Validation result of COVID-19 test kits by UP NIH expected by April 1

THE VALIDATION result of the test kit developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes for Health (UP NHI) will be submitted by Wednesday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo said. If approved by the FDA, UP NHI will be allowed to circulate the test kits in the market. “Kung makita natin na ‘yung performance nung (when we see that the performance of the) test kit is at par, as good as the other test kits that are circulating now, then mabibigyan na po natin sila ng (they will be given) permission to market it more widely,” Mr. Domingo said in a radio interview Tuesday. The FDA approved on March 10 the test kit developed by local scientists and issued a Certificate of Exemption to the SARS CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Distribution of cash aid for low-income households being readied

THE DEPARTMENT of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Finance (DoF) are now working on the database of low-income households who will benefit from the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) as part of response measures for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. “DoF and DSWD are now finalizing their database,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III told reporters by phone message Tuesday. Mr. Sotto was citing Malacañang’s full report early Tuesday evening, a week after Congress approved the measure granting President Rodrigo R. Duterte special powers to address the COVID-19 impact. Under the ESP, low-income households are expected to receive between P5,000 to P8,000 cash assistance, depending on the region, per month for two months. House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said ESP beneficiaries will need to fill up social amelioration cards. He said aside from the 4.4 million families under the existing 4Ps cash transfer program, DSWD identified another 4.6 million households classified as poor. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Genshen L. Espedido

SC greenlights filing of complaint, bail via e-mail

THE SUPREME Court has directed trial courts to accept the online filing of complaints and information, and of bail to limit the movement by court users amid the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 issued on March 31, Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta outlines procedures that should be adopted with the online filing system, which will be through “electronic transmission or email.” The executive judges are also ordered to submit a weekly report on their respective court activities to the Office of the Court Administrator, who shall submit regular reports or recommendations to the Court en banc. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

PHL joins UN call for global ceasefire as countries battle COVID-19

THE PHILIPPINES joined 52 other United Nations member states in calling for an immediate global ceasefire amid efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The Philippine Mission to UN in New York said it is concerned on women, children, and all civilians, including the displaced and marginalized, affected by armed conflicts. “These populations are already impacted disproportionately by armed conflict,” the Philippine Mission said in a statement on Monday, NY time. “An immediate global ceasefire would markedly reduce these impacts, allow for much-needed humanitarian assistance and protection, and hopefully diminish the spread of COVID-19.” President Rodrigo R. Duterte had earlier sought a unilateral ceasefire with local communist rebels after he placed the entire Luzon island under an enhanced community quarantine. Communist leaders responded only after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire. — Charmaine A. Tadalan