Baguio gov’t to DOLE, CSC: Give leave credits to vaccinated workers

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2021

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY officials recently requested the Dept. of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) to grant excused leave of absences to employees in the private sector who experience and manifest adverse effects after receiving Covid-19 vaccination.
    Under Resolution No. 142, series of 2021, signed by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, city legislators stated such absences should not be deducted from their leave credits.
    Earlier, the health department and the city government started roll out of vaccination to health workers and individuals with co-morbidities amidst limited supply of the vaccines provided not only to the city but also to the whole Cordillera.
    The council noted side effects of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines vary from person to person.
    For some people, the Council said adverse reaction of any of the vaccines would require them to take a rest and take a leave of absence for those employed in government and private sectors.
    According to the health department, it is normal for a vaccinated individual to reportedly experience side effects which may include fever, fatigue, headaches, body itches, chills, and nausea.
    Other individuals might also experience pain, swelling on the injected part, redness, an itchy rash, and mild forms of irritation around the injected side.
     Health experts claimed side effects experienced by vaccinated individuals indicate that the immunity of the said persons are being developed by the vaccine.
    The council said the labor department and the employers should be considerate to employees that are forced to go on leave due to post-vaccine effects to allow them to cope with the side effects by excusing them from such leave of absences to regain their productivity and serve their employers more healthy after recovering from the such adverse effects after immunization.
    The council urged employers to consider the excused leave of absences of their workers who were vaccinated and experienced adverse side effects after immunization as an added benefit to them.
    Health workers initially vaccinated are government frontliners who had been delivering health care services to Covid-19 patients since the start of the pandemic early last year.
    Copies of the resolution will be transmitted to the DOE and the CSC for their information and action. 


Folayang faces Aoki in April 28 MMA trilogy

FORMER ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang and Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki will be facing each other in a trilogy on “ONE on TNT IV” on April 28, 2021 after their respective opponents pulled out.
    Folayang was supposed to take on former UFC fighter Yoshihiro Akiyama, but the Japanese veteran was forced to back out due to an injury.
    “This will be a monumental test for me. It’s a sudden change of our preparation, but I’m a professional athlete, so I have to be prepared for anything, at any given time. I have to be ready to calibrate for what will be served for that perfect aim,” said    Folayang in a statement. “I am not a pessimistic person, and I’m a warrior. Naturally, I’m not expecting to lose, but to get the big victory this time.”
    The 36-year-old Folayang dropped his last two fights. He lost to Pieter Buist via a close split decision on Jan. 31, 2020 and to Tony Caruso by unanimous decision on Oct. 30.
    Aoki, also a former ONE lightweight champion, was scheduled to face Sage Northcutt, but the American striker backed out of the fight because of Covid-19 health and safety protocols.
    “This is the last event of the ‘ONE on TNT’ series, so it’s meant to be, and it’s going to be a great one for fans. A lot of people have been waiting for this trilogy with Folayang,” said the 37-year-old Aoki. “Looking back at the past two fights against him, I am very motivated to perform well. This fight is a great one for ONE Championship. I think this fight has a lot of meaning. It’s fate that we meet again. As always, I will fight anyone, because I am a proud wrestler and fighter.”
    Folayang and Aoki first met in 2016 in a ONE Championship lightweight title fight. Folayang scored a huge upset after stopping Aoki, who was making his ONE Championship debut, in three rounds.
    Three years later, Folayang and Aoki got their rematch. Aoki, this time, didn’t let Folayang gain any momentum and submitted him with an arm triangle choke in the opening round to win the ONE lightweight belt.
    Folayang is 22-10, while Aoki is 46-9. 


