COVID-19 Crisis: During SONA, President Marcos declares no more lockdown

During his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., stated that there would be no more lockdown in the Philippines in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, according to a Manila Bulletin news report. Take note that new cases of COVID-19 have been rising nationwide but they have not reached the point of overwhelming the healthcare system.

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

“We will no longer implement a lockdown.”

This was among the most resounding remarks President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. pronounced during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25, that lasted for more than an hour.

The President said while there are new variants of the coronavirus being discovered at the present, the Philippines can no longer afford to go through another lockdown, so he pronounced that under his administration, there will no longer be lockdown.

“Sa ating sitwasyon ng pangkalusugan, nariyan pa rin ang banta ng Covid-19 lalo’t may mga nadidiskubreng bagong variant ng coronavirus, pero hindi na natin kakayanin ang isa pang lockdown (In our health situation, the threats of new Covid-19 variants are still here, but we can no longer afford another lockdown),” Marcos said.

“Wala na tayong gagawing lockdown (We will no longer implement a lockdown),” the President added, earning an applause from the legislature.

Marcos said health protocols will, however, be implemented depending on the current situation.

For added context, watch this Inquirer news video below.

In relation to President Marcos’ remark of no more lockdown, the Department of Health (DOH) it will act to strengthen the nation’s healthcare system. The DOH shall carry out the directives of the President on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while improving access to primary and specialty healthcare. Both the DOH and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have been directed by Marcos to organize another rollout of booster shots for COVID-19.

Personally, I strongly agree that there should be no more lockdown even if there would be another surge of COVID-19 cases. As we have seen before, a single lockdown caused heavy damage on the economy (limited or shut businesses, loss of income, increased unemployment) and on people. I believe our nation has what it takes to live on with COVID-19, move forward and rise up stronger from the crisis. To achieve true forward momentum, there is still the need to organize wide-scale COVID-19 vaccination operations (note: the national government has to deal with stored vaccines nearing expiration), declare a lot more people eligible for the 2nd booster shot (note: DOH still needs to do any real work on this) and convince people strongly to follow health protocols. There is also the possibility of modifying the COVID-19 alert level system. What President Marcos declared in his speech is clearly related to the COVID-19 exit strategy.

In relation to all of these, I urge you and members of your local community to get vaccinated or boosted, and keep following health protocols to truly achieve improved resistance against COVID-19. Never let the anti-vaccine fanatics fool you, even though they become violent and/or more aggressive towards you and your local community with their lying and fearmongering.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about President Marcos’ no more lockdown remark? Do you believe that the Philippines can move forward with COVID-19? Has anyone from the anti-vaccine extremists been hounding you, or even harassing you? Are many members of your local community eager to get their 2nd booster shots?

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, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

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

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

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: A collective push to make face shields non-mandatory in Metro Manila

It has been days since Alert Level 2 was declared all over Metro Manila and the result was the increase presence of people – including minors – at the parks, the shopping malls and food-and-beverage joints. This past Sunday, I noticed more vehicles traveling north on the Metro Manila Skyway which I found surprising as Sunday traffic is normally light. Vaccination for COVID-19 in the metropolis continues to grow and the national average of daily new infections has been below 5,000 per day for some time now. Things are looking optimistic.

As for the face shields that local have been compelled to use for some time now, there is a collective push to make them non-mandatory in Metro Manila. For one thing, face shields make verbal communication harder (as people are already wearing face masks). Another thing is that face shields can be quite inconvenient, even uncomfortable to use whether outdoors or indoors. Surely the local believers of face shields keep on preaching that the said things provide greater protection from COVID-19 but does the rest of the world agree with them? Locally, the OCTA Research group expressed that face shields should not be required inside cinemas.

More recently, it seems that the mayors of Metro Manila and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) want to scrap the use of face shields (note: there will still be specific places that require face shields) and make their recommendation to the national authorities, the Manila Bulletin reported.

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

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the scrapping of mandatory use of face shields in the National Capital Region following mutual agreement among Metro mayors.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said Monday, Nov. 8, that the use of face shields will no longer be required except for “critical places.”

Critical areas, according to Abalos, are the hospitals, barangay health centers and public transportation.

“Ang napag-usapan namin sa faceshield number 1, ito yung isusugest ko sa IATF, na tanggalin na ho ang face shield hindi na gawing mandatory except for critical places (What we discussed about the faceshield was that the lifting of its mandatory use except for critical places. I would suggest that to the IATF),” Abalos said in a TeleRadyo interview when asked about what was Metro mayors’ say on removing the use of face shields.

