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/

Better than Streaming: Let’s help the local cinema industry recover from its massive loss

It’s been two days since cinemas around Metro Manila officially reopened which is a welcome move not because I personally want to watch movies on the big screen inside the theater but because the local cinema industry will contribute to the economic recovery of our nation from this ongoing COVID-19 crisis. That being said, I urge you readers – who got fully vaccinated locally – who love watching movies to take time out to support the local cinema operators and their employees by visiting their venues, buying tickets over the counter and watch movies on the big screen while following the local health protocols (note: local cinemas have invested a lot in making their venues safe and sanitized).

Be reminded that streaming will NEVER match the grandeur and immersion of the cinema! The cinema is always better than streaming. Movie venue choices aside, local moviegoers now have the opportunities to watch A Quiet Place Part II  and the big blockbuster Dune (2021).

Going back to the topic of economic recovery, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis combined with all the restrictions imposed by the local, regional and nation authorities brought down the national economy in 2020 along with all the economic sectors and the employees. All of these also translate into a major loss of tax revenue for the local governments, provincial governments and the national government.

In the case of the local cinema industry, the shutdown of cinemas since the pandemic started in March 2020 resulted a huge, collective industry loss of revenue according to a BusinessWorld report. I’m talking about many BILLIONS of Pesos lost!

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

The cinema industry had P19 billion in foregone revenue from March 2020 to September this year, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairperson Mary Liza Diño-Seguerra said in a Teams video interview.

The loss had ballooned to P21 billion as of Oct. 11, Charmaine N. Bauzon, president of Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines, told PTV News.

Local government units, which charge 10% amusement tax per movie ticket, lost P1.09 million daily from the country’s more than a thousand movie screens, according to estimates by the National Tax Research Center.

“We earned P11.5 billion yearly from the box office [before the pandemic],” Ms. Seguerra said. “We sold about 52 million tickets each year.”

Cinema operators get 50% of ticket sales, while the other half goes to producers, who then give as much as a quarter to the distributor, who’s in charge of marketing and distributing the film to the public.

Last year, cinemas in areas under a more relaxed quarantine made a measly P327,000, Ms. Seguerra said.

Take note that before the pandemic started, the local cinema industry as a whole had a work force of 300,000 employees and those who lost their jobs and income really suffered. In the City of San Juan, the Manila Bulletin reported about the reopening of local cinemas there with Mayor Francis Zamora issuing statements and leading the inspection on the venues. Posted below is an excerpt from the Manila Bulletin article.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora led the inspection of cinemas in the city starting with the Greenhills Promenade Cinema.

Zamora inspected the health and safety protocols of the cinema such as the disinfection process of the establishment and the procedure of buying the tickets, which can be done before entry to the cinema or online, new seating arrangements with strict physical distancing, and the guidelines of actual movie viewing under the new normal.

I know how Filipinos miss watching movies in silver screens which have been shut down for almost two years due to the pandemic, but now the long wait is over. With the approval of the IATF, we are allowing the opening of our cinemas in the city, provided that we take extra care and observe stringent protocols as we are still facing threats of COVID-19 despite the easing of restrictions to Alert Level 2,” Zamora said.

I want to personally make sure that our cinemas in San Juan will be safe for all of us, not only for the moviegoers but for the employees of these establishments as well,” he added.

During Alert Level 2, the operational capacity of several businesses has been increased to accommodate more customers. It has also eased down quarantine restrictions in various indoor establishments and recreational venues including movie houses and cinemas.

Under the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines, cinemas can accommodate up to 50 percent of its maximum venue capacity, but only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed entry into the cinemas.

For added insight, posted below are two news videos for your viewing…

Going back to choices of movies, be aware that opening soon locally in cinemas are Black Widow (November 17) and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (November 24). For those who prefer Philippine movies, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will return to cinemas next month!

Once I again, I urge you readers based in Metro Manila and in nearby provinces who got fully vaccinated to come out to support our local cinema operators and make a contribution to economic recovery as you enjoy watching on the big screen again.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Now that cinemas within Metro Manila have reopened, are you planning to revisit them and watch movies on the big screens anytime soon? Does Dune (2021) interest you a lot? When was the last time you saw a movie inside the movie theater? Do you realize that as a paying customer, what you pay helps not only movie producers and cinema operators but also their employees and the varied government units (that collect amusement taxes)?

