LGU’s communication system on disaster preparedness and response needs improvement — Año

Marje Pelayo   •   November 2, 2020   •   304

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recommends a restructuring of the communication system of local government units (LGU) given what happened in the recent lashing of a super typhoon.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año noted the importance of having an effective communication system especially in times of disasters and calamities from preparations to post assessment.

“Iyan ang i-improve natin, kung papaano tayo magkakaroon ng tuloy-tuloy na communication [That is what we need to improve – how to maintain continuous flow of communication],” Año said.

“Kahit na wala na ang telephone signal, mayroon pa ring dapat ang radio communication. Isa (iyan) sa dapat nating i-revive bukod sa satellite communication [Even when telephone signal is cut, we must have radio communication. That’s one thing we need to revive aside from satellite communication],” he added.

Despite this, the Duterte administration remains positive over how LGUs responded to the onset of the super typhoon.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, early preparations by local authorities helped reduce the impact of the calamity even in Metro Manila.

Ang paningin ng presidente (As for the President), he would like to commend all the local government units, all departments and agencies of the government, dahil napakita natin na dahil sa kahandaan, nabawasan ang aberya [our preparedness have lessened the problem],” Roque said.

“The goal should be zero casualty, pero tingin ko po dahil nagkaroon ng forced evacuation, nabawasan po talaga ang ating casualty sa bagyong ito [The goal was zero casualty but I believe because of forced evacuation, there were a few casualty from this typhoon],” he added.

The DILG, moreover, commended the performance of LGUs in the overall response against the typhoon.

“Maganda ang performance ng ating LGUs. As early as October 30, nagsisimula na tayo ng forced evacuation in fact kahit sa lugar na lumihis ang bagyo tulad ng NCR, tuloy ang kanilang evacuation [Our LGUs have been performing well. As early as October 30, we started forced evacuation. In fact, even in areas not directly hit by the typhoon like NCR, evacuation has been ongoing],” Secretary Año said.

Meanwhile, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad defended the absence of President Rodrigo Duterte during the Typhoon Rolly briefings.

The President drew flak on social media for his alleged non-appearance in public while the typhoon was battering the country thus the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo.

Undersecretary Jalad said all concerned agencies have been active throughout the onslaught of the typhoon from the national government down to the LGUs.

“Hindi dapat mangamba ang ating mga kababayan kung bakit hindi nila nakikita si [There is nothing to worry as to why rhet are not seeing the] President because he has that luxury. The government is functioning from the local government units up to the national level,” Jalad concluded. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

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.

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.

LGUs await EO on payment for COVID-19 vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units (LGUs) are all set to pay for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines once the delivery arrives.

Most LGUs in Metro Manila and in other regions have entered into a tripartite agreement with Astrazeneca for the vaccine supply.

According to San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, the contract requires LGUs to pay 20% of the total amount as down payment.

However, only 15% down payment is allowed under the Philippine procurement law.

“May pera naman ang LGUs. May pera ang national government. Ang tanong na lang: Ano ba ang tamang prosesong papagdaanan upang hindi naman din kami makasuhan bilang mga mayor?” Zamora said.

For his part, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos Jr. assured that Malacanang will issue an executive order regarding the payment for the vaccines.

He said local chief executives have nothing to worry about because President Rodrigo Duterte has the authority to allow any payment higher than the 15% down payment without violating the procurement law.

“Dahil may kalamidad po tayo itong pandemic, pwede namang taasan ng Presidente ito dahil tumutulong na lang ang mga Alkalde at Tripartite naman ito,” Abalos said.

“Bago mag-advance payment para hindi naman mapahamak ang ating mga mayor ay gagawa ng Executive Order. Nakausap ko na si Executive Secretary noong isang araw nakita ko na yung draft at ilalabas na ito. Nothing to worry about dito,” he assured.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Allan Velasco recently filed House Bill 8648 or the Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021.

The proposed measure will allow LGUs to directly procure vaccines from pharmaceutical companies.

Once enacted into law, the bidding process for the procurement of vaccines will be shortened. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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