Facing a new virus threat from China
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2020 - 12:00am

There was a presscon called by Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco Duque III in Manila the other day that revealed that the DOH is now investigating the case of a five-year-old child from Wuhan City in China, who is currently admitted in a hospital in Cebu City, after testing positive for a non-specific pan corona virus. Sec. Duque also said that the child tested negative of the previously known strains of coronavirus MERS-COv (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and SARS-COv (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus). 

When the Taal Volcano erupted a couple of weeks ago, someone texted me that Cebu City should send face masks to Batangas… however I texted him back that Cebuanos are quietly getting their own face masks in case the wind direction changes south and we’d get affected by the ash cloud spewed by Taal Volcano. Fortunately that didn’t happen, however with the possibility of Cebu City having a potential SARS like virus, many Cebuanos would certainly be wearing N-95 facemasks.

The present case in Cebu City was immediately reported to the Regional Epidemiology & Surveillance Unit of Central Visayas Center for Health Development and the child was endorsed for admission. Meanwhile we read in the news the other day that the DOH was also monitoring three individuals with flu-like symptoms upon entering the country via the Kalibo International Airport from China.

For us in Cebu which has a very strong tourism industry with so many foreign airlines coming to the Mactan Cebu International Airport  (MICA), we need to be extra careful in admitting foreign tourists who may also have a fever or is coughing on the plane before landing in Mactan. Remember the time there was a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong that killed 299 people and in 2003 SARS killed 340 people in mainland China… creating a global pandemic especially here in Cebu. 

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Last Sunday when Pres. Rodrigo Duterte joined the Sinulog Festival at the Cebu City Sports Center he talked about helping the traffic congestion in Cebu. Mind you, all presidents were supported by the local government units (LGUs) but only two presidents…. Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo helped Cebu City when she approved the South Reclamation Project (SRP) and now Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is proposing to solve Cebu’s traffic congestion. Mind you, then Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña supported then Pres. Benigno Aquino III with Sen. Mar Roxas, but in their six years together, they did not even support the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that Mayor Osmeña wanted to bring to Cebu.

Anyway, I reminded Pres. Duterte not to forget his campaign promise to come up with a political infrastructure that would change the political landscape of the Philippines. Then I read in the news that apparently, there were members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reform (Task Force CORE) in a media briefing last Tuesday who told the media that they have gathered at least 22,469 signatures of Filipinos pledging support for amending the Charter, including 256 local chief executives across the country. This means the dream of Pres. Duterte has not faded into oblivion but continues in Congress.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said “We urge the Senate come 2020 to begin their own series of public hearings and public consultations. As soon as we are called by the Senate, we will submit to them the pledges of support, we will submit to them the signatures we have gathered, and we will submit to them the packages of reforms which we earlier submitted to the House.”

At this point in the game what is needed is an information campaign that would be held in more areas this year and next year, including Metro Manila, and the task force hopes senators would also do their part. Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the House of Representatives is expected to pass the proposed amendments at the committee level this week, followed by an approval at the plenary.

The proposed amendments include political and electoral reforms such as strengthening the political party system through provisions setting up campaign funds and prohibiting political turncoatism. Under the proposal, the Commission on Elections will manage a democracy fund for the parties, while Congress could also approve of a political party development fund coming from government money. It also says no to turncoatism.

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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