Philippines among top 50 world’s safest countries —Gallup poll

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2020   •   764

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has been listed as among the top 50 safest countries in the world based on the 2020 Global Law and Order Report by analytics firm Gallup.

The report, which was based on a worldwide survey conducted in 2019, showed the Philippines got an index score of 84 and is tied with Australia, New Zealand, Poland, and Serbia.

The report based its scores on the answers of nearly 175,000 adults interviewed in 144 countries and areas.

The respondents were asked to answer four questions about their confidence in their local police force, safety on walking alone at night where they live, stolen money or property from them or other household member in the past 12 months, and being assaulted or mugged in the past 12 months.

Singapore and Turkmenistan topped the list with a law and order index score of 97. They are followed by China, Iceland, Kuwait, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Uzbekistan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Afghanistan placed at the bottom of the ranking with a score of 43.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process welcomed the results of the Gallup poll, stressing that maintaining peace and security is a shared responsibility among stakeholders.

“We are glad to be recognized as among the safest countries in the world. Thanks to our law enforcers, peace workers, and everyone who has made a commitment to peace, we are moving forward as a peaceful, progressive and resilient nation,” Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a statement.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government said the survey results is “proof that the government is winning the war against criminality and drugs,” and that the people “appreciate and recognize the significant accomplishments of the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies.”

“It is very reassuring for us working in the government knowing that the people feel safe in their homes and on the streets. Itong 84% rating na nakuha ng Pilipinas na kumakatawan sa tiwala ng mga Pilipino ay magsisilbing inspirasyon at hamon para sa pamahalaan,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a separate statement.

“The goal is to sustain this rating in the long run para sa mas ligtas na mamamayan at mas ligtas na Pilipinas,” he added.

Travel ban to lapse January 15, extension possible —Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   January 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Travelers from a total of 32 countries with reported cases of the new variants of coronavirus are still not allowed to enter the country.

However, the travel ban is only until Friday (January 15).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday that with the Philippines reporting its first patient infected with the new COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom, the travel ban will likely be extended and may include the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the list.

“Ang aking payo po doon sa mga nagpaplanong magbiyahe na covered ng travel restrictions, yung mga dayuhan, wag ninyo na pong ituloy dahil yung naunang travel restrictions na inimpose ng president ay subject po to extension upon the approval of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) at number one in the agenda po yan,” said Roque.

Roque added that the IATF will meet within the day to discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, the national government assures that the country has enough quarantine facilities for returning Filipinos coming from countries covered by the travel ban.

President Rodrigo Duterte hopes the new variant will not cause severe danger to the Filipinos.

“May bagong monster na naman. And I pray to God really na sana na hindi ito more dangerous, more toxic than the original covid,” he said.

Treatment czar Usec. Leopoldo Vega, meanwhile, said it is still best to conduct contact tracing and sampling to curb the spread of the new variant and designate a separate isolation facility for such cases.

“Kung magiging dominant po ang gagawin po namin talagang magbubukod kami ng ward for (new) COVID variant patients,” he said. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH, India seeking ways to boost ties in infra development, digital tech — DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   January 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Philippines and India are exploring ways of enhancing their economic ties, particularly in the areas of financial and digital technologies and infrastructure development, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement, the department said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and India Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran met recently to discuss both countries’ interests in strengthening their cooperation in the fields of banking and finance.

The DOF said that during his virtual courtesy call, Kumaran offered India’s expertise in setting up the country’s broadband network as well as the national identification system.

Dominguez welcomed the ambassador’s offer of assistance and invited Indian companies to participate in the upcoming rollout of a shared cyber-defense plan for Philippine state-run banks and their subsidiaries, the department added.

The finance chief likewise expressed his appreciation for India’s interest in helping the government implement its digital transformation programs that aim to expand financial inclusion among Filipinos, upgrade the delivery of frontline government services, and further curb corruption among government officials.

Kumaran said Indian companies are interested in taking part in the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program but are “in need of more information on the various opportunities available to them under the President’s centerpiece infrastructure modernization plan.”

“To assist prospective investors on this concern, Secretary Dominguez and Ambassador Kumaran agreed to help organize a webinar or online workshop where the Philippines can showcase the various opportunities open to India’s companies on infrastructure development, as well as other possible areas of cooperation between Filipino and Indian firms,” the DOF said.

It was also mentioned during the meeting that an Indian company – GMR Infrastructure Limited – is already taking part in the “Build, Build, Build” program and has performed “impressively” in operating the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and expanding the Clark International Airport (CIA).

The Philippines and India rekindled their bilateral ties with the official visits of President Duterte to India in 2017 and 2018, which were followed by a state visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to the Philippines in October 2019, the DOF said.

India and the Philippines established their diplomatic relations on November 16, 1949.

China’s Sinovac, Sinopharm to apply for emergency use authorization in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   January 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese firms Sinovac Biotech, Ltd. and Sinopharm Group Company, Ltd. are submitting their respective applications for emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of their coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines this week. 

According to Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana, negotiations between these companies and the Philippine government are ongoing for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines into the country.

“Apparently, their plan right now, according to them, is they hope to file for the next few days sometime this week. They will file their EUA application with the FDA in the Philippines,” confirmed Sto, Romana.

“Our embassy is in touch with these two companies of course and we try to facilitate their contact with IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] and if there’s any information that’s needed,” he said.

China, meanwhile, is targeting vaccination of millions of its population before February 12 after Sinopharm received provisional approval for the general use of its vaccine across the country. 

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