Home Editors' Picks Nationwide round-up (04/15/21)

Nationwide round-up (04/15/21)

House vows to work swiftly on 3 economic bills marked urgent

THE House of Representatives on Thursday said it will work swiftly on the three proposed economic bills certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte. In a statement, Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy said, “I will work with the House leadership and my other colleagues here in the chamber to get Senate Bill 2094 (Public Service Act), SB 1156 (Foreign Investments Act) and SB 1840 (Retail Trade Liberalization Act) swiftly ratified when we resume session soon.” The House counterpart of these measures have already been approved. Ms. Herrera-Dy said of the three bills, the Public Service Act can be ratified the earliest since the Senate version is close to that of the House. The lawmaker said the three measures “would give our economy additional ways to recover and compete better in the new normal local and international economy” alongside the recently enacted Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act. On Tuesday, Mr. Duterte ordered the urgent passage of the three bills to boost the country’s economy, which has gone into recession due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The House is also currently pushing for amendments in the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, which are related to the three economic bills. — Gillian M. Cortez

COVID-19 active cases in BuCor prisons down to 14

THE Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which manages seven facilities across the country, reported on Thursday that active coronavirus cases among its personnel and inmates was down to 14 as of April 14, most of whom have mild to no symptoms. The agency, in its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) daily monitoring report submitted to the Department of Justice, said no new cases were reported on Wednesday. BuCor Spokesperson Gabriele P. Chaclag told reporters that out of the 14 active cases, one inmate and one BuCor personnel are in the hospital while the other 12 “are all personnel who are on self-quarantine since last week and (are) on the way to recovery.” The BuCor has recorded 776 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, of whom 730 have recovered and 32 died. Mr. Chaclag said the bureau has been conducting regular rapid antigen testing, citing that 368 personnel, trainees, and prisoners underwent the test on Thursday. “They are tested weekly using rapid antigen and if (the result is) negative, they go back to (their) routine job or old places,” he said. He further explained that only those who have COVID-19 symptoms are tested using the mandatory blood-based rapid antigen test and are brought to the hospital for the saliva-based RT-PCR or swab test. Our BuCor Health Service is confident they are handling our COVID-19 situation (well),” he said. BuCor manages the following facilities: New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City; Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City; Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro; San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City; Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte; and Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Panabo City, Davao del Norte. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

House Speaker seeks probe on approval process of COVID-19 treatments

HOUSE Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco has filed a resolution to probe the Department of Health (DoH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the registration and distribution of medicines for coronavirus treatment. On Wednesday, the Speaker and  Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy filed House Resolution No. 1711, which calls on the committee on good government and public accountability to investigate the two agencies on the approval process of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatments. Both lawmakers called the stringent guidelines of both agencies, specifically FDA Circular No 2020-12, as “arbitrary, bureaucratic, and inhumane for causing unnecessary delays in the approval and clearance of drugs and therapeutics for emergency use authorization or for use of drugs under compassionate special permit against the dreaded COVID-19 disease.” The DoH and FDA gave several warnings on the use of ivermectic for COVID-19 treatment since there are insufficient studies that show its effectiveness for that purpose. Ivermectin for veterinary use is the only locally registered product and FDA has warned against human intake. The House resolution came amid the push by some lawmakers, who are not medical practitioners, to approve the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. Ms. Herrera-Dy is among those solons and has said that she uses the drug as a prevention against COVID-19. — Gillian M. Cortez

Supreme Court reorganizes electoral tribunal members

SUPREME Court Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo has reorganized the high court’s members in the electoral tribunals in Congress, which resolve cases related to senatorial and congressional elections. The change mainly involves the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, where Justices Rosmari D. Carandang and Amy C. Lazaro-Javier are assigned as the new members while Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen will remain as chairperson. For the Senate Electoral Tribunal, Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe will stay as chairperson while Justices Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa and Ramon Paul L. Hernando will remain as members. The adjustments, which took effect April 6, are contained in the Court’s Special Order 2826 dated April 12 and made public on Wednesday. It was undertaken in line with the early retirement of former Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta last March 27. Mr. Gesmundo, as the new chief justice, now heads the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is composed of all Supreme Court justices. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago