Press Briefing

Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH hosted by Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Rocky Ignacio

USEC. IGNACIO: Magandang umaga, Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao. Magandang umaga rin sa ating mga kababayan sa labas ng bansa. Ako ang inyong lingkod, Usec. Rocky Ignacio mula sa PCOO.

Ngayong November 30, atin pong ipinagdiriwang ang araw ng kapanganakan ng ating bayaning si Andres Bonifacio, gaya niya, ipinakita natin ang pagmamahal sa bayan sa pamamagitan ng pakikipagbayanihan sa pagpapabakuna laban sa COVID-19. Kaugnay niyan muli tayong makibalita sa ikalawang araw din ng Bayanihan Bakunahan National Vaccination Days sa buong kapuluan. Alamin din natin ang mga paghihigpit pang gagawin ng pamahalaan bilang paghahanda sa Omicron variant. Lahat po iyan dito lamang sa Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH.

Gitna na po ng pinangangambahang banta ng Omicron variant, muli namang nagpaalala si Senator Bong Go sa taumbayan na palaging sumunod sa health protocols at makiisa sa ginagawang nationwide vaccination drive ng pamahalaan. Narito ang report:

[VTR]

USEC. IGNACIO: Samantala, umatras na sa presidential race ang pambato ng Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan na si Senator Bong Go. Ginawa niya ang pahayag sa ginanap na selebrasyon ng Bonifacio Day sa San Juan City. Pakinggan po natin ang pahayag ng Senador:

[SEN. BONG GO’s STATEMENT]

Sa ngayon, handa po akong magsakripisyo alang-alang sa kapakanan ng ating bayan at ni Pangulong Duterte. Simpleng probinsiyano lamang po ako na binigyan po ng pagkakataon ng taumbayan na magsilbi po sa kanila. Hindi ko po inambisyon na maging presidente, puro serbisyo lang po ako dahil ang bisyo ko po ay magserbisyo. Hindi rin po ako pulitiko, hindi rin po ako nanggagaling sa malaki o kilalang pamilya dito sa ating bansa, hindi ako nasanay sa madumi at mainit na klase ng pulitika, marahil po’y hanggang dito lang muna ako sa ngayon. Ayaw din talaga ng aking pamilya kaya naisip ko na siguro ay hindi ko pa po panahon sa ngayon. Diyos lang po ang nakakaalam kung kailan talaga ang tamang panahon ko.

Ayaw ko rin pong lalong maipit si Pangulong Duterte – higit pa po sa tatay ang pagmamahal ko sa kaniya. Matanda na po siya at marami na siyang naibigay sa bayan kung kaya’t ayaw ko nang dagdagan pa ang kaniyang problema. Nananatili akong tapat sa kaniya at nangako akong sasamahan ko po siya habang buhay. Iyon po iyong pinangako ko sa kaniya noon pa man.

In the past few days, I realized that my heart and my mind are contradicting my own actions, talagang nagri-resist po aking katawan, puso at isipan. Tao lang po ako na nasasaktan at napapagod din. Sa ngayon po, iyon po ang mga rason ko that is why I am withdrawing from the race.

Having said this, I leave my fate to God and to the Filipino people as I vow to do my best every day, to serve selflessly and tirelessly. I am willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the good of our country and for the sake of unity among our supporters and leaders.

Sa mga nagnanais maging Pangulo at iba pang gustong magsilbi sa bayan, sana po ay unahin ninyo ang kapakanan at interes ng mga Pilipino. Handa naman po kami ni Pangulong Duterte na suportahan ang sinuman na tunay na magsiserbisyo, makakapagpatuloy at puprotekta sa Duterte legacy tungo sa mas komportable, ligtas at maginhawang buhay para sa ating mga anak.

USEC. IGNACIO: Sa puntong ito ay makakasama naman po natin sa Public Briefing si Acting Presidential Spokesperson Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. Good morning po, CabSec, and please go ahead with your presentation po.

CABSEC NOGRALES: Magandang umaga sa iyo, Usec. Rocky. At magandang umaga rin po sa ating mga kababayan at sa mga miyembro ng Malacañang Press Corps.

Una sa lahat, ngayong araw, a-trenta ng Nobyembre, ating ginugunita ang ika-158 anibersaryo ng kapanganakan ng ating bayani na si Gat Andres Bonifacio. Pinangunahan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte ang kumemorasyon ng Bonifacio Day sa San Juan kung saan ginawaran ng Pangulo si Gat Andres Bonifacio ng Order of Lapu-Lapu Magalong Rank na tinanggap ng kaanak ng bayani na si Buena Grace Distrito Casanova.

Sa paggunita ng Bonifacio Day, inimbitahan ni Pangulong Duterte ang bawat Pilipino na maging bayani tulad ni Bonifacio.

To quote the President: “Become a hero like Bonifacio by participating actively in our nation building efforts especially in these challenging times when we have to secure our nation’s health, safety and wellness.” Dagdag ni Pangulo, “Tularan natin ang strong sense of duty, katapangan at pagmamahal sa bayan ni Bonifacio sa araw-araw nating pamumuhay kahit sa pinakasimpleng paraan.”

I would like to begin by announcing the alert levels in the various parts of the country. Yesterday, the IATF released the latest alert levels which shall take effect tomorrow, December 1, 2021 until December 15, 2021. Mananatiling Alert Level 2 pa rin ang Metro Manila habang nasa Alert Level 2 din po ang lahat ng HUCs, ICCs at provinces sa buong bansa maliban sa buong lalawigan ng Apayao na nasa Alert Level 3 pa rin.

