Following the confirmation of the community-based transmission of COVID-19, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed all barangay officials to ensure that residents stay in their homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or face sanctions.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that community-based transmissions can be stopped if the people are continuously reminded and advised to quit leaving their residences for unnecessary activities.
"Ito pa ay Total Lockdown. Hindi po ito biro. Tiyakin ninyong hindi pagala-gala ang mga residente sa inyong lugar at walang mga pagtitipon-tipon for we are trying to lessen the movement of people to the barest minimum. Ngunit, kung lalabas para bumili ng pagkain o gamot o pupunta sa ospital, kailangan po payagan natin,” says Año.
In his declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for the whole Luzon, President Duterte says the PBs should be at the forefront of the implementation of the ECQ guidelines in their communities to stop further community transmission. The DILG has issued Memorandum dated March 17, 2020 implementing the President's directive and detailing the steps that must be undertaken to implement the total lockdown in Luzon.
"Ngayon natin masusubukan kung gaano katapat ang mga barangay officials sa kanilang tungkulin. Kailangan kayo ng pamahalaan, kailangan kayo ng inyong mga kababayan," said the President.
In his Memorandum to all LGUs, Año said that barangay officials must lead in the enforcement of strict home quarantine in all households.
He reminds barangay officials to ensure that only one member of the family will be allowed to go outside to purchase basic necessities and provisions for food. He also says that areas in barangay where people gather for recreational activities must not be allowed.
Fiestas, karakols, parades, and other related public assemblies; common religious congregations; gaming parlours, computer gaming shops, wellness centers, cockpits arenas, public playgrounds, basketball courts, beaches, and public parks, tiangges, open dry good markets, and sidewalk vending are prohibited and should be closed.
"Konting sakripisyo lang po ang aming hinihiling sa ating mga pinuno ng barangay, maging sa ating mga kababayan. Bawal po ang pagala-gala," he says.
He says that barangays should also ensure that the citizens are practicing proper quarantine and social distancing measures, and that immediate health protocols are in place.
He said that barangay officials may face charges of gross neglect of duty, gross negligence and insubordination for failing to perform their responsibilities under the state of public health emergency.
DILG Secretary Año also reminds barangay officials anew to mobilize their Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT) and establish Barangay Isolation Units (BIU) amid the coronavirus crisis which has infected 193 patients as of this writing.
"Marami na pong mga barangay sa bansa ang bumuo ng kanilang mga BHERT ngayon po'y we need to have them mobilized for this is not a drill anymore. Ngayon po sila kailangan sa mga komunidad," he says.
Año says that BHERTs must visit the home of barangay residents that exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and of arriving passengers from a coronavirus-infected country within the locality to ensure that residents are all accounted for.
"Ang BHERT ang inaasahang siyang unang kikilos sa oras na may mga suspected COVID-19 cases sa barangay. Sa kanila magsisimula ang protocol sa pagdadala sa mga may sakit sa ospital kaya napakahalaga ng kanilang trabaho," he explains.
Meanwhile, he also encourages barangays to establish BIU where asymptomatic COVID-19 patients can be lodged to give enough space for critically ill patients in the hospitals. "Malaking bagay ang pagtatayo ng BIU sapagkat dito natin maaaring ilagak ang mga coronavirus patient na hindi kritikal ang mga sintomas. So that hospitals can concentrate on serious symptoms needing medical interventions," he says.