Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacañang

CABSEC NOGRALES: Magandang tanghali po sa ating mga kababayan at sa mga miyembro ng Malacañang Press Corps.

Before we begin, I would like to mark our first briefing this December by greeting all of you a Merry Christmas and by hoping that the holidays are happy for everyone. Lalo na po sa mga taga-MPC, sana po hindi malamig ang inyong Pasko.

Now, onto the business of the day: Yesterday, the Inter-Agency Task Force convened and approved the following resolutions: Una, inaprubahan ng IATF ang pagbaba ng alert level ng Probinsiya ng Apayao mula Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 simula ngayong araw, a-tres ng Disyembre hanggang a-kinse ng Disyembre 2021, ito ay matapos amyendahan ng IATF ang metrics ng alert level classifications ng provinces, highly urbanized cities at independent component cities. Amendments include removing the one-week growth rate as a metric for escalation from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2; the escalation of areas under Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 2 if either case classification or total COVID-19 bed utilization increase to moderate risk or higher; and the escalation of areas under Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3 if both case classification and total COVID-19 bed utilization are at moderate risk or if case classification is at high to critical risk.

Mamaya ay makakasama natin ang direktor ng Epidemiology Bureau ng DOH si Dr. Alethea de Guzman para ipaliwanag po ito.

This latest development means that as of today, no province or city is under Alert Level 3. Nasa ilalim na po ng Alert Level 2 ang buong bansa. Sana po tuluy-tuloy ito para maging tunay na maligaya ang Pasko para sa ating mga kababayan.

Inaprubahan din ng IATF epektibo ngayong araw, a-tres ng Disyembre, ang bagong testing at quarantine protocols para sa paparating na international passengers na manggagaling sa mga lugar na hindi classified as red list. We have revised the testing and quarantine protocols for international passengers coming from countries not in the red list.

Para sa fully vaccinated individuals: They shall be required to have a negative RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from country of origin. Upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test taken on the fifth day with date of arrival being the first day. Regardless of a negative result, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from date of arrival.

Sa mga unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or whose vaccination status cannot be independently validated: They shall be required a negative RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure from country of origin. Then upon arrival in the Philippines, they shall undergo facility-based quarantine with an RT-PCR test done on the seventh day with date of arrival being the first day. Regardless of a negative result, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine up to the 14th day from date of arrival.

Susundin naman ng mga menor de edad ang testing at quarantine protocols ng magulang or guardian na kasama nilang bumiyahe anuman ang vaccination status ng bata at country of origin.

Sa mga pasaherong dumating na sa bansa at kasalukuyang naka-quarantine, ang testing at quarantine protocols na umiiral nang sila ay dumating ang siyang susundin. Those currently undergoing quarantine will follow the quarantine guidelines in place when they arrived in the country.

Sa ating mga kababayan na may mga kamag-anak o minamahal abroad na may balak umuwi ngayong Pasko, sana ay maintindihan po natin kung bakit natin kailangang i-revise ang guidelines. Whatever changes or amendments adapted are prompted by a continuous assessment of prevailing conditions. Tuluy-tuloy po ang assessment natin ng mga developments sa buong mundo. When they are developments that merit the adoption of a more cautious approach to the entry of individuals from overseas, the IATF will recommend what is necessary to safeguard the health of our people. Uulitin ko po: Ginagawa po natin ito para protektahan ang ating mga kababayan!

Sa mga Pilipinong nasa red list na pinapayagang makapasok sa Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng government initiated or non-government repatriations at bayanihan flights ay pinapayagan silang lumapag sa bansa nguni’t sa Ninoy Aquino International Airport or Clark International Airport lamang. Inaatasan ang Department of Transportation sa pamamagitan ng kanilang attached agencies na tiyaking sinusunod ng mga airlines ang direktibang ito.

Pagdating ng Pilipinas, kailangan nilang sumunod sa testing at quarantine protocols as prescribed under IATF Resolution # 149-A Series of 2021.

Samantala, sa mga stranded nating kababayan sa Europa na nangangailangan ng emergency assistance o nais bumalik sa Pilipinas, you are advised to contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate General in the area. Naka-flash po sa inyong screen ang contact details ng ating Philippine mission sa Europa.

The IATF also approved the recommendations to strengthen active case finding and healthcare system capacity. These include directing the National Task Force Against COVID-19 Task Group on the Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos to ensure that all positive samples of arrivals from November 1, 2021 and onwards that are eligible for sequencing are immediately, immediately submitted to the University of the Philippines-Philippine Genome Center, and the required data reported to the Department of Health-Epidemiology Bureau.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is likewise directed to enjoin local government units to initiate active case finding and immediately, immediately flag clusters or increasing cases, and immediately submit eligible samples for sequencing.

Meanwhile, the One Hospital Command Center of the Department of Health and such other respective agencies are directed to conduct inventory of the health system capacity to ensure adequate resources are available in instances that spikes of cases will occur. Further, the NTF National Vaccination Operations Center and all local government units are directed to continue fast-tracking vaccine deployment especially for priority groups A2 and A3, and to increase the coverage of individuals who are fully vaccinated.

