COVID-19 Crisis: Philippine economy expected to grow 6% to 7% this year

Even though there are lots of news reports and social media updates about the current COVID-19 surge here in the Philippines, there is still the expectation that the national economy will grow 6% to 7% this year, according to an article published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Philippine News Agency article. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippine economy is expected to return to its 6 to 7-percent growth trajectory in 2022 after nearly two years of grappling with the pandemic despite the threat of the Omicron variant, according to the investment banking arm of the Metrobank Group.

First Metro Investment Corporation (FMIC) said this year’s economic growth will be driven by sustained domestic demand, easing inflation, election expenditures, and accelerated government spending on infrastructure projects.

“Notwithstanding the ongoing pandemic, and Omicron sparking the third wave of infections, we are still optimistic that Philippine growth will further accelerate and get back on its trajectory of 6-7 percent in 2022,” FMIC president Jose Patricio Dumlao said in a virtual briefing Tuesday.

Dumlao said the economy registered a 4.9-percent growth in the first three quarters of 2021 and the growth momentum likely spilled over in the fourth quarter given further economic reopening and easing mobility restrictions.

He added business and consumer confidence are also cautiously positive given wider availability of vaccines and relaxation of lockdowns, quarantine measures, and mobility restrictions.

University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) economist Dr. Victor Abola said the 6 to 7 percent gross domestic product (GDP) projection this year will be led by the industry sector –both construction and manufacturing.

Abola said services will still be the lagging sector as the pandemic measures hit hotels and restaurants.

“The Philippine situation is that there is recovery but still on the way to reach the pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

The country’s GDP posted a -9.5 percent full-year growth rate in 2020 compared to its 5.9 percent pre-pandemic performance in 2019.

Abola said the business process outsourcing (BPO) is a major contributor to the resiliency of the economy amid the pandemic.

“And it’s not the same as usual call centers, etc. You can see there are new, emerging segments and that is what companies are focusing on,” he said, citing insurance, life sciences, healthcare, and data analytics, among others.

Aside from BPO revenues, FMIC chairman Francisco Sebastian said the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) remittances are boosting the economy.

It would be nice to see such economic expectations come true because the Philippines still has yet to recover the massive economic loss of 2020 (the first year of the pandemic). Apart from COVID-19 infections, there is also the factor of governance linked with declaring restrictions that can get in the way of economic recovery and make things harder for everyone. Do not forget the August 2021 sudden ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) declaration (additional reference here) and the ban on outdoor exercise within the national capital region that the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) are responsible for. There was also the national government’s flip-flop on declaring quarantine statuses of September 2021. Think about all the economic damage caused by those three developments!

With the May 2022 national and local elections coming, we can only hope that those in government – especially the Metro Manila local government units – will set aside their egos and make decisions wisely. The nation’s economy cannot afford another massive lockdown as well!

With regards to the Omicron variant that was believed to be a factor behind the current COVID-19 surge around the country, the authorities should seriously consider acquiring a lot more Sputnik vaccines (for more on Sputnik vaccines effectiveness against Omicron variant, click here and here).

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you think that the Philippine economy will grow 6% to 7% this year even though there is a COVID-19 surge of new infections happening? Do you believe that government officials will do better in making hard decisions related to the current surge?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Micro and small business owners can apply for government loans for 13th month pay

Christmas is gradually approaching here in the Philippines. That being said, the 13th month pay will be released to employees during the month of December, specifically before December 24. As the COVID-19 crisis brought the national economy down in 2020, its effects combined with lockdown and restrictions implemented by varied authorities (example: the surprise Metro Manila ECQ of August 2021) are still felt by economic stakeholders and lots of businesses continue to struggle to survive.

The release of the 13th month pay is indeed the next challenge for businesses to do. Fortunately for the micro and small business owners, they can come to the national government to start applying for loans with the 13th month pay in mind, according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Philippine News Agency report. Some parts in boldface…

Micro and small enterprises that are having difficulty in giving the 13th-month pay of their employees can apply for a government loan, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement on Sunday.

The Labor chief made the call as he reminded employers that the grant of 13th-month pay is mandated by law. He, however, assured establishments that are still struggling amid the reopening of the economy of the government’s support through the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp).

