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Duterte takes full responsibility for vaccine acquisition amid Sinovac concerns

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night defended his government's decision to buy 25 million doses of a Chinese-made vaccine with an uncertain efficacy rate, telling the public that he would take full responsibility for any blunders in the national vaccination program......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarJan 14th, 2021

Go urges BFP to push modernization efforts

Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go on Friday urged the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to continue its efforts to modernize and enhance its ranks by acquiring more fire trucks and equipment especially for the  remote areas in the country. Sen. Bong Go (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) Go issued the statement after attending yesterday the ceremonial turnover at the Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City of the recently procured equipment of the BFP, including 84 units of 1,000 gallons capacity fire trucks, five units of aerial ladder, and three units of rescue trucks to be distributed by BFP to various local government units around the country.  “All over the country po ito ipapamahagi. Natutuwa po ako dahil ang gusto naman po natin ay mabigyan ng sapat na kagamitan laban sa sunog ang mga iba’t ibang lugar — hopefully sa lahat ng sulok po ng bansa ay handa po tayo,” Go said. (These will be distributed all over the country. I am happy because we want to give the appropriate fire-fighting equipment to different parts of the country.)    Go said there are many municipalities that have no financial capabilities to buy such an equipment. “Hopefully, patuloy pa ang pag-acquire nila ng mga panibagong equipment. Kinausap ko rin po si Dir. Embang na ikonsidera rin nila ‘yung mga maliliit na fire trucks na puwedeng pumasok sa mga liblib o masisikip na lugar kasi doon po madalas nagkakasunog,” Go said, referring to BFP Chief Jose Embang, Jr. (Hopefully, their acquisition of fire-fighting equipment will continue. I told Director Embang that BFP should consider buying small fire trucks that can enter narrow roads and congested areas where fires usually originate from.) Last February 11, 2020, Go joined President Duterte in witnessing the turnover of 74 fire trucks. The Senator also continues to provide aid to fire victims in different parts of the country.  “Mahirap po mawalan ng bahay at kagamitan dahil sa sunog at iba pang sakuna. Kaya po patuloy akong nagbibigay ng tulong sa mga biktima at nag-iiwan ng ngiti sa oras ng kanilang pagdadalamhati,” Go said. (It is hard to lose a house and personal belongings due to fires. That is why I continue to extend help to fire victims and give them a reason to smile during a time of grief.) “Bilang isang Senador at public servant, patuloy po akong magseserbisyo, lalo na sa mga mahihirap at nangangailangan na apektado ng krisis tulad ng sunog. Kasabay nito ay pagsisikapan ko bilang mambabatas na mas palakasin pa ang ating fire prevention and protection measures,” he added. (As a senator and a public servant, I continue to be of service, particularly to victims of crises like fires. As a lawmaker, I continue to help to strengthen our fire prevention and protection measures.)     As vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace and Order and as a main advocate of fire protection modernization initiatives, one of Go’s priority bills is Senate Bill 204 which is now consolidated under Committee Report No. 111, otherwise known as BFP Modernization Act of 2020.  The measure is currently undergoing the period of interpellation in the Senate. The bill aims to ensure the hiring of more personnel, acquisition of modern fire equipment, and the conduct of training for firefighters of the BFP.  The bill will also empower local communities in preventing fire incidents by mandating the BFP to conduct monthly fire prevention campaigns and information drives in all local government units (LGUs), especially in vulnerable areas.  Go said President Duterte fully supports the modernization efforts of the BFP. “Ang sabi ng Pangulo, sabihin mo sa kanila huwag na nila ako unahin, ‘yung kagamitan ng mga sundalo at kapulisan at bumbero ang unahin natin,” he said. (The President said the equipment of soldiers, policemen, and firemen should come first.) During the event, Go expressed his and Duterte’s full support for the country’s fire personnel, citing the government’s recent effort to increase the salaries and promote the welfare of the military and uniformed personnel.  “Full support po kami sa inyo. Unang-una po, ‘yung pangako niya pagkaupo pa lang niya bilang Pangulo, tinupad niya agad ang pangako niya,” Go said, referring to the increase in salaries provided to uniformed personnel, including firefighters. (We give our full support to you. The President fulfills his promises when he took over the presidency in 2016.) Go also said that he supports the President’s position of arming BFP personnel so they can help in the fight against criminality.  “We are currently studying this added measure of arming firefighters. Nabanggit na rin ito ng Pangulo. Makakatulong din sila sa paglaban ng kriminalidad at para rin maproteksyunan ang kanilang mga sarili. Pati sa kampanya laban sa droga, makakatulong din sila,” Go said. (This was mentioned by the President. They can help fight criminality and also protect themselves. They can also help in containing the spread of dangerous drugs.)    In addition to fire trucks and other modern equipment, Go also said that he is coordinating with BFP officials, government finance managers, and concerned agencies on how to also provide additional ambulance units to the BFP.  He said that providing ambulances will make the BFP more responsive in fulfilling its mandate and will be useful, especially in times of national emergencies given that their personnel are well-trained frontliners.  “Kapag mayroon nang vaccine kontra COVID-19, pwede pong tumulong ang BFP para mabakunahan ang mga tao. Nagtutulungan po lahat ng ating uniformed personnel, mula military, pulis, bumbero, at iba pa para maprotektahan ang kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,” Go explained. (Our firemen can also help in the vaccination of our countrymen to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Our uniformed personnel, from the military, policemen, firemen and others can help in protecting the interests of Filipinos.)  Go thanked officials for their efforts to modernize the BFP and for their continuing service, especially during the pandemic, specifically Department of the Interior and Local Government officials led by Secretary Eduardo Año and BFP officials led by Embang, Jr.  Go also acknowledged local officials and district representatives who were present, including Congressman Onyx Crisologo of the 1st District of Quezon City, Congresswoman Angel Amante-Matba of the 2nd District of Agusan del Norte, Mayor Marcy Teodoro of Marikina City, and Mayor Judy Amante of Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte and thanked them for their support to the national government in the bayanihan efforts to overcome the pandemic.  “Dahil mahirap ang panahon ngayon, we have to adjust to the new normal pero konting tiis lang po. Alam kong hirap po kayo. Kami ni Pangulong Duterte, hindi kami nawawalan ng pag-asa, magtulungan lang po tayo. Sino pa ba ang magtutulungan kundi tayong kapwa Pilipino,” he said, (Because times are hard, we have to adjust to the new normal. Please bear with us. I know you are suffering. I and President Go have not lost hope. We should help one another.).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2020

