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51 new agents don PDEA badges

Paula Antolin

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Fifty-one rookie drug enforcement officers were finally able to don their badges after graduating Friday from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Academy in Camp Castañeda in Silang, Cavite.

The Drug Enforcement Officers Basic Course (DEOBC) “Mangalagad” Class 2020-18 is the first batch of agents to graduate since Director General Wilkins Villanueva assumed office last June.

This batch is the smallest in terms of the number of graduates since the PDEA Academy was instituted in 2006, next to the DEOBC Class 2006-01 “Unang Sinag,” the pioneering batch which produced 55 graduates.

“The Mangalagad Class may be few in numbers but mighty in courage and spirit being hailed as front liners amid the coronavirus pandemic for the sake of saving the future of the next generations,” Villanueva said in his message.

He also expressed pride over the graduates who exhibited “full of zeal in carrying out their duties and responsibilities competently, professionally and with the highest ethical standard as new front liners in the battle against illegal drugs.”

The Mangalagad Class — which stands for “Mga Alagad na Nagkakaisa Para Gampanan ang Tungkulin na Labanan at Gibain ang Iligal na Droga” — is the 18th batch of
anti-narcotics officers to graduate from the PDEA Academy.

They have undergone six months of training under the supervision of PDEA Academy Superintendent, Director Lirio Ilao, where they were equipped with the essential knowledge and skills, and transformed into principled, skilled and well-rounded PDEA agents — the primary implementors of Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The graduates will have a permanent plantilla position with an entry level of Intelligence Officer I.

Villanueva himself had served as PDEA Academy Superintendent, and supervised the DEOBC training of three batches of agents.

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Tagum QR scanning

TDT

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Tagum City’s government center has armed security personnel with scanning devices to scan the quick response (QR) codes of everyone entering the building.

QR codes will expedite contact tracing for COVID-19 purposes, as per the order of the Davao del Norte government.

Mandatory use of masks and face shield, one-client-at-a-time rule and physical distancing are also enforced.

QR codes may be obtained from the city hall and help desks at City Mall, Gaisano Grand Mall and NCCC Mall.

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Foreign invasion

Sundy Locus

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FOREIGN guests and residents in Subic, Zambales, have also contracted the coronavirus.

Five foreigners, guests in a hotel inside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The five foreign nationals were three males aged 32, 43 and 63 and two females aged 26 and 25. They were tested after one developed COVID symptoms.

A 45-year-old male SBMA employee, who was a close contact of the 43-year-old alien, likewise tested positive. He is now quarantined in a facility in Iba, Zambales.

Contact tracing has been initiated and all patients are under close monitoring, SBMA chair and administrator Wilma Eisma said Monday.

A 35-year-old male foreigner who resides in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone was also confirmed positive, along with two children identified as his relatives — a seven-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, a 38-year-old female foreign national recovered after 14 days in an Olongapo hospital.

As of 25 September, there are 27 confirmed infections among Subic Bay Freeport residents, 20 of them already recovered.

There are also 19 confirmed cases among guests or transients, of which seven are still active.

A total of 21 SBMA employees have contracted the virus, with nine already healed.

The Subic Languge Center (SLC) and the Chairman’s Residence Building 5000 (B-5000) have been designated as healthcare facilities for SBMA employees with 30 rooms and four rooms, respectively.

SLC will allot its fifth floor for positive stable patients and the second floor for those waiting for test results.

B-5000 will be for employees waiting for swab test results.

As of 28 September, Zambales province has 61 active cases out of the confirmed 472. There are also 66 suspected cases and 12 pending results. Fatalities are three so far.

“All health protocols in handling Covid-19 cases are strictly observed in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. But let us all do our part in keeping the freeport safe for everyone. Together, and in support of each other, we can beat Covid-19,” Eisma said.

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Bacolod back to GCQ

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Bacolod back to GCQ PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF BACOLOD PIO

With dwindling COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks and a recovery rate of 64.21 percent, Bacolod City is ready to transition to general community quarantine (GCQ) from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) next month.

The capital city of Negros Occidental will end its MECQ status on Wednesday. By 1 October, public transportation and businesses will resume operations.

While under MECQ, the city implemented the home quarantine pass system that limits the movement of residents and enforced a lockdown on Sundays the entire September.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia, in a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said measures are in place and their isolation facilities are up and running.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, member of the IATF-EID, and retired Maj. Gen. Melquiades Feliciano, deputy chief implementer of IATF-Visayas, went to Bacolod early September to help bring down the city’s rising cases.

Cimatu was first deployed to Cebu City, which became the Visayas’ hotspot for a while.

Bacolod has since established a centralized system in its Emergency Operations Center.

“We are confident that Bacolod is ready to transition into GCQ,” Leonardia told Duque. “While saving lives is of ultimate importance, with a GCQ, we can also save the livelihoods of our people.”