Sa usaping bakuna naman: Mahigit isang milyon or 1,082,250 doses ng Pfizer vaccine ang dumating kagabi, December 2. Bago nito, mayroong mahigit isang milyon or 1,078,740 doses ng Pfizer vaccine rin ang dumating sa Pilipinas Miyerkules ng gabi, December 1. Noong Miyerkules naman ng hapon, dumating ang 1,632,900 doses ng AstraZeneca vaccine na donasyon ng French government. Our heartfelt thanks to the people and government of France. Nagpapasalamat din tayo sa bansang South Korea. Dumating noong Martes, November 30, ang kanilang donasyon na 539,430 doses ng AstraZeneca vaccine. All in all, a total of 4,333,320 vaccine doses arrived in our country between November 30 and December 2.

By now, I probably sound like a broken record o sirang plaka, pero uulitin ko po para sa mga hindi pa nagpapabakuna: Nandito na po ang mga vaccines, magpalista at magpabakuna na po kayo. Huwag nating palampasin ang pagkakataong ito!

Samantala, binabati natin ang lahat dahil sa mainit na pagtanggap sa ating 3-day National COVID-19 Vaccination Days. The IATF commends the National Task Force Against COVID-19 and its National Vaccination Operations Center, as well as all government offices and agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, private entities and individual volunteers who shared their time and resources for the successful conduct of the 3-day Bayanihan, Bakunahan.

Two important vaccination milestones were made. Dalawang milestones ang ating nakamit. First, we are the fourth highest single day jabs administered in the world. Hindi lamang po 2.7 million, iyan po ay nasa 2.8 million sa isang araw. Second, we are number one in terms of 7-day moving average jabs per 100 people per day across countries with a population of 100 million or greater. Iyan po, makikita natin sa slide.

Please allow me to breakdown the figures. Mahigit na 2.7 million ang ating nabakunahan noong day 1, mahigit na 2.4 million noong day 2 at mahigit 2.8 million noong day 3. Bago ang national vaccination day, pumapalo tayo ng higit 900,000 bawat araw kaya halos triple ang itinaas natin bawat araw. Sumatotal, nasa mahigit 8.01 million ang total vaccines administered sa tatlong araw o katumbas sa 89.06% ng ating committed target.

Tunay na lumalabas ang diwa ng pagbabayanihan ng lahat and we believe that we will do better in the second round of the national vaccination days this December – God-willing at sa tulong ng taumbayan.

Dahil sa dami ng gusto pang magpabakuna at para ma-sustain natin ang momentum, in-extend ang national vaccination days hanggang ngayong araw, Biyernes. Ito po ay voluntary extension sa panig ng mga local government units as a response to the flood of people wanting to get vaccinated in their respective jurisdictions. Mas lalo pa nating paigtingin ang bakunahan.

As of December 2, 2021 nasa mahigit 90.2 million na ang total doses administered ayon sa National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard. Nasa 48.42% o mahigit 37.3 million ang fully vaccinated.

Sa usaping bakuna pa rin. Ngayong araw, a-tres ng Disyembre, magsisimula ang expanded rollout ng administration ng booster or additional doses sa lahat ng fully vaccinated na may edad disiotso pataas kasama na ang rollout ng phase 2 ng priority group A3 – ito iyong may comorbidities. Paalala lamang po, 6 months after the second dose po ibibigay ang booster maliban sa Janssen na after 3 months.

Tandaan natin na importanteng magpabakuna sa gitna ng banta ng Omicron variant. Sa milyun-milyong nabakunahan na mga Pilipino, 99% plus plus plus ay walang naramdaman na adverse reaction o kung mayroon man, mild lamang po ito. Wala pong namatay na direktang may kaugnayan sa COVID-19 vaccine jab. This Christmas, let us give our family and loved ones the gift of good health. Let us vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

Pumunta naman tayo sa COVID-19 update. Patuloy ang pagbaba ng mga aktibong kaso, nasa 564 ang mga bagong kaso ayon sa December 2, 2021 COVID-19 Case Bulletin ng DOH. Malaki rin ang ibinaba ng ating positivity rate, nasa 1.7% na lamang ito. Nasa 97.7% naman ang porsiyento ng gumaling. Nasa mahigit 2.7 million ang naka-recover habang nasa 1.72% ang ating fatality rate. Malungkot naming binabalita sa inyo na kahapon ay nagtala tayo ng 40 sa bilang ng mga binawian ng buhay dahil sa coronavirus. Nasa below 30% naman ang ating hospital utilization rate.

Sa ibang usapin, nagpunta kahapon si Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte sa Zamboanga para sa inspection ng isinasagawang improvement ng Zamboanga Airport at simultaneous inauguration ng 143 social and tourism port projects sa buong bansa. Limampu’t dalawa (52) rito ay port projects na matatagpuan sa Luzon, animnapu’t apat (64) ay nasa Visayas at dalawampu’t pito (27) ay nasa Mindanao kasama na ang Port of Zamboanga kung saan ongoing ang construction ng passenger terminal building na kung matatapos ay magiging pinakamalaking port passenger terminal building sa Pilipinas na kayang mag-accommodate ng 4,500 passengers at any given time mula sa dating 800 pasahero na kapasidad.

