DILG: LGUs to take lead in protecting their communities under GCQ

Eduardo AñoThe Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) asked local officials to step up their efforts and take the lead in the campaign against the spread of COVID-19 in their communities as the government prepares to shift to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in the National Capital Region, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said today.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that LGUs should strictly implement the minimum health standards in their communities such as the use of face masks in public places, curfew implementation, the maintenance of physical distancing in markets and other public places, one-passenger rule in tricycles, among others.

Transitioning to general community quarantine (GCQ) means relaxing the movement of people and local officials must make sure the freer movement of people won’t result in bigger numbers of COVID-19 infection in their communities, Año said.

“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 kaso ng COVID-19 sa inyong komunidad,” Año stressed.

He also said that LGUs must utilize their authority to impose localized lockdowns in critical barangays so long as there is concurrence with the regional IATF.

“We cannot let our guards 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,” Año said.

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 health measures to protect the health of citizens in their communities.

He urged local officials 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 further 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.

In implementing the GCQ, local officials must put in place steps to ensure full compliance with bio-safety and physical distancing rules, including the placing of visual cues in places where crowds could gather as well as the deployment of marshalls to enforce health regulations, the DILG Secretary pointed out. Local officials must prepare to deploy more policemen and barangay tanods and other force multipliers in places where crowds always gather to ensure public order and monitor physical distancing and bio-safety compliance in those places, he said.

These places include banks, ATMs, supermarkets, public markets, drug stores, and pharmacies, clinics, and other places frequented by people for their basic needs, he added.

Año pointed out that we are winning the war against COVID-19 but local officials must be on guard against anything that will cause a spike in cases in their communities.

He 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,” Año stressed.

The public, on the other hand, must cooperate with authorities at all times but be vigilant against officials who will fail in their performing their jobs, he said.

“This protection against COVID-19 is a two-way street that requires all of us to help and cooperate. This is how we make our communities and our nation stronger in dealing with this crisis,” he concluded.