Private sector importation of vaccines

OPINION
By IGNACIO BUNYE
May 3, 2021

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The Duterte administration has taken a lot of hit for its handling (or mishandling) of the COVID 19 pandemic. But to be fair, this pandemic is something which no government anticipated and prepared for. There has been no previous reliable playbook which government could consult. Thus for most governments, it was “learn as you go” and “trial and error” during the early part of the pandemic. 
    
I would not be too harsh in judging this administration. It was doing its best under the circumstances.  However, if I were to fault the administration, it will be in its much delayed decision to allow the private sector to import  vaccines. It is a given that the private sector has consistently been more efficient in the matter of procurement. Had the go-signal been given much earlier, we will probably be  more than 25 percent of targeted vaccination by now. 
    
Last April 13,  I had the good fortune to get my first jab of Atra Zeneca, courtesy of the local government of Muntinlupa City. No, I did not have to jump the line. I was included in the A2 priority (Senior Citizen). I stayed thirty minutes  at the vaccination center for observation and, good for me, I did not show any adverse reaction. Even the next day, my left arm did not feel numb but I did feel sleepy in the afternoon. I am scheduled to get my second dose on June 12.  In the case of a friend who got injected with Sinovac, the only after-effect he reported  was his sudden unexplained craving for Chinese food. 
    
Despite my vaccination, I will never let my guard down. Vaccination only reduces the chance of getting sick by 85 percent or 60 per cent, depending on the vaccine. Even if I don’t get sick, I may still become a carrier. So I will continue to observe all health protocols like wearing of face mask and face shield, regularly wash my hands (while humming the happy birthday song twice) and observe physical distancing. I don’t quite agree with the reported decision of President Biden to dispense with the use of face masks outdoors by those who have already completed their vaccinations. 
    
Here is how seriously we take health protocols at the Kiwanis Club of Muntinlupa Rizal. Before the scheduled Board of Directors meeting of the club  last April 24, Club President Larry Molera  issued the following reminders:
    
“As our precautionary measures:- 1) Our venue will be held at the LOBBY, an open area w/o aircon. 2. Let us maintain social distancing. 3) Wear face mask and face shield at all times (except when eating). 4) No talking when eating!!”
Bank of the Philippine Islands board
    
During the April annual stockholders meeting of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the following were elected to the  15-member Board of Directors: Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Fernando Zobel de Ayala,  Cezar P. Consing,  Romeo L. Bernardo, Ignacio R. Bunye ,  Ramon R. Del Rosario, Jr., Octavio V. Espiritu,  Rebecca G. Fernando, Jose Teodoro K.  Limcaoco, Aurelio P. Montinola III, Mercedita S. Nolledo, Antonio Jose U. Periquet, Cesar  V. Purisima,  Eli M. Remolona, Jr., and Maria Dolores V. Yuvienco. Purisima took the place of Xavier P. Loinaz who earlier resigned for health reasons. 
    
In the immediately following organizational meeting, the following were elected as officers:
    
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman; Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Vice Chairman; Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco, President/CEO; Dino R. Gasmen, Treasurer; Angela Pilar B. Maramag, Corporate Secretary; Emeliana Elisa F. Navarro, Assistant Corporate Secretary and Marie Christine M. Ty-Doromal, Assistant Corporate Secretary. 
    
The 170-year old bank had a good run in a bad year. Despite its slowest balance sheet growth in years (1.3 percent), BPI had its moments in 2020.  Outgoing President Cezar P. “Bong” Consing enumerated them, as follows:
    
-Having executed 1.8 billion in online transactions in 2020, BPI has become  the acknowledged leader in digital banking.  
    
-Capital adequacy ratio grew to 17.1 percent. 
    
-BPI’s asset management and mutual funds businesses saw assets under management growing by 16.8  percent and 95.6 percent, respectively. 
    
-Mortgage lending grew by 6.6 percent. 
    
-BPI’s microfinance bank, BPI Direct BanKo, already the second largest (in its class) in the country, grew by 6.5 percent. 
    
-BPI’s investment banking unit, BPI Capital, was the leading debt and equity underwriter in the country. 
    
-BPI was one of only two Philippine companies which was given by Standard and Poor’s,  a BBB+ rating,  equaling  that of the Philippine government. 
    
-The BSP continues to give BPI the highest ratings for its capital position, asset quality, management, and low sensitivity to market risk.  
    
-BPI’s ESG scores consistently place it  either first  or second among Philippine banks. 
    
-BPI is the only large Philippine bank whose shares outperformed the Philippine Stock Exchange index in 2020. 
    
-BPI remains the second largest bank by market capitalization. 
    
-The prestigious finance publication Euromoney named BPI as the Best Philippine Bank in 2020. 
    
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