Regional Updates (07/26/20)

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Cebu Pacific appeals for standard airport regulations from local governments

BUDGET CARRIER Cebu Pacific has called for common protocols from local governments hosting airports, citing that varying regulations makes it difficult to rebuild their network of flights, especially domestic services. Without the standardization of these regulations, were actually having a hard time rebuilding the network because as each LGU (local government unit) comes up or gives us their requirements, we will also have to inform our passengers on what the requirements are. Everythings very fluid. That is the challenge for us today,Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing and customer service, said in a virtual presser Friday. There are a lot of restrictions so that is what we are managing on a day-to-day basis as we rebuild the network. The challenge for us is we do recognize that there is a need to limit air travel to essential travel only, at the same time we need to strike a better balance. Our hope is we start opening domestic to assist in the recovery of the industry,she added. Ms. Iyog said the Air Carrier Association in the Philippines, wherein the airline is a member, has already sent letters to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and LGUs requesting for standardized regulations. Maya M. Padillo

Pangasinan health chief assures province not going back to strict lockdown

PANGASINAN OFFICIALS are not planning to revert the province to a strict lockdown despite recording its highest daily record of positive cases at 23 on July 24. In a statement on Sunday, Provincial Health Officer Anna Ma. Teresa S. de Guzman said Pangasinan, which has one of the biggest populations in the country at about three million, has not reached the critical zonebased on the classification guidelines from the COVID-19 national task force. As of July 25, the province has recorded 203 cases, with 115 recoveries and 10 deaths. The 78 active cases include 72 in different towns and six in the independent city of Dagupan. Last week, officials of the Dagupan-based Region 1 Medical Center, the biggest government-run hospital in the province, called for a return of the province to the strict enhanced community quarantine category. Based on our review of the case data in Pangasinan, we really expected that the numbers would go up because we have been conducting expanded mass testing and strengthened our active case finding activities following a directive from Governor Amado I. Espino III,Ms. De Guzman said in Filipino. Mr. Espino, in the same statement, said the increase in COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases may also be partly attributed to returning residents who were stranded elsewhere in the country, mostly in Metro Manila.   

Davao airport under review for OFW one-stop-shop

THE DAVAO International Airport (DIA) is undergoing assessment for a one-stop processing center for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to further disperse international passenger traffic who are required to undergo health and quarantine protocols. The national government is conducting inspection in Davao International Airport if there is a possibility to establish a one-stop-shop,said Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio of Davao City, where the airport is located. Such one-stop-shops have been set up at the airports in Manila, Clark, and Cebu. In a one-stop-shop, an OFW will be tested and will be brought to a hotel, and once the test result is available, the OFW may proceed to the LGU (local government unit) of destination and proceed to home quarantine, and for those positives, they will be brought to a hospital. The national government is looking if this is doable in DIA,the mayor said. The city government started implementing last week the requirement for arriving passengers to have a negative RT-PCR test released in the previous 72 hours for immediate exit from the airport. Those who do not have a valid test result can avail of free testing at the airport, but will have to stay at the designated 50-bed holding center for up to 48 hours. Maya M. Padillo

Bangsamoro lawmakers call for use of P200-M emergency fund for healthcare workers

A RESOLUTION calling on the Bangsamoro Ministry of Health to provide additional incentives to health workers was filed last week, proposing the use of an allocation provided under the regional governments emergency fund. Despite Bangsamoro health workers’ deplorable conditions overworked, underpaid, unsafe, and unsupported they are now in the forefront of fighting the deadly virus across the nation, to the extent that some health workers have succumbed or fallen victims to the coronavirus,reads part of the resolution authored by parliament members Amir Mawallil, Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, and Sittie Shahara Mastura. The salaries of healthcare workers in the country are below the daily minimum cost of living, and fall short compared to the remuneration other countries pay for the same profession, hence, the substantial difference in salaries and benefits of health workers in the country is the main reason that drives Bangsamoro health workers to work abroad, it said. The resolution proposes the use of a P200-million fund allocated for the health sector under the Quick Response Fund of the Office of the Chief Minister. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has about 2,000 regular health workers. As of July 24, BARMM has recorded 423 coronavirus cases, with 128 recoveries and eight deaths.