Duterte wants Duque to stay as Health chief – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2020   •   409

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III to stay in his post, Malacañang said Thursday (April 16) after senators called for his resignation amid the country’s fight against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The President has made a decision for Health Secretary Duque to stay put,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, at least 14 senators signed a resolution calling on the health chief to step down due to “failure of leadership” and dismal handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Medialdea said the president has expressed appreciation for the lawmakers’ gesture in giving him the opportunity “to weigh his options on the performance of his Secretary of Health.”

He also said that Duque was made aware of the sentiments of the senators.

“The President expects him to work even harder to set aside any doubts on his capacity and sincerity to serve the public during these difficult times,” Medialdea said.

In a separate statement, Duque said he will answer the issue in due time.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that a Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the president.

“Every Cabinet member serves at the pleasure of the president and habang di sila tinatanggal, the president continues to have full trust and confidence in them,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte on reopening the economy: ‘We cannot afford to gamble’

Marje Pelayo   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The country is not yet ready to fully reopen its economy, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Chief Executive said the government is doing the process gradually, otherwise the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections would spike that could lead to a bigger problem.

He said he cannot follow the example of other countries because the Philippines does not have as much resources if the situation gets worse.

“Tayong pobre we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. Mahirap tayo. Hindi tayo puwedeng sumugal (As a poor country, we cannot afford really a total epidemic or pandemonium. We are poor. We cannot afford to gamble),” the President said during his public address on Tuesday evening (July 7).

President Duterte cited situations in the United States and Brazil where despite being powerful and wealthy, are not spared from the impact of the pandemic.

“Although they opened their economy for money to come into the government coffers, there was a spike. They were having a problem of almost a relapse — in the totality of the number,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President expressed doubts that the country has entered the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

“Now we do not even know if the number of 34, 178 of active cases is still a part of the first wave or have we arrived at the second wave. I don’t think so. We are still grappling with the first wave,” he argued.

He urged Filipinos to obey strict health protocols and have more patience as the government works to combat the pandemic.

Mga kababayan ko, ako mismo gusto ko nang lumabas. Ayoko nang magpapigil. Kung gusto ko nga makipag-away na ako. Ang problema iyon ang gusto ko, pero ang gusto ko ay hindi makakabuti sa ating lahat,” he said.

(My fellow countrymen, I personally I want to go out. I don’t want to be barred from doing so. I am even ready to fight over this. The problem is, what I want is not good for everyone.)

“We have to be very circumspect in reopening the economy. Dahan-dahan lang (Let’s do it gradually), because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***. Talagang mahirapan tayo (We will seriously struggle),” he said. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

New York City schools to reopen with in-class, remote learning, mayor says

UNTV News   •   July 9, 2020

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday (July 8) unveiled a plan for reopening the country’s largest school system in September with a “blended learning” schedule that would have students alternating between classrooms and their homes.

“So many New Yorkers desperately need to get back to work. For a lot of people, that means they have to get back to a workplace and they need to know that their kids will be safe and secure, getting a chance to be educated much more deeply,” de Blasio told reporters during news conference.

De Blasio said the city’s rate of positive COVID-19 tests was at 1%, the lowest level it has reached since the coronavirus epidemic began. (Reuters)

(Production: Catherine Koppel)

Pampanga to return to ECQ if spike in COVID-19 cases continues, governor warns

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 8, 2020

Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda warned of reverting the province to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise.

“Tumaas po ang mga kaso natin. I have no choice kung hindi ibalik sa GCQ ito o ECQ kung aabot tayo sa worst situation (Cases in our province increased. I have no choice but to revert to GCQ or ECQ if the situation worsens),” he said.

After the province was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on June 15, new COVID-19 cases went up by 25. As of July 7, according to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there are 166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Pampanga, with 100 recoveries and 16 deaths.

Only Arayat and Masantol, Pampanga remain COVID-19-free, the Pampanga governor said. He reminds residents to only leave the house if necessary.

“Hindi po sinasabi ng MGCQ na libre kayo na makipagkwentuhan sa ibang lugar (Just because it’s MGCQ, it doesn’t mean you are free to meet up in other places),” he said.

Barangay Capalangan and Sulipan in Apalit are currently under hard lockdown until July 16 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. AAC (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

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