QC gov’t bans public gatherings during fiestas, other community events

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2021   •   456

MANILA, Philippines Public gatherings and other community celebrations will be prohibited in Quezon City, the local government announced.

In a memorandum dated Jan. 12, Mayor Joy Belmonte said the move aims to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in anticipation of upcoming fiestas, religious events, and cultural festivals traditionally held in many barangays in the city this month.

“Unless regulated, these celebrations could lead to mass gatherings and encourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Belmonte said.

“Isakripisyo muna natin ang mga nakaugalian tuwing may ganitong pagdiriwang para na rin sa ating kaligtasan,” she added.

In her order, Belmonte prohibited the conduct of processions, parades, Santacruzan and other crowd-drawing activities and events like fairs, perya, variety shows, fireworks displays, ati-atihan or other public performances.

Public games and contests, such as pageants, singing or band contests, bingo, pabitin, paluan ng palayok, agawan, or tug of war are also banned.

Public buffets and boodle fights, and public drinking, including drinking outdoors or on sidewalks, and group contact sports such as basketball are also not allowed.

“Persons may only drink at home or inside restaurants or establishments, subject to health protocols,” Belmonte said.

Also banned are group videoke or other celebratory gatherings that violate social distancing, noise pollution or other noise nuisances due to excessive merrymaking, comingling of multiple households through large parties or traditional “open door” fiesta celebrations; and any other non-essential or non-work gatherings.

On the other hand, modest celebrations conducted within the home, among immediate family or close acquaintances are allowed, subject to social distancing and other applicable health protocols.

Also, masses, other religious solemnities, religious or traditional rituals for the purpose of blessing a building or establishment may continue, subject to strict health protocols such the wearing of face mask, face shields and social distancing.

Celebrations conducted primarily for an online audience, with very limited physical attendance are also allowed.

As for the coming celebration of Chinese New Year, Belmonte said the conduct of Dragon Dance or Lion Dance activities shall be allowed provided that the same shall be held in a designated area only, like the stage of a mall, with the audience seated and socially distanced, with mask and face shield.

Violators may be penalized under Republic Act No. 11332 or the Notifiable Diseases Act, various city ordinances and other pertinent laws, the city government said.

The city’s law and order cluster, regulatory departments, barangays, and the Quezon City Police District are ordered to strictly enforce the memorandum, it added.

Filipino seafarers now part of gov’t COVID-19 vaccination priority group – DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino seafarers have moved up in the country’s list of priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced.

The DOTr said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved its recommendation to include Filipino sailors in the priority recipients as their work is considered crucial in keeping the economy afloat.

“This is a very good development for our maritime industry champions— our seafarers. Now, our Filipino seafarers will be given priority to be vaccinated,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

“Paulit-ulit ko pong inilalarawan ang ating maritime workforce bilang mga silent workers ng bayan. They work silently, yet their contribution is as crucial as keeping the economy thriving. Not only are they frontliners, but they are undoubtedly HEROES, too,” he added.

From under B3 (other essential workers) or B5 (Overseas Filipino Workers) in the vaccination priority framework, Filipino seafarers have been reclassified under A4 (frontline personnel in essential sectors, including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ) or the top 4 priority group.

Based on government data, there are a total of 549,000 active seafarers registered in the system. Around 497,000 of which are deployed overseas while 51,000 are serving locally. Meanwhile, a total of 181,000 seafarers are without updated sea service within the last three years.

In summary, there are 730,651 Filipino seafarers who are up for consideration in the A4 category, the DOTr said.

“The working group is in the unified position to push for the prioritization of Filipino seafarers in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program to secure their employment, and to ensure the safe shipping operations of essential goods amid the pandemic,” DOTr Assistant Secretary Narciso Vingson Jr. added.

The DOTr said that top priority will be given to active seafarers or those with recorded sea service within the last three years, while new seafarers or those with last recorded sea service beyond 2018 shall be ranked second.

The national government is targeting to inoculate 70 million people this year but the country has so far received more than three million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Malacañang earlier reported that more than a million Filipinos, mostly healthcare workers, have been inoculated against coronavirus disease.

‘Slow start’: DSWD says only 8% of P22.9 billion ECQ aid distributed in NCR Plus

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Only eight percent, or equivalent to more than P1 billion, of the fund allotted for government assistance has been distributed to low-income families affected by the 2-week enhanced community quarantine previously imposed in the NCR Plus areas, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People briefing on Monday night, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said that P1.7 billion of the total P22.9 billion government assistance aid has been disbursed to beneficiaries.

Citing data from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) covering the payouts from April 7 to 9, Bautista said around 1.7 million beneficiaries in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal have already received their aid.

The government earlier said that each beneficiary will receive P1,000 or a maximum of P4,000 per family.

Bautista admitted that the rollout of the assistance was off to a “slow start” but assured that the process will speed up in the next few days.

“Makikita po natin dito na talagang may slow start but as experienced last year, na talagang start po talagang mabagal, after four to five days doon na po nag-start ng pag-distribute ng special assistance,” he said.

The DSWD chief also reported to Duterte that a joint monitoring and inspection committee has been set up for every local government to ensure that the aid is properly distributed.

Grievance committees were also created where recipients can raise their concerns on government assistance.

Metro Manila and four nearby provinces – called NCR Plus – were placed under ECQ from March 29 to April 11 in a bid to slow down the COVID-19 spread.

The said areas were reverted back to modified ECQ starting April 12 until April 30.

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Over 1 million Filipinos vaccinated against COVID-19 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than one million Filipinos have been administered with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Malacañang said.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that as of April 12, a total of 1,007,356 individuals have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 132,228 were already given their second dose.

Among Priority Group A1 or the medical frontliners, 848,986 already received their first dose, while 116,183 had their second dose, he added.

Healthcare workers are the first group on the priority list followed by senior citizens and persons with co-morbidities.

“Sa ASEAN makikita ninyo po bagama’t tayo po ay medyo nahuli sa pag-a-administer ng bakuna, tayo po ngayon ang pangatlo sa pinakamaraming nabakunahan na sa ASEAN. … Ito naman po ay sa kabila ng kakulangan talaga ng mga supply eh pangatlo pa rin po tayo sa ASEAN,” Roque said.

The Palace official said that among ASEAN countries, Indonesia currently ranks first with 14.7 million vaccine doses administered, followed by Singapore at 1.7 million, and the Philippines with 1.1 million.

The Philippines is followed by Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Brunei, he added.

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