PH gov’t eyes military camps, public schools as COVID-19 vaccination sites

Robie de Guzman   •   February 9, 2021   •   543

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking at using public school buildings and military camps as centers for the COVID-19 mass vaccination drive expected to be rolled out this month.

In his public address on Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte said military camps and public schools would suffice if there are no available venues, especially in urban areas, that are big enough to accommodate large crowds of people.

“So we will have to take in — well, anyway, talagang kanila man ito, they are the indispensable partner of the program, ang mga local officials sila na lang ang mamili sa mga gymnasiums… Kulang talaga, then my order is to utilize the public school. Wala pa namang klase. Public school buildings, kung wala,” Duterte said.

“If there is no malaking mga coliseum o gym, then we will utilize the schools. Kung maaari lang huwag muna but I do not see any — any objectionable thing there tutal pang-injection man lang, wala naman nagkasakit,” he added.

The president has initially ordered to conduct immunizations in police stations and military installations in far-flung areas.

However, he noted that it would be a different scenario in urban areas as police stations or military installations there would not be enough to accommodate vaccine recipients.

During the meeting with the President, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said that military hospitals would definitely be used as vaccination centers.

“Magagamit din po ‘yung ano ‘yung military hospitals in terms of ‘yung inoculating the defense and military and uniformed soldiers, personnel and also their families,” Galvez said.

“So kasama po ‘yon sa mga vaccination centers na tinitingnan po ng mga LGU po natin,” he added.

Aside from using military camps, Duterte also wants police and soldiers to help maintain order and security, as well as augment forces particularly in remote sitios and barrios, during the vaccination campaign.

“…The police and the military should help discipline the — there should be in the rural areas na kulang ‘yung pulis, especially ‘yung mga sitio-sitio na, it would be nice to see the military also helping out,” he said.

Galvez assured that the state troops will play an important role in the vaccination drive, particularly by providing security in transporting the vaccines and ensuring that health protocols are being followed in vaccination centers.

Galvez also reported that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has visited 14 cities to assess the preparations at the local level.

He said local government units (LGUs) are already well-prepared in carrying out different tasks and are doing early preparations such as simulations and rehearsals for a nationwide inoculation.

“And nakita po natin talaga, kami nila (Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque, we are very satisfied dahil tuloy-tuloy po ‘yung simulation and rehearsal na ginagawa po ng ating mga Metro Manila mayors,” he said.

The government task force for COVID-19 response earlier reported that the Philippines has so far secured millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines from separate overseas suppliers and expects to receive the initial shipment this month.

Some 117,000 doses of vaccines manufactured by America’s Pfizer Inc. and arranged through the COVAX facility, will be delivered to the Philippines in the coming weeks.

DOH’s Duque gets vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III received his first dose of a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday.

Duque was inoculated around 10 a.m. with CoronaVac dose made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. Health Undersecretary Geraldo Bayugo administered the vaccine.

Duque, 64, is a senior citizen that belongs to A2 category of the government’s COVID-19 priority list.

“As I receive my dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, I invite everyone to do the same, and choose to be protected,” Duque was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the DOH.

“Let us all take part in protecting public health, and let us be in unison in spreading one message: that vaccines are safe, and vaccines are effective,” he added.

Duque also stressed that the government is doing everything it can to secure sufficient vaccine supply to cover 70 million Filipinos.

The DOH chief’s vaccination follows the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to use CoronaVac on senior citizens amid a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine supply, which is used to inoculate the elderly.

 

Duterte to skip April 24 ASEAN Leaders’ meeting in Jakarta – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will not be attending a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 24, Malacañang said Thursday.

“Ang president po, hindi personally mag-a-attend. But I’m sure that our Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be there,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a media briefing.

Roque did not say why Duterte would be skipping the meeting but the DFA said in a statement that the president “decided to remain in the country to attend to pressing domestic concerns in light of the surge of COVID-19 cases.”

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has designated Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. as his Special Envoy to the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting to be held on 24 April 2021 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia,” the DFA said.

“The Philippines strongly supported the convening of the Meeting even without the full attendance of all ASEAN Leaders,” it added.

The department said the special leaders’ meeting will “address urgent matters in the region, including recovery efforts, the situation in Myanmar, ASEAN community building efforts, external relations, and regional and international issues.”

“The President, through Secretary Locsin, will convey the Philippines’ commitment to ASEAN’s collective efforts in addressing threats and challenges to peace and stability in the region,” the DFA said.

“Secretary Locsin will also express the Philippines’ strong support to the initiative of Brunei Darussalam and the Secretary-General of ASEAN to use their good offices, in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, to visit Myanmar and spearhead ASEAN’s response to the crisis in Myanmar,” it added.

Duterte won’t compromise on quarantine protocols for returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not comfortable with relaxing quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

During Wednesday’s (April 21) public address, the President noted that less stringent measures could compromise the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

“I’m not quite comfortable with the relaxation that’s being brought now,” he said.

“I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon. ‘Yung ibang sakit siguro, pwede pa – iyong mga rabies. Pero ito, talagang … as I have said, dapo rito, dapo roon,” he added.

The meeting which included health experts was in response to the appeal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for an immediate swab test on OFWs upon arrival and a shortening of the quarantine period or their stay in hotels or isolation facilities.

“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana, na kung maaari, ay we go back to the original protocol noon na pagdating ng ating OFWs, swab kaagad sila,” Bello said.

The medical experts recommended a review of the testing protocol but insisted that the implementation of strict quarantine measures is still best to be strictly enforced at this time.

“The [Technical Advisory Group] had some preliminary discussions po regarding the current issue, and we were thinking that based on the data that we have right now, it’s a better option to review the testing protocol,” said DOH-TAG member Dr. Anna Ong-Lim.

“We recommend that it be done at a later time, but the critical intervention should really be that quarantine should be strictly enforced,” she concluded.

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