Senators Franklin Drilon and Sherwin Gatchalian favor extending the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until April 30 to give the government more time to assess if its efforts in controlling the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

1 month ain’t enough: Drilon, Win Gatchalian support extending Luzon-wide quarantine until April 30

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Senators Franklin Drilon and Sherwin Gatchalian favor extending the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until April 30 to give the government more time to assess if its efforts in controlling the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a statement Friday (April 3), Drilon said effects of the enhanced community quarantine have only started to show three weeks after its declaration on March 15.

“I see some data that shows it is effective. But too early to tell. An extra two weeks would help,” he said.

Gatchalian, meanwhile, based his support for the two-week extension on the government’s announcement that mass testing for COVID-19 will start on April 14.

“Mass testing of PUMs (persons under monitoring) and PUIs (persons under investigation) is the only way to determine if we are winning the war or not. Without mass testing, we are totally blind. And when we are blind, the risk is higher of spreading the virus again, thereby wasting the 30-day ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),” he said.

Drilon said the government could consider relaxing the ECQ by May, though travel to and from Luzon, as well as mass gatherings will still be prohibited.

But during those two weeks, ensure food supply and movement of essential goods and services.

“What is essential is more jobs and livelihood as well as access to food and supplies. Hence, open to more manufacturing (esp food, but also non food and supply chain) and critical construction (power plants, infrastructure but not Paolo’s house). This way, more people have income,” he said.

Drilon said retail and consumer services, as well as markets, could resume operations by June. He said there could be also be partial operations of public transportation, though jeepneys and buses will still be banned due to the protocol on observing social distancing.

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to announce whether the ECQ will be lifted by April 14 or extended.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has reached 3,018, with 136 deaths.

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Konting hintay na lang: 13M doses of Moderna vaccines arriving in PH in Q3

Moderna, Inc. announced on Sunday it has signed a supply agreement with the Philippines for 13 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that will arrive by the third quarter of this year.

The Philippine government and private sector are also working out a deal for an additional 7 million doses.

“We thank the government and the private sector for their collaboration to bring the Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna to the Philippines,” Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, said in a statement.

“We appreciate the confidence in Moderna and our mRNA platform demonstrated by the Government of the Philippines. We remain committed to making our vaccine available on every continent to help end this global pandemic.”

National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also said in an interview on Sunday that the government is waiting for the final draft of the multilateral supply agreement with Moderna.

“Kasi dalawa po ang agreement natin with Moderna. ‘Yung bilateral agreement na 13 million at saka yung 7 million (We are finalizing two agreements with Moderna firm. One is the bilateral agreement for the 13 million doses and the other one is 7 million doses) for the tripartite or multilateral agreement,” he said.

Under the deal, the government is expecting the delivery of the Moderna vaccines by the third quarter of the year.

On Sunday night, 38,400 doses of the AstraZeneca jabs will arrive after the initial delivery of 487,200.

Sinovac, following a donation of 600,000 doses, will have 1.4 million more to be delivered on March 21. Of the total, 400,000 doses were donated by China.

“Sa ngayon po ang ating Emergency Use Authorization na nakabinbin pa lang po ngayon is yung sa Bharat atsaka po yung sa Gamaleya. ‘Yung others, they are already submitting in, nagkakaroon ng tinatawag natin na parallel negotiation (So far, only the Bharat and Gamaleya companies have pending applications for EUA. The others are already submitting their applications, while the parallel negotiation is ongoing),” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization has issued interim recommendations for use of the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine against Covid-19 for those aged 18 years and older.

The Moderna vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy of approximately 92 percent against Covid-19, starting from 14 days after the first dose, according to WHO.

“Based on the evidence so far, the new variants of SARS-CoV-2, including the B.1.1.7 and the 501Y.V2, do not alter the effectiveness of the Moderna mRNA vaccine,” the WHO posted on its website. (PNA)

Lokohin nyo lelong niyo! Netizens slam Sal Panelo for latest gimmick

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte’s lawyer, Salvador Panelo, rode a jeepney Sunday morning to see firsthand how health safety protocols are implemented on public transport.

Photos allegedly taken by a commuter also showed Panelo at Agora Public Market in San Juan City.

Netizens, however, were quick to speculate that Panelo’s commuting stunt was staged.

