Duterte calls for equal access to COVID-19 vaccine at UN assembly

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020   •   510

MANILA, Philippines – In his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized that all countries, rich or poor, should have equal access to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine “as a matter of policy.”

In a pre-recorded video message to the UN convention that aired on Wednesday, Duterte stressed the necessity of coordinated international plans and efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, which he called as the “biggest test the world and the United Nations faced since World War II.”

He also pointed out that ensuring universal access to COVID-19 technologies and products to combat COVID-19 would be “pivotal in the global pandemic recovery.”

“The world is in the race to find a safe and effective vaccine. When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy,” he said.

“The Philippines joins our partners in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Non-Aligned Movement in raising our collective voice: the COVID-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good,” he added.

Duterte also welcomed the launch of UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund which is designed to aid low and middle-income countries to overcome the health and development crisis caused by the pandemic as well as support those severely affected by the economic and social disruption it caused.

“COVID-19 knows no border. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no creed,” he said.

“The Philippines values the role that the United Nations plays in its fight against the pandemic. As a middle-income country whose economic advances have been derailed by the pandemic, we welcome the launch of the UN COVID Response and Recovery Fund,” he added.

During his speech, Duterte also recognized the sacrifices of medical professionals and other workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic.

“We salute all frontliners who put their lives on the line even in countries not their own. So also do we honor and recognize the healthcare professionals who selflessly answered the call to combat the COVID-19 pandemic despite its virulence and unknown characteristics,” he said.

The viral respiratory disease has so far infected over 31 million people across the globe.

In the Philippines, the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 291,789 as of Tuesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte declares Nov. 2, Dec. 24 & 31 ‘Special working days’ for this year

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a proclamation amending some dates that have long been traditional holidays in the country and making them now ‘special working days.’

Under Proclamation No. 1107, the president declared the following days as ‘special working days’ for the year 2021:

  • November 2 – All souls’ day
  • December 24 – Christmas eve
  • December 31 – New Year’s eve

These dates were previously classified as special non-working days under Proclamation No. 986 s. 2020.

“For the country to recover from the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to encourage economic productivity by, among others, minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead,” Duterte said in his order.

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the country’s economy into a slump last year due to a lockdown that affected many businesses and workers.

Duterte designates NBI as sole body to probe PNP-PDEA ‘misencounter’

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the National Bureau of Investigation to be the sole agency to investigate the alleged misencounter between cops and operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Malacañang said Friday.

“Nagdesisyon po ang ating president na tanging NBI lang po ang mag-iimbestiga duon sa putukan na nangyari sa panig ng mga kapulisan at PDEA diyan po sa Quezon City,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The shooting incident involving policemen and PDEA operatives occurred on Wednesday afternoon near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Four individuals – two cops, a PDEA agent and an informant – were killed in the gun battle.

The PNP and PDEA earlier said that a joint Board of Inquiry has been created to look into the incident.

But due to Duterte’s order, the joint probe will have to be discontinued.

“’Yung mga binuong joint panel para imbestigahan yan, na binuo po ng PNP at PDEA ay di na po magtutuloy sa kanilang imbestigahan,” Roque said.

Both PNP and PDEA assured to work with the NBI in compliance with Duterte’s directive. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to personally welcome first batch of Sinovac vaccines on Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to witness in person the arrival of the Philippines’ very first batch of COVID-19 vaccines scheduled on Sunday (February 28) at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed in a message that the event on Monday is part of the President’s schedule.

He is expected to be joined by other government officials in welcoming the shipment of the much-awaited 600,000 doses of CoronaVac of the pharmaceutical firm Sinovac donated by China.

A total of 100,000 doses of the CoronaVac will be reserved for members of the military.

Once the vaccines arrive, the government is expected to kick-off the nationwide vaccine rollout on Monday (March 1) which will prioritize frontline health workers, uniformed personnel, and senior citizens among other sectors.

The vaccine turnover rite was also confirmed by China through its envoy to the Philippines, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” Ambassador Huang said on Facebook.

“I want to thank all those who have worked so hard in order to make this happen! I hope the vaccines will help kick off Philippines’ mass inoculation campaign to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos’ life to return to normal at the earliest,” he added.

Meanwhile in a post on Twitter, the Chinese Embassy refuted claims that Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be given to health workers who have high exposure to positive cases.

The Embassy said the pharma company’s first trial inoculation on health workers in Brazil yielded positive results.

“Even under such extremely challenging conditions, the vaccine has show 100% protection to prevent fatal cases or severe cases that need hospitalization, 80% protection to prevent mild case which don’t need any medical intervention,” it said.

Thus, the Embassy said, “the Sinovac is good for medical workers with exposure to COVID-19.”

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