TYPHOON UPDATE: 241K FAMILIES affected by Maring

The number of families affected by Severe Tropical Storm Maring has now climbed to 241,293 in eight regions in the country.

In an update on Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said these families are from 1,735 villages in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Caraga, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

The number of affected families is equivalent to 907,189 people.

Meanwhile, families classified as displaced are placed at 582 or 2,209 individuals taking shelter in 67 evacuation centers.

The number of those confirmed dead has climbed to 24, with two injured and 15 missing.

Still undergoing validation are reports of an additional 17 deaths, three injured, and two missing.

Houses damaged were placed at 8,210 in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Caraga, and the CAR.

Of this number, 7,826 are classified as partially damaged and 384 are totally damaged.

Agriculture damage was estimated at PHP2.3 billion in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Caraga, and the CAR.

Meanwhile, infrastructure damage was placed at PHP1.9 billion in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Caraga, and the CAR. 

PALACE shoots down claims of Duterte link to Pharmally

Dismisses claims as ‘hearsay’

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, released the preliminary findings of his panel’s investigation on the purportedly overpriced medical supplies purchased by the government from Pharmally.

Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed anew as hearsay claims that the “grand conspiracy” of alleged overpricing in the purchase of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. would never have happened without the “imprimatur” of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Gordon said the national government granted Pharmally “unwanted benefits” when it awarded over PHP8 billion worth of contracts to the firm.

He also said Duterte allegedly “allowed his friends to bleed this nation’s coffers dry”.

Kuwentong kutsero po iyan sa panahon ng pulitika; pero kapag ebidensiya po, walang ganyang ebidensiya. In fact, ni hindi nga napatunayan na may kinalaman iyong relasyon ng Presidente sa pagbili ng mga PPE [personal protective equipment] (It’s just hearsay at the time of politics; but they have no evidence to show. In fact, they were not able to prove Duterte’s involvement in purchasing PPE sets),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque pointed out that no less than the Commission on Audit (COA) declared that the PPE sets bought by the current administration were not overpriced.

He also said the government’s procurement was consistent with existing laws such as Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Malinaw po iyan, so kung wala pong paglabag sa batas at walang overprice, bakit magkakaroon ng grand conspiracy? Usaping kutsero po ng isang taong namumulitika (That is clear, so if there was no violation of the law and no overpricing, how would there be a grand conspiracy? That’s hearsay coming from a person politicking),” he added.

Amid Duterte’s memorandum barring executive officials from appearing in the Senate panel probes, Roque said the hearings could still continue sans the participation of those leading the country’s Covid-19 pandemic response.

Hindi po natin hinarangan iyan; ang sinabi lang ng Presidente (The hearings are not being stopped; it’s just that the President said), enough is enough at the time of pandemic. Pero nakikita naman natin na si Secretary [Francisco] Duque ay nagsasabing wala siyang tinatago (But we can see Secretary Duque saying that he has nothing to hide),” he said.

Duterte, in several public addresses, said he was not blocking the Senate panel investigation, but noted that his executive officials should no longer be involved.

He said the Senate can do whatever it wants with Pharmally, but they should leave officials of the executive branch out of it. (PNA)


DOLE set to issue 13th month pay computation advisory

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is set to come up with an advisory on the proper computation of 13th month pay for private-sector workers amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“So we will issue that labor advisory to clarify exactly how much amount a worker will receive, especially now during the pandemic,” Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said in a Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

Benavidez added that since many workers have not reported to work and numerous establishments have either ceased or downgraded operations, the computation of the 13th month pay will be different.

“The understanding of most of our employers is that the 13th month pay is the total monthly salary of the worker but the computation of the 13th month pay is not like that because many workers did not report to work and we implemented suspensions of work. I think it is only proportionate that we have a correct computation,” he added.

Given this situation, Benavidez said it is likely that employers would spend less for the 13th month pay of their workers.

Benavidez reminded that the payment of the benefit is a statutory obligation.

Meanwhile, he said that in 2020, the agency has logged an 85 percent compliance rate of employers or companies in giving 13th month pay.

Under the law, private-sector employees have to receive their 13th month pay on or before December 24. (PNA)

Duterte names Quitain as new chief legal counsel

 President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Jesus Melchor Vega Quitain as the new Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.

“In-appoint din ng Pangulo si (The President has appointed) Jesus Melchor Vega Quitain bilang kanyang (as his) Chief Presidential Legal Counsel,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday.

Quitain will replace Salvador Panelo who is running for senator in the 2022 elections.

Prior to his appointment, Quitain was the officer in charge of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP).

