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No face-to-face classes until Covid-19 vaccine is available – Department of Education

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Students will remain at home indefinitely after the Department of Education (DepEd) announced its compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to suspend face-to-face classes until a vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is available.

In a statement, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones thanked Duterte for supporting DepEd’s endeavour to offer alternative learning methods in light of the public health situation caused by the disease.

While preparing schools for “a different setup” is a challenge, she said DepEd is readying the resumption of school operations based on their Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) which would affect almost the entire education infrastructure in the country – from the DepEd Central Office down to the school level.

“We are updating our policies, realigning our finances, and collaborating with our partners so that our goals of providing quality education and protecting the safety and health of our constituents will be achieved,” Briones said.

Remote enrollment is ongoing nationwide with the aim of collecting and assessing household information of students.

The enrollment will be crucial in preparing and tailor-fitting the learning delivery method in different localities, Briones said.

Meanwhile, the groundwork for “blended learning” is underway, which would make use of radio, television, online, and modular learning – currently being prepared and updated by the DepEd this year.

“At the same time, teachers are being trained on utilizing newer platforms and innovative tools to aid their professional development,” Briones said.

To ensure the effectiveness of these alternative learning methods, she said the DepEd is working with the private sector and education experts to make the necessary steps “logically sound, especially on the development, acquisition and deployment of learning resources.”

For the duration of its implementation of the BE-LCP, she said the DepEd would provide regular assessment reports to the public which it previously committed to the House of Representatives.

Last week, the DepEd announced that a total of 5,204,949 students have enrolled in both public and private schools nationwide during the first week of its remote enrollment system.

The enrollment, which is for the school year 2020-2021, is done through the phone or through online platforms and will last until June 30.

Philippines News Agency

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Asia Pacific

Indian Rafale Jets Would Have Been Useless Against Chinese Airforce – Russia Experts

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Rafale jets would have been useless against the Chinese Airforce (PLAAF) – Russian aviation experts have claimed. Rafale fighter jets belong to the 4 ++ generation would not have been of much use had an aerial conflict broken out in Ladakh again the PLAAF.

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As reported by EurAsian Times, India and China had been engaged in a brutal conflict in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Troops of both countries have exchanged blows and even lost soldiers in the conflict that began more than a month ago.

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Keeping in mind the situation in Ladakh, France said that it would accelerate the delivery of Rafale fighter jets to India. Aviation experts believe that the arrival of Rafale fighter jets will significantly boost the combat capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF). However, according to Russian experts, who did not wish to be named, the French fighter would not help India much incase the conflict turns hot.

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The astronomical cost of Rafale fighter jets is one of the reasons the French 4++ fighter jet would not help India. In the deal struck with Paris, New Delhi agreed to purchase 36 Rafale Jets. The total cost of the deal was an estimated Rs 59,000 crore with each jet costing around Rs 1,646 crore.

The cost of a Rafale is about three times higher than the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jets. In other words, for 36 French-made Rafale fighters that will appear in the Indian Air Force, China can respond with three times as many of its fifth-generation J-20 fighters – for the same money.

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Even if, in some ways, the characteristics of the Chinese combat aircraft lag behind the French 4 ++ fighter jet, then the Indian air force could get overwhelmed by what is called “capable of crushing by quantity”.

And the cost is not the only reason why Rafale jets would not help India much. Compared to another Chinese jet – J-16 (an analogue of the Russian Su-35) which Beijing is also using in its airforce, the Rafale jets will find it extremely challenging to outgun the Russian Su-35s operated by the Chinese.

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The maximum speed of the Rafale jet is about Mach 1.8 and the J-16 is Mach 2.2. The Rafale’s practical ceiling is also lower than the J-16s. Even in engine thrust, the Chinese J-16s aka Russian Su-35s are far superior to the French combat aircraft.

Even if the IAF was to deploy all 36 of its newly acquired jets, the technical superiority would still be on the side of China, claims the Russian expert.