Once approved by the IATF, the use of face shields will no longer be necessary in malls, Abalos added.

Last week, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. Jonathan Malaya disclosed that DILG Sec. Año will be proposing to the IATF the lifting of the same policy as Metro Manila already deescalated to Alert Level 2 status.

For his part, Senator Manny Pacquiao expressed support on lifting the mandatory use of face shields, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Pacquiao, who is running for Philippine President, also expressed his awareness about economic recovery and lessening the burden people have been living with.  

Going back to the Metro Manila Council and the MMDA, it has been reported by GMA Network that a recommendation or an appeal will be submitted to the IATF. Take note that the IATF is the top authority on COVID-19 matters and policies here in the Philippines.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you think about this latest development? Do you think that the Metro Manila mayors and the MMDA, who are partly responsible for the August ECQ and even implemented a ban on outdoor exercise, are sincere about face shields right now? Are you sick and tired of being required to use face shields? What is the one thing you despised the most about face shields?

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

I Love Israel: Israel to host Filipino experts and share to them technologies and strategies to deal with COVID-19 more effectively

This past July, I blogged about the confirmation of the exchange of scientists between the Philippines and Israel which itself is related to the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and the development of ways to recover from the pandemic with regards to public health, society and the economy.

Very recently, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that the State of Israel will push through with hosting Filipino experts and orient them with the ways and means on tackling COVID-19.

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

The Israeli government is looking forward to hosting a group of Filipino experts to share firsthand its strategies and technologies in effectively dealing with the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The planned visit was revealed by Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss on Thursday during the “Dealing with Delta and other Pandemic Challenges Lessons” forum organized by the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Israel has innovations and quite a lot of new developments and we’d like to share (these) with the Philippines and this delegation, who we hope will visit this November. (They) would be able to see with their own eyes what are the opportunities and we’d be happy to share them,” he said.

Last July, a team of Israeli medical experts also visited Manila to share their success in the national vaccination campaign, which was followed by another group in August.

The second delegation gave their recommendations on ways to further improve systems and procedures in handling Covid-19 patients, including infection control protocols and hospital management.

Israel has been hailed for its rapid vaccination drive, successfully inoculating 70.7 percent of its population as of October 19.

It was also among the first countries to rollout booster shots after experiencing a dramatic increase in its Covid-19 cases last June and July despite the number of its fully vaccinated citizens.

Although the Delta outbreak is still not over, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier said Israel is now starting to overcome this wave, giving credit to the country’s pandemic management strategies including the aggressive booster campaign and introduction of “green pass” for fully inoculated individuals to access events and facilities like cinemas, hotels, etc.

In the Thursday forum, infectious diseases and Covid-19 specialist Guy Chosen noted that booster shots have now become Israel’s “main mitigation tool” against the Delta variant.

“[W]e could continue and operate our commercial life, our cultural life, sports events, education system during the fourth Delta wave thanks to the rollout and effectiveness of the third dose, the booster campaign,” he said.

Citing a research published on medRxiv this October, Chosen said the rate of coronavirus infection and severe illness across all age groups was “substantially lower among those who received a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.”

The above details are wonderful. Filipinos need all the help and expertise they can get from their Israeli counterparts. Take note that these past few months, things were hard for millions of residents of Metro Manila as they struggled under the decisions and tactics of the local, metropolitan and national authorities. I’m talking about the most recent enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila (favored by the Metro Manila mayors who even set terms for the national government to provide assistance) that took effect shortly after the general community quarantine (GCQ) was declared. There was also the sudden ban on outdoor exercise approved by Metro Manila’s mayors as well as the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) flip-flop that affected many in the metropolis which caused the mayor of Marikina City to react.

Since the sudden Metro Manila ECQ of August and the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) that followed, economic damage happened once again as people lost their jobs and income, and businesses struggled with the added difficulty as a result of the restrictions on capacity of customers and on their operations. Fortunately, a revision of the community quarantine and management happened using the alert levels approach which came into effect this past September.

Since October 16, 2021, the restrictions on Metro Manila were downgraded to Alert Level 3 and the result was more customers flocking to businesses which I personally witnessed in Muntinlupa City. Similar boost of economic activities, vehicular traffic and people moving around were also seen in other parts of the metropolis. As of this writing, things are looking better as the daily number of new COVID-19 infections went below 10,000 and more people got vaccinated. In recent times, the mayor of Las Piñas City stated that herd immunity is within reach based on their statistics on COVID-19 vaccination.