As of 27 September, Bacolod has 3,636 confirmed cases, with 66 deaths or a case fatality rate of 1.81 percent and 2,335 recoveries or 64.21 percent recovery rate.

Based on the risk matrix, the growth rate in the past two weeks was minus 26 percent while the average daily attack rate was 11 cases, figures which Leonardia said showed “a significant indication of a continuous reduction of additional cases in the city.”

As approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night, Metro Manila will remain under GCQ until 31 October.

Aside from Bacolod City, other areas that will be under GCQ during the same period are Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City and Iloilo City.

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Casimero to prove bashers wrong

Nick Giongco

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JOHN Riel Casimero and Sean Gibbons form a vicious 1-2 punch. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF TEAM CASIMERO

John Riel Casimero, coming off a rather trouble-free victory in Connecticut, swears he is close to becoming a complete package.

Appearing in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum yesterday, Casimero admits there are just two things lacking before he finally becomes boxing’s ultimate warrior.

“Stamina,” Casimero said from Las Vegas when asked about facets of his game that need improvement.

What’s the other one?

“(My) English. I am really having a hard time (speaking English),” said the World Boxing Organization bantamweight king who battered unbeaten Ghanaian challenger Duke Micah in just three rounds over the weekend to the delight of the online attendees.

During the post-fight press conference in the United States, Casimero answered questions in halting and broken English with a smattering of expletives.

But in the weekly public forum, Casimero couldn’t contain himself and blurted another cuss word when asked about his pet peeve: Japanese rival Naoya Inoue.

Casimero was supposed to face Inoue last April but their fight was scrapped owing to the coronavirus and it doesn’t appear Inoue is leaning towards reviving the matchup.

“I would love to get my hands on him and beat him,” Casimero said as he sounded annoyed that while his fan base has expanded, the list of haters and bashers has grown as well.

“It’s irritating because I am a Filipino, I fought for the Philippines and yet, they are on Inoue’s side. This is the reason why I am raring to fight Inoue so I can beat him and hit my haters and bashers on the nape.”

Casimero insists he trained long and hard for the Micah fight, battling homesickness and the fear of COVID-19, and could not help but hide his frustration over the flurry of hate messages on social media.

“I simply can’t understand them. This is the reason why I poured everything,” he said.

Sean Gibbons, who represents Casimero, believes the Ormoc City puncher’s time has come.

“Casimero is fun and an exciting bantamweight champion. He’s ready for all,” Gibbons said as he compares him to eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao.

“Casimero is very unique like Sen. Pacquiao. He maintains his power while going up. I don’t see him lacking power at 122 (super-bantamweight).”

Things are indeed looking rosy for Casimero, who will travel back to the Philippines next months to reunite with his family in Leyte.

While training takes a back seat, it is probably the perfect time for Casimero to take up a crash course in English so he can tick it off on his to-do list.

So, when he gets back into training mode, Casimero gets to take care of the other concern.

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Marcial, Ancajas head for L.A.

Nick Giongco

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Tokyo Olympics qualifier Eumir Marcial is tickled pink at the mere thought of training under the wings of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in Hollywood, California.

“Who won’t get excited working with a high-caliber trainer like Freddie Roach?” Marcial said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

On the eve of his departure for Los Angeles, Marcial said stepping inside the Wild Card Boxing Club gives him goosebumps.

“Super excited,” said Marcial, who earned his Tokyo slot after winning the Asia-Oceania Qualifying Tournament in Amman, Jordan, just before the world was plunged into a lockdown in March.

Sean Gibbons, the American boxing man who represents practically the country’s best boxers, said Marcial will make the Wild Card his home in the remainder of his stay.

Gibbons is lining Marcial up for his professional debut before 2020 comes to a close as part of his buildup for his quest to win the Olympic gold next year.

“Pro debut is part of the process of winning the (Olympic) gold,” said Gibbons during the online press conference put up by Big Boss Cement.

Marcial is delighted that Gibbons is on board in his bid to end the Philippines’ long wait.

“He really wants to improve my skills and I am very thankful that he wants me to succeed in Tokyo,” said Marcial, who will be joined in the flight Wednesday by world champion Jerwin Ancajas and trainer-manager Joven Jimenez.

Ancajas and Jimenez are also going to set up camp at Roach’s sweatshop but will be trying to hop from one gym to another occasionally, according to Gibbons. Gibbons said the key in securing a fight date is landing in the US.

“Top Rank has filled up their October and November dates,” said Gibbons. But with Ancajas finally getting to the US, getting a schedule will be a lot easier.

“The key is getting in the US then we’ll sort everything else,” Gibbons added.

Last time he fought, Ancajas traveled to Puebla, Mexico in December last year.

Before appearing in the presser, Marcial, Ancajas and Jimenez underwent swab testing and their results were negative.

When they touch down at Los Angeles International Airport, Marcial, Ancajas and Jimenez are going to be welcomed by fellow MP Promotions talent John Riel Casimero.

