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Another satellite communications system installed in Laoag school

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INTERNET BOOST. Information technology experts check the internet speed at the Balacad Elementary School on July 7, 2020 following the installation of a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite communication system to boost internet connectivity. The school is among the 10 remote public schools in the city with weakest or no internet connectivity so far. (Photo courtesy of Rbee Ablan)

LAOAG CITY – Another rural school in this city has been installed with a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite communications system meant to boost internet connectivity here.

Laoag Schools Division Superintendent Vilma Eda said Wednesday that at least 10 public schools with weak communication signals are being prepared for the VSAT installation which is expected to be completed before the opening of classes on August 24.

The ongoing VSAT installation project was funded through a school-based fundraising drive which aims to generate PHP1 million for the establishment of the satellite communication system for schools with weakest or no internet connectivity.

To date, organizers said a total of PHP669,266 was already raised from cash donations, pledges, and sales of washable face masks and shirts.

Among the first schools in the city to have installed VSAT are the Bacsil Elementary School, Calayab Elementary School, and Balacad Elementary School with an average internet speed of 27 mbps.

“The speed is good enough for online activities,” Information and Technology officer Almadin Domingo said.

Domingo said the department is closely coordinating with telecommunication companies to facilitate the installation of fiber connection in schools with poor internet connectivity, such as the Balatong Integrated School, Cabeza Elementary School, Gabu Elementary School, Gabu National High School, and Cavit Elementary School.

Eda also reiterated the importance of technology to ensure the smooth implementation of the learning continuity plan of the department amid the challenges of the ‘new normal’ education. 

Meanwhile, Nenita Respicio, senior education program specialist of the SDO Laoag, said there are ongoing seminar workshops for public school teachers in the city to brace educators for a transformative learning environment and empowering students to become 21st century learners.

The training program started last July 2 and this will end on July 25, 2020.

Another orientation program is also being prepared for parents and guardians of learners in the next few weeks to make them aware of the ongoing set-up and challenges of education under the ‘new normal’ system.

The DepEd is offering schools some alternative learning methods including online learning and offline methods, such as take-home readings and activities. (PNA) 

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

3-week-old baby beats Covid-19 in Nueva Ecija

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COVID-19 UPDATES. A 23-day-old baby girl from Barangay San Isidro, Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija is among the three patients who have newly recovered from Covid-19, based on the report of the Nueva Ecija Inter-Agency Task Force on Wednesday (July 8, 2020). There are now 68 recoveries in the province. (Photo by Nueva Ecija Inter-Agency Task Force)

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – The youngest victim of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in this province is among the three patients who have newly recovered from the dreaded disease.

The Nueva Ecija Inter-Agency Task Force (NEIATF) reported on Wednesday that Patient 73, a 23-day-old baby girl from Barangay San Isidro, Sta. Rosa, turned negative in her second swab test Tuesday night.

The infant was first admitted at the Gonzales General Hospital in San Leonardo town but later transferred to the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in this city.

She is now at the said hospital with her mother, who likewise turned negative in the swab test last July 3.

The baby girl’s father and the rest of their family also turned negative of Covid-19 based on their swab test results released last July 4. They are, however, still under strict home quarantine.

The other two new recoveries are Patient 66, a 78-year-old man from Barangay Lawang Kupang, San Antonio town; and Patient 68, a 21-year-old seafarer from Barangay Sta. Clara, Quezon town.

With this, the NEIATF said the total number of recoveries as of Wednesday is 68.

Meanwhile, four new Covid-19 cases were reported in the province, bringing the total number of cases to 85.

Of the total, 14 are active cases, while four died.

Authorities reiterated the advice to the public to practice health protocols, including the use of disinfectant, frequent washing of hands, safe physical distancing, and the wearing of face masks. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

2 OFWs recover from Covid-19 in Bataan

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COVID-19 UPDATES. The Provincial Health Office in Bataan reports on Tuesday (July 7, 2020) that two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were added to the list of those who have recovered from Covid-19. This brought the total number of recoveries to 160. (Photo by the Bataan Provincial Health Office)

BALANGA CITY, Bataan – Two overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were the newest cases reported to have recovered from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in this province.

Governor Albert Garcia announced Tuesday that the new recoveries from the dreaded virus are a 53-year-old and a 34-year-old, both male OFWs from Bagac town.

With the addition of the two, the number of those who have been cured from Covid –19 in this province rose to 160.

Quoting reports from the Provincial Health Office (PHO), the governor said the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases remains at 233 while active cases slid down to 63. The number of deaths stayed at 10.

The PHO reported that 4,967 individuals have undergone laboratory examination for the virus since January 31, 2020.

From this figure, 233 were positive, 4,510 were already tested negative, while 224 are still waiting for their laboratory results.

