Carpio sees Sinovac donations a PR ploy to occupy another PH reef

Carpio sees Sinovac donations a PR ploy to occupy PH reef | Juan Manila

By Junex Doronio

MANILA — Just like Mao Zedong’s strategy of protracted war, China appears to be surrounding the Philippines from the disputed West Philippine Sea, as its maritime militia swarms Julian Felipe or Whitsun Reef days after the Asian superpower has donated Sinovac vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease of 2019 (Covid-19).

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday, 24 March, compared the latest development to how the Chinese occupied Mischief Reef, which is also within Philippine exclusive economic zone, back in 1995.

“It’s possible that China is encroaching on our maritime zone but softening it by sending us vaccines, by donating to us vaccines. It’s part of their PR (public relations) effort to soften the blow but we should not fall for that,” Carpio said during Wednesday’s interview with “Headstart” on ANC.

He said China’s vaccine donations “soften blow” while its maritime militia swarms Julian Felipe Reef.

Since 07 March, about 220 Chinese fishing vessels, believed to be part of Beijing’s maritime militia, were seen moored in line formation on the coral reef, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Coast Guard had confirmed.

A week before the sighting of the Chinese vessels, the Philippines received 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

A second batch of 400,000 doses arrived Wednesday morning, a few days after the Philippines fired a diplomatic protest over the presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio pointed out the importance of the country’s maritime zones as he said the Philippines does not have to rely on China for vaccines.

He warned that the presence of Chinese boats in Julian Felipe might be a prelude to occupying the area.

Entry/exit points to NCR Plus Bubble, guarded

Entry/exit points to NCR Plus Bubble, guarded | Juan Manila


MANILA — Strict compliance with movement restrictions prompted Philippine National Police chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar to order police chief of localities at the borders of the four provinces annexed to Metro Manila in the Bubble Area to deploy personnel to guard entry and exits points.

Eleazar says all entry and exit points, especially small access roads, should be guarded to restrict movement in and out of the NCR Plus Bubble.

Only authorized persons outside residences (APORs) including essential workers and those who deliver essential goods, are allowed to come in and go out “for as long as they present identification cards and other documents that could prove that their travel is essential.”

“We have already mobilized the necessary police forces to restrict the movement of the people coming in and going out of the NCR Plus Bubble and at the same time, in the conduct of community enforcement of the quarantine measures inside the bubble,” says Eleazar.

“I have already directed the chiefs of police of these areas to coordinate with their respective local government units down to the barangay level, to set up border control points in these access roads,” he says.

The Joint Task Force COVID Shield quarantine control points:

  • the boundaries of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija
  • the boundaries of Rizal and Quezon province
  • the boundaries of Laguna, Batangas and Quezon provinces and
  • the boundaries of Cavite and Batangas


Checkpoints within Bubble area to monitor compliance

Meanwhile, Eleazar points out that checkpoints hoisted within the Bubble Area are “not there to restrict movement” but to monitor compliance with health protocols.

Eleazar clarifies in his statement that no quarantine control points should be set up within the Bubble, especially the entry and exit points of Metro Manila, except if they are in support of the QCPs that were set up at the boundaries of Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal to ease traffic jams that may be created.

“This Bubble concept is new to us so adjustments and corrections are being made to improve its implementation,” says Eleazar.

“Checkpoints within the bubble are still necessary particularly during curfew hours. Beyond curfew period, they can observe, caution or accost those flagrantly violating health protocols but will no longer check motorists for movement restriction.

“Checkpoints are critical police interventions in case of dragnet operations, emergencies, and hot pursuit operations.”

Over 10,000 cops are already deployed around the capital region to enforce curfew hours and quarantine protocols. During the first full week of uniform curfew in Metro Manila, the PNP accosted more than 19,000 quarantine violators—5,300 of whom were arrested.

An all-time 8,019 new COVID-19 infections were reported Monday, the highest since the pandemic more than a year ago. (JSM/JuanManila)

Government demands no vaccine donation from private sector—Galvez

Government demands no vaccine donation from private sector—Galvez | Juan Manila


MANILA — National Task Force for COVID-19 chief Secretary Carlito Galvez clarifies the Government does not require the private sector to donate 50 percent of COVID-19 shot the sector will procure.

The requirement came up as part of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm’s corporate principle on equitable and non-privileged access to its AstraZeneca vaccine.