“Let me remind the employers that the grant of 13th-month pay is mandatory. We issued a Labor Advisory where we maintained that no exemption and no deferment will be allowed on the payment of the 13th-month pay. So, with this loan facility from SB Corporation, there is no more reason to not give the 13th-month pay,” Bello said during the ceremonial launch of the loan program with the Department of Trade and Industry and its financing arm, SBCorp on Friday.

As of Nov. 12, a total of 25 loan applications amounting to PHP5.052 million were already approved by SBCorp.

Qualified borrowers are the owners of micro and small enterprises that have implemented flexible work arrangements and registered under the DOLE Establishment Reporting System as of Oct. 15, 2021.

The loan program can cover up to 40 employees per establishment and the loanable amount is at PHP12,000 per current employee.

It is a zero-interest rate, no collateral loan that is payable in 12 months, inclusive of the three-month grace period.

“I encourage our employers, especially yung mga nahihirapan pa (hard up firms), to avail of this facility so that they can comply with the mandate to pay our workers with what is due them, especially this Christmas season,” Bello said.

The above article ended stating that micro and small business owners may apply for the loans at www.bayanihancares.ph

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you a micro or small business owner struggling to come up with ways to raise funds to pay the 13th month funds to your employees? Have you prepared yourselves to apply for the loans announced by the government? How hard has the lockdown and the set of restrictions been to your business operations this year?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Safety and sanitation at local cinemas emphasized

It has been days since Alert Level 3 was officially implemented all over Metro Manila which allowed for the reopening of several businesses and allowing them to accommodate more customers as the limitations on capacity were modified. Among the businesses authorized by the to reopen were the cinemas or movie theaters although the actual reopening has yet to happen. In fact, I passed by the cinemas at a local mall I visited this past Sunday and I saw they were still closed. Take note that there were attempts to push for reopening Metro Manila cinemas (click here, here and here).

As the reopening is still pending, there is this Manila Bulletin article about local cinemas will strictly implement health protocols. To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt plus a few relevant videos about safety and reopening. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses in the Philippines will strictly implement health protocols when these establishments reopen soon.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 and allowed the reopening of cinemas with restrictions. Only fully vaccinated people will be admitted and seating capacity will be limited to 30 percent.

The actual date of reopening of cinemas is still subject to confirmation and the public is advised to wait for further announcement, according to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

Cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed for 19 months due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That is the main goal right now,” said CEAP Charmaine Bauzon. “We have devoted the past 19 months of cinema closure identifying solutions and precautions based on science. We will implement these measures to confidently welcome back movie fans to cinemas and send them home safe.

Cinemas are safe spaces

Bauzon assured “the public that cinema is a safe place. In fact, LGUs [local government units] have converted some theaters into vaccination centers, and no super-spreading were ever reported, even though people waited inside for hours.

CEAP cited a recent study in Germany which concluded that cinemas are safer than almost any other indoor environment as long as safety guidelines are followed like wearing face masks, physical distancing and proper air ventilation.

The German study considered the following factors in its conclusion: People spend an average of only two hours at a cinema; people inside the cinema simply sit down and face the same direction which is known to reduce transmission risks; and people are not talking to each other during a movie, which minimizes possibility of infection.

Cinemas to strictly impose all safety protocols

According to CEAP, besides adhering to the IATF-mandated health standards, it also developed the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” protocols patterned after the “CinemaSafe” measures set by America’s National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and endorsed by epidemiologists.

I personally support the reopening of cinemas not just because I love watching movies in them but also because cinemas and their employees can contribute a lot to the economic recovery from this COVID-19 crisis we are all living with. When it comes to viewing movies in the comfort of home, I prefer Blu-ray over streaming anytime. Still the very best way to enjoy movies in their full glory is still inside the cinema! I can never forget the day I first saw Wonder Woman (2017) in the IMAX cinema at SM Southmall which was really an immersive experience. I even replayed that same movie in another cinema which had lazy boy seats. I also saw Logan, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and X-Men: Dark Phoenix on IMAX screens in different cinemas. When it comes to regular cinemas, I viewed Write About Love, Shazam!, and Joker to name some. Eventually I got to watch these movies in the comfort of home mainly on Blu-ray (which is always better than streaming) but I can confirm to you all that in my experience, the best place to view movies is still the cinema!

This iconic scene was at its grandest only in the cinema and I was fortunate to watch it on IMAX format!
The immersion of Aquaman on the big screen inside the IMAX cinema was indeed top-notch.