“Upang hindi na dumami ang kaso ng Covid-19, patuloy ang ating tagubilin na palaging maghugas ng kamay, manatili sa inyong mga tahanan at kung kinakailangang lumabas ng bahay ay umiwas sa mga mataong lugar, magsuot ng face mask at mag observe ng physical distancing na isang metro (To prevent Covid-19 cases from increasing, we keep on reminding everyone to always wash their hands, stay at home and if there is a need to go outside, avoid crowded places, wear face masks, and observe physical distancing of about a meter),” Garcia said. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

LTO-Agusan Norte posts P6.1-M collection in June

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INCREASED COLLECTION. Land Transportation Office Cabadbaran District head Eugene Rula reports the 95.69 percent increase in revenue collection of their office in June this year amounting to over PHP6.1 million, compared to the same period last year. Rula notes that the increase was achieved despite the quarantine restrictions to contain the coronavirus disease. (PNA file photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – The Land Transportation Office in Cabadbaran City in Agusan del Norte has surpassed the revenue collection it accomplished in June 2019 by 95.69 percent, generating over PHP6.1 million from June 1 to 30 this year.

“The lockdown imposed from March until early May this year hindered some of our clients to do business in our office,” LTO-Cabadbaran District Supervisor Eugene Rula told the Philippine News Agency Wednesday (July 8).

Rula noted that the increase in collections was achieved even if their clients were mostly hesitant to go out of their homes in the last few months because of the risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Most of the transactions last month at the district, he said, was for the registration of motor vehicles with 3,200 transactions compared to 1,460 transactions in June last year.

“We collected PHP5,117,759 from motor vehicle registration last month or an increase of PHP2,772,501 or 118.22 percent from PHP2,345,258 collected in the same month last year,” Rula said.

He also reported the 37.43 percent increase in licensing transactions last month with a total collection of PHP898,230 compared to PHP653,715 collected in June last year.

A 51 percent increase was also recorded in license transactions handled by the office last month with a total of 2,330 compared to 1,543 in the same month of 2019.

However, a 7.17 decrease in the collection was noted in law enforcement last month with PHP133,030.00 collection compared to PHP143,300 in June 2019.

“The decrease in the collection from law enforcement is understandable. Drivers, in the midst of the pandemic and health protocols, imposed follow regulations such as the wearing of facemask and physical distancing by limiting the number of their passengers,” Rula explained.

He added that most of the apprehensions the law enforcement division made are on motorcycle drivers violating the no back ride policy.

The law enforcement division of LTO-Cabadbaran has recorded 73 apprehensions last month compared to the 80 apprehensions in June last year.

 Meanwhile, Department of Transportation-Caraga (DOTr-13) Acting Director and LTO-13 Director Nordy Plaza on Wednesday said they are now consolidating the reports on collections and accomplishments in all district offices of LTO in the region.

LTO-13 has seven districts and one extension office situated in different provinces and cities in the region.

“I am optimistic of increased revenue collections in all our LTO districts last month,” Plaza said.

He added that increased revenue collection is important to help the government in the midst of the crisis it faces through the continuing threat of the Covid-19.

“I ask our clients in the region not to hesitate to come to our LTO districts for their transactions but I also ask them to observe the proper health protocols,” Plaza said.

He added that all the LTO district in the area have designated hand washing areas, the checking of temperatures and footbaths.

Limiting the entry of clients to the district offices is also imposed to ensure physical distancing. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

672 rescued street dwellers in Manila undergo rapid tests

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COVID-19 TEST. Rescued street dwellers undergo rapid tests at the Manila Boystown Complex on Tuesday (July 7, 2020). The Manila Health Department targets to test all 672 individuals who were rounded up in the streets of Manila. (Photo by Manila PIO)

MANILA – Some 672 street dwellers rescued by the city government of Manila will undergo Covid-19 rapid antibody tests, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said Wednesday.

Pati po mga homeless, isinasailalim po natin sa mass testing sa (even the homeless will be subjected to mass testing at the) Manila Boystown Complex. Ito po ang mga indibidwal na ni-rescue ng ating (These are the individuals rescued by the) Manila Department of Social Welfare (MDSW). Thank you po Manila Health Department for conducting rapid tests,” Domagoso said on his Twitter account.

The Manila Public Information Office said these individuals were rounded up at the corner of Taft and Quirino Avenues, T. M. Kalaw Street, Quirino Avenue corner Adriatico Street, Quirino Ave corner Angel Linao Street, along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard to Road 10, Quirino Avenue service road, Taft Avenue corner T. M. Kalaw Street, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, M. H. del Pilar Street and Legarda Street.

In the meantime, they were temporarily brought to the Boystown for rapid testing, while 170 were brought to Canonigo Gym on Wednesday.

Manila City health officer Dr. Arnold Pangan said they have tested about 100 individuals on Tuesday, July 7.

The Manila Health Department is targeting to test all 672 individuals for rapid testing.

Naka-100 sila kahapon, tapos ngayon ulit. So far, walang nag-positive sa mga na-rapid test natin (100 were tested yesterday and then another batch today. So far nobody tested positive from among those tested),” he said.

MDSW Director Re Fugoso, meanwhile, thanked the MHD for the rapid testing.

Asahan ng ating mga kababayan na kakalingain natin ang lahat ng kayang kalingain, kahit hindi Manilenyo, basta sila ay nasa loob ng Maynila (Our constituents can expect that we will take care of them as much as we can, even if they are not from Manila as long as they are inside the city),” he said.

