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Telecom technicians keep households connected amidst COVID-19 threat

April 20, 2020

Despite mounting fears over the continuous spread of COVID-19 in the country, hardworking telecom technicians bravely go to the field day in and day out, leaving the safety of their homes just to ensure that customers are connected even while under enhanced community quarantine. Installers, repairmen, and other technicians working for Globe Telecom’s various contractors all over the country, for instance, visit as many as 10 homes a day but their challenges start before they reach the residence of the customers.  Many barangays refused to grant them entry even with government orders exempting telecom services from ECQ. “Mahirap po pakiusapan ibang barangay na papasukin mga technicians natin, kung minsan kami naharap at pinapakita namin yung ID na issued ng Globe pero ayaw pa din (We’re having difficulties requesting some barangays to allow our technicians to enter their areas.  Sometimes, we even have to face them and show the IDs issued by Globe but they still refuse), said Nerissa Gama, EdgeComm Field Supervisor. They also have to face apprehensive customers who are now wary of allowing strangers into their homes due to the virus threat. “May subs po na ang trato samin parang may COVID na din kami. Hindi po kami pinapapasok sa loob na ng bahay.  Ung iba po halos paliguan kami ng alcohol bago kami papasukin sa bahay nila. (There are subscribers who treat us like we are COVID patients.  They don’t allow us to enter their houses.  Others would almost bathe us in alcohol before they allow us to go inside their house),” said Christian Almonte, a repair technician of EdgeComm in Metro Manila. Aside from the challenges at work, the frontliners also have to bear the burden of being away from their loved ones at this time when most families stay at home. Jedlian technician in Tarlac, Alvin Fronda, whose wife and three kids reside in Nueva Ecija, said:  “Ngayon po mahirap po kasi malayo sa pamilya  pero pinipilit ko pong kayanin  dahil sa trabaho po na to para po sa pamilya ko at sa company po ng Jedlian and Globe  para sa serbisyo po. (Right now, it’s hard because I am far from my family but I’m trying my best to carry on because this work is for my family, for Jedlian and Globe, and for service).” But despite the hardships,  each of them only has one goal in mind -  to keep customers connected especially in this time of need.   “Unang inisip namin frontliners kami dahil contractor kami ni Globe. Ang kailangan ng tao lalo ngayon naka lockdown at nasa bahay lang sila para makabalita sa mga kamaganak nila ay internet at telepono para may komunikasyon (The first thing that we think of is that we are frontliners because we are Globe contractors.  With the lockdown where people are at home, they need the internet and phone to communicate with their relatives),” said Michael Ariza, technician of Visatech in Manila. Michael’s words were echoed by Larry Antenor, Technician of JBD in South Luzon province who proudly said: “Dahil po frontliners tayo. Basta may problema ang internet ng subs kailangang ipagpatuloy natin ang serbisyo at responsibilidad natin sa subs (We are frontliners.  If the customers have a problem with their internet, it is our responsibility to continue providing services to them).” Globe, for its part, expressed gratitude and extended full support to the frontliners who make sure that telecom services are always available to the country and its citizens. "Our critical skeletal team of technicians are hard at work to provide support for Globe At Home broadband lines so that our customers remain productive, connected and informed.  In line with this, we continue to implement stringent health check protocols to ensure the overall safety and well-being of our customers, our installers and repairmen,” said Martha Sazon, Globe SVP and Head of Broadband Business. Health and safety measures undertaken by all Globe at Home installers and repairmen begin before deployment, consisting of the following: ▪ They must pass a series of health checks such as a body temperature of less than 37.8°C, no signs of cough or cold, and no difficulty in breathing or pain in the throat and chest area. ▪ Installers must also disclose if they have gotten in touch with anyone who has displayed any of the aforementioned symptoms, or has come from a country affected with COVID-19. ▪ Before leaving for deployment, installers must also pass hand wash, alcohol and water stations to stay clean and hydrated At the same time, technicians are required to ask homeowners three mandatory COVID screening questions to protect themselves.  The questions are:  1)  Is there any household member considered as a person under investigation or monitoring or has fever, cough or breathing difficulties? 2) Has anyone undergone COVID testing and has either tested positive or is still waiting for results? And 3) Has anyone arrived from abroad in the last 14 days?  If the answer is Yes to one or more questions, the technicians are advised not to proceed but instead return after 14 days. Ensuring the safety of its frontliners and customers is part of the ongoing efforts of Globe in making everyone connected, informed and #SafeAtHome amid the extended ECQ in Luzon. Learn more via https://www.globe.com.ph/stay-safe-at-home.html.