56 Ilocos ex- NPAs get biz starter kits

By Joyah Mae C. Quimoyog

SUYO, Ilocos Sur --  A total of 56 former communist  supporters members of New People’s Army underground mass organization here and Sta. Cruz town received livelihood starter kits from the provincial Dept. of Trade and Industry.
    In partnership with the 81st Infantry Battalion, 702nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, the DTI turned over the kits to 23 former UGMO members here at Sitio Kimpatubbog, Barangay Poblacion April 8 and to 33 former UGMO members at Sitio Linggawa, Barangay Pidpid, Sta. Cruz on April 9.
    Of the beneficiaries in Suyo, 11 received two piglets each, nine received two goats each, two received a sari-sari store package, and one received a Bigasan package.
    In Sta. Cruz, 28 beneficiaries received two goats each, four beneficiaries received two piglets each, and three beneficiaries received a sari-sari store package.
    Later, Dr. Jhon Rey Camino, a veterinarian, conducted lectures on livestock raising like handling and raising goats and hogs and profitability of raising livestock.
    Funded under the DTI’s livelihood support program-negosyo serbisyo sa barangay (LSP - NSB), the starter kits intend to create jobs for one of the priority sector of the government to improve their economic status and dissuade them from supporting advocacies of leftists.
    As a member-agency of the Poverty Reduction Livelihood Employment Cluster (PRLEC) under the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC), the DTI along with other member-agencies of the PRLEC, through the Philippine Army, are reaching out to former supporters and sympathizers of the CTG and alleviate their plight especially  these trying times.
    The Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative (ISECO) in Sta Cruz, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) –Tagudin Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) also provided services to residents in 2-two-day activity.
    The CDA conducted pre-reorientation for the free registration seminar to the 23 members in Sitio Kimpatubbog, who have been trained and organized to establish their own livelihood group or association.
    Meanwhile, the ISECO also inspected repair and improvement of the processing center in Sitio Kimpatubbog including  construction of the processing center in Sitio Lingawa.
    This, while the DENR-Tagudin CENRO conducted a survey for use of the Timberland area for construction of food processing center in Sitio Lingawa.
    In her message, DTI Ilocos Sur Provincial Director Grace Lapastora urged beneficiaries manage well the starter kits for their future.
    Lt. Col. Rodrigo MariƱas Jr., Commanding Officer of 81IB, assured the support of the Philippine Army to all the programs and services of the government agencies in achieving lasting peace in the country. – PIA Ilocos Sur


Cordillera Covid count: 25,048 cases, 379 deaths

>> Sunday, April 18, 2021

51 fatalities, 758 cases in Mt Prov 

By Gina Dizon

THE CORDILLERA now has a total of 25,048 Covid-19 cases, 3,870 of them active, 20973 recoveries and 379 deaths as of April 14, Dept. of Health records bared.
    Mountain Province as of April 13, had 51 Covid-affected deaths and 758 active Covid cases.
    The tourist town of Sagada had the highest active cases at 180 with eight deaths, followed by the vegetable town of Bauko with 174 active cases and seven Covid-19 affected deaths.
    The capital town of Bontoc previously highest among towns with active Covid cases came in third with 90 cases, 1399 recoveries and 22 deaths.
    Far Sadanga which did not impose community lockdowns or require travel documents registered five deaths, 67 active cases and 90 recoveries.       
    Sabangan with most of its barangays located along the Bontoc- Baguio road noted gradual increase of Covid cases with 83 cases to date with five Covid- affected deaths.
    Heavily populated Paracelis the gateway to nearby bustling city of Santiago, Isabela manages   to have only 16 Covid cases, 90 recoveries and two deaths.
    Barlig which previously registered low Covid cases suddenly surged following IATF Res 101 now as of presstime with 16 active cases, one death and 43 recoveries.
    But the eastern municipality of Natonin managed to have only two active cases recently.
    The rest of Mountain Province towns had drastic increase Coviud-19 cases cases since the implementation of Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution 01 with eased travel restrictions.  
    Recent records from the Provincial Health Office revealed increase of 8 active cases in Natonin as of April 13 with no deaths and  22 total recoveries with the rest of the 10 towns of the province having registered increasing active cases.
    This, as travel in Natonin to Bontoc was reduced to only once to twice a week with six to 10 passengers only.     
Natonin Mayor  Jose Agagon attributed low number of Covid cases in this municipality to discipline and Covid awareness among the people including barangay coordination.
     “People are scared of the Covid virus and don’t travel except on very necessary purposes,” Agagon said.
    Though there are those who don’t follow health protocols, people observe basic rules in Covid prevention like using masks and social distancing including education sessions done by health personnel, police and local IATF in 11 barangays of Natonin.
    Recently, vaccination awareness campaigns were done in barangays with gradual acceptance of people in vaccination against the Covid virus.
    Travelers have to coordinate with barangay officers also before they arrive in Natonin. They have to undergo swab tests or get isolated.
    Natonin practices lockdown and has been swabbing primary and secondary contacts since midyear of 2020.  
    Natonin registered its first positive case in July last year from an asymptomatic kailyan-Overseas Filipino Worker from Saudi Arabia.
    Local rules require business traders allowed to go out from the municipality and back to  Natonin on same day without stopover in  nearby Paracelis. Rapid diagnostic tests are applied on traders before exit and only allowed exit and entry when negative.
    Agagon said Natonin is sandwiched by low Covid towns Paracelis with 16 active cases and  Barlig with16 active cases as of April 13.
    The rest of the nine towns of Mountain Province have daily travels to the capital town of Bontoc following  IATF  resolution No. 101.
    From the recent national IATF resolution 101, travel has eased with no quarantines or mandatory tests resulting to the spiking of Covid cases in Mountain Province.
    Uniform IATF-DOH protocols  require wearing of masks, social distancing, ,avoidance of crowds, frequent washing of hands , and boosting of  immune system; including  ‘stay at home’ protocols  for 15 years old and below and 60 years old and above, those with co morbidities and immunodeficiencies  and pregnant women. 


