Some Filipino crew of virus-hit cruise ship in Japan may have to stay behind – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2020   •   635

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday confirmed that the repatriation of Filipinos aboard the novel coronavirus-hit M/V Diamond Princess in Japan will push through on Tuesday, February 25, although some who work in the cruise ship may have to stay behind.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, DFA Assistant Secretary Ed Meñez said they have yet to get the final number of Filipinos aboard the cruise ship who would be repatriated on Tuesday.

The vessel’s management also gave an indication that they may need some Filipino crew members to stay behind for the ship’s continued operation and maintenance.

“Ang Diamond Cruises mismo ang nagsabi na titignan namin kung sino lang ang kailangan na crew members na essential para patuloy ang pagtakbo nung ship maintenance siguro pero lahat ng di essential kailangan ay nang umuwi,” he said.

Repatriated Filipinos from the cruise ship will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period at a facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

A total of 538 Filipinos – 531 crew members and seven passengers – were on the ship when it was placed under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan earlier this month after one of its passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Of this number, 400 have expressed the desire to avail of the Philippine government’s repatriation program while some manifested their intent to remain on the ship, according to Meñez.

Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have also received information that some Filipino crew members are still allowed to perform their job even while the ship was on quarantine.

“They have said that some of these crew members were allowed to do their functions like serving food going and bringing these different provisions for the passengers,” she said.

As of Monday, February 24, the number of Filipino found infected with the disease has climbed to 59.

Two have been discharged from the hospital after recovering from the illness. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino formally declared heir to the throne

Marje Pelayo   •   November 9, 2020

TOKYO, Japan — Japan formally declared Crown Prince Akishino heir to the throne on Sunday (November 8).

Prince Akishino is Emperor Naruhito’s younger brother who has taken over the throne after his father Emperor Emeritus Akihito’s abdication in April citing health reasons, the first in two centuries.

Prime Minister Yuga Yoshihide and representatives were present at the ceremony.

Under the Japanese law, female heirs are not allowed to inherit the Chrysanthemum throne so Naruhito’s daughter 18-year-old Princess Aiko is ineligible. 

This brings Akishino, 54, next in line to the throne followed by his 14 year-old son Hisahito and Akihito’s younger brother, 84-year-old Prince Hitachi.

The ceremony was originally scheduled in April but postponed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Japanese Embassy issues advisory on visa application for eligible Filipino travelers

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Japanese Embassy in Manila has issued an advisory on the changes in the scope of acceptance of visa applications for eligible Filipino travelers to Japan.

This is according to the advisory issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The advisory emphasized the inclusion of eligible Filipino travelers under the “Phased Measures toward Resuming Cross-Border Travel”, a special quota on the entry into and departure from Japan, which covers technical intern trainees and specified skilled workers. 

“Applicants may directly visit the embassy for own visa application while students and technical intern trainees whose sending/accepting organization is same can apply through a representative with authorization letters from every applicant,” the POEA noted.

For short-term stay for business, required documents for visa application include:

  • Visa application form with attached photo
  • Passport
  • Certificate of Employment
  • Invitation letter
  • Letter of guarantee, and;
  • A written pledge. 

POEA advised applicants that the Embassy may request for additional requirements, if necessary, and it may deny visa acceptance for incomplete requirements. 

The Embassy reminded that accepting time for visa application starts at 8:40am to 11:00am, every Mondays to Fridays except on Embassy holidays, the POEA stressed.

“The embassy does not accept applications after the said accepting time,” it added.

Prior to visiting the Embassy, applicants are also advised to first contact its hotlines through the numbers 02-8834-7514 and 02-8834-7508 as the embassy is strictly implementing appointment schedule and social distancing measures as preventive measures against COVID-19.

Avigan clinical trials in PH may start next week – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The clinical trials on anti-flu drug Avigan in the country may finally begin next week, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the process for the clinical trial is currently being finalized, adding that the proponent of the research has been given go signal to recruit study participants.

Vergeire said a minor issue on the insurance documents just needed to be fixed before they could begin the trial.

“Merong minor comment ang legal service namin for this insurance document. Iyon na lang but we already gave the go signal to the proponents,” she said.

“Kapag nakapag-recruit na tayo, hopefuly by next week talagang officially starting na tayo,” she added.

The clinical trial, which aims to look into the possible benefits of the Japan-made drug to coronavirus disease patients, will last for nine months. Four hospitals will participate in the trial.

It was supposed to start in August but was delayed due to some issues in legal arrangements.

Avigan tablets were delivered in early August by the Japanese government for the use of 100 patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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