Walking for hours to reach work, home shouldn’t be part of ‘new normal’, Poe says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020   •   226

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday called on the government to provide assistance to employees who are walking for kilometers from home to work and vice versa due to the still limited public transportation means amid the quarantine.

In a statement, Poe lamented reports on employees having to walk for hours to reach their workplaces and go home after the government eased the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last May 16.

While the senator acknowledged the workers’ commitment and perseverance, she said this “must not be part of the ‘new normal’” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

“There’s no doubt about the commitment and perseverance of our workers to return to work to provide income for their families and help shore up businesses sidelined by the pandemic,” she said.

“But the daily commute and walk must not exact a toll on our workers — exposing them to the dangers in the streets and unfavorable weather conditions,” she added.

Some workers reportedly struggled to reach their workplaces on Monday when businesses and offices resumed partial operations after Metro Manila was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Poe said the government should do all it can to “alleviate the daily sufferings of our workers in getting to work” as public transportation services remain limited.

The senator also stressed that the “no work, no pay” employees will be most affected by this situation.

“Especially woeful are the situation of no-work, no-pay employees, who will not earn anything for the day if they fail to show up, or will be meted with deductions if they come late,” she said.

Under the MECQ guidelines issued by the government, select business establishments and offices have been allowed to resume half of their operations with limited workforce. Skeleton workforce and work from home arrangements may also be implemented.

The Department of Trade and Industry earlier urged employers who were allowed to resume operations to provide shuttle services to their employees.

TNVS gears up as operations resume on June 1

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 30, 2020

The Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) industry is already preparing for the resumption of operations on June 1 when Metro Manila finally shifts to General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

TNVS driver Noel Guimbaolibot has added plastic covers and disinfectant solutions in his car as part of the minimum health standards for public transportation.

Noel is looking forward to the resumption of operations since he hasn’t been able to earn for over three months because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

He said he has to brave the risk of getting infected in order to earn for his loved ones.

“Sa ngayon, hindi pa naman nawawala iyong COVID-19. Ang pinakamaganda talaga ay lagi lang maging maingat. Magsuot ng face mask every time, mag-spray ng alcohol, (COVID-19 is not going away just yet. It would be best to always be careful. Wear a face mask and spray alcohol),” he said.

Grab PH will be implementing new protocols for their partner-drivers in accordance with the directives of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Before being allowed to operate, Grab PH’s partner-drivers will have to answer a checklist to determine if they are fit enough to operate. They will also undergo training to make sure they are following health protocols.

Cashless system will also be encouraged to avoid direct contact. Drivers will also be allowed to cancel their booking if the passenger is not wearing a face mask. Likewise, passengers may also cancel their booking if the driver is not wearing a face mask.

Grab PH president, Brian Cu assures that they will not implement any fare hike as operations resume. However, they will appeal to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for a five-peso fare increase by next month.

“The disinfection kits and disinfection measures are an added cost for them, to the drivers, so we made a proposal to the LTFRB to raise the per trip cost by a fixed amount to help cover these items,” he said.

Meanwhile, TNVS drivers are not required to undergo COVID-19 testing before resumption of operations unless they are experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms. Grab PH has test kits prepared for their partner drivers. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

International travel still restricted under GCQ, PH Immigration bureau says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Friday that international travel restrictions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will still be implemented despite the easing of community quarantine protocols in Metro Manila.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that international travel restrictions imposed under the enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine are still in place unless these are lifted or eased by the national government.

“As a consequence, our operations at the NAIA are still downscaled and our personnel there are still on skeletal and rotational deployment,” Morente said.

“Nonetheless, we assure the public that we are always ready to resume full, normal operations in our international airports once the government decides to ease or lift these travel restrictions,” he added.

Meanwhile, Immigration acting port operations chief Grifton Medina said that BI officers at the NAIA currently serve an average of only 20 to 30 flights a day, a third of which are special flights that ferry medical supplies and other kinds of cargo into the country.

