[Blueboard] Newsbriefs 24 June 2009 Morning

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Wed Jun 24 13:51:37 PHT 2009

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Newsbriefs 24 June 2009 Morning

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan


Swine flu grips Congress (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines-Swine Flu has paralyzed the House of pork.

The House of Representatives whose members receive pork barrel has suspended office work for five days after reports that the country's first swine flu-related fatality was its employee.
A 49-year-old woman was a staff member of the House committee on people's participation, which holds office on the third floor of the Ramon Mitra building along with dozens of other committees.

She attended a seminar from June 15 to 16 at the Batasan complex in Quezon City where the House is located, and reported for work on June 17 until she fell gravely ill on June 18, according to a House official. She died on June 19.

Speaker Prospero Nograles ordered the suspension of office work from noon yesterday until June 28 to allow the Department of Health (DOH) to sanitize all buildings in the complex and conduct contact tracing of the victim's families and friends.

RP flu cases hit 500-mark (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines-Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared on Tuesday a "low-level" community outbreak of the Influenza A(H1N1) virus in certain parts of Metro Manila, as the number of confirmed cases neared the 500 mark. Hundreds more suspected cases are waiting to be officially tested.

Duque said the virus transmission had apparently gone beyond "third generation" in the communities where affected schools were located.

He mentioned Quezon City, Parañaque and Manila as sites of low-level community outbreak. These, along with Makati, have the highest number of swine flu cases based on the place of residence.

"We're there but it's low-level," Duque said at a news briefing when asked if a community-level transmission already existed after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 28 new cases that brought the total to 473.

A community-level outbreak is the fourth and highest level of transmission.

RP tarries as rich countries battle for flu vaccine supply (www.gmanews.tv)

MANILA, Philippines - The race for the still unavailable vaccine against Influenza A(H1N1) virus is on. Affluent countries have made advanced orders for the sought-after vaccine, but the Philippines appears to be dilly-dallying, even after the death of a 49-year-old Filipina who became the first A(H1N1)-related fatality in Asia



"We haven't placed any order yet because we need to determine the priority group," says Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, director of the Department of Health (DOH)'s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control. 

The determination of the group who will first benefit from the vaccine against A(H1N1) is dependent on the country's goal, according to Oliveros: Will it prioritize public service? Will it focus on economic sustainability, or will it concentrate on minimizing casualties?

"If it is social service, then health workers, policemen, and the military will be the priority. If it's economic productivity, we will concentrate on working groups. But if the goal is reducing mortality then we will prioritize the very young and the very old," Oliveros says.


No election could spark revolution (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines-Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed on Tuesday concern over the preparations for the conduct of the automated balloting next year, warning a failure to hold the presidential election could spark a revolution.

During a four-hour Senate hearing, officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) were questioned on whether due diligence had been made in selecting the consortium of Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. to carry out the computerized polling.

The signing of the P7.4-billion contract has been set for Friday with the Barbados-based company to supply 82,200 counting machines to get results of the polls within two days of voting instead of weeks it takes currently.

The senators also sought a review of the "hubs" where the counting machines will be stored following disclosure that planning for this had been subcontracted by Smartmatic to a forward firm, To Go, owned by the Aboitiz family that is closely identified with the First Family.

"If you don't have an election in this country, you're going to have a revolution," Enrile said. "We have to be very careful and be sure that we can really hold an election with an automated system. Never mind the money, it's the social explosion that will come that we should be worried about," he added.

Senators score Comelec for logistical loopholes (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)
MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) would be highly dependent on the ability of the poll automation winning bidder to deliver critical aspects of the 2010 elections, lawmakers pointed out Tuesday.

At the hearing of the constitutional amendments and electoral reforms committee in the Senate, Comelec officials were scored for leaving most of the decisions about logistics and communication facilities to the consortium of Smartmatic and Total Information Management Corp (TIM).

These logistical tasks involve the availability and distribution of the counting machines nationwide-even in the farthest islands of the country-before the election day in May 2010. 

Senators noted that the Comelec officials have not yet ironed out these tasks considering it is just three days before Comelec awards the P11.3 billion poll automation project to Smartmatic-TIM.



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