Lahat ng ito ay kasama sa 484 na mga proyekto na nakumpleto ng Department of Transportation at Philippine Ports Authority sa buong Pilipinas sa loob ng limang taon. Nasa apat na libong trabaho ang nalikha nito at nasa walong libong mangingisda ang natulungan nito. Congratulations to Secretary Art and the whole DOTr team for accomplishing all these despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.

Still on other issues. On the economic front, things are looking up as we approach the new year. New York-based global credit rater S&P Global Ratings raised its growth forecast for the Philippines and I quote: “We mark the growth in the Philippines higher at 5.0% in 2021 compared with our forecast of 4.3% earlier.”

Similarly, investment banking giant Goldman Sachs expects the Philippines to grow the fastest among ASEAN-5 nations in 2022. Our projected GDP growth is expected to hit 7.3% compared to Malaysia’s 6.6%, Indonesia’s 5.1%, Singapore’s 4.3% and Thailand’s 3.6%.

So before we go to the questions from our friends from the media, let’s first go to Dr. Alethea De Guzman, Director of the Epidemiology Bureau ng DOH. Doc Thea, you have the floor.

DR. DE GUZMAN: Thank you, CabSec and Spox, and magandang araw po to all who are watching or listening.

Let me share the updates in terms of our situation at tungkol po sa Omicron at iyong nabanggit nga po ng ating Spokesperson ukol po sa ating mga alert level metrics. Daanan ko lang saglit at suportahan ang nabanggit nga po ng ating Spokesperson that nationally, we have actually already had a very low to minimal case classification of all areas ‘no, with the Philippines at minimal risk.

I’ll go on now to our alert level system. Nabanggit natin na mayroong kaunting pagbabago tayong ginawa sa ating metrics at iyon po ay ang pagtanggal nga po ng mga metrics na magiging dahilan doon sa biglaang pag-akyat ng mga areas natin from a lower to a higher alert level. Isang overview lamang na para po sa ating alert level classification, ginagamit natin ang two major metrics: Una nga po ay ang case transmission which is based on our average daily attack rate at ikalawa po ay ang ating two-week growth rate.

Ito ay kinu-cross tabulate po natin sa ating total COVID-19 bed utilization rate – meaning tinitingnan natin ilang porsiyento ng lahat ng mga kamang in-allocate para sa COVID ay nagagamit natin. Ninu-note din po natin na mayroon po kasi tayong ilang lugar na wala pong hospital capacity and for the purpose of alert level classification, we used the regional data as a proxy. And the last, for areas to further deescalate to Alert Level 1, they need to meet certain vaccination coverage as well as safety seal coverage for them to be deescalated.

Daanan ko lang po saglit ‘no, ano po ba iyong bago nating metrics na inaprubahan sa IATF kahapon. Una, pinakikita natin dito iyong cross tabulation nga on the left – the total bed utilization at iyon pong ating case classification which ranges from minimal to critical. Makikita natin that with this alert level classification, ang pagtaas natin sa alert level ay dahil ang pagtaas ng mga kaso sa isang lugar ay sinasabayan din ng pagtaas or pagkapuno ng ating mga ospital kaya naman po once umabot tayo ng Alert Level 3, dalawang senaryo po iyan ano. Una, kinakailangang ang case classification ng province, HUC or ICC, ay nasa moderate risk na at sinasabayan na rin po ng 50% and above na utilization rate ng ating total COVID-19. Inaakyat na rin natin ang mga lugar to Alert Level 3 basta po umabot ng high or critical risk case classification.

Ang high to critical risk case classification, ang ibig niya pong sabihin ay nakakakita na tayo ng mabilis na pagtaas ng mga kaso pero iyon pong tinatawag nating Alert Level 5 ay posible po nating i-implement lamang kung ang isang lugar ay nagkaroon na ng high to critical risk case classification subalit sinabayan na siya ng tinatawag nating critical risk utilization rate which is ranging from at least 85% to more than 85%.

Based on these metrics, all of our areas are now under Alert Level 2 and we are now tracking their vaccination coverages and our Safety Seal Sub-Technical Working Group is determining the threshold ano po ba iyong percent safety seal coverage na kailangan nating ma-attain para tayo nga po ay makababa na to Alert Level 1.

Tutungo naman po ako doon sa updates natin on the Omicron variant or the one formerly classified as B1.1.529. We have now detected or identified [garbled] countries where this variant of concern has been detected either at their borders at ngayon ay nag-u-undergo ng quarantine sa kanilang mga facilities o hindi kaya pinagsususpetsahan na po natin na may mga local na kaso or transmission.

We have highlighted here 14 countries with either known or suspected po na mga local cases or local transmission. Ang ibig pong sabihin kapag local transmission, ang infection ay hindi na po nakuha mula sa ibang bansa at posibleng nakuha na po nila from these countries. These are South Africa, Botswana, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, Italy, South Korea, USA, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Nigeria.

Nakikita natin na mayroon tayong 14 pa ring bansa na inilagay po natin sa “Red List” but note here that there are countries which were marked with an asterisk dahil dalawa po iyong metrics natin para ilagay tayo sa Red List.

Iyon pong mga bansang na mayroon pong mga asterisk, these were countries we escalated to the Red List because of the presence of a local case or suspected local transmission of the Omicron variant and for some of these, these are countries immediately contiguous to these area na mayroon na pong mga local cases.

