DILG to issue show cause order vs. barangay execs over Cebu City street procession

Robie de Guzman   •   June 29, 2020   •   614

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday said it will issue a show cause order against barangay officials who are allegedly involved in the conduct of a street dance and procession in Barangay Basak San Nicolas in Cebu City despite the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said he also directed the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to investigate and file charges against the organizers of the said event.

“We will not tolerate any violation of our quarantine protocols. Those responsible will be made to account. Hindi din naman tayo tumitigil sa pagpapaalala na napakalaki ng risk of transmission ng COVID-19 sa mass gathering and yet we see these kinds of activities and what makes it worse ay ang barangay na ito ay isang COVID-19 hot spot,” Año said.

“We will definitely get to the bottom of this. We have issued a show cause order against the officials who are involved in this blatant violation of the ECQ currently being implemented in Cebu City,” he added.

Año expressed his disappointment and frustration over the incident because the organizers still pushed for the event even if the said barangay is among the COVID-19 hotspots in the city.

Reports reaching the DILG stated that hundreds of people flocked to the street of Sitio Alumnos in Barangay Basak last June 27 to participate in a street dance and procession, which is in violation of the rules prohibiting mass gathering during community quarantine.

“We need people to practice discipline. They should know better dahil ang Cebu City ang may pinakamaraming kaso, dapat sila ang mas maingat,” the DILG chief said.

“We have nothing against the expression of devotion but in a time of crisis, kailangan mag-isip din naman tayo. Sa ganitong mga pagsuway mas maraming buhay tayong nilalagay sa kapahamakan. Disiplina Muna!” he added.

Barangay Basak San Nicolas is one of the 12 barangays in Cebu City placed under strict lockdown due to the high number of recorded COVID-19 cases based on the report of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Other barangays under lockdown include Sambag Dos; Kamputhaw; Sambag Uno; Mabolo; Guadalupe; Lahug; Duljo; Tinago; Tisa; Ermita; and Tejero.

According to the Department of Health, Cebu City has a total of 4,562 total cases as of June 28, 2020; of which 3,892 are active cases, 592 have recovered, and 78 died.

Año said that the DILG is expecting to hear the explanation of the involved local leaders on why no criminal and administrative cases should be filed against them.

The DILG chief also confirmed that a separate investigation on 21 barangay officials and individuals is also being conducted by the PNP-CIDG.

In a Facebook post, officials of the said barangay denied any involvement in the alleged mass gathering, saying that they did not authorize the conduct of the street dance and Sinulog procession but why they did not use their legal authority to stop the event from happening was not sufficiently explained.

Duterte promises to settle PhilHealth’s multi-million debt to Philippine Red Cross

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte assures the public that the government will settle what it owes to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing. 

The President said the government will present its plan to the Commission on Audit (COA) and will look for funds through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Itong Red Cross, wag ka mag-aalala, babayaran ito (To the Red Cross, don’t you worry. You will get paid). We’re just looking for a way to present the solution to COA pati sa Budget. Do not worry we will pay. It will take time but we will pay, we will look for the money,” he said during his public address, Monday evening (October 19).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government hopes to settle at least 50 percent of more than P930 million owed to PRC as soon as possible.

“We hope to settle at least 50% of that amount as soon as possible. And the rest also within reasonable time,” he said.

The arrears came from expenses incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the PRC in relation to the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR testing for coronavirus infection.

The President reiterated that the government’s priorities amid the pandemic are providing medical attention to the Filipinos and procuring medical equipment.

He also believes that the PRC through its chairman Senator Richard Gordon will understand the government’s position on the matter.

“What I’m really trying to say is we will pay. Sabi ko kay Senator Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ito,” the President said. 

Nonetheless, the government has assured the public that the COVID-19 testing in the country will not be affected by the debts owed to the PRC.

Specimens from returning overseas Filipino workers as well as from frontliners which used to be accommodated by the PRC will now be sent to more than 100 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country for processing. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

LRT-1 assures safety as it increases passenger capacity to 30%

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2020

Photos here https://lrmc.com.ph/category/news/

MANILA, Philippines – The Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), the private operator and maintenance provider of Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1), on Tuesday, assured the safety of its passengers as it increases the capacity of trains following the government’s move to ease restrictions on public transportation.