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SMC offers to buy more farmers’ produce to sustain farm incomes and ensure stable food system amid Covid-19 pandemic

April 20, 2020

SMC offers to buy more farmers’ produce to sustain farm incomes and ensure stable food system amid Covid-19 pandemic San Miguel Corporation is looking to tap more farmers nationwide to supply raw material for its food products, help sustain farm incomes in the countryside and secure food supply amidst the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. “We are looking for ways to be able to tap more farmers for rice production, corn, cassava, coconut oil, pork, chicken, among others,” said SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang. “Through this, we hope to be able to support the livelihood of our farmers and secure our future supply of food,” he added. This, he said, will also generate economic activity across the food value chain involving not only farmers, but a web of players from suppliers of agricultural inputs, processing facilities, shipping to retailers, among others. In recent weeks, the company has intensified buying of cassava from over 17,000 farmers nationwide through 130 assemblers. SMC, whose food unit San Miguel Foods Inc. is among the country’s leading producers of fresh meats, poultry, processed meats, flour, dairy products, spreads, and coffee, said it will buy products at guaranteed prices, to ensure farmers will benefit. “We want to make sure that farmers will directly benefit. It’s not only people in Metro Manila who are in need of help but also, our kababayans in the provinces, including our farmers,” Ang said. “Our local farmers have long been a major part of San Miguel’s supply chain. We source many of the raw materials for a lot of our products from them. They are even more important and critical now, especially given the tight competition for products in the global market,” Ang added. With the initiative, Ang said the company wanted to encourage more farmers to plant, and assure them that they have a ready market for their products. “Right now, we have more than enough inventory for our present needs, up to over six months. But we will still buy their produce, so we can further ensure supply. This will also allow us to start preparing for the succeeding months,” Ang said. He added, however, that all players would need to strictly enforce safety practices to protect the supply chain workforce, as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the enhanced community quarantine for Luzon last month, San Miguel has been ramping up food production to ensure sufficient supply in store shelves. It has also been donating food products for vulnerable and hardest-hit communities. Of the nearly P1B the company has donated for various COVID-19 efforts, it has distributed P227 million worth of its own food products to vulnerable communities in Metro Manila and several provinces in Visayas and Mindanao. “At this point, lives are more important than profits. Once all of this is done, we can always go back to business and start anew. Once a life is lost, you can never bring it back. It’s gone forever. We choose life over anything else,” Ang said about the company’s numerous efforts to help government and Filipinos.

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BAYANIHAN the SM APPLIANCE CENTER WAY

