DOJ, DILG crafting guidelines for Duterte order to detain people improperly wearing face masks

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2021   •   191

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are crafting guidelines for the latest order of President Rodrigo Duterte to detain those who are improperly wearing face masks in public, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said the guidelines will include details on the booking and detention processes, as well as the investigation and the filing of charges against those who will be apprehended.

The DOJ chief, however, stressed that Duterte’s order takes effect immediately even if the guidelines are still being formulated.

“The President’s directive takes effect immediately even without the guidelines. Existing laws and ordinances define the prohibited acts and impose the corresponding penalties therefore, and the relevant rules of court govern the procedure,” Guevarra said.

He also advised the public to wear face masks properly and to follow the law to avoid being detained.

“The best way to avoid being arrested while the guidelines are being formulated is to wear a face mask and obey the law,” he said.

On Wednesday, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to impose a stricter mask mandate to stem the spread of COVID-19 that mostly affected urban centers.

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)

Israeli experts visit PH COVID-19 vaccination, storage sites

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A team of health experts from Israel on Wednesday visited some vaccination sites and cold chain storage facilities in Metro Manila as part of the efforts to assess and help the Philippine government improve its strategies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team of Israeli experts inspected a vaccination hub set up at the Solaire Theater in Parañaque City for the private sector, as well as some cold storage facilities being used in the government’s vaccination program.

They were accompanied by Inter-Agency Task Force and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Vince Dizon and other government officials.

Roque said the team of experts from Israel is in the country to share their strategies and methods in fighting the pandemic, as well as addressing vaccine hesitancy.

“We need to learn from Israel kasi Israel successfully achieved containment [of the coronavirus] and we want to learn from what they did to achieve containment,” he said.

Galvez earlier said that the Israeli delegation’s visit aims to help the government develop more improved strategies on data management, deployment methods, and transition to new normal.

The NTF and Israeli experts initially met at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Monday to discuss vaccination and jab logistics management.

Galvez said that so far, the team has shared key strategies to effectively contain virus transmission and reduce active cases within communities.

Roque said a press conference dedicated for the Israeli visitors will be held on Thursday where they can share their observations and recommendations on the Philippines’ vaccination drive.

The Philippine government would adopt some Israeli strategies to further improve the country’s vaccine deployment and data management, he added.

“Ang talagang gusto nilang makita is how we actually implementing the vaccination which is ongoing right now… Alam nyo naman sa Israel wala na ngayong mask in public places dahil mayroon na silang containment, mayroon na silang population protection that’s why they are here as our guest and as our resource person because we want to achieve that state,” Roque said.

The delegation from the Israeli Ministry of Health has been in the Philippines for four days now. They arrived last Sunday and will stay until Friday, June 25. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

NCR now low risk for COVID-19; 4 regions at high risk — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Capital Region (NCR) is now categorized as a low-risk area for COVID-19 amid a decreasing number of infections, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday.

In an online press briefing, DOH Epidemiology Bureau director Dr. Alethea De Guzman said Metro Manila has been exhibiting a declining virus growth rate in the past two weeks.

“Para po sa NCR, siya po ay na-classify na po ngayon natin at low risk dahil nagpakita siya ng pagbaba ng kaso by 23% in the last 2 weeks,” De Guzman said.

She said that from June 16 to 22, the NCR averaged 685 new cases daily, which is lower than its average of 825 cases from June 9 to 15.

The region’s average daily attack rate (ADAR) was logged at 5.7 cases per 100,000, hospital occupancy rate at 36.29 percent, and intensive care unit utilization rate at 45.83 percent.

Among the NCR Plus 8 areas, Laguna has yet to show a decline in cases, De Guzman said, as she noted that Calabarzon province is still exhibiting a plateau of COVID-19 cases.

The NCR was once the epicenter of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

“Kung dati nakikita natin na ang NCR ang number 1, in the last few days, it’s region CALABARZON as well as the inclusion of regions and areas from Visayas and Mindanao,” De Guzman said.

In Luzon, De Guzman said, almost all areas have exhibited declining cases except for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“For Luzon naman po, lahat ng mga lugar ay nagpapakita ng pagbaba ng kaso liban po sa CAR… parang halos flat po ang kaniyang linya,” she said.

While the NCR is now low-risk for COVID-19, four other regions have been flagged as high-risks after showing an increase in cases and bed occupancy rates.

These are Caraga, Regions 6, 11, and 12.

The average daily attack rate (ADAR) of coronavirus in Caraga is at 9.95 cases per 100,000, Region 6 at 8.83, Region 11 at 8.16, and Region 12 at 7.01.

De Guzman said that all four regions logged positive two-week case growth rates while Region 11’s ICU utilization rate was at high or critical risk.

Other areas where ICU occupancy rates have also reached the critical risk classification were Regions 2, 6, 10, and 12.

Nationwide, the trend of COVID-19 cases is showing signs of decline but De Guzman said there is still a need to reduce the number of daily cases as the current figure is still far from the pre-surge levels.

“Although we are happy that these numbers are going down, it is still far from our pre-spike levels of less than 2,000 cases per day nationally,” she said.

She urged the public to help reduce infections by following health protocols such as the proper wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing.

The implementation of the Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, Reintegrate (PDITR) response at the community level should also be intensified, as well as the contact tracing and vaccination efforts. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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