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EDITORIAL: Let’s #PrayForChina, let’s pray for humanity

in Editorial/News/Tabloid PH News
Let’s #PrayForChina, let’s pray for humanity

Twitter’s trending topic #PrayForChina since the afternoon of January 31 just showed anew how compassionate and godly the Filipinos are.

Yes, every Filipino is afraid of the novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD). Some called for a ban against Chinese nationals. Some even cursed and badmouthed the Chinese. Some even used the issue to call for a change in government via the #OustDuterte. 

But it showed the real character of Filipinos when the hashtag #PrayForChina started to trend. 

One by one, Filipinos are giving their support to the Chinese, instead of condemning them for being the source of the new coronavirus. Several tweets were genuinely expressing their apologies to the Chinese people for blaming them for the spread of the disease. Some recounted stories of how some Chinese people were trying hard not to mingle with Filipinos so as not to create fear of transmitting the disease, even if no one was sure they were infected by it. Some also told tales of how some Filipinos treated some Chinese badly, even at the point of driving them away. But some also shared stories of how the Chinese felt comfortable and safe being here in the Philippines, simply because they know “Filipinos are good people”.

Many skeptics, agnostics and nonbelievers would probably just dismiss #PrayForChina as something that wouldn’t do any good. But it already did its purpose, which is to show to the Chinese that Filipinos as a people, nation and race are supporting—and not condemning—them. It is a big leap for humanity in this time of crisis. 

To quote @nexaaaay: “We should stop blaming the citizens and treat them as if they are the virus themselves. Prevention is okay, but we don’t have to disrespect others in doing so. This is NCov virus not Chinese virus. They are already struggling, let’s not add more burden to them.”

Let us remember that China also helped Filipinos a lot in the past when disaster hit some areas of the country. To name a few, China donated $1.4 worth of relief supplies to the Supertyphoon Yolanda victims; it donated P22 million to help the victims of the earthquakes in Mindanao last year; it gave P10 million for the Batanes quake victims. 

Now, the Philippines may not have the capability to help China in its fight versus the coronavirus. The best that the Filipinos could do, therefore, is to express support and solidarity.

The Philippines is a nation of faithfuls. It is said to be the only Christian country in Asia, and for God-fearing people, there is nothing stronger or more effective than prayers.

Let’s share this strong faith in God to the Chinese people. Let’s #PrayForChina. Let’s pray for humanity.

Filipinos rush to buy face masks while calls for ban on Chinese entry to PH mount after first nCoV case

in News/Tabloid PH News

Filipinos panicked after hearing the official news from the Department of Health (DOH) of the first confirmed novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) case in the country, with videos proliferating on social media showing long queues of people buying face masks in drugstores.

Also, calls to temporarily ban people traveling from China reverberated, with some again using this development to criticize the Duterte administration for not immediately imposing the travel ban after news of the spread of 2019-nCoV broke out.

In a statement, Senator Ralph Recto said: “I think it is time to put a temporary ‘do not enter’ sign on our doorstep for visitors from China.” The Senate President Pro Tempore added: “Let us explain to them that we are not permanently closing our doors. This is not a permanent Great Wall. This is only during the duration of the coronavirus crisis.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the travel ban must firmly include both air and sea travel to prevent a local outbreak. “This includes a temporary ban on all cruise ships from docking at any of our ports.”

Senator Bong Go, President Duterte’s former special assistant, supported the call.

Before this, the DOH said there is still no need to prevent the entry of Chinese to the country, as this may strain the Manila-Beijing diplomatic relations. Now, this pronouncement is being used by Duterte bashers to criticize the government.

On Thursday afternoon (January 30), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that a 38-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan, China has been confirmed to be positive for 2019-nCoV. She arrived in the Philippines via Hongkong on January 21 and admitted in public on January 25 after experiencing a mild cough. The woman did not show other signs of illnesses.

Duque’s announcement read: ”I assure the public that the DOH is on top of this evolving situation. We were able to detect the first confirmed case because of our strong surveillance system, close coordination with the World Health Organization and other national agencies.”

“We are working closely with the hospital where the patient is admitted and have activated the incident command system of the said hospital for appropriate management specifically on infection control, case management and containment. We are also implementing measures to protect the health staff providing care to these patients.”

The DOH is now in the midst of contact tracing to know where the Chinese woman went in the country and who she can in contact with. It has been reported that she went to Cebu and Dumaguete.

Undersecretary Eric Domingo, the DOH spokesman, said she was brought to a hospital in Manila.

Just an hour after the DOH confirmation of the first 2019-nCoV case here, Filipinos started lining up in drugstores to buy face masks. This was shown in videos posted on Twitter by Raffy Tima and Miranda de Quiros taken in Manila and Quezon City, respectively.

Duque: Manila awaits advice from WHO on need to impose travel restrictions vs Chinese nationals

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Duque: Manila awaits advice from WHO on need to impose travel restrictions vs Chinese nationals
Image Credit: Marianne Bermudez/Inquirer

The Philippines would not jump the gun and restrict the travel of Chinese nationals into the country this early to help contain the spread of a new strain of the deadly coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they would still wait for official word from the World Health Organization (WHO) if there is a need to impose travel restrictions, especially with the coming Chinese New Year when more tourists from China are expected.

Interviewed over radio station DZBB on Wednesday (January 22), Duque said: “‘Yung usapin po na travel restriction ay pinag-iisipan na po ‘yan, pinag-uusapan nang malaliman ng WHO kasi kinakailangan kung magkakaroon ng travel restriction, ang mangunguna na dapat magsagawa nito ay ang China mismo… Sila mismo ang pipigil sa kanilang mga mamamayan sa pagbiyahe palabas ng China.”

