12-14 January 2021

Gov’t to issue COVID-19 vaccine passports — DOH
Filipinos who will be vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be issued vaccine passports by the Philippine government, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

PH extends travel ban due to new COVID-19 variants

The Philippine government on Friday extended the travel restrictions imposed on foreign nationals coming from areas confirmed to have cases of the new COVID-19 variants. The travel ban that was supposed to end on Friday was extended until Jan. 31. The list includes 33 countries and territory. It was not expanded to include the United Arab Emirates.

Foreigners told to postpone travel to PH due to possible extension of travel ban

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday advised foreign travelers to postpone their plans to go to the Philippines this month amid the possibility of the government extending the travel ban imposed on countries with cases of the new COVID-19 variant.

House sets own probe on gov’t COVID-19 vaccination plan

The House of Representatives will be conducting its own probe into the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, with the chamber’s health committee scheduling a hearing on the matter next Monday. Among the resource persons invited to the probe are Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. Both officials are overseeing the government’s vaccination program against COVID-19.

Gov’t starts inspection of cold storage facilities next week to prevent vaccine wastage

Government officials will make the rounds of all available cold chain facilities next week ahead of the much-anticipated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the country. 

Philippines eyes vaccinating 5 million people vs coronavirus by June

The first 50,000 doses out of the total 25 million that the country has secured from China's Sinovac Biotech are set to arrive in February. In that same month, the Philippines might also receive an initial batch of vaccine jabs from US-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya Institute, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

DOH eyes imposing travel ban on UAE after Filipino gets infected with new COVID-19 variant

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will recommend prohibiting the entry of foreign travelers from the United Arab Emirates after a Filipino who flew home from the Gulf country became the Philippines' first case of the new COVID-19 variant initially detected in the United Kingdom.

PH secures 17M doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

The Philippines has procured a total of 17 million doses of United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, through tripartite agreements involving the private sector and local government units.

PH authorizes Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Food and Drug Administration granted the application of American pharmaceutical giant on Thursday, Director General Eric Domingo confirmed. An EUA issuance from the regulators is required for the vaccines to be legally rolled out in the country.

DoF supports further opening of economy

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he is open to amending the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, as House lawmakers are set to begin deliberations on Charter change last 13 January. Among the sectors that should be further opened to foreign investors are the retail trade and construction industries, he said.

Covid response jacks up spending to P4.2 trillion

Citing preliminary figures from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III on Tuesday said the amount disbursed by the government last year is already above the P3.798 trillion that the government spent in 2019.

Government to identify priority recipients of Covid vaccines this month

The Department of Health (DOH) said it is now finalizing the list from both the national and local government, which will be inputted in their online database. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are now validating the list for HCWs, which is the first sector to be given the vaccine. 

More lawmakers ask national government to give LGUs freer hand in vaccine deals

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said more than 30 provinces and cities have already allocated funds for buying jabs approved by the Food and Drug Administration, with the cities of Makati, Quezon and Taguig setting aside P1 billion each. His appeal is contained in House Resolution 1460, which followed a similar measure calling for permitting private companies to buy their own vaccine to fight the infectious new coronavirus.

DOF: P62.5 billion in loans ‘lined up’ for purchase of vaccine

THE Department of Finance (DOF) said the government has “lined up” P62.5 billion in loans from three multilateral development banks for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

UK Covid-19 variant detected in PH

In a statement Wednesday, the Department of Health (DOH) said the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) reported the detection of the new variant, known as B117, after samples from a Filipino who arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 7 yielded positive genome sequencing results.

New Brazil data shows disappointing 50.4% efficacy for China’s Sinovac vaccine

A coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech was just 50.4% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in a Brazilian trial, researchers said on Tuesday, barely enough for regulatory approval and well below the rate announced last week.

Lawmakers vow to keep hands off political amendments in ‘economic cha-cha’ talks

The proposed measure seeks to ease constitutional limits on foreign ownership of lands, educational institutions, public utilities, and mass media firms. Under Velasco’s proposal, Congress should convene as a constituent assembly and approve amendments to the Constitution by a three-fourths vote of all lawmakers, with the House and Senate voting separately.