Samantala kagabi, muling humarap sa taumbayan si Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte para sa kaniyang regular Talk to the People, kasama ang ilang miyembro ng kaniyang Gabinete at mga health experts para pag-usapan ang banta ng Omicron variant.

Please allow me to share some of the highlights of the discussions last night. The first to provide his input was Dr. Edsel Salvaña who enumerated ways to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant. Ayon kay Dr. Salvaña, the basics still work, importante pa rin ang minimum health protocols – ito ang mask, hugas, iwas. Wear your masks, wash your hands, maintain social distancing. Binigyan-diin din ni Dr. Salvaña ang pagbabakuna. We need to continue to vaccinate our population. We must vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

At para mas maiwasan ang Omicron variant, kailangang ipatupad din natin ang border controls. Sabi naman ni Health Secretary Francisco Duque III with regard to the entry of the Omicron variant, “it is not a matter of ‘if’ – it is a matter of ‘when’.” Be that as it may, Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Cynthia Saloma informed us that at present the Omicron variant has not yet been detected in the country. Hindi pa po nakakapasok ang Omicron variant sa Pilipinas.

Kaugnay nito sinabi ni Pangulo na maaari siyang sumang-ayon kung magdidesisyon ang IATF na gawing mandatory ang pagbabakuna sa bansa. The President is willing to consider approving proposals to make vaccination for COVID-19 mandatory. Dagdag ni Pangulo, kasama ito sa police power of the state para maprotektahan ang pampublikong kalusugan. He explained that the government could make vaccination mandatory in the interest of public health.

Narinig na natin ang mga eksperto – huwag po tayong magpakakampante. Bagaman bumababa ang bilang ng aktibong kaso, nagbabanta ng isang bagong variant of concern – ang Omicron. Lalo po nating paigtingin ang mask, hugas, iwas at bakuna.

Speaking of bakuna. We are encouraged by the support our people displayed on day 1 of our ‘Bayanihan, Bakunahan’ project. President Duterte personally witnessed the enthusiasm of our citizens during his visit at the ceremonial vaccine rollout in Antipolo City. This initiative, we believe, will take us one step closer to our goal of vaccinating a total of 54 million Filipinos fully vaccinated by end of this year, 2021.

Naka-flash sa inyong screen ang ilan sa mga larawan ng unang araw ng Bayanihan, Bakunahan. We call on our people to encourage fellow Filipinos to get inoculated as a show of genuine compassion for others. Together we will overcome and heal our nation by making the national COVID-19 days a resounding success.

Maraming salamat po.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, CabSec. May tanong po ang ating kasamahan sa media, sa Malacañang Press Corps. Unang tanong po ni Mela Lesmoras ng PTV at ni Rosalie Coz ng UNTV: Ano po ang naging basehan sa pagpapanatili ng Alert Level 2 sa NCR? At sa gitna ng banta ng Omicron, may tiyansa pa kaya daw pong matupad ang naunang pananaw ng mga eksperto at target ng gobyerno na Alert Level 1 sa NCR sa Disyembre o sa Pasko?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Iyong Alert Level 1 pina-finalize pa po natin ano, pina-finalize pa po natin lahat ng parameters na kinakailangan para ma-consider ang isang lugar na qualified mag-Alert Level 1. So sa ngayon po mayroon pa po kaming tini-tweak at pina-finalize na mga parameters. So right now, hindi pa tayo handa na mag-declare ng any Alert Level 1 sa ngayon.

Iyong sa NCR naman, bakit siya nanatili sa Alert Level 2 – dahil pumasa naman po siya sa lahat ng mga parameters para sa Alert Level 2. Ang tinitingnan natin diyan ay siyempre iyong average daily attack rate ng lugar, tinitingnan din po natin diyan iyong two-week growth rate and of course iyong healthcare utilization – ibig sabihin iyong utilization rate ng mga hospital, ng mga ICU beds, mga ventilators, mga ward beds minu-monitor din natin at tinitingnan natin kung papasa ba siya doon sa Alert Level System number 2. Kaya iyong NCR ay nananatili pa rin sa Alert Level 2.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Pero sa ngayon, CabSec, wala pa tayong nakikitang rason para ipagpaliban iyong pagpayag sa holiday gatherings, kagaya po ng Christmas party at reunions?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Well, right now, nandiyan pa rin po iyong mga guidelines natin ‘no, for Alert Level 2. So susundin lang po natin itong mga guidelines na ito and of course iyong active monitoring po natin na mga variants of concern. At tinitingnan din po natin ngayon siyempre kung ano iyong mga number of new COVID cases sa bawat lugar – kung may clustering ba ng mga cases. At lahat naman ng mga LGUs, mga local chief executives lalo na mga mayor, mga governors eh dapat nakahanda po sila mag-granular at localized lockdown kung kinakailangan.

