The new official name for nCoV is covid 19
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2020 - 12:00am

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day but I would like to believe that the current global problem with the novel coronavirus (now officially known as COVID 19 by the World Health Organization) would affect this Valentine’s Day celebration. For instance in our Monday masses at the Sons of David, we no longer use the wine so that the chances of getting infected would remain low, while holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer is no longer necessary.

I got a call from my good friend in Houston, Texas who was taking an Eva Air flight direct from Houston International and I advised him not to pass through Taipei. After our phone call, I just learned that Taiwan has now been included with the rest of China in the hope that there would be less people infected with COVID 19. Another relative of mine emailed me that he was arriving in Cebu via a Cathay Pacific flight, but so far all Cathay Pacific flights have been suspended… so I told my uncle to ask for a refund of his paid ticket and take a Philippine Air Lines (PAL) flight from LAX to Manila.

Meanwhile, I read that the 3,600 people aboard the Diamond Princess, which has been on lockdown for more than a week and desperate for information, have been reduced to peering out windows as hazmat-suited workers take away the newest coronavirus patients and mysterious buses, their interiors shrouded by curtains, come and go from the Yokohama port.

They have Wi-Fi, but it is spotty, and even if it were not, they might search in vain for information about their plight from the tight-lipped Japanese authorities. I don’t blame them, if not for this cruise ship, Japan would not have this much trouble from COVID 19. So you really have to bear with the passengers so as not to scare people in the Japanese mainland.

With 174 of their number known to be infected – the most cases anywhere outside China – one of the biggest questions for those stuck on the Diamond Princess off Yokohama is: Why won’t Japanese health authorities test everyone on board for the virus? Actually they already did when the Diamond Princess first arrived in Yokohama Harbor more than a week ago or that was simply a cursory check? So why are the passengers of the cruise liner infected? This is something that perhaps the passengers are getting on board the ship?

Meanwhile, back to our original topic on celebrating Valentine’s Day tomorrow, we know that in the past years, all the motels and cheap hotels are filled to the brim on that day, including all the restaurants that have enough tables for their customers. But tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day is no ordinary day in the sense that there is a global crisis due to COVID 19. So please don’t forget that prevention is still better than a pound of cure. 

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As the Philippine STAR headlined yesterday, “Phl Serves Notice of VFA Termination.” This was confirmed last Tuesday that the notice has been given to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. and sent to the US government on the same day. According to Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, the termination will take effect after 180 days from now. Meanwhile, Sec. Locsin in a tweet said the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US embassy has received the notice of termination.

Meanwhile many Senators have expressed regret over Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the US, with no less than Senate President Vicente Sotto III raising the possibility of some of his colleagues turning to the Supreme Court (SC) for help not to challenge the President’s order, but to determine if the chamber’s concurrence is needed for abrogating a treaty.

As pointed out by Sotto, that he still respects the decision of the President to terminate the VFA, but he still continues to urge the President to reconsider his stance until the Senators finish its review of the VFA and make recommendations, as stated in Resolution 312 that they passed last Monday night. The Senate President said that he was still inclined to support a pending resolution stating that Senate concurrence is needed before any treaty or agreement is revoked.

Sotto added, “I am inclined to support it because in this case, we thought a review is proper. We thought that we should have been consulted and we were giving out our sense that it should be reconsidered, knowing that there are very serious implications on EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) and the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty), so we thought that we should have been consulted but nevertheless, the chief architect of the foreign policy is the President, the buck stops with him, so be it.” Of course there is no question that the architect of our foreign policy is the President. However the die has been cast and the US has been informed that the VFA has been officially terminated. So now let’s move forward.

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