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Manila adopts work-from-home setup

He stressed city government offices have to take proactive measures in protecting the health and well-being of its city officials and employees.

Pat C. Santos

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Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso has ordered all departments, offices and bureaus under the City of Manila to adopt an alternative work arrangement during the implementation of the two week-long modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

The heightened quarantine protocol came after President Rodrigo Duterte approved his Cabinet’s recommendation to reimpose MECQ in Metro Manila from 4 to 18 August, following an appeal from the medical community to revert to strict lockdown measures.

Domagoso said the local government has to “ensure the unhampered operation and functioning of the city in delivering basic services and needs to its constituents.”

He stressed city government offices have to take “proactive measures in protecting the health and well-being of its city officials and employees.”

Under Executive Order 34, a skeleton work force arrangement will be implemented in a number of offices during the MECQ.

However, the following departments, bureaus and offices will be in full operation in the same period, except for its office-based personnel: Manila Health Department, including North and South cemeteries; all city hospitals, except Ospital ng Maynila; Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office; Manila Department of Social Welfare; Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau; Veterinary Inspection Board, and Market Administration Office.

All other offices not mentioned in the order will implement a work-from-home arrangement.

Domagoso said senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women and those below 21 years old who are officials and employees of the city government will also be on a work-from-home arrangement.

Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will adopt a 50 percent workforce deployment in its back office work. However, employees performing frontline duties are not included in this directive. These are those assigned in flight operations, terminal monitoring, facilities management and maintenance, security, safety and emergency services.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said all personnel of janitorial companies that have contracts with MIAA should be on full complement, despite the MECQ. Security guards contracted by MIAA shall likewise remain on full deployment.

To ensure continuous work, MIAA will provide shuttle buses for all airport workers plying routes covering Manila, Quezon City and Cavite. They are also provided free meals and hazard pay equivalent to P500 per day, as maybe directed by the competent authority.

In a meeting with airline companies, Monreal called on local air carriers to properly inform their passengers about rebooking instructions in view of the temporary suspension of domestic flights in and out of Manila under MECQ.

with Anthony Ching

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Flash drive learning in Makati

The OTG flash drive is part of the Learner’s Package provided by the city to all public school students in Makati from preschool to senior high school.

Alvin Murcia

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The Makati City local government is providing its public school students with On The Go (OTG) flash drives, a device designed for offline learning, as part of its Learner’s Package this school year.

Makati Mayor Abby Binay yesterday presented the city’s Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) for school year 2020-2021, which was a product of the close collaboration between the city government and the City Schools Division of Makati (DepEd-Makati).

“The OTG flash drive is part of the Learner’s Package provided by the city to all public school students in Makati from preschool to senior high school. It is one of the primary tools we came up with to ensure that no student will be left behind as we go through the new normal in education,” Mayor Abby said.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City government has granted a notice of award to Globe Telecoms for the provision of 176,000 data SIM cards for the tablets that will be distributed by the Schools Division Office (SDO) to all public junior and senior high school students in all districts.

The data SIM cards, which will be loaded monthly with 10GB allocation, will allow students to access learning materials online. This will complement the 176,000 Samsung tablets that have been turned over to SDO.

Globe Telecoms also added security features to prevent access to certain content and gaming websites, ensuring that the tablets will be used only for learning.

The said initiative was done in partnership by the QC local governemnt with Globe Telecoms to give public school students access to modules and other learning materials under the blended system of learning.

Makati’s Learning Continuity Plan addresses both the common and unique needs and concerns of students arising from the adoption of the blended learning approach consisting of online and modular distance learning modalities.

An OTG flash drive contains digitized self-directed modules and video broadcast editions dubbed.

DepEd-Makati VIBE. It can be used in different gadgets such as cell phones, laptops, desktop computers, iPads, tablets and Smart televisions.

Binay said Makati’s plan deals with issues, such as limited access to gadgets and Internet connectivity. It contains ways and means to ensure continuous learning, while keeping students and teachers safe from COVID-19 infection.

“It also highlights the role of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and barangay officials and workers, in the effective implementation of all the programs and initiatives detailed in the LCP. After all, the education of the youth is a shared responsibility which requires no less than the collective effort of all stakeholders,” she added.