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

If you wish to join a group of movie enthusiasts and talk about cinema, visit the Movie Fans Worldwide Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322857711779576

COVID-19 Crisis: OCTA Research favors the suggestion about not requiring moviegoers to wear face shields inside the cinemas

Here in metropolitan Manila in the Philippines, local cinemas are set to reopen on November 10, 2021 which will be a very important day for the cinema operators and their respective employees as the restrictions related to lockdown and the current COVID-19 crisis kept them closed since March 2020. For updates about Metro Manila cinemas, I encourage you to follow the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP) Facebook page.

As the reopening of Metro Manila cinemas gets closer, it was reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) that the OCTA Research group favors the suggestion that the wearing of face shields inside cinema should NOT be required as such things are not only uncomfortable but will surely make movie viewing an unpleasant experience. Take note that only fully vaccinated people (those who got vaccinated with two doses of most brands of COVID-19 vaccines) will be allowed to pay and enter cinemas (limited to 30% seating capacity) under the rules of Alert Level 3. Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila was recently extended.

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

The OCTA Research said Tuesday it supports the suggestion on not requiring the wearing of face shields in cinemas.

For OCTA Research fellow Guido David, watching movies will not be enjoyable if the audience will be required to wear face shields. He noted that removing the requirement of wearing face shields in cinemas was also brought up in a forum.

We should still wear face masks, but face shields, that’s a different topic. That can be discussed, because in fact we were in a Go Negosyo forum and they were discussing about removing the requirement for face shields in theaters because it actually makes sense. If you go to a theater, it would not be an enjoyable experience if you are wearing a face shield,” Guido told ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

Asked if he supports removing the requirement of wearing face shields in cinemas, David said: “We would support it because I think the move is to allow only vaccinated people to enter theaters.

The reopening of cinemas was earlier allowed in Metro Manila as the region shifted to Alert Level 3. However, only fully vaccinated people will be allowed in theaters with an indoor seating capacity of 30 percent.

From this point on, we will find out soon enough how the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will react to what OCTA Research declared about face shields inside the cinemas.

Whatever their reactions will be, I urge Metro Manila readers among you my readers to support the local cinemas not simply for the sake of just supporting the cinema operators and their employees, but also to practice your freedom of choice for entertainment on the big screen!

If you want the best value for your money when returning to the cinemas starting November 10, I would suggest watching Dune (2021) in an IMAX cinema as that movie has scenes shot with IMAX cameras. The visual spectacle captured can be fully enjoyed on an IMAX screen and there is absolutely no way such greatness will be seen via streaming. In short, if you want the best Dune viewing experience, screw HBO Go, screw HBO Max, screw the pirates and go watch the film in the local IMAX cinema. For the residents of South Metro Manila reading this, the nearest IMAX cinema is inside SM Southmall in Las Piñas City. Better start making inquiries via social media now if you really want the IMAX experience.

Whatever your choice of movie or local cinema, I suggest you check out the most updated listing of movies and schedules. The cinematic viewing experience is always better than streaming. Don’t forget to check updates from CEAP.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Are you excited to return to the local cinema to watch movies with the big screen experience once again? Do you think the MMDA and Metro Manila mayors will make new moves to hamper the cinematic experience of moviegoers or even hamper the scheduled reopening of local cinemas? When was the last time you saw a movie inside the cinema? When was the last time you saw any movie inside the IMAX cinema?

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: 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: Guidelines on localized lockdowns in NCR ‘provisionally’ approved by IATF

Are you still disappointed over the extended MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) in Metro Manila which was the result of the recent flip-flop by the national authorities? You definitely are not alone as Marikina City’s mayor spoke out against the national government for their flip-flop and the Metro Manila mayors plus the MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) issued a resolution urging Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to consider easing the COVID-19 guidelines for fully vaccinated people in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The current MECQ will last until September 15 and we should not be surprised to see changes happening on the 16th as the IATF “provisionally” approved guidelines on the pilot implementation of granular lockdowns in Metro Manila according to an article published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Speaking of granular lockdown, take note what happened in a certain locked down residential community in Parañaque City.

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

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has “provisionally” approved the guidelines on the pilot implementation of granular lockdowns in Metro Manila, Malacañang announced on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, also acting as IATF-EID spokesperson, said the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) policy shift would only impose either the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or the general community quarantine (GCQ) with four alert levels in Metro Manila.

