The Bureau of Immigration said its officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other international ports were standing by for the resumption of flights to the Philippines later this week.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said Immigration Officers assigned at the airports would still continue to render full-time duties despite the suspension of inbound commercial passenger flights.
Morente said aside from conducting immigration inspection and boarding formalities for international passengers, BI officers were also mandated to process the pilots and crew of cargo, maintenance and utility flights that enter and leave the country.
Records showed that around 50 cargo planes flew in and out of NAIA in the past days.
“These pilots and crew are all subject to routine immigration processing and inspection, be they foreigners or Filipinos,” the BI chief added.
He also noted that sweeper flights, or outbound flights carrying foreigners back to their home countries, as well as medical flights were also exempted from the suspension, thus BI officers remained on standby to attend to these special flights.
“We have not further decreased our manpower as this is a temporary measure by the government to decongest quarantine facilities in Metro Manila,” said Morente.
“We understand that the ports are to be reopened once this goal has been achieved, and we are ready for that,” he added.
Morente said seaport operations likewise remained operational for arriving cruise and cargo vessels.
“These vessels carry many Filipino seafarers that wish to return home, hence we are also duty-bound to continue operations in our seaports,” he said.
Senator Win Gatchalian has urged the government and its contractors to ensure the safety and well-being of construction workers as the government eyes the resumption of the construction of big-ticket projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ flagship program of the Duterte administration.
On the other hand, Sen. Nancy Binay said the country needed Covid-19 trackers with the transition from the enhanced community quarantine to general community quarantine.
She said the government should be prepared for an intensified contact tracing she added was vital to curb community infections.
The Office of the Public Attorney’s Office says it has rendered 42,000 various kinds of legal assistance to citizens during the past 39 days of ECQ.
In a four-page report to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said that during the expanded ECQ from March 16 until April 23, they were able to provide 42,514 various kinds legal assistance to indigents.
Acosta said PAO assisted 9,214 persons during inquest most of who were charged for violation of ECQ protocols, including prohibition on mass gathering, curfew implementation and liquor ban, as well as common crimes such as resistance and simple under the Revised Penal Code, violation of Presidential Decree 1602 which penalizes illegal gambling; Republic Act 10591, which penalizes unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition); and Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Warning on NFA rice
National Food Authority administrator Judy Carol Dansal warned the public to practice caution and refrain from dealing with unauthorized people selling NFA rice in bulk allegedly for relief operations.
“As custodian of government rice buffer stocks intended for distribution during calamity or emergency situations, the NFA transacts only directly with local government units, government relief agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and some legislators buying rice for their own relief operations,” Dansal said.
One case was an online transaction on Facebook between an alias “Jennifer” and a certain DB Lorraine de Borja offering NFA rice at P1,550 per 50-kilogram sack with pick up points in Bulacan and Manila.
No hike in tuition fees
The University of Santo Tomas has announced that there would be no tuition increase next academic year and that unused fees for Academic Year 2019 to 2020 would be refunded.
The Varsitarian, the official publication of the university, reported that, according to a memorandum from the Office of the Secretary General, tuition and other fees for AY 2020 to 2021 would be reviewed in consideration of the “new normal” and the possibility of continued implementation of online learning in the first term of the next academic year.
The report said students with remaining installments due in the second term of the ongoing academic year would still be allowed to enrol for the next academic year.
Staggered payments for unsettled balances will be allowed until December 2020.
The Department of Education secretary will have the power to defer opening of classes and shorten the start of school year during emergencies and calamities once measures filed by Sen. Francis Tolentino are enacted into law.
In his Senate Bill 1457, Tolentino wants to amend Republic Act 7977 to give the DepEd Secretary the authority to defer the opening of classes and the start of school year to a date later than August if calamities and emergencies occurred before the start of the school year.
Tolentino also submitted Senate Bill 1458, empowering the DepEd Secretary to shorten the school year and mass promote the students during calamities and emergencies, such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.