Foreign tourist arrivals drop by 83.7% in 2020 — DOT
In its year-end report for 2020, the DOT said that largely due to border closure, the Philippines only received some 1.3 million international tourists, down from around 8.2 million arrivals in 2019. The total amount of receipts generated from inbound tourism, or the expenditure of foreign visitors, consequently plunged by 83.12% — from an estimated ₱482.16 billion in 2019 to ₱81.4 billion in 2020.

Philippines keeps investment grade rating but Fitch warns vs vaccine rollout delay

FITCH RATINGS affirmed the Philippines’ long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at “BBB” with a stable outlook. However, the global debt watcher acknowledged that the economic impact of the pandemic on the Philippine economy in 2020 was “more significant” than initially expected, “due to the domestic infection rate and government policy measures to curb the spread of the virus.”

Gov't eyes securing total of 145M vaccine doses in 2 weeks, earlier Pfizer rollout – Galvez
The Philippines is about to secure 90 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines within the next two weeks, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. said. This will be on top of the 30 million doses of Covovax from the Serum Institute of India and 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines, as well as advance purchases of local government units and private firms through tripartite agreements.

China, 4 other countries included on PH travel restriction list
In a regular virtual Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Office of the Executive Secretary released the additional countries that also include Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman.

WHO: Rise in COVID-19 cases in PH inevitable
The increase in COVID-19 cases in the country is "inevitable" given the gatherings of people during the holiday season and the recent Feast of the Black Nazarene, the World Health Organization said Tuesday

PH eyes rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine via COVAX facility in Feb
Apart from China's Sinovac, the Philippines is also eyeing to roll out in February Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX facility, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Tuesday.

New MMDA chair vows to make EDSA pedestrian-friendly
Newly appointed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos on Tuesday vowed to focus on making EDSA a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.

5-7 January 2021

PH may lift travel ban on countries with new COVID-19 variant if no local surge in cases seen

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there's a chance for the temporary ban on travelers entering from 27 jurisdictions to be lifted soon if there are signs that local healthcare facilities are not overwhelmed.

PH imposes travel restrictions to six additional countries with new COVID-19 variant

Effective January 8 until January 15, 2021, travelers from Portugal, India, Finland, Norway, Jordan, and Brazil or those with travel history to these countries 14 days prior to their arrival, will be subject to travel restrictions and/or quarantine and testing protocols upon arrival in the Philippines, in light of the new COVID-19 variant.

BSP grants new P540-B loan to gov’t
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has granted a fresh P540-billion loan to the National Government to boost pandemic relief funds.

Nearly half of Pinoys opt to skip COVID-19 vaccine: Pulse Asia
Nearly half or 47 percent of Filipinos said they would not get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19, an independent Pulse Asia survey revealed Thursday.

Tracing underway for contacts of Hong Kong-based OFW, Officials to check for UK Variant

The Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed the COVID-19 case detected with the new variant in Hong Kong is a 30-year-old Filipino domestic helper from Cagayan Valley who traveled to Metro Manila before boarding her flight. It assured that tracing efforts are ongoing to track if her close contacts were also infected.

PH can see 15-fold increase in infections if new COVID-19 variant takes over – expert
Experts heaved a sigh of relief following the announcement that the more contagious coronavirus variant has not been detected in the Philippines, warning it could result in a 15-fold increase in infections in just a month if it becomes the dominant variant in the country.

Duterte signs law granting him powers vs red tape during national emergencies

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte now has the power to fast-track the issuance of government permits and licenses and even waive certain requirements for them during times of national crises after signing a new law. Duterte signed into law Republic Act No 11517 on December 23. The signed law was sent to media on Tuesday, January 5.

Duterte extends validity of Bayanihan 2, 2020 budget

Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11519 last Dec. 29 which allows appropriations under the Bayanihan 2 available for release, obligation and disbursement until June 30, 2021. The President also signed Republic Act No. 11520, extending the availability bof appropriations under the 2020 General Appropriations Act until December 31, 2021. Duterte earlier certified both measures as urgent.

Vergeire heads team of doctors assigned to study new COVID-19 variants

In a statement, Malacañang said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Tuesday created the Technical Working Group (TWG) on COVID-19 Variants upon the order of President Rodrigo Duterte. Vergeire heads the body while Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, will serve as co-chair.

