Malacañang on Monday said it will await the report of the Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Security Adviser on the recent drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Palace awaits DND, NSA, DOE word on Saudi oil attacks

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By Prince Golez

Malacañang on Monday said it will await the report of the Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Security Adviser on the recent drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Asked if the attacks will affect the Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters: “We will have to wait for the report of the DND secretary and the National Security Adviser so we can respond properly. Including DOE.”

This weekend, drone strikes attacked the Abqaiq processing plant and the Khurais oil field. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack.

The DOE earlier assured the country has sufficient oil supply amid the attacks in Saudi production facilities.

“Base sa monitoring natin, may enough minimum inventory requirement po sila base sa report nila,” Romero said in a CNN Philippines interview. “More than the minimum inventory requirement po ang ating supply na nasa bansa.”

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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)

Anyare? PNP, PDEA deny ‘misencounter’ but mum on details of shootout

MANILA – Top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday vowed a full-blown investigation on the alleged “misencounter” between their operatives near a mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

“(Part of the) agreement with the Director General of PDEA (Wilkins Villanueva), we will find out what really happened. Kung sino talaga may sala (Whoever erred), whether PDEA or PNP, we will file a case against and if evidence warrants, we will go for it. Wala po kaming pagtatakpan (There will be no cover-up),” PNP chief, Gen. Debold Sinas told reporters during a joint press briefing in Camp Crame.

This as two police officers, one PDEA agent, and an informant were killed in Wednesday afternoon’s shootout.

“All the evidence, all people concerned are now with the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group). They are collating evidence and data. As of now, kung ano po ang nangyari ay hindi pa makuha yung picture kasi ini-interview at kinakausap pa yung two teams involved (we do not have a clear picture yet because the two teams involved are still being interviewed),” the PNP chief stressed.

Sinas said 10 cops and seven PDEA agents are ‘restricted’ inside CIDG headquarters for the ongoing probe.

Sinas said despite the unfortunate incident, he assured that the PNP and PDEA will continue their fight against illegal drugs in the country and intensify coordination so that this kind of incident will never happen again.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, who read the joint statement of the two agencies, appealed to the public to stop speculations on what really transpired during the incident.

“Neither agency has an exact notion on what went wrong and what was supposed to have been done. We, therefore, appeal to the public to let the investigation take its course first before anyone makes unfounded and baseless claims without the required strength of evidence. We will speak only on the basis of verified facts, not on mere speculations nor conjectures,” he noted.

Usana said that both PNP and PDEA assure the public that there will be criminal and administrative charges to be filed against those individuals found to have violated the laws, rules, and regulations.

“As we take on this particular case with a strong desire for objectivity and integrity, even if admittedly it has caused a temporary setback, we reiterate that the war on drugs continues and the PNP and the PDEA remain constantly working together to crush the real enemy in this regard — illegal drugs,” Usana noted.

Villanueva, meanwhile, condoled with the families of the agents and the cops who were killed in the line of duty.

“Yesterday was one of the saddest days in the history of drug law enforcement (in the country) because three government workers were killed in the performance of their duties. It was really untimely and to all families who lost their loved ones, the PDEA sympathizes with them and PDEA will be willing to help the families for them to be able to cope and move forward,” he stressed.

He also said this unfortunate incident will not dampen ties between the two agencies.

“Mas lumakas kami. Mas naging dikit kami. (We became stronger. We became closer to each other). This incident will not result sa paghihiwalay ng pulis at PDEA (in the separation of the police and PDEA). Lalo po naming pag-iibayuhin ang coordination ng isa’t isa. Dahil kung di namin gagawin yan, isa lang ang mananalo dito — ilegal na droga. At yan ay hindi namin papayagan (We will intensify coordination with one another. Because if we will not do that, there is one winner here — illegal drugs. We will not allow that),” he said. (PNA)

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