DFA Luzon operations suspended, scaled down in VisMin

DFA logo seal
THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will temporarily suspend operations in its consular offices in Luzon beginning Tuesday and will operate with a skeletal workforce in its Visayas and Mindanao offices amid national and local government measures to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus. “Passport applicants with confirmed appointments will be accommodated once operations resume,” the DFA said in a statement on Tuesday. Consular offices in Visayas and Mindanao will continue operations, but will only provide services for “urgent consular needs,” particularly those concerning overseas Filipino workers or medical emergencies. Moreover, Saturday operations in Visayas and Mindanao will be suspended until further notice. Passport applicants with confirmed appointments from March 9 to April 8 will be accommodated from April 13 to May 29 during regular hours except Saturdays. The same period goes for those applying for Authentication and Civil Registration. The Department also said delays or disruptions in the delivery of passports are expected. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

No receiving of documents at OSG

THE OFFICE of the Solicitor General (OSG) is implementing a work-from-home policy for all its employees due to the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine. “Hence, please be advised that the OSG premises are closed and will be unable to receive documents during the duration of the quarantine period,” it said on Tuesday. “The OSG shall begin receiving and processing documents once the quarantine is lifted,” it added. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Lawmakers recommend use of P2P buses, other measures amid quarantine

LAWMAKERS HAVE recommended several measures amid the enhanced community quarantine throughout Luzon island. Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo urged the government to use the existing point-to-point (P2P) buses to provide transportation for workers exempted from the stay-at-home policy. She also called on the government to provide cash transfers for “no work, no pay” employees. Valenzuela Rep. Weslie T. Gatchalian, chair of the House committee on trade and industry, is calling on big companies to roll out corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that will help Filipinos affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). “A sector that requires the most immediate provisions are our health care workers, health care institutions, and other necessary frontliners like the policemen at checkpoints who are ill-equipped, due maybe to the sudden increase of cases and the new guidelines to address the demands of the health emergency,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez urged telecommunications companies to reduce their fees for calls and text messages. “That is really the social distancing means of communication now, with the movement of people being restricted to prevent this deadly coronavirus disease from spreading,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, meanwhile, expressed support for the enhanced community quarantine, citing that this will only result in gross domestic product (GDP) reduction of 2.95%. “Obey the lockdown, it will save 1,565 lives. It could be yours or your loved ones. No lockdown, mass transmission will kill 4.13% of GDP,” he said. “My office has done the numbers. The lockdown will prevent up to 26,500 more infections by May 4, when Congress’s session resumes,” he added. — Genshen L. Espedido