Ormoc Mayor Gomez urges IATF to fix guidelines after Balik Probinsya mix-up

By: - Reporter / @CMarquezINQ
/ 04:31 PM May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez urged the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to take the lead to ensure proper and speedy coordination among government agencies when it comes to transporting people either through the Balik Probinsya Program or helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) return to their hometown.

“Sabi ko kay (Interior) Secretary (Eduardo) Año, kaya nga ho may IATF (Inter Agency Task Force)… an inter-agency task force sana from above kayo na yung maging maayos para when you trickle down the order, all that we have to do is receive them…receive them properly without infecting other people from our area of jurisdiction,” Gomez said on Tuesday over CNN Philippines when asked about the issue on Balik Probinsya program.


(I told Secretary Año that the reason there is an inter-agency task force is to ensure that the policy will be implemented smoothly so that when you trickle down the order, all that we have to do is receive them…receive them properly without infecting other people from our area of jurisdiction.)

On Monday, Gomez announced in a Facebook post that the national government suddenly sent them undocumented and untested individuals who availed themselves of the Balik Probinsya Program as their city is already COVID-19 free due to strict protocols.


Gomez said he is not against the government initiative but decried the lack of coordination among the agencies.

“I’m not against the program (Balik Probinsya) in fact we really want to receive them except we need proper documentation and proper coordination,” Gomez said.

Gomez said he told Año on Monday night that they are willing to accept Balik Probinsya residents as long as they have documentation to confirm that the arriving folks are residents of Ormoc, that they have been tested for COVID-19 and that the results yielded negative.

“Sabi ko wala kaming problema diyan Secretary (Año). Give us all the documentation, let us know sino yung parating dito sino yung uuwi. That way, we can verify kung taga Ormoc sila,” he said.

(I said I have no problems but give us all the documentation and let us know who will arrive and who will return to their homes. That way, we can verify if they are from Ormoc.)

He hoped that the DILG could coordinate with them to speed up the process for the Balik Probinsya beneficiaries.

“I’m hoping na okay na sila because twice ko tinawagan yung regional director ng DILG and twice niya sinabi on their part  na sa regional level, wala talagang coordination with them,” he said.


(I’m hoping that they are okay because I called the regional director of DILG twice and he told me twice that on their part on the regional level, there is no coordination.)

Tacloban remains COVID-19 free since March. Gomez said their feat was due to an early imposition of strict travel protocols.

Still, he said they have prepared a quarantine facility with over 200 beds. However, he lamented that they are very cautious because doctors from the Ormoc District Hospital have been pulled out.

“The problem kasi the only government hospital here in Ormoc tinanggal pa yung doctors dito. The government hospital in Ormoc, the Ormoc District Hospital is not functioning as a primary hospital so that is also a big concern for us,” he said but did not explain why doctors were pulled out.

(The problem here is the only government hospital in Ormoc had to pull out doctors, The government hospital in Ormoc, the Ormoc District Hospital is not functioning as a primary hospital so that is also a big concern for us.)

‘Isolated case’

Año, meanwhile, said the Ormoc incident was an “isolated case,” saying there was a mishap with the “shift of flight” for those who availed the Balik Probinsya program.

“Merong mga kasamahan natin mag-announce ng shift of flight, pagdating sa airport, maka-cancel yung shift ng flight. Pagdating dun di na sila (residents) aalis dun  na sila, so napipilitan ngayon magproduce ang gobyerno ng another mode of transportation,” he said over dzBB when asked if he talked to Gomez about the issue.

(Our DILG members announced a shift of flight, but as they arrived at the airport, the shift of flight was canceled. When the residents arrive their at the airport they will stay there so the government will be forced to produce another mode of transportation.)

“Nababago na ngayon yung timing o scheduling dahil mabilisang solusyon kaya yun ang nangyari na naisend mo na hindi maayos yung coordination pero ito isolated case so siguraduhin nating di mauulit iyon,” he added.

(The timing or scheduling is changed because we have to make up an immediate solution so what happened there was they sent the residents without proper coordination but this is an isolated case so we will make sure that it won’t happen again.)

Año also noted that DILG must give a three-day notice to local government units before sending Balik Probinsya beneficiaries.

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