The good news here, as revealed in the excerpt above, is that local cinemas will exert efforts to make their venues clean and safe as their inevitable customers will be those who have been fully vaccinated. Cinema viewing will be far from normal but the latest developments related to Alert Level 3 are very welcome as it is the first step to returning to normalcy as the nation deals with community management and vaccinations for COVID-19. Above all, I urge all of you fully vaccinated people of Metro Manila and around the nation reading this – support the local cinemas! Put a stop to streaming and take the opportunities to watch movies in the movie theater because that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming!

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you eager to watch a movie inside the cinema here in Metro Manila as soon as it reopens? Have you been fully vaccinated already? What upcoming movies do you hope to watch in the local movie theater? Have you been following the CEAP on social media lately? Do you think that the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) really care about the plight of the cinema operators and their employees?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila under Alert Level 3 from October 16 to 31, 2021

Finally, business and residents of Metro Manila will be dealing with lesser restrictions as the national authorities declared that the metropolis will be under Alert Level 3 (previously Alert Level 4 from mid-September to mid-October) from October 16 to October 31, 2021 as reported by Philippine News Agency (PNA). Lesser restrictions should mean more reopening of the economy, more people can attend indoor worship services at churches (note: being vaccinated may be required) and more.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

The alert level status in Metro Manila will be downgraded to Alert Level 3 from the current Alert Level 4 beginning Oct. 16, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

This, after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to ease restrictions in Metro Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press statement.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, approved the recommendation to place the National Capital Region under Alert Level 3 beginning October 16, 2021 until October 31, 2021,” said Roque, also acting as IATF-EID spokesperson.

He said the IATF-EID also approved and adopted the revisions to the Guidelines on the Implementation of Alert Levels System for Covid-19 Response in the Pilot Areas.

A copy of the new guidelines has yet to be made public.

Metro Manila’s shift to Alert Level 3 came amid the drop in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections in the country’s metropolis.

The relaxation of alert level in Metro Manila will pave the way for the reopening of more businesses.

Now watch this related news video from GMA Network…

Staycation in Metro Manila allowed to resume

The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that staycation within Metro Manila will be allowed under Alert Level 3, specifically in accredited hotels. Unsurprisingly there are certain limitations.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA report. Some parts in boldface…

Staycation is now allowed in accredited Metro Manila hotels as the region eases to Alert Level 3 from October 16 until the end of the month, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Thursday.

Individuals of all ages may check-in for staycation. However, to ensure safety of all guests, only those 18 years old and above who are fully vaccinated shall be allowed to book their stay,” the DOT said.

Under the amended guidelines, only DOT-accredited staycation hotels with government-issued safety seal certification will be allowed to accommodate staycation guests.

Cinemas in Metro Manila cleared to resume operations

Speaking of the reopening of businesses, cinemas in Metro Manila have been cleared to resume their operations but with a set of limitations. Still, this is indeed a breakthrough because Metro Manila cinemas have been closed (note: use of cinemas as temporary vaccination sites do not count as operations) for a very long time and the nation’s cinema industry had an estimated 300,000 employees. Take note that months ago, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and cinemas were among those businesses. However the mayors of Metro Manila opposed the decision.

To put things in perspective regarding the newest development, posted below is an excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer report. Some parts in boldface…

Cinemas and movie houses may already operate when Metro Manila eases to Alert Level 3 starting Saturday, October 16.

Under the updated guidelines on the pilot implementation of the government’s new COVID-19 alert level system, cinemas and movie houses are allowed to operate under Alert Level 3 at a maximum of 30% indoor capacity for fully vaccinated individuals and 50% outdoor venue capacity.

All cinemas and movie house workers and employees should also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as minimum public health standards should be strictly followed.

