Metro Manila may shift to MGCQ by November, MMC Chairman says

Marje Pelayo   •   October 1, 2020   •   322

MANILA, Philippines — The National Capital Region (NCR) might shift to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status by the month of November.

This is what Parañaque City mayor and Metro Manila Council chairman Edwin Olivarez said at a press briefing on Wednesday (September 30).

This is on the condition that the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Metro Manila continues to decrease.

The official also mentioned that the council is considering easing the existing curfew in the NCR.

Olivarez added that the Council is set to discuss the preparation of measures to be taken in reopening Metro Manila’s economy amid the pandemic.

Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu top priority in COVID-19 vaccine deployment – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu will be prioritized in the distribution of the vaccine once it becomes available, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez said this is part of the government’s strategy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass immunization in adherence to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the poor and government frontliners in the vaccination.

During a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in Davao City on Monday, Galvez said they will employ two strategies in the distribution of the vaccine – geographical and sectoral.

Once the infected areas have been selected, vaccines will then be distributed to the target beneficiaries.

The vaccine czar expressed confidence that this strategies will help the country contain the spread of the virus and recover from economic losses due to the pandemic.

“And then from geographical magiging sectoral. Meaning, kung sino ‘yung priority natin ‘no, for example sa Manila, ‘yung urban poor uunahin po natin ‘yon; ‘yung mga vulnerable uunahin po natin doon; ‘yung mga sundalong naka-assign sa NCR uunahin po natin at saka po ‘yung mga essential workers,” Galvez said.

“Iyon po mayroon pong impact ‘yon kaagad sa ating economy at may impact kaagad na ma-contain po kaagad. So ang strategy po natin, Mr. President, po is geographical, priority ang NCR, priority ang Davao dahil ang Davao po ngayon umaakyat din, priority ‘yung Cebu, priority po ‘yung mga Bacolod, ‘yung mga tinamaan po ng mabibigat ng COVID,” he added.

Immunizing areas with high number of COVID-19 infections will help the government in its assessment on the efficacy of the vaccines, according to Galvez.

So far, several vaccine developers are set to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines. These include Sinovac, Hansen, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, and CanSino.

Duterte earlier allowed the release of advance payment to companies developing potential COVID-19 vaccine to secure the country’s supply as recommended by Galvez.

With the president’s approval, the vaccine czar said the government can now proceed with Advance Market Commitment and start negotiating with big pharmaceutical companies such as China’s Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

He added that the government can secure advance commitment with Astra Zeneca for 20 million doses this month.

Galvez earlier projected that the vaccine supply can be made available by the second quarter of 2021 once an agreement has been signed.

The Philippine government previously said it is looking at multilateral financing institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to finance vaccine procurements.

Local banks such as the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines are also possible sources of funds.

DPWH P351-B flood control projects seen to save Metro Manila from severe flooding

Marje Pelayo   •   November 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Before Super Typhoon Rolly, there was Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 that unleashed its wrath on Metro Manila.

Most parts of Metro Manila were submerged in flood water which took weeks to subside.

To prevent a repeat of such a catastrophe, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has lined up and commenced 11 mega projects funded with up to P351- billion.

Included in the DPWH’s masterplan are the following sub-projects:

  • Pasig-Marikina River Improvement and Dam Construction (P198.435-B)
  • Meycauayan River Improvement (P14.040-B)
  • Malabon-Tullahan River Improvement (P21.635-B)
  • South Parañaque-Las Piña River Improvement (P335-B)
  • East Mangahan Floodway (P25.901-B)
  • West Laguna Lakeshore Land Raising (P185-B)
  • Land Raising for Small Cities around Laguna Lakeshore (P7.158-B)
  • Improvement of the Inflow River to Laguna Lake (P0.637-B)
  • Manila Core Area Drainage Improvement, Phase 1 (P27.257-B)
  • West Mangahan Area Drainage Improvement (P5.522-B)
  • Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan (VOM) improvement (P8.613-B)

The masterplan prioritizes improvements in the Pasig-Marikina River system where dikes have been elevated and expanded to protect residents from flooding and flashfloods.

