Poe wants gov’t to hire safety-compliant PUVs to shuttle workers amid GCQ

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2020   •   200

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday urged the government to hire traditional public utility jeepneys that are compliant to safety protocols to augment the number of public utility vehicles (PUV) that will shuttle commuters to work amid the general community quarantine (GCQ).

In a statement, Poe said the government should all the more provide transportation options to the public given the limited capacities of PUVs to observe physical distancing measures.

Thousands of commuters have been struggling to get to their workplaces since the first day of GCQ in Metro Manila as authorities maintained that the resumption of mass transportation should be gradual.

“Malinaw na walang masakyan ang maraming pasaherong bukod sa nagtitiis sa kakahintay sa mahabang pila ay hindi rin siguradong makakarating sa kanilang pupuntahan,” she said.

During deliberations on the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill on Tuesday, Poe suggested that an amount be set aside for hiring of the additional shuttles, and that clear guidelines should be in place for the resumption of public jeepney operations.

The senator noted that since the start of the GCQ, only 90 buses are plying along EDSA as against the 3,500 buses running pre-quarantine.

With only 25 passengers per trip per unit, only about 20,000 passengers can be accommodated instead of the 250,000 before the lockdown.

“A line on the Department of Transportation spending should state that it will prioritize hiring of additional shuttles during our transition process into an eased quarantine,” Poe said.

She also proposed that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) maintains the status quo or ‘no phase out’ of old PUVs to prevent mass displacement.

At the same time, Poe asked the agency to directly subsidize drivers and buses and jeepneys that will be allowed operate during the transition period.

“This will enable PUV drivers to comply with social distancing measures without sacrificing financial viability,” she said.

Poe also asked for the prompt release of promised subsidies to PUV drivers and operators, who were left without income during the lockdown.

The senator also pushed for the inclusion of the department’s mandate to guarantee a masterlist of qualified transport service workers to implement the wage subsidies and cash-for-work program, and coordinate the accelerated distribution of the first and second rounds of subsidy under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Poe likewise pitched to negotiate the restructuring of existing loans and the provision of credit lines and interest-free loans of critically-impacted transport service providers, and facilitate the contracting of PUVs and other forms of emergency livelihood arrangements.

IATF expands services in salons, barbershops amid COVID-19 pandemic

Maris Federez   •   July 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 has expanded the services allowed in salons and barbershops in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Aside from haircut services, hair treatments are now allowed in salons under the GCQ areas; while nail care, basic facial care services, and basic personal care services will be allowed in areas under MGCQ.

Nevertheless, minimum public health standards will be strictly implemented in both GCQ and MGCQ areas, such as strict protocol on hand sanitation, face mask and face shields, gloves, and sterilized equipment.

The operating capacity in salons and barbershops will also be expanded to 50 percent in GCQ areas and 75 percent in MGCQ areas starting July 16, 2020. —(with details from Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Religious gatherings up to 10% of venue capacity to be allowed in GCQ areas after July 10 – IATF

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Friday announced that religious gatherings involving attendees of up to 10% of the venue capacity will soon be allowed in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this is based on the latest resolution approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases following calls for the partial reopening of places of worship.

Roque said the new policy will take effect next Friday, July 10.

“Magkakaroon muna po tayo ng dry run na 10% itong darating na linggo, pero yung 10% po na allowed na ang lahat ay magsisimula po ng July 10,” he said in a televised press briefing.

The Palace official stressed that public health standards such as physical distancing, wearing of face mask, disinfection and hand hygiene, should be strictly followed.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier announced that the following areas will be under GCQ from July 1 to July 15:

  • National Capital Region
  • Cavite
  • Benguet
  • Rizal
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Talisay City
  • Towns of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu Province
  • Leyte
  • Ormoc
  • Southern Leyte

Roque also announced that operation of travel agencies in GCQ areas will also be allowed but only limited to a skeleton workforce.

The Department of Trade and Industry will also release a set of guidelines on additional services that will be allowed in salons and barbershops.

The latest IATF resolution also states that practice and conditioning sessions for professional basketball and football teams will also be permitted.

Roque said the move comes after a joint administrative order was signed between the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, and the Department of Health to allow limited physical activities amid the community quarantine. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte extends ECQ in Cebu City; GCQ in Metro Manila until July 15

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to extend the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City until July 15, 2020.

The President noted the “stubbornness” of its residents despite strict government protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. He cited the situation in Talisay City where people tend to ignore social distancing protocols, with some even engaging in drinking sprees and gambling.

Ayaw ninyo maniwala, bakit marami? One of the reasons — even without consulting the Body— because you did not follow rules,” President Duterte said.

“You have the highest. Cebu is now the new hotspot for COVID-19. Bakit? Marami sa inyo ay hindi sumusunod,” he added.

The President expressed concern over the situations in Cebu City which he hopes will improve through the supervision of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Meanwhile, Metro Manila and the following areas will remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) until July 15:

  • Cavite
  • Rizal
  • Benguet
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Leyte
  • Ormoc
  • Southern Leyte
  • Talisay City, Minglanilla and Consolacion Municipalities in Cebu Province

The President commended the response of residents in the said areas to the government-imposed protocols which helped slow down the rate of COVID-19 infection.

You know Manila, maraming tao but because sumunod nila — with few violations thereabout— we here in Manila have a good chance of at least avoiding it,” he said.

To save the economy, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguz recommended to the President the further relaxing of quarantine measures in Metro Manila and the CALABARZON region. 

The rest of the country, meanwhile, will remain under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) specifically those identified as moderate and low risk areas where localized community quarantine and minimum health standards may strictly be observed. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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