“Stalker yung commuter? And that didn’t raise any alarm bells? Lokohin nyo lelong niyo, for all we know, the jeepney was rented and the other passengers are members of his household,” according to a tweet from @AustriaCanada.

@notinherent said: “Aga manganpanya ah. Daming time. Umabot pa sila ng San Juan eh may market naman sa Marikina.”

@mxrknoble also tweeted: “Same ata sila ng pupuntahan ng ;another commuter’ sabay na sila namalengke.”

A netizen also criticized the abogado for wearing the wrong face shield, a protective equipment that gives an individual additional protection against coronavirus disease.

“Yung face shield niya yung type na di covered yung mouth area and usually di pinapayagan papasukin sa malls – para sa mga karaniwang tao. Iba sya e! Tsk,” @StWasabi wrote.

@fly1ngstar, on one hand, praised Panelo for taking public transportation to the public market.

“Ok namn ginawa ni Sir Panelo. Mas magaan din sa pakiramdam kung subukan niyo ganyan lifestyle. Minsan sa isang linggo mamalengke at sumakay sa jeep at ‘wag puro utos sa ksambahay at palagi magarang sasakyan! Normal daily routine sa simple mamayan.”

In 2019, Panelo, who insisted that there was no mass transport crisis in Metro Manila, took four jeepneys and rode pillion after militant groups challenged him to commute from his home in Marikina to Malacañang.

Sinong sinungaling? Defensor says Yap has no Palace consent over P20B cut in military pension

Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor has refuted the claim of House Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap that he secured the blessing of Malacañang before initiating the realignment of close to P20-billion worth of gratuity and pension funds of the country’s retired military and uniform personnel.

During Defensor’s privilege speech last Monday, the former Presidential chief-of-staff disapproved Yap’s pronouncement that he consulted the Executive branch as well as with members of the Senate and the Lower House before he re-channel the said funds to other government programs for COVID-19 response.

Yap earlier during his interpellation of Defensor’s privilege speech claimed that he secured the blessing of the Executive prior to the third reading approval of the 2021 national budget last October.

“Eto pong sinasabing P20 billion na tinanggal sa pension, eto po ay pinag-usapan ng Executive, ng Senate, at ng Kongreso. Yung P20-billion na iyon, ay hindi po inilagay sa Department of Public Works and Highways. It po ay inilagay para po sa ibang pangangailangan para sa COVID-19,” said Yap.

But Defensor was quick to refute Yap’s pronouncement, as he disclosed a latest statement coming from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which said that “upon submission of the national executive program to Congress, P172.9-billion was proposed under the Pension Gratuity Fund.”

The DBM under the submitted 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) has proposed P172.9 billion for the pension and gratuity fund but Congress only approved P152 billion, prior to President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the ratified budget bill in January.

“Ang tanong po dito is, was this discussed? Kasi po ito po ang binabanggit with the Executive, the Senate, and Congress? I beg to disagree, Madam Speaker,” Defensor stressed.

According to Defensor, he recently talked with top DBM officials, adding that “they were surprised after that P20 billion was taken out.”

He further elaborated that if the matter will necessitate future investigations, it would be found out that the P20-billion budget cut was opposed by the executive contrary to Yap’s claim.

Yap later during his interpellation has admitted that he bypassed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco over the multi-billion realignment, saying that he has no choice but to unilaterally realigned portions of the military pension fund, since it may only prolong the process if he consulted the matter with other members of the House leadership.

“Hindi ko po tinanong kay Speaker Velasco kung pwede po bang tanggalin ito. Ako po ay nag desisyon base sa tingin ko kung ano ang makakabuti para sambayanan. Ngayon po, siguro kung na-bypass ko man si Speaker Velasco, pero I’m sure kaya ko ginawa ‘to para po sa ikabubuti. Dahil kulang na rin po ang oras,” said Yap.

According to Yap, he unilaterally bypassed Velasco—who assumed the Speakership during the final phase of deliberations of the 2021 NEP in October—since only wanted to avert any delay which may have resulted in another reenacted budget scenario.

Last December, Yap was among the nine incumbent lawmakers tagged by President Duterte who were allegedly involved in corruption in the implementation of infrastructure projects, based on a list provided by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). (CRD)

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