Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The PH econ contraction of the mid-80s, Marcos govt, and UPSE batch 1984

It is campaign period and the son of former President Ferdinand "Macoy" Marcos, Bongbong Marcos (BBM) is running for President in the coming May 2022 elections. Marcos was PH President from 1965 to 1985, 20 years. Martial Law and civilian-military dictatorship was 1972-83, ML officially "lifted" in 1983 but many political restrictions still in place.

Many supporters of the Marcos family spread the story that the economy was nice and humming during the Marcos period. Hmmm... fake news, beehhh. See for instance the numbers in GDP growth.

Yesterday, a friend and batchmate at the UP School of Economics (UPSE) posted this reminder from two officials of the Cory government then.

Mid 80s, GDP contraction of -7.3% in 2004-2005, People Power revolution in 1986, Honasan-Enrile bloody coups in 1987-89, big Luzon earthquake in 1990, Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991,...

It was a mixture of nature-made and man-made catastrophe. Nature, the EQ and volcano eruption. Man-made, the killing of Bataan nuke plant in 1986 with zero alternative, hence the daily Earth Hours, up to 12 hours a day in 1990-91. The militarist coups of 87-89 were hang-over of the rule of guns and decree, not rule of law, that Gringo Honasan and his buddies at the PMA, their political backers, have gotten used to. Shame on them.

Our generation in UP was a melting pot. 1983 murder of Ninoy Aquino, lots of rallies in UP and outside UP in 1983-85 that I joined as I belonged to two organizations, UP ETC (Economics Towards Consciousness) and UP Sapul (Samahan sa Agham Pampulitika). I also have many activist dormmates and friends when I was staying at Narra dormitory. 1984-85 was heavy finance and economic bleeding as described above by Sec. Estanislao and Gov. Cuisia. 1986 was the "rewarding" with Cory in power. 

My UPSE Batch 84, hah, it is legendary.
Here, the batch 25th anniversary, Silver Jubilarians in 2009 UPSE reunion. Lots of good looking boys and girls after 25 years. I'm partially covered at the back, beside Ricky Ongkiko and Gene Mercado, aww.

The UPSE Student Council (UPSESC) chairman in SY 1983-84 was Christian Garcia. Tall, mestizo, gwapo, matalino, inglesero, could easily match another mestizo gwapo inglesero David Celdran, a famous UP student leader than.

Vice Chairman was Buddy Angeles. Pinoy na Pinoy, medyo maitim, always smiling and approachable. Christian and Buddy team was a hit. I think they have no opposition at UPSESC election.

The duo would occasionally, not regularly, led some UPSE students in joining anti Marcos rallies in UP and outside, ayos na yon.

Then the intellectual giants of the batch. Popo Suanes as summa cum laude, the first summa of UPSE. Several magna cum laude including Aleli Dela Paz-kraft, Butch Arroyo. I was really wondering how Popo could get so many 1.0 to 1.25 grades while I was literally crawling in many subjects, my average grade in college was 2.2, I think, not even a Dean's List.

Of these batchmates, I am particularly indebted to the kindness of Butch Arroyo -- an Econ. Professor at Johns Hopkins Univ. in Washington DC. We were not close in UP then, he belonged to UP Ecosoc (Economics Society) while I belonged to UP ETC. But Butch was a member of pilipinasforum@yahoogroups that I formed and co-moderated in the late 90s to mid-2000s, there were lots of long discussions and even frequent fireworks in debates so we got to know each other more.

When I went to the US a few times to attend various conference, when I would be in Washington DC, I asked Butch if he could host me few days so I can roam around without spending extra in a hotel. Three times I asked him (2004, 2009, 2017) and three times he said Yes. Really cool and good guy. Thanks mucho, Butch. My forever gratefulness.

When I went to Houston around 2010, post conference I was hosted by my former officemates, Glo and Ronald Villanueva, UPSE alumni too but younger batches. Christian Garcia and his wife, Mayette Cuisia-Garcia also of batch 84, visited me at the Villanueva residence. They also live in Houston but in another suburb, Christian was an executive officer at a big energy company. I was very happy that they visited me.

My friends in UP ETC, many of them in the US and Australia. Jim Villar (batch 84) and Joey Dayao (batch 85) hosted me for a day and night of tour and drinks after my conference in LA in 2009. 

Larry Lara (batch 84) and Debbie Flores-Abundo (batch 83) hosted me two nights when I went to Sydney for a conference in 2008. When I went back to Sydney in 2019, Mario Tiong (batch 83) hosted me two nights too. Yes, a good way to "exploit" my friends, hehh.

