House seeks contingency plan to lessen impact of nCoV on tourism

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 4, 2020   •   324

The House of Representatives is seeking a contingency plan to lessen the effects of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat on the country’s tourism and travel industry.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on the House Committee on Tourism and House Committee on Economic Affairs to work with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in assessing the short- and medium-term effects of the 2019-nCov.

In a statement, Cayetano said the House acknowledges the government’s decision to impose a temporary travel ban from Hubei, China and other provinces of China. However, he said there should be a way to lessen its impact on tourism.

“The House of Representatives wants to work with the tourism and services sector to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed in the next few months,” he said.

Based on the report of the DOT, Philippine tourist arrivals reached 7.4 million from January to November 2019. It is 15.58% higher compared to the 6.4 million in 2018.

DOT records show that 1.63 million of the total 7.4 million international tourist arrivals from January to November of 2019 were Chinese.

The House Speaker also called on other agencies to work together in coming up with a comprehensive contingency plan to cushion the impact of the 2019-nCoV.

“The government must pool its resources to prevent this public health issue from becoming an economic crisis,” he said.—AAC

Coronavirus scare reduces NAIA passenger traffic —MIAA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reduced passenger traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said Wednesday.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said that from January 27 to February 17, the country’s main gateway only handled a total of 1,352,692 international passengers compared to 1,624,698 passengers in the same period in 2019.

Domestic passenger traffic at NAIA also went down to 1,406,876 from January 27 to February 17 compared with 1,456,705 in the same period last year.

“It’s a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there’s still time to recover and hopefully, we’ll be able to recover soon,” Monreal told reporters at a Palace briefing.

The MIAA chief added that the aviation sector is now slowly recovering from its losses after the government fully lifted the travel restrictions on Taiwan, and allowed Filipino overseas workers, students and permanent residents to leave for Hong Kong and Macau.

“So ngayon po, slowly recovering dahil sa mga pagbabago at panukala dahil sa mga pag-uusap ng task force na ipinatutupad ng task force and hopefully our local tourism will recover soon,” he said.

The Philippine government earlier implemented an entry ban for passengers who traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

It later expanded the travel ban to include Taiwan but was eventually lifted on February 14.

On Tuesday, the government announced that Filipino workers, students and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau are exempted from the outbound travel ban “subject to certain procedural formalities.”

Meanwhile, Monreal expressed hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease will find a solution to the concerns raised by local airline companies on the safety protocols relating to the travel of its crew to Hong Kong and Macau.

Local carriers have earlier expressed concern on the reduced number of personnel if their crewmembers will constantly be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period after their flights to and from Hong Kong and Macau.  

“Kung ganoon po ang proseso na mayroon pa ho silang quarantine yung mga crew, medyo mahihirapan po sila na magmount ng flights dito kahit po may temporary lifting ng mga pasahero na papunta ng Hong Kong at pabalik po,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

House passes bill seeking stiffer penalties vs child abusers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to impose stiffer penalties against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.

With 228 affirmative and zero negative votes, the Lower Chamber on Monday passed the House Bill No. 137 or the proposed “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

The bill, which would amend parts of the Republic Act No. 7610, aims to deter exploitation and further promote the best interest of the child.

The measure proposes penalties for the following unlawful acts done against children:

  • Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in obscene publications and indecent shows shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period, and reclusion temporal in its maximum period if the said person is an ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child. If the child is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be Reclusion Perpetua in its maximum period.
  • Imprisonment of six months to a minimum of one year to six years or a fine between P100,000.00 to P300,000.00 for child labor practices.
  • Section 12 of R.A. No. 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012,” which provides for the penalties and sanctions for trafficked persons, shall now be imposed on the employment of trafficked children.
  • Discrimination of children from indigenous cultural communities shall now have a penalty of prison correctional in its medium period. A fine between P50,000.00 and P100,000.00 shall also be imposed.
  • The offender shall undergo a re-education and reorientation program on the Indigenous Peoples culture of the Philippines to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights.

Under the bill, the penalties for other acts of abuse, cruelty, or exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development shall also be raised.

The approved measure is a consolidation of six bills.

The Senate version of the bill remains pending at the committee level.

China warns of sustained virus impact on poultry, eggs supply amid rising death toll

UNTV News   •   February 18, 2020

China’s supply of poultry and egg products is likely to be hit in the second and third quarters as the coronavirus outbreak has had a severe impact on the industry, agriculture ministry official Yang Zhenhai told a State Council briefing on Tuesday (February 18).

The world’s second-largest poultry producer, China had been ramping up output to fill a meat shortage after the African swine fever epidemic, which began in 2018, decimated its pig herd.

Poultry prices have plunged this year and restrictions on moving livestock and extended holidays in many areas have paralyzed the supply chain. Farmers have been left with large inventories of birds and eggs even as demand plunged as restaurants and canteens stay shut.

Yang said that since the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to more than 1,800 deaths, live poultry markets have been closed, transportation of baby poultry and live poultry has been curtailed and slaughterhouses have been shut down. (Reuters)

(Production: Wang Shubing, Thomas Suen)

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