A Facebook page run by the Myanmar junta's "True News" information service was kicked off the platform Sunday after the tech giant accused it of inciting violence.

Facebook shuts down Myanmar army ‘True News’ page

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A Facebook page run by the Myanmar junta’s “True News” information service was kicked off the platform Sunday after the tech giant accused it of inciting violence.

Security forces in the country have steadily increased violence against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding the return of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel laureate was taken into custody along with her top political allies at the start of the month, but the new regime has insisted it took power lawfully.

It has used Facebook to claim Suu Kyi’s landslide election victory last November was tainted by voter fraud and issue stark warnings to the protest movement — which is demanding that the army relinquish power.

A spokesperson for the platform said the Tatmadaw True News Information Team page was removed for “repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm”.

The social media giant has banned hundreds of army-linked pages in recent years after being criticised for its ineffective response to malicious posts in the country.

Much of the content targeted the country’s stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, around 750,000 of whom fled into neighbouring Bangladesh after an army crackdown in 2017.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top military leaders were booted from the platform a year later, following a UN investigation that recommended they face a genocide prosecution over the violence.

The platform has also banned insurgent groups battling the military on the country’s frontiers and a hardline Buddhist monks’ group accused of inciting violence against Muslims.

Much of Myanmar has been in uproar since Suu Kyi’s ouster on February 1, with large street demonstrations seen in major cities and isolated villages alike.

Two people were killed on Saturday after security forces fired on a crowd in the central city of Mandalay.

The junta has also imposed nightly internet blackouts and banned social media platforms including Facebook in an effort to bring the protest campaign to heel.

Agence France-Presse

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Kahit Sinovac pa ‘yan! Lorenzana: Available brand is ‘best vaccine’ vs COVID-19

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said the “best vaccine” to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country is the vaccine that is now readily available.

Lorenzana was referring to the country’s first 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine donated by China and arrived in the country on board a Chinese military aircraft on Sunday.

“The best vaccine is that vaccine that is here available, kaya nga hindi ko maintindihan itong ating mga detractors nung hindi dumarating yung vaccine ay panay ang batikos sa atin, nung dumating binatikos pa rin na hindi maganda daw yung Sinovac, pero 13 bansa na po yung gumagamit ng Sinovac at wala naman silang reklamo (that is why I don’t understand why our detractors, who are always criticizing us when there is no vaccine yet, are still criticizing us when there is already a vaccine claiming Sinovac is not good but yet 13 countries are already using and they have no complaint so far),” Lorenzana said.

He made the comment as he graced the official kickoff of the immunization campaign for the DND and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel at the Victoriano Luna Medical Center (also known as V. Luna) in Quezon City Monday.

Lorezana said if 13 countries have already been using the Chinese-made Sinovac, it means the CoronaVac is “clinically” tested.

“So let us be very thankful to the Chinese government for donating this vaccine,” he said.

He also visited the vaccination rollout at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where he wanted to have himself vaccinated but was dissuaded by experts as those below 18 and above 59 years old are not advised to take the vaccine.

“We will follow the advice of our experts na hindi na tayo magpabakuna muna and hintayin natin yung angkop sa ating edad (not to have myself vaccinated for the meantime and wait for vaccine that is more appropriate for my age),” the 72-year-old DND chief said.

Lorenzana said the military front-liners will be prioritized using Sinovac’s vaccines.

The 100,000 of the 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine were donated by the Chinese Ministry of Defense to the DND.

The DND will initially inoculate 14,520 individuals using 29,040 doses. The remaining 70,960 doses will be given to the AFP. (PNA)

Tiis muna sa Sinovac: Galvez says Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in 2nd quarter of 2021

MANILA – Due to high global demand, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday said 170,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the COVAX facility may finally arrive in the country by the second quarter of this year.

The initial batch was supposed to reach the Philippines in mid-February.

“We should not expect that Pfizer ay darating sa lalong madaling panahon dahil sa nakikita natin halos lahat ng bansa ang kinukuha nila ay ‘yung (We should not expect that Pfizer vaccines will arrive as soon as most of the countries have already ordered) Pfizer and Moderna and also AstraZeneca,” Galvez, who is also the country’s vaccine czar, said during a press briefing at the Philippine General Hospital.

He also cited President Rodrigo Duterte’s recommendation to prepare a standby stockpile of at least 2 million doses of China-made CoronaVac to enable the country to lift restrictions imposed since March last year when the pandemic began.

“Once we have that stockpile and we will maintain 2 to 5 million [doses], we can now convince the President to open the economy and also have the face-to-face education,” said Galvez, noting that the President realizes the economic contraction being caused by the health crisis.

“He is also sympathizing with the mayors na sa kanya buhay muna bago ang ekonomiya (because for him, lives must be saved first before the economy),” Galvez added.

The possible lifting of restrictions may happen within the second quarter this year, he said.

Galvez said once the government-procured AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, including the 6.5 million doses from the COVAX facility, arrive in May, the country’s stockpile may reach more or less 10 million doses, allowing the economy to gradually open and recover.

Road to normalcy

“Once we are able to gather enough volumes this year, we see that by mid-2022 we may sharply recover,” he said.

The vaccination campaign and ongoing negotiations for the procurement of additional doses will also contribute to the country’s recovery, he added.

The country will receive some 5.1 million doses of CoronaVac within the first quarter, intended for the inoculation of healthcare workers and other essential government front-liners. (PNA)

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