The last UPSE alumni reunion was 2019. I attended all school reunions for the past 10-15 years, great way to catch up with friends and former classmates decades ago. And since there were always lots of beer and alcohol at the reunion, I would gulp lots of these drinks while dancing at performance of live bands, I would not bring my car and would hitch a ride with Ricky Zialcita and he would drive me home in Makati, several times. Thanks, Ricky. 

These ugly lockdowns of two years made happy wacky reunions impossible. The militarists, politicians and bureaucrats in charge of these lockdowns are perhaps fans of Marcos the dictator, ewww.

See also:
UPSEAA Lecture 7, Dr. Butch Arroyo, October 17, 2020

Friday, January 21, 2022

Agri Econ 36, High beef, wheat, coffee, ammonia and fertilizer prices

Beef prices now at all-time high. Wheat also at 9-years high, and coffee at 10+ years high.

Consider ammonia, a key ingredient of fertilizer. Natural gas is needed to produce ammonia and energy from fossil fuels to mine phosphate. Ammonia + phosphate are needed to make fertilizer, which is needed for mass food production. 

Global ammonia prices surge on European natural gas cost push
Author Vipul Garg 
Editor James Leech 
16 December 2021

European ammonia prices highest globally, at $1,120/mt
Middle East prices up 90.48% since Oct. 12, fastest among all regions
The rise in European ammonia prices can mainly be attributed to the rise in natural gas prices since the summer months, with for instance the Dutch TTF day-ahead prices closing on Dec. 15 at $42.91/MMBtu, an all-time high.
"European ammonia plants are being shut down with the feedstock (natural gas) prices rising due to lower supply from Russia and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline situation still unclear," one buyer in Asia said.

My farmer godson in Pangasinan told me these prices last week:
Urea (46-0-0) price P950/bag around March-May 2020, this January 2022 P2,600. 
Triple 14 NPK (ie, 14-14-14) from P850/bag last year now P2,500. 
Sulfate formerly PP580/bag now P1,400.

One clear result of tripling of fertilizer prices -- less farmers planting rice for 3rd crop, or those who plant corn as 3rd crop dry months not doing it. And diesel for tractors, harvesters, water pumps, etc. been rising, so farm operating cost also rises.

We expect more food inflation in the coming months.
Fossil fuel prices should decline. Humanity needs more fossil fuels for mass food production, have food security with stable and affordable prices.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

BWorld 523, Philippines’ monthly birth and death data show that indefinite lockdown and mass vaccination are wrong

* My column in BusinessWorld last January 10.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released the updated monthly vital statistics last week, on Jan. 6, and many numbers are interesting or shocking.

One, births are declining and this decline is accelerating. From an average of 139,500 births a month in 2019, it went down to 127,400/month in 2020 and 101,400/month in January-September 2021. So, there were nearly 150,000 fewer births in 2020 compared with 2019, and there will be around 300,000 fewer births in 2021 than 2020.

Two, there were fewer marriages in 2020 due to the strict lockdown. On average there were 40,000 marriages/month in 2019, then there was a drastic decline to only 20,065 in 2020, with the biggest decline in April-May 2020 with only 866 and 4,135 marriages, respectively. Economic and health/psychological stress must have also contributed to fewer babies for young married couples.

Three, there was a big rise in the number of deaths in 2021 when mass vaccination started. From an average of 51,694 deaths per month in 2019, this declined slightly to 51,156/month in 2020, then went up to 55,244/month in the first two months of 2021. By March, when mass vaccination started, the number reached 61,484, the first time in Philippine history that deaths have exceeded the 58,000 mark. From there, it has been rising to nearly 94,000 in August and 103,000 deaths in September 2021.

Four, there was excess mortality of 19,500/month from March to July 2021 over same period in 2020. This went up to 37,000 in August and 49,000 in September, when some 33.7 million vax doses were already given in August (+14.35M over July) and 45.6 M doses in September (see Table 1).

This is not COVID-related excess mortality because the total number of COVID deaths were only 5,559 in August 2021 and 4,846 in September.

The incumbent President of Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC Ph), Dr. Homer Lim, made this good observation: “The Philippine statistics on death and birth rates are quite alarming. Year 2021 was gloomy, excess deaths have topped 49,000 in September alone and we haven’t yet included the last quarter. What factors could have caused this sudden alarming surge in deaths? It is certainly not COVID deaths, so could this be due to people afraid of COVID that they have neglected their other illnesses, or could this be a reflection of vaccine related deaths?”

And the former CDC Ph President Dr. Benigno “Iggy” Agbayani, Jr. offered a good course of action: “These statistics on deaths and births have a huge implication on the longest, most expensive and tyrannical health protocols our country has ever tried. Unbridled lockdowns and experimental vaccinations are the most likely suspects in this sudden high deaths and low birth rates. An investigation by independent and credible experts on this life and death anomaly should be launched as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released last week the General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2022 as signed by the President in December. I list below the big budget items and some new items there.

