DTI recommends ‘seniors only’ shopping hour, other measures

THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) urged supermarkets and pharmacies to adopt measures that will further ease the shopping process as well as improve health protection for senior citizens amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In an advisory, DTI recommended allocating a “seniors only” shopping hour, exclusive entry to avoid the queue when entering establishments, and an express lane in addition to the existing senior citizens lane for those buying 25 items or less. Under Philippine law, senior citizens are those aged at least 60. Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año last week said senior citizens who live alone should be given quarantine passes following reports that some local government units deny them the passes. — Jenina P. Ibañez

More PPEs needed by private hospitals

DESPITE NUMEROUS donations of personal protective equipment (PPEs) from both foreign and local entities, private hospitals have called for help for sourcing more supply amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. In a radio interview Sunday, Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) President Rustico A. Jimenez said private hospitals still need more PPEs since donations are primarily directed to public hospitals. “Meron nakakarating pero kulang at kulang pa rin kasi napakaraming pasyente (We have received some, but this is still very insufficient because there are so many patients),” he said. “Iniiwasan namin na merong namamatay kasi ang latest count ay 12 na ang namatay (We are avoiding deaths because the latest count is that 12 [doctors] have already passed away,” Mr. Jimenez said. — Gillian M. Cortez

370 Filipinos in Italy repatriated

THE DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has repatriated 370 Filipinos from three cruise ships docked in Italy, who all arrived on Saturday evening. “The group of repatriates is composed of 248 Filipinos from MV Costa Luminosa from Milan, and a combined number of 122 Filipinos from MV Grandiosa and MV Opera docked in Rome,” DFA said in a statement on Sunday. None of the repatriates were showing symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but they will still undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine under the supervision of the Bureau of Quarantine. DFA also reported extending assistance in sending back home more than 700 foreign nationals who were affected by the government’s travel restrictions and flight cancellations by airlines. “More repatriation flights for foreign nationals in the pipeline,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido D. Dulay said in a separate post early Sunday. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Labor federation reports ‘unjust practices’ by 160 companies amid COVID-19 outbreak

MORE THAN 300 reports of unjust labor practices by 160 companies were recorded by a labor federation through a survey conducted March 19–22 amid the community quarantine measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reforms (SUPER) said it “gathered 318 reports of unjust employer practices of 160 companies.” “These reports include companies that are allegedly using the crisis to justify illegal termination of its workers (11 companies), workers made to work under the “no work, no pay” scheme but without transport being provided; (81 companies), flexible work arrangements but with reduced pay (28 companies), suspension of work without pay (98 companies) coupled with refusal to apply for the financial assistance programs being offered by the Department of Labor and Employment (56 companies),” the federation said. The list of the companies has been sent to the Labor Department and local government units. SUPER is conducting another survey from March 27 to April 5. — Gillian M. Cortez