Fan experience to change profoundly amid COVID-19 pandemic

By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dayton Moore remembers so clearly the vast sections of empty seats inside Kauffman Stadium when he took over as general manager of the Kansas City Royals, and he remembers just as vividly — nearly a decade later — how those seats filled and fans roared as the long-suffering club won the World Series. Those dueling memories make the thought of playing games in empty stadiums hard for Moore to fathom. “I know how much strength all players draw from the fans and environment,” he said, when asked about plans to play a shortened season without crowds, “and you need that support to get through an entire Major League Baseball schedule.” As lockdowns are lifted and restrictions eased, sports are finally starting to emerge in the coronavirus pandemic. But in virtually every situation, fans are not yet being allowed to attend and the only consensus for now is that there could be a long period of empty or nearly empty seating. Some U.S. universities are modeling for 25% capacity for the upcoming football season or maybe half-full arenas for the ensuing basketball season. “I think for most sports, a reduced crowd wouldn't negatively impact the overall experience, especially in a situation like baseball or even the NFL,” said Katy Lucy, a digital marketing agent from Atlanta whose fandom is split between all things Georgia Bulldogs and the Washington Capitals. “But it would be different for sure for those who attend in person." Count her family among those who would pause before heading to the ballpark. “For me personally, I’m not sure I would feel comfortable attending a live sporting event until there is a known treatment or widely available vaccine,” Lucy said. “I trust the institutions to put the proper measures in place; however, making sure that they are enforced is another matter.” Many college and pro sports teams already were dealing with declining ticket sales. Watching at home or streaming games are factors, as is the changing social makeup of fan bases. Dynamic pricing, increases in parking and concession prices, and a push toward luxury seating have exacerbated the problem. Major League Baseball attendance has declined six of the past seven seasons. In college football, 13 of the 130 schools that played in the Football Bowl Subdivision reported average crowd sizes of 50% or less last season. Even the NFL has seen an increase in empty seats despite its generally rock-solid popularity. So as coronavirus concerns linger, how are teams going to lure fans back when stadiums do reopen? Loyalty and engagement apps, widespread around the major leagues and colleges even before the pandemic, will become even more common and interactive as teams try to recapture lost revenue. There also will be more behind-the-scenes content and enhancements available via smartphones that will only be available to those in the stadium or arena, offering fans something unique over fans watching at home. “Fans want that experience to be top-notch, period. That's why teams are thinking about this,” said Britton Stackhouse Miller, senior vice president at Fortress U.S., a developer of engagement and integration systems with clients in European soccer, baseball, the NBA, NFL and NHL. Temperature checks, hand sanitizer distribution stations and touchless vending will become the norm for a while. Even concessions will change, though one big difference — gulp — could lead to a lot of grumbling. “If you don't sell beer the number of visits to the bathroom drops dramatically,” said Marc Ganis, the director of sports consulting firm Sportscorp. “So for a time we may have to think about not selling beer.” It won't just be the vast oceans of bench seats left open, either. Many experts believe those hardy fans will be the first to return. It's the corporate suites from which many colleges and pro franchises derive so much of their gameday revenue that may end up being empty until long after games have resumed. Economic woes may last for some time. For fans who stay home, leagues are looking for ways to keep them engaged, too. When Germany's top soccer league returned without fans, broadcaster Sky knew it had a problem with silence coming through the TV. Engineers created “carpet audio” from previous games between the same teams, then teased out roars for specific events such as goals and red cards, giving those watching