DOH should have been clearer about home quarantine from the start of COVID-19 pandemic, Palace says

The Department of Health (DOH) should have released clearer home quarantine guidelines from the start of the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. He added that the DOH “was not clear” when it advised that patients with asymptomatic and mild cases can stay home for quarantine.

Roque’s response came after the government announced the Oplan Kalinga scheme in which local health authorities, accompanied by police, are supposed to go house-to-house to look for asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 patients.

Oplan Kalinga received criticisms from citizens who claim that it is similar to the government’s notorious Oplan Tokhang wherein cops visited the houses of alleged drug pushers, most of whom died because of extrajudicial killings.

Palace hints of NCR’s possible return to MECQ

The Palace warned the public that stricter lockdown measures may return along with the use of quarantine passes, limited business operations, and suspended public transportation if the National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) next month.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that public transportation might be completely halted again, forcing the public to stay at home and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

“If the case doubling rate reaches seven days or more, the area will stay under GCQ. But if the rate doubles within a week, it’s possible to shift to MECQ,” he said.

As of writing, the Philippines has 78,412 COVID-19 cases with 50,763 active infections, 25,752 recoveries, and 1,897 deaths.

France to phase out Huawei by 2028

Following the United Kingdom’s (UK) action, France moves to phase out Huawei’s presence in the country by 2028, stopping the adoption of the Chinese tech giant’s 5G technology.

Apart from the UK and France, other European countries like the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany also issued ban against Huawei and its 5G technology.

“Each country is going to make their decisions for their own country, but I think there’s a growing recognition everywhere that Huawei is a problem. Europe is awakening to the threat of China,” said United States (US) National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

The French government has told telecommunications operators to avoid equipment made by Huawei, warning that licenses granted for the Chinese company’s gear will not be renewed once they expire.

Manila needs P2-million budget a day to sustain free mass testing

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso said that in order for them to continue the free mass testing for COVID-19 and cover both residents and non-residents of the city, they will need around P2 million per day. He added that the use of serology testing machines comes at a price of P60 million per month.

Domagoso has established two walk-in COVID-19 test centers at Ospital ng Sampaloc and Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center (GABMMC) plus two drive-thru testing facilities located at the Quirino Grandstand and across the Andres Bonifacio Monument.

He estimated that around 5,000 individuals went to these testing facilities in just a week, 670 of whom tested positive for COVID-19. The mayor also clarified that serology testing machines are not replacements for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, but thay are more accurate than rapid tests and are virtually on par with the PCR tests.

Sebastian’s allegedly dubious death confuses even wife — De Lima

Senator Leila de Lima said that the unusual reaction and second-guessing of the wife of Jaybee Sebastian about his death in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) gives a hint of a far more complicated circumstance around the issue.

“The rather unusual reaction of Sebastian’s wife, which included threats to kill all the NBP officials and personnel responsible for Sebastian’s death, speaks volumes of the dubious circumstances surrounding it. Sebastian’s wife must know something about these dubious circumstances to go hysterical and threaten to kill the NBP people,” De Lima said in a statement.

“I need all these witnesses to stay alive, and not to die in prison one by one so that in the near future they can eventually tell the whole truth about how Duterte and his sycophantic minions connived to set me up and get rid of me,” De Lima added, referring to the issue Bilibid Drug Trade issue in 2016.

Aussie warships meet Chinese navy in West Philippine Sea

Five Australian warships encountered China’s navy ships in the West Philippine Sea amid the heightened tensions in the region.

Australia’s HMAS Canberra, Hobart, Stuart, Arunta, and Sirius “transited the disputed waters independently” from July 14-18 near the Kalayaan Group of Islands (Spratlys). The warships were bound for Hawaii to join a military exercise led by the United States (US) known as Rimpac.

The Australian government has played down the encounter, saying that “all interactions with foreign warships throughout the deployment were conducted in a safe and professional manner”.

China orders closure vs US consulate in Chengdu

Just a couple of days after the United States (US) ordered the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas to close down due to accusations of theft and economic espionage, China fought back and ordered the closure of the US Consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Authorities notified the US of China’s decision to revoke the consulate’s permission to operate, according to a notice on the Chinese foreign affairs ministry website.

Beijing called on Washington to reverse its decision to shut down Chinese Consulate’s operations in Houston. As of Friday, the consulate in the Texan city was still operating.

PAF, AFP grieve deaths of personnel in Isabela helicopter crash

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) lost its four personnel who were undergoing training in a helicopter crash in Cauayan City, Isabela.

A total of five individuals were aboard the helicopter conducting flight training when it crashed shortly after takeoff.

The casualties include two pilots, one officer, and one of two aircrews from PAF’s Tactical Operations Group 2. The other aircrew who survived is undergoing treatment for injuries.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the chopper was “conducting proficiency training for night flying when the accident happened.”

Arevalo identified the fatalities in the accident as Major Christopher Cesar A. Urbano (pilot-in-command), Capt. Fiorelio D. Bernardo (co-pilot), 1st Lt. Mike Tuesday T. Tabigne and Staff Sgt. John Christopher R Taguiam.

Their remains were flown via PAF transport plane C295 and brought to Clark Air Base in Pampanga where they were welcomed with full military honors.

The lone survivor identified as Airman 1st Class Gerry Aviles Jr., is undergoing treatment at the Isabela United Doctors Medical Center and was reportedly in critical condition. Aviles will be scheduled to be transferred  at the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City.

An investigation team has been sent to the crash site to determine the cause of the accident, the PAF said.

US warns China over Scarborough Shoal in West Philippine Sea

The Philippines, China, and neighboring ASEAN countries have been claiming for the rights in the parameter coastlines of Scarborough Shoal (Panatag) in the West Philippine Sea.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states that the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia are entitled to exclusive economic zones (EEZs) ipso facto or by the mere fact that they have a landmass facing the disputed waters.

China, however, is threatening to declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the airspace above the vast maritime area enclosed by its nine-dash line, covering 85.7% of the West Philippine Sea. While it already has air and naval bases in the Spratlys and the Paracels, China needs to put up similar structures in Scarborough to effectively enforce its ADIZ.

This move added to the escalating tension between China and the United States after US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell officially announced that Scarborough is a redline for the US.

“Any move by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to physically occupy, reclaim, or militarize Scarborough Shoal would be a dangerous move on the part of the PRC and will have lasting and severe consequences for the PRC’s relationship with the United States as well as the entire region,” Stilwell warned.

The Philippines took over Scarborough after its independence in 1946. But after a stand-off with the country in 2012, China took de facto control of the shoal, blocking Filipino fishermen from entering.

Scarborough is about 130 miles west of Luzon and about 400 miles from China’s Hainan Island. Chinese control of the shoal remains an ongoing concern for the Philippines and the US.

Filipinos’ trust in China goes bad under Duterte administration

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from July 3 to 6 shows that Filipinos’ trust in China fell from “poor” to “bad” with a net trust rating of -36. The latest figure is down by 9 points from its net trust rating of -27 in December 2019.

The latest trust figures for China are the lowest since the “bad” net trust rating of -37 seen in April 2016, a few months before Duterte assumed the presidency. SWS said the net trust in China had only been positive in nine out of the 53 times it surveyed this item since August 1994.

Its record low net trust rating was a “bad” -46 in September 2015.

The growing Philippines-China bilateral relationship contributed to the trust rating downfall as it is seen by many as a weak move of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government in issues against China linked to the West Philippine Sea and POGOs.

Meanwhile, Filipinos’ trust in the United States (US) and Australia remain in the positive range based on the survey.