DOF orders tighter watch on rice imports following tariff cuts

Robie de Guzman   •   June 7, 2021   •   409

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Monday ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to keep a tighter watch on incoming rice imports to ensure the proper collection of taxes following the implementation of tariff rate cuts.

In a statement, the DOF said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the directive pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 135, which mandates the temporary adjustment of tariff rates on rice imports to offset the effect on consumers of the continuous increase in the price of rice from other countries, particularly those coming from ASEAN countries, and thereby reduce inflationary pressures.

The DOF said the EO 135 would enable the country to diversify its market sources for rice and maintain the stable supply and affordable price of the cereal for Filipino consumers.

Dominguez cited India as a possible source of cheap rice imports.

“I think there will be a shift in the imports of Thai and Vietnamese rice, and Burmese (Myanmar) rice, to rice from other countries where the value is much lower. Just keep an eye on that,” Dominguez told Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

During the meeting, Guerrero said the BOC is currently reviewing the valuation of rice shipments from Vietnam, noting that most of the imports from there were “declared with values lower than the published prevailing prices for such exports from that country.”

“We discovered that many of these importations are under a tentative assessment so we are reviewing the payments,” Guerrero said.

He said the average value of rice imports, coming mostly from Vietnam, dropped 12.7 percent to P19,312 per metric ton (MT) in May 2021, compared to P22,119 per MT in the same month last year.

The average value of rice in May was also lower than the P21,066 per MT recorded in April and P22,119 per MT in March.

Guerrero previously reported increasing tariff collections despite lower import volumes because of a steady improvement in the BOC’s valuation system.

Preliminary data showed that from January 1 to April 30, a total of 804,360MT of rice shipments worth P17 billion entered the country, representing a 9.2-percent decline from the 885,645MT valued at P16.4 billion that were imported during the same period last year.

Duterte thanks outgoing British envoy Pruce for help in accessing more COVID-19 vax shots

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte thanked outgoing British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce for his role in improving the Philippines’ access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Duterte expressed his gratitude when Pruce made his farewell call in Malacañang on Wednesday (August 4).

In a statement issued by the Palace, Duterte thanked the United Kingdom for donating 415,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Philippines’ vaccination drive.

“President Duterte cited Ambassador Pruce’s personal role in improving vaccine access for the Philippines eventually leading to the conclusion of the innovative Tripartite Agreement between the government of the Philippines (GPH), local government units (LGU), and private sector for the procurement of AstraZeneca vaccines,” the statement read.

Duterte also congratulated Pruce for a successful tour of duty, crediting him for the “revitalization of the United Kingdom’s economic and political presence in the Philippines through high-level exchanges and dialogues.”

Meanwhile, the president called for the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Recruitment of Filipino healthcare professionals to ensure fair, ethical, and sustainable recruitment and employment of Filipino healthcare workers in the United Kingdom.

“President Duterte also reiterated the Philippines’ support for the UK’s Presidency of COP26 in 2021, recognizing the UK’s bold commitments as it steers the global climate agenda towards urgent climate action,” the Palace said.

Pruce, for his part, thanked Duterte for the Philippines’ support of the UK’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN, and in its efforts to further strengthen bilateral ties across a broad range of areas, including political and defense cooperation, trade and investments, people-to-people exchanges, and fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

He also stressed the importance placed by the UK on its relations with the Philippines and further underscored that the Philippines-UK diplomatic cooperation will continue to grow.

32% ng senior citizens sa bansa, fully vaccinated vs COVID-19 — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Nasa 32 porsiyento na ng mga senior citizen sa bansa ang nabakunahan laban sa COVID-19, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Mula Agosto 1, mahigit na sa 2.6 milyong senior citizen ang fully vaccinated habang nasa 2.8 milyon ang nakatanggap ng first dose.

Sa Metro Manila, halos 63 percent na ng mga senior citizen na nakalista sa master list ang mga fully vaccinated habang 68 percent naman ay nabakunahan ng first dose.