Pero mayroon din pong mga bansa tulad ng Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands at Switzerland na inakyat po natin to Red List hindi dahil sa presence ng Omicron variant kung hindi dahil na-meet po nila iyong ating case and testing metrics at nakapagpakita po sila ng mabilis or very steep na growth rate, thus placing them under the Red List. All of these will remain in this list until the 15th of December and then we will be reassessing and recommend po.

Nakita natin based on this [garbled] that in the next few days and in the past days, we’ve seen that the list of countries that this variant of concern has grown steadily. Iyong mga nahahanap ay puwedeng nasa border lamang o nakita na nga po sa loob ng kanilang mga bansa.

At dahil humahaba ang mga listahang ito, kung gagamitin natin ang dati nating Red List metrics, posibleng humaba na rin po ang listahan ng mga bansang iba-ban po natin ‘no or for passengers from these countries not to be able to enter the Philippines.

And as such, the IATF task force on COVID-19 variants is continuously assessing the situation. So, we conduct this assessment at niri-review natin ang ating quarantine protocols para tayo makapagrekomenda ng pinaka-appropriate [garbled] the best safeguards to delay the entry of this variant of concern in our country.

And this is what we like to relay. Una, mayroon nga pong potensyal na mabilis na pag-transmit ng variant of concern na ito and as such posibleng kapag siya nga ay nakapasok makikita tayo ng biglaang pagtaas ng kaso tulad nang nakapasok po ang Alpha, Beta at Delta variants.

Nare-report din na posibleng may epekto ang Omicron sa ating vaccines pero ang sinasabi ng datos, ang bakuna ay naiiwang epektibo pero posible nga pong may kaunting pagbaba sa kaniyang tinatawag na efficacy or effectiveness.

Ikatlo, wala hong ebidensiya ng Omicron variant ay mas malala, ay nakakapag-cause ng mas malalang sakit, nakakapagpataas ng tsansa ng death, o hindi kaya mayroong particular age group tulad ng mga bata na mas magiging apektado. Lahat ng mga datos na ito ay tuloy-tuloy na pinag-aaralan ng WHO at ng ating mga global experts at ini-expect na sa susunod na isa o dalawang linggo ay mayroon tayong mga bagong datos na makukuha o hindi kaya mga bago pong recommendations.

Base po dito sa nailahad natin, nangangailangan talaga na ang ating Door 2 o iyong mga international ports of entry natin ay lalo pa nating palakasin. Una, the situation is continually evolving and there are so many unknowns. And secondly, nakikita natin ‘no na kailangan protektahan natin ang ating bansa posibleng may mga delays sa pagri-report ng mga bansa na mayroon ng local cases ng Omicron o hindi kaya mayroon ding mga bansa na puwedeng hindi pa ganoon kalakas ang kanilang whole genome sequencing at iyong kakayahan nilang maka-detect ng Omicron na ito. So, kailangan nating is-safeguard ang ating mga international ports of entry.

Kaya naman ito ang mga naging rekomendasyon ay naaprubahan natin sa IATF: Una, imi-maintain natin ang kasalukuyan nating listahan ng Red List at ito nga po ay maiiwan hanggang December 15 and then we will review.

Ikalawa ay ang mga nauna nating na-announce na isu-suspend muna ‘no ang ating “Green List” protocols at in-enhance natin ngayon ang “Yellow List” protocols natin. Ano po iyong tatlong enhancements na ginagawa po natin? Una, lahat ng papasok ngayon na arrivals from these non-Red List or the Yellow List are those who need to follow these Yellow List protocols, will need to have a negative pre-departure testing. Ang dahilan po kaya natin ito inirekomenda ay gusto nating mapababa ‘no. Let us minimize the risk that there will be an infected traveler who may ne infecting or transmitting to other passengers in the flight going back to the Philippines. Ikalawa po nating pagbabago na ginawa ay ang pagbalik from a third day to a fifth day test para sa mga fully vaccinated individuals po natin ‘no. At iyong ikatlo ay ang pag-complete nila ng 14-day home quarantine. Dati, para sa mga fully vaccinated, inirirekomenda na lamang natin na magself-monitor sila ‘no ng kanilang mga symptoms. Pero dahil nga nais nating palakasin ang ating quarantine protocols mula sa self-monitoring, lahat ng ating allowed na arrivals will need to complete this 14-day home quarantine to ensure that even after a negative test and they have been endorsed with their LGUs, babantayan pa rin sila; magsi-self report sila kung mayroon o wala pa rin silang nararamdamang mga sintomas; at kung mayroon mang may makita tayong arrivals in our LGUs within that 14-day na naging symptomatic, dapat agaran po silang i-test using RT-PCR.

Gusto rin naming magbigay ng update na binabantayan natin ‘no iyong mga bansang nilagay nga natin sa Red List subalit una nating na-classify as “Green List.” These were South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia subalit sa tatlong bansang iyon, South Africa lamang ang mayroon tayong mga nakitang arrivals noong huling dalawang linggo ng Nobyembre.

Mayroon tayong 254 arrivals who were from South Africa, isa dito ay nagpositibo on RT-PCR at nagpapatuloy, kinukumpleto ang kaniyang isolation; sine-secure na natin ang kaniyang sample upang mapadala sa UP – Philippine Genome Center at mag-undergo ng full genome sequencing.

