24 March 2020
AS COVID-19 GROUNDS CRUISE SHIPS, SOME 10,000 FILIPINO SEAFARERS NEED TO BE
MANILA – Some 10,000 Filipino seafarers are in need of repatriation after
COVID-19 halted the operation of cruise ships worldwide, a crew service
agency said Tuesday.
Magsaysay Maritime Corp. is chartering flights for the repatriation of the
seafarers, its chairman Marlon Rono said.
“Naguumpisa na po ang repatriation. Asahan po natin sa darating na mga araw
ay marami po ang uuwi diyan,” he told radio DZMM.
“They are floating in some areas. Alam mo naman ang cruise ship may sariling
doctor, may sariling ospital. They are taken cared of kung may symptoms na
The repatriation is shouldered by principal, Roño said. The challenge,
however, would be getting seafarers from Visayas and Mindanao home as travel
is suspended nationwide which is why the agency is appealing for help from
government, he added.
Once the situation “normalizes,” Filipino seafarers can go back to their
jobs, he said.
Magsaysay is the agency of some 400 Filipino crew members of the Diamond
Princess, the virus-hit cruise ship moored off Japan. All but 100 Filipino
crew opted to stay onboard to help man the ship.
DOH ANNOUNCES 39 NEW COVID-19 CASES; TOTAL AT 501
MANILA — The Department of Health on Tuesday morning said there are 39 new
In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario
Vergeire said there are now 501 COVID-19 cases in the country.
There is also an additional recovered patient, bringing the total number of
recoveries to 19.
The total number of fatalities is still 33.
The number of cases may still go up later in the day when the DOH holds its
Luzon has been on lockdown since the DOH confirmed community transmission in
the country. This means that public transportation and other services have
shut down temporarily.
SENATE OKAYS EMERGENCY POWERS FOR DUTERTE IN FIGHT VS COVID-19 OUTBREAK
MANILA — Senate, in a special session Monday, approved the proposed
legislation that would give President Rodrigo Duterte sweeping emergency
powers to address the new coronavirus outbreak in the country.
With a shutout 12-0 vote, the upper chamber approved Senate Bill1418 or the
Bayanihan to Heal As One Act authored by Senate President Tito Sotto III and
Senator Pia Cayetano.
Some senators, being unable to physically attend the special session,
reportedly voted via phone.
The proposed measure would authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to undertake
extraordinary measures to contain COVID-19 and mobilize at least P200
billion to help over 24 million mostly-poor families.
Provisions in the proposed legislation sparked concerns over the request of
Malacañang for power to take over private establishments.
Cayetano said Senate’s version of the bill will never have a provision on
takeover of businesses.
FLAG OPPOSES, RAISES QUESTIONS ON CONGRESS' SPECIAL POWERS GRANT BILL
MANILA — While Congress is pushing to grant emergency powers to President
Rodrigo Duterte to address the crisis brought by the novel coronavirus, a
group of lawyers argued that provisions of the bill are unnecessary and
“The proposed bills seek to confer powers that are already conferred by
existing laws and fail to set forth a national policy, as required by the
Constitution,” the Free Legal Assistance Group said in their public opinion
The proposed measure to grant President Rodrigo Duterte with additional
powers to address the pandemic is up for his signature.
The House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the “Bayanihan to
Heal as One Act” dawn of Tuesday.
FLAG, however, said that giving emergency powers to the president “may not
be the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time.”
They pointed out that other countries have not resorted to extraordinary
measures in fighting the pandemic, but are instead relying on
“evidence-based strategies and scientific resolutions.”
The legal opinion was penned by rights lawyers Chel Diokno and Theodore Te,
also former Supreme Court spokesperson.
PHILIPPINE ECONOMY COULD CONTRACT IF CORONAVIRUS CRISIS DRAGS, STIMULUS
'GOOD' FOR NOW: PERNIA
MANILA -- The Philippines' billion-peso stimulus package against the
coronavirus pandemic is "good enough" for now, the socioeconomic planning
chief said Monday, adding that it was "possible" for the economy to contract
should the crisis persist until June.
