The rollout of vaccines to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is “not a race” and needs a careful evaluation, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Let’s face reality: Galvez says coronavirus vaccine rollout ‘not a race’

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By Prince Golez

The rollout of vaccines to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is “not a race” and needs a careful evaluation, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez made the statement when asked for comment on the vaccination timeline. He previously estimated that the licensed Covid-19 vaccines will be deployed May, June, and July.

“We have to face realities. Alam ninyo ang pagbabakuna ay hindi po tinitingnan lang natin iyong timeline na mapaaga tayo; it’s not a race. Titingnan po natin talaga iyong safety at saka efficacy,” the former military chief said during the Laging Handa public briefing Saturday.

Vaccine availability, he added, will depend on the results of individual applications for emergency use authorization (EUA).

“Alam natin na iyong timeline po natin ay medyo bumabagal dahil po kasi sa tinatawag nating regulatory requirement. Nakikita natin sa 200 na vaccines, dalawa pa lang sa US ang nabigyan at tatlo sa China at dalawa sa Russia,” explained Galvez.

“So iyong tinatawag nating EUA, out of 200, more or less lima hanggang anim pa lang ang nagkakaroon ng tinatawag nating mass production dahil nakikita natin nadi-delay ang kanilang authorization at saka iyong evaluation.

“At saka nakita natin, nagkakaroon tayo ng mga problema sa raw materials, at the same time, iyong logistic challenges ay nandoon pa rin,” he also said.

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Pinoy pride! House adopts resolutions honoring 2 Fil-Ams in Biden admin

By Billy Begas

The House of Representatives on Monday adopted two resolutions congratulating two Filipino-Americans who were appointed by US President Joe Biden.

House Resolution 1513 congratulates Camille Calimlim Touton who was appointed as Deputy Commissioner of US Bureau of Reclamation in January 21, 2021.

“Touton’s appointment is historic as she became the first Filipino-American to serve in the agency’s leadership role,” the resolution authored by Pangasinan Rep. Christopher de Venecia read.

Touton is the daughter of Carl and Marlene Calimlim from Barangay Tebeng, Dagupan City.

Meanwhile, House Resolution 1613 congratulates Gloria Diño Steele who was appointed as acting administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID is the leading agency of the US government implementing international development programs and disaster assistance.

Steele has received three US Presidential awards: one Presidential Meritorious Executive ward in 2007 and two Presidential Distinguished Executive Awards in 2008 and 2018. She also received the Order of Sikatuna Award form the Philippine President in 2015.

“For her achievements as an exemplary Filipino-American in the USAID, who envisioned a genuine commitment to help others live a better life, it is but fitting to commend and give honor to Ms. Gloria Diño Steele for representing the whole Filipino nation in the pursuit of a better Philippines and a peaceful world,” the resolution read.

The resolutions were approved during the celebration of Women’s Day at the House.

‘Huwag ka nang magturo’: Eric Yap solely to blame for P20-B budget cut in military pension fund, Ungab says

MANILA – Deputy Speaker and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab said House committee on appropriations chair Eric Yap is solely to be blamed for the reported P20-billion budget cut in the gratuity and pension funds of the country’s retired military personnel under the 2021 national budget.

In his privilege speech on Monday, Ungab said Yap admitted the budget cut during his interpellation with Anakalusgan Rep. Mike Defensor last week, and therefore should not drag others into the mess he created.

“You confirmed this, here, in the plenary. So ikaw ang may gawa nito, wag ka na magmali-mali ng pagtuturo. Sarili mo lang ang pwede mo ituro!” said Ungab.

During his interpellation last week with Defensor, Yap reportedly admitted that he did not consult the present House leadership when he realigned the military pension fund, citing lack of time.

“Sa totoo lang po, eto po yung malaking… kaya po ako naku-kwestyon lagi dahil 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,” Yap told Defensor during last week’s plenary debates.

“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,” the neophyte ACT-CIS Party-list added.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier has proposed P172.9 billion for the pension and gratuity fund of retired military and other uniform personnel under the submitted 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) but Congress only approved P152.9 billion.

Ungab stressed that since Yap already accepted responsibility over the slashed fund, the ACT-CIS solon should better not pass the blame on others.

“Last Monday, you have already accepted responsibility for the 2021 PGF budget cut, unequivocally admitting that this was your own making, that you did not consult the Speaker about your decision to cut the pension and gratuity funds by P20 billion,” said Ungab.

Prior to his admission that he bypassed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco over the budget cut, Yap was pointing a finger at Ungab over the supposed deficiency in the gratuity funds. The Davao City solon previously chaired the appropriations panel during the early part of the previous House leadership under Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

According to Yap, the fund deficiency in the gratuity fund was brought on by the P74-billion budget under the 2020 budget during the time of Ungab.

Ungab, a stalwart of Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party, said Yap’s accusation is “actually baseless,” as the same is disputed by the cited report of DBM.

Based on the DBM’s press release, it was explained that the real cause of the present deficiency in the military pension fund is due to the unsettled 2018 pension adjustments which were supposedly computed to be paid in its submitted P172.9 Billion 2021 budget—wherein Yap is the already the chair of the appropriations panel.

Furthermore, Ungab said he had actually no hands when the 2020 General Appropriations Act was approved since he was kept in the dark by members of the previous House leadership, particularly Cayetano and former Deputy Speaker for finance Luis Raymond Villafuerte. (CRD)

Palace brushes off Zarate claim: Nalilito lang siya

By Prince Golez

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed the statement of Bayan Muna Rep. and House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate on the “tokhang modus” against the nine activist leaders in Calabarzon region.

Zarate in a statement called the simultaneous police-military operations in Southern Tagalog, which also resulted in the arrest of at least six others, as “pure terrorism to brutally silence dissent.”

“Nalilito kasi si Congressman Zarate kasi hindi natin sigurado kung sino talaga ang pinaninindigan niya. Pero ang sabi ni Presidente, hindi lang po siya aktibista, kabahagi siya ng mga rebelde na mayroong mga armas,” Roque said in his televised briefing Monday.

The secretary also urged the remaining members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA) to lay down their arms and rejoin society.

“Ang panawagan natin, kung kayo talaga ay nagmamahal sa kapuwa Filipinos, ibaba ninyo na po ang armas at lahat naman po ay ginagawa natin para maibsan ang paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan na dahilan kung bakit sila ay nagrerebelde,” he added.

In December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte accused Zarate of being a communist and a co- conspirator. Duterte also alleged that Zarate used NPA funds to pay for his son’s education abroad.

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