600,000 doses of China’s CoronaVac to arrive in PH on Feb. 28 — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   February 25, 2021   •   478

MANILA, Philippines — A Palace official confirmed that the initial shipment of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is set to arrive in the Philippines soon.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a total of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac from China’s pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech will be arriving on Sunday (February 28).

The official thanked China for its donations which will be used in the initial vaccine rollout of the government. 

Concerned officials from the national government will be welcoming the arrival of the vaccines in person on Sunday.

“Inaasahan na darating ang araw ng linggo, itong araw ng linggo pong ito ang Sinovac kaya po excited na tayong lahat,” Roque said.

“Inaasahan po at at least pinaplano natin na sasalubunin po ng mga opisyal ang pagdating ng mga bakuna,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the vaccines serve as ‘testament’ to the two countries’ diplomatic relationship.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” he said.

With the arrival of CoronaVac supplies, the government is expected to begin the roll out of COVID-19 immunization on Monday (March 1) with medical frontliners as the among the initial priorities despite advised from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the vaccine is not advisable for individuals with high exposure to COVID-19 positive cases.

First in the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot will be the spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and COVID-19 survivor, Dr. Jonas del Rosario.

“What we need is one day and we will roll out. So if it arrives on Sunday, if I’m not mistaken, we can rollout on Monday dahil excited na excited na po ang maraming kababayan natin,” Roque said.

The Palace official stressed, meanwhile, that the public should look into the positive side of vaccination regardless of which brand as long as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it can help address the current problems in relation to the pandemic.

But according to Dr. Garardo Legaspi, Director of UP-PGH, the initial survey among their staff revealed that about 90% of the hospital’s healthcare workers pre-registered and agreed to get a vaccine shot.

Although the survey, however, offered them Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and not the Chinese brand.

“Hindi ko masasabi kung ilan ang darating talaga. We are trying to manage the understanding of the EUA given to Sinovac kaya po siguro over the next few days, kailangan naming i-thresh out ang ibig sabihin ng fda na mas magiging very useful for our health workers to make their decision,” Legaspi explained.

The other survey, meanwhile, revealed that 75% of the staff agreed to be vaccinated regardless of brand.

“Hindi naman porket nabakunahan ng this particular vaccine na Sinovac ay walang proteksyon. Ang ibig lang sabihin, ang proteksyon niya ay hindi as high to prevent mild symptoms from occurring, which probably magiging dahilan ito para hindi makapasok ang healthcare workers sa ospital,” Legaspi noted.

“Siguro iyon ang basis ng FDA para sabihin na hindi siya ideal para sa healthcare workers dahil kahit mild symptom, hindi sila papasok pag nagkaroon sila ng mild symptom at mababawasan ang manpower sa ating ospital,” he added.

Legaspi further said that so far, all the vaccines which the FDA has granted approval — Sinovac, Pfizer and Astrazeneca— promise 100 percent protection against severe conditions related to COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace cites recent responses to tensions in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday cited the Philippine government’s recent responses to the developments in the West Philippine Sea following calls for China to withdraw its vessels spotted in various parts of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests and deployed more ships for maritime patrols in the contested waters in an attempt to peacefully settle the issue.

Roque also said that the National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) “has always been consistent” in invoking Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

He further stated that President Rodrigo Duterte already stressed the importance of the 2016 Hague Ruling on the West Philippine Sea and that the Philippines will not set aside the landmark decision.

“President Rodrigo Duterte underscored the importance of 2016 Arbitral Ruling before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly,” he said, referring to Duterte’s virtual attendance to the UNGA session in September last year.

It can be recalled that during the UN assembly, Duterte asserted the Philippines’ rights over the disputed waters even if China continues to ignore the ruling.

Roque also noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs has earlier filed an appropriate diplomatic protest against China and summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian over the Julian Felipe Reef situation.

He also said that the presence of Philippine maritime security and law enforcement forces have been stepped up in the municipality of Kalayaan to protect Filipino fishermen and the marine resources.

Roque issued the statement after Filipino business groups joined the call on China to withdraw its maritime militia and Navy vessels in the Philippines’ EEZ.

The NTF-WPS earlier reported that at least 240 Chinese vessels were found lingering in various parts of the West Philippine Sea during its latest sovereignty patrols in the area.

Alamin: Bakit maari pa ring mahawa ang isang taong nabakunahan na laban sa COVID-19?

Marje Pelayo   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Patuloy ang paalala ng Department of Health (DOH) sa publiko maging sa mga indibidwal na nakakumpleto na ng dalawang dosage ng COVID-19 vaccines na mag-ingat dahil posible pa rin silang mahawa ng virus.

Paliwanag ng DOH, patuloy pang pinag-aaralan ang pagiging epektibo ng bakuna at wala pang sapat na ebidensya kung kailan makukuha ng isang indibidwal ang ganap na proteksyon pagkatapos na makapagpabakuna.

Ayon sa DOH at maging ng mga vaccine expert, proteksyon sa pagkakaroon ng severe case ng coronavirus disease ang maibibigay ng mga COVID-19 vaccines sa ngayon at hindi ang immunity sa pagkakahawa sa virus.

