Category Archives: Obiter / News

PUM and PUI No More: Shift of Classifications to Suspect Case, Probable Case, and Confirmed COVID-19 Case

The Department of Health (DOH) ordered the shift of classifying individuals from Patients Under Investigation (PUI) and Persons Under Monitoring (PUM), to Suspect, Probable and Confirmed COVID-19 Cases. Note that for rapid test kits, a person who tests positive is not yet considered a Confirmed Case, but still a Probable Case. [If we may add, we do not like the new labels, as it resembles the labels we use in criminal cases, an unfortunate coincidence which does not help in quelling the discrimination against COVID-19 patients.] The new classifications under DOH Administrative Order No. 2020 – 0013 dated 9 April 2020, are as follows:

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Mandatory Wearing of Face Masks or Other Protective Equipment in Public Areas

The wearing of face masks is now mandatory in public areas (see Face Masks: Mandatory to be Worn when Going Outside the House), per  Resolution No. 18 dated 1 April 2020 of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF). To reinforce the mandatory nature of wearing face masks, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also directed all Local Government Units (LGUs) to:

  • 1. Strictly implement the mandatory wearing of face masks by all residents in public areas, whenever they are allowed to go out of their homes, at all times. LGUs shall issue local ordinances, executive orders or advisories on the mandatory wearing of face masks, to include imposition of sanctions to non-compliant residents as may be appropriate. Due to the prevailing shortage of face mask supplies, wearing of improvised masks and other protective equipment, such as indigenous, reusable, homemade or do-it-yourself masks, face shields and handkerchiefs, that can reduce risks of local transmission of the virus shall be allowed. 
  • 2. Encourage their respective communities to ensure the supply of face masks or other protective equipment by preparing/devising their indigenous, reusable, homemade or do-it-yourself masks and face shields.
  • 3. Conduct regular monitoring and ensure compliance of the public to the mandatory wearing of face masks for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine.

Considering that there are confirmed positive cases in all regions nationwide, LGUs outside the ECQ areas are also encouraged to implement the above-stated measures to prevent further local transmission. 

[Per DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-071 dated 9 April 2020, addressed to all Provincial Governors, City and Municipal Mayors, Punong Barangays, members of the Sanggunian, DILG Regional Directors and officers, BARMM Minister of the Interior and Local Government, and all others concerned.]

Enhanced Operations of BPOs and Export Enterprises During the Extended ECQ Period

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a circular to ensure enhanced operations for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies and export enterprises, and their service providers, throughout the extended Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period (extended until 30 April 2020, pursuant to OES Memorandum dated 7 April 2020; further extended to May 15 for high-risk areas). The following entities are covered by DTI Memorandum Circular No. 20-14, series of 2020 (issued on 11 April 2020): 

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Health Care Workers: Temporary Suspension of Deployment Abroad

Declaring Filipino health care workers as mission critical skills (MCS), the the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) temporarily suspended their deployment abroad until the lifting of the national state of emergency and the COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Only recently, a public figure in the United Kingdom acknowledged the contribution of Filipino medical workers in their national health system, and some foreign recruitment agencies ramped up efforts to replenish the depleted number of medical workers in the fight against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). But Filipino health workers cannot yet leave the country (see also financial aid for displaced OFWs).

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P10,000 for Overseas Filipino Workers under DOLE-AKAP for OFWs

A one-time financial assistance of Two Hundred US Dollars (US$200) or Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000), or its equivalent in the local currency of the host country, for displaced Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) has been approved. On 8 April 2020, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Department Order No. 212, series of 2020, providing for guidelines on the provisional financial assistance for displaced landbased and seabased Filipino workers due to the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19). This social amelioration program is called “DOLE-AKAP for OFWs” (separate from the CAMP and TUPAD#BKK for Philippine-based workers). The coverage and application procedure for displaced OFWs, based on D.O. 212, are discussed below.

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Extension of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon until 30 April 2020 (Full Text of OES Memorandum)

[In a Memorandum dated 7 April 2020, the Executive Secretary, acting for the President, extended the effectivity of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until 30 April 2020 (effectively extended until 15 May 2020 in high-risk areas; see definitive guidelines under Executive Order No. 112). This covers only Luzon, but Local Government Units (LGUs) outside Luzon are free to modify their ECQ periods. This effectively extends the period for the grace period for loans and rents, duty-free importation, holiday pay, and anti-hoarding, among others. Here is the complete text of the OES Memorandum.]

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Guidelines for Duty-Free Importation of Medicines and Medical Supplies/Equipment to Combat COVID-19

The Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued Joint Administrative Circular No. 2020-02, providing for guidelines on the operations and incentives of covered enterprises engaged in the manufacture, importation, and distribution of certain products, and for other purposes, pursuant to Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act“. 

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Tax-Free Importation and Other Incentives for Medicine and Medical Supplies/Equipment to Combat COVID-19

A number of products critical to the fight against the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) are now EXEMPT from the payment of import duties, taxes and fees (see Guidelines). Per the Joint Administrative Circular No. 2020-02 of the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the following are entitled to such exemption: 

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Extended Grocery Hours, Social Distancing in Wet Markets, Free Flow of Essential Goods

The government has just announced the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period to 30 April 2020, which means that the existing guidelines will continue. On 1 April 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) issued Resolution No. 18 [“IATF Recommendations Relative to the Management of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation”].

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