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Limited passengers still imposed for PUVs: LTFRB

May 14, 2020

LAND Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 10 director Aminoden Guro reiterated on Thursday that public transport conveyances in the region shall remain plying in a limited capacity even as quarantine measures have been ordered lifted starting on May 16 in Northern Mindanao.     Guro said that public transport vehicles must continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines earlier imposed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).      This order covers all jeepneys, buses, taxicabs, multicabs and public vans, he said.     “Even as there will be no more GCQ in Region 10, social distancing must still be enforced because this is essential to our health,” he said.     Guro also pointed out that they are now undergoing a dry run of the public transport modernization program particularly discouraging the overlapping of routes.     “For instance, naa na man tay modern PUV sa syudad, mas ma-prioritize sila kay sa mga old jeepneys routes ilabina diha sa highway from Opol to Bugo. Mas maayo g’yud nga dili mag-overlap ang mga ruta so sila ang dapat i-prioritize na 100 percent na ang biyahe after GCQ kining mga modern coaster,” Guro said.     Guro added that LTFRB 10 will strictly enforce on May 16 for all jeepneys operators to install partitions on their units as precautionary measure for social distancing system.     “This will be a great help to our enforcers para dili na mano-mano ang pagkuwenta sa mga pasahero. It must be the operators’ initiative,” he said.  On the other hand, Guro is also calling on all taxi drivers especially those queuing at ports of entries like Laguindingan airport, Macabalan pier and westbound public terminal to strictly get the names, addresses and contact numbers of their respective passengers.     As Northern Mindanao eases into new normal, there is an expected influx of passengers coming from other places.

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Zubiri appeals for GCQ retention in Bukidnon

May 14, 2020

BUKIDNON Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. has asked the national government Wednesday morning to retain the  general community quarantine measures in the province.     Zubiri’s plea came after the national Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) classified the entire Northern Mindanao as a "low-risk" area due to its low number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases.     Under the low-risk status, local governments are ordered to adopt minimum health standards and to loosen their community quarantine protocols.     As Zubiri made the plea to the IATF-EID, Department of the Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año directed that local and provincial governments categorized under "low risk" areas may impose a "modified" GCQ.     According to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, GCQ areas may loosen restrictions on the movement of people and work may resume under “new normal” practices such as the wearing of mask, social distancing, and other health protocols .     Prior to Año's announcement, the Bukidnon Provincial Board passed a resolution appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte and the IATF “to retain and extend under the [GCQ] status and be authorized to observe and maintain the GCQ protocols in its quarantine control points in the boundaries of the province of Bukidnon”.     Zuburi said lifting the GCQ would put the people of the province in danger of the coronavirus contagion since many of its municipalities shared a boundary with several provinces.     To date, Bukidnon has only one confirmed Covid-19 case -- a barangay official from Valencia City who attended a cockfighting derby in Davao City.     “We followed every order that you gave us, to the police, and we are proud to say that we are successful. Please listen to the people of Bukidnon,” Zubiri said in his letter of appeal. (PNA)

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MinDA forms special team to help poor access gov’t funds

May 14, 2020

DAVAO City – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has created a special team to help people access available financing or grants from the government.     In a Facebook post Wednesday, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the initiative is part of MinDA's preparation for the post coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) Recovery Program and a support program for the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BPBPP) pushed  by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.     He said the program will be known as "Assistance in Loan Access for Livelihood and Agriculture Industries (ALALAI)", which will provide free facilitation services to farmers, fisherfolk, and women who would like to start a small business.     The MinDA ALALAI Special Team will determine and identify the various government loans, emergency assistance, and grants program per agency. It will also undertake an information drive both through the mainstream media and social media and face-to-face interaction to inform the public of the loan and assistance programs.     “It will also assist prospective applicants in the preparation of the feasibility and financial studies and other loan documents and link up prospective loans and grants beneficiaries with the banks or agencies with lending or financial assistance programs,” he said.     Piñol added that a separate team will later be formed to closely monitor and supervise the implementation of the projects funded under the ALALAI Program.     He noted that billions of pesos in government assistance and loan funds for livelihood and other economic activities are virtually gathering molds in bank vaults due to lack of borrowers.     Among the government assistance which, he said, were not fully utilized are the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of the Department of Labor (DOLE) livelihood assistance.     He pointed out that ACEF which is collected by the government from the importation of agricultural products offers a PHP1 million loan to individuals and PHP5 million to cooperatives and associations involved in agriculture and fisheries at a very low interest rate of two percent.     The OWWA, on the other hand, offers livelihood assistance for returning OFWs so they could start a business and settle down in the country for good.     He added that the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies, like the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and even the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have funds, both for individual farmers and fishermen, and local government units with very low access rates.     “There are two main reasons why these funds are not fully utilized -- one is most people do not know about the programs. And even if they know there are such programs, the voluminous documentary requirements are so tough that the ordinary farmer and fisherman would rather go to the 5-6 lenders to borrow money,” Piñol added. (PNA)

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Schools to begin classes with psychosocial sessions: DepEd

