04

0.98 3.2 3.2

738,000 2,634,000 134,000

692,030 8,384,270 424,690

-13,950 -4,090,410 -


6 15.58 1.25 4.5 0.28 0.032 2.08 4.31 0.028 38 2 2.83 4.75 1,840 4.5 334 0.58 68.5 0.07 1.12 11.96 1.29 4.75 0.315 2 1.23 1.3 1.38 1.2 1.6 6 4.3 126 1.3 932 0.26 0.18 31.1 49 0.9 0.4 0.134 0.38 12.5

6.05 16.18 1.25 4.8 0.28 0.039 2.08 4.55 0.028 38.95 2.07 2.83 4.8 1,890 4.69 340 0.66 71 0.07 1.21 11.96 1.29 4.75 0.325 2 1.23 1.42 1.59 1.25 1.6 6.3 4.3 130 1.33 933 0.275 0.18 31.75 49.95 0.98 0.4 0.153 0.38 12.98

5.5 15.5 1.25 4.5 0.27 0.032 2.07 4.31 0.025 36 1.98 2.82 4.25 1,760 4.5 330 0.57 66.05 0.058 1.12 11.86 1.27 4.4 0.315 2 1.15 1.3 1.32 1.15 1.6 5.6 3.25 125 1.27 900 0.26 0.176 30.65 48 0.9 0.4 0.134 0.36 12.48

SERVICES 5.85 15.8 1.25 4.5 0.27 0.039 2.07 4.47 0.025 36.1 2.06 2.82 4.25 1,816 4.69 330 0.64 66.05 0.063 1.19 11.86 1.29 4.61 0.325 2 1.2 1.36 1.49 1.18 1.6 6.1 4 129 1.31 921 0.26 0.178 31 49 0.95 0.4 0.152 0.36 12.7

119,500 152,800 4,000 826,000 5,640,000 500,000 5,000 6,241,000 2,100,000 267,100 460,000 40,000 14,000 64,945 51,000 170 488,000 2,951,080 2,360,000 13,979,000 1,700 165,000 467,000 60,000 30,000 401,000 2,116,000 62,000 1,294,000 6,000 16,400 42,000 737,970 383,000 125,120 13,700,000 1,690,000 2,007,000 294,100 1,837,000 870,000 990,000 140,000 3,967,500

713,065 2,419,182 5,000 3,765,210 1,556,600 18,100 10,360 27,881,670 54,000 10,030,815 941,860 112,810 64,050 119,714,685 237,400 56,916 303,360 200,883,892.50 141,000 16,483,770 20,246 210,970 2,147,690 19,100 60,000 475,000 2,874,420 89,070 1,529,890 9,600 97,490 146,810 95,146,521 497,220 115,499,905 3,576,600 302,990 62,246,595 14,328,385 1,741,920 348,000 148,070 51,700 50,348,152

-323,795 -1,545,280.00 -1,481,000 -13,477,470 -6,186,890 0 31,020 -62,368,900 -41,580 -49,822,007 -7,560 161,770 -434,760 74,430 72,710 -43,920 -142,690 -5,518,910 -2,878,550 -14,494,360 -2,330,370 21,470 -188,000 -3,464,550


0.001 4.7 0.58 10.4 2.47 0.245 6 0.475 0.176 0.07 0.059 0.006 0.0049 0.56 1.49 0.76 0.51 0.0082 0.0083 0.0068 1.95 3.7 10.6 0.0042

0.001 4.8 0.66 10.4 2.48 0.245 6 0.52 0.178 0.07 0.066 0.0061 0.0049 0.56 1.5 0.87 0.51 0.0082 0.0093 0.0068 1.99 3.75 10.8 0.0042

0.001 4.6 0.58 10.1 2.47 0.24 5.75 0.475 0.175 0.061 0.059 0.006 0.0049 0.5 1.4 0.76 0.43 0.0082 0.0083 0.0066 1.95 3.5 10.2 0.0042