at home the option of a more realistic experience. “This was the only idea that we thought could be most respectful to the fans,” said Alessandro Reitano, vice president of sports production for Sky Deutschland. “To be honest, it's a major success.” Old crowd noise is a bit like an old game, though. It lacks a certain authenticity. So along came ChampTrack, which created an app that utilizes the microphones of fans. It captures their every roar and groan and sends the audio to its server, which then aggregates the noise into a single stream. That stream is then returned to the viewer using proprietary algorithms to provide the broadcast with real-time sound, which is then immediately erased to ensure personal privacy. “Once they press play on our web app, they can hear what everyone else is cheering about and their own cheer,” said ChampTrack chief executive Elias Anderson, adding the system could soon handle as many as 150,000 fans for each game. Sound is one element of the fan experience. Optics is another. “When it was clear there would be no audience this season, the fans had the idea of bringing their images to the stadium,” said Lubbo Popken, deputy press secretary for German soccer club Borussia Monchengladbach, which affixed fan likenesses to their seats. “We were surprised how many people wanted to be part of this idea and have their images in the stadium. It really changed the atmosphere in the empty stadium.” Of course, none of that is the same as having real fans creating real noise......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

Duterte defends vaccine czar amid criticisms

Duterte defends vaccine czar amid criticisms.....»»

Category: newsSource:  cnnphilippinesRelated NewsJan 19th, 2021

China to donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to PH — Palace

Malacañang said Saturday that the Chinese government will donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines as the two countries reaffirmed ties and cooperation against the pandemic. Chinese State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (DFA OFFICIAL TWITTER ACCOUNT/ MANILA BULLETIN) The Office of the President (OP) made the statement as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi made a 40-minute courtesy call to President Duterte in Malacañang Saturday. In a statement, the OP said that Wang assured Duterte of China’s commitment to support the Philippines’ efforts to combat COVID-19, a disease that originated in Wuhan, China. “He (Wang) announced that China will donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines. He likewise affirmed China’s resolve to do everything to ensure that vaccines become a global good,” Malacañang said. According to Malacañang, Duterte lauded the continued high-level engagement between the Philippines and China even amid the pandemic and stressed the importance of both sides delivering on the promises of the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation. Duterte stressed that cooperation on public health must be strengthened, particularly access to safe and effective vaccines, to safeguard the health of the people and in order to hasten the economic recovery of both nations and their neighboring countries. “The recovery of nations… sits on the back of stronger economies,” Duterte told Wang. “China plays a very key role in reviving our region’s economy. Let us do all we can to revive economic activities between the Philippines and China,” he added. Malacañang said that Duterte thanked China for its continuing support and cooperation in the country’s fight against COVID-19 in terms of medical equipment and supplies and sharing of experiences and expertise as well as in the repatriation of Filipinos. Economic cooperation Wang declared that China will continue to support the Philippines’ recovery through enhanced economic cooperation. He likewise reiterated his country’s determination to complete pending infrastructure projects. The Palace said that Wang underscored China’s commitment under President Xi Jinping to work closely with the Philippines to sustain the positive trajectory of the valued and special bilateral relations. At the start of his presidency in 2016, Duterte has expressed his desire to build stronger relations with China — even temporarily setting aside the country’s victory over the West Philippine Sea in The Hague to make it happen......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsJan 17th, 2021

