DILG tells LGUs to report cases, prevent spread of novel coronavirus

Robie de Guzman   •   February 3, 2020   •   228

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered all local government units (LGU) to report possible cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in their respective areas, and adopt stringent measures to intensify the information campaign on the deadly virus.

In a statement released Monday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said local chief executives must ensure that the novel coronavirus will not spread in their respective jurisdictions following the confirmation of two infection cases in the country.  

“We need to be preventive now that there is a confirmed 2019 nCOV case in the country. Our governors, city and municipal mayors and DILG regional directors must ensure that the coronavirus will not thrive in their backyards,” he said.

The DILG chief said that under the law, local government units are in charge of the promotion of health and safety within their areas of jurisdictions.

“As such, they must take the lead in the prevention and control of the coronavirus at the local level” he added.

Año said local chief executives must consult local health officers on the guidelines and protocol on safety measures, prevention, and control of the virus in their localities.

They must also coordinate with the local police and health authorities to protect suspected cases and their next of kin, and if necessary, to put up checkpoints.

The DILG chief also directed local officials to coordinate with the Local Price Coordinating Council, monitor prices of medicines and preventive gadgets, and file charges against unscrupulous businessmen who resort to hoarding and overpricing.

Barangay officials were likewise ordered to intensity a cleanup drive by properly disposing of garbage and cleaning up the streets and waterways, and be vigilant in monitoring residents showing symptoms of the disease by immediately reporting them to health authorities.

“They should also disseminate information materials such as flyers, brochures, posters and put up billboards about the virus, and tap the local media in conveying this message,” he added.

Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the country’s first novel coronavirus case – a 38-year old female Chinese national who traveled from Wuhan City, which is the epicenter of the outbreak.

A few days later, the DOH reported that the patient’s companion – a 44-year old man – died just days after he also tested positive for the virus.

The DOH earlier said that 2019-nCoV symptoms include cough, colds, fever, difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath which can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney problems, and even death.

As of Monday, February 3, China’s National Health Commission reported 361 deaths due to the virus with 17,205 confirmed cases in China. Around 21,558 people are suspected of being infected while 475 people have recovered and have been discharged from the hospital.

The disease outbreak in China has prompted massive lockdowns in several of its towns and cities, as well as travel ban to and from China in some countries.

Año said there is a growing global concern over the dreaded virus and that unless properly addressed, the crisis it created might have an adverse impact on business productivity, tourism, and mobility of people.

“The lack of information or misinformation about the coronavirus engenders paranoia where coronavirus suspects, their next of kin, neighborhood, or community may be ostracized by the public at large,” Año said. 

“In extreme situations, lack of information or disinformation on coronavirus may even lead to social unrest in a community,” he added.

DILG says cops on ‘narco-list’ who opted to retire early not spared from probe, charges

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said that cops included in the narco-list who opted to file for optional retirement will not be exonerated from criminal charges if they are found to be involved in the illegal drug trade.

Año made the statement Wednesday after some members of the opposition group slammed reports on the move of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to give the 357 cops included in the narco-list the option to retire early to reduce the cases for adjudication.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa earlier said he is open to optional retirement of police officers accused of having drug links to lessen the government resources that will be used when the adjudication begins.

He, however, asserted that the early retirement won’t clear the cops from allegations and that this is not an easy way out.

He added that any officer who initially availed of the early retirement option will be pursued if proven to be involved in the narcotics trade.

Gamboa recently met with most of the 357 cops and explained to them the process of the two-way adjudication to be initiated based on his request to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The process involves adjudication at the regional and directorial level for one week before the cases go to the national level which will handle the cases for three weeks.

Once all the cases are submitted to the Office of the PNP Chief, it will take three days for him to submit the results of the adjudication for approval.

Año said the 357 cops accused of having drug links should present proof to remove their names from the narco-list.

“Patunayan nilang wala silang kaugnayan sa iligal na droga. Nasa kanila ang burden of proof, iprisinta nila ang mga ebidensya na magpapatunay na wala silang kinalaman at kaugnayan sa iligal na droga,” he said.

The DILG chief said the evidence should be presented to four agencies handling illegal drug reports – the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Hanggang hindi nagkakaroon ng pagkakasundo ang apat na ahensyang ito, hangga’t hindi nila sinasabi ng ‘Okay na yan’, magpapatuloy ang imbestigasyon,” he said.

The narco-list is a consolidation of intelligence and other reports from law-enforcement agencies and still needs to be verified and validated. Aside from uniformed personnel, the list also includes local officials and judges as well as other personalities.