Fugoso added that those who will test positive in the rapid test will be immediately placed in a quarantine facility while waiting for the swab test. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Solon proposes drive-thru, pickup points in supermarkets

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File photo

MANILA – A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday suggested establishing drive-through services and pickup points in all supermarkets nationwide to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

ACT-CIS Rep. Niña Taduran said while physical distancing rules are enforced in these establishments, there is still a possibility of contracting the virus while shopping and in lines.

“Speaking not as a lawmaker but as a homemaker who has the task of making regular grocery runs, I sympathize with the people standing in line for their turn to enter the supermarket,” Taduran said.

She cited the plan proposed by Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Chief for Administration Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan to establish drive through services for all frontline services of the PNP like gun registration and vehicle clearances.

“I commend the General for coming up with a brilliant solution to minimize the public’s and the PNP’s risk of exposure to the disease. Taking the cue from the PNP, I thought it was a good idea to implement the same for daily essentials like grocery shopping as well,” she said.

Taduran also suggested to supermarket owners to create online portals where consumers can preorder the items, pay in advance, and pick them up in the proposed drive-through section. Those without cars could pick up their purchased items from the grocery counters.

“Sa pamamagitan nito ay mababawasan ang mahabang panahon ng paghihintay para lang makapasok sa tindahan at makapili ng kanilang bibilhin (Through this, we could reduce the long hours of waiting just to enter the store and pick the items to buy),” she said. “Tanggapin na natin na ganito na ang (Let us accept that this is the) ‘new normal’ and the only thing we can do to save ourselves from Covid is to adapt.”

She said legislation is no longer required for such a proposal, noting that it just requires the cooperation of the supermarket owners in the country. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Pope Francis denounces unimaginable ‘hell’ of Libyan migrant camps

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ROME — Pope Francis denounced the unimaginable “hell” of Libya’s migrant detention camps as he celebrated a Mass on Wednesday in honor of would-be asylum seekers who risk their lives for a better future.

Wednesday marked the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ visit to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa to meet with migrants who had recently arrived aboard smugglers’ boats from Libya. The July 8, 2013, trip was Pope Francis’ first pastoral visit outside Rome after his election, and it was in Lampedusa where Francis first uttered his now-frequent appeal for an end to the “globalization of indifference” that greets migrants globally.

Pope Francis repeated that phrase in his homi…

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Spain’s Catalonia mandates use of masks outdoors

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MADRID — Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region will make mandatory the use of masks outdoors even when social distancing is maintained.

Regional chief Quim Torra said the measure will be implemented from Thursday following outbreaks in and around the city of Lleida that have led to the lockdown of more than 200,000 residents since Saturday.

Some 500 infections in Lleida have so far been linked to the summer fruit harvest, which attracts many migrant laborers.

Spain has made masks mandatory in shared indoor spaces and also outdoors when a social distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) can’t be kept. Catalonia, population 7.5 million, is the first region to mandate the use of masks …

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NPA leader surrenders in Davao Oro town

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DAVAO CITY – A “political guide” of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered to the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion (71IB) has revealed the location of a firearms cache in Monkayo town, Davao de Oro province, the 71IB said in a statement Wednesday.

The 71IB identified the surrenderer as Julieto Refuela, 29, resident of Barangay Rizal, Monkayo, who worked as a “political guide” for the “weakened” Guerilla Front 20 of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

Refuela, a father of two boys, decided to surrender because he missed his family and wanted to start a decent living, 71IB said.

“It was very hard for me because I was not allowed to go home even though I already missed my family so much,” Refuela was quoted by 71IB as saying.

The NPA, he said, promised him of “Suporta sa Pamilya” (family support), which he later found out to be “a big lie”.

“He (Refuela) also shared that the NPA convinced him to join the rebellion because the current government is unfair and the laws it enacted favor the rich or influential families. He was further indoctrinated with deceptive ideologies as he underwent courses given by the communist guerilla such as Pambansang Demokratikong Paaralan (PADEPA), Basic Party Course, Intermediate Course, and Batakang Kurso sa Partido Militar. All these courses contain subjects that aim to advance NPA ideologies and beliefs,” the 71IB said.

Upon his surrender, Refuela revealed the location of NPA firearms consisting of two (40mm) M79 grenade launcher, the 71IB said. The recovered firearms have been brought to their headquarters for proper disposition.

As of this writing, Refuela is in the custody of the 71IB undergoing debriefing before enrollment to the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

Lt. Col. Sonny Gonzales, 71IB commander, said Refuela’s surrender was a manifestation that the Army is “continuously winning the hearts and minds of the people even the NPA members themselves”.

“Through our sincere effort of facilitating the surrender of former rebels and assisting them to start anew mainstreamed in a peaceful and normal life, more and more of the NPA regulars are encouraged to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law,” Gonzales said. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

PH strong enough to win vs. pandemic: DOF chief

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DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III 

MANILA – The Philippine economy may be suffering from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic but it is strong enough to “get back to its feet” and achieve more once it recovers.

During a virtual pre-State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) forum Wednesday, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is not dilly-dallying on its program to help the economy recover.

