Plastic barriers to return as gov’t allows operation of motorcycle taxis

Marje Pelayo   •   November 9, 2020   •   381

MANILA, Philippines — The National Task Force has issued guidelines for the return of motorcycle taxis.

Apart from the implementation of minimum health standards like the wearing of facemask and sanitation routine, riders are required to utilize plastic barriers with design approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Borrowing of helmets is not allowed and only cashless transactions are encouraged.

Riders should also have regular testing to make sure they are negative from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

“Napaka importante nitong motorcycle taxi guidelines dahil hindi lang supply ng transportation ang ibibigay natin (This motorcycle taxi guidelines are very important because we are not merely providing supply of additional transportation),” Secretary Vince Dizon, the Depauty Chief Implementer of the NTF, said.

“Kailangan masiguro natin na safe at hindi nako-kompromiso ang ating standards at guidelines sa pagpigil ng transmission ng COVID-19 (We must make sure that it is safe and it will not compromise our standards towards curbing the COVID-19 transmission),” he added.

In line with this, the technical working group will meet with the representatives of Angkas, Joyride, and Move It to discuss the guidelines and to set the official date for the motorcycle taxis’ return to operation.

The motorcycle taxi groups said they are willing to abide by the guidelines though they expressed concern over how passengers will adjust to the new system.

“Ito po ay hindi pa po sanay ang mga tao (People are still not used to this) so this is something we need to push for our awareness campaign,” explained George Royeca, Angkas’ Chief Transport Advocate.

The extended pilot test run for the motorcycle taxis will be for three to six months.

To date, there is no legislation yet that will make their operation legal. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Vaccine czar apologizes for COVID-19 vaccine delay; mulls procuring additional doses from India

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Task Force (NTF) Against Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has apologized to Metro Manila mayors for the delay in the delivery of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said there is a difficulty in the global supply and demand of COVID-19 vaccines.

Hindi lang tayo ang nahihirapan kundi pati na rin ang ibang bansa. Very uneven ang distribution ng vaccines globally. 75% ng nababakunahan ngayon ay doon lang sa 10 leading countries (We are not the only ones facing difficulty but other countries as well. The distribution of vaccines globally is very uneven. Around 75% of those being vaccinated are only from 10 leading countries), he said.

Pasensya na po na hindi talaga natin hawak and supply chain ng mga vaccine (We are sorry as we do not hold the supply chain of vaccines), he added.

Amid the delay in the delivery, Galvez said the NTF is looking into going to India for an additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are trying our best. Maybe one of these days baka pumunta rin kami ng India (we might also go to India) because 2-3 billion doses will be produced by Serum Institute of India,” according to Galvez.

The vaccine czar also assures that the national government is doing its best to provide safe and sufficient vaccines for Filipinos. -AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Magalong resigns as Contact Tracing Czar but NTF says ‘no’

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong submitted his resignation as the country’s Contact Tracing Czar after his attendance in a party organized by entertainment personality Tim Yap drew flak for violating some health safety protocols.

Among those seen to have violated the government health restrictions was Magalong’s wife.

In his resignation letter addressed to NTF Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Magalong admitted to having failed the government for not immediately acting on the violations on the night of the event.

“In hindsight, being a senior officer of the Task Force, I should have done an immediate spot correction of the errors that I witnessed during that time,” he explained.

With this, the Mayor accepted the blame and said he is willing to support should the NTF or the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) conduct an investigation on the incident.

“It pains me to see my family, and my constituents, in anguish over this but I am committed to hold myself accountable and do what is necessary to rectify this misstep.” Magalong said.

His colleagues in the NTF were saddened by Magalong’s sudden decision.

According to Galvez, Magalong’s exit will hugely impact the operations of the NTF.

“Malaking kawalan po sa amin iyon kasi po, 4 po ang haligi po ng ating PDITR, at isa po talaga ang contact tracing lalo na po ngayon sa mga adverse event,” Galvez explained.

“Kaliangan po ang syndromic surveillance at contact tracing and we can vouch for his honor and integrity,” he added.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the Task Force is not accepting Magalong’s resignation. 

“Mayor Magalong’s resignation, however, has not been accepted. He continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the leadership of the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19,” he said.

For the part of the Department of Health (DOH), Magalong should remain in his position.

“He has helped the contact tracing efforts of the country a lot. Actually yung ating pakikipagtulungan kay Mayor Magalong is on that level na pagka kailangan talaga is tumatawag tayo sa kanya kasi he can really assist us,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“We know that the President has that trust and the DOH also trusts Mayor Magalong and we also believe that he should remain in that position,” she added.

The NTF appeals to the public for understanding to give Magalong another chance given his contribution to the country’s COVID-19 response. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

NTF Covid-19 to assist RITM in reaching 10,000 tests per day

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 8, 2020

The National Task Force (NTF) against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) said it will assist the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to reach its target of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day.

NTF against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez Jr. said he met with the officials of the RITM to assess their needs in fighting the virus.

“Focus on testing and we’ll take care of the logistics. We will help you fulfill your requirements. Tell us what you need and we will help you,” Galvez said.

The RITM aims to process 10,000 tests per day for three months. The agency also aims to distribute 900,000 test kits to accredited testing facilities nationwide.

“The RITM is very important. With our strategy to detect, isolate and treat [the disease]. You are an important part of the sequence. If we can provide a good strategy to the people, then we’re good. You are part of the systemic core,” Galvez said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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