No parties for PNP, AFP in areas under GCQ

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 21, 2020   •   259

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will not be holding office parties during the holiday season in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

PNP Chief PGen. Camilo Cascolan said the guidelines provided by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) states that mass gathering is prohibited in areas under GCQ.

Cascolan also said rather than spending for parties for the holiday season, said the money will be allotted to the government’s COVID-19 fund.

The funds can also be used for the agency’s food bank.

“No Christmas party for the Philippine National Police, they will understand that, instead of using the funds for the Christmas party. We will giving it out for COVID-19 patients or maybe for the COVID fund,” he said.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, in a statement, also said Metro Manila mayors also agreed to the protocol.

“Under GCQ bawal pa ang parties. Ang ating NCR nagkasundo ang mga Metro Mayors na GCQ muna tayo (Under GCQ, parties are prohibited. Our Metro Manila mayors agreed we are still under GCQ),” Año said.

Cascolan also reminded PNP ground commanders to increase police visibility especially in crowded places especially during the holidays.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has also announced that all its units will not be holding holiday parties this year.

In a statement released Tuesday, the AFP said the amount that would have been spent for the said Yuletide revelries will be merged with the mass of funds to address COVID-19 requirements of their personnel.

“Defer Christmas parties and similar celebrations as an austerity measure and as a gesture of sensitivity to our countrymen. Fellow Filipinos here and abroad have been suffering. And this is the least we can do to commiserate with the people we have sworn to secure and serve especially in this time of crisis”, AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay.

The statement added that the ban on all festivities during the holidays also conforms with the health protocols that proscribes mass gatherings which the AFP strictly enforces and observes. -AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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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