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National Business News

Nationwide round-up (11/02/20)

nationwide round up 11 02 20 816x468 - Nationwide round-up (11/02/20)

Duterte visits typhoon-hit area

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte on Monday conducted an aerial inspection of areas devastated by typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni), and made a stop at one of the hardest hit towns, Guinobatan, in Albay province. He made the visit a day after drawing criticisms over his absence on Sunday’s meeting of the national disaster management council. In a briefing on Monday, Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, defended Mr. Duterte’s absence on Sunday saying the President has the “luxury” to be absent during these meetings as both the national and local government units are delivering the emergency response measures. Senator Christopher T. Go, a former aide of the President and accompanied him on the trip, said Mr. Duterte has instructed concerned agencies to conduct an investigation on alleged quarrying operations in the area that residents complained about. — Gillian M. Cortez

Galvez authorized to negotiate for COVID-19 vaccine

SECRETARY CARLITO G. Galvez, Jr., who has been functioning as chief implementer of the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response program, has been authorized by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to be the lead in the procurement and distribution of vaccines. The President made the announcement Monday afternoon during a televised meeting with Cabinet members on response measures for typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni). “Dito sa task force, ang pagbili ng bakuna, the negotiation, manufacture, production or distribution is binigay ko yan kay (Here in the task force, the buying of the vaccines, the negotiation, manufacture, production or distribution will be assigned to) Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate,” Mr. Duterte said. The President said he has “great faith” in Mr. Galvez, a retired military general who is appointed secretary for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, to “really come up with the solutions for the problem.” Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque confirmed to reporters in a message on Monday evening that Mr. Galvez was named “vaccine czar” earlier but an official announcement was withheld. Mr. Duterte said he wants one person responsible for the vaccine task because making a new “committee” will prolong the process. — Gillian M. Cortez 

Solon pushed for bill strengthening Justice department

REPRESENTATIVE NAEALLA  Bainto-Aguinaldo of the Bahay Party-list on Monday called on her House colleagues to pass the bill that will address the Justice department’s “undermanned” legal staff following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s recent order for a government-wide anti-corruption drive. Ms. Aguinaldo said House Bill No. 7828 or the State Counsel Act will strengthen the Department of Justice (DoJ) and boost its capacity to perform its various functions. “The sad reality is that government lawyers in the DoJ are spread too thin; dumadami trabaho, pero di dumadami ang abogado (their tasks are increasing but not the lawyers),” Ms. Aguinaldo, a former DoJ official, said in a statement. HB7828 creates an Office of the Chief State Counsel and increases the number of DoJ’s lawyers to 110 from 60. Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Monday clarified that the DoJ will also investigate complaints about corrupt practices involving smaller amounts of money “but with high impact on the delivery of government service to the people.” In a statement, he explained that the “P1 billion threshold is just a guideline in our setting of priorities. Our secretariat/operations center, which we are presently organizing, will soon embark on identifying these corrupt transactions and practices based on available materials and information to be drawn from the public.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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