Keep up to date with what’s happening in the Philippines, all from your favorite news sources.

  • POEA assures seafarers’ welfare, benefits during pandemic
    by Leslie Ann Aquino on September 21, 2020 at 6:34 am

    To further assure their protection and benefits during the national state emergency brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the  Philippine Overseas  Employment  Administration  (POEA) has issued the interim guidelines on the deployment and repatriation of Filipino seafarers. (JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on Monday said that based on Governing Board Resolution No. 13-2020, the POEA emphasized the provision of  assistance  and  benefits  to  seafarers  under  unfortunate  situations  in  their deployment or repatriation due to COVID-19 related reasons. “A seafarer who already signed an employment contract but cannot be deployed from the point of hire due to COVID-19 related reasons shall be provided with accommodation and  food  at  the  principal or employer’s  cost,  unless  provided  by  the government, until the seafarer is deployed or returned home, and even until the contract cancellation,” read the resolution. The POEA said a seafarer who was deployed but becomes stranded during his transit shall be paid basic pay, accommodation, food, and medical benefits at principal or employer’s cost until the seafarer joins the vessel. Likewise, the agency said, the principal or employer shall provide the same assistance and benefits to the seafarers who already signed a contract and deployed but unable to join the ship and is repatriated back home, as well as to the seafarers who cannot be repatriated for some COVID-19 related reasons. It added that seafarers who completed his period of contractual service onboard, and who  is  ashore  but  cannot  be  repatriated  shall  still be  provided  with  “basic  pay, accommodation, food, and medical benefits.”The POEA said the principal or employers   of   the   seafarer   shall   also   provide   all   the   cost   on   the accommodation and food of the seafarer during his quarantine period, unless otherwise provided by the government. It said the principal or employers will be allowed to recover any associated cost on the said provision of assistance and benefits in accordance with the employment contract or the Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

  • DAR to distribute 622 hectares to Cagayan farmer-beneficiaries
    by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz on September 21, 2020 at 6:33 am

    The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has received 622 hectares of agricultural lands from the Cagayan State University (CSU) for distribution to qualified farmer-beneficiaries in Cagayan province. Department of Agrarian Reform (MANILA BULLETIN) DAR Secretary John Castriciones and CSU Vice-President Fr. Ranhilio Aquino last Sept. 17 led the signing of a deed of transfer validated by both institutions of coverable government-owned lands. “This signing of the deed of transfer signifies the beginning of empowerment of our agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in this province. They would till the lands awarded to them without the fear of them getting ejected from these properties,” Castriciones said in a statement. The DAR chief said they would provide the necessary support services to the recipients to make their lands productive, improve their economic lives. Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II (PARPO II) Arthur Faeldon said the department is committed to improve the lives of the people in the countryside, “the very reason why the DAR provincial office worked hard to make this undertaking happen.” Faeldon said DAR requested an area of 549 hectares from CSU Lallo campus and 73 hectares from CSU Piat campus, which are the subject of the deed of transfer that would be covered and awarded to qualified beneficiaries under Executive Order (EO) 75.  EO 75 was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 15, 2019 directing all departments, bureaus, offices, and instrumentalities of government to identify lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries. Under the order, the government “shall govern the identification, validation, segregation, transfer and distribution of all government-owned lands, devoted to or suitable for agriculture and which are no longer actually, directly and exclusively used or necessary for the purpose for which they have been reserved or acquired for the purpose of eventual distribution to qualified beneficiaries.” Also present during the signing of the deed of transfer were DAR Undersecretaries Emily Padilla, Virginia Orogo, David Erro, and Carim Panumpang, Assistant Secretary Milagros Isabel Cristobal, Cagayan Valley Regional Director Samuel Solomero, and Assistant Director Alfredo Lorenzo Jr.

  • COVID-19 swab test ‘price ceiling’ proposed by DOH
    by Betheena Unite on September 21, 2020 at 6:29 am

    The Department of Health (DOH) said Monday it submitted a recommendation to the President to provide a “price ceiling” for coronavirus disease swab test to reconcile varying prices of the test in the country.    (JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have noticed varying price of swab test for the dreaded disease across different laboratories in the country. This prompted the department to recommend to the President the issuance of an executive order setting a price ceiling in order to regulate the prices charged for swab tests. “Nakapag-submit na kami sa Office of the President ng recommendation for an executive order issuance dahil napansin natin yung differential pricing across the different labs in the country (We have already submitted to the Office of the President a recommendation for an executive order issuance because we noticed the differential pricing across different laboratories in the country),” Vergeire said during a virtual press briefing. “Nakikita natin yung malaking difference between labs as to how much swab testing costs. Hinihintay natin na bigyan tayo ng tugon kung saka-sakaling ma-approve (We are seeing a big difference between laboratories as to how much swab testing cost. We are waiting for the response if it is approved),” the Health official added. According to Vergeire, they are pushing for an executive order because “under a law specifying the prices of medicines, diagnostic and professional fees are not included.” “That is what we have tried to study, at ito ang ating hinihiling na baka (and this is what we are asking) for this pandemic situation, we may be able to have this executive order so that we can somehow regulate the prices of swabs, or prices of testing for COVID-19,” Vergeire stressed.

