By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on April 8, Wednesday, stressed the need to empower barangay officials to respond to all types of disasters, especially to situations similar to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatchalian said local government units (LGUs), from the city or municipality level down to the barangay level, play a very important role.
“I think [what is] most important here is to [enable] our barangay tanods [to respond to] all types of disasters. Kasi kabisado nila (They know the localities better),” Gatchalian said in an interview over OneNewsPH.
“This kind of pandemic is really something new for them and I think one of the most important learnings we [got] here in Valenzuela is, not only to give hazard pay, the usual salaries to our barangays or the usual allowances, but also make sure that they are [enabled], alam nila ang gagawin nila (that they know what to do), they have the equipment,” the senator stressed.
“And the most important is to also protect their families, who are also exposed when they’re exposed,” he pointed out.
As the government extends the enhanced community quarantine until April 30, the lawmaker said the role of barangay officials in managing COVID-19 cases at the local level during this period is essential.
“Dito talaga malaki ang role ng ating mga barangay officials, especially the tanods, because if they can enforce the ECQ in the local level, meaning walang lalabas, lalabas lang pag bibili ng pagkain, bibili ng gamot. If they can now make sure that everyone stays home, that would be the best case for us,” Gatchalian said.
He reiterated that these barangay officials are also considered frontliners who need the government’s support during the COVID-19 crisis, as they are more exposed to patients under monitoring (PUMs) and patients under investigation (PUIs) in their local communities.
“And it’s difficult to detect who they are—sino ba nai-infect nila? Kaya yung mga barangay tanods natin, yung mga officials natin, are also frontliners who are exposed to these potential patients,” he said.