ASIDE from physical measures to help contain the spread of Covid-19, Muntinlupa City has stepped up its fight in another front -- in the minds and hearts of Muntinlupeños. Stressing the importance of continuously reminding his constituents, Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi, through the Public Information Office, has ramped up the city's WOW Campaign.

City PIO Tez V. Navarro said that leveraging on social media, roving sound systems, and streamers, WOW emphasizes the W-earing of face masks all the time, O-bserving social distancing and W-ashing of hands. Daily updates of Covid-19 cases are also broadcasted in the City Government's Facebook page.

"As Covid-19 pandemic touches all aspects of society, adherence to protocols and self-discipline is at the heart of managing this crisis," Ms. Navarro stressed.

For its part, the city's human resource department, headed by Atty. Eric Tagnia, has also launched a health declaration reporting system for city hall employees through a QR code. LGU personnel report health conditions daily such as symptoms experienced and travel history to identify risks and to prevent possible transmission in the offices.

Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong came over recently to share Baguio City's best practices in contact tracing. Magalong came at the request of Dra. Carolyn Magalong, a niece, who works at the City Health Office. "I know how hard working Muntinlupa is, that's why I was only too willing to help." Mayor Fresnedi thanked the Baguio executive as he (Fresnedi) expressed the hope that Baguio's effective practices will also help slow down local Covid-19 transmission in Muntinlupa.

As of this writing, four communities have undergone Extreme Localized Community Quarantine. Three communities have already completed their lockdown periods, namely: 1) Block 35 Excess Lot, Soldier's Hills in Barangay, Putatan last July 7; 2) Sitio Pagkakaisa Zone 3 Interior in Barangay Sucat last June 29; and 3) Morning Breeze Homes in Barangay Alabang last June 16.

The localized community quarantine in Filinvest Socialized Housing Buildings 1 and 7, Barangay Alabang is set to end on July 22.

Realigning the city budget

City employees will not be getting their usual perks, at least for the rest of the year, but nobody is complaining. They know these benefits will be realigned to augment the city's dwindling resources in its fight against Covid-19. Regular overtime pay will be stopped, honoraria for the committee and technical working memberships will be reduced, while unnecessary travels and events will be suspended. The hiring of new personnel will also be put on hold. But hazard pay for frontliners will continue to be given.

The four-month lockdown has seriously affected the revenue collection of the city government, necessitating the belt-tightening measures, according to Councilor Raul Corro, chair of the budget committee and majority floor leader.

BPI launches PH's first Covid response bonds

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) initially hoped to raise P3 billion in the bond market to finance and refinance eligible micro, small and medium enterprises ("MSMEs") which have been significantly affected by the global pandemic. BPI recognizes that these enterprises, which account for a significant percentage of the country's employment, are crucial to the growth and recovery of our economy. Thus, supporting these businesses will also help create a more inclusive society where all Filipinos benefit from the country's economic gains.

"The public response to the 3.05 percent Covid Action Response Bonds due 2022 (the 'Care Bonds') was so overwhelming that BPI had to cut short its offer period (originally from June 22 to July 17)," BPI President Cezar P. Consing enthused. BPI ended up selling P21.5 billion worth of Care Bonds, more than 7x the target.

BPI Capital Corporation ("BPI Capital"), (headed by Ms. Rhoda Huang) and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited ("HSBC") acted as the Joint Lead Arrangers of the CARE Bonds. BPI Capital was Sole Selling Agent, while HSBC was Participating Selling Agent.

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