LGUs urged to pass ordinance on mandatory use of face mask in public

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2020   •   423

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged the local government units (LGU) to pass an ordinance requiring their constituents to wear face masks in public as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the issuance of a local policy will help combat the spread of the virus.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) earlier issued a resolution on the mandatory use of face mask in public to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Año said that with the surging number of infections in the country, LGUs must adapt and respond to challenges posed by the public health crisis, such as drafting of the said ordinance.

“We must be vigilant. Hindi biro ang coronavirus na ito kaya hinihikayat ko ang mga LGU na tiyakin na ang kanilang mga kababayan ay laging nakasuot ng face mask kapag sila ay lalabas sa pamamagitan ng pagsasabatas ng ordinansa ukol dito. This is our small way of ensuring that the virus will not spread,” Año said.

He also said that the government will accept home-made or improvised face masks as long as the people use it in public.

“Coupled with the other mechanisms currently existing in line with the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) such as physical distancing, usage of quarantine passes, and encouraging people to stay at home, among others, the mandatory wearing of face masks whenever people are outside is an additional measure that can be practiced within the community,” he added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) initially recommended that community-level usage of face masks is not encouraged, noting that it should only be worn by health care workers and people who are ill.

Año however, noted reports that the WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are mulling on changing their stand on the usage of face masks in controlling coronavirus following a study which suggests that droplets from coughs and sneezes from an infected person could be projected further than originally thought.

“Despite the fact that people generally are staying at home, hindi pa rin naman natin maiiwasan na minsan ay lumabas sila para bumili ng pagkain at ibang essentials at maaari itong maging pagkakataon para maipasa ang virus kaya lubhang napakahalaga ng pagsusuot ng face masks,” he said.

The Philippine National Police echoed the DILG’s call to LGUs, saying police officers can only reprimand people who do not wear face masks in public in the absence of an ordinance.

“Sa ngayon, what we can do is to caution them, para sila ay pauwiin or deny them entry sa ating mga quarantine controlled points,” said Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar who heads the Joint Task Force Coronavirus Shield.

DILG orders LGUs to submit liquidation reports on cash aid until May 28

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday reminded the local government units (LGU) that they only have until May 28 to submit their liquidation reports on the distribution of the first tranche of government emergency subsidy under the social amelioration program (SAP).

In a statement, DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año issued the directive as the government prepares to release the second tranche of the cash assistance.

“As per directive of Secretary Eduardo Año, kailangang tapusin na ng mga LGUs ngayon ang liquidation report nila ng first tranche at isubmit na nila ito pati na ang encoded list of beneficiaries sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” Malaya said.

“Only then can we proceed with the 2nd tranche,” he added.

The DSWD earlier called on LGUs to expedite the encoding and transmittal of their liquidation reports as these would be used for the validation of beneficiaries and checking of the disbursement for the release of SAP’s second tranche.

The SAP is part of the government’s efforts to assist families heavily affected by the community quarantines due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The DSWD said the validation and vetting process by its field offices can only be done when the data per LGU have been submitted in its entirety.

The department noted that the process will take approximately 15 days since validation on municipal, provincial, and regional levels takes place at the field office levels.

Based on reports from the DSWD, the DILG said only 472 out of the 1,634 LGUs nationwide have so far submitted their liquidation reports to that agency as of May 26, 2020.

Malaya said that he hopes that the payout of the 2nd tranche of SAP cash aid would be more efficient and systematic considering that LGUs must have already learned lessons and ironed out the kinks and lapses during the first payout.

“We recognize the huge difficulties encountered by LGUs in the SAP distribution of the first tranche. It is quite understandable because this is the biggest financial cash aid for poor families in the country’s history,” he said.

“Pero ngayon inaasahan namin na mas magiging mabilis na ang proseso dahil pinagdaanan na nila ito at alam na nila ngayon kung paano mas magiging maayos at sistematiko ang pamamahagi ng SAP,” he said.

Malaya also said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will assist the DSWD and the LGUs during the distribution of the 2nd tranche in geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas of the country. 

“Nakahanda naman po ang ating kapulisan para alalayan ang DSWD at mga LGUs sa pamimigay ng ayuda sa mga malalayo at ilang lugar sa ating bansa para masiguro na matatanggap ito ng ating mga kababayan,” he said.

The DILG official also said that LGUs are likewise asked to accept returns of SAP cash aid by beneficiaries who received similar benefits from other government agencies such as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures program, and Social Security System’s Small Business Wage Subsidy program.

He said that by returning their SAP aid, these beneficiaries ensure that other families who are also in need of assistance will be given the emergency subsidy.

“Every unreturned amount means that a similar family in need is deprived of cash aid,” he said.

