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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Marikina City Mayor Teodoro says use of face shields remains optional within the city

With the current surge of new COVID-19 infections affecting the Philippines as a whole, a lot of people have gotten worried about their health as well as the return of certain restrictions such as the mandatory use of face shields which themselves are known to be inconvenient to use and make verbal communication a chore.

In the City of Marikina, mayor Marcy Teodoro publicly clarified recently that the use of face shields within the city remains optional, not required, according to a Manila Bulletin news report. To be clear, Marikina’s City Government previously announced that face shield use was mandatory and the mayor had to make things clear.

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

The Marikina City local government on Sunday, Jan. 9, clarified that the use of face shield in the city is still optional.

This after the city government announced the mandatory use of face shields in vaccination centers last Jan. 5.

“Nililinaw ng pamahalaang lungsod ng Marikina na hindi mandatory ang pagsusuot ng face shield sa siyudad (The Marikina City local government is clarifying that wearing of face shields is not mandatory in the city),” Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said in a statement.

He added that there is no affiliated penalty for residents who are not wearing face shields within the city.

Teodoro said wearing of face shields is just a part of the safety and additional precautions against the virus, especially in congested areas.

“Dahil ito nga ay optional, walang kaakibat na penalty o multa ang hindi pagsusuot ng face shield. Kundi ito ay bahagi lamang ng ibayong pag-iingat o added precaution sa crowded o congested areas (Because it is optional, there is no penalty or fine for not wearing a face shield. It is only part of the added precaution in crowded or congested areas),” the mayor said.

The city government, meanwhile, encouraged its residents to use face shields in crowded places for additional protection against COVID-19.

With COVID-19 infection very high nationwide, there were rumors floating around that a total lockdown would happen. The fact that the COVID-19 positivity within Metro Manila is high added to the anxieties and worries.

While the clarification on face shields made by Marikina’s mayor provided relief to their constituents, it is important for Metro Manila residents to watch closely the moves of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the mayors comprising the Metro Manila Council (MMC) with regards to implementing more restrictions in reaction to the COVID-19 surge.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you worried that the high COVID-19 infections of the nation will result another lockdown and the return of multiple restrictions? Are you willing to accept the mandatory use of 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 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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila mayors approve resolution restricting unvaccinated people

The new year of 2022 is already challenging for the Philippines with the daily count of new COVID-19 infections averaging in the thousands the past few days. For the people who still remain unvaccinated, their movements within Metro Manila will be restricted as the mayors of the metropolis approved a new resolution and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos confirmed it, according to a Manila Bulletin news report.

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

Metro Manila (mayors) have agreed to implement a lockdown on all the unvaccinated individuals in the metropolis as part of the measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid the rising number of cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) in the past days.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said this was agreed in principle by all the 17 mayors of Metro Manila during the meeting help on Sunday and was embodied on the resolution approved by the Metro Manila Council.

The move is also aimed at protecting unvaccinated individuals, what with the report from the Department of Health that more or less 85 percent of severe cases of COVID it monitored in various hospitals are those who have not been inoculated against the deadly virus.

“This was what they agreed (during the meeting). Those unvaccinated, they shall remain at their residence at all times,” said Abalos in a press briefing on Monday morning, Jan. 3.

He said unvaccinated individuals would only be allowed to go out of their houses if they would buy essential goods like food, water or medicine or avail of essential services that are mostly relating to medical services, energy and work.

While unvaccinated individuals would not be deprived to do exercises, Abalos said their movement would be limited in areas near their homes like inside the subdivision, puroks or even within the barangay.

Abalos also emphasized that unvaccinated (individuals) will not be allowed to travel and even do leisure activities like going to the malls, tourist spots and other popular leisure areas and would be even allowed to dine both inside and outside any restaurants and other dining establishments.

“This is like implementing ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine which is the highest lockdown measures) but only for the unvaccinated. This is also for their own protection,” said Abalos.

How about unvaxxed workers?

Abalos explained that work-related activities are exempted from the restrictions that were approved by the Metro Manila mayors for the unvaccinated individuals.

