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

Robie de Guzman   •   May 31, 2021   •   1016

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.

Philippines hits 702K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in one day — Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has recorded its highest single-day output since the vaccination drive against COVID-19 started in March, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In a statement, Galvez said the country has administered a total of 702,013 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on August 3.

This means that the country has surpassed its goal of administering 500,000 doses daily.

Out of the 702,013 doses, 233,065 shots were administered as the first dose, while 468,948 doses were administered as the second dose, based on data from the National Vaccine Operations Center (NVOC).

Galvez assured that the government will continue to implement the “focus and expand” strategy in its deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, as the country’s vaccine supply remains insufficient for all local government units nationwide.

While vaccine supplies from different manufacturers and sources continue to arrive in bulk, the country’s vaccine inventory is still not enough to inoculate the target population of 70.8 million Filipinos, he added.

“In order to meet the monthly demand and increase the capacities of all regions, provinces, and districts, the Philippines needs at least 25 million doses monthly,” said Galvez.

In July, the country received 16.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the biggest shipment made in a single month since the start of the vaccine rollout in March.

Galvez stressed that the prioritization of areas, as well as the implementation of a phased vaccination program, is necessary to ensure the immediate protection of the nation’s highly vulnerable sectors, particularly the A1 (healthcare workers), A2 (senior citizens), and A3 (persons with comorbidities) groups.

Under the phased vaccination program, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 will determine the vaccine allocation per region or province based on the following:

  • The master lists of eligible population submitted by a local government unit
  • The health, economic, social, and security risk of a locality
  • The population density of an area
  • The capacity of an LGU to receive and administer the vaccines
  • The availability of vaccine supplies in the national inventory

“We conducted a risk assessment for our vaccine allocation. Our focus on deployment are areas in the NCR+10 and those with confirmed cases of the Delta variant,” he said.

Galvez likewise acknowledged that the government faces challenges in the vaccination of the A2 group, particularly those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.

“This is the reason why we allocated the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines to these areas to increase the vaccination output and thankfully we are seeing progress,” he said.

Galvez said that the NTF and the NVOC will also give provinces the flexibility to determine the allocation for their respective cities and municipalities through their Regional Vaccination Operations Center.

“The allocation lists are being deliberated by NVOC and these are submitted to me and Secretary Vince [Dizon] for evaluation to ensure that the distribution will be based on the master list of priority sectors A1 to A3 since kulang na kulang pa ang supply,” he said.

“Our focus now is to ensure that we will have more vaccines this month and in the months ahead,” he added.

Duterte thanks outgoing British envoy Pruce for help in accessing more COVID-19 vax shots

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte thanked outgoing British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce for his role in improving the Philippines’ access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Duterte expressed his gratitude when Pruce made his farewell call in Malacañang on Wednesday (August 4).

In a statement issued by the Palace, Duterte thanked the United Kingdom for donating 415,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Philippines’ vaccination drive.

“President Duterte cited Ambassador Pruce’s personal role in improving vaccine access for the Philippines eventually leading to the conclusion of the innovative Tripartite Agreement between the government of the Philippines (GPH), local government units (LGU), and private sector for the procurement of AstraZeneca vaccines,” the statement read.

Duterte also congratulated Pruce for a successful tour of duty, crediting him for the “revitalization of the United Kingdom’s economic and political presence in the Philippines through high-level exchanges and dialogues.”

Meanwhile, the president called for the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Recruitment of Filipino healthcare professionals to ensure fair, ethical, and sustainable recruitment and employment of Filipino healthcare workers in the United Kingdom.

“President Duterte also reiterated the Philippines’ support for the UK’s Presidency of COP26 in 2021, recognizing the UK’s bold commitments as it steers the global climate agenda towards urgent climate action,” the Palace said.

Pruce, for his part, thanked Duterte for the Philippines’ support of the UK’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN, and in its efforts to further strengthen bilateral ties across a broad range of areas, including political and defense cooperation, trade and investments, people-to-people exchanges, and fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

He also stressed the importance placed by the UK on its relations with the Philippines and further underscored that the Philippines-UK diplomatic cooperation will continue to grow.

32% ng senior citizens sa bansa, fully vaccinated vs COVID-19 — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Nasa 32 porsiyento na ng mga senior citizen sa bansa ang nabakunahan laban sa COVID-19, ayon sa Department of Health (DOH).

Mula Agosto 1, mahigit na sa 2.6 milyong senior citizen ang fully vaccinated habang nasa 2.8 milyon ang nakatanggap ng first dose.

Sa Metro Manila, halos 63 percent na ng mga senior citizen na nakalista sa master list ang mga fully vaccinated habang 68 percent naman ay nabakunahan ng first dose.

Ngunit ayon kay Dr. Beverly Ho, ang direktor ng DOH Health Promotion Bureau, malaking bilang pa rin ng mga nasa A2 priority group ang kailangang mabakunahan sa gitna na rin ng banta ng Delta COVID-19 variant sa Pilipinas.

Kaya panawagan ni Ho sa publiko, lalo na sa bawat pamilyang may miyembro na senior citizen, na kumbinsihin ang mga matatanda na magpaturok na laban sa coronavirus disease upang mabigyan sila ng proteksyon mula sa nakakahawang sakit.

“Mahalaga rin po na alam natin na ngayon lumalabas po sa ating mga datos na ang mga senior citizens nakikinig po talaga sila sa mga taong malapit sa kanila , it could be family, friends na nabanukahan na mga fellow senior citizens at mga physicians o healthcare providers na malapit rin sa kanila,” ang wika ni Ho.

Tiniyak naman ng opisyal na may ginagawa nang paraan ang mga lokal na pamahalaan upang mahikayat ang mas marami pang senior citizen na magpabakuna.

Halimbawa nito ay ang pagsasagawa ng house-to-house na pagbabakuna lalo na sa mga lolo at lola na may mga karamdaman.

Katuwang ng DOH sa pagpapaigting ng vaccination program ang National Commission for Senior Citizens.

Ayon kay Atty. Franklin Quijano, ang pinuno ng komisyon, marami sa kanilang hanay ang gusto nang magpaturok pero ang problema, maraming lugar sa bansa ang limitado ang supply ng bakuna.

“We understand kasi na ang inuuna ngayon Metro Manila at ang mga lugar na may medyo mataas ang rates ng COVID, so in which case maraming nagrereklamo po sa mga areas na medyo hindi pa nabibigyan ng bakuna dahil nga po hindi pa dumarating ang mga bakuna,” ani Quijano.

“We would like to assure you marami po talagang senior citizens ang gustong magpabakuna ang problema nga lang hindi pa dumarating ang suplay dahil meron tayong priority areas,” dagdag pa niya.

Samantala, sang-ayon ang DOH sa pahayag ng World Health Organization (WHO) na bilisan pa ang pagpapabakuna sa mga senior citizen lalo’t mayorya ng mga Pilipinong namamatay sa COVID-19 ay pawang mga may edad na.

“Alam po natin na talaga po all those people more than 60 years old, they actually account for more than 60 percent ng mga namamatay sa COVID-19 dito sa ating bansa,” ang pahayag ni Ho.

“Yung percentage po na namamatay na senior citizens tumataas habang tumaas po yung kanilang edad,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang inirekomenda ng WHO na gawing prayoridad sa pagbabakuna ang mga senior citizen at may comorbidites upang mapigilan ang pagka-puno ng mga ospital ng mga pasyenteng may malalang kaso ng COVID-19. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Marvin Calas)

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