“We will overcome this crisis. We will get back to work. We will get back our economy. And you can be assured that this government is doing its utmost to bring back the economy back to the growth path. It’s true we are having hiccups, we are having a bad spot, but we are strong enough to weather the problem and come out probably even stronger than before,” he said.

Economic managers have revised their growth target for this year from a growth of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent to a contraction of between 2 percent to 3.4 percent on account of the pandemic.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP), posted its first contraction in over two decades with an output of -0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the first since the last negative growth in the fourth quarter of 1998.

Dominguez reiterated this is the reason why the government is firm on keeping its Build, Build, Build (BBB) infrastructure program a priority.

This program, he said, provides jobs to people which, in turn, will allow them to help in the economic recovery by increasing demand and stimulating economic activities.

“This is a better way to revive the economy than to give hand-outs at this point in time. So we will not slack down on the Build, Build, Build program,” he added.

Dominguez said aside from the infrastructure program, the government will also continue to push for its tax reform program, citing there are several pending measures like the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill and the proposed valuation reforms on the country’s real estate tax system.

He said they continue to work with legislators on the proposed second package of the Bayanihan 2 stimulus program.

“We are finalizing the terms of the new potential legislation,” he said.

Dominguez said more important to the stimulus program is the return of consumers’ confidence.

“This is the hurdle that the economy is facing –confidence in the future. Stimulus program is important but we have to provide our citizens the confidence that we will overcome this Covid (-19) contagion,” he added. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

179 newly-trained cops deployed in Soccsksargen

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Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-12. (File photo courtesy of PRO-12)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Police Regional Office in Soccsksargen (PRO-12) has deployed an additional 179 newly-trained police personnel to various police units in the region.

Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, PRO-12 spokesperson, said Wednesday the fresh deployment was composed of the latest batch of police trainees who have completed the intensive Public Safety Basic Recruit Course (PSBRC).

Capellan said the trainees completed last week the five-month training program, which was required for newly-hired personnel, at the Regional Training Center (RTC)-12 in Barangay Apopong here.

They were tapped to augment the mobile force teams, police offices and stations, and other units at the regional headquarters.

Capellan said an additional 250 new police recruits, who took their oath last July 1, have also started their PSBRC training at the RTC-12.  

The trainees were commissioned with the ranks of Patrolman and Patrolwoman after passing the rigorous selection and screening process of the PRO-12’s Recruitment and Selection Board.

“This is part of the efforts of the PNP (Philippine National Police) leadership to strengthen the manpower capability of local police units,” Capellan told reporters.

He assured that the newly-hired police personnel underwent proper vetting process and were chosen based on the PNP’s recruitment standards.

Prior to their assignment to the RTC-12, Capellan said the recruits received the first tranche of their clothing allowance and other supplies. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Sotto: Executive department can answer petitions against anti-terror law

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MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III has expressed confidence that the executive department can answer “all allegations and misinterpretations” against the newly-signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Sotto said in an online media forum on Wednesday that: “The executive department has more than enough to be able to answer all their (petitioners) allegations and misinterpretations.”

“I’m very confident. I don’t see any problem with the Anti-Terrorism Law of the Philippines. As a matter of fact, it is the most conservative law against terrorism in the world. I assure you,” he added.

Groups have questionedthe constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, wh…

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Manila City loses another medical front-liner to Covid-19

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Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso. (Photo grabbed from Isko Moreno Domagoso FB page)

MANILA – Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso announced Wednesday the death of another medical front-liner serving in one of the city’s public hospitals due to coronavirus, as he extended his condolences to the bereaved family.

Nalulungkot po kami na kahapon, isa na namang frontliner o doctor ng pamahalaang lungsod ng Maynila ang sumakabilang buhay, nakalulungkot po (We are very sad that yesterday (July 7), another medical front-liner who is a doctor in the city of Manila died. it is very sad),” he said in a Facebook post.

With this, Domagoso reiterated his call to all Manilenyos to strictly observe health safety protocols to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Kaya patuloy ang aming panawagan na kayo ay laging magsuot ng mask, maghugas ng kamay at umiwas sa pakikipag-usap hanggat maaari o practice physical distancing (That is why we are constantly reminding everyone to wear your masks, wash your hands, and avoid talking with other people, and practice physical distancing),” he said.

In a separate Facebook post of the Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital (JJASGH) on Tuesday, it said it has lost “one of its heroes for children”, Dr. Reino “Nong” Palacpac.

“Dr. Nong was a medical officer in the Department of Pediatrics. He was a mild-mannered, dedicated, and compassionate pediatrician who was loved by his patients and his co-workers. He was one of the pioneers of JJASGH, having served the hospital since its opening up to the time of his passing. He got infected with this dreaded virus doing his life’s mission of serving Filipino children,” it said in a statement.

“Dr. Nong’s heart for service was very much evident up to the end of his life, thinking of how he could go on duty again once he recovers. But God might be in need of a selfless pediatrician and a kind soul in heaven,” it added.

Domagoso said this is proof that the coronavirus does not choose based on one’s social standing, and that anybody could get infected.