Of the total na 254, ang BOQ at ang ating mga regional and local epidemiology and surveillance units ay nahanap at na-contact na ang 71. Apat dito ay na-test na; tatlo ay negatibo at isa ay hinihintay pa natin ang resulta and the other 67 are yet to be tested. But all 71 who have been located and verified are undergoing quarantine. 70 of these are under facility quarantine and this includes the three foreign nationals who arrived or who were in Region VI at mayroon tayong isang under home quarantine who is a returning overseas Filipino.

Last na lang pong gusto naming ipaabot ay ang ating tuloy-tuloy na country response to Omicron at ito ay isang paalala na despite the fact na mayroon tayong low case transmission, kailangan pong maging vigilant po tayo.

Ang ating LGUs ngayon are on heightened alert upang agad na mai-report sa atin kung may biglaang pagtaas o pagkakaroon ng clusters at ito po ay ginagawa through our surveillance and active case finding.

Ikalawa ay iyong tuloy-tuloy nating panawagan na lahat ng mga naging symptomatic ay dapat na agad ding naa-isolate at nako-contact trace at nati-test. Napakahalaga ng pagsunod natin sa minimum public health standards at ng kombinasyon nito with our vaccination as this remain to be the most effective preventive measures.

At dahil nga sa Omicron tayo ay higit pang naghahanda at piniprepara nga ang ating health system in case – una – makapasok ang Omicron at ikalawa, tayo nga ay makikita ng biglaang pagtaas ng kaso. And all through this is the continuous biosurveillance through our whole genome sequencing upang makita natin ‘no kung mayroon na ba tayong mga arrivals or local cases na posibleng magpositibo po sa Omicron.

So, iyon lamang po, CabSec. Thank you very much and again, good day.

DR. DE GUZMAN: Maraming salamat, Doc Thea. Pumunta naman po tayo kay USec. Rocky para sa mga katanungan mula sa MPC at sa media.

USEC. IGNACIO: Yes. Good afternoon, Secretary Nograles at kay Doc Alethea.

Ang una pong tanong mula po kay Llanesca Panti ng GMA News Online: Will South Korea be placed under red list after an Omicron case was detected there? Why and why not?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Well, una sa lahat, minu-monitor natin ‘no, actively monitoring developments in South Korea at ang lahat ng bansa sa buong mundo ‘no. Pangalawa, kampante po tayo sa IATF na because of our increased quarantine and updated quarantine protocols for yellow list countries, kampante po tayo na if ever ‘no – not only in South Korea or in all countries na green at yellow na susunod sa bagong yellow list protocols po natin – we are confident na iyong protocols natin as updated ay mahuhuli natin ‘no or madi-detect natin ang positive COVID cases, if any ‘no.

And to add more to the answer, maybe we can also once again refer to Doc Thea para dagdagan iyong sa konteksto naman po ng South Korea.

DR. DE GUZMAN: Thank you po, Spox. So tama nga po, ang South Korea ay under yellow list po ngayon, ang kanilang metrics ay hindi sapat upang i-escalate natin sila to red list.

So ang mahalaga po ngayon ay protektahan natin ang borders natin not just from this green or yellow ‘no. So the new quarantine protocols are there to ensure that even if we receive arrivals from countries with increasing incidents of cases or with suspected local cases, sapat siya ‘no para, una, pinalawig ang quarantine para tumaas ang tiyansa man lang na ma-detect natin agad kung mayroong mga positive cases; at ikalawa, kinu-combine natin itong stronger quarantine protocols natin with our continuous biosurveillance para kung mayroon mang mga magpositibo ay mas agaran po nating ma-sequence at makapag-provide tayo ng information kung may madi-detect tayong Omicron variant or wala. Thank you po, Sec.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Second question: Will the President accompany Senator Go in going to Comelec to withdraw candidacy for president? Why and why not? Secretary Nograles…

CABSEC NOGRALES: That’s a personal decision on the part of the President so hintayin na lamang po natin ‘no pagdating noong takdang oras at araw at panahon.

USEC. IGNACIO: From Trish Terada ng CNN Philippines: Sino na ie-endorse ni President Duterte and PDP after Senator Bong Go stepped out of the presidential race? Similar question po ‘yan with Leila Salaverria ng Inquirer.

CABSEC NOGRALES: As far as PDP is concerned, patuloy pa rin iyong mga meetings na ginagawa ng leadership ng PDP Laban. And of course, if there are any decisions to be made, kailangan din po naming idaan sa national council at sa mga miyembro po and other officers of PDP Laban. So abangan na lang po natin.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Secretary.

CABSEC NOGRALES: Let’s go to Mela Lesmoras ng PTV-4.

MELA LESMORAS/PTV4: Hi! Good afternoon, Secretary Nograles at kay Doktora De Guzman. Secretary Nograles, a quick follow up lang po sa bagong IATF policies, doon po sa mas mahabang quarantine protocols. Ano po iyong gagawing hakbang ng IATF sakaling may mga magtatangka na lumusot lalo na kung gustung-gusto nilang makasama iyong pamilya nila sa Pasko or magtatangkang sumuway? Paano po natin mai-ensure na talagang strictly ay maipapatupad ito?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Well, very strict ‘no ang orders ni Pangulo, ang orders din ng lahat ng mga national government agencies at ng buong IATF/NTF – lahat po kami. Let us strictly follow ang mga protocols and guidelines set by the IATF dahil ito po ay para sa proteksiyon nating lahat, ng buong bansa, ng lahat ng Pilipino.