Gross domestic product could register negative growth of 0.6 percent to an
expansion of 4.3 percent, depending on how long the lockdown of Luzon will
last, said Sec. Ernesto Pernia, director general of the National Economic
The Philippine economy last contracted, by 0.6 percent, in 1998 during the
Asian financial crisis, according to ABS-CBN Data Analytics.
Luzon, which is on lockdown until April 12, accounts for 75 percent of the
economy, Pernia told ANC's Market Edge. The island region is also home to
half of the Philippines' 100 million people.
Lawmakers approved before dawn on Tuesday a response package that will,
among other, provide P5,000 to P8,000 monthly aid for 2 months to poor
families, P100,000 for every health worker who contracted COVID-19 and P1
million for every health worker who died from the disease.
The measure, once signed into law, will allow President Rodrigo Duterte to
realign spending in the current P4.1 trillion budget and "direct" operations
of private hospitals and pubic transport.
"Under these extraordinary times, we need special powers. We don't have an
alternative," Pernia said.
"To begin with, I think it's good enough," he said. "We just need to monitor
closely, watch everyday so we can make the adjustments necessary."
Pernia said taking out a provision in a draft bill that called for
a"takeover" of some businesses was the "correct" thing to do. "It's not good
to have powers to dictate the private sector right away."
RICE STOCK 'MORE THAN ENOUGH' DURING COVID-19 CRISIS: NFA
MANILA - The Philippines has enough rice supply as the 1-month lockdown of
Luzon island drives demand for the staple grain, the National Food
Administration (NFA) chief said Tuesday.
There are 9.3 million bags of rice lodged in NFA warehouses across the
country, NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal told DZMM.
"Lahat po ng bodega ng NFA punong-puno last year so we have a good inventory
to start this year. At kahit na nangyari yung sakuna sa Taal, sobra-sobra pa
rin tayo [ng supply]," Dansal said.
The NFA also has unmilled rice on standby in case the country needs more,
"We have exerted effort na tuloy-tuloy po ang milling dahil malaki po ngayon
ang demand ng ating local government units at sa Department of Social
Welfare and Development," she said, without disclosing demand figures.
Local government units are not expected to hoard rice for their constituents
because they don't have enough storage facilities, the NFA chief said.
Luzon's borders were temporarily closed since last week to limit the entry
and exit of possible coronavirus carriers. The transport restrictions don't
apply to food, medicine and frontline workers.
'CARDIOLOGY PILLAR' SUCCUMBS TO COVID-19: PEERS
MANILA - A local "pillar" of cardiology has succumbed to the novel
coronavirus, his peers said Tuesday, as cases of the pandemic continued to
increase in the Philippines.
The Philippine Heart Association announced on Facebook the demise of Dr.
Raul Jara, its former president and "one of the great pillars of
Asked to clarify if the doctor died to COVID-19, the group said, "yes" and
that it would be best to get more details from the Philippine Heart Center,
which treated him.
He had tested positive for the respiratory disease, PHC medical director Dr.
Joel Abanilla told ABS-CBN News. It was not immediately clear when Jara
passed away and whether he had other pre-existing medical conditions.
Jara is the latest Filipino doctor to reportedly succumb to COVID-19,
following Dr. Israel Bactol of the PHC and anesthesiologist Dr. Gregory
Macasaet. The health department has yet to confirm how many doctors have
died due to the pandemic.
VIPS TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS PASSED INITIAL CRITERIA: HEALTH CHIEF
MANILA - Some politicians who were screened for the novel coronavirus had
passed the initial criteria, which were later changed as the country
wrestled with a shortage of test kits, the health department said Tuesday.
The VIPs directly requested the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine
(RITM) in Muntinlupa to conduct the test, said Health Secretary Francisco
"Pumasa naman daw sa unang criteria," he told DZMM.
The previous criteria allowed those with mild symptoms to be tested for
COVID-19. The health department on March 16 changed the protocol, under
which those with mild symptoms could only get tested if they were senior
citizens, pregnant or had pre-existing medical conditions, said Duque.
The health secretary was also screened for COVID-19 because he had asthma,
hypertension and exposure to a patient. He later tested negative. He will
remain in home quarantine until Wednesday because he had coughs, he said.