PhilHealth suspends contribution hike
in response to the directive of President Duterte, The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will not proceed with the scheduled increase of contribution rate for members and will opt to collect premiums from direct contributors using the current rate of 3 percent instead of the 3.5 percent contributions rate; and the P60,000 instead of the P70,000 ceiling in CY 2020 while awaiting for the result of the filed bills on the deferment of the scheduled increase.

Safeguard duties seen to hinder auto sector recovery

Local automakers yesterday warned that the government’s decision to impose provisional safeguard duties on vehicle imports would hinder the industry’s recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lead to further decline in sales as the measure exposes the country to various risks.

Finance Dept. launches anti-corruption page on website

The Department of Finance has launched a page on its website wherein the public can report erring employees or officials of the department and its attached agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC).

LGUs ordered to set up business one-stop shops

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is urging all local government units (LGUs) to fully implement the business one-stop shop (BOSS) for business registration and license renewal or they face formal investigation for non-compliance.

Farm output seen to shrink in Q1 2021

The country's agriculture production could possibly contract by 1.21% in the first three months of 2021, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture has projected.

December 17, 2020

PH lags behind some Southeast Asian neighbors in COVID-19 vaccine procurement

Inoculation czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr said last week China's Sinovac may only arrive in the country by March 2021— if a contract is signed within the month.  Western-made vaccines Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca might come at a later time, Galvez added, as their countries of origin will be prioritized and "more than 80 percent of vaccine manufacturing capacity has been procured" by first world countries. While other Southeast Asian countries are advancing in the process of securing COVID-19 vaccine supplies, the FDA said that it has yet to receive emergency use applications from any vaccine developers.

PHL should focus on closing digital gap, upskilling workers

The WEF released a special edition of its annual Global Competitiveness Report, which assessed the recovery prospects of 37 countries and provided policy recommendations. The WEF suspended the Global Competitiveness Index rankings this year “due to extraordinary response measures taken by governments following the global pandemic outbreak and economic recession.” The WEF said that while “no country is fully equipped for recovery and economic transformation, countries with advanced digital economies, robust social safety nets, and efficient healthcare systems fare better than others.”

ADB to extend up to $9.4-B loans to PHL in next 3 years

THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it is looking to extend up to $9.4 billion in loans to the Philippines between 2021 and 2023 to support the economic recovery through infrastructure, health, and employment programs. In a statement, ADB said more than half (52%) of the loans will support transportation projects including railways, roads and bridges, and 12% of the loans will finance the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act.

Covid sending 22 million into poverty in Asia-Pacific–ILO

At least 22 million people in the Asia-Pacific region could live in poverty due to the economic disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus disease pandemic (Covid-19), according to a latest report of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The labor arm of the United Nations made the projection in its Asia-Pacific Employment and Social Outlook 2020 report.

Bayanihan III bill worth P485B filed in Senate

A third stimulus package worth P485 billion to help the economy recover from the pandemic and the late-year typhoons has been filed in the Senate. The Bayanihan III stimulus package formally known as Senate Bill (SB) No. 1953 or the proposed Bayanihan to Rebuild as One Act, does not contain a grant of special powers to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, unlike the first and second rounds of stimulus.

Bills on coconut fund, GAA 2020, Bayanihan 2 fast-tracked

To fast-track the transmittal of three priority measures to the Palace, the House of Representatives on Wednesday adopted the Senate versions of the Coconut Farmers and Development Trust Fund Act, the bill extending the validity of the 2020 General Appropriations Act and the measure extending the appropriations under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act.These three measures will thus skip the bicameral conference process and can now be transmitted to President Duterte for signature.

December 16, 2020

Congress OK’s extension of Bayanihan II validity

The House of Representatives approved the bill on third reading on Monday evening, while the Senate passed the House version on final reading on Tuesday afternoon. With 179 affirmative votes, six negatives, and no abstention, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) No. 8063, which extends the validity of Republic No. 11194 or Bayanihan II until June 30, 2021. The Senate approved the measures extending the validity of Bayanihan II and the 2020 national budget on Tuesday, after the Finance Committee adopted the House versions.

House is not adopting Senate version of CREATE

With this, the plenary elected Monday night some House members to the bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two chambers’ different versions of the CREATE. House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda, principal author of the House version of CREATE, said the bicameral conference committee will try to finish reconciling all the conflicting provisions of the proposal by January 2021.

