PRRD to ‘cut short’ Christmas break to address concerns over new COVID-19 strain

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Friday, December 25, has confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte is cutting short his Christmas break in Davao City to meet with concerned government officials to discuss measures to address the new COVID-19 strain.

According to Go, Duterte will be flying back to Manila to meet the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Saturday.

“Biglaan ang patawag ng meeting with IATF and infectious disease experts tomorrow si PRRD to discuss [the] new strain,” Go said, stressing, “very much concerned kami ni Pangulo.”

“[Sa] Manila po, sa Malacañang. Cut short muna namin ang Christmas break,” he added as he emphasized, “para sa amin ni Pangulo, walang tulog ang serbisyo.”

In a phone interview, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told Palace reporters that the President and concerned government officials will also discuss what will happen to the travel ban imposed on travelers from the United Kingdom, and if a new travel ban needs to be imposed on travelers coming from other countries where the new COVID-19 strain has been confirmed.

“[Pag-uusapan] kung ano mangyayari sa travel ban na na-impose na sa mga galing ng Inglatera, kung kinakailangan ba ng travel ban kung saan nakapasok na ang bagong strain ng COVID-19,” Roque said, adding that the reimposition of an enhanced community quarantine in the country is unlikely.

“Hindi naman po siguro dahil pinapangalagaan na natin na ‘yung mga mamamayan ay magkaroon ng hanapbuhay,” he said.

The new COVID-19 strain has caused a surge of new infections in the United Kingdom, prompting countries to shut their borders to the UK. Meanwhile, countries like Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Gibraltar, and the Netherlands have already reported their first cases of the new strain.

The Philippines, on the other hand, has already imposed a temporary travel ban of flights from the United Kingdom since December 24 until the end of the year. However, outgoing flights are still allowed, following current exit protocols.

Meanwhile, Go continued to urge the public to strictly abide by necessary health protocols as they celebrate the holidays.

“Kasama natin ang ating pamilya, pero wala munang parties dahil delikado pa po habang wala pa pong vaccine, no time to celebrate, ‘wag muna tayong mag-celebrate, ang importante kasama natin ang pamilya sa isang bahay,” Go said, reminding everyone to wear masks and face shields, observe social distancing, and avoid unessential travels.

“Patuloy lang po tayong magdasal at magmalasakit sa kapwa. Alagaan natin ang ating kalusugan at panatilihing ligtas ang ating komunidad — iyan ang pinaka-importanteng mapapamahagi natin ngayong Pasko,” he added.

He reiterated that the government will prioritize the poor and vulnerable sectors, as well as frontliners, in gaining access to COVID-19 vaccines once a safe and effective vaccine is approved and made available to the public.

“Kami ni Pangulong Duterte, uunahin namin ang lahat ng mahihirap, uunahin namin ang lahat ng frontliners at vulnerable para makabalik sila sa kanilang normal na pamumuhay,” he said.

“At dapat libre para sa mahihirap at accessible ito sa lahat, lalo na po yung mga kababayan natin na wala pong choice but to go out and work,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go also told the media that the President is scheduled to sign the General Appropriations Act of 2021 on December 28.

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Israeli flag carrier plane lands in the Philippines for the first time in seven years

The El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. with Flight No. LY 063 landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) this morning, 14 October 2020, at 6:25 AM. Ambassador Rafael Harpaz said that this historic flight symbolizes the good relations between Israel and the Philippines.

 

It was in November 2013 when two Israeli planes carrying humanitarian aid first touched the Philippine soil via Cebu airport to assist the Philippines in wake of Typhoon Yolanda. It was one of the biggest relief operations that Israel has ever conducted. The Israeli delegation of doctors, nurses, and paramedics and Israeli Foreign Ministry and Defense personnel provided a field hospital and helped repair damaged infrastructures such as schools and water facilities particularly in Bogo, Cebu.

 

Onboard the El Al plane were 250 Filipino students from different agriculture universities and colleges in the Philippines who completed their 11-month on-the-job training course of combined academic learning and practical work in the latest farming techniques and technologies in Israel. The program offered the students the opportunity to study at specialized agricultural academic centers and work in modern farms throughout Israel. Approximately 5,000 Filipino students already participated in this Agro Studies program. Another batch of flight from Israel to the Philippines is scheduled later on month.

 

The Embassy looks forward that after the COVID-19 pandemic and through the existing visa-free agreement, more Filipino tourists will come to visit Israel and vice versa; and hopefully, the direct flight services between the two countries will be implemented soon. 

