Planning and preparations carried out by local government units (LGUs) are key to achieving a successful nationwide immunization program, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Wednesday.

Naghahanda na nang maaga: Galvez elated by LGUs’ simulation exercises for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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Planning and preparations carried out by local government units (LGUs) are key to achieving a successful nationwide immunization program, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Wednesday.

“The mobilization of people on the ground, as well as the administration of the vaccine in communities, will largely depend on your readiness to help carry this out,” Galvez told LGUs during the visit of the Covid-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team, led by the National Task Force (NTF) and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Makati City.

He cited the importance of the Covid-19 simulation exercises various LGUs as preparation for the national vaccination campaign.

“Kung kaya’t ikinatutuwa po ng code team ang paghahanda at preparasyon na isinasagawa ngayon ng maraming lungsod sa buong bansa kasama na ang lungsod ng Makati (The code team is pleased with the readiness and preparation that is being carried out by many cities throughout the country, including Makati City),” he added.

Meanwhile, Galvez cited the need for Makati City to revive its economy as it is the commercial center hub in Metro Manila.

As a business center hub, Galvez said its local economic revival amid the pandemic will contribute much to the country’s economy.

“Makati City was among the first LGUs which expressed their intention to enter into a tripartite agreement with the national government and vaccine manufacturers to secure vaccines for their constituents,” he said.

Through the tripartite agreement with the national government and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, the city government has secured one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for its residents and partners in the business sector.

The city government has allocated PHP1 billion as augmentation in the procurement of coronavirus vaccines.

“The tripartite agreement is a testament that our whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach in fighting this pandemic is working and bearing positive results,” Galvez said.

Meanwhile, Galvez said LGUs have significant roles in educating the public about the vaccination plan of the government.

“With the proliferation of unverified and fake news, nangangailanan ang ating mga kababayan ng tama at wastong impormasyon tungkol sa bakuna (our fellow countrymen need to know the right information about vaccines),” he said. “This is why we appreciate the move of Makati City for launching an information campaign to ensure that pressing issues and concerns pertaining to Covid-19 vaccines are answered.”

He lauded the Metro Manila Council for its unified efforts to combat the pandemic.

The Metro Manila Council is composed of mayors of the 16 cities in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Galvez said the national government noticed the improvement of the country’s response to the pandemic since the LGUs, particularly the Metro Manila Council, started to work together.

He assured the public anew that they are working to acquire vaccines that are safe, effective, and cost-effective which will be provided free for all Filipinos.

He said only Food and Drug Administration-approved Covid-19 vaccines will be purchased and will be used in the national immunization program of the government.

Galvez urged the public to continue adhering to the minimum health standards such as wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene while waiting for the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines in the country. (PNA)

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Walang pilitan! DOLE to issue advisory on ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

MANILA – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday announced that they will issue an advisory on the issue of vaccination in workplaces early next week.

“We will issue an advisory, not an order on Monday. We will advise everyone that nobody can be forced to undergo vaccination without his or her consent and any policy that is requiring vaccination for work will be declared illegal,” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello said this is to make employers aware of this rule.

On the other hand, he urged workers to report to the department employers or companies that are requiring employees to get the vaccine before they will be allowed to enter the workplace.

“They can report it to our DOLE offices, we have city, municipal, provincial and regional offices and they can also call our hotlines: 1439 and 1438,” the Labor chief said.

Bello, however, said they have yet to receive any complaints from employees regarding the issue.

“We have not received any complaint yet. In fairness, the president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines had said they will not implement such because they know that it has no legal basis and you cannot force the workers to get vaccinated, we don’t have the vaccines yet,” he said.

He, however, urged Filipinos to get vaccinated.

“I’m asking our fellow Filipinos to get vaccinated once the vaccines are available. The best way for us to ensure our return to normalcy,” he added. (PNA)

Para wala nang TNT! Bello: Russia eyes bilateral labor agreement with PH

MANILA – Russia has expressed interest to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Philippines on the deployment of migrant workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Saturday.

“We received a communication from the Russian government that they are willing to enter into a bilateral agreement with the government of the Republic of the Philippines,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello said this is a welcome development for Filipinos, particularly those who are illegally staying in the European nation.

“With this development, we can now legitimize the stay of our overseas workers in Russia,” he said.

Bello added that under the plan, Filipinos who go to Russia as tourists can have their tourist visa converted into working visas.

“It’s under the same mechanics, (as to those who go to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They went there as tourists and then they convert their tourist visa into a working visa,” he said.

On Monday, the Philippine government and the UAE signed an agreement creating a unified employment contract that provides stringent measures to protect Filipino household service workers (HSWs) pursuant to the directives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

During the joint committee meeting from March 1 to 2, Manila has reiterated its position to deploy the workers through the legal channel, and the conversion of tourist visa to working visa is therefore not recommended since this may lead to illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons.

Bello said under the new contract, the conversion of a Filipino worker’s tourist visa to a working visa would have to be approved by Philippine Overseas Labor Office in the host country.

“The UAE will no longer allow the conversion of a tourist visa into a working visa without the approval of Labor Attaché in the place of deployment. It’s a protection for our OFWs,” he said. (PNA)

Dagdag supply! Galvez: 38K doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in PH March 7

MANILA – The government is expecting the arrival of an additional 38,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility on March 7, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Saturday.

“‘Yung darating po bukas ay more or less 38,400. Ito po yung kabuuan ng 525,600 ng AstraZeneca (Arriving tomorrow are more or less 38,400 doses, part of 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccines),” Galvez said in an interview shortly after the symbolic vaccination rollout of AstraZeneca jabs at the Ospital ng Parañaque.

On Thursday night, the initial 487,200 shots of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the Philippines through the COVAX facility.

By the third week of March, 400,000 more doses of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered.

“So ngayon ang gagawin sa AstraZeneca, kung sino ‘yung mga hindi nabigyan ng Sinovac at saka willing magkaroon ng bakuna ay ‘yun po yung priority natin (We will prioritize the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines to those who did not receive the Sinovac vaccines and are willing to get vaccinated),” Galvez said.

The government will also prioritize the local deployment of AstraZeneca vaccines to areas with a surge in new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections, including Calabarzon and Central Visayas, as well as the cities of Baguio and Davao.

“‘Yun ang priority natin na mabigyan ng mga bakuna, lalo na yung mga nakita natin na maraming new cases (Our priority is to give the vaccines to areas with a high number of new Covid-19 cases), ” he said.

Amid the limited global supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Galvez said the arrival of AstraZeneca and Sinovac jabs is a huge relief.

“Kasi nangako po ang Chinese embassy at saka Chinese government na mayroon pong parating na 400,000 na another donation para bubuuhin na lang nila na one million donation (As promised by the Chinese embassy and the Chinese government to complete one million doses, another 400,000 doses are set to arrive),” he said.

On top of the Chinese government’s donations, Galvez said the country’s procured Sinovac jabs would arrive by the end of March onwards. (PNA)

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