national news

Public transport resumes with more expensive fares

May 4, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- Buses from one of Mindanao’s leading public transport firms are back on the road for the first time since the enhanced community quarantine was downgraded to modified community quarantine. Rural Transmit of Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) resumed operations on May 1st on its route in Cagayan de Oro City to Lugait, Misamis Oriental. On April 30, Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia issued Executive Order No. 40 placing the city under MCQ which allowed public transportation (jeepney, taxi, tricycle. trisikad and calesa) to operate within the city proper.  This now allows Iligan residents, who are dependent on public buses, to go home after they got stranded in other places. However, since buses from outside Iligan are not yet allowed to enter the city, the RTMI buses are operating meantime from their terminal at the Centennial Park at the boundary of Barangay Dalipuga, Iligan City and Lugait town in Misamis Oriental. Robert Abanid, RTMI dispatcher assigned at the temporary terminal, said six units of aircon and 12 units of non-aircon bus are now plying the said routes from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM. "We have to comply with social distancing and limit the number of our passengers as required by the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board). To cope with the unoccupied seats, we have to implement the regular fare which is P165 pesos for aircon and P135 pesos for non-aircon in lieu of the 'promo fare' before the COVID (pandemic)," Abanid said. RTMI was offering a ‘promo fare” of only P100from Cagayan de Oro City to Iligan City for both for aircon and non-aircon buses prior to the lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aircon buses can accommodate a maximum of 49 passengers and non-aircon buses 33 but with social distancing enforced, aircon units are limited to 25 persons at any one time and non-aircon, 17. From the boundary of Lugait town and Barangay Dalipuga, passengers have to disembark and take a jeepney to go to the city proper for P20 pesos, although fares can vary from P22-18, depending on the driver. Meanwhile, public utility jeepneys plying within Iligan City proper are also observing physical distancing and can only accommodate half of their usual capacity. An Armak Jeep that usually carries 26 passengers is now allowed only a maximum of 13, while smaller jeepneys with a 14-passenger rated capacity are only allowed seven at  one time, said Raul Permites, chairman of Coalition of Lanao del Norte Utility Transport for Change (CLUTCH). Thus, the CLUTCH has petitioned the LTFRB to allow them to collect P12 pesos per passenger (not 15 as earlier reported) for the duration of the quarantine.  Permites said the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 in Iligan already approved the request but CLUTCH is still waiting for the response of LTFRB Region X. Iliganons have mixed reactions to the proposed increase. Commuters Ruperto Ybañez and Jun Pacapat said a 100% increase of minimum fare to P15 pesos is quite expensive but they depend on public transportation to go around the city. "It is not okay with me but I am forced to pay the amount to get to my destination," Ybañez said. "I only have a daily salary of P300. If you take P30 from that for my fare, and 50 pesos for my lunch, how much will be left from my salary? But then, I also understand the driver's plight," Pacapat said. Joe Limbaring, a jeepney driver on the San Miguel route, said he has been charging P10 per passenger but if a passenger only gives him P7 he is fine with it. Flor Montebon, a jeepney operator on the Ubaldo Laya route, said she allowed her three drivers to operate the three units and she is not collecting rental but the drivers take care of their fuel. "Wala ko naningil og 'boundary' kay lu-oy man gud pero tubilan lang nila ang jeep. Ayha nako magningil kung mobalik na sa normal ang tanan, akong tabang sa ilaha, pero sila nalang magpa-gasolina," Montebon said. (I did not collect rental because I pity them. I'll only start collecting when we are back to normal. It's my way of helping them but they will have to spend for their fuel.)

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DA-DTI Kadiwa at Diskwento Karavan offers consumers more affordable options

