By Ellson Quismorio
House of Representatives members on Friday galvanized the country’s barangay captains as they underscored their crucial task ensuring food supply in their respective areas during the month-long enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.
Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor, Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo, and Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles all agree that the ECQ is the time for the barangay leaders to step up.
“Yes it should be [their time to shine]. Especially the local officials who should rally them,” said Defensor, chairman of the House Community on Public Accounts.
One of the sternest instructions of President Duterte in connection with the ECQ was for country’s barangay chairmen to ensure that their constituents won’t go hungry. This was in light of the consequent work stoppage and mass transportation suspension during the quarantine period.
Duterte’s somewhat daunting directive began to take better shape after he placed the entire Philippines under a state of calamity because of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The Palace move allows local government units (LGUs) to tap into their quick response funds.
The ECQ is meant to slow down the spread of COVID-19 cases in the country. The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded over 200 cases of the deadly illness, which still has no vaccine or working treatment.
“The President was right in tapping the barangays. I have complete faith and trust in barangays that they will rise to the occasion,” Castelo said.
“At this time of crisis everyone is called to help and contribute including the barangay. We continue to help them in this challenging time,” added the lady solon.
“With the declaration of a state of calamity, then whatever funds they access should prioritize the food of the residents. But guidelines should come along soon so there won’t be any misinterpretation,” said Nograles.
Alluding to the difficult task assigned to the village chieftains, the Mindanao lawmaker said: “Most of what’s happening now is not the regular duty of any government or private person. As far as I know, our oath of office calls for us to serve the people.”
The ECQ began last March 17 and will end on April 13. Ang Probinsyano Party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong suggested that, during that window, barangays could set up monitoring and help desks to cater to residents who feel that they may have been infected by the COVID-19 virus.
“If we can promptly detect the disease and isolate those infected in our barangays, we would have a better chance to minimize the opportunity for this dreaded virus to spread further to other communities,” Ong said.
“If test kits are already available, they can administer tests with the help of health professionals but if not, these barangay monitoring and help desks can help implement quarantine protocols until after the DOH conducts proper testing,” he added.