WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The President’s men give us a rundown on the government’s pandemic, security, and justice initiatives ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address
Should PH raise the Hague ruling at the UN General Assembly?
Locsin again rejects the proposal of his predecessor, foreign secretary Albert del Rosario.
Bringing the ruling up in the UN general assembly will be like leaving support for it it to a “numbers game,” he says, when the case has already been won.
Locsin defends PH Anti-terror law
The DFA chief has been a staunch defender of the controversial Anti-Terror Act recently signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte. He calls critics of the measure “illiterate” and also says this is different from the Hong Kong national security law.
Locsin runs through latest developments in the West Philippine Sea
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr reiterates the Philippines stands firm in the historic 2016 Hague ruling it won against China. He earlier put out the country’s strongest statement on the issue during the 4th anniversary of the ruling where asserted it is a ‘non-negotiable,’ and called on China to comply with it in ‘good faith.’
China again rejected the ruling claiming it as “illegal and invalid.”
What of Beijing’s position? Locsin says “it’s a free world” and China is entitled to its opinion but this leaves the Philippines’ position unchanged.
Both the Philippines and China always say the South China Sea dispute is not the “sum-total” of relations. On the ground, however, it remains a major flashpoint in ties between the two countries.
WATCH LIVE: Pre-SONA 2020 Forum of Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster
Officials from the Security, Justice, and Peace Cluster answer questions from the media
Lorenzana says PH is ready for natural disasters
Asked what the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) is doing to prepare for the typhoon season, Defense Secretary Deflin Lorenzana says efforts to boost the different regions’ disaster response capability have been underway.
Lorenzana, who oversees the OCD, adds the country is ready to face another typhoon season.
Galvez reports on gov’t pandemic response
Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr is the chief implementer of the government’s National Action Plan (NAP) on the coronavirus pandemic, and of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19.
Phase 2 of the NAP will focus on “ensuring the health of Filipinos while we provide breathing space for our economy.”
A “zoning and containment strategy” in enforcing targeted lockdowns is employed.
The government now aims to test 10% of the national population for COVID-19. It has more or less 10 million testing kits available, Galvez says.
“We were able to test 27,000 people a day,” he adds.
Coronavirus testing strategy to expand further
National Task Force Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr says there are some 10 million test kits that will be available as the government expands its testing program.
Yet while the administration boasts about testing capacity of labs, the number of samples tested daily still falls short of the targeted 30,000 first set for the end of May.
Latest data showed labs were able to do at least 20,000 tests daily in the past week. While tests go up, the share of people testing positive for the disease is also increasing, which means the virus is still spreading.
Now, the government is aiming test about 10 million Filipinos for COVID-19 by 2021.
Pandemic displaces over 96,000 Filipinos so far
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr says 96,228 overseas Filipinos have been repatriated by the agency as of July 21 and commits to bringing home more as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.
The operations are costly, however, and the DFA earlier said it is running low on repatriation funds which may run out by August.
Locsin says the agency has cancelled its plans to retrofit the department’s headquarters along Roxas Boulevard to provide more funds for repatriation.
Is activism not terrorism?
In defending the anti-terror law, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said “activism is not terrorism.”
Under Section 4 of the anti-terror law, activism is terrorism if it has an intent to cause risk or harm, a qualification slammed as prone to abuse by critics of the law.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra himself said this provision needs clarifications in the upcoming Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
Guevarra has called on law enforcement to be prudent and not implement the anti-terror law yet while they are still working on the IRR.