DAVILA: Good morning to you, Secretary Nograles.
CABSEC NOGRALES: Magandang umaga sa’yo, Karen. At magandang umaga sa lahat ng nanunood ngayon. Good morning.
DAVILA: All right. Magandang umaga, sir. Let’s talk about the new alert levels starting December 1, give us a run-through of it?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Well, to put it simply, iyong province of Apayao, iyon na lamang po ang naiiwan sa Alert Level 3. Every province, highly urbanized cities and independent component cities, lahat po sa buong Pilipinas ay naka-Alert Level 2 na po.
DAVILA: And with the fear of the Omicron variant, although we have not yet detected case in the Philippines, will this affect how people will be celebrating Christmas in Alert Level 2 areas?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Well, right now, nandiyan naman iyong guidelines natin ‘no for Alert Level 2. But I think, apart from just looking at iyong “Number 1, Number 2, Number 3”, kung ano iyong allowed na 50% capacity indoors, ang dapat sigurong pagtuunan natin ng pansin iyong MPHS – iyong minimum public health standards. Nakalagay kasi doon which minsan nakakalimutan natin na bagama’t 50% na iyong indoor plus kung mayroong mang Safety Seal ay madadagdagan pa ng plus 10%, iyong tignan po natin iyong MPHS, minimum public health standards. Sinasabi naman ng mga eksperto natin, bagama’t may banta ng Omicron, whatever variant there is, whatever type of variant na mayroon tayo dito sa COVID-19, iyong pagsuot po ng mask ay talagang napakaimportante; iyong pagsuot ng mask, hugas, iwas and then, of course, bakuna.
And that is the reason why nira-ramp up natin iyong vaccination natin, mayroon tayong three-day vaccination days. Today is the third day ng three-day vaccination days. So I would like to appeal to all the employers, especially ‘no kung mayroon kayong [garbled] for all of this ‘no is again to add the defense against Omicron and whatever variants there are. Napakaganda po ng bilang na nakikita natin ‘no. Ang ni-report kanina, 425, biruin mo 425 yesterday iyong new cases; iyong active cases natin, 15,800, and it’s going down and down and down. So we’re hopeful that this will continue so that we could really get back to the … go to the new normal way of living and finding jobs, children going to school ‘no and, you know, getting back to work.
DAVILA: Oo. So, Secretary, there is a possibility, I was going to ask you that of technically extending the National Vaccination Days or in this case, you’ve said, assigning new National Vaccination Days?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Yes. So 15, 16, 17 is the indicative date na tinitingnan namin. Again, we will leave it up to the NVOC and the National Task Force to determine. But basically, the idea really is to continue to ramp up ‘no.
Iyong 2.55 million natin, bagama’t it’s short of the three million that we’ve pegged as a target for Day 1, it still remains to be ‘no because of that, we are now part of the top 5 in a single day na nagkaroon ng ganiyang karaming nabakunahan in one day. So it means that it’s working. Marami pang gustong magpabakuna, marami pa ang puwede pa nating ma-push at maengganyo na magpabakuna, so we will assess the numbers and then we’ll move after our assessment.
DAVILA: And the DOH also said, some of the major challenges, and I want to ask you how this can be addressed, tama po kayo, maraming gustong magpabakuna but apparently the Pfizer syringes didn’t arrive on time and there were many that wanted to get vaccinated but they weren’t accommodated. So there were major challenges when it comes to servicing more people.
CABSEC NOGRALES: Yes, that’s the reason why, obviously on the first day, you will see the challenges ‘no. No matter how much you prepare on the ground, magkakaroon ka talaga ng mga local challenges which we’ve resolved for Day 2 and Day 3 as far as mga walk-ins are concerned. So we are accepting walk-ins because we want to encourage more vaccinees, more people to get vaccinated.
So a bit of confusion on the ground, a little bit, but that’s been resolved. As far as the syringes are concerned, yes, medyo late dumating but that’s the reason why we made some adjustments in terms of the targets. But that being said, we will improve even more. And that’s not to say, titigil tayo because after today, magpapatuloy pa rin naman ‘no ang vaccination rollouts na gagawin natin sa iba’t ibang lugar ng bansa.
DAVILA: Oo. Secretary, tanong ko lang, matapos ang three-day vaccination drive, bakit hindi na lang po ituluy-tuloy everyday na walk-in na lang po ang vaccination kada LGU, ‘di ba? Iyon ang puwede rin eh.
