Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban
Enhanced community quarantine in Luzon
LATEST UPDATE: April 5, 2020 - 6:59pm
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NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
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6 hours ago

President Rodrigo Duterte will donate his one-month salary to support efforts to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a  fast-spreading pandemic that has infected more than one millions people worldwide, more than 3,000 of them in the Philippines.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo notes that many Cabinet members have pledged to donate 75% of their monthly salaries from April to December to boost the government's fight against the disease.

"Others have volunteered a salary deduction for the whole duration of the state of public health emergency in solidarity with our countrymen and to help in the government efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus," Panelo says in a statement issued Sunday.

"The President is likewise donating his one month salary for the cause," he adds.

Duterte earns close to P400,000 per month, based on the latest government salary hike passed by Congress.

Panelo says other officials with the rank of secretary are giving portions of their salaries to boost the campaign against COVID-19.

10 hours ago

The Philippine Postal Corp will resume operations for domestic acceptance and delivery of postal items, PHLPost says in an announcement.

PHLPost will operate selected Delivery Post Offices three times a week, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Door-to-door delivery will be limited and mails and parcels with contact details like phone numbers and email addresses may be picked up at the post office.

Barangay officials may also be tasked with delivering the mail to their constituents.

11 hours ago

A team of experts from China—ten medical experts and two officials—arrive in Manila on Sunday to share technical advice on the prevention and control of COVID-19 in the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs reports.

Photo from Department of Foreign Affairs
12 hours ago

More than 1,000 senior citizens in Quezon City receive "Lakas-Resistensya Packs" through Sen. Risa Hontiveros and the Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Inc. on Sunday.

The packs include "a weeklong supply of rice, multivitamins, milk, face masks, and other essential items to boost their immunity."

Hontiveros urges the public to refrain from having senior citizens leave the house during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, saying they are among the groups considered more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

1 day ago

The Department of Foreign Affairs welcome another batch of Filipino repatriates.

The group is composed of 185 seafarers onboard MSC Splendida docked in Genoa, Italy, and 122 seafarers onboard MSC Fantasia docked in Lisbon, Portugal.

The chartered flight that carried the repatriates landed at the NAIA Terminal 1 at 1:12 p.m.

The 307 Filipino repatriates underwent the necessary medical protocols as required by the Bureau of Quarantine of the Department of Health. 

1 day ago

The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo says they are thankful for President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that Robredo had done nothing wrong in helping the government in their efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.

"Patuloy ang aming panawagan para sa mga donasyon para sa PPE at iba pang ayuda sa ating mga doktor, nars, at iba pang frontliners. Ipinaalala rin natin sa publiko ang mga ruta ng ating shuttle services, na makikita sa ating Facebook page, pati ang mga dorms natin para sa health workers," says lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo's spokesperson. 

1 day ago

The Department of Information and Communications Technology assures the public that the RapidPass.ph has complied with data privacy requirements and went through the agency’s preliminary cybersecurity tests before its kick-off on Monday, April 6, 2020.

RapidPass.ph is the government’s initiative to fast track movement and access of frontliners, and priority vehicles at designated checkpoints during the enhanced community quarantine. It is a system which uses QR codes and control numbers as checkpoint passes or permits.

1 day ago

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says that Cabinet members will donate 75% of their monthly salary to help the government in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

2 days ago

The Land Bank of the Philippines starts releasing cash grants totaling P16,347,295,950 to 3,721,826 conditional cash transfer household-beneficiaries nationwide through the national government’s Social Amelioration Program. 

“We want to ensure that social protection programs reach our most vulnerable sectors during this crisis the soonest time possible. Through our LANDBANK Cash Cards, we are delivering financial assistance in an immediate, safe, secure, and convenient manner,” says Landbank President and CEO Cecilia Borromeo.

2 days ago

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte apologizes for losing her composure on social media and for distributing health kits bearing her name.

“First, I sincerely apologize for losing my composure on social media. You are correct that all the projects implemented by the QC government belong to you, as they are funded by your taxes,” Belmonte says.

“While it is true that my team used leftover donated bags from the previous campaign and that they were the most readily available bags on the first day of enhanced community quarantine, it is clear that this was highly insensitive given the circumstances. Inaamin ko po na nagkamali ako,” Belmonte adds.

The mayor vows she will do better as a public servant.

"When I reflect on these actions, I do not recognize the public servant that I aspire to be. The citizens of Quezon City deserve better. I will do better," says Belmonte.

She also warns about the ongoing misinformation campaign against the Quezon City local government. 

"We appeal to everyone to please be very critical about what you read, like, or share. Huwag po tayong magpadala sa 'fake news' at trolls. Sa halip na tumulong at makiisa sa lungsod para malampasan ang COVID-19, may mga taong sinasamantala ang krisis para sa kanilang pansariling interes," she adds.

2 days ago

The Department of Health reports 385 new cases of the new coronavirus in the Philippines, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 3,018.

The health department also announced 29 additional deaths, raising the national toll to 136.

One new patient has recovered, which brings the total number of recoveries to 52.

2 days ago

The government is transforming the Rizal Memorial Complex-Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila, the Philippine International Convention Center Forum Halls and the World Trade Center both in Pasay City into quarantine sites.  

“Sa ngayon iyong tatlong in-identify namin with the help of DOH (Department of Health) ay ongoing na. So as early as this week meron na kaming made-deliver na additional facilites,” says Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar in a phone interview during the Laging Handa briefing. 

“’Yung ginagawa naming ngayon, ang expectation namin ay makaka-house siya ng 936 patients pero meron pa ring expansion kasi marami pa rin may open fields na pwede pang gamitin pero sa ngayon po, naka-focus muna kami sa tatlong locations dahil malapit [ito] sa ospital, [at in terms of] logistics mas madaling gamitin,” Villar adds. 

