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Nationwide round-up (04/05/21)

Ivermectin being sold online

CONGRESSMEN on Monday warned against the use of anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin against the coronavirus, asking the Trade department to monitor its sale on e-commerce sites.

“Please be on the lookout for abusive online sellers who are taking advantage of the current situation and even manipulating the price of Ivermectin,” Valenzuela Rep. Weslie T. Gatchalian said in a statement.

“This drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use and may be highly harmful to the health of our consumers.”

Some congressmen endorsed the use of Ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment last week. But the local FDA said the only ivermectin drug registered in the country is for use by animals. Use by humans could lead to possible side effects, it added.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino B. Biazon said the growth of Ivermectin online sellers was a cause for alarm, adding that the Trade department should “tighten the monitoring of e-commerce sites selling restricted medicines.”

“Online platforms are the usual marketplace for these types of businesses where sellers escape liability,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez

Court workers on vaccine list

THE GOVERNMENT has included justices, judges and employees of the Philippine Judiciary in the priority list for vaccination against the coronavirus, acting Chief Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe said on Monday.

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 approved the Supreme Court’s request to include them, she said in a letter to court employees.

Ms. Perlas-Bernabe earlier asked the government to prioritize court workers for vaccination because the Judiciary is an “essential institution.” “During this unsettling pandemic, upholding the rule of law assumes greater significance.”

She said court workers would get some of the vaccines arriving this month. About 3,000 workers would be prioritized. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

LRT-1 now running faster

LIGHT Rail Manila Corp. on Monday said it had started increasing the speed of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) to 60 kilometers per hour (kph) from 40 kph.

“This will result in a shorter trip time from Baclaran to Balintawak (and vice-versa) and increase the daily number of trips made by LRT-1 trains,” the rail operator said in a statement.

The 36-year-old railway system, which used to be operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority and Department of Transportation and Communications, is designed to run at a maximum speed of 60 kph. But it was reduced to 40 kph in 2011 because of deteriorating tracks.

LRMC started operating LRT-1 in 2015 and invested P11.6 billion for the rail’s rehabilitation, restoration and upgrade, the company said.

The Transportation department on Sunday said the country’s railway systems would cut operations as rail workers get tested against the coronavirus.

Transport Assistant Secretary Fidel Igmedio T. Cruz, Jr. said 94 LRT-1 workers had tested positive for the disease as of April 3. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Chief justice appointment confirmed

ALEXANDER G. Gesmundo took his oath as chief justice on Monday after the presidential palace confirmed his appointment, according to the Supreme Court spokesman.

He took his oath at the tribunal’s session hall, spokesman Brian Keith F. Hosaka told reporters.

The presidential palace on Monday confirmed his appointment as the new chief justice after the early retirement of Diosdado M. Peralta.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte had signed his appointment paper, his spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said.

“We trust that the new chief justice will uphold judicial independence and excellence, apply the rule of law and lead reforms to promote integrity and professionalism in the Judiciary,” he added.

Mr. Gesmundo is the 27th chief justice and will serve for five years before his optional retirement in November 2026 when he turns 70.

He served as a Supreme Court associate justice for three years and seven months and Sandiganbayan justice for two years.

He obtained his law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1984, passed the Bar in April 1985 and entered the government as a trial lawyer at the Office of the Solicitor General four months later. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

UnionBank to train teachers

UNION BANK of the Philippines and unit City Savings Bank will team up with international education entities to create a teacher training program that will benefit half-a-million school teachers, the lender said in a statement on Monday.

The lender said it had partnered with Philippine-based international college Thames International and Singaporean educational technology company Akadasia in designing a digital training program for about 500,000 elementary and high school teachers.

The training program will initially train 80,000 elementary and high school public school teachers. The program aims to help teachers effectively conduct classes online amid a coronavirus pandemic.

The program is UnionBank’s corporate social responsibility program, where employee volunteers will help create modules on blended learning strategies. — Gillian M. Cortez

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