1 killed, infra damaged by magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Masbate
A MAGNITUDE 6.6 earthquake shook Masbate, an island province in the central part of the Philippines, at around 8 a.m. on Aug. 18. It was the strongest tremor so far in the country this year, killing at least one person and damaging private and public infrastructure, including buildings, roads, bridges, and health facilities being used for the coronavirus response. Most of the damage were in the town of Cataingan, the earthquake’s epicenter, based on the monitoring report of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). The reported casualty was identified as Gilbert Sauro, a 63-year-old retired police officer. Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Bicol police, said Mr. Sauro was brought to a hospital but died from injuries sustained from falling debris during the earthquake. Several other people were also reported injured.
Various intensity levels were recorded in the southern parts of mainland Luzon, most of the central islands in the Visayas, and some areas in northern Mindanao. Phivolcs logged at least 30 aftershocks as of early afternoon. — with a report from Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR
ZARAH ALVAREZ, a 39-year-old paralegal of human rights group Karapatan, was gunned down on Monday evening in Bacolod City. An initial report from the Western Visayas police said Ms. Alvarez was walking along Sta. Maria street when the suspect shot her six times. She instantly died from multiple gunshot wounds on the body, police said. Karapatan, in a statement, said Ms. Alvarez was the 13th human rights worker killed under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. “That she was gunned down merely a week after Ka Randy Echanis was brutally tortured and murdered — and on the very day he was buried — strongly suggests that these senseless and cold-blooded killings are part of an orchestrated murderous rampage to silence dissent, with human rights defenders as targets and fair game,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said, referring to National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Randall Echanis, who was killed last week in Quezon City. Ms. Alvarez was detained for almost two years in October 2012 along with 42 activists over murder charges filed by the military. She was released on bail in July 2014, and acquitted in March 2020 for lack of evidence, according to Karapatan. Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters via Viber they may consider including Ms. Alvarez’ death for special investigation under the Administrative 35 task force, which probes extrajudicial killings. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR
Maynilad to provide free water supply to quarantine facility in Parañaque
MAYNILAD WATER Services, Inc. will provide free water supply to a coronavirus quarantine facility that will be set up at the Bagong Nayon Pilipino in Parañaque City. The free service will be until October, according to the company. The facility, which can house more than 500 mild and asymptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, is the fifth quarantine facility to receive free supply from the water provider. The others are at the World Trade Center, Philippine International Convention Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines Sunken Parking, and Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. “We are happy for the opportunity to help out in this way. Having a continuous water supply is essential for the daily operation of COVID-19 quarantine and testing centers,” Maynilad President and Chief Executive Officer Ramoncito S. Fernandez said. Maynilad said it also provided free water supply to the mega-swabbing centers of the Department of Health in Manila and SM MOA Arena in Pasay City. Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave
6-MW biogas project gets 10-year tax holiday from South Cotabato gov’t
SURALLAH POWER Generation, Inc. (SGPI) has been granted a 10-year real estate tax holiday by the South Cotabato provincial government for its six-megawatt biomass power plant. Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr., in a statement, said the renewable energy firm met all the requirements for the incentive provided under the province’s investment code. “The business activity would be vital to the economy when it comes to capacity to generate employment and poverty reduction as well as adding value to the raw materials produced in the province,” Mr. Tamayo said following an evaluation by the local investment board on Aug. 5. The tax holiday will be in effect from 2021-2030. With the incentive, SGPI is required to submit a corporate social responsibility program and source at least 80% of its human resource requirement from the province’s labor force. “The province is willing to give more incentives to qualified investors who are willing to locate their businesses in South Cotabato,” Mr. Tamayo said.
COVID-positive Revilla transferred to hospital for pneumonia
SENATOR RAMON B. Revilla, Jr., who tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) more than a week ago, was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday for pneumonia. “Father God please help my husband. He is being rushed to the hospital. His latest X-ray shows that he has developed pneumonia and isolation in a regular facility is no longer ideal,” his wife, Bacoor City Mayor Lani M. Revilla, said in a social media post. The senator confirmed on Aug. 9 that he contracted COVID-19 after a household member and one of his employees tested positive. Mr. Revilla is the fourth senator to have been infected by the coronavirus, after Senators Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Juan Edgardo M. Angara, and Aquilino L. Pimentel III. Stricter quarantine measure has been imposed in the Senate over the last two weeks, which is scheduled to be lifted Wednesday. — Charmaine A. Tadalan
Eastern Visayas records highest number of new cases at 95, with 24 healthcare workers in Samar Provincial Hospital
THE EASTERN Visayas Region recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a day at 95 on Aug. 17, with local transmissions accounting for more than half. The Department of Health (DoH) regional office said there are currently 637 active cases out of the 1,680 total. There are 1,036 recoveries and seven deaths. Of the new cases on Tuesday, Catbalogan City had the highest number at 24, all of whom are healthcare workers from the Samar Provincial Hospital who came in close contact with a confirmed patient. Catbalogan Mayor Dexter M. Uy, in a streamed message late Tuesday evening, appealed to the public to strengthen the observance of health protocols, saying this sudden surge in local transmissions should serve as reminder of the continuing health crisis. Speaking in Waray, Mr. Uy noted that in his rounds of the city, he has “seen many who do not seem to care about following policies on wearing of face mask and distancing.” The city, the provincial capital of Samar, currently has 55 active coronavirus cases. The region had one of the lowest number of cases in the country until end-May, when the locally-stranded residents and overseas workers started returning home.