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Acknowledged as the grassroots of public service, the Local Government Academy (LGA) initiated comprehensive discussions that aimed to strengthen the capacity of barangay officials in their fight against COVID-19. The 11th L!STONG Ugnayan, COVID-19 ay Labanan Online Talakayan Series provided information regarding the national government efforts against the pandemic as well as guidelines for the barangays on their roles and responsibilities.

Understanding Quarantine measures: ECQ and GCQ

DILG Undersecretary for Plans, Public Affairs and Communication Jonathan Malaya started the discussion by differentiating enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from general community quarantine (GCQ). He emphasized that the basis for determining the type of quarantine measure to be imposed in an area is the risk of outbreak. 

According to Usec. Malaya, the ECQ has the following features: 1) only one (1) person with a quarantine pass per household can go out to buy essentials; 2) Social Amelioration Program (SAP) is prioritized; and 3) malls and schools are entirely closed.

Whereas under GCQ, 1) people can go out to buy basic necessities only; 2) schools are closed, while non-leisure shops such as hardware in malls are allowed to operate;  and 3) certain groups such as people aged 0-20, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities are still required to stay at home.

Furthermore, he identified the localities in the country that will retain the enforcement of ECQ that include NCR and CALABARZON while some places are still under monitoring for the validation of the measures to be done after April 30, 2020. USec. Malaya also reminded the people to continue practicing the new normal and for establishments to strictly comply with the minimum health standards set by the Department of Health (DOH).

Social Amelioration Program (SAP) updates

Assistant Secretary Jocelyn Niwane from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) highlighted the spirit of Bayanihan and the strategies performed by the agency in managing the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

She briefly explained that for the first tranche of the distribution of assistance, 100 billion pesos have already been provided to local government units. This amount is part of the 260 billion budget of the national government for the 18 million priority families. She shared that the DSWD has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with all the regions including BARMM to ensure accountabilities.

ASec. Niwane also reported that as of April 25, 2020, 99.6% of the funds have been released to the LGUs which is approximately 80 billion pesos out of the allotted 82 billion pesos for the SAP beneficiaries. The remaining 16 billion was allocated to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) members. There are two (2) categories of beneficiaries under the SAP, that of the pre-selected 4Ps families and the selected non-4Ps families.

Asec. Niwane noted that all 18 million families should be provided the financial assistance by the end of the month and called on the local chief executives to help make this happen. “Ang pamahalaan ay gumagawa ng paraan sa mga left out na sana ay maisama sila bago matapos ang buwan pero kailangan maidulog muna ito sa Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)”, she added.

Among the regions, Region 3 was acknowledged as the most proactive region in handling the distribution of the assistance. “Sana po ay ipagpatuloy natin ang magandang samahan natin sa mga barangay, magkaroon tayo ng harmonization o centralized data base at magkaisa tayo para malagpasan natin ang krisis sa ating bansa”, Asec. Niwane concluded.

Critical role of the barangays

Dir. Karl Caesar Rimando of the DILG National Barangay Operations Office reiterated the Department issuances for the barangays that are in accordance with the IATF. He emphasized that a local Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) composed of Executive Officers, Barangay tanods, health workers and a midwife must be organized with the ratio of 1 BHERT for every 5,000 population.

He also noted that the established checkpoints should allow the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to enter their hometowns as they have been rapidly assessed in the airport before they are sent home and proceed to proper quarantine facilities. Dir. Rimando also called the attention of barangay captains in ensuring that people with disabilities are included in the list of beneficiaries.

He also stressed that the quick response fund of the barangay must be used especially if a locality has not experienced extreme calamities for the past years.

In line with the SAP of DSWD, Dir. Rimando reminded the barangay officials that certification must be issued free of charge and the BHERTs, barangay tanods and daycare workers should be included as beneficiaries.

Barangay as frontliners in the fight against COVID-19

Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño highlighted the crucial role of the barangay captains in the fight against COVID-19. “Our work here in DILG is to make sure that our barangays are safe because we are not just protecting the lives of our loved ones. If you have problems, let us know. DILG is always here to assist you,” said Usec Diño.

For his part, DILG Sec. Año expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the LGUs as front liners in the battle. He compared the local government workers with that of the platoon leaders in the military who are always ready to face the challenges. He also likened the fight against COVID-19 as a dragon boat team – the boat is the country, the drummer is the national government headed by President Duterte and the paddlers are the barangay captains and our front liners going against the big wave that is COVID-19.

 

“No matter how strong an individual is, if their movements are not synchronized, the boat will not progress and topple over”, said Sec. Ano. “The success of the government is in the hands of every barangay. If we are brave and dedicated to the service of the people, our family and the generations to come will greatly benefit. I salute all the barangay captains. I don’t get to be with you every day but I monitor your accomplishments. We are fortunate because we have been given the chance to lead during this crisis to help our constituents,” he concluded.

For photos, click here

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