Sen. Villanueva, manufacturers to appeal against the total firecracker ban

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 23, 2020   •   806

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva and other firecracker manufacturers are appealing against President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to totally ban firecrackers in the country.

The senator said the industry has become a part of the country’s culture and suggested fixing the industry instead of totally banning it.

“Aapila tayo sa Pangulo, maipaliwanag nating husto, kung saan tayo nanggagaling. Importante talaga ang maayos na regulation, (We will appeal to the President and carefully explain our side. What’s important is to fix the regulation),” he said.

Fireworks manufacturer Joven Ong said the ban would also affect manufacturing companies that are producing quality fireworks.

“Kami nakikiusap na huwag naman sana lahat ng industry dahil meron naman gumagawa ng kalidad na pailaw, na hindi naman nakakadulot ng pinsala walang nasasaktan (We are appealing not to ban the whole industry because there are those who are manufacturing quality [fireworks] which are not dangerous),” he said. AAC (with reports from Nestor Torres)

PH gov’t urged to open more off-site passport services

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva has called on the government to open more off-site passport processing centers in malls outside of Metro Manila as the easing of COVID-19 cases prompts Filipinos to hunt for overseas jobs again.

In a statement, Villanueva said the move of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to open six Temporary Off-Site Passport Services (DFA-TOPS) in NCR last month was “a great solution that should be replicated and scaled up” nationwide.

Passport processing, he added, is “an important employment assistance not only to OFWs but to first-time job seekers.”

“Well, in a sense, you can view it as job generation activity,” Villanueva said.

As travel restrictions get rolled back globally, the senator is optimistic that this will open up economies that will take back furloughed workers, many of whom were Filipinos.

Citing a report from the DFA, Villanueva noted that some 420,205 OFWs affected by the COVID economic slowdown were repatriated with government help since the pandemic shut down businesses.

“For many of them, the forced vacation is over. And some of them may have expired passports. The rush to renew this indispensable travel document is what is causing the logjam in passport applications,” Villanueva said.

In anticipation of the global economic reopening next year, he said the government should make sure that OFWs have the necessary documents with them.

He said even non-OFWs will benefit from more passport processing centers.

“Kasama rin po dito yung mga lolo at lola na sabik ng makabisita sa kanilang mga anak at apo na naninirahan sa ibang bayan,” he said.

The DFA forecasted 4.2 million pieces of passports processed in 2020 but ended the year with 1.73 million passports issued.

It also targeted 4,556,325 pieces of passport issued this year but as of July 2021, only 1,281,836 had been released.

“Dahil sa COVID surges, marami pong kababayan natin ang hindi nakapag-apply ng passport. Dagdag pa ang domestic travel restrictions plus health protocols. Kaya pag bumaba po ang mga cases ng COVID, asahang tataas ng applications for passports,” he said.

Villanueva is one of the authors of Republic Act 10928, which extends to 10 years the validity of Philippine passports.

Provisions guaranteeing the ease of securing passports and other work documents are also highlighted in his bill that seeks the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos.

IATF places Bulacan, Apayao, Capiz under GCQ beginning October 18

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines— Quarantine restrictions in the provinces of Bulacan, Apayao, and Capiz have been downgraded, Malacañang announced Sunday.

“The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved the recommendation to place the said provinces under general community quarantine (GCQ) from October 18 to October 31, ” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Bulacan and Apayao were initially placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) while Capiz was previously under GCQ with heightened restrictions.

Under GCQ, any person below 18 years old, above 65 years old, including those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women, shall be required to remain in their residences at all times, except for obtaining essential goods and services, or for work in industries and offices.

Entertainment and recreational venues, casinos, and outdoor sports are sill not permitted to operate during GCQ. Face-to-face or in-person classes for basic education shall be suspended. AAC

Residents in parts of Bulacan warned amid Ipo Dam spilling ops

Marje Pelayo   •   September 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Hydrometeorology Division advises residents in some parts of Bulacan to take caution amid the continuous spilling operations at Ipo Dam.

As of 8:00 a.m. Tuesday (September 14), the water level of Ipo Dam is 100.72 meters.

The dam management continues to conduct spilling operations with one gate open and thus, PAGASA advised residents in low-lying areas and those living near the riverbanks of Angat River from Norzagaray, Angat, San Rafael, Bustos, Baliuag, Pulilan, Plaridel, Calumpit, and Hagonoy to be alert for possible increase in water level.

PAGASA assured that it will continue to monitor the hydrological condition of Ipo Dam along with the Dam management for updates.

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