Arbitral ruling on WPS issue not meaningless but UN can’t enforce it, Enrile says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2021   •   421

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed his belief that the arbitral ruling upholding the claims of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea is not meaningless.

Enrile issued the remark after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his stand that the 2016 The Hague ruling nullifying China’s historical claims over the West Philippine Sea will just be rejected by China.

“This is really the dilemma of the nation. For me, the beginning of this problem was when we retreated,” Duterte said, referring to the 2012 standoff between the Philippines and China in the Scarborough Shoal.

“Since then, yung paper works about the arbitral award has become meaningless and the opposite camp of the political side ay nagsabi na I should do my very best in asking the UN,” he added.

But Enrile said the arbitral ruling on the issue will not go to waste as it is already on record. He also indicated that the award, which also voided China’s historical claims, was based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Sa aking paningin, hindi naman nasasayang yung desisyon ng arbitration diyan sa bagay na yan sapagka’t nandiyan na yun eh. Sa palagay ko nakarehistro ang decision sa record ng UN,” he said.

He, however, said any resolution coming from the UN will not have much effect as the body is powerless to enforce it.

“Ano pang kailangang resolusyon ng UN para malunasan ang sigalot na yan? Palagay ko kahit may resolution ng UN yan, di mapapatupad ng UN yung resolution nila. Wala silang police force eh. Wala namang world government na kagaya ng estruktura sa ating bansa,” he said.

Duterte thanked Enrile for his advise and for backing up the administration’s foreign policy, reiterating that he prefers to talk with China instead of using force to defend the Philippine sovereignty.

“I was frank enough in the early days that ‘might’ make it right. We are not unfortunately on the side of might. We cannot do anything in force so we have to talk,” he said.

“Just talk and talk until such time by grace of God until there is an opportunity in time,” he added.

Duterte invited Enrile to be a special guest during his weekly public address to speak on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.

PH gov’t tracing 253 passengers from Africa amid looming threat of Omicron

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is tracing and monitoring more than 200 travelers who arrived in the country from African nations in the last two weeks amid the threat of new COVID-19 variant called Omicron, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have traced a total of 253 passengers from South Africa who arrived in the Philippines from November 15 to 29.

“BOQ has started to locate these passengers,” Vergeire said in a virtual press forum.

Of the 253 passengers, 249 were returning overseas Filipinos and four were foreigners. Authorities have traced 71 of these individuals.

The number includes three foreigners still in quarantine in Western Visayas after yielding negative test results.

Vergeire said three of these passengers initially tested positive for COVID-19. One passenger came from South Africa, another from Burkina Faso, and the other from Egypt.

She said samples of these travelers may undergo genome sequencing for variant identification.

“We are still processing the batch that we are going to subject to whole genome sequencing for this week. Results might be tonight or maybe tomorrow,” she said.

“Meron pong dumating na 253 from South Africa noong Nov. 15 to 29, may tatlo galing Burkina Faso; and mayroon 541 galing Egypt. Each of these countries nagkaroon ng isang traveler who tested positive for COVID-19,” she added.

The Philippine government banned the entry of travelers – except for Filipino repatriates – from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy until December 15 as a precautionary measure against the Omicron variant.

The DOH said the heavily mutated variant and potentially more infectious than other coronavirus variants have now been detected in 35 countries.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa.

It has been designated as a variant of concern but the World Health Organization said further studies are needed to better understand the variant’s effect on vaccines, treatment, and the virus’ transmissibility.

Over 90 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs administered in PH – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has administered over 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the government rolled out the immunization drive in March, Malacañang said Friday.

Citing the December 2 data from the National COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard, acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said a total of 90,259,621 doses have been administered nationwide.

Of said figure, 48.42 percent or 37.3 million individuals have been fully vaccinated, he added.

The total included some 52.4 million first doses and 432,301 booster doses.

The government aims to vaccinate 54 million by the end of 2021 and up to 70 million by March 2022 to attain population protection against COVID-19.

In a bid to scale up the country’s vaccination rate, the government launched a three-day mass vaccination campaign, which initially aimed to vaccinate 9 million.

The campaign covered at least 8 million individuals in three days. The Department of Health earlier said this figure is expected to go up as reports continue to come in.

Meanwhile, the government also announced that the expanded rollout of the administration of booster shots for all fully vaccinated individuals aged 18 and above has started on Friday.

This program includes the Phase 2 rollout of the booster and additional doses for priority group A3 (persons with comorbidities), Nograles said.

Tandaan natin na importanteng magpabakuna sa gitna ng banta ng Omicron variant,” he said.

“Sa milyun-milyong nabakunahan na mga Pilipino, 99%+++ ay walang naramdaman na adverse reaction, o kung mayroon man, mild lamang po ito. Wala pong namatay na direktang may kaugnayan sa COVID-19 vaccine jab,” he added.

8 million people immunized vs COVID-19 in PH mass vaccination drive – NVOC

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – At least 8 million individuals out of the 9 million target vaccinees were vaccinated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the three-day mass vaccination drive, the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) said Friday.

Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, who chairs the NVOC, said a total of 2,709,344 COVID-19 shots were administered on the first day of the campaign; 2,475,479 on day 2; and 2,829,928 on Wednesday.

Based on current data, the running total of administered doses was at 8,014,751 as of 6 a.m. Friday.

Cabotaje said the figure is expected to increase when reports from local government units come in.

The NVOC chair said the top performing regions in terms of the number of jabs administered were Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Central Visayas.

“Together, they have accounted for about a third of the 8 million jabs that have been produced during the three days,” she said in a televised public briefing.

Provinces with the highest vaccination outputs during the three-day drive were Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Cavite.

Authorities initially aimed to inoculate at least 9 million individuals during the three-day vaccination drive from November 29 to December 1.

The vaccination program has been extended until Friday.

Another round of nationwide immunization against COVID-19 will be held from December 15 to 17.

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