COVID-19 Crisis: Up to 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine coming to the Philippines this month

Are you feeling uneasy or anxious about the fact that the millions of vaccines for COVID-19 (China Virus) secured for the Philippines could not come in fast enough? You are not alone.

Are the daily reports of new COVID-19 cases released by the Department of Health (DOH) scaring you? You are not alone as I know someone who is extremely religious yet panicky who gets affected by such reports. Not even the good news of the launch of Sputnik V in the Philippines (check out the Muntinlupa City launch) could lift up that same person’s outlook.

Anyway, the latest COVID-19 vaccine update regarding the Philippines is this…the nation will start receiving the bulk of COVID-19 vaccine composed of up to seven million doses within this month. This was according to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reports…

“Ang maganda po dito ‘yong delivery natin ng ano ng May, baka po from 4 million madadagdagan po tayo ng 7 million. Malaki po ‘yon, Mr. President, kasi ang dadagdag po dito ‘yong COVAX mukhang makakapag-deliver na po ng Pfizer at saka ng AstraZeneca (The good news is that, the delivery this May may increase from 4 million doses up to 7 million doses. That’s a huge volume, Mr. President, because the COVAX facility may also be delivering Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines),” Galvez told President Rodrigo Duterte in a Cabinet meeting Wednesday night.

Galvez assured that enough doses dedicated for the vaccinees’ second shots would arrive on time.

“‘Yong second dose wala na po tayong problema. Mayroon po tayong makukuha ngayong May more or less baka mga 1 million or 2 million na AstraZeneca. Iyong definite date lang po ang ina-ano po natin. So matutuwa na po ‘yong mga nakapag-first dose dahil kasi mayroon pong padating na COVAX na AstraZeneca (We don’t have a problem with the second dose. We might be having more or less 1 million or 2 million doses of AstraZeneca this May. We are just working on the definite dates so we are glad because the AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX Facility will be delivered),” he said.

As of May 4, a total of 2,065,235 Filipinos have been vaccinated with at least one dose against Covid-19, with 320,586 persons fully vaccinated.

The bulk of the vaccines will be arriving in June, allowing the government to begin the inoculation of the general populace, Galvez added.

“So pataas po nang pataas ang volume po, Mr. President. Talagang ang medyo nahirapan lang po tayo noong March at saka April. Pero ngayong May medyo mayroon pong bubuhos sa atin (We will be receiving an increased volume of vaccines, we really had hard times during March and April, but this May, more vaccines will be arriving),” he said.

An estimated 20-30 percent of the country’s healthcare workers have yet to be vaccinated, according to Galvez, as they opted to wait for the arrival of other brands of Covid-19 vaccines.

Despite negative reports, Galvez said the public’s acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccines has significantly increased, noting that more Filipinos wanted to get immunized.

To date, data from Our World in Data show that the Philippines is fourth among Southeast Asian nations with the most number of vaccine doses administered.

The report ended stating that as more vaccines arrive, Galvez described as “very doable” is the government’s goal to vaccinate half-a-million people daily.

In closing this, let me ask you readers…do you believe the updates from Galvez? How is the local COVID-19 vaccinating program doing there in your local area? Were you vaccinated already?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

I Love Israel: Direct Philippines-Israel flights before the end of 2021 in the works

Have you been dreaming of visiting the Holy Land or doing business in Tel Aviv in Israel? There is something positive in development right now and breakthroughs could happen before the year ends. This is because recently, Israel’s Ambassador Rafael Harpaz announced that the establishment of direct flights between the Philippines and Israel is being worked on with 2021 in mind (specifically before the end of the year). There is no timeline yet as to when will Philippines-Israel travel will resume but make no mistake that Israel is opening its borders to foreign tourists (who got vaccinated for COVID-19) starting May 23, 2021 which itself is connected with their successful vaccination program.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article. Some parts in bold…

Direct flights between the Philippines and Israel before the end of the year are in the pipeline, Israeli Ambassador to Manila Rafael Harpaz said Friday.

