120 passengers on PAL’s special flight from Xiamen arrives in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 10, 2020   •   842

Over 100 passengers on board the special flight of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) from Xiamen, China arrived in the Philippines on Monday (February 10).

PAL’s special flight arrived at around 1:00 p.m. at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2. There are 120 Filipinos and Philippine passport holders on board the special flight.

PAL allotted special flights to repatriate stranded passengers after the government implemented the travel ban on China, Hong Kong, and Macau due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat.

PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna is thankful for the pilot and cabin crew who volunteered to assist passengers in PAL’s special flight.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa mga piloto at cabin crew ng Philippine Airlines (We are thankful for our pilots and cabin crew in the Philippine Airlines) for volunteering this special mission to bring back to China our stranded Chinese tourist guest and other foreign guests and of course for the return flight could bring back our kababayans,” she said.

The passengers will be under home quarantine for 14 days which will be strictly monitored by the Bureau of Quarantine.

Meanwhile, PAL will have another schedule for their special flights.—AAC

P70M worth of illegal goods seized in Parañaque City warehouse

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

PARAÑAQUE CITY, Philippines— Around P70 million worth of illegal goods were seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Tambo, Parañaque City on Monday (January 18).

A team consisting of members of the Port’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), Enforcement and Security Service (ESS), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) implemented the Letter of Authority (LOA) and inspected the subject warehouse.

The inspection resulted in the discovery of various smuggled Chinese cigarettes, Chinese medicines, prohibited surgical mask, foodstuff, footwear, garments, and other imported goods.

Further investigation and inventory are ongoing for further case build up and filing of charges.

Duterte defends Galvez, slams critics over corruption claims in Sinovac deal

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte vouched for vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.’s plan to procure Chinese-made vaccine Sinovac for the government’s vaccination program against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This is amid questions on the efficacy of Sinovac and allegations of overpricing.

“I’m telling Gen. Galvez na ang game plan niya, sundin niya (follow his game plan). With or without the investigation, proceed and implement what we plan to do,” President Duterte said.

Duterte revealed that even before the pandemic worsened, he had appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding the vaccines. In response, the Chinese leader promised to help.

Long before na pumutok ito tumawag na ako kay President Xi Jinping. Tapos sabi ko wala kaming resources. We do not know how to make it. Please do not forget the Philippines,” Duterte said, recalling his conversation with Xi.

Just recently, China committed to provide the Philippines with 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for free.

As for the corruption issue, President Duterte assured that the procurement process will go through the thorough review of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez before the pricing and the documentary requirements are finalized. 

Duterte maintained that at this stage, the government is not allowed to speak of the pricing of the Sinovac vaccine as stated in the contract.

“They signed a memorandum of confidentiality. They cannot reveal the price kasi it will result in, na malugi ‘yung iba. — in some countries malugi sila, ‘yung ibang countries, hindi pare-pareho,” Duterte said.

He slammed critics who insist that there is corruption in the vaccine deal.

“Ito ayaw kong ‘yung pa-off tangent na mga tirada ninyo: ‘Bakit ba ito si Duterte Sinovac ng Sinovac?’ I-ano ninyo ang utak sa corruption-corruption. I don’t know why are you so occupied about corruption,” Duterte told critics. 

“Maghanap kayo hindi dito. Baka sa inyo. Baka sa departamento ninyo. Hindi dito sa akin, ” he added.

The Chief Executive also stressed that the government is not forcing anyone to receive and to purchase a particular brand of COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who wants to procure vaccine other than Sinovac is free to do so just be responsible for the consequences.

“Almost everybody na kilala ko are scrambling to buy itong Pfizer. Well, to me I think it’s a good one. If you want to follow the experience of Norway, go ahead. Nobody will stop you,” he said referring to a report that 23 elderly patients died after receiving the Pfizer-made vaccine.

“We never prohibited anybody from buying from government. We are not — we are not selling, we are buying for the people, libre.” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte vouches for China’s Sinovac, says LGUs may choose any vaccine brand

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (January 13) vouched for the efficacy of Sinovac, the COVID-19 vaccine developed in China.

He said the Chinese-made vaccine is “as good as any other” vaccines developed in the United States and Europe.

“Hindi nagkulang ang Chinese sa utak (The Chinese is not lacking in knowledge). They would not venture kung hindi sapat (if it’s not) safe, sure, and secure. Iyang tatlo. It must be safe, sure and secure. That is the guarantee,” the President said.

His remark comes after several local government units (LGUs) opted to choose and procure the brand of their choice other than the ones preferred by the national government. 

“We are not forcing anybody to join the cause of the national government,” Duterte said.

“I am addressing this to the mayors. You can choose any vaccine you like to buy. Wala kaming pakialam kung ano ang pipiliin niyo (We don’t care which one you choose). Hindi kami makialam sa lahat ng bagay in the purchase (We won’t meddle in anything that has to do with the [vaccine] purchase),” he stressed.

But he reminded the local chief executives that it is still the national government that approves whatever medicine or drugs should be made available for public consumption.

The President maintained that he prefers whatever vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez will procure, for after all, he is his representative and that his decision will be the President’s responsibility.

“Ang responsibility niya ay responsibility ko rin. Kung may bulilyaso at the end of the day, akin talaga yang responsibility (His responsibility is my responsibility. If there are problems along the way, at the end of the day, it is my responsibility),” the President stressed.

During the meeting, Galvez confirmed that the national government is set to grant the Chinese drugmaker Sinovac its emergency use authorization (EUA) for its vaccine before February 20.

The official added that initial delivery will be 50,000 doses, followed by 950,000 doses in March then to one to three million in increasing volumes in the succeeding months. 

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