Duterte to spend 75th birthday in self-quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   March 27, 2020   •   426

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will spend his birthday is self-quarantine following confirmed cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among his officials, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Friday.

In a statement, Go said Duterte was advised by his doctor and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to go on self-quarantine in Malacañang for his protection as he oversees the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte, who is the oldest to be elected as Philippine president, is turning 75 on Saturday, March 28.

Go, who was the Duterte’s long-time aide, said the chief executive traditionally spends his birthday at home and shunned birthday parties even while he was still mayor of Davao City.

“Simula noong mayor pa ng Davao City si Pangulong Duterte, hindi siya nagse-celebrate ng birthday. Nasa bahay lang siya. This has been his tradition,” he said.

“To some extent, parang home quarantine ang ginagawa niya palagi sa bawat birthday niya,” he added.

With the COVID-19 crisis, Go said Duterte will remain in Malacañang as he needs to monitor the public health situation, especially the distribution of government assistance to sectors heavily affected by the community enhanced quarantine in Luzon.

“Isa sa kanyang mga bilin ay para sa DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] kung saan sinabi niya na dapat mabigyan ng tulong lahat ng pinaka-nangangailangan lalo na ang poorest of the poor,” he said.

“Kasama rin sa bilin ng Pangulo ay ang patuloy na pagdarasal ng taumbayan lalong lalo na para sa kapakanan ng ating mga frontliners — mga healthworkers, doctors, nurses at pati na rin ang military at kapulisan na ginagampanan ang kanilang mga tungkulin para protektahan tayong lahat,” he added.

Go revealed he has spoken twice to Duterte today through phone, and that he expressed sadness that the chief executive will be alone during his birthday.

Go, who is always seen by the president’s side, is on self-quarantine after recent exposure to a lawmaker who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Bilang ama ng bayan, ang nasa isip niya ngayon ay ang kapakanan ng bansa at hindi ang sarili niyang birthday,” he said.

“Sa aking pananaw, the President will only celebrate when we have fully conquered the Covid-19 situation,” he added.

“Ngayong kaarawan niya, nakakalungkot man na mag-isa siya, isa lang ang pakiusap niya sa mga Pilipino —  ang tanging maireregalo ninyo sa kanya ay ang sumunod sa patakaran and stay at home,” he further stated.

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

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