DBM chief Avisado goes on medical leave; gets slammed by Bayan Muna amid ayuda concerns

Maris Federez   •   August 2, 2021   •   401

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel E. Avisado goes on medical leave from August 02 to 13, 2021.

A statement released on Sunday (August 1) read that this is following the DBM chief’s recent bout with COVID-19 where he was hospitalized for 8 days and quarantined for over a month.

The decision was also based upon the advice of his doctor to undertake a series of examinations as it has been 14 years, the statement said, since he had undergone a quadruple open heart bypass.

To ensure that services of the Department remain unhampered, Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canda will serve as Officer-in-Charge during this period, the statement further read.

The DBM assured that it will remain “steadfast and committed to its mandate of promoting the efficient and effective management of the national budget to support its budget priorities especially in the midst of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate slammed Avisado for taking a medical leave amid a stricter lockdown as Metro Manila and several provinces and cities are placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting Aug. 6.

“Just the other day Secretary Avisado said that he was still trying to find funds for the much-needed ayuda and awaited only a clear directive from President. Was such directive already given?” Zarate asked. “Was he able to find the budget to help our people before the ECQ is implemented?”

The lawmaker also asked the DBM for the 2022 budget proposal, stressing that the pandemic will very likely continue beyond 2021.

“Also, Congress still awaits the executive’s budget proposal for 2022 from the DBM. Is it done already? There is a need to immediately tackle the budget as we are still in the middle of a raging, surging pandemic; we must all act with urgency. This is also the reason why we are pushing for the fast-tracking of the Bayanihan 3 so that funds can be allotted for aid, ASAP,” he said.

“The Bayanihan 3 should be separate, supplemental budget this year. It should not be included in the 2022 budget proposal because our affected people need the ayuda now,” he added.

Zarate also proposed the sourcing of financial aid from the National Budget Circular 586 and the P4.5 billion presidential confidential and intelligence funds for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, in case there is still a lack of funds for financial assistance.

IATF amends guidelines in NCR alert level 4 restrictions

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (AITF-MEID) has amended the guidelines for the implementation of the Alert Level 4 in the National Capital Region (NCR), Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the revised guidelines will take effect on October 1 should the pilot implementation of the alert level system be extended next month.

The new strategy is being imposed in virus hotspots in the NCR until September 30.

The amendments recently approved by the IATF include allowing individual outdoor exercises within general area of residence for persons not required to remain in their respective homes.

Authorities earlier allowed outdoor exercises for residents regardless of health and vaccination status, but they shall only be limited to moving within their village or barangay.

Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of COVID-19 deceased shall be allowed.

Attendance to these services, however, will only be limited to immediate family members, the IATF said.

All contact sports, whether indoor or outdoor, will remain prohibited. Those being conducted under a “bubble-type” setup are exempted.

Personal care establishments and home services are still not allowed. These services include aesthetic and cosmetic services or procedures, make up services, spas, reflexology, wellness, and holistic services and other similar procedures.

Positive COVID-19 antigen test results now included in case count – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen tests will now be included in the Philippines’ case count, Malacañang said Friday.

In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) reached the decision during their meeting on Thursday in an aim to improve the reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“’Yan po ang ating objective para mas maging mabuti yung picture natin kung ilan ang total cases natin,” Roque said.

He, however, clarified that these tests will be subjected to confirmatory tests.

The use of antigen test is mostly effective for people who already manifested symptoms within the first five days of their onset as the viral load of the patient is at the highest during this time.

In line with this, the IATF directed the Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development to monitor and facilitate registration of facilities using rapid antigen kits.

They must also ensure that antigen line tests are collected and consolidated from health facilities, localities, as well as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

“Kaugnay nito, ang Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development ay inatasang mag-facilitate ng registration ng facilities na gumagamit ng rapid antigen kits,” he said.

“Augmentation of disease surveillance surveillance staff and encoders are considered to ensure that line lists are generated and submitted on a daily basis,” he added.

As of Sept. 23, the Philippines has 165,780 active COVID-19 cases based on DOH data.

Duterte asks PNP, AFP to deploy medical personnel to hospitals needing more staff

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prepare for the deployment of their medical personnel to hospitals that are in need of additional manpower.

“Kung wala nang iba, ‘yung mga nurses sa pulis marami yan, pati sa medical corps ng army. I have to use a little of my influence sa kanila to convince them,” Duterte said in a taped public address aired late Wednesday.

“Please place your human resources on ready, on deck because talagang alam mo yun lang madali kong maasahan,” he added.

Duterte issued the statement after receiving reports that a lot of medical personnel, particularly in St. Luke’s Medical Center were unable to go on duty due to COVID-19 infection.

The AFP said it has started deploying a number of its personnel to some hospitals in Metro Manila as it continues look for more nurses from its ranks.

The PNP, for its part, said it is currently accounting the number of its medical teams that could be deployed to assist medical workers amid rising cases of COVID-19.

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