PH deploys resupply vessels to Ayungin Shoal

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2021   •   140

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military has deployed its resupply boats to Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) several days after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and harassed Filipino vessels in the same area.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the ships left Oyster Bay in Palawan this morning, and are expected to reach the shoal where Philippine troops are stationed on Tuesday.

Lorenzana said the vessels were deployed after Chinese envoy Huang Xilian gave assurance that the resupply mission will not be impeded.

“Pero pakiusap nila, walang escort,” he said.

Lorenzana said he and Huang have been in constant communication following the incident in Ayungin Shoal last week where two Philippine boats in resupply missions were blocked and harassed by three Chinese coast guard ships.

No one was hurt in the incident but the mission was aborted as one of the two boats sustained damage. The boats were transporting food to military personnel stationed in the shoal.

Beijing earlier claimed the Philippine boats “trespassed” into China’s territory and that its coast guard vessels only “performed official duties in accordance with law.”

But Lorenzana maintained that the Ayungin Shoal is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and that it was the Chinese vessels that violated the country’s sovereign rights.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier expressed dismay over the incident and said he has conveyed the Philippine government’s protest to China’s foreign ministry.

The Ayungin Shoal (also called Second Thomas Shoal) is about 105 nautical miles from Palawan. The shoal is currently occupied by Philippine troops. (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Philippines logs 425 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Tuesday recorded 425 new cases of COVID-19, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.

The latest figure pushed the country’s total caseload to 2,832,734, the DOH said.

Around 0.6% or 15,800 of this number are active cases – 47.5% are mild, 5.3% are asymptomatic, 24.42% are moderate, 16.0% are severe, and 6.8% are in critical condition.

COVID-19 related deaths increased to 48,545 with 44 new fatalities.

Total recoveries rose to 2,768,389 after 909 more patients recovered from the viral disease.

The positivity rate was at 2.1% based on results of samples from 24,442 individuals tested on November 28.

Two accredited testing laboratories were not operational last Sunday while four others failed to submit data on time, the DOH noted.

The ICU bed utilization rate nationwide was at 26% while 25% in the National Capital Region.

Pagpapatupad ng mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, nakasalalay sa Kongreso – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Nakasalalay sa Kongreso ang pagbalangkas ng batas kung gagawing sapilitan sa bansa ang pagpapabakuna kontra COVID-19.

Ito ang naging pahayag ng Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) matapos sabihin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na payag siyang gawing mandatory ang COVID-19 vaccination sa Pilipinas sa harap ng banta ng bagong COVID-19 variant na Omicron.

Ayon kay acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, wala sa kapangyarihan ng IATF na pilitin ang publiko na tumanggap ng COVID-19 vaccine.

“Kailangan po ng batas, mas magiging… mas magkakaroon ng mandatory enforcement kapag meron pong batas mula sa Congress at mapirmahan ni Pangulong Duterte, so it is up to congress to feel the need kung kinakailangan magkaroon ng batas to make it mandatory,” ani Nograles.

“As far as IATF is concerned, patuloy pa rin po ang ating pagmi-meeting tungkol d’yan at paguusap namin sa proposal na yan,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, iiminungkahi naman ni Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año na higpitan na lamang ang mga polisiya para sa mga hindi pa bakunado upang maengganyo ang mas marami pang Pilipino na magpabakuna.

Aniya, may kapangyarihan naman ang mga alkalde na maglabas ng kautusan o ordinansa para makumbinse ang kanilang mga constituent na magpaturok na ng COVID-19 vaccine.

“Hindi natin ima-mandatory but at least, we’ll make it harder for them to live while there’s a pandemic. It’s because of mutations, kung hindi ma-achieve ang herd immunity,” ani Año. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

2.5 million vaccinated in day 1 of PH vaccination drive – DOH exec

Robie de Guzman   •   November 30, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2.5 million individuals were inoculated against COVID-19 on the first day of the government’s three-day nationwide vaccination drive, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Tuesday.

In a public briefing, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said a total of 2,554,023 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Monday.

This is 2.5 times the daily average last week, she added.

Of the total doses, the biggest chunk was administered in Calabarzon, followed by Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and Bicol regions.

Cabotaje, who also chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center, noted that the only “major challenge” they encountered in the first day of the vaccination drive were reports that some walk-ins at vaccination sites were not given the shots.

“Meron pong direktiba ang ating Presidente to vaccinate everyone… We allow walks-ins. Dapat po, walang uuwi na nakapila na hindi nabakunahan,” she said.

The government on Monday kicked off its three-day vaccination campaign, dubbed as “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” program, which aims to inoculate around 9 million people.

The campaign will end on Wednesday, December 1.

The National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 earlier said the vaccination drive will only be the first leg of the program, which is focused on scaling up the inoculation rate of local government units for the first vaccine dose by covering up to 70% of their target populations.

The second leg of the vaccination event will be held from December 15 to 17, which will focus on ramping up the number of fully vaccinated individuals to achieve the government’s target of fully vaccinating at least 54 million Filipinos by year-end.

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