Reminder lamang, that’s part of door number 4 ‘no sa ating 4-door strategy para mabantayan na hindi makapasok iyong Omicron at iba pang mga variants of concern dito sa ating bansa. So right now, as it still stands, iyong guidelines po ng Alert Level System natin particular Alert Level 2 ay nandiyan pa rin po. But kapag kinakailangan i-increase, alam naman po natin na kasama at kabahagi po sa ating policy na kapag in case na kinakailangang ma-increase agad ang alert level ay gagawin natin – kung kinakailangan.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Mula pa rin kay Rosalie Coz ng UNTV: Are you still confident we can reach the target economic growth for 2021 even with Alert Level 2 in the capital until mid-December and why?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Opo. Nagsalita na rin po ang NEDA at ang ating mga economic managers tungkol diyan. We are confident ‘no, up to now we are confident na mararating natin iyong ating economic growth targets and barring any unforeseen circumstances ‘no, kung patuloy itong pagbaba noong kaso, patuloy rin po iyong pagbaba rin ng mga ADAR, ang two-week growth rate, pati patuloy pa rin po iyong safe reopening natin ng ating ekonomiya then we’re very confident that we will reach our growth targets.

Kaya nga po panawagan natin sa lahat, kailangan magpabakuna po tayo. Mas maraming taong mabakunahan natin then mas magiging kampante po ang lahat – ang negosyo, ang mga livelihoods, ang trabaho. Mas magiging bukas din po ang ating ekonomiya especially kapag nakikita natin na mas marami sa ating mga kababayan ang bakunado. At nakikita natin iyong result, iyong result ng lahat ng ginagawa nating pagbabakuna ng ating mga kababayan, iyong tuluyang pagbaba ng mga numero ng COVID-19 cases natin sa buong bansa.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Tanong pa rin ni Rosalie Coz, pareho po sila ng tanong ni Ace Romero ng Philippine Star: What are the options of the Duterte administration to require vaccination in the country? In the past Malacañang said a law should be passed first to make it mandatory and what can be the legal implications if the President will just approve an IATF recommendation mandating the COVID-19 vaccination?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Opo, kailangan po ng batas ‘no. Mas magiging ano ‘yan, mas magkakaroon ng mandatory enforcement kapag mayroon pong batas mula sa Congress at mapirmahan ni Pangulong Duterte. So it this, up to Congress to pass a law if they feel the need na kinakailangan nang magkaroon ng batas to make it mandatory. As far as the IATF is concerned ay patuloy pa rin naman po iyong aming pagmi-meeting tungkol diyan at ang pag-uusap namin tungkol sa proposal na iyan.

And because it’s an Inter-Agency siyempre nandiyan iyong ating mga legal luminaries, nandiyan po iyong ating mga legal experts at iyong mga agencies and offices na eksperto po dito sa mga legal issues. So we continue to process that at tuluy-tuloy nating pinag-uusapan iyong option po na iyan. And that is the reason why habang wala pa iyong option na iyan eh ito nga iyong ginagawa natin na massive rollout ng bakuna at iyong Bayanihan, Bakunahan na ginagawa po natin.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Pero ang pahabol po ni Ace Romero: Ang sabi daw po ni Presidente, passing of laws take time at saka does IATF po ba see the need to make vaccination mandatory?

CABSEC NOGRALES: We still continue to discuss that inside the IATF ‘no. And basta nakikita naman po natin ‘no na tuloy-tuloy itong massive vaccination, we’re seeing one million vaccinees per day and then ngayon dahil sa three-day massive vaccination rollout natin, itong “Bayanihan Bakunahan”, iyong target po natin ay three million per day, then hopefully ‘no there might not be a need for that kung realistically on the ground eh marami naman po ang nagpabakuna.

But then again, we also have to consider na mayroon itong bagong variant of concern, iyong Omicron, so at the end of the day, ang pagba-balance po natin diyan is iyong gaya ng sinabi ni Pangulo, iyong police power of the state plus iyong public health and safety ng lahat ng ating mga kababayan.

So, we continue to weigh the options right now sa IATF.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Mula naman po kay Jam Punzalan ng ABS-CBN Online: The DILG said some 2.4 million Filipinos were jabbed against COVID-19 yesterday which is below the three million target. Can we confirm this? Have we found out why and what are we doing to remedy this? At kaya po ba daw nating habulin iyong 600,000 jabs na hindi nagawa kahapon?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Opo. Iyong 24 million na iniulat ay hindi pa iyan iyong final number ‘no. As we speak, tuloy-tuloy pa rin iyong paghingi namin ng report mula sa iba’t-ibang mga LGUs. So, that may not still be the final number, so, abangan na lang po natin any updates doon as we continue to receive reports from the ground.

Pangalawa po, iyong pagri-reach po ng target, ito po ay kailangan gawin nating lahat not just government, hindi lang po ito responsibilidad ng ating pamahalaan, ng ating gobyerno pero responsibilidad po nating lahat. So, ang panawagan po natin, we’re all in this together. Magtulungan po tayo dito at lahat po tayo kung may kakilala po tayo na hindi pa nagpapabakuna eh kailangang kumbinsihin po natin sila na magpabakuna.

Iyong pagri-reach po ng target ay common goal po nating lahat ng mga Pilipino iyan, buong sambayanan po. Hindi lang iyan nakaatang sa balikat ng ating pamahalaan, ng inyong gobyerno kung hindi buong bansa po ang dapat maniguro na maabot natin iyong full vaccination ng lahat ng eligible population.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Tanong pa rin ni Jam Punzalan: The UN daw po is urging the Philippines for Maria Ressa to travel to Norway next month to accept her Nobel Peace Prize. Will government allow her to do so?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Alam ninyo, nasa korte iyan eh. It is actually an issue na we leave it to the courts to decide. So, as a coequal branch of government, siyempre nirirespeto natin iyong proseso ng ating mga korte. So, we will leave it to the courts to decide.

