Category Archives: Health and Environment

Conspiracy in PH purchase of dengvaxia?

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO

PHILIPPINE Senator Richard J. Gordon on Wednesday said he sees “conspiracy” in the government’s procurement of P3.5-billion Dengvaxia vaccines from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur because the budget for the procurement of the vaccine was not even part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) since there was no assurance yet that the vaccine was safe to be administered.
He said he was also astounded by the undue speed in the procurement process for the Dengvaxia Vaccine, the administration of which to at least 830,000 people is now turning into the country’s major health nightmare.<!–more–>
Gordon, chairman of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations or Blue Ribbon, on Wednesday said the committee’s second hearing on the dengue vaccine mess only stressed that the process of procurement appeared to be expedited.
“The process was too fast, it seems they were in haste. Usual process was not prepared for implementation of a new vaccination program. We saw it during hearing in December last year that after every meetings abroad between Sanofi executives and President (Benigno) Aquino or Secretary (Janette Loreto-) Garin, there should be new development in the procurement process,” he said.
“Merong very, very strong signs na parang may conspiracy. Unang-una, wala sa GAA yung budget para sa dengue vaccine. Pangalawa, isiningit lang nila yan, gumawa sila ng paraan para isingit. Kaya nakakapagtaka, bisita ka nang bisita tapos bigla kang magmamadali, isisingit mo yung dengue vaccine. Halatang may nag-mani-obra. Pwedeng para pambaon or para sa boto, we do not know yet. It is very suspicious kasi na ang target areas for implementation ay Regions 3, 4-A and NCR, mga areas na may malalaking boto,” he said.
During the hearings, it was established that Aquino met with Sanofi executives on November 9, 2014 in Beijing, China and again on December 1, 2015, at the sidelines of the Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. In between the two meetings, Garin, who was also present at the December 1 meeting, met with the Sanofic officials on May 14 and 15, 2015 in France.
After Aquino’s last meeting with Sanofi executives, events seemed to have snowballed at such a speed that, in the same month, a proposal to the Department of Budget and Management for Health Facilities Enhancement Program Funding and Procurement of three million doses of dengue vaccine was submitted; the Food and Drugs Administration issued a Certificate of Product Registration for Dengvaxia; and a Special Allotment Release Order was issued.
By January 21 of the following year, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) which was designated as the procuring agency, issued a purchase request to Zuelllig Pharma, Sanofi’s sole distributor in the Philippines and the submission and opening of bids was scheduled for February. News reports said that by February 11, the first batch of shipment arrived in the country. It was also established that funds were only transferred to the PCMC on March 8, 2016 and the PCMC issued a purchase order on March 9.
“A scintilla of doubt creates a tsunami of discredit. The intention to prevent dengue infection was good but it opened health risks to those who haven’t had dengue infections before. And I’m greatly bothered that they used the taxpayer’s money with undue haste to purchase something that resulted in the harm of younger generations. This is not a bridge, this is not a school. This is about the LIFE and DEATH of our children,” he stressed.

World leaders coming to PH

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO

WORLD leaders are expected to arrive in the Philippines this weekend to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Manila.
Most of the leaders will land at Clark International Airport, over 100 kilometers from the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, the venue for the majority of the meetings.
Before the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits kick off on Monday, Nov. 13, some ASEAN leaders are expected to grace the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 to launch the ASEAN Business Advisory Councils’ (ABAC) flagship project, the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).<!–more–>
According to ABAC, it invited President Rodrigo Duterte, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Myanmar State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
They will be joined by other ASEAN leaders in the evening for a gala dinner. After which, the ASEAN leaders will be meeting their counterparts in the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Retreat that will include Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, India, United States, and Russia.
On Monday, there will be an opening ceremony for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
This will be followed by the 31st ASEAN Summit Plenary Session.
The 10 ASEAN leaders will be meeting Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang at the 20th ASEAN-China Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the 20th ASEAN-Japan Summit, and Korean President Moon Jae-in for the 19th ASEAN- Republic of Korea Summit.
ASEAN leaders will also attend the 9th ASEAN-United Nations Summit and meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres.
On the same day, the leaders will also have interface sessions with the private sector–the ASEAN BAC and the East Asia Business Council, where Li, Abe, and Moon will join the ASEAN leaders in this meeting.
By Tuesday, the 12th East Asia Summit and the 15th ASEAN-India Summit will take place.
During the two-day summit, four commemorative summits will be held: the 5th ASEAN-US Summit to commemorate the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations; the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Commemorative Summit; ASEAN-Canada 40th Commemorative Summit; and ASEAN-European Union 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit.
The 10 ASEAN leaders and leaders of its dialogue partners — Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, and India — will meet for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit.
Also on Tuesday, the Philippines will hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship to Singapore for the ASEAN Summit 2018.

