#COVID-19 Regional Updates (05/18/20)

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LTFRB wants public transport to log passengers

THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) plans to require public transport operators, especially buses, to have a record of their passengers for contact tracing purposes amid the continued coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread. LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III, in a briefing on Monday, said the passenger manifesto should contain names and contact details. “Yan ang dapat gagawin ng driver at konduktor sa loob ng pampublikong sasakyan (That should be done by the driver and conductor inside the public vehicle),” he said. Mr. Delgra also said commuters should keep a log of their public transportation history. — Gillian M. Cortez

QC Hall of Justice placed under lockdown

THE executive judge of Quezon City has placed the Hall of Justice under lockdown starting May 18 “until further notice.” Executive Judge Cecilyn E. Burgos-Villavert ordered the temporary closure following “circulating and unconfirmed” news that an employee of another agency holding office in the building died of severe pneumonia and is a suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient. The employee went to the Hall of Justice a few days before dying, she said in a statement on Monday. “Considering that the instant matter still needs to be verified and, if true, contact tracing and building disinfection must be first undertaken,” Ms. Villavert said. She also denied that an employee of a Quezon City court died of suspected COVID-19. The Supreme Court issued a circular, maintaining the closure of courts in areas under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). Filing of pleadings in both civil and criminal cases will be done online. The areas under MECQ are Metro Manila, provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, Laguna, and the cities of Cebu and Mandaue. All courts in areas under general community quarantine reopened May 18 with a skeleton workforce. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Cavite malls ordered closed after 1st weekend of relaxed rules

SHOPPING malls in Cavite, including in-house supermarkets and drugstores, have been ordered by the governor to temporarily close starting Monday after the first weekend of reopening due to failure to implement physical distancing measures. Gov. Juanito Victor “Jonvic” C. Remulla, Jr., in a post on his Facebook page Monday, said all mayors in the province agreed to the directive he signed Sunday evening. “Outside the mall before opening; inside the mall during operations; there was no implementation of measures on social distancing,” he wrote in Filipino. The closure will be in effect until establishment owners present a plan on how health safety standards will be strictly observed. Mr. Remulla said “everyone” is mistaken if they think the police is supposed to implement distancing measures inside malls. He also reprimanded the public for trying to “outsmart” the restrictions by using such tactics as presenting an employee identification card even when not on duty, and buying take-out food and eating it just outside the restaurant or the shopping mall instead of going home. “Don’t abuse the system… the catastrophe is not over yet,” he said. Cavite, a province immediately south of Metro Manila with a population of over 3.7 million as of 2015, has recorded 275 coronavirus disease 2019 cases of May 17. — MSJ

Chinese Davao consulate to organize business match-making

THE Chinese Consulate General in Davao City is organizing a match-making activity between local businesses and buyers in China to help spur the economy badly-hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. Consul General Li Lin, in an online interview, said apart from the virtual business-to-business meetings, they are also encouraging Davao entrepreneurs to participate in online trade fairs such as the 127th Canton Fair on November 5 to 10. He added that the Chinese Consulate will be facilitating a policy-tuning discussion to ease trade between China and Davao. Among those who will be invited to participate are port authorities. Mr. Lin, in an interview last February, said durian, avocado and other fruits are potential export commodities to China, which is already a top market for the Philippine’s banana industry. Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry President John Carlo B. Tria, sought for comment, said “all trade possibilities are welcome” as new norms under a continued COVID-19 threat will require the business sector in Davao City and the rest of Mindanao to establish more direct trade links. “All industries can benefit starting with agribusiness but moving forward, we’ll see others following,” Mr. Tria said. — Maya M. Padillo