Duque also denied that he had replaced the head of RITM, Dr. Celia Carlos,
who allegedly refused to prioritize politicians for COVID-19 testing.
He said he only gave Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago oversight powers
over RITM so that it could improve its testing capacity. Carlos, who has
"technical competence and expertise", is still RITM's head, he said.
"Hindi mo iyan puwedeng basta-basta palitan ng hindi niya katulad. Pero
dahil nga iyong demand for more testing e ramdam na ramdam na, maigi nang
isang Assistant Secretary tumulong na sa kaniya," he said.
Authorities confirmed Monday 82 new cases of COVID-19, the biggest daily
increase so far, which took the nationwide total to 462. The tally included
33 deaths and 18 patients who recovered.
BARANGAY CAPTAIN NABBED FOR SELLING QUARANTINE PASSES
MANILA — Police have arrested a barangay captain caught selling quarantine
passes in Marantao, Lanao del Sur, in what turned out to be just one of the
hundreds of violations of rules governing the Luzon-wide enhanced community
quarantine enforced by the government to contain the 2019 coronavirus
The arrest of Barangay Mantapoli chairman Cassar Abinal on Sunday came after
Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government
(DILG) warned that selling barangay quarantine clearances is illegal.
Brig. Gen. Manuel Abu, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
(BARMM) police director, said policemen – responding to reports – went to
barangay Mantapoli headquarters at 3:50 p.m. and caught Abinal in the act of
demanding P20 for each quarantine pass from residents.
“It’s a clear violation of the directives for non-payment of barangay
passes,” Abu said in a text message.
Col. Madzgani Mukaram, police director of Lanao del Sur, said there was even
a sign on the wall of the barangay hall stating that each pass cost P20.
Local officials are issuing quarantine passes to families so that at least
one member of a household can go outside to buy food and other basic
commodities while the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine is in effect.
LPG DELIVERIES ALLOWED DURING LUZON LOCKDOWN, DEALERS SAY
MANILA -- Deliveries of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are allowed during the
month-long lockdown of Luzon, a group of dealers said Tuesday following
reports that some households have trouble buying cooking gas.
Guidelines released by Malacañang on the lockdown specified that
establishments offering basic services, such as fuel, should be allowed to
But some LPG stores have encountered problems in checkpoints in Luzon, said
Daniel Brian Joven, a member of the Philippine LPG Association.
“Ang LPG po ay exemption, necessity po ito so sana po i-allow po natin sa
mga checkpoint,” Joven told radio dzMM.
“Exempted po ito, Pinapayagan po ito. Dapat po unhampered ang pagdeliver ng
cargo kasi necessity po ito,” he added.
The government placed Luzon under lockdown until April 12 to control the
spread of COVID-19. The measure means strict home confinement in all
households, suspension of public transport, regulation of provision for food
and essential health services, and heightened presence of uniformed
personnel to enforce isolation procedures.
ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE
RETURN OF 'GOT TO BELIEVE' BECOMES NO. 1 TREND ON TWITTER
MANILA — "Got to Believe," the launching teleserye of superstars Kathryn
Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, made its television comeback on Monday and, as
expected, became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter.
The Star Creatives production is airing under ABS-CBN's temporary
programming, after the network halted its entertainment productions due to
the coronavirus pandemic.
As it did when it originally aired on primetime in 2013, "Got to Believe"
again generated social media buzz as its re-run debuted in ABS-CBN's
#G2BTheMagicalComeback, in fact, was the top trend on Twitter in the
Philippines from afternoon until evening of Monday. Several other terms
related to the teleserye also ranked in the list.
Its enduring social media presence is fitting for "Got to Believe," as the
series pioneered the per-episode hashtag on local television to help fans
track conversations online.
Owing to the popularity of "Got to Believe," Bernardo and Padilla have since
become among the most in-demand and bankable artists in the Philippines.
ANGEL LOCSIN SETS UP SLEEPING TENTS FOR HEALTH WORKERS
MANILA — Actress and philanthropist Angel Locsin is mobilizing efforts to
provide sleeping tents for health workers inside or near hospital grounds,
in the hope of aiding their situation amid the Luzon-wide quarantine that
has halted public transportation.