CABSEC NOGRALES: Yes, so on the ground really it’s really up to the LGUs to make the adjustments as they see it fit doon sa ground ‘no. But we’ve always been pushing the LGUs whatever you can do to encourage more people to get vaccinated, gawin na natin. We’ve actually opened vaccination to many of our countrymen and countrywomen ‘no, ang ating mga kababayan. And so because we have so many vaccines, mataas ang ating vaccine supply, then we can be as open as…and the LGUs can be as open as they can as long as you stick lang to the protocols.
DAVILA: Oo. May nagtatanong dito, Secretary, just to clarify: Can you please ask Secretary Nograles, are booster shots allowed for anyone at this point during the National Vaccination Days?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Anyone? So ang question kasi is I guess the question is, do we go beyond A3, ano? Ayaw kong pangunahan ang FDA ha, but let’s wait for the FDA to announce, ang gusto ko lang sabihin ay napag-usapan na namin ito sa loob ng IATF and we’re just waiting for FDA to make that announcement. But there’s already a conversation between the IATF and FDA with regard to beyond A3 for booster shots.
So again, abangan na lang natin. Let’s wait for FDA. Ayaw ko rin silang pangunahan kasi naka-EUA ang lahat ng mga vaccines so we have to wait for FDA’s announcement.
DAVILA: Sa ngayon po kasi ang puwedeng booster shots are frontliners, seniors and those with comorbidities puwede ‘no kahit hindi po seniors?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Yes. And then, iyong tinitingnan diyan sa boosters, iyong six months. So right now, those getting boosters dito sa National Vaccination Days natin and beyond, ang unang titingnan diyan ay kung naka-six months na ba.
DAVILA: Okay. Now, let’s talk about Filipinos coming back to the Philippines. Ang daming nagtatanong dito, of course, regarding the new protocols so the Philippines, of course, has postponed re-opening to tourists, that’s a given. But when it comes to returning Filipinos, galing po sa Amerika, galing sa Saudi Arabia, magpa-Pasko na, galing pong Europa, ano na po ang bagong protocol?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Okay, so para hindi na tayo ma-confuse doon sa green and yellow, iyong green and yellow countries na na-announce before, they all follow the yellow list protocols, okay. So iyong yellow list protocols is, first, iyong 72 hours prior to departure from the yellow or green list countries, kailangan may RT-PCR, 72 hours. And then, facility-based quarantine, you get your RT-PCR on the third day. And as soon as—
DAVILA: First day upon staying in the hotel?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Oo, so Day 1 being the day of arrival. And then third day, RT-PCR. If you are negative, then you can do—these are, again, for fully vaccinated individuals.
DAVILA: Yes, oo.
CABSEC NOGRALES: So, only vaccinated individuals, 72 hours prior to your flight, get your RT-PCR; negative, then you board the plane; arrive, quarantine ka, facility-based quarantine; and then on the third day, RT-PCR. And then, if you are negative, then you continue self-monitoring until 14 days.
If you are unable to get an RT-PCR 72 hours before your flight, then pagdating mo sa Pilipinas, mag-facility-based quarantine ka and then on the 5th day iyong RT-PCR mo.
DAVILA: I see. So kumbaga, ang RT-PCR, let’s say, galing kang San Francisco or L.A. – maraming Pilipino ‘di ba – so kapag nag-RT-PCR ka, 72 hours that is something you show upon arrival not necessarily boarding the plane?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Yeah, but as long as—our protocols kasi is that, pagdating mo, pakita mo and then 3-day facility-based ka; mag-RT-PCR ka on the third day.
DAVILA: Oo. So kapag nag-RT-PCR ka on the third day, Secretary, does that mean you will be staying overnight in the hotel or within the third day, nakakapag-release na po ng results ng RT-PCR?
CABSEC NOGRALES: Well, depends on how fast you can get your results ‘no. The faster you get the results, then the faster you can leave the facility and do self-monitoring. These are for, again, fully vaccinated.
Kapag unvaccinated naman or you cannot show that you are … you cannot prove that you are fully vaccinated, the rule is you do a facility-based quarantine and then we swab you, RT-PCR, on the 7th day — iyong ay for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated or cannot show proof of vaccination.
