Duterte OKs advance payment, emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2020   •   273

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the release of advance payments to the developers of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to ensure that the Philippines will get a supply once these become available in the market, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement following reports on successful trials of the vaccine by several developers.

Roque said the president did not want the country to be left behind in securing vaccine supply.

“So medyo, pumayag na po tayo na magkakaroon po tayo ng advance kasi pag di tayo pumayag baka mangulelat tayo sa mga bansang makakakuha ng vaccine,” he said.

Duterte previously rejected pharmaceutical companies seeking advance payments for COVID-19 vaccines, but Roque said the president changed his mind after seeing the list of countries that paid in advance.

“Alam ko po nung una, ayaw ni presidente yan [… ] importanteng masiguro na mayroon tayong bakuna, pumayag na po siya sa tinawatawag na advanced payment,” he said.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the Philippines has communicated with countries, including China, Singapore and the United States of America, about the possible procurement of potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Galvez said the country is looking to purchase up to 50 million vaccines which will be funded through various financing modes.

“Kapag nakuha po ang advanced commitment this November, ang target po namin at the end of November, dalawa o tatlong kumpanya ang makukuha natin,” he said.

According to Roque, Duterte has also allowed the emergency use of coronavirus vaccines, and an executive order expediting its use in the country will be released.

“Kung mapipirmahan po ang executive order na ito, 21 araw na lang po, magagamit na rin natin sa Pilipinas,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte appoints ex-Cabinet Secretary Evasco as adviser on gov’t processes

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco will rejoin President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as his adviser on streamlining of government processes, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Evasco’s appointment papers were signed on November 24. He will have a rank of Secretary.

Evasco was Duterte’s former Cabinet Secretary but he resigned in 2018 to run as a governor of Bohol province. He lost to incumbent Bohol Governor Arthur Yap in last year’s midterm election.

“PA Evasco is not new in the Duterte Administration having served as Cabinet Secretary in the early years of the current administration,” Roque said in a statement.

“His familiarity with the present bureaucracy would contribute greatly in his new task of streamlining government processes in the Executive. Welcome back, PA Evasco,” he added.

Evasco previously served as mayor of Maribojoc town in Bohol. He also served as Duterte’s campaign manager during the 2016 presidential elections.

RJ Jacinto named as Duterte’s adviser for telecommunications – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte (center) with Ramon “RJ” Jacinto (right)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Information and Communication Undersecretary Ramon “RJ” Jacinto as his adviser for telecommunications, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Jacinto’s appointment papers were signed on November 25. He will have the rank of Secretary.

Jacinto previously served as Duterte’s Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology.

“We are therefore confident that PA Jacinto would ably and effectively discharge his duties in this new assignment,” Roque said in a statement.

Jacinto’s appointment was announced a day after the Palace told local telecommunications companies, Smart and Globe, to submit a report on the steps they have taken to comply with the Duterte’s call to construct more cell sites and expand their services before the end of the year.

Duterte in July threatened to shut down Smart and Globe if they fail to improve their services by December.

Makabayan Congressmen deny linkages to CPP-NPA as claimed by Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Makabayan congressmen vehemently deny linkages to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) after President Rodrigo Duterte himself identified the group as such.

Hindi ako miyembro ng Communist Party of the Philippines, maging ng NPA or ng NDF (I am not a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines, or the NPA, or the NDF),” said Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate in a press conference on Tuesday (December 1).

Zarate admits being an activist and a human rights lawyer but not a member of any group that targets destabilization of the current administration.

ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, meanwhile, accused the Duterte Administration of using the issue to divert the public’s attention from the government’s poor response to the current problems of the country.

“Patuloy na nililink ang mga progresibong organisasyon na talagang nagbubunyag ng kainutilan nitong Duterte administration,” Castro said adding that such a claim is the administration’s scheme to disqualify their group in the 2022 Elections.

The lawmakers claim it is a way to silence them for being critical of the government.

“With the statement of the President they will be further emboldened to intensify their attacks against us including even their objective to remove us from Congress, ipa-disqualify kami (to have us disqualified),” Zarate said.

The opposition group dares their critics who are claiming of having evidence linking them to the communist group to face them in court.

They are also hoping that the House leadership will support them given that House Speaker Allan Velasco once said in October that he will protect any member of the Lower House who is being tagged by Lt Gen Antonio Parlade Jr of the National task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict as members of the communist organization. 

Meanwhile, Malacañang questioned leaf-leaning organizations or militant groups why they cannot renounce the use of arms.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, it’s questionable that while they consistently deny claims linking them to the communist organization, they do not condemn the NPA’s armed activities.

Roque said it is not criminal to be a member of an organization but to become an advocate of armed struggle against the government is against the law.

“Kung ikaw ay member ng CPP, pwede kang maging legal but you have to renounce the use of arms. Magagaling naman sila sa parliamentary politics. Na-e-elect naman sila. Pinakamarami sila sa party list groups. Bakit hindi pa nila i-renounce ang use of arms,” Roque said.

[If you are a member of the CPP, you can be legal but you have to renounce the use of arms. They are good in parliamentary politics. They are being elected. They have the majority in party list groups. Why couldn’t they renounce the use of arms?]

“Pero habang hindi nila nire-renounce at habang sila po ay nakikibahagi pa sa paggamit ng dahas at sandata laban sa republika, criminal po iyan,” he concluded.

[But while not renouncing and while still supporting the use of arms or armed struggle against the Republic (of the Philippines), that’s criminal.] MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo / Rosalie Coz)

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