Duterte orders PH Coast Guard to patrol Batanes Islands

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2019   •   990

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to conduct patrol operations in Batanes islands to ensure that these areas would “remain ours.”

During a situation briefing with local officials, Duterte asked the PCG to guard and patrol the islands from time to time in light of China’s reclamation activities near the Philippine waters.

“You might want to ask the Coast Guard to — pumunta dito, mag-istambay lang, palit-palit lang, (go here, stay a bit, switch every now and then) to patrol the island from time to time,” he said.

“Not every day, but just to assure that those islands will remain ours,” he added.

China has been claiming ownership in the South China Sea, refusing to follow the 2016 international arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines’ claims. Other claimants to the disputed waters are Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The chief executive also expressed interest in upgrading the runways at the Batanes airport to make the delivery of relief supplies easier and “for national security reasons.”

“It could be a very crucial factor in the days to come. Not in our generation, but malay mo… it would be good to be prepared so that if we have to defend those islands there, you have to have a launching deck somewhere here,” Duterte said.

Batanes has two runways – one in the island of Batan in the provincial capital of Basco and another in the island of Itbayat which is used by small aircraft. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte fires OCD Deputy Administrator Kristoffer James Purisima

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has dismissed Kristoffer James Purisima as deputy administrator assistant secretary of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, the President decided to remove Purisima from office due to “loss of trust and confidence.”

Roque could not tell, however, under what circumstance prompted the President to fire Purisima.

Wala na po akong ibang impormasyon (I don’t have additional information) other than he was terminated due to loss of trust and confidence,” Roque confirmed.

The OCD is the government’s main unit responsible for disaster preparedness and response in times of calamity.

Prior to his position in OCD, Purisima served as spokesperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte on short visit to Davao City — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   May 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte travelled to Davao City on Friday (May 15) to visit his family.

The President opted to stay in Metro Manila in the past two months to focus on his work amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and due to tight restrictions under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). 

Aside from family visit, the President intended to check on the situation in Mindanao relative to the health crisis.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is now in Davao City to visit his family whom he has not seen in months and to assess the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in Mindanao,” Roque said. 

The Palace spokesman assured, however, that the President will be present in the scheduled meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 on Tuesday (May 19). 

“Rest assured that he will be back in Malacañang in time for the next IATF briefing,’ Roque concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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