We would like very much for the Filipino tourists to be back to Israel. The Philippine Airlines already informed us that they are planning to start a direct flight to Israel towards the end of the year,” Harpaz told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

There’s no timeline yet when tourism exchanges between the Philippines and Israel would resume, but he said the deployment of Filipino caregivers continues despite the pandemic.

“Actually, every day we see new caregivers because there is a demand. So they are flying to Israel and when they get there, they also get the vaccine immediately,” Harpaz said. “We don’t have a quota (on deployment) but it depends on the demand. Because our population is getting older and older, the demand is getting high. We also have from other countries but the demand is high for Filipino caregivers.”

In 2019 alone, about 35,000 Filipino tourists visited Israel, while more than 30,000 overseas Filipinos are working there as caregivers.

‘Tourism restart’

At present, there is no agreement between the Philippines and Israel for a travel bubble setup, but Harpaz said he is hopeful that the two nations’ tourism exchanges would soon resume.

He added that several Filipino tour operators are interested to bring travel groups once Israel fully reopens.

“They’re waiting. There’s so many tour operators in the Philippines who are eager to take groups to Israel because it’s a big tourist destination for Filipinos,” Harpaz said. “The Israelis are also eager. The businessmen are eager to return to the Philippines. They want to go to Banawe, Palawan, Siquijor, and all those wonderful places. Let’s hope that it will soon work out.”

Israel is opening up its borders to foreign tourists under a travel bubble setup, with the vaccinated population no longer required to undergo a long period of quarantine.

But for now, the vaccines that Israel recognizes for this arrangement are Pfizer and Moderna.

It has so far signed a travel bubble agreement with Cyprus and Greece.

“We are moving slowly with more countries because we want to have tourism back and business back,” he said.

As you already know, I strongly believe that the ties between my native Philippines and Israel are very essential. I really love it when Israelites and Filipinos are in harmony together, and the fact that Filipino caregivers and students were vaccinated for free in Israel is an example of that. Filipino caregivers have been known to be very helpful towards Israelites and there is a strong demand for more caregivers. Christians here in the Philippines, led by faith, love to visit the Holy Land and discover personally the places where Lord Jesus had been to.

Speaking of Philippines-Israel ties, Ambassador Harpaz also announced more good news for Filipinos struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted below is an excerpt from another Philippine News Agency article…

The Philippines can expect to be among the priority countries of Israel once the latter is able to transfer its excess vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Israel Ambassador to Manila Rafael Harpaz said Friday.

Harpaz explained that Israel, for the time being, could not transport its extra vaccine doses to any third country due to some legal issues in its contract with Pfizer.

“It has nothing to do with the Philippines. Israel, for the time being, was not able to give vaccines to a third country because we have a contract and there are limitations on giving it to a third party,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview on Friday.

Aside from Manila, more than 10 countries have also expressed interest in purchasing their excess vaccines, Harpaz said.

“It’s something we are looking generally in a favorable manner but it’s the legal issues that must be resolved first. But it’s one of the issues in the discussions and when the moment that there would be a green light to give (the vaccines) as assistance to third countries, the Philippines will certainly be among them,” he said.

The Philippines is definitely a high priority for us once we’re capable of giving away the vaccines.

Wow! Considering the current situation here in the Philippines, it’s nice to learn that our country is a high priority for Israel for potential donations of excess vaccines from their own stocks. The legal issues are blocking access. To be very clear, the Philippines secured many millions of COVID-19 vaccines but those stocks cannot come fast enough. Very recently, the cities of Muntinlupa and Parañaque became the first recipients of vaccines from Russia. How many exactly? THREE THOUSAND doses for each city.

In closing this, here are some Israel-related videos for your viewing pleasure and for your insight.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: P405.6-billion Bayanihan 3 approved by House panel

In an attempt to boost economic recovery for the nation from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 (China Virus) pandemic, a panel of the House of Representatives approved yesterday the Bayanihan 3 (Bayanihan to Arise as One Act) stimulus package which is worth P405.6 billion.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) report. Some parts in bold…

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the substitute bill to the third Bayanihan measure, which would contain direct emergency and social amelioration to Filipinos, livelihood interventions, as well as food security and health interventions.

