House records 98 new cases after COVID-19 mass testing

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2020   •   409

MANILA, Philippines – Ninety-eight individuals in the House of Representatives tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following a mass testing conducted in the lower chamber.

In a statement on Tuesday, House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said the number represents nearly five percent of 2,000 House lawmakers and employees who underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing since November 10.

Mendoza, however, did not say how many of these individuals were House lawmakers and personnel.

“It’s the first time a mass testing was conducted in the House since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, and this happened less than one month after Speaker [Lord Allan] Velasco assumed office,” he said.

According to Mendoza, almost all COVID-19 positive cases were asymptomatic.

“All those who tested positive were directed to self-isolate to avoid passing the virus to others and immediate tracing of their close contacts was conducted,” he said.

Prior to November 10, the House already registered more than 80 COVID-19 cases since March. Almost all of them have recovered, except for two lawmakers and three employees who succumbed to the disease.

The testing laboratory commissioned by the House has reported the cases to the Department of Health, while the chamber’s in-house medical service made proper coordination with concerned Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams, Mendoza said.

The Lower House will also continue to operate under strict health and safety protocols as it coordinates with the Quezon City government for the conduct of a more extensive contact tracing, he added.

Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before they can be granted access to the offices inside the complex.

All those entering the House need to wear masks and face shields, pass through thermal scanners and disinfection machines, and observe physical distancing at all times.

House members, employees and guests are required to submit an accomplished health declaration form to inform the chamber of their health status before being allowed to enter its premises.

All offices and buildings within the complex are also disinfected daily.

The House of Representatives is conducting a hybrid session that combines physical presence with teleconferencing to tackle legislative measures.

Davao City requires RT-PCR testing for 1st to 3rd gen close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 case

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 8, 2021

First to third-generation close contacts of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases will now be required to undergo Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, according to the Davao City Government.

Vice Mayor and acting Davao City Mayor Sebastian Z. Duterte ordered the mandatory swabbing of all F1, F2, and F3 close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case which will be effective until December 31, 2021.

He issued Executive Order (E.O.) No. 20, Series of 2021, known as “An Order Providing For Mandatory Swabbing Of All F1, F2, and F3 Contacts of an RT-PCR Confirmed Positive Case of COVID-19 in Davao City.”

As stated in the EO, the acting mayor said, “There is a need to expand the testing of contacts beyond the F1 category as an attempt to control the transmission of the virus.”

He also cited the need to recalibrate strategies to prevent and control COVID-19 transmission in Davao City amid the surge of cases in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Vice Mayor Duterte is the acting mayor of Davao City from April 6 to 10 while her sister Mayor Inday Sara Duterte took a leave for health reasons. AAC

House Speaker Velasco renews push for Bayanihan Law 3 amid COVID-19 surge

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has renewed his call for the passage of Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, also known as Bayanihan 3, that will provide direct aid to Filipinos struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Velasco revived his proposal as more areas are placed under localized lockdowns and some businesses were again forced to shut down due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“There are a lot of Filipinos who are suffering financially and are in dire need of help now. A third economic stimulus package will provide a much-needed lifeline to individuals, families, and businesses severely affected by the pandemic,” Velasco said in a statement.

The lawmaker was referring to his own version of the Bayanihan 3 bill that proposes a P420-billion fund to stimulate the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

House Bill 8628 or the proposed Bayanihan 3 seeks to allocate the following funds:

  • P108 billion for additional social amelioration to impacted households
  • P100 billion for capacity-building for impacted sectors
  • P52 billion for wage subsidies
  • P70 billion for capacity-building for agricultural producers
  • P30 billion for internet allowances to students and teachers
  • P30 billion for assistance to displaced workers
  • P25 billion for COVID-19 treatment and vaccines
  • P5 billion for the rehabilitation of areas impacted by recent floods and typhoons

Velasco filed the measure in February after the passage of the bill extending the validity of Bayanihan 2, and upon seeing further need to allocate additional funds to help the nation cope with the pandemic.

To date, 224 members from the supermajority, minority, and independent blocs in the House of Representatives have signed either as principal authors or co-authors of the measure.

Lawmakers said reports that the Philippine economy contracted 9.5 percent in 2020—the worst performance in the country’s post-war history—underscore the importance and urgency of passing Bayanihan 3.

The country’s economic managers had reportedly said they were not sure if the third stimulus package would still be necessary if quarantine restrictions were eased further and the economy moves faster.

However, Velasco said that during a recent virtual meeting, he got an assurance from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that efforts are being made to identify funding sources for the Bayanihan 3.

“It’s a matter of finding revenues to be able to fund those programs. Secretary Dominguez did not actually shoot down Bayanihan 3,” Velasco said.

“Definitely, he (Dominguez) really wants to help the Filipino people. Ang sinabi lang niya e give him time to look for the funding,” he added.

The measure also seeks to provide each household member P1,000 regardless of their economic status. On top of this, a P1,000 allowance will be provided to each student and teacher and P8,000 for every displaced worker.

House OKs bill on housing rental subsidy for informal settlers

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking the creation of a housing rental subsidy program for informal settler families (ISF).

Voting 189-6-0, the lower house passed House Bill 8736 which seeks to promote a just, equitable, and inclusive urban development through programs providing adequate social services, broader housing options, livelihood, employment, as well as an improved quality of life for Filipinos.

The measure proposes to enable ISFs to access the formal housing market and facilitate the temporary relocation of families who were displaced due to natural and man-made disasters.

The bill stipulates that eligible ISFs in Metro Manila would receive a flat rental subsidy rate of P3,500.

Meanwhile, the rates for those living in other regions would be determined by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), taking into consideration the prevailing minimum wage and rental rates per region, but not exceeding P3,500.

The bill mandates that the rental subsidy shall not exceed the actual rent, provided that such subsidy may be reviewed or revised by the DHSUD and NEDA not more than once every two years to conform to prevailing economic conditions.

The rental subsidy shall be granted to eligible beneficiaries until the date of completion of or upon their actual transfer to the permanent housing project intended for them.

Program applicants shall be required to vacate the informal settlement area they are currently occupying and relocate to a safer area in order to receive the rental subsidy.

Beneficiaries shall be prohibited from moving back to the area where they were originally living unless permitted by proper government authorities and obliges them to pay that portion of the rent in excess of the subsidy.

 

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