The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reiterated Friday, May 28, that punong barangays (PBs) or barangay captains play a major part in preventing mass gathering activities amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that mass gatherings have been prevalent lately which require more appropriate efforts and measures at the barangay level to prevent the occurrence of “super spreader” events.
He said that enforcing the minimum public health standards (MPHS) cannot solely be enforced by the local government units (LGUs) without the help of the barangay captains, who are tasked to localize the implementation of national government policies.
“The reality is that violations on MPHS and super spreaders happen in barangays under our PBs. Itong karagdagang tungkulin na ito (The added tasks) will give them extra leverage to police their kabarangays (townmates) and to counter any super spreader events to happen again,’’ Año said.
Año said that the DILG will issue a memorandum circular (MC) assigning tasks to the PBs to intensify the campaign against the holding of mass gathering activities.
The circular will also entail the organization of Barangay COVID-19 Operations Center (BCOC) and Barangay Tanod Health Patrols (BTHP) or Barangay Disiplina Brigades; provision of a hotline or emergency numbers for reporting of mass gathering incidents; and the strict monitoring and implementation of MPHS.
Año noted that the PBs are also given a greenlight to regularly inspect sports, recreation, and leisure facilities and regulate, limit, prohibit public gatherings such as drinking sprees, sabong (cockfighting), tupada (illegal cockfighting), fiesta, parades and other religious events and cultural festivals.
He added that the PBs, in coordination with the barangay tanods (village security personnel), homeowners association, and other similar groups are expected to provide assistance to community pantries all over the country as the safety of the beneficiaries and organizers “is top priority.”
The barangay chiefs are also directed to coordinate with the City/Municipal COVID-19 Operations Center, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for assistance.
He noted that the BCOC should have a direct link to PNP and BFP stations for a seamless coordination between law enforcers in running after health protocol violators.
“PBs and other barangay officials are expected to implement measures consistent with IATF regulations, policies and guidelines of the DILG, Department of Health (DOH) and other national government agencies,” Año said.
Increasing vaccine confidence through info drive
Meanwhile, Año revealed that 42,046 barangays and its officials are slated to assist in the information campaign down at the grassroots to generate demand and allay misinformation and doubts on COVID-19 vaccines.
Año said that the proximity of the barangay officials to the people will be its main arsenal in communicating the urgent need for the public to take advantage of available COVID-19 vaccines.
Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2021-19, Año said barangay officials can conduct assemblies, town hall meetings, and other forms of local engagement activities with complete compliance to MPHS to entice the public to get the jab and be protected against COVID-19.