2 days ago

Philippine Airlines will be operating a special flight from London Heathrow to Manila on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, which is open for sale in response to an urgent public need amid COVID-19 quarantine situation.

The flight will only carry Filipinos, their foreign spouse and children, and accredited officials of foreign governments and international organizations, to comply with current Philippine travel entry restrictions.

3 days ago

The first batch of 15,000 PPEs from China have been distributed to the following hospitals, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. says in a briefing:

  • Philippine General Hospital
  • Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital
  • Lung Center of the Philippines
  • East Avenue Medical Center
  • AFP Medical Center.

These hospitals are the frontline government hospitals dealing with COVID-19 cases, he also says.

The remainder of the PPEs are to arrive from April 6-24, he also says.

He says donors will also be sending PPEs, with the Department of Health identifying hospitals that are most in need.

Galvez says they have created Viber group among hospitals for better coordination.

3 days ago

Taguig City moves the deadline of payment of city taxes until May 20, 2020.

Mayor Lino Cayetano, through Executive Order No. 04, extends the deadlines of “all business taxes, real property taxes, transfer taxes, amusement taxes and other taxes, fees, charges and other financial obligations, due and payable to the Taguig City Government during the period of the enhanced community quarantine.”

3 days ago

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno reveals that the National Bureau of Investigation is also going after ordinary citizens expressing their sentiments over the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak on social media.

Diokno said he has taken on the case of a netizen being summoned by the NBI.

"Hindi lang si Mayor Vico. Pati ordinaryong mamamayang nagpo-post ng hinaing online, pinapatawag ng NBI," Diokno said in a radio interview Thursday.

April 1, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte orders the Philippine National Police to protect healthcare workers.

He says, in comments that the Palace will likely say are an exaggeration, that police officers can make those who assault healthworkers drink whatever liquid they throw at frontliners.

April 1, 2020

The National Bureau of Investigation, which reaped widespread criticism on social media for telling Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto to explain alleged violations of quarantine protocols, will now also invite Sen. Koko Pimentel to its office.

Pimentel, who has become the face of privilege during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, left his home at least twice while waiting for the results of his COVID-19 test.

He has since tested positive.

His trips to the Makati Medical Center and to S&R Membership Shopping in Taguig exposed people to possible infection by the novel cronavirus.

April 1, 2020

The Department of Education says students can use DepEd Commons, the online educational platform for public school teachers and learners amid the enhanced community quarantine.

 

"In this time of uncertainty, we are glad that through DepEd Commons, our learnes will still be able to continue learning. It is critical for us to provide them with more options to learn," Assistant Secretary for Alternative Learning System Ambat says.

March 31, 2020

Online hotel management and booking platform RedDoorz is offering free temporary accommodation for frontline healthcare workers and emergency first responders during the COVID-19 quarantine, it says in a release.

It says the program is in response to a call by the Department of Tourism and the city government of Manila but the program will be rolled out across the region.

"Our Red Heroes program across Southeast Asia—in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore—helps us alleviate the heavy pressures placed on national governments by providing free, clean, safe, and comfortable accommodation for those on the frontlines. Through our partnerships with key sectors, we are positive that we will be able to overcome this challenge if we stand together. We hope more companies with the means to support the initiative will participate during this challenging time," Amit Saberwal, CEO and founder of RedDoorz, says in a release.

In Manila, the hotels in the program are near UST Manila, Quiapo Church, and Quirino Station.

The hotels are near hospitals in the city, which will mean easier commutes and comfortable accommodations for health workers during the Luzon lockdown.

March 31, 2020

Valenzuela City launches its Market on Wheels, which takes its inspiration from Pasig City’s Mobile Palengke, to address the issue of people having to walk far just to go to the market while a public transportation ban is in place.

The initiative also aims to help vendors and e-trike drivers have a continuous source of income despite the lockdown. 

March 31, 2020

Sen. Nancy Binay expresses disappointment over the lack of urgency and the slow distribution of food packs as the nationwide lockdown enters its third week.

"If the DSWD is really serious in providing immediate assistance to those who are affected by the lockdown, then bilisan naman ang ayuda. Pa-three weeks na tayo pero P46 million pa lang ang nailalabas para sa family food packs nationwide. At the rate things are going, dehado ang mamayang Pilipino," the senator says in a statement.

"I wonder where this would bring us if DSWD will only wait for the requests from LGUs for augmentation. Nasa 100 milyon ang Pilipino. Yung paglabas ng P46M, hangga't di nakakarating sa mga nangangailangan ang ayuda, di ibig sabihin ay na-fulfill ang trabaho," Binay adds.

March 31, 2020

The Department of Information and Communications Technology says its Tech4ED project offers free online educational content for kids during home quarantine.

"The educational materials were sourced from Let's Read - Asia's free digital library for Children and uploaded to the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) Tech4ED platform to continually boost learning beyond the classroom," the agency says in a statement.

"The materials can be read online or downloaded for offline consumption, and can be automatically translated to different languages, both foreign (English, Mandarin, Japanese, etc.) and local (Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, etc.) to cater to a variety of clients," it adds.

March 30, 2020

Overpriced medical supplies seized by authorities would be donated to health workers taking care of patients afflicted with 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the customs bureau said yesterday.

Customs assistant commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla said the bureau is coordinating with the justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation for the turnover of confiscated supplies to the frontliners.

"We're finalizing some plans... so that we can fast-track the forfeiture of the overpriced alcohol and donate them to the frontliners who need them," Maronilla said in a televised press briefing.

President Duterte placed the entire Philippines under a six-month state of calamity last March 16, allowing the national and local governments to access their quick response funds to bankroll COVID-19 interventions. He has also issued Memorandum Circular No. 77 directing agencies and local governments to ensure compliance with price caps on essential medical supplies, agriculture, and fishery commodities.

