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Moreno’s foresight in using funds amid ongoing health emergency

April 5, 2020

Charlotte, North Carolina—Good day friends and followers I hope you’re all doing well in your home quarantine in whatever part of the world you live in and that all of us find the light in the end of the dark tunnel that is the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve had two podcasts/online voice broadcasts posted so far this week, the latest on Thursday April 2 at 7 am to 8 am Philippine time over at the Facebook page of 105.5 Bay Radio Way Kurat FM Balingasag, the station based in Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental which is the birthplace of former congressman, former Misamis Oriental governor and now last term Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno. Speaking of Mayor Oscar Moreno, my Thursday online broadcast centered on the noise generated over the Cagayan de Oro City Council’s approval of the P658 million budget for the city’s response to the COVID-19 threat  The FB post drew attention from local netizens who joined in on the online uproar, venting their ire on what they perceived was the slow response of the Moreno administration in allocating funds for the distribution of relief goods to the households affected by the ongoing citywide quarantine. And rather than be dismissive of the online furor, let me be clear that Filipinos are guaranteed free speech under the 1987 Constitution even if a lot of them tend to be abusive of this right to the point of being outright malicious. Yes lest we forget the social media landscape had been populated by bashers/trolls or paid hacks who dish out verbal abuse on their designated targets who are usually public officials like Mayor Moreno.  And the last two elections had witnessed the rising weaponization of social media by scheming politicians who pay these trolls to bash their rivals and ride the resulting wave of dissatisfaction to score political mileage.     ************** That is where Mayor Moreno finds himself in, a very volatile spot in which he is being circled by detractors and bashers out to poke holes on his stance to maintain a calibrated citywide quarantine rather than a lockdown that they continue to insist on demanding to this day. Elected public officials made of less sterner substance would have caved in but not Mayor Moreno and so far I admire him for it. Proponents of an ‘enhanced quarantine’ in Cagayan de Oro City similar to what is imposed in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon by the national government may have conveniently overlooked what is happening in these areas right now with the local governments there are barely keeping order as it was amid the riots erupting over the distribution of relief goods. Again, anyone has the right to question and require transparency from government in their dealings and programs that affect their welfare and interest with exceptions of course on public security that may be compromised should details be disclosed and made accessible to enemies of the state. But such demands for transparency and accountability from government unfortunately are being exploited by those with a political agenda in order to score brownie points with the masses. The same thing applies here. The Moreno administration should ensure that they are transparent and accountable to its constituents in the allocation of relief assistance and to be fair, City Hall officials exerted every effort to be transparent to city residents through the daily press briefings at the mayor’s conference room that had been unfairly judged and sneered at by online trolls and paid hacks of these opportunistic opposition politicians. All that these bashers and trolls have produced so far is online noise, screaming ALL CAPS RANTS and sanctimonious indignation signifying nothing of substance, not even a shred of evidence to back up their vitriolic attacks. And I am at a certain age when I get tired and furious at these pathetic trolls who must now work harder than ever to earn their daily bread from their masters.          ************** Let’s try to do it by the numbers okay? City Budget Officer Percy Salazar said City Hall sourced P90 million from the city’s five percent calamity fund or quick response fund amounting to P340 million as initial fund for its response to the COVID-19 threat. About P28 million out of the P90 million had been spent so far which included P111,000 assistance to each of the city’s 80 barangays or more than P8 million in barangay assistance alone. The P28 million also went to the acquisition of thermal scanners or zero contact thermometers that looked like those radar guns used by the police to measure the speed of incoming vehicles which aren’t cheap, along with the purchase of medical supplies for barangay health centers and health workers or frontliners assigned at either the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) and the JR Borja City Hospital. No specific amounts were mentioned but owing to the sharp demand by other hospitals around the country for alcohol, hand sanitizers and other essentials that are in now short supply, it’s safe to assume that the city government spent a lot to maintain this daily supply to their frontliners. Also add in the daily disinfection of public places, the salaries and meals of personnel (we can’t reasonably expect them to work all day for free now, do we) and the picture becomes a bit clearer. And Mayor Moreno made it a point to emphasize to anyone who cared to understand that while the city has money it still has to fully source the P658 million it needs for its COVID-19 response and due to the citywide quarantine that shut down hotels, malls and other businesses that attract large crowds, City Hall expects revenues to decline. I just hope that the P658 million standby fund won’t have to be used so the money can be reverted back to its intended items like school building projects and more, but people’s lives are at stake and Moreno has the foresight and wisdom to calibrate the allocation of funds for as long as the state of public health emergency remains in effect around the country due to the COVID-19 threat. (For questions and comments email me at susanap@yahoo.com and also keep an eye out and hit the notification button for my online broadcasts at 105.5 Bay Radio Way Kurat FM Balingasag by liking, following and sharing the station’s Facebook page).

