Gatchalian renews call for gov’t to uphold teachers’ welfare amid COVID-19 pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021   •   344

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday renewed his push for the government to uphold the welfare of teachers amid the threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Gatchalian made the call following the deaths of five Department of Education (DepEd) personnel in Isabela due to coronavirus infection.

“Habang patuloy ang pagtaas ng mga kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, lalong dapat paigtingin ng DepEd ang pag-aalaga sa ating mga gurong isinasakripisyo ang kanilang kaligtasan at kalusugan upang maipagpatuloy ng ating mga kabataan ang kanilang pag-aaral,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Kailangang tiyakin sa ating mga guro na may agarang tulong na maipapaabot sa kanila kung sakaling sila ay magkasakit,” he added.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, said that upholding the welfare of teachers entails the strict enforcement of the alternative work arrangement, the assurance of access to COVID-19 testing, treatment for those who would contract the virus, and the prioritization of teachers in the vaccination program.

DepEd last year assured that its personnel is covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) also offers the Employees’ Compensation (EC) Program, which provides income, medical, and other health benefits in the event of work-related sickness, injury, or death.

The School Division Office (SDO) in Isabela earlier said that it has reached out to the grieving families to provide urgent assistance and facilitate the expeditious release of benefits. DepEd also said that the infections were acquired through community transmission and not in their line of work.

Teachers’ groups have been calling on DepEd to extend financial assistance to personnel who get sick with COVID-19, claiming that teachers who got infected did not receive financial assistance from the government.

They said that any financial assistance extended to them comes from personal contributions or personal help from some government officials.

Gatchalian also reiterated his push to move up teachers in the COVID-19 vaccination priority list.

Teachers are currently under the B1 category with other social workers.

Gatchalian argued that teachers should instead be in the A4 sector with the frontline personnel of other essential sectors.

‘Maskless holiday’ sa Disyembre, target ng pamahalaan — Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Tiwala ang Malakanyang na maaabot ng Pilipinas ang minimithing ‘maskless holiday’ ngayong Disyembre sa gitna ng nagpapatuloy na vaccination program ng pamahalaan kontra COVID-19.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, malaki ang kumpiyansa ng pamahalaan na makakamit ang target na ito gaya ng nararanasan na ngayon sa ilang bansa.

“Kaya po yan. kaya nga po we are aiming for population protection… Kasi alam na natin sa mga bansang nakamit na nila ang containment, hindi na sila nagmamaskara at least sa outdoors gaya po ng Israel at ilang lugar sa Amerika,” ani Roque.

Sa datos ng pamahalaan as of June 16, 5.51 milyon na ang nakatanggap ng first dose ng COVID-19 vaccine sa buong bansa.Nasa 2.012 milyon naman ang nakakumpleto na ng doses.

Una nang sinabi ng pamahalaan na target nitong mabakunahan ang nasa 70 milyong mamamayan ngayong taon.

Ayon naman sa biological sciences expert na si Nicanor Austriaco, achievable ang target na ito kung hindi magkakaroon ng problema sa pagdating ng supply ng bakuna sa bansa.

Kailangan ding umabot sa 250,000 doses ang mai-administer sa isang araw sa National Capital Region (NCR) Plus areas mula ngayong buwan ng Hunyo hanggang November 30, 2021 upang maabot ang containment sa greater manila area gayundin ang tinatatarget na herd immunity.

“I follow the number of vaccinations in the NCR Plus 8, we have the capacity as long as we have the supply. I am hopeful that the supplies are arriving based on the schedule that Sec. (Carlito) Galvez has published,” ani Austriaco.

Giit pa nito, dapat mauna ang herd immunity kontra COVID-19 sa NCR plus upang maiwasan ang nangyaring spill over ng coronavirus infections sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa.

Sinabi rin ni Austriaco na hindi ginagamit ang bakuna upang tugunan ang kasalukuyang mabilis na pagtaas ng COVID-19 cases sa ilang bahagi ng bansa kundi upang maiwasan ang future surge na karaniwang nag-uumpisa sa Greater Manila area. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

2019 Performance-Based Bonus to be released in next two months — DepEd

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The release of the 2019 Performance-Based Bonus (PBB) for teachers and eligible non-teaching personnel is expected within the next two months, according to Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones.

Briones, in a statement on Wednesday (June 16), said DepEd is working closely with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to fast-track the release of the 2019 PBB. She also said that the target release within two months will still be subjected to the approval of the DBM.

As of June 15, 2021, the DBM Organization, Position Classification and Compensation Bureau (OPCCB) has already transmitted the FY 2019 PBB of the elementary and secondary schools of 12 DepEd Regional Offices.

“We will continue to work with DBM in endorsing, processing, and eventually, releasing the PBB funds as part of our outstretched assistance to all DepEd employees,” she said.

PBB is an incentive given to government employees in accordance with their performance and contribution to the accomplishment of their agency’s overall targets and commitments.

The DepEd Central Office is now finalizing the performance ranking reports. Briones said that achieving PBB requirements is a commitment and shared responsibility of all concerned offices across the DepEd offices in the country.

In the coming years, let’s work together in order to comply with all the indicators and aim for 100% eligibility to provide quality basic education services for all,” she said. AAC

IATF to meet Thursday to discuss face shield policy – Nograles

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) is set to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

In a message, IATF co-chairperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said among the topics that will be tackled in the meeting is the use of face shields.

“May IATF kami mamaya. Pag-uusapan namin,” he said.

The policy on face shield wearing made headlines anew after Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other lawmakers shared with the public their conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday about the limited use of face shield.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque later confirmed the lawmakers’ statements that the president did say that face shields should only be worn in hospitals.

Roque said the president’s decision becomes a policy but there is a possibility that the IATF will appeal if the face shield rule will be loosened.

Nograles assured they will immediately announce if there are any changes in health protocols.

“If there is any announcement sa bagong protocol, ilalabas namin,” he said.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega earlier said that shields may be removed when outdoors.

Under existing protocols, face shields are required to be worn in the following areas:

  • Enclosed public spaces
  • Schools
  • Workplaces
  • Commercial establishments
  • Public transport and terminals
  • Places of worship

Face shields should also be worn in other areas where one-meter physical distancing is not possible and there is a gathering of more than 10 people at the same venue at the same time.

OCTA Research fellow and Biological Sciences Professor Nicanor Austriaco also said that face shields offer a certain degree of protection against COVID-19 especially in areas with high infection rate.

“Especially now in those areas undergoing surge, I recommend in high-risk areas whether there is surge, the 9% may be important. But here in Metro Manila, for example, when you are outside and there is no-one around you, I think it is reasonable to say that lowering the risk by 9% maybe something we’re able to tolerate in order to mitigate some of the burden that we have for the Filipino people,” he said.

The Department of Health earlier rejected proposals to drop the use of face shields, as the country’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage remains low.

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