Authorities have seized overpriced and hoarded alcohol and personal protective equipment in various parts of Luzon, including Batangas, Caloocan, and Manila in compliance with Malacañang's directive to enforce laws against profiteering and other unscrupulous businesses practices. — The STAR/Alexis Romero

March 30, 2020

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System assures its consumers that water supply will remain free from bacteria and viruses, including the deadly novel coronavirus.

MWSS chief regulator said the water supply in their concession areas has been disinfected with chlorine and is safe for domestic consumption.

"In a technical brief on water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus released by the World Health Organization on 19 March 2020; the WHO maintained that chlorine disinfection should inactivate the COVID-19 virus," MWSS chief regulator Patrick Ty said in a statement.

March 29, 2020

San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora will be on self-quarantine after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19, he says on his Instagram account.

"In the interest of public safety, I will be going on self-quarantine starting today March 29 up to April 11, 2020," he says.

He sayd the city health officer told him this morning that a member of his staff was positive for the novel coronavirus.

"I have spoken to him personally and he said that he is not experiencing any symptoms such as fever, cough or colds," Zamora says.

March 29, 2020

The Province of Tarlac issued guidelines for its Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine, which took effect this morning.

Earlier called a "lockdown", under Extreme Enhanced Community Quarantine, the following measures are in place:

  • Local chief executives at the city, municipal, and barangay levels "are mandated to be more strict in guarding Inter-LGU Border Control Points." The checkpoints will be guarded by police, military, a representative of the local IATF. Checkpoints within an LGU will be staffed by local government personnel.
  • Regular updates to the list of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR), which will be "followed strictly." APORs are those exempted from quarantine restrictions like medical workers, workers at essential businesses, and media 
  • Unimpeded flow of cargoes
  • Movement of residents who are not APORs will be allowed if they have Quarantine Passes

Persons found violating the measures of the lockdown "may be arrested and charged under [the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act] and...and/or Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (Resistance and Disobedience to Person in Authority." 

Read the provincial government's executive order in full here.

March 29, 2020

Senior citizens need even more care while the country contends with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. (Senior Citizen party-list) says.

"Let us keep them away from crowds. They should stay at home while COVID-19 poses a threat. Let us keep them entertained with some exercise, card games, chess, or mobile games," Datol says in Filipino.

He stresses that senior citizens should also be bathed and that caregivers should use soap and shampoo.

March 28, 2020

Laguna Gov. Ramil Hernandez announces that the whole province is now on total lockdown amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 28, 2020

The city government of Cebu announces that the city is placed under enhanced community quarantine. 

The quarantine will last until April 28, 2020 until further notice.

March 27, 2020

Filipino seafarers repatriated from coronavirus-infected Grand Princess cruise ship calls on the government to test all crew members before their 14-day quarantine ends on Sunday.

The 538 seafarers are currently quarantined at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac but testing remains "random" and "unsystematic". Those who tested positive were sent to Bataan.

"If the politicians and their families are able to avail of testing, then we, who were exposed continuously to COVID-19 for a long time, need and deserve the testing even more," the group said in an open letter.

March 27, 2020

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. informs members of the diplomatic community that foreign governments would have to take full responsibility in mounting sweeper flights from the Philippines and back to their countries starting Friday.

In an online video conference, the DFA chief told the diplomatic corps that the last of sweeper flights funded by the Philippines ended on Thursday.

Locsin also said foreign nationals should return to their home countries while flights are still available. Otherwise, they would have to stay in the Philippines until the end of the enhanced community quarantine period.

"If that is the case, he advised foreign missions on the steps that they should take in the coming days and weeks with regard to assisting their nationals who are still in the Philippines while the ECQ is enforced," the DFA said in a statement. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

March 27, 2020

Tourism Secretary Bernadette “Berna” Romulo-Puyat says she is on quarantine after being exposed to Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. who tested positive for COVID-19.

"I will be undergoing self-quarantine as I was exposed to him [Santos] in a meeting last March 20," Puyat says.

"Since I do not show any signs nor symptoms, I will not be having myself tested in order to save the limited supply of testing kits to people who truly need it. By staying at home, I will not put anyone I come in contact with at risk," she adds.

March 27, 2020

The United States' Indo-Pacific Command operating in the western Pacific called off this year's military exercises with the Philippines due to concerned for the health and safety of the participating forces.

In a statement, Adm. Philip Davidson said the cancelation is in accordance with international travel restrictions of both the U.S. Department of Defense and the Philippines in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"In light of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding COVID-19 pandemic and in the best interest of the health and safety of both countries’ forces, it is prudent to cancel Balikatan 2020," Davidson said.

March 26, 2020

(Updated 7:49 p.m.) Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap announces the province will be on lockdown after midnight on Sunday, March 29, after the province confirms two COVID-19 cases.

The province has two COVID-19 cases:  A 75-year-old woman from Paniqui and a 39-year-old man from Gerona.

As of March 26, Tarlac province has recorded 17,040 PUMs, 174 mild PUIs, 39 severe PUIs and nine deaths.

The province is still waiting for results for 25 tests from RITM.

She says guidelines for the lockdown will be disseminated through town and barangay officials on Friday, March 27. 

All of Luzon is already under an enhanced community quarantine that President Rodrigo Duterte has said is "like a lockdown." — Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

March 26, 2020

Authorities caught almost 700 violators of the curfew in Cagayan Valley region, as police stepped up quarantine campaigns in the region to contain the further spread of COVID-19.

Police Brig. Gen. Angelito Casimiro, Cagayan Valley region director, says Cagayan recorded the highest number of arrested violators at 201 while Isabela had 134, Nueva Vizcaya had 189, Quirino had 29 and Santiago City had 140.

