Palace asks all sectors to unite, help gov’t end COVID-19 pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021   •   391

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has urged all sectors in the country to unite and help in government efforts to combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the appeal as he cited measures implemented by the government to slow down the virus transmission and shrugged off criticism over the Duterte administration’s handling of the public health crisis.

In a statement, Roque said the government has intensified testing, tracing, isolation, treatment, and vaccination efforts to address the COVID-19 spike.

Citing global data, the Palace official said that the Philippines ranks third after India and China in terms of tests per million population, while in terms of total tests conducted, the Philippines is second after Indonesia among ASEAN countries, with more than 10, 421,636 tests conducted, as of April 5, 2021.

“We have a weekly average of 52,565 tests from April 4-10, and reaching a high of 63,839 tests conducted last April 8, 2021,” Roque added.

On tracing, Roque said the government has strengthened and improved the use of Staysafe.ph system by using automatic contact tracing through Smart Messaging System and the supplementation of around 27,672 contact tracers in the NCR Plus.

The NCR Plus refers to the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna. The area was previously placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 11 due to a surge in coronavirus infections and later reverted to modified ECQ until April 30.

Malacañang also said that the government built more facilities to augment the need for quarantine centers.

“On isolation, the Department of Public Works and Highways continue to build facilities and mobile hospitals to augment the need for quarantine facilities, including the activation of more than 1,700 beds, including the recently opened 110-bed capacity modular hospital in Quezon Institute and 300-bed capacity Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility in The Manila Times College of Subic, Inc.,” he said.

Efforts are also being made to accommodate and better serve patients with COVID-19, Roque said.

“On treatment, we have set up a One Hospital Command to better serve patients in need of hospitalization. Medical facilities have likewise given to increase its dedicated beds COVID-19 after the President directed the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to settle its obligation with hospitals while mainstreaming telemedicine in local government units,” he said.

“A total of 136 healthcare workers from the Visayas and Mindanao have been deployed to different facilities in Metro Manila,” he added.

Roque also pointed out that the Philippines is the third highest in vaccine rollout in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with 1.2 million doses administered.

“On vaccination, we have reached the one million mark in terms of total COVID-19 vaccines administered,” he said.

Roque reminded critics that the spike in COVID-19 cases is not only happening in the Philippines but in other countries as well.

“Critics and the detractors of the Administration have always something to say. It is worth mentioning that the increase in the number of cases is seen not only in the Philippines, but it is reflected worldwide as per World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe,” he said.

He, however, acknowledged that much more can be done to ramp up efforts to respond to the prevailing public health crisis.

“We call on all sectors to unite and help the government in putting an end to this dreadful pandemic,” he said.

Employees getting COVID-19 vaccine during 3-day drive will not be marked absent — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has declared the dates November 29, 30 and December 1 as Bayanihan, Bakunahan COVID-19 vaccination days, according to a document released by the Malacañang on Wednesday.

Under Proclamation No. 1253, employees and workers of the government and the private sector, who will be vaccinated during this period, shall not be considered absent from their work.

“Provided that they present proof of vaccination to their respective employers, subject to rules that may be issued by the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and the Civil Service Commission,” the order read.

Duterte said the three-day vaccination campaign will be led by the Department of Health, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, in cooperation with the National Task Force against COVID-19.

He directed concerned government agencies and local government units (LGU) to provide necessary support for the effective implementation of the program.

“The LGUs shall mobilize all resources, stakeholders, health human resource and constituents within their areas of jurisdiction to achieve the objectives of the national COVID-19 vaccination days,” he said.

The president also urged medical and allied health associations, faith-based, civil society and non-government organizations, and the private sector to actively participate in the three-day campaign.

“All health workers, including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dentists, and medical technologists, are called upon to extend their full support and cooperation in providing COVID-19 vaccination during the three-day campaign,” Duterte said.

The three-day COVID-19 vaccination drive aims to inoculate 15 million Filipinos across 16 regions outside of Metro Manila.

This is part of government efforts to scale up the vaccination rate to achieve its target to inoculate over 70% of the country’s population by May 2022.

To date, at least 34 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated since the immunization drive started in March.

Philippines agrees to resume joint marine scientific research expedition with Vietnam

Maris Federez   •   November 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Viet Nam on Wednesday (November 17) held the 9th Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns (JPWG-MOC).

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the joint session done via video conferencing was “aimed at upholding the rule of the law in the South China Sea and the revival of the joint marine scientific research expedition, which has been halted since 2007.”

DFA-Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office Assistant Secretary Maria Angela A. Ponce led the Philippine delegation; while the Viet Nam delegation was led by National Boundary Committee (NBC) Vice Chairman Nguyễn Mạnh Đông.

“The Philippines and Viet Nam discussed various initiatives for science-based cooperation particularly on marine scientific research, marine environment protection, and hydrometeorology in the 9th JPWG-MOC,” the DFA said.

“Both delegations also substantively covered other issues, including coordination within regional and international fora, fisheries, and maritime security cooperation,” it added.

The DFA said the JPWG-MOC serves as the main platform for dialogue and coordination, practical cooperation, and capacity-building activities among the Philippines and Viet Nam’s maritime agencies.

It is a specialized mechanism established under the Philippines-Viet Nam Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC).

Convened annually, the last JPWG-MOC was held in 2019.  The COVID-19 pandemic halted it in 2020. —/mbmf

Harry Roque to seek Senate post in 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday confirmed he would run for senator in the 2022 national elections.

Roque made the announcement during a Palace briefing, on the last day of filing for substitution of candidates for next year’s polls.

“Ito na po ang huling araw na makakasama n’yo ako bilang inyong presidential spox, IATF spox at spox ng bayan,” he said.

“Masaya akong mission accomplished na po tayo. Iiwan ko ang trabaho ko na mas mabuti kumpara sa ating nadatnan,” he added.

Roque said he will be running for Senate with the endorsement of vice presidential aspirant, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

“Babalik po sana tayo sa Kongreso ng Pilipinas, doon po sa Kamara ng Senado… Nais ko pong maging action man sa Senado,” he said.

Roque previously said he would run for senator next year if Sara Duterte-Carpio will seek a national post.

He ended his press briefing with a video message from Duterte-Carpio endorsing his candidacy.

“Ito po ang inyong spox Harry Roque na nagsasabi, I love you, Philippines,” he said.

Roque served as presidential spokesman in 2018 but he quit his post to run for senator in the 2019 elections. He later withdrew his candidacy due to health reasons.

He returned as Duterte’s spokesperson in 2020.

Malacañang has yet to announce Roque’s replacement.

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