Lawmaker pushes for cashless toll collection system

A LAWMAKER is calling for the immediate passage of a bill that will establish a unified cashless collection system in tollroads, which has become more critical for minimizing physical contact as the coronavirus threat lingers. “In the absence of a cure or vaccine for COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), and with the still increasing number of confirmed infections in the country, we must continue finding ways to help contain the spread of the virus and save more lives,” Valenzuela Representative Weslie T. Gatchalian said in a statement on Friday. House Bill 6119, which was filed in February, will require tollroad operators to implement technologies and business practices that allow for interoperability. The proposed law also mandates the Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, to create a multi-protocol radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The bill is currently lodged with the House Committee on Transportation. — Genshen L. Espedido

20 free WiFi sites in Basilan to be launched June 30

TWENTY FREE WiFi hotspots in the cities of Isabela and Lamitan in the island province of Basilan will be launched June 30, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) announced on Sunday. DICT, in a statement, said the free WiFi sites are expected to “promote the use of information and communications technology to improve the delivery of critical government services, and provide a lower entry barrier for new Internet users, among others.” DICT-Mindanao Cluster 1 Director Maria Teresa M. Camba explained that the project started in December 2019, with “a backhaul link from Zamboanga City” installed to connect Isabela City and a similar set up was made for Lamitan. “We cannot emphasize further the importance of connectivity and access, especially amid the health crisis we are in. It has become the lifeblood of our society, providing a sense of normalcy in our lives. And with that, it is your DICT’s duty to ensure the whole country are afforded this right, including the remotest part of the country,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said. The province’s new Wi-Fi hotspots will be located in the following: DICT Basilan Provincial Office; Basilan National High School; Basilan Provincial Capitol; Basilan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office; Basilan Provincial Library; Infantry Brigade 101 Headquarters, Isabela City; Isabela City Hall; Isabela City Maritime Police; Isabela City Port; Isabela City Post Office; Malamawi National High School; 18th Infantry Battalion, Armed Forces of the Philippines Camp, Lamitan City; Business Center, Lamitan City; Datu Kalun Plaza, Lamitan City; Digital Hub, Lamitan City; Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, Lamitan City; Lamitan City Hall; Lamitan City Health Office; Lamitan City Port; and Lamitan City Infirmary. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Eastern Visayas temporarily bans returning residents until July 8

RESIDENTS OF Eastern Visayas Region who were locked out during the strict quarantine period and have been stranded in other parts of the country will not be allowed to return to their hometowns until July 8. The temporary ban took effect Sunday, June 28, based on an advisory issued by the regional task force handling the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response. “With the spike of COVID-19 cases attributed to the returning residents and appeals made by Local Chief Executives,” reads the advisory, the national task force approved the region’s request for a moratorium on the entry of returning residents. The ban does not include overseas Filipino workers with the required documents. Outbound travel is also allowed. “In line with the approved resolution, LGUs (local government units) and other concerned agencies/frontliners are advised that the implementation of the TEMPORARY suspension of inbound travel (via land, sea or air) of Locally Stranded Individuals or LSIs to Region 8 will be effective at 12:00am, 28 JUNE 2020 until 12:00am, 09 JULY 2020,” the advisory states. From only 28 cases as of May 26, mostly in one locality and with no fatalities, the region’s COVID-19 patients has shot up to 499 as of June 28, based on data from the Department of Health regional office. Eastern Visayas is composed of six provinces: Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Leyte, and Southern Leyte. The region currently has two accredited testing laboratories and LGUs have set up isolation facilities. — MSJ

MMDA seeks resumption of boat ferry services

THE METRO Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is preparing to resume boat ferry operations along Pasig River, an official said on Sunday. Michael Salalima, chief of staff of the MMDA Office of the General Manager, said in an interview with DZBB on Sunday that they are already finalizing the documents that will be submitted to the national task force for assessment and approval. “In the coming days, hopefully mapabilis ang pagkuha namin ng (we can speed up the) authorization,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez

Immigration staff in Clark, Cebu airports up next for COVID testing

BUREAU OF Immigration (BI) personnel at the international airports in Clark and Cebu are up next for rapid testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Majority of those at the country’s main gateway in Manila have undergone the quick test, with only 12 of 1,026 showing positive result. All the 12 already had a negative result in the confirmatory swab test, the BI said in a statement. Another 28 employees have yet to be tested. “We remain cognizant of the fact that until we defeat this virus, our frontliners are continually exposed to the risk of getting infected every time they perform their duties,” BI port operations chief Grifton SP. Medina said. About two-thirds of the 1,026 immigration personnel in NAIA perform frontline duties as primary and secondary inspectors of international passengers arriving and departing the country. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Cebu to set up traditional healing system, barangay health workers to get training

THE PROVINCIAL government of Cebu is setting up a Provincial Traditional Health Care System (PTHCS) wherein village health care workers will be trained on traditional and alternative healing methods. Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia made the announcement following controversy over her advisory recommending steam inhalation, locally referred to as tuob, as one preventive measure against the coronavirus. Ms. Garcia, in a statement on Saturday, said the PTHCS is in line with Republic Act 8423, a law passed in 1997 that mandates the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care “to improve the quality and delivery of health care services to the Filipino people through the development of traditional and alternative health care and its integration into the national health care delivery system.” The institute is under the Department of Health. The province has about 16,000 barangay health workers in 44 towns and seven cities. The governor said while it is ideal to have accessible doctors and equipped healthcare facilities for everyone, this is not the reality, especially in remote areas. “We do not live in an ideal world… residents in remote and island barangays of the province will benefit from the traditional and alternative ways of recovering from different illnesses, such as steam inhalation,” she said. The PTHCS will be composed of representatives from local offices and national agencies.