The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will earmark P20 million from its internal income for the procurement of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Danilo Lim, MMDA chairman, said the agency will appropriate funds to ensure the procurement of anti-COVID-19 vaccines through the help of Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), an attached agency under the Department of Trade and Industry, in coordination with PITC president and CEO Dave Almarinez.
Once finalized, the agency will execute a memorandum of agreement with PITC for the inclusion of MMDA in the procurement of vaccines worth P20 million.
PITC has been mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte to purchase COVID-19 vaccines from overseas.
“The vaccine will add to our sustained efforts against COVID-19. Our personnel who are mostly frontliners can be fully secured of their health,” Lim said.
The MMDA chief said each employee can also nominate one member of his family for vaccination.
“Our employees’ families are as important as they are to us. We want them to be protected, too,” he added.
Jojo Garcia, MMDA general manager, likened COVID-19 vaccination to the “matchstick principle.”
“Vaccination can stop the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is spread from one person to another, but when a person is vaccinated, he is protected from the virus,” he said.
“The vaccine can help boost a person’s immune system, decreasing the risk of infection from the virus,” he added.
The MMDA has more than 8,000 employees, with about 80 percent working in various outdoor locations in Metro Manila.
Cops round up 89 quarantine violators
A “one time, bigtime” operation conducted by the Batasan police in Quezon City early morning Thursday resulted in the apprehension of 89 quarantine violators.
Residents were either given citation tickets, warned, or fined for violating Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Management Code, city ordinances and Presidential Decree 1602 for illegal gambling.
Traffic violators were flagged down for not having their driver’s licenses at the time of apprehension and for not wearing their helmets while riding their motorcycles.
Several of those accosted were also due to violating the 8pm-5am curfew imposed by the city government as part of its anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures, non-compliance with the mandatory wearing of masks outside residence.”
Food delivery firm hires Valenzuela trike drivers
The City of Valenzuela and food delivery service Foodpanda on Thursday inked a deal launching “Panda Toda,” an initiative to provide an additional source of income to tricycle drivers hardly hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian bared that at least 150 trike drivers will be onboarded onto the project as Foodpanda’s partner drivers.
“In our agreement with them Food Panda will use our tricycle drivers as delivery service for food orders course through their app,” Gatchalian said.
To note, food delivery services have become essential amid the national government’s imposition of community quarantine across the country with majority of the population ordered to stay home to arrest the spread of the contagion.
50-year-old QC druggie collared
A drug personality included in the most wanted list of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) was finally collared during a buy-bust operation in Novaliches last Wednesday night.
Local police identified the suspect as 50-year-old Rodora Danan, No. 7 on the QCPD’s most wanted list of drug personalities and a resident of Barangay Sta. Monica, who was arrested in a drug sting conducted by Novaliches Police Station 4-Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) operatives headed by PLT. Col. Hector Amancia following a series of intelligence and surveillance operations.
Seized from Danan’s possession were 15 sachets containing suspected crystal meth, or shabu, with an estimated street value of P204,000, a digital weighing case, mobile phone, and marked money used in the operation.
The suspect, according to police reports, also has a previous case involving illegal drugs.
Danan is now detained at QCPD PS4. She will be charged for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2022.
Manila unveils 5th walk-in COVID lab
Manila City Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna on Thursday led the launch of the capital’s fifth walk-in COVID-19 serology testing center at the Ospital ng Tondo (OsTon).
As part of the city government’s continuing efforts against the coronavirus disease pandemic, the new testing facility will be open Monday to Friday and is expected to conduct 100 tests daily starting at 6 a.m.
It will cater to residents and non-residents alike, Domagoso noted as he also stressed the city’s inclusive approach in battling the viral respiratory illness.
“It’s going to be given for free by our Manila City government. I take pity on the people. Many of them need to be tested for work, but they have to shell out their own money. Businesses are also not making any profits and yet they also need to spend for their workers’ testing. That is why we’ve always wanted to offer this service,” expressed Domagoso.
“Everyone is welcome to get tested here, even those not residing in Manila. The COVID-19 pandemic is a universal problem. We have to approach it inclusively. That is why this is open for all and for free,” he added.
Meanwhile, Domagoso also bared that Manila’s second reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratory will start operations very soon and will be capable of conducting around 1,000 swab tests per day.
“We will strengthen the capability of the local government by means of the “gold standard” way of testing. We are about to finish the construction of an additional swab laboratory testing area with two machines given to us by DoH (Department of Health) and DBM (Department of Budget and Management,” the mayor shared.
The walk-in test center in OsTon is the fifth to be opened by Moreno and Lacuna, with the drive-through free rapid testing centers remaining open and continue to test motorists for free.
To date, the city now has five walk-in serology testing centers, two drive-thru testing sites, and one swab testing laboratory along with the holding of regular mobile serology testing activities.
MMDA lists more EDSA barriers mishaps
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) listed two more accidents reportedly caused by the concrete barriers along 54-kilometer stretch of EDSA.
The first one involved an SUV which slammed into a barrier at the northbound lane of the EDSA-Timog flyover shortly after midnight of Thursday, 23 September.
