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More EDSA bus routes added

Elmer N. Manuel @tribunephl_lmer



The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday disclosed the Department Transportation (DoTr) will be adding more bus routes in the coming days after Metro Manila transitioned to general community quarantine (GCQ) last Monday.

In a television interview, MMDA EDSA traffic chief Bong Nebrija explained that some 50 to 60 percent volume of vehicles occupied the metro’s main thoroughfare on Monday, the first day of the GCQ.

To recall, some 90 buses plied EDSA to augment the metro’s railway systems, along with permitted taxis, ride-hailing cars, point-to-point buses and shuttle services, as part of the first of two phases of public transportation following the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine.

“I hope the public will understand this is not final yet. This is just the beginning. In the days to come, the DoTr has a plan to phase in more routes,” Nebrija said. “We do not want to overwhelm the system in a way where there will be more commuters and less buses, and there will be chaos on roads because everybody is confused. We’re trying to phase in one by one, so that commuters will get used to it slowly but surely.”

He added commuters can no longer flag down buses at any point on EDSA and are now required to wait at bus stops.

He added vehicles will no longer be able to get through bus lanes.

“Now, this is barricaded and buses will just go round and round,” Nebrija explained.

“We need to do this to protect the commuters as well because we don’t want them to cram in one MRT station and other bus stops, and then everybody will just get the virus and transmit it back home,” he added.

Meanwhile, the MMDA allowed six buses to ply the Fairview-Quezon Avenue route on the second day of the GCQ.

Celine Piolago, MMDA spokesman, revealed the route will be serviced by buses with a fixed rate of P25 pesos each.

She said the buses have been plying the route as early as 5 a.m. yesterday.

Previously, the DoTr said the second phase of the resumption of public transport from 22 to 30 June will allow public utility buses, modern jeepneys and UV express vans.

Meantime, Nebrija said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will have the discretion to select which bus companies will be allowed to ply EDSA under phase 2.

The agency is eyeing vehicles that could operate with cashless payments, Transport Undersecretary Giovanni Lopez earlier said.

The Quezon City Police District and local government yesterday offered free rides to commuters, especially those along Commonwealth Avenue.

The QC government’s Libreng Sakay program allots 14 buses plying two routes.

These routes are from SM Fairview to Quezon Avenue MRT via Commonwealth Avenue, and from Novaliches Bayan to North Avenue MRT.

On the other hand, Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi yesterday checked the city buses to be deployed to help out commuters left stranded by the ban on public transport.

The mayor was accompanied by City Administrator Engr. Allan Cachuela and Muntinlupa Traffic Management Bureau chief Danidon Nolasco in the inspection of the transport buses.

Commuters will be ferried by two city buses and one coaster from Tunasan to Alabang (National Road) and vice versa from 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 to 9 p.m.

Fresnedi said the “no mask, no entry” policy and physical distancing will be strictly implemented in the shuttle services.


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More Remdesivir vials available

Pat C. Santos



To further boost its campaign against the coronavirus disease, the Manila City government has allocated funds to purchase an additional 2,000 vials of Remdesivir, which is said to be effective in COVID-19 treatment.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso made the announcement yesterday as he disclosed 1,000 vials have already been delivered to city hall.

This will add to the 2,000 vials the city bought last August as part of treatment modules for COVID-19-infected Manileños.

The city’s district hospital directors and health officials have already informed the mayor that Remdesivir has been effective in the medical treatment of COVID-19 positive patients.

“This is what’s important for me, that I will be able to help the patients survive. If they are surviving, then we are on the right track in helping as many as possible to survive,” Domagoso said.

The mayor urged the directors of local government hospitals to assist other hospitals, particularly private hospitals and national government hospitals, in case they will require vials of Remdesivir.

“Help as many lives as possible. Let us help in giving life to people. Let us extend our hand because we are talking about saving lives,” he said.

“I am after as many lives that we can save. That is the logic behind our approach for COVID-19. That is a universal approach,” he added.

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Jobseekers warned against illegal recruiters

Raymart Lolo



The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) yesterday issued a warning against travel agencies illegally recruiting jobseekers for overseas employment opportunities.

The POEA said it has received numerous reports concerning travel agencies offering employment abroad.

“The scam involves payment of large amounts of placement/processing fees in exchange for a promise of work with lucrative salaries in factories, farms or hotels and multi-year visas to countries such as South Korea and New Zealand,” the agency said.

A travel agency identified as Sam Stay Tours was reportedly engaged in fraudulent activities by offering fake work or tourist visa stickers in South Korea.