April 20, 2020

The Bayanihan Spirit was alive and well when SM Appliance Center and its brand partners recently brought positivity, hope and inspiration to the frontliners and patients of the hospitals in the Philippines with donations of electric fans, mosquito zappers, and washing machines.  With summer days ahead electric fans from  Imarflex, Asahi and 3D will bring cool comfort to frontliners and patients. These were donated to the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital’s (Tala Hospital), Philippine General Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Mary Chiles Hospital.  SM Appliance Center also provided environmentally friendly mosquito zappers from Daimaru to keep hospitals safe and free from harmful insects and flies. Insect killers from Imarflex and 3D brands were also given for further protection and assistance.  In order to help hospitals with their heavy wash load, SM Appliance Center partnered with Whirlpool to donate inverter front load washing machines.  The  MegaTransport Logistics Corporation delivered  these to the  Rizal Medical Center, Las Piñas General Hospital, Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, San Juan De Dios Hospital, Ospital ng Maynila, San Lazaro Hospital, Mary Chiles Hospital and Jose Reyes Medical Center.   Tysons Global Exchange Inc. also joined in SM Appliance Center's initiatives with donations of Speed Queen heavy duty washers for the Lung Center of the Philippines and Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center.  For more updates on SM Appliance Center and its CSR initiatives, you may want to visit our SM Appliance Center website at HYPERLINK "http://www.smappliance.com" www.smappliance.com or like us at facebook.com/smappliance  Please see below the photo captions:  1.  Cool comfort. SM Appliance Center donated Asahi stand fans to the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital’s (Tala Hospital).  2. SM Appliance Center’s donation of Imarflex insect killers to the Philippine Children’s Medical Center will help keep their rooms free from harmful insects.   3. These 3D Insect Killers received by the National Kidney and Transplant Institute from SM Appliance Center will help to alleviate their situation within their COVID-19 complex tents. It uses ultra-violet light tubes to effectively kill flying insects anytime and anywhere..    4. The bayanihan spirit was alive and well when SM Appliance Center and Whirlpool donated washing machines to the Rizal Medical Center. These were delivered by MegaTransport Logistics Corporation.

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Post COVID-19 Scenario: PCCI submits proposals for resumption of Economic Activities in Mindanao

