DILG extends deadline of road clearing ops to Jan. 22

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2021   •   313

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday said it has granted a one-week extension on the deadline for the road clearing operations following requests by local government units (LGU) to give them more time to clear roads of obstructions.

The DILG said that instead of January 15, LGUs have been given until January 22 to complete their road clearing efforts.

“We extended the deadline for road clearing operations 2.0 because these are extraordinary times; we are in a pandemic and LGUs have a lot on their plate. We understand the request so the Department granted it,” DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a statement.

The DILG announced in November last year the resumption of nationwide road clearing operations, giving the LGUs 60 days to comply with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to rid streets of illegal obstructions.

“This is, in a way, a little help to the LGUs so that they have more time to comply with the President’s directive,” Malaya said.

The validation period will be on January 25 to February 5, he added.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año previously said that the road clearing operations now are different due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said full implementation of the road clearing operations is enforced in areas under modified general community quarantine. Partial implementation is executed in areas under general community quarantine while road clearing operations in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine and enhanced community quarantine are suspended.

Malaya said that prior to the start of the validation period, the DILG will create validation teams in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), for each province, city and municipality.

“This time around mayroon tayong validation teams na established at cross-posted, meaning, kung taga-Quezon City sila hindi sila puwede mag-validate sa QC, dapat nasa Taguig City sila o alin mang ibang lungsod,” he said.

Among the validation requisites are the actual removal of road obstructions; enactment of an enabling ordinance; conduct of an inventory of road obstructions; crafting and implementation of a displacement plan; rehabilitation of cleared roads; creation of a grievance mechanism; as well as the Tricycle Route Plan, the DILG said.

Tourism dept. backs DILG move to streamline travel requirements

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has expressed its support for the move of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to streamline the travel procedures and requirements being imposed by local government units (LGU).

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said her department has long been advocating for the “simplification of travel requirement as this is critical in making domestic tourism work.”

Citing a survey conducted from November 28 to December 30, 2020, Puyat said that 81 percent of respondents consider the varying LGU requirements as the factor that makes travel most inconvenient.

The survey was conducted by the DOT in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, and Guide to the Philippines.

Among the common travel requirements being imposed by the LGUs are the medical certificate, other types of pre-travel or test-on-arrival COVID tests and quarantine.  

At the destinations, some rules that need to be standardized are those that relate to RT-PCR for children/infant, rooming or capacity limits and age restrictions vis-à-vis inter- and intra-regional movement of domestic tourists, the DOT said.

“Streamlining entry requirements will make travelling in the new normal more convenient while also protecting the public’s safety and well-being,” Puyat said.

“Furthermore, this will also help in preventing the entry of those who falsify documents by standardizing validation protocols,” she added.

The DILG earlier expressed support for proposals to place the entire country under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) classification to “harmonize” regulations being implemented by LGUs.

DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said there is a need to remove “redundancies” and impose less stringent requirements for domestic tourist travel, while managing health risks at the same time.

He, however, emphasized that the less restrictive quarantine classification would not mean abandoning health protocols but simply streamlining regulations to bring back jobs and revive the economy battered by the pandemic.

The DILG said works on streamlining regulations for domestic travel are ongoing to encourage tourism and revive the sector, as well as the country’s economy in general.

DILG orders PNP to arrest sellers of fake COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest individuals who are selling or administering fake vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The DILG issued the warning following reports that fake COVID-19 vaccines are being circulated in the market amid an increase in demand and preparations for the rollout of the vaccination program in the country.

DILG officer-in-charge and Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. said the PNP and the local government units must be on top of the hunt and arrest peddlers of bogus vaccines.

“Some people are taking advantage of the pandemic to make money by selling fake vaccines. I am directing the PNP to arrest these criminals and ensure that these bogus vaccines are taken off the market,” Florece said in a statement.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto earlier expressed alarm over the supposed sale of fake vaccines.

In his Twitter account, Sotto posted a photo of the alleged bogus Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines with a warning to the public not to purchase them.

Florece said the PNP should work double time to ensure that no fake vaccines are sold to the public as part of its task to secure COVID-19 vaccines.

He also directed the PNP Aviation Security Group and Maritime Group to enhance their monitoring of the country’s air and sea ports to prevent the entry of these items.

“Nauna na nating ipinaalala ang pagtutulungan ng PNP at mga LGU sa pag-secure ng mga bakuna but the two must also collaborate to ensure that fake vaccines are confiscated and those responsible arrested and charged,” he said.

Florece also urged the public not to buy these vaccines and immediately report these sellers to authorities.

“Huwag po kayong magpapaloko. Tanging sa pamahalaan lamang po dadaan ang mga lehitimong bakuna at maliban dito ay ireport ninyo po ang mga nagbebenta at nagtuturok ng mga pekeng COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.


LGUs urged to support COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Robie de Guzman   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday urged local government units (LGU) to support the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) solidarity trial for COVID-19 vaccine and other independent vaccine trials.

The DILG said that this in line with the memorandum of agreement between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and DILG on the zoning and implementation of vaccine trials where all cities in Metro Manila, including the municipality of Pateros, Davao City, and the provinces of Cebu and Cavite have been identified as areas of implementation for vaccine trials.

According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, vaccine recipients for the WHO Solidarity Trial will be recruited from the top 5 to 10 barangays with high COVID-19 cases identified by the Department of Health-Bureau of Epidemiology (DOH-EB).

Malaya stressed that coordination with LGUs, especially at the barangay level, is vital in the success of the vaccine clinical trials.

“We need the full support of our LGUs since trial sites will be at the barangay level and randomization will be by households. The household census will also be obtained from the barangays to ensure follow up,” he said in a statement.

Malaya clarified that the vaccine solidarity trials are different from the government’s vaccination program, as the trials are for candidate vaccines to test their efficacy and safety while the national vaccination program are for vaccines that are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The DILG said some 15,000 volunteers aged 18 to 59 years will be involved the country’s WHO solidarity trials, which is a global effort to evaluate the safety and efficacy of candidate vaccines which are not yet approved by the FDA.

Independent clinical trials by private vaccine companies may also be assigned trial zones to ensure equal and rational distribution to avoid competition in subject recruitment.

In Memorandum Circular No. 2021-011, DILG officer-in-charge Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. urged identified LGUs to provide logistic support or other non-monetary assistance needed by the project teams through transportation of potential participants to the trial sites for screening, vaccination, and scheduled follow-up visit.

LGUs are also enjoined to assist in locating participants who do not come to the trial site for the scheduled visit and bringing participants to the hospital site in the event of an exposure to or presentation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or the development of adverse reactions.

Local government units are likewise encouraged to assist, in coordination with the project team, in organizing meetings related to the clinical trials such as the orientation of potential participants.

“Inaasahan po namin ang inyong buong suporta at pakikiisa upang maging matagumpay ang mga vaccine trials sa ating bansa. Ipakita po natin ang tunay na diwa ng bayanihan sa ating patuloy na pagtugon sa pandemiyang ito,” Malaya said.

For monitoring purposes, the DILG has directed all its concerned regional offices to submit monthly situation reports regarding the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine trials in their respective areas of jurisdiction to the DILG Central Office through the Bureau of Local Government Development.

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