Duterte orders gov’t agencies to identify savings from 2020 budget

Robie de Guzman   •   May 13, 2021   •   358

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed all government agencies to identify savings from their respective allocations under the 2020 national budget that may be used to fund additional coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic expenses.

Administrative Order No. 41 signed by Duterte on May 12 defines savings as:

  • Those which have not been obligated as a result of the completion, final discontinuance, or abandonment of programs, activities, or projects (PAP) for which the appropriation is authorized
  • Those corresponding to PAPs which have not been obligated as a result of the implementation of measures resulting in improved systems and efficiencies and thus enabled an agency to meet and deliver the required or planned targets, programs, and services at a lesser cost

 The AO stated that a report on such identified portions or balances of released appropriations, duly certified by the head of the agency and the budget and finance officers concerned, shall be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) within 15 days from the effectivity of the order.

On the basis of the certified reports submitted by the agencies, the DBM shall promptly determine and recommend to the president amounts that can be declared as savings under the 2020 national budget with due consideration to the extension of availability of appropriations thereof until December 31, 2021; and actual deficiencies in any existing item of appropriation under the same general appropriations act that need to be augmented, including, if necessary, items of appropriation for the provision of emergency subsidies to low-income households and disadvantaged or displaced workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing cases of COVID-19 infection call for intensified government-wide response and recovery measures, including various forms of socioeconomic relief and assistance to those affected by. The imposition of stricter levels of community quarantine,” the AO read.

The DBM was also directed to issue supplemental guidelines for the effective implementation of the order.

Filipinos are allowed to get vaccinated anywhere in PH — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can get inoculated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) anywhere in the country under the government’s “no wrong door policy” in its vaccination drive, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

 “Meron ho tayong tinatawag na no wrong door policy. Ibig sabihin, kung ikaw ay nagpunta sa Davao at ikaw ay puwede nang bakunahan, puwede ka bakunahan doon kahit hindi ka taga-Davao,” Health Undersecretary Mari Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“Hindi po natin sinasara ang ating mga pinto sa mga bakunahan dahil hindi ka taga doon na lugar,” she added.

The health official, however, stressed that the vaccination should be done through appointments and that walk-ins should be discouraged as this tends to result in crowding.

The DOH previously said that local government units may open separate walk-in lanes in their COVID-19 vaccination centers as walk-ins may be used as substitutes for those who are scheduled for inoculation but do no show up on a certain date.

The agency, however, said that the number of walk-ins that would be accommodated per day in jab sites should be limited.

The DOH earlier urged the public to pre-register for the vaccination and get inoculated when it’s their turn.

No favoritism in deployment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday denied claims it is favoring certain areas when it comes to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by American drug firm Pfizer-BioNTech.

The DOH issued the statement following reports that Davao City has received a substantial number of Pfizer jabs.

Davao City is President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that the national government is not giving any preferential treatment and that available vaccine doses in the country are allocated based on need and the prioritization framework.

“Wala pong paborito, base lang po sa pangangailangan, base lang po sa prioritization framework,” Vergeire said during a press briefing.

Reports claimed that Davao City got a huge number of Pfizer vaccine doses while other regions in Mindanao received fewer jabs.

But Dr. Adbullah Dumama Jr., DOH Undersecretary for the Visayas and Mindanao Field Implementation and Coordination team, said the 210,000 doses for Davao is for the whole region and not only for the City.

The same amount of Pfizer jabs were also allotted for Cebu Province, he added.

“Wala pong pagkakaiba yung doses na naibigay sa Cebu at sa Davao… Wala hong favoritism dito,” he said in the same briefing.

 “Hindi po ito pang Davao City lang. Sa Davao region po ito at yung mga karatig pook na merong mga pangangailangan sa Pfizer,” he added.

Dumama also said that Davao and Cebu areas were given Pfizer shots because they have ultra-low freezers that are capable of storing the vaccine.

“Nabigyan lang ito ng ganun kalaki [na allocation], kung sa palagay ninyo ay malaki, ay dahil sa tayo ay mayroong capability, meron po tayong ultra-low temperature freezers dito. Doon ho sa ibang lugar, wala pa pero dahil sa dito lang ito, maaari kaming magbigay as ibang lugar na nangnangailangan,” he said.

According to Vergeire, there are only five areas in the country that have yet to receive Pfizer vaccines due to lack of appropriate vaccine storage capability. There are the Bangsamoro region, Caraga, Regions 12, 5 and Mimaropa.

The Bangsamoro government earlier said it will pass a resolution that would authorize the procurement of ultra-low freezers and increase its vaccination centers in the region.

The national government has announced it has inked a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for the purchase of 40 million doses, which may be delivered starting August this year.

The DOH said it is now preparing to capacitate all regions in the country to handle the storage of Pfizer vaccines.

 

DOH says surge in COVID-19 cases in Visayas, Mindanao due to ‘multitude of factors’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The rise in COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao areas could be attributed to a “multitude of factors,” the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have noted some factors that have contributed to the spike in infections in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, including the complacency in enforcing and observing health protocols.

The DOH also observed the clustering of infections in workplaces and prisons in the said areas.

“Lagi po nating sinasabi na pag may tumataas po na kaso sa bawat lugar, we need to look at a multitude of factors because we know that there are these different factors which causes the transmission of the virus,” Vergeire said.

“Meron tayong pang-indibidwal at pang-komunidad na pagpapatupad po natin ng minimum health protocols at ‘pag tiningnan natin there are reports already coming to us from our different regional epidemiological and surveillance units na talagang mukhang nagkaroon ng complacency sa pagpapatupad ng health protocols,” she added.

Vergeire said the presence of coronavirus variants in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao may also have contributed to the surge.

“Totoo po na meron na tayong na-detect na variants sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Visayas and Mindanao and these can also be drivers of the infection but let us not just rely or let us not just say that it’s just because of the variants, there are a multitude of factors,” she said.

“Kailangan po kapag tayo ay tumitingin sa response natin, it’s a continuum. So we will need to address, not just the variants, but also the other forms of response that we are having,” she added.

Data from the DOH showed that active COVID-19 cases in the Visayas stood at 13,313, and 14,426 in Mindanao as of June 20.

The DOH reiterated its call to the public to continue adhering to health protocols mandated by the government to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

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