In a bid to build higher vaccine confidence among Filipinos, Senator Bong Go on Friday called for cooperation and collaboration to resolve issues in acquiring sufficient, safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.

Go threatens peddlers of Covid-19 misinformation: ‘Face jail or death penalty’

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In a bid to build higher vaccine confidence among Filipinos, Senator Bong Go on Friday called for cooperation and collaboration to resolve issues in acquiring sufficient, safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.

“Let me emphasize, we are all part of the solution to this public health issue. Therefore, we must (all) share the responsibility if we want to recover from this pandemic,” he said in his manifestation during Friday’s Senate committee of the whole heariing.

He also warned those who take advantage of others in these challenging times that they should be part of the solution instead.

“Wala pong pinipili ang pandemyang ito. Kakaikot ko po, napapansin ko po sa publiko — dapat kunin natin ang kumpiyansa ng taumbayan,” Go said.

“Lahat tayo, apektado nito, lalaki man o babae, bata man o matanda, mayaman man o mahirap, anumang relihiyon, anuman ang inyong pulitika, saan ka man sa Pilipinas, talagang tinamaan po tayo sa pandemyang ito,” he added.

“’Yung mga nangsasamantala dyan habang naghihirap na nga ang kapwa nating Pilipino, dapat kayo unang ma-inject,” he warned.

Go emphasized that he is open to introducing measures that would further penalize individuals who spread misinformation and take advantage of the vulnerabilities of Filipinos amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Kung walang katapusan ang pagdududa, as legislators, why don’t we legislate a law against those who are taking advantage of the situation, especially now that we are in a pandemic,” he said.

Citing the delicacy of the matter where lives are at stake, Go stressed that individuals who take advantage of fellow Filipinos or spread fear through misinformation must be penalized with the full extent of the law as he renews his push to reimpose the death penalty.

“Ikulong o isama sa death penalty – mauna sila na ma-injection — (through) lethal injection. This is a very delicate subject matter, in fairness to all those working hard, such as Sec. Galvez and Sec. Duque who are working 24/7 and are even willing to vaccinate themselves to allay fears,” he added.

The death penalty has been abolished in the Philippines though there are attempts to revive it in Congress.

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Facebook derails effort to mislead protesters in Russia

Facebook on Wednesday said it derailed a deceptive campaign to use hundreds of bogus Instagram accounts to mislead people in Russia protesting the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.

The network off Instagram accounts used hashtag and location “poisoning” typically associated with spam or financial scams to drown out posts by protesters, according to Facebook global threat disruption lead David Agranovich.

The tactic involves coopting hashtags being used as social media markers for hot topics, in this case protests, by unleashing torrents of posts bearing the labels.

“If you have a hashtag that an activist movement is using to organize itself and you fill it with random, unrelated content, you make it less effective,” Agranovich said.

“Also, we saw them trying to fill it actually with content that might suppress people or convince people not to protest.”

Some of the location tags were places where protesters planned to gather in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Facebook said.

Accounts in the network used celebrity photos or profile photos evidently generated automatically by software, and posts included claims protests were being criticized by a TikTok star and that lots of children were attending rallies, the report detailed.

Facebook declined to speculate on the origin of the campaign.

But it said those orchestrating the campaign relied on recently created accounts to post “large volumes of irrelevant or critical content with particular hashtags and location tags to drown out relevant information and redirect the conversation.”.

Some of the Instagram posts suggested people got Covid-19 and died as a result of attending protests, according to samples provided by Facebook, which owns the image-centric service.

The bogus network also “poisoned” hashtags with ads for women’s clothing or handbags, Facebook reported.

The US-based social network said its automated systems detected and disabled 530 Instagram accounts being used in the campaign.

Facebook reported that 55,000 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.

The deceptive activity was traced only to “individuals operating within Russia,” according to Agranovich.

Navalny used Instagram on Wednesday to quip that “everything is fine” and make jokes about prison life in his first message from a detention center outside Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic said he was being held in the Kolchugino detention center in the Vladimir region northeast of Moscow.

Navalny was sentenced last month to two and a half years in a penal colony for breaching parole terms while in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack.

Agence France-Presse

Some New York theaters allowed to reopen in April

With NBA games back in Madison Square Garden and certain movie theaters reopening at the end of the week, New York could soon celebrate the resumption of the performing arts — the governor announced Wednesday that theaters could reopen at limited capacity from April 2.

Performance halls in the US cultural capital, closed since March 12, could reopen at 33 percent capacity, or 100 people maximum, with mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a press conference.

Outdoors, shows will be able to seat up to 200 people.

Thresholds will be raised for theaters that are able to test spectators beforehand, to 150 people indoors or 500 people outdoors.

With such capacity limits, major Broadway productions such as “Frozen” or “The Lion King” “are not able to return just yet,” Broadway spokeswoman Martine Sainvil told AFP, without specifying when such shows might be able to resume.

But “we’re glad that arts venues, including select Broadway theatres, will be able to open their doors and give the public a taste of what we’ve all been missing so much through these dark months,” she added.

Certain famous theaters, such as the Apollo Theater in Harlem or the massive Park Avenue Armory hall on the Upper East Side, could also seize the opportunity.

The announcement of a green light — with conditions — comes as the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations is dropping in the state of New York and other US states, against the backdrop of an accelerated vaccination campaign and the arrival of a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson.

Although some states have started to lift coronavirus restrictions, such as Texas, whose governor announced Tuesday that he was ending obligatory mask-wearing, Cuomo called for New Yorkers to stay vigilant, particularly due to uncertainties over new variants of the virus.

“In my opinion, some states are going far too fast,” Cuomo said. “You relax those restrictions too far, you will see the beast rise up again.

Agence France-Presse

Palace on Robredo’s ‘pikon’ remark vs Duterte: Kasi laging mali s’ya

By Prince Golez

“‘Yan po ay reaksyon ng Pangulo sa tao na laging mali.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo said that President Rodrigo Duterte was “sobrang pikon” and can’t take criticisms constructively.

Duterte earlier lashed out at Robredo for calling for a review of the Sinovac vaccines by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) before using it on health workers.

Roque reiterated that the HTAC review is only recommendatory and its assessment is not necessary before the government can roll out Covid-19 vaccines.

“Ang konteksto ng sinasabi ni Presidente na mali naman si Vice President Leni Robredo yung sinasabi nya dapat mag-antay ang medical frontliners ng HTAC recommendation para magkaturok,” the Palace official said during a virtual presser held in Cebu.

“Hindi kinakailangan dahil binasa na nga ng Pangulo ang batas, recommendatory lang ang HTAC. Kung ayaw niya maniwala, hindi ko alam kung kanino siya maniwala,” he added.

Earlier, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use authority for Sinovac, but did not recommend it for use by health workers and the elderly.

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