The bill seeks to provide funding of PHP108 billion for the implementation of a cash subsidy program of PHP1,000 for every Filipino, with another PHP108 billion in standby funds.

Around PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 1 of assistance for households in crisis situations under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Some PHP12 billion shall be appropriated for Phase 2 and PHP6 billion for Phase 3 of the AICS program.

To assist micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program shall be continued and expanded with direct funding of PHP8 billion, and stand-by funds worth PHP8 billion for Phase 2 and PHP4 billion for Phase 3.

To provide temporary employment to displaced workers, around PHP10 billion shall be appropriated for the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD), Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program, while PHP10 billion shall be appropriated as stand-by funds for Phase 2 and PHP5 billion for Phase 3.

Assistance to the agri-fishery sector will receive a total of PHP30 billion worth of standby funds to finance programs and interventions toward food security and farmer income security and welfare.

The bill allocates PHP3 billion for medical assistance for indigent patients, and stand-by funds worth PHP3 billion each for Phases 2 and 3.

A total of PHP54.6 billion shall be allocated to the Pension and Gratuity Fund for retired military and the police, while the amount of PHP5.6 billion shall be appropriated to assist the Department of Education in the implementation of its digital education, information technology, and digital infrastructure and alternative learning modalities as part of the pandemic response and transition to a new normal.

At more than P400 billion proposed, definitely a lot of people (including the owners of struggling MSMEs) as well as government departments will be assisted. While this news is good to hear and read, it still has to be passed first through the lower and upper chambers of Congress before finally reaching the President for approval.

How fast will this proposal get cleared? We will find out soon.

Let me ask you readers – are you a potential beneficiary of the proposed Bayanihan 3 stimulus package? Do you believe that P405.6 billion is good enough to help our nation’s economic recovery? You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: MECQ for NCR Plus extended until May 14, 2021

After weeks of anticipation by the public, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the other night the extension of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until May 14, 2021 for the National Capital Region (NCR) plus the bordering provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. In connection to this, Duterte apologized.

To put things about the extended MECQ in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article. Some parts in bold…

“Modified enhanced community quarantine. Modified ito so medyo strict. NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal (Modified enhanced community quarantine – modified, meaning somehow strict – will be imposed in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal),” Duterte said in his talk to the people.

MECQ will be implemented in NCR Plus, composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, MECQ until May 14, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a separate press statement.

Quirino and Abra provinces, as well as the City of Santiago in Isabela, will also stay under MECQ for the whole month of May, Duterte said.

On the other hand, the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) will be imposed in Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Quezon, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur from May 1 to 31.

The rest of the country will remain under the least restrictive modified GCQ (MGCQ).

Roque said the latest quarantine status is still “subject to the appeals of local government units.”

The government is targeting to lower health care and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization rates to ease the quarantine protocols in the country amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

In recent times, the daily count of new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines fell below 10,000. It was reported the other day that the new COVID-19 cases was at 6,895 nationwide. Still the nation has over 1,000,000 COVID-19 cases grand total (including recoveries) and the secured vaccines cannot arrive fast enough from overseas. Also, it will take a lot of time before the local production of vaccines will become a reality in the nation.

Apart from public health, more attention should be paid on the economy which has been set back a lot since the latest ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). The current MECQ meanwhile resulted 13% of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to stay closed specifically in the NCR Plus zone.

More on the economy, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez is pushing to help the economy by recommending a flexible MECQ in NCR Plus with gradual reopening of labor-intensive sectors in mind.

For perspective, posted below is an excerpt for the Philippine News Agency article. Some parts in bold…

In a radio interview Thursday, Lopez said the agency is eyeing to reopen personal care services with a limited capacity of 20 to 30 percent as well as dine-in services in food establishments by 10 to 20 percent.

“Ni-recommend ho kasi naming ‘yong MECQ with flexibility. We are just after sa pagbabalik ng trabaho, pero yung higpit naman ng mobility ay nandoon pa rin. Ang importante lang ay itong trabaho. We’re talking about opening the sectors na sarado pa rin (We recommended the MECQ with flexibility. We are just after bringing back jobs, but the strict mobility will still be there. What’s important is the jobs. We’re talking about opening the sectors that are still closed),” he said.

