DPWH rushes COVID-19 facilities in Bacolod 

SEVERAL FACILITIES for patients and healthcare workers are now being rushed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Bacolod City after the local government sought the national task force’s help in addressing the rising number of coronavirus cases. In a statement over the weekend, the city government said the DPWH has allocated P42.5 million for the construction of new container van-type isolation rooms and repurposing of the Regional Evacuation Center into a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) building for mild and asymptomatic cases. “This will save us a lot of local funds that we can use for other COVID-response expenditures,” Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia said. “But more than that, we can now more timely isolate in these facilities the asymptomatic or mild positive cases that come up as we intensify our contact tracing efforts, and free up the hospitals to take care of the moderate and critical cases,” he added. The initial 32 container van-type facility is expected to be completed by September 30. Another facility will have 32 beds for healthcare workers of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, as dormitory as well as isolation rooms should the need arise for the frontliners. Another 32-room facility will be set up after the local government identifies an available location. As of Sept. 12, Bacolod had the highest COVID-19 cases in Western Visayas at 2,248. Of the total, 1,457 are active cases. The city is under a strict quarantine category until end-September. 

Billboard companies appeal dismantling of structures as 300 employees affected

AT LEAST five companies handling billboards in Davao City are appealing to the local government to postpone the demolition of about 30 structures while the policy on signages are being reviewed with the city council. The companies also said the dismantling is ill-timed as 300 employees could lose their work amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. APM Ads and Promo Management owner Alex P. Montañez, one of the affected firms, said they are already in talks with councilors on amending the 20-year old ordinance governing outdoor signages. The other affected companies are KDSA Advertising, 1 Prime Advertising, Ultracraft, and United Neon. “COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic pa ngayon, walang trabaho, anong babalikan nila kung mawala pa yan (We have the pandemic now, there are no jobs, if they take down the billboards, what will the workers go back for)?” said Mr. Montanez, president of the Out of Home Advertising Association of the Philippines-Davao Chapter. The billboards are mainly located around the area of the Bangkerohan and Bolton bridges. Under the local law, structures should not obstruct the view of Mt. Apo and the neighboring Island Garden City of Samal. The law was questioned and brought all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled last year in favor of the city government. Cirinia Grace L. Catubig, officer-in-charge of the City Building Office, said the billboard operators were already ordered after the high court decision to “voluntarily dismantle” structures in identified restricted areas. The city government started implementing the demolition last Friday. Mr. Montanez said they have been opposing the law, contained in City Ordinance No. 092-2000, because there was no stakeholder consultation and it is now “obsolete.”— Maya M. Padillo

Zamboanga workers get P7.5-M aid 

WORKERS IN Zamboanga Peninsula’s rubber industry and informal sector received P7.5 million from the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) assistance program for the coronavirus crisis. In a statement on Sunday, DoLE said the beneficiaries were over a hundred rubber workers in Zamboanga Sibugay province and 699 informal workers in the municipalities of Bayog, Dumingag, and Kumalarang in Zamboanga del Sur. The aid program involved a 10-day emergency employment with a P316 per day pay. — Gillian M. Cortez