Davao de Oro molecular laboratory opens

DAVAO de Oro province officially opened its biomolecular laboratory Friday, a project funded through the coronavirus budget under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act No. 11469. Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy, in a social media post after the inauguration ceremony, said the laboratory was recommended by the province’s medical team as a long-term investment for improving public healthcare services. “Wayback last year, when the national government gave us our share of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Grant to the Provinces, we consulted our medical team what good project we can use the money for that will not just be for temporary use. Our doctors suggested the building of our own molecular laboratory,” he said in a mix of English and Visayan. The laboratory is immediately crucial in terms of speeding up the release of test results for coronavirus for residents and lessening the load of neighboring laboratories within the Davao Region. The facility, located within the Davao de Oro Provincial Hospital-Montevista, also upgrades the medical institution’s capacity for research. “God forbid, COVID-19 might not be the last pandemic in our lifetime, what’s important is we are prepared now. And also, this laboratory will also be useful for research extension,” Mr. Uy said. The laboratory was planned and built in partnership with the Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, and the University of the Philippines-Mindanao. Davao de Oro, formerly named Compostela Valley, is commemorating its 23rd founding anniversary on March 8. The celebration on Monday will include the rollout of the first batch of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines allocated to the province. — MSJ

Cebu province to launch ‘affordable’ tour packages to encourage more visitors; ramps up agribusiness program

PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

CEBU’s tourism sector is currently working on “affordable” packages — including airfare, accommodations, and land transport for going around sites — to attract more visitors in the province, especially with the coming summer season. Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia last month issued an order for easing travel requirements across the province, citing the need to jumpstart the tourism industry and boost the local economy. Ms. Garcia, in a press release from the provincial government, said the tour packages “should be affordable for tourists” while tourism establishments should ensure the observance of health guidelines and protocols. “Let’s work together,” she said during a meeting with stakeholders and Department of Tourism-Central Visayas Regional Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano last week. The packages will be patterned after the “Suroy-Suroy Sugbo” tourism program of the provincial government prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The program set up clusters of tourism sites where visitors can go on pre-arranged tours.

COUNTRYSIDE DEVELOPMENT
At the same time, the local government is rolling out a province-wide economic recovery program focusing on the agribusiness sector. The provincial government, represented by the governor, signed a memorandum of agreement with three government banks last Friday, March 5, for the Enhanced Countryside Development Program, wherein farmers and fisherfolk will be given financial support to restart or expand their production. The soft loan program, with a combined initial fund of P20 billion, is backed by the Landbank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, and Philippine Veterans Bank. At the signing ceremony, Ms. Garcia rallied the city and town mayors under the province’s jurisdiction to help in bringing the program to their areas. “We will need all of you. All hands on deck… Cebu is moving on and moving forward,” she said. Among the priority livelihood sectors are corn, cassava, hog raising, mud crabs, milkfish, and food processing such as squash noodles and cassava chips, among others. The provincial government will also help in linking producers to the market to ensure the “right price for the farmers and the right volume for the buyers.”