One, in the Allocation to local government units (ALGUs), the previous Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) has been renamed National Tax Allotment (NTA) in GAA 2022. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) block grant is also added.

Two, in the Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF) in 2022, I included the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF).

In Table 2, note the huge increase in approved vs. proposed budget 2022 for the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Health, and state universities and colleges. And a huge decline in approved vs. proposed budget for the Department of Education, Pension and Gratuity Fund, Government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), and Department of Transportation.

Philippine government spending on health is actually huge and more than double the Department of Health’s (DoH) budget. See here in GAA 2022:

1.) DoH budget, P183.89 billion (including DoH hospitals, COVID vaccine booster shots P2.79 billion)

2.) DoH attached corporations, P85.86 billion (including PhilHealth P79.99 billion)

3.) Unprogrammed Appropriations (UA), P120.25 billion, of which:

– Procurement of COVID vaccine booster shots, P45.37 billion,

– Compensation and other benefits for COVID workers in health facilities, P42 billion,

– Operations of DoH Metro Manila and regional hospitals, P12.5 billion,

– COVID laboratory network commodities, P9.80 billion

– Health Facilities Enhancement Program, P4.04 billion

4.) Hospitals by other agencies, at least P10 billion:

– The University of the Philippines’ Philippine General Hospital (PGH), P6.30 billion,

– The Department of National Defense’s Veterans Memorial Medical Center, P2.35 billion,

– Other SUCs hospitals (West Visayas State University Medical Center…)

So P183.89 billion + P85.86 billion + P120.25 billion + P10 billion (at least) = P400 billion. Not included here are health spending by: a.) government gambling corporations (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office), b.) by other national agencies as they have their own medical and dental centers, and, c.) by LGUs as many of them have their own provincial hospitals, city hospitals, on top of their LGU health centers.

Now, the number of COVID cases are at an all-time high (28,700 on Jan. 9), the bulk of which are in Metro Manila, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benjamin Abalos has declared that the vaccination rate in the National Capital Region as of Jan. 4 was already 106% of target population — this is additional proof that vaccines have little function to control infections and protect the public. People have to rely on natural immunity and stronger immune systems to protect them from severe symptoms.

The implicit forced vaccination orders issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases under its Resolution 148, by the MMDA issued last week, and by many LGUs should stop. Not only for being unconstitutional but also for their questionable health impact.

See also:
BWorld 520, Seven trends in COVID cases, vaccination, and causes of death, December 30, 2021
BWorld 521, Europe’s blackout economics and the Philippines’ path to brownouts, December 31, 2021 
BWorld 522, Top 10 economic news of 2021, January 09, 2022.

Covid 66, CDC Ph Press Statement on SP Sotto and PAO Chief Acosta defense of unvaccinated people

CDC Ph lauds SP Sotto, PAO chief for defending rights of unvaccinated individuals
January 20, 2021

The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines recently praised Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta for speaking up for the rights of unvaccinated individuals.

CDC Ph president Dr. Homer Lim said that the country urgently needs people like Sotto and Acosta, who are willing to openly defend the unvaccinated, a group that has been the target of discriminatory policies from goverment.

“The reason there’s an equal protection clause in the Constitution is to ensure that the majority cannot bully the minority,” Lim said. “But that’s exactly what’s happening now. First it was no vax, no work; now it’s no vax, no ride; in the end it will be no vax, no rights.”

Sotto attends CDC Ph weekly huddle

Sotto recently attended a weekly huddle organized by CDC Ph to hear out the sentiments of concerned citizens, who requested the solon to raise the issue of unconstitutional mandates and policies on the Senate floor.

Sotto described current ordinances and executive orders targeted at unvaccinated individuals as “at the very least, debatable.”

He promised to tackle these concerns in the Senate as soon as it can be accommodated in the body’s official calendar.

Sotto also invited representatives of CDC Ph to contribute to legislative discussions when he delivers a privilege speech either to the appropriate Senate committee or the committee of the whole.

“My call to government is to concentrate more on prevention and treatment. I think this is a very good answer to what we’re experiencing right now,” he added.

PAO Chief airs appeal to LGUs

Meanwhile, PAO Chief Persida Acosta, in a video widely shared over Facebook, appealed to local government units not to discriminate against unvaccinated individuals.

“There is no law making vaccination mandatory, so let’s not take away the right to work away from unvaccinated individuals,” Acosta said. “Our bodies are a gift from God, so only the individual has the right to make decisions about their body.” 

Acosta also asked barangay officials to refrain from violence and remember that both the vaccinated and unvaccinated enjoy equal rights and protections under  the law.