Based on the profiling done by DepEd-Makati among over 78,000 public school enrolees and their parents to gauge their readiness for the school opening, the Makati mayor said 74.9 percent have cell phones that they can use for online learning.

Twenty four percent had access to a laptop, tablet or iPad, television or radio, while 1.1 percent had no access to any of the said equipment.

Earlier, Binay said the city will provide public school teachers and students with a five-hour free Internet load daily, and will also distribute over 2,500 laptops to teachers this month.

In Quezon City, Globe Labs, the telecom company’s innovative development arm, will be establishing 1,000 WiFi access points in key locations around the city to provide free Internet connection, not only to public school students, but also to QC residents.

The partnership with Globe aims to share to QC residents one hour of free Internet connection daily through the access points.

with Paula Antolin

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Yorme third among Phl admired men

Pat C. Santos

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Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s hard work and dedication to the service of his constituents was recognized after he placed third in the list of “most admired men and women in the Philippines” for 2020.

He came after President Rodrigo Duterte and boxing great Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

On the other hand, actress Angel Locsin, 2019 Miss Universe Catriona Gray and singer-actress Sarah Geronimo-Guidicelli topped the women’s list.

The honor was given by YouGov.ph, a global online community, where millions of people and thousands of political, cultural and commercial organizations engage in a continuous conversation about their beliefs, behaviors and brands.

Domagoso, who is the only mayor on the list, even eclipsing legendary action star Jackie Chan and Pope Francis, said he was “so humbled by the recognition” and the fact that he is in such good company.

The mayor enjoyed a 7.96 percent rating. The President got 19.67 percent, while Pacquiao got 10.65 percent.

“I thank YouGov for this welcome affirmation of appreciation of what we in the city government are doing, particularly by the citizens of Manila. This will inspire me even more to strive harder in serving Manilans and making their lives better,” he said.

In an interview with Daily Tribune, he added, “The people should see and know what is happening in Manila, that the local government is not sleeping on the job to serve Manila’s children.”

The Manila mayor gained popularity both here and abroad for the countless, marked accomplishments he was able to achieve in just a little over a year after assuming his position as the 22nd mayor of Manila on 30 June 2019.

According to the annual study conducted by British market research and data analytics firm YouGov, Duterte and Locsin, who got 15.03 percent, remained on the top spots they also held in 2019, as their scores went up from 19.39 percent and 11.14 percent, respectively.

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Cash incentives for Pasig scholars

Neil Alcober

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The Pasig City government yesterday distributed cash incentives to the city’s scholars who graduated with Latin honors.

Those who graduated summa cum laude in college received P30,000, those who finished magna cum laude, P25,000, and P20,000 for cum laude.

“Eleven graduates received their incentives this morning,” Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto said in a social media post.

He added that scholars who haven’t received yet their incentives may still send their requirements to the scholarship office.

“We also reminded them that as the city and its taxpayers have helped them get through college, they should also find ways to give back to the city… whether it is through their time, volunteer work, or even helping other students when they become financially capable,” Sotto added.

The local government also said technical vocational graduates who graduated valedictorian or first honor will receive P10,000, and P5,000 for salutatorian or second honor.

The Pasig mayor earlier said students who graduated with honors can also claim their cash incentives through digital mobile wallet PayMaya.

Last year, the city government provided cash incentives to 110 scholars of the city for graduating with honors.

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Expect faster MRT-3 today

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Passengers of MRT-3 can now expect a faster commute and shorter waiting time for train arrivals starting today, 1 October, as the rail line’s trains are set to travel on an increased speed of 40 kilometers per hour (kph) from the current 30kph.

This is the result of the installation of new long-welded rails in all MRT-3 stations as part of the massive rehabilitation program being implemented by Japan’s Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy.

The rail line’s operating speed will gradually increase from 40kph in October to 50kph by November, and 60kph by December 2020.

“Even during the implementation of  strict community quarantine levels, with the approval of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force), we continued with the massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3, which includes replacing all worn out rails with new ones. Our commuters have suffered enough from the past. It is only right that we give them back their dignity in commuting using the MRT-3,” Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

Among improvements introduced to MRT-3 are the repair of air-conditioning of all train sets, the elevators and escalators.

“We were able to run a record-breaking number of MRT-3 trains last weekk,” Tugade sad. “This is proof that whether or not there is COVID, the DoTr’s work on the MRT-3 continued.”