  

Davao City offers public virtual tour of Museo Dabawenyoo

The Davao City government is taking Dabawenyos and tourists into Davao City’s rich culture and historical heritage in the newly-launched Museo 3D virtual tour in line with the celebration of the Kadayawan Festival 2020.  

The public can take a glimpse of the rich cultural and heritage of the city either through bit.ly/2Q0vC92  or on the Museo Dabawenyo Facebook page  – https://www.facebook.com/museodabawenyo.

 

Winnie Rose Galay-Bulig, the head of Museo Dabawenyo, said that the 3D virtual tour is the first in the city and Mindanao. It is created for Davao City by the Davao Pacific Impact to help promote Museo Dabawenyo and allows people to explore the culture and heritage of the city since the museum is temporarily closed due to Covid-19.

“Through this 3D virtual tour, maskin naa sila sa ilahang matag balay or maskin asa man sila, pwede na nila ma-explore ang atong museum (People can tour the museum in this 3D virtual tour at any time at their homes or elsewhere),” Bulig said.

 

It is interactive wherein the panorama contains hotspots that enable the viewers to explore and navigate the Museo Dabawenyo.

 

“It is very informational. They can see plots there and when they click it, descriptions or facts about artifacts found inside the museum will pop-up,” she added.

 

Bulig has invited everyone to share the Museo 3D virtual tour to reach a wider audience, especially tourists who wish to visit the city and learn more about Davao. Also, students who wish to learn and research about the artifacts of the city.  

 

“Gina-awhag nako ang tanan nga mag-explore ani ug hopefully padayon lang sa pagtangkilik, especially this Kadayawan week as we treasure and give importance sa atong culture and history sa Davao (I am encouraging everyone to explore and support this during the Kadayawan week as we treasure and give importance to our culture and history),” she said. CIO

5th PRRD SONA to bring hope of a better future for Filipinos amid ongoing challenges — Sen. Bong Go

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” shared his optimism that President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address this coming Monday, July 27, will bring hope of a better future for Filipinos despite the ongoing challenges the country is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senator said that he is also expecting the President to provide concrete plans and proposed legislative measures to strengthen the government’s efforts to overcome the ongoing crisis and steer the country towards socio-economic recovery.

“I am expecting that the President will focus his 5th SONA on measures (1) to strengthen our fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, (2) to address the needs of the people to overcome the hardships that the crisis has caused in everyone’s lives, and also, (3) to sustain the gains of the Duterte Administration’s promise of a comfortable life for all despite the challenges that we are facing,” said Go in a statement.

“Our goal now is not only to adapt to the ‘new normal’, but to lead our country towards a ‘better normal’ and better quality of life,” he added.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go is confident that primary importance will be placed on measures ramping up the healthcare system’s capacity at all levels.

“Aside from enhancing our overall capacity to Test, Trace and Treat COVID-19 cases, I am hoping that he will also prioritize improving the capacities and capabilities of public hospitals, establishing mandatory quarantine facilities and evacuation centers, strengthening our health workforce, promoting the welfare and well-being of our medical frontliners, and preparing a national vaccine program for COVID-19 in anticipation of its availability to ensure that Filipinos can have access to it,” Go said.

With this, Go expects to see more of health-related bills to be prioritized as both Houses of Congress are set to open their second regular session of the 18th Congress next week. Recently, Go also called for the development of a national vaccine program for the strategic allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine to the general population in anticipation of possible challenges once the vaccine is made available.

“Kapag dumating ang panahon na mayroon nang vaccine at gamot laban sa COVID-19, dapat handa tayo na mabigyan ang lahat ng Pilipinong nangangailangan nito, mahirap man o mayaman,” Go said previously.

Go also said he expects the President will shed a spotlight on key economic responses to mitigate the human and economic impact of the pandemic.

“Pangalawa, bibigyang pansin rin n’ya ang mga pangangailangan ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan na hirap na hirap na sa sitwasyon ngayon. Kasama na dyan ang pagpapabuti ng mga government assistance programs for the poor, livelihood opportunities for displaced workers, and stimulus programs to jumpstart the economy,” Go said.

“Dahil apektado ang lahat ng sektor ng lipunan dahil sa pandemya, prayoridad rin ng Pangulo na siguraduhing hindi tumigil ang serbisyong dapat natatanggap ng mga tao,” he added.

