Sotto backs shift of NCR to modified ECQ, says rushing back to ‘old normal’ will be reckless

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020   •   483

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday welcomed the decision of the government to place high-risk areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In a statement, Sotto expressed his belief that the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to shift some areas into modified ECQ was based on recommendations made by experts who have been on top of the public health crisis.

“I am confident that the recommendations given to him were the result of intelligent discussions that were based on solid data provided by authorities on the ground,” he said.

While he acknowledged that many people, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), are yearning to return to their jobs and start earning income again, Sotto said it would best “if we all proceed on the side of caution and not throw away the gains of our sacrifices for almost two months.”

“I understand their concerns about losing their work and being unable to provide for the basic needs of their families,” he said.

“Rushing back to the ‘old’ normal, or even just a semblance of it, will be reckless. It will expose majority of our people to the continuing threat of the infectious novel coronavirus and open the gates for a second wave, which could be more vicious and difficult to handle,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the government announced that areas with high-risk for COVID-19 will be placed under modified ECQ starting May 16 until May 31.

These areas include Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City.

The entire island of Luzon had been placed under ECQ from March 17 to April 30. Some areas, including Metro Manila, were then placed under an extended community quarantine until May 15.

Under a modified ECQ, 50% of the workforce and operations of selected manufacturing and processing plants will be allowed to resume. Transportation will remain limited for essential goods and services.

Sotto said the downgrade of many areas to a general community quarantine will be a challenge for everyone to be more responsible individuals, and to care for the welfare of the public.

“Ngayon natin makikita ang disiplina at responsibilidad ng bawat isa sa atin,” he said.

“Walang sinuman sa atin ang gustong bumalik ulit sa ECQ. Nakasalalay sa ating lahat ang success o failure ng ating laban kontra COVID-19,” he added.

As of May 11, the Philippines has recorded 11,086 confirmed cases with 1,999 recovered patients and 726 deaths.

Most of these cases were reported in Metro Manila.

Mas maluwag na general community quarantine, umiiral sa Metro Manila —Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Mas marami na ang maaaring lumabas ng bahay ngayon at pinalawig pa ang kapasidad ng pampublikong transportasyon sa kabila na nananatili ang banta ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Hinihikayat na rin ng pamahalaan ang pagsasagawa ng business activities upang maka-engganyo ng mas maraming customers bukod pa sa mas maraming negosyo ang pinahihintulutan nang magbukas.

“Tama po kayo, mas maluwag na general community quarantine ang pinaiiral ngayon sa Metro Manila,” sagot ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque sa mga mamahayag nitong Lunes (October 19).

Ang pagluwag ng quarantine restrictions ay upang makabawi ang ekonomiya sa bansa mula sa epekto ng pandemya.

Samantala, ayon sa kalihim, may mga sang-ayon sa mungkahi ng Metro Manila Mayors na palawigin na ang general community quarantine (GCQ) sa National Capital Region (NCR) hanggang buwan ng Disyembre.

Subalit, naka-depende pa rin ito sa desisyon ng policy-making body ng gobyerno laban sa COVID-19.

“Iyan po ang parang nabubuong concensus, pero siyempre po hindi ko po pwedeng pangunahan because it is a collegial decision,” pahayag ng opisyal.

“Pero ang nangyayari po kasi ngayon, bagaman naka-GCQ ang Metro Manila, nagkakaroon po tayo ng mas malawak na pagbubukas ng mga industriya,” dagdag nito.

Inaasahang bago magpalit ng buwan, isasapubliko ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang panibagong quarantine classification sa NCR para sa Nobyembre.

Giit ng opisyal, posible ang anumang quarantine classification sa NCR subalit mananatiling iisa ang posisyon ng pamahalaan – ang pahintulutang makapag-hanapbuhay na ang mga mamamayan habang ipinatutupad pa rin ang minimum health standards. MNP (sa ulat ni Rosalie Coz)

LTFRB opens 44 new PUJ routes, allows 4,820 more jeepneys on Metro Manila streets

Marje Pelayo   •   October 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has opened additional 44 routes of the traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJ) on Tuesday (October 13). 