New Cordi PNP chief seeks collaboration with religious, gov’t leaders

 After exit of controversial reg’l cop head 

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad Benguet – Following the controversial administration of former Cordillera police chief Brig. Gen. R’win S. Pagkalinawan, the new regional police chief is doing a charm campaign to win people’s trust in government. 
    Pagkalinawan’s administration had been assailed by lawyers, religious and cause-oriented groups for his policies like his aborted “’tokhang” against so-called leftists, media, religious and cause-oriented groups.
    He also issued a shoot-to-kill” order against Windel Bolinget, chairman of the Cordillera People’s Alliance.
    Groups said police had been red-tagging them as being aligned with the Communist Party of the Philippines which they explained, was a violation of the Philippine Constitution, human rights and right to due process.        
    New Cordillera police director Brig. Gen. Oliver Lee is apparently not following the footsteps of his predecessor, observers said. 
    To strengthen collaboration and establish good working relationship, Lee made his first courtesy visit to religious and government leaders in Baguio City on April 13, a few days after he assumed office.
    Lee paid a courtesy call to the Bishop of the Diocese of Baguio, Most Reverend Victor B. Bendico and Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) – Baguio.
    Both Bishops acknowledged the assistance being provided by Police Regional Office-Cordillera noting attendance of police during masses.
    In response, Lee said the PROCor is always open for police assistance, and attendance to religious activities as this is in line with the PNP's program on internal cleansing which aims to instill moral and spiritual values to police officers.
    Lee also paid a courtesy call on local government leaders who were in Baguio City last week.
    He met Ifugao Rep. Solomon R. Chungalao at Mines View, Baguio City.
    He also met Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas and Benguet Caretaker congressman Eric Go Yap.
    Lee said he seeks to establish good working relations with local government leaders as he sought their support for programs of PROCor in maintenance of peace and order in the region.
    He pledged to strengthen collaboration and foster closer communication between PROCor and religious and government leaders for better services.
    In assuming office Monday last week in Camp Dangwa, regional police headquarters, Lee told commanders of police units in the region to stick to operational guidelines.
    He said commanders can come up with innovations to continue the campaign on illegal drugs, going after criminal groups and personalities, as well as the arrest of wanted persons but should be done based on their rules and procedures.
    He urged them to intensify campaign against illegal drugs which is among the law enforcement problems in the region, particularly illegal cultivation of marijuana plants.
    Lee, a native of La Union and speaks the Ilocano dialect, also urged them to partner with stakeholders
    “We shall establish smooth working relations with stakeholders in the Cordillera. Let us strengthen our collaboration and partnership with them and empower them to open their communication lines with us. We can make this happen if we can show them that we are a disciplined and professional police force. Let us help build a region conducive for growth and development, a place ideal to do work and business,” Lee said.
    The reminder is also in keeping with the directive of PNP chief General Debold Sinas to join hands with everyone for the achievement of a common goal in weeding out scalawags in the service.
    “Team PROCor, let us continue to impose discipline among our staff, putting emphasis on those who are new in the service and weed out the scalawags, incompetent and incorrigible and reward the good performers and those who do good deeds,” the police general said.
    Lee also expressed support to the peace efforts of the government under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
    He said PROCor has gone a long way as an organization with his predecessors building on a standard that has earned the tag of the National Police Commission as the unit that is the most disciplined policemen in the country.
    Lt. Gen. Israel Ephraim Dickson, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) in northern Luzon, meanwhile, said “it is a challenge to be assigned as head of the most disciplined cops and the people who expect much from the police but will test the capacity of a leader of the PROCor”.
    Dickson also served as regional director of the PROCor until February 2020. He was preceded by Brig. Gen. R’win     Pagkalinawan who was replaced by Lee. – With reports from Liza Agoo/PNA 


