DILG tells LGUs public events may proceed but observe anti-COVID-19 measures

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2020   •   523

MANILA, Philippines – Local government units (LGU) may still organize and hold public gatherings, meetings and festivals despite the threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as long as all precautionary measures against the virus are strictly observed, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In a statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the implementation of the new policy follows the meeting last Friday of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, which include the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The DOH earlier urged the public to refrain from going to crowded places and other public gatherings in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Following DOH’s advise, some local government units have cancelled their scheduled festivals and other public events for this month.

“While they may continue with public gatherings at their discretion, we wish to remind the general public to wash your hands regularly, and to seek medical attention if signs of cough, colds, sore throat and fever appear,” Malaya said.

He also said that LGUs should strictly implement the guidelines, which include monitoring all participants to public events with infrared thermometers, providing all their participants with hand sanitizers or 70% isopropyl alcohol, asking everyone to use surgical masks, and providing wastebaskets for the proper disposal of all types of wastes.

“If the LGU decides to push through with their public events, they should discourage those with cough, colds, sore throat and fever from attending and they should have medical personnel on standby for any eventuality. Moreover, they should closely coordinate with their DOH counterparts so that they are properly guided,” he added.

The DILG’s call comes at the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal to Filipinos to visit local tourism sites to help boost the country’s tourism sector amid the threat of novel coronavirus.

Duterte earlier said he is planning to travel around the Philippines as he assures the public that it is safe to visit the country’s tourism spots.

“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you to travel with me around the Philippines. I assure you that everything is safe in our country, be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order, and be it an issue of accessibility,” he said.

DILG tells LGUs to digitize transactions amid COVID-19 pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday urged local government units (LGUs) to move towards digitized transactions to reduce contact and impede further transmission of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the country continues to fight the pandemic.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año called on LGUs to fast-track the issuance of permits and clearances in setting up crucial infrastructure needed for digital connectivity across the country including the construction of cell sites to improve internet connectivity.

“The millions working from home, the students looking forward to on-line learning, and the workers who depend on the digital economy are all expecting government to address the gaps in our internet infrastructure,” Año said.

“We therefore encourage all LGUs to beef up their digital platforms in their communities as we move towards the new normal,” he added.

He also said that going digital is the “call of the time,” but more than technological advancement, digitized government and consumer transactions are precautionary measures that can contribute immensely to impeding virus transmission.

In the same statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that digital platforms can be an important partner of LGUs in ensuring the health and safety of the public while promoting economic growth. 

“You have to strike a balance. We must begin the economic recovery even as we fight COVID,” he said.

Malaya also noted that LGUs have a key role in bolstering the digital platform, not just in government services but also in building business and consumer confidence during these trying times.

He likewise said that LGUs must encourage businesses to veer towards online money transfer instead of physical payment as part of the new normal.

“Many businesses have now been engaging the financial services provided by major payment gateways such as Smart Padala, Gcash, PayMaya, Google, and Click2Pay that have drastically changed our experience in making online payments – from the conventional “pasaload” to a more sophisticated process of online payment,” he said.

Malaya also said that cashless payments have also helped in the fast distribution of the second batch of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) subsidy.

The government likewise advocates the use of online payment for taxes and mandatory social contributions, such as GSIS, BIR, SSS, PagIBIG, and PhilHealth, he added.

“Despite some security issues that the government assures can be countered, online payment is also seen to reduce red tape and cost of doing business as all government agencies, through the Ease of Doing Business Act, are mandated to automate their processes including payment of taxes, fees, and charges,” he said.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tested again for novel coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 7, 2020

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday (July 6) he had undergone another test for the novel coronavirus, after local media reported he had symptoms associated with the COVID-19 respiratory disease, including a fever.

Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace that he had just visited the hospital and been tested for the virus, adding that an exam had shown his lungs “clean.”

CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had symptoms of the disease, such as a fever. The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 related deaths, according to official data on Monday.

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended multiple events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. The U.S. embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolsonaro previously tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate in March. (Reuters)

(Production: Leonardo Benassatto, Paul Vieira)

Over 15,000 PDLs released from jail amid COVID-19 pandemic – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 15,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released from jail facilities as part of the government’s decongestion program in light of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the DILG said that from March 17 to June 22, a total of 15,322 PDLs were released from jail facilities supervised by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Of this number, 5,910 were from the National Capital Region; 1,557 from CALABARZON; 1,487 from Central Visayas; 1,041 from Central Luzon; 897 from Zamboanga Peninsula; 762 from Northern Mindanao; and the rest are from other regions.

Around 1,312 of these PDLs were released because of the new Supreme Court guidelines issued to decongest the jails.

Majority of these released inmates are elderly and those who committed light or bailable offenses, the DILG said.

“All of these PDLs were released by authority of the courts with some released in accordance with new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court because of the pandemic,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.

“Ang paglaya ng libo-libong PDLs ay patunay na hindi sila nakakaligtaan at hindi pinapabayaan. Patunay rin itong gumagana ang justice system sa bansa kahit pa man may pandemya,” he added.

Año issued the statement in response to the claim of leftist groups that the government is not doing enough to decongest the jails.

The DILG chief also said that the BJMP established COVID-19 isolation centers with medical staff in the regions despite budgetary and personnel limitations. These isolation facilities were put up with the support from the Department of Health, local government units.

Six Ligtas COVID Centers with 918-bed capacity are established in strategic areas, particularly in Quezon City, San Fernando City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Pagbilao in Quezon province, and Zamboanga City, Año said.

He added that the bureau also intensified its triaging process, provision of more focused medical care to patients, conduct of daily disinfection of jails, targeted and expanded testing, and massive health education campaigns inside jails.

“These are on top of the usual precautionary measures such as wearing of face mask, thermal scanning, use of foot baths, hand washing, and maintaining good hygiene,” he said.

“Kahit pa maraming responsibilidad ang ipinagkakatiwala sa DILG ngayong COVID-19 crisis ay hindi isinasantabi ng Kagawaran at ng BJMP ang PDLs. Tinitiyak namin ang kapakanan at kaligtasan nila,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the country’s jails, with a total of 783 confirmed infections among PDLs and 135 among BJMP personnel.

As of Thursday, July 2, 549 PDLs and 90 bureau personnel have recovered from the viral respiratory disease, Año said.

“Tinututukan po namin ang sitwasyon sa mga BJMP jail sa buong bansa at hindi namin pinapabayaan ang mga COVID-19 positive cases. Sa katunayan, marami na ang gumaling at hindi kami bibitaw hanggang bawat isa sa kanila ay maka-recover na,” he said.

The BJMP also expanded the electronic dalaw (e-Dalaw) program in relation to the temporary suspension of visitation in all jail facilities amid the public health crisis.


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