“Ang sinasabi natin, lahat ng bakuna na available ngayon for EUA ay wala silang kapasidad para mag-block ng transmission. Ibig sabihin, kahit ikaw ay bakunado na even with your second dose you can still be infected and you can still infect others,” paliwanag ni Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Sa kasalukuyan, ilang bansa gaya ng Singapore at Japan ang nakapagtala na ng mga indibidwal na nahawa pa rin sa COVID-19 ilang araw pagkatapos na mabakunahan ng bakunang Pfizer-BionTech.

Kaya naman pinag-iingat pa rin ng DOH ang mga nakakumpleto na ng two dosage ng COVID-19 vaccines at sumunod pa rin sa health protocols dahil hanggang ngayon ay patuloy pang pinag-aaralan kung kailan makukuha ng isang indibidwal na nabakunahan ang ganap na proteksyon nito sa katawan.

“Wala pang lumalabas na sufficient evidence to state how much time does these vaccines give as protection. mayroon pailan-ilang studies lumalabas up to three months up to six months pero wala pa talagang sufficient na ebidensya at wala pa ring ibinibigay na rekomendasyon ang (World Health Organization),” ayon kay Vergeire.

Ngunit paliwanag ng mga vaccine expert, kung mahahawa man ang indibidwal na naka-kumpleto na ng COVID-19 vaccine, hindi naman ito magkakaroon ng severe cases ng sakit.

Base sa evaluation ng Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ang bakunang CoronaVac ng Sinovac ay may 100 percent efficacy rate laban sa pagkakaroon ng severe case; 50 percent laban sa mild cases; at 83 percent sa moderate cases.

Ang bakunang AstraZeneca naman ay may 100 percent efficacy rate upang protektahan ang isang indibidwal sa pagkakaroon ng moderate to severe cases ng COVID-19.

“Again I reiterate that it may not prevent you from getting an infection but it will suddenly prevent you from severe disease and death,” concluded Dr. Ruby Pawankar, president of the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (APAAACI). MNP (sa ulat ni Harlene Delgado)

NTF-WPS: Over 200 Chinese vessels still in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An estimated 240 Chinese vessels continue to linger in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the NTF-WPS denounced the continuous swarming in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia which are claimed by Chinese authorities to be ordinary fishing vessels.

The NTF-WPS said that its sovereignty patrols conducted on April 11 observed an estimated 240 Chinese vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command (WesCom) reported the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the territorial waters of the Municipality of Kalayaan, Province of Palawan, and the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The AFP-WesCom said that the Chinese vessels were found in the following areas:

  • 136 vessels at Burgos (Gaven) Reef
  • 9 vessels at Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun)
  • 65 at Chigua (McKennan) Reef
  • 6 at Panganiban (Mischief) Reef
  • 3 at Zamora (Subi) Reef
  • 4 at the Pagasa (Thitu) Islands
  • 1 at Likas (West York) Island
  • 5 ay Kota (Loaita) Island
    11 at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal

“These 240 CMM vessels, now dispersed at the Pagkakaisa (Union) Banks and Pagasa Islands are about 60 meters in length. A minimum estimate that each can catch one ton of fish amounts to a conservative total of 240,000 kilos of fish illegally taken from Philippine waters every single day that the massed Chinese fishing vessels remain in the West Philippine Sea,” the NTF-WPS said.

“These acts fall under illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” it added.

The task force also said that an earlier patrol conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard observed Chinese poachers collecting giant clams in the vicinity of the Pagasa Islands. The poachers quickly departed when approached by the Philippine Coast Guard.

“This act is a blatant violation of Philippine fisheries and wildlife laws, and the Convention International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” the NTF-WPS said.

Also spotted during the sovereignty patrol were the following People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels – two Houbei class missile warships at Panganiban Reef, one Corvette class warship at Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, and one Navy Tugboat at Zamora Reef. Further, two CCG vessels were seen in the territorial sea of the Pagasa Islands.

Additional monitoring by the AFP reported two PLAN, three Chinese Coast Guard, and 10 maritime militia vessels at Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough) Shoal. All these warships of the PLA Navy contribute to the militarization of the area.

The NTF-WPS said the combined presence of PLAN warships, CCG, and CMM in the Municipality of Kalayaan and the Philippine EEZ is “prejudicial to the peace and security of the region.”

“The continuous swarming of Chinese vessels poses a threat to the safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, and impedes the exclusive right of Filipinos to benefit from the marine wealth in the EEZ,” it said.

“The Philippine government reiterates its demand upon China to withdraw all its vessels from the Municipality of Kalayaan and the Philippine EEZ,” it added.

The NTF-WPS further called on China to respect Philippine sovereignty.

“In keeping with its role as a development partner, China should take the Philippine representations seriously and respect Philippine sovereignty, rights, and interests in consonance with the further strengthening of Philippine-China bilateral relations,” it said.

The NTF-WPS’ intensified maritime operations in the West Philippine Sea follow the recent escalation of disputes over the resource-rich waters in March after the Philippine military spotted more than 200 Chinese boats at the Julian Felipe Reef.

China claimed that the area is part of its traditional fishing ground and that the vessels there were not maritime militia vessels but fishing boats that were only seeking temporary shelter due to rough sea conditions.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said it has summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to explain the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA has repeatedly fired off diplomatic protest and called for the immediate withdrawal of the vessels.

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