Biden extends condolences to the Filipino people on the passing ex-president Noynoy Aquino

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 25, 2021   •   554

United States (US) President Joe Biden extended his condolences to the Filipino people on the passing of former President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III.

In a statement, Biden said Aquino was a valued friend and partner to the United States. He added that Aquino  served the Philippines with integrity and selfless dedication.

“President Aquino’s steadfast commitment to advancing peace, upholding the rule of law, and driving economic growth for all Filipinos, while taking bold steps to promote the rules-based international order, leaves a remarkable legacy at home and abroad that will endure for years to come,” he said.

The US President also extended his heartfelt sympathies toAquino’s family and to all who will mourn his absence. AAC

Valte explains ‘overpriced’ PPE procured by Aquino admin

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former deputy spokesperson of the Aquino administration, Abigail Valte, on Friday (September 3) explained the previous administration’s acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE) in 2016.

This is amid Presidential Harry Roque Jr.’s statement that the PPE sets procured during the Aquino administration were more expensive despite not having any pandemic and did not go under proper bidding.

In a Facebook post, Valte said that the procurement dated June 23, 2016, underwent proper bidding and the PPE sets are not a regular kind as they also include hazmat suits. The purchase order also included specifications and warranties.

The 3,750 PPE sets that cost P3,864 each included goggles, gloves, plastic shoe covers, coveralls, surgical gloves, N95 face masks, surgical masks, and head caps.

“I heard people are looking for the specs of the PPE sets procured via PO dated June 23, 2016, so here you go. Note that I intentionally cropped the signatories out of Page 3 to avoid exposing their signatures to fraudsters,” she said.

A Senate investigation is currently ongoing for the Duterte administration’s procurement of allegedly overpriced PPE sets. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Philippines to export more mangoes, pineapples to US

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — More Philippine-grown mangoes and pineapples will soon be exported to the United States, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced.

The DA said the development comes after its Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) reached a deal during a virtual meeting held on August 12.

“Expanding the export market of Philippine pineapples and mangoes in the US and other countries will not only enhance our national economy, but more importantly, provide increased incomes to thousands of farmers and their families in pineapple- and mango-producing provinces nationwide,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

The recent agreement between the APHIS and BPI could dramatically increase the country’s exports of pineapples and resume shipments of mangoes to the US via additional ports of entry, he added.

The Philippines currently exports fresh pineapples to the US through Guam, Commonwealth of Marianas Island, and North Atlantic regions. From 2013 to July 15, 2021, exports amounted to only 346,190 kilograms.

The country previously exported fresh mangoes to the US, from 2005 to 2008, totaling 386,099 kilograms, all produced in Guimaras Island, the DA added.

The DA said USDA-APHIS accepted evidence that the Philippines’ main export pineapple variety is not a host to the oriental fruit fly.

The fruit pest, known scientifically as Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), is very destructive and often finds its way into the US, sometimes triggering wide-scale eradication programs.

The Philippines may start shipping pineapples to various US markets before year-end, the DA said.

Duterte thanks US for donated 3M Moderna vax, says shots will be given to poor Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte thanked the government of the United States for the three million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine it donated to the Philippines.

Duterte, along with some Cabinet officials, personally welcomed the arrival of the vaccines on Tuesday at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

The Moderna vaccines donated by the US were coursed through the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility.

“I wish to thank the United States for the generosity in sharing various COVID-19 assistance to the Philippines,” Duterte said in his speech during the arrival of the vaccine.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the COVAX facility for the continuous donation of these vaccines. We look forward to the delivery of even more life-saving vaccines in the country very soon,” he added.

Duterte also thanked the US for the donations of key medical supplies and equipment and the provision of institutional support to the government’s COVID-response.

“All of these have helped, definitely will continue to help the Filipino people. Indeed, the cooperation between the Philippines and US in overcoming the pandemic highlights the strong and deep friendship between the two countries,” he said.

Duterte said the latest shipment of Moderna vaccine shots will be used to immunize poor Filipinos.

He said this is following America’s sentiment that its donation should go first to those who have the least in life.

“And for those, well, who do not want to be vaccinated, we will try to entice them with the vaccines given by the United States,” he added.

The Philippines has so far received a total of 34.2 million coronavirus vaccine doses.

It also expects to get 22.7 million coronavirus jabs for the month of August, as announced earlier by vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Prior to the arrival of Moderna vaccines, the US also donated 3.2 million doses of single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the Philippines.

As of August 2, over 21.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country while 9.3 million people have been fully immunized.

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