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National Newsbits for Apri 17, 2014

Passenger Shift

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) expects a shift in passenger volume from ships to inter-island and roll-on and roll-off (RoRo) vessels on Maundy Thursday.

“Now that those heading to distant provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao have already left, we expect that the bulk of the passengers would shift to those short-trips,” said PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo. He advised the passengers to refrain from taking “fly-by-night” or “colorum” interisland vessels because “they do not have any insurance for their passenger and most of them have defective life rafts and life vests.” (Raymund Antonio)

Measles Monitoring

Cases of measles were tracked by health authorities in Singapore and Calgary, Canada, to people who recently traveled to the Philippines. In Singapore, more than 20 people were reported to have been infected after traveling to the Philippines. This prompted the issuance of an advisory to employment agencies to ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) returning to Singapore after their vacation in the Philippines get their measles vaccination before they come back. Meanwhile, there were seven recorded measles cases in Calgary. Officials at Alberta Health Services revealed that the most recent cases were travel-related involving people returning from the Philippines in early April. Last January, the Department of Health declared an outbreak of potentially deadly measles in several districts in Metro Manila. (Roy Mabasa)

Customs Probe

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) expects to tighten its case on the 65 Customs assessors and examiners allegedly involved in the release of several smuggled rice shipments last year. Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla said the BOC’s Investigation Division should be able to complete its probe by sometime next week. He imposed a 90-day deadline for probers to finish their work. “I’m expecting to receive a final report hopefully before the end of this week,” he said. Under investigation are 18 BOC employees assigned at the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port, while the 47 others are from Davao, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro ports.  (Raymund Antonio)

Public Apology

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya personally apologized for the poor air-conditioning at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 that caused discomfort to travelers, especially due to the warm weather. “We sincerely apologize to the public for the warm temperature at NAIA T1,” he said. According to the NAIA 1 management, air handling units had to be shut off while rehabilitation works are ongoing. This was to prevent dust from being sucked into the air-conditioning system or else it could be endangered. The project entails structural retrofitting, architectural works, and improvement of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection facilities of the 30-year-old airport. (Kris Bayos)

Improving Weather

Residents and vacationers in Central and Eastern Visayas can expect the weather condition to improve as the low-pressure area (LPA) is expected to have already crossed the landmass of the Visayas, the government weather bureau said. As of 10 a.m. yesterday, the LPA was at 80 kilometers east of Surigao City, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). It will bring cloudy skies with moderate to occasional heavy rains and thunderstorms over Eastern and Central Visayas, provinces of Sorsogon, Masbate, Albay, and Dinagat and Siargao islands. The same will be in the Visayas and Bicol Region, and Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and northern Palawan provinces. (Ellalyn De Vera)