Duterte wants government-to-government deal for COVID-19 vaccines

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2020   •   295

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Tuesday that he is more inclined to having a government-to-government deal in procuring coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to prevent the risk of corruption.

The chief executive reiterated that the country will not beg other nations for access to vaccines, and that he favors purchasing vaccines from China or Russia. The two countries have submitted their applications to conduct clinical trials for their inoculations in the Philippines.

Hindi kami hihingi (we will not beg), we will pay,” Duterte said in a taped address to the nation aired on Tuesday (Oct. 27).

So maganda sana government to government ang transaction. Walang korapsyon, wala lahat kasi government to government (It would be better for the transaction to be government-to-government. No corruption, no nothing because its government-to-government),” he said.

Duterte also said that he had a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on the status of their vaccine.

“We had a meeting with Ambassador Huang. He said the vaccine is there. It would be a matter of paano i-distribute (the manner of distribution) and what kind of transaction would it be for them and for us,” he said.

China’s Sinovac Biotech shall be starting the late-stage trials of its vaccine in the Philippines in November after the Food and Drug Administration has completed the evaluation of its application.

The Philippine government is also evaluating Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit for their application to conduct the Phase 3 trials of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Philippine authorities are also in talks with drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and with Moderna Inc. as potential suppliers.

The government has initially allotted $400 million to buy 40 million doses for 20 million Filipinos, as part of the administration’s plan to have the entire population inoculated.

As of Sunday (Oct. 25), the Philippines recorded 2,223 new coronavirus infections, and 43 more fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 370,028 cases, and 6,977 deaths. —/mbmf

Face-to-face classes will only be allowed upon Duterte, IATF approval – DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education has stressed that it will only allow the conduct of face-to-face classes upon the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the government’s policy prohibiting in-person classes will remain amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the department is looking into the possibility of reintroducing face-to-face classes next year.

She said a report to be submitted to the president on the opening of classes and DepEd’s recommendations is being finalized.

“We are preparing a report for the President on our current experience with the opening of classes, at klaro naman na kung magkaroon ng face to face, it will be very limited to areas which are absolutely safe. There will be conditions from the Department of Health; there will also be conditions coming from us. Hindi po lahat-lahat, [hindi] sabay-sabay iyan na mag-face to face, kung payag si President,” Briones said.

“At saka, depende sa approach iyan, kasi iyong number of students, etc. So we are [also] now looking into that,” she added.

The school year opened last October 5 with blended forms of learning through self-learning modules, internet and TV- and radio-based instructions.

The DepEd chief also reiterated its earlier statement that it did not approve any localized and limited face-to-face learning workshops.

“Uulitin ko, definitely not this year at definitely walang mga arrangements right now with kung sinumang mga grupo na magpi-face to face at this time because the President has not made any pronouncement at all. Pero [patuloy kaming] magri-report kami sa kaniya,” Briones said.

Meanwhile, the Education chief also directed a study on reconceptualizing learning spaces post-COVID, which include not just classroom, but homes, community spaces, and virtual space.

DOT slams ‘Halloween party’ in Boracay for violating physical distancing

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday slammed the Halloween party held recently at the Casa de Arte in Boracay for violating physical distancing protocols.

In a statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the department supports the recommendation of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group to close down the erring establishment.

Puyat also said the resort lacked business permit and necessary clearances as determined by the authorities.

She also reminded local government units (LGUs), business establishments, and guests in the island to strictly observe the duly prescribed health and safety guidelines as determined by the Interagency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

“The jobs and livelihoods that were recently restored in these sites will be affected once again if an outbreak occurs in the area due to the LGU’s negligence. We urge our LGUs to please take our health and safety protocols seriously,” she said. AAC

Duterte to announce new quarantine classification on Nov. 30

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 26, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte is set to announce on Monday (November 30) the new quarantine classification that will be implemented for the month of December.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez said there might be an ease in the restrictions after the holiday season.

Several areas in the country, including Metro Manila, are currently under general community quarantine (GCQ) for the month of November while other areas are under modified GCQ.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the President will make an announcement on Monday even though it is a holiday.

“I have had to personally change my schedule because I was told na magkakaroon ng talk to the people po ang Presidente sa a-trenta ng Nobyembre (that the President will have a talk to the people on November 30) which is a holiday,” he said during a press briefing. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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