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea clarified that Sam Stay Tours is not an accredited travel agency of the embassy, and that restrictions on work and tourist visa issuance are in place due to COVID-19.

Also, visa stickers are no longer being issued since 1 July 2020.

The Korean Embassy has also issued an advisory warning the public to be careful not to fall for said schemes.

Aside from Sam Stay Tours, other travel agencies reportedly conducting overseas recruitment activities are MGR Travel, Ailar Travel Agency, Agenda de Marisian and other similar offices.

As part of their modus, the travel agencies present dubious certificates of registration from the Department of Trade and Industry, which, even if valid, does not authorize them to conduct recruitment activities, as they are not licensed by the POEA.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in New Zealand and South Korea also clarified they have not accredited any Philippine-based travel agency to conduct recruitment activities.

The POEA warns the public to ignore unsolicited job offers made by travel agencies, consultancy firms and/or training centers.

“These are illegal recruitment schemes,” it stressed.

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Five nabbed at tupada

Paula Antolin



Five men were arrested on Sunday afternoon for engaging in an illegal cockfight or tupada in Quezon City.

Talipapa Police Station P/Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bilaro said the suspects were nabbed at around 12:30 p.m. on 20 September along Fariñas Street in Barangay Bahay Toro.

Those apprehended were Kenneth Presilda, 26, Rufino Fernandez, 47, Dominic Mojar, 39, Inrich Tabayay, 23, and Archie Acuna, 32.

Talipapa police received a telephone call from a concerned citizen about the tupada, which led to the operation resulting in the arrest of the suspects.

Confiscated at the crime scene were two live fighting cocks with gaffs and various bills totaling P1,300.

They will be charged with violation of Presidential Decree 449 (illegal cockfighting) in relation to the general community quarantine.

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Yorme orders manhunt for cop killers

Pat C. Santos



Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso ordered the Manila Police District (MPD) to deploy its personnel in the search for the suspects behind the killing of a police escort on Saturday afternoon in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

During yesterday’s flag-raising ceremony, the mayor expressed grief over the death of PEMS Roel Candido, assigned to MPD Police Station 11, who was shot to death by two men as he was escorting a gold trader from her shop in Ongpin.

“Turn over Manila. Turn over the whole country. Go out and give justice to the police force. Ask Manila cops and they will tell you that cop killers never grow old. I hope you can read between the lines,” an emotional Domagoso said.

“I want justice. How I wish I can get one. I hope God forgives me,” he added.

Candido was escorting home businesswoman Catherine King when a vehicle blocked their path on F. Torres Street, Sta. Cruz. Two armed men emerged from the car and shot dead Candido, before shooting at the car, opening the door and taking away a bag filled with an undetermined amount of cash.

King and her driver, Sulpicio Pisngot were injured in the incident.

The mayor expressed disagreement over the decision of Gen. Camilo Cascolan, Philippine National Police director general, for relieving P/Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan, MPD Police Station 5 commander, for failing to control the crowd at last weekend’s opening of the Manila Bay white sand beach.

He said Caramoan could now be helping in the search for Candido’s killers.

“Instead of punishing Caramoan, he (Cascolan) should instead look for the cop killers, and not go after the criminals on the sand. Look for the guys who killed my policeman. He is also your policeman too. He was totally defenseless as you can see in the video,” Domagoso expressed.

On the other hand, the mayor revealed a suspect has already been arrested in the killing of a traffic marshall in Port Area last week, while another suspect is now the subject of a police manhunt.

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Peloton is new Comelec commissioner




The Commission on Elections (Comelec) welcomed newly appointed commissioner Michael Braganza Peloton as the poll body’s newest member.

Peloton, who has experience in information technology, was introduced by Comelec chief Sheriff Abas in a statement yesterday.

“On behalf of the Commission on Elections, I am delighted to welcome Atty. Michael Braganza Peloton to our Comelec family as the newly nominated commissioner,” Abas said.

The Comelec chief said Peloton will be replacing former Commissioner Luie Tito Guia, who retired in February this year.

Peloton will be serving as commissioner until 2 February 2027.

“Commissioner Peloton is a timely addition to the Commission en banc as his vast experience in the field of Law and Information Technology will highly contribute in our thrust to further improve and revolutionize our electoral processes,” Abas said.

“He will complement the existing members of the Commission en banc as we continue to strive to fulfill Comelec’s mandate of strengthening and advancing our democracy,” he added.

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Drug peddlers nabbed

Neil Alcober



Authorities seized on Sunday night more than P200,000 worth of alleged shabu from two suspects during a buy-bust operation in Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City.

Pasig police chief P/Col. Moises Villaceran Jr. identified the suspects as Jeffrey Suguion, 41, and Anthony Briones, 39.