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A MISTAKEN BELIEF

April 5, 2020

A mistaken belief accompanies each and every one of us daily. Incorrect decisions and wrong doings are part of our daily life. It is almost a ridiculous fact that man wants to know certain truths about mundane things. But really he seems least interested in even mundane truths as can be read many times in newspapers or other media. There seem to be too much rash judgments, and the readers absorb these and make these their own. A fatal attraction! This is sometimes referred to as journalistic mentality wherein accusations are generously made without proof. Evolution started this trend, when scientists stated for example that man evolved from the apes, without proof. The only proof they had was the missing link, and if I am not mistaken, it's still a missing proof until now. To look for proofs is a mental activity, which is no longer a common thing nowadays, because it takes really time, effort and is too serious to think about. Yet in Christian education, thinking right is very important.That's why Philosophy is important in Christian life. To avoid error in thinking, the rules of right reasoning must be studied and mastered. It is really totally neglected in today's modern education? Thinking is actually an enjoyable activity but when one is pressured to get a good job for one's sustenance, then the other more mundane become attractive. After all, great thinkers many time do not get (good?) jobs... . Spiritual writers like the British Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) noticed that mankind had stopped thinking even two centuries ago. That was during his age. Man probably stopped thinking even earlier. He has ceased many times to search for the truth. It's easier to listen to gossip and believe in it. What a sign of weak minds! Too often are we blind to the truth and as a consequence we easily believe in lies we only have to like it. Too bad, if people always like to close their eyes and ears especially while experiencing the delusion of error.   +++   Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .    

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Private sector assists other hospital front liners

April 4, 2020

The two government hospitals in the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus have been getting the bulk of assistance from the private sector, especially on critically needed medical supplies and personal protection equipment (PPEs) for their front liners. The Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) as the only COVID-19 referral hospital in Northern Mindanao (Region X) has been getting a steady stream of assistance from the private sector. On April 3, the Cagayan de Oro Filipino-Chinese Community delivered 250 sets of PPEs manufactured in South Korea worth P450, 000 to NMMC as the second batch of its P1-M assistance earlier committed to the hospital. Last March 23, the same group turned over the first truckload of locally purchased supplies to NMMC worth P365,000 including 60 cartons rubbing alcohol and sanitizing gel, two units knapsack sprayer, 12 pails disinfectant solution (chlorine), safety goggles, rubber boots, protective raincoats with pants, face shields, and 50 cartons disposable water tissues/paper towels. Meantime, the J.R.Borja General Hospital owned and managed by the city government has also been getting a steady stream of PPEs and other medical supplies from the private sector, especially the Rotary Clubs under Zone 1 Council of Presidents headed by Rosalinda Caragos. However, some of the front liners in the city’s other private hospitals have found themselves scrambling for PPEs and other needed supplies since most donations have been going to NMMC and JRBGH. When some nurses from the Cagayan de Oro Polymedic Medical Plaza found themselves short of PPEs like gowns, face masks and shields, civic minded citizens quickly stepped in to assist them. Under the strategy adopted by the Regional and City Health offices, COVID-19 patients are exclusively referred to NMMC while JRBGH’s role is to take in as many non-COVID cases as they can accommodate to give NMMC’s personnel and facilities as much slack as possible to deal with the outbreak. First to answer the call for assistance was the United Church of the Philippines Cagayan de Oro City Church where a dedicated group of church workers have been toiling daily to produce face masks, face shields and PPE gowns for front liners. Not quite a day later, Ms. Irene Floro, former Oro Chamber President and herself a registered nurse, coordinated with PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao Ma. Teresa Alegrio to secure PPEs from STEAG State Power Inc. which were quickly turned over to the CDO Polymedic Plaza nurses. The campaign to curb the spread of the virus was further bolstered on April 1st when the city government received the first batch of PPEs and medical supplies it earlier purchased consisting of 1,400 boxes of protective masks, 2,000 boxes gloves, and 100 gallons of alcohol. The initial shipment has been prioritized for the use of the BHERTS [Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams] who have been conducting a house-to-house assessment of PUM residents. A further shipment of 500 PPEs and 100 thermal guns were received on April 3 by the city government for distribution to front liners in NMMC and JRBGH. (RMB)

