- Workers shuttle in ‘new normal’
- Church questions mass restrictions
A labor group has appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to mobilize the government fleet of service vehicles to shuttle millions of ‘no work, no pay’ workers working in small and micro-businesses who are unable to provide shuttle service to their employees who will return to work and re-open today May 18.
Associated Labor Unions Executive Vice President Gerard Seno said the idea of using the government-owned vehicles idle in various government agencies and offices for the use of employees returning to work was aimed at preventing a second wave transmission of the transmission of COVID-19.
Seno said: “We appeal to the chief executive to immediately mobilize all idle government-purchased service vehicles to shuttle daily-paid workers whose employers are unable to provide them with shuttle service due to economic difficulties brought by a 60-day community quarantine lockdown.
“With government vehicles temporarily providing shuttle (this) will help both the economically distressed businesses and incomeless workers who lost their sources of livelihood during the lockdown to slowly recover.”
Majority of Filipinos are re-entering active work with a sense of worry that they might contract the dreaded novel coronavirus, initial results from a survey commissioned by health maintenance organization PhilCare showed.
Based on the preliminary PhilCare survey results, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they were not comfortable about going to work. In fact, 77 percent of them did not feel comfortable leaving their homes with the ongoing pandemic.
“All throughout the quarantine, all we had were assumptions about how Filipinos feel and think about COVID-19. Once complete, this survey should enable employers and even policymakers to come up with measures that will help employees cope with the situation,” PhilCare president and CEO Jaeger Tanco said.
When asked about the things that make them worried the most, 92.25 percent, said that they worry about testing positive for COVID-19. Almost as many respondents get worried each time they heard the number of cases (92.75 percent) or about the possibility of a “second wave” of the pandemic (92 percent). Respondents were also worried about their family’s finances (83.75 percent) and where to get food (81 percent).
Catholic Church reaction
Manila Apostolic Administrator Broderick Pabillo on Sunday criticized government restrictions on religious services, saying limiting Mass attendees to five or 10 people even under relaxed quarantine rules was unreasonable and even “laughable.”
The Catholic Church had been largely compliant with restrictions imposed by the IATF on the Management of Infectious Diseases since the lockdown, cancelling public Masses and Holy Week activities, and switching to online platforms.
In a Facebook post, Pabillo questioned the IATF’s basis for limiting Mass-goers to five during the modified enhanced community quarantine and 10 during the general community quarantine, pointing out that there were no such limits for offices and business establishments.
“It is just another way of saying that you do not have religious activities,” he said. “Why not give instead the instruction that there be one meter or two-meter distance between persons in a church?”
The IATF on Emerging Infectious Diseases, meanwhile, in a statement said persons caught by lockdown, including overseas Filipino workers, students, local tourists and other individuals since the start of community quarantine must secure medical clearance and travel pass before being allowed to leave their places of origin – with face masks worn and social distancing observed.
IATF said locally stranded persons must notify the barangay officials immediately of his presence, citing reasons of being stranded before the local government would issue documents including medical clearance certification and travel authority.
Medical Clearance Certification will be issued only if the stranded person completed the 14-day quarantine period, had no contact with probable or confirmed coronavirus carriers and tested negative twice in RT-PCR.
Lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Barred from returning
Filipinos stuck in Metro Manila during the modified enhanced community quarantine until May 31 will be barred from returning to their respective provinces unless they are classified as “authorized persons outside residence” or APOR.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this reminder as heavy traffic plagued Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares, including Edsa, on Saturday, first day of less strict MECQ.
Under the MECQ, there is still no public transport but private cars are allowed as long as only two people sit per row.
Roque, however, pointed out that under MECQ only essential travel by APORs would be permitted.
Those living in areas declared as MECQ but work in areas declared as GCQ will be allowed to travel as long as they are employed in an industry allowed to operate.
Interzonal travels are allowed between two areas under general community quarantine as long as safety protocols are enforced.
The Dangerous Drugs Board has eased the use of ordinary prescription forms for dangerous drugs.
In a May 15 advisory, the agency considered the declaration of public health emergency as a compelling reason to relax the rules on prescription of dangerous drugs for legitimate medical needs.
DDB Chairperson Catalino Cuy said for the duration of the state of public health emergency pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 922, an ordinary prescription in triplicate copies may now be used in lieu of the special prescription form for dangerous drugs, also known as the yellow prescription, in prescribing dangerous drugs registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
He said the advisory was issued to ensure that access to medical preparations containing dangerous drugs by patients with legitimate medical needs would not be hampered.
While the policy is being introduced with flexibility, strict monitoring would continue to be implemented, he stressed.