#COVID-19 Regional Updates

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Trade chief says failure to provide transport in MECQ areas not good for a company’s reputation

TRADE Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said failure to provide transportation assistance to employees within areas still under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) does not reflect well on companies. Mr. Lopez sent the statement to reporters on Saturday, withdrawing his initial comments that employees who refuse to work due to public transport limitations could be at risk of losing their jobs. Metro Manila, Cebu City, and several provinces in Luzon remain under the MECQ policy, wherein public transport is still banned but more sectors and businesses are allowed to resume operations. Mr. Lopez, in a briefing Saturday, called on employers to provide onsite or near-site accommodations and transportation to workers. “Kung meron silang mga private vehicles, pwede rin pong gamitin ito (If employees have private vehicles, they are allowed to use these),” he said. The Management Association of the Philippines in April proposed a “demand-driven” transport system in Metro Manila, opening up public transport in phases for employees to gradually return to work. — Jenina P. Ibañez

125 more immigration officers at NAIA negative for COVID-19

ANOTHER 125 Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers posted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) tested negative for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These are on top of the 206 officers at the airport and 150 employees at the BI main office who were also negative for COVID-19 in results released earlier. Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said they are conducting mass testing for frontline officers, especially at the airport, as they are at risk of contracting the disease. “We are initially implementing this at NAIA, as well as our Main Office. We are planning to conduct testing in our other offices nationwide as well,” he said in a statement. Rapid testing has also been conducted at the BI detention facility for 159 at-risk inmates and personnel. “Thankfully, all tested negative during the rapid testing, but this does not mean that we will lower our guard,” Mr. Morente said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Baguio City plans tax relief for local businesses

THE Baguio City council is preparing an ordinance that will provide local tax relief to businesses, including those that were allowed continued operations during the lockdown period. In a statement on Sunday, the local government said the draft law is set for publication, after which it will undergo hearings for consideration of additional suggestions. The current draft gives establishments until Nov. 30 to settle business taxes without interest or surcharges for delayed payment. The city administration said the council has requested the “local finance committee to submit recommendations on the pending measure for possible incorporation in the final version, which shall be tackled on the proposal’s third and final reading.” Section 192 of the Local Government Code of the Philippine (R.A. 7160) authorizes local governments to provide tax exemptions, incentives or reliefs. The tax relief is in line with the city’s economic recovery plan following the disruptions brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. — MSJ

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