PH inks deal with Japanese firm for procurement of 2 PCG patrol ships

Robie de Guzman   •   February 7, 2020   •   462

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade (L) and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. president and CEO, Koji Okura (R) led the signing of the contract for the supply and delivery of two (2) units of Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs) under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, Phase II, 7 February 2020.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it has signed a deal with Japanese firm Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. to supply and deliver two units of multi-role response vessels (MRRV) for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. president and CEO, Koji Okura led the signing of the contract held earlier in the day.

During the ceremony, Tugade said the development, which is under phase II of Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, is a breakthrough towards the government’s thrust of modernizing and upgrading the country’s maritime protection and border control.

“The modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard has been going fast and quick and very meaningful… The government of Japan has contributed very much, and to which I express my appreciation for your continued support,” he added.

The MRRVs are measuring approximately 94-meters, have a maximum speed of not less than 24 knots and an endurance of not less than 4,000 nautical miles.

The additional patrol vessels are seen to further boost the PCG’s response to maritime incidents in the country’s waters, up to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), such as search and rescue operations, maritime security operations, and marine environmental protection, among others.

“It is a big stride to the development of this country in the context of maritime security and maritime safety,” PCG Commandant Admiral Joel Garcia said.

The new vessels are expected to be delivered to the country by 2022.

President Koji Okura, meanwhile, expressed his intent to continuously work with the Philippine government in delivering various projects, and initiatives.

“We look forward to working with you all, in this important project and we sincerely appreciate your continuous cooperation to make this project successful,” he said.

PH to use cashless payment system in taxis to further curb COVID-19 spread – DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it is working on forging partnerships with various digital payment providers for the implementation of cashless or contactless transactions in taxis and Transport Network Service Vehicles (TNVS) as part of the “new normal” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, the DOTr said it has tapped payment platforms to help equip taxis and TNVS with scan-to-pay systems to limit direct physical contact between drivers and passengers, thus further curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Taxis and Transport Network Companies (TNC) are allowed to operate in areas placed under general community quarantine at reduced capacity and with strict health and safety protocols.

“Cashless and contactless payment scheme will now be part of the ‘new normal’ in the public transportation system,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

The DOTr said one of the first to tie-up with the government for this purpose is GCash.

Under the partnership, GCash will help enable taxi drivers to accept digital payments through the Scan To Pay app where GCash users only need to scan the unique QR code of the taxi unit they are riding in paying for their metered fares.

GCash is also offering the GCash PowerPay+ solution to taxi operators where they can send out salaries, allowances, and commissions through to their employees, or members nationwide, the DOTr said.

“GCash strongly supports the government’s call for the use of mobile payments to lessen the risk of spreading COVID-19 through surfaces such as paper money,” GCash Head of Payments Jovit Bajar said.

Authorities are also in talks with other payment platforms PayMaya, Squidpay and Beep, among others, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said in the same statement.

“We had consultations with these providers over the weekend. We are encouraging these digital payment providers to partner with taxi operators and TNCs to lessen the chance of COVID-19 spread,” LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said.

“On the part of the TNCs such as Hirna, Grab and Owto, they are already accepting cashless transactions,” he added.

23,000 OFWs test negative for COVID-19 after weeks of quarantine; over 14,000 may go home

Marje Pelayo   •   May 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Over 20,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) can finally breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of isolation in different quarantine facilities in Metro Manila since they arrived in the country.

This was after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed that their tests yielded negative results for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Over 14,000 of them have been cleared and may now go home to see their families.

Ang panuntunan ay pwede nang gamitin yung e-clearance para bumilis as agreed upon yesterday doon sa aming meeting. Pwedeng i-print at yung na yung gagamitin nila para makaalis na po doon sa kanilang mga hotel,” confirmed PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo.

[They may now get an e-clearance to make it expedite the process as agreed upon our meeting yesterday. They may print a copy and present it to the hotel so they can leave.]

Balilo said the agency targets to process their clearances as soon as possible so they can finally travel home. 

Meanwhile, the official said that about 8,000 others are still waiting for their test results.

Balilo also confirmed that from all of the overseas Filipinos who arrived in the country so far, over 500 tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently being treated in government medical facilities. 

The list of names of OFWs with negative COVID-19 results may be viewed through PCG’s social media account. 

On Thursday (May 21), 41 seafarers whose jobs abroad were affected by the pandemic, finally boarded the service vessel which will bring them home to Visayas and Mindanao.

Despite the circumstances, the seafarers said they are just looking on the brighter side of the situation.

They are still thankful that they may now spend more time with their family.

Makakasama (ko na ang mga) bata. Take this opportunity na i-enjoy ang mga bata at ang pamilya, [I can now be with my children. Take this opportunity to enjoy time with the kids and family,” said Terresa Peres.

Sa bahay lang siguro kasi pagdating namin sa Bohol another 14 days na naman na quarantine, [I might stay at home because upon arrival in Bohol I will need another 14 days in quarantine],” added Alfonzo Baleleng.

Maraming salamat po sa mga sumuporta, sa nag-a-asikaso po sa amin, at sa agency po namin, lalo na sa government po natin na sinisikap po nila na mapauwi tayo lahat dito [I thank everyone for the support, to those who attended to our needs, to our agency and especially to our government for exerting efforts to bring us home],” expressed Vergintino Cagata. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

GCash tapped for faster, safer distribution of cash aid to PUV drivers – DSWD

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Public utility vehicle (PUV) and transport network vehicle service (TNVS) drivers in the National Capital Region (NCR) who are qualified beneficiaries of the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) may soon get their cash assistance through GCash, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced Thursday.

In a statement, the DSWD said the department, along with the Department of Transportation-Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, forged a partnership with G-Xchange, Inc. (GCash) for the distribution of cash subsidies to TNVS and PUV drivers and their families.

The DSWD said the partnership aims to facilitate a quicker and safer approach of cash disbursement since the payout scheme promotes cashless and contactless transactions, compliant to the health and safety protocols being implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

GCash is one of the mobile wallet platforms widely used in the Philippines.

The DSWD said that by leveraging financial technology for the disbursement of cash aid, the risk of crowding will be reduced in disbursement centers like banks, while also improving efficiencies, and promoting transparency and accountability.

“TNVS driver-beneficiaries may withdraw their subsidies via GCash from any Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) nationwide or use the funds to pay for physical and online transactions,” the department said.

“They may also use GCash to pay bills to over 70,000 merchants and billers, buy airtime load, and easily transfer money to other GCash account owners or bank accounts from over 40 financial institutions nationwide,” it added.

The development comes ahead of the distribution of the second tranche of SAP payout.

This also comes after Senator Grace Poe urged the government to tap online cash transfer systems to expedite the distribution of cash subsidy to driver-beneficiaries.

The DSWD vowed to continue to explore more efficient and expeditious means to ensure the provision of needed assistance to low-income families assessed to be most affected by the implementation of the community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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