Last night, May 26, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is not allowing the reopening of classes in August, rejecting the Department of Education’s earlier announcement that classes will commence on Aug. 24. He said that unless there is a vaccine, classes will not resume.
“I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit ‘yang mga bata. Bahala na ‘di makatapos, for this generation wala na makatapos na doktor, pati engineer. Wala nang aral, laro na lang, unless I am sure they are really safe,” said Duterte.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced on May 11 that classes can be conducted physically or virtually beginning Aug. 24, depending on the state of the pandemic. Face-to-face classes can be held in places that are “allowed to open physically” and have eased quarantine protocols.
Updates on PPEs
At the start of last night’s presidential address, Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao presented to the president a complete set of personal protective equipment (PPE) and stated that it is one of the most expensive (costing at P1,110), high quality protective gear. Lao explained that the Department of Health and Food and Drug Administration followed international standards in choosing the equipment composed of anti-fog goggles, N95 or KN95 mask, and isolation level lab gown.
Duterte said that the government will spend money for the equipment after Lao’s announcement that it is more expensive, adding that even the reusable PPEs should be thrown away immediately to lessen the risk of infection.
The president then asked about a couple supposedly selling overpriced medical equipment. Lao explained that the couple in question are the owners of Omnibus, a licensed reseller of Sansure medical equipment. However, they lost the bidding to sell the equipment in the country as they sold it for a higher price. Duterte denounced the corruption of businesses and reiterated that the National Bureau of Investigation should file cases against them.
LGU rejection of OFWs
He then talked about the 24,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are not allowed entrance to their hometowns by local governments. The president instructed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to use all government assets to transport the OFWs back to their homes. However, there are still 62,302 more OFWs who are expected to arrive in the country soon. Duterte ordered all local government officials to allow Filipinos entrance.
“I said nobody […] only the national government can impose restrictions on travels because it is the only agency who can declare that there is an emergency of national interest,” he said. He added that those who obstruct the movement of people can be sued criminally.
To this, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año explained that the 24,000 OFWs are scheduled to go back to their home provinces this week as they have undergone the COVID-19 tests and all have tested negative.
“Kawawa itong [24,000]. So I am ordering—kasali na ‘yung pera sa—kung may naiwan pa sa 200 million gastusin rin ninyo ‘yon para sa pag-uwi ng tao,” Duterte said.
The president then reiterated the importance of staying at home during the pandemic. He reminded everyone to wear masks and wash their hands.
“Bantay kayo diyan. Do not be reckless. That’s the word. Huwag kayong masyadong pabaya na… Basta sinabi ko sa inyo, alcohol, hugas kamay, mask. Maglabas kayo, take all precautions para walang sisihan.”
The country currently has a total 14,319 people infected by COVID-19, with 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries.
Header photo courtesy of Presidential Communications Operations Office
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