A digital space for local leaders to share experiences on pandemic response and management

Published December 8, 2021, 4:32 PM

by MB Technews

After the successful launch of the “Pandemic Playbook: A Local Chief Executive’s Guide to Handling COVID-19 and Other Future Pandemics” in July 2021, the Kaya Natin Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, in collaboration with the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations (PAPO) and MSD in the Philippines, conducted a virtual regional caravan on November 15 to 19, 2021 with local chief executives (LCE) in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The caravan provided the local leaders a digital space to share their experiences and best practices on pandemic response and management in their respective local units.

MSD President and Managing Director Dr. Beaver Tamesis, opened the program on all three legs, lauding the partners behind the pandemic playbook and regional caravan- from Kaya Natin Movement, PAPO, and the featured local government units (LGUs), for providing meaningful opportunities to come together to find solutions to new challenges brought by the pandemic.


“The pandemic playbook serves as a resource for developing policies at the local level in managing COVID-19 and other public health emergencies in the future,” Dr. Tamesis mentioned. In line with this, Dr. Tamesis also stated MSD’s commitment to supporting organizations and LGUs dedicated to serving the Filipino patient.

“As a company dedicated to saving and improving lives for the last 130 years globally, and over 25 years here in the Philippines, we at MSD recognize that we have a special responsibility to health. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MSD has collaborated with stakeholders across different sectors to find and develop sustainable solutions; from information dissemination of relevant innovations to equitable access to quality healthcare,” Dr. Tamesis added.

The playbook highlights six key areas in case management: a) incident command system, b) border control, c) testing, d) contact tracing, e) isolation and quarantine, and f) referral system. During the digital regional caravan, local chief executives discussed the key areas they focused on that served their local municipality well during the height of the pandemic.

Following the mayors’ discussions on their pandemic response and management programs was a question and answer portion and the closing messages from PAPO President Maria Fatima “Girlie” Garcia-Lorenzo, and the Vice President of the Philippines, Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo.

Case management practices

For the Luzon leg, Mayor Trina Firmalo Fabic of Odiongan, Romblon; Mayor Herminigildo Velasco of San Gabriel, La Union; and Mayor Madelaine Alfelor of Iriga, Camarines Sur, presented their respective LGU’s COVID-19 response. Among the highlighted efforts and management programs were border control, improving their incident command systems, and information dissemination. Executive orders implementing checkpoints in the entrance and exit points, face-to-face information dissemination practices, and strengthening their incident command systems enabled their communities to keep the number of COVID-related cases to a minimum. The assistance, willingness, and cooperation of the barangay officials and the communities themselves also allowed these programs to be implemented successfully.

Access to essential services and protecting vulnerable groups

Mayors Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City; Eunice Uy-Babalcon of Paranas, Samar; and Lovell Anne Yu of Alangalang, Leyte were the featured local chief executives to present for the Visayas leg of the caravan. Common in all the mayor’s pandemic response and management programs was providing access to essential health services for the vulnerable sectors in their respective communities while utilizing available science and technology tools to make risk-informed decisions.

Quarantine facilities, a molecular laboratory, and an online delivery platform for health essentials were some of the initiatives implemented and discussed by the mayors. Regular checkups, health awareness events, vaccination information drives, and systematic vaccination rollouts were also conducted in key cities and far-flung areas to ensure their health needs were attended to.

Data management and risk communication

The focus on the final day of the caravan was the pandemic response and management programs on data management and risk communication of Mayors Oscar Moreno of Cagayan De Oro and Sitti Djalia Turabin Hataman of Isabela City, Basilan. For both LGUs, handling misinformation was a priority as the country slowly eased its restrictions. Apart from advocating and implementing vaccine rollouts, the mayors focused on utilizing all possible communication channels available. They used offline and digital means to disseminate information on the current situation, allowing them to communicate with their communities regardless of potential signal fluctuations in far-flung areas.

Lessons learned from all

As mentioned by the mayors in the caravan, COVID-19 is now a part of everyone’s lives. It is best to be prepared for the worst while still hoping for the best.

Kaya Natin Movement, in collaboration with MSD and PAPO, executed the pandemic playbook and the caravan as means to share best practices among local chief executives and allow them to adopt those that fit their region’s pandemic response and management programs. As PAPO’s Lorenzo and Vice President Robredo mentioned in all three days of the caravan, the insights shared through the pandemic playbook and the caravan are important as they showed how good leadership is essential in managing the current situation. These kinds of leaders were the modern-day heroes of the country as they work together toward a better normal.

“I truly believe that the Filipino spirit has the capacity to rise beyond the challenges of the present, and create a kinder, fairer, more humane nation for ourselves, for our families, and for the generations that come after. Buo ang paniniwala kong, kaya natin,” Vice President Robredo shared.