He added that the gradual reopening of the personal care and dine-in services was “partially discussed” with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“Iko-confirm na lang mamaya sa IATF kung ilang porsyento [The IATF will confirm later the percentage (of capacity)],” Lopez said.

An estimated 200,000 workers in personal care services and 1 million fast-food and restaurant crews were affected during the stricter community quarantine measures in National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal and about PHP60 billion worth of wages were lost during the two-week MECQ, Lopez said.

The current MECQ also shed PHP120 billion in gross domestic product, on top of the PHP180-billion economic losses during the two-week ECQ.

While it is essential for people and organizations to follow health protocols and avoid COVID-19 infections, the same goes with the economy. So many have been suffering from the lack of jobs, the loss of income and, in the case of businesses, the loss of customers and clients. Being in the private sector myself, I definitely want more businesses of any size to reopen, make money, hire the unemployed and contribute to the development of local society. I want to see the personal care services to resume operations, as well as the return of indoor dining for restaurants and cafes. I also want to see more of my fellow Filipinos to stay above poverty and rise higher. That being said, I say that capitalism is the way to go and the real way to restore prosperity for the Philippines even as we face varied challenges daily during this COVID-19 (China Virus) crisis.

From this point on, I encourage you to keep observing the moves of not only the national authorities but also those in your local government, your barangay and other organizations serving you. Pray that the public servants and community leaders will look up to the Lord and acknowledge His authority over them. Pray for the leaders to look up to God. Finally, no matter how good or bad your situation is, keep having strong faith in our Lord. If you are hurting and you need healing, come to Lord Jesus (read Mark 5:25-34 in the Holy Bible).

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: Philippines to become a new producer of vaccines?

Very recently, the national authorities announced that the grand total of COVID-19 (China Virus) cases in the Philippines had surpassed the 1 million mark, landing at 1,006,428 cases. There will be many millions of new vaccines coming into the country but they just could not come in fast enough.

In recent times, the national government started making a move to become a new player in the production of new vaccines for coronavirus according to National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. He added that this would ensure a steady supply of vaccines not only for this current crisis but also for future health crises.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the story published through Philippine News Agency (PNA). Some parts in bold…

“We are working on building the country’s vaccine sufficiency, particularly our capacity to manufacture and produce our own vaccines not just to address Covid-19 health crisis, but also to prepare for any future pandemic,” Galvez said at a virtual Economic Development Cluster and Infrastructure Cluster forum for the Pre-State of the Nation Address on Monday.

The Philippines is hoping to replicate the Serum Institute of India (SII), India’s largest vaccine producer which produces the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, known in India as Covishield.

Galvez earlier visited India to negotiate with SII for the acquisition of 30 million doses of the Novavax vaccine.

One of the topics tackled during the trip was the possibility to develop local production of vaccines in the Philippines.

“One of our agenda during our trip to India last month was to look into opportunities that will allow us to build on the same vaccine and medicine manufacturing capacity that India has,” Galvez said.

He said he had met with the Department of Science and Technology Sec. Fortunato de la Peña and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez along with the country’s vaccine experts to discuss the plan to establish local vaccine production.

The government targets “to encourage foreign vaccine manufacturers to establish domestic operations” on vaccine production in the Philippines, he said.

“We will achieve vaccine security and partner with domestic and international private pharmaceutical companies in developing our own capability in manufacturing vaccines domestically,” he added. “For 2023, we envision for self-sufficiency and readiness for the pandemic and other disasters with the modernization and integration of our healthcare system.”

With the ongoing negotiations of the Philippines for equitable vaccine acquisition, Galvez said the government has earmarked a total of PHP82.5 billion for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, of which PHP70 billion have been sourced out from various multilateral loans and assumed savings.

As seen above, the Philippines looked to the largest vaccine maker in India as a model for their plan. If vaccine production does push through in the country in the near future, it should create some new jobs and contribute somewhat to the economy. How much would vaccines cost when made here in the Philippines remains to be seen. The same also with how the national government will convince vaccine makers overseas to establish production lines in the country.