Ifugao policeman shoots self dead

HINGYON, Ifugao – A policeman accidentally shot himself to death here afternoon of April 9.

The cop was identified as Patrolman Jonathan Ballogan, 31, single and a resident here of Sitio Lugo, O-ong.

He was a member of the Cordillera Regional Mobile Force Battalion 15. 

Ballogan was reportedly cleaning his firearm in a hut inside their residential compound before the incident.

He requested his grandmother to bring him food while cleaning his gun.

As the food was being prepared, Ballogan's kin heard a gunshot coming from the hut where the cop was. 

They rushed to the hut and saw the victim covered in his own blood.

Ballogan was even rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival.


Benguet mayor gets Covid-19

By Liza Agoot 

MANKAYAN, Benguet Mayor Frenzel Ayong announced he tested positive for Covid-19.
    “Despite being careful, I was still infected with Covid-19 when the swab result was released by Parkway Laboratory on April 11,” the mayor said in a statement April 11.
    Ayong's announcement came a few days after Buguias Mayor Ruben Tindaan tested positive for Covid-19. Tindaan is currently in isolation and is recovering from the disease.
    In March, Kabayan Mayor Faustino Aquisan died of Covid-19.
    Ayong said he was admitted at the Lepanto Hospital, which is managed by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation in     Mankayan on April 10 where he had his X-ray examination.
    “Unfortunately, X-ray results showed I have pneumonia,” he said.
    Ayong was referred to the Benguet General Hospital in capital town La Trinidad, some three hours away from Mankayan where he was first admitted. He is currently in stable condition.
    He asked the public for prayers for his fast recovery from Covid-19.
    He also called on the public to strictly adhere to the minimum public health standards to protect themselves against Covid-19. -- PNA


Vizcaya town LGU, DepEd execs nabbed for gambling

By Leander Domingo

BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya -- A joint operation by the Cagayan provincial and Solana municipal police has led to the arrest of local government unit employees and teachers for illegal gambling in Solana.
    Col. Ariel Quilang, Cagayan Provincial Police Office chief, said some of those caught gambling in Solana hold high positions in the LGU and teachers under the supervision of the Dept. of Education.
    Quilang said among the nine suspects were a municipal administrator, a barangay councilman, some teachers and senior citizens.
    He said police operatives raided the gambling den in Barangay Andarayan South in Solana after the Cagayan provincial intelligence unit gave them the go-signal.
    “The joint police operative responded to a report coming from the Cagayan provincial intelligence unit and found nine suspects in the house in one of the suspects who is a teacher by profession,” Quilang said.
    He said the raid was based on the complaints of some residents in the area that gambling was regularly taking place which could endanger the health and safety of the community from Covid-19.