May 14, 2020

PUBLIC schools will be holding psychosocial interventions at the start of the new school year on August 24, officials of the Department of Education in Region-10 (DepEd-10) said Wednesday.     Dr. Arturo B. Bayocot, DepEd-10 director, said the program is part of the different approaches or modalities in learning in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.     "Even in the curriculum that has been put in place, when we open our classes on August 24, they (teachers) will not teach academics that instant. The first week of school will be spent on psychosocial interventions, mental health interventions," Bayocot said.     He also said that for the entire first week of the school year, discussions will be focused on safety, and psychosocial needs.     However, given the limited number of psychologists to handle all schools in the region, teachers and resident nurses and medical doctors were given training modules in handling psychosocial intervention.     Dr. Myra Yee, DepEd-10 Health and Nutrition Unit medical officer, said that the "new normal" in the education sector now includes both DepEd personnel and learners trained in health and psychosocial protocols.     These include, Yee said, the emphasis on "bio-safety," which seeks to identify "vulnerable" students so that proper interventions can be made.     "We are already training school health nurses, doctors, including guidance counselors through webinars. Aside from understanding bio-safety, are also forgetting the reality that there are mental health issues and psychological (problems) also involved," she said.     Myron Gil Talosig, DepEd-10 Education Support Services Division head, said teachers in Region 10 are in the best position to hold psychosocial interventions because a number of them were involved in previous training since the time of Marawi City siege in 2017. (PNA)

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Wage hike, more perks for businesses pushed

May 12, 2020

    The measures would ensure the success of the "Balik Probinsya" initiative being advocated by Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, said MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.     “Seriously, I cannot understand why rural workers should receive lower salaries than those who work in the cities. Personally, I see this discriminatory wage rates (whose constitutionality could be challenged) as one of the reasons why many job seekers flock to the urban centers,” Piñol said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.     Go said the government should learn from the experiences being encountered in the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis, and provide long-term solutions to recurring problems in urban areas, especially Metro Manila.     The senator said these recurring problems accelerate the spread of diseases due to densely-populated communities in urban growth centers.     If the government increases wage rates and incentives for companies to establish processing facilities in the provinces, Go said there will be massive reverse migration to the rural areas.     Piñol agreed, saying workers will be earning more because they could do some food production activities on the side while processing companies would realize more profit because they no longer have to haul raw materials from the rural production areas to their factories.     MinDA also proposed an action plan supported by legislation to ensure the sustainability of the "Balik Probinsya" program.     Pending the passage of legislative action, Piñol said an executive order directing the preparation of a national framework for the Balik Probinsya program and direct the cooperation of all agencies and sectors involved to jumpstart the initiative.     He added that MinDA may be tapped for the implementation of this directive for Mindanao as provided for under Republic Act 9996. (PNA)

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CDO school to open with ‘new normal’ set up in July

May 12, 2020

IN keeping with the culture of “new normal” as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, a Catholic multi-level school here is set to start the school year by introducing non-traditional arrangements for its students.     The Jesuit-run Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (XU) said Sunday it will open its grade school, junior and senior high school and college (except for graduate school, law, and medicine) campuses in July.     All its undergraduate schools will follow a quarterly schedule, with a college semester composed of two quarters.     The first semester is divided into two quarters, July to mid-September and mid-September to November, and December to February and March to mid-May.     For school year 2020-2021, the school will be adopting “flexible learning arrangements” consisting of two components designed to adjust to the public health crisis, XU president Fr. Roberto Yap said.     Those components, Yap said in his May 7 memorandum to the XU community, include home-based learning, and cautious return to on-campus learning.     “We plan to begin SY 2020-2021 in July 2020 following Home-Based Learning and then shift to Cautious Return to On-Campus Leaning when the government will allow return of physical classes on campus,” Yap said.     Home-based learning will consist of portable learning packets (hard and soft copies), online learning (synchronous and asynchronous), and online student support.     Courses that cannot be delivered by home-based learning according to XU standards will be postponed to a later time, he said. 'Flexible learning'     Yap said the cautious return to on-campus learning will strictly enforce the observance of physical distancing, a limited number of students in a classroom, safety and sanitary precautions, and limited large gatherings.     The flexible learning, he said, is a combination of those components to ensure that minimum standards of the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education are met.     XU will implement these new learning arrangements with the following aspects in mind: outcomes-based and performance task assessment, self-directed learning, regular consultation with teacher, peer-to-peer learning, guidance and counseling services, student support services, Ignatian formation, reduced student loads, smaller class sizes, staggered schedules, and several shifts.     For the graduate school and professional schools of law and medicine, their school year will start in August and will end in May the following year.     “Although the tuition fee increase has already been approved, there will be no tuition increase for SY 2020-2021 and some miscellaneous fees will be reduced in view of flexible learning,” Yap said.     “We will also work hard to increase our scholarship and financial aid programs. These measures are taken to help parents cope with the present crisis. Each school will release an updated assessment of tuition and fees, modes of payments, and payment installment options before enrollment," he added.     During May to June 2020 and in the course of the school year, XU’s teaching faculty will be undergoing systematic and intensive training so they can facilitate quality flexible learning, especially home-based learning, Yap said.     “XU is also strengthening IT support and improving access to internet and gadgets for faculty and students. Those who have insufficient access to the internet and gadgets will be provided hard copies of the portable learning packets,” he said.     “We realize for basic education students, especially our grade schoolers, successful home-based learning requires the active engagement of parents and guardians. We are counting on you to work with us so that your children's learning doesn't stop due to the pandemic,” Yap added.     To prepare for cautious return to on-campus learning, XU will be making the necessary and critical infrastructure adjustments to ensure all four of school’s campuses (Divisoria, Pueblo, Macasandig, and Manresa) remain safe for everyone even now and in preparation for the time when some form of on-site education can already happen, he said.     “Under flexible learning, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities will unavoidably be very limited. But under these unusual arrangements, we will do our best that flexible learning is marked by the characteristics of Jesuit education,” he said.     “We will be insistent and incessant in forming our students to become men and women for others. Rest assured that we will always aim for Jesuit whole-person education that guarantees academic competence while providing ‘cura personalis’ (personal care) for each learner,” he added. (PNA)

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