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Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Monday, December 14, 2020.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to supply the Philippines with more than 3 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine through the private sector, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd said on Sunday. He said AstraZeneca approved the second part of the vaccine donation agreement with the private sector.

Read: AstraZeneca OKs 3M vaccine doses

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Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen denied being lazy, incompetent and corrupt when he faced fellow justices last week. Unimpeachable sources said Leonen delivered a speech during the court’s en banc session on Tuesday, a day after an impeachment complaint was filed against him before the House of Representatives.

Leonen, according to the sources, told his colleagues that there was no truth to the accusations levelled against him, particularly the expose made by The Manila Times that he had been sitting on numerous cases for years. He added that he will face the impeachment complaint.

Read: Leonen denies being lazy, incompetent

SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged the government to crack down on unsanctioned quarrying operations as he raised the need to stop environmentally destructive activities nationwide. The senator stressed this as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) investigated quarrying activities that may have caused floods. The investigation focused on quarry operations in Rizal province, which was devastated by floods when Typhoon “Ulysses” (“Vamco”) hit the country in November.

Read: Go seeks crackdown on quarrying

President Rodrigo Duterte will go through the proposed 2021 budget with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that the spending bill is pork-free, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said. Earlier this week, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said President Duterte will exercise his veto powers in reviewing the proposed P4.506-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA). He assured the public that the President will sign the bill by yearend to avoid a reenacted budget.

Read: Duterte to scrutinize 2021 budget bill

Congress gave a bigger allocation for cancer prevention and treatment in the proposed 2021 national budget — P620 million. The amount will be used in the implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act of 2019. House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the amount would cover the cost of cancer prevention, treatment and medicines for patients.

Read: Cancer program allotted P620-M budget for 2021

The city government has created a task force to ensure the expeditious and orderly acquisition and distribution of coronavirus vaccine once it is available, Quezon City Mayor Josefina Belmonte said on Sunday. Task Force “Vax to Normal" is composed of heads of various offices of the local government and representatives from private stakeholders.

The nation's first coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine will begin arriving in states on Monday, United States officials said on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.

Read: US states start getting Covid vaccine

In business, the government's debt servicing went up in October due to bigger interest payments and amortization expenses, data released by the Bureau of the Treasury showed. Debt payments during the month amounted to P27.18 billion, higher by 7.8 percent from the P25.20 billion posted a year ago.

Read: Govt debt payment up in October

Topping sports, by rediscovering the thrill of a brutal knockout, Anthony Joshua cleared the way to a shot at being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. With a big right hand that sent Kubrat Pulev, a durable but one-dimensional Bulgarian, to the canvas for a third and final time, Joshua secured a dominant ninth-round win in his UK homecoming on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to retain the WBA, WBO and IBF belts.

Read: Fury awaits as Joshua KOs Pulev to retain heavyweight belts

Rigoberto Tiglao and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino are the Times’ featured columnists. Tiglao accuses retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of double standards over the issues of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, while Fr. Aquino discusses a statement of the Philippine College of Jurisconsults on coronavirus restrictions on religious services.

Read: Carpio’s shameless double standard and intellectual dishonesty

Read: Philippine College of Jurisconsults on Covid restrictions on religious services

Today’s Times editorial focuses on drugmaker AstraZeneca’s dropping of Covid-19 vaccine trials in the country as more of a relief than a setback. Read the full version on the paper's Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.

Read: AstraZeneca’s dropping of PH vaccine trials more relief than setback

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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. Have a good week ahead of you and stay safe.