January 10, 2022


We believe we must call the attention of our health and other officials for two serious miscalculations they are committing, unwittingly fuelling the spread of the virus.

First is the continuing mass vaccination/boostering in the midst of an outbreak. With a 44% positivity rate, that means that almost every other individual in a crowd seeking vaccination may carry the virus. Most of these are either asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms they don’t attribute to Covid-19. It’s never sound medicine to administer vaccination during a massive infectious outbreak. It will not prevent the current surge since the antibodies will be formed two weeks after vaccination. Meanwhile they were likely exposed to the virus during the vaccination and there’s a strong possibility they will develop the disease, instead of preventing it.

In the last two weeks, many patients developed Covid-19 within a week of their vaccination or boostering, and the infected individual also infected the whole family and household. So it’s possible the mass vaccination is contributory to the omicron spread. It has also been established that this variant can escape vaccine immunity, as shown by increased breakthrough rates in those who received full vaccination or booster shots in Israel and United Kingdom. So there’s no rationale for rushing the boostering or primary vaccination to prevent omicron infection.

The second grave miscalculation is restricting the movements of those who are unvaccinated, including those with previous infection.

Multiple studies have already shown that with the delta, and likely much more so with the omicron, the viral loads in both the fully vaccinated and the unvaccinated are similar or equivalent, suggesting that their potential to infect others is of similar risk. 

Furthermore, it’s safe to assume that the vaccinated, who are generally asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic  are unwittingly infecting more people than the unvaccinated, who are generally more symptomatic; hence, they stay home and isolate themselves. Meanwhile, their asymptomatic and vaccinated counterparts go around, doing their usual activities, without realizing they’re infecting many others they come in contact with. Many vaccinated individuals also have the false impression and confidence that they’re protected by the vaccines so they can let their guard down with regards to safety protocols, unlike the unvaccinated, who remain conscious of their susceptibility to Covid-19 and need for strict adherence to prescribed health protocols. A case in point is the case of the Poblacion girl.

So, urgent actions we recommend our health officials may consider to take, are the following:

Immediately suspend mass vaccination in hotbed areas.

Advise those who get vaccinated to remain in quarantine for 5 days.

Educate the public on the equal potential to get infected and infect others, in both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Educate the public on early treatment protocols that can be immediately taken to relieve symptoms, boost the immune system and enhance elimination of virus. Early diagnostic (rapid antigen testing) and treatment kits should be provided to indigent barangays. 

Provide free, or make readily available at a controlled pricing rapid antigen testing for home use. This will reduce hospital and clinic consultations, and prevent congestion that can lead to an artificial healthcare exhaustion. More teleconsultations by volunteer doctors should also be made available.

Recall any directive, ordinances or resolutions discriminating against the unvaccinated, inflicting much harm on their physical and mental health.

Reassure the public that this omicron surge will soon be over and there is no need to panic and hoard on medicines. Data from other countries suggest that only 1-2 out of 1,000 Covid-19 patients with the omicron variant may die from it. The risk of dying from it is similar to the ordinary flu. The good news is that those who get infected with it will develop an “updated” natural immunity to Covid-19, which is most likely superior to what any current vaccines could provide.

Dean, FLA

Dean Emeritus, FLA

See also:
Covid 63, No Tricks Zone on vaccine and medical tyranny, December 25, 2021
Covid 64, All-time high new Covid cases in high-vax countries, December 30, 2021
Covid 65, CDC Ph Statement on MMDA lockdown of unvaxxed, New all-time high cases, January 08, 2022.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Weekend Fun 81, Sic o'clock News - Rewind

A beautiful article was published today, thank you, Jerome.

Inside Sic O’ Clock News: ‘Crazy was not enough. We had to be weird too’
JEROME GOMEZ | Jan 10 2022

Born 35 years ago, the groundbreaking show parodied the evening news program, delivering the week’s real life news stories with humor, wit, and balls to match.

In January 1987, Marilou would prove Mother wrong: “Sic O’ Clock News” premiered on national television. It was an hour-long news show parody that poked fun at current events and the personalities that made the political landscape sizzle. It was funny. It was obnoxious. But, yes, it was serious, too—as in seriously hard-hitting. It found a way to make us laugh at everything that’s happening around us while making sure we are reminded of the corrupt government official we shouldn’t vote for in the next elections, and the abusadong kapitalista we shouldn’t be working for.

The show was headlined by Jaime “Jimmy” Fabregas and Ces Quesada, who played eccentric news anchors Sonny Esguerra and Lilliane Polly Katubusan Labaybay. Unlike ordinary news readers, Sonny and Lilliane were always outrageously costumed, they would bicker with each other in front of the cameras, and made it known what they thought of this or that politician with a well-timed eye roll, a quick ismid, or a snide remark. 

