The Palace on Monday, February 15, 2021, underscored that the reopening of traditional cinemas is set on March 1, 2021 and is still subject to consultations with the local chief executives of Metro Manila and to the guidelines that will be crafted by the concerned implementing agencies and the local government units (LGUs) of the National Capital Region.
“Ngayon po ang status nito, ang pagpapatupad po ng pagbubukas ng sinehan kung matutuloy po ay Marso a-uno,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.
The Palace official added that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) respects the position of LGUs with regard to the reopening of the cinemas adding that consultations with local chief executives have to continue before cinemas reopen, “Nirerespeto po ng IATF ang posisyon ng ating mga alkalde lalong-lalo na dito sa Metro Manila. Kaya nga po sa Resolution nakasaad po yun, ito po ay magiging epektibo matapos po ang mga guidelines na ii-isyu ng mga lokal na pamahalaan lalo na sa pagdating sa seating capacity ng mga sinehan.”
Secretary Roque, who is the concurrent IATF Spokesperson, stressed that the IATF and the local chief executives remain united in the goal of reopening the economy.
“Hindi po nagsasabong ang IATF at ang inyong mga alkalde. Nagkakaisa po kami na kinakailangan buksan unti-unti ang ekonomiya dahil mas marami na po ngayon ang nagugutom kesa dun sa mga nagkakasakit o namamatay dahil nga po sa COVID,” Sec. Roque remarked.
Secretary Roque also quipped that both the IATF and the mayors agree that the minimum public health standards should not be relaxed regardless of the level of economic reopening. “Kinakailangan po kahit anong pagbubukas ng ekonomiya meron pa ring mask, hugas, at iwas,” said Roque.
Dr. Minguita Padilla, an associate professor at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, who was a resource person in the said press briefing, suggested the putting up of outdoor cinemas instead of opening air-conditioned, indoor cinemas. Dr. Padilla said that the government can still help the cinema industry by utilizing parks, empty lots, and the like as outdoor cinema venues to give people more confidence to go to the movies.
Meanwhile, on the issue of indemnification or compensation for those who will develop extreme adverse effects because of a COVID-19 vaccine, Roque said that it is the Philippine government that should shoulder citing the Universal Health Care Act, “The essence of universal healthcare is we have single purchaser of all medical goods and services, so pagdating sa side effects, syempre ang magbibigay pa rin po ay ang PhilHealth.”
Dr. Ernesto Domingo, a Ramon Magsaysay Award recipient, who was also convenor of the Universal Health Care Study Group, agreed that it should be the PhilHealth who should pay for those who will experience adverse side effects. Dr. Domingo, who was also a resource person in the same press briefing, said that once an individual experiences side effect, it is already considered an illness and should receive support from the government.
On the matter of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s latest remark on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the President’s spokesman said that the Chief Executive has the nation’s interest in mind. “Pilipinas, sagot po tayo ni Presidente. Alam po niya ang pang nasyonal na interest. Ipaglalaban niya ang ating nasyonal na interes,” said Roque.
Secretary Roque added that it is President Duterte’s belief that the United States has to pay for compensation in exchange for their military presence in the Philippines.
Roque, citing the study “Counterterrorism Spending: Protecting America While Promoting Efficiencies and Accountability,” which was conducted by the Stimson Center, underscored that the Philippines as a longstanding ally of the U.S., wherein Filipino soldiers fought alongside their American counterparts in the war, is receiving compensation which is much lower, compared to other countries who are relatively new allies of the U.S.
Meanwhile, on the issue of the Lopezes and their transaction with the Development Bank of the Philippines and Lehman Brothers in its Special Purpose Vehicle or SPV, Roque said that the President is leaving it up to the Ombudsman to investigate the matter.
“Ang sabi ng Presidente, hayaan na natin ang Ombudsman na mag-imbestiga, pero sa ating anti-graft law, meron po tayong tinatawag na entering into a contract prejudicial to government,” Roque said. ### OPS-PCOO.