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Plan Regional, Act Local-Biz Sector Outlines Response to COVID-19 crisis

April 1, 2020

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Mindanao has started implementing its key strategy as mandated in the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council Economic Cluster. “In the wake of all the community quarantines and lockdown of LGUs , I have outlined the Business sector Response to COVID -19 through the Key Strategy of Planning Regional (through the Regional Disaster Risk Mitigation and Management Council) and Acting Local through the Local Government Units (LGUs-city, province, municipality, barangay),” said Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao. “Our main objective is to secure our food supply chain and support initiatives to protect our healthcare personnel and front liners through the production of locally made Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs),” Alegrio stressed. “As the voice of the business in Mindanao, PCCI will endeavor to provide regular updates to the business community on government directives especially on logistics issues. I encourage each local chamber to provide/share news, reports, and best practices particularly on food security. I will also appreciate any inputs or possible solutions from the group,” she added. As a complementary measure, PCCI is also coordinating with local government units (LGUs) the deployment of rolling stores for each municipality to reinforce the community quarantines and lockdowns now enforced in many localities, by distributing relief packs to individual households, especially the most vulnerable sectors in the informal economy. Bangon Marawi Chamber of Commerce headed by President Elian Macala has partnered with the Lanao del Sur provincial government, the line agencies of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM), and some Meranaw businessmen to launch its Rolling Stores project. According to a MindaNews report filed by Rosslaini Alonto, the rolling stores sell basic necessities such as rice, eggs, vegetables and spices, dried fish, cooking oil, chicken, bread, over-the counter medicines, LPG, purified water, diapers, toiletries although with limits so as to cover as many families in the municipalities who wish to avail of the products. All goods are sold at suggested retail prices. Seven mobile stores were initially dispatched to the towns of Marantao, Taraka and Bacolod Kalawi on Monday, Lumba Bayabao and Binidayan on March 25 and Piagapo on March 26 and were supposed to go to the different towns of Lanao del Sur every day but were unable to proceed due to the Iligan City travel ban. In line with its support initiatives to protect healthcare personnel and front liners, PCCI is also coordinating the local production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) with community production lines for PPEs which is now being undertaken by various volunteer organizations in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Davao , Zamboanga, Butuan , Iligan, and Surigao. “We have emailed to our individual chambers designs/templates of face masks,/face shields and protective suits for their reference,” Alegrio noted. As a complement to this, the local chambers are  also networking with colleges and universities whose chemical laboratories are producing alcohol for distribution to front liners in local hospitals and chamber members following the experience of Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) whose chemistry laboratories successfully began production of 70% isopropyl and 70% ethanol alcohol which were donated for the use of front liners at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center, the only COVID-19 referral hospital in Region X.  “The Oro Chamber is assisting Xavier Ateneo’s alcohol production through material sourcing of absolute alcohol, the raw material for the isopropyl and ethanol alcohol being processed for the NMMC,” Alegrio said. Not the least, she reminded the chambers accountability to the individual workers of their respective business establishments, the community where they are situated, and securing their workplaces against the virus. “The first responsibility of business is to take care of its workers, then to the Community to where the company is located by providing social amelioration, financial assistance and ensuring it follows the DOH guidelines on sanitation and disinfection of the workplace,” Alegrio emphasized.   There are about 45 PCCI local Chambers of Commerce (LCCIs ) in Mindanao, around 90 percent of whose members belong to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) whose capitalization range from P3M-100M  with large companies making up some  10 percent of chamber members, "Butuan CCI donated these neoprene and cloth face masks to their front liners."