So walang dapat susuway, we have to be very, very strict dito sa implementation. Again, hindi ito para pahirapan ang ating mga kababayan – this is for our good, our protection, this is for public health because we still are facing this public health emergency. So lahat po ng ating mga law enforcers, lahat ng ating mga kailangang mag-implement na mga agencies, implementing agencies natin are under strict orders to follow to the letter lahat ng mga guidelines at resolutions na pinapalabas ng IATF. Anyone that violates ‘no, they will face the consequences.

MELA LESMORAS/PTV4: Opo. And, Secretary Nograles, even the DOH can also answer po – kasi malapit na nga—malapit nang mag-Pasko at Bagong Taon pero nangangamba iyong ilan lalo na sa gitna ng banta ng Omicron variant na baka ngayon pa magkaroon nang malawakang lockdown like itong mga ECQ.

So sa panig lang po ng gobyerno, just to manage the expectation of the public, ano po iyong magtutulak sa pamahalaan para nga muling magdeklara ng ECQ either sa NCR or nationwide? May posibilidad nga po ba ito?

CABSEC NOGRALES: We have already shifted to the alert level systems. So ang susundin na lang po natin iyong guidelines natin ng alert level systems. So wala na po tayo doon sa mga ECQ, naka-shift na po tayo sa ALS system so iyon po. And that’s the reason why nagbigay po tayo ng briefing ngayon para ipaliwanag sa ating mga kababayan iyong mga circumstances at iyong mga parameters ng pagshi-shift mula Alert Level 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5.

So ito pong susundin natin, right now we’re on Alert Level 2 at kung patuloy pa rin naman po ‘no iyong pagbaba noong kaso natin at maganda iyong mga numbers and whenever they are still within the parameters then we will not shift to any higher alert level. So iyong metrics po natin is very, very transparent at hindi naman ito basta-bastang gagawin ng IATF until based on the metrics and the parameters ay makikita natin ang kailangan nating i-elevate iyong alert level for any locality.

Doc Thea, would you like to add anything?

DR. DE GUZMAN: Salamat po, CabSec, and tama po ‘no, the reason why we presented earlier is so that the public and our sectors will be aware ‘no, ano ba iyong mga sitwasyon na tataas nga tayo ng alert level. So puwede tayong magbantay ‘no lalo na kung nakakakita na tayo ng pagtaas ng kaso, nagri-report nang biglaang pagtaas ng admission – that should be a signal ‘no that there should be enhanced response para hindi na tayo mag-escalate.

Kaya naman iyong ating panawagan sa ating public na kailangan ‘no tayo ay tutuloy na mas magiging magalaw. Tuluy-tuloy din ang safe reopening natin ng sectors pero kailangan po talagang sabayan siya noong dalawang bagay. Hindi po titigil ang ating pag-practice ng minimum public health standards, pagkakaroon ng good implementation of safety protocols in our establishments and as mentioned by our Spokesperson, we need to get ourselves vaccinated as soon as possible.

CABSEC NOGRALES: Okay. So again, reminder lang din, Mela ‘no, ‘pag may nakita tayong mga clustering, dapat alam ng mga LGUs natin, number one, report agad; number two, agad mag-granular lockdown ‘no. And then tama iyong sinabi ni Doc Thea – bakuna, mask, hugas, iwas. Mela?

MELA LESMORAS/PTV4: Opo. At panghuling tanong na lamang, Secretary Nograles, itong mga kautusan lang po kay Pangulong Duterte. May update po kaya kung kailan target mapirmahan o maisabatas ang 2022 national budget? At mayroon po kayang tiyansa naman po iyong gratuity pay for COS, Job Order at iba pang hindi permanent government workers lalo na December na po ngayon?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Regarding iyong second question ninyo po, again DBM is studying and looking at ways and means and as I mentioned before, we will refer that concern or question to the DBM. So depende sa pagsusuri ng DBM sa budget ‘no ng kaniya-kaniyang ahensiya.

On the first question, regarding the 2022 national budget – ang alam namin ay magba-bicam na po ang House of Representatives at ang Senado. And as soon as they are able to finish and conclude their Bicameral Conference Committee report, have it approved also by both the Senate and the House and transmitted to Malacañang, to the President, then the President can sign the budget.

MELA LESMORAS/PTV4: Okay. Maraming salamat po, Secretary Nograles at kay Dr. Alethea.

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Maraming salamat. Let’s go back to USec. Rocky for the questions.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Tanong po mula kay Ace Romero ng Philippine Star: Reaksiyon sana sa ulat na almost 15,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines with November 30 expiration dates, expired after local government in Negros Occidental refuse to accept it.

