Philippine Army sends medical team to virus-stricken Cebu City

Marje Pelayo   •   June 29, 2020   •   262

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.

Gov’t still has enough budget for COVID-19 response — DBM

Marje Pelayo   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The national government has shed a total amount of P374.89 billion on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according President Rodrigo Duterte during the recent pre-SONA forum.

The largest chunk, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), was spent on programs designed to strengthen the country’s health sector and relief assistance to those who were affected by the lockdowns.

Still, the DBM maintained that the government has enough budget to sustain its COVID-19 response. 

“Mayroon pong sapat na pondo ang ating pamahalaan upang tugunan at labanan ang patuloy na pananalasa ng COVID-19 pandemic po sa ating bansa (Our government has enough budget to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country),” assured DBM Secretary Wendell Avisado.

Meanwhile, the government has raised around P5.28 billion US dollars budgetary financing support from development partners apart from the P126.36 million U.S dollars from ongoing financing for COVID-19 response projects.  

The Duterte Cabinet stressed the need to open the economy in Metro Manila and the CALABARZON region in order for the country’s overall economy to gradually recover considering that 67 percent of the country’s economy depends on these two regions. 

However, they emphasized the public’s important role in economic recovery, thus strict compliance with the government’s minimum health standards to curb the spread of COVID-19 is critical. 

“It is vital that the economies of these regions reopen. The reality is, this virus won’t go away until a vaccine is found. In the meantime, we have to go back to work, while staying safe,” noted Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. 

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, meanwhile, urged the public to be vigilant and responsible to avoid being infected with the deadly virus. 

“Each and every Filipino needs to be very vigilant. We should all continue observing social distancing, and other public health measures such as wearing masks, and frequent washing of hands to protect each other’s health and well-being,” he said. 

“We must act responsibly,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Cebu City hospitals in critical level amid surge of COVID-19 cases – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Some hospitals in Cebu City are already in critical level amid the surge of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a televised press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Cebu City’s overall health capacity has reached a critical point as many hospitals in the city are already swamped with patients.

“They’ve reached about 80 percent and even more—80 percent last week, pero napababa nila iyon nung nag meeting kami nung Sunday. Parang bumaba ng konti, although nasa critical level pa rin,” Vergeire said.

“So, ngayon pag nakakita tayo ng ganito, binabantayan kaya nga ang decision sa kanila they continue on with enhanced community quarantine,” she added.

The DOH official also noted there are only a few tertiary level hospitals in Cebu City and many are level one facilities that do not have intensive care units.

“’Yung iba pang malalaking ospital sa Cebu ay nandun na sa critical. Marami nang naka-admit, pati mechanical ventilators nila marami na ring gumagamit,” she said.

She cited Chong Hua Hospital, as an example, which is already occupied by 98 percent.

She said that aside from taking care of over 200 COVID-19 patients, at least 238 of its health workers are also currently under quarantine.

Due to this, Vergeire said the DOH is facilitating the augmentation and deployment of additional health workers, including infectious disease consultants, nurses, and military doctors, to Cebu Province to help attend to the burgeoning number of virus-infected patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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Lacson tells Army chief Gapay to ‘temper emotions’ over slay of 4 soldiers

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has urged Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay to temper his emotions over the killing of four soldiers by police officers in Jolo, Sulu.

“While I can easily relate to Philippine Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay and understand how he feels about the Army officers slain in Sulu, emotions running high at this point is the last thing they need,” Lacson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Gapay earlier denounced the slay of his men, describing the incident as “rubout” and “murder.” He also called for the sacking of Sulu’s police chief following the incident.

Lacson, a former chief of Philippine National Police (PNP), said that “decisiveness, not divisiveness” is needed as he warned that terrorists and armed insurgents may “exploit” the situation.

“For all they know, their common enemies such as the terrorists and armed insurgents are already celebrating the Sulu incident — and even making plans to exploit it,” he said.

The senator said the “enemies of the state” are “very capable of fanning the flames of animosity” between the police and military by “creating intrigues to further divide the country’s two major security forces.”

Lacson also said that enemies of the State, through their legal fronts, have been “sowing disinformation” about the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the National ID System.

“Ultimately, decisiveness, not divisiveness, is needed in dealing with the enemies of the State and the Filipino people,” he said.

On June 29, four soldiers were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.

Police said the military officers attempted to escape and opened fire at them while on their way to a nearby police station for identity verification. However, the Philippine Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to flee and never fired a single shot towards police officers.

The nine police officers involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have been relieved from their posts.

The National Bureau of Investigation is already conducting a probe into the incident.

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