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Regional Updates (12/08/20)

MRT-3 starts running at 60 kph

THE Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) further increased its speed to 60 kilometers per hour (kph) starting Dec. 1, reducing the average time between trains to four minutes from the previous five minutes at 50kph, the Transportation department said on Tuesday. “The improvement in train speed is a result of rail replacement works in the rail line, as part of the MRT-3’s massive rehabilitation program, which is being implemented by its maintenance provider Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries from Japan,” the department said in a statement. MRT-3 currently operates 20 trains per day. The department said travel time from the North Avenue station to Taft Avenue will now take 50 minutes from the previous one hour and 15 minutes. MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael J. Capati said, “The increase in train speed will provide our passengers a safer, faster and more reliable public transportation… This is a significant accomplishment for the Department of Transportation.” — Arjay L. Balinbin

Tourism losses in Davao Region estimated at P4B

THE Davao Region tourism industry’s losses due to coronavirus-prompted restrictions is estimated at about P4 billion, a Department of Tourism (DoT) official said. DoT Regional Director Tanya Rabat-Tan said the closing of borders, airports, and hotels as well as limitations on mass gatherings, land travel and related services have affected about 1,750 tourism-related establishments and some 26,000 workers. Ms. Tan said they are continuously working on the cash assistance distribution for affected establishments and workers. She also called on other potential beneficiaries to avail of the aid under the government’s expanded response program. “Once again, all DoT primary and secondary tourism establishments can avail,” she said, including those without accreditation from the department but licensed under the local government. Aside from hotels and other accommodations, Ms. Tan said the program is open to “travel and tour agencies and transport operators exclusively serving tourist land transport, sea transport, and air transport. Other primary tourism enterprises include MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) organizers, MICE facilities, adventure sports and eco-tourism facilities and tourism frontliners and trainers.” The DoT official said the regional office’s priority next year will be promoting community-based tourism sites, farm tourism, and “MICE as it will always be a strong product of the region.” She added that they will be pushing for local and intra-regional travels. — Maya M. Padillo

Agriculture department earmarks P454M for Cebu

THE Department of Agriculture has allocated P454 million in its 2021 budget for Cebu province. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, in his visit to Cebu on Monday, said next year’s fund for the province is 5.3% higher than this year’s P431 million. “Among those who will receive this assistance include our sugarcane farmers, coconut farmers, our fishers, and other marginal farmers,” he said. Mr. Dar also turned over several projects to Cebu farmers such as a biogas digester and farm animals, a coconut hub, 90 units of fiber boats, and a processing center for sisal fiber, among others. He also signed the release of indemnity checks to farmers covered by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. and gave certificates of commitment for the establishment of an urban-agriculture community garden, monolithic dome, and food security program. Meanwhile, Mr. Dar said almost 900,000 marginal farmers and fisherfolk across the country will benefit from the department’s P4.5 billion cash and food assistance initiative funded by Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. He said eligible farmers who are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture will receive P5,000 worth of assistance consisting of cash and food. Beneficiaries can claim the cash aid at payout centers accredited by the Development Bank of the Philippines using an electronic voucher, while the food subsidy can be availed at accredited cooperatives. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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