Duterte, Go to get tested or COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 12, 2020   •   1002

Senator Bong Go on Thursday (March 12) announced that he and President Rodrigo Duterte will undergo testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement on Thursday, Go clarified that the testing is only for precautionary measures.

“We are not doing this because we have symptoms of COVID-19; We are doing this to ensure that we are fit and healthy to engage the public and perform our duties in the coming days and weeks,” his statement reads.

The Senator reiterated that he and the President will remain ready to serve the Filipino people.

According to Go, the decision to get tested was because they have been in contact with some Cabinet members that have been exposed to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

Go added that the said Cabinet members already decided to undergo self-quarantine.

“It is just prudent for us to take precautionary measures in compliance with the advice of our health officials,” he said.

Meanwhile, the President already postponed his visit to Boracay amid the COVID-19 situation.—AAC

Senate committee approves bill giving Duterte authority to defer SSS hike

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises on Tuesday (January 26) approved a Senate bill that will grant President Rodrigo Duterte the authority to defer or suspend the Social Security System (SSS) contribution rate hike.

Under Senate Bill 1970, the Chief Executive can suspend the implementation of the SSS contribution hike during a national emergency or state of calamity for six months.

While the SSS administration acknowledges the bill, it reiterated the need to implement the contribution hike this year.

SSS President and CEO Andrea Ignacio said delaying the implementation might have a negative effect on the government’s financial situation.

“Delaying this implementation of any reform will worsen an already dire financial institution. The new contribution schedule in the SSS Charter is a long overdue reform. SSS has increased its pension benefit 25 times while it adjusted contribution rate only 8 times to date,” he said.

He added that SSS would not have enough budget to pay their pensioners for the next 30 to 40 years. However, Ignacio said they will not force unemployed individuals to pay.

“We acknowledge that the contribution hike will add a little burden to our employers and workers but, at the same time, the fact is we are asking for this hike only to those who are able to do so. The employers who are operating and the workers that still have their jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva and committee chairperson Senator Richard Gordon said the contribution hike will further burden the citizens, especially during the pandemic.

Iyong may trabaho at may negosyo, sa halip na hindi na natin sila i-burden out, bibigyan pa natin sila ng additional burden na isipin (Those with jobs and business, instead of easing their burden, we are giving them an additional burden they have to think about), Villanueva said.

Lalala ang situation, baka ang mangyari masyadong hirap na. Talagang dapat tingnan natin kung anong gagawin natin to alleviate their pain (The situation might worsen. We should look for ways on how to alleviate their pain),” said Gordon.

Under Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 the contribution hike for this year will increase by 13% and 15% by 2025. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

LGUs conduct dry run of COVID-19 vaccination rollout

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The local governments of Quezon City and Valenzuela City have conducted dry run activities for their COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

In Valenzuela City, around 40 residents participated in the dry run, where they went through body temperature checks and disinfection before entering the vaccination site.

They also went through registration and validation before counseling. Counseling covered discussion on the importance of vaccination and its possible side effects. Participants then proceeded to the screening area before vaccination to verify if their health is capable of taking in the vaccine.

According to Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, the dry run is needed to ensure residents are prepared in receiving the vaccines and health protocols are implemented.

Valenzuela City also targets the vaccination rollout to begin in July where 17 vaccination sites will be used.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City Health Department held a demonstration on the vaccination process which includes presenting QCitizen IDs, counseling, and screening. -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte rescinds IATF decision, orders 10 to14-year-olds to stay home

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte revoked the earlier decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 (IATF) easing age restrictions in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Duterte expressed concern that children aged 10 to 14 years old may compromise their safety and the safety of the older sector given that the new strain of coronavirus is said to be more contagious.

“Just to be sure and in our desire to protect our people, napilitan akong (I was compelled) ire-impose ang (the) 10 to 14 (years old restriction). Not at this time. It’s a sacrifice for the parents and for the children. It would limit their movements,” the President said late Monday night (January 25).

Following the president’s announcement, children 10 to 14 years of age are still not allowed to go outside their homes.

This policy, the President said, will remain in effect until the government is sure that the public is safe from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through vaccination.

Last Friday (January 22), the IATF announced its plan to relax age restrictions which is supposed to take effect on February 1.

President Duterte asked for the public’s understanding regarding his latest decision.

Pasensya na po kayo. (I’m sorry.) Mine is just a precaution,” he said. 

Takot lang ako kasi itong bagong (I’m worried because this new) strain strikes the young children,” he added,  reminding the public to continuously follow the standard health and safety protocols as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country remains high.

To date, COVID-19 cases in the country have surpassed the half a million mark.

Meanwhile on Tuesday (January 26), the IATF is expected to come up with a recommendation on the quarantine classifications to be imposed for February.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during Monday’s meeting reported that at this stage, the health care utilization rate in Davao de Oro and Baguio City has reached the critical level while that of Nueva Viscaya and Agusan del Norte are already high. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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