NCR mayors, medical experts back Duterte decision on GCQ status

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021   •   289

MANILA, Philippines – Mayors in the National Capital Region (NCR) give all out support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to keep the region under general community quarantine (GCQ) classification unless the COVID-19 vaccination program has been rolled out, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Tuesday.

MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos said local chief executives in the NCR would ‘rally behind’ the president even if most of them have voted in favor of the proposal to put the region under modified GCQ in March to help revive the country’s economy.

“As what we have always emphasized, the Metro Manila mayors would always defer to the wisdom and judgement of the President,” Abalos said in a statement.

“We are one with him, and would exert all efforts and rally behind him in combating this COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) earlier recommended the shift to MGCQ to reopen the economy that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In separate statements, NCR mayors welcomed Duterte’s decision on the matter as they vowed to implement stricter health protocols to curb the spread of the viral disease.

“I am grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for declaring that Metro Manila remain under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) until the vaccines against COVID-19 are rolled out and made available to Filipinos,” San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora said.

“We’ve already anticipated what to do, ramping up contact tracing, testing and early detection,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

Medical experts from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, for their part, said that the shift to MGCQ will only be possible if the public will religiously follow the minimum health protocols set by the government.

“Based on previous experience I know that we know that we are not good in self-regulation, is that gonna change once we move into MGCQ? I think that’s the question every Filipino should answer,” Dr. Kathryn Roa said.

“I know that lockdown is hard but I just feel like the minute that we try to relax the lockdown or the quarantine it will somehow translate to people thinking that everything is well and I think they will start not minding wearing the mask, not minding wearing the shield, the physical distancing,” Dr. Faith Villanue said.

They also urged the public not to squander the efforts being put in to fight the pandemic and to continue observing protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

Duterte to wait for FDA approval before using Sinopharm vax – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will wait for China-state-owned Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before receiving a dose, his spokesperson said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after the FDA confirmed that it has received Sinopharm’s application for an EUA that was filed on Monday afternoon.

“Mag-aantay po si president ng EUA dahil nabalita ko nga kahapon, mayroon na pong nag-apply ng EUA for the Sinopharm,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Securing an EUA from the FDA is part of the process for a vaccine to be legally used in the country.

The FDA earlier approved a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for the members of the Presidential Security Group.

The agency, however, clarified that the issuance of such a permit is not tantamount to a stamp of approval.

Duterte earlier expressed a preference for Sinopharm developed COVID-19 vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte plans to visit China to personally thank President Xi for COVID vaccine donations

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit China to personally thank President Xi Jinping for donating 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines.

“I’d like to just say that towards the — maybe at the end of the year, when everything has settled down — I intend to make a short visit to China to just shake hands with President Xi Jinping and to personally thank him for this donation,” he said.

President Duterte noted China’s gesture of delivering the vaccine through its government military aircraft unlike other countries who needed to pick up the supply from China.

“I would like to just add that China has donated several vaccines to several countries. But it is only the donation made to the Philippines that was carried by a Chinese government plane. Iyong iba kinukuha doon sa China. Dito, hinatid sa atin,” he said.

The Chief Executive said he may push a trip to China by the end of the year.

Before heading to Beijing, the President said he wanted to visit Xiamen to see the school building that was built in honor of his late mother, Soledad.

“Maybe I’ll go to Xiamen. There’s a school built to honor my mother. You know, my mother was one of the first educators of the Chinese school in Davao,” he said.

Duterte insisted during Sunday’s arrival of China’s Sinovac vaccine that China has not requested anything in return for the donated vaccine adding that the donation is a “gesture of friendship and solidarity” between the two countries. 

Duterte still awaiting doctor’s advice on COVID vaccination

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday (February 28) said, if he were to be asked, he wants to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

But due to advanced age, he said he needs his doctor’s clearance particularly on which brand of vaccine to get inoculated with.

The President is taking into consideration the experts’ advice to be more careful in choosing a vaccine for individuals like him who are past the age of 70.

“As to what brand, iyan ang problema because it is left to the sound discretion of my doctor,” he said.

“May caveat pa ‘yan. Seventy above  people are, you know, sinasabi nila huwag na. In some areas, some countries, hindi na binabakunahan ‘yang 70. It’s either because they are nearing death or about to die or it could be useless to give them the vaccine because anyway they won’t live long,” he added.

Still, the President believes and is willing to get inoculated against COVID-19.

President Duterte is turning 76 years old on March 28.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced that the Office of the President is studying the possibility of giving the Chief Executive COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm, the brand of vaccine administered to the members of his Presidential Security Group.

READ: Office of the President eyeing Sinopharm vaccine for PRRD under compassionate use

Roque said it was also President Duterte’s brand of choice. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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