Personally, I am glad that cinemas have been cleared to reopen within Metro Manila as the metropolis itself is the single largest region where movie theaters are located at and it should add to the economic recovery our nation badly needs. The cinema operators and their employees have suffered way too long! That being said, I urge you to observe how the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will react to the clearance for the reopening of cinemas. Will the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and MMDA oppose the IATF and keep the cinemas shut down again knowing that many of their constituents have been vaccinated over the past several months? We will find out soon enough.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? If you are a business owner who badly needs customers to avail of services indoors, are the approved standards for Alert Level 3 good enough? If you want to worship the Lord on Sunday during worship services indoors at your local church, were the mentioned changes good enough? What do you plan to do once your local cinema reopens?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: More support for businesses by means of easing restrictions

Are you a business owner who has been struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic here in the Philippines? On the national level, more support for businesses by means of easing the restrictions has been pushed for by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III according to a recent news report by GMA Network.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the GMA Network news report. Some parts in boldface…

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III on Tuesday called for the need to open up more of the economy in the final quarter of the year, for businesses to recover and be able to pay their dues.

According to Concepcion, the fourth quarter is crucial for businesses given the historically higher consumer spending amid the Christmas holidays.

“We have to open the economy because this is the last quarter. This is time when most negosyantes can get back what they lost in the previous months. Babayaran nila mga 13th month pay, may utang nila sa bangko, sa suppliers [They will have to pay the 13th month pay, their loans in the banks, with suppliers],” he said during the Laging Handa virtual briefing.

Concepcion has been pushing for the imposition of “bakuna bubbles” or pockets of micro-herd immunity among closed groups such as homes and workplaces.

Under the proposed measure, vaccinations will be mandated for a range of indoor gatherings in a bit to boost the country’s immunization efforts and only allow privileges to those fully vaccinated.

At present conditions with only 30% indoor dining allowed for fully vaccinated individuals in Metro Manila, Concepcion said businesses do not gain much, noting that this should be increased to at least 50% to carry businesses over to 2022, or even 70% by November or December.

“Ito ang panahon that we should start to live with COVID. Kung pabagsak ang [If there is a downtrend on the] trajectory ng infection level, then we should open up more and more and then keep an eye, watch out if it reverses then we pull back and we can push back,” said Concepcion.

“For now, it’s only one quarter left ’til the end of the year. Bigay na natin ‘to sa mga negosyaante para mabuhay sila ’til next year. [Let’s give this to the businesses for the thrive until next year],” he added.

In relation to the news above, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) called for businesses to be open on all alert levels. The Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP) appealed to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow the limited operations of cinemas under the Alert Level 4.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about Joey Concepcion’s statements on supporting businesses a lot? Do you feel confident about the further reopening of the national economy? Do you think that the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will understand Concepcion’s pro-business push and make wise decisions this time around?

Can you imagine the MMC and MMDA recommending another enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to the IATF in the near future that will surely destroy jobs and hurt businesses all over again?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: A new attempt to reopen cinemas in Metro Manila under Alert Level system

It has been so long since the cinemas in Metro Manila have been closed and have not screened any new films since the start of the pandemic which negatively affected the local cinema industry’s operators and their employees. 300,000 employees to be precise.

Early this year, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and cinemas were among those businesses. However the mayors of Metro Manila opposed the decision and according to the Manila Times’ news report, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos noted that “movie theaters are enclosed and air-conditioned spaces where people stay for more than 30 minutes, conditions that increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.” Abalos lamented that there was this fear of a possible spike in COVID-19 infection if cinemas were allowed to reopen. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a memorandum calling for the reopening of cinemas in GCQ (general community quarantine) areas starting March 5, 2021 but the said businesses remain closed.

That was back then and by now, many millions of residents of Metro Manila have been vaccinated for COVID-19, many businesses went through the Safety Seal program and a new system of community control has been implemented. Since the pandemic started, cinemas in Metro Manila were shut down with the exception of some cinemas that were turned into temporary venues for COVID-19 vaccination.

Now there is renewed hope for Metro Manila cinema operators and their employees as the Manila Bulletin reported that the IATF will discuss reopening cinemas under the Alert Level system.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…

Malacañang said the government’s pandemic task force is set to discuss the possible reopening of cinemas in areas under the Alert Level 3, part of the new system being implemented in Metro Manila response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP) appealed to the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow the limited operations of cinemas under the Alert Level 4.

In his press briefing on Thursday, October 7, Roque said that the IATF will discuss the reopening of cinemas but not in areas under Alert Level 4.

“Ang alam ko po nasa agenda ‘yan mamaya ng IATF pero ang pagbubuaks po na pag-uusapan po ay Level 3, hindi Level 4 (I know it’s part of the agenda of the IATF later but the reopening that will be discussed will be in Alert Level 3, not Level 4),” he said.

