Supplemental vaccination

A child receives oral polio vaccine in Antique province on February 1, the start of the government’s month-long supplemental immunization program for measles-rubella and polio. The vaccination program, intended for children 0-59 months, is under the Department of Health (DoH) and implemented by the local government health units.

Hataman pushes for Marawi compensation bill

HOUSE Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv S. Hataman called for the immediate passage of the bill that will provide compensation to residents of Marawi who were displaced following the 2017 siege by local extremist groups. Mr. Hataman expressed worry that the pending measure will be further delayed by the 2022 local and national elections,  talks on Charter change, and the proposed extension of the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In a statement on Monday, Mr. Hataman, former governor of the ARMM that was replaced by the BARMM, urged both the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the proposal so Marawi, which was ravaged by the five-month gun battle between the extremist groups and government forces, could rebuild its community and start anew. He said the compensation bill could be included and funded under the 2022 national budget if it is passed soon. “Kung di natin i-prioritize itong compensation bill, baka hindi na maharap ng Kongreso at Senado bago mapasa ang 2022 budget (If we do not prioritize the compensation bill now, the House and the Senate will no longer be able to attend to it before the 2022 budget is passed),” he said. Mr. Hataman also said the delay in the implementation of projects lined up for Marawi’s rehabilitation resulted in unutilized funds, which eventually expire, citing the example of the P406-million Marawi fund in 2018. — Gillian M. Cortez

Cebu province halts export of live hogs for 6 months to meet local demand

PIG farmers in Cebu are prohibited from selling live hogs and sows outside the province for six months starting February 1 to ensure adequate supply for the domestic market and avoid a price increase. The export ban is contained in an executive order issued by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia on January 29. The order cites the recent hike in the live weight per kilo price of hogs in Cebu alongside the “increase of demand of pork and live hogs” within the province as well as in other parts of the country, particularly areas affected by the African swine fever (ASF). Ms. Garcia said the decision to impose an export ban was made in consultation with pork producers and hog suppliers within the Central Visayas region. Breeder farms accredited by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) may be given exemption from the ban subject to the approval of the Provincial Veterinary Officer.

215 barangays in Davao Region to get P20M each for anti-insurgency program

MORE than 200 villages in Davao Region have been identified as beneficiaries of the government’s Barangay Development Program (BDA) aimed at countering communist insurgency through infrastructure and social service projects. Each barangay, the smallest political unit under the Philippine system, will get P20 million. The BDA has a P16.4-billion allocation under the national budget for this year. Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado, in a recent visit to the region, said the fund is targeted for release nationwide within the first quarter. “We are here and we will make sure it is approved, the P16.4 billion for the 822 barangays,” Mr. Avisado said in a press conference held at the headquarters of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City. The identified priority barangays in Davao are located in the following: 82 in Davao City; 65, Davao de Oro; 32, Davao Oriental; 23, Davao del Norte; eight, Davao del Sur; and five in Davao Occidental. The BDA can cover projects such as schools, farm-to-market roads, health stations, waterworks and irrigation infrastructure, and forest protection programs for livelihood. — Maya M. Padillo

House probes land eviction case in Ozamiz City

A House of Representatives’ probe on the eviction of settlers in the village of Lam-An in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental last year amid a virus pandemic indicates that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) may have violated legal procedures. DPWH officials admitted that the land in question was not yet fully acquired by the government at the time of the eviction. In a meeting held by the House committee on good governance and public accountability on Monday, DPWH District Engineer Carolyn Abinales said they went ahead with the demolition, “Because they (local government unit) are in the process of acquiring the site.” Deputy Speaker Rodante D. Marcoleta, who sought the probe into the incident, asked whether authorities had the right to carry out the demolition without acquiring the title for the property first. On the other hand Deputy Speaker Henry Oaminal, whose son Ozamiz City Mayor Sancho Fernando Oaminal is involved in the controversy, said the probe “failed to establish” any proof that the DPWH and Ozamiz City officials violated expropriation processes. He added that the affected families had given their approval for the housing project that was planned on the property. The demolition was undertaken in April 2020 despite an order by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to suspend all demolition projects until the nationwide state of emergency is lifted. The Right of Way Act states that a writ of demolition must be furnished by a court if settlers occupying the land refuse to comply with the eviction even if a writ of possession had already been supplied by the court. — Gillian M. Cortez

Bacolod orders stricter compliance to protocols after call center records 41 COVID cases

THE Bacolod City government ordered the 24-hour closure of a call center company for disinfection after 41 of its workers tested positive for coronavirus between January 23-31. City Administrator Em L. Ang said on Monday the coronavirus Emergency Operations Center (EOC) task force met on Sunday to address the cluster outbreak at the Transcom Bacolod office. “The BPO (business process outsourcing) facility will be closed for 24 hours for disinfection and decontamination. The EOC also recommends improvements in physical working conditions such as the use of physical distancing, work-from-home arrangement, and to secure temporary lodging and transportation for workers and strict compliance with the use of the BaCTrac system,” Ms. Ang wrote in a post shared by the city government’s official page. The BaCTrac is the city’s contact tracing application. She said the task force had a series of site inspections at the Transcom office as well as meetings with company officials since the first positive case in Jan. 29. BusinessWorld requested for a statement from the company but has yet to reply as of this writing. “The outbreak in a BPO company is a stark reminder that this nightmare with COVID (coronavirus disease-2019) is not yet over. We would like to remind everyone to continue to strictly observe proper health protocols to keep the workplace coronavirus-free,” she said. Bacolod is already under the least strict quarantine level after containing a surge in cases in August last year. The city with a population of over 580,000 has recorded 5,748 coronavirus cases as of January 31, of which 151 are active, 5,413 have recovered while 184 died. — MSJ