The MRT-3 has continued its rail replacement works during the enhanced community quarantine and modified ECQ periods, where 9,216 (13.98 percent) linear meters were completed.

“After being able to increase the number of running trains, our next target is to increase the speed of our trains in the mainline, until it reaches 60kph. With the help of our rehabilitation and maintenance providers, Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, we assure the public that a better performance and a brighter future may be expected from the MRT-3,” Michael Capati, MRT-3 Operations director, said.

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U-turn slot closure scheduled

The eventual closure of U-turn slots along EDSA will make commuter travel through the EDSA Carousel easier, more convenient and faster.

Alvin Murcia

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The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will close another U-turn slot to make way for the EDSA Busway.

The agency yesterday announced the scheduled closure of the U-turn slot (northbound and southbound) in front of Quezon City Academy on Monday, 12 October at 12:01 a.m.

This follows the closure of the U-turn slot near Trinoma Mall and North Avenue last Monday.

Directional signages will be installed within the vicinity of the affected slot starting Monday, 5 October, to notify motorists of the impending closure.

Motorists are advised to take the following detour routes:

For those going southbound, affected vehicles may take the U-turn slot after Congressional Avenue (in front of Landers).

For northbound vehicles, they may take the U-turn slot after the Quezon Avenue Service Road (under Quezon Avenue flyover)
“The eventual closure of U-turn slots along EDSA will make commuter travel through the EDSA Carousel easier, more convenient and faster,” MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said.

The EDSA Busway project designates the innermost lane of EDSA as exclusive lane for buses travelling along the national highway.

Lim assured motorists that the agency will deploy additional traffic enforcers to guide them and manage traffic flow in affected areas.

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Metro mayors eye MGCQ by November

MJ Blancaflor

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Metro Manila might shift to the lowest and most relaxed quarantine status next month if coronavirus infections continue to decrease, an official said yesterday.

In a televised briefing, Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez floated the possibility that the capital region might be downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in November should the COVID-19 situation improve.

Metro Manila, considered as the epicenter of the pandemic, has been placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) for nearly four months. This quarantine status allows public transportation and most industries, but prohibits tourism activities, entertainment events and large mass gatherings.

It will remain under GCQ for the entire month of October, along with Batangas, Tacloban City, Bacolod City, Iligan City and Iloilo City.

“If the trend continues, and if local government units continue to impose discipline in our constituents, I believe by end of October we can end GCQ. Hopefully, with God’s grace, this coming November, we may shift to MGCQ if the President allows it,” Olivarez told reporters.

He also said Metro Manila mayors would discuss if they would lift the existing curfew hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the region.

“We are looking at removing the curfew… In our next meeting, that will be among our main agenda in order to open the economy,” he added.

Business groups have been pushing to ease restrictions in Metro Manila to allow the reopening of more businesses and public transportation, even if analysts and statisticians have warned that a premature imposition of MGCQ would lead to an “exponential” rise of COVID-19 cases come Christmas time.

The OCTA Research group has observed that the rate of transmission, number of cases, positivity rate and hospital resource utilization in Metro Manila are all on a downward trend. But the group reminded the public that the improving COVID-19 situation is reversible.

The Philippines has so far recorded 309,303 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 162,902 came from Metro Manila.

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QC requires helmets on bikers

Paula Antolin

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Bicycle riders in Quezon City (QC) are now required to don helmets while traversing its roads following the passage of an ordinance.

The measure, Ordinance SP-2942, introduced by Councilors Maria Diorella Sotto, Kaye Galang-Coseteng and Candy Medina, hopes to make the use of the two-wheeled vehicle safer for both riders and passersby.

While the wearing of helmets when biking is already mandatory under the Road Safety Ordinance, the City Council saw the need for another policy to further encourage the use of helmets as protection, now that more people are traveling by bicycle.

Violation of the ordinance while passing through QC streets imposes fines of P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000 for first, second and third offenses, respectively.

The city’s Department of Public Order and Safety has been assigned as lead agency to strictly enforce the ordinance.

The QC local government has implemented a Bike Lane Project, a short-term initiative that aims to provide a safe space for people who have shifted to biking as an alternative means of transportation amid the community quarantine.