& lsquo;Sinovac buy still up in air& rsquo;

Amid mounting criticism of the decision to buy the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the procurement of 25 million of doses of the Chinese product was not yet a done deal......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 16th, 2021

Senators question government preference for Sinovac

Senators questioned yesterday the Duterte administration’s apparent bias for procuring China-made vaccines for COVID-19, which they warned has caused resistance to vaccination among Filipinos amid reports of low efficacy and high cost......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 15th, 2021

Return of in-person classes on hold due to virus mutation concerns

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte canceled limited in-person classes, which were supposed to be pilot-tested in January, amid rising concerns over the new coronavirus variant that was first reported in the United Kingdom early this month and is feared to be more infectious than the earlier form. Duterte announced his decision on Saturday during a […] The post Return of in-person classes on hold due to virus mutation concerns appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2020

DOH defends Sinovac vaccine’s efficacy rate

The Department of Health defended Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus vaccine amid mounting criticism on the government’s continued keenness to buy the shot despite it only being 50% effective according to late-stage trials in Brazil......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 26th, 2020

Duterte suspends pilot face-to-face classes in 2021 due to new COVID-19 variant

Amid mounting concerns over a new strain of coronavirus which experts fear to be more contagious than the original, President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer allow the Department of Education to pilot face-to-face classes come January next year. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 26th, 2020

Duterte pardons Sinas over mañanita; defends appointment as PNP chief

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday defended the appointment of Philippine National Police Chief General Debold Sinas, saying he is taking full responsibility for choosing the latter to lead the PNP. “Si General Sinas akin ito. This is my call. I take full responsibility. But I also guarantee his competence in police work,” Duterte said in […] The post Duterte pardons Sinas over mañanita; defends appointment as PNP chief appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsNov 14th, 2020

Malacañang defends appointment of ex-general Galvez as vaccine czar

Malacañang defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez, the former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as coronavirus vaccine czar amid criticism that someone with a medical background should have been chosen instead......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2020

Duterte appoints Galvez as vaccine czar; ‘good choice’, say lawmakers

By Genalyn D. Kabiling and Charissa Luci-Atienza In a meeting with government officials on the disaster response Monday, President Duterte announced he wanted former AFP chief and now Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr Galvez to lead the government’s vaccine acquisition and distribution effort.  Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) Duterte said Galvez would be the only authorized official to negotiate for the country’s’ vaccine supply. He expressed his dislike with the creation of committees since the process will take long.  “As I have said earlier during the start of the COVID, I only want one line of authority coming from dito sa the Task Force sa pagbili ng bakuna, the negotiation, manufacture, negotiation, production or distribution is ibinigay ko ‘yan kay Secretary Galvez,” he said. “I have great faith in Charlie to really come up with the solutions for the problem,” he added. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque defended the additional assignment given to Galvez, saying the planned immunization drive would involve “more of a logistics challenge than a medical challenge.” Galvez, who joined the Duterte Cabinet in 2018, also currently serves as chief implementer of the government’s plan to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives lauded Galvez’s designation as vaccine war, among them: Representatives Michael Defensor, Roger Mercado, Ronnie Ong, Alfred Vargas and Rosanna Vergara. “It’s more of a logistics challenge than a medical challenge,” Roque explained. He said the only medical issues involved in the vaccine purchase are related to safety and efficacy of the drugs. This matter, he said, will be handled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  He said Galvez is expected to continue his close coordination with the Department of Health and other agencies that will be involved in the vaccination drive. “Gen. Galvez would have the hindsight of what happened and the understanding of the COVID baseline. What we need is the leadership and managerial skills in taking the lead of the COVID vaccine campaign,” Defensor, chairperson of the House Committee on Public Accounts, said in a text message when asked if the vaccine czar should have been a medical doctor.  “I support the President’s appointment of Sec Galvez.  Galvez is an innovative  administrator. He can be trusted to implement the program well,”  Mercado said in a separate text message.  “We are happy that the president is preparing early and appointing someone to lead is good news,” Ong said.  Vargas also rallied behind the  the decision of President Duterte to appoint Galvez, saying that “we don’t need a doctor but a manager for this job.” Vergara also gave her vote of confidence to Galvez.  “Being the COVID-19 policy chief implementer, he has a clear overview of the COVID-19 situation in the county and such knowledge is very crucial in the distribution of the vaccine. I am sure, there are medical experts who advise the good Secretary,” she said.  “I am assuming  the vaccine chosen has already passed all testing and FDA approvals , the challenge will be to properly allocate and distribute it fairly across the country to the most vulnerable  and this is the challenge anyone who heads this Task Force will face– how do you properly allocate this should the vaccine supply be limited because of world wide demand? Thus, the need to plan for equally expedited distribution and delivery. Building a delivery system that is quick, fair and will not result to inequitable distribution,”  Vergara added......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2020