Meanwhile, I encourage you my readers to check out how much progress Israel has achieved with regards to combatting COVID-19, normalizing the lives of their people and setting the stage for an economic rebound. In relation to these details, the Jewish State will reopen its borders to foreign visitors who have already been vaccinated. This means visiting the Holy Land is possible once again for all those who seek the Lord. Israel is a bright example for the world and they deserve a lot of praise. Their success was acknowledged by veteran writer Boo Chanco.

Now if only the vaccines the national government paid for will somehow arrive as fast as possible. The Philippines still has a long way to go before achieving herd immunity and having both society and economy rebound at last from the COVID-19 crisis.

By the way, if you are a resident of Las Piñas City or Muntinlupa City, you can get yourselves registered for COVID-19 vaccines by reading the instructions and details here (Las Piñas) and here (Muntinlupa).

If you have something to say about the current situation of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, or within your city or local community, you may contact me directly online or comment below.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: Millions more vaccines coming to the Philippines

For those who are scared about the Department of Health’s (DOH) daily count of new COVID-19 (China Virus) cases in the Philippines averaging 10,000, there is this recent news from the national government that could put some at ease – many millions more vaccines are coming into the country in the months ahead.

The press release published through Philippine News Agency (PNA) states that the national government is working hard to ensure that millions of COVID-19 vaccines from four manufacturers will arrive soon plus even more will come after April. The announcement was made by vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr.

For more, read the excerpt posted below. Some parts are in bold…

The government is working hard to ensure that the country can secure almost 14 million vaccine doses from four vaccine manufacturers within the second quarter, said vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19.

“The global supply is limited but the government is doing its best to ensure that the country will have a fair share of the vaccines. The instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte is for Filipinos to be vaccinated and save more lives as we collectively surmount the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” Galvez said.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Galvez said the delivery of 1.5 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac is expected to be completed within April.

The government is expecting another 500,000 doses to be delivered on April 22, and another 500,000 doses on April 29.

Sinovac had shipped out 500,000 doses last April 11. These are on top of the 2 million doses that the Chinese vaccine maker had delivered to the country last February and March.

An initial 20,000 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V are also expected to arrive this week. The second tranche of 480,000 doses will be delivered before the end of April.

Galvez said the government is also expecting the shipment of 195,000 Pfizer vaccine doses by the end of April or early May.

He said there is also a possibility that AstraZeneca vaccines coming from the COVAX Facility will also arrive within the month.

For May, Galvez said the government expects at least 2 million doses of Sinovac vaccines to be delivered to the country, along with 1 to 2 million Sputnik V doses, and 194,000 Moderna doses.

He said the government is also working with the World Health Organization, GAVI, and UNICEF for the possible delivery of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines under the COVAX Facility.

Galvez said the government expects to receive 7 to 8 million vaccine doses in June. These include 4.5 million doses of CoronaVac, 2 million doses of Sputnik V, and 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca.

“With the arrival of these vaccines, we will continue our aggressive vaccine roll-out in the county to protect the Filipino from Covid-19,” Galvez said.

As of April 18, a total of 1,477,757 vaccine doses have been administered in the country. Currently, only medical front-liners, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities are being inoculated.

Starting mid-May or June, the government will allow the inoculation of other essential workers.

The Philippines ranks third among countries in Asean in the number of citizens that have been vaccinated, while the country has placed 41st out of 173 countries worldwide in the same category and 14th among 47 Asian nations.

At present, the government has signed contracts with five vaccine manufacturers, which include Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novovax and Gamaleya. Contracts with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer are being finalized.

Galvez said the country expects a steady supply of about 10 million to 15 million vaccine doses per month in the third and fourth quarters of this year. 

In response, Duterte lauded the government’s vaccination rollout, saying it is “more than an acceptable performance in the matter of the fight against Covid as far as the Philippines is concerned.”

