Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, September 18, 2021.
The Commission on Audit (CoA) has refused to categorically say if it will accept or reject the request of President Rodrigo Duterte for it to audit the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), saying only that it is not “remiss in its duty” to audit government funds released to nongovernment organizations and people’s organizations. On Thursday, Duterte ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to coordinate with the CoA to start scrutinizing the PRC’s utilization of fund donations from state agencies. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said PRC needs to be audited because it failed to submit financial reports of its transactions with government as mandated by Republic Act 10072, “the Philippine Red Cross Act of 2009.”
THE Department of Education (DepEd) recorded 27.6 million enrollees for this school year, up by 105 percent from last year’s 26.2 million enrollees. Classes opened last Monday, September 13, the second school year distance learning is replacing in-person classroom teaching because of the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 27.6 million enrollees, 21.1 million were in public schools, 1.9 million in private schools, and 57,000 students enrolled in state and local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs). The DepEd said 4.6 million enrolled in Kindergarten, and Grades 1, 7, and 11.
Over 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine procured by the private sector arrived on Friday. National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd welcomed the shipment of 661,200 doses at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport . Galvez, who is the national vaccine czar, said 80 percent of the new batch will be distributed to local government units under a tripartite agreement among the national government, the private sector and the vaccine manufacturer. The remaining 20 percent will be allocated to the private corporations and entities. Concepcion said the continuous delivery of Covid-19 shots will help fast-track the government’s vaccine rollout.
Nationwide implementation of the alert level system will depend on how successful a pilot test will be in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), according to the Department of Health (DoH). Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the pilot test of the new alert level system in Metro Manila will allow the DoH and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to see how it will be effective and how it can be applied to the rest of the country.
Quezon City Mayor Josefina “Joy” Belmonte on Friday ordered an inventory of all closed-setting and long-term care facilities in the city following a reported Covid-19 outbreaks in an orphanage and two religious convents. Belmonte has instructed Dr. Rolando Cruz, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), to conduct an immediate inventory of all facilities including convents, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, shelters, halfway homes for victims of violence and abuse, hospices, correctional facilities, among others. The mayor also directed CESU to be more proactive in conducting testing and review of health protocols being observed by care facilities and other high-risk institutions.
BUSINESS: BSP lowers BoP surplus estimate
Over to business, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has lowered its projection for the country’s balance of payments (BoP) surplus this year after taking into account the rapid spread of the Covid-19 delta variant and vaccine supply concerns. Zeno Ronald Abenoja, managing director of the central bank’s Department of Economic Research, announced at a briefing on Friday that the BoP surplus was now expected to be $4.1 billion this year, or 1.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In sports, Filipino cue artists Dennis Orcollo, Johann Chua, Carlo Biado, and Rodrigo Geronimo made it to the final 16 at the 2021 US Open Pool Championships on Friday (Philippine time) at the Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Orcollo and Chua remained spotless in this prestigious 9-ball tournament as they defeated Oliver Szolnoki of Hungary, 11-6, and Mieszko Fortunski of Poland, 11-7, respectively, to advance. Biado and Geronimo, meanwhile, entered the round of 16 from the losers’ bracket. Biado defeated compatriot Jeff De Luna, 11-6, and Scottish Jayson Shaw, 11-8 while Geronimo bounced back from a 2-11 setback to Austrian Max Lechner by stunning Dutch Neils Feijen, 11-6.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Antonio Contreras and Yen Makabenta are today’s front page columnists. Contreras hits an “unbalanced presidency” while Makabenta talks about why widespread testing for Covid may just undermine efforts to end it.
Today’s editorial talks about our recent ASEAN-China RCEP forum. Read a full version on the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.
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On behalf of The Manila Times, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. Have a safe weekend ahead.