MANILA — In an effort to protect the public from the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday enjoined village executives nationwide to be a “game changer” by intensifying the fight against the infectious disease.
Duterte gave the directive during a briefing with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases held at Malacañan Palace on Monday night.
He ordered Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to check whether all villages nationwide are following the government’s health protocols to contain the spread of Covid-19, Malacañang said in a press statement on Tuesday.
Duterte, as quoted by the Palace said: “I have articulated here time and again, in case of mobilization, the role of the barangay (village) captains cannot be over emphasized.”
“So Secretary Año, you take hold, control of the barangays and just see to it that they are complying with the order,” he added, as he acknowledged the vital role of village officials in the national government’s fight against Covid-19.
The Philippines now has 33 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the Department of Health (DOH) announced earlier Tuesday.
Duterte on Sunday signed Proclamation 922, placing the Philippines under a state of public health emergency in a bid to address the threat posed by Covid-19 in the country.
Under Proclamation 922, all government agencies and local governments are mandated to render full assistance and cooperation, as well as to mobilize resources to undertake “critical, urgent, and appropriate” response and measures “in a timely manner”.
All Filipino residents and foreign tourists are also encouraged to “act within the bounds of the law to comply with the lawful directives and advisories” that will be issued by the national government to prevent further transmission of Covid-19.
Prior to the signing of the presidential proclamation, Año issued a January 31 memorandum circular for all local government units, directing them to establish their own Covid-19 task force headed by governors and mayors.
Año amended the circular on February 6, ordering village officials to form village emergency health response teams, determine village isolation units, and impose 14-day voluntary quarantine for residents who have travel history with countries that have confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The guideline from the Local Government department highlights the need for village health workers to coordinate with the Department of Health with regard to the transfer of persons under investigation (PUIs) to accredited public hospitals or referral centers.
The job of village executives to make sure that PUIs are transferred immediately to government-designated facilities, the Palace said.
Local Covid-19 task forces activated
Meantime, Malacañang said Año assured Duterte that local chief executives have already activated their own Covid-19 task forces.
It added that Año also appealed for the recognition of LGUs’ autonomy, as he stressed their ability to act and handle things at the local level.
LGUs have the ability to track possible cases and impose suspension of classes, as well as carry out restrictions and recommendations, Año said.
“He (Año) emphasized that for now, the most important thing is communication between the national and local government units,” the Palace said.
The DOH has raised the Covid-19 Alert System to Code Red Sub-level 1 following the spike in the number of positive cases of coronavirus disease in the country.
Año ensured that LGUs would impose mandatory quarantine to people who have close contact with Covid-19 patients, Malacañang said.
“With the declaration of the public health emergency and with the country placed at Code Red Sub-Level 1, LGUs are expected to play the most active role, particularly in contact tracing at the barangay level and in investigating people with severe respiratory infection,” it said. (PNA)