DILG uneasy over proposed downgrade to Alert Level 1 amid campaign period

With the current election campaign period, authorities need to be meticulous before deciding to place the country under the least restricted Alert Level 1 which is the most relaxed health protocol system against the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

In a briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 22, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya expressed grave concern over the prospect of imposing a more relaxed Alert Level system citing the extreme difficulty of enforcing the minimum public health standards (MPHS) especially with the start of the local campaign period on March 25.

“Dapat po pag isipan maiigi (downgrade to Alert Level 1). Pero kung mayors tatanungin nakahanda na sila for Alert Level 1 (We should think of it extensively. But if the mayors are to be asked, they are ready for Alert Level 1),’’ Malaya said.

Before deescalating to Alert Level 1, Malaya emphasized the need of ensuring proper ventilation in all areas where crowds converge, strengthen the country’s vaccination program against the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), urge establishments including churches to apply for safety seal certification to have third party assessment if they are compliant with government regulations,

In the National Capital Region (NCR), Malaya noted that the lockdown areas are now only in Manila with 45 families and 204 individuals being affected.

To boost the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Malaya cited the need for the government to focus on the inoculation of the individuals under the A2 and A3 categories explaining that an estimated three million senior citizens remain unvaccinated.

Under the country’s COVID-19 vaccination priorities, senior citizens are classified under the A2 group while persons with comorbidities belong to the A3 bracket.

“So we must at least vaccinate 80 percent of them para confident tayo pumasok sa Alert Level 1 (so that we feel confident when entering Alert Level 1) even if election period,’’ Malaya noted.

Further, Malaya explained that there was a COVID-19 surge in India in the past due to their election and religious activities where crowds are clustered.

The DILG spokesperson pointed out the need for the government to bring the vaccines at the barangay level since most of the unvaccinated persons come from the rural areas.

When the need arises, Malaya noted that the vaccines may be brought closer to the people with the house-to-house vaccination campaign.

Hopefully, Malaya maintained that the government’s intensified vaccination program should be enhanced further before the start of the local election campaign period. (Chito A. Chavez)