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Duterte orders ‘vigorous’ immunization campaign amid measles outbreak

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to intensify the government’s immunization program following the declaration of measles outbreak in Metro Manila and in different parts of the country.

“The president ordered the vigorous campaign to complete the immunization for children. I think one of the reasons why we have an outbreak of measles is because of the lack of immunization on the part of children,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The Department of Health (DOH) has called on other agencies to help intensify information dissemination regarding the government’s immunization programs.

Apart from Metro Manila, the DOH also declared measles outbreak in Calabarzon region, Central Luzon, and it Western and Central Visayas.

Based on the latest count of the DOH, the number of measles cases has hit 1,674 in the entire country in January 2019 alone.

This is a 550% increase from the mere 20 cases during the same period in 2018.

Currently, the DOH is closely monitoring the situation in Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, MIMAROPA, and the Bicol region to prevent further rise in number of measles cases.

“We are expanding the outbreak from Metro Manila to other regions as cases have increase in the past weeks and to strengthen surveillance of new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant,” Duque noted. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz / Joan Nano)

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Duterte picks Cebu City Police chief as next PCSO general manager

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Cebu City Police Office Director Colonel Royina Garma | Courtesy : RTVM

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he would name Cebu City Police Office Director Colonel Royina Garma as the next general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Duterte announced this during the premiere night of the feature film “Kontradiksyon” at a mall in Mandaluyong City.

The president said Garma, who has been in the police service for more than 20 years, will be replacing Alexander Balutan.

Balutan, a retired military general, resigned last March citing personal reasons for leaving the post.

Duterte appointed Balutan in 2016 but his stint in the PCSO was marred by allegations of improper spending when the agency held a luxurious party at a five-star hotel for its employees and guests in December. (with details from Grace Casin)

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Source: Minor revamp looms in Duterte Cabinet

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 38th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on June 10, 2019. Courtesy PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – A minor reshuffle is expected to take place soon in the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte, a highly placed source said on Monday.

The source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to divulge this information to media, said Duterte is mulling over moving some officials amid ongoing evaluation of all departments’ performances.

The source said the revamp may include Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, who may be transferred to the Mindanao Development Authority.

The President may announce the possible Cabinet revamp next month, the source said. (with details from Grace Casin)

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Senators point out ‘sovereignty issue’ in PH-China joint probe on Recto Bank incident

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

(L-R) Crewmen of the sunken fishing vessel, F/B GEN-VER 1 reunited with their families; wreckage of F/B GEN-VER 1 after getting hit by a Chinese vessel at Recto Bank on June 9, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – Several Senators have questioned the planned joint investigation of the Philippines and China into the boat-ramming incident near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank).

In separate statements, Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan both opposed the move, saying this is a clear violation of international treaties and will prejudice the country’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Drilon said the Philippines should not allow a joint probe with China because the law is on Manila’s side. He added that a joint investigation will only serve Beijing’s interests.

“Not only the credibility issue, you have a lot of legal complications and sovereignty issues,” he stressed.

Drilon also pointed out that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 ruled that China cannot claim Recto Bank as this is part of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Pangilinan echoed Drilon’s sentiments, emphasizing that the joint probe is against the country’s fisheries code, which mandates the government to ensure the safety of our fishery and aquatic resources and prosecute local and foreign violators.

“A joint investigation is against our fisheries code. Our fisheries code mandates the government to safeguard the safety of our fishery and aquatic resources and to prosecute local and foreign violators. Part also of the government’s mandate is to address foreign illegal entrants in our waters,” he said in a statement released on Sunday (June 23).

Senator Panfilo Lacson also believes that conducting a joint probe with China into the allision incident in Recto Bank may be seen as a waiver of the Philippines’ ownership rights over the area.

READ: Lacson says PH-China joint probe may be seen as waiver of Recto Bank ownership

“The 2016 Hague ruling expressly states that Recto Bank is part of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and therefore cannot be claimed by China. Having said that, allowing a joint investigation with China and a third party may be interpreted as a waiver of our right of ownership of Recto Bank,” Lacson said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Senator Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, thinks there is no need for a joint probe since Manila has already filed a diplomatic protest against China over the issue.

“I still don’t think there’s a need for a joint probe. We already filed a protest before the UN IMO and other international forum. There are two cases here,” he said.

“The enforcement of the Philippine-China arbitration award should have been an immediate priority of the National Security Council especially after the incident,” he added.

In the end, Drilon suggested for President Duterte to form an independent body to look into the incident like the Melo and Feliciano commissions created by past administrations.

Drilon said the investigating body should be given authority to make recommendations, inquire into the Recto Bank incident and submit a report the President and Congress.

“This body, I would propose, should be composed of men of independence, integrity, a retired supreme court justice is preferable by having this we are able to resolve this issue with credibility,” he said.

The lawmakers’ statements come after the chief executive welcomed the Chinese government’s offer for a joint probe into the ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in the West Philippine Sea, adding that it should be done with a third neutral party. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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