USEC. IGNACIO: Basahin ko lang din po tanong ni Robina Asido ng Daily Manila Shimbun: We would like to ask daw po sa reaction ng Palace about the Japanese Government’s decision to ban entry of all foreign nationals in their country starting Tuesday due to the Omicron variant. Are we considering doing the same in the Philippines?

CABSEC NOGRALES: Right now, ang ginagawa po natin ay kapag may nakita po tayong isang bansa o ilang mga bansa na nagkakaroon na po ng local transmission ng Omicron ay agad po nating ini-elevate sila sa “Red” list. So iyan po iyong ating protocols at procedure po dito sa bansang Pilipinas.

At iyong mga bansa naman na may positive na Omicron, siyempre, titingnan muna natin kung ito ba’y imported case or ito ba ay local case na may local transmission. Kapag imported case at hindi naman po local transmission ay iyong aming policy sa IATF ay huwag muna nating i-elevate sa red list hangga’t makikita natin na, number one, ay makita naman natin na maganda naman iyong surveillance capacity, capability at ginagawang surveillance ng bansang iyon; kung maganda rin naman iyong ginagawa nilang genome sequencing.

Pero kapag medyo alanganin tayo at hindi mataas iyong ating kumpiyansa na nakakapag-detect sila ng local transmission ng Omicron ay nasa IATF po iyong discretion na i-elevate siya sa red list kung hindi tayo ganoon ka-kampante sa pagdi-detect nila ng local transmission ng Omicron sa kanilang bansa. So, iyan po ang parameters na sinusunod po ng IATF.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. CabSec, pahabol na tanong ni Rosalie Coz, Mela Lesmoras, ni Jo Montemayor: Ano daw po ang reaksyon ng Palace sa withdrawal ni Senator Bong Go sa presidency? Is this the decision of the President? What does President Duterte say about this? And how will PDP-Laban Cusi-faction support para po sa presidential elections?

CABSEC NOGRALES: This is very new developments ‘no kaya as far as PDP-Laban is concerned, alam ko magkakaroon ng mga series of meetings ang PDP-Laban para pag-usapan po ito at hintayin na lamang po natin iyong any statement na ilalabas po ng PDP-Laban tungkol po diyan.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Maraming salamat po sa inyong oras at panahon, Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. Mabuhay po kayo, Secretary!

CABSEC NOGRALES: Maraming, maraming salamat sa iyo, USec. Rocky.

At tulad ng sinabi ko sa simula ng briefing today, we commemorate the 158th birth anniversary of the founder of the Katipunan Gat Andres Bonifacio. Like many of his generation he died young fighting not just for himself but for his people, for the Filipinos. Uulitin ko po, ginawa niya ito hindi lamang para sa sarili kung hindi para lamang sa sarili kung hindi para sa kapakanan ng kapwa.

Napaka-inspiring po ng buhay ni Andres Bonifacio pero hindi po sapat na bumilib lang tayo sa kaniya lalo na ngayon while we fight to end the threat of COVID-19 and to deal with the threats posed by the Omicron variant, we should do more than admire the life he led. We should be inspired to emulate his actions to care about our countrymen to consider the welfare of the country and our community and to work for the common good. Iyan po ang hamon ng panahon.

This is what times has demand pero sa totoo lang, kayang-kaya po nating ibigay ang hinihingi mula sa lahat: Mag-mask nang maayos, maghugas ng kamay, mag-social distancing at magpabakuna.

Hanggang ngayon nananatili ang ating panawagan: Kailangan nating magtulungan!

Maraming, maraming salamat po, USec. Rocky. God bless po sa lahat at ingat po lagi.

USEC. IGNACIO: Salamat po, Secretary Nograles.

At para bigyan tayo ng latest report sa nangyaring pambansang pagbabakuna kahapon, magkakasama natin ngayong umaga mula sa kanilang headquarters sa PICC, si DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, ang chairperson ng National COVID-19 Vaccination Operations Center.

Good morning po, USec.!

DOH USEC. CABOTAJE: Magandang umaga, USec. Rocky at sa lahat ng nakikinig at nanunood sa inyong programa

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. USec., may final figure na po ba tayo kung ilan na iyong nabakunahan kahapon at ilan na po iyong partial data natin ngayong umaga?

DOH USEC. CABOTAJE: Yes, USec. Rocky. I have a slide to show that.

Unang-una, nagpapasalamat tayo sa ating mga health care workers, our public and private sector vaccination partners, buong bansa po who participated in this whole-of-nation effort to achieve population protection.

We have hit 2.5 million jabs [If we can have the slide?], at 2,554,023 ang eksaktong figure as per our November 29, 2021 coverage. This is 2.5 times our average of one of one million [Next slide] which puts us on the top 5 spot worldwide in terms of jabs administered in a single day.

So, iyong kabuuan ng ating report for Day 1, pinakamataas po [Next slide] Iyong ating Region IV-A with 366,000 jabs followed by Region III, Region VI, Region VII then Region V. Siya po ang top 5 based on the number of jabs perform. Iyong sa dulo ng column, nandoon naman based on accomplishment, based on committed targets. So, iyong mga naka-green nakikita natin naka-meet ng kanilang committed targets for day 1.

