national news

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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MisOcc seaman tests positive in COVID-19 rapid test

May 1, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- A seaman who arrived in Ozamiz City on April 28 has tested positive in a COVID 19 rapid test. One of five sailors who arrived onboard the St. Michael the Archangel of 2GO Shipping at Ozamiz City port past 9:00 PM on Tuesday, the group was part of the over 300 seafarers repatriated to the country when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. The sailor who tested positive in the rapid test done at the pier was immediately whisked by his local government unit to an isolation area.  Misamis Occidental Governor Philip Tan announced in a social media post the result past 9:00 AM on Wednesday, April 29, saying male sailor would still have to undergo a swab test “as recommended by our doctors to confirm the result of the rapid test”.  “He is now in one of our holding centers alone in one room but he is okay. We hope in the swab test, it will be negative,” Tan said. On Monday, Tan was criticized online for social media post announcing that the provincial government of Misamis Occidental and the local government of Ozamiz agreed not to let the seafarers disembark because their arrival was not cleared with the province of Misamis Occidental and the local governments (LGU) of Ozamiz City, Sinacaban, Jimenez and Plaridel where the seafarers were headed to from Ozamiz pier. Tan said Misamis Occidental would provide funds to the five seamen through their relatives to help them through their quarantine and have them repatriated after passing through the process for the safety of Misamisnons. In the guidelines of Tan’s executive order that placed the entire province of Misamis Oriental, including Ozamiz City, under general community quarantine, overseas workers and or residents of the province who are stranded in places outside the province must secure “written clearances from the governor of his authorized representative” before they are cleared to enter upon presenting a certification of completion of the 14-day quarantine period from the municipal health office or city health office where they come from. Thereupon the LGU where the person is going home to will meet his at the border and bring him directly to the isolation facility for 14-day quarantine. However, Tan changed his decision on Tuesday afternoon saying the provincial government is allowing the seafarers to disembark following their compliance with the health protocols. The decision was reached following consultations with the provincial health office and the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. General Medical Center (MHARSG MC), the Department of Health (DOH)-accredited hospital where COVID suspect cases are admitted. “We will send a medical officer who will conduct a health check and rapid test to all five passengers, check their documents and after clearance we will send them directly to their LGU holding facilities,” Tan said.

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Due to Social Distancing: Iligan Transport Group asks for interim fare increase

May 1, 2020

ILIGAN CITY ----- After the Iligan City Government allowed the resumption of public transport subject to social distancing, an Iligan based transport group is asking for a “temporary” increase in the minimum fare for the duration of the ‘Modified Community Quarantine” (MCQ). Instead of seven pesos, the Coalition of Lanao del Norte Utility Transport for Change (CLUTCH) is requesting the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Committee on Transportation in Congress to allow them to temporarily increase the minimum fares in Iligan City to 15 pesos  for as long as social distancing is mandated under the MCQ. LUTCH is an Iligan-based association of around 2,000 jeepney operators and drivers covering 24 routes in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental.  “Temporary lang mani, bisan karon lang nga limitado ang isakay namo nga pasahero tungod kay mag-observe man sa social distancing. Para makabawi ug maka-renta mi sa jeep,” said CLUTCH Chairman Raul Permites. (This is only temporary because of the limited number of passengers we are allowed under social distancing. We requested this so that we are able to pay the rental of the jeepney.)  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, public utility jeepneys, taxis, calesa, trisikads and other public transports are allowed to operate within the city provided they observe social/physical distancing and with allowable number of passengers (including the driver/cuchero): Jeepneys: (half maximum capacity);taxis: maximum of three (3) persons; Calesa: maximum of three (3) persons; trisikads: maximum of two (2) persons.   “Gusto nami magsugod ugma (May 1) sa pagpamasahero pero basin dili mi makabayad sa renta kay gamay raman pud ang manggawas kay limitado paman pud ang lihok sa tawo. Hulaton pa pud namo ang among request nga ma-approve,” Permites said.(We want to start tomorrow (May 1) but we may not be able to pay the rental because there are only a few passengers going out since their movements are still very limited. We also want to wait for our request to be approved.)

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