US downgrades travel advisory for Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   June 10, 2021   •   179

MANILA, Philippines — The United States has downgraded its travel advisory status for the Philippines from ‘Do Not Travel’ to ‘Reconsider Travel’.

The US State Department relaxed travel advisory to most countries as well after more than a month of barring its citizens from traveling to concerned countries due to surge in COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday (June 9), the State Department removed 61 countries from the ‘Do Not Travel’ or Level 4 Alert status and placed them under the ‘Reconsider Travel’ or Level 3 Alert Status following recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

US Pres. Biden wants to meet with PH’s Duterte to affirm bilateral ties — envoy

Robie de Guzman   •   May 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — United States President Joe Biden is eyeing to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte to affirm the two countries’ bilateral ties, Manila’s Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said on Monday.

In a Palace press briefing, Romualdez said Biden had sent a letter to Duterte to express his hope to meet him in the near future.

The US and the Philippines will celebrate 75 years of diplomatic ties in July.

“Sumulat na nga si President Biden kay President Duterte and not only the occasion of the 75th anniversary but to inform him about the relationship between the Philippines and the United States will continue,” he said.

“He hopes that he will be able to meet in person with the president at some point in time,” he added.

There is no schedule yet for the meeting between Biden and Duterte.

Romualdez also said that Biden likewise expressed hope that Duterte will extend the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Manila and Washington as part of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

The VFA came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

Duterte last year order the abrogation of the VFA, which is anchored in the PH-US 1951 defense treaty.

The termination of the deal, however, was suspended citing the coronavirus pandemic and the relevant developments in the region.

No conditions set in US donation of COVID-19 vaccine surplus — envoy

Robie de Guzman   •   May 31, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is among the countries that will receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine donations from the United States (US) government, the country’s envoy to the US said Monday.

In a press briefing, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the US is set to distribute an initial 80 million vaccine doses to its ally nations and those deemed to be in need of the shots.

“Tayo, nandoon sa first batch that will be sent out,” Romualdez said.

“But we still don’t know how man will be given to use,” he added.

Manila’s envoy to Washington stressed that the US government did not set any condition in exchange for the vaccine donations.

“This is without any strings attached to it so to speak, it’s just part of a program that they have that will start helping other nations to fight this virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque urged the public to wait whether or not the US donation would affect its military troop deal with the Philippines.

“Di pa po natin alam kung mayroon talagang darating, kung magkano at ilan ang darating so, antayin po muna nating dumating,” Roque said when asked on how the vaccine donation could affect President Rodrigo Duterte’s position on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the US.

Biden calls for ceasefire amid Israel-Gaza tension

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 18, 2021

United States President Joe Biden has expressed his support for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s militants.

In a statement, the White House said the US President has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Biden said the US is coordinating with Egypt and other country leaders to end the intercommunal violence.

He encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians. The US President also expressed his support “for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”

“The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.” according to the White House.

For two weeks the Israel-Gaza tension has led to the death of over 200 people. As of May 18, approximately 3,440 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory, according to the Israel Air Force (IAF). IAF fighter jets and aircraft also struck military assets in Rimal, western Gaza City.

The IAF, meanwhile, takes all possible precautions to avoid harming civilians during its operational activity. AAC




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