MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday said it will soon start with its inoculation drive once the donated Sinovac Biotech coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines are delivered.

DND to kick off COVID-19 vaccination program when Sinovac doses arrive

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MANILA – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday said it will soon start with its inoculation drive once the donated Sinovac Biotech coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines are delivered.

The vaccines were donated to the DND by China through Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, according to Defense spokesperson Arsenio Arsenio Andolong in a statement.

“With the emergency use authorization (EUA) granted to Sinovac Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, the DND is set to begin its inoculation drive for its employees upon the delivery of the 100,000 doses,” he said.

Andolong said the vaccines will be administered to all employees and military personnel assigned to the DND and its civilian bureaus, namely: the Office of Civil Defense, Government Arsenal, National Defense College of the Philippines, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, as well as the civilian employees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Family members of DND employees are also eligible to receive the vaccines.

“The intent is to vaccinate everyone who is in the same working environment and those living in the same households as our employees. It is crucial that all must be vaccinated to allow us to create a ‘bubble’ of an immunized workforce,” Andolong said,

Meanwhile, he said uniformed personnel under the AFP will be inoculated under a different vaccine rollout plan.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted EUA to Sinovac Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine after a thorough review by the country’s medical and regulatory experts. (PNA)

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DOJ forms 3-man prosecution team to handle cases vs PDEA, BOC over P1B shabu shipment

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento has assigned a panel of prosecutors who will be handling the criminal complaint filed against Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva and Bureau of Customs (BOC) Rey Leonardo Guerrero over the 2019 shipment of illegal drugs hidden among tapioca starch.

Malcontento said on Friday (March 5) the panel will be composed of three prosecutors who will be conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by National Bureau of Investigation-Task Force Anti-Illegal Drugs (NBI-TFAID) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last Feb. 23.

They are Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendel Rex Gingoyon who heads the panel and Assistant State Prosecutors Mary Jane Sytat and Ethel Rea Suril.

In the complaint, the NBI-TFAID accused 21 persons including Villanueva and Guerrero of having violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Their co-respondents include former PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino and BOC Deputy Commission Raniel Ramiro.

The NBI also recommended that all 21 be administratively charged with grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

Aside from these, the NBI also accused Aquino, Guerrero and Ramiro of violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Government Officials and should also administratively charged with serious dishonesty.

The NBI also named nine persons whom it recommended to be indicted for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2012 including two persons for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

The shipment arrived in Cambodia in January 2019 and was declared as tapioca starch. But it was later was found containing 171 kilos of shabu.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson back in 2019 questioned the decision of the PDEA and BOC to auction the shipment despite getting information that it contained illegal drugs.

Lacson did not believe the claims of the PDEA and the BOC that it was a controlled delivery and accused the agencies of allowing Chinese drug lord Jacky Co, who was behind the shipment, to leave the Philippines.

Para ‘di mapagod sa pila: Precious Castelo bats for early voting for senior citizens, PWD

Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo has filed a measure to include senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to those who can cast their votes earlier than the scheduled day of election.

“It is safe to assume that the pandemic will still be here during the election period. Thus, it is important for Congress and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to take measures to help health authorities prevent the spread of COVID-19 among voters and the population in general,” said Castelo in House Bill 8756.

Castelo said senior citizens and PWDs, who are among the sectors most vulnerable to COVID-19 should be given the chance to cast their ballots without compromising their physical health and safety.

She called for expeditious action on her proposal, since the Comelec “is now in the thick of preparations for next year’s elections, which are just 14 months away, and the nation will soon be on election mode.”

Under the bill, the Comelec must schedule early voting for senior citizens and PWDs in pre-designated venues easily accessible to such voters within seven working days before the elections.

All senior citizens and PWDs who are registered voters shall qualify for early voting. However, the Comelec may undertake online pre-registration for the sole purpose of estimating the number of voters who want to avail themselves of advance voting.

Castelo said the Comelec can implement the same even to the succeeding elections.

Nasa batas ‘yan! Bernadette Herrera seeks probe on food delivery apps’ failure to give discount to senior citizens

By Billy Begas

Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera has filed House Resolution 1626 seeking congressional investigation into the failure of food delivery applications to honor the 20-percent discount granted by law to senior citizens.

Herrera pointed out that under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (Republic Act 9944) any resident citizen of the Philippines at least 60 years old is entitled to a 20-percent discount and is exempted from value-added tax on applicable goods and services for their exclusive use.

She said that Section 3(g) of RA 9944 specifically provides that “for delivery orders, the 20 percent discount shall likewise apply subject to certain conditions, i.e. senior citizen ID card number must be given while making the order over the telephone.”

“There is an increasing number of complaints from the senior citizens who could not avail of the discount mandated by law for food deliveries using applications like Food Panda and Grab, among others,” said Herrera.

Herrera urged food delivery service providers to incorporate the appropriate discounts into the account holder’s profile to allow senior citizens to avail of their discount.

“The money equivalent to the 20 percent discount of the senior citizens may be utilized for the medicine and other maintenance expenses as well as other necessities,” she added.

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