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A global enemy to ponder

April 1, 2020

THE opportunity to come together as one humanity to work together, to learn together, to go together. Together we will win (WHO Director. 2020) The quotation above is stated by the director of the World Health Organization (WH): Shares 5, on March 30, 2020. It is absolutely right. For combating the global enemy, we must do it in harmony. Otherwise, we lose. Covid-19 is not new when we have read some journal publications related to biology and its development. However, it is good to follow the WHO's advice and recommendation. But, it is merely on health care, not how to curb the national economy drastic drop in every country. Now, let’s check WHO data and advice as well as recommendations. Let’s keep ourselves updated with Covid-19 from the WHO's situation report daily. There is some information related to what Covid-19 is. How do we challenge it? What recommendation is? Etc.   By following that WHO’s situation report, we can react to this scary coronavirus with good responsibility. Covid-19 is all the nations’ enemy. It is not only one nation. It is not only one family. It is not only an individual’s enemy. But, it is our global enemy. Though we have a different level of being affected, we have to challenge together. If all the nations, the people in every country do the same as recommended by WHO, we can finish it together. It needs to ponder. There are some recommended measures: lockdown, social distancing, and even for an individual’s health care. In the WHO shares 5, (on situation report 70) it is stated that compassion is the best medicine. Moreover, as the UN organ, the WHO provides suggestions related to health care. It isn’t the impact on the nations’ economy. Humanity: work together for all of us. Not for our own individuality. We have to learn together what covid-19 is. It concerns the way to combat the covid-19,  global-enemy? The best medicine is compassion. But, it must be in harmony. I remember the philosophy of Total Quality Management (TQM). It must be done simultenously worldwide. When we have different ways of tackling covid-19—throughout the globe—we cannot win. If we have a different reaction—in our own country—we cannot overcome it quickly. It’s really more disastrous. Together, we will win. Why? In fact, the contagion process is mostly a local transmission. It is from person to person. For that reason, the measures should be appropriate as recommended by WHO. Some measures should be achieved through a combination of public health measures. It must be done together. WHO recommended having a rapid identification, diagnosis and management of the cases, identification and follow up of the contacts, infection prevention and control in health care settings, implementation of health measures for travelers, awareness-raising in the population and risk communication. The ASEAN countries show different data about the cases of covid-19. When looking at the four categories, it looks different. The four important categories: (1) total confirmed, (2) total confirmed new cases: (4) total deaths, and (4) total new deaths. Per March 30, 2020 (while I am writing this article) WHO Shares 5, situation report 70: as follows. Malaysia has 2,470 total confirmed, 150 total confirmed new cases, 50 total deaths, and 7 total new deaths, respectively. Philippines: 1418/343/71/3; Singapore: 844/42/3/1; Vietnam: 188/9/0/0; Brunei Darussalam: 126/6/1/0; Cambodia: 103/1/0/0; Thailand: 1524/136/9/2; Indonesia: 1285/130/114/12; Timor Leste, still under investigation: the total confirmed is only 1. It is more strikingly for the report in Timor Leste. It is stated, it is still under investigation. It has only one total confirmed. Yet, again as the UN organ, WHO is concernwed with health care. It doesn’t provide the world public with  the way how to solve the global problem of every national economy. Unfortunatelt, this is the real problem making the national leaders get dipressed. We are sad, and in a deep condolence. The finance minister, Mr. Thomas Schaefer, Germany ( as reported by Aljazeera media on March 30/2020) had to “finish” his own life. We have in harmony to tackle any global enemy. We cannot do it individually-nationally, let alone personally. For the time being, we can only keep our body healthy by following the WHO’s suggestions, while we are struggling to overcome our national economic conditions. ***** Editor's Note: Dr. Djuwari Sarkawi is an Associate Professor and the Director of Language Laboratory at STIE Perbanas Surabaya, the editor of some research journals in the Philippines and Indonesia. He is also a journalist in some newspapers in Indonesia; the President of International Association of Scholarly Publishers, Editors, and Reviewers (IASPER).

