CURFEWS DECLARED BY METRO MANILA CITIES AMID SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES
MANILA — With another uptick in coronavirus cases across Metro Manila, several local government units have once again opted to reimpose curfew hours in their respective localities.
For the entirety of March, Metro Manila, along with Baguio City, Apayao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City and Lanao Del Sur, will remain in general community quarantine.
In Metro Manila, the Philippine National Police has already intensified police deployment in the cities of Malabon, Navotas, and Pasay, where cases are also slowly rising, to enforce coronavirus protocols. Police have also been ordered to penalize any quarantine violators.
The rest of the country stays under modified GCQ — the loosest quarantine designation possible.
Here is a running list of curfew ordinances signed by the capital region's local chief executives in the past week:
When: 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., per Mayor Oscar Malapitan
Who is exempted: Healthcare workers, essential workers, police and military personnel
When: 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. with checkpoints, per city information officer Tez Navarro
Who is exempted: Medical frontliners, workers, other authorized persons outside residences
What are the penalties: P300 fine for the first offense, P500 for the next and later, P1,000. Minor violations can also merit "withdrawal of scholarship grants" from the local government.
San Juan City
When: 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., per Mayor Francis Zamora in a Facebook post
Who is exempted: Health workers and frontline personnel, police and military personnel on duty, local government employees, government and private employees coming home from work, PUV drivers and operators, delivery services, individuals facing emergencies, government employees with authorized activities
What are the penalties: Violators are fined P1,000 for the first offense and up to P5,000 for the next.
EU REMINDS PHILIPPINES OF PLEDGE TO ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RIGHTS ABUSES AFTER CALABARZON KILLINGS
MANILA — The European Union to the Philippines reminded the government of its commitment to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses following the killing of nine activists during police and military raids in Calabarzon.
In a statement Wednesday night, the EU delegation said it welcomed the government’s move to investigate the killings of nine individuals by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on March 7.
“Reports on the use of excessive force against unarmed individuals and alleged irregularities in the law enforcement operations have raised concerns,” it said.
The EU delegation reminded the Philippines of its commitment made with the regional bloc last February 5, where both parties “agreed on the need to acknowledge and protect human rights defenders and enable their work in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.”
“We recall the commitment undertaken by the Philippines at the Human Rights Council to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, in accordance with due process under national courts of law and in full compliance with its international human rights obligations,” it added.
Eight men and one woman were killed as police and military personnel executed search warrant Sunday in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces. They were all activists or members of left-leaning organizations, which state forces repeatedly accuse of being fronts for communist rebels.
Authorities also arrested six others during the raids.
The killings came two days after President Rodrigo Duterte told security forces they could kill communist rebels and “ignore human rights.”
The United Nations human rights office said it is “appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists” and called on the government to refrain from rhetoric that may lead to violations.
SENATE HEARING ON UNLAWFUL KILLINGS
MANILA — Joint committees of the Senate will probe on Thursday the spate of unlawful killings that have hounded members of the legal profession, doctors, journalists and activists in the country.
The inquiry comes amid a climate of impunity set by President Rodrigo Duterte himself. Last Friday, in a speech delivered to a regional branch of the red-tagging anti-communist task force, the commander-in-chief again urged security forces to shoot swiftly and to show no regard for the rights of their perceived adversaries.
"I told the military and police that, during encounters, if the enemy is holding a gun, kill them. Kill them right away," Duterte said in vernacular.
"Ignore human rights. That is my order."
Two days later, police raids swept across Calabarzon and left nine activists dead, in what is now known as "Bloody Sunday." The following day, Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino was murdered along with three of his bodyguards in an ambush.
The Senate's probe will be conducted by the Committees on Justice and Human Rights, Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, and Finance.
PNP INSISTS CALBAYOG MAYOR’S SLAY NOT AN AMBUSH
MANILA — Mayor Ronaldo Aquino of Calbayog City, Samar was not ambushed by police anti-narcotics officers, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas said yesterday.
Citing an initial report he received from Police Regional Office (PRO) 8, Sinas said police only retaliated after Aquino’s security escorts opened fire at their vehicle.
“No, it’s not an ambush. As per initial report of the regional director of PRO 8, accordingly, it was mistaken by the mayor’s security escorts that the other vehicle was traveling along their same direction,” he told reporters in English and Filipino in an ambush interview at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Aquino’s ally Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, however, said what happened was an ambush, noting that there were witnesses saying policemen shot the local chief executive’s group first.
PHILIPPINES TO GET INITIAL SHIPMENT OF PFIZER COVID-19 SHOTS IN APRIL: OFFICIAL
MANILA — The Philippines will get its first batch of COVID-19 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech next month, which would boost the country's inoculation drive, an official said on Wednesday.
The lack of an inoculation deal had delayed the supposed arrival in mid-February of 117,000 Pfizer doses from COVID-19 vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility that the World Health Organization leads with other groups.
