President Duterte goes home to Davao as Metro Manila eases lockdown restrictions

Maris Federez   •   May 16, 2020   •   746

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte returned to his hometown of Davao City on Saturday.

This, as Metro Manila eases from the COVID-19 lockdown after it was shifted into a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

It is the first time that the President has returned home since he ordered the implementation of a lockdown in March which suspended transportation and restricted the public’s movement in Luzon.

Presidential Security Group chief Col. Jesus Durante III, in an interview, also confirmed that President Duterte took the flight at past midnight, arriving in Davao City early Saturday.

“He is in Davao after more than 2 months of not being able to see his family,” Durante said.

Durante assured that the chief executive will join the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) meeting next week. — /mbmf

BI to implement changes in travel restrictions asap

Maris Federez   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Saturday (Nov. 21) announced that they will be carrying out changes in the country’s travel restrictions effective immediately. 

In a statement released to the media, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said that with the latest resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), the bureau has carried out the expanded coverage of foreign nationals that are allowed to enter the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Effective immediately, treaty traders and treaty investors, or those issued visas pursuant to Section 9(d) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 are allowed to enter the country,” said Morente.

Section 9(d) visa holders are those alien businessmen who are in the country to carry on trade of commerce between the Philippines and the country to which he is a national of, or invest in an enterprise in the country, the statement said.

Also entitled to the same visa are the alien’s spouse and minor children, as well as the alien’s employees, it further said.

It added that other foreigners allowed to enter the country are those with visas issued by the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, and Clark Development Corporation. —/mbmf

IATF approves guidelines on resumption of operation of motorcycle taxis

Maris Federez   •   November 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Monday (November 9) announced their approval of the guidelines for the resumption of operation of motorcycle taxis.

Aside from complying with minimum health standards, such as wearing of facemasks and regular sanitation, riders are now mandated to install plastic barriers that are patterned after the design approved by the task force.

The guideline also prohibits helmet-sharing and orders the use of cashless fare payment system.

It also directs riders to undergo regular COVID-19 testing to ensure that they are negative of the virus.

“Napaka-importante nitong motorcycle taxi guidelines, dahil kailangan hindi lang supply ng transportation ang ibibigay natin. Kailangan masiguro natin na safe at hindi nako-kompromiso ang ating standards at guidelines sa pagpigil ng transmission ng COVID-19,” said Sec. Vince Dizon, National Task Force against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer.

The IATF technical working group will call the representatives of Angkas, Joyride and Move It for a meeting within the week to present and discuss with them the said guidelines and the date of the resumption of their operation.

The motorcycle taxi companies have signified their willingness to abide by the guidelines, although it may take some time before passengers will get used to it.

“Ito po ay hindi pa po sanay yung mga tao so this is something We need to push for our awareness campaign,” said George Royeca, Chief Transport Advocate of Angkas.

“Ngayon palang sa aming nga social media accounts ay nagbibigay na kami ng mga paalala, information, tungkol dun sa bagong protocol,” said Joyride Vice President for Corporate Affairs Noli Eala.

The extended pilot test run of motorcycle taxis will go for three to six months pending an enactment of a law that will make their operation legal. — (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

MWSS orders Maynilad, Manila Water to implement 30-day grace period, installment plan for ECQ, MECQ bills

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Wednesday told concessionaires, Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. to grant their customers a 30-day grace period and three-month installment plan to settle bills that fall due within the tighter community quarantine periods.

In a press release, the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO) said the directive is “in solidarity with the spirit and intentions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).”

The grace period will cover bills that fall due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ periods.

The MWSS RO also directed water distributors to implement a three-month installment scheme for all cooperatives; micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME); and domestic customers after the grace period.

“The said directives will provide customers ample time to update payments for water bills that fell due within the 04 to 18 August 2020 MECQ period without incurring interests, penalties and other charges,” the agency said.

It can be recalled that Metro Manila and nearby areas were reverted to MECQ in August in response to the call of the medical community for a “time out” amid rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

“The MWSS RO assures the public that it will do everything in its mandate to protect their welfare and provide the assistance they need to alleviate the financial burden brought about by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” the MWSS said.

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