AMLC asked to submit report on efforts to remove Philippines from int’l grey list

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2021   •   1559

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Thursday asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to provide the Senate a written report on efforts to strike the Philippines off the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.

“We expect a substantial update from the AMLC on the concrete steps and direction we are taking to ensure progress on our compliance,” Poe said in a statement.

The senator pointed out that Congress already did its part in resolving the technical deficiencies of the law by amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

“Passing the necessary amendments to the law is one of the requirements under the mutual evaluation report which was duly met,” said Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.

She also stressed that the AMLA reforms are important in protecting the earnings of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“We should not make it difficult for our OFWs to send hard-earned money to their loved ones. They must be spared of undue costs and delays in their remittances,” she said.

“Higher remittance charges mean less sustenance for the families of OFWs, and a week of delay in receiving the money impacts on the ability of their dependents back home to make both ends meet,” she added. “OFW remittances always step in to buoy the local economy even in the middle of the pandemic.”

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), total money sent by Filipino migrant workers from January to April this year reached $9.9 billion. This is higher by 4.8 percent than the $9.4 billion remittance inflows in the same period last year.

The FATF, a Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog, earlier added the Philippines to its grey list or countries under increased monitoring.

Poe said the failure to implement enhanced due diligence measures could lead to higher interest rates and processing fees, which could impact on the ordinary Filipinos, including OFWs in sending their remittances.

The inclusion in the list does not automatically subject the Philippines to countermeasures, the AMLC earlier said. However, the country needs to substantially comply with the needed reforms within a given time frame to avert the financial sanctions.

“The government must ensure that those who are earning lawfully and legally are not inconvenienced. We cannot afford to deal with more financial challenges as we reel from the brunt of the pandemic,” Poe said.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, chairperson of the AMLC, earlier made a commitment to work with the FATF and the Asia Pacific Group toward the timely implementation of the action plans.

The country’s financial intelligence unit vowed to resolve the remaining strategic deficiencies, which are down to 18 from 70, to be stricken off the grey list.

Diokno said that the Philippines will make a report to the FATF on its progress three times a year starting this September, optimistic that the country will be taken off the grey list after completion of all action plans in two years.

9,928 children with health risks vaccinated vs COVID-19 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The number of minors with co-morbidities who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 has reached 9,928, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Monday.

In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that ten among the minors experienced reactions to the vaccines.

“Tatlong mga bata ay nagkaroon ng allergic reactions but were all managed. Tatlo po ay nagkaroon ng anxiety-related reactions, at ‘yung apat po mga minor lang po, masakit po mga vaccination site,” she said.

“So far, wala pa po tayong serious at adverse reactions that were noted. But of course, we are still monitoring these children,” she added.

Vergeire assured that children who were inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine will be continuously monitored.

“Katulad ng sabi natin, hindi lang natatapos ang monitoring namin pagkatapos lang ng bakunahan. We will monitor them this whole month para makita natin if there will still be other reactions na mangyayari,” she said.

The COVID-19 vaccination for the pediatric population was launched on Oct. 15 in eight hospitals in Metro Manila.

It was then expanded to 13 more hospitals and facilities when the DOH rolled out the program’s second phase on Oct. 22.

Vergeire said they consider the vaccination program a success and assured that the process has been orderly.

Should the two phases of the pediatric vaccination be successful, the campaign will be expanded to other regions.

“So ‘yan po ay pinagplaplanuhan, pinag-uusapan na at magbibigay tayo ng information in the coming days,” Vergeire said.

The following medical conditions would make children aged 12 to 17 years old eligible for vaccination against COVID-19:

  • Medical complexity
  • Genetic conditions
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic/endocrine
  • Obesity
  • HIV infection
  • Tuberculosis
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Renal disorder
  • Hepatobillary

Vergeire earlier said that children participating in the pilot COVID-19 vaccination program should be well-informed and must get clearance from their physicians.

Philippines detects 380 more Delta COVID-19 variant cases; first B.1.1.318 case

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has detected 380 more cases of the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant and its first case of the B.1.1.318 variant, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In DOH’s biosurveillance update, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the latest run sequenced comprised of 746 samples collected in March, April, September, and October.

Based on data she presented during a virtual briefing, 380 were found positive for the Delta variant, 166 were Beta variant carriers, while 104 were positive for the Alpha variant.

The country’s first case of B.1.1.318 case was also detected.

“Please note that the B.1.1.318 was not designated yet as a variant under monitoring during the time of sample collection,” Vergeire noted.

B.1.1.318 is a COVID-19 variant under monitoring based on the classifications of the World Health Organization.

“This was initially identified or detected in Mauritius. Mayroon silang naging cluster of 120 cases doon at nung kanilang na-sequence ay ito po ang lumabas. Itong variant under monitoring na ito,” Vergeire said.

“It has 14 mutations in its spike region, kasama po dito yung mutations na nakita din natin sa Delta variant at saka sa Beta variant,” she added.

Vergeire, however, stressed that the variant is still being studied and that there is no reason for the public to panic over the presence of the said variant in the country.

“Ibig sabihin, pinag-aaralan pa ito ng maigi ng WHO, ng mga international experts, dahil ito pong mga mutations na ito ay maaaring maka-apekto rin sa efficacy ng bakuna, maaari ding makaapekto sa transmission ng sakit,” she said.

“Let me just reiterate, it’s a variant under monitoring. Lahat po pinag-aaralan sa ngayon. Wala po tayong cause to panic. Kailangan lang po maging vigilant pa rin tayo lahat and follow our minimum public health standards,” she added.

As of Oct. 24, the Philippines has sequenced a total of 17,893 samples, of which 88.76 percent or 15,882 are assigned lineages, the DOH said.

NTF tells LGUs to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination to reach 1.5M target daily jab rate

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 has renewed its push for local government units (LGU) to further increase their COVID-19 vaccination output to help achieve the country’s target of 1 million to 1.5 million daily jab rate.

“Our goal is for LGUs to inoculate 70% of their eligible population with at least one dose by November. We cannot scale up our national vaccination output if we just settle with our current jab rate,” NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.

Galvez issued the statement during a meeting with local chief executives last Friday.

The NTF said it has identified highly-urbanized cities (HUCs) and regions that would lead the push in increasing the country’s daily vaccination output to 1.5 million doses.

This follows the influx of vaccine supplies from various manufacturers and the opening of the vaccine rollout to the general population including minors.

“With the steady arrival of bigger COVID-19 vaccine shipments, our LGUs must work double time to realize President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive, and that is, to continue to ramp up their vaccination rollout,” Galvez said.

“Nagpla-plateau tayo noong mga nakaraang araw to just 400,000 to 500,000 jabs daily. If this will continue, hindi natin makukuha ang 50 million [fully vaccinated individuals] by year-end,” he added.

Last Friday, the government recorded 724,294 COVID-19 jabs administered.

To date, the Philippines has received a total of 94,678,340 doses of COVID 19 vaccines since February.

Of these shipments, more than 58.7 million doses were procured by the government, 24.3 million doses were donations from the COVAX facility, 7.9 million were purchased by LGUs and the private sector, and 3.6 million doses were donations from bilateral partners, the NTF said.

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