The first phase of the Bike Lane Project includes the improvement and repair of existing bike lanes and placement of temporary and semi-permanent traffic separation devices.

New bike lane routes have also been identified to improve route connectivity, while route signage and bike parking areas will also be included in the network.

As part of a long-term program, the city government plans to put up permanent bike lanes that will be integrated with the planned bus system routes and pedestrian network.

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Parish idle lot turned into edible garden

Francis Wakefield

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A parish church in Tondo, Manila has agreed to convert its idle lot into a “vegetable garden city.”

Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, said under the verbal agreement forged with Fr. Gaudencio Carandang, St. John Bosco parish priest, on Tuesday, 29 September, they agreed to convert the parish’s one-and-a-half hectare idle lot within its premises to serve the daily subsistence of its flock in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Castriciones said the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) will provide the farm inputs, namely seeds, seedling trays, garden tools, fertilizer and pesticide, while St. John Bosco Parish will make available the lot, and the barangay officials, the gardeners.

The DAR chief said they did not have to push the project as Carandang immediately approved the idea.

“The DAR will provide the farm inputs — seeds, seedling trays, garden tools, fertilizer and pesticide. We only need volunteer garden workers,” Castriciones said.

Barangay officials in the area immediately responded and offered their services after learning of the need for volunteers.

Vegetables to be harvested from the proiect will be distributed to the constituents of the participating barangays.

Carandang vowed to support the planned vegetable garden city to make it a success.

Castriciones earlier raised the idea for the garden after the idle lot caught his attention while distributing relief food packs to poor families from Tondo, Manila.

Each food pack contained cabbage and high-breed round-shaped radish sold at bargain price by an agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organization in Nueva Vizcaya, which enjoyed bountiful harvest, with most crops rotting because of overproduction.

In a speech during the food distribution program DAR carried out in partnership with Caritas Manila and Jollibee Food Corporation, Castriciones said, instead of going to waste, they might as well make use of the surplus vegetable to feed the hungry.

The relief food operation, dubbed as “Turning DAR’s Farmers’ surplus into Jolly Food Plus,” was the third relief food distribution spearheaded by the agency last September.

Previous distributions took place at the Baseco compound and Smokey Mountain.

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BuCor to explain delayed drug purchase

Alvin Murcia

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday said the Department of Justice (DoJ) will look into the delay in the procurement of medicines by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) after it was flagged down by the Commission on Audit (CoA).

“I will certainly look into this. I’ll wait for the BuCor explanation,” Guevarra said.

The Justice chief said in a congested prison where the risk of getting sick is very high, medicine is next only to food in terms of essentiality.

Any delay in its procurement and delivery should immediately be addressed.

Guevarra was reacting to the CoA report that convicted persons denied of liberty at the state-run National Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) have been  “deprived” of medical care as a result of the delay in the procurement of much-needed medicine.

The CoA said the long procurement process “exceeded the maximum allowable time of three months” as provided for under Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Likewise, BuCor was also questioned for its failure to collect rental fees and unpaid electric consumption costs from delinquent concessionaires maintaining business establishments in various prisons run by the bureau.

Unpaid rental fees have reached P5,043,144.65, it was disclosed.

On the other hand, some P7.03 million in electricity consumption bills of concessionaires have also not been collected during the year.

CoA disclosed that the contractor, V & J Trading, failed to pay P77,219 in electric and water consumption.

Rental fees amounting to P280,000 and P896,400 in liquidated damages were also not paid despite repeated demands.

The state auditing office disclosed seven procurement contracts for a total of P65.53 million worth of medicines were awarded “beyond the maximum allowable” 90 day period last year.

“Further, there were 14 projects totaling P56,561,041.35 with winning proponent/bidder but no Notice to Proceed (NTP) has been issued even after the lapse of 90 days from the start of bid execution on 5 July 2019, or a delay of 119 days as of 31 January 2019,” the report said.

CoA director Michael Bacani asked the bureau to “strictly comply with the procurement timelines” prescribed under RA 9184 in a letter to BuCor Director General Gerald Q. Bantag.

BuCor officials said the belated procurement activities may have been triggered by the suspension by the Ombudsman of the chairman of the BuCor Bids and Awards Committee.

The BuCor has been placed under a “disadvantageous position” due to various violations of the contract for Food Subsistence Agreement with a private contractor.

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