Once a complaint is filed, it can be validated within a month, Año said.

He also said that the final clearance will come from the President. 

“Gusto nating maparusahan ang mga may kaugnayan sa iligal na droga” Año said. “I commend PNP Chief Gamboa for having the courage in resolving this issue na matagal ng burden ng PNP. We need to deal with this para makapagtrabaho na nang matino ang ating mga pulis,” he added.

DILG tells LGUs to strictly ban tricycles from national highways

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered local chief executives to strictly enforce the ban on tricycles, pedicabs and motorized pedicabs on national highways.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said this is part of the road clearing operations being implemented by the government.

The DILG chief stressed that tricycles and pedicabs have long been banned from plying major roads. These tricycles are also not allowed to even cross or make a U-turn on national highways.

“Local governments must review and modify tricycle routes according to the ban and are encouraged to include in their plans the construction of local roads or overpasses where the tricycles can operate,” he said.

The Philippine National Police will help local leaders enforce the ban, the DILG chief said.

Aside from enforcing the ban, Año also directed local government units (LGU) to create a tricycle task force that will draw up a tricycle route plan in their respective areas.

Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-036, Año said that each city and municipality tricycle task force should be separate from the tricycle regulatory boards to formulate or review its tricycle route plan.

The task force will be composed of the mayor as chairman, the chief of police as vice-chairman, while the Sanggunian’s committee chair on transportation or public safety, the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, the head of the tricycle regulatory board, the head of the Department of Public Order and Safety, the planning and development officer, the head of the traffic management office, and the local government operations officer will be its members.

Representatives of the transportation department and its attached agencies will function as resource persons of the task force, while the head of the city or municipal legal office shall provide secretariat support.

The DILG Chief added that the task force should meet with stakeholders and rationalize all tricycle routes to enforce the ban, identify national roads within the jurisdiction of the LGU, and determine the present and proposed routes in view of drafting a tricycle route plan (TRP) within 30 days from the issuance of the memorandum.

He added that the TRP should include a schematic map of the location of tricycle terminals, the national highways and the portions thereof to be used by tricycles if there is no alternative route.

The installation of appropriate signages, marks for lanes and other safety features to guide all vehicles must also be detailed in the plan as well as create awareness among residents and motorists of new tricycle routes or portions of highways allowed to tricycles because of lack of alternative route; a color scheme or emblem for tricycles that ply a route traversing a national highway; and penalties for violators.

Non-compliance to the latest directive will warrant the issuance of a show-cause order, Año said. “Failure to provide a sufficient response shall be a ground for the filing of appropriate administrative cases pursuant to Section 60 of the Local Government Code and other laws and policies,” he warned.

He also said that compliance with the trike ban order will form part of the assessment LGUs’ compliance to the implementation of the presidential directive on road clearing.

Coronavirus scare reduces NAIA passenger traffic —MIAA

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has reduced passenger traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said Wednesday.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said that from January 27 to February 17, the country’s main gateway only handled a total of 1,352,692 international passengers compared to 1,624,698 passengers in the same period in 2019.

Domestic passenger traffic at NAIA also went down to 1,406,876 from January 27 to February 17 compared with 1,456,705 in the same period last year.

“It’s a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there’s still time to recover and hopefully, we’ll be able to recover soon,” Monreal told reporters at a Palace briefing.

The MIAA chief added that the aviation sector is now slowly recovering from its losses after the government fully lifted the travel restrictions on Taiwan, and allowed Filipino overseas workers, students and permanent residents to leave for Hong Kong and Macau.

“So ngayon po, slowly recovering dahil sa mga pagbabago at panukala dahil sa mga pag-uusap ng task force na ipinatutupad ng task force and hopefully our local tourism will recover soon,” he said.

The Philippine government earlier implemented an entry ban for passengers who traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

It later expanded the travel ban to include Taiwan but was eventually lifted on February 14.

On Tuesday, the government announced that Filipino workers, students and permanent residents bound for Hong Kong and Macau are exempted from the outbound travel ban “subject to certain procedural formalities.”

Meanwhile, Monreal expressed hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease will find a solution to the concerns raised by local airline companies on the safety protocols relating to the travel of its crew to Hong Kong and Macau.

Local carriers have earlier expressed concern on the reduced number of personnel if their crewmembers will constantly be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period after their flights to and from Hong Kong and Macau.  

“Kung ganoon po ang proseso na mayroon pa ho silang quarantine yung mga crew, medyo mahihirapan po sila na magmount ng flights dito kahit po may temporary lifting ng mga pasahero na papunta ng Hong Kong at pabalik po,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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