The catch, however, is that unvaccinated workers have to undergo RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction which is the most accurate test for COVID-19) every two weeks and that they have to present them to their work places as a matter of policy that was ordered by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Another problem for unvaccinated workers on this policy is that they are the ones who would shoulder the cost of the RT-PCR which costs ranges from P2,500 to P4,000 per test.

In the event that the RT-PCR result is not readily available as it takes time before the result is obtained, Abalos said unvaccinated workers must undergo antigen test, also at their expense.

Vax card as ‘passport’

During the briefing Abalos emphasized the importance of the vaccination card for those who want to move around Metro Manila and for those who want to enter the National Capital Region.

He said the vaccination cards served as the passports to all establishments–in compliance with the IATF order.

“So you need to carry vaccination cards at all times. And aside from vaccination card, the bearer should also have an identification to verify that he or she is indeed the person in the vaccination card,” said Abalos.

He, however, warned against availing fake vaccination cards, saying they would be punished by existing laws.

The same warning was given to establishment owners that would fail to implement the need to present vaccination cards for their clients and customers.

“We are expecting the malls and other establishments to adjust the protocols… So I appeal to the public to follow these rules as a way of cooperating with the government in the fight against COVID-19,” said Abalos.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this latest development? If you are unvaccinated until now, does this latest news compel you to finally go out and join the line for the free vaccines? Do you think the Metro Manila mayors made the right decision with the reported resolution dealing with the unvaccinated? If you are indeed unvaccinated, do you feel oppressed by the Metro Manila mayors’ approved resolution? Do you trust MMDA chairman Abalos at all?

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/

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: Alert Level 3 in Metro Manila takes effect today

In case you missed the news, the daily count of new COVID-19 infections around the Philippines has gone up sharply since the last few days of December 2021. On the evening of December 31, it was announced by the national government that Metro Manila will be placed under Alert Level status starting today – January 3, 2022 – until the 15th.

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

The alert level status in Metro Manila will be raised anew from the current Level 2 to Alert Level 3 from Jan. 3 to 15, 2022, Malacañang announced on Friday night.

In a public announcement, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) decided to shift to a more stringent alert level status as the country saw a spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.

“Nakita naman natin sa mga nakaraang araw ay nag-increase exponentially ang mga kaso dahil sa Holiday activities kung saan tumaas ang movement ng mga tao at bumaba ang compliance sa minimum public health standards. Isa rin sa dahilan ang detection ng local cases ng Omicron variant (We saw an exponential rise during the past days because of the Holiday activities where there were increased movement and compliance with minimum public health standards may have been disregarded. Local cases of the Omicron variant were also detected),” he said.

Nograles added that an increase in Covid-19 positive cases is expected in the succeeding days thus, the IATF’s decision

After 12 days of active cases below 10,000, the number increased to 10,418 on December 29 and was at 14,233 by year-end after 2,961 new cases.

The Department of Health also confirmed 10 new cases of the Omicron variant, with three already recovered.

Nograles cited a “high possibility” of local transmission of the Omicron variant.

Under Alert Level 3, establishments or activities shall be allowed to operate or be undertaken at a maximum of 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity, provided that all workers of the establishments are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Movements

Intrazonal and interzonal movement are still allowed, however, reasonable restrictions may be imposed by the LGUs, which should not be stricter as those prescribed under higher alert levels and subject to the oversight, monitoring, and evaluation of their respective Regional IATF.

Those below 18 years of age, and those belonging to the vulnerable population, shall be allowed access to obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices in accordance with existing labor laws, rules, and regulations. Individual outdoor exercises shall also be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status. 2.

Prohibited activities

Meanwhile, the following establishments and activities that are considered high-risk for transmission under Alert Level 3 are not allowed:

  1. Face to face or in-person classes for basic education, except those earlier permitted by the IATF and Office of the President;
  2. Contact sports, except those conducted under bubble-type setup, as provided for under relevant guidelines adopted by the IATF, Games and Amusement Board, and Philippine Sports Commission, and approved by the LGU where such games shall be held;
  3. Funfairs/carnivals and kid amusement industries like playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides;
  4. Venues with live voice or wind-instrument performers and audiences such as in karaoke bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters;
  5. Casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments, except those that will be allowed by the IATF or Office of the President; and
  6. Gatherings in residences with individuals not belonging to the same household.