No conditions in China’s move to prioritize PH as vaccine recipient — Sta. Romana

China has not imposed any condition when it included the Philippines as among the priority nations to gain access to its potential coronavirus vaccine, according to a Filipino diplomat. Amb. Jose Santiago Sta. Romana Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said China instead reminded the country to prepare its cold storage facilities amid the highly anticipated breakthrough in vaccine development. China will hopefully announce its mass production of the coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year or early next year, Sta. Romana said during an online Palace press briefing. “Hopefully, mass production and distribution will happen in the near future, as early as November and December in terms of production. And it will depend on our capability to receive the vaccines in terms of our facilities, in terms of distribution,” he said.  “The prospects are bright in terms of a breakthrough in vaccine,” he added. Sta. Romana made clear that the cold storage facilities for the potential COVID-19 vaccines are not conditions set by China but simply a reminder to ensure effective distribution of the vaccine.  “It’s just a reminder that if you get the vaccine and you don’t have cold chain storage, then it’s useless so you have to prepare,” he said, citing information from Chinese drug companies.  He said even if the Philippines is in the “priority list,” the distribution of the vaccine will be a challenge. He said the vaccines must be stored in “freezing conditions” to keep its efficacy.  “If exposed to tropical weather or to normal weather conditions, the vaccine could lose its effectiveness,” he said.So far, Sta. Romana said the vaccines being developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firms have entered phase 3 of the clinical trials. One of the potential vaccines have been approved for emergency use for health workers and other government frontliners. “The Chinese will make an announcement in the near future and then they’ll start their mass production. And once there is the mass production, then I think there will be distribution. Hopefully, before the end of the year; but surely by the first quarter of next year,” he said.  Asked if China has imposed any condition on the Philippines in exchange for the vaccine supply, Sta. Romana said: “No, not at all. Actually, we’re the ones, our condition is that it should pass our local requirements.” When asked if Beijing has pledged the amount of vaccines and if these will be given to Manila for free, Sta. Romana said the matter would entail more discussion. “I cannot give you a definitive answer right now but definitely in terms of number, you know, how they will do it kasi it depends on the—they’re talking of hundreds of millions in terms of production dito sa China. So, the question is iyong distribution and deployment,” he said. “They’re preparing their manufacturing facilities for the mass production of vaccines the moment approval is announced,” he added. Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado has assured that the government has funds that will be needed for the establishment of the cold storage facilities for the coronavirus vaccines. “Surely, as the sun rises in the east, there will be funds for that because the President will never allow that we will run short of the requirements to make sure that we have the storage facilities for all of these vaccines,” he said in the same online press conference. Last week, President Duterte expressed confidence about the safety of the vaccines being developed by China, citing the Asian neighbor is a modern country. He said the government has funds for the vaccine purchase, adding he was just waiting for China or Russia to contact him. “I’d be glad to open up my sleeves because I am confident with their vaccine,” he added......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2020

