Comelec suspends voter registration until March 31 due to COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020   •   490

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the voter registration until March 31 amid the rising number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the suspension will begin on Tuesday, March 10.

“As a response to the growing threat to public health posed by COVID-19, voter registration has been suspended by the Comelec until the 31st of March 2020,” he said.

Jimenez said the suspension takes effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration conducted in all Comelec offices in districts, cities, and municipalities, as well as all satellite registration activities.

“The public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to limit their exposure to the possibility of COVID-19 infection,” he added.

The poll body opened the voter registration for the 2022 national elections last January. It was initially set to run until September 30, 2021.

As of posting time, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a public health emergency amid the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The DOH also raised Code Red Sublevel 1 after confirming the country’s first case of coronavirus local transmission.

Cebu City hospitals in critical level amid surge of COVID-19 cases – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Some hospitals in Cebu City are already in critical level amid the surge of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a televised press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Cebu City’s overall health capacity has reached a critical point as many hospitals in the city are already swamped with patients.

“They’ve reached about 80 percent and even more—80 percent last week, pero napababa nila iyon nung nag meeting kami nung Sunday. Parang bumaba ng konti, although nasa critical level pa rin,” Vergeire said.

“So, ngayon pag nakakita tayo ng ganito, binabantayan kaya nga ang decision sa kanila they continue on with enhanced community quarantine,” she added.

The DOH official also noted there are only a few tertiary level hospitals in Cebu City and many are level one facilities that do not have intensive care units.

“’Yung iba pang malalaking ospital sa Cebu ay nandun na sa critical. Marami nang naka-admit, pati mechanical ventilators nila marami na ring gumagamit,” she said.

She cited Chong Hua Hospital, as an example, which is already occupied by 98 percent.

She said that aside from taking care of over 200 COVID-19 patients, at least 238 of its health workers are also currently under quarantine.

Due to this, Vergeire said the DOH is facilitating the augmentation and deployment of additional health workers, including infectious disease consultants, nurses, and military doctors, to Cebu Province to help attend to the burgeoning number of virus-infected patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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Antipolo City market on lockdown as 18 tenants, vendors contract COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Antipolo City government has ordered the lockdown of the city’s public market after 18 of its tenants and vendors tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The lockdown, which started on Tuesday (June 30), would be in effect for two weeks, according to Antipolo Mayor Andrea Ynares.

The patients are now in isolation for mandatory quarantine while disinfection procedures are currently being undertaken within the market’s premises. 

Meanwhile, the local government unit has started distributing relief goods to other tenants and vendors affected by the closure. 

“Ang amin pong paulit-ulit na panawagan sa atin pong mga kababayan ay sana po sumunod tayo sa mga umiiral na batas ngayon, mga alituntunin,” appealed Relly Bernardo Jr. of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO).

[We constantly appeal to our constituents to follow health regulations, follow the law.]

“Siguraduhin po na nakakasunod po tayo sa mga protocols gaya ng pagsusuot ng mask, regular hand sanitation, at physical distancing,” he added.

[Always make sure that we are following protocols like wearing of masks, regular hand sanitation, and physical distancing.]

Likewise, the LGU is asking for help from the private markets in the city to conduct COVID-19 tests among their tenants.

The LGU added that private market owners can request from the city hall should they lack funds. —MNP (with details from JP Nunez)

3 options being considered for Duterte’s SONA, Sotto says

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Congress is considering three scenarios for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.

In an online press conference, Sotto said the Senate and the House of Representatives have been discussing options on how to hold the SONA this year amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Option number one involves conducting a traditional SONA in the Batasang Pambansa, with the president and several members of the legislative branch in attendance but without guests.

Option number two is to have the president deliver his speech at the Malacañang while lawmakers convene in Batasang Pambansa.

Option number three will see the President staying in Malacañang while senators and members of the House convene in their respective session halls.

Sotto believes the Palace will prefer that the address be made in Malacañang to ensure the president’s safety amid the threat of coronavirus pandemic.

“Kung ano ang safest sa pangulo ang primary consideration sa pag-decide sa SONA setup,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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