May 4, 2020

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Northern Mindanao have launched a joint project of provide consumers with a wider array of agri-fishery products, basic necessities and other prime commodities through the Kadiwa at Diskwento Karavan (KDK), at the DA-10’s parking area.  DA’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita and DTI’s Diskwento Caravan have been integrated in the KDK, a beefed-up marketing initiative which brings diverse and reasonably priced essential commodities closer to the homes of Kagay-anons amid the COVID-19 imposed community quarantine.  “We have laid this out to give our consumers access to a one-stop shop offering fresh produce and manufactured goods closer to their homes to decongest major public markets,” said Carlota S. Madriaga, DA-Regional Field Office 10 (DA-10) regional technical director for operations.  “Affordability is a key feature of the items being sold in the KDK. Since the capacity of business establishments have been reduced, this is a big help for our consumers trying to get by during this crisis,” she added.  The KDK sells agri-fishery and other food products as well as basic goods at cheaper rates, since middle men have been eliminated and farmers and manufacturers linked directly to consumers.   “We value the safety of our personnel, suppliers and consumers. Proper physical distancing and wearing of face masks are imposed, and we encourage shoppers to bring their eco- bags and grocery lists, which will help them finish faster and avoid possible infections through congestion.”  All these measures and the selection of barangays to be served are being undertaken in close coordination with the Agricultural Productivity Office of the Cagayan de Oro city government and barangay officials.  Merchants included in the kick-off are Canitoan Farmer’s Cooperative, Miarayon Talakag Highland Farmers Association, Farmgrown Association of Claveria, San Miguel, Oyster Mushroom, Municipal Agriculture’s Office of Claveria, CNQ Agriventures, Barra Agro Industrial Multi-Purpose Cooperative, True Chef’s Choice, Inc., Great Grand Intention Foundation, Inc., Ginama and private individual seller, Imee Poklawan.  KDK is set to serve more Cagayan de Oro barangays in the coming days.#(DA RFO-10)

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DOTr issues guidelines for public road transport in GCQ areas

May 3, 2020

Starting May 1st, public transportation in moderate and low-risk areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) will resume operations at reduced capacity to ensure compliance with strict safety measures against COVID-19 transmission, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).  “Public transportation in the road sector will be available in areas declared under GCQ but we will strictly impose health safety standards at all times to ensure the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said DOTr Assistant Secretary for the Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Richmund de Leon.  All permitted PUVs and transport terminals and operators must adhere to all three essential components dictated in the protocol/guidelines - Safety, Capacity and Coverage/Scope.  Safety refers to guidelines that reduce contact, transmission, and spread of the virus through the mandatory use of face masks and gloves for drivers. Thorough disinfecting practices of vehicles, terminals, and even among passengers are also required.  Capacity and passenger load factors will be required for each mode of transportation to ensure that physical distancing is followed.  Passenger load for public utility buses (PUBs) and public utility jeepneys (PUJs) should not exceed 50 percent or half of the vehicle’s capacity, excluding driver and conductor.  For UV Express and taxis, passenger load should not exceed two passengers per row, except for the driver’s row where only one passenger is allowed. Tricycles, on the other hand, must not exceed one passenger in the side-car, and back riding will not be allowed.  As for private vehicle owners, private cars and motorcycles will be allowed to operate for the purpose of essential travels as defined by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).  Cars will only be allowed one passenger to occupy the front passenger seat, while front-facing seats shall not exceed two passengers per row.  Motorcycles are prohibited from having back ride passengers. The use of bicycles and similar devices are also highly encouraged, and LGUs are also encouraged to identify bike-lanes, or bike-only roads.  According to Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III, the official guidelines state that the mode of PUV that will operate in each route in the GCQ areas will be guided by the number of passengers that will be transported.  “PUV modes with higher passenger capacity such as buses will be prioritized consistent with the Department Order No. 2017-011 or the Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance.”  “In areas where buses are not enough to serve the actual passenger demand, or the road characteristics will not permit their operations, PUVMP compliant PUVs are the next priority.”  “In areas with unavailable buses and modern PUVs, PUJs and UV Express may operate. In areas were no other mode of public transportation is available, tricycles may be permitted to operate as determined by the LTFRB in coordination with the corresponding LGU,” Chairman Delgra said.  The LTFRB has already finalized the mechanism for issuing of special permits to allow PUVs to operate. Drivers and operators may apply for the permit, free of charge, through LTFRB offices or by email through LTFRB's online channels.  Transportation Assistant Secretary for Road Mark Steven Pastor said the guidelines are well thought of, and are aligned with the policies set by the IATF and DOH on social distancing.  “Social distancing protocols are our priority so we must prioritize vehicles that provide the least physical contact,” said Pastor.  “Modern buses and PUVs have bigger capacity and some are equipped with an Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) which prevent physical contact when paying fares so they are our priority choice to transport people in GCQ areas,” he added.  Private vehicle owners, PUV drivers and operators, and private or public transport terminal operators who violate the guidelines will be sanctioned and penalized.  The LTFRB, Land Transportation Office (LTO), Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (I-ACT), and authorized personnel of the IATF against COVID-19 will conduct daily random inspections in terminals and depots to ensure strict compliance with the service, sanitary, and operational requirements of the guidelines.  "The DOTr is also calling for the help of enforcement agencies such as PNP and local government units (LGUs) to help ensure that social distancing and sanitation is observed in terminals and vehicles in these municipalities," de Leon said. "Let us all do our part to safeguard the health of all drivers and commuters in the transport sector."  Meanwhile, any mode of public transportation in areas under the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), including Metro Manila, are still prohibited. (DOTr)