Rights groups slam MMDA spox for ‘drama serye’ remark on detained activist

Human rights groups slammed Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Spokesperson Celine Pialago following her “drama serye” remarks at detained activist Reina Mae Nasino who recently buried her three-month-old daughter River.  Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, said those who downgrade what happened to the political prisoner are only trying to “cover the government’s gross violation of human rights.”  “The story of Reina Mae Nasino and her 3-month-old child who died last week is not ‘drama-serye.’ It is a real story that exposed the countless injustices committed by the government,” it said in a statement released on Sunday.  “MMDA Chair Danny Lim, a former political prisoner himself, should have long shown the door to his spokesperson. It should be obvious by now that sensitivity cannot be taught nor proper manners and right conduct if one is empty-headed,” it added. Meanwhile, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre Olalia was more restrained, saying they would “do the same thing if she was in Ina’s position and circumstance. “To start with, we will never ever wish this horrible tragedy and injustice to visit the Asec, her mother, her daughters, her sisters and her aunts,” he said in a Facebook post. Despite having nothing to do with traffic, Pialago felt the need to “use her voice as a Filipino” to share her two cents on Nasino’s case. “Hindi lahat ng inang nakakulong ay nakapunta sa libing ng kanyang anak. Kaya yung mga sumisimpatya kay Reina Mae Nasino, pag aralan niyo mabuti ang dahilan bakit siya nakulong at kilalanin niyong mabuti kung sino siya sa lipunan (Not all jailed mothers get to visit their children’s funeral. So all of those who sympathize with Reina Mae Nasino, study well why she was imprisoned and know who she is and what her role is in society),” she said in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. “Masyado ninyong ginagawang pang drama serye sa hapon ang paghihinagpis niya. Tigilan niyo (You are trying to make her grief like an afternoon drama serye. Stop it)!” she added. Nasino was five months pregnant with River when she was arrested in November 2019 for allegedly being found with firearms and explosives at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Manila Office in Tondo, Manila. Her lawyers have insisted that the pieces of evidence were planted and that the charges filed against her are trumped-up. She gave birth to River on July 1 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Medical Hospital on July 1. She and her baby were returned to the Manila City Jail 48 hours later. Before this, she filed a motion before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) to allow her to breastfeed her daughter for a year at the hospital or a prison nursery.  But Manila RTC Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali denied this, saying that the jail has “very limited resources” for the care of her child.  Nasino was also among 22 elderly and medically-compromised detainees who filed a motion for their compassionate release amid the pandemic on April 8 before the Supreme Court. But months later, the High Court ruled that the trial courts will be the ones to decide on their temporary release. On August 13, the activist-mother was ordered to turn her child over to her relatives.  River was admitted at the Philippine General Hospital for fever and diarrhea on September 24. She was placed in the intensive care unit on October 9 where she died a few hours later.  A few hours before her daughter died, Nasino filed a very urgent motion for furlough so she can be with her child in her dying moments. On October 13, Manila RTC Branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos granted her three full days from October 14 to 16 to be by her daughter’s side during the wake and burial.  But the next day, he cut Nasino’ furlough down to only six hours from 1 to 4 p.m. on October 14 and 16 after receiving opposition from the Manila City Jail. The Manila City Jail cited lack of personnel, health concerns, and a guideline stating that detainees can only be at their loved ones’ burial and wake for a maximum of three hours. For both the wake and the funeral, Nasino was clad in a full set of personal protective equipment, handcuffed, and flanked by numerous uniformed personnel.  Tensions rose during the wake after her escorts tried to pull her away twice before her time was up, eventually escorting her out with 20 minutes to spare before 4 p.m. On October 16, Marites Asis, Nasino’s mother, had to kneel and beg in front of the police to allow them to hold funeral at 11:30 a.m. The cops wanted to delay it until 1 p.m. Police also sped off with River’s hearse to the Manila North Cemetery, leaving her family behind and thwarting activists’ plan to conduct a caravan around the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals before burying her at the cemetery. Nasino’s counsels at NUPL earlier said that they will file charges against those involved in the activist’s treatment during her daughter’s wake and burial. .....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 18th, 2020

