Duterte rejects limited face-to-face classes anew due to Delta COVID-19 variant

Duterte rejects limited face-to-face classes anew due to Delta COVID-19 variant
President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised meeting with his pandemic task force on June 21, 2021.
Presidential Communications Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte again thumbed down the Department of Education's proposal to hold pilot face-to-face classes, citing the presence of the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant and the need to vaccinate a majority of the population.  

The president in December last year suspended the approval of the same proposal due to the presence of a COVID-19 variant first seen in the United Kingdom, now referred to as the Alpha variant. 

"Dito sa face-to-face [classes], I think I am not inclined to agree with you. I'm sorry but mahirap (it's hard)...I cannot gamble on the health of the children," Duterte told Education Secretary Leonor Briones during a pandemic task force meeting aired Monday night. 

"[W]e might differ in our opinions about the matter but for as long as there is really no vaccination [for] all," he added. 

Briones shortly after withdrew her department's request for face-to-face classes, telling Duterte that she fully accepted his decision. 

The Delta variant of the coronavirus was first identified in India. According to a report from Reuters, the World Health Organization said it is becoming the globally dominant variant of COVID-19. 

As of Monday, local health authorities have detected 17 cases of the Delta variant in the country. 

Since the Philippines began its inoculation campaign three months ago, it has administered 8,050,711 doses of the COVID-19 jab, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Sunday. Of these, only 2,096,901 have received both doses needed for full vaccination.

The figure represents only 1.9% of the population, remaining far from the 50 to 70 million targeted by officials this year to reach herd immunity. —  Bella Perez-Rubio 


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