Under the current guidelines for the pilot implementation of the Alert Levels System for COVID-19 response in Metro Manila, cinemas will be allowed to operate at a maximum of 50 percent venue capacity under Alert Level 2.

In February this year, the IATF allowed the reopening of traditional cinemas in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) but Metro Manila mayors opposed this decision in fear that it may trigger superspreader events.

In a Facebook post, the CEAP appealed to the IATF to allow the reopening of cinemas, ensuring that the industry values the health and well-being of its employees and moviegoers.

According to CEAP, the cinema industry has ensured that all employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The group likewise said that a number of cinemas have been awarded the Safety Seal Certification by their local government units (LGUs) which affirms that they are compliant with the minimum health standards set by the government.

The Manila Bulletin report ended mentioning that theater managers have gone through occupational safety and health training.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you believe it is high time for cinemas in Metro Manila to reopen now that many millions of people in the metropolis have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and a lot of businesses have made efforts to meet the requirements of health protocols (and the Safety Seal program)? Do you believe that the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council (MMC) actually care about the state of the 300,000 employees of the nation’s cinema industry? Do you think Abalos and the Metro Manila mayors will still make decisions out of fear as far as movie theaters are concerned?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: More than 43,000 businesses certified with Safety Seals

Since its implementation months ago (click here, here and here) the Safety Seal certification program has covered a lot of business establishments and offices (including government). Recently, it was reported by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that more than 43,000 business establishments nationwide have been certified safe as Safety Seals were issued to them. This is really good news because our nation badly needs economic recovery as a lot of workers lost their jobs and income as a result of the last enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that happened in Metro Manila as well in other regions. The national economy has clearly been damaged not only by COVID-19 but also by the lockdowns (note: observe closely how the top officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Metro Manila Council think and act when making their recommendations to the IATF).

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

A total of 43,332 public and private establishments nationwide have been issued safety seal certifications, an assurance to the public that health protocols are put in place amid the quarantine restrictions.

The safety seal certification program indicates the compliance of establishments to the minimum public health standards (MPHS) set by the government.

In a news release issued Tuesday, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the certification program is beneficial to the country’s recovering economy as it boosts the confidence of consumers in going out and patronizing business in the new normal with the assurance that a business establishment is compliant with health protocols.

He encouraged more businesses to adopt the seal as an effective measure in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Businesses can do their share in the fight against the pandemic and create a healthy space for consumers to transact their purchases and for employees to gainfully and safely earn a living,” Lopez said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told owners of establishments, especially those in areas under strict quarantine restrictions, to take the time to apply for a safety seal.

Applying for a Safety Seal is not mandatory. However, business establishments are highly encouraged to apply since this will also help them attract customers which eventually leads to increased sales and profit,” he said.

Since its implementation in May 2021, a total of 85,731 applications were received by the issuing agencies as reported by the Safety Seal Technical Working Group (TWG); 50.54 percent or 43,332 applications were approved while 11.50 percent or 9,858 applications were either denied or referred to the appropriate agency.

The remaining percentage represents those that are still in the inspection process.

“I commend and congratulate the establishments that have taken the lead in securing their Safety Seal certifications. This will build confidence that their respective companies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their stakeholders and workers,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Under the program, a business establishment is eligible to apply for a safety seal given that it is duly registered, adopting the Staysafe.ph app or any other local government unit-mandated digital contact tracing application and strictly following and implementing the MPHS.

“The implementation of the Safety Seal Program is a very laudable initiative that highly reinforces our country’s response to combat Covid-19. As we gradually reopen our economy, it is important to ensure that our people are safe, and adherence to Minimum Public Health Standards is one vital key to this aspect,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) also reaches out to tourism establishment owners to get the seal.