Kung ang mga doctor at nurses na mayroon nang sapat na kalaaman kung pano maililigtas o maiiiwas ang kanilang sarili sa kapahamakan dulot ng Covid-19 virus ay nagkakasakit at namamatay, mano pa tayong ordinaryong mamamayan na walang sapat na kaaalaman (If doctors and nurses who have proper knowledge on how to protect themselves from the virus still get infected and some even die, how much more the ordinary people like us?),” he said.

Domagoso added that despite the number of deaths, the tally of recoveries, on the other hand, is also increasing.

As of Wednesday, Manila has 3,128 confirmed cases and 1,532 recoveries.

The city has already conducted 15,792 tests for Covid-19. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

DepEd: Over 250-K students transferred from private schools to public schools

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MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) revealed on Wednesday that it has recorded over 250,000 learners transferring from private schools to public schools for the upcoming school year.

“As of now, mga humigit kumulang 200,000 plus no ang natalang nag-transfer from private [schools], including local state universities and colleges, to public schools,” DepEd Undersecretary Jesus Mateo said during an online press briefing.

(As of now, there are more or less 200,000 plus students who have transferred from private schools, including those local state universities and colleges, to public schools.)

Data from DepEd showed that …

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TF-Davao, church workers join hands vs. terrorism

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DAVAO CITY – Task Force Davao (TFD) and the workers of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Davao have agreed to strengthen security measures against terrorism, amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.

TFD conducted a security meeting on Tuesday to reorient the security officers and administrative officers of local Roman Catholic churches under the Parish Disaster Action Response Team (PDART) on safety and security measures as well as quarantine rules and guidelines for religious services.

Under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) quick guide released on July 1, the city government allowed religious ceremonies provided that only 50 percent of the capacity of the place of worship is utilized.

Church ceremonies are only allowed during Mondays to Saturdays as there will be no mass or worship on Sundays. Weddings, baptism, other ceremonies are for family members only, up to a maximum of 25 persons.

In a statement Wednesday, Col. Consolito Yecla, TFD commander, said the security and safety measures agreed between the task force and the church workers include the installation of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), establishment of parking buffer zones, and the prohibition garbage bins inside churches.

“They were briefed on the role of every individual on the new “May Nakita? Dapat Magsalita!” anti-terror campaign launched by the city government of Davao. Also, the strengthening of the churches’ call for churchgoers’ cooperation of the four acts of the culture of security: volunteer, report, remind and participate,” Yecla said.

During the meeting, the participants suggested that the local archbishop issue a directive reminding churchgoers of the “no backpack policy, no jacket policy,” and the prohibition of non-transparent water containers inside the churches.

“Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, our appreciation of security should be greater since the mandatory wearing of masks and PPEs makes facial and other physical identification of terrorists harder,” Yecla said.

Yecla said the TFD will conduct further training for the church workers to heighten their security and safety awareness. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

De Lima urges Senate probe on PhilHealth’s reported failure to release insurance claims

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MANILA, Philippines—Senator Leila De Lima asked her colleagues in the Senate to investigate the alleged incapabilities of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in releasing insurance claims to its accredited hospitals.

Filing Resolution No. 461, De Lima said the failure to release the insurance proceeds could have a rippling effect in the hospitals’ capacity to deliver its services especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The capacity of the PhilHealth, as the primary health insurer of the government and as the lead implementer of Republic Act No. 11223, otherwise known as the Universal Health Care Act, to settle health care expenditures and assist pub…

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Guimaras gov’t demands total cleanup of oil spill from power barge

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ILOILO CITY—The Guimaras provincial government has called on the operator of a damaged power barge that triggered an oil spill to ensure the swift and complete cleanup of areas on the island that have been dirtied by bunker fuel.

“I would like to be clear that there should be no bunker fuel left in Guimaras,” said Gov. Samuel Gumarin in a statement.

He said the Ayala-owned AC Power Corp., which operates the power barge, has the responsibility to clean up the bunker fuel that leaked from Power Barge 102 docked off the coast of Iloilo City last July 3.

As of July 6, black oil sludge had reached at least 23 coastal villages in the towns of Buenavista and Jordan and Guimaras provi…

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Establishment of drive-thru services in supermarkets amid pandemic proposed

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MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is proposing the establishment of drive-thru services in all supermarket chains as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

ACT-CIS Partlylist Rep. Nia Taduran on Wednesday said that even though social distancing is practiced in lines in supermarkets, there remains the threat of contracting the virus due to the amount of time spent waiting in line.

Taduran said that offering such services could minimize the public’s exposure to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Speaking not as a lawmaker but as a homemaker who has the task of making regular grocery runs, I sympathize with the people standing in line for their turn to e…

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Jang Lucero murder: Cops eye love triangle, hatred or revenge

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MANILA, Philippines — Love triangle, hatred or revenge.

These are the angles being pursued by police investigators in themurder of Jingle “Jang” Lucero, who was found dead with dozens of stab wounds inside her car in Calamba City, Laguna last month.

“Sa ngayon po, ‘yung sinasabi na love triangle ay hindi pa rin tinatanggal ‘yun at ‘yung sinasabi kong hatred o revenge ay pumapasok po dito sa anggulo bilang kasama sa motive,” said Calamba City police chief Lt. Col. Gene Licud in an interview over Teleradyo.