Fifty percent of the procured vaccines “will be given to the marginalized targeted population of the public sector. They (AstraZeneca) are the ones who demanded it, not the National Government,” Galvez says.

“We do not have that in our agreements with Novavax, Sinovac, or other companies… only AstraZeneca demanded the 50%,” says Galvez.

The private sector initiative “A Dose of Hope” project has signed agreements for the supply of 17 million shots of AstraZeneca vaccines for their employees.

The Government allows private companies to buy COVID-19 shots through a tripartite agreement with the National Government and vaccine manufacturers.

Under the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, private firms and local governments can purchase vaccines that have secured emergency use authorization from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.

Vaccine manufacturers require the National Government to cover indemnification before finalizing any deal as the available vaccines are only covered by the emergency use agreement and are not yet commercially available. (JSM/JuanManila)

14 days not enough to reduce coronavirus replication rate

14 days not enough to reduce coronavirus replication rate | Juan Manila


MANILA — The OCTA Research Group says the implementation of stringent measures in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces may not bring down the reproduction rate of the coronavirus in the capital region to minimum within two weeks.

The number of people one COVID-19 positive case can infect, or the reproduction rate, at present is at 2.1 in Metro Manila, according to OCTA Research fellow Guido David.

“If we want to reduce the number of cases, that means we have to reduce the reproduction number from 2.1 all the way down to 1. This cannot happen in two weeks, unfortunately,” David says.

It took 28 days to reduce the reproduction number when the country experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases in August 2020, David points out.

“That could be like a best case scenario, it would take us maybe four weeks to start having a decrease in cases basing it on history,” says the researcher.

From 22 March to 04 April, the government had imposed unified curfew, banned mass gatherings, and suspended the operations of cinemas, arcades, museums, libraries, cultural sites and driving schools in these areas the Bubble Area—Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible but it seems very unlikely to happen to reverse it in two weeks,” says David.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday the public may start seeing the effects of the restrictions in three to four weeks.

The National Government expects to reduce the number of new COVID-19 infections by at least 25% within the next two weeks.

Monday posted 8,019 additional COVID-19 cases, the highest since the pandemic began. (JSM/JuanManila)

Hunger would follow unless affected sectors get aid

Widespread hunger would follow unless affected sectors get aid| Juan Manila


MANILA — “We were expecting that the Government announcement of additional restrictions would be followed by the announcement that affected workers would be provided with cash assistance and food packs,” says ALU spokesman Alan Tanjusay, noting that workers and their families will find it difficult to comply with the additional restrictions without the cash aid coming from the Government.

He adds “if the Government won’t do that, widespread hunger would happen where workers and their families are caught up in the fierce struggle for survival.”

The tighter safety measures the Duterte Administration has imposed are feared would disrupt the income of some businesses and workers, some sectors believe and urge the Government to provide assistance to these affected groups.

In a briefing, Malacañan says the Government does not need to provide any more ‘ayuda’ similar to the multibillion peso package handed out during the lockdown last year for reasons people can still work.

But as the Government has shutdown some non-essential industries and imposed movement restrictions in the Metro Bubble—Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal—as a response to heightened reports on coronavirus infections, labor groups started calling on Government for aid for affecting their livelihoods and sources of income.

The Associated Labor Union (ALU), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) voice out their need for financial aid to cope with the ban on non-essential travel and closed down businesses.

PM chair Renato Magtubo, meanwhile, calls on Congress to immediately pass the proposed Bayanihan 3 in order to provide cash assistance to workers while KMU chair Elmer Labog says it is the Government’s responsibility to provide workers with cash assistance.


Avail Government programs

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says agencies are continuously helping displaced workers, as the labor department’s emergency employment program Tupad and the loans provided by state-run Small Business Corp. to small and medium enterprises.

“In terms of the assistance similar to the one we provided during ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), since we did not stop our countrymen from working, we do not have to extend such an aid because everybody can work,” Roque says.

The Government did not close the economy. It is merely enforcing localized lockdowns so people can continue working. Roque points out “local governments that were subjected to localized and granular (lockdowns) are providing aid.”

About ₱98.79 billion in financial aid has been distributed to beneficiaries of the Government’s social amelioration program, which aims to support sectors affected by pandemic-related lockdowns last year.

The nationwide program sought to help 17.7 million families by giving between ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 each. (JSM/JuanManila)