Villanueva hopes Duterte SONA will tackle massive job creation for workers displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 20, 2020   •   712

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday expressed his hope that President Rodrigo Duterte will discuss in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) the plan of the government in generating jobs for millions of Filipinos who were displaced by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as the country continues to fight its spread.

In a statement, Villanueva said that with a record-high unemployment rate of 17.7% or equivalent to 7.3 million based on the April 2020 labor force survey, the president’s address should serve as a guidepost for all agencies to create and implement policies that would lead to the restart of the economy.

It should also pave the way for the smooth reintegration of overseas Filipino workers to the domestic labor force and provide green lanes for Filipino seafarers for the global supply chain, he added.

Duterte is set to deliver his fifth SONA next Monday, July 27.

“Mahalaga po na matalakay ang plano ng ating gobyerno kung paano tutugunan ang problema sa kawalan ng trabaho ngayong pandemya. Habang wala pang bakuna laban sa COVID-19, tuloy pa rin po dapat ang buhay at kailangan maging handa ang bawat isa sa atin na mag-adjust sa new normal,” he said.

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development, also called on the government to mount epidemiological monitoring and surveillance in places where is high economic activity such as Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Cebu.

“With epidemiological monitoring, we will be able to track how the disease is spreading and take appropriate measures to contain and stem it to prevent the healthy population from getting infected,” he added.

Villanueva said he shared the observation of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III who sought the reopening of the said economies in Metro Manila and Region 4A, explaining that about 2/3 of the country’s Gross Domestic Product was generated there.

But Villanueva reiterated that business confidence right now is directly tied to the government’s ability to manage the pandemic well.

“We need to boost the confidence of our businesses to resume their operations and of our workers to come back to work, that is why our government has to step up in preventing the disease from spreading,” he said.

The government should also ensure that repatriated OFWs who lost their jobs abroad are provided enough assistance to start anew, the lawmaker said.

Villanueva cited a report from Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III stating that OFW remittances could drop by up to 40 percent or about US$12 billion this year as a result of massive job losses overseas. In 2019, the central bank reported that OFW remittances reached US$30.13 billion.

Aside from employment generation, the President’s address should also provide concrete measures to ensure the continuity of learning for all learners in the new normal, Villanueva said.

As of July 19, the health department reported that 67,456 persons have been infected with COVID-19, with 43,160 cases listed as active. Recoveries also rose to 22,465 while the death toll is at 1,831.

Filipinos are allowed to get vaccinated anywhere in PH — DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos can get inoculated against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) anywhere in the country under the government’s “no wrong door policy” in its vaccination drive, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

 “Meron ho tayong tinatawag na no wrong door policy. Ibig sabihin, kung ikaw ay nagpunta sa Davao at ikaw ay puwede nang bakunahan, puwede ka bakunahan doon kahit hindi ka taga-Davao,” Health Undersecretary Mari Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“Hindi po natin sinasara ang ating mga pinto sa mga bakunahan dahil hindi ka taga doon na lugar,” she added.

The health official, however, stressed that the vaccination should be done through appointments and that walk-ins should be discouraged as this tends to result in crowding.

The DOH previously said that local government units may open separate walk-in lanes in their COVID-19 vaccination centers as walk-ins may be used as substitutes for those who are scheduled for inoculation but do no show up on a certain date.

The agency, however, said that the number of walk-ins that would be accommodated per day in jab sites should be limited.

The DOH earlier urged the public to pre-register for the vaccination and get inoculated when it’s their turn.

DOH says surge in COVID-19 cases in Visayas, Mindanao due to ‘multitude of factors’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The rise in COVID-19 cases in the Visayas and Mindanao areas could be attributed to a “multitude of factors,” the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.

In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have noted some factors that have contributed to the spike in infections in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, including the complacency in enforcing and observing health protocols.

The DOH also observed the clustering of infections in workplaces and prisons in the said areas.

“Lagi po nating sinasabi na pag may tumataas po na kaso sa bawat lugar, we need to look at a multitude of factors because we know that there are these different factors which causes the transmission of the virus,” Vergeire said.

“Meron tayong pang-indibidwal at pang-komunidad na pagpapatupad po natin ng minimum health protocols at ‘pag tiningnan natin there are reports already coming to us from our different regional epidemiological and surveillance units na talagang mukhang nagkaroon ng complacency sa pagpapatupad ng health protocols,” she added.

Vergeire said the presence of coronavirus variants in some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao may also have contributed to the surge.

“Totoo po na meron na tayong na-detect na variants sa iba’t ibang lugar dito sa Visayas and Mindanao and these can also be drivers of the infection but let us not just rely or let us not just say that it’s just because of the variants, there are a multitude of factors,” she said.

“Kailangan po kapag tayo ay tumitingin sa response natin, it’s a continuum. So we will need to address, not just the variants, but also the other forms of response that we are having,” she added.

Data from the DOH showed that active COVID-19 cases in the Visayas stood at 13,313, and 14,426 in Mindanao as of June 20.

The DOH reiterated its call to the public to continue adhering to health protocols mandated by the government to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

DOH: Over 2.1 million persons in PH now fully vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 2,153,942 people have completed their COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday.

Based on the vaccine statistics released by the government, a total of 8,407,342 doses have already been administered in the country as of June 20. Of this figure, 6,253,400 have received their first dose.

The agency said that in the A1 or first priority group, a total of 1,569,561 have received their first shot while 1,067,630 have completed 2 doses.

In the A2 or the second priority group, a total of 2,001,758 were given the first dose. On the other hand, 553,527 received their second dose.

In the A3 sector, 2,088,000 received their first jab while 524,699 were fully vaccinated.

In the A4 group, 526,896 got their first jab and 8,086 received their second dose.

Around 67,185 persons under the A5 group were given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The DOH also said that the total COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the 16th week of the national vaccination reached a record high of 1,461,666 doses.

It also noted that the average daily administered doses in the last seven days were 208,809.

“The government is urging eligible populations belonging to priority groups A1 to A5 to register with their local government units, get vaccinated, and complete the required number of doses as scheduled,” the DOH said.

“Regardless of vaccination status, everyone is urged to continue practicing the minimum public health standards as you may still get infected with COVID-19 and infect other people,” it added.

The national government is eyeing to vaccinate up to 70 million people this year to attain population protection against COVID-19.

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