Batanes remains “the most peaceful place” in the implementation of curfew hours from March 19-25, adds Casimiro. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao 
 

March 26, 2020

The Office of Vice President Leni Robredo and and Angat Buhay partners open a dormitory for health workers and frontliners in Cubao, Quezon City.

The dorm will be open to health workers, medical practitioners and other frontliners, including security guards and other volunteers of programs related to the response against COVID-19.

Requests for accommodation will be on a first come, first served basis. Additional details and updates are available on Robredo's Facebook page.

March 25, 2020

Police in Cagayan Valley took at least 41 to detention cells for violating quarantine regulations, including price cap laws on medical supplies.

Cagayan police hauled 37 to jail to face complaints while Nueva Vizcaya police arrested three.

Brig. General Angelito Casimiro, Cagayan Valley police director, says out of the 41 arrested, 33 were caught drinking intoxicated liquor or were found to be drunk; six were arrested for violating the curfew, and a Person Under Monitoring was arrested in an Enhanced Community Quarantine checkpoint.

Police also arrested a person for selling overpriced medical supplies. — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

 

March 25, 2020

After hours of speculation after Sen. Koko Pimentel announced he tested positive for COVID-19, the Makati Medical Center says in an official statement that the senator "breached MakatiMed hospital infection control protocols."

The hospital assured the public that "stringent protocols for decontamination of the facility and evaluation of involved healthcare workers have been done."

March 25, 2020

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) directs the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes office to transfer P420,585,000 to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. 

"The said amount shall be utilized to cover COVID-19-related packages of the [PhilHealth]," the IATF said in a resolution dated March 24.
 

March 25, 2020

Funeral services staff are exempted from quarantine restrictions during the Enhanced Community Quarantine against the COVID-19 outbreak, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says.

They are to be allowed freedom of movement to handle the remains of COVID-19 fatalities.

March 25, 2020

The city government of Valenzuela says they have passed an ordinance adopting an alternative work arrangement for contractual and job order employees. 

"An exception to the 'no work, no pay' principle in the course of quarantine period brought by the COVID-19 outbreak, the City Government of Valenzuela maintained a skeletal workforce among its personnel to continue to attend to the crucial needs of its constituents during this time of national emergency," it says in a statement.

March 25, 2020

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete says that all barangay checkpoints will be under the supervision of the Philippine National Police.

The PNP will orient barangay officials on the guidelines of the  Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

March 24, 2020

In this video contributed by reader and former GMA News Online editor Earl Rosero, officials of Barangay Kamuning in Quezon City distribute relief goods to residents. 

"According to Kagawad Ray Fajardo, this sortie targets 800 households. They have about 2,400 households on their distribution list, including indigents. March 24, 2020 past 6 p.m.," Rosero says in his video post. 

March 24, 2020
The Department of Health reports an additional 90 detected infections of the deadly disease as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, increasing the number of cases to 552.
 
March 24, 2020

Animal rights organization PETA asks the government to consider veterinarians and animal rescuers as "essential workers" and to allow them to move freely to help animals in need.

"Currently, because of travel restrictions and checkpoints, several veterinarians cannot reach their clinics," the group says in a statement.

"Similarly, PETA receives calls about dying and sick animals all the time, but right now, its rescue team is unable to go to their aid," it adds.

March 23, 2020

The Department of Health reported the largest single-day detection rate of the virus thus far as of 4 p.m. with 82 new cases, bringing the total to 462. Read the developing story here.

March 23, 2020

The UP-Philippine General Hospital has accepted the Department of Health's request to be a designated NCR COVID-19 Referral Center.

In a statement, UP-PGH says it and other hospitals "have committed financial, manpower, technical and technological assistance to the COVID-19 Referral Centers."

"The Department of Health and the University of the Philippines have pledged to extend full support as well."

Preparations by UP-PGH and other referral centers need a week "to complete the formulation of an efficient and effective flow of management to ensure the safety of both patients and healthcare workers."

Aside from UP-PGH, other hospitals to be designated as referral centers are the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan.

RELATED:  PGH, Lung Center, Dr. Jose M. Rodriguez designated as exclusive COVID-19 hospitals

March 23, 2020

There are now 396 confirmed cases of the deadly novel virus in the Philippines, the Department of Health said.

March 23, 2020

House debate on emergency powers starts

Minority Leader  Benny Abante (Manila), minority leader, points out President Duterte has been able to implement an enhanced community quarantine and curfew and closure of businesses without emergency powers.

Also asks whether the executive has standards or guidelines on when the government will take over privately-owned businesses and utilities.

Clarifies before asking questions that he agrees with passing the bill, but that he is asking for "our country's knowledge and information."

March 23, 2020

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea says buzz over the proposal to give the government the power to take over establishments is unnecessary.

"Even as originally worded, the intent of the proposal was simply to grant to government a stand-by power.  It is a power which do not consider to be exercised at all times," he says.

He says that the "virus is so unpredictable," and that the power is meant only for the worst-case scenario.

March 22, 2020

More than 500 members of the staff of the UST hospital are under quarantine for possible novel coronavirus, The Varsitarian—the university's official student publication—reports.

Among those under quarantine are consultants, fellows, nurses and aides who have been exposed to confirmed and potential COVID-19 patients.

March 22, 2020

The Senate will seek to declare a state of national emergency and grant President Rodrigo Duterte "emergency powers subject to...limitations," including reports to Congress on orders and other issuances under those powers.

According to a draft of the bill, a copy of which was obtained by Philstar.com after ABS-CBN News first reported the story, the proposed Bayanihan Act of 2020 seeks to grant the president powers to "ensure that all Local Government Units are acting in line with the rules, regulations and directives issued by the National Government."

