By Genalyn Kabiling
Hundreds of government workers will soon be deployed to assist in the newly-established mega swabbing centers in the country.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has reportedly issued a memorandum ordering Cabinet members to submit a list of personnel who will be temporarily assigned to these health facilities.
The government workers are expected to undergo special training and will be given protective equipment, hazard pay, among others, during their deployment to these centers that aim to strengthen the country’s testing capacity for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The memorandum addressed to the Cabinet members was signed by Medialdea last May 5. A copy of the document was obtained by the Manila Bulletin.
“The members of the Cabinet are hereby directed to each submit to the Office of the President within 24 hours from the issuance of this Memorandum, a list of at least 100 personnel who shall be assigned as encoders or barcoders in the centers subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations,” a copy of the memorandum read.
The list of workers “may include personnel from the respective departments of offices, including agencies, government owned or controlled corporations, and government financial institutions under your supervision,” the memo read.
The latest Palace directive was issued following an agreement among the Cabinet members and concerned agencies to tap government personnel for the operations of the mega swabbing centers during a meeting last May 4. Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the government’s policy against the coronavirus, earlier requested for assistance in deploying personnel to these facilities.
In the Palace memo, the government workers will be given the “necessary trainings, protective medical equipment, accommodation, food, and transportation.”
The government also intends to grant COVID-19 hazard pay and/or special risk allowance as may applicable to the workers who will be deployed to these facilities.
The Palace earlier granted a COVID-19 hazard pay of P500 for state workers who physically report for work during the enhanced community quarantine. Administrative Order No. 28 also authorized the granting of one-time COVID-19 special risk allowance equivalent to a maximum of 25 percent of the monthly basic pay to the frontline public health workers.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Vivencio Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the government’s coronavirus response, has confirmed the “clarion call” issued by the government for people to serve in the mega swabbing centers.
Dizon, in a virtual press conference on Tuesday, said they hope medical workers, students, and other people will volunteer to serve in these facilities aimed at ramping up government testing for the coronavirus.
“Si Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ay nanawagan na rin po sa lahat ng mga kawani ng pamahalaan na mag-volunteer na po, lahat po ng mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan ngayon ay tinatawag na para po sumama at tumulong sa effort natin na ito (Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has appealed to government workers to volunteer. All government agencies are urged to join and help in this effort),” he said.
“Hindi lang kasi swabbers ang kailangan natin, kailangan natin ng mga encoders, kailangan natin ng mga barcoders, kailangan natin ang iba’t ibang mga volunteers para po tumulong sa napakalaking operasyon na ito sa ating napakalaking testing operation na gagawin natin sa loob nitong buwan ng Mayo at tuluy-tuloy na po ito hanggang sa mga susunod na buwan (We don’t just need swabbers, we also need encoders, barcoders and other volunteers to help in this massive testing operation that we will conduct this month of May and the coming months),” he said.
Under the 3T (test, trace, and treat) plan, Dizon said the government aims to accredit 58 more testing centers, to bring the total to 78 by the end of the month. The government also seeks to boost its daily testing capacity to 30,000 by May 30, according to Dizon.
The mega swabbing centers are located at the Philippine Arena Complex in Bulacan, Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay Cit, Enderun Tent McKinley Hill in Taguig City, and Palacio de Maynila in Roxas Boulevard. The centers are expected to conduct at least 5,000 tests a day.
Dizon thanked the government’s partners in the private sector in the establishment of the mega swabbing facilities, particularly the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, SM Group, Udenna Group, Razon Group, and the Ayala Group of Companies.