Gov’t assessing damage from Mindanao quake, calls on people to remain calm

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019   •   453

A bank building in Poblacion, Makilala, Cotabato sustains structural damage after a 6.6 earthquake hit Mindanao on October 29, 2019 |Photo by Soc Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has assured that concerned government agencies are closely monitoring the situation and assessing the damage following the magnitude 6.6 earthquake that rocked parts of Mindanao on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the national government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of Civil Defense as well as local government units, are undertaking rapid damage assessment in areas affected by the strong temblor.

“All responsible government agencies and local government units are currently undertaking rapid damage assessment and needs analysis of affected areas and communities in order to properly assess the situation and coordinate rescue and relief operations,” Panelo said in a statement.

He also urged citizens to remain calm but vigilant and to refrain from “spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people.”

“We also urge them to monitor developments through the alerts and bulletins of official government channels,” Panelo said.

The Philippine National Police, for its part, said it has mobilized its respective units to respond to calls for help, and provide necessary assistance to prevent the occurrence of crimes.

It also called on the public to stay calm to help maintain peace and order.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier reported that the earthquake, which occurred at 9:04 a.m. was tectonic in origin.

Its epicenter was located in Tulunan, Cotabato which was also hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that killed seven people last Oct. 16.

The tremor on Tuesday was also felt in nearby areas including in Davao, Zamboanga, Soccsksargen and Northern Mindanao regions.

Phivolcs said it is expecting damage and aftershocks from the quake but quelled fears it will generate tsunamis as it was an inland quake.

Formal complaint necessary for gov’t to act on alleged ‘pastillas’ scheme in BI

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang vowed to take action on the reported anomaly inside the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the so-called ‘pastillas’ scheme.

But the Palace said, it could only act on the matter once a formal complaint is filed.

“Any violation, any transgression, any anomaly, the Palace frowns on it and will act on it, if there are complaints formally filed before its office,” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Based on an expose by Senator Risa Hontiveros, BI personnel were allegedly taking bribes of up to P10,000 from Chinese nationals who wanted to enter and work in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry.

Panelo said the Palace is expecting BI Commissioner Jaime Morente to spearhead the investigation and enforce the necessary actions on involved BI personnel.

“The Immigration commissioner is tasked to do his job. Meaning, apart from the usual governing of his own territory, he has to know if there is an anomaly in his territory and respond to it,” the Palace Spokesperson said.

Five immigration officials were already relieved following the Senate inquiry yesterday.

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would not hesitate on stopping POGO operations in the country if evidence of corruption is proven because that would definitely have a huge impact on the country’s economy.

“Di ba sabi nga ni Presidente, ‘there is no sacred cow in this government. If it’s against the interest of the people and general welfare, I’ll stop it.’ This is the kind of President we have,” Panelo said. — MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace requires visitors, personnel to answer health declaration form amid nCoV threat

Robie de Guzman   •   February 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday started requiring Palace visitors and personnel to fill out a health declaration form amid the outbreak of deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Media members covering President Rodrigo Duterte’s event on Thursday afternoon were asked to answer the questions in the form, which include one’s personal information, travel history for the past 14 days and recent interactions with farm or wild animals.

All Malacañang visitors and personnel were required to sign the form prior to their entrance. Duterte is scheduled to lead the oath-taking ceremony of newly-appointed government officials in the Palace Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra said the move is part of the government’s measures to curb the spread of the virus.

The Palace’s action comes after the country confirmed three cases of novel coronavirus infection with one death.

The form also contains questions on one’s health and if they have experienced fever, cough, colds, and difficulty in breathing, which are among the symptoms of 2019-nCoV, in the last 14 days.

Palace guests and employees are advised to ensure that information given in the form is “true, correct, and complete.”

Failure to answer any question or giving of falsified information may merit serious consequences under the Revised Penal Code.

Aside from the distribution of health declaration form, Malacañang also implemented preventive measures including temperature screening and use of alcohol and hand sanitizer at the Palace gates. Those with body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher will be denied entry.

PSG members on Palace duty have also been required to wear face masks.

The Palace said the health protocol will be imposed until lifted by the Office of the President and the Department of Health.

Malacañang asks public to remain calm as PH confirms first nCoV case

Robie de Guzman   •   January 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – In light of the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country, a Malacañang official on Thursday urged the public not to panic and to keep calm as necessary precautionary measures are being taken to prevent the disease from spreading.

“We as the public not to panic and to remain calm as the government, especially the Department of Health (DOH), is on top of the situation,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

“We would like to assure them that the relevant health, research, and law enforcement agencies are working together to prevent the disease from spreading,” he added.

Andanar also assured that the DOH is in constant coordination and collaboration with health and research authorities in Australia, Japan, and China on implementing necessary undertakings on the matter.

“In fact, with the help of our counterparts in Japan, we are now capable of detecting and diagnosing 2019-nCoV-infected patients on our own,” he said.

He also said that government agencies have intensified their containment measures and that necessary precautionary measures are in place to address this health concern. 

“With the continuous inflow of travelers coming from affected areas in China, we will continue to conduct necessary stringent customs, immigration, and quarantine measures to prevent the disease from spreading within the country,” he said.

Andanar also assured that authorities will continue to coordinate with Chinese officials for the repatriation efforts for Filipinos in China.

A coronavirus hotline will also be created to assist the Filipinos there.

He also called on the public to observe all health and preventive advisories issued by the DO, as well as practice proper hygiene and cleanliness in order to prevent the likelihood of contracting the virus.

“Please remain vigilant and coordinate with your local barangay health centers should you observe symptoms associated with the 2019-nCoV,” he said.

The DOH earlier confirmed that a 38-year old Chinese woman is the country’s first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV.

She arrived in the Philippines from China on January 21, and sought treatment for her mild cough on January 25.

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