Allowed activities

He said allowed activities under Alert Level 3 at a maximum of 30% indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50% outdoor venue capacity are the following: 

  1. Venues for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE);
  2. Permitted venues for social events such as parties, wedding receptions, engagement parties, wedding anniversaries, debut and birthday parties, family reunions, and bridal or baby showers; 
  1. Visitor or tourist attractions such as libraries, archives, museums, galleries, exhibits, parks, plazas, public gardens, scenic viewpoints or overlooks, and the like;
  2. Amusement parks or theme parks;
  3. Recreational venues such as internet cafes, billiard halls, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, archery halls, swimming pools, and similar venues;
  4. Cinemas and movie houses;
  5. Limited face-to-face or in-person classes for higher education and for technical-vocational education and training;
  6. In-person religious gatherings; gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, and funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 and for the cremains of the COVID-19 deceased;
  7. Licensure or entrance/qualifying examinations administered by their respective government agency, and specialty examinations authorized by the IATF subject to the health and safety guidelines as approved by the IATF;
  8. Dine-in services in food preparation establishments such as kiosks, commissaries, restaurants, and eateries, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols;
  9. Personal care establishments such as barbershops, hair spas, hair salons, and nail spas, and those offering aesthetic/cosmetic services or procedures, make-up services, salons, spas, reflexology, and other similar procedures including home service options, subject to the sector-specific protocols of the DTI;
  10. Fitness studios, gyms, and venues for non-contact exercise and sports, subject to DTI sector-specific protocols. Provided that patrons/clients and workers/employees wear face masks at all 3 times and that no group activities are conducted; and
  11. Film, music, and television production, subject to the joint guidelines as may be issued by the DTI, DOLE, and the DOH.

These activities will be allowed provided that all on-site workers/employees of these establishments and organizers of activities are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and MPHS shall be strictly maintained. There is no objection from the LGU where these activities may take place.

The IATF, he said, instructed the Technical Working Group headed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and National Vaccination Operations Center to craft guidelines in the implementation of stricter measures for the unvaccinated individuals.

Metro Manila was under Alert Level 2 for some time and a lot of people and their families have been enjoying the added freedom of movement due to the reduction of restrictions. This, of course, contributed to the crowding at stores and food-and-beverage joints, and the rise of parties or social gatherings during the Christmas season. Along the way, cases of Omicron in the Philippines started to grow. Omicron, which has been magnified by the secular, liberal media organizations and caused a lot of problems worldwide, is feared for being more contagious. Since Omicron is a problem in the country, I can only hope that the national authorities will consider acquiring a new and much bigger batch of the Russian vaccines Sputnik V and Sputnik Light as those vaccines were declared effective against the feared variant.

Other than raising the alert level and putting up more restrictions, the authorities should deal with the Omicron variant fast. I would not be surprised that the local stock market will lose points as long as the Omicron variant remains a problem in the Philippines. For those living in Metro Manila, I encourage you all to pay close attention to the Metro Manila Council (MMC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and examine how they will act, react and behave this time around. Let’s observe if those officials won’t be too distracted with pre-election activities related to the May 2022 national and local elections so that they can do their jobs efficiently.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: If you are a Metro Manila resident, what is your reaction to this development? Do you think the daily number of new COVID-19 cases will fall to less than one thousand per day by January 15, 2022? Are you afraid of the Omicron variant? Do you think it is time for the government to import more Sputnik vaccines to push back against Omicron-related infections?

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/

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: Omicron variant detected in the Philippines according to DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday the that much feared Omicron variant was detected here in the Philippines and it was found in two travelers who arrived not from South Africa (where Omicron was first detected) but from Nigeria and Japan, according to a GMA Network news report.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the statement published by GMA Network. Some parts in boldface…

The Philippines has detected the Omicron coronavirus variant from two international travelers, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Wednesday.

