National ID project gets higher budget in 2021

THE NATIONAL ID program will receive a higher funding next year to fast-track implementation, Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado said on Wednesday, but did not give a specific amount. “There will also be an increased budget for the Philippine Identification System to fast-track its implementation,” Mr. Avisado said during the second pre-SoNA forum ahead of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address on July 27. The Department of Budget and Management released P1 billion to the Philippine Statistics Authority on July 1 for this year’s budget on the ID program. The government targets to register at least five million household heads by the end of the year. In the same forum, Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando U. Toledo announced that the department has just finished its executive review on the 2021 national budget proposal. He said next year’s budget will give priority to the health sector, particularly establishing health facilities and the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law. The economic team has proposed a higher cash-based budget ceiling for next year worth P4.335 trillion, up from the P4.1-trillion budget this year. — Beatrice M. Laforga

ABS-CBN employees appeal for jobs from other broadcast firms

AN employees’ group of embattled ABS-CBN Corp. on Wednesday called on other broadcast companies to offer job opportunities to workers who will be affected by retrenchment. “Sana merong mai-offer ‘yung ibang broadcast companies, tutal alam ko naman na ‘yung ibang broadcast companies may simpatya naman sa ABS-CBN so I think baka gawin po nila ‘yun (I hope other broadcast companies can offer jobs. I know some of them have sympathy for ABS-CBN, and think they will do that),” Jon Villanueva, president of ABS-CBN’s Rank and File Employees Union, told BusinessWorld in a phone interview. He said the ABS-CBN management has yet to meet with them to discuss what jobs will be retained. On Friday last week, the House committee on legislative franchises rejected the network’s application for a renewal with a vote of 70 to 11 even as relevant government agencies have cleared it of any violation. These include the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Hospital group asks gov’t to cover hazard pay for frontliners

THE Philippine Hospital Association (PHA) is seeking government funding for the hazard pay of frontliners in private medical facilities, citing financial difficulties brought about by the coronavirus health emergency. “The private hospitals today are experiencing tremendous financial difficulty that threatens the closure of some hospitals if this situation persists longer,” PHA President Jaime A. Almora said on Wednesday during a hearing of the House of Representatives committee on health and COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) response cluster. PHA has about 2,000 members from both the public and private sectors. “Mandating them (private hospitals) to increase expenditure for health workers by way of giving hazard pay and risk allowances at this time may cause collapse of the hospitals resulting in a far greater problem not only to the health workers but the patients and the general population as a whole,” Mr. Almora said. The health committee and COVID-19 response cluster are set to form a technical working group to consolidate several bills relating to concerns of the health sector. — Patricia S. Gajitos

Foreign travelers drop 95% during lockdown

INBOUND AND outbound international travelers from mid-March to June dropped by at least 95% as the country imposed a strict lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the Bureau of Immigration said. In a statement Wednesday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said departure volume decreased by 95% while arrival dropped by 96% from March 16 to June 30 compared to the same period last year. “We do not foresee these statistics to rise in the near future while the entire world is still fighting to defeat this coronavirus,” Mr. Morente said. Melvin P. Mabulac, Immigration deputy spokesperson and BI National Operations Center acting chief, said only 189,000 passengers arrived from March 16 to June 30 compared to the 5.16 million last year. On departures, only 238,00 passengers left the Philippines compared to 5.18 million last year. Under the lockdown rules, only returning overseas Filipino workers, residents, foreign spouses of Filipinos, and members of the foreign diplomatic corps were allowed in. Sweeper flights for stranded foreign tourists were organized. Filipinos were also banned from international non-essential travel until July 8. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

DepEd to provide skills program to parents for blended learning

THE DEPARTMENT of Education’s regional offices will hold orientation and training programs for parents, who are expected to have a bigger role in their children’s education as the country adopts a “blended learning” system amid the coronavirus outbreak. “Alam nating iba’t ibang kakayanan ng parents so meron tayong mga (We know that parents have different levels of capabilities so we have) programs in the regional level,” Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones said in a briefing on Wednesday. She added that local governments will also be key in implementing the various modes of learning — such as take-home modules, online, radio, and television — that will be adopted to avoid face-to-face classroom sessions. Ms. Briones noted that several local governments are already implementing various programs to assist in the new system. Classes for primary and secondary level students will begin on Aug. 24. — Gillian M. Cortez