New Pasig BOSS

THE PASIG City government launched another Business One Stop Shop (BOSS) on Sunday, located at the Ayala the 30th Mall, in time for this month’s peak period for business permit renewals. Pasig Mayor Vico N. Sotto, in a post on his Facebook page, said the new facility will decongest the BOSS at the city hall, bring services closer to the businesses that provide the biggest bulk of our city’s local income, and improve the overall ease of doing business. He noted that almost 35% of businesses in the city are based in just two out of the 30 barangays.

Boracay rehabilitation to be completed by May, vows DENR chief

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the rehabilitation of the popular tourist island Boracay will be completed by May. “The BIATF (Boracay Inter-agency Task Force) is capping 2020 on a high note, setting us off in 2021 with solid confidence that we will hit our targets within the remaining five months ahead of us,” Mr. Cimatu, who chairs the task force, was quoted in a statement released on December 30. The BIATF’s year-end report showed that the number of structures violating easement rules has gone down to 342, which is 21 % of the 1,569 identified illegal structures around the island. Earlier, the government charged nine establishments for illegally occupying protected forest lands. In 2018, President Rodrigo R. Duterte called the country’s top tourist destination a “cesspool” and ordered its full closure to visitors for over half a year to give way to rehabilitation. In 2020, Boracay was one of the first areas in the country to reopen to domestic tourists following strict lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. — Angelica Y. Yang

China-funded Davao City bridge targeted to start construction in Q3


CONSTRUCTION of the China-funded Bucana Bridge in Davao City is targeted to start in the third quarter, according to a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) official. “The agreement signed (December 9) was the implementation arrangement for the Bucana Bridge in the coastal road network of Davao City that will be funded through grant by China,” said DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain through Viber. Mr. Sadain said the Chinese government will provide approximately $60 million or about P2.9 billion financing for the project. The bridge is part of the P19.8-billion Davao Coastal Road project, which complements the Davao City Bypass Road and Davao City Expressway. “The implementation of the project would be on the third quarter (Q3) of 2021,” Mr. Sadain. The bridge, to be located at the mouth of the Davao River, will have four lanes and will be 477 meters long. A statement from the Chinese Embassy indicates that the project will adopt the localized implementation mode, which means the Philippine government will be in charge of technical works and project management. The implementation period is around 30 months, including design and construction phases. — Maya M. Padillo

DENR starts reviving mangrove trees along a portion of Manila Bay

THE ENVIRONMENT department has started planting nilad trees at the Baseco lagoon to revive the mangrove species along Manila Bay, the agency announced last week. “Nowadays, we can hardly find nilad growing in this place.  We lost nilad in Manila primarily because of massive urbanization,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said as he led the ceremonial mangrove planting activity on December 29. “This is what we hope to relive in Manila to allow this generation and the future ones to also experience the beauty and bounty of the bay,” he added. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in a statement, said mangroves such as the nilad could successfully capture carbon up to five times better than forests in the mountains. An abundance of mangrove trees in an area can also protect coastal communities from storm surges. The mangrove planting project, titled Nilad for Maynila, is spearheaded by the DENR’s research arm, the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB). The project is part of the ERDB’s contribution to the ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation program of Manila Bay, ERDB Director Henry Adornado said in a statement.

The DENR also reported last week that the Manila Bay cleanup was not delayed by the public health emergency as various activities and projects lined up last year were implemented. Among these were the launch of a solar-powered treatment sewage plant in July, regular clean-up activities, and provision of portable toilets to informal settlers living along the bay. — Angelica Y. Yang

Health department investigates diarrhea outbreak in Davao Occidental town

THE DEPARTMENT of Health’s (DoH) Davao regional office is investigating an outbreak of diarrhea in a Davao Occidental town that reportedly claimed one life and sickened 33 others. In a statement on Sunday, Annabelle P. Yumang, DoH Davao Center for Health Development regional director, confirmed reports of diarrheal disease cases in Barangay Butuan in the town of Jose Abad Santos after verifying with Municipal Mayor Jason John Joyce early Sunday. Initial investigation showed that 34 patients were admitted to the Tomas Lachica District Hospital, one of whom died and the cause of death is still subject for further investigation. Another 25 individuals are being closely monitored in the community, the DoH said. Municipal Health Officer Amparo A. Lachicha said the probable source of infection is contaminated water from the community’s source. “A team from the RESU (Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit) is set to visit the affected barangay to collect appropriate specimens and continue the investigation together with the Provincial Health Office and Municipal Health Office,” the DoH-Davao said. It added that the mayor assured the regional director that “everything is under control” and no new patients were reported on Saturday night. The DoH said medicines and intravenous fluids were provided to the hospital while jerry cans for water storage and chlorine granules were also delivered to the community. The DoH also reminded the public that safe drinking water, use of improved sanitation, and hand washing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhea. “If anyone is experiencing three or more loose or liquid stools per day, this must be reported immediately to the nearest facility for immediate health interventions,” it said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas