Magalong resigns as Contact Tracing Czar but NTF says ‘no’

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2021   •   470

MANILA, Philippines — Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong submitted his resignation as the country’s Contact Tracing Czar after his attendance in a party organized by entertainment personality Tim Yap drew flak for violating some health safety protocols.

Among those seen to have violated the government health restrictions was Magalong’s wife.

In his resignation letter addressed to NTF Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Magalong admitted to having failed the government for not immediately acting on the violations on the night of the event.

“In hindsight, being a senior officer of the Task Force, I should have done an immediate spot correction of the errors that I witnessed during that time,” he explained.

With this, the Mayor accepted the blame and said he is willing to support should the NTF or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) conduct an investigation on the incident.

“It pains me to see my family, and my constituents, in anguish over this but I am committed to hold myself accountable and do what is necessary to rectify this misstep.” Magalong said.

His colleagues in the NTF were saddened by Magalong’s sudden decision.

According to Galvez, Magalong’s exit will hugely impact the operations of the NTF.

“Malaking kawalan po sa amin iyon kasi po, 4 po ang haligi po ng ating PDITR, at isa po talaga ang contact tracing lalo na po ngayon sa mga adverse event,” Galvez explained.

“Kaliangan po ang syndromic surveillance at contact tracing and we can vouch for his honor and integrity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the Task Force is not accepting Magalong’s resignation. 

“Mayor Magalong’s resignation, however, has not been accepted. He continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the leadership of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19,” he said.

For the part of the Department of Health (DOH), Magalong should remain in his position.

“He has helped the contact tracing efforts of the country a lot. Actually yung ating pakikipagtulungan kay Mayor Magalong is on that level na pagka kailangan talaga is tumatawag tayo sa kanya kasi he can really assist us,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“We know that the President has that trust and the DOH also trusts Mayor Magalong and we also believe that he should remain in that position,” she added.

The NTF appeals to the public for understanding to give Magalong another chance given his contribution to the country’s COVID-19 response. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Former NTF advisor urges Duque to resign amid DOH corruption issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Former National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 member Dr. Tony Leachon has urged Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III to resign amid the corruption allegations against the department.

Leachon said as long as Duque remains as health secretary, the country’s COVID-19 response will not be effective.

The former NTF adviser also warned that the number of COVID-19 cases might worsen if there are no changes in free testing and contact testing.

Leachon estimated that COVID-19 cases will reach 3.5 million by the end of the year if responses will not improve and the country will not procure vaccines that will be highly effective against the Delta variant. He also added that the effectiveness of Sinovac vaccines will wane in six months.

Dapat omorder tayo ng bakuna pwede sa Delta variant. 54 percent ng vaccine natin puro Sinovac, pero according to our vaccine expert panel humihina ang effect ng Sinovac after six months so kailangan magbago tayo strategy (We should order vaccines that is effective against the Delta variant. 54% of our vaccines are Sinovac, but according to our vaccine expert panel, the effect wanes after six months. So we need to change strategy),” he said.

He called on President Rodrigo Duterte to think of an urgent plan to curb the cases or the country might become the Southeast Asia (SEA) epicenter of COVID-19 cases. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Philippines receives fresh batch of 15,000 Sputnik V doses

Marje Pelayo   •   September 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 15,000 doses of Sputnik V Component 2 COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the country on Tuesday evening (August 31).

This fresh supply of the Russian vaccine will be used as second doses.

The shipment is part of the 25 million doses of COVID vaccines the Philippines is expecting to receive this month of September.

According to National Task Force (NTF) against COVID 19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, the supply for this month will be composed of:

12 million doses of Sinovac;
5 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech;
2 million doses of Moderna;
1 million doses of Astrazeneca;
1 million doses of Sputnik Light;
3 million doses from the COVAX facility; and
1 million doses to be donated by a bilateral partner.

Based on the NTF’s report, the country has administered a total of 33,306,355 doses of COVID vaccines nationwide as of August 30.

Of this number, 19.4 million doses were given as the first shot, while over 13.8 million individuals have received the second dose and are now fully-vaccinated.

PH gov’t targets to record 400-k COVID-19 vaccinations daily

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government targets to vaccinate around 400,000 individuals daily, according to National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

Galvez reported that on Tuesday (July 13), the highest daily vaccination was recorded at 375,000. With the expected arrival of more vaccines, he is hopeful that the government will reach the 400,000-mark of daily vaccination.

“Ang aking report kay Presidente na ibi-bridge natin ang 300,000 to 400,000 mark gusto ko pong ibalita ngayon na ang magandang balita na na-bridge na natin ang pinaka-highest day jab 375,000 po tayo,” Galvez said.

(My report to the President is we will bridge the 300,000 to 400,000-mark and we are happy to report that we have reached the highest day jab at 375,000.)

He also announced that 1 million Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the country on Wednesday (July 14) which will immediately be distributed to priority areas, including Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.

According to the NTF against COVID-19, a total of 21,779,910 COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government also targets to vaccinate over 77 million. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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