MINING AND OIL 0.001 64,000,000 4.7 66,400 0.65 1,358,000 10.4 8,400 2.48 90,000 0.24 60,000 6 2,400 0.51 2,880,000 0.178 160,000 0.067 1,430,000 0.066 210,000 0.0061 11,000,000 0.0049 4,000,000 0.53 181,000 1.46 5,000,000 0.86 17,609,000 0.43 110,000 0.0082 1,000,000 0.0093 6,000,000 0.0068 25,000,000 1.99 129,000 3.7 833,000 10.62 974,000 0.0042 4,000,000

64,000 313,294 856,340 87,060 222,800 14,600 14,137 1,438,050 28,140 91,260 13,060 66,600 19,600 96,400 7,294,830 15,134,860 51,250 8,200 52,800 167,300 255,510 3,042,860 10,381,902 16,800

222,800 -404,250 1,300 -1,540,220 15,050,000 -61,490 -103,940 -5,659,834 -


13.3 496 100.2 96.1 98 498 904.5 98.5 1,044 1,006 1,004 99 990 75.2 75 74.6 74.25 75.1

14 497 100.2 96.1 98 498 904.5 99.9 1,044 1,006 1,006 99 990 75.55 75 74.9 74.25 75.1

13.3 496 100.2 96 97.8 498 904.5 98.5 1,044 1,001 1,004 99 985 75.2 75 74.55 74 75

PREFERRED 14 46,500 496 2,500 100.2 2,690 96 500 97.8 116,020 498 20 904.5 5 99.9 560 1,044 55 1,002 2,245 1,004 480 99 2,000 990 1,070 75.5 3,390 75 10 74.9 17,720 74 20,000 75 54,730

645,662 1,240,400 269,538 48,033 11,363,456 9,960 4,522.50 55,630 57,420 2,249,320 482,105 198,000 1,054,300 255,385 750 1,324,701 1,481,000 4,105,652

-19,750 198,000 -





WARRANTS 0.73 3,000




1.72 5.13 0.49

1.85 5.47 0.49

1.7 5.13 0.47

1.71 5.47 0.48

198,240 70,785 129,050










PROPERTY 13 0.5 1.2 0.54 29.1 1.21 3.82 5.8 0.335 0.68 0.73 0.12 7 16.2 0.32 0.1 0.8 0.66 1.99 0.125 0.6 12.2 1.6 2.8 25.5 2.16

1,220,300 1,400,000 103,000 309,000 22,226,100 218,000 874,000 100 4,330,000 26,000 1,000 610,000 430,000 204,400 110,000 50,000 11,535,000 304,000 94,454,000 2,860,000 594,000 1,968,200 95,000 98,000 20,214,300 53,000

Trading Summary

















115,000 13,500 270,000


VALUE 1,103.87 (down) 0.26 999,434,829.00 FINANCIAL 5,752.53 (down) 187.72 INDUSTRIAL 814,929,217.36 4,702.65 (up) 59.04 HOLDING FIRMS 1,050,410,208.92 PROPERTY 2,531.36 (up) 90.86 1,030.54 (down) 10.55 SERVICES 1,440,174,875.27 3,946.76 (up) 49.29 MINING & OIL 738,081,642.62 4,774.27 (up) 30.90 PSEI 39,763,939.7717 All Shares Index 2,947.95 (up) 20.93 5,085,684,822.44 Gainers: 114; Losers: 68; Unchanged: 31; Total: 213

SEC urges all lending firms to grant relief to borrowers By Jenniffer B. Austria THE Securities and Exchange Commission strongly urged all lending and financing companies to extend debt relief to borrowers to cope up with the impact of the coronovirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The SEC in a notice dated March 23 said lending firms should consider offering debt relief measures to their borrowers, including lower interest rates, waiver or reduction of penalties, charges and other fees, loan term extension, suspension of collection, payment holiday and debt consolidation. Financing and lending companies may also develop and implement their own programs or schemes that will provide financial relief to their borrowers. The SEC, through its Corporate Governance and Finance Department, is also in discussions directly with financing and lending companies, which have been the subject of numerous complaints from the public, over the adoption of schemes that will help their borrowers. “We call on financing and lending companies to adopt all possible measures that will help ease the burden of their borrowers amid this public health emergency, which has disrupted the everyday lives of Filipinos, including their livelihoods,” said SEC chairperson Emilio Aquino. A number of financing and lending companies have already adopted debt relief measures. The Philippine Finance Association informed the SEC that at least 18 of its members allowed the extension of payment deadlines on borrowers, without penalties and fees. The SEC last year asked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to impose a ceiling on interest rates and other fees imposed by lending and financing companies amid complaints from the public. The SEC said BSP should prescribe maximum rates, fees and other charges to avoid predatory lending. A lending or financing company can freely set the interest rate and other charges on a loan, such as transaction fees and penalties for late payment.

