Group urges Gov’t to limit water usage in pools, other businesses amid supply woes

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2019   •   1679

Photo by Nelly Aran from Pexels

MANILA, Philippines – A labor group on Saturday (June 22) called on the national government to intervene in the worsening water supply issues in Metro Manila due to the rapidly dropping water level at Angat Dam.

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) suggested for the government to limit the usage of water-intensive facilities, such as swimming pools and other businesses until the water at Angat dam stabilizes.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) on Saturday reported that Angat Dam’s water level dropped to 159.78 meters.

“Because water is a basic requirement for the 13 million Metro Manila residents, it must be given priority over the profit margin of businesses,” the group said in a statement.

“To address the intermittent water supply required to households of Metro Manila, government must intercede to limit the water usage of water-intensive facilities and businesses such as golf courses, swimming pools and water fountains,” it added.

The group estimated there are about 15 golf courses in areas covered by both water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, including publicly-owned Veterans and Camp Aguinaldo golf courses in Quezon City and the Army and Navy golf clubs in Fort Bonifacio.

There are also over 10,000 swimming pools all over the metropolis, including water parks, swimming resorts, club houses, indoor pools of condominiums and private pools in posh subdivisions.

“Why should the people stand in line for water rations on a daily basis when the elite consume so much water for their luxuries? Why are the poor again the first to sacrifice during a water crisis when they did not benefit when both Maynilad and Manila Water were brimming with profit,” said BMP leader Leody De Guzman in a statement.

The BMP also called for the suspension of building permits for new businesses which require huge amounts of water until Angat dam water level stabilizes.

The group also called on the government, particularly the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to study the deployment of more radical contingency measures to address the worsening water supply in Metro Manila as its public appeal for water conservation is not enough.

The BMP is also pushing for the reversal of the policy of water privatization that resulted into the concession of the operations of the Metropolitan Wateworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS).

The group claims the privatization of Metro Manila’s water supply did not improve services and sustain the needs of Metro Manila residents.

Various groups divided on relaxing quarantine restrictions in NCR Plus 8

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups are not in full agreement on the proposed relaxation of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal or the NCR Plus 8.

For its part, labor group ALU-TUCP said downgrading quarantine classifications would be favorable as it would resume office and on-site works.

However, the group said the implementation of health and safety protocol must be strictly observed and maintained in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Nangangamba kami ng baka bumalik na uli tayo doon sa napakaraming mga kababayan natin at nakaparaming bilang ng mga manggagawa ang mahawa sa coronavirus disease,” said ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.

“Nakita natin doon sa mga bus terminal halimbawa sunod-sunod ang mga araw na ang daming mga manggagawa ang nakapila. Naba-violate ang mga safety protocols natin,” he added.

Meanwhile, employers are concerned about how prepared the government is should the COVID-19 cases surge, specifically in terms of mass testing, isolation, and treatment of patients. If that happened, they said hospitals would be overwhelmed anew.

“Kung magluluwag at babalik na naman dito at maghahabol na naman sila, iyon ang problema. Sayang ang pagluluwag at delikado pagka ganun,” argued Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, president of Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

“Pero kami talagang gusto namin tuloy- tuloy ang pagluwag dahil hirap na hirap na ating ekonomiya at ang ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Private hospitals are still struggling with the current number of COVID-19 patients.

The Private Hospitals Association Philippines (PHAPI) said it could agree with the easing of quarantine restrictions provided that the minimum health standards are strictly imposed.

“Halos wala na masyado na talagang critical occupancy, bumabalik na tayo doon sa dati. Medyo tumataas pa rin nang konti doon sa below high risk, “ said Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, PHAPI President.

The Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, said they have no records at present of any hospital having a high utilization rate of its intensive care unit (ICU).

“Pero sa ngayon nakikita natin iyong ating mga ospital sa Metro manila ay manageable lahat at wala pang risk level na mataas at lahat ay nakapag- decongest na from the last surge that we’ve had,” noted Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Former Special Adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 Dr. Tony Leachon, in the meantime, suggested that the government should observe the situation on the ground first before deciding on relaxing restrictions.