It also authorizes Duterte to, "when the public interest so requires, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest to be used in addressing the needs of the public" during the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 22, 2020

Pasig City will not be issuing Quarantine Passes, Mayor Vico Sotto announces Sunday.

"Upon clarification with the [PNP National Capital Region Police Office] and [Joint Task Force CV Shield]: We do not need Quarantine Passes within Pasig jurisdiction," Sotto says in an announcement on social media.

"Wag na natin dagdagan ang requirements. Magiging karagdagang person-to-person contact lang ito. Subject to abuse and misuse din ito," he also says.

(Let's not add to the requirements. This will just be an additional person-to-person contact. It is also subject to abuse and misuse.)

More here: What are quarantine passes and why are they handed out during Luzon-wide lockdown?

March 22, 2020

Globe Telecom announces that its HomeSURF199 will receive a big data boost amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

The data allocation will be from 22GB to 30GB, starting March 21 to April 21.

March 22, 2020

The city government of Las Piñas imposes a 24-hour curfew to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As of this writing, there is no ordinance yet about the 24-hour curfew. 

March 21, 2020

Quarantine guidelines with specific times that people are allowed to leave the house attributed to the Philippine National Police and the inter-agency task force on the response to the novel coronavirus are unauthorized, the PNP says.

In a message to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also says the task force has not issued guidelines specifying travel bans during certain hours of the day.

"That is unauthorized," he says.
 

March 21, 2020

 At least 76 persons violating the 24-hour curfew were taken to detention cells in Baguio City on Saturday.

Vowing they mean business, policemen brought the arrested violators to the Station 7 detention cells to get a dressing down and to face charges for loitering.

Col. Allen Rae Co, Baguio police director, said policemen led by Maj. Marlo Evasco of Station 7 and the Baguio City Mobile Force Company led by Lt. Col. Jethro Moog “swept” through the Central Business District starting Saturday morning.

On Friday night, seven persons were also locked up for loitering.  — The STAR/Artemio Dumlao

 

March 21, 2020

A labor group says they have been receiving complaints from workers terminated from their job due to absences and refusals to report for work amid the enhanced community quarantine.  

Defend Jobs Philippines says employers should be "sensitive enough in handling absences of their employees due to the COVID-19 scare."

March 21, 2020

GMA Network confirms that a freelance production talent tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, the network says that they are coordinating with the Department of Health and the local government unit to ensure that all necessary protocols are being followed.

The talent last visited the network's premises on February 28.

March 21, 2020

New coronavirus cases in the Philippines is now at 262, with the Department of Health's reporting of an additional 32 cases by midday Saturday.

Read the full report here.

March 21, 2020

The city government of Muntinlupa announces that they passed an ordinance on 24-hour curfew to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Based on the ordinance, the nine-hour curfew, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. is not an effective deterrent for people to stay at home as reported by barangay officials.

Muntinlupa City is placed under 24-hour curfew starting March 20, 2020.

March 21, 2020

A few barangays in Metro Manila have been issuing and requiring a "quarantine pass," following national government's directive that only one person per household  to get essential items.

There were reports that some barangay halls charge for a fee and require household members to submit docments. Other passes also specify the name of the household member, thereby disallowing other family members to procure goods outside their homes.

Responding to online queries, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian says there is no need to issue a quarantine pass, another bureaucratic step that is prone to abuse.

March 21, 2020

Political science professor Aileen Baviera of the University of the Philippines succumbed today to severe pneumonia triggered by the novel coronavirus.

"Ikinalulungkot naming ipaalam sa inyo na si Dr. Aileen S.P. Baviera ay pumanaw ngayong araw, Marso 21, 3:55 n.u., sa San Lazaro Hospital dahil sa malubhang pneumonia sanhi ng COVID-19," the university announces.

Baviera was a leading expert on Asia-Pacific security and the South China Sea territorial dispute. She was also a scholar of contemporary Chinese studies and founder of think tank Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation.

March 21, 2020

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xi Lian receives morning a shipment from China containing:

  • 100,000 fast-test kits
  • 100,000 surgical masks
  • 10,000 N95 masks
  • 10,000 personal protective equipment
March 21, 2020

The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, or FINEX, urges Congress to provide a safety net for the poor, marginalized and unemployed through an amelioration program realigning unspent or unobligated appropriations in the national budget.

In a statement, Clairmont Group CEO Eduardo Yap, who is also FINEX national affairs chairman, says the president must augment calamity funds with resources of the government-owned and controlled corporations.

Yap says:

"The national budget was designed and approved for normal times. But we are now in abnormal times, unprecedented since the war years."

"This global virus pandemic was not foreseen nor factored into the budget. We are now in a war for the survival of our nation and its economy, and fiscal policy and programs must be realigned as we propose during the exigency of this national emergency," he adds.

The FINEX statement followed that of other business organizations calling on President Duterte to have Congress hold a special session to pass a supplemental budget to respond to the outbreak.

March 20, 2020

SMC Tollways assigns priority lanes at the South Luzon Expressway to ensure efficient delivery of basic goods and emergency health services to and from Metro Manila and neighboring provinces in the south.

“We are doing this to guarantee that essential deliveries reach their destination as smoothly and quickly as possible,” San Miguel Corporation president and COO Ramon Ang says.

“These same lanes can also be used by emergency health vehicles to quickly get to places in need of medical attention,” he adds.

March 20, 2020

The University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital stops the admission of non-emergency cases to free wards and rooms after being designated as exclusive facilities for COVID-19 patients.

The DOH said the plans will be finalized within the day and more details will be released once the referral mechanism and rotation system have been worked out.

March 20, 2020

The Philippine College of Physicians appeals to large businesses to provide personal protective equipment for frontline health workers.