As for the passenger flights, Medina said these are mostly repatriation flights that transport returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and chartered sweeper flights that bring foreigners stranded here back to their home countries.

Under existing guidelines approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Infectious Diseases (IATF), only OFWs, Filipino citizens and their spouses and dependents, permanent residents, and foreign diplomats are allowed to enter the country.

All foreigners can leave anytime but Filipinos are not allowed to depart unless they are permanent residents or holders of student visa in their country of destination.

Metro Manila will be placed under GCQ beginning June 1 after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to ease quarantine restrictions.

Under GCQ, limited operations of public transportation will be allowed to resume and more businesses are allowed to reopen.

Checkpoints at curfew, hindi aalisin kahit ilagay sa GCQ ang Metro Manila at iba pang lugar sa bansa – Eleazar

Robie de Guzman   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Tuloy pa rin ang pagpapatupad ng quarantine control points ng Philippine National Police kahit pa ilagay na sa general community quarantine (GCQ) ang mga lugar na kasalukuyang nasa ilalim ng modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Ayon kay Joint Task Force Coronavirus (JTF CV) Shield Commander Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, dapat pa ngang paigtingin ang pagsasagawa ng checkpoint dahil tiyak na dadagsa ang mga tao sa lansangan kapag niluwagan na ang quarantine restrictions.

Ani Eleazar, nasa diskresyon ng mga hepe ng local police kung ililipat nila ang checkpoint o kaya ay magpatupad na lamang ng random checkpoint sa matataong lugar.

“Hindi natin kayang i-inspect lahat ng mga sasakyan sa kalsada kagaya ng ginawa natin during ECQ… It will create a monstrous traffic kung lahat ng sasakyan ay ating i-che-check,” ani ng opisyal.

“Kaya nga through modified checkpoint, random ang gagawin natin d’yan, depende sa discretion at peculiarity ng mga lugar kung saan nagsasagawa ng checkpoint,” dagdag pa niya.

Paliwanag ni Eleazar, bahagi ng PNP anti-criminality campaign ang checkpoint kaya hindi ito maaaring alisin.

Isa ang Metro Manila sa mga lugar na isinailalim sa MECQ hanggang Mayo 31.

Una nang napaulat na inirerekomenda na ng Metro Manila mayors na ilagay na sa GCQ ang Metro Manila simula sa Hunyo.

Ang Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases naman ay isinusulong ang pagpapatupad ng localized lockdown o quarantine sa mga barangay o bayan lang na may mataas na kaso ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

dahil sa posibleng pagluluwag ng quarantine restrictions, sinabi ni Eleazar na mas hihigpitan nila ang pagsasagawa ng inspeksyon sa mga establisimiyento upang masigurong naipatutupad ng maayos ang minimum health protocols na inilatag ng Department of Health.

“Dapat nga na magsagawa ng maraming inspection kasi doon natin makikita ngayon kung andon ba yung pagsunod sa mga protocols set by DOH,” sabi ng opisyal.

“Sa pakikipag-ugnayan at sa tulong nitong mga mall management and security officers nila ay makapagsasagawa tayo ng tamang implementasyon ng mga guidelines na ito,” dagdag pa niya.

Palalakasin din nila ang mobile checkpoint na isinasagawa ng mga tauhan ng PNP Highway Patrol Group.

“Ito ang magsasagawa ng Oplan Sita at Oplan Habol at magsasagawa ng mga spot inspection,” ani Eleazar.

Sinabi rin ng opisyal na tuloy pa rin ang pagpapatupad ng curfew sa ilalim ng GCQ ngunit hindi na hahanapan ng quarantine pass ang mga lumalabas ng kanilang tahanan.

“Mandated sa lahat ng mga quarantine status na meron pa rin tayong curfew sa mga non-workers sa gabi,” paliwanag niya.

Sa halip, mas hihigpitan ng pulisya ang pagbabantay sa pagsusuot ng face mask at pagpapatupad ng physical distancing measures kontra COVID-19. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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