287 Chinese vessels spotted in Kalayaan waters, NTF-WPS says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2021   •   349

MANILA, Philippines — A number of Chinese vessels were seen scattered in various features of the Municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan according to the latest maritime patrol, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said Wednesday.

Citing a report from the Area Task Force-West on the results of its maritime patrol on May 9, the NTF-WPS said that a total of 287 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels were sighted in Kalayaan waters, both within and outside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Bigger groupings of CMMs were sighted at the artificial islands of China while some were observed near islands occupied by the Philippines,” the task force said in a statement.

The recent sighting of Chinese vessels in the area is despite demands from Philippine government officials for China to withdraw its ships in the country’s territorial waters.

The NTF-WPS said that based on the maritime patrol, 2 CMMs and two Houbei Class Missile warships were seen inside Panganiban (Mischief) Reef; one CMM was at Lawak (Nanshan) Island; 11 CMMs were located approximately 29NM southwest of Recto (Reed) Bank; and one CMM vessel was at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

One Chinese Coast Guard was also seen at the shoal during an earlier patrol on May 7, the task force said.

“As for the features forming part of the Pagkakaisa (Union) Banks, the 9 May 2021 maritime patrol reported the presence of 34 CMMs at Juan Felipe (Whitsun) Reef (JFR), two Vietnamese (VN) logistics/supply ships and one VN Coast Guard vessel at Sin Cowe East (Grierson) Reef and 77 CMMs in Chigua Reef,” the NTF-WPS said.

The Julian Felipe Reef is a low tide elevation located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan and within 200 nautical miles (NM) of the Philippines’ EEZ.

“It is part of Philippine territory inasmuch as it is located within the overlapping 12NM territorial seas of McKennan (Chigua) Reef and of another possible high-tide feature, Grierson (Sin Cowe East) Reef, also our territories under the Municipality of Kalayaan,” the task force said.

The NTF-WPS also said that the 14 CMM vessels and one CCG vessel were spotted off the main Pagasa Island, and 16 CMMs at Zamora (Subi) Reef during the May 9 maritime patrol.

“For the period 3-10 May, the Area Task Force-North reported an average of four CCG vessels at Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and an average of one CCG each for both the Pag-asa Islands and Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal,” it added.

Despite China’s illegal unilateral “fishing ban” covering its fishing vessels in waters north of 12 degrees latitude in the South China Sea, from May 1 to August 16, 2021, the task force said two CMMs were observed harvesting shells inside the lagoon of the Bajo de Masinloc.

It also noted a daily average of 10 Filipino fishing boats seen fishing inside the Bajo de Masinloc lagoon for the period of May 7 to 9.

Amid the presence of Chinese vessels in the contested waters, the NTF-WPS said that the Philippine government “continues to strengthen its presence in the WPS with a view towards law enforcement, deterrence of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing and protection of the welfare and safety of our fisherfolk.”

The task force also urged Filipino fishermen to sail and fish in the West Philippine Sea.

“The National Task Force remains guided by the national policy and interest in asserting our territorial and sovereign rights as upheld by the 2016 arbitral ruling. The articulation of President Rodrigo Duterte at the 75th UN General Assembly emphasizing that the ruling is now part of international law and beyond compromise remains the supreme expression of foreign policy by this government,” it said.

“We reiterated that the Philippines shall continue to defend its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, and shall not yield an inch of our territory,” it added.

Palace identifies 10 areas among COVID-19 vaccination priority

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Ten areas experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases will now be among the priority in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine supply, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that aside from the NCR Plus 8, priority areas for the vaccine deployment will now include the following:

 

  • Bacolod City
  • Iloilo City
  • Cagayan De Oro City
  • Baguio CIty
  • Zamboanga City
  • Dumaguete City
  • Tuguegarao City
  • General Santos City
  • Naga City
  • Legaspi City

 

The distribution priority was previously limited to the NCR Plus 8 areas or the National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Pampanga, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

“Kasama sa mga lugar na bibigyan ng prayoridad sa pagbabakuna liban sa NCR Plus ay ang Plus 10 na tinatawag. So mayroon po tayong NCR Plus 8, plus 10,” Roque said at a Palace briefing.

He said these areas were included in the distribution priority list due to surges in coronavirus infections, the density of the environment and their highly-urbanized status, and their contribution to the economy.

“Ang naging basehan ay mataas nilang kaso o surging cases, ang kanilang pagiging highly urbanized, at dense environment, at ang kanilang kontribusyon sa regional o national economy,” he said.

Roque did not specify how many COVID-19 shots would be allotted to the new priority areas.

The national government earlier said that more than 30 percent of the country’s available vaccine supplies have been allocated to the NCR Plus areas. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PH logs 6,043 new COVID-19 cases; death toll breaches 24K

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ cumulative tally of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases  climbed to 1,378,260 on Thursday after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 6,043 additional infections.

In its latest bulletin, the DOH said the number of active cases in the country has reached 51,410.

Of this figure, 90.6 percent are mild, 4.5 percent are asymptomatic, 1.44 percent are moderate, 2 percent are severe, and 1.4 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH said only one testing laboratory failed to submit data on time.

The DOH also reported 4,486 more recovered patients, pushing the total recoveries to 1,302,814.

The death toll rose to 24,036 with 108 new fatalities.

The DOH also noted the positivity rate of 12.0 percent out of 46,497 tests reported last June 22.

Philippines to reach 10 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs next week — Dizon

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is expecting to breach by next week the 10-million mark in its COVID-19 vaccination program, testing czar Vince Dizon said Thursday.

In a press briefing with Israeli medical experts, Dizon said the government is close to reaching the targeted 500,000 daily vaccination rate based on the reported doses administered nationwide.

He said that on Wednesday, the Philippines administered over 353,000 doses, the biggest recorded so far.

“The days where we are hitting less than 100,000 are behind us and I think that with the additional vaccine doses that are coming in… the number that we reached yesterday will only get higher in the coming weeks,” he said.

“Our target is 500,000 a day, national. We’re almost there,” he added.

Based on the vaccine statistics presented by Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje in the same briefing, the country has already administered over 9.2 million doses as of June 23.

She said 1.6 million individuals under the A1 or first priority group have been vaccinated – one million of them have completed two doses.

Cabotaje also said that 2 million of the 8 million targeted senior citizens and another 2 million of the 7 million persons with co-morbidities have been inoculated.

Among A4 or essential workers in the NCR Plus 8 areas, 642,709 have received their first dose while 8,623 have been fully vaccinated.

For indigents or A5, 110,934 have been given their first dose against COVID-19.

The national government earlier said it is eyeing to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year to achieve population protection against coronavirus disease.

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