CABSEC. NOGRALES: May sinagot na si Secretary Galvez tungkol diyan and pangalawa po, we are conducting fact finding on the circumstances para malaman talaga natin anong nangyari; kung may nangyari ba talaga. So, DILG and the Department of Health is currently doing an investigation and fact finding to know ano talaga iyong circumstances at ano iyong katotohanan doon sa nai-report na iyan.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. From Kris Jose ng Remate/Remate Online: Ipinanukala ni Secretary Año ang pagpapatupad nang mas pinahigpit na vaccination rules. Ibig bang sabihin gagamit na ng kamay na bakal ang gobyerno para sa mga unvaccinated na tao para mapilitan na silang magpabakuna laban sa COVID-19?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Iyong aming mga guidelines ng IATF every time na nagkakaroon tayo ng pagpupulong ng IATF ay agad naman naming itina-translate iyan into either guidelines or resolutions. So, hintayin na lamang po natin but based on the current resolutions, iyon po ang kasalukuyan na sinusunod po natin.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. From Leila Salaverria ng Inquirer: Is not endorsing a presidential candidate an option, considering that Mr. Duterte has criticized most of the candidates for President?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Hintayin na lang po natin si Pangulong Duterte to make any announcements with regard to that ‘no. So, obviously may mga option siya and it is up to him to reveal his choices when the time comes.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. What does the Palace think of NEDA chief Chua’s proposal to limit the monitoring of COVID cases to total severe or critical case who were hospitalized due to COVID-19; the case fatality ratio to reduce the need to raise alert levels? He says COVID should be treated as endemic. Will Malacañang heed his suggestions?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Well, si Secretary Karl Chua is an active member of the IATF and actively participates, so lahat ng mga suggestions and recommendations po niya ay pina-process ng buong IATF because it’s an inter-agency task force, so all Department Secretaries involved in that inter-agency will also have their inputs.

That being said, apart from the metrics na sinasabi ni Secretary Karl Chua, we also look at other metrics. At ang lumabas nga po after meeting kahapon is this new protocols natin when we need to elevate, we need to escalate from level 1 to 2, to 3, and vice versa when we need to deescalate.

So, ito lang po iyong pinaka-latest na parameters po natin and metrics that we have as an IATF agreed upon.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Iyong tanong po ni Rosalie Coz ng UNTV for Dr. Alethea, nasagot na po ni Dr. Alethea sa kaniyang presentation. Pero basahin ko na lang, Doc, baka may maidagdag kayo: Ano po ang update sa surveillance testing ng government? Ilang international travelers na galing sa “Red List” countries/jurisdictions, subalit nakapasok na sa bansa days before ng travel ban implementation na ang na-track ng pamahalaan at sumailalim po ba sila sa RT-PCR test? Kung hindi pa, ano po ang ginagawang hakbang ng pamahalaan para magawa ito?

DR. DE GUZMAN: Yes. So, tama nga ‘no, Usec. Rocky, we reported that we already had arrivals from South Africa. There were 254, may isang positibo na nag-u-undergo ng isolation; the rest, nakahanap na tayo ng 71, lahat po ay naka-quarantine. 70 in a facility; isa pong naka-home at mayroon na po tayong apat na na-test. Tatlo dito ay negatibo at isa po ay pending.

So, the BOQ and the rest who are continuing this tracings po.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Thank you, Doc Alethea. Secretary, from Red Mendoza ng Manila Times: Ang grupo po ni dating presidential candidate Nicanor Perlas ay nagbabanta na magpa-file ng kaso para pigilan ang ‘di-umano’y coercive at discriminatory na polisiya na mandatory vaccination bilang isa sa mga nagtutulak ng mandatory na pagbabakuna. Ano po ang masasabi ninyo dito sa banta nila na pagkakaso?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Wala po sa resolusyon ng IATF ang word na mandatory. Basahin po nating muli ‘no ang IATF Resolution na iyon, 148-B, para malaman natin na wala talagang mandatory na nakalagay po dito. Ang nakalagay po dito:

“All establishments, employers, in the public and private sector shall require their eligible employees who are tasked to do onsite work to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Eligible employees who remain to be unvaccinated may not be terminated – may not be terminated – solely by reason thereof.”

So, iyon po. Wala pong mandatory na nakalagay po in any of our resolutions.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Sunod po na tanong ni Red Mendoza: Sinabi ng WHO na ang face shield policy ay isang divisive na policy na hindi muna dapat gawin dito sa bansa dahil sa banta ng Omicron variant. Ano po ang reaksiyon ng Palasyo dito?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Iyong current guidelines and resolutions natin, nakikita naman po natin ‘no na iyong paggamit ng face shield for Alert Level 1,2, and 3, all of us, buong bansa nasa Alert Level 2 na, voluntary and paggamit ng face shield unless hospital settings ‘no, mandatory iyon. And then for establishments, option po nila if they want to require for additional safety iyong paggamit ng face shield ng kanilang customers o ng kanilang mga empleyado.

USEC. IGNACIO: From Jopel Pelenio of DWIZ: As per PDDS founder Greco Belgica, three to four days na daw po nilang kinakausap at kinukumbinsi si Senator Bong Go na ituloy ang laban. Ibig sabihin ba nito na hindi matutuloy ang paghahain ng withdrawal ni SBG? Is there something that he needs to consider kaya hindi po siya nagpa-file personally sa Comelec?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Ang desisyon po na iyan ay isang personal na desisyon ni Senator Bong Go at maging kung sinuman kandidato, iyan po ay personal decision. At kagaya nga ng sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte kagabi lamang, na nirirespeto po namin siyempre ang desisyon ni Senator Bong Go.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Ang second question po niya: Nagkaroon po ba daw ng pagpupulong ang PDP-Laban? If yes, ano daw po ang napag-usapan?

