SB Corp. starts accepting COVID-19 loan applications from small firms in GCQ areas

Robie de Guzman   •   May 19, 2020   •   1141

MANILA, Philippines – Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) has started accepting loan applications from micro and small enterprises in areas that have transitioned to general community quarantine (GCQ) , the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced Monday.

In a statement, the DTI said the application for the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program for businesses affected by the public health crisis began on May 18.

Under the SB Corp.’s CARES program, micro and small enterprises operating for at least a year prior to March 16 and assets not exceeding P15 million are eligible to apply.

The SB Corporation, an attached agency of the DTI, said the P1 billion loan program will help cushion the economic impact brought about by the pandemic.

Micro enterprises with asset size not exceeding P3 million may borrow an amount ranging from P10,000 to P200,000, while small enterprises with asset size of not more than P15 million may borrow loan amount not exceeding P500,000.

The loan shall be used to help the enterprise stabilize or recover from its losses.

The DTI said that specifically, small businesses may take out loans to keep their loan amortizations up to date for vehicle loans or other fixed asset loans of the business; replacing inventory for damaged perishable stocks; and to acquire working capital replacement to restart the business.

Interest rate shall be at 0.5% per month (discounted basis); and grace period of 6 months on principal payments.

Loan applicants may visit the SB Corporation’s website for the application form and submit the same, with the requirements, to the nearest SB Corporation office or Negosyo Center in areas under GCQ and modified GCQ.

The SB Corp. reminded applicants that strict workplace safety protocols will be observed and walk-in clients will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

600 establishments await Safety Seal Certificate — DTI

Marje Pelayo   •   June 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said there are still some 600 business establishments awaiting issuance of a Safety Seal certificate to be able to resume operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over 150 establishments have been approved (for safety seal certificate), and there are 600 pending for inspection. The process is ongoing as we speak,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said Friday (June 11) during the regular Laging Handa briefing.

Establishments deemed compliant with the minimum health standards for the prevention of COVID-19, are given a Safety Seal certificate.

“Kailangan magpa-safety seal sila para lang masigurado that they are complying with the minimum health protocols. Especially kung indoors, very important kasi ngayon iyong ventilation,” Lopez said.

The official said among establishments that the DTI inspected, around 105 have been denied the safety seal.

“Pero hindi naman ibig sabihin na forever na hindi sila makakakuha. Pinapa-comply lang sila sa minimum health standards,” Lopez said.

Under the Joint Memorandum Circular 21-01 Series 2021 signed by the DTI, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, Department of the Interior and Local Government , and the Department of Tourism (DOT), a Safety Seal shall apply to selected public places and government offices as well as private business establishments.

It shall be displayed on strategic spots at the entrance of establishments.

Establishments that are covered by DTI are supermarkets, groceries, membership shopping and convenience stores, construction supply or hardware stores, barbershops and salons, and service shops.


Clinical trials on COVID vax for minors ongoing; no vaccine rollout yet for children in PH — PPS

Marje Pelayo   •   June 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) confirmed that there are cases of COVID-19 among the country’s younger population.

However, no severe cases of COVID-19 among children have been recorded yet as the disease mostly affects the older age groups.

Though minors are considered low-risk, they still have to get vaccinated, according to a pediatric group.

“Kahit paano tinatamaan pa rin sila. Hindi naman natin masasabi kung sinong bata ang tatamaan at sino ang hindi. At least, protektado sila,” said Dr. Maria Karmela Kasala, spokesperson of the Philippine Pediatric Society.

Kasala said there are vaccines for minors that are under clinical trials in other countries.

“Other vaccine companies are also doing their own trials for these younger children. We have to wait for the results of those trials, at kapag nareview at na-evaluate na ng ating mga vaccine experts itong mga bagong studies sa mga kabataan. Kung nararapat sa ating (nakababatang) populasyon ay gagawan ng paraan para maipasok na sa priority vaccine rollout,” Kasala said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently allowed the emergency use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines for minors aged 12 to 15.

Meanwhile, China has also allowed the use Sinovac’s CoronaVac on children as young as three years old.

As for the Philippines, there is no approval yet from the government to inoculate the younger population with  available COVID-19 vaccines.

“Pero wala pang polisiya kung paano natin i-ro-rollout ang mga bakuna para dito sa mga edad na ito,” Kasala said.

She added that clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines are ongoing around the world, but no results have been published yet.

“Ang ating mga bakuna, ang lahat ay naka-EUA pa sa buong mundo. In normal times, hindi pa iyan papayagang maibenta kasi kailangan ng certificate of product registration, at nakaraan sa clinical trial phase 4,” Kasala explained.

“Hindi na tayo umabot sa Phase 4 dahil nasa emergency pandemic tayo globally,” she said.

Gyms, fitness studios to reopen at 30% capacity beginning June 16

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed the reopening of gyms, fitness studios, and other indoor non-contact sports venues in the  National Capital Region (NCR) Plus.

In a statement issued on Friday (June 11), the IATF announced that it has released Resolution No. 120 which allows the reopening of fitness studios, gyms, skating rinks, and racket sports courts at 30% capacity beginning June 16.

“Such venues are strongly encouraged to allow their regular members with recurring monthly subscription who opt not to avail of the services, to suspend their memberships for the duration of their limited opening,” the resolution reads.

The said establishments, however, would still need to secure safety seal certification before reopening. Minimum health standards should also be observed which includes wearing of face masks, strict physical distancing, and proper ventilation. AAC


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