Recto files P485B Bayanihan 3 bill

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has filed a third Bayanihan measure that would provide P485 billion in funding to “help the country bounce back” from the COVID-19 pandemic. Recto filed Senate Bill No. 1953 or the proposed Bayanihan to Rebuild as One Act “as a continuing response to soften the impact of an economic downturn, accelerate the economic recovery of the country and respond to the urgent needs of areas battered by the recent typhoons.”

Provincial point-to-point buses get nod from IATF

The return of provincial buses in point-to-point routes approved by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the local government units (LGUs) of destination was approved through the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution 88 issued last Monday.  The approval also covers the routes’ stopover and transit terminals.

PHL finishes in lower half of rankings for digital readiness

The study, Digital in the Time of COVID, classified the Philippines as among those countries that need to “reduce its infrastructure friction for better digitalization.” It ranked the country 64th on a metric called “digital evolution” and 52nd in terms of “digital momentum.” On the other hand, the Philippines placed 28th in terms of fostering digital trust, and was 10th in terms of digital user experience. The ranks were determined based on the study’s Digital Intelligence Index, which weighed more than 350 indicators.

Duterte approves addt'l ₱3.52-B funding for national ID system

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet approved an additional budget of ₱3.52 billion for 2021 for the registration of 20 million individuals to the Philippine Identification System or PhilSys.  This is on top of the target 50 million registrants set earlier by the National Economic and Development Authority for next year, noted Roque.

December 14, 2020

MSMEs, Cabinet warn vs uncontrolled entry of foreign contractors

Barely surviving the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, MSME and industry organizations yesterday expressed their concern to the Senate committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship, which has been deliberating on bills calling for further opening up of the construction industry. State agency Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines and industry associations Society of Philippine Electrotechnical Constructors and Suppliers Inc., Association of Carriers and Equipment Lessors, Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines, Philippine Constructors Association raised alarms over the matter.

Firms ready to hire in 2021—BSP survey

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, in its quarterly survey of business expectations and confidence, reported that more firms indicated improved employment and outlook plans for January to March this year. In particular, the employment outlook index returned to the positive territory for the first quarter of 2021 at 5.3 percent. This is a turnaround from the -5.5 percent in the previous round of the survey.

National ID registration hits 8.4 million

“We have made significant progress this quarter, with more than 8.4 million Filipinos completing Step 1 Registration as of 09 December 2020,” chief statistician Dennis Mapa said in a statement over the weekend. Step 1 registration, or the house-to-house collection of demographic information and scheduling appointments for Step 2, is adopted by the PSA as a health and safety measure against the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mapa also announced that the second step of the Philsys registration is scheduled to start on Jan. 4, 2021 and will be on a gradual and small-scale basis.

2.4M skilled jobs in PH feared to remain unfilled

House ways and means chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda issued the warning as he pressed policymakers to implement reforms in training and education to meet the needs of new and emerging businesses. In his report entitled, “The coming skills and employment gap and the case for education and training reform,” he estimated that some 2.4 million skilled and well-paid jobs, or 6 percent of the labor force, would be left unfilled in the next decade “if education and training systems are not improved meaningfully.”

Online workers must agree on a wage floor–PIDS study

Online workers in the region should organize themselves into a labor group and agree on a wage floor to prevent the “race to the bottom mentality” in their industry, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).  The authors said many online workers, including in the Philippines, receive low wages compared to those in western countries.

2020 nat’l, Bayanihan 2 budget validity extension measures up for final reading

Information coming from the office of Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said that separate bills seeking to extend the validity of the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget until Dec. 31, 2021 and the appropriations under the P165.5-billion Bayanihan to Recover As One Act until June 30, 2021 are scheduled to be passed on third and final reading this week. The House of Representatives is set to hold sessions from Monday to Wednesday after which the congressmen will go on their annual holiday recess based on their current schedule.

AstraZeneca approves sale of more COVID-19 vaccines to PH

British drug maker AstraZeneca has approved the request of the Philippines' private sector for a second batch of coronavirus vaccine procurement, Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said on Sunday. This deal will be on top of the 2.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines secured earlier through a ₱600-million donation from over 30 private companies.  Concepcion said that the initial procurement in November was meant to reach 3 million doses, but they had to follow a supply timeline to ensure equal distribution amid high demand. Now the second part of the agreement has been approved and can finally be processed, he said.

