Gordon bats for reopening of Subic Airport for OFW repatriation efforts

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2020   •   499

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ricard Gordon has renewed his call for the reopening of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) to accommodate flights carrying repatriating overseas Filipino workers (OFW) amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In a statement on Sunday, Gordon pointed out that the Subic Airport is “very suitable” for receiving arriving OFWs because it has facilities for the accommodation, testing, and quarantine of repatriates.

He also said that the newly opened Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory in Subic and Clark can also accommodate a combined capacity for running up to 4,000 tests a day.

Gordon noted that more than 300,000 OFWs are expected to arrive in the next three to four months, and diverting flights carrying repatriates to SBIA would help facilitate their testing and immediate travel to their respective provinces after their test results have been released.

“Kahapon kinausap ko si Sec. Art Tugade at sabi ko Art, matagal ka nang nangangako sa kin, buksan mo na ‘yung airport ng Subic para diyan maglanding ‘yung ibang OFWs para ma-test na sila kaagad-agad,” he said.

Gordon also said that arriving ships carrying Filipino seafarers can dock at the Subic seaport.

“Dati sa Manila Bay sila nagte-test, ang hirap pumasok. Sa Subic, kalmado ang tubig kaya mas madaling pasukin ng Coast Guard ‘yung mga barko para makapag-swab sila sa mga seafarers,” he said.

Gordon further said that using the SBIA for OFW repatriation efforts could jumpstart the resumption of its operations for international flights and reactivate its tourism industry.

“Once we have tested everybody here we can advertise to the whole world, ‘we have already tested all the employees here, we have tested everyone here so now you are welcome to come down here.’ And jobs can be generated right away,” he said.

Gordon said a P500-million budget has been allocated in the 2019 budget for the rehabilitation of the SBIA.

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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