PH lifts COVID-19-related travel ban on Taiwan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 14, 2020   •   694

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has lifted the travel restrictions it imposed on Taiwan due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Malacañang announced Friday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has resolved to lift the travel restrictions imposed upon Taiwan because of strict measures being undertaken by the Taiwanese government to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Panelo said the lifting of the ban is effective immediately.

“Accordingly, travel may now be made by any national to Taiwan from the Philippines and vice versa,” he said.

The Philippines this week included Taiwan in its travel restrictions initially imposed on China and its special administrative regions affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

A Philippine health official explained that Taiwan was included in the ban as the World Health Organization recognizes it as a part of China.

Malacañang later on said the temporary ban was imposed for the safety of the Filipino people and not due to politics.

The travel restriction was criticized by Taiwan, stressing that it had only 18 cases of the virus compared to some 60,000 in China.

Taiwan threatened to implement countermeasures against the Philippines, including scrapping visa-free privileges for Filipinos if it keeps the entry ban.

Several Filipinos currently working and those en route to Taiwan also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the ban, expressing fears of losing their jobs.

Panelo also said the task force would also evaluate on whether to lift the ban on other Chinese jurisdictions given preventive protocols implemented against the deadly virus.

“The Office of the President likewise stresses that any resolution relative to travel restrictions in connection with the COVID-19 shall be subjected to regular review by the IATF,” he said.

BRP Gabriela to deliver medical supplies to regional hospitals

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 7, 2020

The largest ship of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the BRP Gabriela Silang will be used to deliver medical supplies to regional hospitals amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

BRP Gabriela Silang arrived on Tuesday (April 7) and is currently docked at Manila Bay. It came from the Middle East to repatriate overseas Filipinos during the heightened tension between the United States and Iran.

The PCG also added that the said vessel can also transport frontline health workers across the country.

Meanwhile, one of the two ships of a logistics company that will be used as a quarantine vessel for repatriated seafarers arrived at Port of Manila.

The Department of Health (DOH), Bureau of Quarantine, and other involved government agencies have already inspected the said ship which is set to be operational next week.

An estimated 400 seafarers are set to return to the Philippines and will have to undergo the 14-day quarantine.

The private shipping company voluntarily lent two of their ships which can accommodate up to 1,500 patients. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Hazard pay for garbage collectors urged amid COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – While everyone is advised to wash hands regularly, perhaps it’s a difficult case for garbage collectors.

Like healthcare workers, household and medical waste collectors are among the frontliners whose job is essential especially during this time when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is in effect due to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This prompted the environmental group EcoWaste Coalition to appeal to the national government to provide garbage collectors the hazard pay they deserve for being exposed to COVID-19 as they are handling potentially dangerous or infectious waste.

EcoWaste Coalition President Eileen Sison, in a letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte, argued that “the lack of clear-cut regulations for the disposal of waste from households and the increase of infectious waste from healthcare facilities justify the provision of hazard pay for garbage collectors.”

“We believe that garbage collectors are entitled to hazard pay—regardless of their employment status—due to the risk they face in the performance of essential waste management services, which can be considered hazardous, especially under the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak,” Sison said arguing that garbage collectors also deserve cash compensation like all frontliners from the medical field.

“Without their indispensable service, we may be faced with even more environmental and health hazards from uncollected waste,” she added.

In March, President Duterte signed Administrative Order 26 authorizing the grant of hazard pay to government personnel who physically report for work during the period of implementation of an enhanced community quarantine relative to the COVID-19 outbreak

But the EcoWaste Coalition said the same privilege may not apply to most garbage collectors as they are hired only by waste management agencies that are usually contracted by local government units (LGUs).

Thus, it urged the concerned government agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Budget Management (DBM) “to use moral suasion to strongly encourage employers of garbage collectors” to grant them daily hazard pay even at least during the community quarantine period.

The group appealed to the national government “to take on such responsibility with urgency as a humanitarian gesture in these most trying times” in case some waste management companies and LGUs will be financially constrained to provide the hazard pay.

On Tuesday (April 7), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) confirmed that President Duterte approved the extension of the ECQ for two more weeks or until the end of the month, as COVID-19 cases in the country rapidly increased.

IBP offers free legal aid amid COVID-19 community quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has offered to provide free online legal assistance to the public amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post on Monday, the national organization of lawyers said it will give free legal advice to those who have concerns related to the enforcement of the community quarantine.

“Kabilang nito ang mga katanungan na may kinalaman sa pag-aresto kaugnay ng curfew, diskirminasyon sa mga health workers, at iba pa,” the IBP said.

The agency said questions and messages may be sent to its official Facebook page at 𝗳b.𝗰𝗼𝗺/𝗜𝗕𝗣𝗡𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗟𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗔𝗶𝗱 or via email at 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗱@𝗶𝗯𝗽.𝗽h or via text 𝟬𝟵𝟬𝟲𝟬𝟳𝟵𝟵𝟮𝟮𝟲 (Atty. Eric C. Alajar).

The IBP earlier called out undue discrimination against medical personnel and other workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight, as well as individuals who showed symptoms and tested positive for the virus.

It urged the public not to succumb to fear that diminishes humanity, and to show support for the victims and frontliners amid the public health crisis.

“Precautionary measures are understandable and desirable but they should remain reasonable and within the bounds of law,” IBP National President Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa said in a separate statement.

The Magna Carta of Patient’s Rights and Obligations, Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, and other laws or regulations remain effective and must temper and guide the actions and initiatives of everyone,” he added.

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