There have been reports – ito lang iyong ating major challenge – there have been reports that some who walk-in were not given vaccinations. So, mayroon pong direktiba ang ating Presidente to vaccinate everyone. So, ang directive po ay we allow walk-ins, dapat po walang uuwi ng nakapila na hindi nabakunahan. Maraming salamat.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Usec., may mga tanong lang din po. Totoo po ba o natagalan iyong pagpapadala ng datos kahapon at hindi agad natin nakita iyong tunay na mga numero on the ground? Ito po ba daw ay dahil sa kakulangan ng volunteers for data entry?

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: That is not the main reason. Ang unang dahilan, many of our health care workers concentrated magbakuna. They wanted to finish their vaccination activities before they submitted their reports. So, many of the reports came after 7-8, noong tapos na iyong kanilang pagbabakuna.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Tanong naman po ni Red Mendoza ng Manila Times: Bukod dito ano po ang initial observations ng NVOC sa nangyaring bakunahan kahapon? May mga nakita ba silang mga isyu na kailangang ire-solve ngayon at hanggang bukas po?

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: Oo, pinag-usapan namin iyan kagabi ng ating mga operations center tapos kaninang umaga with Sec. Vince Dizon. Ang unang nakita nating problema ay iyong walk-ins were not allowed, tapos iyong ibang LGUs did not accommodate iyong pediatric vaccination. Siguro some of them had in some areas lang hindi available in all vaccination sites.

Pangalawa, masayang problema, iyong there was an overwhelming response. Madami pong pumila, maaga pa lang nakapila na sila para mabakunahan. Kaya nga this had delay in the turn over, we needed to control the crowd. So, it was very important to maintain social distancing; tapos iyong pangatlo, there was a delay nga in the submission and transmission of the reports. Many of the areas wanted to finish their vaccination activities first before they reported.

So, ano ang ginawa natin? So may direktiba na tayo na iyong mga walk-in dapat i-allow natin. Huwag pauwiin iyong mga nakapila na na hindi nabakunahan. Iyong ating reporting naman, we just allow our health care workers to report at least the day’s activities, by the end of the day or even hanggang alas-12:00 ng madaling araw, hanggang alas-6:00 nagri-report iyang ating mga healthcare workers.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Usec., huling tanong ni Red Mendoza ng Manila Times: Sapat po ba daw iyong vaccines para sa pedia population na mababakunahan ngayon at bukas?

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: Yes. We have enough vaccines for our pediatric population, Pfizer and Moderna. Ang ginagawa lang nila or one lane for our pediatric patients. Alam naman natin na our pediatric patients require a bigger space, kasama nila iyong mga nanay nila, iyong mga magulang, iyong mga guardians nila. So, we need a bigger space.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. May mga report din daw, Usec., ng pagdagsa ng mga tao sa mga vaccination hubs. May mga babaguhin din po ba kayo sa protocol sa pagbabakuna dahil sa Omicron variant?

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: We are working closely with the local government units especially today we’re expecting more vaccinees to appear at the vaccination sites. So, nandiyan iyong ating mga PNP, iyong ating mga ibang partners to keep the distance, mga marshals, mga ushers and then, basta schedule natin na maganda iyong ayos ang daloy ng ating pagpapabakuna.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Usec., kumusta rin daw po iyong pamamahagi natin ng booster shots? Kailan po ito bubuksan sa iba pang sector lalo na at pinaghahandaan nga po ng bansa itong panibagong mutation ng COVID-19?

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: Hinihintay po natin iyong EUA ng ating FDA. Kapag mayroon nang EUA ng FDA magbibigay na tayo ng guidelines kaagad at puwede nang umpisahan ang pagbabakuna ng boosters.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Usec., kailan po uli tayo mag-a-announce ng mga dami ng mga nabakunahan? Mamayang hapon po ba malalaman ulit natin iyong mga karagdagan?

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: We’d rather keep it on a daily basis to give time for our health care workers to do really the vaccination. So, hanggang 6:00 o’clock in the morning bukas pumapasok iyong reports. So, we will give the next report tomorrow.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you po, maraming salamat po sa inyong panahon at mga impormasyon, Under Secretary Myrna Cabotaje ng Department of Health.

USEC. MYRNA CABOTAJE: Maraming salamat.

USEC. IGNACIO: Ikinababahala ng marami ang posibleng pagpasok ng Omicron variant ng COVID-19 sa bansa na ayon na nga mismo kay Health Secretary Francisco Duque II ay inevitable or hindi po mapipigilan. Kaugnay niyan makakausap po natin ang World Health Organization Representative to the Philippines na si Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe. Good morning po, sir.

  1. RABINDRA ABEYASINGHE: Good morning Usec. Rocky, it’s better to be back with you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you. Welcome Dr. Rabi. What is your reaction to the new alert levels to be imposed in the country starting tomorrow as discussed by Cabinet Secretary Nograles a while ago? Do you think it is enough as a precautionary measure for Omicron variant?

  1. RABINDRA ABEYASINGHE: Good morning, Usec. Rocky, pleasant to be back with you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you and welcome, Dr. Rabi. What is your reaction to the new alert levels to be imposed in the country starting tomorrow as discussed by Cabinet Secretary Nograles a while ago? Do you think it is enough as precautionary measures for Omicron variant?