The suspects were arrested in an operation conducted by operatives of the Pasig City Police Station’s Drug Enforcement Unit along Summerville Nagpayong 2, Barangay Pinagbuhatan at around 8:50 p.m.

Confiscated were four plastic sachets containing suspected shabu weighing about 35 grams with an estimated street value of P238,000, a coin pouch and the P500 buy-bust money.

Also seized from one of the suspects was a Colt caliber .45 pistol, loaded with four live ammunitions.

The suspects, now detained at the Pasig City Police Station custodial facility, will face charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

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Snags hit contact tracers search





The search for contact tracers to assist in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has hit a snag as most applicants fail to complete the requirements needed for the job.

In Quezon City alone, of the 1,000 applications it received, only 364 submitted all needed documents.

Emmanuel Borromeo, Quezon City director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), said those interested for the job must provide a downloadable letter of intent, personal data sheet, National Bureau of Investigation clearance and drug test result.

Because of this, only 113 applicants for contact tracers have been endorsed to the DILG regional office.

“What we do is we text them, send them emails to complete their requirements,” Borromeo said in an interview.

The DILG-QC has until Wednesday, 23 September, to complete its recruitment for additional contact tracers.

The DILG announced last month it was recruiting an additional 50,000 contact tracers to augment the 85,000 it deployed around the country.

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MMDA closes more EDSA U-turn slots




Motorists are advised to study alternate routes to their destinations after the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced it will gradually close 13 U-turn slots in the next three months to make way for the ESDA Busway.

Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago, MMDA spokesperson said the closure of the U-turn slots will allow for faster travel time for buses plying EDSA.

“The barriers for the new bus lane that we will install will really close the U-turn slots along EDSA,” Pialaga said.

Three U-turn slots in Caloocan City will be closed. These are the slots at Gen. Tinio, De Jesus Street/8th Street and Gen. Malvar.

Affected vehicles must take a turn at Monumento, for those who are southbound, and Balintawak Cloverleaf, for those who are northbound, to reach their destinations.

On the other hand, vehicles from NLEX (North of Luzon) toward or turning left at A. De Jesus/8th Street must go straight to A. Bonifacio Avenue, then right at C3/Sgt. Rivera to their destination.

In Quezon City, seven U-turn slots between Balintawak Cloverleaf and Quezon Avenue will be closed. These are the slots at Balintawak Market in front of BPI, Kaingin Road in front of Nissan, Congressional LRT Station in front of PANORAMA, Corregidor intersection/Bansalangin, Quezon City Academy, North Avenue before MRT-North Avenue, and Santolan/Boni Serrano in front of Camp Crame.

All affected vehicles must take a U-turn at Balintawak Cloverleaf (southbound) and Quezon Avenue (northbound) to their destination.

In Makati City, the Buendia U-turn slot under the Kalayaan Flyover will be closed.

All vehicles coming from Guadalupe (northbound) must take a U-turn using the service road/intersection of EDSA/Ayala Avenue to their destination.

In Pasay City, two U-turn slots will be closed: P. Celle and the slot before Roxas Boulevard near Heritage Hotel.

All affected vehicles coming from F.B. Harrison (northbound to southbound) shall take the U-turn slot under Magallanes Flyover and vehicles coming from the south going north must take the signalized intersection or MOA Circle.

Pialago said the MMDA will be providing alternate U-turn slots that motorists may use other than these slots.

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Manila receives 15,000 masks

Pat C. Santos



The City of Manila has received a donation of 15,000 medical masks from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines to support its effort against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, along with Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and Secretary to the Mayor Bernie Ang, received the items from TECO Representative Peiyung Hsu, who was joined by Kenway Tan on behalf of the Taipei mayor.

The Manila officials thanked TECO for the donation, as they acknowledged the support it offered to extend for its other anti-COVID initiatives.

The Manila mayor had been actively calling for everyone in the city to constantly wear a mask, since this is the cheapest and most effective way of protecting oneself and others from becoming infected with the virus.

Ang said the TECO donation is an expression of confidence and support for the joint efforts of Domagoso and Lacuna in addressing the pandemic.

He added the gesture stems from the sister-city relationship between Taipei and Manila, which goes a long way back, and is a demonstration of real friendship between the two cities.

As “sister cities,” Manila and Taipei have agreed to promote cultural and commercial ties and form a linkage that would involve an exchange of culture, trade and tourism for their mutual benefit, Ang explained.

Taiwan is known for its successful response against COVID-19, resulting in a low rate of infections. It recorded only seven deaths in May, at a time when there was a surge in most of other countries.

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