Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

READ: Covid cases hit 1 million mark

HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd recommended that the National Capital Region and the outlying areas that comprise NCR Plus remain in modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) for two more weeks to enable hospitals to free up more beds for Covid-19 patients.

Duque made the proposal on Monday as the country logged more than 1 million Covid-19 cases. President Rodrigo Duterte might announce on Wednesday if the NCR Plus will stay in MECQ or shift to the more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 1.

In a television interview, Duque said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) sub-technical working group on data analytics has yet to consider his recommendation, but he personally favors extending the MECQ.

READ: The Manila Times 500 out

SAN Miguel Corp. (SMC) topped The Manila Times 500 2020 edition, which will be launched today, April 27, 2021. It was the third time that SMC led the Times’ list of top Philippine companies. The publication provides extensive financial information on the country’s top corporations and analyses of pivotal industries. The third edition can be considered a polished magnifying glass for policymakers, venture capitalists and industry leaders to discern a strategic path to growth. As the numbers will show, powerhouse conglomerates remain strong in the face of adversity through agile leadership and diversification.

READ: World military spending grows despite pandemic

MILITARY expenditure worldwide rose to nearly $2 trillion in 2020, defying the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers said Monday. Global military spending increased by 2.6 percent to $1.981 trillion in 2020, when global gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 4.4 percent, according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Diego Lopes da Silva, one of the report’s authors, told Agence France-Presse the development was unexpected.

READ: Lawmaker wants Covid jabs mandatory

CAVITE Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. filed a bill on Monday that will make vaccination for Covid-19 mandatory. Barzaga said a mandatory vaccination program is “imperative to solve the present pandemic and achieve herd immunity or population immunity.” Under House Bill (HB) 9252, or the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act,” only those with medical conditions identified by the Department of Health (DoH) will be exempted from inoculation.

READ: ‘Duterte not to blame for loss of PH territory’

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is not to blame for the loss of Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said Monday as the maritime dispute between the country and China over the presence of suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels continues. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. claimed when the President assumed office, China has already created artificial islands in the country’s exclusive economic zone. The Philippines has filed 78 diplomatic protests against China since Duterte assumed power, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.

READ: Hofilena, 65

FORMER insurance executive and The Manila Times columnist Jesus “Jess” Alfonso Hofileña succumbed to complications of Covid-19 on Monday. He was 65 years old. The Manila Times was informed about Hofileña’s passing by Insurance Commissioner Dennis Funa. On March 27, the Times was informed he was in hospital after testing positive for the virus. Hofileña was one of four columnists for The Manila Times’ Insurance Insights column every Monday, along with Michael Rellosa, Herminia Jacinto and Anagel Ledesma. His last column was published on March 22.

READ: Senators censure Parlade

FOURTEEN senators signed a draft resolution seeking to censure Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. for calling some of them “stupid” after they sought to defund the government’s anti-insurgency program. They sought to censure Parlade, anti-insurgency task force spokesman, for red-tagging progressive celebrities, party-list groups, universities, colleges, members of the academe and organizers of some community pantries, particularly Ana Patricia Non. Parlade recently called some senators “stupid” for pushing to realign the P19-billion budget allotted by Congress to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).

BUSINESS: NEDA sticks to 6.5-7.5% 2021 growth target

Topping business, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is sticking to the 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth target for the year. Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said during a pre-State of the Nation Address event that the agency has not yet seen the impact brought by the Enhanced Community Quarantine earlier this month and believes it is still too early in the year to make changes.

SPORTS: PSC confident Tokyo Olympics will push through

Over to sports, Philippine Sports Commision (PSC) chairman William Ramirez believes that the Tokyo Olympics in July will still push through. This is despite the current Covid-19 situation in Japan, as the country declared a state of emergency  -- its third since the onset of the pandemic -- for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures, which aims to curtail the rising Covid-19 cases in the area for a ‘safe and secure’ staging of the one-year delayed Games. Ramirez’s belief that the Olympics will push through comes from his admiration for the character and competency of the Japanese people. He added that if Japan’s Covid-19 situation won’t be like that of India’s, then the Olympics will go on.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Yen Makabenta and Ramon Tulfo are today’s front page columnists. Makabenta, citing a report from the Economist, believes the vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac has performed poorly in clinical and real world trials, while Tulfo believes the sight of poverty in community pantries is a depressing sight.

Today’s editorial calls on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for a firm action on Myanmar to end the bloodbath in the nation. 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 Tuesday ahead.