Duterte to meet with Cabinet on January 11 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 11, 2021   •   239

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with the members of his Cabinet on Monday night, January 11, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte rescheduled his weekly address to the nation to conduct the Cabinet meeting.

The president normally holds his weekly address on Monday but moved it to Wednesday this week.

“Mamayang gabi po, there will be a Cabinet meeting and the talk to the people will be on Wednesday,” Roque said.

The Palace official did not give any information on the topics that will be discussed during the meeting.

Duterte last convened his Cabinet officials in December 14, 2020. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace defends Duterte order to reduce number of holidays for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel some traditional holidays for this year in a bid to spur the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under Proclamation No. 1107, Duterte moved to declare traditional holidays of Nov. 2, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31 as special working days “to encourage economic productivity by minimizing work disruption and commemorating some special holidays as special (working) days instead.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the order was based on the recommendation of the administration’s economic managers to support economic recovery.

“Napakatagal na po natin nakabakasyon. Halos isang taon na tayong nagbakasyon dahil sa COVID-19,” Roque said in a virtual briefing.

“Siguro naman po ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for lost time,” he added.

The imposition of lengthy lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 has led the Philippine economy to a slump. The pandemic has also affected millions of workers and businesses.

Opposition lawmakers, however, called on Malacañang to reconsider its decision, saying the reclassification of traditional holidays into special working days will affect workers’ pay as they will no longer get additional holiday pay equal to 30 percent of their basic daily wage.

In response to their calls, Roque said that “nothing is etched in stone” and that there is still a possibility that this will change with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

“Pero tingnan po natin kung anong mangyayari, nothing is etched in stone naman po. Tingnan natin baka naman dahil may bakuna na eh makabalik na tayo sa dati at baka hindi na natin kinakailangan maghabol pa ‘no,” he said.

The Philippines on Monday started its COVID-19 immunization program following receipt of 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, courtesy of the Chinese government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to wait for FDA approval before using Sinopharm vax – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will wait for China-state-owned Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before receiving a dose, his spokesperson said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after the FDA confirmed that it has received Sinopharm’s application for an EUA that was filed on Monday afternoon.

“Mag-aantay po si president ng EUA dahil nabalita ko nga kahapon, mayroon na pong nag-apply ng EUA for the Sinopharm,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Securing an EUA from the FDA is part of the process for a vaccine to be legally used in the country.

The FDA earlier approved a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for the members of the Presidential Security Group.

The agency, however, clarified that the issuance of such a permit is not tantamount to a stamp of approval.

Duterte earlier expressed a preference for Sinopharm developed COVID-19 vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Sinopharm files for EUA in PH — Roque

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday (March 1) confirmed that China’s Sinopharm has already filed for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque at a press briefing.

“They have already filed with the fda an application for eua for sinopharm vaccine, nai-file na po,” he said during the kick off vaccination event in UP-PGH.

The Sinopharm vaccine has been controversial as it was the brand injected to members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) last year despite lack of proper authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is also the brand that is preferred by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

However, FDA Director General Dr. Eric Domingo in Laging Handa public briefing on PTV earlier today said he has not seen an application as of Friday.  He is also not sure if the application was filed online.

“As of last Friday po, wala pa naman akong nabalitaan na natanggap kami na EUA application from Sinopharm,” Domingo said.

“Hindi ko alam kung nag-apply sila online over the weekend pero wala pa pong sinasabi sa akin,” he added.

Should the EUA application be received, the FDA will have a long process of reviewing it similar to Sinovac;s CoronaVac vaccine.

Specifically, it will take more than 21 days or more likely from four to six weeks because Sinopharm has not received any EUA from much stringent regulatory authorities such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the World Health Organization.

At present, only three vaccines are FDA-approved for emergency use in the Philippines.

These are COVID-19 vaccines fro, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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