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DAR identifies ‘Balik Probinsya’ agri lands

Francis Wakefield

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The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is surveying government-owned agricultural lands to be awarded to 15,000 Metro Manila migrants and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) under the “Balik Probinsiya, Bagong Pag-asa” Program.

DAR Secretary John Castriciones said Tuesday the proposed New Economic Opportunities in Government-Owned Land Distribution (NEO-GOLD) will be implemented by the DAR Field Operations Office headed by Undersecretary David Erro.

The program is meant to encourage return to the provinces and help decongest Metro Manila.

“We want to help the government in decongesting Metro Manila and other urban areas by awarding them with farmlands in habitable communities in the provinces,” he said.

NEO-GOLD is planning to distribute 30,000 hectares of government-owned lands to qualified enrollees of the program for the purpose of agricultural production, housing, community facilities and roads.

DAR will also coordinate and facilitate the provision of credit and microfinance for production, processing and agri-enterprises for the 15,000 enrollees.

“We will organize these 15,000 enrollees into agrarian cooperatives as production and marketing clusters. This way, we can develop their technical and management skills in production and enterprise,” Castriciones said.

The DAR initiative is in the process of establishing agro-industrial communities and facilitating the development of rural areas into self-contained communities for sustainable livelihood.

“We will provide and prepare a place conducive for the establishment of new livable communities where the Metro Manila migrants and OFW can start a new life and engage in sustainable agricultural production and agri-enterprise after the coronavirus disease pandemic,” Erro said.

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EV drivers’ turn

Elmer Recuerdo

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TACLOBAN CITY — Some 2,769 public utility drivers in Eastern Visayas affected by lockdowns and border restrictions will receive P5,000 emergency subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) regional office initially assisted 197 drivers from five provinces in Region VIII on Tuesday.

A total of P985,000 were divided among 31 drivers from Eastern Samar, 138 from Leyte, 16 from Northern Samar and six each from Southern Leyte and Samar.

The beneficiaries’ list was submitted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to the DSWD central office, which made sure that they were not recipients of the first tranche of SAP.

The final list included eight drivers from Biliran, 165 from Eastern Samar, 2,097 from Leyte, 151 from Northern Samar, 113 from Southern Leyte and 235 from Western Samar.

The emergency subsidy, included in the Bayanihan Act, is released through digital payout in an accredited remittance center.

Meanwhile, Eastern Visayas recorded 41 new COVID-19 cases on 28 September — 22 from Samar, 10 from Leyte, six from Southern Leyte and three from Leyte. Three were confirmed to be either returning overseas Filipinos or locally stranded individuals.

There are still 675 active cases out of 4,591 confirmed patients, 3,875 recoveries and 41 deaths.

LTFRB has so far allowed 378 routes to resume operations that cover 24,295 public utility and point-to-point buses, UV Express, modern and traditional jeepneys and more than 44,000 cabs and transport network vehicle services.

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LSI first coronavirus case in Batanes

Sundy Locus

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A locally-stranded individual (LSI) was the first confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) carrier in Batanes, the northernmost province located in the Cagayan Valley Region.

The LSI, asymptomatic and under close watch at the Batanes Resort, arrived on 22 September aboard a Philippine Air Force plane, according to a Facebook post.

The patient first tested positive via a rapid test at Batanes General Hospital and subsequently underwent a confirmatory reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test.

Swab test results of suspect cases and all contacts have yet to be released. All suspect cases and LSI under quarantine are being strictly monitored and managed by health workers.

Residents were also advised “to avoid spreading fake and unverified information that creates fear and panic. Let us also avoid having prejudices and discrimination towards people who are under quarantine or tagged as suspect cases.”

“In the meantime, we remind everyone to continuously observe minimum public health standards such as wearing of masks and face shields, observe physical distancing and practice proper hygiene,” the provincial government reminded residents.

“Together, let us continue to be united through our collective faith in protecting our beloved province.”

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Female Baguio drug dealers arrested

Aldwin Quitasol

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Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Cordillera operatives and the police arrested a female illegal drug trader and her five costumers in a raid in Central Fairview, Baguio City, early Tuesday morning.

The so-called drug queen was caught selling shabu to an undercover agent. Also seized from her possession were drug paraphernalia and P51,000.

The five other arrested suspects were aged between 18 to 22 and hailed from La Trinidad in Benguet, Santa Barbara in Pangasinan, Cauayan in Isabela, San Manuel in Tarlac and Baguio City.

Lee was reported to have taken over the drug dealing business of her deceased brother, serving mostly teenagers who buy drugs at her residence.

The night before, Baguio police also nabbed a 19-year-old female drug pusher, who reportedly belongs to a family with a long history of illegal drug activities.

The suspect was arrested after she sold a packet of shabu to an undercover agent in Quirino Hill.

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