PCP President Dr. Gina Nazareth called for an immediate collaboration between large businesses and air transport carriers in quickly procuring PPEs of the country's frontliner health workers.

Nazareth noted that numerous hospitals in the country reported significant shortages in N95 and surgical masks, gloves, face shields, as well as alcohol and hand sanitizer.

"We urge our large businesses in the country to help us in this time of serious health crisis by providing resources for the procurement of PPEs for the protection of our frontline health workers. The current shortage in protective equipment leaves our frontline workers significantly more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19," Nazareth said in a statement.

March 20, 2020

The National Bureau of Investigation deploys its various units to investigate the source of fake news, "especially those reports that sow chaos and will lead to unrest and anarchy in the country."

Different NBI units such as Cyber Crime Division, the Digital Forensic Division and other Investigative units, including the Regional Operations Service are directed to trace the source of fake news.

The bureau's International Operations Division is currently coordinating with its foreign counterpart to verify the accuracy of the statenent, NBI Director Eric Distor says.

March 20, 2020

DOH Undersecretary Rosette Vergeire assures the public that the health secretary is in good condition, Philstar.com's Franco Luna reports.

"We have regular communication with him through teleconference and phone calls," she says, though no updates are mentioned on the results of his tests.

"The president interacted with Duque. We have initial contact and second, third layer contacts and so on," she adds in Filipino.

March 20, 2020

Responding to private hospitals' appeal, Health Secretary Francisco Duque tells dzMM that he has ordered to designate a facility of the UP-Philippine General Hospital (Manila) and the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (Caloocan) as COVID-19-only hospitals.

March 19, 2020

A group of top private hospitals released an appeal to the national government to designate COVID-19-only facilities as resources are running short and an alarming number of medical staff are on quarantine.

Part of the appeal reads:

"We have every reason to be scared; we are, indeed, very scared because we feel that we are on our own to face our countrymen in dire need of help."

March 19, 2020

The city government of Las Piñas has apologized for Wednesday's relief distribution at the city hall where residents affected by the enhanced community quarantine gathered.

Las Piñas is in hot seat after netizens criticized the local government for not observing social distancing.

March 19, 2020

The Department of Transportation launches its COVID-19 emergency operations center hotline to address transportation concerns following the declaration of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

"In partnership with Globe Telecommunications, the DOTr, through the COVID-19 EOC Hotline, can now accommodate text messages 24/7, while concerns coursed through calls can be addressed from 6 AM to 6 PM, daily," the DOTr says.

March 19, 2020

By midday today, 15 new cases of people infected with novel coronavirus were recorded.

There was also one who recovered—a 48-year-old man from Cavite who traveled to Japan and was taken to RITM.

No new deaths were recorded.

March 19, 2020

The Department of Transportation officially launches its COVID-19 hotlines Thursday noon.

In cooperation with Globe, the DOTr hotlines will answer address issues on road concerns such as transportation of health workers in Metro Manila, aviation concerns such as airport operations in the country, and maritime concerns such as operation of ports.

"The DOTr is ready to listen and to help you as much as we can, especially now that the country is facing a major challenge," the agency said in Filipino.

March 19, 2020

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has been put on home quarantine and has been tested for the novel coronavirus, ABS-CBN reports quoting Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire.

Duque, who is asthmatic and hypertensive, is asymptomatic for COVID-19 and will be working from home.

March 19, 2020

Student volunteers from UP Los Baños and officials of Barangay Batong Malake have delivered aid to students stranded on campus because of the Luzon quarantine, Task Force CURE (Community Unit Response-Elbi) says in a release.

"Volunteers were able to provide free packs of food good for 300 people, provided by MIZPEH Food Establishment. An estimated 700 students stayed within the Los Baños area, unable to go home because of the Enhanced Community Quarantine," it says.

The task force previously distributed aid packs to dormers on March 17 with the help of UPLB officials.

The community response was organized by Serve the People Brigade, a group of UPLB student volunteers.

"As of today, community efforts are still ongoing and TF CURE is continuously accepting donations and volunteers who could help in preparing the food to be distributed to more people."

Barangay Batong Malake thanks STP Brigade for the help to students.

In a separate post, it also acknowledged donations of canned goods by the UPLB Beta Sigma fraternity.

March 19, 2020

The Bureau of Internal Revenue extends the deadline for the filing of income tax returns to May 15.

The bureau, however, appealed to those ready to file the ITRs on or before the original deadline to submit theirs to help the government raise funds for the efforts to combat the new coronavirus.

"This emergency measure is being offered to provide relief to Filipino taxpayers who will not be able to prepare, let alone file, the necessary ITR documents on or before the original annual deadline of April 15 because of skeletal workforce arrangements and enhanced community quarantine rules that the national government has implemented to contain the pandemic," the BIR said in a statement.

March 19, 2020

Cainta, Rizal will distribute aid to public transportation drivers in the municipality affected by the suspension of transportation across Luzon.

In an advisory, Mayor Kit Nieto says tricycle drivers in Cainta should coordinate with their association presidents.

"Sa kanila ko idadaan ang tulong para tukoy ang mga pamilyang apektado ng pagkatigil ng inyong pasada," he says.

(I will course the aid through them so the families affected by the suspension of transportation will be easily identified)

Presidents of pedicab drivers', jeepney drivers' and UV Express drivers' associations should also get in touch with the municipal hall (0917-533-3121) for the distribution of aid, Nieto says.

March 18, 2020

Duty Free Philippines Corp. announces it has temporarily stopped its operations nationwide effective March 17, 2020 until further notice.

"This is in compliance to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of 'enhanced community quarantine' over the entire Luzon, including Metro Manila," the company says.

March 18, 2020

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation says it has ordered the  suspension of all Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators and its service providers for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. 

