Metro Manila residents enjoy change in environment, lifestyle under ECQ

Maris Federez   •   March 25, 2020   •   1964

MANILA, Philippines — Residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) have noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the air in the metropolis.

The smoke being emitted by factories and transport vehicles and the traffic congestion that have become the norm in the lives of Metro Manila residents have lessened since the Luzon region was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The said measure was instituted to address the threats of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that continues to spread in Metro Manila and several parts of Luzon.

The ECQ has also changed the lifestyle of Metro Manila residents, as some have learned the benefits of walking to their destinations and buying only the essential things for themselves and their families.

The suspension of all types of public transportation has paved the way for the air to clear and for the traffic to decongest.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the air quality or particulate matter 10 has significantly changed.

“Ngayon kung titingnan natin nag a-average tayo from good to fair so napakaganda, nakapakaganda nung air quality natin ngayon,” said DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

PM10 or the “inhalable particles”, are particles equal to or smaller than 10 microns (PM10) that can reach the throat and the lungs.

A UNTV Drone shot presented a smog-free skyline of Manila and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig as compared to the previous pollution that was once visible in the said places.

The environment department believes that the suspension of public transportation and the reduced number of private vehicles traveling have done the environment a big favor.

“Visually kita natin talagang ang laki mula sa umaga wala yung smog na nakikita natin na akala mo pa ay ma-fog yung buong NCR pero yun pala ay polusyon yun,” Antiporda added.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has also observed that crime and accidents have considerably decreased in Metro Manila and in Region 3 after the enhanced community quarantine was implemented in the entire Luzon.

According to PNP spokesperson, PBGen. Bernard Banac, the crime rate in Luzon had gone down by 80 percent.

“In fact bumaba po ng almost eighty percent ang crime rate hindi lamang dito sa kalakhang Maynila maging sa region at iba pang dako ng Luzon,” Banac said.

Banac added that the latest PNP record shows that road accidents since the ECQ was put in place until March 24 totaled to only 81, a considerably low number compared to the average 50 per day on ordinary days. — (with details from Dante Amento) /mbmf

FDA confirms Sinovac submitted application for independent clinical trial

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 22, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed Sinovac, a China-based biopharmaceutical company, had submitted its application to conduct independent clinical trials in the country.

FDA Director-General Usec. Eric Domingo, however, said Sinovac has yet to submit other documents for the agency to process its application.

“That is undergoing regulatory evaluation, ganoon din iyong Ethics Board Evaluation niya—tuloy-tuloy po iyon (this also includes its Ethics Board Evaluation, it is ongoing), he said.

Department of Health (DOH) Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said vaccine experts panel also approved Sinovac in their preliminary review.

Kapag na complete na iyong requirements at nabigyan na sila ng approval then maari na pong mag umpisa (Once the requirements are complete and they received an approval, clinical trials can begin), she said.

Sinovac is among the three vaccine manufacturers that submitted their application to vaccine experts. -AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Tourist departures remain low despite lifting of travel restrictions – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The number of departing Filipino tourists has yet to pick up despite the easing of departure restrictions and allowing non-essential outbound travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday.

The BI said only 95 out of a total of 1,172 Filipinos departed the country under a tourist visa as of Wednesday, slightly higher than the 64 who left the same day last week when only essential travel was allowed.

“It could mean that Filipinos still feel hesitant to travel internationally during the pandemic,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

Morente, however, expects the number to increase during the holiday season.

The BI chief also stressed that arrival restrictions remain in place.

“We are monitoring any policy change set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Tas Force) and the Office of the President, and we are ready to implement these as they may deem fit,” he said.

The IATF earlier said non-essential outbound travel of Filipinos will be allowed starting Oct. 21 following certain requirements.

These requirements include the submission of confirmed roundtrip tickets, and adequate travel and health insurance. Departing tourists should also execute a declaration acknowledging risks involved in traveling and must present negative antigen test result taken within 24 hours before their departure.

Currently, only Filipinos, their spouse and minor children are allowed to enter the country holding tourist visas. Restrictions likewise allow foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, foreign parent of minor Filipinos, and foreign parent of Filipino children with special needs to enter the country.

Those who are eligible to enter are required to secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates, prior to their arrival.

Apart from said categories, accredited foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents, foreign airline crewmembers, foreign seafarers with 9(c) visas, and foreigners with long-term visas are also allowed.

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Police nab 1 of 13 Caloocan jail escapees

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 22, 2020

Police authorities caught one of the 13 detainees that escaped from Caloocan Custodial Facility Unit Extension on Thursday (October 22).

The detainee, identified as Aries Dunacao, was caught in his home Thursday morning.

Caloocan Chief of Police PCol. Dario Menor said they still continue their manhunt operation for the other 12 whose crimes involve illegal drugs, illegal possession of firearms, and robbery.

Menor said the 13 detainees were under quarantine for 51 days and were supposed to get transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Facility which might have pushed them to escape.

Alam kasi nila na ililipat sila sa BJMP, kasi natapos na po sila ng quarantine ng 51 days, mayroon kasi kami na ginawa na rapid test noon (They know they will be transferred to the BJMP because their 51-day quarantine has been finished. We conducted a rapid test there),” he said.

Based on the rapid test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), two of the 13 escaped detainees are positive for COVID-19, however they tested negative on the confirmatory or swab test.

Meanwhile, two police officers assigned to the Caloocan custodial facility were removed from their posts.

“They will be facing an investigation. In fact, we are now conducting the investigation,” according to Menor. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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