PH, US discuss concerns over Chinese presence in WPS, anti-Asian violence

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2021   •   861

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a phone call, discussed their concerns over the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, the US State Department said Friday.

“Substantive conversation today with my Philippine counterpart, @teddyboylocsin, discussing our concerns with People’s Republic of China militia vessels in the South China Sea and our efforts to combat anti-Asian hate and violence. #FriendsPartnersAllies,” Blinken said on Twitter.

The phone conversation between Locsin and Blinken follows reports on alleged Chinese “militia boats” scattered within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a separate statement, US State Department Ned Price said that Blinken also reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the South China Sea.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. Both expressed their shared concerns with the massing of PRC maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, including at Whitsin Reef, and reiterated their calls on the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” Price said.

Price was referring to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including parts that are within the Philippines EEZ.

Beijing has ignored the 2016 international tribunal decision.

Apart from the Philippines and China, other countries competing for territorial claims in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Aside from the renewed tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Locsin said they also tackled the string of anti-Asian hate and violence in the United States.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Romualdez earlier said that Washington has been taking steps to curb the anti-Asian attacks, including the setting up of hotlines and the deployment of more law enforces in areas with a large population of Asian Americans. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Philippines updates protocols for arriving international passengers

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has updated the entry protocols for arriving international passengers, Malacañang announced Friday.

Acting Presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved the recommendations of the sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics and the Technical Advisory Group to amend the testing and quarantine protocols for passengers arriving from countries classified as “Green,” “Yellow,” and Red” as provided for under IATF Resolution No. 154-C (s.2021).

Under the updated protocols, fully vaccinated passengers from Green list countries will be required to do the following:

  • Present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • Upon arrival, they shall no longer be required to observe mandatory facility-based quarantine but shall self-monitor for any sign or symptom for 7 days with the first day being the date of arrival

For unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or individuals whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated, they shall be required of the following:

  • Present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • They shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their negative RT-PCR test taken on the 5th day
  • After which, they are enjoined to self-monitor for any symptoms for 14 days, with the first day being the date of arrival

The following areas have been classified as Green or low-risk for COVID-19:

  • Bangladesh
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • British Virgin Islands
  • China (Mainland)
  • Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
  • The Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Montserrat
  • Morocco
  • Niger
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Paraguay
  • Saba (Special Municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
  • Saint Barthelemy
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sint Eustatius
  • Taiwan
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor)
  • Uganda

Meanwhile, the protocols for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from Yellow List areas shall be as follows:

  • Present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • Upon arrival, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test taken on the 5th day, with the date of arrival being the first day
  • Once with a negative result, they may be released for completion of home quarantine up to the 7th day from the date of arrival

Passengers who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated, they shall be required to do the following:

  • Present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • Upon arrival, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test done on the 7th day, with the date of arrival being the first day
  • Once with a negative result, they may be released for completion of home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival

The Philippine government has also allowed Filipino travelers from Red list areas to enter the country, subject to entry, quarantine, and testing protocols as determined by the IATF.

Fully vaccinated passengers from Red territories shall be required to do the following:

  • Present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • Upon arrival, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test taken on the 7th day, with the date of arrival being the first day
  • Once with a negative result, they may be released from facility quarantine, provided the completion of home quarantine up to the 14th day from the date of arrival

For individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated, they shall be required to do the following:

  • Present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin
  • Upon arrival, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test done on the 7th day, with the date of arrival being the first day
  • They may be discharged only upon the completion of a 10-day facility-based quarantine, regardless of a negative RT-PCR result, and shall observe home quarantine until the 14th day, with the date of arrival being the first day

The following areas are under the Red list or high-risk for COVID-19:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Canada
  • Curacao
  • French Guiana
  • Iceland
  • Malta
  • Mayotte
  • Mozambique
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Spain
  • US Virgin Islands

“Dahil nga po meron na po tayong cases ng Omicron at marami po tayong mga kababayan na nasa Red List countries na gusto nang umuwi at base sa dati nating protocols na kailangan po ng Bayanihan Flights para sila ay makauwi… nagkaroon po ng desisyon ang IATF na itong mga kababayan natin mula sa Red List countries ay payagan na nating umuwi, bumalik dito without the need for Bayanihan Flights,” Nograles said.

The Palace official has clarified that the new policy does not cover international tourists.

The latest country risk classification is effective from January 16 to 31, 2022.

 

PH gov’t simplifies rules for COVID-19 vaccination

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has simplified the requirements for COVID-19 vaccination to encourage more Filipinos to get inoculated amid rising cases of coronavirus infections.

In a press briefing, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said walk-ins are now allowed at vaccination sites.

 “Hindi na rin po kailangan bilang health screening ang pag-monitor sa blood pressure, unless ang babakunahan ay may history ng hypertension o may sintomas ng hypertension at iba pang konsiderasyon na nakabase sa clinical judgement ng doktor sa vaccination site,” he said.

“Hindi na rin kayo hihingan ng medical clearance at certification para mabakunahan,” he added.

Nograles said medical clearance and certification will only be required for individuals with auto-immune disease, HIV, cancer/malignancy, patients undergoing steroid treatment, and patients with poor prognosis or bedridden.

“May mga bakuna, mas maluwag na po ang requirements para dito, kaya ‘wag na po tayong magdalawang-isip, magpabakuna na po tayo,” Nograles said, addressing the public.

“Luluwag ang ating mga ospital at dadami ang mga bakanteng kama kung marami ang protektado sa malubhang sakit dala ng COVID-19. Let’s help our frontliners and let’s help ourselves by getting vaccinated,” he added.

The Philippines is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with 37, 207 infections recorded on Friday, January 14. This is the highest ever single-day tally of cases in the country since the pandemic started in 2020.

Philippines logs record-high 37,207 new COVID-19 cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Friday posted another record-high 37,207 COVID-19 infections, according to latest data released by the Department of Health (DOH).

This is the highest single-day tally recorded in the country since the coronavirus pandemic started in 2020.

Of the newly-reported cases, the DOH said 36,577 or 98 percent occurred within the recent two weeks. Most of the cases were recorded in Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon.

The latest figure pushed the country’s number of active cases to 265,509 — of which 8,325 are asymptomatic, 252,502 are mild, 2,917 are moderate, 1,469 are severe, and 300 are in critical condition.

The positivity rate was at 47.3% based on 81,737 tests administered on January 12.

The DOH also reported additional 81 fatalities, resulting in a total of 52,815 COVID-related deaths.

A total of 9,027 more patients recuperated from the viral disease, raising the total number of recoveries to 2,811,188.

Eight laboratories were not able to submit their data on time. These facilities contribute on average 1.7% of the samples tested and 2.5% of positive cases.

The utilization rate of intensive care units in use nationwide was at 46% while 55% in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Isolation beds being utilized across the country was at 47%, and 55% in NCR.

The utilization rate of ventilators in the capital region was at 26% and 19% in the capital region.

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