MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday called for the establishment of more mega quarantine facilities in Central Visayas, especially in Cebu as it emerges as the new epicenter of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
“The Department of Health should step up its response in Cebu City because the only way that we can flatten the curve is if all areas of the country are able to control the spread of the disease,” Angara said in a statement.
As of June 28, 2020, Region 7 has breached the 8,000 mark on the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with Cebu City accounting for 4,962 of these infections.
A total of 252 COVID-19 deaths have also been recorded, with 157 of these from Cebu City.
Cebu City is the only area in the country placed under enhanced community quarantine.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) earlier said it is now looking for possible sites to construct additional isolation or quarantine facilities in Cebu City.
Angara noted that a newly-constructed quarantine facility in the city, which can accommodate more than 300 patients, was opened on Monday, June 29.
The senator, a COVID-19 survivor, also called on more hospitals in Cebu City to consider using convalescent plasma therapy to treat severe cases of coronavirus disease.
Some hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu undertook efforts to use convalescent plasma therapy and hybrid therapeutic plasma exchange as possible treatments for COVID-19 patients.
The hybrid therapeutic plasma exchange involves the removal of bad plasma from a patient and replacing these with good plasma from donors.
The training of public school teachers for distance learning is set to be completed by July, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
During the Senate Committee hearing on Thursday (June 25), DepEd reported that only 40 percent of the 800,000 public school teachers have completed their training.
Deped Undersecretary Tony Umali said there will be a massive training to be led by the National Educators Academy of the Philippines.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, questioned DepEd for the lack of “mapping” to determine the best learning modality in various areas in the country.
“Iyong training na gagawin sa teachers dapat angkop sa kakayahan ng lugar. For example, let’s say Bukidnon or Cordillera na alam naman natin mahirap ang signal. So why would we train our teachers for an online way of teaching our kids when alam naman natin na mukhang mahirap iyong ganung klase ng pagtuturo? (The training for teachers should be appropriate for the area. For example, let’s say in Bukidnon or Cordillera which we know have difficulty in signal. Why would we train our teachers for an online way of teaching kids when we know that mode of teaching would be difficult),” she said.
DepEd said they are conducting surveys to determine the capacity of students and teachers for alternative learning modality under distance learning.
“Kasi po kasabay nga po ng aming registration form ay may survey, dapat malaman namin kung ano ba ang pinakamabisang modality, pamamaraan ng pagtuturo at pag-aaral ng mga bata, (With our registration form, we also have a survey. It should help us determine what is the best modality, mode of learning for the students’ education),” Umali said.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has already prepared the educational radio programs and scripts for the digital programs for Grade 9 and 10 Math and Science lessons.
Meanwhile, DepEd calls on private schools to suspend tuition fee hike and other fees.
“The Department of Education appeals to private educational institutions in basic education to defer increases in tuition and other miscellaneous fees or charges for School Year 2020-2021. In view of the financial constraints that parents and learners are expected to face due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation,” DepEd said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday urged the government to hire traditional public utility jeepneys that are compliant to safety protocols to augment the number of public utility vehicles (PUV) that will shuttle commuters to work amid the general community quarantine (GCQ).
In a statement, Poe said the government should all the more provide transportation options to the public given the limited capacities of PUVs to observe physical distancing measures.
Thousands of commuters have been struggling to get to their workplaces since the first day of GCQ in Metro Manila as authorities maintained that the resumption of mass transportation should be gradual.
“Malinaw na walang masakyan ang maraming pasaherong bukod sa nagtitiis sa kakahintay sa mahabang pila ay hindi rin siguradong makakarating sa kanilang pupuntahan,” she said.
During deliberations on the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill on Tuesday, Poe suggested that an amount be set aside for hiring of the additional shuttles, and that clear guidelines should be in place for the resumption of public jeepney operations.
The senator noted that since the start of the GCQ, only 90 buses are plying along EDSA as against the 3,500 buses running pre-quarantine.
With only 25 passengers per trip per unit, only about 20,000 passengers can be accommodated instead of the 250,000 before the lockdown.
“A line on the Department of Transportation spending should state that it will prioritize hiring of additional shuttles during our transition process into an eased quarantine,” Poe said.
She also proposed that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) maintains the status quo or ‘no phase out’ of old PUVs to prevent mass displacement.
At the same time, Poe asked the agency to directly subsidize drivers and buses and jeepneys that will be allowed operate during the transition period.
“This will enable PUV drivers to comply with social distancing measures without sacrificing financial viability,” she said.
Poe also asked for the prompt release of promised subsidies to PUV drivers and operators, who were left without income during the lockdown.
The senator also pushed for the inclusion of the department’s mandate to guarantee a masterlist of qualified transport service workers to implement the wage subsidies and cash-for-work program, and coordinate the accelerated distribution of the first and second rounds of subsidy under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Poe likewise pitched to negotiate the restructuring of existing loans and the provision of credit lines and interest-free loans of critically-impacted transport service providers, and facilitate the contracting of PUVs and other forms of emergency livelihood arrangements.
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