  1. RABINDRA ABEYASINGHE: Thank you for that question. It’s important for the country to be prepared and recognize the threat caused by the Omicron variant. We are conscious that we don’t have a lot of information right now about the potential transmissibility, the potential possibility of infections or even its capacity to evade the therapeutics and vaccines that we have. And in the circumstances, the precautionary approach, the risk-based approach adopted by the country is important, I think, and we are supportive of that.

On the alert levels, we support the alert levels because we recognize that COVID-19 is here for the longer term, and we need to manage the risk of COVID-19 without harming the economy and protecting lives. And so, the transient from the quarantine classifications to the alert levels which allows to greater economic activity is welcome and we support that, and we need to be very careful in monitoring the situation for all potential presence of Omicron in the country. And based on the clinical picture and the artifacts as we determine them, we will need to decide whether we need a further increase in those alert levels or we can continue to with the current alert levels. So it is the way we have to go. We have to be prepared.

WHO has always said it’s better to be prepared, more prepared than have regrets later. So preparedness is more important so that we do not have to regret if we did not prepare and had a major surge. So we welcome the efforts of the government and we are supportive of them at this point of time.

Even the fact that we don’t know a lot about the Omicron virus, the situation is evolving very rapidly. The first presence of Omicron was reported to WHO on the 24th of November, and of course now it’s already being confirmed in more than ten countries, and a lot of them are confirming it among travelers coming from South Africa, Southern African countries. So it’s important for us to take a risk-based approach and manage this. It is important for us to increase alert levels, and by that, I mean having stringent measures at points of entry but also importantly, looking at the whole genome sequencing to detect the presence of Omicron virus particularly found from among returnees from abroad or returnees from the Southern African countries.

I would go to say that we should not be looking from Omicron only countries that have confirmed the virus for now because there are many countries that the virus maybe there, the variant maybe there but have no capacity for sequencing. So any returning Overseas Filipinos or foreigners coming in who test positive, I think we need to do whole genome sequencing now. And what is important for genome sequencing perspective is, because of the recent detection of the variant, we need to rapidly do genome sequencing of the most recent arrivals. There is a tendency and a delay the Philippines to be sequencing samples that are four to six weeks collected earlier.

Right now, I think the importance is to focus on those samples of people who detected positive at points of entry for recent arrivals during the last ten days or two weeks because of the likelihood of detecting Omicron virus will be higher if we do whole genome sequencing in these as a priority rather than doing whole genome sequencing on all the cases.

The other important element is that we need to support the Philippine Genome Center to expand its whole genome sequencing capacity so that we are better equipped to detect the entry of Omicron early enough and we can initiate appropriate control measures and alert levels where we identify the variant to be present.

USEC. IGNACIO: Dr. Rabi, I’ll read some questions from our media partners. First, from Lei Alviz of GMA News: Should the country assume they already have undetected cases of Omicron variant? In the case of Delta, it was determined later on, that it was here as early as March, months prior the first detected case.

  1. RABINDRA ABEYASINGHE: Well, it’s always difficult to be very specific and we should not assume that something is here. It needs to be confirmed by testing, that is why I am advocating for testing. But assuming there is a risk and implementing risk-based approaches, increasing preparedness and alert level capacities that is what we need to do. I don’t think we need to overreact; we just need to be very rational in our approach as we try to better understand this new variant.

But as a fundamentally important component of living with COVID-19, we need to further strengthen our capacity to preparedness and response in anticipation of its potential arrival in the country.

USEC. IGNACIO: From Red Mendoza of Manila Times: With the WHO declaring Omicron as having the highest global risk, do you think the steps most countries did such as border restrictions were the most logical thing to do? This comes after South African leaders said that they were being punished for the discovery of the variant through travel restrictions.

  1. RABINDRA ABEYASINGHE: Well, it’s up to individual countries to pick precautionary measures. WHO has always advocated a risk-based approach. So each country needs to consider the risks of potential importation from countries that are already confirming this variant and take appropriate measures while we try to determine the absolute epidemiological significance of the variant and its response to the preventive and treatment protocols that we have in country at the moment, in the world.

So this is sort of an interior measure right now and we continue to urge countries to take a risk-based approach in assessing the likelihood of importation. But I want to reiterate again that that risk-based approach should not only target countries that have already confirmed the Omicron variant in travelers or in citizens. They need to be aware of the fact that many countries have limited capacity for whole genome sequencing and that’s why I’m advocating that any returning traveler from overseas should be sequenced as a priority so that we get a head start on being able to detect the arrival of the variant in the country, learning from previous experiences with Delta like you mentioned. So I think it’s critically important that we take these measures now.

USEC. IGNACIO: His next question is: With the looming threat of the Omicron variant, will the WHO agree to mandate coronavirus vaccinations to allow more people to be protected against the virus?

  1. ABEYASINGHE: Well, WHO has always taken the stance that we are not mandating vaccine. People should be free to decide what’s best for them. But we have strongly advocated that people, particularly people at risk be prioritized and provided with vaccines because we know that the vaccines are life-saving, the vaccines are capable of protecting people from severe disease particularly those who are elderly or who have comorbidities.

So even as we congratulate the government on the tremendous national vaccination days and on the progress in that effort, we continue to reemphasize the importance of prioritizing and ensuring vaccine access to the elderly and the comorbid populations – particularly now that we are seeing the threat of Omicron in the world and the likelihood of its importation. And I want to reiterate that we still remain concerned that nearly 2.5 million elderly Filipinos have still not had even a single dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

So we need to use this situation now and the evolving global situation to emphasize the importance of vaccination for the elderly and the comorbid populations and to make sure that we protect as many of them as possible, as early as possible. Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Yes. Last question of Red Mendoza: The Philippine government has already made the use of face shields voluntary in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3. Many Filipinos have been averse on using the face shields as some experts claimed that it does not really protect a person against COVID-19. What does the WHO think about adding increased protection such as face shields?