According to the DOH, one is a returning overseas Filipino who arrived from Japan on December 1 via Philippine Airlines flight number PR 0427.

The other case is a Nigerian national who arrived from Nigeria on November 30 via Oman Air with flight number WY 843.

In a message to reporters, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said one is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while the other is not.

The DOH said the two cases were detected during the latest run that sequenced 48 samples composed of 21 returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), one foreign national, and 26 local cases from areas with case clusters.

The sample of the ROF was collected on December 5. He then tested positive COVID-19 on December 7 and was admitted to a facility on the same day.

“He is currently asymptomatic but had symptoms of colds and cough upon arrival,” the DOH said.

Meanwhile, the sample from the Nigerian national was collected on December 6 while his positive result was released on December 7. The asymptomatic case was quarantined on the same day.

“The DOH is determining possible close contacts among co-passengers during the flights of these two cases,” the DOH said in a statement.

The DOH said it is also verifying the test results and health status of all passengers of the flights to determine if there are other confirmed cases or if there are any who developed symptoms after arrival.

Travelers from the flights were advised to reach out to the DOH through DOH COVID-19 Hotlines at (02) 8942 6843 or 1555, or their respective local government units to report their status.

“With the detection of the imported cases of Omicron variant, the Department also urges everyone to adhere to the minimum public standards,” it said.

“Moreover, this holiday season, the public should avoid holding mass gatherings to curb the transmission of COVID-19. The DOH also urges those unvaccinated to get vaccinated,” the DOH added.

Omicron is very much feared overseas not just because it is more infectious, but also because of the secular liberal news media whose reports added to the fear and chaos to the global audience. It spread panic and caused governments abroad to close down their borders in reaction. Very recently, the OCTA Research group expressed its concern about the possible surge of new COVID-19 cases in the event Omicron hits the Philippines. The reality is that the feared new variant is here.

Now that the Omicron variant is here in the Philippines, I encourage you readers – especially those who are based here in the Philippines – to pay close attention as to how the government officials will react to the detection of Omicron in the country. Watch closely the moves of the Metro Manila mayors, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in reaction to Omicron.

More importantly, I encourage all of you reading this not to panic but come to the Lord and pray to Him for great protection with chapter 91 of the Book of Psalm in the Holy Bible. Don’t hesitate, do it now for your protection, your family’s protection and the protection of the nation. Pray to the Lord in your room with the door shut, pray in tongues to Him, keep practicing Christian habits (click here and here), and keep on seeking Him first and foremost. Always have unwavering faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus!

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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/

COVID-19 Crisis: OCTA Research concerned over possible surge of new cases if Omicron hits the Philippines

Do you believe that the Philippines is prepared to handle a possible rise of new COVID-19 cases if ever the feared media-magnified Omicron variant hits the country? For some direction, it is important to pay close attention to what OCTA Research said if such a scenario happens and the Manila Bulletin reported their concern. Take note that the Omicron variant is the same variant that spread panic and even caused governments to close their borders.

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

Independent research group OCTA expressed concern over a possible surge of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases if the Omicron variant finds its way in the Philippines.

Citing the record-high number of cases in South Africa where the variant of concern was first detected, OCTA research fellow Dr. Guido David said that the country reported 37,875 new COVID-19 cases on Dec. 12, 2021 alone.

“This is a new record-high for South Africa. From Nov. 8 to 14, South Africa had an average of 246 new cases. Since then, case jumped to an average of 19,400 over a span of four weeks. The average weekly growth rate over that period was more than 200 percent,” David said in a Twitter post on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

“The reproduction number in South Africa increased from 0.48 to as high as 4.18, with a current value of 2.96. This is higher than the reproduction number during the Delta surge,” he added.

In comparison, David said that the seven-day average in the Philippines is 236, from Dec. 7 to 13, with a reproduction number of 0.14.

