PAL could ‘change mind’ on retrenchment plan – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2020   •   2094

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Airlines (PAL) may still reconsider its plan to lay off 2,400 of its workers following losses brought about by the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Thursday.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III expressed his belief that improving prospects for the airline industry could prompt the airline company to no longer pursue its retrenchment plan.

Bello said the airline business may start to turn around with DOLE allowing more workers to return to their jobs abroad where health and safety conditions have improved.

“PAL may no longer pursue its plan to retrench workers if it sees signs of recovery at the horizon. The government is confident the airline industry can get back to its feet anytime now because we are already allowing more trips in and out of the country, especially the travels of our countrymen seeking employment overseas,” Bello said.

The Labor chief also dispelled fears of renewed massive displacement of workers over the plan of PAL to terminate more than 2,000 of its employees due to losses incurred amid the public health crisis.

“It is the prospect of better mobility and travel conditions that can make PAL change its mind about the fate of its workers. The good news is that things are improving in the country including the way we move from one place to another,” Bello explained.

PAL earlier announced it would be letting go of some of its workers as part of its recovery plan.

The continuing coronavirus pandemic has rendered millions of workers unemployed and closed many businesses across the globe.

QC gov’t bans public gatherings during fiestas, other community events

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines Public gatherings and other community celebrations will be prohibited in Quezon City, the local government announced.

In a memorandum dated Jan. 12, Mayor Joy Belmonte said the move aims to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in anticipation of upcoming fiestas, religious events, and cultural festivals traditionally held in many barangays in the city this month.

“Unless regulated, these celebrations could lead to mass gatherings and encourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Belmonte said.

“Isakripisyo muna natin ang mga nakaugalian tuwing may ganitong pagdiriwang para na rin sa ating kaligtasan,” she added.

In her order, Belmonte prohibited the conduct of processions, parades, Santacruzan and other crowd-drawing activities and events like fairs, perya, variety shows, fireworks displays, ati-atihan or other public performances.

Public games and contests, such as pageants, singing or band contests, bingo, pabitin, paluan ng palayok, agawan, or tug of war are also banned.

Public buffets and boodle fights, and public drinking, including drinking outdoors or on sidewalks, and group contact sports such as basketball are also not allowed.

“Persons may only drink at home or inside restaurants or establishments, subject to health protocols,” Belmonte said.

Also banned are group videoke or other celebratory gatherings that violate social distancing, noise pollution or other noise nuisances due to excessive merrymaking, comingling of multiple households through large parties or traditional “open door” fiesta celebrations; and any other non-essential or non-work gatherings.

On the other hand, modest celebrations conducted within the home, among immediate family or close acquaintances are allowed, subject to social distancing and other applicable health protocols.

Also, masses, other religious solemnities, religious or traditional rituals for the purpose of blessing a building or establishment may continue, subject to strict health protocols such the wearing of face mask, face shields and social distancing.

Celebrations conducted primarily for an online audience, with very limited physical attendance are also allowed.

As for the coming celebration of Chinese New Year, Belmonte said the conduct of Dragon Dance or Lion Dance activities shall be allowed provided that the same shall be held in a designated area only, like the stage of a mall, with the audience seated and socially distanced, with mask and face shield.

Violators may be penalized under Republic Act No. 11332 or the Notifiable Diseases Act, various city ordinances and other pertinent laws, the city government said.

The city’s law and order cluster, regulatory departments, barangays, and the Quezon City Police District are ordered to strictly enforce the memorandum, it added.

Philippines’ COVID-19 cases reach over 478K with 959 new infections – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country has reached a total of 478,761 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 959 additional infections on Monday.

“The Department of Health has noted a decrease in the number of cases reported today, at 959 new cases. This is due to a decrease in the number of patients seen in COVID-19 laboratories during the new year,” the DOH said in its note to media.

Of the total cases, 21,219 are active and undergoing treatment or quarantine.

Quezon City recorded the highest number of new infections with 73, followed by Davao City with 70, Rizal with 58, Agusan del Sur with 44, and Laguna with 41.

Total recoveries also increased to 448,279 after 26 more patients recovered from the viral respiratory disease.

The death toll also rose to 9,263 with six new fatalities.

The DOH reminded the public to be cautious in interpreting these numbers as an “increase in cases in the coming weeks is still possible.”

The department earlier said that the possible holiday-related surge of COVID-19 cases would be known by January 15.

“The DOH continues to assess the extent of the effects of the holiday season on COVID-19 transmission,” it said.

“The DOH asks all stakeholders to be vigilant in guarding against complacency in the fight against COVID-19,” it added.

Foreigners from countries with new COVID-19 variant cases won’t be allowed in flights to PH – PAL

Robie de Guzman   •   December 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Flag carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will temporarily stop flying foreigners from countries that are included in the Philippines’ expanded travel ban list which was issued to prevent the entry of a new coronavirus variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

In a travel advisory issued on December 29, PAL said it will only allow Filipino citizens to board its flights from Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Canada, South Korea, and Australia.

PAL said the policy will take effect from December 30, 2020 to January 15, 2021 in compliance with the Philippine government’s travel restrictions.

“For flights to the Philippines, we will be unable to accept foreign nationals who originated from, or were in transit via, or had visited the following countries within 14 days prior to their supposed arrival in the Philippines,” the company said.

These countries are Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Israel, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Canada, Spain, and United Kingdom.

Filipino citizens, who had visited any of the above countries are allowed to enter the Philippines but will be required to undergo a strict 14-day quarantine period at a designated quarantine facility.

However, passengers who are already in transit and arrive before December 30, 2020, 12:01AM, from the 20 countries / areas listed above, and/or who have been in these areas within 14 days prior to arrival, will be allowed entry but will be required to undergo an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, even if their mandatory RT-PCR test results are negative.

The latest travel restrictions are mandated by the presidential approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) resolution restricting travel into the Philippines from specified countries, as a protection measure against the new variant of the SARS-COV 2 Virus.

PAL earlier announced the cancellation of flights to and from London until end-February 2021 in view of the tier 4 lockdown of the UK government.

Affected passengers may rebook on the next available flights after the restriction period, with rebooking service fees waived.

“They may also refund the cost of their ticket with refunding service fees waived. A third available option is the conversion of the PAL ticket into a travel voucher for future use,” PAL said.

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