“Sang-ayon po dito sa policy shift na gagawin natin, dalawa na lang ang quarantine classifications. Ito po ang ECQ na ipapataw ng IATF o ‘di naman kaya ay GCQ (Based on the policy shift that we will carry out, there will only be two quarantine classifications. These are the ECQ that will be imposed by the IATF or the GCQ),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

He said the localized lockdown that would be pilot-tested in Metro Manila has four levels.

The IATF-EID is still ironing out the details on the implementation of alert level 4, the strictest level, Roque said.

Roque said all areas that would be placed under an alert level system should follow the protocols that are consistent with their alert levels and issued by the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19.

The classification of pilot areas and their alert levels will also be done weekly, unless otherwise specified, he added.

“Lahat po ng areas ay magpapatupad po ng granular lockdowns, sang-ayon po sa guidelines ng NTF. Ang pagkakaiba po nito, itong lockdowns na ito ay mas strikto (All areas will implement granular lockdowns, based on the guidelines of the NTF. The difference is these lockdowns are stricter),” Roque said.

With the implementation of stricter granular lockdowns, health and allied health professionals are the only ones who will be considered Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR), he said, noting that government workers in areas under localized lockdown would not be allowed to go out.

“‘Yun pong mga taong gobyerno ay hindi makakapagtrabaho kapag kayo po ay nasa ilalim ng localized lockdown. Hindi kayo pupuwedeng lumabas (Government workers will not be allowed to go out if their areas are under localized lockdown. They cannot go out),” Roque said.

He, however, assured that local government units and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would provide assistance to households that might be affected by the implementation of granular lockdowns.

“Magbibigay na po ng ayuda ang lokal na pamahalaan at ang DSWD para po hindi na kinakailangang lumabas ng kahit na sino sa mga lugar na naka-granular lockdown (Local governments and the DSWD will give assistance so residents of areas under granular lockdown would no longer need to leave their homes),” he said.

Roque did not mention when the pilot implementation of localized lockdowns would commence.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about the new guidelines for granular lockdown? Do you believe that the plan of using 4 alert levels for GCQ will cause a lot of confusion? Do you think that the national authorities will be able to finalize and issue the new guidelines before September 15?

How many people do you personally know lost their jobs because of the most recent flip-flop by the IATF resulting the extended MECQ? Do you believe that the IATF, the Metro Manila Council and the MMDA are paying sufficient attention to economic matters like job losses and the affected employees’ loss of income?

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: Trade Secretary Lopez proposes allowing vaccinated people to dine in food-and-beverage joints, and enter personal care service joints during MECQ

Nothing changes the fact that the restrictions imposed on businesses as a result of lockdown or the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) caused damage on the national economy in the forms of rising unemployment, added business hardship and the loss of income for the affected employees as the national authorities struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) declared that the nation’s economy would lose at least P150 billion per week in relation to Metro Manila and other areas being placed under the most restrictive quarantine measure while the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) announced that the economy should be reopened to prevent any more economic damage. ECOP already stated that lockdown is no remedy.

For the newcomers reading this, under ECQ and MECQ, dining inside food-and-beverage joints and availing of indoor services of personal care service businesses are forbidden. Restaurants, coffee shops and related food-and-beverage joints are limited to take-out and deliveries. Very recently, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has a proposal to help the food-and-beverage joints and personal care service providers and literally give more breathing room to consumers who have already been vaccinated. Take note that already the government announced that more than 50 million new COVID-19 vaccines will come into the country in September and October.

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

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is proposing to allow vaccinated people to dine-in in restaurants and enter personal care services establishments in areas under stricter quarantine measures.

In a Viber message to reporters, Lopez said this will help spur employment in those sectors.

Same MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) but [I] am pushing for allowing vaccinated to [be] allowed only in these restricted sectors like dine-in and personal care. Because we are saying that in these restricted sectors, those who are vaccinated are safer. So, we don’t expect an increase in severe critical (cases) and should not worsen ICU (intensive care unit) cases,” Lopez told reporters in a Viber message.

We pity the dine-in workers. About one million jobs and P1.5 billion revenues gone per week in the National Capital Region (NCR),” he added.

Lopez said that on top of these, 200,000 jobs in the personal care services sector in NCR were also affected.