April 20, 2020

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has endorsed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases a resolution from its regional chambers in Mindanao detailing suggestions for the resumption of economic activities in the island.  Previously, PCCI Mindanao submitted recommendation to mitigate the spread of COVID 19, as well as mechanisms to cushion the impact on MSME’s of business disruptions in the two (2) Resolutions endorsed by the PCCI National Board.  Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao, noted how the Mindanao chambers have been in the thick of the fight against the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started.  “Our LCCIs (Local Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in Mindanao have contributed to the distribution of food packs and supported the production of PPEs for health care workers and frontliners, and local Universities in the production of rubbing alcohol and sodium hydrochlorite (disinfectant) for key hospitals and offices,” Alegrio said.  “On top of this, our LCCIs initiated Rolling “Kadiwa” Stores in key cities and provinces which have enabled barangay residents to have access to basic commodities without needlessly exposing themselves in crowded super and public markets, thus helping LGUs enforce Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)” she added.  Not the least, Alegrio noted how the Regional Chambers and LCCIs established a Trade Information Exchanges and logistic network for communities under ECQ to provide basic commodities such as rice, vegetables, wet meat products, canned goods and alcohol to LGUs outside the main urban centers.  Resolution # 2020-003 noted how the LCCIs in Mindanao have been actively participating in the local Disaster Risk Management and Mitigation Councils and have advised their members across all sectors to prepare a rapid impact assessment on the displacement of workers as well as business disruption losses arising from the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).  Furthermore, the LCCIs have also been advised to prepare their respective Contingency and Recovery Plans on the following scenarios:  1) Extension of Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ); 2) Selective Lifting of the ECQ; or 3) Lifting of Travel Restrictions;  Among the measures endorsed for adoption under the resolution are expanding the membership of the  IATF-EID to include private sector groups in the planning and formulation of specific guidelines on how  the ECQ should be properly lifted in a manner that will not compromise the life and livelihood of the people; For the IATF-EID to strictly enjoin the LGUs to enforce the quarantine measures to be consistent with the national directives, specifically on the exemption of vital and essential services like food, utilities and health in the areas where the ECQ cannot yet be lifted; For  the DOH, DA, &DTI  to ensure the protection of the food supply chain in Mindanao - from production, manufacturing and logistics by giving workers in this sector first priority in mass screening, contact tracing, provision of quarantine facilities and eventually provision of vaccines; For the DOF to prioritize funding allocation and procurement of services for all pending DPWH-DTI ROLL-IT projects to efficiently transport raw materials from agricultural areas to the main processing or manufacturing centers;  For DICT to make available to local/Private Telecommunications Companies, Cable TV, Internet and Value Added Service Providers their existing tower facilities and infrastructure including unused internet bandwidth, to fast track deployment of broadband internet services to the underserved areas of the country, thereby fulfilling its mandate of bringing information and communications technology to all Filipinos;  For DICT to enjoin NEA to roll back its recent rate increase in Pole Rental Fees collected through rural electric cooperatives, thereby reducing the costs for Telcos, Cable TV and Internet Service providers in the deployment of essential information and telecommunications services in the country; For the Board of Investments and the LGUs to provide incentives to companies that will invest in health care-related projects including conversion of commercial spaces to quarantine facilities and construction of  sanitary  landfills, and for the importation of special equipment for the proper disposal of infectious and pathological wastes of hospitals and households;  For the DTI to engage LCCIs in the development, implementation and harmonization of economic stimulus programs in their respective localities and adjacent regions;  For Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to encourage commercial banks to allow restructuring and rescheduling of Current Loan Payments for both private and government banks, and to extend the due dates of Credit Card payments without penalties for a 3-month duration, irrespective whether the account is updated or not;  For the DOF to allocate funds from The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act for the purpose of absorbing the cost by the banks to lower the interest rate for new commercial loans to encourage new economic activities related to food production and manufacturing of health related equipment;  For the DTI to increase the Loan Availment Cap of the  Small Business Corporation’s Enterprise Rehabilitation Facility from P500,000 to P25,000,000; For the DTI to extend technical assistance and financial support to LCCIs in the preparation of Business Continuity Plans so that the same can be disseminated to MSMEs in their localities who may wish to apply for commercial loans through the Small Business Corporation;  For the DTI, DOST and DOLE to immediately implement Retooling and Re-Training Programs for MSME companies and workers of sectors belonging to non-essential goods and services;  For the DILG, DTI and DA to encourage LGUs in rural areas to give preference to the agricultural products of local farmers, fisher folks, and livestock producers over the usual processed food (canned goods and noodles) in the food assistance packs distributed to their constituents;  For the DOST to extend  funding and technical support for Research and Development to City and State Colleges, Universities and Technical schools related to health care efforts that may directly impact the area’s COVID-19 response;  For the DOLE and POEA to subsidize the hotels and restaurants that may utilized as quarantine facilities for incoming OFWs once the travel restriction is lifted;  For the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its aligned agencies like TPB (Tourism Promotions Board) and TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure Estate Zone Authority) to create a Technical Working Group composed of tourism stakeholders/organizations to study and develop a Business Recovery Plan focusing on the domestic tourism market. “Additional inputs may be considered in the next resolution once the IATF has released guidelines on the extension or selective lifting of ECQ,” Alegrio noted. The resolution was signed in behalf of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry affiliate Chambers in Mindanao on 15April 2020 by Ma. Teresa R. Alegrio, PCCI Area Vice President for Mindanao; and the following PCCI Regional Governors with their respective areas: Arturo Milan (South Eastern Mindanao); Pete Marquez (Central Mindanao); Cioney Paqueo (Eastern Mindanao); Roderico Bioco (Northern Mindanao); Paul Gudmalin (Western Mindanao); Loreta Sy (South Western Mindanao); Aldrin Ibbo (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Mindanao) and Elpidio M. Paras, President of Promote NorMin Foundation. There are about 45 PCCI local Chambers of Commerce (LCCIs) in Mindanao, around 90 percent of whose members belong to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) whose capitalization range from P3M-100M with large companies making up some 10 percent of chamber members. (RMB)  

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DA-10 lauds NorMin frontliners, shares food assistance

