Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has joined calls for the Duterte administration to further extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after its April 14 deadline amid the rising cases of coronavirus infections in the country.

Lockdown extension needed to conduct COVID-19 mass testing – Lagman

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has joined calls for the Duterte administration to further extend the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after its April 14 deadline amid the rising cases of coronavirus infections in the country.

Lagman said an extension of the Luzon lockdown is urgently needed to allow the conduct of mass testing in the areas with reported cases of COVID-19 infection.

According to Lagman, the remaining days before the expiration of the lockdown in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the rest of Luzon “will not be sufficient to adequately conduct mass testing” even for selected cases of persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs).

“It would be extremely difficult to implement initial selective and subsequent comprehensive mass testing in a dispersed and mobile population,” he said.

Lagman warned that the projected start of mass testing after the lockdown expiration will be only “counter-productive.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) and leading medical experts like former Arroyo-era Health secretaries Esperanza Cabral and Manuel Dayrit have been exhorting that a lockdown cannot be effective without mass testing.

“Stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus is very complicated and cannot be answered by isolation and social distancing alone because so many COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic,” said Lagman.

Lagman said these patients can unknowingly be virus carriers and contribute to the more rapid spread of the disease, thus making mass testing more crucial.

He added that mass testing can initially help segregate persons who are infected from those who are free from infection.

Meanwhile, Lagman said that any extension of the Luzon lockdown must be coupled with continued social amelioration packages for the disadvantaged sectors and displaced workers as well as steady food supply.

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Malaki ambag! Envoy: US contribution to COVAX facility reaches $2B

The United States’ contribution to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) has reached USD2 billion (about PHP97.2 billion), by far the largest, the US Embassy in Manila said Friday.

“The United States already has provided an initial PHP97.2 billion (USD2 billion), and the Philippines is among the first countries in the region to have received Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccines through the COVAX facility,” it said.

The Embassy said Washington earmarked a total of USD4 billion or about PHP194.4 billion in contribution to the COVAX AMC.

US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law said the country would continue to support Manila in its vaccination rollout, including on mitigation efforts to help curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“The United States is proud to be the largest contributor to COVAX, and we welcome the successful arrival of the first tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines in the Philippines. As we fight the pandemic together, the United States will continue to support the Philippines’ vaccination and Covid-19 mitigation efforts,” he said.

The US contributions to COVAX, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), will support the purchase and delivery of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations in 92 low- and middle-income countries.

The Philippines welcomed Thursday night the first delivery of the much-needed AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX Facility.

Aside from Law, COVAX’s other donor countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway welcomed the vaccine arrival in Manila. (PNA)

LOOK: Card for keeps: Duterte receives national ID

President Rodrigo Duterte has received his PhilID, the national identification card under the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua handed over the PhilID to Duterte at Malacañan Palace on Wednesday, based on the photo released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Thursday.

“President Rodrigo Duterte receives his government-issued identification card from National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua at the Malacañan Palace on March 3, 2021,” the PCOO’s caption read.

On January 21, Duterte registered himself on the PhilSys and gave his biometric information to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for the PhilID.

Republic Act (RA) 11055 or the PhilSys Act mandates the issuance of a national ID that will serve as a valid proof of identity for all Filipino citizens and resident aliens.

The PhilID collates the ID holder’s full name, sex, date, and place of birth, blood type, and address.

It will indicate if a person is a Filipino or a resident alien and will also contain the holder’s front-facing photo, full set of fingerprints, and an iris scan.

The PhilID, which will be given for free, will eventually replace all other government-issued IDs, except the passport, driver’s license, and UMID ID.

The disclosure of one’s marital status, mobile number, and electronic mail address is optional.

The PhilSys Act designates PSA, which is under NEDA, as the implementing agency responsible for the overall planning, management, and administration of PhilSys, the government’s central platform for all citizen and resident aliens of the Philippines.

The PSA on January 18 opened the registration process for the PhilSys project to the public.

The government’s target is to have 50 million registrants by the end of 2021.

Signed into law by the President in August 2018, RA 11055 or the Philippine Identification System Act, aims to establish a single national ID for Filipinos and resident aliens.

The national ID shall be a valid proof of identity and a means of simplifying public and private transactions, enrollment in schools, and opening of bank accounts.

It will also boost efficiency, especially in dealing with government services where people will only need to present one ID during transactions. (PNA)

Five surprising things about International Women’s Day

by Olivier THIBAULT

International Women’s Day marks the struggle for female participation in politics and in the workforce, from the right to vote to the right to equal pay.

Here are five things to know about the day when the world is reminded of the enduring power of the patriarchy.

– Who invented it? –
The Americans. Believe it or not, the United States once had a powerful socialist party and in 1909 they came up with International Women’s Day to commemorate a garment factory strike by women the previous year.

German Communist leader Clara Zetkin championed the idea in Europe at the International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910.

The following March 19 people marched for women’s rights in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland at Women’s Day rallies.

The first March 8 celebration took place in 1914 in Berlin, where women demonstrated to demand the right to vote.

– So is it communist? –
Note quite. Lenin supposedly designated March 8 as a celebration of women, the date chosen to mark the start of Russian workers’ protests in 1917 that eventually toppled the Tsar.

After World War II the day became a celebration of both women and communism.

But outside the Soviet Union it was more about pushing for female influence in areas traditionally dominated by men.

– Who’s to thank for that? –
The United Nations. In 1977 the UN and other international organisations officially declare March 8 International Women’s Day.

– So what happens? –
It’s pretty much just another one of those hard-won days at the office when half the world’s population toils under the glass ceiling.

But not if you live in Russia, Uganda, Mongolia, Georgia, Laos, Cambodia, Armenia, Belarus or Ukraine where March 8 is an official holiday.

– Mothers get a little love, too –
In Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan, International Women’s Day is also Mother’s Day.

In Albania the celebration of unpaid labour involves gifts of mimosa sprigs, while in Serbia children might give speeches celebrating their mums.

Agence France-Presse

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