Tribe reinstalls anti-Chico dam heroes monument

By Peter A. Balocnit

TINGLAYAN, Kalinga -- Bugnay folks here reinstalled the monument of the anti-Chico Dam local heroes in its original place along the national highway across Bugnay village while awaiting funds for development of its proposed relocation site.  
The dismantled monument of Macli-ing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan was restored during the Day of Valor accorded to them by the Butbut tribe on April 9, to honor and commemorate their martyrdom.
The three local leaders sacrificed their lives while battling to prevent construction of the proposed Chico River dam during the Marcos regime.
The monument erected in 2017, stands on the highway overlooking Bugnay.
It was dismantled in January this year since it encroached on the road right-of-way.  
"Habang awan pay ti pondo ti pannakaiyakar ti monument ket rebbeng na lang nga isubli mi tapnu haan nga aglati ti steel panel ti monument. Nu addan tu ti pondo na ti pannakaiyalis na ket santu maiyakar,"(While there is no fund yet for the relocation of the monument, it is but proper that we reinstall it so that its steel panel will not rust. It there would be funds already, then it would be relocated) Bugnay Barangay Chairman Rober Dumpao said.
Upper Kalinga District Engineering Office Assistant District Engineer Teodoro Owek said they have prepared a plan with the perspective of the monument to be built on a hill above Bugnay village and across the Chico River.
“We will present the plan, maybe with the Provincial Advisory Council or the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the sourcing of funds,” he said, adding that DPWH is willing to help in its implementation. – PIA Kalinga 


Singson sets Ilocos Sur travel rules

By April M. Bravo

VIGAN CITY – Gov. Ryan Luis Singson issued executive order 29 on April 11 allowing utility vans (UVs) and public utility jeepneys (PUJs) to travel under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ)/ECQ in this province and transport health workers, frontliners, and workers of establishments permitted to operate.
    “There is a need to help Ilocos Sur folks especially our health workers and frontliners in travelling to work but without necessarily compromising restrictions set for LGUs under the MECQ/ECQ.”
    Only vehicles with franchise and special permits issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are allowed to travel.
     A number coding scheme was also be implemented to regulate the number of vehicles  travelling within the province. 
    Vehicles ending in numbers 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 are allowed to operate on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
    Those ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 can operate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while there is no coding on Sunday.
    To facilitate loading and unloading of passengers coming from MGCQ to MECQ/ECQ areas and vice-versa, all UVs/PUJs shall limit drop off and pick up points within the national highway.
    An LGU where a terminal is situated, however, may allow UV/PUJ to enter their jurisdiction provided they shall not be allowed to drop off/pick up within the area other than the designated terminal of the LGU.
    For this purpose, the LGU shall provide the necessary terminal protocols to be observed taking into consideration the protocols provided in this EO.
    Operators, prior to dispatch from their garage must regularly examine the drivers’ fitness to work by checking their body temperature and screening/detecting any symptoms of Covid-19. Should a driver show symptoms of Covid-19, he shall be prohibited  to report to work and shall be subjected to quarantine immediately.
     Aside from routine pre-dispatch inspection and ensuring the roadworthiness of their units, all units shall be sprayed with disinfecting agent regularly.
    Drivers shall wear face masks and face shields at all times.
    All commuters are required to wear face masks and face shields in order to be allowed to board UVs/PUJs. “No face mask, no face shield, no rider” policy shall be strictly enforced.
    All units shall be disinfected. All high contact surfaces, especially seats, armrests, and handles must be wiped down with disinfecting agent at least twice during the trip, or after every trip, stop-over or change of vehicle personnel.
    UVs/PUJs shall operate at a reduced capacity. They shall be allowed only to transport a maximum of eight passengers including the driver.
    All drivers shall have a passenger list with the corresponding complete names, contact numbers, address, date and time of travel of each passenger.
    Passengers must be one seat apart inside UVs/PUJs.
    No talking and no eating inside UVs/PUJs.
    People are prohibited to make phone calls while inside the vehicle.
    No symptomatic passengers shall be allowed to travel.
     This order remains in force until the declaration of MECQ/ECQ in LGUs is lifted. -- PIA Ilocos Sur