Going back to Israel, I am thankful to our Lord for their generosity and willingness to help the Philippines in the fight against COVID-19 as well as developing ways to recover from the effects of the pandemic. I hope that the authorities there in Israel will take a closer look at the situation of Metro Manila and examine how the top officials of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) think and act when it comes to COVID-19. These local government and metropolitan authorities can use the help of Israel on managing people, their communities better than before.

As for the Filipino scientists who will be hosted by the State of Israel, our entire nation’s health is at stake and what they will learn will be crucial. For those reading this, I urge you to support Israel-Philippines relations.

If you truly believe in Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Heavenly Father wholeheartedly and you continue to be faithful (not religious), you should be aware that Christians are meant to stand united with Israel, love the Jewish people and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You can do your part supporting Israel by donating to Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Do not forget to read the Holy Bible, then pray in tongues to the Lord in the privacy of your room with the door shut.

Always be the fearless and aggressive church of Lord Jesus! Always stand in support of Israel!

In ending this I Love Israel piece, posted below are Israel-related videos.

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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: 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: Marikina City Mayor speaks out against national government over flip-flop related to extended MECQ for Metro Manila

Someone had to speak out about the unpleasant surprise that affected us Metro Manila residents and stakeholders. This is about the most recent flip-flop that the national government committed regarding quarantine control over the National Capital Region (NCR) and Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro slammed the national authorities which the Manila Bulletin thankfully magnified by reporting about it.

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

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro slammed the national government on Wednesday for its last minute decision to defer placing the National Capital Region (NCR) under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and retained it under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until September 15.

“Tingin ko, hindi lang mga negosyante ang nagalit, madami ding mga mayor ang nagalit. Dapat may kahandaan talaga at hindi magdulot ng kalituhan sa ating mga kababayan yung mga ganitong pangyayari (I think not only the businessmen were angry about the decision, even the mayors were also infuriated. There should always be preparedness in these situations to avoid confusion),” Teodoro said in an interview with DZBB Wednesday morning.

“Tandaan natin, Inter-Agency Task Force ito, IATF, naririto na lahat ng departmental agencies operating at the secretary’s level kaya dapat kung may mga pahayag, dapat maging malinaw ang mga ito. Pangalawa, yung mga guidelines, yung mga implementing mechanisms nito kung papano ipapatupad ay malinaw, at hindi lang sa malinaw, kundi napapanahon dapat ang pagpapatupad (Remember, this is an inter-agency task force. All departmental agencies operating at the secretary’s level are here, that’s why all announcements should be clear. Second, all guidelines and implementing mechanisms should be clear, and not just clear, but timely as well),” he added.

Teodoro said Metro Manila mayors, as well as the IATF, held a meeting yesterday regarding the quarantine classification of Metro Manila.

“Hanggang kahapon nung magmeeting kami ng umaga, nagsimula ang meeting ng alas nueve ng umaga hanggang alas dose, ala una, eh hinihingi nga namin yung malinaw na guidelines, pero wala pang maibigay sa amin. May naibigay na draft, pero hindi pirmado (Yesterday, we had a meeting that started at 9 a.m. and lasted until 12 or 1 p.m. We were asking for the clear guidelines. However, they did not give us any. They just provided us with a draft, and it was not even signed),” Teodoro said.

“Tapos, after two hours, eh nabalitaan namin na nagkaroon ng meeting ng mga alas tres ng hapon na nag emergency meeting ang IATF at hindi na nakausap muli ang mayors buhat noon (After two hours, we found out that the IATF held an emergency meeting at three in the afternoon, but the mayors were left out),” he added.

Teodoro said all the mayors were asking for are clear guidelines for the GCQ with granular lockdown system’s implementation because a lot of preparation are needed for it, especially in terms of manpower and logistics.

“Narinig nalang namin yung pahayag sa media na (extended na ang MECQ) (We just heard the announcement in the media that the MECQ was extended),” Teodoro said.

Wow! The details in the above excerpt are quite revealing! The Metro Manila mayors met with the IATF and the latter provided the local government heads an unsigned draft in response to the request for guidelines. Then the IATF had an emergency meeting leaving the mayors out. Something seems fishy and the Mayor of Marikina City had the courage to reveal publicly what exactly happened.

