Metro mayors didn't expect COVID-19 surge 'would be this huge' — MMDA chief

Published August 23, 2021, 10:32 AM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Metro Manila mayors did not expect that the recent surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases “would be this huge” that they have to request for additional isolation facilities from the national government, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos said Monday, Aug. 23.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos (Ali Vicoy/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Although Metro mayors already adjusted the number of their isolation facilities prior to the recent wave of infections, Abalos said that school isolation facilities in the National Capital Region (NCR) have now reached 70 percent of their total capacity.

“Right now we’re still coping up with the 30 percent reserve. But we’re still preparing in the event that there will be more surges in the future,” he added.

Thus, the MMDA chair called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to open up more schools for isolation facilities as they “did not foresee that the surge would be this huge.”

He also requested the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) to coordinate the use of more hotels as isolation facilities as the capacity has reached 22 percent full.

Abalos, who works closely with local chief executives of Metro Manila cities in the pandemic response, said mayors are already “tired” but noted they are still doing everything to stop the surge—from vaccination programs to isolation efforts—and extend assistance to their constituents.

“On the ground, sa totoo lang po pagod na po ang mga mayors (they’re really tired)… I work with them, I could see, talagang nakaka-awa ang mga alkalde (I pity the mayors), from ayuda to the vaccination, to the isolation, everything hanggang sa pagpigil ng (until the prevention of) surge,” Abalos said in a town hall meeting with public officials and health experts.

The MMDA chair vowed that local government units will help businessmen and the national government to tide over the pandemic as “the way we see things, there’s already a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We’re almost there. We just need a little more patience. We don’t know if our new cases will still increase or go down but we will do everything,” Abalos said.