Senate panel to conduct hearing on timing of Cha-Cha talks amid coronavirus pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2021   •   299

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments is set to conduct a hearing this week to discuss the timing of efforts to push for Charter Change anew amid the coronavirus pandemic, panel chairperson Senator Francis Pangilinan said on Monday.

In a statement, Pangilinan said the hearing, which is scheduled on Wednesday, January 27, will consult representatives from sectors affected by the proposed amendments.

Among the resource persons who have confirmed their attendance to the hearing are 1987 Constitution Framers Florangel Rosario Braid, Atty. Christian Monsod, and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide.

Also attending the hearing are Priest Ranhilio Aquino, former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, and Department of Justice Chief State Counsel George Ortha II.

Pangilinan said the hearing will tackle procedural concerns and “prejudicial questions” that need to be considered relative to the proposed Charter change.

“Una, given Covid and ‘yung ating krisis sa ekonomiya, napapanahon ba mag-Charter Change? Pangalawa, kung napapanahon ang Charter change, ito ba ay dapat con-ass [constitutional assembly] o con-con [constitutional convention]? Tapos pangatlo, kung con-con, e ‘di maliwanag yung eleksyon, kailan?” he said.

“Kung con-ass naman, mayroon pang isang isyu na hanggang ngayon hindi pa nareresolba: Ito ba ay dapat voting jointly ang Senate at House. Ibig sabihin ay 300 plus senators and congressmen sabay boboto ng three-fourths vote? O three-fourths vote separately, ibig sabihin three-fourths vote ang Senate, at three-fourths vote ng House,” he added.

The hearing will discuss Senator Sherwin Gatchalian’s Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald Dela Rosa’s RBH No. 2, as well as Senator Richard Gordon’s Senate Joint Resolution No. 1.

More frontliners in Manila register for city’s COVID-19 vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—More frontliners in the city of Manila have pre-registered for the city’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said that the number of registrants increased from the initial 200 to 1,900 on Monday when the government launched its vaccination drive.

This is almost half of the total number of medical frontliners in six government hospitals in the city.

Maraming na-inspire na mga doctor at nurses. So, umakyat ng 1,900 ang aming nagparehistro. So, kaya ang payo ko, don’t miss the opportunity. Ang pinakamabisang bakuna ay ang bakunang nasa braso mo (A lot of doctors and nurses were inspired so 1,900 registered. My advice is to not miss the opportunity. The most effective vaccine is the vaccine injected in your arm), he said.

Domagoso assured vaccine registrants they can still choose the brand of vaccine they want to receive.

An initial 3,000 Sinovac vaccine vials have been delivered to Manila City which will be administered to 1,500 individuals. The city government aims to vaccinate one of the two doses within the week.

Meanwhile, Domagoso said he is waiting for a proper clearance before getting vaccinated as policy states that medical frontliners are the priority for the COVID-19 vaccines. AAC

PH detects 6 cases of South Africa COVID-19 variant, 30 new cases of UK variant

UNTV News   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has recorded six new cases of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) of COVID-19; 30 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) and 2 cases additional cases with mutations of interest.

An official statement issued by the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said, the new cases were among 8th batch of 350 samples sequenced by the UP-Philippine Genome Center.

Of the six South African variant cases, three are local cases, two are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and one case is still being verified as to location.

The three local cases were reported as residents of Pasay City. Meanwhile, the two returning overseas Filipinos arrived in the country from UAE and Qatar; their statuses are currently being verified. Moreover, the DOH is currently verifying if the sixth case is a local case or an imported case.

“To date, there are already 48 countries with reported cases of the B.1.351 variant. While there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease, the pattern of mutations within this variant suggests higher transmissibility and may have an impact on vaccine efficacy,” DOH said.

Meanwhile, of the 30 new cases of the UK variant 20 of these are ROFs; three are local cases, and seven are currently being verified if these are local cases or ROFs.

The 20 detected ROFs entered the country from the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States of America between January 20 and February 16, 2021. Thirteen (13) of these are asymptomatic active cases, while seven have now recovered.

On the other hand, the three (3) local B.1.1.7 variant cases are from the Cordillera Administrative Region.

One case is currently active and is admitted to a hospital, one has recovered, and one is a reported fatality. The relation of the 3 local cases to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases in the region is currently being investigated.

On the cases with mutations of interest, the latest sequencing results showed that two (2) additional samples from Region 7 were found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.

The DOH reiterated that despite the arrival of the vaccines in the country, adherence to minimum public health standards is still the best course of action to prevent community transmission and further virus mutations.

San Juan Mayor Zamora contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora confirmed on Monday that he has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post, Zamora said he is currently under quarantine at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

“I would like to announce that I have tested positive with COVID-19. My results came out today after a routine swab test yesterday evening, February 28, 2021. A confirmatory test was done today and the results turned out to be positive,” he said.

“I have decided to quarantine myself in Cardinal Santos Medical Center to ensure that I do not transmit the virus to anyone else in the community and to protect everyone around me including my children and my wife who is a cancer survivor,” he added.

I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am asymptomatic and in good physical condition. I have decided to quarantine…

Posted by Mayor Francis Zamora on Monday, March 1, 2021

He advised those who came in contact with him in the past few days to have themselves tested for the virus and coordinate with the City Health Office for the conduct of free RT-PCR test.

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