Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is willing to hold a dialogue with officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) if they could explain incidents where UP students were killed in military encounters with the communist terrorist New People's Army (NPA).

Paki-explain mga patay: Lorenzana sets condition for talking to UP officials over ’89 pact

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Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is willing to hold a dialogue with officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) if they could explain incidents where UP students were killed in military encounters with the communist terrorist New People’s Army (NPA).

“(There is a) list of students of UP from all UP campuses na namatay during encounters (who died during encounters with the AFP). Explain to me bakit nangyari ito sa kanila (how did this happen to them) (and) how they failed to protect these young kids from joining these organizations and they get killed. As a parent, I really feel sad for these (students) na mamatay sila ng ganito (they died just like that). So explain nila ‘yan. If they can explain that, we will talk; if not, then forget it,” Lorenzana said at an online press briefing Wednesday.

Some of the UP students Lorenzana was referring to include Josephine Anne Lapira, 21, recruited by Gabriela and killed during an encounter with government troops in Nasugbu, Batangas on November 28, 2017; John Carlo Alberto, 22, reportedly recruited by Anakabayan and killed during an firefight with security forces in Luisiana, Laguna on February 14, 2019; Christine Puche, recruited by the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and killed Juban, Sorsogon on July 4, 2013; Becca Del Monte, 22, another recruit of Gabriela who died in Lacub, Abra on September 4, 2014, to name a few.

READ: Duterte supports Lorenzana’s move on UP-DND pact: Roque

Lorenzana welcomed UP President Danilo Concepcion and some senators’ call for a dialogue regarding the termination of the 1989 agreement that prohibits state forces from entering the university campuses sans prior notice.

Earlier, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and several others filed a resolution “expressing the Senate’s sense to oppose” the scrapping of the accord.

“I am open to dialogue with them. I appreciate the intercession of a lot of well-meaning people like members of the Senate who passed a resolution for us to dialogue. Also, Secretary (Harry) Roque has offered his office for a dialogue between me and (UP president) Danilo Concepcion,” Lorenzana said.

He dismissed reports claiming that by terminating the agreement with UP, the government is providing a basis for the public to see the military and police as enemies.

“How can that be, you know of all the campuses in the Philippines, ang dami namang universities dito, nandyan ‘yung (there are a lot of universities here, there is) Ateneo, La Salle, San Beda, wala naman silang ganyang (they don’t have that kind of) agreement. (and yet) why do they (still exist), the freedom of expression is there, the freedom of academic, academic freedom is there, lahat ng (all) freedom they enjoy, so how come that they will equate the abrogation of this contract na minilitarize namin ‘yung UP (that we are militarizing UP),” he added.

Lorenzana clarified that they have nothing against the state university and that the abrogation of the agreement was not an attack against the school or its alumni.

“I have nothing against UP, we (only) want to protect UP and its students,” Lorenzana said. (PNA)

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May parusa ‘pag umayaw! AFP requires soldiers to be vaccinated vs COVID-19

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) inoculation is mandatory for all of its personnel but they have the option to choose among vaccine brands other than Sinovac at their own expense.

“Thus, to get inoculated or not is not an option for the members of the AFP, it is a duty. At the most, the exercise of an option will be the option to as to what brand of vaccine they will be availing of, but the cost of which will not be paid by the AFP,” AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in an online press briefing.

Malacañang earlier announced that the first batch of Sinovac Biotech vaccines composed of 600,000 doses donated by China is set to arrive on Sunday (Feb. 28), with 100,000 doses of which will be given to the Department of National Defense, the AFP’s mother agency.

Aside from military personnel, Arevalo added that their chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana has said that their dependents must be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, those opting for other vaccine brands who decided to forego their inoculation can do so but once they are called to duty to serve as front-liners, they will have no choice but to follow.

“They must perform their duties and task but they will have to resort to the traditional health protocol, mag-mask, mag-shield, maghugas ng kamay at mag-maintain ng social distance pansamantala habang hindi pa sila natuturukan ng vaccine na pinipili nila (like the wearing of mask, face shields, regularly washing their hands, and maintaining social distance while they are yet to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice),” Arevalo said.

Meanwhile, said AFP personnel assigned and performing duties that will expose them to Covid-19 patients are required to have themselves vaccinated with the available vaccines.

He added that the AFP will play three major roles in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine — security, medical and logistics support operations. (PNA)

Payag ba sa barter? Bello waiting for UK’s response to PH offer to deploy more healthcare workers

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is waiting for the response of the United Kingdom (UK) on its proposed provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine amid UK’s request for an exemption from the deployment cap of Filipino healthcare workers (HCWs).

In a telephone interview on Thursday, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said they expect the UK government to respond on the issue within 10 days.

“I told them for me to be able to recommend it to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases), I have to be assured of the safety of our workers. The only way we can be assured about the safety of our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) is (through) the vaccine,” he said.

Bello said the UK may want to send the coronavirus vaccines so the country can immunize the nurses before they are deployed.

“For us to be able to send our medical workers, we want to ensure that they are safe and their health is secured. We don’t have the vaccine, if they want, they can send us (vaccine),” he added.

Bello said he did not provide specific quantities of the vaccines.

“Why not include all OFWs and not just HCWs. In case they are ready to give us the vaccines, I will give them the number of OFWs that will be vaccinated. I just want to be sure that those who will be deployed have received the vaccine,” he added.

The Philippine government is asking the UK and Germany to provide vaccines against Covid-19 for OFWs as part of the agreement in relation to the deployment of health service workers, particularly nurses.

The country has two bilateral agreements with the UK in 2002 and 2003.

The UK and Germany are seeking to be exempted from the 5,000 cap on the deployment of nurses being implemented by the government to ensure there is an adequate number of nurses in the country in case the need arises.

Meanwhile, Bello said he understands the reaction of the people on the issue.

“They thought I would barter our nurses with the vaccine. I just hope that before they accuse me, they should have asked me first and look at what really happened. They just criticized and what they are saying is not true,” he added. (PNA)

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