(For now, the love triangle is not being disregarded as motive and hatred or revenge is also being considered as a possible motive.)

On July 3, Calabarzon police arrested …

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Group seeks justice after ‘ironic’ killing of 15-yr-old rape victim

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MANILA, Philippines — A child advocacy group is seeking justice for a 15-year-old rape victim who was killed last July 2, which was ironically near the anniversary of the country’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Save the Children Philippines said on Wednesday that the victim, who was shot by two motorcycle-riding men in Ilocos Sur, was killed days before the anniversary of the Philippines’ participation in the UNCRC, which was made official last July 26, 1990.

The UNCRC, the group said, is an international agreement that sets out “the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of their race,…

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idapawan Covid-19 survivor gives birth to healthy baby girl

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VIRUS SURVIVOR’S BABY. North Cotabato health front-liners paid a visit to a coronavirus disease survivor (3rd right) who delivered her first child on Tuesday (June 7, 2020) at a government hospital in Kidapawan City, more than two months after she hurdled the disease. The former Covid-19 patient, a 29-year-old nurse, delivered a healthy 6.6-pound baby girl. (Photo courtesy of North Cotabato PIO)

COTABATO CITY – A coronavirus disease (Covid-19) survivor delivered a baby girl on Tuesday at the North Cotabato Provincial Hospital (NCPH) in Kidapawan City, more than two months after she hurdled the virus.

“The 29-year-old nurse has given birth to a healthy baby girl at the provincial hospital in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City,” North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco said in a statement Wednesday.

Listed by the Department of Health as PH3671, the nurse worked in a Middle East hospital and went home in March with her husband so she can deliver her first child in the country.

Health officials have requested that the mother and the child remain anonymous to prevent discrimination.

The three -kilogram (6.6 pounds) baby girl is as healthy as the mother, physicians said. The virus survivor was elated as a team of doctors and health workers paid her a visit.

Dr. Neil Humprey Laquihon, Covid-19 provincial medical coordinator, said both the baby and the mother have undergone the protocols of Covid-19 testing using the rapid diagnostic test.

“The mother was already discharged and we are waiting for the pediatrician as to the case of the baby,” Laquihon said.

Dr. Alex Cabrera, NCPH chief, said the case was special because the mother was a Covid-19 survivor.

On Catamco’s directive, Cabrera said provincial health front-liners have been in constant contact with the former patient, who was provided a private physician to attend to her during the prenatal period.

“I appreciate all the efforts of the provincial health front-liners, Gov. Catamco for your love and care and to all who prayed for my recovery,” the nurse said.

Both the baby’s parents are overseas Filipino workers who are residents of Kidapawan City.

When the husband returned to his work abroad, he was tested positive for Covid-19. This prompted the nurse to subject herself to health authorities although she was asymptomatic.

She was confined in a patient care center (PCC) in Kidapawan City on March 27, a few days after she arrived in the city from Abu Dhabi. Even after she was tested positive, the nurse manifested no signs of the disease.

She remained physically strong from the time she learned she had the virus until she gave birth to her healthy baby girl.

“I thank God and all the people who supported me,” she said. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Go urges LGUs to 'wisely use' SEF amid ‘blended learning’ policy

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Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to “carefully and wisely” utilize their respective Special Education Fund (SEF) after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on them to assist the Department of Education (DepED) in preparing for the coming school year.

“Ni piso ay hindi dapat masayang. Gamitin po natin nang tama ang pondo ng bayan upang matulungan ang ating mga kababayan, lalo na ngayon na may krisis. (No peso should be wasted. Let us rightfully utilize public funds to help our countrymen, especially in this time of crisis),” Go said.

Go said LGUs must utilize their SEFs properly to support steps in preparation for the opening of classes.

“Sa tulong po ng pondong ito, mapupunan nila ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang public school system lalo na’t may mga challenges silang hinaharap dala ng pandemyang Covid-19 (With the help of this fund, they can fill the needs of their respective public school system, especially now that they are facing challenges due to the coronavirus disease pandemic),” he added.

Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said that in using the SEF, LGUs must also ensure that students are able to continue their education without putting them at harm because of the risks caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Just recently, the DILG asked LGUs to “assist the DepED in the adjustment of public schools to the new normal” as well as to utilize the SEF to enable them to support their local education needs in the face of Covid-19.

The DILG also encouraged the local governments to convene their Local School Boards to discuss the use of SEF and to support the localization of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan crafted by DepEd.

Go said he fully supports DILG’s call, and urged anew for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 396 which will allow for the expanded application of the SEF.

“The expanded use of SEF will give LGUs the flexibility to boost their support to local public schools and facilitate the transition to ‘blended learning’ amid the pandemic,” he said.

Under Section 272 of the Local Government Code (RA 7160), local school boards may only use the SEF for “operation and maintenance of public schools, construction and repair of school buildings, facilities and equipment, educational research, purchase of books and periodicals, and sports development.”