NV DENR taps town peers wildlife guards

By Benjamin Moses M. Ebreo

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya -- The Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources has employed the assistance of their municipal counterparts to strengthen wildlife protection.
    Edgar Martin, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer said they recently trained and oriented at least 14 Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officers (MENROs) on wildlife conservation and enforcement of environmental laws.
    "The two-day training was conducted in preparation for the deputation of the participants as Wildlife Enforcement Officers (WEO) to serve as partners of our agency in the enforcement of environmental laws," he said.
    Martin said MENROs would support the DENR in enforcing various forestry laws particularly in wildlife conservation and monitoring.
    He said laws on wildlife conservation can best be implemented through strong partnership between the DENR and the municipal local government Unit through the MENROs.
    Martin said the MENROs’ vital role was stipulated in Republic Act 9147, known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
    RA 9147 is an act providing for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes.
    The training and orientation of the MENROs was initiated by the DENR in the province. -- PIA 2 Nueva Vizcaya


2 towns in La Union placed under MECQ

By Hilda Austria

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Gov. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega III has placed municipalities Bangar and Bauang under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from April 12 to 26 to prevent spread of Covid-19 in the province.
    In executive order 12 posted last week, Ortega said Bangar and Bauang towns are at critical epidemic risk levels with 70 percent and 62 percent of their barangays having active cases, respectively.
    “The local chief executives and the local Philippine National Police are hereby directed to ensure compliance with the operational guidelines on the application of the zoning containment strategy in the localization of the National Action Plan against Covid-19 Response and other applicable guidelines during the implementation of MECQ,” he said.
    He added imposition of MECQ shall include enforcement of stringent limitation on movement and transportation of people, establishment of checkpoints, observance of the minimum health protocols, closing of non-essential establishments, strict regulation of operating industries, and imposition of curfews and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce protocols.
    Eight out of 19 towns and one city in the province of La Union are now under MECQ. 
    San Fernando City, Agoo, Aringay, Naguilian, Luna, and Tubao towns were placed under MECQ last week.
La Union was classified under modified general community quarantine by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases.
    However, it recorded a 19.25-percent daily increase rate last week.
    As of 11 p.m. on April 11, additional 43 new active cases were recorded in the province. -- PNA


4 UK variant cases recorded in Kalinga

 Tabuk tourist sites closed; events stopped 

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- Health authorities recorded four new cases of the United Kingdom (UK) variant of Covid in Kalinga.
The cases were detected in the towns of Pasil and Rizal including Tabuk City last week.
    These involved three men and a woman, whose samples were  taken and tested last month.
    Kalinga health officer Ed Tandingan directed city and municipal health offices that have jurisdictions over the cases to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
    The local health offices were ordered to determine if patients remain on quarantine, and isolate them again if they have been released.
    The latest cases brought the number of the UK variant infections in the province to six since the virus was first detected in the country in January.
    Following this, the city government ordered immediate closure of tourist sites and suspension of tourism-related activities in Tabuk amid surge in Covid-19 cases in Kalinga the past several weeks.
    Tabuk Mayor Darwin EstraƱero told tourism operators, resort, camping and picnic ground owners to cooperate with the recent issuance of the city inter-agency task force to support the ongoing initiatives of the local government in containing the surge.
    He also urged the local tourism industry stakeholders and the residents to continue abiding by the basic health and safety protocols under general community quarantine.