Eagle Cement’s profit rose by 25% to P6.01b in 2019 EAGLE Cement Corp., a cement company controlled by business tycoon Ramon Ang, said net income in 2019 climbed 25 percent to P6.01 billion from P4.8 billion in 2018 on the back of robust sales. Eagle Cement said in a recent analysts’ briefing net sales jumped 20 percent to P19.8 billion from P16.5 billion in 2018. Income from operations increased 21 percent to P6.8 billion from P5.6 billion in 2018, while gross profit rose 20 percent to P11.15 billion. “Eagle Cement continues to deliver solid growth with double digit growth across the board. Sound cost structure allow us to gain healthy margins,” the cement firm said. Cash flow as measured by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization improved 16 percent to P7.93 billion. Net income in the fourth quarter dipped one percent to P1.3 billion from P1.31 billion in 2018, while sales improved five percent to P4.5 billion from P4.32 billion. Eagle Cement also reported that it was on track to complete the expansion of the Bulacan cement facility, which will boost capacity by another 1.5 million metric tons by the end of 2020. The company said it remains aggressive with the expansion to compete with rivals and new market players in the industry. Meanwhile, Eagle Cement said it has put in place a business continuity plan amid the current enhanced community quarantine being implemented in the whole of Luzon. The cement firm said it has funds allocated to support employees, community and partners. It also has sufficient investors and manpower to support limited operations to address urgent requirements. The company’s total assets rose eight percent to P49 billion at the end of 2019. Total liabilities declined seven percent to P11.7 billion, while stockholders’ equity rose 14 percent to P37.3 billion. Share price of Eagle Cement on Tuesday declined 0.3 percent to P6.68. Jenniffer B. Austria



Bernadette Lunas, Issue Editor manilastandardlife@gmail.com @manilastandardlife @MStandardLIFE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020


MODEL OFF-DUTY. Photographer Kourtney Roy captures models in Diesel’s spring/summer 2020 pieces showing their ‘real’ power


fueled by confidence.


Fierce, flex, fly for the For Successful Living campaign of a brand that celebrates boldness.

OT SPANDEX, not exoskeleton. It’s denim. This is what the superhero in François Rousselet’s film is wearing for a clothing brand’s spring/summer 2020 campaign.

It features a superhero movie actor on set, having a tough day and not quite nailing his scenes. Over with it (or rather, after having exhausted his movie director), he heads back to his trailer, changes into his Diesel denim gear, steps out looking way more relaxed, and does the thing he couldn’t do on set but is simply a consequence of who he really is. The film captures the brand’s For Successful Living campaign which, according to Diesel, is about confidence and the power that comes from finding oneself in

both strength and irony. The tagline was created in the early ‘90s when founder Renzo Rosso wanted a phrase that would remain both timeless and true to the growing denim label’s irreverent, bold, and unexpected foundation. The phrase solidified a mantra Rosso had: Never talk down to your customers. Treat them as equals. Involve them in your world. The protagonist of the video is wearing a Texan tuxedo made of D-Macs denim with a straight cut and regular waist for

a modern shape in heritage wash, embellished with Diesel denim division embroidery on the back pocket. Meanwhile, the D-Bristy jacket is a contemporary interpretation of the classic trucker jacket, exploring oversized volume and proportion, also in heritage wash. Under the jacket he is wearing the D-East-P shirt, the classic Diesel western shirt in the same heritage wash. The look is completed with Diesel sunglasses characterized by a geometric navigator frame, made entirely of acetate, with lenses that extend up to the edge, for a bold, contemporary look. The temples are personalized with diagonal metal inserts that evoke the brand’s industrial style and add personality to the frame.