“Nag-commit na po iyong WHO na darating po iyong 117,000 doses ng Pfizer ngayong Abril, sa susunod na buwan,” said Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
“Malaking bagay rin po ito, lalong-lalo na para sa ating health care workers na priority nating matapos hanggang buwan ng Abril at Mayo,” he said in a televised public briefing.
RED TAGGING REPORT: SENATE WANTS PARLADE OUT AS NTF-ELCAC SPOX
MANILA - The Senate on Wednesday recommended the immediate removal of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. as spokesperson of the country's anti-insurgency task force, citing violations in the 1987 Constitution.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in sponsoring an amendment to the Senate defense committee's report on red-tagging, said Parlade's appointment as spokesperson of civilian organization National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) infringes on Article 16, Sec. 5 (4) of the Constitution.
This is because Parlade is also currently commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Southern Luzon Command. The general has been criticized for red-tagging celebrities, lawmakers, and other individuals.
“The appointment of the military command of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, Lt General Parlade, as NTF-ELCAC spokesperson is in violation of Article XVI, Section 5 (4) of the Constitution which provides: “No member of the Armed Forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries,” Lacson reported to the chamber.
The chamber adopted the amended committee report.
“Consistent with the aforequoted constitutional provision and as a matter of policy, we recommend that Lt Gen Parlade be immediately relieved of his duties as Spokesperson of the NTF-ELCAC. We should prevent the potential conflict between the policies of NTF-ELCAC and the mandate of the security sector by engaging a spokesperson who does not hold concurrent mandates in the security forces. This should be a prerequisite for a spokesperson in the faithful performance of his official duty,” Lacson said, reading the amendment to the Committee Report No. 186.
The said portion of the Charter states that "no member of the Armed Forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries."
The senator earlier expressed his concern that there might be confusion with his role, since whatever Parlade says in the task force could be a reflection on the AFP or his chain of command.
The amendment also pointed out the possibility of conflict of interest given that the military official is handling two positions at once.
FLAG REPORT FOUND ALMOST HALF OF LAWYERS KILLED LINKED TO LEGAL PRACTICE
MANILA — The Free Legal Assistance Group flagged the 26 work-related lawyer killings in the 61 cases they reviewed as an indicator of “growing danger” in their profession in the country.
FLAG tallied 61 killings since 2016, based on news reporters and Lawyer Rights Watch Canada. Of these, 26 are tagged as work-related, 15 as drug-related, 12 due to personal motives while motive in 15 other cases remain unknown.
“Out of the 21 incidents which killed incumbent public officials, 57% (12/21) were work-related or possibly work-related, while 28.5% were drug-related or possibly drug-related according to investigators,” FLAG said.
“The fact that almost half of the killings were due to work-related or possibly work-related motives is an indicator of the growing danger of practicing the legal profession in the country,” it added.
FLAG explained that they tagged a killing as work-related if the victim was killed because of his/her legal practice, while the murder is deemed drug-related when the victim was known to represent alleged drug personalities or was alleged to have been a drug personality.
But it noted that “there are instances these categories overlap, such as when the work of a prosecutor involved handling illegal drug cases or when the victim was known to handle drug cases.”
HOUSE STRIPS DEFENSOR OF COMMITTEE POSTS
MANILA — Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, an administration lawmaker identified with the previous House speaker, was stripped yesterday of practically all committee memberships in the chamber.
The move is seen as part of the reorganization in the House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Defensor, among the closest allies of former speaker Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, was removed as vice chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises headed by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez.
His removal was manifested in the plenary by House Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc, and confirmed and announced by House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero, who was booted out by the camp of Cayetano and Defensor during the speakership battle last October.
Romero, who was yesterday’s presiding officer, was removed as House deputy speaker by Cayetano.
OWWA NEEDS NEARLY P10-B TO COVER HOTEL QUARANTINE COST OF OFWS
MANILA - The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is asked Congress for an additional budget of nearly P10 billion to cover costs of returning Filipino migrant workers, an official said Thursday.
The rise in costs of the agency is due to the longer stay of returning overseas Filipino workers in quarantine facilities, according to OWWA administrator Hans Cacdac.
OFWs now stay in quarantine hotels between 7 to 9 days from 1-3 days previously as they await swab test results, Cacdac said.
The Department of Health had recommended that travelers from abroad be tested after their 6th day of quarantine following the detection of new variants of COVID-19.
"We are good until the midyear point, May to June. Ito naman ay preemptive measure, hindi naman kami sasaklolo nang too late na," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
"We are sounding the alarm signal early, assuming patuloy pa yung normal flow ng pagdating ng (OFWs), around 2,000 to 3,000 a day."
Some 10,000 returning OFWs are staying in 140 quarantine hotels, Cacdac said.
Government pays a maximum of P3,000 to quarantine facilities even if it's a 5-star hotel, he added.
PH LOGS HIGHEST NUMBER OF ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES SINCE OCT. AS TOTAL INFECTIONS HIT 603,308
MANILA — The Philippines on Wednesday recorded its highest number of active COVID-19 cases since October 24 last year at 44,470, which is 7.4 percent of the country's cumulative total cases, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.