“Maganda ang record natin (We have a good record) despite unfounded criticism…The Philippines was able to get the upper berth of the countries that are inoculated. Maganda ang record na ‘yan (That’s a good record) and to think people were almost in a quandary where to get the next vaccination,” the President said.

“Nakita mo naman hindi pala tayo ang pinakamahina at mataas ‘yung atin (We are not the weakest) and it goes to show that we are really working very hard especially Sec. Galvez to get the vaccines here in the Philippines on time,” he added.

Wow. That’s a lot of COVID-19 vaccines coming into the Philippines in the months to come. Achieving herd immunity for the Filipino people is the goal here and it is crucial not only for people’s lives but also for the economy. This China virus pandemic negatively impacted everyone and it even prevented people from heavily attending and worshiping the Lord together at churches. In the private sector, cinemas are still closed which took its toll on the 300,000 cinema industry workers.

While waiting for vaccines to arrive, residents of the cities of Muntinlupa and Las Las Piñas are encouraged to get themselves registered.

For Muntinlupa City, get the details here.

For Las Piñas City, get the details here.

Nationally, a total of 1,353,107 people have been vaccinated with a total of 1,562,563 COVID-19 vaccines as of April 20, 2021. Among those who got vaccinated were 989,703 healthcare workers.

If you have something to say about the current situation of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, or within your city or local community, you may contact me directly online or comment below.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

COVID-19 Crisis: Stricter quarantine outside of NCR Plus ruled out

Are you feeling tired of the restrictions that come with the quarantine for the past month? Moving from GCQ (general community quarantine) to ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and recently MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) made life in the so-called NCR Plus region (the National Capital Region plus the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal) a bit more complicated. Not only were people told to stay at home, there were several businesses that negatively got affected too.

As for those living outside the NCR Plus region, there has been fear brewing that they will find themselves living under a stricter quarantine soon. Those fears can be put to rest as Malacañang officially ruled out the possibility of a restrictive quarantine in communities and places outside of NCR Plus.

The brewing fear was the result of recent reports of the Department of Health (DOH) showing an increase of COVID-19 cases in five regions other than the National Capital Region and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the article published through Philippine News Agency (PNA).

In an online press briefing, Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there was an upward trend of Covid-19 infections in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Cordillera Administrative Region.

While the government is monitoring the situation in areas outside NCR Plus, it does not see the need to impose stricter quarantine rules in the entire Luzon, Roque said.

“Sa ngayon po, binabantayan naman po natin ang datos at wala pa naman pong ganoong conclusion ang nakikita natin. Ang talagang paglobo po ng mga kaso ay nandito sa NCR Plus. At kaya nga po ang response natin dito muna sa NCR Plus (As of now, we are monitoring the data and we have not arrived at a conclusion [to implement stricter quarantine measures in Luzon]. Rise in Covid-19 cases is seen in NCR Plus. So our response is focused on NCR Plus),” Roque said.

Roque added that the Covid-19 surge in other areas is not that “bad” unlike in NCR Plus.

“As I said, binabantayan din natin ang kaso sa iba’t ibang lugar ng Pilipinas pero so far po (we are monitoring the cases in different parts of the Philippines but so far), nothing as bad as what we are seeing in the NCR Plus,” he said.

Two weeks after being under the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are now under the less stringent modified ECQ (MECQ) until April 30.

Apart from NCR Plus, the City of Santiago in Isabela, Quirino province, and Abra are also under MECQ.

A more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) is imposed in Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, Lanao del Sur, and Quezon.

The rest of the country remains under modified GCQ.

So there you have it. The above news and details should remind you that it is essential to follow health protocols by means of sanitizing yourself frequently, wearing face masks and face shields, and practicing social distancing.

Please share this article to others so that they will know that no stricter quarantine is planned outside of NCR Plus.

