Iloilo City mayor decries red tape, delay in COVID-19 aid from national gov’t
ILOILO CITY–Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas has expressed frustration over how national government agencies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in his city.
“We really have to fend for ourselves if the national government will not be able to help us,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday (April 1).
“All local government units should stand up on our own. We should partner with the private sector and help ourselves because it is hard to wait for the (help) of the national government agencies,” he said.
After he thanked several private individuals and groups who have donated money, food and protective equipment for health workers, the mayor expressed frustration over how the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Health (DOH) are helping address the needs of local government units and their residents.
He said national government agencies should not insist on requirements and other bureaucratic processes as local government units and private donors are already giving support to help address the pandemic.
Treñas said he cannot understand why the DepEd is still requiring the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the use of public elementary schools as isolation areas for Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).
PUI are persons with COVID-19 symptoms who have traveled to areas with infected persons or those exposed to an infected person while PUM are those without symptoms but have a history of travel to areas with COVID-19 or have been exposed to infected persons.
The mayor said they plan to transfer PUI and PUM who have been quarantined at the Iloilo Central Elementary School to the PHINMA University of Iloilo which have offered its facilities for use.
“Why do they need to require us an MOA in this situation? What kind of people are they? Don’t they know what’s happening in the city?” Trenas said.
The city has been on enhanced community quarantine since March 20.
He also lashed out at the DSWD for requiring local government units to submit by April 3 a list of target beneficiaries of the national government’s social amelioration program for those worst hit economically by the pandemic.
Calling the April 3 deadline “stupid,” Treñas said LGUs were being required to come up with a list that would include informal settlers, drivers, construction workers, sari-sari store owners and those who lost their work and livelihood due to travel restrictions.
“How can we come up with (that) list on or before April 3? That’s impossible,” he said.
But DSWD Western Visayas director Evelyn Macapobre said it was the Department of Interior and Local Government that set the deadline.
“We understand that every one is in a hurry for the release of the financial assistance and the DILG is helping us fast track the process,” she told the INQUIRER.
She said requirements have been relaxed due to the emergency situation so that funds can be released to local government units.
Macapobre said while the DSWD intended to provide food packs to all local government units, the distribution has been hampered due to the inability of suppliers to fulfill orders, worth at least P20 million, in the region.
Treñas had earlier lamented the delay in the release of food aid by the DSWD regional office.
The DWSD gave 2,000 food packs for the city but Treñas said those for Western Visayas were not enough.
The mayor also called on the DOH to conduct aggressive COVID-19 testing especially on PUM and PUI.
“If there is no aggressive testing, how do we know who is positive People who are asymptomatic will continue going out of their houses,” he said.
He said that this was what’s being done in South Korea, Taiwan and Sweden.
He also called on the DOH to provide personal protective equipment to doctors and other frontline workers in hospitals. “I do not want to see another doctor die because of lack of PPE,” he said in a statement.
Edited by TSB
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