They would tape a new episode at the old Broadcast City on a Wednesday—from past noon to 5AM the next day. It took this long because, in the show’s need to be constantly current and relevant, they need to produce “flash reports” that would reflect what’s happening in the real news cycle. Recalls Ces: “We were like real reporters.” 

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent in the editing room. “I would hang out in editing because of possible voice overs that needed to get done,” the actress continues. “Sometimes we would just hang with the VTR guys and keep them company while they rummage through a mountain of tapes for our clips.” 

In the beginning, the Sic O’ Clock family was just the creative team, with Jaime and Ces in front of the camera—and a pato. “Pato as in duck,” says Ces. “Naglalakad sa set. Minsan inaaway ni Jimmy [Jaime] habang nag-eeditorial.” 

Ces and Jaime, apart from being “newsreaders” would play other characters. Ces would take on “Presidentita,” the show’s moniker for Cory Aquino. Jaime would play personalities befitting his looks, from Uncle Sam to whoever was tisoy politico of the hour. But he always went back to playing news anchor Sonny Esguerra, who the actor describes as an absurd character. “Very boisterous, very loud type of guy, very opinionated. Somebody who if you met in the street you probably won’t like.” 

It was inevitable that the Sic O’ Clock family would eventually recruit more members: there were more issues to tackle, more personalities to parody, and there needed to be, after all, a point of view of the “taumbayan.” So enter Manny Castañeda, Wilson Go (who would famously spoof Cardinal Sin), Jon Achaval (the Howhowrel to Ces’s Presidentita), Joji Isla (an excellent Marcurakus), Celeste Bueno, Dinna Padilla, Errol Dionisio, Ching Arellano, Khryss Adalia, and Rene Requiestas. The poet Domingo Landicho would join the cast, too, along with Nonoy Oplas and Noni Buencamino, eventually....

Meanwhile, here are some uploaded YT clips:

Other clips:

See also:
Weekend fun 19: Sic o Clock News, June 19, 2011
Weekend Fun 55: Sic O'Clock News, Again., June 15, 2014
Weekend Fun 56: Some Photos at Sic O'clock News, July 5, 2014

Weekend Fun 78, Pres-VP pairs for 2022, June 13, 2021 
Weekend Fun 79, Ang Ano, by PRRD, August 29, 2021
Weekend Fun 80, Political jokes for 2022 elections, October 10, 2021.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

BWorld 522, Top 10 economic news of 2021

* My article in BusinessWorld, January 3, 2022.

This column is a list of the significant economic events of last year.

1. In the top 50 largest economies in the world by GDP size, the five worst performing and deepest GDP contractions in 2020 were: Spain with -10.8%, followed by Argentina -9.9%, the UK -9.8%, the Philippines -9.6%, and Italy -8.9%. Final 2020 data with projections for 2021-2025 were released by the IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) in October 2021.

2. Of the top 50, only seven countries managed to grow and escape contraction in 2020, four of which are in South and East Asia: Bangladesh with 3.5%, Taiwan 3.1%, Vietnam 2.9%, and China 2.3%. The Philippines was the 34th largest economy in the world in 2020 but may have been the 32nd if it shrank only by around -8% or lower and not -9.6%.

3. There was GDP growth in the first to third quarters of 2021. Almost all countries managed to grow but largely due to “base effect” — their 2020 GDP levels were low so any marginal increase above that low base would translate to growth. The Philippines grew 5.1% in the first three quarters of 2021, but that would be equivalent only to the GDP level of 2018. It will reach the 2019 level around the second or third quarter of 2022.

4. Inflation in 2020. Most countries experienced lower consumer prices compared to 2019. The Philippines and Vietnam though experienced slight increases in inflation. Strict lockdowns in the Philippines resulted in some supply disruptions and delays (goods, repairs and spare parts for tractors, trucks, boats, etc.) due to the many checkpoints and barriers between provinces — even between cities of the same province — which contributed to higher inflation.

5. Inflation in 2021 was double or triple the 2020 levels for many countries — the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, etc. Free money from governments distributed to people who spent it even if they did not contribute to the production of goods and services, logistical delays in big seaports, later the spikes in energy prices, contributed to this. In East Asia, the Philippines has the highest inflation rate — this is not good.

6. Merchandise exports in 2020 declined in many countries except China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These three Asians also escaped GDP contractions that year. All G7 member countries experienced significant declines in exports. Closure of many manufacturing plants for several weeks, and strict and slow inspections in ports contributed to this. Global exports data were released by the World Trade Organization (WTO) World Trade Statistical Review (WTSR) 2021 on July 30.

7. Philippine exports remain the smallest among emerging and developed East Asia at only $64 billion in 2020. Our neighbors — Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam — have about four times that level while Singapore has nearly six times that level (see Table 1).