Now if only more vaccines could be made available locally so that this China virus pandemic will stop…

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Buy-bust operation in Las Piñas City results two fatalities and over P200 million worth of suspected illegal substance seized

Following the anti-drug operations it pulled off in the cities of Parañaque and Pasay, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and its strategic partners scored another one with its buy-bust operation in the city of Las Piñas where they seized 31 kilograms of the suspected illegal substance referred to as shabu which was estimated to be worth P210 million. The same operation also resulted the deaths of two men.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the report published through Philippine News Agency (PNA)…

PNP Chief General Debold Sinas facing the media at the scene of the crime. (source – Philippine National Police Facebook page)

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, on Wednesday identified the slain suspects as Jen Jieko Amarga, alias Koy-koy and Coco Amarga, and Andrew Garcia.

Citing a report from the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG), Sinas said the two were known distributors of illegal drugs in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon and were connected to drug syndicates operating in the country.

“Their source of illegal drugs came from a certain Chinese national from the country of Myanmar and being discreetly transported to a warehouse somewhere in Pampanga,” he said.

The operation, conducted by police officers and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), started at about 10 p.m. along Sherack St. in Barangay Almanza Uno after a poseur buyer was able to convince the suspects to sell a kilogram of shabu worth PHP6.8 million.

Sinas said after the exchange of the shabu and the buy-bust money, the policemen declared that the suspects were being arrested.

“Nakipagbarilan sila, so namatay yung dalawang suspects (They shot it out with our personnel so they got killed),” he said.

The PDEG is conducting follow-up operations to find the suspects’ cohorts.

It is notable in the above news report that the illegal substance came from Myanmar handled by a still unidentified Chinese national. How it got smuggled all the way from Myanmar to Pampanga has yet to be explained. As for the two men who died and were alleged to be experienced distributors, it remains to be seen how their demise will impact the local drugs problem for at least the short term.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

500 LGUs reminded to automate biz one-stop shop this year

Are you a business owner who recently struggled with the processes at your local government unit (LGU) because their electronic Business One-Stop Shop (e-BOSS) did not function properly and proved to be inefficient? Perhaps they did not have an e-BOSS?

Here are some good news – a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) was approved yesterday designed to ensure that the e-BOSS systems of LGUs get automated this year.

To put things in perspective, e-BOSS uses the Electronic Business Permitting and Licensing System or eBPLS developed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology allowing the public to perform government transactions online. e-BOSS targets to fully automate transactions in LGUs from downloading of forms, using e-signature, up to online payment.

By comparison, the old system BOSS is defined as a single-window system that streamlines application forms and submission of documents in government offices in one window only.

Going back to the news related to the JCM, below is an excerpt from the news release published through Philippine News Agency (PNA). Some parts are in bold to highlight importance of details.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) director general Jeremiah Belgica targets to have at least 500 local government units (LGUs) rolling out the electronic Business One-Stop Shop (e-BOSS) by end-2021.

During the virtual signing ceremony of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 01-2021 Tuesday, ARTA reminded LGUs that they should have automated their BOSS before June 17 this year.

The JMC establishes the guidelines for processing business permits, related clearances, and licenses in all cities and municipalities.

“Hopefully by the end of the year, we will have 500 LGUs already automated by DICT’s (Department of Information and Communications Technology) IBPLS (Integrated Business Permits and Licensing System) software,” Belgica said.

DICT project manager for IBPLS Del Basada said the department has signed memoranda of agreement with 446 LGUs, of which more than 200 LGUs are already in the operational stage of the system.

“(We are) just making sure that everyone’s (is) onboard for IBPLS which is an online system. We look at their readiness first if they can adopt the system,” Basada said, adding the DICT is assisting LGUs in addressing challenges to do online transactions.

Meanwhile, Belgica said while the IBPLS software works well even with smaller LGUs, he urged highly urbanized cities to fast-track adopting the integrated system so they can go online for their BOSS before the June 17 deadline.

“We are encouraging the highly urbanized cities to actually automate the soonest because they have the most number of businesses,” he added.

Under the newly signed JMC, the e-BOSS should have the following functions: accepting electronic submission of application; electronic issuance of tax bill or order of payment; accepting online payment, releasing of electronic version of permits, licenses, and clearances; and providing gateway facility linked to courier service where applicant prefers hard copy of the documents.

The JMC also limits the documentary requirements and will implement a unified application form with a unique identification number.

ARTA reminds LGUs that they should not require notarization of the requirements.