April 19, 2020

As member of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for COVID-19, the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) shares the plight of Northern Mindanao frontliners. The agency commends the bravery and heroism of the region’s health professionals, policemen and information providers in the battle against the pandemic. In gratitude, DA-10 shares 2,500 pieces of cooked “Balut Penoy” eggs to health and non-health workers in the region from the Department of Health-10 (DOH-10), Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), Philippine National Police-10 (PNP-10) and the Philippine Information Agency-10 (PIA-10) on Friday, April 17, 2020. The initiative is made possible through the headship and effort of DA-10 OIC-Regional Executive Director Carlene C. Collado. Initially intended for distribution to DA-10’s frontline personnel, its management resolved it is best to share the eggs and whatever COVID-related assistance received by the agency to the region’s COVID-19 frontliners – the country’s modern-day heroes. “This is an appreciable help for our frontliners and we, in DA, we will always share what we have to other frontliners in the region,” Carlota S. Madriaga, regional technical director for operations of DA-10 openhandedly vowed. The director acknowledges the frontliners’ roles in manning the DOH CHD-NM Operation Center, guarding of the quarantine checkpoints and propagation of relevant information to serve and safeguard the public from the deadly virus. “We thank DA for sharing this blessing with us. Eggs are nutritious so this is good for our workforce who work tirelessly in manning the DOH CHD-NM Operation Center. Hopefully this effort of DA will not stop here,” said DOH-10 Planning Officer III, Letecia Dolores II Culanag-Abao. Culanag-Abao urged other government agencies and private companies to emulate DA’s initiative noting DOH’s continuing medical services, contact tracing and psychosocial services amid the crisis. For his part, PLTCOL Aaron M. Mandia, PNP-10 Chief of Regional Logistics, Research and Development Division expressed his gratitude to DA-10 on behalf of the organization. Mandia appreciates DA’s concern for the uniformed men of PNP who incessantly guards the region’s quarantine checkpoints. “We all know our policemen are on duty 24/7. What DA shares to us is a big help for our frontliners,” Mandia said, disclosing the eggs will be distributed to the different checkpoints posted by PNP-10 personnel. The 2,500 eggs shared to the frontliners are part of the 10,000 pieces incubated eggs donated by San Miguel Corporation. A stash of 5,000 eggs were dispatched to Bukidnon for distribution to frontline workers in the province. While the remaining 2,500 pieces are shared among DA-10 frontline personnel. In the meantime, DA-10 assures the farmers and fisherfolk in the region that the agency’s services will continue on top of DA’s COVID-19 mitigating action-response. “DA will always be here to assist our farmers and fisherfolk and walk-in clients while we are going through this crisis. Right now, we are intensifying the processing and issuance of foodlane passes by accepting online and personal applications. Also, we have started the distribution of vegetable seeds to the public. The seeds are distributed here in the regional office and in the different provincial offices of DA-10,” Dir. Madriaga shared. Mass distribution of various vegetable seeds is in line with DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program to ensure food availability in every Filipino household in anticipation of extended community quarantine implementation. Moreover, DA-10 champions the agency’s success in its implementation of the Kadiwa on Wheels in coordination with the City Government of Cagayan de Oro. According to Dir. Madriaga, the project has been acclaimed and found very beneficial to the farmers while being widely accepted by the Kagay-anons. “There were clamors from the consuming public asking for the institutionalization of the Kadiwa on Wheels as a regular project of DA-10. Knowing so, we will explore that possibility,” Dir. Madriaga concluded, emphasizing the agency’s continuing services and assistance to its stakeholders will quarantine orders hang on. # (ATalib)

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DOST extends moratorium of refund payments for SET UP Beneficiaries

April 19, 2020

ADVISORY FOR ALL DOST SETUP BENEFICIARIES From the Office of DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Dr. Brenda Nazareth L. Manzano The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is extending the moratorium of refund payment for the beneficiaries of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) given the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The extension will be for additional three (3) months from May-July 2020. This extension is our way of helping our micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for the losses they have incurred, and continue to incur, during this pandemic health crisis. SETUP is a flagship program and nationwide strategy of the DOST that aims to assist MSMEs through adoption of technology innovations to improve their operations and boost their productivity and competitiveness. #WeHealAsOne #dostPH #ScienceForThePeople  

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