LRT-1 operator cuts over 100 jobs due to low ridership

LIGHT RAIL Manila Corporation (LRMC), the private operator of LRT-1, is letting go of over 100 employees or about 20% of its workforce due to a significant drop in ridership amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s spokesperson said. Jacqueline Gorospe, LRMC corporate communications head, told reporters via Viber on Tuesday that the reduction of LRMC’s workforce was triggered by the 90% drop in LRT-1’s ridership. “LRMC management has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic situation from the start and has been taking appropriate measures, balancing its financial position while looking after its team members,” she said. “However, as LRMC has scaled down operations during the quarantine period and deferred some projects, the company recognizes the need to optimize human resources by reducing the size of its workforce. This will aim to right-size the organization to better suit the current and future business conditions, as well as maintain stability while navigating through the uncertainty of this global crisis,” she added. The workforce reduction takes effect Sept. 15. The company said all affected employees will receive separation benefits as well as training on alternative livelihood and investment as well as mental health support. LRMC is the consortium composed of Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. Metro Pacific Rail is a unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. — Arjay L. Balinbin

New Metro Manila price list for farm, fishery products out

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) has released a new suggested retail price (SRP) list for basic farm and fishery goods sold in Metro Manila wet markets. In a virtual briefing Tuesday, DA spokesperson Noel O. Reyes announced that Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar signed Administrative Circular No. 10, which adjusts the prices of select food products amid Metro Manila’s return to stricter lockdown protocols. The products covered include imported rice, pork, eggs, and sugar, among others. “We urge sellers in markets, talipapas, and palengkes selling these products to follow the newly adjusted SRP list,” Mr. Reyes said. The list may be accessed at — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave 

WVMC laboratory in Iloilo closed after staff tests positive for COVID-19; regional hospital in Bacolod at full bed capacity

THE ILOILO City-based Western Visayas Medical Center’s (WVMC) laboratory, one of the accredited facilities for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing, has been temporarily closed starting Aug. 11 after one of its staff has been confirmed to be positive of the virus. “The WVMC Integrated Laboratory including the (COVID-19) Sub national laboratory are undergoing decontamination following the confirmation that one of its medical laboratory technologists is COVID-19 positive,” the hospital’s management said in a statement. Operations will resume “the soonest that decontamination process is completed and our personnel is safe to serve the public.” Aside from WVMC, there are five other accredited COVID-19 laboratories in the Western Visayas Region. Two are government-owned, the CLMM Regional Hospital and the TLJ Provincial Hospital. The three others are private, one located in Iloilo City and two in Bacolod City. Meanwhile, the CLMM (Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial) hospital in Bacolod City has suspended the admission of COVID-19 patients as all its 74 allocated beds are now occupied. “The hospital has already reached its full bed-capacity allocated for… patients who are in moderate to critical condition,” said Medical Center Chief Julius M. Drilon in a statement on Monday. The CLMM hospital is also postponing the reopening of its out-patient services, which was supposed to resume Aug. 12, except for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Cagayan de Oro offers isolation facilities to Iligan COVID-19 patients

CAGAYAN DE Oro Mayor Oscar S. Moreno has offered the city’s isolation and treatment facilities for use of mild coronavirus patients from Iligan City to avoid overwhelming the region’s referral hospital. “We don’t want a situation in which the national government will have to send their people to Iligan City similar to what happened in Cebu City and even Zamboanga City. We want to avoid a surge in COVID-19 cases that would overwhelm Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) and result in a region wide lockdown that would make life harder for the people of Cagayan de Oro,” Mr. Moreno said in a briefing on Aug. 10. The hospital is located in Cagayan de Oro. As of Aug. 9, the Northern Mindanao region recorded 729 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, with 333 active, 384 recoveries, and 12 deaths. Majority of the active cases in the region are returning residents at 283, who are under treatment as outpatients. Among locals, Iligan City has the highest number at 29, of which 16 were recorded from Aug. 3-9. NMMC liaison officer Bernard Julius Rocha, meanwhile, said they are further upgrading their facilities in anticipation of more patients once the national government lifts the flight ban in Metro Manila.