Metro Manila and other nearby provinces will be grinding to a halt anew beginning today after President Rodrigo Duterte partly granted the appeal of the medical community to reimpose a stricter lockdown as the number of COVID-19 cases remains on a steady rise.
Following this development, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said public transportation will be suspended and transport services will remain limited in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
In line with the existing quarantine guidelines set by the country’s COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force, operations of jeepneys, public utility buses, taxis, Transport Network Vehicle Service such as Grab, FX, UV Express, Point-to-Point buses and motorcycle taxis such as Angkas are suspended.
The managements of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) and Light Rail Transits 1 and 2 yesterday announced they will suspend operations on 4 August to comply with the MECQ guidelines.
The main train line will cease to operate starting Tuesday until 18 August or until the National Capital Region (NCR) is returned under the looser general community quarantine.
“Due to the reimposition of MECQ in Metro Manila, we are temporarily suspending the operations of MRT-3 starting 4 to 18 August until NCR is placed back under GCQ,” the MRT management said.
The Philippine National Railways — transporting passengers in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and the Bicol Region — also halted its operation.
As for air travel, budget carriers AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines have suspended flights during the duration of the MECQ.
Tricycles will also not be allowed, but with exceptions subject to guidelines of the Interior Department and respective local government units.
The DoTr said only shuttles dedicated to frontliners and other workers in permitted industries will be allowed to run under the service category.
Likewise, the use of private vehicles with only one person per household would be allowed to leave homes to buy necessities and necessary medical supplies.
Operations of the Pasig River Ferry Service also will be limited to medical frontliners and government employees during the MECQ period.
Free ferry rides for health workers and government employees who need to report for work will be available at the following stations: Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin, Guadalupe, Valenzuela, Lawton and Escolta.
They just need to present valid identification cards to avail of the free rides from Monday to Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
with Alvin Murcia and Maria Romero
Defective charger leaves 15 families homeless
One person was injured while 15 families were left homeless in a fire that was caused by a defective mobile phone charger on Tuesday night in Manila.
Arson investigators from the Bureau of Fire Protection said the incident broke out at 10:13 p.m. at the third floor of the house owned by Silahis Pichay at 1605 O-Este Alvarez, Barangay 267, Zone 24 in Tondo.
The investigators said the charger overheated.
The blaze reached the first alarm at 10:15 p.m. and rose to third alarm at 10:45 p.m. It was declared under control at 1:20 a.m. after 25 fire trucks responded at the scene.
Injured was Catalino Masangkay, 30, who was trying to salvage some of his belongings during the blaze.
Check free ride routes online
The routes, which cover the National Capital Region and Greater Manila Area, ferry health workers to major destinations and health institutions.
Health workers who intend to avail of the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) Free Ride for Health Workers Program may determine the routes of the shuttle service through the Sakay.ph website at https://covid19.sakay.ph.
The routes, which cover the National Capital Region and Greater Manila Area, transport health workers to major destinations and health institutions.
The routes are available 24/7 and follow the strict health and safety protocols mandated by the national government.
The 20 routes are: (1) Meralco (Malanday) to United Doctors Medical Center; (2) Valenzuela Gateway Complex to United Doctors Medical Center; (3) SM City San Jose del Monte to Centris; (4) SM Masinag to The Medical City Ortigas; (5) Ortigas Hospital and Healthcare Center to Rizal Medical Center; (6) MRT 3 Cubao to Philippine General Hospital via MRT 3 Centris Station; (7) Pasig City General Hospital to Makati Medical Center; (7A) Medical City Ortigas to VRP Medical Center;
(8) Starmall Alabang to St. Luke’s Medical Center-BGC; (9) Vista Mall Daang Hari to United Doctors Medical Center; (10) RITM to Starmall Alabang; (11) Starmall Alabang to Manila Doctors Hospital; (12) Dasmariñas Pala-Pala to Manila Doctor’s Hospital; (13) Starmall Alabang to Sea Oil Imus Daang Hari/Aguinaldo; (14) SM City Taytay to St. Luke’s Medical Center-QC;
(15) SLEX Sucat Exit to Philippine General Hospital; (16) MRT-3 Cubao to Philippine General Hospital; (17) SM City San Jose del Monte to SM Fairview/Commonwealth Hospital and Medical Center; (198) LRT-1 Monumento to Baclaran Market; (19) First Cabuyao Hospital and Medical Center to Starmall Alabang; and (20) SM City Masinag to Lawton.
Anti-drug campaign reaches wider audience
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) yesterday signed memoranda of agreements (MoA) with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and two media and events organizations that will broadcast the government’s programs, projects and policies against illegal drugs to a wider audience.
PDEA Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva and Renan B. Lopez, owner of Rev-Up Events Management and advertising services and marketing director of Pinoy Xtreme Channel, signed a MoA that “formalized the joint production and broadcast of ‘PDEA Extreme,’ a program for television which features the national campaign for drug prevention and control.”
“PDEA Extreme” will air every Saturday, from 8:30 to 9 p.m., with replays on Sunday from 7 to 7:30 p.m., via the Pinoy Xtreme Channel, Channel 106, on Cignal Cable.
