Cash benefits for medical frontliners hinges on Bayanihan 2 law

HEALTH WORKERS who are at the frontlines of the coronavirus fight may not get cash benefits if they fall critically ill or die from the disease without the passage of the proposed Bayanihan 2 law. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said they intend to continue giving cash benefits to affected health care workers, but there has to be a law that would direct it after the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act expired last month. “Hanggang hindi natin napapatupad uli or nakakapaglabas uli ng another law for such para maging basis natin, mahihirapan kaming makapaglabas ng ganyang amount (Until we have another law to use as basis, we will have difficulties releasing such amounts),” she said in a virtual briefing. Under the expired Bayanihan law, the families of frontliners who died in the line of duty received P1 million, while those who were infected and classified as severe cases got P100,000 each. Department of Health data as of June 29 show 3,372 health care workers have contracted the disease, 34 of them died.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque on Thursday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will call for a special session for the passage of the Bayanihan 2 law, possibly before he delivers his 5th State of the Nation Address at the end of the month. Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the House of Representatives is ready to pass the proposed Bayanihan 2, which extends the special powers granted to Mr. Duterte to address the coronavirus virus crisis as well as outlines response and economic recovery measures. “The House leadership under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is committed to approve the Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill,” Mr. Romualdez said in a statement. Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III on June 30 said the executive department has transmitted to the Finance committee its proposed amendments to the measure. The bill includes a P140-billion standby fund to grant emergency subsidies to low income households, cash-for-work programs, and capital infusion to government financial institutions, among other assistance. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Charmaine A. Tadalan, and Gillian M. Cortez

Port monitoring tightened vs pork products from China

QUARANTINE PROTOCOLS and monitoring at ports have been tightened to ensure no pork products from China enter the country after the reported new swine flu that could possibly cause another pandemic, according to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar. In a briefing on Thursday, he also appealed to importers and other enterprises to stop smuggling pork items. “Huwag nating dagdagan ang problema sa bansa (Let’s not add to the problems in our country),” he said. Pork products from China have been banned since the Asian swine fever outbreak in July last year, which continues to affect hog raisers in some parts of the country. — Gillian M. Cortez

Palace lists donated PPE, other medical supplies

MORE THAN seven million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), among other medical supplies, have so far been donated to the Philippines as it battles the spread of the coronavirus. “According to Department of Health, as of June 26, 2020, these are some of the medical products that were donated: Surgical masks — 6,425,950; N95 masks — 390,440; the ventilators are 201; and PPEs and medical coveralls, Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque reported in a briefing Thursday. The donors include foreign governments, multilateral organizations, and private sector. — Gillian M. Cortez

Gov’t to review guidelines on film, audiovisual production

THE GOVERNMENT will consult entertainment industry groups and review the guidelines for film and audiovisual production, which has been denounced as detrimental to the sector. “Titignan po natin kung meron pang mga dapat repasuhin sa mga guidelines (We will see if there is something needed to be reconsidered in the guidelines),” Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said in a briefing Thursday. The new protocols for production work amid the continued threat of the coronavirus are contained in a joint order issued by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the Department of Health, and the Department of Labor and Employment. Mr. Roque said these agencies will be holding discussions with the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association; the Inter-Guild Alliance of the film, television and advertising industry; and Directors Guild of the Philippines. — Gillian M. Cortez