Sotto proposes to move opening of classes to September amid COVID-19 worries

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2020   •   597

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said he has filed a bill seeking to move the opening of classes in both public and private schools to September instead of June.

In a statement, Sotto said his bill seeks to adjust the opening of the next school year to ensure the welfare of students nationwide amid the continued threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In filing Senate Bill No. 1438, the lawmaker proposes to amend the Republic Act 7977 or the Act on Lengthening of School Calendar, which mandates the opening of school classes every year on the first Monday of June or not later than the last day of August.

Noting that the June school opening is just a month away, Sotto said there is a need to delay this year’s school opening amid worries over the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

He also stressed the importance of giving the Department of Education (DepEd) “more time and opportunity to prepare and adopt measures for the new normal of the education system,” considering the COVID-19 situation.

The bill also seeks to serve as the enabling law for the execution of the April 24 recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) to move the class opening to September.

“The approved recommendation of the IATF-EID runs counter to the law… To remedy the situation created by COVID-19 and consequently allow the execution of the IATF-EID recommendation, this measure is being proposed,” Sotto said.

Classes in all levels and all activities in both public and private learning institutions nationwide have been suspended since March 10 after President Duterte declared a national health emergency because of the outbreak of COVID-19.

Sotto said he would still push for the bill despite the DepEd’s announcement that the school year 2020-2021 will start on August 24.

Cold chain group still awaits gov’t order on unified plan for COVID-19 vaccine storage

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Cold Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said they are still awaiting direction from the national government on the unified plan for storing COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

CCAP president Anthony Dizon said they are still unsure if the government will seek out their services in storing vaccines. Dizon said they can provide 80 cold storage facilities to various areas in the countries.

“We are confronted with a national emergency for we have to have a plan that will be implementable nationwide. For planning purposes , it would be better if we sit down together,” he said.

Dizon added that local government units (LGUs) have been coordinating with several members of the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines for their own vaccine storage. However, a unified plan for all CCAP members will be more beneficial once vaccine distribution begins.

Preparations for the storage would include the number of vaccines that will be stored and how long the vaccines will be stored.

“We have received information that different LGUs have approached some of our members in certain localities and I am elated that certain LGUs have taken initiatives to do that but we are still awaiting the program direction from the national implementing agency,” he said.

Currently, several storage facilities are being used for meat and dairy products. Meanwhile, two cold storage facilities owned by Koldstor Centre of the Philippines in Cavite can already be used for vaccine storage.

For Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines however, Dizon noted only two cold storage facilities can be available for use. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines would need a temperature requirement of -70 degrees Celsius. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Meralco reminds deadline for outstanding bills until Jan. 31

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has reminded its customers that the deadline for paying outstanding bills is on January 31.

Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said the electric company already provided sufficient time since its disconnection policy was temporarily suspended to help customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Zaldarriaga said customers can still appeal for an extension through Meralco’s business centers.

He added that they are mulling over the recommended extension of the installment scheme in paying power bills.

We’ve already given iyong ample time. One year na ang—almost one year na magmula noong we stopped disconnecting since March and although, pinag-aaralan pa rin naman natin and on a case-to-case basis ay humahanap tayo ng paraan para tulungan iyong iba pang customers (We’ve already given ample time. Almost one year since we stopped disconnecting since March. Although we are still looking into ways to assist other customers on a case-to-case basis), he said.

Zaldarriaga also reiterated the importance of paying on time in order for the electric company to continue its operation and provide service to its customers. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr)

Senators seek third hearing on government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators seek a third hearing to further discuss the national government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan.

The Senate Committee of the Whole may call for another public hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Senator Franklin Drilon, in a statement, said the two-day inquiry left more questions than answers.

“There are still a number of issues hanging. These too many unanswered questions raise grave concerns, for the survival of the country largely depends on our ability to implement a successful vaccination program against the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

Drilon noted that the pricing, the sourcing of the vaccines, the delivery schedules, and the logistical support plan are several of the urgent questions needed to be answered.

“We did not get any definite answers to these serious questions. I believe another round of hearing is in order. I support the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for more hearings,” he added. –AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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