It added barangay clearances related to business permit applications shall be integrated and processed by the Business Processing and Licensing Office. Number of signatories in the documents shall be limited to three.

So there you have it! An official document made it final that local government units should have the e-BOSS automated and functioning with the expected efficiency, transparency and results fulfilled. Given the fact that we are all still living under the pandemic of the China Virus (COVID-19), this latest development is indeed crucial and improvements on the part of LGUs should happen this year.

If you are a business owner who struggled with the processes at your local government and you wish to speak out, please post in the comments below. You can also send to me a private message.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: DTI says restaurants in MECQ areas are allowed to have outdoor dining

In what is clearly a move with economic recovery in mind, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez declared that restaurants (located in places under MECQ or modified enhanced community quarantine status) with outdoor dining services and set-ups are allowed to resume but with certain limitations.

To make things clear, below is an excerpt from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) article which was published just yesterday. For greater emphasis, some parts are in bold.

In a text message to reporters Sunday night, Lopez said food establishments with alfresco dining services are only allowed up to 50 percent capacity, with diagonal seating arrangement and acrylic dividers on tables.

He added that indoor dine-in services are still not allowed in areas under MECQ, but food establishments can continue to operate with their take-out and delivery services.

From April 12 to 30, the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal or the NCR Plus as well as Santiago City in Isabela, and the provinces of Quirino and Abra were also placed under MECQ.

Earlier, the DTI chief said that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) might be sensitive in allowing indoor dine-in due to the highly contagious new variants of Covid-19.

“The IATF recommended to the President to shift to MECQ after two weeks of ECQ to restore more jobs and livelihood for the people,” Lopez said.

Clearly the local authorities are trying hard to balance themselves between economics and public health as new cases of COVID-19 (China Virus) continue to be counted in very high numbers on a daily basis in recent times. On April 2, the count of infections reached over 15,000.

Going back to the issue of allowing restaurants with outdoor dining (AKA alfresco) within the MECQ areas, it is good news that they are allowed to resume operations. It will still be a challenge for food establishments to attract enough paying customers and make their business’ financial ends meet.

On a personal experience, I love eating ramen and Tsukemen at Sigekiya Ramen in Alabang. I prefer that such meals would be cooked by the restaurant and be served to me at a table at their place. The alternative of taking the cooked ramen out and consume it at home is just not a convincing option for me because ramen is meant to be consumed quickly while it is hot. The alternative of taking home ingredients and noodles, and have them cooked at home does not appeal to me as I prefer Sigekiya’s cooks make the meal I paid for.

A delicious meal like this one is best to be eaten at the restaurant, even outdoors.

Also located in Alabang is the local branch of Akrotiri, a really fine restaurant that serves authentic Greek meals that my family and friends enjoyed. They also have meals that, in my opinion, are best consumed at their place and their Alabang branch (Commercenter to be precise) has space for outdoor dining. It was at Akrotiri Alabang where I treated 2019 SEA Games gold medalist Kim Mangrobang to a meal and organized an exclusive interview with her. They really have a fine-looking place. Visit their website at https://akrotiri.ph/

It is important to keep in mind that restaurants around the nation have struggled a lot since the pandemic started last year. These business establishments are also struggling with retaining their respective employees, notably their cooks, the baristas, waiters and waitresses. Remember that the meals and drinks you enjoy would not be the same when the people who prepared them get laid off.

With the DTI’s declaration of allowing food establishments with outdoor dining setups and services to resume, I encourage you my readers to consider supporting these businesses for your food and beverage needs. If you can’t have a meal with the family outdoors, perhaps you can push through with a business meeting with a corporate associate or reunite with your friend or relative with the outdoor setting of a restaurant while adhering to health protocols (wearing face masks, face shields, sanitizing yourselves, etc.). 

Now, let’s observe how the mayors, the barangay captains and other local authorities in MECQ areas will react to DTI’s declaration. You also might want to check with the local restaurants and coffee shops if they allow outdoor dining. Consider taking time out to call them or verify on their respective social media channels/accounts to see if outdoor dining is allowed.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673