8. Vaccine discrimination or implicit mandatory vaccination as a business and economic policy by many governments in rich countries went on a wild roll. By the end of the third quarter 2021, many of them have vaccination rates 65-86% of their total population already. By end-2021, this went up to 73-88% of their populations. The Philippines had a slow start but rushed towards 51% by end-2021.

9. Infections from the COVID-19 Omicron variant seemed to be higher in rich countries with high vaccination rates, their seven-days average cases per million population last week ranged from 2,300+ (Germany) to 16,800+ (France) but deaths from Omicron seem low, and seem even lower in countries with lower vaccination rates like the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.

10. Lockdowns and restrictions on the mobility of people continued until end-2021. Looking at the weekly Google Community Mobility Reports (GCMR) show how visitors to (or time spent in) categorized places change (in percent) compared to baseline days, using the median value from the five‑week period between Jan. 3 to Feb. 6, 2020. As of Dec. 30, 2021, mobility in Transit Stations (TS) and Work places (WP) remained high. The Philippines, for instance, has -48% in WP (see Table 2).

Anemic GDP growth and high inflation in 2021, plus high public debt, continued mobility restrictions and lockdowns, vaccine discrimination, all these point to a non-bright early 2022. We hope that governments, multilaterals, most NGOs and media, pharma, etc. will temper the scare and hysteria. Viruses will keep mutating and evolving 100%, and humans and other living creatures will also keep evolving 100% naturally. The sooner that we realize we need to live with evolving viruses, the better.

This is the sixth in this column’s annual series “Top 10 news of the year,” the others being:

1. “Top 10 news of 2016,”

2. Trends in global and national trade (2017),

3. Top 10 economic news of 2018,

4. Top 10 economic news of 2019,

5. Top 10 economic news of 2020,

See also: 
BWorld 519, Tax pressure and motorcycle taxis, December 20, 2021
BWorld 520, Seven trends in COVID cases, vaccination, and causes of death, December 30, 2021
BWorld 521, Europe’s blackout economics and the Philippines’ path to brownouts, December 31, 2021.

Mining 62, Open pit mining should continue and expand

I still believe that the mining industry is among the Philippines' biggest economic potentials. Just a small share of the total land area to be mined vertically downwards, create lots of jobs, earn lots of export revenues, government getting lots of taxes. The deep hole mined-out areas should be filled up and reforested under the existing mining law, but I believe it should be left as deep wide man-made lake. As water catchment during heavy rains and flood, reduce flash flood downstream, lake for tourism (take Caliraya Lake in Laguna, man-made lake with sail boats, expensive houses around it, etc), fishery hydro power generation.

Some basic data: 

* 30 Million hectares, Philippines total land area. Of this,

* 2.2 Million sq.kms., the PH's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), total shoreline of 35,286 kilometers,  3rd longest shoreline in the world.

* 9 million hectares, estimated to have high mineral potential.

* 763,899.8 hectares or 2.55% of 30 M hectares covered by mining tenements as of July 2021, subject to mandatory relinquishment by contractors provided by law.

* Mining economics, below:

Open pit mining should continue. The huge copper-gold mining projects in Mindanao (Sagitarrius Mines/Tampakan Mining), Silangan minining, etc. should proceed.

Meanwhile here are the most recent reports about the sector from BusinessWorld:

(1) Miners see no clarity on industry policy from 2022 candidates
January 2, 2022 | 9:43 pm

THE CHAMBER of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP) said it is not clear on whether mining policy implemented by the current government will enjoy any continuity in the succeeding administration in the absence of clear intentions expressed by the 2022 Presidential candidates.

On Dec. 23, the four-year ban on open-pit mining was lifted by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Its Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2021-40 repeals the 2017 order issued by the late Environment Secretary Regina L. Lopez.

DAO 2017-10 banned open-pit mining, noting that “most of the mining disasters in the country were to due tailings spills associated with open-pit mining.”

In April, the government lifted the nine-year moratorium on granting new mining permits.

(2) Davao quarry raid results in arrests, equipment seizures
January 3, 2022 | 10:28 pm

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it apprehended 14 illegal miners in Barangay Waan, Davao City on Dec. 11.

In a statement on Monday, the DENR said the operation was carried out by its Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS), which seized unlicensed equipment apart from arresting the persons engaged in unauthorized quarrying.

“The lifting of the open-pit ban does not… result in more illegal miners because their areas are separate from that of the large-scale miners,” Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo G. Moncano said. 

(3) Foreign chambers OK open-pit ban end
January 4, 2022 | 10:27 pm
By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

THE Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines said the government’s decision to rescind the ban on open-pit mining has been “a long time coming” and will encourage more investment.