As COVID-19 ravages the Philippines, a bible thumper insults our intelligence

RJ Nieto We have been made too aware of the speakership catfight in the House of Representatives. On one side is Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who, last year, agreed to a term sharing deal that entails his voluntary resignation this month. On the other side, the PDP-Laban Lord Allan Velasco, head of the House’s biggest political party. If Cayetano just complied with the term-sharing agreement that he himself insisted on having, then the nation could have moved on and returned its focus on the COVID-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the erstwhile flourishing Philippine economy. But that was not the case: after getting a taste of his lucrative position for 15 months, Cayetano didn’t want to let go. In mid-September, Cayetano said he should remain as the speaker as he claims to enjoy majority support. Days later, his camp even went a step further when Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte accused Velasco of planning to delay the passage of the crucial 2021 National Budget. President Rodrigo Duterte, acting as head of the Kilusang Pagbabago Coalition, mediated the rift when he called for a meeting with Cayetano and Velasco. There are various versions of what happened during the meeting, but what’s clear is that both sides agreed to a vote on the speakership on October 14th. At this point, minus the speakership drama, pretty much everything else in the House, especially the 2021 budget deliberations, was going quite smoothly . At this point, the Cayetano-Velasco catfight was still a purely political skirmish. But things took a turn for the worse during the October 7 House session. While the budget debates were still ongoing, Cayetano abruptly declared the end of debates. He then moved to suspend House sessions until mid-November, effectively cancelling the October 14th vote for speaker. Cayetano’s move squarely violated Section 16(5), Article VI, of the Constitution, which forbids the House from adjourning for more than three days without the Senate’s nod. The term he used — “suspension” — is just semantic acrobatics for adjournment. Cayetano’s move effectively delayed the transmission to the Senate of the budget’s House version from October 14 to mid-November at the earliest. For the sake of holding onto power, he escalated the purely political skirmish into a full-blown national crisis. If Cayetano and his allies did not want a speakership change because his replacement will just delay the budget, then why did he delay the budget himself? The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a New Normal, and we need a national budget that takes this New Normal into account. However, the speaker’s latest political stunt risks the reenactment of the previous national budget, a budget that was written before COVID-19 ravaged us. How can the nation address the rampaging pandemic without a national budget that recognizes COVID-19 as a national disaster? We need more IT infrastructure funding as more Filipinos engage in e-commerce and as schools shift to online learning. We need more healthcare funding as Filipinos continue to get infected with this virus. We need more fiscal support for ailing businesses as thousands have gone bankrupt after the economy ground to a halt. But all of these may not happen because of what Cayetano did. He can bicker with anyone as much as he wants, but he should not sacrifice the welfare of this nation for the sake of his ambitions. Cayetano loves to quote the Bible every chance he gets, but it appears that the Bible he reads excludes all the verses that mention greed. I know for a fact that politicians want power. Running for office, after all, is inherently a quest to gain power. But power is sought not for power’s sake. Power is just a means to towards an end, and that end should be public welfare. Too bad for us earthlings, Cayetano may not share the same view of power. And even if he does, his notion of power is a warped, twisted version that serves his aspirations more than those of the Filipino people. And despite what he’s done, he has the gall to insult our intelligence by claiming that he has the nation’s best interests in mind. If there’s anything we can learn from Cayetano, that would be new and more creative ways to cringe. Alan Peter Cayetano’s latest stunt suggests that while Alan Peter Cayetano may still love this country, Alan Peter Cayetano happens to love Alan Peter Cayetano more. For comments and reactions, please email TP@ThinkingPinoy.net or visit Facebook.com/TheThinkingPinoy.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Christmas 2020 for workers and farmers

