Velasco places Lower House on 4-day lockdown

Marje Pelayo   •   March 18, 2021   •   511

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Allan Velasco has placed the entire House of Representatives on a four-day lockdown beginning Thursday (March 18) until Sunday (March 21) in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.

Velasco issued the order Wednesday night (March 17), as he instructed House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza to ensure the strict implementation of the lockdown within the House premises in Batasan Complex for the protection of its members and employees.

“We have decided to place the entire Batasan Complex on a temporary lockdown from March 18 to 21 as a precautionary measure to protect the health and safety of House members and employees in view of the alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila,” Velasco said.

The House leader also reiterated his appeal to the public to remain vigilant and continue all public health precautions against COVID-19 which has infected more than 600, 000 Filipinos from which 12, 866 already died as of March 17 toll.

“Now, more than ever, it is important to continue to maintain proper physical distancing, and practice good hygiene, as well as wear face mask and face shield,” Velasco said.

“These are small steps that will surely help us in a big way to protect ourselves and our loved ones from contracting the virus as we continue the battle against this deadly disease. So please don’t let your guard down,” he added.

In his announcement Wednesday night, Velasco enjoined lawmakers and employees to stay at home during the four-day lockdown and proceed with the usual virtual live streaming of scheduled meetings and hearings “not just to protect ourselves, but also to help arrest the spread of the virus.”

Makabayan Bloc seeks probe into proliferation of smuggled vegetables in local markets

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House Makabayan bloc is pushing for an investigation into the alleged proliferation of smuggled vegetables in some markets across the country.

In filing House Resolution No. 2263, the bloc urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to launch an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports that smuggled carrots and other vegetables from overseas have flooded major markets in the country since August of this year.

The bloc noted that the League of Association at the La Trinidad Trading Areas has complained that four container vans full of alleged smuggled carrots are delivered to the Carbon Market in Cebu City every week and being sold at P50 per kilo in various markets.

“The said contraband carrots are believed to be coming from China and are allegedly injected with chemicals to prolong the shelf life,” the resolution read.

Some ‘hot cabbages’ were also reportedly being distributed in Divisoria Market in Manila at P70 per kilo which is much lower than the prices of Benguet cabbage pegged at P115 to P125 a kilo.

The bloc also noted reports about small warehouses near Divisoria where imported vegetables are allegedly stored and are released in the market when Benguet vegetable prices are high.

“Vegetable disposers at the La Trinidad Post in Benguet said that orders have drastically dropped due to the proliferation of smuggled carrots in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro, among other cities,” it said.

“From the previous 100 sacks of carrots a day, vegetable disposers said they are only able to dispose of at least 30 sacks of carrots a day,” it added.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said it is investigating reports on smuggled vegetables in local markets and warned the public against buying these items that may contain possible pesticide residue and may not be fit for consumption.

4 religious facilities in QC under lockdown due to high COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 22, 2021

The Quezon City local government has placed four religious facilities under lockdown due to high number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

Based on the report of the Quezon City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (QCESU) there is a recent outbreak in Christ the King Mission Seminary, where almost half of its population has been infected. Out of the 59 individuals in the seminary, 25 tested positive for the virus.

As of September 18, eleven of these positive cases have recovered, 13 remain active, and one has succumbed to COVID-19.

QCESU Chief Dr. Rolando Cruz reported that the seminary’s Villa Cristo Rey and Fininman Building have bee placed under Special Concern Lockdown (SCL) since September 18.

The temporary closure of Christ the King Mission Seminary brings the total number of religious facilities in the city under lockdown to four. The other three are  Stella Maris Convent (since September 10); Religious of the Virgin Mary (since September 14) and Convent of the Holy Spirit which has been under lockdown since September 15.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City government has started creating a set of guidelines on ventilation for buildings and workplaces to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. AAC

House approves bill imposing taxes on digital transactions

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers in the House of Representatives (HOR) approved on third and final reading a proposed measure imposing a 12% value-added tax (VAT) on all digital transactions in the country.

With 167 ‘yes’, six ‘no’ and one abstention, the lawmakers approved House Bill 7425 which seeks to amend Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC).

The proposed measure hopes to impose taxes on digital service providers that operate through online platforms to generate new sources of funds for the country’s COVID-19 response.

The proposed bill seeks to clarify the imposition of VAT on online advertisement services, digital services in exchange for a regular subscription fee, and supply of other electronic and online services that can be delivered through the Internet.

One of the principal authors of the bill, Albay Representative Joey Salceda, stressed that the bill seeks to require foreign corporations selling digital services to pay for and impose VAT on their services.

The proposed bill specifically refers to digital services as mobile applications, video games and online games, and webcasts and webinars as well as online licensing or software, updates and add-ons, website filters and firewalls.

It also addresses digital content such as music, videos, graphics and the likes; search engine services; social networks; online training as well as database and hosting.

“We have now clarified that digital services and the goods and services traded through digital service providers should generally be subject to VAT. This is just a matter of common tax sense,” Salceda said.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker guaranteed exemptions for small businesses or those having sales below P3 million and a sole proprietor with a net income of P250,000 and lower.

“So, the small Facebook online seller will not be taxed. I guarantee you,” he said.

Books and other printed materials being sold online will also be exempted from VAT in the proposed bill.

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