Community pantry organizers in Metro Manila urged to coordinate with LGUs

Robie de Guzman   •   April 27, 2021   •   474

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Manila Council (MMC) called on organizers of community pantries in the metropolis to have prior coordination with their respective local government units (LGU) to ensure that COVID-19 health protocols are properly observed.

While lauding the Filipino spirit of bayanihan as community pantries emerge on various parts of Metro Manila, the MMC, by virtue of Resolution No. 21-08 Series of 2021, underscored the importance of coordination to sustain the downward trend two-week growth rate of COVID-19.

Citing data from the Department of Health, the MMC said the growth rate of COVID-19 lowered to -5% within the period of March 21 to April 17 from 164% for the period February 28 to March 27.

“While the organizers of community pantries exemplify collective charity and concern for the plight of the underprivileged and are truly worthy of emulation, support, and praise, the primordial minimum public health standards under the prevailing community quarantine must remain paramount,” the resolution stated.

“The sacrifices endured and gains accumulated during the ECQ and MECQ must not be put to waste by a disregard of the prohibition on mass gatherings, observance of social distancing, and the wearing of face masks and face shields,” it added.

The council approved the resolution on April 23. The MMC is composed of 17 Metro Manila mayors.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos, who is also the concurrent chair of the MMC, said advance coordination would allow LGUs to set up measures to ensure the observance of physical distancing and other public health protocols in community pantries.

Community pantries’ adherence to the prevailing health guidelines is also part of the Filipino bayanihan spirit that it is promoting, he added.

“As the community pantries intend to extend assistance to our kababayans, let us be reminded that aside from giving food at this time, one of the noblest kind of help is making sure that they are not at risk of acquiring the virus which, at worst, can cost their lives,” Abalos said.

The MMDA chief also reminded that individuals aged 17 below and senior citizens aged 65 and older should stay at home, in compliance with the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Duterte: I salute community pantry scheme but…

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said that he salutes individuals and groups behind community pantries but stressed that protocols against the transmission of COVID-19 should be strictly observed during these events.

Duterte issued the statement after receiving information that at least 86 persons have tested positive for coronavirus disease after going to a food distribution activity in a barangay in Quezon City more than two weeks ago.

While he acknowledges the intention behind the establishment of community pantries, the chief executive said organizers must ensure that these activities will not go out of control and become super spreader events.

“Wala man question itong pantry scheme. As a matter of fact, I salute the people behind this and those who originated it,” Duterte said during his weekly public address on Monday night.

He also said that basic health protocols should likewise be implemented to avoid overcrowding and minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“Nagkulang sila (pantry organizers) and maybe they are ignorant of the prohibition imposed by law, not by me. Hindi siguro niyo nabasa pero sa totohanan lang, if it is a matter of assessing whether or not you are doing good you are doing super good,” he said.

“Saludo ako at maganda ang konsensya ninyo sa tao ninyo but please read the restrictions first,” he added.

Various groups divided on relaxing quarantine restrictions in NCR Plus 8

Marje Pelayo   •   June 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups are not in full agreement on the proposed relaxation of quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and the provinces of Bulacan, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal or the NCR Plus 8.

For its part, labor group ALU-TUCP said downgrading quarantine classifications would be favorable as it would resume office and on-site works.

However, the group said the implementation of health and safety protocol must be strictly observed and maintained in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Nangangamba kami ng baka bumalik na uli tayo doon sa napakaraming mga kababayan natin at nakaparaming bilang ng mga manggagawa ang mahawa sa coronavirus disease,” said ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.

“Nakita natin doon sa mga bus terminal halimbawa sunod-sunod ang mga araw na ang daming mga manggagawa ang nakapila. Naba-violate ang mga safety protocols natin,” he added.

Meanwhile, employers are concerned about how prepared the government is should the COVID-19 cases surge, specifically in terms of mass testing, isolation, and treatment of patients. If that happened, they said hospitals would be overwhelmed anew.

“Kung magluluwag at babalik na naman dito at maghahabol na naman sila, iyon ang problema. Sayang ang pagluluwag at delikado pagka ganun,” argued Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr, president of Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

“Pero kami talagang gusto namin tuloy- tuloy ang pagluwag dahil hirap na hirap na ating ekonomiya at ang ating mga kababayan,” he added.

Private hospitals are still struggling with the current number of COVID-19 patients.

The Private Hospitals Association Philippines (PHAPI) said it could agree with the easing of quarantine restrictions provided that the minimum health standards are strictly imposed.

“Halos wala na masyado na talagang critical occupancy, bumabalik na tayo doon sa dati. Medyo tumataas pa rin nang konti doon sa below high risk, “ said Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, PHAPI President.

The Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, said they have no records at present of any hospital having a high utilization rate of its intensive care unit (ICU).

“Pero sa ngayon nakikita natin iyong ating mga ospital sa Metro manila ay manageable lahat at wala pang risk level na mataas at lahat ay nakapag- decongest na from the last surge that we’ve had,” noted Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Former Special Adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 Dr. Tony Leachon, in the meantime, suggested that the government should observe the situation on the ground first before deciding on relaxing restrictions.

He noted that COVID-19 cases in NCR Plus are still high and other regions like Western Visayas, Davao and Zamboanga are also experiencing the spike.

It would be better, he said, to heighten border controls in between cities or regions to curb COVID transmissions.

“Kung luluwag tayo sa Maynila yun na nga lang inaasahan natin tapos babagsak din together with the other Western Visayas and Mindanao areas, ang hirap naman Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao meron kang three epicenters,” Leachon explained.

Experts from the OCTA Research Group also support the extension of a much stricter quarantine restriction in the NCR Plus 8 area.

“In the NCR, the GCQ must continue with stricter monitoring and compliance to minimum public health standards. Given the downward trends, further calibrated easing of restrictions for certain businesses can be considered provided these establishments comply with health and safety protocols of the government,” the group said in a statement.

“Further, the national government needs to accelerate implementation of the NCR plus vaccination plan,” it said. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

MMDA launches bayanihan to fight urban decay

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has launched a bayanihan program to fight urban decay.

The MMDA launched Metro Bayanihan which aims to intensify sidewalk clearing operations, cleaning of waterways, anti-littering, and anti-dengue drive to promote general cleanliness of Metro Manila and the well-being of its residents.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said the agency is closely coordinating with the local government units in Metro Manila to make sure that the clean-up can cover all barangays in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The said program aims to mitigate flooding, dengue, leptospirosis, and water-borne diseases especially at the beginning of the rainy season.

“Garbage-laden waterways are oftentimes breeding grounds of mosquitoes and other insects which can cause diseases. We are stepping up our efforts to make sure that these problems won’t add up to the burdens brought by this pandemic,” he said.

The MMDA will also conduct misting and fogging operations to eliminate possible breeding areas and kill dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Abalos also appealed to the public to participate in the campaign to eradicate trash, diseases and encourage sustainable healthy urban living.

“During these times, we’ve seen how important a clean surrounding is, and we want every barangay to do their part in making Metro Manila clean, orderly, healthy, and more livable,” he said. -AAC


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