Malacañang: No risk in POGO hubs near military camps

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019   •   1347

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang believes there is nothing wrong with the location of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hubs near military camps following concerns about its possible risk to national security.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Chinese-dominated POGO hubs’ will be better protected if these are near military installations.

“Military camps? Eh di lalong magaling kung military camps dahil binabantayan sila ng military for their protection,” he told reporters in an interview.

However, Panelo said he would defer to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperson to assess any security issue being posed by foreign operated online gaming operations.

“The Palace will always defer to the National Security Adviser on matters of security in the country,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for his part, said that providing protection to POGO hubs by the military is a “very valid suggestion,” but this is not part of their mandate.

However, he assured they are ready to help when their assistance is requested.

“That’s a very valid suggestion. But it is not the job of the military to watch or protect the POGO workers,” Lorenzana said.

“That is the job of the Bureau of Immigration, Police, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. If our assistance is requested, we will assist,” he added.

Esperon has yet to issue any comment on the issue as of this posting.

Several lawmakers earlier raised a concern about Chinese-dominated POGO hubs near military camps and other vital installations, saying these pose risk to the country’s security.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) earlier defended its decision to situate POGO hubs and its foreign workers in areas near military camps for their security and rights protection.

Pagcor chairperson and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo said hubs for online casinos and self-contained communities were mainly created to provide basic needs and ensure the safety of foreign workers employed in POGO hubs. She added that POGO workers are free to go wherever they want to.

Domingo’s statement came after the Embassy of China in the Philippines raised concern over the creation of self-contained communities as this might violate Chinese workers’ liberties.

“So, if their liberties are not restricted and according to them, ginagawa nga nila iyon to protect them, so, kung ganoon naman ang essence noong paglagay sa kanilang lugar, I don’t think that will be a violation,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to visit areas affected by ‘Auring’—Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte is set to visit areas affected by the onslaught of tropical depression Auring, Malacañang announced on Tuesday (February 23).

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles in an online briefing said the President wants to see firsthand the damage wrought by Auring and the situation of displaced residents. Duterte will visit the affected areas in the Caraga region accompanied by several members of the Cabinet.

Nograles reported that financial aid has already been given to the residents. He further assured that additional relief assistance will also be provided.

As of February 22, the number of families affected by Auring has reached 28,009. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Gov’t details priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Malacañang has released the government’s list of priority groups for its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

The Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG) adopted the priority population groups which include medical front liners on the top of the list, followed by senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.

A1: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.
A2: Senior citizens aged 60 years old and above
A3: Persons with comorbidities not otherwise included in the preceding categories
A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ
A5: Indigent population not otherwise included in the preceding categories
B1: Teachers, Social Workers
B2: Other Government Workers
B3: Other essential workers
B4: Socio-demographic groups at significantly higher risk other than senior citizens and indigenous people
B5: Overseas Filipino Workers
B6: Other Remaining Workforce
C: Rest of the Filipino population not otherwise included in the above groups

For the first tranche of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for healthcare workers will also be distributed to a) COVID-19 dedicated hospitals, b) COVID-19 referral hospitals, c) Department of Health-owned hospitals, d) Local government unit hospitals, e) Hospitals for uniformed services/personnel, and f) Private hospitals. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace reiterates country not lagging in vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday (February 1) said the country is not lagging in the vaccination program for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said only a few individuals have been vaccinated in other Asian countries including Singapore, India, and Indonesia.

Hindi po tayo nangongolelat, kung magsisimula po tayong magbakuna ng Pebrero, halos kasabay po natin ang halos lahat ng karatig-bansa natin. Huwag po tayong magpapaloko sa mga kritikong iyan, wala matinong magawa (We are not lagging behind. If we are to begin vaccination in February, our schedule is almost aligned with our neighboring countries. Let us not be fooled by critics), he said.

Roque also responded to Vice President Leni Robredo’s call to stop the propaganda and focus on COVID-19 response and recovery.

Based on Australian Think Tank Lowly Institute, the country ranks 79th out of the 98 countries when it comes to COVID-19 response.

World Health Organization po ang nagsabi kung nasaan na tayo sa aitng COVID-19 response at ito po ang katotohanan. Bakit namin paniniwalaan ang ibang pag-aaral samantalang lahat tayo ay nagtitiwala sa World Health Organization (The World Health Organization reports where we are on the COVID-19 response and that is the truth. Why would we believe other studies when all of us trusts the World Health Organization), Roque said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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