Vaccine coverage in the Philippines is 36 percent, while it is currently at 25 percent in South Africa.

“Although vaccine coverage in the Philippines is significantly higher compared to South Africa, the Omicron variant, if it enters the country’s borders, will likely trigger a serious surge of new cases in the Philippines,” David said.

“The bright side is that, based on the information we have at this time, most of the cases will be mild or asymptomatic,” he added.

As you can see in the above report, OCTA Research’s focus on South Africa served as the basis for comparison with the Philippines as well as their concern about what would happen if ever Omicron’s presence gets detected here in the country. It should be noted that the nation authorities have been tracing for passengers who arrived here in the Philippines from South Africa this past November. So far, none of the located passengers tested positive for Omicron although there are still two more passengers who have yet to be found.

Meanwhile, there will be another 3-day nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive and it has been reported that there will be sufficient supplies of vaccines for it. While a lot more Filipinos have been moving around and businesses are serving much more customers physically present at their respective venues, the daily count of new COVID-19 infections is still in the hundreds and the total number of people declared fully vaccinated (injected with two doses of most vaccines) has surpassed the 40,000,000 mark nationwide. There is also optimism that Christmas this year will be more joyful for families.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about these newest developments related to the Omicron variant? Are you convinced that the national, local and community authorities are ready to make adjustments in the event the Omicron variant causes a spike in new COVID-19 infections? Do you think that the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be able to react decisively on managing 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 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/

COVID-19 Crisis: Metro Manila number coding returns specifically covering evening rush hours

For those who drive daily in or through Metro Manila, better brace yourselves for changes regarding evening rush hours as it was announced that the number coding will return very soon according to a GMA News report.

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

Majority of National Capital Region (NCR) mayors have agreed to reinstate the number coding scheme during afternoon rush hour, according to Allan Gatus’ report on Super Radyo dzBB on Monday.

Citing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos, the report said the number coding scheme will be implemented Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will cover only private vehicles.

Public utility vehicles (PUVs) are exempted from the scheme as they are still operating under limited passenger capacity under Alert Level 2.

The above report ended stating that the actual implementation of the return of the number coding scheme will happen officially two days after the resolution gets published on the Official Gazette.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What can you say about this new development? Do you drive regularly around Metro Manila during the evening rush hours? Do you think that the return of number coding in Metro Manila is good?

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/

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: Face shields no longer mandatory in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3

It took a long time to happen but it finally happened at last and will surely provide people relief from the so-called protective but inconvenient face shields. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommended lifting of the mandatory use of face shields specifically in areas under Alert Level 1, 2 and 3, according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) recommended the lifting in response to the much-improved situations (note: low daily counts of new COVID-19 infections and the continued rise of people getting vaccinated) of the nation under the pandemic. Be reminded that prior to this new development, there was a collective push to make face shields non-mandatory in Metro Manila.

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

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to lift the mandatory use of face shields in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3.

“Ang decision ko is okay, tanggalin nyo na yung [face] shields. Pwede na ninyong (My decision is okay, you can remove face shields. You can), you dispense with the shields but not the (face) mask,” Duterte said in his prerecorded “Talk to the People”.

Duterte said face mask would remain part of the day-to-day safety measure “kasi matagal pa itong virus na nasa hangin lang (because the virus which is airborne will be here for a long time).”

He urged the public to make sure that the Covid-19 positivity rate in the country will continue to go down by following the health and safety protocols.

“You have to obey what the government will tell you to do because it’s for the good of the country and for you. Sumunod lang kayo (Just obey),” he said.

On Monday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued a memorandum detailing the voluntary use of face shields in places with a relatively low Covid-19 alert level.

According to the memorandum, the use of face shields in community settings shall remain mandatory in areas under Alert Level 5 and granular lockdowns.

For places under Alert Level 4, local government units and private establishments are given the discretion to maintain or remove the wearing of face shields policy.

People residing in places under alert levels 3, 2, and 1 can voluntarily use the face shields as their added protection.

“The above protocols are without prejudice to the continuing mandatory use of face shields in medical and quarantine facility settings, and the required use thereof by healthcare workers in healthcare settings,” the order read.

