With barely a year left in the Duterte administration, former Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the House of Representatives’ current push for Charter change (Cha-Cha) is ill timed.

Ex-VP Binay sees no need for Cha-Cha rush: Foreign bizmen won’t go to PH ASAP after removal of economic restrictions

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With barely a year left in the Duterte administration, former Vice President Jejomar Binay believes the House of Representatives’ current push for Charter change (Cha-Cha) is ill timed.

In his January 13 column for the Manila Bulletin, Binay said doubts remain over lawmakers’ assurance that only the economic provisions of the Constitution will be touched.

He called “incorrect and misleading” Cha-Cha proponents’ claim that amending the Constitution will lead to economic growth.

“The worldwide pandemic has hit even the major economies. It would be naive, if not disingenuous, to declare that private investments from these economies will immediately make a beeline for the Philippines once we remove the restrictive provisions in the Constitution,” the former Vice President said.

Binay said the administration’s choice for undertaking Cha-Cha—convening the Senate and House into a constituent assembly—also raises suspicion that they will tinker with the Constitution’s political provisions given the chance.

He said Cha-Cha should not be rushed, particularly since the country is in the middle of a pandemic.

“As I have said before, revising the Constitution is a process that should not be rushed. Given our historical experience with charter change, the probability that the assembly will be used to push political amendments to benefit incumbents remains high,” Binay said.

“What we need during this pandemic is coherent, caring, and competent government, not charter change,” he added.

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COVID vaccine rollout to seniors, cabinet execs up to iNITAG, says Nograles

By Prince Golez

The Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group for Covid-19 vaccines (iNITAG) will decide if senior citizens may receive Covid-19 vaccination, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration previously advised against using China’s Sinovac vaccines on health workers and senior citizens due to its lower efficacy rate.

“Ang proseso kasi natin sa (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) at sa pamahalaan ay we will leave it to iNITAG to give us their recommendations in terms of anong brand ng vaccine ang puwedeng gamitin sa anong sektor ng population maging yung sa prioritization ng sectors ng population,” Nograles said during a virtual presser Thursday.

On the possibility of other Cabinet members to get inoculated, the secretary said they will ask iNITAG to also give them the vaccine.

“To the President’s mind and concern, I believe, he considers us in the Cabinet as also frontline workers and very much exposed also. Kita niyo naman lahat kami umiikot sa mga hospital doing the simultaneous ceremonial inoculations… kaya nag-aalala lang si Pangulo,” he added.

So far, only four ranking government officials took the first vaccine shots. They were vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Vince Dizon, and Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo, and MMDA Chief Benhur Abalos.

CabSec: Duterte may reopen in-person classes if 2 million COVID shots given

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte may only allow the resumption of face-to-face classes when at least 2 million Filipinos have received the Covid-19 vaccine, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Thursday.

During a televised briefing, Nograles said Duterte reiterated during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday that he wanted a “more rigorous” and “more widespread” rollout of vaccine deployment program first before resuming in-person instruction.

“Ang sabi nga niya is that unless he sees about, he gave a figure like 2 million vaccines being rolled out as a start, then that’s when he will start reconsidering about itong pagbubukas, more openly ng ating GCQ (General Community Quarantine) areas to consider again putting it under (Modified) GCG, and dun sa limited face-to-face classes,” the Palace official said.

“Ang napagkasunduan kagabi is that yung limited face-to-face classes will only be pilot classes to be selected very carefully by the Department of Education doon sa mga areas na mababa ang transmission rate ng COVID. So these are pilot limited face-to-face classes,” he shared.

Over 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government arrived in Manila last Sunday. The Philippines will also receive more than 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the global COVAX facility tonight.

Wowowin sa Senado? Duterte tells Willie Revillame to keep options open

President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Willie Revillame to “keep his options open” in the run-up to the 2022 elections, fueling speculation that the popular television host will seek an elective post.

Philippine Star entertainment editor Ricky Lo wrote in his March 4 column that Duterte called Revillame while he was having dinner with Senator Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at a restaurant in Greenhills, San Juan City on February 27.

Lo quoted Duterte as saying to the host, “Willie, mahal kita. Pinapanood kita. Maraming salamat sa ginagawa mo sa ating mga kababayan. Magkasama tayo sa pagtulong. Kasama tayo sa grupo. Kasama ka namin sa grupo.”

The columnist said it was Go who set the dinner with Revillame to tell him that Duterte was happy with what he’s been doing and to thank him.

Lo said Go was also told to relay Duterte’s message to Revillame, which was: “Tell Willie to keep his options open.”

“Asked what else, what ‘options,’ he and Sen. Bong and Sec. Medialdea discussed during that five-hour dinner, Willie was mum. But his smile was revealing,” the columnist said.

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