For the newcomers reading this, Metro Manila was supposed to revert back to general community quarantine (GCQ) as announced by the national authorities and then the flip-flop happened shortly after. As I mentioned before, businesses and their employees in the food-and-beverage sector as well as those in the personal care services sector have been negatively affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) itself does not make life easier for them. And then there is the lack of an explanation from the national authorities about the flip-flop.

Already one local business was reported by CNN Philippines to have been affected negatively by the national authorities’ flip-flop. I encourage you to read the news article.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction about Marikina City Mayor Teodoro’s slamming of the government over the flip-flop? Do you think the IATF is working hard right now to prepare for the next announcement on community quarantine in Metro Manila? Are the members of your local community ready for a potential granular lockdown like what happened in Parañaque City?

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

COVID-19 Crisis: Residents of locked community in Parañaque City complain about limited essentials

In recent times, due to a report that there were individuals living in Annex 35 (a community of about one thousand houses within Better Living Subdivision) had contracted COVID-19, the City Government of Parañaque had the said community locked-down supposedly for fourteen days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

This past weekend, GMA Network reported that Annex 35 residents have been complaining about the effects of the granular lockdown.To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the GMA Network news report. Some parts in boldface…

Residents of a portion of the Better Living Subdivision in Parañaque City have been complaining after they were reportedly placed under a granular lockdown without prior notice, leaving them isolated for 10 days.

According to residents of Annex 35 of the subdivision, they were only made aware of the initial four-day granular lockdown at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The lockdown was implemented four hours later, and was then extended to 10 days.

“8 p.m. halos sarado na ang establishments. ‘Di ba meron po tayong allowed na time for Metro Manila na open ang ganitong establishment, so ‘di lahat nakapuno ng enough food and water supply,” a resident of the area said in a report on GMA’s “24 Oras Weekend” on Sunday.

(At 8 p.m. almost all establishments were already closed. Don’t we have an allowed time for establishments in Metro Manila to open? Not all residents were able to store enough food and water.)

“Hindi lahat ay okay. Kasi meron kaming community page sa Facebook, ang daming hinaing like water supply, ‘yung food supply namin not enough for 10 days,” the resident added.

(Not all are okay. We have a community page on Facebook and there are a lot of appeals for water supply, our food supply was not enough for 10 days.)

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) released food packs, but the residents said this is not enough. The homeowners’ association could not intervene as the granular lockdown was implemented by the local government.

The resident said that there were food packs that were supposed to have been distributed among the residents, but these were spoiled due to the lack of manpower to deliver the goods.

“Sa sobrang dami ng houses dito, kulang sila to deliver ‘yung mga food na naka-ano sa gate namin. ‘Yung iba nasisira na ‘yung food kasi kulang ‘yung tao, isang patrol car lang ang umiikot,” the resident said.

(With the number of houses here, only a few people are distributing the food stored at the gate. Some get spoiled because of the lack of manpower, only one patrol car was making the rounds.)

The resident acknowledged that the lockdowns are for health reasons, but the local government should have given residents ample time to store goods for the lockdown.

“Alam ko po na kailangan mag-ingat, they are after doon sa aming health na hindi kumalat ‘yung virus. Pero po sana binigyan nilang konsiderasyon, binigyan nila yung mga tao at least one day na makapag-plan, one whole day. Hindi ‘yung 8 pm tapos 12 midnight sarado na,” the resident said.

(I know we need to be careful, they are preventing the virus from spreading, but they should have given consideration. They should have given residents at least one day to plan, one whole day. Not announce at 8 p.m. and then close the barriers at midnight.)

GMA News has reached out to the local government of Parañaque, but calls were left unanswered.

And now here is a related news video also from GMA Network. Watch it closely…

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction about this latest development in Parañaque City? Are you able to relate with the complaints raised by the people living in the locked Annex 35 community? Do you believe that the City Government of Parañaque and the local DSWD were lacking (if not unprepared) with regards to manpower and efforts to provide sufficient supplies to the Annex 35 residents? What do you think will help prevent food from getting spoiled? Do all of these somehow impact your personal beliefs about the power of the local government unit (LGU) over residential communities that already have their own community management?

If you are a resident of Annex 35 reading this, what else should the City Government and DSWD do to make your lives easier apart from supplying your essential needs? Are you searching for charitable organizations out there to provide you assistance?

