Free Pasig Ferry service resumes, 6 stations open

FERRY SERVICES along Pasig River will resume operations Monday, Aug. 3, with the rides still free although passenger capacity will be limited to 50%. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which operates the boats, said six stations will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday. The open stations are: Pinagbuhatan, San Joaquin, Guadalupe, Valenzuela, Lawton and Escolta. Health protocols such as wearing of mask and temperature check are required, and only those 21-59 years old will be allowed to board. “We will strictly implement these precautionary measures to ensure the safety of passengers. Personnel of PRFS (Pasig River Ferry Service) can deny entry at the ferry station if a passenger refused to undergo those procedures,” Frisco San Juan, Jr., MMDA deputy chairman and ferry service head, said in a statement Friday. PRFS operations were suspended since March 17 following quarantine measures imposed to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.

MWSS office reopens Aug. 5

THE CORPORATE OFFICE of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in Quezon City will resume physical operations on Aug. 5 after a two week lockdown. The reopening, however, will be limited to a 25% skeleton workforce on a rotating system, while the rest will be working from home, in accordance with health protocols. Office hours will also be limited from Monday to Thursday. “The extended lockdown provided the time for contract tracing activity of all close contacts of the two employees (who) tested COVID-19 positive, and allowed the mass swab testing for the identification of additional cases,” MWSS said. A total of seven employees tested positive, five of whom were asymptomatic. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Davao restaurant owners ask city government to revert to 2017 realty tax rates

RESTAURANT OWNERS in Davao City have asked the local council to revert real estate tax to 2017 rates to help businesses ride out the coronavirus crisis. “Because the general public are still not confident to dine out. They are scared. Because of this, our sales are very low. If only our sales are enough, rental fee won’t be a problem,” Benjamin A. Lizada, president of the Restaurant Owners Association of Davao City (ROADC) said through Viber. Several homegrown food establishments have already closed shop while those in operation are struggling with mostly take-out and delivery services, he said. “Right now for example I am operating slightly below breakeven, I have small losses but its okay at least we can give something to our workers for food. I have small losses because my lessors lowered down my rental fee, of which I am thankful. However, if lessors will increase our rental fees we will be forced to shut operations,” he said. ROADC’s proposed reversal of tax rates, supported by the Tourism Council of Davao City, covers the third quarter this year to the end of 2021. Commercial property tax rates increased by 11% effective 2019 following an amendment to the Real Property Tax Code in 2017. Residential, agricultural, and industrial rates also went up by 4% to 25%. The city council has approved an extended deadline for property tax payments this year, but Mr. Lizada said having a grace period is not enough. “Extending it is not enough… I am hopeful that they will sit down and compute at the very least, do a cost-benefit analysis of (business) closures,” he said. — Maya M. Padillo

Power lines intact, no major damage reported from 6.4 earthquake in Cotabato City

POWER TRANSMISSION facilities remained intact in the entire Mindanao mainland after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck 13 kilometers southeast of Cotabato City at 1:08 a.m. Sunday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines reported. “The Mindanao Grid remains intact as there are no reports of power interruption and damaged transmission facilities in Cotabato City and nearby areas where the earthquake was felt,” NGCP said in an advisory. The government’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology also said in its bulletin that no damage was expected, but aftershocks were likely.