He also served as Davao City administrator during Duterte’s term as city mayor.

However, Roque said Duterte has yet to replace former Department of Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio Honasan II and former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones who are both running for senator.

He also confirmed that Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio “Vince” Dizon has resigned from his post effective October 15.

Dizon will remain as deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and the country’s testing czar in charge of overseeing the government’s testing efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Secretary Vince has asked the President to unload him of this task so that he can focus full-time on the national government’s Covid response efforts and vaccination rollout,” Roque said.

Under Dizon’s term, the BCDA earned PHP48 billion in revenues in only five years, the highest by far of any administration. (PNA)

Roque hoping for ‘miracle’ of Sara Duterte running for president

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque is hoping for a “miracle” that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte would run as president in the May 2022 national elections.

Roque is still undecided about running for senator in the 2022 polls but will consider pushing through if Sara, who filed her candidacy for reelection in Davao City, changes her mind.

He made this remark after the People’s Reform Party (PRP) disclosed that he is among the senatorial candidates of the political party formed by the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

“Unang-una po, umaasa pa rin tayo na gaya ng sinabi natin na nais natin tumakbo kasama po si Mayor Sara, ‘yan po yung pinaka importanteng konsiderasyon. (We are still hopeful that I could run together with Mayor Sara, that’s the most important consideration),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque acknowledged that Sara herself has dismissed substituting for other candidates, but he is still hoping that she would rethink this decision.

“Habang hindi pa po tapos ‘yung substitution marami pa rin pong umaasa. Alam ko po sinabi niya hindi na talaga, pero malay niyo naman po magkaroon ng milagro (While substitution has not ended yet, there are still those hoping. I know she said she won’t run, but a miracle could still happen),” he added.

Political parties only have until November 15 to replace their candidates for the 2022 polls.

Roque said he was also considering the huge amount of money needed to campaign for a national position.

“Ako po’y hindi anak mayaman, hindi po ako anak politiko. Napakatinding paghamon ‘yung salapi na kinakailangan para tumakbo (I was not born with rich parents and I am not the child of politicians. The amount needed to run for a national post is a huge challenge),” he added.

On October 2, Sara filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for her third and final term for mayor.

She did not give in to her supporters’ clamor for her to run for president in the 2022 polls up to the last minute of the COC filing last October 8.

Instead, it was former Philippine National Police chief, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who filed his COC for president under PDP-Laban. He is also a member of Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago party.

In a press statement last Friday, PRP vice president Rey David said Roque is expected to join former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. in the PRP Senate slate as a substitute candidate.

He said the party is also hopeful that Sara would reconsider her political decision and run for the presidency. (PNA)

Synod of Synodality 2023 covers non-Catholics: Dumaguete bishop

Cardinal-designate Orlando Quevedo addresses a press conference for the 9th Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences plenary assembly in 2009 in Manila. Pakistan Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore and now-Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong look on. (Roy Lagarde/national catholic reporter}

DUMAGUETE CITY – Unlike in the past, parishioners, lay leaders, and even people outside of the Roman Catholic Church are now being consulted by the Diocese of Dumaguete as part of its “listening process” for the Synod on Synodality.In an interview on Monday, Dumaguete Bishop Julito… Read More


Comelec logo. (Photo from PNA)

By Pearl Gumapos

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday, Oct. 17, said it will release the final list of candidates for the 2022 elections in December.

“Ine-expect natin ang final list mga around December. Ayun ang final. Ang pagsasala magagaganap ngayon hanggang that point,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said during an interview with radio DZBB.

Jimenez said that not all who filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) will be included in the official list. He added that 95% are considered as nuisance candidates by the Comelec that must be removed from the official list.

“Again, sa pagka-Presidente lang 97. Ang dami mo nang sasalain kaagad. Sa VP [vice president], 28. Medyo talagang maraming trabaho,” Jimenez said.

“Unang tingin mo pa lang alam mong makakatanggal ka ng mga 95% na mga magfile. Siguro matitira sa atin hindi lalampas ng sampu,” he added.

Philippine total national outstanding debt now at ₱11.64-T

The Bureau of the Treasury office (Photo Courtesy of Bureau of the Treasury Facebook page)

The Philippine government’s current total outstanding debt stands at ₱11.64 trillion.

According to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), as of the end of August 2021, the national government’s total debt increased by ₱32.05 billion or 0.28% due to the domestic debt issuance which is part of government financing.

Out of the total debt amount, 29.4% or ₱3.42 trillion was sourced externally while 70.6% or ₱8.22 trillion were domestic borrowings.