Only Roque, DFA’s Locsin allowed to speak on WPS issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2021   •   485

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday defended the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte for his Cabinet officials to refrain from talking about the West Philippine Sea issue in public.

Duterte issued the order after he was advised by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to just ignore the critics of his foreign policy and his approach in resolving the maritime dispute with China.

Enrile appeared in Duterte’s weekly public address on Monday night to discuss the issue on the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said only his spokesperson, Harry Roque, and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. are allowed to speak up on the issue.

“The instruction of the President was clear. Only the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and myself can speak on the issue now,” Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

When asked if the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) can still issue press statements about its maritime patrols in the region, Roque said the task force will now have to forward its reports to the DFA for appropriate action.

“Reports of the NTF are forwarded to the DFA and they will determine if they will file diplomatic protests so these are matters, facts which are relevant to diplomatic communications covered by executive privilege,” Roque said.

“Although there is transparency, an exemption to transparency are diplomatic communications and that includes also input which forms part of diplomatic communications,” he added.

The NTF-WPS regularly releases statements and images of Chinese vessels encroaching the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The DFA has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests over the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

PH posts 18,659 new COVID-19 infections

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Friday logged 18,659 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the nationwide tally of confirmed cases to 2,453,328 since the pandemic began.

In its latest bulletin, the Department of Health said the new single-day tally brought the number of active cases to 175,324.

Of these cases, 88.1 percent are mild, 2.84 percent are moderate, 6.9 percent are asymptomatic, 1.5 percent are severe, and 0.7 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH said only one accredited testing laboratory failed to submit data on time.

Meanwhile, total recoveries rose to 2,240,599 after 9,088 more patients recuperated from the viral respiratory disease.

The death toll remained at 37,405 as no new fatalities were reported.

The DOH also reported a positivity rate of 24.2 percent out of the 76,624 tests conducted on Sept. 22.

Positive COVID-19 antigen test results now included in case count – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 through rapid antigen tests will now be included in the Philippines’ case count, Malacañang said Friday.

In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) reached the decision during their meeting on Thursday in an aim to improve the reporting of COVID-19 cases.

“’Yan po ang ating objective para mas maging mabuti yung picture natin kung ilan ang total cases natin,” Roque said.

He, however, clarified that these tests will be subjected to confirmatory tests.

The use of antigen test is mostly effective for people who already manifested symptoms within the first five days of their onset as the viral load of the patient is at the highest during this time.

In line with this, the IATF directed the Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development to monitor and facilitate registration of facilities using rapid antigen kits.

They must also ensure that antigen line tests are collected and consolidated from health facilities, localities, as well as temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

“Kaugnay nito, ang Department of Health NCR Center for Health Development ay inatasang mag-facilitate ng registration ng facilities na gumagamit ng rapid antigen kits,” he said.

“Augmentation of disease surveillance surveillance staff and encoders are considered to ensure that line lists are generated and submitted on a daily basis,” he added.

As of Sept. 23, the Philippines has 165,780 active COVID-19 cases based on DOH data.

COVID-19 vaccines administered in PH now at 43 million – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has so far administered a total of 43,088,582 COVID-19 doses since the vaccination program was rolled out in March, Malacañang said Friday.

During a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that 23,416,857 people in the country have received their first shot while 19,671,725  are already fully vaccinated.

Roque said this is 25.50 percent of the country’s target population to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Philippine government is looking to inoculate up to 90 percent of the country’s population to achieve protection against coronavirus infections.

Roque also reported that in the National Capital Region, a total of 15,175,704 doses have been administered.

The figure is 69.93 percent of the total vaccination target in the capital region.

Of these vaccine jabs, 8,339,430 were given as first dose while 6,836,274 were administered as second doses, he added.

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