Reopening of internet cafes up to LGUs, DTI says

Robie de Guzman   •   September 1, 2020   •   546

MANILA, Philippines – The decision on whether to resume the operations of internet cafes will be up to local chief executives, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) following the implementation of new community quarantine restrictions on Tuesday.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said they will leave to Metro Manila mayors the timing of the reopening of internet cafes after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed the resumption of limited operations of gyms, personal grooming centers, drive-in cinemas and review and tutorial centers in areas under general community quarantine.

Lopez said they will release a set of guidelines recommending the operating capacity of these establishments, as well as additional health protocols to prevent the further spread of novel coronavirus disease.

The DTI chief issued the statement following the announcement of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on the resumption of limited operations of internet cafes and sports facilities such as gyms.

Domagoso also adjusted the curfew hours to 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Higit na 300,000 manggagawa naka-depende sa pagbubukas ng mga sinehan—DTI

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Kinakailangan nang maibalik ang operasyon ng mga sinehan dahil dito nakasalalay ang kabuhayan ng halos 300,000 mga manggagawa, ayon sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Ayon sa Consumer Protection Group ng DTI na si Usec.Ruth Castelo, maraming manggagawa sa sinehan ang halos isang taon nang nahinto sa pagtratrabaho kayat umaasa ang nga ito na muli na silang makababalik sa kanilang hanapbuhay.

“Recommendation ng NEDA and the DTI Secretary Lopez na i-allow na para makabalik na sa trabaho yung mga tao ng income, makagenerate sila ng income at makasuporta doon sa mga pamilya nila,” aniya.

Nag-inspeksyon din ang DTI noong Miyerkules (ika-16 ng Pebrero) sa ilang mga sinehan upang makita ang kanilang paghahanda sakaling mag-umpisa na muli ang kanilang operasyon.

Bagaman wala pang guidelines na inilalabas ang national government, ginagawan na ng paraan ng mga mall operator na magkaroon nang maayos na bentilasyon sa loob ng mga sinehan.

Paliwanag pa ng nga ito, bago pa ang pandemya ay sinisuguro na nila na malinis at tama ang sirkulasyon ng hangin dito.

“Two hours prior to the cinema opening we started operating our fresh air and exhaust system to ensure na fresh ang air natin sa loob ng cinema then while you are watching there are six air exchange happening in the cinema. So ibig sabihin kahit nakaupo ka lang nagpapalit ang hanging sa loob ng 6 na beses sa isang oras,” ayon kay Gerson Dela Cruz, Senior Engineer Facilities Management ng Ayala Malls.

Mahigpit na ring ipagbabawal ang pagkain sa loob ng mga sinehan upang maiwasan ang posibleng hawaan ng COVID-19.

“So that all facemasks must be worn all the time while inside the cinema and of course we’re waiting for the additional guidelines, safety guidelines that will come out before we open the cinemas required by the LGUs and IATF,” ayon naman kay Bomboy Lim, ang General Manager ng Robinsons Movie World.

Sa ngayon ay hinihintay pa rin ang guidelines na babalangkasin ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)  na dapat masunod sa mga enclosed na establisyimento gaya ng mga sinehan.

Pero nauna na ring sinabi ng IATF na bukod sa guidelines, kinakailangan din na aprubado ng mga alkalde na nakakasakop sa kanilang mga lugar ang muling pagbubukas ng mga sinehan at arcade.

Una nang sinabi ni Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso na magkakaloob sila ng libreng swab test sa mga cinema worker at hindi niya papayagan na magbukas ito hangga’t hindi sumasailalim sa pagsusuri ang mga manggagawa nito.

“Pinag-aaralan pa namin kasi while it is true that we wanted to open businesses, are they ready to come up with a plan yung katulad ng cinema o yung mga nabanggit? Hindi naman po pwede na bibiglain natin. Kailangan responsable pa rin,” aniya.