“It’s been a long time coming and overdue. Metallic mining can be a major boost to the economy, particularly in rural areas in terms of employment and income,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Julian H. Payne said in a phone interview.

The JFC is composed of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Korean Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.

See also:
Mining 59, High world prices of silver, gold, copper, rhodium, iron ore, nickel, February 02, 2021
Mining 60, High metal prices -- cobalt, lithium, copper, tin,... March 18, 2021
Mining 61, PH lifting mining ban via EO 130, April 20, 2021.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Covid 65, CDC Ph Statement on MMDA lockdown of unvaxxed, New all-time high cases

CDCPh calls MMDA lockdown of unvaxxed Filipinos unconstitutional, oppressive

07 January 2022

The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC Ph) expressed its vehement opposition against the recent Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Resolution No. 22-01 imposing enhanced restrictions on unvaccinated individuals.

CDC Ph, which advocates for evidence-based medicine and human rights, called the resolution, the first issued by MMDA this year, unconstitutional and particularly oppressive to the most vulnerable sectors of Philippine society.

Freedom to make informed decisions

“This resolution flat out ignores the constitutionally-protected right of every Filipino to make independent, informed decisions that massively impacts their health and the well-being of their loved ones,” said Dr. Homer Lim, President of CDC Ph.

Lim said that there are no medical studies on adverse long-term side effects of the vaccines currently being administered throughout the country and as such, vaccinations ought to be voluntary and not government-mandated.

“Does the government have the authority to coerce its citizens to be injected with an experimental drug, without knowing the degree and severity of its long term adverse effects,” Lim asked.

And then, Lim added, “Will the government shoulder the medical costs and lost income for individuals who suffer long-term adverse effects from vaccines? If not, then the government must respect each individual’s right to self determination – the choice of whether or not to receive these experimental vaccines.”

Financial burden on the poor

Meanwhile, Mari Kaimo, CDC Ph Vice-President, also criticized the MMDA resolution for imposing an additional financial burden on the poor, at a time when the incidence of poverty is at the highest rate in recent history.

“Asking the unvaccinated to shoulder the costs of testing every two weeks is an oppressive financial burden on individuals and families that are at their financial breaking point because of the economic impact of this pandemic,” Kaimo said.

Kaimo is referring to the provision in the MMDA resolution that requires the unvaccinated, “to undergo a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT PCR) test every 2 weeks at their personal expense and present a COVID-19 negative result prior to being admitted for work onsite.”

“The costs of RT-PCR tests run in the thousands of pesos, and given the salary scales in the Philippines, a vast majority of unvaccinated workers cannot afford to shoulder additional expenses of this magnitude,” Kaimo said.

“In effect, the IATF is using mandatory required testing as a financial cudgel to coerce unvaccinated workers to either take vaccines or face the prospect of financial ruin,” he added.

Many governments around the world have become Constitutional violators themselves as most country Constitutions put the individuals' freedom as paramount to government over-reach. In the Philippine Constitution, the Bill of Rights were explicitly stated to guarantee the individuals' rights and freedom. All other laws -- from Congress via Republic Acts (RA), from the President via Executive Orders (EOs), from Departments via Administrative Orders or Department Orders, from local government units via local legislations -- are inferior to the Constitution. Any law/s they make that violate the Constitution are automatically void, unconstitutional, although it will take the Supreme Court to decide and make this ruling.

Yesterday, January 7, new all-time-high Covid cases:

World, 2.72 M,
US 849k,
Argentina 110.5k,
Australia 77.7k,
Turkey 63.2k,
Canada 44.3k,
Portugal 38.7k,
Netherlands 34.9k,
Belgium 27.3k,
Ireland 21.9k.

Not all-time high but still high cases, Jan. 7:

UK 178.2k,
India, 142.0k,
Spain 115.9k,
Italy 108.3k,
Germany 59.4k,
Brazil 54.9k,
Greece 29.3k,
Colombia 26.2k,
Mexico 25.8k,
Philippines 21.8k.

The plan to inoculate the 12-17 yo has been implemented already. Tens of thousands of teenagers been vaxxed already. The new plan of government is to inoculate the 5-11 yo too. So the government bawal-bawal prohibitions to travel domestically for 12 yo and above unless vaxxed or with negative PCR test will be extend. Previously, parents and older siblings won't travel (and spend money to places that need visitors) unless their younger siblings 12-17 yo are vaxxed or have nose rape with PCR test. With this development targetting 5-11 yo, soon even 5-11 yo can not travel unless vaxxed or nose-raped lesser mobility by parents and older siblings. Lesser mobility by parents and older siblings, less economic and business activities in the country especially in the  provinces.

Still wrong to equate "more vax = more protection", "unvaxxed = unprotected" from infections and sickness. The opposite can happen, see Mandaluyong City the other day. The City keeps and publishes its daily cases, almost everyday the vaxxed among the patients outnumber the unvaxxed.