Villanueva signed another agreement with PCOO Undersecretary Marvin R. Gatpayat; Katherine Chloe S. de Castro, Philippine Television Network Inc. (PTNI) general manager; and Bureau of Broadcast
Services-Philippine Broadcasting Service director-general Rizal Giovanni P. Aportadera Jr.
Villanueva said DZRB (738 AM) Radyo Pilipinas and PTNI will air programs on the fight against illegal drugs from 7 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday.
Also, Villanueva and broadcaster Erwin Tulfo signed an agreement for the co-production of the television program, “Tutok PDEA, Kontra Droga (Tambalang Tulfo-Villanueva),” which will air from 5 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday on PTV 4.
“PDEA recognizes and believes in the power, impact and influence of television and radio communications as effective tools for the government’s campaign, enforcement and implementation of anti-drug policies and programs that are within reach of the public,” the PDEA chief said.
Baseco residents gifted fresh vegetables
I hope we will pray for our farmers. They are the true heroes of our country.
Residents of Baseco Compound in Manila received an early Christmas gift from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) following the distribution of vegetables coming from Nueva Ecija’s various agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBO).
DAR Secretary John Castriciones said the distribution is in coordination with Caritas Manila, and the vegetables were distributed to the volunteers of 14 chapels in Baseco Compound on Monday, 21 September.
Among the vegetables donated by Nueva Ecija ARBO include upo (bottle gourd), talong, pechay, ampalaya, tomato and sweet potato.
The DAR chief said the food the farmers produce in their farms is vital not only for sustenance, but also for revitalizing the immune system and helping the body withstand the ill effects of the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Our first mandate is to take care of the farmers, but the farmers want to help the people. They are not rich. They are just poor, but for the love of the Filipino people, they want to share and give away vegetables,” Castriciones said during the distribution of the vegetables in San Nicolas de Tolentino Chapel.
“I hope we will pray for our farmers. They are the true heroes of our country. They are the ones who produce the vegetables that we all eat,” he explained.
DAR Undersecretary Emily Padilla said every vegetable comes from the blood and sweat of the farmers.
“Let us help the farmers. When the farmers get rich, our country will also get rich,” she stressed.
Fr. Reynante Balilo, Caritas Manila representative, expressed his gratefulness to Nueva Ecija farmers for helping the poor cope with food scarcity and hunger.
Castriciones earlier paid tribute to farmers for ensuring there is enough food for Filipinos as the country deals with the coronavirus.
He said farmers are the real strength of the country, “as we would not survive the pandemic without their hard work to ensure food security.”
“I want our farmers to trust that agriculture is their key to success. In first world countries, their farmers are earning big and are treated well by its citizen. We would like emulate these countries to empower our farmers by pooling all our resources to improve their economic and quality of life,” he added.
3 foiled in ‘rent-sangla’ modus
The Manila Police District (MPD) Anti-Carnaping Unit (DACU) yesterday arrested three persons involved in the so-called “rent-sangla” where they rent a car, run away with it, and then pawn it to a potential victim.
P/Maj. Rosalino Ibay Jr., Special Mayor’s Reaction Team (SMaRT) head, identified the suspects as Rosario Capulong, 57, and Ronaldo Capulong, 54, both of Teachers Village, Quezon City, and Necitas Torres, 48, of Kapitan Pepe, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.
Ibay said the suspects were arrested at around 3 p.m., 22 September, at the YMCA parking lot along A. Villegas Street in Ermita, Manila.
Operatives of SMaRT received information that vehicle with fake documents was about to be pawned, They conducted an entrapment operation that resulted in the arrest of the suspects.
Recovered from the suspects were a 2019 Toyota Innova, with plate number NBQ-8377, the alleged fake OR/CR of the Toyota Innova, a 2017 Toyota Wigo, with plate number NBZ-1682 and two ID cards.
Ibay called on the public who were victimized by the suspects to come forward to identify and file charges against them while they are still in the custody of MPD-SMaRT-DACU at the Manila City Hall building.
The suspects will be slapped with charges for violation of the Revised Penal Code and other forms of swindling at the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office.
Manila public students get medical teleconsultation
The City of Manila will be offering free medical consultations to all public school students to provide guidance and stay healthy for the duration of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said the implementation of “Online CO-ED (Consultation and Education) for Manila Public Schools” will be the “new normal” in the city’s public elementary and high schools.
“The role of health care providers during this new normal will be to offer free medical consultation, counseling, advice and/or immediate first aid treatment, as well as education for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health,” Domagoso said.
Manila Health Department (MHD) chief Dr. Arnold “Poks” Pangan emphasized the program’s objective is to provide online consultation and education to all public elementary and high school students within Manila free of charge and covering all health aspects.
The proposal was made by Division of School Health Services head Dr. Ervin Paz de la Rosa.
Personnel involved in the program include MHD employees from the DSHS and the 47 health centers, the school health division’s physicians, dentists, nurses and health centers staff, as well as principals, teachers and advisers of public schools.
Pangan said the MHD will provide each of its health care personnel who will be focal person in-charge of the school a cell phone and a SIM card, which they will use during the online education program, along with needed medical supplies and medicine, as well as flyers, leaflets and posters.
