LANDBANK, GSIS offer education-related loans

STATE-RUN Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), which covers public sector workers, have launched loan programs for educational needs. Under LANDBANK’s P1.5-billion “study now, pay later” program, parents can avail of up to P300,000 to pay for tuition fees. The loans carry an annual fixed interest rate of 5%. The bank, in a statement, said the credit facility is open to incoming students qualified under the admission and retention requirements of a school accredited by the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education, or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Parents or guardians who will apply for the program should have an “established repayment capacity, credit history and good credit standing.”

GSIS, on the other hand, is offering an educational and computer loan to members starting August 1. In a briefing on Thursday, Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said there will a P30,000 computer loan and up to P100,000 for tuition fees. Classes for the primary and secondary levels will begin August 24, with the DepEd adopting a “blended learning” system using various mediums to avoid face-to-face school sessions amid the coronavirus outbreak. — Beatrice M. Laforga and Gillian M. Cortez

Bill seeks creation of informal sector database

A MEASURE institutionalizing a national database on the informal sector to ensure they are covered by government assistance during state emergencies has been filed in the Senate. Under Senate Bill No. 1363, the Informal Economy Registration and National Database Act, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara proposes to establish a national registry for the informal sector. “The members of the informal economy suffered just as much or even more than their counterparts in the formal economy and yet they missed out on the assistance that was provided by the government,” Mr. Angara said in a statement Thursday. He added the measure is also intended to help government agencies draft a more inclusive policy. The bill defines “informal economy” as all activities by workers and economic units that are not covered or insufficiently covered by laws or formal arrangements. It will cover all enterprises, entrepreneurs and even households. The database will be established by the labor department and the National Economic and Development Authority, in coordination with local government units (LGUs). An informal economy one-stop shop will also be set up by LGUs to process the transactions and business permit applications. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Getz Healthcare appeals for plasma donors among coronavirus survivors

GETZ HEALTHCARE Philippines is calling on coronavirus infection survivors to donate and participate in the convalescent plasma therapy. Ian Grist, Getz general manager, said survivors should come forward and help save lives. “We’ve seen many discouraged… and equally you see the best of humanity cope through with people stepping up to do what we can,” he told BusinessWorld in an interview. “If somebody has recovered from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), then in many ways the least they can do is spend at least an hour of their time to save two people… or encourage people to come forward and help save a life,” he added. “If more of that happens, I think the less fearful people of the Philippines would be about coronavirus.” Getz donated last month two Scinomed Plasma Collection Machines and disposable sets worth P4.3 million to St. Luke’s Medical Center for its Convalescent Plasma Therapy Program, which cuts the time for collection of a donor’s plasma to just 40 minutes from 1.2–1.5 hours. The machines can also collect up to 1,000 milliliters (ml) of convalescent plasma instead of the current 500 ml, allowing treatment for two to three persons in one collection. Getz Healthcare Vice-President for Sales and Marketing Pete D. Miranda, Jr. said five people have already donated plasma using the new machines. He also said that since the machine is specific to plasma collection, it is “more efficient and more comfortable” to both donors and doctors due to the shortened process. Mr. Miranda said they plan to bring in more machines, the first in the country and Southeast Asia. Mr. Grist said that if other hospitals or sectors show interest in the machine, “I’m sure we can come with an arrangement.” Convalescent plasma therapy aims to give COVID-19 patients plasma of survivors that contain the antibodies that would help reduce the viral load of the virus. This treatment was also used in other diseases such as Ebola and Sars, among others. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

1st batch of OFW remains arriving Friday

THE FIRST batch of 44 deceased overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Saudi Arabia will arrive Friday, July 10, while another batch of 44 will follow on Monday. Of the first batch, 19 died from the coronavirus disease while the rest from natural causes, according to Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque. The government was supposed to bring home the remains of 274 deceased OFWs from Saudi Arabia last week, but faced numerous difficulties including contracting a plane and addressing documentary requirements. In a briefing on Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said they expect 44 more remains to be brought home next week. “We will be doing that until we will bring home all of the OFWs,” he added.— Gillian M. Cortez