DAVILA: Clearly, for the fully vaccinated, the protocols, the quarantine protocols have been much shorter. Is there a penalty for hotels, these facilities that do not follow and release travelers at a much earlier date?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Ah, yes. With penalty, DOJ na bahala. DOJ will in any violation, we are under a public health emergency and we are governed by a very strict laws right now especially, so anyone that cheats the system will be penalized accordingly.
KAREN DAVILA: May narinig na po ba kayong ganoon, Secretary?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Tsismis, tsismis. But I haven’t seen proof yet.
KAREN DAVILA: Oo, okay. Now, another issue is the possible return of the mandatory use of face shields. You have some sectors already said, this is a knee-jerk reaction considering wala ngang Omicron sa Pilipinas and not only that, may travel ban for foreigners. So, what is the possibility of this mandatory return?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Right now, it’s still being discussed ‘no, it’s still being discussed in different, in closed settings ‘no. Sa close settings kasi iyong pinag-uusapan kung kailangan. But one thing is for sure, based on our latest IATF resolutions, employers and establishment may require face shields for the protections of customers or their clientele or their employees. So right now, the rule is for Alert Level 2 ha. I talk about Alert Level 2.
KAREN DAVILA: Since it’s up to the private sector?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Alert Level 3 yes, except in healthcare settings. So, in healthcare settings, mandatory iyan. But right now, because we only have Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 3, right now in the Philippines, currently. So, kapag healthcare settings required ‘no, hospitals, healthcare settings required iyan. For employers and establishments, it’s up to them to require. So now, ang pag-uusapan naman natin.
KAREN DAVILA: So, let’s say ang malls. A very interesting point ito, because of course ang restaurants kahit indoors you’re bound to take off your face shield and mask because you’re eating. Pero ang malls, are you saying that a specific mall can say, “We decided kailangan po naka-face shield kayo pagpasok.”
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Yes.
KAREN DAVILA: Puwede ng ganoon?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Yes, we had that discussion before no. So, ang naging decision ng IATF is, its discretion ng establishment because sometimes the establishments might, well first of all, would believe it’s better protection for their customers, their clientele and their employees and it’s really up to them because sometimes some people might feel more comfortable kung mas strict iyong establishments.
So, it’s discretion ng mall. It’s discretion ng establishment. But right now, the question nga is will there be any changes? I don’t know, let’s wait. Kasi may Omicron, we will have to look where this goes if magkakaroon ng Omicron, we’ll have to monitor developments very closely. But right now, ang status quo is voluntary siya, voluntary siya again but the establishment may mandate it. But for sure sa healthcare settings it is mandated. Pero, iyong face mask mandated iyan. That’s a given!
KAREN DAVILA: Mandated iyon, oo. In terms of mandatory vaccination, I know this has been discussed for a long time and debated upon, but there are areas in the United States for example, where vaccination had been made mandatory. Is that possible in the Philippines?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Well, right now it’s not yet. We’ll need a law, we will need a law for that. I heard Secretary Año, saying that he can also, we can even leave it up to the LGUs if they want to make it mandatory, if they feel that there’s that need to push it. Kami sa IATF, we continue to discuss it. Ayaw rin namin pangunahan kasi iyong Kongreso and we discuss it in the context of many things ‘no.
Number 1 is, ang ating vaccination rate, how fast no? Kaya, importante itong vaccination days natin eh, and then of course in light of new variants that would come in, in light the science of this new variants. So it’s an ongoing discussion in the IATF, pero ayaw din namin pangunahan ang Kongreso at ayaw rin namin pangunahan ang mga LGUs, kasi baka some LGUs might feel the need to really push it some more. So, we will see what the data is and then we will proceed from there.
KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Here’s another suggestion from a viewer: Why not distribute all for testing? I guess, why not distribute all testing to all testing facilities like PCMC, Sofitel testing etc., so mabilis ang mga resulta?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: If you’re talking about RT-PCR, it’s not a simple as that eh, hindi naman kaagad-agad nabibigyan ng permiso ang isang laboratoryo and hindi agad-agad puwede kang magpatayo ng laboratory. There’s training, there a lot of requirements needed before a lab is allowed to do RT-PCR, especially in light of these Omicron variant.