December 12, 2020

Foreign trade decline continues in October

Preliminary data by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed merchandise exports in October contracted by 2.2% year on year to $6.202 billion, compared with a revised 2.9% growth in September and a flat 0.5% growth in October 2019. Prior to that, the export growth in September marked the first expansion in seven months. Meanwhile, merchandise imports shrank for the 18th straight month in October by 19.5% to $7.979 billion. This was worse compared with 15.3% and 7.6% contractions logged in September 2020 and October 2019, respectively.

FDI net inflows slide in September

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data showed net inflows of FDI stood at $523 million in September, dropping by 12.3% from $596 million in the same month in 2019. This was also 17% lower than the $637 million in FDI net inflows logged in August. “The two-week Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila and surrounding areas in the first half of August may have dampened investor sentiment on prospects of the economy’s re-opening,” the central bank said in a statement on Thursday.

Congress ratifies ₱4.5-trillion nat’l budget for 2021

The budget measure is now up for signing into law by the President. The bicam panel led by House appropriations committee chair Eric Yap and Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara, reconciled the final version of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill in their final meeting, a week after launching bicam deliberations. House appropriations panel vice chair Joey Salceda also confirmed the bicam approval in a statement on Wednesday, assuring "almost no risk" of a reenacted budget.

Congress to tackle Bayanihan II extension next

The chambers are looking at extending the Bayanihan II law, or Republic Act No. 11494, will expire on Dec. 19, until March or June 2021. Six bills are pending with the House panel extending the effectivity of the Bayanihan II law, which provided up to P165 billion worth of assistance to sectors hit by the pandemic. The bills contemplate extensions until January, March or June.

‘CREATE could lure $7-10 billion in new investments in 2021’

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda described the CREATE as a much-needed “shot in the arm” for the country’s pandemic-hit economy. Salceda said the proposal could spur as much as $7 billion to $10 billion in new additional foreign investments in 2021 alone and at least 2 million jobs in two years.

House leaders urged: Adopt Senate version of CREATE

House Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda has asked the leadership of the chamber to adopt the Senate version of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act to avoid having to convene a bicameral conference committee and formally send the measure cutting corporate income tax to President Duterte for his signature.

Bicameral panel approves FIST bill

The reconciled version of the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill has been “approved at the bicam level,” Quirino Rep. Junie E. Cua, chair of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, said over telephone, Saturday. He said the bill will likely be ratified by Congress ahead of the Christmas break which starts on Dec. 19, and sent to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for his signature. Under FIST, there will be a mechanism that will allow banks or lending companies to monetize bad loans.

Guidelines for 2020 IPP out this month — BOI

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to release the IPP 2020 guidelines before Dec.19,” Board of Investments Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said. He said the new Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) is basically a carryover of the previous or the 2017 to 2019 IPP, with the addition of two activities such as projects related to addressing the coronavirus disease pandemic and those creating job opportunities in the countryside, including the Balik Probinsya program, which will receive up to six years of income tax holidays.

December 10, 2020

PH economy to suffer steepest downturn in Southeast Asia as COVID-19 infections far from contained – ADB

In its Asian Development Outlook Supplement published Thursday, the Asian Development Bank further downgraded its forecast for the Philippines to -8.5% from the -7.3% estimate back in September.  "GDP forecasts in 2020 are downgraded for Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines as COVID-19 containment hampers economic recovery," the ADB report said.  The new projection matches the better end of the government's 8.5-9.5% forecast decline for the full year. The economy shrunk by 10% as of end-September.

Congress ratifies ₱4.5-trillion nat’l budget for 2021

The budget measure is now up for signing into law by the President. The bicam panel led by House appropriations committee chair Eric Yap and Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara, reconciled the final version of the 2021 General Appropriations Bill in their final meeting, a week after launching bicam deliberations. House appropriations panel vice chair Joey Salceda also confirmed the bicam approval in a statement on Wednesday, assuring "almost no risk" of a reenacted budget.