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Iligan City downgraded to Modified Community Quarantine

May 3, 2020

ILIGAN CITY - Mayor Celso Regencia announced Thursday that Iligan City would be downgraded to an “MCQ from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting May 1st. “This order shall take effect on May 1, 2020 until recalled, set aside, or revoked by the undersigned,” Regencia said in an announcement live over the Facebook page of the Philippine Information Agency – Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.  Under Executive Order number 40 declaring the MCQ most of the guidelines from the ECQ have been retained except the clustering of barangays and centralizing the issuance of home quarantine pass.  The Iligan Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 produces all the quarantine passes to be distributed to the city’s 40 barangays from whence the respective barangay council distributes it to the households. Like the previous executive order, only one member of the family is given a quarantine pass to be used to access basic necessities, pay bills and transact business on specific days as scheduled by the IATF on COVID-19. “This is to prevent market congestion specially that the city government has relaxed its community quarantine,” said Fire Chief Inspector Butch Baulete, Iligan City Incident Management Team Commander. Following are the groupings/clustering of barangays and their respective schedules for buying basic necessities, paying bills and transacting important business: Group 1 (Red): Mondays and Thursdays for Barangays Buru-un, Ditucalan, Maria Cristina, Suarez and Upper Tominobo; Group 2 (Orange): Tuesdays and Fridays for Barangays Abuno, Sta. Elena, Tambacan, Tipanoy, Tomas Cabili and Tubod; Group 3 (Yellow): Wednesdays and Saturdays for Barangays Mahayahay, Pala-o, Poblacion, Puga-an, Ubaldo Laya and Villaverde. Group 4 (Green): Wednesdays and Saturdays for Barangays Bagong Silang, Del Carmen, Hinaplanon, San Miguel, Santiago, Saray, Sto. Rosario and Tibanga; Group 5 (Blue): Tuesdays and Fridays for Barangays Bonbonon, Digkilaan, Dulag, Kalilangan, Lanipao, Luinab, Mainit, Mandulog, Panoroganan, San Roque, Rogongon and Upper Hinaplanon; and Group 6 (Violet): Mondays and Thursdays for Barangays Acmac, Bunawan, Dalipuga, Hindang, Kabacsanan, Kiwalan and Sta. Filomena.  The guidelines for visiting persons in Iligan remained unchanged.   “Those who intend to stay in Iligan City for more than one hour shall register themselves at the nearest checkpoint upon entering the territorial jurisdiction of Iligan City. Their registration shall be in writing and shall include such details as full complete formal and legal name, personal circumstances, complete address,  contact person, telephone and/or mobile number,” Regencia said. Returning residents of Iligan whether in vehicles or on foot shall  present proof of residence in Iligan City by means of a current, valid and pertinent government issued identification card/paper such as voter’s identification card (ID), employee’s ID, school ID, passport, seaman’s book, postal ID, and similar documents.  “They  shall register at the first checkpoints located at  their point of  entry to the City of Iligan (at Barangays Buru-un, Maria Cristina, Dalipuga, Abuno, Puga-an and Lambaguhon in San Roque),  their full  and legal names, complete address, contact person, telephone and/or mobile number and history of travel,” he added.

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Three repatriated seamen found positive in rapid tests