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Mayroon nang mga pagpupulong ang mga nasa national executive committee pero kung anuman ang napag-usapan ay kailangan po natin siyempre pag-agree-han ng national council.

So, may proseso po ang PDP, so kung anuman ang napagkasunduan ay hindi agad-agad iyan naididesisyon hangga’t walang clearance mula sa national council.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Tanong po ni Jinky Baticados ng IBC-13: Reaksiyon daw po na si Congressman Pulong Duterte ay nagpakita na po ng suporta kay Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos,

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Opo. Lahat naman po ng mga kababayan natin. Lahat naman po whether politician, whether sitting elected official ay may karapatan naman pong mag-endorso at sumuporta ng kani-kanilang mga kandidato.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Padagdag lang din po na tanong: Reaksiyon daw po ng Palace sa sinabi Mayor Sara na ang pag-withdraw ni Senator Bong Go ay hudyat ng pagkakaisa sa 2022 Elections. Nananawagan po siya ng suporta para kay BBM po.

CABSEC. NOGRALES: Ganito po iyan. Lahat naman po tayo ay kanya-kaniyang partido, kanya-kaniyang mga kandidato. Iyan po ang essence of democracy. So, we all respect everyone’s decision kung sinuman ang kanilang susuportahan. But at the end of the day for things like this fight against COVId-19 and for other things that we need to do as a country ay kung kailangan magbayanihan ay magbayanihan po tayo; magkaisa po tayong lahat.

USEC. IGNACIO: Question from Vanz Fernandez, doon daw po sa recent withdrawal ni Senator Bong Go sa presidential race: Former Senator Bongbong Marcos has called for unity from Bong Go’s supporters. Is the President … kung favor daw po of the administration supporters to directly support Bongbong Marcos bilang alternative daw po sa naging pagwi-withdraw ni Senator Bong Go?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Again, si Pangulo has options ‘no, has choices that he has to make. And we should give him the time to make those options, to make those choices, to make those decisions, and give him the leeway to make the announcement kung kinakailangan at kung kailan niyang gustong gawin ay antayin na lang po natin si Pangulong Duterte.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. From Vanz Fernandez: In a statement daw po, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated his hard feelings after one presidential aspirant did not invite him to be part of a senatorial slate. What are the President’s thoughts on the matter?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Wala naman pong binabanggit si Pangulo tungkol diyan so hintayin na lang po natin kung magsalita si Pangulo about that.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. From Trish Terada ng CNN Philippines: Ano po ang stance ng government, IATF for companies and offices to hold in person Christmas parties this year? Papayagan na po ba; if yes, ano po ang mga conditions?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Iyong DOH at IATF at iyong PCOO, in fact, will be releasing reminders to the public very soon when it comes to—well, this month of December ‘no. Mga reminders based on the current guidelines and protocols right now and based on the latest resolutions ng IATF. So hintayin natin ang mga reminders.

But before those reminders, siguro again, tulad ng sinabi ko the last press briefing, marami kasing tumitingin ng anong nakalagay doon sa alert level system, ano iyong one, Number 2, Number three pero I would like to point your attention doon sa pinakaunang paragraph before the enumeration. Nakalagay po doon, “Strict adherence to minimum public health standards.” Huwag nating kalimutan ‘no – mask, hugas, iwas, bakuna. So iyan ang pinaka-essence siguro o pinakadapat umiiral sa lahat, over and above the one, two, three na enumeration, iyong safety first. Safety first – hugas, iwas, mask, bakuna, paulit-ulit ‘no ini-emphasize natin.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Secretary Nograles. Thank you, Dr. Alethea.

CABSEC NOGRALES: Maraming, maraming salamat, of course, Usec. Rocky; and Dr. Alethea de Guzman, ang director natin ng Epidemiology ng DOH.

And before ending, allow me to again thank all those who have worked so hard so that our people can have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Just to put everything in perspective po: Dito sa National Vaccination Days, in each day, every vaccination center is open for around 12 hours – in many cases, even more. But let’s be conservative and use 12 hours as our average. If that is the case, 8.01 million people vaccinated over the course of 36 hours is approximately 222,500 Filipinos vaccinated per hour or 3,708 people vaccinated per minute or something like 62 Filipinos vaccinated per second – 62 Filipinos per second. Iyan po ang nagawa nitong National Vaccination Days.

Everywhere in the country, we have dedicated frontliners – LGU workers, people from the DILG and the DOH, barangay workers, volunteers, our police and so many others working hard to vaccinate our people. To all of you po, maraming, maraming salamat! Kayo po ang tunay na bayani ng Bayanihan Bakunahan.

Hanggang ngayon, nananatili ang ating panawagan: Kailangan nating magtulungan dahil iyan po ang tunay na diwa ng Pasko.

Maraming salamat po. Ingat po lagi. God bless.

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