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Cops to enforce protocols in remittance centers

Paula Antolin



The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directed police stations nationwide to deploy officers to remittance centers releasing the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) to ensure social distancing, use of masks and implementation of minimum health standards are being followed.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said Secretary Eduardo Año gave the directive to Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Guillermo Eleazar.

“Our field offices have monitored long lines in some remittance centers. We advise them to practice social distancing at all times to protect themselves and their families. We are also urging the barangay to assign tanods to remind the public of the minimum health standards,” Malaya said.

Malaya encouraged SAP 2 beneficiaries to maximize the use of cashless transactions since financial service provider (FSP) platforms like GCash and PayMaya, through their mobile applications, can be used to purchase products.

If the beneficiaries will insist on getting their assistance in cash, they must practice physical distancing.

Based on reports, more than a million original and waitlisted family beneficiaries nationwide have received their emergency subsidies through electronic means.

The Department of the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units (LGU) are supervising the distribution nationwide.

Waitlisted beneficiaries are those who were not accommodated during the first tranche but were deemed qualified by LGU and DSWD.

Malaya said that after the first tranche, authorities learned it is better to distribute the assistance via digital or FSP means.

“We are expecting a less tedious distribution of SAP this time around because of the changes instituted,” Malaya said.



Complaint vs Pimentel up for resolution

Alvin Murcia



The Department of Justice has submitted for resolution the breach of protocol complaint filed against Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel lll.

“Yung kay Sen. Pimentel submitted for resolution as of yesterday (Wednesday). I’m submitting it to OPG [Office of Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento] but I don’t know if he can sign it, he is out today,” Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said Thursday.

Fadullon added that he is still awaiting the report of Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval about the matter but he has already told him to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

DOJ reopened the investigation on the breach of quarantine protocol filed against Pimentel after receiving a report from the hospital the lawmaker visited in March while awaiting his COVID-19 test result.

The reopening of the criminal investigation was done after the National Bureau of Investigation received a copy of the incident report from Makati Medical Center Medical Director Dr. Saturnino Javier.

“In view of the foregoing and in line with the policy of admitting all evidence that could assist in the judicious resolution of complaint, the preliminary investigation of this case is hereby reopened,” Assistant State Prosecutor Bendoval wrote.

Pimentel visited the hospital in March to accompany his pregnant wife even though he was already showing symptoms of COVID-19. He later tested positive for the highly-contagious virus, drawing outrage from the public for endangering patients and hospital personnel during his visit.

The senator was castigated by the hospital management for violating home quarantine rules, calling his action “reckless and unacceptable.”

Pimentel and the complainant, former dean of the University of Makati Rico Quicho, were then asked to submit their replies on MMC’s report by 21 September.

Legal experts previously said the senator may be fined up to ₱50,000 or face a jail term of one to six months for failing to disclose that he was suspected of having COVID-19 at the time.

For violating the enhanced community quarantine, he can be fined between ₱10,000 and ₱50,000 or jailed for up to a year.

Pimentel earlier apologized for accompanying his wife to the hospital, but said the trip was “essential” as she was about to give birth. He also said he only learned about his positive COVID-19 test when he was already in the hospital.

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Acquitted OFW thanks Go for seeing her case through






Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has expressed concern that there remained many cases similar to that of Rose Policarpio, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who had returned from Saudi Arabia  after being acquitted of murder there.

Policarpio thanked Go and all those in the Philippine government who focused on her case.

The OFW was jailed for six years in Saudi after her Lebanese employer was killed by three men who broke into her apartment. She said she fled to escape being raped by the killers.

While she reported the crime to the police, she was still wrongfully implicated.

According to Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto, Policarpio would have faced the death penalty had she been convicted.

She finally flew back from Riyadh last 21 September 2020 and arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday.

Policarpio met Go to thank him for the role he played in securing her acquittal, release and repatriation. The senator vowed support for the former OFW, including assistance in finding for her a job.

“Una sa lahat, nagpapasalamat po ako sa taas, sa buong gobyerno po, sa Philippine Embassy lalo na po sa Riyadh kay Ambassador Alonto po, sa lahat po ng tumulong. Hindi po nila ako tinigilan hanggang makarating po ako dito sa Pilipinas, kaya maraming, maraming salamat po, Senator Bong Go,” said Policarpio.

Go said his office is presently monitoring death penalty cases and other calls for help from Filipinos abroad.

He added other Filipinos may have the same plight as Policarpio as he recalled a case he personally attended to involving an OFW convicted of murder in Bahrain, Roderick Aguinaldo.

Aguinaldo returned to the Philippines on 7 June after receiving a royal pardon from the Bahraini government.

