Ex-Senator Alvarez, wife Cecille Guidote battling with COVID-19 – DAR

Robie de Guzman   •   March 31, 2020   •   1800

Former secretary, Heherson Alvarez with wife, Cecille Guidote-Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines – Employees of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Tuesday said they have been offering prayers for the recovery of the agency’s former secretary, Heherson Alvarez, who has been infected with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, DAR said Alvarez is confined in a hospital in Manila, with his wife Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, who is also battling the dreaded disease.

DAR said both are “in critical condition.”

“The couple was said to have been placed under intubation after their condition got worse,” the agency said.

“The DAR employees wish that the Alvarezes survive the scary virus, which has claimed the lives of close to a hundred Filipinos all over the country,” it added.

80-year old Heherson Alvarez, also a former senator, headed DAR from 1986 to 1987. He also served as congressman for Isabela province.

His wife Cecille, 76, is the founder of the Philippine Educational Theater Association and developed a practical program for national theater which won her a Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1972.

DOJ dismisses complaint vs Koko Pimentel on violating quarantine protocols

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the complaint against Senator Aquilino Pimentel due to a lack of probable cause.

Private lawyer and former law dean Rico Quicho filed a complaint against Pimentel for violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events Act of 2018.

In March of last year, the Makati Medical Center (MMC) reported that the senator breached the MMC-Delivery Complex’s strict infection and containment protocols.

Quicho’s complaint alleged that Pimentel breached quarantine protocols after escorting his wife at the MMC while still undergoing quarantine.

In a statement, the Office of the Prosecutor-General said the Senator is not obliged to report under the said Republic Act since it is meant for public health authorities.

“Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority (i.e. he is not the DOH, the RITM, the Epidemiology Bureau), therefore, not obliged to report under R.A. No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under R.A. No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only,” according to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

It added that Pimentel was also not aware of his condition when he was escorting his wife in the hospital and that he immediately cooperated upon learning of his condition.

“There was nothing to report then when he went to S&R BGC on 16 March 2020 or at MMC hospital on 24 March 2020 for Senator Koko Pimentel only knew or learned about his condition of being positive for COVID-19 on the same day – 24 March 2020, while he was already at the premises of the hospital,” the statement further reads.

Meanwhile, in a short statement, the senator welcomed the ruling of the DOJ.

“That decision is unassailable and correct. Tama naman yan. The complaint criminally charged me for violation of non-penal DOH issuances which are not even addressed to me. How can something non criminal all of a sudden become criminal when you are not even expected to be knowledgeable or an expert about their contents?” Pimentel said.

“And the person who charged me was not even anywhere near me or the place of the incident. Kakapagtaka why he became all of a sudden the source of the allegations,” he added.

On the other hand, Atty. Quicho expressed his dismay over the said verdict.

He pointed out how policies change “arbitrarily contingent on who receives the shorter end of a stick.”

“We are sadly reminded of a fish vendor in Quezon City who was violently arrested for failure to comply with government regulations. He was beaten with a stick, dragged, and humiliated in public,” Quicho said. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Bill on ‘vaccine passport’ program filed at Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines A bill seeking to establish a vaccine passport program in the country has been filed at the Senate ahead of the roll-out of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1999 or the “Vaccine Passport Program Act,” Senator Pia Cayetano proposes the creation of a registry of individuals who have been inoculated with which kind of vaccine, when and how many doses were administered, and other matters related to the government’s vaccination plan.

The vaccine passport shall contain the following standard information: manufacturer, brand name, and batch number or other identifiers of the COVID-19 vaccine; date of vaccination; the name of the hospital, health center, or health facility where the vaccine was received; and name, signature and license number of the duly licensed physician, nurse or other health worker administering the vaccine.

Cayetano said the vaccine passport shall primarily be digital but shall also be available through printed copies.

She said this program will help the government keep track of every Filipino’s record of COVID-19 vaccinations and monitor the distribution of vaccines and their effect on individuals.

The measure further recommended that holders of vaccine passports be granted certain benefits or exemptions, subject to guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

These benefits could include international travel, as may be allowed in foreign jurisdictions; non-essential domestic travel; local checkpoint and quarantine exemptions; and access to business establishments allowed to operate during the New Normal.

The bill also stated that “individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 as indicated in the Vaccine Passport shall not be considered immune from COVID-19 unless otherwise declared by the Department of Health based on reliable scientific evidence and consensus.”

The measure mandates the Department of Health to issue the implementing guidelines for the proposed program.

Gordon files bill to expand country’s pool of vaccinators

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon has filed a bill seeking to expand the country’s pool of vaccinators for the immunization program of the government.

Gordon, in a statement, said Senate Bill No. 1987 will allow training for other members in the medical field, as well as, non-medical practitioners.

“Since we have a limited number of doctors, nurses, and midwives that will aid in the COVID-19 vaccination program, we filed a bill that expands the pool of vaccinators of the DOH by training other professionals such as dentists, veterinarians, medical technologists, and even those without a medical background to be vaccinators,” he said.

Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 1987 states that non-medical practitioners that will be part of the training will be allowed provided that they will be given the appropriate training, certification and authority by the Department of Health (DOH), and that they will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only contingent upon the existence of the national health emergency for which it is called.

Non-medical practitioners will be given appropriate training, certification, and authority by the Department of Health (DOH).

The filed bill also states that the trained individuals will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only, subject to the existence of a national health emergency.

“If we expand the manpower for the vaccination program, the government’s target of inoculating 50 to 70 million Filipinos to be able to achieve herd immunity or population immunity can be attained,” Gordon added.

According to the DOH, only 617,239 health care workers from both public and private health institutions will be able to help in administering the COVID-19 vaccines. -AAC


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