Ilocos Sur protocol violators warned

By Mar T. Supnad

VIGAN, Ilocos Sur – Gov. Ryan Singson has warned violators of Covid-19 protocols here as Covid-19 cases continued to spike the past two weeks.
    Citing paragraph ‘D’ of Republic Act 11332, known as mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern act, the governor warned violators may face criminal charges.
    The warning was aired by the governor in his regular radio program “Ranniag ti Ilocos Sur.”
    Singson said Ilocos Sur is in bad need of additional health workers such as nurses and midwives to attend to the increasing number of Covid patients in the province.
    Singson said active cases last week reached 383, bringing to 861 total number of infections since the outbreak of the pandemic.
    The sudden hiring of health workers came in the wake of reports that some nurses are tired and overworked.
    “We will immediately fast-track the process of their applications to give the over-worked health workers a sigh of relief,” Singson said in the radio program anchored by anchorman Lito Javier.
    In his bid to contain the increasing number of infections, the governor issued executive order 28, placing Vigan and Candon cities, towns of Sinait, Cabugao, Bantay, Narvacan, Santa, Sta. Maria, San Esteban,Sta. Lucia, Suyo, Tagudin and Cervantes under MECQ starting 7 to 21 April.
    There are, however, six Covid-free towns such as Quirino, Nagbukel, San Ildefonso, Sigay, Galimuyod and one other town.
    Worst hit by the pandemic, Singson said, was the town of Alilem, saying he and the mayor there are discussing the possibility of placing the town under enhance community quarantine to contain the increasing number of infections.
    The governor said a total of eight people have succumbed to the virus, four of them died the past two weeks.
Singson said quarantine facilities in the province have also been overwhelmed and they are now looking for other available venues such as hotels to be used as temporary quarantine facilities.
    “We did not expect that the number of infections to reach this high so we now have a shortage of facilities,” Singson said.
    He asked the public not to take for granted the threat of Covid, saying this is a real danger that we need to prevent. “There are those saying that the Covid is nothing, but what I can say is that this is real,” Singson said.
    The governor also issued a directive implementing a stricter rule in the boundaries to those coming in Ilocos Sur to prevent further infection. “They can enter Ilocos Sur provided they are complete with health papers such as RT-PCR and antigen test,” he added.


Baguio water shortage this summer; pumping stations pushed

By Jordan G. Habbiling and Aileen Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – This summer capital is expected to experience water shortage this summer due to the depletion of groundwater reservoirs, officials said. 
    Following this, city councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda urged concerned offices to create guidelines for establishment of water pumping stations to increase water supply in the city.
    In a resolution passed on April 5, Tabanda requested the Baguio Water District (BWD) to coordinate with the City Engineering Office, City Buildings and Architecture Office, the City Planning and Development Office, the Environment and Parks Management Office, and the Dept. of Works and Highways Cordillera for formulation of the said guidelines.
    Tabanda noted in the resolution the BWD is looking for sites that may serve as water sources in order to adequately meet the city’s water demand.
    The lady councilor observed that water pumping stations have been established in various areas in the city including parks.
    She cited need for assessment where they should be placed strategically. This is to ensure compliance with zoning policies and other regulations of the city in relation to other developments, she said.
    The city’s declining water supply has prompted the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) earlier this year to look into the problem of illegal deep wells which could be contributing to the water shortage.
    Last month, Mayor Benjamin Magalong and BWD General Manager Salvador Royeca agreed to take measures to address the water shortage in the city and urged the residents to observe water conservation practices.
    Baguio officials earlier requested the NWRB to require all water-related activity proponents in the city to secure water permit or clearance from the city government prior to NWRB’s issuance of a water permit, stating that “the NWRB and the city government share the responsibility to regulate water-related activities and allocate sufficient water for optimal beneficial use for the residents.”
    Under Resolution 133-2021 signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the city council stated there was need for the NWRB and the local government to address the shortage of water supply in the city.
    The council disclosed that the city does not have a large and steady source of water and that it relies solely on natural springs, deep wells, and rainwater catchment for its water supply.
    In 2019, the city council in a resolution reached out to the BWD expressing concern about the increasing drilling activities of private deep wells in the city and the over-pumping of wells contributing to the depletion of the city’s aquifer.
    In their letter addressed to the council, the BWD revealed that 10 deep wells had been downsized since 2018 to prevent over-extraction and to save on power costs.


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