The IATF-EID on Dec. 14, 2020 issued Resolution 88, requiring all persons to wear full-coverage face shields on top of face masks in all public places to control the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Based on the above details, for as long as an area is under Alert Level 3 and lower, face shields are no longer mandatory. Just optional. While a lot of face shields believers out there expressed that the said items are highly protective and prevent COVID-19 from entering people’s eyes, face shields are always inconvenient as they obscure people’s visions and make verbal communication even harder. Try talking to someone while you are wearing both a face mask (which itself muffles your speaking) and a face shield.

As long as COVID-19 infections are low and as long as people practice caution, walking around and doing your objectives without face shields can be done in areas under Alert Level 1-3. With the recent change, I encourage you to pay close attention to your own locality and also observe how the Metro Manila mayors and the MMDA will act and think now that face shields are no longer required in areas under Alert Level 1-3.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Are you relieved that face shields are no longer mandatory in areas under Alert Level 1-3? How much money did you spend on face shields since the start of the pandemic? How many face shields do you have right now?

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/

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

COVID-19 Crisis: More than 100% of target population of NCR vaccinated with at least one dose

The national authorities recently announced than more than 100% of the target population of the National Capital Region (NCR) here in the Philippines got vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine according to the report of the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Keep in mind that Metro Manila is home to many millions of people and is the hot spot of nation’s economy as it is also home of many corporations and employers.

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

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday said about 102.86 percent of the National Capital Region (NCR)’s target population have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, said more than 8.8 million individuals or 90.75 percent of the Metro Manila’s target population are now fully vaccinated against the dreaded disease.

He expressed confidence that the 17 local government units (LGUs) in NCR will be able to fully vaccinate their respective target populations, including children ages 12 to 17, by the end of the year.

Galvez said Metro Manila is among the priority regions that receive the bulk of vaccine supply, with more than 20 million doses were deployed to its local governments as of Nov. 8.

“These deliveries are directly proportional to the current vaccination output of the region, which has already inoculated 102.86 percent of its target population with at least one dose,” he added.

He lauded the Metro Manila mayors for “this another milestone” in the country’s vaccination program.

“This proves that we remain on track with our vaccination targets. Truly, nothing is impossible if we all work together. A better Christmas is now at hand,” he said.

Galvez also noted that the increasing throughput of the vaccination program has contributed to the continuous decline of Covid-19 cases in all areas nationwide.

He added the vaccination drive has helped in the growth rebound of the country’s economy up to 7.1 percent during the third quarter, despite the six weeks strict lockdowns.

“Our next goal is to start and sustain the opening up of our classes to protect our children’s future and development. We need to vaccinate our students and teachers before the end of this year,” he said.

The government remains firm in its goal to complete the vaccination of at least 54 million Filipinos before end-December.

As of Thursday, the country has administered a total of 66,816,976 doses of coronavirus vaccines with 30,478,899 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated.

Based on the latest data from the National Covid-19 vaccination dashboard, the country’s average daily vaccination rate in the last seven days has increased to 780,290 doses, compared to 647,580 doses in the previous week.

Galvez earlier said the government is now scaling up the vaccination program with the steady arrival of bigger vaccine deliveries.

While the above is positive news, there is still the challenge for the national, the regional and local authorities to vaccinate the real population (more than the target population) based on the latest census statistics per region and locality. That means not only vaccinating the minors aged 12 to 17 but also the younger ones in due time. How the authorities will be able to achieve greater vaccination numbers without causing blunders or controversy remains to be seen. Overseas in the United States, the imposed vaccine mandate by the Biden administration is clearly an act of tyranny (read: Democrats and the Satanic Left love power, terror and fascism) against the people and the employers.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Does this latest news about make you feel hopeful about having a more joyful Christmas season with friends and family? Don’t you think that the 3rd quarter growth would have been much higher had there been no enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila this past August? Do you believe that your local government unit and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) can be trusted when it comes to vaccinating as many people as possible?

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

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