Meaning to say, importante rin iyong RT-PCR for whole genome sequencing, and that it’s very technical, it’s a skill required. Some skill sets required and of course a lot of professionalism required in putting up a lab and knowing how to do RT-PCR, hindi po ganoon kadali, it’s not antigen. Sa antigen by the way, you cannot do whole genome sequencing with antigen. That’s why RT-PCR is very important so we can detect kung may local transmission of Omicron or the other variants like Delta.
KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Now, moving on to other areas, just very quickly, you are also the executive vice president of PDP-Laban, so I really do have to ask this question. What happens to the ruling party now that you don’t have a presidential candidate or even a vice presidential candidate?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Well, may mga series of meeting na gaganapin in PDP Laban as far as the execom is concerned and as far as the national council is concerned. Again, this is a very new development on the ground.
Politically speaking as well, of course, kailangan may formal din iyan ano, we are also awaiting the formal withdrawal if at all it happens. But just the same, because an announcement has been made, then the PDP Laban has to meet and look at its options again and then will make a statement immediately after we’ve come into agreement.
KAREN DAVILA: Oo. Just a follow up question on this. Does this automatically mean that PDP-Laban support or adoption would go to Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte as a tandem?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Let’s wait for the statement of PDP-Laban and the decision ng partido ‘no, because we have not yet made that decision. So, hintayin muna natin ang magiging decision ng partido pati ng ating mga kapartido. Kasi, kailangan dumaan din sa proseso iyan eh.
KAREN DAVILA: Most likely, you will not field at this point, I’m curious, most likely you will not field another presidential candidate? Well, of course it’s not possible anymore.
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Not possible anymore.
KAREN DAVILA: Yes, yes.
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Not possible anymore, wala nang substitution number one. So, it’s a technically speaking, dahil wala pong substitution, then ang option namin is to adopt.
KAREN DAVILA: Oo, to adopt. So, my last question on this, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno was asked yesterday. Paano kung ikaw ang endorsohin ng Pangulo, which would mean ang PDP-Laban as a whole and he said I will not turn it down. So, can we at least narrow it down, is it between Bongbong Marcos and Isko Moreno? Or is Manny Pacquiao still a possibility, considering the President and Manny have actually mended ties?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Again, ayaw kong pangunahan ang PDP-Laban kasi mag-uusap pa kami at magdidesisyon. So, may series of meetings pa ang PDP-Laban.
KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Another question as a spokesman now of the President, has he said anything about the US indictment against Pastor Quiboloy, considering they are good friends?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: No, not to me personally, wala pa siyang binabanggit. But the President will execute the laws accordingly.
KAREN DAVILA: Oo. So, there will be no effort to protect. What I’m trying to say on the side of the Philippine government or Malacañang in case he will be extradited.
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Alam mo, si Pangulo is a lawyer and former prosecutor at that. And now he is our Chief Executive of the entire country, so he will execute the laws accordingly.
KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Another question from our viewer here. Please ask Secretary Nograles. Do our authorities on arrival understand that passengers leaving the US lose two days because of the times of crossing when they check the 72-hour rule for PCR Testing before departure? So, kung baga ang tanong, nagkakaproblema ba pagdating sa Pilipinas na o hindi ito 72 hours, etc.?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Ah, wala naman sa time zone iyan. Bibilangin mo iyong hours. It’s the hours, if it’s 72 hours.
KAREN DAVILA: Before flying?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: That’s a fixed, ano. So, that’s why we put the 72-hour rule doon and I don’t think there is really a problem getting RT-PCR Test from the United States. So, for those traveling, make the proper adjustments and count the number of hours.
KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Any more announcements, Secretary, before we go?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Well, we have an IATF meeting on Thursday and so we will be releasing resolutions, new resolutions after the meeting ng IATF on Thursday. So, presumably by Friday mayroon po tayong mga bagong announcements.
KAREN DAVILA: Oo. At another additional question just for clarification. When it comes to public transportation, are the plastic barriers still a requirement?
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: I think the DOTr has clarified that already and even the Department of Health ‘no, it’s not a requirement per se. Iyong mga plastic barrier sa jeepneys, I believe in fact some jeepneys, many jeepneys have removed the plastic barriers already.
KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Thank you so much Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles for joining us this morning. Good luck to you, Sir, stay safe.
SEC. KARLO NOGRALES: Maraming salamat, Karen. God bless. Stay safe, everyone – mask, hugas, iwas, bakuna.
SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)