Go also said that efficient, effective and responsive government service delivery must be sustained despite the ordeal in order for citizens to continue to develop and for the businesses to help jumpstart the economy.

“Kasama dito ang mga plano kung paano makapagpapatuloy ang pag-aaral ng mga bata, ang kabuhayan ng mga nawalan ng trabaho, ang pag-alaga sa ating nga OFWs at ang pagbibigay ng pang-araw-araw na serbisyo ng gobyerno sa ligtas na paraan,” he said.

Despite the challenges faced this year, Go expects the Duterte administration to continue working hard in order to fulfill its promise of a comfortable life for all Filipinos.

“Inaasahan kong sisiguraduhin rin ng Pangulo na hindi mapapabayaan ang mga naunang mga prayoridad sa kanyang termino, tulad ng Build Build Build Projects at iba pang programa na naglalayong mabigyan ng komportable at ligtas na buhay ang lahat ng Pilipino. Kasama na diyan ang patuloy na laban kontra iligal na droga, ang seguridad at kapayapaan sa loob at labas ng bansa, at pagpapalakas ng ating disaster resiliency efforts,” he stressed.

As the Duterte administration enters the latter part of its term, Go said that the President remains determined in improving the lives of Filipinos by consistently pushing for development in all parts of the country and by continuously aiming to bring government services closer to the people.

“Dahil sa epekto rin ng pandemya, may mga inisyatibo ang Pangulo tulad ng Balik Probinsya Program na magbibigay ng bagong pag-asa at mas magandang buhay sa mga Pilipino kung pipiliin nilang manirahan sa kanilang mga probinsya,” he said.

“Kasama rin sa layunin nating mailapit ang gobyerno sa tao, mapabilis ang pagbigay tulong, mabawasan ang red tape, at maitigil ang korapsyon, naniniwala akong bibigyang pansin rin niya ang rekomendasyon ko na gawing prayoridad ang transition to E-governance,” he added.

Go also expressed his faith that the country will bounce back from this crisis with a deeper commitment of improving the lives of fellow Filipinos.

“Malayo na ang ating narating mula nang umupo si Pangulong Duterte. Bagama’t patuloy ang mga pagsubok na ating hinaharap, hinuhubog rin nito ang ating kakayahan at pagkatao upang mas makapagserbisyo pa lalo sa ating kapwa tungo sa tunay na pagbabago,” he said.

“Ako naman po, uunahin ko palagi ang interes, kapakanan, at buhay ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan na pinagsisilbihan ko. Patuloy ko rin pong susuportahan ang mga mithiin at mga ipinaglalaban ni Pangulong Duterte para mabigyan ng mas maayos na kinabukasan ang bawat Pilipino,” he ended.

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TF Davao tightens anti-Covid protocol at Davao checkpoints

The Task Force (TF) Davao has tightened anti-Covid measures in all entry and exit points of Davao City, reminding Davao-bound air passengers travelling via other airports and ports in Mindanao to ensure they have the required negative RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) test results.

TF Davao Commander Col. Consolito Yecla said it will be difficult for passengers to skip over health protocols at the checkpoints which are on alert for air passengers traveling via other airports and ports.

Recently, the Davao City government has required all land, sea, and air passengers travelling through other Mindanao ports and airports to present their negative RT-PCR test results taken 24-72 hours of their departure from any airport of origin.

Yecla said that the Task Force has established a system to identify land travelers from other airports in Mindanao.

“If they can show negative RT-PCR test results within 72 hours, we let them pass. But if they do not have one, we hold them at the checkpoint until their RT-PCR test is scheduled,” he said.

On Thursday, TF Davao stopped 16 air passengers who travelled via Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro City and 18 individuals by land, from entering and proceeding to their destination for their failure to present a negative RT-PCR test result.

All those held at the checkpoint have to wait inside their vehicles or in tents set up by TF Davao as holding area while waiting for their turn to be escorted by TF Davao to the laboratory where they can be swabbed. While waiting for the result, they will be held in a holding facility for 24 hours or until their results are out.

According to Yecla, TFD is expecting Davao-bound travellers to reroute their itinerary to other Mindanao airports due to the strict requirement at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

He urged Davao-bound passengers to just follow the protocols and view the requirement as a means to help protect themselves and other people.

“Instead of seeing the requirement as a hassle, they should treat it as their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the city and also for the protection of their loved ones to whom they would go home to,” Yecla said. CIO