LGUs outside NCR not yet ready to enforce COVID-19 Alert Level System

Published October 21, 2021, 1:19 PM

by Chito Chavez

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Thursday, Oct 1, that provincial governments are still unprepared to adapt the Alert Level System which relaxes health protocols and opened more businesses in the midst of the coronavirus disease- 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Alert Level System was pilot tested in Metro Manila and later expanded to other provinces.

“Sa akin kasi maganda yung Alert Level System (health protocol) kaya lang parang hindi pa talaga naiintindihan ng husto (the system) ng ibang LGUs (local government units) kaya nagaalanganin silang ipatupad (In my personal view, the Alert Level System is more appropriate but some LGUs still do not have the full grasp that is why they are unsure of implementing it),’’ Año disclosed.

Año stressed that the more relaxed Alert Level System opens up more economic activities, striking fear among LGU officials of the occurrence of the COVID-19 surge.

“Mahihirapan sila sa pagimplement ng granular lockdown kasi syempre biglang ano e, biglang change of system (They will find difficulty in implementing granular lockdowns due to the sudden change of system),’’ he added.

Before the advent of the Alert Level System, the community quarantine classification were the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ) and the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

“Pag sinabi mong MECQ, GCQ, tigil na lahat oo. Ang aanuhin (will enforce) mo na lang is manghuhuli ka na lang kung may lalabag (When you say MECQ, GCQ all is stopped yes. You just have to focus on arresting violators),’’ Año disclosed.

The DILG chief explained that the Alert Level System may have much more guidelines to observe but in exchange the economy is invigorated providing more job opportunities to the people.

On Oct 20., the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to defer the expansion of the Alert Level System outside Metro Manila from the scheduled Oct. 20 to Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 due to the supposed lack of preparation of the concerned LGUs.

LPP President and Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco Jr. explained that LGUs need ample time to pass executive orders, review the guidelines for the enforcement, and disseminate public information on the implementation of the new alert level system which would replace the community quarantine status.

Personally, Año admitted favoring the Nov. 1 deferment of the implementation of the Alert level system in areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) since the postponement request of the governors is just a few days away.

But, Año stressed that the LGUs, particularly the governors and mayors should study thoroughly the guidelines of the Alert Level System to allow its proper implementation and to enable the people to go back to work.

“Maraming economic activity pero at the same time binabantayan natin yung (places) mga magkaroon ng (COVID-19) case transmission (There will be more economic activity but at the same we will guard those with case transmission),’’ Año said.

Malacañang announced on Oct. 19 its expansion in Negros Oriental and Davao Occidental which were placed under Alert Level 4 while Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Siquijor, Davao City, and Davao del Norte are all under Alert Level 3.

Areas under Alert Level 2 include Batangas, Quezon, Lucena City, Bohol, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu, Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental.

Under the IATF guidelines, alert level systems classified from alert levels 1 to 5 will cover entire cities or municipalities where the transmission of the COVID-19 infections will be managed and minimized. (Chito A. Chavez)