KUWTT: Comelec execs face charges | May 18, 2021

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Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

READ: Comelec execs face charges

A JOINT venture group of foreign automation companies has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to stop the award of the contract for vote counting machines (VCMs) and related equipment to be used in the 2022 polls, claiming the bidding for the contract was anomalous. Pivot International Inc. and Power Serve filed a complaint with the Comelec against the chairman and members of the poll body’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) and several other officials of the poll agency. The complaint, dated May 5, was signed by Steven Allen Beyer on behalf of Pivot and Power Serve. The P400-million contract to supply the Comelec with Automated Election System (AES) Software for the Election Management System (EMS), VCMs and Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) was awarded to SMMT-TIM 2016 Inc. and Smartmatic USA Corp., who were also a joint-venture group.

READ: DoH to hold trials for vaccine booster shots

THE Department of Health (DoH) said it will hold clinical trials for booster shots that will be administered to those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Speaking at a media forum on Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the trials will be held in conjunction with similar tests for vaccine mixing. The DoH earlier announced it was considering a system in which those who received the first dose will receive the second dose using a different vaccine brand. Vergeire said the department has met with the Vaccine Expert Panel, the Department of Science and Technology and clinical trial proponents to discuss test protocols. She said they were looking for funding for the trial while other aspects, including the trial size and length, will be announced later. The trials were in response to the call of Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy to try out the vaccines of American drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna as booster shots for medical frontliners.

READ: Local execs join top vaccine priority group

THE Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has approved the inclusion of governors and mayors in the priority group for Covid vaccination covering medical frontliners. The IATF-EID and Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a press briefing on Monday the governors and mayors were placed under A1.5 group. Governors and mayors were previously in the A4 group composed of frontline personnel in essential sectors. Roque defended the higher priority for the local executives, saying they, too, were frontliners.

READ: Covid cases continue to drop

THE country’s overall health care utilization rate for Covid-19 cases is within “safe” levels, but some areas in the National Capital Region (NCR) were still experiencing high hospital occupancy rates, OCTA Research reported on Monday. OCTA said that most cities in Metro Manila had a lower health care utilization rate, at the same time posting a continued decline in average daily attack rates. The average daily new cases in the region have dropped by 27 percent to 1,479 new cases from May 10 to May 16. It also noted that the reproduction number is now at 0.57 while the average daily attack rate was approaching the moderate risk level at 10.71 cases per 100,000 population.

READ: NPA committed 1,506 atrocities – AFP official

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said it recorded 1,506 atrocities and human rights violations committed by communist rebels in the last 10 years, most of which were done during the Duterte administration. These acts include the abduction of 544 children and forcing them to be child warriors of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Six of these children were killed in armed encounters, 11 were wounded, 25 were abused and 464 have surrendered to authorities.

READ: Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

MEXICO’S Andrea Meza was crowned Miss Universe, besting over 70 candidates in the 69th edition of the world’s foremost beauty pageant held Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila) at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA. The pageant saw the longest reigning Miss Universe to date, 2019’s Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, who finally relinquished her crown following the months’ long postponement of the 2020 edition. Meza, who has a degree in software engineering, is an activist for women’s rights.

BUSINESS: OFW remittances up by more than 5% in March

Topping business, money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) went up by 5.6 percent in March, boosting the year-to-date tally, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. BSP data released on Monday showed that personal remittances — personal transfers in cash or kind and capital transfers between households — amounted to $2.8 billion in March up from the $2.75 billion in February and the $2.65 billion recorded in March last year.

SPORTS: Hotshots ink Ahanmisi to two-year deal

In sports, the Magnolia Hotshots and Jerrick Ahanmisi finally agreed on a contract more than two months after the latter picked the former 10th overall in the 46th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft last March 14. On Monday, Magnolia signed Ahanmisi to a two-year deal, with other terms of the contract not disclosed. Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero confirmed his team’s signing of the 6-foot guard to The Manila Times. Ahanmisi, younger brother of Alaska Aces guard Maverick, was one of the highly-touted prospects in the recent Rookie Draft.

READ: Opinion and editorial

Antonio Contreras and Yen Makabenta are today’s front page columnists. Contreras talks about the hot and spicy politics in Camarines Sur, while Makabenta cites a philosopher with regards to death.

Today’s editorial focuses on the upcoming Olympic Games. Read the full version on the paper’s opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

For more news and information, get a copy of The Manila Times on print, subscribe to its digital edition or log on to Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and Keep Up with the Times.

With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe Tuesday ahead.

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