HOTSPOT Tonyo Cruz Two things workers are looking forward to at the end of each year are the 13th month pay and the Christmas bonus. And it seems about two million workers may not get any 13th month pay at all, if the Duterte government would have its way. The reason? Because of the pandemic. In reaction, Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog  issued his shortest statement yet this year, unable to hide labor’s frustration: “It is the government’s responsibility to bail out MSMEs in times of emergencies.” Indeed, it is the state’s obligation to support and prop up micro, small and medium-scale enterprises especially now in the time of pandemic. By saying MSMEs could dispense with the 13th month pay, the government is practically passing on its responsibility to MSMEs. Workers continue to give their share through the cheap, underpaid and overstressed labor power that makes sure MSMEs continue to function and perform their role as main engines of the economy. The government must do its job: Bail out the MSMEs. It is quite surprising that the Duterte government seems disinterested in bailing out MSMEs, considering the avalanche of news about the borrowings here and there. According to Sonny Africa, executive director of the think-tank Ibon Foundation, the borrowings has reached a historic high: “It took 118 years for the country’s debt to reach P6.1-trillion in 2016. President Duterte is taking just six years to more than than double that to P13.7-trillion in 2022.” Again, the reason for the borrowing has been “because of the pandemic.” Regardless of where the money goes, and whether or not MSMEs and workers received only a drop from it, they would pay the entire debt through more and higher taxes for years to come. Workers are not asking for something they have not earned through hard work. They earned that 13th month pay. It is not an optional thing. It is part of the law. The pandemic should oblige the state to bail out our MSMEs to enable them to fully function, and to give the workers’ their due under the law. Workers have given and lost a lot because of the pandemic. Workers have not asked for free rides to work, but the government fails to provide adequate and safe mass transport. Workers have asked for free mass testing in their companies and communities, but the government has other ideas. Workers and their families would have fared better with unemployment benefits amid the dismal pandemic response of government, but it seems the same government wishes to push them instead to pawnshops and loan sharks. We haven’t even factored in the laid-off, underemployed and unemployed workers, as well as the undetermined number of overseas Filipino healthcare workers stranded in the country since April. They all don’t wish to be “patay-gutom” and “pala-asa”.  They don’t wish to stay unemployed and be dependent on aid. They are ready to work and earn their keep. But since the president made policy decisions affecting their ability to obtain work, it is the government’s obligation to bail them out as well. The situation of our nation’s farmers is no different. For instance, rice farmers continue to produce our national staple. The pandemic made even worse the effects on them of the combined power of policies such as rice tarrification, the stranglehold of Big Landlords, the vast influence of rice cartels, and the continued operation of illegal rice importers. Price monitoring by Bantay Bigas and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas reveals the outrageously low palay prices nationwide, which means ruin to our nation’s rice farmers: Negros Occidental and Bicol region P10; Capiz P10-P11; Caraga P11; Tarlac P11-12; Ilocos Sur and Nueva Ecija P11-13; Camarines Sur P11.50-14; Bulacan and Mindoro P12; Isabela P12-P13.50; Pangasinan P12-P12.30; Antique P12.50; Agusan del Sur P13; Davao de Oro P13.14; Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and South Cotabato P13.50; North Cotabato P14; and Lanao del Norte P15. If you look at it, plantitos and plantitas today pay 20 to 50 times more for ornamental plants, compared to the prices traders and the NFA offer to our farmers. According to Bantay Bigas and KMP, the government procures way less than 20 percent of the produce of rice farmers.  And then we hear that the NFA would rather import rice from other countries, at pandemic-affected prices at that. Without any state intervention, by way of NFA buying rice farmers’ produce at P20 per kilo, and providing loans to farmers, there could be worse rural poverty in the coming months and years. Between our workers and farmers, their families have been made to sacrifice a lot since March, with prices of basic goods spiking, with new and higher expenses arising from online classes for the children. There cannot be no aid for them.  Neither should workers and farmers shoulder the burden of the failure or refusal of government to provide funding for bailouts sorely needed by MSMEs, and be forced to accept new national debts to pay for policies such as rice tarrification and importation. The government knows the scale of the problem. The Department of Labor and Employment says 13,127 companies have either laid off workers or permanently closed. The response cannot be “pass the burden to workers”. The answer should be: “the state must do everything to rescue the companies and the workers.” OFWs across the world should be familiar with bailouts and economic protections because of the pandemic. Many countries that host OFWs enacted huge bailouts and stimulus to their economies, partly so that migrant labor could continue to be employed. They enjoy health insurance, and special COVID19 coverage. Governments handed out checks to both citizens and companies. Is it too much to ask that the same be done in our own country? Or do Filipinos have to go abroad to experience such social and economic protections?.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

Uphill recovery

The International Monetary Fund made an honest assessment on the prospects of global economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic. The global economy has shown signs of bouncing back but a full recovery, says IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, is “unlikely” without a vaccine......»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 10th, 2020

PH to go for less expensive COVID-19 vaccine once available

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines would opt to buy a less expensive vaccine for COVID-19 regardless of which country it came from, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday. “As I said, it’s there. I think it’s Moderna. It’s a US company, I think they are ready by September. I told them to hurry up. Sinovac, China […] The post PH to go for less expensive COVID-19 vaccine once available appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 8th, 2020

BCDA made highest contribution to AFP during Duterte admin

State-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority claimed that the agency made its highest contribution to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the first three years of the Duterte administration amid concerns raised by some senators over the low remittances for the military’s modernization program......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 7th, 2020

Russia to begin vaccine trials on 40,000 people

Amid concerns over the safety of the vaccine Russia has developed against coronavirus disease 2019, authorities in Moscow said they would start next week large-scale clinical trials involving 40,000 people......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2020