AS the government prepares to shift the National Capital Region (NCR) to general community quarantine (GCQ), Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano asked the local chief executives (LCEs) to step up efforts and take the lead to protect their respective communities from the deadly coronavirus.
Even under GCQ, Año emphasized the need for the local leaders to strictly implement the minimum health standards such as the use of face masks in public places, curfew implementation, maintenance of physical distancing in markets, one-passenger rule in tricycles among others.
Transitioning to GCQ, he said, means relaxing the movement of the public but local officials must make sure that free movement of people won’t result in bigger numbers of COVID-19 infection in their communities.
“Dapat paigtingin ng mga opisyal sa ating mga lokal na pamahalaan mula sa probinsya hanggang sa mga barangay ang kanilang mga ginagawa para masigurong ligtas ang lahat mula sa pagkalat ng sakit dahil nakasalalay sa inyo na mabawasan ang mga kasong COVID-19 sainyong komunidad,” the DILG chief stressed.
According to Año, LGUs must also utilize their authority to impose localized lockdowns in critical barangays so long as there is concurrence with the regional IATF.
“We cannot let our guard down until the medical community finds a medicine or vaccine to cure this disease. In the meantime, we will follow our national government-enabled, local government unit-led, people-centered strategy in dealing with this crisis,” he said.
And to make local officials more accountable for the campaign against COVID-19 in their communities, the public should cooperate with authorities but be willing to report any failure on the part of local chief executives in implementing measures to protect the health of citizens in their communities.
Local officials are told to go back to the drawing board and re-study the movement of all their citizens and implement localized measures to change behaviors to curtail the spread of the virus.
“LGUs must also consider new ways of doing business such as: on-line applications of all types of permits, on-line payment systems, use of telemedicine platforms for their constituents, use of courier services to accept and deliver documents, as well as other innovations,” he said.
Local officials must prepare to deploy more policemen and barangay tanods and other force multipliers in places where crowds gather such as banks, ATMs, supermarkets, public markets, drug stores, and pharmacies, clinics among others.
Año added that overall the country has performed well in managing the COVID-19 crisis. However, new challenges such as the return of tens of thousands of displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the relocation of informal settler families from Metro Manila make more difficult COVID-19 management in communities.
“The National Government will provide all your needs but you will have to give more energy and dedication in these times when we make our people survive and emerge resilient from this crisis,” the DILG chief stressed.