Crocs opens first modular concept store FOR its 63rd concept store in the Philippines, casual footwear label Crocs opens a new kind of outlet at Estancia Mall in Pasig City. The first Crocs modular concept store features an 85.5-square meter space with sleek and clean design—giving more emphasis on the colorful and fun footwear displayed inside and for which the brand has been known. Available at the newly opened store is the Classic Collection—clogs, flips, slides—for both men and women, which one can dress up and personalize with Jibbitz charms. The bestselling Literide Collection is also available in the latest spring/summer 2020 colors: electric pink and neo mint.

Boho s traw


Chic sung lasses

FASHION MADE FUN Mika Dela Cruz trying a pair of white classic clogs.

raw hat rown st Light b

From left: Walk EZ Retail Corp. president Mark Christian Chan, Mika Dela Cruz, Ortigas Land mall leasing head Catherine See-Duenas, Walk EZ Retail chairman Chan Kok Bin, and SM Retail, Inc. president Chito Manalo Jr. Crocs classic clogs available at the newly opened modular concept store at Estancia Mall in Pasig City.


Watermelo n flip flops

IN ADDITION to trendy home goods, gadgets, and other toys and trinkets, Miniso is also home to a wide range of beauty items and stylishly playful accessories. For the summer season, the store rolls out trendy straw hats, eyeglasses, cool flip flops, and pastel-colored pouches perfect for the beach. Also available is Miniso’s egg sunscreen to protect the skin while under the heat of the sun in a tropical paradise. Further, the brand launches goggles, as well as We Bear Bears-inspired waterproof pouches to keep cellphones and other gadgets free from salt water. All these summer essentials and more are available at Miniso stores located in most SM Supermalls nationwide.

Col orfu l

ma keu pp ouc hes

creen gg suns Miniso e

Nickie Wang, Issue Editor nickie.standard@gmail.com




iWant offers over 1,000 free movies AS FILIPINOS heed the call to stay at home, iWant offers its wide collection of more than 1,000 movies that they can binge-watch for free for a limited time – from chick flicks to laugh-out-loud comedies and family dramas. After downloading the iWant app on iOs or Android, users can curb the boredom with Vice Ganda’s Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad, Beauty and the Bestie, Super Parental Guardians, Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin, Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy, as well as Ai-Ai delas Alas’ Tanging Ina series. People who are in the mood for gut-

punching drama can pick from No Other Woman, The Mistress, One More Chance, The Unmarried Wide, One More Try, and The Love Affair. iWant’s treasure trove of romcom classics also include Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd Cruz’s A Very Special Love, You Changed My Life, and It Takes a Man and a Woman, and Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla’s Barcelona, Crazy Beautiful You, She’s Dating the Gangster, and Can’t Help Falling in Love. Spend some quality time with the kids and parents with Feng Shui, Unexpect-

edly Yours, Seven Sundays, and Four Sisters and a Wedding. Also included in iWant’s library are indie hits such as Heneral Luna, That Thing Called Tadhana, and Kita Kita. These are just some of the over 1,000 free titles users can stream on iWant, which has the biggest library of Filipino movies and TV shows in the country. Users can also visit iwant.ph to watch these movies for free. For updates, like www.facebook.com/iWant, and follow @ iwant on Twitter and @iwantofficial on Instagram, and subscribe to www.youtube.com/iWantPH.

The streaming platform’s treasure trove of romcom classics also include some Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd Cruz’s blockbuster hits.


Smart lets you have more ways to be there for each other

Photo from the set of ‘G!,’ one of the entries of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2019.

Photo from the set of ‘The Panti Sisters,’ one of the entries of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2019.

FDCP launches program for displaced freelance audio-visual workers due to lockdown T A TIME when almost everything is at a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino Audio-Visual industry is suffering from the suspension of work and cancellation of events as recommended by the InterAgency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.


