Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr reiterated that Christmas parties involving large number of people, as well as caroling are not allowed during this Christmas season in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
During a press briefing on December 1, Secretary Roque underscored the remarks of Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año during a meeting with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on November 30, that Christmas parties, as well as family reunions are also considered as mass gatherings.
“Ang Christmas parties po na malawakan, prohibited po yan. Yung mga pagdidiwang sana nga po maliliit na pamilya lamang,” said Secretary Roque.
The Palace official reminded the public that under the general community quarantine (GCQ) classification, gathering is allowed for up to 10 persons only. “Kapag indoors po, limited pa rin tayo to 10,” he explained.
People who will be caught in mass gatherings during the Christmas season will be dealt according to the local ordinance that will be crafted, said Secretary Roque. “At the very minimum, they will be asked to disassemble. Pero depende rin po sa ordinansa kase wala po tayong pang-nasyonal na batas tungkol rito. Pupwede po sigurong fine kung yan po ay provided in a local ordinance, pupwedeng ibang parusa na nakalagay po sa local ordinance,” he explained.
The Cabinet member also affirmed the announcement of Secretary Año on allowing children in malls as long as they are accompanied by parents. This will take effect once the local government units issued their respective ordinances. “Maglalabas ang kani-kaniyang mga lokal na pamahalaan ng rules tungkol dito, at saka magkakaroon din po ng guidelines ang Metro Manila Council,” said Sec. Roque.
On the matter of vaccines and vaccination, Dr. Lulu Bravo, professor emeritus from the University of the Philippines Manila, encouraged the government to restore public trust, confidence, and acceptance on vaccination. Dr. Bravo also asked the media to help communicate the value of vaccination and the consequences of non-vaccination to individuals, families, tourism, security, and the economy by helping increase people’s understanding on the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
In the same press briefing, Roque addressed the issue on the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC). He said that the P33-Billion funds in question is undergoing different stages of procurement.
“Unang-una po, naanunsyo na po ni Sec [Ramon] Lopez na bagamat sa legal charter po ng PITC ay pupuwede nilang kunin yung interes sa P33 billion at ang binibigay lang ngayon sa national government ay 50 percent, dahil nga po ay kinakailangan natin ng pondo para sa COVID, ibibigay na nila 100 percent na tinubo yung P33 billion,” Roque said.
He further explained that the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Finance, in coordination with concerned agencies, will determine which projects would be continued and/or discontinued. For those projects that would be discontinued, the principal which was held in trust would be returned /remitted to the Bureau of Treasury.
Meanwhile, Roque explained the Cebu event adding that he reminded the public in attendance to observe proper distancing and welcomed an investigation on the incident to help clarify the issue. The Cabinet official likewise showed images of Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo shaking hands with a group of people, which is a clear violation of existing health protocols. ### OPS-PCOO