  1. ABEYASINGHE: WHO has right along said that this is a virus that is not airborne, right? It’s close contact transmission and that is why we emphasize that what is important is the physical distancing and the face masking and the hand hygiene. If we can ensure that those minimum requirements, that those minimum public health measures are complied with, if we can ensure that people don’t congregate in closed settings, the requirement for face shields probably at this point of time is not mandatory because as I said, we are still looking at understanding the transmission dynamics of the Omicron variant.

So, I think it will be premature now to go there and say we need to reintroduce face shields because we also know that there is significant public discontent on the mandatory use of face shields. So it’s better to get public compliance with the measures that are there and data risk-based approach to reanalyze whether we need to go into the use of face shields or not.

USEC. IGNACIO: Yes. Dr. Rabi, may we also know your reaction to the ongoing 3-day nationwide vaccination drive of the government? Should this be replicated in the coming months?

  1. ABEYASINGHE: Thank you. We have right along been advocating and supporting the government in this effort. WHO, many of our staff and our back organizations including the UNICEF are working hand-in-hand on the ground with the LGUs, with the national government, with the CHDs to ensure the success of this national vaccination drive. It’s important because we are in a scenario that we now have potential circulation of Omicron globally and even besides that, we are ahead of the Christmas season that we know that there could be a lot of gatherings and arrivals from abroad.

So it is an opportunity for us now that we have a lot of vaccines in the country to ensure that those most vulnerable are protected. So we support the national vaccination drive, we are encouraged by the success on the first day but we still note with concern that in many places there was overcrowding in the vaccination centers. We need to try to minimize this, so we need better crowd-control in those places.

We need more capacity to vaccinate people. We also note that in many places we have horde, there being no priority lanes for the elderly and the comorbid populations. We need to try to do this because the maximum impact and benefit of the vaccination is if we can provide access to the vaccines to these groups of people.

The other recommendation that I would like to make is we would like to see and recommend to those LGUs that have setup mobile vaccination teams to reach the elderly and the disabled. If we can replicate that in those LGUs that have not done so, this will significantly increase access to vaccines for these groups and increase the effectiveness of the National Vaccination Days.

So, overall, WHO is fully supporting of the campaign. We are talking with the Department of Health already on the potential replication within the month of December. I’m not sure whether DOH will be decided but preferably before the holiday season we need to see whether we can maximize the protection of the population as we did with the potential arrival of the Delta variant when we increased vaccination in the NCR.

Now, with the potential threat caused by Omicron we need to do the same at the national level and with this will be a great opportunity for us to increase access to protection for the Filipinos now that we have enough vaccines in the country and WHO through COVAX continues to provide large quantities of vaccines to the Philippines.

We just completed five million doses delivery over the weekend through mechanisms by the United Kingdom. We are looking at another 1.6 million doses to be delivered tomorrow through dose sharing from France and we are even looking at nine million doses of J&J and ten million doses of Moderna coming in the first week of December.

So, all these efforts are meant to protect as many Filipinos as possible and so we would urge the LGUs to take the leadership and make the arrangements so that more Filipinos can access vaccines both during the three days and between the three days so that we protect as many of them as possible and minimize the wastage of vaccines that are already in country. Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Dr. Rabindra, thank you very much for joining us this morning. WHO Representative to the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe. Stay safe.

  1. ABEYASINGHE: Thank you.

USEC. IGNACIO: Samantala, mga small business owners naman sa lalawigan ng Romblon ang binisita at hinatiran ng tulong ng tanggapan ni Senator Bong Go kasama po ang DTI, TESDA at DSWD. Narito ang report:

[NEWS REPORT]

USEC. IGNACIO: Isang magandang balita ang inaalok ng Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) sa mga miyembro nito. Para po alamin kung ano iyan, makakausap po natin si Ms. Vilma Fuentes, ang Vice President ng Mindanao office mula sa VisMin Operations Group ng GSIS. Magandang umaga po, Ms. Vilma!

GSIS VP MINDANAO OFFICE FUENTES: Magandang umaga, USec. Rocky at magandang umaga sa lahat ng nanunood ng PTV 4 ngayon.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Ms. Vilma, ano po ba itong GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan?

GSIS VP MINDANAO OFFICE FUENTES: Ang GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan ay ang dating GSIS Pension Loan na pinaganda ang features upang mas matugunan ang pinansiyal na pangangailangan ng old-age pensioners natin.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Pero ano po iyong credit limit ng GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan?

GSIS VP MINDANAO OFFICE FUENTES: USec. Rocky, itinaas namin ang credit limit mula 100,000 hanggang 500,000. Kasi dati, ang maximum limit namin is only 100,000. So, ngayon ipinataas ito hanggang 500,000 kahit 65 years old o higit pa ang kanilang edad. Maaari nang humiram ang lahat ng qualified old-age pensioners ng halagang katumbas hanggang anim or six times their basic monthly pension ngunit hindi lalampas ng 500,000.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Pero ano po iyong interest rate ng GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan, Ms. Wilma?

