Nationwide round-up (11/12/20)


Duterte calls for stronger ASEAN collaboration on health, recovery program

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo R. Duterte called on fellow leaders in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen collaboration on health security and labor resiliency in response to the coronavirus crisis. “We have to strengthen our health systems by ensuring the unimpeded supply of medical supplies and technologies, and by enhancing early warning systems for health emergencies,” he said in his intervention speech at the plenary session of the 37th ASEAN Virtual Summit on Thursday. Mr. Duterte pushed for the immediate passage of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases. The President also said the region should make its coronavirus response and economic recovery program “people-centered” by focusing on the labor force affected by the global pandemic. “The massive displacement of workers, including migrant workers, compels us to upskill and reskill our labor force. We must equip our people for a rapidly evolving labor market under the new normal,” he said. The Philippines has been designated chair of the ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council. — Gillian M. Cortez

Senate suspends budget hearings due to typhoon, to resume Monday

THE Senate suspended Thursday’s 2021 budget deliberation after typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) caused power disruption at the Senate building. “I have decided to suspend the session until Monday, 10 am,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told reporters over phone message. Mr. Sotto said retired MGen. Rene C. Samonte, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, reported the power transformer blew up three times due to strong winds and heavy rain. Telephone lines and internet service at the building was also affected, he said. Wednesday’s plenary debates on the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 was also suspended due to the typhoon, in line with Malacanang’s directive to suspend work and classes. The chamber was scheduled to resume deliberation on the budget of the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, and the National Economic and Development Authority, among other agencies. It has so far concluded interpellations on the budget of the Office of the President, Office of the Vice President, State Universities and Colleges, except the University of the Philippines and some agencies under the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Science and Technology. The Senate resumed session a week ahead of the House of Representatives to ensure the timely passage of the 2021 spending plan. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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