LGUs reminded to complete SAP distribution by end of April

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2020   •   788

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units (LGU) have only until the end of April to distribute the cash assistance under the national government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP). 

Otherwise, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said local officials will face administrative and even criminal charges for failure to accomplish the purpose of the program of providing relief assistance to residents affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“Pagkatapos po, magkakaroon na po ng show cause order kung bakit hindi sila dapat papanagutin administratively and criminally [After the deadline, they will be issued with show cause order to explain why they shouldn’t be held administratively and criminally liable],” Roque said.

“Administratively and criminally as they may be held liable for dereliction of duty. It’s a form of graft,” he added.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), meanwhile, reminded LGUs that starting May 1, they should be distributing the second wave of SAP to their respective constituents. 

This second tranche will focus on areas under the extended ECQ and those who were ‘left out’ during the first wave.

In Caloocan City, the LGU has already distributed 50 percent of SAP cash fund to 216,000 families in the city.

According to DILG Caloocan Director Marco Cabuenos, the city has distributed the highest percentage of SAP among LGUs in the National Capital Region to date.

But like in other cities, a common problem that LGUs face is when people who complain about SAP forms go straight to the city hall instead of asking the officials of the barangay.

Si kapitan ang nakakakila sa kanyang ka-baranggay so sa kanila iyon [The barangay head knows his constituents so the task is on him],” Santos Banaag, a social worker assigned in the city hall said. –MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz / Rey Pelayo)

Local airlines to increase number of flights this holiday season

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Local airlines are preparing to add more flights as more passengers are expected to travel this holiday season just as quarantine restrictions ease.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the easing of quarantine restrictions can help the airline industry recover from the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The good news is the Balikbayan Program. This is the easing of travel requirements for balikbayans to entice them to return to the Philippines,” she said.

Villaluna said they are also coordinating with local government units to make sure the minimum health standards are still being implemented.

Local airlines have already partnered with private laboratories for more affordable and faster swab testing of passengers. For PAL and Air Asia, the RT-PCR testing in their accredited diagnostic lab costs P4,000.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific launched a “test before boarding” policy which requires passengers to undergo an antigen testing before boarding. The testing in Cebu Pacific is free from December 3 to December 14 but it is only exclusive to passengers en route to General Santos City.

“This is an initiative where we are closely working with the LGU in coming up with this process wherein passengers are required to take an antigen test no more than five hours before their departure time and then the results will come out in 30 minutes,” according to Candice Iyog, vice president for Marketing and Customer Experience of Cebu Pacific.

Local airlines advise passengers to refer to their respective websites for the essential requirements before boarding their flights. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte to attend virtual UN General Assembly on COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the 31st Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic from December 3 to 4, Malacañang said Thursday.

The Palace said Duterte is expected to deliver the Philippine Statement on December 3, where he will further amplify his call for global solidarity in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19.

The president is also expected to raise universal access to the anti-COVID-19 technologies, as well as the need for global efforts to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines to peoples of developing nations.

During the 75th UNGA session last September, Duterte also said that COVID-19 vaccines “must not be denied nor withheld,” and that “it should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Unemployment rate in October 2020 eases to 8.7% —PSA

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 3, 2020

The unemployment rate in October 2020 eases to 8.7%, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

From April 2020, with a 17.6% unemployment rate, the number of unemployed Filipinos continued to drop to 10% in July and 8.7% in October. This is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos, 15 years old and above, who are unemployed.

With several establishments reopening after strict lockdowns due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), several Filipinos were able to find jobs during the last quarter of the year.

Meanwhile, the underemployment rate also droppedd to 14.4% this October, compared to 17.3%t last July.

The PSA said the economy is gradually recovering as lockdowns continue to ease. -AAC

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