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In the backdrop of Covid-19 crisis: POPCOM hails LGUs’ ‘unsung heroes of FP, reproductive rights’

March 31, 2020

Amid the steady spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), together with local government units (LGUs), remain committed to their advocacy in ensuring uninterrupted rollout and access of reproductive rights, particularly on family planning services.  As the country’s lead population management agency, POPCOM continues to rally behind the local medical community at the grassroots level, including the 11,000-strong barangay health workers and barangay population volunteers.  The commission considers these frontline workers as “the unsung heroes of family health and wellbeing” as they maintain the delivery of the usual basic health services in the face of an ongoing pandemic. In the city of Taguig, for instance, family planning commodities such as pills and condoms are being delivered house-to-house, along with maintenance medicines for hypertension and diabetes, according to Medical Officer III Dr. Maria Criselda Flores. As the family planning (FP) coordinator of the Taguig City Health Office, Dr. Flores maintained that family planning, more than ever, “should continue despite the situation, because women need uninterrupted access to family planning methods to prevent unintended pregnancies.” These “unplanned” incidences, she said, are most likely to arise as the expanded community quarantine (ECQ) forces couples to spend more time with each other indoors. Another FP coordinator, Medical Officer V Dr. Angelica E. Arciaga from Muntinlupa City’s Putatan Health Center-Reproductive Health Clinic, echoed Dr. Flores’ sentiments: “We have no idea as to when the situation with COVID-19 will turn for the better. What if it lasts longer, and users of modern FP methods like injectables miss their regular shots within the three-month effectivity period? It will only render the past family planning efforts of the woman as useless. As such, the purpose of family planning will be defeated; our past investments, futile.” Since POPCOM’s earlier announcement that family planning demand generation will carry on amid the present health crisis, many have actively sought commodities, especially the financially challenged. Take the case of Ellen (not her real name), mother of two, who lost her job because of the ECQ. She said in Filipino: “I was easily able to avail free family planning supplies in our health center. Since I am highly fertile, the pills will be of great help to ensure that the number of my children will remain the same.” Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH said these accounts only encourage POPCOM to persist with their family-planning service delivery, despite the current challenges: “At the minimum, there are about 2 million Filipino users of pills and condoms. We are looking at serving them in the next three months, so we can ensure our family planning programs are still in place, and that no unintended pregnancies happen while the pandemic rages on.” He further added, “These heroic efforts on the part of our family planning workers only embolden us to serve our countrymen and contribute positively in addressing the multidimensional repercussions of this health crisis. All the more that we have to elevate our service delivery in these times, when saving lives is also as important as preserving their quality, especially of the poor who are most affected.” Perez reiterated the agency’s call to LGUs to attend to the reproductive rights of its constituents at this critical time by ensuring access of couples and individuals—especially among the poor and in remote areas—to reproductive health services: “While the COVID-19 crisis calls for urgent responses, family planning, as well as maternal health of women and couples, are also key concerns that may have lasting repercussions if neglected.” The POPCOM executive director confirmed that, while pills and condoms may be delivered to households, other modern family planning methods such as injectables, implants and intrauterine devices or IUDs may still be availed in health centers. For its part, the agency has opened its POPCOM Family Wellness Clinic at Welfareville Compound in Mandaluyong City for uninterrupted provision of services. Those wanting to avail of vasectomies and bilateral tubal ligations may have to wait though, as medical resources for these services are currently allocated to address COVID-19 situations. They are advised to use alternative modern family planning methods previously mentioned. According to the POPCOM chief, various channels such as the hotlines (02) 8531-6897, (02) 8782-9284, (0917) 597-0070 and (0998) 865-2810; as well as its Facebook pages Commission on Population and Development and @UsapTayoSaFP continue to accommodate clients from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays to Fridays. Those in the provinces may proceed to their nearest health centers for more information and to avail of family-planning commodities.

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