  • Ligtas Covid Centre for BI detainees in New Bilibid Prison opens
    by Jun Ramirez on September 21, 2020 at 6:23 am

    The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has opened the BI Ligtas Covid Centre inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City, Monday afternoon.BI Warden Facility (BIWF) chief Remiecar Caguiron said the facility will serve as a quarantine ward for foreigner-persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are COVID-19 positive with mild to moderate symptoms.The project was initiated by the BI, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Corrections. Caguiron said that in the past,  the bureau used the custodial quarters of the detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa to isolate COVID-positive PDLs.She added that newly-committed foreign wards who test positive for COVID-19 were often referred to authorized facilities or the provincial hospital.“Both personnel and detainees face a big risk of contracting the disease because we have very limited space in our warden facility, and the number of detained aliens remain high.  “This isolation ward lessens the risk,” Caguiron saidCaguiron reports that there are currently 315 aliens detained at the BIWF for various immigration offenses.  The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on big companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year.The BI earlier reported that they moved to decongest the detention center as early as April this year with more than a hundred aliens deported since April, while others were released on bail.“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we stop the spread of this disease through this isolation facility,” said Caguiron.The BI Ligtas Covid Centre has a capacity of 30 PDLs.The BI is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the facility, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring and to lessen physical contact.BIWF personnel as well as medical personnel will be assigned and on duty on a 24/7 basis.Currently, five aliens have been tested positive for the virus.

  • Solon cites payment by Meralco of P19-M fine
    by Ellson Quismorio on September 21, 2020 at 5:41 am

    Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the Manila Electric Co. (Meralo) showed “good corporate citizenship” when it paid the P19 million fine it owed to the government. (MANILA BULLETIN) It only needs to clarify one thing, though, he said. “Meralco’s action demonstrates good corporate citizenship that should be emulated by all firms in highly regulated sectors, especially those enjoying exclusive congressional franchises,” Pimentel, a deputy speaker, said. The hefty fine was earlier imposed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as a result of Meralco’s failure to comply with the regulator’s directive to establish a mandatory bill installment payment plan for customers following the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), among other violations. Pimentel said he also expects Meralco to overhaul its “unfair” portal wherein customers paying their electricity bills online are automatically captured by sister firm Paymaya Philippines Inc. and then slapped a P47 “convenience fee” for the transaction. Meralco has since suspended the convenience fee and has since refunded customers who previously paid the charge. However, it remains unclear whether Meralco will eventually restore or forever do away with the much-panned convenience fee once the COVID-19 crisis is over. Meralco was fined the eight-digit sum last month for failing to clearly explain to customers that their monthly bills during the initial lockdown period were merely estimated, and not based on actual meter readings. Officials of the power distribution giant had told a House inquiry that it was unable to send out meter readers during the ECQ. As a result of Meralco’s lack of care, the ERC said customers received the exorbitantly priced bills for the April 18 to May 17 billing cycle, which mainstream media has termed as “bill shocks.”

  • Easing of Metro Manila quarantine restrictions after July 15 unlikely – Roque
    by Sofia Tomacruz on July 13, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday, July 13, that it was unlikely Metro Manila will be downgraded to a lower quarantine level after July 15, citing recent data that showed the capital region could not yet reopen further.  Roque made the remark in a press …

  • China rejects Philippines’ call to comply with Hague ruling
    by Sofia Tomacruz on July 13, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    MANILA, Philippines – China on Monday, July 13, refused to heed the Philippines’ recent call to comply with the 2016 Hague ruling , once again rejecting the historic award as “illegal and invalid.” The Chinese embassy in the Philippines said it has “taken note” of the statement Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro …

  • AFP renames key positions, military chief gets additional designation
    by Nikko Dizon on July 13, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has renamed key positions and added a new designation for the military chief as part of efforts to make the institution “more responsive to current and future non-conventional threats,” a military spokesperson said on Monday, July 13. The AFP chief …

