March 3, 2021

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

The PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters are making their way back to the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).

In an announcement made on Wednesday, the team said that after six years it will once again call the PVL home.

“It definitely feels like a revival for our team since it feels good to be back home” said PLDT and SMART Head of Sports Jude Turcuato in a statement.

“With our campaign in PLDT which is ‘the strongest connections are at home,’ it was about time that we go back to our roots which is the PVL. It’s just refreshing to have a new beginning,” he added.

PLDT Home last played in the V-League (the forerunner of the PVL) back in 2015.

It made a huge wave that season, as the team, known then as the Ultra Fast Hitters, won both the Season 12 Open … Read the rest


One of the major initiatives of President Cory Aquino in restoring our democratic institutions was pushing for and signing the Local Government Code of 1991. The idea was to bring the government closer to the people. She had already succeeded in restoring free elections, the Congress and local governments. There was a new Constitution in place. During the Marcos era, the government was so centralized that often people would go to Manila and implore then-Minister of Human Settlements Imelda Marcos to give them a water well. Local governments have indeed gained more power. It is 30 years since then; yet many of the decentralization provisions have not been complied with.

The Lower House, which drafts the budget appropriations has not adequately provided funding for health concerns to the local governments. This has burdened the provincial municipalities which have assumed responsibility for operating health centers and hospitals; and are now, because … Read the rest


WELLINGTON — The mayor of Auckland called for residents to be prioritized for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines after New Zealand’s biggest city was thrown into its fourth pandemic lockdown over the weekend.

The seven-day lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on a city of 2 million was prompted by just a single new COVID-19 case, reinforcing the New Zealand leader’s strict “go hard, go early” response throughout the crisis.

That approach has been credited with making New Zealand one of the most successful countries in the world at controlling the spread of the coronavirus, but the latest shutdown has been criticized by some on social media.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the city would lose an estimated 200 jobs and more than NZ$30 million ($21.7 million) per day under the level 3 restrictions.

“We need the vaccine roll-out to be prioritized in Auckland to help avoid future lockdowns, Read the rest


BEIJING – China’s factory activity expanded in February at a slower pace than a month earlier, hitting the lowest level since last May and missing market expectations after brief COVID-19-related disruptions earlier in the year.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 50.6 from 51.3 in January, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Sunday, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

Analysts had expected it to decline to 51.1.

Chinese factory activity normally goes dormant during the Lunar New Year break as workers return to their home towns. This year, the government appealed to workers to remain local to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Generally, China’s economic recovery has been gathering pace due to robust exports, pent-up demand and government stimulus.

The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, showed the sub-index for new export orders was 48.8 … Read the rest


President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday night signed a measure creating a levy trust fund for coconut farmers, according to the presidential palace.

Republic Act 115421 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act seeks to declare coconut levy assets as a trust fund to rehabilitate and modernize the country’s coconut industry.

The measure lets poor coconut farmers benefit from taxes collected from them decades ago, now worth about P76 billion.

Under the law, the use of the trust fund will be based on a development plan prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority, which must consult coconut farmers and their organizations, industry associations, civil society groups and government agencies about the use of the money.

The Treasury bureau must transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year, P10 billion in the second year, P15 billion in the third year, P15 billion in the fourth year and … Read the rest


The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) said it supports the passage of a measure that will improve its ability to finance countryside development projects.

“The proposed amendments to the DBP Charter would be a boon to our efforts to undertake more developmental projects especially in the countryside, where these types of economic interventions are most sorely needed,” DBP President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel G. Herbosa said in a statement Friday.

Mr. Herbosa said the pending legislation that will amend its charter is House Bill 8454, introduced in January by Quirino Representative and Chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries Junie E. Cua. It is being discussed at committee level.

The charter amendments will enable the bank to expand its offering of financial products and services and authorize it to engage in non-traditional modes of financing businesses while enhancing its ability to comply with risk-based banking … Read the rest


AFTER sitting on the sidelines as the US and Europe plowed headlong into vaccinating against COVID-19, the part of the world that contained the coronavirus most successfully is finally starting to administer shots.

Hong Kong began its program in the Asian financial hub on Monday, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam getting inoculated with Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s product. Japan, Australia and New Zealand have started vaccinating priority groups with shots from Pfizer, Inc.-BioNTech SE and AstraZeneca Plc. Malaysia kicked off its drive on Wednesday, South Korea is due on Friday and Thailand is preparing for a few days later.

The region’s economic powerhouses and developing nations are jumping in one after another, after watching for months as desperate Western nations snatched up supply. With the coronavirus mostly contained throughout much of Asia, governments have had the luxury to wait and see how safely and effectively these rapidly developed vaccines can … Read the rest


FACEBOOK, INC. went on the offensive last week, banning Australian news organizations from posting links to their work on the social media giant’s platform. Facebook, which also blocked users from sharing the links, punched back after the Australian government proposed a law requiring it to pay publishers when links to their content appear on its site.

The move was gutsy — and brazen. In addition to blocking larger, traditional publishers in Australia, it also cut off sites offering public health information, assistance for victims of domestic violence, the national weather service and other niche providers. Facebook has endured years of criticism for its privacy practices, for a muscular presence so ubiquitous it has invited federal and state antitrust lawsuits, and for allowing disinformation and extremism to flourish on its feeds, undermining democracy. Most companies might walk softly amid all of that. Not Facebook.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship … Read the rest


HANOI – Vietnam’s government said on Tuesday health workers, diplomats and military personnel would be among the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the country starts its inoculation programme next month.

The Southeast Asian country with a population of 98 million said it will receive 60 million vaccine doses this year, including half under the WHO-led COVAX scheme.

In the first quarter of 2021, Vietnam aims to inoculate 500,000 medical staff and 116,000 others directly involved in the fight against the pandemic, the government said in a statement.

Vietnam was lauded globally for containing the virus for months using mass testing and strict quarantining, though has faced a recent new wave of infections.

Late last month, Vietnam approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use days after the country detected the first locally transmitted cases in nearly two months.

The government said previously it was in talks with Russian and … Read the rest


Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam appealed to all residents to take the vaccine following her vaccination. File photo/Reuters

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam received China’s Sinovac vaccine on Monday together with top officials at a live televised event to bolster public confidence ahead of the vaccine’s rollout in the global financial hub this week.

Sinovac is the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine to be introduced in Hong Kong, ahead of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine set to arrive in the Chinese special administrative region before the end of February.

The city’s vaccine rollout has lagged other developed cities and is far behind mainland China which started last July.

Ms. Lam, dressed in a white t-shirt, was filmed receiving the first vaccine in a center set up at Hong Kong’s central library. Her cabinet ministers including Health Secretary Sophia Chan and Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung lined up Read the rest