Philippines, ADB sign $200-M loan deal to augment gov’t cash aid to poor families

Robie de Guzman   •   April 30, 2020   •   367

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Thursday said the Philippines and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $200-million loan agreement to augment the funding for the government’s cash assistance program to poor and vulnerable households greatly affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird signed the loan deal on Tuesday, April 28, the DOF said.

This is the second additional financing provided by the ADB under the Social Protection Support Project (SPSP), which supports the Government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“We thank the ADB for its swift and continuing support for the Duterte administration’s efforts to blunt the impact of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak on our people and the economy,” Dominguez said in a statement.

“This SPSP loan will help the government achieve the No. 1 priority set by President Duterte in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is to save lives and extend a lifeline to millions of poor and low-income Filipinos who lost their incomes and livelihoods following the pandemic-driven work stoppage,” he added.

The SPSP aims to provide cash grants to beneficiary-families under the 4Ps covered by the emergency subsidies under Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.

This budget-support loan will help bridge the immediate financing requirements of the government’s response to this coronavirus crisis through the distribution via cash cards of cash grants to beneficiaries of the 4Ps.

For his part, ADB Vice President Ahmed Saeed commended the Philippine government for rolling out the emergency subsidy program aimed at helping poor and vulnerable Filipinos get through this health and economic crisis, as the pandemic curve is flattened.

“This $200 million loan to assist the government in financing COVID-19 cash grants to poor households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will help achieve this purpose,” he said.

The loan for the project, which carries a maturity period of 29 years inclusive of an 8-year grace period, is expected to be disbursed by June this year.

Last April 24, the ADB and the Philippines signed a loan agreement that would let the Duterte administration access up to $1.5 billion in budgetary support from the Manila-headquartered lender to augment funds for its stepped-up efforts to contain the global health crisis.

This loan for the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program is the largest budget support ever extended to the Philippines by the ADB, according to President Masatsugu Asakawa.

The CARES program loan is under the ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility Pandemic Response Option, which is a quick-disbursing budget-support facility to aid countries like the Philippines in mitigating the severe economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and bankrolling measures to prevent the further spread of this highly contagious virus.

President Asakawa said ADB’s financing for the CARES program loan “is part of a well-sequenced support package that will provide financial and technical advice to help the [Philippines] meet the challenges posed by a crisis that is wreaking havoc both globally and nationally.”

The ADB president has commended the Philippine government for “its strong leadership and decisive actions to halt the spread of COVID-19 and quickly implementing financial assistance packages to families and small businesses to address the economic downturn.”

The ADB was among the first multilateral development institutions to provide assistance to the Philippines’ COVID response efforts with its delivery of a $3-million grant for the government’s purchase of medical supplies for its frontline health workers.

ALAMIN: Health protocols para sa barbershops at salons na magbubukas simula June 7

Robie de Guzman   •   May 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Papayagan na ng pamahalaan ang muling pagbubukas ng mga salon at barbershops sa mga lugar na nasa general community quarantine (GCQ) simula sa June 7.

Sa bisa ng Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 Resolution No. 41, 30% capacity ng mga salon at barbershop ang papayagang mag-operate at madagdagan ito ng hanggang 50% pagkatapos pa ng dalawang linggo.

Ang mga salon at barbershop naman sa mga lugar na nasa modified general community quarantine, 50% na ng kabuuang operational capacity ang pinapayagan at magiging 100% ito pagkatapos pa ng tatlong linggo.

Ngunit paglilinaw ng Malacañang, limitado lamang sa paggugupit ang operasyon ng mga barberya at salon at bawal pang ialok ang ibang serbisyo.

“Wala pa ring facial, wala pa rin sa kuko, wala pa ring pagtatanggal ng mga eyebrows hanggang gupit lang tayo,” ang sabi ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Bilang gabay naman sa mga magbubukas na barberya at salon, inilabas ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ang sumusunod na panuntunan para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng novel coronavirus disease:

  • Istriktong pagsusuot ng face mask at pagpapatupad ng social distancing measures.
  • Kailangang maglaan ng 10 minutong interval sa bawat customer para bigyang-daan ang paglilinis o sanitation ng mga ginamit na kasangkapan at pasilidad.
  • Pinagagamit rin ang barbershops at salon ng alternatibong paraan ng appointment gaya ng online at text messaging upang maiwasan ang walk-in.
  • Kailangan ding may nakalagay na mga marker sa loob ng shop na indikasyon kung saan lang maaaring pumuwesto ang mga customer.
  • Hindi rin hinihikayat ang pagdadala ng kasama liban na lamang kung kinakailangan.
  • Dapat nakasuot ang mga tauhan ng shop ng personal protective equipment gaya ng face mask, face shield, salamin sa mata, gloves at hair caps.
  • Kailangang naka-sapatos at laging maghuhugas ng kamay ang mga empleyado.
  • Ipinagbabawal ang pagkakaroon ng physical contact sa pagbabayad, at sa halip ay gagamit ng maliit na tray sa pagtanggap ng pera.