Witnesses say the driver of the said vehicle, identified by MMDA traffic enforcers as Dominador Cabanag Velasco III, was speeding along the highway when he lost control and eventually hit the concrete structure.
Velasco sustained minor injuries and was brought to the nearby Delgado Hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, a southbound Kellen bus also figured in an accident near the EDSA-Monte De Piedad lane.
The bus was also said to be running way past the speed limit when it hit the concrete barriers. Its driver, identified as Esteban Mailo Handig, however, did not stop which prompted MMDA personnel to chase after the wayward public utility vehicle.
Enforcers were able to catch up and apprehended Handig at the EDSA-Main Avenue intersection.
Handig was cuffed and brought to the Quezon Police District (QCPD) traffic bureau in Camp Karingal.
BI intercepts suspected human trafficking victims
Seven Filipinas bound for the Middle East were barred from leaving the country over suspicions that they are victims of human trafficking, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) disclosed Thursday.
In a report submitted to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, Personnel of the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (BI-TCEU) assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) said the outbound personnel were supposed to leave for the United Arab Emirates last 17 September via a Philippine Airlines flight bound to Dubai.
Three of them were reportedly hired to work as caregivers while the rest were recruited to work as marketing and sales agents for an interior design company in the UAE.
BI-TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo disclosed the passengers, whose identities have been withheld by authorities, claimed it was their first time leaving the country as overseas Filipino workers (OFW). Upon closer inspection, however, the BI detected their documents to be fraudulent and the Filipinas suspected of being victims of human trafficking.
Barizo said that upon verification of the seven Pinays’ Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC), its either there were no records of them in the database of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or have been issued to other individuals.
Their UAE visas were only that for tourists and are not valid for employment.
They have been turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for assistance and further investigation.
“We were told that these intercepted victims all said that they met their handlers and recruiters via social media and that their travel papers were only handed to them a few days before their scheduled flights,” BI Morente said in a statement. “They did not know that these fraudulent papers could result in interception by our officers.”
“These traffickers are taking advantage of our countrymen who need jobs during the pandemic,” he added.
Rider arrested, yields weed weighing 1.75 kilos
A 22-year-old delivery rider moonlighting as a drug peddler was arrested in a sting conducted by anti-narcotics operatives in Quezon City last Wednesday evening.
Joint elements of the Batasan Police Station 6-Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), following a series of intel-gathering and case buildup, accosted suspect Benjamin Parcon in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Culiat the other night.
Seized from Parcon’s possession was 1.75 kilos of marijuana, with an estimated value of P210,000, and nine pieces of P1,000 boodle used by a member of the arresting team who acted as the poseur-buyer.
The seized contraband has been turned over the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame for confirmatory testing.
Parcon, meanwhile, is now detained at PS6 and will be charged for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
BoC-NAIA turns over seized meth worth P4.5M
Operatives of the Bureau of Customs-Port of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (BoC-NAIA) and NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG) turned over seized unclaimed parcel containing methamphetamine, also known as shabu, to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for disposition and inventory.
The contraband with a total weight of 640 grams was concealed inside tin cans of wafer biscuits, packs of chocolates and candies, stuffed toys and slippers all put inside a box sent last July from Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States with its intended recipient said to be a resident of Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Said cargo, however, did not get past the profiling of BoC personnel and was immediately intercepted upon its arrival and consequently reported to the NAIA-IADITG and PDEA.
PDEA is now in the process of profiling and case buildup against the importers and consignee for possible prosecution for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in relation to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
The BoC-NAIA, PDEA and NAIA-IADITG will continue their coordination with regards to the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign as a show of their full support to the Intensified Border Protection Priority of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero.
BoC-NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan, meanwhile, assured the public that despite the national health crisis caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Customs front liners “shall remain focused in their duty of protecting the country’s borders against the importation and exportation of illegal drugs, substances, and other contraband that poses a threat to security and public health.”
Poverty-stricken Manila students get new tablets
City of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso used anew money he earned from doing commercial endorsements to help his constituents, this time purchasing almost P9 million worth of tablets for the poverty-stricken students of the Unibersidad de Manila (UdM).
Domagoso, accompanied by Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna, turned over 1,000 pieces of Samsung Galaxy A tablets worth P8.8 million to UdM president Malou Tiquia yesterday to be distributed and used for the impoverished recipients’ distance learning.
The money was sourced from the various commercials the city mayor did for private companies such as Chooks to Go, Power Tools, IAM Worldwide Coffee, Fruitas, Cosmic Technologies Inc. and Better Option Pharmaceutical.
“I know the difficulties students are faced with, especially the poor ones studying in public schools,” Domagoso said in a statement.
“I know what the students are going through especially in this time pandemic where many parents either lost their jobs and are finding it difficult to raise their families. That is why Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and I are offering these to the poorest of the poor students of UdM. We hope to help them in their online classes now that they are experiencing the blended distance learning mode because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
The UdM administration will be pinpointing the junior, senior high school, and college students most deserving to receive the gadgets.