Ngunit ayon kay Dr. Beverly Ho, ang direktor ng DOH Health Promotion Bureau, malaking bilang pa rin ng mga nasa A2 priority group ang kailangang mabakunahan sa gitna na rin ng banta ng Delta COVID-19 variant sa Pilipinas.

Kaya panawagan ni Ho sa publiko, lalo na sa bawat pamilyang may miyembro na senior citizen, na kumbinsihin ang mga matatanda na magpaturok na laban sa coronavirus disease upang mabigyan sila ng proteksyon mula sa nakakahawang sakit.

“Mahalaga rin po na alam natin na ngayon lumalabas po sa ating mga datos na ang mga senior citizens nakikinig po talaga sila sa mga taong malapit sa kanila , it could be family, friends na nabanukahan na mga fellow senior citizens at mga physicians o healthcare providers na malapit rin sa kanila,” ang wika ni Ho.

Tiniyak naman ng opisyal na may ginagawa nang paraan ang mga lokal na pamahalaan upang mahikayat ang mas marami pang senior citizen na magpabakuna.

Halimbawa nito ay ang pagsasagawa ng house-to-house na pagbabakuna lalo na sa mga lolo at lola na may mga karamdaman.

Katuwang ng DOH sa pagpapaigting ng vaccination program ang National Commission for Senior Citizens.

Ayon kay Atty. Franklin Quijano, ang pinuno ng komisyon, marami sa kanilang hanay ang gusto nang magpaturok pero ang problema, maraming lugar sa bansa ang limitado ang supply ng bakuna.

“We understand kasi na ang inuuna ngayon Metro Manila at ang mga lugar na may medyo mataas ang rates ng COVID, so in which case maraming nagrereklamo po sa mga areas na medyo hindi pa nabibigyan ng bakuna dahil nga po hindi pa dumarating ang mga bakuna,” ani Quijano.

“We would like to assure you marami po talagang senior citizens ang gustong magpabakuna ang problema nga lang hindi pa dumarating ang suplay dahil meron tayong priority areas,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, sang-ayon ang DOH sa pahayag ng World Health Organization (WHO) na bilisan pa ang pagpapabakuna sa mga senior citizen lalo’t mayorya ng mga Pilipinong namamatay sa COVID-19 ay pawang mga may edad na.

“Alam po natin na talaga po all those people more than 60 years old, they actually account for more than 60 percent ng mga namamatay sa COVID-19 dito sa ating bansa,” ang pahayag ni Ho.

“Yung percentage po na namamatay na senior citizens tumataas habang tumaas po yung kanilang edad,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang inirekomenda ng WHO na gawing prayoridad sa pagbabakuna ang mga senior citizen at may comorbidites upang mapigilan ang pagka-puno ng mga ospital ng mga pasyenteng may malalang kaso ng COVID-19. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Marvin Calas)

9 na rehiyon sa bansa, may local cases ng Delta COVID-19 variant — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Umaabot na sa siyam na rehiyon sa bansa ang nakapagtala ng local cases ng Delta COVID-19 variant, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Batay sa monitoring ng ahensiya, naitala ang mga ito sa Ilocos region, National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao at Davao.

Ayon kay Dr. Alethea de Guzman, Director 3 ng DOH Epidemiology Bureau, nasa 165 ang naitalang local cases mula sa 216 kabuuang kaso ng Delta variant sa bansa.

Sa mga carrier nito, 190 na ang gumaling habang siyam naman ang nasawi.

“Nakakatakot po but with correct messaging we can alleviate the panic that people and all sectors are experiencing because of this,” ani De Guzman.

Bagama’t dumarami ang kaso ng Delta variant sa Pilipinas, sinabi ng DOH na pinakamataas pa rin ang naitatalang kaso ng Beta variant na unang natuklasan sa South Africa.

Ngunit naniniwala ang mga eksperto na posibleng may undetected cases ng Delta variant dahil na rin sa limitadong kapasidad ng bansa sa genome sequencing.

Ayon kay De Guzman, sa ngayon ay nasa moderate risk classification ang Pilipinas dahil umabot na sa 50 porsiyento ng health system capacity ang okupado. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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