Malaya said that all returned cash subsidies may be given by LGUs to “left-out” families within their jurisdiction prior to liquidation, provided they are qualified to receive the SAP based on DSWD guidelines.

For cash aid returned by beneficiaries after the liquidation by LGUs, Malaya said this shall be remitted to DSWD field offices.  “An official receipt must be issued to the beneficiaries as proof of refund,” he said.

Stranded individuals at returning OFWs lang ang obligadong kumuha ng travel pass – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Mga locally-stranded individual at returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) lamang ang kinaikailangang kumuha ng travel authority mula sa Philippine National Police upang makauwi sa kani-kanilang probinsiya, ayon sa Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Ginawa ni DILG Secretary Eduardo Año ang paglilinaw matapos bahain ng mga tanong ang 24/7 Emergency Operations Center at social media account ng ahensiya tungkol sa pagkuha ng travel passes sa gitna ng pagbabalik-operasyon ng maraming industriya at negosyo.

Sa isang pahayag ngayong Huwebes, binigyang-diin ni Año na company identification card at iba pang dokumento lamang ang kailangang ipakita ng mga empleyadong nagbabalik-trabaho upang makalusot sa quarantine control points (QCP) ng Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Hindi na nila (empleyadong nagbabalik-trabaho) kailangan ng travel authority. Sapat na na ipakita nila ang kanilang company ID o certificate of employment sa mga QCPs bilang patunay na sila ay Authorized Person Outside of Residence (APOR),” sabi ni Año. 

Sinabi rin ng kalihim na nakikipag-ugnayan na ang DILG sa mga lokal na pamahalaan upang linawin ang patakaran sa pagkuha ng travel pass matapos mapaulat ang pagpila ng dalawang araw ng mga residente sa Rodriguez, Rizal na namamasukan sa Metro Manila para lang makakuha ng travel authority.

“Kung kayo ay papasok sa trabaho, ipakita ninyo lang ang inyong company IDs o anumang dokumento na nagpapatunay na kayo ay nagtratrabaho sa isang industriyang pinapahintulutan ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) na mag-operate,” ani Año.

Pagtitiyak ng kalihim, may hawak na listahan ng mga industriyang ito ang mga security personnel na naka-duty sa checkpoints.

Kabilang sa mga industriyang pinayagang mag-operate sa ilalim ng modified enhanced community quarantine at general community quarantine ay ang food and agriculture, manufacturing, utilities, banks at money-transfer.

Pinag-aaralan pa ng pamahalaan kung papayagan na ring magbukas ang barber shops at beauty salon pati na ang dine-in services sa mga restaurant.

Ayon naman sa tagapagsalita ng DILG na si Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, sa local police stations pino-proseso ang aplikasyon ng travel authority habang sa city o municipal health office naman dapat kunin ang medical clearance.

“Dahil sa direktiba ni Secretary Ano, ang PNP ay naglagay ng helps desks sa lahat ng police station sa buong bansa upang tulungan ang mga stranded individuals. Kailangan ninyo lang isubmit ang inyong medical clearance mula sa mga city/ municipal health office bilang supporting documents,” ani Malaya.

Nilinaw din ng opisyal na lahat ng OFW na nag-negatibo sa COVID-19 test at may hawak na kopya ng test results ay hindi na kailangan pang dumaan sa quarantine ng LGU kapag nakarating na sa kani-kanilang destinasyon.

“Iyon lamang mga OFW na kulang ang dokumento ang dapat ma-quarantine habang naghihintay ng resulta. Pero ang mga resulta ay on-line na kaya’t dapat ay wala ng problema,” sabi ni Malaya.

Siniguro din ng DILG na ang lahat ng stranded individuals ay makakapasok sa kanilang mga lugar hangga’t mayroon silang mga kaukulang dokumento na pinanghahawakan.

ECQ areas might downgrade to GCQ by June —DILG

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 26, 2020

Areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) might be put under General Community Quarantine by June, according to the Deparment of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In a virtual press briefing on Tuesday (May 26), DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said they are looking into implementin lockdowns in specific areas with high coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

“Kahit iyan ay naka-GCQ, pwede pa rin mag-declare ang mga local chief executive ng critical areas. Ito iyong mga lugar na mayroong 20 or plus na cases, (Even if [the area] is under GCQ, local chief executives can still declare critical areas. These are areas with 20 or plus cases)” he said.

There will also be lesser number of checkpoints by June, the DILG secretary added. From checkpoints situated in every boundaries of cities, it will be limited to specific areas.

“Mayroon tayong tinatawag na modified checkpoints para hindi na masyadong magbuhol-buhol ang trapiko, (We have something that we call modified checkpoints to ease the traffic)” Año said. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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