May 3, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- Three seafarers who arrived at the ports of Iligan and Ozamiz Wednesday (April 29) tested positive in rapid tests conducted by health authorities. The first batch of eight overseas Filipino workers, who arrived from Manila onboard the St. Michael the Archangel of 2GO Shipping, were among over 300 repatriated from their work abroad. Four are residents of Lanao del Norte, two from Lanao del Sur and two residents of Iligan City. Lyndon Calica, Head of Lanao del Norte Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Incident Command Center on COVID-19, said that one OFW, a resident of Kapatagan town, was swabbed for the RT-PCR test (RPT) to confirm results of the rapid test. “We have the same sentiments with Misamis Occidental that the people in Manila should have properly facilitated the certification of the OFWs and they should (have) announced it ahead, they should coordinate with the LGUs (local government units) concerned,” Calica said in a phone interview. The seaman, whose last country of assignment was Italy, is reportedly “okay” and is being closely monitored by the Health Emergency Response Team (HEART) at the provincial isolation center while the three others are quarantined at their respective LGU, Calica said. Later, one of the repatriated from Lanao del Sur also tested positive in a rapid test. They were earlier fetched by the medical team of Lanao del Sur IATF, were sent directly to the provincial quarantine facility in Marawi City according to LdS spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong. "They are now in Wao, Lanao del Sur. When they arrived in Wao, they were subjected to rapid test and one of them turned out positive. They are now isolated at Wao quarantine facility under strict monitoring. They are asymptomatic," Adiong said. Hours before they arrived at Iligan port, five other seafarers bound for Ozamiz City and other towns of Misamis Occidental, disembarked at Ozamiz port from the same vessel. One of them also tested positive in a rapid test conducted before they were brought to different isolation areas and are now awaiting the result of the confirmatory RT-PCR test. Meantime, two of the seamen repatriated to Iligan City are now undergoing “strict home quarantine” at their respective residences in lieu of undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Iligan City National High School (ICNHS), said City Health Officer Cherlina Caṅaveral.  The two repatriated overseas workers coming from Manila arrived Iligan port, past 1:00AM on Wednesday (April 29) onboard 2GO vessel, St. Michael the Archangel, with four others from Lanao del Norte and two from Lanao del Sur. However, the two Iligan residents have not undergone rapid tests unlike their six companions, one of whom tested positive of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. The local government unit (LGU) of Iligan previously prepared two rooms of the school in Barangay Mahayahay to convert it to an isolation area for Iligan residents repatriated during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We prepared this isolation area since April. This is complete with water and electricity. We have two separate rooms for male and female patients with ten bed capacity each. At the middle of the two rooms is a buffer zone where the donning and doping areas are and the health care station for the health care workers to stay in,” said City Councilor Laberto Macapagal, committee chairman on health in the city council. Placing a returning resident under a 14-day quarantine, even if he had already completed it from his place of origin, is a protocol mandated by the LGU to ensure the isolation of potential virus carriers. Caṅaveral said while the isolation area is already ready for use, it still cannot be activated since the memorandum of agreement regarding the terms of its usage between Iligan LGU and the Department of Education was not yet signed. “But we are putting them under strict home quarantine by monitoring them daily. We have team that visits them daily to check on their health and if they are really observing the strict home quarantine,” she added. Caṅaveral said the returning OFWs did not undergo rapid test because they already underwent the mandated complete health protocol administered by the Department of Health (DOH), before they departed from Manila, including the necessary quarantine. 

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Tribute to Frontliners - International Nurses Day 2020

May 3, 2020

Across  Asia, Europe and North America, hotels and even property developers are transforming their silent but intense appreciation to all frontliners by lighting up their buildings with symbols and emojis.    Millions of front line employees from various specters of professions had so bravely rendered hours of chores each day, risking their lives to serve us or to save lives since the COVID-19 alarm sounded late last year. Thousands had succumbed while serving and saving us.   Leading the frontliners in this critical period are nurses and doctors. We salute them as much as we salute our supermarket cashiers and baggers, bank tellers, airline crews and staff, hotel teams, street cleaners, Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) teams manning the check points, security guards, delivery boys etc... the list goes on.   To the nurses, there is a special recognition and honor that uncannily happens to their profession this year. They will be commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale on May 12, 2020.  Florence Nightingale was the English lass from a well off family who heeded the call from the Lord to serve the sick. The gallantry, dedication, and virtue of this Lady with the Lamp will hold a special meaning this month around the globe as we struggle combating COVID19 and and caring for the infected. Florence Nightingale died in 1910 at the age of 90.   It is our fervent prayer that we could all honor our nurses and doctors to orderlies; counter staff to roomboys; social welfare teams to policemen; barangay tanods to security guards; our religious leaders of all faiths and all others in the front lines in these difficult and challenging times.   On May 12, 2020, we hope to pay homage to the Lady with the Lamp and our current unsung heroes in this pandemic by lighting our properties with a 'heart' to show appreciation, support, and solidarity. Send out a 'heart message' to your friends and family who are in the frontlines or dedicate songs to them on the radio. We hope you could participate in this simple yet meaningful gesture of giving our hearts to the men and women who are keeping us safe and healthy.   

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