14-day ‘no vacation leave’ policy for BI port personnel starts Dec. 1

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2020   •   135

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has prohibited port personnel in different international airports nationwide from going on vacation leave starting next month for the yuletide season.

This is to ensure that sufficient number of immigration officers are on duty to serve the traveling public during the upcoming holiday season.

The ban on filing of applications for vacation leave by BI port personnel will take effect on December 1 and will end on January 15, 2021.

“We have to make sure that our immigration booths at the airports are adequately manned in anticipation of an increase in the number of international travelers who will enter and exit the country during that period,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.

He, however, said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the BI expects only a slight to moderate rise in number of passengers who will depart or arrive from abroad.

This is because many countries have not yet lifted travel restrictions that were imposed since the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in March.

“Thus, we are confident that the number of immigration officers currently deployed at the ports are enough to facilitate the efficient conduct of immigration formalities for arriving and departing passengers,” Morente added.

According to BI, the no vacation leave policy this holiday season applies to all immigration personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as the airports in Mactan Cebu and Clark, Pampanga, Kalibo, Iloilo, Davao, Laoag and the Zamboanga international seaport.

This means during the 45-day period, no application for leave or authority to travel abroad by any of the said BI port employees will be entertained or approved.

Nutrition expert advises public to watch eating habits this holiday season

Marje Pelayo   •   November 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The holiday season is approaching and just like in previous years, many are preparing for a year-end feast. The only difference is that gatherings are now limited by protocols against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to lifestyle and nutrition expert Dr. Dex Macalintal, being confined at home by months of community quarantine has led many into a sedentary lifestyle that contributed to weight gain and weakened immune system.

Dr. Macalintal recommends adding more fruits and vegetables to our menu this holiday season to balance our diet and prevent certain diseases.

Avoid too much sweets and choose lean meat like chicken instead of fatty foods.

Nakita sa mga pag-aaral na sa epidimeology side, marami yung inaatake sa puso sa panahon ng mga December to January dahil sa mga kinakain natin. Nakita na yan wala nang rason para hindi tayo mag ingat,” Macalintal said.

(It has been observed in epidemiological studies that incidence of heart attack and stroke increase in December and January because of what people eat. That’s proven so we have reason to be cautious.)

Macalintal advises the elderly to regularly check their blood pressure as hypertension may lead to heart attack.

Also, the public should be aware of symptoms or signs of stroke.

Maaaring yung sakit sa dibdib ay parang may naka dagan, dito sa inner side ng  left arm ay maaaring may namanahid pati ang inyong left jaw,” Macalintal explained.

(You may feel chest pains or a feeling of heavy pressure. There’s numbness in the inner side of your left arm and left jaw.)

Kapag ganyan ang atake pumunta kayo agad sa emergency room at magpatingin sa doktor dahil baka atake sa puso iyan para maagapan,” he said.

(When the condition is like that, go straight to the emergency room and seem immediate help from a doctor because that might already be stroke, so it may be prevented.)

The expert underscored the importance of exercise even when being cooped up inside the house.

Also, Macalintal reminds the public to be cautious in joining holiday gatherings as the risk of COVID-19 remains high.

He noted that family members could be meeting up with different people in their respective places, some of whom could be carriers of the virus. 

It is still best, Macalintal said, to hold virtual gatherings through social media in consideration of the pandemic. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Palace urges public to continue observing health protocols this holiday season

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has urged the public to continue practicing minimum health safety protocols during the holidays.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., on Tuesday (November 24) said the Department of Health (DOH) is already preparing for a contingency plan for a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Mas mabuti nang maagap, sabi nga. Sa ngayon, alam natin na ang Christmas season ay isang masayang okasyon sa Pilipinas kung saan marami ang pagtitipon, pagkikita-kita at reunions ng mga miyembro ng pamilya at mahal sa buhay […] siguraduhin na sa darating na holiday season ay mapapanatili natin ang minimum public health standards, (It is better to be prepared. We know that Christmas season is a merry occasion in the Philippines where there are reunions with family members and loved ones […] make sure that this holiday season we can maintain minimum public health standards)” he said during a press briefing.

The DOH already released Circular 2020-0355 where classified as safe activities are attending online masses, noche buena or media noche with the family inside the home. This also includes online video calls among family members who are apart during the holiday season, and shopping in online stores.

Moderate risk are small gatherings in public areas that take into consideration physical distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings while high risk activities include physical attendance in indoor religious activities with many attendees, shopping in crowded malls and tiangge, big gatherings in enclosed spaces, and singing, speaking loudly, and physical contact. AAC

Gov’t warns closure against tiangge operators violating minimum health protocols

Marje Pelayo   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Shoppers are starting to flock to Manila City’s shopping district Divisoria now that the holiday season is approaching.

Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Malacañang warned tiangge operators that they may be ordered closed if proven to have been violating the minimum health standards set by the government.

“Kapag hindi po kayo nag-control ng crowd, baka po mapasara kayo, lalo kayong mawalan ng negosyo [If you will not control the crowd you could be closed. You would lose (the) opportunity for your business],” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The Department of Health (DOH), meanwhile, has started to draft a contingency plan in anticipation of the post-holiday surge of COVID-19 infections.

But still, in order not to contract the virus, Malacañang calls on the public to be conscious of their health.

Though the local government units are the ones responsible for the health and safety of their constituents when going to commercial centers in their areas, it is still the cooperation of each individual person that is needed to curb the transmission. 

“Responsibilidad na rin po natin iyan because kinakailangan nga abutan natin iyong libreng bakuna [That’s our responsibility. We have to reach that day when the free vaccine is already available],” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Ingatan naman natin ang ating mga sarili, hindi lang para sa hanapbuhay [Let’s us protect ourselves not just for work],” he added. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)


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