SECRETARY Carlito F. Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has warned anew of a possible spike in COVID-19 cases in the country if Filipinos will be complacent and start ignoring minimum health protocols like wearing of face masks and face shields and social distancing.
“We are now on the Phase 3 of our National Action Plan Against COVID-19 where we intend to further open our economy, while ensuring the health and safety of our people,’ he said when he spoke during the 6th Philippine National Police National Advisory Council Summit at Camp Crame which was opened by PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan.
Galves said that in Phase 1, the government instituted measures such as lockdowns to protect public health but as a result, the economy suffered.”
“In Phase 2, we made certain adjustments to our health protocols to allow our workers to return to their workplaces, and enable some sectors and businesses to partially resume their operations.
However, as we continue to open our economy, spikes of new cases in some parts of the country are happening similar to that being experienced by other countries across the globe,” he said.
Galves said that the ‘good thing is that we have learned from our experiences during the implementation of the NAP’s wo earlier phases and these lessons are being applied in the Plan’s 3rdPhase.’
He explained that in Phase 3, “there will be no more trade-offs in our COVID-19 response.’
“The health of the Filipino people and our nation’s economy will get equal priority,” he said. However, Galvez said that in all these phases, the public support will always be crucial in ensuring the successful implementation of the government’s prevention and mitigation measures.
“As front-liners, we need to continue reminding the public that the fight against COVID-19 requires collective action and the support of all stakeholders,” he said.
Sec. Galvez explained that although the government remains at the forefront of the war versus the unseen virus, citizens will have to do their part by strictly observing minimum health standards.
However the official said that in order to obtain the stronger support of all sectors and most importantly the general public, “we need to show them what’s at stake for them and the whole nation.”
“Our messaging should be anchored on what people can do to protect themselves, their loved ones and those around them. In short, everyone should do their part,” he said.
On the part of the PNP, he said that people need to view the force nut just as a figure of authority but also as a partner in maintaining health, peace and security.
He cited the case of the Cebu City police whose members have become part of contact tracing teams that have been instrumental in preventing local transmissions and lowering COVID-19 cases in the city.
Galvez also cited the efforts of the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas in Navotas and Pateros.
He also noted the PNP’s changing roles as ‘front-liners’ in deploying health care workers, swabbers and contact-tracers and building its own laboratory while sustaining compliance and discipline.
“As what Gen. Cascolan said, the PNP is undergoing transformation in its organizational culture, processes and systems with the overall objective of providing better police services that the people rightly deserve,” he said.
In his parting word, Sec. Galvez challenged the PNP and its Advisers to sustain their good initiatives and work shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and the community towards realizing all their objectives.
He also called on the police force to ‘use this health crisis as an opportunity to rally the public’ support behind your organization and support its peacekeeping initiatives.’
PNP commanders told to increase visibility
Meanwhile, all police commanders in the country have been ordered to further increase their visibility and strategically deploy their men in business districts and other areas of mass convergence amid the further easing of quarantine restrictions, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said yesterday.
In coordination with Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander said the move is in anticipation of the impact of the lifting of some quarantine protocols as the government policy-makers emphasized the need to reopen the economy to rebound from the adverse effects of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in the past months.
Hotels for instance were already allowed for a 100 percent operation while churches and other places of worship in cities and other highly-urbanized areas were already given a go-signal to accommodate a maximum of 30 percent capacity.
“The enforcement of community quarantine rules is challenging as more people are allowed to go out. But we assure the Local Government Units and the public that the JTF COVID Shield will be at the frontline in maintaining the balance between the need to reopen the economy and our mandate to protect the people from coronavirus infection through strict, proper and strategic enforcement of the health safety protocols,” said Eleazar.
The official explained that the regular presence of policemen and mobile patrol cars in the business district and other public places will already compel the people to make it a habit that they follow the minimum health safety standard protocols, knowing that the policemen would be on constant watch and ready to remind and accost them in case of any violation.
Amid the lack of manpower to guard every street and corner of city and town proper, Eleazar reminded police commanders to reach out to their LGUs for help from their different ‘force multipliers.’
Gen. Cascolan earlier ordered an intensified police presence in the barangays to ensure community level enforcement of the quarantine rules.
In this regard, Eleazar instructed police commanders to regularly coordinate with LGUs to plan and implement strategic deployment of barangay tanods and the City and Municipal Public Order and Safety to maximize the enforcement of quarantine rules in business district and other regular places of convergence in their respective Areas of Responsibility.
“The fight against COVID-19 is a shared responsibility. This is not a battle of the government alone, this is also a battle of every Filipino to prevent our home, our community and our country from being invaded by this unseen enemy,” he said.
Eleazar also called on the public to exercise precaution in protecting themselves at least by following the minimum health safety standard protocol, saying this would make the enforcement easier for the JTF COVID Shield and eventually a big factor in winning the fight against the coronavirus