Duterte orders ban on vapes, EO to follow

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2019   •   868

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a ban on sale, importation and use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vapes.

Furthermore, the Chief Executive ordered law enforcement agencies to arrest anyone who would be caught vaping in all public places across the country.

The President is convinced that vaping poses more harm to people than smoking ordinary cigarettes.

“Vaping is also dangerous and I am banning it, and if you are smoking now, you will be arrested,” he announced during the press briefing on Tuesday (November 19) in Malacañang.

“I am banning the importation. Customs, you listen to it. I’m banning it altogether,” he added.

The President said he will issue an executive order to formalize his directive.

The Chief Executive’s announcement came after a recent report of the first e-cigarette vaping-associated lung injury (e-VALI) in the country.

“I have that urgent power to do it, so I’m ordering it,” he said.

“The EO will follow. I’m banning it because it’s contrary to public safety,” the President concluded. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Russia eyes establishing a pharma facility in PH for COVID-19, Duterte says

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that Russia is planning to establish a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine.

The President said he had a serious discussion on the said plan with outgoing Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev during the latter’s farewell courtesy call in Malacañang on October 14.

“I just had a talk with the ambassador of Russia, the outgoing, and we had a serious one-on-one talk. He said Russia is coming in. They want to establish here, gagawa sila ng pharmaceutical and vaccine papasok,” the President said.

He reiterated his preference to source the COVID-19 vaccine from either China or Russia once available.

He added that the government has already secured enough budget for the purchase of the initial batch of vaccines, although an additional amount is still needed to cover for the vaccination of the entire Filipino population.

“ I have the money already for the vaccine, but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera because you know there are 130 million Filipinos and to me ideally, all should have the vaccine without exception,” Duterte said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to announce final decision on reduced physical distancing in public transport

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte will make his final decision on Thursday (September 17) regarding the reduction of physical distancing in public transportation.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said doctors have opposing opinions on the matter and added that last meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Against COVID-19 even took six hours discussing the issue.

“Ang mga doctor iba-iba rin po ang mga pananaw. Wala pong isang opinyon pagdating dito sa pagbawas ng isang dangkal lang naman na social distancing sa pampublikong mga transportation (Our doctors have varying opinions. There is no unified opinion when it comes to social distancing in public transportation),” he said on Wednesday (September 16) during a press briefing.

Roque also said the IATF based their recommendation to reduce physical distancing on research and advice from doctors.

“Ang rekomendasyon po ay isusumite kay Preisdente. Si Presidente na po ang magde-decide (The recommendation has been submitted to the President and he will be the one to decide), Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte approves filing of cases against Morales, et al

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 15, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the filing of charges against former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) CEO Ricardo Morales and other officials allegedly involved in the ‘mass corruption’ inside the agency.

“The issue of PhilHealth corruption was really an important issue to the Filipinos and to everybody. And everybody again is also placed in jeopardy by the actions of the officials,” the President said.

“I’m sorry for them but you have to undergo trial. Although they can always prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence still attaches but the report of another agency says otherwise. So ganun ang nangyari sa PhilHealth. Halos lahat sa board,” he added.

Based on the investigation of Task Force PhilHealth, several officials have violations of withholding taxes regarding the interim reimbursement mechanism, graft, and malversion. They will also be facing charges for dishonesty, grave misconduct, disloyalty, gross neglect of duty, inefficiency and incompetence, as well as falsification of public documents.

The officials who will be facing the said charges aside from Morales are Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco Jr., Senior Vice President Jovita Aragona, Officer-in-Charge Calixto Gabuya Jr., Senior Vice President Israel Pargas, Executive Vice President and COO Arnel De Jesus, and Division Chief Bobby Crisostomo.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who is also leading the Task Force PhilHealth, said they are still continuing their investigation.

“Our composite teams will continue their ongoing investigations and special audits and file legal actions as they finish one case after another,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth released a statement saying the involved officials are prepared to follow the President’s mandate and will cooperate in the process. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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