“Ang naging barometer natin, ay si (Bagyong) Ondoy. Kaya sinasabi nila sa Marikina: ‘Bakit ang tataas yata ng mga ginagawang dike?’ Of course! Because that was the level of Ondoy in 2009 [Our barometer is Typhoon Ondoy. Many are questioning the height of that dike in Marikina. Of course, because that was that level of flood water during Ondoy in 2009],” explained DPWH Flood Control Management Cluster OIC Engr. Jerry Fano.

Meanwhile, a dam will be constructed in Montalban area to control the flow of water that comes from Marikina and Pasig River.

Part of the project includes improvements in the river system of Meycauyan; Malabon-Tullahan; South Parañaque-Las Piñas and the East Mangahan Floodway, as well as the improvements in Laguna Lake and adjoining rivers.

The agency also plans to contruct a 1.3 kilometer spill way or tunnel in Parañaque to facilitate water flow from Laguna Lake to Manila Bay.

At present, about 36 pumping stations are undergoing rehabilitation across Metro Manila while the agency is also planning to construct additional 20 to strengthen the capital’s flood control system.

Also, the DPWH is looking at reorganizing the region’s waste disposal and collection system to spare creeks and waterways from getting clogged with garbage which could cause massive flooding.

“Kailangan natin ng mga pumping stations sa mga ilog to pump-out yung tubig papunta sa mga seas, rivers and iyong mga pinaka waterway natin which is Pasig-Marikina River [We need pumping stations in rivers to pump out water to the sea ,river, and our waterway is the Pasig-Marikina River],” Fano said.

The official, however, noted that one big challenge to these projects is the presence of informal settlers in concerned areas. They need to be relocated first so all the works can run smoothly. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Mas maluwag na general community quarantine, umiiral sa Metro Manila —Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Mas marami na ang maaaring lumabas ng bahay ngayon at pinalawig pa ang kapasidad ng pampublikong transportasyon sa kabila na nananatili ang banta ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Hinihikayat na rin ng pamahalaan ang pagsasagawa ng business activities upang maka-engganyo ng mas maraming customers bukod pa sa mas maraming negosyo ang pinahihintulutan nang magbukas.

“Tama po kayo, mas maluwag na general community quarantine ang pinaiiral ngayon sa Metro Manila,” sagot ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque sa mga mamahayag nitong Lunes (October 19).

Ang pagluwag ng quarantine restrictions ay upang makabawi ang ekonomiya sa bansa mula sa epekto ng pandemya.

Samantala, ayon sa kalihim, may mga sang-ayon sa mungkahi ng Metro Manila Mayors na palawigin na ang general community quarantine (GCQ) sa National Capital Region (NCR) hanggang buwan ng Disyembre.

Subalit, naka-depende pa rin ito sa desisyon ng policy-making body ng gobyerno laban sa COVID-19.

“Iyan po ang parang nabubuong concensus, pero siyempre po hindi ko po pwedeng pangunahan because it is a collegial decision,” pahayag ng opisyal.

“Pero ang nangyayari po kasi ngayon, bagaman naka-GCQ ang Metro Manila, nagkakaroon po tayo ng mas malawak na pagbubukas ng mga industriya,” dagdag nito.

Inaasahang bago magpalit ng buwan, isasapubliko ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang panibagong quarantine classification sa NCR para sa Nobyembre.

Giit ng opisyal, posible ang anumang quarantine classification sa NCR subalit mananatiling iisa ang posisyon ng pamahalaan – ang pahintulutang makapag-hanapbuhay na ang mga mamamayan habang ipinatutupad pa rin ang minimum health standards. MNP (sa ulat ni Rosalie Coz)

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