While the government provides assistance like legal counsel and psychosocial counseling to distressed OFWs, Go said they are scattered across various national agencies.

To resolve this, Go said he is pushing for the creation of a department for OFW that shall bring together the said agencies under its management.

The proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos shall assume the functions of DFA-OUMWA, the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices under the Department of Labor and Employment, the International Labor Affairs Bureau under DOLE, and International Social Services Office of the DSWD, he said.

It will also exercise administrative supervision over the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and OWWA which shall be attached to the department.


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American legislators push bill stopping aid to AFP, PNP





AN American soldier and his Filipino counterpart check a rifle that was among the arms donated by the US to the Philippines. Photograph courtesy of the US Embassy Manila

At least 24 members of the US House of Representatives have agreed to push a bill seeking to suspend the provision of security assistance to the Philippines until restrictions set by the measure are met.

HR 8313, otherwise known as the Philippine Human Rights Act, blocks US funding for police or military assistance to the Philippines, including equipment and training. It was primarily authored by Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild.

If passed into law, the measure stopping US public funding for Philippine security forces will set the following conditions before it may be lifted.

  • Investigate and prosecute members of the military and police found to have violated human rights;
  • Withdraw military involvement from domestic policy;
  • Establish the protection of the rights of labor leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, indigenous persons, small farmers, LGBTI activists and critics of government;
  • Take steps to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses; and
  • Fully comply with any and all audits or investigations regarding the improper use of security aid.


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Elderly among new Olongapo patients

Sundy Locus



The Olongapo Covid-19 Task Force reported its 17th coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related death, a 70-year-old male from Barangay Mabayuan.

The task force, headed by Mayor Rolen Paulino Jr., said the man died in a private hospital.

The city also has 18 new infections, increasing total cases to 437, of which 202 are active.

Senior citizens account for five of the new cases — a 77-year-old female from Barangay East Bajac-Bajac; a 60-year-old female from Barangay Gordon Heights; a 68-year-old female from Barangay West Tapinac; a 68-year-old male, also from West Tapinac; and a 68-year-old male from East Bajac-Bajac.

“Let us pray for the full recovery of all our patients. The city government is in close coordination with the Department of Health,” Paulino said in a statement.

The task force also reported six recoveries, raising the total number to 218.

Paulino reiterated that to combat the spread of the virus, Olongapo residents must maintain proper hygiene, wear masks in public places and observe physical distancing.

“Stay home and avoid unnecessary travels except when accessing essential goods and services,” he said.

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Ilocos underground groups denounce rebels

Jonas Reyes



A total of 25 underground mass organization (UGMO) members withdrew their support for the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Ilocos Sur over the weekend.

Lt. Col. Rodrigo A. Mariñas Jr., 81st Infantry Battalion (IB) commanding officer, led the ceremonial withdrawal of support in Barangay Baballasioan, Santa Maria.

The 81st IB, Santa Maria Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and Santa Maria police have been working tirelessly to encourage UGMO members to steer clear of insurgency involvement.

Mariñas said the members belonged to the Sangay sa Partido sa Lokalidad, Pambansang Kilusan ng Magsasaka, Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan and Kabataang Makabayan. They could’ve become CPP-NPA fighters later on.

“We are glad that you’ve been awakened from the deception of the CPP-NPA. Nothing good will happen to your lives when you continue to support NPA bandits. Help us instead to spread the word to the people in your communities about the NPA’s deceptions, especially among the minors,” he said.

Santa Maria Mayor Brigido Camarillo Jr. administered the pledge of allegiance to the government.

“I understand your fears but I assure you that we are here to support you. Do not be afraid,” he said, adding that the military and the police will maintain peace and security in the municipality.

Last week, 24 UGMO members in Suyo, Ilocos Sur, also withdrew their support. An indignation rally was conducted, joined by residents, Mayor Mario Subagan and other local government officials.

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Go to DSWD: Prioritize poor, vulnerable





FAMILIES affected by flash floods in Zamboanga City last week receive food packs, meals and masks from Senator Bong Go’s office. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SBG

Following the challenges in the distribution of financial assistance to Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go reminded the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to prioritize and ensure the delivery of various government social services to the poor and vulnerable sectors.

In his opening statement during a recent hearing conducted by the Committee on Finance to discuss the proposed P171.221 billion budget of the DSWD and its attached agencies for 2021, Go expressed full support for the agency and its role in delivering critical social services.

Go, one of the vice chairpersons of the Finance committee, urged DSWD officials to ensure that every peso goes directly to the less fortunate, especially in these trying times.

