PH inflation further eases to 3.3% in March

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2019   •   2018

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s inflation further eased in March as increases in prices of food and beverages slowed for the fifth month in a row, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday (April 5).

Latest PSA data showed that the inflation rate in March decelerated to 3.3 percent, much slower than 3.8 percent recorded in February and the lowest since January 2018 at 3.4 percent.

The PSA said the slower pace of increases in goods and services was driven by lower costs of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Downtrend in price increases in alcoholic beverages, tobacco; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; furnishing, household equipment, and house routine maintenance; health, communication; and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services were also noted by the PSA.

In a statement, Malacañang welcomed the slower inflation, promising that the slide would continue this year.

“We are confident that this slide would continue further for the rest of the year, as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s signing of Republic Act 11203 (Rice Tariffication Law) last February is expected to further ease inflation,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“Our economic managers expect rice prices to go down and even cut inflation by 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent point this year,” he added.

Panelo also assured that the government will continue to look for ways to counter possible increase in prices of basic goods due to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon in the country.

“The Government, however, would not be complacent and has been vigilant in keeping a close watch on the prices of goods and commodities with the onslaught of El Nino, which may hamper food production,” he said.

The government also calls on the public to preserve water supply, not only in agriculture but also in daily consumption, “to increase our resiliency against this extreme weather phenomenon.”

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also echoed Malacañang’s call.

“The latest inflation outturn is consistent with the BSP’s expectations that inflation will continue to settle within the target range for 2019 and 2020. However, the possibility of a stronger and prolonged El Niño episode together with the continued rise in global crude oil prices provide upside price pressures over the near term,” the BSP said in a statement.

The PH central bank also warned that a potential slowdown in economic activity amid the delayed passage of budget could pose some risks to inflation. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Palace sees eased quarantine restriction in NCR Plus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus might ease next week.

On Thursday, Roque announced that community quarantine classification in NCR Plus might ease beginning June 15 due to the low attack rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and health care utilization rate. He reported that the hospital care utilization in Metro Manila remains very low or at 53% in ICU beds.

“I would say in fact that based on the figures, Metro Manila Plus might be looking at de-escalation. It might not be to modified general community quarantine [MGCQ] but it could be to ordinary general community quarantine [GCQ] because ang GCQ natin ngayon ay mayroon pang restrictions (because the current GCQ still has restrictions),” he said.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will discuss whether to  reopen gyms and fitness centers.

The NCR Plus, which includes Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, is currently under GCQ with restrictions until June 15. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace says Duterte welcomes suggestion to amend Baselines Law

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes the suggestion to amend the Baselines Law, according to Malacañang.

At a virtual public briefing on Thursday (June 10), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Office of the President will thoroughly review the suggestion of retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza to amend the country’s Baseline Law.

“He [Duterte] immediately asked that it be subjected to complete staff work and he was very appreciative of the suggestion,” he said.

“It is subjected now to complete staff work because the request is for it to be certified it as urgent and I made an additional request that if the president so agrees, then it should also be included in the SONA [State of the Nation Address] para malakas ang mensahe sa Kongreso na this will really become a priority bill, (for a stronger message to Congress that this will become a priority bill),” Roque added.

Jardeleza wrote to the President suggesting to amend the Baseline Law in order to define the 128 maritime features in the West Philippine Sea. He said this is a way to enforce the Hague Ruling, which the Philippines won against China in 2016.

Under the Republic Act No. 9522 or the Philippine Baseline Law, the Philippines has sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

Meanwhile, Roque also agrees with amending the said law.

“Isa sa pinakamalakas na ebidensya ng soberanya ay ang batas na kumbaga nagdidikit sa Kalayaan Group of Islands sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas sa pamamaraan na sang-ayon po sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” he said.

(One of the strongest evidence of sovereignty is a law that would put the Kalayaan Group of Islands under Philippine territory in a manner that conforms with UNCLOS.)  AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace calls for enforcement of environmental laws after Pasig River tops list of plastic polluters

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Malacañang on Thursday (June 10) reiterated the need to implement environmental laws after Pasig River and 18 other rivers in the country made it to the world’s top 50 polluting rivers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the report is a test of the country’s law enforcement capability.

The Palace official lamented that the sad state of Pasig River has been a perennial problem and past attempts to rehabilitate Pasig River have fallen through.

“Kailangan pong ipatupad ang ating existing laws, ipatupad ang mga obligasyon ng mga water concessionaire agreements na magakroon talaga ng waste water treatment at ipatupad ang pagbabawal ng water discharge na nakakasira ng kalikasan diyan sa Pasig River,” he said.

Rotterdam-based Ocean Cleanup has released a scientific study which estimates that 1000 rivers are accountable for nearly 80% of global annual riverine plastic emissions. It also listed Pasig River as the world’s most polluting river when it comes to plastic waste. Pasig River accounts for 63,000 tons of plastic entering oceans from rivers per year.

Roque hopes that this  “badge of dishonor”, will push the government to make radical changes in addressing the cleanup of Pasig River. AAC

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