Duterte reassures Filipinos COVID-19 vaccines from China ‘safe’

Addressing fears and concerns over the country’s possible use of COVID-19 vaccines from Beijing, President Rodrigo Duterte said that it will be safe since China is a “modern country whose integrity is fully protected by its achievements.”

In his pre-recorded public address aired the night of October 14, Duterte said that he’s waiting for China or Russia to contact him for the COVID-19 vaccines. “I’d be glad to open up my sleeves because I am confident with their vaccine,” the president said.

Duterte has been expressing his interest in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines from China. He had previously slammed Western pharmaceutical companies who are also in the process of developing vaccines and accused them of being “all about money.”

He previously said that Chinese President Xi Jinping promised him that the Philippines will be Beijing’s priority for the COVID-19 vaccines that China is currently developing.

Duterte also said that while the Philippines already has money to buy COVID-19 vaccines, the funds aren’t enough so he would continue looking for other sources to ensure that more Filipinos could get access to the yet-to-be developed vaccines. This is despite the massive loan the country has accumulated from various multinational lenders.

He added that soldiers and security forces of the country should be prioritized in the first batch of Filipinos who will be given the COVID-19 vaccine since they need “to be ready, healthy, and without COVID” since they are “vital to the security of the state.” Duterte said that civilians “can be last” in the distribution of the vaccine.

Duterte happy as gov’t agencies follow his order to destroy seized drugs

President Rodrigo Duterte said that he’s happy that government agencies have started to carry out his order to destroy seized illegal drugs in order to avoid the possibility of recycling.

During a meeting in the Palace which was pre-recorded and aired last night (October 14), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that concerned government agencies had already destroyed P8.6 billion worth of crystal meth or commonly known as shabu. Another batch of 1,000 kilograms of the illegal substance is set to be eradicated today.

Duterte also ordered to distribute the process of destroying confiscated illegal drugs and to involve the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). The president instructed that within about 24 hours from the operations of law enforcement agents, the seized drugs should be destroyed.

More than 3 million Filipinos suffering from mental disorders amid pandemic

A recent survey from the Department of Health (DOH) revealed that some 3.6 million Filipinos are suffering from mental health disorders amid the coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in stress and anxiety among common citizens, apart from the loss of jobs, and increased hunger and poverty.

The survey which was presented by the DOH Mental Health Program in a recent online press briefing detailed that 3.6 million Filipinos are battling mental, neurological, and substance disorders as the country struggles to contain COVID-19.

The DOH noted that the real figures of Filipino people suffering from mental health issues could be higher than the mentioned number as the survey only covered three selected conditions.

It added that there has been an “alarming spike of calls” the hotline of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) has been receiving in the past months.

From March 17 to October 6, the NCMH Crisis hotline takes an average of 32 to 37 calls daily, with the monthly average calls skyrocketing to 907, or a 50% increase compared to the data from 2019. Of these, an average of 53 monthly calls are related to suicide.

Unlike other countries, the Philippines still lack the needed accessible resources for the public to consult and address mental health issues for free.

DENR insists reports about dolomite in Manila Bay being washed out are all ‘lies’

Despite the obvious, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the dolomite white sand dumped along the shore of the Manila Bay is not washed out but only covered by the thick black sand from the sea.

This came following circulating photos of the Manila Bay depicting the white sand under the P389-million Manila Bay rehabilitation of the government now lesser from being washed out due to the waves.

DENR Spokesperson Benny Antiporda said that the reports are all lies, and what’s actually happening is not a wash out but a “wash in” as black sand is mixing with the dolomite white sand.

Antiporda added that the government plans to maintain the Manila Bay beachfront, which critics dubbed as a waste of money just to pursue the artificial beautification of the popular spot. He also noted that this is yet to be done as the makeover of the Manila Bay is still under the jurisdiction of the contractor.

The dolomite white sand being washed out due to the strong waves of the Manila Bay is among the long list of concerns raised by various groups and experts over the fake beautification of the said area but the government still pushed through the project.