Congress to tackle Bayanihan II extension next

The chambers are looking at extending the Bayanihan II law, or Republic Act No. 11494, will expire on Dec. 19, until March or June 2021. Six bills are pending with the House panel extending the effectivity of the Bayanihan II law, which provided up to P165 billion worth of assistance to sectors hit by the pandemic. The bills contemplate extensions until January, March or June.

PHL healthcare costs expected to rise 10.1% this year

According to the MMB Health Trends: 2020 Insurer Survey, healthcare cost inflation in the Philippines is expected to come in below the Asia average of 10.7%. “In 2020, medical costs in the Philippines are expected to outpace general inflation by six times with an average rise in medical costs of 10.1%, slightly below the Asia average of 10.7%,” according to a statement accompanying the release of the report. The Philippine medical cost trend in 2020 is fifth-highest among the 11 Asian markets surveyed.

Jobless rate likely to remain high until 2022

The latest National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) report on the October Labor Force Survey showed the government aims to bring down the jobless rate to 7-9% by 2022, after the unemployment rate averaged 10.2% so far this year. Under the Philippine Development Plan adopted in 2016, the unemployment rate was expected to hover around 3-5% by 2022. The NEDA has updated employment targets in the country’s medium-term blueprint to take into account the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

NEDA: Face-to-face classes should be considered in low-risk areas

In a virtual briefing yesterday, Karl Kendrick Chua, National Economic and Development Authority acting secretary, said that this was arrived at by the agency after listening to the advice of health experts. “I think we have to begin considering the gradual opening of schools perhaps not immediate but gradually allow face to face, or hybrid, in the lowest risk areas,” Chua said. Chua noted that there are many provinces under the modified general community quarantine that have not seen any cases for weeks and months.

Poe pitches OK of tough AMLA to avert ‘grey list’

In Senate plenary deliberations, Poe pointed out that the remedial legislation seeks to further amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 following the “key findings of the mutual evaluation report or MER which evaluated our compliance with the 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering.” She warned that failure to act on the findings would land the Philippines on a so-called “grey list” of noncompliant countries.


Anti-Red Tape Authority| Memorandum Circular 2020-03-A on Amendment to Memorandum Circular No. 2020-03 Dated 20 March 2020 Re: "Extension of Deadline of Submission of the Citizen's Charter and Suspension of Processing Times in the Delivery of Government Services in Luzon Area in Light of the Imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine" Click here to download
Bureau of Internal Revenue| Bank Bulletin No. 2020-08 on Reiteration of Relevant Policies on the Acceptance of Annual Income Tax Returns and payments Click here to download
Department of Information and Communications Technology| Department Circular No. 008 on Policy Guidelines on the Co-Location and Sharing of Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure for Macro Cell Sites Click here to download
Office of the President| Report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, June 8, 2020 Click here to download
Department of Tourism| Memorandum Circular No. 2020-003 on Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Tourist Land Transport Services Under the New Normal Click here to download


The ECCP has consolidated a list of companies
with available medical supplies.

Click here for the list.



Please be informed that the Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Office, Regional Office National Capital Region (NCR), and Regional Office IV-B are implementing a “Work from Home” work arrangement starting 16 March 2020 until further notice. For any immediate or urgent concern, you email the following:

Concern Office Email Address
Administration and Finance Office of the Undersecretary for Administration and Finance 
Budget and Accounting Concerns Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance 
Biddings, Procurement/Purchasing, General Services, Maintenance, Motorpool/Vehicle, Cash Section, Property, and Supply Concerns Office of the Director for Administrative Service and Procurement Management 
HR Concerns Human Resource Division 
Contract preparation and other concerns Legal Affairs Service 
Work and Financial Plans (WFP) concerns (for internal stakeholders) Planning Service 
For Product and Market Development Concerns (Overseas travel and trade fairs, business/selling missions, concerns on Cruises, English as Second Language courses/schools, Dive Resorts/Programs, Medical and Health Tourism) Office of Product and Market Development



Source: Department of Trade and Industry | Infographics: ECCP

NEDA'S PROJECTED IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN THE PHILIPPINE ECONOMYSource: National Economic Development Authority's "Addressing the Social and Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic) Originally published on March 25, 2020, on BusinessWorld. Infographic by Bong R. Fortin.