Bago pumasok sa shop ang customer, narito ang mga dapat gawin:

  • Dumaan sa foot bath o floor mat na may disinfectant.
  • Kailangan kunan ng temperatura at lagyan ng alcohol ang mga kamay ng customer.
  • Sagutan ng kliyente ang health checklis na ibibigay ng shop.
  • Ang mga dalang gamit ng mga kliyente ay dapat i-disinfect at ilagay sa sanitary plastic bags.

Pinaalalahanan rin ang mga customer na bawal magsuot ng alahas gaya ng singsing, bracelets, relo at hikaw.

Ayon sa DTI, dapat naka-paskil sa loob ng shop ang mga guidelines na ito.

“It’s for the safety of their workers, ‘yung mga nagtatrabaho doon sa salon at yung mga customers nila itong ginagawa natin protocol,” ani DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo.

Ayon sa DTI, mahigit sa 400-libong manggagawa ang matutulungan sa pagbubukas ng nasa 45-libong malalaki at maliliit na barbership at salon.

Paalala naman ng ahensiya, maaaring muling ipasara ang mga nasabing establisimyento kung lalabag sa mga inilatag na health at safety protocols. – RRD (mula sa ulat nina Correspondent Rosalie Coz at Rey Pelayo)

Belmonte, nanindigan sa ipinaiiral na ‘no fitting’ at ‘no return, no exchange’ policy sa malls sa Quezon City

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Nanindigan si Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte sa mga polisiyang ipinatutupad sa ilang mall sa lungsod kasunod ng pagbubukas ng limitadong operasyon ng mga ito sa gitna ng community quarantine.

Kabilang sa mga polisiyang ito ang pagbabawal sa pagsusukat ng mga damit at ang ‘no return, no exchange policy’ o pagsasauli o pagpapapalit ng biniling produkto.

Ayon kay Belmonte, ang mga panuntunang ipinatutupad sa mga shopping mall sa lungsod ay bahagi ng precautionary measure laban sa novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Giit ng alkalde, malaki ang tiyansa na makahawa sa iba kung infected ng virus ang nagsukat ng damit.

“Initiative ng city government ito, kasi alam naman natin na ang clothes store ay bukas na at alam din natin na pwedeng matransmit ang virus sa pamamagitan ng damit and the city government ay nagkusa na no trying of clothes, walang pagsusukat,” ani Belmonte.

Aniya, batid niyang maraming magagalit sa kanyang patakaran ngunit humihingi siya ng pang-unawa sa publiko dahil para din naman ito sa kapakanan ng mga residente sa lungsod.

“Sa tingin ko, dapat maunawaan nila na this is for their own health and welfare and syempre, kung bumili ka na, ang understanding dyan nasukat mo na hindi mo na sana pwedeng ibalik yun, gusto nating protektahan ang kalusugan ng ating mamamayan,” ani Belmonte.

Ang pahayag ay ginawa ng alkalde matapos punahin ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ang mga nasabing polisiya sa ilang mall sa Quezon City.

Una nang sinabi ng DTI na labag sa batas ang ‘no return, no exchange’ policy dahil sa ilalim ng Republic Act 7394 o Consumer Act of the Philippines, may karapatan ang mga mamimili na isauli ang nabiling produkto lalo na kung ito ay depektibo.

Payo ng ahensiya, magpulong ang mga lokal na pamahalaan, mall operators at ang Department of the Interior and Local Government upang ayusin ang nasabing panuntunan.

Iminungkahi rin ng DTI ang pagkakaroon ng uniformed protocols na ipatutupad sa mga mall upang maiwasan ang kalituhan sa publiko. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

No tuition hike for several private colleges, universities—CHED

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 29, 2020

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said several private colleges and universities have assured that they will not implement a tuition fee increase this school year.

CHED Chairperson Prospero de Vera said universities like the University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle University already announced that they would not be increasing their tuition.

“Iyang mga universities na malalaki, kayang kaya nila itong financial situation (Those big universities, they can handle this financial situation) because their sources of income are varied. They have other businesses,” he said.

CHED also assured they already have a mandate on the implementation of staggered payment on tuition fees.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (May 28) has appealed to private school institutions to allow staggered payments. He also announced that parents, who cannot afford to pay their child’s education fees, can request for a loan.

“Itong Land Bank, bubuksan namin (We will open Land Bank) and you can borrow money to finance the education of your children,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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