He noted that COVID-19 cases in NCR Plus are still high and other regions like Western Visayas, Davao and Zamboanga are also experiencing the spike.

It would be better, he said, to heighten border controls in between cities or regions to curb COVID transmissions.

“Kung luluwag tayo sa Maynila yun na nga lang inaasahan natin tapos babagsak din together with the other Western Visayas and Mindanao areas, ang hirap naman Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao meron kang three epicenters,” Leachon explained.

Experts from the OCTA Research Group also support the extension of a much stricter quarantine restriction in the NCR Plus 8 area.

“In the NCR, the GCQ must continue with stricter monitoring and compliance to minimum public health standards. Given the downward trends, further calibrated easing of restrictions for certain businesses can be considered provided these establishments comply with health and safety protocols of the government,” the group said in a statement.

“Further, the national government needs to accelerate implementation of the NCR plus vaccination plan,” it said. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Quarantine status sa NCR Plus posibleng luwagan sa Hunyo – Roque

Robie de Guzman   •   May 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Mayroong posibilidad na luwagan ang quarantine status sa National Capital Region (NCR) Plus pagsapit ng buwan ng Hunyo, ayon sa Malakanyang.

Ayon kay Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, patuloy na ang pagbaba ng kaso ng COVID-19 at nasa low-risk o 43 porsiyento na lang din ang overall healthcare utilization rate sa rehiyon as of May 25.

Kung ang mga ito ang pagbabatayan, sinabi ni Roque na maaaring luwagan ang quarantine status sa greater Manila area pagkatapos ng Mayo 31.

Gayunman, ikino-konsidera rin ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ang magiging rekomendasyon ng mga lokal na pamahalaan sa NCR Plus areas.

“Everything else being considered, there is a likelihood na mas magluluwag ang ating classification,” ani Roque.

Sa kasalukuyan, ipinatutupad ang general community quarantine with heightened restrictions sa NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, at Laguna.

Ayon naman kay Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairperson Benhur Abalos, suportado ng mga alkalde sa NCR ang unti-unting pagbubukas ng ekonomiya ng bansa basta’t matitiyak pa rin ang kalusugan ng publiko.

“More business activities, taasan ang capacity pero dahan-dahan, so yan po ang napag-usapan ng mga alkalde,” ang wika ni Abalos.

Napagkasunduan rin aniya ng mga alkalde na panatilihin muna ang ipinatutupad na uniform curfew hours mula alas-diyes ng gabi hanggang alas-kuwatro ng madaling araw.

Una nang inirekomenda ng OCTA Research group na palawigin pa ang GCQ status sa NCR Plus dahil mataas pa rin naman ang naitatalang average na COVID-19 cases kada araw.

Sa nakalipas na pitong araw, nasa 1,099 ang average number ng daily COVID-19 cases sa NCR.

Posibleng ianunsiyo ni Pangulong Duterte ang bagong quarantine status para sa NCR Plus at sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa bago o sa mismong Mayo 31.  RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Church gatherings up to 30% capacity now allowed in Metro Manila – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Manila Council (MMC) has allowed religious gatherings up to 30 percent venue capacity as noted in the latest resolution approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement during a Laging Handa briefing on Friday.

“Nagpulong ang inyong IATF kahapon kung saan nagsabi ang Metro Manila Council na pinapayagan ng mga mayors ng NCR ang religious gatherings sa 30 percent venue capacity,” he said.

The IATF earlier allowed religious gatherings up to 10% of the venue capacity under the general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.

Local government units, however, are given the discretion to increase the venue capacity of religious gatherings as long as these would not exceed the 30% allowable venue capacity.

The latest policy approved on Thursday is contained in the IATF Resolution No. 116.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna under GCC with heightened restrictions from May 15 to 31.

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