While regular and contractual employees get to continue their tasks via alternative work arrangements and still get paid, most of the Audio-Visual (AV) industry workers are not as fortunate to have employment during the national state of calamity. These include freelancers—from talents, to production staff, and technical crew members who get paid on a “per day” basis, “no work, no pay” scheme, and have no direct employer to work for. As the national film agency and whose stakeholders include audiovisual workers, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) created the Disaster/Emergency Assistance and Relief (DEAR) Program to assist its stakeholders during calamities and major disasters. This disaster-triggered funding mechanism of the FDCP came about as a response to the plight of freelance audio-visual workers who have been displaced by the Enhanced Community Quarantine and consequent

State of Calamity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The DEAR Program will be implemented through the FDCP National Registry, which maintains the database of the different sectors of the audiovisual industry including AV industry workers. FDCP supports and protects the interest of National Registry members by offering services that provide assistance in accessing social services, skills development workshops and programs, and basic legal assistance and work opportunities. Under the DEAR Program, the targeted support program DEAR for Displaced Freelance AV Workers will provide financial assistance to disasteraffected freelance AV workers who suddenly lost work as a direct result of a major disaster. This income support program aims to complement the CAMP program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which covers private companies whose em-

FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño-Seguerra and CMB Film Services workers at a Technical Working Group meeting in 2019.

ployees regardless of status (regular, contractual, project-based) can receive P5,000 in assistance. The DEAR for Displaced Freelance AV Workers is for those who have become suddenly unemployed for at least seven (7) work days as a direct result of a major disaster and are not eligible for other government-instituted benefits. The application for the DEAR program and the FDCP National Registry can happen concurrently. A flat rate cash financial assistance of P8,000 will be given to a displaced worker whose application has been approved. The onetime tax-free financial assistance aims to help beneficiaries with their expenses for personal needs, medical expenses, housing, rent, and other essential needs. FDCP emphasizes that DEAR benefits are not payable to individuals who are entitled to or qualified for regular unemployment compensation, waiting period credit, or benefits from the DOLE, Social Security System (SSS), their local government unit, their own employer, and similar agencies. As a newly institutionalized program under the FDCP, the DEAR Program will not be limited to the COVID-19 situation but for future declared disasters as well. “The FDCP DEAR Program is not a one-off initiative. Though this was inspired by the COVID-19 crisis, we want to learn from this and make sure that the agency is better prepared in handling such cases in the future. As a permanent program of the FDCP, this disaster fund will be activated every time there is an emergency and a State of Calamity declared by the President,” said FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño-Seguerra. Specifically in light of the COVID-19 situation, FDCP aims to be able to give financial aid to 2,000 audio-visual workers on its initial launch with funding coming from the Agency’s own limited funds. Because of this, priority will be given to low-income individuals like technical crews and production staff whose needs are more immediate. The FDCP guarantees that it will be working to get more funds and hopes to expand its support to as many as 20,000 freelance AV workers to cover the other sectors of the industry through the program.

THE paradox of “social distancing” in this time of COVID-19 is that we also need all the more to stay in touch while we stay at home. With its new “Free Stories For All,” PLDT wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. is giving its prepaid subscribers a better way to stay safe, connected, informed, and, to simply be there for those who matter to us so we may all pull through during these difficult times. “Free Stories For All” gives Smart Prepaid and TNT subscribers an extra 1 GB of data for Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. To get this, users simply have to register to Giga Stories in the FREE STORIES menu on the Smart App for Android-powered smartphones. With “Free Stories For All,” subscribers can turn to Facebook to regularly update their loved ones, keep track of their situation, and share important reminders with them. Customers can also turn to Instagram to share real human stories as they happen or Tiktok for their dose of inspiring content from their favorite creators, or uplift others by sharing their own content with friends. Moreover, customers can get the latest news updates about the COVID-19 outbreak as well as government advisories

so that they can protect their health and safety during these difficult times. Subscribers can also access for free the websites of news organizations like News5, One News, BusinessWorld, Philippine Star, ABS-CBN News, GMA News, and CNN Philippines until April 14. Smart delivers Giga Stories Promos with “Free Stories For All” on the back of its award-winning network, which has been certified as the country’s fastest mobile network by third-party network analytics firms such as Ookla and Opensignal. For the latest updates on promos and services, follow Smart’s official accounts on Facebook (www.fb.com/SmartCommunications), Twitter and Instagram (@ LiveSmart).

Smart Prepaid and TNT subscribers are given an extra 1 GB of data for Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok.