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The IAF has been on high alert in Ladakh and is closely monitoring all Chinese activity near the Line of Control.  As reported by EurAsian Times, New Delhi has inked a deal with Moscow to buy 33 new fighter aircraft including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with up-gradation of 59 MiG-29s. The addition and up-gradation of jets have been approved to strengthen India’s air power.

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The air defence systems of both the Indian Army and the IAF have been deployed in Ladakh to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People’s Liberation Army choppers there.

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Turkey Tests Russian S-400 Missiles Against American F-16 Fighter Jets

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Turkey has reportedly tested the S-400 air defence systems against US-developed F-16 fighter jets. According to reports, the S-400 air defence systems deployed at the Mürted air base near Ankara were tested on the US-made F-16 Viper and F-4 Phantom II fighters. 

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Edition of Fighter Jets World notes that the F-16 fighter jets were seen in the vicinity of the Mürted airbase. “Within the scope of some projects carried out in coordination with the Presidency of Defense Industries, F-16 aircraft and other aircraft of the [Turkish] Air Force will carry out low and high altitude test flights on Monday and Tuesday in the skies of Ankara,” an official statement said.

However, video footage of the tests so far show F-16s and F-4s flying over Murted and examples of the 91N6E surveillance and acquisition radar and the 96L6E air search and acquisition radar, the latter elevated on a 40V6M mast, clearly in operation below.

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The mast-mounted version of the 96L6E is also designed to be better able to detect low-flying targets that a radar positioned right on the ground might not be able to detect through the surface clutter.

Russia announced in September 2017 that it had signed a $2.5 billion deal with Turkey on the delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Ankara. Under the contract, Ankara will get a regiment set of S-400 air defence missile systems (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.

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The S-400 ‘Triumf’ is the most advanced long-range air defence missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range weapons, and can also be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.

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Global Politics

Death of Police Doctor due to inhalation of decontamination chemicals – Philippines ready for probe

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While it welcomes any investigation on the death of a police doctor allegedly due to inhalation of decontamination chemicals, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) clarified that it does not buy or distribute any disinfectant materials to any coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) quarantine facility in the country.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesperson Mark Cashean Timbal issued this statement Monday after reports claimed that the Philippine National Police (PNP) tagged the OCD as the source of the chemical that allegedly resulted in the death of Capt. Casey Gutierrez in a quarantine facility in Pasig last month.

“Wala pong binibili at binibigay na decontamination chemicals ang OCD para sa kahit anong Covid-19 facility (The OCD does not buy and distribute any decontamination chemicals to any Covid-19 facility). The only services that were arranged by OCD are: food catering, lodging for servicing personnel, provision of (personal protective equipment sets), hygiene kits, medical equipment and supplies, janitorial services, and waste collection and disposal. OCD is not involved in the actual management and operation of any Covid-19 facility liban po sa pagbibigay ng mga nabanggit (except for the services cited),” he said.

The OCD is the executive arm of the NDRRMC and the implementer of its programs.

“We are confident that the PNP, who manages the Ultra Covid-19 facility, would be able to resolve this matter by verifying where the said chemical actually came from and by examining their procedures involved in disinfecting the facilities they manage as well as the protection of their front-line staff,” Timbal added.

Meanwhile, the PNP clarified the OCD is neither blamed nor pointed to as the source of the concentrated disinfectant solution used by medical and healthcare personnel at the Philsports Arena Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facility (PSA TTMF).

“In the interest of a thorough investigation, it was suggested that the OCD be asked to assist in the determination of the chemicals’ source given that it was OCD that accredited the service providers in the quarantine facilities operated by the PNP,” said PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac in a statement.

The PNP earlier noted that the chemical disinfectant used in another PNP-managed quarantine facility at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City is hypoallergenic and biodegradable and that the PSA TTMF and PICC have different service providers.

Philippines News Agency

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