“The Safety Seal certification program bodes well with the DOT’s priority to ensure the health and safety of both tourists and tourism workers. Let us continue to make travel fun and safe for all,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

The Safety Seal Technical Working Group assured the public that the government exerts the best efforts with a whole-of-government and whole-of-society coordination in support of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategy.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: As a consumer, are you confident that economic recovery will happen over the next twelve months? Are there still many business joints in your local community that are operating without Safety Seals? Do you believe that the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council should be held accountable for every job lost as a result of their recommending ECQ to the IATF?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila still under Alert Level 4 until October 15, 2021

In case you missed the news, the national authorities extended the Alert Level 4 status on the entire Metro Manila until October 15, 2021, according to a Manila Bulletin news report. While the said status looks the same, there were some changes made in favor of certain businesses as well as churches organizing indoor worship services which I personally like.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Manila Bulletin. Some parts in boldface…

The government’s pandemic task force has extended the pilot implementation of the new Alert Levels System for coronavirus (COVID-19) response in the National Capital Region (NCR) until October 15 but agreed to relax some of the Alert Level 4 restrictions.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as Metro Manila’s Alert Level 4 status ends on September 30.

In a statement on Thursday evening, September 30, Roque said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious DIseases decided to extend the pilot run of the new COVID-19 response strategy until October 15, 2021.

While Roque’s statement did not specify if Metro Manila will be kept under Alert Level 4, the second-highest of the five alert levels, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said confirmed in a text message that the region will still be under the same alert level.

Meanwhile, Roque said that the IATF has approved the recommendation to increase to 20 percent the operational capacity of indoor services such as dine-in, in-person religious services, and personal care under Alert Level 4 for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The IATF initially allowed the said services to cater to the fully vaccinated indoors at only 10 percent seating capacity.

Operational capacity for outdoor dine-in, religious, and personal care services will remain at 30 percent.

The task force also approved the recommendation to reopen fitness studios and gyms at a limited 20 percent capacity for fully vaccinated individuals. However, gym workers should also be fully vaccinated.

Both gym clients and service providers are required to wear face masks at all times. Group activities are not allowed.

According to Roque, the said indoor services are allowed to increase their operational capacity by another 10 percent if they have a safety seal certification.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? If you are a business owner who badly needs customers to avail of services indoors, are the recent changes good enough? If you want to worship the Lord on Sunday during worship services indoors at your local church, were the mentioned changes good enough? Is your local government unit (LGU) doing a sufficient job on having you and your fellow community members vaccinated for COVID-19?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: DTI Secretary Lopez pushes for easing of protocols for fully vaccinated people

Previously, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez proposed to allow vaccinated people to dine in food-and-beverage joints as well as enter the personal care service establishments during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). This past weekend, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that the DTI Secretary is back and called for the easing of protocols for people who have been fully vaccinated and Metro Manila could be the region to have such moves pilot tested within.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has endorsed tweaking of community quarantine protocols by allowing more mobility for fully vaccinated individuals.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the People aired over the weekend, Lopez told Duterte that “it is about time to change our protocol” in terms of easing some restrictions for the vaccinated population.

“We were discussing the need to have (a) different approach in terms of solving Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019); not just lockdowns,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

The DTI chief said under the new protocol, fully vaccinated individuals could be allowed in restricted economic activities, such as dine-in services in restaurants and personal care services.

He said this would allow safe reopening of the economy as fully vaccinated people have protection against the Covid-19.

People with complete vaccines are unlikely to develop severe to critical Covid-19, he added.

These are labor intensive. These sectors, there are 2 million individuals employed in dine-in restaurants. In salons, there are around 400,000. This is nationwide,” Lopez said.

The trade official said this could be pilot tested in Metro Manila, as the National Capital Region has more than 50 percent of its eligible population for Covid-19 vaccines already got their jabs.

The above article ended stating that the guidelines of the protocol are being finalized. It is very clear that lockdown and restrictions on businesses result a massive loss of income and a rise on unemployment. The DTI Secretary’s proposal is part of an effort to ensure that the Philippine economy will recover and rebound, and if you have been paying close attention to the number of Metro Manila cities that have been vaccinating their patients, there are now millions of fully vaccinated people in the National Capital Region (NCR) combined. In the City of Las Piñas alone, their fully vaccinated patients had reached almost 315,000 as of September 11, 2021. In Muntinlupa City, the number of fully vaccinated patients is almost 200,000.

You travel along Aguirre Avenue inside BF Homes subdivision and you will see lots of restaurants, coffee shops and personal care service providers located along the long road. A lot of them have been struggling because of the prohibition on customers from entering and spending time inside those business joints. You go to Filinvest City in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, and search for a place to have a nice meal at only to be disappointed that you cannot dine inside and will have to order for take-out. Take-out and delivery are the current options that food-and-beverage joints have when it comes to serving their customers but those options are not good enough to help them survive. For me, DTI Secretary Lopez’s proposal makes sense and it will help not only the struggling businesses and the unemployed, but also improve economic activity.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about Secretary Lopez’s latest move? Do you believe it is time to ease the protocols with the many millions of fully vaccinated people in Metro Manila?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: ECQ in Metro Manila to be extended beyond August 20?

