Duterte assures enough gov’t funds to handle COVID-19, other public health emergencies

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2020   •   187

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech during a meeting with local chief executives at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on February 10, 2020. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has assured the public that the government has enough funds to handle the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and other public health emergencies.

Duterte made the assurance during his meeting with local chief executives in Pasay on Monday to discuss the strengthening of government efforts against various challenges such as the spread of novel coronavirus, African Swine Fever and the communist threat.

“I would like also to take this opportunity to assure all Filipino brothers and sisters that the national government remains to be on top of the threat of the coronavirus. We are prepared to handle all public emergency, in case the worst possible scenario happens,” he said.

He also urged the public to keep their faith in the government as it works to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

“Ang akin lang, sabihin ko sa iyo, maniwala lang kayo sa gobyerno. I mean — we mean, in a crisis of involving deaths and getting people sick, we will do our very best at maniwala lang kayo,” he said.

Duterte likewise called on local officials to take urgent steps in preventing the transmission of the disease in their areas of jurisdiction, and in the immediate care of those who have been afflicted.

He also directed all local government units to be more proactive in the management of cases, contact tracing, efficient prevention and control, and information dissemination regarding the coronavirus.

The president also told local officials to listen and follow the protocols set out by the Department of Health, and to allow people access to equipment and services to help fight the spread of the virus.

“I trust that you will actively engage our schools, hospitals and barangay health workers for more efficient and effective community response to avert possible outbreak that could affect the day-to-day lives of our people,” he told the local executives.

Duterte also gave updates to local officials on the repatriation of Filipinos from the Chinese City of Wuhan – the epicenter of the novel coronavirus update – as well as the quarantine process being implemented at the Athlete’s Village in the New Clark City in Tarlac.

“We will continue to coordinate with the DOH and other concerned agencies so that we can meet the needs, not only of those who were affected by the virus, but also of the welfare of our frontline health workers,” he said.

Filipinos aboard quarantined ship in Japan to be repatriated on Feb. 23 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship being quarantined due to cases of coronavirus among its passengers in Yokohama, Japan will be repatriated by the Philippine government on Sunday, February 23, the Department of Health (DOH) announced Thursday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told reporters in a briefing that the Filipinos will arrive at the Haribon Hangar of Clark Airbase in two planes and will be brought to New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Of the 3,711 people onboard the cruise ship, 538 are Filipinos – 531 are crew members while seven are passengers.

The health chief said they need to bring home as soon as possible Filipinos who did not test positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are not showing symptoms of the illness.

However, Filipinos aboard the cruise ship who were found infected with the disease will not be repatriated as they will have to be brought to a hospital to undergo treatment or monitoring.

As of Thursday, the number of Filipinos on the vessel who were found positive for COVID-19 has risen to 44.

Duque said the Philippine government is willing to assist Filipinos who contracted the disease once they have recovered.

He also said that it is not yet known how many Filipinos will return home as some might still decide to stay after disembarking the ship on Wednesday when the two-week quarantine period ended.

The entire cruise ship was placed on quarantine last February 3 after one of its passengers tested positive for the virus.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. earlier ordered for the immediate repatriation of Filipinos aboard the cruise ship.

The DFA said they have been coordinating with Japanese authorities and the operator of the vessel to ensure that everything will be smooth once the repatriation process begins. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

PUV operators ask LTFRB to remove P5,000 penalty vs drivers for not wearing facemasks while on duty

Maris Federez   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila jeepney operators asked the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to remove the P5,000.00 fine being imposed on public utility vehicles (PUV) drivers for not wearing facemasks while on transport.

Under the LTFRB memorandum circular 2020-05, drivers and operators are required to wear facemasks as part of their safety precaution against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (ACTO) President Efren de Luna said they are always ready to take heed on the said measure, except that they are having difficulty finding available face masks in the market.

“Ang problema ho dun walang mabilhan, pag walang raw hong mask, may bayad ng 5000, may fine na penalty na P5,000,” de Luna said.

He pointed out that even the Department of Health has advised that due to the shortage in the supply of facemasks, priority is given to health workers and patients on its usage.

The LTFRB, on the other hand, said during the hearing at the House Committee on Transportation that it will review the said measure and will take the request into consideration. — (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

More passengers leave quarantined cruise ship in Japan to go home

UNTV News   •   February 19, 2020

Disembarkation of passengers on the virus-hit cruise ship moored near Tokyo continued on Wednesday (February 19), after a controversial two-week quarantine that saw more than 500 people infected with the new coronavirus originating in China.

Buses escorted by Japan’s Self Defense Force and police vehicles were seen transporting passengers out of the port throughout the day, while remaining passengers looked on from the ship’s balcony.

The Diamond Princess, operated by Carnival Corp, was quarantined on arrival in the port of Yokohama since Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it traveled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus. More than 540 people have been infected with the virus on the liner, which originally carried some 3,700 passengers and crew.

Foreign nationals such as Australians, Hong Kongers, and Canadians were set to leave the ship on Wednesday. The governments of these countries are preparing to evacuate them on chartered flights. (Reuters)

(Production: Akira Tomoshige, Kohei Miyazaki, Hideto Sakai, Akiko Okamoto)

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