Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Saturday, April 24, 2021.

READ: ‘Gradual decline’ in Covid cases seen

The government expects a "gradual decline" in daily cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the days to come. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the current seven-day average of cases was 9,936, lower than the previous week's average of more than 10,000 cases. Vergeire’s optimism was shared by private Covid tracking group, OCTA Research. The virus’ reproduction number (R0, pronounced “R-naught") in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) dropped to 0.98 during the week of April 16 to 22, much lower than the 1.17 reported on April 9 to 15, Prof. Guido David, OCTA senior research fellow, said during a webinar organized by the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

READ: Rate of adverse reactions to virus jabs low, says FDA

Only 2.45 percent of the 1.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that were administered in the country resulted in adverse reactions, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday. The FDA, who made the announcement with the National Adverse Events following Immunization Committee, said only 24,698 of the doses of either the Sinovac’s CoronaVac or AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria (formerly AZD1222) triggered some form of adverse reaction. It said 7,044 adverse reactions were from CoronaVac, of which 6,682 were nonserious, 152 were serious and 10 resulted in deaths. Of the 17,654 reactions from the Vaxzevria vaccine, 17,448 were nonserious, 192 were serious and 14 resulted in deaths. Mild side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine included fever, headache, vaccination site pain, body aches and chills. Those who took Sinovac experienced transient blood pressure increase, headache, vaccination site pain, dizziness, rashes and fever. FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique Domingo said 19 of the 24 deaths were purely coincidental in nature. Eleven were due to Covid-19, eight had cardiovascular or cerebrovascular conditions, three had infectious diseases other than Covid-19 such as pneumonia or bacterial infection, and two were still under review.

READ: Sara leads in early presidential poll

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio emerged as the leading contender among presidential aspirants in the latest survey of Pulse Asia.

The nationwide survey, carried out from February 22 to March 3, had 27 percent of respondents saying they will vote for Duterte-Carpio in next year’s elections. She got a 60-percent preference rating in Mindanao, 21 percent in the Visayas, 17 percent in Luzon and 12 percent in the National Capital Region. In previous interviews, President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter said she would decide by January 2022 if she would join the presidential derby. President Duterte, however, is said to have discouraged his daughter from running, saying the position is not worth pursuing. Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is a far second with 13 percent, followed by Sen. Mary Grace Poe and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, who were tied in third place with 12 percent. Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao had 11 percent and Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, 7 percent.

READ: Denmark eyes energy ventures in Philippines

Denmark is interested in setting up energy ventures in the Philippines. Guesting at a virtual roundtable discussion with The Manila Times on Friday, Denmark’s Ambassador to the Philippines Grete Sillasen touted her country’s expertise in the field of sustainable energy and that it is looking at introducing it to other countries, including the Philippines. The ambassador said the Philippines “is definitely one of the places where we would like to see that cooperation taking place. ... We’re already in that cooperation, and we want to strengthen it.” Sillasen said the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for sustainable development and energy efficiency in the Philippines.

READ: Palace belies Xi-Duterte fishing agreement

Malacañang on Friday denied there was a verbal deal between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, allowing China to fish in the West Philippine Sea. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the speculation of a deal between the Philippines and China is without basis and is quite simply conjecture.

READ: 5 PH universities enter THE impact rankings

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) announced on Thursday five Philippine higher education institutions (HEIs) have entered the Times Higher Education (THE) impact rankings, a roster of top universities that made a global impact. CHEd named the five HEIs included in the prestigious list of the United Kingdom-based magazine as Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Tarlac Agricultural University (TAU) and Mapua University. Inclusion in the roster was based on how an HEI's research, stewardship and outreach endeavors deliver against the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. ADMU made it to the 201-300 bracket, the highest attained by a Philippine university so far; DLSU at 401-600; UST and TAU at 601-800 and Mapua at 801-1000.

BUSINESS: R&I affirms PH’s BBB+ rating

In business, Japan-based debt watcher Rating and Investment Information Inc. (R&I) on Friday affirmed the Philippines' BBB+ with a stable out credit rating, citing the country's expected recovery through aggressive public investment. In a statement, the country’s economy suffered a severe contraction due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 but is expected to recover primarily through aggressive public investment, which had driven the economy in the past several years.

SPORTS: Gilas faces South Korea to begin final window

 Gilas Pilipinas faces archrival and longtime tormentor South Korea when the Philippine men’s  basketball team begins its campaign in the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers slated from June 16 to 20, as released by FIBA on Thursday night. The Filipinos are set to take on the South Koreans behind closed doors on June 16 at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga. Gilas is bannered by an all-cadet lineup spearheaded by Juan Gomez de Liaño, Dwight Ramos, and Justin Baltazar. The South Koreans, on the other hand, are led by former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) import Ricardo Ratliffe, who is now known as Ra Gun-ah.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta believes China’s fishing fleet is part of Beijing’s drive to become a maritime power while Tulfo discusses the desirable and disgusting traits of Filipinos.

Today’s editorial believes the Philippines is doing its part against climate change and other nations need to step up. Read a full version on the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.


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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe weekend ahead.