Tenants to get 30-day extension in paying residential rent under ‘Bayanihan Law’

Robie de Guzman   •   March 26, 2020   •   2982

MANILA, Philippines – Tenants struggling to pay their residential rent during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon will be given a one-month extension to settle their dues under the newly-signed ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One’ Law.

Under the Republic Act No. 11469 recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, a minimum of 30-day grace period is provided on residential rents falling due within the quarantine period “without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges” to ease the burden of individuals affected by the Luzon-wide community quarantine.

The provision, which was recommended by Senator Grace Poe during Monday’s special session, is seen as a move to help especially low-wage earners who are struggling to pay their rental payments during this public health crisis.

“Many renters live paycheck to paycheck but during these extraordinary times when they suddenly need to work or not at all, they might not have enough to pay for their rent and may even face the possibility of eviction,” Poe said.

“In pushing for this provision in the bill, we hope to ease the growing financial burden of the pandemic particularly on millions of poor Filipino households,” she added.

The Duterte administration also moved the statutory deadlines and timelines for the filing of any document, the payment of taxes, fees and other charges required by law in view of the continuing rise of confirmed novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

The law also grants Duterte additional powers to deal with the current crisis, including realigning any appropriation in the national budget to fast-track government response against COVID-19, provide poor Filipino families with P5,000 to P8,000 financial aid for two months under an expanded Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

The measure also provides the payment of a special risk allowance for all public health frontliners, and the anti-hoarding and profiteering of hygiene and sanitation products. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PNP reopening of frontline administrative services moved to June 4

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday announced that the resumption of its frontline administrative functions and regulatory services has been moved to June 4, Thursday.

PNP’s frontline administrative services include the processing of license to own and possess firearms, and the issuance of permits and police clearances to the public.

In a statement, the PNP said the postponement is in view of the expected public turnout and the stream of police personnel in Camp Crame as the Metro Manila and other parts of the shift to general community quarantine (GCQ).

“We need to control both foot and vehicular traffic in Camp Crame. While we are ready to attend to the needs of the public, we must also consider the safety of our PNP personnel,” PNP chief General Archie Gamboa said in a statement.

Units under the PNP Civil Security Group that will resume operations and transactions on Thursday are Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies (SOSIA), One-Stop-Shop Office (OSS) and Regional Civil Security Units (RCSU).

The PNP also announced the postponement of its recruitment processing “until further notice” due to the strict implementation of quarantine protocols in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The recruitment processing was supposed to resume Monday, June 1.

Meanwhile, Gamboa assured that the 205,000-strong police force remains on a high state of readiness as the country transitions to more relaxed form of quarantine measures amid the continuing threat of COVID-19.

“Our police units are under orders to extend maximum assistance to provide safety and security to all workers who will report back to work tomorrow,” he said.

The PNP chief also emphasized that checkpoints, curfew, travel restrictions, strict enforcement of physical distancing, and minimum health standards will still be implemented across the country in accordance with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Guidelines on General Community Quarantine.

The PNP likewise reiterated that travelers who will cross other regions or provinces need to secure travel authority from local police stations. They are required to present health certificates from their respective barangays in applying for a travel pass.

Travelers within a province or a region need not secure a travel pass but must ready identification and other necessary documents to be presented when they are flagged down for random checking.

Gamboa also said the PNP will strictly implement the full force of the law against cybercrimes and “any form of abuse on our women and children in this new normal”.

He said the PNP is taking appropriate steps to focus on public safety, law enforcement and internal security functions with greater attention to government flagship campaigns against crime, illegal drugs, and corruption amid the health crisis.

As the country transitions into the ‘new normal’ situation, Gamboa also assured the protection of police front-liners who stay committed to their duties, and punishment for those who abuse their authority. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

‘Haircut only’: Salons, barbershops to open on June 7

Marje Pelayo   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 has allowed the reopening of salons and barbershops beginning June 7 — but services are only limited to haircuts and no pedicures or manicures.

Also, strict health protocols must be observed by both clients and staff to prevent possible transmission of COVID19.

According to the guidelines released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the partial opening of salons and barbershops, the following steps must be strictly observed:

  • A 10-minute interval between customers should be taken to allow disinfection or sanitation of the premises and tools. 
  • Contact-less transactions such as online appointments or text messaging as well as cashless payment or online cash transfer are required. However, for those who have no access to online payment, a tray must be provided where they can place the money upon payment.
  • Only the person seeking haircut service is allowed inside, unless the person’s condition requires a company.
  • Foot bath or disinfection mat is required at the entrance of the establishment.
  • Temperature check and alcohol rub are mandatory upon entering the establishment.
  • The customer’s personal belongings must be disinfected and then placed inside a sanitary bag.
  • Wearing any piece of jewelry is not allowed even wrist watches. 
  • Clients must be given a copy of the health checklist, which should also be visibly posted within the establishment’s premises. 
  • Chairs must be at one-meter distance and floor markings must be installed to guide customers.
  • Staff must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to include face masks and shield, goggles, gloves and hair caps when rendering services. 
  • They must put their shoes on and practice regular hand washing.

“It’s for the safety of their workers. Para sa mga nagtatrabaho doon sa salon at iyong mga customers ang ginagawa nating protocols,” explainde DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo. 

According to the DTI, there are around 45,000 salons and barbershops across the country which employ around 400,000 workers. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

COVID-19 cases in PHL breach 18,000; New cases mostly from Metro Manila – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country have climbed to 18,086 with 862 new cases reported on Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said that of the new cases, only 16 are “fresh” or those results that came out within three days while 846 are “late” or results belatedly reported.

Of the fresh cases, six are from the National Capital Region (NCR), while the remaining 10 are from other regions.

Of the late cases, 238 are from the NCR, 81 from Central Visayas, 235 are repatriates, and the remaining 292 are from other regions.

In its May 31 bulletin, the DOH noted that the fresh cases are based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by only 15 out of 42 current operational laboratories.

“Late cases reported from May 28 to 31 are based on the validation of complete line lists from 27 laboratories and the partial line list from one laboratory. No more late cases will be reported until the remaining 14 operational labs submit their line lists,” the DOH added.

The DOH also reported seven new fatalities for May 31, bringing the total deaths to 957 while recoveries rose to 3,909.

In a virtual briefing on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the increase in reported COVID-19 cases since Friday means that its current validation process is much faster after they have completed the COVID-19 test backlogs.

“Sana ay naiintindihan niyo po na kahit mataas ang mga bagong naitatalang kaso ay hindi po ibig sabihin na lumalala ang ating situation. Nawa ay napuksa na din ang pangamba sa inyong isipan ukol sa kung tama ba ang naging desisyon na mag transition to GCQ [general community quarantine],” she said.

The DOH earlier said that one of the experts’ basis in recommending to shift Metro Manila and other areas to GCQ is the slower case doubling rate, which is now noted at seven days compared to every two days pre-quarantine period in March.

Under GCQ, more businesses and offices are allowed to resume partial operations, and more employees have been authorized to return to work, provided that minimum health standards are observed. Public transportation operations have also resumed but only at limited capacity.

The department, however, called on the public to remain vigilant and to continue observing health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face mask and maintaining good hygiene to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

“Kahit nasa GCQ na tayo, hindi ito ibig sabihin na relax na rin tayo sa mga protocols natin. Sa Lunes, pagpasok ng mga may trabaho, paglabas ng bahay, huwag po kalimutang magsuot ng [face] mask, dumistansya ng isang metro sa mga katabi, magbaon ng alcohol para sa mga kamay,” Vergeire urged. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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