He expressed his gratitude to the agency for its efforts to facilitate the nationwide distribution of COVID-19 cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). He recognized that the ongoing public health crisis and quarantine measures made the process difficult but he maintained that challenges must not prevent the department from fulfilling its mandate to serve the poor and vulnerable.

“I am grateful for the DSWD’s efforts to extend government help through the SAP while we are in the middle of a pandemic. The disbursement process is quite long and difficult but what’s important is we are able to help the poor and vulnerable sectors,” he said.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the national government directed the DSWD to implement a multi-billion cash subsidy program for poor families, including the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Despite delays and amid the economic hardships, Go was heartened by the fact that many honest Filipinos returned the money not intended for them.

“We saw that the second round of payout went to the rightful beneficiaries,” he said. “I heard those who were not supposed to receive assistance or those who got double the amount, returned the money. I hope those who received the SAP spent it for their needs. Do not gamble or buy drugs with your money.”

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SEAG kickboxing coach suffers stroke

Aldwin Quitasol



A coach who helped Cordillera fighters rake in medals in the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Manila last year is at the intensive care unit and fighting for his life at the Benguet General Hospital after suffering a stroke on Monday.

Manuel Sanidad, 56, was conducting lessons at Highland Boxing Gym when he collapsed.

Trainer Brico Santig said he and other kickboxers took “Master Manny” to the hospital.

Sanidad teamed up with Mark Sangiao, who is the Cordillera regional coordinator of the Samahan ng mga Kickboxers ng Pilipinas and Team Lakay founder, in training national kickboxers for the biennial competition last year.

Team Lakay’s Gina Iniong, Jerry Olsim and Jean Claude Saclag hauled three golds, two silvers and a bronze.

The Philippine team bagged two more silver medals courtesy of Jerome Balangui and Renz Dacquel and a bronze from Karol Maguide.

All are Cordillerans based in Baguio and Benguet.

Santig said Sanidad arrived just more than a month ago after being stuck nearly five months in Manila due to quarantine restrictions.

“Some of our athletes are taking turns looking after him,” he said.

Doctors said Sanidad has progressive blood clotting in the brain.

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Eastern Visayas fears new COVID surge

Samar has the most number of infections at 1,464, followed by Leyte at 1,373 and Tacloban City with 715.

Elmer Recuerdo



The Department of Health Eastern Visayas (DoH-EV) reported 96 new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections on Tuesday, the highest daily total in over two weeks, drawing fears that another surge of cases may be in the offing.

Three cities — Catbalogan with 25 new cases, Calbayog with 18 and Tacloban with 12 — were the areas with most new infections, accounting for 57 percent of the region’s total.

DoH-EV said at least six of the new cases involved healthcare workers while all new cases in Catbalogan City were local transmissions.

As of Tuesday, Eastern Visayas still has 532 active cases out of the confirmed 4,263. There were 378 positive cases last week from 4,796 tested.

Samar has the most number of infections at 1,464, followed by Leyte at 1,373 and Tacloban City with 715. Locally stranded individuals make up 38.4 percent of confirmed cases, or a total of 1,637.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases placed Eastern Visayas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until 30 September, except for Tacloban City which is on stricter GCQ status.

But with barely a week remaining before the month ends, residents in the region said it will be best to remain on MGCQ or impose a stricter quarantine status.

While there had been a decrease in the number of daily cases in cities like Tacloban and Catbalogan during the last two weeks, infections spiked in Sogod, Southern Leyte and Pinabacdao and Calbayog City in Samar.

Eastern Visayas is also grappling with red tide as 12 bays have been declared contaminated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Gathering, selling and eating all types of shellfishes are prohibited.

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LSI return to Bukidnon halted

With the rising number of arriving LSI and ROF, local government units started to declare localized lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 contagion.




RETURNING overseas Filipinos and locally stranded individuals have been blamed for rising COVID-19 cases in some provinces. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PHIL ARMY

The Northern Mindanao Inter Agency COVID-19 Task Force approved a provincial resolution that suspends the entry of returning overseas Filipinos (ROF) and locally stranded individuals (LSI) to Bukidnon until 4 October to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Region 10 task force said any request for imposition, extension and lifting of the return of ROF and LSI by local government units shall be decided at the regional level.

Bukidnon appealed for the suspension in view of increasing number of COVID-19 cases and after the province was tagged as an emerging hotspot in Northern Mindanao by the Department of Health.

Bukidnon opened its borders to LSI and ROF on 1 July when the province only had 21 infections.

“With the rising number of arriving LSI and ROF, local government units started to declare localized lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 contagion,” a statement read.

As of 22 September, the DoH regional office has recorded 73 local transmissions, three deaths and 173 positive cases among LSI and ROF.

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