Gov’t assessing damage from Mindanao quake, calls on people to remain calm

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2019   •   594

A bank building in Poblacion, Makilala, Cotabato sustains structural damage after a 6.6 earthquake hit Mindanao on October 29, 2019 |Photo by Soc Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has assured that concerned government agencies are closely monitoring the situation and assessing the damage following the magnitude 6.6 earthquake that rocked parts of Mindanao on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the national government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of Civil Defense as well as local government units, are undertaking rapid damage assessment in areas affected by the strong temblor.

“All responsible government agencies and local government units are currently undertaking rapid damage assessment and needs analysis of affected areas and communities in order to properly assess the situation and coordinate rescue and relief operations,” Panelo said in a statement.

He also urged citizens to remain calm but vigilant and to refrain from “spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people.”

“We also urge them to monitor developments through the alerts and bulletins of official government channels,” Panelo said.

The Philippine National Police, for its part, said it has mobilized its respective units to respond to calls for help, and provide necessary assistance to prevent the occurrence of crimes.

It also called on the public to stay calm to help maintain peace and order.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier reported that the earthquake, which occurred at 9:04 a.m. was tectonic in origin.

Its epicenter was located in Tulunan, Cotabato which was also hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that killed seven people last Oct. 16.

The tremor on Tuesday was also felt in nearby areas including in Davao, Zamboanga, Soccsksargen and Northern Mindanao regions.

Phivolcs said it is expecting damage and aftershocks from the quake but quelled fears it will generate tsunamis as it was an inland quake.

Malacañang admits shortcomings in not building more laboratories soon enough

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 9, 2020

Malacañang admitted the government had shortcomings in not building more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing laboratories to boost the country’s response against the pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country only began having more testing laboratories last March, adding that the country should have already boosted its testing capacity when the first COVID-19 case was reported.

Inaamin po natin na medyo naging mabagal ang proseso sa lumipas po na dalawang buwan (We admit the process has been slow in the past two months),” he said.

“If I were to look back, what could have we done better? Siguro po noong nagkaroon tayo ng unang kaso imported case ng COVID, dapat pinalawak na natin ang testing capacity natin agad (When we had the first imported case of COVID-19, we could have already boosted our testing capacity), Roque added.

The country only had one COVID-19 laboratory in January. As of July 7, licensed RT-PCR laboratories across the country have reached 78. The Palace official said the government is improving its COVID-19 testing, treatment, and contact tracing to better the response against the virus.

The Duterte Administration also called on the public, local government, and business establishments to be more responsible in following minimum health standards including social distancing, wearing face masks, and hand washing.

Roque also announced the government will further boost its targeted testing.

Bukod po sa 10 million na naorder natin at 1 million na na-deliver na PCR testing, magkakaroon ng mas malawak na targeted testing na iaanunsyo po natin sa mga darating na panahon (Aside from the 10 million we ordered and the 1 million PCR testing that has been delivered, there will be wider targeted testing which we will announce soon), he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace contradicts DOH; clarifies PH still in first wave

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 21, 2020

Malacañang on Thursday (May 21) clarified that the Philippines is still experiencing the first wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), contrary to the statement of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The Palace apologized for the confusion and worry brought by Duque’s statement and said there were varying interpretations of the data.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that the country is still in the first wave of the COVID-19 infection.

“Nagpapatuloy po ang first wave. Katunayan, nagpatuloy ito sa buwan ng Pebrero na may kaunti kasi na na-report at lumobo sa buwan ng March. Patuloy pong lumobo iyan hanggang sa buwan ng Mayo, kung saan nakikita natin ngayon na bumababa na (The first wave continues. In fact, it continued from February, with few reports, and ballooned in March. It continues to increase until May, where we can see there is a decline),” he said.

Roque also said Duque did not go through the protocol to inform President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the interpretation of the second wave.

READ: Duque: Philippines now on second wave of COVID-19 cases

However, the Palace official said the varying of opinions is not of importance and the government, including the public, should focus on how to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

“Ang importante maiwasan po ang pagbalik ng malawakang numero ng magkakasakit sa COVID-19. Nagkakaisa po ang gobyerno na gagawin ang lahat ng hakbang upang maiwasan ang second wave (What’s important is, we prevent another increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The government is united in doing everything to prevent a second wave),” Roque said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

DBM, pinahahanap ng dagdag na pondo para sa ikalawang bugso ng cash aid – Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   May 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Inatasan na ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang Department of Budget and Management (DB M) na humanap ng dagdag na pondo para sa pamamahagi ng ikalawang bugso ng government cash aid sa ilalim ng Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, inutusan na ng pangulo si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado na gumawa ng listahan ng mga ahensiyang maaaring pagkunan ng kinakailangang pondo para sa second tranche ng SAP.

Nasa 18 milyong mahihirap na pamilya sa bansa ang unang target na mabigyan ng ayuda sa ilalim ng government emergency subsidy program.

Aabot sa P205 milyon ang inilaang pondo para sa programa, batay sa nakasaad sa Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Ngunit matapos ang pamamahagi ng unang batch ng pinansiyal na ayuda, nadagdagan pa ng limang milyon ang bilang ng pamilya na humihingi ng tulong mula sa pamahalaan dahil sa matinding hirap na dinaranas sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.

Inaprubahan na ng pangulo ang dagdag na benepisyaryo ng programa kaya’t kailangan ngayon ng pamahalaan ng dagdag na pondo para tustusan ito.

“Inaatasan niya si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado, suriin niya ang mga budgetary allocations ng line agencies. Tingnan kung magkano ang pwedeng ma-realign dahil nais niya sana kung pwedeng bigyan lahat ng 23 million families ng ayuda ng 2nd tranche din,” ani Roque.

Una nang inamin ng administrasyong Duterte na paubos na ang pondo ng pamahalaan para sa COVID-19 response at hindi pa tiyak kung saan kukunin ang perang ipang-aayuda sa mga labis na naapektuhan ng krisis.

Nanawagan na rin ang pangulo sa liderato ng Kongreso na tumulong sa paghahanap ng pondo para sa mga programa ng gobyerno. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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