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: National Capital Region (NCR) and 4 nearby provinces now under GCQ until April 4, 2021

It is all over the news and already a lot of people got affected specifically in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal. This past Sunday, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued a new resolution (Resolution #104) in response to the spike of COVID-19 cases in the country. There was a single-day high of 7,999 new COVID-19 cases reported recently followed by blaming the government and economic managers.

Firstly, there is no lockdown which is good news. This is about retaining the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) status for NCR while the four nearby provinces have fallen under the same status.

To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from the Philippine News Agency (PNA) report…

Excerpt 1

Under IATF Resolution No. 104, he said only essential travel into and out of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal will be allowed.

Excerpt 2

Traveling into and out of Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal will be prohibited. We will have a sort of bubble in NCR, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal,” he said.

Travel of authorized persons outside their residences (APORs) such as essential workers, health and emergency frontline services personnel; government officials and government frontline personnel; duly-authorized humanitarian assistance actors; persons traveling for medical or humanitarian reasons; persons going to the airport for travel abroad, returning overseas Filipinos and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be unimpeded for as long as they show their respective work identification cards.

Individuals crossing zones for work or business and going back home will also be allowed to travel to and from the said areas.

“Kung kayo ay uuwi, essential travel po ‘yun. Kailangan lang magpakita ng ID kung saan ka talaga nakatira (If you’re going back home that’s essential travel. All you need to do is show your ID to prove that you live there),” he said.

Excerpt 3

Public gatherings limited

All public gatherings, including religious gatherings, will be prohibited but weddings, baptism, and funerals will be allowed but must observe a 10-person venue capacity.

Current operational capacities of essential and non-essential services and industries will remain.

However, face-to-face meetings, group meals in workplaces will be prohibited. Instead, work-from-home and virtual meetings are encouraged.

Roque said the IATF resolution also enjoins the private sector to adopt similar alternative working arrangements as those in place in the executive branch of government such as operating on a 30 to 50 capacity.

Only outdoor dining allowed

As for dining, Roque said only outdoor dining will be allowed in areas under GCQ while indoor dining will be strictly prohibited.

“Pagdating po sa mga restaurants, ang papayagan lang po yung mga outdoor dining (When it comes to restaurants, we will only allow those with outdoor dining),” he said.

Outdoor dining must observe a maximum of 50 percent venue capacity.

Take out and delivery is encouraged, he added.

Wear masks at home

Although the economy will stay open, Roque said the IATF resolution will require persons below 18-years-old and above 65-years-old, those with comorbidities, and pregnant women to remain inside their residences at all times.

The IATF resolution also advises the wearing of face mask at home especially when living with elderly and vulnerable.

Accepting of visitors outside immediate family or household is strongly discouraged.

Operations of driving schools, traditional cinemas and video and interactive game arcades, libraries, archives, museums, and cultural centers, limited social events at accredited tourism establishments and limited tourism attractions will be temporarily suspended except open-air tourism attractions.

Before the IATF’s new resolution was issued, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) went ahead in shortening the hours of voter registration as well as suspending the organizing of satellite registration (registration processes held outside of their office) which started yesterday. People around the Philippines have until the end September 2021 to register themselves or adjust their respective voter statuses in preparation of the May 2022 presidential, national and local elections.

For their part, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced yesterday that it would yield to public health concerns in relation to the GCQ status for NCR and the 4 nearby provinces.

With regards to the IATF’s prohibition on indoor dining, already the shopping malls and restaurants here in South Metro Manila have made adjustments and updated their customers. Sigekiya Ramen announced that their restaurant at Commercenter, Filinvest City in Alabang, is still allowed to accommodate paying customers for outdoor dining. Like many others, they also offer takeout and delivery services. Alabang Town Center and Festival Mall in Alabang posted updates about safety protocols in accordance to IATF Resolution #104.

With all these developments in place, people in the NCR and the affected provinces under GCQ will have to adjust. It is okay to keep reporting to work but there is a need to be cautious with regards to personal safety and avoiding COVID-19 infection as much as possible. There is also the need to prioritize where to go and what to do. All of these are in effect until April 4, 2021 and here is hoping that the current situation will improve (that the daily COVID-19 count of new cases will go down) so that the new round of restrictions under GCQ will not be extended.

Better yet, I encourage you all to look up to our Lord Jesus and keep having unwavering faith in Him. I also encourage you all to read chapter 91 of the Book of Psalm in the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to our Lord in the privacy in your respective rooms (with the door shut closed). Open your heart to the Lord, always.

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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