“For other sectors, no need for distinguishing because both the vaccinated and unvaccinated are allowed. For example, both vaccinated and unvaccinated are allowed to go to malls or ride public transport,” he said.

“Again to clarify, [vaccinated should be allowed] only in restricted sectors during lockdowns like dine-in, personal care services, and meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions. If it’s not locked down, all vaccine status should be allowed subject to operating capacity,” he added.

Lopez, however, clarified that these should be allowed to operate at a maximum of 20- percent capacity.

“We believe in the vaccine. So, we should believe in the vaccinated. This should also serve as an incentive to those who are vaccinated and to encourage vaccination. With this, we help bring back jobs, open up these sectors,” said Lopez.

He said that once approved, this will be part of the new Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) guidelines.

Metro Manila and other Covid-19 critical areas were earlier placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until August 20.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) disclosed that the two-week ECQ will cost the Philippine economy P120 billion and aggravate poverty.

In relation to the details emphasized by Trade Secretary Lopez, the affected businesses within the restricted sectors can be relieved economically and already there are millions of vaccinated consumers available in Metro Manila to come in and support these businesses even though the maximum capacity is fixed at 20% under MECQ. The unemployed and the under-employed impacted by the ECQ/MECQ will finally get the opportunities to be hired and be able to earn much-needed income. That being said, it is a must that we pray in supporting Lopez’s proposal to get approved so that our nation as whole can recover better and that MECQ won’t be too damaging for businesses and workers anymore.  

Speaking of the National Capital Region (NCR), pay close attention as to how Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos and the members of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) will perceive and react to Lopez’s proposal of allowing food-and-beverage joints and personal care businesses to cater to vaccinated customers at limited capacity during MECQ. Take note that during the last ECQ, it was the MMDA and MMC who approved the restriction on outdoor exercise while businesses and their employees kept losing! Think about how these Metro Manila authorities think. That being said, it is essential to pray to our Lord to enlighten and guide all the government officials so they can do their jobs better and correctly.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you agree with Trade Secretary Lopez’s proposal to help the affected businesses during MECQ? If you are still unvaccinated, does this recent development encourage you at all to get vaccinated? If you are an owner of a food-and-beverage joint or a personal care services joint, what do you think about Lopez’s proposal in helping you and your 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

Business tycoon Ramon S. Ang calls Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz the trailblazer of the Philippines

As Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz received the promised P10 million reward from business tycoon Ramon S. Ang, she was referred to as the nation’s trailblazer in relation to the pioneering achievement she made for the Philippines during the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Business tycoon Ramon S. Ang with Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz. (photo from Ramon S. Ang Facebook page)

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

San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang sees Hidilyn Diaz as a game-changer after she ended the Philippines’ 97-year hunt for its first Olympic gold in Tokyo.

Hidilyn is the country’s trailblazer in our successful Olympic gold medal quest. After years of heartbreaks, she came through for us and we are very thankful as a nation,” Ang said on Tuesday.

Diaz, together with fiancé and coach Julius Naranja, personally received the PHP10 million reward Ang pledged for anyone who would capture the then elusive gold.

Diaz won the women’s 55-kg. weightlifting event at the Tokyo Olympics on July 26, making the Philippines a part of the Olympic gold medal countries’ list.

It also served as the biggest good news the Filipinos have ever received amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Her victory comes at a very crucial point in our country’s history when we are grappling with a pandemic and a lot of Filipinos are looking for hope as we fight this virus and cope with the difficulties it has brought,” Ang said.

Upon meeting at the SMC office in Pasig City, however, he gave Diaz a surprise gift.

Ang rewarded Diaz with two Magnolia Chick ‘N Juicy franchises that she could put up at her new condominium in Quezon City and at her hometown in Zamboanga City.

“With the franchise outlets, we will assist Hidilyn every step of the way in her journey as an entrepreneur so that she can also help other people in need of jobs. In addition to the physical stores, equipment, and training, we will also provide the initial stocks for free to get her started,” he added.

The generosity of Ramon S. Ang is truly amazing and genuine. Not only was the promised cash reward released to Hidilyn Diaz, he gifted her with commercial franchises which can add to our nation’s economy by creating opportunities for the unemployed to bounce back from poverty while providing choices to consumers looking for good products. I really like this because I truly believe that capitalism the way to prosperity and the most effective way to lift people up from poverty. Capitalism does socio-economic wonders while socialism only drags people down and ruins societies. As it is a fact that cash rewards/incentives from both the government and private sector cannot last forever as the cost of living only keeps going up, having a business that succeeds will keep prevent people from falling into poverty. To see Hidilyn Diaz gifted with business franchises is great!