In case of medical emergencies, the MHD will provide electronic prescription via Facebook Messenger or e-mail. Parents or guardians will be directed to a health center by phone and then, the health center will provide the medicines needed.
Information dissemination on Department of Health and MHD programs and activities will also be implemented, including COVID-19 prevention; “Huwag Maging BIBA (Batang Ina Batang Ama),” a program on the prevention of teenage pregnancy; and mediation on conflicts with peers, teachers or parents that may affect academic performance.
Pangan said the school dentist will provide contact numbers to principals, teachers, advisers and nurses needed for dental services for students and a schedule for dental teleconsultation at least once a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pateros receives Fil-Chi donation
The municipality of Pateros received much needed support after the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), in coordination with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), turned over donations to help residents affected by the coronavirus disease.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim and FCCCII officials handed over to Pateros Mayor Miguel “Ike” Ponce 110 sacks of rice, 1,000 hygiene kits and 50 reams of bond paper to be used for the printing of students’ modules.
The donation was received yesterday during ceremonies held at the Pateros Municipal Hall.
FCCCII vice president Dr. Cecilio Pedro said MMDA chairman Danilo Lim sought their support to aid Pateros, the lone municipality in Metro Manila.
Pateros, among the 17 local governments in the National Capital Region, has limited resources due to its size and its status as a municipality.
Lim, who was tasked to oversee the COVID-19 response and provide stronger support to Pateros, thanked the FCCCII for their much-needed donation.
“I am thankful for the support of the FCCCII to Pateros in these challenging times. The donation is intended for households under community quarantine,” said Lim.
Likewise Ponce expressed gratitude to the organization for the donation.
Probe ‘Flatten the Fear’ event
We wish to remind them that we are not out of the woods yet and that community transmission is ongoing.
Amid calls for an end to all community quarantines in the country made by the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday ordered the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to probe the “Flatten the Fear” event that was held by the said group.
In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he directed the CIDG to investigate reports of alleged violations of the prohibition on mass gathering, failure to wear masks and no physical distancing during the event.
“We have ordered the PNP-CIDG to conduct an investigation on the said mass gathering to see if the group is liable for violating protocols at this time of pandemic,” Año said.
“While it seems that they want to help the government in its fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the mass gathering conducted without using masks is dangerous not only to them but also to their families,” he added.
The DILG chief also clarified the investigation was also requested by the Department of Health (DoH).
Members of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines recently held a mass gathering, dubbed as “Flatten the Fear” campaign, where many participants allegedly did not wear masks as, according to them, they no longer need to because they are on prophylaxis and preventive treatment for COVID-19.
However, Año stressed the group should have discussed first with the government its recommendations instead of holding a mass gathering as “this move undermines the work that has been done for many months by our frontliners.”
Earlier reports said the group was set to meet with the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to discuss its call of ending COVID-19 lockdowns across the country.
The group said the government should also focus on health promotion in communities to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, instead of imposing lockdowns, which impact many livelihoods.
However, the DILG chief said the group’s call to end all restrictions at this critical time “sends a wrong message to the public and undermines months of hard work by health authorities to flatten the curve and defeat the virus.”
He noted there is still the continuous spread of COVID-19 among communities.
“We wish to remind them that we are not out of the woods yet and that community transmission is ongoing. While we have been able to lower our cases, we cannot be complacent and let down our guard, since an outbreak may suddenly occur, as what we have seen in many countries all over the world,” Año said.
“If we lift the community quarantines while cases are still rising, then we will have a problem with that,” he added.
with Paula Antolin
Customs audits rice imports
The transaction-based audit of importers is a continuing effort of the BoC to determine the correctness of the valuation of the goods and determine the liability of the importer for duties, taxes and other charges.
The Bureau of Customs (BoC), through the Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG), has heightened its campaign against undervaluation and misclassification of rice importations with the continuous checking of compliance of rice importers with Customs laws and regulations.
The bureau said this campaign protects government revenue, as well as the local producers of agricultural products.
The transaction-based audit of importers is a continuing effort of the BoC to determine the correctness of the valuation of the goods and determine the liability of the importer for duties, taxes and other charges, including fines or penalty for the rice importations.
According to PCAG, a total of 245 entities falling under Tariff Heading 1006 have imported rice from 5 March to 20 June last year. Of these, 60 entities with the greatest number of incidents of deviation and the highest percentage discrepancies in duties paid were selected for transaction-based audits.
Based on the audit results, auditees were found liable for the payment of P1,417,167,368.10 customs duties, penalties, surcharges and interest due to undervaluation, misclassification and/or understatement of freight and insurance charges.
Moreover, PCAG found that undervaluation of declared customs value remains the primary risk in revenue collection from rice imports, accounting for P497,941,773.72, or 36.08 percent, of the total deficiency assessment.
In terms of level of compliance, the audit findings showed a low level of compliance among the audited importers, as 47 auditees (85.45 percent) were found to have violated customs laws and regulations.
Meanwhile, eight auditees were found to have properly declared their goods and provided pertinent documentary requirements as stipulated in the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.