As details of the government's Covid-19 vaccination plan “remain murky,” Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon on Sunday supported calls for another round of Senate inquiry on the government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Drilon calls for another round of Senate hearings on Covid-19 vaccine rollout

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As details of the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan “remain murky,” Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon on Sunday supported calls for another round of Senate inquiry on the government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Drilon proposed that only a preliminary, not final, report be submitted to the Senate by the committee of the whole, which held two hearings on the government’s vaccination plan.

He said the two-day inquiry left more questions than it answered.

“There are still a number of issues hanging. These too many unanswered questions raise grave concerns, for the survival of the country largely depends on our ability to implement a successful vaccination program against Covid-19 virus,” Drilon said in a statement on Sunday.

The urgent unanswered questions, according to Drilon, are the pricing, the sourcing of the vaccines, the delivery schedules and logistical support plan.

“We did not get any definite answers to these serious questions. I believe another round of hearing is in order. I support the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for more hearings,” Drilon said.

“We will not get the whole picture of what lies ahead when important information is concealed from us and the public,” he added.

“It was evident that preparations are not sufficient. We all want this vaccination plan to succeed. The Senate should continue to exercise its oversight power. The Senate has no agenda but to give the public access to information about the government’s vaccination plan,” Drilon said.

He reiterated his calls for transparency, saying that “being transparent and truthful” is crucial in building up public confidence in the coronavirus vaccine.

“This is an opportunity for the public to be informed of the government’s vaccination plan and scrutinize the same. The lack of access to information fuels doubts and confusion among the public,” he emphasized.

“The success of the vaccination program – and the country’s economic recovery – depends on the ability to inoculate at least 60 percent of our population. How will the government convince people that the vaccines are safe? How can we strengthen our people’s confidence in the anti-coronavirus vaccine?” he said.

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

House panel OKs 10-year extension requiring banks to loan funds to MSMEs

By Billy Begas

The House Committees on Appropriation and on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development have approved the measure seeking to extend for 10 years the law mandating banks to allocate 10 percent of its loanable funds to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The still unnumbered measure, authored by Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva and CIBAC Rep. Domingo Rivera seeks to amend the Magna Carta for Small Enterprises (Republic Act 6577).

Under the law, all lending institutions are mandated to set aside at least eight percent for Micro and Small Enterprises and at least two percent for Medium Enterprises their total loan portfolio. The provision lapsed in 2018.

Villanueva said based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, as of March 2019, banks allocate a meager 2.72 percent of their loan portfolio to micro and small enterprises and 4.19 percent to medium enterprises.

“We owe our MSME sector a great deal. This bill is for them; karapat-dapat sila. It is only apt that we invest in them by ensuring availability of access to credit and government assistance and programs. They are our economy’s unsung heroes, comprising 99% of firms in our economy,” said Villanueva.

Other significant provisions of the proposals are as follows:

– National Government shall allocate at least 10% of its procurement needs to eligible MSMEs;

– Entitlement of registered MSMEs to 20% discount on shipping, delivery fees, mailing, freight, and other similar services for products and raw materials provided by either public or private

– 20% of total rentable spaces of private malls allocated for MSMEs at a 20% discount on rental payment;

-At least one percent of the total space available in all government buildings, structures, and open areas allotted for selling area of MSMEs

-At least 0.5 percent for every 5,000 square meters in private malls, supermarkets, shopping centers, commercial selling establishments, structures, or areas allotted for selling area to MSME stores

Guevarra: DOJ prepared to probe assault vs NUPL lawyer

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday (March 4) assured that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is prepared to investigate the attack against lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen, one of the legal counsels of the petitions seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Anti-Terrorism Law before the Supreme Court (SC).

“If he has good reason to believe that it’s related to his advocacies, I will refer the matter to the AO (Administrative Order) 35 task force for appropriate action,” the secretary said.

DOJ’s AO 35 Task Force investigates extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations to the rights to life, liberty and security of persons.

At the moment, Guevarra said Guillen has yet to reach out to the DOJ to seek an investigation.

“We’ll wait for Atty. Guillen to make a statement about the incident,” Guevarra said.

Guillen, who is also the assistant vice president of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) Visayas sustained stab wounds from a screw driver after being assaulted by unidentified men in Iloilo City on Wednesday (March 3).



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