For those who are not aware, Chick ‘N Juicy is a chicken rotisseries retail business that has many branches and it is being expanded. Chick ‘N Juicy sells chicken supplied by sister company Magnolia. Customers can order from them online with products like sweet roast chicken, garlic roast chicken, fried chicken drumsticks, chicken rice meals and more at https://www.chicknjuicyofficial.com/

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you happy about our nation’s Olympic gold medalist getting rewarded and gifted by tycoon Ramon S. Ang?

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

COVID-19 Crisis: MECQ in effect in Metro Manila until August 31, 2021

Finally, the surprise enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for Metro Manila has ended as the national government announced late Thursday night that the new level of restriction for the metropolis is the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) which is now in effect and will last until August 31, 2021. For the newcomers reading this, MECQ is supposed to be lighter than ECQ when it comes to restrictions.

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

The quarantine classification in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Laguna and Bataan has been downgraded from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to modified ECQ (MECQ), Malacañang announced Thursday.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte, upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EUD), approved the latest quarantine status in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Bataan, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“These latest classifications are without prejudice to the strict implementation of granular lockdowns,” said Roque, also acting as IATF-EID spokesperson, in a press statement.

Roque said Metro Manila will be placed under MECQ from Aug. 21 to 31.

Bataan, on the other hand, will be under MECQ from Aug. 23 to 31, he added.

Metro Manila, Laguna, and Bataan were initially placed under ECQ, the strictest form of community quarantine, due to the spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.

Roque stressed that despite the deescalation of quarantine level, religious gatherings should remain “virtual” in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Bataan.

He added that indoor and al-fresco dine-in services, as well as personal care services such as beauty salons, beauty parlors, barbershops and nail spas should remain prohibited.

Roque said local government units in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Bataan are likewise directed to improve the vaccination rates within their localities, as well as intensify the “Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategies to control the spread of Covid-19.

And here is a related news video to watch…

In an article by the Manila Bulletin, curfew hours in Metro Manila still remain and quarantine passes (QPs) are not required. MECQ also means no cash aid (ayuda) will be released by the national government. There are also other MECQ-related guidelines to follow in another article by the Manila Bulletin. As for the unpopular ban on outdoor exercise approved by the Metro Manila Council (MMC), that one has ended and therefore the freedom to exercise outside our homes has been restored but to a certain extent.

As seen in the details regarding MECQ, there is no real ease nor positive change for several businesses and churches. Restaurants, coffee shops and convenience stores that have tables and chairs are still prohibited from having customers dining inside and on the immediate space outside their joints. In a business sense, this is bad because take-out and delivery services are not good enough for food/beverage sellers to make their ends meet. People of faith, meanwhile, are still literally blocked from worshiping the Lord physically at the venues of their faith communities or ministries. As such, the online form of worship in Metro Manila is still the way but I can tell you from my experience that onsite, physical presence worship of the Lord is the better and more preferable way to worship Him. Online worship has its limits and it lacks the immersion that on-site, physical worship has.

That being said, I encourage you all reading this to pray to God to enlighten all the public officials (from the barangay up to the national level) to look up to Him and come back to Him for His guidance which they really need when it comes to managing the people and their communities as everyone still struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic. The public officials need prayers for the Lord to guide them, strengthen them and prevent them from getting lost.

It should be noted that just days ago, the Metro Manila Council left the decision on community control to national government. Just think about that! Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Benhur Abalos and the mayors met and that was all they could come up with – letting someone else decide for the many millions of people living and struggling in the National Capital Region (NCR).

As such, praying to the Lord to help the public officials is very much needed. It is a fact that each local government unit (LGU) in Metro Manila is struggling not only with their respective COVID-19 vaccine operations but also with all other functions.

Also pray to the Lord that the national government will be more accommodating to the businesses and churches that got negatively affected by these community quarantine levels. Pray to the Lord that the employees, the business owners, the people of faith, the pastors and ministries will be assisted and accommodated better.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction about the shift to MECQ for Metro Manila? If you are a manager or owner of a restaurant or coffee shop, how did the recent ECQ affect you and your 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: 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