IATF, DOH urged to report expenditure for ‘pop up’ hospitals, isolation facilities

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021   •   519

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health (DOH) to release a public report on the P9 billion fund allocated for makeshift hospitals and isolation facilities.

Hontiveros issued the call following reports of hospitals in Metro Manila becoming overwhelmed amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“The P9 billion, if effectively used, is supposed to go to setting up temporary but humane and fully equipped makeshift hospitals. Filipinos shouldn’t have to watch their loved ones die, sometimes under the heat of the sun, just because hospitals are full,” she said in a statement.

Hontiveros said the P9 billion budget under Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) dedicated for Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities (TTMFs) and isolation facilities needs to be flagged as ‘urgent expenditure’ as hospitals are already reaching full capacity for COVID-19 patients.

She also stressed that is imperative for IATF and DOH to quickly reinforce and upgrade their One Hospital Command Center (OHCC), which is a hotline meant to refer patients to hospitals that still have bed capacity, but has been ‘unreachable’ because of the alleged ‘basic set up’ of its system.

“People are running from city to city while experiencing an emergency because the OHCC cannot be reached. The OHCC could have easily harnessed the capabilities of our world-class BPOs. Filipinos answer the phones when the world calls. We don’t deserve these busy signals,” she said.

“With the billions in funding we have available, that is nothing but another lazy copout. Every phone call they do or do not pick up can spell the difference between life and death. We have known for many months that COVID variants, if left uncontained, could overwhelm our hospitals. Why didn’t we prepare for the worst?” she added.

Hontiveros also said that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) can accredit additional TTMFs to reimburse its operating cost.

“It is important to set up makeshift treatment centers where we can. With added support from the government, it is a system that will be easier to replicate in more areas, especially in areas where hospitals can no longer accommodate more patients,” she said.

“Our health workers and our patients need full support. There is no excuse as to why we are holding back from giving them the best that their lives depend on,” she added.

Metro Manila, and four nearby provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under enhanced community quarantine until April 11 in a bid to stem the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Various hospitals earlier reported that their bed utilization rate for COVID-19 cases has reached a critical level amid the surge in infections.


DOJ to issue immigration lookout bulletin order against Michael Yang

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 14, 2021

Michael Yang


MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser Michael Yang on Tuesday, Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced.

This is in response to the request of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon to place Yang under an immigration watchlist.

Gordon on Monday (September 13) wrote to DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to seek issuance of an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Yang.

A similar request was previously submitted to the DOJ for former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and seven others, to which an immigration lookout order had been released.

Yang and Lao are both under probe due to alleged deficiencies in the use of the P67-billion budget for pandemic response under the Department of Health (DOH) which was reflected in the 2020 Commission on Audit (COA) report.

The Blue Ribbon has been investigating the government’s handling of COVID-19 response funds, including the procurement of supposedly “overpriced” face masks and shields. AAC


Metro Manila to be under Alert Level 4 by September 16

Maris Federez   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced Tuesday that the National Capital Region will be placed under Alert Level 4 beginning September 16, the start of the implementation of the new alert levels system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

DILG  Secretary Eduardo Año said that Metro Manila mayors have agreed to implement the said alert level as a whole.

Based on the IATF issued guidelines, areas under Alert Level 4  are those with COVID-19 case counts that are high or increasing, and the total bed capacity and ICU beds are at a high utilization rate.

Those who are not allowed outside their residences under Alert Level 4 are:

  • persons below 18 years old,
  • those who are over 65 years of age,
  • those with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks; and
  • pregnant women

The said individuals, however, will be allowed to go out to access or obtain essential goods and services, or for work in permitted industries and offices.

Also, intrazonal and interzonal travel for persons not otherwise required to remain at their residences may be allowed subject to the reasonable regulations of the LGU of destination.

Individual outdoor exercises shall be allowed for all ages regardless of comorbidities or vaccination status but shall be limited within the general area of their residence, e.g. within the barangay, purok, subdivision, and/or village.

Outdoor or al fresco dine-in services in restaurants and eateries will operate at a maximum of 30%  venue/seating capacity regardless of vaccination status.

Indoor dine-in services may be allowed at a limited 10%  venue/seating capacity but will cater only to individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor or alfresco capacity. Their workers must also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Personal care services limited to barbershops, hair spas, nail spas, and beauty salons will be allowed at a maximum of 30% venue/seating capacity if such services are conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status.

These establishments are also allowed to operate at a limited 10% indoor venue/seating capacity but may only cater to individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor capacities.

Government agencies will operate at least 20% capacity while applying work-from-home arrangements.

In-person religious gatherings shall be allowed at a maximum of 30% venue/seating capacity if conducted outdoors regardless of vaccination status.

These gatherings may be allowed at a limited 10% venue/seating capacity but may accommodate only individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to their allowed outdoor capacities.

Provided, that pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, or other religious ministers and the assistants of these religious congregations have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Gatherings for necrological services, wakes, inurnment, funerals for those who died of causes other than COVID-19 shall be allowed, provided that the same shall be limited to immediate family members, upon satisfactory proof of their relationship with the deceased and with full compliance with the prescribed minimum public health standards.

Restaurant owners ask gov’t for business amelioration programs and tax incentives

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Restaurant Owners of the Philippines (Resto PH) said that they can no longer stand the impact of COVID-19 on their industry.

With a limited number of diners and being totally closed during the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), restaurant owners said their operation now is unsustainable.

Resto PH president Eric Teng said they should not be considered as non-essential services but rather among the so-called “disabled” industry.

As is the case with persons with disability (PWD) who are entitled to discounts, Teng said they are also asking the government to provide them with the same privileges such as tax incentives and social and business ameliorations.

“We shouldn’t pay full taxes when we’re only allowed 10% capacity. We should have a 90% discount for our taxes or other permits and fees or if 50%, we should also be supported half way. Because we cannot continue supporting our employees’ livelihood without any income for much longer,” Teng said.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año understands the predicament of the group saying the government will look into their appeal.

“Along with the personal care, iyong dine-in, they are considered as doon sa close contact na merong restrictions because when you eat syempre nagtatanggal ka ng mask,” Año said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is now mulling over the plea of some members of the private sector and the Metro Manila Council to allow more mobility for vaccinated residents of the National Capital Region. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)


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