DILG to LGUs: Don’t charge high fees for medical certificates

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020   •   327

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has reminded local government units (LGU) not to impose excessive fees for the issuance of medical certificates required for the travel authority of locally stranded individuals (LSI).

“Huwag na po nating singilin pa ng pagkamahal-mahal ang ating mga kababayan na gusto lamang makauwi sa kanilang mga probinsiya. Kung puwede ngang libre na lang dahil wala naman lab tests na gagawin,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

“Huwag na natin silang pahirapan as they have suffered enough kaya nga nila hinahangad na makauwi na,” he added.

Balik-Probinsya Program beneficiaries returning to their hometowns

Año issued the statement following reports that some LGUs are requiring locally stranded individuals to pay P3,000 for the issuance of medical certificates.

He said such action is an “injustice” to stranded individuals who only wish to secure certificates to go home to their provinces.

He added that these reports are now being looked into.

“Gusto nang umuwi ng mga LSI dahil wala na nga po silang pantustos sa kanilang pang-araw-araw dahil sila nga po ay stranded. Kung stranded na nga po sila tapos hihingan pa po natin sila ng napakalaking halaga ay parang wala naman po tayong malasakit,” the DILG chief said.

Under government guidelines, stranded individuals need to secure medical certificate and travel authority to be able to go back to their provinces.

Medical certificates must be requested from the LGU health office, but Año emphasized that stranded individuals need not undergo COVID-19 rapid or PCR testing as long as they have no symptoms or are not categorized as a probable or suspect coronavirus cases.

“Itong medical certificate ay nagsasaad lamang na hindi kayo contact, suspect, or a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, and also have undergone 14-day quarantine based on the protocols of the Department of Health,” he said.

After securing a medical certificate, LSIs may apply for travel authority being processed at the help desks of the local police station.

Año urged those who were made to pay exorbitant fees for their medical certificate to report the matter to the Philippine National Police and the DILG hotlines.

“Kung mayroon pong reports na ganito, ipaalam po ninyo agad sa amin sa DILG at PNP so that we can call the attention of the LGU,” the DILG chief said.

Any queries regarding travel authority may also be addressed by the Joint Task Force COVID Shield headed by Police General Guillermo Eleazar. 

“At para naman po doon sa may mga katanungan tungkol sa travel authority na ang mag-iissue ay ang Joint Task Force COVID Shield, mayroon pong mga hotline na 09988940013 at 09175382495,” he said.

PUV drivers, establishment workers and vendors in Manila to get free swab testing

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, market vendors and employees of various establishments in the Philippine capital will be provided with free RT-PCR tests, the Manila City government said Wednesday.

In a statement, the city’s public information office said Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso issued the order which will cover employees of malls, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, and vendors in public markets as well as drivers of e-trikes, pedicabs, tricycles, jeepneys and buses operating in the city.

Under Domagoso’s Executive Order No. 39, the Manila Health Department was tasked to provide free swab tests to said workers.

The order follows the launch of Sta. Ana Hospital’s second molecular laboratory, which has the capacity to process around 1,000 tests daily. The additional laboratory will raise the hospital’s test processing capacity to 30,000 a month.

“The real threat of COVID-19 will continue to persist in our community, thereby sending fear to every person of getting infected with it. This fear will affect not only the individual preferences and behavior or every person, but also the economic growth (of the city),” Domagoso said.

“In order to allay the fear of getting infected with COVID-19, there is a need to assure the public that employees of these frequently visited establishments are COVID-19 free and thus spur economic activities,” he added.

Mayor Isko also directed the Manila Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila, and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to “require establishments under their jurisdiction to require filling up mandatory health declaration forms for contact tracing purposes.”

Quezon City mayor cancels city hall parties, to donate funds

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

Parties for all offices under the Quezon City government during the holidays will no longer be held this year amid the continuing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said Tuesday.

A statement released on Tuesday said Belmonte has issued a memorandum directing all offices under the city hall to cancel parties scheduled in December and instead ordered them to donate the funds to underprivileged groups.

“The money that would have been spent on office Christmas parties would do more good as donations to the underprivileged during this extraordinarily difficult time in our nation’s history,” Belmonte said in a statement.

The local chief executive stressed that “it would be inappropriate for offices of the city government to hold customary Christmas parties while many of its citizens are experiencing hardships due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Instead of holding parties, she urged city hall employees to adopt an underprivileged sector— such as the urban poor, displaced workers, jeepney drivers, street vendors, indigent children, and poor senior citizens— and to modestly celebrate the season in their homes.

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Batanes records first COVID-19 case

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The province of Batanes on Tuesday said it has recorded its first case of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since the start of the pandemic early this year.

According to Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco, the province reported its first COVID-19 case after a 29-year old resident who returned on Sept. 22 tested positive for the virus.

He has a travel history in Santa Rosa, Laguna. He returned to the province on board a Philippine Air Force plane with 18 others.

Cayco said the patient is asymptomatic and currently under isolation and monitoring of the provincial COVID-19 task force.

She added that all 18 individuals who had close contact with the patient have been subjected to swab test and are now strictly being monitored.

Batanes is currently under a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) but the local government will recommend to place the province under a two-week GCQ to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

Cayco said outpost checkpoints will also be set up in all municipalities to monitor and limit the movement of people.

Airport operations and commercial flights to and from the province will also be suspended.

“Medivac lang ang pwedeng pumunta dito in some emergency cases. Pero yung commercial flights pina-stop muna namin,” she said.

The local government reminds residents to follow health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dan Gersalia)

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