Once enacted into law, SB 396 will expand the application of the SEF to include the construction and repair of libraries; payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel; competency training for teaching personnel; operation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS), including payment of salaries, allowances and other benefits of ALS facilitators; and the purchase of teaching aids and other instructional materials within the scope of SEF allocation.

“Apart from this, the flexibility afforded by this measure to LGUs will facilitate our ongoing transition to the digital age, where there is a growing need to provide our students with modern tools to remain globally competitive. It will also render the public education system more flexible to implement alternative modes of learning or blended learning,” Go said.

“And to emphasize: we are not giving LGUs more money. What we are giving them -– through this measure -– is more flexibility on how they can use the SEF. In return, what we ask from our LGUs is to ensure that every peso from the SEF counts and to make sure that the funds from the SEF are spent wisely for our children and the public,” he added. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Policy shifts in food systems needed in new normal: DA chief

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Agriculture Secretary William Dar

MANILA – Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Wednesday underscored the need to introduce policy shifts in governing food systems to achieve the “overarching goal” of ensuring food security in the country amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

During the first Pre-State of the Nation Address (Pre-SONA) forum, Dar said the Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that has impacted food systems, disrupted agricultural value chains and movements, and posed risks to household food security.

Dar said policy shifts in the country’s food system are required in the new normal to support the agricultural sector’s role in supplying the food requirements of the population.

“With that, we are eyeing to look at policy shifts during this new normal and we just adopted a new food security framework which had been approved by the IATF (Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases),” Dar said.

“There must be transformation everywhere in food systems from production to consumption and all places in between which will compel us to do things differently,” he added.

The approved food security framework provides an overall vision and high-level goals for the sector to attain in the immediate and short-term. It focuses on five objectives of food production, namely: availability, accessibility, affordability, price stability, and food safety.

Dar said the policy shifts aim to empower those marginalized in the food system and support diverse distribution efforts; harness the food system’s interconnectedness with other sectors toward building resilience; address hunger and all forms of malnutrition, and provide solutions that are context-specific.

DA’s response to Covid-19 crisis

Dar noted that the pandemic resulted in bottlenecks in movement and logistics that prevented the delivery of food supply from provinces to urban consumers.

He, however, assured the public that the country has enough food supplies in the next six months.

“Itong last 100 days we have seen na ang pinaka problema po dito ay (In the last 100 days, we have seen that the main problem) was more a problem of logistics and movement of food supplies,” he said. “We have enough food supplies during the last 100 days and we’ll continue to have enough food supplies in the next six months and beyond.”

Dar said they have introduced the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” direct marketing program to benefit both consumers and producers. This setup brings farmers’ produce from provinces directly to consumers in urban areas.

Dar said the Kadiwa efforts have generated sales of around PHP5.5 billion to participating farmers.

“The sales as a result of the intervention coming from Kadiwa ay nasa level ng (is at the level of) PHP5.5 billion. It’s formidable. It’s such an important intervention that we will continue to institutionalize even under this new normal,” he said.

Aside from Kadiwa, Dar said the department has also put in place an “overall umbrella program” to elevate and increase food sufficiency level during the new normal.

The “Plant, Plant, Plant Program” seeks to increase national agri-fishery output through intensified use of quality seeds, appropriate inputs, modern technologies to increase levels of productivity across all commodities, and thus ensure food productivity, availability, accessibility and affordability amidst the threat of Covid-19.

Through this program, the agency will pursue a PHP8.5-billion Rice Resiliency Project aimed at producing more rice to increase the country’s sufficiency level from the present 87 percent to 93 percent.

“We are working with the farmers and fishers to produce enough food and we are there nurturing and catalyzing all these efforts in tandem with various stakeholders, the local government units so that the level of productivity that we have to have and the desired income for the farming and fishing sector will happen,” he said. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Cry for justice loud in burial of 1 of 4 Army intel officers slain by cops in Jolo

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TABUK CITY- “The dead cannot cry for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them.”

This was the message written on one of the signs carried by relatives of slain Army Maj. Marvin Indammog when he was buried here on Wednesday (July 8).

Indammog, the commanding officer of the Army’s 9th Intelligence Service Unit in Sulu province, and his three fellow intelligence officers were shot dead by policemen in Jolo, the Sulu capital, on June 29.

The 39-year-old soldier was a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s Mandala Class of 2006.

Indammog’s family and friends marched from St. William’s Cathedral to the Kalinga Cemetery during the funeral.

“This is heart br…

Keep on reading: Cry for justice loud in burial of 1 of 4 Army intel officers slain by cops in Jolo

No fear of infection as 9 million people in Thailand use public transport during long weekend

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s Transport Ministry reported on Wednesday (July 8) that more than 9 million people had taken public transport during the July 4-7 long weekend.

The report said the number of people using public transport was 15.34 percent higher than the same period last year, with more than 1 million traveling to other provinces, 629,004 traveling within provinces and more than 7 million traveling to Bangkok.

Also, more than 11 million personal vehicles were driven out of the capital, with more than 5 million opting for highways and the remainder using tollways.