In a statement, the LRMC said the rail line’s passenger loading capacity will be increased to 30% gradually up to 50% later on in compliance with the directive of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to gradually increase the maximum passenger capacity of trains and adhere to its Oplan Air.

Passenger control will be implemented using the passenger limit per platform strategy, wherein a defined number of passengers are allowed to board per station, it added.

The rail operator also emphasized the importance of wearing face masks and face shields which are part of the “7 commandments of public health” being imposed on public transportation to curb the transmission of COVID-19.

These health protocols also include the prohibition of talking and making phone calls, as well as eating when aboard a public vehicle, keeping the vehicle well-ventilated, the conduct of frequent disinfection, and the observance of physical distancing. Passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms are also not allowed inside public transportation.

“Rail Public Transportation is an enabler of our consumer-driven economy.  Our mission remains to provide safe transportation, and we achieve this using best in class safety protocols. In addition, we study the passenger behavior and target disinfection on the places most in contact with the passengers,” LRMC President and CEO Juan Alfonso said.

“These are measured by our team weekly, and adjustments are made to the priority areas for cleaning. I can assure our commuters that the LRT-1 system is safe,” he added.

The LRMC also said it is conducting a study on the safety protocols for its trains aimed at applying best practices in trains systems from abroad.

Alcohol drinking weakens resistance against COVID-19, experts say

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Cardiologist Dr. Tony Leachon used to believe drinking alcohol has health benefits.

For 30 years as a practicing heart doctor, he used to recommend moderate alcohol drinking to his patients until five years ago when he stopped doing so after realizing its risk.

Myth ang sinasabing moderate alcohol drinking can actually prolong survival dahil sa pagtaas ng good cholesterol (The claim that moderate alcohol drinking can actually prolong survival because it raises good cholesterol is a myth) . Hindi po totoo mga kababayan (It’s not true),” Leachon said.

Number 5 iyan sa checklist ko — no alcohol drinking (It’s number five on my list — no alcohol drinking),” he added.

A study published in the medical journal, The Lancet in August 2018 concluded that there is no safe level when it comes to drinking alcoholic beverages.

In fact, drinking alcohol can cause various illnesses including cancer, the study said.

Nutritionist-dietitian and lifestyle doctor, Dex Macalintal explained that regular exercise will be useless if accompanied by alcohol drinking. It is still best, he said, to be on the safe side especially concerning one’s health.

“Alcohol actually can increase estrogen levels. The studies vary pero mas maganda, (but preferably) we err on the safe side. A drink a day can increase the breast cancer risk by 10 perecent,” he said. 

Nag-e-exercise ka nga pero uminom ka naman ng alcohol (So what if you workout, when you drink alcohol anyway). A drink a day gives you 10 percent risk,” he added.

Alcohol drinking is also one of the leading causes of road accidents in the country, noted Dr. Leachon.

There are other diseases that may develop from regular drinking of alcoholic beverages, he added.

“Kung everyday mo gagawin iyan, magkakaroon ka ng dilated cardiomyopathy, lalaki ang puso mo (you will have an enlarged heart). Then, magkakaroon ka ng (Then you’ll have) fatty liver, then liver cirrhosis and then cancer,” he warned.

Leachon stressed that doctors and civil society groups presented these arguments at a hearing in Congress that’s why lawmakers agreed to impose higher taxes on alcoholic beverages.

The former special adviser of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 further warned that alcohol drinking can easily weaken the immune system which leads to higher risk against diseases especially during this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kapag umiinom kayo ng alak at wala kayong ginagawa sa bahay, hihina ang inyong resistance lalo kayong magkakasakit (If you are regularly drinking alcohol and lead a sedentary lifestyle, your resistance will weaken and you will develop more diseases),” he advised.

“So don’t ever do that. Ang gawin nyo ay (What you must do is) have a healthy lifestyle in this time of crisis,” he added.

Quitting alcohol drinking may prolong one’s life by 10 to 15 years more, Dr. Leachon said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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