‘Shot in the arm’: DILG hails additional P5B fund under ‘Bayanihan 2’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday welcomed the P5 billion budget infusion in the department under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or “Bayanihan 2” bill, to cover expenses to be incurred with planned improvements in its contact tracing efforts against the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“We wish to thank Senate President Tito Sotto, Senators Ralph Recto, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara and all the other senators who championed this cause as well as the members of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Allan Cayetano for this significant shot in the arm for our country’s contact tracing program,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, vice-chair of the National Task Force COVID-19, said in a statement.
“This is really good news because we can now hire a maximum of 50,000 more contact tracers to meet the WHO recommended ratio of one contact tracer for every 800 people. They will supplement the 85,000 contact tracers we now have and allow us to double the number of contact tracers in LGUs with rising cases, especially in Metro Manila,” he added.
The DILG earlier asked Congress to allocate P5 billion out of the P162 billion under the proposed Bayanihan 2 to bankroll the hiring and training of 50,000 contact tracers.
The Senate ratified the bill on Thursday after the bicameral conference committee approved the bill’s reconciled version. The approved measure has a regular appropriation of P140 billion and P25 billion for standby funding.
Out of the P140 billion, P5 billion was allocated for hiring and training additional contact tracers.
Once the bill is signed into law, Año said they will recruit more contact tracers as soon as the funds were released by the Department of Budget and Management.
Interior Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, said the “successful” response for COVID-19 in Cebu City and Baguio was attributed to aggressive contact tracing.
“But the biggest game-changer in Cebu City is the aggressive contract tracing. Before they only had 5 teams, now they have 130 teams implementing the (Baguio City Mayor Benjamin) Magalong formula of tracing 37 contacts per COVID patient,” Malaya said.
“By doing so, they were able to immediately isolate those infected and cut the transmission before it infects the community. Now they see a downtrend and their cases are now manageable,” he added.
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