During the holiday period, 369 road accidents were recorded, with 56 killed and 369 people injured. Of the vehic…

Keep on reading: No fear of infection as 9 million people in Thailand use public transport during long weekend

France rules out ‘total lockdown’ in case of new COVID-19 spike

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The French government said Wednesday it is preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 cases that could emerge in the coming months, but will not respond with another nationwide lockdown to contain the outbreak.

“My aim is to prepare France for an eventual second wave, while preserving our daily life, our economic and social life,” new Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an interview on RTL television.

“But we’re not going to impose a lockdown like the one we did last March, because we’ve learned… that the economic and human consequences from a total lockdown are disastrous,” he said.

Instead, any business closures or stay-at-home orders would be “targeted” to specific areas, h…

Keep on reading: France rules out ‘total lockdown’ in case of new COVID-19 spike

Covid-19-positive workers at NAIA reach 24

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MANILA – The number of personnel detailed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has reached 24, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal said on Wednesday.

Monreal, however, clarified that the figure does not include personnel from the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Immigration.

Out of the 24, seven have already been back to work, while two are waiting for their medical certificates.

“Fifteen of the 24 are recent (cases), and tested positive after taking the swab test,” Monreal said.

He said there is nothing to worry about as long as the protocols are being followed.

Monreal reiterated that personnel must always observe proper hygiene, and wash their hands frequently.
The airport, he said, implements safety measures such as safe physical distancing, placing of foot baths, installation of acrylic barriers in all check-in counters, among others.

“We are doubling up on disinfection, especially when we get a report that there is a PUI (a person under investigation),” he added.

The number of positive cases did not affect the operations as there are about 4,000 personnel working at the NAIA, Monreal said, noting those infected are less than 1 percent of the airport manpower.

Meanwhile, Monreal visited the holding area for locally stranded individuals (LSIs), who have been provided with food thrice daily, at NAIA Terminal 3.

MIAA would also put up a place where the LSIs could take a shower in the service parking area.

“These are not for everyone. These are only for those who have confirmed tickets, and whose flights are within 48 hours,” Monreal said. (PNA

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Pasig City pushes for data-driven policymaking, governance

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Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto

MANILA – The Pasig City government has started a comprehensive survey of residents of condominiums and exclusive subdivisions, as part of its data-driven policymaking campaign.

Mayor Vico Sotto said the comprehensive survey is a prerequisite for the distribution of the Pasig Supplemental Social Amelioration Program (SAP) amounting to PHP8,000 per household.

“The survey is purely voluntary and those who decide to complete it may skip any question they are not comfortable with. It is, however, a prerequisite to receiving assistance under the Pasig supplemental SAP,” he said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

“Because usually, the compliance rate for surveys/censuses is very low in condos and exclusive subdivision. Also, if you are not willing to spend 45 minutes on a survey to receive PHP8,000, then, you probably don’t need it,” said Sotto. “Conversely, we greatly appreciate those who completed the survey and waived their share. Each PHP8,000 share a well-off family does not claim is PHP8,000 we will use to help the fortunate.”

Sotto, meanwhile, assured residents that all data collected from the survey will be handled with strict confidentiality and security in compliance with the Data Privacy Act.

“Frankly speaking, however, you probably share more data with Facebook and Google,” he said.

The data will be collected, Sotto said, could help the local government in the smooth implementation of programs and other projects for Pasig residents.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the difficulty of governing efficiently without proper data and information,” he said.

Sotto said the completion of the comprehensive survey can be used by the local government for future policymaking.

The survey is part of a “principled and unpoliticized” public service under his watch, he said.

“During the campaign, I promised you that we would do our best to eliminate patronage politics in our city and move towards data-driven policymaking — a more effective method of governance. This survey is a step in that direction,” Sotto said.

He added that pushing the comprehensive survey is in line with the national government’s Community Based Monitoring System (CBMS), “but (was) tweaked by the local government for the specific purpose of enabling us to effectively implement Universal Healthcare in Pasig.”

Sotto also urged residents to help the local government to serve them better by actively participating and cooperating with all the programs implemented in Pasig.

Patients, recoveries

Meanwhile, the Pasig City government has discharged another six patients who recently recovered from Covid-19.

They were formerly housed at the Pasig’s Centralized Quarantine Facility for treatment and were released on Tuesday.

Sotto said there are still 100 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city.

“All in all, we have around 100 patients in our quarantine facilities. There’s still a lot of work ahead to stop Covid-19,” he said in a separate post.

He also noted that the Pasig’s molecular laboratory will start this week its own electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA), a method used for antibody test for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) will start next week. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

Cambodia’s tourist hotspot bans dog meat trade

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The Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap has banned the dog meat trade, a victory for animal rights campaigners who describe the area as the “lynchpin” of an industry that slaughters millions of creatures each year.

Dog meat, a cheap source of protein, is eaten in several Asian countries, including Cambodia, although it is much more popular in neighbouring Vietnam.

But animal rights group Four Paws has identified Siem Reap province — home to the famed Angkor Wat temple complex — as a hub for the trade within the kingdom, where they say three million dogs are butchered annually.

Siem Reap authorities announced a ban late Tuesday, with the provincial agricultural department s…

Keep on reading: Cambodia’s tourist hotspot bans dog meat trade

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