The Dumaguete City government has acquired a biological safety cabinet for COVID-19 tests that will help protect health workers.
With this, City Health Officer Dr. Maria Sarah Talla and her medical technologists thanked the administration following the installation of the biological safety cabinet to protect its laboratory environment from exposure to infectious blood specimens taken for Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT).
Talla said the acquisition of this vital equipment fully meets the requirements of the Department of Health (DOH) and will help in the effort to manage COVID-19 transmission through safe and accurate testing.
This equipment has the capability to purify the air of potentially infectious aerosols, animal dander or both to maintain quality control of the material being worked with as it filters both the inflow and exhaust air.
Nevertheless, RDT tests in the City Health Laboratory are used for in-house surveillance and monitoring purposes.
Members of the state-run social insurance program Social Security System (SSS) in Dumaguete City and nearby areas who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic can still apply for the SSS unemployment benefit.
SSS Dumaguete City Branch Manager Elisa Llavan confirmed this during a PIA-IATF-EID “Straight from the Source” Press Briefing held recently at the IATF Media Briefing Area recently.
“Ang atong unemployment benefit ongoing siya. Wala siya deadline because it is one of the benefits na gina-offer ng SSS sa tanan mga members (We are continuously providing the unemployment benefit because it is one of the benefits we extend to all SSS members),” Llavan said.
The unemployment benefit is a form of cash aid extended to private sector workers including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and kasambahays who are SSS members who were separated from their company or employer involuntarily.
Llavan noted that there are employees of private companies who were displaced during the pandemic because employers or businesses are facing financial challenges brought about by the COVID-19 crisis.
The SSS branch manager said SSS will pay half of the member’s average monthly salary for two months.
Llavan advised SSS members who would like to avail of this benefit to submit their application online.
“Tandaan sa aton nga member na naga-submit, dapat ang ilang i-upload na document dapat clear. Pareha gyud ang data kay kung iba ang data sa separation day na gihatag sa ila employer, iba man nahatag sa DOLE, ma-deny siya or ma-reject siya and then ma-refile sila (When they upload a copy of the document, it should be clear and the data should be consistent. For example, the separation day encoded by the employer must coincide with the data submitted to DOLE. In case the records don’t match, the application will be denied or rejected and they would have to re-file it),” Llavan advised SSS members.
She also reminded them to encode their actual savings account number.
“Ang i-encode dapat ang savings account number hindi (ang) card number kay daghan mi kaayo na-reject na unemployment benefit kay ang ilang na-encode ang card number sa ATM (They should encode the actual savings account and not the ATM card number),” Llavan added.
SSS members should also ensure that the accounts they submit are active accounts and not dormant or inactive to avoid any problems in claiming the said benefit.
Apart from the unemployment benefit, SSS members can also file for other loan programs of the agency provided they have paid the number of contributions needed to avail of the loan.
In line with this, Llavan also announced that the agency is shifting to online platforms for most of its transactions as some programs and services have been transferred online.
She explained the shift is part of the agency’s move towards digital transformation and checkless disbursements.
It is also in compliance with the call of Ease of Business Law and part of the agency’s measures to limit face-to-face transactions during this time of pandemic.
Some of the mandatory online transactions include filing of sickness notification, maternity notifications, unemployment benefit, retirement benefit, funeral benefit, filing of salary, and calamity loans.
Llavan said the application of maternity benefit will also be available online soon.
Although most of the transactions are now done online, Llavan also cited that hard copies of documentary requirements especially those needed for sickness benefit must still be submitted to their office for further evaluation.
She added that inquiries can be coursed through online or through drop boxes placed in front of the SSS office.
She assured SSS members that there is a personnel who will handle their concerns.
“Gapangayo lang siguro mi ug pag-intiende siguro sa inyo. As to kung ano kadali namon siya matrabaho ang mga online submissions ninyo, everyday we see to it na matrabaho na siya (We also appeal for your understanding and patience. As to how fast can we respond to online inquiries, we see to it that we are working on it everyday),” Llavan explained.
She also encouraged SSS members to enroll at My.SSS for quick access to the agency’s online services.
Members of the state pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) may soon avail of another two-month moratorium on loan payments.
GSIS Dumaguete City Branch Information Officer Risty Villahermosa confirmed this during a PIA-IATF-EID “Straight from the Source” Press Briefing held recently at the IATF Media Briefing Area.
Villahermosa clarified that there is no specific date yet on the implementation of this program as guidelines are still being finalized.
“Naa pa ni sa pipeline and naa pa siya sa finalization stage but soon ma-implement na ni siya. Daghan pang fine tuning pero hapit na ni (This is still in the pipeline and in the finalization stage but this will be implemented soon. Some details are being finetuned as of now),” Villahermosa said.
This is the second time the agency granted a moratorium on loan payments within the year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The first round of moratorium covered the months of March, April, May, and June this year.
Aside from this, GSIS will also roll out multi-purpose loan, educational loan, and computer loan for its members as part of their upcoming programs in response to COVID-19.
GSIS also re-introduced its emergency loan for which members can apply until Dec. 27 only based on Proclamation No. 1021 which extends the state of calamity in the Philippines
“Out of the P43.7 billion that we have set aside for this loan facility nationwide, we have already released around P18 billion to nearly 600,000 active members and pensioners. So naa pa balanse. This is one of the reasons ngano pwede pa gyud nato i-extend ang emergency loan (There is still a big balance. This is one of the reasons why we can extend the implementation of the emergency loan),” Villahermosa explained.
Meanwhile, the GSIS officer also announced that the Annual Pensioner’s Information Revalidation (APIR), which requires GSIS old-age and survivorship pensioners to appear physically at GSIS office on their birth month as a requirement to continuously receive their pension, has been suspended temporarily for now because of the pandemic.
Villahermosa said this program will resume next year but the agency will utilize video conferencing tools so that pensioners would no longer have to personally visit the GSIS office to update their information.
However, he also noted that GSIS-UMID card holders can do ther revalidation through GSIS kiosks installed in strategic places and in city or municipal halls across the province.
“This year, even though walay APIR, walay revalidation of pensioners, we are still encouraging to renew. Although kung dili sila maka-renew dili ra man ma-suspend for this year. Gi-encourage namo sila to do the video conferencing para ma-familiar sila (Even though there is no APIR this year, we are still encouraging pensioners to renew. We encourage them to do video conferencing so they can familiarize themselves with the technology. Their pension will not be suspended if they cannot renew this year),” Villahermosa said.
He also encouraged GSIS members to enroll in eGSISMo, an online portal where they can create accounts and access their service records, loan records, claim records, and even apply for a loan.
Villahermosa disclosed that the agency continues to utilize online platforms to lessen face-to-face transaction in their office.
He also advised their members to send their inquiries through e-mail and drop box as he assured that a dedicated personnel will attend to these concerns.