GMA Regional TV continues to deliver local news that matters GMA Regional TV reaffirms its commitment to deliver news and other relevant updates to all viewers in the regions across the Philippines via its award-winning regional newscasts — GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan, GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak, GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas, and GMA Regional TV One Mindanao. Viewers in North Central Luzon can rely on GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan to provide news that matters to them. Leading GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan are seasoned TV journalist CJ Torida, awardwinning local news correspondent Joanne Ponsoy, and news presenter Jasmin Gabriel-Galban. Providing reports are local news correspondents King Guevarra, Russel Simorio, Kim Bandarlipe, and Ivy Hernando as well as local news stringers across North Central Luzon. GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan is available via GMA TV 10 Dagupan, GMA TV 5 Ilocos Norte, GMA TV 48 Ilocos Sur, GMA TV 7 Abra, GMA TV 7 Camarines Sur, GMA TV 12 Albay, GMA TV 2 Sorsogon, and GMA TV 13 Catanduanes. In Eastern and Central Visayas, tri-media personality Bobby Nalzaro, awardwinning local news correspondent Alan Domingo, and news presenter Cecille Quibod-Castro are all on deck to bring viewers the latest news via GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak. Joining them are local news correspondents Lou Ann Mae Rondina, Nikko Sereno, and Fe Marie Dumaboc as well as local news stringers from different parts of Central and Eastern Visayas. Viewers can watch GMA Regional TV Balitang Bisdak via GMA TV 7 Cebu , GMA TV 10 Tacloban, GMA TV 11 Bohol, and GMA TV 12 Ormoc.

GMA Regional TV Balitang Amianan is anchored by CJ Torida, Joanne Ponsoy, and Jasmin Gabriel-Galban.

Meanwhile, pioneering unified Hiligaynon newscast GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas delivers the freshest news and information in Western Visayas. The newscast is anchored by Atty. Sedfrey Cabaluna with Bacolod co-anchor and correspondent Adrian Prietos, and Iloilo co-anchor Kaitlene Rivilla. Together with them are the newscasts’ award-winning correspondents Zen Quilantang, Darylle Marie Sarmiento, and John Sala along with the network of stringers across Western Visayas. GMA Regional TV One Western Visayas is available via GMA TV 6 Iloilo, GMA TV 6 Guimaras, GMA TV 13 Bacolod, GMA TV 30 Kanlandog, GMA TV 10 Sipalay, GMA TV 5 Roxas, GMA TV 2 Kalibo, and GMA TV 7 Tablas. Providing news and information to Kapusong Mindanaoans is unified local newscast GMA Regional TV One Mindanao. The program is anchored by broadcast journalist Tek Ocampo, co-anchors Sarah Hilomen-Velasco, and Real Sorroche with local news correspondents Sheillah Vergara-Rubio, Rgil Relator, Jandi Esteban, and Cyril Chavez together with the various local news stringers across North, Central and Southern Mindanao. Kapuso in Mindanao can watch the newscast via GMA TV 5 Davao, GMA TV 35 Cagayan de Oro, GMA TV 8 General Santos City ,GMA TV 12 Jolo, Sulu, GMA TV 9 Zamboanga City, GMA TV 12 Cotabato City, GMA TV 2 Tandag City, GMA TV 10 Surigao City, GMA TV 26 Butuan City, GMA TV 4 Dipolog City, GMA TV 3 Pagadian City, GMA TV 5 Ozamiz City, GMA TV 11 Iligan City, and GMA TV 12 Bukidnon. Meanwhile, GMA Regional TV Weekend News temporarily air on GMA-7 every Saturday at 10:30 p.m.. “In the face of a public health crisis, the Filipino spirit prevails—backed by faith, discipline, resilience, optimism and genuine public service,” says GMA Regional TV Vice President and Head Oliver Armoroso. “We are at a time in our country’s history that local news matters. Our local communities can help change the course of the COVID-19 by staying updated and informed.” Netizens, on the other hand, can still be updated via GMA Regional TV’s official website, www.gmaregionaltv.com, through its Facebook account (www.facebook.com/ GMARegionalTV), and on Twitter and Instagram via @GMARegionalTV.

Profile for Manila Standard

Manila Standard - 2020 March 25 - Wednesday  

The digital edition of Manila Standard: A nationally circulated newspaper published daily in the Philippines since February 1987.

Manila Standard - 2020 March 25 - Wednesday  

The digital edition of Manila Standard: A nationally circulated newspaper published daily in the Philippines since February 1987.