Villanueva hopes Duterte SONA will tackle massive job creation for workers displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 20, 2020   •   356

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday expressed his hope that President Rodrigo Duterte will discuss in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) the plan of the government in generating jobs for millions of Filipinos who were displaced by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as the country continues to fight its spread.

In a statement, Villanueva said that with a record-high unemployment rate of 17.7% or equivalent to 7.3 million based on the April 2020 labor force survey, the president’s address should serve as a guidepost for all agencies to create and implement policies that would lead to the restart of the economy.

It should also pave the way for the smooth reintegration of overseas Filipino workers to the domestic labor force and provide green lanes for Filipino seafarers for the global supply chain, he added.

Duterte is set to deliver his fifth SONA next Monday, July 27.

“Mahalaga po na matalakay ang plano ng ating gobyerno kung paano tutugunan ang problema sa kawalan ng trabaho ngayong pandemya. Habang wala pang bakuna laban sa COVID-19, tuloy pa rin po dapat ang buhay at kailangan maging handa ang bawat isa sa atin na mag-adjust sa new normal,” he said.

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development, also called on the government to mount epidemiological monitoring and surveillance in places where is high economic activity such as Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Cebu.

“With epidemiological monitoring, we will be able to track how the disease is spreading and take appropriate measures to contain and stem it to prevent the healthy population from getting infected,” he added.

Villanueva said he shared the observation of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III who sought the reopening of the said economies in Metro Manila and Region 4A, explaining that about 2/3 of the country’s Gross Domestic Product was generated there.

But Villanueva reiterated that business confidence right now is directly tied to the government’s ability to manage the pandemic well.

“We need to boost the confidence of our businesses to resume their operations and of our workers to come back to work, that is why our government has to step up in preventing the disease from spreading,” he said.

The government should also ensure that repatriated OFWs who lost their jobs abroad are provided enough assistance to start anew, the lawmaker said.

Villanueva cited a report from Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III stating that OFW remittances could drop by up to 40 percent or about US$12 billion this year as a result of massive job losses overseas. In 2019, the central bank reported that OFW remittances reached US$30.13 billion.

Aside from employment generation, the President’s address should also provide concrete measures to ensure the continuity of learning for all learners in the new normal, Villanueva said.

As of July 19, the health department reported that 67,456 persons have been infected with COVID-19, with 43,160 cases listed as active. Recoveries also rose to 22,465 while the death toll is at 1,831.

Facility-based isolation for asymptomatic, mild COVID-19 cases now mandatory

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now requiring facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases through IATF Resolution 74.

The new policy however, exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities and their home meets the conditions specified in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001. 

Likewise, another exception is when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

Iloilo City placed under MECQ from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.

However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.

Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.

Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.

No more deadline: Hiring of contact tracers to continue until target is reached – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said it will do away with deadlines and instead continue to hire contact tracers until their target of at least 50,000 is reached.

In a statement, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the agency’s provincial and city field offices will continue to accept applications until the slots allocated to them have been filled up.

The department earlier announced that the submission of applications for contact tracers is only until Sept. 23.

 “What’s important to us is to fill up the slots and recruit the most number of Contact Tracers as provided in the Bayanihan 2 law so those who meet the deadline will immediately be processed but we will continue to accept applications until we have met our targets,” he said.

Malaya said that some 10,000 individuals have already applied in Metro Manila but many have incomplete documents so they are giving more time for them to complete the requirements on a first come, first served basis.

“As soon as they are deemed qualified by the selection board, they will be hired, trained, and deployed to the various LGUs,” he added.

The DILG official said the first batch of DILG-hired contact tracers will be deployed to the local government units by first week of October.

The department earlier said that local and overseas Filipino workers whose service have been recently terminated or their employment contracts were not renewed amid the pandemic will be given priority in the hiring process.

 To qualify, the applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree or college level in an allied medical course or criminology course.

Aspirants must also be skilled in data gathering and have assisted in research and documentation; able to interview COVID-19 cases and close contacts in order to gather data; possess the ability to advocate public health education messages; and have investigative capability.
 
“While our first preference is college graduates or college level of allied medical courses or criminology, we are also open to graduates or college level of any course. So, we urge them to apply and help the country defeat COVID-19,” he said.
Malaya said applicants are required to submit an application letter, Personal Data Sheet, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, diploma or transcript of record, and drug test result to the nearest DILG provincial or city field office.

Contact tracers will earn a minimum of P18,784 per month in a contract of service status.

Their responsibilities include conducting interviews, profiling, and perform an initial public health risk assessment of COVID-19 cases and their identified close contacts; refer the close contacts to isolation facilities; conduct enhanced contact tracing in collaboration with other agencies and private sectors; conduct daily monitoring of close and general contacts for at least 14 days, and perform such other tasks in relation to the COVID response.

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