Then there is report of rising food insecurity in the PH,

One big problem of the UN and other multilaterals is their inconsistency. The cause of such food insecurity is government strict indefinite lockdowns and checkpoints that affected planting, harvesting, transpo and storage of food, and more joblessness unless vax vax vax. And for these multilaterals, the solution is more govt, more "Food assistance and other social transfers", funded by what else, more borrowings today and more taxes tomorrow. 

People want to work unhampered, buy spare parts for their tractors harvesters waterpumps trucks pumpboats etc, mobility of mechanics operators drivers etc, transpo of grains veggies fruits fishery meat products etc. across regions and islands. There are still checkpoints and inspections of vax or nose rape certificates that contribute to slower mobility.

Some articles I read recently:

(1) COVID-19: stigmatising the unvaccinated is not justified
Günter Kampf
November 20, 2021 DOI:

There is increasing evidence that vaccinated individuals continue to have a relevant role in transmission. In Massachusetts, USA, a total of 469 new COVID-19 cases were detected during various events in July, 2021, and 346 (74%) of these cases were in people who were fully or partly vaccinated, 274 (79%) of whom were symptomatic. Cycle threshold values were similarly low between people who were fully vaccinated (median 22·8) and people who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median 21·5), indicating a high viral load even among people who were fully vaccinated.2 In the USA, a total of 10 262 COVID-19 cases were reported in vaccinated people by April 30, 2021, of whom 2725 (26·6%) were asymptomatic, 995 (9·7%) were hospitalised, and 160 (1·6%) died.3 In Germany, 55·4% of symptomatic COVID-19 cases in patients aged 60 years or older were in fully vaccinated individuals,4 and this proportion is increasing each week. In Münster, Germany, new cases of COVID-19 occurred in at least 85 (22%) of 380 people who were fully vaccinated or who had recovered from COVID-19 and who attended a nightclub.5 People who are vaccinated have a lower risk of severe disease but are still a relevant part of the pandemic. It is therefore wrong and dangerous to speak of a pandemic of the unvaccinated. 

(2) Threats vs the unvaxxed: The failure to see realities
Kurt Dela Peña / 04:02 PM January 07, 2022

“Those who did not get vaccinated, if you get sick, the risk of dying is there. So it’s up to you. If you ask me for help, I will not help you because you didn’t get vaccinated,” he said on Jan. 4.

“If you were vaccinated. We shouldn’t be worrying about it. If you die, then, you’re on your own,” he said, pointing to rising hospital admissions and contaminations...

The President’s “no help, even if you die” quip was the latest in the string of threats he made against people who have not been vaccinated yet. A review of his previous statements showed a consistent strategy to threaten people:

June 22, 2021

“These sh*t people who do not want to be vaccinated, and they are really carriers and they, you know, travel from one place to another, carrying the virus, and then contaminating other people,” he said.

“You who do not want to get vaccinated, I will have you vaccinated with Ivermectin. Don’t get me wrong. There is a crisis. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, I will have you arrested.”

July 28, 2021

“Those who do not want to get vaccinated, I am telling you, do not go out of your houses. If you go out, I will tell the police to escort you back. You will be escorted back to your house because you are a walking spreader,” he said.

Oct. 12, 2021

“The problem is the individuals who don’t want to get vaccinated. Look for them in your villages, let’s go there while they’re sleeping and vaccinate them so we can get it done,” Duterte said.

“If they don’t want to, let’s go inside and vaccinate them when night falls. I’ll do it, I’ll lead the journey,” he said while missing the fact that there’s no law mandating vaccination.

(3) CHR Speaks against Duterte's pronouncement to restrict unvaxxed
January 7, 2022

Rumble — CHR Comm Gwen Pimentel-Gana speaks against Duterte's pronouncement to restrict and restrain unvaxxed at home on an interview with Teleradyo's Alvin Elchico and Doris Bigornia.

(4) Discriminating against the unvaccinated is illegal and wrong
Being Right. By Jemy Gatdula
January 6, 2022 | 9:47 pm

Remember when the medical experts said two years ago that it would only take “two weeks to flatten the curve”? And when that didn’t happen, they told us that things will be back to normal when the vaccines arrive? Well, now with nearly 95% of the National Capital Region’s target population vaccinated (MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos declared it at 100%; see GMA News, Dec. 9, 2021), we’re still nowhere back to normal.

See also:
Covid 62, CDC Ph longer draft for the full-page ad, December 15, 2021
Covid 63, No Tricks Zone on vaccine and medical tyranny, December 25, 2021
Covid 64, All-time high new Covid cases in high-vax countries, December 30, 2021.