Unity needed in fight vs COVID-19
One of the major stumbling blocks, if not the biggest, in the national effort to contain the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any future pandemic is the devolution of local health units under the Local Government Code.
Before 1987, all provincial, city and municipal health officers together with their assistants were directly appointed by the health secretary and received their pay from the national government. In its place, the Department of Health (DOH) appointed regional directors to coordinate with local health units on their participation in national programs.
Today, all health officers in a local government unit (LGU) are directly appointed by the governor or city/municipal mayor with their salaries sourced locally. The politicians also control the local health boards and this is the reason why we see varying playbooks in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
There are also big disparities between the numbers presented by the DOH and LGUs on COVID-19 cases. Action plans are slow to get off the ground in barangays that are, of course, largely controlled by politicians.
There is also the refusal of many LGUs to accept locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to the point of isolating their own provinces or cities despite the fact that these LSIs have been cleared by the DOH for travel.
These problems have actually forced the administration to adopt a “big brother” plan to help rein in the LGUs and get their support for the plans of the National Anti-COVID-19 Task Force. Each resident Cabinet member was assigned to their respective city mayors to sort out and resolve coordination challenges between the DOH and LGUs.
For many weeks now, the DOH has been planning to implement the World Health Organization-endorsed Dharavi-Mumbai slum project in India (house-to-house check for COVID-19 symptoms), which is very applicable to Metro Manila. But it barely moved because of the process of reorienting LGUs one by one.
We have been in quarantine for almost six months and we still don’t know where we are going!
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If there is one industry making a killing in the middle of a pandemic, it is none other than online sabong, complete with betting links and available on mobile and online.
I am not aware if these daily pintakasi were authorized by the Philippine Gamefowl Commission, LGUs or the Games and Amusement Board, Philippine National Police or even the National Telecommunications Commission.
There are five stag-big events with 150 scheduled fights that start at 9 a.m. daily and gross millions of pesos.
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Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s rehabilitation and beautification of the Lagusnilad underpass is making us proud of our city.
We have seen the transformation of Jones Bridge across Pasig River, the dancing fountains at the Bonifacio monument and the former Mehan Garden, and the lighting up of España Boulevard toward the University Belt.
The Lagusnilad underpass connects Manila City Hall to Intramuros. The beautiful murals inside provide a historic view of the country’s greatness and rich history. We should honor Moreno, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the University of Sto. Tomas College of Architecture and the mural artists led by Marianne Rios, Jano Gonzales and Ianna Engaño.
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