 
 

PH monitors NoKor’s missiles

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
THE Department of National Defense (DND) in Manila said it is closely monitoring the situation after North Korea has threatened to launch four intermediate-range missiles off Guam’s waters by mid-August.
“While we believe that the threat of a missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is not directed at the Philippine archipelago, the Department of National Defense is closely monitoring the situation in the region,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement Saturday.
Lorenzana said the DND is treating the event as a civil defense rather than a military issue.

Treaty prohibits US airstrikes in PH

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
UNITED States military assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is limited to technical assistance, information sharing and training while PH-US military alliance remains solid and robust,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella issued the statement after the People’s Palace (Malacañang) on Tuesday said any direct participation in combat operations by US troops, including airstrikes, is prohibited under the Philippine Constitution and the mutual defense treaty between the two countries.
He further clarified that under the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board with the US under the purview of the PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, standing protocols have been put in place that, even to this day, is being followed.
“It does not involve any boots on the ground nor any direct participation in combat operations, such as the air strikes reportedly being planned against Islamic State-inspired groups in the Philippines. This is a matter prohibited by our law and Constitution,” Abella stressed.

PH senator to the rescue of IDPs

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
PHILIPPINE Senator Grace Poe urged the government to focus on the welfare of thousands of locals displaced by the conflict in restive Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, as she pushed for legislation that seeks to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Poe filed Senate Bill No. 1513 or the proposed Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act to ensure that IDPs are accorded the human dignity they deserve.
The senator said more than 300,000 people either continue to live in crowded evacuation centers that lack basic facilities or with relatives or friends.

PH senator speaks of P6.4B drug import

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
“I got to know Mr. Kenneth Dong when a friend introduced him to me several years ago. I was told that he is a legitimate businessman and an importer of Asuki industrial weighing scales. I consider him a friend but I do not know what his dealings and businesses are except for his ownership of Asuki.”
This was the statement Wednesday of Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri on the alleged involvement of Mr. Kenneth Dong on the P6.4 billion drug importation seized in Valenzuela City.
Zubiri said Dong made him “Ninong” (godfather) at his wedding and he was only one of many senators, politicians and celebrities who were asked to be principal sponsor.

PH city to survey quake zones

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
THE city government of Makati in Metro Manila has started the retagging of properties and survey of households located within the five-meter buffer zone on either side of the West Valley Fault (WVF).
The WVF traverses four barangays in the city and is expected to generate a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Metro Manila anytime soon, Makati City Mayor Abby Binay said Tuesday.
Binay said she has ordered the retagging to update the current list of affected properties in preparation for the implementation of the WVF marker installation project in the four barangays. She has also asked for a survey of households located in lots within the buffer zones to determine the number of target beneficiaries for the city’s relocation assistance program.

PH assures safety of ASEAN delegates

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
THE Philippine government on Friday assured the security of local and foreign delegates and media practitioners covering the 50th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting and related meetings from Aug. 2-8, 2017 in Manila.
Concerns about the security of those attending the event have been raised following reports that members of terrorist groups are now in Metro Manila, especially as military operations against ISIS-connected Maute Group continues in Marawi City in Mindanao.

PH Senate ratifies Paris Agreement

By: Oscar Omer Almenario
The Senate adopted a resolution today concurring in the Accession to the Paris Agreement. The agreement seeks to limit the average global temperature to “well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”
Adopted was Senate Resolution 320. Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on the Paris Agreement under the Committee on Foreign Relations, said the Philippines’ ratification of the agreement would send a strong signal of the country’s continuing commitment to work with the rest of the world in ensuring the survival of mankind.
“Our nation bears the brunt of climate change even if we are among those who contributed the least to the crisis,” Legarda said.

PH leader: Criminals have no humanity

By: Oscar Omer Almenario
PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said criminals have no humanity.
The President made the statement during an interview in Cebu City in response to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which said drug-related killings may be considered crimes against humanity.
“If you kill criminals, it is not a crime against humanity. The criminals have no humanity,” Duterte said after the groundbreaking ceremony for the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.
He likewise said those who were killed in legitimate government operations were the ones who fought back against law enforcers.