The Philippines has placed under observation a five-year-old Chinese who arrived sick in Cebu from Wuhan recently. Health officials are determining if it was another case of the new coronavirus strain.

Duque said the situation is “very fluid” at this time. “Maghihintay tayo ng malinaw na gabay o guidelines mula sa World Health Organization na sila naman ang oras-oras na nakikipag-ugnayan sa Chinese Center for Disease Control at saka sa Chinese Ministry of Health.” 

The Philippines is receiving plenty of Chinese visitors, not just for tourism and leisure, but also work-related, as Chinese nationals man numerous offshore gaming hubs in the country. 

The Department of Tourism reported that in the first 10 months of 2019, a total of 1,499,524 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines, 41.13 higher compared to the same period in 2018.

Chinese nationals are expected to travel to different locations for the Chinese New Year (January 25) holidays.

In the meantime, Duque advised Filipinos to avoid crowded places, wash their hands regularly, cover their mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing, and to strengthen their immune system.

The DOH is also prepared for the possible widespread use of N95 masks once the situation requires it.

“Of course, makakatulong ‘yan (N95 masks) pero sa ngayon, hindi pa naman natin kinakailangan pa dahil wala pa namang abiso ang World Health Organization… Pero handa naman tayo na dapat maging available ang N95 masks para mapigilan ang paglanghap nag contaminated na hangin,” he said.

Manila to protest anew China’s sea incursions

in News/Tabloid PH News
Manila to protest anew China’s sea incursions
image credit: @rdmartinson88/twitter

It’s just a few days before President Duterte’s fifth state visit to China and Manila is already set to file a third diplomatic protest against Beijing in a matter of two months due to the countries’ sea conflict.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodory Locsin Jr. posted on Twitter on Friday morning (August 9) that his office is preparing to send another note verbale to Beijing after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana went on air to question the presence of Chinese ships in the Philippine waters.

Locsin’s tweet reads: ”Okay, got it, General. @DFAPHL firing off diplomatic protest.” 

Lorenzana, in an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Friday, said Manila should seek an explanation from Beijing why Chinese warships and research vessels are being spotted in Philippine waters on multiple occasions without clearance from Philippine authorities.

The Defense chief said while the Philippines does not have proper radar equipment to accurately monitor Chinese activities in its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the sightings of Chinese vessels have been revealed by a US-based maritime expert.

Earlier, Ryan Martinson, assistant professor at China Maritime Studies Institute of Naval War College, said Chinese ship Zhanjian has been in the Philippine waters since August 3, with another Chinese survey ship, Dong Fang Hong 3, also seen entering the Philippines’s EEZ.

Chinese warships were also spotted off Sibutu Strait in the Philippines’s southern tip in four instances from February to July.

“What we need really is to allay the fears of the neighbors of China, to inform the other countries what their ships are doing there — not only the survey ship, but also their warships passing through our territorial waters,” Lorenzana said in the ANC interview. “If the intention is only to study the sea or the fish, marine life there, then it is not a security threat. But if they’re doing other things like making reconnaissance or surveillance of our positions, then it’s a threat.”

This will be the third diplomatic protest that Manila will lodged against Beijing in a span of two months, with the first note verbale caused by the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel, and the second due to the presence of numerous Chinese warships in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

President Duterte is set to visit Beijing at the end of the month, the fifth already, as the Philippines and China try to improve ties already hurt by the sea conflicts.

“Once we have set the agenda, I’d talk first about jurisdiction, the COC (South China Sea Code of Conduct), and the exploitation of the natural resources of my country since, as far as I’m concerned, we own it. So that is my position. We still own what we are claiming,” Duterte said on Thursday.

PHL likely to scrap visa upon arrival scheme

in News/Tabloid PH News
PHL likely to scrap visa upon arrival scheme

Manila, Philippines — There is now a big possibility that the government will stop allowing foreigners to enter the Philippines without valid visas following the concern raised by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon that the influx of Chinese nationals is fast becoming a national threat. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teaodoro Locsin Jr., in reaction to Esperon’s statement, said Philippine visas should only be issued to foreigners vetted by consular officers. 

The government, in a bid to boost tourism and investments, has accorded visa-upon-arrival privileges to citizens of almost all countries, giving them the clearance to stay in the Philippines for a period of 14 to 59 days, depending on the rules set by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) per county of origin.

Locsin, via his Twitter account, said: “We need to put an end to visas upon arrival; all visas should be issued by consular offices after vetting. We must take extra care in outsourcing any part of the visa application process, picking only the most reputable worldwide.”

According to a report of the Manila Bulletin, Locsin’s proposal was already seconded by Malacanang, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Joel Villanueva and Panfilo Lacson.

“I agree with Secretary Locsin. We really need to vet first. Because if it’s us, we find it difficult to acquire visas from other countries because they vet first,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo was quoted in the report. “The President will consider the proposal of the Secretary and if we don’t hear anything from him, that means that will be the policy of the government,” he added.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report said based on BI data, there were 20,956 Chinese nationals holding 9G visa, or the pre-arranged employment visa, in 2017. This figure increased to 22,599 in 2018.

Supreme Court Justice Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Chinese nationals coming here to work must follow the country’s labor rules and pay taxes accordingly.

“We have our labor laws. They can come here provided they have a visa or if they want to work, they must pay their taxes. As long as our rules are followed, I don’t see anything wrong…We have to see to it that our rules are followed,” Carpio told reporters. 

Sources: www.inquirer.netmb.com.ph

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