Wi-Fi access in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu

Wi-Fi hotspots were set up on Mar. 5 by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, the two southernmost islands in the country, as part of the government’s free internet access program. DICT said there are now over 8,000 connection points across all 81 provinces.

QualiMed Sta. Rosa first to receive COVAX-funded AstraZeneca doses outside Metro Manila

HEALTHCARE workers in the private sector have not been left behind by the government’s coronavirus vaccination program, with Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc.’s (AC Health) QualiMed Hospital Sta. Rosa getting 600 doses from the initial batch of delivered vaccines. In a statement on Monday, AC Health said QualiMed Hospital Sta. Rosa was the first hospital outside Metro Manila to receive doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which came from the global initiative for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines known as COVAX. “We are honored and privileged to have been included by the DOH (Department of Health) and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) as first recipients outside of Metro Manila for the AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as some doses of the Sinovac vaccines,” AC Health President and Chief executive Officer Paolo Maximo F. Borromeo said. AC Health plans to set up some 20 vaccination sites nationwide to administer 1,000,000 doses by 2021. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte

Dividing Palawan: Comelec says no minimum voter turnout required for plebiscite result to be valid

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday reminded voters in Palawan that even a low turnout during the Mar. 13 plebiscite on dividing the province into three will not invalidate the result. Comelec Regional Election Director Gloria Ramos-Petallo, in an online forum hosted by the poll body, said plebiscites historically have lower voter turnout compared with national or local elections, but there is no minimum percentage required to make the result binding. “Our record will show 47% was the highest voter turnout during a plebiscite… we expect, hope, 100% voting, but if the turnout is low, it will still be valid as long as there will be voters and what we will look at is which one has more votes — yes or no,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino. The province, based on Comelec data, has 490,639 registered voters. The plebiscite is intended to ratify Republic Act No. 11259, signed into law last year, which divides the province into Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur. The localities will be divided into the following: Palawan del Norte — Coron, Culion, Busuanga, Linapacan, Taytay, and El Nido; Palawan Oriental — Roxas, Araceli, Dumaran, Cuyo, Agutaya, Magsaysay, Cagayancillo, and San Vicente; and Palawan del Sur — Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Balabac, and Kalayaan. Puerto Princesa City, currently the capital, will remain an independent local government and will be autonomous from provincial jurisdiction. The law’s proponents, represented by the Partidong Pagbabago ng Palawan, and opponents, represented by the One Palawan movement, discussed their respective positions during the forum. Palawan, an archipelago composed of a mainland with 12 towns and 11 island municipalities, is the country’s largest province in terms of land area at 17,030.75 sq. km. — MSJ