As part of efforts to intensify the contact tracing program, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) formally signed yesterday, Labor Day, the joint memorandum circular on the implementing guidelines for the hiring, training, and deployment of some 5,754 contact tracers (CTs) in the National Capital Region (NCR) for three months starting this May.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the number of contact tracers is 1,000 more than the 4,754 CTs that was originally committed by the DOLE to be hired under its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD Program (TUPAD) program.
“We thank DOLE for allocating more funds for the hiring of contact tracers. Sa tulong ng inisyatibong ito, mapipigilan natin ang patuloy na pagkalat ng coronavirus habang binibigyan ng hanapbuhay ang ating mga kababayang lubhang naapektuhan ng pandemiya,” Año said during the virtual signing on Saturday morning with DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III and MMDA Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jr.
So far, 13,304 have applied for the available positions and 2,696 have already been assessed/qualified.
Of the 5,754 new CTs, the DILG Secretary said that 1,347 will be deployed in Quezon City; 713 in Caloocan City; 707 in Manila; 349 in Pasig; 333 in Taguig; and 302 in Parañaque. Another 278 will be assigned in Valenzuela; 259 in Makati; 234 in Muntinlupa; 268 in Las Piñas; and 209 in Marikina. The remaining 192 will be in Pasay; 171 in Mandaluyong; 161 in Navotas; 152 in Malabon; 47 in San Juan; and 32 in Pateros.
This January, the DILG already deployed 2,381 contact tracers to the NCR for a six-month contract until June. The DILG utilized the unreleased balance from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and the P500M Contact Tracing budget in the 2021 General Appropriations Act for the hiring of the additional contact tracers. All over the country, the DILG deployed 15,000 contact tracers last January.
In March, the DILG deployed an additional 802 contact tracers composed of police officers and BFP personnel from other parts of the country under low-risk category. All the contact tracers are assigned to the Local Contact Tracing Task Forces under the supervision of the City/Municipal Health Officers of the LGUs.
To signal the start of deployment of the contact tracers, there was also a ceremonial simultaneous deployment of five contact tracers wearing TUPAD t-shirts and showing their contracts of service at the Quezon City, Manila, Muntinlupa, Paraňaque, and Pateros Public Employment Service Offices during the virtual ceremony.
“This deployment is part of our continuous effort to intensify our contact tracing program to contain Covid-19. Simula na ng kanilang pagtatrabaho bilang contact tracers at simula na rin ng dagdag na alalay at pag-asa para sa ating mga kababayan na makakabangon tayong muli mula sa pandemiyang ito,” said Año.
Under DOLE-DILG-MMDA JMC 2021-01, DOLE allocated P280.714-million for the three months’ salary of 5,754 contract tracers at P537/day which is the minimum wage rate at the National Capital Region under its TUPAD program.
The new Contact Tracers shall also be enrolled in GSIS Group Personal Accident Insurance (GPAI). They will undergo orientation on safety and health and provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as long sleeves TUPAD t-shirt, face mask, face shield, and ID.
The DILG, on the other hand, shall facilitate the creation of a selection committee in every local government unit in NCR which shall be responsible for the screening and assessment of the applicants based on the guidelines of DOLE’s TUPAD program. The selection committee shall be composed of the Local Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Manager as chairperson, and the DILG Field Office Director and a representative from the City Health Department/ Local Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (LESU) as members.
Moreover, the DILG through the DILG-NCR shall also conduct the training of all the new CTs using the module developed by the Local Government Academy, Department of Health-Metro Manila Center for Health Development (DOH-MMCHD), and Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC).
On the other hand, the MMDA is tasked to assist in the dissemination of information on the hiring of TUPAD contact tracers, monitor the implementation of the project, and help in the proper dissemination of information of the project.
Strengthening early detection
During the activity, the DILG Chief stressed that strengthening early-detection capabilities will help the country overcome the new variants of the COVID-19 virus. He said new variants prompted the government to re-impose stricter quarantine measures and once again sacrifice our economy for the sake of public health.
He also lauded the battle-hardened local government units (LGUs) and their respective local chief executives who have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.
Año likewise urged the stakeholders to continue their collaborative work in this season of difficulty stressing that “this pandemic calls for a whole-of-nation approach and initiatives such as the TUPAD Contact Tracing Project which gives us a fighting chance in defeating this unseen enemy.”