March 18, 2020

SunLife Philippines says some policyholders may have benefits related to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In an advisory, SunLife said these beenfits are:

  • A client insured under Sun First Aid, Sun First Aid Plus, or has an HIB rider attached to his plan* may avail of a daily hospitalization benefit in case he has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is confined.
  • Prioritized claim. While COVID-19 is not known to cause a critical illness (CI) and is proven to be responsive to treatment, if there is a claim that meets the definition of a covered CI and is caused by COVID-19, Sun Life will endeavor to prioritize this type of claim and will provide benefits in accordance with the policy contract provisions.
  • Death benefit. Should the client pass away as a result of COVID-19, his beneficiary may be entitled to a death benefit provided he is insured under an eligible Sun Life insurance plan.
  • It also says it has extended the grace period for premium payments to 91 days "or policies or pre-need plans with due dates falling between February 15 to May 31, 2020." Those who can afford to pay can do so online through bit.ly/empoweredsunlifer.

Those who need to submit documents for insurance claims may also do so electronically. 

March 18, 2020

Quezon City is implementing stricter measures in the city, where 29 cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded.

The city's disaster risk reduction and management chief Mike Marasigan says in a press briefing with Mayor Joy Belmonte that an "extreme enhanced community quarantine" will be implemented in some areas of Quezon City.

The city will consider the homes of confirmed COVID-19 cases as "hot zones" where residents will no longer be allowed to go out. Within 500 meters of the patient's home is a "warm zone" and will be subject to strict monitoring and surveillance for an area quarantine that will be blocked off by checkpoints.

Barangay chairpersons in barangays with two confirmed cases or more to heighten quarantine measures in their areas.

March 18, 2020

J. Amado Araneta Foundation, the social development arm of Araneta City, will donate locally-produced COVID-19 test kits to the Quezon City government once these are available commercially.

"JAAF is looking at donating kits that are enough to test 500 samples at the Quezon City General Hospital. The Foundation has started coordinating with the LGU on March 16, 2020 on the preparedness of the public hospital to conduct the test," the foundation says in an Araneta City press release.

March 18, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration announces that doctors can issue electronic prescriptions that patients can present to avail of medicines from drugstores.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said drugstores shall dispense drugs as prescribed by the electronic prescription, which will be considered as equivalent to a written prescription.

"Even though we are experiencing health challenges, this should not deprive our patients of their access to prescription medicines and maintenance drugs. These commodities are essential to each patient and as a national regulatory agency, we should be able to innovate means on how these will remain accessible to them without sacrificing safety and efficacy," Domingo said.

March 18, 2020

The Office of Vice President Leni Robredo launches its free shuttle service for health workers and frontliners amid the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.

The routes of the shuttles will cover major hospitals in the National Capital Region.

"To ensure the safety of passengers, thermal scanning and disinfection procedures are being done before they board the shuttle. Social distancing is also being strictly observed inside the vehicle," the OVP said in a statement.
 

March 17, 2020

After Ayala, SM and Metro Pacific groups, the Aboitiz Group said it has heeded the call of President Duterte to contribute on the fight against the spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

"The Aboitiz Foundation will provide the needed personal protection equipment, primarily masks and sanitzers, to the medical personnel," Abotiiz Foundation told Philstar.com in a statement.

"Some Aboitiz family members have also been donating masks and other PPE to the PGH (Philippine General Hospital)," it added. 

In addition, the company has set up the fundraising page "Help our Health Workers Fight COVID-19" through online donations platform, KINDer, where donations for a minimum of P100 will be accepted.

"The Aboitiz Group is ready to support the COVID-19 frontliners for the long term," Aboitiz said.

March 17, 2020

There is already a community transmission of COVID-19 in the country, Health Secretary Francisco Duque confirms.

Community-based transmission is declared when a person is diagnosed with the disease but was not in a high-risk area nor was in contact with any other confirmed cases.

Because they did not fall under the DOH's screening and contact tracing efforts, this means that the virus was transmitted to them in the community and it is unclear where they would have contracted it. (Get faster updates in our live blog here.)

March 17, 2020

PLDT Inc. announces it will provide a speed boost for Fibr subscribers in Metro Manila and parts of Greater Manila to encourage its customers to stay at home.

The minimum speed will be 25 Mbps until April 30. 

March 17, 2020

The Palace says it sent word to the Department of National Defense and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on health workers and others exempted from work stoppages in getting to work because mass transportation has been suspended.

Presidential spokesperson Panelo says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana "swiftly directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to bring out their army trucks to ferry those who are stranded, particularly health workers and other individuals exempted from the ban, so they can be safely brought to their places of work and their homes after work. "

The MMDA is also coordinating with bus companies and cooperatives "to send out their buses after marking the same with the official logo of the MMDA to put law enforcement agents on notice of their purpose of free public service in favor of those exempted from home quarantine."

"We commend these bus companies for their bayanihan spirit," Panelo says.

He also notes that transport company AVIS Philippines has offered "to transport outbound passengers who intend to depart the country in going to the airport and inbound passengers to their respective homes before the expiration of the 72-hour grace period from the effectivity of the Enhanced Community Quarantine."

The enhanced community quarantine across Luzon has effectively grounded the island's mass transportation and public utility vehicles.

March 17, 2020

The Cavitex Expressway and Cavite–Laguna Expressway say they will continue to operate 24/7.

"We are a public service company with a commitment to support the Government’s directive on unhampered movement of essential cargoes; we shall deploy a skeletal workforce to ensure safe passage. As part of our culture of safety we have implemented a work from home arrangement for office-based personnel," it says.

"We likewise support the PNP, AFP, PCG, and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services that may be set up by CAVITEX, C5 Link and CALAX," it adds.

March 17, 2020

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines announces that all domestic flights will be canceled effectively immediately until April 12.

