Get It Straight Recap: PH Covid-19 Updates, Jolo Bombings and OFW Concerns

Concerns of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the updates on the research on possible locally grown plants as medicine for COVID-19 and anti-terrorism measures implemented by government after the deadly suicide bombings in Jolo, Sulu were among the topics discussed in Get It Straight (GIS) with Daniel Razon.

Fate of Displaced OFWs Due to the Pandemic – Aug. 28

In the August 28 episode, Kuya Daniel guested Sen. Imee Marcos to discuss the existing state of tens of thousands of OFWs who lost their jobs and have returned home due to the pandemic. An advocate of welfare of Filipinos employed abroad, Sen. Marcos lamented the sorry state of around 70,000 Filipinos who were projected to lose jobs overseas.

In the interview, the daughter of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos urged Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to sign Bayanihan 2, a legislation addressing the country’s COVID-19 response. A section of the bill aims to provide financial aid for the immediate needs of the country’s “modern day heroes.” While admitting that the assistance is not enough for unemployed overseas workers, she said she would make it to a point that they would receive more from the 2021 budget.

Sen. Marcos also laid out her plans for OFWs, including the establishment of an executive department exclusive for their concerns. Apart from providing startup capital for business, she also advised the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to come up with job opportunities for OFWs who are not inclined to entrepreneurship. 

Updates on PH COVID-19 Response – Sept. 2 

The Covid-19 pandemic remains a challenge for the Philippine government. This is the reason why during the September 2 episode, Kuya Daniel interviewed some officials, for them to give the public updates on their fight against the deadly disease. 

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Pena updated Kuya Daniel on the clinical trials conducted on local plants that are believed to have potential in treating mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms. He said that as of the interview date, clinical trials are already underway for virgin coconut oil (VCO). Studies on the moderate to severe cases were already being done in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). It is still in the preliminary stage as there were modifications in the methodology. 

Moreover, studies on the efficacy of lagundi and tawa-tawa against COVID-19 are also underway. 

Sec. Dela Pena also said that the Philippines is a favorite venue for vaccine trials. He said the World Health Organization (WHO) and other independent pharmaceutical companies are currently holding tests in the country. He added that some of them, such as Sputnik V of Russia, only need to secure a few requirements to start Phase 3. In the interview, he detailed the entire vaccine trial process, including the number of volunteers needed in each participating country and the compensation scheme.

In the same episode, Kuya Daniel guested Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to talk about the contract tracing efforts currently done in the city and the rest of the country. The former military officer said the City of Pines is gradually opening its doors to tourists. It is also opening its roads for cargo trucks transporting vegetables and other goods as long as they have secured the appropriate documents. 

AFP Anti-Terror Efforts – Sept. 4

AFP Major General Edgard Arevalo appeared as guest on the September 4 episode where he gave an update about the bloody bombings in Patikul, Jolo, Sulu. According to AFP reports, the two incidents took place on August 24. 

Gen. Arevalo said the military retaliated and reportedly killed a certain Alias Baso, one of the three high profile targets of the Armed Forces. Baso was the son of Alias Sese, one of the suicide bombers that dreadful day. As of the interview, the military is still confirming Baso’s identity.

Apart from military offensives, Gen. Arevalo also disclosed intensified measures to combat the spread of terrorists. These include intelligence and civil military operations. The officer also expressed the military’s concerns, particularly, on the continued recruitment of extremist groups. He said it was largely due to the indoctrination of terrorism to children and teens in evacuation centers, Muslim schools and orphanages. 

The military is stepping up its anti-terrorism campaign that includes screening of social media and other web content. The internet has become a tool for spreading photos, videos and other propaganda materials that introduce terroristic activities in the fertile minds of kids. It is also partnering with the Department of Education to filter educational materials and ensure that no extremist doctrines or ideas would be taught in schools.

Kuya Daniel also had a dialog with newly appointed Police General Camilo Cascolan. Despite his expected short tenure of only two months, he promised to continue the measures implemented by his predecessors. He said he will remain focused on cleansing the police force of corruption and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing fight against drugs. He also wanted to improve the image of the police through enhanced community presence and involvement, especially on development projects.