GSIS VP MINDANAO OFFICE FUENTES: Ang GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan ay may interest rate na 10% per annum.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. At ilang taon daw po babayaran ang GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan, ma’am?

GSIS VP MINDANAO OFFICE FUENTES: Ang loan na ito, USec. Rocky ay payable ng 24 equal monthly installments. Siyempre, to be deducted from their monthly pension.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Ito po iyong mga tanong: Sino na daw po ang puwedeng mag-avail GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan?

GSIS VP MINDANAO OFFICE FUENTES: Maaaring mag-apply sa Enhanced Pension Loan ang lahat ng old-age pensioners natin na tumatanggap na ng kanilang pension nang may isang buwan na o higit pa at walang outstanding loans na binabayaran sa ilalim ng Choice of Loan Amortization Schedule for Pensioners (CLASP).

Kasi, USec. Rocky, kapag nag-retire ang ating mga members sa GSIS at may utang pa, we offer them the Choice of Loan Amortization Schedule for Pensioners na puwede rin nilang bayaran in two to three years. Kapag mayroon kang existing CLASP, hindi pa kayo qualified mag-avail ng pension loan.

So, ang GSIS Program for Restructuring and Repayment of Debts naman o PRRD, sa petsa ng pag-apply dapat wala rin sila noon. By the time na mag-apply sila dapat wala silang CLASP at wala silang PRRD at walang outstanding pension loan. In 24 months kapag nabayaran na nila, puwede ulit sila mag-renew.

May resultang net monthly pension na hindi bababa sa 25% ng kanilang basic monthly pension pagkatapos ibawas ang kanilang loans. Kasi siyempre, USec. Rocky, kailangan may net pension pa rin ang ating pensioners kahit umuutang sila sa GSIS.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. At paano naman daw po makakapag-apply nitong GSIS Enhanced Pension Loan?

  1. VILMA FUENTES: Puwedeng mag-apply over the counter ang ating mga pensioner or through the drop boxes in GSIS offices nationwide. Puwede rin silang online using EGSIS mo or via email to the handling branch. Kasi, sa websites ng GSIS makikita ninyo naman ang directory at kung anong email address ng ating handling branches and or puwede silang mag-apply through the GW@PS or Kiosk. At sa susunod na taon Usec. Rocky, early in 2022 iro-roll out na rin namin iyong mobile app GTouch or GSIS Touch na puwede na ring mag-apply doon ang ating mga pensioners ng pension loan.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. At kung may mga katanungan po o nais na karagdagang impormasyon, ano raw po iyong maaari nilang gawin, Miss Vilma?

  1. VILMA FUENTES: Bisitahin ang www.gsis.gov.ph o GSIS Facebook page @gsis.ph or mag-email sa gsiscares@gsi.gov.ph or puwede silang tumawag sa 88474747 iyong mga taga-Metro Manila or 1800884747 para sa Globe at PM subscribers at 1800108474747 para sa ating mga Smart, Sun at Talk n Text subscriber. Ang listahan ng mga email addresses ng pinakamalapit na branch offices ay makikita rin sa gsis.gov.ph na or sa aming website.

USEC. IGNACIO: Opo. Maraming salamat po sa pagbabahagi ninyo ng impormasyon sa amin, Miss Vilma Fuentes, ang Vice President ng Mindanao office mula sa VisMin operations group ng GSIS. Salamat po.

  1. VILMA FUENTES: Maraming salamat din, Usec. Rocky.

USEC. IGNACIO: Samantala, alamin natin ang sitwasyon sa ikalawang araw ng Bayanihan, Bakunahan National Vaccination Drive. Dagsa pa rin kaya ang mga tao sa vaccination centers? Nasa Malolos Bulacan si Patrick De Jesus, para sa update. Patrick?

[NEWS REPORT]

USEC. IGNACIO: Maraming salamat sa iyo, Patrick De Jesus. Isa sa nakikitang paraan para mapalakas ang antas ng pagbabakuna sa bansa ay ang insentibo. Kaya, ipinanukala na mabigyan ng insentibo lalo na ang mahihirap kapag nagpabakuna dahil batay sa record ng DSWD, wala pang 20% ng mga pinakamahihirap sa bansa ang bakunado. Narito ang report:

[NEWS REPORT]

USEC. IGNACIO: Samantala, as of 4:00PM kahapon, umabot na sa kabuuang bilang na 2,832,375 ang mga nagkakaroon ng COVID-19 sa bansa kung saan nadagdagan ito ng 665 na mga bagong kaso. Iyan na po iyong pinakamababang naitala sa loob ng mahigit isang taon dito sa Pilipinas. 993 naman po ang mga bagong gumaling kaya umabot na ito 2,767,585 total recoveries. Nasa 141 ang nasama sa bilang ng mga nasawi kaya umabot na ito sa 48,501 total deaths. 16,289 o 0.6% ng kabuuang kaso ang aktibo at kasalukuyan pa ring nagpapagaling.

Maraming salamat po sa ating mga partner agency para sa kanilang suporta sa ating programa at maging ang Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). Maraming salamat din po sa inyong pagsama sa amin ngayong umaga ngayong may banta po ng Omicron variant ng COVID-19.

Dalangin natin sa isa’t-isa ay manatili tayong ligtas mula sa sakit lalo na’t 25 days na lamang po at Pasko na.

Ako po si Usec. Rocky Ignacio, magkita-kita tayo muli bukas dito lamang sa Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH.

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