Philippine Army sends medical team to virus-stricken Cebu City

Marje Pelayo   •   June 29, 2020   •   464

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army on Sunday (June 28) deployed a medical team to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hot spot Cebu City.

The team, composed of two doctors, two nurses, and two medical aides, will help local healthcare workers in addressing the COVID-19 cases in the city.

Prior to their flight on Sunday morning, the team underwent precautionary swab testing and were given flu vaccination to ensure that they are fit to do the job.

The team is among the  32 military medical teams organized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in line with the national government’s COVID-19 response. 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who oversees the COVID-19 efforts in Cebu City, and Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force- COVID-19 Chief Implementer; joined AFP Vice Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr. during the send-off ceremony at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Duterte takes responsibility for government’s COVID-19 expenditures

Marje Pelayo   •   August 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has taken responsibility with regard to spending public funds in relation to the administration’s response and programs against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“I will hold myself responsible for this solemn duty of answering for and on behalf of the executive department of all the funds that were spent in the fight against COVID,” the President said during his meeting with his Cabinet on Monday night and aired on national TV on Tuesday (August 25).

The President wants a more drastic measure to monitor how agencies spend government money such as publishing all procurements in relation to COVID-19 response, the persons involved including the address of the bidders.

The Chief Executive wants concerned agencies to publish their reports within 15 to 30 days once the bidding is closed.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez suggested digitalization of the government subsidy program to free it from corruption similar to e-governance that the President is pushing.

To address all these, the President called on Congress to create an oversight committee that would focus on all government transactions in relation to the COVID-19 response to curb corrupt activities.

He said he is willing to lay all government expenditures and subject them to weekly audits. 

“I am urging Congress, as a matter of fact, I am demanding Congress to join us in putting up measures to ensure that the money is spent to its purpose. I am willing to give way at saka kung gusto ninyo ng accounting for every transaction, puwede rin [and if you want an accounting for every transaction, that’s possible], the President said. MNP (with reports with Rosalie Coz)

Over P500,000 worth of smuggled rice seized in Cebu port

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

More than half a million pesos worth of smuggled rice was intercepted at the Port of Cebu, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Wednesday.

The BOC said the shipment containing 495 bags of Myanmar White Rice was seized on August 10.

“This latest apprehension is the result of the intelligence and investigative work of the Port’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) headed by District Commander SPAS Jerry M. Arizabal,” the bureau said in a statement.

The bags of rice were intercepted after the ESS received information that a shipment that arrived at the Port of Cebu from Kaohsiung, Taiwan on July 23 was loaded with imported rice.

The bureau’s investigation showed that the inward foreign manifest declared the shipment to contain personal effects. It was consigned to a certain Theresa Lawas of Barangay Pansoy, Municipality of Sogod, Cebu.

However, verification with Barangay Pansoy revealed that it had no resident named Theresa Lawas.

With this information, Acting District Collector Atty. Charlito Martin Mendoza issued a Pre-Lodgement Control Order against the shipment on 29 July 2020.

“A 100% physical examination was subsequently conducted by Customs Examiner Odilon Bustamante in the presence of representatives from the ESS, X-ray Inspection Project (XIP), Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI)-Cebu Chapter,” the BOC said.

The physical examination yielded 495 bags of Myanmar White Rice, and no personal effects as stated in the manifest, it added.

The bags of rice were also not covered by any Sanitary and Phytosanitary Clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry.

Consequently, a Warrant of Seizure and Detention against the shipment for violation of Section 1113(f) and (l) par. 5of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

The BOC reminded importers to properly declare their goods, and identify themselves in shipping documents. It also called on the public to report to the Bureau any information about illegal shipments that are attempted to be brought into the country.

Cebu City shifts to modified ECQ; Metro Manila remains under GCQ

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Cebu City eases to modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ starting Thursday (July 16) while the entire Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine (GCQ). 

This was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday night (July 15) after President Rodrigo Duterte’s meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Cebu City was placed under the strictest quarantine restrictions following the spike in cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the area. 

The Task Force in June focused its response on Cebu City after COVID-19 situations worsened partly due to conflicts among local government officials prompting the President to send Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to handle the problems and enforce strict measures in the area.

Under MECQ, essential workers and authorized persons outside of residence are allowed to go out.

Selected industries will also be allowed to operate under 50% operational capacity. 

Public transport will also be allowed on a limited basis only for essential goods and services.

Meanwhile, the general community quarantine (GCQ) over Metro Manila will be extended until July 31 as approved by President Duterte despite previously considering recommendations from experts of the University of the Philippines to revert the capital to MECQ to further contain the outbreak.

Experts forecast that the virus infection might surge to 80,000 by the end of the month, thus the national government is warning all Metro Manila residents to follow health protocols and practice health precautions, otherwise it will be compelled to impose again the strictest quarantine measures. 

“Pumayag po ang ating Presidente na huwag munang ibalik ang Metro Manila sa MECQ sa susunod na dalawang linggo (The President agreed not to revert Metro Manila to MECQ in the next two weeks),” Roque said. 

“Pero malinaw po sa diskusyon, kapag hindi pa rin po napabagal ang COVID sa Metro Manila, posibleng pong bumalik sa MECQ pagkatapos po nitong dalawang linggo, (But it was clear in the discussion that if COVID cases in Metro Manila do not subside, there is a possibility of reverting to MECQ after two weeks),” he added. 

To further control the problem, Roque said the Metro Manila mayors vowed to intensify their respective localized lockdowns as well as testing, tracing and treatment in addition to the strict implementation of the GCQ. 

Aside from Metro Manila, other areas placed under GCQ starting July 16 are: Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Ormoc City, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Basilan, and Talisay, Minglanilla, and Concepcion in Cebu Province.

Meanwhile, the following areas will be under MGCQ (medium-risk) starting July 16:

  • CAR- Benguet, Baguio City
  • Region 1 – Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, La Union, Dagupan City
  • Region 2 – Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya
  • Region 3 – Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Angeles City
  • Region 4A – Batangas, Quezon, Lucena City
  • Region 4B – Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Puerto Princesa City
  • Region 5 – Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Naga City
  • Region 6 – Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Guimaras, Iloilo City, Bacolod City
  • Region 7 – Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu Province
  • Region 8 – Western Samar, Leyte, Biliran, Tacloban City
  • Region 9 – Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga Del Norte
  • Region 10 – Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao Del Norte, Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City
  • Region 11 – Davao Oriental, Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, Davao De Oro, Davao City
  • Region 12 – Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, South Cotabato, General Santos City
  • Region 13 – Agusan Del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur
  • BARMM – Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao

The rest of the country is placed under a category called low-risk MGCQ. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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