  • New Anti-COVID czar Magalong to ‘radically’ change PH contact tracing system
    by Sofia Tomacruz on July 13, 2020 at 11:30 am

    MANILA, Philippines – On his first day as the Philippines’ new coronavirus tracing chief Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said on Monday, July 13, that the country’s contact tracing system, a crucial initiative in efforts to curb the outbreak, will “radically” change in its structure.  “Gusto ko lang pong …

  • Barriers for motorcycle back riders ‘unsafe’ and ‘useless,’ say netizens
    by Iya Gozum on July 13, 2020 at 11:20 am

    MANILA, Philippines – The national government’s task force against the coronavirus has finally approved the request of motorcylists to be able to travel with pillion riders , although for limited types of passengers. Commuters who are on social media have a problem with the task force’s requirement for a barrier to be installed between the driver and the …

  • St Luke’s, Makati Med declare full capacity of COVID-19 beds
    by Bonz Magsambol on July 13, 2020 at 9:26 am

    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – At least 4 Metro Manila hospitals announced on Monday, July 13, that they had reached full capacity of allocated COVID-19 beds, particularly in the intensive care unit, as cases of the disease continue to rise in the country.  St Luke’s Medical Center  In a …

  • Philippines coronavirus cases climb further over 57,000
    by Sofia Tomacruz on July 13, 2020 at 9:15 am

    MANILA, Philippines – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines climbed further to 57,006 on Monday, July 13, after 836 new cases were reported nationwide. The newly-reported cases include 749 fresh cases and 87 late cases. Fresh cases cover tests results released to patients …

  • Cavite town reimposes liquor ban to prevent coronavirus spread
    by Dennis Abrina on July 13, 2020 at 8:58 am

    CAVITE, Philippines (UPDATED) – Due to the increasing number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Carmona, Cavite, Mayor Roy Loyola has reimposed a liqour ban to discourage gatherings that often become the means for spreading the virus.  Executive Order 30 – which prohibits the drinking, buying, and selling of all kinds …

  • 8th petition vs anti-terror law attacks ‘subjective’ definition of terroristic dissent
    by Lian Buan on July 13, 2020 at 7:59 am

    MANILA, Philippines – Progressive group Sanlakas party list filed on Monday, July 13, the 8th petition against the anti-terror law, focusing its argument on the vagueness and subjectivity of the definition of a terroristic dissent. The petition asked that Section 4 of the law be struck down …

  • Malacañang names 3 more ‘anti-COVID czars’
    by Sofia Tomacruz on July 13, 2020 at 7:56 am

    MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to boost its testing, tracing, and treatment strategy as coronavirus cases continue to increase nationwide, the national government has named 3 more officials as “anti-COVID czars.” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Monday, July 13, that Public Works Secretary Mark Villar would …

  • Trump, new Japan PM Suga discuss ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’
    by Agence France-Presse on September 20, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    WASHINGTON, D.C.: US President Donald Trump on Sunday spoke to Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to congratulate him on taking office and to discuss a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region, which is increasingly dominated by China. “The two leaders discussed the importance of pursuing our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, continuing

  • Concepcion eyes breath testing
    by Keith Calayag on September 20, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Jose Maria Concepcion 3rd is eyeing the use of breath testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). In a statement, he said the breath testing method from Israel-based BioSafety Technologies Ltd. will complement saliva testing in detecting Covid-19 cases, particularly in the tourism sector and micro, small, medium enterprises (MSMEs). Concepcion

  • DepEd ready than ever for opening of classes
    by Keith Calayag on September 20, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Department of Education (DepEd) was ready than ever for the opening of classes on October 5. “They were already ready in August when they thought they would open on August 28. If I am not mistaken, they are even more ready now,” he told reporters in a recent

  • Stars don pajamas for virtual Emmys
    by The Manila Times on September 20, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    TV stars picked out their favorite pajamas ahead of Sunday’s reinvented, pandemic-hit Emmys, which will see nominees accept prizes live from their homes, with dark superhero satire “Watchmen” tipped to dominate the night. Hollywood’s first major coronavirus-era award show will look radically different, with no red carpet and a host broadcasting from an empty theater

  • SMC Chick ‘n Juicy focuses on safety, affordability and accessibility
    by The Manila Times on September 20, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    San Miguel Foods Inc. has further expanded the reach of Chick ‘n Juicy by Magnolia chain of chicken rotisseries, opening its 87th store in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan and boosting its delivery network to serve more customers in this time of pandemic. Just 18 months in operation, the chain of stores has grown its presence in

  • Learners given opportunity to have ‘objective perspective’ on martial law era — DepEd exec
    on September 21, 2020 at 6:17 am