Aside from this, the agency also allowed 4,820 PUJ units to ply routes in Metro Manila as stated in the Memorandum Circular 2020-058 dated Saturday (October 10).

Overall, a total of 27,016 traditional PUJs are now operating on 302 routes across Metro Manila since the government opened transportation with the implementation of General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

The agency said it is working on opening more routes for PUVs to address the need for mass transport as business further reopen. 

This was after public transport capacity was limited amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) unit breakdown in Metro Manila since operation started on June 1, 2020:

Traditional Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ)

  • No. of routes opened: 302
  • No. of authorized units: 27,016

Modern Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ)

  • No. of routes opened: 48
  • No. of authorized units: 845

Public Utility Buses (PUB)

  • No. of routes: 34
  • No. of authorized units: 4,016

Point-to-point buses (P2P)

  • No. of routes opened: 34
  • No. of authorized units: 387

UV Express

  • No. of routes opened: 76
  • No. of authorized units: 3,263

Taxi

  • No. of authorized units: 20,927

Transport Network Vehicles Services (TNVS)

  • No. of authorized units: 24,356

Provincial Public Utility Bus (PUB)

  • No. of routes opened: 12
  • No. of authorized units: 286

Modern UV Express

  • No. of routes opened: 2
  • No. of authorized units: 40

DOLE identifies ‘resilient’ jobs in NCR amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   October 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday cited a number of “resilient” jobs in the National Capital Region (NCR) that “withstood the impact” of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that rendered millions unemployed.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said online job postings for workers with skills in health care, logistics, information technology, business process management, education, and construction are rising.

He also noted that under the health care and wellness sector, requirements are increasing for medical doctors, nurses, medical and radiologic technologists, pharmacists, psychologists, medical researchers and writers, and wellness trainers and representatives.

Citing records of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Bello said the government through the Department of Health hired a total of 8,056 health workers out of the 10,693 job openings for doctors, nurses, and other health care workers under the emergency hiring program to augment medical front-liners battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They were deployed in public hospitals, diagnostic facilities, isolation and quarantine sites, local government units, and other hospitals and COVID-19 referral facilities,” the labor chief said.

Of this number, nurses account for the highest number of hires by profession at 2,701, followed by medical technologists at 1,356, he added.

Bello also said that there are more than 10,000 job opportunities in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry such as customer service representatives, technical support staff, frontline/specialists, supervisors, trainers, managers, and others for the human resources and recruitment, finance, information technology, and marketing sectors.

He added that increased demand for workers in the construction sector has also been observed, specifically for heavy equipment operators and safety engineers.

“The government has significant allocation for the Build, Build, Build program of the government in the proposed national budget for 2021 so we could expect more jobs in the construction towards the following year,” he said.

With most schools conducting only virtual learning for several weeks and months of the new school year, Bello said demand for on-line Instructors are picking up under the education sector.

Also promising is the logistics sector where demand for transport network and vehicle service drivers is going strong due to a switch in consumers’ buying habits during the pandemic.

For instance, DOLE NCR Director Sarah Buena Mirasol said the PESO-Quezon City facilitated the hiring of at least 500 food service delivery personnel for Food Panda, Lala Jeep, and Grab Food.

Similarly, PESO-Mandaluyong is set to facilitate the employment of its locally displaced tricycle drivers.

“An estimated 300 displaced workers are projected to benefit from this LGU intervention,” she said.

Mirasol said the resilient jobs were identified from the situation and labor market landscape of the region based on the recently conducted environmental scanning research.

While it is important to develop one’s industry-specific hard skills, Mirasol pointed out that “specific essential skills such as adaptability, technology know-how, creativity and innovation, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and leadership skills are necessary for workers to cultivate in order to survive and thrive in the new normal.”

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