The Manila Bulletin reported yesterday that Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos confirmed that he and the National Capital Region (NCR) mayors will meet very soon to talk about the possible extension of the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) which itself was announced to last until August 20, 2021. Meanwhile, a GMA Network news report states that the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) expressed that a lockdown is not the remedy and that the reopening of the economy is necessary.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report regarding Abalos and the Metro Manila mayors. Some parts in boldface…

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said he and the mayors of the National Capital Region (NCR) will discuss the possible extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period in the metropolis this coming week.

Abalos made this revelation in an interview over DZBB radio on Sunday, Aug. 15.

“Martes or Miyerkules mag-uusap po kami, marami kang babalansehin diyan (We will talk either Tuesday or Wednesday, you have to balance a lot of things there),” said Abalos, who is the concurrent chair of the Metro Manila Council (MMC).

He said the factors that need to be considered in such talks are the number of those who will have no work as a result of the possible ECQ extension, the hospitalization rate for coroanvirus disease (COVID-19) cases, and the number of vaccinated persons in Metro Manila.

“Kasi kung mag-i-ECQ ka, ayuda nanaman yan eh (Another round of ECQ means another round of cash aid),” he pointed out.

Abalos reiterated in the interview that the mayor-members of MMC have yet to come to an agreement on whether or not to extend the imposition of ECQ, contrary to a news report over the weekend.

“Hindi pa po nag-uusap tungkol doon, pag-uusapan pa lang po (We haven’t talked about that yet, but we will),” he noted.

The report quoted MMC chair, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez as saying that the local chief executives have agreed during a meeting to extend the ECQ up to Aug. 30. Abalos has denied this, saying that Olivarez was just misquoted.

In addition, Abalos and the Metro Manila mayors should be aware of the presence of the Lambda variant in the Philippines. For sure that will be discussed in their meeting.

Now, we focus on the economic side with this excerpt from the GMA news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) on Saturday said reopening of the economy is necessary to prevent further economic damage and job losses, along with continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and adherence to health protocols.

“It’s time we learn that lockdown is not the remedy,” ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a statement.

“Let’s compromise, we have to think that the economy is more important and we have to live with COVID-19,” he said.

Ortiz-Luis made the statement amid speculations of possible extension of the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila after August 20.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said that the possibility of extending the ECQ in Metro Manila for another three weeks is not yet on the table, and talks of a five-week ECQ are mere rumors and disinformation.

Citing government estimates, Ortiz-Luis said lockdowns cost the economy P150 billion a week, or P300 billion for the two-week ECQ.

Further, he pointed out that the estimated lockdown losses are on top of business closures that lead to unemployment.

“It would have been much productive and useful to channel even a fifth of these losses to strengthen our healthcare system to address the cases and for prevention measures,” the ECOP chief said.

Ortiz-Luis, likewise, noted that the number of deaths related to the coronavirus is small compared to those who die due to other diseases, and even suicide and hunger.

He said there is thus a need to intensify monitoring of severe cases as a large majority of COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic.

“Let us not be fixated on the numbers. Instead, let us intensify and fast-track our vaccination.

“Let us not forget practicing health protocols and comply with quarantine classifications. Continue adding hospital rooms, facilities, COVID-19 centers…,” he said.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you think that the MMDA and the Metro Manila mayors will recommend an extension of the ECQ knowing that such a move will require another round of releasing cash aid/ayuda? Do you think the ECOP is correct with the economic damage estimates of P150 billion per week of lockdown?

Within your city of residence, are you satisfied with the way that your local government and its partners are organizing the registration, set-ups and COVID-19 vaccination operations?

Did you hear the recent news about a fully vaccinated patient (two doses in Mandaluyong City) who somehow got a third shot of COVID-19 vaccine in another city?

Still within your city, how many people do you personally know lost their jobs because of the most recent ECQ? Are there any business owners you know who had no choice but to scale down operations or shut down entirely all because of the ECQ?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673