The DOH reported 2,886 additional coronavirus infections, pushing the total to 603,308 as vaccinations against the disease continue for the second week.
GOVERNORS WANT COVID-19 TESTS FOR TRAVELERS AT POINT OF ENTRY
MANILA - Governors have asked the government's task force against COVID-19 to allow coronavirus testing for travelers at the entry point of provinces to detect asymptomatic carriers, an official said Thursday.
The national government has standardized requirements for tourists and has removed documents such as travel authority, medical certificate, and quarantine if they show no symptoms.
Most governors want coronavirus testing done for travelers at the point of entry instead of the point of origin, said Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco, president of the League of Provinces.
"Ang hinihiling po namin para mayroon naman po kaming paraan para malaman po kung positive 'yung papasok. Upon arrival dun sa port of entry na iallow po ang LGU na magprescribe ng PCR test, saliva test or antigen test," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
MANILA RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY LOCKDOWN GET AID
MANILA — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday ordered city hall personnel to distribute food assistance to residents of three barangays that were placed on lockdown amid the surge in COVID-cases.
Moreno assured more than 700,000 families of food supply under the city government’s COVID-19 food security program.
He said food boxes would be distributed to 1,019 families in Barangay 351, 1,109 families in Barangay 699 and 169 families in Barangay 725.
Each box contains three kilos of rice, 16 canned goods and eight sachets of coffee.
“We will make sure that no family in Manila will starve,” Moreno said.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
‘CRUCIFIED’ BY CRITICS, JULIA BARRETTO SPEAKS UP ON FACING JUDGMENT
MANILA — “Crucified” by critics for her personal life, Julia Barretto has learned how to deal with judgment, or more accurately, assess whether it matters or not.
The actress opened up about being the target of “bashers” in the March 10 episode of “Musings” with photographer BJ Pascual, released in the latter’s YouTube channel.
The episode, which marked Barretto’s 24th birthday, showed glimpses of her pictorial with Pascual, as well as their exchange of views on a range of topics, including facing critics on social media.
“The older I’m getting, I’m slowly starting to realize how important it is to compartmentalize: what matters and what doesn’t matter,” Barretto said.
“Sometimes, when it’s the opinion of people who don’t have a significant role in your life, who really don’t matter to you, who you don’t even know, I’m never going to be affected by it. You don’t know me, I don’t know you, we can’t judge each other. It’s just not possible,” she explained.
The opinions that do matter for Barretto, she said, are those of “my family, my friends, people who are close to me, the ones who really know me.”
Barretto, who started acting at 6 years old and who comes from a clan of celebrities, said she has come to accept that “whether you do something good or bad, people will always have something to say.”
“So keep going, keep doing you. Wala, may masasabi, e. Kahit ang ganda na ng nagawa mo, meron pa rin silang masasabi. May taong ganoon, e,” she said.
Barretto, who in the past week has made headlines for her newly confirmed relationship with actor Gerald Anderson, rarely answers “bashers.” She does make an exception, however, when they “cross the line.”
‘I wouldn’t change a thing,’ Julia Barretto says of 2019 controversy
She clarified, however, that she would always opt to respond with kindness. “I won’t pay back bad for bad,” she said. “I believe in paying back good sa bad. Fight a good fight of faith, ‘diba, sabi sa Bible.”
“I’m always hoping for the best for them everytime I reply. For you to be talking to me this way, you must be going through something. Kung at peace ka, masaya ka, you’ll not talk to anybody that way. I look at it na, maybe they’re not okay, maybe there’s something they want to improve or change in their life na hindi pa nababago,” she explained.
“I just don’t want to judge also, because I know what it’s like to be judged.”
TNT ACQUIRES NO. 4 PICK IN THREE-TEAM DEAL WITH NLEX, BLACKWATER
MANILA -- TNT Tropang GIGA vaulted into the first round of the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft through a three-team deal that also involved Blackwater and sister team NLEX.
The Tropang GIGA originally did not have a first round pick in the March 14 ceremony, but now owns the rights to the No. 4 pick originally held by the Road Warriors.
NLEX first dealt the pick to Blackwater, in exchange for Roi Sumang, Don Trollano, Maurice Shaw, and the Bossing's second round pick in the 2022 Rookie Draft.
Blackwater then sent the rights to the No. 4 pick to TNT, in exchange for Simon Enciso, David Semerad, and TNT's first round pick in 2023 and second round pick in 2024.
Both trades were approved by the PBA Trade Committee, the league announced on Thursday.
NLEX still owns the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft -- which it acquired in February 2020 from Blackwater, through another three-team deal that sent Poy Erram to TNT.
The Tropang GIGA, after acquiring Erram last year, can now draft an impact player to soften the blow of Ray Parks' departure.
FOREX $1 = P 48.60
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Though they seem at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end. It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet. - Eric Hoffer