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Samuel Medenilla

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NVOC: Booster shots needed to prevent possible Covid surge after May polls

The waning effectivity of Covid vaccines could leave even fully inoculated individuals vulnerable to the virus, according to the National Vaccination Operation Center (NVOC). 

NVOC chairperson Myrna C. Cabotaje made the warning, noting the low number of fully vaccinated people availing of booster shots.  

Of the 67 million who have completed their Covid-19 primary doses, only 12.69 million got their booster jabs. 

“The additional protection is necessary since we know the immunity from vaccines wane as time goes by,” Cabotaje said. 

She expressed her concern this could leave many people vulnerable to Covid-19 with the expected surge in infections next month after the May 9, 2022 polls, which health official are considering as a superspreader event. 

The Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) already projected active Covid-19 cases could reach as high as 300,000 by mid year if there will be lax compliance to minimum health standards in the coming days. 

Cabotaje said they are trying to increase the number of booster shot availment through their proposal to make it a requirement before a person’s vaccine status will be  considered “updated.” 

Currently, the health official lamented that the pace of the government’s vaccination drive slowed down as fewer people are now availing of Covid-19 jabs.

She said this now makes it unlikely for them to reach their goal of inoculating 90 million by July. 

“We are now looking at the 77 million to be fully vaccinated and then improving our booster doses,” Cabotaje said. 

“So, that will mean about 900,000 jabs per day. So, we really need to-ramp-up our vaccination drive,” she added.

Comelec to politicians: LGUs, health bodies can flag you for events

EVEN if campaign rules are still not in effect, the Commission on Elections has warned aspiring candidates in the 2022 polls they could still be held accountable for violating minimum health standards during the pandemic, as it noted recent events of aspirants that drew huge crowds. This means, he said, it’s the local governments and health authorities, not Comelec, that can move against them.

Duterte claims he was able to fulfill most of his campaign promises during his term

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday claimed he was able to fulfill most of his campaign promises to the public during his term.

During his speech at the inauguration of Zamboanga City Seaport Development Project on Thursday, Duterte said he decided to end peace negotiation with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) after it allegedly took advantage of his good faith. 

He cited how the three Cabinet positions he offered to representatives of NDF-CPP-NPA were supposedly used by communist leaders to siphon funds from the government.  

“They did nothing but use the funds of their offices and send it to the other side. That is why I removed all of them,” Duterte said. 

To note, Duterte appointed Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, upon the recommendation of NDF.

Mariano and Taguiwalo was removed from their Cabinet positions after their  appointments were rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

Meanwhile, Maza decided to later resign from her post. 

Duterte also recalled how CPP executives Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, whom he allowed to be released from detention to participate in the peace talks later, are now missing after the government peace talks with NDF collapsed. 

He was also irked on how the NDF-CPP-NPA wants to have a hand in government leadership without being elected by the people.  

Despite his frustration on the failed peace talks, Duterte said he still managed to deliver many of his campaign promises, which includes combating illegal drugs, large scale infrastructure projects, 

“But I said my term is nearing its end. I can say with with a little bit of pride that almost all of the things, which I promised were fulfilled,” Duterte said.  

Comelec: BBM case to take at least six weeks to resolve

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) will fast-track action on a disqualification case filed by various groups against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., but the earliest estimate for a resolution could be sometime in “late December” as the process, if followed, takes at least six weeks.

‘Antiquated’ poll code needs overhaul—Guia

THE misuse of candidate substitution, unregulated online and social media advertising, legislative hurdles for online voting are just among the symptoms of an “antiquated” Election Code, which needs a long-overdue update, according to a former Commission on Elections executive.

Duterte ready to defend before SC order barring Cabinet from Senate probe

President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he is ready to defend before the Supreme Court (SC) his order banning Cabinet officials from attending the Senate’s investigation on the government’s procurement of medical supplies from Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation. 

Duterte issued the statement during his public address last Monday after lauding the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee move to question the legality of his order before the High Court. 

“We welcome this move of bringing the legality of the memorandum to the Supreme Court and we would like to congratulate the members for realizing, albeit late…that it is the court which should eventually decide on the constitutionality of the order and we will defend it,” Duterte said. 

“This is by far the most decent thing for the committee,” he added. 

To note, Duterte issued a memorandum earlier this month supposedly to prevent the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee from wasting the time of Cabinet officials in its Pharmally probe. 

Senators and other groups have demanded for Duterte to scrap the order, which they claimed prevents the investigation on the alleged anomalies in Pharmally’s transaction with the government. 

In response, Duterte challenged the Senate to bring the issue to the Supreme Court instead so it could be put on record, Gordon supposedly mistreated Cabinet members with his “discourteous” questioning.   

“It’s a question of law, an issue of law and you know it could either go either way. You win, you lose,” Duterte said.

Comelec set to issue new campaign rules for 2022 elections

Candidates in the 2022 polls could expect major changes in the conduct of their campaigns under the new guidelines to be issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) this week. 

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez hinted the new campaign rules for the 2022 elections will be much different compared to previous polls.

“I guess  a lot of people will be hit by some scrambling in terms of modifying how they could conduct their campaigns because there will be some major changes,” Jimenez said in a virtual town hall meeting last Tuesday.  

He said the new campaign guidelines will likely be issued before the end of the month. 

Last month, Comelec already disclosed to lawmakers some of the proposed revision in its campaign rules to minimize the possible spread of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19). 

Among the proposed rules include a ban on physical contacts between candidates with potential voters, use of live streaming and online rallies, a lean contingent for physical rallies, and an emphasis on the compliance to minimum health standards. 
 
Some lawmakers questioned the practicality of the said rules particularly the 10 percent venue capacity limit for physical election-related gatherings.