Palace urges public to continue observing health protocols this holiday season

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 25, 2020   •   124

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has urged the public to continue practicing minimum health safety protocols during the holidays.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., on Tuesday (November 24) said the Department of Health (DOH) is already preparing for a contingency plan for a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Mas mabuti nang maagap, sabi nga. Sa ngayon, alam natin na ang Christmas season ay isang masayang okasyon sa Pilipinas kung saan marami ang pagtitipon, pagkikita-kita at reunions ng mga miyembro ng pamilya at mahal sa buhay […] siguraduhin na sa darating na holiday season ay mapapanatili natin ang minimum public health standards, (It is better to be prepared. We know that Christmas season is a merry occasion in the Philippines where there are reunions with family members and loved ones […] make sure that this holiday season we can maintain minimum public health standards)” he said during a press briefing.

The DOH already released Circular 2020-0355 where classified as safe activities are attending online masses, noche buena or media noche with the family inside the home. This also includes online video calls among family members who are apart during the holiday season, and shopping in online stores.

Moderate risk are small gatherings in public areas that take into consideration physical distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings while high risk activities include physical attendance in indoor religious activities with many attendees, shopping in crowded malls and tiangge, big gatherings in enclosed spaces, and singing, speaking loudly, and physical contact. AAC

Palace hopeful US-PH ties to continue under Biden

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday (January 21) said the Philippines’ foreign policy with the United States (US) will remain under the administration of US President Joe Biden.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said both countries have similar priorities, including the interest of the citizens.

“Ang ating relasyong panlabas pareho namang consistent ang ating polisiya. Ang president po ay isinusulong ang indipendienteng panlabas na relasyon na ang inuuna po ay interes ng ating bayan at sambayanang Pilipino. Ganoon din po ang mga Amerikano (Our policies are consistent with our foreign relations. The president is pushing for an independent foreign relation which prioritizes the interest of Filipinos. Americans are also the same),” he said.

Roque noted both countries are also prioritizing their own national interest and independence as a nation.

“Isusulong nila ang pang-nasyonal na interes at siyempre po ang pakikipagkaibigan pero ang mga bansa ang kinakailangang isulong, ang kani-kaniyang interes (They are pushing for their national interest and of course, foreign ties, but the countries have their own interests to pursue),” the Palace official added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier on Thursday sent his congratulatory message to President Joe Biden for the latter’s inauguration.

“Our president, Rodrigo Duterte, sends his warmest greetings and his best wishes to the 46th president of the United States, Joseph “Joe” Biden and to his vice president Kamala Harris,” Roque announced.

Meanwhile, several political analysts said the Biden Administration might be more vocal regarding the human rights situation in the country, particularly the national government’s war against drugs. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mutuality not required to end UP-DND Pact – Roque

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday expressed his belief that mutuality is not a requirement to abrogate the agreement between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) which, for decades, has prevented state forces from entering UP campuses without prior coordination.

Roque, a UP alumnus, said the pact between the UP and DND is not a usual type of agreement.

“This is an unusual contract. It is an extraordinary contract. It is an act of beneficence of the state in the sense that it suspends the exercise of jurisdiction in a given territory. So I don’t think mutuality is required, and I’m speaking as a lawyer,” Roque said in a media interview.

The DND unilaterally terminated its decades-old agreement with UP, citing information that communist rebels are recruiting students inside UP campuses as new members.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said that the deal, which was signed in 1989, is “obsolete” and that the through the years of its enforcement, the UP has become “a breeding ground” and “a safe haven for enemies of the state.”

UP President Danilo Concepcion has appealed to the DND to reconsider its decision.

In response to the UP administration’s appeal, Lorenzana said he is willing to sit down and talk but the university has to explain why its students have been among those killed in armed encounters between government forces and the New People’s Army.

Roque said he has offered his office as a venue for discussion between Lorenzana and Concepcion.

“I will offer my good office so that the UP President and the Secretary of National Defense can discuss this matter,” he said.

The UP Community has denounced the abrogation of the accord, saying this threatens academic freedom. Various groups have also expressed fears of unlawful arrests, which were earlier allayed by Lorenzana. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Roque: Listen to vaccine experts, not social media influencers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Monday (January 18) advised the public to trust experts and not social media influencers regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

During a press briefing, Roque said it is wrong to compare vaccines to detergent soap which is an apparent reply to a tweet of comedian Vice Ganda.

Roque said there is less supply of vaccines compared to the supply of clothing detergents. He also reiterated that vaccine experts are more knowledgeable on which COVID-19 vaccines are better.

Nag-aagawan nga po tayo sa 18% na supply. Pangalawa, hindi lang naman po gagamitin para sa damit. Kaya nga po, hindi lang po isa, hindi lang po dalawa, kundi tatlong grupo pa ng mga eksperto ang magsusuri kung ang mga bakuna ay ligtas at epektibo (We are vying for 18% of [vaccine] supply. Secondly, it will not be used for clothing. Three groups of vaccine experts are reviewing which vaccines are safe and effective),” he said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz).

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