The airlines, however, will continue to operate international flights up to midnight of March 20. 

"We will announce in due course the status of our international flights from March 20 up to April 12, as we are presently coordinating with government authorities on the relevant implementing details," PAL said in a statement.

March 17, 2020

The Department of Transportation announces that all airports in Luzon will be closed after the 72-hour window period after the region was placed under enhanced community quarantine.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also confirms that no more international flights will be allowed to enter and leave Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the window period.

March 16, 2020

The SM Group is allocating P100 million to help frontliners in government hospitals dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak, it says in a release.

"To ensure the safety of medical frontliners, SM is bringing in personal protective equipment (PPE) — face masks, gowns, visors, hoods, gloves, and shoe covers, as well as urgent medical supplies to help government hospitals who badly need them," SM Prime's Hans Sy says.

The group has also extended assistance to the Philippine General Hospital and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

"SM has also allocated PPEs and medical supplies to the UP Medical Foundation Inc. to reach a wider network of hospitals," SM Group also says.

"To improve availability of tests, SM has reached out to Manila Healthtek Inc. to distribute 20,000 tests for free to government hospitals, once approved for use."

March 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team has announced a P27.1-billion package of priority actions to help frontliners fight the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and provide economic relief to people and sectors affected by the virus-induced slowdown in economic activity.

The package consists of government initiatives to better equip our health authorities in fighting COVID-19 and also for the relief and recovery efforts for infected people and the various sectors now reeling from the adverse impact of the lethal pathogen.

March 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team has announced a P27.1-billion package of priority actions to help frontliners fight the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and provide economic relief to people and sectors affected by the virus-induced slowdown in economic activity.

The package consists of government initiatives to better equip our health authorities in fighting COVID-19 and also for the relief and recovery efforts for infected people and the various sectors now reeling from the adverse impact of the lethal pathogen.

March 16, 2020

Workers should get full compensation amid the "enhanced community quarantine" of Luzon that the Palace announced Monday but has yet to release details on, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino says.

BMP noted that presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said work stoppages are among the measures under the enhanced community quarantine, "but failed to provide guidelines on how it is to be implemented."

According to a memorandum issued over the weekend, enhanced community quarantine would include strict home quarantine and the suspension of transportation in the contained area, which could include the entire island of Luzon.

"[G]overnment and business must equally bear the responsibility of compensating their employees during this crisis," BMP says, adding the mandated work stoppage should be treated as special paid leaves.

March 16, 2020

An enhanced community quarantine of the entire island of Luzon has been declared.

What does this entail?

  • Strict home quarantine
  • Transportation suspended
  • Food and  essential health services provision regulated
  • Heightened presence of uniformed personnel

Read the developing story here.

March 16, 2020

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it is "drastically reducing operations" in all courts nationwide amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The administrative circular also suspends all work, hearings, in all courts until April 15, 2020, reports Philstar.com's Kristine Joy Patag.

March 16, 2020

A fuller Metro Manila lockdown will be proposed: At an ongoing Palace press briefing, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says the possibility of a fuller Metro Manila lockdown will be raised at a task force meeting this afternoon.

"Depende yan sa pag-uusapan mamaya, sa assessment ng Presidente. Si (Interior) Secretary Año, yan ang inirerekomenda. Yan rin ang inirerekomenda ko," Panelo says, as quoted by The STAR's Alexis Romero.

"We have to stop the virus. The only way is to stop ourselves," he adds.

For faster updates: Check out our live blog

March 15, 2020

The government should deliver vitamins and hygiene supplies to senior citizens to help them stay healthy during the community quarantine of Metro Manila, Rep. Francisco Datol (Senior Citizen party-list) says.

He says that he made the suggestion to the the Department of Health at a House hearing and that Health Secretary Francisco Duque agreed.

"I appeal to all our senior citizens and all persons who had had health problems since before COVID-19, to please go into self-quarantine at home now. I ask the barangay leaders to provide their poorest of the poor constituents with soap and other personal hygiene items," he also says.

"Seniors, please inform your barangay chairperson of where you are and your situation. Please monitor your health closely. The moment you start to have symptoms of COVID-19, please call your barangay so you can be transported properly and safely to the hospital."

March 15, 2020

The government should provide contractual workers and those in the informal economy who will be most affected by community quarantine in Metro Manila with cash assistance of at least P10,000, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"Habang marami ang nagpa-panic-buying, mas marami ang panic na lang kasi walang pang-buy," she says in a release.

(While many are panic-buying, more are panicking because they have nothing to buy with)

Hontiveros warns that at least 650,000 Filipino households would become the "new poor" in Metro Manila because of the economic slowdown in the capital. She did not cite her basis for the figure.

"The government should immediately track down and extend PhP 10,000 assistance to these households which will mostly come from vulnerable contractual workers and workers in the informal economy," she said. 

She says households already in the Department of Social Welfare and Development's household targetting system of very poor Filipinos should also get financial assistance.

"This cash aid will keep Filipinos in poverty and near-poverty afloat during this COVID-19 crisis. It will help them cope with the expected inflation in goods due to the lockdown. In times of crisis, cashflow is crucial especially for poor Filipino families who need money for essential items like food, shelter, water, and medicine," she says.

Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat. The STAR/Edd Gumban

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 16, 2020 declares an enhanced community quarantine over all of mainland Luzon, an expansion of an earlier general community quarantine over the National Capital Region.

The entire National Capital Region—16 cities and a municipality—is under community quarantine from March 15 to April 14, which means the enforcement of social distancing measures like letting fewer people on public transportation, reduced store hours, and the possibiity of curfews.

According to a memorandum issued by the Palace on Saturday, March 14, the quarantine means that "movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points."

Travel restrictions in and out of the capital will also be implemented.

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