THE success or failure of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in the entire Luzon lies in the efficient handling of local government units (LGUs) and the PNP, the Department of Interior and Local Government said yesterday.
DILG spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the regulation is a big challenge to local executives and the police, who are at the frontline in ensuring that strict home quarantine and border restrictions are followed.
To encourage households to stay home, Malaya said, LGUs should go out of their way to assure families that they will get assistance from the government and come up with an orderly system of distributing relief items that will not compromise the social distancing protocol.
Reports have reached the DILG that the initial distribution of goods in the LGUs were disorganized and allowed for residents to get close contacts with each other. “Because there is no system, the social distancing was compromised,” Malaya said.
“The best system is for the LGU to bring the food to the barangays and it will be the barangays that will distribute house to house. That is the best approach. If we are going to ask the people to line up at the town or city hall, it will not be orderly,” he added.
“We need a system where the people will stay in their house, deliver the food to them. Come up with a system that will not defeat the purpose of the (enhanced community) quarantine,” he also said.
Malaya assured local governments that funds are available for their community assistance initiatives.
In the instance that the LGUs’ quick response fund (QRFs) has already been depleted, Malaya said city and town mayors may re-align budgets allocated for social community projects, such as beautification and road improvement undertakings.
Local governments can now tap their QRFs for initiatives that will help contain the spread of the COVID virus after President Duterte declared a national state of calamity amid the growing threat of the COVID-19.
“If (QRF) is not enough, they can re-align. The mayors may call the council in a special session and re-align funds for beautification projects, and concreting (projects). They can re-align for the needs of their constituents. We’re appealing to the LGUs (local government units) to re-align budgets to ease the burden of their constituents during the quarantine,” Malaya said.
Malaya said LGUs and the Department of Social Welfare and Development will take turns in the distribution of relief goods to indigent families. “Next week, the DSWD will enter the picture to help. As of now, the DSWD is packing food,” he said.
Likewise, Malaya said policemen are now coming up with measures to address problems they faced during the initial days of the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
“For the past several days, we are on total lockdown, we have given solution to the problems we earlier faced…..The (delivery) truck can now pass the checkpoints unhampered,” he said.
PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said policemen will scale down inspection at control and checkpoints in key areas once they see that the people are more compliant with the ECQ guidelines.
“As of now, many are still trying to pass (the checkpoints) though they are not authorized. Once we see that all the people passing there are authorized, we will loosen (the checking),” he said.
“Once we see that everybody who are supposed to be on quarantine, who are not authorized, are staying in their homes, that’s the time (that) our policemen will just observe and ensure no crimes occur,” Eleazar said.
RECRUITMENT SECTOR EXEMPTED
With overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) now allowed to leave anytime, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said personnel of recruitment and manning agencies will be allowed to leave their homes and go to their offices.
Based on Memorandum Circular No. 07-2020, the POEA said workers of private recruitment agencies and manning agencies may be allowed local travel to their offices despite the ECQ.
“Proof of employment should be readily presented to authorities at the checkpoints,” the circular mandated.
It explained that recruitment and manning agency personnel were included in the exemption to enable them to process OFW documents, transact with banks, and prepare OFW payrolls for salaries/allotments.
The POEA, however, stressed that this does not mean that they are no longer subjected to stringent social distancing measures and enhanced community quarantine protocols.
The POEA said all OFWs scheduled to depart shall be allowed to travel and head to any of the international airports in Luzon. “Proof of confirmed international itinerary of the traveling OFW should be readily presented at checkpoints,” it added.
It likewise said departing OFWs must have undergone POEA processes in the issuance of overseas employment certificates. – With Gerard Naval