Credit to Author: The Manila Times| Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2021 21:18:29 +0000
Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, February 20, 2021.
Two “mutations of clinical concern” of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have been discovered in the samples that were sequenced from Central Visayas, according to the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging New Variants. Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma said the E484K and the N501Y mutations were found in 31 of the 70 samples from the region last February 11.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF- EID) has agreed to place the entire country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) by March. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said during an interview Friday the IATF-EID decided on the proposed shift to the most lenient quarantine during its meeting on Thursday. Roque said with the task force giving its nod, and with Metro Manila also favoring an MGCQ, President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to approve the transition. Roque made the announcement after Metro Manila mayors proposed the transition to MGCQ following their meeting on Wednesday night.
President Rodrigo Duterte is getting impatient over the delay in shipping vaccines for the Covid-19 to the country. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. communicated the President’s impatience during a television interview on Friday. Duterte has reason to be displeased: unfinished paperwork has thwarted the delivery of several vaccine brands that were supposed to arrive as early as next week. He said he expects things to move at a faster pace now that the President has expressed his annoyance.
The government is further easing travel restrictions by allowing foreign nationals with long-term visas to enter the Philippines, Malacañang said on Friday. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) revised Resolution 98 by “delet[ing] the reckoning period of March 20, 2020,” in reference to visas issued to foreign nationals. The revised IATF-EID resolution states that foreign nationals with valid and existing visas at the time of entry and who were barred to enter the Philippines under previous resolutions, and holders of valid and existing special resident and retiree’s visas and Section 9A visas provided they present an entry exemption document to the Bureau of Immigration upon arrival, are allowed to enter the country.
SENIOR citizens are no longer required to make a personal appearance to validate and get their pensions starting next month, Malacañang said on Friday. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) “mandated pension-issuing agencies and their servicing banks and other financial institutions to adopt alternative modes of validation for senior citizen pensioners.” At present, he said senior citizens “make personal appearances or submit documents that require personal appearances before a notary public in order to have continuous access to their pensions.” However, senior citizens are among high-risk groups, which are vulnerable to Covid-19.
Democrats unveiled legislation on Thursday (Friday in Manila) for President Joe Biden’s plan to create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, saying there is no justification for denying them a permanent home in the United States. Biden called the policy reforms “long overdue” and said they were aimed at reversing the “misguided policies” of his predecessor Donald Trump, who mounted a hardline effort to halt illegal immigration, slash legal immigra- tion and drive out undocumented immigrants, even those in the country for decades. The new proposal aims to give legal protections to mil- lions of people, mostly from Mexico and central America, who have lived in the country for many years, with homes, businesses and US-born children and grandchildren.
BUSINESS: Meralco to refund over P13B in 2 years
In business, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has allowed Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to refund within two-year period a total of P13.88 billion to its customers. In a statement on Friday, the ERC directed Meralco to return to its customers an average refund of P0.1528 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to its customers in about 24 months or until the amount is fully refunded.
SPORTS: PBA cancels Draft Combine
Topping sports, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) announced on Friday the cancellation of the Rookie Draft Combine slated on March 10 and 11. In a statement, the PBA said it decided to cancel the event to ensure the safety of the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft applicants amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
READ: Opinion and editorial
Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta believes Filipinos should feel relief and not regret, over the delay of the vaccines produced by Chinese manufacturer Sinovac, while Tulfo asks why the arrival of vaccines are delayed.
Today’s editorial talks about the challenges of inflation in the country. Read the full version on the paper’s Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.
With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe weekend ahead.