#COVID-19 Regional Updates (05/26/20)

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Cebu province taps 3 state-owned banks for P20B economic recovery fund

THREE government-owned banks have agreed to create a common fund, initially set at P20 billion, for Cebu’s economic recovery program, the provincial government announced Monday. Officials of LandBank of the Philippines (LandBank), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and the Philippine Veterans Bank (Veterans Bank) met with Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia and other local officials last May 21 to discuss the financing plan that will be open to marginalized farmers, small and medium farm organizations, and large agriculture enterprises. “We have to give hope to the people, and we have to manage this fear and turn this into hope,” Ms. Garcia told the bank executives. The provincial government, along with city and town officials, are aiming to revive the local economy from the impact of the coronavirus crisis by focusing on agricultural development in the countryside. The banks will determine interest rates, loan packages and other financing terms, which will be presented to the provincial government. In the meantime, the governor ordered an inventory of the province’s land and properties where rice and corn could be planted to make the province self-sufficient for these basic commodities. — MSJ

Taxi-hailing firm Hirna to help in contact tracing in Davao City; prepares for e-payment

HOMEGROWN taxi-hailing firm Hirna Mobility Solutions, Inc. will assist in the contact tracing efforts of Davao City by collecting information from passengers. Region 11 Taxi Operators Association Inc. President Rogelio G. Largo said they will be undertaking this as they prepare to adopt electronic payment options as part of minimizing risks of coronavirus transmissions. “We are working on it now. We expect that we will be able to provide electronic payment options in the month of June this year. It will be the new normal for taxi riding public,” Mr. Largo said via messenger, noting that e-payments are part of the new guidelines from the government. “The need for Hirna as an online booking platform for taxis in Davao City has become greater at this time. With Hirna, those needing a ride need not go out of their homes to look for and hail a taxi,” he said. There are currently 4,300 taxis installed with the Hirna app, but Mr. Largo said only about 60% of the units are operating. “Some drivers have opted not to return to drive for lack of passengers. Others have preferred to remain in their respective provinces,” he said. The contact tracing form will include the passenger/s name, contact number, date and time of trip, and destination. Davao City has the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in Mindanao at 232 as of May 25. City officials and regional health authorities have faced difficulties in contact tracing, particularly among thousands of participants of a series of cockfighting events in March, where a COVID-19 patient was determined to have been in attendance. — Maya M. Padillo