21 COVID-19 test labs begin operations—DILG

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020   •   308

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that 21 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratories have begun operations in various areas in the country.

Out of the 21 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) laboratories, 14 of them are in Luzon, 3 in Visayas, and 4 in Mindanao. DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said there are currently a total of 130 licensed COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country.

Batid po natin na sa community transmission talaga malakas ang hawaan nitong COVID-19. Kaya magandang balita po ito na pinapalakas ng ating mga lokal na pamahalaan ang kanilang kapasidad upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng taumbayan (We know that community transmission of COVID-19 is really high. It is good news that our local government units are boosting their capacity to address the needs of the citizens),” he said.

Año also said the daily number of COVID-19 tests has reached over 30,000. Twenty more COVID-19 testing laboratories are currently being reviewed by the Department of Health. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Nationwide road-clearing ops to resume on Nov. 16 – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday directed local government units (LGU) to resume their road-clearing operations after more than seven months of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the resumption of road clearing operations will officially start on November 16, depending on the quarantine classification of LGUs.

LGUs will have about two months or until January 15, 2021 to comply with the directive, he added.

“We hope that the LGUs, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, will show the same enthusiasm and positive results that they were able to achieve last year as we aim for safer and accessible roads free from illegal and potentially hazardous encroachments,” Año said in a statement.

“Despite the January 15 deadline, we wish to remind the LGUs that road-clearing operation is year-long endeavor, kaya kailangan natin ang kanilang commitment at pakikiisa,” he added.

Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-145, Año said that the resumption of road-clearing operations will vary, in different degrees, depending on the quarantine classification of a certain area.

Areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) levels should render full implementation of road clearing operations.

Those under general community quarantine (GCQ) will execute the partial implementation of the program while the road-clearing efforts in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and ECQ will remain suspended.

Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire National Capital Region and other areas of the country under GCQ for the whole month of November with no region in the country placed under the strictest community quarantine classification.

Under the DILG memorandum, road obstructions such as vehicular terminals except in areas designated by the LGUs; vending sites; house encroachments that obstruct the right-of-way; debris, waste materials, and other junked items, among others must be cleared off roadways.

Structures or obstructions erected for locally stranded individuals must also be removed upon return to their intended destination.

Parked ambulance and public emergency vehicles; checkpoints established by IATF, LGUs, PNP, and AFP; and temporary obstructions caused by the establishment of bike lanes, however, are exempted from removal, the DILG said.

Año said that results of road clearing efforts conducted by the LGU will be subjected to validation from January 18 to 22, 2021.

The DILG chief reiterated that LGUs that will fail to comply with the presidential directive will face administrative charges.

In his State of the Nation Address last year, Duterte ordered the DILG and LGUs to reclaim all public roads being used for private ends.

The road clearing operations were suspended in March in line with efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

LGUs, public warned vs extortionists pretending to be DILG execs

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday warned the public and local government units of individuals allegedly posing as DILG senior officials and offering to provide emergency relief aid in exchange for money.

DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya issued the warning following reports from the department’s regional and field offices and LGUs on receiving calls or messages from people pretending to be DILG officials supposedly arranging for COVID-19 or emergency assistance.

“Pinapayuhan po natin ang ating mga LGUs at ang publiko na mag-ingat sa mga walang hiyang mandurugas na sindikato na nagpapakilalang taga DILG at nangingikil ng pera kapalit ng umano’y ayuda,” Malaya said in a statement.

“Kahit po ang inyong lingkod ay ilang beses ng ginamit ang pangalan para makapanloko. Kailanman ay hindi tayo nanghihingi ng pera sa kahit sinong Mayor, Vice Mayor, o kapitan kapalit ng serbisyo publiko na binibigay ng DILG,” he added.

Malaya cited the report of Tuburan, Cebu Mayor Danilo Diamante who received repeated calls from someone who introduced himself as a DILG undersecretary.

Malaya said the caller asked Diamante for money supposedly to cover for the shipping of 1,500 cavans of rice to be given as assistance to his town. The caller also allegedly instructed the mayor to pin a certain SB member for alleged involvement in illegal drugs, which the latter vehemently denied.

The DILG official said the Philippine National Police-Crime Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has been alerted about the matter.

He also urged LGUs and the public to be wary and to verify first with the DILG if they happen to be contacted by a person claiming to be connected to the department.

“Kung sinuman sa inyo ang makatanggap ng tawag o texts sa mga taong nagpakilalang ako o sinuman sa mga DILG top officials, magsumbong o makipag-ugnayan po kayo kaagad sa pinakamalapit na police station para mahuli at maparusahan ang mga impostor na ito,” he said.

Malaya clarified that the DILG routes official communications to its regional and field offices and all LGUs via official channels and not through mere texts or calls.

DILG tells LGUs: Ensure all cemeteries are closed during Undas

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday directed all local government units (LGU) and police commanders to make sure that all private and public cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums are closed during the Undas period.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año reminded local authorities to close cemeteries from October 29 to November 4 to prevent any form of mass gathering amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, as previously ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“September pa lang po nagbigay na ng kautusan ang Pangulo. We expect all LGUs to cooperate by ensuring that cemeteries within their localities are closed. Ito’y para walang mass gathering ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” Año said.

He also mandated all police chiefs across the country to make sure that health and safety protocols are strictly enforced as people begin to flock to cemeteries for the observation of Undas ahead of the closure period.

“The local police commanders and the mayors by now should have discussed the rules that would be implemented per locality but all these local rules that would be crafted should conform to the guidelines set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force),” he said.

The number of visitors in cemeteries, memorial parks, and columbariums shall also be limited to only 30 percent of the venue’s capacity, with all those entering required to wear face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing.

Año also said that PNP assistance desks must be set up with regular foot patrol to ensure that IATF regulations on the number of people are followed.

The DILG chief said Undas this year will be different from the usual observance as he urged the public for their consideration and patience since the health crisis is not yet over.

“During the pandemic, we are asking for the people’s cooperation by not going to the cemeteries, staying at home from October 29 to November 4, 2020, and visiting their departed relatives days before or weeks after the closure,” he said.

“Maaari naman pong makadalaw sa mga sementeryo ang ating mga kababayan kahit anong edad bago o matapos ang itinakda at ipinagbabawal na mga araw. Ito naman po ay para rin sa kabutihan ng nakararami,” he added.

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