Duterte names PH Army’s Sobejana as next AFP chief

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021   •   431

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has picked Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana as the next chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Malacañang announced Wednesday.

“We are confident that General Sobejana will continue to modernize our military and undertake reform initiatives to make the Armed Forces truly professional in its mandate as the protector of the people and the State,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“We wish General Sobejana all the best in his new tour of duty as we pray for his success,” he added.

Sobejana succeeds General Gilbert Gapay, who is set to bow out of service as he reaches the mandatory age retirement of 56 next week.

Gapay took the post in August 2020 after also leading the Philippine Army.

Sobejana is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Hinirang Class of 1987.

He has been awarded the Medal of Valor, the country’s highest military honor for his bravery during a 1995 gun battle against Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan.

Sobejana then led various units including the 1st Scout Ranger Company, recognized as Best Company in 1994; 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, awarded as Best Battalion in 2009; 601st Infantry Brigade, named Best Brigade in 2016; and 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, awarded as Best Division in 2018.

He also served as the Commandant of the Scout Ranger Training School; Commander of the Civil-Military Operations Group (now Regiment), Philippine Army; Commander of Joint Task Force Sulu; Commander of the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division, Philippine Army.

He also served as Commander of AFP Western Mindanao Command.

In May 2019, Duterte bestowed him the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Legionnaire), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine Government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to the Philippine Army’s website.

Duterte plans to visit China to personally thank President Xi for COVID vaccine donations

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit China to personally thank President Xi Jinping for donating 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines.

“I’d like to just say that towards the — maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down — I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation,” he said.

President Duterte noted China’s gesture of delivering the vaccine through its government military aircraft unlike other countries who needed to pick up the supply from China.

“I would like to just add that China has donated several vaccines to several countries. But it is only the donation made to the Philippines that was carried by a Chinese government plane. Iyong iba kinukuha doon sa China. Dito, hinatid sa atin,” he said.

The Chief Executive said he may push a trip to China by the end of the year.

Before heading to Beijing, the President said he wanted to visit Xiamen to see the school building that was built in honor of his late mother, Soledad.

“Maybe I’ll go to Xiamen. There’s a school built to honor my mother. You know, my mother was one of the first educators of the Chinese school in Davao,” he said.

Duterte insisted during Sunday’s arrival of China’s Sinovac vaccine that China has not requested anything in return for the donated vaccine adding that the donation is a “gesture of friendship and solidarity” between the two countries. 

Duterte still awaiting doctor’s advice on COVID vaccination

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday (February 28) said, if he were to be asked, he wants to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

But due to advanced age, he said he needs his doctor’s clearance particularly on which brand of vaccine to get inoculated with.

The President is taking into consideration the experts’ advice to be more careful in choosing a vaccine for individuals like him who are past the age of 70.

“As to what brand, iyan ang problema because it is left to the sound discretion of my doctor,” he said.

“May caveat pa ‘yan. Seventy above  people are, you know, sinasabi nila huwag na. In some areas, some countries, hindi na binabakunahan ‘yang 70. It’s either because they are nearing death or about to die or it could be useless to give them the vaccine because anyway they won’t live long,” he added.

Still, the President believes and is willing to get inoculated against COVID-19.

President Duterte is turning 76 years old on March 28.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced that the Office of the President is studying the possibility of giving the Chief Executive COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm, the brand of vaccine administered to the members of his Presidential Security Group.

READ: Office of the President eyeing Sinopharm vaccine for PRRD under compassionate use

Roque said it was also President Duterte’s brand of choice. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte dares Robredo to get COVID-19 shot first: ‘Siya ang apurado, siya ang mauna’

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dared Vice President Leni Robredo to get vaccinated first against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) now that China’s Sinovac vaccine has finally arrived in the country.

“Siya man ‘yong apurado, siya ang mauna,” the President said of Robredo during the turn-over of the Sinovac vaccine at Pasay City on Sunday (February 28).

This was the President’s response to the call of Robredo for him to get vaccinated first to boost public confidence in the government’s vaccination efforts.

He said Robredo is more qualified to get vaccinated as she is younger than him.

“Ako, I cannot just decide. She’s young, I am not. I have to defer to my doctor,” the President said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the use of Sinovac vaccine to individuals who are fit and healthy, aged 18 to 59.

According to President Duterte, his doctors are recommending a different brand and he already requested a personal supply of a certain brand of vaccine which he opted not to disclose the name.

“Ako, nanghingi ako personal. Wala silang stock. Nanghingi ako para sa pamilya ko pati sa akin,” he said.

“I don’t know if we would have enough vaccines for everybody. But I think I can accommodate the Cabinet members,” he added.

Malacañang had earlier announced that the President prefers to use the COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm which is another brand from China. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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