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CSC eases rules on recruitment of public health professionals, social workers

THE CIVIL Service Commission (CSC) has eased the recruitment rules for medical professionals as well as social workers as the country grapples with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. In a statement on Monday, CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala said, “To ensure uninterrupted delivery of crucial services to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Civil Service Commission has revised rules to ensure faster filling up of vacant positions resulting from promotion of those involved in providing essential services in this time of state of national health emergency.” Based on Resolution No. 2000659 issued July 8, health professionals and social workers will be exempted from the CSC’s rule that vacancies due to promotion will not be filled up unless a promotional appointment was made by the CSC. The rule covers hiring “for first and second level positions, including second level executive/managerial positions in the career service, and those appointed to the non-career service who are non-presidential appointees during State of Calamity.” The CSC also said health professionals and social workers holding administrative and other positions in the government may be reassigned or designated additional duties to healthcare and other government facilities during the coronavirus crisis, with their consent.

In the same resolution, the CSC released guidelines to government agencies on the use of virtual modes for interviewing job candidates and other job application concerns. “In recruiting and selecting candidates, agencies shall adopt internal guidelines that will allow online recruitment and selection processes such as online competency assessments, video conferencing for interviews and selection board deliberations.” — Gillian M. Cortez

8th petition vs Anti-Terrorism Act filed

MULTI-SECTORAL organization Sanlakas on Monday asked the Supreme Court to strike down a provision of the new law that expanded terror crimes in the country, the eighth petition filed against the Anti-Terrorism Act. In a nine-page petition, Sanlakas said the court should declare void Section 4 of the law for the vague definition of crimes that are considered terror acts. Sanlakas said “advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, and industrial or mass actions are the forms and vehicles of free speech and expression utilized by the people,” but these can now be considered as terror acts if linked to acts that “cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a persons life, or to create a serious risk to public safety” and purpose.” The group said, “This creates the dangerous situation where the very acts protected and guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution can actually be, as applied on the ground, interpreted or assumed — due to the vagueness of the subjective feature — by the police and military operatives to be the crime of terrorism,” the petition read. The organization also said the crime of terrorism will become highly dependent on law enforcers or military officers, as authorized by the Anti-Terrorism Council. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

OSG, Sandiganbayan, several courts closed as employees test positive for coronavirus

THE OFFICE of the Solicitor General (OSG), anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, and several local courts within Metro Manila have been temporarily closed after employees tested positive for coronavirus infection. In a statement Monday, the OSG said contact tracing and disinfection procedures are underway after one employee tested positive.”(N)o documents will be received or sent out until further notice,” it said. The Sandiganbayan will also be indefinitely closed after two workers tested positive and in consideration of its office’s location. In a memorandum dated July 12, Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang said the decision to physically close starting July 13 was made during an emergency meeting, considering the increasing number of coronavirus cases, especially in Quezon City. “The step is necessary to enable the Sandiganbayan to conduct an immediate and thorough disinfection of its entire building and to conduct contact tracing/monitoring of the health of the Court’s employees,” Ms. Tang said. The anti-graft court’s justices, officials, and employees will continue to perform their work/functions under alternative work arrangements. “The public may contact the Court through its hotline and e-mail addresses as published in the Sandiganbayan website,” she said.

Meanwhile, Manila Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Executive Judge Carissa Anne O. Manook-Frondozo ordered a lockdown on Branch 30 located at the Manila City Hall from July 13 to 24. The MeTC Manila Office of the Clerk of Court located at Parkview Plaza Building is also on lockdown from July 13 to July 22. One employee of each office tested positive. Branch 30 is allowed to conduct hearings through video conference and accept pleadings online while the clerk of court’s office will accept applications for bail and queries on urgent matters through e-mail or by telephone. Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 will also be closed from July 13 to 15. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Patricia S. Gajitos

Mines bureau adopts WFH, 75% workforce at offices

ALL OFFICES of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) have been directed to adopt a work-from-home option while maintaining a maximum 75% workforce, who may be provided with shuttle service, until July 31. MGB Acting Director Wilfredo G. Moncano, in a memorandum order, said employees who are required to report physically may be provided with transport, including point-to-point service. “However, once the public transportation is fully operational, the use of government service vehicles as shuttle services shall automatically be lifted,” he said. In the same order, employees are also advised to conduct field work only in areas where public transportation is in operation and health safety standards are followed. Further, “incurred reasonable expenses” of MGB employees during WFH arrangements may be defrayed by the agency in accordance to its accounting and auditing rules. “The alternative work arrangements shall be adopted only for the duration of the State of National Emergency or until lifted by the President,” Mr. Moncano said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

8 Chinese on immigration blacklist barred entry

THE BUREAU of Immigration (BI) barred the entry of eight Chinese nationals found to have overstayed in their previous visit to the country. In a statement on Monday, Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said the eight were put on the blacklist after they were previously ordered to leave and meted with fines and penalties. “They did not leave before the lapse of their authorized stay without any valid reason or justification. And it took them several months after they arrived before they manifested their intent to depart and return to their country,” Mr. Morente said. The bureau said the eight arrived in the Philippines separately between November 2019 and January 2020, and were given the 30-day visa upon arrival (VUA) for certain foreign tourists, including Chinese. The BI suspended VUAs for Chinese in late January due to the coronavirus pandemic in China. The BI blacklisted and directed to leave 21 Chinese nationals who were granted with VUA for overstaying. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

NGCP again appeals for public to avoid kite-flying, other activities near transmission lines

THE NATIONAL Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) again appealed for the public’s cooperation in protecting transmission lines as it noted that power interruptions during the lockdown period were due to kite flying and other activities near power facilities. In a statement on Monday, the private firm said it recorded 87 incidents of kites entangled in power lines during the strict quarantine period, as of May 29. It cited as an example its Las Piñas-Dasmariñas 230 kilo-volt line, which had to be shut down for eight hours on April 25 due to such incident. “While no customers were affected, the reliability of the grid was compromised at that time,” NGCP said. “These rising incidents of kite entanglements come at a period where electricity is crucial in the ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Breaching safety clearances not only threatens power transmission delivery for the entire grid but also endangers the lives of kite flyers,” it said. The company also appealed for the prohibition of grass burning activities, and “malicious” planting of vegetation below or within the transmission right of way corridor. — Adam J. Ang