Over the weekend, Locsin asked her followers as well as her fellow artists
to donate items that can be used to provide comfortable sleeping
arrangements for frontliners, "so they don't have to worry about where to
stay and transportation."
The project, she said, is with the assistance and recommendation of the
local government. Locsin is spearheading, alongside her fiance, film
producer Neil Arce, as well as wedding organizer La Belle Fête.
"To my friends in the industry, maybe you can spare your taping beds for our
health workers? Also to everyone reading this, if you have available folding
beds that we could borrow, we would greatly appreciate it. We'll name the
bed after the donor and you could also write down a note to thank them for
their hard work," she wrote.
Locsin mentioned fellow actresses Angelica Panganiban, Bea Alonzo, and Anne
Curtis for "donating their taping beds right away."
Detailing the donation process in a video on her Instagram page, Locsin said
in its caption: "We acknowledge that this is a challenging time for
everyone, but we also know that we, Filipinos, are strong and resilient,
especially when united."
"We made it through Ondoy, Yolanda, Mt. Pinatubo and Taal eruption, and we
will surely overcome this as a nation," she said, referring to past
calamaties in the Philippines.
"This is a plea to everyone to support our dear frontliners. Let's help them
save lives!" she said.
On Monday, Locsin then shared a photo of her with Arce wearing face masks.
In its caption, she indicated that it was the second day of their
"operation," with the hashtag #HealTheWorld.
In her Instagram Stories, Locsin shared a glimpse of the tents that they
have so far set up for health workers, including the beds donated by her
colleagues, including Paulo Avelino, Ria Atayde, and Lorna Tolentino.
One video (seen below) also showed a tour of an airconditioned sleeping
tent, which notably observes social distancing.
As of Monday afternoon, the Philippines has reported a total of 462
coronavirus cases — a single-day increase of 82 — with 8 more patients
succumbing to the disease, bringing the total fatalities to 33.
TOM HANKS 'BETTER' AFTER VIRUS QUARANTINE DOWN UNDER
GOLD COAST, Australia -- Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks said he and wife Rita
Wilson were on the mend Monday, after two weeks in hospital and
self-isolation with the coronavirus.
"Hey folks, two weeks after our first symptoms and we feel better," he
posted in a social media message to fans, urging them to respect lockdown
The multiple Oscar-winning actor was on Australia's Gold Coast to film an
Elvis Presley biopic when he and Wilson, both 63, came down with the
The pair were admitted to hospital, where they were treated before being
released into self-isolation last week.
The movie has since been put on ice.
As both the United States and Australia struggled to curb infections and
keep people from social gathering places, Hanks on Monday urged supporters
to listen to advice about containing the pandemic.
"Sheltering in place works like this: You don't give it to anyone -- you
don't get it from anyone. Common sense, no?"
"Going to take a while but if we take care of each other, help where we can,
and give up some comforts... this too shall pass. We can figure this out."
FOOTBALL: UEFA FORMALLY POSTPONES CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, EUROPA LEAGUE FINALS
BERN - This season's Champions League, Europa League and women's Champions
League finals scheduled for May have been formally postponed because of the
coronavirus pandemic, European soccer's governing body UEFA said on Tuesday.
All three competitions are currently suspended along with almost every
European domestic league because of the coronavirus while UEFA last week
postponed the Euro 2020 tournament until next year.
"No decision has been taken on rearranged dates," UEFA said in a statement.
It also did not say whether it would be able to complete the competitions in
the current format or would have to shorten them.
The Champions League was halted halfway through the return legs of the round
of 16 with four ties still to be decided. The final was due to take place in
Istanbul on May 30.
Some media reports have suggested ties could be reduced to one leg instead
of two from the quarter-finals with a "final four" tournament in Istanbul.
In the Europa League, two of the round of 16 first leg matches have still to
be played and all of the second legs. The final was due to be held in
Gdansk, Poland, on May 27.
The women's Champions League final was scheduled for Vienna on May 24.
FOREX $1 = P 51.33
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The
learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer
exists. - Eric Hoffer