    MANILA, Philippines — Learners are provided an opportunity to have an “objective perspective” of what happened during martial law under former president Ferdinand Marcos. Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said this Monday as the country observes the 48th anniversary of the martial law declaration—a moment many consider as a dark chapter in Philippine history. In an online briefing, DepEd officials were asked for an update on the teaching of the topic now that the K-12 curriculum has been reduced into the most essential competencies under the distance learning education system amid the coronavirus pandemic. “As to the issue of the way martial law is being covered …Keep on reading: Learners given opportunity to have ‘objective perspective’ on martial law era — DepEd exec

  • Coronavirus-free areas may be placed under ‘new normal’ status – Palace 
    on September 21, 2020 at 6:09 am

            MANILA, Philippines — Several parts of the country with zero transmission of the novel coronavirus which causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the past month may be placed under “new normal” status starting October, Malacaang said Monday.   Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he personally proposed the idea to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Infectious Diseases and was agreed upon by the body itself.   “We’re still data-driven and guided by science. What I can say though is it will not be the same,” Roque said when asked about the possible quarantine measures after Se…Keep on reading: Coronavirus-free areas may be placed under ‘new normal’ status – Palace 

  • At least P4.6B needed to expand PH capacity to teach medicine — CHEd
    on September 21, 2020 at 5:58 am

    MANILA, Philippines — At least P4.6 billion would be needed to expand the capacity of Philippine universities to teach medicine, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) told senators Monday following Congress’approval of a measure that would grant full scholarships to eligible Filipino students. “Overall, the projected for the expansion of the medical program under the ‘Doktor Para sa Bayan’ bill would be about P4.6 billion. So this is the bare bones budget that has been estimated to increase the number of medical students to about 5,368 per year,” CHEd chair Prospero De Vera III said during the deliberations of the commission’s budget at the Senate. The P4.6 billion, De Vera e…Keep on reading: At least P4.6B needed to expand PH capacity to teach medicine — CHEd

  • DTI chief favors downgrading quarantine status in some parts of PH to MGCQ
    on September 21, 2020 at 5:38 am

    MANILA, Philippines — Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez favors the downgrading of quarantine status in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) into the more lenient modified GCQ once the curent status ends this month. During the Laging Handa public briefing on Monday, Lopez said he believes that the public has already learned how to move in their daily lives despite the presence of the coronavirus disease, six months since lockdowns were imposed. “Sa akin pong paniwala—ito po ay sa akin lang—maaari po natin i-push ang mas magaan na community quarantine, subalit ang important po ay may self-discipline, at self-regulation ang buong bayan para talagang bumaba pa rin ang transmi…Keep on reading: DTI chief favors downgrading quarantine status in some parts of PH to MGCQ

  • Duterte participating in UN General Assembly for the first time
    on September 21, 2020 at 5:37 am

            MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will address the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since assuming office, Malacaang announced on Monday.   In an online briefing, Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje said the President is expected to touch on various issues like COVID-19 response and human rights in his address on Tuesday.   “This will be the President’s first time to address the UN General Assembly, the main deliberative board of the UN where all the 193 member-states are represented,” Borje said.   Borje said among the topics Duterte will address are “glob…Keep on reading: Duterte participating in UN General Assembly for the first time

  • School enrollment rate very encouraging – DepEd
    on September 21, 2020 at 5:25 am

            MANILA, Philippines — The number of enrollees in public and private schools has been very inspiring and encouraging, two weeks before the start of academic year 2020-21, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.   In an online briefing, Briones said there are now 24,536,403 enrollees in public and private schools as of September 21, exactly two weeks before classes begin on October 5.   Briones said this is already 88.35 percent of the number of enrollees compared to last year.   “This is already 88.35 percent of last year’s numbers. Na-exceed natin yung original target natin na makaabot tayo ng 80 percen…Keep on reading: School enrollment rate very encouraging – DepEd

  • Meralco pays P19M fine for quarantine ‘bill shock’
    on September 21, 2020 at 5:23 am

    MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has paid the P19 million fine imposed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in connection with its”failure to clearly indicate” that its charges during the early months of enhanced community quarantine were just estimates, resulting to the so-called “bill-shock.” Meralco also failed tocomply with the ERC’s order to allow customers to pay in installments, according to the ERC. In a disclosure to the stock exchange, Meralco said it has paid the amount imposed in the decision of the ERC. Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga, in a text message to, also confirmed on Monday the payment of the fine. ERC earl…Keep on reading: Meralco pays P19M fine for quarantine ‘bill shock’