DTI’s SB Corp. approves over 20,000 loans for small businesses

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 21,695 loan applications under the Bayanihan COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program for small enterprises have been approved by the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) as of February 9, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

SB Corp. is the financing arm of DTI. Its CARES program seeks to provide micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) with urgent relief needed to restart their businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our efforts to provide relief and assistance to MSMEs through the CARES program are further strengthened, especially as we work towards the sustainable and inclusive recovery of our nation,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Over 20,000 MSMEs have already benefitted from this loan portfolio, which has helped businesses survive from permanent closure, recover from the effects of the pandemic, save or even create more jobs, and provide income to millions of Filipinos and their families,” he added.

Applications approved are equivalent to a loan amount of P2.35 billion, according to SB Corp. President and CEO Ma. Luna Cacanando.

Under the Republic Act No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (Bayanihan 2), financial support amounting to P10 billion has been allotted to the CARES program to help mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic on MSMEs.

Lopez said the application process for CARES program have been simplified “to ensure that more businesses are able to avail of this service.”

The loan application and evaluation process, as well as the releasing process, have also been shifted online to reduce physical contact amid the pandemic.

He said the SB Corp. completes its evaluation of loan requests within seven working days, even faster if the documents are complete.

“Submission of documents such as BIR tax return can fast-track approval,” he said.

“There is currently no backlog on its loan evaluation work contrary to what other reports say. We are even promoting the program to more MSMEs applicants,” he added.

The trade chief emphasized that MSMEs are a key pillar of the country’s economy, which contribute 35.7% to GDP, employ 62.5% of the labor force, and constitute 99.5% of all business establishments in the country.

Based on a nationwide survey of over 3,000 MSMEs conducted by DTI, around 38% were forced to close down during the height of lockdown in April to June last year, and this number went down to 5% towards yearend 2020, as more sectors were gradually reopening. 

“Loans from the Bayanihan CARES Program are interest-free, collateral-free, and are available to MSMEs, cooperatives, hospitals, and tourism businesses that have been in operation for at least one year,” Lopez said.

“Repatriated or returning OFWs who wish to engage in start-up business may also apply for a loan under the program after some trainings,” he added.

Loan terms can be up to four years, including a grace period of up to 12 months, giving MSMEs enough breathing space for the business to recover, and time to pivot and innovate their business models.  

“We encourage all MSMEs across the country in all regions to consider taking the step in reopening or reconfiguring your respective businesses. The features of the Bayanihan CARES loan are intended to allow entrepreneurs to restart their businesses with ample elbow room.  There is no need to worry about loan repayments for one year. There is also no need to worry about escalating financing costs,” Lopez said.

Interested applicants may submit their loan requests through www.BayanihanCARES.ph or contact the CARES Hotline at 8651-3333, and at 1-800-10-651-3333 (nationwide toll-free) for inquiries.

IATF allows arcades, cinemas and other businesses to reopen in GCQ areas – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force for COVID-19 response has allowed the reopening of more businesses in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), Malacañang announced Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the reopening and further expansion of the following businesses/industries:

  • Driving schools
  • Traditional cinemas
  • Video and interactive-game arcades
  • Libraries 
  • Archives
  • Museums and cultural centers

The conduct of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, and limited social events at credited establishments of the Department of Tourism have also been allowed.

The IATF approved the new policy during its 99th meeting on Thursday, February 11, as authorities sought to boost the country’s economy battered by the pandemic.

“Also approved is the reopening of limited tourist attractions, such as parks, theme parks, natural sites and historical landmarks,” Roque said.

He stressed that the reopening and further expansion of businesses/industries “shall be subject to the issuance of the implementing guidelines which will provide for the operational capacity, and oversight of the appropriate regulatory agency and the concerned local government units where these businesses/industries are located.”

“These businesses/industries shall comply with the strict observance of minimum public health standards set by the Department of Health,” Roque added.

Metro Manila is under GCQ for the month of February, as well as the Cordillera Administrative Region, Batangas, Tacloban City, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City.

The rest of the country is under modified GCQ, the loosest quarantine restriction level.

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