POSTSCRIPT / March 4, 2021 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Duterte visibly tired, needs long vacation

AFTER watching the RTVM video showing President Duterte fielding questions in a presscon at the arrival Sunday of Chinese vaccines for COVID-19, we are compelled to suggest that he consider taking a vacation to at least rest his overworked mind.

His responses to easy questions were rambling and off-tangent. He was not as sharp as we want our President to be. Watch the video and see why we think Duterte, turning 76 (he even missed giving his correct age!) on March 28, needs to rest.

Taxpayers see him at work only for an hour or so every week, which involves reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, reading a list of government personnel meted out disciplinary action, and lashing out at his critics and the opposition. That routine is grueling enough to tire him out?

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SECRETARY Harry Roque better make up his mind what he wants to be — a presidential spokesman or a tourism gadabout — before running for senator in the 2022 elections. He now seems to be squeezing to the last drop the tourism and holiday opportunities open to him.

Responding to calls for President Duterte to reconsider his order turning into “special working days” the traditional holidays of Nov. 2 (All Saints’ Day), and Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 (the eves of Christmas and New Year’s Day, Roque opened his mouth and exposed half of his lower brain.

He said, his subconscious showing, “Napakatagal na po nating nakabakasyon, halos isang taon na tayong nakabakasyon dahil sa COVID-19… Siguro naman po, ngayong nandito na ang bakuna, hayaan naman nating maka-recover tayo for the lost time.”

So Malacañang thinks the millions of restless, hungry people looking for jobs, scrounging around for scrap to take home to their children, are just on vacation and enjoying it?

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WITH Solicitor General Jose Calida’s string of major legal setbacks lately, perhaps the honorable thing for him to do is to resign or at least minimize intruding into cases better left to private counsel, or to stop prosecuting cases that are clearly motivated by partisan politics.

On Monday, the Court of Appeals overturned an order by the Makati RTC to revive the rebellion case against former senator Antonio Trillanes IV as pushed by the Solicitor General. The CA said the RTC judge acted with grave abuse of discretion. Another blow to Calida who initiated the review of the amnesty granted to Trillanes.

Recently, the Supreme Court sent out Calida who had come in ostensibly as amicus curiae but who was actually acting as a friend of ex-senator Bongbong Marcos, a private party protesting the election in 2016 of Vice President Leni Robredo. That was embarrassing.

Recall also Calida’s role in the ouster in 2018 of then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno through a novel quo warranto petition and not through the constitutional process of impeachment. That was claimed as a legal, albeit controversial, victory of Calida.

Btw, we have been looking for an appropriate Filipino term to use as translation of “Oral Arguments” as conducted before the Supreme Court in the petitions questioning the Anti-Terrorism Act. Kindly email suggestions to

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AT LEAST 20 individuals were reported Tuesday by the Department of Health to have experienced “minor and common” adverse effects after being inoculated with the newly arrived vaccines from Sinovac Biotech of China.

The reactions included pain in their arm, rashes, nausea, and a rise in blood pressure. The complaining vaccinees were not admitted into hospitals but sent home after some time. Such reactions were considered normal.

We have been wondering, meanwhile, how records of vaccinees are generated, saved and retrieved when it is time, for instance, for their second dose. How are the lists safeguarded and the identities of persons presenting themselves checked against the lists? What IDs are accepted?

The 600,000 doses that arrived Sunday are good for only 300,000 persons at two doses per head. This is a small number compared to the 80 million targeted for the mass vaccination to be effective in curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has not announced the confirmed arrival dates and the number of other vaccines purchased from or donated by various sources.

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DECADES ago, we carried a yellow “passport” with our regular passports showing what valid vaccinations we had for the countries we were traveling to or from. To expedite present-day travel, maybe the World Health Organization could institute something like that?

Or the vaccination and quarantine record of the traveler could be added to the data contained in machine/computer-readable passports to eliminate the need for a secondary vaccination “passport”.

This additional pre-departure requirement may add to the troublesome details of travel and tourism, but it is a step that could lighten everybody’s mental baggage.

Properly managed worldwide, this could expedite movements of legitimate travelers, reducing or at times eliminating the need for subjecting travelers to prolonged quarantine processing.

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NOW and then, we hear of plans or proposals to place certain areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), Enhanced Community Quarantine (EQC), or Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ). Are there other variations?

The distinction among these terms and other situational descriptions are not clear to many people we have asked. In terms of the scope of application and the strictness of restrictions, how are the three (and other) classifications differentiated?

On modifications, could there be changes or variations that would relieve or (on the other hand) make more strict the control measures?

We’ve noticed that to most people the acronyms simply mean restrictions, the level or the intensity of enforcement dependent on many variables. The distinctions apparently have faded in many people’s minds.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 3, 2021)

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